Signals in the Noise – Issue 11

For two and a half years, every two weeks I sifted through over 140 blog posts and podcasts that talk about how to build successful online businesses. I found the best content, summarized it, added a bit of my commentary, and delivered it to the inboxes of entrepreneurs around the world…for free. I’m no longer writing Signals in the Noise issues (because my business partners and I are focusing on other parts of Clarity Lab), but please enjoy these archived issues. There’s a ton of useful information in them!


1. Lend a helping hand.

This one isn’t directly related to helping you build and grow your business, but I don’t feel right just launching into my weekly writings without acknowledging the major, devastating event that just happened in Nepal.

If you follow world news, or you’re on Facebook, you’re well aware of the large earthquake that shook Nepal on Saturday, and the thousands that have died as a result of the quake. My heart goes out to all of the families affected by this tragedy. If you feel moved, please join me in making a donation to Charity:Water’s Help Nepal Heal fund. Wish I could fly over there and do something more to help than make a donation…


2. Asking all the right questions.

“I used to do audio interviews, and because I couldn’t shut up after I asked these questions, I said, ‘I’m going to ask the tough question, the one that I feel embarrassed about, and then I’m going to hit the mute button,’” says Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy, a site with hundreds of fascinating interviews with big name entrepreneurs. “And it’s embarrassing to say, but I put my hand on my mouth to just kind of squeeze something, to take away some of the awkwardness that I felt at the time, and I just shut up.” He’s talking about something that many people, myself included, struggle with: how to create compelling, fascinating interviews.

At the crux of the challenge is knowing what kinds of questions are the best questions to ask (and when to just shut up and listen.) This seems to be true of socializing and doing small talk as well, which is another symptom of my problem (which may just be a result of my introverted nature). I often can’t think of interesting questions to ask fast enough.

+ Sara Green, an expert interviewer from Harvard Business Review, has some great insights on how to ask the right questions in interviews. Light bulb moment: if I learn to be a better interviewer, I might not want to hide in the car at weddings.


3. It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the impending doomsday known as “mobilegeddon.” It’s an awkward name, but, you have to call it something and that name caught on.

On April 21st, Google started rolling out big changes to their search algorithms. The upshot is that if your site isn’t a mobile friendly website that changes its layout and navigation for tiny screens, then you’ll start getting penalized by Google-god. Your search engine results position for keywords you’ve been ranking well for will start dropping, pushing you further and further back in the search results.

For example, if you have a dog grooming shop in St. Louis, when someone searches for “dog grooming shop St. Louis” on their phone, if your site isn’t mobile friendly you won’t rank nearly as well as you used to for that keyword phrase. That means you’ll lose traffic, customers, and thus revenue. When people do the same search on a laptop or desktop, you’ll be fine. It’s just mobile searches where you’ll get penalized.

So, unless you want to get a big smack from Google, you need a mobile friendly site…ASAP. Here’s a Google tool you can use to check to see if your site is mobile friendly.

If your site is on WordPress and you’re not using a responsive theme (that’s another way to say “mobile friendly”), here’s an AMAZING plugin that will save your ass. It’s called WP Touch. It’s $70, and it works really well. I just bought, installed it, configured it, and tested it for our Art of Money site. In an hour, I had a mobile friendly site for $70, and it easily passed that Google mobile friendly test above.

That buys us as much time as we need to get our new, super beautiful, natively mobile friendly website up, which will take 3 or 4 months to complete. I can’t recommend WPTouch enough. It’s one of the coolest, most useful WordPress plugins I’ve ever used, and it almost instantly pays for itself.

+ Here’s an FAQ from Google about Mobilegeddon (though they don’t call it that.)


4. The Lean Fart-up.

“About a week and a half ago, I began drinking Soylent every day. I can’t recommend that you do the same. For a purported breakthrough with such grand plans for reshaping the food industry, I found Soylent to be a punishingly boring, joyless product.” That’s Farhad Manjoo, of the New York Times, on his eating experiment with Soylent, a relatively new food replacement drink that has been engineered to contain all of the essential nutrients a human body needs.

Founded in the San Francisco startup world by Robert Rhinehart and a team of other startup folks, Soylent is designed to make food preparation fast, easy, and much cheaper than regular food. The primary motivation for creating it seems to be creating more time…to work on building your startup company.

There’s two hitches though: 1) it tastes like blended up napkins and water, and 2) it seems to cause a lot of bloating and gas for many people.

I bought a week’s worth of Soylent 1.4 (yes, it has version numbers, just like software), and it’s definitely causing digestion problems for me.

I bought it to see if it could save me some time that I could spend on building my businesses, or spending with my family. But between the gas and the bland flavor, I can’t keep drinking this kool aid.

A sommelier in the video at the top of this New York Times article nailed it: “If this was the only thing available on Earth to survive on, then what would be the point of living?”


5. Let’s do a math.

What follows isn’t complicated, but it is important. So important. Join me on a short journey and let some simple math point out one of the most important, and often overlooked, parts of your customer’s buying journey. At the end of this little mental experiment, I’ll show you one of the easiest ways to greatly increase your businesses revenue. Put your math hat on. Here we go.

Let’s say you have an email list of 5,000 people and you’re about to send out a series of emails to your list to launch a new 6 week, $297 online program you’re going to teach. For the sake of this example, let’s keep this as an internal launch, which is a launch you run just to your list, with no affiliates promoting your program to their lists or social media followers.

Let’s say you’re going to send three total emails for your launch, and that your average open rate (the percentage of people on your list who open your emails and read them) is 30%. Many online businesses have a lower average open rate, but let’s be generous in this example.

30% of 5,000 is 1,500. So, I’m saying that on average, you can expect that out of these three emails you’ll send, about 1,500 people on your list will open them. Now, it’s not going to be the same 1,500 people that open all of these emails, so let’s say you manage to get another 500 people from your list who open at least one of the three emails.

Of the 2,000 people who open these emails, then, let’s say that an average of 5% of them will click on the link, or links, in your emails that lead them either to free content you’re publishing for your launch, or to a sales page on your website for your program. That 5% is the “click through” rate. The average click-through rate for online businesses selling information products tends to run between 3% and 8%. So, 5% is a good middle of the road example.

A 5% click-through rate means that of the 2,000 people who open your emails, only 100 of them will make it over to the content on your site. To keep things simple, let’s just say that the main call to action for all of your emails is to have them eventually arrive at the sales page for your program, even if they get to consume some amazing free content along the way.

Of the 100 people who make it to your sales page, let’s say that 7% of those people buy your $297. This 7% is the conversion rate of your sales page, or, taking a broader view, the overall conversion rate of your whole launch content funnel. Typical average conversion rates for information products range between 2% and 12%. If you got a 7% conversation rate, you’d be very happy. Believe me. 7% of 100 people is 7 sales, which is a total of $2,079.

So, from a list of 5,000 people, with good open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, you’d be looking at 7 sales. (You’d likely have a handful more because some of your fans will probably share something about your program on social media, which can generate a bit more traffic and sales for you.)

You can adjust some of those numbers and run the process yourself if you like, but here’s the part of that buyer’s journey I’d like to highlight: your email open rates. It’s one of the places where, if you spend a little extra time creating more powerful email subject lines, you can greatly increase your sales. The more people that open your emails, the more sales you’ll make. Yes, there are many other places on the buyer’s journey where you must focus on to increase your sales, but right now, I just want to focus on increasing your email open rates.

The best way to do it? Learn to write persuasive headlines and use them in your email subject lines. This is one of the most often overlooked part of the buyer’s journey, but thankfully, it’s also one of the easiest and quickest areas to fix.

Here’s some great resources that I return to over and over again when writing headlines and email subject lines:

How to Write Magnetic Headlines

30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles, and Emails

The Dark Science Of Naming Your Post : Based On Studying 100 Blogs

How I Write Effective Post Titles (and Why it Takes Hours)

Emotional Headlines Get Shared More On Social Media [Conclusive Proof]


6. Better than Perez Hilton.

“Most people have heard of the success of Perez Hilton’s blog and that he makes somewhere between $200,000 to $400,000 each month blogging about the latest celebrity gossip. Success stories like Hilton’s might make the prospect of earning a fortune blogging seem real, but the truth is that it is hard work and not very many crack that six figure per month mark. Still, you can make a decent living from blogging, if you know how to go about it.” That’s Jerry Low, in a guest post on Problogger. He lays out how much money you can make blogging, and five ways to make your blog profitable, even without having a product of your own.

Making six-figures a month from a blog is hard, but even if you make $5,000 a month from blogging and you’re helping people to live a more enjoyable, meaningful life, you’ll be making a far better contribution to society than Perez.


7. Speaking of wasting your time.

If you find that you have trouble getting in super productive work days because the pull of distracting websites is too strong for you to overcome, give this Self Control app a try.  The app is clever enough that if you try to reset it, or even delete it and restart your computer, it still won’t let you access sites you told it you didn’t want to have access to, for the period of time you set it to block you. I need an app like that to keep me away from blueberry muffins.

+ Here’s something a little less extreme: Rescue Time. It tracks what sites you spend time on each day and prints out reports showing you how productive you were in any given work period. I’ve used this one before, and it works great.


8. Power to the feminine.

If you’re just starting out and can’t afford to hire a graphic designer to help you create the exact style of website, logo, and social media branding you want, it can be hard to find pre-designed themes or graphics to match the look you’re going for…especially if that look is more feminine. In my search for design inspiration for a new website we’re about to have made, I came across Creative Market.  They have a beautiful collection of fonts, logos, and website themes that are not only feminine, but also well designed.

+ Another great, affordable source of feminine style WordPress theme designs that I’ve used for many projects over the years: Elegant Themes.


9. Game of Stepping Stones.

“Each month hundreds of new blog posts, articles, and case studies are being published by people all around the world on the topic. That seems like a good thing, right? There’s a lot you can soak up and learn. But here’s the problem: how do you know who to trust, where to start, what actually works, and how to apply what you learn to your own business?” That’s Sujan Patel and Rob Wormley on the problem of finding the tactics that actually work within the deluge of content published about growth hacking.

If you’re not familiar with that term, “growth hacking” is an approach to growing a business that comes from the startup world. It’s a low cost, creative, and data driven approach to marketing and growing your business that can be used even if you’re not a tech startup.

Patel and Wormley created a meaty and super practical guide to 100 of the best growth hacking methods that they’ve personally tested in various companies. There’s many things in the guide that are a bit too aggressive for my marketing taste, but there’s also a ton of gems in here, many of which I’ve had great success with myself.


10. Rage against the machine.

“A Colorado man finally had enough of his troublesome computer Monday and did what pretty much everyone has fantasized about: He shot and killed it…Under most circumstances, it is illegal to fire a gun in Colorado Springs. [But] there is no law on the books about machine homicide, police said.” That’s a report from the LA Times about a man who reached his limit with the amount of problems his Windows based PC was giving him. He said that despite the ticket from the police, “It was glorious. Angels sang on high.” Maybe he’ll realize that those angels were actually the helpful folks at the local Apple store. Time to switch to a Mac, dude. No guns required.
Thank you kindly for spending some time with me in today’s issue. Sure hope you find some gems in here to help you on the path of building and growing your business.


Thank you kindly for spending some time with me in today’s issue. Sure hope you find some gems in here to help you on the path of building and growing your business.

If you like this issue of Signals in the Noise, I’d be ever-so-grateful if you could help me spread the word about it by sharing something about it with your friends. Here’s a few links for you to make it easy peezy lemon squeezy:

Share this on Facebook

Share this on Twitter

Share this on Google+

I hope you have a truly mind-blowingly awesome week.

Work smart. Get things done. Change the world.

~Forest Linden
Signals in the Noise

p.s. You can find the archive of past issues right over here.

best software