Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hobby vs. Profession: How To Win When Natural Talent Isn't Enough

The difference between a hobby and a career is consistently getting paid for what you do. The dominance of digital, coupled with a thriving movement of entrepreneurship has empowered sharp minds to take risks and build empires from the ground up.

Report Illuminates Wealth-Creation Gap Among Small Business Owners

A growing number of self-reliant Americans have started one-person businesses in recent years to make a living. But minority and women business owners who opt for self-employment aren't faring as well as they might be, when it comes to building the value of their businesses, according to a new report by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), a national nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. that is dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for low-income families and communities. The report, CFED's "Assets & Opportunity Scorecard," looks at a number of factors affecting the economic picture for low-income families.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Get More From Landing Pages: 6 Ways to Use Them More Effectively

landing page

It’s the aim of most marketing and sales efforts:


All your work is designed to get visitors, leads, and even customers to take the next step.

Getting them more involved with your brand and products is necessary to drive sales.

There are obviously many ways of doing this. Blog posts, emails, e-books, and more.

But there’s one option that is almost always better at converting traffic to the next step:

Landing pages.

A landing page has a single goal, which you define. It might be to sign up to an email list, buy a product, or create an account for your site. 

Everything on the page is focused on achieving that goal, which is why they are more effective than other types of content.

But the term landing page is still pretty broad.

There are actually many different types of landing pages—each is ideal for a different situation in a different business.

If you understand what each type of landing page consists of, why it’s effective in specific situations, and how to make them, you’ll be able to use the right landing page for the right job.

And that’s exactly what I’m going to show you.

By the end of this post, you’ll know what the 6 highest converting landing pages are, when to use them, and how to make them.

1. Product not quite ready? Use a “Coming soon” landing page

One big mistake that you can make is to not promote a product ahead of time.

Just because a product isn’t fully developed doesn’t mean that people wouldn’t want to hear about it and get notified when it's ready.

If your product presents a unique solution, your target audience is going to do whatever they can to get their hands on it, whether it’s now or in the near future.

Now, if you promote a product before it’s ready, you can’t send people to a sales page that doesn’t exist.

Instead, you should send them to a “coming soon” landing page.

These are becoming increasingly popular as companies recognize how effective they can be.

Essentially, you want to create a simple landing page that makes it clear that the product is coming soon and that allows the visitor to opt in to get updates on the product.


This way, the marketing team isn’t just twiddling their thumbs while the product guys are at work.

Additionally, this type of landing page gives you really good validation.

If you’re getting terrible conversion rates from targeted traffic, then no one is interested in the product. You can save yourself a lot of time and money by either scrapping the product or taking it in a different direction.

The other benefit is a bit more obvious: you have a list of qualified leads.

When you do launch your product, it won’t be to an empty room. You can get your first wave of orders almost immediately, which will give you the feedback you need to refine the product.

Keys to an effective "coming soon" page: This type of landing page isn’t terribly difficult to create, but you still need to make sure you include all the most important elements.

I’m about to go over all the elements with you. They should all be included when possible, although not in any specific order.

First is the product itself. Visitors need to know what the page is about. In the example above, the product is mentioned “briefly” in the second largest line. It doesn’t need to be huge, but visitors should understand that you’re developing an actual product.

Next, make it clear that the product isn’t ready. This should be one of the largest parts of the page.

On top of that, you need to specify when the product will be ready.

If you’re not sure, you can be a bit vague and say something like “coming Winter 2016.” However, it’s better to get specific when possible. If you can, add a countdown to the page:


Finally, it’s absolutely crucial that you clearly sum up what your product has to offer.

In one or two sentences, describe what your product is and how it can help your target audience. This should be one of the main focal points on the page.

For example, on the coming soon page you see below, it’s clear that “shopidex” is a community specifically created for small business owners looking for growth.


Visitors know whether they are in that target market and can easily decide whether they’re interested in that type of product.

You can expand past those few sentences if you like, but you don’t have to unless you have a rather complex product.

Finally, you need an opt-in, and you should also make it clear what your visitors are opting in for, e.g., “enter your email to be notified when the product is ready.”

Tools to help you make a "coming soon" page easily: While "coming soon" pages are simple enough that they could be built from scratch, you really don’t need to.

There are many tools that have these types of templates. You simply click on the "coming soon" template, then click on each piece of text, and edit it however you like.

One option is Kickoff Labs, which has 20 different themes for "coming soon" pages. It isn’t free, however:


Perhaps the most popular landing page creator is Unbounce, and they have a decent selection of attractive "coming soon" page templates:


Again, it’s not a free tool, but it’s easily worth the money if you regularly create landing pages.

Another solid option is Lander, which has a good collection of "coming soon" templates.


The tool you use doesn’t really matter as long as you understand the principles we went over in this section.

2. How to incorporate video into an effective landing page

If you have a unique and potentially complex product, it can be hard to convey everything within a short page.

One great option is to include a video on the landing page and make it the primary element. You can still have text explaining the product and its benefits, but that’s included afterwards.

Here’s an example of this type of landing page on Crazy Egg:


The video is the sole focus of the page. You could have text beside it as well, and even a button, but the video should stand out so that visitors understand that they should watch it.

Components of an effective explainer video: Videos can be a great tool on landing pages because very few people will scroll down a long page of text. However, a large percentage of them will watch a 1-2 minute video.

It also makes it difficult for them to skip past an important point by accident as you usually have their full attention as they watch.

But putting up just any video obviously isn’t enough.

A bad video will result in a bad conversion rate, just as a great video will result in a great conversion rate.

There are two main aspects of an effective video that you need to try to achieve.

The first is quality.

Videos have come a long way in recent years, and viewers expect professionally made videos.

This means:

  • no blurriness

  • good lighting

  • no background noises or echoes

  • no stuttering or unclear speech

on top of other things.

Unless you happen to have the knowledge and experience to produce a video like that, you’re going to need professional help (more on that in a minute).

The second main aspect is a compelling story.

People associate videos with entertainment. You have 1 or 2 minutes to tell a short, compelling story about why your product is important and why it’s awesome.

It doesn’t need to be complex, but you want to introduce your product, highlight the most important features, and show all the ways the viewer could benefit from them.

If you feel like you struggle with this aspect of videos, read these articles I’ve written in the past:

4 steps to create an explainer video: If you’re still with me, you probably have a good idea in mind for using a video on a landing page.

All that remains is to know exactly what to do to actually make one.

Step 1 is to decide on a budget. Quality videos often cost more than $1,000 per minute of video.

Remember that quality always comes first, so if you have a limited budget, make your video shorter instead of cutting corners on the creation.

Step 2 then, of course, is to hire a freelance explainer video creator. You can find these on any major freelance site (like Upwork or Freelancer) just by searching for keywords such as “explainer video” or “product video”:


Again, you typically get what you pay for. Don’t cheap out unless you have no other options.

Alternatively, you can use a specialized marketplace for video creators like Video Brewery.

Step 3 is to work with your freelancer to develop a video outline and script. You could do this yourself to save a bit of money if needed.


Step 4 is to simply wait for your freelancer to create the video, give them feedback for edits, and then publish the video.

If you’ve never created a video, this might seem overwhelming. Just break it down into small steps, and you’ll see that it’s fairly easy.

3. Selling a complex product? Highlight its features

If you have a complex product, creating a video is one way to convey all its features.

However, there are drawbacks of videos. For one, they are much harder to edit than text and images.

Second, not everyone likes video. Those people would rather read, so it almost always makes sense to have text on the page anyway.

Finally, Google can’t index videos well, so if you want your landing page to rank for any terms in the search engine, you'd better have a decent amount of text.

If you have a product with complex features, you’re not just solving one problem—you are solving many with your product.

There’s no way to concisely explain all those benefits in a few sentences.

If you try to, you might end up confusing visitors who are looking for one specific solution that your product provides, but not the others.

So, what’s the solution?

It’s to create sections on your landing page, one for each main feature.

The order is important. You want to order them from most commonly sought after to least sought after.

Here’s what I’m talking about: Aweber landing page has clear sections (with differently colored backgrounds) for different purposes.

The top section focuses on the 3 main components of Aweber's software (they jump out in blue bolded text):


The next section has a testimonial.

The page continues on, and you go through a few more sections that highlight different features and benefits of the product.

For example, further down is a section that highlights how easy it is to integrate the product with other popular applications:


You don’t necessarily have to have differently colored backgrounds, but there should be clear divides for each section.

Explain each feature in plain language: One important aspect of creating a section for all the features of your product that is often ignored is the language you use.

It’s not enough to simply list the feature; you need to describe it in simple terms—those that your customers would use themselves.

Despite having a huge customer base and complex products, Hubspot still does a fantastic job of this.

Look at this example from one of their landing pages for their Sidekick tool:


In particular, notice how clear each section is.

From the text color and size to the images and center dots, it’s clear where each section begins and ends.

Then, look at the language they use.

For example:

Sidekick shows you relevant details about your contacts…email opens, links to social profiles, and more.

Many companies would have written something like this instead:

Sidekick shows you insights into your customers' web presence. Improve your demographic information collection and message targeting easily.

I would bet quite a bit of money that you’ve read something like that on a landing page before.

It leaves you scratching your head, saying “huh?”

While making your product sound complicated might seem like a good way to justify its cost, using vague, high-level language actually has the opposite effect.

Use simple and concise language, similar to your audience's.

4. Stop selling to cold traffic, and use a lead generating landing page instead

Remember that landing pages can be used in almost every step of your sales funnel.

They are optimized for conversions…of any kind.

But in order for them to work effectively, your landing page visitors need to be in the right place in the buying process.


Even the best landing page is going to struggle to sell a product if the visitor has never heard of it or your brand.

However, that very same landing page could have an amazing conversion rate when the visitors already know and like your brand. It could be even better if they’re really struggling with the problem your product solves.

Those people who've never heard of you, your product, or your website are called “cold traffic.”

The others, with whom you’ve touched base before are considered “warm traffic” and are much more likely to convert.

Is this really a landing page problem?

While at first it might seem like a traffic problem, it is a problem that can be solved with landing pages.

Instead of sending cold traffic directly to one of your landing pages that sells a product, you send them to an earlier in your sales funnel landing page.

Forget about asking them to do something big like pull out their wallets to buy something. Let’s get them on an email list first.

Once you get them to subscribe, you can start sending them emails and building a relationship. And eventually, you send them to that product landing page.

Starting your sales funnel with a landing page: A large percentage of highly successful businesses use this strategy. I urge you to consider it.

For example, Unbounce is arguably the biggest provider of landing page creation tools there is. They’ve done extensive testing to ensure that their landing pages have the lowest bounce rate possible (and highest conversion rate).

That applies to their templates for sale as well as to their own landing pages. Here’s an example of one:


Notice how they focus you on the page to get you to give them your email address in exchange for their email course.

They make it difficult to even find the pricing page on this landing page because they don’t want their cold traffic to do anything else but to join an email list.

Unlike on a blog, where the value you provide through free content might be enough to get someone to sign up for an email list, cold traffic to a landing page needs an incentive.

As you might know, the incentive is called a lead magnet.

The more enticing the lead magnet is, the higher your opt-in rate will be.

If you have a great offer and send the right type of traffic to a landing page with a lead magnet, it’s possible to achieve conversion rates of over 50%.

The 3 keys to an effective lead magnet: Creating an appealing lead magnet isn’t easy, but it’s not difficult either.

It requires understanding of the three key factors that affect your conversion rate.

The first factor is relevance.

There are two components of relevance. The obvious one is that your offer has to be relevant to your traffic's interests.

So, if your target audience consists of dog lovers, your lead magnet should be something like a book about dogs, not cats.

But your lead magnet should also be relevant to your audience's problems.

If many of your visitors are struggling to find good ways to play with their dogs, you might offer an e-book like “5 Ways to Play With Your Dog More Efficiently.”

Compare that to an e-book along the lines of “25 Awesome Dog Names.” While it’s about dogs, which is relevant, it’s not relevant to any of that audience's problems.

The second factor is related to relevance, and it's value.

It’s very simple:

The more someone values your lead magnet, the more likely they are to opt in to your email list.

A 10% off coupon is more appealing than a 5% off coupon.

An e-book with 10 ways to play more efficiently with your dog is more valuable than one with only 5 ways.

Additionally, if your lead magnet solves a pressing problem of a visitor, they will put a lot more value on it, which is why relevance is also important.

Finally, the third factor is feasibility.

Remember that we can’t directly ask cold traffic to buy something because it’s asking too much too soon.

For the same reason, you don’t want to overwhelm those visitors with a huge lead magnet.

Imagine you offered this email course: “A 52-Week Course to Dog Training Master”.

While that would have more value than a 10-week course, it also doesn’t seem feasible to most visitors—it’s too much.

So, while you want to provide as much value as you can, there’s a certain point where the extra value becomes too much work for your visitors.

Find the balance between too much and too little value.

If you understand those three factors, you’re ready for my step-by-step guide to creating amazing lead magnets.

5. Focus on the problem you solve before introducing the product

I know you love your product, but sometimes, your customers don’t.

So far, we’ve looked at landing pages that focused on communicating the features and benefits of products.

Sometimes, however, they aren’t the most important thing.

For simple problems, customers already know exactly what they’re trying to find.

If you sell a product to such customers, you need to take a different approach.

On your landing page, you should have very clear, simple text as the focal point:


That main text should describe the product the visitor is looking for.

Let’s say that a visitor knows they need an affordable shag carpet.

Instead of focusing immediately on the quality of your carpets such as the perfect softness, size, and all other sorts of things, you state the obvious:

Affordable shag carpets for any home.

Below that, you can add another sentence of your product's best feature(s). Maybe the carpets are made with a special material that your customers might appreciate, etc.

The key here is that they care about finding the exact product they have in their mind first, before even considering the features.

The 2 most important parts of this type of landing page:  If you have a simple product that is suitable for this type of landing page, there are two keys to maximizing your conversion rate.

The first is your main statement, which is typically made as a headline across the middle.

The worst thing you can do is get clever.

State what your product does and offers in one concise sentence so that visitors know that they’re in the right place. Just like we did above.

The second key is having a good call to action.

The call to action is usually placed in some sort of button that you want the visitor to click. It then takes them to a sales page or some other landing page to learn more about your product.

Your button can potentially say a lot of different things:


You can improve the effectiveness of your calls to action by using language that describes an action.

Instead of the common calls to action, like:

  • Learn more

  • Download

  • Buy this

create more specific calls to action for your product. If your product is a dog training manual, you could try:

  • I want my dog to listen!

  • I’m sick of disobedience

  • Download my dog training solution

To make it even more effective, apply urgency by adding a word like “today” or “now.”

Here is my complete guide to making your button calls to action more effective.

6. Let your visitor choose their own adventure

There’s one type of product that you might be selling that we haven’t talked about yet.

If you have a complex product, the other options we’ve looked at so far might not suit it.

Certain products have many different features, all of which could be their own products. Different customers might be interested in a specific feature and not care about the others.

If you use the other options we’ve looked at so far, you’ll be emphasizing certain features near the top of your landing page.

This is good for your potential customers who want that specific feature, but it will cause potential customers interested in other main features to lose interest and not convert well.

The solution is to give them a choice.

Instead of jumping right into a feature, you let your visitors choose what they’re interested in. Then, depending on the button or link they choose, you take them to a certain section of the page (or even to a different landing page).

Hubspot is a great example of this. They have a complex product that serves both marketers and salespeople. Each group is interested in different things.

On a Hubspot landing page, there’s a link to get more information on their marketing platform as well as their sales software:


On top of that, they also offer a lead magnet, just in case any cold traffic finds their page.

When to use a “choose your own adventure” landing page: The main factor that will determine whether you should use this type of landing page is whether your traffic is comprised of different types of people.

Some products appeal to many different audiences, and those audiences need to be approached differently because they care about using your product in different ways.

Ideally, you’d send them to a landing page designed just for them, but that’s not always possible. That is when a "choose your own adventure" page is the next best option.

How to make your own adventure landing page: The great thing about this type of page is that it’s fairly easy to make. All you need are links to different landing pages or to content further down on your landing page.

If you need to implement the second option, it’s pretty simple.

There are two parts. The first is your anchor point, where the page will jump to when you click the link.

Put the anchor point on the heading of the section that you want someone to jump down to.

For example:

Hubspot for marketers

Then, go back up to where you’d like to place the link, but instead of putting an entire address in the link tag, type the “id” name that you specified after a hashtag when you created the anchor point.

Like this:

Learn how Hubspot helps marketers

Put that link in a button or panel near the top of the page, and the segment of visitors interested in those features can go right to them without getting confused.


Landing pages are an important tool that should be in every marketer's arsenal.

But if you want to take full advantage of landing pages in your work, you need to use the right type for the situation.

I’ve shown you 6 of the highest converting types of landing pages, and you should now understand when to use them and why they work.

If you’re not sure whether a certain type of landing page is right for a situation you have, leave me a comment below describing the situation and your thoughts. I’ll try to steer you in the right direction.

3 Resources to Help Invigorate Your Standard Content Routine

Copyblogger Collection - refresh your content creation routine

You’re probably familiar with “art imitating life” and “life imitating art.” I know I am.

We can apply this idea to content marketing, as well.

Your content may imitate life if it’s engaging, entertaining, and useful. You take recognizable, relatable elements from life and infuse them into your content to connect with your audience members’ worldviews.

But how can life imitate your content?

Well, winning content marketing is often the product of trying different experiments to see what works best for your message and your business. These experiments help you get to know your audience better and may help you uncover a new, more effective content strategy.

You see this in life when you try a new activity and broaden your outlook of what you thought was possible.

Today, we’re going to focus on techniques that could expand the types of content you offer your audience. This week's Copyblogger Collection is a series of three handpicked articles that will show you:

  • How to use content marketing to sell your creative work

  • How to take your Pinterest marketing to the next level

  • How to determine if you should publish a curated email newsletter

As you work your way through the material below, think of the following lessons as a mini content creation course.

A Simple Content Marketing Strategy for Creative Folks


In A Simple Content Marketing Strategy for Creative Folks, Rafal Tomal admits that he promoted his business the wrong way for a long time.

Just like many designers and artists, he built a portfolio and posted his work around the web. Then, he waited for feedback.

The problem with this method was the assumption that people — who are not design experts — would recognize his work as superior to the work of other designers and artists. Rafal soon realized he should focus on content marketing instead.

You'll want to find out about the changes Rafal made to his strategy because it produced stellar results: with just six blog posts, he grew his email list from 800 subscribers to more than 5,300 subscribers between June 2014 and February 2015.

5 New Ways to Take Your Pinterest Marketing to the Next Level


Beth Hayden wants to keep content marketers informed about the world of Pinterest marketing and the latest changes to the platform.

5 New Ways to Take Your Pinterest Marketing to the Next Level outlines how to take advantage of new developments on Pinterest.

The Pinterest user base keeps growing exponentially every year, so it’s likely your readers and prospects are already on Pinterest looking for the types of content and products you produce.

Do You Have What It Takes to Publish a Curated Email Newsletter? [Infographic]


Curating is essentially sifting through a mountain of information on a specific topic (news, health, HTML, entertainment, lifestyle, content marketing, etc.) and plucking out the best content.

To create a curated email newsletter, you package that curated content into an email message, add a brief commentary about each link, and deliver it to your email list subscribers.

Some do it daily. Others do it weekly. But why go through all the trouble? And do you have what it takes to publish a curated email newsletter?

Demian Farnworth will help you answer those questions and decide if this type of content is right for you … with a little guidance from his Aunt Ona.

Move one step closer to your desired results

Review this post (and save it for future reference) as you think about ways to produce the best content experience for your prospects and customers.

A small change in your standard content routine could move you one step closer to the results you’ve been waiting to see.

The post 3 Resources to Help Invigorate Your Standard Content Routine appeared first on Copyblogger.

The Uneasy Future Of Format Innovation In Music Streaming

The continual rise of media streaming services like Netflix and Spotify has not only transformed consumer behavior, but has also freed creators from traditional TV and radio programming standards, allowing for greater experimentation in form and content.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tax Foundation Analysis Of Sanders Plan Only Shows Downside

The Tax Foundation has scored the Bernie Sanders tax plan. As you might expect, it is not a pretty picture. I think that there is something of a flaw in the Tax Foundation's model in looking at whether the plan is good public policy, but let's dig into the details a bit first.

Introducing The Digital CMO: Corporate Marketing for Those Who Live in the Future

what's coming in corporate content marketing

It was somewhere in the middle of a conversation with Brian Clark at one of Content Marketing World's parties when it all became clear to me:

While Rainmaker.FM has tremendous educational and inspirational assets for entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and most general marketers, there’s no podcast that caters to the corporate marketer.

That’s not just true on Rainmaker.FM. In general, there isn’t a lot of blogging and podcasting in the corporate marketing space — whether that's because of a gag order from the legal department or the time it takes to wrangle multiple agencies and channels.

But corporate marketers need help too.

Corporate content marketing strategies that work

In my day job, I run Speakeasy, a content marketing, social media, and promotions agency. Every day I talk with corporate marketers whose challenges and opportunities multiply with every new technique and channel available to them.

Whether it’s programmatic advertising; synthesizing content, SEO, and conversion; attribution modeling; or just getting all seven of their specialist agencies marching in the same general direction — today’s corporate marketer needs a lot of information and doesn’t necessarily have time to seek it out or consume it.

The corner office, or even the cube with a little window, can be a lonely place.

Engage with top corporate marketers

thedigitalcmoOn The Digital CMO we’re going to make it a little less lonely by helping you engage with top corporate marketers in a wide variety of B2C and B2B companies.

We’ll celebrate their wins, learn from their struggles, and learn the strategies that are working today.

Each week, we’ll start with a lightning-round review of hot news and topics in brand marketing for the week. Then we’ll settle in for a candid chat with our featured guest, who will be a senior-level corporate marketer.

We’ll be frank, informative, and challenging.

Get your ticket to the boardroom

Whether you're a CMO or an executive-in-training, you won’t want to miss a single episode of The Digital CMO.

Subscribe to The Digital CMO on iTunes now

P.S. Want to nominate someone to appear as a guest on the show (even if that’s you)? Click here.

The post Introducing The Digital CMO: Corporate Marketing for Those Who Live in the Future appeared first on Copyblogger.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The World's Next Top Tax Haven Is...America

The IRS hunts offshore accounts and tax evasion worldwide. Yet ironically, America is now ranking as a kind of offender itself.

Last Day to Get Inside Authority, our Advanced Content Marketing Training Program

doors close today - get advanced content marketing training and lock in your low price

At 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time today, the doors to our advanced content marketing training program, Authority, close again. We won't reopen them until later this year.

If you've considered getting the support, training, and feedback that's available to you inside this program but you haven't joined yet, you may have a few questions.

In today's post, I'm providing quick answers to the most common questions we've heard. And I'm happy to answer any follow-up questions you may have: just ask in the comments section at the end of the post.

What will I learn inside Authority?

Officially, Authority is advanced content marketing training.

But it’s much more than that.

Authority is a community of people of all stripes who use content marketing to promote something.

Inside Authority, you’ll find content marketers from every corner of the career world. Professionals like:

  • Small business owners

  • Freelance writers

  • Content consultants

  • In-house content creators

Not to mention bloggers, authors, entrepreneurs, copywriters, designers, developers, and so on.

Members stay up to date with what works now. And they get the support, encouragement, and resources they need to build their businesses with effective content marketing.

How much time do I need to dedicate to Authority every week?

We know you’re busy, so we’ve made our Authority advanced content marketing training extremely flexible.

We offer a weekly live session you can attend while it’s broadcast, or you can catch the replay whenever it’s convenient for you.

Our forum is available 24/7 for you to get answers to your most pressing questions.

Some weeks, you may not check out the session or participate at all. That's okay: We know you get busy sometimes. We'll be there when you have more time available.

At other times, you may discover you need to get yourself up to speed quickly on a content marketing topic. In that case, the vast Authority archive (250+ hours of education) is there to help.

You'll discover sessions about:

  • The seven essential elements you need to make content marketing work for your business

  • How to develop a content strategy for your business

  • Productivity for content creators

  • Using images in your content marketing

  • How to use email marketing to create community and promote your products and services

  • How to format your content so it's attractive and easy to read

  • Plus much more

Is Authority included in the Rainmaker Platform?

No, Authority is not included as part of the Rainmaker Platform.

Authority access was included as part of the Rainmaker Platform initial offering, and those who signed up while that offer was valid will continue to have access to Authority for as long as they use Rainmaker.

If you’re using content marketing to promote a business, Authority is the program for you.

The skills, support, and encouragement you'll get when you join the community will help you build a solid business on a foundation of effective content marketing.

When will Authority open to new members again?

It won’t be anytime soon.

We don’t have an exact date — we only know it will happen later in 2016.

Why wait? Join Authority today and begin benefiting from the knowledge, feedback, and support you’ll enjoy inside the program.

How does pricing work?

Access to Authority for a full year, plus access to our extensive archive of more than 250 hours of education, comes at the low price of $399. For now.

The price will be higher the next time we open Authority. But when you become a member today, you’ll lock in the current low price for the lifetime of your membership.

Join Authority today: Doors close at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Authority is our advanced content marketing education program. Inside Authority, we pull back the curtain on the topics, tactics, and strategies that don’t show up in public blog posts.

Try Authority on for size, risk-free

There’s no risk to joining Authority: our 30-day money-back guarantee means you can join and begin benefiting from the knowledge and the community right now.

If you discover you don’t want Authority, let us know within 30 days and we’ll refund your purchase no questions asked.

Click the button below to join Authority before the doors close at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time today, Wednesday, January 27, 2016.

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What to Expect When Installing Solar Panels


As the price of electricity and other fuel sources continue to skyrocket as the resources they depend on diminish, many are looking toward environmentally friendly energy sources that can be maintained by a single home owner to help both the environment and their wallets.

While other forms of green energy are available on an industrial level, the easiest way to transition to an environmentally friendly electricity source on a budget is to invest in solar power system. A lot of electricity can be made from sunshine by a process called solar photovoltaic, which can easily make enough energy to handle a majority of home owner's needs. Any house can be equipped with solar panels, but depending on the location and the amount of sunlight the area gets while determine whether it is the best option.

Solar energy will not fully remove a consumer's reliance on an electrical grid but it is still a great way to save money. For houses that live in an area that get a sufficient amount of sunlight, electricity costs can be substantially reduced and can be installed with ease. In order to begin the process of setting up solar panels it is probably a good idea to first contact the electrical company. When setting up solar panels, the electrical grid is still used, but only for days when there is low sunlight. As an added bonus to being connected to the power company, any excess electricity that the panels make can be sold back to the electrical plant resulting in extra money that pays for the investment.

After consulting with the local electricity company, the next step is to find a nearby solar panel retailer. Nearly every large area that gets sun has a company that deals exclusively with the selling and installation of panels. However if an area does not have a native solar panel store, ordering them online is a great alternative. For those with a local company, give them a call and they will be able to assess the roof and house location in order to get optimal electricity from the sunlight, and will begin planning the installation from there.

Once the solar power company has determined the best setup for the household, they will set a date to install the panels. A team of qualified professionals will work with your power company to get a modified power box that is compatible with a new solar system. After the power box is properly configured, the solar panels are ready to be installed. This process can take a few hours to a few days, but once the solar panels are installed and configured, they will last a lifetime. When thinking of installing solar panels, make sure to weigh the positive environmental and budgetary benefits versus the effort and process of choosing and implementing a system.

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A Recipe for Failure: 6 Mistakes Marketers Make When They Copy Tactics


You spend a lot of time reading blog posts and e-books to learn how to market your business more effectively.

So, why isn’t it working?

Sure, you might be getting some traffic, maybe even a few sales, but are you getting a stream of both that's growing steadily?

If you’re like 95% of business owners or marketers, you’re not.

Although you’re using all the same tactics the pros are using and succeeding with, they just don’t seem to work for you.

Some business owners spend years repeating this fruitless cycle until they deem online marketing a failure.

And it’s a shame because it could help them a great deal.

You and I both know it.

Do you want to know the cause for these struggles?

I can sum it up in one sentence:

It’s not enough to know how to use a tactic. You need to know why it works.

Let that sink in for a second.

Anyone can read an article on a popular blog like Quick Sprout or Backlinko and learn about marketing tactics that work.

They are usually broken down step-by-step so that just about anybody could figure out the technical details.

But what most marketers don’t realize is that certain tactics only work in certain situations.

You can adapt many of them to your specific business, but in order to do that, you first have to understand why they work.

The best way for me to show you the mistakes you might be making with tactics is to show you the most common ones.

And that’s what I’m going to do for the rest of this post.

1. The most common content marketing blunder: A product-audience mismatch

It absolutely kills me to see this mistake.

It’s one that beginner marketers make, but it’s not until they become more experienced that they see the results of the mistake.

You see, many marketers learn to use the tactics they read about really well.

They are persistent and work hard to apply those tactics, which helps them drive traffic and convert that traffic to subscribers.

Sometimes, they do this for years.

And that’s why it’s heartbreaking…

…because despite all that work, they’be been building the wrong audience.

When they finally decide to sell a product to that audience, they fail. There are two main scenarios where this failure occurs:

  • Scenario #1 – Trying to sell an existing product to the audience

  • Scenario #2 – Trying to replicate a successful product and then trying to sell it to the audience

These scenarios happen because of one mistake: not understanding the product-audience fit.

Why not understanding product-audience fit leads to failure: First, you need to understand that every type of content attracts its own type of audience.

For example, if you create incredibly in-depth content like I do, it attracts those readers in your niche who are extremely passionate about your niche and will devote a lot of time and effort to it.

But if you create content like “10 quick tips to do X,” you’ll attract people who just want a simple solution. They don’t actually care about “X.” They just want the result.

And those are just two examples.

The point is that each tactic you follow will produce a different type of audience.

What happens as a result is that you end up with an audience of many different types of people.

When you’re selling a product, your goal is to make that product as appealing as possible to your audience.

If a large part of your audience is interested in it, that means you have a good product-audience fit. This is similar to the product-market fit concept.


Can you see the fatal flaw in copying tactics yet?

Since your audience is composed of many different types of people, it’s going to be almost impossible to find a product that appeals to a large portion of them. That’s basically what happens in scenario #1.

Sometimes, you’ll get lucky by copying those tactics and create an audience that is fairly cohesive.

That’s a great thing and gives you a chance to succeed.

But most marketers then enter scenario #2.

Since they’re used to copying tactics to generate traffic and subscribers, why wouldn’t they copy product tactics as well?

They’ll come across posts like this one by Derek Halpern in which he talks about how selling courses has helped him generate well over 6 figures.


Then, our marketer will think something like, “That’s a great idea. I should make an online course to sell to my audience!”

Maybe that sounds familiar. If not, be wary of falling into that trap.

That's because once you decide to create a product, you need to be ready to invest months of hard work creating it and possibly a lot of money as well.

What often ends up happening, as you might have guessed by now, is that the product flops if it doesn’t fit the audience.

And in many cases, it won’t.

If your audience isn’t interested in learning how to do everything themselves, they won't be interested in buying a detailed course.

Instead, you’d be much better off selling tools that automate things or services that get them the results they want.

If you only take away one thing from this post, let it be this:

Always consider the audience you’re building with different tactics. Then, sell products that match their desires and needs instead of just creating the latest, trendy type of product.

2. You can’t only give value

What’s the first lesson of content marketing?

Give value.

The basic idea is a sound one because it's based on the rule of reciprocity.

When you give people something, they feel obligated to give you something in return.

In the context of content marketing, you give them valuable content, and in turn, they give you their attention and even email addresses.

The more value you give, the more traffic and subscribers you typically get (as a general rule).


If you understand that, fantastic.

But here’s where most marketers go wrong.

They give, and give, and give some more until they can’t give anymore.

They don’t understand that you need to give your readers an opportunity to give back to you in the form of financial support.

In other words, you need to sell products.

If you don’t, you don’t have a business—you have a hobby.

Eventually, you won’t be able to afford to keep creating great content for your audience, which limits how much you can help them.

But if you have a business that generates revenue, you can afford to invest in even better content.

Selling products isn’t an evil thing: The reason why so many beginner, and even intermediate, marketers are so hesitant to sell something is because of how they perceive it.

They believe that by selling a product they are “taking” something from their audience.

And while I understand where this feeling comes from, it’s also completely ridiculous when you start to examine it closer.

First, and most important of all, products can be good.

I am more than happy to pay a lot of money for my favorite products. They add a lot of value to my life.

I’m sure you have products like that too. In fact, everyone does.

So, why can’t you create a product like that for your audience?

You already understand them well enough to produce valuable content, right? So, the next step is to create something larger that can have an even bigger impact on their lives.

The second thing you need to realize is that your audience has been paying for your content the whole time.

Not with money, but with their attention and time.

Both of those things are very limited and worth a lot. Your audience is still giving you something in return for the value you give them.

The takeaway: Marketing isn’t just about giving away content. It’s about finding multiple ways to make a difference in your audience’s lives and getting compensated for that work.

You don't have to resort to tricking or scamming to build a successful business. Just focus on creating as much value as possible, but give your audience a chance to buy products from you.

3. What opt-in conversion rates are really determined by

Most content marketers have the same basic goals.

Create content.

Get traffic.

Turn that traffic into email subscribers.

Marketers have finally learned the value of email subscribers, and the conversion rate from traffic to subscribing has become a huge focus.

This has led to endless posts about tactics you can use to increase your conversion rate.

Since everyone is using the same tactics, they should get about the same results, right?

But that’s not what's happening.

Even with the same tactic, one person will get conversion rates below 1% while another will get conversion rates over 20%.

The truth is most marketers don’t understand what factors determine conversion rates. They blame the tactic and keep searching for more tactics to try.

If this sounds familiar, stop it.

Instead, take a minute now to learn why you’re not having the success you should.

There are two factors that determine opt-in rates.

Factor #1 – Exposure: On a basic level, no one can sign up for your email list unless they get the opportunity to.

Therefore, if you have zero opt-in forms on your site, you can't get any new subscribers.

Exposure is the “easy” factor, and it’s what most conversion rate blog posts focus on.

They convince you that pop-ups, content upgrades, sidebar forms, or any number of different tactics will produce the best conversion rate.


And to be fair, some of those are better than others.

From an exposure point of view, pop-ups are fantastic. If you set a pop-up to show up after a page loads, almost everyone will see it, which means they have an opportunity to opt in.

This is where most marketers start and stop.

They go from exposure tactic to exposure tactic, trying to find one with a better conversion rate.

Most of these marketers never get more than a low conversion rate because this is all they’re focused on.

But smart marketers know there’s one more piece to the puzzle.

Factor #2 – Value: For some reason, value is often ignored when it comes to opt-ins.

Most sites offer a weak incentive to sign up for an email list. For example:

  • Sign up to get more posts like this

  • Sign up to get a free checklist

  • Sign up to get some exclusive content

Seriously, do you think your content is so damn good that everyone will opt in just so that they might not miss a post?

Even I don’t think that.

Those examples I’ve given you are not valuable.

Sure, they have some value, but nothing that’s going to make a real difference in your readers' lives.

But what if you offered someone $100 to sign up for your email list?

I bet just about everyone would sign up because that’s an insane amount of value.

Now, obviously most people can’t do that, but do you see how the value of the offer affects your conversion rate?

The real formula is something like this:

Opt-in rate = Exposure * Value of Offer

A valuable offer alone isn’t enough, however; you also need to get it in front of your audience.

But when you have a tactic that gives you exposure along with an offer that is actually valuable, that’s when you get incredibly high conversion rates (e.g., Bryan Harris often gets over 20% conversion rates).

Most marketers spend very little time on creating a valuable offer, and then they wonder why their conversion rates suck despite trying all the different exposure tactics.

It should be clear to you now why this doesn’t work.

So, how valuable should your offer be?

There’s no specific amount. Just make it as valuable as you can.

As an example, look at the sidebar on Quick Sprout, which contains an offer for a free course:


As you can see, I value it at $300.

If you’ve taken the course, you'd probably agree that it's not far-fetched.

While it wouldn’t make sense to give away $300 in cash, I am able to give away this course because it costs me virtually nothing after the initial creation costs.

So, ask yourself how much your current offer is truly worth.

In the case of low conversion rates, it’s usually not much.

Find an effective exposure tactic or two, and then spend your time and effort testing the value of your offer. You’ll have far more success.

4. Being first counts for a lot

If you rely on bloggers to show you new tactics, I have some bad news.

While you can find effective tactics in blog posts, most of them have been discussed and tested behind closed doors in mastermind groups and private chat groups.

This means that by the time you finally see a tactic, many marketers have been already using it.

Why is this a big deal?

It’s a big deal because you miss out on first-mover advantage.

While this term typically applies to technology, I think it also applies to marketing tactics.

Basically, it states that the first company to offer something new will have a great advantage over those who come after.

That’s not to say that copycats can’t be successful, but it’s much harder for them to succeed than for those who are first.

When it comes to marketing tactics, first-mover advantage would simply mean being one of the first to use a particular tactic, before hordes of marketers jump on the trend and saturate it.

A great example of this is using infographics to build links.

As you might know, I used infographics extensively in the past. I still occasionally publish them but much less often because they’re not as effective anymore.

From 2010 to 2012, I published 47 infographics, which generated 2,512,596 visitors and 41,142 backlinks from 3,741 unique domains. That comes out to an average of 53,459 visitors and 875 backlinks from 79 unique domains per infographic.


In the following 2 years, my results declined dramatically even though the infographics were just as good (probably even a bit better).

The infographics I produced during that time period produced an average of 21,582 visitors and 371 backlinks from 34 unique domains.

Overall, the results declined by over 50%!

And since then, the results have diminished even further.

No doubt you could still create infographics that go viral, but it’s much more difficult now.

Instead of struggling to compete with thousands of other marketers doing the same thing, wouldn’t it be better to find a new tactic to be among the “first” to implement?

How to get a first-mover advantage of your own: The fundamental reason why most marketers are behind the curve is not even because they rely on blogs for tactics (although it doesn’t help).

Some blogs do mention tactics early enough that you can still be part of that first group (there were certainly blogs mentioning infographics during 2010-2012).

But there’s one thing about infographics back then that you can’t appreciate now:

It was much more difficult to make a great infographic back then.

There were fewer designers who were experienced with them; they charged more; and there were no tools like Canva to help you produce them by yourself.

So, if I ask you now why you didn’t create more infographics during that time period (assuming you were in marketing then), the answer probably isn’t because you didn’t know about them.

Instead, you found out about them, but they seemed difficult.

And that’s the key marker you should be looking for.

Tactics get easier over time as more case studies are published and as tools are created to make it easier to implement them.

Not coincidently, as tactics get easier, more and more marketers start using them, lowering the results they produce.

Ideally, you want to get on the ground floor of a tactic.

To do that, look for unsaturated tactics that seem difficult to use.

This means that you will have to figure out how to execute them. It’s going to take you some extra time and resources upfront, but that will allow you to get better results before others catch on.

I can give you a few tactics right now that are still pretty difficult but getting easier and more popular every day.

First is webinars. While they’re not exactly “new,” they haven’t been adopted nearly as fast as infographics.

This tactic is currently producing fantastic results, and I’m holding webinars regularly on


Webinars take a lot of work, and there are still some difficult parts, but if you’re willing to put in some work, you too could get the same results. If you’re interested, here’s my guide to getting started with webinars.

Second, what about using tools as a link-building and traffic-generation tactic? The Quick Sprout analyzer tool is responsible for hundreds of thousands of visits, a ton of links, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue.


Tools are difficult to make because you need to know how to develop or hire a developer. That’s what gives you an opportunity to massively benefit from making one.

But have no doubt, there are already tools being developed so that non-technical marketers can make their own simple tools.

These will become more and more advanced in the coming years, and creating tools as part of content marketing campaigns will become more common and less effective.

5. There is no single perfect email outreach template

Outreach has been a huge part of marketing tactics for the last couple of years as more and more businesses have realized that they should be using white hat techniques.

Of course, many articles have been written about writing emails to help you drive links, mentions, shares, and all sorts of useful things. On top of that, many tactics include email outreach as a main component.

And in those articles (the best ones at least), the author typically includes a template of what they might send in an email. For example, here’s a screenshot of a template I provided in a past post:


It’s a good email.

Sorry, I should really say it was a good email.

Since I published that, that exact template has been sent thousands of times (even to me a few times!).

Obviously, when someone receives an email (or more) that is exactly the same as the one they got in the past, they’re going to realize something’s going on. The email obviously isn’t personal, and the recipient is going to feel used.

The emails you see in templates are often very effective at first. However, following the first-mover advantage concept, they will become less effective over time because other marketers will start copying them.

If I publish a template email, I will never personally send that one again because I know that it will produce diminished results.

If I say an email is converting at 10% and then give you a template, don’t expect to get the same results if you just copy that email. Other people will as well, which will impact the email's effectiveness.

Using email templates the right way: Does all this mean that you should ignore templates when you see them in posts about tactics?

Not at all. What it means is that you shouldn’t just straight copy them.

Instead, break them down section by section, and determine the purpose of each sentence. Then, rewrite them so that you have an entirely unique template that accomplishes the same purpose.

For example, the first sentence of the email above is:

I love the work you do on (site name). In particular, I was blown away by (title of content you linked to) when I was researching my latest post.

The purpose of that line was to show how you came across your target's site.

You could rewrite it in many ways to be completely unique but still mention the post on their site that you were interested in. For example:

I’m a blogger myself, and I was seriously impressed when I came across (title of content you linked to) when I was doing some background research for my next post.

This opening is very similar in meaning and effect to the original, but it doesn't look like a duplicate.

Do this for each line in the template, and you can create your own template that will get similar results to those of the original.

In most cases, you can improve upon templates: When it comes to email outreach, templates are used to save time (instead of writing emails from scratch).

However, that limits their effectiveness because they aren’t usually personalized.

In general, the more personalized an email is, the more likely it will be opened and acted upon.

You can also improve the effectiveness of templates if you understand their limitations.

If you’re willing to add some sort of offer or gesture of value to the person you’re emailing, it will take more time per email, but you will get better results.

For example, in the above email, you could say that you’ve shared the post on social media or signed up for their email list. Just make sure you actually do it.

6. Some tactics depend on having an existing audience

The final mistake I often see marketers make is trying to copy tactics that require an audience when they haven't built a sizable one yet.

Some tactics are best used when you’re starting out, and some are best left for when you have an audience.

Let me give you a few examples.

Writing about controversial topics has long been a great way to generate comments and links because people love to talk about controversial topics.

The only problem is that they require a great deal of authority.

For example, I wrote a post about why link building is not the future of SEO:


It got hundreds of comments and tons of shares on social media.

But the only reason I was successful with this post was because I already had a large audience to show it to, and I have a pretty recognizable name in the SEO world.

Once a discussion is started on a controversial topic, most people want to weigh in and share it with their friends.

But you can’t easily get that initial discussion without an audience.

If someone with 50 subscribers published the same post, it wouldn’t have gone anywhere.

You can use the same tactics, but don’t expect the same results: When I publish a new post, I rank for all sorts of long tail phrases in Google after the first week.

Targeting long tail keyword phrases is an example of a tactic that works best on established sites.

Quick Sprout has tons of domain authority and hundreds of high quality articles. That’s why I rank so fast and easily.

But if you are on a brand new domain, it will take months of link building and content publishing to rank for long tail phrases.

This is an example of a tactic that can work even if you don’t have an audience, but it will work slower and take more effort.

What you need to take away from this is that when you read about a tactic, first consider whether it will work with your audience and website.

If you think it will, consider if you should expect to get the same results as the author. If not, lower your expectations, and prepare to put in more work.

If you don’t think a tactic will work for your audience, save it for later, and find a more suitable one.


Marketing tactics are the most popular topics in the marketing world.

It’s great to learn about new ones and add effective ones to your arsenal on an ongoing basis.

However, if you blindly copy them, it’s unlikely that you will find much success for the 6 reasons that I’ve outlined in this post.

I urge you to determine whether you’ve made any of these mistakes in the past and to understand them so you don’t repeat them in the future.

If you avoid making these mistakes, you will find that the tactics you apply will work much better than they have in the past.

If you’ve made any of these mistakes, please share the details in a comment below. I think it’d be great for others to hear so that they can learn from them too.