Clever pre-launch marketing tactic – Register to win

lofree pre launch marketing

This new keyboard appeared on my Pinterest feed and was so super cute, I immediately clicked to learn more. It’s a keyboard designed to look – and sound – like an old-school typewriter. I must have one…

Turns out the product is yet to be released – and whoever is in charge of marketing it is as good at their job as the designer who came up with this product. It’s getting excellent social exposure already, with that social driving people to their site…where it’s not yet for sale.

The purpose of the site, however, is to build their email database. So that when they ARE ready to launch, they’ve got an opt-in audience keen to hear and buy. As you land at the site, you’re prompted to put in your email and be notified when the product is available to buy.

lofree

And just in case you weren’t super keen to leave your email, they’ve even incentivised it – sign up and you could WIN one of 20. Needless to say, I left my email!

It’s a little like a Kickstarter approach, where you ensure there’s a pre-paid marketing for your product before you actually make it.

There’s real zero budget marketing merit in building an audience to market to before launch. Essentially, it means you’re not paying for access to someone else’s audience! It’s also a chance to gauge interest (as so if you’re still at manufacturing stage, you can potentially order more) and even experiment with marketing messages and imagery.

This approach is a reminder that a ‘launch’ doesn’t need to be conducted one way. The design and presentation of this product is also a reminder that a special or stand-out product needs less ‘marketing’ than and copycat/me too product. People are going to want to spread the word – the best and cheapest form of marketing.

Thanks to lofree for providing some unintended marketing inspo – and please release your keyboard soon because I want it…badly!

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Don’t assume all web visitors are the same – B2B marketing tip

We tend to create one website and assume all our web visitors will be the same. That they have the same needs. The same level of understanding. That they are at the same place in the purchasing cycle.

Which is wrong, of course. Even just reading it, you were probably already thinking that!

Yet creating a website is such a big job, with so many decision to make about so many elements, that somewhere along the way we forget that it’s going to be read by all sorts of people, at all sorts of stages of the buying cycle.

Which is why it’s great to come across some inspiration of how to improve your site along the way. (Because you should never just build a site and forget about it – you should constantly be seeking ways to improve how it works for you.)

I got a great little reminder the other day when I came across the Insightly website when investigating CRM tools. They’ve recognised that CRM a technical product with all sorts of level of understanding – and so this is what greeted me on the landing page.

B2b services marketing

It’s a very clever way to not scare off newbies – and help visitors choose their own path through their site – that would also improve Insightly’s chance of selling to them. Which is really what a website should be: a key sales and marketing tool.

They didn’t stop at this. Further down the page there were free resources – again, for all sorts of businesses and needs. It’s far from the ‘one size fits all’ that many B2B and services marketing firms take with their website.

Resources

It’s worth remembering that whilst it’s more work to take this approach – it doesn’t really need to cost you any more. As with all zero budget marketing inspiration, it’s about spending creativity and energy – not dollars!

So remember: not all your website visitors are the same, especially if you’re in the B2B or services marketing space. It’s less about how your website looks and more about how your website works! Spend the time to perform some analysis and so some thinking to determine the type of visitor categorisation you might be able to do, to help better answer their questions…and so be in a better position to sell your service as the right answer.

What is the world wondering about? Google 2016 trending searches

Before we commence planning for 2017, it’s worth reflecting on 2016. What worked in marketing your business…and what didn’t work? Did you see any micro -or macro- changes occurring to your market or industry. And what’s been important to your target market: your all important customers?

One tool to provide some insight into that final question is Google’s 2016 trending searches tool (Google’s Year in Search) – an intriguing, somewhat bizarre and occasionally depressing insight what the world was wondering about, month by month, last year.

Many of the breakout searches were people (often celebrities), some elements of popular culture, some new businesses, some new terms…and some are things I’m still scratching my head about!

It does demonstrate, however, that what is fascinating people really changes month by month. Likely, day by day. What lessons are there in that for those of us in marketing? If you’re trying to get some traction in social media and blogging, or simply like to be in tune with the zeitgeist, keeping on top of what people are interested in “right now” can be a powerful connectivity tool. Whilst this (free) tool is looking backwards, you can use the (free) Google Trend tool all year round. And if you’re not in that sort of market? It is amusing to check it out for the curiosity value alone!

What is the world thinking?

Check it out online here.

When SEO isn’t about Google and is about people – The marketing value of meta descriptions

Digital marketing can’t really be called digital marketing any longer. For anyone marketing a business, digital is now so core to our work that it’s really just “marketing”.  Which means we need to constantly learn new skills because technology doesn’t stand still (as much as we’d sometimes like it to). And along the way, we also need to be reminded of some older skills and activities – things we know but sometimes forget about. One of these is the marketing value of meta descriptions.

Meta description is a rather ugly and technical sounding name for “the little bit of copy Google displays when showing a search result for your business”.  Which still doesn’t sound that interesting and exciting…until you remember that this little bit of copy can be hugely important on whether people choose to click on your search result, thus visiting your site and spending money with you. Your SEO work often focuses on APPEARING in the search results – your meta descriptions are what help complete that last step of a personal clicking on your search result.

Yet all too often, businesses have default meta descriptions appear, or worse still, have messy code or blocked results show up. Which makes people far less likely to click on your business in a search results page. And this is a missed opportunity: a true ‘zero budget marketing’ opportunity as all it takes to improve your opportunity for clicks – and so visitors – is a little bit of time in copywriting.

How meta descriptions can appear

An example of the marketing value of meta descriptions can be seen in the examples below. This is a search on Google for “little black dress”. The first result for The Iconic isn’t too bad, although it’s largely a default meta description. However, the next three – for the-lbd, asos and Hello Molly – are custom written. And they are persuasive and let people know what they’ll find when they click. The final result, for boohoo, is what happens when you let Google grab something random from your site for a meta description.

search results for little black dress

Using webmaster tools to identify missed opportunities

I recently found myself looking at Google webmaster tools (aka Google search console) for a retail site I work with. If you don’t use Google Search Console, you should. It is an awesome (free) tool that shows what search terms customers are finding you through and for those terms, your clicks, impressions, click through rate (CTR) and position you appear in for various search terms.

So I was checking the search terms we rank for. It struck me that for some of the terms we were not getting the CTR we should be. That is, we were showing up for the right term, on page one of Google, but not enough people were clicking on us.

And this is where meta descriptions and pages titles suddenly become really important.  Because almost the only thing that affects what people click on is what shows up for your search result: your page title and meta description. Now, I say ‘almost only’ because other factors do come into play – they suddenly remember they’ve done business with a competitor that appears, or get enticed by a Google advert instead – but meta description and title the only real factor you can actually control.

A copywriting test & resubmitting your URL.

I decided to test whether changing the meta descriptions, and tweaking page titles, would make enough of a difference to make the effort worthwhile. It does require some effort because there ARE default meta descriptions for the site that weren’t too bad. And manually changing them – particular for a retail site with lots of SKUs – is time consuming. But it’s something that’s free to try, so I

I focused on the keywords that were getting the most impressions first. So I picked fifteen keywords, put them into Google to see what the search results showed. Then I rewrote these meta descriptions (inside my CMS), keeping the old copy on file and adding the new copy or page title.

The final step is re-submitting the page to Google to crawl (which you also do in the search console under the CRAWL site menu and then “fetch as Google”. I found it only took a day or so for Google to recrawl the site and have the new meta descriptions appear.

Of 15 rewritten meta descriptions, 12 resulted in significantly more clicks

When I say significantly more clicks, some of the CTRs moved up several percentage points, most at least one percentage point. Extrapolate that out to your top 50 search terms and that can mean a whole more clicks – and a lot more potential business.

So what sort of thing did I change? Ultimately, I focused on putting more about what the customer would find when they clicked. I conveyed breadth of range. I also added location information, so that people would know that this was an Australian site. I tried to make it more compelling and persuasive and clear.

I’ll share one example. The search term was “washi tape” – changing the copy took the CTR from 6.5% to 7.9% – which translates to 91 new prospective customers in a month for this term alone.

Old copy
Notemaker has a wide range of washi tapes, available in different sizes, patterns & colours. Shop online with Australia’s leading stationery store!

New copy
Australia’s widest range of washi tapes. So many sizes, patterns & colours in popular Japanese washi tape. Hundreds available! Many on sale. Buy online today.

So the difference weren’t huge. But it did make a noticeable (positive) difference within a month. A positive test and one that I’ll be continuing to roll out for top keywords.

The reason it’s worth treating this like “a test” is not only to track your successes: it’s to find what didn’t work.  Two terms did noticeably worse when I changed them, even though I thought the copy was better. So I’ll be changing those back!

A work in progress

Gaining real marketing value from meta descriptions isn’t a once off activity. It’s something you’d ideally look at monthly, or every few months, to see where there are gains to be made. It’s something you can do yourself if you don’t have the resources to pay someone too. And it can provide more visitors – and so more potential sales – without a big investment.

So what is the marketing value of meta descriptions? It’s a zero budget marketing tool that’s potentially hugely powerful in bringing you prospective customers, yet one all too easy to forget about! Good luck with your own testing!

 

To pop up, or not pop up, that is the question

The challenge with most marketing is that you’re dealing with clients or bosses who say to you “I don’t like that” or “That annoys me” when you recommend a tactic. The “pop up box” encouraging sign ups on a website is one of these tactics that can be hard to convince people of. Because they are a bit annoying. They also work.

I’ve successfully implemented a pop up box now several times. Each time, it has immediately driven increased list sign up – and increased conversions. Despite sharing these experiences, it can still be hard to convince people. So I was pleased to see this new research report of 400 online retailers that pretty definitively shuts down the argument.

According to a recent study by email marketing firm Listrack, pop-ups can help retailers nearly double the rate at which they sign up consumers to receive marketing email. A pop up that includes an incentive, like a percentage off offer, results in an average list increase over a year of a whopping 47.8%!

I haven’t ever gotten a 50% bump. But I have achieved a 20-30% bump. It works best when you have an incentive – both in the box and on the thank you page (and ideally the follow up email with the chance to offer something like an upsell). It’s the ideal zero budget marketing tactic – beyond a little bit of form design, you’re spending nothing at all to increase your marketing effectiveness!

So if you don’t have a pop up box on your website to capture visitors that don’t buy, you’re wasting an opportunity. That opportunity is building your database so that you have a chance to convert visitors later. A sad fact of eCommerce and other websites is that we only convert a small fraction of visitors to buyers. So why not try and capture information of engaged visitors to try and convince them later.

And if you’re left wondering still what a pop up box is…here’s a few examples I’ve come across recently that might help with increasing sign ups to your own website.

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The upsell is a great zero budget marketing technique

Why is the up-sell and ideal ‘zero budget marketing’ technique? It’s additional ‘sales’ with no real additional effort!

I was reminded of the power of the upsell recently when I booked a hotel room at The Cullen in Melbourne. After completing my booking, I was offered a selection of potential paid upgrades. And I opted for the Cullen Suite ‘potential’ upgrade.

Now what’s funny is that I’d know about the suite but had decided I should probably just go with the cheaper room. Yet when it was then offered it after I’d already committed to booking with the hotel, I wavered and committed to the upgrade. And thus if the suite is available when I arrive, the hotel makes another $200 off me. And all it took was some clever thinking on their part.

I doubt I’m the only easily swayed consumer out there. In fact, I know I’m not. It’s the same reason it’s easier to convert a subscriber to a buyer at the time they sign up. We make decisions all the time, but they’re rarely set in stone. As consumers, we’re open to persuasion, especially when we think they’re something in it for us: a better deal, a better offer.

So where could you incorporate a ‘good value’ upsell in your sales process?

cullen-upgrade

Review: Cool free image editing tool to check out – Pic Monkey

Oh, I do love a free online tool. The latest one I’ve come across is PicMonkey and I’m rather sad I’ve only just learned about it. It allows you to do a whole host of photo editing but without the complexity (and expense) of Photoshop or the clunky-ness of apps like Acorn.

You can do a bunch of things – colourise, add text, add effects, use filters, fix blemishes, round corners – all very useful stuff. I’ve been a little OTT with the “before and after” below, but you’ll get the idea. This is super-easy to use and uses “real” language to explain the effects.

So if you’re not a graphic design pro but need to make occasional image edits – personally or for marketing activities like social media- it’s a great solution.

And as it’s free it’s a tool to test drive and then bookmark in your zero budget marketing toolkit.

Off to have more of a tinker….

BEFORE

AFTER

Web Design Review: Single page web design – what’s to like, what’s not

If you’re a business that uses the web to attract business or convey key information, your website is a vital asset: I’d argue – your most important online asset. Yet we often put a LOT of time into a website when we’re building it – then forget to review it regularly to:

(a) ensures it’s up to date
(b) that everything still works and
(c) that it’s keeping up with current web trends.

(And as good zero budget marketers know, it’s about optimising what you’re already doing, rather than continually starting from scratch.)

In terms of current web trends, one trend is “single page” style sites – I’m seeing more of these lately, particularly in the bar and restaurant space. They feel a bit “old school” and “new school” all at the same time.

The style has some benefits – primarily that all the information is in front of you with virtually no clicking required. So I think it can work well EXCEPT when web designers forget that a BIG chunk of people access the web from mobile devices – largely, Smartphones (particularly to look for bars and restaurants). So if you’re ever going to invest in a mobile version of your site, now is the time. But I digress…back to the single page site.

I thought it would be helpful to look at a specific example: the site for Hanoi Hannah, a newish restaurant in Windsor. It’s a spot that we were planning on trying for dinner, so I looked it up to get their details and make a booking.

First impressions: I love the design – it immediately “brands” it as funky and let’s you know the style of dining you can expect. It has a real “fresh” feel. You can also find what you want fairly easily –  when what you want is location, phone number and opening hours.

Challenges: You actually want to read all the cool stuff on the right – but when you zoom in it becomes pixelated so you can’t read it…I suspect a bad case of “print design incorrectly applied to the web”.

It also suffers from not incorporating a newsfeed – which matters when you’re trying to call and book for dinner on the 7th January but after several “sorry, no-one is here to take your call” phone answering machine responses I checked the facebook page and find they’re closed till 14th Jan. Unhelpful! A newsfeed from their facebook page would have been an easy way to ensure the message they put on that page showed up on their website.

Finally, they haven’t made a mobile version, so it becomes very hard to navigate on my iphone. I’ve included a screenshot below.

Finally – when I was looking for the site on my iphone (and subsequently on my computer), I noticed their web design company hasn’t done the best job with the meta tags and page descriptions as the automatically generated google snippet that displays in search results is just generating image names.

Wrap up: This site is a great start – and all the “challenges” can be addressed. So if you’re pondering a web update to a streamlined “single page” site, learn from what works and doesn’t work in this example.

Handy (and cheap) deep etching service for photos

Just a quick one today – but this is such a great potential “zero budget” service for any of you selling online, or in PR, that I thought it rated a mention.

Pheditor is an Aussie based super cheap a photo editing service.

You upload pics to be “deep etched” (basically cut out of their background) and they do it in 2-3 days for $5 a shot or less If you have to pay a graphic designer to do it, you will pay anywhere from $30-$60 an image. So it really is a bargain and firmly in the zero budget marketing tools camp.

Why would you deep etch an image? It gives you a clean image to use online, or in a catalogue or editorial spread. I’ve used a pic from their blog to illustrate.

I’ve never used these guys, and I don’t know them, but this is such a good price it’s worth checking out if you need the service.

Looking for cost savings isn’t just for small business

Sometimes the assumption with “zero budget” marketing is that it’s only for new / start up / tiny businesses. But every day huge businesses are looking for ways to cut their spend, wherever they can, if it’s not delivering results OR if they have come across a smarter way to approach a marketing challenge.

In January of this year, the Procter & Gamble CEO advised Wall Street he was scaling back his company’s $10 billion annual ad budget (mostly in traditional media) to take advantage of free impressions offered by Facebook in the form of Likes and status updates. Yes, you read it right, $10 billion!

General Motors has recently followed suit in cutting their Facebook spend. That’s two out of America’s top three biggest advertisers. More on this here.

The two decisions were made for different reasons (GM isn’t convinced Facebook ads are effective; P&G was seeking free media efficiencies) but they’re linked.

It appears to be dawning on some businesses budgets that if your marketing content is interesting enough – engaging enough – you don’t NEED to advertise on Facebook. Advertising on Facebook is can be free, if you can create something compelling enough to go viral. It goes back to ensuring your product, service – or marketing message – is remarkable.

Or put simply – stop shouting, start engaging with your market.