Hey everyone! In today’s episode, I share the mic with founder and CEO of Consensus, Garin Hess. Consensus automates product demos, so you can spend more time closing sales and less time demoing.
Tune in to hear what the inspiration was for Consensus, how Garin helped companies get higher close rates and reduced sales cycles, and what he thinks you should do when approaching high-level leaders!
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Hey, everyone! On today’s episode of Growth Everywhere, I share the mic with Didier Elzinga, former CEO of Rising Sun Pictures and current CEO of Culture Amp, which is a product that seeks to help companies create better corporate culture in order to get a higher rate of employee engagement and retention.
Tune in to hear Didier discuss how he went from software developer to CEO over the course of his career, how they attract new business and double employee retention, what CEOs rate the importance of culture for the success of their company on a scale of 1-10, and Culture Amp’s motto that brand is what you promise a customer and culture is how you deliver that promise.
Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: Why Didier Elzinga Asks New Hires at Culture Amp How He Can Help Them Get Their Next Job TRANSCRIPT
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As a marketer, you’re always looking for ways to grow. Instead of starting from scratch, it’s often easier to look at the customers you already have and figure out how you can expand those relationships.
For example, if you’re selling e-commerce products, you can think about what kind of upsells you can add to increase your average cart value.
There’s a scale that traffic falls under: cold, warm, and hot.
The people who have bought from you already are your hot traffic. People who are your fans are going to continue to buy from you over time, because they like who you are, they like your product and they like what you stand for. Think about what you can do to expand that relationship.
For me, my main business is services-based so I have to think about, “Who are we doing well for?” Every quarter, we send out an NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey to our current clients just to see what they think.
If they rate us a 9 or a 10, that means they’re promoters, people who like our product and service and are going to vouch for it to other people. That’s where we think, “How can we expand this? How can we take advantage of this?”
We’re going to ask them for a testimonial. We’re going to ask them who else would be a good fit for us to work with. We’re going to ask for referrals.
Learn More: Here’s How Targeting Cold, Warm & Hot Traffic Builds Successful Customer Relationships
At the same time, we’re going to come to these satisfied customers with additional value add.
That’s exactly what I did last week in San Francisco. I came into the meetings prepared, saying, “Hey, you guys are missing out on this. Your competitors are doing this and they’re doing it better than you are.” So then they’re ready to expand the account, because they trust us and like the value add that we’ve provided so far. They’re willing to take the relationship further.
Especially with a services-based business, you have to think about how long you can keep each relationship going, how you can continue to add value over time.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be you upselling. It could be you introducing them to other services with other people or products as well. You might or might not receive a commission off of that, but it doesn’t matter – you’re just thinking about how you can continue to help.
It’s all about helping others first and then you can figure out how to expand. At the end of the day, it really goes both ways.
Related Content: How Rev Got 50,000 Customers by Having the Fastest Turnaround Time & Highest Quality
Instead of worrying about acquiring more customers all the time, think about what you can do for the loyal customers you already have.
It actually costs more to acquire a customer versus expanding a current customer since a faithful customer will have a higher ROI and a higher lifetime value.
If you think about it, it’s like any relationship. The people who have been with me throughout my life, those who I have nurtured a relationship with over the years—those are are the people that I trust, that I’d reach out to if I was in trouble. You want to nurture relationships with your customers and think about what you can do to maximize those relationships.
At the end of the day, no matter what kind of business you’re in, it’s about caring. If you can just care, it’s going to be a lot easier for you. It’s going to be a more enjoyable journey. So make it easy, genuinely care about the people you’re doing business with, and go from there.
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:
Sometimes you may find yourself doing so many things in one day that you actually lose track of what’s important and what isn’t.
That’s why I use a task prioritization chart that I take a look at every quarter or so. I want to keep track of what I’m actually working on every single day to see what I need to cut out, what I need to delegate, and where only I can make an impact.
Personally, I divide all of my tasks by expected ROI.
For example, I have a category for $10 per hour tasks, another for $100 per hour tasks, another for $1,000 per hour tasks, and finally one for $10,000 per hour tasks. These categorizations tell me how much I would have to pay someone else to get a specific task done right.
So if you find yourself doing $10 tasks when you’re running a six- or seven-figure business, you probably need to rethink your priorities. On the flip side, you probably don’t want to be delegating the $10,000 per hour tasks out to anyone—that’s where you could be making the biggest impact yourself.
Related Content: The Power of Blocking Out Your Time for Business Growth
Things like cold calling, talking to unqualified prospects, doing expense reports, or scheduling social media probably shouldn’t be done by you. I know you see guys like Gary Vaynerchuk engaging on social media all the time, but that makes sense for Gary because he has branded himself as a social influencer.
Think about the tasks that you do every single day. Whether you’re using a calendar or Evernote, look at what you’re doing every single day and then look at the last couple weeks. I have a daily to-do list and I’ll look back at last month or last quarter and realize, “Wow, I shouldn’t be working on this.”
As time goes on and your company grows, it’s your job to take more things off your plate and delegate it to other people. This is why companies hire other people. Your managers get stacked up with work, too. They need to hire people as well.
Hiring is one of the most important things you can do because you’re focusing on assigning each person in your company to their proper task category in order to maximize the ROI of human effort.
Learn More: Ultimate Guide to Building a World Class Team
Let’s look at $100 an hour tasks, like talking to qualified prospects, doing social media, managing pay-per-click campaigns, doing customer follow ups, and so on. Customer follow ups, for example, are super important, so you probably don’t want to categorize it as a $10 an hour task and delegate it out to someone who doesn’t do it right. You could, but your business might suffer as a result.
Now let’s look at $1,000 per hour tasks, like building your marketing or sales funnel. If you want to have a marketing automation sequence that is perfectly optimized, that’s a big undertaking and a big time commitment. But you know it’s worth it for you because it’s going to pay dividends down the road.
This is a task that you could do yourself if your company is smaller. Not only can you probably not afford to hire someone to do this, you definitely do not want to hire a $10 per hour or $100 per hour person to do a $1,000 per hour job.
Finally, there are the $10,000 an hour tasks. If you’re making seven figures per year, these are the tasks that you and your partners, if you have any, should absolutely be focusing on.
Related Content: The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: How to Juggle Multiple Projects and Have a Life, Too
A lot of these high-priority tasks are things that sometimes only you can do. For me, it could be throwing an event or a dinner, or interviewing people on my Growth Everywhere podcast.
Same thing with Marketing School—it has to be me personally doing this each time with Neil. Public speaking or podcasting requires me to actually be there in person to make the biggest impact.
But what I can probably start to offload are the live webinars that I do. Maybe somebody else can take that on. Maybe that becomes a $100 per hour task.
Once you’ve identified the $1,000 or $10,000 per hour tasks that you should be doing yourself, you want to make a game plan for how you’re going to tackle those tasks both on a daily basis and over time. If you need to have somebody else do that for you, like a project manager, then you’re basically out of control. You may no longer see the bigger picture.
On the other hand, the tasks that you’ve identified as able to be delegated, whether it’s a web development project or a new marketing campaign, you should absolutely not take on yourself, even if it is tempting. You need to find the right talent, give very specific instructions, and then take a big step back.
So try this out if you haven’t before. Create a task prioritization chart or matrix with $10, $100, $1,000, and $10,000 per hour categories. Prioritize your tasks and then share the document with your team as well so they know where you’re at and they know what you should be working on.
Remember, if you ever start to slip back into $10 per hour tasks such as project management and things like that, you need to get them off your plate immediately.
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.
As marketers, we know that there are a million things we could be working on at any given time: e-books, white papers, blog posts, webinars, paid advertising, e-mail marketing.
They’re all important, but part of running a successful business is about putting your focus on the highest-leverage activities. That’s the stuff that brings you the most bang for your buck — the stuff that helps you justify the ROI of your job to your boss.
One of the highest leverage activities you can spend your time on is optimizing your SEO. If you can get even one of your blog posts ranked at the top of Google for a broad keyword, it could drive thousands more visitors to your site every month.
And if you’ve got the rest of your sales funnel in place, then those thousands of visitors could add up to some significant ROI.
In this post, we’ll cover 20 tactics you can use to boost your SEO rankings.
The best, most efficient way to make your content stand out isn’t by reinventing the wheel — it’s by building a better version of what has already been proven to work.
Instead of trying to create an epic 10x piece of content from scratch, look for the blog posts or videos that already perform well within your niche and build on it. Brian Dean from Backlinko calls this the Skyscraper Technique.
For example, let’s say I wanted to write an article for a new marketing blog about Facebook ads.
First, I’d do some research to figure out which blog posts about Facebook ads have a track record of generating a lot of links. There are a few ways to do this.
I could go on Google, type in a broad search term, and see what ranks near the top.
Or I could type a broad search term into a tool like BuzzSumo and immediately get a list of highly shared content related to my topic.
Next, I’d pick one of those successful pieces of content, and build on it.
One simple way to do this is just by making the post longer. For example, one of the top Google search results for “facebook ad strategies” is an article called “5 Ridiculously Powerful Ad Targeting Strategies.” To build on this idea, you might come up with something like “25 Facebook Ad Strategies to Grow Your Business.”
Another way to improve on existing content is by making it more visually appealing.
For example, this post on Pardot.com ranks at the top of Google for the search term “buyer journey,” mainly because of how the post is designed.
According to Brian Dean, by taking a post that is already proven and building on it, you drastically reduce the likelihood that your content falls flat because you’re writing content that has already worked.
An important factor for getting a post to rank high in the search results is having a lot of other influential people link back to it. One easy way to do this is by mentioning your industry’s influencers in your content.
When other people see their name mentioned somewhere on the Internet, they’re much more inclined to share the piece on their own social media, blogs or newsletters. And because industry influencers usually have large audiences, that means more targeted traffic back to your site.
For example, this entrepreneur curated an e-book full of the best Medium posts of 2015, and then sent it out to all the writers he mentioned within the e-book:
A simple e-mail like this sent to the right influencer could be the “tipping point” that makes your content go viral. In fact, according to Blogging Wizard, with the right approach you can get up to an 80% response rate from the top influencers in your industry.
We all have pages on our blog that perform really well in search, and others that fall on page three, four, or even lower. And the frustrating thing is that some of our low-ranked content may contain amazing material. If only those poor blog posts could get a little push — like a share from an influencer or several more backlinks — they might go viral or rank at the top of SERPs.
One way to give the poor-ranking content a push is by finding the posts on your site that rank higher in Google and adding links within them to the pages that rank lower.
For example, HubSpot ranks pretty high for the search term “content marketing strategy.”
Within this post, they link to multiple articles on their blog about topics like list purchasing and developing a social media content calendar — neither of which rank as high.
This is a great way to give some of your lower ranked content the boost they need to get to the top.
The best content is the kind that speaks to people’s emotions. Marketers who are able to connect with their audience can build a large audience of loyal readers relatively quickly.
Make sure you understand your market’s deepest hopes, fears and dreams around the subject about which you’re writing. Once you have a good grasp on this, you can weave it into your blog posts to show your audience that you really “get” them.
Steli Efti at Close.io, a SaaS product to help salespeople close more deals, does this really well.
Salespeople have a lot of hopes and fears around their job. For example, they might feel afraid of coming off as too “sleazy” or too fake.
They might be afraid of hearing a bunch of “no” responses from leads.
Or maybe they feel like they have no idea what they’re doing.
Because their content tells emotionally captivating stories that really “hit the spot” for their audience, Close.io’s blog has quickly become one of the go-to resources for salespeople.
Another great example is the Copy Hackers blog. Their content has a lot of personality infused into each post, which helps set the content apart from all the other marketing posts on the web.
Notice how friendly and fun this content sounds:
Businesses in virtually every industry can incorporate great storytelling and personality into their content if they understand their customers at a deep level. Even Pfizer was able to boost sales using this approach, according to this article by Cognitive Edge.
There are always a bunch of new SEO tactics popping up all the time, but at the end of the day, the best way to have your content reach more people is simply by writing stuff that they actually want to read! And one great way to do that is by writing posts that are fun and/or informative and appeal to the readers’ emotions.
Writing long-form content consistently takes a lot of effort. So before you start climbing that mountain, it’s important to ensure that you’re writing content for which people are actually searching.
One easy way to do this is by using the Keyword Planner on Google AdWords. It’s easy to see how many people are searching for a particular keyword, and you can even uncover related keywords to base your articles around.
Another great tool for gauging the number of search results for a particular topic is Google Trends, where you can uncover search trends over time for keywords to see if they’re worth pursuing.
Or you could use BuzzSumo to see the number of shares that certain types of content get and which keywords are getting a high rate of shares.
Moz has a great guide on how to do keyword research for SEO, including how to judge the value of a keyword and understanding how to use long tail keywords.
By creating remarkable, long-form content around keywords that have a high search volume, you make it easier for your blog posts to rank high for a topic and generate a lot of traffic to your website.
Broken link building is one of the most effective white hat strategies you can use to grow your SEO rankings.
The first step is to figure out which websites in your industry have broken links to your own site as well as your competitors’ sites. There are quite a few search term variations you can type into Google to uncover sites with dead links. According to this guide by Neil Patel and Brian Dean, here are some of them:
For example, you can type in “marketing + intitle:resources” to find posts that are filled with a bunch of links.
Next, you’ll have to scour the page to find the broken links. An easy way to do this is by downloading a Chrome plugin called Domain Hunter Plus, which scans pages for dead links.
Once you activate the plugin for a particular page, you’ll get a list of dead links on that page. You can then export the list of links, send it to the site owner, and ask to replace the dead links with your own resources.
Relying on standalone blog posts to drive your SEO rankings is a losing battle.
A few individual pieces of content might appear high up on the search results, but there are better ways to get more mileage out of your blog posts. One tried-and-true way is the hub and spoke strategy.
Through this approach, you create one giant piece of content to function as the page that people land on directly from Google (your “hub”), and from that page, you link to a bunch of other relevant pages on your website (the “spokes”).
Your hub should be something that’s highly shareable, like a meaty post that people bookmark because of how informative it is and how many useful resources it contains. This way, your hub will rise in SEO rankings, and as a result your “spokes” will rise as well.
Copyblogger created a page called “Email Marketing: How to Push Send and Grow Your Business,” and within it, they’ve included supporting posts like “Why Vanity Metrics Are Worthless (and What Really Matters),” “37 Tips for Writing Emails that Get Opened, Read, and Clicked,” and more.
By creating a hub, or a “table of contents”-style guide around a topic in your niche that people can consistently refer to, you’re creating a larger piece of content that will rise higher and higher in search rankings.
And as a result, the content you link to within your hub will rise higher and higher as well.
As I mentioned earlier, mentioning industry influencers in your content is a great way to help your content get more shares.
And roundup posts are an efficient way to do this on a larger scale. In a roundup, you curate posts from experts in your niche and share them with your own readers. This tactic is an easy method to build relationships with the right people in your field, generate a bunch of traffic, and improve your SEO rankings.
According to Crazy Egg, these are a few key characteristics that make a high-quality roundup:
Once you’ve sourced a long list of high-quality links around a topic that your audience wants to know more about, you can ask each influencer to share the post with their own audience.
For example, here’s an e-mail that someone sent to me after including some of my content in a post:
I ended up sharing it with my list of 20,000+ readers.
Long-tail keywords are keywords that are more specific and “narrow” than broader short tail keywords.
For example, “facebook advertising” is very broad search term, but “facebook advertising for SaaS companies” is much more specific.
It’s natural to create content focused on broad, short tail keywords. We think that because there are a lot of people searching for these more general phrases, we should take take advantage of that. But in reality, creating remarkable content that is focused on long-tail keywords can boost your conversions.
People want solutions that are tailored specifically for their situation. If you create a piece of content called “Facebook Advertising Strategies for B2B SaaS Companies,” you’d make B2B companies feel that you understand their specific situation a lot better than someone who wrote an article called “25 Facebook Ad Strategies to Grow Your Business.”
Even though you would be going after a smaller pie, you would dominate a much larger piece of it.
For more on how to identify and leverage long-tail keywords for SEO, see this guide: How to Identify Long Tail Keywords for Your SEO Campaign.
Whatever strategy you’re pursuing — whether it’s Facebook ads, SEO or anything else — the main point is to drive more prospects along the buyer’s journey to becoming customers.
That’s the main goal of content marketing.
SEO works best when it’s part of that larger content marketing strategy.
According to this guide by Salesforce Pardot (and this image from HubSpot), customers go through the following three stages before deciding to buy:
By creating high-quality content to serve customers at each step of the process, you’ll naturally rank higher in search results while also generating more sales.
At the awareness stage, customers are usually conscious that they have a problem, but they have no idea what the right solution looks like.
For example, if you’re selling services to help CEOs improve their content marketing, they might be thinking things like: “Ugh, I don’t want to waste hours and hours writing blog posts if I have no idea what the payoff is going to be” or “I need to outsource this but I don’t know how to figure out who’s the right person to handle it.”
At this stage, 72% of people immediately turn to Google to figure out how to solve their problems. They search for content that hits their specific pain points.
If you’re selling marketing services, a good piece of content to write might be something like “How to Speed Up Your Content Marketing Success.” This way, when customers search for their problem, your blog will be the first one they see.
An example of how HubSpot attracts customers who are in the “awareness” stage.
Interest or Consideration Stage
As potential customers start to gather more information about their problem, they look for ways to solve it in the “interest” phase. At this stage, evidence-based content starts to become a lot more valuable to them.
According to Crystal Clear Communications, 30% of buyers consult white papers at this stage of the process, 29% consult case studies, and 30% of buyer influencers look to detailed technology guides.
Again, if you’re selling marketing services, good content at this stage might sound something like “The Ultimate Guide to Getting More Leads Through SEO.”
You can present these guides at the bottom of your blog posts and ask readers to fill out their e-mail address in order to receive them. This way, you help people transition from the “awareness” phase to the “interest” phase, and you capture their e-mail addresses so that you can send them more content down the road.
HubSpot does this well — when customers start off in the awareness phase searching for something like “how to speed up content marketing results,” HubSpot’s blog post is the first thing they see on Google:
And at the bottom of that post, site visitors can sign up to get a free content strategy planning guide.
Evaluation or Decision Stage
Only after customers have done their research and figured out how to go about solving their problem are they ready to start thinking about purchase options in the “evaluation” phase.
At this stage, they’re trying to decide which service to buy. Good content here might be something like “4 Steps to Picking a Good Marketing Agency,” “Why Some Marketing Agencies Don’t Get Good Results” or something else along those lines. And in these posts, you can strategically position yourself against your competition by “teaching” your audience why you’re better.
Understanding what your customers are searching for at each step of the journey is super important — that way, you can create highly ranked content to help them along the way.
There are a few specific metrics that you can track to measure your overall SEO performance.
For example, one key metric for SEO is the average time that users spend on your content page. If your content is engaging, if it appeals to their emotions, if it’s useful, then readers will stay on the page longer in order to read more of your material. For more on the right metrics to track for your SEO, check out this post by Neil Patel: Quantify Your Results: The 14 Most Important Content Marketing Metrics.
If your website does not provide quality content, visitors will “bounce” off the page and “boomerang” to a competitor’s site.
Keep in mind that there’s no specific number here that can be considered “good” or “bad.” If you’re writing short-form content, for example, then you’re naturally going to have a low average time on your site. Or if you offer a great answer to a reader’s question, you might have a high bounce rate but also a high time on your site.
The number of return visitors is also a good metric to gauge how good your content is. How many readers come back to your site on a regular basis? If you’re sending e-mails to your subscription list regularly, how many people consistently open and click?
This is one of the most useful metrics that you can measure since return visitors are usually the most likely to convert to buyers.
There are a lot of benefits you can get from associating yourself with experts in your industry.
Read More: 5 Steps to Becoming an Expert Content Creator (According to Google’s Phantom Update)
One of the best ways to leverage that association is by interviewing these experts and repurposing the content into a blog post. That way, you can rank high for the expert’s name and siphon off a large audience that searches for them.
For example, Groove did an interview with Neil Patel and repurposed it into a blog post. Now when anyone searches “Neil Patel interview,” Groove shows up at the top of the results.
Venture Hacks did an interview with Sean Ellis, which also ranks at the top of Google for “sean ellis interview.”
By interviewing influencers in your industry and turning it into a blog post, you can attract a chunk of that influencer’s audience to your own site through Google search.
Part of maximizing the effectiveness of your content marketing is repurposing your material as much as you can.
As Neil Patel and Aaron Agius write in QuickSprout’s Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience, there are at least seven different ways to repurpose a single blog post. Turn it into a:
This could skyrocket the reach of each post that you write.
Let’s say you published a blog post called “How to Leverage Influencers in Your Content Marketing.” There are tons of different formats into which you can repurpose this content to attract a wider audience.
For starters, you could take that content and make it native for different blogging platforms like Quora, Medium or LinkedIn — which allow anyone to reach a targeted audience of tens of thousands of people if the content is good.
Then, using a tool like Visme, you can take that blog post and turn it into infographic.
Noah Kagan found from analyzing 100 million articles that infographics get shared the most out of all types of content. This means that an infographic could potentially get more than double the reach of a single blog post, which makes it more likely to rank higher in search.
Then you could take the blog post and infographic and combine them into a compelling SlideShare presentation.
If you have a podcast, you could summarize the key points of the blog post in a quick 10-minute audio segment.
With a simple, structured system, you could skyrocket the reach of each piece of content you put out by making it “native” to several other platforms simultaneously, thereby increasing the likelihood that the content will rank high in SERPs.
A simple way to get more reach on your content is just to increase its length.
Longer-form posts are more comprehensive, get shared more frequently, and lead to lower bounce rates — which is why they tend to be ranked higher on Google.
According to serpIQ, average length of posts at the top positions on Google are 2450+ words.
Not only does this help with SEO, but more time spent on your page means you’d be cultivating more trust between you and your audience.
Content that’s visually appealing allows readers to digest a larger amount of information in a shorter period of time. It’s much easier to look at a graph or an infographic that’s well designed than a huge 5,000-word blog post — and as a result, it’s more likely to get shared.
You don’t need to be a design whiz to create content that’s visually appealing either. You could use a tool like Snapguide to create beautiful how-to guides, for example.
Written content is still very important, but the way the content is presented is also important. The more visual, the better.
According to Commonplaces Interactive, both Google and Bing have reported higher search traffic coming from mobile devices than computers.
That’s why these search engines boost content in search rankings that are mobile friendly.
If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile friendly or not, you can just insert the URL into Google’s Mobile Friendly site analyzer.
The easiest way to make sure that your site doesn’t get penalized in search results for this is by making it responsive. That way, it will “respond” to the device on which it’s being viewed, and won’t encounter any problems on any mobile devices.
By writing original blog posts on major media outlets, you can get a lot more exposure to your own site.
For example, Neil Patel wrote a guest post on Entrepreneur.com.
Within the post, he included multiple links back to his own blog, Quicksprout.
One thing you might want to be wary of is reposting content from your blog to a major media outlet. Although the exposure would be good, Google penalizes duplicate content in search results.
But writing original content for major sites could help build your credibility as well as get more backlinks to your blog. For more on this, check out How to Pitch a Guest Post to Editors at 104 Major Publications by Jon Morrow.
Another quick way to get more backlinks for your blog is by using a service called Help a Reporter Out (HARO). This site is aimed at the tons of journalists out there who are writing stories on various topics and need quotes from experts.
When you sign up for HARO, you’ll get notified every time a journalist who is writing about a topic in your field needs a quote. Then you can send in a quick pitch offering a quote along with your business name and website URL.
This is a great way to get your name and blog on a news media site without having to write a unique guest post.
If you deeply understand your audience’s emotional experience at each stage of the buyer’s journey, you can consistently create high-quality content that not only sits at the top of Google’s SERP, but also drives sales.
The best part is that it’s actually really easy to understand your audience’s emotional pain points.
All you have to do is set up an autoresponder message for everyone who signs up for your e-mail list. As soon as someone subscribes, you can send them something like this:
I get hundreds of “marketing” e-mails everyday from random companies that are just a pain to sort through.
I want to be different. I want to send you e-mails that you actually look forward to reading.
So to make sure that I send you the best possible content, I wanted to ask you a quick question… What’s the #1 barrier that’s keeping you from [whatever success you’re trying to help them achieve]?
Just “hit reply” to this e-mail and let me know. I read every response.
You’d be surprised at how many people pour out their life story in response to that, which helps you to know exactly what’s going through their mind.
It’s even better if you ask for feedback at each stage of the customer journey. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers asks non-buyers for feedback right after they make the decision not to buy from him:
This way, you’ll know exactly how to create the right type of content that resonates at a deep level with your readers, gets shared, and ends up ranking high in the search pages.
This isn’t easy to do, but if you can do it, you’ll skyrocket the reach of your blog. People who invent terminology that catches on in their industry can really boost their SEO rankings.
For example, Brian Dean of Backlinko invented what he calls the Skyscraper Technique, which is a unique approach to creating content.
Now when anyone searches “skyscraper technique” on Google, his name is all over the web on multiple different sites.
To invent your own term, you don’t need to create some crazy new breakthrough idea in your industry. All you need to do is take existing points of view that are already out there, “repackage” them, and make them your own.
For example, Tim Ferriss wasn’t the first ever lifestyle design blogger, but he was the first to package up his ideas into the “Four Hour Work Week.”
Gary Vaynerchuk isn’t the first to talk about understanding the context of social media platforms, but he was the first to position as “Jab Jab Jab Right Hook.”
So there you have it — 20 ways to boost your SEO rankings!
As marketers, there are a lot of tactics out there that we could potentially focus on. But those who get world-class results get them by focusing on high-leverage activities that deliver real long term results.
Now I want to hear from you. What other SEO tips would you recommend? Leave a comment below!
Today I’m going to be talking about delayed gratification.
If you saw my second post on Facebook Live (How I Grew My Podcast from 0-80,000 Downloads), it was about how growth works. The takeaway: it took a very long time for me to grow my first podcast, Growth Everywhere. Every single day of the first year I was getting maybe nine downloads per day. In year two, it jumped up to 50 downloads per day on average.
Keep in mind that I was spending about one hour per week interviewing and an additional 5-6 hours editing. That’s seven hours per week, 28 hours per month. For nine downloads per day. Many people told me that my time would have been better spent elsewhere, because a lot of people expect ROI to happen quickly.
This is the VC-driven world we live in. Investors pump startups full of advertising dollars because they want them to scale really quickly. There’s very little patience for success.
But, oftentimes, the people who are very patient win the battle. Going back to Growth Everywhere as an example:
Then there’s Marketing School, which Neil Patel does with me, largely because Growth Everywhere impressed him. Marketing School has only been around for about seven months, but we’re about to hit 589,000 downloads a month. So growth has a cumulative effect.
Now, had I just given up at the one-year mark and said, “Well, you know, I’ve tried podcasting for a year. It doesn’t work…” I would have left success on the table without even realizing it.
So stick with whatever you’re doing now, as long as you’re passionate about it and as long as you are providing real value to interested customers. Learn to be patient and to delay your gratification.
Napoleon Hill, who wrote Think and Grow Rich, says that patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.
I think it’s really important to stay patient, myself included.
Oftentimes, I just want things to happen quickly, but just look at the Patriots, for example (those of you that follow football). If they can get the ball, they’re going to defer the ball to the second half, right? It’s because they can score right before the first half ends and then they can score again when the second half happens. They get a feel for the texture of the game. How’s the game going? How do they want to play it when the second half comes up?
That’s what you call it when they defer the ball, but this is basically delayed gratification, right? You don’t need to receive the ball upfront. You can wait a little bit and then see how things play out.
When you think about it, you’re already willing to do this with other aspects of your finances, like your retirement account. Compound interest is incredibly powerful, but requires a ton of patience and delayed gratification.
Let’s say you put $10,000 into an index fund and you’re returning 7% a year. After the first year, you get $10.7K, which is not bad, but if you just leave that money there, if you let it sit for 40 years, at the very end, that’s going to be worth $149,000, assuming you don’t add any additional on top of the principal.
Now let’s say we start with $10,000 and we just keep adding $10,000 a year, so guess what? In 40 years, that becomes $2.2 million. Even if you’re not familiar with investing, I’m just saying, it’s really the same thing. You’re basically just waiting patiently and delaying gratification.
I’m just using investing as an example because a lot of people understand it and are doing it in a smart way. But to me, the safest investment is business success. Being able to invest in what I can control, the team that I want to put together, what I want to work on—that’s the most powerful type of investment. And it’s also worth waiting for.
One of the businesses that I started with my friends was stagnant for about a year and a half. We could have easily thrown in the towel. We could have easily given up, but even after spending $100,000, we said, “Okay, let’s keep going.” As of last month, we finally generated revenue for the first time. And I think we finally found a model that can scale well for us.
When I became the CEO of Single Grain, we were basically insolvent. Then, a couple months in, people started to quit. When people quit, that basically means they’re firing you as their boss. That felt really crappy.
I think the worst period was when my accounting company called — it was the accountant and the two founders — and they said, “Hey, is it time to give up? Is it time to throw in the towel? Things aren’t looking good right now.” I said, “No, I think we should keep on going.” I think that’s what it takes.
The first quote that I mentioned—that patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success—I honestly think that’s true because I’m never the smartest person in the room or anything like that. I just keep going.
There are other situations with other companies that I’m going to list in the Growth Everywhere book I’m working on (called Leveling Up), where they waited many years. We’re talking maybe 10 years to really start seeing a breakthrough—all while working full-time jobs or scrambling for investments.
You should also check out my podcast interview with the founder of HireVue, Mark Newman: How to Almost Go Bankrupt 10 Times and Emerge as a $30 Million Dollar Company
Ultimately, success isn’t a race. It’s really a ladder. And we’re all just trying to level up at the end of the day.
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.
Creating a lucrative and scalable revenue model can be difficult, especially if you focus on the wrong end goals.
Brands often fail to generate a decent Return On Investment because they are too hung up on specific elements of their sales funnel. A preoccupation with certain types of conversions is just one of the reasons that your ROI can collapse.
Andrew Baird wrote an insightful LinkedIn post about the pitfalls of focusing too heavily on conversions. He asked a client for financial details, which apparently took the client by surprise.
“‘Why do you need to know my financials? Don’t you just need the conversion stats?’ the client asked.”
Baird pointed out that conversions themselves didn’t necessarily mean much if they failed to generate money. You can suffer a negative ROI if you are selling low-ticket items or can’t turn many of your leads into sales.
“Increasing conversions when every sale makes you very little (or loses you money!) won’t help,” Baird writes. “Equally if your conversions are at 75% [then] starting with conversions won’t give you the biggest bang for your efforts.”
Conversions are essential events in your revenue model. However, a specific conversion is useless if you view it as the ultimate end goal.
Learn More: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!)
Do you know what your conversions are really worth? There’s no point in prioritizing them until you know, because determining the value of them is necessary to estimate your ROI.
It’s important to remember that most of your leads will never translate into sales. According to research from Marketing Sherpa, only 7% of leads turn into paying customers. Of course, this is a rough estimate, and conversion rates vary by industry and company. But it shows that the vast majority of conversions never generate any revenue.
Here is the equation you must follow to calculate your lead value:
Lead Value = Lead Conversion Rate * Average Sale from a Conversion
ROI = Lead Value / Average Cost of Generating the Lead
The math behind this model is simple, but these equations can be difficult to apply in real-life situations. Remember that some leads will convert to sales more easily than others. Also, some leads are more likely to convert into higher-paying customers.
You need to understand how certain types of traffic convert and how many of those leads will turn into paying customers.
For example, let’s assume that you are setting up a Google AdWords campaign. You bid on one keyword for $0.40 a click and another for $0.30 a click. You might find that the conversion rate (possibly an e-mail opt-in) on your landing page is 20% for both of these keywords. However, the lead-to-sales rate is 10% for the first keyword but only 5% for the second keyword.
The average revenue from leads generated with the first keyword is $30 and $20 for the second keyword.
In this situation, you’re paying 33% more for every lead that you generate with the first keyword that you’re bidding on. However, you are generating three times as much revenue from each lead with that keyword. This means that your ROI is over 130% higher by bidding on the keyword with the higher CPC.
If you were focused exclusively on generating as many conversions as you could for the lowest possible cost, you would actually be generating a much lower ROI.
Read More: Here’s How to Use Web Analytics to Boost Content Marketing Performance
There are several reasons that a preoccupation with conversions can actually be counterproductive. Here are some issues that you need to be aware of:
You could consider any action that a user takes to be a conversion. Subscribing to an e-mail list, submitting a quote request, or simply visiting your website are all examples of conversions. Unfortunately, none of these actions by themselves yield revenue.
You could easily increase your conversions just by setting lower goals when defining conversions. For example, instead of counting quote requests, you could focus on the number of users that show any interest in one of your products (such as asking a question about the product).
You’ll probably have a higher number of conversions, but you haven’t improved the effectiveness of your marketing funnel.
Some conversions are much more valuable than others. You might encourage 5,000 people to subscribe to your e-mail list, submit a quote request, or take some other action, but few of those leads will ever pan out. Your lead-to-sales conversion rate might be especially low if you make the following mistakes:
Some brands are tempted to make these mistakes because they want to pad their conversion numbers. This can be particularly problematic if you’re relying on a marketing team that’s compensated based on the quantity rather than the quality of your leads. This is why many brands with affiliate programs compensate their affiliates for sales rather than leads.
So, if you shouldn’t worry as much about your site’s specific conversion numbers, what should you put your energy into instead? The following suggestions will help you better create and optimize a fully-functioning funnel:
As mentioned above, conversions are arbitrarily-defined concepts. If you truly want to make your sales funnel work effectively, you’ve got to isolate specific conversion cases and determine exactly which conversions mean the most for business.
Following the description above, opting in to an e-mail list, submitting a quote request or taking other actions (from downloading case studies to making sales) all constitute conversions. And if you focus exclusively on boosting conversions, you’d treat all these options equally, even though — from a business standpoint — they don’t all make an equal contribution to your bottom line.
The point of this article isn’t to convince you that tracking conversions is useless — far from it. The goal is to help you recognize that you need to be more exacting with your measurements. It’ll take some time and effort, but it’s crucial that you identify what a given conversion means to your business in terms of dollars and cents so that you can focus your marketing efforts on the conversion types that move the needle most.
If you aren’t familiar with these acronyms, here’s a breakdown:
We aren’t just talking vegan protein sources here — we’re talking about the content that’s needed to guide website visitors through all stages of your buying process. Each piece of the puzzle is important, and yet TOFU and MOFU content is often set to the side in favor of a focus on conversion-driving bottom of funnel content.
Take a critical look at the content on your website. Can the pieces you’ve created be used to attract a larger audience, as good TOFU content can? Do they help visitors get familiar with the features and benefits of your product or service, as in the case of effective MOFU content? If you’re all about the CTAs and getting viewers to take that last step (BOFU), it may be time to build out your content strategy.
Read More: How We Instantly Raised Average Order Value by 10% [case study]
As you’re expanding your content approach, take a careful look at how you’re attributing your conversions. In that rush to drive conversions and figure out what contributed to them, many marketers give full attribution to the last touch — the final blog post that was read, the final CTA that encouraged action or some other far-down-the-funnel variable. And why wouldn’t they? It’s by far the simplest approach.
That said, it’s a woefully inaccurate way of assessing the value of each piece of the funnel. Instead of putting all your emphasis on encouraging and tracking conversions, give at least some of that energy to the process of investing in and implementing multi-touch attribution technology. Doing so becomes more essential every day in this omni-channel, omni-device world.
Generating leads is essential if you want to earn sales down the road. However, even the most targeted leads don’t turn into customers on their own. You need to carefully nurture them before a sale is made.
If you want to have a workable sales funnel, then you must execute every step correctly. You need a strategy to engage your leads and encourage them to take the next step. This process can take months, so make sure you’re committed to your goals. Keep track of your leads, define how you acquired them, and split test different variables in your marketing funnel to make it as effective as possible.
Have you found that focusing too much on conversions has hurt your ROI? Feel free to share your comments below.
Image: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition. Content marketing is by far one of the best ways to grow your brand and generate profitable leads. So why do many brands only receive modest ROIs from that content? There are two main reasons:
There’s no excuse not to track the performance of your content marketing campaigns when there are so many powerful analytics tools on the market. Google Analytics is one of the oldest and most useful analytics tools available, making it the core of any good content marketing strategy.
Google Analytics is by far the world’s leading online analytics solution, given that an estimated 30 to 50 million websites around the world depend on it. However, many marketers don’t understand its full potential. Google Analytics offers many features that let you create custom reports and get very detailed information about your visitors. In particular, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the following features in order to better optimize your campaigns:
Audience reports provide a massive amount of information on your users. Some of the data that you can uncover with Audience reports includes:
Check the active users’ data under the Audience reports dashboard. Doing so will show you how many times visitors returned to your site over different time intervals, ranging from one to 30 days.
The Audience reports section allows you to track the lifetime value of each user. You can also use this feature to figure out the value of users acquired from different marketing channels, enabling you to determine the ROI of your AdWords, media buying, email marketing, and other campaigns. Read More: 44 Ad Networks that Will Help Open Up New Channels of Growth For You
Knowing the demographics of your users is an often-overlooked aspect of many content marketing campaigns. The Audience reports section provides this detailed demographic information, including the age, gender, and interests of your visitors. Take the example of Scott Perry, Director of E-commerce at Jerome’s Furniture, who found that his Google Analytics reports suggested that women convert 30% better than men and spend nearly twice as much. Based on this data, his company invested more heavily in reaching women through display advertising. He also found that visitors browsing real estate sites converted 50% better, prompting him to increase spending on that demographic as well. Too many brands ignore the demographic data available in Google Analytics because they think they already know which visitors are most interested in their products. Don’t make this mistake. You may be surprised that the demographics of your best-converting customers are different than you expected. Of course, there is one caveat to be aware of: Google Analytics doesn’t appear to be as accurate at identifying visitor ages as gender and affinity information. Don’t ignore it entirely, but for now, take that data with a grain of salt until Google’s methods become more precise.
Identifying the language and location of your visitors is also obviously very important, especially for local businesses. You should already have a rough idea of where your visitors are coming from if you’re running campaigns on AdWords (unless, of course, you didn’t set your targeting properly). However, you might be surprised by the locations of visitors from organic search, direct media buying, and other marketing campaigns that don’t have the same targeting capabilities. This is where Google’s geo data comes in handy, as you can use it to find out which referrers are providing customers in your target region. Unfortunately, this data isn’t that helpful for optimizing your organic search campaigns as it used to be, as Google stopped sharing the data on keyword referrers for organic traffic (though it still provides this data for AdWords campaigns). This means that you won’t be able to identify keywords that are providing a lot of traffic from customers outside your target market. However, you can at least pay attention to the conversion rates of organic search visitors within your target demographic, which will help you to better optimize your landing pages. Read More: How to Do a Content Cleanup (And Grow Your Organic Traffic)
The Audience reports section provides detailed information about the people visiting your site. Acquisition reports tell you where these people came from. The data in these reports is key to optimizing your campaigns, as it will enable you to identify the referrers that are driving your conversions and thus better optimize those campaigns. Here are some tips to use these reports to drill down and optimize your campaigns at an even higher level:
Before you start analyzing your Acquisition reports, make sure your conversion goals are set up properly. If you haven’t done so, your Acquisition reports can still identify the referrers that are driving traffic to your site, but you won’t be able to tell which referrers are driving conversions. Identifying conversions is particularly important if you’re relying on paid traffic, such as AdWords. You’re investing a lot of money in your advertising campaigns, so make sure you’re getting the data you need to optimize them.
The Channels section gives a broad overview of all of the places that are driving traffic to your site. It breaks traffic down by various sources, including organic search, direct, and referral. One of the great things about the Channels section is that it provides a graph to help you visualize which places are giving you the most traffic. You can click on each of these sections to find more details on the people visiting your site.
Take a look at the individual referrers that are driving traffic. These referrers are broken up by domain, so you can identify the specific sites and advertising platforms that are providing the most visitors. There are a couple ways that you can look at the referrers to your site:
Pay close attention to both the volume of visitors from each of your referrers and the ROI that you’re receiving from them. You may find that some traffic sources such as StumbleUpon provide a huge volume of traffic, but have low conversion rates.
The keywords section is probably the most important part of your Acquisition reports, and it’s crucial if you’re relying on paid search traffic from AdWords or Bing. Many new marketers are surprised by how much their keywords affect conversions. A visitor who clicked on your ad while searching for the phrase “Houston real estate company” may be much more likely to convert than a visitor who was searching for the phrase “Houston real estate agent.” You have no way of knowing that until you launch your campaign and check the data from your Acquisition reports.
Tracking conversions from every single ad, landing page, keyword, and referrer can be tedious. Sometimes it’s better to just get a general idea of which practices are working. To do this, break down your content marketing strategies into different campaigns. Make sure your campaigns are as granular as possible so you can get detailed data on which practices are working. You may want to have several different AdWords campaigns (each of which may have a different landing page or angle), a campaign for native ads with your blog posts, and another for organic search traffic. You can easily look at the data from your various campaigns to see which are converting best, and this will save you countless hours that you would otherwise spend drilling down through all of your referrers, web pages, and keywords to look for trends.
There are a couple other valuable reports, but they aren’t quite as comprehensive, so I’ll just give a brief overview here. Behavior reports are one of the first to take a look at. They provide some detailed information on the actions that users take on your site, including:
Your Behavior reports can help you optimize your content marketing strategy by monitoring how visitors engage with your content. The Conversions reports is another section worth looking at, as it provides a detailed overview of all your conversions. You can also monitor this information from other sections in Google Analytics, as listed above, but this section saves you a lot of work, as it allows you to see detailed information in one place. Use this data to determine which strategies to scale and which to abandon. Read More: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!)
There’s a reason that tens of millions of websites use Google Analytics – it’s hands down the best free marketing analytics tool on the web. If you don’t already have it set up, make it a priority today. Truly, you won’t be able to optimize your content marketing strategy without it. What other interesting insights have you noticed by using Google Analytics? Share your insights in the comments below: Images: Pixabay, Flickr, Flickr, Flickr
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
As marketers, we’re always trying to get more leads for our businesses.
But the problem is that all the traditional paid traffic channels are only getting more expensive. The average cost per click on Google Adwords is around $1-$2, with the most expensive ads costing $50 or more.
This means that the average small business spends over $100,000 on AdWords alone each year.
Facebook ads are still relatively underpriced, but they’re rising quickly: average CPC is around 40 cents worldwide, an increase of about 10 cents from 2015.
With the rising cost of paid traffic, it’s important to hit all the “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to boosting your lead generation — and conversion rate optimization is the best way to identify and fix problems that already exist.
By making your conversion flow more efficient, you’ll increase your numbers without spending any extra money, which means that you’ll see a higher ROI on your existing investment.
In this post, we’ll show you how to run conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests on your website, what tools you should be using, and show you a few CRO case studies.
The first step to getting started with CRO is auditing every step of your marketing funnel. Without gathering data, you’re just guessing on what changes you should make, which means that you’ll waste time and effort on tests that don’t get you more leads instead of learning something that will boost your ROI.
What you want to do is gather data in a both quantitative and qualitative way.
Quantitative data helps you break down the numbers at each step in your funnel and figure out where the leaks are, while qualitative data can give you some deep insight into the real pain points of your customers. This can help you refine your marketing copy across the board and boost conversions.
Learn More: Step by Step Guide: How to Build a High Quality Marketing Funnel
Here are some ways you can start measuring qualitative and quantitative data:
Google Analytics is a simple way to figure out how many people are dropping off at each step of your funnel and where the biggest leaks are. By measuring the data around your funnel, you can get better insight as to the cause of confusion for your customers at certain steps.
But first, you’ll need to set up conversion goals and funnels in Google Analytics.
Your conversion funnel in Google Analytics will show you what “flow” users go through on your site. Here’s an example of what this might look like if you’re trying to measure your order flow:
In the image above, users first add an item to their cart, move to the billing page, then to the payment page, then to the order review page, and finally to the sales confirmation page. It’s pretty easy to see that the largest drop off here between the “add to cart” stage and the billing page.
When it comes to optimizing conversions, you can see that it’s pretty straightforward: you’d focus on reducing cart abandonment. No guesswork here.
Learn More: How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics
One of the biggest wins you can get when it comes to CRO is optimizing your marketing copy. By making your copy more targeted to your audience’s specific pain points, you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll stay on your site longer — more so than if you just made design changes.
Surveys are a great way to understand how to optimize your marketing copy. You can use tools like Qualaroo (to survey your website visitors) or SurveyMonkey (to survey your audience from your e-mail list or another source).
For example, here are some survey questions that we asked our audience (via SurveyMonkey) to see how we could improve our marketing course, GrowthVault.
We matched each survey response to demographic categories with the following questions:
What revenue range does your business fall under?
How many employees does your business have?
These questions are designed to elicit open-ended, story-like responses. From there, we can pick the right stories and write compelling copy to get more customers.
Usability tests are great to see what barriers prevent users from placing orders or completing a specific call to action on your site.
You can get a group of “test” users who are part of the same demographic as your ideal customer and give them a set of tasks to perform on your site — such as going through the process of placing an order. You can either watch them or have them record their screen as they’re going through this process and have them “think” out loud as they’re figuring out what to do.
Chances are you’ll find that certain areas of your site are hard to navigate or have unnecessary friction.
A quick way to conduct usability tests at once is by using a site like UserTesting.
UserTesting has a wide range of testers from different demographics. To make sure that you’re getting the right people looking at your site, you can create filters and screener questions. For example, you can have people answer what industry they work in before they go through your website.
You can also set your demographic filters by criteria like age, gender, country, and even what device they should use.
Depending on how much traffic you’re getting to your site, a small increase in conversion rates could result in massive amounts of revenue.
For example, Brookdale, a senior living solutions website, was able to boost their monthly revenue by $106,000 just by replacing the home page banner video with an image when they realized that their target audience was not as likely to watch video.
Just by changing the copy of their CTA, Lifeproof was able to boost their monthly revenue by 16%.
Conversion rate optimization is one area of marketing where small changes can result in huge boosts in revenue over time. In this section, we’ll talk about how to run an A/B test.
There are variety of tools out there today that let marketers run A/B tests without needing to know how to code. Here are some examples:
Which tool you use isn’t as important as being able to run a large number of tests as fast as possible.
According to Instapage, here are some major page elements you should consider testing when running landing page tests:
One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is trying to be clever instead of being clear in their copy. This is especially true for headlines. You only have 10-20 seconds to attract users with your headline, so while you might think that being clever will make your post sound more interesting, it actually just adds more complexity — and complexity reduces conversions.
By making their headline more clear, Movexa, a supplement company, was able to to boost their conversions by nearly 90%.
Their original headline copy looked like the following:
The headline said “Natural Joint Relief.” The hypothesis was that if they added the word “supplement” to their headline copy (so that it said “Natural Joint Relief Supplement”), it would add more clarity to what the offer is and what the company does.
Once they tested this hypothesis through a variation page, they found that it did indeed beat the control by 89.97%. This just goes to show how even a small amount of vagueness in the headline can reduce your conversions drastically. Be sure to optimize for clarity over cleverness or design.
Adding a well-placed call to action is a small tweak you can make on any site to increase conversions.
For example, Consolidated Label, a food label manufacturer, tested a new web page design with a prominent call to action. Their original web page didn’t have a clear call to action:
They tested a variation page with a more prominent call to action, which asked visitors to request a quote:
If users can’t tell what they’re supposed to do once they get to your page, then it’s likely that your call to action isn’t prominent enough.
Once Consolidated Label tested this variation, they noticed a 62% increase in conversions.
Learn More: How To Create CTAs that Actually Cause Action
Most marketers think that short copy is better. We’ve had it beat into our heads that people don’t have long attention spans, and that the only way to get anyone to take action is by keeping all your copy — landing page, e-mail copy, etc. — brief.
The truth is, shorter copy isn’t always better for conversions. In some cases, longer is better. For example, if you’re selling a high-priced product, then you’ll need to build a longer, deeper relationship with your users before they can trust you and be willing to transact with you.
Even your headline copy can benefit from lengthier rather than shorter.
Check out these two versions of a landing page:
Most people would think that Version A resulted in higher conversions because of the cleaner design and shorter copy on the hero image.
However, version B increased conversions by 38%. The reason for this is because the additional sub-heading highlights key features of the product in bold lettering, which makes the features easier to see. Reading “let urgent e-mails cut through the clutter and find you instantly” is more compelling than “let us find your urgent messages.”
At the end of the day, of course, the more clear and direct you can make your copy, the more compelling it will be, no matter the length.
The more friction that stands between users completing an action, the less likely they are to complete that action. Requiring unnecessary fields on a form is one of the quickest ways to reduce the number of conversions you get on your site.
You can also increase conversions by allowing users to check boxes instead of entering text, since this takes less effort.
For example, this B2B company boosted their number of leads by 368.5% just reducing the amount of text users had to enter and changing their button color on the form.
What works best on landing pages isn’t always obvious.
There are many competing factors that determine whether people convert or not. Simplicity matters (which you can get through short copy), but clarity matters, too (which might require longer copy).
Giving users the information they need about your business is important (i.e. through an explainer video), but it’s also important to reduce the number of options that are available on the page.
The best way, overall, to get better conversion rates is to figure out exactly what your audience wants, be as clear and compelling as possible, and then test it.
What are some interesting CRO test results that you’ve seen in the past? Let us know in the comments below!
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
It’s enough to strike fear into even the most experienced of marketers and bloggers. It can seem like torture by tedium. It’s often the stuff of nightmares. What is this unholy monster?
The content audit.
A well-executed content audit done on an annual basis can deliver big insights into your website’s blog and content marketing strategy that far exceeds its ho-hum reputation.
Too often, we post something and then never go back to it again. Years later, it’s outdated, stale, and completely irrelevant. Good practice demands that we return to our content periodically to ensure that everything is as fresh and beautiful as the day it was released to the world.
A content audit involves taking a look at all the content on your website and assessing its relative strengths and weaknesses in order to prioritize your future marketing activities. It’s a qualitative assessment and evaluation based on the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that you select beforehand.
This process should not be confused with a content inventory, which is simply an accounting of all these different assets. In other words, it’s a quantitative collection. Although a content inventory is part of the audit process, the audit itself goes much further in depth. The Content Analysis Tool (CAT) can make content inventories a snap. When you start off on the right foot, the rest of the journey is that much easier.
When performed correctly, a good audit will help you to answer questions about the content pieces on your site:
An audit will tell you where you need to focus your future efforts in terms of both an SEO and content marketing perspective. And it can even give you insight into potential changes that will improve your lead generation, sales, and marketing processes.
If you’re struggling to understand your visitors’ behavior on your website or why your current marketing initiatives aren’t working, a content audit is easily one of the best things you can do for your business.
But before we get into the step-by-step process of conducting one, you need to answer a few questions.
There could be any number of reasons. There’s no one correct approach for conducting a content audit – the exact steps you’ll take will depend on your reasons for undergoing the process in the first place.
Typically, content audits are conducted for two primary reasons:
Of course, there’s no reason you can’t do both. While you’re digging through your SEO metrics, it’s easy to jot down your content marketing data as well. Or you might be approaching your content audit from a slightly different perspective. Whatever the case may be, being clear about your intentions ahead of time will help to streamline the process and minimize extra effort. Know why you’re doing before you start doing it.
A good content audit is a time-consuming process. If you’re currently swamped with other priorities, undertaking such a massive project may not be the best use of your time or energy. If you can’t devote the proper resources to it, it’s better to wait until you can.
But if the project must be done, keep in mind that you do have options. Instead of undertaking the entire audit process by yourself, delegate some of the data-gathering steps to another employee in your organization or to an outsourced worker hired through sites like Guru or Upwork.
You also have the option of completing only small sections of the audit at any given time, or paying for tools that help to automate parts of your research process (gone are the days of having to manually sift through everything yourself!). More on this later.
Before you begin, be clear about the reason you’re conducting a content audit in the first place. If you aren’t going to take action based on the data that your audit produces, you might as well skip the process altogether. An audit for the sake of an audit is a waste of time and resources.
Any of the following are potential content audit goals. You may have others that are not on this list, and you’ll likely have more than one in mind as you go through it.
That’s the theory. Now let’s put it in practice.
To help illustrate how to do a content audit, we’ve created John, a business owner with a heart of gold. He runs a small software company that’s developed an SaaS budgeting tool.
He’s invested in content marketing for about a year, but he isn’t sure whether all the time he’s spent blogging, creating videos, and releasing infographics has paid off. As a result, he decides to conduct a content audit to see how his individual content pieces are performing and what – if anything – he should do differently in the future.
Because John only has five employees – all of whom are busy wearing multiple hats already – he decides to take on the audit process by himself. Because he’s a busy guy, he keeps the scope of his audit small, checking only the content he’s created in the past year and tracking only a few variables that indicate success to him.
Remember, the size and scope of your audit is completely up to you. This is not an all-or-nothing scenario. Do what you can when you can do it.
We’ll revisit John a little later on.
If you’ve finished your homework (you did answer the questions above, right?), it’s time to get started. Try the following three-step process to complete your website’s first content audit (and feel free to amend it for subsequent ones):
Unsurprisingly, the first step in completing a content audit is to find all your content. You have two different options for doing so:
Enter or import all the URLs you find into an Excel or Google Docs spreadsheet, leaving plenty of columns for the data you’ll gather in Step #2. Or, if you’d rather not reinvent the wheel, you can add your links to any of the following freely-available content inventory and audit templates:
Most audits use a spreadsheet to organize the data, but it’s not the only way. If you despise Excel for some reason (no judgement), you could opt for the WordPress Content Audit plugin. This tool allows you to create a content inventory directly in the Edit screens in WordPress. Set a few conditions, and you’re good to go.
Just go with whatever you’re most comfortable with. Set yourself up for success by using the tools and methods that work for you.
Which brings us back to John, our savvy business owner from Seattle. Because his site is small and he’s pressed for time, he uses Screaming Frog to create the URL list pictured below:
To upload your CSV file into Google Sheets, go to File > Import > Upload and select the saved file from your computer. Easy-peasy.
John is well on his way with a handy list of all his URLs. Step 1? Check!
Remember those columns I mentioned earlier? Now’s the time to set them up and fill them out.
The exact data points you’ll want to gather will, again, depend on the goals of your audit, as well as the complexity you want to achieve. Although the lists below may look daunting, it isn’t necessary to collect data on every possible variable. In fact, you may be able to achieve the goals you set for yourself with only a handful of possible data points.
Potential SEO data points to gather (many of these are automatically generated by Screaming Frog):
Potential content marketing data points to gather:
Other items to track:
Once you’ve selected the data points you’ll measure as part of your content audit, label a column in your spreadsheet for each one.
Now comes the fun part — time to do the heavy lifting of data collection (and yes, “fun” is subjective)!
Let’s get back to our pal John…
Since his primary goal is to determine what’s working with his current content marketing strategy, he decides to evaluate the following metrics:
While he could track other pieces of data as part of his audit – and probably glean additional insights from doing so – analyzing only this limited number of metrics makes it possible for John to complete his content audit while juggling his other responsibilities. The way he looks at it, he can always go back and add more to his analysis if he has the time down the road.
To find the data points he’s decided upon, John uses the following resources:
Learn More: How to Set Up Goals and Funnels in Google Analytics
Once John is done gathering this data, he goes back through his list and assigns a score to each page on an “A – F” rating scale of his own creation.
Pages that receive “A” scores are his cream-of-the-crop, top-performing pages, while those that earn “F” scores are ones he’s embarrassed to find on his site. He also adds a note to his spreadsheet showing the date that his audit was created for the purpose of planning future audits.
And even though John didn’t do this, you could also head over to the Google Search Console to pull even more conveniently organized data. Click on Search Analytics, select Pages, and check Clicks, Impressions, and CTR to get a quick snapshot of how individual pages are performing.
There’s a “Download” button at the bottom of the page if you want to export the data as a CSV file and add it to your ever-expanding spreadsheet.
If your site is large, expect the data-gathering process to take a long time. It’s not uncommon for audits to take days, weeks or even months to complete, depending on the size of the website and the organizational resources that are available for the process.
But even if your content inventory is completed quickly, you’ve still got another important step to take – actually putting all your information to use.
To be sure you’re getting something substantive out of your content audit process, you need to establish a set of recommended actions you’ll take once the audit is complete. And in order to do that, you need to dive into the data you’ve collected in order to draw conclusions.
It could be as simple as adding one more column to your spreadsheet: “Action.”
Here, you make the call as to what should happen to each individual content asset, like:
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules that say, “If your content data indicates [this], do [that].” Instead, you’ve got to look at the data you’ve gathered and see if you can identify any trends that could inform your eventual recommended actions.
Take a look at John’s spreadsheet below and see if anything jumps out at you:
Here are a few observations you might have made:
After further exploration, John decides to take the following actions after the completion of his content audit:
An audit might focus on content quality, the customer experience, content performance, or any combination of these.
Use the results of your content audit to come up with 5-10 actions you’ll take after completing it, based on any patterns that emerge from your data.
Then, set deadlines for yourself in order to put these actions into play and block out whatever time you’ll need to do so on your calendar. Add a deadline right into your spreadsheet (when it comes to columns, you can never have too many!).
One important thing to note here. When you’re staring at the mountains of data your content audit may generate, it’s easy to find yourself struck down by analysis paralysis. Basically, there are so many conclusions you could draw and so many things you could do, that you wind up doing none of them. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap.
Content marketer Pawel Grabowski offers many helpful suggestions to combat analysis paralysis, such as focus on what’s most important, break decisions down into bite-sized steps, and don’t worry about being perfect!
As long as you’re tracking your metrics and regularly revisiting the content audit process, you’ll see these shifts occurring and be able to remedy them long before they become big problems plaguing your site’s performance.
If you’ve caught the auditing bug while going through the content analysis process, you can always take the skills you’ve learned to expand your audit beyond the borders of just your website.
So now you know everything there is to know about your own content. But unless you have a truly unique product or service, you’re not the only show in town. You have competition for customers.
The performance of your content will always be tied, in some ways, to the content that your competitors put out. Even if their pieces don’t directly prevent visitors from seeing yours, there is a limited number of consumers out there and they all have a finite amount of attention. If they’re using all their energy focusing on the competition’s content, they may not have enough mental focus left to pay attention to yours.
Conducting an audit of your competitor’s content is similar to assessing your own, but with a few limitations. There are a few metrics that you may not be able to pull without having direct access to your their website and accounts. Bounce rate, average time on page, and conversion rate are three in particular that are difficult to discover without accessing the site’s Google Analytics profile or marketing automation account.
But that said, there are still plenty of different things you can track. You can evaluate the number of links pointing at your competitor’s content pages using tools like Majestic Site Explorer or BuzzSumo’s Backlinks.
You can measure social shares by looking for a share counter on the post itself, or entering the post URL into a service like BuzzSumo to see a detailed breakdown with their Most Shared feature. It might not be a complete audit, but even conducting this limited level of assessment will give you plenty of actionable data on areas where your competitors are currently outperforming your site.
What works for them? Can you improve on it in some way (the Skyscraper Technique is a fabulous way to bring in oodles of traffic)? Which sites are linking to them that might potentially link to you if approached with a powerful piece of content or a fantastic guest post idea?
Another way to expand your content audit is to include your off-site content assets (if they’re relevant to your audit goals). For example, if you’re assessing the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts, you’ll want to include as much data as possible on any infographics, slide decks, or other external content pieces you’ve released to promote brand recognition and viral sharing.
Again, your ability to track the metrics listed above on these content pieces will vary based on the sites hosting them. Gather what you can, but also look for other types of data that are unique to external content sources.
As an example, looking at your Google Analytics account should show you the number of visits that each external piece sent to your site. Comparing referred visits across external content pieces can be a great way to determine the direction of your next big content release.
Check out Reporting > Acquisition > Channels for a general breakdown of traffic by organic, direct, referral, and social (and select Referrals if you want to see the specific points of origin).
And if you utilize custom URLs with UTM parameters, for example, you can instantly see what content is sending the most traffic your way from offsite.
In addition to assessing your offsite content pieces, you can apply the audit process to your other marketing channels. If you run print ads in trade publications, try to determine how many inquiries you’ve received from each ad (hint – this is easiest to do if you record the source of your first touch with a new prospect in your CRM after your first conversation).
Or take a close look at your e-mail marketing campaigns. Is the content in your autoresponders still up-to-date? Do you have some messages that have a higher open rate than others? Services like MailChimp and AWeber have robust analytics at the ready.
Read More: 5 Ways Cold Emailing Can Help Generate Backlinks
When it comes down to it, a content audit isn’t just a one-off process that you conduct once in a blue moon. It’s a mindset that you should apply to both your website content and the other marketing channels you use.
By carefully inventorying your existing content pieces and assessing the data you’ve gathered for each item, you can make informed marketing decisions that will help you to save time, cut costs, grow your brand, and improve your overall advertising ROI.
And remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. Content audits can take many shapes, routes, approaches, and scopes. It all depends on your needs and your goals.
What content audit tools do you use to make it go a bit smoother? What insights did your last audit reveal?