22+ Tax Preparation Service Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients

Tax Preparation Service Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients

Most tax preparation services & tax professionals would agree that there’s nothing like finding a new client. New clients not only bring in immediate revenue, but also lifetime value since they are likely to return year after year. And in an industry built on trust, new clients also represent potential word of mouth referrals.

But it’s hard to find a good client if you don’t have new inquiries coming in.

Some tax professionals – especially those with a large, national brand – have a reputation and client base that brings in referrals and inquiries with nothing but a visible office.

But for most tax professionals and preparers, you have to go out and market your service to get a quality pool of potential clients.

I’ve consulted on search marketing for several local insurance agents* and many local service professionals. Based on those experiences, here are some tax preparation service ideas that you can use to bring in more clients.

*I’ve found that some local insurance agents are highly constrained by their national company franchise agreements. Tax professionals are often in a similar setup with the large national franchise brands. These constraints come with major marketing advantages, but also force you to be creative with your supplemental digital marketing. Some of these tactics might be unavailable for your service, but some just need a bit of tweaking.

Create City-Specific Website Pages

For many clients, regions are too big and neighborhoods are too small for the right tax professional, but they do want a local service in their own city.

Local Tax Preparer

That may sound obvious, but most professional firms that I’ve worked with still don’t focus their marketing on individual cities within a region. It’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. But it can still be worthwhile.

Make sure that every city page is actually about that city and includes all your services. Make your page structure “scalable” so that you can easily expand your service area as needed.

Create Niche Service Pages

Lots of clients have specific services and/or expertise that they want.

This is particularly true in an industry like tax preparation. For basic tax prep, there’s Turbo Tax and the 1040EZ form at the library. Lean into hyper-specific services and expertise.

Instead of listing your services & expertise in a giant list, make detailed pages about each expertise. Try to rank for searches like “tax [service]”.

You can use Google Suggest for ideas. Go to Google and type in “tax for” and hit space, but not enter. You’ll see some suggestions.

Tax Preparer Ideas

You can do this with the entire alphabet and as many modifiers as you can think of.

Tax Preparation Service Niches

Create pages that match those search queries to show up when people search.

If you want to take this to the next level, you can use a tool like SEMrush’s Keyword Explorer to provide phrase match search terms in bulk.

Just type in a broad term and see what it’s comes up with.

Create Local Guide Pages

Create resource guides for people moving to or living in your city. Create lots of them.

Local Tax Considerations

Use Google Autosuggest to understand what people are searching for in your city.

Local Atlanta City Tax

Find niche tax questions, which vary State by State and jurisdiction by jurisdiction.

Make a local version for popular tax questions. You can also search for ideas outside of Google. Check out my guide to researching content here.

Develop Your Local Citations & Reviews

You should already have a Google My Business profile so that you can show up in Google Maps.*

*In fact, if you are a local professional who can’t run your own website, your Google My Business profile will be your primary search marketing tool.

But you can take it to the next level to show up even more prominently.

First, you can build your Google My Business profile with photos, posts, and full listing details.

Second, go to every local business listing site and make sure that your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number match exactly. Whether it’s on the Yellow Pages, Yelp, or elsewhere – everything must match. These are called your “local citations” and Google uses them to confirm the relevance of local business.

You can use SEMrush’s Local Listing Management Tool to audit all these listings quickly.

Third, create a local review strategy. Having diverse, unique, and regular reviews on your Google My Business page is the number one way to get more views (aka calls & inquiries) from Google Maps. There are many ways to get reviews, but you can use follow-ups emails, retargeting on social media, and many other methods.

Getting creative with reviews is how you’ll leapfrog other local competing tax professionals in search.

Fourth, you need to make sure your categorization is comprehensive and complete. Many listings offer varying and multiple business categories. If you are a tax professional with multiple services, makes sure you are listed in every database.

Steal Ideas from Large Local Competitors / Businesses

I’m not a fan of brainstorming. I think that it’s more effective to build off ideas that have already worked.

No matter your size, you can always look to larger competitors or larger businesses for inspiration.

With tax preparation marketing, make a list of local businesses that you *think* are being creative – including companies in different industries.

Like local listings and keywords, I then use a marketing tool like SEMrush to spy on those competitors. Type in the URL of a competitor below to see an example.

Here’s what you’ll see.

It looks like a lot. But drill down and categorize each link. You’ll quickly get a sense of what they are doing. You’ll see where they are posting on social media. You’ll see which media outlets have accepted press releases and what types of digital marketing they’re doing.

The trick here is *not* to copy cat them. Instead, take the general idea of what your competitors have done and make it your own – or, make it better.

Work with Local Publications & Blogs

Every city, no matter how small, has an interest in themselves. In Atlanta, where I live, we have a Curbed blog in addition to the AJC Blogs, Atlanta Business Chronicle, and dozens of smaller neighborhood newspapers and real estate blogs.

Find those and become a regular fixture. All local publications & blogs act on tips & press releases. Very few have a “boots on the ground” journalists. If you can be the place to provide inside information, free images, and consistent write-ups, you’ll earn attention and links.

In the tax arena, any statistics, trends, or data that you have can easily translate to free PR, which can then translate into links to your website or service profile.

That extra attention and those links will help every other idea on this list. Google loves links. Social media users find URLs via links.

Your city pages, service pages, and everything else on your website will benefit from more inbound links.

Use Hyper-Local Facebook Ads

A local business has one massive advantage against national brands trying to operate locally – you live in your city and understand it.

Facebook allows for hyper-local advertising. You can run ads that show within a radius of only a few miles. It’s tedious to set up, but it’s relevant and effective.

Learn how to create hyper-local targeting for demographics and geography to find lots of interested clients. Lean in to local tax problems.

For example, if you live in State affected by the SALT cap – talk about that. If you serve one of the cities with a wage / income tax – talk about that.

Whether it’s 529s, childcare, energy credits, find out what makes *your* area different and talk to the exact people that those tax considerations affect.

You can run small, targeted campaigns that show multiple places at once.

Use Hyper-Local Google Search Ads

Google Search ads are famously effective and famously expensive. The best client is someone who searches for “tax preparation in [city]”.

But that search click will be very costly.

In fact, some of the most expensive searches on Google are for tax queries.

You’ll be competing with huge, publicly traded national brands with near infinite budgets and an army of advertising professionals.

But like Facebook, you have an critical local advantage with Google Quality Score. Google will show ads higher if they are more relevant even if they don’t have the high bid.

Like Facebook, it’s tedious to set up, but if you can set up a hyper-local campaign, you’ll be able to get Google Search traffic that large competitors can’t bid on.

The key is to run landing pages that perfectly match your ads, and run ads that perfectly match specific, local keywords.

If you offer tailored or niche tax products, this strategy can be particularly useful.

Use Hyper-Local Google Display Ads

Google’s Display Network also offers opportunities for local advertisers who are willing to put in the work.

Google serves banner & text ads on some of the best ad locations on the Internet. Many placements are expensive for bulk ad buys.

But again, Google would rather serve a relevant ad with a low bid than an irrelevant ad with a high bid. That’s your opportunity to set up a hyper-local campaign focused on specific demographics in a specific area.

Even if you have a small market, you can always use Google’s Retargeting setting to solicit more reviews & referrals.

List on Locally-Popular Tax Websites

Tax & financial websites are a dime a dozen. They will send traffic to your listing. But they are expensive and require a lot of legwork.

The key is to find a few key financial websites that are popular in your area – and list on those.

Tax Listings Atlanta

You can use Google Trends, client interviews, SEMrush, or simply looking at the Google Search Results to see who is more popular for your city / neighborhood.

List on NextDoor & Local Forums

NextDoor is one of many local social media websites & forums. They are hard to find and hard to join, representing an opportunity for any local, enterprising tax professional.

These networks are interesting because they are specifically local and extremely relevant for professional services.

They also have an accessible, affordable, and useful local advertising service.

Automate Social Media Monitoring

Like Reddit, people often start their professional search on local social media with open-ended, specific questions.

It’s impossible to spend all your time on social media. But it is possible to automate both posting and listening on social media.

Take advantage of Twitter alerts, IFTTT, Zapier, and other tools to automate your social media presence and find great leads.

Contribute to Local Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a known resource for everyone. It relies on contributors – and authoritative contributors for local cities are often sparse.

Look for opportunities to use your website as an authoritative source for Wikipedia. A tax agency is well-positioned to provide historical documentation, legal background, and more for Wikipedia entries.

Historical Tax Documents in Wikipedia

Don’t be over-promotional or spammy, but you can look to increase your presence there for the links and the potential exposure.

After all, if people are using Wikipedia for research, it’s a great place to have your website & brand.

Identify & Market Popular Client Sources

Take previous & existing clients and try to understand where those clients came from and how they found you.

See if there is a way to build off that success. It sounds cliche and obvious, but the key is in the execution. I’ve worked with plenty of professional firms who knew where they got clients from, but never thought about increasing that channel.

Cross-Promote Local Professionals

Local financial professionals usually have an incredible offline network, but have a poor online network. That’s the same with real estate agents, therapists, and other professional services. If you are investing in your online marketing efforts, try to develop a relationship to cross-promote as many local professionals as possible.

Cross-Promote Local Businesses

As an tax professional, you have the opportunity to stand at the nexus of lots of businesses & people. The key to most tax professionals is referrals. Try promoting other businesses in an effort to simply be top of mind for when the need for a tax professional happens.

Remember that even a link to your website from their website will dramatically help your other online efforts.

Coordinate Offline & Online Marketing

Take what your other marketing channels and drive them to specific landing pages with tracking. Create a marketing funnel rather than direct call to action across your on and offline marketing.

Use Events To Get Social Media Attention

Events like pro bono, Q&A sessions, seminars, college recruiting events are staples for many tax professionals. But events have a bonus effect online.

You can list them on multiple platforms to get extra exposure. Facebook is the best place for this tactic, but it also works on Google, Instagram, and event apps like Meet and Four Square.

Use Video Tours To Hack Social Media

Like events, most social media gives preference to video in their feeds. Take interesting video tours of tax issues with behind the scenes explainers.

Video can be hard, but that means you will get a competitive advantage if you can pull it off. Create “evergreen” videos about topics that will last.

Post the file natively to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Pay a small budget to boost it. And look for opportunities to embed it on your website.

Use Digital Referral Fees for Word of Mouth

Referral fees are also a staple of professionals’ marketing. But they don’t get the same reach as digital referral codes.

Whether you use a simple bit.ly link, manually hand out custom codes (i.e., client numbers), or use a software service – digital referral codes can help you move limited physical word of mouth to unlimited digital word of mouth.

Find & Sponsor Local Charities

Sponsoring local charities provides a few marketing benefits.

First, you can likely get a link to your website, which will help your other efforts. For many professionals, it’s the cheapest, simplest, and best way to promote your local listing & get links. You get long-term value for a short-term fee.

Second, you can tap into a well-networked organization with lots of word of mouth potential.

Third, you can tap into neighborhood goodwill to help with soliciting reviews to help with your Google My Business efforts.

Next Steps

There are a lot of marketing ideas out there for tax professionals and tax preparation services. You don’t have to do all of them. You just have to do one or two well.

Find the one that fits your interests & resources and give it a try. Learn based on your initial experience and improve.

This post originally appeared at 22+ Tax Preparation Service Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients via ShivarWeb

“”

22+ Insurance Agency Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients

Insurance Agency Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients

Most insurance agencies & brokers would agree that there’s nothing like finding a new client. New clients not only bring in revenue, but also lifetime value and new referrals. But it’s hard to find a good client if you don’t have new inquiries coming in.

Some insurance agencies & brokers – especially those with a large, national brand – have a reputation and client base that brings in referrals and inquiries with nothing but a phone number.

But for most agents and brokers, you have to go out and market your agency or brokerage to get a quality pool of potential clients.

I’ve consulted on search marketing for several local insurance agents* and many local service professionals. Based on those experiences, here are some insurance agency marketing ideas that you can use to bring in more clients.

*I’ve found that some local insurance agents are highly constrained by their national company franchise agreements. These constraints come with major marketing advantages, but also force you to be creative with your supplemental digital marketing. Some of these tactics might be unavailable for you, but some just need a bit of tweaking.

Create City-Specific Website Pages

For many clients, regions are too big and neighborhoods are too small for the right insurance agent, but they do want a local agent or broker in their own city.

That may sound obvious, but most professional firms that I’ve worked with still don’t focus their marketing on individual cities within a region. It’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. But it can still be worthwhile.

Make sure that every city page is actually about that city and includes all your services. Make your page structure “scalable” so that you can easily expand your service area as needed.

Create Niche Service Pages

Lots of clients have specific services and/or expertise that they want. Instead of listing your services & expertise in a giant list, make detailed pages about each expertise. Try to rank for searches like “[service] insurance”.

You can use Google Suggest for ideas. Go to Google and type in “[city] insurance that” and hit space, but not enter. You’ll see some suggestions.

You can do this with the entire alphabet and as many modifiers as you can think of.

Create pages that match those search queries to show up when people search.

If you want to take this to the next level, you can use a tool like SEMrush’s Keyword Explorer to provide phrase match search terms in bulk.

Just type in a broad term and see what it’s comes up with.

Create Local Guide Pages

Create resource guides for people moving to or living in your city. Create lots of them.

Use Google Autosuggest to understand what people are searching for in your city.

Find niche insurance questions, which vary State by State and jurisdiction by jurisdiction.

Make a local version for popular insurance questions.

Develop Your Local Citations & Reviews

You should already have a Google My Business profile so that you can show up in Google Maps.*

*In fact, if you are a local agent who can’t run your own website, your Google My Business profile will be your primary search marketing tool.

But you can take it to the next level to show up even more prominently.

First, you can build your Google My Business profile with photos, posts, and full listing details.

Second, go to every local business listing site and make sure that your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number match exactly. Whether it’s on the Yellow Pages, Yelp, or elsewhere – everything must match. These are called your “local citations” and Google uses them to confirm the relevance of local business.

You can use SEMrush’s Local Listing Management Tool to audit all these listings quickly.

Third, create a local review strategy. Having diverse, unique, and regular reviews on your Google My Business page is the number one way to get more views (aka calls & inquiries) from Google Maps. There are many ways to get reviews, but you can use follow-ups emails, retargeting on social media, and many other methods.

Getting creative with reviews is how you’ll leapfrog other local competing insurance agents in search.

Fourth, you need to make sure your categorization is comprehensive and complete. Many listings offer varying and multiple business categories. If you are an insurance broker or agency with multiple services, makes sure you are listed in every database.

Steal Ideas from Large Local Competitors / Businesses

I’m not a fan of brainstorming. I think that it’s more effective to build off ideas that have already worked.

No matter your size, you can always look to larger competitors or larger businesses for inspiration.

With insurance marketing, make a list of local businesses that you *think* are being creative – including companies in different industries.

Like local listings and keywords, I then use a marketing tool like SEMrush to spy on those competitors. Type in the URL of a competitor below to see an example.

Here’s what you’ll see.

It looks like a lot. But drill down and categorize each link. You’ll quickly get a sense of what they are doing. You’ll see where they are posting on social media. You’ll see which media outlets have accepted press releases and what types of digital marketing they’re doing.

The trick here is *not* to copy cat them. Instead, take the general idea of what your competitors have done and make it your own – or, make it better.

Work with Local Publications & Blogs

Every city, no matter how small, has an interest in themselves. In Atlanta, where I live, we have a Curbed blog in addition to the AJC Blogs, Atlanta Business Chronicle, and dozens of smaller neighborhood newspapers and real estate blogs.

Find those and become a regular fixture. All local publications & blogs act on tips & press releases. Very few have a “boots on the ground” journalists. If you can be the place to provide inside information, free images, and consistent write-ups, you’ll earn attention and links.

In the insurance arena, any statistics, trends, or data that you have can easily translate to free PR, which can then translate into links to your website or agent profile.

That extra attention and those links will help every other idea on this list. Google loves links. Social media users find URLs via links.

Your city pages, service pages, and everything else on your website will benefit from more inbound links.

Use Hyper-Local Facebook Ads

A local business has one massive advantage against national brands trying to operate locally – you live in your city and understand it.

Facebook allows for hyper-local advertising. You can run ads that show within a radius of only a few miles. It’s tedious to set up, but it’s relevant and effective.

Learn how to create hyper-local targeting for demographics and geography to find lots of interested clients.

You can run small, targeted campaigns that show multiple places at once.

Use Hyper-Local Google Search Ads

Google Search ads are famously effective and famously expensive. The best client is someone who searches for “car insurance in [city]”.

But that search click will be very costly.

In fact, some of the most expensive searches on Google are for legal terms.

But like Facebook, you have an critical local advantage with Google Quality Score. Google will show ads higher if they are more relevant even if they don’t have the high bid.

Like Facebook, it’s tedious to set up, but if you can set up a hyper-local campaign, you’ll be able to get Google Search traffic that large competitors can’t bid on.

The key is to run landing pages that perfectly match your ads, and run ads that perfectly match specific, local keywords.

If you offer tailored or niche insurance products, this strategy can be particularly useful.

Use Hyper-Local Google Display Ads

Google’s Display Network also offers opportunities for local advertisers who are willing to put in the work.

Google serves banner & text ads on some of the best ad locations on the Internet. Many placements are expensive for bulk ad buys.

But again, Google would rather serve a relevant ad with a low bid than an irrelevant ad with a high bid. That’s your opportunity to set up a hyper-local campaign focused on specific demographics in a specific area.

Even if you have a small market, you can always use Google’s Retargeting setting to solicit more reviews & referrals.

List on Locally-Popular Insurance Websites

Insurance listing websites are a dime a dozen. They will send traffic to your listing. But they are expensive and require a lot of legwork.

The key is to find a few key insurance websites that are popular in your area – and list on those.

You can use Google Trends, client interviews, SEMrush, or simply looking at the Google Search Results to see who is more popular for your city / neighborhood.

List on NextDoor & Local Forums

NextDoor is one of many local social media websites & forums. They are hard to find and hard to join, representing an opportunity for any local, enterprising broker or agent.

These networks are interesting because they are specifically local and extremely relevant for professional services.

They also have an accessible, affordable, and useful local advertising service.

Automate Social Media Monitoring

Like Reddit, people often start their insurance search on local social media with open-ended, specific questions.

It’s impossible to spend all your time on social media. But it is possible to automate both posting and listening on social media.

Take advantage of Twitter alerts, IFTTT, Zapier, and other tools to automate your social media presence and find great leads.

Contribute to Local Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a known resource for everyone. It relies on contributors – and authoritative contributors for local cities are often sparse.

Look for opportunities to use your website as an authoritative source for Wikipedia. An insurance agency is well-positioned to provide historical documentation, legal background, and more for Wikipedia entries.

Don’t be over-promotional or spammy, but you can look to increase your presence there for the links and the potential exposure.

After all, if people are using Wikipedia for research, it’s a great place to have your website & brand.

Identify & Market Popular Client Sources

Take previous & existing clients and try to understand where those clients came from and how they found you.

See if there is a way to build off that success. It sounds cliche and obvious, but the key is in the execution. I’ve worked with plenty of professional firms who knew where they got clients from, but never thought about increasing that channel.

Cross-Promote Local Professionals

Local real estate agents usually have an incredible offline network, but have a poor online network. That’s the same with accountants, therapists, and other professional services. If you are investing in your online marketing efforts, try to develop a relationship to cross-promote as many local professionals as possible.

Cross-Promote Local Businesses

As an insurance agent, you have the opportunity to stand at the nexus of lots of businesses & people. The key to most law firms is referrals. Try promoting other businesses in an effort to simply be top of mind for when the need for an insurance agent / broker happens.

Remember that even a link to your website from their website will dramatically help your other online efforts.

Coordinate Offline & Online Marketing

Take what your other marketing channels and drive them to specific landing pages with tracking. Create a marketing funnel rather than direct call to action across your on and offline marketing.

Use Events To Get Social Media Attention

Events like pro bono, Q&A sessions, seminars, college recruiting events are staples for many law firms. But events have a bonus effect online.

You can list them on multiple platforms to get extra exposure. Facebook is the best place for this tactic, but it also works on Google, Instagram, and event apps like Meet and Four Square.

Use Video Tours To Hack Social Media

Like events, most social media gives preference to video in their feeds. Take interesting video tours of insurance issues with behind the scenes explainers.

Video can be hard, but that means you will get a competitive advantage if you can pull it off. Create “evergreen” videos about topics that will last.

Post the file natively to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Pay a small budget to boost it. And look for opportunities to embed it on your website.

Use Digital Referral Fees for Word of Mouth

Referral fees are also a staple of insurance marketing. But they don’t get the same reach as digital referral codes.

Whether you use a simple bit.ly link, manually hand out custom codes (i.e., client numbers), or use a software service – digital referral codes can help you move limited physical word of mouth to unlimited digital word of mouth.

Find & Sponsor Local Charities

Sponsoring local charities provides a few marketing benefits.

First, you can likely get a link to your website, which will help your other efforts. For many agents, it’s the cheapest, simplest, and best way to promote your local listing & get links. You get long-term value for a short-term fee.

Second, you can tap into a well-networked organization with lots of word of mouth potential.

Third, you can tap into neighborhood goodwill to help with soliciting reviews to help with your Google My Business efforts.

Next Steps

There are a lot of marketing ideas out there for insurance agencies & brokers. You don’t have to do all of them. You just have to do one or two well.

Find the one that fits your interests & resources and give it a try. Learn based on your initial experience and improve.

This post originally appeared at 22+ Insurance Agency Marketing Ideas To Get More Clients via ShivarWeb

“”

22+ Law Firm Marketing & Advertising Ideas To Find More Clients

Law Firm Marketing & Advertising Ideas To Find More Clients

Most law firms would agree that there’s nothing like finding a new client. New clients not only bring in revenue, but also lifetime value and new referrals. But it’s hard to find a good client if you don’t have new inquiries coming in.

Some law firms have a reputation and client base that brings in referrals and inquiries with nothing but a phone number. But for most lawyers, you have to go out and market your firm to get a quality pool of potential clients.

I’ve consulted on search marketing for several large, local professional firms. Based on those experiences, here are some lawyer & law firm marketing ideas that you can use to bring in more clients.

Create City-Specific Website Pages

For many clients, regions are too big and neighborhoods are too small for the right law firm, but they do want a local lawyer in their own city.

Lawyer Marketing

That may sound obvious, but most professional firms that I’ve worked with still don’t focus their marketing on individual cities within a region. It’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. But it can still be worthwhile.

Make sure that every city page is actually about that city and includes all your services. Make your page structure “scalable” so that you can easily expand your service area as needed.

Create Niche Service Pages

Lots of clients have specific services and/or expertise that they want. Instead of listing your services & expertise in a giant list, make detailed pages about each expertise. Try to rank for searches like “[service] lawyer”.

You can use Google Suggest for ideas. Go to Google and type in “[city] lawyer that” and hit space, but not enter. You’ll see some suggestions.

Lawyer Services
Lawyer Expertise

You can do this with the entire alphabet and as many modifiers as you can think of.

Atlanta Legal Expertise

Create pages that match those search queries to show up when people search.

If you want to take this to the next level, you can use a tool like SEMrush’s Keyword Explorer to provide phrase match search terms in bulk.

Create Local Guide Pages

Create resource guides for people moving to your city. Create lots of them.

Georgia Laws

Use Google Autosuggest to understand what people are searching for in your city.

Municipal Laws

Find a niche in legal questions, which vary State by State and jurisdiction by jurisdiction.

Hiring a Lawyer

Make a local version for popular legal questions.

Develop Your Local Citations & Reviews

You should already have a Google My Business profile so that you can show up in Google Maps.

But you can take it to the next level to show up even more prominently.

First, you can build your Google My Business profile with photos, posts, and full listing details.

Second, go to every local business listing site and make sure that your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number match exactly. Whether it’s on the Yellow Pages, Yelp, or elsewhere – everything must match. These are called your “local citations” and Google uses them to confirm the relevance of local business.

You can use SEMrush’s Local Listing Management Tool to audit all these listings quickly.

Third, create a local review strategy. Having diverse, unique, and regular reviews on your Google My Business page is the number one way to get more views (aka calls & inquiries) from Google Maps. There are many ways to get reviews, but you can use follow-ups emails, retargeting, and many other methods.

Fourth, you need to make sure your categorization is comprehensive and complete. Many listings offer varying and multiple business categories. If you are a law firm with multiple services, makes sure you are listed in every database.

Steal Ideas from Large Local Competitors / Businesses

I’m not a fan of brainstorming. I think that it’s more effective to build off ideas that have already worked.

No matter your size, you can always look to larger competitors or larger businesses for inspiration.

With law firm marketing, make a list of local businesses that you *think* are being creative – including companies in different industries.

Like local listings and keywords, I then use a marketing tool like SEMrush to spy on those competitors. Type in the URL of a competitor below to see an example.

Here’s what you’ll see.

It looks like a lot. But drill down and categorize each link. You’ll quickly get a sense of what they are doing. You’ll see where they are posting on social media. You’ll see which media outlets have accepted press releases and what types of digital marketing they’re doing.

The trick here is *not* to copy cat them. Instead, take the general idea of what your competitors have done and make it your own – or, make it better.

Work with Local Publications & Blogs

Every city, no matter how small, has an interest in themselves. In Atlanta, where I live, we have a Curbed blog in addition to the AJC Blogs, Atlanta Business Chronicle, and dozens of smaller neighborhood newspapers and real estate blogs.

Find those and become a regular fixture. All local publications & blogs act on tips & press releases. Very few have a “boots on the ground” journalists. If you can be the place to provide inside information, free images, and consistent write-ups, you’ll earn attention and links.

In the legal arena, any statistics, trends, or data that you have can easily translate to free PR, which can then translate into links to your website.

That extra attention and those links will help every other idea on this list. Google loves links. Social media users find URLs via links.

Your city pages, service pages, and everything else on your website will benefit from more inbound links.

Use Hyper-Local Facebook Ads

A local business has one massive advantage against national brands trying to operate locally – you live in your city and understand it.

Facebook allows for hyper-local advertising. You can run ads that show within a radius of only a few miles. It’s tedious to set up, but it’s relevant and effective.

Learn how to create hyper-local targeting for demographics and geography to find lots of interested clients.

You can run small, targeted campaigns that show multiple places at once.

Use Hyper-Local Google Search Ads

Google Search ads are famously effective and famously expensive. The best client is someone who searches for “lawyer in [city]”.

But that search click will be very costly.

In fact, some of the most expensive searches on Google are for legal terms.

But like Facebook, you have an critical local advantage with Google Quality Score. Google will show ads higher if they are more relevant even if they don’t have the high bid.

Like Facebook, it’s tedious to set up, but if you can set up a hyper-local campaign, you’ll be able to get Google Search traffic that large competitors can’t bid on.

The key is to run landing pages that perfectly match your ads, and run ads that perfectly match specific, local keywords.

Use Hyper-Local Google Display Ads

Google’s Display Network also offers opportunities for local advertisers who are willing to put in the work.

Google serves banner & text ads on some of the best ad locations on the Internet. Many placements are expensive for bulk ad buys.

But again, Google would rather serve a relevant ad with a low bid than an irrelevant ad with a high bid. That’s your opportunity to set up a hyper-local campaign focused on specific demographics in a specific area.

Even if you have a small market, you can always use Google’s Retargeting setting to solicit more reviews & referrals.

List on Locally-Popular Legal Websites

Lawyer listing websites are a dime a dozen. They will send traffic to your listing. But they are expensive and require a lot of legwork.

The key is to find a few key lawyer websites that are popular in your area – and list on those.

You can use Google Trends, client interviews, SEMrush, or simply looking at the Google Search Results to see who is more popular for your city / neighborhood.

Lawyer SERPs

List on NextDoor & Local Forums

NextDoor is one of many local social media websites & forums. They are hard to find and hard to join, representing an opportunity for any local, enterprising attorney.

These networks are interesting because they are specifically local and extremely relevant for professional services.

They also have an accessible, affordable, and useful local advertising service.

Advertise / Post on Local Subreddits

Reddit is an attractive website for many industries. But local subreddits are especially interesting for attorneys and law firms for a couple of reasons.

First, they are hubs for local discussion & recommendations.

Second, they are the first place for people to ask open-ended specific, local questions.

Reddit Lawyer Recommendations

Now, Reddit is decidedly non-commercial with lots of rules. You should get to know them before posting or commenting as a commercial entity.

However, you should explore their sidebar wiki for research.

You should get in touch with the moderators to listen to their rules about business posting. And you should look at running ads or giveaways there.

Automate Social Media Monitoring

Like Reddit, people often start their lawyer search on local social media with open-ended, specific questions.

It’s impossible to spend all your time on social media. But it is possible to automate both posting and listening on social media.

Take advantage of Twitter alerts, IFTTT, Zapier, and other tools to automate your social media presence and find great leads.

Contribute to Local Wikipedia

Wikipedia is a known resource for everyone. It relies on contributors – and authoritative contributors for local cities are often sparse.

Look for opportunities to use your website as an authoritative source for Wikipedia. A law firm is well-positioned to provide historical documentation, legal background, and more for Wikipedia entries.

Don’t be over-promotional or spammy, but you can look to increase your presence there for the links and the potential exposure.

After all, if people are using Wikipedia for legal research, it’s a great place to have your website & brand.

Identify & Market Popular Client Sources

Take previous & existing clients and try to understand where those clients came from and how they found you.

See if there is a way to build off that success. It sounds cliche and obvious, but the key is in the execution. I’ve worked with plenty of professional firms who knew where they got clients from, but never thought about increasing that channel.

Cross-Promote Local Professionals

Local real estate agents usually have an incredible offline network, but have a poor online network. That’s the same with accountants, therapists, and other professional services. If you are investing in your online marketing efforts, try to develop a relationship to cross-promote as many local professionals as possible.

Cross-Promote Local Businesses

As a lawyer, you have the opportunity to stand at the nexus of lots of businesses & people. The key to most law firms is referrals. Try promoting other businesses in an effort to simply be top of mind for when the need for an attorney happens.

Remember that even a link to your website from their website will dramatically help your other online efforts.

Coordinate Offline & Online Marketing

Take what your other marketing channels and drive them to specific landing pages with tracking. Create a marketing funnel rather than direct call to action across your on and offline marketing.

Use Events To Get Social Media Attention

Events like open houses, pro bono, Q&A sessions, seminars, college recruiting events are staples for many law firms. But events have a bonus effect online.

You can list them on multiple platforms to get extra exposure. Facebook is the best place for this tactic, but it also works on Google, Instagram, and event apps like Meet and Four Square.

Use Video Tours To Hack Social Media

Like events, most social media gives preference to video in their feeds. Take interesting video tours of legal issues with behind the scenes explainers.

Video can be hard, but that means you will get a competitive advantage if you can pull it off. Create “evergreen” videos about topics that will last.

Post the file natively to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Pay a small budget to boost it. And look for opportunities to embed it on your website.

Use Digital Referral Fees for Word of Mouth

Referral fees are also a staple of attorney marketing. But they don’t get the same reach as digital referral codes.

Whether you use a simple bit.ly link, manually hand out custom codes (i.e., client numbers), or use a software service – digital referral codes can help you move limited physical word of mouth to unlimited digital word of mouth.

Find & Sponsor Local Charities

Sponsoring local charities provides a few marketing benefits.

First, you can likely get a link to your website, which will help your other efforts.

Second, you can tap into a well-networked organization with lots of word of mouth potential.

Third, you can tap into neighborhood goodwill to help with soliciting reviews to help with your Google My Business efforts.

Next Steps

There are a lot of marketing ideas out there for attorneys and law firms. You don’t have to do all of them. You just have to do one or two well.

Find the one that fits your interests & resources and give it a try. Learn based on your initial experience and improve.

This post originally appeared at 22+ Law Firm Marketing & Advertising Ideas To Find More Clients via ShivarWeb

“”

How to Build a Minimally Viable Website

This post originally appeared at How to Build a Minimally Viable Website via ShivarWeb

How to Build a Minimally Viable Website

So you want to get your product/service/thoughts in front of an audience, and you need a website. Time to buckle down and create a massive, beautiful site, right?

Wrong.

When you’re launching anything, the most important goal is to get data. Without data, you can’t possibly make something as good as it can be — and that applies to your website, too.

You need data on what it takes to build & run the site of your dreams. You need data on who actually visits your site and what they do. You need data to decide what to do next.

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when launching a website is starting too big and too well-designed (especially eCommerce sites).

You don’t need pages and pages of content or a fancy design. What you do need is a minimally viable website.

Here’s how to build one…

Define Your Goals

Before you do anything, you need to decide what you want to achieve with your website. What do you want people to do once they’re there? If you’re looking to make sales, what are your revenue goals?

This part of the process may seem counterintuitive — after all, this article is about creating the minimally viable product — but it’s key to building your site on the right foot.

Defining your goals upfront will help you know what to look for in the data you get and whether or not you’re on the right path, so don’t skip this step.

Choose Your Platform & Domain

Most business owners feel like their website has to use fancy tools and platforms to get the job done. Not so. In fact, a simple HTML template can be all you need (you can even host it for free with a Dropbox hack if that’s your thing).

If you’re into WordPress or some other website builder and can churn out a quick website, then go that route. Weebly and Wix both offer free plans on their subdomain.

The point here is to get your content somewhere quickly and simply but to also keep your options open for when you’re ready to make changes (and to track data).

Some companies like InMotion Hosting have a specific quick start setup service for $99 + hosting (which you need anyway). Companies like NameCheap will also bundle it with your domain.

A custom domain can be important – but remember that you can always change it. Your goal right now is data – not perfection. Go get a cheap domain from NameCheap or GoDaddy.

Set Up Analytics + Goals

Speaking of tracking data… the whole point of an MVP (or MVW in this case) is to capture data so you can find what works and what doesn’t. In order to be able to capture this information, you need to set up analytics and goal tracking.

There are a lot of options, but Google Analytics is the go-to solution (it’s also free).

The key is to make sure you have goals set up based on whatever action you want people to take. If you’re an eCommerce store, you need to be sure you have an eCommerce checkout set up. Make sure it’s a goal. Make sure the whole package is working correctly because you have to accurately track conversions (aka sales) – if you are using a minimally viable payment solution like PayPal or Gumroad – this might mean simply setting the thank you page redirect.

If you’re looking for email opt-ins, make that a goal. Set up any action you’re looking at as a conversion in Google Analytics for tracking. And like eCommerce sales, you don’t have to get fancy. This might mean setting your MailChimp thank you page redirect as the sign-up goal.

If you plan on marketing your website (which you should), you should also link Google Analytics to Google Ads and set up a retargeting audience with Google Analytics.

And lastly, you should set up a Facebook Ads account and place a retargeting (audience pixel) cookie on your website. And learn what exactly Google Analytics does.

Set Up Focus Pages

As I’ve already mentioned, you don’t need a 100+ page website on your first launch. When you’re creating a minimally viable website, you should focus on setting up a few landing pages where you can send traffic for conversion.

In some cases, this can actually be done with a single page.

Take this website: Fix the Electoral College. I built this with a single HTML file hosted on a Google Cloud account. I never wanted to build an entire website dedicated to the structure of American politics with all the security updates and information architecture needs — just a single, shareable resource. This single page website got clicks and shares from hundreds of key state legislators in a very targeted Twitter / Facebook campaign. Mission accomplished!

The goal is to create very specific pages (or a page) that visitors can land on and take action. If you can do that in one page — awesome! Do that. If you need more than one, then take that route. Just remember that this should be as simple and clear as possible and focused around whatever conversion you’re looking to measure.

Test, Test, Test

Once you’ve got your website up, it’s time to start testing and optimizing. The goal here is to keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t.

Keep in mind that everything you do will conform to the 80/20 Principle. I’ve seen lots of analytics profiles across a wide range of industries. In every single one, every metric conforms to 80/20.

  • 20% of the products make up 80% of sales.
  • 20% of content drives 80% of organic traffic.
  • 20% of ad spend drives 80% of revenue.

When evaluating your website, keep your focus on the 20% that matters, and keep expanding the overall amount of opportunity. If you’ve never read much about the concept, check out the original 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch AND the follow-up 80/20 for Sales & Marketing by Perry Marshall.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve got your minimally viable website, it’s time to take some concrete next steps. Remember, this isn’t about more planning. It’s about action. The whole point of launching your MVP site is to get feedback so that you know what to do next.

Check out InMotion’s Quick Start service or NameCheap’s one-pager that will bundle with a domain purchase.

To get that feedback, you’ll need to get people to your site and taking action. Check out this guide to promoting your website (for free) to get started.

Once you’ve gathered data – you’ll need to set up a more permanent website with more options. You’ll want to explore my essential guide to eCommerce platforms or my WordPress website guide or my guide to website builders.

“”

20+ Considerations on The Future of Web Hosting, Website Builders & Digital Marketing Beyond 2020

This post originally appeared at 20+ Considerations on The Future of Web Hosting, Website Builders & Digital Marketing Beyond 2020 via ShivarWeb

Considerations on The Future of Web Hosting, Website Builders & Digital Marketing

There has never been a time when running a website has been more accessible, convenient, and profitable than now.

But there has also never been a time when running a website has been so confusing, frustrating, and winner-take-all than now.

And that contradiction comes because some of the major computing & networking innovations from the 2010s are finally coming to the everyday Internet.

And as the 2010s close out and the 2020s begin, here are some of my considerations (in no specific order) that I think would be useful for DIYers, freelancers, small online business owners, and anyone planning an online presence.

Nobody Fully Knows What Is Going On

This post is deliberately a listicle because I don’t have a grand unified idea about the future of running a website on the Internet. And I’m skeptical of anyone who does.

Cloud computing, machine learning, APIs, high-quality open-source software, free toolkits, mobile devices, streaming, and the lumbering giant behavior of Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft all point to continuing massive disruption of entire industries that no one can predict or prepare for.

The Website + Marketing Tool Model Is Gone

For years, people built a website on a multi-purpose host with a custom domain. And then they used 3rd party tools & distribution channels to promote content, products & services that lived on the website.

But now, the website on a domain is simply one tool in a toolkit. In fact, you can build a model where your website is a backend for your other marketing tools…or you can use a marketing tool to build & run your website.

This shift is clearest with online stores. Between Buyable Pins, Checkout on Instagram, Amazon integration, dropshipping APIs, offline pop-up shops, etc – the website is just another piece in the business puzzle.

Now, websites are still critical because they remain the only piece of that puzzle that you can control & own as an asset. But…I do think they are losing their relative importance. And their importance depends massively on what industry you are in.

Platform Choice > Tool Choice

The demise of the website + marketing tool model will mean that website owners will choose their platform of choice rather than their tools of choice based on what business they have.

Online retail is in this place already. Very few successful retailers have a collection of tools. It’s all about integrations and platform. But increasingly, every business sector will move to this model.

Local small businesses will look at platforms that do their primary function plus whatever integrates well with that platform. For example, a website builder will not compete with other website builders. Instead, the website builder will compete with the CRM platform and the email marketing platform…because all three will have a website builder, CRM, and email marketing tool bundled in a single platform

In other words, a website builder like Wix no longer competes with Squarespace. Instead, Wix competes with MailChimp and HubSpot and Google.

In online retail, Shopify and WooCommerce and BigCommerce don’t really compete with each other. They all compete, as a group, against Amazon, Instagram, Depop, MailChimp, Square, Salesforce, and eBay.

In hosting, hosting companies no longer compete with each other as much as they compete against Google Business Suite, Hubspot, hosted website builders, etc.

Now, there will still be incredible power & opportunity for website owners who have the resources & wherewithal to mix & match services to get the best of all worlds. Those website owners will be able to maintain costs and control where others will cede more power to their platform of choice.

Convenience Killed Cost & Control

The big reason why DIYers are a declining & disrupted market is that when consumers distill down what they truly care about – convenience always wins.

The same reasons driving the growth of takeout, restaurant, delivery, and meal kits at the expense of cooking are also driving the growth of online platforms at the expense of websites + tools.

If you are a DIYer, it will pay to be hyper-aware of what your true wants, needs and goals are – and what tradeoffs you are willing to make. Platforms are great in many ways, but beyond 2020, the most successful DIYers will be able to manage the tradeoffs of platforms.

If you are a freelancer, it will lead to bigger rewards to both specialize in a platform and maintain familiarity with how adjacent choices work. Even if your clients do not know about or understand platform choices, you can still use them to streamline your business and add value without adding extra work.

Spam, Security & Speed Killed What Could Have Been

I am a huge fan of the Open Web. Regardless of the short-term rewards of the platform of the day, it’s still worth investing in a website for the long-term.

But in 2020, even the most die-hard prophets preaching against Google, social media companies, cloud computing, hosted builders, and big corporations will have to admit that the vulnerabilities in the Open Web & running / managing your own website are pushing people to big platforms as much as those big platforms are pulling people.

For example, Google might be pulling people & businesses to hand over their personal email & confidential documents. But hackers, spammers, and human impatience are doing plenty of pushing as well.

For example, I would *love* to run conversations via blog comments instead of using Twitter. But my blog comments are like an absolute honeypot for the worst of the Internet.

Another example, I would love to avoid ecommerce transaction fees and SSL fees but hackers only need one shot. Security is difficult and, honestly, much more effective to do at scale across thousands of websites.

Most of my clients gain a lot from controlling their own hosting rather than using a hosted website solution. But I have to set expectations to prep clients for the amount of time & money it takes to keep the site secure & speedy beyond using a solid hosting company. Web visitors will absolutely ditch a website in a heartbeat over a millisecond. That’s why so many publishers with massive brands are blindly handing control over to Google’s AMP initiative. Even the biggest brands in the world can’t compete with human impatience.

Traffic Sources Are Consolidated & Fragmented

Facebook’s properties & Google’s properties will continue to become bigger. But they’ll also become more winner-take-all. But also, a much longer tail of random completely unpredictable traffic sources will continue to fragment.

Even more traffic will be “dark” or untrackable. Planning a marketing strategy will increasingly rely solely on your target audience rather than your target traffic source.

Organic Traffic Is A Bonus

Treat any organic traffic from Google, Facebook, Pinterest, etc like a bonus. You can’t project or plan long-term around organic traffic. Agencies, freelancers, etc will have to adjust pricing and clients will have to adjust expectations.

Digital marketers spent years making fun of John Wanamaker old-fashioned quote that “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Online attribution was supposed to solve that problem. But now, no matter how creepy your tracking and attribution is…consumer & traffic behavior is so unpredictable that you won’t be able to truly plan long-term…unless you pay.

Marketers Growth Demands Killed What Could Have Been

More and more platforms & websites will be “walled gardens”* due to pressure to grow…and grow…and grow some more. The Web could have been a world of accessible, free-flowing information where many businesses and types of businesses made a living. But platforms have to be more closed to make more money off users. And as valuable traffic has declined, website owners have become more desperate and more annoying to drive up ad rates.

*Even previously open platforms like Reddit, Pinterest and Twitter are closing in.

For example – see basically every recipe website ever. As Google and Pinterest strive to keep more users on their sites, serving their ads…recipe content websites have become more desperate to monetize what little traffic they do have…leading to horrendous car salesman-like levels of unusability.

Users Killed What Could Have Been

Users want convenience above all. For all the pulling that Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, etc are doing…users are also pushing attention there…because it’s convenient.

For example, I have no idea what to say to website owners about voice search. And anyone who does have a “strategy” for voice search – I call B*S* on. Users want it. I want it. It’s amazing, but you can’t build a publishing business or profitable content marketing strategy around it.

1,000 True Fans Is Still True

That said, the future will always have a small, tough, but sustainable spot for Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans.

On balance, there has never been a better time to run a website or online presence than right now. If you have a good product, service, or concepts, there are likely 1000 True Fans that can & will support your work. Sure, there were “Golden Ages” of organic Facebook traffic, organic Google traffic, etc…but those eras had serious issues and limitations as well.

There Is No Magic Bullet

There is no sure-fire way to build a successful website. I’ve been working in digital marketing for years now. I know that in SEO, there used to always be a sure-fire tactic that was working. Now, there are tactics that work marginally better than others. There are things that you can focus more or less on…but the magic secrets are gone.

Same goes with Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, etc. The only real magic bullet now is hard creative work, constant research, careful planning, constant learning…and a whole lot of luck.

Opportunity Costs Are Very Real

When you choose to do Action A instead of Action B, there is the cost of doing Action A plus the cost of *not* doing Action B.

In a world of limited marketing resources, choosing to create social media posts means that you are also missing out on *not* creating blog posts.

Back in the world where everything online was growing, you could afford to miss one big opportunity for another…because most every opportunity was growing.

Now, mobile devices are ubiquitous. Desktop traffic is actually declining. And many social networks have reached maturity. Choosing one over another or bouncing around chasing “shiny objects” has real costs above whatever you are paying for your main investment.

Even with aspects of running your website, many website features are standardized and predictable. There are opportunity costs to choosing what part of your site to improve or leave alone.

Lookalikes Killed Privacy

I wrote a guide to tracking marketing data on your website. I actively use any & all data to help clients & aid my own research. But on this website & my personal website, I’ve deliberately removed all tracking tags except for Google’s. Why?

Well, sure, there’s the token virtue and hand-washing hypocrisy part of it.

But also, I found that my own retargeting & tracking did not matter in comparison to the massive opportunity presented by lookalike audiences and the data gathered by the big platforms.

Because here’s the thing about “big data” that people miss. It’s that individuals do not matter. All that matters is the sample size.

Every single person has a lookalike about some part of themselves. No matter how special or unique you think you are; no matter how carefully you avoid trackers or cookies or online ads, you can be personally marketed without any kind of tracking to due to lookalike audiences.

Here’s an analogy. Think about the world of DNA testing & genealogy. There are real fears & real consequences to having your DNA in a database. But protecting your own DNA is near-pointless. If a company (or government) knows the DNA from a couple cousins or aunts or uncles or grandparents or a sibling…then they know yours as well.

Lookalikes are the same. Even if Nate Shivar avoids all retargeting trackers, there are still enough people out there similar to me that will allow marketers to reach me if they want.

So – what does this mean? It means that whether you have a large audience data set or not, you can still think creatively about how to profile & reach your audience.*

*that is – until privacy can get solved in a meaningful way. Be sure to tell your political leaders that this needs to be solved at the national / international level. Individual choice & freedom in this issue is a moot point.

Alternative Channels Matter

In investing, modern portfolio theory says that diversification pays for itself because it maximizes expected return even if it fails to maximize actual returns.

In other words, you may know that Investment A is your best bet. But you should still make Investment B as well, because you can’t be sure that Investment A will be amazing.

Same with traffic sources and alternative channels and even website tools.

You may be pretty sure that your priority is the right one. But in a world of uncertainty, alternatives are good to have.

Now – going back to Opportunity Costs Are Real – you have to be honest with the tradeoffs. If you spend time on YouTube in addition to Google Search, you might lose some in Google. But you also won’t lose it all if you have some investment in YouTube.

Web Hosting Is a Utility

Amazon made the technology of hosting files a commodity service. Web hosting companies no longer compete on technology. In fact, they don’t want to compete on technology…because Amazon / Microsoft / Google win on that. Web hosting companies make money on what they provide in addition to basic hosting.

That can include support, onboarding, graphical server management tools, bundled 3rd party services, etc. But the main point is that if hosting is a utility – then anybody can offer it as a feature…not just web hosting companies.

There will be even more plugin makers, software makers, theme designers, tool makers, etc that will simply bundle & resell hosting as a feature.

Website Builders Are a Feature

I remember when I used my first drag & drop builder in the early 2000s with Homestead. It was a “WYSIWYG” builder. And it was terrible. Actually, every WYSIWYG builder was terrible…until just a few years ago.

Now…developer and marketer snobs will turn their nose up at drag & drop…but the software is actually pretty good….and it’s only getting better.

If drag & drop were microwavable pizzas in the 2000s, they became Domino’s in the 2010s…and now they are more like Mellow Mushroom pizza. Nothing like your local sit-down Italian haunt…but consistent and really solid.

All this means is that the core website building software can be a feature bundled with everything else rather than a stand-alone business. That’s why Google, MailChimp, Shopify, HostGator, InMotion, GoDaddy, and a dozen other non-website builder companies are bundling free website builders that otherwise compete directly with Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, etc.

SEO Is a Tactic

For years, the “contract” between publishers and Google was that Google gets to copy & analyze copyrighted content in exchange for free organic traffic.

If publishers made their content easier for Google to copy & analyze (i.e., “search engine optimization“), then Google would reward them with even more free organic traffic.

It created a virtuous cycle that worked for everyone. Sure, Google had to deal with publishers who took advantage of loopholes. And publishers had to waste some time dealing changing guidelines and features (remember Author markup?).

But on whole, the deal worked for everyone.

In fact, you could build an entire marketing strategy around the deal. That’s how entire businesses got built. Help Google and they’ll help you.

But, that deal has broken down. As Google focuses more on users and advertisers – publishers will get left out more and more. And as SEO as a strategy goes away, it will really only remain as a tactic in a broader strategy of organic traffic from all the places.

IRL Original Content Is Underestimated

The Internet makes copying & sharing more convenient than ever. In fact, it’s so convenient that we often forget that there are other sources of information in the real world.

But even more so, we forget that information in the real world is the source for information on the Internet.

In fact, this instinct is true not just among social media users but also among serious website owners and professional journalists.

Because of this instinct for convenient & copyable information – there is a growing premium on original information gathered from the real world.

Anyone can get a screengrab from Google Earth. But not many people will take a picture of a location. And which is more useful & unique?

Anyone can get a screengrab from social media…but not many people will go an compose a proper photo in context. And which is more useful & unique?

Anyone can make a drawing or an illustration…but not many people will make an IRL video or photo sequence. And which is more useful & unique?

On my websites & my clients’ websites – I am continually amazed at how often original, IRL images get copied, cited & linked-to. It’s amazing.

It’s no magic bullet, but it’s the most magical of all bullets that SEO’s & website owners have.

IRL Data Is Underestimated

On a related note, data copying and analyzing is easy. IRL data gathered from real people is harder and harder to gather and share.

That’s what makes the US Census so invaluable. But that’s also what makes companies’ internal data so valuable and why some companies use it for incredible link building & PR efforts.

Above & Beyond Pays Off Even More

Regardless of hosting platform, marketing toolset, marketing strategy or collection of tactics – going above and beyond the competition will provide winner-take-all dividends.

Onward!

The Internet & globalization continually push towards sharper and sharper winner-take-all markets for money & attention. And they also increase the long-tail of choice. And technology is continually disrupting itself. Until those core forces are fully understood, you have to play the game.

Focus on using products that you understand and match your goals. Focus on marketing strategies based on audiences that you understand and match your financial goals.

Onward!

“”

How To Advertise on Quora Effectively

Quora Ads

Quora Ads are one of the myriad options for advertising online. Like eBay, Reddit, and LinkedIn, Quora is one of those Web 2.0 properties that feels like it should be dated, but remains surprisingly relevant.

In fact, while Quora is itself has been around since 2009, Quora’s self-serve Ad Platform only rolled out in 2016.

Quora has 300 million active users and some interesting reasons to advertise.

Why Use Quora Ads

First, you have access to both social data and search intent.

Like Pinterest and Reddit, you can reach people based on demographic and psychographic data AND you can reach people who are actively searching for answers OR you can layer both to run hyper-targeted campaigns to people who are both your target customer and actively researching.

Second, you have access to lots of qualified organic traffic. Quora has plenty of internal usage. But their organic search traffic is their secret weapon.

Due to their brand and enormous amount of content, they rank well in Google & Bing for highly qualified search terms. I’ve written how you can use Quora for “barnacle” SEO and content.

But – that approach requires work. With Quora Ads, you can pay to jump to the front of the line. Advertise on pages that rank well for target keywords.

Quora Ad Alternative

Third, you get to define best practices & deal with lower competition.

Every big brand and agency is on Google & Facebook. Best practices and budgets are well-defined. Quora requires more work and thought to succeed.

I’ll share my experience in this post, but my main takeaway is that there is no “right” answer. Quora is still wide-open and open for testing & experimentation. If you have more time / skills than budget, Quora is a great place to go.

How To Setup Quora Ads

Quora has done an excellent job with self-service. The platform is straightforward and comes with a surprisingly useful email course.

To get started, all you need is some basic business information.

Within your Ads Manager Dashboard, you can Manage Ads, setup a Quora Pixel, manage your retargeting audiences, and setup email reports.

Whether you setup an ad campaign or not, I highly suggest that you immediately implement your Pixel, dabble with Audiences and setup a couple curated Email Reports.

Quora has a the familiar menu of retargeting audiences. Standard setup is for Website Traffic.

In the next step, you’ll setup your Quora Pixel to tag visitors. You can pre-segment your Website Traffic to make retargeting a bit easier.

3 Quora Remarketing

If you have a lot of educational content on your site, I would start with that segment. Quora is a common research tool, especially with high-consideration purchases. If you can reach users doing intensive research across platforms, you’ll be less likely to lose them.

Additionally, once you’ve built an audience, you can create a Lookalike Audience.

This feature is huge because you can reasonably expand your reach across Quora to reach someone who you *know* is familiar with your brand.

Remember how I mentioned that Quora is hybrid social / search? This is where that power comes in.

For example, imagine you are recruiting entry-level engineers out of college.

You have the ability to tag visitors to your site, and then reach them throughout Quora whenever they are asking career related questions.

Plus – you’ll get insight into the types of questions that you your audience asks. This feeds back into a successful content strategy based on data that *only* you have access to.

Lastly, if you have permission, you can upload a list of current contacts to rebuild your existing customers within Quora.

It’s a lot of work, but for high consideration campaigns, it’s worthwhile.

Like any & all retargeting strategies – Audiences can be creepy, invasive, and sometimes illegal in the European Union without explicit consent.

Most people either consent or live in jurisdictions that do not require explicit consent. These tools do exist and are worthwhile for many businesses. Retargeting is here to stay. The key is to keep it classy. Time, thoughtfulness, and testing creates the best outcome for advertisers, publishers, and customers.

Email Reporting is straightforward. But I would set the settings you like so that you actually view the reports rather than automatically deleting them.

4 Quora Email Reports

Now you’ll need to set your Quora Pixel, which is the snippet that “fires” on your webpage to track website visitors.

The setup depends on your website, but you’ll need to place it wherever you have your Google Analytics tag.

5 Quora Pixel

Now you can get started on a campaign! Head to Manage Ads and select your objective.

6 Quora Ads Create Campaign

If you select Conversions, you’ll need to select a conversion type to pass to your Quora Pixel. You’ll also have to manually tag any actions (like Add to Cart).

Conversion Tracking is accurate and can be worthwhile. But unless you are running large campaigns, some of this Conversion Tracking might not be worth the effort.

8 Quora Ads Conversions

For my campaigns (and most advertisers), I use the Traffic objective. But I also tag all of my ads so that I can track conversions within my existing Google Analytics setup.

9 Quora Ads Objective

Once you’ve created your Campaign objectives, you’ll need to set up a new Ad Set.

Ad Sets each have their own targeting and bids. After setting up an Ad Set, you’ll write individual Ads for each ad set.

But Ad Sets are where the fun really happens.

You have 4 primary targeting methods. I’ll cover each below. But the short version is that you can do –

  • Topic Targeting – Target content that falls within a category regardless of user interest.
  • Question Targeting – Target specific questions on Quora regardless of topic or user.
  • Audience Targeting – Target your audiences everywhere on Quora (see above).
  • Interest Targeting – Target people who are interested in a topic regardless of content.

After that, you can choose several secondary targeting methods. You can focus your ads by Location or Device. You can also exclude specific questions or audiences (ie, people who have successfully purchased from your site).

10 Quora Ads Targeting

Topic and Question Targeting are my favorite options. They both target based on content not the user.

When you are looking to expand reach or target based on intent – this is the option that you should use. Topic Targeting lets you quickly target a bunch of questions quickly.

The key to Topic Targeting is to provide Quora with a relevant but broad set of keywords. There’s a bit of an art to it, but be sure to play around with different combinations before committing to a set of Topics.

Additionally, make sure you go and manually explore those Topics to vet the questions, the likely audience, and and related Topics that you are missing.

11 Quora Ads Topic Targeting

But if you have time, the best targeting option is Suggested Questions.

With this option, you can advertise with specific ads on specific questions.

From a purely data perspective, this targeting option is the only place to get Weekly Views stats for Quora questions, which can help your content marketing efforts separate from any paid campaigns.

13 Quora Question Ad Suggestions

Interest Targeting targets the user rather than the content that they are looking at. This option is great for casting a wide-net to reach your audience everywhere on Quora.

However, note that you’ll reach them even when they are looking at irrelevant questions. This option is great to layer with other options (like exclude questions). Be careful using it alone though.

12 Quora Ads Interest Targeting

There are also options for targeting an existing audience and also a Broad Topic option.

After selecting your targeting with exclusions and bids set, you’ll need to create your actual ads.

Quora provides lots of space and encourages “content-like” ads. They want complete sentences that are relevant to your targeting. They are not great for hard-sells, but pair *very* well with custom landing pages or educational content.

Be sure to add UTM parameters to your landing page URL to effectively track visits throughout Google Analytics.

 

14 Quora Ad CreationThat’s how you setup Quora ads. But keep in mind that the magic is in customized ads, landing pages, targeting and constantly improving each metric.

That said – how do Quora ads perform “out in the wild”? I’ve run a few campaigns for myself and for clients. Here’s the results of my most recent campaign.

My Experience with Quora Ads

Now – I almost exclusively use Question Targeting for my Quora ads. I also commit to spending probably too much time on research for my small campaigns (although some of that research gets re-used for content campaigns).

The campaign highlighted below was a fairly small content promotion campaign. I had a new piece of content that I wanted to promote without traditional, manual outreach.

I found several questions that aligned with the content. I devoted around $100 to promotion.

Quora Campaign Results

This campaign aligned with the common takeaways from my Quora campaigns.

  • The impressions were high for such a niche topic – and surprisingly consistent day to day.
  • The CTR was uncommonly high for online ads.
  • Conversions were solid.
  • Cost per click was a bit higher than expected, but nowhere near Google Ads territory.

Additionally, I did not have to filter or account for a lot of spam (I’m looking at you, Google Display and Facebook…).

My numbers in Google Analytics lined up perfectly with Quora. Engagement was high and as I’d hoped.

Quora Ads Experiment

All in all, this (and all my campaigns) go back to the same general takeaways for Quora Ads.

  • Quora Ads are hard to roll out “at scale” but are very effective with the right amount of time devoted to set up & research.
  • They are great for high consideration ads and great to reach new, smart audiences.
  • You have to have the right website content to provide good, engaging landing pages.
  • Often small campaigns are worthwhile simply for the data.

In many ways, they remind me of both Pinterest and Reddit Ads. They aren’t for everyone, but certainly a solid opportunity for the right advertisers.

Next Steps

Quora Ads are not for everyone. There’s not a ton of inventory. To do it well, you really need to spend some time on your research and ad setup.

However, in an increasingly crowded and expensive online ad market, the market represents a solid opportunity.

At the very least, you should go set up an account and grab the Quora Pixel to build an audience.

From there, you can reach you existing users on yet another platform. You can expand your reach based on small tests and the time you have to research interests.

If you found this article useful, please link, share or bookmark. Happy advertising!

The post How To Advertise on Quora Effectively appeared first on ShivarWeb.

“”

Webbased.com: An Alternative To Website Builders

webbased

As a reviewer of website builders, you might say I have a vested interest in promoting the main idea undergirding the DIY website builder: The notion that anybody, given access to inexpensive online editing tools, can create a perfectly functional website for their business or for themselves. However, there are plenty of reasons why a prospective website owner might seek to go another route. Perhaps you want more functionality out of your website than Squarespace or Wix can provide. Or maybe you simply have more pressing business or personal priorities than personally creating the website you want.

An obvious alternative to using a website builder is to hire a web designer to create your site. Sadly, this option is out of the reach of anybody who doesn’t have thousands of dollars (or more) on hand to spend on a website. That’s where intermediary web companies like Webbased.com come in. Webbased.com is a company that offers a variety of web services, including web design, SEO, support, and marketing. It’s meant to be kind of a one-stop shop for getting your website created, marketed, and monetized. Let’s take a closer look at what they have to offer.

Webbased.com: Services Offered

Here are the service packages webbased.com has to offer:

  • Web design services
    • 5 to 15 unique page designs
    • $99/month to $249/month
  • Local search engine optimization
    • Get found by local clients
    • $299/month to $999/month
  • National search engine optimization
    • Boost your search rankings in Google, Yahoo, and Bing
    • Get a marketing dashboard with stats
    • $698/month to $2978/month
  • Pay-per-click management (eCommerce)
    • ECommerce PPC management — best for businesses with products with SKUs
    • $158/month to $298/month
  • Pay-per-click management (local)
    • Increase brand exposure in a specific geographic area
    • $218/month to $1480/month
  • Pay-per-click management (national)
    • PPC management services
    • $478/month to $3198/month
  • Pay-per-click management (retargeting)
    • Boost your ROI by re-engaging previous users
    • $158/month to $398/month
  • Animated video explainer
    • Boost your conversion rates with explainer videos
    • $199/month to $529/month
  • Video production services
    • Get videos made for any marketing purpose
    • $249/month to $625/month
  • Social media management
    • Social media team manages your social media presence
    • Detailed auditing and reporting
    • $199/month to $999/month
  • Logo design services
    • $299 (one-time charge)
  • Landing page design
    • $229/month
  • WordPress maintenance and hosting
    • Get maintenance, security, and updates for your WordPress site
    • $44.99/month to $99.99/month
  • WordPress optimization and performance tuning
    • $99/month to $369/month
  • WordPress support and help
    • Get updates and maintenance on your WordPress website
    • $59 (one-time charge)
  • Merchant services
    •  Better rates than PayPal and Square
    • Fully integrated into your site
    • $20/month

Additionally, if you have an existing business website, webbased.com will analyse your site, free of charge, and send you a report assessing your site based on a number of metrics: speed, security, page views, conversion rate, mobile-compatibility, and SEO.

Here’s webbased’s full list of services, detailing everything that’s included in their product packages along with pricing.

Customer Service & Support

Webbased.com provides a plethora of ways to get in touch with a company rep. In addition to the standard email contact form, there’s a phone support line and live chat. There’s even a chat room you can join between the hours of 9:30 AM and 2:30 PM Pacific in which you can chat with Webbased’s developers about any issues you might have with your website.

Reviews Of Webbased.com

On its website, webbased.com actually directs users to review their services on both Google and Yelp — a sign of confidence in its products. The reviews posted by customers on these two sites are almost entirely complimentary, with users praising both the services offered and the customer support they received. One user’s opinion is fairly representative:

They provided creativity, valuable feedback, analysis and guidance in designing our logo, website, SEO optimization and producing our live company video.

The users with complaints get replies from the company — it’s always good to see companies responding in good faith to the complaints of their users.

Final Thoughts

Not everybody has the time and/or patience to build a website on their own, and it’s not easy for the layperson to personally negotiate with individual web designers over the particulars of services and pricing. Services like webbased.com help give aspiring webmasters the ability to select from a menu of services to get exactly what it is they need in a website. If you feel like passing on the heavy cyber-lifting to a team of experts, webbased.com is worth investigating.

The post Webbased.com: An Alternative To Website Builders appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

How to Promote Your Website Online (for free!)

How To Promote Your Website

So you want to promote your website online…for free, preferably.

By now, you probably know from experience that the “build it and they will come” philosophy is flawed. You can have great content — in fact, you need at least “good” content — but unless you know how to promote it, your site is a ghost town. But you also don’t have the budget to go straight to advertising online.

You don’t need a grab bag of tips and tricks. You don’t need best practices to “go viral”. Instead – what you need is an actual process to follow that you can consistently do – to create a “flywheel effect“.

Here is an exact, step-by-step strategy that I recommend to anyone who wants to promote their website online. The specific details vary, but it’s a pretty tried and true path for anyone who wants to promote their website.

Start with Definitions & Goals

Before you do anything, you’ve got to start with the foundation: what are you trying to achieve?

Aside – “making money” or “getting customers” does not count. The key is to get specific. Quantify your marketing in other words.

This is the part so many people either get stuck on or skip entirely. Usually, website owners just want to dive in and start doing, doing, doing.

While getting your site out there and testing is great, you need a balance. It’s just as important to test with the right methods as it is to collect a ton of data and learn from it

There are three things you need to figure out before you dive in:

  • what you’re promoting
  • who you’re promoting it to
  • how much you can actually spend on promotion

Let’s break them down.

What You’re Promoting (Your Product)

What is it that you’re actually offering/promoting on your website? A product? A service? Valuable content?

Whatever it is, you need to be able to define it and sell the value. What makes you different from the million and one others out there?

Remember, this doesn’t need to be your life’s mission. In fact, it shouldn’t be. You need to define your product in a clear and concise way. Keep it simple and to the point  — and make sure you emphasize why you’re different.

Who You’re Promoting It To (Persona)

A persona is marketing jargon for a profile of your target audience and having one is crucial to your marketing.

Before your start promoting your website, you’ve got to know who you’re actually promoting it to. What do they want? What problems do they have? How do you solve those problems?

Create 2-4 personas for your brand that outline your ideal customers. Be as descriptive as possible by including things like job title, favorite device, payscale, main frustrations and problems, end goals, what they do in their spare time, etc. Use this detailed guide by Moz to guide you through the process.

Remember that your personas don’t have to be the end all be all. The focus here is to define your initial target market that’s small enough you can effectively reach them but large enough to get some sales and feedback to polish what you’re offering (your product/website/brand).

Nearly every business started this way (think about how Facebook started by targeting college students).Here’s a podcast episode explaining this concept[skip to the ~11 minute mark].

How Much You Can Spend on Promotion (Time & Financial Budget)

Thinking there’s no overhead online is lethal. You’ve got to put real numbers behind what you’re doing. Marketing costs money or time… so put real goals in place.

Outline your budget, even if it feels arbitrary. Define your product/services costs, profit margins, and what kind of marketing spend gives you a positive return. Here’s a more extensive post on quant-based marketing.”

Lay the Foundation

Once you have your goals and definitions laid out, it’s time to lay the foundation. While “build it and they will come” is a flawed philosophy, once you start getting them to come, you need to be sure what you’ve created is decent and captures data.

This is divided into three steps:

Website / Destination Set Up

To promote anything online long-term*, you need a decent website. Whether you’re an ecommerce business who needs an online store, a local business with a brick and mortar store, or an educational website that needs a place to publish content, a decent-looking website will put you ahead and allow you to do more with your brand and marketing.

*Aside – when I say long-term – I mean that you don’t want your project compromised by the whims of a platform (I’m looking at you, Facebook Pages and Google My Business). For short-term projects, plenty of people do well with marketplaces like Amazon and Etsy while content publishers do great with a good email marketing platform.

If you don’t have a website yet, I recommend setting your own website up with a common, well known software like WordPress and hosting it on your own hosting account. I have a simple guide to doing that from scratch here. There is some learning curve, but it will provide maximum versatility.

For ecommerce shops, I recommend either using a high-quality hosted ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce or set up an ecommerce website with WordPress and WooCommerce.

If you have a website and know it’s a mess, use this guide to help you clean it up.

Create Focused Pages

Depending on what you’re goals are, creating focused pages can be an essential part of conversion.

Focus pages are landing pages that target a very specific need, but they don’t have to be complex. They are simply pages that visitors can land on and take a specific action (buy your product, sign up for your service, etc.)

Why use landing pages? Because nobody cares about or even sees your homepage. Your homepage is for people who already know who you are and are just navigating around to find what they already know exists.

Landing pages, on the other hand, are for new (or returning) visitors to land and convert (AKA take whatever action you want them to take). These pages should target what your audience is searching for on a granular level.

For example, if you’re an ecommerce business, you’d want to create product pages targeting specific product information (i.e. Blue Swimwear) or a specific audience (i.e. Swimwear for Women Distance swimmers).

For service-based businesses, you’d want to create service pages targeting what your customers are searching for (i.e. Atlanta Dentist or Root Canal Services)

For sites that are focused on content creation, think about pages that can organize your posts into broader topics and orient readers who land deeper into your site and encourage them to take additional actions (like reading more or subscribing). Use this guide to using category and tag pages in WordPress to accomplish this.

If you have way too many idea – then think about how to organize your site by topic / keyword.

Set Up Analytics

Before you start promoting your website, you need a way to capture data through an analytics platform. There are tons of options, but Google Analytics is the go-to solution (it’s also free).

If you’re unclear on what Google Analytics actually does, start here.

Depending on what you’re promoting (see above), you’ll want to set up specific goals. For example, if you’re an ecommerce website, you’ll want to make sure you have Ecommerce checkout set up. If you’re a local business, you’ll want to track thinks like clicks to call and contact form completions. Use this guide to set up call tracking in Google Analytics.

You should also link Google Analytics to Google AdWords and set up a retargeting audience with Google Analytics. And lastly, you should set up a Facebook Ads account and place a retargeting (audience pixel) cookie on your website.

Work on Getting Traffic

Now that you have the foundation down, it’s time to get people to your website. This where a lot of people get way too detailed… way too fast. Why?

Because not all marketing channels operate at the same speed. They’re also not all used the same way — they have different strengths and weaknesses. They complement and supplement each other instead of compete, and it’s all about how you use them together.

For example, the US Navy’s main war-going unit is the Aircraft Carrier Group. But it’s not just made up of an aircraft carrier. Instead, it’s a grouping of different types of ships that all do different things at different speeds so that the whole group together is nearly invincible.

A lot of business owners want to start with SEO or with a fully fleshed out social strategy. To keep to the analogy, that’s like sending your battleship and aircraft carrier to scout out for the rest of the group.

Bad idea. Battleships (aka SEO) and Aircraft Carriers (Social) take forever to get going and to turn. Save those until you know where you’re going. You do not want to invest hours and hours and tons of resources and thought into SEO and Social if you have no idea if they will pay off.

Start with channels that can speed up, slow down and change direction at will. That means 3 things: direct outreach, community involvement, and paid traffic, specifically AdWords Search Network.

Testing with Direct Outreach

It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of promoting something because you think it’s amazing. But here’s the thing — what if no one wants it?

Too often, we make assumptions for our audience. So before you go into a full-blow promotion plan and start running ads, emailing everyone on your list, and working on your SEO tactics, it’s good to get some validation.

Start by soliciting feedback from a small, targeted group. These should be people who are active in your niche, would ideally collaborate with someone like you, would give you some feedback and maybe even promote your website for you.

What we’re really doing here is finding complementary marketing “parents” — think of other bloggers and businesses your target audience also visits. There are infinite ways to do this process. The key piece is to find someone who shares your interests or has a need that you can fill. Here are some examples.

Friends & Family

Ok – friends and family will often be interested by default. They won’t be able to provide useful feedback. But here’s the thing – you are probably friends because you share interests. Additionally, you might share interests with your family.

Those family and friends are a great place to start with your outreach. It doesn’t mean spamming your Facebook page. It does mean not being afraid to show off your work personally to interested friends and family.

Individual Brands / Influencers

I hate the term “influencers” – and I don’t think that you can or should compete with big brands for social media celebrities. Instead, you should use your own advantage as a DIY website owner (rather than social media manager) to find people that you respect and listen to. Figure out what they need / want. Do they need co-promotion? Topic ideas? Reach out and pitch.

Individual Bloggers / Site Owners

A blogger of any size & influence will be deluged with pitches from big companies. Again – use your advantage as an actual site owner to go around the social media managers to reach small and up and coming bloggers. Use your agility to solve problems that agencies cannot quickly solve.

Journalists

Journalists have an infinite black hole of content that they need to fill. They are always looking for a story (not a product). If you can create a story based on your insider expertise, then you should pitch them. Keep it short, keep it relevant. Start with small sites and use successes to pitch bigger publications.

The good example is a local package delivery service pitching a story about “porch pirates” to news outlets in Philadelphia.

Complementary Business Owners

Your product probably pairs with other companies’ products. Swimwear pairs with beach resorts. Festivals pair with beverage companies. Wood refinishing pairs with historic preservationists. The list is infinite.

Find businesses where you can co-promote.

Vendors

Your vendors want you to succeed…because your success means more sales for them. Pitch your vendors on co-promotions.

Then, get to emailing and messaging. Send them to your landing pages or content piece to buy, subscribe, or review. Ask for feedback and referrals and keep notes!

Keep in mind that you are emailing people. It’s easy to get into a spammy quantity mindset. But remember that that a single, quality connection is worth way more than you can measure right now. Your goal is to get feedback and access. You cannot and should not make this a primary sales channel. Your goal is feedback to promote more effectively and more broadly.

Check out this case study or this post for even more detail.

Find Like-Minded Communities

To expand your direct promotion efforts means finding groups of individuals. And that means finding communities.

Communities can not only provide a lot more feedback – but you can also find opportunities to get sales.

The issue with a community is that you need to be a part of it. Nobody likes someone who shows up to promote rather than participate.

Even though you might need sales right now – you absolutely must set aside that need and look to the long-term.

Figure out what the community likes & needs. Provide that. Focus on being overly helpful rather than promotional. Here are some examples.

Industry Specific Forums

Whether it’s ProductHunt / HackerNews in tech or Wanelo for trendy shopping – there is an industry specific forum for everything. Find it and get involved.

Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups are super-accessible and cover topics on everything under the Sun. They are a great way to build an organic presence on Facebook now that business newsfeed organic reach does not exist. Use creative Facebook Open Graph searches to find the non-obvious ones.

Website Forums

Yes – website forums still exist. And yes, they can be extraordinarily powerful. Do your research and get in touch with moderators.

Blog Comments

Yes – people still read these. Set up alerts via Google or via RSS feeds and stay involved in relevant discussions on high-traffic blog posts.

Reddit & Crowdsourced Forums

Reddit is the world’s largest general forum – but everything from Kickstarter to Pinterest could technically be considered a forum. Again, find where your target audience hangs out. Focus less on teh actual platform and more on the people using it.

Amazon Comments

Ever noticed the “questions about this product” or the discussion sections on Amazon product? Yep – those have insane engagement…and provide an opportunity to piggyback on Amazon’s traffic. Look for complementary products / services to yours that your target audience is purchasing. Use your expertise to answer questions.

LinkedIn & Business Groups

This angle is similar to crowdsourced forums – but for B2B and vendor relationships. Discussions happen all over the place on the Internet. Everything from Slack to LinkedIn Pulse to IRC are open. They are all tools for people to connect. Think about who your people are and find where & how they talk.

Guest Posting

Do you know of high-traffic blogs that your target audience reads (not simply blogs in your industry)? Find out guest post requirements and go there.

Once you’ve found a channel that you feel comfortable with and “get” – focus on expanding your presence and being as helpful as possible. People will notice and talk.

Using Paid Traffic to Get Data

Jumping right into ads isn’t always the best approach for promoting your website. It can get expensive, especially for the return on investment. However, our goal here is a bit different.

Using some (even on a small budget) search advertising can be a great way to get data faster. Instead of relying solely on direct outreach and a content strategy that takes a few months to grow, we can get lots of data in a short amount of time by doing some advertising.

For a full breakdown of different paid advertising channels, see this guide about how to advertise your website online.

You should be doing a few different things with this data:

  • Looking at what keywords are driving conversions. AdWords gives you this information.
  • Looking at which landing pages (or content pieces) perform best based on your goals. How can you optimize those pages and use those findings to improve the ones that aren’t performing?
  • Determining which ad copy performs best
  • For ecommerce, identifying which types of offers do people find most enticing (i.e. free shipping, 20% off welcome discount, etc.)
  • Setting up retargeting campaigns – not generic “buy, buy, buy” campaigns but interesting retargeting ads that you can afford to do when your traffic is small. If you want to divert some paid budget to Facebook, follow this guide.
  • Once you have retargeting campaigns going, you should be looking at where your audience goes online. We covered this topic on this podcast episode.
  • Improving your ad campaigns in general

Understanding Organic Search

The world of organic traffic sources is wide and takes time. So while I won’t tell you it’s the best channel for immediate satisfaction, there are still some amazing results to be had.

For most, a successful SEO campaign would be a huge win due to the sheer volume of traffic that Google organic search can drive. Google processes over 3.5 billion queries per day and most of the clicks go to an organic result.

You’ll learn pretty quickly that in paid advertising, clicks for commercial keywords can be quite expensive. That’s a cost you don’t have to pay if you rank in the organic search results.

When you’re setting up your website promotion strategy, you’ll just have to know what it takes to get organic traffic and what it will take on your part to get it done.

SEO boils down to 3 components.

The first component is technical SEO.

Technical SEO is all about ensuring that Google/Bing bots can crawl and index your website effectively. It’s about making sure you’re not generating tons of duplicate content. Here’s “Technical SEO for Nontechnical Marketers”

The good news is that you are using WordPress or an HTML-based website builder (aka not Flash or Wix), you have the big barriers taken care of. THe same applies to ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Bigcommerce or a self-hosted store with WordPress + Woocommerce.

If you are already using a different platform, a technical audit might be the one SEO thing worth paying for. Mentioning a “stand-alone technical audit with recommendations” to an SEO expert can be valuable if you’re on a custom built site. Just don’t let them sell you on “ranking #1 tomorrow!”

If you are running WordPress, install WordPress SEO by Yoast and run through my guide for using it effectively.

If you are using Shopify or Bigcommerce, then your technical issues are 90% solved if you have it set up by the book (Shopify’s guide and Bigcommerce’s guide). You should just be sure to use their SEO-related toolset to implement your on-page content, which happens to be the second component of SEO.

The second component of SEO is on-page content and optimization

It is all about “targeting” the right keywords and ensuring that your website is laid out in a coherent way that is understandable by search engines and users browsing your website.

I wrote about the concept of keyword mapping and some basic on-page SEO concepts (like keyword research, title tags and meta descriptions, and using Google Search Console) previously.

Depending on what your goals are, there are a ton of different pieces of content that can bring in visitors. The goal is to bring in new people AND support sales. Don’t create keyword-stuffed content that won’t help customers on your website make a decision. Make the authoritative content that addresses problems, questions, etc of your market.

The great part about creating the absolute best content that you can find about everything your target market cares about related to your product is that it will naturally drive the third component of SEO – off-page factors.

“Off-page factors,” is the third component of SEO

This is SEO-speak for getting links, with the caveat that links are not all considered equal.

Sketchy links, the type that you buy for $5, can harm your website. However, quality links placed on a related or well-known website are the primary factor for getting better visibility in search results.

There are a lot of ways to get links. But the best ways that I’ve found for website promotion are:

  • Creating content that no one else has done well, and then promoting it. I wrote this guide to creating prequalified content. I’m a fan of this guide for the promotion angle as well
  • Hustle PR promotion – Find the blogs they read. Find the news websites they follow. Find the social media feeds they are involved with. Research and stalk every single one until you can craft a manual email pitch (see direct outreach above)
  • Get even more ideas in my guide to Ahrefs

Using Social Media

If SEO is your giant battleship, I think of social as your aircraft carrier. It’s easy to burn a lot of energy flying planes for no reason, but nothing gives you a tactical edge and far reach like your aircraft.

Social media experts make social out to be rocket science. It’s really not. Unless you started a business you know nothing about, you should know where your audience hangs out.

The key is to realize that you don’t have to be 100% present on every single social network. Effective social media is about having direct interactions where you build relationships and learn more about your audience.

So with that said, go ahead and claim your branding across all the various social networks, but focus on one or two that will generate an outsize of impact on your goals.

This is particularly effective for getting feedback on what you’re promoting. Similarly to direct outreach, you can use social media to solicit public feedback through forums like Reddit, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, etc. Just remember — it’s not about blasting your message out there for everyone and their mother. It’s about targeting the right audience. Find where they are and go there.

For the other profiles, learn how to automate them so you can have a presence without actually interacting. Set up alerts so you can “listen” even when you aren’t actively participating.

Lastly, remember you can make the process faster by paying to jump ahead. Just as you used AdWords or alternative channels to collect data on what works and what doesn’t for your website promotion goals, you can use social ads to test networks.

Next Steps

That’s the website promotion strategy I would map out for any website. It’s a long post, but it’s a plan you can implement quickly by breaking each section into small, doable steps.

Immediate next steps: start by defining your goals, personas, and revenue/budget. Then, put a plan in place that takes you through each phase of the process outlined above in a methodical manner. Go one section at a time and break each down into smaller steps you can follow without getting overwhelmed.

I’ve also written versions of this post for both local businesses and ecommerce websites.

The post How to Promote Your Website Online (for free!) appeared first on ShivarWeb.

“”

How You Can Advertise On OutBrain: My Experience & 4 Suggestions for Advertising With OutBrain

Outbrain IRL

Ever went to the finish of the article on the internet and seen &#8220From Around Web&#8221 or &#8220Recommended Content?&#8221 Normally the headlines are really shocking, and also the images eye-catching. Frequently they&#8217re just plain weird.

Individuals are most likely OutBrain ads, or Taboola ads &#8211 OutBrain&#8217s primary competitor. Technically though, they aren&#8217t ads. They are able to&#8217t be ads. OutBrain is really a &#8220content discovery platform&#8221 that are experts in putting compensated links where visitors searching for another thing to see.

OutBrain/Taboola ads are underused by advertisers since they’re new, a little odd, and difficult to do well. They’re neither ads nor caused by PR&#8230so they don&#8217t really squeeze into an average internet marketing model. However they are cheap and provide you with normally costly use of premium online publishers, plus they appear exactly when visitors searching for another thing to click.

I’d only heard tales of massive failure or of wistful potential. But never from anybody who’d really attempted out an offer. And So I ran a couple of campaigns.

Skip lower to my tips on making OutBrain/content discovery work, or continue studying in my walk-through of methods to market on OutBrain particularly.

What &amp Why of OutBrain

OutBrain calls itself a &#8220content discovery platform&#8221 and offers exactly the same kind of plan to different audiences. Publishers may use OutBrain to delegate their related posts functionality making money off readers who wish to keep studying something. Quite simply, OutBrain helps publishers earn more money whether people stay (and browse related posts &amp see more ads) or click and then leave (by which situation the writer earns money in the click to depart).

Advertisers may use OutBrain to obtain cheap use of premium publishers that have a big audience, but additionally premium ad rates. Advertisers can advertise on CNN.com in excess of $5 to $10+ per 1000 impressions (ie, not clicks) or they are able to advertise on OutBrain for under $.35 per click&#8230with a catch. Here&#8217s how OutBrain describes their professional services:

Increase your audience by disbursing your articles on other sites, where individuals are searching for something different to uncover. The crowd originating from Outbrain has already been in content consumption mode, therefore more engaged and more prone to stay longer.

The issue though is your advertisement can&#8217t be an advert. It needs to be content &#8211 or at best seem to be content. The lines here get quite fuzzy for publishers and advertisers, and OutBrain is very lenient on the type of content as lengthy as the website landing page isn&#8217t an upright up ad + offer.

In either case, the important thing takeaway is the fact that OutBrain is much like an advertisement network for content. You receive cheap incredible achieve as lengthy while you abide by the guidelines. The guidelines are odd, therefore it&#8217s helpful to determine who exactly is advertising on OutBrain, and what’s presently working.

Who Uses OutBrain?

Most OutBrain ads are an advertisement rate arbitrage play. Advertisers (who’re publishers themselves) pay $.XX for any click via OutBrain, after which monetize that visit by themselves site with premium ads that shell out $.YY.

For instance, any adverse health site might promote content on the general purpose site for $.15 per click because once that visit find their website, they are able to promote a higher dollar pharmaceutical ad. Within the image at the outset of this publish, someone would follow the link to &#8220Foods That May Cause An Irregular Heartbeat&#8221  &#8211 plus they find this:

OutBrain Advertiser Example with Pharmaceutical Ad

Or they might click another OutBrain ad and find a webpage just stuffed filled with poor ads.

Low Quality OutBrain Advertiser

&nbsp

As lengthy because the arbitrage is sensible, the publishers keep going with it. Publishers with OutBrain ads get compensated for clicks departing their website, and advertisers reach monetize the visitors with premium ads next. This tactic is OutBrain&#8217s bread and butter.

In my experience, the information on this tactic signifies a large chance. Arbitrage means the marketplace isn&#8217t working, then one is under-priced based on its value.

Quite simply, insufficient companies are benefiting from OutBrain. It shouldn’t be that cheap in accordance with display &amp CPC ads. And you will find some companies taking notice.

Example of content marketing on OutBrain

AllState is really a high margin business having a lengthy sales cycle. It really wants to position itself like a brand to depend on.

What is your opinion includes a better Return on investment &#8211 having to pay $10+ CPM for any advertising that informs people they are able to rely on AllState&#8230or a bit of content that gives a action plan to outlive winter together with your vehicle that will get actual clicks for $.20 per click?

I&#8217d like to see their Analytics, however i&#8217d bet on OutBrain. People finish up studying valuable content on AllState&#8217s website. May possibly not be an advertisement&#8230but the information essentially endures a large ad for AllState.

In either case, I&#8217d argue it&#8217s worth an evaluation a minimum of. You will get visits to your website using content you have for any rock-bottom ad cost.

How You Can Advertise On OutBrain

First, mind to OutBrain. You&#8217ll be registering for a free account to get traffic &#8211 err&#8230 &#8220Amplify Your Articles.&#8221

Signup for OutBrain

Second, you&#8217ll need to decide if you wish to advertise an Feed or perhaps a hands-selected bit of content. If OutBrain becomes a good funnel, the Feed can be very helpful. However for an evaluation, I&#8217d begin with the hands-selected campaign. Make sure your articles is prepared and all set. You are able to&#8217t edit the OutBrain headline &#8211 they pull whatever may be the title from the page.

OutBrain options for content discovery - hand-picked or RSS

Third, you&#8217ll set your financial allowance parameters. I personally use the network suggested amount for test campaigns just to get a great feeling of potential traffic. El born area will be the first factor to optimize following the test though.

Be cautious using the start dates. OutBrain comes with to approve your articles prior to it going live (may take a couple of days for approval). Should you&#8217re on the tight test budget, set an absolute start days a couple of days out with an finish date. Make sure to watch Analytics on individuals days.

OutBrain campaign dates and budget parameters

Not to mention, should you budget more per click, you&#8217ll increase website traffic.

OutBrain budgeting

4th, watch out for your approval email. That&#8217s it!

OutBrain final approval for campaign to run

Advertising on OutBrain is the fact that easy. However, certainly one of my concerns/complaints is the way little control you’ve within the settings. Your placements are automated. From my experience, OutBrain is actually proficient at finding appropriate placements&#8230but you don&#8217t possess the granular control that you will get with Google Display Network.

You’re able to Geo-target&#8230and that&#8217s about this. Here&#8217s exactly what the Dashboard appears like.

OutBrain dashboard options

Suggestions For Effectively Using OutBrain

OutBrain is a terrific way to get reduced visitors to your articles. But traffic that doesn&#8217t construct your business doesn&#8217t matter. Should you&#8217re a publishing based business, you might be able to create a experience ad rate arbitrage, but otherwise, listed here are 4 uses of OutBrain advertising to construct your company.

1. Choose Social Shares

Going viral isn’t luck. There&#8217s always something which will get the snowball moving. Whether or not this&#8217s a reddit submission, an e-mail for an editor, or perhaps a formerly built social audience, viral content starts somewhere.

Using some kind of compensated &#8220accelerant&#8221 could be a terrific way to attempt to engineer organic social shares. That&#8217s the entire reason for promoted Facebook posts and promoted tweets. OutBrain is really a cheap, and useful method to generate organic social shares. Unlike promoted tweets, etc &#8211 OutBrain ads don&#8217t seem like ads. They’re content that visitors &#8220discover.&#8221

The important thing though would be to make certain your articles is definitely shared. Make certain your Twitter cards have established yourself fix your Facebook markup be sure that the right share buttons are in the best place around the publish.

Appraise the audience you are able to achieve using the money spent on OutBrain. Even when your articles doesn&#8217t go viral, you are able to frequently obtain a really efficient overall CPM with relatively couple of social shares generated through the initial OutBrain campaign. This publish will help you dig in to the figures for that social share strategy.

2. Get Opt-ins having a bribe

The OutBrain audience is searching for happy to read. They aren’t searching to purchase (as well as OutBrain&#8217s ban on advertising), and they’re most likely likely to bounce.

However that doesn&#8217t imply that they wouldn&#8217t want to consider more details. Attempt to get email signups at the best or Facebook likes/Twitter follows at worst to be able to sell to them later when they might be thinking about buying.

They’re in your site simply because they much like your content (or at best your headline). Offer something complementary towards the content just to have their information. Measure OutBrain traffic according to whatever it might normally cost to obtain a register conversion.

This tactic will probably be the nearest to direct response while you&#8217ll get with OutBrain. However if you simply can effectively get emails together with your content, OutBrain will be among the least expensive methods to drive traffic towards your articles.

3. Develop a re-targeting audience

This tactic may be the compensated form of getting opt-ins. It&#8217s a method that you ought to have in position, even though you don&#8217t really use re-targeting ads. The last factor you would like when choosing OutBrain visitors are to possess a huge hurry of traffic to your website which in turn leaves, and completely forgets in regards to you without any method to help remind them with regards to you.

Google Analytics enables you to definitely fairly easily build audiences according to website landing page. You are able to build these audiences to complete retargeting ads later (ie, &#8220the ads that go wherever you go&#8221) in situation or additionally with other strategies.

Retargeting is usually cheaper and more efficient that the majority other kinds of compensated advertising because you&#8217re advertising to those who have already visited your website.

The bottom line is to construct an offer that&#8217s very targeted and never annoying for the OutBrain audience. It may be new content or perhaps a complementary product/service offer, however it won&#8217t work whether it&#8217s only a general campaign.

You are able to measure OutBrain with multi-funnel Analytics (ie, what conversions made it happen eventually help with). Or appraise the OutBrain + Re-targeting from the cost of purchasing targeted CPC or CPM ad. It&#8217s kind of like having to pay $.25 vinegar + $.50 sodium bicarbonate to unclog your kitchen area sink rather from the $3.00 small bottle of Drano.

4. User-testing for the content

Should you&#8217re spending considerable time and cash on premium content (or perhaps doing an offline print run), you&#8217ll need to know how you can edit it before launch. Since OutBrain is really cheap, it’s really a great place to check headlines and responses for your content &#8211 sort just like a soft launch with user testing for content.

Run multiple small campaigns with various headlines to check out click-through rate. Use a scroll depth wordpress plugin or adjust your bounce rate in the search engines Analytics so that exist a obvious picture of methods users communicate with the information.

Measure this OutBrain strategy in line with the enhancements and time saved together with your budget.

Next Steps

Build content in your site that&#8217s really interesting. Define what you would like to get away from OutBrain. Social shares? Email newbies? Branding? Choose how that content will make it happen &#8211 have you got a bribe for email newbies? Would the information make social sharers look great discussing it?

Mind to OutBrain.com, setup a free account, define test budget, submit content for approval, watch Analytics carefully following the content goes live. Evaluate the information and choose how to proceed after that.

The publish How You Can Advertise On OutBrain: My Experience &#038 4 Suggestions for Advertising With OutBrain made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

“”

Using Giveaways for Marketing: My Results, Ideas & Guide

Using Giveaways for Marketing

Using giveaways for marketing is really a attempted and tested idea both on and offline. Raffles, lotteries and giveaways are as old because the Bible. However in age social networking, giveaways have grown to be the following supposed silver bullet for marketing. Entire companies for example Rafflecopter, Gleam.io and KingSumo have began as much as help companies take full advantage of their giveaways. Even Amazon . com is within around the game.

The formula for managing a giveaway on the internet is pretty straightforward. You have to pay a specific amount for any prize. Offer an opportunity to win it free of charge simply by entering email addresses. Incentivize people to obtain more records by discussing it. The additional discussing results in a viral component that will get you more emails and entrants than you’d have with ppc ads or even more 1-to-1 organic promotion.

After this you award the prize, and begin e-mail marketing to any or all your brand-new subscribers. If the price of the prize is under you’d have spent obtaining them via ppc or any other channels, then it’s an advertising and marketing success!

There’s lots of types of giveaways that appear effective. At publishing time, the store Huckberry is partnering with Tim Ferriss on the huge space trip giveaway (and seems effective). However they happen daily in each and every industry &#8211 from copywriting to industrial safety nets.

But they are giveaways worthwhile? Exactly what does it decide to try run one? And what’s the easiest method to use giveaways for marketing? That’s what this informative guide is perfect for &#8211 let’s join in.

How You Can Operate A Giveaway

1. Understand the upside and drawbacks

As with every marketing initiative, not every giveaways succeed. The Web is really a crowded space with a lot of freebies. You’ll be able to spend a lot of cash on a giveaway&#8230and not create a cent or obtain a single subscriber. Attention still trumps free product.

Also its not all industry or website might have (or wants) massive discussing. A regular membership to some niche industry tool won’t drive thousands and thousands of tweets. Along with a product with mass interest just like a free iPad will neither stick out nor will stand before the best audience.

You should use spy tools to create expectations. Tools like BuzzSumo or Ahrefs allow you to explore share metrics from competitor or any other industries. Before you begin planning, go and appearance previous giveaways to create expectations.

Using Ahrefs to View Social Shares of a GIveaway

2. Understand the fundamentals &amp set goals

Define your objectives and particularly note the way the giveaway matches. This can be a key initial step, because giveaways are enjoyable. They may be easily judged a “success” once they weren’t according to business goals. Anybody offering freebies will probably be popular. You’re will make someone’s day, and that’s always fun and happy. It’s 100% fine that’s your main goal, but make sure to spell that out. In case your goal is to buy email subscribers or drive sales, then you need to spell that out in advance. Would you like emails? If that’s the case, what quality? Shares? Sales? If you would like awareness, how would you measure it?

3. Choose a crowd &amp Product

You might also need to determine what audience you’re pursuing &amp what product you’ll use to draw in them. For instance, if you’re a plumbing product business, would you like DIY homeowners or contractors? Give me an idea these to do? What’s the finish goal? The merchandise may determine not just how big audience, but the kind of audience you’ll stand before.

Were you to give away an iPad or perhaps an Apple Watch, you’d possess a nearly limitless audience. But, you’d in addition have a near impossible task getting attention. Since it’s neither proportional to you and your audience, the subtext is “strings attached.” There isn’t any reason behind anybody to concentrate.

Example of the many iPad giveaways

You should use the merchandise to visit after audiences which are complementary to yours, or connect much deeper with your personal audience. The merchandise, though, determines you skill.

For instance, should you giveaway a regular membership to Ahrefs (a sophisticated Search engine optimization tool), you’d obtain a specific kind of audience &#8211 advanced Search engine optimization specialists. You’d also limit your overall target market.

Were you to give away a Moz (a far more intro Search engine optimization tool) subscription or perhaps a website hosting account, you’d obtain a broader audience &#8211 general website owner and marketing people. You’d possess a bigger target market size, but you’d possess a bigger challenge allowing them to know of the giveaway.

Generally &#8211 the larger the target market, the larger the prize must be. The greater targeted the crowd is, the greater targeted (and coveted) the prize must be.

It must also be something which people prize, but additionally no essential work tool or daily necessity. Quite simply, the prize ought to be something people want, but not have a good need to buy. Collectibles or brand type products will be a good fit.

4. Define &amp Map a campaign Plan

Just like any content, you need some type of promotion plan. How can people learn about the giveaway? How would you generate interest? How would you generate trust (generally people know there’s always a catch)?

For those who have a current audience, you are able to certainly begin with them. But to grow towards the audience you do not presently have, you have look at other channels. Compensated Social could be a good fit, since this is where most discussing will occur anyway. Search for methods to target specific audiences that could be thinking about the giveaway. Do direct outreach to websites that complement yours. Find out if their readers would want to consider your giveaway.

Example Giveaway Outreach

Note the way the double announcement causes it to be much more relevant for that media site.

5. Set your infrastructure

Next, you’ll need some kind of software to gather records, run the competition, and select a champion &#8211 additionally to supplying a seamless and enhanced experience for users.

Technically, you can build this yourself.  But there are many plug and play solutions available. Rafflecopter is easily the most well-known. Gleam.io comes with an interesting product. Amazon . com includes a seamless setup to giveaway their goods. I finished up selecting KingSumo in my giveaways. I really like the creators’ other products, and it is super-simple to install and run. It’s lots of solid functionality, like adding records according to shares, referrals, etc additionally to solid technical abilities.

Whatever product you finish up selecting, the setup is rather straightforward. Here’s the KingSumo setup process.

5a. Buy and download the wordpress plugin here

5b. Install &amp activate the wordpress plugin, as with every WordPress wordpress plugin

5c. Configure your settings &amp Write the copy (situated in WordPress sidebar &#8211&gt Settings &#8211&gt KingSumo)

KingSumo Giveaways Backend

5d. Connect to an e-mail capture platform (for example MailChimp)

Connect KingSumo Giveaways to Email List

5e. Implement Analytics

Carry the UA code in the Admin section when logged into Google Analytics.

KingSumo Google Analytics Code

5f. Polish the look

Find the correct images, and plug it to your Giveaway.

5g. Preview &amp publish

Configure settings for those giveaways under Settings. Make use of the KingSumo link within the Dashboard to handle individual giveaways.

Launch &amp Manage KingSumo Giveaway

6. Run it!

Once you’ve printed your page, you decide to go to your promotion plan. Following the contest ends, KingSumo (or perhaps your product of preference) will automagically choose the champion. You allow final approval according to pre-announced rules and whether or not they confirmed email addresses address or otherwise.

KingSumo Giveaway Drawing

Inform the winners, deliver their prize and distribute a champion announcement.

You are able to run the URL via a discussing tool for example LikeExplorer.com to obtain final share metrics. Not to mention, you should check your analytics to determine total sessions as well as your email platform to determine quantity of emails posted.

My Giveaway Experience

That’s how you can operate a giveaway&#8230but what’s it like behind the curtain?

In December 2014, I ran a giveaway with this website with the 100th edition of my e-newsletter. My had 3 goals.

First, I needed to determine how giveaways when compared with other compensated channels. I’ve marketed in other niche channels, however they had little direct response success. For many channels, I’d pay greater than my target of $1 per subscriber for somebody to click over and register.

Second, I needed quality e-newsletter subscribers (also known as e-newsletter subscribers who opened up greater than 50% of my editions). I understood this could not occur simply by transferring giveaway records to my list with no direct opt-to the e-newsletter. I understand that’s the other giveaways do, however i wanted to possess a clean opt-in pitch. Used to do a e-newsletter register pitch in the champion announcement for everybody who opted-to the giveaway.

Third, I needed to improve brand awareness. Yes, that’s a intangible term. I’m generally not keen on “awareness.” There are several methods to (type of) measure it. I’d refer to it as success if Twitter engagement bending against my already growing baseline.

My product was some Seth Godin books. I did not choose it at random. I needed to stand before individuals who appreciated a particular kind of marketing &#8211 one which Seth Godin discusses. I additionally want those who are positively learning.

I needed something that people would like to have, but additionally never really buy. I additionally wanted something that had already generated a little bit of success already. Some Seth Godin books ticked every box. Actually, Noah Kagan of Okdork.com ran the very same giveaway the year before with higher success.

I did not have a lot of time for you to dedicate to manual outreach at that time, so my promotion plan leaned heavily on compensated.

I obviously promoted to my existing e-newsletter audience. Furthermore, I spent ~$100 on Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon correspondingly. Total plan for the giveaway was $400.

Twitter

Twitter Ads includes a really awesome feature known as Tailored Audiences. You are able to upload a summary of emails or Twitter handles (require minimum 100 users) and let Twitter will evaluate them. Twitter will produce a “Lookalike audience” for the campaign. The crowd will contain people much like the crowd you submitted. Similar to Netflix Suggested For You Personally for ads.

I crawled 100 Twitter handles of those who’d initially shared Noah Kagan’s Seth Godin promotion this past year (yes, that’s right at risk of Twitter&#8217s Tailored Audience Tos &#8211 make use of the tactic at the own risk).

Submitted that to Twitter to produce a lookalike audience. Twitter runs their formula from the similarities one of the individuals that group, then results in a Tailored Audience of recent individuals who match that profile. Approve and hang a financial budget.

Twitter Ad Results

Twitter drove 34 total (organic + compensated) records with $131 in spend.

Facebook

I made use of a interest and demographic targeting around individuals who were fans of Seth Godin, Noah Kagan and AppSumo.

In hindsight, I ought to also have cheated Facebook&#8217s Custom Audience feature. I set a financial budget, made ad variations, and launched that campaign.

Facebook Ads Results

Facebook drove 67 total (organic + compensated) records with $117 in ad spend.

StumbleUpon

According to these experiments with StumbleUpon, I figured a giveaway may well be a good fit. I’d will also get much more traffic for $155 to actually obtain a solid data set.

I produced an offer round the Entrepreneurship / Marketing interest bundle and allow it to launch.

StumbleUpon Ad Results

StumbleUpon drove 9 total records having a $100 spend.

Results

In my total spend of $503, I acquired 239 email records and 179 confirmed contestants. After I pitched them on joining my e-newsletter, I got… 1 new subscriber.

So my total price per email was $2.10 and total price per quality subscriber was $503.

Kind of a upright failure.

Along side it benefits though were plenty.

You actually could make someone’s day. There’s something to the thought of creating a logo and building &#82201000 True Fans&#8220. You cannot make data-driven business decisions around it (ie, if you should run more giveaways). But it’s an intangible which should be an unwanted effect from marketing campaigns.

I could interact with a number of my personal favorite marketing authors on social &amp email due to the giveaway.

I additionally really associated with my readers. Plenty of very kind emails, a whole lot feedback and plenty fun interactions that will not have otherwise occurred.

Suggestions for Better Giveaways

The standard marketing funnel places giveaways within the “Awareness” category. It’s an inexpensive method to capture emails and “move people using your funnel.” I am not sure it really works this way each time. Due to the fact people want the disposable factor doesn’t mean they need your productsOrsupport.

Sure, they’re “aware” of the product/service. But it’s a lot more like a “I know you exist” kind of awareness &#8211 not really a “I might want to consider your kind of services and products and today know you exist” type awareness. Quite simply, your email you receive will not be quality leads whatsoever or perhaps quality email opt ins.

From running my very own giveaway and observing others across industries, there is a couple of ideas that may improve how giveaways can be used for marketing.

Interact with Current Audience

Rather of attempting to create consideration/awareness among new audiences, make connecting together with your current audience a principal goal. It’s kind of a “reverse-funnel” however it works. Build karma together with your current audience with regard to building karma. Ben Chestnut of MailChimp describes this method very well here.

Relationship Awareness

Buying and promoting another person’s method is an incredible method to launch a company relationship. When you purchase your products as well as your marketing product around an rising creator and/or business, you open lots of complementary promotion possibilities.

Quite simply, you’re promoting an item within the giveaway. Select a product to advertise made by somebody that may also like to market your giveaway.

Social Viralness

You’ll sometimes find when generating social viralness for social viralness’ sake is really a useful. You just need to make certain the timing is appropriate, and that you’ve a full promotion plan.

For instance, if you’re approaching an item launch, there’s “wow, this brand is everywhere all of the sudden” effect. You’ve most likely subconsciously observed it whenever a favorite author is developing a brand new book.

All of the sudden, you’ll start noticing all sorts of social chatter guest posts in your favorite blogs interviews in your favorite podcasts, etc, etc. Giveaways are often a part of that formula.

It isn’t a stand-alone tactic &#8211 rather it’s another funnel that actually works together along with other channels to produce the “this brand is everywhere” effect. You need a powerful feeling of your audience, along with a built out launch plan, but giveaways could be a strong element of that plan.

Retargeting Audience

Produce a new data pool in the visitors landing in your giveaway page. Whether or not the giveaway records aren’t thinking about your present opt-in offer, there isn’t any reason you cannot return and achieve them with a brand new offer later on. A retargeting audience enables you to achieve that.

Plus, you could make use of the retargeting audience to produce new lookalike audiences in the search engines. And employ the e-mail submits for lookalike audiences in Twitter and facebook. They are frequently more hyper-targeted than interest or contextual targeting could be.

Email Captures*

This concept is straightforward &#8211 and essentially the standard online giveaway goal however with a caveat. Capture your email and subscribe these to your e-newsletter/autoresponder/blog update list. However, spell that out clearly within the giveaway. When the giveaway has ended, scrub unsubscribes and non-responders in the final metrics.

The concept here’s that individuals are lazy and frequently ambivalent. They could be mildly thinking about your e-mail marketing even if they’re mainly thinking about the disposable stuff. It is also more efficient to obtain individuals to opt-out than opt-in. Go on and clearly disclose what individuals are registering for. Allow them to opt-out when they don’t would like your marketing landing within their inbox.

Final takeaway is the fact that giveaways is definitely an effective marketing tactic, however they undoubtedly are not really a quick fix. They’re best used cleverly combined with other channels or in an effort to connect with your present audience.

Next Steps

Determine if a giveaway suits your present strategy and budget. Whether it does, set specific goals for that giveaway. Then spend nearly all your time and effort around the product choice and promotion plan.

Make use of a plug and play giveaway software like KingSumo, Gleam.io or Rafflecopter.

Lastly, appraise the results according to your set goals, and also have an after-giveaway plan (retargeting, etc) to take full advantage of it.

The publish Using Giveaways for Marketing: My Results, Ideas &#038 Guide made an appearance first on ShivarWeb.

“”