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1 4 Simple Ways to Grow Your Service Business Online

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photo credit: flickr

Service businesses don’t get much love on the internet. It seems like all the best online marketing advice is reserved for software startups or product based companies.

What about folks who sell good old fashion services? We have needs too.

The good news is there are strategies that are working incredibly well for service providers. These strategies are proven, battle-tested, and ready for you to put to work.

#1 – Email Newsletter

Social media gets all the fame and glory. But according to a study by McKinsey & Company, email is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined.

Why is email such a powerful medium? Not only is delivery almost guaranteed — there’s a lot less noise in the inbox than on social media. Your email is far more likely to reach its recipient than a tweet or Facebook post.

The challenge is getting permission to enter the inbox. To entice prospects to join, your newsletter offer needs to evoke the fear of missing out.

Case Study: Bond Beebe Accountants & Advisors has an entire library of accounting newsletters. From taxation to payroll, their newsletters are indispensable to CFOs and Controllers — the kind of people who decide which accounting firm to hire.

#2 – Guest Blogging

If you’re reading this, you’re witnessing the power of guest blogging first hand. I’m a service provider and I know my target audience reads Duct Tape Marketing — that’s why I’m here.

If my strategy works, you’ll be intrigued by this post and you’ll click over to my website to join my newsletter. After that, it’s up to me to make sure you never regret it.

The odd guest post here and there won’t do much for you though. Guest blogging only becomes powerful when you start regularly showing up on your industry’s popular blogs.

Case Study: Rachel Rodgers is an intellectual property lawyer. She recently made waves among Copyblogger’s massive audience of digital media producers when she wrote this post on how to protect your content.

#3 – Podcasting

Podcasting today is where blogging was 10 years ago. It’s getting crowded, but there’s still tons of opportunity to stand out and reach your audience.

You don’t need to be some kind of entertainer or radio personality to produce a successful podcast either. In fact, the easiest way to build a popular podcast is to interview other experts in your industry.

Interview based podcasts are not only less work to produce — they also grow faster because your guests will share the interview with their networks.

Case Study: Trent Dyrsmid is a digital marketer who runs the Bright Ideas podcast. His podcast quickly rose to the top through high profile interviews with people like Jay Baer, Guy Kawasaki, Rand Fishkin, Michael Stelzner, and more.

#4 – Online Courses

Online courses are becoming a popular medium for service providers because they offer an opportunity to build extreme trust before the sale.

If your space is ripe with DIYers who think they can do it on their own — they’ll jump at the opportunity to learn how to do what you do. Then it becomes your job to demonstrate why the task is better left to the pros.

On the other hand, if you offer a service that people know they can’t do on their own, your course will differentiate you from the competition by demonstrating your expertise and authority.

In both cases, if your course delivers the goods, you should be top of mind when it comes to making a hiring decision.

Case Study: Henneke Duistermaat offers a free 16-part snackable writing course on her website. Why would Henneke give away her “trade secrets” for free? Because she knows that many of her students will eventually end up hiring a professional copywriter.

Where should you start?

If you’re just getting started with your online presence, start with a simple email newsletter.

Email is a low-stakes way to get your feet wet and start producing content right away. Done right, the process of publishing an email newsletter will generate plenty of ideas to fuel your guest posts, podcast, and online courses.

Ready to get started planning a newsletter? Download this worksheet today.

 

IMG_1864Ahmad Munawar is the founder of Boutique Growth — a digital marketing agency for professional services firms. He helps professional service providers and consultants generate more leads, win bigger deals, and accelerate growth. Ready to take your service business to the next level? Join his once-a-week email newsletter for expert marketing advice you don’t want to miss.

2 How to increase conversion rate on your blog

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Giles Thomas   – Enjoy! 

featured-imageDo you often ask yourself:

How do I get more people to sign up to my blog?

Why is no one joining our email list?

Generating leads from your blog is no easy task.

It can be difficult to keep writing content when your conversion rate is low, 1% or even less.

Through testing and trial and error we came up with a technique that not only makes your visitors happy but also increases your conversions rates.

Convert more visitors to email subscribers using the Content Cliffhanger Technique

I struggled with conversion rate just like you, I had a pretty ok conversion rate of 3% until I discovered a fairly unknown marketing technique.

The Content Cliffhanger Technique

In three easy steps I went from 3% to a site-wide conversion rate of 22.46%!

First I’ll explain the psychology behind the technique then I’ll show you how.

Information Loops

Just like in a tv series or film, when it comes to blog conversions cliffhangers work like a charm!

This is due to something called the ‘Zeigarnik effect’.

It is when a piece of information starts but does not finish, our brains then keeps hold of the information, pushing it into our mind time and time again until the information is complete.

It seems to be human nature to finish what we start and if it’s not finished, we can’t forget it.

Bluma Zeigarnik a Russian scientist learned the phenomenon when her tutor Kurt Lewis noticed something very interesting about waiters and waitresses.

After observing them when waiting tables, they realised the waiters had much better recollection of unpaid orders than paid ones.

To the point that, when the table left the restaurant and closed the cheque the staff member would forget their order all together.

The information loop stayed open in the persons mind until the table was complete, because the narrative of that table was not complete.

Get more emails with Zeigarnik’s Findings

We can leverage this technique in our blogs to help us collect emails.

Start a narrative or information loop in the blog post and ask for an email opt-in from the visitor to complete the loop. The ending to the narrative.

The way you do this is simple:

1. Write about niche topics

For example ‘The 6 Most Effective Endurance Exercises’.

In the post start an information loop, the beginning of your narrative, the set up for your cliffhanger.

In this example they talk about 3 of the 6 best ways their readers can improve their abs.

6-best-workouts

They then offer a bonus content area to email subscribers with videos showing in detail how to do all 6 exercises.

Your bonus content could be a PDF, video or even a swipe file.

2. With the Content Cliffhanger plugin give away free bonus content

Create a download for the post that shows the reader in video form all 6 exercises in detail.

This means the reader can close the information loop by downloading the free content.

I created a free wordpress plugin to enable you to easily offer free downloads.

content-cliffhanger

 

3. Record the difference in your email opt-in rate before.

I cannot promise you exact opt in rates, nothing in conversions is a hard and fast rule. There are no one size fits all fixes. But I can say from my experience I have yet to see this make an improvement to a blogs conversion rate.

The difference with this plugin and most others is that you can customize the form and its contents for every post or page. So you can have free downloads that are always aligned with your pages content.

That is the secret behind the technique, when the users search intent is aligned with the opt-in offer, you see much higher conversion rates. Because the giveaway is aligned with what they originally searched for on google.

Start an idea in your blog post but finish it in the download, like a cliffhanger in a good tv series.

People then want to close the information gap or loop, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

This works much better than generic opt-ins like, ‘Join our newsletter’.

You can have increase your blogs conversion rate too…

…but first you must take action on what you learned in this post.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. What techniques are you using to get more conversions? What do you offer your customers when asking them to opt-in?

Talk to you soon below!

giles-thomasDownload the free 65 page Guide to List Building, download the guide here. Giles Thomas writes about Content Marketing and Conversion Rate Optimization at Acquireconvert.com. He is also the founder of  the holistic design agency Whole Design Studios.

 

5 Steps to an Email Newsletter Your Customers Will Love (and share!)

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Amanda Cook – Enjoy! 

Email Newsletter

photo credit: flickr

“It’s time to write your email newsletter.”

Quick – what’s your first reaction to that statement?

If you’re like many small business owners, you’re filled with a sense of dread, an urge to procrastinate, and the thought “no one reads it anyway – shouldn’t I work on more important things?”

Many people create an email newsletter because they’ve been told that it’s good for business – but they don’t really believe it – and it shows in their emails!  If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, your customer can tell – and your email subscribers will be less engaged and responsive.

A successful email newsletter requires a shift in thinking.  Instead of just telling your customer about your latest sale and some random article you wrote because you should include an article in your newsletter – reframe your email newsletter as a way to engage with your community.

People are busy.  They’re not going to see all of your social media updates, and certainly won’t remember to check your website regularly.  But they did opt-in to your email newsletter because they WANT to hear from you.  They believe that your business can help them solve a problem or get better results.  They just want to hear from you in the right way.

Steps to Creating a Successful Email Newsletter

  1. Go Pro with your email newsletter.  To quote Steven Pressfield, the first step is to decide to “go pro”.  That means using an email service like Aweber or Mailchimp (never sending from your personal account!), only sending to people who opt-in for your email newsletter, and setting expectations up front about how often you’ll email (Daily? Monthly? People want to know what to expect.)
  2. It’s not about you.  This is the #1 most important step for a successful email newsletter. Stop thinking about what you want to sell – and instead, step into the shoes of your customer.  What is she doing this week?  What problems is she facing? How can you help?  Your newsletter needs to be relevant and helpful to your customer.  Yes, it can include offers, but it needs to be linked back to how it’s going to benefit her.  When you get this right and create a truly useful, relevant email, you’ll see your customers engage with you and even forward it to their friends!
  3. Make it scannable.  How much time do you spend reading an email?  Probably only a few seconds before deciding whether to read deeper or hit delete.  Combined with the fact that many people check email on a mobile device, and you need to make your emails easy to scan with bold headlines, sections and bulletpoints.  You might test emails that simply contain a teaser with a link back to your latest blog post, rather than including a long article within the email itself.
  4. Make it actionable.  Make it easy for your customers to take action on your email newsletter.  What do you want them to do?  Buy something? Read your blog post?  Forward it to a friend? Share it on social media?  Decide on the 1 call to action for your email, and make it easy for them.  Include action phrases like “Click here to read…”  Don’t be afraid to mention (and link) to your call to action several times within the email.  Many people won’t make it through your entire email, so don’t save it until the last line!
  5. Write a good subject line.  You know headlines are a key part of a successful blog post – well subject lines are the email equivalent – but they’re even more important!  If you have a boring subject line (“June Newsletter”, anyone?), your customer will delete the email before they even open it!  It doesn’t matter how fantastic your content is – they’ll never see it if they don’t like the subject line.  You can learn what makes a good subject line by studying headline copywriting – but in the end, you need to test and experiment to see what works for your email list.  You can also use the split-testing functionality in your email service provider to test several subject lines for the same email content to see which gets the most opens and click-throughs.

Rather than seeing your email newsletter as another marketing item to check off your list – reframe it as a way to connect with your potential customers.  If you approach your email newsletter as a way to show customers how you understand their specific challenges – and can offer helpful tips, resources and products to overcome them – you’ll see your engagement and responsiveness increase.  And you’ll find writing your regular newsletter gets easier when you see it as a key way to engage your customers, rather than simply promote your products.

Amanda Cook_sqAmanda Cook is an online strategist, certified holistic health coach, and host of the weekly WellpreneurOnline podcast.  Each week, Amanda interviews successful entrepreneurs about how they’ve grown a healthy business – online.  She also runs a free 5-day blogging challenge to fill your blog with content your ideal client will love (and share!)  Connect with Amanda on twitter.