The plans were laid out, the email list teetered the 1,000 subscribers mark, and the product and marketing plans were complete. But the launch was a total flop.
What the heck?
I did what all the big time bloggers told me to do, yet my first launch sucked so hardcore I considered giving up on spending all that time creating products and just allow ads on my site.
Why didn't it work? I thought.
I had the full email sequences set up with triggers and everything. But it didn't matter.
None of that mattered...
Because my email list was all over the place.
We're talking direct sales people here, freelance web and graphic designers there, and brick-and-mortar business owners on the other side—my niche was too broad. I was writing about too many different topics.
Out of 1,000 email subscribers, maybe 200 of them were interested in that first course. And out of 200, only 24 people bought it.
In some cases, that'd be pretty good. But not when you invested 3 months of your project time on that one course.
Now, I could go on and on about the million-and-one things I did wrong with that first launch. But the cold, hard, honest-to-Betsy truth is:
I launched something I wanted to launch, and was convinced that I could convince people that they wanted it, too. (You're not Apple, Sara...)
I had no goals set up. I had no idea what my website was really for, and what I wanted out of each blog post, web page—none of it.
I had wimpy sales pages and calls-to-action (CTAs). Like I was afraid to ask people to buy.
Well, you know how all that turned out. (I guess 24 sales was spectacular with all that blind launching, huh?)
So, since I've had enough trials and errors, and failures and successes at this point, I want to give you a peek into what you can do to not fail like that.
With that, here are my 3 excuse-free keys to creating a more powerful website, blog, and above all—email list.
(So you can avoid ignorantly working your ass off for close to nothing.)
But first, snag my 8 simple content hacks to help you create a better, stronger blog. [ It's FREE. ]
8 content planning, strategizing, and development email tips to stimulate growth in your online presence.
Key 1. Know What They Want + How You'll Fulfill It
When you're just starting out, you probably have no idea what the heck your audience wants.
And unless you've been in sales or marketing, you likely have no idea what the people on the other end of your website care about, either.
But, plain and simple, you have to find out.
As an introvert, I can tell you that most of the "strategies" for growing your business and finding your ideal target audience aren't in any way appealing to me.
(They flat out suck.)
But sometimes you have to just suck it up and do it. And other times, there are decent workarounds until you can strap on your temporary extrovert cap and go.
So, to truly know what your audience wants, you have to get to know them. If you really want to make worthwhile money and have a loyal audience, you have to make your audience an extension of yourself—like your spouse.
You need to know your audience on a deep and personal level to make your business a successful one.
What do they do?
Do they have a family? (Kids? Pets? House? Suburbs? Urban? In the "sticks"?)
What do they like? What interests them?
What don't they like?*
What are their goals in life? In business?
Now, where the "passion principle" comes in is the doozy.
Because there seems to be an anti-passion train people are jumping on board of, left and right.
I've read: "I worked my passion in retail clothes and wound up hating it. It was more like accounting than fashion". And, "I never made any money doing what I love, and I really need to make money".
Yes, some passions aren't profitable. But many are.
(I'll write about this soon, promise.)
Whether you're doing what you love or simply doing it for the money, it all comes back to the same thing:
There's no money without them. There's no passion project without them.
So, what do they want and how will you give it to them?
If you have an audience right now (no matter how mixed and jumbled it might be) start there.
Check your [Google] Analytics for interests, buying habits, content they engage with most, and more.
Take a product or a project idea you have and search for similar products on Amazon. Takes notes on the description of the product offered (including everything that comes with it). Takes notes on the comments and on some of the complaints, shared challenges and frustrations, and what other's enjoyed about the product.
If you're new or want to explore your niche more, you can:
Search for your main keywords and explore your top "competitors" and their audiences—the people you want on your email list.
Dig into those Amazon product comments using the same niche keywords you used to find and explore your competitors with.
Key 2. Have A Single Goal For Everything You Create (And See It Through)
If you write a blog post with the intention to sell an eBook, section out a chapter for free and use that as the opt-in freebie to incentivize more buyers.
Or, simply make the focus on the product itself.
If your goal is to earn email subscribers, create a niche-specific freebie or email series focused on what you offer. And use that as your opt-in offer.
You should only have *one* focus for every single page you have on your website.
your about page
your "Start Here" page
Every. Single. Page.
Why? Because when you slap your audience with a bunch of different offers, it's overwhelming.
It's like perusing Amazon without an agenda. Or even walking through the grocery store without a shopping list (and you forgot what the heck you went there for).
You either spend way too much money and wind up with buyer's remorse. Or you feel overwhelmed by how many choices there are and wind up forgetting why you're even at the store...
(Or, the most common problem: You get a whole bunch of stuff yet forgot to get the thing you went to the store for in the first place.)
Your visitors need you to tell them what to do. They need you to simplify and guide them through the process.
So, if your intention with a new piece of content is to earn email subscribers—you know, to start building that relationship and trust—then make your focus that email opt-in.
If you want a sale, focus on the product you're trying to sell.
But never forget to...
Key 3. Tell Your Visitors What To Do
We're not being the bossy bully in grade school here.
We're helping your audience to make a decision.
Decision-makers get shit done. They're doers.
And I'm telling you from rock solid experience here, that you want doers on your email list. You want them as your customers and clients.
These are the people who don't sit back and hope and dream they did "X" in their lives.
Nope, they did it. No matter how bloodied and bruised they got.
Were they scared? Sure! But they did it anyways.
These people are your best engagers, your highest quality subscribers, and your best customers.
So, help more of your visitors to be decision makers.
They can't make a decision if you don't offer them the chance to.
And if it's not strongly worded, it doesn't grasp the attention of those doers.
So, when you're creating a call-to-action (CTA)—whether it's an opt-in, a product or service to buy, or a request to comment or share—tell them what to do.
EXAMPLES: You can use something like:
What 7-day cleanse got you the best results? Tell me in the comments below. Why it works? It's opening up for a conversation. It's direct and detailing specifics: "7-day cleanse" instead of "what diet". It's encouraging focused comments that add to the content.
[Button] Reserve Your Free 5-Page Website Review Now. Why it works? It's direct. It details what they're getting. It uses "Reserve" instead of "Get" to give a sense of urgency and value. It puts a limit on the potential work with "5-Page..." to allow the reviewer the opportunity to sell a full site review package—or whatever upgrade they want to include with the offer.
Here are some real life homepage examples from top content marketers. (Click on an image to blow it up.):
No matter what you use, make sure you're delivering on the value promised. Heck, over-deliver and under promise.
(That's my motto, at least.)
If you're offering anything free, make sure you're using an email sequence to build trust with your new subscriber and generate sales.
Because we're all in business to make money. Your visitors should know that—whether they want to admit it or not. (It's more about the "tactic" you'll use to get those sales that matters—we'll talk about this soon.)
SUGGESTED: 6 Important Pieces Your Website Is Missing
Okay, so what's next?
You need to:
Know what your audience wants or needs, and find the simplest and easiest way to fulfill it for them.
Have one, single purpose, goal or focus for every single page, offer, and blog post.
Tell your visitors what to do and guide them to a valuable and satisfactory conclusion.
These 3 fundamental keys will help you unlock unending potential in your business.
Start by taking a look at the audience you have. And if you're new, look into your competitors' audiences.
Those audiences carry most all of your ideal target readers, followers, and customers, anyhow.
You can use surveys or personal, direct emails with some of your top customers and engagers, and ask questions. Ask them specific, personable, and open-ended questions.
Let them talk and talk all they want.
(Yes, that means even scheduling actual phone calls to chat with them.)
Most of the time you'll want them to agree to a chat or survey without anything in return.
Keep in mind that if you offer them something for their time (beforehand) many of your answers will be skewed by people just wanting to get the freebie.
So, what'll you do first?
Peruse some of your latest sales receipts to snag some emails? Peruse your email list? Jump into comments on a competitor's blog post?
No matter where, do this now. (You'll thank yourself for it after your first eye-opening interview.)
P.S. Comments, emails, running a business and being a mom of 3 were just too much for me to handle. So, blog comments got the boot. But the lack of a comment box doesn't mean I don't want to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with me via @GoffCreative on Twitter or directly via email.
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