Give Influencer Content Programs a Promotional Edge with Digital Advertising

It happens almost every single time. I’m finally settling in to stream a few episodes before I go to bed for the day. I fire up the old Netflix machine and there it is options lots of them.

There are shows I’ve seen before that I might want to watch again. Genres that I’m interested in. Highly rated shows. Maybe I watch one of those trending shows that everyone is talking about? I mean I’ve never seen that Making a Murderer show did I miss out on that one? My mind continues to jump around with the unlimited options in front of me.

When you have virtually unlimited options in front of you it’s almost impossible to make a choice. This is probably why I’ve watched the American version of the Office about one million times (either that or it’s a really good show).

As marketers we consistently run into situations like this. We are asked to promote a product or a service or a piece of content and when we sit down at our desk we are hit with so many options. We have to choose the right channel, the right audience, the right messaging, the right offer, the right image, the right Anyone else getting cold sweats just thinking about this?

I want to help you with this problem. Specifically as it relates to influencer content (because that presents a whole new set of challenges that need to be addressed).

Promoting Influencer Content With Digital Advertising

Why focus on influencer marketing? In my opinion influencer marketing is one of the most challenging thing to promote with paid digital advertising. Many people look at influencer marketing and content marketing in general as some magical piece of content that, when published, turns prospects into customers in a completely organic way.

In reality, simply creating great influencer content is not enough. Right now, as I write this, there are over one billion websites (in fact the number grew by about 500 in the time it took me to finish that sentence).

So what does that mean? In very broad and simple terms you aren’t the only one that has to make a lot of choices. So when it comes to influencer content you have to help your audience find it and help them choose it.

5 Steps to Promoting Influence Content with Digital Advertising

The 5 steps below will help you successfully promote your influencer content with digital advertising in a way that attracts and entices your target audience.

Step 1. Change How You Think About Influencer Content

Often marketers don’t change their approach to promotion when deploying an influencer driven content campaign. Instead of thinking of your influencer content as a part of your standard marketing mix think of it as a product.

This is really important. You are not promoting content, you’re not boosting a post, you are selling influencer content. That is your job.

Step 2. Know Your Audience

It seems simple, but is often overlooked. But did you know that now you can really know your audience. For example, if you are using Twitter you can gather awesome insights with Twitter Analytics.

I mean take a look at this.

The top lifestyle type in my organic audience is Online Buyers. I can make assumptions from this. For example, one thing that is often debated is how much info do I ask a prospect to give in exchange for a gated asset? Well an online buyer is comfortable giving over name, phone number, address, credit card info, and more in exchange for goods.

This information can help you determine what to charge or how much information you should ask for in exchange for content.

You can gather similar information using tools such as Google Analytics Demographics and Interests and the Facebook Audience Insights tool.

Step 3. Segment Your Audience

Knowing your audience is important. Segmenting your audience is even more essential.

Don’t make the mistake of lumping everyone together into one audience when promoting your influencer driven content. While this tactic may be necessary if you are working with a really small audience, a larger audience that you can segment will allow you to tailor your message to a smaller, specific group of people.

For example, let’s say that you have created influencer content to target HR professionals. It’s possible that you could segment that audience by tenure in the HR industry.

With an audience like this you could tailor your call to action like so.

  • Tenure of 0-5 years Jumpstart your HR career with.
  • Tenure of 5-15 years Bring your HR career to the next level with
  • Tenure of 15+ years Learn from the top HR professionals

Segmenting your audience can help you tailor your sales pitch. Remember, you are selling your content not promoting it.

Step 4. Challenge Your Assumptions

What’s the one thing I have heard more than anything else when it comes to promoting B2B influencer content with digital media? Give up? It’s this, we are a B2B company so we only want to promote this on LinkedIn.

Well first of all, we are selling the content not promoting it. Second of all, you don’t think those same professionals have a Facebook account?

Facebook is on pace to hit 2 billion users. I’m willing to guess that some of those 2 billion users are in the market for B2B goods and services.

Challenging your assumptions has it’s rewards. Currently I am running a campaign for a B2B company and the results look like this

Challenging assumptions and running a campaign on Twitter was a great bet!

Step 5. Don’t Fall in Love With Your Bets

It’s bound to happen. You’ll do all of the tips above. You’ll create a segmented audience on a social network that sits outside of your assumptions. You’ll create tailored calls to action and you’ll fall in love.

Then it happens nothing happens it fails.

When it fails, one of two things normally happen.

  1. Marketers ignore the failure in disbelief
  2. Marketers say, just give it more time. One more conversion will make this look better.

Neither of these are going to change anything. In this situation only one thing will work.

Make some changes.

Change your ad copy. Broaden your audience. Change your bids. Try to identify why it isn’t working and fix it.

The Keys to Promoting Influencer Content With Paid Digital Advertising

So there you have it, 5 keys to promoting content with digital advertising. Below is a quick recap that you can use of a checklist of sorts to begin guiding your influencer content and digital advertising journey:

  1. Remember you’re selling your content not promoting it.
  2. Know your audience. Use tools to understand their online behavior.
  3. Segment your audience. Tailor your message in a way that speaks to the individuals in your audience.
  4. Challenge your assumptions. Try something new. Run tests.
  5. Don’t fall in love. Make changes quickly and don’t wait for a campaign to turn into what you want it to be.

I know you have over a billion options to choose from when it comes to internet content. Thanks for choosing this piece. I’d love to hear about any time you challenged an assumption and won or when you fell in love with a campaign. Feel free to share your insights in the comments below.


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Facebook said to be working on dedicated video chat device

Facebook is reportedly working on dedicated video chat hardware, per a new report by Bloomberg. The device is said to be the inaugural major product from Facebook’s hardware-focused Building 8 product development lab, and will include a notebook-sized display. It’s intended to make video chat participants separated geographically feel like they’re together in the same space, Read More

7 Examples of eCommerce Brands Rocking Social Media Marketing

Today’s consumers are becoming increasingly self-directed in their buying habits, leveraging the internet to research products as well as make easy purchases without setting foot in a brick and mortar store. In fact, 96% of Americans have made an online purchase in their life, with 80% having made a purchase in the past month alone, according to Bigcommerce.

As a result, eCommerce has exploded, and countless online-only retailers and marketplaces such as Amazon, Wayfair and eBay have emerged to meet consumer demand-as well as give well-established brands a run for their money.

Of course, as digital entities, most eCommerce brands embrace several digital marketing tactics-especially social media marketing-to build their brand, engage with current and prospective customers, provide personalized customer service, and get the sales. And we can all learn a little something from what online-only brands are doing.

From creating a great user experience to personalization, below I highlight several eCommerce brands-both large and niche-that are rocking social media in a variety of awesome ways.

#1 Etsy

Etsy considers itself more than a marketplace-but rather as a brand on a mission to reimagine commerce to build a more fulfilling and lasting world.

When it comes to social media marketing, Etsy has embraced Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter as its go-to platforms for sharing and engaging. Of course, each post includes an image or video, and the text and call to action are tailored to the audience.

But it was the Etsy Success Facebook page-which is dedicated to supporting shop owners-that really caught my eye. On its main Facebook page and other accounts, Etsy is marketing to the end shoppers. With its success page, Etsy is giving special attention to the makers, providing tips to better market their businesses, Q&As with shop owners, and more.

Etsy on Social Media

#2 Gilt

For those who love high-end fashion, but hate the high-end price tags-Gilt is right up your alley. It’s a members-only shopping destination that gives fashion-lovers first-come-first-serve shopping at up to 70% off retail.

As for its social media marketing strategy, Gilt can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. While I’d say Gilt’s Twitter and Facebook pages are pretty run-of-the-mill, its Instagram is so well done.

Gilt on Instagram

Not only is there beautiful imagery and fun fashion tips, anything available for purchase is tagged with #LinkInBio-and that link takes you to a Like2Buy page that allows you to shop by Instagram photo. Not only is this incredibly convenient for their audience-but super smart marketing as I’d wager the investment in this platform is more cost-effective than click-to-shop ads. I’ve seen other marketplaces such as Wayfair use this tactic, too.

Gilt on Social Media

#3 Love Your Melon

If you’re regular reader of my example-heavy social media blogs, you’re likely familiar with Love Your Melon. Love Your Melon was founded to improve the lives of children battling cancer by providing them with a special hat. With each hat purchased by the public, 50% of the net proceeds are donated to the organization’s nonprofit partners in the fight against childhood cancer.

Love Your Melon’s social media mix includes Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Across their channels, they’re using several best practices, but it really comes down to telling their story through captivating imagery-helping people see and feel the good being done. (Seriously. Tell me this photo doesn’t give you all the feels.)

Love Your Melon on Social Media

#4 Airbnb

If you look at the social media accounts for most travel and accommodations sites, you’ll often find an image of a beautiful scene-along with a caption encouraging you to book now. But that’s not how Airbnb plays it. Their social media marketing strategy is all about showcasing the travel experience, often sharing photos and stories from real people who’ve used their service to travel the world. And each channel has a unique angle.

Twitter leans toward business travelers, aiming to show them what their temporary office could look like in a range of cities and engaging them to share.

Airbnb on Social Media

Instagram is more about engagement and storytelling, often asking followers to share their own memories or travel stories.

Airbnb on Instagram

Finally, Facebook encompasses a little bit of everything, as well as some brand-building content.

Airbnb on Facebook

#5 Newegg

For gamers, tech-enthusiasts or the average online shopper, Newegg aims to be your go-to tech marketplace, featuring more than 10.5 million products.

Newegg’s social media marketing strategy encompasses all the major platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Generally speaking, much of the content you’ll see across the channels as of late is focused at gamers. But the one channel that stands out the most is YouTube.

Newegg has been creating and sharing YouTube video content since 2006, and the company boasts nearly 450,000 subscribers and its content has garnered more than 111.5 million views. The content shared there is a mix of exclusive unboxings, overviews, interviews and live event coverage, aiming to keep their followers in the loop on all things tech.

Newegg on YouTube

#6 HauteLook

Owned by Nordstrom, HauteLook is a free members-only event shopping site. Essentially, each day the website curates limited-time, exclusive shopping events that feature prices at up to 75% off retail.

The brand’s social media strategy is pretty straight forward-show their followers the hottest looks in fashion right now. As a result, the majority of their posts across their channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest & YouTube) aim to show their followers the whole look, from sunglasses to shoes.

In addition, one specific thing that stands out is their Pinterest channel, with nearly every board featuring a custom image that adds class and organization to their boards.

#7 Redbubble

Redbubble is one of my favorite new-finds on social media. Redbubble is an Australia-based marketplace that features the creative and uncommon work of more than 400,000 independent artists from around the globe.

Like many others featured here, Redbubble’s social media mix includes all the big channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, as well as Tumblr. And as a brand that’s all about originality, one of the hallmarks of their social media strategy is showing lots of personality in their posts-often with lots of cute humor. Below are a few of my favorite cheeky posts:

The Explainer

The Secret Agenda of Cats

Sir Corgi

What eCommerce brandsdo you look to for social media inspiration? Tell us in the comments section below.


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CMWorld Interview: Ian Cleary Talks Technology & Engaged Online Audiences

Successful marketers aren’t born overnight. It takes grit, determination and hard work to navigate your way from noob to expert.

Additionally, the experiences that you have and the lessons you learn outside of the marketing field can impact how you look at and approach your marketing. A shining example of someone that has built a successful marketing career after working in a vastly different field is none other than RazorSocial Founder, Ian Cleary.

Like many speakers at Content Marketing World, Ian is a delightful mix of marketer and technology expert. I was able to catch up with Ian recently and gain some insights into his past in the software industry, his favorite marketing tools and his taken on building an engaged community.

How do you think your experience in the software industry has guided your career as a marketer?

Yes it certainly has. I had 15 years working in technical roles in the software industry prior to becoming a marketer and having all that technical knowledge and capability helped a lot because of how technical marketing has become. It took me a while to get comfortable being called a marketer!!!

What inspired you to start your current company, RazorSocial?

I had a failed software startup and I wanted to build an international company but I didn’t have an idea for another piece of software! So I decided to build a blog and then build a business around this. Now I get a chance to do content marketing consultancy and training with a lot of global brands and get to speak at conferences around the world. Who ever thought content could be this powerful!!!

As someone that creates and shares a lot of content about which tools to use (and how to use them) what are a few of your favorite content tools and why?

Here are a few of my favorite tools:

SEMRush This is a great SEO tool. I use it quite often for competitor and keyword research and for identifying issues on my site.

Buzzsumo When I want ideas for creating or promoting content I use this.

Agorapulse when you create great content you want to distribute it to social channels. This is my tool of choice for social media management.

Optinmonster When I get visitors to my content I want to build email subscribers and there’s no better tool than Optinmonster.

What is one secret to building an engaged online community?

You need to deliver what your audience has a hunger for and to get engagement you need to engage. An engaged community is when your audience feels they have a relationship with you and a relationship is built through conversation.

What are the 3 most important things marketers need to do to create a memorable content experience?

  1. Get your audience to take action on what you share
  2. Get your audience to subscribe so you can build on that experience
  3. Provide content relevant to the audience.

What do you see as the biggest content marketing opportunity that many marketers aren’t taking full advantage of?

Doing more outreach. We create all this content and share a lot on social media but we don’t do enough to reach out to build relationships, promote content and generate leads.

In your presentation at Content Marketing World you’ll be sharing insights into how marketers can better utilize content marketing tools to optimize their results. Without giving it all away, what willattendees learn from your session?

The 3 things they will learn and tactics, tools and tips. I always like delivering a practical session where you’ll leave the room with action items to implement.

Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2017?

I am looking forward to so many. Here are a few.

Jay Acunzo, Jay Baer,Andy Crestodina, Andrew Davis, Chris Goward, Ann Handley, Mark Schaefer, Donna Moritz, Pierre-Loic Assayag, Jon Burkhart and Michael Brenner and Deana Goldasich. There are so many great speakers at the event.

Want More?

Thank you for sharing your marketing insights Ian!

If you’d like to learn more from Ian and 11 of his fellow Content Marketing World speakers, check out the second eBook in our series, The In-Flight Guide: Creating a Memorable Content Experience.

For more from our CMWorld flight crew, see our recent interviews with Ann Handley, Adele RevellaandAmanda Todorovich.


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1x vs. 10x: The Little-Known Reason Why Your Campaigns are Failing

A/B testing works some of the time.

Barely. A tiny bit. If you’re lucky.

And when it does, a 1% increase to show to bosses and clients is what you’ll get.

That’s a problem. Because how much time did that 1% cost you? How much effort did you exert chasing it?

All that time and effort, largely wasted, when you should have been ignoring the 1% increases and focusing on the 10% ones like these instead. Or leveraging your time 1x instead of 10x.

If you’ve got a big staff and a big budget, 1% might cut it. But not for everyone else. Not for you or me.

We need more. Way more. And doing ‘more of the same’ will only get you more of the same.

Here’s why. And how to fix it.

Why a ‘Middle Class Mindset’ is Sabotaging Your Marketing

room with pool table

Most experts agree that there’s one critical difference between rich people and poor people.

It’s not inheritance. (Thanks for nothing, mom and dad.)

It’s not the stock market. (Because that’s glorified gambling.)

And it’s not real estate. (Because it can be a cost suck instead of an investment.)

It’s your mindset.

Corny, right? Like some new-age, hippy, The Secret thing.

But there’s some truth to it. Here’s why.

The first thing you have to do is decide to become a millionaire, multimillionaire, or billionaire if you want. Then you must reinforce that decision, over and over, according to a CNBC paraphrasing of sales expert Grant Cardone.

Grant is the author of The 10X Rule, which basically says most of our problems stem from the fact that we’re thinking (and therefore acting) too small. And too infrequently.

It’s not so much the pie-in-the-sky ideals. But the mental exercise that forces your daily activities to change course in order to meet a new ‘standard’.

Keith Cameron Smith, a personal finance author, spent two years working closely with ultra-rich people and noticed a similar distinction. According to the same CNBC article:

The biggest difference Smith observes between millionaires and the middle class is how they frame their circumstances and present information to themselves. While millionaires ask themselves empowering questions, the middle class tend to lean toward disempowering ones.

He goes on to clarify, Empowering questions cause you to reach for your full potential. The questions you ask yourself determine the results you get in life.

And then brings it home with, Millionaires are more creative than reactive.

Author Steven Siebold equates this to a difference in worldview. A different understanding of the work ‘risk’. One group is playing offense while the other plays defense.

Step out of your comfort zone. Look at all your options. You will have to be at least a little uncomfortable if you want to become rich. You might even have to fail and that’s great, because if you’re not failing, you’re not doing much.

That warm and fuzzy ‘mindset’ difference is typically referred to as a middle class mindset. One that’s full of limitations and self doubts and ‘invisible scripts’ as Ramit Sethi calls them.

One classic? The stop buying $4 lattes and avocado toasts to get rich example. The problem with this one, though, is basic match.

Here’s Ramit running the numbers:

No amount of saving avocados is getting you a house. The median price of houses listed in America is $245,000. (Laughable, since the median price of an apartment in NYC is over $2 million, but just go with it.) If you want a 20% down payment on that $245,000 house, you’ll need to cut back on 2,578 avocado toasts. At one $19 toast per week, that would take you 49 years to save a 20% down payment.

avocado on bread

I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell don’t have 49 years. Hell – we work in technology. Most of us will have a heart attack by then.

The ‘middle class mindset’ is like the story of Icarus. Fly too close to the sun and you’ll get burned. Instead, keep plugging away at what you’re comfortable with. What comes easy. That way, you won’t miss Happy Hour on Friday.

You might be pessimistic right now. You might claim that these cited gurus are all trying to ‘sell you the dream’ so that they can literally sell you the dream.

You’d have a point. And you’d also be missing the point.

Because this same illusive ‘mindset’ phenomena applies to marketing as well. Even Seth Godin weighs in:

The 10x marketer understands that the job isn’t to do marketing the way the person before you did it, or the way your boss asked you to do it. Strategic marketing comes from questioning the tactics, understanding who you are seeking to change and being willing to re-imagine the story your organization tells. Don’t play the game, change the game.

The point here is that plugging away at tiny tactics – the ones that make a 1% difference instead of 10% difference – keeps you from doing the work the matters. The work that moves the needle.

And it’ll keep you firmly positioned in the (marketing) poorhouse.

I’ve personally seen this in my own work. Most of my failures (and there are LOTS to choose from) are the direct result of wasting too many hours chasing 1% improvements. When I should have been focusing on 10x ones.

That’s like tweeting once or twice a day. Not enough to ever break through the noise.

tweets by day hour minute secondImage Source

Or dashing off 500-1000 word blog posts. Which simply doesn’t cut it anymore.

Here’s why.

Skyscrapers: The Difference Between 1x vs. 10X Marketing

The Skyscraper Technique debuted only a few years ago.

And yet most (good) marketers know it by name. They’ve read the case studies. Experimented with it at least once or twice. Have read the initial article on the topic.

(Yes. It’s a Skyscraper about Skyscrapers. Because every good marketer ❤ being meta. Exhibit A – this post you're reading.)

This original article retells Brian’s experience with publishing Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List. And how after executing this new technique, results took off.

First, backlinks:

referring domains from backlinko blog postImage Source

Then organic search visits:

organic search traffic comparisonImage Source

Then referrals:

google ranking factors backlinkoImage Source

Look at those numbers. Up-and-to-the-right graphs that would make everyone unanimously agree.

And yet, that success shouldn’t be surprising. Not when you consider a few facts. Here’s Brian again with two key points about how search engines work.

(Yes, I’m laying all of the blame with Brian.)

  1. The number of domains linking to a page (backlinks) correlated with rankings more than any other factor.
  2. Topically relevant content outperforms content that doesn’t cover the topic in-depth.
  3. And longer content performs better in Google (average first page results average 1,890 words.

So. You want results? You want 10x the benefits in new backlinks, traffic, and sales?

It’s gonna require 10x the work.

Just the simple act of blogging today demands it. A single blog post might take all day to write.

Or longer.

Want to write about increasing traffic? You better first do the amazing client work, then create processes to repeat it, then create custom graphics and videos to better explain that process to new people.

Want to write about hosting companies? You better sign up for each one, put up test websites, and monitor their performance for months before writing that review.

In other words, what’s the point of publishing a few random, ad-hoc 500 word posts when only excellence is rewarded?

Answer: there isn’t any.

Which is why you need to avoid 1x marketing ideas at all costs.

3 Ways to Avoid 1X, ‘Middle Class Marketing Mindset’ Once and For All

1. Aim for 10x Quality

Last year, Unbounce published an epic Presidential Teardown of the two candidates campaigns (from a conversion standpoint), written by my writing man crush Aaron Orendorff (I mean that in a purely platonic way of course).

The goal was to treat it – this single blog post – like a stand-alone campaign.

Typically Unbounce will see anywhere between 500-800 new visits on a blog post. But this one? 4,513.

It’s been shared over 6,000 times. And been picked up by both Inc. and the Huffington Post (HuffPo, or whatever stupid name they’re going by these days).

Not bad, right?

The post was also over 6,000 words long. It tooks hours and hours and hours of research. They looped in influencers from the very beginning. Created a custom PDF for it. And even designed custom blog assets to fit the theme of the page.

unbounce don't have time to read postImage Source

Not to mention a well-thought out, strategic distribution plan once the post went live.

In other words, this massive runaway success was no accident. It was created to be the single best resource on this topic. It was 10x from the get-go.

The problem, of course, is that producing something like this is insanely resource-intensive. Super time consuming. Not to mention, expensive when you consider the number of people all working together to make it a reality.

In other words, before you’re able to feasibly move forward on something this ambitious, you gotta free yourself up by cutting back in other areas.

2. 80/20 Your Own Activities

Recently I had the privilege to interview Ty Magnin of Appcues with Brian Sun of Autopilot.

A recurring theme that kept popping up throughout his work and life was fewer things done better.

So he’d work on campaigns for weeks or months. Only to kill them off because the work wasn’t up to his admittedly high quality standards.

Their email newsletter was a perfect example. Initially, it was a long-ish email that contained a bunch of curated links and even a joke.

appcues email newsletterImage Source

But Ty wasn’t impressed with his own curation of the posts. He thought it was a little weak. It wasn’t excellent or best-in-class.

So he killed it off, instead switching their emails up to a simple text-only email when new blog posts went live.

appcues lean user onboarding email version 2Image Source

It’s not like the original email sucked or anything. But from Ty’s vantage point, it was merely average. And average isn’t good enough.

This change in format gave him back a few hours a week to devote to making something else excellent.

This is a point driven home by Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Sales and Marketing.

Ya’ll know the drill. You know how this works.

He asserts that there’s an extreme inequality is most things. Like your expenses, product defects, profitable customers, and of course, your marketing and sales activities.

The goal is to figure out which 20% of your day delivers the 80% of backlinks, traffic, signups, and purchases. Then continually exploit it.

By creating processes.

3. Think Processes. Not One-Offs

Doing 10x, one-time, is good. You’ll see the benefit. But then the results will tail off. Revenue or traffic will regress to the mean.

The only way to steer the ship forward is by putting plans into place to carry out that same level of output again and again and again.

But in order to do that, we just learned you gotta give something up. Like ditching hacks in order to chase scale.

We’ve also just seen that the ‘content quality bar’ is rising. Therefore, the time it takes to replicate is also rising.

the average time it takes to write a blog postImage Source

Which means you need to figure out a way to constantly refine your ‘content creation process’ in order to (1) continually increase the quality while somehow also (2) decreasing the time it takes to produce it.

Impossible? Perhaps. If you’re still stuck on 1% improvements.

But let’s imagine:

If you had to do 2,000+ word posts daily (or longer), what would that require? What would need to change or happen in order to make that a reality?

You’d start by finding awesome resources and creating cheat sheets for yourself to save time on coming up with little, mundane things like a headline.

headline hack

You’d have to figure out workflows in advance, for how a piece of content transitioned from idea, to:

  1. Research
  2. Prep
  3. Writing
  4. Editing
  5. Production
  6. Publish
  7. Promotion

writing process chart

At each step along the way, you’d have to drill down with checklists so that each ‘task’ took the least amount of time possible. No matter how minute.

That way, you could enlist more people to help and free yourself up to focus on where you excel within the process.

research internal links to cite in blog post

Then your content production could look like a well-oiled machine, moving seamlessly from one step to the next. Pre-loaded with instructions, due dates, and responsibility assignments along the way.

content production process

In other words, you’d have to start by changing your mindset. Start by changing the way you think about how success flows.

Which would then force you to change the amount of work and effort and attention and output needed in order to make it happen.

Conclusion

Too often, we’re sold a party line.

We spend our whole lives learning to follow instructions. When instructions are only good enough to give you average. What worked before. Historically. In the past.

The stuff that gets you a 1% improvement over what you’ve been doing.

But if you’ve ever started anything new – no matter if it’s a project or a post or a position or a company – you’ll quickly realize that 1% is never good enough. You need 100x to make a dent.

The trick is to start out searching for the BIG improvements. Not because you’re self-deluded. But because it will require a BIG change in the stuff you’ll need to do in order to hit that lofty goal.

You’ll have to dissect and rearrange and reorient what’s possible in order to bring it into fruition.

Then, even if you fall short, you’ll still be miles ahead of 1% in the long run.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

7 Simple But Powerful Ways to Lower SaaS Customer Churn

If you’re like most SaaS managers, you’re committed to running and growing your business.

But to do that, you need to ensure you’re meeting the needs of your customers, and that includes reducing churn.

With companies spending anywhere from 5-25 times more to acquire a customer than keep an existing one, reducing churn is a high priority for any SaaS manager interested in building lifelong evangelists for their brand.

So, with that in mind, here are seven battle-tested ways to help you do that.

1. Make Customers Sticky

It’s no secret that churn is directly related to engagement with your product or service (or lack thereof).

Simply put, the more customers interact with your product, the less likely they are to leave.

As John Warrillow, author of The Automatic Customer: Creating a Subscription Business in Any Industry, writes, Your biggest competitor for your subscription business is not the rival service; it is your customer’s inertia in not using your service.

The goal, then, is to invite subscribers to interact with your product or service as frequently as possible.

Or, put another way, make them sticky.

A sticky customer, according to Harvard Business Review, is a customer who is likely to follow through on an intended purchase, buy your product repeatedly, and recommend it to others.

Dollar Shave Club insert themselves into the daily lives of their subscribers by identifying and meeting a burning need in their target market:

Quality razors at an affordable price.

dollar shave club value proposition

While inviting customers to interact with your product or service daily isn’t always an option (especially if what you’re offering only requires weekly or monthly check-ins), that doesn’t mean you can’t engage users in other ways.

Freshbooks, for instance, invite readers to click through in their emails and read their latest articles:

freshbooks newsletter articles

Others SaaS companies, like Zapier, reiterate the benefits of their product when invoicing their customers:

zapier invoice email

Like many SaaS companies, Zapier knows invoicing can trigger cancellations (especially if users are inactive), so they maximize every opportunity to reinforce the value they’re customers are getting from their product.

If your customers are quittin’-stay top of mind to get ’em stickin’.

2. Watch the 90-day Onboarding Clock

In an analysis across several industries, Localytics found the average mobile app retention rate was 20% after 90 days.

localytics app retention and churnImage Source

In other words, 80% of all app users are likely to churn within their first three months of signing up.

One reason for this is poor onboarding. If new subscribers aren’t taken by the hand and shown exactly what they need to do and when and how to do it, they’re unlikely to use your product or service.

Sprout Social knows this better than anyone.

Before beginning a free trial, Sprout Social users need to login and connect their social media accounts. If they don’t, they receive this email:

sprout social onboarding email

Like many SaaS companies, Sprout Social understands the importance of reducing friction at critical stages of an onboarding flow (such as asking a subscriber to take action). Your copy needs to manage expectations, overcome objections and explain, how to use your product or service, step-by-step, while highlighting your brand’s unique advantage.

Magoosh, for instance, was able to increase signups by 17% simply by adding a welcome email to their onboarding flow:

magoosh onboarding email

To get users to integrate your product or service into their daily lives (and therefore make them sticky), offer quick and easy wins when onboarding (like activating their account or completing a form) and praise them often when they follow through.

3. Charge Up Front

Take a look at this pricing page from One Pager.

Which feels like better value for the money?

Example A:

one pager pricing page monthly 2017

Or, Example B?

one pager annual pricing 2017

If you’re like most readers, you chose Example A.

Why?

Because you’re paying less.

Simple, right?

You’re saving up to 25%. And let’s be honest: who doesn’t love a bargain?

But there’s something else going on here

When you charge up front for subscriptions, it reduces churn.

Think about it:

When you’re locked in at an annual fee, you’re far more likely to familiarize yourself with the product or service, incorporate it into your daily life, and, if you’re getting value, renew your subscription.

And although it’s tempting to believe you’ll put off familiarizing yourself, the truth is you’re more likely to make a commitment right away.

This is because paying for an annual subscription often requires more up-front.

Take a look at this pricing comparison from Leadpages:

With a Pro Annual Account, you’re saving 39% annually and paying less per month, but you’re also investing more to get started (fair’s fair, right?).

When you’re paying as much $576 up front, you’ll likely want to make a return on that investment as quickly as possible-and that means getting started immediately.

Offering annual subscriptions with discounted prices safeguards your cash flow in the event of monthly churn, and, in most cases, reduce your customer acquisition cost (CAC) while increasing your customer lifetime value (CLV).

Win. Win.

4. Add a Negative Option

BJ Fogg had a problem:

He was eating too much popcorn.

So, in an effort to curb his unhealthy habit, Fogg took the bag of popcorn out of his kitchen, climbed the ladder in his garage, and put the popcorn on the highest shelf.

The rationale?

If he really wanted popcorn, he could always go to the garage, get the ladder, and climb up to get it.

By increasing the number of steps needed to do the undesired behavior (unhealthy eating), Fogg was essentially designing for laziness.

Similarly, having a negative option for your SaaS company is a way of designing for user laziness.

With negative option billing, customers must either pay for the product or service or specifically opt out in advance of billing.

Mindfulness app Calm use a negative option for their annual billing.

A year ago, I bought an annual subscription, meditated consistently for 3-months and then, well, life got in the way and I forgot about it.

That is until I received this recent email

calm payment renewal google play

Had I been reminded before, I probably would have cancelled my subscription. Having been billed, however, I’m now more likely to invest to get my money’s worth and who knows, maybe I’ll become sticky before my next billing.

Like a secure relationship, you don’t need to constant reassurance everything’s going well.

You’ll be first to know if it isn’t.

5. Identify and Reduce Activity Churn

Most SaaS companies focus on regular churn (i.e. the number of users that cancel their account each month).

While reducing regular churn is important, what’s arguably more important is identifying activity churn: the number of users that became inactive each month.

As Des Traynor writes,

Typically customers gradually stop using products, from using it every morning to every week to once a month At some point down the road you’ll remember you’re paying for something you don’t need and don’t use, and then you ‘churn’, even though the decision was made months ago.

So, how do you reduce activity churn (and therefore regular churn)?

Send reengagement emails to inactive subscribers. You can do this with Kissmetrics Campaigns.

Check out this email I received from Fotolia after I didn’t log in for a few months (sorry Fotolia):

A word of warning, though:

Be aware of when you mail inactive users. Returning from a week’s vacation to find a We miss you! email isn’t just annoying; it’s likely to make canceling your subscription top of mind.

Rather than focus on whether users are active or not (active/inactive), focus on how frequently they engage with your product (always/often/sometimes/rarely/never).

When Groove examined their churn rate, they found users who averaged 35 seconds in their initial session and logged in 0.3 times per day were more likely to cancel their subscription:

abandonment metrics

Groove’s offer to help these users through the setup process resulted in a 26% response rate. And of the users who went on to complete the process, over 40% stuck around after 30 days.

Sometimes, it’s not that users aren’t using your product or service; it’s that they’re not using it enough.

And if they’re not, you need to reach out and find out why.

6. Ask For Feedback

I get it:

People come and go.

That’s how it is. It’s not you. It’s them (well, maybe it is you a little).

Humor aside, churn can benefit you greatly (if you use it correctly, that is.)

Returning to our earlier example, Groove was able to reduce their churn by 71% simply by asking why their customers were leaving:

groove asking why customers are leavingImage Source

Granted, it seems overly simplistic, but asking for feedback offers you an opportunity to iterate and make your product or service the very best it can be.

When asking for feedback, it’s important to reach out to the right customers.

There’s a difference between a subscriber who didn’t convert from a free trial into a customer and a lifelong customer who unexpectedly canceled after years of loyal service.

You won’t always hear back from churning customers, that’s a given, but when you do, the insights are often worth their weight in gold.

Over time, recurring patterns will emerge and you’ll be able to categorize reasons for churn into different buckets. With enough data, you’ll be able to identify which buckets need to be addressed, first, and your churn rate will plummet.

7. Increase Your Average Customer Spend

It’s a grim reality many SaaS managers have to accept:

As a company grows, so, too, does its churn.

With negative cash flow, you need more new customer revenue to replace churned revenue. Without it, your company’s growth will begin to plateau.

One way to reduce this type of stagnation is to focus on what David Skok calls negative churn.

In his own words, [Negative churn] happens when the expansions/up-sells/cross-sells to your current customer base exceed the revenue that you are losing because of churn.

In other words, by increasing the average customer spend of your existing customer base, it’s possible to recoup lost revenue.

One of the most common ways to do this is to offer upsells with each purchase.

AppSumo offers a gentle upsell to their Monthly 1K program in the footer of their order confirmation emails to increase their average customer spend:

appsumo monthly 1k upsell email

Upselling customers is all about timing and there’s no better time to do it than after a customer’s just made a purchase.

This might be after invoicing a customer for their annual subscription (see: Charge up front), or before shipping their most recent order (a favorite of subscription box services like Dollar Shave Club).

It’s important to mention here that increasing your average customer spend doesn’t just benefit you; it provides more value to your customers.

If you’re using tied pricing, for example, and each tier unlocks more features that benefit the subscriber (read: helps them achieve their goals more quickly and easily), they’re more likely to adopt it into their daily lives and become sticky.

The Importance of Value

Churn is something every SaaS owner goes through.

And although it isn’t always avoidable, it is manageable when you instill a few of the above best practices.

As we’ve seen, reducing churn goes beyond the basics of improving your product; it’s about adding value to the lives of your customers.

If you can do that, and make a meaningful difference in your customers’ lives, churn will level off, and you can get back to doing what you do best-running and growing your company.

What are your experiences with reducing churn? Leave a comment below.

About the Author: Sam Thomas Davies is the content marketing manager at Sleeknote: a company that helps ecommerce business owners capture and convert more leads without hurting the user experience. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Donald Trump didn’t tweet this morning and it freaked people out

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Feed-twFeed-fb

So it’s come to this. 

In an era where how often President Donald Trump tweets has become as much of an obsession as the content of those tweets, we’re all apparently way more  mystified that Trump actually didn’t manage to fire off his usual round of tweets until later in the morning. 

In fact, some deep digging found that Monday was the first weekday that Trump didn’t tweet before 8:15 a.m.

FWIW: This is the first workday of Trump’s presidency where POTUS has not tweeted before 8:15a pic.twitter.com/XLkL2kLW3U

– Dan Merica (@danmericaCNN) February 13, 2017 Read more…

More about Twitter, Donald Trump, Social Media, and Politics

Online Marketing News: Browsers to Buyers, Snapchat’s IPO and Data Studio Connector

How to Convert Mobile Browsers to Buyers [Infographic]

Even though mobile is booming — creating 60% of online traffic — we’re still only seeing 16% of conversions coming from mobile. Conversions from desktop are typically 50% greater than the few mobile conversions we do see. This infographic shows how to improve mobile conversions through data. MarketingProfs

8 Things Marketers Need to Know About Snapchat’s IPO

Last week, Snapchat filed their IPO, releasing more details about their business than ever before. For example, we now know that Snapchat has 158 million daily users, but growth is slowing and the majority of users are 18-34 years old, with use tapering after 25. Ad Age

Data Studio: Search Console Connector

Google announced Wednesday: “Search Console users can now build Data Studio reports to understand how their search traffic changes over time, where traffic is coming from, and what search queries are most likely to drive traffic to their sites. Users can also filter reports for mobile traffic to improve mobile targeting, and to analyze clickthrough rates for various organic search terms.” Google

Facebook Now Makes 84% of Its Advertising Revenue From Mobile

Facebook now makes 84% of their ad revenue from Mobile, which is a huge contrast from the 0% they reported in their initial IPO back in 2012. Facebook’s YOY revenue in the fourth quarter also grew by 53% — $8.63 billion — reporting $26.9 billion in revenue in 2016. AdWeek

Google AMP Adds Source Links, Ups Search

Google is now allowing publishers to share source links in their AMP service (accelerated mobile pages). Alex Fischer, a Google software engineer recently noted: “This feature allows users to use their browser’s native share functionality by long-tapping on the link that is displayed.” MediaPost

51% Haven’t Felt the Effects of Google’s Mobile Interstitials Penalty [POLL]

According to a recent poll from Search Engine Journal, 51% of marketers surveyed hadn’t felt the effects of Google’s intrusive interstitial penalty — yet. 6% said they had, and 43% said they weren’t sure. These numbers are bound to change shortly as Google conducts a fresh crawl. Search Engine Journal

Instagram’s web footprint surpassed Twitter’s in 2016

Last week, we learned that Twitter finally made an Instagram account. This week, we’re learning that Instagram’s web footprint — the number of site’s featuring Instagram’s posts or widgets — has surpassed Twitter. Instagram’s footprint expanded by 308% in 2016, compared to Twitter’s 36%. Marketing Land

Facebook Makes Several Silent Changes To Its Ads Manager

You may not have noticed, as Facebook hasn’t officially announced the changes, but they’ve made several quiet, rather large changes to their advertising platform. For example, they’ve tweaked their campaign objectives, allowed the use of animated GIFs in video ads, and allowed for date comparison. We are Social Media

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We will return next week with more online marketing news! If you have something to share or add, Tweet us at @toprank or leave a comment.

The post Online Marketing News: Browsers to Buyers, Snapchat’s IPO and Data Studio Connector appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.