Stop paying attention to the time you spend on social media, and you’ll find most of it gone.
Social media works well for growing your customer base fast. But you need to make sure you use your time efficiently.
Instead of wandering the web for content ideas, use these sources to streamline your process:
1. Twitter Search & Lists
Pretty simple and straightforward here. Go to Twitter and use the “search box” in the upper right. People tweet and share so much that you have an endless number of pieces of content to share.
Sift through your sources carefully. Visit the website to make sure it’s quality content. Twitter has a varying range of quality.
Once you find good sources, add them to a “List.” When you visit that list, then you only see shares from people you have on that list.
Another easy one here. Visit Buzzsumo. Type in your targeted keyword. A list of content ideas come up. They’re ranked according to the number of social shares each gets.
So you know the top content is already liked and worthwhile to share.
3. Know the Content Leaders in Your Industry
It’s obvious when you visit their website. They have a gorgeous one. Many of their blog posts have a fair amount of social shares. This is as simple as bookmarking their site and visiting it each time you’re ready to share.
This one works well if you target a male customer interested in tech, under the age of 35, and with liberal political views. They have an above-average salary.
Reddit has sub-categories or “sub-reddits” specific to certain interests. So you can get plenty of content ideas there.
This website features the most popular blogs in many niches. And you get access to many of the blogs that float just below the radar.
So there’s lots of opportunity to find unique content ideas.
This app scans RSS feeds across the web. Simply visit the site, enter your topic, or click on one of the categories already present
7. Don’t Forget Your Own Stuff!Â
Follow the 80/20 rule on Twitter. 80% of your content should come from outside sources.
But 20% can come from you too!
Following this ratio makes your followers feel like you’re not trying to push your company on them and make a sale. Producing enough content to account for 20% of your tweets is hard.
But once you’ve built up a nice stack of blog posts, you can promote them repeatedly for months or years.
You Do Have Permission to Tweet Like a Maniac!
I’m 100% serious here. For example, Guy Kawasaki, a marketing influencer with 1.4 million Twitter followers, tweets 50 times per day. Each tweet goes out 4 times (once every 8 hours) to reach a wider audience.
Stuck in a tight place in your business or life?
Need some way to get the cash flowing…now?
Everyone gets into tight spots at one time or another. And we’re here to help you out.
Get your revenues going now with these high-margin products, and then figure out where to go:
1. Laptops & Mobile Phones
There is a bit of a qualifier with these. You do have to have them sourced at prices that work for your profits margins. You’ll want to be able to double the prices.
2. Eyeglass Frames
According to Wisebread.com, these sell with a markup of 800-1000%! And that goes both online and off. TR90 eyeglasses, for example, are durable but don’t cost much to make.
3. Designer Jeans
Some report the margins for these jeans at up to 650%. Another nice thing is, that if you’re running your business out of your home, they store easy.
4. Bottled Water
Some leading brands can be marked up 4,000%! But of course the caveat is you still have to move a lot of volume to make a good profit. And you’ll need plenty of space to store the product.
5. Niches with Lots of Accessories, Like TVs
You may not want to sell TVs themselves. But, they’re not the reason you really sell, because they don’t have great margins.
Instead, you sell them for all the upsales you can make. For example, a $30 HDMI cable may have the same margin as the average TV.
Okay, so this one’s a bit of a risk because you’ll need some good cash to actually but one or two. But, you get a great margin and net profit in return.
As your business gains traction, you might buy a couple to quickly boost your revenues.
So, these are a little more difficult to sell too. But, they do have nice margins, and you can start at almost any price.
Bonus Tip: Your marketing makes a huge difference.Â
Marketing shapes your customer’s perception of your products. You could position yourself as a “quality provider” of many different products.
When customers see your products do have great quality, and they experience your stellar service, they have good reason to buy from you and not anyone else.
Finally: Stay Out of a Niche!
In business, you always hear the term “niche it to success.” That’s a wise idea in most cases. But when you’re initially selling someone else’s products, focus on high-margin products, not a niche.
If you have low margins – less than 50%, all your time gets eaten up running your business. You don’t have enough money to hire quality employees.
You can’t grow. And that makes your business a burden, not something you enjoy. You’ll hate every day of it.
So when you source your products, do it with great care. And don’t hold back when you find high-margin products that sell.
What better to make another sale than by selling to a customer you already know really likes you?
That’s what your customers who just bought from you are saying.
How do you upsell them when they’re hot – when they just purchased?
1. Sell Related Products and AccessoriesÂ
Just sold a smartphone? Great, there’s only about a million accessories you could sell to your customer. On top of that, if you could target your offers based on customer demographic data, you could show more relevant accessories they could buy.
That would increase your conversion rate.
2. Add a Discount CodeÂ
How much does it cost you to acquire a new customer? We don’t know your exact numbers, but it costs astronomically more than upselling your existing customers. It works that way for every business.
So offer your loyal customers a treat for buying from and give them a discount on their next purchases.
3. Add a Survey
What? How does a survey help you sell?
Well, did you know the typical company hears from only 4% of its irritated customers? The other 96% complain on social media or in person to their friends, coworkers, and family members.
When your customers have legitimate complaints and tell you, you should be grateful and ready to act!
Because when you fix what bugs them, they come back and have more loyalty than ever. Plus, you might give additional benefits your competitors don’t.
4. Start a Referral Program
It’s up to you how you structure it, but give your customers the opportunity to earn rewards for referring their friends and family. Maybe they get a 20% discount on orders over $50 for each successful referral.
Or, they get 1 instance of free shipping with each referral.
Great businesses don’t need to do too much marketing or selling because word-of-mouth does it for them.
5. Let Your Customers Share their Successful Purchase on Social Media
Customers are most excited when they just completed their purchase. Let them spread the word about it for you.
This time, you don’t incent the desired behavior. Instead, you just add social media buttons and ask them to take the action.
6. Ask Customers to Join Your E-mail List
You won’t make sales right away. But your e-mail list represents your very best customers.
Maybe you won’t get a ton of e-mail subscribers. But the ones you do get buy from you repeatedly over the long-term.
And how much does an e-mail cost? An hour or two of your time? Maybe a few bucks each month for the subscription?
You get an awesome ROI with Â your e-mail list.
Don’t Forget about Your E-mail Receipts!
The strategy you choose is up to you. But it’s clear: e-mail receipts are a great marketing opportunity.
It’s a shortcut for you if you can’t design and produce your own product. You get to sell someone else’s product under your own name.
That being said: should you do it? Is it profitable?
Take a look at some reasons to do (and not do) this for your business:
1. How Fast Do You Need to Grow Your Revenues?Â
If you’re just starting out and don’t know what to sell, this can be a great way just to get your revenues going. When you have more money moving, you can invest that into other business processes.
As long as you choose good products, you also look great to your customers because it appears as though you make the product.
2. Help Your Customers Right Away
Let’s say you’ve been hearing from your customers they want a certain type of product. You can develop it on your own and make better profits down the road.
Or you can give it to them now – as long as the product you choose to sell is high-quality.
3. What’s Your Company’s Long-Term Goal?
Do you want to be the most recognized brand in your industry? If that’s the case, you can’t go white-label long-term. However, it could be part of your growth strategy.
At some point, you will have to create enough revenue to build and test your own products.
4. What if Your Private-Label Product Stinks?
Let’s say you thought you had an awesome product – you sell a piece of graphics editing software. You thought it was great.
But then, once you started selling it, you got all sorts of complaints. You’ll have to decide what to do about that.
But, you can’t control the product’s quality. So, you might just have to stop selling your product.
And Â you can’t address the complaints for the product. They’ll have to go to the manufacturer, which could cause confusion and distrust for your customers.
5. Selling Your Business Gets Confusing
Buyers understand direct customer relationships best. If you have to explain whose products you sell and why, buyers lose interest.
That won’t necessarily kill your deal. But it’s going to be much harder to get the full value you want for your business.
6. But You Don’t Want to Make Mistakes Others Have Already Made!
Say you think about making your product. Do you know what mistakes other companies made while trying to create the same kind of product?
If you don’t, you’ll spend all sorts of time making those mistakes and fixing them yourself. That’s a waste of both time and money!
So should you sell white label products? It’s up to you. But, they can help you grow your revenues, which creates money for other business purposes. And you can focus on your core competency, rather than product development.
Is marketing really all about links, keywords, rankings, page load times, click-through rate, and all that technical stuff?That part of internet marketing gets most of the attention.
But what about the other part of your marketing?
You know – the messages you say to your customers, and the words you use to say them. What about Â you as a company?
How do you solve your customer’s problem uniquely? That part of marketing makes an astronomical impact on your sales rates.
But few people or businesses online talk about it! The conceptual part of marketing, which is only ideas, makes up much of your business success.
Have you thought about these aspects of your marketing:
1. Unique Selling Proposition (USP) In 2-3 sentences, this shows how you offer a unique solution to your customer’s problem. Many companies think being “full service” qualifies as a “USP.”
It doesn’t. That’s because many businesses offer “full service.” A USP for a financial planner would be,”I make investing fun and exciting again.”
Many financial planners talk about sound, fundamental strategies that get results. Can you name one that talks about “excitement” and “results?”
2. What Benefits Do You Offer?
Most companies talk about features – facts about their products. They don’t talk about the solutions those features help customers achieve.
Let’s use the proverbial “Customers don’t want to buy a drill – they want a hole in their wall” as an example. That conventional wisdom isn’t true!
Do you want to sit there looking at a hole in your wall? Ick! I don’t.
Instead, customers really want the good feelings associated with hanging their picture on the wall. They want to “feel happy remembering their wedding day” or “make their house a warm and comfortable home.”
What feelings do your customers get from buying your products? Does something in their lives become easier, faster, or more fun?
Focus on selling the feelings and practical results of your products. And you will blow away even established competitors in your field!
3. Are You Fun and Personable?Â
Most online businesses want to bore their customers with their marketing approach. “We have 18 years of experience selling products to…” “Our products are the very best in the industry” and “We have a relentless pursuit of excellence.”
Everyone says those things. So they have no meaning for your customer. And if they have no meaning, your customer has no reason to buy from you instead of someone else.
Keep your conversation lighthearted and fun. Save the serious stuff for your competitors. Tell jokes in your copy. Make witty remarks (in parentheses like this!).
Customers are overloaded with information. If you can entertain and engage, you’ll stand out.
And guess what follows? You’re right – more sales!
Get Your Marketing Right & Good Things Will HappenÂ
You don’t have to hype your products. But you do want to realistically present how they make your customer feel. Get them to envision your benefits, and you’ll have customers lining up to buy from you over and over again.
Are you new to e-commerce? Do you have little money to start?
But you’ve got plenty of time?
Great! Here’s how you’d start marketing and growing revenues right away:
1. First, Have a Professional Design
Design’s actually costly. But that’s only if you hire an agency or independent web designer. Going that route gets you a great design from the start. And if they have e-commerce experience, they may know how to design your website for better sales immediately.
If you don’t have a few grand available for that, then your best bet is a an e-commerce suite. You can pay monthly fees (starting at $10 per month) for many of the basics you need to start, like:
â€˘ An easy online store builder
â€˘ Shopping cart software
â€˘ Payment processing
â€˘ PPC marketing
â€˘ SSL certificates
It takes hours and more money to get these things going on your own time. That may be your best bet to start.
2. Get Your PPC Campaign Going
Yes, PPC costs money. But you don’t need much to start. Just a few hundred bucks per month will do. And you can spend more if it’s available.
PPC takes just a few days to start. But you need to check your campaign daily. Otherwise, your costs skyrocket out of control. At least you get your revenues going so you can start doing other business activity.
You may want to start with Bing/Yahoo first, as they charge more reasonable fees for their advertising than Google’s Adwords.
PPC Hero is a great website to follow to learn more about PPC.
3. Grow Your E-mail ListÂ
This is the huge key early on. Imagine your a prospector in the Old West in the 1840s, and you finally strike gold. That’s what a big e-mail list is like.
Once people buy from you, they trust you enough to buy again. And they repeatedly buy in the future because they love you.
You must give customers an incentive for signing up. This could be something like getting free shipping with your next order when you sign up. And then maybe a referral incentive too – like free shipping for additional orders or a 25% discount for each friend you refer that signs up.
4. Produce Valuable Content
You don’t have to go crazy with this. But you should do at least a 500-word blog post per week. Aim to be the most useful resource on your products in the industry.
If you sell vacuums, teach people simple maintenance steps for vacuums. If you sell sports apparel, tell people what types of clothing work best to boost their sports performance and why.
That’s enough to get your revenues up and going from the start. From there, it’s up to you to make mistakes, adjust, and grow.
Ever had 25-50% of your business disappear literally over night? Expedia lost 25% of their search traffic last year after Google found bought links pointing to their site!
That’s not an unusual drop for websites Google penalizes. We’ve talked about SEO before, but it’s changed so much.
Let’s take a look at what still applies to linking in 2015:
1. Links from Pages with Too Many Outgoing Links (100 or more)
Pages with this many links, or more, may look to Google like directories. For the most part, Google doesn’t want directory links anymore. Also, websites that stuff so many links onto a single page tend to be lower in quality.
2. Too Many Links with Exact Match Anchor Text
Just 1% of your links should be exact match, and ideally 0%. Aim for anchor text with your brand name or homepage link instead. Or attract links to your blog posts. Some should just be random words like “click here,” or whatever naturally fits in the linking site’s content.
3. Links from Sites with No Review Process
If you can simply post your link and leave, don’t get links from that site! You can get forum links this way, but they have little power anymore. Also, since they’re so easy to get, you can fall into the trap of getting too many of them.
And you guessed it – that can trigger a penalty.
4. Not Taking Linking SeriouslyÂ
If you want to rank in organic SEO, you must know linking dos and don’ts well. It only takes a few links – 5-10 – to sink your website’s search rankings.
5. Getting Links from Sites Way Different in Theme than Yours
Say your website’s products are tech-related: smartphones, tablet PCs, computers, and so on. If you get a link from a site about kid’s toys, that won’t do you much good. Get too many of those links, and then you may get a penalty.
You want links from other sites that discuss topics related to what you sell.
6. Not Having No-Follow Links
Any website with a natural link profile would have some no-follow links. SEOs debate whether they pass at least some link juice.
Don’t spend your time actively seeking no-follow links. But do make sure you have a few of them pointing to your site.
7. Exchanging Links with Other Webmasters
You can do this from time to time. 1-5% of your links could be ones where you and other webmasters link to each other’s sites. If you do this on a large scale, Google thinks you want to manipulate its search rankings.
You’ll get a penalty.
These days, the best link is one you don’t ask for. To get links, promote your content, and let other webmasters link to you naturally.
It’s a dream for your customers – the ability to try your products out and return them at no charge.
Not having free shipping is one of the greatest barriers to high sales online. Isn’t one of your greatest hesitations to buying online the fact you can’t physically touch the product?
For example, is that new clothing soft or stiff? You don’t want to buy something only to find out you can’t stand wearing it.
While free shipping is great for your customers, it can be a logistical nightmare for you to pull off behind the scenes.
Here’s some help for you to make that happen:
1. A “Free Returns” Policy Actually Skyrockets Profits
Your results may vary, but one company saw a 357% increase in purchases after offering an unconditional “free returns” policy. You may be tempted to think that if you are “fair and just,” only giving free shipping to customers whose orders were messed up, that they see you as a good company to buy from.
But, that same study found that’s not the reality. Essentially, you make sure you don’t get ripped off, but you also prevent a number of future sales (and net profits) from these customers.
2. Do You Absolutely Have to Work the Numbers Out?Â
If you do, here’s a calculator to help you do the math. It’ll give you the exact profit margin you have leftover after you include all shipping costs.
3. A Few Ways To Make Free Shipping Work
After you quick run the numbers, you might be surprised to see lower profit margins. You will need to increase your profits, in some cases, to make free shipping work for your business.
Good news: there’s things you can do to increase your margins. A few of them:
â€˘ Set a minimum order value. Amazon did it before Amazon Prime came out. They required an order of $25 before you could get free shipping. You set your minimum order value by calculating average order value, average shipping costs, and gross profit margin.
Come up with a minimum cart value. From that, subtract the average order value. Take that number and multiply it by your gross profit margin. Then subtract your cost of shipping from that. Repeat this calculation until you find a minimum order value that works.
â€˘ Offer free shipping during the holidays or as a limited-time special promotion.
â€˘ Give free shipping only on your high-margin products.
â€˘ Make shipping free for customers who subscribe to your e-mail list.Â This works great because you make lots of long-term profits off people who sign up to your e-mail list. Think of this list as the equivalent of striking gold.
â€˘ Make other customers pay for the free shipping. Â You do this by offering free shipping to everyone. But, you also offer an option for “rush shipping.” For an additional fee, customers can get their product a day or two faster. You simply pack and ship their orders with priority.
Win-Wins Makes You Profitable
If you can offer your customers free shipping, do it. This guide gives you ways to make the math work. And your company will be so much more Â profitable with happier customers after offering free shipping.
How would you like to spend thousands of hours and six figures or more on marketing your business…only to find out no one really wants it?
That’s what entrepreneurs USED to have to do!
Now, with the web, you can validate your business idea on the cheap so you know if it’ll work before you even launch your business.
Check out how the internet makes this possible:
1. Go to Amazon Best Sellers
If you have a product, life’s easy. Just follow this link. If you see several companies selling what you want to sell, you know there’s a market for your idea. And you also know there’s enough demand to support more than one business.
You can also check out eBay to gauge demand.
2. Google Trends
This shows the number of searches over time for the key term you enter. Check out this graph for “essential oils” below:
Google gauges interest on a scale of 1-100. At point “A”, farthest to the right, essential oils scores a perfect 100. Wow, they are in high demand right now!
3. Approach People with Obvious PainÂ
Who are your customers? What’s their demographic? Do you think they hang out on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, or somewhere else? Whichever social network you think they’re on, spend time there.
Find the questions, objections, and complaints they have about a product you want to sell. Then, contact them and ask them how you could improve it. If they’re willing to share, ask them to sign up to your e-mail newsletter list.
4. Use Craigslist
Yes, the humble classified ad has great marketing value these days. All you do is run an ad on Craigslist, like Noah Kagan did. If you don’t want to read his whole post, here’s how things went down:
1. His friend bought an expensive camera that retails for $600 – $1100
2. Noah suggested he try renting the camera out on Craigslist in the “Photography” section because that’s one place people might look for something like that
3. Someone rented the camera out that afternoon for $75
4. It was clear the idea had at least some demand
5. The next step would be to make the camera available for 30 days and analyze and interpret the results
6. You could do the same process without even having the product, and then simply judge your demand by the number of inquiries you get
6. E-mail Friends and Family Who Share Your PainÂ
Tell them you’re thinking of creating a product or service that solves their problem. Ask them to try out for free and give you their thoughts. If they insist on paying, which some will, tell them to name their own price.
Then, ask them how much they’re willing to pay for that product or service if it goes on the market. You want their honest feedback, not them telling you what you want to hear.
So those are some simple ways you can validate your business idea without throwing your entire life at it for several years.
The internet’s great when you know how to harness its power, isn’t it?
Business truly is “fail your way forward,” isn’t it?
Some of that’s good, but a lot of it’s unnecessary. And we want to save you some time and money.
So read these tips and avoid these all-too-common e-commerce mistakes:
1. Thinking “If You Build It, They Will Come”Â
They might come, but they won’t just because you make it available. Who knows, there might already be 100 stores that sell the exact same thing you do!
They will come. But you have to do some research first and get a good grip on your unique market position. An easy way to do that is to look at your competitor’s social profiles and see what people complain about.
Build your website as a solution to those complaints. Now you’ve built something your market wants, so they will come.
2. Not Using Social Proof Right
Your site should have social sharing icons on every page from the start. But, make sure they don’t show numbers unless you’re proud of them.
If visitors see zeros on every page, they’ll think your website’s a ghost town (even if that’s not true). Then they leave.
The same goes for reviews. Wait until your website has several thousand visitors per month to set those up. When you release them, ask for reviews left and right so you get a bunch immediately.
3. Your About Page is Stale and Corporate
If this page uses “we” a lot and tells a generic history that fits any company, it’s not doing you any good. With “about” pages, you want to tell your story in explicit detail.
A great way to make it interesting is to discuss what problem made you decide to start your business. For example, “I was so angry when I learned most companies don’t use green cleaning products.”
Or, maybe Â you solved your own problem: “I kept tipping my chair back and nearly falling over. So I invented this 5th leg to stop that from happening.”
4. Using a Scattered Marketing Strategy
“Ooohh! That shiny new approach got that company loads of traffic. I’ve got to try that for my business too!” Before you know it, you have 8 different marketing tactics going.
That’s too many to focus on in the early days of your business. You need Â a team to help you out with that. Instead, start with 2-3 channels, and get a steady stream of interested prospects from them.
When you get more revenues, then you can add more channels.
Do any of those seem familiar? Which? Let us know in the comments below: