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Letter From Lugano

Five Top Digital Marketing Models: 2(a) Social Marketing

James Atkinson - Tuesday, April 01, 2014

 

Today's photo: a typical Lugano lake scene in early autumn. 

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Here is a step-by-step formula you can use to achieve more traffic, sales, and higher rankings from social networks:

  • Become an expert:
    Learn about your market and what prospects want with your survey, by participating in social networks, and by following top influencers.
     
  • Create quality content:
    Create great content that meets your prospects’ needs.
     
  • Interact:
    Use two-way interactions on the social networks to build trust and relationships.
       
  • Compliment...
    your community members when they post good content. This encourages them to reciprocate when you post new content.
     
  • Deliver...
     your content through a targeted group of social networks and on your own blog or socially-enabled web site (allowing people to comment on and share your content).
     
  • Draw people onto your site:
    Use a content hook (for example, a special report) to draw people off the social networks onto your blog or site.

    Your blog / site should offer more great free content. Don’t link directly from a social network to your sales letter.
     
  • Get opt-ins...
    f
    rom your blog / site.
     
  • Get sales:
    Sales WILL start to happen naturally as people explore your content and receive emails about your products.
     
  • Grow:
    Continue to look for NEW people participating socially in your market and interact with them.

Let’s look at this process in more detail.

Become an Expert

Learn about your market and what prospects want with your survey, by participating in social networks, and by following top influencers.

Software makes this easy - see my Social Media Software.

 

Market Research Survey

Doing an online market research survey is a good way to learn about your market. It provides you with detailed information about:

  • The unique segments in your market
    Use segment knowledge to personalize your content to speak directly to each sub-group, rather than using one broad message for the whole market. This makes your messages more compelling and influential.
     
  • The most-desired information, features, and benefits in order of priority for each segment. 
    This gives you the outline for your content topics and order in which you present them, plus the features you need to include in your products and how to describe the benefits of those features.
     
  •  The actual language prospects use to describe what they want – use this in your copy
     
  •  The emotional benefits prospects are seeking. Remember, all buying is driven by emotional needs.

The survey gives you a blueprint for your content strategy, product development, and sales copy.

Find Your Social Networks

Start Googling and identify the most active and influential social networks in your market. These networks will be the vehicle to promote your content and connect with a large and hungry audience.

Software makes this easy - see my Social Media Software.

You DON’T have to be a member of tons of networks – often just a few networks will give you the same results.

Size is not an issue either – small market-specific networks are often more powerful than huge general sites like Facebook.

Here are some of the benefits of joining social networks:

  • Publish your content – this is how you develop trust and a community.
     
  • Interact with other users – two-way interactions build trust.
     
  • Keep up-to-date with new developments.
     
  • Take the pulse of the market – find out what people really think about issues in the market.
     
  • Identify the hottest issues in the market – see which topics have the most views and responses, and the most passionate discussions.

    What problems are mentioned, particularly those that people have had a hard time solving? This is a great way to get content and product ideas.
     
  • Start to introduce yourself and contribute to the community. Research shows that familiarity makes people more influenced by you and makes them like you more. 
     

Follow Top Influencers

In every market there are top influencers: experts who are at the cutting edge, shaping the market. These experts control mindshare in the market – attention and trust.

You should find and pay attention to these influencers to build your own expertise and gain insight into your market. Follow their content to get access to high-level thinking on topics and trends in the market.

Use it to increase your own knowledge and get ideas for content and products.

Use Google and / or my Social Media Software to find experts, then subscribe to their blog RSS feeds with Google Reader or a similar tool. This lets you see when the blogs are updated and read the updates all in one place.

Usually, their influence on the market will be visible through high levels of traffic to their blog and high levels of participation in social networks such as forum posts and blog comments.

Yahoo's Site Explorer was a good tool to assess the quantity and quality of links to someone’s blog. Alas there are now no more free tools available. 

But have no fear! Our own integrated SEO Software will help you determine a blogger's links and our Social Media Software will tell you a blogger's real level of influence in the marketplace.

 

Create Quality Content

Creating quality content (text, audio, and video) is the key way to build trust with your market and demonstrate your expertise.

Content should be relevant, interesting, and useful.

If people aren’t interested, they won’t share your content, which is the key to achieving the ever-increasing “influence ripple effect” that expands your community.

Your content has to meet their needs.

Use your market research (surveys, social networks, and following influencers) to take the guesswork out of creating content.

Rather than guessing what will appeal to your audience, you can simply ask them to tell you what they want to know about!

What questions do they want answered? What problems do they want solutions to?

Creating content on topics you know people are interested in makes your job so much easier.

Make sure you create different content streams to address the distinct needs of each segment in your market – each one will have its own characteristics, mindset and desired information.

The headline is very important in getting people interested in your content. Often it will be the only part of the content a user can see without clicking.

Develop your headline-writing skills – you can learn from the best by looking at the headlines of the most-shared content on social networks. You can also share other people’s content as long as you attribute it to them, but make sure you mostly write your own so people get to know you.

As you discover and follow the experts in your market you will get tons of content ideas from their topics and the new developments in the market. Of course, you should use other people’s ideas for inspiration only.

For content generally see: How to do Keyword Research, What Search Engines Want, and SEO Copywriting.

 

Interact

Use two-way interactions on the social networks to build trust and relationships. Share your knowledge in a helpful way to engage and build your communities. Join in existing conversations and engage people to try to draw them into new ones.

Let people get to know you. Transparency and “realness” are paramount in social media. Nothing that sounds like sales copy or a corporate press release will generate any interest! You have to be yourself.

Remember, familiarity makes people more influenced by what you say and makes them like you more, which also creates influence!

Helping people engages the reciprocation rule.

The next time you publish content, a number of the people you have interacted with will “repay” your attention by sharing and bookmarking your content. This builds your social influence, exposes more people to your content, and boosts your search engine rankings.

Compliment

There is strong research evidence that people like those who compliment them – even when they know the person giving the compliment wants something from them. See: Liking and Partiality.

When people in your community post good content, compliment them!

A specific compliment is most compelling. Don’t just say “Great post!” – say something specific about what they have written.
 

Deliver

You need a content strategy to develop the different types of content you’ll need to get results from social networks:

  • Content for the social networks - for example: forum posts, YouTube videos.
     
  • Incentive content that draws people from the social networks to your blog – e.g. a free report they can get by opting in to your email list from your blog
     
  • Content for your blog or socially-enabled site – deliver more of the type of great content people enjoy on the social networks
     
  • Content for your email list – this can be email-specific content, or notifications when you’ve made a new blog post (with the first few paragraphs included as a teaser).
     
  • Sales copy that describes your products or services.
     

Draw People onto Your Site

Your goal is eventually to draw the people who are viewing your content on social networks onto your own site or blog, where you offer more great content.

Once they’re on your site, your goal is to get them to opt-in to your email list so you can contact them whenever you choose. If you’re using a web site, use a CMS (Content Management System) to make organizing your content easier.

Persuasionworks system has a built-in CMS to make this easy for you.

And make sure your site is socially enabled to allow people to comment, share, and bookmark your content.

You’ll need to give people an incentive to visit your site or blog. A content “hook” like a special report offered only on your blog should draw them in.

Never link directly from the social networks to your sales letter. You need to bring people to your blog first to continue developing the relationship. 
 

Get Opt-Ins

Your blog / site should offer an email opt-in form with an incentive to get people to join. You want to be able to contact people whenever you choose.

Once prospects have opted-in, continue to deliver great content and build community. Please review: Getting Sales from Social Networks, Prospects and the Educative Process; The Goal Of Social Marketing.  

Get Sales

At this point, more sales will start to happen naturally as people explore your offerings. See Online Marketing Strategies.
 

Grow

Continue to look for new people participating socially in your market and interact with them. You will get the biggest results in the smallest time by engaging with the most active and influential market-shapers.

Do this easily through our Social Media Software.

Next Blog: PPC Marketing.

 

 

Five Top Digital Marketing Models: 2. Social Media Introduction

James Atkinson - Monday, March 31, 2014

 

 Today's pic is the Ristorante Posta in Morcote on the Lake of Lugano.

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Social Media Marketing fundamentally works in a similar manner to educative content marketing - see yesterday's blog. However it’s been quite difficult for businesses to work out how best to commercially use social media and obtain a Return On Investment (ROI) in the medium.  

The latter is important because more and more businesses realize they must have some form of presence in the social media space. 

Social media marketing must do at least four things for a business:

  • Get a Return on Investment (ROI),
  • Rapidly respond to negative social comments. Corporate reputation that has taken years to build can quickly plummet when online negative commentary goes viral,
  • Manage the vast number of social mentions such as Facebook wall comments and tweets made about a company, marketplace, and competitors,
  • Help discover the "Total Universe" of a marketplace.

Software is the best way - actually the ONLY way - to achieve these goals. Persuasionworks' integrated Social Media software helps businesses attain all four goals - plus more.

Social Network sources include blogs and other media at various social sites around the internet. Social networks are an important way to engage with prospects and shape their views about your market.

You can shape customer perceptions from pre-buyers (those who are researching a market) to existing customers with whom you want to deepen your relationships.

Shaping opinions in the pre-buying stage was tough before the internet became a commercial entity. Marketers did not have very much 'influence' in the buying cycle until a prospect was actually ready to buy – at which time their opinions often were already well formed.

Now you can shape opinions throughout the buying cycle - see Buyer Persuasion Points:

 

The image explained:

  • Create educative content via blogs, videos, audios on both your own web site and on other social networks;
  • Invite prospects to download a free report or white paper which is of high value and upon which you state a value – such as $49;
  • The report leads to an opt-in offer or page; (Optionally, obtain the opt-in before delivering the Report or White Paper);
  • The prospect then is segmented and administered through your eMail List Management; (On segmentation see: Prospect Segmentation. The Persuasionworks system includes an integrated eMail Marketer;
  • The prospect is taken through the marketing and persuasion process;
  • The prospect is eventually sent to a Sales Letter or there is a verbal sales pitch;
  • If the prospect buys he or she is allocated to the next product sales stream;
  • If the prospect does not buy he or she is allocated to an appropriate sales stream. – See generally: The Direct Marketer's System.

The green dots represent persuasion points.

In the next blog I’ll discuss how to become a successful social marketer.

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FIVE Top Digital Marketing Models: 1. Educative Content Marketing

James Atkinson - Sunday, March 30, 2014

Today's photo is the entrance to the Hermann Hesse museum in Montagnola. His work space balcony over looks a pedestrian walkway. The museum is run by very dedicated staff who know a lot about the writer. Montagnola is a mountain 'suburb' of Lugano.   

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There are many ways you can market online. In this series of blogs I present five core online marketing methods:

  1. Educative Content Marketing
  2. Social Media Marketing
  3. Pay-per-Click Marketing (PPC)
  4. Affiliate Marketing
  5. Public Relations (PR) Marketing

 All the eMarketing methods shown are predicated on you setting up an eMail autoresponder system. Please see: How eMail Marketing Works.

 

Persuasionworks integrated business and marketing software includes an eMail Marketing System.

Educative Content Marketing

The image below gives an indication as to how you market using your educative content web site:

The image explanation:

  • Create educative content on your web site;
  • Invite prospects to download a free report or white paper which is of high value and upon which you state a value – such as $49;
  • The report leads to an opt-in offer or page; (Optionally, obtain the opt-in before delivering the Report or White Paper)
  • The prospect then is segmented and administered through your eMail List Management; (On segmentation see: Market Segmentation or preferably the whole section: Why you Must Survey);
  • The prospect is taken through the marketing and persuasion process;
  • The prospect is eventually sent to a Sales Letter;
  • f the prospect buys he or she is allocated to the next product sales stream;
  • If the prospect does not buy he or she is allocated to an appropriate sales stream. – See the series of articles: Sales Funnel: Setting Up an Online Sales Process.

 

The green dots represent persuasion points. For 'persuasion points' generally see the series of articles:  SEO Strategy: Buyer Persuasion Points

Long-Tail Keywords

Remember a great deal of traffic will arrive from long-tail keywords. For keyword research see:  How to Find and Use Keyword Research to Improve Your SEO.

When you create first-rate content such as blog posts, articles, and videos and post them to your educative content site - you:

  • Deepen relationships with your prospects and customers;
  • increase familiarity - an important sales persuasion component; 
  • control the ‘mindshare’ of your prospects and customers who may otherwise go to your competition; 
  • remind prospects of your unique benefits; 
  • strengthen customer loyalty to you; and 
  • increase customer willingness to buy from you – again and again.

All of these are important add-ons to your persuasion and sales process strategy.
 

My next blog: Social Media Marketing.

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The "Hi to Buy" Gap...

James Atkinson - Saturday, March 29, 2014

Today's photo is Hermann Hesse's work desk. When I was younger I devoured all of his novels. It's amazing to see where he worked.

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The predominant way of selling online is a sales process based around a sales letter or a verbal sales pitch. That is, marketers drive traffic to a sales letter / sales pitch at which an attempt to make a sale is made.

However, the typical online sales letter conversion averages between 1 - 2% of visitors. Think about it! This means most online businesses lose nearly 98% of their sales letter visitors - most of them never to return!

I believe a big reason why conversions are so low is because of the cold traffic factor. The traditional sales letter strategy must compensate for the fact that the prospect has never “met” you before. In other words, they are a “cold” customer.

Prospects have natural questions about a seller - such as:

  • Who are you? 
  • Why should I listen to you? 
  • Why should I believe you?
  • What are your credentials? 
  • Do you understand me and my needs?
  • Are you going to give me good value?
  • Are you going to rip me off?
         

All of these are trust issues!

Trust is paramount in human interaction and relationships. The earliest humans needed to quickly answer the question: friend or foe? We are hardwired to assess people we newly meet as friendly or threatening, trustworthy or not.

We are constantly scanning for cues whether it is safe to trust or not. The web is a cold, faceless place. It’s a low-trust environment!

Building trust online is harder than face to face meetings because we don’t have all the face and voice cues, like making eye contact, smiling, firm handshake, and so on.

Thus, the internet being what it is, trust is supremely important for making sales. To earn and maintain trust you must build long-term relationships with your prospects and customers.

The sales persuasion process is one part of this procedure, but without a relationship strategy - persuasion is less effective. It takes time to develop trust. It’s no wonder sales letters have such low conversions. Marketers are trying to squeeze a trusting relationship into one sales letter!

Relationships are the “glue” that bond people to you and drive multiple sales. People buy from people. Once they know and trust you, persuasion techniques become easy to apply.

Relationship and trust building essentially performs much of the persuasion work of your sales letter. The image shows the gap needed to close an online sale – The Hi to Buy Gap:

 

 Your persuasion process must begin at the “Hi” Point – when you first meet your online prospect and say “Hi”.

Then, you must use every possible avenue to state your persuasion message – in blogs, videos, web content, social networks, and email campaigns. Then last of all – you complete the sales process in your sales letter or your verbal sales pitch.

Many online marketers use the sales letter to make their whole case – and that’s why conversion rates on online sales letters are so low!

To create an effective sales process, you need to ask yourself, “what do my prospects believe now, and what do they need to believe in order to buy?”

Assuming your product is a good match for the prospect, most of the mindset shift will be based on trust issues.

The important factors that DRIVE online sales are trust, loyalty, perception of authority / expertise, and a number of other persuasion principles. See: How to Use Persuasion To Sell Online.

Where the sales letter obviously has a sales focus there’s very little time to build trust in a setting where the seller is going for broke to get the sale.

The more the seller puts on the hard sell pressure, the more prospects raise objections and back away, because trust has not been established.

Trust develops gradually as the buyer’s first impression of you deepens. However, trust is not in and of itself a success progenitor – you must also persuade your prospect to buy!

 

Starting an Online Business: 4. Using ‘Deliberate Practice’

James Atkinson - Friday, March 28, 2014

Today's photo is a little Ticino courtyard by the Hermann Hesse museum in Montagnola.

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Today I want to look at how the 'Deliberate Practice' can help your online business. Deliberate Practice involves focusing on a small number of skills to become really good at them. There are two streams in which you can use deliberate practice to enhance your eBusiness: -‘technical skills’ and ‘human value’ development:

 

 When you adopt a form of Deliberate Practice the first type of feedback you receive should be from a mentor in your specific field. So, if you are a dog trainer you should start expanding your expertise in the dog training field.

Technical Learning & Feedback

Technical learning is an important component of running an eBusiness. All online business and sales process is technically complex and expensive.  Technical learning means all aspects of your eBusiness that are NOT related to your sales subject matter.

Technical knowledge is not the sort of expertise you will share with your customers. It’s simply all the knowledge you require to properly run your eBusiness. And believe me there’s a lot to learn.

Most of your internet technology requirements can be outsourced. However, you do need to understand the capacities of internet technology and you need to keep up with online technical changes. 

‘Human Value’ Development

This is the knowledge you eventually share with your customers. Constructive and constant learning and feedback of your ‘human value’ is vital. “If you’re in an accepting world, then people don’t develop or get better,” Dr. Ericsson says. “They’re in a kind of time warp.” Thus, it’s better to be continually challenged through your feedback.

To achieve expertise you need approximately 10,000 hours – which on a full time basis takes around three years.  I’m not suggesting you improve your expertise for three years before you begin your eBusiness. Start NOW and keep improving!

For those who want faster outcomes, anyone can start applying the principles of deliberate practice and see pretty good results within a reasonable time.

So, I’ll repeat – this sort of expertise is NOT the area of product delivery such as video making, writing skills, pay per click and so on – it is the expertise that you SHARE AND PROVIDE to your customers. For example, the dog trainer is not going to provide video making information to his/her customers. What will be provided is dog training and ancillary information.

When you begin interacting with your customers the process will be in an educative form. YOU provide the information as your customers’ advocate. The customers in turn provide the second form of feedback. To learn about this second form of feedback.

The next image illustrates the learning and educative feedback – upon which you act: 

Using the concept you can become highly skilled in providing “human value” to your customers. That is, you can become an expert in your own field – no matter what that might be.

After you adopt a form of Deliberate Practice and receive appropriate training and feedback from your mentor /trainer you are in a position to implement an appropriate eBusiness Strategy. This stage - like the mentoring component - is also a continuing training, educative, and feedback process – only this time the feedback you receive is FROM your customers.

That feedback comes from the educative content and social activity that you create from your subject specific websites. The constant feedback enables you properly to address the continuing concerns and fears of your customers – which in turn increase your expertise.

The next image shows the process:

Using the above concept you can become highly skilled at business-building activities such as: market research, survey analysis, pay-per-click advertising, social networking, search engine optimization, sales process management, cash flow management, Return on Investment (ROI) analysis, or any eBusiness skill you need to master.

Examples of Technical Learning and Deliberate Practice

 A process occurs whenever you do anything for your business – run an ad, create a product; take an order, and so on. With every process, there is huge potential for improvement and better performance.

What you don’t measure you can’t improve - so a key to improving process is to measure it.

Then you can brainstorm and get ideas to improve that process, try out your new ideas, and measure the results (feedback). Online businesses are ideally placed to measure performance and get feedback to improve, since almost everything done online is measurable!

Here’s an example of how it can work. There are many good online tracking systems including our own in persuasionworks; you have a wealth of data from competitors; and it’s easy to survey to find out what customers want. Let’s say you want customers to spend MORE - each time they buy one of your products. First, you set a specific goal of say 10% higher average dollar value per sale.

You then brainstorm some ideas on how you might achieve the changes – for example: 

  • add quality affiliate products to the backend, 
  • add cross-sell suggestions to the shopping cart, so the customer is shown complementary products he / she may be interested in; and
  • package some related products together.


Make the changes then measure the results (feedback). Then apply what you’ve learned to make further improvements.

Remember, there’s plenty of room for improvement in ANY process. When you do so you’re taking steps to improve a specific area of business by using the tenets of deliberate practice: setting specific goals, continuously finding ways to improve, and getting constructive feedback that you apply to achieve even better results.

You can use this method to improve almost anything including your own acumen or product list of eBooks – anything really! When you make even small improvements across multiple areas of your business, you harness the immense power of exponential growth. For example, you only need to make a small 10% improvement in only three areas of your business to actually actual increase in income is 33%.

And to almost DOUBLE your income, you only need to increase performance in each area by 25%! That may seem a lot to increase - but with the internet you get an almost instantaneous and measurable response to marketing and process ideas – see: Creating Business Growth.

I am endlessly tweaking and trying out new ideas – and they all eventually lead to increased profits. 

In my next blog I'll discuss The" Hi To Buy" Gap.

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