How to massively improve your online marketing results, the easy way!

Do you prefer to attract client inquiries and leads, rather than having to sell your services?

If you do, then content marketing is exactly what you and your business need.  Content marketing is where you use blogs (like this one) or newsletters, podcasts or webinars etc, as a way to deliver valuable information, which gains the attention of your prospective clients.  Then, over a period of time, you get to position yourself as an expert in your field, to thousands of prospective clients.

Content marketing is extremely effective, it costs very little and the results can be amazing, life changing even!  Moreover, the results get better and better over time, as your audience and influence increases.

In today’s post, I am going to share one of the secrets behind the world’s most successful content marketing.  To begin, I am going to answer the 2 most common content marketing questions, which people ask me.  Here they are:

  1. How much free information should I give away?
  2. What quality of information is “just too good” for me to blog about or include for free in my newsletter, webinar or podcast?

Here are the short answers to those questions:

  1. You should give away as much free information as you can.
  2. You should give away as much value as you can.

Allow me to explain!

Content marketing and me

Back in 1995, my fellow marketing professionals said I was crazy for giving away so much marketing information for free.  This was before the Internet went mainstream, so I delivered my free content marketing via; radio shows, magazine articles, public speaking and networking groups.  I then established an enormously successful marketing newsletter, before moving on to blogging.

In short: I gave and gave and gave.  Then, I gave some more.

The more I gave away, the more I was accused of committing commercial suicide.

The more I gave away, the more high quality business I generated!

Here’s one thing that has not changed, over my 16 years in content marketing:  Most people only give snippets of information away for free, or information which they believe is not good enough to charge for.  Their belief is that by giving “the good stuff” away for free, it will reduce their income.  This is the exact opposite of what actually happens!

Here’s why.

By putting a diluted version of their content out there for free, they showcase themselves as being less effective than they really are.  The marketplace positions them in their mind as an average provider, because the free information they give away is average.  They are under-marketing themselves and their abilities.  For content marketing to work, your free material needs to be good enough to inspire people to subscribe to you, get in touch with you and link to you.  It also needs to be compelling enough to motivate people to share your blog, newsletter or whatever, with their social network. People will only do that when the information they receive is valuable enough.

I have never held back information from this blog, in case it’s too valuable to give away for free.  You know what though?  I do the opposite all the time.  I often refuse to publish posts here, because they are just not good enough for you.  That’s a fundamental of successful content marketing.  Give away as much high quality information as you can, and attract the attention, interest and respect of your marketplace.  Show them what you know.

Content marketing and your business

If you like the idea of attracting clients (rather than pursuing them) and want to know more about content marketing, I have some GREAT news for you!  I shall be making a very special announcement shortly, regarding an exciting, new content marketing program.  This is NOT the typical; ebook, premium blog content and a few webinars – It’s the chance for you and I to work together, 1-to-1, on the development of the perfect content marketing strategy for you and your business.  If you want to know more, keep an extra close eye on the blog over the coming days!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: St_A_Sh

Twitter: How I attracted more traffic and more followers by doing less

As a marketing guy, I am always testing ways to make things more effective.  What follows is my experience, after a simple 5 day Twitter experiment, which was just a bit of fun, yet led to some interesting results and totally changed the way I use Twitter!

Here’s what I did and what the results were:

I elected not to tweet any links to this blog and then see what impact it had on my traffic.

Here is what happened.  By the way, you can join me on Twitter here.

Traffic from Twitter

Before I started, I expected to see a slight drop in traffic from Twitter.  Surely, if I am not Tweeting links here, fewer people would know about my posts – right?

Wrong!

Instead, traffic from Twitter increased by close to 300% over those 5 days.  This is reflected in the diagram later in the post.  Now, on the first few days, I sent a tweet out, which alerted people that I was not tweeting links to new posts here.  Obviously, those tweets had no links in them and didn’t generate additional traffic, as I monitored real-time traffic from Twitter and there was no measurable increase.  The reason was simply to let people know that nothing was wrong .

So, why the increase in traffic?

It seems this blogs readers and my Twitter “followers” picked up the slack!  Knowing I wasn’t tweeting links to my posts here, they did it for me.  Now, I am not sure how this would pan out if I carried the experiment out over 6 months, but certainly over the 5 days, my online network were a lot more active in promoting my posts.  I also saw lots of new faces showing up in my Twitter stream; people sharing my posts, who I had never heard of or seen previously.

Tuesday saw the highest traffic day to this blog in its history.  This was the result of several factors, ranging from some well connected Facebook and Twitter users sharing that days post, (which ironically was how to get more traffic using Twitter) and that post being featured on a number of popular sites, including webpronews. I have looked to see if these events could be traced to the experiment and it’s impossible to say yes or no with 100% certainty.

I am not a big believer in coincidences and I believe it’s entirely possible that with so many new people sharing my posts this week, it brought my blog to the attention of those publishers, Twitter users and Facebook users.

Here’s what happened to traffic as a result, compared to the past 6 months:

Blog subscriber numbers

One of the challenges with using Twitter to inform people of your latest posts, is that you eliminate the need for your followers, to subscribe to your blog.  In essence, you are training them not to subscribe to your primary social hub! If they decide to stop using Twitter or you decide to drop it for the next big thing, you can lose a lot of readers, very quickly.

For me, this alone is a good reason NOT to train people to use Twitter as the way to subscribe to your blog.

Some caveats

This was just a fun experiment, carried out over a very short time-scale; rather than the kind of marketing research I would carry out to get the heavy detail required for a fully-fledged project.  You should NOT use these conclusions as the basis of a change in your own Twitter use!

It is also extremely important to mention that the results would have looked VERY different, if I did not already have lots of great people, who regularly share this blog with their followers.  In addition, Twitter accounts for a tiny amount of my daily visitors here, behind; Google, RSS, Facebook, back links and Stumbleupon.  Once my largest source of traffic, Twitter has grown slower than all my other marketing channels.  In other words, I wasn’t risking much.

As I hope I have made very clear, this brief experiment was intended to see what the short-term results would be, by not using Twitter to share my new posts each day.  I had no idea that the results over such a short period, would be so interesting; which is why I intend to change my Twitter use over the longer term now, as I explain in a moment.

I find it interesting that the past 5 days coincided with my best traffic day ever and a sharp increase in follower numbers, see below.  Note, the numbers were increasing fastest from the 13th, not the 12th, which was the heavy traffic day.

Conclusions

For now, I have decided to only share posts on Twitter, which are related to Twitter (like this one) or posts that I believe have particular relevance to the people I connect with there.  Previously, I shared every post on Twitter twice: Once in the morning and again in the afternoon or evening.

I’m really curious how the numbers will look, over a longer period.  Any marketing professional worth their salt will tell you that you need good data to reach accurate conclusions.  On something like this, you need to be working with a larger set of data.  I will, of course, share my findings with you.

So, for the foreseeable future, I will be using my Twitter time primarily to share YOUR great posts and connect more with you.

IMPORTANT:  If you usually catch up with my latest posts via Twitter and don’t want to miss anything, subscribe to the blog or get new posts delivered direct to your inbox, using the “Free Updates” box at the top right of this page.

Get more traffic from Twitter with these 6 great headline tips

So, you have all those followers on Twitter and yet when you tweet a link to your latest blog post…..nothing much happens!

Why did so few of those hundreds (or thousands) of your followers click your link; after all, it’s a great post?

Your headline let you down!

People will ONLY click your links and read your content, if the headline or title is compelling enough.  If just a small percentage of your followers are clicking on your links, it’s because the headline isn’t selling that link to your followers.  It’s not compelling them enough, to make them want to click through to your site and find out more.  Unless they do that, they will never know how great your posts are, which is why headlines are easily the most important element of your content.

Your headlines or titles are what open the door to your content.  To succeed, your content has to be effective too, but nothing happens until people actually READ what you have written and your headline is what either encourages them to read the first line of your material – Or not.  Get the headline wrong and you make it very hard for your content to get noticed.

6 headline secrets behind yesterday’s post

To show you what I mean, I will use the example of yesterday’s post, which was extremely successful.  It’s title was: Build a great client list with this 1 simple idea.  Here are six of the secrets behind it.

The headline didn’t try and do everything.  There was enough information in that headline to explain what the post was about and get the reader curious.  To discover what the “1 simple idea” is, the reader has to click through.  The more curious you can make someone, the more likely they are to take action; in this case click a link.

The headline was relevant to my readers. It was a marketing related headline and my friends on social networks connect with me because they are interested in marketing.

The headline made a compelling promise.  Every headline makes a promise to the reader.  The promise of that headline, is that if they click that link, I will give them some valuable information, which will help them with a huge problem; attracting better clients.  The post content delivers on the promise, which is essential if you want people to come back!  A great headline, which points to a post that fails to deliver on the headline’s promise, will cause people to feel cheated and stop them trusting your headlines and links in future.

The headline let people know it was easy. Part of the headline’s promise, is that they will learn this valuable information, quickly and easily.  It’s just 1 simple idea.  This requires little time investment from the reader, with the potential to learn some valuable business information.

The headline didn’t keyword stuff. Some people seem to believe that the only way to attract search engine traffic, is to stuff their headlines with keywords.  This is flawed for 2 reasons.

  1. You can SEO your posts, by making the version of the title which people see, different from the version which search engines see.  If you use WordPress, there are plugins that allow you to do this.  If, like me, you use the Headway WordPress Theme, (affiliate link) you don’t need to mess around with plugins, it’s there out of the box (along with a ton of other great SEO features!)
  2. Your content, including titles, should be written for people, NOT search engines.  If you try and write posts that appeal to search engines rather than people, even if someone does find your site on Google or Bing etc, it will read poorly and therefore fail to convert them into subscribers, clients or customers.

The headline wasn’t clever. Some people write clever headlines, which lack any compelling reason for a busy person to click their link.  They are often abstract or cryptic, rather than interest grabbing and inspiring.

Headlines are important so give them the time they deserve

There are very few things in life, which come with a guarantee, however, I can guarantee that if you make your blog post titles more compelling, you will definitely get more traffic from social networks and feedreaders.

Invest as much time as is required, to get your headlines as attractive as possible and just watch the increase in your blogging results.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Image: Shawn Campbell

My New Twitter Project

As part of a social media marketing experiment, I will not be sharing posts from Jims Marketing Blog via Twitter for the next 5 days.  If you want to keep up with the content here on the blog, and you currently use Twitter to do so, please use the Free Updates box on the right or subscribe to my RSS feed, using the link in the header.

twitterI will still be using Twitter just as regularly, (I love Twitter) but with Twitter click through’s as low as they are (just 2% of my traffic comes from Twitter and Twitter apps combined) I’m going to monitor what difference it makes by not tweeting this blog’s posts.  I am hoping the difference will be marginal, as I am starting to get really bored watching people ReTweeting their own posts and I am sure others feel exactly the same.

It’s only this blog’s content that I will not be sharing.  I’ve always much preferred using twitter to listen and learn from others.  Obviously, if you find something here which you want to share with your friends on Twitter, please do so.

I will let you know what my results are as soon as I have enough information; which I believe will be around 5 days time.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

HTC customer service: My experience and maybe a lesson too?

As a very happy user of the stunning HTC Desire Android phone, I was wondering what my first experience of HTC customer service would be like, after I required their help a few days ago.  Sadly, it was poor.  However, I do believe there’s a powerful marketing lesson here, which is what I want to share with you.

htc customer serviceHTC customer service frustrations

I eventually found the answer I needed, after being given incorrect information by one of HTC’s customer service team, over a series of extremely frustrating messages that spanned 2 days.  I wasted hours of my time, needlessly.

However, anyone can have a bad day (or 2) and this could have been that I caught the particular customer service person at a bad time.  No, my real issue was with the over complicated process, which made a bad situation worse.

HTC customer service hurdles

For example, I had to dismantle the phone, to get a code, before they would allow me to submit a very simple, generic question.  They could have answered my question with just a model name.

Unbelievably, although they replied to my tech support questions via email, they did not allow me to reply to those emails via email!  Seriously!  Every time I needed to ask a question, it meant I had to leave the email program, visit a URL, enter a long series of numbers, enter my email address and then type my message out.

All that information was already on ALL the emails they sent me, so simply by replying, they would have had all the info they needed.

The impression I got, was that HTC didn’t want it to be easy for me to get in touch with them.  It felt that they were placing hurdles in front of me.  I may well be wrong and if I am, I welcome HTC to respond.  It could be that they are genuinely unaware what a total pain in the ass it is, to deal with their tech support in the current way.

Hopefully, if HTC monitor mentions of their brand, someone will see this and maybe mention it to someone who has the power to fix it.  Then, their customer service might match their amazing products.  Just to confirm, the phone itself is the best I have ever used. This may be why I was so disappointed at the horrible customer service experience I had, from start to finish.

If HTC contact me, I will of course let you know.

Here’s the thing: Until that poor customer service experience, I had been evangelically recommending their HTC Desire and Desire HD phones to everyone.

Today, I don’t!

I no longer recommend the brand, because I don’t want people to experience the same customer service frustrations that I encountered.

Word of mouth recommendations are incredibly powerful.  In the week I owned my HTC Desire, prior to this customer service incident, I helped them sell around a dozen HTC Desire phones, via my recommendations to friends and contacts.  Had I blogged about them, the way I did when Dell customer service exceeded my expectations, who knows how many of you would have considered buying an HTC phone when you next upgrade.

In fact, in 3 years this is only the 2nd time I have ever named a brand in a negative light!  As I showed with that Dell post, I always prefer to focus on the positive, yet the marketing message here is too important for me not to share the learning with you.

HTC customer service: The marketing lesson?

If you were ever in any doubt as to the strong connection between customer service and marketing, this example makes the point extremely well.  Just as your marketing promises need to be backed up with great products, they also need to be backed up with great customer service.  No matter how good our products or services are, we can turn passionate advocates away and send them packing to another provider or brand, if we let them down when it comes to the customer service experience.

My negative customer service experience, both with the person who was “looking after me” and their HTC tech support system itself, has seen me go from being a passionate advocate of great HTC hardware, to a frustrated user of HTC customer service.  To turn someone away like that makes no sense at all.

UPDATE: 28th December 2011

It’s now 8 months since I wrote this post and have still not had any reply from HTC.

It’s not my intention to turn this post into a place where people can slam HTC or their products. It was always intended simply to showcase an example of an amazing product let down by pretty poor online customer service procedures and offer suggestions on how it could be fixed. My issue was exclusively around the inability to reply to tech support emails, and have to go through a lot of hassle via a website, in order to reply.

As a result, I am closing comments on this and suggest future complaints are directed to HTC.

As HTC have taken no notice of this post whatsoever, it’s unlikely your problems will get an answer from them here.

Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the comments!

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Ron Bennetts

Visionary, thought leader, maverick or fool? You decide!

Over the past few hours alone, I have seen people using their online profiles to clearly indicate who they are.

  • One lady called herself a visionary.
  • A guy called himself a thought leader.
  • Many referred to themselves as mavericks.

In each case, what the person thought they were doing, was elevating their status.  Of course, in reality they were showing the world that they know nothing about the way that true visionaries, thought leaders or mavericks work.

In my experience, the people who actually possess the rare qualities, which these ill-informed people claim to have, do not have to tell us what they are.  They earn the titles, which other people then use to describe them.

  • Steve Jobs doesn’t call himself a visionary – We see it for ourselves, by what he does.
  • Seth Godin doesn’t call himself a thought leader – We see it for ourselves, by what he does.
  • Leo Laporte doesn’t call himself a maverick – We see it for ourselves, by what he does.

The bottom line: Just as trust is to be earned and not demanded, so are the rare attributes, which so many people readily claim for themselves online.  People show us they are visionaries, thought leaders or mavericks by their actions – Not the labels they eagerly use in a poor attempt to impress others.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Jonny2love

Social networking: Do you make this common mistake?

Don’t let the numbers on social networks fool you!

You see, those numbers are far less a reflection of someone’s actual influence or talent, than many people seem to think.

For example, that social media guru with 100,000 followers, forced to spend most of his or her time away from their kids in order to make a living on the speaking circuit, may be less talented, than “some guy” who just followed you.

“Some guy” and the numbers

The wealthiest and best connected person I know joined Twitter last year.  He mainly uses it to keep up with his grown-up family, so I don’t bother following him.  10 minutes ago, I checked his Twitter account and he still has fewer than 70 followers.  For fun, I checked his klout score too and it’s extremely low, just as you’d expect.

Don’t feel too sorry for him though.  He’ll be fine.  His family are happy and healthy and he’s good for over £400million; according to The Sunday Times Rich List.

It’s about people

If my friend were to follow you (or me) right now, we’d hardly notice.  Using the typical social networking measurement tools, this self-made, multi millionaire businessman is just “some guy”; not an influencer, like that guru with droves of followers.

Behind each social networking account is a person.  When we allow ourselves to be influenced by their numbers instead of their unique human value, we risk listening to the wrong people and missing the REAL gold dust.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Letterpressdelicacies

How NOT to be invisible or look like a fool!

If you want to attract the attention of your marketplace as an expert, you should use your expertise to set yourself apart from the crowd.

Many small business owners do the opposite.  They simply copy or rip-off what they see a leader in their field doing.  This is a very bad move, as it guarantees they remain invisible.

I see this a lot online, even within my own niche.  Some marketing providers really struggle to get noticed, because they are not letting us see their creativity or originality.  Instead, they emulate the writing style, ideas and even the vocabulary of other marketing bloggers and authors.

Of course, what the marketplace needs to see, is their authentic message.

The irony of a purple cow

An ironic example of this came to my attention today, which prompted me to write this post.  A business owner emailed me, to say she had been looking for a marketing firm to handle a new project.  She found one, which used Seth Godin’s phrase purple cow, to describe their creative services.  For those who don’t know, the reason this is REALLY ironic, is that the phrase “purple cow”, means to be remarkable / original.

So, the marketing firm used a borrowed phrase from another marketer, to explain how creative they are!  As the emailer said; “Do these people not realize this makes them look like fools, to be offering creative services, without the creativity to market themselves, in their own words?”

Was the emailer a little harsh?  Yes, maybe.  But why put prospective clients in that position, needlessly?  They should have shown some confidence and used their own words to encourage her to get in touch.  These guys are professional copywriters, after all.

Thankfully, with so many people happy to blend into the background, anyone with the creativity and courage to stand out for all the right reasons, has the potential to achieve life-changing results!

Learn from the best, don’t copy them

Find your own style and develop your own unique message.  Be a student of the best, not a diluted version of them.  As a student, we learn and improve.  We increase our value and make progress.

We need to let our unique self stand out and shine for the marketplace to see.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: The hills are alive

6 ways to quickly improve your profile

How do you think people feel about you and your business, when they discover you online?

The reason this matters to small business owners, is that feelings are the key factor in whether someone buys from you or not.  We do business with people we feel good about and avoid people we have a bad feeling about.  We buy things that feel just right and avoid buying things that feel wrong.  In fact, it’s often said that the decision to buy a new house, the biggest single purchase most people will ever make, is based on the way they feel about the house in the first 60 seconds!

Online profiles and the feelings they create

In my experience, small business owners tend to have 1 of the following 2 broad approaches to what they share with the world on their blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin etc:

  1. The first group writes in positive terms about their business and the marketplace.  Even if times are challenging for them, we wouldn’t know because they talk about what they want, rather than what they fear.  Of course, their enthusiasm builds confidence in them and their business, which creates a positive circle of events, as people are attracted to them – Giving them even more to be positive about.
  2. The second group write in largely neutral terms about their business and the marketplace.  However, their lack of enthusiasm fails to inspire confidence in them or their business.  Some seem to confuse being confident, with being boastful.  Others fail to share their positive news, for fear that it may make people resent them for what they have achieved.

6 things to think about

I strongly believe you should be confident enough to get your stars out and show the world your brilliant self.  Here are 6 suggestions, to help your prospective clients get a glimpse of the REAL YOU and how amazing you truly are, when they check you out online.   Use your blog and social media accounts to:

  1. Talk (and write) about what you want, not what you fear.  Prospective clients might not want to do business with someone, if they think that person may be about to go out of business, after reading how bad things are.
  2. Share your successes.
  3. Show your gratitude.  Be fast to thank.  Be first to thank.
  4. Show your willingness to contribute.
  5. Share your uniqueness.  It’s hard to get noticed unless you are willing to step out of the crowd.  Don’t be a human RT  / “like” machine for the gurus!
  6. Showcase other great people.

Never confuse confidence with arrogance.  Have the confidence to share your successes, but also the humility to readily celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of others.

Photo: Sergis blog

Disclosure matters

Even though I am an affiliate of just one product and have just 1 sponsor, I decided to add a disclosure page to this blog.

I assumed that as I seldom link to the only affiliate product I have and the blog’s sponsor is clearly referred to as such, there was little point.

I then saw something that made me reconsider, very quickly!

I was prompted to write that brief page, after reading several disclosure pages on some popular blogs; which had so many caveats that just about anything they wrote could be some kind of paid endorsement.  It was extremely illuminating and I suggest that you check out any disclosure pages on the blogs you read.

My affiliate partner and sponsor

I am an independent blogger, with no cross marketing agreements with anyone.  If I say I think a particular blog or product or service is great, it’s because I believe it.  For example, I was openly recommending my hosting provider, WebFusion, before they started sponsoring the blog.  Five months after going onto one of their dedicated servers, I am still on 100% up time!  It’s easy to recommend something like that, knowing how many people are stuck on unreliable hosting.  I wasted a long time on deadbeat hosts before finding them.  BTW: I get paid nothing if you click their banner, it’s just a link to their site.

With my one and only affiliate, it was a very similar story.  I had been recommending Headway (the WordPress theme this blog’s built on), to people for 6 months, before I decided to become an affiliate.

Recommended reading:  My friend Danny Brown has a great post on his blog about other areas of disclosure, which is well worth reading.

Even if you have little to disclose, I think it’s a very good idea to put it up there so people can see.

Let’s work together and grow your business. To find out more click here!

Photo: Sean McMenemy