Looking back over the years of running Words You Want and other online businesses, I find that I always turn to a core set of tools and services to get up and running. First, one of the main benefits of operating an online business to me is that I’m able to maintain a flexible lifestyle. I want to be able to travel to different countries or just visit friends and family a few hours away, so I need to my business to be able to “travel” with me wherever I go. Therefore, I use a variety of apps and services that allow me that flexibility. In this blog, I’m going to talk about some those tools that keep Words You Want running.
WordPress is vital to me. WordPress is so adaptable and adjustable. If you need a particular plug in and can’t find one already created, it’s easy to find a developer who can create it. All of my websites are built with WordPress and the majority of my client’s sites are as well. I build all of my websites on it and I particularly love the Divi theme from Elegant Themes. The Divi theme allows you to create high end websites with an incredibly simple interface. It’s literally drag and drop and offers many features such as slideshows, video, prebuilt landing pages and more.
Online Bookkeeping and Invoicing
Quick communication and moving fast to close deals on projects is vital. I work with clients all over the world, so it’s important that I’m able to send off invoices and schedule projects as quickly as possible. Quickbooks Online allows me to do that and accept credit card payments via Quickbooks GoPayment. Plus, even though you’re sending an online invoice, they are very professional looking. Check out their online invoicing page for more information. Another benefit is that my accountant is able to connect on their side and handle payroll and other tax related items without me having to do hardly anything.
Free Tools from HubSpot
As you can tell from my blog and website, I love HubSpot and follow their inbound marketing strategies. I am HubSpot certified in Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing, so in addition to the awesome courses and certifications they offer, they also offer several free tools.
The HubSpot CRM has been a great way for me to connect with leads and keep track of communication. The sales dashboard allows you to track everything sales related. When someone contacts you via a form on your site, you are able to see the pages that they visited and the page they contact you through. With this information, you already have a bit of insight into the services that this potential client may be interested in. You can set up response templates or send custom emails.
The Marketing dashboard allows you to set up a variety of lead generation forms such as pop up offers integrated on your WordPress site as well as Facebook ads. You can then track your responses and see which pages they viewed and follow up with contacts who have downloaded your offers, etc. Plus, it integrates and tracks every form on your website so you know exactly which page captured leads.
Plus, did I mention this is all free!
In the early days of starting Words You Want, if you weren’t responding to clients as quickly as humanly possible, you were losing projects. I still believe that it’s vital to have quick communication. There is nothing more annoying than emailing or sending a message to someone and not hearing back for hours. The Google Business tools and Gmail has changed the way I am able to communicate with clients. Having used a custom domain for several years, Outlook was always the email program that I used, but when you have a smartphone, tablet, desktop computer and multiple laptops, it was just too easy to lose emails. They wouldn’t sync and I’d have to delete hundreds of emails from devices all the time. Gmail has changed my life. I’m much more efficient now that I am able to sync all of my devices to one account online. It’s a change I should have made years ago.
Dropbox and Google Drive
I use both services because my clients use both services. There’s nothing better than being able to access all of your files from anywhere and any device. It’s vital in my business, as you never know when a client needs a file resent or you’re working on the road and need up to date versions of your documents no matter where you are.
Finally, content is key to the success of any business. It is my mission to stay up to date on the various SEO and marketing strategies and I am always learning more techniques that I can use to help clients. I try to offer a variety of services for my clients to help make creating content for their business easy and convenient. Our monthly SEO packages are adaptable and our quality is consistent. We strive to create long term clients because repeat clients are the best clients!
As a business, your website does many things: it connects with your audience, it presents information, it acts as a virtual announcement board, and more. But all of these duties boil down to selling, and as a selling tool, there are ways that your website could be working for you better.
Capture Leads by Design on Your Website
The first thing that you need to ask yourself is: “Is my website designed to sell and capture leads?” If you can honestly look at your site and say no, you need to make some changes. Capturing leads is all about knowing your target buyer. You’ll need to have your buyer persona very clear in order to know what type of content will draw them in.
Selling is all about providing someone something they need, or getting rid of a problem they don’t need. So, once your buyer persona is set, ask yourself what they need from you, or what solution they need from you, and use that information to create your content. Once you have the leads coming to you, you can start to sell.
Call to Action
One of the most crucial parts of selling on a website is making sure that your customer knows what they need to do to get the solution. If you don’t tell them what action to take, how will they know?
Calls to action may be a direct sales pitch with a big “Buy Here Now” button, but there are many other actions you could want your customers to take. These include signing up for email lists, sharing a post on social media, contacting you, taking a survey, requesting a free consultation, applying for a spot in a webinar, asking your experts a question, and many other things. Know what action you want and use it to engage your customers.
The Information for Free Stuff Exchange
One thing that all business websites should excel at is gathering information. If the most important thing is knowing your buyer persona, you need to know who is visiting your website and what they are doing there. Having forms to fill out along the way helps to capture this information.
But buyers aren’t going to offer up their information for nothing. Offering freebies, such as a free eBook, a free month of your service, a free sample size of your product, and more, can get more customers engaging and helping you with your market research.
The free item that you are offering is often called an attractor, and this is a very important part of your landing page. Your attractor could be anything from a free webinar to a discount on a product – whatever it is, it works to keep people on your page because it gives them something they want or need in exchange for nothing, or very inconsequential information. When you choose what your attractor should be, remember that you want to attract buyers, not just people. What’s going to leave them wanting more?
Remember the Marketing Cycle
Don’t forget that buyers need more than just a sales pitch to be convinced to purchase something. First they need to have their attention diverted. Then you need to earn their interest. Then they need to desire the product or service, and finally you need to convince them to take action. Your website should cater to all four of these stages of the cycle. Great headlines attract attention. Amazing content builds interest. Highlighting the benefits of your product or service creates desire. And an amazing call to action is what leads to action.
Use these steps to turn your website into a selling tool, both to grow your business and to offer your customers the solutions they need.
It’s a rarely discussed factor in online marketing, but the frequency of your message is one of the most important things you could be overlooking. Your target audience doesn’t get convinced to buy, sign up, or engage the first time they see an advertisement. In fact, it’s unlikely that conversion will happen at the second advertisement, or even the third. In 1885, Thomas Smith postulated that it takes a full 20 times before an advertisement earns sales – and that was well before the current culture of content overload.
The frequency of your message matters across a variety of platforms. Your audience has to know you are there in order to interact with you, and there’s no way you’ll climb above the competition without that.
Frequency of Social Posts
From social media to your blog, frequency is the number one reason that these platforms fail. A business with a dusty blog or a Twitter account that never updates may as well not even have these accounts. In fact, a study by HubSpot showed that blogs with more than 16 posts per month get more than three and a half times the amount of traffic, compared to blogs that publish fewer than four posts a month.
Why is this so important? Blogs and social media are platforms where your audience has to work to seek you out. If they put in the effort to find you, chances are they want something – entertainment, information, insider sneak peeks, etc. By offering them plenty of content that is always updated, you show them that their effort is worth it, and they are more likely to stick around.
Frequency of Emails and Newsletters
While social posts may be about proving your content is worthwhile, content that you send directly to your audience must be repeated frequently in order to imbue your message with a sense of authority due to familiarity. That’s a hefty idea, so let’s break it down: You want your message to be convincing. In order to do that, your audience needs to believe that the message is coming from a source that knows what it’s talking about. And in order to do that, you need to become familiar, because people trust what they know.
The idea, once broken down, isn’t so difficult, but the execution can get tricky. In today’s marketing world, it’s believed that anywhere from three to 20 repetitions of one message are necessary to create conversions. Your target audience will have its own unique patterns that you’ll have to learn before you understand how frequent your message must be.
Frequency Outside the Internet
Finally, there is the idea of frequency outside of the Internet. Direct mailers, TV advertisements, radio jingles, billboards, and other types of advertising still have a place. Can you sing the Frosted Flakes jingle, complete with a Tony the Tiger voice saying “They’re great!” at the end? Of course you can, because you’ve heard the jingle thousands of times from the TV and radio.
This type of familiarity is what makes customers more likely to choose your product by default. When someone heads to the store to buy cereal, they are more likely to absentmindedly choose Frosted Flakes because it’s familiar – and the human brain craves what it knows.
What it all boils down to is that you must put yourself out there multiple times to get the sale. Human psychology favors what it knows, so becoming a familiar name and face in an industry will earn you the sales and conversion rates that you are looking for.
Like many other features of a business website, forms have a variety of purposes that can be vital for your marketing strategy. Many businesses don’t use forms at all, or under-use them, out of fear that they appear intrusive. But using forms correctly can help you interact and engage with your customers in a way that makes them feel as if they chose to have that interaction – this feeling of consent is very important for conversions. Here’s how to use forms to capture qualified leads and start turning readers into buyers.
Connect Forms to Your Funnel
When developing your form strategy, it is best to connect the form to each stage of your funnel. For example, the very beginning of your funnel is simply to attract attention. The content you offer here, such as advice on your blog, should be free and accessible to anyone without giving up any information. But once you move on to the second part of your funnel, where you are offering more valuable content or solutions to serious leads, it’s time to start asking for things such as their name and email address.
This should always be presented as something that is intended to help the reader. For example, asking for an email address so you can send a free eBook. The farther along your customer goes in the funnel, the more information you should be collecting. This helps you understand your target audience very well – you’ll not only know exactly who makes it all the way through the funnel, but you’ll also know what type of buyer is more likely to bail out of the purchasing process, and at what step.
Placement of Your Form
If you truly want visitors to fill out a form, don’t hide it at the bottom of a page. It’s tempting to make it appear as though you are interested in giving them content first, but the truth is that about 38% of readers never scroll down on a blog page, according to a study performed by Slate. Keep your form high enough so that readers can see it “above the fold”, and draw attention to the form with big, colorful buttons. The call to action should be very clear – readers should always know exactly what they’ll get out of filling out the form, and exactly what you’ll be doing with their information.
Always Be Testing
If you choose to include forms in your website marketing strategy, you should always be tweaking and testing your forms. Be sure to check that your forms work on mobile devices, especially if your forms were included in an email. Nearly 50% of all emails are opened on a mobile device these days, and if your form isn’t mobile compatible, you can bet that your readers won’t come back to fill it out.
You should also run A/B tests to determine what type of form, what placement, and what call to action, earns the most conversion rates. Test the length of the form, the order of the questions, the graphic design, and any other features – but be sure to test just one at a time.
Follow Up with Forms
If your form collects contact information for your readers, be sure you are following up within a day to avoid a lead going cold. And be absolutely sure that filling out a form results in the speedy delivery of the promised attractor. By giving you their contact information, a reader is entering a contract with you that acts as a “lite” version of a sale. If you don’t follow through here, they won’t trust you enough to buy your product or service.
With something as important to your online marketing efforts as a blog, there are always two sides of the coin. First, there’s the benefit that a blog can offer: getting you attention, getting your message to the right ears, earning you the reputation as an industry guru that you need for more conversions. However, blogs can also have a negative side: costing you money, wasting your time, and keeping your online strategy stuck in old tactics.
Is Your Blog Costing You Time and Money?
When a blog is spending too much time on the negative flipside of that coin, we refer to it as being constipated. Your blog is backed up, stuck in a mode that isn’t doing you or your audience any favors. One of the first signs of content constipation? Your blog is costing you too much time and too much money, for too little return.
The return that you’re aiming for with a blog is reads. The more reads you get, the more your time and money was worth it. If you aren’t meeting your goals in this area, you need to reconsider how much effort you’re putting into a blog, or change your tactics to meet your goals better.
Too Much Effort Is a Problem
One of the biggest reasons that a blog doesn’t get read is due to the fact that the content isn’t coming fast enough. Good content is always the goal, but frequency matters! If your blog is constipated, readers will soon move on and never look back. Here are a few common mistakes when creating blog posts:
- You’re trying to make every blog a New York Times bestselling novel. That’s not what a blog is meant to be. This isn’t the place to drive home an emotional theme through hours of content. With more than 40% of all readers skimming blog posts as it is, you need to keep it short and sweet.
- You have every member of your staff edit content or add ideas. All this does it take up everyone’s time when they could be doing other things for your company. Agree on a content strategy and then delegate the execution. Even more efficient and effective, hire someone to manage your blog for you!
- You’re overthinking the strategy. Blog posts have a very simple purpose: to generate interest. In other words, they exist to sell your product or service. You can do that in many ways, such as through education or entertainment, but don’t lose sight of the very simple base goal.
Stop Getting in Your Own Way
The truth is that blog constipation all comes down to the way you are using your blog. Not getting the readership you want? You are likely not churning out enough quality information in a way that connects with your readers’ expectations. Remember: blog posts are supposed to be two things, interesting and fast.
One easy way to unlock your blog’s potential is to get out of your own way by outsourcing the content production. Once you have your content strategy nailed down, you can communicate that to a third party writing service and simply manage the results. This frees up your time, and makes it easier to keep the blog on track with the strategy – without your personal connection to your industry and product, a third party writer will simply follow the strategy and not get bogged down with distractions.
Additionally, because content production is all a third party writing service does, you can ensure that your blog will always be frequently updated with brand new material, and you won’t have to worry about producing it yourself. That’s a huge load off your mind and a great way to keep your blog moving forward.