Freemiums in Action

Business websites are increasingly using the freemium, the free gift offered on the site’s first page, above the fold.  Visitors can access this ‘premium item’  in exchange for their email address. It’s an excellent strategy for growing your list while providing useful stuff to potential customers. If the freebie is high quality and truly brings satisfaction to the user, your brand has already made a new friend; and new friends will then become customers, if properly cultivated.

Let’s look at a few examples of free offers. These three show not only how varied your gifts may be, but also how creative you can be in the presentation of the offer. If the goal is to enlarge your mailing list, you’ll want to create an offer that is well-positioned to win trust.

Marisa MurgatroydMarisa Murgatroyd runs a full-service web design and internet marketing agency. People seeking those services may land on her homepage. And the first thing they see is not “Marisa Murgatroyd,” not “full-service web design and internet marketing agency,” not “We’re the best agency for all your internet needs!” What they see is the exact thing they are seeking in their deepest gut: “9,450 followers in 12 months!”  No dancing around here; it’s a barefaced bullseye of positioning and copy. There’s a video as well, which is validating but almost superfluous because the message is already abundantly clear.  And the freemium is a “step-by-step plan” showing how you can have the same results.

Take-away: Try creating a front-and-center offer with the right fonts and colors. Ask, What is the very specific thing my potential customer wants when they come to my site? How can I provide the thing they want instantly?

Jay BaerJay Baer is such an intelligent blogger; I always enjoy his writing and respect his viewpoints. He also positions and colors his offer so as to make sure it’s not missed. His gift is remarkable for the way it is configured. Jay writes a daily newsletter he titles One Thing. So you’re signing up to receive these newsletters, and you also get a free ebook (it’s called “21 Quotes That Will Change the Way You Think About Marketing”) that contains quotes from Jay’s latest book. Taken together, the freemium affords benefits on many levels: Jay builds his list, subscribers get useful info, the content spreads Jay’s theories among his market, subscribers read the ebook, and some will decide to purchase the hard copy book.

Take-away: You can have your newsletter as the freemium offer, but think about ways to maximize returns for yourself as well as for your subscribers.

Amy PorterfieldSocial media guru Amy Porterfield has a super-high profile, and she offers a super-generous free download: a four-part video training on using Facebook for business. The giveaway dominates the home page and is almost starkly simple. Notice the labeling of the go button – “Give it to me!”

Take-away: Make your offer a video, audio, infographic, or other non-text medium and you’re already ahead. Somehow, it’s just easier to watch a video than to read. And videos make it easier for you to control how your message is delivered.

Admittedly, these are all marketing-related businesses. I’m collecting samples in other fields and will report to you shortly!

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 Want more details about developing your freemium? Start here.

Landing Pages, Squeeze Pages, Lead Pages: What’s the Difference?

1456136606_0c723a9689_zDo you wonder about the difference between landing pages, squeeze pages, and lead pages?

The internet is a 21st century Wild West, so it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s a lot of confusion over terms and definitions. One of the most flagrant examples is the overlapping meanings of the terms: landing page, lead page, and squeeze page.

Several years back, the landing page concept bubbled to the cyber surface. Close on its heels was the squeeze page. And after a hiatus, the lead page took center stage just a couple years ago.

What does this progression signify and what is the difference, if any, between these different types of web pages?

Like an unexplored continent, the internet very slowly reveals itself, and we are just as slow to understand its ways. Somewhere along the line four or five years ago we understood and began to maximize the use of landing pages, driving traffic to specific inner pages of our website. We began to lure attention not exclusively to the homepage, but to a long tail page from deep inside the site; a page created for the specific purpose of introducing the visitor to a singular opportunity.

So we learned to guide the traffic in this way, wooing while shepherding. We also adopted the landing page as central to website traffic generation, because it appealed to highly specific needs. The more finely targeted your market, the more precisely you can craft your message.

One way to finesse the route to your landing page, we then realized, is to reduce the number of possible distractions. This is from the Sucker-A-Minute School of Marketing, but any successful marketing plan works on all levels, right? So a squeeze page allows only one action, only one exit. Fill in the form or nothing. No menus or links or superfluous stuff; just the single opt in, large and preferably circled in red.

A good while later, the two approaches were synthesized in lead pages. While landing and squeeze pages still make sense for specific situations, we now appreciate that driving traffic to a certain page (like a landing page) and making a single, crystal clear offer once they arrive (like a squeeze page), is the most user-friendly as well as profitable way to use cyberspace.

Again, the diverse forms are still active. When posting your blog updates, you still set up landing pages. You may use squeeze pages for decisive steps in a sales sequence. And you routinely work the internet for branding purposes, producing content that’s attractive to your market and offering it through lead pages that build your list.

Any questions? What do you think? What other ways do we have to make it easy for customers to get to know us and enjoy our interactions?

9 Best Practices for Creating and Maintaining Your Client List

Your business leads listYou are aware that the money’s in your list, as they say. The success of your enterprise is directly related to the contact information  you have. Do you know who is on your list, what they do, what they’re like? The more specific information you have about your leads and buyers the better you can serve their needs and the more successful your business will be.

It’s that simple, though for some reason working through the process is pretty hard, something we all have to work at. Nonetheless the creation, cultivation, and care of your list can be done in a few clear steps. [Read more…]

Lead Nurturing as Lifestyle for Your Online Brand

zoetnetWhat’s the lifestyle of your small business or entrepreneurship? 

Before you can answer that question, we have to agree on a definition of lifestyle, especially when it comes to business.

Even associating the word lifestyle with anything about business may seem unusual. We think of it more in reference to our personal lives.

But there’s a growing trend in the synthesis of personal and professional lives, via the internet and global communications, and the concept of lifestyle is now a  major concern even in the public arena of your business. The way you conduct your affairs, the life of your commerce makes all the difference to today’s markets.

Are you a Whole Foods, a Walmart, a Waffle House, a Winery? You are distinguished by your brand and the lifestyle it supports. And the same applies even if you simply sell ice cream from a roadside stand.

So how can lifestyle be defined when it comes to business? Maybe we can understand it in terms of where the major focus lies. While we can assume profit is always paramount, our understanding of how to gain profit varies considerably.

Profit, for Whole Foods, may be achieved by setting a standard of quality; for Walmart, profit may be seen as a matter of quantity; for Waffle House, profit comes through predictability, while for a Winery, surprise or unpredictability will serve their bottom line the best.

It is possible and even desirable to create your enterprise from the ground up around a desired lifestyle. Defining this approach makes clear most of the choices you should make, from logo selections to products and services to customer relations.

  • For artists, their chosen ‘public lifestyle’ is usually content-driven. It’s all about the products of their creativity.
  • Professionals like doctors and lawyers carefully select the lifestyle they wish to cultivate, from emergency care to cosmetics.
  • Tradespeople serve a lifestyle of practicality and community.

Online, we find that what works best is a lifestyle of lead-nurturing. Or maybe a more humanist way of labeling it would be to say it’s a lifestyle of deepening friendships. 

When interfacing with the entire globe, a small business becomes far more concerned with qualifying leads than with collecting them. If your website, SEO, and social media are healthy and active, it’s far more important to address the right audience than it is to address a large audience. When the right audience is engaged, the challenge is to nurture them, to increase their interest and strengthen your bond with them.

For the entrepreneur, it’s not about constant expansion to reach ever larger markets online; it’s about constant cultivation of the markets you organically reach and continuously serve through your faithful and generous sharing.

What is an Opt-In and Why?

Brochures are precursors of opt-ins.I just returned from a long trip out of town. As always when traveling, I gathered a large pile of brochures, maps, flyers, and local newspapers. I love combing the racks at motels and Welcome Centers, culling the tastiest information and bringing it back to whatever room I currently occupy to peruse and plot my next adventures. These kinds of lures are taken for granted. Whether at the doctor’s office, the Chamber of Commerce, or the basket weavers’ convention, we expect to have access to free information. We need the descriptions, the images, the specifics; we want graphic details before we’re willing to buy. Printed brochures, premium items (like fans or pens with your company logo), fact or tip sheets and the like have been used for centuries in business. Today’s “opt-in” is the direct descendant of this familiar marketing tactic. However, the opt-in we have today actually improves on its forebears by doubling as a lead-generation device. While the venerable brochure fostered new clients, it did not provide that lead’s contact information. In contrast. a website opt-in is usually accessible only via a process that involves sharing at least your first name and email address. [Read more…]

How Permission Marketing Works

jbaker5The major driving force in inbound – or permission – marketing is relationships. We can even over-simplify a little and say that inbound marketing is presenting content that is created to attract a market and interest individuals in establishing a relationship with us.

Traditional outbound communications were like bees irritating us with their stings; inbound methods keep the bees at home, making honey that proves irresistibly attractive.

Advertising is banners that scream across the top of a webpage. Inbound marketing communications are blog posts on that same page, demonstrating the company’s personal understanding of the visitor’s life and interests. Note that while either of these vehicles might be successful in the short term, it’s the inbound approach that creates lifelong customers, precisely because a relationship has been established.

Once you have built a web home base, you turn to building your list. How do you tempt people to subscribe? It’s partly a matter of wooing them with your generosity, your amazing expertise, your entertaining charisma, or some other tool that is natural for you. But, as in any healthy relationship, it’s just not all about you. Winning someone’s heart involves being yourself and also clearly admiring the other for being their self.

It’s a love story. 

If you own a beauty parlor, you may talk about your new products or coloring solutions; but you’ll win clients’ hearts for good when you listen openly to them and offer custom advice. If you’re a lawyer, it’s not your previous triumphs that matter but your ability to convince the client that you understand their particular case. If you run a staffing agency, companies may think your ads are cute, but they’ll actually contract with you when they’re convinced you have the specific solution for their situation.

Just about anyone who has run a small business for some time will agree that the person-to-person connection is where business actually happens.

Developing your opt-in, your “freemium” or “Signature Promotional Giveaway” is an important part of this courtship between you and your market. The item or service is offered on your website for free in exchange for the visitor’s name and email address. You want to create some kind of benefit or download that is widely appealing to your target market. But on the other hand, something that has too wide an appeal will not be individually alluring. So the process is a long and careful journey of discovery as you home in on the kind of giveaway that will speak directly to the individual. It’s about getting to know your ideal customer. It’s about your relationship with them.

It takes a lot of time to develop relationships and to understand your customers deeply. But even more, it takes attention. The difference lies in where you focus. It no longer works to simply focus on selling; in the context of the web’s enormity, it’s necessary to focus on answering real needs and attending to individual voices.

Brands used to succeed by wearing a mask. If a company’s ads resonated they were successful; staff did not share the ongoing responsibility to enchant. Today, the internet won’t let us hide behind advertising. Brand is communicated through content creation and follow through. Leads are attracted and convert because you’ve built a relationship with them and they’ve come to depend on the value you add.

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Could you use some help devising an irresistible opt-in? We can brainstorm and advise you on creation options. Here’s the page!

Smart Tactics for Converting Site Visitors to Leads

giftWhatever you do on behalf of your business online, the actions that convert into leads are the most valuable. Yes, you must have a stream of traffic, but once that’s established you want to focus on conversions.

The trends creep ever closer to a brutally direct approach. Many websites today ask for your opt-in on the home page, above the fold (i.e., it’s the first thing you notice when you land on the site). The visitor remains merely anonymous traffic for as little time as possible; we hurry them right along to sharing their contact info in exchange for a desireable item of some sort.

To me, this in-your-face promotion is not always appropriate. In developing your opt-in, your “freemium,” or what Amy Porterfield is calling your Signature Promotional Giveaway (SPG) always keep in mind the site visitor’s actual experience. If traffic tends to land on your site mostly from affiliate links, that’s quite different from a site that attracts mainly organic traffic based on a keyword. In the former case, an immediate up-sell might be fine; in the latter, you may want to massage the relationship a bit more before suggesting the opt-in.

But once you time, or position your opt-in offer satisfactorily, the big question is a familiar one in content marketing. What will be the substance of your giveaway? Realistically, it needs to be:

  1. a good example of your best work, because you want to wow ’em with this
  2. exceptionally tempting to your market, because you want lots of people to be willing to give their email address in exchange for it
  3. easily replicable, because you want to be able to deliver without excessive cost or hassle.

Conceiving of and creating such a freemium item is no small task. I suggest giving the matter serious thought. Here are some fine types of content:

  • report
  • ebook
  • tips or cheat sheet
  • instructive video or audio
  • newsletter

But really, the content of your freemium can be anything. As the independent grocer on Main Street, you could offer recipes with seasonal ingredients and get a ton of opt-ins. If you’re a graphic artist, your freemium might be a collection of color combinations. If you’re a contractor, maybe you could offer plans for building a garden gazebo. If you’re Hugh MacLeod, you create cartoons and share them.

I enjoyed watching Marcus Sheridan’s May TED talk. He shows examples of business adopting the new world of transparency, which has been a  result of the internet’s real time global communications. It’s a lot harder now, if not impossible, to dupe your market through old-fashioned broadcast marketing.  In lieu of extravagant dog and pony shows, brands are now required to simply, honestly educate about their products and services.

Your freemium is an early, if not the first step in building trust with potential customers. Make it a heartfelt token of your very best.

What opt-in structures have worked well for you? Please share in the comments.

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Small Business Online Branding provides assistance in planning and creating a dynamic freemium.

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