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!
It’s me, Forest, bringing you this week’s box of goodness that I’ve hand assembled for you. Things to help you grow your business. Things to set your mind on fire. Things to make your heart sing.
If you’ve been following along with the growth of this curated newsletter experiment I’ve been running over the past few weeks, you may have noticed that this newsletter as a whole hasn’t really had a name. But people have been loving them. So I’m making more. Seems like it should be called something sexier than “Clarity Lab’s Weekly Curated Content Newsletter.” (Yawn.)
Well, the fledgling newsletter has a name now: Signals In The Noise.
Why that name? Because the internet is a cacophony of content noise. No matter what world you enter online, you’ll find so many blog posts and podcasts and videos and free reports that it literally feels like noise in your head.
Noise is not helpful when you’re trying to build a business to support you and your family.
Thankfully, there’s weirdos like me who LOVE to dive head first into the noise and hunt for the signals: the high quality content that can actually help you.
Here’s the results of this week’s hunt. The Signals In The Noise…
Signals In the Noise Weekly Content Roundup – Issue #3
1. Validate before you activate.
If you don’t do this at the beginning of your business building journey, you can easily end up in that group of 50% of new businesses that fail. That one thing? Is validating the idea for your product or service before you ever start creating it or offering it.
It’s painful to watch new entrepreneurs pour their hearts into creating something for months, or even a year or more, and then see them launch to the sound of crickets. I most likely don’t know you, but I really don’t want to see this happen to you. Please, if you do one thing differently as a result of reading these newsletters, let it be this: validate your idea before you spend any time and money on creating a product or service to offer to your target market.
You need to find out if the people in your market actually want the thing you’re going to offer…and want it enough to pay for it. The best way to find that out is to talk to a handful of people in your target market…people you don’t know. Here’s 5 steps to validate your business idea in the real world. Take some notes folks. Then go out and talk to people…
2. Facebook posts with photos have lost that lovin’ feeling.
It used to be that posts with photos on Facebook would get the most reach and engagement on Facebook business pages. Every site talking about best practices for reaching more people on Facebook would always list “make sure to put a beautiful image or quote card with your text-based posts” as one of the top ways to increase exposure and engagement. But things seem to be shifting.
“This chart shows how photos have actually become the post type least likely to reach audiences, while videos are much more likely to do so. [There’s] a 135% increase in organic reach, on average, when you post a video instead of a photo.” That’s Phillip Ross talking about the data that he and the folks at Social Bakers have been analyzing.
Based on their data, it seems that we’d all be better off if we started boosting video posts instead of paying to boost photo posts…until something else starts to shift in Facebook’s frustratingly mysterious world of reaching one’s audience on their platform. (Excuse me while I go bang my head against a wall.)
3. A business model that fits like your favorite shirt.
Okay, I have a confession to make. I LOVE designing and talking about business models. Building a business always feels like building an engine to me. If you design it and build it right, you end up with a beautiful, well-oiled engine that allows you to help many people alleviate some kind of problem in their life. And as a result, you get to live the kind of life you want to live.
There’s so many variables that go into building an efficient business engine. Choosing a business model that’s aligned with your personality is one of them. “Most of the people we meet who want to start a blog or podcast or business either have no idea how they’re going to make money or they’re too confident in some vague, doubtful scheme for revenue.” That’s the guys over at Fizzle, explaining why it’s so important to choose a business model that makes sense (and money) in a recent podcast episode.
4. Finding work you can fall in love with.
If you’re reading this newsletter, you’re most likely interested in doing work in the world that matters to you. Work that makes a difference in people’s lives. Work that feels fulfilling. I know I’m interested in that, but I’ve also seen first hand how difficult it can be to find truly fulfilling work. “How do you find a job that, on your deathbed, you won’t regret having devoted your professional life to?” That’s the folks over at The School of Life, who made a great short video about this.
I tortured myself for years trying to find my life purpose. I finally figured out that, at least for me, if I focused on helping others live happier lives by helping them solve a major problem, I’d feel fulfilled and on purpose. The great thing is that there’s many ways to do that, and if you make helping people solve a problem the focus of your business, you’ll never find yourself short on money.
5. How being sciencey can make you more money.
If you want to make a enough money with an online business so you can live the kind of lifestyle you dream of, you’ll need to pay a lot of attention to how well your content is performing, meaning, how well it’s persuading people to take actions that you want them to take on your website. For example: “How many people opened that last newsletter you sent? How many of those people clicked through to your sales page? Of those people who clicked through, how many clicked on the ‘Buy Now’ button? And from that group of people who decided to buy, how many actually made it all the way through to a successful payment?”
To increase the percentage of people that make it through each of those steps (more people going all the way through = more revenue), you need persuasive, compelling content to give them a reason to spend their money on what you’re selling (without having to resort to icky, aggressive marketing tactics.)
By “content,” I mean things like blog post headlines, email subject lines, blog posts, podcasts, videos, or sales page content. Here’s some scientific data to back up what I’m saying, and in that article, you’ll learn that what I just did in the first half of this sentence is a powerful tactic to make your content more persuasive.
6. The Price is Right.
What’s that? You love science too? Yay! Let’s do another science.
I’ve read things for years about many scientific studies showing that prices for products that end in precise numbers with decimals (like $99.47) convert better than rounded whole numbers (like $100). But recently, there’s new research that conflicts with that conventional wisdom.
“[The] researchers found that the way the price was expressed “felt right” if it matched the way customers were thinking about the purchase. Rounded prices, like $100, matched purchasing decisions that were driven by emotion. Non-rounded prices, on the other hand, felt better when the purchase decision was a logical evaluation process (cognition).”
Other conventional marketing wisdom says that people always buy with their emotions first and then justify their purchase with their intellect. I’ve believed that for years, but it doesn’t mean it’s true for every consumer.
If some people make purchasing decisions based on emotions and some make those decisions based on logical thought processes, then how are we supposed to choose the right price for our products and services? The answer lies right here.
7. The Long and Short of It.
We’ve all seen them, or heard about them, or accidentally landed on one of them and clicked away from it as fast as we could: the long, long, long, super long, never ends, makes-your-finger-sore-from-scrolling long form sales page.
They’ve been leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths since people started selling things on the internet. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that some marketers use them as a means to play out their aggressive marketing tactics, which make most people feel icky and slimy.
Thus, long form sales pages became the used car salesman of the internet, complete with their own version of the horrendously tacky plaid pants: the gigantic, bright red leading headline that makes some preposterous claim about how you’ll be able to make $157,000 in the next 6 weeks, just like the guy who wrote the page did. Blech.
But here’s the thing: long form sales pages most often outperform shorter pages when two versions of a sales page are split tested against one another. And by “outperform,” I mean, they convert better…make the business owner more money.
In this post, Joanna Wiebe, of Copyhackers, tells us that long form sales pages don’t need to be ugly, or aggressive. You can create beautiful looking, non-old school, anti-giant-red-headline long form sales pages by building a new version of them, called “hybrid long form sales pages.” They’re “hybrid” because they have some elements of old-school long form sales pages, and some elements of high converting video sales pages. Check out a lovely explanatory infographic on what they can look like, right here.
+ Pratik Dholakiya has some slightly different data about which sales page type (long or short) wins most often. For him, it depends. For some products and some audiences, long form does perform better in split tests. But for other products and other audiences, short form sales pages perform much better. Since they can both perform well, why not use both? Pratik says that it comes down to WHO is reading the sales page: someone who wants less information or someone who wants more information about your product or service.
8. Let not your inbox rule your life.
Email. The more your businesses revenue stream is based on things that happen online, the more email you’ll have to deal with as part of your work. It’s a very big, very frustrating problem for most online entrepreneurs.
Here’s three no bullshit rules to follow if you want to keep your inbox from slowing down the growth of your business (and the amount of happiness you feel in life) from one of my favorite copywriters and marketers, Ash Ambirge, who runs an outstanding blog called The Middle Finger Project.
+ Or, try this, From Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits: How to practically manage the deluge of email and bring some sanity into your work days.
+ And here’s a tool to help you implement all of these inbox tactics: Mail Pilot. I’m right on the edge of buying this one and taking it for a spin myself. I have a pretty good system going with my Gmail inbox, and I often feel that email apps like Mail Pilot, or Sane Box just cause you to play a different organization game that gives you the feeling that you’re getting through your emails faster, when all you’re actually doing is moving them around and hiding most of them from view. But who knows? Maybe Mail Pilot is actually useful. I’ll say more after I try it out.
Hope you enjoyed this issue of Signals In The Noise. If you liked it, I’d be ever-so-grateful if you’d share this link with your peeps on your social media site of choice: https://claritylab.co/current
Every shout out helps!
Until next time, I’ll be visualizing your business growing rapidly so you can enjoy life at that next level you’re hoping to get to. ;^)
p.s. Find the archive of past weekly content roundups right here.