7 Ways to Use Your Personal Brand to Find More Clients

I’ve used a lot of different digital marketing tactics over the years.

SEO has been the main one.

Content marketing comes a close second.

But I’ve also used social media marketing, influencer marketing, video marketing, pay per click advertising, affiliate marketing, email marketing….

If it’s “digital” and “marketing,” I’ve probably done it.

But there’s one form of marketing that doesn’t fit neatly into the “digital” category.

It’s a mashup of personal, professional, digital, social, content, and whatever else.

It’s personal branding.

Personal branding is huge.

In fact, if you expect to succeed in any way in today’s socially-connected and digitally-driven world, you have to build your personal brand.

Personal branding isn’t just for celebrities.

It’s not just for big-shot entrepreneurs.

It’s not just for wantrepreneurs.

It’s not just for selfie-obsessed egotists.

It’s for everybody!

An article in Elite Daily puts it like this:

We often think about branding as something done only by large corporations, but everyone has a personal brand.

Everyone.

You may fill a back-office role in a massive agency, but you still need personal branding.

You may be an introvert who avoids other humans, but you still need personal branding.

If I were to pick one form of marketing that has been crucial to my personal development, professional success, and level of achievement, I’d have to say it’s personal branding.

In fact, I can point to a number of occasions when my personal brand has provided me with clients.

Over the years, I’ve learned several super helpful tips for cultivating my personal brand to build my client base.

My new audiences have not always grown quickly. It takes years to create credibility and grow your influence.

Personal branding is hard that way. You can’t simply pull out a few tactics, throw some money at it, and expect it to work.

Thankfully, however, there are some tried-and-true tactics that will give you a real edge. Some of them are really basic, e.g., being honest and authentic.

Others are creative, e.g., investing in strong visuals.

But all of them work. Give them a try. Take some time, and your personal brand can become a source of clients, just as it has with me.

The tips that follow are slanted towards content. Along with your personal brand building, you should also be using content marketing for your growth.

Tip #1: Show you’re an expert

The number one method for demonstrating your expertise is through rock-solid, long-form, super-helpful content.

Content wins the day. It’s just that simple.

You have to set yourself apart in an online space, where you are competing with other brands for the attention of your new customers.

To do this, show you are an expert in your field.

You can do this by establishing your credibility through talking about the clients you have worked with and the years you have been in the industry.

But you can also communicate this more creatively through tip sheets and Buzzfeed-like lists, which can give your audience information that matters in their lives.

Obviously, showing you’re an expert means two things:

  1. Choosing an area of expertise.
  2. Being an actual expert.

Don’t let number two trip you up.

Have you ever heard the phrase “fake it till you make it?”

There’s some truth to that. If you don’t feel like an expert, don’t sweat it. Just act like one.

Pretty soon, you’ll become one (even if you don’t feel it). Then, you can show you’re one.

Tip #2: Appeal to Millennials

You can’t leave Millennials out of the mix when you are building your personal brand to leverage a new audience.

Want to know why?

Here’s why.

image2

Millennials will be the number one demographic that sees and responds to your personal brand.

One of the most important changes you can make in your branding communication is the social platforms you use and the kinds of content you create.

Why? Because Millennials are the socially connected generation.

Use popular social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat to market your personal brand.

In addition, create content such as videos to grab the attention of your audience and market your expertise.

Tip #3: Be authentic and transparent

One of the most important things you can do as you market your personal brand is to remain authentic and transparent.

Case in point is entrepreneur and coach Leigh Louey-Gung, who created a strong business for himself through a process of radical honesty.

image1

Leigh was passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and created Secure Thoughts to help educate them about maintaining privacy on the web.

We are marketers at the end of the day, and you are crafting a specific narrative about yourself.

Remember, you always have to come through on your promises and back up what you say to your audience.

If you don’t, they will have no problem walking away.

Many of the clients I serve today came to me because they were scammed by some other agency.

I was able to maintain my integrity, keep my promises, and give them results.

Tip #4: Invest in strong visuals

I hate to say it, but if someone sees low quality photos on your site, they will subconsciously perceive you as not trustworthy or as unprofessional.

Get ahead of the game by having professional photos of yourself taken for your website.

Your photos and website may be your new customer’s first impression of you!

When I’m looking for a new hire, I can’t help but base my impression of them on their LinkedIn photo.

I’m trying very hard not to be biased against a blurry or drunken party profile pic, but it’s hard!

image5

One of the best ways to get clients through your personal branding is simply to look the part!

Tip #5: Incentivize your target audience

One of the fastest ways you can use your personal brand to build your target audience is by giving something away.

And I don’t mean just anything. If you can give away a great product related to your personal brand, you have a greater chance of attracting a new audience.

Entrepreneur Magazine, for example, highlights the case study of a women’s boutique that gave away a kimono in order to attract new customers.

This strategy works really well for building a personal brand.

Let’s say you’re building a personal brand as a copywriter.

Attract customers by asking them to enter a contest by submitting their email addresses. The prize could be free copywriting for a week or copywriting for a special project.

Simple? Sure. But effective? Absolutely.

Tip #6: Be known for something different

Have you noticed a lot of people’s Twitter bios sound the same?

Social marketing guru. Coffee aficionado. Cat lover.

If you’re not intentional, your effort at personal branding might not be making you known.

image4

Sounds familiar, right?

There are ways to set yourself apart, but it might feel uncomfortable.

For example, I learned (by accident) that wearing sunglasses (even at night) allowed me to build my personal brand.

image3

(You can read more about why I wear them here.)

The people who do really well at personal branding, always have one thing they’re well known for.

It might be weird. It might be uncomfortable. But it makes them memorable!

What about face-to-face networking and personal brand building?

You need to have a business card on hand that sets you apart. Think creatively, but make sure your card is simple and provides the information a new client needs.

Try a card, for example, that’s made of a smooth paper, has a non-standard shape, or is a die-cut. These cards are more interesting and can leave a bigger impression.

Tip #7: Form strong online relationships with influencers who can help

Even though we call it personal branding, it’s really not 100% personal.

Basically, you can’t do this on your own. And you shouldn’t even try.

Personal branding is all about connecting with others, serving others, helping others, getting to know others, learning from others, adding value to others.

If you view personal branding as a form of marketing (which it is), you have to remember what the heart of marketing is.

What’s the heart of marketing?

No, it’s not shouting your message to the masses.

It’s giving value to the right people!

Some of my best clients started out as friends of friends.

For example, early in my career, I met an individual at a conference. To be honest, his personal demeanor and grooming left a lot to be desired.

Most people ignored the guy. I spent some time with him and helped him out, doing what I could.

Eventually, he introduced me to more clients!

I didn’t realize it when I helped him the first time, but this guy was connected! And through him, I earned many more clients.

Over time, your relationships will help boost your personal brand and lead to a growing audience.

You may not be able to become BFFs with Tim Ferriss in your first few days of personal branding. Over time, however, you’ll build the right connections with the right audience and get the right clients.

Conclusion

Experiment with these seven pro tips for leveraging your personal brand to find a larger, more committed target audience.

As marketers, we have to be willing to take a few risks and to be creative in our approach.

You can use these tips to cultivate and attract your audience, but you’ll need to deliver on your content promises.

Your customers won’t be pleased in the long run if you’re not giving them new valuable information applicable to their lives or products that can make a difference for them personally.

If you’re ready to start building your audience and to attract new customers, use the tips in this article—they’ve worked for me as I’ve built my personal brand.

You’ll be on your way to charting a new path for your company and creating energy around your products and services.

Are you ready for an overhaul of your personal brand?

I’ve used a lot of different digital marketing tactics over the years.

SEO has been the main one.

Content marketing comes a close second.

But I’ve also used social media marketing, influencer marketing, video marketing, pay per click advertising, affiliate marketing, email marketing….

If it’s “digital” and “marketing,” I’ve probably done it.

But there’s one form of marketing that doesn’t fit neatly into the “digital” category.

It’s a mashup of personal, professional, digital, social, content, and whatever else.

It’s personal branding.

Personal branding is huge.

In fact, if you expect to succeed in any way in today’s socially-connected and digitally-driven world, you have to build your personal brand.

Personal branding isn’t just for celebrities.

It’s not just for big-shot entrepreneurs.

It’s not just for wantrepreneurs.

It’s not just for selfie-obsessed egotists.

It’s for everybody!

An article in Elite Daily puts it like this:

We often think about branding as something done only by large corporations, but everyone has a personal brand.

Everyone.

You may fill a back-office role in a massive agency, but you still need personal branding.

You may be an introvert who avoids other humans, but you still need personal branding.

If I were to pick one form of marketing that has been crucial to my personal development, professional success, and level of achievement, I’d have to say it’s personal branding.

In fact, I can point to a number of occasions when my personal brand has provided me with clients.

Over the years, I’ve learned several super helpful tips for cultivating my personal brand to build my client base.

My new audiences have not always grown quickly. It takes years to create credibility and grow your influence.

Personal branding is hard that way. You can’t simply pull out a few tactics, throw some money at it, and expect it to work.

Thankfully, however, there are some tried-and-true tactics that will give you a real edge. Some of them are really basic, e.g., being honest and authentic.

Others are creative, e.g., investing in strong visuals.

But all of them work. Give them a try. Take some time, and your personal brand can become a source of clients, just as it has with me.

The tips that follow are slanted towards content. Along with your personal brand building, you should also be using content marketing for your growth.

Tip #1: Show you’re an expert

The number one method for demonstrating your expertise is through rock-solid, long-form, super-helpful content.

Content wins the day. It’s just that simple.

You have to set yourself apart in an online space, where you are competing with other brands for the attention of your new customers.

To do this, show you are an expert in your field.

You can do this by establishing your credibility through talking about the clients you have worked with and the years you have been in the industry.

But you can also communicate this more creatively through tip sheets and Buzzfeed-like lists, which can give your audience information that matters in their lives.

Obviously, showing you’re an expert means two things:

  1. Choosing an area of expertise.
  2. Being an actual expert.

Don’t let number two trip you up.

Have you ever heard the phrase “fake it till you make it?”

There’s some truth to that. If you don’t feel like an expert, don’t sweat it. Just act like one.

Pretty soon, you’ll become one (even if you don’t feel it). Then, you can show you’re one.

Tip #2: Appeal to Millennials

You can’t leave Millennials out of the mix when you are building your personal brand to leverage a new audience.

Want to know why?

Here’s why.

image2

Millennials will be the number one demographic that sees and responds to your personal brand.

One of the most important changes you can make in your branding communication is the social platforms you use and the kinds of content you create.

Why? Because Millennials are the socially connected generation.

Use popular social networks such as Instagram and Snapchat to market your personal brand.

In addition, create content such as videos to grab the attention of your audience and market your expertise.

Tip #3: Be authentic and transparent

One of the most important things you can do as you market your personal brand is to remain authentic and transparent.

Case in point is entrepreneur and coach Leigh Louey-Gung, who created a strong business for himself through a process of radical honesty.

image1

Leigh was passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and created Secure Thoughts to help educate them about maintaining privacy on the web.

We are marketers at the end of the day, and you are crafting a specific narrative about yourself.

Remember, you always have to come through on your promises and back up what you say to your audience.

If you don’t, they will have no problem walking away.

Many of the clients I serve today came to me because they were scammed by some other agency.

I was able to maintain my integrity, keep my promises, and give them results.

Tip #4: Invest in strong visuals

I hate to say it, but if someone sees low quality photos on your site, they will subconsciously perceive you as not trustworthy or as unprofessional.

Get ahead of the game by having professional photos of yourself taken for your website.

Your photos and website may be your new customer’s first impression of you!

When I’m looking for a new hire, I can’t help but base my impression of them on their LinkedIn photo.

I’m trying very hard not to be biased against a blurry or drunken party profile pic, but it’s hard!

image5

One of the best ways to get clients through your personal branding is simply to look the part!

Tip #5: Incentivize your target audience

One of the fastest ways you can use your personal brand to build your target audience is by giving something away.

And I don’t mean just anything. If you can give away a great product related to your personal brand, you have a greater chance of attracting a new audience.

Entrepreneur Magazine, for example, highlights the case study of a women’s boutique that gave away a kimono in order to attract new customers.

This strategy works really well for building a personal brand.

Let’s say you’re building a personal brand as a copywriter.

Attract customers by asking them to enter a contest by submitting their email addresses. The prize could be free copywriting for a week or copywriting for a special project.

Simple? Sure. But effective? Absolutely.

Tip #6: Be known for something different

Have you noticed a lot of people’s Twitter bios sound the same?

Social marketing guru. Coffee aficionado. Cat lover.

If you’re not intentional, your effort at personal branding might not be making you known.

image4

Sounds familiar, right?

There are ways to set yourself apart, but it might feel uncomfortable.

For example, I learned (by accident) that wearing sunglasses (even at night) allowed me to build my personal brand.

image3

(You can read more about why I wear them here.)

The people who do really well at personal branding, always have one thing they’re well known for.

It might be weird. It might be uncomfortable. But it makes them memorable!

What about face-to-face networking and personal brand building?

You need to have a business card on hand that sets you apart. Think creatively, but make sure your card is simple and provides the information a new client needs.

Try a card, for example, that’s made of a smooth paper, has a non-standard shape, or is a die-cut. These cards are more interesting and can leave a bigger impression.

Tip #7: Form strong online relationships with influencers who can help

Even though we call it personal branding, it’s really not 100% personal.

Basically, you can’t do this on your own. And you shouldn’t even try.

Personal branding is all about connecting with others, serving others, helping others, getting to know others, learning from others, adding value to others.

If you view personal branding as a form of marketing (which it is), you have to remember what the heart of marketing is.

What’s the heart of marketing?

No, it’s not shouting your message to the masses.

It’s giving value to the right people!

Some of my best clients started out as friends of friends.

For example, early in my career, I met an individual at a conference. To be honest, his personal demeanor and grooming left a lot to be desired.

Most people ignored the guy. I spent some time with him and helped him out, doing what I could.

Eventually, he introduced me to more clients!

I didn’t realize it when I helped him the first time, but this guy was connected! And through him, I earned many more clients.

Over time, your relationships will help boost your personal brand and lead to a growing audience.

You may not be able to become BFFs with Tim Ferriss in your first few days of personal branding. Over time, however, you’ll build the right connections with the right audience and get the right clients.

Conclusion

Experiment with these seven pro tips for leveraging your personal brand to find a larger, more committed target audience.

As marketers, we have to be willing to take a few risks and to be creative in our approach.

You can use these tips to cultivate and attract your audience, but you’ll need to deliver on your content promises.

Your customers won’t be pleased in the long run if you’re not giving them new valuable information applicable to their lives or products that can make a difference for them personally.

If you’re ready to start building your audience and to attract new customers, use the tips in this article—they’ve worked for me as I’ve built my personal brand.

You’ll be on your way to charting a new path for your company and creating energy around your products and services.

Are you ready for an overhaul of your personal brand?

9 digital marketing trends to stay on top of in 2017

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The experts weigh in on this year’s most important trends

It’s January 24, and marketers are striding forward into 2017. This post is a collection of predictions from a few of our favorite digital marketing experts on the trends that you must pay attention to this year.

From copy guru Joanna Wiebe, to Hubspot UX-pert Austin Knight, to Microsoft’s PPC pro Purna Virji, this list of trends comes from experts across the entire spectrum of digital marketing.

The trends range from slightly alarming (virtual reality advances, anyone?) to theoretical, to tactical, to reflective…but all of them are important for the modern marketer.

So, without further ado, here are the experts on the marketing trends you cannot ignore in 2017.

1: Visually intelligent marketing

Expert: Purna Virji, Senior Manager, PPC Training, Microsoft

I think a big trend for next year will be tapping into consumers’ visual-spatial intelligence. Numerous studies have shown that we are more likely to engage with content that has relevant imagery.

We’ll see more marketers playing on visual intelligence in three ways:

  1. More videos: From recipe videos to product showcasing videos, audiences have clearly shown their willingness and preference towards consuming video content. We’ll see video ad offerings growing in popularity.
  2. Augmented Reality: Snapchat and PokemonGo have already shown that people love AR. We already see companies like Sephora taking notice and developing visual offerings such as their Virtual Artist feature, which enables women to see how different make-up looks will look on their faces.
  3. Visual search: Apps like the Amazon app already allow people to search for products by taking a photo. This is not just convenient, it also allows for searches to be done when we don’t have the words to describe something. This is giving rise to image search engines and services such as Slyce and TapTapSee.
Marketing Trends Sephora Visual Artist
Sephora’s Visual Artist feature allows you to ‘try on’ makeup looks by simply enabling your webcam.
Purna Virji Marketing Trends

As humans, we’re visual creatures. We eat with our eyes, we travel with our eyes, we fall in love with our eyes. It makes sense that the future will be very visual.

– Purna Virji

2: Content that converts

Expert: Joanna Wiebe, Founder, CopyHackers and Airstory

In 2016, we saw two much-loved tech businesses – that are masterful content marketers – lay off an unfortunate number of their teams in order to get the books back under control. I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if their great content didn’t just educate but also drove revenue?”

So I believe 2017 will be the year of content that converts.

59 words and phrases that convert

Get this list of 59 proven-to-convert words and phrases. Framed by actionable test ideas and case studies, this guide will challenge your notions of ‘words that convert’ and copywriting best practices.


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The pressure to write more stuff – and make it a billion times better than the stuff that’s already published – is only going to get more intense. The result? Better content… but also exhausted writing teams.

Joanna Wiebe Marketing Trends

Because content continues to present such an incredible opportunity for traffic, businesses will want to continue pushing more resources at it. That means spending more money on it.

– Joanna Wiebe

To justify that spend, I see more marketing teams doing three things in 2017: 1) “disguising” long-form sales pages as blog posts and video content, 2) building every post around the ultimate CTA, and, 3) if Google’s killing the pop-up, pushing hard to get a real conversion right inside the post.

Marketing Trends Copy that Converts
Get ready to see more content built around a relevant call-to-action.

3: User trust trumps all

Expert: Austin Knight, Senior UX Designer, HubSpot

Within the next few years, I believe that user trust will emerge as the most valuable commodity in marketing.

As technology companies become deeper and deeper entrenched in our lives, and their data collection methods grow, concerns over privacy and security are growing with them.

74% of U.S. based internet users have limited their online activity in the last year due to privacy concerns. Users are not happy with the ways that companies are using their data, and this leaves room for massive disruption by companies that can prove they’re better at it.

Marketing Trends User Trust
User trust will become a differentiator for leading brands.

Data collection and analysis will continue to improve at an accelerating rate, and eventually, there will no longer be technological barriers to obtaining any kind of information. We’ll be able to track everything.

Austin Knight Marketing Trends

At that point, we’ll need not ask the question, “what can be tracked?” but rather, “what should be tracked?” The companies that answer correctly will come out ahead.

– Austin Knight

There are many ways to design and market for user trust, and we’re already seeing mainstream companies start to do it. The release of Apple’s customer letter in resistance to the FBI’s request to break privacy protections on the iPhone serves as one such example.

I would encourage businesses to start thinking seriously about privacy and user trust, and to be very public and transparent in their approach to it. Respect your users and then use that as a differentiator in your marketing.

4: What about mobile?

Expert: Duane Brown, Performance Marketer, Unbounce

I think that a lot of marketers will say that virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and digital currency are the trends to watch this year. They may be right, as these are probably the future of technology in two to three years.

Duane Brown Marketing Trends

However, I think most marketers still need to keep their eye on mobile. Even though mobile makes up more than 50% of web traffic, for many sites, the mobile user experience is far inferior to the desktop user experience.

– Duane Brown

With Google rolling out mobile-first indexing this summer (and I imagine Bing will follow suit), mobile has cemented its rightful place in Internet history. If your business doesn’t have a mobile site, or doesn’t understand the implications of mobile indexing, this is the time to catch up.

Marketing Trends Mastering Mobile
If mobile isn’t on your radar yet, get moving!

With the advent of AMPs and Google redesigning their desktop experience to be mobile, the world has fully gone mobile… what are you waiting for?

5: AMP-ed up conversion optimization

Expert: Nick So, Director of Optimization Strategy, WiderFunnel

Marketers have been talking about mobile for years, but just when you thought your website was finally 100% mobile-friendly…AMP happened.

Google announced the Accelerated Mobile Pages (or AMP) project in October of 2015, but it has really begun to play a role in your user’s everyday browsing experience over the past several months.

If you’re unfamiliar, AMP is an open web development framework that aims to provide a faster, more consistent mobile viewing experience. You have likely stumbled upon links in Google that have a little lightning bolt next to them: These are AMP-enhanced pages.

Nick So Marketing Trends

The scramble to comply with AMP within your digital experiences and marketing will be two-fold in 2017: 1) Making your website and content AMP-friendly, and 2) doing conversion optimization and A/B testing on AMP pages.

– Nick So

In my position, I’m mainly interested with the latter.

In order to accelerate the mobile experience, AMP strips away the elements that slow down your typical web browsing experience, including Javascript. For the Optimizer, this presents an immediate challenge: Almost every A/B testing tool, user research tool, and data-gathering tool on the market uses Javascript to work (the exceptions being A/B testing tools that run variations on the server-side).

Google addressed the A/B testing challenge in August last year, announcing the component, which will allow for server-side testing. While our tech team is digging into and its capabilities, our Strategy team is researching to discover answers to questions like:

  • How big can our ideas be given the design limitations of the AMP framework, and
  • How will AMP impact our gathering of user data?

We are looking forward to seeing the usability improvements of AMP, and learning how to further optimize this ‘optimized’ experience, particularly in the e-commerce space.

Only time will tell, but we will be keeping a pulse on this throughout 2017!

6: Following the customer journey

Expert: Feras Alhlou, Co-Founder, e-Nor

If I were to say “multi-device” and “multi-channel” challenges were the trends to watch this year, I’d be stating the obvious.

Feras Alhlou Marketing Trends

I believe the biggest challenge for marketers will continue to be figuring out their customer journey. To connect with her audience, a marketer must evolve her marketing, measurement, and optimization strategies and tactics to the level of complexity and sophistication of her customers and their journeys.

– Feras Alhlou

As we interact with a brand throughout a buying cycle as consumers, we increasingly expect a unified user experience across each platform and channel, be it mobile, desktop, Web, app, or offline.

Marketing Trends Customer Journey
Your users expect a unified experience across each platform and channel.

Delivering relevant content in a creative, unified, and user-friendly engagement, measuring customer response, and optimizing to minimize friction along each touch point are all formidable tasks that require investment in resources, people, and repeatable processes.

These are not easy problems to solve, but if they were, a marketer’s life would be boring! 🙂

7: The battle between HI and AI (in CRO)

Expert: Paul Rouke, CEO, PRWD

The machines are coming to take all of our jobs! Machine learning is the future that we need to embrace today!

Businesses have never been shy of investing in tools and technology, yet what is the one biggest bottlenecks within most businesses? Lack of resources and a lack of expertise.

In 2017, machine learning will take greater prominence in the conversion optimization landscape. Is this a bad thing? It doesn’t have to be.

AI can alleviate some of the day-to-day workload that conversion optimization strategists and practitioners have, such as small design tweaks, traffic allocation, and data analysis.

It’s these functionalities that make me interested in what AI and machine learning can offer, just as long as businesses don’t neglect HI.

Human Intelligence (HI) is more important now than ever.

To match customer expectations, businesses want to create engaging and exciting online experiences, and the only way to do that is through creativity, innovation and customer understanding. At this point, AI can’t replace these three human attributes.

Paul Rouke Marketing Trends

To truly draw value from machine learning, you still need to have a human behind the machine, ‘feeding’ it ideas, concepts and designs that have been built from user research and in-depth data analysis.

– Paul Rouke

That way, you can get more improvements and solutions in your online experience than you could manually, and leave your optimizers and strategists to do what they do best: Create.

There is no getting away from the fact that AI is going to play an increasing role in our daily lives. The question is, do we just throw in the towel and leave all this to machines?

It will be the brands that focus on harnessing more HI rather than AI in 2017 who will be setting themselves up for a more sustainable future.

8: Slow marketing

Expert: Ann Handley, CCO, MarketingProfs

I think the biggest, broad trend this year is that marketers are becoming a little more patient.

They are recognizing the value of “slow marketing” in our fast-paced, always-on, agile, want-it-yesterday, mile-a-minute world. They see the critical need to slow down in some areas. Why? Because doing so allows us to achieve real results—faster.

Ann Handley Marketing Trends

In 2017, marketers need to invest in themselves: They need to hone customer empathy.

– Ann Handley

They need to uncover the why of their marketing programs.

They need to align the customer experience and journey.

And they need to get the necessary tools and training to thrive in 2017 and beyond.

Marketing Trends Marketer Self Care
Marketers need to invest in themselves.

9: Voice search is big, but not that big

Expert: Rand Fishkin, Founder, MOZ

Note: This section was originally published in Rand’s post on the Moz Blog “8 Predictions for SEO in 2017

I’m going out on a limb with this by predicting what most aren’t — that voice search won’t actually cannibalize desktop or typed mobile searches, but will instead just add on top of it.

Today, between 20–25% of mobile queries are voice, but oddly, Google said in May 2016 the number was 20% whereas in September 2010, they’d said 25%. Either voice has been relatively flat, or the old number was incorrect.

KPCB’s 2016 Trends report suggests the growth in voice search is higher, using implied Google Trends data (which, as those of us in SEO know, can be a dangerous, messy assumption). Clickstream data sampling and sources that track referrals (like SimilarWeb Pro) are likely better ways to measure the impact of cannibalization, and hopefully Google themselves (or third-party data sources with direct access) will report on the relative growth of voice to validate this.

Rand Fishkin Marketing Trends

In my opinion, voice search is the first true high-risk technology shift ever faced by the SEO world.

– Rand Fishkin

If we see it cannibalize a substantive portion of search activity, we may find a pot that’s been growing for 20 years is suddenly (possibly rapidly) shrinking. I’m still bullish on search growing for the next 2–3 years, but I’m watching the data carefully, as should we all.

Of course, this list of trends is not 100% exhaustive. What are the marketing trends you will be paying attention to this year? Is there a trend or trends that you believe should be on this list, but didn’t make the cut? Let us know in the comments!

The post 9 digital marketing trends to stay on top of in 2017 appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

Reading Time: 8 minutes

The experts weigh in on this year’s most important trends

It’s January 24, and marketers are striding forward into 2017. This post is a collection of predictions from a few of our favorite digital marketing experts on the trends that you must pay attention to this year.

From copy guru Joanna Wiebe, to Hubspot UX-pert Austin Knight, to Microsoft’s PPC pro Purna Virji, this list of trends comes from experts across the entire spectrum of digital marketing.

The trends range from slightly alarming (virtual reality advances, anyone?) to theoretical, to tactical, to reflective…but all of them are important for the modern marketer.

So, without further ado, here are the experts on the marketing trends you cannot ignore in 2017.

1: Visually intelligent marketing

Expert: Purna Virji, Senior Manager, PPC Training, Microsoft

I think a big trend for next year will be tapping into consumers’ visual-spatial intelligence. Numerous studies have shown that we are more likely to engage with content that has relevant imagery.

We’ll see more marketers playing on visual intelligence in three ways:

  1. More videos: From recipe videos to product showcasing videos, audiences have clearly shown their willingness and preference towards consuming video content. We’ll see video ad offerings growing in popularity.
  2. Augmented Reality: Snapchat and PokemonGo have already shown that people love AR. We already see companies like Sephora taking notice and developing visual offerings such as their Virtual Artist feature, which enables women to see how different make-up looks will look on their faces.
  3. Visual search: Apps like the Amazon app already allow people to search for products by taking a photo. This is not just convenient, it also allows for searches to be done when we don’t have the words to describe something. This is giving rise to image search engines and services such as Slyce and TapTapSee.
Marketing Trends Sephora Visual Artist
Sephora’s Visual Artist feature allows you to ‘try on’ makeup looks by simply enabling your webcam.
Purna Virji Marketing Trends

As humans, we’re visual creatures. We eat with our eyes, we travel with our eyes, we fall in love with our eyes. It makes sense that the future will be very visual.

– Purna Virji

2: Content that converts

Expert: Joanna Wiebe, Founder, CopyHackers and Airstory

In 2016, we saw two much-loved tech businesses – that are masterful content marketers – lay off an unfortunate number of their teams in order to get the books back under control. I couldn’t help but wonder, “What if their great content didn’t just educate but also drove revenue?”

So I believe 2017 will be the year of content that converts.

59 words and phrases that convert

Get this list of 59 proven-to-convert words and phrases. Framed by actionable test ideas and case studies, this guide will challenge your notions of ‘words that convert’ and copywriting best practices.


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The pressure to write more stuff – and make it a billion times better than the stuff that’s already published – is only going to get more intense. The result? Better content… but also exhausted writing teams.

Joanna Wiebe Marketing Trends

Because content continues to present such an incredible opportunity for traffic, businesses will want to continue pushing more resources at it. That means spending more money on it.

– Joanna Wiebe

To justify that spend, I see more marketing teams doing three things in 2017: 1) “disguising” long-form sales pages as blog posts and video content, 2) building every post around the ultimate CTA, and, 3) if Google’s killing the pop-up, pushing hard to get a real conversion right inside the post.

Marketing Trends Copy that Converts
Get ready to see more content built around a relevant call-to-action.

3: User trust trumps all

Expert: Austin Knight, Senior UX Designer, HubSpot

Within the next few years, I believe that user trust will emerge as the most valuable commodity in marketing.

As technology companies become deeper and deeper entrenched in our lives, and their data collection methods grow, concerns over privacy and security are growing with them.

74% of U.S. based internet users have limited their online activity in the last year due to privacy concerns. Users are not happy with the ways that companies are using their data, and this leaves room for massive disruption by companies that can prove they’re better at it.

Marketing Trends User Trust
User trust will become a differentiator for leading brands.

Data collection and analysis will continue to improve at an accelerating rate, and eventually, there will no longer be technological barriers to obtaining any kind of information. We’ll be able to track everything.

Austin Knight Marketing Trends

At that point, we’ll need not ask the question, “what can be tracked?” but rather, “what should be tracked?” The companies that answer correctly will come out ahead.

– Austin Knight

There are many ways to design and market for user trust, and we’re already seeing mainstream companies start to do it. The release of Apple’s customer letter in resistance to the FBI’s request to break privacy protections on the iPhone serves as one such example.

I would encourage businesses to start thinking seriously about privacy and user trust, and to be very public and transparent in their approach to it. Respect your users and then use that as a differentiator in your marketing.

4: What about mobile?

Expert: Duane Brown, Performance Marketer, Unbounce

I think that a lot of marketers will say that virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and digital currency are the trends to watch this year. They may be right, as these are probably the future of technology in two to three years.

Duane Brown Marketing Trends

However, I think most marketers still need to keep their eye on mobile. Even though mobile makes up more than 50% of web traffic, for many sites, the mobile user experience is far inferior to the desktop user experience.

– Duane Brown

With Google rolling out mobile-first indexing this summer (and I imagine Bing will follow suit), mobile has cemented its rightful place in Internet history. If your business doesn’t have a mobile site, or doesn’t understand the implications of mobile indexing, this is the time to catch up.

Marketing Trends Mastering Mobile
If mobile isn’t on your radar yet, get moving!

With the advent of AMPs and Google redesigning their desktop experience to be mobile, the world has fully gone mobile… what are you waiting for?

5: AMP-ed up conversion optimization

Expert: Nick So, Director of Optimization Strategy, WiderFunnel

Marketers have been talking about mobile for years, but just when you thought your website was finally 100% mobile-friendly…AMP happened.

Google announced the Accelerated Mobile Pages (or AMP) project in October of 2015, but it has really begun to play a role in your user’s everyday browsing experience over the past several months.

If you’re unfamiliar, AMP is an open web development framework that aims to provide a faster, more consistent mobile viewing experience. You have likely stumbled upon links in Google that have a little lightning bolt next to them: These are AMP-enhanced pages.

Nick So Marketing Trends

The scramble to comply with AMP within your digital experiences and marketing will be two-fold in 2017: 1) Making your website and content AMP-friendly, and 2) doing conversion optimization and A/B testing on AMP pages.

– Nick So

In my position, I’m mainly interested with the latter.

In order to accelerate the mobile experience, AMP strips away the elements that slow down your typical web browsing experience, including Javascript. For the Optimizer, this presents an immediate challenge: Almost every A/B testing tool, user research tool, and data-gathering tool on the market uses Javascript to work (the exceptions being A/B testing tools that run variations on the server-side).

Google addressed the A/B testing challenge in August last year, announcing the component, which will allow for server-side testing. While our tech team is digging into and its capabilities, our Strategy team is researching to discover answers to questions like:

  • How big can our ideas be given the design limitations of the AMP framework, and
  • How will AMP impact our gathering of user data?

We are looking forward to seeing the usability improvements of AMP, and learning how to further optimize this ‘optimized’ experience, particularly in the e-commerce space.

Only time will tell, but we will be keeping a pulse on this throughout 2017!

6: Following the customer journey

Expert: Feras Alhlou, Co-Founder, e-Nor

If I were to say “multi-device” and “multi-channel” challenges were the trends to watch this year, I’d be stating the obvious.

Feras Alhlou Marketing Trends

I believe the biggest challenge for marketers will continue to be figuring out their customer journey. To connect with her audience, a marketer must evolve her marketing, measurement, and optimization strategies and tactics to the level of complexity and sophistication of her customers and their journeys.

– Feras Alhlou

As we interact with a brand throughout a buying cycle as consumers, we increasingly expect a unified user experience across each platform and channel, be it mobile, desktop, Web, app, or offline.

Marketing Trends Customer Journey
Your users expect a unified experience across each platform and channel.

Delivering relevant content in a creative, unified, and user-friendly engagement, measuring customer response, and optimizing to minimize friction along each touch point are all formidable tasks that require investment in resources, people, and repeatable processes.

These are not easy problems to solve, but if they were, a marketer’s life would be boring! 🙂

7: The battle between HI and AI (in CRO)

Expert: Paul Rouke, CEO, PRWD

The machines are coming to take all of our jobs! Machine learning is the future that we need to embrace today!

Businesses have never been shy of investing in tools and technology, yet what is the one biggest bottlenecks within most businesses? Lack of resources and a lack of expertise.

In 2017, machine learning will take greater prominence in the conversion optimization landscape. Is this a bad thing? It doesn’t have to be.

AI can alleviate some of the day-to-day workload that conversion optimization strategists and practitioners have, such as small design tweaks, traffic allocation, and data analysis.

It’s these functionalities that make me interested in what AI and machine learning can offer, just as long as businesses don’t neglect HI.

Human Intelligence (HI) is more important now than ever.

To match customer expectations, businesses want to create engaging and exciting online experiences, and the only way to do that is through creativity, innovation and customer understanding. At this point, AI can’t replace these three human attributes.

Paul Rouke Marketing Trends

To truly draw value from machine learning, you still need to have a human behind the machine, ‘feeding’ it ideas, concepts and designs that have been built from user research and in-depth data analysis.

– Paul Rouke

That way, you can get more improvements and solutions in your online experience than you could manually, and leave your optimizers and strategists to do what they do best: Create.

There is no getting away from the fact that AI is going to play an increasing role in our daily lives. The question is, do we just throw in the towel and leave all this to machines?

It will be the brands that focus on harnessing more HI rather than AI in 2017 who will be setting themselves up for a more sustainable future.

8: Slow marketing

Expert: Ann Handley, CCO, MarketingProfs

I think the biggest, broad trend this year is that marketers are becoming a little more patient.

They are recognizing the value of “slow marketing” in our fast-paced, always-on, agile, want-it-yesterday, mile-a-minute world. They see the critical need to slow down in some areas. Why? Because doing so allows us to achieve real results—faster.

Ann Handley Marketing Trends

In 2017, marketers need to invest in themselves: They need to hone customer empathy.

– Ann Handley

They need to uncover the why of their marketing programs.

They need to align the customer experience and journey.

And they need to get the necessary tools and training to thrive in 2017 and beyond.

Marketing Trends Marketer Self Care
Marketers need to invest in themselves.

9: Voice search is big, but not that big

Expert: Rand Fishkin, Founder, MOZ

Note: This section was originally published in Rand’s post on the Moz Blog “8 Predictions for SEO in 2017

I’m going out on a limb with this by predicting what most aren’t — that voice search won’t actually cannibalize desktop or typed mobile searches, but will instead just add on top of it.

Today, between 20–25% of mobile queries are voice, but oddly, Google said in May 2016 the number was 20% whereas in September 2010, they’d said 25%. Either voice has been relatively flat, or the old number was incorrect.

KPCB’s 2016 Trends report suggests the growth in voice search is higher, using implied Google Trends data (which, as those of us in SEO know, can be a dangerous, messy assumption). Clickstream data sampling and sources that track referrals (like SimilarWeb Pro) are likely better ways to measure the impact of cannibalization, and hopefully Google themselves (or third-party data sources with direct access) will report on the relative growth of voice to validate this.

Rand Fishkin Marketing Trends

In my opinion, voice search is the first true high-risk technology shift ever faced by the SEO world.

– Rand Fishkin

If we see it cannibalize a substantive portion of search activity, we may find a pot that’s been growing for 20 years is suddenly (possibly rapidly) shrinking. I’m still bullish on search growing for the next 2–3 years, but I’m watching the data carefully, as should we all.

Of course, this list of trends is not 100% exhaustive. What are the marketing trends you will be paying attention to this year? Is there a trend or trends that you believe should be on this list, but didn’t make the cut? Let us know in the comments!

The post 9 digital marketing trends to stay on top of in 2017 appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

Emoji appear in Google AdWords ads titles

Emoji have been spotted in the wild in Google AdWords ads titles, giving rise to speculation that this option may be rolled out globally for all advertisers soon.

We have seen this before, although prior instances of emoji in AdWords seemed to be caused by a loophole that allowed certain character combinations to pass through Google checks. As such, any gains to be made from using emoji were very short-term.

However, there is cause to believe that this time round, they could be here to stay.

The prime instance of emoji showing up recently in AdWords was last week, when the following ad title was spotted on Google.de for the query “autohaus mainz”:

Only a small number of ad titles including emoji have been observed so far, so this may just be a small test and could even be another loophole set to be closed soon by Google – although the latter seems unlikely.

It seems more probable that this is an indication of an upcoming change that could have significant implications for many industries.

We wrote a couple of weeks ago about Google’s decision to allow emoji in organic search listings again, hinting at a noteworthy change in stance on the use of this universal, visual language.

It is expected that there will be restrictions on their appearance for organic search queries and only truly relevant searches will return these characters in their results.

We tried this out with our article and, in line with what we have seen elsewhere, emoji are present within the title tag in search results:

Viewed in light of what we have seen over the last few years, with the ever growing presence of paid listings in search results to the cost of their organic counterparts, it is difficult to conceive that this new functionality will extend only as far as SEO. It seems only a matter of time before this applies equally to paid search, if it has a positive effect on CTR.

What impact could this have?

The aspect that will enthuse or discourage advertisers will, of course, be the impact on campaign performance. In theory, apt usage of emoji could increase CTR and, ultimately, Quality Score too, so this could be seen as very welcome news.

Should this be rolled out even to a small percentage of queries, it could provide a new avenue for attention-grabbing creative in an area that has lacked for invention when compared to, for example, Facebook.

Moreover, bearing in mind the new, less conspicuous ‘Ad’ label, launched with the rationale that Google wants to “streamline” the number of colours in search results, it would be contradictory to launch emoji across a large swathe of results so soon.

Although, a cynic may counter, perhaps that rationale is a rather convenient aegis under which to increase paid search CTR and, in turn, Google revenues. In that sense, the launch of emoji in ad titles would be entirely in keeping with Google’s business strategy.

How can advertisers use emoji in their AdWords titles?

Assuming that this will be rolled out beyond small, ring-fenced tests, advertisers will be able to copy and paste emoji into the ad text creation field within AdWords.

As such, this would only be a small change compared to launching any other campaign, and the more telling aspect of the upgrade will be within the targeting options deployed and the analysis of campaign performance.

How far could this trend go?

Google announced last year the ability to perform searches using emoji, we have seen their appearance within a small pool of shopping results within the last year, and there is even an option to view query-level performance for emoji in Search Console.

In the case of the latter, this capability of course depends on consumers having used emoji initially, so its applicability to search marketers so far is limited. Nonetheless, it is a direct reflection of Google’s aim to increase search query volume through new means in the face of a rapidly maturing competitive landscape.

Additionally, going back to our article on emoji in organic results, we did find some difficulties with social sharing buttons, which were clearly unable to process the characters as intended. So it is safe to surmise that the widespread adoption of emoji across all digital platforms is not solely dependent on Google’s position.

That said, with their AI-powered Assistant set to roll out on all Android phones, emoji usage will likely increase on Google devices, as will the search giant’s ownership of the data.

That sequence of events would no doubt strong-arm other tech platforms into upgrading their capabilities to keep up.

What does this mean today?

It would be prudent to wait for further confirmation that Google is allowing emoji in AdWords before experimenting with this; until that point, we can still assume that this is in violation of Google’s guidelines.

However, with the confirmed release of emoji in SEO listings, it seems entirely plausible that paid search will follow suit sometime soon. In the interim, it would be worth considering how best to make use of this across industries if and when the anticipated announcement does arrive.

Emoji have been spotted in the wild in Google AdWords ads titles, giving rise to speculation that this option may be rolled out globally for all advertisers soon.

We have seen this before, although prior instances of emoji in AdWords seemed to be caused by a loophole that allowed certain character combinations to pass through Google checks. As such, any gains to be made from using emoji were very short-term.

However, there is cause to believe that this time round, they could be here to stay.

The prime instance of emoji showing up recently in AdWords was last week, when the following ad title was spotted on Google.de for the query “autohaus mainz”:

Only a small number of ad titles including emoji have been observed so far, so this may just be a small test and could even be another loophole set to be closed soon by Google – although the latter seems unlikely.

It seems more probable that this is an indication of an upcoming change that could have significant implications for many industries.

We wrote a couple of weeks ago about Google’s decision to allow emoji in organic search listings again, hinting at a noteworthy change in stance on the use of this universal, visual language.

It is expected that there will be restrictions on their appearance for organic search queries and only truly relevant searches will return these characters in their results.

We tried this out with our article and, in line with what we have seen elsewhere, emoji are present within the title tag in search results:

Viewed in light of what we have seen over the last few years, with the ever growing presence of paid listings in search results to the cost of their organic counterparts, it is difficult to conceive that this new functionality will extend only as far as SEO. It seems only a matter of time before this applies equally to paid search, if it has a positive effect on CTR.

What impact could this have?

The aspect that will enthuse or discourage advertisers will, of course, be the impact on campaign performance. In theory, apt usage of emoji could increase CTR and, ultimately, Quality Score too, so this could be seen as very welcome news.

Should this be rolled out even to a small percentage of queries, it could provide a new avenue for attention-grabbing creative in an area that has lacked for invention when compared to, for example, Facebook.

Moreover, bearing in mind the new, less conspicuous ‘Ad’ label, launched with the rationale that Google wants to “streamline” the number of colours in search results, it would be contradictory to launch emoji across a large swathe of results so soon.

Although, a cynic may counter, perhaps that rationale is a rather convenient aegis under which to increase paid search CTR and, in turn, Google revenues. In that sense, the launch of emoji in ad titles would be entirely in keeping with Google’s business strategy.

How can advertisers use emoji in their AdWords titles?

Assuming that this will be rolled out beyond small, ring-fenced tests, advertisers will be able to copy and paste emoji into the ad text creation field within AdWords.

As such, this would only be a small change compared to launching any other campaign, and the more telling aspect of the upgrade will be within the targeting options deployed and the analysis of campaign performance.

How far could this trend go?

Google announced last year the ability to perform searches using emoji, we have seen their appearance within a small pool of shopping results within the last year, and there is even an option to view query-level performance for emoji in Search Console.

In the case of the latter, this capability of course depends on consumers having used emoji initially, so its applicability to search marketers so far is limited. Nonetheless, it is a direct reflection of Google’s aim to increase search query volume through new means in the face of a rapidly maturing competitive landscape.

Additionally, going back to our article on emoji in organic results, we did find some difficulties with social sharing buttons, which were clearly unable to process the characters as intended. So it is safe to surmise that the widespread adoption of emoji across all digital platforms is not solely dependent on Google’s position.

That said, with their AI-powered Assistant set to roll out on all Android phones, emoji usage will likely increase on Google devices, as will the search giant’s ownership of the data.

That sequence of events would no doubt strong-arm other tech platforms into upgrading their capabilities to keep up.

What does this mean today?

It would be prudent to wait for further confirmation that Google is allowing emoji in AdWords before experimenting with this; until that point, we can still assume that this is in violation of Google’s guidelines.

However, with the confirmed release of emoji in SEO listings, it seems entirely plausible that paid search will follow suit sometime soon. In the interim, it would be worth considering how best to make use of this across industries if and when the anticipated announcement does arrive.

10 Excellent Niche Business Examples to Learn From (FS209)

Listen, there is a TON of competition in business today. The internet, which enables all of our personal businesses like never before, also makes it so now you compete with the entire world.

But, we have a powerful tool at our disposal: specialization, focus, narrowing our target market, aiming at a smaller business niche.

Now, if you’re already selling a bunch of product successfully — if your storehouse and bank account is full! — well then, you probably don’t need to specialize any more… it’s working, you’ve got it, well done.

But, for many of us — especially those of us who are still getting our businesses off the ground — specialization, aiming at a smaller niche, focusing on a more precise target market, can make all the difference in getting your business flying, getting found, producing revenue.

A great niche can help you:

  • get that difficult and necessary initial traction because your business is more remarkable to specific group of people.
  • resonate powerfully with visitors when they land on your website, blog, podcast, workshop, etc., because you’re “speaking their language.”
  • resonate, again! It can’t be overstated how important it is to be able to connect deeply with your target customers through your marketing materials; focusing on a more specific niche can make all the difference here.
  • come up with easy and effective marketing ideas because you know exactly who you’re making things for. This is another big one! Especially if you, like most modern businesses, will rely on internet content for finding new customers.

Basically, defining a target market and niche that’s both “specific enough” AND currently underserve in the world will help you with everything… literally.

But it’s a hard thing to get, so we need examples

We teach this process through the following methods:

  • We have a guided roadmap that takes people through every stage of small business. We start it off with a few powerful exercises in finding a topic that won’t burn you out. Then we guide you through more and more exercises to learn exactly who your customer is, what they want, how they struggle, how you can resonate with them.
  • We have an entire course on this topic called Define Your Target Market with excellent training from Chase’s many years working in agencies making websites and sales videos for high paying customers. Tons of great insights in this course.
  • As you continue through the roadmap, the concepts about audience, target market, ideal customer and niche are reinforced throughout, making the learning more and more “second nature” to you.

… and yet questions about niche, target market and ideal customers are among our most popular.

Why? Because this really and truly is a difficult thing to nail down. There’s as much art as there is science here… with a fair amount of luck necessary as well.

And that’s why we need to familiarize ourselves with examples, so we can see how others have done it and learn some things about why those niches worked.

(In case you don’t know it, we teach tens of thousands of entrepreneurs how to get their idea off the ground with a simple, guided roadmap of training alongside community and group coaching. To find out more about Fizzle Membership click here. Please note, this is not for douchebags and assholes — this is for folks who want to earn an independent living doing something they care about.)

So, let’s talk about some examples

When you’re ready, listen to this podcast episode because we share and explain several examples of niche businesses, why they work, and what you can learn from their example.

It’s better to listen on the go!  
 Subscribe on iTunes 

Subscribe (how to)  
iTunes  
Overcast  
Pocket Casts  
Stitcher  
Soundcloud  
RSS  

“10 excellent niche business examples to learn from”


10 Niche Business Examples:

DESIGN CUTS — TOPIC: Web design resources. AUDIENCE: Professional web/visual designers. PROBLEM: Designers want great resources and tools, but don't want to pay full price for them.

MINIMALIST BAKER — TOPIC: simple cooking. AUDIENCE: vegan and gluten free people. PROBLEM: people think it's hard to make delicious, simple vegan and gluten free foods. MB creates a lifestyle image and then provides recipes so you can live this way too. So maybe the problem REALLY is "I want to live like that, how do I do it?"

THE TINY CANAL COTTAGE — TOPIC: living well in a tiny space. AUDIENCE: modern folks interested in living more inspired lives no matter the size of our homes. PROBLEM: Living well in a tiny space! As she says: “you don’t have to live large to live beautifully.”

NERD FITNESS — TOPIC: fitness, workout, exercise, body image. AUDIENCE: nerds, gamers, people who dress up as gandalf for halloween. PROBLEM: Nerds and gamers don't think like jocks and yoga babes about fitness. They need their own way of talking about and pursuing fitness and exercise. So, this business translates fitness best practices into nerd speak. "I'm a nerd and I want to be fit, i want to touch my toes, I want to enjoy my body."

SHARED PRACTICES — TOPIC: Dental practice ownership. AUDIENCE: Recent dental school graduates. PROBLEM: New dentists want to own their own practice, but don't know how the business side of things work.

ZEN COURSES —  TOPIC: Building online courses. AUDIENCE: Entrepreneurs who want to build an online course. PROBLEM: Planning, organizing, and launching an online course that gets results is difficult and there aren't many good step-by-step guides that show you how to do it.

SISTER MOUNTAIN — TOPIC: knitting patterns, making your own clothes. AUDIENCE: people who knit, people who want to make their own clothes. PROBLEM: It would be cool to knit, but I don’t want to knit just some weird looking stuff I’ll never wear. I love the idea of making my own clothes, the pride of that. How do I make stuff I’ll actually wear?

ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN’S MINISTRY — TOPIC: “Illustrated resources for the church and the home, encouraging creativity and active engagement with faith.” AUDIENCE: people in the Christian church with kids. PROBLEM: it can be challenging to talk to your kids in ways they understand about stories of faith. Help me find activities to do with my kids that are both fun and spiritually educational.

COZY CAMA —  TOPIC: pet beds (pet happiness). AUDIENCE: Dog owners. PROBLEM: Dogs need to feel loved like part of the family. As a dog owner I want my dog to sleep in a place that comforts them by smell, makes them feel at home, and also is sustainable, eco-friendly and easy.

MOTHERBIRTH —  TOPIC: Motherhood. AUDIENCE: Women becoming mothers. PROBLEM: “Not just babies are born” is the tag line of this podcast. This speaks to the fact that you don’t become a mother in an instant, it takes time and transformation. What’s more, this has always been a thing women were assumed to do effortlessly and, hey, guess what, it’s fucking tough! That’s the problem.

Listen, there is a TON of competition in business today. The internet, which enables all of our personal businesses like never before, also makes it so now you compete with the entire world.

But, we have a powerful tool at our disposal: specialization, focus, narrowing our target market, aiming at a smaller business niche.

Now, if you’re already selling a bunch of product successfully — if your storehouse and bank account is full! — well then, you probably don’t need to specialize any more… it’s working, you’ve got it, well done.

But, for many of us — especially those of us who are still getting our businesses off the ground — specialization, aiming at a smaller niche, focusing on a more precise target market, can make all the difference in getting your business flying, getting found, producing revenue.

A great niche can help you:

  • get that difficult and necessary initial traction because your business is more remarkable to specific group of people.
  • resonate powerfully with visitors when they land on your website, blog, podcast, workshop, etc., because you’re “speaking their language.”
  • resonate, again! It can’t be overstated how important it is to be able to connect deeply with your target customers through your marketing materials; focusing on a more specific niche can make all the difference here.
  • come up with easy and effective marketing ideas because you know exactly who you’re making things for. This is another big one! Especially if you, like most modern businesses, will rely on internet content for finding new customers.

Basically, defining a target market and niche that’s both “specific enough” AND currently underserve in the world will help you with everything… literally.

But it’s a hard thing to get, so we need examples

We teach this process through the following methods:

  • We have a guided roadmap that takes people through every stage of small business. We start it off with a few powerful exercises in finding a topic that won’t burn you out. Then we guide you through more and more exercises to learn exactly who your customer is, what they want, how they struggle, how you can resonate with them.
  • We have an entire course on this topic called Define Your Target Market with excellent training from Chase’s many years working in agencies making websites and sales videos for high paying customers. Tons of great insights in this course.
  • As you continue through the roadmap, the concepts about audience, target market, ideal customer and niche are reinforced throughout, making the learning more and more “second nature” to you.

… and yet questions about niche, target market and ideal customers are among our most popular.

Why? Because this really and truly is a difficult thing to nail down. There’s as much art as there is science here… with a fair amount of luck necessary as well.

And that’s why we need to familiarize ourselves with examples, so we can see how others have done it and learn some things about why those niches worked.

(In case you don’t know it, we teach tens of thousands of entrepreneurs how to get their idea off the ground with a simple, guided roadmap of training alongside community and group coaching. To find out more about Fizzle Membership click here. Please note, this is not for douchebags and assholes — this is for folks who want to earn an independent living doing something they care about.)

So, let’s talk about some examples

When you’re ready, listen to this podcast episode because we share and explain several examples of niche businesses, why they work, and what you can learn from their example.

It’s better to listen on the go!  
 Subscribe on iTunes 

Subscribe (how to)  
iTunes  
Overcast  
Pocket Casts  
Stitcher  
Soundcloud  
RSS  

“10 excellent niche business examples to learn from”


10 Niche Business Examples:

DESIGN CUTS — TOPIC: Web design resources. AUDIENCE: Professional web/visual designers. PROBLEM: Designers want great resources and tools, but don't want to pay full price for them.

MINIMALIST BAKER — TOPIC: simple cooking. AUDIENCE: vegan and gluten free people. PROBLEM: people think it's hard to make delicious, simple vegan and gluten free foods. MB creates a lifestyle image and then provides recipes so you can live this way too. So maybe the problem REALLY is "I want to live like that, how do I do it?"

THE TINY CANAL COTTAGE — TOPIC: living well in a tiny space. AUDIENCE: modern folks interested in living more inspired lives no matter the size of our homes. PROBLEM: Living well in a tiny space! As she says: “you don’t have to live large to live beautifully.”

NERD FITNESS — TOPIC: fitness, workout, exercise, body image. AUDIENCE: nerds, gamers, people who dress up as gandalf for halloween. PROBLEM: Nerds and gamers don't think like jocks and yoga babes about fitness. They need their own way of talking about and pursuing fitness and exercise. So, this business translates fitness best practices into nerd speak. "I'm a nerd and I want to be fit, i want to touch my toes, I want to enjoy my body."

SHARED PRACTICES — TOPIC: Dental practice ownership. AUDIENCE: Recent dental school graduates. PROBLEM: New dentists want to own their own practice, but don't know how the business side of things work.

ZEN COURSES —  TOPIC: Building online courses. AUDIENCE: Entrepreneurs who want to build an online course. PROBLEM: Planning, organizing, and launching an online course that gets results is difficult and there aren't many good step-by-step guides that show you how to do it.

SISTER MOUNTAIN — TOPIC: knitting patterns, making your own clothes. AUDIENCE: people who knit, people who want to make their own clothes. PROBLEM: It would be cool to knit, but I don’t want to knit just some weird looking stuff I’ll never wear. I love the idea of making my own clothes, the pride of that. How do I make stuff I’ll actually wear?

ILLUSTRATED CHILDREN’S MINISTRY — TOPIC: “Illustrated resources for the church and the home, encouraging creativity and active engagement with faith.” AUDIENCE: people in the Christian church with kids. PROBLEM: it can be challenging to talk to your kids in ways they understand about stories of faith. Help me find activities to do with my kids that are both fun and spiritually educational.

COZY CAMA —  TOPIC: pet beds (pet happiness). AUDIENCE: Dog owners. PROBLEM: Dogs need to feel loved like part of the family. As a dog owner I want my dog to sleep in a place that comforts them by smell, makes them feel at home, and also is sustainable, eco-friendly and easy.

MOTHERBIRTH —  TOPIC: Motherhood. AUDIENCE: Women becoming mothers. PROBLEM: “Not just babies are born” is the tag line of this podcast. This speaks to the fact that you don’t become a mother in an instant, it takes time and transformation. What’s more, this has always been a thing women were assumed to do effortlessly and, hey, guess what, it’s fucking tough! That’s the problem.

SEO vs. PPC: Pros, cons & an integrated approach

Not sure whether your business would benefit more from paid or organic search marketing efforts? Columnist Marcus Miller breaks them both down, providing insight into where they fit within your larger marketing plan.

The post SEO vs. PPC: Pros, cons & an integrated approach appeared first on…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Not sure whether your business would benefit more from paid or organic search marketing efforts? Columnist Marcus Miller breaks them both down, providing insight into where they fit within your larger marketing plan.

The post SEO vs. PPC: Pros, cons & an integrated approach appeared first on…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Search in Pics: Google tower viewer, metro train hallway & ceiling of balls

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more. Google tower viewer: Source: Instagram YouTube balloon bike: Source:…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more. Google tower viewer: Source: Instagram YouTube balloon bike: Source:…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

How Netflix Maintains a Low Churn Rate by Keeping Customers Engaged & Watching

With over 90 million customers watching a combined 125 million hours of television and movies everyday, there’s no doubt that Netflix has changed the way we watch our favorite shows. It has also become a prime force in our daily lives — integrating into everything from mobile devices to our language and culture.

And with a relatively low 9% churn rate (lower than any other subscription streaming service), one has to wonder — how does a service like this continue to keep their customers engaged in both the short and long term? How do they succeed when others fall short? Let’s take a closer look and discover how they do it.

Why Engagement is So Crucial to Netflix

As a subscription service, each new month gives every Netflix users a chance to cancel the service.

Like all subscription companies, the best step Netflix can take to reduce churn is to create a great product that people are willing to pay for. They do this by having a large library of original and licensed content. As long as people keep watching, they’ll keep paying.

Let’s look at how Netflix achieves relatively low churn rates, when compared to their peers.

Reluctant to Switch

With more than a third of U.S. households subscribed to Netflix, it’s no secret they’re far ahead of their competitors (namely Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus) in the video streaming subscription race. Recent research by Parks Associates showed that only 4% of U.S. broadband households cancelled their Netflix service — representing almost 9% of Netflix’s subscriber base.

By comparison, 7% of users cancelled their Hulu Plus subscription within a year — but that figure represents approximately half of Hulu Plus’ current subscriber base.

subscribers-canceling-netflix(OTT refers to “Over the Top” – a term used in broadcasting to refer to internet-based transmission of media without an operator –as in cable or satellite — controlling or distributing the media).

What this tells us, is that not only are most households electing to keep their Netflix subscription and “test the waters” with other streaming services, but those same users keep coming back. But what is it that draws them back?

A Deeper Insight into User Preferences

Perhaps some of what makes Netflix so irresistible among its user base are its original shows. With fan favorites like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix has its finger on the pulse of what users are watching. And they’re not just skimming the surface, either. They look at things like:

  • How many users watched a particular episode
  • How many users watched an entire series
  • How much of a gap was there between when the user watched one episode and the next?

And that’s not all. They’re also gathering data on:

  • When you pause, rewind or fast-forward (or if you stop watching and never pick it back up again)
  • What day you watch (most people watch TV shows over the week and movies on the weekend)
  • What date and time you watch, as well as the zip code you’re watching from
  • What device(s) you use to watch which media
  • The ratings you give and the searches you conduct
  • Your browsing and scrolling habits
  • And even the data within the movies and shows themselves

Netflix knows when the credits roll – but it’s also speculated that they’re monitoring things like the volume, movie/show setting, colors and so on. All of this information is not just collected, but also acted upon.

Some might even say that Netflix took a huge gamble ($100 million to be exact) in purchasing the exclusive rights to House of Cards but they did so with a concrete hypothesis — that a large portion of its customers streamed “The Social Network”, directed by David Fincher from beginning to end. House of Cards is also directed by David Fincher. What’s more, they also noticed that films with Kevin Spacey tended to do well, as well as the original British version of House of Cards.

But Netflix didn’t just settle on one trailer to introduce users to House of Cards. Spacey fans saw trailers that exclusively featured him. Women who watched Thelma and Louise saw trailers featuring the female protagonists of House of Cards and big time film buffs saw trailers that reflected Mr. Fincher’s finest directing moments.

All of these points intersected in a way that practically lit up a path to customer engagement and retention. And all of them were made possible thanks to insights delivered by big data.

But this method only attracts users who happen to be watching other movies. What about when they’re not watching? Netflix has that covered, too.

Email: We Added a Show You Might Like

With the vast content library available, it would be overwhelming to not recommend shows to users. So Netflix doesn’t just collect data about the shows you watch — it acts on that data too, sending you emails when a show is added that you may like based on your existing viewing habits.

netflix-email-you-may-be-interested-in

The email itself is simple and straightforward, and, this is the important part — you can play the episode right from within your mobile device, or add it to your watch list. So it’s not just notifying you that you might enjoy this show, but rather giving you an action to take that lets them better tweak suggestions according to your viewing habits.

Push and In-App Notification – New Season

Many people find push notifications bothersome and frustrating — but it all depends on where they come from. Things that affect users directly – like utilities (your water or electricity is scheduled to be off for a time) or transportation (there’s a car wreck near you that may slow your commute) are definitely wanted.

Movie or series suggestions don’t seem like they’d be high up on users’ priority lists, but Netflix has done a fine job of customizing and fine tuning what gets shown to each user. For example, if you followed season 1 of House of Cards, Netflix lets you know that Season 2 is now available:

netflix-HOC-push-notification

What it doesn’t do is inundate you with notifications when every new season or every new movie is listed. Each push notification is carefully crafted again, based on the data from your viewing habits. This way, it’s not intrusive, but rather engaging.

Recommendations for You

Netflix is also famous for its recommendations. It knows it has just 90 seconds or less to convince you that there’s something worth watching that’s catered to your tastes, it looks at things such as the genre you watch and your ratings, but also what you don’t watch. There’s a very real problem of overwhelming the user — with so many choices, Netflix doesn’t want to get too personal.

And it doesn’t care so much about what you watch, but rather that you watch. When given the choice between calling a friend, reading a book or watching Netflix, they obviously want you to keep coming back.

And although Netflix does push its own original series up on its recommendation pages, it plays a flat fee to content providers, so there’s no reason for its recommendation algorithm to favor one series over another. Everything it recommends to you, it does not just because of your viewing habits today, but also historically.

All of these options filter in to create a uniquely personalized — but not too personal — list of recommendations specifically tailored to each user. An engaged user is a happy user, and Netflix is pulling out all the stops to keep them watching.

Interestingly enough, the personalization algorithm resets every 24 hours, making it more likely that users will keep discovering current titles of interest from Netflix’s ever-growing catalog.

Split Testing

Not surprisingly, Netflix also does a great deal of split testing — a couple hundred tests each year to be exact. It randomly selects around 300,000 users from around the world and tests everything from images to font size.

Whenever major changes are made, such as a homepage redesign, users are understandably upset and backlash is imminent – it’s in our nature to tend to resist change. However, Netflix does a good job of easing them into the new design by explaining what has changed and why. According to Netflix’s vice president of product innovation, Chris Jaffe, however, less than half of their tests have a positive impact on metrics.

Conclusion

Even still, with so many options to keep users informed across nearly every type of device, Netflix is continuing to test, innovate and refine its algorithms to prevent churn and keep users watching — and those users are at its core in a quest for never-ending user experience growth.

What are your thoughts on Netflix’s methods to keep you hooked? Have you discovered new shows as a result of their recommendations? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

With over 90 million customers watching a combined 125 million hours of television and movies everyday, there’s no doubt that Netflix has changed the way we watch our favorite shows. It has also become a prime force in our daily lives — integrating into everything from mobile devices to our language and culture.

And with a relatively low 9% churn rate (lower than any other subscription streaming service), one has to wonder — how does a service like this continue to keep their customers engaged in both the short and long term? How do they succeed when others fall short? Let’s take a closer look and discover how they do it.

Why Engagement is So Crucial to Netflix

As a subscription service, each new month gives every Netflix users a chance to cancel the service.

Like all subscription companies, the best step Netflix can take to reduce churn is to create a great product that people are willing to pay for. They do this by having a large library of original and licensed content. As long as people keep watching, they’ll keep paying.

Let’s look at how Netflix achieves relatively low churn rates, when compared to their peers.

Reluctant to Switch

With more than a third of U.S. households subscribed to Netflix, it’s no secret they’re far ahead of their competitors (namely Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus) in the video streaming subscription race. Recent research by Parks Associates showed that only 4% of U.S. broadband households cancelled their Netflix service — representing almost 9% of Netflix’s subscriber base.

By comparison, 7% of users cancelled their Hulu Plus subscription within a year — but that figure represents approximately half of Hulu Plus’ current subscriber base.

subscribers-canceling-netflix(OTT refers to “Over the Top” – a term used in broadcasting to refer to internet-based transmission of media without an operator –as in cable or satellite — controlling or distributing the media).

What this tells us, is that not only are most households electing to keep their Netflix subscription and “test the waters” with other streaming services, but those same users keep coming back. But what is it that draws them back?

A Deeper Insight into User Preferences

Perhaps some of what makes Netflix so irresistible among its user base are its original shows. With fan favorites like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix has its finger on the pulse of what users are watching. And they’re not just skimming the surface, either. They look at things like:

  • How many users watched a particular episode
  • How many users watched an entire series
  • How much of a gap was there between when the user watched one episode and the next?

And that’s not all. They’re also gathering data on:

  • When you pause, rewind or fast-forward (or if you stop watching and never pick it back up again)
  • What day you watch (most people watch TV shows over the week and movies on the weekend)
  • What date and time you watch, as well as the zip code you’re watching from
  • What device(s) you use to watch which media
  • The ratings you give and the searches you conduct
  • Your browsing and scrolling habits
  • And even the data within the movies and shows themselves

Netflix knows when the credits roll – but it’s also speculated that they’re monitoring things like the volume, movie/show setting, colors and so on. All of this information is not just collected, but also acted upon.

Some might even say that Netflix took a huge gamble ($100 million to be exact) in purchasing the exclusive rights to House of Cards but they did so with a concrete hypothesis — that a large portion of its customers streamed “The Social Network”, directed by David Fincher from beginning to end. House of Cards is also directed by David Fincher. What’s more, they also noticed that films with Kevin Spacey tended to do well, as well as the original British version of House of Cards.

But Netflix didn’t just settle on one trailer to introduce users to House of Cards. Spacey fans saw trailers that exclusively featured him. Women who watched Thelma and Louise saw trailers featuring the female protagonists of House of Cards and big time film buffs saw trailers that reflected Mr. Fincher’s finest directing moments.

All of these points intersected in a way that practically lit up a path to customer engagement and retention. And all of them were made possible thanks to insights delivered by big data.

But this method only attracts users who happen to be watching other movies. What about when they’re not watching? Netflix has that covered, too.

Email: We Added a Show You Might Like

With the vast content library available, it would be overwhelming to not recommend shows to users. So Netflix doesn’t just collect data about the shows you watch — it acts on that data too, sending you emails when a show is added that you may like based on your existing viewing habits.

netflix-email-you-may-be-interested-in

The email itself is simple and straightforward, and, this is the important part — you can play the episode right from within your mobile device, or add it to your watch list. So it’s not just notifying you that you might enjoy this show, but rather giving you an action to take that lets them better tweak suggestions according to your viewing habits.

Push and In-App Notification – New Season

Many people find push notifications bothersome and frustrating — but it all depends on where they come from. Things that affect users directly – like utilities (your water or electricity is scheduled to be off for a time) or transportation (there’s a car wreck near you that may slow your commute) are definitely wanted.

Movie or series suggestions don’t seem like they’d be high up on users’ priority lists, but Netflix has done a fine job of customizing and fine tuning what gets shown to each user. For example, if you followed season 1 of House of Cards, Netflix lets you know that Season 2 is now available:

netflix-HOC-push-notification

What it doesn’t do is inundate you with notifications when every new season or every new movie is listed. Each push notification is carefully crafted again, based on the data from your viewing habits. This way, it’s not intrusive, but rather engaging.

Recommendations for You

Netflix is also famous for its recommendations. It knows it has just 90 seconds or less to convince you that there’s something worth watching that’s catered to your tastes, it looks at things such as the genre you watch and your ratings, but also what you don’t watch. There’s a very real problem of overwhelming the user — with so many choices, Netflix doesn’t want to get too personal.

And it doesn’t care so much about what you watch, but rather that you watch. When given the choice between calling a friend, reading a book or watching Netflix, they obviously want you to keep coming back.

And although Netflix does push its own original series up on its recommendation pages, it plays a flat fee to content providers, so there’s no reason for its recommendation algorithm to favor one series over another. Everything it recommends to you, it does not just because of your viewing habits today, but also historically.

All of these options filter in to create a uniquely personalized — but not too personal — list of recommendations specifically tailored to each user. An engaged user is a happy user, and Netflix is pulling out all the stops to keep them watching.

Interestingly enough, the personalization algorithm resets every 24 hours, making it more likely that users will keep discovering current titles of interest from Netflix’s ever-growing catalog.

Split Testing

Not surprisingly, Netflix also does a great deal of split testing — a couple hundred tests each year to be exact. It randomly selects around 300,000 users from around the world and tests everything from images to font size.

Whenever major changes are made, such as a homepage redesign, users are understandably upset and backlash is imminent – it’s in our nature to tend to resist change. However, Netflix does a good job of easing them into the new design by explaining what has changed and why. According to Netflix’s vice president of product innovation, Chris Jaffe, however, less than half of their tests have a positive impact on metrics.

Conclusion

Even still, with so many options to keep users informed across nearly every type of device, Netflix is continuing to test, innovate and refine its algorithms to prevent churn and keep users watching — and those users are at its core in a quest for never-ending user experience growth.

What are your thoughts on Netflix’s methods to keep you hooked? Have you discovered new shows as a result of their recommendations? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!