How To Increase Sales Revenue by 154% Without Effort (Case Study Results)

How To Increase Sales Revenue by 154% Without Effort (Case Study Results)

increase salesGrowing your business requires that you find ways to increase your sales revenue. That’s foundational. New sales are the lifeblood of every business. So I want to show you what we did to get a 154% increase in monthly new sales revenue by making one simple change.

And it made my sales process easier than ever.

The best part?

Much of the sales process is now on autopilot. And we’re continuing to experience even greater growth over time (since this study). That’s because the solution has growth and continual improvement built into it. Again, this was all done without adding complex processes and effort.

And in this case study, I’m going to show you exactly what we did and the step-by-step process we implemented to hit this incredible sales growth.

The Day I Realized That Sales Shouldn’t Be Difficult

Since the day I started Fistbump Media, I’ve racked my brain to figure out how to drive more sales. I’ve studied sales processes, funnels, online tactics, and several dozen tools that are supposed to help me grow my business.

I’ve learned over time that one of the most important assets you have is your database of leads and customers. Success in sales growth is a direct result of how you leverage all of that customer (and potential customer) data. So that means you need a good customer relationship management (CRM) tool to manage all of that information.

Over the years, I’ve tried lots of them. I even launched an extensive conversation on LinkedIn to see if I could find some good ones, which lead to one that I tried for a full year before giving up.

The problem was that none of it made my sales process easy to manage. Not did they really help me grow. It just always felt like a herculean effort to get manage the process.

That’s when I decided to switch to the HubSpot CRM.

HubSpot

I’ve always loved their (free) e-courses, and every glimpse I’ve gotten of the tools just made it look super easy to manage. And that’s what I was looking for. A simple tool that could help me grow.

So I made the leap.

And I was surprised at what happened next…

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An Immediate Increase In New Leads (and Sales)

Over the two year period, I used two different CRMs. The first 12 months was with a CRM I found through extensive research. I’ll keep it nameless, because it’s not my goal to diminish it as a tool. It was pretty standard as far as CRM tools are concerned, and it had plenty of nice features. Then I switched to HubSpot and tracked the same progress over the next 12 months.

During this time, my overall marketing approach hadn’t changed significantly. I only used what the tools offered to me.

For the time frame covered, it’s worth noting the change in traffic to our website. The numbers are all monthly averages, with the “before” numbers covering the time using the old CRM and the “after” numbers covering the time using the HubSpot CRM.

New Users (Website): Before

New Users (Website): After

%

Difference

The increase here really had nothing to do with the CRM use itself. I attribute it mostly to ongoing returns from our search engine optimization efforts over time. 

It’s worth noting this number so that we can understand the differences in other numbers we monitored over this period.

Another increase we experienced was with the average number of new incoming leads per month. 

New Leads: Before

New Leads: After

%

Difference

As you can see, then number of new leads coming in each month increased at a higher rate than that of the website traffic. The web-to-lead conversion rate increased from 3.2% with the old CRM up to 4% with HubSpot.

I attribute that increase to the ways HubSpot integrates into my WordPress website compared to other CRM tools. I’ll cover this in more detail shortly, but HubSpot is certainly better at helping me capture visitor information and bringing them into the CRM as leads.

It’s also important to note that part of the time HubSpot leads we’re being tracked included February and March of 2020, as the Coronavirus pandemic was starting to impact everything. With all of the uncertainty individuals and businesses encountered, we went through a 6-week period with only one new incoming lead. So the difference is actually more extreme if we just considered “ordinary” months.

The next change we experienced was with the average number of new orders (sales) closed on average.

New Orders: Before

New Orders: After

%

Difference

The increase with sales closed is nearly identical to the percentage increase in new leads because our close rate stayed pretty consistent. We didn’t really change much with the actual sales process, so the increase in leads basically increased sales at the same rate.

But one thing that was interesting was the increase in the dollar value of the average sale.

Avg Order ($): Before

Avg Order ($): After

%

Difference

Over this period of time, we did not add products or change prices significantly. 

The biggest difference was the fluidity of our sales process. With HubSpot’s WordPress integration, we had better insight into what leads were doing on our website. The extra data points helped us to better position products and even offer upgrades that clients might be interested in. In the end, we saw higher-dollar sales orders closing.

Following this through, more sales closing at higher dollar figures meant that we saw a significant increase in total new revenue per month.

New Revenue ($): Before

New Revenue ($): After

%

Difference

With these figures, I’m not estimating ongoing/recurring revenue. I’m only tracking the initial order. 

In the end, we experienced a significant lift in revenue growth by switching from another highly rated CRM to the HubSpot CRM. And we did that without doing more marketing or making changes to our sales process. Ultimately, it’s just a case of how a better tool can make a huge difference.

How exactly did we do that? Keep reading to see how you can increase sales like this too…

The 3-Steps To Increase Sales With the HubSpot CRM

The implementation of HubSpot and accomplishing this kind of growth involved three main phases. Each step required little effort but carried a high impact. This is what we did…

  • Step #1: Migrate existing contacts and set up the CRM
  • Step #2: Integrate with your existing website and email tools
  • Step #3: Optimize and build out lead management processes

Here’s why this was so effective (and easy to implement)…

First, migrating our existing contacts into HubSpot allows you to start right away with improving your marketing and sales processes. No matter where you currently manage your contacts, you should be able to export them in a basic (CSV) spreadsheet, which can be imported directly into HubSpot.

HubSpot makes the process so simple, I believe I had all of my contacts from our previous CRM imported within about 10 minutes.

It’s not a complicated setup, allowing you to start realizing impact almost immediately.

Second, the integration process with our existing website and email tools via a WordPress plugin and Chrome browser extension (for Gmail) allowed us to start tracking contact activity immediately.

The total setup for both of these integrations took just a few minutes. The immediate tracking capabilities it brought instantly improved our insight into what our contacts were doing based on our efforts.

You can start making better decisions and having more meaningful conversations with your contacts right away.

Third, optimizing and building out your lead management efforts flows naturally with insights provided by HubSpot tools and reporting. Plus it offers tips to help you understand how you can improve every communication you have with your contacts.

You don’t have to take complex sales training courses or implement new techniques to improve your sales.

Honestly, you’ll get better at selling just by using the tools built right into HubSpot.

HubSpot

Step #1: Migrate Existing Contacts and Set up The CRM

If you already have any kind of list or database of contacts (customers and/or leads), then that’s the best place to start. With contacts in your database, you can start implementing your lead management strategy right away.

With your existing customers, you’ll be able to build up a better ongoing communication strategy. Just because a contact bought something from you once doesn’t mean they no longer have value. They can be a great source for both future sales and referrals. Keeping in touch with them is a key piece to developing that strategy.

If you have existing leads you’ve gathered, then beginning to manage them in HubSpot will give you some great tools to manage them better. Things like email and website activity tracking will give you much better insight into how you can position your products. And positioning your products well can result in higher close rates and higher revenue per order.

The process is simple…

increase sales, hubspot crm

In a nutshell, get your data into a spreadsheet (existing systems should allow you to export your information into a CSV-format spreadsheet). And then upload that spreadsheet to HubSpot. The process will give you the opportunity to match up fields (so phone number goes to a phone number field, etc), and create custom fields for more specific data that you like to manage with your contacts.

If you need to create your own list from scratch, then HubSpot has a spreadsheet template you can use.

And I mentioned how great HubSpot’s e-courses are… they also have a great (and short) course on how to get your data into the HubSpot CRM, complete with video walk-thru help on everything in the process.

Depending on how you currently manage your data, this process can take as little as a few minutes. Then you can start to increase sales revenue right away. More on exactly how to do that in a moment…

Step #2: Integrate With Existing Website and Email Tools

The next step will almost instantly help you increase the number of leads you’re capturing.

If you’re running a self-hosted WordPress website, then HubSpot’s WordPress plugin is a simple way to integrate the power of HubSpot into your website. Not only will you be able to access your HubSpot CRM dashboard and tools directly in your website’s WordPress Dashboard, but you’ll also be able to:

  • Easily add HubSpot forms to your website
  • Capture data from non-HubSpot forms as leads in the CRM
  • Add website chat tools to your website (which also turns new chat contacts into leads in your CRM)

increase sales, hubspot wordpress

To add the HubSpot plugin to your WordPress website:

  1. Download the HubSpot plugin for WordPress
  2. Upload (and activate) the plugin to your WordPress website
  3. Log in to your HubSpot account through the plugin settings on your website

That’s it! And while there is a lot you can do to optimize this over time, this will help you start capturing leads right away.

The other big integration you should set up right away is the email integration. We use Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) for our email (and other functions). And HubSpot has a free app to connect your Gmail to your HubSpot account. There are also apps available for Outlook (and other email tools), if you don’t use Google Workspace.

The email integration is going to do two main things for you:

  • It brings your contact information from HubSpot into your email inbox
  • It adds some great tools to your email to help with managing and tracking contact activities

increase sales, hubspot gmail integration

The email tools will not only increase the impact of your email communications, but it also decreases your effort by automatically connecting and logging the email conversations on your contact records in the CRM.

To add this, simply grab the extension from the HubSpot App Marketplace, or get the extension from the Chrome Web Store.

Both of these integrations will immediately supercharge your lead capture and management efforts. The next step is to start optimizing to help you get the most out of the HubSpot CRM…

Step #3: Optimize and Build Out Lead Management Process

This next step is more of an ongoing process, as opposed to a one-time setup step. Ultimately, it’s great to have fully-developed automated email sequences. But if you don’t have that now, you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed with trying to create them from scratch.

The way we’ve approached it is to just build in a process of continual improvement. In fact, even where we’ve built those sequences, we’re continually working to improve them.

This approach allows you to start reaping rewards and increase sales revenue right away, with little effort. And improving it over time means that you’ll always be growing.

Here are some of the core guidelines we followed to realize our growth (and continue to see even more as we continue to evaluate and implement improvements)…

1. Start communicating with existing customers regularly

One of the sources of sales is customers who have already said “yes” to you previously. So an important part of your strategy should include keeping yourself visible with those existing customers.

Don’t just assume that they are always thinking about you. You need to keep yourself top of mind with them. And it’s not about “selling” to them constantly. All you need to do is just share what’s going on with them.

In HubSpot, we’ve started sending a once-per-month client newsletter. In it, we share things like:

  • Company updates relevant and of interest to customers (i.e. system enhancements designed to make their interaction with us easier, etc.)
  • New product and service launches
  • Tips and tricks to manage their services better
  • Customer service related resources
  • New and trending blog and webinar content

Sharing these updates regularly has resulted in higher engagement with our content, more appointments booked, and better (and more) reviews from our customers.

And with HubSpot, it’s simple to create your newsletter using built-in and customizable templates. Then just clone your previous email each month and make a few updates to the content. Putting together the newsletter each month takes about 15 minutes, and returns some great results!

increase sales, HubSpot email templates

2. Develop email flows with new leads

Eventually, having well-formed automated email sequences is the way to go. It’s going to be a far more efficient way of managing communications with incoming leads. However, when we made the switch to HubSpot, we simply didn’t have them. We tried developing them in previous CRMs. We just never for the traction to see them return good results.

That’s why it’s best to take a growth-driven approach.

As new leads come in, I would respond to each one individually by email. Then, with each email I sent, I would create a follow-up task in HubSpot to trigger me to send my next email.

increase sales, hubspot email

Then I would monitor my task list for follow-ups that needed to happen each day. And as I worked on the tasks, I would review the contact’s activity to help me refine how I would focus my next email. Did they open the previous email? Did they click on any links? What pages did they visit on the website as a result?

After working the leads this way over a period of time, I started to get a good feel for what I got a pretty good feel for what was working well(and what wasn’t). Then I basically copied my best efforts into an email sequence that I could start using for future leads.

Using this approach, not only did I simplify my email automation development, but I also realized some great results…

  • The email open rate on our sequences is steadily over 60% (industry standard is 15-25%)
  • The click-thru rate runs over 7% on average (industry standard is 2.5%)

Even with strong rates like that, we monitor ways to continue to improve on that too!

3. Follow the data

This is where some of the greatest power comes in. The information available to help you see how your efforts are trending, and help you make better decisions, is at your fingertips.

The best part is that it’s not presented in a confusing or overwhelming way. So you don’t need to be a data scientist to figure out what you’re looking at. Here are a few ways you can use the data and reporting to improve your efforts over time…

  • Which emails are working best? You’ll see open rates for your emails, which tells you how effective your email subject lines are. And you’ll see click activity in your emails so you know what’s driving people to action. I’ve looked at emails with high click-thru rates and applied those practices to emails with low click-thru rates. In the end, it’s raising the impact of all of my emails.
  • Which marketing channels are working for you? Determine the effectiveness of your efforts on social media compared to visitors coming from search engines (or whatever source). When you can see how effective various channels are, then you’ll know where to invest your efforts to drive even better growth.
  • What is your return on investment in online ads? HubSpot connects with various online ad platforms (Facebook and LinkedIn) and can help you determine the exact ROI on your ad campaigns. How many clicks on ads are turning into leads, and how many of those are turning into customers? You’ll drive better impact when you can see what’s really working and what’s not.

If you send just a little time regularly looking over the data and performance reports, you’ll quickly identify some ways to improve what you’re doing. This continual improvement will be a major driver of increased sales growth over time.

increase sales, hubspot reports

4. Leverage lists to target communications and offers

Another way to increase sales is to manage contacts using targeted lists. Once you have contacts on various kinds of lists, then you can target specific types of communications towards them. Personally, I think there is nothing worse than scatter-spray marketing. That’s throwing everything out to everyone, and hoping that someone gets it. 

With us, our clients come primarily in two groups, writers/bloggers and small businesses. It’s not a stretch to see how interests for one group may be different than the other.

With lists targeted at each of these customers (and leads), then releasing something like a new e-course on self-publishing only needs to go to the writer/blogger contacts. Likewise, promoting our local business directory link-building services can be promoted just to the small businesses. Promoting either of these things to everyone is going to make it fall flat and likely just end up annoying some contacts due to too many irrelevant emails.

increase sales, hubspot lists

Lists can also be used to filter out people based on their activity (or inactivity). And that can not only help you keep your database clean, but it can also help you even further target the types of communications that might re-engage them. That leads me to my last point…

5. Never give up on a lead

One of the big things HubSpot has helped me do is to not give up on any of my leads. And it’s paid off with increased sales!

I’ve seen at times when I might send someone 2-3 emails and not get a reply. But in HubSpot, when I look at the contact details, I might see lots of opens on the emails and lots of clicks to the website. So even though I don’t see a reply, I might still see them being very engaged. That’s a signal to me to not stop! But if all I knew was that they weren’t responding to my emails, then I might be inclined to give up.

I also have a list that I move people to after they’ve finished automated sequences without any further engagement. These people go onto a list that gets a monthly featured “best offer” email to attempt to re-engage them. These emails regularly get these otherwise “cold” leads to pop up and end up becoming customers.

Persistence is the key. So having a strategy for how you will continue to engage (yes, even cold leads) over the long-term is incredibly important. And don’t take silence as a “no” because often it just means they’ve been a little too busy to respond at the moment. 

If you’re trying to increase sales revenue, then you’ll want to get every bit of opportunity you can find out of your leads. So… NEVER give up on a lead (unless they specifically unsubscribe).

 

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How You Can Increase Sales Revenue For Your Business

I don’t know about you, but as a small business, we like to increase sales revenue! And doing so cannot be something that adds expense (that doesn’t get a return) or complicate processes. That’s really been the best thing about switching to the right CRM.

While the CRM itself is free, we do pay a little bit for the Marketing Starter and Sales Starter plans. But the increase we’ve seen in sales more than pays for that cost. And we’re continuing to grow and increase sales even more! Here’s what this switch has meant to us:

  • Simplified our sales process
  • Improved our marketing effectiveness
  • Given us the information to have more meaningful conversations with contacts
  • Provides the data to help us commit to continual improvement
  • Saves us immeasurable time 

I’ve honestly always dreaded trying to figure out how we’re going to drive sales growth. Always sorting through sales strategies (and gimmicks) and trying tools that over-promise and under-deliver. I’ve earned more grey hair from trying to find the right formula than from any other aspect of running the business. But now it just feels right. I’m having fun trying things and watching the impact of our efforts. 

And we’re seeing the results.

So if you want to try the HubSpot CRM, and have questions. Then grab 15 minutes on my calendar to talk through it. Just use the scheduler below to get some time. (And FYI… that’s from HubSpot too!) There’s no obligation to talk, and I’m happy to just answer any questions you might have and see if I can steer you in the right direction with this.

#fistbump

FTC Disclosure: We are a HubSpot affiliate and receive a commission when you purchase. The results we share are our own and from our own data tracking efforts. We promote these tools and services based on our actual experience and confidence in the results they provide.

8 Reasons Your Business Should Use Social Media Marketing

8 Reasons Your Business Should Use Social Media Marketing

Did you know that 73% of American adults use YouTube? Businesses grow more when using social media marketing as part of their customer acquisition strategy. Regardless of your business size, you stand to gain more. But should your business use social media?

Don’t dismiss it yet.

With this guide, you’ll learn about how social media marketing improves your business. Read on and find out more:

1. It Improves Brand Awareness

Marketing using social media platforms is relatively stress-free and profitable. It’s a digital marketing platform used to make your business more visible. It’s easy to start since all you need is to make your business profile and network with other people.

Apply social media strategies to increase your brand recognition by a wide margin. It’s a proven fact that spending a few hours each week dabbling in social marketing heightened their customer experience.

The key to succeeding in this is to be consistent. An active social media profile means producing a wider audience for your establishment. That requires commitment, but it’s enjoyable either way.

2. It’s a Cost-Effective Method

Social marketing is one of the most cost-effective methods of advertising strategies. Making a social media account is free for almost any networking platforms around. The issue lies on which platform to focus on since it can become hectic otherwise.

Once you decide to commit, try out paid advertising on your chosen network. But it’s always important to make a small investment first. That way, you’ll know what to expect as you work with them.

With social marketing, you get a greater ROI. That means you’ll have bigger budgets for other marketing methods and business payments. You need only invest a small sum each time to increase your conversion rates.

Protect your social media presence. It’s all about methods of succeeding in social selling. That way, you’re more persuasive and natural.

3. It Helps with Customer Engagement

Social media gives a great avenue for your business to interact and engage with both prospects and existing customers. For example, marketing with Facebook is lucrative because of its sheer number of active users. On average, 2.45 billion people use the platform per month, making it the most populated social media network in the world.

With more audience communication, the better chances of conversion you get. It’s a two-way avenue enabling your audience to reveal their wants. That way, you can cater to their interests easier.

Also, customer engagement helps to win their attention. It helps them understand your brand’s message better. With that, your brand becomes more established with less hassle.

social media marketing, facebook marketing

4. It Improves Brand Loyalty

Having a social media presence allows your customers to easily find and connect with you. This enables you to get a higher level of customer retention and loyalty. Remember, making a loyal customer base is one of your main goals as an establishment.

In most cases, brand loyalty and customer satisfaction complement each other. That’s why you must engage your customers regularly. This lets you develop a deeper bond with them.

Social media isn’t a platform exclusively for product introductions. It’s also for cultivating promotional campaigns. Customers see this platform as a means of getting direct communication with their chosen business.

5. It Makes Customer Satisfaction Healthier

Your networking and communication platform won’t work without social media as one of its components. Your company gets a voice if you use these platforms. That’s why it’s an important method for improving your brand’s image.

Customers are appreciative when you reply when they comment on your page. It’s miles ahead than replying with an automated message. If you give the effort and compose your personal messages, customers will know you value them.

6. It Increases Marketplace Awareness

It’s more efficient to look at social media marketplaces to know what your customers want and need. Knowing what drives the sales without directly communicating with your target audience is one of the most valuable benefits of social media. You need only to observe their activities on your profile.

With this, you’ll know what interests your customers. The knowledge you gain from here isn’t obtainable anywhere else. It’s valuable data only achievable by having a social media presence.

Social marketing works as a complementary research tool. It gives insight into the current state of your chosen industry. After getting a larger following, you’ll gain access to more tools for examining other aspects of your consumer demographics.

7. It Helps Your Business Gain More Brand Authority

Brand loyalty and consumer satisfaction play major roles in increasing your business’s power. Achieving this often depends on how well you communicate with your chosen audience. When customers see you posting on your social media profile, they get a better impression.

When you reply to their questions and post original yet valuable content, customers build a more positive image of your company in their minds. It becomes proof that your company cares about what they have to say. That’s why building an audience of satisfied customers is important.

With these gruntled customers, they become more vocal about their positive experience. That will drive them to advertise your company to people they know. The best part is that these advertisements are genuine and credible.

8. It Increases Website Traffic

Social media marketing is also a great method of increasing organic customer traffic to your website. If you have a blog on your website, share the links on your social media account. This gives interested users something to click on and enjoy.

Ensure the content you share on your social media account has high quality. This ensures you get more inbound traffic from both new and existing customers. It also plays a major part in increasing your conversion rates.

Use Social Media Marketing Today!

These are eight concrete benefits of using social media marketing. It’s all about communicating with customers, so it’s easy to do. Think about these advantages if you’re deliberating whether it’s good for you.

Are you looking for a small business internet marketing company? Do you seek professional aid when it comes to social media marketing? If so, contact us today and let us help you. Or book a free consultation, and we’ll analyze your social media strategy and help you develop a plan to reach your goals…


 

7 Tips on Building an SEO Strategy for Small Businesses

7 Tips on Building an SEO Strategy for Small Businesses

How many times have you turned to a search engine when trying to find information? Google gets 63,000 search requests each second. So, that number is probably too high to count. Search engines have become our go-to places to find information, search for products, and locate businesses. Which is why SEO strategy is absolutely critical for businesses.

These tactics help you to be seen more often by the right type of customer. But nailing your strategy down can be a bit tricky. There are a lot of options and ways to go about boosting your SEO. That’s why you have to be sure to pick the right ones.

Follow our tips for a successful digital marketing strategy.

1. Stay True to Your Brand

As you’re working to create a digital marketing strategy including SEO tactics, the most important thing is to stay true to your brand throughout.

Your business’ branding and story are what connect your audience to your service or product. Creating a clear view of who you are and what you’re about generates brand loyalty, which drives up revenue.

There may be marketing tactics that have seen some success for other businesses but if they’re not in line with your brand’s story, you should steer clear of them.

Every move you make should be conscious to target an audience and bring them in by being true to who you are.

2. Focus on Keywords

The whole idea behind SEO is to add keywords that will bring up your site during regular online searches.

These keywords are ranked based on their ability to bring people in and the frequency of use. They are added into regular blog posts, product descriptions, and other online content. As people search for those keywords, they’re more likely to find your site.

Finding the right balance in keywords is a critical part of a good SEO strategy. You want to add in keywords that will draw people in but don’t want to stuff your content too full to become too generalized.

A little research upfront will help you to develop a list of a few keywords that will be most beneficial for your business. Stick with those to begin with.

Suggested Resource: Discover the best keywords for you using our $5 gig on Fiverr

fiverr seo, seo keywords

3. Build Page Authority

After you’ve created your list of keywords, it’s time to start implementing them and building page authority.

Page authority is an important marker of successful SEO strategies. It’s a measurement of how well a website page will do in search results, meaning how often it will come up high in the search results.

There are many factors to getting a good page authority score but it will ultimately look different for every company. But keeping this score in mind and making changes to improve it can help you get where you want to be.

4. Pay Attention to Image 

We’ve already discussed how the content you’re putting out (especially the keywords) needs to be representative of your brand. But everything you put out as a whole needs to send the right message.

It doesn’t do much good to work hard to get great SEO strategies going and drive traffic to your site to then have people immediately leave it.

There are many elements to a successful website (design, content, images, ease of navigation to mention a few) and they all need to portray the right message to any visitors.

One of the biggest benefits of SEO is that it draws people in who will actually be interested in your company. So you need to keep them around with the full package.

5. Work with a Professional

On the surface, SEO strategy seems very simple and a straightforward way to getting your company more customers.

But in reality, there are so many nuances and details that it can be easy to overlook something that would make a big difference. This is why it’s often very helpful to work with a trained SEO and marketing professional.

These professionals have a very clear, educated understanding of all of the factors that go into a successful campaign.

They can help you to narrow down your focus, give you the tools to write engaging content, and put your brand on the map. Having an outside perspective can help give you a clear understanding of where you’re at and where you can go.

6. Track and Measure Traffic

There’s no way to know if your SEO efforts are working if you don’t take regular measurements. And there’s really no point in making such efforts if you don’t know how helpful (or not) they’ve been.

One of the key elements to track is the traffic your site or page is getting after it has been optimized.

Most website hosts have backend options to handle all of the tracking and measuring for you. But you need to know how to read and analyze them beforehand to get a real, accurate picture of the progress you’re making.

7. Keep Current on Trends 

The online business world is always changing. It evolves with new technologies, current events, and popular business operations. To stay current you have to stay updated on trends and changes in more efficient marketing strategies.

You can do this by attending or participating in seminars, webinars, and classes focused on digital marketing strategy.

Sometimes it’s easy to think that once we’ve done something for our business it’s permanent and the only option. But in reality, things are much more fluid and can change often. Being flexible for changes to adapt to trends can help keep you current and in the public eye.

Building a Strong SEO Strategy

Getting your name, brand, and product into the world for new customers to discover you is critical to success. SEO strategy is a great way to grow your audience organically by making sure people can find you.

Each company will need to utilize different strategies and tools to get to their goals. But the key is to make conscious efforts to be putting out quality content that boosts your traffic.

If you’re interested in getting started and working with a professional to develop your unique strategy, contact us today!

8 Common Self-Publishing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

8 Common Self-Publishing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Are you looking to self-publish your work? If so, it’s crucial to learn the ins and outs of some of the most common self-publishing mistakes. In learning of these mistakes, you can set yourself up for the most success possible.

What are the most common self-publishing mistakes, you ask? To help, we’re shining a light on the eight most common mistakes that authors make when self-publishing their work. From your blog layout and editing to market research and timelines, we’re covering it all.

Before you publish your work, you’ll want to avoid these mistakes at all costs. It’s time to learn from those who have self-published their works before you!

1. Self-Editing

Of course, it’s always tempting to edit your own work.

While this is a cost-effective means of editing, it’s also setting yourself up for disaster. Not only will a professional editor spot typos and grammatical errors, but they’ll also highlight structural sentences that need improvement. If you’re looking to make money with self-publishing, you need to be serious about hiring an editor. At a minimum, use a tool like the Hemingway Editor for an automated way of checking your work.

Without proper editing, your work is very likely to have some standout mistakes. From the perspective of your readers, this makes your work more difficult to enjoy and take seriously.

2. Insufficient Market Research

In order to maximize the success of your works, you’re going to want to conduct proper market research.

This market research will tell you what readers are interested in right now. It’s also going to help to provide clarity in terms of the length, format, and general structure that readers currently most desire.

Remember, your goal is to create material that your readers are actively interested in. In order to know what the public wants, it’s imperative to spend the time necessary and conduct this research.

3. A Lack of Timelines

In the self-publishing world, you’re essentially only working for one person. For better or worse, this one person just so happens to be yourself.

While there are benefits to creating all of your own rules, this can also be a dangerous game. This is especially the case when it comes to establishing a strict timeline for your works.

When using a professional publisher, that individual will set concrete timelines that you must adhere to. When you’re working for yourself, this simply isn’t the case. With this, it’s only natural for your level of motivation to decrease.

To counteract this, be sure to set strict timelines for yourself. You can also share these timelines with other people to increase your accountability.

4. Incorrect Formatting

Every type of work will require a different sort of formatting.

For example, the formating for regular blog posts could be entirely different than the formatting for a standard novel. If you’re new to publishing, understanding the right formatting won’t always come naturally.

In most cases, the correct formatting will be entirely dependent on the forum in which you’re publishing. For example, one blog may require writers to submit their work in a Microsoft Word document while others require an Adobe PDF file. To ensure that you’re adhering to the right formatting, be sure to conduct the right research and ask questions.

5. A Poorly-Timed Release Date

What’s the best time to release your work?

When it comes to self-publishing, there are good times and there are bad times to release work. Of course, this timeline will also depend on the subject matter of your work. This is where conducting market research comes into play yet again.

Do yourself a favor and dig online for more information. Your goal is to find a relevant time to release your work. This is a time in which your audience will naturally feel more inclined to read works on your subject.

While the average person reads 12 books a year, it’s more important to figure out what time of year people read the most. With this, you may want to release your work during a time that people are more likely to spend their time reading. This is why many authors choose to release their work in the summer when people typically have more time to relax.

6. A Lack of Notable Reviews

At the end of the day, reviews are an incredibly important part of any kind of brand-building.

Just as 90% of consumers will read reviews before visiting a business, so too will your readers. This is why having notable reviews on your work has become a key to success.

Unfortunately, those that self-publish are far less likely to have a variety of reviews. This is as compared to work that has been professionally published and often uses notable people to create an interest in your work.

Even in the event that you’re self-publishing, do your best to get as many people to read and review your work as possible. Once you have these reviews, ensure that you’re advertising them both physically on your work and on other platforms such as social media.

7. Asking for Minimal Feedback

When you choose to self-publish, you’re minimizing the feedback that you’ll receive on your work.

Of course, receiving harsh feedback can be challenging for some. But, it’s also the best way to ensure that what you’re putting out there is your best work possible. When it comes to writing, your reputation is everything.

With this, it’s crucial to ask for as much feedback as possible. Try to get as many people in your network to review your work as possible. From here, don’t be shy in asking for their honest feedback and suggestions. After all, this is the only way to better yourself as a writer.

8. Incorrect Pricing

Sure, you might be a professional writer. But, this doesn’t mean that you know the best strategy for pricing your works.

With this, self-publishing authors will often undervalue their work and price their work far too low. On the other hand, if you price your work too high, fewer people are likely to purchase it.

To help arrive at a fair pricing strategy, be sure to research what other works under the same subject are selling for. And evaluate how well those books are selling at various price points. With this, your best bet is to match this price or come slightly above or below it.

Common Self-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid

To self-publish or to seek professional help? That is the question!

The truth is, self-publishing your work can lead you to success. It’s also a great way to save money and adhere to your own rules. But, in doing so, it’s imperative to ensure that you’re avoiding all the most common self-publishing mistakes.

In understanding these mistakes in advance, you can take extra caution when moving forward with your works. With this, you’re all the more likely to maximize your chances of success!

Are you looking for more guidance on self-publishing? If so, be sure to check out our 30 Days To #SelfPub e-course!

self-publishing e-course

 

How to Create a Webinar and Online Expert Events

How to Create a Webinar and Online Expert Events

I’ve always been a big believer in the power of webinars! Not only do I enjoy learning from them, but we’ve also been building a library of webinar content of our own for years. And with recent shifts to moving more digital, webinars can be a great tool to help you expand the reach of your business. But the average business owner has no idea how to create a webinar.

So you know when one of my favorite resources, SEMrush, hosts a Twitter chat on the subject, I had to be there. The SEMrush webinars are some of the best out there, and they’ve helped me stay on the cutting edge of digital marketing for several years now. And having their Head of Global Marketing, Olga Andrienko, and their Head of Video Content, Anton Shulke, on the chat was a huge bonus. They are the real deal!

And because the focus of this chat was so valuable, I thought I’d share the highlights of the conversation here. I also thought it would be a good place to add a few bonus tips and resources if you’re exploring how to create a webinar for yourself.

Here’s the conversation…

Q1. Free or paid: How do you decide whether to charge for your online conference or webinar? What other ways have you found to monetize online events?

The big thing with how you use them is determining what your goal is for them. Generally, free webinars can be great for lead generation and nurturing. But there’s also a sales opportunity for deeper and more exclusive content too. Here’s what Olga and Anton had to say about it too…

I definitely agree with the idea that with a slowdown with in-person conferences, many are going to find ways to do more online. This certainly represents some great opportunity to innovate and reach more people with premium content.

Q2. What platforms and software are best for hosting online events?

Specifically, I use the OBS Studio software to manage what my live webinar video feed looks like, but YouTube Live can be broadcast with just a webcam. This can also be accomplished with your mobile phone and Facebook Live. You’re really pretty unlimited with options for how you broadcast a live event online.

Ultimately, the software and platform you use will depend on your goals. If lead capture is important, then that needs to be part of how you set it up. It doesn’t need to be complex, and often the simplest way to get started is to get the registration done by creating a landing page for the event on your own website. Then you can communicate with that email list as the event approaches. This way you can point them to anywhere you plan to run the broadcast.

Q3. Checklist: How do you ensure the quality of the stream?

I saw some chat going on about connecting via wi-fi. And the only time I would suggest that is when you’re conducting some sort of live stream from your mobile phone. But if you’re planning to create a webinar a little more formally, then run it from your desktop and make sure you’re directly connected (if possible). I would also suggest that if you’re just getting started, then don’t sweat it with getting lots of fancy equipment. If you have a webcam with a mic, then you can do it. As you get into it over time, then consider upgrading to improve quality and performance.

I definitely appreciate the focus on the setting you use when you create a webinar. Things like lighting, background, etc all can make a huge difference in how your broadcast comes off to a viewer. The big thing here is to show that you cared enough to put the effort into creating a good environment for your viewers.

Q4. Self-hosted or including guests: What makes some formats more successful than others?

Really, the bottom line for me here is that adding more people to the webinar broadcast (remotely) adds an additional layer of complexity in pulling it off. It’s not super difficult, but it is an extra layer. And ultimately, I haven’t seen the difference in goal performance when I have others on with me or not. So I tend to just keep it simple, and create my events. But that doesn’t mean I’ll always do them solo.

This is really another one that depends on your goals. I can also say from my experience that it’s difficult to keep people’s attention as a solo presenter for longer periods of time. If I’m on an hour-long webinar, then having multiple people in a conversation certainly helps. But I’ve been experimenting with doing shorter 20-30 minute webinar sessions, which is more manageable for the viewer when I’m going solo. But the key here is to test some variations, and measure how they perform. The data will tell you what you can reasonably do.

Q5. How do you measure the success of the online event?

When measuring success, things like the number of registrations I get tell me how helpful the topics are. And success is mostly determined by the number of inbound leads it generates. I’m not looking for instant sales either. But the inbound lead gets some follow-up and an offer for a free consultation. If they don’t bite right away, I don’t sweat it. They end up on my “webinar club” mailing list and get notifications of upcoming webinars. And I’ve seen some of these people reach out to us after viewing several webinars asking us for help with their projects. Ultimately it’s a long-game, and then just continuing to work my email list over time.

I also look at the long-term usefulness of each webinar. I evaluate how much I direct people to webinars in other ongoing sales and support conversations. Even old, recorded webinars carry a great deal of value over time as I support the conversations we have with clients and potential clients. That’s not to mention how we can trim out sections of the video to repurpose for some short-form social media posts. I love repurposing content!

Q6. Social media, paid promotion, third party platforms, affiliate network… How do you promote your online event or webinar?

Promotion is mostly about two things for us. First, nurturing the existing Webinar Club email list. The people on that list who are already clients appreciate the expertise and perspective we share. And people who aren’t clients (yet) get more exposure to our brand as one they can trust as experts in the field. Second, social media, boosting/advertising posts help us get exposure to new potential audiences with very targeted interests.

And I love Olga’s point about lookalike audiences (in Facebook Ads). I can take my existing client email lists and my Webinar Club email lists and have Facebook target other people who are like these people. It’s a great way to focus on an audience who is most likely to engage with what you’re offering.

Final Thoughts On How To Create a Webinar (or Other Online Expert Event)

If you’re focusing on generating leads for your business and are a subject matter expert on a specific topic, then running a webinar can be a great tool in your marketing plan. Great webinars can help you engage with potential (and existing) customers in real-time, and they can build your brand and credibility. Contrary to what you might believe, they aren’t too difficult to pull off! However, you should have a plan for how you’re going to promote your webinar and capture the people who have an interest in the topics you plan to discuss.

Do you need help figuring out how to get something like this implemented? Need someone to help you brainstorm topics or a plan for how you move forward with this? Let us know! Grab some (free) time to talk with us, or hit us up in the online chat here on the website. We’ll get you on the right path to creating your own webinars and using them to generate leads.

 

How To (and Why) Build a Linktree Page (Plus Free Templates)

How To (and Why) Build a Linktree Page (Plus Free Templates)

If you’re building your social media platform on Instagram, and haven’t considered using a linktree page for your bio link, then you’re missing some really great opportunities.

Instagram has established itself as one of the top and most influential social networks out there right now. But from the perspective of a content producer (blogger or small business), the big downside is that you cannot put functional links in the content of your posts. You get one active link, and that’s in your bio.

With only one link being available to you, it’s difficult to ensure people are getting to your most important content or whatever you want them to see when you post something in your feed.

That’s where a linktree page comes in.

What Is Linktree Page? (and Why You Should Use One)

A linktree (or bio links) page is a webpage that contains a group of important links that point people to your most important content and resources. They are designed to use in social media bios, especially in places like Instagram, where only one link is allowed (and posts cannot contain links).

In response to this need, services like LINKTR.EE have emerged to make it simple to develop stylish landing pages to use in your social media bios.

linktree

This helps bloggers (and content producers of all kinds) share posts on Instagram about new content. Just mention “link in bio” (or hashtag #linkinbio), and people can click-thru that link to get to the content you want them to see. So where you get one link to point people to, using a landing page like this gets people to where you want them much more efficiently.

Even better, you can integrate other features like newsletter signup, products or services, event details, or other promotions you’re running.

Linktree Alternatives

While LINKTR.EE has a very basic free level of service, the best features (and some very important ones) come in the premium version. And LINKTR.EE is the most popular bio links landing page service currently available.

However, when you’re using tools like this, it’s important to have consistency in how you present your brand. And you may want to add some features not available, especially in the free version. Plus, you may not want their branding all over your stuff. That doesn’t help you build your brand as much.

So if you like the idea of LINKTR.EE, but want to explore other options, then there are several to consider, including:

  • Campsite.Bio – Another freemium service (free and paid versions) that gives you the basic bio link pages for free, with some nice upgrades in the paid version. It provides a simple interface, and the ability to add images in the free version.
  • ContactInBio – Also a freemium service which features full landing page capabilities, which is pretty nice. It also has a lifetime plan so that you can get all of the premium features and not have to pay a recurring fee.
  • Build Your Own – This is a completely free option, leveraging the website you already have in place. Especially with themes like Divi (which is included in our BASIC and above hosting plans), you can build a page that lives on your website with all of the same features. Plus your customization capabilities are unlimited!

The build-your-own approach is by far the best option. It gives you full control over design and how you present your brand. Not to mention that it gets visitors on your website with a page that’s designed to get them to other key content you have (improving on-site engagement metrics, which is good for your SEO).

The Anatomy of a Good Bio Links Page

Especially if you’re going to build your own page, you should understand a few key concepts for how to build it well.

The first rule for your bio links page is to keep it simple. You don’t want to overwhelm people with so much stuff that you end up scaring them away. Remember, the main goal is to just get them to the next step. So focus on the core elements that encourage them to tap through to that important content.

A few key elements you’ll want to consider are:

  • A profile pic (or logo) – This is a key branding element.
  • Your name – Another important core branding piece.
  • Short description (optional) – If you do this, keep it brief. It’s not the place for your full story (like your about page), but definitely good for a brand-building tagline or short description statement.
  • Quick link(s) to recent content – Have a button going to your latest blog post, or even add a blurb from the post itself.
  • High priority links – Use buttons to connect people to key pages on your website, including books, products, etc.
  • Email opt-in – Add a simple opt-in on the page, or use a button to link to it.
  • Social media links – Make it easy to connect in other places you engage with your audience.

linktree, linktree alternative, linktree divi template

To make this process simple for you, we’ve created several templates that you can upload to your website (using WordPress with the Divi theme), and customize from there. Check out the demos of these Linktree-alternative pages, and download your free templates now!

How To Build Your Own Bio Links Page (With Divi)

We’re big fans of the Divi theme (by Elegant Themes) around here. One reason we love it is the portability of page layouts (and other elements). We use it almost exclusively with our clients on all web development projects. So you can download those templates (mentioned above) and load them to your website as a starting point.

Once you import the layouts to your website, you can load them to a new page using the Divi Builder. Follow these instructions:

  1. Add a new page
  2. Click the “Use The Divi Builder” button
  3. Select “Choose a Premade Layout”
  4. Go to the “Your Saved Layouts” tab
  5. Pick the template you’d like to start with

After that, you can edit each module however you’d like.

Basic Layout and Design

The templates use Text modules for each of the buttons on the page. You can change the text that appears on the button, and update the link that it points to.

linktree, linktree divi template

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even change styles, animations, or any other properties you’d like.

The page background can be updated in the Background settings in Section Settings (click the gear icon on the blue bar). There you can change the background image or colors.

And, as with any other page built in Divi, you can add all kinds of modules to add to your page. It’s still best to keep the page simple, but modules like Email Optin, Countdown Timer, Search, Testimonial, Video, and many others can really help you take your bio links page to the next level.

To ensure the best look, toggle over to the Phone View to see how everything appears. Assuming that you’re using the page for your bio link on Instagram, nearly all of the visitors to the page will likely be coming from mobile devices. So it’s most important for it to look good there. And if you want to adjust for potential desktop viewing, you can do that too. But desktop should definitely take a backseat to mobile in the design and appearance on this page.

Page Attributes Settings

Once you have the page elements in place and are ready to publish the page, there are a few key attributes that will be important to consider. The first of which is the permalink structure. Ultimately, the page name can be whatever you’d like. But simple is best. And visitors on Instagram will see the link name in your bio. While simplicity is the key, feel free to have fun or give it a call-to-action kind of feel. It’s okay to let your personality show. A few examples for permalink page names are:

  • yoursite.com/bio-links
  • yoursite.com/welcome
  • yoursite.com/hi
  • yoursite.com/instagram
  • yoursite.com/as-seen-on
  • yoursite.com/click-me
  • yoursite.com/hello

Also, you’ll need to update a couple of settings in order to ensure everything displays properly. Look for the Page Attributes widget and update the following settings:

  • Parent: (no parent) – Do not make this page a sub-page to another page (like About, etc). That will extend the permalink unnecessarily. Keep this page on the first level (no parent) in order to keep the permalink short.
  • Template: Blank Page – This setting removes all of the normal website headers and footers. Everything you need in the design for these pages is included in the layout itself, so you don’t want to complicate everything with more navigation and other elements.

Whether you’re using the free templates or starting from scratch on your own, you’ll love the flexibility and virtually unlimited design options and control you can get. And hosting all of this on your own website means that you’ll get it all at no additional cost!

How To Use a Bio Links Page In Your Instagram Bio

Once you’ve published the page on your website, it’s time to add it to your Instagram bio. To edit your bio:

  1. Go to your profile
  2. Tap the Edit Profile button next to your current bio
  3. Type (or copy/paste) your page URL (permalink) in the Website field
  4. Tap the Done (or check icon) button

Whenever you make changes like this, it’s always best to visit your profile and tap the link to ensure everything works as it should. But easy-peasy… you’re new Instagram linktree-like bio links page is live! Now you can mention in your posts, “link in bio,” to get visitors to all of the great stuff you want to direct them to.

Other Places You Can Use Your Bio Links Page

While these kinds of bio link pages started with Instagram, you can use them just about anywhere. And if you want to get super cool, you can create separate linktree pages for various platforms. For example, the bio links page you want people to visit coming from your LinkedIn page may look a little different than the one for visitors from Instagram.

Get creative and explore different ways to use pages like these. Here’s a quick list to inspire you:

  • LinkedIn profile – Share links to your portfolio, previous work, email, and social profiles
  • Twitter bio – Connect people to your other social media profiles and important links
  • Business cards – Increase the dynamic with special links and content for people you share your business cards with
  • QR Codes  – Point a QR code on posters and other print advertising to share specials, etc with people
  • Your email signature – Important content to direct people to from your emails
  • Links in your book(s) – Share key resources with readers of your books

The possibilities are really endless. And if you’re doing this on your own website, you can create as many of these specialized pages as you want. So change designs, content, and everything for really just about any audience you can imagine.

Final Thoughts

If you run a content platform (blog, etc) of any kind, then getting your core content in front of people is critical. Linktree certainly brought a level of convenience to highlighting that content in the one link you get for your Instagram bio.

But building your own on your website has a bunch of great benefits. The big goal of digital marketing is always to get people onto your website and have them take some action. Having a well-structured bio links page (or several of them) accomplishes just that. And driving traffic to an engagement-focused page can improve your overall SEO by showing Google that your website is worth engaging with.

Better yet, maintaining full control over the branding and design is an important element for growing your platform online. It’s important to build a presence that people will recognize when they think about you.

So go download the free Linktree Alternative Divi Templates, and get started today! And if you want to get your website on Divi with one of our managed WordPress hosting plans, then we can help you with that too. And let us know if you have any questions or need guidance with any of this. Let’s see what you can create!