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Action Content: Turn Fans into Customers [Plus a Free Bonus for You]

4 Essential Content Types - Action Content

This article is part of our series on the 4 Essential Types of Content Every Marketing Strategy Needs. Make sure to get your special free bonus at the end of the article.

So far, we’ve covered Attraction, Authority, and Affinity content. Now it’s time to turn your fans into customers with Action content.

And this is where all the work you’ve done as a content marketer starts translating into revenue for yourself, your clients, or your organization.

The good news is that Action content is probably the easiest type of content to understand. But the bad news is that it can also be some of the most difficult to produce.

We’ll dig into the reasons why shortly, but since we are in the habit of defining each term before we get started, let’s do that here for Action content:

Action content is content designed to get somebody to take an action.

How about that for easy?

The marriage of copywriting and content marketing

Content marketing is a new kid on the block in some ways, surging in popularity in the last five years.

In other ways, content marketing has been paired with advertising for quite some time. Take John Deere’s 118-year-old magazine, The Furrow, as an example.

The Michelin Guide, first published in 1900, is another great example of classic content marketing.

However, what I’m talking about here is the marriage between copywriting and content marketing.

A marriage between copywriting and content marketing helps you attract attention, increase engagement, and then ultimately, persuade someone to take action.

Types of actions

When you create content, you should have an action in mind that you’d like the reader to take. Actions could include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Asking your readers to comment on a blog post
  • Asking your readers to share an article or podcast
  • Asking people to participate in a poll or survey
  • Encouraging people to download a free video training course
  • Persuading people to subscribe to your email newsletter
  • Convincing people to follow you on social media
  • Enticing people to hire you
  • Getting people to buy your product

Naturally, you’ll want to start off with small requests. Get people used to taking your advice and following your instructions.

You first want people to say, “Hey, I want to pay attention to this person (or this company, or this brand) because it’s really relevant to my current challenge and the journey I’m on.”

You get people to warm up to you and trust you — step by step — until the sale, and then the repeat sale or the recurring sale.

Let’s look at some successful pieces of Action content.

Examples of Action content

The most obvious piece of Action content you will create is promotional — sales copy that you publish and run for the duration of the offer. After the sale is over, we recommend you remove the post from your site.

Action content also includes landing pages, like this one on content marketing that encourages visitors to register for Copyblogger’s content library.

In addition to those two cases, your best content will combine all four types of “A” content. Here’s a stellar example: What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Copywriting?

What makes it so great?

  • It’s useful. The headline suggests you are about to learn something important. The question-style headline also helps attract attention. People wonder whether or not they do indeed know the answer. They think, “This might be too important to miss.”
  • It’s authoritative. Sonia Simone’s years of working in the copywriting and content marketing world turned what could have been a shallow answer into an extended clinic in effective writing.
  • It takes a stand. The content exposes people to one of our core philosophies at Copyblogger: Really good content is unsurpassed at building rapport, delivering a sales message without feeling “salesy,” and getting potential customers to stick around.
  • It’s laced with action. You might not see it at first blush, but this piece of content motivates readers to check out the educational resources Copyblogger has to offer — from the My.Copyblogger free membership site to the paid offers like Authority and Content Marketing Certification.

The success of this content wasn’t accidental. There was a plan: the content primes people for when we actually do make an offer.

How to write Action content

Writing something interesting to fill space and keep people reading won’t cut it here.

You need to pair your content with a business goal.

That’s not as complicated as it might seem, because all you have to do is ask yourself this simple question before you write each piece of content:

What is the action I want my audience to take?

Now, getting people to actually take that action requires some skill. Like I said above, this is the hardest type of content to master. It takes time to learn copywriting skills, and it also takes time to master them.

The following resources can help you:

Once you’ve worked through that list, the next best thing you can do is to practice. Write. Then write some more.

And on that note, let me close with a little encouragement.

Keep your chin up

When I first got into copywriting, I threw myself into it whole hog.

I devoured every book I could get my hands on. Tore through successful promotional pieces. Listened to a legion of cassette tapes on the art of direct response copywriting, human psychology, and negotiations — yeah, this was way before podcasts. Wrote a mountain of sales letters, emails, and text ads (and then watched mentors tear them apart).

This went on for years. I thought I knew my stuff. However, it wasn’t until about Year Five when things clicked … when I turned the corner and all that head knowledge became heart knowledge.

The moral of this short story is that if I can learn how to write Action content, so can you. But it’s going to take time. Don’t expect too much of yourself too soon. Just start learning, publishing content, measuring results, adjusting, asking for feedback, and so on.

You can do it.

Get your free ebook: 4 Essential Types of Content Every Marketing Strategy Needs

Build a content strategy based on the four content types in this series! Get your free ebook, 4 Essential Types of Content Every Marketing Strategy Needs.

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Over to you …

What’s your favorite example of Action content?

Drop us a note in the comments section below to share your thoughts.

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How New & Existing Customers Interact With Your Paid Search Ads Differently

Columnist Andy Taylor shares data from Merkle|RKG that illustrates how users behave when clicking on ads and how they evaluate ad choices on a SERP.

The post How New & Existing Customers Interact With Your Paid Search Ads Differently appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Should You Write for Fans or Customers?

tough choice: admirers or buyers

Mickey Spillane did not suffer from delusions of grandeur.

He didn’t expect his novels — featuring private eye Mike Hammer — to be regarded as great works of literature.

What he wanted was for them to sell.

I have no fans. You know what I got? Customers. And customers are your friends. – Mickey Spillane

His books have sold more than 225 million copies, so this approach served him well.

As we build an online presence with our content marketing, we have to answer this essential question:

Should we develop fans or customers?

The answer isn’t as straightforward as it may seem.

Why develop fans?

Your content marketing may have fans — people who love everything you write, contribute ideas in your comment section on a regular basis, and support your business by participating in any free offer you make.

Not all fans become customers, but some fans may become second customers.

Second customers are people who help you spread the word about your business. They faithfully share all the content you create.

They may not give you money, but they give you something equally valuable: referrals that bring you more customers over time.

Fans are important, and fans who become second customers are critical for your business.

Second customers help your business expand across the web. They do some of your promotional heavy lifting for you, so spend time cultivating them.

How to cultivate second customers

The most valuable second customers have large audiences — every share from them causes your traffic to spike.

To give your second customers the type of content they love to share, spend time thinking about how your content can meet their needs.

What is it about your content that they find useful? Does it:

  • Appeal to their audience?
  • Teach something they want their readers to learn?
  • Expand on a topic they already cover, but show it in a new light or explain it in greater depth?

If you can, try to have a short conversation with a few of your most valuable second customers to find out why they enjoy sharing your content.

Their answers will help you create more of the type of content they find useful — which will result in more shares for you.

Customers start out as fans

As a Copyblogger reader, content marketing is probably the primary technique you use to promote your business.

If that’s the case, most customers will start out as fans and readers. As you continue to deliver useful, interesting information to them over time, a percentage of your fans will become customers — those people Mickey Spillane refers to as friends.

I’m 82 years old, wherever I go everybody knows me, but here’s why … I’m a merchandiser. I’m not just a writer. I stay in every avenue you can think of. – Mickey Spillane

Content marketing helps develop and maintain healthy relationships with your customers, both before and after the sale.

Before the sale, you’ll deliver:

After the sale, you’ll deliver:

  • Onboarding (first-time customer) content so they can make the most of their purchase
  • How-to information so they can maximize the value of the item or service they bought
  • Content that helps them move toward a repeat purchase or an upsell to the next logical product or service

How can you create content to serve both fans and customers?

Can you imagine a piece of content that is a unique and entertaining take on your area of expertise combined with an upsell to the next logical product or service?

Me neither.

The content you create with the goal of getting your fans and second customers to help you spread it and the content you create for existing customers is different. There’s no need to shoehorn one into the other.

You serve no one when you wedge fan content and existing customer information into one monster-like creation — and you might even scare people away.

This is where the serial nature of content marketing shines.

Here’s the thing:

It makes the most sense to think about content marketing as a verb, not a noun.

Content marketing happens over time. No single post must meet the needs of every fan and customer you want to reach.

Appeal to fans or customers, one piece of content at a time

If you’ve been trying to make every piece of content meet the needs of every potential reader, stop.

Take a step back and refocus your individual content pieces so they appeal to specific slices of your readers: fans, second customers, customers, repeat customers.

Doing this will allow you to relax and target each piece of content toward a particular group. It takes the pressure off of any individual piece of content to do everything you need for your business.

The result?

Individual pieces of content will resonate with the particular group you want to reach. You can speak directly to them, and they’ll identify with the content. They’ll think, ‘It’s like this was written for me!’

So, should you write for fans or customers?

The answer is “yes.”

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How to Protect Your Customers by Understanding PCI Compliance for Credit Card Security

tt-credit-card-security

Qualified Security Assessor Sean Mathena reveals the inside scoop on PCI (Payment Card Industries) compliance and the rules you need to understand when accepting credit cards in your business, online or offline.

PCI compliance is about securing credit card information and protecting your customers.

Sean Mathena is a Qualified Security Assessor and one of the most experienced Level 1 PCI assessors in the world. Your reputation and your business can be damaged or destroyed if you aren’t securing credit card data properly.

In this 18-minute episode of Technology Translated, host Scott Ellis and Sean Mathena discuss:

  • What is PCI?
  • The levels of PCI compliance
  • Who is responsible for being compliant?
  • How to make sure you’re compliant
  • What happens if you’re not compliant or security gets compromised?

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Technology Translated on iTunes

Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM

About the author

Rainmaker.FM

Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand business advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

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How to Use SEO to Attract and Retain Customers

ml-seo-attraction-retention

What does it take to rank in Google now?

And how should SEO fit into your plans of attraction, retention, and conversion?

In this episode of The Mainframe, hosts Chris Garrett and Tony Clark reveal:

  • How social and SEO go together, and how listening will help your SEO
  • What SEO means to your overall content strategy
  • Why getting rankings means making real friends
  • Why traffic is just the beginning of your digital business strategy

Click Here to Listen to

The Mainframe on iTunes

Click Here to Listen on Rainmaker.FM

About the author

Rainmaker.FM

Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand business advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

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Engage More Customers By Becoming a Content Marketing Sommelier

content marketing sommelia

A sommelier is known for having extensive knowledge about wines, and how to complement the sensory experience of each type with perfect food pairings. Many train for years in hopes of finally becoming a Master Sommelier.

When embarking on a content marketing initiative, it’s important to know how to maximize the sensory experience of your content. A Master Content Marketing Sommelier knows what will best engage their customers, be it a complex, full-bodied blog post or a light, crisp infographic.

Demand Metric found that content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62% less. This means marketers have a ripe opportunity to create content that expertly meets the needs of their audience.

Below are 6 tips to help you become a sommelier of content marketing.

#1 – Balance: The level of harmony between acidity, tannins, fruit, oak, and other elements in a wine; a perceived quality that is more individual than scientific.

wine balance

Content marketing can be a great tool for lead nurturing if implemented correctly. Successful content will harmoniously create value for your audience and move them toward a purchasing decision.

First and foremost, it is essential that your content offer useful and relevant information for your audience. If your message doesn’t help them solve their problem or meet a current need, they’ll move on to someone who does.

However, that does not mean there isn’t an opportunity to incorporate a call to action, where it makes sense. In fact, many marketers are leaving leads on the table by offering a piece of content without asking for contact information in exchange for the download.

Another often overlooked opportunity is adding calls to action within your blog post. This can be as simple as asking a question that helps your reader internalize the information and engage with your content by sharing their opinion. As long as you achieve balance between your promotional element and the value you add for the reader, you’ll create a pleasant experience.

#2 – Blend: The process whereby two or more grape varieties are combined after separate fermentation; common blends include Cotes de Rhone and red and white Bordeaux.

wine blend

Content marketing should not be a stand-alone program within digital marketing. In order to truly be masterful, it must be combined with other digital marketing efforts such as:

  • SEO
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Social Media
  • Paid Search & Social Media Advertising
  • Conversion Optimization
  • Website Analytics

Just as a good blended wine combines the strengths of each vintage to enhance the flavor experience, a good marketing blend puts the different elements of marketing to work to amplify your message.

#3 – Legs: A term used to describe how wine sticks to the inside of a wineglass after drinking or swirling.

wine legs

Even if your customers aren’t ready to buy right now, you want to remain top of mind when they are ready to make the leap. So the question is; how can you create stickiness with your content marketing?

One simple way is to create a consistent posting schedule. If you continue to offer relevant information and sound advice on a consistent basis, your customers will come back to you when they have another need.

#4- Table Wine: A term used to describe wines of between 10 and 14 percent alcohol; in Europe, table wines are those that are made outside of regulated regions or by unapproved methods.

Table Wine Image

If you are an avid wine drinker (like myself) then you know that you’re typically better off skipping the table wine or house wine. It’s usually the cheaper option, but it’s definitely made for quantity rather than quality.

When it comes to your content marketing, you’re better off doing a few things very well, than trying to do too much and falling short. Prioritize your content marketing for impact and form an understanding of what you can handle in-house, what may need to be outsourced and what needs cut from your plan. A few high-quality pieces of content are more valuable in the long-run than high-quantity “table wine” content.

# 5 – Yield: The amount of grapes harvested in a particular year.

Yield Vineyard

The vintner who fails to measure their vineyard’s yield and adjust their plans accordingly won’t be in business for long. If you don’t measure the yield of your content marketing, it will be difficult to see how it is performing and what you can do better. As with any sales or marketing program, you must:

  • Determine your critical measurements based on business goals
  • Define both short and long-term goals
  • Tie performance back to leads and sales metrics

There is no replacement for content marketing measurement and it should always remain top of mind when deploying new tactics. For each piece of content you create, make sure to ask yourself: Does this align with my objectives, and what do I hope to achieve?

#6 – Pruning: The annual vineyard chore of trimming back plants from the previous harvest.

pruning vines

Vintners prune their plants to enable them to grow and thrive. Once you’ve given your content marketing time to mature, it’s time to go back and decide where to “prune” your program. You may find that your audience responds really well to long-form blog content but does not care much for video, for example.

Take the time to find which tactics are performing the best and weed out those that are not effective. A little strategic pruning can make sure that you focus on creating the content that resonates most with your audience.

Pour Yourself a Nice Crisp Glass of Content Marketing

Understanding what makes a successful content marketing strategy can be as tricky as mastering the appreciation of fine wine. Both take practice, dedication and attention to detail. What have you found is your biggest challenge in creating successful content marketing that inspires action?

All definitions are courtesy of WineEnthusiast

Photos via Shutterstock: First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh


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5 Steps to Revising Your Content Marketing Strategy to Attract and Retain Future Customers

Authority Rainmaker 2015 speaker Joe Pulizzi

This is not a how-to post; this is a how-to-think post.

What troubles me about the majority of current content creation activities from companies is the sheer lack of strategy and purpose.

I see a lot of activities — tweets, posts, articles, infographics, and more — that don’t support a real business goal.

Content Marketing Institute’s latest research even found that only 38 percent of all marketers believe they are effective at content marketing.

Your business goal that drives your particular content creation strategy should be to build an audience.

With a loyal audience you can sell, well, practically anything you want.

An upside-down model

I believe most businesses are doing it wrong. Today, the majority of businesses put their hearts and souls into developing some amazing product, and then scratch like heck to get people to pay attention to it.

Wow, that seems like a lot of work. Why not just build the audience first and then develop the product once you truly understand the needs of the audience?

I believe this is the go-to-market strategy for businesses in the future — so much so that my next book is about this exact topic.

Don’t believe me? I’m amazed by the amount of contemporary businesses that have had success with this method; build the audience first and then create the product later.

Your own Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger Media, created content for 19 months without offering a product. Over that time, he worked to build a loyal audience (and succeeded).

Today, Copyblogger Media is one of the fastest growing SaaS (software as a service) companies on the planet.

For me, personally, I launched a blog on April 26, 2007. For 14 months all we did was build an audience. Then, we launched our first product in June of 2008.

Today, the Content Marketing Institute has been named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies three years in a row.

Social Media Examiner, Moz, Smosh TV, and Lauren Luke have all done the same; they built multi-million-dollar businesses by doing one simple thing — building an audience. Product development and sales came later.

Rethinking the model

Billy Beane, as General Manager of the Oakland A’s, had none of the resources of a large-market team for putting a championship baseball team together.

But by focusing on a rarely used statistic, the On-Base Percentage (OBP), he restructured his team. That year, Oakland broke the American League record for most consecutive wins (20) with one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball.

Today, the majority of MLB teams leverage the components of Beane’s philosophy.

Paul Westhead, the basketball coach for Loyola Marymount from 1988–1990, threw out the traditional basketball playbook and focused on shooting as many times as humanly possible during a game.

He held the simple belief that having significantly more shooting attempts than the competition would tip the scales in Loyola’s favor.

Over those three years, Loyola led the country in scoring, with an amazing 122.4 points per game in 1990 (the all-time NCAA record).

Better yet, this small program nearly went all the way to the Final Four that year (losing to UNLV).

In 2013, Chip Kelly left college football powerhouse Oregon to coach in the National Football League (NFL) for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kelly espoused the theory that a faster-moving offense, which eliminates the amount of seconds between plays, would create a competitive advantage and keep defenses without the ability to substitute.

Through this philosophy, Kelly turned the Eagles program around, and now, into one of the most successful franchises in football. Kelly’s offensive strategy has redefined the league, with many teams converting to his system.

Why did I just tell you these three stories?

Because each of the three make an incredible amount of sense, but at the time, they were “different” than what others did.

In the future, thousands of businesses from around the globe will leverage the power of building an audience as go-to-market strategy.

Why? Not just because you are first and foremost building a loyal audience directly, but also because having a singular focus on audience gives you the best understanding of the most beneficial products to sell.

Whether you already have a product or are just getting started, here are five steps you need to take now to attract and retain future customers of your product or service.

Step 1. Choose the right content niche

Select a content niche where you have at least a chance of being the leading informational provider in your industry.

Your content should be the very best in your industry — better than all your competitors’ and better than that of the media and publishers in your space.

How can you be the leading, trusted expert in your industry if it is not? The key to that happening is choosing a focused niche where that goal is not out of your reach.

Step 2. Focus all your efforts on building an opt-in email list

Your content should have one call to action, and that is to sign up for your email list. The goal of any content you produce is to get and keep a subscriber.

Remove other calls to action in your content. Fans and followers are great, but you don’t own them.

I can’t remember a time when email marketing has been more critical or important.

Step 3. Produce content consistently

Content delivery on a regular schedule is a promise to your reader. Don’t break your promise.

A blog post should be published at the same time each day or each week, depending on your schedule. Your email newsletter should be sent regularly without fail.

To become the “must see TV” of your industry, your subscribers need to know when to tune in.

Step 4. Add “outcomes” to your editorial calendar

To implement this step, you need to add an extra section to your editorial calendar.

An “outcome” is the problem you solve for the reader, and a central focus for your editorial team.

How are you making your readers’ lives better? If your content doesn’t answer that question, try again.

Step 5. Prepare the three-legged stool model

The greatest media companies in the world don’t only focus on digital content. Look at ESPN, the New York Times, or the Huffington Post.

If you want to become the leading media company in your industry, plan to dominate multiple content channels, including digital, print, and events.

It all begins with the audience

No matter what your ultimate revenue source is, whether you sell advertising, paid content, consulting services, or a manufactured product, you’ll achieve your goals with more ease if you focus your content creation energy on building a loyal audience.

Now is the time.

Want to take your content marketing to the next level?

Joe Pulizzi is among the powerhouse lineup of speakers who will be presenting at Authority Rainmaker May 13–15, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. It’s live content marketing training and networking for real-world results.

Super Early Bird pricing is now in effect, which saves you $ 500 off the full price. The price goes up on January 16, so don’t wait and pay more.

About the Author: Joe Pulizzi is founder of Content Marketing Institute, which puts on the largest in-person content marketing event in the world: Content Marketing World. You can find Joe on Twitter @JoePulizzi. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange.

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Goodbye Frequent Flyer Miles: Google Saying No Credit Cards For Large AdWords Customers

Large Customer Sales accounts will be transitioned to invoicing.

The post Goodbye Frequent Flyer Miles: Google Saying No Credit Cards For Large AdWords Customers appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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How Some Companies Succeed at Converting Visitors yet Fail to Earn Great Customers – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

It’s easy to think that conversion is the end goal for most marketing teams, but any business that relies on customer loyalty needs to take a it a step farther. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains a few of the reasons that people we thought were new customers often decide to leave.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video transcription

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m talking about some conversion rate optimization mistakes that we’ve made. They’re pernicious and challenging to understand, because we’ve succeeded in one big important aspect of CRO, which is converting visitors into customers. That might sound like a great thing, but in fact sometimes being great at that can be a terrible thing. I’ll talk about exactly why and how.

I’ve seen this at Moz. We’ve had a little bit of a problem with it. I’ve seen this at many, many other companies. I want to try and use Moz as an empathetic example to everyone out there of how these problems happen.

Succeeding at converting visitors into customers is not the end goal for the vast, vast majority of companies, unless you have a product that you know you’re only ever going to sell once, and that will be the only brand interaction that you hope to have with that human being ever or that organization ever in your lives. Well, usually that’s not the case.

Usually, most companies have a relationship that they want to have with their customers. They’re trying to earn that customer’s brand loyalty, and they’re trying to earn future sales from that person. That means building a longer term relationship, which is how CRO can occasionally go very, very wrong.

I’ve got the three primary examples. These are the three types of things that I’ve seen happen in company after company. It’s not just true in software, but software makes a particularly good example of it because we have a retention type model. It’s not just about converting someone, but it’s also about keeping them part of your service and making your product consistently useful to them, etc.

Here’s our friendly Joe Searcher. Joe goes ahead and searches for SEO tools. Then, Joe gets to the free trial of Moz Pro, which you could conceivably get to if you search in Google for that. We often have AdWords ads running for things like that and maybe we rank too.

Then, Joe goes, “All right. Yeah, maybe I’ll give this a spin. It’s a 30 day free trial.” He sees all the stuff in there. He’s like, “All right. There’s the Moz Bar. Maybe I’ll try that, and I’ll set up my Moz Analytics campaign. I see I’m getting some crawl errors and keyword scores.”

Then, Joe is like, “Man, I don’t know. I don’t really feel totally invested in this tool. I’m not sure why I should trust the results. Maybe I don’t know quite enough about SEO to validate this. Or I know enough about SEO to know that there are some little things here and there that are wrong. Maybe they told me to do some keyword stuff that I don’t feel totally comfortable with. I don’t trust these guys. I’m out of here. I’m going to quit.”

Well, that kind of sucked, right? Joe had a bad experience with Moz. He probably won’t come back. He probably won’t recommend us to his friends.

Unfortunately, we also provided a customer with access to our stuff, ran a credit card, and accumulated some charges and some expenses in his first month of use, and lost him as a customer. So it’s a lose-lose. We were successful at converting, but it ended up being bad for both Joe and for Moz.

The problem is really here. Something fascinating that you may not know about Moz is that, on average, before someone takes a free trial of our software, they visit our website eight times before they take a free trial. Many, many visits are often correlated with high purchase prices.

But for a free trial, there are actually a lot of software companies who convert right on the first or the second visit. I think that might be a mistake. What we’ve observed in our data and one of the reasons that we’ve biased not to do this, to try and actually avoid converting someone on the first or second visit, is because Moz customers that convert on the first, or second, or third visit to our website tend to leave early and often. They tend to be not longstanding, loyal customers who have low churn rates and those kinds of things. They tend to have a very high churn and low retention.

Those who visit Moz ten times or more before converting turn out to be much more loyal. In fact, it keeps going. If they visit 14 times or more or 20 times or more, that loyalty keeps increasing. It’s very fascinating and strongly suggests that before you convert someone you actually want to have a brand relationship.

Joe needs to know that Moz is going to be helpful, that he can trust it, that he’s got the education and the knowledge and the information, and he’s interacted with community, and he’s consumed content. He’s been like, “Okay, I get what’s going on. When I see that F Keyword Score, I know that like, oh, right, there’s some stemming here. It might not be catching all the interpretations of this keyword that I’ve got in there. So I give Moz a little leeway in there because this other stuff works well for me, as opposed to quitting at the first sign of trouble.”

This happens in so, so many companies. If you’re not careful about it, it can happen to you too.

Another good example here is, let’s say, Mary. Mary is a heavy Twitter user. She has great social following and wants to do some analysis of her Twitter account, some competitive Twitter accounts. So she finds Followerwonk, which is great. It’s a wonderful tool for this.

She says, “Okay, I want to get access to some of the advanced reports. I need to become a Moz Pro member to do that. What does Moz have to do with Followerwonk? Okay, I get it. Moz owns Followerwonk, so I’m getting to the free trial page for Moz Pro. Weirdly, this trial page doesn’t even talk about Followerwonk in here. There’s one mention in the Research Tools section. That’s kind of confusing. Then, I’m going to get into the product. Now you’re trying to have me set up a Moz Analytics account. I don’t even own and control a website or do SEO. I’m trying to use Followerwonk. Why am I paying $ 99 a month if my free trial extends? Why would I do that to get all this other stuff if I just want Wonk? That doesn’t make any sense, so I’m out of here. I’m going to quit.”

Essentially, we created a path where Mary can’t get what she actually wants and where she’s forced to use things that she might not necessarily want. Maybe she doesn’t want them at all. Maybe she has no idea what they do. Maybe she has no time to investigate whether they’re helpful to her or not.

We’re essentially devaluing our own work and products by bundling them all together and forcing Mary, who just wants Followerwonk, to have to get a Moz subscription. That kind of sucks too.

By the way, we validated this with data. On average, visitors who come through Followerwonk and sign up for a free trial perform terribly. They have very, very low stickiness until and unless they actually make it back to the Followerwonk tool immediately and start using that and use that exclusively. If they get wrapped up inside the Pro subscription and all the other tools, Open Site Explorer, Moz Analytics and Moz Bar, Keyword Difficulty, and Fresh Web Explorer, blah, they’re overwhelmed. They’re out of here. They didn’t get what they want.

The other thing that really sucks is we’ve seen a bunch of research. There’s been psychological research done that basically suggests that when you do this, when you bundle a whole bunch of things together, they are inherently cheapened and believe the value to be less, and they feel themselves cheated. If you buy all of this stuff and you only wanted Followerwonk, you feel like well, Followerwonk must only be worth like $ 20 a month.

That’s not actually the case. Inside the business we can see, oh, there are all these different cost structures associated with different products, and some people who are heavy users of this and not heavy users of that make up for it. Okay, but your customers don’t have that type of insight, so they’re not seeing it. Again, quick conversion has failed to create real value.

Number three, what is SEO? We’re going to have Fred here. Fred’s going to do a search for “what is SEO.” He’s going to get to the free trial of Moz Pro maybe because we were running an advertisement or that kind of thing. Then, Fred’s going to go, “All right. Yeah, that sounds good. I want to do SEO on my website. I know that’s important. Search traffic is important.”

Then, he starts getting into the product and goes through the experience. He has to enter his keywords, and he’s like, “Man, I don’t know what keywords they mean. What do they mean by keywords? I need to learn more about SEO. I’m out of here. I’m quitting this product. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

The problem here is an education gap. Essentially, before Fred is able to effectively use and understand the product, he needs education, and unfortunately what we’ve done is end around and put the conversion message ahead of the education process and thus cost Fred. This, again, happens all the time. Companies do this.

There are ways to solve these. There are three things you can do that will really solve these conversion issues. First, measure your customer journey, not just your conversion path. So many folks look at paths to conversion. You have your reports set up in Google Analytics, and you look at assisted conversions and path to conversions, but you don’t look at customer journey, which is what do people do after they convert.

If you’re an e-commerce or a retail store, you care about this too, even though it seems like a one-time purchase. Do they come back? Do they buy more stuff from you? Are they amplifying? Are they sharing the product? Do you have a good score with them when you ask people on Net Promoter Score like, “Hey, would you suggest or recommend using this service, using our ecommerce shop? Did you have a good experience?”

If you’re seeing low scores there, low return visits, low engagement with the product that you’re offering, chances are good that you’re doing something like this. You’re converting someone too early.

Second, you don’t want to cheapen, mislead, or bundle products without evidence that people will actually enjoy them, appreciate them, and that it matches your customer need, as we’ve done here by bundling all of these things with Followerwonk. It may be the case that this can go one way and not the other.

You might say, as we did, I was like, “Oh, I’m in SEO and I love Followerwonk. It’s so useful for all this stuff. But I wasn’t thinking about the 600 people a day who go into Followerwonk just for Twitter analytics and don’t really have a whole lot of need around other SEO tools.”

So optimizing the bundle one way and not the other was probably a mistake. I think it’s a mistake that Peter Bray and the team are working on fixing now, my mistake that they’re now working on fixing. I apologize for that.

This bundling can also be very misleading. You need to be careful in validating that customers actually want two products, two services, two goods together.

Finally, this is a huge part of how content marketing works. You want to educate before you convert. Educate before you convert and find ways to filter for not right customers.

Imagine if in Fred’s process here, he’d searched for “what is SEO,” and he got to the Beginner’s Guide. Then, he got to the free trial page, and we had identified, “Hey, Fred’s never been here before. He just got done with the Beginner’s Guide when he got to the keyword page here.”

We can nudge him maybe with some proactive suggestions here. But if he goes through and starts entering keywords and he can’t figure it out, maybe we need someone from our Customer Success Team to actually email him and say, “Hey, Fred, is there something I can help you with? Can we set up this process for you? Do you want to have a phone call,” these kinds of things. We need to provide some assistance.

Likely you’re doing one of these things as well. When you get aggressive about converting customers fast and early, yes, you can really juice your revenue. You can turn a low conversion rate into a high one. But you can also in the long run cost your company if you aren’t measuring and thinking about the right things.

Hopefully, you’ll do that and have a great customer journey experience throughout your conversion process. We will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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But I Have to Buy Links, Ads, and Exposure, Because My Customers Won’t Amplify My Content – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

We hear frequently from marketers who are frustrated that their audiences aren’t sharing their content, making them think the only way to promote their brands is to pay for exposure. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand shows you a new way to think about your marketing that may be just the solution.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video Transcription

Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition Whiteboard Friday. So last week I was in Minneapolis for the MnSearch Summit, and it was a very impressive event. But I had a number of conversations with folks there. I talked about some content marketing and SEO stuff in one of my keynotes, and what I heard was something that I’ve heard many, many times over the years. That was nearly this exact phrase: “But I have to have to buy links or ads or exposure because my customers won’t amplify or share my content.”

You’ve probably heard this too if you work in marketing, or maybe you’re in this world. Maybe you watch Whiteboard Friday sometimes, and you think to yourself, yeah, that’s great when you talk about how your customers are going to go out and share this content you created, but my customers don’t do that. So how am I supposed to get all the social shares that lead to links, all the mentions from blogs, all the press? I’m shouting into a graveyard. Nobody’s listening.

Okay, I hear you. This is you, and you’re trying to amplify your own content, and you’re saying, “Hey, we have this great stuff. I made this great content for you guys. I’ve produced whatever this great product.”
Your customers, your current or potential customers are essentially doing nothing. They’re shutting it down. They’re keeping quiet.

This can happen for a number of reasons. The two most common that I hear are, number one, they’re in a demographic group that doesn’t use social media or the Web to share things, and that can often be older, more traditional folks in B2B types of companies. It can sometimes also be because they don’t want their peers or their friends finding out that they use you.

So in one of the examples where I had this conversation in Minneapolis, the person I was talking to was working at a B2B supplier, and he said, “All of the companies that you said that use us,” I think in this case it was print shops, none of them wanted to tell anyone else in the print world that they used this supplier because the prices were so good and the product was so good. They wanted to keep it as a competitive advantage for their own shop, which makes total sense. It happens a lot in B2B types of supplying worlds.

If there’s no one to amplify from your customer base, you run into this problem over and over. People say to me, “Well then, how am I going to solve this issue of no one amplifying the work that I’m putting out?” My answer, time and time again — and that’s why I figured we should codify it into a Whiteboard Friday — is that these people might not be influenced and might not be influencing their peers or their cohorts or potential new customers for you. But they are influenced by something. That something is how they discovered you and everything else that they use, and that something often falls under press and classic media, which is a completely different channel than your customer set.

It might be that they’re finding content on blogs, but they’re just not sharing it. Or they’re finding stuff in trade publications and magazines, at events and conferences, on social accounts that they follow but don’t amplify or re-share. They might be in listen only mode, which many users of social networks like Twitter and Google+ and LinkedIn are. They might listen to industry experts and get their viewpoint from those few influencers in the industry. Or, and this is the most pernicious one because it happens a lot in the SEO world, they get all their recommendations by using search engines. Since they use search engines, and in order to rank in search engines you have to be amplified, people say,
“It’s a Catch-22, man. I’m screwed forever. There’s nothing I can do. SEO is just not going to work for me. Or white hate SEO is not for me. I’m going to have to buy my links if I want to rank or buy ads because I can’t rank in the organic section.”

Here’s the trick. If it’s the case that search engines are how people are influenced, then what you have to do is think a little differently. You have to think of these people, these other ones — press, classic media, blogs, trade publications, events and conferences, social accounts, industry experts, whatever it is. The list may go on and on. You probably know what those few are.

Those are what you need to use to nudge the search engines into ranking you. By influencing these folks, you also influence the search engines and ranking, because when they talk about you and link to you and mention your brand and cite your work, you rank higher in search engines, and that reaches your customers.

This is the trick. The challenge here is what influences these people is not the same thing that you’re broadcasting and amplifying to your customers. So you need to think of yourself as a whole different kind of marketer, marketing an entirely different product. The product you are marketing to these people is most of the time not your product. It is a kind of content, an expertise, an informational value, a piece of research, work that these people care about, that will make them look good, that they know their audience will care about, that’s going to be interesting and useful and unique to them. This becomes your new customer set, and your new product becomes whatever they will care about and amplify and cite from you.

Now you have closed the gap between how to figure out how to reach these people by indirectly targeting another group. This is a challenging process. I’m not going to lie. It is hard. But you can do this. When you do, when you figure out the kind of content marketing and production and amplification, whether that’s through social or through blogs or through conferences or whatever it might be, when you figure out how that system works, you can get a flywheel going that gets you more and more exposure to these folks and higher and higher rankings in the search engines. As you build up your domain authority, as you start to produce content directly for your customers that will influence them, it ranks in the engines.

Now it’s convoluted. It’s challenging, but it’s possible. It is possible. You don’t have to buy links or only ads or only buy exposure. You can reach people organically through this system.

All right, everyone, hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We’ll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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