Archive for the ‘Business & Marketing’ Category

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Thursday, October 12th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

I’m not sure Leeds City Council have quite mastered this marketing thing yet…

How reliable is MailChimp tracking?

Saturday, September 30th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

When you send an email newsletter with a provider such as MailChimp, Aweber, etc, they give you a report on who opens your emails. But how accurate are these numbers?

I had the opportunity to test this recently.

It’s good practice to clear your email list periodically because email providers use open rates to access whether your email is spam or not. So, if you have a lot of old, inactive addresses on your list, or it’s going into people’s spam box and they’re not seeing it, it is a good idea to remove them so that it does not affect email delivery to the people who are reading your emails.

How I tested it

For two lists I had, I created a segment who had not opened the last five emails we sent them.

I then sent these people an email saying “are you receiving this?”, inviting people who still wanted to receive the email me back. Anyone who did this would indicate that the numbers are not accurate.

Here are the results…

West Yorkshire Humanists

We had 120 people on the list. 36 had not interacted with the last five campaigns.

Of those, 11% read and 6% clicked the email. This suggests that people are receiving my regular emails but choosing not to read them.

An additional four people emailed me to say they wanted to continue to receive the email. This suggests that the tracking statistics are out by a significant amount. This is because this is just the people who were bothered to email me back; how many were in the same situation but didn’t bother to?

Anxiety Leeds

We had 256 people on the list. 100 had not interacted with the last five campaigns.

7 people emailed me to say they would like to continue receiving the emails.

Again, this is probably only a selection of the people who are receiving the emails and not being tracked.

Conclusion

The open rate tracking provided by MailChimp, and likely other email providers, is a useful guide to see campaign to campaign. However, it does not seem to be an accurate measure of who exactly is reading your email because many people are reading them but not reporting as having done so in the reports.

Unmissable podcast episodes for entrepreneurs and marketers

Friday, September 29th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

There are a lot of excellent podcasts out there. I could do a whole blog post on my favourites. But, in particular, there are a few episodes that really stand out as useful for entrepreneurs and marketers.

I’m only listing a few here, with a plan to expand this list over time.

How to Get 100,000 YouTube Subscribers

Noah Kagan is the founder of Sumo.com. In this episode, he interviews Tim Schmoyer, an expert on YouTube marketing.

Click here to listen.

Getting Inside Your Prospect’s Head

David Garfinkel is the star of the show in the Copywriters Podcast. Getting inside your prospect’s head is difficult and few people explain it well. I think Garfinkel has come the closest.

Click here to listen.

How To Build A Fanatical Tribe of Customers

Mike Dillard runs Self Made Man. In this episode, he interviews Russell Brunson, founder of Clickfunnels, and author of Dot Com Secrets.

Click here to listen.

Why would you advertise for people people?

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017 | Business & Marketing

This is the second of two blog posts about billboards. Life does not get any more exciting than this. Read part one here.

I ran up the canal. And for a long time, there was a First Direct billboard half way up my route that said: “people people wanted”. Every week I told myself I should take a photo of it. Finally, after a month, I resolved that this would be the day. So, I ran up there, pulled out my camera and… it had gone.

However, I recently saw this advert at the train station and it will illustrate my point just as well.

The headline reads…

Good with people? Then you’ll be great with us.

In both of these instances, it could be that they are just looking to drive some recruitment there way. And to an extent, it is. But there must be far more cost-effective ways of finding people than a billboard that targets everybody. Most people have a job, for example, and don’t work in customer services.

However, these advertisements serve a secondary purpose.

They are also value signalling. Not only do they advertise for friendly customer service people but they also say to everyone who reads it “why not come and bank with us – we care about getting friendly staff on board.”

Few people are people people looking to move into a different customer services role. But everybody would like a bank with friendlier customer services.

How Tesco created a brilliant billboard

Thursday, June 1st, 2017 | Business & Marketing

This image was on a billboard. You’ll have to take my word for it: it was on the inner ring road and being the responsible driver I am, I resisted the temptation to take a photo while driving at 40 mph (yes, of course I was only doing 40, officer).

But I had to post a (badly recreated) picture because it is brilliant marketing.

Why? Because the art of marketing is not about making a brilliant product and then finding some people to sell it to. It is about finding a problem that people have and designing a product to fix it.

And if you want to do it well, you have to zone in one particular pain point. Focus right in on the problem people are having and drive home that you have the solution.

What problem does almost every parent with a young child have? Trying to eat dinner. It’s impossible. Venla will not tolerate other people eating. I can’t remember the last time Elina and I ate at the same time because one of us has to bounce a baby.

Your best hope, indeed, your only hope, is to design food you can eat one handed. We don’t design around taste, or flavour, or type of cuisine: we optimise our menu for what we can eat one handed.

And Tesco has zeroed on on a problem that every young family faces and said “come buy food from us and your problem will be fixed.”

GetResponse review

Sunday, May 28th, 2017 | Business & Marketing, Tech

I use MailChimp for a lot of my projects. However, while it is awesome for most things, it does lack in automation. There are workflows, but they are pretty straight forward and linear affairs with no tagging: the only action is to send another email. There is no flow chart style interface, either.

So, I have been exploring other options. The first one I picked up is GetResponse. It is very reasonably priced in comparison to its competition with the basic package starting at $15 per month. Their site says, $10, but it’s actually £10 plus VAT, which is £12, which translates to $15.56 at time of writing.

Interface and workflow

I found the interface a little confusing. I was trying to edit my campaigns, for example. This is not in the menu. You have to click a little cog next to the campaigns drop-down. This shouldn’t be a big thing, but it took me ages to find it, and it was infuriating.

I also found the workflow a little confusing. You have to create a draft message. But then when you try and drag it into a workflow, it pops up a little box saying it has to copy it to the automation folder. Then I have two copies of the message. What is going on here?

And if you want to use Google Analytics integration, you can’t do that through automation. You have to use the newsletter editing screen and copy the message over to automation.

When you click exit on editing a message, you go back to the homepage, rather than the messages page. Again, not a huge thing, but it feels like the workflow for someone using it in the real world could use more attention (MailChimp isn’t brilliant at this, either).

The automation builder itself is really nice. You can drag and drop elements onto the page, such as messages or decisions, and configure the output easily. There are lots of options including tracking opens, clicks and specific link clicks, and re-arrange and add elements to your heart’s content.

Message editor

The editor itself is okay. It lets me edit the HTML directly, which I like. However, you have to generate a plain text version manually. There is a “Copy HTML” button, but this does not bring in the paragraphs, which you then have to fix manually. It doesn’t handle links very well either, in my opinion.

I could never get the inbox preview to work, but the test emails arrived soon enough.

User management and API

The user system and API are where I really struggled with GetResponse, though. You are unable to add tags to a user when you create them. This is frustrating when someone joins by making a purchase because you want to tag them with that purchase straight away.

You might think “oh, well I’ll have to create the user, then query for that user ID, then tag them, making three requests to the API. It’s not ideal, but it will work.” Except it won’t work. Because users are not added to your list in real-time. They are done via a queue. So if you query for a user immediately after creating them, they won’t be there.

They have a PHP library for the API, but it needs some work. It typecasts everything as an object. Even the arrays. So you end up with things like:

stdObject->0

PHP doesn’t allow this, so you have to JSON encode the object, and then JSON decode it to get back to:

stdObject->{"0"}

Even if you could add tags, there is no screen to allow you to manage them.

Support & live chat

They do offer 24/7 live chat. This was a mixed bag. The first time I spoke to them they confirmed there was no tag management screen and that they did not support the API, so would not be able to answer my question about that.

The second time I spoke to them was when their message editor was playing up. I was trying to edit the HTML, and every time it broke. It turns out that unless you select “HTML editor” when you first create the message, you are stuck. I had started with a template, and there is no way to switch. So I had to create a new message and copy it in. It was difficult to get the message across to the support agent, but eventually, we found ourselves on the same page and sorted out the issue.

Other problems

Copying things over is more difficult than it seems. GetResponse uses the session to track what message you are editing. This means that if you open one message, and then a second, it things you are editing the second message on both screens.

Let me explain this with a scenario:

  • I have message A, and I want to copy over the content from message B
  • I open message A
  • I open message B and copy and paste the content to message A
  • I click “save” on message A to save the new content
  • GetResponse thinks I am editing message B and overwrites the content of message B, ignoring message A

I lost a lot of content before I realised this. Luckily, I had backups on my computer.

And in case you’re thinking an easy way to avoid this would be to duplicate message B and then edit it, think again: there is no duplicate functionality.

Getting people into an automation workflow can be tough. You can filter what happens based on custom fields. However, this doesn’t work on the initial subscription: it only works when you go in and edit the custom field of the user. Which is not very automated.

Other features

GetResponse also offers landing pages, webinars and some other stuff. I watched a webinar about their webinars, but I haven’t tried any of these systems because I just want the mailing list functionality. It might be great.

Summary

I love GetResponse’s automation builder. The drag and drop interface makes it easy to create an email sequence that follows what people do and delivers them relevant messages. It is powerful and shows you how many people are at each point.

But that is where my love ends. Coming from MailChimp, where everything is beautiful and works well, GetResponse has a lot of issues. There are so many problems that working with it becomes infuriating, undoing much of the power that the automation functionality should be adding in.

Ultimately, you can launch a simple automation workflow that is more advanced than MailChimp. However, there are so many bugs, dead-ends and limits to what would otherwise be a great tool, that you don’t get much advantage.

How much does all the marketing tools cost you?

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

Marketing is an expensive business. There are so many invaluable tools out there that you need. Of course, they do in fact all have a value. And a price. How much would it cost to get all of them? Find out below.

But to spoil the ending: the answer is a lot. Even if you are writing your own copy, doing your own graphic design, doing all of the content, emailing, admin yourself, the cost of all the tools alone is significant. And this doesn’t include stuff like web hosting, CDNs and other “technical” things.

I have listed the marketing tools that people talk about a lot. There are many others, of course, and some of these are specific: you may not do webinars, for example. But many marketers do, so I’ve included it.

Market research

Service Cost
Semrush $79 per month
Alexa $50 per month
Ahrefs $99 per month
Moz $99 per month
Buzzsumo $99 per month

Content production

Service Cost
Piktochart $29 per month
Wistia $99 per month
WebinarJam $397 per year

Free alternatives: YouTube Live gives you everything you need to do a webinar, including recording it.

Content posting

Service Cost
Meet Edgar $79 per month
Buffer $9 per month
EverWebinar $497 per year

Free alternatives: Buffer has a free plan. Recurpost does the same thing as Meet Edgar.

Facebook marketing

Service Cost
Many Chat $15 per month
AdExpresso $49 per month

Free alternatives: Many Chat has a free plan with branding. You can just manage your ads yourself using the Facebook Power Editor.

Email marketing

Service Cost
Infusionsoft $199 per month
MailChimp $10 per month
Aweber $19 per month
ConvertKit $29 per month
GetResponse $15 per month
Drip $49 per month

Free alternatives: MailChimp has a free plan.

Landing pages

Service Cost
Lead Pages $37 per month
ClickFunnels $97 per month
Unbounce $49 per month

Opt-in tools

Service Cost
Hello Bar $4.95 per month
OptinMonster $19 per month

Free alternatives: Hello Bar as a free plan.

Session recording

Service Cost
Crazy Egg $108 per year

Free alternatives: Inspectlet and FullStory both have free plans.

Summary

Some marketers have a lot of these tools: maybe one from each category. Others seem to have ALL of them. And the prices I have listed here are just the cheapest paid plans. Semrush, for example, starts at $79 per month. But if you want to track all o your websites, you will be looking at around $500 per month.

Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that people are spending thousands of dollars per month on marketing tools. And for the big marketers, they are spending tens of thousands.

If you are bringing home the bacon, it is money well spent. If you are just starting out, try the free alternatives I have listed.

The perils of being an entrepreneur

Monday, May 15th, 2017 | Business & Marketing, Life

Starting your own business it tough. Every day you run into problems that seem insurmountable. If I had £1 for every time, I had run into something that made me want to scream “ah, we’re fucked, this entire project is fucked” I would have a very viable business.

At every turn, you discover that you have to constantly raise your game and execute at a higher level. It’s like repeatedly being punched in the gut and told to get up and try harder.

Good audio is hard

Take my video courses, for example. I don’t shoot with cheap stuff. I have a full-frame SLR camera and a Rode shotgun microphone that mounts on the top.

But Udemy rejected my videos. They said there was too much echo on the video. By this point, I had already filmed an entire course. I should have used single-piece flow, as The Lean Startup advocates. But, in my defence, I did this originally, and only came up with the idea of also selling on Udemy later.

Nevertheless, I set about recording the video with a lav mic instead. This too failed. To get the focus correct, I need to monitor it on my laptop. But this sends the laptop fan into overdrive, noise that the lav mic picks up.

Funnels gone wrong

How hard is it sell on the internet? First, try giving your stuff away, and see how hard that is.

The answer is really hard. In March, I launched registration for Worfolk Anxiety’s 30-Day Challenge. A month of free coaching: who could say no? A lot of people, apparently. Initial acquisition costs were £10 per person. People would click the ad, read the entire long-form sales letter about what we were offering, and then leave.

This cost eventually came way down, to the point where it was averaging less than £1 for the entire campaign. I tweaked the copy, and the targeting and we saw better results.

Rejected ads

The problems with the funnel only arrived after I had already faced down one disaster. Having designed the ads, set the targeting and built the landing pages I proudly hit submit on the Facebook ads to turn them on.

And Facebook said “no”.

They don’t allow adverts to do with mental health. The reason is that Facebook knows way too much about you. But they don’t want to admit they have way more data on you than the NSA. So they don’t let advertisers mention it.

All of my beautiful copy using personal and friendly language had to be scraped and replaced by cold and impersonal statements. No wonder my acquisition costs were so high.

I could go elsewhere for the ads, of course. In fact, I tried. I went to Pinterest. But a bug in their software meant that you couldn’t create an audience in the UK.

Failed payments

There was one light at the end of the tunnel: someone went through my sales funnel, clicking on a newsletter ad, signing up, completing the double opt-in, hitting the tripwire page and deciding to take advantage of the hefty discount on my book that I offer new subscribers.

And then the payment failed.

Not just failed but failed silently. None of my error reporting picked anything up. Stripe didn’t pick anything up. The session recordings did not pick anything up.

I had lost my first sale on the project, and I didn’t even know why. I tried it with my own credit card, and it worked fine.

That was a crushing day. Luckily, someone else bought it the next day, and the feeling of making your first sale on any project is ecstasy. It’s amazing.

Sailing the sea of troubles

I picked out a few examples of the “oh shit” moments I’ve had over the past few months. But there have been loads more.

Phoney copyright claims against my YouTube videos, holding them hostage. 40% of people not clicking the double opt-in email. Heroku outages. Facebook custom audiences being filled with incorrect data. Bloggers never answering your emails. Apple refusing to give you a sandbox account to test Apple Pay.

Every day you run into things that stop you in your tracks.

But then you find a way a past them. Or a compromise. Or change strategy. Or just pick yourself up, shrug it off, and find a different way to move forward.

This process has to make you more resilient. It teaches you that all is not lost.

Which 30-Day landing page converted better?

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017 | Business & Marketing

Throughout April, Worfolk Anxiety has been running a 30-Day Challenge to help people reduce their anxiety. We ran ads for it and to make sure we got the most out of the ads, we ran three different versions of the landing page as a split test.

But which got the most people to sign up?

(more…)

How to Write a Good Advertisement

Monday, May 8th, 2017 | Books, Business & Marketing

In How To Write A Good Advertisement: A Short Course in Copywriting Victor O. Schwab lays out a systematic approach to writing killer ads. That process is:

  1. Grab attention
  2. Show them the advantage
  3. Prove it
  4. Persuade people to grasp this advantage
  5. Ask for action

Each section is broken down into individual chapters. There are a lot of examples. In fact, one of the earlier chapters is just a list of a hundred effective headlines.

There is a lot of useful information in here. More importantly, it is presented in a logical narrative without the distraction of jumping around or confusing diversions.