The 4 Ps of SEO & digital marketing

Great SEO does not exist in a bubble, but is part of a broader marketing framework. Columnist Marcus Miller explains how an awareness and understanding of this framework can improve SEO performance.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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Affiliate is more than a platform

Columnist Adam Weiss says an affiliate program should be more than just the platform behind it. You need to have a solid team that has access to scalable technology and data that can deliver cross-channel insights.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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Before Your Next Product Launch, Try These 5 Engagement Strategies

The big day is approaching!

Yes, you’re about to launch your first (or maybe fifth) product. You want the experience to be perfect for your audience.

What your team does before the launch is just as important as what you do on launch day. And it all starts with early engagement—spreading your message as soon as possible to pique people’s interests and encourage sales.

“One of the best ways to get people to care is to get them invested early on. One example would be to call up a colleague, and ask them what they think of your idea while you’re still building the product,” states Scott Bolinger, co-founder of AppPresser.

Don’t wait a minute longer. Check out these five pre-launch engagement strategies.

1. Define Key Metrics Before Launching

It’s difficult to know if your product launch is a success if you’re not keeping track of the data. That’s why it’s important to decide key metrics and set benchmarks for your engagement strategies.

First, determine the goal for your product launch. Some SaaS companies may want a certain number of new trial users. For an ecommerce business, you may desire an increase in sales for a particular product.

The objective of the product launch serves as a guidepost for your pre-launch engagement strategies. It will keep you focused once the launch initiatives begin. Let’s say your goal is to get 10% of current customers to buy your new product. Then, it wouldn’t be helpful if your team started engaging only new customers.

Next, select your channels of engagement. Are you targeting prospects on Facebook? Will you be connecting with customers via email? You need to know where your engagement begins and ends.

After selecting your channel, you can establish key metrics that satisfy your goal. That may include the number of email subscribers who sign up for pre-launch updates or unique visits to a specific landing page.

If your pre-launch plan doesn’t include metrics, your plan is misguided. Start talking with your team now before you do anything else.

2. Create Meaningful Content

Engagement centers around the conversations between your audience and brand. Content helps facilitate those conversations by sparking people’s interests.

During the pre-launch phase, you’ll notice lots of companies creating content solely about the product. They will boast about the features, highlight the process, and mention the price.

Great, right? Well, not always.

With so much content in the marketplace, it’s easy for your product messaging to get skipped over. Your potential customer is accustomed to the generic sales material.

Instead, develop content that resonates with the potential customer. This method involves emphasizing customer benefits and spotlighting success stories.

User onboarding platform Appcues recommends a five variable framework for planning product launch content. Mapping out each component helps your team maximize content effectiveness.

Image Source

It’s also important to note that producing meaningful content isn’t easy. Don’t expect (or try) to create all your pre-launch messaging in a week with one team member. You’ll end up creating subpar work that won’t excite your customers.

“Honestly, creating an impactful product explainer video takes money and time. Make sure you have both before getting started. A rush job on the cheap will never end well,” says Kyle Christensen, VP of Product Marketing at Invoca.

Engage your audience with purposeful content. You’ll hold their attention longer.

3. Build Targeted Email Campaigns

If content is the conversation starter, then email keeps the lines of communication open. A well-planned email campaign builds the excitement as the launch day approaches.

Can we address the big email myth first?

It’s the myth that email is somehow dead. Because it isn’t.

Email is one of the most effective (and efficient) ways to talk directly to your online audience.

What is dead is how we use email. Your business shouldn’t send mass emails to your entire list or deliver sales-only messages.

The best email approach requires targeting the right content to a specific segment. Every message should be relevant to the subscriber.

To ensure relevancy, you can send emails based on the subscriber’s behavior. Deliver a follow-up message after sending a pre-sale product offer.

Or send a personalized series of emails to current customers who’ve logged into your SaaS platform within the last four weeks. With Kissmetrics Campaigns, you can send these types of automated emails to boost engagement.

Recently, FollowUp.cc, a relationship management software for Gmail, sent me an email about its upcoming product launch. It’s targeted based on my previous interaction with the company. It included a 35% discount, too!

targeted product launch email

Are you targeting your email campaigns to specific groups? Experiment with different audience segments and messages for a successful product launch.

4. Prepare Your Sales and Customer Support Teams

As pre-launch engagement strengthens, you’ll want to prepare your team for the onslaught of inquiries from your prospects and customers.

This strategy is often forgotten by companies. They build anticipation and get people eager about the product. Then, their teams miss the opportunity to deliver on their brand promise with long wait times and vague product information.

Rather, you want to provide a consistent experience before, during, and after the launch. Equip your sales and customer support teams with the tools to answer questions succinctly, resolve issues quickly, and clinch the sale.

“When users sign up to your service, they come with a certain expectations regarding the quality of your onboarding process. They expect your onboarding flow to be similar to other products they’ve used before,” writes Sami Linnanvuo, founder & CEO of Screenful.

Preparation to engage your audience varies from team to team. A few essential tools may include case studies, sales scripts, competitor comparisons, and product slide decks. However, nothing replaces a winning personality from a careful listener.

You want to exceed the high expectations of your audience. Properly train your teams for the product launch.

5. Connect with Brand Ambassadors

Product launch activities aren’t limited to your internal team. For more engagement, you want to explore your options with brand ambassadors.

Remember, a brand ambassador is someone who can represent your company well and talk intelligently about your products. These individuals range from a five-year customer in an advocacy program to a paid influencer.

If your business takes the influencer route, you want to carefully outline your expectations for your product launch. Communicate the project objectives, engagement metrics, and compensation.

If more pre-sales is your goal, another option is to develop an affiliate program. You’ll give your affiliates a commission for referring paying customers.

You’ll want to lay out what products qualify, the tracking system, and the payment details. Here’s an example of an affiliate program from help desk software LiveAgent:

affiliate program

When working with brand ambassadors, your team is building external partnerships. You want every partner in the relationship to benefit. So, speak with your brand ambassadors regularly and avoid any hidden agendas.

Push your engagement to the next level by teaming up with brand ambassadors. They can help your business reach your goal faster.

Engage Before It’s Necessary

Product launches require a lot of hard work and dedication. To ensure success, you want to engage with your audience before the big day.

Work with your team to create measurable benchmarks for engagement. Develop targeted email campaigns to maintain your prospects’ attention. And of course, partner with brand ambassadors to spread your message.

Engage. Launch. Sell.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.


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Making a Living Writing Ebooks: Here’s How It Works Today

"An excellent ebook can provide both revenue and a doorway to greater things." – Sonia Simone

Once upon a time, there was a straightforward solution to “monetizing” your website when you got tired of trying to make AdSense work:

Write an ebook!

Having something of your own to offer, even a simple $7 ebook, virtually always beats trying to monetize your traffic with advertising.

And that’s still true. (In fact, sales of ebooks hit $9 billion in 2015.)

But as more and more people have taken that advice, we need to get a little more strategic to build strong businesses around ebooks.

It can still be done, and I’ll be talking about folks who are doing it. But you can also let ebooks become part of a bigger game, within a larger digital business strategy.

The straight ebooks-for-sale play

We all know that some fiction authors are making a killing selling digital-only books on Amazon.

In fact, a few of those authors are dear friends of ours.

But that’s not what we’ll be talking about today. The world of fiction is a fascinating one in its own right, but the other type of ebook — the somewhat traditional “information product” designed to teach something valuable — is one we have a lot of experience with.

Two powerhouse ebook publishers

It’s getting trickier to build a business around ebooks alone, but if you look at Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School, that site grew to an ecommerce powerhouse on the strength of ebooks.

(In recent years, DPS has expanded to offer courses as well — a natural evolution that can be remarkably profitable.)

The DPS ebooks each focus on a topic the audience wants to know more about — with titles like Life in Natural Light and Captivating Color.

There are a few keys to the success of their library:

  • The books are gorgeous. Darren’s team does an exceptional job with the design of their ebooks, creating digital equivalents of “coffee table books,” featuring, of course, lots of superb photography.
  • The books are also ultra useful, walking the customer through a specific photography technique so she can get better results in her own work.
  • And the ebooks offer impressive value at just $10 each. That’s a small transaction, but because there are lots of them, and because DPS enjoys a large and passionate audience, the revenue adds up.

Another person who knows a thing or two about ultra-successful ebooks is Brett Kelly, author of Evernote Essentials.

Brett wrote the definitive guide to the popular app Evernote. Despite the fact that there were dozens of $1 and $2 guides available, his (at $29) won the war — because it was, quite simply, massively more useful than the cheaper guides.

Brett has done lots of projects since then. He even worked for Evernote for a while — the company loved his book so much, they brought him on, while allowing him to keep his lucrative digital business.

Both Darren and Brett showcase three features that any successful ebook needs:

  1. Great design
  2. Incredible usefulness
  3. Excellent value for the investment (of time or money)

The low-cost introductory product

With the explosive rise of Amazon’s Kindle, readers have become accustomed to paying just a few dollars for ebooks.

(Note that isn’t always the case — Brett’s pricing, mentioned above, survived because of that book’s excellent reputation and quality.)

If you’re trying to make your entire living with ebooks, a low price point can be tricky. But you can also use the lower price point to your advantage by using ebooks as ultra low-risk entry points to your business.

For example, on Big Brand System, Pamela Wilson uses low-cost ebook guides as launching points to an ongoing relationship with her business.

Titles like Business Name and Tagline Guide and Quick-Start Guide to Branding your Business showcase Pamela’s expertise and give potential clients a taste of how she can help grow their businesses.

Her library of low-cost ebooks creates a list of buyers for Pamela’s pricier offerings, including private coaching slots.

Why is that cool? Because a list of buyers (even if they’ve just picked up an inexpensive item) is always much more responsive than a simple interest list.

Buyers have already made a micro-commitment with your organization, which research has shown often leads to a greater willingness to take similar actions.

For many of your lower-priced buyers, going on to a more intensive offering will be a natural next step. And if you put the work in to make your low-cost ebook exceptional, there’s no better “ad” for how you will handle a larger project or product.

A list of buyers, of course, also weeds out the “looky-loos” who subscribe to lists but don’t read them or are only on the list to get free resources.

The thought leader

For a long time now, writing a book has been a way to open many more doors beyond the revenue you get from the book itself.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours, puts it this way:

“Writing a book still tends to have a positive effect on your reputation: if you invest the effort to write a good/useful book, you’ve spent more time thinking about the topic than other people, which makes you rare and valuable to people who are interested in the topic.”

– Josh Kaufman

Given enough time and exposure, an excellent ebook (or series of books) can provide both revenue and a doorway to greater things.

“When we launched Copy Hackers on Hacker News in 2011, we sold $20K worth of ebooks in a few days’ time. That money was everything to me then. It was a signal that our little ebook experiment could turn into a business, that there was a market for what we had, and that the market would pay us for what we knew. Without our ebooks, I would have had to find a job (ugh) at someone else’s business (ugh); with the ebooks, I could afford to try my hand at blogging.

“Years after our launch, our ebooks have become far less about generating revenue. Promoting them on sites like AppSumo and Freelancer has helped us grow our list. And getting them in the hands of makers and influencers has brought us consulting projects, interviews, and speaking engagements.”

– Joanna Wiebe, Copy Hackers

The relationship builder

Many have written about using an ebook as an opt-in reward. In other words, you can use an ebook as an “ethical bribe” to get people to sign up for your email list.

And it works really well for that — but it’s smart to understand the deeper business reasoning.

Offering something valuable, like an ebook, is a reward for taking action. But it also needs to become the cornerstone of an ongoing business relationship.

As any competent sales professional can tell you, before they make a purchase, buyers need to:

  • Know you,
  • like you, and
  • trust you.

An ebook that only gets the prospect to sign up for your email list isn’t living up to its potential.

Those “ethical bribes” need to entice the prospect to take action, and they also need to further the professional relationship to build the case for an eventual purchase.

For example, My Copyblogger is a completely free membership site with an extensive library of free content marketing ebooks.

When we created the free membership library, we took the traditional “trade an ebook for an email opt-in” to a completely new level (and increased our email sign-ups by about 400 percent).

Could we have offered them for sale and made a few dollars? Definitely.

But by using them as the cornerstone of a valuable free membership experience, we’re nurturing relationships for more advanced products like Digital Commerce Academy. (Digital Commerce Academy will reopen to new students on August 21, 2017, so if you’re interested in joining, add your email address to the waitlist below.)

A rose is a rose is a rose

As you’re deciding the role an ebook might play in your business strategy, remember that you don’t actually have to call it an ebook.

In fact, ebooks in other guises can be powerful business-boosters.

So, a values-based, inspirational digital entrepreneur like Chris Guillebeau might (and did) call his ebook a manifesto.

If you offer B2B products or services, at least some of your ebooks will probably be white papers.

At Rainmaker Digital, we’re fans of the special report, but we also like other downloadables like checklists, worksheets, and infographics.

And one of my favorites to play with recently has been the workbook, with the pragmatic, hands-on associations that label brings.

The more flexible you are about how you think about and package your ebooks, the more powerful a tool they can become in your digital business strategy.

Would you like some help with that?

Digital Commerce Academy (DCA) helps you build the business of your dreams by teaching you how to create and sell profitable digital services and goods (like ebooks) without squandering time and money, stumbling to find the right path, or making unnecessary mistakes.

DCA features full-length courses (including Brian Clark’s Build Your Online Training Business the Smarter Way), 20+ webinars featuring in-depth case studies and education on cutting edge tools, as well as Q&As with the Rainmaker Digital team.

The doors to DCA are currently closed, but we are reopening them on August 21, 2017. Join the waitlist below today to get an exclusive offer when DCA reopens.

Enter your Email:

The post Making a Living Writing Ebooks: Here’s How It Works Today appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Designing content for the mobile-first index

Your mobile pages will soon become the default versions used in Google search rankings. How can you make sure they provide good content that’s easy to read on a smaller screen? Columnist Patrick Stox has some ideas.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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Top 6 tips for SEO for SaaS

Do you handle SEO for a software as a service (SaaS) company? Columnist Janet Driscoll Miller discusses how to address some of the unique challenges of this space with six helpful tips.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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