One of the best ways to learn anything in the internet marketing world is to get out there and take action. There is absolutely no substitute for finding out what works for your exact business model and personality than by experimenting and tweaking what you focus on based upon your results.
Having said that, the second best way to learn has to be from other companies and individuals who have been through the phase you’re at already, and have been kind enough to package their own lessons into easily consumed content for you.
Often, this comes in the form of a blog, where you can regularly get updated on whatever the topic that person or company has expertise in. For entrepreneurs, here are 4 that are especially awesome and go out of their way to deliver constant value to readers.
1. The Groove Blog
Honestly, this is one of the best transparency blogs around for entrepreneurs. Run by Groove CEO Alex Turnbull, the blog follows this customer support startup every step of the way as they journey to $500k per month in recurring revenue.
As you can imagine, there are a lot of insights to be learned from a company well on their way to hitting those ambitious numbers. The nice thing is that they share a lot of things that didn’t work as well, and provide the data to back up anything they say or recommend.
2. The Daily Egg
Crazy Egg is a product all about data, so it’s not surprising that the research that goes into posts on the Daily Egg (CE’s blog) are packed with awesome research. Plus, they have a great track record of securing some awesome guest posters, which help to flesh out the blog as an authority on a wider range of subjects.
As if all of that weren’t enough, the blog is one of Neil Patel’s projects. If you don’t know Neil, he’s one of the most prolific writers and content marketers around, and just about everything he touches is gold.
3. Swift Branding
A new player on the scene, Swift Branding is run by George Karboulonis over in Greece, and it’s got a good thing going for it right now. The blog does a great job of committing to providing as any useful resources, freebies, and guides for IM’ers as possible.
While some of the content is more general or entry level, there are some real gems as well, and George seems to have a knack for getting people to share their interesting stories with him in the form of revealing case studies.
Finally, Copyblogger. Copyblogger has been around for a long time, and even has a now-rebranded media branch you can find at rainmaker.fm
While CB’s original focus was, no surprises here, copywriting, the team have really branched out over the last few years and broadened their topic reach without any falloff in quality.
How many times have you read a lame “5 Ways to Improve Your Bottom Line!” title, clicked through, and the been disappointed to find the same old generic, rehashed information on the other side?
If you roll your eyes whenever these titles come up in your Facebook feed or from some marketer’s Twitter account, you’re not alone. Unfortunately for marketers looking to take the easy way out, millions of other people are feeling the same way and are becoming immune to the type of clickbait titles that have dominated marketing communications for way too long now.
In the near future (actually, now), no one is going to be clicking on cheesy, cringe-worthy headlines that mask lackluster, uninspired content. Instead, you should be working to standout with your titles in other ways to help draw people in without misleading them. Of course, step one is to make sure your content is up to par; no great title or thumbnail image can lead to the conversions you’re after if you don’t have great words waiting for readers on the other side. Be valuable, be useful.
Next, consider tossing out additional hyped up adjectives and adverbs for statistics. Many of the most successful content marketing triumphs to pop up in 2015 were case study types which could boast a specific change in a variable in their title.
For example, the popular Groove blog wrote an article with a title along the lines of “How we raised our traffic by 12,267% with zero advertising.” It’s just about as enticing as a marketing blog post title could possibly be because it gives you an exact statistic that you can hold the author to.
By the way, that blog post really is excellent and outlines a bunch of free traffic generation methods that the company used to, no kidding, give an insane multiple-thousand percent increase to their traffic numbers in an impressive amount of time.
You should consider also making your titles platform specific. For example, WordPress has plugins which allow you to display different title and description tags for certain social networks. For example, if you know that Facebook shows only the first 70 characters of a link title and LinkedIn shows 110, you can create custom titles that fit those exact lengths and make the most of you allotted characters on each platform.
Titles which are native (made for) a platform will without a doubt perform better in terms of clickthrough and reader interest. Futhermore, platform specific titles can help you create clever synergies between the titles and preview images shown on each network, which can go a long way toward making your homegrown marketing efforts look more professional and thought out – and that’s never a bad thing!
Basically, titles still need to deliver clickthroughs and intrigue readers, but the way in which they accomplish these goals is going to need to be more genuine and helpful going forward. Working together to eliminate crappy content and titling is just one way to make audiences less skeptical of content marketing, which makes things easier on the rest of us, doesn’t it?
Were you involved in the online marketing world back in 2010? Earlier? Ever as recently as a couple of years ago, actually, the strategies that were considered surefire paths to SEO domination were completely different from what they are today.
Interestingly enough, however, Google was saying the exact same things about how you should try and rank a website then as they are now: Provide detailed, relevant, helpful content, network naturally with others, and Google would notice.
Unfortunately, their desired reality just wasn’t the case for most marketers. Hitting the top of search results meant putting in the hours to create backlinks, make sure the anchor text of your links matched the phrases you wanted to rank for, etc. These practices were considered spammy by Google, but they worked… and so people kept right on doing them.
Now, however, Google has finally caught up with its own mantra, and since early 2014 those adhering to old school link building practices are probably walking away a little disappointed.
For Google, it’s a win.
For us marketers, it makes things more complicated, but it’s a win as well.
Right now, SEO is actually simpler than it has ever been, but it’s not easier. That is to say, there’s a lot of work involved, but the work you put in is more valuable to all parties involved now.
In fact, pages are ranking fairly easily for many website owners now, provided they do a great job of providing content. A key component now is Google’s paying attention to social media cues when determining how much of a buzz a page is creating, and therefore how many people find it interesting and useful.
Right now, you can create a page and be ranking on Google within a couple of hours, provided your piece catches social media fire and gets shared around.
Of course, that means you’ve got to come up with something really good. Honestly, though, this can only serve to elevate the level of content that gets produced, as webmasters will be able to spend more time focusing on creating really useful, interesting content for their sites instead of focusing on the post-care SEO of creating countless backlinks.
In order to win, then, you need to be onboard with this new thinking. In fact, if you’re still working within the old framework of SEO, you’re likely going to see more problems than benefits. Sites are constantly being penalized and thrown into the SERPs abyss because they have tried to game a system that has always been about staying one step ahead of those trying to game it (and a goal they’ve finally achieved).
Will SEO professionals still have specific strategies you can take to give your site a leg up?
Will they work? Probably, but you need to think of SEO best practices these days as a side dish, because there is no longer a substitute for the main dish of hard work creating genuinely awesome pages for Google to crawl.
Do you have a landing page that is under-performing or not converting at all? If so, consider the fact that many landing pages out there follow three extremely flawed approaches for content creation. If your landing page falls into one of these three categories, it’s likely that any promotions, ads or other monetary boosters you try will fail as well, sinking more of your hard-earned money into a failing endeavor. Similarly, it’s unlikely that changing the design or aesthetics of your landing page will help.
Three Bad Landing Page Copy Strategies
So what are these three horribly horrible approaches to creating landing page copy?
1. Guessing at What Your Lead Wants to Read. This is how many landing pages are done: simply trying out random messages that might or might not have worked on other landing pages, to see the results. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of time and ultimately, costs you a lot of money in sales. Sure, guessing right the first time can be extremely easy and lucrative, but what are the odds you’ll guess right? Do you really know what you consumer wants to read, or are you too close to the sales aspect of the product to listen to the true consumer needs? Remember, guesswork is costly and most of the time, flat out wrong. If this is how you created your landing page, it’s time to reevaluate your under-performing copy.
2. Looking to the Competition. Okay, so every online marketer looks at what their competition does in order to keep their finger on pulse of the industry, but some of us use the competition as our basis for research. Figuring that the competition has done their marketing homework, we “borrow” from their landing pages and rewrite copy in the same vein as their copy. We figure, “They must know what they’re doing, so I’ll just do the same, we have the same demographic, after all.” But what if they are just guessing? Or what if they are dead wrong? You just anchored yourself to your competition’s success and furthermore, there’s now nothing to truly differentiate your two landing pages. Why should customers go to you instead?
3. Cliché Ad Copy. Finally, many marketers will turn to tired, old, boring and used cliché messages that they think sound good, they don’t. These messages don’t scream, “Buy me now!” They scream, “Help! I was written by a lazy marketer who might also be extremely corny!” Your message and copy need to mean something. If you aren’t the best-selling product, don’t call yourself that. Empty copy leaves prospects guessing. Be specific in the problems your product solves, it’ll be that much more impressive.
What’s the Right Way to Approach Landing Page Copy?
Now that you know the wrong way to approach writing copy for your landing page, what’s the best way? A little technique called Voice of Customer, or VOC. VOC is a marketing technique that relies on knowing your customer demographic in order to create viable copy that speaks directly to them in a language they prefer. VOC writing relies heavily on your understanding of your prospect’s problems and pain points, in other words, what do they need solved and what problems do they have with the solution you’re presenting.
When you know this, you can market the product or service in a manner that speaks directly to the lead, thereby eliminating friction. When you know their wants and needs, you can prioritize them accordingly, deconstructing each bit of friction with every line of copy on your landing page. This brings greater satisfaction to the lead as they read down the landing page and ultimately, all but guarantees the sale.
Most marketers are serious do-it-yourselfers. They’re learning constantly about all kinds of different facets of marketing and trying to put what they learn into practice all with just one pair of hands. Most internet marketing guides will tell you to begin outsourcing and managing as early as possible, to help grow your business at the fastest rate possible, but this kind of management role isn’t always feasible if you aren’t entering into your entrepreneurship journey with some startup capital.
Oftentimes, you’ll have to make something work all on your own, and copywriting is no different. There’s a reason that there’s an entire industry dedicated to having someone else write your web copy, sales letters, email series, and more – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a bang-up job yourself with a little bit of know-how. Today, we’re going to go over the “foot in the door” copywriting technique; it’s a classic copywriting move that can help you to increase responsiveness by easing into your propositions (purchases, sign ups, referrals, or whatever constitutes a successful conversion for your business).
The foot in the door principle is based upon the fact that people are naturally resistant to taking large steps out of the blue. This is, for example, why telephone salespeople have to work through such a large volume of number registries to keep sales at an acceptable level. That said, this resistance tends to lessen when the ‘ask’ becomes less and less of a hassle or monetary obligation for someone. Obviously, you would be more likely to try a new type of shampoo if it cost $5 per bottle than if it were $15.
Those studying (anecdotally) copywriting psychology posited that perhaps these smaller actions could be used to build trust, and thus, over time, increase the chances that someone would agree to a larger ask. As luck would have it, for you, they were right.
The first time I learned of the technique, it was written something like this: If someone came to your door and asked you to put a large political yard sign out endorsing a certain candidate, you would likely be resistant (even if it came from a party you identified with). But let’s say, instead, campaigners ask you to take just an “I support [candidate name]!” button. You’ll never wear it, but the ask is small and you agree; there doesn’t seem to be any harm in doing so. Let’s say that a week or two later, the same people come by and this time they are asking about the yard sign. You may have said no before, but you already agreed with them once, and the button spurred you into doing a bit of research on the candidate, and now maybe you’re more open to a public endorsement. Without a doubt, the second strategy will end up with more lawn signs in more yards.
No matter what your business is, you can use this same technique. In your own business, think of how you can get someone to agree to something small before you ask them for something big. In sales letters, you’ll notice that copywriters often pose questions with seemingly obvious answers.
“Do you want to cure your acne this week?”
“Do you agree that acne creates an unattractive, juvenile appearance?”
The purpose of these questions is to bait readers into mentally agreeing and nodding along; if they’ve already agreed with you on one thing, they’re more likely to agree with you on the next thing as well. In your own businesses, think about how you can use this technique to ‘soften’ any ask you have – you might just be surprised at how dramatically conversion rates change when correctly implementing it.