Your 2015 Holiday Content Marketing Checklist

Targeted content is key for success in internet marketing, and there’s no other time quite like the holiday season for creating time-targeted content. Consumers spend with reckless abandon during the holiday season, so if you aren’t creating content specifically geared towards this time frame, you’re seriously missing out on a big opportunity. From Thanksgiving to Christmas to Kwanza to New Years and all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in between, it’s time to get cracking!


Holiday Content Marketing Checklist

Here’s a quick checklist for your holiday content marketing campaigns. Choose one, all or any combination thereof, as long as it fits your demographics’ preferred wheelhouse of data relay:

– Blog and Articles. The quintessential content marketing piece, it’s doubtful you will forget about this one. Try to capture the holiday spirit if you want them to go viral, or talk about the best deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday or gifts for Christmas, etc. Publish on your site and share vigorously through social media.

– Video Content. This is a great time of year to get inventive and festive with your marketing campaigns, even giving you a better chance at going viral if you pick the right theme and content. Stake out YouTube and Vimeo here, since Vine died off a bit (Instagram has 15 second videos, or if your market demographic fits, SnapChat can even be used).

– Holiday Podcasts. These are a great way to reach your mailing list members or site visitors that don’t have time to read through your content. You can also offer special deals and incentives for those who listen. Get up on iTunes, Blubrry and Stitcher Radio.

– Teleseminars and Webinars. Have products, concepts or services that can be best sold by demonstration or live talks? Then webinars and teleseminars are a great way to connect with your audience. Be sure to follow up with links to the webinars and teleseminars on your seasonal newsletter, as well as upload any slides or recording to your site in a blog or vlog.

– Interviews. Interviews with other sites or blogs are great, no matter what form they come in. Remember, any type of information is content, so even if it’s a speech or a workshop, it can all be used in the same manner (especially if you incorporate it into other types of content to add value e.g. turning a workshop into a webinar, turning a speech into a podcast, turning an interview into a blog, etc.).

– Using Powerpoints. If you have created, or are going to create, powerpoint presentations, turn them into content profit by uploading them to Slideshare, using them in a blog post or turning them into infographics.

– How To’s, Tutorials and Guides. Have some knowledge that you’ve been saving up? Is it extremely helpful? ‘Tis the season for giving! Provide your expertise to the world and make yourself an authority.

– White Papers, eBooks and Special Reports. Depending on how much time you have and how much content you need to cover, all three of these forms of content marketing will serve as enticers to sign up for an email list, opt in, or even just be enjoyed as a premium or free-mium item.

– Newsletters. If you already have one, craft a holiday edition with specials and deals. If you don’t have a newsletter, start one—it’s high time.

– Infographics. Wrap those boring facts and figures up into a visually fun infographic and start sharing it.

Why Surveys Are The Next Big Thing In Business

Admittedly, I know this title might provoke some head scratching at first: “SURVEYS?! How are boring old surveys going to all of a sudden become some major player in business?” And I’m so glad you asked.

Feedback-based marketing is nothing new. Everyone knows, or at least repeats, the mantra that ‘the customer is always right’ and that giving your customers exactly what they want is the key to the success of your business. It was true 50 years ago, and it’s still true today. That said, the growth you’re about to see from survey/feedback based business practices is due to the fact that new technology is vastly changing the ways we can and do interact with customers.

Traditionally, surveys have suffered from one of two shortcomings. The first, was that if you wanted to survey customers on the spot, or right after they had made a purchase in a brick and mortar store, you were likely going to have to use paper surveys. While you were collecting valuable realtime feedback, the tedium and cost of paper survey supplies and data entry was more than a little speedbump in keeping customer feedback a viable adjust-as-you-go business strategy.

More recently, we’ve had programs and websites which allow the creation of online surveys. These surveys can have their data indexed and organized in realtime, saving you hours or work and pay fishing through results. The downside was that there were no easy ways to execute these types of surveys when they were most needed (i.e. at a point of sale). Instead, customers would have to be emailed a link or asked to visit a website hours or even days later. At this point, the quality and accuracy of feedback and recall declines and you won’t get as good of insights as you could have.

Now, however, companies like Responster and Customerville have jumped on the rise of tablets and mobile phones to help bring the best of both worlds together. For your business, that looks like cross-platform surveys that are made to be integrated into touch and run on any device. Now, a business that invests in setting up a cheap iPad kiosk can all of a sudden be collecting helpful feedback from a large percentage of their customers within the first day.

Over time, it will become more apparent that the businesses who take advantage of platforms that allow them to better interact with and respond to customer feedback will perform better. Whereas the marketplace used to be largely dictated by what businesses told the public they needed in the past, we now exist in a consumer controlled world. The internet was the first wave of customer empowerment, social media overhauled it altogether, ensuring that customer complaints and suggestions could be heard around the world as soon as they were thought of, and now we’ve arrived at the third era. Mark my words, feedback is going to separate businesses more and more in the next few years, because no one is going to turn away from a brand that designs their product and service offerings in direct response to something that customer suggested 3 hours ago.

Three Emotional Triggers to Drive Sales with Words

The reasons we buy things vary greatly from person to person. For one, the need to fix a leaky roof might be the most immediate need in their life. To another, a new flat screen TV may seem like a necessary update to keep up with all that the entertainment world has to offer. While the motivations behind specific purchases do seem vastly different, many of the most important buying motivators can be boiled down to a few needs and emotions. Today, we’re going to take a look three different universal purchase motivation factors that you can use to enhance any part of your sales funnel. Traditionally, these triggers have resided solidly in the copywriting world, but keeping them in mind when creating all kinds of marketing materials, when designing your sales funnel, and more can be a great way to implement these triggers above and beyond the standard sales letter.

The Need for Shelter & Comfort: There are few things that motivate people more than an uncomfortable or uncertain living situation. A great example of this is the seemingly miracle stories of internet marketers who may have been homeless or couchsurfing when they started out, doing whatever they could on their local library’s internet to make ends meet.

If your product solves a problem within this niche, you’ve already got some of your work done for you, because you’ve essentially got automatic demand. That said, if you can work into your copy and funnel that your product can improve living conditions or comfort, you can tap into this trigger as well from other markets.

The Need For Love and Companionship: Let’s be honest, no one is surprised by this one! With the amount of ‘get your ex back!’ and ‘seduction’ products out there, it’s pretty clear that romantic prowess and success are important to most people. This issue has only been exacerbated by modern dating apps and sites (Tinder, etc.) which focus almost exclusively on looks and nothing else. Many people feel slighted, and like they won’t be able to perform well on these platforms, making this trigger even more potent than ever.

Think about how you can suggest that your product, training, course, etc., whatever it is, can help people to increase their romantic value. Many products that don’t even directly sell dating advice can still have strong tie-ins. For example, products on public speaking can be marketed as products that help boost confidence in most any social situations, not just speeches, which can translate into a more confident dater.

Financial Success: People love to make money. Money makes the world go ’round. Whatever other cliches you want to drop here. Whether they admit it or not, most people have a large monetary motivation, and helping someone get ahead in this way is a major conversionary selling point. Again, this motivator is not only tied to products geared toward ‘making money’, but it can also be used with educational products that increase earning potential, lifestyle products that increased perceived wealth, and more.

The bottom line: Any time you’re creating communications, you should be putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and hitting them where it, um, ‘motivates’ most.

If you can work these emotional triggers into your product’s hook then you’re in good shape!

Copywriting Toolbox: The ‘Foot in the Door’ Technique

Most marketers are serious do-it-yourselfers. They’re learning constantly about all kinds of different facets of marketing and trying to put what they learn into practice all with just one pair of hands. Most internet marketing guides will tell you to begin outsourcing and managing as early as possible, to help grow your business at the fastest rate possible, but this kind of management role isn’t always feasible if you aren’t entering into your entrepreneurship journey with some startup capital.

Oftentimes, you’ll have to make something work all on your own, and copywriting is no different. There’s a reason that there’s an entire industry dedicated to having someone else write your web copy, sales letters, email series, and more – but that doesn’t mean you can’t do a bang-up job yourself with a little bit of know-how. Today, we’re going to go over the “foot in the door” copywriting technique; it’s a classic copywriting move that can help you to increase responsiveness by easing into your propositions (purchases, sign ups, referrals, or whatever constitutes a successful conversion for your business).

The foot in the door principle is based upon the fact that people are naturally resistant to taking large steps out of the blue. This is, for example, why telephone salespeople have to work through such a large volume of number registries to keep sales at an acceptable level. That said, this resistance tends to lessen when the ‘ask’ becomes less and less of a hassle or monetary obligation for someone. Obviously, you would be more likely to try a new type of shampoo if it cost $5 per bottle than if it were $15.

Those studying (anecdotally) copywriting psychology posited that perhaps these smaller actions could be used to build trust, and thus, over time, increase the chances that someone would agree to a larger ask. As luck would have it, for you, they were right.

The first time I learned of the technique, it was written something like this: If someone came to your door and asked you to put a large political yard sign out endorsing a certain candidate, you would likely be resistant (even if it came from a party you identified with). But let’s say, instead, campaigners ask you to take just an “I support [candidate name]!” button. You’ll never wear it, but the ask is small and you agree; there doesn’t seem to be any harm in doing so. Let’s say that a week or two later, the same people come by and this time they are asking about the yard sign. You may have said no before, but you already agreed with them once, and the button spurred you into doing a bit of research on the candidate, and now maybe you’re more open to a public endorsement. Without a doubt, the second strategy will end up with more lawn signs in more yards.

No matter what your business is, you can use this same technique. In your own business, think of how you can get someone to agree to something small before you ask them for something big. In sales letters, you’ll notice that copywriters often pose questions with seemingly obvious answers.

“Do you want to cure your acne this week?”

“Do you agree that acne creates an unattractive, juvenile appearance?”

The purpose of these questions is to bait readers into mentally agreeing and nodding along; if they’ve already agreed with you on one thing, they’re more likely to agree with you on the next thing as well. In your own businesses, think about how you can use this technique to ‘soften’ any ask you have – you might just be surprised at how dramatically conversion rates change when correctly implementing it.

Redeveloping the Headline – How to Generate and Narrow Down Headline Ideas

Ever wondered how professional copywriters, ad agency creatives, and online marketers arrive at killer headlines that draw readers in and have them pulling out their wallets like nobody’s business? Wonder no more, because today, we’ll be taking a look at exactly how many of those headlines come to be.

The Process

One of the things that too many people don’t understand about headline writing is that it is a process. Just like anything else worth doing for your business, proper headline writing takes up time and concerted effort. The misconception that time spent on headlines should be relatively smaller compared to, say, the time spent to write a sales letter, is probably rooted in the fact that the final product where headlines are concerned is fairly small.

A small final product doesn’t mean a small effort, however. The next time you’re writing a headline for your email, sales letter, or even just your next blog post, try this:

Sit and write 25 to 50 headlines. Don’t stop until you’re there. How do you come up with so many ideas? Go bigger than you think you can, go more ridiculous than you think you can. In this initial phase, we’re too often already wearing blinders and filtering out ideas that could be developed later on if we gave them a chance.

Even if any idea seems too risque, “out there,” or bold, jot it down to get the juices flowing. A big mistake many people make when trying to write their own headline copy is that they don’t actually write ideas down unless they think they’re “good enough.” Most people aren’t able to visualize in our heads as well as we can do on a piece of paper, and you’re doing yourself a disservice by not letting the process take its course out in the open.

Once you’ve got your ideas on paper, go through the list one by one and ask yourself if there are other directions you can go with it (variations, slight changes, etc.), or if the idea just wasn’t up to snuff and needs to be eliminated. In this stage, you’ll drop out the weaklings while simultaneously developing your stronger ideas.

When working on variations and trying to pick out your top contenders, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

– People generally buy on emotion: things like love & acceptance, the want for wealth and popularity, etc. are almost always elements of a successful headline. Don’t hesitate to push a bit with your headline, oftentimes a (not-too-misleading) shock means that people will stop and read.

– The age-old trick about including numbers of tips, tricks, and steps into a headline holds true. People like things that sound logical, specific, and easy, so “3 easy steps to eliminating acne at home” is likely to perform better than “Here’s how to eliminate acne at home!”

Finally, your overall champion of a headline, once you’ve narrowed it down to 2-5, will probably not be able to be determined by intuition alone, especially not without experience, so get ready to split test, split test some more, and then split test again.

Give Before You Take – A Brief Exploration of Value in Internet Marketing

Most anyone reading this is going to be familiar, at least in some abstract way, with the concept of “value.” The concept of value, or utility derived from content, products, or other offerings, is not unique to IM, however, and those working across a variety of markets, both online and offline, have to be keenly aware of the ways in which their value is perceived by customers. In this post, we’re going to go over the importance of balancing your ‘give’ with your ‘take’, and a few ways in which you can maintain that balance when working with IM clients.


The Why

Basic economics courses teach students that most people make their purchasing decisions based on a concept called ‘utility cost’; whenever someone is deciding whether or not to purchase an item or make a trade, they weigh whether the utility of what they will receive is greater than the utility of what they already have. Most commonly, this is the often quick and (nearly) subconscious assessment you would make as to whether an item is “too expensive” or seems like a “good deal.”


In online marketing, your customers make these decisions several times throughout your sales funnel:

– Is the freebie being offered worth more to me than the potential privacy giveaway and possible unwanted messages that entering my email could incur?

– Is the information this person posts on their site helpful enough to me that it’s worth taking ten minutes out of my day to read?

– Do I trust this person enough to take their recommendation that what they’re offering is worth my hard-earned money?

For many marketers, the second and third bullet points are where they lose people.


The Mindset Swap

Even though your end goal may be to make as much money as possible, your customer always wants to feel like they’ve “won.” In most IM-related instances, this means feeling like they’ve gotten the promise of greater future value from a product, tool, or training/coaching course than what they paid for it. However, there is another crucial evaluation that happens long before they’ll ever get close to purchasing, and that’s value-based-trust.

I recommend marketers practice a mindset swap, which involves taking the focus off of their bottom line and simply becoming a customer. Read every offer you’ve got, every promotional email, every review, and ask yourself, does this feel valuable? You are not smarter than your customers; if you know deep down that something you’re offering feels like a half-solution or copout, they’ll pick up on it too.

Most marketers, both experienced and novice, have a sales funnel riddled with these holes where offers feel like they’re doing more for the seller than the (potential) buyer. Remember, when perceived utility of an offer is viewed as a loss, people aren’t going to bite.


Actually Over-Deliver

Many of these low-value gaps occur because marketers are afraid of giving away ‘the whole solution’, system, or secret. Why then, you might ask, would someone make a purchase if they feel they’ve already been given the solution to their problems? It is a tricky balance, but too many err on the wrong side of the scale and come across as withholding value from their customers.

It shouldn’t be surprising that customers are often more likely to purchase after they have already had success with your methods and recommendations, and you offer them up a paid product that complements that success, rather than offering them a tiny piece of the puzzle with what they need to see any positive results locked behind a paywall. Which scenario do you think is more likely to foster an ongoing, positive relationship with a new customer? An opt-in freebie that gives visitors a complete system to make $1,000 per month, which you then upsell to a different version with larger earning potential later on, or just offering them the first page of the main system right off the bat, which essentially renders it useless to them and gives them nothing they can act on immediately?

The former has a high chance of resulting in a lifelong customer, the latter might just tick someone off and see them opting out of your email list as fast as possible.

The point? Give before you ever ask to take, work from the customer’s shoes, and always over-deliver.

Making it Hard to Say No Gets More Yeses in Marketing

The last thing we want to hear from our leads is one simple word: No. No is the death of a sale, the end of a funnel, the loss of a lead. So while it might seem pretty obvious that you want to give your leads more chances to say yes, some internet marketers don’t follow through with this. For example, think about the classic website that you land on after a Google search. You read through the content and at the bottom, there’s a link that you can click to learn more, or in reality, make a purchase.

But why is the only option to say “yes” all the way at the bottom? What this essentially means is that every other spot on the page is a chance to say “no.” That’s bad marketing. You never want more chances to opt-out than to opt-in. So what’s the solution? Make it harder to say no by giving more chances to say yes!


Increased Calls to Action

First up is the obvious: increase the number of CTAs you have on your site and in your copy. Now, this doesn’t mean simply put links at the top, bottom and middle of your content, get creative with it. Opt-ins and other calls to action can be placed all over your site, in the banner, on the side scroll, in a pop-up. The more chances you give your leads to say yes, the more likely it is that they will. If you make them search for a CTA, chances are you’ve already lost the sale by that point.

Remember, the three tenets of every good website are that the viewer should get there and immediately know:

1. Where they are
2. What they can do there
3. Where and why to do it

The third tenet is the one to be concerned with here, if they don’t know where to click or why, your page has failed. Which brings us directly to our next point, the why.


Increased Rewards

Back in the simpler days of online marketing, having one reward would be enough. Give me your email and I’ll send you a free eBook. Sign up for this newsletter and you’ll get 15% off your next purchase. But with so many different avenues of traffic, it only makes sense that you should have multiple levels of rewards. Yes, get the free eBook by joining my mailing list but also get 15% off by liking me on Facebook and get a free website health report by entering your website URL here.

The more points of contact you wish to produce and maintain with your leads, the more rewards you should offer to increase the viability of those contacts. Remember, most people are fairly savvy about what happens when they give a like on Facebook or a follow on Twitter, as savvy as they are about the spam that occurs when they give out their email address. Prove to them that there is value attached to each of these channels by giving them actual value for connecting.


Make the Choice Clear

One of the most effective CTAs out there right now include a combination of a pop-up, a reward and making it very difficult to say no. You’ve likely already seen it on QuickSprout or WordStream, when you’re surfing the site, a seemingly random pop-up occurs with a question that has a very pointed answer. You then have the option to say yes or no, with no being a fairly ridiculous choice so that you have to mentally admit that’s your intention.

For instance, a website about money investment might have a pop-up that says, “Do You Want to Learn How to Invest Like a Pro?” The two choices would be:

Yes, I want to retire early


No, I’m fine living paycheck to paycheck

Which would you choose?

Two Blunt Ways to Get More Clicks through Your Headline

Content marketing is bigger than ever so that means tons of articles and blogs are going up and being shared each and every day. With social media being such a large part of the virality equation, we all know the importance of a good headline. But with click-baiting reaching its slow, but inevitable death and so many other articles and blogs out there on similar topics, what’s to set your headline apart from the rest of the pack?

Now, we all know about the fundamentals of good headline writing, catchy, tells the “get,” puts the keywords or phrase in the beginning, makes the viewer want to click and read more, but hasn’t anything changed since we learned these rules? Absolutely.


Writing Headlines for a Weary Audience

The main thing that has changed is not the way we create content itself, but rather, the way our audience perceives it. That is to say, they’ve been there, clicked that. Your article likely won’t be ground-breaking (though it might be, in that case, I’d like to read you instead of the other way around!), but that doesn’t mean it can’t sound some horns and trumpets on the way in.

Here are two great methods for bluntly writing headlines that will bypass the red warning lights headlines like these can sometimes give off:

1. Here’s Why You’ll Use This Headline. I like to call this the “here’s why” blunt approach. Here’s why you’re going to buy my product. Here’s why you don’t need your cell phone anymore. Here’s why your dog is killing you. Whatever it is that you have to tell them, boom! It’s right there in their face now and there’s no denying it. What this does is it generates curiosity while literally telling them what they are going to learn if they click on your headline and read your article. It’s pure subtle genius and that’s why you’re going to start using it.

2. The Best Headline Tip Ever: Telling Them What it Is. Okay, so we’ve all fallen victim to writing “the best” headlines, that is to say, headlines with the phrase, “the best” in them. Of course! People Google “The Best so and so” all the time, we want to rank for that. Are you selling the best so and so of all time? Probably not. Do you have the best tip in the world for making money online? If you did, you wouldn’t be sharing it. Look, nobody really expects the best when they click on a headline, but they also know that if a headline is vague like that, chances are it’s just some lazy marketer trying to get some traffic. Not anymore! Behold, The Best Way to Use “The Best” in Your Headlines, Tell Them! Essentially, what you want to do is tell the reader what it is you are calling the best before they click. For example: “The Best Hot Dog Ever, Ball Park Franks.” Or, “The Best Online Marketing System: Bill Gates Finally Weighs In.”


Delivering the Goods

After you’ve come up with this killer headline for your content, it’s time to deliver on the promised goods. Don’t disconnect your headline from your content or you will never get another click from that reader again. When a reader clicks on your headline, they have an expectation and you have a duty to deliver on that, if you don’t, you will break their trust and no matter how great your product or service is, you won’t make one sale from that content.

Are You Testing your Unique Selling Propositions Enough?

Conversion rates are all-important to marketers. The more we know about our products and how our audience perceives them, the better we can market these goods and services to increase conversion rates. Unfortunately, many marketers overlook one of the most important adjustable aspects of their products, the unique selling propositions (USPs).


What are Unique Selling Propositions?

USPs are the features and attributes of a product or service that sets it apart from its competition. It’s what makes the iPhone not the Android. It’s what makes a Mac not a PC, it’s what differentiates one product from another and causes a buyer to buy. The unique points of your product or service that you’re selling online should shine through in the product description, giving you a simple and fast way to get the USPs up onto your website.


Testing your Unique Selling Propositions

Of course, this all seems pretty simple if it weren’t for one thing, chances are, you’re not the manufacturer, simply a supplier or point of sale. As an internet marketer, you’re likely going up against tens, hundreds or even thousands of other websites and marketers selling the exact same product or service. That means these marketers are out there looking at the manufacturer’s product description and putting the standard USPs up on their sites.

So now, what you have is an over-saturated market full of non-differentiating sites, all vying for the same customers with nothing more than a small profit margin to work with to sway a conversion. Yes, there is SEO and sales and marketing funnels and a ton of other things that can help you out here, but that’s not the point of this article!

The point here is that a simple test of your USPs and how they are displayed and arranged can make your product or service seem different to a buyer, even if it isn’t.


Steps for Testing and Optimizing your Unique Selling Propositions

Here are simple and easy to follow steps that will allow you to increase your conversions by paying more attention to your USPs:

1. Identify all USPs.
First, find all of the USPs of your products and services. These are simply the strong selling points that appeal to consumers. Take careful note not to put your own prejudices in here as not all USPs are of equal importance in the minds and eyes of your audience. They are what matters, not your opinion, so be sure to identify all USPs.

2. Place the USPs in Prominent Positions.
Next, start testing the USPs by placing them prominently throughout your site. Mention them on social media and highlight them in the product descriptions. What you are doing here is testing the waters.

3. Track and Monitor Results.
Next, be sure you track all of your USP placements to see which ones affect the highest rates of conversions. Some selling points will resonate more with your demographic than others, these are the USPs you want to continue to highlight.

4. Segment Your Audience.
As you keep testing different USPs for your products, you’ll begin to notice that certain USPs work better than others even within your target demographic. For example, you might notice that some trigger words work better with men than with women and among those men, some USPs work better in the 14-26 year old demographic. The more you are able to segment your audience, the better you will be able to reach them with targeted ads that harp on the right USPs.