Thursday, December 31, 2015

Announcing: Copyblogger.FM

Introducing Copyblogger.FM

AKA the Episode Where Sonia Seizes All the Power …

If you’re reading this on New Year’s Eve, you’re probably a diehard. (Which we love, by the way.)

You might have been reading and listening to Copyblogger content for a long time now. And you may well know our original podcast, The Lede.

It started life as Internet Marketing for Smart People (audio edition) with Robert Bruce and Brian Clark, then over time morphed into The Lede, most recently hosted by Jerod Morris and Demian Farnworth.

In 2016, the show is transforming once again, and The Lede becomes Copyblogger.FM.

And I (ahem) kicked all those jokers off the platform and am taking over.

Last time I saw Farnworth, he was demolishing his console with his lightsaber, but I’m sure he’ll get past it. We’re here for you, bro.

Announcing: Copyblogger.FM

What’s the new show about?

Copyblogger.FM is about content marketing, first and foremost. We’ll be covering:

  • Emerging trends
  • Interesting disasters
  • Enduring best practices
  • Worthwhile news
  • Practical strategies and tactics

We’ll also let you peek behind the scenes at the content strategies for the Copyblogger blog and Rainmaker Digital as a company, so you can learn from our experiments and observations.

And I may go on a rant once in a while.

If you’re already subscribed to The Lede, Copyblogger.FM will use the same feed, so you can just keep listening to the new incarnation without doing anything special.

If you’d like to try it out, you can find us here: Copyblogger.FM.

Serious thanks to our great team

Kidding aside, I want to thank Jerod and Demian (and Robert and Brian) for all of the hard work and insights they’ve delivered over the years. They’ve created something valuable, and I promise I will work hard to keep building on what they’ve created.

They will, of course, be showing up on the new version of the show with their wisdom and occasional shenanigans. We’ll also see lots of Pamela Wilson, our EVP of Educational Content, who will be sharing behind-the-scenes news about Copyblogger.

The team and I are greatly looking forward to seeing you there!


The Cornerstone Content Challenge

Have you signed up yet for our January Content Challenge?

We’re going to be walking folks just like you through a powerhouse strategy to make your site more authoritative, more attractive to your audience, and just plain more awesome. We’ve got tutorials, a free webinar, and even a pop-up forum to help you get it done. And it’s all free.

Join us for the Copyblogger Content Challenge.

Footnote: By the way, yes, I’ll still be producing my own show, Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, which is focused more on who we are as individuals and how that plays out in our work and business lives.

That one is around 80 percent rant and 20 percent strategy; on Copyblogger.FM, we plan to reverse that ratio.

About the author

Sonia Simone


Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Rainmaker Digital. Get lots more from Sonia on her podcast, Confessions of a Pink-Haired Marketer, or come hang out with her on Twitter.

The post Announcing: Copyblogger.FM appeared first on Copyblogger.

Oscar de la Renta's VP of Global Communications Shares Her View On Fashion's Fast Changing Landscape

After leaving the fashion industry and returning after 6 years, Edith Taichman, Oscar de la Renta's newly appointed VP of Global Communications, shares her thoughts on fashion's changing landscape.

Our Solar Energy Future

The transport sector of the US business community have helped make this country the strong nation is. Progress has been made in many areas that will strengthen our future of solar energy and improve our position in the world, even more than it is now. The good news comes from the reduction of petroleum use and emissions of greenhouse gases in the transport. This comes from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory and confirmed by the Ministry of Energy and its previous assessments. Transport is responsible for over seventy percent of our oil consumption thus reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, accounting for more than thirty percent of this number is very beneficial to our national well-being power.

Solar electric cars are increasing. However, prices will fall further to average consumers can find cars more affordable. Like many of the technology, there will be less expensive ways for manufacturers to produce them. The positive effect on air quality will be. Our future solar energy will become stronger as the benefits are seen by all citizens. The will of the people is behind it, because the results will be positive on the economic cost of gas and the continuous increase.

Progress not only in the US but around the world about our future of solar energy continues on many levels. Many universities are investigating solar cells that develop increasingly effective in terms of the amount of sun energy will turn into practice. Although the use of decreases fossil fuel, the need throughout the developing world to cheap energy is increasing. Once solar energy becomes cheaper to use, there will be more interest worldwide in its use for domestic and industrial use. Germany is an excellent example of what the enormous changes that have taken place in connection with the switch of the nation in solar energy. Our future solar energy will also grow if the same initiatives that Germany has used can be used in the US also. Germany provides financial incentives in the form of payments for his people to make the transition to solar energy in their homes and businesses.

Our future solar energy will have a major effect on our economy with increased employment in relation to many sectors of the labor market. As this industry grows, jobs will be added in the manufacture, marketing, construction, and research and development to the list of job opportunities.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

7 Psychological Principles to Get More Engagement on Social Media

the mind

Just about every great marketer I’ve met had at least a bit of interest in psychology.

It’s important to be curious about the ways people think because that’s the only way you can make whatever you’re marketing to someone desirable.

You can apply lessons from psychology to every part of your marketing work.

But we can’t look at it all at once.

Instead, I’d like to focus on how understanding psychological principles of human behavior can benefit you in one area: social media marketing.

In this post, I’m going to teach you 7 different psychological principles and then show you how you can use them in your social media marketing.

However, since social media and content marketing are so intertwined, aspects of some of these principles will spill over to platforms other than social media too.

That being said, let’s start with the first principle. 

1. Children always ask this one question, but adults think it too…

If a kid asks a question, they’re almost never satisfied with a shallow answer.

Consequently, the most asked question by the vast majority of children is:

“Why?”

Why do things work the way they do?

People are naturally dissatisfied with answers if they don’t understand them.

Think of the last time you watched a political debate. How frustrating is it when most candidates don’t give a straight answer to a question?

After they dance around yet another answer, all you want to do is scream at the screen “WHY?”

Eventually, though, most people realize that there are some questions that you just won’t get a satisfying answer to. This is the point where adults give up on asking “why?” even if it leaves them a bit frustrated.

But all is not lost!

That’s because you can provide answers…at least when it comes to your audience on social media.

Answering questions your readers have in full clear detail is one of the best ways to get loyal followers on social media.

Here’s an example:

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Stone Temple Consulting knows that many members of their audience wonder why SEO has to be so complex (it certainly seems that way to beginners).

So, they used that opportunity to explain why, using the question as the headline for the social media post.

Imagine it from one of their followers’ point of view.

  • They had a question about why something (SEO) is the way it is
  • They clicked the social media post to find the answer
  • They found a good answer and felt satisfied

That last part is really important because it reinforces the behavior. Over time, they learn that good things happen when they interact with posts from this particular company.

And there’s no reason why it can’t be your business instead.

All it takes is two simple steps, and I’ll show you how to do them.

Step #1 – Find questions your readers want answers to: Remember that your goal is to answer questions that most of your followers have. That’s how you get them to take action (like click through to your website) and give them a good experience.

There are many places where you can find these questions: on social media, forums, groups, etc.

But I strongly recommend starting with question and answer sites because they are obviously filled with questions. You don’t need to waste time filtering out other content.

The big question and answer sites are Yahoo Answers and Quora.

Personally, I’m a bigger fan of Quora, and I even post answers there myself. I think the quality of the site is much higher than that of Yahoo Answers’.

The simplest way to find a long list of questions you can answer is to just type in your niche in the search bar.

What you’re looking for is some sort of “Topic: (your niche),” which is basically a category that collects all questions related to your niche.

As you can see below, it should come up as one of the main search suggestions in most cases:

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Click the topic, and Quora will load a feed for you, which will have thousands of questions in it (for most topics). Just keep scrolling when you reach the bottom, and it will load more.

These questions are not organized by date, but rather by relevance and interest.

You can see the number of “upvotes” on each question, which is a good measure of the number of people in the community who are interested in the answer.

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You literally have hundreds of great questions at your fingertips. You could answer one a day if you wanted to.

Step #2 – Find the best way to answer them: Now that you have the questions, it’s time to provide answers.

But remember, you’re providing your own answers on social media (or your website), not on Quora.

Your audience on social media is completely separate from the Quora audience, which means that most of your audience still needs an answer to these questions.

This also means that you can read through the answers on Quora if you need help or guidance to answer the question. However, you should, of course, answer the question in your own words and share your own experiences when possible.

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After you have an answer, there are 3 things you need to decide on.

First, how long does the answer need to be? If it’s really short, you might be able to answer it all in your social media post (depending on the platform).

If it’s on the long side, a blog post is going to be a better choice, and you can just link to the full answer in your social media post.

Second, you need to decide what format is best for the answer.

Some questions are best answered as regular blog posts, while others are better answered as infographics or videos.

My general rule is that if your audience needs to see the answer in action (like how to assemble a shelf), videos are the best.

If they need to see many parts of the answer at the same time (like the steps to baking a cake), an infographic is the best.

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Often, there might be more than one type of content that makes sense. Feel free to make more than one to give your audience more choice.

Finally, the third thing you need to decide is how you will actually present the question and answer on social media.

I suggest keeping this as simple as possible.

Copy the question just as you found it on Quora in the words that your audience used.

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Then, if you have the space, provide a little teaser that describes your answer and adds a bit of curiosity.

2. Use the endowment effect to get raving fans

Would you trade your current car for one that’s worth a few thousand more?

Even though that’s a great trade from a financial point of view, most people wouldn’t.

And it’s because of the endowment effect. We get attached to the things we own and subsequently put more value on them.

There’s a great study that clarifies this effect. Here’s what the researchers did:

They gave some study participants a mug. Then, they asked those subjects if they would be willing to trade their original item for an equally valued pen or sell it to one of the other participants.

And the results were fascinating.

If the endowment effect didn’t exist, the people who were originally given the mug would have said that they would sell it for roughly the same amount that people were willing to pay for it.

However, none of the subjects given a mug traded it for the pen even though it was worth the same amount.

In addition, when they named the price that they’d be willing to sell it for, it was twice as high as what the other subjects were willing to pay for it.

In practical terms, the subjects of the experiment got attached to the mug once they owned it.

And you can use the endowment effect in many areas of your business, including social media.

Applying the endowment effect to your business: The most obvious place to use the endowment effect in your business is to give your customers a sample before asking them to buy. You see this all the time in stores.

For example, Buffer has a full 30-day free trial, and not even a credit card is required:

image12

As those new signups become invested in the platform, they’ll put a high value on having their own account.

When the 30 days are up, most of them will value the account high enough that the $10, or whatever Buffer is asking for, will seem minuscule.

However, if they were asked for the money upfront, most people would hesitate when considering the cost.

This is probably the hardest principle to apply directly to social media.

The best way to implement it, from what I’ve seen, is to link to content, but not the full version of it.

For example, Bryan Dean posted a link to his skyscraper technique case study on Facebook:

image06

The post contains a ton of value, and readers get attached to having the technique in their arsenal.

However, even after reading the case study, some readers could use a bit more help, like a checklist of the steps. Bryan offers this as a content upgrade:

image14

Readers need to give their email addresses in order to get access to the checklist.

Since they already know that the first part of the content was great, they’ll want the last part as well and will be more than happy to put in their email addresses.

3. A simple principle behind most engagement: reciprocity

Society only functions because we all adhere to some basic rules.

One of these rules, or “norms,” is the rule of reciprocity.

This was one of the 6 factors of influence that Cialdini found in his decades of research.

I can say with certainty that you’ve been enacting this norm many times in your life. It is seen in all cultures, regardless of the language, location, religion, etc.

Here is what the norm entails:

When someone is given something by someone else, they will try to return the favor.

Typically, the favor will be about the same size as the initial gift. If you lend someone money for ice cream, they will be inclined to lend you money for something like a drink later on.

Conversely, if you fly across the country to help someone in a time of crisis, they will basically do anything for you if you ask them.

This principle has been studied many times and proven to be true.

Back in 2002, researchers studied whether waiters could make more money through tips if they took advantage of this principle.

So, the waiters in one experimental group were told to give their diners an after-dinner mint. Tips went up 3%.

Not bad.

Then, another group was told to pause before giving them the mints, look at the customer, and tell them the mint was specifically for them. Tips went up 20%.

Woah. What just happened?

There are a few things to note. First, you don’t have to ask for a favor in return. The diners, in all cases, tipped extra without being asked.

The second thing is that it was important to make sure that the diners knew that the waiter was doing something nice for them. If they thought after-dinner mints were standard and expected, there isn’t much for them to have to give back for.

So, when you do something nice for someone, make sure they know that you put some thought and effort into it.

Think of your blog posts. You put tons of effort into them just to give them away, and then people spend 10 seconds skimming through one and moving on to the next one. I spend 5-10 hours on each post, and I still get people complaining about the content I’m giving away.

It’s nuts! Of course, only some readers don’t understand the effort that goes into creating content, but that’s why it’s important to try to make them aware of it.

Once they are aware of it, the reciprocity principle kicks into effect, and they return the favor by giving you more of their attention.

How to put the reciprocity principle to good use: Like most of these principles, you can use reciprocity in many areas of your business.

The main way you can use this principle on social media is to help you connect with influencers. You can share their posts on social media and also let them know that you’ve mentioned them in one of your own posts:

image05

When you feature someone in a post, you do them a favor.

Following the reciprocity principle, this means they are more likely to do something for you in return.

The important thing to keep in mind is that a share or a mention is worth different amounts to different people.

If someone mentions me in an article they wrote, it’s nice (and flattering), but it’s unlikely to have any significant impact on my business.

For the medium sized blogger who gets fewer than 50 shares on all their posts, it’s a much bigger deal.

What this means for you is that you’ll need to share several posts by a popular influencer to build up any significant good will. Then, they will likely repay that by either sharing something you created or taking the time to open and read an email you send them.

Of course, you also need to create your own great content, or there’s no way they can return the favor.

4. Ask for a favor to capitalize on the Ben Franklin effect

What if I gave you some money?

Then, what if I asked you to give it back?

It’s normal to assume that you’d be pretty neutral about me and the whole thing. But in fact, that’s not true.

To study this effect, researchers Jim Jecker and David Landy split subjects into three different groups. They gave everyone some money upfront. But then they asked the people in each group different things:

  1. In the first group, they asked the subjects if they’d give the money back to the scientist who initially gave it to them
  2. In the second group, they asked the subjects if they’d give it back (not to the scientist in particular)
  3. In the third group, they didn’t ask for it back.

Then, the researchers gave participants a quick questionnaire to fill out. The most important part of this questionnaire was the part where they were asked to score how much they liked the scientist (who gave them the money).

Surprisingly, the group who got to keep the money gave the scientist the lowest likability score. The guy gives them free money, and they still don’t like him!

Conversely, the group that was asked to give the money back to the scientist (most of them did), gave the scientist the highest likability score.

Introducing the Ben Franklin effect.

The Ben Franklin effect explains how people justify their actions.

In the case of this experiment, the people who simply received the money rationalized that they deserved it.

The group that actually gave the money back to the scientist did a favor for him. They rationalized this by thinking that the only way they’d do this is if they liked him.

In short: Doing a favor for someone else will make you like them more. You feel that you must like them if you did something for them and got nothing in return.

Whom should you ask for favors? You can certainly ask other influencers to share your posts and content. If they do it out of kindness (or because your post is amazing), they’ll instantly like you more. This can lead to a mutually beneficial relationship where you both share each other’s content.

But the more interesting application to me is to ask your followers for favors.

Don’t be afraid to ask readers to help you by contributing stories, commenting, or sharing your content.

No, not all of them will, but the ones who do will think of you more favorably each time they do it. You will see that readers who were hesitant to do you a small favor at first are willing to do huge favors for you after a while.

Here’s an example of Marie Forleo asking her followers to contribute silly stories for a piece of content she was working on.

image03

She does things from time to time, and her followers love to help out (notice the 150 likes). There were several comments on this post with stories that she could use.

One final note: Remember the reciprocity rule. If your follower does you a favor, that’s great. However, you probably want to give them something back. Most commonly, just a public thank you or a mention in a post is a great gesture.

The key is not to offer the reward in the first place. If you do, your readers will rationalize that they only helped you out to get it, not because they like you. Keep the reward as a surprise for after.

5. Reposting content lends well to the “mere exposure theory”

The more you are exposed to something, the more you like it.

At least that’s what the mere exposure theory describes.

We don’t fully understand why or how it works, but studies have shown that this is true in most cases.

For example, in his study, Robert Zajonc showed Chinese characters to subjects who could not read or speak Chinese.

The fun part is that he showed some characters more than others, anywhere from one time to 25 times.

The results were clear: the more someone was exposed to a certain character, the more of a positive meaning they gave it.

This is probably partially why most people like themselves so much. After all, you’re stuck with yourself 24 hours a day.

The mere exposure theory and social media: There are two ways in which you can apply this theory to your marketing on social media to make it more effective.

Most importantly, post on a regular basis. I post at least once a day on almost all of my social media accounts:

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Post as often as you can without being annoying to your followers. The more you can expose your brand and content to a follower, the better.

The second way you can use this theory is to share things multiple times.

This calendar by Buffer shows that they share a single post several times after they publish it.

image15

This will expose your followers to your content more often, adding to the effect.

Have you ever felt unsure whether you liked a movie after watching it for the first time? And after watching it again you absolutely loved it?

It happens all the time.

And not just with movies but with content as well.

Sometimes, a reader doesn’t love your content for a variety of reasons at first, but as they come back to it over time, they like it more and more.

6. Social proof and social networking should go hand in hand

Social proof has been proven to improve conversion rates in a wide variety of situations.

We’re typically talking about sales when it comes to social proof, but it can apply to social media marketing as well.

There are many types of social proof, but we’re interested in one in particular—user social proof:

User social proof consists of approval/positivity from current users of something.

On e-commerce sites such as Amazon, this means reviews and ratings. On other sites, this might mean case studies.

image16

The effect is as expected.

The more positive social proof a product has, the better it looks to potential customers.

We relate to other users and expect to have a similar experience with the product or service we are considering that they had.

How social proof affects your social media marketing: Social proof is the sole reason why pages buy fake followers. They know that if real users see that they have thousands of followers, they will be more likely to follow them as well.

I don’t recommend doing that for a number of reasons.

However, it illustrates that social media users look at what other users are doing.

If tons of people like or share a post, they are much more likely to do it themselves. You can see this all the time in action when a post is trending (“going viral”).

The practical takeaway is that when you publish a post on social media, do whatever you can to get those first few “likes” or shares.

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It may take messaging some friends or emailing your biggest fans or your peers. But get that initial traction as soon as possible, and the rest of your followers will be more likely to engage with your posts.

If you have employees, ask them to engage with every post as it’s published, at least until you build a larger following.

7. Long term engagement can be secured using the “propinquity effect”

The final principle explains how people become friends.

As you might have guessed, propinquity is related to “proximity.”

And what the effect states is that the closer you are to someone, the more likely you are to like them. For example, tenants who live on the same floor will typically have closer friendships with each other than with the tenants who live on a different floor.

You might have also noticed that the propinquity effect is related to the mere exposure effect, which we looked at earlier. The more you see someone, the more likely you are to feel positively about them.

However, there’s one other factor to the propinquity effect: similarity.

The more similarities you share and the closer you are, the faster and more you will like someone.

Propinquity and social media explained: To continue with the experiment, you want to live as close to your followers as possible. This extends past social media to all other channels of communication with your audience.

Ideally, send them emails on a regular basis. On Quick Sprout alone, I send 3 emails a week to subscribers. If readers want more and also subscribe to the NeilPatel.com blog, they get another 3-4.

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It allows me to be in their lives on a regular basis.

But the same applies to social media as well. I post multiple times a day on Twitter and usually Facebook too.

Example post 1:

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Example post 2:

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The idea is that the more readers see me, the more they will like me.

Did you notice that I left out one detail? If so, that’s a very good catch.

For the propinquity effect to be as effective as possible, those posts and emails also need to be about something that we have in common.

But this is pretty simple for businesses. As long as you are talking about content, events, or products in your niche that your audience likes, you immediately have that required level of relevance.

Then, you just need the frequency to take effect, and you’ll be set.

Conclusion

Psychology and marketing go hand in hand. If you can understand how your target audience thinks, you can figure out the best ways to engage them and the best ways to present your content and products.

I think it’s important to understand how psychology affects every aspect of your marketing, and that’s why I focused on one—social media—in this post.

I’ve shown you seven psychological principles that you can use to improve your marketing in general. However, I’ve also shown you specific ways in which you can apply them to your social media marketing for instant improvement.

Ideally, spend 20-30 minutes going through each principle and thinking about how it applies to your specific business, audience, and marketing plan.

If you have any questions while you do this (I expect you will), I’ll be glad to help. Just leave me a comment below with your questions or comments.

The Benefits of Switching to Solar Power

As our lives become increasingly dependent on electricity to keep our needs, it seems that we must be careful how we get a profitable renewable. While other forms of “green energy” are only practical on a commercial level, solar panels are easy to install-power for residential consumers. Sunlight is a natural source of clean energy that is abundant worldwide so there is little reason not to enjoy. Simply switching to solar panels for 25 percent of its electricity, emissions overall average consumers will be reduced by more than 1.5 tons, helping to conserve energy for future generations, while saving thousands of dollar homes in the long term.

While this may seem like an expensive investment installation of solar energy systems, the average life of the solar system is more than 25 years, during which you are less dependent on a grid. In fact, if installed optimally in the right conditions, the solar panels are able to create the surplus electricity to sell to electric companies.

At the first change solar panels, many consumers decide to buy 1-3kw system, which accounts for about 25-40 percent of its current energy consumption. While this may not seem like much, the amount of electricity generated even a panel can lead to annual savings in electricity bills. In a few years, solar power has completely paid for itself and has 20 years to reduce energy costs for consumers.

A common concern about solar energy is that the cloudy regions receive good sun and force the end user to use only electricity from the grid of the utility company. Although there is a reduction in the amount of electricity produced during cloudy days, the panels installed optimally will collect enough energy to be a worthwhile investment. If the solar system is not able to gather enough electricity to power your home, the houses are without electricity. As a precaution all solar panels will be able to store excess electricity to use the reserve and are able to draw from the grid, utilities connected to ensure that a home is never without electricity. Another common concern is that residents with flat roofs may not get adequate sunlight, but the use of systems modern panel mounting for maximum power, regardless of how the tilt sunroof.

Although the transition to renewable energy appears to be a dangerous investment for the development of modern solar technologies they are both the environment and a great way to save money, even for residential users. The long-term savings from the solar panel to move not only help to maintain a healthy environment for future generations, but also economically benefit the end user.

Why Content Marketers Need Editors

how an editor helps your content shine

I’m good at math.

If you looked at my standardized test results from when I was back in school, you’d see I scored very high in math and very low in verbal.

And yet, today I’m a professional writer and editor.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Sort of. Your content needs to quickly communicate what your audience wants and needs, so my natural abilities are actually the perfect fit for content marketing.

You probably possess some of these editing skills too, so let’s examine how you can use them to become a discerning content marketer.

Turning a “weakness” into a strength

Most of my English tests in high school weren’t adorned with those coveted “A” grades because timed exams to test reading comprehension didn’t fit my reading style.

I read text passages slowly, studied each word carefully, and analyzed how the writer could have presented his or her message more clearly.

It’s no surprise I’d run out of time before I finished every question. (It’s okay, 16-year-old Stefanie. The future looks bright for you.)

My poor test scores could have convinced me that the English language and reading comprehension were my weaknesses, but instead, I turned my way of reading into a career.

We’re in The Editor Age

The title of this interview on Contently’s The Content Strategist says it all: ‘You Need Editors, Not Brand Managers’: Marketing Legend Seth Godin on the Future of Branded Content.

When asked how he’d build a brand media property, Godin replied that brands often opt for playing it safe rather than thinking, “How can we be more interesting?”

Then, Godin concluded:

That’s not what happens when you want to make a hit TV show or a website that people care about. You need editors, not brand managers, who will push the envelope to make the thing go forward.

Editors produce enjoyable content

“Enjoyable content” sounds a bit weak, doesn’t it? It’s less serious than “effective content” or “content that produces business results.”

But enjoyable content is a prerequisite if you want your content to be effective.

Editors produce the right content experiences with refined messages that help meet your business goals. This meaningful content gives your ideal prospect an enjoyable experience that produces results.

For example, I enjoy painting, but I don’t always have time to paint on canvas, so I frequently paint my nails. It’s relatively quick, and I get to display my work every day for as long as the manicure lasts.

Essie is my favorite nail polish brand and the company’s YouTube channel has a collection of nail art tutorials. To communicate a persuasive message, each concise video required a focused vision and intentional refining.

Here’s a tutorial that has more than one-million views:

Every aspect of the video also forms a seamless call to action — the instructive lesson makes you want to buy the products used in the tutorial so you can try the look yourself.

That is enjoyable content for a nail polish lover. I watched a number of Essie tutorials while researching this article and now have a long list of new colors I’m going to buy. 
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Renault Booked $170 Million Loss On F1 Team

French auto giant Renault booked a $169.1 million loss on the sale of its championship-winning Formula One team in 2009 according to company documents which have come to light as a result of the motor manufacturer buying the outfit back.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Solar Panels A Safe Investment Option

Green energy sources are more sustainable energy production resources. These renewable energy sources can be used several times and do not cause environmental pollution. These are not very expensive. On the other hand, non-renewable energy sources can not be renewed. At the current rate of consumption, the future generation will be under the threat of energy. While green energy sources such as solar energy should be used to meet energy demands.

One of the main dangers of using fossil fuels such as coal oil and natural gas is dramatically affects nature. Carbon emissions through the use of fossil fuels causes global warming and many other health risks. Vehicles and households contribute to global warming. Over the years, people have realized the harmful effects of using them and they are slowly changing to other energy sources that are friendly to the environment. Other sources, solar energy is becoming increasingly popular because it has many positive factors. The sun’s energy is used to generate power here. Solar panels are used to exploit the sunlight, which is converted into other forms. This is also the best method to get rid of electricity bills as the power to homes and commercial organizations can be recovered by the solar panels. People slowly recognize the many benefits of using this technology and make investments in solar panels to produce energy.

Usually, a lot of energy for heating and cooling in the summer and winter use. The use of solar panels for heating, a lot of power and money can be saved. The use of this alternative energy, you help the environment welfares. Green energy sources can also be used for lighting and running appliances. The only drawback is that solar panels can not be used when sufficient sunlight is not available. However, if the sunlight received during the day can be stored in solar cells and can be used at night to power generation. Most people have a misconception that these panels are very expensive and difficult to install. Installing solar panels is not a difficult task if the right help is requested. In addition, the installation cost is not very high in relation to future prospects. Considering all these factors, the investment in solar panels is a good investment to make.

Get the All-Theme Pack Now Before It Becomes Recurring (Plus: $150 Off Instantly)

lock in the pro plus all-theme pack today (and save big)

A change is coming to our biggest and best-selling product.

The StudioPress Pro Plus Pack — which gives you immediate, on-demand access to every active theme in the StudioPress library — is about to add a recurring component.

Note that I said about to add. Nothing is changing immediately.

But the change is coming soon (likely at the end of January 2016), which is why we’re letting you know about a special offer happening this week only.

We want you to have every opportunity to lock in the current Pro Plus offer.

Here’s the offer …

For a single investment in Pro Plus today, you get unlimited access to:

  • All current StudioPress themes (there are more than 40 as of today)

  • All future StudioPress themes (several are already in development)

  • All design, security, and functionality updates

  • All current and future third-party themes we add to Pro Plus (there are five currently)


  • Support for all themes
 (we support StudioPress themes, while the third-party developers support their themes)


You get all of this for the lifetime of your account. You never make another payment.

Until this special offer ends on Thursday, December 31, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time — you get $150 off as well.

It’s the largest discount we’ve ever given for Pro Plus.

That’s more than 30 percent off of a deal that already saved you more than $1,000 compared to purchasing everything separately.

Click here to learn more about Pro Plus
(and get $150 off)

And Pro Plus keeps getting more valuable as more themes get added.

What will the recurring element look like?

It will be pretty simple.

Right now, you make one payment and receive everything as long as you maintain your StudioPress account (so, basically, as long as you want it).

Once the recurring component is added, new Pro Plus customers will make one payment to activate their accounts and then make smaller annual payments to maintain access.

Obviously, recurring customers will get to keep any themes they have downloaded and are using, but they will need to make the recurring payment each year to maintain their access to:

  • All existing themes
  • All future themes

  • All updates

  • Support


Again: this change is not happening now. It’s happening at the end of January 2016.

But we wanted to give you a heads up way in advance in case you want to lock in a Pro Plus account before the recurring component comes.

Plus get $150 off when you do. 
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World Class Rider Does Not Insure Allowable Tax Losses In Horse Case

One of the joys of reading Tax Court decisions is the Monday morning quarterbacking aspect. I can't fault the advice that Michael and Sally Judah followed that led them to a Tax Court battle with the IRS about losses from their horse activities, but with the benefit of hindsight, I can dream up other approaches, that might have worked - or not.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Zappos And Holacracy: Why They Did It, What They Learned, And What's Next

Today my guest for The Future of Work Podcast is Alexis Gonzales-Black. Alexis is the former organizational design lead for Zappos, and is currently the co-founder of Thoughtful Org Partners. Previously, I spoke with Brian J. Robertson, the creator of the concept of Holacracy which received lots of media attention thanks to Zappos and their decision to transition to this new organizational model. Alexis is one of the people who helped lead the entire Holacracy transition there.

Join the Copyblogger Team for Our First Content Challenge

Challenge begins January 4, 2016 - build your website's content marketing cornerstone

Starting a week from today, the Copyblogger team is doing something we’ve never done before … and we want you to join us.

We’re hosting our first three-week Copyblogger Content Challenge. These brand-new challenges are designed to give you in-depth education around key content marketing topics.

The goal of our challenges is simple:

We help you master each topic — and you put that information directly to use to grow your business.

Challenge #1: Create your cornerstone content

For the January 2016 challenge, we’re teaching you how to create powerful, audience-building cornerstone content for your website.

The three recent articles below will help you understand what cornerstone content is and why it’s important to have it in place on your site.

How much does this in-depth cornerstone content education cost? Nothing. :-)

Join us for the Copyblogger Content Challenge

Why is cornerstone content important?

Website owners use cornerstone content to answer the most important questions their newest prospects have.

Cornerstone content pages are informative, instructive, and they help your prospects understand the crucial information they need to interact with your business.

Once you have your cornerstone content in place on your website, you’ll begin benefitting from better search engine rankings for the terms you target. And cornerstone content builds your authority, too.

Here’s what you get when you join us for the Copyblogger Content Challenge:

  • In-depth instruction on planning, writing, and creating cornerstone content pages
  • Support and encouragement from the Copyblogger team: Sonia Simone, Pamela Wilson, Stefanie Flaxman, and Demian Farnworth
  • Community support from your fellow challenge members in our temporary “pop-up” forum
  • A live educational webinar about cornerstone content — exclusive to our challenge participants

As we mentioned above, there’s absolutely no cost to join us for this challenge. We only ask that you commit to devoting a little time each day to working through the materials.

Our promise is to keep things fun and easy, so you make fast progress and enjoy the process.

We’d love to help you set up your cornerstone content and sail into 2016 with a powerful, content-driven website!

Join us for the Copyblogger Content Challenge

Remember, there’s no charge. Register to get started! We’re looking forward to having you in January’s Copyblogger Content Challenge.

About the author

Pamela Wilson


Pamela Wilson is Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital. Follow her on Twitter, and find more from her at BigBrandSystem.com.

The post Join the Copyblogger Team for Our First Content Challenge appeared first on Copyblogger.

5 Ways to Use Content to Get More Sales

light

If you want to generate hordes of sustainable, long-term traffic without spending too much money, content marketing is the way to go.

At its core, it’s very simple:

Create valuable content for your target audience, and give it to them.

Seems a bit short, doesn’t it?

And it is. But that’s only part of the equation.

Unfortunately, that’s where most marketers and businesses stop.

They invest a decent amount of time and money to create content, and many achieve some degree of success.

They start to get a few hundred to a few thousand visitors a day.

But then they realize something….

None of these visitors are becoming customers.

They’ve wasted a great deal of their traffic by not knowing what comes next.

So, what’s the second half of the equation?

After you use content to generate an audience, you then need additional content to make sales.

And you desperately need those sales. Otherwise, how can you justify spending money to give away more content?

You can’t…

I want to show you what types of content you should be producing in order to generate strong sales from the rest of your content marketing efforts.

Some of these might overlap with the content you’re already producing to generate traffic, but some will be new.

If you’re starting to see a solid level of website traffic but aren’t sure how to turn those visitors into customers, this post should help you a lot. 

1. Teach and make sales: Webinars

I want to make this clear right away:

Just because a piece of content is geared towards helping you make sales doesn’t mean that it has to be a “salesy” piece of content.

It can still be highly educational.

The key difference, however, is that these types of content are suited better for making a sale than a general “X tips about Y” article.

I started this post with webinars because it is an incredible type of content.

Not only is it better from an education perspective (compared to most content), but when done right, it’s also better for sales—it can yield crazy numbers.

Let’s look at a few examples.

KISSmetrics has used webinars for a long time.

While I was working at the company, we produced 77 webinars, which had a total of 155,386 signups.

Although only half of those who signed up actually attended the webinars (74,381), we were able to convert 16,394 of them.

That’s a 22% conversion rate (of the people attending).

Those results are pretty typical for high quality webinars.

A few other businesses, such as Adobe and BuzzSumo, have revealed the results of their webinars. Adobe reported a 19% conversion rate, and BuzzSumo gets a conversion rate of about 20%.

You might not get that high of a conversion rate right away, but it’s not improbable either.

There are few types of content that convert as highly as webinars.

If you’ve visited NeilPatel.com any time in the past few months, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been running webinars on a regular basis.

image19

I’m going to outline how to create a webinar right now, but I highly recommend signing up for a future webinar just to see what an effective one looks like.

What a typical webinar looks like: In case you’re unfamiliar with webinars, let me give you a quick rundown of how they are typically made and run.

A webinar is essentially a video conference.

The video feed comes from your screen, and only your screen. Then, your audience can join the “call” at a set time, and you can do a live presentation.

Typically, the only sound will come from your microphone, but you can have multiple people do the presentation or even unmute certain viewers if they’d like to speak.

The whole point of a webinar is to teach the audience about a specific topic. Usually, it’s how to do something.

In my case, we teach the audience about our process of customer acquisition and the way they can replicate that process.

In general, webinars range from 40 minutes to 2 hours. Mine are on the high end because I like to pack in as much value as possible.

Take a second to realize the power of webinars: you have most of your viewers’ undivided attention for over 40 minutes.

You can’t get that anywhere else.

Finally, most webinars focus on high level topics—strategies, not tactics.

So, while you won’t get a super detailed step-by-step breakdown of how to do one specific thing, you will get a blueprint of how to create a strategy to accomplish something much greater.

My webinars focus on building a successful customer acquisition process (high level strategy), not how to design specific types of lead magnets (low level tactics, which is also one very small step in the process).

Then, the topic ties into either a lead magnet or a full-fledged product or service.

After I reveal everything about my proven process of building multi-million dollar businesses, I tie that into my consulting service.

It’s a natural fit. If you don’t want to learn how to do all the small things in the system yourself or you want to be sure of the result, you can just hire me instead.

Can you see how about 20% of viewers would want to pick that option?

The key parts of a webinar: There are five main parts of a webinar slideshow that you’ll need to create for your webinar.

I went into much greater detail in this guide to webinars, but this outline will give you a higher level view of the whole process and clarify things.

First, you have the introduction slide(s). Something I haven’t really mentioned is that webinars can attract viewers who aren’t part of your regular audience.

So, while you’ll have some super fans on the webinar, there will also be some people to whom you should introduce yourself.

image04

This reinforces that you’re someone who they should listen to and that it’s worthwhile to spend the next hour or so of their lives paying attention to you.

This is also the time when you re-introduce the topic.

Then, you move right into the core content, which is the meat of the presentation. It can take upwards of 80% of the total presentation time.

During this part, you walk the viewer through whatever process you’re trying to teach.

image02

The most effective webinars are highly transparent, which is why I share a lot of personal company information with my viewers.

Transparency is especially needed when you’re addressing a high level strategic topic. With tactics, it’s obvious whether something will or will not work.

But with a strategy, viewers need real numbers and experiment results to prove to them why each part of the strategy is included.

Once you’ve spilled the beans and given everything you have to give, you need to look at some overall results that can be achieved if they put your lessons into action.

image10

Finally, you can take a minute to make them an offer. It’s typically an exclusive offer that they can’t find on your website.

image01

The more the offer is tied to the topic, the better your conversion rate will be.

The last component is the question period. You could do this before or after the pitch—it’s up to you. You could even do two question periods, one before and one after.

image05

2. Get your product reviewed by influencers

One of the main reasons why your typical content won’t bring you any sales is because it doesn’t tie in with what you’re selling in any way.

For example, you might sell coffee.

And you might publish content like “The 5 mistakes you’re making when brewing coffee.”

Your readers might read the article and enjoy it. But what does learning about brewing have to do with buying your coffee? Not a whole lot.

And that’s okay—not all content needs to have a sales angle, but some content should.

The most direct type of content that sells is a product review.

But it’s also something you can’t really create yourself. If you make a new post reviewing your own product, of course your readers will assume it’s biased (because it is!).

Instead, you need to find bloggers, freelance writers, and journalists who are willing to review your product.

How to find content creators who will review your product: To begin with, you’ll need a list of people who might be interested in reviewing your product and have an audience that contains your target audience.

For the rest of this section, let’s pretend that you’ve just released a new time management tool.

Now, you’re trying to get reviews for it, which will drive sales.

To start with, search in Google for “top (type of product)”:

image23

Go through the results on the first page, and write down all the alternatives.

Next, we need to build a list of all potential sites and writers who might review your product.

To do this, we want to find sites that have already reviewed time management tools—specifically, those tools that you just wrote down.

One by one, you need to search for “(name of competing product) review”:

image22

For popular products, this could bring up hundreds of reviews.

You’ll see that the top few reviews for a popular, established product are on big authority sites. In this case, they are on PC Mag and PC World, which are both huge.

It would be awesome to get a review on those sites as well. However, unless you have a well-known brand or a strong existing relationship with writers on those sites, it’s going to be difficult.

Unless you have a product that is very different from all the rest and revolutionary, I wouldn’t suggest trying to land reviews on those sites right away. You can try, but expect a lot of rejection.

Instead, I propose a more methodical and strategic approach…

How to maximize your chances of landing a successful review: When you’re starting from scratch, it’s difficult to get a lot of attention.

You need to be able to prove that (1) your product is of high quality and (2) that your target audience likes it.

Essentially, you need social proof.

How do you get it?

You start at the bottom and work your way up.

Forget about those top few results when you search for your competitors’ reviews. Instead, dig into the 3rd page, 4th page, 5th page, and deeper results to find reviews on less authoritative sites.

Writers on these sites are sent hundreds of review requests every week, and they are much easier to convince to review your product.

Down on the 5th page for our example search, I found a Rescue Time review on an unknown blog.

image21

They probably don’t have a ton of readers, so it’s not going to spike your sales. However, a review on a small blog can still yield a few sales, so it’s not like it’s a waste of your time in the short term.

Additionally, smaller bloggers often have a tight-knit group of subscribers. Sometimes, smaller blogs drive more sales than larger ones.

The best part about reaching out to a blogger like this is that there’s a good chance they will be happy to review your product.

I would find their email address and then send them something like this:

Subject: Content idea for (blog name)

Hi (name),

I came across your blog recently and was impressed with your (competitor’s tool) review.

So much so that I’d like to offer you a free copy of my own tool.

It’s called (product name), and it’s a lot like (competitor’s tool), except that (how is it different in a good way?).

If you’re interested in checking out the tool or have any questions, just let me know!

Thanks for your time,

Your name.

There are three things in particular about the outreach email that you need to understand:

  1. The differentiator - It makes sense to relate your product to your competitor’s so that the blogger sees why they might be interested in reviewing yours. But it’s important that you explain how your product is different and in which ways it’s better. Otherwise, why would the blogger try just another copy of a tool they already like?
  2. The free product offer - Let’s face it, the review is primarily for your benefit. You need to provide some sort of incentive. The most common incentive is a free copy or sample of whatever you’re selling.
  3. Not pushing the review too hard - Don’t make it a condition for them to post a review when you offer your free product. They know that’s what you want, and if they genuinely like the product, they will post a review.

Send out as many of these as you can to lower-tier sites.

Not all of them will agree to do a review, but you’ll be able to get at least a handful.

Next, you start to target larger sites.

If you started on the 5th page of results or lower, now you might want to try the sites on the 3rd and 4th pages.

The outreach emails should be similar, but you should also include a line near the end like:

Our product has already been reviewed on sites such as (site #1) and (site #2) and has been well received by their audiences, which is why I think your audience would also be interested in getting an in-depth look at it.

This type of paragraph introduces the social proof that you need so badly at this point.

The bigger the two sites that you include are, the more effective it will be. In addition, you’re providing reassurance that their audience will enjoy it.

Again, this will get you another handful of reviews if you contact 100-200 sites (10-20 sites for 10 competing tools).

Finally, you just repeat this whole process.

As you get reviews on better and better sites, start using their names in your outreach emails.

By the time you get to the top few results on the first page, the biggest sites, you should have some decent sites to include as social proof.

Note that this entire process can take months to complete. However, during this time, you should still drive an increasing number of sales with the initial reviews you land.

3. Design an email sales funnel

When it comes to making sales, there are two aspects of content that really matter.

First is the type of content, which we’ve looked at a little bit so far (more to come).

Secondly, it’s the form in which it’s being delivered.

Content can be delivered in many forms:

  • blog posts
  • videos
  • e-books
  • infographics
  • webinars
  • slideshows
  • emails
  • text messages
  • forum posts
  • etc.

Many marketers don’t realize that the form matters a lot.

That’s because the viewers/visitors have a different perceived value of different content channels.

Blog posts are free, and there are millions of them. Readers are used to skimming them, learning a few small things, and moving on to the next one.

However, take emails for example.

People put a lot of value and trust in emails. When they get one from someone they know, they usually give it their full attention and expect to take some sort of action. It could be just replying to the email, but it could be clicking a link and buying something as well.

There’s a bit more to it than that, but it’s one of the reasons why email marketing is by far the most effective selling channel.

image07

Assuming you have been building an email list, you know that you should shift a lot of your sales efforts to selling through email. If you don’t know how, I’ll show you in the next section.

How to get sales through emails: The best way to sell most products through email isn’t by sending a random email saying “buy our stuff” even if that feels like the easiest thing to do.

Email gives you the opportunity to send a series of connected pieces of content to your subscribers.

You can use these to educate your subscribers, help them understand their problems, and then finally introduce solutions (your products).

A series of emails like this is essentially a mini sales funnel:

image24

And it’s incredibly effective.

There’s no right or wrong email funnel. You might have three emails in it, or you might have 20. It depends on the complexity of your product, the cost of it, and even how advanced your email marketing provider is.

However, there are three general types of emails that you will want to include in the following order:

  1. Educational (first 1-5 emails) - You want to send lessons to your subscribers so that they fully understand their problem. For example, if you sold high end coffee, you might want to send emails about the health benefits of high quality coffee as well as how to tell the difference between low and high quality coffee.
  2. Product introduction (1-2 emails) - Here, you want to offer a solution to their problem (not being able to find high end coffee). You don’t need to give a hard sell; just make your readers aware of your product.

image063. Product offer (last 1-5 emails) – Finally, you want to offer your limited time discounts or bonuses. This is more important if you’re selling something like a course that is only available during a certain time period.

image03

While it’s not required, I think it’s also a great idea to add at least one email where you follow up with anyone who purchases something from you. It’s one small thing you can do to gain lifelong customers.

By thinking of a sales funnel as a whole, you can combine all these emails to take your audience one step closer to a sale every email you send.

4. Use content to get access to your target audience

In the previous section, I went over the reasons why blog posts aren’t the greatest places for selling products.

People reading them aren’t in a buyer’s mindset.

The same goes for many other types of content, like social media posts, YouTube videos, slideshows, and more.

The better plan is to use your content on these other channels to get attention (traffic) and then get that traffic onto an email list. Then, you can sell much more effectively through email.

Option #1 – Start with blogging: I love blogging because I’ve seen the power it can have to help just about any business. I’ve built multiple 7 figure businesses mostly through blogging.

But I rarely sell in blog posts. In fact, I can’t think of the last time I even mentioned my services in a post.

The key is that I have signup forms on my posts—any visitor can sign up for my email list.

If you haven’t already been doing that, I can help you.

I’ve written many posts on how to create blog content that gets attention:

And here are the posts that will help you effectively convert that traffic into email subscribers:

Option #2 – Social media has one purpose: There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, selling on social media doesn’t work.

You won’t be able to tweet out a link to a sales page and get people to visit the page expecting them to be in a buyer’s mindset.

However, it is possible to send them to a blog post or a landing page where you offer a lead magnet, which will help you get them onto your email list.

That is the purpose of social media from a sales perspective (it’s good for other things as well).

Some social media sites, such as Facebook, even allow you to integrate your email list with your profile so that your followers can sign up right on the social networking site.

image16

Otherwise, you can always just link to your content and drive your followers to a page that has some sort of an opt-in form on it:

image18

In the above case, it goes to a blog post I published on NeilPatel.com, which has a nice big opt-in form in the sidebar:

image13

Option #3 – Slideshows and videos: Besides your blog and a select number of social media sites, there are many places where you can find traffic that you can get onto your email list.

In fact, there are thousands.

However, two in particular are more commonly used for business, so I’ll focus on those.

Those two are Slideshare and YouTube, which focus on publishing content in slideshow and video formats respectively.

Getting a popular slideshow on Slideshare isn’t easy, but if you can achieve that, you can expose your slideshow to tens of thousands of people on the site.

Then, you can put a link to a page on your website (hopefully a landing page with a lead magnet offer) either on the last slide of the slideshow or in the description:

image08

YouTube is similar. If you produce high quality videos consistently, you can get thousands of views on each of them.

If a video goes viral, you could get millions of views.

You drive traffic back to your site by linking to a landing page or blog post in the description of videos:

image11

5. Focus on the types of blog content that convert

I’ve been a bit harsh when speaking about blog posts so far.

They are still a great way to get traffic to your business’ site, which you should always keep in mind.

And although many types of blog content do not produce any sales, some types of content actually do.

If you’re looking to increase sales from your blog itself, start producing more of these types of content on a regular basis.

Content type #1 – tutorials: There are two main types of tutorials, both of which are great for selling.

The first type is where you explain in-depth how to use a specific product.

For example, I did this in one chapter of my advanced guide to link building when I covered how to use the tool ScrapeBox.

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The key is to not only include incredible detail but also make it useful. Show readers how to actually accomplish something with the product:

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In this example, I showed my readers how to find free proxies and build links with the tools.

This type of tutorial works best when you have a fairly well-known product already (most SEOs know ScrapeBox even if they haven’t used it). Because of this, this type of tutorial often lends itself to selling products as an affiliate.

The other type of tutorial involves showing your audience how to accomplish something. Then, you include your product in one of the steps of the tutorial.

A great example of this is Ann Smarty and her product MyBlogU.

She routinely writes tutorials on her own site and others and includes MyBlogU as a tool that will help the audience accomplish their goals.

For example, she wrote a post about how to write newsworthy content:

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In the article, she mentions the tool as a way to accomplish a specific step in the process:

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Content type #2 – product reviews: A good product review can convince just about anyone considering it to actually buy it.

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However, you need to understand what a good product review is.

Most reviews suck. They’re incredibly biased, contain no actual detail of the product in use, and are obviously written just to generate sales.

A good product review is authentic and as unbiased as possible, and it’s clear that the writer has used and tested the product.

There are four main steps to creating a great product review:

  1. Pick a type of product in your niche (e.g., link-building tools)
  2. Buy the products you’re comparing (it costs more upfront but will allow you to write a credible review)
  3. Test the products (test the performance of each product in the way they are meant to be used)
  4. Quantify the results, and share them in a detailed review

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Content type #3 – case studies: Finally, case studies are a great way to get new customers.

They consist of a detailed account of how a past customer used your product or service successfully.

They are best used for complex products, where it’s not clear to potential customers if the product is right for them or not.

HubSpot is a company that produces a steady stream of new case studies because they know they work:

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There’s a lot that goes into writing an effective case study, which is why I wrote an entire post dedicated to showing you how to do it.

Conclusion

Content marketing is arguably the most effective type of marketing at your disposal today.

However, you need to make sure that you are using content not to just generate traffic but to convert that traffic into sales.

I’ve shown you five detailed ways in which you can use content to accomplish the second part of this—sales—which is what most businesses struggle with.

Finally, I’d like to hear from you. If you’ve used any of these methods successfully, I’d love it if you shared your experience in a comment below. Also, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them below too.