Your Biggest Challenge will Be Attracting Prospects to Your Sales Funnel
In a previous article, Make More Money by Creating an Effective Sales Funnel for Your Business, I wrote about how developing a sales funnel can make it easier to capture sales. The purpose of the article was to make you think about whether or not your sales process is optimized for making you money. After all, I’m pretty sure you didn’t go into business for yourself just for the fun of it but to generate a real income.
One of the most important and also most challenging aspects of the sales process is attracting people to your business. In fact, client attraction is the first part of the sales funnel. Without a steady stream of interested prospects, it is doubtful that you will be able to build the profitable business you want. Selling is a numbers game. The more prospects you talk to the higher the probability someone will make it to the end of the sales funnel.
Use a Blog to Feed the Top of Your Sales Funnel with Passionate Prospects
A blog is an effective way to grab the attention of your prospects and lead them through your sales funnel. First, it provides a space where people can get to know you and your company. It is difficult to know who to trust on the internet. Naturally, customers are going to be hesitant about giving their money to a person they’ve never met face to face. A blog will go a long way towards demonstrating that you are a real person who cares about them.
And speaking of demonstrations, a blog will also give potential customers a taste of the value you have to offer them. People love working with experts and a blog is the perfect platform for showing prospects you have the knowledge and experience they are looking for which will encourage them to take the first step in your sales funnel.
Other reasons why starting a blog is a great idea:
* A blog provides a central place for your leads to gather from all of your marketing efforts.
* It is easy to capture leads for your sales funnel from search engines by implementing SEO/SEM techniques which redirect traffic from Google, Yahoo, and Bing to your blog.
* You can then send that traffic to targeted sales pages designed to lead prospect through the sales funnel to the cash register ring.
* If they are not ready to buy, you can still capture their contact information with a mailing list.
Tips for Using the Blog to Get Customers to Go Where You Want in Your Sales Funnel
* Write informative articles packed with keywords designed to draw targeted traffic to your blog and down your sales funnel. Keywords are the words and phrases people in your target market are using to find information on a topic that is important to them. For example, someone looking for information about blogging may type in “how to start a blog” or “blogging tips”. There are a number of keyword research tools on the market that will help you with this including Aaron Wall’s SEO Keyword Tool.
* Direct your readers by ending each article with a call to action to take the next step in your sales funnel. After they finish reading your awesome article, your visitor may be left thinking, “Now what?” Don’t leave them hanging. Point them to the next step in your sales funnel whether that is signing up for your mailing list, buying a product, or contacting you. Without this prompt, your reader may wander off without ever looking at what you have to offer.
* Have individual sales pages for your products on your website that describes what you are selling and why they should hand over their hard earned money to buy it. Make sure you include relevant keywords so you can get traffic from the search engines and into your sales funnel. Additionally, you will be able to refer to these pages in your social media marketing campaign.
* Integrate a mailing list sign up form so you can capture the contact information of your prospects. Put it in a conspicuous place, like the sidebar, where readers can see it. Even better, there are plugins you can use that will allow you to put a mailing list sign up form at the end of every article on your site. Talk about in your face.
* Encourage your readers to subscribe to your RSS so they can get continuous updates. Make sure your social media profiles links are in an obvious place so they can connect with you on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
* Make sure you have advertisements for your products in obvious places on your site. This includes putting graphics in your sidebar and even in the articles themselves. Be careful not to clog your site with too many ads that it overpowers your content. Strive for balance.
* Lastly, don’t forget to have a personality. People connect to people, not companies. Be personable. Get involved in the communities of other blogs. The more people see you hanging out in their neck of the internet, the more comfortable they will be with you and the greater the chance they will enter your sales funnel and become a loyal customer.
Are you still not sure how a blog can inspire people to take a trip down your sales funnel? Give me a call. I’ll be happy to spend an hour with you talking about the many ways you can build your brand, get it in front of your prospects, and make more money with a blog. Also, don’t forget to sign up for your free copy of my social media checklist that will take you by the hand and walk you through what you need to do each day to build your fan base and fill your sales funnel.
Now is the Time to Start Building Your Email Marketing List
Of all the tools in your internet marketing toolbox, blogs are the most versatile. They can be used in a number of ways to help you make money in your business including community building, search engine marketing, and social media marketing. In fact, I would say that your blog should be “Home Base” and all of your other marketing campaigns should funnel to it.
Among other things, your blog can help you fill your email marketing list with the names of prospects hungry for your products or services.
The Email Marketing List is Where the Money is At
People who sign up for an email marketing list are basically raising their hand as potential customers who are interested in what you are selling. They are aware that you exist and they like what you have to say so much that they basically open the door for you to contact them on a regular basis.
This direct contact provides an opportunity for you to send them marketing materials designed to get them to make a purchase from you or through your affiliate link. If you haven’t started building your email list then I highly recommend you get on top of it as soon as you finish reading this article.
4 Simple Methods of Email Marketing List Building
* Place a call to action to sign up for list at the end of your articles – When people make it to the end of your article they are often looking for the next step. You risk losing the prospect and the sale if you fail to take control and direct them as to what you want them to do next. Place a note at the end of your articles to sign up for your email marketing list. To make things even easier, you can place the actual sign up form at the end of the article.
* Put a sign up form in an obvious place – Most people put the form in the sidebar. With so many things crying out for your prospects attention, it is probably a good idea to draw attention to it in multiple ways. This includes putting a banner ad in the header and/or footer directing the reader to the sign up form for the email marketing list as well as placing the actual sign up form at the end of your articles.
* Offer something for free in exchange for signing up for the email marketing list – Very few people will just give you their email address. You have to bribe them for it. Give away a useful tool such as an EBook packed with useful tips or access to exclusive training in exchange for their contact information.
* Use MailChimp or Feedburner Email signup for sending blog posts – Encourage people to sign up for email notification of new blog posts. Both MailChimp and Feedburner offer this feature which allows you to build a list of people subscribed to your blog.
Bonus tip: Use peel down or pop up – While annoying, using a peel down or pop up to direct your reader’s attention to your email marketing list is effective. However, do your best to maintain the user-friendliness of your blog. Otherwise people will be scared away.
Now just because your prospects are signed up to your email marketing list doesn’t mean you can start spamming them. Like anything else, you must build a relationship of trust with your prospects by providing high quality information they find useful. The quickest way to get people to unsubscribe to your email marketing list is to spam them with useless junk.
Need more internet marketing tips for building an email marketing list? Then contact me for a free consultation. I will show you some effective internet marketing tools you can use to build a profitable business. Are you on Twitter or Facebook? Then learn how to build an impressive following by downloading my social media marketing checklist for free using the sign up form in the sidebar. For more tips on building an email marketing list sign up for my RSS feed.
A Web Content Strategy Can Save Your Sanity
Even though social media marketing is getting most of the spotlight these days, blogging is still an effective way to reach out to your customers and sell them on your business. But unlike tweeting and posting status updates, blogging can consume a lot of time thinking of article ideas, writing the articles, posting them to your site, and then finding people to read them. Developing a web content strategy, however, can save you time, money, and sanity.
What is a Web Content Strategy?
A web content strategy is basically a fancy way of saying you should write out a schedule of articles you want to post to your blog. Developing a plan for your article writing is an excellent way to capitalize on your blog and your reader’s attention.
* You will be able to plan the topics you want to tackle for times when the articles will provide the most value to your readers. For instance, writing an article about saving money shopping during the holidays.
* You will avoid writer’s block because you will have a list of topics on hand to write about. If you write the articles in advance, you can create a pool of articles to pull from for when you can’t think of anything to write about.
* Posting on a regular schedule makes it easier to build a following who will know when to expect your articles to come out. Additionally, you’ll avoid falling victim to the aimless rambling that trap many bloggers.
* It’ll be easier to break up complex topics into a web series that keeps readers coming to your blog to read the next segment.
* You can create theme days where you’ll post specific types of articles. For example, you could post articles about social media marketing every Monday.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of developing a web content strategy is the fact that you can take a day or two to write all of your articles and set them up to be automatically posted on specified days. Then you’ll be able to devote your free time to working on other tasks that make you money. A content development plan also makes it easier to outsource your writing to a professional if you just don’t want to be bothered.
Tips for Developing Your Web Content Strategy
At minimum, you should produce your content schedule on a quarterly basis (every three months). Some bloggers develop theirs every six months and others, usually pro blogs, will plan out an entire year of content. This doesn’t mean you have to sit down and bang out a year’s worth of articles in one sitting. Just having a spreadsheet of dates and article topics will work.
To determine the number of articles you need to brainstorm ideas for, multiply the number of days you plan on blogging each week by the number of weeks in the time frame of your schedule. For example, you would need 24 articles to cover three months of posts if you blogged two times per week.
Your blog writing schedule should have a mix of short and comprehensive articles. Generally, short articles are for giving quick, actionable tips to your readers while longer articles will allow you to delve deeper into a specific topic. Too many short posts will make your blog seem shallow while too many long posts will make your blog a drag to read.
When brainstorming topics for your blog look at your industry through the eyes of the people in your target market. What do they want to know about your niche? For instance, real estate agents looking to attract home buyers will want to blog about buying a home in today’s crazy economy or how to avoid buying a money pit. To be an effective marketing tool, your blog should meet the needs of your readers.
Your web content strategy can be as simple as writing down titles and dates in a notebook or you can use an electronic to-do list to schedule when you will write your articles. Don’t think, however, that because you have a web content strategy that you can’t deviate from it. You can still be spontaneous or rearrange things at a later date especially if notable things happen in your industry that your readers should know about.
The important thing is to make sure you are producing content your readers want. As long as you are giving them quality content, your readers will pay attention. For more tips on blogging for success, take a stroll through my archives. Or better yet, contact me for a free consultation on how to take advantage of the internet marketing tools available today to develop of web content strategy that will help you build the profitable business you deserve.
Is Auto Follow a Good Way to Build a Twitter Following?
In just under five years Twitter has become one of the top social media destinations for content consumers and producers alike. As a blogger and business owner you really cannot afford to not have a presence on there. In fact, every business should have a Facebook and a Twitter profile at minimum if you want to connect with your customers and become an integral part of their life.
However, many people find that staying on top of their social media marketing can consume a lot of time and effort. There are a number of Twitter tools that can help you automate some or all of the tasks involved in building and maintaining a Twitter following. One of the things I’m noticing on the social media site, though, is that many business owners are using the Twitter follow tools to auto follow everyone who follows them.
I started thinking about this the other day. Is this really a good idea?
Reasons to Auto Follow
The main reason cited for auto following on Twitter was that it seemed like an easy way to build a following on Twitter. That’s sort of true. One piece of advice I often give people is to find your target market on Twitter and engage them by following their streams.
Suffice it to say, other businesses are targeting you as potential customers or collaborators. So they follow you in order to start building a relationship and they tend to stick around when you follow them back. If you have ten people adding you to their follow list every day, auto following them back can potentially net you up to 300 new followers per month.
Auto follow on Twitter is also convenient. I get about 100 new followers a day. With two kids, a husband, and a full time business I don’t always have time to go through and manually follow everyone back (Follow me on Twitter). It’s even worse for big brands and celebrities who get, literally, hundreds of people following them on a daily basis. So I can see the appeal of having a Twitter tool that tasks care of this task for you.
Reason to Not Auto Follow
But for all the convenience offered by Twitter follow tools, there are a couple of distinct disadvantages to auto following on Twitter.
- You will be targeted by spammers: Spammers love accounts that auto follow because it allows them to build their numbers quickly. They know that people are impressed by accounts that have large followings (a form of social proof). So they get lists of accounts on Twitter that automatically follows everyone and then they follow everyone on that list. Even worse, many of them will wait a few days and then unfollow you!
- Your account will be rendered useless: Being targeted by spammers brings me to the second problem with auto follow. Your Twitter stream will be filled with spam and other meaningless junk; not to mention the tons of auto direct messages you are likely to receive. Tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite can help you separate the wheat from the chuff. But that can be even more of a pain because then you have to manually look at each follower to decide where they should go or if you should unfollow them altogether.
So should you auto follow or not? There is no right or wrong answer. It really depends on what your goals are. If you just want to build a following then auto follow may be a good way to do it. If you want to build meaningful relationships on Twitter, though, then you will need to vet your followers either in the beginning when they first follow you or at the end when you are deciding whether or not to listen to their chatter.
What do you think? Do you auto follow on Twitter? Why or why not?
Speaking of Twitter, did you know I have a social media checklist you can download that will help streamline your social media marketing? You can download it for free. More information is located in the sidebar.
For one on one help with your internet marketing, contact me for a free one hour consultation where I will show you a few tools that will get your name in front of hungry customers just waiting to buy. You will never need to auto follow again.
Getting People’s Attention is a Challenge
Major league baseball player Ron Kittle once said, “I’m so poor I can’t even pay attention!” Today it’s likely that many of your potential customers are saying the same thing. And not only are they referring to the sad state of their bank accounts, they are probably also talking about the sheer number of things in their life vying for their attention.
They have their work, their families, and their personal goals. There is the television, radio, and the internet full of blogs, news sites, and forums producing billions of pieces of content for them to consume. If you have a blog for your business or are thinking about starting one, the first question you will need to answer, in order to be successful, is why should your readers pay attention to you?
Attention is the New Currency
Of all the resources available to your readers their time is the only thing that is not renewable. Paying attention to one thing means that they are sacrificing time they could be spending doing something else. If you want them to read your blog (e.g. pay attention to you) then it is imperative that you make it worth their while.
To do this, you must understand what drives your readers and make sure they are getting what they need or want from your blog. People search the internet for a number of reasons including:
* To find a solution to a problem
* For entertainment
* To learn something new
* To understand a new technology
* Find likeminded people to hang out with
* Get advice on making a purchase
* Improve their finances by making money
* Get information on a topic or issue important to them
* And so on…
Developing content that solves your reader’s problem is the key to getting them to pay attention to you. And knowing your target market is the key to understanding what their problem is. If you didn’t get a chance to view my free webinar on finding and marketing to your target market, I encourage you to take a few minutes to learn how to figure out who your best customers are and what they want from you.
Tips for Ramping Up the Value of Your Blog to Get Attention
One immediate way to increase the value of the information you provide your readers is to answer reader submitted questions. You will actually knock out two birds with one stone using this tactic. Answering reader questions gives the reader exactly what they want and provides you with a steady stream of topics to blog about. In addition to that, readers will view you as an expert in the industry they can turn to for assistance which will only increase your brand’s value.
Another way is to write articles that are relevant and timely. Although the world is a dynamic place where change is the only constant, there are some things which remain the same year after year. People set goals on New Year’s Day and break them by the end of January. They tell their sweethearts they love them on Valentine’s Day, travel more during the summer, and whip themselves into a buying frenzy the day after Thanksgiving.
Every industry has times when people are looking for information around a certain theme (e.g. how to set goals for a New Year). Aligning your content schedule around the key times in your industry maximizes your audience’s attention.
Bring in experts from other industries to talk about topics related to the theme of your blog. For example, if you are an insurance agent who sells auto insurance you could have a claims adjuster write about the process of evaluating the value of damage done to a vehicle. Collaborating with other experts boosts the value of your brand and extends its reach into other industries.
Your readers are always tuned into station WIFFM (What’s In It For Me). As long as you are broadcasting the right shows, your readers will always tune it to hear what you have to say. For more tips on how to use a blog to build a profitable business, read some of the articles in my archives. Or better yet, schedule an appointment for a free consultation where I will show you how investing in a blog can make you money. To have my articles on ways to market for attention delivered right to you, sign up for automatic updates by RSS.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine optimization and search engine marketing is required if you want to appear on your prospects radar. Although people are using sites like Twitter and Facebook to socialize, they are still using Google, Bing, and Yahoo to search for information about products, services, businesses, and people. This webinar focuses on teaching you the basics of search engine marketing and search engine optimization such as keyword selection and optimizing your website.
About the Search Engine Industry
- Search engines have been around in one form or another for centuries. The most recognizable one prior to Google was the library cataloging system.
- The first search engine as we know it today was called Archie. It was created in 1990 by McGill University computer science students Alan Emtage, Bill Heelan and J. Peter Deutsch. The number of files on the internet was so small that indexing was not necessary. They could be searched through manually.
- Although there are thousands of search engines today, there are only a few which are truly independent, Google, Bing, and Ask. All others get their results from them or are site specific.
- Yahoo! Is the oldest major search directory but Google is the biggest. Google averages over 11 billion searches per month.
- YouTube is the #2 search engine online with about 3 billion searches per month. It accounts for 28% of Google’s search traffic.
What is SEO/SEM
- SEM = Search Engine Marketing: Umbrella term for paid and free tactics used to raise visibility in search engines
- SEO = Search Engine Optimization: A variety of free techniques used to increase web page visibility in search engines.
- The goal of SEO/SEM is to rank on the first page of search engine results to attract the most traffic.
- The SEO industry began when search engines started indexing the web in the mid nineties. At the time, it was the realm of hobby webmasters. Today, it is a multimillion dollar industry with large and small companies dedicated to improving page visibility.
- Currently, the SEO industry is shifting directions because of the rise of social media. More and more people are using site specific search engines (Twitter, Facebook) to find information.
- - Why Should I Care?
- It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of pages on the internet because the number changes by the minute. However, at last count there were over 110,000,000 distinct websites online. The average site has 50 pages which means there are at least 5 million pages online.
- Although Social Engine Search is rising in popularity, traditional search engines are still the first place people go to look for information.
- The majority of people do not click beyond the first 3 pages of search engine results for information.
- If you want to attract targeted traffic to your website, you must rank within those first few pages. Otherwise, you are leaving money on the table because your potential clients will not be able to find you.
It’s All About the Keywords
- The engine in search engines are the keywords.
- Keywords are the words and phrases people use to find information online.
- To attract targeted traffic to your website, it is import to use relevant keywords. These are the keywords your target audience uses to find information about the subject they are interested in.
- Not all keywords are the same. Some are research words and some are buy words.
- Research words are words people use when they are looking for information. They tend to be generic and non specific (e.g. refrigerators, social media marketing)
- Buy keywords are words people use when they are “shopping” and ready to spend money. They tend to be specific and can include purchase terms (e.g. cheap Maytag dryer, search engine consultant)
Keyword Research Basics
- Keyword research starts with your product. What are you selling? What words would people in your target audience use to find it?
- Strangely enough, your product is not always going to be the exact keyword people use to find info on it.
- For Instance, many of you are selling home based business opportunities. While that is a popular keyword, other keywords people use include work at home, home business, work online.
- A great place to get ideas about keywords is your competition. Read the articles on their site. What keywords seem to be popping up frequently?
- You can also view the page source of their web site to see what keywords they have listed in their meta tags.
- There are several tools online that will evaluate websites for keyword activity. Examples include SEM Rush, Compete, and Keyword Spy.
- Typically, you do not want to try and rank for singular or generic keywords (e.g. business, personal development). Not only are they nearly impossible to rank for but the traffic you receive from them is unfocused and doesn’t always convert well.
- The longer and more specific the keyword, the more targeted the traffic will be.
- Use tools to see how popular a particular keyword is. Keyword popularity tools include WordTracker, SEO Book Keyword Tool, Google Keyword Tool.
- Typically, the less popular a keyword is, the easier it will be to rank for it. When you are starting out, shoot for keywords in the low hundreds. (e.g. home based business = 3790 searches per day, online home based business = 155 searches per day and is targeted to people looking for internet opportunities)
- You want to rank for a variety of keywords associated with your business. However, start with one and its iterations until you get the hang of SEO/SEM.
- Branding with SEO means you want to be associated with a particular keyword set. When people think of you, they think of the keyword and your business.
Search Engine Optimization Basics
- The keywords need to show up on your website and often. However, overall keyword density should not exceed 5%. Going over that is considered keyword spamming and search engines will smack down your website.
- Your keyword should show up in the title tag of your sites and your articles. (e.g. Stacy Kinney – Social Media Trainer, or A List of Work at Home Businesses You Can Do In Your Spare Time)
- Your keywords should be a category or tag on your blog
- In your articles, try to get your keyword in the first and last paragraph, then sprinkle it throughout the rest of the content. Vary the keyword with other iterations of it.
- Use keywords in your image descriptions
- Use subheadings in your articles with the keywords. Wrap them in header tags (h2, h3, h4). Search engines put more weight on words within header tags.
- Offsite SEO is just as important as onsite SEO. Specifically, the links pointing to your website need to be abundant and optimized.
- Search engines consider links to your website to be a vote for your website as the most relevant site about a particular keyword.
- This is the primary reason why spammers do what they do. They are trying to improve their search engine rankings at your expense.
- The links pointing to your site should include your keywords in the anchor text. (e.g. <a href=http://www.stacykinney.com>Social Media Marketing</a>)
- Try to vary the keywords in the anchor text pointing to your site if you can to make your links seem as natural as possible.
- You can generate links to your site in a number of ways.
- Post articles to article directories. In the resource box link to your website using keywords as the anchor text.
- Comment on blogs. Leave your name plus your keyword (e.g. Stacy Kinney – Social Media). Using keywords only will make you look like a spammer.
- Participate in forums. Place your link in the signature box.
- Guest post on other people’s blogs. Place your link in your author bio.
- Write content that people want to link to.
- Exchange links with other people in your industry.
- Create a giveaway product that links back to your site. Example, WordPress theme.
- Get interviewed by other people in your industry.
- Submit your site to web and blog directories
The Truth About Pagerank
- Pagerank is the thing that put Google on the map and made it the giant that it is today.
- Google uses over 200 factors to rank web pages. The number it spits out sits on a scale of 1-10. This scale represents where the site sits on the first page of the Google result pages. So a Pagerank of 10 sits at the #1 position in the results.
- When Google introduced the concept of the Pagerank, webmasters went nuts. It was supposed to gauge the trustworthiness of a particular site but it quickly become a status symbol. However, the search engine giant continued to promote it.
- Years later, though, Google is trying to mitigate some of the consequences that have occurred because of Pagerank by downplaying the importance of it.
- The truth is, it really is not important to your success. As long as you are showing up on the first two pages of the search results for your keywords, you will get the traffic you need to be successful.
Integrating SEO Into Social Media
- Google and Bing have started integrating social media into their result pages. Google has contracted with Twitter and Bing has a partnership with Facebook.
- Optimizing your social media profiles for search engines is pretty simple. Just use your keywords whenever you can.
- Use them in your bio and descriptions of the content you are linking to.
- Use them in your tweets and/or use keyword hashtags
- Try to use keywords in the anchor text when linking from Facebook.
- On LinkedIn, instead of using the default anchor text for your links change to keywords.
- Make sure you are using keywords in your article titles because they are often the only thing that will show when retweeted or Liked on Facebook.
- Bing shows Facebook content according to how many Likes it has. Encourage your followers to Like your content. Integrate social media tools on your website to make this easy.
- Backlinks = Links pointing to your website from other sites on the internet.
- Target Traffic = Traffic that is searching for your category product or service who are more likely to buy or join
- Anchor Text = The words that sit inside of a hyperlink
- Web Directories = These are directories that list websites by category. There are general and specialized directories for both blogs and regular websites.
- Meta Tags = HTML code that is read by search engines which provides additional information about the website. There are several different kinds including a description tag and a key word tag.
- Title Tag = This is HTML code that tells the search engines what the title of the page is.
- Header Tags = HTML code that defines what words are the headers on the page.
- SERPs = Search Engine Results Pages; The pages that display the results of your search query.
Tips and Tools
- Your search engine marketing campaign should be slow and steady. Doing too much at once will cause the search engines to flag you as spam.
- Organize yourself. Come up with a content and linking schedule that you can do on a regular basis. (Example: Each week, post 1 article to blog, 2 articles to article directories, comment on 5 blogs)
- SEO changes constantly. Read blogs of SEO leaders to stay on top of what is happening in the industry. Search Engine Watch, SEO Moz, and Search Engine Journal are good ones.
- Make sure the theme for your website is SEO compatible. This means that title tags are in the right places and that there are back end tools which will help you with your SEO.
- Use plugins that assist in SEO such as All In One SEO Pack
Visit the Social Media Video Library for more blogging and social media training. Contact me for a free 1 hour consultation on how to use search engine marketing and other social media tools to your advantage.