5 ways to monetize your social media followings

Columnist Jordan Kasteler shares five ways to turn your social media presence into a way to generate revenue — even if you don’t have a massive following on Facebook or Twitter.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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Your No-Nonsense Guide to Getting Started with Social Media Ads

"It’s like riding a motorcycle — honing your skills takes time and practice." – Loryn Thompson

The first time I rode a motorcycle, I fell in love. Between the power, the speed, and the freedom, I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing for a long time. But I also knew I had a lot to learn.

Learning to ride a motorcycle requires several new skills. You have to learn how to maneuver and balance a heavy, two-wheeled vehicle, how to change gears, how to let the clutch out smoothly and at the right time, and how to work the hand and foot brakes.

And that’s before you leave the parking lot.

Learning to advertise on social media is a similar experience: there’s a lot to be excited about, but all the options, features, and adjustments can leave you dazed.

Start with the fundamentals

After that first ride, I spent a couple months brooding. I knew I wanted to ride, but I didn’t feel ready for a full-sized motorcycle.

Then, one day, I decided to check out the local Vespa dealership, just to see … A week later, I bought myself a scooter.

On my scooter, I learned the fundamentals of riding — how to balance, how to maneuver on two wheels, and how to stay safe on the road — without having to worry about the full weight of a motorcycle or shifting gears.

By the time I bought my first full-sized bike a year later, all I needed was 45 minutes in a parking lot and I was ready to roll.

If you’ve always wanted to try social media advertising, but found it overwhelming, I’m here to hand you the keys to your scooter.

How ads help new prospects discover your content

“But they already like my page! Why should I have to pay for them to see my content?”

Yes, it was a bit crummy of Facebook to give brands amazing organic reach and then take it away. But they have a business to run, just like you.

I, for one, welcome our benevolent-ish (read: self-interested) paid social overlords. In fact, I would still recommend you use social media ads, even if the reach of “organic posts” never changed. Why?

Because social media ads are great for content discovery. They help your content reach new, targeted audiences rather than people who already know and like your brand.

And, how much do you even know about people who like your page?

For example, if you’re running a promotion with Facebook ads, you want to reach people who have recently considered buying your product, and are therefore most likely to buy — not necessarily an existing, longtime customer.

With organic content, you communicate with existing fans. With ads, you can seamlessly reach new prospects when they are most likely to convert. Your tweet isn’t going to do that!

So, ready to get rolling?

Let’s start with five foundations that produce powerful social media advertising campaigns.

1. Set up tracking on your website

After you open your ads account, the first thing you should do is set up website tracking, which sends your website visitors’ information back to the ads platform.

On Facebook, you’ll get a “pixel.” On Twitter and Pinterest, you’ll get a “tag,” but it’s all the same thing: a snippet of code to pop in the header on every page of your site.

If you use the Rainmaker Platform, StudioPress Sites, or just about any site builder, there should be a “header scripts” box where you can paste in this code so it’s automatically output on all your pages. Otherwise, you will need to work with your developer to make sure the code is deployed properly.

Even if you’re not going to run ads for a while, you should still do this now.

The ads platforms will start building your website audiences as soon as you set up tracking. Doing this early will ensure that, when you do start running ads, you will have as many people as possible to retarget.

Also, set up tracking for your primary conversions (sales, subscriptions, email list opt-ins, free ebook downloads — basically any transaction with a “thank you” page) inside each platform, so you have that data available when you’re ready.

2. Define your strategy

It’s tempting to get into the weeds with social media ads, but just like with most marketing channels, a smart strategy will have a bigger impact than any number of tiny, detailed tweaks.

A good, basic ads strategy includes the following elements:

  • Goal: What are you trying to do?
  • Audience: Who do you want to do it?
  • Tactics: How are they going to do it?

And you don’t have to start from scratch. In fact, it’s probably better not to start from scratch.

This is the time to bring out your best resources and let them shine.

An approach we’ve come to rely on at Rainmaker Digital goes something like this:

  • Promote (to a new, targeted audience) solid, persuasive content that leads readers to a product.
  • Retarget people who have read that content with an offer for that product.

Yep, it’s that simple. By priming people with persuasive content — good, persuasive content, that has inherent value and builds trust — you create a specialty retargeting audience, ready to hear your offer.

As for the “new” audience, I recommend starting with a lookalike audience on Facebook — either based on people who purchased your product or people on an email list. It’s a great way to use the power of Facebook ads without getting too complicated.

3. Develop the ad creative

If you’re using your existing content, you should already be well on your way to a solid campaign. But whether or not you’re starting from scratch, here are a few pointers for developing ad creative that converts:

  • Know the placements. Without worrying about anything fancy, just make sure your creative makes sense for each placement you use. For example, Facebook’s “Right Column” ads are much smaller and shorter than their typical “Feeds” ads, so the same creative might not work for both.
  • Be as direct as possible. Write clearly and succinctly in your ads — don’t hype them up with flowery copy. Think of ad copy as a type of headline. The goal is to grab your readers’ attention and get them to click.
  • Stand out from the feed. Images with color, faces, expression, and action tend to perform better. Video is great, too. Remember, grab their attention.
  • Forget “perfect.” Don’t stress too much about getting the best image or the most polished video. I’ve seen examples where iPhone photos performed better than their polished counterparts, just because they stood out.

4. Launch … and monitor

Take a deep breath, double-check your links and budget, and just go for it! The longer you agonize over your ads, the less time you spend learning what works.

If you get overwhelmed by all the settings, just use the defaults. Remember, Facebook and Twitter want your ads to do well so you’ll spend more money with them. There will be plenty of time for you to tweak and test as you go.

While the ads run, check in on them regularly. If some ads spend a lot but don’t convert, stop them and work on new variations to replace them. Maybe you optimize the text. Maybe you change the audience.

Whatever you do, take your time, and don’t lose sight of your goal.

5. Measure

Speaking of goals, it’s easy to get bogged down in all the metrics these platforms provide.

In all frankness … most of them are not very useful. If your campaign is doing its job — i.e., if it’s accomplishing your goal at a reasonable cost to you — then it’s a success. Period.

Other metrics, such as click-through rate or reach, are useful in diagnosing problems with your campaign, but they mean jack squat if your campaign isn’t doing what you need it to do. Keep your eye on the ball.

Aim for results over time

Overall, yes, social media ads can be a lot to swallow. But don’t feel that you have to succeed right away, and don’t get discouraged if your ads take a while to show results.

It’s like riding a motorcycle — honing your skills takes time and practice.

The technology of social media ads is new, but the strategy is exactly what you’ve known all along. You’ve got this.

The post Your No-Nonsense Guide to Getting Started with Social Media Ads appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Separate marketing technology fact from fiction at MarTech Conference in 2 weeks

We’re two weeks away from the MarTech Conference in San Francisco, May 9-11 — the world’s largest independent marketing technology conference designed for senior-level marketers and technologists. I stress the the word independent because unlike most of the big marketing events these…

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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The Four Statistical Concepts Every Online Marketer Should Know

Analytics is a big part of online marketing and therefore, it’s essential to have a good understanding of how to interpret numbers.

In this post, I’m going to present four statistical concepts I believe will be valuable to anyone working in online marketing.

Statistics: A Sexy Skill

To some people, statistics may sound like a boring topic, but to others, it may very well be one of the most attractive skills. Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, even calls it sexy:

I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians. People think I’m joking, but who would’ve guessed that computer engineers would’ve been the sexy job of the 1990s? The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades […]

The first three abilities mentioned by Hal Varian are all reflected in the quality of your work. That is the ability to understand, process and extract value from data.

And the last two – that is the ability to visualize and communicate data – are reflected in your relationships with clients or your boss. Good work is worth nothing if you can’t communicate it to your clients.

In LinkedIn’s yearly summary of the hottest skills you will also find statistics in the top:

Data isn’t going anywhere. Our top skill category last year, statistical analysis and data mining, is still sitting comfortably at #2. It is the only skill category that is consistently ranked in the top 4 across all of the countries we analyzed. We still live in an increasingly data-driven world, and businesses are still aggressively hiring experts in data storage, retrieval and analysis.

So let’s take a look at some of the statistical concepts online marketers should know.

1. The Pareto Principle

You have probably already heard about the Pareto principle. You may know it as the 80/20 rule as it states, according to Wikipedia, that “for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.”

The principle is named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who found that 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas and 80% of Italy’s land was owned by 20% of the population.

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The Pareto principle occurs frequently, and by knowing this, you will be able to take advantage of it. If you can figure out which 20% of your time produces 80% of your business’ results, you can spend more time on those activities and less time on others.

pareto-principle-80-20

Do you need to restructure an AdWords account but don’t have the time for a complete makeover? You can start by identifying the 20% keywords currently bringing the most sales and start from there.

Or maybe you need to increase conversion rates by optimizing the landing pages on a website with hundreds of landing pages? Again, you will probably find that around 20% of the landing pages are generating 80% of the conversions. So why not start there?

The Pareto principle is a simple heuristic that is often useful in online marketing.

2. The Law of Large Numbers

The law of large numbers tells us that if you repeat a random experiment often enough, the average of the outcomes will converge towards the expected value.

Take a series of coin tosses for example. Heads and tails have equal odds so you would expect each side to come up half the time. But if you were to toss the coin 10 times I bet you wouldn’t be too confident that each side would come up exactly 5 times. You can easily imagine scenarios where heads would come up six or seven times instead of five. Actually, it wouldn’t be too hard to imagine getting even eight heads out of ten tosses (there is more than a 4% chance of this happening).

Now, what if we changed the number of tosses from 10 to 1,000? Would this change anything? According to the law of large numbers, it should.

With ten tosses the thought of getting 80% heads wasn’t unheard of. But can you imagine tossing a coin 1,000 times and getting 800 heads? I doubt it. And rightly so. The chance of this happening is so small I would need 86 zeroes to type it out. With 1,000 tosses you would expect something closer to an equal amount of heads and tails than with 10 tosses.

So our coin-tossing example illustrates quite well what the law of large numbers tells us: The more we repeat a random experiment, the more will the outcomes converge towards the expected value.

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In his superb book Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman tells the story of a large investment by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Some researchers had tried to identify the most successful schools in the hope of discovering what distinguishes them from others.

One of the conclusions was that the most successful schools, on average, were small. And it’s not difficult to come up with possible explanations for this. Maybe smaller schools can give more personal attention and encouragement than larger schools.

small-big-schools

Because of this, the Gates Foundation invested in the creation of smaller schools, even splitting large schools into smaller ones.

The problem is it’s wrong. As Kahneman writes:

If the statisticians who reported to the Gates Foundation had asked about the characteristics of the worst schools, they would have found that bad schools also tend to be smaller than average. The truth is that small schools are not better on average; they are simply more variable.

Just like a small number of coin tosses are more variable than a larger number, a small school is also more variable than a large school.

How is this relevant in online marketing?

Let’s say you want to investigate which cities have the lowest conversion rate on your website. You might go to the Geo report in Google Analytics and sort by conversion rate in ascending order. And there you have it. The 10 cities with the lowest conversion rate. You might very well reach a conclusion similar to the statisticians reporting to the Gates Foundation: the low converting cities are all rather small.

But before initiating a big national campaign to increase brand awareness in small cities, you should take a look at the cities at the other end of the table. These high converting cities are probably also small. So perhaps the small cities are not worse or better than larger cities. They are probably just more variable due to fewer visitors.

The same applies to A/B tests and this is why you need a certain amount of data before you can rely on the results from an A/B test and call it statistical significant.

So what are we to do about it?

We should not make too hasty generalizations. The fallacy of making an assumption based on a small sample group is sometimes called the law of small numbers.

In cases like this where you are trying to identify the characteristics of the best or the worst of something, it would be wise to always check the other end of the spectrum. Sometimes you will find that the top and bottom share the same characteristics.

Let me show a final example. The graph below shows the value per session for every hour of the day. At first, it may seem like some of the nighttime hours are the most valuable hours of the day. But instead of just rushing to a conclusion we should consider the least valuable hours of the day. It appears that they are also at night.

per-session-value-google-analytics

Is there some reason why the data for the nighttime hours should be more variable than the rest of the day?

As the graph below shows, we only get a very small amount of traffic at night. This is just like the schools. One hour at night is like one small school. It could be really good (like 1, 4 and 6 in the morning) or really bad (like 2, 3 and 5 in the morning). But the difference might as well be due to randomness.

per-session-value-sessions

The law of large numbers tells us to put more trust in the value of the hours with many sessions than in the hours with only a few sessions.

3. Relative and Absolute Numbers

Imagine reading about a new drug that reduces the risk of getting a dangerous disease by 25%. At first, this might sound very promising but does it really tell us what the real benefit of taking the new drug is?

Let’s assume 20 in 1,000 people get the disease without the drug. By taking the drug, this number is reduced to 15 in 1,000 people. While this is indeed a 25% relative drop, we should also consider the absolute reduction.

In absolute numbers, the new drug has only reduced the number of people getting the disease from 20 in 1,000 to 15 in 1,000 people. So while it’s true that 25% fewer people get the disease, it’s also true that the actual risk of getting the disease is only 0.5 percentage points lower (reduced from 2.0% to 1.5%). Depending on potential side effects the new drug may not sound as promising anymore.

There is one important distinction to be made here. Percentage change must not be confused with a change in percentage points.

How is this relevant in online marketing?

If someone told you that the conversion rate of your website had been reduced by 2% you need to be sure what is implied by this number. Your reaction should be considerably different if the person meant to say the conversion rate has been reduced from 4% to 2% (a drop of 2 percentage points) than if it was just a reduction from 4% to 3.92% (a 2 percentage drop).

2-percentage-points-2-percentage-drop

When talking about changes we need to make sure everyone knows what the numbers mean. Are we talking about the relative or absolute numbers? Are we using percentages or percentage points?

We also need to be especially wary of relative numbers when the starting point is a very small number. If your AdWords campaign is generating 50% fewer conversions, you won’t panic if it is just a drop from 2 conversions to 1. But if it’s a drop from 2,000 to 1,000 conversions then you might consider panicking. A drop of 1 conversion is probably just a random fluctuation while a drop of 1,000 conversions might be caused by a serious issue.

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In the example above you can see exactly how percentages will mislead when the absolute numbers are low. While the goal completions is down by 50 percent and the conversion rate is down by 63 percent, the actual change in goals completed is just 1. Not exactly something that would make you panic.

It just shows how percentages can be misleading when the absolute numbers are omitted.

4. Simpson’s Paradox

Simpson’s paradox, as stated on Wikipedia, is the name of a paradox “in which a trend appears in different groups of data but disappears or reverses when these groups are combined.”

A textbook example of the Simpson’s paradox is the study of the 1973 admission figures for the University of California, Berkeley. The numbers showed that men applying were more likely than women to be admitted. 44% of all the men who applied got admitted while only 35% of women did.

men-women-applicants-admitted

The paradox arises when examining the individual departments since it appears that no department was significantly biased against women. As shown below, four of the six departments actually had a small bias in favor of women.

men-women-departments-admitted

If you take a closer look at the number of applicants in the six departments, you will see that women tended to apply to generally competitive departments with low rates of admission (C, D, E, and F) while the majority of men applied to department A and B which have the highest admittance rate for both sexes.

So while the rate of women accepted is higher in 4 of the 6 departments, the total rate of admissions was higher for men because more men applied to departments with high rates of admission.

How is this relevant in online marketing you might ask?

Say you want to compare the performance of two landing pages on your website. Looking at the conversion rates you conclude that page A is better than page B since page A has a conversion rate of 4.39% compared to only 3.49% of page B.

landing-page-visits-conversions-rate

But look what happens if we segment the two landing pages by the traffic sources:

traffic-sources-conversion-rate

Now we see that even though page A has a higher total conversion rate, page B is actually doing better for every individual traffic source. Page A is not better; it just happens to get a lot more of its traffic from the high converting traffic sources than page B does. This is Simpson’s paradox – just like the example with college admission figures.

So what are we to do about it?

First of all, we should make sure to run properly randomized trials. If the numbers above were from an actual split-test of two landing pages, it would clearly be flawed since the traffic sources are skewed that much.

Apart from that, we should remember to always segment our data. As Avinash Kaushik wrote in a blog post: “There is no KPI so insightful all by itself, even in a trend or against a forecast, that it can’t be made more impactful by applying segmentation.”

Conclusion

I hope you have found the four statistical concepts interesting and hopefully learned something new to help you in your work.

Knowledge of statistics will only get more important in online marketing, and by educating yourself, you can make sure to stay ahead in a world where we are getting access to more and more interesting data.

As Hal Varian said, the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians! And with the combination of statistical skills and online marketing you will possess some of the most attractive skills at the moment.

About the Author: Frederik Hyldig is the Head of PPC at s360 – one of the leading digital agencies in Scandinavia. Frederik has been featured on PPC Hero, Wordstream, Moz and other leading search marketing blogs.


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The Three Key Elements of Influential Digital Marketing

"True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody." – Brian Clark

Ever see a numbered headline like the one above and try to guess what the three things are?

Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not. In this case, you could be thinking I’m going to talk about content, copy, and email.

And while you’re right that those things are important, that’s not what this article is about.

Content and copy contain the messages you need to get across, and email delivers those messages within a conversion-rich context. But without understanding the fundamental elements of those messages, you won’t create the kind of influence with your target audience that leads to sales.

With companies of all sizes rushing to embrace “influencer marketing,” it seems that many have given up on the unique power the internet provides to form direct relationships with prospects.

Instead, they’re trying to avoid the work by reaching the audiences of people who have already put in the work.

Despite the disintermediated nature of the internet, brands are instead turning to a new form of intermediary, or influential middle man. Shortcut marketing rears its ugly head again.

Now, don’t get me wrong — having relevant influencers in your corner is desirable, and often game-changing. That said, your main goal is to first develop direct influence with your prospects, which ironically makes it easier to get outside influencers on your side.

This is the reality of modern marketing in any medium, and it’s especially viable online. And those three key elements that your digital marketing must embrace to develop true influence are aspiration, empowerment, and unity.

1. Aspiration

Effective marketing has always been about identifying and fulfilling aspirations. People strive to improve themselves and their station in life, especially in relation to others in the social strata.

Early mass marketing did a great job of channeling aspiration through envy. Messages encouraging consumers to “keep up with the Joneses” through the accumulation of material goods became the persuasion prompt for elevated social status.

Aspiration remains as powerful as ever, but it’s a different animal now. First of all, we no longer compare ourselves to our geographic neighbors. Instead, we now have worldwide Instagram-fueled expectations based on who we desire to be like based on interests, lifestyles, and various forms of success.

As master marketer Roy H. Williams presciently said:

“Show me what a person admires, and I’ll tell you everything about them that matters. And then you’ll know how to connect with them.”

Paired with that is a pronounced reduction in the desire to accumulate material things. According to a recent Trend Watch report on consumerism, status is shifting away from markers of material wealth — what they have — and moving more toward who they want to become.

This shift is amplified by celebrities and other influential people on social media. Their followers want to be healthier, smarter, creative, connected, and entrepreneurial. If you’re selling material goods, you need to understand how your widget fits into the broader aspirational lifestyle of your target audience.

This alone seems to justify the focus on outside influencer marketing, but it’s really just a way of abdicating your responsibility as the shepherd of your products and services. As Eugene Schwartz famously said decades ago:

“You do not create desire for your product. You take an existing demand in the market, and you channel it into your products.”

The desires and aspirations of your ideal customer are out there — in plain view — thanks to a social medium that publicly identifies who people admire and follow. It’s your job to discover the parameters of that aspiration, and channel it toward your product or service.

2. Empowerment

If you know what a prospect aspires to become, then your product or service and your marketing must empower that person to become a better version of themselves. If you fail across that spectrum, you’ll lose out to a competitor who delivers.

The 20th century was fueled by inadequacy marketing that encouraged material accumulation. Without access to alternative perspectives, people were targeted by marketers with messages that positioned the brand as the hero, promising to save the poor prospect from the anxiety manufactured by the message.

If your neighbor had a new Buick, you were now made to feel lesser in terms of social status. Why not upgrade to a Cadillac and take the lead?

Effective modern marketing flips that approach on its head. Rather than appealing to materialism or base self-interest, people are looking for positive inspiration and pragmatic guidance on how to become their best selves.

Pair that with the fact that the internet in general (and social media in particular) have helped erode trust in traditional institutions, while shifting power to engaging individuals. The appeal of attracting influencers with strong personal brands reflects this trend — people want to be empowered by other people, not faceless corporations.

Why not also put a human face on your own company? Again, what’s going to get an influencer excited about pimping your stuff, if your brand is uninspired to begin with?

This can be as easy as flipping your perceived role as a marketer. Whether you want to think of yourself as a guide, mentor, or coach, it’s your job to empower the buyer’s otherwise self-directed journey.

In an environment ripe with information and choices, the prospect is in charge. And while they may not look like a hero yet, they’re definitely the protagonist of their own story.

That means they’ll follow and choose to do business with the brand that empowers them to achieve their heroic aspirations. Outside influencers can help, but only as long as you’re also developing direct influence within your market in a meaningful way that establishes that you’re a player.

3. Unity

For decades, smart marketing and sales professionals have worked to incorporate the six fundamentals of influence established by social psychology studies — reciprocity, authority, social proof, liking, commitment and consistency, and scarcity — into their persuasion efforts.

So it was definitely news when Dr. Robert Cialdini, the original definer of those fundamentals, added a seventh — unity.

In reality, it actually wasn’t that much of a surprise. Books such as 2004’s The Culting of Brands by Douglas Atkin, and Seth Godin’s Tribes from 2008, provided earlier reflections on the power of unity influence. Meanwhile, companies such as Apple and Harley Davidson have used the power of belonging to build brands worth billions.

Smart digital marketers knew what was up, but we simply tried to shoehorn the concept into the existing influence principle of liking. That means people are more readily influenced by people they like and otherwise find attractive.

But unity goes way beyond simple liking. From the prospect’s perspective, it’s more about people like me or even of me.

According to the same Trend Watch report, people now trust people like themselves more than representatives of traditional power centers, and as much as academic or technical experts. To me, that makes unity perhaps the most powerful of the (now) seven fundamental principles of influence.

Take authority. It’s no longer enough to just demonstrate your expertise with content. You need to be the relatable authority that also shares the core values and worldviews of your prospects.

Or consider social proof, which means we look to others for indications of value and how to behave. A Breitbart article may get tens of thousands of social shares, and yet that social proof is meaningless — and actually a negative — to those who do not share the values and worldviews of that crowd.

There are a lot of tribal ways that we unify. Family, neighborhood, city, province, and nationality are obvious. But the more powerful forces of unification from a marketing standpoint are interest, aspiration, and empowerment. You need to lead people with similar aspirations in a way that brings them together even more.

Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier for anyone to locate like-minded people who share their interests and aspirations. And as Godin pointed out repeatedly in Tribes, they’re also looking for like-minded leaders to provide the empowerment.

Stand for something that matters

It’s impossible to practice empowerment marketing with wishy-washy content and copy. To the contrary, it’s bold positioning, motivating manifestos, and innovative mission statements that inspire people to confidently chase their aspirations. And it’s no coincidence that these are the same sort of messages that spread like wildfire through social media.

Empowering content that matches aspirations and validates worldviews is what those coveted influencers use to build audiences. You must do the same to remain in the game.

Traditional wisdom says to hide behind a carefully crafted brand, powered by safely sanitized messages, in the hope of appealing to everyone. But if a prospect can’t see themselves belonging with your brand, they’ll look — and find — someone who does make them feel like they belong by standing for something that matters to them.

True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody.

The post The Three Key Elements of Influential Digital Marketing appeared first on Copyblogger.


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