Tag Archive | "Prospects"

Tips to qualify link building prospects in minutes

Link builders know that qualifying prospects is extremely time-consuming, and a tool that helps you find the relevant prospects fast is gold. This guide will show you a simple method to obtain a list of relevant prospects in several minutes rather than days, or weeks of manual work.

You either have time, either money, usually, or maybe you are short of both of them, which is a very challenging situation, yet not hopeless. However, these two resources, money and time are related and one way to increase your profit is to actually make many things in less time. The faster you solve problems, the more clients you can help, the more customers you get, well basically, you make more money. This is why doing things by hand is not an option if you consider SEO more than just a hobby; you simply waste too much time this way. So you will have to use some tools, and two very powerful pieces of software for getting and processing large amounts of data are Screaming Frog and Microsoft Excel.

If you are a freelancer or a small SEO agency you should know that Screaming Frog is not a cheap solution. The software itself is not very expensive (not expensive at all, actually), but to use it at its full potential – parsing huge websites, or lists of URLs requires quite a powerful PC configuration. However, you can eat an elephant one bite at a time, as they say, so here is a guide that helps you know “How to crawl large websites using the Screaming Frog SEO Spider“. A free alternative is Xenu’s Link Sleuth, but this cute little program is getting older, and older as it hasn’t been updated for almost a decade. However, Xenu is free and fast. As for Excel, some quite decent free alternatives are Google Sheets and Open Office.

Handling Excel sheets with hundred of rows also requires a powerful PC. A computer with a generous amount of memory, and a vigorous processor that’ll allow you to run Screaming Frog properly and also sort and filter huge amounts of data in Excel. So, if you plan to take your SEO business serious, you will have to spend some money to save time, but it is going to be a great investment in the long run. In case you want to have a PC well configured for Screaming Frog, here is the recommended hardware for it.

Anyway, let’s get back to our main topic – “How to qualify link building prospects fast?

1. Searching for relevant websites 

First things first, in order to get what you want, you actually have to know what you need. So what are you looking for?

Let’s say we want to start a “broken links” type link building campaign for a website about aircraft modeling. In this case, we will try to find some relevant pages from relevant websites.

But what does “relevant” mean actually? Well, for you it means that the ideal prospects should be websites containing pages with:

  • The “links” or “resources” terms in the URL, and
  • The “aircraft modeling” related keywords in the title tag, in the body, and/or inside the anchors – basic on-page SEO, actually.

Tip

The links page are not only good link building opportunities, but also gates to even more relevant prospects. Those external links with relevant keywords in their anchors could take you to even more relevant prospects.

Now that we know what we want, it is time to search for those ideal websites. We could do that in a couple of ways:

  • Just search for “aircraft modeling”, you will get quantity, but not the best relevance (a large list containing many websites including a lot of not so relevant results too).

If we want some more relevant results we should narrow a bit the search using the advanced operators as follows:

  • aircraft modelling inurl:htm – To get websites containing the term “links.htm” in the URLs.
  • aircraft modelling intitle:”aircraft modelling”– To get websites containing your keywords in the title tags
  • aircraft modelling intext:”aircraft modelling”– To get websites containing your keywords somewhere in the body.

Another somewhat useful search operator was inanchor: which is used to search for websites containing certain keywords in their anchors. Unfortunately, Google abandoned this operator a few years ago, but we are going to use Screaming Frog to extract those anchors.

Personally, I usually use the first variant, that offers me those links pages from relevant websites, and do the rest of filtering with Screaming Frog and Excel, as you will see below. However, feel free to experiment.

2. Getting the links pages

Well, there are some quite good paid services and programs for scraping results from the search engines, but I’ll show you a couple of free solutions to that:

  • Link Grabber, a free Chrome extension
  • Google Results Bookmarklet, also free, working on both Mozilla Firefox and Chrome

The scraping process is simple. You just need to follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Install Google Results Bookmarklet (drag that green button from this page to your bookmarks toolbar)
  2. Enter the preferred keywords in Google

how to qualify link building prospects step 2

  1. Go to “Settings”, and set Google to display 100 results

how to qualify link building prospects step 3

  1. Push the button “SERPS’18” from your toolbar and a new page will open

how to qualify link building prospects step 4

  1. You will see the URLs at the bottom of the resulting page. It’ll look something like this:

how to qualify link building prospects step 5

  1. Do the same for the next pages and copy/paste the URLs in an Excel file

how to qualify link building prospects step 6

  1. Use the filter to see only the pages containing “links/resources” in their URLs. This is something you can skip if your search contained inurl:links.htm, as Google probably has already done this filtering for you.

how to qualify link building prospects step 7

Tip

You can filter out URLs that are not containing a certain extension, this is very useful when you target a particular country (such as .uk, .ca, .au, and any other country-based domains).

That’s it. In about a couple of minutes, you have managed to create a list of some hundreds of links pages from possible relevant websites. This is the point where the hard work of qualifying prospects usually begins, only that this time Screaming Frog will do this for you.

How to find relevant prospects from a list?

  1. Set the “List” mode in Screaming Frog

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 1

  1. In Configuration/Spider/Limits set the Crawl Depth to “zero” – you want Screaming Frog to read and extract data from that list only, not to crawl the URLs.

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 2

  1. Paste the URLs in Screaming Frog and hit “Start”.

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 3

Tip

Optionally, you can enter some relevant keywords in the Custom/Search fields. This will display the pages containing those keywords (something like intext:keywords).

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 3

  1. When Screaming Frog hits 100%, export “All Outlinks”, and you will see all the links, both internal and external, (this is that inanchor:operator I have mentioned above), along with their anchors and the “Source” pages.

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 4

Tip

If you want to select only the external links, simply bulk export the external links.

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 4

  1. Import the list in Excel. Now, you will use the Advanced Filters in Excel.  Note: If you want to learn more about using filters, this Microsoft guide could be helpful.

The process of sorting is not that complicated. You just need to enter the criteria of sorting above the URLs. These criteria will contain the relevant keywords to your website (something like =*model aircraft*).

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 5

The logic behind this is that the links with relevant keywords in their anchors are signs of both relevance to your website and interest in your website.

  • Relevant pages usually have links with keywords in their anchors pointing to relevant websites.
  • If a website has already linked to a site similar to yours, it should be interested in your site too.
  1. Select the anchors to be filtered

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 6

  1. Select the criteria

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 7

Hit “OK” and voilà!

Now you have a list full of probably up to 90% relevant prospects. Just get rid of the duplicate URLs, and you are ready to do some outreach.

how to find relevant prospects from a list - final outcome

Conclusion

There is a great variety of software these days that allow you to crunch huge volumes of data. So a possible shortage is in no case related to the number or complexity of the tools available, but rather to our ability to make the right choices and learn how to get the most out of them.

This is why you should be proud of yourself now, after reading this guide, you have just learned not only how to better use your time, but also several new things you can do with these two powerful pieces of software.

Marius Bujor is the SEO Magister Ludi at PRawareness.com.

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Oft-Overlooked Ways to Connect with More Prospects

This week, we talked about forming stronger relationships with prospects. Someone may know you, but do they like you enough to remain an engaged member of your audience? On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman kicked things off by asking that very question. Be sure to try her simple exercise for uncovering what makes you likable and crafting
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5 Ways to Convert More Prospects by Making Your Case

Your headline draws them in, while your opening copy maintains the magnetic hold. The express benefits give them hope that they may have found the solution they desire. And then you ask for the sale with an explicit call to action. A total win, right? Then why are you still disappointed with your results? You’re
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4 Trust-Building Steps that Get Your Prospects to Eat Out of Your Hands

attract & engage your best prospects

Are you scaring away your best prospects?

When you’re new to content marketing, you might inadvertently send a frightening message to your potential customers and clients.

Your heart is probably in the right place. You’re trying to provide value and put your best offers in front of people — but your approach might miss the mark.

And that wrong approach might cause terrible conversion rates for your opt-in forms and low sales of your products and services.

Want to know how to stop scaring off your prospects, build trust, and start attracting tons of subscribers and sales?

The key is learning how to get birds to eat out of your hands.

Why content marketing is like ornithology

Let’s say you have a cute little group of finches in your backyard, and your dream is to get the little fellas to eat birdseed out of your hand.

The trick to earning the trust of the birds is to move slowly and quietly, so you don’t scare them off. Stand next to the tree or bird feeder where they gather, and let them get used to you. Demonstrate your trustworthiness and let them know you’re not going to hurt them.

Then continue to take tiny steps toward your goal, all the while being careful not to scare them. Let the birds discover you’re a source of yummy food by sprinkling birdseed on the ground and hanging out nearby while they nibble.

If you are infinitely patient, take baby steps, and don’t frighten them, eventually you can train the birds to eat directly out of your hands.

Here’s what you don’t want to do:

  • Scream “I HAVE BIRDSEED!” at the trees where the birds hang out
  • Shove your hands in their little faces to show them what you’re offering
  • Wave your arms around to get their attention
  • Anything else that makes you look scary, aggressive, risky, or alarming

How this bird story affects your content marketing

If you never plan on trying to get finches to eat from your hands — who cares?

But this story has an important lesson for all content marketers: Your prospects are just like birds.

They are highly risk-averse and hypervigilant, constantly searching for a reason to take flight and leave your website.

If you offer too much too soon or shove your paid products in their faces, they’ll fly away.

And you’ll be left alone, holding a handful of birdseed, wondering what happened.

Building relationships the bird whisperer way

How can you frame your offers to avoid scaring away your prospects?

  1. Start slow. Patience is essential when you’re building relationships with your audience. Be sure to establish trust before you ask for anything. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.
  2. Provide value first. When your website is new, it’s critical that you establish yourself as an expert (and build trust with your audience members) by giving away free value before you present your audience with an offer for your paid products and services. Start with a free report, educational video, or content library, and gather feedback from your audience on that content before you make your next move.
  3. Don’t ask for multiple actions. Whether you have an email list opt-in form or free registration page for your site, one major mistake new content marketers make is trying to do too much with a single page. If you present paid offers on the same page or form as your free content, you might confuse your prospects and they won’t take any action at all.
  4. Send emails with useful content to build relationships and increase trust. Once a prospect has signed up for your email list, you still need to proceed with caution. To build relationships, send consistent content notifications or email newsletters to prove your authority in your niche and provide value to your community members.

Win your prospects’ trust with a steady, consistent approach

When you approach your prospects carefully and consistently over time (and prove you’re a safe person), they’ll eventually feel comfortable buying from you.

So take small and steady steps, and don’t overdo it with aggressive sales messages. Your prospects will learn to trust you, and they’ll be far more likely to buy your products and services.

A little birdie told me you (and your prospects) are going to be a lot happier with this approach.

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Search, Content & Customer Experience – Moving Prospects From Awareness To Action

To reach your SEO goals, your landing pages must map to search terms tied to the appropriate stage in the customer journey. Columnist Jim Yu explains how to achieve this.

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5 Things Every Copywriter Needs to Know About Their Prospects

Image of The Art of Dramatic Writing Book Cover

What do you really know about your prospect?

Their age range perhaps? Where they live? What they do for a living?

Useful definitely, but not enough to create copy that rouses emotion and compels action.

For that we need to take a journey much deeper into the dark recesses of our customers’ minds …

Want to join me?

Today’s article is inspired by someone who understood that in writing, how well you knew your ‘characters’ made the difference between captivating an audience, or boring them.

In 1946 The Art of Dramatic Writing, (now regarded as one of the best works on the subject of playwriting), was published.

The author, Lajos Egri, had a simple rule: know your characters and you’ll know your story.

And the same principle works in copywriting. Before you can write content that gets and grips your reader’s attention, you have to get to know them … intimately.

Fortunately, Egri has some advice to help us do just that.

The one thing your reader wants most is …

… to be important.

According to Egri, this is the number one desire that motivates all characters.

Even small actions are attempts to increase our importance in the world. Whether it’s going for a promotion, dressing up for a date, or making sure your children are healthy and happy. These actions are influenced by our goals to be well-respected, noticed, or loved. And if we succeed, we have a measure of how important we are to others.

So how do companies make their customers feel important?

A business owner wants a better looking website to be more important to prospects. A web designer wants better tools to offer a high-quality service, and be more important to her customers. A blogger wants to produce epic content to be important to readers so they keep coming back.

When you know what makes your customer wants to feel important, you can ensure it is one of the leading benefits in your copy.

But this is just the beginning, because when you stir the murky waters of the desire for importance, you’re just a few steps away from another piece of the puzzle that helps you understand your customer.

Your customer is insecure (but do you know why?)

According to Egri, no-one is wholly satisfied with themselves, because if people were satisfied and happy, no-one would ever do anything.

Apparently, insecurities cause dissatisfaction which then motivates us to pursue activities to make us feel more important.

And the angle of your copywriting can change dramatically when you’re targeting different insecurities, even if the product is the same.

For example, not everyone who decides to get fit is motivated by the same reasons.

One guy might be embarrassed about his body and decide once and for all to get buff for the ladies. Another guy might have a chronic condition that he fears will cause him to miss out on life unless he can gain strength by increasing his fitness.

While the same fitness product might work for both people, the same approach to writing copy may not. And if you want to write copy that resonates deeply with your customer, you have to tackle their fears as well as their goals.

You can find vital clues in their past

Most customer profile templates focus on the present-day. Where does your customer live now? What problems do they have today?

Egri understood that if you really wanted to understand a character you had to go back in time and know the events that made your ‘character’ who they are today.

So what about your own customer? What events turned them into your target market?

If you help small business owners, how did they get there? Were they always self-employed? Have they been in business long? Have they always ‘gone their own way’ or are they more used to conforming and being told what to do?

Taking this journey through your target market’s history helps you build a better view of your customer’s values. And again, this helps you shape your content and pick themes that appeal specifically to your customer.

Consider the following target market divided by different histories:

  • Business owners … forced into self-employment after the recession
  • Business owners … starting up fresh out of university

How might you change the theme of your copy for each group?

The conflict reveals your customer’s true character

Egri suggested that in conflict, people’s true characteristics are revealed … but what conflict is your customer really facing?

Some conflicts are obvious. It’s an action that causes a problem that needs to be solved by a reaction: your car breaks down, you need to be somewhere — you call a mechanic.

Your pipes burst, you don’t want water damage, you call a plumber.

Other conflicts are more subtle but no less worrying to your customer.

A business owner wants a polished looking website to look important to her customers.

No real conflict there.

Looking a little bit closer, we discover that maintaining a professional appearance is something she worries about.

Okay, we know more about her insecurity, but still there’s no real conflict.

Do a bit more digging and we find out it’s likely to be a start-up business and she’s probably new to online technology. She doesn’t have the funds to hire a design company, but she doesn’t know enough about technology to do her own design.

The business that solves this problem and understands this conflict can plan content to reach this customer much better than the business that simply advertises affordable web design.

Now, you don’t have to know the individual story for each and every customer you may have, but without an idea of the conflict faced by the majority of your target market, understanding their real character (and writing copy to appeal to them) will be a challenge.

Okay, we know what makes our customer feel important, what makes them secure, what their past is, and their conflict.

Finally, you need to know …

How far are they willing to go?

In fiction, you need to know if your characters are prepared to go bankrupt, embark on an adventure, commit a crime, or declare love to achieve their dreams.

And you need to know the same about your customer.

Okay, you don’t need to know if your customer will go to Mordor for new computer software, but it does help to know what they’re willing to do to resolve their particular conflict.

  • What price are they willing to pay?
  • Are they willing to shop around or is it more of an impulse purchase?
  • How desperate are they to solve the problem?
  • Do they need to solve it quickly or can a solution take time?
  • How much do they want to work with you compared to another company?

Your research might lead you to try new approaches in the way you present your offer to prospects. If you discover your customer likes to shop around, and reads lots of information before making a buying decision, you can create content to cater to this need.

Getting to know your customer isn’t a quick, cursory task. Egri would spend hours plotting question and answer scenarios with characters, thinking of a range of different back-stories and visualizing how they might react with different events and opposing personalities.

Now granted, your customers aren’t imaginary but you can use the same inquisitive approach to build a clearer profile of your customer.

How do you get to know your customers?

What do you find helps gain a better understanding of your reader?

How does this affect the copy you write?

Let us know in the comments below …

About the Author: Amy Harrison helps business owners take simple content marketing steps. For a free, easy-to-use customer profile download (and a slightly bizarre video) click here.

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7 Social Psychology Studies to Help You Convert Prospects into Paying Customers

image of brain illustrations

When it comes to converting more prospects into paying customers, it all boils down to how well you understand your buyer’s mind and what they want from your business.

The thing is, your time can’t scale in every circumstance, and there may come a point where you aren’t able to know each and every one of your customers personally. When that’s the case, what’s to be done?

The answer is to turn to rigorously tested research in social psychology.

We’re all different, but in many instances our brains are prone to respond in a very similar manner, and understanding these common elements in the human mind can help you find more ways to ethically move more buyers towards saying “Yes!” to your products or services.

Below you’ll find 7 such studies that will help you understand what makes many of your customers “tick”, and what you can do to create a more effective selling experience.

1. Play the devil’s advocate

Are you familiar with how the term “devil’s advocate” came to exist? It’s actually from an old process the Roman Catholic church used to conduct when canonizing someone into sainthood.

A lawyer of sorts was instructed to be the devil’s advocate for the candidate, taking a skeptical view of their character in an attempt to find holes in their arguments for why they should be considered.

The marketing world has an important lesson to learn from this process.

According to research by social psychologist Charlan Nemeth (and his colleagues), the role of devil’s advocate certainly plays a part in persuasion, but it is not one of creating dissent.

Nemeth concluded that when people are confronted with someone who truly appears to oppose their position (true dissenters), they begin to try and understand their perspective.

Those playing devil’s advocate? They actually increase the effectiveness of the original argument! This is because group members do not take the critiques from the devil’s advocate as seriously, and since the group is now bringing up (and dismissing) possible alternatives or flaws, they are more confident in their original stance.

For marketers, this offers an opportunity: playing devil’s advocate for your own products can actually enhance your persuasive efforts as people see their concerns addressed (and dismissed) before they buy.

The Takeaway: Playing the role of devil’s advocate has been found to increase people’s resolve in their decision making, not hinder it. Be your own devil’s advocate and back up typical objections with solutions for your offerings.

2. Use urgency … the smart way

Creating a sense of urgency in your copy is one of the oldest tricks in the book … and still one of the smartest. To top it off, Cialdini lists “scarcity” as one of the 6 pillars of influence, and it’s easy to see why: great demand leads to great sales.

In spite of this, I have some research that explains how urgency can completely backfire on you and ruin your meticulously written copy.

How can this be? More importantly, how can you prevent it from happening to you?

The research comes to us from a classic study by Howard Leventhal where he analyzed the effects of handing out tetanus brochures to subjects.

Leventhal handed out 2 different pamphlets to participants, both sparing no detail on the horrid effects that the tetanus disease can have on the body.

The difference was that the control group received a version of the pamphlet that had the effects of the disease … and nothing else.

The second group received a similar pamphlet, but theirs had minimal information that indicated where they could schedule an appointment to get vaccinated.

The results?

Those who had the second pamphlet (with the sparse follow-up info) were much more likely to take-action: the rate that they followed through to get vaccinated was vastly superior to the first group. They were also more engaged with the tetanus information they received.

Why?

Even though the follow-up information provided in the second pamphlet wasn’t at all comprehensive, Leventhal concluded that our minds are susceptible to blocking out information that evokes a sense of urgency if there aren’t any instructions regarding what to do next.

Those in the first group were prone to convincing themselves that, “I don’t need to worry about this because it won’t happen to me anyway,” whereas those in the second group had less incentive to feel this way because they had a plan to take action and couldn’t put it aside as easy.

The Takeaway: Urgency can be “blocked” by your customers minds if you don’t give them specific instructions on how to solve the problem that you’ve identified. Don’t give vague instructions, tell your audience exactly what to do when the time comes.

3. Highlight strengths by admitting your shortcomings

Is it ever a good idea to admit to your faults? After all, people don’t really want the “real” you, right?

Research from social psychologist Fiona Lee would assert that it is, and in fact, it may be the best strategic decision to highlight your strengths.

The study she conducted looked at companies who admitted to missteps and examined what effect (if any) these admissions had on stock prices. Lee and her colleagues had experimenters read one of two fictitious company reports (both reports listed reasons why the company had performed “poorly” last year).

The first report placed emphasis on strategic decisions. The second placed emphasis on external events (economic downturn, increased competition, etc.).

So what were the results?

The test subjects viewed the first company far more favorably than the second.

Interestingly, Lee found (after examining hundreds of these types of statements, over 14 real companies) that the companies who admitted to their strategic faults also had higher stock prices the following year.

Her conclusions were that admitting to shortcomings in areas like strategic thinking showcased that a company was still in control, despite their faults. Blaming external forces (even if true) created a sense that the company didn’t have the ability to fix the problem (or were creating excuses).

The Takeaway: Customers still don’t want you to overshare irrelevant details. But admitting to honest errors helps your customers understand that you are in control of the situation and not prone to making excuses.

4. Embrace the power of labels

You might think I’m referring to brand labels, but far from it: I’m telling you to label your customers!

Sounds like bad advice, right?

WRONG!

As it turns, the research has shown us that people like being labeled, and they are more likely to particpate in the “group’s” message if they feel included in it.

The study examined the voting patterns of adults to see if labeling them had any effect on their turnout at the polls.

After being casually questioned about their normal voting patterns, half of the particpants were told that they were much more likely to vote since they had been deemed to be more politically active.

(This wasn’t actually true, these people were selected at random)

The other half of participants weren’t told anything.

Despite this random selection, the group that was told they were “politically active” had a 15% higher turnout than the other group!

Our brain seeks to maintain a sense of consistency (even if it’s artificial), and this is why the foot-in-the-door technique works so well even on prepared minds. We enjoy being consistent so much that if we feel apart of a group by being told that we are, it’s still likely to affect our response.

For instance, smart people are obviously going to be interested in an internet marketing course that’s made for smart people, right? The label is at work to make you realize you’re part of a desirable group.

The Takeaway: Even when given an artificial connection, people tend to take action in order to maintain a consistent image if they are labeled as being apart of a group. Don’t be afraid to label, people like being members of groups that they approve of.

5. Make their brain light up “instantly”

There are few things that our brains love more than immediate stimulation.

As a matter of fact, research has shown that instant gratification is such a powerful force that an ability to control against it is a great indicator of achieving success.

Wow!

In terms of your customers, you’re actually looking to do the opposite: in this case the gratification is about getting instantly rewarded by doing business with you, and your copy should remind customers of this benefit at every turn.

When your customers are on the verge of purchasing a product from you (or about to sign up for your email list), they are heavily influenced by how quickly they can receive their desired outcome.

Several Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) studies, including one on nicotine addiction, have shown that our frontal cortex is highly active when we think about “waiting” for something.

On the other hand, our mid-brain is the one that lights up when we think about receiving something right away (that’s the one we want to fire up!).

Words like “instant”, “immediately”, or even just “fast” are known to flip the switch on that mid-brain activity that makes us so anxious to buy.

Researchers have noted that the key to these words is that they allow us to envision our problem being solved right away; whatever pain point we are seeking to fix by buying becomes more enticing if we know we won’t have to wait very long.

The Takeaway: Our brains love “instant gratification” and light up when thinking about eliminating pain points instantly. Let people know that they will be rewarded quickly and they will be more likely to make the purchase.

6. Know how to sell to your 3 types of buyers

Every business (no matter the industry) is going to have to deal with the 3 types of buyers out there.

All other aspects aside, these 3 groups are defined by the “pain” that they receive when purchasing something. Neuroscientists have defined human spending patterns as a process of “spend ’til it hurts!”, so understanding these different levels of paint points is essential to increasing your sales.

According to the research, all customers are grouped into the following categories:

  1. Tightwads (24%) – people that spend less (on average) before they hit their limit
  2. Unconflicted (61%) – average spenders
  3. Spendthrifts (15%) – people that are able to spend more before they hit their limit

Guess who the hardest group of people to sell to is? Since they take up nearly a quarter of your potential customers, you should learn some of the smart techniques to minimize buying pain for your “tightwad” customers.

Fortunately, the secret boils down to utilizing well-written copy.

According to some remarkable neuroimaging studies, minimizing buying pain for “tightwads” (and everybody else) can be accomplished successfully by incorporating the following strategies…

1. Re-frame the value

If I told you that my product costs $ 1,000 a year, you’d definitely approach with a little hesitation, right?

Right. That’s because $ 1,000 isn’t peanuts.

What if I told you instead that my product costs $ 84 a month? Not bad right? If you got enough utility out of it for your business (or for yourself) every month, it would be a very worthy purchase.

The thing is, that’s the same as $ 1,000 a year!

If you’re offering something that has a recurring cost or that could be broken down into smaller increments, look into how you might be able to incorporate this into your pricing.

2. Reduce pain points through bundling

Neuroeconomics expert George Loewenstein has noted that all customers (but especially conservative spenders) prefer to avoid purchasing multiple accessories if there is an option to complete their purchase in one swoop.

He cites our willingness to upgrade from different car packages, but how difficult it is for the brain to justify each individual upgrade (“Yes, I will pay extra for the navigation… and leather seats… and…”, etc).

Lowenstein would assert that these individual purchases create individual pain points, whereas a bundled purchase creates only one pain point, even if the price is much higher.

3. Sweat the small stuff

We know that “don’t sweat the small stuff” isn’t all that applicable to copywriting, but just how small of a change matters?

In what I’ve named the goofiest bump in a conversion rate that I’ve ever seen, research from Carnegie Mellon University University reveals to us that even a single word can affect conversions.

Researchers changed the description of an overnight shipping charge on a free DVD trial offer from “a $ 5 fee” to “a small $ 5 fee” and increased the response rate among tightwads by 20 percent!

Has the word “small” ever felt so big? With a single added word increasing conversions by that amount, I think it’s safe to say that the devil is definitely in the details.

The Takeaway: No matter what business you’re in, you will always have 3 types of customers. Know how to sell to tightwads, they make up a large base of your potential buyers and you can reduce their buying pain with the right choice of words.

7. Make an enemy

In the business world, meaningful connections are paramount to your success.

That being said, you still need an enemy.

Why? When could this ever be a good thing?

Turns out, it’s a great thing if you’re looking to achieve a cult-like addiction for your brand.

In a hightly controversial study entitled Social categorization and intergroup behaviour, social psychologist Henri Tajifel began his research trying to define just how human beings were able to engage in acts of mass hatred (such as the Holocaust).

His findings were shocking to say the least.

Tajifel found that he could create groups of people that would show loyalty to their in-group and outright discriminate against outsiders … all with the most trivial of distinctions!

In the tests, subjects were asked to choose between two objects or people that they had no relation to (one test had people picking between 2 painters). Despite these trivialities, when it came time to dole out REAL rewards, subjects had a huge bias towards their in-group and avoided handing out rewards to the so-called “other guys.”

Sounds an awful lot like big companies going toe-to-toe, doesn’t it? Like the Mac vs. PC commercials or Miller Lite taking potshots at un-manly light beers.

The thing is, you don’t need a physical enemy, you need to be against a belief or an idea. Copyblogger would assert that real publishers are self-hosted and that well-written content is the centerpiece of the web.

Solidifying your unique selling proposition is as much about deciding who your ideal customer is not as much as it is about defining who they are.

The Takeaway: You’ll never find your brand’s true voice without something to stand against. This doesn’t have to be another brand, but in order to divide your ideal customers into your “camp,” you need to be against some ideal, belief, or perception, the way Apple was against “boring” PC users in their ads.

Bonus Tip: Keep ‘em on their toes

You know that the social construct of reciprocity is a powerful force, but did you know that further research has showed that surprise reciprocity works even better?

Since you’ve made it all the way to the bottom, I’d like to surprise you with a beautiful, free e-book revealing more insightful data on your audience and customers.

All courtesy of the Help Scout team, we hope you enjoy it!

Click here to download it instantly.

Thanks for reading, I’d also love to hear your thoughts, specifically: which of the above studies did you find the most surprising?

See you in the comments!

About the Author: Gregory Ciotti is the marketing guy at Help Scout and the founder of Sparring Mind, where he takes psychology + content marketing and makes them play nice together. Get more interesting customer data by downloading this free e-book.

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10 Tempting Email Promos Your Prospects Can’t Resist

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It’s not that your email marketing content isn’t spectacular. But your subscribers may be wondering, “Hey, am I ever going to get the hook up? The insider deal? That little bit of extra-special love reserved just for me?”

The answer is yes … well, if you can think of a cool deal to send them. I mean, the straight up X% OFF and BOGO deals feel a little stale after a while, don’t they?

If they feel stale to you, chances are your subscribers aren’t drooling over them, either. And if you’re unsure, just take a look at your click-through rates; if they’re stagnating or taking a nose dive, it’s time to get creative with the deals you’re sending to drive clicks and revenue. And as it turns out, social shares and forwards, too — research shows that emails with a promotion or discount receive the most shares (34.7%) as compared with other types of email content. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

So what kinds of promotions can you send? We dug deep into the recesses of our brains (and our inboxes) to come up with a list of creative deals you can use in upcoming email campaigns that will perk your subscribers right up. Take a gander.

10 Creative Deals to Send in Your Email Marketing Campaigns

1) Limited Supply

A successful promotion — especially an email promotion that relies on getting someone to whip out a credit card when they’re trolling through an overloaded inbox — needs to instill a sense of urgency. What better way to create that sense of urgency than a dwindling supply? You can make that sense of scarcity even more pronounced using visual cues, like an inventory ticker or counter, to indicate how much of your supply is left and really light a fire under their tuckus. For a promotion of this nature, try targeting first time buyers or those who make infrequent purchases to get them more engaged with your brand; you’ve already established your value with return shoppers.

2) “Use-It-or-Lose-It” Credit

TechCrunch recently published the results of a Harvard research study on teaching incentives in which they found performance improved not when incentives were given after performance metrics were achieved, but when incentives were given up-front and could be taken away if performance metrics weren’t achieved. This is the principle of “loss aversion” in which people, once they have something, don’t want to give it up. Experiment with this concept in your email marketing deals, too.

For example, you might offer a “Use-It-or-Lose-It” credit that gets shoppers to, well, shop. There are two approaches you could take with this: you could either give a credit that’s less than the cost of your products or services, ensuring you still generate some revenue; or you could trust that a one-time purchaser will return and make more purchases in the future, offering a credit that wouldn’t require a recipient to dole out any of their own cash.

3) Give Away Your Expertise

Sometimes a valuable action isn’t a transaction — it’s an activity that leads to a transaction. These are the types of deals that matter for businesses with longer sales cycles and/or higher ticket items. Instead of focusing on price, you need an opportunity to build value, and you can do that by giving away your expertise as opposed to percentages off. Offer free consultations, free assessments, free diagnostics, free tutorials, free whatever to get high-quality leads to the point where they’re ready to make a purchase with you.

4) Send This Deal to a Friend in Need

Leverage your network’s network (and by extension, expand yours) by incentivizing forwards and shares of your deals. This is particularly effective for segments of your database that are engaged with your emails — they’ll have high open rates and often, high click-through rates — but aren’t actually transacting with your business. In other words, they like you, but they’re not ready to settle down in a house in the suburbs with you. But they’d totally set you up with their friend!

You can do this with any deal, but let’s use the last promo idea to demonstrate the principle. Let’s say you’re offering a free consultation to optimize someone’s blog, and this certain segment of your email list just isn’t biting despite all the regular indications that they’re qualified for this conversion event. Send them an email that asks them whether they know any friends who need a little help with their blog. Hey, if they do, they can be the hero that sends them access to a free consultation with an expert that can help them! And there’s something in it for them, too — if their friend books the consultation, they’ll get a $ 50 credit to a blog-writing service to help keep their content machine chugging.

You get a new lead, your recipient gets to be a hero and some free blog content, and their friend gets help with their blog. That’s a win-win-win right there.

5) Give Away Something Really, Really Valuable …

… that doesn’t cost a lot to you. Many businesses have access to these things, but they overlook them because, well, it’s just no biggie to you. For example, a colleague of ours used to own a website that sold cigars, and he had access to some pretty fancy-pants lighters. His leads and customers loved them, so he sent an email to those people cutting them a deal — buy a certain amount of cigars, and you can have one of the lighters for free. Kind of like a reward for being a great customer! Sometimes people just need that extra cherry on top to incite them to action.

6) Thanks for Sharing!

Referral bonuses are a fantastic incentive for current customers to share their love for your brand with their network. Thank those who share your email content by giving them a discount on their next purchase, or a credit for your site. You can even reward both the referrer and the person he or she referred by offering them both the discount or credit. This helps keep everyone engaged with your company and coming back for more and more purchases — oh, and more referrals, too. If you’re looking for examples of this type of deal, two companies who do this really well are Jetsetter and ModCloth; check them out!

7) Instant (or Eventual) Rebate

Offer an instant rebate (or depending on how long it takes, an eventual rebate) to incentivize recipients to complete a desired action. For example, you might offer cash back or a credit on an order when someone forwards that order confirmation email to a friend to show off their latest purchase. This incentivizes good behavior, and if you’re offering a credit for that behavior, it encourages the recipient to visit your site again and get shopping!

8) Price Change Notification

For this promotion, you’re at the mercy of your operations and finance department — but if you don’t leverage it when you have the opportunity, you and your leads are missing out! If something you’re selling is going to increase in price, let your leads know now. If someone’s considering purchasing your products or services (especially if a product is favorited or in their cart), an email alert that the price will increase but you’ll be able to get them in at the lower rate will create a serious sense of urgency. Plus, it will separate those who are serious about making a purchase with you, and those who are just window shopping right now. Be sure to include the date at which the price increase will take effect so the proper expectations are set, and you have that extra little bit of urgency to help motivate a purchase.

9) Leverage Themes and Timeliness

Another way to use newsjacking principles to craft a creative promotion is by leveraging events or popular news items to get people’s attention. This is how you can take flat, stale deals like 50% OFF or BOGO and actually get people’s attention with them. For example, you’ve all heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, right? You may have even read it … though may not admit it ;-) Many hotels are finding ways to tie it into their industry, offering romantic packages where couples can, ahem, live out their fantasies. You don’t even have to go this far, though; you could simply send a “punny” discount, like a 50% OFF Shades of Grey promo, or a Two-for-One Valentine’s Day discount.

10) Partner Hookup

Finally, don’t forget to leverage your partner network for email promotions. Ask them if they’re willing to send out your email promotions on your behalf, getting you access to an entirely new list, as well as giving you some credibility by receiving promotion from someone other than yourself. You could even work out a deal with partners in which your services are discounted exclusively for their audience — just be sure that value is clearly communicated in the email — to give their list a sense of VIP status. Making people feel like they’re getting the insider deal in this way is another fantastic way to not only generate new leads and revenue, but also make your partner look great as a provider of these types of VIP hookups.

What other creative deals can you think of to send in your email marketing campaigns?

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The Harpoon or the Net: What’s the Right Copy Approach for Your Prospects?

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Once you decide to learn more about the craft of copywriting, you quickly find out there are two schools of thought.

One school hammers the reader with red headlines, yellow highlighting, and aggressive copy that grips the reader like a terrier shaking a squirrel.

The other school develops a compelling personal voice, nurtures a relationship with the reader, and uses soft-sell techniques to nudge the reader down the path to purchase.

So which one is right?

Well … they both are.

How to harpoon a customer

It’s easy to make fun of traditional sales pages, but they’ve been widely used because for a lot of years, they worked like crazy. And there are still versions that work well today. Like infomercials and Cosmo headlines, they may look dopey, but they’ve convinced millions of people to take action and spend money.

Traditional sales pages are ugly because they’re designed to hold and keep attention. Attractive design is completely secondary.

Readers for these pages typically arrive from an ad or, somewhat less commonly these days, an affiliate referral. The prospect tends to make up his mind in a split second about whether or not he’s in the right place. He then spends another three or four seconds deciding if this offer is going to meet his needs.

Red headlines, yellow highlighting, irritating pop-ups and pop-overs, and the other tricks of the trade are all ways to grab a stranger and focus his attention on what you have to offer.

Sure, long sales pages can be cheesy, but if you only have one shot at the prospect, they can work very well. A well-written traditional sales page acts like a harpoon. When a likely prospect swims along, if the writer’s aim is good and she gets enough power behind that harpoon, she can make the sale.

Is a harpoon always the right tool?

Harpoons work great when you need to strike quickly. But they have a few problems.

First, the “ugly” version that used to be widely used gives an impression of shoddiness and a lack of ethics.

That impression isn’t always accurate — long sales pages have been used for great stuff as well as junk. But unless you’ve already established credibility with your audience, the prospect can’t tell the difference. If the reader doesn’t urgently need what you’re selling, she’ll hit the back button as fast as she can.

Second, it’s really hard to write a good “harpoon” sales page that can convert a prospect in one shot.

The difference between effective sales letters and miserable failures can be surprisingly subtle. If you aren’t already Clayton Makepeace, you may find that although your letters look like his (to your untrained eye), they don’t work like his.

Third, cheap traffic is getting hard to come by.

With competitive pay-per-click keywords going for a few dollars instead of a few cents, these single-shot long sales pages are becoming less and less effective. The masters can still pull it off, and do … but you have to be a master.

If you’re still inspired to learn this strange and fascinating form, study the crusty old guys who developed the original techniques. Gary Bencivenga, Joe Sugarman, Clayton Makepeace, and Dan Kennedy all have resources out there that can start you on your apprenticeship.

You could also use a net

There’s an alternative approach you might want to consider.

Instead of hurling your single-pointed communication as forcefully as you can, consider encouraging your prospect to wrap himself in a friendly, supportive net.

In other words, rather than trying to harpoon customers with single-shot sales letters, snare them in a net of useful, relevant content.

Strong content will keep luring your prospect back for regular bites. Each bite builds a little more trust. Each bite builds your reputation as a friendly authority.

Whether it’s a freeform stream like a blog or the organized sequence of an email autoresponder, a well-crafted content net not only snags your prospect for this sale, it keeps him fat and happy for the next one.

And you’ve probably noticed that it’s very handy for things like SEO and social sharing as well. The more connected we are with communication technology, the better the net works.

How to use a net without getting tangled up

Great single-shot copywriting is usually the result of many years of work and study.

Creating a net of great content over time, on the other hand, is a lot easier to master. You don’t have to get every word perfect. You don’t need an arsenal of sales tricks.

It’s mostly a matter of figuring out what your customer wants and needs, then getting out of your own way. And the copywriting techniques you do use can be “pretty good” instead of “The next incarnation of Gary Halbert.”

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the content net is the copywriting method we favor here at Copyblogger. You’ll still benefit from a well-crafted landing page (not an ugly one, please, we’re in 2012 now). But frankly, the fish are a lot easier to catch when you’ve been keeping them happy in your content net.

If you’re interested in finding out more specifics on how to do that, I put together a free, 20-part course called Internet Marketing for Smart People that can give you a solid head start.

It talks about the delicate balance between audience relationship, selling, and traditional copywriting. Go snag it now, and start weaving a net of your own.

Editor’s Note: This is a Copyblogger Classic post, originally published in June, 2008. We’ll be republishing classic content from the archives from time to time, updated — as this post has been — to be sure the advice is as relevant as ever.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and Google+.

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The 5 Types of Prospects You Meet Online, and How to Sell to Each of Them

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If you’re producing content to promote your services, physical products, or digital offerings, obviously you want a return on investment for the time and effort you put in.

On the other hand, you’ve probably noticed that if you spend all your time relentlessly selling, you’ll alienate a good portion of your prospective audience.

The tricky problem for content producers is that various readers are at different awareness levels, depending on how long they’ve been reading and how much exposure you’ve provided to your offer.

And the way you approach your offer will change, depending on which stage your prospect happens to be in.

I was reminded by John Forde of Copywriter’s Roundtable that this is not a new problem.

Jack pointed out that Eugene Schwartz tackled this in Breakthrough Advertising back in 1966. Schwartz broke down prospect awareness into five distinct phases:

1. The Most Aware: Your prospect knows your product, and only needs to know “the deal.”

2. Product-Aware: Your prospect knows what you sell, but isn’t sure it’s right for him.

3. Solution-Aware: Your prospect knows the result he wants, but not that your product provides it.

4. Problem-Aware: Your prospect senses he has a problem, but doesn’t know there’s a solution.

5. Completely Unaware: No knowledge of anything except, perhaps, his own identity or opinion.

As usual, we often find that the “new” challenges we face in marketing have already been thought through decades before by bright people like Schwartz and David Ogilvy.

That means we don’t dive into directly selling to every audience member who finds our content. Instead, we use a variety of strategies — both direct and indirect — to make a case for the offer when the time is right.

Let’s take a look at how the five stages of awareness contained in a 40-year-old book can help you craft content that works for your marketing goals.

The five stages of reader awareness

1. The Most Aware

These are long-time readers who aren’t customers yet. These are the ones you can speak most directly with, but you’ll need to make sure that those direct messages are not hurting your chances with those at different awareness levels.

Strategies: Take these readers “off road” for periodic offer specific messages delivered via another channel, such as a high quality email newsletter. You can also do occasional offer announcement posts in between regular content, or tack on a P.S. to a relevant article.

2. Product-Aware

These people are still not sure if what you offer is right for them, even though you’ve educated them about it with some creative content marketing. They don’t want to be pummeled with offer information, because they’re hung up at an earlier stage of the conversion process.

Strategies: If your content hasn’t made your case for you, you probably need to shape your content to more fully address prospect questions and objections. (Again, the email autoresponder is an excellent tool for this.) As always the key is to deliver real content with independent value that also demonstrates a benefit of your offer … with a link, of course, to a well-crafted landing page at the end.

3. Solution-Aware

This person has a need, perhaps subscribes to your blog, but doesn’t yet know you offer a solution to their problem.

This is where content marketing will shine for you. This is the perfect person to offer a white paper, free report, multi-post tutorial delivered by email, webinar, or other high-value content.

Strategies: Be sure you’re engaging this reader’s attention, normally via an opt-in email list, so you can let them know about everything you have to offer. Keep the ratio of content to offers high, to keep their interest and build rapport.

4. Problem-Aware

This person knows they have a problem … but they don’t know you. They haven’t yet been convinced to subscribe to your blog and begin a relationship with you. They might have arrived via a search engine or through a social media channel. The key point is they don’t yet know or trust you.

Strong content with independent value is critical to everyone in your audience, but it’s these people who most need to see the value up front to get on board as a subscriber.

Strategies: We’ve covered this topic quite a bit, so if you’re a new reader, check out these resources:

5. Completely Unaware

This is your typical social media news traffic, the kind that might come in from Twitter or Pinterest.

They aren’t necessarily looking for anything about you or your offer … they’re just responding to a piece of content you put out.

This is why I don’t favor link baiting with off-topic content. Sure, you get backlinks, and that’s good. But wouldn’t it be better if you got links and boosted your audience too?

Strategies: When you’re creating content that is specifically designed to attract attention and links, keep it related to your ultimate goals. Traffic just for the sake of traffic is a waste of time when you’re selling something other than ads — and the advertising game is a tough one to win online.

Value first

No matter what stage you find your prospect, the content that attracts audiences in the first place has to offer value — it’s as simple as that. Pitching relentlessly from your content platform is a business-killing error for most (if not all) of us.

Again, you’re creating content in the first place to promote your business, and there’s no reason to be shy about that fact. But if your posts don’t offer independent value (telling more than selling), you’ll lose your audience’s trust … and that means that soon, you won’t have much of an audience at all.

Editor’s Note: This is a Copyblogger Classic post, originally published in October, 2007. We’ll be republishing classic content from the archives from time to time, updated — as this post has been — to be sure the advice is as relevant as ever.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger, CEO of Copyblogger Media, and Editor-in-Chief of Entreproducer. Get more from Brian on Google+.

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