Monthly Archives: January 2017

Great Strategies to Get More Email Subscribers

The 1 big idea: Make it ridiculously easy to sign up

I’ve got this idea about email marketing, and it goes something like this:

  • Create amazing content that people want to read all the time
  • Ask permission to send amazing content to people’s emails.
  • Ask again.
  • Ask a couple more times.

Basically, if you’ve got great content and you make it easy for people to sign up for email updates, you should begin to see significant list growth.

We’re hopeful that we’re headed down a good path with creating amazing content here at the Buffer blog. It’s an ongoing process for us, and we’re always open for ways to improve. (hint, hint) As for the second part of the email equation …

We knew we could make it easier for our happy readers to sign up for email updates.

So we did.

Here’s how it went.

Double the list growth in only 30 days

We implemented several changes to our email signup forms in July (see below), so we had the opportunity to easily compare growth from the previous months to growth in July. Previously, in May and June, we had averaged a pretty steady 2,349 monthly email signups from our two blogs, Buffer Social and Buffer Open.

In July, we had 5,450 email signups!

That’s more than double the previous month! Specifically, it’s 130 percent growth, month-over-month—more than we ever expected to see in our first month of experimentation.

Our crazy amount of signup sources: 9 ways to capture new subscribers

Here’s a good comparison of what we were doing before this email push and what we were doing after.

Before: Slideup form

After: Slideup form, blog homepage email capture, HelloBar, sidebar ad, postscript CTA, Twitter lead gen cards, Facebook newsletter signup, SlideShare, Qzzr

Essentially, we added nine times the email capture opportunities.

Not every one of these new areas was a hit, yet collectively the addition of so many unmissable opportunities to sign up led to a huge uptick in growth.

Here’s a chart of a typical week with our email list and how each of the different sources contributes to overall growth.

It’s funny that at the first of the month, when the email signups started rolling in, I kind of sat back in awe that we were getting so many new subscribers! (Yay, and welcome!) Then I realized I should probably be finding a way to track where all these signups came from.

We use MailChimp to manage the email on our blog list, and to track signups here, you can cross your fingers that one of two methods work.

  • The app you use to collect email is recognized by MailChimp automatically (e.g., HelloBar and Twitter)
  • Your embedded signup form includes a hidden field that you can handcode to include a variable that makes it possible to track the source (e.g., all the rest of our sources)

Eventually, we were able to get everything wired up so that we could track the total number of signups from each source (feel free to ask in the comments if you have any questions about how we got this working). With these numbers, we could more easily see which sources brought us the most signups and where to focus our efforts.

Here’s a little more on each of our nine signup sources.

Slideup box

Our best-performing email signup form on the blog has been the slideup, which brings us a little more than 400 new signups each week. It’s the closest thing we have to an outright pop-up (which we hear can be super useful for collecting emails).

Our slideup comes up from the right-hand corner of the page whenever a new visitor scrolls 60 percent of the way down the page. If you close the slideup, we store a cookie that reminds us not to show you the slideup again for 30 days.

The results: All this is managed via the free WordPress plugin Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box. We control the HTML that goes in the box, and we use this to place some CTA copy and a MailChimp signup form that includes a hidden field so we can track our slideup signups.

HelloBar for email

We had long used the HelloBar to drive visits to the main page of the Buffer app, which I imagine might be how most SaaS blogs use it. HelloBar works wonders on conversions.

However, when our priorities for the blog shifted, we decided to change the HelloBar on the majority of pages to an email capture form. There were two big reasons why this worked so well for us:

  1. The HelloBar integrates seamlessly with our MailChimp list. The only real difficulty here was figuring out how to ensure that double-opt in was turned on for our list.
  2. HelloBar lets you test variations of your copy, buttons, and CTA. Here are a couple of different versions we tried. The winner actually became the basis for our email copy on several other locations for CTAs.

The results: We typically receive 350 or more signups each week from HelloBar, and it even held our top spot for email signups in the first couple weeks of July.

A featured box for email signups on the homepage of the blog

We were super stoked about getting this one live on the blog. Since our blog homepage is the third-most-visited page on the blog, month-after-month, it made a lot of sense to optimize this page as best we could to meet our goals. If there’d ever be a page deserving a unique design, it’d be the blog homepage!

At first, we tried a plugin called PlugMatter, which worked amazingly well but just didn’t quite fit the blog design we were after. So we had our designers set us up with a new one. Our blog redesign came a few days after, so the homepage CTA changed again. Here’s the version that you see today:

The results: This feature box on the homepage accounts for 150+ email signups each week, good for third on our list of signup sources.

Sidebar email signup

As we’ve shifted priorities on the Buffer blog over the years, the design and layout has shifted, too. One of the most recent shifts was toward a simpler, cleaner layout that took everything out of the right sidebar and replaced it with a Buffer app CTA. When this changed, we lost our sidebar email signup.

We put the sidebar back online for a brief time while we were growing our list, and it definitely helped. Although not as much as you might think.

3 Steps for Explosive Online Marketing Growth

Many business owners are under the impression that online marketingis extremely complicated because some online marketing efforts fail miserably, while others are responsible for massive returns. They assume performance is related to the marketing budget, what is being marketed and who it’s being marketed to.

Sure, that can all come into play, but it’s more about the marketing strategy.

It doesn’t matter if you are a small mom-and-pop shop with a budget of $1,000 per month or a large brand spending six figures monthly — the same three steps will contribute to a successful marketing effort. Let’s look at each one.

1. Identify the perfect customer for your product or service.

You need to determine who your ideal customer is and what problem you are solving. For example, my performance-based agency works with larger brands, spending at least $50,000 monthly on paid ads and typically relying heavily on Facebook. So, we know we have to target large brands with healthy budgets currently advertising on Facebook and interested in a performance-based relationship.

When you are very specific with who you target, it allows you to create a message and offer that speaks directly to that target. You must also make sure your pricing aligns with your ideal customer.

“You can’t attach a premium price to your product or service if your ideal customer has an average or below average income. You could have the best product or service but if it’s priced out of reach, they will never connect with your offer,” explains Joe Baldwin, CEO ofEssayLook.

2. Attract your perfect customer through smart marketing.

Let me quickly explain what I mean by smart marketing. If you are targeting people aged 35 to 45 with a life insurance offer, you don’t want to be running Snapchat ads — that’s the wrong platform. Highly targeted Facebook ads would work better.

Here are just a few questions you need to ask yourself:

  • “What social media platforms are my perfect customer likely to be active on?”
  • “What websites are they likely to visit?”
  • “Are they likely to be using a mobile device to access the internet?”
  • “Will they be receptive to email offers and communication?”

When you have the answers to these questions it tells you what social networks and websites you should be running paid ads on and what devices you need to target. If you are selling a health product to millennials, then mobile targeting is a must, whereas an ad targeting the 50+ demographic would want to primarily target desktops.

3. Get your perfect customer to engage with your brand and messages.

Engagement is the last step. It’s responsible for generating sales and creating brand supporters that, over time, turn into lifelong customers. There are several different types of engagement.

For example, say you have a very appealing Facebook ad that drives your perfect customers directly to an offer. You might get some “likes” and shares on the post, but the click-through to your offer, and then ultimately the conversion, is the engagement that translates into revenue.

Not all offers are a good fit for a direct approach. Many will require that your perfect customer is placed in a marketing funnel, where they are then presented with valuable content, designed to eventually convert them into a sale. “Asking for an email address is a very small commitment, so it’s very easy to quickly fill your funnel up with prospects as long as your offer is enticing and provides value,” advises Tyler Chilton, CEO of Mayflower Electronics.

4 Steps to Creating Effective Online Videos

1. Develop a script.

One way you can avoid stage fright on camera is by developing a script before you hit that record button. Developing a script for a business video sounds way more fancy than it is. Basically, the goal of writing your script is not to develop an elaborate essay. Rather, it’s to create a detailed outline about the bullet points you want to mention in your video.

So how do you actually go about creating a script? Well, the first step is coming up with your specific topic idea. Without worrying about form or layout, begin to write down supporting details of your topic. Once you have a satisfying amount of supporting details, you then begin to work on the layout.

It is a good practice to begin with the main message you are trying to convey, then start flowing into the supporting details. Once you come up with all your ideas, organize them in a way that makes sense for your audience.

Take your organized ideas and begin to lay them out in a script format. Remember, though, this is not an essay. You want to make sure this script will be vocalized fluently. Read your current script aloud; when you come across a section that doesn’t feel natural, make adjustments.

2. Look your best on camera.

Part of the reason so many people are worried about getting on camera is because they are worried about what they look like or how they’re being perceived. Here are a couple of tricks to ensure you look the best on camera to eliminate the unnecessary anxiety.

One of the biggest things to focus on when shooting your video is the light quality of the image. Many people who are new to video overlook this simple yet important detail. A cost effective method to increase the light quality is to shoot your video next to the window to use natural sunlight on your face, because nothing beats the quality of natural sunlight.

If using sunlight is not an option, find a couple of light sources around your office or house. Try to find multiple lamps and use them to light up both sides of your face. Getting even light is the key.

Another mistake many new video creators make is they don’t focus on the framing of the shot. Just because your eyes and your mouth are in the frame of your camera doesn’t mean your shot looks good. Try keeping your camera at eye level. If you’re using a webcam on a laptop do what you can to raise the laptop webcam to the level of your eye. The biggest benefit to shooting your video in this way is getting rid of an unflattering double chin.

3. To edit or not to edit?

This step is completely optional. Sometimes editing your videos is a necessity to remove long pauses, and other times it increases production value. However, video platforms such as Facebook Live,Snapchat and Instagram Stories are increasing in popularity, which means audiences are gravitating toward the natural, raw and uncut look of videos.

If you do prefer to edit your videos, video beginners should start with iMovie if you’re on a Mac or Windows Movie Maker if you’re on a PC. When you’re editing you might find that there are many areas you need to cut out. A great way to cover up your edits is by using additional footage, otherwise known as B-roll. Take this additional footage and play it over cuts to make them less noticeable.

4. Upload and optimize for search.

As entrepreneurs, we need to focus on creating a voice for ourselves and our businesses. One of the best ways to do that is being found in organic search. If you want your videos to be discovered in search you need to be uploading them to YouTube. YouTube is owned by the largest search engine in the world, Google. What that means is Google’s algorithm is biased towards YouTube videos, so YouTube is the place to be.

Don’t expect to upload a video and be found by thousands of people, though. What you need to do is optimize your YouTube videos. The best way to do this is by doing keyword research by using Google’s Keyword Planner. Come up with the keyword ideas around your topic that are getting the most traffic on Google. Use these popular keywords in your title, description and tags when uploading your video. This is the data the YouTube algorithm uses to determine where your video should be ranked in search.

7 Social Media Secrets Every Entrepreneur Should Know

When I first stepped into the world of social media marketing, I thought it was as easy as putting together a list of Facebook posts and hitting publish. I was dead wrong.

Good social media is evocative and connects with your specific audience on a deeper level. Just as businesses add value to customers’ lives delivering products and services, the best social media campaigns add value to their demographics.

If you want to truly stand out from the rest, here are the eight secret avenues I have learned over the years that can lead you to big success with your social media strategy:

1. Know yourself

Most marketers overlook a very basic principle when it comes to social media: understanding their own company, its strengths and weaknesses and its desired place in the market. Being open and honest with yourself on what you are good at is the most important thing to not just social media, but all aspects of business. You must first identify the following before becoming successful on social media:

  • Your goals and intentions with social media
  • Your audience
  • What your audience cares about
  • What you know a lot about
  • What content type matches your team’s personality, culture and capabilities

Once you know all of these things, you’ll be able to effectively craft a social media and content marketing plan. But until then, you’ll likely be like most organizations, blindly attempting to mirror the social media success of another company. Beyond the secret of “knowing yourself” is the power that comes with understanding the overlap of what you are good at and what your audience truly wants.

2. The content plan and dashboard

Social media should be looked at like any other facet of business. In operations, you have a process and structure to deliver your products/services. In finance, you have a comprehensive annual plan, with weekly and daily checkpoints to ensure success. In sales, you have targets, action plans and specific checkpoints and quotas to meet top line goals.

Social media is not unlike these arenas. To be successful, there must be clear plans and clear intentions that are metric driven and add real business value. So before shelling out significant social media investment or even hiring a social media manager, first create a structure, an annual plan and a dashboard that shows performance metrics.

In your content plan, you should map out annually all the content you are going to make. You should also figure out what formats your content will take, how you will distribute, the marketing funnel from the content to sales and your final KPIs to present in a dashboard. All this information can be done using a marketing automation tool or simply in a spreadsheet that you make.

Regardless of what you decide, if you are equipped with a content plan and dashboard, you’ll be able to quickly and effectively judge your social and content performance. This is key to making investment and hiring decisions. Don’t be caught blindly spending and guessing on your social performance. Plan it out, prepare for social media trends and link the results to valuable business metrics.

3. Meaningful interaction

When people comment on your Facebook posts or tweet at you, take it seriously. A huge secret to success with social is truly looking at online social interaction as an opportunity to make a significant and meaningful relationship with the user.

While it requires extra time, and some good amount of creativity, thinking of unique ways to respond that are personalized to audience can make huge payoffs.

Whether it’s sending them a gift in the mail or just crafting a clever direct message that relates to something on their profile, taking the extra time to make a personalized message can go so far in building brand advocates.

4. LinkedIn sales navigator

In B2B social sales, you need to be able to connect with the specific decision-makers at the accounts you are aiming to win. Finding these people can be tough, but with the LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you’ll have access to an incredible amount of information.

Not only can you use this paid tool to access all the accounts of people at companies you want to sell to, but you can see who has recently changed jobs, have access to their other social media accounts and gain a ton of other valuable B2B social insight. You can use this social information to interact with your decision-makers and build real interactions with them on social that can translate to in-person relationships.

5. Facebook groups

Facebook groups are an overlooked social media tactic, and using them properly can yield huge social and business payoffs. If you’re B2B, you can create groups for the type of professionals you’re selling to.

The key is starting with a niche that aligns with your audience and products, then building it organically by curating great content and encouraging engagement. A great example of this is Tai Lopez, who has been able to share his exciting and inspirational views across social media channels.

You should create posts that ask questions that are relevant to the audience. Go “live” while in the group to chat directly with people or implement other video marketing trends in the group for maximum engagement. Many marketers have successfully built large groups with thousands of target demographic users.

This is a long-term game. Pushing for the sale too quickly can result in loss of trust from your initial group members, so be sure to slowly and authentically build trust and demand for your products and services. Always focus on building a community that is valuable for everyone in the group.

6. Facebook dollar a day

While Facebook groups are a slow game to building a community, the paid Facebook ad is an incredibly powerful tactic that can rapidly grow your audience and social reach on demand. The dollar-a-day tactic is a simple way to start with Facebook advertising. Basically, you start by identifying an audience, then create a few “lighthouse” clients and pieces of content and boost these posts to your audience continually for a dollar a day.

This, at the very core, is the stage one structure of success in building a successful paid ad strategy on Facebook. While a simple paragraph can’t do the justice of the potential and complex nature of paid ads, the dollar-a-day strategy is a good way to start. Dig deeper into this topic and you won’t regret it.

7. Track success

Knowing what content is working on social can significantly improve your social strategy. Track the specific posts so you can report at the end of the year which posts performed best and why.

If you do this, over time you’ll be able to determine what types of posts your audience are most interested in and be able to create more of that and less of the posts that didn’t create interaction. So you might find that the unique 360 VR video you created got the most comments. Or maybe it flopped. But either way, knowing can help you make smarter choices next year.