If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re probably embracing the new year and excited to make 2017 your best year ever. To help you get started, we’ve created a long list of our top takeaways from each post on the ONTRAPORT Blog.
Reflecting on the past year, here’s what we learned:
Focus less on doing work, and focus more on building systems and processes that do the work for you because business building is system building.
Systems should clarify the steps required in enough detail that anyone qualified to do the job should be able to successfully accomplish it just by reading the documentation. That makes it possible to delegate or even automate these responsibilities, helping you build a scalable, manageable business.
Making many small, positive changes over time eventually leads to happier customers, a more efficient business, loyal employees, more profit, and an organization that’s much easier to manage.
A strong positioning statement succinctly expresses your business’s benefits to your target market while explaining why it’s unique.
Pay attention to demand to find out what people are buying, and offer a different option (either from a different price point or product feature) that has value and stands out. This is an easy, low-friction way to access instant revenue in a proven market.
The rule of thumb: Always charge your clients three times your hard costs — one third goes to the employee or contractor and covers their wages, benefits, taxes, etc.; the next third covers your overhead as a business owner, and the last third is your profit margin.
Deliver on your end, and your clients are compelled to deliver on theirs, ensuring that you’re always compensated for your hard work and proprietary skillset.
Your billing rates for work performed by independent contractors should be your hard costs multiplied by three. So, if your independent contractor is likely to incur expenses while performing his or her work, you should set limits and give yourself the opportunity to approve all expenses in advance and incorporate them into the phase-by-phase fees on the client contract.
Integrate keyword-rich internal links to other pages on your website via navigation or anchor text to help search engines index your site and keep visitors on your domain.
In most online learning environments, students absorb information on their own, in isolation. Without indicators of how much they’ve completed and what’s left to get through, it can be a lonely proposition that many learners abandon or give up on.
Writing great copy really isn’t about talking about yourself, your product or your business. It’s about getting into your customers’ minds, figuring out what matters to them, and bridging the gap between their pain points and the solution/benefit your product provides.
Your “from” name and email address play a big part in getting your email delivered successfully. Make sure it’s consistent and immediately recognizable so your readers don’t trash it when sifting through their emails.
You are guaranteed to get an increased response to your marketing by tweaking your message to match your prospects’ interests, belief systems, stage in the buying cycle, gender, race, social status and more.
If you’re just improvising when it comes to launching new marketing campaigns or jumping from trend to trend without fully executing any strategy from start to finish, it’s unlikely that you’ll see the results you wanted.
Finding a good location to shoot videos can be challenging, but it makes a big difference in your final product. Fashioning your conference rooms for dual purposes — both meetings and video shoots — doubles the value you can derive from your office space.
Your landing pages are an extension of your brand, so it’s incredibly important that every visual detail aligns with your brand personality. Consistency across your visual elements will ultimately create engagement and loyalty.
Segment your customers based on their interests, preferences or any other criteria you want. This allows you to identify each individual’s biggest pain points so that you can help them solve their problems more effectively. This will result in higher email open and click-through rates and ultimately more sales.
Creating 10x content will help you dominate search rankings and scare off competitors who don’t have the time, money or resources to create a piece of content like yours. That’s a huge competitive advantage.
Landing pages are fundamentally essential to building a successful business online; they remove clutter that could distract your visitors from taking the action you want them to take. The more specific, simple and streamlined a page is, the more likely the user will take the desired action.
Improving your landing pages boils down to a few basic ideas: Meet your visitors where they are on their journey; don’t oversell; and make it exceedingly easy for them to make a decision.
When mapping, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your map should be complete enough that you could hand it to someone who’s not familiar with your system and have them carry it out for you without missing a single detail.
If you need to gather a lot of lead information specific to your business but don’t want to deter visitors with multiple form fields, try using progressive profiling, which prompts visitors to fill out a short lead capture form, after which they’re taken to a different page where a longer form prompts for more detailed information. This way, even if they bail after the initial form, you still have their basic contact information.
Rather than a static menu of products and services, your website should be an interactive hub where customers come for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Although making a great visual impression on your customers really helps, the true goal of your presence online should be to generate leads.
A lead capture page, a sales page, an order page, a content delivery page, and a thank you page are the key ingredients to marketing your product and attracting customers.
Your landing page headlines and subheaders need to be easily understandable to ensure the visitors know at-a-glance exactly what the page is offering them. Can a stranger understand the purpose of your page in three to five seconds?
Nothing slows a company’s growth like trying to juggle too many competing priorities or a confusing product offering. Even if it hurts in the short-term, by focusing on the clearest value proposition you have to offer, you can dramatically increase your shot at success in the long-term.
Selling too cheaply undermines your brand, your ability to advertise, and your profit margins. Asking too much presents its own challenges. Finding the right balance is key to your membership site’s success.
There’s no possible way that you are going to achieve your vision of freedom, financial abundance and fulfillment by answering more phone calls, handing out more business cards, making another appointment or working longer hours.
A major pain point plaguing businesses today concerns their protocol in handling bad credit cards — whether maxed out or expired. Implementing a card expiration/decline follow-up process into your membership site payment management system can make all the difference.
“In today’s job market and entrepreneurial landscape, there is no room for being another face in the crowd. You have to separate yourself from the competition. You have to be more appealing to your target audience, and you can achieve it by creating a recognizable personal brand.”
To build anticipation around your soon-to-be-released content, give members a taste of what’s to come. By utilizing drip content functionality, you’re able to leak blocks of your new content — also known as cliffhanger content — to eager members. Leave them with an unfinished piece and they’ll be yearning for the rest.
The key to all good marketing copywriting (and sales strategy too) is in selling the outcome — the desired state where life is better in some way after buying your product. Remembering this simple principle takes the pain out of copywriting. Give it a try next time you sit down to write an email, landing page or advertisement.
Nothing kills a deal faster than flubbing your response when a potential buyer brings up an objection for which you don’t have an answer. To avoid the awkwardness of this situation, start getting familiar with the most common objections out there, and practice answering them.
Adding video to your marketing strategy doesn’t have to be expensive; you can start by shooting right on your iPhone.
Unlike most online ecommerce brands, Nasty Gal has an impressive track record of selling inventory without having to resort to markdowns. To avoid getting stuck with inventory that won’t sell, according to a profile of the business in Forbes, they only buy limited runs — so they manage to sell 93% of their stock at full price.
A smart way to increase conversions is to consider your customers’ biggest fears about buying your product, and then address them with a guarantee. The goal is to promise your customers something that will negate their excuse for not responding to your call to action today.
Start by conquering your home country or niche several months before. Work out the kinks in your customer experience, and allow ample time for gathering feedback. Then, following your market research, strategically focus your efforts on ONE country (or region) in which you’re projected to succeed, and scale as needed to meet international demand.
Because customer product reviews and testimonials are user-generated, they are highly valuable pieces of content to your potential customers. Customer reviews also mean your site will continuously be updated with a constant stream of content (Google loves regularly updated pages), without any time spent on your part.
How you brand yourself is everything. A strong personal brand that showcases your expertise gives you credibility and a unique edge over a sea of competition. As Shelby Larson, co-owner of Content Divas said, “I recently closed the biggest deal of my life and it wasn’t because of my website, but how I positioned myself as a force in the content marketing space.”
By changing the format or medium on which you present your content, it can reach a vastly greater or completely different audience. This allows you to reuse and extend the life of your best content exponentially.
The Content Aggregator post is about finding content that is ALREADY popular and aggregating it to create a post that is virtually guaranteed to please your audience (think social sharing) and the search engines (think traffic from Google search).
Your marketing is a reflection on your brand, and it’s part of the overall customer experience. Are your marketing campaigns creating an experience that’s consistent with the rest of your brand?
Before you publish your next landing page or blog article, take a moment to stop and consider whether you’ve chosen the most effective headline possible. Does it tell readers exactly what to expect from the content? Does it present your content in an appealing way that’s sure to engage their curiosity? Does it match the message of the ads you’re using?
When releasing content of your very own —whether via your blog, social media accounts or any other marketing platform — you’ll want to put forth only the highest-quality posts that your business is capable of producing. The burden of generating all that content, however, should not rest entirely on you (or a full-time employee).
The hashtag should be unique to the content, campaign or event that you’re promoting. Before posting, check to make sure the hashtag you want to use hasn’t already been widely adopted in relation to a different topic. Use hashtagify.me to check existing hashtags, their prevalence and whether they’re trending.
Although it’s highly tempting to write “clickbait” style headlines in an attempt to get more readers to click on your content, if you go overboard you can easily disillusion your readers. Seriously Simple Marketing calls clickbait headlines “sometimes clever, often misleading, and 100% distracting.” These irresistible headlines often don’t deliver what they promise and are often nothing more than a bait and switch.
BuzzSumo is the ideal platform for keeping tabs on the performance of your content while providing quick and actionable guidance on improving your content promotion. CrazyEgg gives you a ton of information on how your web pages are performing and what can be tweaked for higher engagement.
Process mapping is a great and functional way to create a workflow diagram that visually represents each step in a campaign to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. It also helps you catch gaps in your processes that could cause you to lose leads and sales.
If you sell a product involving a payment plan or membership subscription, you should have in place automated recharge settings, messages and reminders to manage those customers properly. Often, entrepreneurs operating on an automation platform forget to remove access to or pause a membership in the event of a credit card decline.
By understanding the ways in which people process information and the psychological principles at play during the sales and marketing process, you can learn better how to persuade website visitors to buy from you.
If you’re finding yourself inundated with pressing manual tasks that get delayed abruptly by process bottlenecks, juggling disparate web tools, and/or without a dependable way to track your business trajectory, something’s gotta give. Entrepreneurs playing the long game all have one thing in common: They’ve systematically phased out manual, recurring processes in exchange for automated systems.
Your content needs to answer common questions, present new ideas, offer solutions to your readers’ problems and, most of all, provide value. What’s the best way to do that? Create long-form, highly engaging content of the utmost quality. In simplest terms, your content should be (or at least aim to be) 10 times better than any other piece of content for a given topic.
We all like having options, but flashing too many options in front of a prospect who is ready to purchase is a recipe for disaster. Strategically limit the number of additional choices that you offer your customers upon checkout.
Let’s say someone lands on your beautifully designed sales page, begins filling out your order form and — for whatever reason — abandons the purchase. Leads don’t get much hotter than that! By not following up with that contact via email or SMS, you’re playing against the decent odds of a sale.
Product orbit is a sales strategy in which your product offerings naturally lead into one another. This allows you not only to have a product for every stage of your customer’s growth cycle, but it also lets you target new customers along the spectrum. Think of it as the orbit of a satellite in space. Your customers have their own orbit within your business in which they move closer to different products.
Automated, two-way, personalized SMS messaging allows you to communicate with your prospects and customers with a message that’ll almost always get read. While it’s not a new concept in the marketing world, it’s often overlooked in favor of social media or email marketing. However, SMS is a great tool to utilize in your business, especially for following up with customers.
Do you feel as though you can be generating more sales, but it’s just not happening? It’s not that your product or service isn’t great or that you, the business owner, aren’t smart enough. It’s just that people get easily distracted. What you need is a systemized marketing follow-up sequence.
A business shouldn’t cease functioning if the captain isn’t at the helm 24/7. If it does, it’s not a business. Business automation ensures all the moving parts continue to work together unabated, unmanned — both internal as well as client facing. In businesses plagued with complicated hierarchies, bottlenecks and disparate technology, business automation offers an easy fix to simplify and streamline what was once a tangled web of internal processes.
Behavioral information tells you the actions someone takes (such as visiting your website, clicking a link from an SMS message or opening an email) after they’ve completed a form and become part of your ONTRAPORT database. The database can track these actions, and you can assign point values to the actions depending on their level of importance to you and their likelihood of leading to a sale.
An easy way to find hot leads is by promoting tripwire products, which are inexpensive products that are easy to sell (leads will buy them without needing to talk with your team). For example, say you’re in the life-coaching business. You could sell an ebook for $10 that contains some of your best strategies. Whenever someone buys that ebook, you know they’re far more likely to buy your coaching services because they’ve already taken an action that indicates a strong interest.
One thing that makes editors so helpful — and that makes editing your own work so hard — is that they bring fresh eyes to your copy and to your overall story as well. The best way I’ve found to do this is to write a draft and then put it aside. To do this well, you’ll need to build extra time into your writing schedule, but it’s the single easiest thing you can do to improve your work. Once you come back to the piece, you’ll be able to assess it with clearer eyes.
According to Online Marketing Institute, businesses that automate their lead nurture process experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. Rather than missing out on opportunities to make a sale because of inconsistent follow-up, use automated systems to nurture leads you already have for a serious ROI boost.
No more late-night struggles demystifying QuickBooks or pulling out your hair trying to learn Photoshop: A virtual assistant can have an immediate and beneficial impact on your business’s productivity and your sanity. You’ll, of course, want to find a qualified virtual assistant who’s perfect for your role, and to find the right person, you’ll need to do some ground work.
When you’re speaking to a prospective client in person, you do this naturally. You ask questions and respond to their answers in ways that make sense. When you get the feeling that the person you’re speaking with isn’t interested, you’ll simply change your approach or move on. Unfortunately, when you’re using automated tools to communicate your value proposition, this doesn’t come quite as easily. Too often, people don’t care about what you’re sharing, but your marketing machine keeps blabbing on as if it had a rapt audience. This leads to all sorts of bad outcomes for your business, such as fewer sales and poor email delivery.
Current customers who love your brand are your greatest tool for influencing buying decisions for your product. A confident recommendation of your product invites your brand into a pre-existing circle of trust between your brand advocates and those they refer. This is why referral leads are so valuable and tend to have much higher retention rates than organic leads.
The providers and promoters of single-point solutions have a primary argument which is this: Because they can focus on one feature, they’ll inevitably be better at it than anyone who takes on more. However, the world is full of extraordinary examples of the opposite being true. All-in-one platforms are a true solution for the problems faced by the vast majority of entrepreneurs.
Milestone bonuses are the backbone of any partner marketing program, as they give your referrers something to strive for. Set up a “first sale bonus” to motivate them to start promoting as soon as possible. From there, build a milestone calendar with rewards that scale with more sales or at set revenue thresholds.
With over one billion users and over six billion hours of video viewed each month, YouTube has one of the largest reaches of any media platform in the world. If you can dominate your niche using video now, your views — which determine your potential referral revenue — will increase over time. You’ll also establish a consistent audience that will fluctuate less than other marketing platforms such as Facebook, as YouTube’s algorithm is less likely to change.
Loot Crate, a “geek subscription box” company, was recently ranked #1 on the Inc. 5000 as the nation’s fastest-growing private company — and the company credits it all to referral programs. Dropbox similarly grew, from 100,000 to 4,000,000 users in just 15 months, due to the success of its referral program. And Paypal used referral programs to jump from 7% to 10% daily growth. There’s no question that referral programs have the power to expand a business’s reach exponentially.
Create a single, highly-refined offer that provides real value to page visitors. Don’t try to jam multiple offers onto one page; you don’t want to overwhelm visitors with choices. Instead, lead visitors to take the one desired action on the page.
Most holiday shopping revolves around a fixed deadline of the actual holiday, so there’s already a natural sense of urgency built into seasonal shopping. You can make the most of that urgency by designing time-sensitive campaigns that expire on a particular day, then display the time that customers have left to take advantage of your deal on an ONTRApage.
Lead scoring is one system that’s better when automated. You can set up what constitutes a hot lead for your business and let your automation system evaluate and update your contacts based on those factors. Ultimately, lead scoring allows you to focus on the leads who are most likely to buy and keep your sales reps from wasting time on those who aren’t.
Determine metrics for success with your partner before getting started. Success metrics based on your goals will enable you to take the temperature of the partnership in an objective way. Determine not only what constitutes a “winning” partnership, but a timeframe for that win.
Once you’ve gathered an audience, you can use their email addresses and browser tracking pixels to target them with retargeting ads for entry-level products. Meanwhile, you should stay in touch with them over time by sending regular emails with valuable new content and occasional offers for an entry-level product, which will take you to the next phase: evaluation.
Integrating SMS into your marketing campaign will boost your ROI and engagement; however, many businesses neglect the responses that they receive via SMS. A simple reply or follow-up text from you could be the difference between your customers using your offer or ignoring it. In ONTRAPORT, it’s easy to set up a task that will send you a text message prompting you to follow up whenever a contact replies to your SMS messages.