The No BS Intuitive Guide To SEO Success

SEO is one of those secretive beasts that has been the obsession of online marketers since the dawn of their profession. Especially with the event of one search engine pulling far ahead of the rest in its usage, an intense culture was born out of focusing on how to best game or manipulate Google’s search algorithms over the years.

Now, for better or for worse – and I think for better – Google has wised up and, through a series of updates, brought their algorithms into the modern day by being able to account for the factors that make a site most relevant to users today. While this is great for Google’s users, it does mean that getting your site on top of relevant search results is no longer a simple matter of pulling the right strings for a few days and awaiting results. So, without further adieu, here are a few ways you can ensure your SEO success in 2015 and beyond.

Google knows what it wants, and so do you!

Google’s end game has always been about providing the best user experience possible. They want to make sure that the results they display are getting people to their desired answers as quickly as possible. While there are literally thousands of metrics that go into determining what websites best service the interests of a given query, a little bit of honesty about your site can go a long way in getting results. In every decision you make, you should be evaluating your options from a consumer perspective: Don’t think about your bottom line, or your conversions, or your sales funnel. Instead, figure out what decision will provide the best possible experience for people searching your niche. Have you adequately answered an asked question?

Will your bounce rate remain low because people want to stick around and read what you have to say? These kinds of questions can help you honestly evaluate the usefulness of your site.

Social Indicators Are Huge

If you aren’t killing it in social media already, you’re behind the curve – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get started now anyways!

Google has been known to, since the beginning of their work as a search engine – weight links and references to your sites as more or less important depending on where they come from. Nowadays, you can bet that social “buzz” is a metric taken into account by Google when ranking any site.

Now, being an expert in your market requires you to also take your social controls by the horns and get active. Promoting your own brand and site(s) through social can generate a kind of natural traction, providing you’re putting out good content – that Google has no choice but to love. Well, that is, until the game changes again.

Ride Waves, Don’t chase Them

The best note to leave you on has to do with education. Simply put, you should be researching SEO and social bloggers and thought leaders regularly. Keeping up is half the battle, and you never know which big trend you can ride the front of and end up catapulted to the top of your market.

How to Improve Churn Rate – Part 2

Welcome to part two of this series on reducing churn rate. Let’s jump right into a few methods for keeping customer retention high and making sure no one is jumping ship!

Shamelessly One-Up

Savvy businessmen and women know that keeping an eye on the competition is key, and nowhere is this more important than in customer acquisition and churn rate assessments. Take time out of every day, week, or month – depending on the cycle time and speed of your market – to research what your competitors have been up to. Are they doing something that you aren’t? If so, is it something that you, as a customer, would want and benefit from? Be honest here. If the answer is “yes,” think about how you could not only implement something similar, but how you could improve on it.

This is simply part of the process of continuously adding value to a business, and keeping an eye on competition helps you to gauge the rate at which you should be doing so. Rather than trying to slowly dole out new goodies to your customers, challenge yourself to give away new value as it comes about in real time. This also means that you won’t be able to rest on your laurels, and will have to constantly innovate in order to have bigger and better offers for your customers. Seem like tough work? It is – and it’s also how industry leaders get to the top.

Get Personal, Don’t Automate

Automation is one of the trickiest things to master when your business begins to grow. You want to be able to manage everything at once, but losing the personal touch you may have begun with can be detrimental to your relationship with leads and customers.

As a rule of thumb, it’s ok to automate, but don’t fake it. This means that things like post-purchase emails, etc. can be automated, and are expected to be. By the same token, don’t fake communications so that they are automated but are actually canned, pre-written, and going out to 5,000 people.

For example, let’s say you write an email for your list to announce a new offer. Don’t use silly name tagging to fake personalization.

People see straight through that, and it is (rightfully) perceived as phony. People understand that they are part of a mailing list, so don’t try to convince them otherwise.

If they write to you, however, respond personally. If that becomes logistically impossible, then make it clear that a support team is the one helping to field questions and concerns. Also, keep in mind that “impossible” should mean something different to you as an entrepreneur. You should be a time management ninja, and also realize that your work day might be 10 12, or 16 hours, not eight.

Ride the Wave, Don’t Chase It

Even more important than watching the competition is to keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and the context within which it exists.

Recently, Facebook noticed (and has helped champion) the bringing of rudimentary mobile internet to new countries that have never had such services. The company launched a stripped-down, Facebook Lite app to better accommodate these low-bandwidth markets. As soon as new mobile plans hit these countries, Facebook will be one of the first apps available.

Be the Facebook of your industry. Sound like big shoes to fill? They are! But the point is that you should be looking to ride along with new trends as they crest, and leave everyone else to chase after you. That is, of course, the mark of an industry leader after all, isn’t it?

How to Improve Churn Rate – Part 1

Heard of churn rate? If not, well, yikes! Churn rate, in a nutshell, is the rate at which your big business water bottle is leaking out customers – to put it visually. Businesses with high churn rates are at risk of spinning their wheels or even losing money. For example, a business with a churn rate that is equal to its rate of growth will not only have no net growth, but could also be losing money if it’s paying into an advertising and marketing budget to acquire that customers that help its numbers stay “even.”

Further complicating the situation is the fact that churn rate can actually be measured in a number of different ways. It can be:

– The percentage of customers lost over a certain time

– The number of customers lost over a certain time

– The dollar value of recurring business lost

and more.

The bottom, line, however, is that a high churn rate is universally an indicator of the need for some patchwork in your business. This two part series is going to explore several ways in which you can actively combat your churn rate. More specifically, we’ll explore strategies for preempting churn – it is almost universally easier to retain customers than to reacquire them after they are already lost (intuitively, this makes sense).

Step Onto the Scene with a Bang!

One of the first steps to churn rate is to nail the first impression.

When someone signs up for your mailing list or subscribes to your services, you want them to be excited about being part of your ‘family’. What you don’t want is for them to just barely be pushed over the decision threshold, ready to back out at the first sign of doubt.

For most online marketers, this means having professional, slick interface, website, and user experience design from the beginning. Just as a job interview is your first chance to make an impression on a potential employer, your website is a first point of contact for impressing new leads. It also means putting forth a killer offer from the beginning that jumps out as a must-have. By extension, this means getting your targeting perfect from the beginning. Landing pages need to be optimized for the search terms and/or channels people use to reach them. Split test the heck out of your pages, and put in the work to make different landing spots for different pathways of entry.

Follow-up On Promises!

Admittedly, anyone can make a good initial impression by writing up a great offer, but your immediate turn rate will largely be determined by how well leads feel their expectations are being delivered on. If you promise a solution, don’t fall into the trap that so many internet marketers fall victim to by only giving away half solutions.

Let’s say you run a product on how to lose weight. Your mailing list opt-in form promises a guide on how to lose your first 10 pounds. Some marketers would send a guide out with the first two steps of a four step method to dropping weight. But not you! No! You’re going to give a complete method that will really start to change scale readouts. Your email series is actually going to be useful (what a concept!).

You’ll be building trust, and, though it’s counterintuitive, customers will be more likely to make a purchase of a weight loss system from you after you’ve already given them something that produces results. What you’re selling can help them build on the progress they’ve already seen.

Obviously, this can apply to any niche!

Alright, that’s it for the time being – see you all in part two.

How to Get Your Emails Opened in 2015

Email marketing is still extremely relevant in 2015 but, like most things, approaches have had to be evolved in order to remain effective.

No place is this more true that with opening rates, in which marketers evaluate how often their email communications are opened and read.

Every email you send that doesn’t get read is a missed opportunity, and subject line tricks and formulas that may have worked a few years ago might not carry the same weight today. Much of this is due to the problem of volume inundation. The average email account today is spammed with anywhere between tens and hundreds of junk communications per day, on top of a varying volume of legitimate/wanted ones.

Along with this inundation, comes the fact that people have become desensitized to sensational headlines. Things that may have piqued interest in 2010 now just scream “scam!” or “yeah right, I don’t believe THAT!” to the average consumer.

What all of this means, in a nutshell, is that you’ve got to get creative in order to get opens these days. At the very least, you’ll need to invest in some longterm strategic thinking.

In fact, your plan for improving open rates should be occurring long before an actual email is sent or a subject line is read. The largest factor in any open is going to be the sender, so you need to make sure you have established trust with whoever you are mailing.

One of the first steps to this, and something I cannot stress enough, is using confirmed – also called “double” opt in. It forces people to see your name twice, and gets the recognition process started. The people you lose because they couldn’t be bothered to confirm their subscription were probably not great prospects to begin with.

Next, make your opt-in incentive excellent. I mean award-winning. Make it actually useful and give them something they’re not finding somewhere else. Most marketers in any given niche are giving away half-solutions or useless “5 steps” PDF’s – be the one person in your area who isn’t.

Next, and this is probably a step where the most dropoff in open rates occurs despite not getting much attention, is that you ensure that the quality of your email followups can compete with that of your first email/incentive. Especially your second and third email, really overdeliver and give people information they can’t live without. Really prove you’ve done your homework and have the answers they’re looking for.

I cannot stress this enough. People get hung up on writing the perfect subject line when the reality is that you could have the worst headlines in the game and still pull off stellar open rates if you’re a trusted sender whose advice is valued. By the same token, you could find your traditionally excellent subject line methods scoring low on open percentage because no one remembers who you are or thought that it became too obvious early on that you were more interested in selling to them than helping them.

Once you have this trust established, feel free to go crazy with your subject line split testing, but know that this step – the one email marketers spend probably the most time on – is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Copywriting Toolbox: The ‘Foot in the Door’ Technique

Most marketers are serious do-it-yourselfers. They’re learning constantly about all kinds of different facets of marketing and trying to put what they learn into practice all with just one pair of hands.

Most internet marketing guides will tell you to begin outsourcing and managing as early as possible, to help grow your business at the fastest rate possible, but this kind of management role isn’t always feasible if you aren’t entering into your entrepreneurship journey with some startup capital.

Oftentimes, you’ll have to make something work all on your own, and copywriting is no different. There’s a reason that there’s an entire industry dedicated to having someone else write your web copy, sales letters, email series, and more – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a bang-up job yourself with a little bit of know-how. Today, we’re going to go over the “foot in the door” copywriting technique; it’s a classic copywriting move that can help you to increase responsiveness by easing into your propositions (purchases, sign ups, referrals, or whatever constitutes a successful conversion for your business).

The foot in the door principle is based upon the fact that people are naturally resistant to taking large steps out of the blue. This is, for example, why telephone salespeople have to work through such a large volume of number registries to keep sales at an acceptable level. That said, this resistance tends to lessen when the ‘ask’ becomes less and less of a hassle or monetary obligation for someone. Obviously, you would be more likely to try a new type of shampoo if it cost $5 per bottle than if it were $15.

Those studying (anecdotally) copywriting psychology posited that perhaps these smaller actions could be used to build trust, and thus, over time, increase the chances that someone would agree to a larger ask. As luck would have it, for you, they were right.

The first time I learned of the technique, it was written something like this: If someone came to your door and asked you to put a large political yard sign out endorsing a certain candidate, you would likely be resistant (even if it came from a party you identified with). But let’s say, instead, campaigners ask you to take just an “I support [candidate name]!” button.

You’ll never wear it, but the ask is small and you agree; there doesn’t seem to be any harm in doing so. Let’s say that a week or two later, the same people come by and this time they are asking about the yard sign.

You may have said no before, but you already agreed with them once, and the button spurred you into doing a bit of research on the candidate, and now maybe you’re more open to a public endorsement. Without a doubt, the second strategy will end up with more lawn signs in more yards.

No matter what your business is, you can use this same technique. In your own business, think of how you can get someone to agree to something small before you ask them for something big. In sales letters, you’ll notice that copywriters often pose questions with seemingly obvious answers.

“Do you want to cure your acne this week?”

“Do you agree that acne creates an unattractive, juvenile appearance?”

The purpose of these questions is to bait readers into mentally agreeing and nodding along; if they’ve already agreed with you on one thing, they’re more likely to agree with you on the next thing as well. In your own businesses, think about how you can use this technique to ‘soften’ any ask you have – you might just be surprised at how dramatically conversion rates change when correctly implementing it.