You’ve no doubt already heard a great deal about artificial intelligence (AI), some of it positive, but much of it designed to stoke fear. Sure, we should be concerned about AI being misused, and growing into something we don’t fully understand, and can’t control, but that’s not something I’m going to cover in this short article. I’m going to focus on how to make use of AI in your business and make you more productive, particularly by using ChatGPI, which at the time of posting this article, is free to use.
So, ChatGPT can be used to improve productivity and potentially increase income. Here are some recommendations on how to leverage ChatGPT for this purpose:
Improve time management and planning: ChatGPT can assist you in optimizing your time and creating effective schedules. You can ask for advice on time management techniques, productivity tools, or strategies to prioritize tasks. ChatGPT can provide suggestions tailored to your specific needs and help you make the most of your available time.
Decision making: When faced with important decisions related to your work or business, you can use ChatGPT as a tool to brainstorm ideas, evaluate options, and explore different perspectives. Describe your situation or provide relevant details, and ChatGPT can offer insights, pros and cons, or alternative approaches to consider. However, remember to critically evaluate the responses and use your own judgment.
Skill development: ChatGPT can be a valuable resource for learning and acquiring new skills. You can seek recommendations for online courses, books, or tutorials in areas that can enhance your professional expertise or improve your business operations. ChatGPT can provide suggestions based on your interests, goals, and the specific skills you wish to develop.
Problem-solving: If you encounter challenges or obstacles in your work or business, ChatGPT can help you brainstorm solutions or provide different perspectives on how to overcome them. Explain the problem you’re facing and ask for advice or potential strategies. While ChatGPT can offer suggestions, remember to exercise critical thinking and adapt the recommendations to your unique situation.
Industry insights and trends: Stay up to date with the latest industry insights and trends by asking ChatGPT about relevant news, market research, or emerging technologies in your field. Understanding the current landscape can help you make informed decisions, identify opportunities, and stay ahead of the curve.
Networking and collaboration: ChatGPT can suggest networking strategies, platforms, or industry events that can expand your professional connections. You can also seek advice on collaboration opportunities or finding potential partners or clients. Remember to combine ChatGPT’s suggestions with your own research and judgment.
Personal finance and investment: If you have questions about personal finance, investment strategies, or managing your income, ChatGPT can offer general information and principles to consider. However, keep in mind that ChatGPT does not have real-time financial data and its responses may not be tailored to your specific financial situation. Consult with financial professionals for personalized advice.
Remember that while ChatGPT can provide useful insights and suggestions, it is always important to exercise critical thinking, validate information independently, and make informed decisions based on your unique circumstances. ChatGPT should be seen as a tool to augment your own judgment and expertise, rather than a substitute for it.
One way of increasing the likelihood you’ll take some desired action, is the ability to look at a goal, plan or task in a different, more inspiring way.
If it doesn’t provide a big enough reason for you to take action, you most certainly won’t take it.
Human beings get stuck in persistent patterns of thinking that frame the subjects of those thoughts in a certain way, and moving beyond these frames of reference can be very difficult if left unchallenged.
For individuals, such thoughts often centre around self-doubt. Self talk may go along the lines of “I can’t do [blank]”,” I don’t have the necessary experience, skill-set, knowledge, resources, etc”.
Businesses can also display this negative thinking; “we can’t compete with [blank]”, “we can’t compete on price” etc.
So what is the consequence of thinking like this? Well, we don’t take action, we don’t even try it, we just talk ourselves out of it and move on.
Maybe this is the right thing to do, maybe thinking abstractly against it is better than ploughing time, effort and resources into a doomed endeavour, maybe, but maybe not.
If we’re not careful, this way of thinking becomes a coping strategy that lets us off the hook and allows us to not take action in an act of self preservation. They become coping excuses.
A more productive way of thinking about it may be in asking “what if”. What if we did this, and what is the possible upside?
“What if” is a creative question. It opens up possibilities, rather than shutting them down. What if we could reframe the way we think about our weaknesses, and recast them as strengths?
In 1962 advertising executive Paula Green came up with a now famous slogan for Avis car rentals, that took advantage of their weaker market position in relation to Hertz, repositioning it from a weakness into a strength. The slogan “we try harder” let prospective customers know Avis would be more attentive to their needs than Hertz would be.
Stella Artois did something similar with their “reassuringly expensive” advertising campaign in 2004.
It’s all about finding a more empowering story that reframes your perceived weakness into strengths, for your own benefit, and also from a marketing point of view.
Here are a few examples:
Smaller size; being smaller allows you to be more nimble and adaptable than big players
Less experienced; don’t have as much skin in the game, nothing to lose by doing things differently and disrupting the status quo
Less prestigious location; can provide better value for money because not paying as much in rental costs.
We discussed in a previous post, the importance of capturing attention when carrying out marketing activities. To summarise what we covered in that post…
Marketing only works if you can first capture your prospect’s attention, otherwise all your other marketing efforts go to waste. Capturing your prospect’s attention is the combination of standing out from the crowd and providing something of value in the pursuit of one of their goals.
So that’s where we’ll pick things up.
Having won ourselves a few seconds of precious attention, nothing more, we must make the best of the time we’ve got. The question is, how can we maximise the opportunity?
Provide something valuable
We must ensure our sales patter is interesting, in that it provides some value that the prospect wants or needs in their journey towards the attainment of one or more of their goals.
A goal could be something big, like building their own business or making the next big phone app, or something small like having a clean car, or a new set of pots and pans to cook with.
There are a couple of ways to help them move towards their goals. The first is to show them your solution and explain the benefits and features of what you offer. If they are currently in the market for it, then as long as the price is right, the value is communicated, and they have enough trust in your ability to deliver on your promise, you’ll have a decent chance of them buying. Having said that, most prospects will be wary of committing straight away, without having previously built up some trust in you, your company or brand. This is particularly true if they have never heard of you before.
There are several ways to building trust quickly. The first is to appear professional in the way you present yourself, your brand or business. You do this through your communication; such as signage, website, social media presence and literature.
The second way is to have a physical location (premises) which prospects can visit and check out. This gives the perception that you are rather more stable and dependable than if you were solely a web-based business. We’ve all experienced problems with internet only businesses who can’t be contacted easily when things go wrong.
Finally, one of the best ways of building trust quickly, particularly with regards to new prospects, is to have plenty of good, genuine customer reviews or testimonials, preferably stretching back over several years. This helps with the perception that you’ve been around a while. Good search engine rankings also help to demonstrate longevity, because they are difficult to circumvent.
Make it easy
Having minimal friction in your buying process will also give you more chance of getting a sale. The fewer hoops prospects have to jump through to buy from you, the better. This is why Amazon’s one click shopping option is so popular.
I did say there were two ways to help move prospects towards their goal, we’ve covered what to do with those looking to buy straight away, but what about those that aren’t ready yet, but who may be in the next 30 or 60 days or so.
You can focus on building your brand with these prospects, by providing free extra value in some way. If you sell pots and pans, you may offer some great recipes that make use of those pots and pans. If you’re a car valet, you may provide free branded car air fresheners, or some tips and tricks to remove stains and spills from car upholstery.
What you’re trying to do, when giving out gifts, advice, tips and tricks, is build a relationship with prospects, so they get to know, like and trust you, so that when they are ready to buy, you are in the frame to make the sale. The things you do to provide the extra value must support your core offering, the thing you’re trying to sell to them, otherwise it won’t make any sense.
With that in mind, it’s better to keep adding value over time, rather than just doing it as a one off. By keeping your brand in the forefront of your prospects’ minds you will improve your chances of getting the sale when the time comes for them to buy.
Once you’ve captured your prospect’s attention, you have to provide something of value for them. You can do this through the benefits and features of your offering.
If prospects are ready to buy straight away, make sure your sales process is as frictionless as possible.
If they aren’t ready to buy just yet, either because they don’t want your solution right now, or they don’t trust you enough; work on building your brand with them, by providing free extra value. Keep adding value until they are ready to buy.
Marketing requires you to first capture the attention of your prospects. If you’re unable to do so, you have no way of sharing your marketing message with them, and all your marketing efforts will go to waste.
Prospects are continually bombarded with information, as indeed we all are. To cope with the shear volume of incoming stimuli, choices are made, often on a subconscious level. We as humans tend to pay attention to things that are relevant to some kind of goal or pursuit we are trying to move towards. Everything else is ignored or filtered out from our conscious awareness, and may not even register with us.
To illustrate this point, check out this video.
Hopefully you now appreciate the fact that attention is limited, and goal focused. You ignored the gorilla because your attention was busy focusing on counting the passes of the ball. The goal required you to keep your eye on just the ball and ignore everything else that didn’t contribute to that.
Marketing to a captive audience
You might think it would be easier to market to a captive audience. For example let’s say you are advertising on the TV or on the radio or even in the pre-roll of a YouTube video. Your audience is already watching or listening, so they can’t escape your advert.
But ask yourself, when was the last time you really paid attention to the adverts in such situations. You either reach for your phone, to see what notifications you’ve missed, or you tune out, while thinking about something else.
Marketing on a busy platform
If your advertising on a busy platform, say social media, then engagement is much harder to achieve. You are then competing with everything else that can steal your prospect’s attention away. Let’s consider the example of running an advert on their Facebook feed.
Your marketing message will compete with status updates from your prospect’s friends and family. As well as engaging entertainment posts related to their interests. So you need to stop them scrolling past your advert, by appealing to their interests and/or goals.
Searching or not
Imagine you’re a florist, and Valentines day is just around the corner. You know that people are likely to be in the market for buying flowers, so presenting them with a unique offer, is probably going to get them to stop for a moment to check your advert out. If there is no special occasion imminent, then creating an excuse for them to surprise their partner may be required.
The fact that they are not actively searching for something to buy, makes the sale a little more difficult. They will probably just scroll straight past your advert, without giving it a second thought. So you may have to rely on eye-catching imagery to get them to stop and see what’s on show.
High quality images are more attention-getting than static text, and video is often more engaging than images. You must find a way of standing out from the other content, to catch their eye.
We humans take notice of changes and differences. It’s hard-wired into us, at an instinctive, self-preservation level. If our ancestor didn’t pay attention to changes in their surroundings, it could have resulted in them being eaten by a predator. Our subconscious picks up on such things before we’re even consciously aware of it. And although we’re unlikely to be eaten when scrolling through our Facebook feed, our instinct still reacts as if we might.
So make sure your marketing message doesn’t blend in with all the other content. Make it stand out by contrasting in some noticeable way. Usually this needs to be done visually, because sound is often muted on social media. However, there is no one-fits-all solution available, only by testing alternatives can you see what works best for your particular situation.
So in summary, marketing only works if you can first capture your prospect’s attention, otherwise all your other marketing efforts go to waste. Capturing your prospect’s attention is the combination of standing out from the crowd and providing something of value in the pursuit of one of their goals.
Once you’ve captured your prospect’s attention, you need to deliver a message that pulls them in to your offering, so they’ll want to find out more about you and your solution.
To successfully sell on social media, online or anywhere else, for that matter, two things are required..
First, we have to get noticed. Think about it this way, what grabs you’re attention when you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed?
For adverts, that are designed to sell you something, it would usually have to provide something you want or need, a solution to a problem you have, presented in an eye-catching way.
Motion graphics will help you catch attention, and stop people scrolling past.
Call to action
The second thing required would be a clear “call to action”.
The call to action depends on what you want viewers to do after seeing your advert. The clearers and frictionless the process of carrying out that call to action is, the better.
When talking about “friction” we’re not just talking solely about the physical things we want them to do, such as click here, enter your email address or add to cart, but also what we’re asking of them psychologically.
If they fear getting spammed by marketing messages, giving us their email address is not going to be as easy as it otherwise might be.
So whatever we are asking of them, we must make it both physically and psychologically as frictionless as possible. Make it as quick-and-easy as possible (one click is the ideal), with the minimum of risk attached to it (money back guarantee, free taster etc).
Everything else you use in your advert is only required to support your call to action. Things like testimonials, engaging images and text should aim to support your message and improve trust and liking.
You’ve probably heard the term “content is king” countless times, and it’s ever more important in today’s internet-centric business environment.
The aim of content creation should be to allow your business to stand out from competitors, and help prospective customers get to know, like and trust you, so that they will, in time, consider doing business with you.
In other words content should be used to build your brand!
If you try to transact your prospects every time they interact with your brand, you will find you have to compete with all your competitors doing the same thing, and that can get expensive in terms of advertising costs.
Using advertising to first grab attention, then trying to convert prospects via a landing page or over the telephone is a big ask, and prospective customers are very guarded against slick sales messages. They will only consider you if you make the right first impression and are able to build trust quickly.
Consider an alternative solution, which is a longer term strategy but can prepare the ground by building trust and goodwill with people that are not quite ready to buy just yet, but who might be in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. This is called content creation.
When it comes to creating content you should be looking to give visitors something for nothing, to provide value to them without asking for something in return. You should try to help your prospective customers get to know more about your brand, to get to like how you do business and allow them to build up trust in you.
So, create content that prospects want from the page they arrive at. Make sure your adverts or links from adverts or social media posts are clear, and informative and accurately reflect what you’ve promised them. Don’t promise something that you fail to follow through on, just to get them onto your website. That is the surest way to ruin your reputation and destroy trust.
Once they are on your page you need to understand who the prospective customer is, what is their desire? What solution are they seeking? What possible questions are they asking and wanting answered?
To provide value for them, you need to answer these questions effectively, thoroughly and as uniquely as possible. Don’t just regurgitate the same old information, that everyone else is doing. Instead do it in your own voice.
Some content ideas…
1. To build awareness on social media use ENGAGEMENT POSTS – any format, to get comments or a reaction (clicks) – this pushes up in news feed and can include questions, funny memes, photos with a question
2. To grow authority – Encourage testimonials, case studies, speaking engagements, you in action doing what you’re trying to sell – honoured rather than boastful
3. To get clients – leads (email list sign up or phone) and clients attraction. Questions, graphics, videos, gifs
To provide value;
Be relevant – You must have content that interests your prospective customer, otherwise why would they be interested in what you have to say.
Be contextual – formatted for each channel specifically. Try to reformat your content to suit where you want to be found. Vertical video works better on Facebook than it does on Youtube.
Be transparent – builds trust,
Be authentic – be true to yourself,
Inspire interaction – build community,
Be current – so that you resonate with your audience today,
Aim for connection – It’s better to be narrow and deep than wide and shallow- 100 loyal fans better than 10,000 none engaged followers.
Content should be made up of:
There are only 3 types of content when you boil it down.
Escapism and entertainment
Escapism – being removed from our mundane real life situation for a short time, to forget.
interesting (aligned with audiences interests),
create a knowledge gap and fills it,
highlights a threat,
challenge plot, creative plot, connection plot.
Information and utility
Providing information that will help prospects in some way to improve their understanding, increase their knowledge or make life easier or better in some way.
Core information your customers need to know about your products and company before they’ll include you in their consideration set.
How – to’s,
Customer ratings and review.
Ancillary content – This is the supporting and additional content. Think of ancillary content like the bonus tracks on a DVD.
Take prospects behind-the-scenes,
Let prospects get personal with your employees,
Encourage customers to share photographs using your product.
Re-imagined content – Plan different versions of your content to ensure it’s contextually relevant to each specific platform. Again, this is best planned in advance to maximize resources and include it in your content creation contracts.
Provide Commentary – This is the related content and comments that your employees, customers and fans create in coordination or as a result of your core content.
Commentary works best when your audience creates it out their desire to share with their circle of friends and social connections such as Facebook and Instagram posts.
Internal content curation – This is where you maximize the value of your own previously published content by using it in the creation of new content and the re-promotion of old content, giving it new life. It has one or more of the following attributes.
Make content contextually relevance,
Extend content into a new format.
Some additional ideas..
Target a new audience for old content,
Provide access to a location, a person, an institution,
Curation of other peoples content,
Chart your own progress in some relevant endeavor,
Your journey to build your business – moving your business online,
Your progress in a new job,
Learning a new skill,
Put sales techniques into practice,
Sell something different every day testing your sales skills.
Current niche trends,
Software trends if relevant,
Explore the topic more freely and in-depth,
Cover local issues,
Real estate – local amenities, history of area – reasons why it’s good living here,
Local relevant events.
Connect people and community, to share ideas and stories.
Coming up with content ideas
Here are the 33 prompts that you can use to write just about ANYTHING… feel free to copy and paste them into notepad so you can use them every day when you sit down to write content.
Ask a question,
Reference current events,
Create your own terms,
Reveal news (new/introducing),
Tell the reader to do something,
Make a comparison,
Promise useful information,
Tell a (quick) story,
Make a recommendation,
Use a testimonial,
Promise to reveal a secret,
Target section of your audience,
Scarcity of savings/value,
Deliver good news,
Challenge the reader,
Highlight your guarantee,
State the price (as benefit),
Set up (seemingly),
Address reader objection/concern,
“As crazy as it sounds”,
Take them to the promised land,
Reason why headline,
Stress cost saving and value,
List / answer questions,
State / deliver on reader’s goals,
Highlight cost of mistakes.
Use this website for content ideas http://answerthepublic.com/ enter a keyword and it will suggest content ideas
Types of content
Lists of lists,
Did you know,
Covering fast changing situations,
From around the web,
Summing up events,
Q&A for interviews,
High level breakdown,
“Day in the life of” post,
Videos – screencasts, talking heads, illustrations, graphics, film roll,
User Generated Content,
Meme – Meme Generator and Quick Meme,
Social equity – introductions, access to contacts (interview, insight) – Leverage status (fame), membership (masons), contacts, relationships.
Guides – A guide is a detailed and fairly long piece of content. Think of it as an epic blog post. It goes beyond the length, style, and approach of an ordinary blog post.
Book reviews – A book review is a simple discussion of a book plus your take on it. You recommend good ones, critique not-so-good ones, and share the value that you glean from them. Book reviews are great because they help to position you as a thought leader.
Opinion post (rant) – This style of post is substantially different from your typical blog post, mostly due to its tone. You may be used to publishing a careful and researched discussion of a topic. The rant or opinion, by contrast, may be stronger and more expressive. The more vociferous your position, the more it’s going to get read and shared.
Product reviews – Like the book review, a product review can help establish authority and leadership in your industry. Every industry has its unique array of products, software, and services. When you engage key developers, manufacturers, or service providers, you gain recognition and respect. All you need to do is share your experience with the product and provide your recommendation.
How to.. The how-to is one of the most popular types of content, especially in my niche. On my blog, I write a lot of how-to guides. How-to articles have awesome long tail search potential due to these popular long tail query introductions: “How to…” and “How do I…?”
Lists – Lists have endless appeal. We’re wired to love them. Chance are you’re going to see or read an article today that involves some sort of a list — “5 Security Breaches You Need to Know about,” “17 Ways to Rank Higher in Google in One Month.” Hey, you’re already reading an article with the title “15 Types.”
Link pages – link page is simply a post that provides links to great resources around the web. The great thing about link posts is that they spread link love to other sites, provide your own site with authoritative SEO signals, and assert your thought leadership within your field.
Ebook – An ebook is long content packaged in a different format, usually as a PDF. Ebooks are often a downloadable product, available for free in exchange for joining a mailing list. Producing an ebook helps to strengthen your authority within a field, and it makes for a powerful method of sharing your knowledge with others.
Case study – A case study explains what your product or service is and how it helped a client. The case study basically says, “here’s what we do, how we do it, and the results we get.”
Podcast – Podcasts had their phase of popularity, and they’re still a great form of content. Plus, they’re not hard to create. Many people listen to podcasts during their commute or exercise. You have a chance to spread your message farther and better using this format than a lot of other formats.
Interview – Every field has its leaders. When you’re able to interview a leader, you can garner a lot of respect from others in the field, not to mention huge amounts of traffic. Interviews are unique. No one else has this information — only you.
Research and original data – Most of us work in data-intensive fields, where numbers and metrics hold a lot of value. Sharing your findings with others is a powerful way to drive traffic, build trust, and establish your authority. When you do the research, which is hard work, people respect that. What’s more, people share it.
Digesting info and regurgitating/repackaging and presenting it to your audience in a new package,
Content curation and Content aggregation, where you filter good quality content for your readers, this adds value for them and saves them having to troll through low quality content,
If you don’t have anything to say, DOCUMENT! – easier than having to create new content,
If you’re not an expert in your niche you can become a well informed commentator (share stories from niche – curate content made by others and add your own commentary).
Look after your readers
Always reply to comments or messages,
Use names and tag people,
Share things – if you come across something you like share it,
Be an investigator – Google Alerts – gives you news about a chosen keyword(s),
Check out the results, go to a page and leave a comment as a nice gesture,
Make navigation around the site easy,
Decrease page load times,
Get rid of annoyances on site such as pop-ups and distracting ads,
Surprise audience – give something for free,
Include transcript with podcasts or video,
Use high quality audio and video,
Skip the sales pitch – the best sales pitch is no sales pitch at all,
Reply with a video,
Invite participation – reader challenge, ask for opinion, calls to action – get people involved,
Get personal – infuse your personality and life to get deeper connection,
Provide unique content such as provide case studios, experiments, income reports etc
Proof read content before you post it,
Remember who you are and who your serving,
Always over deliver,
Write post which is potential vehicle for income. Good quality, unique, have affiliate links in sidebar so on every post and in text,
Create a visual representation of the information you are talking about to help you and your audience remember it,
Transformation – what’s the transformation you want your audience to go through. Another way of putting it is what’s the purpose of your article. What’s the goal,
Start with in this episode we are going to talk about x. by the end of this you will be able to Y using your Z,
Tell them what you’re going to tell them, Tell them, Tell them what you told them,
Reverse engineer the transformation. Work backwards. What supporting content do you need to include to achieve the transformation,
Write down all possible objections and include a reply to each of these in the supporting content,
Tell stories (more memorable) or Include case studies or Research and data. Always include the professors full name and qualifications include accurate data to the penny,
Subdivide the article so that it is easier to understand and follow. Subdivisions could be steps, tips,
Make the beginning and end memorable,
Ending should have a call to action, get audience involved, show how what you have talked about actually works, surprise audience in some way (must be relevant),
Beginning should have a video or high impact beginning,
Aim for Consistency,
Talk like a human being,
You shouldn’t be vanilla – take a point of view,
Don’t talk at your audience, talk with them. connection, interaction.
So as you can see there is a lot to consider with regards to your content. The best advice I can give is get stuff out there and see what works best for your audience.
When it comes to creating content for your website or blog, it can sometimes be difficult to know what to write about. This post is here to help you generate some content ideas.
When it comes to creating content you can either…
Be a facilitator, by providing access to and curating other peoples/experts content, and providing additional insight and commentary in order to provide additional value.
You can create your own unique content from scratch, although this takes more time and effort.
Or you can document your journey and provide insight to those following you. This can have the added bonus of ingraining recently learned knowledge for yourself, and giving you an opportunity to better understand what information you’ve just acquired.
There are really only 3 types of content
Escapism and entertainment content – fun stuff, games, videos, movies, that are humourous, clever, insightful, inspirational, scary, emotional, intriguing or interesting
Information and utility content – calendars, diaries, to do lists etc
Social content – around people and community
It’s important to understand that context matters. So make sure your content bares some relevance to your website and business. For example it doesn’t make any sense talking about the latest gadget releases if you’re trying to promote a gardening business. Keep your content relevant to your target market, help them or entertain them in a way that adds value for them.
Content can be made up of:
Be cautious of the following pitfalls…
Focusing on the wrong topic,
Using the wrong media,
In order to ensure you don’t fall foul of these pitfalls, you must have some understanding about the type of people you’re wanting to attract and cater for.
What do your visitors want to know?
How can you best provide value for them?
What content will help built, trust, credibility and generate some goodwill with your target audience?
Some additional info
Chart your own progress
Your journey to build your business – moving your business online
Your progress in a new job
Learning a new skill – learning SEO, PPC
Put sale techniques into practice
Sell something different every day testing your sales skills
Cover current niche trends
Current photography trends/techniques
Explore the topic more freely and in-depth
Cover local issues
Real estate – local amenities, history of area – reasons why it’s good living here
Local relevant events
Content can come in many formats, here are a few ideas…
Lists of lists
Did you know
Covering fast changing situations
From around the web
Summing up events
Q&A for interviews
High level breakdown
Some more content formats (excuse any duplicates to previously mentioned types)
“Day in the life of” Post
Videos – screencasts, talking heads, illustrations, graphics, film roll
Successful selling from your website, requires a plan of action, so that you know what you’re trying to do with each advert, each piece of content, each image, video, graphic.
Effectively it gives you a strategy, an aim for everything you’re doing, you have direction and structure and purpose.
Firstly, you’ve got to get people on to your website, from wherever they currently are, whether that be searching on Google, socialising on Facebook, browsing imagery on Instagram, or consuming content on other websites.
So the question becomes, how do you get people who are minding their own business or searching for something, to want to click through to your website, instead of continuing to do what they’re doing?
Well, first you have to be in the same location your prospects attention is focused on. If they’re on Google, searching for information, services or products, you’ve got to be there either through Search Engine Optimisation efforts, or Pay Per Click advertising. You need to be on the first page ideally, because most searches don’t extend beyond the first page.
If they’re on social media, you also need to have a presence there, either in the same groups, or by delivering content that they find interesting, or via paid adverts.
Secondly, you need to get “noticed”, this means standing out from the crowd in some way, either with eye-catching graphics or attention-grabbing words or copy.
Once you have them on your site, you must provide what you promised them on your adverts or copy. Don’t mislead them, because they will be annoyed and disappointed and this isn’t good for your brand reputation. Trust takes time to build and seconds to destroy.
Include information that is entertaining, informative, insightful and adds value to the person consuming it.
Also make sure this content is relevant to what you’re selling. No point providing cute pet videos if your customer is looking for business solutions.
There is no point getting random traffic to your site, you want people who are going to benefit from your services/products, and only them. So keep it relevant to your target market from initial content on social media or in search results through to your website pages.
Finally you need to have a “call to action”, either getting them to sign up to your newsletter, so you can keep providing value and pitch your service/products, or have a buy now option, where they can purchase directly from you straight away.
Test different approaches to see what works best for you, but remember people buy based on TRUST, COMPETENCY, CONVENIENCE, RELIABILITY, QUALITY and VALUE FOR MONEY. Selling on the internet is the same as selling face to face, in this respect.
Getting visitors to opt-in to your mailing list (via your website) provides a great way of directly communicating with them at a later time, in fact it should be one of your on-line marketing priorities. Imagine if you lost your Facebook page or Twitter account (and it can happen), how would you contact your audience?
Having a list of email subscribers keeps control in your own hands, rather than relying on a third party platform, and gives you a direct path to people that, by subscribing to your list, have qualified themselves as being interested in what you have to say. If they arrive on your site, read a little and leave you have nothing. As the old adage goes “the money is in the (email) list” and this is unlikely to change any time soon.
What you’ve first got to think about is that, from your visitors point of view, why would they want give you their email address? They usually won’t want to be contacted unless you have something interesting or useful to say or offer.
If you think you can simply add an opt-in form to your site and people will immediately fall over themselves to sign-up, then you’re sadly, misguided. Try it for yourself and see what happens. There needs to be something else in place to get that all important email address, and incentives are a great start.
So you’ve got to give visitors some incentive, provide some benefit to them in return for their email address. They have to want to get communication from you for some perceived advantage. Generally, people don’t like to be sold to, so you need to get over to them that you’re looking to help them to either solve a problem or achieve a goal rather than sell them something, and communicating the benefit of your offer is vital if you’re to succeed. Answer the question “What benefit is in it for them”.
Benefits can be short-lived, and particularly relevant to one piece of content (content upgrade) or could be more long term focused and offer ongoing value. If you capture an email because of a content upgrade you should look to keep them as a long term subscriber by having a strategy in place to provide ongoing value and support, otherwise they will simply opt-out straight away. Check out my in-depth list of opt-in incentive ideas.
Sell the benefits – Use wording within your opt-in form that sells the benefit of this incentive to your visitor. “Increase productivity with my 5 efficiency hacks” or “5 efficiency hacks that will increase productivity”, obviously make it relevant to your particular incentive, answer the question. “Why do my visitors need this incentive?”
Don’t promise something you can’t produce or provide and never ever try to mislead subscriber’s. Be honest, and reliable at all times. Once you break trust it is unlikely, unless you have history with them, that they will ever forgive you, and why should they? Check the section about credibility, capability and trustworthiness (below), for more information.
Offsetting the risk for subscribers
If I am the visitor on a new website I consider the risk reward balance of becoming a subscriber. Asking myself “If I give this person my email address can I opt-out if I change my mind?” So adding some text to your opt-in form saying that subscribers can opt-out easily at any time, and will not be pestered thereafter, will help to reduce this concern.
The main fear for many visitors, that prevents them from subscribing, is being swamped with spam emails that don’t offer any value to them and that become a pain to get rid of. Knowing they can click a button and never see your mail again is a big risk reducer. “One click to unsubscribe at any time – guaranteed!”.
Another concern is email addresses being sold onto third parties without the subscribers permission, and this should never happen, but sadly does. Make sure you state that there is no risk of this happening if they sign up with you. “We will never spam you” or “We will never share your email address with anyone else” or a combination of the two will help.
Adding extra value
When a visitor lands on your page they probably don’t know you, they don’t particularly care about you and your brand, or want to build a relationship with you, what they want is to get some benefit from you and your site. It’s your job to answer their question, “What’s in it for me?” The benefit should be so good they just can’t resist to sign up. The promise of insider information, better quality bonus information, discounts, rebates etc. and they’ll get that exclusively if they sign up.
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Other considerations for getting email opt-in’s are:
Getting people to see your page in the first place is of paramount importance, but the traffic volume alone is no good, you need traffic that is interested in your offer, so targeted traffic is what counts. Laser focus your marketing messages to speak to people who are interested in your niche and only them. Check this post for more information.
Once they arrive on your site, you need them to stay around long enough to see your opt-in box, so having content that will keep them engaged and on your site long enough to get the chance to opt-in is another big part of the jigsaw.
There needs to be some demonstration of value in your content that makes the visitor think, “I like this enough to sign up”. Think about it, if the content on a site you visit is not engaging or of high quality or relevance, are you going to sign up for their email newsletter?
You need to be thinking “I can get some value from this person” to even consider signing up. There’s got to be an interest from the visitor in the subject matter, and then they have got to like your take on that subject matter to want to stay around and hear more from you.
Placement of opt-in
You should consider placement of your opt-in form, do you put it in the sidebar, and if so at the top, middle or bottom? In the post itself, and again where is best? There is no definitive answer to this, the best advice is to test for yourself and see what works best for your audience. Some ideas for placement testing include:
Sidebar – top, middle, or bottom separately and altogether,
within the post itself – above the fold or bottom of post or both
It’s great to include an opt-in form on both the “homepage” and “about us” pages, and again test multiple locations and see what works for you.
Make it stand out
As well as considering the location, it’s important, wherever you place your opt-in form, to make sure it stands out and is noticed. Use the rule of contrast, and make your form the opposite colour to the rest of your website. Visitor’s must be drawn to your opt-in form and the human brain is hard-wired to notice things that don’t match the rest of the environment, that stand out.
Number of fields
Think about how many fields you’re asking the visitor to fill in – my testing shows the fewer fields the visitor has to complete the more subscribers you will get. On the flip side I have seen research that suggests converting subscribers to paying customers (further down the sales funnel) tends to be better from leads who originally opted-in via forms with more fields, so as always test variations and see what works for you.
Credible, capable and trustworthy
Credibility, although last to be discussed here, is without doubt the most important element you need to sell anything online. If you can prove you know what you’re talking about, you know your niche, your product or service, you’re three quarters of the way to achieving online success.
Credibility builds trust, and gives your audience confidence you can deliver the results they are looking for. Credibility comes in the form of customer testimonials and reviews, case studies, demonstrations, free samples, free trial periods, social media following and interaction, before and after photos, published income statements, in fact anything that shows you can do what you say you can do, and the better you can demonstrate this the easier selling will be. Think of why you shop at Amazon (for instance), is it because of their stunning website design, the colour of their sidebars or footers?
You buy from Amazon, because you trust them, you know they can deliver what they say they will, and when they say they will, you can check out product reviews, you can return it if you’re not happy with it when it arrives. If I didn’t say it before “Credibility is key”.
There needs to be so much more in place to get subscribers onto your email list than just having an opt-in form on your site. Without subscribers, selling online, while not impossible, is much more difficult for some type of businesses. This varies depending on the type of niche you are involved in of course, my photography studio business sells lots of experience vouchers online without needing to get subscribers (although I still collect the emails of visitors to send promotional offers to), but this seems to be very different for none physical businesses that sell things like digital products and solutions, where getting subscribers is much more important in the sales process.
Below is a list of elements you will need to get visitor’s email addresses.
You’ve got to get targeted traffic to your site in the first place,
Provide good relevant content to engage your visitors and keep them hanging around, also the more of this content there is and the longer you have been around helps in the perception of credibility
Have an opt-in form generator such as Thrive Leads to capture your visitor’s email address and an auto responder such as Mailchimp or Aweber to deliver the relevant incentive promised,
An opt-in incentive and the wording used to sell the incentive to your visitors. Also think about an ongoing strategy for offering continuing value that requires staying subscribed to get access to it. (list of ideas here)
Risk reducers – using reassurances such as:
We will never spam you
We will never share your email address
You can opt-out with one click at any time, but please give us a try
Positioning of the opt-in box:
On the home page
Within post above fold and end of post
On the “About us” page
In the sidebar
Don’t overdo it though, sometimes less is best.
Number of fields the visitor has to fill in – keep to a minimum.
Make sure your opt-in box stands out, use the rule of contrast when deciding what colour to use, which involves looking at the predominate colour of your website and picking the colour opposite on the colour wheel
Most importantly – being perceived as credible, capable and trustworthy – trust elements, money back guarantees, free trial periods, income reports, testimonials, review, case studies, list of major brands you have done work for, TV appearances etc. Without credibility, I doubt having all the other elements in place would lead to much success, it is the single most important ingredient of selling online, and off-line for that matter. If you were to consider what to spend most time on improving, it should be this. As I said earlier, I sell lots of photo experience vouchers online, and the main reason for this undoubtedly being seen as credible, capable and trustworthy.
Once you have all the elements, described in the preceding paragraphs, in place you have a fighting chance. Test all of the variables to see which is more effective with your audience, it’s an on-going process of testing, and re-testing. There is no magic bullet, and what works for one doesn’t guarantee will work for someone else. Don’t assume you know best either, use your hunch as a starting point and test against it.
Just a word of warning regarding testing. Don’t change more than one element at a time and make sure you are getting sufficient volume to make the results meaningful. This will be hard when starting off, because you will obviously not have the volume of visitors, but online success is not achieved overnight, and measuring performance from the start is what will give you an edge over other newcomers, and ensure you have taken a solid first step.
It’s all very well getting lots of traffic onto your website, but if it’s not targeted traffic, then you’re not going to earn much money from all those visitors. If you’re selling dog collars for instance and getting people to your website who are looking for holidays, then all that will happen is those visitors will bounce off your site and go elsewhere. So think laser focused targeting for all your marketing messages. Appeal to prospects that actually want what you have to offer. Find out who they are and where they hang out, and deliver your message to them and only them. To test the depth of knowledge you need to have a about your audience, can you answer these questions?
Who is your ideal reader/visitor
What do they look like, talk about, care about, hate, fear, desire
Who do they hang out with, talk to, argue with, ideolise, want to be
Where do they hang out online, in person, want to go, not want to go
What products, brands, personas, do they love and hate
How do they talk, formally, passionately, analytically
What lingo do they use (ie keywords)
Why are they coming to you?
Why should they listen to you instead of everyone else
What problems are they looking to solve
Where to find your audience
Does your audience frequent Facebook or Twitter. Do they love to spend time on Youtube surfing the “How to…” videos in your niche? Would it be more productive to target them via the major search engines such as Google and Bing? If so then you would need to consider Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and getting your site up the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) rankings. If you want to get yourself in front of your audience fast, then Pay Per Click (PPC) might be the way to go. Think very carefully about your acquisition strategy because getting it wrong can cost time, effort and money. To summarise:
Optimise your site to make it search engine friendly,
Use PPC – make sure you know what you’re doing with this method,
Participate in forums,
Get active in Facebook groups,
Network on Facebook and Twitter,
Guest post on blogs in your niche (good for reputation, traffic and SEO),
Attend events and conferences – great off-line method,
Link out to other valuable resources/sites.
Getting yourself a home
Don’t rely on making your main internet home Facebook or Twitter, because although these are great platforms to engage with your audience, relying solely on these could wipe your business out overnight should these platforms decide to change the rules, as many software companies have found to their costs. For instance Shortstack started off providing engaging Facebook competitions until Facebook decided to cut them out and do it for themselves and although Shortstack have evolved away from Facebook to some degree, they recently wrote a blog post detailing their acknowledgement of the mistake of over-reliance on a third party to support their business.
I now use WordPress for all my sites, it’s free to use (except for the hosting of course if you’re using a self hosting option), comes with lots of plugins to add functionality to the site, is loved by Google and is ideal for SEO and has tons of free themes to make it look original. Most of the modern themes are also mobile responsive which is a must these days for both ranking and user experience.
Building relationships – Email Marketing
Provide Great Content
Once you get targeted audience to your website, you need to have something interesting, useful, unique and most of all, helpful for them to read, look at and engage with. Look to help them with some problem they have or to achieve something they want to achieve. Great content should:
Be valuable (don’t waste peoples time)
Be delivered in multiple formats if possible
Be as short as possible but no shorter
Solve problems by providing solutions
Attract an audience
Above all – be results oriented.
To do this you must understand their wants and needs. Use surveys, interact with them via email and find out their pain.
Tips about Content generation
Think about what someone in your niche is going to need to follow in your footsteps. Think about your progression and map this out for your audience if they are trying to replicate you.
Use easy to remember forwarding URLs for certain topics to make them easier for your audience to memorise, these can be purchased as domain names and pointed to any page on your site. Promote this easy to remember URL in your marketing messages.
Use the medium that best suites your site. Look what the competition are using and do it differently and better.
know the product – be a sales agent for it, if you haven’t used it and found it useful don’t try to sell it. Become a resource of information for using that product. Give your audience tips and tricks for getting the best from it. Show the product being used, “un-boxing the product” is a popular type of video content. Ask yourself “Can I trust the product to be good for my audience?”. Become a source of information for that product. “How to….” videos and articles, show you using it for your own purposes, helpful tips and advice, and reviews
know what you want your audience to achieve by using your website what is their goal, then design a road map to help them achieve that goal, show them how using your products will help them get to their goal.
Build deep relationships with your subscribers. The deeper the relationship the shorter the pitch required. Speed up the building of relationships by:
Be personable – easier to connect. Use video and podcasts,
Tell stories and entertain,
Random Acts Of Kindness – reply to comments, give them a special deal, put comments on their blog,
Build trust first:
Give lots away for free, add value without charging. If your seen as a giver people more likely to respond positively,
Get others to recommend you
If you don’t currently use the product yourself, get in contact with the owner of the product and ask some questions about the product and write a post about the conversation.
Get a special deal just for your audience, or give a rebate (using part of your affiliate earnings) back to the purchaser if they go through your affiliate link.
Create an epic post about the product. A ONE Stop shop resource,
Multiple Youtube videos about different aspect of using the product,
Hold a webinar for the product,
Publish a webinar replay – Be sure to record your live webinar so that you can embed it on your website as a replay for those who didn’t watch it live, and those who did watch it live but want to get the information again,
Use an indirect social push – link to a post or a resource that will engage people beforehand about the product or a video about it, not directly to an affiliate link
Keep track of your click through’s – use pretty links or crazy egg,
Indirect email list promotion – For me, I like to indirectly promote on my email list – like I do with social media – it’s all about giving people as much high-value content as possible, and on the email, it’s exactly the same. I don’t directly promote anything on my email list – and if there are any links in my emails they all point back to my blog,
Indirect promotion on other people’s sites,
Be honest and disclose that they are affiliate links,
Thank people in advance for going through your affiliate links,
Review and compare products of the same type,
Focus on how it will help your audience (benefits not features),
Believe in your recommendations,
If it doesn’t work try another offer,
Test, test and test again,
Make your own product instead,
Be patient. Trust is built over time,
Provide a resource page full of all your affiliate products and links,
Offer a bonus
Extra content (i.e. extra skins for a opt-in box)
Discount price, rebates,
Tips and tricks document included,
How to use document included.
Email Sign ups
Encourage visitors to opt-in to your email list so that you can keep in touch with them and continue to help. You need to have an opt-in box on your website to do this. I have them dotted around my site in the sidebar and footer of most of the posts. I encourage you to do the same. Only ever provide great content and assistance, don’t ever spam them with endless sales pitches. We all hate that, don’t we?
You can use what are known in the trade as opt-in bribes to encourage subscriptions. An opt-in bride is something of value that the visitor has to exchange their email address for. This could include:
Tips and tricks information
A white paper
A resource list
In fact anything that adds value, and is perceived as being valuable and relevant to your visitor. If they don’t want it, they won’t sign up. If they do sign up always make it really easy to unsubscribe from your list as a matter of courtesy.
Note: If you sign up for our newsletter, feel free to respond to any of the emails we send you asking for our “Lead Magnet List” which will give you more ideas for what to use as Lead Magnets.
Have something to sell
Ultimately we are looking to build a business from our online endeavours, so we need something to sell. Something that will help our audience, something that gives more in value than it asks for in payment. Think of saving your audience time, effort, money wherever possible. Look to help them make money or solve some problem or pain they want to remove from their lives.
You can look to sell your own products or be an Affiliate and sell other people’s products. There are literally thousands of such products available to sell from physical products, services to digital products and everything in between.
If you’re starting out in online marketing, it is probably wiser to sharpen your marketing skills before investing a great deal of your resources in developing your own products, and Affiliate Marketing is an ideal option. Products can be found via networks such as Clickbank, Commission Junction, Amazon and JVZoo to name but a few.
summary of where to find products to sell
Amazon affiliates / associates but look for high value products,
Odigger.com or offervault.com,
Commission junction you can be an affiliate or sell your product through them,
Think about what you use yourself,
Directly approach the company yourself, ask if they do affiliate program,
Forums and ask for ideas to the likes of web warrior forum and digital point forum,
If you cant find a product make one yourself.
Where to use affiliate links
Put affiliate links in an Ebook
Put affiliate links within content section and as many natural links as possible, without overdoing it. Not everyone will read the full article
Create own advertisements, use text widgets to rotate text links,
Affiliate links in your images.
Keep the conversion going
Keep providing help to your audience, otherwise they will move on and leave you behind. If you’re only looking to service a narrow band of people at a certain stage in their development and don’t intend to offer support for them later, than that’s fine as long as you know how to keep the flow of new recruits coming to your website. Have a plan and work the plan.
To be truly successful in Affiliate Marketing you need to build an audience that keeps coming back to you for more, I’ve heard it described as building a tribe or engaged community, even raving fans – whatever you want to label it, it’s about engaging on a regular basis and building a relationship with them. In order to achieve this you must provide great, unique, valuable, and actionable content that your audience needs and wants. This should be your major focus. Without an audience you can’t hope to build an affiliate business.
If you’re looking at doing it as a sideline, or full time business you will probably want or need to earn money from it by selling something. I prefer to use a method that adds value and genuinely helps people. I love to talk about Marketing and Business so write about it a lot. I have to make a living but have decided to only sell products that are relevant to my audience, I would be proud to have developed myself, and that are of genuine use. If I don’t like it I won’t try to sell it.
If you’re getting into affiliate marketing then pick a niche you are passionate to write about, otherwise you won’t enjoy it and will likely give up if the going is tough. Don’t do it just to make money, do it to help others. The side effect of adding more and more value is you tend to make more and more money.