Original Post: http://youtu.be/8TMzRTFtXZg
Audience segmentation, targeting and (offline) attribution are increasingly available for ‘TV inventory.’
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Advertisers can import data from multiple search and social adverting channels with one query.
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Original Post: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Quicksprout/~3/1DFmEJQZtR8/
Do you want to lean how to get backlinks? Here are 21 ways to get links in 2019. It takes hard work and persistence.
It’s always good to get more quality backlinks—the ones that are natural because you have content worth linking to. You can build these backlinks using a few tactics.
Some SEOs engage in risky blackhat tactics, but unless you can operate on a large scale and are fine with getting penalized later on, it’s not particularly profitable.
The other main strategy is to earn backlinks by creating great content and getting it in front of the right people.
Although there haven’t been any new tactics for link building in a while, some proved to more effective than others in 2019. Plus, you can always find ways to improve each of the tactics.
Respond to questions on Quora
Quora is filled with people looking for help. All you have to do is search for keywords related to your industry, and you’ll see hundreds, if not thousands, of questions.
For example, let’s look at the key phrase “content marketing.” With a quick search, I was able to find this question, asking if content marketing actually works.
Respond to the question, and if there is a specific blog post or article within your domain that helps reinforce your answer, you can link to it.
The screenshot above illustrates the idea. It has my answer with the link I provided to a blog post I wrote that covers a few data points relevant to the discussion.
When doing this, make sure you don’t link to your site just to gain a link. You don’t want to spam Quora as it will hurt your reputation. Instead, you want to focus on responding with a great answer and only add a link to your website when it makes sense.
Help a reporter out
You’ve heard of HARO, right? Of course you have, but are you actually on it?
In case you don’t know what HARO is, it is a website where journalist go when they need help.
They post questions, and if you can help them answer any of them, you can get some free press. You can get published on a news website or a magazine like Entrepreneur.com, which makes HARO a great place to pick up high quality backlinks.
You won’t get a ton of links from this site, but the links you do get will help drive traffic as this site links to authoritative sites.
To get these links, all you need to do is spend 30 minutes to an hour on HARO each week.
Find broken links going to resources or products
Broken link building is hard unless you focus on the right type of broken links. A lot of blogs and websites have them, but very few are willing to fix them.
Your best bet is to find resource pages related to your field and to look for broken links within those pages. I’ve found that web masters are more likely to fix broken links on resource pages as they tend to generate more traffic than general blog posts.
To find these broken links and resource pages, you can use a tool called Broken Link Finder.
The tool costs money…but it is worth it.
If you end up using the tool, make sure the keywords you input contain words like “resources” as it will help you find the right type of broken links.
Have you ever used forums to build links? If you haven’t, why not?
Chances are you are afraid of the Penguin penalty. Assuming you are participating only on relevant forums and aren’t spamming them, you shouldn’t have much to worry about.
For example, Warrior Forum and a few other marketing forums talk about Quick Sprout. Every time they do, I see an influx of 300 to 700 visitors. It’s not too shabby for just one link.
When responding to questions on forums, use the same principles as you do when responding to questions on Quora: respond to questions and link to your website when it makes sense.
Again, don’t spam these forums. Only respond when it makes sense, and make sure your answer is thorough.
When adding a link to your website, avoid using rich anchor text.
Link to relevant sites
I know this may sound crazy, but linking to other relevant sites within your own content is a great way to build links.
For example, I recently published a post on competitive auditing that linked to over 20 websites.
Before I published the post, I visited each of those websites and grabbed an email address of someone who works there. If I couldn’t find an email address of a specific employee in the marketing department, I looked for an email address on the contact pages of these sites.
I then sent out a personalized email to each of those websites:
Hey [person’s name],
I just wanted to let you know that I think [insert their website] is such a great resource that I had to mention it in my latest blog post [link to your blog post].
I know you are busy, so no need to reply. But if you get a spare moment, check out the post. If you like it, feel free to tweet it out.
Don’t expect people to link back to your website. Some people will do it naturally, but that number will be less than 5%. Roughly 20%-25% of the people you email will tweet out your post. This action will bring more visitors to your website, and a portion of those visitors may end up linking back to you.
Do you know what some of the most popular and linked to posts are on the Internet? It’s round-up posts.
If you aren’t familiar with round-up posts, read this one on link building, in which 50 experts share tips on how to build links.
That post generated over 383 social shares and 34 backlinks according to Ahrefs. That’s not bad for a round-up post.
How do you go about creating one of these posts? All you have to do is find a bunch of experts in your field and email them asking one question. You don’t want to ask them more than one question as it will drastically decrease your response rate.
You also want to find at least 30 experts as round-up posts that don’t contain a large number of experts don’t do very well.
I recommend making a post with at least 50 experts. When emailing these experts, make sure you give them a deadline to respond by. In addition, make sure you email at least twice the number of experts you need to complete your post as about half of them will not respond.
Once you publish your expert round-up, email each expert with an email like this one:
Hey [expert name],
I just wanted to thank you for participating in the expert round-up on [insert the topic of the round-up].
You can find the post at [insert url], and I’ve also included a link to your website.
Feel free to tweet it out and share it with your following.
Thanks for participating.
[insert your name]
Similarly to Backlink tip #5, this action will bring you more visitors from the social web. A portion of those visitors may end up linking back to you.
Track your competitors’ links
Any backlink tool can tell you who is linking to your competition, but very few of them sort these links by freshness.
Cognitive SEO has a tool that shows you the freshness of these links. In other words, it’ll show you who recently linked to your competition. All you have to do is select “Fresh Links” within its dashboard.
As you can see, the Cognitive SEO provides a list of the most recently found backlinks.
You can then take that list and manually hit up each of those sites with an email like this one:
Hey [insert their name],
I was just reading your blog post on [insert the post title and link to it] and noticed that you didn’t link to [insert your URL]. I’m not sure if you are familiar with it, but it can teach your readers about [insert the value their readers will get].
I just thought I would mention it to you because you linked to [insert competitor URL], but you forgot to mention [insert your URL].
Anyways, keep up the great work. I love your content.
[insert your name]
For every 100 such emails you send out, you’ll typically generate 7 to 10 links. It’s not a lot of links, but it adds up.
Invest in a gift for the community
Almost every new business has the same problem: no one knows you. Even if you have a lot to offer, again, no one knows you.
One of the main objectives of the link building tactics we’ll look at in this post is to get attention.
And there are many ways to get the attention of people you don’t know.
The best way, in most cases, is to offer something of value—as big of a value as you can provide.
Here are a few options.
Option #1 – create a photo gallery: Any good blogger knows the importance of having great images in posts.
While some bloggers hire a designer for the most important pictures, it’s inconvenient and not always affordable for less important pictures.
However, most bloggers would gladly exchange a link to a site for a free picture.
That’s why I propose hiring a designer (or taking pictures yourself) and creating a free image gallery. Then, send out the link to the gallery to medium-top bloggers in your niche, explaining that they are free to use them in exchange for a link back.
For example, in the fitness niche, you could take pictures like these:
Spending a few hundred dollars upfront here will not only open doors to other bloggers but get you several dozen really good links.
A final important note is that you should create images around common points in your niche.
For example, if you were in the content marketing niche, you could create custom images for things that are often mentioned such as:
- SEO tools
- SEO rankings
- Reader personas
- Inbound marketing
- The different marketing channels
And so on…
Option #2 – create a free tool: If you’re interested in getting a ton of traffic yourself, on top of links, you can create something for your community of users rather than just bloggers. And that something is a tool.
Tools can be a great way to grow your site and earn backlinks at the same time.
For example, the keyword research tool Keywordtool.io has been linked to by over 3,880 unique domains. Honestly, that’s a relatively simple tool to build or get built.
After a bit of time, you can get links (good ones) that work out to under $1 per link, which is amazing. Add all the traffic that you can also get on top of that, and you can see why tools can be a great thing to make.
The big drawback is that it will take some time to build the tool in the first place, especially if you can’t code it yourself.
Additionally, you’re going to have to promote the tool. Write posts about it in niche forums, subreddits, and on social media.
Option #3 – do original data analysis (or research): One option that I really love, yet almost no one does, is to do original analysis or research.
Look at any good data-driven post—for example, my post about how to win on Facebook.
What you’ll see is that most posts link to someone else’s research.
It takes a lot of time and effort to do original research, which is why it’s much easier to link to someone else’s research than to do your own.
You can take advantage of this by providing the research that bloggers in your niche link to.
In that above post, the research was done by Buzzsumo, and I simply analyzed the data that they sent me. Of course, I’m going to give them a few links for that, and it also opens the door for a great relationship.
Find an interesting question always asked in your niche, dig in, and do the research. When you’re done, email the results to the top bloggers in your niche, and give them first dibs.
Most link building strategies for new sites are fairly slow.
They take consistent effort and deliver consistent results.
But you rarely get thousands of readers and hundreds of links within months unless you do them exceptionally well.
I consider guest-posting an exception to the rule. Even though you have to do it really well to get results, most bloggers have the ability to succeed with it.
And guest-blogging works for you even if you’re brand new. If you have a good pitch, it doesn’t matter what your name is.
When I think of guest-blogging to build up a new site, I think of Danny Iny, who is often referred to as the “Freddy Krueger of guest-posting.”
He got this nickname because he seemed to be everywhere when Firepole Marketing (now Mirasee) first launched.
His main strategy for getting traffic and links was guest-posting. He wrote dozens of guest posts and quickly took Firepole Marketing to the top tier of marketing blogs.
I won’t go into guest-posting in detail here because I’ve done it multiple times before:
- Guest-Posting on Steroids: A 4-Step Blueprint That the Top Guest Posters Use
- Advanced Guest Posting – The Advanced Guide to Link Building
- Why Guest Blogging is The Best Inbound Marketing Strategy (A Data Driven Answer)
- Make Your Mark: 9 Easy Steps to Become a Successful Guest Blogger
The one adaptation that you will have to make, since you’re brand new, is not to start at the top.
Don’t start by pitching to a site like Copyblogger or Forbes. Instead, find a few smaller sites that are more receptive to pitches.
Then, you need to wow them with your post and promote that post as well.
Once you can prove that your writing is great, then you can start pitching to bigger sites, citing your other successes as proof that you’re a serious blogger.
One of the easiest ways to build links is to interview experts. If you email your prospects telling them how great they are and how much you want to interview them, chances are they won’t say no.
I myself get asked to do around four interviews each week, and I never say no. I’ve also emailed dozens of other people with requests for interviews, and it’s also been rare that they said no… this even worked when my blog wasn’t popular.
So, how do you build links when you interview an expert? Well, most experts have a website. So, once you interview them, you can ask them to share the interview with their readers or even tweet and post it on Facebook.
I’ve found that over 90% of the time, people will at least share the interview on Twitter and Facebook, and over 40% of the time, people will link to it from their website. One trick to boosting your link percentage chance is to find out if people have a press page before you ask them for an interview. If they have one, the chance of them linking to your interview is over 95%.
This is my favorite method of building links as I love making complex data easy to understand. Mint used this strategy heavily in their early days. They made complex financial data easy to understand through beautiful graphics.
So, what’s the key to generating links from your infographics? Well, you first need to have an embed code at the bottom of each infographic so people can link back. Secondly, you should follow the promotion strategies in this blog post.
You may know Matt Inman as the guy behind the Oatmeal, but most of us SEOs know him as the master of quizzes. He got his start at SEOmoz and then moved into link creation through linkbait.
He ranked Mingle2 for all of the online dating terms by creating viral quizzes such as: how many 5 year olds can you take in a fight. He then took that same strategy and got a payday loan site ranked for all of the payday loan related keywords.
Matt currently has quizzes on The Oatmeal, and you should consider replicating the strategy if you want to build thousands of links. Just be careful as both his dating site and payday loan site got dinged by Google, but you shouldn’t have that problem if you follow these rules:
- The quiz needs to be related to your website – don’t try to create a quiz about fighting 5-year-olds if you run a dating website.
- Don’t use rich anchor text – at the end of each quiz is an embeddable badge that shows off your score. That badge shouldn’t contain rich anchor text. The anchor text should be the name of the quiz.
- Link to your quiz page – don’t have the badges link to your homepage; they should link back to the quiz.
Do you remember Elf Yourself? JibJab created that campaign for OfficeMax, and hundreds of thousands of people Elf’d themselves. They uploaded a picture of their faces, and JibJab created Elf videos for them.
At the end of the video, you were given a link that you could share with others, whether through email or blog post.
According to Open Site Explorer, Elf Yourself has over 10,000 links…Not too shabby for a Christmas promotional video.
If you can come up with a creative video concept that allows people to personalize the video, you can leverage it to build links. People love sharing funny personalized videos.
Sponsor an event
One of the simplest ways to build links is to sponsor an event. Conference sites list each and every sponsor. In addition, in most cases, they link back to their sponsors.
This may not seem like a fun idea or creative link building strategy, but just think about this… you’ll be able to go to the conference.
If you work in the corporate world, you may get a bit tired of working in the office, so it will be nice for you to get a break by attending a conference. Plus, you’ll get a link out of it.
When getting links from conference sites, keep in mind that they may be taken down in the future, which means you will have to continue to sponsor the event each year. The cost can quickly add up if you are a small company, but it’s fun to go to conferences.
Sponsor a non-profit
I love the non-profit world because it’s a great way for me to give back to the rest of the world. If you sponsor a non-profit, in many cases, you can get a link back.
When I used to own KISSinsights, we used to give away our product for free to non-profits, and they would link back to us. We came up with this concept when a non-profit asked us for a free account in exchange for press on their blog.
The beautiful part about this strategy is that it doesn’t require an exchange of cash. You can volunteer your time, your products or even services for a link. Whatever it may be, I’ve found that non-profits are open to almost anything as they don’t have a big spending budget.
Take some pictures
There are always people looking for images, especially high quality stock photography images. I myself don’t mind paying for images, but it can get expensive really fast.
If you have a really good digital camera, such as an SLR, take high quality photos of anything related to your industry. Then pop them up on a page on your website and let people know that they are royalty-free images. Just make it a requirement for people to link back to you if they decide to use any of your images.
The cool part about this strategy is that you will get highly relevant links as people in your industry are most likely to use them.
Create a raving case study
The basic idea behind all these tactics is to create something that your target simply has to read.
You don’t need to trick them into reading it. You just need to make it extremely interesting to that specific person.
This first tactic involves creating a positive case study. You’ll publicly show how your target blogger helped you accomplish something.
Here’s how to do it.
Step #1 – Pick a blogger to target: This technique is very personalized, so you need to know your target really well.
Pick a blogger whom you regularly follow—and with whom you would be happy to establish a relationship —even if it didn’t lead to links right away.
This strategy takes a lot of time and effort, but it can produce results much more valuable than just a few backlinks.
Step #2 – Pick one of their techniques or strategies: While you can certainly create a case study for a blogger’s paid products, you can stick to free blog content as well.
Find a technique that’s fairly recent (bloggers don’t care as much about old stuff) and that was created by the blogger.
If you are an SEO or marketing blogger, you might follow Brian Dean at Backlinko.
He has published many link building techniques, which makes it easy to find one.
For example, he has a technique called “Guestographics,” which is his own spin on infographics:
In this article, he lays out a detailed plan on how to get backlinks using infographics.
Step #3 – Practice it: Here’s where most people mess up. They use the tactic once, get mediocre results, and then create their case study.
And guess what happens when they let the influencer know? Nothing.
Why would the influencer get excited and want to share your case study when you didn’t make them look good?
Even if the technique you are trying out is good, you have to use it a few times before you fully understand how to apply it to maximum effect.
If I wanted to see what benefit I could get with the Guestographic link building tactic we’ve chosen in our example, I wouldn’t stop with the first infographic. I’d do that one, and then another, and then maybe even another.
Do what it takes to get an impressive result.
Step #4 – Execute and record all details: While you are putting the technique to the test, you need to document everything.
A case study isn’t impressive if you just say:
I did Brian’s method; here is a link to my infographic: (link). I was able to get 200 high quality backlinks.
Even though it’s a good result, on its own, it doesn’t do much for Brian. You need to create a detailed story that Brian would be happy to show his other readers.
You essentially want to be the favorite student of the teacher whom he uses as an example.
Step #5 – Let them know about it: Once you’ve gotten the technique to produce an impressive result, you’ve done the hard part.
Now, you just have to let the influencer know about it. If you did things right, they will be interested.
Send them a quick email that highlights the results. Here’s a sample:
Subject: Great results using (tactic name) – Thank You!
Hi (Blogger name),
I’m a long time reader of (blog name), and I finally took your advice (I should have sooner).
I used your (tactic name) technique and was able to (impressive result).
Obviously, I’m pretty happy with this!
I made a point to document everything during this trial so that I could put together a case study on my site – (site name).
Just wanted to say thanks!
If you say something short and simple like that, you will get a reply, often asking for more details.
Once you’ve opened a dialog, you could even ask if they’d be interested in publishing the case study on their site instead.
Or you can just publish it on your site and send them the link. They’ll usually be more than happy to share it on social media and comment on the page.
Our example for this tactic wasn’t hypothetical—it’s actually been done.
Brian previously published a full blog post highlighting two case studies of the Guestographic method implemented successfully:
And in the article, each of the subjects got a nice link back to their domain:
More importantly, Brian now knows who these people are and probably likes them as well. Now, if they asked him for a favor (a link, share, or review, etc.), he’d probably help them out.
In this case, Perrin’s site wasn’t exactly relevant to Backlinko, which limits how much that relationship could produce. That’s why I recommended at the start to target a relevant blogger.
Feature influencers in your article
Think back to your first school yearbook.
What did you look for first?
Pictures of yourself, of course.
People love to feel special, and it doesn’t change as you get older.
This tactic revolves around making your chosen influencer feel special by featuring them as an expert. Who wouldn’t want to read a flattering article about themselves?
Option #1 – Quote them: The simplest way to highlight someone is to quote them.
You can either email your influencer asking for a quote or take a quote from one of their previously published articles.
Including a link to their website or a social media account is a nice way to make them feel extra special.
He took this tactic to extreme, and it paid off.
The article generated over 40 comments and over 1,500 Tweets on top of hundreds of shares on other networks.
When you include a quote from someone, they’ll usually share the article and often will leave a comment as well:
Option #2 – ask them to contribute to the article: If you really want someone to feel invested in the content you produce, you need to find a way to get them to contribute to the article.
I warn you: this isn’t always easy.
If you’re going after a fairly popular influencer, you have to have quite a bit of influence yourself; otherwise, there isn’t much of an incentive.
The more you ask them to do, the more invested they will be. On the other hand, the more you ask them to do, the more you need to offer.
The most common example of this option in action is the expert roundup.
You ask a bunch of experts to write short contributions to your article answering a simple question.
For example, Richard Marriott included 55 SEO experts in an expert roundup about link building tools:
He published each influencer’s content—whatever they sent him, which was typically a few hundred words:
The article generated hundreds of comments and social shares, many from the experts included in the article.
Someone who has taken the time to write content for you will be more likely to promote your post than someone you simply quoted.
Option #3 – use their work as an example: Finally, you can simply link to some of the influencer’s best content. This option works best once your brand is well-recognized.
I do it often in Quick Sprout posts:
I take special care to say something positive about the quality of the resources I link to. I do this for two reasons:
- It makes the content creator feel better – Being linked to is nice, but being linked to because your content is great is even better.
- It’s better for my readers – I try to only link to high quality content because that’s best for my readers who end up clicking through to that content. Letting them know what to expect beforehand is a good idea.
And when you mention people, they’ll get excited.
I often get comments and social shares from people I mention:
In addition, they often find places to link back to my content in their future content; so it’s a win-win situation.
After featuring someone, you don’t need to send a giant email. Just send something quick like this:
Subject: Featured you in an article
Just thought I’d give you a quick heads-up: I linked to you (and said a few nice things) in my latest post. If you’d like to see it, here’s the link:
(your post URL)
Keep cranking out the great content!
Almost everyone will check out the article, and most will share or comment as well.
But if your post was really great, they’ll check out some of your other articles as well. Assuming that they’re also top-notch, you might have just gained a long-term reader who will link to you time and time again.
Find authors that are eagerly looking for content to link to
It’s really tough to get someone to link to you when they don’t like to link out.
Conversely, it’s really easy to get someone to link to you if they are actively looking for sites to link to.
Link roundups are a popular type of content in just about every niche. The author of a link roundup collects the best posts in the niche for the week or month and publishes links to all of them together.
The best part is that most authors typically create these on a regular basis. It’s relatively easy to get included in these as long as your content is solid.
Step #1 – Make a list of roundups: Although you could try a few different search strings, almost all roundups are called “roundups,” which makes them easy to find.
intitle:roundup + (your keyword)
Don’t stop with just the first page. Keep going through the pages until you stop finding new link roundups.
In most niches, you can easily find over 20 regular roundups, which gives you quite a few targets. Add them to a list somewhere.
Step #2 – Establish contact: To maximize your chances of getting your link included in their next roundup, it’s a good idea to get to know them a bit. Comment on a few of their articles, and share their content on social media.
Once you’ve done that, you can send over your request to be included in the future roundup. Here’s a sample template:
Subject: Weekly roundup on (site)
I stumbled across your weekly roundups a short while ago, and I love how much effort you put into including only the best posts of the week. I know that must take a ton of time.
I hope it’s not too forward, but I just published an epic post that I think would be great for a future roundup. It’s a (length) word guide on (topic) that is incredibly detailed and actionable.
Can I send you a link to the post?
Hopefully they’ll respond favorably, and you’ll be able to just send over the link.
Step #4 – Help them help you: This step can be the difference between getting one link and getting several, so don’t skip it.
When you are included in link roundups, remember what the author is looking for: shares, comments, and traffic.
If you can help the author get those things, they will love you and want to include your new posts in future roundups.
At the very minimum, leave a comment on the post once it goes live, and share it a few times on social media. If you want to do more, e.g., send the post to your email list, that’s even better.
I mention Brian Dean and his site Backlinko all the time. He’s best known for his Skyscraper Technique.
He’s written quite a few case studies of his readers getting great results from it. One reader got several backlinks along with 36,282 visitors and 1,000 subscribers. Another reader was able to drive 17,584 unique visitors to a brand new website in one day.
The basic idea is to create the best piece of content by far for a particular subject. Then, reach out to people who have linked to inferior content and ask them to add a link to yours.
Here’s how it works…
Step 1 – Pick a keyword and research the SERPs: First and foremost, this technique is for you to get some high authority links. The traffic is just a bonus.
In order for this to work well, you need to pick a keyword with a decent search volume (at least 1,000 searches per month). You’ll see why this is important soon.
You’re free to use any keyword research tool you’d like, but I’ll use the Adwords Keyword Planner for this example. Start by searching for your main niche:
You’ll get a list of relevant keywords. Next, filter out any results with fewer than 1,000 searches per month:
Now that we have a list of keywords with a decent search volume, we can look for a good keyword to target with our content.
This isn’t the greatest list. Some keywords are too general (e.g., “search engine optimization”), while others are too specific (e.g., for a certain product).
One possibility is “search engine optimization tips.” This is related to conversion optimization but only loosely. So I would keep trying other search terms in the tool to find a better keyword.
Next, I inserted “split testing” into the tool and found that “AB testing” had 4,400 searches per month. That’s a good keyword to target.
Next, go to Google (in incognito or private browsing), and search for your keyword. Start looking through the results to see what you’re up against:
Don’t get put off if you see content from extremely authoritative domains ranking highly. Remember, the goal of this technique is to get backlinks. You may rank for your target term, but you may not. You can still get traffic and rankings for long-tail searches, and the links will help your other content as well.
Step 2 – Create the best piece of content ever: There are many ways to improve content. You can make it longer, more in-depth, more trusted, better looking, or improve some other aspect of it.
It’s important that you improve upon the content in the first few search results not by a bit, but by a lot.
You want to be able to reach out to site owners and say that linking to your guide will improve their articles or resource pages a lot.
Here are some great guides to producing exceptional content:
- The Neil Patel Method To Getting Great Blog Content
- 22 Ways to Create Compelling Content When You Don’t Have a Clue [Infographic]
- How To Create Better Content For Your Customers
- The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content
Step 3 – Use email outreach to “steal” links: Once you have your content, it’s time for an email outreach campaign. You can do this yourself or hire a virtual assistant to do it for you.
First, you need a list of competitors. Use Scrapebox or this online tool to scrape the Google results for your target keyword:
Copy the results into a spreadsheet. Next, you’ll have to run the URLs through Ahrefs or Majestic. Then remove those that have fewer than five links.
Once you do that, you’ll have to get the full backlink profile of each URL:
Export the list of backlinks, and add a new sheet for each URL’s backlink profile.
Finally, you need to visit each of these pages that link to your competitors’ pages, and send them an email asking them to include a link to your page. Brian has outreach templates you can use.
As you can see, this is not an easy technique. It will take at least 20-30 hours of work. However, you should be able to get a good level of traffic and, more importantly, 20+ great backlinks.
Detailed reviews and testimonials
Do you know what the #1 objective of most businesses is?
It’s to make money.
If you can help them do that, they will love you.
Here’s what you do: Make a list of all the products you use to run your blog or business that you genuinely like.
Then, fill in the blanks in this sentence:
“(Product name) has helped my business (achievement).”
This is what businesses are looking for. They want to show testimonials and case studies from businesses who have actually accomplished something with their product.
Then, get in touch with the company (marketing director if possible) and offer to provide a testimonial. Include that sentence from above. You need to show that you have some data to back up your claims.
Additionally, offer any other data you have, or offer to do a video review as well.
If you have something to offer, there’s a good chance you can get a solid link from an authoritative domain such as this:
Not all companies have a testimonial page. You can still offer to give one—they can use it in blog posts or on various sales pages. Just mention that you’d appreciate a link with it when it makes sense.
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My parents like to tell a story from my childhood. When I was a toddler they would put me in the backseat of the car in child’s car seat when they would take me somewhere like to the store or to a friend’s house. When we would drive down the highway, I would see golden arches through the car window and yell, “Donald’s!”
Now, I was only two or three years old at the time. I wasn’t old enough to read. I could barely see high enough to see through the car window. But when I saw those arches it meant something to me.
My parents would sometimes take me to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. I would associate the burger and fries with the golden arches.
That is branding.
A brand is anything—a symbol, design, name, sound, reputation, emotion, employees, tone, and much more—that separates one thing from another. In the case of McDonald’s, the golden arches became part of the brand. Those arches separate their product from all other fast food restaurants and they’re a recognizable symbol even with kids.
Branding on a business-level is common, but today branding is becoming just as important on a personal level. After all, you might work for a business that works with other businesses, but it’s people working with people and that’s what makes business relationships valuable.
Why should you build your personal brand?
Building a recognizable personal brand opens professional opportunities.
Creating a vision for your future and implementing that vision can lead to:
- A better job
- Better contacts and clients for your company
- Industry recognition
- And more
If you’re looking for a better job, you want your potential boss at your ideal company to associate your personal brand with something that she needs on her team.
If you’re looking to grow the sales for a company, you want potential clients to associate your personal brand with a feeling of trust and long-term success and satisfaction.
This guide will take your through all the steps you need to take to create a your unique personal brand. In today’s job market and entrepreneurial landscape, there is no room for being another face in the crowd. You have to separate yourself from the competition. You have to be more appealing to your target audience and you can achieve it by creating a recognizable personal brand.
Not Everything In This Guide Will Apply To You
This is an advanced guide to building your personal brand. There is a lot of information covering many different steps you can take to build your personal brand.
However, not everything in this guide needs to be followed to reach your goals. Not everything in the guide applies to everyone so if you notice something that doesn’t fit your vision or your goals it’s okay.
The purpose of this guide is to cover as much as possible about the process of building a personal brand. In the final chapter, we discuss why it’s important to be yourself. You can take the information here as a guide, but use the information in your own way. Follow steps exactly or use certain information and create your own steps for finding success.
Expert Roundup: Quotes From Successful & Influential Individuals
For this guide we wanted to include quotes from well-known individuals in the online world. These are people that have been the reason for the success of some of the most successful brands in the world. They know what it takes to succeed and that includes their feelings on building a personal brand.
We asked three questions:
- What one action, decision, or choice has had the single biggest impact in the growth of your personal brand?
- If you were building an online presence from scratch today, what 3 things would you consider to provide the biggest ROI on your time and money?
- For those looking to create a strong online brand, which 3 online influencers would you recommend they follow?
Throughout this guide you’ll find the answers along with actionable steps you can take to follow the advice of these experts.
How To Create Your Personal Brand Vision
Businesses create vision and mission statements. Creating a personal brand begins much the same way by creating a personal vision.
Only you can determine how you want your life to unfold. You can’t control every aspect of your life, but you can create a long-term vision and develop steps to achieve that vision.
Your life’s vision should include how you see yourself in 10, 20 and even 50 years. Consider the elements in life that would make you happy—a family, a beach house, a challenging corporate job?
There are no right or wrong answers and in this chapter we’ll guide you through the steps necessary to create your personal vision.
How To Define Your Target Audience
Once you have your vision, it’s time to determine who your target audience is. Most professionals are selling something to someone. If you’re looking for a job, you’re selling yourself to a potential employer. If you want to start your own business, you’re selling yourself to potential clients.
But your target audience goes beyond an employer and customer. You’re looking to build a community of people—employers, peers, influencers, etc.—who can all be assets in different ways.
In this chapter, we’ll show you how to define your target audience. Knowing the exact person you’re selling to makes it easier for you to communicate your brand message.
How To Build Up Your Online And Offline Assets
Thee are a number of assets that require attention when you’re building your personal brand. You’ll need to secure domain names and websites to help control your personal brand on search. You’ll need to secure social media accounts to control your personal brand on social networks.
And you’ll need to know how to build these assets so you can build your overall network. In this chapter, we’ll go over the most important online and offline assets for building your personal brand and give you step-by-step instructions for securing and building each up with a strong community.
How To Build Your Brand Through Outreach
When you start building your personal brand it’s difficult to get exposure. It’s necessary to get exposure in the places where your target audience is spending time.
In this chapter, we’re going to explain how you can gain exposure through earned media, advertising and a few other strategies. Following the steps in this chapter will give you formulas for creating content that is appealing to your target audience while establishing you as an authority.
How To Get Free Press Coverage
Another way to gain exposure is to get free press coverage. There are a number of tools that make it easy to build connections with journalists, bloggers and moderators. Building these relationships and understanding what the press wants gives you the power to get free press.
How To Connect With Mentors
One key to success is continued learning. Even the smartest people in the world can become smarter and more skilled in certain aspects of life.
Mentors are great assets for professionals looking to build a personal brand. You can learn how they became success or how they view the world and use the strategies to build your own success.
In this chapter, we’ll show you how to find mentors and how to approach them so they will help you with your personal brand.
How To Monitor Your Brand
Once you’ve established what you want personal brand to be and you’re working to grow it you’ll need to monitor the growth and the perception. It’s important to see how your target audience associates you with your industry and how they feel about you in general.
In this chapter, we’ll share monitoring tools with you and we’ll show you how to use those tools so you know what your audience thinks about you.
Be Yourself Because Everyone Else Is Taken
We’re going to close the guide with an important chapter on being unique. You want to take influence from others including your mentors, but it’s important that you be yourself. That’s how you’ll separate yourself from the competition.
In this chapter we’ll give you steps for further identifying why you’re different and how to embrace differences to attract people to you in a positive way.
Are you ready to build your personal brand?
Facebook may be working on a voice assistant, coinciding with the company’s decision to drop the price of its Portal voice chat device by 50 percent.
The post A Facebook voice assistant may have buy-in from marketers – but will users want it? appeared first on Marketing Land.
Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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You’ve heard the term tossed around a million times. Content marketing. The phrase seems simple enough, but what exactly is it?
Content marketing is just what it sounds like. It’s the process of engaging and growing your customer base through high quality content.
Content marketing is an investment.
It’s part of a larger marketing framework.
It requires strategic insight.
It targets users across the entire conversion funnel.
It should be held accountable to a standard set of success metrics.
Content marketing is NOT social media, an intern’s job, or limited to a company blog. Like any other marketing practice, it requires commitment to systems and standards. It should be held accountable to measurable results.
Now that consumers are totally in control of the buying process, you are seeing enterprise brands working to adapt to that. The whole movement to get found in search, or drive online leads or create business opportunities with social media starts and ends with a content marketing strategy.
In order for any of that to work, enterprise brands have to have something meaningful to say that, in some way, links to their marketing and business objectives.
Joe Pulizzi, Founder and CEO at The Content Marketing Institute via
The Content Strategist
Content Marketing Is a
Content marketing is more than just the creation and distribution of content. It’s a tool that, when executed properly, positions your brand as an influencer.
Content marketing is the art of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
It starts with storytelling around the concepts that your customers value most.
Good storytelling can feel challenging, especially if you’re a marketer or business owner who comes from a sales background. With content marketing, you absolutely cannot and should not sell. Rather than pitching your services upfront, focus on driving awareness about your brand and thought leadership in your area of expertise. Think about moving prospects through the conversion funnel. Sales will happen as a natural byproduct of this relationship that you’re building with your customers and prospects.
Take a look at Qualcomm’s Spark platform as an example. This enterprise company is creating innovating content to keep readers engaged. And what aren’t they doing? Selling.
Rather than producing content from a team of marketers, the company hires journalists, business leaders, and tech bloggers. To the best extent possible, the brand tries to remove itself from the equation. They don’t talk about themselves. Instead, they cover topics that their audiences truly care about.
Focus on More than Just Blogging
Content marketing is more than just writing. There are a variety of channels that your brand can leverage to connect with prospective customers. These include:
These can be entertaining or educational videos produced on behalf of your brand. Focus on a specific topic that is related to your product or service.
Dollar Shave Club, a Santa Monica startup, was able to kickstart its user acquisition through the production of a hilarious video. It went viral and generated over 12,000 user sign-ups within days of launching.
Videos can range in cost from several thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. If you are looking to produce a video and need a quote, check out SmartShoot.
Content Portals & Microsites
These are content hubs designed to engage and educate audiences about topics that they care about. Qualcomm Spark is one example of a content portal.
For another example, check out LearnVest’s Life and Money platform, a resource committed to educating consumers about their personal finance choices. This content portal collects stories and actionable tactics from people learning to make the most of their money.
Articles for content portals tend to cost $200-$1,000 to produce.
These are longer-pieces of content, designed for the purpose of education. These can be self-published through Amazon or hosted on your website. For a great example, check out the 2013 Careers Guide from Wealthfront. Wealthfront is investment management software that provides online financial advice. So why do careers matter? Because young professionals have money to invest too. The company’s leadership team consists of highly seasoned Silicon Valley entrepreneurs (they helped to build LinkedIn). They understand how to navigate Silicon Valley better than anyone.
Clarity, a platform that connects advice seekers with experienced business leaders and subject matter experts, recently produced an e-book with stories on entrepreneurship. The resource, “Straight Up Startup Advices” shares stories on starting, growing, and launching a business. This topic make sense for Clarity’s audience of business leaders and new entrepreneurs.
Depending on length, Ebooks cost between $1,000 and $10,000 to write. Hiring a designer to supplement the writing can also cost up to $10,000 or more.
These are storytelling tools and visual representations of data. Infographics are focused on a general topic like The Biggest Tax Dodgers in History or The Good and Bad Habits of Smart People. The key is to tell your story visually. Break down complex information into a simple, easy-to-follow form.
Here is an infographic (about infographics) from Customer Magnetism.
Depending on the level of sophistication, Infographics cost between $1,000 and $5,000 to produce. Expect to pay between $500 and several thousand dollars for promotion and distribution.
Online (or in person) Classes
One way to build a relationship with your audience is to teach a class in your area of expertise. You can teach this class through e-mail, videos hosted on your website, or in your physical store. Online platforms like Udemy also provide resources to help you produce, host, share, and monetize your videos.
Here are some examples:
QuickSprout offers a free course to help website owners boost their traffic:
Onboardly teaches a class on acquiring customers through blogging:
Ritika teaches and co-teaches in-person classes via General Assembly:
One valuable way to build your audience is to host a webinar: an online version of a seminar. These can be free to low-cost. The beauty of webinars is that they are scalable to accommodate as many people as you want, from anywhere in the world. KISSmetrics frequently hosts webinars to help customers and prospects develop their website analytics strategies.
Typically, the cost of your webinar will be the software you use to host it (unless you want to hire an expert to come give the presentation). GoToWebinar and Mezzanine let you host and record webinars.
When well-executed, all forms of content are valuable, so don’t feel pressured to drop $100K on an enterprise microsite if you don’t have the budget handy. Remember that ROI is contingent on your brand’s comfort level to spend.
Whatever you do, do it well. There is always room to produce more content as your company grows.
Content Marketing Can Be a
Major Referral Traffic Driver
KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg, and QuickSprout have always built their organic search traffic through content marketing. It’s inexpensive and provides fast results.
Through blogging and creating infographics, KISSmetrics was able to to get over 100,000 monthly organic visitors in less than a year. Same with QuickSprout — Google drives close to 100,000 per month to the blog.
CrazyEgg has been going through a similar process.
It is a great tool for improving the conversion of a website. We launched our blog, The Daily Egg, during the first week of November 2011, so the blog is only over one year old. In our first year, we had half a million visitors. Traffic growth has been on average 10 to 15 percent month over month, and subscriber growth really picked up at the six month mark.
Russ Henneberry, former Blog Manager at CrazyEgg via
The Content Strategist
Here are some key lessons learned from the three websites:
- Be detailed and consistent. Short blog posts tend to get fewer links than longer pieces of content. Don’t feel pressured to churn out massive amounts of content each day. Prioritize quality over quantity.
- Make content digestible by using visuals. Information overload is the norm online. Make information as simple to digest as possible, and your readers will love you… which means that they’ll share your content.
- Be consistent. If you can’t publish content on a regular basis, it will be tough to get ROI. Make sure that you publish regularly.
- Write awesome headlines. If your headlines are boring, nobody will want to read your content. You need to be compelling, edgy, and speak to your audience’s exact needs. Your headlines are the first chance to make a strong first impression.On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of your post, explains CopyBlogger.Headlines should be short, sweet, and enticing.
Make Content a Part of the
Referral Traffic Ecosystem
Production is only 20% of the content marketing formula. The rest is distribution. In addition to creating high-quality content, you need to make an active effort to recruit eyeballs.
One way to bring visitors to your website is through email marketing. If you have a blog, make sure that there is a clear place for users to sign up to be a part of your email list. If you publish an ebook? Same thing. Collect leads. Make sign-ups the first step to download.
When you publish a new blog post, video, or ebook, tell your subscribers about it. Send them an email every time a new story is produced. Don’t worry about turning this into a promotional newsletter. Make it a short, attention-grabbing, and compelling personal note.
Here is how it’s done for QuickSprout:
Here is how LearnVest does it:
Some General Tips:
- Title your emails with compelling headlines, which can be titles of your newest or most compelling blog posts.
- Be extremely personal and personable. Make it clear that there are real people on the other sides of your company’s computer screens.
- Don’t be spammy about your emails. Let your users know how often you’ll be emailing them when they opt-in to your mailing list.
- Send emails once or twice a week, max!
- Monitor unsubscribe rates closely. Use these numbers to guide how often you should send your emails.
- Once your subscriber list is large enough, A/B test subject headlines on a portion of your subscribers to see which inspire the most opens. An important metric to monitor are open rates (the proportion of emails opened compared to the number sent.)
But we’ll talk about email marketing again later in chapter 8.
Whatever you do, don’t try to sell!
One of the core purposes of content marketing is to build a community around your brand. Marketers and business leaders get that. But for some reason, brands feel like all of the content needs to come from them. That’s the wrong approach to your content marketing. You should only produce a portion of your content in-house. Hire writers and content producers. Here’s why:
- Professional writers and subject matter experts frequently have their own audiences. Reputable writers will help you kickstart or amplify your audiences.
- Professional writers tend to work with multiple clients. Smart writers will cross-promote posts between clients.
- Great writers leave footprints all over the web.
- People want to learn from their peers in the community. If your CEO uses your company blog like a megaphone to blast corporate messaging, you’ll instantly scare your readers away. Hire writers to neutralize your sales pitch.
- Writers can write faster than you can. You don’t have time to spend hours on a blog post that your writers can knock out in an hour. Spend your time building your product, and leave it to your freelancers to produce greatw content.
Take a look at some of the most popular blogs on the Internet. Typically, these folks will collect insight from multiple writers. This is the approach that KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg have taken. It’s an invaluable way to amplify your network and build a community around your brand — leverage the community that others have build around their own brands.
(Here is a screenshot from the Unbounce Blog. Look how many shares they’ve received! These are all guest writers who are in no-way affiliated with Unbounce as employees.)
Success Metrics to Watch
Content marketing is valuable for connecting with users at all stages of the conversion funnel. Make sure that you’re monitoring the right metrics to optimize your content marketing program’s performance:
These metrics quantify the relationship you’re building with your prospects and customers. Pay attention to the following metrics to capture this important concept:
- Pageviews: The total number of pages viewed on your website in a given time period.
- Average visit duration: How long visitors are spending on your site.
- Return visits: The number of total visits from users who have visited your website before.
- Bounce rate: The percentage of users who visit your website and then immediately leave.
- Average pages viewed per visit: The number of website pages viewed, on average, in a given time period.
This concept captures the influence, distribution, and reach of your content. It’s an indicator of whether audiences find value in what you produce. The following metrics will help you quantify this concept:
- Social media shares: Shares through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest give your content a higher probability of gaining visibility.
- Unique visitors: The total number of distinct visitors who come your website in a given time period.
Leads and Conversions
A marketer’s most important job is to drive leads and conversions. Content marketing should align with these goals.
- Leads: The number of leads that can be directly and indirectly attributable to content marketing.
- Conversions: The number of sales / orders that funnel in through your content.
- Sign-ups and inquiries: The number of people who express interest in doing business with your organization after consuming a piece (or multiple pieces of) content.
It is important to understand how leads are interacting with your brand throughout the purchase funnel. Depending on your company and business model, it usually takes a series of steps to ultimately convert into a lead or paying customer. Content marketing should help your customers through this purchase funnel. The process should be emotionally engaging, fun, and frictionless.
How much of your bottom line does your content program drive? To measure this, you need to be able to connect your sales to your content marketing efforts.
- Recurring Revenue: Quantify the revenue that your content program drives over a specified time interval. Look for the percentage of revenue derived from content marketing as well as revenue from tangentially related marketing efforts.
Lifetime value & Customer acquisition costs
How much does it cost to acquire each user through content marketing? On average, how much value will customers drive over a lifetime? These metrics will help you craft an intelligent budget for your content marketing strategy — to make sure that you’re ROI positive and not losing money from your investment.
Content Marketing Through Webinars:
Unbounce is an example that we’ve featured throughout this guide, but in case you’ve missed the discussion — they’re an awesome company and are generating phenomenal thought leadership in the marketing community. Their company specializes in software that helps marketers create high-performing landing pages without web designers or IT. Not to mention, they have a strong content marketing presence with high quality writers and passionate readers.
They were wonderful enough to submit a case study for us about their recent “Unwebinar.” Here is a breakdown from Unbounce’s Director of Marketing, Georgiana Laudi.
What was the problem that Unbounce’s webinar was trying to solve?
Unbounce launched its multi-client and multi-user capabilities last fall. Within a couple of weeks it became obvious that some of our customers weren’t sure how best to use the new features and that communication on our website wasn’t doing enough to show the value. Up to our necks with typical startup fury, Ryan (Director of Customer Success) and I set out to find a solution, we called them “Unwebinars”.
It was the first time we’d ever hosted a live online event (even though in marketing, we’d been guests on quite a few webinars). It was an experiment to say the least. We decided not to limit attendance to customers, giving non-customers a peak inside Unbounce. This MVP version wouldn’t last long though.
What were your goals?
The goal of the first Unwebinar was 2-fold, 1) Communicate what was new (multi-user and multi-client capability) and 2) Gather feedback which would help us do a better job with our product, with our customers and communicating to leads. And, since we knew people less familiar with Unbounce would attend, we wanted to briefly introduce ourselves as well.
What important steps did you take?
We built a fort of sleeping bags, stuck a desk in the middle with 2 mics and 3 computers (one for Ryan, one for Rick our CEO, and one for me to moderate). We put up a landing page (duh) and signed up for the de facto standard, GoToWebinar. We then sent an email to our customers and leads and also pushed out invites through our social channels.
We then nervously held the 30 minute webinar, and proceeded to high-five on a job well done. Anyone who has ever held a webinar knows though, the work does not end there. We then converted the recording and slides, gathered a list of resources that came up during the recording, and sent out our follow-up email, also asking for feedback. Emails and tweets were overwhelmingly positive, throw in some more high-fives, and we were off to plan our next one.
What was the outcome?
Throughout the Q&A, it quickly became obvious that attendees had tons of questions about landing pages and A/B testing itself. We knew we had to switch things up; We were now going to focus on content to help marketers be more effective, primarily and almost entirely. We knew there was a place for demoing Unbounce itself, but marketers were desperate for tactical advice, so we set out to be as useful as possible.
At any point, did you need to change directions? Why or why not?
By our 2nd Unwebinar, we’d convinced stage/camera/audio shy Oli Gardner (Mr. Landing Page) that his knowledge was in high demand in this format too (Oli launched our blog and writes 90% of our ebooks). It worked, Oli and Ryan not only answered peoples’ questions about Landing Page Optimization, but were pretty entertaining too. Feedback again, was overwhelmingly positive.
We’d found our winning Unwebinar format; Invite experts (like Anna Sawyer, Joanna Weibe, Chris Goward, Peep Laja) to come and talk about topics related to conversion rate optimization and give attendees a platform to ask questions in real-time.
We still do demo Unbounce after every webinar, but now we give people fair warning and they’re welcome to opt-out. Much to our delight, about ? of attendees stick around for it.
Even better, as a result of our Unwebinars being more content focused, our Customer Success team continue to offer super useful weekly demos for people wanting to learn more about Unbounce itself.
What were some key takeaways that you learned?
Our first webinar made it really obvious that while there is a place for demoing our product, marketers are hungry for great content and actionable learning.
Here’s how our registration and attendance have looked since we started:
Webinar Topiac Landing Page Registration GoToWebinar Attendees Anable Steps to Client Management in Unbounce 190 50 Landing Page Optimization with Oli Gardner 476 178 Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About AdWords with Anna Sawyer 1021 471 Copywriting for Conversion with Joanna Weibe 2282 627 A/B Testing Essentials with Michael Aagaard 1938 449 Designing for Conversion with Oli Gardner 2523 589 Multiply Your Conversion Rates with Chris Goward 2066 426 10 Landing Page Mistakes and How to Fix Them with Peep Laja 3265 610
Not only were our webinars themselves improving but we started to do what we do best, test dedicated landing pages. Through our integration with Zapier, on our 2nd webinar we were able to use Unbounce landing pages for our registration pages. Not only are they prettier than the standard stark format of GoToWebinar, we’re able to test to see which messaging works best, all while sending registrants directly through to GTW automatically. It was a game changer. Conversion rates on our registration pages have gone from 26% on our 2nd webinar to 65% on our latest, that’s an increase of 150%!
Speaking of our latest, this month’s Unwebinar is with Rand Fishkin, he’s gonna talk about Big Picture CRO and we couldn’t be more excited to have him.
- Content marketing is more than just blogging. Get creative about the types of content you’re producing.
- Hold your content marketing program accountable by monitoring success through metrics that translate into revenue for your company.
- Focus on engagement, not self-promotion. Write about topics that your readers care about, and don’t be overly promotional about your brand. Let sales be a natural byproduct of your content marketing strategy.
- Integrate your content marketing with a bigger-picture marketing strategy.
- Focus on moving customers and prospects through your sales conversion funnel. Make the experience fun, engaging, and frictionless for them. Prioritize relationships above transactions.
- Be relentless about quality. Your content should be amazing. Readers won’t care about a sub-par experience, as there is plenty of other content out there.
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If you’re running a business or marketing team, you’re probably focused on three key metrics: cost, revenue, and profit (or margin). Your goal is always to minimize costs while maximizing revenues. You may even work with a finance leader to set aggressive growth goals for your company.
For many business leaders, pricing is something practical. You choose numbers that will pay employee salaries and keep the lights on. You pick numbers that will be extremely competitive with the market — after all, it’s your buyers that will keep your company afloat.
There’s a key dimension to pricing, however, that your business may be missing.
You guessed it — it’s buyer psychology.
Pricing is a concept that transcends profit margins. It’s also a marketing tactic that can help your business boost sales volume. When you think about pricing, you need to focus on more than what will cover your company’s operating expenses and pay the bills. You need to choose numbers that will compel your audiences to buy. This post will teach you how.
Emphasize Value & ROI Above Cost
Instead of showing prospects what they should expect to spend, show them what they are going earn. As a marketer, you’re well aware that costs are always relative to outcome. Instead of fixating on how your product delivers the best rates in the industry, communicate something more — that your product comes with unbeatable results.
Bidsketch, a company that sells proposal templates to agencies and freelancers, exemplifies this idea. The company empowers its subscribers to create professional looking proposals in minutes — a process that would otherwise take solopreneurs hours (sometimes days).
The company does a great job communicating the ROI of its product: time saved and dollars earned.
Business owners are well-aware that time is more valuable than money.
The company, on its home page, shares a testimonial from one client who was able to cut down proposal time from 3 hours to 45 minutes. Bidsketch also advertises that its subscribers will be able to cut their proposal creation time in half.
Collectively, Bidsketch customers have been able to generate $261M+ in new projects — indicating that clients are able to achieve significant results (new business) in less time.
Now come the tough question — how much does this cost? The homepage clearly explains the benefits and value of using Bidsketch, but how much of a commitment is necessary to get started?
$29 per month.
A smart business owner will immediately jump to do a quick cost-benefit analysis:
Let’s say that on average, it takes 3 hours to complete a proposal. Anyone who runs (or works for) a business can approximate how much their time is worth. For clarity’s sake, let’s approximate this number to be $100/hour. Using Bidsketch, you will be able to draft proposals in an hour and a half instead of 3, which means that the cost of creating a proposal will be $150 instead of $300. When you spend $29 to use Bidsketch, you’ll generate an incremental $121.
Is the $29 cost worth it? Absolutely. In fact, it’s a no brainer.
Cost is always relative, in the eye of the beholder. Communicate ROI first — before cost becomes a consideration. If you’re able to communicate results in terms of a clear value proposition, your costs will look much less expensive.
Let’s say that Bidsketch took an entirely different approach to marketing and didn’t communicate a clear value proposition on its home page — a $29 monthly spend would look much bigger.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs are notoriously frugal. They are frequently living off their savings and pouring their investments into their business. Why spend $29 on a Bidsketch subscription when you could put the funding towards your AdWords campaigns (or grocery bills), instead?
All of a sudden, cost becomes a major consideration.
“It’s Miller Time”
For a company selling beer, this type of slogan might come off as somewhat of an odd choice.
But according to new research which advocates the benefits of “selling time” over money, it may be a perfect choice.
“Because a person’s experience with a product tends to foster feelings of personal connection with it, referring to time typically leads to more favorable attitudes—and to more purchases”.
So says Jennifer Aaker, the General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Why would selling experience (or time spent) with a product work so much better in some instances than discussing the products favorable price?
Aaker noted that many (around 48% of those analyzed) advertisements included a reference to time, noting that many marketers seem to innately understand the importance of time to a consumer.
Unfortunately, very little in the way of actual studies had been done to back this up.
In their first experiment addressing this, Aaker and her co-author Cassie Mogilner set up, of all things, a lemonade stand using two 6-year olds (so it would appear legitimate).
In this experiment, the lemonade sold could be purchased for $1-$3 (customer selected) and a sign was used to advertise the stand.
The 3 separate signs to advertise the lemonade were as follows:
- The first said, “Spend a little time and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”
- The second said, “Spend a little money and enjoy C&D’s lemonade”
- The third said, “Enjoy C&D’s lemonade” (neutral sign)
Even with this lemonade example the results were apparent.
The sign stressing time attracted twice as many people, who were willing to pay twice as much.
To further drive this point home, a second study done with college students (and iPods) was conducted.
This time, only two questions were asked:
- “How much money have you spent on your iPod?”
- “How much time have you spent on your iPod?”
Not surprisingly considering the last study, students asked about time demonstrated far more favorable opinions of their iPods than those asked about money.
The researchers thought that:
- One explanation is that our relationship with time is much more personal than our relationship with money.
- “Ultimately, time is a more scarce resource — once it’s gone, it’s gone — and therefore more meaningful to us”, says Mogilner.
- “How we spend our time says so much more about who we are than does how we spend our money”.
Aaker and her colleague were not done yet, however.
Determined to test whether or not all references to money would lead to a more negative output (due to the participant being reminded of how much they spent on a product), they conducted a similar experiment at a concert.
This time, the “cost” was actually time, as the concert was free, but people had to “spend” time in line to get the good seats.
The two questions asked by the researchers in this scenario were:
- “How much time will you have spent to see the concert today?”
- “How much money will you have spent to see the concert today?”
Even in an instance like this, where time was the resource being spent, asking about time increased favorable opinions toward the concert.
Not only that, people who stood in line the longest, or the people who incurred the most “cost”, actually rated their satisfaction with the concert the highest.
“Even though waiting is presumably a bad thing, it somehow made people concentrate on the overall experience”, says Aaker.
So what’s the deal here?
Marketers need to start being aware of the meaning that their products bring to the lives of their customers before they start focusing their marketing efforts.
And one more thing to think about…
The study notes that the one exception seems to be any products consumers might buy for prestige value.
If you aren’t in the line of selling sports cars or tailored made suits, you most likely won’t have to deal with this, but the point remains:
“With such ‘prestige’ purchases, consumers feel that possessing the products reflect important aspects of themselves, and get more satisfaction from merely owning the product rather than spending time with it”, says Mogilner.
Factor these considerations of the important of time next time you go about pricing your product, and you’ll see that catering to consumer’s most precious resource, their time, can be more persuasive than even the most drastic of price reductions.
Be Wary Of Comparative Pricing
You walk into a drugstore to buy a bottle of Ibuprofen. You’re faced with two options — the first, a major pharma brand and the second, a generic.
The generic is 30% cheaper than its retail equivalent. Why not save a few dollars?
The problem with comparative pricing is that it isn’t as foolproof as marketers think. Consumers’ perceptions of products may be swayed in a few different ways.
According to Itamar Simonson, consumers won’t always go for the cheapest. They may go for the consumer brand, which seems like a ‘less risky’ choice. Or, consumers may avoid making a purchase altogether.
New research from Stanford points out that unintended consequences may result from asking customers to compare prices.
This study analyzes the effect of implicit and explicit comparisons to arrive to this conclusion.
Implicit comparisons occur when a customer takes the initiative to compare two or more products.
Conversely, explicit comparisons are those that are specifically stated or brought up by the marketer or advertiser.
To test the effects of comparative advertising, Simonson and Dholakia set up two trials.
The first involved selling CDs on eBay.
The researchers listed (for sale) a number of top-selling albums in CD format, such as “The Wall” by Pink Floyd (hey, not too bad of taste either ;)).
The cost of the CD’s put up for sale always started at $1.99.
They then “framed” these auctions in two very distinct ways.
The first way had the CD ‘flanked’ with two additional copies (of the same CD) that had a starting bid of $0.99.
The second had the original CD flanked with two copies starting at $6.99.
The results seemed clear: The CDs flanked with the more expensive options ($6.99) consistently ended up fetching higher prices than the CDs next to the $0.99 offerings.
“We didn’t tell people to make a comparison; they did it on their own”, said Simonson.
“And when people make these kinds of comparisons on their own, they are very influential”.
In order to test the effects of explicitly telling the consumers to compare, the researchers re-did the experiment with the same settings, only this time they outright asked consumers to compare the $1.99 CD with the other offerings.
The results of this showed that when explicitly stated to compare, prices of the adjacent CDs became statistically irrelevant to what the bids were on the middle disc.
Additionally, buyers became much more cautious and risk averse in their purchasing of the CDs:
“The mere fact that we had asked them to make a comparison caused them to fear that they were being tricked in some way”, said Simonson.
The results were that people became more timid in every aspect imaginable: fewer bids, longer time on their first bid, and less of a likelihood to participate in multiple auctions.
“Marketers need to be aware that comparative selling, although it can be very powerful, is not without its risks”.
Think about that the next time you directly compare your offering to your competitors.
Instead, you might better benefit from highlighting unique strengths and placing an emphasis on time saved over money saved…
Avoid Option Overload
Pricing is a discipline where art meets science.
On the one hand, you want to empower your customers with tons of information. You want to be flexible, and you want to offer ‘premium’ packages.
But here’s the thing — when it comes to pricing, less is more.
As Unbounce’s Oli Gardner puts it:
Consumers constantly face “analysis paralysis, where too many options actually result in no decision being made”.
Oli Gardner expands upon this concept through a powerful analogy — the Toothpaste Trance. This is a psychological phenomenon that has, at some point, affected everyone. Here’s what happens. There is so much choice for the same product that you end up picking at things randomly. You’re overwhelmed, stop looking at products for their individual benefits and features, and start to perceive each option as ‘one in the same’.
There’s a famous experiment involving supermarket jam. In 2000, researchers S.S. Inyengar and M.R. Leper conducted a study in a supermarket. The premise? Shoppers could sample the different flavors of jam that were available for purchase. The test compared the impact of varying the number of choices between 24 and 6.
In the case of the 24 flavors, only 3% of those who tasted the samples went on to purchase the jam, compared to a 30% purchase rate when only 6 flavors were available. Too many options will only inhibit your customers’ ability to make a clear decision.
Along those lines, your pricing tables need to avoid distractions. Pick 3-5 services in which your company truly excels. Bundle options together into these services, and present the information in 3 streamlined packages.
What’s key is that you bundle your products and services into packages that make sense for your target customers. The way that you present your pricing is just as important as your actual price points.
Consider the following case study from Visual Website Optimizer:
BaseKit, a popular website builder, wanted to improve the performance of its pricing page. They measured success based on the number of people who visit the ‘Buy Now’ page after visiting the ‘Plans and Pricing’ page.
(For follow-up studies, Visual Website Optimizer recommended that BaseKit monitor revenue as a measure of performance).
The traffic directed to the pricing page is primarily paid, so it is highly targeted towards users who are interested in the product.
This was the original variation of the pricing page:
The variation page was designed to have brighter, bolder, and clearer pricing — along with a testimonial and more obvious currency selection. The redesigned pricing page yielded a 25% increase in conversions:
The new design reached statistical significance at the 95% confidence level with 24 hours. For the entire duration of the test, the page yielded a 25% improvement.
Price Vs. Value
Is price a measure of value? Not necessarily, says a study conducted in 2008 by Goldstein and team. The study found that people “do not derive more enjoyment from more expensive wine” when they don’t know much the wine cost. According to another study, however, there is a clear correlation between price and perceived value. When participants were told that a wine had a high price, participants gave that wine higher ratings.
The study took its analysis a step further by examining actual neurological responses to this wine tasting activity.
When told that a wine was more expensive, study participants experienced higher activation in the brain regions associated with feelings of pleasantness. To some extent, consumers are letting price influence how they feel about products and services.
A similar study conducted by Dan Ariely found that students who paid more for cold medicine reported feeling better than students who purchased the same medicine at a discounted price.
But still, expensive is not always better. Remember that consumers are driven by a variety of budgets. Some consumers simply can’t afford more expensive products and service. While they’d love to pay more for quality, they don’t have the flexibility to make frivolous or purchases.
‘Need vs. luxury’ is one of the most foundational concepts in modern economics. The idea is simple — people will spend money on necessities like food, shelter, and clothing before spending money on luxury items like designer goods, expensive materials, and pricey cars.
Some consumer are aggressive about comparing prices and finding deals that align with their wallets. But even this trend isn’t always the case.
Comparison shopping is a strategy used by online retailers to outperform competitors. You may have come across comparison shopping engines like ShopStyle, Google Shopping, or PriceGrabber that make comparison shopping easy.
Here’s the thing. Research suggests that ‘comparisons’ can position your products (or services) as inferior — even when the products are actually the same. Sounds confusing? Here’s one theory — comparison shopping forces consumers to let their minds wander. Inevitably, they start asking questions — why are some products prices less expensively than others? Consumers may then convince themselves that they’re getting additional value from the more expensive item.
Here’s the moral of the story — there is no cookie answer to the question of whether to set prices higher or lower. Some consumer groups will be more price sensitive than others. What businesses need to do is develop an extremely focused market.
Talk to your customers and run qualitative research studies to learn what your target audiences value. Build your pricing models according to what you learn. Be prepared, however — you won’t necessarily please everyone. By focusing on some customer segments, you’ll likely exclude others. And that’s fine.
Tricks Of The Trade
CBS News put together a great summary highlighting tricks that retailers will frequently use to convince consumers to buy. These include the following:
Getting Rid of Dollar Signs
According to a 2009 Cornell University study, prices marked with dollar signs are correlated with lower consumer spending levels. This particular experiment found that diners in upscale restaurants spend significantly less when menus contained the word “dollars” or the dollar symbol “$”. The reason why? We’re overloaded with information. Words and symbols are additional pieces of information for us to process. Expensive restaurants with a minimalistic approach (‘24’ vs. ‘$24’) want patrons to focus on the food instead of the price.
‘10 for $10’
You’ve seen these offers in virtually every supermarket or drugstore. Consumers are convinced that they have to buy 10 items to get the deal, so they’ll load up their shopping carts.
The reality is that it’s an advertising ploy. You don’t necessarily have to buy all 10 to get the price. You can simply get 1 for $1. By advertising ‘10 for $10,’ the story is trying to get you to buy more.
You’ve probably seen this language at the supermarket too. This language creates the illusion of a product being a scarce resource. You’re instantly compelled to buy more in case the store runs out. Remember, it’s just a marketing ploy.
The Power Of ‘9’
Prices ending in 9, 99, or 95 are called ‘charm prices’. Apparently, we’ve been culturally conditioned to associate 9-ending prices with discounts and better deals.
-William Poundstone Author of Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value and How to Take Advantage of It
Also, because we read numbers from left to right, we encode a price like $7.99 as $7 — especially if we read too quickly. It’s called “left-digit effect”:
We encode it in our minds before we read all the digits
-Vicki Morwitz Research Professor of Marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University and president of The Society For Consumer Psychology
Head over to practically any store around (online or brick and mortar) and you’ll see prices that end in “9” everywhere.
We’ve all heard of the reasons why it’s used (to make the price look lower), but does it really work? Are people really going to be effected by a $99 price point versus paying $100?
As it turns out, this tactic does indeed work, and has been dubbed the use of “charm prices”.
In his book Priceless, William Poundstone dissects 8 different studies on the use of charm prices, and found that, on average, they increased sales by 24% versus their nearby, ’rounded’ price points.
In fact, in an experiment tested by MIT and the University of Chicago, a standard women’s clothing item was tested at the prices of $34, $39, and $44.
To the researchers surprise, the item sold best at $39, even more than the cheaper $34 price.
One has to wonder… is there anything that can outsell number 9?
Researchers have found that sale prices, that emphasize the original price, do seem to beat out number 9 when split tested.
Humans have short attention spans. Every fraction of a second matters. We don’t have time to waste on interpreting commas and decimal places. That’s why retailers will use whole, flat numbers.
Some stores will put a product on sale and show you the original price from which it was marked down. The sign might say that the original cost was $10 and now $8 instead of $7.97. That’s because ‘$7.97’ is an awkward number. Even though ‘$7.97’ is cheaper, it takes a little more time to digest and instantly calculate the savings. It’s easier to go to $8, as customers can calculate ‘$10-$8’ very quickly.
Reduced Font Size
Marketing professors at Clark University and The University of Connecticut found that consumers perceive sale prices to be a better value when the price is written in a small font rather than a large, bold typeface. This is something that marketers sometimes get wrong.
The theory is that the human mind connects physical magnitude to numerical magnitude.
Keep in mind, however, is that human eyes aren’t created equally. Small fonts, especially on a computer screen, can be tough to read. Don’t force your audiences to read, but don’t bombard them with giant text advertising your sales either.
Pricing is more than just numbers. Consumers are typically looking to solve a problem and relieve a key pain point. When trying to establish the ‘right’ price, speak directly to your audience’s needs and values. The solution you’re able to provide will exponentially outweigh the numbers you select. Focus on data related to consumer needs, not arbitrary numbers.
- Simplify the user experience as much as possible. Avoid option-overload, and keep price points close to round numbers. If incorporating a discount or price comparison with a competitor, get rid of decimal points or commas — they’re only going to confuse your audience.
- Remember that pricing is all about context. Some demographic groups will be more price conscious (and price sensitive) than others. Some individuals will be aggressive about saving and finding deals. Others will be more flexible about how much money they’re willing to spend. These individuals will likely prioritize their time above saving a few dollars. Your approach to pricing goes hand-in-hand with your company’s go-to-market strategy. Talk to your customers, run a survey, and conduct a qualitative study to figure out — exactly —what your customers want. Are they price sensitive or relatively flexible with their budgets? Focus on your market, and give them exactly what they need. You may exclude some consumer groups, but hey, that’s fine.
My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.
I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.
- YouTube to Instagram – Post YouTube videos quickly on Instagram.
- Multiple Twitter Accounts – Toggle between multiple Twitter accounts.
- Helpjuice – Make it easy for customers and employees to access important information about your company.
These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape
Original Post: http://youtu.be/WXwroF-x-KU