Why Attention is the New Currency Online

by Eric Tsai

Like many digital marketers, I consume and create large amount of content daily. Whether it’s doing research or analyzing data, I’ve come to realize the economic value of attention.

It’s relatively easy to create and publish content nowadays because technology has made it cost-effective and efficient.

This isn’t the case when it comes to consuming content because our attention simply doesn’t scale. Just like our personal values have to be sorted and ranked in order for us to make wise and consistent decisions, so do our values for consuming information.

As more and more businesses and individuals continue to produce digital content, one trend is starting to emerge as the explosion of content proliferates – the role of curators.

Moving forward, it’s important to look beyond the value that content creates but also how it gets consumed.

The gatekeepers to quality: Content curators

Unlike traditional media authorities such as The New York Times or Wall Street Journal, new media curators are the barometers of quality content that help harness our inherent need to consume personalized information.

Think of it as a filter for personalized content from trusted sources.

This is different than competing for page ranks in search engines or displaying authority in social media.

This is about access to audience and the ability to be heard.

Content curators rank and decide which information offers the most value and enriches you in the process of indulging your curiosity.

And the idea of curation isn’t focused on individual pieces
of content, but the ability to piece together cohesive patterns that contribute to a larger trend.

The challenge is not just in grabbing attention but also maintaining it until the content consumption process reaches its peak value.

This is why popular blogs continues to be popular because of original content curation that follows a narrative.

You need to deliver high value content regularly instead of just sharing the same content as someone else.

So how do you differentiate yourself in a space full of re-hashed content?

First you need to understand and optimize your content for online browsing and reading.

People read more online than print

People only want to spend time online with content they find valuable but if they don’t read it, how would they know if it’s valuable?

Let’s look at an eyetracking study by The Poytner Institute (excellent study) to see just how different we read newspaper content online vs. in print.

  • Online readers read an average of 77% of story text they chose to read
  • Broadsheet readers read an average of 62% of stories they selected
  • Tabloid readers read an average of 57% only.

When measured whether a story was read from start to finish:

  • Online readers read 63% of stories from start to finish
  • Broadsheet readers finished 40% of stories
  • Tabloid readers, 36%

Here is an interesting data from the perspective of people that read online: When looking at story lengths, online readers still read more text regardless of the length.

These findings shows that people have different habits when reading online and it could be because websites are viewed as real-time with up-to-the-minute content.

Another key to point out is that in print, headlines and photos were the first visual stop while website navigation was the first stop for online readers.

Web layout and design plays and important role in how your content gets viewed.

Web browsing habits matter

Web browsing habits affects how users absorb and internalize online content, especially when your declining digital attention span is sliced between multiple browser tabs.

Parallel browsing is like multitasking splitting your concentration in different browser tabs.

Microsoft research Ryen White and Information scientist Jeff Huang recently studied the behavior of 50 millions web surfers and habits regarding tabbed browsing on 60 billion pages.

They found that instead of users viewing more pages with tabs, it simply leads to multitasking cutting user’s online attention span!

  • Parallel browsing with different tabs occurs 85% of the time
  • Viewers often view 5-10 page per tab
  • 57.4% of the browsing time are used for parallel browsing with tabs
  • Most web surfers do not create tabs (branch out) from search engine result pages, but more from non-navigational queries
  • Users open new windows and tabs because they’re waiting for a page to load

Now ask yourself these questions.

How are tabs being used by your customers?

How does this affect the time spent per page on your site?

How attention span affects content decay

So how do you overcome the challenge of maximizing the value of great content?

You need to first understand what Steve Rubel calls Attentionomics (of social media platforms) – the fact that content is infinite, but your attention is finite.

Let’s look at some examples on how attention spans works in social media.

First up: Twitter.

According to a research by Sysomos:

  • 92.4% of all retweets happen within the first hour of the original tweet being published
  • 1.63% of retweets happen in the second hour
  • 0.94% take place in the third hour

So much for the longtail in attention even with 110 million tweets per day!

Next we’ll look at how video content gets consumed on YouTube.

According to research by TubeMogul:

  • A video on YouTube gets 50% of its views in the first 6 days it is on the site
  • After 20 days, a YouTube video has had 75% of its total view
  • In 2008, it took 14 days for a video to get 50% of its views and 44 days to get 75% of its views.

The proliferation of video content is setting new standards in both reach and speed. However; at the same time most online video viewers watch mere seconds, rather than minutes, of a video.

According to another study by TubeMogul, “most videos steadily lose viewers once ‘play’ is clicked, with an average 10.39% of viewers clicking away after ten seconds and 53.56% leaving after one minute.”

And finally let’s check out Facebook.

The thing to keep in mind is that Facebook has their EdgeRank algorithm which determines what content users will see from the pages they “like.”

Basically it’s like the organic links in Google. If you want to grab attention you need to first format your content so it’s Facebook-friendly and then send it out at the right time.

For the optimize time to market on Facebook, I’ll turn to Dan Zarrella’s infographic on the “5 Questions and Answers about Facebook Marketing.”

I’ve seen studies that put the percentage of posts that make it through to users’ news feeds at less than 5% while post feedback ranges from 0.01% to 1.5%.

The bottom line is that Facebook is more relationship-focused than push-focused so it’ll take time for marketers to come up with a standardized metrics that measures something meaningful.

The other interesting development is Facebook’s own CPC network (like AdWords) called Facebook ads that has the ability to deliver quality traffic on a comparable volume scale.

The difference is that Facebook ads tries to look less like an ad and more like an editorial that’s of interest to the user. (I’ll be going over this soon)

The value of social

For now I don’t have the answer to the intrinsic value of social media, but I do know that it’s not just about increase advertising impressions or click through rates.

Still, as Facebook continues to roll out new products and revise its algorithm, it’s best to monitor and allocate small amount of time and resources to do your own testing.

And finally, keep in mind that the content decay data provided above are on logged-in users “actively” engaging each social media platform.

What does this mean?

Social media is just one channel and a user may engage in multiple channels (email, search, offline ads) and within each channel he/she may have different accounts for different purposes so treat each platform autonomously.

For example:

  • A per who uses email may have two email – one for personal, the other one for work. Personal email usually don’t get checked as often so time-sensitive content needs a clear segmentation and different engagement tactics. Or a use may only check personal email on their mobile device so optimizing for mobile experience would be a priority.
  • A user may have multiple social network accounts but choose to engage each at different time for different purposes. This requires tailored content for for each social network in order to deliver the optimal experience. You may use similar content from a content strategy perspective, but the ad copy or marketing message must fit the context within the social network.

Here is an overview of how often people use social media from a combination of comScore reports and research by Wedbush Securities.

Clearly Facebook is the dominating platform with a huge distance between itself and the rest of the social networks in terms of unique visitors.

In fact, Hitwise has been reporting for months now that Facebook had passed Google in terms of time spent online!

There is also further data to show that people are using Facebook more frequently than did on a daily and weekly basis compare to sites like Twitter and Linkedin.

When it comes to social media marketing, keep in mind that each social network has their own unique user experience and habits thus size may not always be the most important factor.

There is no one-size fits all strategy.

The take away: As the “gold rush” to producing content continues, the need for curators will increase disproportionately to the number. The value of content on social media will continue to evolve bringing new challenges for your content to stand out in the digital realm.

Simply put, if content is currency, then attention creates leverage by serving up the right content at the right time.

Do not shortcut your best ideas for easier consumption, instead, focus on your desire outcome with measurable ROI.

As Seth Godin has said, “We don’t have an information shortage, we have an attention shortage.”

Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Tailor your content for each social media platform in relevancy. (short-form goes to Twitter, medium-form goes to Facebook, long-form goes to blog etc.)
  • Reiterate content for behavior change with an emphasis on quality not quantity. (repeat is ok but there is a fine line between consistency and spam)
  • Focus on optimizing your content so users can consume them in the least amount of time.
  • Make it simple but not simpler and as straight forward as possible.
  • Run experience test to see how your content performs  at different time frames, 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds…etc.
  • Use your Google analytics to help you identify what visitors are doing once landed on your site. (How long do they stay, how many pages do they read, when do they return again…etc)
  • Use engaging call-to-action without been pushy or salesy.
  • Conduct an usability audit on your website user interface. (what got clicked, where do people go, bounce rates…etc…use In-Page Analytics from Google Analytics)
  • Balance your design with function that support each page’s objective.
  • Run simple A/B split testing, multi-variant testing and user experience testing. (mix and match images, graphics, headlines, copies and layout)

If you made it this far, why not let me know what you think?

Or if you’re just scanning, I hope you go back and re-read this post again!

3 Steps to Getting More Traffic and Higher Conversions

by Eric Tsai

3 Steps to Getting More Traffic and Higher Conversions

If you had to pick between getting tons of traffic or having a high conversion rate, which one would you pick?

Most marketers churn out content for SEO rankings, build backlinks for offsite optimization and may even invest in PPC at some point.

Whether your objective is to get people to buy, opt in to your list or download your content, you need to understand the significance of both.

All traffics are not created equal

It’s surprising to me when I hear business owners and bloggers ask the question, “how do I get more traffic?”

Sure, traffic is important and with lots of traffic you won’t need a high conversion rate. It becomes a numbers game.

On the other hand high conversion says you’re selling to the right people at the right time at the right place. It’s how well you’re able to connect with your customer.

So why can’t you do both?

That’s precisely what successful businesses do when it comes to Internet marketing. They drive highly targeted traffic to relevant content that leads to rapid conversions.

So how do you go about getting quality traffic? Simple, here is a three step process to get you started.

1. Start with the right expectations

The art of getting traffic goes back to the roots of direct response marketing.

Specially the why, who, what where and how of your target. It’s often referred to as the Five W’s and one H. You can see an example of this concept in the post Social Media Science: The Five W’s of Twitter Marketing.

In the case of traffic you need to start by asking the right question that solves the right problem.

It’s like going to the doctor’s office when you’re sick and you expect the doctor to ask you how you feel not what your favorite TV show is.

Pinpoint the right problem is how you can make meaningful assumptions to achieve your desire outcome. This calls for a bit of critical thinking.

Getting on the first page of Google won’t mean much if you don’t get any clicks. After all there are a bunch of ads all around it fighting for attention and clicks.

Here are some questions you need to consider to get started:

  • Why would someone click on it? (you’re not the only one with relevant title)
  • Who should click on it? (are you talking to the right prospects?)
  • What would clicking on your link do for them? (what do they really want?)
  • Where does the link take them? (what click path are they on? What are the options?)
  • How would you maintain a visitor’s interest? (how do you stay relevant?)

These questions serve as the foundation to help you identify your main objective of getting traffic: What’s the desire outcome?

Think holistically. Then think specifically.

What is the end goal that you have in mind? In other words, you need to have a real, tangible result in mind.

You want sales? Great, how much sales? From where? When?

How would those statistics stack up again what’s going on now?

By setting the proper expectations you get altitude on what matters in your pursuit to traffic. It brings clarity to how your traffic generation tactics fit into the overall strategy.

Then it all comes down to executing and measuring the effectiveness of each tactic you employ.

2. Convince people with compelling content

Measuring results is hard to do and often the results will manifest themselves into insights other than the website. This is why you need to realize that traffics are actually people.

And people want to be treated like a human being regardless of what campaign you run. At some point you will need to use a combination of words and images to grab attention and understand the psychology of your customers.

People often think they know what they need, but they don’t take action to fulfill those needs because they simply can’t justify the benefits of buying.

Why buy this now? Why should I buy it from you?

Aim for emotions that matters to people. People are more likely to buy from those they trust and like so show them who you are.

What are your values? Bring some social proof and authority but also show your personality. Be human.

Once you establish some level of rapport, you need to make sure that they “get” the immediate impact that you can make going forward.

You can do that by showing them why they need what you have right now using effective content and marketing strategies.

3. Measuring performance and results

It you sell stuff online it’s relatively easy to assess whether things are working or not. You can get to the bottom line with total sales, orders and customers or you can use metrics like the conversion rate to give you a sense of how effective the site is in turning visitors to customers.

That’s measuring results.

But if you run non-transactional websites, you need to have a different perspective to measure your return on investment. Specifically you will need to look at the activities that happen on the site.

This is measuring performance.

These are probably the best way to gauge your conversion rate which requires a level of scientific assumptions.

  • Does the number of visits have an impact on the awareness of the campaign?
  • How does pages views relate to the amount of information being consumed?
  • How many people took the action that you’ve put in place? Such as download a PDF content or request for moreinformation via a contact form.
  • Where are people “going” on your site? You can craete a visual of your visitor’s click path by using Google Analytics content Drilldown and In-Page analytics

Basically you can make some pretty reasonable assumptions using web analytics system, but it simply can’t tell you exactly what the visitors ended up doing at the end.

This is why it’s important to measure results not just performance. Results bring you insights that will tell you more about your target audience than your website.

It therefore requires a lot of thinking and coming up with the right hypothesis for testing.

Free vs paid tactics

Most of us don’t know what we don’t know that’s how we end up wasting hours on tactics that will never work.

This is especially true when it comes to implementing your traffic generation strategies.

Here are some “free” tactics to get traffic:

  • Submit your site to search engines, content directories, news sites, social bookmarking sites, RSS aggregators and share them on social networks
  • Publish quality content (articles, videos, podcasts, infographics) that embeds the keywords you want to rank in mind
  • Guest post on blogs in your niche area that ranks high, you can start with Google contextual search
  • Comment on other people’s blog by elevating the conversation not spamming with your links
  • Start conversations in social media and make sure you include links to your website on your profile page. You can start by answering questions on Linked or respond on Twitter
  • Build an email list if you don’t already have one and direct them to your web properties
  • Sign up for HARO and participate
  • Submit content to free press release websites, check out this list of paid and free ones
  • Include links in your outbound documents to clients such as invoices, postcards, RFPs, reports, make it fun and interesting (has to be done tastefully)

Although those are considered free tactics, they may not be free if you don’t get the results you want. And don’t forget your time isn’t free!

Now here are the no so free tactics:

  • Advertise on websites where your target audience visits the most (e-publications, web portals, forums or blogs), this can be in the form of banners, sponsored content, endorsed links or joint venture promotions
  • Contribute (recycle) content to partners, affiliates and complimentary products (make sure you arm them with tools to market your name)
  • Sponsor events or better yet start one, even a Twitter chat is a start
  • The good’o pay-per-click on Google still works but also checkout Bing and Facebook, both have less competition and spam
  • Hire writers and bloggers to help you create content using services such as Junta42 or use the Problogger job board
  • Join a paid networking group both online or offline, you can find some via Ning or Meetup
  • Submit content to paid press release website, check out this list of paid and free ones
  • Publish an eBook, write a report (whitepaper) or webinar
  • Start a giveaway

The take away: As I write this I know there are new ways to get traffic such as hiring people on Fiverr to fabricate you arbitrary social proof.

Just remember that black hat tricks such as the ones BMW and JC Penney did will ultimately hurt you in the long run.

So be honest with what’s working and what isn’t, what was smoking mirror and what wasn’t. Keep doing what’s working and stop doing what’s not. Done right, getting traffic is a lot like selling water in the desert.

Remember, the quality of your traffic has a direct impact in the rate of your conversion.

Not only will you need to understand why they’re here, you need to be able to convince them to take the action you want them to take.

So stop focusing on obtaining large amount of unqualified traffic.

Instead focus on collecting and profiling your prospects and customers. There is no excuse now with all the advance tools you can profile just about anyone using a combination of social CRM and behavior targeting techniques.

How to Create Your Unforgettable Elevator Pitch

by Eric Tsai

How to Create Your Unforgettable Elevator Pitch

Have you ever tried to tell someone about your online business or your idea for a business, but when you did, their eyes glazed right over?

You feel stupid or self-conscious because you know they’re bored, confused or just don’t get it.

The truth is we’re already inundated with information and overloaded with work everyday that most everything just aren’t that interesting to us.

In fact, most of us happen to think, say and do the same things everyday. We just do it with slight variations.

This is why you can’t help wanting to check your emails, tweets and text messages to see what’s fresh coming down the information pipeline.

It’s human nature.

So how do you talk about what you do in a powerful way that people will not only stop and listen but maintain their attention all the way through?

You need an elevator pitch – a way for you to instantly spark interest from your audience.

Here are a few key elements to a compelling elevator pitch.

Be specific and focus on the problem you solve

Elevator pitch is how you talk about what you do not your personal mission to change the world so focus on the specifics.

The critical mistake that most people make when asked “what do you do” is that they either go with a micro-level answer of telling people their daily tasks at their job (I do accounting) or the macro-level answer of describing the industry they’re in (I’m in IT).

The problem?

Everyone has a different perception of what a compute programmer does or what it means to be working in sales. In fact, the less specific answer you provide the more confusing it gets.

Instead of talking about abstract concepts, focus in on how you help people, specifically, the problem(s) that you solve.

It’s should not be your personal mission to change the world because most people are process-orientated, nobody really cares about what you do; it’s about HOW you do it!

It’s not about selling or using fancy words

Elevator pitch is a way to effectively wake up people from their daily routines and sparks their curiosity so they’re interested to know what you have to offer.

It is not about how you can impress people with jargons that make you sound smart (even though you’re). Great elevator pitches bring awareness to people so it makes sense to them to shift their attention to what you have to say.

Fancy words or phrases often requires your audience to “figure it out” which leads to disconnects and confusion. Stay away from them and use simple words that are easy to understand.

It should sound like something that happens in the real world that’s tangible, external, measurable and specific.

How to create unforgettable elevator pitch

Now that you know the key elements of a compelling elevator pitch, here is a simple template to use when creating your elevator pitch.

Start by saying, “you know how some people have this problem?”

Replace “this problem” with the problem or challenge that you solve.

Then continue with, “well, I offer this solution.”

Replace “this solution” with how the problem is solved.

Do not describe your business or the process of what your product does.

Here is an example.

You know some people have stuff they want to get rid off but don’t want to give it all away for free? Well I offer a website that allows them to auction anything off to the highest bidder. (eBay anyone?)

To take this even further, you could narrow it down to a specific group of people and their problems. The trick is to add some conveniences by using words such as with or without and recaps the entire pitch at the end.

You know how parents after their kids are grown want to get rid of all their baby stuff without giving it all away for nothing?

Well, I offer an online auction website that lets them sell their used baby stuff within a week or we’ll offer to buy it from them. Do you know any parents that want to get paid with their used baby stuff?

Remember, you can tailor the pitch to fit any scenarios or situation depending on your audience. This way you’ll have different versions of your elevator pitch to use when you meet a friend, an investor, a partner or a prospective customer.

So, what do you do?

[This article was published on VentureBeat’s Entrepreneur Corner]

Social Media Science: The Five W’s of Twitter Marketing

by Eric Tsai

Social Media Science: The Five W’s Of Twitter Marketing

If you’re doing any kind of Internet marketing you know the importance of fact gathering especially if you’re just starting out investing time, money and resources in social media. We’re now well into the “early majority” phase of social media, it’s time to take a look at some interesting data for a peak behind the social media curtains.

When strategizing your marketing campaign it’s critical to give yourself the highest chance of success. And by that I mean taking meaningful actions from reliable data not just making assumptions.

The “medium” is no longer the message, just habits and channels.

The message, in fact, IS the message.

The Five W’s (and one H) of Twitter

Twitter is probably one of the most talked about social media platform amongst marketers. However; business owners tends to have unrealistic expectations of what it actually can do so let’s focus on the 5 W’s and one H of Twitter.

Since insights don’t announce themselves, I’m going to use the reports from Edison Research, Hubspot, Dan Zarrella and Pew Research to illustrate my points.

These are organized information that can be very useful to help generate insights about your target and the technology they use.

When you have more than just organized data you can make better informed decision on where to allocate your time and resources for your marketing efforts while stimulating new ideas.

Why Tweet

People love to use Twitter to update their personal or professional lives as well as to comment on a relatively wide range of topics. And here is what people like to talk about on Twitter:

what people use twitter for statistics

Although location-based tweets and links to videos are the least commonly mentioned, I suspect that they’ll catch up soon with better, faster and cheaper devices and access to Internet.

Why people follow people?

Another interesting data from Dan Zarrella’s research reveals a list of names you can call yourself to get more followers than the average Twitter account.

Twitter bio words

No surprise here because people naturally like to follow authorities that “appears” to have some sort of influence.

Who Tweets

Despite its popularity, Twitter has yet to go mainstream. But it’s still interesting to see who is using Twitter to identify the demographic should you decide to focus on this channel.

To my surprise there are actually a much higher percentage of African Americans and Hispanics use Twitter than whites.

According to Pew Research, “8% of online adults said they do use Twitter—with 2% doing so on a typical day. This survey also showed that 74% of American adults are internet users, meaning that the Twitter cohort amounts to 6% of the entire adult population.”

Twitter user demographic group

HubSpot’s report also pointed out that 40% of the top 20 Twitter locations in January 2010 are outside North America.

In fact, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science also confirmed the diversity of Twitter users.

The interesting part of it is that Twitter seems to self-segregate around topics and issues with different ethnic groups. So instead of bringing people together in new and innovative ways via technology and Internet, people are more divide as a result.

Another fascinating data about Twitter users is that they tend to be more educated with higher household income which can be cross referenced via data from Edison Research.

Twitter users education

Twitter user income level

For those targeting market segments that are well educated with money, Twitter is definitely worth a look.

The next piece of attractive data is valuable specifically for businesses:

  • 42% of Twitter users wish to learn about products and services
  • 41% already provide opinions about them
  • 28% want discounts and offers and 21% claim to purchase products
  • 19% are using Twitter for customer support

Twitter users  follow brands

If you want to generate some new top-line revenue for your business, you would likely focus on new customer attraction and Twitter is a great place to start. And to do so you should consider putting together a promotional program with discounts to attract those deal hunters.

However; if your goal is to build long term relationship with your customers who will want to keep buying from you, tread carefully before you start tweeting discounts to one-time customers who will never pay full-price.

Knowing your customer on Twitter can greatly increase the effectiveness of your Internet marketing campaign especially when combined with direct response marketing tactics.

Once you know who you’re talking to you just have to find them using a combination of Google and Twitter search, a technique I’ve outlined in this post: How to Use Google and Twitter to Find Your Customers.

What to Tweet

Ahhh…the $54,000 question of what do people tweet? What should you tweet? Well, it really depends on why you’re using Twitter for what purpose.

For this we turn to another Dan’s awesome research on what to tweet to get the most retweet “scientifically.”

what to tweet

What I like about these data is that it provides a solid starting point to craft your Twitter campaign. Needless to say that in marketing “everything is a test” so make sure you are sending out interesting, relevant tweets that communicates value.

When to Tweet

If you’ve done email marketing, you know the importance of timely delivery. It’s about being at the right place at the right time and this applies to Twitter as well.

According to HubSpot’s report, the best day to tweet is Thursday and Friday while the best times to tweet are 3 -5 pm as well as 9 – 11pm Eastern Time.

Twitter tweets distribution by hour

Twitter tweets distribution by day

I’ve personally seen traffic statistics that agrees with those days and times.

Again like the W for “what to tweet,” time to tweet serves as a good foundation to start sending out your well crafted tweets.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t mean you won’t get retweets or clicks during off peak hours, you just have less traffic to engage with but it also means less competition.

Similar to how often you check your emails, how frequent Twitter users check their tweets also reveal the fact that half of the Twitter users NEVER check their streams which means there is a high chance that they simply won’t get to read majority of your tweets.

Twitter user checking tweets

That doesn’t mean you can’t keep “pushing” out messages. In fact, Guy Kawasaki tweets every minute of every hour of everyday, with repeat tweets too! That seems to be working for him so make sure you have a way to measure and track your retweets and clicks like how you would track your website statistics with Google Analytics.

You can start with free tools like Hootsuite or TweetDeck.

Where to Tweet

Much like the diversity we see in who’s tweeting, the location of where people are tweeting is relatively proportional.

Twitter self reported locations

Location can be a key piece if you’re business requires foot traffic such as retail stores, restaurants or if you’re selling to a specific geographic. Its just another metric to keep your eyes on and overtime you may see a trend developing that’s worth conducting another split testing.

How People Tweet

According to Twitter’s own blog post “The Evolving Ecosystem,” 16% of all new users to Twitter start on mobile now.

Besides Twitter app for mobile devices such as the iPhone and BlackBerry being the most popular ways to access Twitter, third-party apps make up 14% of all unique Twitter users.

top 10 twitter apps

Again this is in line with Twitter users being educated with high household income. I fully expect more mobile usage out of Twitter and more integration efforts from brands to cultivate this dynamic channel.

The take away: Twitter is like a huge chat room (or a big party) with people talking about different things. And people can choose from a variety of interesting conversations on Twitter with different purposes.

Like all decisions in business you must first identify your desire outcome before you jump in. A clear well-defined business and marketing objectives will bring clarity to unrealized assumptions.

And assumptions in marketing should be based on relevant data that can help you connect to your customer’s needs and desires in an attempt to reveal more about how people want to feel rather than just what they think.

Simply put, most of us just won’t come out and say how we feelabout everything in life and this applies to how we buy as well.

We buy base on how we feel not just what we think, it’s a constant battle between the two during the decision making process.

If you want to build a long term relationship with your customers, focus on relationship not just triggering the buy button.

And Twitter is another great platform to cultivate that relationship.

Why are you interested in using Twitter for marketing? Why do you believe you’re better invested there than in other channels of marketing?

I have no doubt that there will be more bright shiny objects like Twitter to come alone in the future but the critical element remains the same: identify the “Five W’s” (and one H) first: why, what, who when, where and how.

At the end, social media is just push marketing with the ability for the other side to push back.

Why Content Marketing Can Get You More Customers

by Eric Tsai

Why Content Marketing Can Get You More Customers

Content is critical in today’s marketing. With so much competition you have to be able to differentiate your product from your competitors by creating unique content.

As a business professional, experts, marketer or even just a blogger who’s trying to navigate the changing landscape of this digital media evolution, you must understand that the routes connecting customers, companies, products, and services are becoming more unpredictable, complex and disruptive.

If you want to survive and thrive you need to realize that every aspect of every business is increasingly carried out through the media.

This is basically a revolution in communication on a scale not seen since the invention of the printing press.

From advertising and marketing to sales and customer service, everything in business is more likely to happen on a computer or mobile device connected to the Internet. All businesses must learn to think like media companies and become trusted curators and providers of content across all new media platforms.

And with this real-time dynamic platform that’s changing how people consume media, it also brought a new level of distribution, replication, sharing and the value of content marketing.

Here are 3 keys to remember when creating your content marketing strategy.

Customers Are in Control

Everything is converging into an interlaced network of content and this means you have every opportunity and chance of making the headlines tomorrow or going viral on YouTube.

You could fall to the same threats facing the TV networks, newspapers and magazines.

What threats are we talking about here?

Think about what happens when you flip to a lousy TV show or scan across a boring ad in a magazine? The same thing that happens to an uninteresting online banner – it gets tuned out!

Your customers can post feedback on your blog, review your service vie Yelp or complaint via Twitter.

The Internet has provided your customer much more leverage and power to take control of the relationship they have with your business.

In order to be successful in growing your business, you must walk the walk and deliver whatever you promise in your marketing.

In fact, you can hire top marketers to drive traffic to your website but if you sell a crappy product or have poor customer service people can read about it instantly hurting your reputation and bottom line.

It’s not just about setting up your products or services as the answer to the challenges your prospects and customers are facing, that’s just the marketing part of it.

Your solution simply has to work.

Content is Marketing

As marketers you can use social media as a way to get you message out which allows you to position yourself or your business.

Just like newspapers and magazines, you get readers to react and respond to your social media content.

But don’t confuse medium and the message. Social media is just a vehicle (mostly push marketing) to carry out your content you still need to create engaging content, magnetic copies and effective headlines.

Good publications retain customers and get more advertisers because they’re able to add and keep subscribers consistently.

That’s the beauty of subscription based business model; you’re exchanging attention for revenue so the key is keep coming up with relevant and interesting content.

Keep in mind that all the value starts with the content and the media simply being the delivery mechanism.

Whether you’re writing a book, content for your marketing, or a blog post you want people to act on, the key is to give your customers what they need to make decisions and take actions to get the result they want.

There is no difference between content and marketing.

The quality of the content and its ability to give people the action steps and the information they need to be effective is critical to your success.

Relationship Sells

The difference between how an expert thinks and how a marketer thinks can be the key that’s holding you back from growing your business.

Yes, content is marketing and marketing is sales.

And great marketing is great salesmanship. But what most business professionals, coaches and gurus often forget about salesmanship is that it’s built on trusting relationships.

And in today’s over-communicated digital world, trust is already hard to come by because there is already a huge distrust in general information that’s out there so earning trust should be your top priority as a way to start building long-lasting relationships with your customers.

In fact according to the Gallup poll, a record 57% of Americans say they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly

Distrust in U.S. Media Edges Up to Record High

Real relationship requires a two-way conversation – a receive and response, response and response mechanism. Don’t make assumptions on what your customers want, hear what they’re saying and listen.

Look at all the top publications like The Economist, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal, you’ll find that they all have strong relationship with their audience because they truly understand and give their customers what they want and what they need.

Bottom line, you need to do everything you can to understand what your customers want and the most effective way is to truly focus on getting your customer’s perceived needs met by becoming the customer.

The take away: Unlike the old days where a powerful distributor can help you boost sales due to the lack of distribution channels and competitors (think TV with only 3 channels to watch).

Today there are thousands of distributors and having a large distribution channel will not overcome the true value of your content.

Experts are so used to broadcasting and receiving on what the customers need based on their professional experience that they often just want to get to the end – stuffing down what the customers need (with good intention) asking for the sale.

However; in today’s hyper-connected world, content marketing is the new new thing.

If you want to get more customers you must learn to leverage content marketing and get inside the minds of your customer.

How to Create Magnetic Copy to Maximize Your Content Appeal

by Eric Tsai

Getting people to take actions from your content requires a deep connection with your audience.

We all know the need to implement the right tactics to capture the emotion that leads to those desirable actions. Provide valuable content, use ethical SEO (search engine optimization) tactics, give away free eBooks, free webinars, whitepapers, special reports, you name it.

But if you really want to elevate your conversion rate, you need to understand the art and science of content marketing.

You need to figure out what motivates your audience to click here and sign up there.

Why people give their emails away to complete strangers, follow every call-to-action and come back for more.

Let’s look at the 3 keys of creating powerful content to help you increase your product appeal.

Grab and Keep Attention

How do you read newspaper? How about magazines? Do you every sentence of every word from start to finish cover to cover?

If you do, that’s great, but for rest of us we scan.

In today’s drive-by attention grabbing culture, people do judge a book by its cover.

That’s why magnetic copy must have magnetic headlines that get people curious. It should always be organize around benefits, the “what’s in it for me” must jump out at your prospective customers.

This is why content marketing mimics the format of news with powerful headlines, sub-headlines and bullets. Simply put, human beings are wired to tune out advertising because that’s the natural of our brain to detect deceptions.

People have less resistance with news style formatted content than advertising that looks like, well, advertising!

So start getting into the mindset that you need to write effective copy in order to grab and keep attention.

Focus your coy on the results that your customer will get instead of what your product does or the fancy technology behind it. Research your customer’s behaviors, attitudes and demographics.

People only really care about themselves so keep your copy simple to the point and write in a way as if it’s you and one other person that are in conversation.

Your content can break through the noise if it’s interesting and exciting.

Demonstrate Social Proof

Ever since we’re little we associate ourselves with certain type of identifiers. Whether it’s the cloths we wear, the car we drive, the food we eat, the music we listen to, we’re obsessed with being part of a group.

This is human nature and the foundation of our society.

When people first land on your website or visits your social media profile they are looking for validation. The idea of social proof is all about perceived value of your influence and authority.

Who you are, what you do and why should people trust you?

You simply can NOT ignore the fact that people will form opinions in their own mind that reflects the perceived status of your stuff. You literally have less than 10 seconds to make an impression and that’s your instant reputation.

If you want your visitors to stay you must show them you’ve got the goods.

You can do this by leveraging testimonials and user-generated content (UGC) such as reviews or questions and answers (Q&A). Then follow up with some high value stuff that resonates with them right away.

Another method is to show the number of subscribers, comments, retweets or followers you have. The bottom line is that social proof is all about positioning.

Get Them To Take Action

So now you’ve demonstrated your expertise across multiple communities. The next step is to get your audience to take action.

Getting people to take action on the internet is all direct response marketing strategy with effective copywriting techniques. This means integrating measurable call-to-action that gets your visitors to do what it is that you want them to do.

It can be as direct as asking people to buy your product, contact you, input their personal information, share your content or leave a comment.

The trick here is that you must provide enough real value to earn the trust of your prospective customer so you can start building a relationship with them.

People are more likely to do what you ask if you’re open, honest and transparent.

Speak like a friend and stay relevant is the key to motivate people to take action.

The take away: Magnetic copy is about appeal and getting attention not about you or what you know. It’s about becoming your customer and getting people genuinely interested so they will want to know more, see more and take actions that you anticipated by design.

Your customers don’t want your product, service or sign up for anything. What they want is the solution to their problems.

Sure you can create content that appears to do that but ultimately magnetic content helps connecting the dots in all your information to drive out miscommunication.

Real effective content actually does help people and get them the result they want.

How about you? Are you creating content that sticks? Share your top tip for creating effective content in the comments.

Why You Need Email Marketing More Than Social Media

by Eric Tsai

With more than 500 million active users and the recent surge overtaking Google in time spent on site, you would think that Facebook is the king of content sharing. However; a recently research from Chadwick Martin Bailey found that email still tops Facebook for content sharing.

According to eMarketer, “86% of survey respondents said they used email to share content, while just 49% said they used Facebook. Broken down by age, the preference for email is more pronounced as users get older. And only the youngest group polled, those ages 18 to 24, reverses the trend, with 76% sharing via Facebook, compared with 70% via email.”

So what does this mean to your business?

For one, just like what the article points out social network sharing revealed much of our self-interested motivations behind sharing.

People love stories, especially stories about themselves. Unless you’re an effective marketer, most of us make decisions on how we feel about the relevancy of the content based on what we think was interesting, funny or helpful. Furthermore social sharing via Facebook is more about the person sharing while sharing via email is more about the recipients.

This goes back to knowing the customer and understand the habits of what people use and why. Social media will continue its explosive growth but marketers must not focus on tactics at the expense of strategy.

Here are 3 tips to help you focus on strategy rather than tactics:

Picture Your Outcome

You need the right motivation to help you identify what needs to be done to get the results you want. A Facebook fan page, be on the first page of Google or a YouTube channel is not a goal. They should be the contributing factor to getting your goal.

Set your objectives (usually has to do with sales goals) and figure out the tactics that can get you there efficiently and cost effectively. Reverse engineer from your outcome by doing research, ask questions, conduct tests and architect your sale funnel.

Talk to every customer facing points of your business, come up with a mixture of tactics so when one doesn’t work you have alternatives to implement immediately.

Become Your Customer

It’s always interesting to me that everyone talks about listening and conversing especially in the topic of social media marketing. Don’t get me wrong, there is definite value in monitoring Twitter feeds, LinkedIn Answer or check your sentiment via Social Mention.

The challenge for most marketers is that you’re still thinking from your perspective to simulate what might be going on in your customer’s head.

Don’t just send out surveys. Sit down and talk to as many customers as you can and just drill down with meaningful questions deeper and deeper. Figure out where they’re coming from and what do they think they want.

What does your solution have to do with their challenges? Is it obvious to them that they need your products or services to overcome their problems?

Know the difference between listening and feeling like your customers.

Identify Quality vs Quantity

Generating high quality leads should always be the number one focus over the amount of leads. From a business perspective, it’s about what you do with the lead and the opportunities it generates.

This applies to content as well across blogs, landing pages and social networks. Your audience will find value in your content if it’s relevant in solving their problem. Move the “free line” so they will step into the funnel.

Come up with your own system to rank your leads, clicks, retweets, likes on an ongoing basis and measure the effectiveness and impact of each channel.

It’s useless if you have bunch of weak leads that you spent a lot of time on trying to convert, instead focus on capturing those sales-ready prospects and lead them down the funnel.

Remember people have all kinds of reasons not to buy, it takes time to nurture leads so put more emphasis on finding those already looking for your solution (hot leads) will yield optimal ROI (return on your invested). Try testing your ideas with Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising.

It’s cheap to spend a little and get some proof of concepts that brings clarity to your assumptions.

The Take Away: Email marketing is about your audience and should be consider your top weapon from your marketing toolbox. It’s more personal and secure in many people’s eyes so tread carefully but don’t be afraid to test and find out about your customers. Learn, create, measure and improve.

I’ve always been an advocate of email marketing and will continue to stick with my opinion that email marketing is here to stay but business owners and marketers must recognize the implications of social medias well as SEO on email marketing. For more information on integrated the 3 read: How to Integrate Email Marketing, SEO and Social Media for more details.

7 Ways To Elevate The Perceived Value Of Your Content

by Eric Tsai

measuring value

Understand how people learn, think and communicate is the key to create effective marketing. In fact, communication is the core of your marketing and if you know how to leverage it, you will be able to elevate the perceived value of your products and services so people are willing to pay higher price for as soon as they see it.

However; it’s often much more counter intuitive than you think. It all comes down to what you say and then how you say it via your communication.

So what is communication?

According to Wikipedia, “…Communication requires that all parties have an area of communicative commonality. There are auditory means, such as speech, song, and tone of voice, and there are nonverbal means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, through media, i.e., pictures, graphics and sound, and writing.”

In other words the only way to open up the communication channel is by having a common medium, a means to understand and relate the information that’s being communicated.

The problem is everyone has a different style of communicating and learning thus the goal of marketing communication is to eliminate misunderstanding.

For example, when I say the word “car” what kind of car are you picturing in your head? A big SUV or a small sedan? A red sports coupe or a family minivan? Is it a Cadillac or a Lexus?

This is one of the biggest content marketing challenges in today’s attention fighting world especially with barriers such as information overload and attention deficit resulting in loss of concentration and focus on an ongoing basis.

There is a high chance that you’re losing your audience as you speak because everything is moving so fast and people can’t help but want instant information gratification.

As it turns out, in marketing you need to create crystal clear communications that are as specific, tangible, measurable and external as possible.

That’s exactly what great copywriters do, they write compelling stories that builds trust and use words that describe real world situations, things you can see, feel, touch and experience.

And since most purchase decisions are made by the emotional part of our brain, ineffective communication will never result in a sale so it is up to you to position the purchase in his minds.

Here are seven ways to help you build influence by mastering the basics of high perceived value communication:

1. Communicate Like How You Would Speak

If you want people to like and trust you, start by communicating like a normal person in a one on one plain English.

The key is to make your communication frictionless and easy to understand since everyone is not your customer so speak to people about what they want to talk about, in the way that they want to talk about it.

It’s not about being perfect but being authentic and on target to appeal to one market at a time.

2. Create Self-Contained Concept of Your Content

By making your content self-contained, you can reduce complexity while maximizing understandability especially when introducing a new product or a new idea.

This type of content should be modularized, to the point and does not take a lot of time to consume.

First introduce it by bringing the concept to the table then explain it in a practical way that conveys the outcome that your prospect want and finally connect the dots for them and wrap it up.

3. Look For Pain And Urgency

When people have unmet needs they become more idealistic about their situation.

Not only will they believe that they know what they need to solve the problem but will start to think in simple terms to get to their solution.

Focus on delivering simple action steps that would provide the result they want predictably and consistently with as little risk and hassle as possible.

Do you know what thoughts, emotions or pictures pop up in their head when they encounter that exact pain or problem?

Connect on high pain and urgency values will instantly grab their attention.

4. Translate What You Do With What They Value

Realize what motivates your customers is one of the most effective way to get them to take actions. You must be able to communicate the value of what they want and realize the meaning of their desire outcome and its direct impact to their lives.

Translate it in all 3 currencies they want: monetary value, time investment value and labor/workload value.

5. Use Powerful Reframes To Increase Understandability

Leverage psychologies, histories, insights and stories to frame your content into high perceived value formats. Involve their situation in multiple perspectives will dramatically increase the specificity of your communication.

It will also likely increase the memorability and appeal of your products by structuring and organizing them into alternative frameworks that eliminates misunderstanding. It’s saying the same thing in many different ways.

6. Provide The Why, What and How To’s

In order to do that you must be on top of your customer’s emotional drivers knowing what benefits they’re looking for and what value meanings to them.

Incorporate the why, the what and how into your stories.

Explain to your customer why they should pay attention to you right now then introduce what it is, the actual product or services they’re going to get, and finally how to get the result they want with what they get, the step by step recipe.

7 Minimize Risk Maximize confidence

Getting customers to take the action to buy is about making everything “believable.” It is not simply about taking all the risk out but just enough that it doesn’t seem too good to be true.

It’s leading with the giving hand, earning trust over time and building reputation slowly via social proof.

Allowing your prospects to come to their own conclusion that leads to their own decision is a very powerful confident booster.

It’s both emotional and psychological commitment.

The take away: People want stories, techniques and someone that “gets them.” High perceived-value communication should include all those ideas. Then you roll them up in an easy to digest package full of incentives with the promise of great value.

Give your market what they want and you will be rewards with brand loyalty and market share.

At the end of the day it’s ok that you don’t speak to everyone, you only need to resonate with those that get you that you get them.

Effective marketing is not about manipulation, it’s about being human, it will multiply your sales.

The 6 Habits Of Highly Effective Marketers

by Eric Tsai

Most business owners, experts and professionals understand the importance of providing non-promotional, educational content during the beginning of the relationship with a customer.

In essence, content marketing is information marketing, and information marketing is the new currency on the Internet. The challenge is how to translate your information into products with high perceived value.

It’s indicative that every business can now be called an information business because we all need some kind of information to make our decisions, learn how to solve our problems or to help us get what we want in life.

Simply put we want our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs met in order to take actions.

And getting people to take action through marketing is the most valuable skill anyone can learn and master. (Not to mention it’ll also improve your interpersonal relationships and communication skills.)

This is why great marketers focus on communicating the value and translating the utility of the information. Whether the goal is to get the prospect to click on your website link, sign up for your newsletter, join your coaching program or buy your information product, it requires meeting the right balance of Needs versus Wants from the prospect’s perspective.

Done right, you can leverage powerful internet tools to attract pre-interested and pre-motivated prospects that are ready to buy and start a business relationship with you.

Not only will you be perceived as an influential authority but you will gain credibility and trust without having to convince people to buy your product.

So what does it take to be an effective marketer today? Here are six traits of highly effective marketers:

1. Effective Marketers Make No Assumptions

People often don’t question their own assumptions about what will work.

Majority of the entrepreneurs, experts, marketers like to spill out their solution without asking what exactly their customers “think they want” that can solve their problems.

Imagine a doctor telling you what’s wrong with you by just looking at you from a distance. Even if the doctor has the correct diagnose, would you trust their advice? Great marketers know that they don’t know what they don’t know. They ask questions and dig deeper below the surface to identity the pain, urgency and frustration of their customers.

In addition to finding out what the problems are, it can also serve as your free market research.

Start talking to all your prospects and customers everyday and continue asking why until you get to the root cause, you may be surprise what’s going on inside their reality.

Take a look at this recent research insight provided by MarketingSherpa and IDG from surveying buyers and B2B marketers about specific factors that motivate recipients to opt-in, open and engage with vendor email.

Notice the difference between what marketer and buyer values. Buyers actually gave the highest rank to promotional content!

2. Effective Marketers Are Storytellers

Once you have identified your customer’s problems, help them make the logical connection between their needs and your solution (product or services) one step at a time.

This way they don’t have to work to figure out how to use your knowledge or expertise to solve their problem; instead you reverse engineer your solution from their problems.

Top marketers know how to connect the dots by using narrative to set the quickly get people’s attention. It’s one of the 3 most effective content marketing techniques you can use.

The idea is to ensure your solution sounds exactly like what’s going to solve their problem when you finally get to introduce it typically “at the end” so it’s easier to digest.

Keep in mind that you should never present your solution prematurely, it will only create disconnects which leads to distrust.

Maintaining the communication channel open is critical in facilitating the buying process because people don’t care about your products and services, they just care about themselves. So even with storytelling, guest who’s perspective and story do customers like to hear? (Hint: read the last sentence again.)

3. Effective Marketers Build Relationships

What is relationship and why important?

Everyone talks about relationship but what exactly is relationship?

Here is the definition of relationship from Wikipedia: “Relationships usually involve some level of interdependence. People in a relationship tend to influence each other, share their thoughts and feelings, and engage in activities together. Because of this interdependence, most things that change or impact one member of the relationship will have some level of impact on the other member.”

So a relationship can impact one another mentally, physically and emotionally.

This is why social media is a great way to relate with each other to see if the other person is like you, identify a common ground to connect via LinkedIn, follow on Twitter and “friend” on Facebook.

In fact, a relationship is a process to continue to relate until we feel related, full of emotions and thoughts of the other person.

A critical mistake many struggling experts, marketers and business owners make is thinking of their customers as “its” they can manipulate. Wrong!

Great marketers focus on building relationship to have trust, admiration and credibility that extends beyond business transactions not to mention people will buy more and refer to from those they like and trust.

4. Effective Marketers Are Givers

People often forget that trust is earned over time typically on a more intimate level. In order to introduce your great product or services, you need to earn the right to ask for the sell.

This is the framework of the “freemium” business model, where you offer so much value to your prospect that their respect for you goes up instantly.

This requires you to supply relevant content or information and ultimately give away your best stuff to show that you’ve got the goods! (Do you?)

This feels counter-intuitive to most experts and business owners because they feel like they’ve earn the right to charge for their expertise or services through years of experience or training.

The problem is they, the customers, don’t know and won’t believe that you’re in their best interest until they get to know you.

Effective marketers aren’t afraid to give away their best stuff because knowing how to drive a car doesn’t mean you’ll win a race even if you start with the fastest car.

Authors like Seth Godin, Yaro Starak, Brian Clark, Michael Steizner and Darren Rowse are great example of over-delivering their value so when it’s time to ask for a sale, readers usually come to expect and respect what they bring to the table.

5. Effective Marketers Know Everything Is A Test

Today, the market moves so fast that it’s important to understand the real goal of marketing is to focus on the long-term strategies to get customers.

There is no silver bullet that will bring you sustainable instant results. In fact, it’s vital to have the right mindset knowing that every action you take is to validate your ideas from fact gathering.

Great marketers do not hold their ego to their chest; they look for facts and data that enable them to make incremental improvements.

This is why direct response marketing delivers better results than institutional branding and advertising.

They have different appeals with different purpose but direct marketing is more effective in small to medium size business than branding or making logos and websites “look nice.”

Your investment in marketing efforts should always be measurable in some ways, think of it as making progress not perfection.

The best marketing ROI is about profiting from the time and money invested in your tests! You would test the water before you jump into the pool or drink a hot soup right?

6. Effective Marketers Are Laser Focused On A Niche

Successful marketer choose a niche and stick to it. They inject all the experience, knowledge, theories and ideas they have and consistently create content around it.

Everything is narrowly focused so it speaks to those that are looking for solutions in that topic.

They deliver bite size chunks of information to ensure that their audience learn and take actions. Ultimately it’s about delivering value that are solutions not just suggestions.

Since people aren’t good at valuing anything with out learning (more information again), top marketers knows to create techniques or systems that enable the prospects to understand the value of the solution.

Simply put, great niche marketing minimizes misunderstand and delivers high value information that pushes the buy button.

And to do that, it requires focusing on the needs of the customer without assumptions. (goes back to#1 above)

A great method to do that is to learn Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling technique by focusing on asking the right Situational questions (find out what’s going on), Problem questions (challenges happening), Implication questions(what the challenge implies) and the Needs-payoff questions (the price tag on solving the challenge).

The take away: Marketing is a skill that you can learn and should be practiced everyday. In fact, thanks to the internet today there is very little barrier to entry for anyone to do marketing.

The information are all out there, you just need to follow some simple steps to start marketing your product, services or your personal brand.

The six traits are the building blocks to form powerful influence which is explained by Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion as ethical persuasion in reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency.

What do you think the most important trait of a marketer is? What worked well or not so well for you?

If you like to become a more effective marketer or learn more tips on how to market your business, sign up for my Profitable Knowledge FREE course below.