How to Write Instagram Captions That Drive Engagement


Staying active on social media is absolutely necessary if you want your business to be successful.

This statement holds true for small, local mom-and-pop stores as well as national chains and global ecommerce sites.

Even if you’re not selling a tangible product and just run a blog or something similar, you need to have a social media presence.

But having social media profiles and properly managing them are two different things.

Did you know about 80% of social media browsing takes place on mobile devices?

That’s one of the reasons why you need to focus on your Instagram strategy.

Plus, look at the rapid growth it’s had over the last several years:

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The popularity of this platform can’t be ignored.

Businesses are recognizing this trend and acting accordingly.

In fact, over 70% of companies in the United States had an Instagram profile in 2017.

That number has skyrocketed from 48.8% in 2016.

If you are one of these businesses, I’m sure you’re taking advantage of everything Instagram has to offer.

You post photos daily.

You’re always adding videos to your story.

You may even go live once in a while too.

But how are these actions engaging your followers?

Taking and posting the perfect picture can grab someone’s attention, but your captions will give them a sense of direction.

It’s important you write actionable Instagram captions.

If you need help writing your captions, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ll tell you everything you need to know about writing captions that drive engagement.

Let everyone know where you are with location tags

I’ll start by telling you something that does not need to be in your caption.

When it comes to the location of the photos, do tell your followers where the photo was taken.

But here’s the catch: you don’t need to put that in your caption.

That’s a waste of valuable space.

I see people make this mistake all the time.

Instead, tag the location of the photo.

Here’s an example.

Rather than saying, “Here we are at the United Center,” the Jordan brand geo-tags the location of the photo instead.

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Now they can put other information in their caption.

They used this post to promote a new product launch.

But that message could have been lost in the shuffle if they wrote their location in the caption.

Another reason why you should tag the location is because it will appear with all the other photos and videos tagged at that location.

The posts with the most likes and comments will show up as “Top Posts” on that location’s page.

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It’s a great way for people who might not follow you to see your posts as well.

If the Jordan brand included their location in a caption, it wouldn’t be exposed to such a wide audience.

Plus, location tagging drives engagement, which is our ultimate goal.

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Keep your location out of the caption, and tag it instead.

That’s a much better engagement strategy.

Don’t write the first thing that comes to your mind

You took 20 different pictures of the same subject from different angles and with different lighting.

Then you spent time finding the best one, adding a filter or two, changing the exposure, brightness, and saturation, and playing around with all the other editing tools.

But then you write your caption in 10 seconds because you want to post it right away.

That’s a mistake.

You should take just as long, if not longer, to write your Instagram caption for that photo.

Think about all the other written content you’re putting out on the Internet, like your blog, for example.

You write a draft and then you edit it.

Maybe you edit it a second or even a third time before adding the post to your website.

Apply that same concept to your Instagram captions.

Write drafts—and several of them.

Take your time. The photo isn’t going anywhere and neither are your followers.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should take all week or a month to write these couple of lines of text.

But you need to put some thought into it. Concentrate on your captions as much as you focus on taking the photo and editing it.

Writing drafts can also help you make sure you don’t have spelling errors or make any other blunders.

While Instagram allows you to edit your caption after it’s posted, by the time you realize there is a mistake, thousands of followers could have already seen it.

Those are careless mistakes.

You don’t want people to think you don’t care.

Put the most important information first

If you’re writing a longer caption, don’t be clever trying to ease into it with a creative introduction.

Instead, lead with your most important message.

Be direct.

Instagram allows you to have 2200 characters in your caption, but that doesn’t mean your followers will see it all. Well, at least not right away.

Longer captions get cut off.

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The example above shows the caption before and after the user hits “more.”

And this caption isn’t even that long.

While in general, I think shorter captions are more effective, I don’t want to discourage you from writing longer ones.

Just make sure your most important content isn’t at the end.

Not everyone will click on the “more” button to see the whole thing.

Keep in mind, users are just scrolling down their newsfeeds glancing at photos.

They probably don’t care enough about your caption to read the whole thing.

So at least try to hook them in with the first couple of lines to give them a reason to keep reading.

Find ways to encourage comments

You want each post to have lots of engagement.

One of the ways to do this is by getting people to comment on your pictures.

Users can talk in the comments with each other or reply directly to you.

Another way to get more comments is by replying to users and driving a discussion.

For this method to be successful, however, you have to get people talking in the first place.

End your caption with a question to invite comments from your followers.

If you don’t ask them something, they may not have a reason to write anything.

Another way to get comments is by encouraging your followers to tag their friends in photos.

Here’s an example from MVMT Watches:

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This post received nearly 900 comments in less than five days.

Clearly, this is an effective strategy.

Drive traffic to your website

If you have an ecommerce store, the ultimate goal of your Instagram page should be to get more sales from your followers.

To get people to make a purchase, you have to get them to your website first since purchases can’t be made directly from the Instagram platform.

You should also be tracking where your website traffic is coming from.

Create a unique URL with a tracking code to see the number of referrals from your Instagram page.

That will help you gauge how successful this strategy is.

It’s always important to measure results, so establish a benchmark to improve upon.

Add that unique link to your Instagram bio.

Then, you can use your caption to refer your followers to the link.

Here’s an example from H&M to show you what I’m talking about:

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This photo shows some specific clothing items they’re selling.

If people are interested in buying one of these items, they can click on a link in the bio that brings them directly to the item.

That way they don’t have to key in the website URL first and then search for the item.

It’s too many steps that can turn them away and reduce the chances of a sale.

Here’s what that link looks like in the H&M bio:

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This makes it really easy for customers to shop, leading to more sales.

Run a contest

Nothing gets people excited like the opportunity to get something free.

You can use contests as a way to promote your brand on Instagram.

This strategy will definitely drive engagement if you can write a great caption.

First, let’s review the three different types of giveaways:

  • contest
  • sweepstakes
  • lottery

When the participants have to do something that requires some sort of effort or skill to win a prize, it’s considered a contest. The winner is determined by judges or a vote.

If you’re selecting a winner at random, it’s called a sweepstakes.

A lottery would mean that people would have to buy a raffle ticket or something like that to enter.

But I wouldn’t recommend doing this, especially because certain state and federal laws prohibit these types of giveaways.

Your best bet is running a contest. That’s one of my favorite ways to keep your followers engaged.

Their effort will determine whether they win or not.

Here’s a great example of a strong caption promoting a contest run by Starbucks:

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It’s a successful campaign strategy because it encourages user-generated content.

Here’s how it works.

Starbucks invites their customers to design a cup.

Then the customers have to post a picture of their cups on Instagram with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

Think about your brand and your current contest.

If you own a coffee shop, there are only so many pictures of coffee and pastries you can post.

Your followers will get bored with that real quick.

That’s why your captions have to be engaging.

Try running a contest the next time you post a picture on Instagram.

Here’s a contest example from Mint:

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You can use this caption as a template for your own contest, using your own information: name, hashtag, prize, and deadline.

Use hashtags

We’ve discussed hashtags a few times already, but they are important enough to mention on their own.

You want to include hashtags in your captions.

For the same reason, we tagged location.

Your post will appear on a page with all the other images with the same hashtag.

You’ll expose your brand to a wider audience.

I’d recommend putting hashtags at the end of your caption.

As we saw earlier, long captions can get cut off.

But your hashtag doesn’t have to be visible to be effective.

It will group your picture with all the other posts with that hashtag.

If you’re not sure which hashtag to use, start typing and Instagram will suggest the most popular ones.

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Pick the one with the most posts.

This will give you the greatest user engagement.

While you want to include hashtags, use them sparingly.

Going overboard with them could look like spam, and it’s not appealing to your followers.

Make sure your hashtags are relevant.

Don’t just use trending hashtags as a way to get exposure if they have nothing to do with your post or brand.

Again, this will make people think you’re spamming them, which is counterproductive to your engagement strategy.

Conclusion

Don’t overlook the importance of writing a good Instagram caption.

You spend lots of time selecting and editing a photo. Make sure you’re putting just as much effort into the caption.

Write several drafts before deciding on the best.

While you want to let users know where you are, that doesn’t mean it should be part of your caption. It’s a waste of space. Use location tagging instead.

Long captions will get cut off, so write the most important information at the beginning.

Encourage user comments by asking a question or telling your followers to tag their friends.

Drive traffic to your website through a link in your bio. Mention the link in your captions.

This will help you get more sales if you have an ecommerce site.

Promote a contest or giveaway in your captions too.

Add hashtags as well, but use them sparingly.

If you follow these tips, you’ll get more engagement on all your Instagram posts.

Which caption strategy has been the most successful for your company’s Instagram profile?





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What Google’s 2017 Algorithm Updates Can Teach You About SEO in 2018


algorithm seo updates

Search engine optimization is constantly changing.

It seems like yesterday that keyword stuffing was a viable SEO strategy to rank on Google.

As Google performs more algorithm updates to keep up with user behavior, we’ll start to see major shifts in how we do SEO.

What’s the norm or commonplace now might become the next keyword-stuffing tactic in a few years.

Google makes anywhere between 500 and 600 algorithm updates each year.

Sometimes, it can be hard to determine which updates will actually influence our SEO efforts and directly impact rankings.

In 2017, Google made tons of updates to their algorithm.

And a few of them were major, high-impact updates that had big effects on existing sites on Google.

Some sites saw huge drops in traffic and rankings.

In this post, I’m going to give you a brief history of the most important updates from 2017 that Google made and show you how these algorithms can prepare you for SEO in the coming year.

Let’s do this.

A history of updates in 2017

In 2017, there were a few major updates that can shed light on how the SEO industry will change in 2018.

In this section, I’ll lay out the biggest updates of 2017 in detail and what they mean.

On February 1st, Google released an unnamed (yet major) update. According to Search Engine Land, there was a heavy period of algorithm fluctuations from February 1st to the 6th.

Evidence from SEL shows that this update contained anywhere from one to two major changes.

SEL noticed that the black hat SEO community was complaining and taking notice that their tactics weren’t working as well.

Many have speculated that Google implemented the update to better discredit spammy links or links with relatively low authority.

Another update quickly followed this on February 7th that was dramatically larger in scale.

G-Squared Interactive reported on this major update where they saw the visibility of some websites impacted in a positive way:

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While some sites saw a positive impact, others experienced negative results from the update:

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When Google implements an update of this magnitude, you can usually see shockwaves of the impact through keyword rankings.

For example, you could see a keyword jump five to ten spots in just a day.

G-Squared Interactive found that the update impacted tons of their keywords:

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Some of those keyword rankings have massive jumps, moving more than 40 positions almost instantly.

So, what happened here?

Essentially, Google’s algorithm started sweeping sites that weren’t as high-quality as they initially thought.

Therefore, Google gave these sites lower rankings.

GSQi noted that Google began to demote sites with low-quality user engagement.

For example, sites with broken menus and poor user interfaces or sites that have deceptive ad placements and excessive monetization options.

Google penalized some sites that were using heavy pagination to make users click through 38 pages to finish an article:

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This makes for a terrible user experience in exchange for better and easier ad promotion on sites.

But Google doesn’t like that at all. Google wants to provide the best search engine experience on the web.

That means that these tactics won’t fly anymore.

Similarly to the user experience, the update impacted low-quality, thin content.

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Thin content is generally content that is short and only exists to drive traffic.

The goal is to direct that traffic to other parts of a site. Thus, the content is only a tool, not a step in furthering the user experience.

Another major part of the update included impacts based on the mobile usability of sites.

If your site isn’t perfectly optimized for mobile right now, your rankings are going to suffer.

GSQi noticed that sites with poor mobile usability and broken menus were suffering big consequences from Google:

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If your mobile experience is subpar, you’re losing out on traffic and rankings.

Google released another huge portion of the update to address ad deception.

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Google heavily frowns upon ad deception. And that’s not just for safety reasons. User experience is one of the biggest factors they have in mind.

Instead of creating content based on helping users, deceptive ads are woven into the content to seem like just another link.

But these links have been taking users off-site and onto dangerous, malware-based sites.

Google doesn’t like when ads are woven into the content so well that users can’t tell.

This could apply to malicious sites as well as sites that are incorporating content for the sole purpose of selling affiliate links.

On top of ad deception, Google started to penalize sites that weren’t taking the user-engagement experience into account.

Sites that used ads at the top of the fold saw a huge decrease in rankings.

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If your ads are pushing the content further away from users, you’re in trouble.

It’s bad enough that you’re creating a poor experience for the typical users looking to read your content. But worse yet, Google is also starting to take notice.

This update was major.

But it wasn’t the only major update in 2017 that forecasted big changes for the way we conduct SEO strategies.

On March 8th, Google released an update that we now refer to as “Fred.”

The Fred update was Google’s latest confirmed update that targets websites violating their webmaster guidelines.

Specifically, websites that are low-quality blog-style sites focusing on generating ad revenue.

Search Engine Land said:

“If you show ads, make sure the pages they are found on are high-quality and offer relevant, ample information.”

Essentially, Google again addressed sites with thin content as well as those trying to game the system via affiliate-based pages.

If your content only contains affiliate links and the goal clearly isn’t to help users, Google is going to penalize you.

Some of these ad-heavy, low-quality sites saw massive drops in organic traffic on Google:

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These major 2017 Google updates have caused a big stir in the SEO community.

Keeping up with changing user behavior is becoming harder than ever before.

Google is always trying to provide the best user experience.

And that means that it’s becoming harder to nail down specific SEO strategies that work.

But with all these new updates flooding in, we can gain valuable insight into what 2018 has to offer.

Here’s what these algorithm updates can teach you about SEO in 2018.

The future is all-inclusive, in-depth content

Content is king. It has been for years now.

But not just any content will drive traffic and get higher rankings.

Google is cutting down on poor, thin content that isn’t driving good traffic.

According to Google’s 2017 updates, thin content took a massive hit.

GSQi had this to say:

“The sites I checked were once ranking for keywords leading to that content, but either chose to keep thin content there, or they weren’t aware of the thin content.”

Thin content simply won’t cut it anymore.

You can further see this by the impact on the rankings for Google’s rich snippets.

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Google gave rich snippets a huge update to eliminate content that wasn’t solving user problems.

Google either eliminated or gave a ranking boost to rich snippets depending on the strength and relevancy of their content.

They eliminated thin, weak content, and they gave strong, full content a big boost.

This all tells us one important aspect of the future of content and SEO in 2018:

In-depth content is going to become even more important than it already is.

You’ll need content that touches on multiple topics and subtopics.

In the old days of SEO, the actual content wasn’t as important as you including things like:

  • Your title tag
  • Permalink keywords
  • ALT text for images
  • H1, H2, and H3 tags

But now, quality and authority of content are the most important factors to work on.

Backlinko recently found that content topic authority was hugely important for ranking high on Google:

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The higher the topic authority, the higher the ranking.

Content that focuses on in-depth explanations of every topic and subtopic is going to rank you higher.

Here are a few of the methods that I use to write in-depth content that ranks high on Google without getting penalized.

Write longer posts.

Recently, Orbit Media surveyed over 1,000 bloggers to get insights on the latest trends in blogging and content marketing.

They found that marketers and bloggers alike are putting more and more time into writing their content:

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The majority of content writers are writing from one to four hours to complete a single blog post.

The average time they spent writing in 2016 was just over three hours:

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More importantly, the length of a typical blog post in 2016 was just over one thousand words.

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The length of blog posts has only been increasing over the years.

This is directly in line with Google’s updates that put a heavy focus on strong content.

One of the most impactful pieces of data from the Orbit Media study was the number of bloggers reporting “strong results” from their content.

Here’s what the data found:

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The longer the content length, the better the results.

Bloggers writing content over 2,000 words were finding the strongest results.

Thin content under 1,000 or 500 words reported the worst results.

Backlinko also found data that proves these self-reported “strong results:”

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Content total word count has a direct correlation between the top-ranking spots for a given SERP.

If your content is lengthy, you have a better shot at ranking in the top ten spots.

SEO in 2018 is still all about content, but not just any content.

You have to write longer blog posts in 2018 that cover everything from A to Z.

Here’s one way to do that with ease:

Use LSI keywords to inform your outline.

LSI keywords, otherwise known as latent semantic indexing keywords, are necessary for SEO in 2018.

To give you an example, LSI keywords for a general topic like basketball could be anything from basketball shoes to players to shooting tips.

LSI keywords add context to your content and expand its reach beyond just the original topic.

You can cover multiple subtopics using LSI keywords, which will help give your content the necessary depth that Google is looking for in 2018.

One of my favorite ways to use LSI keywords is to generate content outlines with them.

For example, you can search for LSI keywords using the LSIGraph:

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Enter your topic into the keyword generator to get started.

Let’s say you want to write a long-form, in-depth piece on content marketing.

Type that topic into the search bar:

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Hit “Generate” to produce a large list of LSI keywords:

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You’ll quickly notice that these subtopics within your original content search are closely related.

My favorite tactic that you can implement with ease is simply taking these LSI keywords and using them to structure your outline!

For example, each of these keywords can become a new H2 subhead for your content marketing post.

Let me show you:

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You can quickly structure a content piece using these keywords.

For example:

First subhead: Content marketing examples to follow

Second subhead: Content marketing tips for success

Third subhead: How to create a content marketing plan

CTA at the end of the post: Downloadable content marketing template

Using LSI keywords, I’ve just generated an all-inclusive piece of content that even includes a lead magnet.

Google is looking for this type of “one-stop shop” content that users can access without having to read ten separate blog posts.

Repeat this process for every piece of content you write and use the LSI generator to inform your future content in 2018.

User experience is more important than ever

The user experience is everything when it comes to online content now.

It’s not only about ranking in the search results anymore. Rather, it’s about delivering a full-fledged, content-based experience.

Google’s recent 2017 updates paint a picture for the coming years, and it’s all about UX.

From mobile-focused and ad-based penalties, we can already see this trend coming to life.

Mobile sites that aren’t optimized for the experience of a user are seeing negative consequences.

And that makes sense considering the fact that mobile traffic has outpaced desktop traffic:

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While most people still use multiple platforms, as in desktop and mobile, the growth is steady.

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If you log in to your Google Analytics account and notice that mobile and desktop are both bringing in shares, but you haven’t prioritized mobile, that could be an issue.

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In the latest updates, Google made it clear they would penalize sites that are difficult to use on mobile devices.

Make sure that your mobile site is functioning well by testing it out on Google’s Test My Site tool.

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Not only does this tool give you insights on speed, but it also helps you see if anything is missing or if you can improve upon anything to create a better user experience.

Another big factor in the user experience is ad delivery. Google noted big penalties were coming in for content sites with ads above the fold.

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To combat this, try integrating ads more naturally throughout your content.

But be sure not to focus your content only on those ads.

Only place ads around relevant content if you do. Creating content to fit ads is what Google is fighting back against.

Instead, they want you to add relevant ads to already-established, great content.

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This ensures that you aren’t gaming the system and driving traffic for the sole sake of ad views and revenue.

Google wants a great user experience. Creating thin content that just drives visits to ads won’t fit the bill.

This will only cause your bounce rate to skyrocket (which Google will quickly take notice of). It can also lead to fast changes in your ranking.

Always be sure to optimize for the user experience first and then deliver ads second.

Conclusion

Search engine optimization changes fast.

What once was the norm for SEO no longer applies.

Tactics get outdated fast simply due to the updates that are coming more frequently.

Each year Google implements massive updates that send shockwaves across the growing SEO community.

Some of these updates have serious impacts on rankings and traffic.

And some are a great indication of where the future of SEO is heading.

Google wants to give users the best, most natural experience possible.

But that means bad news for SEOs who’ve gamed the system.

Those who have found the best ways to work around the system legally with great tactics are now taking a hit.

In 2017, Google released an update called “Fred” along with multiple unconfirmed updates.

These updates address everything from ads to affiliate links and sites with thin content.

With this update, we can start to see that the future of SEO will have a focus on all-inclusive, in-depth content.

Ad deception and creating content solely for the purpose of displaying ads won’t cut it anymore.

Content needs to be strong, not thin.

The user experience is steadily becoming one of the most important aspects of Google’s evolution.

To stay afloat with SEO in 2018, make sure that you’re optimizing for the user, not the search engine.

What are your thoughts on SEO and the implications of the 2017 updates for the coming year?

The post What Google’s 2017 Algorithm Updates Can Teach You About SEO in 2018 appeared first on Neil Patel.



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How to Craft a Profitable Conversion Funnel from Scratch


profitable conversion funnel

Get traffic. Build your list. Convert prospects.

Those are the goals of your sales funnel.

But if you’ve never created one before — or maybe you’ve never successfully created one — those seven little words can be extremely intimidating.

Moving from the top step to the bottom isn’t as easy as it sounds. If it were, then I would be out of a job.

Here’s the good news: While it can be difficult to craft a successful sales funnel, it’s not impossible.

It takes work, but it’s something that anyone can do. Yes, I mean anyone.

If you have a website and a business, you can create a sales funnel that converts even if you’re starting from scratch.

Here’s how to do it.

The basics of a successful sales funnel

Before I dive into the specifics of building one, it’s important to define the key components of a funnel and how they should work together to make sales.

A sales funnel is simply a series of steps that you design to guide visitors toward a buying decision.

A very basic sales funnel might look something like this:

Funnel1 1024x805

Funnels can help you do several things:

  • Create awareness for your brand, product, or service.
  • Pique interest in what you have to offer.
  • Evoke a desire for purchase through education.
  • Help leads perform a desirable action.
  • Move leads through the funnel to the final purchase.

In a profitable funnel, this process is repeatable and leads to the highest number of conversions possible (which, keep in mind, won’t be 100%).

Each stage of the funnel involves different strategies for this, however. Here’s a breakdown of what that looks like.

1. Top of the funnel

The top of the funnel is the point where customers (or potential customers) are figuring out that you exist. It’s an exploratory stage.

The goal of this stage is to raise brand awareness, not to make a sale. This isn’t where you make a hard sell.

Exposure, influence, and engagement are the keywords.

Even at this step of the funnel, there is a breakdown in where potential leads might be:

Fig 22 Brand awareness pyramid

They may be totally unaware of your business or product, or they may have heard of you, but they’ve never been to your website.

Or, maybe they have heard of you, but they’ve never thought about buying from you.

Each “place” in the brand-awareness pyramid will require different tactics for marketing (which we’ll get to).

But the goal of the top of the funnel is to make them even more aware that you exist and that, most importantly, you have something that could benefit them.

2. Middle of the funnel

Once there is awareness about your brand, there has to be interest.

“Visitors” need to turn into “leads,” which is the step before “customer.” At this point, visitors are considering whether or not you have something of value to offer.

They’re considering whether they should engage with you or walk away.

middleofthefunnel

But this isn’t a one-way street. This is also the stage where you’re gathering information about them.

Lead magnets, email courses, e-books, case studies, free trials — anything that captures an email address will be a benefit to your funnel.

When leads get to the middle of the funnel, targeting and segmenting become very important, too.

You need to focus your effort on content creation, targeted offers, and follow-up campaigns for specific buyer personas.

You might do most of your work on this step. But if you do it right, it will be the most rewarding.

The goal here is to strengthen the relationship so that they move on to the final stage.

3. Bottom of the funnel

This is the final decision-making stage in your sales funnel.

It’s also a mix of hard and soft selling, depending on the strategies you’ve used at the top and the middle of the funnel as well as the consumer’s buying behavior.

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This is where they will be researching about the benefits of your product, whether or not it will meet their needs, and how easy it is to buy from you.

It can be an emotional stage for the buyer, so it’s important that your messages and sales strategies are equally emotional and targeted to specific needs.

Reminders, retargeting, and motivational offers work the best here. But again, we’ll get to that in a bit.

A healthy sales funnel will move someone from the top to the bottom relatively easily. But to do that, you need a strategy.

Here are the five basic steps to crafting a healthy and profitable sales funnel.

Step 1: Create lead-capturing landing pages

The first place you want to start is the top of your funnel, especially if you’re creating a funnel from scratch.

Remember: the top of the funnel is all about traffic. But to turn that traffic into something useful later on, you need a lead-generating landing page.

A landing page could be your homepage if it looks something like this:

kissmetrics1

Even though this is a homepage, it has a lead-generating element on it (a “Try Kissmetrics” box) that they’ve designed to gather emails.

Ideally, it should be higher converting than a purely informational page.

Another example of a lead-generating landing page might look something like this:

grasshopper1

You notice that the above example from Grasshopper has several lead-generating elements like social proof, a call-to-action (CTA) button, and a list of features and “how to” text.

You can create landing pages for visitors at any stage of the funnel.

A homepage, for example, might hit people right at the top of the funnel. Maybe they know who you are, and maybe they don’t.

The goal of your page would be to provide information and a “test” or demo for the curious onlooker.

On the other hand, a landing page like Grasshopper’s might hit someone in the middle of the funnel. Maybe they want to know more about the product’s specs, for example.

Take a look at HubSpot’s homepage:

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They’ve designed the main text to capture leads at the top of the funnel, while the navigation gives access to pages that would most benefit those in the middle of the funnel who are curious about buying.

If you look at their pricing page, on the other hand, you’ll notice they’ve geared it toward those at the middle or bottom of the funnel:

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It’s clear that the next action step here is more sales-oriented than simply getting to know the product.

The key to a profitable sales funnel is a landing page that converts, so it’s the first thing you should think about building. You will most likely need several landing pages that appeal to buyers from all stages of the cycle.

But once you finish setting up your landing page(s), it’s time to move on to the next step.

Step 2: Drive traffic to your landing pages

You’ve probably heard the age-old adage about a tree falling in the woods, right? Well, the same conundrum is true of the landing page as well.

A great landing page without any traffic won’t make a dent in your sales.

But traffic growth is one of the top challenges to inbound marketing.

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This means you will need specific, proven strategies to drive traffic to your landing pages in order to move a potential customer on to the next stage of the funnel.

So what’s the best model for getting traffic? That depends on your goals, audience, and budget. Here are a few methods to consider:

1. Pay per click (PCC) ads

PPC advertising is an increasingly popular choice among marketers as a way of generating traffic.

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They’ve become popular for many reasons. For one, PPC ads can reach people on a variety of channels and networks.

You can create ads for Facebook or Twitter, for example, or focus on search engine PPC ads to drive organic search traffic.

But PPC ads can also be expensive. For those creating PPC ads on a budget, you have to consider the cost vs. ROI.

You have to ensure that the amount of effort and money you put into the ads will generate enough traffic to move a large number of leads through to the middle of your funnel.

If you aren’t sure how to calculate the ROI of your PPC campaign, then start here.

2. Social media

Social media outreach is another great way to drive traffic at the beginning and middle of your sales funnel.

It’s a great tool because there is a lot of traffic on those channels already. All you have to do is tap into it.

Social Media Statistics WhatsApp 1

It’s also a great tool for driving traffic because of its influential nature.

Even something as simple as answering a customer’s question on social media prompts 48% of consumers to make a purchase or convert in some way.

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This means that it’s relatively easy for you to bring awareness to your brand while also moving someone from the awareness stage into the “tell me more” stage.

3. Content marketing

Social media isn’t the only way (or even the best way) to drive traffic to your site.

Studies show that content marketing — utilizing emails, blog content, case studies, etc. — is as effective, if not more effective, at driving traffic than social media alone.

In fact, 66% of marketers report using blogs and other web content as their primary social media content, too.

While content marketing can hit consumers at any stage of the cycle, it’s the perfect tool for influencing the middle of the funnel particularly.

It helps meet the education and research needs that someone in the middle of the funnel would need to finally convert.

But in order to get that conversion, you have to develop content that captures information.

Step 3: Develop resources that collect email addresses

After you’ve set up your landing pages, PPC ads, and social media accounts, the next step is to create content that captures attention.

It takes a lot of concentrated effort to move someone from the top of the funnel to the middle or from the middle to the bottom.

In short, you need to continue to target them with the content they’re looking for.

If they need more information about the benefits of your product, then you should send them to landing pages, e-books, or other resources that explain why your solution is the most effective solution.

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Creating resources  — also called lead magnets — does two things:

  1. It provides something valuable for the consumer.
  2. It gives you an email address that you can use for further marketing.

It’s easy for someone to download a free checklist or an e-book. And if you can capture that email, you can send them more information that might persuade them to buy.

It’s a soft-sell strategy that works surprisingly well if you do it correctly.

So how do you create a lead magnet that moves someone through the funnel?

1. Create a variety of lead magnets.

Lead magnets should first and foremost be something useful for your target audience. There needs to be a good reason for them to give you their email address.

Here’s an example of a simple checklist lead magnet:

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You can also offer something like a free trial or sign-up:

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Both work, depending on the audience. One will give you an email address, however, while the other will create an account and is, in a way, a mini-sale.

2. Make your lead magnet noticeable.

Your lead magnet should be on your lead-generating landing pages or embedded into your content in a noticeable way.

In some cases, you can create a unique landing page for your magnet and then create PPC ads that link to it.

case study lead magnet

This creates several touchpoints for potential customers while also growing your traffic.

3. Make it easy for people to give their information.

Getting someone onto your email list is a matter of value exchange. You’re giving them something and getting their email in return.

You want this process to be as effortless as possible. And I mean effortless.

Unless they’re signing up for a free trial where they would need to give more information, you should only have a name box, an email box, and a button. That’s it.

Even just giving them an email address box works.

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You don’t need a lot of information about the customer right away even if they’re in the middle of the funnel.

Once you have their email, you can move on to the real sales point: email campaigns.

Step 4: Set up an email marketing campaign

An email campaign is the next logical step in the sales funnel because it builds a relationship with a prospect over time.

This gives them the space they need to make a purchasing decision while also keeping them actively engaged in the process.

In terms of effectiveness, 87% of B2B marketers use email marketing to generate leads, and 31% say email marketing makes the biggest impact on their revenue.

Email campaigns can fill a wide range of purposes. They can introduce a prospect to the product or service you offer:

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They can showcase more about your company:

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And they can recapture the attention of someone who has previously purchased from you:

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The goal is to create a series of emails that continue to remind prospects that you still exist and that you’re ready to do business.

A typical email campaign might look like:

  • Day 1 – A “welcome” email that thanks the prospect for showing an interest in your product or service.
  • Day 2 – An email that offers another relevant lead magnet, typically a freebie like a checklist, e-book or trial.
  • Day 3 – An email that includes a customer testimonial about your product or service.
  • Day 4 – An email that includes more stories or examples of how your product has helped people be successful and how they can use your product or service.
  • Day 5 – A final email that goes for the “hard sell” or next step in the purchase chain.

Marketers design these kinds of emails to move someone through the remainder of the funnel quickly.

This will help close leads that might be on the fence or otherwise uncertain about how or why they should buy from you.

After you’ve engaged them with an email course, the next step is to gauge your success and make any tweaks to refine the process.

Step 5: Track and tweak your sales funnel

Let’s do a quick refresher on the sales funnel steps so far:

  1. Create your landing pages.
  2. Start your traffic-driving initiatives (PPC, social media, etc.).
  3. Create your lead magnets.
  4. Set up an email marketing campaign.

By the time you’ve created an email marketing campaign, you should start seeing some sales.

But it will become critical for you to track each step to make sure there are no holes or leaks in your funnel, particularly in the middle of the funnel.

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If traffic isn’t coming to your site, or that traffic isn’t turning into email addresses, or your sales numbers aren’t rising, there’s something wrong.

Watching your metrics, analytics, and sales numbers will be vital to the process.

For the most part, you should be able to track the success of your sales funnel with specific tools. Consider using things like:

A CRM — A good CRM will allow you to track all new leads, open deals, and see current customers.

Email tracking software —  If you’re using an email service like Drip or MailChimp, you should be able to track leads from your desktop or integrate it with your CRM.

Social media tools  — Tools like Buffer or Hootsuite can help you see your social media lead-generation progress.

Hootsuite Insights, for example, combines your analytics with more advanced social media monitoring so you can see which ads or content are working and what’s bombing.

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Of course, something like Google Analytics works well, too.

At the end of the day, the tools don’t matter as much as the fact that you’re regularly checking your sales funnel for leaks.

This will let you see where you can make improvements that might significantly improve the quality of your leads and, eventually, your conversions.

Conclusion

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, just know that the payout is worth it.

Creating a sales funnels does take a lot of concentrated effort and monitoring to build correctly. But if you take the time to do it, you’ll earn a nice bump in your revenue.

The key to a profitable sales funnel is starting at the top and working your way down.

Focus on creating landing pages that really capture attention and then find ways of driving traffic to those pages.

Lead magnets and email campaigns work great for both, and they’re also great ways to keep customers on the hook once they’ve purchased from you.

If you’ve never created a sales funnel before, don’t worry. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.

Just be sure to watch your metrics and pay attention. Even if you are doing this for the very first time, you’ll start seeing results if you stick with it.

How have you gone about implementing a conversion funnel in your business?

The post How to Craft a Profitable Conversion Funnel from Scratch appeared first on Neil Patel.



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Jump into a Creative and Productive New Year


Happy new year! I hope your holidays were good and that you’ve managed to re-find some semblance of your routine. (Or maybe even some cool new routines.) On Tuesday this week, Stefanie Flaxman gave us seven ideas for how to thrill your boss, editor, or clients with your writing professionalism. And on Wednesday, Brian Clark
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The post Jump into a Creative and Productive New Year appeared first on Copyblogger.



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How to Develop a Customer Persona That Improves Conversion Rates


Customers are the lifeline and driving force of your business.

Without them, you wouldn’t exist.

That’s why you need to spend the time and use various resources to develop a better understanding of your customers’ thinking.

The idea is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes—their minds, really.

You want to figure out their perception of your company.

Creating an accurate customer persona can help you accomplish this.

It will help you learn about their habits, behaviors, and interests.

That way, you’ll be able to market to them accordingly.

Customer personas can help you get more money from your existing customers and even help you acquire new customers.

You’ll be able to keep your customers engaged.

Ultimately, this will improve conversion rates.

If you’ve never created a customer persona before, it can sound a little intimidating.

Don’t worry—it’s not as difficult as you might think.

I’ve created the ultimate guide for developing customer personas that can help you improve your conversion rates in a dramatic way.

Here’s what you need to know.

Customer personas are not the same as a target market

One of the first steps to starting a business involves identifying your target market.

This should be done before you officially launch to make sure people will be interested in your brand, products, or services.

But target markets are not the same thing as your customer personas although they will have some similarities.

Here’s an example of what it takes to identify your target audience:

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This is a logical place to start, especially if you’re a new business.

Even if your company has been operating for quite some time, it doesn’t hurt to go back to the drawing board.

Re-evaluate your target market if you’re struggling with conversions.

You need to have a firm grasp of this topic before you can develop a customer persona.

Demographics are a key component of your target market.

I’m talking about factors like:

  • geographic location
  • age
  • sex
  • religion
  • marital status
  • income

All of these play a role in determining your company’s target audience.

But your customer persona is going to break that down even further.

While your target audience encompasses the elements that show what different groups of people have in common, the customer persona looks for differentiating factors.

What makes each person within a certain demographic unique?

Just because two people of the same gender and same age live in a specific city doesn’t mean they have similar interests.

One may be the perfect customer for your company, while the other would be a waste of time and money to focus your marketing efforts on.

Relate the customer persona to your brand

Ultimately, you want this marketing profile to be related to your company.

For example, if your company sells cars and you don’t have any information that relates to the customer’s driving needs, you’re approaching this the wrong way.

You have to ask yourself,

“Who wants and needs the product I’m selling?”

To illustrate my point, here’s a perfect example of someone who needs to buy an SUV:

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There’s a ton of information on this marketing profile such as the customer’s name, age, and race.

You also learn he has two kids and enjoys playing hockey.

These factors impact his need for an SUV.

Since Kyle has children, he can’t buy a coupe. Plus, safety is important to a family man.

Since SUVs are larger, he might feel safer driving his kids in a full-size vehicle.

The fact that he plays hockey means he needs room in his car for big, heavy, and bulky equipment, so an SUV makes the most sense.

But now I want you to notice the specific information I emphasized in this customer persona.

These points are related directly to what Kyle is looking for when he’s shopping for a vehicle.

You want to make this information as specific as possible.

This is what differentiates one customer from another.

It shows the number of miles he drives to work each day, which is why fuel economy is important to him.

The profile also includes some recreational activities he uses his car for such as family vacations, coaching, and driving his kids to and from their sporting events.

Can you see how this persona can be drastically different from that of another 42-year-old male who lives in the same area but doesn’t use his car for any outdoor activities?

The key here is you always need to relate the persona back to what you’re selling. Otherwise, the information won’t be as helpful.

Start with the basics, and be specific

The first step to developing a persona should be the person’s name and age.

Refer to your target market for this.

Let’s say your brand appeals to men in their early 40s. If he’s 42 years old in 2017, that would mean he was born in 1975.

These are the top 15 baby names from that year in the United States:

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Based on this information, we can refer to this customer persona as Michael.

Next, determine where he lives.

While geographic location such as state, city, or region from your target market is a good start, you want to break this down even further.

Does Michael own property or does he pay rent?

If he’s a homeowner, is he in a condo complex or a single family home?

Does he rent an apartment or a house?

What are his monthly mortgage or rent payments?

Notice that we started with some broad facts but slowly came to more specific information.

That’s how you need to approach this.

From here, you can begin to come up with more information about Michael’s personality based on his living situation.

For example, you could say he owns his house because he’s raising a family and doesn’t plan on going anywhere.

Alternatively, you could write that Michael pays rent because he’s single and doesn’t want to commit to one area for long periods of time.

Just make sure you’re relating this persona back to your brand.

Let’s say your brand sells expensive furniture. You wouldn’t be marketing to a renter who moves to a new city every year or so.

You’d focus on the man who owns his home and plans to live there for the next 30 years.

Include information about their career and income

Assuming your customer has a full-time job, their career is an important part of who they are.

They’re spending at least 40 hours a week at this job, so it’s a huge part of their life.

Think about how much of your schedule revolves around your profession. I’m willing to bet it factors into many of your decisions.

Here’s another example that includes this information:

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Look at how much detailed information about his career this customer persona has.

They even related his top objectives and biggest fears to his job.

All of this is important for creating an accurate marketing profile.

Furthermore, while a person’s job may impact their happiness, schedule, and mindset, it also is directly related to their spending habits.

That’s essential to your goal of improving your conversion rates.

The more money someone makes, the more money they spend.

Take a look at the differences in average annual spending for high- and low-income homes:

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Higher income homes spend more money annually in every category on this list.

In some instances, the differences in the amounts are drastic.

When you’re developing a customer persona, make sure the hypothetical person you’re creating can afford your product.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say they make $45,000 per year after taxes.

They spend $14,000 annually on housing and $7,000 on transportation.

The essentials, such as their insurance and food, cost $12,000 in total.

This leaves them with an extra $1,000 per month of disposable income to spend on everything else.

Can they really afford the $450 pair of headphones your company is selling?

Probably not.

In this case, you’ll need to develop a customer persona with a higher paying job.

Find out how their interests and behaviors impact their consumption habits

This part is going to help you reach your customers when it comes to your marketing efforts, which we’ll discuss shortly.

For example, what do they use to determine the credibility of a company?

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Refer back to the first customer persona we analyzed earlier: Kyle, the prospective SUV buyer.

He actively uses social media but doesn’t post anything.

Instead, he uses it as a research tool to read reviews.

You’ll also want to include information about their hobbies, likes, and dislikes.

What is this person good at?

Are there certain things they can’t do?

For example, depending on your industry, it might be valuable to know whether or not this person can cook or whether they tend to eat out.

If they eat out, you can also assume they don’t have as much of a disposable income since they are spending more money on food even if they have a higher salary.

How does this person buy their products?

Are they an impulse buyer? Or do they take time to research their options and compare different brands?

Use this information to improve your marketing content.

Apply your customer personas to your marketing strategies

Now that you’ve developed an accurate and detailed customer persona, it’s time for you to use it to improve your conversion rates.

Let’s say you are getting plenty of traffic to a particular landing page, but not many visitors follow through with your call-to-action.

You may want to re-evaluate the source of that landing page and the message that entices customers to convert based on the persona.

For example, your customer persona may be a 20-year-old female who goes to college in New York City and has a part-time job paying $20,000 per year.

Based on this persona, it’s safe to say she has an active Facebook profile.

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You should be trying to improve your marketing efforts so that she gets brought to your landing page through some kind of Facebook campaign.

Now let’s get to her buying behavior, which we just discussed.

If she’s an impulse buyer, you can use scarcity tactics to get her to make a purchase:

  • Sale ends tomorrow
  • Only three tickets left at this price
  • Sign up before midnight and get 25% off your first purchase

Marketing campaigns like this can get her to buy something.

Conclusion

Customer personas are not the same as a target market—although you need to have a clear target audience to help you come up with an accurate persona.

The persona will include much more detail about your customer.

That’s because two people with similar demographics aren’t necessarily going to shop the same way. You want to focus your efforts on the ones who fit your persona.

Your customer persona needs to be relevant to your brand and whatever you’re selling.

Start with basic information like their name and age.

Then get more specific with their job, income, location, and living situation.

Find out how their interests, hobbies, lifestyle, and personal life impact their buying behavior.

Use this information to improve your current marketing campaigns.

Now you can target people based on specific factors to improve your conversion rates.

Don’t stop after your first customer persona.

Make as many as possible so you can come up with different ways to appeal to specific types of customers.

What information will you include in your customer personas to increase conversions on your website?





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