You won’t last a day trying to manage your digital marketing efforts — organic or paid — without the help of the right set of tools to build the all-important sales funnels.
Marketers like to call any bunch of tools used as a marketing stack (and you can call it whatever you want). To succeed with your digital marketing efforts, you essentially need funnels (of all kinds), and you’d need the right set of funnel building tools too.
The funnel is simple and usually looks like this (and there’s no need to complicate this one, no matter what reasons you manage to bring up).
You could choose to go the dumb route for each step of that funnel or you can choose to be smart.
Every step of that funnel will need precision, attention to detail, hard work, and continuous optimization — you are never going to land on the perfect funnel and you are never going to get it right the first time around.
To make your life easier, hire professional agencies (not the dumbass ones that just put up ads or write one blog post for you per month).
Either that or you do it yourself with the help of some really smart tools purpose-built to make your sales funnels or lead funnels work.
Even professional agencies use these tools when they set about working with you. I know because I use some of them too.
Here are some of those awesome digital marketing tools you’d need for your digital marketing efforts:
MailChimp, Campaign Monitor or Drip:
You can ignore email marketing all want but you won’t get anywhere. Social media won’t beat it. Your paid advertising won’t beat it. Email marketing is the real money-maker. Period.
The first — and the most important – part of your funnel is your email service provider that allows you to send broadcasts, RSS-to-email campaigns, regular campaigns, and automation sequences.
If you have a simple business, an e-commerce store, or a brand that relies on pretty looking email templates (not everyone needs these, like I don’t), there’s no better way to start building your list and grow your subscriber base than by using MailChimp.
Nothing comes close to MailChimp for the sheer ease of use, the price (free for 2000 subscribers), and the popularity (meaning which almost everything else you might use works with MailChimp).
Running an eCommerce store? Need to work with lots of visuals? Do you need great customer support? Then look no further than Campaign Monitor (also comes with visual workflows and marketing automation).
If you have anything slightly more complicated that won’t fit into singular lists, you’ll need Drip.
Drip uses tags and advanced workflows to make this marketing automation work, so it’s a worthy option.
I make about 6-7 different offers depending on which page of my website you are on or which blog post you read. I have to use a combination of Sumo and Drip to make that work. Also, it’s hard for me to use lists (like MailChimp) and it’s easier to manage tags (like we do in Drip).
Another worthy mention should go to Convertkit. They are incredibly good and there’s not much difference between Convertkit and Drip (except maybe a slight difference in pricing).
Emails are critical, and I suggest you stop reading and get your email marketing in order. But it’d be nice if you had more smart tools working in different ways to get you the results you seek.
Growthfunnel goes a little beyond what you normally see on websites today. Instead of just relying on pop-ups and letting visitors just take one single action (and get done with it), GrowthFunnel lets you do more.
“With Drift on your website, any conversation can be a conversion. Instead of traditional marketing and sales platforms that rely on forms and follow-ups, Drift connects your business with the best leads in real-time, like a virtual assistant for your website.”
Start using drift if you don’t just want to say “Hi” and then “not appear”, maybe Drift can help?
Convertflow works a wee bit different compared to others on this list.
Using smart-looking conversational pop-ups, you could have people take action, respond to your questions, and make visitors “flow-through” well-defined sequences.
Here’s an example:
The reason why this works beautifully is that there’s much less resistance to clicking on one of those blue buttons. If I clicked on “growing my agency”, I’d go to a page on Convertflow website that specifically addresses my concerns (as an agency).
Convertflow also helps with “On-site retargeting” by personalizing content and offers based on details of returning visitors, subscribers, or customers.
You’ve heard about social proof and you already know that we humans tend to trust, believe, and go with what 100,000 others think, do, or say. Normally, you have limited options such as testimonials and slapping 16 logos on your landing page or website to let the world know just how popular your product or service is.
Proof gives you a smart, non-intrusive, and an easy way to improve your conversions and results with a tiny little pop up that slides up from below your website to let your visitors know how many people are viewing the page you are viewing, little details who just happened to purchase a paid account or signed up for a free trial.
Here’s how it looks like:
Which of these conversion-centric tools to help build muscle for your funnels do you use and why?
I am sure you are done reading all that you had to read on how to grow your business by now. All that reading isn’t going to help if you don’t do anything about it.
It’s time to wear your socks, grab your gear, and take some kickass action.
I am going to do it and I believe you’ll want to do it too. For the last 6 months or so, there have been thousands of thoughts in my head about what exactly I need to do to make my business work. If you are anything like me, I am sure you’d be thinking on those lines too.
Here’s what I planned to grow my business and I am sure these will do you good.
I am guilty of not blogging regularly. For all the marketing and personal branding; for all the productivity tips and getting better at the trade; I just didn’t have enough mojo to pull myself to blog for fetchprofits.com.
That’s changing as I write this. I decided to write for myself while writing for clients. I can’t be talking about how important blogs are and consult clients while my blog doesn’t have much for me to write home about.
The more you blog, the better the better your chances are of generating leads. In the last 3-4 months that I’ve been blogging regularly here, I already got 3 new clients with a total order value of $2800 per month.
What about traffic you ask?
Just by blogging regularly (3 times per week), I already see a 505% increase since last year.
“Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts”
Companies that blog frequently also open up more opportunities in terms of leads.
“Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.”
I am making this one single change that’ll stick. How about you?
Create landing pages. For every campaign
My head’s always conjuring up landing pages for every single offer I think of — for my business and for each of my clients. I’ve actually begun to visualize how landing pages “should” look like for every blog post, tweet, updates on other social media networks, and even paid ads.
So, if an ad says, “Get clients. Pitch effectively”, I am already beginning to wonder how the landing page should look like. Well, that’s me.
Test your design elements, landing pages, blog posts, home page, Calls to action, offers, copy, and even placement of social media buttons.
Take lessons. Enhance your skills
We all need dynamic feeding of skills into us. If nothing is constant, then we need to change what we know and what we can do. I am not just content with writing posts and then writing some more posts for clients.
I want to do a lot more. So, I made the deep dive. I am currently crawling through the entire suite of Adobe Products to learn design. I hacked my way to learn coding, and I am also adding many other services to my portfolio.
Note: all my learning is work in progress. I don’t know when I’d get proficient at these things but I will.
What’s new thing you’d like to learn?
Here’s another thing I was wrong with: I live with the smug satisfaction (perceived) that I am doing well enough. When I look around (another guilt), I know that there’s a long way to go for me. I could do better.
I can bring in the rain. I can tear houses down. I can go and whistle on the streets. All I need to do is to push myself to do more. Break my own records, every day.
So, don’t just blog, get active on social, send out emails with cold outreach, and launch campaigns. Try other things you never did. Like Cold email outreach, get on the phone call with an old customer, speak events, attend conferences, or whatever you haven’t done yet.
That applies to writing, marketing, productivity, management, and lots of other things.
Inbound Marketing is the key
Look at any business that rocks it up and you’ll see a pattern. HubSpot never stops producing more relevant content. Unbounce, Kissmetrics, Moz, and many others just don’t stop with content creation, ever.
No matter how you look at it, producing content relentlessly is much cheaper and more effective than spending on any other kind of marketing you’d want to.
According to data from WebDAM Solutions, Inbound marketing delivers a whopping 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing can.
It’s not about “this or that”; it’s “everything that works”
For modern day marketing, every choice you make is measurable. There is a broad spectrum of channels available for digital marketing, but you cannot choose one against the other. It doesn’t make sense “not” to spend all your time on Twitter when your business brings up more than 1745 mentions on Twitter per day, can you?
Really then, it’s not about choosing one platform over the other. It’s not even sticking to your favourites — no one (especially your customers) won’t care if you like Twitter more than Facebook.
Marketing 101: you go where your customers are
Instead of wasting time with choices, strategically pick your platforms depending on what works for you. If you’ve noticed plenty of traffic coming from Facebook but most conversations and engagement happen on Twitter, you’ll be on both of those platforms. If you were in B2B, you’d be on LinkedIn even if the engagement weren’t anything like it is elsewhere.
Similarly, a few content types might work better for you than others. A few marketing channels seem to be giving you more sales and marketing mojo.
Your work is to find out what works and hang on to it.
Keep those old customers, no matter what
It’s easier to keep old customers than to gain new ones. In fact, according to an infographic from Flowtown – thanks to the folks at Spoken.com for sharing it – it’s at least 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a customer than it is to retain an existing one.
Just by boosting customer retention rate as much as 5%, increased profits translate to anywhere from 5 – 95%. Further, existing customers are more likely to buy from you while being less sensitive to price increases.
So keep those old customers engaged using Email Marketing (make sure you have their permission first). Connect with them on social media. Support them (even if they aren’t doing business with you anymore).
Do what you have to. That reminds me: what exactly are you going to do for marketing your business?
The question is: what you are going to do differently? Tell me all about it.
Yes. We sometimes tend to go with the norm so much that we ruin ourselves.
But wait, before that…
There’s an old Chinese proverb that goes like this:
“Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.”
At the time of The proverb was written, the Chinese didn’t foresee the incumbent situation that the digital medium would bring in.
Today, entering the door isn’t enough.
You better have a skin of a rhino, the nimbleness of a panther, the ferocity of a tiger, the pride of a lion, and the weight of an elephant to get anything done.
Plus, you need all the other skills you need right?
This is a world sitting in the middle of an array of computers, networks, routers, switches, and fiber optics that just threw everything you knew out of the window.
Nothing you knew about business makes sense anymore, does it?
You are creative, enthusiastic, skilled, knowledgeable, and hardworking. Yet, it always seems to get harder when you show up as a freelancer who wants to do business.
Or when you show up as a course instructor and try to sell your online or offline courses.
Or when you have a small business but no one seems to be buying anything.
Let’s not even get anywhere near the mind of a regular traditional retailer who’s wondering why everyone seems to be buying on eBay and Amazon (and not his store).
Service providers are struggling to survive by deep discounting
Retailers are still waiting and wondering
Small business owners are worried and continuing to invest in all the wrong things that don’t matter.
If you can relate to any of the above, you’d need to start thinking on a strategic level about how to position yourself and even how you start communicating with your clients.
Take a step back from how you do business right now. Here are counter-intuitive ways to help run your business better:
Stay Oversubscribed (even if you aren’t)
Did you stand in line, braving out the cold, hungry, and deprived of sleep in front of an Apple store to buy iWhatever? Have you ever been to a Restaurant only to end up waiting in a queue? Are you guilty of pining for tickets of a new, much-anticipated blockbuster movie?
Daniel Priestley — entrepreneur and author of the popular book Oversubscribed: How to Get People Lining Up to Do Business With You — has been extremely successful with his recipe to ensure that scores of customers are tuned in, primed up, and ready to purchase at a premium.
— Cut out customers on purpose.
— Limit your availability.
— Put up that “Closed” board sooner than you need to.
— Accept customers in limited numbers, even if you can handle more.
You see this happening everywhere.
Here’s Carrie’s contact form:
The home page at Digital Marketing Institute by Rainmaker Digital:
See what they do? They might have their reasons but I can bet it’s working for them really well.
They purposely limit their user intake. They put up walls around their content (not all of them) but the folks at Copyblogger are huge proponents of “access-based” approach to business.
Simplify More Than You Think You Can
What’s common between IKEA, Coca Cola, Fedex, Uber, Spotify, AirBnB, and many other such brands — both new and old?
They have a simple proposition. The simplification is so extreme that these companies have led to entire industries spawning out of that.
According to Richard Koch and Greg Lockwood in their book Simplify: How The Best Businesses In The World Succeed, there are two natural propositions to transform a market:
Price-simplification: Sell products and services are a much cheaper, easy to understand pricing level. This usually calls for simplification for the producer calling for lower margins but massive scale and revenues.
Proposition-Simplification: This is where you create a “proposition” where you carve a niche for yourself. You create a premium offering (regardless of price) giving customers a dramatically better offering than what we are used to.
Here are a few examples of proposition simplification:
FlyWheel: You know hosting? That shit you got to buy so that you can make your million dollar website? Flywheel turns hosting into something beautiful, pleasant, and a premium hosting experience. They get give you hosting that’s fast, flexible, affordable, fantastic, and secure.
Webflow: Building Websites was never this easy, classy, and slick. Simple HTML5 and CSS3 designs, but with a class never seen before.
StudioPress: The cleanest, strongest, most practical, and most secure WordPress themes ever got.
Ignore. Ignore. Ignore
I am particularly good at this, and I do it all the time.
I’ve said “no” more than I ever said “yes”.
I almost always ignore requests, comments, questions, and messages that don’t make sense to me or don’t align with my business.
I don’t respond to phone calls if it’s not from one of my clients.
I don’t tolerate “discussions” that don’t lead anywhere.
So, Ignore customers, vendors, partners, friends, family, or anyone for that matter when:
— They make ridiculous demands on your time.
— They treat you like shit
— They seem to believe that they somehow have an upper hand over you
— They think they own you (because they paid you or because you are related to them somehow.
Most people find it hard to ignore, I get it. But ignoring itself is easy once you get to it.
The best that’ll happen is that you have less stuff to deal with.
Learn to fire clients
Honestly, tell me this: did you not get into this entrepreneurship thing for this special word called “freedom”?
I had someone share their story the other day:
He had to deal with dicks who things that they owe you because they paid him $100 for the logo he was supposed to design for them (but ended up making an entire website).
It’s called Scope creep, and he completely freaked out.
I told him what I’d do: fire the client.
Fire clients who don’t respect you. Ask them to find someone else if they can’t stand up to face your terms and conditions.
It’s your business. You are a partner to your clients. Whatever you do helps clients make more money or make them look good or save them money, or help them solve their problems.
In what way did you actually get so cheap that you’d have to take abuse?
Fire them the moment they step out of the line. They’ll find another worm to eat.
Practice Value-based pricing
We do discounts.
We price ourselves cheap.
We base our prices on competition.
Most of the time, we are clueless about what we should price our products or services at.
I know it. I’ve been there. I still don’t have the answers to the great pricing question.
But, Chris Lema has nailed it on value-based pricing and I don’t want to write a thing more than what he did.
Check out this video below. You’d know all you ever had to know on how to price your products and services better.
Amen, to that.
What other ways do you think we can make our business better? Tell me about it.
It’s hard to run a business. Imagine this: think of an idea that has the potential to work, setup a website, do blogging regularly, engage on social, start building your list, and then keep spending on various expense head such as staffing, tools, office space, equipment, and more.
If that weren’t enough, you’d also do ad spending, media buying, and a whole lot more.
Plenty of businesses seem to be confused with what works and what doesn’t. Even if they do know what works, they’d need some more clarity.
If you don’t have a website and if you aren’t launched properly yet, start with the following tools:
NameCheap Yeah, you can get domains and hosting anywhere. You just won’t have anyone answering your support tickets and real, smiling, helpful humans on the other side.With Namecheap, say hello to excellent support, industry-favorite services, and an award-winning product portfolio (stretching from domains all the way to reseller and dedicated hosting).
HootSuite You’d need a single, all-purpose tool to manage your social accounts. It’s time you get away from the pain full, time-gagging habit of logging in and out of social media accounts. Manage accounts, schedule updates, engage in conversations, and keep track of your performance using HootSuite Analytics.
Mailchimp If you are just starting out and if you are looking for a no-fuss, simple, and very capable email service provider, start with MailChimp. You can’t buy lists and do email marketing the “wrong” way with Mailchimp though.
Your business setup, social media, and email marketing are all covered.
Then, read the right way to create a strong digital footprint by utilising your digital channels the right way.
Now, you know what each digital marketing channel is best used for and how you should make it a part of your strategy.
Let’s roll and figure out how to get your business some traction inexpensively and quickly (and we’d never say it’s easy):
Start PPC with Bing Ads
Whether you are a veteran PPC marketer, an eager business owner, or a suave digital marketer, it always makes sense to get away from the super glamorous Google Adwords wagon and launch your PPC campaigns by spending much less than what you’d spend otherwise. Stop the seemingly endless Google Vs Bing Debate, and add another traffic source for your business.
Starting on Bing is a great way to get your bearings right, experiment, do A/B testing, and put your ads to sweat more to make you more.
Do media buying
Most startups and small businesses think that “media buying” is for the big buys. The Internet leveled the field a long time ago. Using services like BuySellAds (and LaunchBit – also owned by BuySellAds), your media buying can be in control and affordable. Seek high quality publishers all over the world (look for geo-targeting if you have to), and automate your media buying.
Impressions, clicks, traffic, and return on your investments. See what money can do for you.
Negotiate manual advertising online
BuySellAds can certainly make it easier for you to reach out to high-quality publishers, but there’s really no hustle in that, is there?
If you still have the hunger, reach out to local online bloggers (if local advertising is your focus) or other bloggers who haven’t thought about monetizing their blogs or publications.
You can also reach out to owners, companies, and other organizations to advertise on their newsletters. While you are at it, you can also reach out to newsletter-focused publishers such as SmartBrief, trade publications, and many other sources for a steady flow of targeted traffic.
Focus on Analytics
Business owners think analytics is for marketing geeks. Even marketers don’t seem to give as much importance as analytics should deserve.
Here’s some food for thought:
Digital marketing is awesome because you can track the results of your efforts or advertising spending.
If you don’t know where you are with your marketing efforts and ad spending, you won’t make decisions that you should. If not that, you’d be making decisions based on emotions, whims, and weird guesses.
It’s been a while since I posted here. I am sure know how we happen to be worst content providers when we employ “yours truly” to develop content for myself, don’t you?
I must admit that I’ve been slacking, off late. I wasn’t able to do as much as I should and that kills me. I wish I could have been a super human with unlimited energy and capability to do more and I wish I could be living on another planet that’s got, say, 48 hours in a day.
Since that’s wishful thinking, I gunned for plan B – get better at what I do and how I do it.
Enter Trello.com: a project management tool that’s free to use and something that you profit from in many different ways.
Trello.com – How Simplicity makes you money
I’ll admit that I am a tool junky. I run after almost every web-based tool available online. The magic happened after I signed up. Trello.com, by far, has the simplest project management interface ever. Simplicity is at the very core of the tool. Simple drag and drop and you are good to go. It won’t take you long to get used to the system and the way trello.com interface works. What’s more, it has responsive design – meaning that it’s interface adapts to the device you use. Of course, it automatically updates your inputs across all connected devices.
How Trello seduces me into productivity
It’s been 5 days since I signed up for Trello and I noticed that ever since I put out my to-do lists and boards (one board for each project I have to work on). My productivity has shot up to unprecedented levels. Why so?
There’s something about the “damned to-do list that stares you forever while you stare at the computer” sort of interface that trello boasts of.
When you create a board, this is how it looks.
Your things to do get into “To Do”, Work in progress gets into “Doing, and anything you finish gets into “Done”. You can do a lot more than just this like inviting members over, adding checklists, set-up due dates, move lists and boards according to priority.
Now, when I create my “to do” list, it doesn’t seem to be like the lone to-do list whose individual items are at the mercy of my work ethic. Just because the “doing” and “done” lists stand right next to each other, you’ll be compelled to finish your list items one after the other. If you don’t, the guilt kills you.
I can’t explain why that happens. I don’t know how putting up two more blank lists that relate to your main “to do” list makes you actually work.
So far, that’s what’s been happening. I have to thank Trello for finally forcing me to write on my blog again.
If Prestige Marketing’s Info graphic is anything to go by – with due thanks to Pablo at Fortune 3 Blog — then ecommerce changes every few weeks or months. For instance, there’s been an increase of 400% in mobile searches last year. At least 44% online retailers are investing more in mobile tactics while at least 70% of social network users are shoppers.
In 2010, only 2/3rd shoppers from Great Britain went online. That number rose to 70% within a year (2011) while they spent 35 billion GBP online according to the UK B2C e-commerce Report 2012 by ystats.com . Now, that’s just the UK.
E-commerce spending is all set to increase 62% by the end of 2016, according to Internet Retailer . In total, Forrester Research estimates that customers from the U.S alone will spend US $327 billion online in the year 2016.
Great Ideas, Big companies, and Promotions are out; relationships are in
If you have a large business, the only advantage you’ll have – when compared to smaller businesses and startups — is resources, funds, and maybe a rock-solid brand.
Small business won’t find it hard to compete what with tools, resources, information, and the guts they have in store.
You certainly don’t need great ideas; you just need to figure out a way to deliver products and services that solve customer problems better, faster, easier, etc.
Newspaper advertisements, street shows, brochures, flyers, and all other forms of marketing will step aside ( actually, they are already out)
Only relationships (prospective and current) that businesses work hard to develop will work. The “hard” part is underestimated here since there are too many parameters, across multiple-channels.
Social Shopping is in
I strongly believe that social media isn’t for “selling”. It’s not for marketers to flaunt their wares. It’s the last place on earth – after your own parties, hangouts, and outings – where you should be discussing anything related to business. Yet, business is big on social media. Sally Ormond, writes that social media is literally changing the way we shop. According to her post “The Onset of Social Shopping” on Ecommerce Trends, where she refers to research from Reevoo and Ofcom 2011, she says it best:
“With over a quarter of all adults and nearly half of all teens now owning a smart phone (Ofcom, 2011) connecting to the Internet on the move has never been so easy. In fact, it is now so easy it is beginning to affect the way we shop.”
“…Consumers said that social content is now beginning to shape their online shopping behavior. Over half of all consumers found social media comments helpful when shopping online, with user reviews (48%) and friend recommendations (52%) being the biggest influencers. The vast majority (88%) said they always consulted reviews before proceeding to the checkout, with 60% adding they were more likely to purchase from a site that carried such reviews.”
Social shopping is predominant; it’s just not the way traditional marketing works though. Selling is by goodwill and engagement. Sales happen after relationships happen. No transactions are based on the word of the manufacturer, business owner, or marketers; it’s based on what others are saying.
There’s a huge difference, with tons of work pending to make it happen for your business.
Remarketing and Behavioral targeting
For one, there’s no escaping the fact that your online behavior is tracked continuously. Google, Facebook, and every business that can afford the tools will at least embed cookies on your computer to analyze what you like. Every Facebook application you subscribe to, every search you make on Google, and every website you visit adds to the collective data which is used for new trends in e-commerce: remarketing and Behavioral advertising.
Internet allows such leverage, so businesses will use it. If you visit certain websites, you’ll see that the ads displayed have some sort of connection to your Interests. Youtube already does that to you when you sign-in using your credentials, by the way. Literally, the ads, recommendations, and content follow you around.
The Facebook recommend bar; Amazon’s recommendations on Kindle books, audio, music, products, and services; behavioral ads that show up on websites are all examples of this type of marketing.
Try and escape that.
Mobile Marketing: Businesses now talk to the handhelds
The mobile web is evolving, as we speak. ThinkWithGoogle – a document from Google’s research library – states that 43% of smartphone users will give up beer (and 32% of users will give up chocolate?) instead of giving up on their smartphones (Funny, that one).
A whopping 81% of smartphone users access Internet on their mobile while another 59% use their phones while “waiting” – the downtime that marketers would love, eh?
At least 89% of smartphone users can’t get enough of their smartphones after using it all day using handheld devices to research and read news 82% of the time. Over 72% of smartphone users need “Information on the go”.
Go serve that!
From business point of view, here’s a snapshot of how many percentage visits some category websites get:
Clearly, e-commerce gets exciting while the field is leveled.