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Landing Page Optimization: Original MarketingSherpa Landing Page Handbook now available for free download

June 13th, 2019
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I recently received an email from a MarketingSherpa reader asking how he could point people to the Landing Page Handbook. He ended the email by saying …

 

“I still think the Landing Page Handbook is the best resource on the topic that has ever been produced.”

— Ken Molay, President, Webinar Success

 

And the data shows it. The MarketingSherpa Landing Page Handbook is one of the most popular resources we have offered in 20 years of publishing. So we dug into our archives, and are now offering this handbook free to you, the MarketingSherpa reader.

 

Since it’s publication over a decade ago, the Landing Page Handbook has been a frequently cited resource throughout the years. Some examples:

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE LANDING PAGE HANDBOOK

 

And of course, generated plenty of discussions when its second edition was released in 2007:

 

When it was first released, it elicited these testimonials:

This book is astonishing and you should read it. It’s astonishing because it will tell you very obvious things that you don’t know, didn’t realize and weren’t taking action on. As the person who invented the term Landing Page in 1995 (right after Al Gore invented the internet) I can tell you that we’ve waited a long, long time for this sort of common sense, hands on, verified info. The bad news is that you are now out of excuses.

— Seth Godin, Author, www.SethGodin.com

 

“I wanted to drop you a note telling you how incredible your Landing Page Handbook is. The handbook is clear about what works and what doesn’t work with loads of data to support its claims. I am in the process of implementing changes and fully expect massive improvements to my metrics. Once again, you have shown why MarketingSherpa is the only source we need to improve our Web presence.”

— Brett Hayes, RentQuick.com

 

“I want to thank you for putting out the landing page handbook. I found that document instrumental in getting one of our clients a 400% lift in conversion response.”

— Elliott Easterling, VP Sales and Marketing, Co-Founder, Red Bricks Media, www.redbricksmedia.com

 

“My honest advice? Buy this report, copy what others have done to increase their landing page conversion rates, and make more money. It’s as simple as that.”

— Nick Usborne, Publisher, www.excessvoice.com

 

“I bought the Landing Page Handbook. I was in two minds about buying it for ages. I am a one-man band so $250 is a lot when your sales are so low. Within the first 50 pages I was 10 for 10 on the common mistakes made on landing pages. I started applying the book’s recommendation to my site. I have gone from +-1 sale a week up to 3 a day and climbing consistently for the past 3 weeks. All the ‘Experts’ told me to up my spend on Adwords to up sales and I did. I now realize I was just wasting my money till I read this book and made the changes. Great book, worth every cent.”

— Peter Mercer, Director, Network & Perimeter Security Services

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Content Syndication: How to get wider distribution of your content marketing

May 30th, 2019
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There was a legend called El Dorado. An ancient lost city of gold. The legend drove many an adventurer to risk it all for the possibility of riches beyond their wildest dreams.

I think of El Dorado anytime content syndication comes up. A legend, passed down from content marketer to content marketer. All you need is content syndication to get endless golden traffic flowing to the content on your site, more demand than you can handle.

If only it were that easy.

But, the search for El Dorado led to the discovery of what had been foreign to the European explorers. It was the incentive they needed to map areas that were new to their countries. Without that legend, would they have driven as hard and far? Would they have taken the risk?

Perhaps content syndication is the same way. It’s not the easy untapped city of gold. But if it drives you to create content marketing so appealing that you can merchandise it to other websites and publishers and get them to share your content, then while the journey may be arduous, it will have been worth it in the end.

(OK, this copy is overwrought, I agree, but I think it’s a much nicer way of saying, C’mon, did you really think content syndication would be that easy!?)

It’s not that easy. There is no magic “content syndication” button. But with a smart approach, you can bring more attention to your brand’s content and ultimately find the results you seek. Here are insights from four smart marketers to help you do just that …

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

 

 

The absolute biggest key to getting content syndicated is to make sure that it’s something valuable to your intended audience(s)

Erin Well, Senior Marketing Manager, Shipwell:

As someone who worked in the trenches as a content marketer for at least 30 very unique clients targeting many verticals, there is no silver bullet.

Pushing out a press release through the myriad of distribution platforms will not yield the kind of results a hands-on, intensive content ideation, production and media relations strategy will provide.

Build strong relationships with writers relevant to the content you’re creating and offer them sincerely valuable content their readers will enjoy. Use social media to engage with them and be sure to share their pieces (and tag them of course).

As you brainstorm ideas for a content marketing campaign, consider what digital publishers you’ll be pitching it to. Build out pitch lists of sites you’ll want your content to appear on. Research writers, their beats and what they’ve been writing about. Ask yourself honestly, can you picture your content featured as an article on their site?

When you have a good idea of what sites you’ll be pitching to, you can start to map out where their natural and organic syndication goes.

Using Google News (free), you can plug in a headline of an article to see which sites (like Yahoo, Benzinga, etc.) picked up the story automatically. Or, using a platform like Buzzsumo (paid), you can also plug in the URL to an article and view the specific backlinks to map out their syndication network. Large, well-established sites like the New York Times or Business Insider will be more likely to automatically syndicate across the internet. But, there are some loopholes, such as local news sites, that have potential to syndicate nationally across sister sites.

You’ll also want to see how organic syndication plays out for a site or blog’s articles.

For example, you might notice a high-performing story on Refinery 29 gets syndicated organically by other writers over at similar women’s interest sites. Why? High-performing, interesting, relevant content is so much more likely to get more eyeballs by writers when they know other writers in their vertical are covering it. But to get it there, it all goes back to creating content that has the viability to be picked up initially and subsequently syndicated.

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MarketingSherpa Podcast #5: Ten things you should think about before you do your next website redesign

April 25th, 2019
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Education is the ability to use other people’s experiences (mistakes) to avoid making your own mistakes.

In that spirit, we prep you for avoiding some serious potholes on your journey while taking on that biggest of digital marketing projects — a website redesign. You can listen to this episode in whichever way is most convenient for you — or click the orange “Subscribe” button to get every episode. And scroll down to read more about website redesigns.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

 

 

 

More About Episode #5 — Website redesign

“The point is: You get to capitalize on a fellow human being’s misfortune. That’s the basis of real estate.”

The above quote is from “The Money Pit,” the 1986 comedic movie where Tom Hanks and Shelley Long attempt to renovate a recently purchased home to comedic effect. Or tragic effect, depending on your point of view. After all, as Mark Twain said, “Humor is tragedy plus time.”

If you’ve ever been in charge of a web redesign project, you might think that “The Money Pit” was just a prescient allegory for a web redesign project.

After all, your company’s website is its most prime real estate. And if your site is old or large, once you start diving into a redesign project you never know quite what surprises you will unearth.

To help you avoid pitfalls with your own web redesign (both tragic and comic), Austin McCraw and I delved into 10 considerations you should keep in mind for your web redesign projects (while providing a few light house-remodeling tips as well).

We’re giving you this advice from the marketer’s point of view — not the (website or real estate) developers’ point of view. So before you create a web redesign project plan, watch out for these things (time stamps included if you would like to jump around):

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Lead Generation Success = Nature + Nurture

April 18th, 2019
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What drives a successful lead generation and nurturing strategy for a complex sale?

Is it the nature of the leads themselves? Was its success predetermined at the very birthing of the lead because of the way you generated the lead? For example, a lead filling out a hand-raise form for your service has a far likelier chance of success than a lead clicking on a PPC ad for a free iPad.

Or is it the learned behavior of the lead, the environmental factors you influence them with through your lead nurturing. In other words, no matter how good the lead is, you need to shepherd these people along and help them understand the value of your product or service.

True success requires both quality lead generation and intelligent lead nurturing. Here are tips and examples from some successful business enterprises to help you get better leads and nurture them effectively. (This advice has been edited for clarity and brevity)

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

 

NURTURE

Answering the unasked questions in the customer journey

Kristian von Rickenbach, co-founder, Helix:

 A Helix (mattress and bedding product manufacturer) lead will convert on average in three months. In that time, they are researching and evaluating dozens of mattress brands and many more mattress types.

We focus heavily on lead nurturing through drip emails for people who come through our mattress customization quiz.

 

With the personalization quiz, we are able to capture unique attributes about how people sleep. After completing the quiz, users are asked if they want to save their match. With this audience, we know a few things:

1) They took the time to get to the site and complete the quiz

2) Hand raised to save their mattress with the intention to return, and

3) Most importantly, their name

Personalization clearly resonates with this audience and we included the customer’s name in email subject lines. After doing that we saw a 54% increase in open rates which resulted in a 69% increase in revenue generated from that campaign.

 

Through various creative tests, we homed in on what specific value propositions over-indexed from an engagement and conversion perspective and use that to inform content for our standard drip and promotion campaigns.

Affordability was one value prop that stood out.

Knowing that we were launching with a new financing partner, we sent an email out that had unprecedented returns for the business. After seeing the performance of a one-off financing options email, it was apparent that this is an important proposition in their purchase decision.

Since that email, we have featured similar content as a standalone email in our welcome series and significantly decreased the five-drip series decay curve. On average, we see a 38% decrease in open rate from welcome series email one to email two and so forth. After adding the financing email to the series at touchpoint three, the trend reversed and increased 15% from email two to email three.

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Value Proposition: The right strategy beats a bigger budget

March 7th, 2019
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Marketers say they have money problems.

According to research from Conductor, lack of budget is the biggest internal challenge that could negatively impact online performance. Securing budget/investment is the most extreme challenge for marketing teams, according to KoMarketing research. And here at MarketingSherpa, you’ve told us the size of your marketing budget is a barrier to growth time, after time, after time.

Hey, I hear you, marketers. I want a bigger budget as well.

But if you can’t simply throw more money at the problem or outspend the competition, you can still beat them — with a better approach. In other words, a more effective value proposition.

I recently came across the perfect example when I talked to a marketer who likely has far fewer resources than you do.

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

A value proposition based on customer-first marketing

Dean Porter is the development director at Hunger Fight, a small local nonprofit organization here in Jacksonville that helps feed Title 1 elementary school students as well as seniors.

Dean and his wife founded their charity in the teeth of the Great Recession. And they quickly learned that organizations were not so keen on simply stroking a check to a charity, even when it was doing noble work like feeding the hungry.

They didn’t have a big marketing budget they could fall back on. They couldn’t just spend their way into more leads.

So they had to come up with a better idea – a value proposition aimed at giving to their ideal customers, not just taking from them.

They created a model with a value proposition that coupled corporate employee engagement with community involvement by holding meal packing events, which they describe as “two ½ hours of organized chaos to feed children and families.”

 

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Ask MarketingSherpa: How do small businesses find clients?

February 22nd, 2019
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in a one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

 

Dear MarketingSherpa:  I have a question for you. In this ever more increasing digital age — where pressing palms and getting face time is getting harder and harder. How do small businesses find clients?

I am a graphic designer/marketer whose business model is to contract with other small businesses. Much like a General Contractor hires subs when they build or remodel a house.

When I get together with other contractors in the marcom field (web designers, marketers, other designers, branding specialists, etc.) the first question is generally ‘So, how do you find new clients?” The answer is generally referral, but that only provides so much to the pipeline.

We don’t have trade shows where the public can come in and meet us and get to know what options they have in terms of marketing their small business (like a home and garden show where the public comes in and meets the companies that offer home improvement — and all the new tech that goes along with it).

Our local AAF chapter did one about 7 years ago. It was poorly attended and never repeated. I presented. It was a fabulous idea.

We don’t have a Marketing Channel where people ooh and ahh over the latest couple who comes into businesses and turns their branding around and makes it all shiny and new and hands them a marketing plan and clients ready to purchase.

Marketing is the slow burn and a mystery how some succeed and others don’t. People like Shark Tank because it’s a Cinderella story — where the prince bestows upon them the money they think they need to succeed. Success overnight!

Everyone thinks it’s social media — but really that’s just more ad buys. And it’s left to the algorithm to determine how successful you are.

So how do small businesses that are in service industries especially find new clients? Sure we all know to go where our audience is, but our audience/ideal clients are in front of their computers looking for their own ideal clients. Or on the job, or at shows selling their own goods. They don’t scroll Instagram looking for business advice. They aren’t on Facebook reading funny memes. Generally. I mean they are definitely on their phones though.

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. I mean even your own website when it gives examples, it’s usually really large companies with really large budgets and a full agency behind the A/B testing and research and metrics. Not really applicable on a smaller scale, in most instances. Even people that know they need to content market are buying their content, not generating it themselves or through an agency (buying it from a service that caters to their industry).

OK — thank you for listening, and we all await your response.  🙂

Thanks!

Deanna Taus
Owner
Full Circle Creative, LLC

 

Dear Reader:  Hi Deanna, Thanks for reaching out.

We get this question quite often from small businesses who are engaged in marketing.

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Ask MarketingSherpa: Internship for international student in the US

February 15th, 2019
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We frequently receive questions from our email subscribers asking marketing advice. Instead of hiding those answers in one-to-one email communication, we occasionally publish edited excerpts of some of them here on the MarketingSherpa blog so they can help other readers as well. If you have any questions, let us know.

 

Dear MarketingSherpa: Hi, Daniel Burstein. I appreciate it that you are so warm-heart and nice to offer to help.

Currently, I am a graduate, major in Social Media and Mobile Marketing. I want to seek a Summer Intern in the field of Marketing or Digital Marketing, either full-time or part-time. I am an International student from China.

According to my current situation, do you have some advice to give me? When you are free, could you let me know your suggestions. I am so grateful to hear from you.

Regards,

 

Dear Reader: Congratulations on your academic achievements and thanks for writing. I assume you are looking for an internship here in the US?

I’ll be honest, the fact that you’re a non-native speaker could be a challenge.

So …

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What do you lead with? (MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #4)

February 12th, 2019
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What is an impactful way to increase conversion?

Or …

How do you grab your customer’s attention?

See, I could have led with either statement. Both statements describe our conversation in the latest MarketingSherpa podcast. But my hypothesis was that the first statement would grab your attention more.

Customer attention is a scarce resource. There is only space for one headline in the print ad, only a set amount of characters in a paid search ad, only six seconds that will be the opening six seconds of your TV commercial. And yet, your product likely has many value attributes.

So what do you lead with? To elucidate (and other fancy words) yourself on this subject, you can listen to this episode below in whichever way is most convenient for you — or click the orange “Subscribe” button to get every episode.

 

 

More About Episode #4 — Value sequencing

The initial question of the podcast leads to a bigger topic — value sequencing.

What do customers need to know? And when do they need to know it during the buyer’s journey? In addition, which customers need to know which things about your product?

This is true for their entire macro-journey with your brand but equally important at the micro-level within each customer interaction. For a landing page or an email, what do they need to know in the beginning, middle and end?

These are topics Austin and I dove into. Here are the show notes from this episode:

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Marketing 101: What are ad blockers?

February 8th, 2019
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Marketing has a language all its own. This is our latest in a series of posts aimed at helping new marketers learn that language. What term do you find yourself explaining most often to new hires during onboarding? Let us know.

Ad blockers are software that, as the name suggests, allow web users to block the ads on websites. Ad-blocking software (also known as ad filtering) can take different forms — from a web browser extension or plugin like AdBlock Plus to a standalone browser like Brave.

According to MarketingSherpa research, the top reason American consumers block online ads is because “I dislike large ads that pop up over the entire webpage,” followed closely by “Ads make the webpages load too slow” and “Rollover ads are intrusive.”

While ad blockers have gotten more attention lately, they are not new. For example, MarketingSherpa published a story on them back in 2001 — Should Publishers Worry About Ad Blocking Software? SaveTheFreeWeb.com’s Bill Dimm Explains Reality.

Ad blockers have been a difficult phenomenon to deal with for publishers.

For publishers, ad blockers threaten to steal advertising revenue. Some online publishers have adapted by either forcing visitors to allow ads or pay for a subscription to see their content. Here is an example from WIRED magazine.

ad blocker notice Wired mag

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Value Proposition: Before you express the value, you have to deeply understand the value (MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #3)

January 29th, 2019
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You think your product is great. Your service is top-notch. And personally, I have no reason to doubt you.

Your ideal customer, on the other hand … let’s face it, they don’t live in the four walls of your office. They aren’t thinking about your product every moment of every day like you are. They — and I hope this doesn’t sound harsh — really don’t care.

This disconnect is normal, of course. But here’s where you’ll get in trouble.

The next time you hire an advertising agency to create a campaign, when you redesign your website, when you launch a product — if you use that same insider thinking, you will undercut your marketing investments. Because those advertising and marketing creatives need to be armed with an essential reason why the ideal customer should buy your product.

Without that core reason — that marketing creativity isn’t being put to its most effective use. Just like a painting without a viewpoint isn’t really art, it’s just nice colors on a canvas.

Without that core reason, all you get is “we’re the bestest, greatest, amazingest [product type] you’ve ever seen.” You can buy all the media you want and blast that message out into the world but really … c’mon … how many customers will truly believe it?

Your product needs a value proposition. In our latest podcast, Austin McCraw and I have a robust yet light-hearted conversation about pitfalls marketers can get into when crafting their value prop. You can listen to this episode below in whichever way is most convenient for you or click the orange “Subscribe” button to get every episode.

 

 

More about episode #3 — consider the competition

A value proposition created in a vacuum is no value proposition at all.

And this is what makes crafting a value prop so difficult. You’ve got to take a good, hard look at what other options your customers have. Even when it isn’t direct competition. For example, customers taking a short trip aren’t only considering which airline is best, they are considering if they should drive instead. Or take a train. Or perhaps not go at all.

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