Content Expansion - Why I'm Writing a Book

Every morning, I write or rewrite or edit 500 words. Right now we’re past the first draft and we’re in the process of reaching out for endorsement deals for the book. I’m also trying to get forewords from influencers to help promote it.

I want to talk about why I decided to write the book in the first place, and the route that I’m taking. Keep in mind that this is a work in progress, so I’ll continue to give updates on this over time.

It all started when I did a podcast interview with the founder of Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi.

Joe Pulizzi Content Marketing Institute

At the very end of the interview, I always talk to people about tangential stuff. Joe happened to say at the end that publishing a book is a game changer. Once you do that, it changes everything.

It got me thinking about the progression of my professional life. I have Single Grain, a growing and profitable business. I also have two podcasts now (Growth Everywhere and Marketing School), and I’ve spoken at different events.

What’s next? Write a book.

How I’m Writing My Book

It’s been over a year since I started writing Level Up, and the process began with me taking a bunch of Post-Its and throwing all my topic ideas together. I figured out what I wanted to write about in each chapter, and then I just started talking into my phone every morning and recording my thoughts with Rev, and that was how I got the ball rolling.

At the same time, I started listening to this podcast by Copyblogger on how to publish a book, which was really helpful. What I’ve found is that most successful books go through more than five drafts. That led me to decide whether I should self-publish and get it out quicker, or try and wait for a big publisher.

Related Content: How to Repurpose Content (And Write Your First Book!)

E-book or Publisher Route?

Neil happened to be releasing his first book, Hustle, and I asked him, “Hey, can you introduce me to the guy that helped you with your book?” And that guy’s actually helping me with my book now, and we’ve decided to take the publisher route.Hustle Neil Patel

Having a physical hardcover book is powerful. People tend to treat it more seriously and respectfully compared to an e-book. It’s something that you can hold in your hand, and having it backed by a big publisher is serious validation, so I’ve decided to go down that route. 

How Do You Pitch Your Book to Publishers?

The first step to approaching a publisher is to put together a book proposal, which is basically an outline of your book, and why it’s unique. It includes a marketing plan as well. You need to show potential publishers that you have a plan for marketing your book on your own before they’ll help you. This is where you include details like how big your e-mail list is and how big your website is.

Publishers want to know what firepower you can put behind the book to help push it, because they’re interested in selling as many copies as possible.

What Level Up Is All About

The concept of Level Up is that gamers actually learn a lot of the skills needed to become an entrepreneur by playing games. In other words, playing games can actually help you level up to playing the game of life and business. At the end of the day, you can gamify just about everything, and in fact the most successful people do gamify their lives.

The ultimate game, I think, is eventually “beating” the game of business and moving on to philanthropy. One of my favorite books, The Billionaire Who Wasn’t, is about Chuck Feeney, the main founder of Duty Free Shopping, who’s given away nearly his entire fortune of $7.5 billion during his lifetime. 

The Billionaire Who Wasn't Conor O'Clery

He indirectly inspired Warren Buffett, and in turn Bill Gates, to try and do the same thing with their Giving Pledge.

The Giving Pledge

So the premise of Level Up is, how do you go from gamer to entrepreneur? And how do you then play the game of business really well, to the point where you build up your wealth enough to move on to the game of philanthropy?

I’m hoping that because there are so many gamers out there, this book will inspire some people.

Related Content: How to Create Quality Blog Posts that Convert Customers

Current Progress: Still in progress

Right now, we’re done with the first draft which is about 60,000 words. It’s still a really rough draft, but the process has been really enjoyable. Very excited to see what happens with it. For now, my goal is to reach out for endorsement deals and forewords.

Fun fact: I got Mark Cuban to respond the other day. Unfortunately, he’s not going to be a part of it, but at least he responded. We’re trying to get endorsements from studios and producers like Electronic Arts and Sony, too.

Ultimately, if I were a parent and my kids were playing a lot of games, I’d want to give them this book. My parents used to think gaming was a waste of time, and to an extent it can be. If you overdo anything, it ultimately is unproductive, and can become harmful. But if you do it in moderation, you can learn a lot.

When I look back at my gaming history, I would say I probably did overdo it, but it’s the same thing with a lot of entrepreneurs, right? We’re all obsessives, and it’s partially why we succeed.

On Being an Author

If you haven’t read it before, definitely check out Seth Godin’s 19-point checklist Advice for Authors. One of the key points? If you’re writing a book, don’t expect to make a lot of money. It’s just good to get it out there for your personal brand, and if it takes off? Cherry on top.

If you create a lot of content already, I highly recommend that you think about writing a book, because you probably have a lot of the content published anyway. I think it’s going to be really rewarding.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

The Content Marketing Funnel

It’s 2017. Do you know where your content is?

Today, nearly 88% of B2B marketers are creating custom content marketing and 76% of marketers plan to produce more content in the future. But many digital marketers are lost when it comes to making a distinction between content that works, and content that doesn’t make an impact.

The traditional sales funnel has been changing to a content marketing funnel, which many brands are still doing their best to figure out. Marketers are now able to support sales in an unprecedented way by targeting each part of the funnel with unique, stage-specific content types that help qualify, nurture, and convert leads into paying customers. Strategic use of content optimization opens up a world of opportunities.

In our experience, lots of companies don’t know how content marketing comes together, and they ask questions like:

What these companies fail to understand is that content creation, when done correctly, isn’t a race against the competition. It’s more like a spectator sport, one in which you watch your leads get closer and closer. In this framework, every piece of content you create is an opportunity to bring a new lead closer to a sale or to inspire an existing customer to take action.

Is content volume important? Absolutely. But content synergy is far more important. In other words, there’s no point in creating 100 blog posts if you’re just going to send all your readers to your homepage.

If you struggle to come up with relevant and interesting material, want new ways to repurpose your curated content, or want to learn how different types of content target different parts of the funnel, this blog post is key to creating an effective content marketing strategy.

What Is the Content Marketing Funnel?

Picture the wide top of a funnel. This is where a large number of people might become aware of your products or services. All these people are your leads, or potential customers. As they move through your funnel towards the much narrower neck, many will drop off. A much smaller number of leads will actually make it through the entire funnel.

The purpose of the funnel is to convert as many leads as possible into actual customers who are willing to pay for your products or services.

The traditional sales funnel has three broad stages:

  1. Awareness – when a lead first discovers your brand
  2. Evaluation – when a qualified lead (or prospect) decides to find out whether your product or service is the right fit or not
  3. Purchase – when the prospect gathers the last bit of information they need before deciding to buy and becomes a customer (the stage every business wants to achieve!)

Content Marketing Funnel

Image Source

The generic content marketing funnel is similar, but has a fourth broad stage:

The great thing about content marketing is that it can help your business reach users at any stage of this funnel, whether they’re at the top or floating somewhere in the middle. And as leads continue to interact with your business, and your business produces more quality content, you’ll widen the neck of the funnel.

What Content Type Goes Where?

Now for the burning question every marketer wants answered: What kind of content belongs at which stage?

Here’s the expanded four-stage content marketing funnel with different examples of content that is ideal for each of the four stages:

We want to be very clear that this is just our map for content types—there is no real consensus on what types of content work best in each stage because it depends a lot on your sales cycle, your industry, and your audience. There is also a lot of overlap between content types and stages.

That being said, this is the best we’ve figured out for now, and it holds true for the vast majority of companies with successful content marketing campaigns.

Let’s learn more about each type of content, and why it works in its respective stage of the funnel using the startup company Canary, “a complete security system in a single device”, as a case study.

Content for Attracting Leads

Content Marketing FunnelThis is the landing page that users see when they go to the Canary website. One of the first things that you’ll notice is how simple it is, with more negative space than text.

Because it’s holiday season right now, a “12 Days of Canary” pop-up appears asking for visitors’ e-mail address to get updates about holiday deals.

Content Marketing Funnel

This is effective for existing customers who may be coming back for more, or new leads who will make a decision based on the idea of a good deal. It’s straight to the point and quickly guides prospects to where they would be most interested in going.

And if the prospect scrolls down a little further…

Content Marketing Funnel

Again, there is not much text, but there is a call-to-action to learn more about a collaboration between State Farm and Canary to support first responders, such as arson investigators and training dogs. People who have State Farm Insurance will see an opportunity to save money on insurance, and others will see a company that cares about the men and women who protect us all.

Learn more: 10 Tips for Landing Page Optimization

For completely unqualified prospects who know absolutely nothing about your brand or product, the best types of content are simple landing pages, short introductory or product videos, and infographics. In other words: there should be as little written content as possible.

Keep in mind that no one cares about your company yet. Unqualified leads either don’t know who you are or have never seen any of your stuff. So you need to catch their attention with more riveting types of content.

Video often produces higher search engine optimization and stronger engagement and boosts the chance of a sale by 64–85%. In fact, by 2017, 74% of all web traffic will come from video. Video is also mobile-friendly, which means it puts you in front of the 31 million people who plug into the web via mobile device every day (and that’s just in the U.S.!). Since Canary offers a complete security system that you can access when away from home via an app, it’s essential that they make sure their content is mobile friendly.

A large portion of Canary’s business is selling security cameras, so it’s important that they showcase the high-quality footage that their products can deliver. Their Instagram, with over 5,000 followers, consists mainly of animal videos captured by their security cameras. Prospects can laugh at cute dogs and cats, and see how effective Canary’s product is at the same time.

Content Marketing Funnel

Once you’ve captured the attention of your leads, the best way to capitalize on this is by steering these potential customers toward qualifying facts or figures and by getting them to start asking themselves whether they should make a purchase. This can be achieved through the smart use of infographics.

All businesses can benefit from incorporating infographics into their marketing strategy. Just look at these stats:

Also called “data visualization,” infographics meet at the intersection of information, illustration, and design to present data that might otherwise be bland and boring in an engaging way.

Content Marketing Funnel

Image Source

And, as with videos, infographics are perfect for mobile devices. When there are 44 million more active mobile subscriptions in the world than there are people, ensuring that your content is mobile friendly is something that you can’t afford to neglect.

Content for Converting Prospects

Your leads have now seen your landing page, found your social media accounts, laughed at your viral videos, and probably looked over a few of your compelling and impeccably designed infographics. And they’re ready for more.

One of the first things a prospect will want to know after deciding that a product or service might be useful is whether they can trust the brand behind it. The best way to build that trust is by establishing domain expertise as a helpful thought leader. And helpful leaders usually offer free advice.

That’s why Canary offers plenty of helpful information across all their marketing channels, starting with a multifaceted blog:

Content Marketing Funnel

Learn more: How to Write Blog Posts that Actually Convert Readers into Customers

But how will Canary’s prospects find their blog posts? Will they have to visit their website to see what’s new? Nope, that’s where social media kicks in.

92% of marketers stated that a social media strategy was vital for their business because it creates a sense of community engagement. By creating regularly updated content channels on the social platforms where your target audience regularly hangs out, you provide your prospects with easy access to your advice. You also give them a chance to see what other prospects and customers are saying.

A prospect can instantly scan through dozens of eye-catching pics, announcements, and satisfied customer comments. Social media is the quickest, surest way of getting prospects and customers to engage and eventually become brand evangelists (which is why it shows up in the “Delight” stage as well).

Content Marketing Funnel

The ideal social media strategy includes regularly updating all your business’s social media accounts to maintain a strong and consistent presence on all platforms and catering to your followers as needed. Canary’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all regularly updated with content that is both informative and lighthearted, but still relevant to their brand. They also have their own hashtag, #caughtbycanary, for customers to locate and share snippets of footage caught by their Canary cameras.

Content Marketing Funnel

You should also have a clear FAQ page on your website to answer the most relevant and common questions they are likely to have before committing to your product or service. Canary includes a section called FAQs: Before You Buy:

Content Marketing Funnel

Once you’ve demonstrated your helpfulness and expertise without strings, a prospect is going to be far more comfortable with and serious about your brand. But there are still a few more steps they must take before they commit to making a purchase.

You have to convince them that buying from you is the smart thing to do. This usually means providing more qualifying information to assuage their fears. But this information can’t be an infographic. These prospects aren’t leads anymore, and they’re going to start scrutinizing everything a little more closely. In other words, now’s the time to offer long-form, in-depth content like whitepapers, e-books, and even informative webinars.

Learn more: The Ultimate Recipe for Effective Customer Lead Generation

Content for Closing Customers

Savvy brands like Canary understand that all marketing is in service of the “Close” and “Delight” stages. And, whenever possible, closing should be a repeat stage. Once a customer pays for their first product, the goal is to make them pay for another product or service, and become a recurring customer.

And the absolute easiest way to close a prospect is through ratings, reviews, testimonials, and case studies. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

For a company that sells security technology and home protection, stories about the prevention of break-ins and other crimes can be powerful testimonials. And this is some of the content that Canary features on their blog:

Content Marketing Funnel

Everyone dreads the idea of someone breaking into their home to steal their possessions while they’re away or threaten their family’s safety if they’re at home. The headline alone targets that feeling and captures the reader’s attention.

But even if a prospect never makes it to their blog, Canary has another big promotion stamped on their landing page:

Content Marketing Funnel

Names like Forbes and Time Magazine appear, but Oprah takes the spotlight. The “Oprah Effect” can launch even a small, struggling company into stardom after an appearance on her show. Even if your product hasn’t been promoted by Oprah, word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers on social media, Amazon, or Yelp are more than enough.

For prospects that need a bit more convincing to close, you can also use strategic questionnaires and self-assessments. These help “nudge” prospects over the edge into customer territory by showing them just how much they need your help. They also help save you time by qualifying prospects even further, so you can get on the phone with the ones you’re most likely to close.

And if there are prospects you just can’t crack the first time around, you can always get them the next time there’s an opportunity. That’s why it’s so important to set up and maintain an e-mail newsletter. 91% of consumers check their e-mail daily, and 72% of consumers prefer to receive commercial communication via e-mail.

Content for Delighting Customers

E-mail is also the primary method for keeping in touch with existing customers. It’s how you continue to offer one-time customers helpful, resourceful content to keep the relationship fresh and relevant (until you have a promotion or upsell).

In fact, the “Delight” stage is a lot like what it takes to keep any relationship going. It’s not enough to attract, date, and enter into an official relationship with someone special. If you want to keep their affection, you need to remind them that you care with gifts and shows of affection.

For businesses producing content, this means that you should regularly check in via e-mail with announcements, discounts, and surveys. You should also share (through both social media and e-mail) any new blog posts or whitepapers and e-books that are relevant to your existing customers.

Canary sends its subscribers regular e-mails that contain news and other relevant updates on the company and its products.

By sharing top-of-the-funnel attract and convert content to customers, the content marketing funnel comes full circle. Customers who become e-mail subscribers are essentially passed through a second funnel: the e-mail marketing funnel (supplemented by social media), which eventually turns them into loyal customers and promoters.

Learn more: 5 Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

What Does Your Content Marketing Funnel Look Like?

It goes without saying that Canary’s content marketing strategy isn’t going to work for all companies.

But the beauty of the content marketing funnel is that it can be adapted to any business, no matter what you’re selling. A tech startup and a mid-market retailer may target different parts of the funnel with different types of content, but the general strategy will remain the same.

Use this example of a content marketing funnel as a template and an inspiration for your own content marketing strategy.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how your brand uses different types of content for the different parts of the funnel. Let us know in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

SG - How to Use Scarcity on Your Landing Page to Skyrocket Conversions

Let’s begin this post with a short marketing lesson narrated through history.

In 1774 King Frederick II of Prussia, locally known as Old Fritz, issued an order for his subjects to grow and consume potatoes. The King’s subjects, however, were prejudiced against the vegetable.

Instead of convincing them to eat potatoes, he planted a royal field of potato plants and stationed a heavy guard to protect it. The guarded field made people feel that potatoes were precious, because “anything worth guarding is worth stealing.” This led to people breaking into the field and stealing the apparently scarce spuds only to grow fields of their own and reap, sow, and consume the vegetable in abundance.

In the end, King Frederick II got his way.

Letting people know that there is only a limited amount of an object — or a limited time to get it — makes them motivated to get it because soon they won’t be able to. That’s just how the human brain functions. According to Psychology Today, “Scarcity orients the mind automatically and powerfully toward unfulfilled needs.”

Let’s explain how scarcity works for your offer. This is a pop-up promoting Single Grain’s free SEO guide in exchange for your contact details. It’s a limited time offer, and may not be available again:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages

This is another pop-up that offers free marketing tips in exchange for your e-mail address:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

The time limit on the SEO resource lets the visitor know that it is precious. If the visitor doesn’t act now, he or she may not get this chance again. The time constraint inspires visitors to complete the form and enter Single Grain’s marketing funnel.

Using scarcity on your landing pages works to your advantage — you just need to know how to implement the principle on the pages to increase your conversions. This is exactly what we’ll do today.

Let’s begin by defining scarcity.

What Is Scarcity?

To understand the role of scarcity in landing page optimization, it’s important we discuss the definition from both the psychological and economics points of view.

In economics, scarcity is defined as “limitations—insufficient resources, goods, or abilities to achieve the desired ends.”

Robert Cialdini defines the principle of scarcity as the desire to want something we’re afraid we can’t have: “Fear of losing out on something can be an extremely powerful motivator.”

This is how the definition combines on your landing pages: When you convince your visitors that your offer has limitations (either in time or quantity), the fear of missing out urges them to click on the call-to-action button.

There are essentially two tactics of implementing the scarcity principle on your offer:

  1. Quantity: When the offer is in short supply.
  2. Time: When the offer is only available for a certain period.

In the following paragraphs, we’re going to discuss how you can use both of these scarcity tactics on your landing pages to generate conversions.

Learn More: How To Create CTAs that Actually Cause Action

How to Use Scarcity of Quantity on Landing Pages

Steve Worchel conducted an experiment on the effect of supply and demand when rating the value of an object. Participants were shown two jars, one with ten cookies and the other with two cookies. When participants were allowed to select the cookies they wanted, it was found that the cookies in scarce supply had higher demand because they were more desirable. So, we place more value on things that are less available to us.

When it comes to landing pages, scarcity of quantity can be used by telling your visitors exactly how many discounted items are left before the stock runs out, or how many seats remain in your workshop.

Here’s a Groupon promotion that offers 70% off of thousands of Chicago deals:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

The offer also specifies that there are only limited quantities available — letting the visitor know he or she must act now if he wants the discount.

An A/B test case study featured on ConversionXL reported that including scarcity on a landing page almost tripled their conversion rate.

This is variation A:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

The page shows a clear discounted price, but the page doesn’t include any elements of scarcity.

Here’s variation B of the landing page:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

Not only does the variation include time scarcity (urgency) by letting the visitors know how much time remains to download the bundle, but it also tracks how many bundles have been purchased, and that the bundles are almost gone. Amazon is notorious for using this tactic on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.

This is what the conversion rate jump looked like for variation B:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

You can use scarcity of quantity in your headline, CTA button copy, body copy, and images. If you do, just make sure the quantity you showcase in your ad is the same quantity as on your landing pages.

It’s vital that you establish message match and relevancy between your ad and the corresponding landing page. If your ad headline says 20 items left in stock, your page headline should say the same.

How to Use Scarcity of Time (Urgency) on Landing Pages

Time is a valuable asset for all of us, so telling visitors that “time is running out” to get something that they need inspires them to make a decision faster. The e-book featured in this article gives some examples of how marketers can write landing page copy that conveys urgency, especially when you highlight the urgency with countdown timers.

We do this on Instapage’s webinar landing page:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

The ticking time counter is a great way to persuade visitors that they may not get the opportunity to get this great offer again.

Merlin’s Pest Control home page also showcases urgency with copy:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

Not only does the copy instill urgency by telling visitors that if they call by 1 pm, they will get same day service, but the copy next to the phone number tells the visitors to “call today.”

Urgency can be conveyed by using specific terminology such as “final chance,” “last offer” or “don’t miss out.” This is what Cosmopolitan does with their promotion e-mail and landing page.

Here’s a screenshot of the e-mail:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

The e-mail subject line proclaims, “Final Notice: Cosmopolitan for $5.” And the e-mail copy follows through by confirming that this is the last chance you’ll get to purchase a 12-month subscription of the magazine for $5.

Read More: 7 Emails to Add to Your Conversion Funnel

And, here’s the landing page connected to the e-mail:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

The landing page reinforces the urgency initiated in the e-mail by using words like “hurry,” “order now,” and “last chance” to motivate the visitor to convert on the CTA button.

Free trials are also a way to illustrate urgency on your landing pages. When you make visitors aware that there are just 30 days of a free trial and that they need to sign up now to sample the free account — they are more inclined to do so. The same isn’t true if you announce that your product is free forever, which is what Intercom does.

In contrast, the Moz Pro landing page tells the visitor that they can sample the tool free of charge for 30 days:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

Using the word “now” on your landing pages also helps add urgency to your offer because it inspires action. Urgency can be very persuasive for time sensitive campaigns, e.g. Christmas sales or Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. You can also use urgency for special occasion sales, such as a company anniversary promotion.

Finally, Julep used urgency to promote their end-of-season sale by offering up to 85% off on their inventory. The thinking here is that since the discount is so big, that inventory will go fast — and for consumers to “act now” before it’s all gone:

How to Use Scarcity on Landing Pages to Generate Conversions

Scarcity Creates High Converting Landing Pages

Landing pages with time scarcity and urgency can be very persuasive at getting prospects to click your call-to-action button. However, when implementing scarcity, you must be honest about your offer.

Don’t create artificial scarcity. For example, if there are hundreds of seats remaining for your writing course, don’t lie to visitors that there are “just a few seats left” because when the truth comes out, your credibility will take a hit and you may lose future customers as a result.

Only promote scarce offers with scarcity and you’ll find that your visitors are ready to take advantage of what you’re offering.

This guest post was written by Fahad Muhammad, a Content Marketer at Instapage. He writes about landing page examples, marketing trends, Instapage updates, and conversion psychology on the Instapage blog. When he’s not busy hunting down landing page examples, he can be found glued to an episode of Top Gear.

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