Not to sound bigoted, but let’s just face the facts: some customers are more valuable than others. There! I said it! More specifically, customers who can be classified as “early adopters,” especially in the realm of digital technology, are major players in the success or failure of a 21st century business and/or product. Early adopters are so important because they’re often also your influences; they run blogs, Youtube channels, and everything they say has triple or quadruple-digit retweets on twitter. Get on the good side of an early adopter, and they can bring with them hundreds or thousands of average users. In some writings on the adoption curve and life cycle of new products in our day and age, early adopters are touted as those who can guide a new business across the “chasm.” The chasm is the period of uncertainty where it is uncertain whether a product will make the jump from something a few people try out to a technology that is adopted and integrated by the majority.
Today, we’re going to talk about how you can help your products and businesses be as attractive to early adopters as possible, and how you can best leverage that attention.
1) Find a genuine need. Depending on where you’re at, this might be advice coming too late, but the first step to getting your product into the hands of eager early adopters is to make sure you’re filling a genuine need. People have “cool” ideas all the time, but that doesn’t mean they’re ideas that will come to be known as “needed.” Sometimes, however, your big idea can simply be an improvement of another system (think: Facebook usurping Myspace), however the barrier to entry with these ideas is higher because your product has to be so good it entices people to drop something they’ve grown accustom to.
2) Have a proper incentive system. Don’t just offer to give people free products, give something above and beyond that. For example, you might take a note from the gaming industry: Often times, these companies will offer their early adopters exclusive titles for their profiles or unique character looks called “skins” that won’t be available ever again after the initial testing or adopting period. Think about what rewards could be relevant to your audience in the same way. Maybe you’re launching a mobile ecommerce platform and you offer “veteran seller” badges or other marks of credibility to those who sign up and start using your site within the first 3 months, etc.
3) Communication will make or break you. The world we market in today is one of two-way communication. Social media. You know, that kind of thing. You should be regularly reaching out to and interacting with your potential early adopter audiences through the channels that they use most. Beyond recruitment, this also expands to post-adoption feedback and support. Early adopters will likely be using these channels to either get in touch with you directly or to broadcast their opinions about your product or service. Either way, you should be monitoring social and traditional channels all the time to respond in a timely, appropriate way.
As an entrepreneur, it’s far too easy to find yourself a bit disorganized and losing time throughout the day. As many people grow up and begin their work under the dynamic of a boss-employee relationship, it can be easy to have a bit of a crisis when first learning to self-manage. Unfortunately, that’s a mistake that’s not just left to the newbies.
While you may have avoided the disorganization and task jumping plague, here are just a few tips for making sure that your day goes to the most important tasks on your plate, and in the right proportion.
1. Don’t just make a to-do list, have time slots. For example, write out approximately how much time you think each task will take, and then assign it a time in your day. To-do lists have a weakness, and that’s their lack of boundaries. Too often, we can let tasks drag on and on because we just want to have them done and ‘check them off’. When each task has a specific time allotted, we tend to be pretty good at actually sticking to that allotment.
2. Check email at 2-3 specific times throughout the day. The nice thing about email is that it’s a form of communication that people don’t expect to be instant. Even as everyone has their phones on them all day and can check their emails constantly, most people still understand that email communication is asynchronous. Most professionals waste an ungodly amount of time in their inbox, and for entrepreneurs or those who are working in consulting (contacted by clients all day, etc.), email can turn into a huge time sink before you even realize it. Many productivity experts recommend making special times a couple times throughout the workday for non-emergency communications, and sticking to them. Turning off the alerts on your phone for new emails during this time can help you resist the temptation to read and reply to everything as it comes in.
3. Take a lot of breaks. In a net way, you want to be working extremely hard and putting in a lot of effort into your business to give it the best chance of supporting you. That said, many people don’t realize that the human brain can absolutely suffer from task burnout. If you can stomach the change, try a week of working for 20-30 minutes, then taking a 5-10 minute break. Do some pushups, play a game on your phone, write a song – anything to completely switch gears for a few minutes and come back at your tasks refreshed. Every person will respond slightly different to this type of schedule, so be willing to tweak it a bit and find out what exactly will work for you before knocking it completely!
Finally, consider taking your office outdoors for a day, or at least a few hours. Work in the office most days? Try the kitchen! Entrepreneurship, especially done from home, can be lonely and unstimulating despite its best parts. Changing scenery can be a great way to break things up!
Email marketing is a bit of an odd duck: As other marketing channels have seen a distinct rise and fall in the face of social media and new communications technologies, email marketing still remains effective. In fact, despite all of our new ways to communicate, people still retain the use of their email for daily use. Receiving invoices, communicating with customers, etc.; sure, other platforms have sprung up for these communications, but none are as ubiquitous as email. That said, email marketing has aged, and therefore it has changed. Getting your emails opened, then read, then obeyed, is no easy task. It was hard in the beginning, and it’s super hard now that everyone and their mother is used to receiving promotional emails. Let’s take a look at how your emails can be the exception to the rule in a “no open” world.
Give before you take: Many marketers have gotten a lot smarter about this now, but it wasn’t always the case, and there are still many who fall flat on their face when balancing their value. Think about the reasons you follow the accounts you do on twitter. Think about which emails you open when they slide into your inbox. They’re the ones that are important to you, not the ones that sell and annoy you the most. Your customers are just like you, so make sure you’re building trust and value through emails that really offer something, before you every ask for any action(s) in return.
Avoid subject line cliches: This is the most controversial piece of advice here. Most people these days are used to the types of subject line formulas that have traditionally performed well, and haven’t realized that their effectiveness is dying down. Consider simply summarizing your subject lines in a way that makes them sound like they’re from a genuine person. Companies now more than ever perform better when viewed as individuals or collectives of individuals rather than businesses.
Keep it short: How many of you have received emails from some marketer whose email list you opted which are pages long? How many of you read them to the end? How many of you send these types of emails yourself? If you want an email to be a sales letter, keep it short, visual, and enticing, then use a CTA to get people to click out of an email and onto one of your pages where you have more control. People are turned off when they expect a helpful message and are greeted with a 9 paragraph sales letter in email form.
Get feedback: One really can’t stress enough how valuable it is to hear back from your customers directly about how you’re doing and how they interact with your brand or your product. The assumptions you make may not be helping you at all, so it’s important that you reach out and invite feedback; you may just find that a slight tweak to your sales funnel could address something that is currently a huge conversion killer for your customers. This could take the form of either a personal email message or a survey.
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With the coming of the mobile revolution being heralded for years, it seems we’re finally here (even though it came in with a whimper, more than a bang). With that said, it’s now critical that every marketer that wants to stay competitive be not only findable, but viewable on mobile devices. Mobile devices make up a greater portion of all searches each and every year, and we’re finally starting to see some viable means in terms of mobile purchasing to warrant the push to either responsive websites, native apps or both.
But what’s the difference?
What is a Responsive Website?
A responsive website (or more accurately, responsive web design) simply means that the site is coded and designed in such a way that the content will adjust to fit on whatever size screen it is being viewed on. So if you’re looking at a site on your 27-inch desktop monitor, it will look great, but if you visit the site on your 3-inch mobile device, it will also display correctly.
Responsive websites eliminate the need to have a dedicated site built for mobile (in addition to your standard website). The coding in the site responds to the device it is being viewed from and tells the browser exactly how the content should be displayed so there are no errors and functionality is preserved. If your audience connects to your site via a number of devices (e.g. computer desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone, mobile phone, etc.), a responsive website is a critical investment.
Benefits of responsive web design include:
– Your site is indexed as mobile-friendly by search engines, while still maintaining all of its normal indexing
– All of your updates to your website can be done in one place and show up on any viewing device
– Your site becomes flexible, able to reach all viewers no matter the device they are using
– All of your updates are seen by anyone who views the page and are not limited or restricted by device
What is a Mobile App – or Native Mobile App?
Mobile app and native mobile app are two terms used interchangeably for the same thing. A mobile app is an application designed specifically for use on mobile devices. It is an entirely separate program from your website and instead of being stored on servers, it is downloaded by the user and stored on their smartphone.
What this does is it allows users to connect even when they don’t have internet access. This is due to the fact that the app is stored locally (though some mobile apps will require internet). That means native mobile apps grant faster access for users than mobile (or responsive) websites do.
In addition, mobile apps have permissions that can help your sales such as access to the phone’s camera or speaker. This makes it easier for customers to interact with you. The downside here is that native mobile apps require different operating systems for Android and iOS phones, so it does cost some money to develop them…twice.
There are also a few more downsides and upsides to mobile apps:
– While faster than websites on mobile devices, mobile apps have fixed layouts meaning you must design one for each operating system
– Your audience for mobile apps is limited to people who have smartphones
– Search engines don’t index mobile apps because they aren’t stored on the internet, but rather on the user’s phone
– Updates can be tricky because the user must download them for updates to appear. Not everyone does this, so your newer content might not gain as much traction
– It is both expensive and time-consuming to develop native mobile apps and then get them approved by the app stores (Google Play and the Apple App Store)
Ideally, you would have both, but for now, a responsive website seems like the safer plan for internet marketers until your business demands a mobile app.
Let’s not kid ourselves, the state of SEO 4+ years ago was laughable, a joke, if you will. Google’s own search results were so easily manipulated with “backlink packages” and the like that it was straightforward to a fault to get a new site ranking, even for a competitive keyword, provided you had the money (or the time).
Over the past few years, Google – and other search engines, too! – has wised up and started making it more difficult to game the system. While some lamented the downfall of blackhat, spammy techniques, it was a game that was doomed from the beginning, and an equal number of people recognized the value in Google’s new incarnation.
Right now, the social and link cues that tell Google a page is important and relevant are more closely aligned than ever with the actual relevance and genuine popularity of that page. This has been Google’s goal for years, so it’s no surprised that they’ve worked extremely hard to move this direction as quickly as possible. I’m sure they’re quite happy with themselves, and they should be.
Is there still some way to game the system? I’m sure, but it’s not worth it, because every loophole gets closed, and at a rate that is gaining speed with every single day.
So, if the old kinds of link building aren’t effective, what does work?
Social cues are big.
Social media is the currency of a generation right now, and content that is blowing up with links, likes, shares, and retweets on social media is going to make a blip on Google’s radar. Google knows that these are often real indicators of people thinking something is valuable and worthwhile, and they’re all about that positive end user experience.
Leverage and squeeze every drop out of your social networks. Repurpose your tweets and posts to help appeal to different people and at different times. Try scheduling posts to go out on social at various times of day, with different images, and try alternating your headline with a quote from within the page itself.
Mobile is king, for now.
While we can’t know exactly what the future holds, one thing is for sure: Google is big on the mobile trend. It’s for good reason, too, seeing that internet usage on phones has skyrocketed over the past few years, meaning that websites who are responsive to various screen sizes and who don’t have a crappy mobile experience are going to be rightfully propped up in the search results.
This trend is also true of tablets, and any new device that comes out and begins to gain popularity.
Don’t stop building links.
Backlinks are still a big deal, but the focus now is on the quality of the links you’re bringing in. When it comes to lone links with suspiciously consistent anchor text, your efforts are going to get ignored at best or earn you a penalized site at worst. Instead, focus on building contextual links through creating products and services so good other people write about you, through stellar guest posting gigs, and by leveraging the press.
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!