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Creating a popular blog isn’t hard. If you follow this guide you’ll be covered on the content end, and the rest just involves social media promotions. The hardest part about blogging is generating a positive ROI from it.
Over the last 7 years I’ve created 4 blogs: Pronet Advertising (I don’t own this blog anymore), Quick Sprout, KISSmetrics, and Crazy Egg. Each of those blogs not only exceeds 100,000 monthly visitors, but more importantly they drive customers to each of my businesses.
What I learned the hard way is that monetizing blogs is much more difficult than building traffic, but I feel that I know have a formula that works well. Here is the formula I use to monetize my blogs:
If you have a product or service, you should consider doing a weekly webinar. The webinar shouldn’t just be about your product or service, but instead it should be around something that benefits your potential customers.
For example, although we sell a customer analytics solution at KISSmetrics, we continually create webinars on marketing related topics as our ideal customer is a marketer.
By giving them useful information for about marketing, it builds trust within our brand and that drives signups. Plus, whenever we see a fit, we can always plug our analytics solution within our webinars.
Now to the tricky part about webinars is that you have to you to convince people who are watching them to signup for your product or service. Here are the two ways we do it:
1. Ask them to signup you can tell people who are watching your webinar to signup for your product or service. But I’ve found that if you get 10% of the people to convert you are doing really well, especially if you are driving them to a paid product. Realistically less than 5% of the viewers will actually signup for your paid product if you ask them to do so within the webinar.
2. Offer a free trial when people are signing up to watch your webinar, include a “check box” that gives them an option to signup for a free trial of product. We typically can get 41% of the people who signup for our webinars to optin for our free trial from this approach.
It’s much easier to drive traffic to your blog compared to your main site. The reason being is content marketing can drive millions of visitors through the use of infographics, content guides, and plain old blog posts.
Once you have a large audience reading your blog, you want to remarket them. Through services like Retargeter and Perfect Audience you can pixel all of your blog readers, so that when they browse random sites like TMZ, they’ll see a banner ad for your company.
What we’ve found is when you remarket to your blog readers, you will get a click through rate .2%. And out of all of those visitors, 3.58% will convert into a customer.
As for the cost of remarketing you shouldn’t be paying more than $2 a CPM for web based remarketing and you shouldn’t pay more than 50 cents a CPM for Facebook based remarketing.
Call to actions
There are a ton of ways you can drive traffic from your blog to your main website. The easiest ways to do is by through call to actions. There are 4 effective call to actions that you can easily use:
1. Hellobar through the use of Hellobar you can place a simple little orange bar (or whatever color your want) at the top of your blog posts. In that bar you can put whatever text and call to action button you want. On Quick Sprout my Hellobar message is: Learn how TechCrunch increased their traffic by 30% in 60 days. When people click on it, it drives traffic to a landing page that collects leads for me. 3.53% of all Quick Sprout readers click on the Hellobar.
2. Navigation link within your navigation bar, you can include a link back to your corporate website. On Quick Sprout, the navigation item I added to one of my corporate websites is the “consulting” link. That link gets clicked on 1.21 % of the time.
3. Static ad within my sidebar is an ad of “Ben Huh” that states “Neil helped us grow to 500 million pageviews a month”. That ad gets clicked on .94% of the time.
4. Scrolling ad at the bottom of my sidebar is an ad of Michael Arrington. As you scroll down to read the rest of this post, the ad scrolls down with you. That ad gets clicked on 2.58% of the time.
Although the call to actions don’t seem like they get clicked on a lot, when you combine them, I am able to divert 8.26% of all the traffic from Quick Sprout to one of my corporate sites. In the end all of those visitors drive over 6 figures in new revenue each month when you look at the lifetime value of each customer.
If you are targeting businesses as your primary customer type, case studies are another great way to drive customers to your business. There are a few ways you can do this:
Give away the farm case studies that tend to convert well in my experience are detailed ones. Think Harvard Business Review type of case studies Go so deep within each one that you are giving away your secrets so people know exactly what you did. And make sure you include a picture of the customer as well as a testimonial from them. And most importantly, sell your product or service within the case study.
Promote your case studies The easiest way to promote your case studies is to turn each one into a blog post. Just make sure it benefits your readers by teaching them something new. In addition to that you can link to your case studies within your sidebar like I do on Quick Sprout, or highlight them on the homepage of your blog like I do as well. Because of I showcase my case studies in these two areas case studies make up 3.73% of all of my traffic and 4.19% of all the people that read those case studies turn into leads.
One of the easiest ways to convert readers into customers is to offer them special promotions. From doing a blog post that offers readers a special discount, or a bundled deal like Appsumo tends to offer, you can get really creative in driving signups.
What we’ve found to convert the best is doing bundled deals. For example if you are a software as a service company, you can team up with 4 other companies and offer everyone’s product together at a super discount price. The best part about doing this is you can also get the 4 other companies to blog about the bundle so you won’t just be promoting this to your user base; you will be gaining access to the other companies’ audience.
The conversion rates on these types of offers range a lot as it depends largely on your offer and price. But to give you a sense of rough conversion numbers, you should be able to convert at least 100 of your readers assuming your blog gets over 100,000 unique visitors a month. If you can’t achieve those numbers, it means your offer isn’t good enough.
My favorite way to monetize a blog is through emails. It’s a much longer process than the above methods, but the conversion rates tend to be higher.
Now lets start with a the ways you can collect emails on your blog:
Popup by leveraging tools like PopUp Domination, 1% to 3% of your readers should be giving you their email address.
Sidebar by adding an email optin form within your sidebar, you should be able to convert .5% to 2% of your readers into an email subscriber.
Blog posts at then end of each of your blog posts you can add an email collection box. Typically .75 to 2% of your readers shall convert into an email subscriber with this option.
I know the percentages above vary a lot, but it depends on how many of these optin methods you use. The more you use, the more cannibalization there will be, so your percentages across the board will decrease. But if you offer something for free in exchange for someone’s email, such as an eBook, your percentages can potentially be on the higher end.
Once you have the emails you want to create an email drip system. Typically the email drip consists of at least 7 emails and it is sent to people automatically over time. With services like MailChimp, Aweber, or SendGrid you can easily create a drip. Within those emails you need to educate your customer base and sell them over time.
A good email drip should convert at around 5%. So if you collect 100 emails, 5 of them should turn into customers. And if you suck at writing drips, you can always hire consultants to write them for you.
The key to email copywriting is to educate first, build trust second, and then sell. And you can’t do this by just writing a few emails, which is why the rule of thumb is to sell on the 7th email as it is hard to accomplish all of that in less than 7 emails.
Blogging can be very profitable, you just have to focus on converting your readers into customers. Just don’t focus on monetizing your blog until you have at least 20,000 monthly readers.
I typically wait till I have at least 50,000 readers as the numbers haven’t panned out for me under that. In which the cost to maintain the blog costs more than the revenue I generate from it until I have at least 50,000 readers.
Author: Neil Patel
Courtesy of www.quicksprout.com
As 2013 is now just days away we’re into the critical planning period for most marketers.
While time will undoubtedly be spent drilling down into a multi-faceted digital strategy plan, necessity should dictate that at the very heart of it lies great content.
Industry websites like this one have been filled to the brim with posts preaching the content sermon during the latter part of 2012 and the New Year offers businesses a chance to realign budgets and plans to take full advantage of the shift.
For big businesses that may mean employing a chief content officer and launching a major new agency push to realign their available resource and skill sets, but for smaller firms this just a pipe dream.
But a smaller business can execute a successful and effective content strategy. There is still a huge amount you can do as a small business with a great idea creation process and time. Irrespective of what niche you occupy.
Here a few ideas to help you formulate a quality content led digital marketing plan.
How to Come up With Ideas
Great content strategies stand or fall by the quality of the ideas that come together to make them.
And the best bit is that ideas are free!
You don’t need huge budgets to brainstorm ideas. Yes, larger numbers of people can help with idea creation but in reality too many cooks do spoil the broth.
The optimal number for any one brainstorm is 10. Any more people in a room and communication and sharing breaks up into smaller sub-groups, which makes capturing output that more difficult and ineffective.
Creating the perfect environment is easy and cost effective. While meeting rooms work, rooms with light and things going on make for a more stimulating conversation. Pubs are great for this if you can secure a side room, alcove, or similar.
Other brainstorming tips include:
- Appoint an “idea recorder” to note each and every relevant idea.
- Clearly define the problem you wish to solve at the beginning.
- Develop ideas communally. Don’t always write down the initial idea as often the group will throw it around and create a better final output.
- Break every 90 mins and force people outside or to grab a drink. It allows the brain to reset.
Want to know even more? Read up on techniques such as reverse brainstorming, starbursting, brainwriting, or read this piece on how to keep them coming even when the ideas dry up.
How to Get Organized
Ideas are nothing without structure, however. The times we have seen great ideas die through a simple lack of structure, or a team full of great creative not living up to expectations because of their adversity to planning then we’d be rich.
How to Get Your Content Noticed?
This post isn’t really about planning or idea creation, however, but rather sharing real tactical tips on how you can make your small budget content plan fly.
Below is a list of cost effective tips that every business can action to maximize the ROI of any content investment made.
1. If Your Audience is Local
Create content of relevance for your community and seed to hyper local bloggers and print news outlets. Local paper reporters are hungry for any kind of good news story and often have trouble finding them! Help them by placing it in their laps. Google has also been offering local businesses a chance to register their business for some time, so do this as a bare minimum.
2. If You Have a Promotional Budget
It can work really well to assign budget to paid search, across Google and Facebook. Even Twitter at a push. By creating super targeted ads to download pages you can collect lots of data and reach many more people than without it. This works really well for podcasts, whitepapers etc. that can sit behind a sign up form.
3. If You Want More Return Visits
Interact. Allocate time to becoming a valuable part of the community by sharing knowledge via your blog, in forums, and in guest posts.
Add into your time the set up of Google news alerts around your brand and mentions of snippets of your latest content. By spotting them you can build relationships with those sharing your content. This creates brand allegiance and trust and in turn effects return visits.
You can then affect this further on page by offering loyalty or gamification schemes for repeat purchases, review writing, etc. There are now lots of great plug ins for key CMS platforms that help with this, including sweettooth for Magento or Punchtab, which can work across the board.
Customers who feel appreciated are going to give the love right back in the form of loyalty.
4. If You Want to Prove How Great You Are
Give your products away for free. It’s the best possible way of driving awareness and trialing as you de-risk the situation. People also like ‘free’ and it can be used to create new audience via competition outreach.
5. If You Want to Get Rid of Stock
Sales work but with every man and his dog doing it you need a way of turning it into a content event. Some try the “share to grab a bargain” option to incentivize social sharing, others get even more inventive.
There are sites like this one devoted to weird sale items. By adding in an unusual item, or creating a strange reason for the sale that make the “January Sale” norm look totally dull. Craigslist is full of oddities and you can use this to your advantage. Make sure your sale includes weird items to attract attention and links.
6. If You Want to Get Really Creative (Desperate!)
If you’re really creative (desperate!) there is no end to what you can do. This guy is selling the rights to his last name during 2013. You can bid to legally own his surname for the entire year!
7. If You Have Willing Friends
Check out guys like iwearyourshirt.com for a fun, creative, and relatively cheap way to get your company seen. These guys promote companies by wearing their T-shirts and doing crazy stuff for them via social media. You can do this too!
8. If You Like Face to Face
Organize a meet-up for either local people or niche enthusiasts via a site like meetup.com. It may not seem like a great way of creating or marketing content initially but the reality is those attending will write and tweet about the experience.
9. If You’re an Expert
A great way to engender trust is to share that knowledge. Publishing whitepapers, eBooks and regular quality article creation will help build that association. You can do this “off page” too by getting involved in Q&A aggregators like Yahoo Answers, LinkedIn Groups and Quora.
10. If You Feel Like Giving
Donating to charity can create great positive PR. You can wrap the giving element into some kind of competition also where the winner can decide who the beneficiary is. You can also work with the charities themselves to leverage audience reach.
11. If You Have a 404 Page
Make your 404 page memorable. It costs very little to get really creative with your ‘this page is broken’ message like these here.
12. If You Like Surprises
Why not randomly upgrade people. Everyone loves an unqualified and unexpected extra and Zappos have made it a key marketing trick. It’s also relatively inexpensive to do.
13. If You Like Saying Thank You
Why not create or improve the existing thank you page on your site that a customer receives shortly after buying.
Even better why not partner with a strategically relevant business to reciprocally exchange space on each other’s thank you page? This works incredibly well if your products or services have real synergies. So, think car dealers and warranty businesses for example.
14. If You Like Debate
Make sure you content plan has a regular opinion piece as opinions sell papers. Opinion is something we aren’t yet that great at online and it’s a real opportunity in your niche as people will come back to it and interact with it for its controversy.
15. If You Like Using Emotions
Fear, love, and the other emotions are key triggers to brand affinity and purchase. Ensure you have content mapped to this as part of your plan based on the emotions most important to your particular niche. Just be careful if you use humor, as you need to clearly understand your audience to get it right.
Author: Simon Penson
Courtesy of www.searchenginewatch.com
SEO is vital for small businesses. One way that these small businesses can improve their business website is through images. Images play a vital role in pulling more traffic to a web site as well as converting leads. This post will suggest 3 ways to use images effectively to improve SEO.
1. Optimize Your Image tags
Your image tags can play a vital role in getting both Google and your site visitors to take note of your images. Possibly one of the easiest ways to boost your search engine optimization is to update and optimize your image tags. When a site visitor hovers over an image a flag will pop up with a description of that image. If your tags are not optimized the description may simply say something like “image 1″. Optimize your image tag so that the description supplies both Google and your visitors with a little extra information about each image. Googlebot will be able to use the information to decipher which category/search results to include that image/page content in. For example: If you offer massage services in New York, you would want your image to indicate this. This example shows a well optimized image tag:
2. Optimize Images for People not Search Engines
Although your images should be optimized for search engines, it is people who will be doing the purchasing. Always bear in mind that your customers will be viewing your images and they need to appeal to them. Here are some tips to bear in mind when optimizing images.
- Relevance Keep the images relevant to the headline and text.
- Size Use images that are big enough to capture and hold the visitor’s attention. A nice big picture inserted into a text will break up the text and help the reader better understand what the text is all about.
- Quality High quality images are best for optimization. The viewer should be able to look at a clear image with details.
- RSS feed Your images should be optimized to facilitate those using RSS feeds from your site. This will allow your visitors to scan through the content quickly. Your image also serves to draw attention to your text content.
- Create memory Your images should connect with your site visitors and create a lasting impression so that your visitors will remember your site.
3. Optimize for Social Media
Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or any other social networking site, pictures are the most shared content over these platforms. When someone likes your image and decides to share it you gain added exposure, and this increases as more and more people like and share your image. Overall you will gain a boost to your site traffic. A few tips to bear in mind are:
- People share images that are amazing. If your image is lame no one will be interested.
- Use images that will surprise and make people laugh.
- Use standard image formats such as PG, GIF and PNG as they are the most used forms in social media.
- Make use of photo sharing sites such as Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, Picassa, TwitPic and Photobucket. Flickr is said to help with image optimization for Yahoo.
Images play a vital role in keeping a web site alive. They ensure people do more than just browse your web site it allows them to experience it. Images that are well optimized will boost site traffic and convert leads.
Author: Charles Dearing
Courtesy of www.genuineseo.net