Thanksgiving Week (and a Great Sale) on Copyblogger


It’s Thanksgiving week in the U.S.! My creative output this week will be mainly culinary — I’ve got three kinds of pie to bake tomorrow, plus all of the other fun things we’ll have on the table. So this week is a short one for you. On Monday, the editorial team got together to talk
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Black Friday Sale: Huge Savings on StudioPress Premium WordPress Themes (Starts Today!)


We’ve been excited to unleash this year’s Black Friday sale ever since we first told you about it two weeks ago. And why wait until Friday to get started? Just in case you are planning to brave the crowds and chaos this Friday … Or in case you don’t want to think about anything on
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5 Ways to Turn a 404 Error into a Sale


sales from 404 error pages

When someone clicks on your website from a referral link or a Google search, they expect to land on a specific post.

But what happens when that page isn’t available?

What happens when a lovely 404 error greets them instead of the post they thought they were heading to?

The visitor will often bounce. They don’t come back because your content isn’t there.

Every site has trouble with 404 errors. It’s just the nature of the business.

But that doesn’t mean you can sit back and let 404 error pages sit idly by and cost you conversions.

If you don’t take care of them, you’ll leave bad impressions on your visitors.

Nobody likes to be disappointed when they click on a link online. We all want the best information ASAP.

That gives 404 error pages great potential to leave lasting impressions.

If someone recognizes that they landed on a 404 error page on your site, they may never come back.

So, what do you do?

Thankfully, there are a few ways you can actually use 404 error pages to land sales.

You can turn a possible disaster into a new customer.

Today, we’re going to look at some of the best examples and ways to turn your 404 error page into a money-making machine.

What is a 404 error page and why does it matter?

So, what exactly is a 404 error page and why does it matter for your traffic?

To sum it up, a 404 error is an HTTP status code that means the server couldn’t locate the page you were trying to land on.

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Essentially, the page doesn’t exist on a given website. So, when someone lands on it (usually via a misspelled or removed link), an error page greets them.

For example, typical 404 error pages tend to look like this:

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They often simply say “Not Found” and show a simple error-based message.

This is a terrible strategy.

People will see this and immediately X out of the window. They won’t try again because it takes time for them to re-enter the website into the URL bar.

If you leave your 404 pages like this, you are missing out on sales and traffic.

It matters because it happens more often than you’d expect.

It’s incredibly easy to misspell links when linking back to someone. It happens all the time.

Even one character could cause your link to return a 404 error.

Another common cause is when you delete old web pages on your site without using a 301 redirect.

This simply means that people are still reaching the old, deleted link via referrals or old pages on your site without being redirected, causing a 404 error.

They happen in many ways, and a few simple updates could drive massive sales to your site.

Here are five ways to turn those pesky 404 error pages into sales fast.

1. Turn it into a search box

On-site search is a popular method that people still use to discover content.

When browsing a site with a blog, it’s often tough to find exactly what you’re looking for.

I’ve used the on-site search function on countless sites to find the right content.

It shortens your visit and helps you accomplish your goal faster.

And it works the same for a 404 error page.

One of the most popular ways to ensure that 404-page traffic won’t leave your site is giving them the option to search on your site.

For example, check out how GitHub keeps users on your site by helping them search:

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Instead of a blank, boring page, you can easily search for what you are looking for on the 404 page.

Plus, there’s a cute graphic that tells users they’ve found the right website — it’s just that the page is missing or no longer exists.

MailChimp uses the same tactic when trying to keep 404 visitors on their site:

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I’ve personally landed on 404 pages just like this and have found them very useful.

There’s on-site branding as well as a search function. You can’t beat that.

Another great benefit of using on-site search comes in the form of data.

That’s right. You can actually cultivate tons of data from a 404 error page.

If you head to Google Analytics, you can  locate search terms that people use on-site. To do this, head to your dashboard and find the site search report under the behavior section:

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From here, locate the search terms report. You can use it to collect data on the most popular on-site searches.

A great way to capitalize on these searches is to turn them into links on your 404 error page.

For example, do you notice a popular term or two? Turn those into internal links on your error pages so that people can instantly click on them.

You can even use these terms to create new evergreen content that people are looking for on your site.

The options are almost endless.

404 error pages don’t have to be a waste of space. Try using them to help users find content faster.

The more you help website visitors, the more likely you are to drive sales. Plus, it makes your website look more polished and professional.

2. Turn it into a lead magnet

Lead magnets are the lifeblood of an online business.

Most people won’t convert on their first visit. They simply aren’t ready to buy from you.

People will find you from a blog post, and even if they love your content, they probably still won’t give you any information.

That means you need to use a lead magnet at some point to capture email addresses.

I use this strategy all the time on my site. Remarketing also works for driving leads with lead magnets.

And lead magnets come in all shapes and sizes.

A lead magnet could be anything of value to your audience.

For example, an e-book could be a perfect lead magnet for your customers who want to learn about SEO.

Turning your 404 error pages into lead magnets is a surefire way to capture emails and turn those visitors into easy sales.

For example, check out this 404 error page from Jumping Jackrabbit:

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It’s creative, funny and intriguing.

But the best part is their call to action: “Download image as wallpaper.”

They attempt to capture user interest and add value, even on a 404 page.

It’s a great way to get more emails and land more sales.

HubSpot also uses this tactic to drive more demo signups for their product:

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In a normal situation, a page like this would cause a user to bounce or return to the homepage.

But HubSpot uses it as an opportunity to provide tons of value and even drive sales using a lead magnet.

Want to turn your 404 error pages into sales? Try capturing emails or using a compelling call to action to drive sign-ups.

3. Offer coupons as exit intent

One of my favorite ways to take advantage of 404 error pages is by using them to offer incentives as a way to keep users around.

Let’s face it: It’s harder than ever to keep people on your site.

It’s even harder to get them to purchase.

According to AdRoll, 98% of first-time site visitors won’t convert or purchase from you.

That means only a tiny 2% of your traffic converts on the first visit.

But what about those who land on a 404 error page for their first visit? The conversion rate is probably less than 2%.

There isn’t data to back this up, but you can rightfully expect that you’d get fewer conversions when someone lands on an error page instead of a useful page that immerses them in your brand.

With that said, you need a way to capture these visitors and turn a bad situation into a sales opportunity.

How? You can start by utilizing exit intent.

If you haven’t heard of exit intent, it’s the idea of offering a coupon or discount to customers who are about to leave your site.

Here is a prime example of exit intent from Electric Family:

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These popups work by detecting the user’s behavior and offering the coupon just before they leave.

And it’s perfect for a 404 error page. Check out this error page from Lands’ End that uses exit intent:

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They immediately offer a 40% discount and free shipping to me when I am seconds away from a bounce.

They turned a 404 error page into a higher likelihood of generating a sale.

More than likely, if someone lands on a 404 page, they might be a bit annoyed.

Giving them a coupon or an extra reason to stay will save your sales.

So, do you want to set one up for free today? You can use AddThis to install exit-intent software in just a few minutes.

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To get started, create a free account with your email or Facebook login.

Once you’ve linked an account, you can select a tool from their list:

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For this purpose, I recommend using the “List Building” tool. This will allow you to get email signups and offer coupon-based offers.

Next, select Popup as your tool type:

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You can begin to customize everything about your exit-intent popup from here:

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Start by customizing the text and deciding what your offer will be. For example, do you want to offer them a coupon in exchange for their email?

In the advanced options section, make sure to select “On Exit” under “Show This Message:”

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You can even add a redirect URL to drive more traffic back to your product pages after someone fills out the call to action.

Here’s what my exit intent looks like with just thirty seconds of setup work:

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Yes, it’s basic. If you want more customization, you can buy the full version of the tool.

If you don’t want to use AddThis, you can also use Hello Bar to capture exit intent on your 404 pages for free.

Exit-intent offers are amazing opportunities to turn a boring, conversion-sabotaging 404 page into a sales-generating machine.

4. Direct users to your products or homepage

Another great use of the 404 page is to drive people back to products or your homepage.

A typical 404 error page is going to drive users away. Simply stating that the page doesn’t exist isn’t going to help anyone achieve their goals.

Sales don’t come out of thin air. Broken pages don’t come without context.

But adding simple navigation could be a game changer for sales.

It can help people find what they are looking for rather than getting frustrated and leaving.

For example, Lands’ End does this on their 404 error pages:

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They allow users to navigate to their most popular product links, including men’s and women’s clothing.

Be sure to give your users options when they land on a 404 page. It will help you capture more visitors and keep them on the site longer.

And we all know that more visits give you a higher chance of converting.

Another amazing option I came across was on Aeropostale’s site:

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I clicked on a link from Google that was supposed to direct me to their men’s section.

But when I reached the destination, nothing showed up — not even a 404 error.

Instead, the link simply redirected back to their homepage!

I avoided a 404 error altogether, saving me time. Luckily, there are easy ways to implement this in seconds on your site.

Try using the All 404 Redirect plugin for WordPress:

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Instead of landing on a 404 error page, a broken link will just drive visits to your homepage.

Save yourself the time and effort of even creating specific 404 error pages and use this plugin to keep your traffic happy!

5. Leave an impression

If you don’t have tons of 404 errors plaguing your site, you can take a slightly less marketing-focused approach.

Lead magnets, exit intent, and search bars are great for 404 error pages.

But when you don’t have many, there are still other options.

One of the best includes trying to make a great impression on users.

You can try to get them to laugh and enjoy their time on your site.

Make it memorable enough for them to come back a second time.

According to most studies, it only takes a second or two for someone to form an impression online.

You’ve got a tiny window of time to build trust and positive relations with a customer.

So, how do you do that?

Get the creative juices flowing. Make the site visit enjoyable and focused on fun.

For example, check out how LEGO uses humor and creativity to make a lasting impression on 404-page visitors:

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Another awesome 404 page comes from Blizzard Entertainment:

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They use the themes of their popular products and video games to make the experience better for the user.

My personal favorite 404 error page of all time comes from Wistia:

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They use the “cute” factor of Lenny, their brand dog.

They have tons of videos featuring Lenny on their site, too:

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Lenny has become popular in the Wistia community, so this 404 page works perfectly for their site visitors.

They even offer a call to action allowing 404 visits to explore more about Lenny.

It’s a genius marketing tactic to get people interested.

Instead of a boring page, they hook you in with the story of their dog and how he plays a role in the company.

Try bringing life to your 404 page with creative design, videos, and stories.

Do you have a company story or want to communicate a brand message?

Is your company a startup? Share insights into your business that compel people to stay on your site longer.

Conclusion

Succeeding online and driving more sales comes down to one critical factor:

Giving the user what they want. You have to solve their problem.

If you can solve a pain point and communicate value, you can expect to drive sales.

But when someone clicks on your website and lands on a 404 error, they bounce.

404 error pages plague every website in the industry. It’s not just you.

They are inevitable. But leaving them as-is becomes risky. Even dangerous, especially when it comes to sales.

You can’t afford to have broken links sabotage potential purchases.

If you’re getting referrals to a link that isn’t there, you could be missing out on tons of valuable traffic and conversions.

So, what do you do?

There are a few proven ways to turn your 404 error pages into sales-manufacturing machines.

One popular method is turning your 404 page into a search box to help users find exactly what they were looking for without leaving your site.

You can also turn it into a lead magnet, offering great e-books or tools for them to try. It’s a great way to collect emails and drive sales on a page that would otherwise have caused them to bounce.

Consider using coupons if you run an e-commerce site. It’s one of the most popular ways to get people to stick around.

Lastly, direct users to your products with easy navigational boxes, and use storytelling to leave a great impression on visitors.

Don’t sit back and let your traffic slip through the cracks. Skyrocket your sales by making creative 404 pages.

What are the best ways you’ve converted traffic from a 404 error page?

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The Most Effective Ways to Generate Leads for Your Business


To survive, businesses constantly need to come up with new revenue streams.

While you may generate plenty of money by improving customer retention by focusing on your existing customers, you’re only getting a small piece of the pie.

The companies who focus on lead generation do more than just survive—they thrive.

That’s where I want you to be.

People don’t start a business to make the bare minimum.

As a marketing expert with a proven track record, I can help your company generate more leads with simple strategies.

Customers won’t find you unless you put some effort in making yourself visible.

Surprisingly, the majority of these tactics won’t be too much work for you and can be accomplished on a reasonable marketing budget.

You don’t always need to break the bank to get more customers.

Here’s how you can get started.

Use influencers to generate social proof

Look at how FabFitFun got a professional surfer and model Anastasia Ashley to post about their brand on Instagram:

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FabFitFun sends their members a gift box every three months with a bunch of new products.

The box includes some beauty supplies, fashion items, and fitness gear.

Using Anastasia’s platform to promote their brand helps expose their company to a wider range of people.

Anastasia has over 1 million followers on Instagram.

That picture alone generated nearly 12,500 likes.

Let’s dissect the advertisement one step further.

Look at the caption. She included:

  • a tag to the @FabFitFun Instagram page
  • discounted subscription codes
  • a link to the company’s website
  • related hashtags for the brand

Anyone who sees this picture knows what steps to follow if they want more information.

It’s a great strategy for generating new leads.

Anastasia has more than twice the number of Instagram followers the company has.

It’s safe to say the majority of Anastasia’s followers weren’t even aware of this brand.

Employ the same strategy for your business.

Don’t think you’re obligated to use Instagram as the platform for this technique.

YouTube is another effective channel for influencer marketing.

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Even though consumers may not know these influencers personally, they still feel a personal connection with them compared to a more well-known celebrity like a movie star.

Why?

These people may seem more approachable.

Interacting with your favorite television actor may seem unrealistic especially if they have millions of followers on different platforms.

But these lesser-known influencers are more relatable.

They don’t have personal drivers and red carpet access, so consumers are more willing to take their advice.

Find some brand ambassadors and social influencers to help your business generate new leads.

Create an actionable Facebook advertisement

Facebook ads are a great way to gain exposure for your brand, which ultimately generates more leads.

But sometimes displaying your brand name alone with an advertisement isn’t enough.

You need to give your audience a reason to continue.

Make sure your Facebook ad has a call to action.

Let’s look at an example from AdEspresso:

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I love this because, ironically, it’s a Facebook ad about Facebook ads.

I used this example because of the actionable CTA button: “Download.”

Getting a prospective customer to download a free ebook is a great way to generate new leads.

I like this strategy better than simply linking your Facebook advertisement directly to your homepage.

Anybody can do that, so be different and stand out from the crowd.

Facebook ads also let you customize your target audience, so you can generate leads by targeting the right people.

Take advantage of what Facebook for business has to offer:

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When creating a campaign, select lead generation under the Consideration menu.

Facebook will even let you create a split test to see which advertising strategy gets better results.

This is something you should consider, especially if you’re debating between two different CTA buttons.

I like to use Facebook Ads because the platform allows you to completely customize your target audience.

Set parameters such as:

  • gender
  • age
  • location
  • education
  • relationship status
  • interests
  • behaviors

All of these help narrow your focus so you can generate leads from people who would be genuinely interested in your company.

For example, let’s take a look at a Facebook ad from Philips Norelco:

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Their beard trimming products are obviously gender-specific.

But this advertisement focuses on men of a certain age and lifestyle.

It doesn’t belong on the newsfeed of a college female.

Make sure you fill in all the parameters when narrowing your audience to get the most accurate results and leads.

Use Twitter’s advanced search queries

Twitter is another top resource for lead generation, but too many businesses overlook this method.

This is great news for you because you’ll have the chance to capture leads from your competition if you execute this strategy effectively.

There are two main steps to this tactic:

  1. find people who may be interested in your brand;
  2. engage with those people.

It’s that simple.

The advanced search query makes it easy for you to accomplish this.

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There are four main categories of this search:

  • Words
  • People
  • Places
  • Dates

We’ll go through a hypothetical example to see how this works.

Let’s say your company sells sunscreen and sun tan lotion.

Words you might want to include in your search could be:

  • Beach
  • Pool
  • Vacation
  • Summer
  • Sun burn
  • Sunscreen

You can see where I’m going with this.

Include in your search relevant phrases too, such as “pool day” or “going to the beach.”

But what about the “none of these words” query?

If you include “sun burn” as two words, you may want to put a word like “razor” into the “none of these words” field so you don’t get search results for “razor burn.”

Does that make sense? It’s simple.

Now let’s move on to the People section.

You’re already getting notifications when people interact with you on Twitter, so there’s no reason to include your name in the search.

Instead, search for your competition.

As a sunscreen company, you could search for results that include Banana Boat:

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You’ll see Twitter users who engaged with your competition.

Shortly, I’ll talk about what you can do with these users.

But for now, we’ll continue going through the search fields.

If you’re a local or regional company, narrow your search results to your area.

You don’t need to see what people are tweeting about in South Africa if your company doesn’t distribute products outside of Phoenix, Arizona.

For argument’s sake, let’s say your sunscreen company has an ecommerce platform with global distribution.

Should you omit the places field?

Absolutely not.

Enter locations where people need protection from the sun.

You also want to filter the date range.

If someone tweeted they got sunburn back in May 2013, that won’t help you generate leads today.

Narrow your search to the most recent results. The past week or month should be a good place to start.

Now that you’ve completed your search, it’s time to go through the results.

Reach out to users by replying directly to their tweets.

Favorite their tweets.

Follow their profiles.

These types of interactions will help increase your chances of getting more followers.

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My favorite part of this strategy is that it won’t cost you anything, just your time.

Even if you’re paying a social media manager to do this job, it’s an efficient use of their time as well.

But unlike some of the strategies we looked at earlier, such as influencer marketing or Facebook ads, the Twitter advanced search query is free to use.

Focus on your value proposition

Through one avenue or another, let’s say a prospective customer manages to find themselves on your website.

If you used one of the strategies we looked at so far, I’m willing to bet you’re going to see an increase in website traffic.

But what happens from here?

You obviously don’t want them to just visit your website and leave.

Get some information from these visitors by having a strong value proposition.

Check out this example from Crazy Egg:

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It’s a simple and accurate description of what the customer will get.

Your value proposition needs to be easy to follow and straight to the point.

Too many companies have a long and unnecessary “About Us” section on their homepages.

That goes for your company mission statement too.

Neither offers any value to the customer.

Now that you’ve explained why you’re better than the competition, you need to collect some information from the customer.

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After you enter the website address you want analyzed, Crazy Egg will prompt you to create an account and enter your email address.

It’s an effective tactic for generating leads.

I know from firsthand experience because I’m the one who came up with this idea for Crazy Egg.

Once you have the person’s email address, you can continue to contact them with your existing email marketing strategies.

Make sure your website has a blog

Blogs are a top way to increase website traffic and engagement.

They are also a great excuse for you to promote other content on your website.

If you can write SEO friendly blog posts, your website ranking will improve on Google’s search algorithm.

Now when someone is searching for something related to your brand, products, services, or industry, you could be a top hit.

You can also promote blogs across different social channels.

If you are struggling with finding content to post on your Facebook page or Twitter profile each day, you can post links to your blog posts so those social sites stay functional.

Your blog needs to be active.

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If you’re struggling to find good writers or can’t put out blog posts frequently, consider looking for guest-bloggers.

It’s a win-win situation for both you and the guest blogger.

They will gain exposure to a new audience, and you’ll keep your content fresh.

In return, you can ask for this guest-poster to promote and link to your company on their blog.

You should also take advantage of guest-posting yourself.

Whenever other blogs related to your industry are looking for a guest post, jump on that invitation before someone else takes it.

Now you have the chance to do the same thing.

Your guest post will reach people who may not know your company even existed.

Blogging is one of my favorite strategies for generating new leads.

Leverage cold outreach (the right way)

Yes, I am all about inbound marketing, but sometime cold outreach and prospecting is just as effective, if done right.

When I say cold outreach I mean highly targeted cold outreach, not the spray and pray type of grind.

This will allow you to fully personalize your outreach message, which will yield drastically higher ROI.

Here is how you can do it.

First, figure out your exact target prospects.

For example:

  • Company Type: Fortune 1,000
  • Revenue: $1 Billion
  • Employee: 30,000-45,000
  • Position: CFO

Once you figured out what your target prospect look like, head to LinkedIn to do some lead research with their Advanced Lead Search.

After you input the criteria, it’s time to reach out and start prospecting.

But, before you send anything, you need to ignite a first touch point.

You can do this by enabling email notifications for your target prospects inn LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator to get notified whenever they post on LinkedIn. Then you can reply and engage with their LinkedIn updates.

After you do about two to three of these engagements, add them as a connection and send out your first LinkedIn direct message.

In your message, make sure you personalize it by mentioning one of their updates that you engaged with. This will yield a high response rate, because you are not just some random guy messaging out of no where.

In addition, you should follow up with a direct personalized email.

To find your prospects’ email addresses I recommend using VoilaNorber. In addition, you can save loads of time with the chrome plugin Gmass, which allows you to automate your personalized emailing and follow ups.

Conclusion

Your business should always be looking for improvements.

While your existing customer base can help you pay the bills, continuing to grow and expand your company can help put some extra change in your pockets.

While some lead generation strategies will cost you money, you can use some inexpensive and free options as well.

Consider looking for influencers with a big social following to promote your brand.

You’ll have to pay them, but it shouldn’t be too costly.

It’s a great way to expose your brand to a new audience.

Facebook advertisements are a top way to make sure the ads are targeted.

Your company won’t be seen by just any random person.

Instead, you can choose your custom audience for your ad.

If you’re on a tight budget and don’t want to spend any money, use the Twitter advanced search query to generate leads.

Narrow your search options, and engage with relevant users.

Blogging is another free way to generate leads.

Look for any opportunities to guest-post as well.

Don’t forget to focus on your value proposition.

And last buy not least, give outbound prospecting a try.

What are some effective lead generation strategies you have tried?





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How to Find a Juicy Writing Idea When Your Creative Well Has Run Dry


It’s the hard part. The thing about being a writer that isn’t necessarily all that awesome. Sometimes it’s the part that makes you doubt yourself, doubt your creativity and abilities, maybe even doubt whether this whole professional writing thing really makes sense for you. “What the &$%# am I going to write about this week?”–
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