Sales

How to Generate Sales for a New Product Release

So you’re ready to launch a new product.

Congratulations.

Regardless of your business type or industry, it’s important for brands, both new and old, to be innovative to stay relevant. I know how much hard work you’ve put into this new release, so I want to commend you on that.

Whether you’re releasing a new product or an extension of an existing product line, you’ve got to make sure your marketing efforts lead to sales.

Think about all the blood, sweat, and tears you put into this creation. Okay, maybe not blood, but you get what I mean.

This goes all the way back to your early brainstorming sessions as well as your research and development phases. You may have even had some failed attempts.

Oh yeah, and what about all the money you invested in this new product? Can’t forget about that.

If you can’t get consumers to buy your product, you won’t get an adequate return on that investment.

But those of you who are able to effectively promote your new product will enjoy the high sales. I’ll give you some tips and advice that will help you out.

Build hype early

If you wait until your product launches to start marketing it, you’ve waited too long. Those of you who failed to start early are already behind.

But don’t worry. I’m not here to reprimand you. There are still ways in which you can generate sales after the item is released, but we’ll talk about those later.

A great way to build hype in the early stages is by turning the announcement into a big deal. Apple is famous for this with its keynote presentations.

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Since the company has been using this strategy for years, consumers now anticipate the announcement itself. By the time Apple announces a new product, people have already decided to buy it.

Announcing new products at a particular event will get your audience ready. They’ll want the latest and greatest product or technology.

The anticipation of the release makes the product that much more desirable. Now you’ve got them hooked before it’s even released.

Consumers will be lined up around the block to buy your new product because they’ve been thinking about it for months. They already know the features and benefits of it because they’ve done the research.

Building hype before the release will help you generate sales on the release date as well as the subsequent days and weeks.

Start taking pre-orders

Again, this strategy relates to the idea of starting early.

You don’t need to wait for your product to be in stock to start generating sales. Let your customers pre-order the product so you can secure profits right away.

Offering pre-orders has tons of benefits. One is collecting money early. But pre-ordering an item also gives your customers a sense of exclusivity.

It will give customers the illusion that they have something before anyone else does. They’ll be one of the first people to have the product in their hands.

Furthermore, if you take pre-orders, people may think there is a chance the product may sell out. If they don’t order it now, they may not have the chance to buy it on the official release date.

Pre-orders ensure your new product gets off to a strong start, which is better than it would do through the average product life cycle.

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There’s no reason to have a slow introduction phase if you can avoid it.

In addition to wanting to be exclusive or have the product before anyone else, think of other reasons why a consumer may be interested in a pre-order.

Discounts.

Everyone loves getting a deal. Depending on your brand image and pricing strategy, you could potentially offer a discount to customers who pre-order the product to help drive sales.

Taking orders before release can also help you gauge your inventory. You’ll have a better idea of how much of the product you’ll need to have on hand for the initial release.

This is important information in terms of your production costs, and it will help you maximize your ROI.

Target your most loyal customers

Just because you’re releasing a new product doesn’t mean you need to find new customers.

Don’t get me wrong. New customers are great, and they are always welcome to buy. But you already have an existing clientele of people familiar with your brand and existing products. Those are the customers whom you should contact first.

Your email marketing list is a great place to start.

These are the customers who are so interested in your brand and products that they signed up to hear from you on a regular basis. So send emails before and after the product launches.

Here’s an example of an email sent out by Lululemon:

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This email is promoting new colors of an existing product. So it makes sense the company is starting with its existing customers, who may already be familiar with this product.

Even if it was a new product, telling your email subscribers about it first is still a viable strategy.

It’s also worth noting that you have a 60-70% chance of selling to a current customer. But you only have a 5-20% chance of a new customer purchasing a product.

If sales are your goal, focusing on new customers won’t be as effective.

Research shows that it’s six or seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to market to an existing one.

When it comes to your ROI, marketing to your most loyal customers is the best bang for your buck.

Run a contest

Another way to generate sales for your new product is by giving it away.

I know what you’re thinking. This sounds counterproductive. How can you make money by giving something away?

You need to learn how to run a profitable giveaway. Contests will get people interested in what you’re selling. Rather than promoting it by saying “here is our new product,” put a unique spin on it by running a contest.

The cost to run a contest is relatively inexpensive as well. The only major expense is the cost of the item you’re giving away, plus maybe some additional shipping charges.

But the benefits will be worth it. In my opinion, social media platforms are the best places to set up your contests. Here’s why:

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Running your contests on social media will expose your new product to a larger audience. As a result, it will help you generate more sales.

Here’s a hypothetical example to show you what I’m talking about. Let’s say you run a contest on Instagram. To enter, people need to post a picture to their personal Instagram profiles and include a relevant hashtag.

Let’s say 1,000 people enter your contest. That’s 1,000 photos of your brand just from one contest. Tons of people will see these pictures.

Of those 1,000 entries, you’re selecting only three winners. But there are still 997 people who want your product, plus who knows how many people who were exposed to it.

They’ve already built up excitement about using it. There is a good chance a large chunk of that group will still buy it.

As you can see, something as simple as giving away three items can generate hundreds or potentially thousands of sales.

Offer a discount

Typically, most brands don’t offer discounts for new items. When a new product gets released, they discount older items.

While I can understand the thinking behind this concept, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct. People love to get a deal. Put your pride aside for a moment, and recognize that consumers are price sensitive. They’re also more intelligent than you think.

If they realize your new product will eventually go on sale, they have no reason to buy it right now. But by the time it goes on sale, they may have forgotten about it and lost interest.

While the product is fresh in the minds of the consumers, close the deal.

Mark down the price right away. If you want, use an age-old marketing trick. Jack up the initial retail price, then discount it making sure you can still profit.

Psychologically, it’s going to be tough for people to justify paying a full price for a product when they see cheaper items surrounding it on your site and in stores.

Blog about it

Use your blog to your advantage.

Start talking about the product in your posts before it gets released. Continue talking about it after the release as well.

Blogging has many benefits:

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As you can see from these numbers, your blog can help you generate new leads. Consumers trust advice from blogs.

Sure, it’s obvious your readers will know your opinion is biased. They realize you won’t say anything bad about the products you want to sell.

But that shouldn’t stop you from writing about your new release. You can also reach out to other websites and try to get featured in guest posts.

Set up a link directly in the posts that brings the readers to the checkout page with the new product in their carts. Reducing the steps in the process increases the chances of driving sales.

Be innovative

If your new product is boring, is the same as your other items, or is already available from other retailers, people won’t be thrilled to buy it.

But if it’s unique, improves their lives, and enhances their customer service experience, they’ll be much more willing to spend their hard-earned cash.

Be creative.

Start by conducting the right market research.

What do your customers want? Give it to them.

Try to make drastic improvements to existing products that have problems. If your product is revolutionary, it will sell like crazy.

Highlight the new product on your website

Now that your product has launched and is available for purchase, don’t bury it on your website.

Showcase it on your homepage. Take a look at this example from the GAP website:

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The new arrivals are the first thing featured on its homepage.

Do you notice anything else about this site? It also offers discounts on its new items, a strategy I’ve previously discussed.

You can feature your new product in other places of your website as well.

Let’s say your site has a search filter, which it should, so I’m assuming it does. When someone searches for something by name or by a category that fits the description of your new product, it should be the first item they see on the page.

If they have to navigate through pages and pages of results to find your new product, it will decrease the chances of them buying it.

Here’s a look at how Michael Kors sorts products on its ecommerce page:

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You can employ a similar strategy to increase the exposure of your new products.

This will help you generate more sales.

Timing is everything

Your new product might be great. However, if you release it at the wrong time, you won’t get lots of sales.

For example, let’s say you’re planning to release a product on a Thursday, which just happens to be July 3rd that year. You can’t just do that without taking things like that into consideration.

July 4th is obviously a national holiday celebrated by Americans. Lots of people will take July 3rd off work and enjoy a nice long weekend with family and friends.

They could be having a barbeque, traveling, or spending the day on the beach. They probably won’t have tons of time or incentive to buy something online.

Your opening weekend is going to be a dud. This won’t build much buzz around your product release.

On the flipside, if you were releasing a product that could be used on the 4th of July, such as American flag apparel, you’ve got to make sure the release date gives your customers enough time to get the item before they need it.

If they need it for the 4th, releasing it on the 3rd won’t get you sales either.

You should also keep seasons in mind as well. For example, nobody in New England is going to buy snow gear in the summer.

When it comes to proper timing, ecommerce brands can build hype for the holiday season. You’ll want to release your products when consumers are ready and willing to spend money.

Use video content as a promotion tool

Don’t just share pictures of your new product. You’ll want to give people as much information as possible about what they’re buying.

That’s why video promotions are a viable strategy. There are lots of ways in which you can accomplish this.

You can use commercial style promotions to showcase your product. This can be done before and after your product is released.

Once the new product is available for purchase on your site, include a video demonstration to show website visitors how it works.

Recognize what type of content your target market wants to see. Consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.

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Furthermore, 90% of consumers say videos about products help them make buying decisions. Customers are 64% more likely to buy a product online if they’ve seen a video about it.

Share the videos on your website, social media platforms, marketing emails, and all your distribution channels.

Jump on the live video bandwagon. Showcase the product with live video streams as well.

These tactics will help you drive sales for your new product release.

Conclusion

Releasing a new product can be intimidating. You put so much effort into the release that you need to make sure everything goes smoothly.

If you don’t generate sales, your new product won’t turn a profit.

That’s why it’s important for you to start building hype for your product before it gets released. Take pre-orders, and start collecting money right away.

Rather than looking for new customers, promote the new release to your most loyal customers.

Come up with an innovative product. Run contests, and offer discounts as promotional methods. Talk about the new product in your blog posts.

Showcase the item on your website, and consider the timing of your release.

Create video advertisements, and share them on all your distribution channels.

If you follow the advice in this guide, your new product will generate sales and drive high profits as a result.

What marketing strategies are you using to drive sales for your newest products?


Quick Sprout

How to Drive Sales with Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

It’s crucial for businesses to have an active social media presence to survive in 2018.

No social media marketing strategy is complete without Instagram. It’s become a top platform for brands, advertisers, and consumers alike.

This platform has 800 million monthly active users. And 500 million Instagram profiles are active on a daily basis.

Here’s something else that may surprise you: 70% of Instagram hashtags are branded.

What does that tell you? If you’re not active on Instagram, your competitors definitely are.

Those of you who already have an account set up are on the right track. But just having an Instagram profile doesn’t necessarily translate to sales.

If you want to drive sales and make real money from Instagram, you need to come up with a viable strategy. This guide will steer you in the right direction.

Increase your following

One of the first steps to having a successful Instagram marketing strategy is growing your follower base.

Without lots of followers, you will struggle to get your posts seen. It’s not going to be easy for you to generate sales without followers.

For those of you who just created your Instagram page, it can be intimidating to start with the number zero. But unless you’re a brand new company, you already have customers.

That’s the best place to start looking for followers. Here are the top reasons why users follow brands on social media:

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As you can see from these numbers, more than 73% of users say they follow brands on social media because they are interested in the product or service the brands are offering.

Your existing customers are interested in your brand. Tell them about your profile, and ask them to follow you.

Start by sending out messages to your email subscribers. Just make sure you give them an incentive to follow you.

For example, you may send out emails only a few times per month. Tell your subscribers that if they want to see more frequent discounts and promotions, they will find them on Instagram.

If you use this strategy, be sure to follow through with that promise.

In addition to reaching out to your email subscribers, you can have an Instagram badge on your website. Use your other social media channels to promote your Instagram profile as well.

After you take these steps, another great way to get more followers is by following other people. That said, don’t follow random users.

Find followers that fit within your target audience. That’ll be your best bet when it comes to generating new leads and driving sales.

How do you find people that fit within your target market? It’s a bit tricky, and you’ll need to put in some effort. First, you need to find accounts similar to yours.

I’m not saying you need to steal followers from your competitors, although that can work too.

Instead, you can search for Instagram profiles that post content related to your industry. For example, let’s say your company sells hiking and camping equipment.

Check out this profile. The name of the account is Adventure Enthusiasts:

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They have more than 132,000 followers. All of their content is related to outdoor locations across the world.

You could assume that people who follow this account would be interested in camping and hiking.

It’s time-consuming, but this will work. Once you find an account like this, go through its followers, and start following people.

The users will get a notification and check out your page. If they like what they see on your profile, which we’ll discuss shortly, they’ll be likely to follow you back.

Once you add tons of new followers, it’s going to be much easier for you to drive sales with your Instagram strategy.

Focus on the first impression of your page

First impressions matter. This statement holds true in the real world as well as the virtual world.

As a marketer, you need to recognize that. It’s the same reason why writing an irresistible blog post introduction is vital to your content strategy.

When an Instagram user clicks on your profile, what’s the first thing they see?

They see your profile picture, biography, and your most recent posts. Going back to our last point about following users to grow your own follower base, when a user clicks your profile, they shouldn’t have any questions.

What I mean by that is this. Your profile should say who you are and what you do.

Having your logo as your profile picture makes the most sense. It’s much more recognizable than a random picture of a person or one of your products.

Here’s an example from the Dollar Shave Club Instagram page:

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What is your first impression of this profile?

To me, it’s clear from the beginning who they are. The profile picture is their logo, and their bio explains what they do in greater detail.

They even include a link to a landing page on their website to encourage users to sign up for the service.

Basically, if your brand’s Instagram page doesn’t grab the attention of users, you won’t have much luck getting followers.

For the most part, it’s best to keep everything short, to the point, and professional. Now, you’ll have a greater opportunity to promote your products and ultimately increase your sales.

Post content on a regular basis

If you’re adding a picture or video to your profile only once a month, it’s not an effective strategy. I wouldn’t even call that an active profile.

You want your brand to always be fresh in the minds of your followers.

At the same time, you don’t want to flood user timelines and be perceived as annoying. You need to find a middle ground here.

I wouldn’t recommend posting much more than once per day. If you have lots of content you want to share each day, it’s better to add it to your Instagram story.

If you don’t know how it works, check out my ultimate guide to using Instagram story to promote your business.

How often should you post on Instagram? Research shows that the top brands on Instagram post 1.5 times each day on average. That comes out to about 10 or 11 posts per week.

The timing of these posts is crucial as well. Top brands typically post content during office hours of a standard workweek.

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Why?

Well, roughly 90% of employees admit to using social media as a distraction while they’re at work.

You need to recognize this and plan the timing of your posts accordingly. Posting on a regular basis increases your exposure and the likelihood that as many people as possible will see your content.

Don’t be too “salsey “

So, we’ve just established you need to post daily. But we haven’t talked about the content of those posts.

Obviously, you want to drive sales. However, that doesn’t mean that everything you post should be a product promotion.

That’ll annoy your followers and end up having the opposite effect of what you’re looking for. Mix up your content.

Be funny. Post pictures of your employees. Just don’t stray too far from your brand image.

While it’s okay to post content that’s not promoting a product, you want to stay away from controversial topics. I’m referring to subjects such as religion, politics, and race. Offending your followers is not going to help you drive sales.

Again, just avoid too many promotional posts. Posting too many promotions is the number one annoying action businesses take on social media, according to users:

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Furthermore, 46% of users say they’ll unfollow a brand on social media if it posts promotions too frequently.

Whenever you do post a promotion, do it casually. You don’t need to put words in all capitalized letters and include tons of stars and quotation marks around everything.

That’s annoying. Keep it short and to the point.

Go live

Instagram has a live broadcast feature. If you read my top marketing trends of 2018, you’d know I put live video streaming first on this list.

Users love it, and brands are using this information to their advantage.

Live video gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience in real time. While you broadcast, they can comment.

Make sure you respond to these comments, and try your best to acknowledge those users. This will help you increase engagement metrics.

There are endless possibilities with your live streams.

You could demonstrate new products, give a tour of your facility, or even introduce some of your employees. I like the idea of hosting a Q&A segment to give you a more authentic connection with your audience.

Another way to utilize Instagram live story is by working with other brands. Instagram is the top social platform in terms of brand collaborations across the globe:

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You could try to get featured on the live broadcast of another profile in an effort to promote your brand.

As a result, this type of strategy can help you expose your brand to a new audience, increase your followers, and ultimately drive more sales.

Add pictures and videos to your story

As I briefly mentioned earlier, your story is a great place to add daily content.

You can post content to your story multiple times per day because it won’t flood the timelines of users who follow you.

But that doesn’t mean you should go overboard and post 20 different pictures and videos to your story every day.

People won’t look at each one, so it’s a waste of your time and resources. The engagement and views will drop with each additional post to your story.

You also need to make sure the timing of the post on your story is relevant because it will disappear 24 hours after it gets uploaded.

I’d recommend using your story to offer discounts, run contests, or tell people what you’re up to that day in the office.

The whole idea here is having your brand on their minds. If they’re thinking about your brand, they are more likely to make a purchase.

Similarly to your live video strategy, you can even use your Instagram story to partner with another brand for a takeover. You can take over their account, and they can post content to yours as well.

Again, this will make it easier for you to expose your brand to a wider audience.

Partner with social influencers

You don’t need to be the only one promoting your brand on Instagram.

You should work with social influencers to share your content and encourage sales as well. That’s because social influencers have high engagement rates and great relationships with their followers.

If you work with micro influencers, their followers will likely view those people as their peers. Based on this research, 90% of consumers say they trust recommendations made by their peers:

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Plus, working with micro-influencers is much more cost-effective than paying someone with a celebrity status to promote your brand.

Not sure where you can find social influencers?

Check out these top platforms for managing social influencers to get started.

Add hashtags to your captions

Captions are just as important, if not more important, than the images and videos you post.

You’ve got to learn how to write Instagram captions that drive engagement.

Hashtags are definitely necessary. There are lots of different approaches to this.

For starters, you can use one that already exists so that other people can see it. For example, you could pick a hashtag that’s promoting a national event.

Another idea is to create your own hashtag. This would be much more brand-specific.

You could use a hashtag with just your brand name as well as the name of your campaign.

If you’re like to run contests on Instagram, you can have a unique hashtag for each one.

Encourage UGC

UGC is short for user-generated content. This piggybacks on my last point about using hashtags to promote contests.

Promotions of this nature encourage users to post photos and videos related to your brand to their personal profiles.

As a result, your brand gets exposed to all of the followers who are friends with that particular user. This type of content acts as a recommendation, which we just discussed as an effective promotional method.

Besides running contests, the best way to encourage user-generated content is to feature user photos on your profile.

Check out this post from the Thule Instagram page:

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As you can see, this post came from one of their followers.

When other people see this, they’ll be encouraged to share it as well as submit their own photos for the chance to be featured on the page.

Try some sponsored posts

The great thing about promoting your brand on Instagram is that it’s completely free.

It’s not going to cost you anything to create a profile and post content. Lots of the strategies we’ve discussed so far in this guide won’t cost you anything either.

But if that’s just not cutting it for you and you want to be more direct with your strategy, you may want to consider paying for ads.

This is a good idea for newer brands struggling to get new followers.

You’ve got lots of options here:

  • photos
  • videos
  • carousel
  • stories

If you want to find more information about setting these up, check out this resource from the Instagram Business website.

The great thing about these ads is you can include links that drive sales. Here’s an example of a photo ad with a “shop now” CTA:

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It’s also easy to set up these ads while making sure you reach your target audience and stay within your marketing budget.

Conclusion

Your brand needs to have an active Instagram presence.

Always try to increase your followers. Make sure your profile is set up in a way that gives a great first impression.

Post content on a daily basis, but don’t post too much promotional content. Use live video streaming and your Instagram story to your advantage as well.

Partner with social influencers to expose your brand to a new audience.

Use captions with hashtags as a promotional tool. Encourage user-generated content.

If you want to take your Instagram marketing strategy to the next level and you’ve got some extra funds, you may want to consider paying for sponsored posts.

All of these strategies will help you elevate your Instagram presence and increase sales as a result.

What type of content is your brand posting on Instagram to generate sales from your followers?


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At Copyblogger, we love to teach! We really have a great time teaching copywriting, content strategy, search engine optimization, social media strategy … The one thing we don’t teach? Selling. Because it’s not what we’re fantastic at. Fortunately, we found someone who is fantastic at it, without being … a creepy weirdo. (There, I said
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How To Use Google Images to Drive E-commerce Sales Before Your Competitors Catch On

What if the biggest source of your SEO traffic wasn’t from the front page of Google?

At least, not the front page exactly.

Imagine that there was a backdoor of sorts that could lead to a healthy amount of organic traffic.

It’s a completely legal, whitehat SEO backdoor too, so there’s no chance you’ll be penalized.

And if you leverage yourself correctly, that organic traffic can naturally turn into a sale for your e-commerce site.

If that situation were to exist, it could change the SEO landscape for quite some time.

It may surprise you then to learn that our imaginary backdoor example already exists.

Because with some of the recent changes in how Google allows image searches, the front page has gotten a little bit bigger.

I want to show you what’s changed, and then give you some quick hacks that can help you drive more e-commerce sales by focusing on optimizing for Google image searches.

The new and improved Google image search

Google’s image search has been a stalwart feature of the search engine since 2001 when searches for Jennifer Lopez’s green Versace dress broke the Internet.

Since then, the service has been improved upon in stages and built into a massive image library.

Best guesses estimate that Google has indexed around one trillion images to date, and that’s probably on the conservative side.

So in February of 2018 when Google and Getty Images announced that they would be partnering up, it turned some heads.

The reason given in the press release was that this change was meant to provide a better experience for both Google users and visual content creators.

And according to a tweet from Google’s Danny Sullivan, this was also part of a broader effort by Google to help connect search users with helpful websites.

google search liaison tweet

That sounds a lot like normal, run-of-the-mill SEO talk on the surface.

And since most of the media coverage of this change centered around the fact that Google had removed the “View Image” option with this update, it was easy to miss the real change here.

To make the waters even muddier, Danny later tweeted that this particular change was part of a settlement with Getty Images.

Thus, it further cemented the idea that this change was just another ordinary Thursday for Google.

google search liaison google image tweet

But when you look a little deeper at what actually changed, this transition has a more significant impact than what you may believe at first glance.

Because while it seems that removing the “View Image” option and replacing it with “Visit” is just meant to annoy desperate college students, it’s actually a shift in the way we search via images.

Or, to put it more plainly, it means you can now try to rank for the front page of Google image search to get organic traffic.

One of the less-heralded statistics from the last few years is that 72% of search engine users search for images before making a purchase.

frequency of visual search

That means that when someone comes to your site via a search engine, there’s a good chance their search started with Google images.

Before these changes, websites weren’t typically in the limelight.

The uproar that surrounded the removal of the View Image option seems to indicate that most users searched for images to use for another purpose.

But now, if someone wants to download or save an image, they have to click through to the website.

That means you have an opportunity to sell to them now, where before they would never see your brand.

So in a way, Google has created a new and improved channel for customer acquisition that flew completely under the radar.

Let me show you an example of how this could work.

Say you search for a pair of binoculars to take hiking this summer.

You search for binoculars and then decide you’d rather find a set that looks more compact.

Here’s the “front page” of your search in Google.

binoculars google image search

None of this is branded, there aren’t any ads, and it’s fairly simple to browse through and find a set of binoculars that meets your needs.

If you click on an image, a window will expand and display a larger version of the image.

You’ll also see an option to Visit, Save, View Saved, or Share.

generate traffic from google image search with the visit button

If a user decides to visit this site, they’ll have generated traffic via a Google image search.

And since they’re in the mood to potentially buy, your best bet is to have these images attached to a product page like this one.

nikon binoculars product page

At this juncture, I want to point out that this is technically the “top ranked” image on Google.

It’s on a site for the brand B&H Photo Video, and very clearly linked to a product page.

So without knowing the actual stats of this site and page, I would say that there’s a good chance that more than a few sales have closed through the exact path I’ve shown you.

But the interesting aspect here is that this page is not on the actual front page of Google.

binoculars not on the front page

It’s not in the sponsored ads, nor is it competing with Amazon or Binoculars.com in the rankings below.

In fact, I scrolled through and didn’t even find this website in the top 10 pages on Google’s search results.

So it’s even more incredible that this image is at the very top of an image search, and it clearly displays an opportunity for more brands to do the same thing.

Especially considering that it wasn’t until my second visit that Google put sponsored ads into my image results:

binoculars ads appear on second image search

With this new visit-oriented searching system, Google has created a backdoor for small brands to sell with organic traffic despite otherwise strong search results.

E-commerce marketing professionals now have a viable window to create a new and improved channel for generating sales.

By focusing on the SEO of the images on your product pages, you can now rank on an image search that can result in more revenue for your business.

So for the rest of this article, I want to share some quick hacks that you can start to implement on your images in order to capitalize on this development.

Hack #1: Optimize file names and alt tags

As Google crawls your site, it relies on your site’s code to tell you if there are any images on your pages that contribute to the overall value of the page.

So when optimizing your images for SEO, the very first place you should start is by ensuring that the products on your site have descriptive file names and alt tags.

Here’s a relatively simple example of a descriptive vs. non-descriptive file name.

corgi puppies file name

If Google were to crawl your site and see a series of numbers followed by .jpg, all it can tell is that there is an image.

But with the keywords of corgi, puppies, adoption, and NYC added, Google can accurately assess the contents of the image and rank accordingly.

This is also part of what ensures that your image will appear in a Google image search to begin with.

From there, the next part of your image that you’ll need to optimize is your alt tag.

Much like your file name, alt tags signal to Google what your image contains.

Each alt text is embedded in the HTML of your website so that when Google crawls your site, it can “see” the image.

Here’s an example from the earlier binoculars page:

nikon binoculars alt tag

Notice that the alt tag, in this case, is the same as the product’s title.

It contains the keyword “binoculars,” and is an accurate description of the true contents of the image.

It’s a fairly straightforward bit of text that once again will make all the difference on a search engine results page.

And thankfully, it’s incredibly easy to set both your alt tags and change your file name if you’ve built your site on WordPress.

When you upload an image, all you have to do is select that image to see this menu:

file names in wordpress

From here, you can change your file name and alt text appropriately.

This will position your images so that when Google crawls your site, it can potentially rank you on its image search.

Without these simple elements, you’ll struggle to rank at all.

But image-based SEO that will help you truly stand out requires investing in some more complex techniques, like leveraging user-submitted images.

Hack #2: Use unique images

You may think that this point goes without saying, but the vast and repetitive use of stock photography online would seem to say otherwise.

Creating and using relevant imagery will ultimately help you draw a Google image search user in and convince them to click through to your site.

For example, if you were to search online for a lawyer in your area only to see something like this:

lawyers google image search

Chances are you wouldn’t click on that image.

So when in doubt, use a relevant and interesting image for every page on your site, and especially for your product pages.

Even if you have to invest in a professional photographer, the effort and money can be worth it.

The last thing you want is for someone to pass up your site because your image isn’t the most relevant to their search.

Hack #3: Leverage user-submitted images

The average Internet user is pretty skeptical, myself included.

That’s why so many brands now turn to social proof as a means to improve audience engagement and drive sales on their e-commerce sites.

But how can social proof help you get to the top of Google’s image search?

The answer lies in utilizing user-generated social proof image content strategically across your site.

Social proof is one of the best ways to increase trust in your brand and improve conversions.

Typically, this type of proof comes in the form of testimonials or case studies that brands leverage in various ways across their site.

But with how image-oriented our current social media lives are, we now see a vast amount of user-generated social proof content in the form of pictures.

boxed water instagram

Sites like Instagram and Snapchat have changed the way we interact with images, and can now further improve the way you optimize your images’ SEO.

The result means that you can start finding user-generated content by merely interacting with and incentivizing your social media audience.

The key to these images is that they have to be sincere and truly user-generated.

You also need to ensure that you integrate your user-generated images on the right page.

And of course, you need to ensure that you’re legally using the images you end up placing on your site.

But once you have all your ducks in a row, a great idea is to implement your user-generated images on your product pages.

vanity planet

As you can see, the bottom image scroll is comprised of user-generated images that used the #VPBeauty when posting on social media.

The company browsed these images for the highest quality options that it felt showed the best side of their brand.

Then, it embedded these images on their product pages to provide immediate social proof when a visitor sees them.

And since these images are on your website and can be optimized accordingly, they can rank on a Google image search and potentially bring more traffic to your site.

Hack #4: Reduce your load time

Fast loading images are one of the cornerstones of SEO.

If a user can come to your site and quickly load an image that contributes to their overall experience, Google has ways of noticing.

Recent studies have shown that images on websites are typically the largest elements that need to be loaded by a user.

In fact, images on average comprise more than half the data of most web pages.

average bytes per page

So when you’re optimizing your product page, there’s a good chance that the image you use is slowing down your site.

And since bounce rates tend to grow rapidly with longer load times, Google sees image size as a significant SEO factor.

That means in order to rank your images on either the front page or an image search, you need to find a way to create a smaller image.

That is where image compression comes in.

Image compression is the practice of taking a large, bulky image file and effectively shrinking it to a fraction of its size.

When there’s less to load, your site loads faster.

Generally speaking, image compression can yield results like this:

clear uncompressed image of man kissing dog

This image is clear, sharp, and pleasant to look at.

If I weren’t telling you it was a compressed image, you probably never would have guessed.

But look at what happens when you take this same image and compress it even more:

blurry compressed image of man kissing dog

The colors go all wrong, the lighting is poor, and it makes the image hard to look at.

This is the darker side of what can happen if you compress too much.

There isn’t too much difference in size between these two photos.

The first is about 350 KB, and the second is about 70 KB.

And when you compare that to a photo that may contain thousands of KB, then you begin to see how much this helps improve your load time.

So compressing images is a balancing act.

Go too far, and you get a bad image.

Don’t go far enough, and you’re undermining your SEO efforts altogether.

But how can you easily optimize your photos to ensure that they load faster and rank higher?

To start with, I recommend testing the speed of your site using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

pagespeed insights 2018

This will let you methodically insert the URLs of your product pages to test how quickly they load.

If you see less than optimal results, PageSpeed Insights will give you a breakdown of which elements will improve your site’s load speed.

If you see the option to Optimize images, you can click the drop-down menu below to see what needs to be fixed.

optimization suggestion images

PageSpeed Insights will tell you the exact file or files that need to be compressed, as well as how big of a reduction it needs.

optimize image through pagespeed

Once you find out which files need to be compressed, I recommend using a site like JPEGMini to help you complete the task with just a few clicks.

Other options are TinyJPG or ImageOptim (Mac only). Choose lossless compression so you don’t lose image quality.

jpegmini compression

As you can see, there’s arguably no noticeable difference in the quality of these images to the naked eye.

But in Google’s case, it would notice a clear difference between the original file and the resulting compression that’s more than three times smaller.

This can drastically increase your load time, and even put you under the bar recommended by PageSpeed Insights.

All you have to do is upload your photo with a few clicks.

jpegmini compressor

Then let their system work its magic.

You’ll have a compressed file that’s indistinguishable from the original that’s much, much smaller.

In one case, a brand had let its site load speed drop to abysmal levels in a way that started tanking its traffic.

crap the bed traffic

It even got to the point where PageSpeed Insights showed a zero score for their optimization.

In a large-scale effort to combat this, it overhauled its image sizes and compressed the size of its web pages as much as possible.

As a result, it saw a return to “normal” traffic levels.

thumbs up traffic

This is a clear signal that image size matters when it comes to your SEO.

If you let your images slow down your site, then you run the risk of turning away your users and decreasing the chance of a sale.

And if your image is too big, it’s very likely that Google will rank another image over it in its image search.

So if you want to drive your e-commerce sales with image search, it’s highly recommended to start implementing crisp, compressed images on your product pages.

This will increase the chances of organic traffic, and could ultimately help you edge out your competition.

Conclusion

Google image search has come a long way since 2001, and it seems the ride isn’t over.

With its new partnership with Getty Images, the way we search and use images on Google seems to have changed in favor of the brand that gets there first.

Sites that don’t even rank on the top few pages of Google can still have a fighting chance if its images are optimized and rank well.

And since the majority of e-commerce shoppers browse images before they buy, this development has clear implications for online sellers.

So to help set your brand apart, you need to optimize your images for SEO before your competitors catch on.

Start by ensuring that your alt tags and file names are optimized so that Google can “read” your images appropriately.

And of course, make sure that the images you use are both relevant to your search and interesting enough to make a user want to click.

Then, start leveraging your social media presence to build a pool of user-generated content.

These images will provide social proof and allow you to optimize even more images for SEO.

And finally, take steps to ensure that large image files aren’t negatively impacting your site’s load time.

If you approach your images correctly, you will have further optimized your site for Google’s image search and put your SEO in a better position altogether.

Has your brand seen traffic from Google image search? What worked for you?

The post How To Use Google Images to Drive E-commerce Sales Before Your Competitors Catch On appeared first on Neil Patel.


Blog – Neil Patel

Are You Losing Sales Because Your Purchase Page Sucks?

mo-losing-sales

Of all the pages on your site, there is only one that actually makes you money: your purchase page.

But too often this page is ignored; most people just use the default shopping cart that comes with their dCommerce system.

If you are serious about selling digital goods online, then you will want to listen to this episode. We deep dive into the specific elements you must have on your purchase page to maximize sales conversions. And we go one step further and discuss the “other” page that is as important as your purchase page.

In this 30-minute episode, Jessica Frick and I explore the key elements required for a successful purchase page, including:

  • The “other” page in the purchase process that people often overlook
  • What you should, and should not, have on your purchase page
  • The one change we did to our purchase process that increased sales by 30 percent
  • Why you are the worst person to review your purchase page

Listen to this Episode Now

The post Are You Losing Sales Because Your Purchase Page Sucks? appeared first on Copyblogger.


Copyblogger

10 Facebook Marketing Tips To Increase Holiday Sales

Ho, ho, ho! The holidays are right around the corner, but it’s not too late to maximize the last push of 2016.

Regardless of your holiday marketing plan, these tips can help you see more of a return on your efforts. Just a few tweaks can make a big difference!

In this article, you’ll discover Facebook tips to widen your visibility and reach during the holiday season. Get ready to spread some Facebook cheer!

Plan Your Holiday Marketing

Before you utilize the power of Facebook, let’s take a few minutes to outline a plan for your promos and content. Ideally, you should work on your holiday marketing plan at least a few months in advance, but as the old saying goes, better late than never!

1. Create a Content Calendar

Looking to increase your sales? Make sure you know the key dates. The big “shopping holidays” following Thanksgiving (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday) have already past, but plenty of shoppers are looking for great deals and unique gifts. Dates that are important for you to know are your last order date for delivery by Christmas, as well Chanukah, Christmas and New Years.

Create a word document or spreadsheet, or use a project management tool to keep track of what holidays you want to cover on social media, and what deals you might want to feature, too!

Remember, you can play off of all of the holidays, not just the traditional ones. Consider getting a copy of Chase’s Calendar of Events each year or at least look at the special month holiday celebrations.

Once you decide which holidays your company will celebrate and highlight with your content, work backward to ensure timely, relevant content is created, tested, and scheduled.

2. Emphasize Strong Visual Elements in Your Content

When planning your holiday posts, keep in mind that Facebook is a visual platform. Use videos, animated GIFs, and images to grab attention.

For example, My Baking Addiction used this image of crumbly mini cherry cheesecakes to stand out in the news feed. It’s a bright visual with an interesting perspective that received more than 4,000 reactions and over 600 shares. In fact, nearly all of their posts are images and videos that make your mouth water.

My Baking Addiction used a unique visual to make their holiday post stand out.

My Baking Addiction used a unique visual to make their holiday post stand out.

As it gets closer to the end of the year, users’ news feeds will be bombarded with a lot of holiday content. Facebook recommends using motion to grab attention during the holidays.Use visuals to stand out, catch eyes, and stop your readers’ thumbs.

3. Share Your Brand’s Story

Use the end of the year as a time for your fans to get to know your business and the people behind it.

For instance, the Arlington Club, a restaurant in New York City, highlighted the backstory of Executive Chef Frank Cervantes. This image post featured a photo of the chef and a quote explaining what started him on this career path.

Arlington Club uses the end of the year to introduce the people behind the company.

Arlington Club uses the end of the year to introduce the people behind the company.

Invite people into your business’s world. Take the opportunity to share a milestone with your audience, do a series of posts showcasing your employees, or both.

Australian fashion retailer Country Road shared its brand story in a visually rich Facebook ad campaign to promote its Holiday 2015 campaign. The campaign proved to be almost five times more effective at driving in-store sales than online sales. Country Road wanted to position itself as the store for holiday gifting to maximize Christmastime sales across its women’s, men’s, children’s, and home ranges.

Country Road tells its brand story as part of its Holiday 2015 campaign.

Country Road tells its brand story as part of its Holiday 2015 campaign.

It’s all about storytelling, and doing it in a personal way. This is the heart of what you do!

4. Connect Emotionally Through Content

There’s a reason Facebook added reactions (love, laugh, wow, cry, and angry) to the Like button. People want to express their emotions when a story evokes different feelings. Your business content has to compete with posts from your audience’s friends and family.

Engage your audience by creating highly relatable, emotional, human-interest content that will tug at people’s heartstrings, draw them in, evoke sentiment, or make them laugh. You want your audience to see a post and think, “Hey, that’s me, too!”

Iberia Airlines created an emotional video ad series featuring Santa Claus handing out presents to families during a flight. The company wanted to develop an internationally engaged community, on the move, reuniting with friends and families scattered across the globe to celebrate with loved ones. The video campaign garnered 4 million views and a reach of 46 million.

People check Facebook to see what’s happening in their friends’ lives. So when you create posts or ads, make sure you’re contributing positively to their day and their Facebook experience.

ms-iberia

This video campaign by Iberia Airlines connects through the emotion of the holidays.

5. Craft Content for Maximum Shares

The goal of any post is to get a lot of engagement since engagement (especially shares) leads to even more comments, likes, and shares. Be intentional with the content you create.

Ideally, I recommend you craft content that’s worthy of amplifying with paid reach. In other words, whether you choose to put budget into a post or not, each piece of content you publish should pass your “boost-worthy” test. Before publishing, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this post potentially “thumb-stopping” for my audience?
  • Does it capture their attention sufficiently to want to stop, read/watch, engage, and/or share the post?
  • Is this post in context within the news feed? In other words, while Facebook users’ friends are sharing warm personal stories and fun videos, does this post fit in, yet still stand out?
  • Does it offer educational and/or entertaining content?
  • Does it meet the needs of your audience and their audience?
Fans engaged well with this top candy recipes post by Taste of Home.

Fans engaged well with this top candy recipes post by Taste of Home.

Taste of Home knows their audience. Their Top Christmas Candy Recipes post last year exceeded 9,500 shares. Reactions were close to 10,000. Mixing an entertaining element with an emotional connection is a delicious recipe for getting more shares. This will bring even more attention to your business.

Leverage Facebook Tools and Features to Deliver Your Message

Once you have your key dates and content in mind, use Facebook tools to amplify your message and reach more people.

6. Host Virtual Events via Facebook Live

With the growing popularity of Facebook’s Live video broadcast feature, now you can easily host virtual events such as a virtual office party or customer appreciation party via Facebook Live. Create a Facebook event on your business page and invite your friends and fans. Facebook recently started rolling out a new feature that allows you to pre-announce your Live video event and garner an audience ahead of time.

During the event, you can do random giveaways, play games and offer prizes, or both. Other options include a live Q&A, flash sales available only while you’re live, and a treat (discount) for those watching after the fact.

Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart hosted a fun live Holiday Workshop with decorating ideas from The Home Depot using Facebook Live video on her fan page.

Of course, you don’t have to get as fancy as Martha. A simple and sincere Holiday greeting, like Michele Ruiz did here via Facebook Live, can draw in your fans.

If you plan to host an in-person holiday party, why not invite fans into your world by broadcasting via Facebook Live video? It will give people a taste of off-the-clock fun at your business.

Facebook is investing heavily in garnering more awareness and users for its Live video feature, including launching an international ad campaign on television, buses, and billboards. Facebook is also paying celebrities and media outlets to use Live video. So now is the perfect time for you to jump into the world of Live video on Facebook.

7. Create Facebook Offers

Facebook enables you to create an online or in-store offer to share on your business page.

Click Offer in your status bar. Next, choose Online or In Store, and then select an option from the Offer Type list, which can be Percent Off; Amount Off; Buy One, Get One; or Free Stuff.

The settings available when creating a Facebook offer.

The settings available when creating a Facebook offer.

For an online offer, include the URL. Then enter the details of your deal. Add a title (up to 50 characters), description (up to 500 characters), and up to five photos. You’ll see a preview for desktop or mobile view as you add information.

Facebook offers are an easy way to share special bundles, discounts, and incentives with your audience all year long. However, it’s even more relevant during the holidays.

8. Cater to Mobile Audiences With Facebook Ads and Posts

Most people are on mobile so be sure your ads, posts, and any related landing pages are optimized for it.

This fun image post from Target with different Thanksgiving pie options looks great in both the mobile and desktop feeds. It’s a cute post that brings humor to most people’s favorite Turkey Day dessert.

ms-target-thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving post by Target shows well on both desktop and mobile feeds.

Mobile ads are important for targeting people shopping on the go. However, they’re also valuable for directing people to your brick-and-mortar business.Use the Local Awareness feature to target audiences when they’re near your business. You can even give them directions to your location right on their phones.

Facebook ad units that tend to perform well on mobile include video, slideshow, carousel, and canvas. Make sure the web page your audience lands on after clicking your ad is fast-loading and quick and easy to understand.

Remember, mobile-friendly does not apply only to Facebook ads. Make sure all of your content is designed for people browsing Facebook on their mobile devices.

9. Use Engagement Custom Audiences

A relatively new type of audience that you can reach with Facebook ads is called engagement custom audiences. These are people who have already shown an interest in you by watching your videos, interacting with one of your other ads, or sharing your website links on Facebook. You can draw engagement custom audiences in further by placing additional paid content in their feeds.

Set a custom Facebook audience based on engagement.

Set a custom Facebook audience based on engagement.

Here are the targeting options currently available for creating engagement custom audiences that you can use for your Facebook holiday ads:

Video Views: Create variations of audiences comprised of people who have already viewed one of your videos, whether the video was organic or promoted. Views are at least: 3 seconds, 10 seconds, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 95%. The longer your video, the less likely people will have watched to the end, so it’s better to select 25%, for example.

Dennis Yu gets even more advanced and granular by targeting people who have watched 3 seconds but not at least 10 seconds; or watched video A and B but not C. You can target any type of ad to these audiences.

Lead Ads: Someone may have looked at your lead ad but didn’t complete the form (enter their email address). Target people who’ve interacted with your lead ad since they’re already familiar with you and have cared enough to click once.

Narrow your custom Facebook audience by percentage of video watched.

Narrow your custom Facebook audience by percentage of video watched.

Canvas Ads: Similar to lead ads, target people who have interacted with your canvas ad but haven’t taken any action yet.

Link Sharing: Link targeting is brand new and available to only a limited number of advertisers so far. You’ll be able to create an audience based on people who shared your content on Facebook. If someone has gone to the trouble of sharing your content, they’re likely interested in learning more about what you have to offer.

Anyone who has interacted with your Facebook content is likely already familiar with you. Target them further through custom audiences, especially the new engagement variables.

10. Retarget Your Website Visitors

It can take many touches for a prospective customer to get familiar enough with you to take the next step. People don’t always make a purchase decision on the first visit, so remind them who you are through retargeting.

Your ad performance and conversion will be much more effective when you use the Facebook pixel and retarget potential customers who already visited your website. In fact, Facebook is now beginning to give priority to ads that are connected to a properly installed Facebook pixel, even including boosted posts.

Select View Pixel Code from the Actions menu to view your Facebook Pixel code.

Select View Pixel Code from the Actions menu to view your Facebook Pixel code.

First, ensure you have the Facebook pixel installed on your website. Go to the Pixels section in Ads Manager and select View Pixel Code from the Actions menu. Copy and paste the code to your website.

Also, use the Facebook Pixel Helper browser extension to double-check that the pixel is correctly installed and firing properly. The icon on your browser should light up.

Now you can go into your Ads Manager and create a variety of website custom audiences based on time on site. The choices are most active users: top 5%, top 10%, and top 25%.

Create a custom Facebook audience based on website visit data.

Create a custom Facebook audience based on website visit data.

Someone who spends 2 minutes on your site is a hotter prospect than someone who visited for just 10 seconds. This is a wonderful new feature that Facebook added earlier this year.

In Conclusion

The period leading up to the holidays is the largest consumer spending time of the year, so keep that in mind next year as you plan your marketing. People buy gifts for others and themselves. Since they don’t always know what they’re looking for, help them.

Use the holidays as an opportunity to shine a light on your business. When you understand and integrate what Facebook offers in terms of ad tools into your marketing campaign, it can make the difference in having a successful holiday season.

This article originally appeared on Social Media Examiner

The post 10 Facebook Marketing Tips To Increase Holiday Sales appeared first on MariSmith.com.


Mari Smith – Social Media Marketing Success

Are Your Leads Really Prospects for Sales?

Stat of the Month

Content marketing is not really the new kid on the block anymore. It’s something nearly all marketers claim to practice. Even though there are still some that are creating content for content’s sake, the marketers who are successful are the ones who approach it with a strategy.

This is no different than any other kind of marketing. You need to know what you are trying to achieve, how you are going to accomplish that, and how you are going to measure a successful outcome. That’s a pretty succinct way to thing about marketing strategy. You can certainly add more detail, but at the highest level, it works.

So what do all those strategic content marketers want to accomplish? In a recent survey by Ascend2, 58 percent of content marketers indicated that they want to increase lead generation.

Are Your Leads Really Prospects for Sales?

Sounds reasonable. Marketers, especially those of the B2B variety, have always focused on generating leads for their sales counterparts. There’s no reason to think that would change with content marketing—and I would argue that it has gotten easier.

How Content Marketing Transformed Lead Generation

Grab your time machine, and let’s take a trip back to Ye Olde Marketing Shoppe. Think of the days before most marketing had gone digital. Anyone remember reader reply cards? This was lead generation in a trade magazine, and it let buyers express their interest in products and services. It was top-of-funnel activity driven by advertising.

We’ve all collected leads at trade shows, and we still do. But this is focused on buyers who have a specific need in mind. They are “in market,” as they say, for what you are selling. This makes it easy to connect with them, but this is small pool of prospects.

Welcome, content marketing. Marketers now have the ability to talk to prospects before they are in market for a solution. Whether you focus on blog posts, ebooks, white papers, or videos as your primary means of content, if you are providing value and helping prospects solve their business problems, you can start building a relationship with them.

Content makes the connection, and content builds the relationship. (highlight to tweet) As Ascend2’s survey results indicate, marketers are thinking about this in the right way by wanting to increase lead generation. They can now get in front of prospects that they could not market to before, with a variety of content distribution methods. It may be a combination of search, social, or paid versions of both that can surface your content in front of the right prospects. Even if they are not ready to buy today, they likely will be someday. This is a very different audience than the digital tire-kickers who arrive at your website.

But lead generation is more than just getting prospects to fill out a form. You may call them leads, but are they really? They might just be someone who is interested in the content but is not a fit for your products or services. A true lead is someone who can be passed to sales as a likely buyer. Lead scoring is one way to qualify these form-fillers, but it starts with creating the right content.

Nurture Your Leads With Content

Different firms use different terms to describe contacts that are added to their marketing database, and it can be based on how much information has been gathered about them. Someone can go from a suspect to a prospect to a lead as they interact more with a company’s content and express more intent about their preferences. This should not be accidental, but deliberate. It’s called lead nurturing.

There are lots of ways to think about how content moves a prospect through the buying process, but consider having a narrative overlay. What story are you trying to tell the prospects as they move closer to becoming a real lead for sales? The more you understand your prospect, the better this narrative fits.

Instead of viewing this as another marketing cliché, put yourself in the buyer’s place. You want to know about a company you will do business with. You want them to know what they are talking about and have a good reputation in the industry. You don’t want them to be pushy. You want to learn from them. You don’t mind keeping in touch, but you want to control the relationship and reach out when you are ready to consider buying.

If you can create content that does that, then you are well on your way to real lead generation, not just form completion.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.

Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting

What High Performing Sales and Marketing Professionals Do Differently (And What You Can Learn From Them)

Salesforce.com recently released their 2016 State of Marketing report, filled with valuable insights on what separates the top marketers and sales teams from the mediocre and the just plain bad. High performers were noted as “’extremely satisfied’ with the current outcomes realized as a direct result of their company’s marketing investment.”

Sounds like something we all want, right? So let’s take a look at what revealing tidbits the report uncovered.

Who Are the Top Performers?

In the report, Salesforce surveyed B2B, B2C and B2B2C teams from around the world. Only 18% of those surveyed considered themselves “High Performers”, the vast majority (68%) falling into the “Moderate Performers” pile who were either very satisfied or moderately satisfied with their outcomes – meaning more work needs to be done, but they’re on the right track.

If we’re being honest, it’s likely that most of us fall within this range too.

So with that being said, here are the key takeaways that separated the great from the good:

The Best Marketing Teams are Cohesive, Adaptive and Strategic

That means they don’t just have a plan, but have mapped out and are actively monitoring their customer experience journey – a journey that hits every touchpoint of interaction a customer has with their business, from retail to mobile to social and everything in between.

And once they have it all mapped out, they watch it; carefully seizing on opportunities and adapting as technology, trends and other indicators shift.

customer-journey
Notice the correlation between adopting a customer journey strategy and actively mapping it, among the high performers

And if you think the “customer journey” is some woo-woo sales babble that marketing leaders use to puff up their importance, you’d be sadly mistaken. Just look at the remarkable effects such a strategy has had across the board:

customer-journey-satisfaction
Marketing leaders report astounding results in every impactful sales metric when using a customer journey strategy

Top marketing teams also embrace technology – some of which are self-described as being heavily invested in it. They aren’t relegated to a sort of “sales silo” where their work is independent of other departments, but rather they leverage the technology across multiple departments including IT, customer service and even executives.

This kind of marketing cohesion isn’t just a reflection of good teamwork, but it creates a single customer profile that’s accurate across every stage of the sales cycle. And what’s more, it branches out to feed into and sustain other areas of vital importance too, including better collaboration and better omni-channel experiences as well:

omni-channel
With a highly adaptive, collaborative team, omni-channel efforts are embraced, not dreaded

And while we’re on the subject of technology and teamwork, it’s important to note that:

The Best Marketing Teams Aren’t Afraid to Leverage All the Tools at Their Disposal to Get Results

Now, that doesn’t mean adopting new technology for the sake of a trend or just because it’s new. But it does mean that high performing companies are willing to make the necessary investments to stay ahead of the customer experience curve:

investments

It also means taking full advantage of existing tools like CRM software and up-and-coming advancements such as predictive intelligence and personalization options.

crm-tools

What’s more, no option is off the table. These flexible, forward-looking companies are keenly interested in things most people would look at as pure gadgets or fads, such as the Internet of Things, wearables, proximity marketing/beacon technology and so forth.

Remember, the internet was once viewed as a fad as well.

Perhaps most importantly, the companies using these tools and technologies aren’t doing so with reckless abandon. They have the full faith, confidence and approval of their respective executives. When teams feel truly supported (both on an executive level and financially), the effective growth and ROI is far-reaching:

executive-commitment

And in embracing new tools and technology, it should go without saying that:

The Best Marketing Teams Leap at Opportunities on New and Growing Advertising Platforms

Remember when social media was where you went to chat with friends or broadcast about your lunch on Twitter? It certainly wasn’t conducive to shopping. Times change, and today’s social and mobile networks are serious revenue drivers for top performing marketing teams.

mobile-marketing
Mobile marketing initiatives hit triple digit growth from 2015-2016

Marketers who embrace these changes and shifts aren’t content to rest on their laurels – especially when it comes to previously challenging aspects like wringing ROI out of mobile marketing – a goal that has jumped nearly 150% from one year to the next.

And it’s not just a single mobile strategy or tactic that’s gaining in popularity. It’s all of them.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Top marketers are squeezing every drop of value out of everything from exclusivity and loyalty promotions to proximity marketing to partner onboarding. They’re not afraid to leverage every possible cutting-edge mobile strategy in an attempt to gain more customer mind-share.

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Top marketers take advantage of a variety of mobile sales techniques

Even email, that old standby that the social and mobile generation would love to forget about, is still chugging along and still producing a significant return on investment:

email-roi
Email marketing still produces considerable ROI

Starting Your Own Marketing Improvement Journey

So what’s the bottom line here? In order to position your own team at the top of the peak in marketing effectiveness, do you need to pounce on every shiny marketing object that comes your way and rally the troops at every sign of sales ineffectiveness?

Not at all – and doing so would likely be disastrous.

What every great marketing team does, and what no report can truly capture, is understanding their customer. Not just in a numbers way, but in an experiential way. They don’t just acknowledge the pain points – they actively work to fix them, using all the tools, techniques and people at their disposal. Their team is a highly-oiled marketing machine that’s powered by flexibility and seizing on each new marketing shift with glee – not apprehension.

At their core, they’re not afraid to make mistakes, because they understand that growth only happens when you know what doesn’t work, and can focus on what does.

Now it’s your turn. Does your team use these methods in developing their own campaigns? Or have you seen areas that could be improved upon? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below.

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today! Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!


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3 Ways Automated Lead Nurturing Can Supercharge The Sales Cycle

So you’ve launched an inbound campaign and started to attract good leads. That’s great, but it’s just the start. Now you have to keep those leads happy, while gently leading them through the buyer’s journey to sales-ready qualification. If your sales cycle is a long one that’s not always easy.

Sending leads inappropriate content and interrupting them with unsolicited sales calls is increasingly ineffective. Instead, to increase close rates, avoid wasted sales time and reduce the sales cycle, leads should be nurtured with appropriate content to ensure they understand the value of your solution before sales teams contact them.

Many marketers may think they already run effective lead nurture campaigns. But using automated lead nurture as part of an inbound campaign ensures all leads get quick responses and are automatically sent the right content for them. No lead is forgotten and no content wasted.

Challenges of Long Sales Cycles

According to Gleanster Research, 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy. They might be open to education, and delighted that you can identify their pain points. But actually signing up for your solution? They’re not there yet, and may not be for a while, depending on the length of your sales cycle.

That means sectors with long sales cycles, such as the SaaS and software industries, which have an average cycle of 3-18 months (and there’s some suggestion that B2B sales cycles are getting longer across the board), face huge challenges in keeping leads interested and moving them smoothly through the sales funnel.

lead-to-customer-funnel

They might lack appropriate content to last the length of the sales cycle, or simply fail to notice leads wandering off the path. Equally, they might bore leads with repeat content, or lose them in bottlenecks.

The upshot can be lost leads and a lot of wasted effort by both marketers and sales teams. The wrong content discourages leads from moving along the sales path. Sales teams engage with leads at inopportune moments, wasting everybody’s time.

Automated lead nurturing tackles these challenges.

What is Automated Lead Nurturing?

We know that lead nurturing works. A DemandGen report finds that nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.

But traditionally, nurture is labor intensive. The average buyer’s journey is complex, and the content that helps move them through the sales funnel from awareness (of a problem), to consideration (of solutions), to decision (of what solution to buy) needs to be expertly honed and perfectly timed.

Random one-off emails to your database won’t cut it in a competitive world, especially during a long sales cycle. Talking up the detailed benefits of your solution to someone who is only vaguely aware of a problem is pointless at best. By the same token, emailing simplified educational material to a highly educated lead desperately seeking a solution is potentially counterproductive.

Automating lead nurturing, on the other hand, allows for the systematic tracking of lead engagements with your content and site, and accurate pinpointing of that lead’s stage in the sales cycle. That means you can drip feed appropriate content at the right time – leads are never forgotten and opportunities never missed.

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Forrester Research finds that companies who excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. Automated lead nurturing, done properly, is the gold standard in its field.

The 3 Pillars of Automated Lead Nurturing

Many marketers already automate some of the nurturing process, but it is the combination of three key points that make automated lead nurturing especially powerful.

  • Nurturing. You likely do this already and send your leads content, from blog posts to infographics to case studies. But according to Pardot’s State of Demand Generation study, 77% of buyers want different content at each stage of their research. Targeting your content formats and focusing on the lead’s buyer’s journey stage is vital, and creating automated email workflows makes the process easier.
  • Segmentation. When leads interact with your content, tracking their responses in detail allows for segmentation. Leads are divided into appropriate contact lists, likely by niche or pain point. Without an automated workflow, the next round of emails would be adjusted manually. But with an automated process, emails can be drip-fed to designated contact lists, delivering relevant information at the right time.
  • Grading. Marketing automation lets you pinpoint exactly where a lead is in the sales cycle, so your contact lists – and the content sent to them – is constantly refined and updated. Contact lists can be divided and subdivided again, targeting content with pinpoint accuracy. Grading leads based on their interactions with all marketing efforts allows you to move them smoothly through the sales funnel. When they reach a designated threshold (based on a points total) suggesting sales-ready status then – and only then – are they passed to sales.

3 Ways Automated Lead Nurturing Supercharges Your Sales Cycle

At its simplest, automating the sales process means being able to track and use a lot more data than would otherwise be possible and use that information to more accurately segment and target leads, speeding their path through the sales funnel.

More specifically:

  • Your sales team doesn’t waste time educating leads about your product and service. A fine-tuned nurturing machine means leads are informed already, and won’t have been passed to sales if they haven’t been nurtured through to the decision stage.
  • At the outset, automated lead nurturing takes time to set up. You need to create relevant content to support your segmented workflows, set contact frequencies and make sure you have a lead grading system to move leads from one stage in the process to another. But once your campaign is established, it will continue to work for you, and give your marketing and sales teams time for other tasks.
  • Automation means bottlenecks are quickly identified and easily rectified. Automatic reporting can show where in the funnel leads are getting stuck, and it allows you to develop your content accordingly. In a nutshell, content is continually honed to address sales barriers and smooth the path to purchase.

If you haven’t automated your lead nurturing process there’s every chance your sales team is wasting time on leads that aren’t sales ready, while irritating potential customers with mistimed and irrelevant contact.

Automated nurturing gently leads your targets through the sales funnel, breaking down barriers to sales with timely, appropriate content. The result? Your sales team spends far more time on sales-ready leads, supercharging your sales cycle.

About the Author: Alex is Director of Strategic Internet Consulting, a London-based inbound marketing agency with a raft of major public and private sector clients. Alex helps businesses large and small generate qualified leads via inbound marketing and sales, social media and open source web development. He tweets at @StrategicIntC.


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