Tag Archive | "Smart"

Why There Are Only A Few Times When It Is Smart To Start A Second Business

 [ Download MP3 | Transcript | iTunes | Soundcloud | Raw RSS ] A friend of mine in Vancouver called me up to do a mastermind session to help him deal with a situation in his business. This particular situation is one I think a lot of entrepreneurs run…

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Google Tests ‘Smart Reply,’ Sends Contextual Replies to All Your Favorite Chat Apps

Replying to common messages received via your Android device will soon be a lot easier. Google is developing an app that will give you a selection of preformatted responses allowing you to reply with just one click of a button.

The new project is aptly named “Reply,” which can be viewed as the mobile version of Google’s Smart Reply feature that is available in Gmail and Allo. The upcoming app, which will be initially available to Android users, will use artificial intelligence to automatically create response suggestions to inbound messages.

The “Reply” app aims to enable users to make faster responses to simple questions instead of typing out the entirety of their replies. For instance, users will be given the reply options “Yes,” “No,” or “I am here” when they receive questions such as “Are you at the restaurant?” or “When can you be home?” The AI-powered app will also take into account your current location when crafting an appropriate response.

[Image via Android Police]

The app is currently in development by Google’s Area 120 team. However, the company does not plan on limiting the useful feature only to its messaging apps. The team announced that the plan is for the upcoming app to work with other mainstream messaging apps.

In fact, it’s not necessary to change apps to enjoy the convenience of the upcoming “Reply” app at all. The Area 120 team is aiming for the app to have support among major messaging apps such as Hangouts, Allo, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Android Messages, Skype, Twitter DMs, and Slack.

Aside from offering reply suggestions, the “Reply” app will also introduce other smart features. It comes with a Do Not Disturb mode which can be particularly useful when you are driving as it will silence your smartphone and automatically send a responses message saying that you can’t chat at the moment. 

At the moment, Team 120 is not disclosing any launch date estimate.

[Featured image via Pixabay]

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Survey: Smart speaker ownership steals time from smartphones, TV, radio

The study suggests there are about 40 million devices in US homes today.

The post Survey: Smart speaker ownership steals time from smartphones, TV, radio appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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SearchCap: Google AMP requirements, AdWords promotion extensions & smart speakers

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Google AMP requirements, AdWords promotion extensions & smart speakers appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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The Bold and the Stressful: Smart Ways to Make a Big Move

Sometimes, you just have to muster your courage and do something Big. It might mean making a brave statement with your content, or creating a splash by launching something new and amazing. On Monday, Brian Clark shared a strategy for telling a more gripping story by using the framing power of contrast. And he showed
Read More…

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Building a Community of Advocates Through Smart Content

Posted by Michelle_LeBlanc

From gentle criticism to full-on trolls, every brand social media page or community sometimes faces pushback. Maybe you’ve seen it happen. Perhaps you’ve even laughed along as a corporation makes a condescending misstep or a local business publishes a glaring typo. It’s the type of thing that keeps social media and community managers up at night. Will I be by my phone to respond if someone needs customer service help? Will I know what to write if our brand comes under fire? Do we have a plan for dealing with this?

Advocates are a brand’s best friend

In my years of experience developing communities and creating social media content, I’ve certainly been there. I won’t try to sell you a magic elixir that makes that anxiety go away, but I’ve witnessed a phenomenon that can take the pressure off. Before you can even begin to frame a response as the brand, someone comes out of the woodwork and does it for you. Defending, opening up a conversation, or perhaps deflecting with humor, these individuals bring an authenticity to the response that no brand could hope to capture. They are true advocates, and they are perhaps the most valuable assets a company could have.

But how do you get them?

Having strong brand advocates can help insulate your brand from crisis, lead to referring links and positive media coverage, AND help you create sustainable, authentic content for your brand. In this blog post, I’ll explore a few case studies and strategies for developing these advocates, building user-generated content programs around them, and turning negative community perceptions into open dialogue.

Case study 1: Employee advocates can counter negative perceptions

To start, let’s talk about negative community perceptions. Almost every company deals with this to one degree or another.

In the trucking industry, companies deal with negative perceptions not just of their individual company, but also of the industry as a whole. You may not be aware of this, but our country needs approximately 3.5 million truck drivers to continue shipping daily supplies like food, medicine, deals from Amazon, and everything else you’ve come to expect in your local stores and on your doorstep. The industry regularly struggles to find enough drivers. Older drivers are retiring from the field, while younger individuals may be put off by a job that requires weeks away from home. Drivers that are committed to the industry may change jobs frequently, chasing the next hiring bonus or better pay rate.

How does a company counter these industry-wide challenges and also stand out as an employer from every other firm in the field?

Using video content, Facebook groups, and podcasts to create employee advocates

For one such company, we looked to current employees to become brand advocates in marketing materials and on social media. The HR and internal communications team had identified areas of potential for recruitment — e.g. separating military, women — and we worked with them to identify individuals that represented these niche characteristics, as well as the values that the company wanted to align themselves with: safety, long-term tenure with the company, affinity for the profession, etc. We then looked for opportunities to tell these individuals’ stories in a way that was authentic, reflected current organic social media trends, and provided opportunities for dialogue.

In one instance, we developed a GoPro-shot, vlog-style video program around two female drivers that featured real-life stories and advice from the road. By working behind the scenes with these drivers, we were able to coach them into being role models for our brand advocate program, modeling company values in media/PR coverage and at live company events.

One driver participated in an industry-media live video chat where she took questions from the audience, and later she participated in a Facebook Q&A on behalf of the brand as well. It was our most well-attended and most engaged Q&A to date. Other existing and potential drivers saw these individuals becoming the heroes of the brand’s stories and, feeling welcomed to the dialogue by one of their own, became more engaged with other marketing activities as a result. These activities included:

  • A monthly call-in/podcast show where drivers could ask questions directly of senior management. We found that once a driver had participated in this forum, they were much more likely to stay with the company — with a 90% retention rate!
  • A private Facebook group where very vocal and very socially active employees could have a direct line to the company’s driver advocate to express opinions and ask questions. In addition to giving these individuals a dedicated space to communicate, this often helped us identify trends and issues before they became larger problems.
  • A contest to nominate military veterans within the company to become a brand spokesperson in charge of driving a military-themed honorary truck. By allowing anyone to submit a nomination for a driver, this contest helped us discover and engage members of the audience that were perhaps less likely to put themselves forward out of modesty or lack of esteem for their own accomplishments. We also grew our email list, gained valuable insights about the individuals involved, and were able to better communicate with more of this “lurker” group.

By combining these social media activities with traditional PR pitching around the same themes, we continued to grow brand awareness as a whole and build an array of positive links back to the company.

When it comes to brand advocates, sometimes existing employees simply need to be invited in and engaged in a way that appeals to their own intrinsic motivations — perhaps a sense of belonging or achievement. For many employee-based audiences, social media engagement with company news or industry trends is already happening and simply needs to be harnessed and directed by the brand for better effect.

But what about when it comes to individuals that have no financial motivation to promote a brand? At the other end of the brand advocate spectrum from employees are those who affiliate themselves with a cause. They may donate money or volunteer for a specific organization, but when it comes down to it, they don’t have inherent loyalty to one group and can easily go from engaged to enraged.

Case study 2: UGC can turn volunteers into advocates

One nonprofit client that we have the privilege of working with dealt with this issue on a regular basis. Beyond misunderstandings about their funding sources or operations, they occasionally faced backlash about their core mission on social media. After all, for any nonprofit or cause out there, it’s easy to point to two or ten others that may be seen as “more worthy,” depending on your views. In addition, the nature of their cause tended to attract a lot of attention in the holiday giving period, with times of low engagement through the rest of the year.

Crowdsourcing user-generated content for better engagement

To counter this and better engage the audience year-round, we again looked for opportunities to put individual faces and stories at the forefront of marketing materials.

In this case, we began crowdsourcing user-generated content through monthly contesting programs during the organization’s “off” months. Photos submitted during the contests could be used as individual posts on social media or remixed across videos, blog posts, or as a starting point for further conversation and promotion development with the individuals. As Facebook was the primary promotion point for these contests, they attracted those who were already highly engaged with the organization and its page. During the initial two-month program, the Facebook page gained 16,660 new fans with no associated paid promotion, accounting for 55% of total page Likes in the first half of 2016.

Perhaps even more importantly, the organization was able to save on internal labor in responding to complaints or negative commentary on posts as even more individuals began adding their own positive comments. The organization’s community manager was able to institute a policy of waiting to respond after any negative post, allowing the brand advocates time to chime in with a more authentic, volunteer-driven voice.

By inviting their most passionate supporters more deeply into the fold and giving them the space and trust to communicate, the organization may have lost some measure of control over the details of the message, but they gained support and understanding on a deeper level. These individuals not only influenced others within the social media pages of the organization, but also frequently shared content and tagged friends, acting as influencers and bringing others into the fold.

How you can make it work for your audience

As you can see, regardless of industry, building a brand advocate program often starts with identifying your most passionate supporters and finding a way to appeal to their existing habits, interests, and motivations — then building content programs that put those goals at the forefront. Marketing campaigns featuring paid influencers can be fun and can certainly achieve rapid awareness and reach, but they will never be able to counter the lasting value of an authentic advocate, particularly when it comes to countering criticism or improving the perceived status of your brand or industry.

To get started, you can follow a few quick tips:

  • Understand your existing community.
    • Take a long look at your active social audience and try to understand who those people are: Employees? Customers?
    • Ask yourself what motivates them to participate in dialogue and how can you provide more of that.
  • Work behind the scenes.
    • Send private messages and emails, or pick up the phone and speak with a few audience members.
    • Getting a few one-on-one insights can be incredibly helpful in content planning and inspiring your strategy.
    • By reaching out individually, you really make people feel special. That’s a great step towards earning their advocacy.
  • Think: Where else can I use this?
    • Your advocates and their contributions are valuable. Make sure you take advantage of that value!
    • Reuse content in multiple formats or invite them to participate in new ways.
    • Someone who provides a testimonial might be able to act as a source for your PR team, as well.

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Practical Strategies for Smart Content Creators

Practical Strategies for Smart Content Creators

On Monday, Jerod Morris explained how he’s leveraging those impressive new-dad time management skills to get more efficient at content creation. He walked us through a great way to take a single strong idea and turn it into multiple formats, without spending a ton of time.

On Tuesday, Brian Clark showed exactly how to build a content strategy for a business or project … demonstrating how he’d approach a specific persona with a specific sequence of relevant, useful messages. Twenty bonus points if you can catch the incredibly subtle promotion he works in there …

And on Wednesday, I wrote about the magical powers of doing your homework. It may not sound sexy, but when you approach influencers or companies and they don’t curse at you and mark you as a spammer, you’ll find out how sexy homework can be.

Over on the Copyblogger FM podcast, I talked about what I suspect was behind that spectacular United Airlines fail the other week … as well as the genius moves from Pepsi and Nivea.

Your winning difference is the reason people do business with you and not someone else — it sets you apart and makes you the only real choice for the right people. And you reflect that difference with your content marketing.

So, how do you find your winning difference?

On Unemployable, Brian shared three different five-minute exercises that will shake loose an idea that works for your content marketing efforts.

Hope you enjoy all the good stuff, and we’ll catch you next week!

— Sonia Simone

Chief Content Officer, Rainmaker Digital


Catch up on this week’s content


this is how you increase the likelihood of reaching new audience members with your best workQuality Over Quantity: Repurpose Your Best Ideas and Distribute Them Far and Wide

by Jerod Morris


content marking is broader than email marketing, but your email list remains your core focusHow Strategic Content Converts to Email Subscriptions and Sales

by Brian Clark


I can’t tell you how many cold sales emails I get from people who demonstrate they have no idea what my company does3 Ways to Get What You Want by Doing Your Homework

by Sonia Simone


How to Do Simple PPC Advertising for Your Online BusinessHow to Do Simple PPC Advertising for Your Online Business

by Sean Jackson & Jessica Frick


The Painful Core Lesson Taught by 3 Astonishing Big-Brand FailsThe Painful Core Lesson Taught by 3 Astonishing Big-Brand Fails

by Sonia Simone


How Hugo Award Winning Sci-Fi Author John Scalzi Writes: Part TwoHow Hugo Award Winning Sci-Fi Author John Scalzi Writes: Part Two

by Kelton Reid


Are You Doing Enough with Your Best Ideas?Are You Doing Enough with Your Best Ideas?

by Jerod Morris & Jon Nastor


The Essential Guide to Hacking the Growth of Your Online BusinessThe Essential Guide to Hacking the Growth of Your Online Business

by Sean Jackson & Jessica Frick


How to Find Your Winning DifferenceHow to Find Your Winning Difference

by Brian Clark


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The Smart and Simple Framework for Finding the Right Pricing Model for Your Membership Site

don't guess! discover the pricing model that works

Building profitable membership sites is one thing we know a lot about at Rainmaker Digital, and one question we often receive is:

How do you create the right pricing for a membership site, especially one that is just launching?

Even sophisticated online entrepreneurs struggle with that question.

And while there are many ways to optimize your pricing plans once your site is launched, starting with the right foundation will make it easier to improve.

In this post, I will walk you through a basic framework you can use to determine the best pricing models for any type of membership site.

Rule #1

The most important rule you must remember is this:

You are in control of your pricing.

There is no national database of pricing that you have to follow. You are in control of everything when it comes to pricing — so don’t feel like you have to do what everyone else does.

Yes, the “market” does decide if your price is “right.” But you influence the perception of your price through the unique value you offer.

So toss out any preconceived notions of what you have to do and focus on what works for you.

Know your costs

I know what you are thinking right now:

“Damn it, Sean. I am a marketer, not an accountant.”

Don’t worry. You just need a “bare bones” understanding of basic math and a little logic to find your costs, so that your site will “live long and prosper.”

All membership sites share a common set of annual costs, including:

  • Credit card or PayPal fees
  • Hosting costs
  • Platform costs
  • Time spent on customer service
  • Time spent on contributing to the site

You should think of your costs as the money you spend to fulfill the customer’s purchase.

And these costs are different from expenses.

An expense is the money you spend to run your business.

Typical expenses include:

  • Sales and marketing: the money you spend on promoting your products and services, including affiliate commissions, advertising, or content marketing
  • Research and development: the money you spend on building your membership site, developing content for the site, or educating yourself on digital commerce
  • General administration: expenses like your internet connection, rent, or accountant

Expenses are not costs even though you spend money on them.

Why is this distinction important?

Unless you identify your costs, it makes it very hard to determine your profit. Profit is defined as your revenue less your costs and before you pay any expenses.

And as a general rule of thumb, a membership site should generate a profit margin between 90 percent – 75 percent.

Or put another way, for every $ 100 you collect in revenue, your costs should be $ 10 – $ 25, netting you a profit of $ 90 – $ 75 per sale.

An example of membership site costs

Let’s say that for a year, you estimate your costs as follows:

  • $ 12,000 on credit card fees
  • $ 1,500 for your Rainmaker Platform site (includes hosting)
  • $ 6,500 for a part-time assistant to handle customer service questions
  • $ 80,000 for you to manage and contribute to the membership site

Based on these items, your total costs are $ 100,000 per year, before you pay for any expenses. And if your costs are 10 percent – 25 percent of your total revenue, your target revenue is between $ 400,000 and $ 1,000,000 per year.

Your profit will be between $ 300,000 and $ 900,000 per year.

membership site profit example

That’s a lot of money, but don’t get too excited yet.

You will still need to pay for your affiliate commissions, advertising, and any other expenses you incur to operate your business — and that comes out of your profit.

Now that we have covered your costs, let’s get to work on pricing your different membership categories and offers.

Create an anchor offer

An anchor offer is the most expensive membership type you sell.

For example, your anchor offer could include telephone consulting, personalized daily emails, and/or exclusive access to webinars, conferences, or other high-touch events.

Basically, it is the offer you would give to someone that includes everything you would ever want to provide to a person willing to pay you a huge premium.

The good news is that very few people, if anyone, will buy it because it is so expensive!

So, why create it?

By creating a very high-priced offer, you anchor the expectations of website visitors for your lower-priced offerings. Your goal with your anchor offer is to create an emotional desire for it, knowing that most people can’t afford it.

Luxury brands use this tactic all the time.

Buying a luxury car? The most expensive ones are in the showroom. Want a deluxe coffee maker? They show you the $ 5,000 model first, before they show you the $ 500 one.

When you create your anchor offer, you set the expectation of quality in the mind of your customer, even though they will probably buy your lower-priced membership.

Next, create two lower-priced offers

Once you’ve defined and priced your anchor product, you can create two other offers or categories for your members.

Why just two? To avoid analysis paralysis.

The first offer you need to create is the lowest price for a membership to your site — ideally between 10 percent and 25 perfect of the price for your anchor offer.

This low-priced offer should meet the basic needs and wants of your customer, including some, but not all, of the features and attributes of the anchor offer.

The second membership category is the mid-tier offer that is priced between the low price and your expensive anchor offer. It should have more benefits and features than your low-priced offer and is generally priced between 30 percent and 49 percent of your anchor offer.

So, let’s say your anchor offer is priced at $ 97 per month, and you want your lowest-priced offer at 20 percent and your mid-tier offer at 40 percent.

Your lowest price will be $ 19 per month and your mid-tier price will be $ 39 per month.

Pretty easy, right?

But now comes the real question …

Can you afford your customers?

We started this article with a basic discussion about costs, but we did not determine if those costs are sufficient to run your membership site.

This is where a little math and a basic rule of thumb can help.

In general, the average revenue per member you will receive from a membership site will be between your lowest-priced offer and your mid-tier offer.

For example, if your lowest price is $ 19/month and your mid-tier price is $ 39/month, then your average revenue per member will be around $ 29/month.

Let’s look back on our costs. We identified $ 100,000 of costs per year and we want to target $ 400,000 per year in revenue. That means that every month we need to generate $ 33,333 in revenue ($ 400,000/12 months).

If the average revenue per customer is $ 29/month, then we just need to divide our target monthly revenue ($ 33,333) by the average monthly revenue per customer ($ 29) to find the number of customers you need:

$ 33,333 / $ 29 = 1,149 customers per month

Now you want to ask yourself:

Does your $ 100,000 in annual costs allow you to support 1,149 members per month?

If the answer is “yes,” then you are good to go.

If the answer is “no,” then you either need to increase your pricing or lower your costs.

Get all the details in this SlideShare presentation

Your head might be spinning right about now, but we want to make it easy for you.

Here’s a SlideShare deck that breaks down all of the information above:

Learn about profitable membership sites each week

We have a new podcast called Members Only that helps you not only develop the pricing model for your membership site but also gives you the tactics and techniques you need to grow a profitable online business.

Every week, Jessica Frick and I provide an entertaining format to discuss the challenges online entrepreneurs face with ideas that you can implement to improve your own site.

So, if you are serious about running and growing a profitable membership site, we hope that you will tune in.

And since the show is free, we know the price is right.

Subscribe Now to Listen

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Build Landing Pages that Convert with These 3 Smart Steps

step by step for landing pages that convert

It was May 2015, and I was sitting in the audience at Rainmaker Digital’s Authority Rainmaker conference in Denver, Colorado.

Sonia Simone was about to give a presentation called “Dr. Evil’s Guide to Landing Page Design and Optimization,” and I was excited to learn from one of my personal copywriting heroes.

At the time, I was familiar with certain landing page “rules” — like writing compelling headlines, testing different button colors, and eliminating distracting design elements — but other than that, writing the copy seemed like some magical activity.

But that day at the conference, Sonia broke down the entire landing page creation process into a few straightforward steps.

I had an epiphany in the middle of her talk as she gave us guidelines for writing landing pages, including the three main goals your landing page should accomplish.

Read on to find out about Sonia’s three steps and how to use them to create landing pages that convert.

What is a landing page?

Before we go over Sonia’s guidelines, let’s do a quick refresher on the term “landing page.”

A landing page is any page on your site where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result.

The goal is to persuade your prospect to take actions like:

  • Sign up for a free account
  • Opt in to receive a free autoresponder course
  • Sign up to download a free report
  • Join your paid membership site
  • Buy your product
  • Purchase a consulting package

First identify the singular goal of your landing page. Once you’ve got that, you’re ready to roll with the following three steps.

Step #1: Present your offer

If you’re giving away a free autoresponder course or free series of downloadable interviews, make that clear. If you’re selling a product or service, explain exactly what it is.

Where to put this element

Don’t wait to state your offer; make it explicit immediately. Often, you can write exactly what you’re offering in the headline of your landing page.

If you decide not to include the offer in your headline, place it close to the top of the page. People need to know what you’re offering right away, so don’t bury the lede.

Step #2: Explain how the offer will help your prospect

Why should your prospect care about your autoresponder course, downloadable interviews, or paid product? What exactly is it going to do for them?

Describe the main benefits of your offer — and remember the difference between features and benefits before you write this copy for your landing page.

Where to put this element

Subheads and bullet points are both great spots for spelling out the benefits of your offer. Otherwise, use short paragraphs for your copy.

Step #3: Clearly state what your prospect should do next

Many landing pages fall flat here. You must explain exactly what you want the prospect to do next.

This part of the copy is called the “call to action” for a reason. You are prompting the reader to take a particular action, and if you leave any ambiguity, you’ll likely confuse people and lose conversions.

Whether you need the prospect to click a button, fill out a form, or make a phone call, explain the action as clearly as you can. Your job here is to eliminate all possibility of confusion in your prospect’s mind.

Where to put this element

Powerful calls to action can appear in a number of places on your landing page. Select the most appropriate spots for your call to action text throughout the page as well as at the very end of the page.

For example, if you need the reader to click a big, red button, put your call to action right above that button. If appropriate, you can also include an alternative version of your call to action on the button itself.

Other elements to consider when creating landing pages

Once you’ve built the foundation of your landing page with the three steps above, you’ve got the basics covered! Now you can start testing different copy variations and design elements.

You can test:

  • Headline options
  • Long copy vs. short copy
  • Button color and text
  • How you describe benefits
  • The layout of the page

Master the art of creating landing pages that convert

If you’re looking for additional ways to test and fine-tune your landing page, check out Copyblogger’s free ebook, Landing Pages: How to Turn Traffic into Money. It’s nearly 50 pages of landing page tips and techniques you can start using right away.

If you’ve been feeling hesitant to write the copy for your landing page, pull out a blank sheet of paper and get to work using the three smart steps above. You’ll love having your own landing page epiphany!

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The Smart Step To Make When You Do Not Know What To Sell Yet

The Best Product Test When You Do Not Know If People Will Buy… In the last few years I have paid a lot of attention to the world of startups, in particular technology companies. During this time two concepts popped up as mantras of every new tech entrepreneur –  "Lean"…

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Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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