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A conversion funnel is a visual representation of the stages in a buyer’s journey, from the moment they land on your page until they complete a purchase. How do you create a conversion funnel, though, and how do you get the most from this tool? Let’s take a look.
The AIDA model is the traditional way to track the customer journey. It’s based on the four classic stages people move through during the buying process: awareness, interest, desire, and action.
Realistically, not everyone who visits your website will convert to a paying customer, which is why we use a funnel shape. Based on the AIDA model, then, a traditional-style sales marketing funnel might look something like this:
The problem? This is a rigid and fairly unrealistic way to view how people move through the stages of a sales cycle.
Leads are human, and the sales process is rarely linear. Often, people loop back to different stages in the sales cycle before they’re ever ready to complete the sale. In other words, people need nurturing before they’ll buy a product. As a marketer, you must understand their behaviors, their personalities, and their needs to convert them into paying customers.
Rather than a straightforward sales funnel, you need a more flexible conversion-based funnel, which will look something like this:
Don’t let the graphic intimidate you! While you might be tempted to start with a simple sales funnel, you’ll increase your chances of success if you start with a more flexible conversion funnel. Let me take you through exactly how it’s done.
There are nine main steps to creating a successful conversion funnel, based on a blend of AIDA and less restrictive techniques.
The point of a conversion funnel is to build an effective buyer’s journey and increase your conversions. To increase your conversions, you must first identify your starting point and your end goal. In other words, you must identify three things:
Once you’ve identified what your end goal is, you can map it out as a conversion funnel. Visualizing or mapping out your funnel can help you stay on track further down the line.
Think of your funnel in three separate parts: the top, middle, and bottom.
Decide what you want from each stage of the funnel; for example, maybe you want to increase your traffic at the top of the funnel, boost your engagement rate in the middle, and increase your conversions at the end.
Once you’ve set some concrete goals, consider using tools to track your progress and ensure you’re meeting those objectives. For example, you might use Google Analytics or email automation software to measure your success rates.
Unless you’re clear on what you need from each stage in your funnel, it’s impossible to know if you’re meeting your targets. Spend some time reflecting on your overall goal before you build a conversion funnel.
Each part of the funnel (top, middle, bottom) requires its own marketing plan to keep prospects moving from one stage to the next.
The first stage is all about building brand and product awareness. You’re trying to generate some buzz and encourage prospects to learn more about your company and how your products can help them.
At this early stage, use visually engaging content such as videos, short blog posts, and social media posts to introduce your company and emphasize your brand story.
You have a person’s attention, so now it’s time to gain their trust and show them why they need your product.
A prospect could ultimately be in this stage for a while, so the focus should be on creating valuable, informative, and reliable content such as case studies, video tutorials, and downloads.
The final stage should be focused on giving prospects a reason to buy your product, sign up for your service, or take any other action you desire. Marketing strategies at this stage could include free trials, actionable emails, and CTAs, or calls to action.
At this first stage in your funnel, you’re trying to build hype around your brand and product. Why should a customer care about your company? How do your products solve the problems they have? Answer these questions to help build a content strategy for this stage.
Do some competitor research, too. Consider what you can learn from their landing pages, social media channels, and blogs. How are they reeling in potential customers?
With all these questions in mind, here are some examples of ways you might generate awareness and create appropriate content for the first stage of a conversion funnel.
Other ways you might build interest in your brand include, for example, trying influencer marketing, hosting interviews, creating informational guides, and designing printable checklists.
While the AIDA model labels “interest” and “desire” as two separate outcomes, in real terms, they’re the same thing.
Generating interest, or building desire, comes down to one key thing: creating compelling content. You build some awareness around your brand, you show people why they “need” what you’re selling, and as a result they decide they “want” your product.
How do you create great content to nudge people along this stage of your funnel? Here are some ideas.
There are some other ways you can generate interest, too, such as starting a podcast, creating some product guides, running a free trial program, or offering product samples.
At the end of the funnel, your goal is to convert a lead into a customer by encouraging the required action. While you could skip this step in the funnel if it works for your business, here are some ways you might optimize your strategy for this stage.
Put together some valuable content in a PDF download and offer it in exchange for their contact details. Make sure your document promises to answer common questions your customers have, to encourage them to actually download it.
Here’s an example from LegalSuite, a legal services provider. Their customers typically want help with streamlining their operational efficiency. To help their customers, LegalSuite offers a free eBook with ways to make their legal operations run more efficiently.
The catch? Prospects must provide some contact details, which means that LegalSuite can follow up with them:
This is a great example of how to encourage an action without being pushy.
CTAs clarify the action you want people to take, so don’t forget to add them to the content you create.
At this stage of the funnel, you’re trying to entice customers to take a final step to complete the cycle, so give your CTAs a sense of urgency. Emphasize how your product can solve their problem and why they should act now.
Make it easy for customers to act by displaying the CTA somewhere prominent, like the top of a landing page, the end of a guide post, or in a colorful, clickable button at a strategic point in a YouTube video.
Finally, remember to test your CTAs to identify which strategy resonates most with your audience.
In many ways, great marketing is all about helping people help themselves.
Send them clear, concise, actionable emails emphasizing how they can solve their problems through buying your products or using your services.
Again, ensure there’s an obvious CTA so potential customers know what action you expect them to take.
Did you know that 72 percent of customers won’t make a purchase until they’ve read some reviews? Give those customers the reassurance they need to take the final step by adding some testimonials to your page.
Where should you display testimonials?
It all depends on your audience, brand goals, and marketing strategy. You could, for example:
Finally, you might offer other incentives like free trials, competitor comparison guides, demo videos, and product samples to nurture leads into becoming paying customers.
Great marketing is not just about finding customers. It’s about retaining them, too. Here’s why.
Sounds great, right? Here are some strategies for retaining those all-important loyal customers.
Next-selling is when you follow up with a customer after a purchase and offer them a similar product with, perhaps, an attractive discount attached. Not only does this allow you to communicate with your customer and make them feel valued, but it’s a way to potentially increase revenue.
Say you want to know whether customers who buy coffee machines are more likely to buy a discounted toaster. You can send the customers who bought a coffee machine a discount code for toasters, and send a control group a full price ad on toasters.
Next-selling can provide you with helpful data to build effective funnels.
Loyalty programs are crucial to any customer retention strategy, with 81 percent of millennials spending more money when they’re a member of a loyalty scheme. However, since loyalty schemes are nothing new, you need to get creative if you plan on building a winning program.
When you’re creating your own program, consider:
Amazon Prime, for example, stands out because customers enjoy benefits like free same-day delivery, exclusive savings, and access to members-only shopping events.
With the Starbucks Rewards program, members pay through the Starbucks app, and they earn points towards perks like free food and drink. What’s really great about this scheme, though, is how it’s centralized through the app, meaning Starbucks can access large volumes of data about user behavior to inform their marketing strategy:
Make your loyalty program work for you by using it to monitor customer preferences and buyer behavior.
When you update your products, you’re keeping up with evolving customer demands and changing expectations. You’re showing your loyal customers that you value their continued loyalty.
For example, maybe you can update an app glitch, based on user feedback. Or, you could launch an add-on to improve a software download.
In short, product updates are a great way to improve the user experience.
How else can you keep those all-important customers? Well, you can try marketing strategies such as:
Finally, don’t forget to capitalize on your existing customers by encouraging them to make more purchases. There are a few strategies you can try, so here’s a rundown of your best options.
With cross-selling, you look at a customer’s most recent purchase and show them similar products they might be interested in. Or, during the sales process, you offer them other items which complement the item they’re currently buying.
For example, say someone buys a laptop from your website. As part of your sales funnel, you might also recommend a charger or laptop case to go along with their purchase.
Here’s a real example from REI Co-op. Say, for example, a lead decides to view a set of strength trainers. Under the product listing, there’s a “people also viewed” list, which highlights similar products the lead might be interested in:
It’s not a pushy strategy, but it nurtures leads in the right direction.
Upselling means offering a customer a more expensive alternative to the item or service they’re interested in.
For example, if someone selects a free subscription to your service, you might highlight the cheapest paid subscription option to them.
Just remember, though, to avoid being too pushy at all times when you’re upselling.
Here’s a good example from Best Buy. The customer views an entry-level MacBook Air. Above the product, they see other more expensive products from the MacBook range, one of which also has an enticing discount attached to it:
The products advertised aren’t massively different in price from the viewed product, and it’s a good, subtle example of upselling.
There are a few other strategies you can try to grow your customer base and build your business, including:
Test out a few strategies and identify which ones resonate best with your customers.
In reality, there’s no such thing as a perfect funnel. However, if your funnel is underperforming, it could be due to common errors such as:
Alternatively, you can perform some lead outreach. Send out surveys or ask for feedback about the website user experience, and always take negative comments on board when you’re refining your funnel. They’ll give you very clear insight on what your audience does or doesn’t want.
Want to experiment with different funnel variations and track their performance? Give Optimizely a try.
It’s easy enough to use. Once you’ve registered, simply head to your “Experiments” dashboard, select “Create New,” and choose whichever experiment you want to run, such as A/B testing or a personalization campaign:
After you create your experiments, you can track them from your dashboard and make whatever changes best suit your marketing strategy. For example, you might refine your CTA or emphasize a new product. You can run multiple variations simultaneously, too, and track which one works best.
Whatever your conversion goal, Optimizely can help you realize it. Sign up for a free version, or choose a paid subscription with more advanced features if your marketing budget can stretch to it.
Google Analytics is another handy tool for funnel tracking. With GA, you can easily track customers from the moment they visit your page to whenever they decide to either abandon their journey or complete the purchase.
Since we’re trying to visualize a funnel, you want to set a “Destination” goal such as registering for a newsletter.
From here, you can identify where people leave your funnel or where they loop back to different stages.
The four stages are “Attention,” “Interest,” “Desire,” and “Action.” You’re trying to attract attention, generate interest, encourage the customer to want the product, and have them take the desired action.
The goal is the objective you’re trying to achieve e.g., a customer completing a sale. The funnel is the journey the prospect takes to reach this goal.
Start by checking out funnel visualization tools like Google Analytics.
A conversion funnel shows you the paths people take on their journey from visiting your website to becoming paying customers.
Think of your conversion funnel as an evolving process. Just as your customers want and need change over time, so should you adapt your goals and funnel strategy to match.
Have you built your first conversion funnel yet?
Are you making the most out of the data you can get about your website from Google Analytics (GA)?
The free tool gives you valuable insights into metrics like conversion rates, traffic sources, engagement, audience demographics, and more.
Let’s learn what GA is and how to use it to improve your website’s metrics.
Google Analytics is a free tool to track user behavior on your website. With a range of metrics to explore, you can start to get a picture of how people use your website and how you can make changes to increase sales.
On a basic level, you can track how many visitors you have, how they found you, the number of views a page receives, and more.
In many ways, Google Analytics is the portal giving you insider, back end, and real-time access to what your users want.
Google Analytics is the most powerful tool to track website metrics, and it comes from the king of search engines. On top of that, it’s free.
Although it takes some work to get set up, there are plenty of online tutorials and resources to walk you through the process. Once you get Google Analytics connected to your site, you can head to the Google Analytics dashboard and start checking things out. It can’t go back in time, though, so you will have to wait for data to gather.
Google Analytics can free you from relying on gut checks and intuition and instead tell you what pages and which content hit the mark or fall short. In this way, you can make informed choices.
Once you set up your Google Analytics account, you can connect different URLs and choose which one to explore from the drop-down.
The first thing Analytics shows is basic traffic data, including dates. You can alter the dates based on your needs.
On the left side of the screen, Google Analytics provides a list of report options. This is where you can start to get into the details.
On the far right, there’s a blue box with real-time metrics showing how many people are on the site, how many pages are viewed per minute, and the most popular pages to view. You can then click on the blue box to learn more about the data.
If you’re looking for something specific, just type it into the handy search bar.
As you scroll down, you can check out different analytics, including where your users come from and what devices they use.
There are many metrics you can track using Google Analytics.
No matter which type you focus on, you need to choose a time frame for your data. This way, you can check a specific timespan against prior spans to see what’s changing and if what you’re doing is working.
As you analyze the data, try to remember what your marketing goals are. Otherwise, you may get overwhelmed by the whirlwind of numbers.
Let’s look at some of the most popular metrics just to get you started.
Tracking visitors shows who’s visiting, how many visitors you have, and what they’re doing on your website. This includes factors like bounce rates and session durations.
These metrics are anonymous and vague. You can’t gather personal details for specific visitors to your website.
To dig deeper, you can go to the “Audience” section of Google Analytics.
Another powerful metric Google Analytics can provide is traffic sources. It answers the question, “how are people finding my website?” You can find this information under the “Acquisition” tab.
For instance, you can find out how much traffic comes from social media, Google Ads, and the Google Search Console. Knowing where your visitors are coming from and what they do once they get to your site can help you know where to focus your marketing efforts.
Google Analytics can help you understand how well different pieces of content perform by tracking user behavior. For example, are they visiting certain pages more often than others? Is on-page time higher on some types of content? This can help you determine what works and what doesn’t, which you can use to inform future content creation and marketing choices.
You can find this information under the “Behavior” section.
Let’s get down to brass tacks here. Are people buying (or doing whatever else you want them to do) once they land on your website? That’s what conversion metrics on Google Analytics can tell you.
These metrics are not automatically generated like the previous ones. Instead, conversion analytics requires you to set goals, typically using the pages visitors are directed to once they convert. Telling Google Analytics to follow users to these final pages can provide more specific information about how people are getting there, how many are converting, and more.
As mobile use becomes the norm, you may want to see how well your website performs on mobile devices.
These metrics can be found in the “Audience” section under “Mobile.” Here, you can see website metrics broken down by device categories. For example, if you find certain device users are spending less time or money on the site, look into how your site looks and behaves on that type of device.
As you get a handle on following your website’s metrics, you may find you need custom Google Analytics reports. Custom reports can help you check specific metrics more efficiently, using apples-to-apples comparisons between periods, campaigns, and more.
These custom reports may help when presenting information to your department, organization, leadership, or investors thanks to the hard numbers you can compare and the visual reports you can run. Of course, not everyone may fully understand what you do, but many are likely to understand the basics of what these numbers and graphs mean.
Google Analytics is constantly rolling out new features that may help you meet your marketing goals. Let’s dive into a few.
If you have a lot of content on your website, you may have a search function available to users. Knowing what people type into that search function can help you understand why visitors are on your site, allowing you to plan for and create more relevant content.
Under the “Behavior” area, click “Site Search” to view this information.
Is there content on your website that’s just not performing? Then, you may benefit from optimizing those pages for SEO, deleting useless content, or creating entirely new work.
To learn which pages are not performing, go to “Behavior,” then “Site Content.” From there, click on the arrow to reorder the pages by popularity. This shows which pages get the fewest views. Do with that information what you will—though perhaps consider finding a cause before throwing the page into the abyss.
People abandoning shopping carts while shopping is a typical e-commerce problem. If you can find where visitors are dropping off your website, you can make improvements to help convert them.
First, set up your goals using a sales funnel. Include each step of your check-out process, including cart, check-out, shipping, and confirmation, in the pages you plan to monitor. Then, click to “visualize your funnels” to see how people behave as they move through the funnel.
You may see a pattern regarding when people abandon carts begin to emerge and make updates accordingly.
As we talked about above, Google Analytics places many of the most common analytics on the dashboard. However, you can set up a custom dashboard to see exactly what you need. Under the “Customization” tab, find the link for “Dashboards.” You can use a dashboard template or create your own.
Google Analytics makes it easy to create custom reports for your own use or presentations.
You can name your custom report, as well as each tab you want to create if you want different variables in the same report.
If you scroll over the question mark in the dropdown, you can learn more about each choice.
Start with all, if you’re not sure. Now click “Save.” You’ll be taken to a page with the data automatically. From here, you can save, export, share, or edit the report.
If you save it, you can find this report under “Saved Reports.”
To rerun this custom report, go to “Custom Reports.”
Google Analytics can give you information about who visits your website, how many views your website receives, which content is the most popular, and more.
You can learn more about the basics of Google Analytics from Google themselves.
Google Analytics uses a tracking ID, which you place in the code of your website or a plugin to allow Google to receive information about your website.
Most of the benefits of Google Analytics are free, though you can choose to purchase upgrades.
Google Analytics provides in-depth information on how well your website is performing.
Google Analytics provides nearly endless amounts of information about your website’s data. Once you set up Google Analytics on your website, you can access metrics covering nearly every part of your customers’ journeys.
You can create custom reports to analyze how well your strategies work. This may help you make informed changes to your website, which may, in turn, draw even more people to your brand and via your analytics-driven marketing strategy.
What’s your favorite Google Analytics feature?
When you’re trying to drive traffic to your website and generate new leads, the goal is to make your content as attractive as possible. After all, with so much competition out there, it’s important you stand out from the crowd and grab someone’s attention right away, right?
The answer’s yes!
Just like you spend time and energy creating visually appealing content for users to enjoy, you shouldn’t forget the finer details: namely, your links.
Yes, really. URLs matter. Let me show you why link shortening is worth your time and what link shoortening alternatives to Goo.gl are worth trying.
Link shortening takes longer links, with their confusing combination of numbers, letters, and special characters, and turns it into a short, readable link.
Here’s an example from NASA’s Twitter feed. The link is only a few characters long, it contains the NASA branding, and it’s clear where the link redirects to:
Here’s another example. When you click the link, it takes you to a YouTube video. The destination is fairly clear from the short link (youtu.be) even though it’s unbranded, meaning there’s no mention of NASA’s name in the link:
The original “longer” link looks like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mqsd0ru_pc
Which one do you think looks more attractive on a website or social media post? Which one would you be more likely to click on?
Chances are, it’s the first option, and the reality is, your potential customers feel the same way.
OK, so that’s how link shortening works, but is it worth your time? Here’s a bit more detail.
In most cases, URL shortener tools also track how many people click your links. You can track who clicked your link to calculate the success of ad campaigns or content marketing strategies you’re running. From a marketing perspective, link shorteners are invaluable.
Finally, short URLs are more attractive. They’re easier to read and make your content more user-friendly. You can also create branded links with URL shorteners to reinforce your brand message at the same time.
Since great marketing is all about creating a great experience for your customers and building awareness, short URLs are a crucial tool.
To be clear, it’s not always worth shortening URLs. For example, if you’re just linking from one page on your website to another, there’s no need to shorten the link.
If you need help figuring out which links to shorten and which ones to leave alone, check out my consulting services.
Google’s own URL shortening tool, Goo.gl, launched back in 2009.
At first, it only worked with Google applications, meaning you could only shorten URLs for the Google toolbar. However, Google made the tool available to the public in 2010, which made it simpler for all website owners to access and use.
Goo.gl offered a simple means to create shorter, more readable URLs. All you had to do was input your long URL and Goo.gl generated a smaller URL without lines of extra characters:
You didn’t need a Google or G Suite account to create a one-off URL, either. However, if you wanted to keep track of all your custom URLs, you could create an account and view all your shortened links at a glance:
Website owners could also track how many people clicked the shortened URL, which helped with marketing strategy creation:
Why did Google shut down Goo.gl, though? Put simply, Goo.gl wasn’t designed for anything other than desktop browsing. As browsing habits changed and it became more common for people to access the web through mobile devices or apps, Google realized the tool just wasn’t flexible enough to stay competitive.
The answer? Firebase Dynamic Links, or FDL, which replaced Goo.gl back in 2019. As we’ll see in a moment, FDL improves upon Goo.gl in a few ways, although it’s not the only URL shortening tool worth considering.
There are many other link shortening tools out there, so how do you choose the right one for your needs? To help you narrow your search, here are seven promising alternatives to Goo.gl you can try right now.
Since Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL) replaced Goo.gl, it’s a good tool to start with if you’re focusing on app creation and development.
Firebase works similarly to Goo.gl, since you’re still creating short URLs. However, these URLs are no ordinary links: they’re “smart” links, or Dynamic Links.
When a user clicks on a FDL link, they’re directed to exactly where you want them to go in your Android or iPhone app… even if they don’t already have the app installed. They simply download the app and the right page loads automatically.
It doesn’t matter whether they click through from a desktop browser or mobile device, either. They will be directed to a compatible version of your website, so there’s no need for you to generate different URLs for each platform.
If you’re focusing on app-based marketing, definitely consider FDL. There’s a free plan available, although the paid plan has some nice features.
Do you want to create unique branded links using custom domain names? Then Rebrandly could be for you.
Trusted by global brands like IBM and Shopify, Rebrandly is more than just a URL shortening tool. It’s a link management platform designed to help you build entire marketing campaigns around branded links in just a few clicks.
Without leaving your browser, you can create and share links across over 100 integrated apps including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Plus, you can measure your campaign results from the dashboard.
It’s free to sign up, but paid packages start at just $29 per month, which gives you access to more detailed metrics and a larger number of branded links. If you’re looking for an enterprise-level solution for larger teams, reach out to Rebrandly for a custom quote.
If you’re already using Hootsuite, Ow.ly is worth a look.
You can shorten any link posted to social media right from the Hootsuite dashboard. This lets you view everything from your campaign ROI to your link metrics at the same time. There’s no need to switch between different tools (unless you’re also using other platforms like Google Analytics.)
Ow.ly comes free with every Hootsuite account, too, so you don’t need a paid subscription to benefit from the tool. Sounds good, right?
All that said, Ow.ly’s only available to Hootsuite users, so it’s not the right tool for everyone, but it’s worth a try if you already use Hootsuite.
For enterprise-grade link management, consider Bitly, one of the most comprehensive tools out there.
With Bitly, you’re not just creating short, branded links. You’re turning those links into valuable marketing tools. Bitly offers some of the most in-depth campaign management tools available to help you track everything from clicks to organic shares.
It’s a useful tool for tracking customer journeys without hopping between different CRMs, making it ideal for larger companies looking to track data and grow their campaigns efficiently. You can even generate QR codes to engage customers and drive sales.
What’s more, Bitly is trusted by the likes of Amazon, Disney, and Gartner, so you know it’s a platform that delivers on its promises! Packages start at $29 per month.
No roundup of link shortening tools is complete without TinyURL, the very first program of its kind:
You don’t need an account to shorten one or two short URLs. To get the most of the platform, sign up for a free account which allows you to create an unlimited number of URLs and track clicks.
The Pro package starts at $9.99 per month and offers advanced tracking options. For businesses looking to run high-volume ad campaigns, the Bulk package may be a better option at $99.00 per month.
If you’re looking for a no-fuss way to shorten your URLs and track some metrics, TinyURL is worth a go.
Are you a small business owner looking to launch marketing campaigns but don’t need a large-scale solution? BL.INK was designed for you.
With BL.INK, you can quickly share shortened URLs across social media channels and even send actionable links by SMS or messaging platforms. BL.INK seamlessly integrates with existing worktools and CMS, so you can easily track link performance and view the data alongside other metrics.
Packages start at $48 per month, making it one of the more expensive tools on the list. However, you can try it free for 21 days, which is a bonus.
If you’re not looking for an enterprise-level solution but want more than just a basic shortening tool, consider BL.INK.
On the surface, Sniply works like any other link shortener. However, it offers a unique level of customization: you can embed a colorful CTA button with every link you share across social media.
Not only do your links look more appealing because they’re shorter, but they’re more actionable than ever:
Pricing is reasonable, too, with packages starting at $29 per month. However, if you want to add more than one team member, you’ll need to opt for a more expensive tier.
Link shortening, or URL shortening, lets you change how a link displays to users. You can make a URL appear shorter or even add branding and still send users to the correct page.
A link shortening tool turns a long, rambling link into something memorable to share with prospects, which is handy on social media. You can also track the number of real people visiting your website, which provides more accurate analytics information.
Google made the changes in response to how people use the internet. Its new tool, Firebase Dynamic Links, is more flexible than Goo.gl and lets site owners redirect users on mobile apps rather than just desktop websites.
Since one of the main reasons we shorten links is for tracking purposes, you don’t need to shorten links if you’re just linking from one page on your website to another.
Are the alternatives to the Goo.gl link shortener worth your time? Absolutely. With the range of link management tools out there, you can quickly generate short, readable links to showcase your brand and drive traffic to your website.
What’s more, there’s a link shortening tool to suit every marketing strategy, whether you’re looking for a no-fuss, budget-friendly option or want to invest in an enterprise-level solution.
Have you tried a link shortening tool yet? How has it improved your conversions or made it easier to track your performance?
Getting traffic to your site is nice, but there’s not much of a point if those visitors don’t convert.
There’s one tactic I use above all others to generate new leads:
A lead magnet.
They aren’t some newfangled tech trend. They’ve been an essential marketing tool for decades.
With lead magnets, you give people something for free in exchange for an email address and permission to send them more offers—for example, a free ebook or an SEO checklist.
However, not all lead magnets are effective.
Let’s take about how lead magnets work and explore how to create one that drives leads.
The lure of ‘free’ is compelling, according to Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely.
He proved this by giving groups of people the option to select from different Amazon gift cards. Respondents could choose from receiving either:
If you were to look at that objectively, based on cold hard math, you’d see that the second option was the better value ($13 vs. $10.)
Check out the third column on the far right to see which one won:
It wasn’t even close! Everyone sampled chose the free $10 option instead.
Ariely calls this the Zero-Price Effect because humans don’t see the downside to something that’s free.
Ariely ran a related experiment. They staged a promotion for free tattoos and had people line up outside the store.
These people were waiting in line with full knowledge of what they were doing.
Yet when Ariely asked them if they’d be waiting to get the same tattoo if it wasn’t free, 68 percent of respondents said no!
In other words, people took time out of their busy schedule to commit permanent ink to their skin simply because it was free.
Good lead magnets, when done correctly, have the same effect (albeit without the same long-lasting effects).
They pass along a useful ebook, webinar, or email course, asking for very little (if anything) in return from visitors.
You leverage the power of free to kickstart the first step in your customer value optimization process.
Lead magnets are nothing new.
They get a lot of attention today because of how persuasive and powerful they can be.
One of the best ways to incorporate them today is with a content upgrade. People are already on your site, seeking something out.
Think about it:
They went to Google and typed in something specific to end up on your blog post.
A lead magnet sweetens the pot by providing additional insight on the same exact topic they were reading about.
Brian Dean used the content upgrade strategy to boost his conversions by 785 percent in one day.
Brian Harris of Video Fruit is seeing a 20-30 percent opt-in rate from blog posts where he links not one, not two, but three times to his lead magnet.
For example, the first comes right in the introduction:
Then he follows up that up with another two more for good measure down at the bottom:
The blog post goes through an in-depth analysis of how content upgrades can get you more leads. Then it distills those insights and actionable tips down so that you can easily start implementing the same tactics on your site (after downloading the lead magnet, of course).
If you want to see the same results, your lead magnet has to abide by a few rules.
The form or medium doesn’t matter necessarily. Instead, success typically comes down to a few >key ingredients:
So how do you figure those things out?
Let’s dive into what the best lead magnets have in common to find out.
Now that you know why lead magnets are important (to get you more leads!) let’s talk about how to create one that drives conversions like mad.
Saying you need to “know your audience” sounds obvious and trite. However, it’s one of those things that everyone talks about, but no one seems to know how to do.
The big clue is in the reception. If your digital copies aren’t flying off the shelf when it goes live, your issue typically comes back to a mismatch with your audience.
Thankfully, this can be an easy fix if you know where to look.
Start by looking for what people are already paying for.
That might sound counterintuitive because lead magnets are free.
However, if someone is willing to part with their hard-earned cash for something, it’s a sure sign that they’re committed.
For example, one of my favorite places to start is the Kindle Marketplace.
Let’s say I’m about to create a lead magnet in an industry I know nothing about: cooking. (Seriously, nothing.)
I could guess or make a few assumptions about which cooking lead magnet would work best. Or I could head on over to the Kindle Marketplace and see what’s already working well.
It’s not just the topic you’re looking for at this point, but also the ‘format’ that resonates with an audience.
Here’s what I mean.
Go to the Amazon Kindle Marketplace look at the sidebar on the left-hand side. There, you’ll find all the book categories and then subcategories upon subcategories upon subcategories. (In other words, drilling down to find your niche and your audience.)
Here’s what the bestsellers look like in European cooking and food:
Ok, now we’re getting somewhere.
Most are unsurprisingly recipe books. However, that first one is especially interesting.
It’s a “cooking for two,” book which means the people buying it are looking for quick, no-fuss meals in smaller portions.
That tells you a lot about the audience and what their preferences are. The Mediterranean one on the far right is another indication — those meals tend to be easy and healthy.
So these people might be looking for a new recipe cookbook, but that doesn’t mean they want some haute cuisine that requires working for hours in the kitchen.
Instead, these (presumably) busy people want something relatively quick and healthy.
Next, the trick is to put something together that’s like these examples but somehow different, better, or unique.
For example, let’s dive a little deeper into books reviews to see what they say.
Here’s a positive review to kick things off:
Awesome! Two of our assumptions are already being proved correct.
People like this example because it provides recipes that are “quick to prepare. “
Busy moms might be foodies. However, foodies probably aren’t going to be buying this book.
That completely changes how you might create, package, design, and even promote this ebook already.
Positive reviews are helpful to start with, but many times you can learn more from negative reviews. Check this out:
First, this book’s organization and table of contents aren’t up to snuff for this reviewer. They’re even giving you the answer here, too: “… organizing the dishes into categories or even providing an index.”
Good ideas! These are the little details that you or I wouldn’t have thought of because we might not be experts on cooking already.
However, a little bit of research has already revealed a few nuggets of wisdom.
Then, this reviewer goes on to complain about some of the editing and attention to detail towards the bottom.
Easy — let’s also have a subject-matter expert help edit this work to ensure accuracy (critical in cooking) is on point.
Now let’s take this one step further by simply asking the audience which versions of our idea they’d prefer.
For example, write up a simple blog post that explains what you’re thinking about creating and ask for ideas or improvements.
This does two things at the same time:
Soliciting feedback from people who aren’t yet on your email list can help you better understand how to get them on the list eventually. Here’s what I mean.
Take this post on how an Instagram user-generated more than $300,000.
If you take a close look at the comments section of the post, you’ll find a couple of readers asking about how the Instagram user made her lists.
Multiple people are now requesting the same information in the comments, which means there must be built-in demand for this information.
Lead magnets are ‘free,’ but users still have to part with their precious contact info. They won’t do that for just anything.
So you need to create content that interests the audience.
Let’s check out Google Analytics to see which pages (and topics) are performing best:
Start by segmenting all your posts into categories.
Sometimes your site already has this done if you included categories in your URL string. For example, Unbounce uses the category “PPC” in this blog post:
So you can search for URLs in your most popular content that feature PPC.
You’ve now painstakingly compiled insight into what your customers want. Your next job should be insanely easy at this point: Give them what they’re asking for!
Picture someone on your site reading your perfectly crafted blog post about the latest trends in European cooking when a pop-up appears offering a printable “Be a Better Cook” guide.
Huh? That generic printed piece of paper is going to make them a better cook? How?
No, thank you.
What if it was a printable checklist on the “Ten Top-Rated Dinner Recipes from France and Italy?”
Now imagine you visit the landing page for Digital Agency Day because you want to see when the upcoming date is to make sure you don’t miss any of the great information.
You’re hemming and hawing about signing up for the live event because you’re not sure if you’ll be able to make it.
Then an exit overlay catches you before leaving, suggesting you sign up to receive the recordings when ready:
Ok, that’s something you can get behind.
It’s specific and relevant, so it immediately makes sense.
So you’ll probably hand over your email.
It’s no surprise that this example resulted in a 19.03 percent conversion rate increase.
People aren’t going to sign up for something they don’t think is useful.
For example, check out this 9-part lesson from Brennan Dunn:
It targets a massive pain point for freelancers (“charging what you’re worth”).
It’s incredibly detailed and in-depth (“9-lesson course”).
There’s social proof that proves its value (“20,000 other freelancers”).
Brennan could easily charge for something like this, and people would still buy it.
It’s that good.
Checklists or cheat sheets can provide immediate value by giving people something they could put to use right now.
A longer multi-part course (like this example) or in-depth ebook can provide that long-term value people will reference for weeks (and months) to come.
Side-step these three issues, and you won’t just churn out another cookie-cutter lead magnet.
Instead, you’ll create a marketing asset that kicks off a long, profitable relationship with a new customer.
Remember the complaint on the first cookbook a few minutes ago? The poor organization and presentation detracted from the content and overall experience for that reviewer.
Now imagine what happens if you gave your email to get a downloadable guide filled with poor image quality and lots of typos. Same thing, right?
The goal here is to get these users to move on from the freebie and eventually make a purchase. You can’t do that without attention to detail. You also need to show your value.
Check out this checklist from Bryan Harris of Video Fruit.
Looks pretty snazzy, right? Not just another boring rundown filled with typos.
If you need a little extra help to enhance your own work, check out Beacon.
You can even hire a pro on Fiverr to do this for you, or you can do something similar by using a simple Google Doc.
A lead magnet is a free offer businesses offer in exchange for contact information from prospective leads. Examples include an ebook, discount code, free course, or checklist.
A great lead magnet must be valuable to your target audience. Aim to solve a problem or make their job or life easier in some way. For example, a business coach might offer “10 things to do before your next job interview.”
They should be free to your leads. For businesses, the costs should be for research, creation, and distribution. These consts can vary widely based on the lead magnet and resources available. For example, if you have an in-house marketing team and graphic design person, the costs would be minimal.
The best lead magnet is one your users find valuable, which can vary by industry, business model, and target audience. Common examples include ebooks, white papers, webinards, checklists, work sheets, coupon codes, and short courses.
Once they’ve signed up for the useful, relevant, and high-quality freebie, you establish yourself as a thought-leader on that topic and create a new customer relationship.
This means they’ll think of you when they need more information. They’ll come back for more. And they’ll come back to buy.
The good news is that these aren’t difficult to create, either. You need to take the time to dive deep into what your customers want and what they don’t want.
Then all you have to do is give them exactly what they’re already asking for.
What is your favorite lead magnet example?
Is outbound marketing right for your business?
How do you decide which strategies are going to help you grow your brand?
If you’ve got questions about outbound, then you’ve come to the right place.
Outbound marketing is where you (the business) initiate conversations with your customers to attract them to your brand. For example, TV commercials, cold calls, paid ads, and direct mail are all examples of outbound.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is when your customer initiates a conversation with you. For example, they visit your website, read an ebook, or download a white paper.
The goal for outbound marketing is to actively build authentic relationships through engagement, targeted communications, and putting your company in the right place at the right time.
There’s no denying that inbound marketing has grown in popularity in recent years (and with good reason, as it produces tremendous results.) However, outbound still takes up 90 percent of marketing budgets due to the high cost per outreach.
To improve your ROI in outbound, you need to allocate your budget to the methods that work for your brand. Below, we’ll cover some strategies to try, but first, let’s talk about its relevancy.
Every business owner loves to cut costs. When you, as a consumer, immediately delete a sales promotion email from your inbox without looking at it, you might wonder why that business would continually persist with an outbound strategy.
The likelihood is, they’ve built a huge mailing list and their promotions go to every single email address—paying no heed as to whether each customer is directly their target audience or not.
Why? They’ve invested in building a mailing list, and outbound marketing is still an extremely useful tool. It’s amazingly good at driving brand awareness (as long as your emails aren’t repetitive enough that a customer ends up hating you), maintaining brand relevance, and introducing products to new audiences. It helps you be at the forefront of your customer’s mind, for recommendations, word of mouth marketing, and lead generation.
Inbound marketing is great, and especially for smaller and low-budget businesses, but if customers don’t know your products exist in the first place, they can’t search for something they aren’t aware of.
Outbound marketing guarantees you reach people. You won’t be shouting into the void. Blogs are great for SEO and hoping Google’s Algorithm will take pity on you, but when you pay for a TV ad in a half-time break of a popular show: you know it’s going to be seen.
It can be expensive, but, when done correctly, it still provides a good ROI and is still relevant today as a complement to inbound marketing.
Most marketing success comes through a combination of different strategies. Whether it’s inbound or outbound, there are lots of different ways to reach your target audience, and often it will take lots of different strategies to achieve your goals.
Here are seven outbound sales strategies you can use to boost your marketing.
Email seems to have been around a long time now, but it’s still bringing in an incredible ROI for marketers.
We’re all accustomed to receiving newsletters from websites, but we tend to forget about an important part of outbound strategy: cold email.
Cold emails are unsolicited emails you send out to prospects. You’re initiating the interaction, so it firmly fits in with the principles of outbound marketing.
“Everybody hates receiving unsolicited emails, spam is the worst.”
Well, what if your cold emails didn’t feel like unsolicited emails? What if they were highly personalized, respected your customer’s time, and actually offered value to them beyond a product that can fix “all of life’s problems?”
Outbound marketing doesn’t have to be pushy, impersonal, sales-based spam. It can have all the creativity of inbound marketing. Using your understanding of your target audience, you can craft cold emails that get responses and create leads.
Here are some things you will want to concentrate on with your cold emails:
Small details make a big difference, for example, 30 percent of people open an email based on the subject line, so make sure you’re optimizing every aspect of your outbound marketing.
First, I recommend “cutting edge technology” with emails, and now I’m telling you to send people letters through the mail?
So much of our lives might have moved online, but we still exist away from the internet and we still receive mail. As it turns out, we still enjoy seeing something in the mailbox with our names on it, and this is an effective way of using outbound marketing.
This scientific study found brand recall is 70 percent higher among participants exposed to direct mail than an online ad. It may not have the fancy analytics, and you may not be able to put a GIF on it, but it’s certainly a good way to gain traction for your brand, and can still be relevant to your ethos, voice, and how you want to present yourself.
Just take a look at KitKat’s amusing example:
Estimates for the average ROI from direct mail vary a lot, and, like with most outbound marketing, it’s all about how good your campaign is.
With direct mail, it’s important to:
It might not seem like it fits with the digital age, but direct mail is still a useful outbound strategy.
Paid search ads can be seen as a cross between inbound and outbound marketing. While the targeted user has likely actively searched for information related to your products, you’re still artificially placing your brand in front of them in a way more reminiscent of outbound marketing.
Search ads are great for immediate success.
With SEO, you write an article and watch as the search engines gradually start to rank it. When it does start to bring in traffic, it’s an amazing tool because you’re not paying for clicks, but it takes time and there’s no guarantee of success.
When you invest in paid search ads, you give your brand an immediate presence in the SERPs, almost guaranteeing you traffic. Of course, you will be paying for each click which means the most important thing with search ads is optimization.
Not only do your ads have to be on-point, but so do your landing pages (here’s how I make sure my landing pages are converting).
Clearly set out what you’re trying to achieve with your paid ads and make sure everything is streamlined toward driving action from your customers. Small issues such as a clunky checkout page can hurt your conversion rate and make a big difference to your ROI on your search ads.
The average conversion rate for search ads on the Google network is 4.4 percent, but the hard work you put in might see you push well beyond this.
Here’s my “Guide to Google Ads” to help you out.
Billions of people are on social media every day. The average daily usage of social media is two hours and 25 minutes.
In marketing, we talk a lot about reaching your customers where they’re hanging out, and the data shows this is overwhelmingly on social media. If you’re not running social media ads, then you’re missing out.
Social media is becoming more and more “pay to play,” increasingly making it an outbound tool. Paid social media is:
The average organic post reaches just five percent of your followers, so you need a huge following to make a difference with organic social media. Paid ads on the other hand allow you to immediately reach a highly targeted audience.
One of the most powerful aspects of advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn is targeting. These companies have an incredible amount of data on their users and you can use this to be extremely targeted, serving your ads to the people they’re going to have the most impact on.
Marketing may have shifted focus from the physical world to the digital one, but that certainly doesn’t mean getting out and meeting people is a dead art. One of the best ways to get your brand in front of a targeted audience is by attending a trade show.
This can represent a large upfront cost (on average it costs $100-$150 per square foot of floor space), but the exposure and new connections you make can be well worth it.
Maintaining brand relevance is something that takes constant commitment, and having a stand at a major trade show is one of the ways you can do this. Just think of any major trade show, and you’ll expect the biggest brands to be there. For example, what would an international farming show be without John Deere?
It may seem like these companies are so big it doesn’t matter whether they attend a trade show, but they recognize that to remain relevant you’ve got to be visible.
When planning for a tradeshow, make sure you’re setting goals and managing your budget appropriately.
Outbound doesn’t always have the best reputation and cold calls certainly fit this picture. Despite this, the inescapable reality is cold calling works for many businesses.
Sales and marketing are still about reaching new audiences and starting conversations and that’s exactly what cold calling allows you to do. Of course, there are good and bad ways of doing this, and you need to consider your approach carefully.
Again, it’s easy to look at cold calling and think it’s all about numbers. Sure, outbound relies on volume, but the most important aspect is still quality, in this case, the quality of the conversations you can have.
This is why there’s a push away from scripted sales pitches towards approaches like SPIN selling where the focus is on helping the customer to solve their problems (if you’ve read my inbound marketing articles then you know this is something I talk about all the time).
If you’re thinking about using cold calling as part of your outbound strategy then keep these important points in mind:
Online marketing has transformed the way businesses advertise, but traditional advertising is far from dead.
There are lots of online places you can advertise your business and continue to grow your brand. TV and radio ads may require a bigger investment than other forms. like PPC but they still bring in big results.
The average American might spend more than two hours a day on social media, but traditional TV consumption is even higher among the older generations:
Consumption of traditional media might be changing but it’s still there—and therefore it’s still a big opportunity for marketers. Make sure you understand your target demographics and are showcasing your brand with creative messaging and you can still see an excellent return on your investment.
Outbound relies on the business initiating the interaction whereas inbound marketing relies on the customer searching for your brand.
Social media can be both inbound and outbound. Paid social media ads would be classed as outbound, whereas organic reach is inbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is often effective because it’s immediate. You’re not waiting for people to find you, you’re putting your brand in front of people and initiating interactions.
No, it is very much alive. Many businesses still use outbound to achieve a good return on their investment.
Examples include paid search ads, social media ads, cold email, cold calls, trade shows, and tv/radio/print ads.
Outbound marketing is something that’s still relevant today. It’s a great complement for your inbound marketing and an excellent way to grow your brand.
Marketing is a competitive field, and sometimes you can’t rely on people coming to you, instead, you’ve got to put your name out there and guarantee you’re getting exposure. In these cases, cold emails, search ads, social media ads, trade shows, cold calls, and traditional media ads can make a huge difference.
The most important thing to remember is that many of the same principles of inbound marketing still apply to outbound. You still need to understand your target audience, and you’ve got to be able to provide value and help solve people’s pain points.
If you can successfully do this, then outbound marketing can be an important part of your strategy.
What’s your favorite outbound marketing strategy?
People tend to connect with news sources they trust. As an author, you could be that news source.
However, building a large following is not easy in a world where so many voices are clamoring for attention. That’s why you need to leverage all resources available for you to stand out from the crowd.
One way is to claim your Google News author knowledge panel.
Google News author knowledge panels are information boxes Google displays at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) when a user searches for an entity. An entity can be a person, business, organization, or event.
Information that appears in your author knowledge panel is pulled from Google’s Knowledge Graph.
This is Google’s data bank, which features a system designed to understand facts about entities on the web and how they relate to each other. Knowledge Graph gets information from several different sources across the web, including (among others), reputable websites, Google My Business (GMB) profiles, Wikipedia, and social media.
Whenever source information changes, Google also automatically updates the author knowledge panel. To display the knowledge panel, search engines:
A knowledge panel features content such as:
Giving users a quick glimpse of who you are and what you do is essential in helping you build a solid online presence.
Verifying your author panel account is one way that can help you reach your marketing goals. Here are a few reasons why you should invest time and effort in verifying it:
One of the most significant reasons you should invest time and effort in verifying and managing your author knowledge panel account is that it helps boost SEO. When people search for a query related to you or your brand, the first thing they’ll see on the SERPs is a knowledge graph featuring information about you and your business. Of course, increased search visibility results in increased traffic to your site and, ultimately, an uptick in revenue.
Another reason to verify your author panel is that it’s a great way to increase brand visibility. Because knowledge panels occupy a significant portion of SERP real estate, they offer unmatched brand visibility. Knowledge panels display all kinds of media, giving you incredible branding opportunities. From your name to your social media handles to key website pages, you have an opportunity to present searchers with all branding assets in one place.
Reviews play a crucial role in establishing your online currency. Unfortunately, not everyone will leave positive reviews about your brand or products. Negative reviews can tarnish your image. This is where an author knowledge panel comes to the rescue. Since it appears right at the top of SERPs, it helps establish trust with users, helping you with your reputation management.
Search engines are all about providing users with the best possible user experience (UX). Verifying your author knowledge panel helps do this. Fortunately, you also get to benefit from the positive UX as it helps drive traffic to your website.
Now that you know what an author knowledge panel is and the many advantages of verifying yours, you need to know how to verify it. Claiming your knowledge graph is critical as it gives you more control of the information displayed in your panel. Let’s dive into how you can authorize yours.
To verify your author knowledge panel, you first need to create a Google account if you don’t have one. To do this:
A Google account is one of the ways Google uses to verify your identity and your association with the entity whose knowledge panel you want to manage.
The next step in claiming your author knowledge panel is to search for the entity whose knowledge panel you want to claim. This could be yours as an individual or an organization’s knowledge panel.
The knowledge panel will appear at the top of the SERPs.
Once a knowledge panel featuring you or your organization is displayed, scroll down to the bottom of the panel. If no one has claimed that particular knowledge panel, you’ll find a “Claim this knowledge panel” button.
This will take you to a window where you will be asked to verify your author knowledge panel.
Clicking “Get Verified” will take you to a page where you’re asked to verify your identity using one of your social media profiles.
After successfully signing in, you can now start managing your author knowledge panel.
What happens when you search for your entity, and you don’t appear in a knowledge panel?
This usually happens when there isn’t enough factual information on the internet for Google to verify and add to its Knowledge Graph. As a result, it can’t generate an author knowledge panel.
You now might be wondering, “How do you build enough critical mass in Google’s Knowledge Graph for Google to recognize your entity?”
Wikipedia is one of the trusted sources Google turns to when gathering information for its Knowledge Graph. One reason for this is the strict guidelines Wikipedia has put in place to ensure all pages published on the platform are accurate and contain no bias. Therefore, being featured on the platform hooks you up to one of the most reliable sources of information on the internet.
One of the best ways to be featured is to build Wikipedia backlinks. The easiest way to do this is by looking for and fixing broken links on Wikipedia. Use a tool like WikiGrabber to find pages that have broken links or need a reference.
Another way is to reach out to an independent Wikipedia editor to create a page for you or mention you on other pages.
Granted, getting featured on Wikipedia can be quite an uphill task. If you want an easier route, you can consider Wikidata. This is a data bank that feeds structured data to Wikimedia projects. Since Google shut down Freebase, their open-source repository that powered the Knowledge Graph, it also relies on data from Wikidata.
Knowledge Graph also pulls information from websites. To leverage your website for building the necessary critical mass you’ll need, you must:
Investing in an optimized website and well-structured content is an essential step to getting information about yourself pulled into the Knowledge Graph.
Another way to build up enough critical mass to give search engines enough factual knowledge about you is to get featured in reputable publications. A few effective ways to do this is by:
The more you appear on the web, particularly on reputable and relevant sites, the higher your chances of appearing in a knowledge panel.
Social media has become more than just a way to keep in touch with family and friends. It has become one of the ways you can prove your identity online. That’s why optimizing your social media profiles and being active is a great way to increase your Knowledge Graph.
Creating content that your audience will interact with and share will help boost your online presence, powering your Knowledge Graph.
Getting into the Knowledge Graph is essential to the generation of your author knowledge panel. Do everything you can to ensure you give search engines enough factual data about yourself.
Doing so will ensure that you are recognized as an entity worthy of a knowledge panel. Also, make sure to keep “feeding” the Knowledge Graph with updated information. This is essential in ensuring your knowledge panel is populated with the latest data on you.
Before we wrap up this post, let’s briefly answer some of your burning questions concerning author knowledge panels.
While you can’t create an author knowledge panel for yourself, you can get one by being recognized as an entity by Google. You do this by increasing your Knowledge Graph on Google.
To find your knowledge panel, search for yourself on Google. A knowledge panel featuring all kinds of media and information on you will be generated.
Managing your knowledge panel involves you claiming and verifying your knowledge panel. Doing this grants you access and the right to manage your knowledge panel.
Once you have claimed your knowledge panel, you can edit the information it displays by clicking on the “Suggest edits” link. Note, however, that you can only do this when you’re logged into your Google account.
The author knowledge panel is a great feature that makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for on the internet. If you can harness its power, it’s also a great way to power your marketing strategy. From driving traffic to your website to brand awareness, claiming your author knowledge panel is a great business move you can’t ignore.
Remember, keep creating content on various reputable platforms to provide Google’s Knowledge Graph with current information to display in your author knowledge panel.
What has your experience with claiming your author knowledge panel been like?
Are you struggling to scale up your paid ads?
Or even worse, are you struggling to get them working?
You see all these big companies running tons of ads, some even are spending millions of dollars… if they can make it work, you can too, right?
Well, today at 9am PST I am hosting a webinar that breaks down the ad secrets from the big brands that you can copy to sell more.
So, make sure you register, it’s free.
At our agency, NP Digital we’ve worked with companies of all sizes… large and small.
And we’ve learned a lot of cool, unique strategies that are typically only used by the bigger companies. But what’s interesting is these strategies also work well for smaller brands that have smaller budgets… but they just tend not to use them.
Here are some of the specific things we will teach you:
And the points I mentioned above are just scratching the surface. So make sure you register for the free webinar.
I hope to see you on the webinar. I know I mainly discuss SEO, which is a great marketing channel, but you should also consider leveraging paid ads.
With paid ads, you can scale faster and see results quicker. It takes some time to get paid ads going correctly, but hey that’s what today’s webinar is all about.
And whether you are spending little to no money on ads or millions, there will be strategies and tactics that will benefit you.
I look forward to seeing you today.
PS: If you just want my team to implement these hacks and manage your ads, go here.
Starting a business is a major endeavor. You need to perform market research, file for a license, create a marketing plan, and build your brand. One way to shorten the process is to become a franchise business owner.
As a franchise business owner, you can tap into the resources and branding of a large brand—while still maintaining the autonomy to run your own business.
If you’re considering starting a franchise business, there are a few things you should know. First, let’s talk about what a franchise business is.
In a franchise business, a franchise owner pays a fee to essentially “rent” a brand name. The franchisee runs the business themselves (or hires someone to run it) and must follow the rules and regulations related to how the brand is used.
For example, many McDonald’s restaurants are franchises, meaning an owner (or group of owners, in some cases) pays McDonald’s to use their brand name, menus, logos, and other business assets.
They run their location, pay McDonald’s to use the name, and keep the remaining profits.
A franchise business is a popular business model because it offers owners the best of both worlds: the support of a large brand and the benefits of owning a business.
A few businesses that offer franchising options include:
Starting a franchise business should not be taken lightly. There are pros and cons to consider before deciding whether to become a franchisee.
Starting a business gives you more control over your life and income. Unlike starting your own business, however, there are specific benefits to buying into a franchise.
Starting a franchise business is sort of like playing video games on easy mode. The franchisor offers support in the form of training, materials, process flows, and branding to make it easier to get your business off the ground.
For example, starting a taco shop could require months for menu development, taste testing, logo design, product sourcing, etc. As a Taco Bell franchise owner, however, much of that work is already completed.
Franchise businesses often have a lower failure rate. When you buy into a franchise, you join a proven business model that works. You also have additional support and business resources that can make a difference in your success.
Building a brand is one of the best things you can do for your business. However, it often takes time and resources. When you buy into a franchise, the branding is already complete. People already know who your brand is and what it represents. This saves you time and creates a built-in customer base you can tap into.
In some cases, you may purchase goods at a lower rate. Many franchisors negotiate contracts with vendors for the entire network, allowing you to spend less on goods and services by purchasing in bulk. However, the flip side of these benefits is you may not choose your vendors, and sometimes the costs are higher.
While there are many benefits to starting a franchise business, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind. You’ll pay licensing fees to corporations, which can eat into profits. You’ll also have less control over some aspects of your business. For example, if you own a franchise restaurant, you may have little to say on the menu or which vendors you use.
Now that you understand the pros (and the cons) of starting a franchise business, let’s get down to the details. How do you get started? Here’s what you need to know.
The first step in starting a franchise business is deciding which business you want to join. Hundreds of companies offer franchise opportunities: which one is right for you? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
Once you answer those questions, start looking for franchise opportunities. For example, if I am interested in a restaurant franchise and like sports bars, I might Google “best sports bar franchises.” As you can see, there’s plenty of options.
Here are a few other searches you can try. Feel free to swap out key terms to find an opportunity that works for you.
Make a list of your top five franchise businesses, then compare what they offer. How much are licensing fees? Is it a flat fee or a portion of your sales? What resources do they offer? Do they offer financing? What happens if you don’t end up keeping the franchise?
Compare all the features and consider all the drawbacks before making a decision.
By now, you should have one or two top franchise choices. It’s time to dig deeper. How many current franchise owners are there? What are their annual revenue and profits?
What competition will you face? Consider both online and in-person competition. For example, suppose you want to franchise a tax company. In that case, you need to consider how you’ll stand out from online companies like TurboTax and in-person accounting firms in your physical location.
Sometimes buying into a franchise provides a false sense of security. You see how much other franchise owners make and think that is the norm. Keep in mind markets can vary by location and the franchisor has a vested interest in highlighting their most successful franchisees.
Whether you are looking to purchase an online or in-person franchise, make sure there is enough room in the market for additional businesses. If the market is saturated, you may struggle to make sales no matter how much people trust the brand.
The cost to start a franchise business can range drastically from a few hundred bucks to set up a website to millions to pay franchise fees and build a store. Usually, franchisors will list the average cost on their website.
However, sometimes there are hidden fees you’ll need to keep in mind:
You’ve researched all your options and have decided on a business to join. Congrats! Now it’s time to create a business plan. This is one of the most crucial steps, so take the time to create a solid business plan that covers all the bases.
According to the Small Business Association, a business plan should include:
The next step is to create your business entity. The type of business you create might depend on the franchisor you work with. Some might require an LLC or corporation. An LLC protects your personal assets from liability, while a corporation is a tax structure.
You might also choose sole proprietorship; however, that can leave your home and other assets at risk. This guide will walk you through the different options, but I suggest meeting with a tax or legal professional to decide if the structure is right for you.
Keep in mind city and state laws may impact which structure is right for you.
The final step is to find a location for your franchise business. If you are online, the location will likely be a website, but you might elect to have office space as well. If your franchise business has a physical location, make sure to compare sites to find an affordable one that gets plenty of foot traffic.
Don’t just consider the location’s current pros and cons. Research future developments as well. An ideal location today might not be if a bypass is installed right next to you directing traffic away.
On the other hand, a location that is just OK today might gain attention if a large shopping center is built next door. (Just remember that sometimes development plans fall through, so don’t choose a terrible location based on possible plans.)
The cost to start a franchise business varies by business. Some only cost a few hundred dollars, while starting a McDonald’s franchise costs between $1 and $2 million.
It varies by business. The average is usually between $50,000 and $70,000 per year.
Not entirely, no. The franchisor generally requires an initial payment before you can open your business. If you don’t have capital, consider bringing in an investment partner.
1) Identify a business you want to work with. 2) Research current owners and the competition. 3) Determine market interest. 4) Research startup costs 5) Create a business plan. 6) Form an LLC or corporation. 7) Choose a location. 8) Create a marketing plan.
According to Entrepreneur, the most profitable franchises are Taco Bell, Dunkin’, and The UPS Store.
Starting a franchise business is not without risks. However, the added support and access to a built-in customer base make it a tempting model for many business owners.
If you are comfortable working with a team and appreciate the support and other benefits of being a franchise owner, it can be an ideal way to build your own business.
Remember online marketing is crucial to the success of any business in 2021. Understand the benefits of SEO and social media. Study up on practices like paid advertising that can help you reach a wider customer base.
Finally, don’t be afraid to hire a professional to handle your marketing. They can put their expertise to work while you focus on building your franchise business.
Are you considering starting a franchise? What challenges are you facing?
One of the most frustrating things about SEO is getting everything to work together as it should.
If you’ve done SEO, you know exactly what I’m talking about. There are so many little elements in SEO that sometimes it seems impossible for everything to work out perfectly.
Even today! I know I talk a lot about how “smart” the search algorithms are and how it’s virtually impossible to game the system.
However, there are still a lot of elements you need to pay attention to for your SEO to succeed.
Case in point: Page title tags.
Before you yawn and find some more sexy SEO topic to jam on, hear me out.
Title tags are one of the cornerstones of SEO. They always have been, and as far as we can tell, they always will be.
Moz explains, “Title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content.”
When it comes to low effort/big results, title tags take the cake. It’s such a small element, but has such a massive impact!
You know it’s important to create eye-catching headlines, but optimizing your titles also matters for SEO.
That’s where page title tags come in. They’re how your titles are relayed to search engines, and they’re an important part of any SEO strategy.
This is one of the few times when you need to write for both people and search engines, and that can be tricky. (Especially with headlines.)
In short, you have to create a clickable headline that also makes search engines happy.
Here’s the challenge: People have to like it. Search engines have to like it. Yikes!
Does that sound difficult?
Yes, it can be if you don’t know what to do. That’s why I’m going to break down my process step-by-step.
We’ll go through that process, but first, let’s look at why title tags are important for SEO.
If you’ve ever used a search engine before (and I’m guessing you have), you’ve seen a page title tag whether you’ve realized it or not.
It’s simply the headline on the SERP (search engine results page).
For example, if you Google “kitchen appliances,” you’ll see that one of the top results is from IKEA.
In this case, the page title tag is “Kitchen Appliances – IKEA.”
This is what both people and search engines will see as the title of your page. Often, this is the first thing they’ll see, and that’s a big reason why it’s so crucial to put time and effort into your title tags.
The point you need to remember is this: real people are reading your title tag.
They are going to respond to it. They will judge it. They will be compelled by it. They will be put off by it. They will learn from it.
Basically, the title tag is your page’s message to the world!
Title tags work with the meta description (the text below the title). In the case of the IKEA search result above, this is the meta description — a sentence or phrase that adds more information about the page.
I’ve written about meta descriptions before, but title tags are even more important.
Both the title and the meta description together give a brief idea of what your content is about, but the title tag stands out more.
There are two big reasons why page title tags are so important.
First, if you have a clear title that’s relevant to your page, both humans and search engines will see that as a sign of a good page.
If your title tag isn’t optimized, then people could skip right over your content, and search engines may determine that your page isn’t as good as it could be.
A second reason why title tags are important is they show up in browser tabs:
So when someone wants to find your page out of all their browser tabs, they’ll look for your title tag.
Title tags are often what people will see if your page is shared on social media. For example, here’s an example of a title tag on Facebook:
Can you see why title tags are so important? A good title tag means maximum visibility, while a bad title tag can sink your page.
There are three important steps to take to optimize your title tags.
Let’s dive into all three.
You might be wondering how writing a title tag is any different from writing a headline.
In some cases, your headline and title tag will be the same exact title. But there are some cases where they won’t be.
Check out this SERP result from Copyblogger:
It seems like the title for the page would be “How Content Marketing Builds Your Business,” right?
But when you go to the page, you’ll see a different title:
The title shown on the page is longer and more descriptive.
So why would Copyblogger do this? It’s most likely because the shorter title tag looks better on the SERP, and it takes less time to read.
The actual title that you see on the page goes into more detail, and that’s probably why they used it. They get the benefits of having both a streamlined title tag and a descriptive page title.
It’s a sneaky and useful tactic that’s the sort of SEO stuff I love.
With that in mind, here’s how to write a great title tag.
There are a few elements of title tags:
Shorter titles are easier for people to read and for search engines to crawl.
But there’s a better reason for shorter title tags.
If your title tag is too long, search engines will cut off your title with an ellipsis (…):
Ideally, your readers and search engines should be able to see the entire title tag so they get the best idea of what the content is about.
Google typically shows no more than 60 characters of the title tag. So if your title tag is 60 characters or less, you can generally expect that the entire title will show.
If you want to make sure, Moz has a handy preview tool:
This is a great feature that I recommend you use. Remember, keep it short if possible.
You probably expected to see something about keywords in an article about SEO.
For best results, try to put your focus keyword as close to the beginning of your title as possible. That’s so search engines (and people) will see the keyword early on.
Here’s a title tag with the keyword right up front:
Contrast that with this result that has the keyword closer to the end of the title tag:
One tip: Make sure the keyword placement is organic. It’s preferable that the keyword is close to the beginning, but it’s not necessary for great SEO.
Much like a headline, a title tag needs to communicate a benefit to stand out.
This is one of many reasons Google warns against keyword stuffing and boilerplate titles.
Your title tags are representatives of your pages, and you want people and search engines to know that your pages have unique, valuable content.
Make sure your title tag is related to your content. It should read naturally and grab the reader’s attention.
Keep in mind, you’re not trying to trick people. All you need to do is clearly explain the benefit of clicking on the page.
Often, the “benefit” is nothing more than telling them what the page is about! At this point, you’re not trying to sell anything. You’re simply giving them information.
Here’s an example that clearly expresses a benefit (ignore the jargon-filled, not-so-great meta description).
On the other hand, this title tag is plain and doesn’t explicitly state a benefit (they did a nice job with the meta description, though).
(Sure, Amazon probably doesn’t need to state a benefit, but your site probably does.)
Stating a benefit probably won’t do anything for search engines, but it goes a long way for human users who come across your site with a search.
Once you have your page title tag written, you need to set it as the title for your page.
The way you’ll do this will depend on what powers your website.
If you have a custom site, you’ll need to edit the HTML directly. (And it’s super easy to do.)
If you use WordPress, it’s also super easy.
If you use another CMS or host, it might look a little bit different for you.
Let’s take a look at each of these three different cases and how to create a title tag for each scenario.
If your site isn’t hosted on a CMS, you can edit your HTML to add titles.
First, you access the HTML for your specific page. I recommend checking with your hosting service on how to do this.
Once you’ve found the editable HTML, make sure you’re between the <head> tags.
(Note: This is an example code using Editpad.org. Your code will probably look different, and there might be extra code here. That’s okay––just make sure you’re only between the <head> tags and not any others.)
To create the title, use <title> tags. For example:
That’s it! Save your code, and your title will now show up correctly.
If you use WordPress, you’ll be happy to know there’s a super simple solution — it’s actually way easier than editing the HTML.
In fact, this method uses something you’re probably already using: the well-loved Yoast SEO plugin.
This is a powerful plugin that you can get a lot out of. And it’s great for editing your title tags.
First, if you don’t have Yoast installed, go to Plugins > Add New.
Type “Yoast” into the plugin search bar.
Look for “Yoast SEO.”
Click “Install Now.”
Next, click “Activate.”
Now the plugin is up and running.
To edit the title tag for a page or post, navigate to that content and open the editor.
Scroll down to the bottom of your post or page, and you’ll see the Yoast box, where you can edit the title tag and meta description.
It’ll also give you a nice preview of both your title and meta description:
If your title tag (or meta description) turns out to display differently on the actual SERPs, you can always go back and edit it in this section.
I know not all of you fall under these categories.
You might use a completely different kind of CMS, or your web host might have a different setup.
In those cases, I recommend contacting your CMS company or web host to find out how to access your HTML to edit your page title tags.
This is really a case-by-case scenario, so it will probably look different for a lot of you. However, you should be able to get an answer with a quick email to your web host’s support email.
So far, you’re two-thirds of the way done! Now you just need to make sure your title tag is the most SEO-friendly it can be.
We’ve talked a little bit about this already, but there are a few more steps you can take to make sure your title tag is optimized.
This is the step that most people miss entirely!
They think, “Yay. I’m done with my title tag!” But they forget that one of the primary methods of marketing and promotion is through social sharing!
Here are my best tips for optimizing your title tags for social.
The title tag can be a great place to include your brand, but if you overdo it, you could face some consequences.
Google suggests using your homepage title tag to include the most branding. Their example: “ExampleSocialSite, a place for people to meet and mingle.”
For most of your pages, adding your brand to the end of the title tag will suffice (if there’s room, that is).
Here’s how I do that:
You read that right: Sometimes Google will rewrite your title tags.
It’s crazy, I know! But why the heck would this happen?
According to Silkstream, “Google will automatically change how your title is displayed in the SERPs if their algorithm is under the impression that the page title doesn’t accurately represent the content on that page.”
So if your title tags don’t look good to Google, they’ll consider other factors, including:
Take a look at this title tag:
If you go to the homepage and view the source code (right-click and select “View Source” or “View Page Source”), you’ll see the company set the title to be something else:
Google rewrote it because they felt their revised title tag would help people more than the original.
The good news: If you follow the steps outlined in this article, Google should keep your title tags as they are.
If you do see your title tags showing up differently, revisit them and try to identify how you can further optimize them.
This is exactly like the Copyblogger example from earlier.
You can use two different sets of keywords in your title tag and H1, which organically enhances your SEO. Search engines will count the title tag as the “heading.” (Just make sure it’s optimized.)
Google explicitly says that “it’s important to have distinct, descriptive titles for each page on your site.” So don’t copy and paste your title tags.
If you’ve done everything so far, you should now have an optimized title tag! Finalize it and send it out into the world.
Title tags are the title of a page users see in the search results. They serve as a first impression and can encourage — or deter– people from clicking on your pages.
Title tags are shorter and appear first in the SERPs.
Pay attention to the length, use the main keyword the page targets, and explain what benefit the user will get by clicking.
Between 50 and 50 characters. Any longer than that and Google may truncate your title.
Generally just one. You can add a second if it is closely related and makes sense. Don’t keyword stuff; the goal of the title tag is to explain what users can expect if they click.
I know first-hand that SEO can be a headache., but it doesn’t have to be.
I’m all about demystifying SEO because I know it’s something anyone can do. Even if you’re a technophobe, you can do this!
It doesn’t take years of experience in digital marketing to get SEO right. You just have to learn the ropes and get used to it.
For example, creating page title tags is pretty simple. It might seem complicated at first, but once you take a peek behind the scenes, you see how easy it is.
If you’re not currently leveraging the power of optimized title tags, use this article to start doing that. It can be a game-changer and help your visibility on the SERPs.
Best of all, it only takes a few minutes.
What tips do you have for using title tags for maximum SEO power?
What comes to mind when you think of negotiation tactics?
People in suits closing business deals?
Bargaining with a seller in a market?
Convincing your landlord to lower the rent?
How about all of these?
It’s tempting to think of negotiation only in terms of price, but the term represents many possibilities beyond money.
For example, if you’re struggling to negotiate your desired salary, you can negotiate the job benefits, the scope of work required, hours, or remote-work options.
In other areas of life, you can negotiate a better package with your regular service providers, you can negotiate better deals when shopping and you can even improve your relationships and expectations through effective negotiation.
What about business? Can negotiation tactics help you grow your business?
Research over the past few years says yes.
Whether you are an established CEO conducting high-profile meetings or a small independent seller collaborating with other business owners in your community, negotiation can significantly impact the rate of your growth.
Most business decisions can be improved by learning powerful negotiation tactics. Here’s a few reasons why learning to negotiate is important for growing your business.
Negotiation can offer great benefits, but it can also be challenging to enter a negotiation without effective negotiation tactics.
If you’re new to negotiations, worry not!
I have something for you.
I used to think a powerful negotiator knew all the right things to say. I believed negotiation was about who could outsmart the person in front.
I was wrong.
Successful negotiation is less about talking and more about listening.
When you listen without waiting for your turn to talk, you begin to truly understand what the other party wants. This can help you strike a “win-win” deal so you get what you want and they get what they want. Everyone goes home happy.
This practice of being present in a conversation and listening carefully is called active listening. It helps people feel heard and understood. This can help build a good rapport, which can turn into a good deal.
Here’s a helpful graphic that dives deeper into how you can practice active listening.
Perception can have an interesting effect on how we see the world. Take, for example, the following image. It is often used to highlight how perceptions differ.
Do you see an old woman? Or a young one?
We interpret information differently depending on how it is presented to us. It’s a cognitive bias called the framing effect. You can use this knowledge to improve your negotiations.
For instance, consider this graphic from The Decision Lab:
You can see that “80% fat-free” sounds more appealing than “contains 20% fat,” even though it’s the same quantity.
This principle can easily be used as a negotiation tactic. To do this, frame your negotiations as a win-win opportunity.
For example, let’s say you want to make a deal for $30,000 but your client is set on $25,000. Now, instead of going back and forth over the price, try reframing what you have to offer.
Can you highlight the potential savings your client can enjoy by using your product? Can you address the risk of not using your services?
Ask yourself “How can I frame this solution so we both win?”
Keep in mind that you are not necessarily changing the end result. You are simply changing the way you frame the conversation.
Sometimes you can have the best negotiation tactics in your toolkit and still have to compromise. Many times, you will have to give something up to reach a mutual agreement.
This isn’t always a bad thing.
All relationships require some level of compromise.
You can’t entirely prevent it but you can prepare for it.
Negotiators who enter the room with a plan are often more successful than those who choose to “wing it.”
If you know you may have to compromise, why not be prepared for it?
To plan for what you can and can’t compromise, ask yourself, “What am I willing to give up for this opportunity/deal/product/relationship?”
Focus on what really matters, and don’t let minor details derail an otherwise good deal.
Another important part of planning your negotiation tactics is ranking your priorities.
There are things you absolutely need to have in order to enter a profitable agreement. Then, some things may be “good-to-have,” but aren’t a necessity.
Rank these so your priorities are clear to you.
If you must compromise on something, you need to decide what you can give up. This is where priority lists can help.
For example, building a good relationship with a client may be more important for you right now than making a big sale. In this situation, you can compromise on the price and earn the trust and goodwill of the other party.
You might have heard the adage “never show your cards.”
Many people believe you shouldn’t make the first offer and let the person in front “reveal” their number first.
This doesn’t work so well in real-life negotiations.
In fact, I’ve found, when it comes to negotiations, you should always be the first to say a number.
Remember, the starting number sets the tone for the rest of the negotiation. Being the first to state a number puts you in control of the negotiation process.
This practice is called anchoring.
Even if your number is extremely high or extremely low, now you can steer the negotiation conversation in the direction of your choice.
If your first number is very high, you have biased the negotiations to skew higher.
In most cases, this absurdly high number will be disregarded, but you are already angling for a higher price than if you came in much lower at a “reasonable” price.
Here are some examples of anchoring presented in a graphic by AMGfunds:
In some negotiations, the problem and the solution might be obvious. For example, when you negotiate a salary, both parties know you’re asking for more money in exchange for continuing to offer your services to the company.
Sometimes the real issues aren’t as obvious.
Let’s say you’ve lost interest in your current job, and need some free time to invest in a side hustle. You go to your boss and try negotiating more PTO or similar benefits.
You haven’t communicated your true needs, so your boss may not understand what you’re looking for. Maybe they’ll offer you a raise.
They think they’re doing the right thing, but both of you are stuck in an awkward situation because you couldn’t communicate your actual issue.
This often happens in negotiations. People negotiate for money when they really want more time, freedom, consistency, flexibility, or even another employee for support with the expected workload.
If the goal of a good negotiation process is to solve the problem, then communicating the real problem becomes a key aspect of negotiation tactics.
To succeed at negotiating, you need to understand what solution or outcome you’re seeking. This means you need to communicate the real problem—not just the most apparent one.
This graphic from Olivier Serrat will help you understand how to use it:
As we discussed earlier, framing your negotiation as a win-win situation can help you become a powerful negotiator.
Here’s why a win-win situation matters.
When we frame negotiations as a win-or-lose proposition, we automatically start with the assumption that someone has to lose.
(Hint: No one likes to lose.)
When you enter negotiations with a win-or-lose mindset, your goal is to convince the other party to accept defeat.
Instead, a powerful negotiator frames the negotiations as a win-win opportunity, so everyone is satisfied with the deal.
If you’ve framed the negotiation as a win-win opportunity, tried your best to compromise, discussed the underlying problems, and still failed to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, it may be time to walk away.
Many people are scared of having to walk away from a negotiation. This makes them more likely to take a bad deal rather than have no deal at all.
This is a counterproductive approach.
Being prepared to walk away will give you an advantage. It may not be what you hoped for when you entered the negotiation, but sometimes it’s better to say no than sign a bad contract.
If you’re comfortable walking away from the deal, you can use it as leverage. By having other options, you’re already in a stronger position—and now you’ve got a new level of experience to bring to your next round of negotiations with someone else.
Don’t say things like “let’s make this quick,” or “what about my profit?” This can make the person in front feel like you care more about your personal gains than the relationship you share.
Active listening can be an important negotiation skill as it helps you truly understand what the other person has to say. This helps you make better, more empathetic offers that are more likely to be accepted.
Many people believe negotiation tactics are manipulative and unethical, but that’s not true. As long as you’re respectful of the other person’s needs and committed to offering a fair deal, negotiation is perfectly ethical.
Negotiation is a skill anyone can practice. Even if you’ve never negotiated in your life, working with a simple negotiation technique can help you increase your confidence and improve your ability over time.
Negotiation tactics sound intimidating. Like they’re reserved for high-profile business people in suits.
That’s not true.
Each of the negotiating tactics we discussed today is powerful alone, but together, their impact can be incredibly effective.
Try them, and you’ll see.
Which negotiation tactic will you try first?