There are many among us who started online marketing in a time where social media was still not a requirement of being online, and certainly not of running a business. Now, even the smallest of freelancers know that interacting with and going after clients on social media can mean a huge boon to their bottom line.
That said, it could be really easy to just try and be ‘everywhere’ and then not end up actually getting any traction on the platform we choose. Let’s be honest here, social media platforms come and go, and the ones that are popular are crowded, while the ones that aren’t overcrowded yet are a risk because they never will be. New or old however, all social media platforms have certain types of content, and by extension people, that will do well on them. Further, different audiences tend to be in different places when spending time in the online social world, which is an important consideration. Let’s take a look at how you can break down a social platform’s viability for your business.
First of all, are your target customers even there? If your targets are middle-aged men, Pinterest is probably not going to be that valuable to you. While broad awareness is great, being good at social media takes a lot of time, and you want to be focusing that time in areas where it’s most likely to result in leads (right?). Evaluate the demographics of who spends their time on a platform and make sure there’s overlap with your target market.
Next, evaluate whether you will be good at producing the type of content that does well there. Depending on the platform you’re looking at, you can probably find a way to search for or hunt down posts that are popular and getting lots of engagement. These should give you an idea of what performs well. Take note of the format (picture, video, etc.), and also the content itself (what words are used? Are words used at all? Etc.).
Everyone has different skillsets, and if neither you nor anyone on your team has the skills to create great content of that particular type, it might be a tough journey for you. For example, if you’re not good at framing images or thinking up what makes a potentially mundane picture more interesting, then Instagram might not be a great place to be.
Finally, if you are good at creating the type of content you see as necessary on the channels you want to be on, you need to map out how much time you’ll have to dedicate it. People by and large follow the people who put the most time into creating the most interesting content, so it’s important to evaluate if you’ll be able to compete.
Granted you can meet all of those criteria, well, give yourself the green light and start making moves!
It happens all too often: You stumble upon a product to promote, or someone’s personal website and it looks like it was created in 1999. You cringe and move on, and you know what sucks for that person?
Their potential buyers and leads do as well. Everyone may think that their site is the special snowflake exception, and that it has a sort of old fashioned charm, but then everyone would be mistaken.
Landing pages change in effectiveness with consumer trends and buying habits, so it’s important to make changes to your own pages to reflect these. Here are a couple of major changes that have happened in the last 5-10 years, which affect how people buy online:
1. People are more sensitive to BS. Every landing page used to begin with a giant claim:
“WHO ELSE WANTS TO BE ABLE TO DO X IN ONLY Y HOURS WITHOUT LEAVING YOUR BED!”
In short, headlines were sensational. They sounded exciting, but people have been let down enough to times to want to avoid them. In general, as customers got more comfortable online, they realized that anyone could say anything they wanted about themselves, and that they often did. While this increased aversion to sensationalism may or may not have affected your target market to a large degree yet, it’s coming, so make changes accordingly: Honesty beats sensationalism in many markets now.
2. People expect more of design.
Websites now generally look a lot better than they did even just a few years ago. Design software that’s suable by just about anyone has meant that it’s become increasingly easy to not have a sucky page, and people have come to expect this.
If someone lands on a page with the standard sales letter formatting with non-flat elements and giant, multicolored text everywhere, they’re going to bounce and never come back. Often times, seeing one of these pages makes people think that it has been abandoned or is no longer relevant, why else would the owner have left it looking so poorly?
3. Text isn’t your only option.
Remember when everyone started using video landing pages? The buzz of their effectiveness would soon spread like wildfire. The reality is that using different types of media on your site helps to engage different kinds of users, and accommodating all of them can help you achieve higher conversions. While you want one intended path through a page to be clear, it’s a good idea to still give users who want to learn about your product or offering in a different way the option to go somewhere and do so.
Finally, let’s stress something that hasn’t changed: Benefits vs features. Yes, the old adage holds true, people are much more likely to respond to specifics about how their life will be changed by making a purchase decision than they are to hearing about all of the bells and whistles your product has.
Of course, it’s a good idea to avoid that sensationalist trap here as well. Honesty and value win in 2016.
When it comes to marketing in the online world, it’s easy to get caught up in the sale. After all, we run our businesses to make money, right?
But that’s just the thing: Too many of us don’t really run businesses at all. Instead, we run sales machines, with the sole purpose of optimized conversion rates, email open rates, click-through rates, and the list goes on. While that’s all part of the process, it’s not everything. And what it certainly is not is sustainable in the long-term.
The markets we exist in will always change, so it’s important to be preparing yourself and your company as a brand that can shift with the market and continue to be sustainable even if the exact products or services you sell need to change. Here are a few ways to work on making sure that happens.
1) Be the one giving more, always
People establish brand loyalty through a number of interactions and factors, but many of them (if not all) can be aggregated into one overall measure: how much value you gave them. In general, you can always be the one giving more and still end up making more money in the end. This will help to endear people to your brand.
For example, a few years ago, everyone and their mother was attacking the affiliate marketing with techniques that might not have been sustainable. The ones who didn’t always shout me me me were probably able to make a fairly smooth transition to a new product. Those who failed to build real trust and value, however, probably started over at ground zero.
2) Have a brand!
Okay, admittedly, this should have been number one, but too many people focused on a web of microsites, etc. don’t have an actual central brand that they can move with over time – they have a number of independent sales machines, and that’s it.
If you find yourself in this position, start making a plan to ensure you actually are able to transition into having a brand that you can grow with throughout your career. If you don’t have a separate site for yourself or your company, don’t have a logo, etc., it might be time to think about these things.
3) Built more than a list.
Not long ago, just the fact that you were building an email list meant that you were ahead of the general online marketing crowd. Now, however, you’ve got to go even further to standout. Email open rates have been steadily declining, and while the platform is far from useless, it makes sense to be building a larger, more interactive community. Social media is certainly a place to pull this off, especially if you’re confident in your ability to pull off consistent, engaging content (or at least curate it).
It may be that some of these are more applicable than others when it comes to your own business, but it’s also probably likely that all 3 can be applied for just about anyone. Keep this in mind when you evaluate how you’re going to take your personal brand forward!
Social media is a cliche these days. People know they need to “be on it” and they know they need to “get serious about it”, but when push comes to shove very few people are giving their channels proper attention. It makes sense, too, results are generally slower on social but they come with the added earned bonus of often building more loyal customers.
Additionally, customers simply expect more of the brands and people that they choose to do business with these days, and communicating in a personal manner is part of that expectation. So, besides just “being there,” here are a few tried and true tips for social growth from the guys and gals at the top.
1) Keep your social making sense for each platform
Make sure that the social you put out isn’t lazy. Specifically, don’t use the autoshare feature to other platforms just because it exists. If it looks like you don’t care about creating anything actually interesting on your Facebook page because every single post is an automatic copy of a post from Instagram, it makes the value of being on Facebook pretty negligible: If it’s clear you don’t care about your page, why should other people care to interact with it, let alone click through on your more promotional posts?
2) Try out a new platform at every opportunity
Yeah, a lot of platforms flop, but do you know how well the first few people who started doing really well on Instagram did? Or the first 10 people to start ‘funny meme’ type pages on Facebook? Early adopters have the chance to make an absolute killing on social, so it’s worth spending a couple of weeks or even months trying out new things as they come along. If something becomes the next Twitter or Snapchat after you laughed it off a year ago, you’re not going to be happy with yourself.
3) Reply to everything
People love feeling appreciated, so make sure you take advantage of this psychological trigger in your social interactions. If someone has opted to tweet at you, or send you a message somewhere, they’ve basically opened the door for you to have a free interaction with them and start building a rapport – take advantage of it!
Plus, you never know whose eye you’ve caught and what opportunities might arise from taking the time to get back to them. That alone makes it worth taking the chance – if a big shot caught something of yours, paying attention to them for 10 seconds might just land you a huge opportunity.
4) Have a better schedule than the next guy
Of course, you can’t go wrong with being better organized than the guys and gals you’re competing against. Seriously, too many people “wing it” in social. Instead, try to source content for 3-7 days out. When you release original content, use a tool like CoScheduler to have it shared every week or two for the next several months.
Copywriting is one of those easy to learn, hard to master essential skills of online marketing that is dogged by so many small mistakes that can add up and bring down even what seems like the most incredible piece of content upon first inspection.
This is specifically about uncovering some of the weak points of many sales letters, and squashing them out of your own. Let’s jump right into it.
Your traffic is misaligned
Alright, curveball, this doesn’t have to do with your copywriting exactly, but it is a reason why your sales letter isn’t pulling the weight you wanted it to. Sometimes, people craft an amazing piece of copy only to find out (if they’re luck they find out, at least), that what they’ve made isn’t striking a chord with the people who are actually visiting the site.
In fact, it’s all too common to find that the traffic sources feeding your cite are the root of your conversion problems.
Your customers are smarter than you give them credit for
More and more often, it’s not just career marketers who cringe at cheesy headlines and too-good-to-be-true testimonials and claims. As most markets become more educated and used to doing research and business online, there’s an increased level skepticism that needs to dictate how you write your copy. Namely, you can’t make the same claims you did in 2005 unless you’ve got some really kickass, indisputable evidence to back them up. Even then, you’ll have to be good to make them believe that evidence is as real as you say it is. Just look at the outrage over various election and voter fiascos this election cycle â€“ people are paying more attention, and social media makes it exceedingly easy.
Your design is detracting from your words
If you can’t write you content like it’s ten years ago, you can’t design your site like it either. It’s absolutely insane the same kind of longform, cheesy, over the top sales letters exist right now for products that are still relevant and could still be selling extremely well, if only their approach was changed.
Sometimes having bad design on a sales letter page is just the result of too much DIY spirit or of a poor designer hire, but more often it’s that people have gotten comfortable with a working sales funnel, even as it slowly declines over time, and haven’t gotten around to reworking and testing all over again.
Your pricing is too low
Interestingly enough, it’s been shown that people tend to think that a lower case indicates a lower quality, and when people have more skepticism of the online marketing world in general right now, it’s not hard to see how they might not see your $27 ebook as the epitome of quality and complete solutions. This is especially true if the price has remained constant over a long period of years where other goods have inflated and increased in cost.
Of course there are other issues – plenty to go around! – with sales letters, but these are a few that more than a few people have forgotten to consider, and have ended up losing out on sales for it.
Heard of a Facebook dark post? Yes? No? Either way, we’re going to have a discussion about them today. Dark posts, a colloquialism for Facebook’s unpublished posts ad product, are a way to post things from your own Facebook page that can show up as posted by your page, but only to certain people.
Alright, so you know how normally when you publish a Facebook ad, you choose which people will see it? You can dig down into all kinds of demographics and information to help make sure that you’ve tailored an ad to specific audiences. Dark posts allow you to dig into that same type of targeting, but within the people who like your page.
For example, let’s say you have a clothing website with 3,000 Facebook likes. You want to promote a sale you’re having on all products, but know that it won’t be relevant for women to see ads with pictures of men’s jeans in them, and that you’re not going to sell many dresses by showing them to your male audience.
So, instead of compromising and creating a more general post that will be seen by everyone on your page, or creating two separate posts for men and women and publishing them both (ensuring everyone sees one post that’s not relevant to them), you can use a Dark or Unpublished post instead. You can make it look like your page published a post about dresses for everyone, but really only the women who like your page will be able to see, read, and engage with it (like, comment, etc.). On the other hand, the men on your page will think you posted an ad for men’s jeans and be able to interact with it accordingly.
Here’s another example: As a marketer who helps people with Pinterest marketing but also Twitter marketing, you could create completely different posts that target the fans of your page that you feel are most likely to be using those platforms in their marketing efforts. The possibilities here really are endless.
Unpublished posts can be created in a couple of different ways, but Facebook is working to unify them so that there aren’t so many tools to create similar ad products. For example, there has been a lot of confusion in the past over whether to use the standard Facebook ads page or their ‘Power Editor’ to create your ads, leading to many tutorials getting confusing when people find themselves in a completely different interface than the screenshots they’re trying to follow.
Unpublished or Dark posts are also important with the recently diminished organic reach of Facebook pages. For the same reason boosting a post became so popular, Dark posts help you better reach people who might never see your content unless they explicitly come to your page (and most people prefer to just hang out in their own timelines, understandably). Except Dark posts are an even better option, since you can help keep them from being shown to people they aren’t relevant to, and thus help keep your page’s engagement score from dropping.