Wednesday, June 21, 2017

5 Tricks for Growing Your Audience and Business on LinkedIn

Try these tips to achieve more visibility and engagement to build your thought leadership brand and convert new business.  



Though social media has become a competition of virality, there are still a few sacred places that can be used for professional growth. Building a strong brand on Twitter and Facebook can do a lot for your personal network, but your brand on LinkedIn actually means business (pun intended).

LinkedIn is less about choosing the right selfie or mastering disappearing stories and more about using content to amass an audience and showcase your skill set. With 160,000 new articles per week on LinkedIn, many brands and consumers are using the platform to maximize their exposure. There is indeed a strategy for growth on LinkedIn that can help you start meaningful conversations with contacts and communities. Here are five tricks for expanding your audience and business on LinkedIn.

Trust in what’s trending.

Trending Storylines is LinkedIn’s latest update but the first feature to prioritize when it comes to garnering heightened exposure amongst your industry. Just last month LinkedIn launched this curated news feed highlighting the day’s trending news stories, personalized around one’s interests and connections.

Much like hashtags on any other social network, trending storylines allows your commentary on a certain subject to be found in the cumulative feed of others also speaking on that topic. This goes for published stories as well as status updates, setting the perfect environment to broadcast your point of view through both short- and long-form content.

Using trending hashtags alone has put my updates in front of a couple thousand users, where previously it only garnered a few hundred impressions. Yet, it's not just LinkedIn’s algorithm that rewards timely content; their staff also handpicks certain stories, which is another factor to consider when strategizing.

Pick the right picture.

Most of what’s viral on social media is more about the visual assets than the copy. The same applies for engagement when publishing on LinkedIn. As other forms of media fight for reader’s attention, the graphic that accompanies your writing needs to be just as engaging.

Within LinkedIn, the header photo is what leads people to click on your article just as much as the title. It’s what everyone sees first when scrolling down their feed or searching within a LinkedIn Group.

What kind of visual are you choosing to set your content apart? With the abundance of articles published per day on LinkedIn, you will need to implement something unique, eye-catching and a complement to the core of your article -- even if it means commissioning a freelancer.





It’s more about when.

As a business professional, writing to other business professionals, it’s vital that you take everyone’s schedule into consideration when looking to publish.

The best writers have aligned their posting schedule with anticipated activity on LinkedIn. As someone who’s a part of the audience you’re writing to, assume their role for a second when you’re deciding to push your content live. Monday mornings are usually inopportune times, as many of the readers you want to reach are catching up on the weekend’s emails. This same thought process applies to Fridays, when people are just as busy finishing their work in preparation for the weekend.

Both Hubspot and LinkedIn chimed in on finding that sweet spot, estimating that Tuesday through Thursday is the optimal time to publish. Recognized entrepreneur, Noah Kagan, found similar trends in regards to posting on LinkedIn. Kagan, who was an early employee at Facebook and Mint, founded the popular inbound marketing tool, Sumo. According to Kagan's data, posts published on Thursdays saw the highest average total views, closely followed by Sunday as far as user activity.

Distribution matters (a lot).

As you well know, your work isn’t done once it’s published. Dismissing distribution is simply doing yourself and your creativity a disservice. Whether you’re targeting consumers or delivering B2B focused content, syndication is vital on LinkedIn. Where are you sharing what you’ve written and with whom?

Consider pushing your work to relevant LinkedIn Groups because these communities are full of decision makers in your respective industry, which is a prime opportunity to introduce them to you and your brand. But, at the same time, it must provide true value to drive organic and invested traffic your way.

Distribution should be a larger focus when targeting businesses as well. Aside from trending storylines, LinkedIn announced LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms, helping bring in high-quality leads by removing the friction of mobile conversion. Through Sponsored Content, you can launch campaigns that support gated content to rack up on inbound leads.

Using the algorithm to your advantage.

Engaging in conversation with those who comment or share your content is crucial for growing your readership on any platform, but it's 10 times more important for your success on LinkedIn.

The algorithm can be used in a few ways to tap into additional networks through those who have engaged with your work. When a user likes or comments on an article of yours, it appears on his personal feed. LinkedIn’s product is built to present content that like audiences will find valuable; use this to your advantage by starting a conversation with those who have responded to your work. Interaction in the comments section of an article is the reason behind many of LinkedIn's successful content. Not to mention that the most engaged threads will get pinned to the top of the comment section.

Getting in front of the masses isn’t by chance, thankfully there are a series of techniques using your comments as a conversation that carries throughout LinkedIn. Tagging other individuals who have a following is another method of garnering more exposure. Don’t be afraid to mention other thought leaders to showcase other credible perspectives that your following and theirs would love to be aware of.

The platform’s algorithm rewards ongoing conversation, ultimately bringing third and fourth-degree audiences to what you’ve written.

LinkedIn is a community of hungry enthusiasts among a variety of industries. These distinct practices will help you achieve more visibility and engagement to build your thought leadership brand and convert new business.





Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com 
Image Credit: Shuttershock


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How To Write A Persuasive Marketing Email




When you send a marketing email, it’s a bit different from a regular email.


You’re not just sharing information, you’re trying to drive engagement that supports your business in some way.

You’re trying to drive action without being too pushy and turning your subscribers off.
  
What’s the secret to writing a successful marketing email?

The best email marketing campaigns have a clear focus, authentic tone, and information that’s helpful to the reader.

Use these tips to write marketing emails that drive business:

    •    Infuse the personality of your business.


Imagine you’re having a face-to-face conversation with a customer. What would that experience be like? Your reader should feel like you’re speaking directly to them as well. Extend the great experience you regularly provide to create an engaging content strategy.
 

  • Make sure the subject line is true to the content of your email.
There are many tips about how to write good email subject lines. The most important tip? Be clear about what the reader should expect when they open the email.


  • Take advantage of the preheader text to entice the reader to open your email.

The preheader text is like a second subject line. It gives you an additional chance to entice the reader to open your email. Use this to your advantage, especially when it comes to increasing your mobile open rates.






  • Keep content clear and concise.


Picture, Paragraph, Call to Action. The best emails have a clear focus and are designed to encourage a single action from the reader. Clear, concise content also makes it easier to read your emails.
 

  • Only include information that helps the reader take the action you want them to take.


Remove anything that veers from the action you want the reader to take. Doing so helps you get to the best length for your email newsletter. If it’s not helping your reader take the desired action, it’s a distraction. Remove it.



  • Plan on sending more than one email.


It would be great if all you needed was one email to do the job. The truth is people are busy and your business isn’t their top priority. It’s not that people don’t want to take action, it’s just that they get distracted. Plan your email marketing calendar to include a short series of three emails around a particular promotion: an announcement, a reminder, and a last chance.


  • Ready to write your marketing email?


Put these tips to use and start seeing more meaningful results from your email marketing today.


These content tips, combined with a customizable email template, make it easy to create a persuasive email in minutes — like the example below.



Source: http://www.forbes.com
Image Credit: Shuttershock.com




ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

The Top 7 Benefits of Email Marketing (Pay Close Attention to No. 5)





The numbers show that email marketing is still a widely used, and successful, marketing channel.

However, your small business can use email marketing in many different ways. How do you choose your approach? One way might be the following chart from the Email Marketing & Marketing Automation Excellence 2017 Report:




Top Benefits of Email Marketing

The chart illustrates the seven top benefits of email marketing (ignoring “Other”), each of which is a worthy goal depending on what your small business is aiming to achieve.

1. Generating More Leads

Encouraging visitors to sign up for your email marketing list is just one way to generate more leads. Another strategy is to encourage your email subscribers to forward your emails on to friends, families, and acquaintances or to share it on social media.


2. Improved Sales

If every subscriber on your list turned into a customer, you’d be in small business heaven. Unfortunately, that’s probably never going to happen. However, you can increase your sales by focusing the right email campaigns on the right people. The secret to doing this is email list segmentation, a process that enables you to nurture each of your list subscribers with the right message at the right time, eventually moving each through your funnel to becoming a customer.


3. Improved Conversion Rates

In order to sell, you need to convert and the key to email conversions is to nurture them using content. Like #2 above, the key lies in email list segmentation however, it helps to know what type of  content to use at each stage of the sales process. Once you nail that, your nurturing efforts will be much more effective and, your overall conversion rates will increase.


4. Reduced Marketing Costs

If your small business marketing budget is tight, you’ll be interested in low-cost ways to promote yourself. Happily, there are a lot of email marketing tools out, many of which offer a free tier of service and low prices when you need more features and functionality.


5. Identifying Better-Quality Leads

The last thing you need is to waste time on bad leads. That’s why, before marketing your small business, it pays to have a lead qualifying system in place. Happily, email marketing itself is a lead qualifying system that demonstrates a prospect’s interest based on:
  • The fact that they signed up for your list in the first place;
  • Whether they open your emails; and
  • If they click on any of the links within your emails.


6. Integrating with Other Media to Boost Response

Integrated marketing is a powerful tool in any marketer’s kit. One of the best integrations for email is with social media where your emails can include:
  • Social share icons;
  • Super-sharable content; and
  • Deals to share which then give a referral reward back to the subscriber who shared it.


7. Shorter Sales Cycles

Email marketing is a great way to get your most convincing content in front of prospective decision makers. If you’re nurturing the right subscribers via email as mentioned in No. 5 above, and you’re using both segmentation and the right content as mentioned in No. 2 and No. 3 above respectively, then you can speed up your sales cycle by getting the right content to the right decision maker at the right time.

Now that’s powerful stuff.






Source: http://www.smallbiztrends.com
Image Credit: Shuttershock


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
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3 Common Mistakes to Avoid With Advertising on Facebook, According to a Social Media Expert



As a social media consultant and speaker, Andrea Vahl spends a lot of time on Facebook. But instead of checking out her friends pictures and profiles, she focuses on ads placed by all kinds of businesses. What she sees sometimes makes her shake her head.

"Facebook ads can feel very overwhelming when you first start, and the main mistake I see business owners making is only using the Boost Post option on Facebook," said Vahl, the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies.

Vahl describes herself as "passionate" about helping businesses understand and leverage the power of social media to actually grow their business. I talked with her about best practices for advertising on Facebook.

Here's what she told me:

Galek: Should I boost my post?

Vahl: The Boost Post option is very 'easy' to use but doesn't optimize the ad in the best way all the time. If you are looking to get more website traffic, then optimize the ad for Traffic in the Ads Manager area.

How do I tell if my ads are costing more than I am making?

The second mistake marketers make is not looking at the ad reports correctly. For example, make sure you are looking at the cost per link click rather than just the overall cost per click to compare which ad performed best to drive traffic.

Should I always stick with my first ad?

The other big mistake that people make is not split testing multiple ads. I often find that one image will do better in terms of cost per click over another and it's not always the one I think it will be. If you are just running one ad, you may not be getting the lowest cost you could be.

How do I target my Facebook advertising?

Right now, one of the biggest trends is re-targeting your ad to your warm audience so that you are being seen more often by the people who are most interested in your business.

You can target your ads to your website visitors, your email subscribers, people who have seen your Facebook videos, and now people who have engaged with your Facebook Posts in some way. When you target your ads this way, you can save money by showing your ads to a smaller, more highly-targeted audience.

Any business can find success with Facebook ads. I've seen all different types of businesses that get good results from Facebook ads, including local businesses, B2C, B2B, online, and offline.

If you can target your audience well with the keywords then Facebook ads can work for you.There's one exception -- if your audience is so specific that you are better off reaching out via different methods, like phone calls then maybe Facebook isn't the best place.


How should businesses get started advertising on Facebook?


Slowly. You should spend about ten to 20 percent of the ads budget in the testing phase. Test different demographic targets and images if possible to see which ads convert the best. Then spend the remaining budget on the ad or two that performs the best.


Do you have any tips and tricks when it comes to the Facebook world? Please  comment and share them below.





Source: http://www.inc.com
Image Credit: Getty Images  



ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, June 19, 2017

How to Get Your First 50 Customers (Without Paid Advertising)

Launching a new product? Here's how to make your first 50 sales-- in a way that gets you many more.


Nothing is more exhilarating than getting your first customers.

And in your haste to sell, you may think that buying ads is the best way to make your first sales. That may certainly be the fastest way, but sometimes, slow is better.

When you launch a new product, you're still testing the market, and the indicator you're measuring is actual sales. I recommend a slower but more insightful way of getting your first customers: getting into conversations with your prospects.

Connect with prospects and get their feedback on your offer. Exactly how you do this will depend on how much existing access you have to your market, and how reputable of a person you are in their eyes.

How to Sell Through Conversations

If you don't have an audience, then you'll have to draw from family, friends, colleagues, and social media connections, as well as anyone they might refer.

Get on the phone with them and ask them what they need (in relation to the problem your product addresses), what their challenges are, and so on. Eventually, shift to questions (not statements) about how you can help them.

Finally, ask if your product is something they'd be interested in. Tell them what it is, what problem it would solve for them, and what outcome they can expect from using it. Then ask if they want to buy it.

If they say "yes," then tell them the price and close the sale. Congratulations, you just got your first customer!

If they say "no," ask them why not. Reassure them that you're not pressuring them into buying, but you'd really like to understand and get feedback on your offer.

And if they say, "maybe," then push back. Get a definite yes or no.

Sales conversations are high-touch and not scalable, but that's fine for your first 50 sales, because at that stage you aren't just selling, you're also figuring out what the effective messaging for sales is comprised of.

How to Sell through Email

If you do have an audience, such as a list of at least 2,000 email subscribers or a group of engaged followers on a social media platform, then you have a few more options.

You can still conduct person-to-person sales conversations. But if you want something more scalable, then you can "converse" through email or a series of blog posts.

Passive Email PS

If you're in semi-regular contact with your ideal customers, a really easy approach can be to just add a P.S. line to your email signature, such as "Did you know that I offer [benefit/outcome]? Ask me about how I can do that for you."

This is a good dialogue starter. You can then get them on the phone with you and proceed as described above. Or, you can give them more information through email and eventually make your offer.

Email/Blog Series

This can be done through email, your blog, or social media posts that introduce the idea to your audience and bring them to the point of buying your product. Here's what to include in this email or blog sequence:

1) Float your pilot idea.

Float your pilot idea by telling your audience your story so far. Share the origin story of the product, what specific problems and desires you learned about in your research, and why you are uniquely able to help them solve those problems.

2) Ask your audience if they want it.

Talk about your product as a modality for a solution. Ask questions like:
 
Would you be interested in a product that does [X]?

What would be the most important thing for me to include in such a product?

What would be your biggest hesitation, concern, or fear around using a product like this?

3) Announce your product.

Declare that you're going to create and offer your product. Follow up by giving people a sense of how the product is going to work, what outcomes it delivers, and roughly how much it's going to cost.

4) Open your cart.

Officially announce that your product is now ready for purchase.

Email people and remind them to buy as many times as you can come up legitimate reasons to be reaching out. And if you decide to close the cart after your first 50 customers so you can get feedback and iterate, then give your audience plenty of warning about that.

If getting your first customers becomes too much of a struggle, that tells you that your message-to-market fit isn't quite right.

Otherwise, you can use what you learn from your first 50 sales to make your next 100, 1,000 sales.








Source: http://www.inc.com
Image Credit: Getty Images


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Want to Get Better at Networking? Think Smaller.

To expand their professional networks, entrepreneurs are seeking smaller and smaller crowds.



 In 2008, Sol Orwell, the co-founder of the nutrition company Examine.com, was at a loss. He was attending a big digital marketing conference in Seattle, hoping to expand his network, but the event was so packed that he didn't know where to start. His friend had no such hesitation. He told Orwell he was going to "meet some friends." Twenty minutes later, he returned holding a stack of 40 business cards. "At the time, I was blown away," recalls Orwell, who thought his friend was a networking genius. "But now I think, Did he do anything more than have short conversations?"

Today Orwell has a much different idea of successful networking. He still attends at least one large conference a year, but that's not how he builds his relationships. Instead, he hosts monthly dinners of six to 12 entrepreneurs, where conversations might jump from business to culinary trends to travel hot spots. And every Friday, he parks himself at a coffee shop in his hometown of Toronto and invites local entrepreneurs to join him for leisurely conversations.

Orwell is not alone in questioning the conventional approaches to networking. Because frankly, those approaches -- abetted by technology and hype -- don't work that well. The rise of social media and digital communication means your entrepreneurial hero is just a tweet or an email away, but it also means successful entrepreneurs are bombarded by so many networking requests that they delete most of them on sight. And the boom in massive, circus-like conferences makes it easier than ever to harvest large numbers of business cards, but the sheer numbers of attendees make forming real connections harder.

As a result, in the past decade, small-scale, invite-only events for entrepreneurs -- from monthly dinner salons of fewer than a dozen people to upscale weekend retreats that cap out at 150 guests -- have begun to redefine the networking landscape. Entrepreneurs are willing to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for access to smart, like-minded people who are also in search of reciprocal, long-lasting relationships. As Orwell explains, these conferences and retreats are "a lot more welcoming" than the huge conventions. "There won't be wantrepreneurs, but people you can have actual conversations with," he says.

Shane Parrish, whose productivity and decision-making newsletter, Farnam Street, has a devoted following of more than 100,000 subscribers, was one of those businesspeople frustrated by the state of networking. (He estimates he personally gets 300 networking requests a month.) So in 2014, he started offering annual three-day workshops. These events, which cost about $2,300, are open to the public but are strictly capped at 50 people. Even just a few more, Parrish says, makes it harder for attendees to break out of their comfort zones. When they do break out, he says, the payoff is significant. "Everyone is struggling through similar problems, but they're smart and they're not your friends, so they're not telling you what you want to hear," he says. "You can grow a ton."

Parrish also hosts much smaller and costlier retreats for 10 to 15 people in places like Hawaii and Paris, in which each participant has one hour to troubleshoot some problem -- be it personal or business-related -- with the group. "To me, that's real networking," Parrish says. "You're getting to understand people and their context so you can help them achieve their goals.


"Everyone is struggling through similar problems, but they're smart, and they're not your friends, so they're not telling you what you want to hear," says one organizer. "You can grow a ton."
The organizers behind these sorts of small-scale conferences say the ideas exchanged from this casual back-and-forth are a lot more useful than the promised "content" that many large conferences advertise. "You don't get value from big-name speakers," says Jayson Gaignard, the founder of MastermindTalks, an invite-only community for entrepreneurs, which includes an annual three-day conference of roughly 150 people. If you want to sit there as someone talks at you, Gaignard says, you can "listen to a podcast on the way to the gym."

MastermindTalks has become famous for its exclusivity ("a lower acceptance rate than Harvard" boasts Gaignard's LinkedIn profile) and price tag (about $10,000), and so participants have come to expect at least some access to the superstars of their profession. Gary Vaynerchuk, James Altucher and Damien Escobar have all attended, but their appearances -- unannounced until the last minute -- feel impromptu and informal. As Gaignard explains, standing around and drinking beers while peppering Vaynerchuk, the marketing guru, with questions is a much different experience than listening to him give a talk from a podium.

James Clear, who pens a popular newsletter on human potential and runs eight-person retreats in destinations like Sedona, Ariz. and Breckenridge, Colo., eschews big names altogether. "I want people to feel like they're with peers," he says. Clear organizes his retreats around a specific theme or profession and is highly selective in terms of the people he invites.

Referrals, it seems, are how most people gain access to these events. And how do they get referred? Orwell says this happens by building relationships, over time, with people who either lead these retreats or have attended them. "People just try to rush everything," he says. "They try to befriend everyone. Instead, follow the people you really find interesting, and that will naturally let you have conversations with them." Once you've formed a genuine bond with someone who is connected, he says, you're more likely to be referred.

It's a chicken-and-egg problem, to be sure: You need to connect to the right people in order to be invited to a conference that will help you connect to the right people. But because these events tend to be very small, hosts say they have to be very particular about whom they invite in order to ensure a positive experience. "If there are 100 people and there's one annoying person, you can move on," Clear says. "But in a retreat for three or four days with eight people, one person can really ruin the chemistry." Therefore, he invites only people he has met in person or with whom he has had multiple Skype calls.

Gaignard is even more methodical. When considering new invitees -- again, usually through referrals -- he either meets with them personally or has a 30-minute "triage" call, in which he "gathers intel" about the individual and subscribes to "all updates" on every member's Facebook feed, which he says "helps me keep a pulse on anything and everything about them." Once accepted, attendees fill out two intake forms totaling 80 questions. These strategies help Gaignard connect people with overlapping strengths and needs. "If you're having trouble with culture in your business and there's someone who's really killing it with culture, I'll seat them next to you," he says.

For the most part, event hosts say their guests come not to promote themselves but to share their expertise and learn something in return. Yes, there's a professional ROI; attendees might partner in new projects, pass along contacts and cross-promote each other's work. But they are also filling an existential need. "Entrepreneurship by definition is a lonely venture," says Clear. "It makes sense that these conferences would be popping up in this space." Or as Gaignard explains it, "Ways to connect are abundant; community is scarce."





Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com
Image Credit:  Andrea Ucini


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!