Growing Your List: Ten Ways to Improve Your Sales and Audience

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If you have specialist knowledge and skills and can establish yourself as an authority


email (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

on your subject, you will get more people to sign up for your updates, newsletters and products and services. Your website is your platform to showcase your expertise but there are lots of other ways to spread the message that you are an authority in your field. Try some of the following:

Article writing – write articles for website owners, syndication websites, and offline in newspapers, magazines and journals. Make sure you include a link back to your landing page or website and leave readers on a cliff edge with the promise of more tantalizing information if they sign up.

Start a blog – a blog is a great way to impart information to your readers in a different format. Blogs give you the opportunity to bond with your readers in a more personal way, which is an important part of developing a relationship with your customers and subscribers.

Another reason to run a blog is that blog sites like WordPress rank highly in the search engines, so links to your website from your blog can help push your website further up in the rankings.

Write guest blogs – like article writing, you can get the message across that you are an authority on your subject. Write guest blogs for other bloggers and in time you may even get paid for your posts. It’s a great way to get your name out there.

Comment on forums – again, like blogging and article writing, it’s a good way to get your name known and a chance to get some links back to your site.

Write reviews – websites like Amazon rank very highly in the search engines, so if you can get links back to your site, blog or landing page, you increase your own ranking. Writing reviews on relevant books and products also helps to establish you as an authority.

Cross promote with other businesses – find other business owners with lists of customers in a related field and offer a joint promotion that will benefit you both. This is a great way to tap into lists of targeted and qualified prospects. Another list owner will be recommending you, effectively, so this adds credibility and trust and encourages people to sign up.

Social media advertising update

Apparently, according to the latest study, Facebook users are revolting!

Yes, they are revolting against the new Timeline profile Facebook has brought out and apparently, according to the latest survey, satisfaction is to an all-time low. The study, brought out by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, shows that Google+, Twitter and Wikipedia are more popular than Facebook's Timeline profile and adverts. Google+ has grown to 250 million users in just a year and has 75 million visitors per day -- far above its rivals such as Twitter.

The Timeline profile gives a user's Facebook page a magazine-like feel and promises to tell the story of their life, encouraging people to post and share stories and photos of the highlights from their past.

The Timeline feature has been much hyped -- but this has not gone down well with Facebook users. This won't help the recently sliding stock prices of the company either and Facebook currently looks like it's taking a distinct downturn in popularity.

The study shows that just 61 percent of site users are happy with the service provided by Facebook and it is plunging in popularity when compared to other social networking sites. It looks like privacy is a major concern for Facebook users, but another telling statistic is the dissatisfaction with the sheer volume of advertising. Facebook users are unhappy about how their personal information is used and don't see the point of targeted advertising messages.

Google+ uses a mobile app that is well liked and integrates other Google services like search, You Tube and Google mail. According to the recent ACSI study, the Google+ site is not inundated with the advertising that irritates many Facebook and other social media users.

So, the message from this recent study is that there is likely to be a trend towards reducing advertising on social media sites in the future. Already, most business owners spend less than 20 percent of their marketing budget on social media, so maybe this will fall further. In fact, if you look back at the marketing head start earlier in the module, there are a set of stats that show other platforms such as mobile marketing are becoming more popular among marketers than social media.

Users clearly don't like being bombarded with adverts and it remains to be seen how these networking site will make their profits.

However, no doubt there will be moves to try to reverse this trend with changes to the way advertising on social media is organized and presented to users. Advertising is vital to the profits of social media sites, so they are not likely to give in that easily.

Watch your targeted social media market

A recent study from Nielsen has shown, unsurprisingly, that women are more social when it comes to social media than men. They are more likely to follow brands and celebrities, engage in blogging and buy products they have seen on TV.

Women, it seems are 8 percent more likely to create or update their blog and 18 percent more likely to become a Facebook fan or follow a brand on social media sites. Women are also 15 percent more likely to follow a celebrity.

So, it seems women are more likely to become followers and customers, so if your business caters to women, so much the better! If not, maybe social media is not such an effective medium to promote your business.

So let’s now take a look at a couple of key marketing strategies before we go on to discuss ways to improve your website.

Use guarantees

Actually, your customer already has certain statutory rights according to consumer law, for example, your products have to be fit for purpose and safe to use. However, you can increase the allure of your products by offering generous rock-solid guarantees in addition to any statutory rights. This is a very powerful strategy that gives prospective customers confidence in your products and services. If you believe in them enough to offer a generous guarantee, then your customers are more likely to believe in them too.

At this point you may be concerned that if you offer a guarantee, everyone will take advantage of you and you will get ripped off by unscrupulous people. Actually, the statistics show that this doesn’t happen. Most people don’t come back to you on a guarantee – even when they are entitled to.

A generous guarantee can really boost your sales so that even if a few come back asking for a refund, you will more than cover this with your increased profits. It is definitely worth offering a money back guarantee. Make it unconditional – ‘we guarantee your money back in full within 3 days if not delighted – no questions asked’.

If you are offering a service or certain products, it may be trickier to offer a guarantee. For example, if you are selling hypnosis CDs, you can’t guarantee results because people are different and the results will be very subjective. However, you can offer a service guarantee; say fast delivery, ‘We guarantee you will receive your CD within 2 working days or it’s free’.

The power of testimonials

The old fashioned word-of-mouth advertising is still a very powerful form of advertising – arguably the best. It’s the most reliable way to increase your customer list and it’s good for your company’s reputation when people recommend you to others. In fact people actually enjoy sharing good things and this is why viral marketing is so effective. Just think how popular videos on You Tube get millions of views within days or weeks – it’s because people are sharing them with their friends and family. Social media also works because people like to share things.

A great way to tap into this is to get lots of customer testimonials. Ask them at the time of purchase or ask them a week after, but try to get as many positive testimonials as you can and use them in all your marketing materials – on your website, your brochures and leaflets and in your adverts.

Testimonials are enhanced by using pictures of your customers or better still get video testimonials of them using your products. Testimonials offer a form of evidence that your products and services really work – they also offer opinions as to the experience people have had whilst interacting with your business.

Stop spending money on advertising

Advertising is literally a black hole into which you endlessly throw money – it remorselessly swallows up your cash and demands more and more without giving anything back. Most advertising is, quite honestly, a complete waste of time. I’m not saying all of it – targeted ads can be very effective – but most business owners get sucked into the advertising hype and end up spending a small fortune on advertising they don’t need. Think about it – no sooner is your website published or your store opened and you are deluged with sales people trying to flog you advertising. Don’t fall for it like so many business owners do.

Ad sales people and their advertising companies don’t know your business and they are not marketing experts – they don’t know what adverts will pull in business for you. Most business owners leave it all in their hands and wonder why their ads don’t pull in the customers.

It’s important that you stop wasting money on ineffective advertising and marketing if you want your business to grow and make a profit. There are so many ways you can market your business much more effectively and we will consider them throughout this course. For now I want you to stop and really evaluate whether your advertising is working. Have you done quantitative tests to analyze where your business is coming from? How many sales are you making from your current adverts? Find out before you spend another cent on advertising.

Now, one of the best ways you can attract free traffic to your website, gain new customers via the Internet and build credibility for your business all at the same time is to do a good job on your search engine optimization – SEO. It has been shown over and over that people use the natural search engine results in preference to paid advertising.

It stands to reason really. Anyone with some spare cash for marketing can place paid adverts but to get to the top of the natural search engines, you have to earn you way there by having a good website, quality content, desirable inbound links and so on. People know this and would rather trust the search engine results than risk clicking through to a ‘dodgy’ website. In fact recent stats show that people are actually quite irritated by paid adverts showing up on the search engine results

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