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. Open bait.
“35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone and that 69% of email recipients report an email as spam solely based on the subject line.” Ty Rothstein, on the over-the-top, can’t-over-emphasize-this-enough importance of writing email subject lines that get people to open your emails (and how, exactly, to go about creating them.) Out of the 47 things (roughly speaking) that you have to do right in order to win at the online business game, I would put “writing compelling email subject lines that cause people to open your emails” in the top 5 most important things to focus on. You’ll hear this a hundred times if you study online marketing long enough: the money is in your email list. It’s absolutely true…but only if the people on your list open your emails.
+ From the Convince and Convert blog: 4 Adjectives That Should Dominate Your Email Subject Lines
2. Burning down the social house.
“The report states a simple fact that too many content marketers ignore in 2015: “If you can’t get a message to your audience, you can’t very well market to them.” Facebook reach for top brands’ posts was just 2% of their fans in 2014, and that number will only decrease further this year.” That’s Social Media Today’s Augie Ray on some eye-opening data that shows, once and for all, that organic reach on social media is dead. Reaching your audience with content marketing, lifestyle posts, or even worse, posts promoting your products, has become a paid advertising only game. You can no longer reach more than a tiny sliver of your social media audience without paying to reach them. After watching our own organic reach in social media decline along with everyone else’s (and getting just as frustrated as anyone about it), I can say without hesitation that Ray’s post is THE MOST important post on social media for businesses that I’ve read in 2015.
The bottom line is this: burn your entire social media strategy to the ground and build it up from scratch, based on the latest data that shows how people actually want to be engaged with by businesses on social media. Using social media to grow your business isn’t dead, but the way in which most people have been trying to do it most certainly is.
Two apps, Periscope and Meerkat, are adding greatly to the meteoric rise in everyday people creating live streaming videos, effectively allowing anyone to become a TV broadcaster. Dave Murrow, from Vertical Measures, says that “This phenomenon of everyday broadcasting is turning mobile phone users into solo broadcasters, sharing everything from weekend athletic events and nightclub action, to bicycle riding and scenic beach scenes. It’s nirvana for attention seekers.” Similar things were said about Facebook and Twitter when they were on the rise. And as with Facebook and Twitter, Periscope is already being used to grow businesses via content marketing. Murrow’s post has some great examples of how to use Periscope in your content marketing. Better jump on it now, before Periscope starts monetizing via ads. Once they do that, you won’t be able to reach anyone via Periscope without paying. Wheee…it’s another round of the content marketing on social media! I’ll choose door 3, Bob!
4. Revenge of the nerds.
“Business experts on your terms. Describe your need and our 10,000+ experts compete to help you. You’ll receive bids within hours for free.” So goes the headline copy on the homepage of a great service for small business entrepreneurs: Hourly Nerd. From researching a market to starting a business to growing it to managing it to selling it…you can find an expert to hire on a project basis to give you consulting. Now all I need is someone to make something like this for parents.
+ Here’s a similar service that’s been around for several years. It’s called Clarity. I’ve used this service before, and it’s pretty freaking amazing. You can get on the phone with some of the biggest, most well-known, successful entrepreneurs in the world (if you’re willing to pay their per-minute rate), and ask them for advice on what to do in your business.
5. I’ll have the sampler platter.
“The sample alone forces your brain to focus and taste. And if your product or service is as good as you think it is, you’ll notice an instant change in a potential customer’s perception. The prospect is far more likely to pick up your product, use it — and then come back for more.” That’s Sean D’Souza, from Psychotactics, on why giving samples of your online products and programs is a vital part of growing your business. Samples work brilliantly. My waist has grown by two pant sizes because of Whole Foods samples.
6. And the Slackers shall inherit the earth.
“But the biggest way in which Slack will help you with your business goals? Developing solid connections with qualified leads. Chatting with people every day in an exclusive, yet pretty laid-back, atmosphere is a fantastic way to develop strong relationships.” That’s Aja Frost, from the Bufferapp Blog, on a new use for an insanely popular live chat and team collaboration app called Slack: using Slack chat rooms to do content marketing. Turns out that people on the internet like chatting live with other like-minded people in smaller groups than the 1.6 billion people on Facebook.
7. One list to rule them all.
Here’s some incredible, curated lists of resources for online marketers. It’s called Marketing Stack…and I just got lost in there for 30 minutes. Prepare to have part of your day disappear as you discover a bunch of new, useful things to grow your business.
8. The heart of selling.
“Having to sell makes many of us feel queasy. We fidget. We procrastinate. And we wish we weren’t in business. We wish that someone else would do the selling for us! Perhaps you worry you may come across as pushy. So you water down your messages. You want to be nice. And the result is that people don’t even realize what you offer.” That’s Henneke Duistermaat, in a guest post on the Big Brand System blog, on something that many of us struggle with when getting into the game of making money online: selling anything makes us feel slimy and icky and used car salesman-ish. Blech.
But to sell is human, as Daniel Pink posits in his book by the same name, and in this post, Henneke summarizes a bit of Pink’s book (which I highly recommend reading, by the way), while also giving a handful of great tips on how to sell without feeling like a schmuck. We are selling ideas all the time as soon as we learn to talk, (I can confirm this because I live with a professional 7-year old salesman), so why not learn to do it in a way that feels less icky? Your business dreams depend on it, so go. Go and sell with heart.
9. The life of a sellsword.
“Since I launched in 2013 full-time, Business Casual Copywriting has generated over $230,000 in profit and more than that in revenue.” This is Joel Kletke, explaining what happened when he left his comfortable job with one big goal in mind: earn as much, if not more, from being a freelance copywriter than he was earning at his day job. He quickly reached his goal and then surpassed it…just by writing words for his clients. There is serious money in freelance copywriting, but it’s not easy. If you’re curious about this path as an option for you to earn money, have a read of Joel’s post. He’ll take you inside of what it took to reach $230,000 a year in profit from just writing words.
10. Pen sans paper.
I don’t know about you, but I type so much on my computer and phone that I’m forgetting how to use a pen. If I write a long birthday card letter, my hand cramps after three sentences. What’s worse is that my handwriting seems to keep devolving to previous stages. It’s currently at the third-grade level. And yet, I miss the experience of writing with my hand (I’ve got 20 journals full of my writings from earlier years, pre-computer.) If you miss writing like me, but still enjoy your technology, take a look at this digital pen, called Phree. You can draw or write on any surface, and whatever you write instantly appears on your phone or tablet. Maybe it will magically turn my chicken scratch handwriting into something that doesn’t look like a 3rd grader trying to learn to write.
I hope you’re well and getting things done on this fine Monday (or Tuesday if you’re on the other side of the planet from where I sit in Colorado.) And as always, I hope that you’ve found a couple things in this week’s issue that will help with some aspects of growing your business that have been on deck for you lately. It’s kind of crazy how many pieces and parts there are to creating an online business that generates enough money to support you and your family, eh?
The pile of details and things to learn…it’s huge. But know that you’re not alone. We’re all trying to figure out how to do it all. Hopefully this Signals in the Noise newsletter has helped you in some way with your own figuring out process. If it has, I’d love it if you share something about this issue with your friends. You never know, you might reach another entrepreneur out there who’s having a hard time, and maybe there’s a little something in here that might help them.
Here are a few links to make the sharing easy:
Thank you deeply if you do share something. _/|_
Until next time, may you kick some serious ass in your business.
Signals in the Noise
p.s. You can find the archives of past issues right here.