How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data-Driven Formula

A few years back when I first started NeilPatel.com, I spent $66,372.09 on paid advertising through LinkedIn, Google AdWords, Retargeter, Perfect Audience, and StumbleUpon ads.

You might say that’s a lot of money.

It was. But I learned some valuable lessons.

I learned which platforms and networks work best for targeting which audiences with which ads.

Some of my takeaways?

LinkedIn, for example, provided an excellent return on B2B ads, while Google still reigned supreme for B2C. StumbleUpon’s conversion rate for paid products was woefully low.

The top three paid ad spots on Google’s SERPs, for example, get 41% of the clicks. Even the best SEO techniques will only expose you to 59% of the viewing audience, and Google’s knowledge graph and infoboxes are quickly cutting into that as well.

Marketing professionals across the board agree that pay-per-click advertising works. The hard part is getting set up with a solid PPC plan to serve as your foundation.

We need to know how much to spend, when to spend it, where to spend it, and how to spend it correctly.

Those are tough calls to make, especially if you’re a paid advertising newbie. The paid platforms can be complicated and confusing. What do you do with all these options, data, and metrics?

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To answer these questions and be successful, instead of playing a guessing game, we need information and cold hard data. 

How PPC works

First, a quick lesson in PPC, which you probably already know. I’m including it for the newbs (and a refresher for the pros-it never hurts!).

Google and other search engines allow you to purchase ad views on their platforms on a pay-per-click pricing model. The actual price is determined by the number of searches and ads running for a particular keyword or phrase.

A popular search term, such as “insurance,” can cost $59 per click to advertise, meaning you’ll have to pay Google $59 for every lead it gets to your website by displaying your ad at the top of the search results for the terms you bid on.

This isn’t your typical example, however, as “insurance” is actually the most expensive PPC keyword by a large margin.

These costs can be mitigated (and conversions improved) by targeting specific demographics, affinity groups, geographic locations, and mobile devices, which are generating more and more search traffic.

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Of course, search engines aren’t the only platforms for paid ads. Social networks and video ads are rising in popularity, as explained in this Search Engine Land article by Pauline Jakober.

Video ads in search results aren’t a reality yet, but with Alphabet owning both Google, the world’s largest search engine, and YouTube, the world’s largest video platform, it’s only a matter of time.

Determining CAC and LTV

CPC isn’t the same as your customer acquisition cost (CAC). What ultimately determines your CAC is your website’s conversion rate.

If each web visitor costs $59 to obtain and you’re only converting 50% of your visitors, the customer acquisition cost for your PPC campaign is actually double your CPC, or $118 in the example of insurance.

This doesn’t take into account the rest of the marketing budget either, which also includes radio, print, television, social media, billboard, event marketing, and other customer outreach initiatives.

The CAC is calculated by dividing all marketing expenses by the number of customers acquired in the same period. For example, if a company spent $10,000 on marketing in a year and acquired 10,000 customers as a result, its CAC is $1.00.

Balancing the CAC with the customer’s lifetime value (LTV) is how you create a successful business model.

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So long as the LTV is larger than the CAC, your marketing efforts are working, and you have a sustainable business model.

When the CAC rises above the LTV, you’re in trouble.

Because understanding this concept is critical, here’s a graphic to help make the lesson sink in:

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To calculate the LTV of a customer, you need to know how much each customer spends in an average purchase, how many purchases the average customer makes in a certain time period (day/week/month/year), and how long the average customer sticks around.

Profit margins, discounts, customer retention rate, and gross margins are all factored in to the final formula, which you can find here.

In the case of an insurance company, if an average policy costs $1,000 ($100 is profit), and the average customer is retained for 3 years, you’re making $300 for every $118 spent on your PPC campaign, which is close to the actual average.

Businesses make an average of $3 for every $1.60 they spend on AdWords.

I’m sure you want to double your money. We all do. But if everyone is advertising for the keyword “insurance,” they’re missing quite a bit of traffic. You need to check associated keywords.

Extending keyword searches

There are millions of searches for insurance every month, but you have no idea whether those people are looking for medical, life, business, home, phone, or auto insurance.

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It’s still worthwhile to advertise on a single keyword, but with such a high CPC, you shouldn’t pour all your budget into that one highly competitive keyword.

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“Car Insurance,” “insurance quotes,” “auto insurance,” “compare car insurance,” and “car insurance quotes” all have different prices for different search volumes. Spreading your budget across all these keyword phrases increases the chances that your ad is seen by people searching the web in different ways.

At this point, your overall CPC will be determined by the cost and frequency of each individual search term. You can afford to buy some traffic for “insurance” and “auto insurance” so long as it’s balanced out with “compare car insurance,” “insurance quotes,” and “car insurance quotes.”

You now have a potential pool of customers that’s three times the size of your original pool, which maximizes the reach of your ads.

Continue this research into five- and seven-word long-tail searches for the best results. For example, phrases such as “Best car insurance company in Arizona” or “Cheapest car insurance for 2005 Ford Mustang” are great ways to target specific regions or car owners.

The longer a search term, the more specific information a customer is typically looking for. While searches may be lower, bids will also be lower, allowing you to obtain some customers for $5 and others for $50 while still maintaining a low CAC.

Portioning budgets for each keyword is critical as this is one of two places where smart marketers maximize their ROI. The other is targeting specific customers using Remarketing lists for search ads.

Targeting the right customers

A few years ago, Google moved beyond focusing on just keyword searches to looking at contextual information about customers.

The most valuable result from this change was RLSA-remarketing lists for search ads.

RLSA lets you target customers who have visited your website previously.

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Bounce rates are high on websites, but just because a customer leaves doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Shoppers may visit a site 9 times before purchasing, so the more they visit, the further down the conversion funnel they may be.

Take a look at this sales funnel:

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For every 5,000 visitors, only 100 inquiries are received, so why waste ad money on those 100 when you should be focusing on converting the other 4,900?

Using RLSA, you can optimize bids to increase your ROI. Tirendo Tires, for example, increased sales by 22% and conversions by 163% simply by raising their bids on previous homepage visitors.

World Travel Holdings increased ROI by 30% by using RLSA to target previous site visitors for broad search terms (like “insurance” in the example above).

By adding the remarketing tag to your website, you allow Google to further segment your visitors and hyperfocus your PPC ad campaigns.

Of course, the downside to these PPC ad platforms is you can’t determine who is already a paying customer. I constantly receive ads for products and services I’ve already purchased, which I know is wasting the advertiser’s money.

You also have to be wary of disgruntled customers and employees who may purposefully click your ads without making a purchase. (Seriously, people do this in order to drive up the cost of your ad spend.)

Segmenting and targeting ads in any way is an essential step toward optimizing them and getting the most bang for your marketing buck.

Conclusion

PPC is still one of the most popular methods of advertising, with over $500 billion spent annually on it.

It can be exciting to envision massive ROI and all the extra sales you’ll be able to make by simply toggling some ads and letting them run.

Before spending any money on a campaign, however, it’s important to understand what keywords and searches have the best conversions for your site. Targeting these searches with ads moves you to the top of the search results, giving you optimal visibility.

Beyond just search terms, it’s also important to target customers at specific points in the sales funnel.

The actual cost of your PPC campaign isn’t as important as the ratio of CAC to LTV. It’s okay to spend a little more if you are marketing a more expensive product or a company with higher retention rates.

So long as your overall marketing budget doesn’t outweigh the lifetime ROI from customers, you’ve built a sustainable business model.

How much are you spending on paid search? Are you getting a solid ROI?

5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

I’ve been watching Facebook closely for a long time.

I’ve tested hundreds of ad iterations.

I’ve worked hard to build organic reach for myself and my clients.

Here’s what I’ve concluded: Facebook is awesome. But it’s also tricky.

Why? Because the algorithm is constantly shifting, forcing marketers to up their game, readjust their techniques, and reorient their strategies.

Here’s the thing. If you have a social presence for your business, Facebook has decided that your organic reach needs to shrink.

Again.

You know, of course, that this isn’t the first time the social giant tweaked its algorithm.

In June, Adam Mosseri, VP, Product Management for News Feed at Facebook, shared a post that detailed how Facebook was updating the news feed.

The core of the update is to prioritize posts that come from friends and family while reducing the onslaught of content from businesses and other publishers. Facebook wants users to see more posts from actual people, not businesses doing marketing.

The gist of the algorithm remains the same.

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But the variability is increasing. Mosseri explained:

It will vary a lot by publisher mostly based on how much of their referral traffic or their reach is based on people who actually share their content directly…

If you’ve got strong engagement from your audience and they’re shouting your name from the rooftops as they share your content, or generate content around your brand, you’ll be far less impacted by the update.

But most of the businesses I work with aren’t enjoying that level of stellar engagement.

This is what it boils down to. If you want to improve your reach and engagement, you’ll need to find ways to leverage user-generated content (UGC) since that’s what friends and family will see first.

What I want to communicate is pretty simple: User-generated content is one of the most effective forms of content marketing available today.

User-generated content is the future of content marketing.

UGC will act as dynamite to your social media presence, accelerate your onsite content efforts, increase engagement, boost conversions, and build up a wall of defense against any algorithm the world throws your way.

Let’s talk about where the rubber meets the road-your fans helping your site become a conversion-generating machine.

Why you should put your money into user-generated content

There are a lot of benefits to UGC, and those benefits can be significant. And that’s primarily because you’re not limited to social media when it comes to working with customers to acquire and leverage it-though that’s where a bulk of your gains can come into play.

Consider for a moment that more than half of the adult users on Facebook have around 200 people in their immediate networks, according to Pew Research.

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That social network graph looks something like this:

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If the algorithm wants all those people to see content from their connections first, it’s in your best interest to get your audience producing or creating content about you.

And that’s not just for the sake of a little (or even big) boost in visibility.

Consumers fully admit they find branded information from their peers trustworthy-85% of consumers, to be exact.

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That’s because the vast majority of them find that kind of content to be helpful when they make a decision about whether or not to make a purchase.

Nielsen’s study on this subject showed that 92% of consumers trust content and the opinions of their peers over any other kind of advertising.

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UGC also has influence over that trust, according to data shared by Yotpo:

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UGC is the best way to beat an algorithm that wants to topple and bury your promotions amid pictures of babies, beards, and breakfast platters.

But you’re not limited to Facebook in leveraging it.

With variations in engagement time across different social channels, you can see where there are opportunities to use user-generated content to drive up engagement as well as increase consumer trust.

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Some brands are having a lot of success on other social channels and digital properties with UGC.

Below are a couple of examples of brands that leverage UGC using different channels.

A touch of wanderlust

National Geographic asked users to capture unforgettable people, places, and experiences that have impacted their lives from their travels around the world. The hashtag campaign (#wanderlustcontest) brought in tens of thousands of submissions branded to NatGeo.

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And, of course, among those public submissions were some truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring photos people were all too happy to continue sharing.

Ignite user creativity

Nissan’s luxury car brand, Infiniti, ran a campaign promoting its Q30 model, aiming to leverage the content of its fans to help promote the vehicle. The New Heights contest had users print out a marker card that would display the vehicle in 3D when used with their mobile app.

Fans were encouraged to show off the vehicle in unexpected places by snapping pictures and sharing them with a branded hashtag via different social channels.

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These two great examples of building campaigns and visibility from user-generated content had a couple of things in common:

  1. They both revolved around contests. While this is a good way to encourage action among your followers, it’s not always necessary to give something away in order to source user-generated content.
  2. These two campaigns were actively asking their fans to provide the content.

This aspect-the asking-is the most important part you need to remember.

Why? Because the majority of brands simply don’t ask. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.

It’s just that simple.

So, what’s the simplest and most effective way to get UGC?

Ask your users to provide it.

If you want UGC, ask your followers to provide it

Brands don’t want to be pushy, but with UGC, you’ve got to approach it like you approach a call to action (CTA).

With a CTA, you’re telling your audience explicitly what you want them to do. It’s been proven time and again that without a clear call to action, you lose conversions.

But only about 16% of brands take the same approach with UGC, expressing to fans just what kind of content they want to see. Without that kind of direction, consumers aren’t sure what’s okay to share.

In fact, 50% of consumers want brands to tell them what they should include when creating and sharing content.

You don’t need to give away a luxury or big-ticket item when you make the ask, but you do need to ask.

Don’t sit and wait for your fans to provide you with gold.

Here are some of the best ways you can start sourcing and leveraging user-generated content for your brand and social channels.

1. Curate user-generated content with Yotpo

I’ve long felt that Yotpo is an impressive platform for sourcing reviews, engaging customers, and utilizing customer feedback to promote growth.

Now, it’s even better than ever.

Yotpo has stepped up its game with the recent launch of the Yotpo Curation tool.

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This tool allows you to collect relevant Instagram photos from fans and influencers, displaying them on a single dashboard.

From there, you can tag products and handle rights management (including engagement with the original user to say thanks), inject the photos into your product pages, and even sell from your timeline.

This simplifies the tedium of trying to manually source user-generated images and lets you quickly benefit from the social proof tied to UGC.

In one survey conducted by Yotpo, 77% of consumers admitted they preferred to see consumer photos over professional shots:image03

That’s a clear indication of what you should have on your product pages.

Imagine the impact of having quality reviews alongside images showing off your products being used by actual customers.

It would provide a significant lift in conversions when you consider that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site displaying user reviews. A study conducted by Reevoo showed that reviews alone, without any other UGC, lift sales by 18%.

The Yotpo tool turns your customers into brand ambassadors right on your product pages, plus you can create your own shoppable Instagram galleries or post that UGC to other social channels.

2. Build a community

When I talk about building a community, I’m referring to a gathering of people. Literal people in online gatherings.

You may view your social channels as individual and separate communities, but they’re really not. At least not without some kind of organization.

There are a lot of ways to build communities, e.g., Facebook groups, subreddits on Reddit.com, or communities built into your website.

A community you create and manage can give your fans a sense of belonging and make them feel connected to your brand. They’ll share a mix of personal content as well as content related to the brand as they engage with one another.

Through this engagement, you’ll see things like images, videos, and testimonials crop up that are ripe for the picking.

That user-generated content feeds back into the community, encouraging others to generate more of it, and it helps anchor prospective customers who were on the fence about making a purchase.

Giant Vapes is one of the largest online retailers of e-liquid for electronic cigarettes. It also operates a Facebook community, roughly 25,000 members strong. Members regularly share the products they’ve purchased, industry news, their opinions about interactions with the company, praise over shipping and deals, and more.

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3. Give them customization and unique experiences

Customization provides your fans and customers with a sense of real ownership. They’ll naturally want to share with their friends and family what they’ve created, and you can play on that desire by asking them to do so.

Whether it’s a customized piece of clothing, a bag, or a vehicle, customization often leads to some great user-generated content.

And sometimes you don’t even have to ask.

Scores of people got excited about the announcement of Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker. Players create their own Mario levels to play on their own or share with the community. Fans, new and old, went crazy when it launched, and YouTube was flooded with the creations of streamers, generating a lot of visibility for the brand and the game.

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This video has almost 12 million views to date.

In the same vein of creating unique experiences, Hello Games is seeing images and videos of their game No Man’s Sky showing up all over the web, including a subreddit devoted to the game (a user-created community).

No Man’s Sky features a universe boasting over 10 quintillion procedurally (randomly) generated planets, each with creatures and alien plant life different from the last. That guarantees unique content, and fans have been quick to share images and videos of their discoveries since its recent launch.

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When you give your audience something they’ve never experienced before and the chance to create something unique they feel they own, they’re more likely to share that experience far and wide. That builds a lot of trust and provides a lift in conversions.

4. The UGC contest

I touched on contests above with a couple of examples, but in recommending this approach, I wanted to add one more because of the success of the campaign.

Back in 2014, Starbucks invited fans to decorate their white cups with customized art. Fans were asked to submit the images through Twitter with the #whitecupcontest hashtag for a chance to win. There were thousands of entries, and, of course, a constant stream of buzz that drove customers to their local stores.

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I’m mentioning this contest specifically because it pulls in elements from my last point: let users customize and do something unique.

You don’t have to have a multi-million dollar budget to add customization to your product line.

Sometimes, you just need to give your customers a blank canvas and set their creativity free.

5. Use videos on product pages

Yotpo can strap a rocket onto your conversions with user-generated images, but don’t let the rocket run out of fuel.

If you can get your fans and customers generating videos of your products in use, those should be added to your product pages as well.

Explainer videos are great, but there’s nothing that sells a product faster than a video showing real, happy customers, who are 100% satisfied with their purchase.

Here are some quick stats that show how effective product videos really are:

  • 90% of users admit that seeing a video about a product helps them make a purchase decision
  • 36% of customers trust video ads; imagine the trust you gain from earned media
  • 64% of visitors are more likely to buy a product after watching a video online
  • Product videos can increase conversions by as much as 20%

Conclusion

Aside from those five tips, it goes without saying that you should absolutely be using product reviews on your website and social channels such as Facebook.

Leverage that social proof, and find creative ways to team up with your customers.

A large portion of your audience are happy to create and share content for you-they just need to know what you’re looking for.

Tell them how to help, inspire them to get creative, and watch your conversions climb steadily as your collection of UGC grows.

Are you using user-generated content right now to build trust with your audience and increase your brand’s visibility? What techniques are you using, and what’s the most successful?

9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Let me be upfront with you.

I’m not a web designer.

I work with some amazing web designers. I know a few things about web design. But when it comes right down to it, I’m not a designer.

What am I? I’m a marketer.

Why am I talking about designing a web page, specifically a pricing page?

Here’s why. Web design and marketing overlap. A lot.

When you get into a discussion about web design, you can’t help but talk about psychology. And when the page being designed is a pricing page, psychology plays a huge role.

What kind of psychology? Customer psychology.

Customer psychology is the study of the way people think, act, decide, and make purchases.

It has everything to do with motivation, mind tricks, color, placement, filtering, eye tracking studies, and, yes, web design.

That’s why I’m confident in my ability to design a great pricing page.

I constantly A/B-test my pages to make sure I’m choosing the most optimal design, and most of the design choices you see throughout my web properties is based on simple psychological principles.

Psychology is common in marketing and design, regardless of the industry. Look at a casino, for example.

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Every inch of that building, from the carpet and floor designs to the signs and turns was designed to psychologically keep people in the building spending money, not focusing on time and outside responsibilities.

Web design is the same way. And when it comes to the pricing page, these psychological principles are extremely important.

Here are a few of the tactics I use when designing pricing pages-one of the most important steps in your conversion funnel. 

1. Devalue money in the viewer’s eyes

Since we’re on the subject of Las Vegas… Another trick casino owners use is the idea of mentally devaluing money.

When you step up to a table, they exchange your money for chips.

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Why? There are several reasons. One is that it makes it easier for dealers to count, but it also detaches people from the value of their money. It’s easier to gamble away two chips than $2,000.

A lot of people are in debt, and, while it’s great that you run a business, you need to get people to stop thinking about their bills.

The average user who looks at your pricing page might have in the back of their mind their consumer credit card debt.

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Maybe you’re not running a casino. How do you get people to stop thinking about their debt problems and instead focus on the value of your product, regardless of the price?

Let me give you an example.

Cornell researchers recently partnered with the Culinary Institute of America to research this concept of devaluing money on restaurant menus. Two different study groups were given two different menus, one with a dollar sign next to the pricing and one without.

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The group given the menus without the dollar sign spent more money. Why? Because they weren’t put off by the high $ price.

One example I’ve shown elsewhere is this pricing page. Notice the small dollar signs?

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That’s not a mistake.

The same thing is happening here:

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The dollar sign serves as a trigger to remind people of the value of money. What they should be thinking about is the value of your product.

A simple removal or minimization of the dollar sign will make your pricing page more compelling, more powerful, and more psychologically potent.

2. Color-coordinate everything

Research from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health indicates colors are perceived in different ways by different people based on experiences, genetics, context, and other factors.

Still, there are brands of every kind that use specific colors within their logos.

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If you’re at the beginning stage of building your company, choose a color scheme that matches the emotion you’re trying to evoke.

There was a time when Geocities ruled the web and websites commonly looked as though they were drawn by crayons. Thankfully, we’ve progressed, so basic black text on a white background is considered standard for text (with a few exceptions).

Headers and buttons, however, can vary greatly. Amazon uses a yellow color for the “Add to Cart” button on its pricing pages.

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Walmart uses a red-orange.

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Best Buy utilizes bright blue and yellow for different options.

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Whatever you choose, make sure it speaks to your brand and is consistent all the way through to avoid confusing customers at a crucial step.

3. Size matters

Size does matter when designing a pricing page.

Here’s the simple truth. You want people to see the important parts first because that’s what needs to stick with them the longest.

Let me go back to this pricing page to show what I mean:

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What’s the first thing you look at when you see this page?

Probably the center column, focusing on the “Growth” package at $400 a month.

Why? Because it pops with a vivid blue against a very light gray backdrop.

Plus, it’s bigger than the others. Size is important. It’s also centrally located.

All of these are key differentiating features that psychologically emphasize the importance and superiority of that plan.

Where exactly does size matter?

  • Headlines
  • Call-to-action buttons
  • Price boxes (as pictured above)

As explained in Psychology in Action, larger fonts make messages enter our brains faster as we don’t have to struggle to see them.

This split-second difference of time and attention puts the page into a logical and cohesive, Feng Shui-like, order for browsers.

4. Limited time offers

If someone thinks their time to act is limited, they’re more likely to take action quickly rather than delay it.

Several studies have looked at how limited time offers affect our brains. Sites such as eBay and Groupon have practically built empires on the concept.

Essentially, it boils down to supply and demand.

When you create scarcity, the perceived value of an item goes up. It’s called a theory of psychological reactance, which explains why we hate to miss out on a golden opportunity when presented with it.

You’ve probably heard of fear of missing out, or FOMO, right? Same idea, different angle.

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Amazon uses this technique to great effect with constant inventory reminders on every item: “Only 10 left in stock – order soon.”

It’s a great call to action.

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Even though we know one of the world’s largest fulfillment centers will definitely replenish its supplies of literally everything, will it happen soon enough? Can we wait and will it be more expensive next time?

Dr. Eldar Shafir, from Princeton, and Dr. Sendhil Mullainathan, from Harvard, explored how people’s minds work when they feel they’re lacking something. The perception of scarcity leads them to make mistakes or bad financial decisions, spending more money than they should.

Psychology Today’s author Shahram Heshmat notes,

Scarcity orients the mind automatically and powerfully toward unfulfilled needs.

It also motivates us to prioritize our choices, e.g., we’re more frugal with toothpaste when the tube is close to empty, and we rush to purchase a product or service to obtain a deal.

5. Discounts and VIP membership

People love feeling like they belong. Costco, Sam’s Club, and AAA are just a few of the memberships you can get these days to feel like you’re part of a country club.

Everyone wants to be a VIP, so offering VIP membership bonuses and discounts encourages customers to keep spending money at your business. Instead of buying just one roll of paper towels, you can subscribe and save.

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Or buy 10 and get one free.

These promotions increase clicks because, as Ian Newby-Clark explains in Psychology Today,

We are social creatures who yearn to be included. We want to be a part of the group and strive for goals set for us.

It’s like a drug: belonging to something bigger than yourself provides a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives.

Marketing Profs has a great article describing how the inclusion of fans into a community motivates them to support a brand both as customers and ambassadors. I suggest you take a look at it as it’s a great read.

As psychologists point out, our social identity is defined by the groups we belong to. This is why Xbox and PlayStation fans, for example, are so prone to debating their platform’s superiority.

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The NFL, along with all other major sports organization in America, uses this psychological principle to its advantage.

Fans show up sporting their team’s colors and mascot costumes because it makes them feel like they belong.

Seattle Seahawks fans surround a Cleveland Browns fan as she mugs for TV cameras Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003 at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Above: Seattle Seahawks fans surround a Cleveland Browns fan Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003, at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

6. Offer tiered pricing

As Talia Wolf points out,

Tiered pricing opens the door to all sorts of psychological techniques.

Hyperbolic discounting occurs when different pricing models provide different benefits, allowing us to personalize our shopping experience. Dropbox employs this technique:

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Choice-supportive pricing, anchoring effect, and the decoy effect can also be employed to your advantage. With tiered pricing, anything is possible.

Amazon has about a dozen varieties of Prime combined with rewards cards, affiliate bounties, and subscription services to give you payment options beyond just “cash or credit.”

Tiered pricing is becoming even more popular these days with the growth of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model.

By subscribing for longer terms, people know they can often save money and thus seek out these types of deals.

Rational choice theory is a framework to model social and economic behavior. It states individual actors choose the option that maximizes their interests and provides the greatest benefit.

A tiered pricing model provides customers with purchasing options that are all, ultimately, with you.

7. Doorbusters work

Retail has long utilized doorbusters to get people in the doors. These savings are responsible for Black Friday leaking further into Thanksgiving every year. Once you have people in the door to buy a low-priced item, you can upsell them better, more expensive products.

Any pricing page should also have a “recommended” and “similar” section. These personalized offers help lead consumers to buy the right item for them, increasing trust in your e-commerce brand along with the ROI.

It should be noted, however, you should avoid the classic bait-and-switch scam that will get you in trouble with the FTC and ruin the reputation of both you and your brand.

It’s also worth mentioning that many analysts think Black Friday is about more than just the doorbusters.

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Professor Jane Thomas at Winthrop University says:

It’s more of a tradition than anything else. People ritualistically line up at brick-and-mortar stores the Friday after Thanksgiving while a growing number wait for Cyber Monday the following week online.

There’s also a psychological difference in the way we perceive prices such as $13.99 vs $14.00. The item priced at $13.99 is more likely to sell because even though it’s only a penny short, it’s $13 and change instead of $14.

Although consumers initially hit a website looking for a cheap deal on SEO services, soon they realize they’re also missing social media, video, CRO, PPC, and many other aspects of marketing.

They want more.

That’s the value of the doorbuster.

The initial doorbuster brings them to you for a killer deal. You get them in and then convert them to buy more stuff.

8. Get smaller yeses first

Much like with the doorbuster sale, you want to lead people by convincing them to agree to smaller things before hitting them with the big ask.

Zendesk does a great job of leading customers through smaller yeses first:

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While the option is there to buy, Zendesk wants you to try the free version first because they’re confident you’ll come back as a paying subscriber once you’ve experienced the platform.

Who doesn’t like free stuff?

By convincing customers to say yes to the smaller ask first, you make saying yes to the bigger ask much easier.

It’s all part of the psychology of negotiation,

explains Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD.

Making the pie bigger for everyone increases the maximally efficient outcome 79% of the time.

You don’t have to necessarily give out anything for free either. As explained above, even month-to-month subscriptions are a smaller ask than a year-long contract, so providing different levels of the same offer will do the trick.

9. Provide choices

As explained above, offering both payment and product choices is a great way to improve revenue on pricing pages.

A customer is buying a TV, do they need a warranty? Cables? A stand or mount? A DVD Player, home stereo system, or Chromecast?

Give people options for bundles, add-ons, and other available sizes, colors, and brands. But don’t give them so many options that they get overloaded.

In 2000, researchers S.S. Inyengar and M.R. Leper conducted a study allowing supermarket shoppers to sample the different flavors of jam available for purchase. The test compared the impact of having 24 jam flavors to choose from versus having only 6.

Only 3% of those who sampled the 24 flavors went on to purchase the jam, compared to 30% who sampled only 6 flavors.

Too many options will inhibit your customers’ ability to make a clear decision.

Conclusion

Psychology is important in web design and marketing. How people perceive a brand is directly impacted by the appearance of every landing page, including the pricing, checkout, and confirmation pages.

By A/B-testing different versions of those pages, while implementing the psychological principles discussed above, you’ll be able to optimize conversions and revenue streams from your online marketing.

What psychological techniques help you design your web properties?

How to Become a Marketer Who’s Obsessed with Metrics

stats

Back when I was an Internet newbie, I had no idea what numbers to focus on.

I would look at Google Analytics. I would see lots of numbers. And I would be confused.

So, what did I do?

I did what most people do. I focused on vanity metrics.

What are vanity metrics?

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Vanity metrics are numbers. That might sound all data-driven and growth-hacky.

But vanity metrics are numbers that don’t lead anywhere. As Eric Ries said,

…they don’t offer clear guidance for what to do.

Examples of vanity metrics:

  • Raw number of pageviews or site visitors
  • Number of downloads
  • Number of subscribers

I’m not knocking these metrics completely.

After all, if you are involved in the world of Internet marketing, metrics are one of the single most important things you can learn, understand, interpret, and act on.

If you’re not tracking your metrics, you’ll never be able to figure out how you can improve your marketing performance and, by extension, your revenue.

But you have to choose which metrics to focus on.

This is why establishing specific KPIs, or key performance indicators, is one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself, your team, and your bottom line.

But which metrics should you be tracking? And more importantly, which metrics should inform your marketing decisions?

This is the question I faced early on in my Internet marketing career.

What metrics do I focus on?

Eventually, I came around to the right perspective on things.

Here’s how it happened.

  • First, I realized that revenue was my single most important metric.
  • Then, I worked backwards to find out what numbers most impacted my revenue.
  • I used those numbers-my KPIs-to track my progress toward revenue.

With so much variability in marketing techniques, it’s easy to get bogged down in minutia and focus on metrics that do not significantly affect your revenue.

To help you on your quest for maximum revenue, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most important KPIs you can track for maximum performance, maximum ROI, and maximum revenue.

Each of these metrics should be tracked on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis so that you can see the complete picture with regards to your marketing efforts.

Tracking them is only the first step.

Acting on these metrics is the real deal. 

1. Traffic

If you want to be able to develop effective content and digital marketing campaigns, you have to track your web traffic so that you can understand what’s working and what’s not.

Unless you are tracking your web traffic, you will never be able to truly gauge the effectiveness of your different marketing methods and increase the amount of traffic your website receives.

For example, by tracking your web traffic, you may find that when you are consistently posting on Facebook and LinkedIn, your traffic soars, but whenever you focus on Instagram and Twitter, your traffic plummets.

Luckily, tracking your web traffic is fairly straightforward.

By using Google Analytics, you can track the number of sessions and page views you get each day as well as the details such as bounce rate, demographics, and source.

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“Traffic” is, of course, a pretty broad term.

Traffic can encompass a lot of the more detailed features of your website audience, all of which are important to pay attention to.

Your website traffic tells a story-a story of how engaged and active your audience is, how frequently they visit you, and how likely they are to purchase from you.

The better you know your traffic, the better you’ll be able to achieve your revenue goals.

2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

This is one of the most important metrics any company, especially startups, should know.

Chase Hughes wrote about this metric on Kissmetrics. He called it “the one metric that can determine your company’s fate.”

I’d say that’s a pretty important metric.

So, what is the customer acquisition cost?

Here is a simple definition:

CAC: The price you pay to convince someone to purchase your product or service.

Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of that definition.

The CAC should include the cost of market research, software, team salaries, paid analytics platforms, and, of course, the price of any paid advertising.

If you want to be able to effectively grow your company through your marketing efforts, you have to know how much it costs to acquire a new customer.

In spite of its complexity, this is actually fairly easy to calculate.

All you need to do is add up the monthly marketing budget and then divide that number by the number of new customers you acquired that month.

For example, let’s say you spent $2,000 a month on marketing and acquired 5 new customers. This brings your total cost of customer acquisition to $400.

You can calculate the number on an annual basis, as in this example:

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With this knowledge, you now know how to effectively budget for marketing, depending on the number of customers you wish to acquire.

Using the above example, if you wanted to acquire 20 new customers in a month, you would need to spend roughly $8,000 in marketing efforts.

While this number may vary month to month based on how effective your marketing campaigns are, averaging the cost of acquisition over three months will give you a good idea of what you need to spend on marketing to attract your desired number of new customers.

To better understand your CAC, it’s helpful to break down the specific channels you’re using to acquire customers.

For example, you may be using several marketing methods: paid search, social media, and email marketing.

Each channel has a different associated cost. Knowing how much you’re spending per channel gives you a more accurate assessment of your CAC.

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Every industry will have a different method of tracking CAC. In some industries with a long sales cycle and more “touches” for customers, the CAC will be higher and more complex.

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While it’s important to know your CAC, it’s just as important to know how to act on it.

If your CAC is too high, for example, you have a problem. The customer’s value must exceed the CAC in order for the business to function.

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Navigating the delicate balance between CAC and LTV is something that marketers need to understand and take action on.

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3. Social media reach

Social media marketing has become one of the most popular methods of marketing your content and your company.

With more than 2 billion people using social media around the world, there has never been-in the history of the human race-a platform that could allow you to have as much reach and influence as social media can today.

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In addition to their massive reach, most social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, provide you with the tools to track your reach within the applications.

If you want to maximize the amount of revenue you generate each week, month, and year, you need to track the effectiveness of your social campaigns and understand the ROI of each platform.

How do you do this on Facebook?

Simple.

  • Go to your company Facebook page.
  • Click on “Insights” at the top of the page.

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Facebook Insights provides you with data to help you fully understand what your audience is doing, how it’s interacting, and how it’s impacting your business.

When you know this data, you can develop a rock-solid social media strategy to maximize your reach and revenue.

4. Landing page conversion rates

If you truly want to maximize your revenue and send your conversion rates through the roof, you have to make sure that each of your landing pages is fully optimized.

You need to know which landing pages are leading to conversions and which ones are underperforming so that you can effectively craft landing pages that will increase your revenue.

You may find that one landing page has a high amount of traffic while another-with a lower rate of traffic-actually has a higher conversion rate.

For this reason, it’s crucial to track at least four major metrics on landing pages specifically:

  • Bounce rate
  • Exit rate
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Conversion rate

Each of these numbers contributes to the overall picture of your conversion rates and keeps you from being locked into a skewed perspective.

One way to help broaden your perspective is to understand what an “average” conversion rate is. It’s hard to nail down an “average” because of the variety of industries, channels, and types of conversion that exist.

When you start, don’t expect to instantly explode with a 5% conversion rate. Most of us are lucky if we can get a 2% conversion rate.

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Again, conversion rates vary a lot based on the channel. Here’s a breakdown of the range of variation of conversion rates by channel:

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By monitoring all the important metrics around your landing page and combining the best working elements, you can create high-converting pages.

5. Email marketing metrics

Despite the growth of social media, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to acquire and keep customers.

Email marketing allows for a more personal and targeted style of marketing, and if you are willing to pay attention to the metrics, it will lead to more sales and revenue than you previously thought possible.

It’s important to track all the metrics related to email marketing. Here are the ones I suggest you track:

  1. Delivery rate
  2. Open rate
  3. Click rate
  4. Conversion rate

What kind of expectations can you have for these metrics? Here’s Ciceron’s research:

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Depending on the complexity of your email marketing, you may wish to analyze your metrics even further:

  • Unique open rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • List growth rate
  • Bounce rate
  • Inactive user rate
  • Forwarding rate
  • Earnings per email
  • Earnings per click
  • Complaint rate

How do you take action on this kind of data?

If you see that you have a low open rate but a high conversion rate, you should probably work to improve your headlines or cut back on the number of emails you send.

Conversely, if you notice a high open rate with your emails but a low click-through or conversion rate, you should probably improve your copywriting within the email to incentivize readers.

Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing methods. Plus, it’s one of the easiest:

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It makes sense to use email marketing and then act on the data you glean from analyzing its performance.

Conclusion

If you can learn to effectively track the important metrics of your business, you’ll be able to see how your marketing efforts are affecting your revenue and have a better understanding of how you can improve and optimize your marketing efforts.

But like with anything in the business world, this is something you have to track proactively. You cannot just set it and forget it-track one or two metrics and then leave it for months at a time.

If you can be consistent with tracking your metrics, focusing on how every decision you make affects the bottom line, you can maximize your revenue and take your business to new heights.

Keep in mind that you are focused on one top metric: revenue.

When you lose sight of revenue, you’ll easily get distracted by meaningless metrics that don’t show you where you’re actually going. Worse, those metrics may fool you into thinking you’re making progress when you aren’t.

To be truly effective, your marketing metrics should show you a path forward-how to earn more revenue.

Metrics really are the magic key that can unlock marketing success. But they are a double-edged sword.

Read them wrong-and your marketing is doomed.

Read them right, act on them-and your marketing will push your business forward.

What are the most important KPIs you currently track?

Have an App? The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing It Free

Apps are huge.

But you already knew that. But did you know just how big apps are?

Did you know that as of June 2015, more than 100 billion mobile apps had been downloaded from the Apple App Store alone?

Google Play? 65 billion.

These are pretty insane numbers. And get this: the world’s app obsession shows no signs of slowing down.

These numbers go up. And up. And up. And up.

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The world uses mobile devices.

And mobile devices use mobile apps.

Which makes mobile apps big business.

The estimated worldwide app revenue is predicted to hit $77 billion by 2017-more than double the $35 billion it reached in 2014.

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What does this mean for you?

If you’ve created your own app, you’ll want to claim your piece of the pie and cash in on it. (And if you haven’t created an app, you may want to give it some thought.)

Apps don’t sell themselves. In fact, app marketing is one of the hottest and most contested marketing battlegrounds of the marketing era.

With millions of apps, how do you stand above the crowd? How do you distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace in which your innovative idea has already been iterated a thousand times? How do you get your app to the front of the crowd, to the top of the search results?

And harder still, what’s the best way to go about promoting it if you’re on a tight budget?

Most app creators I know are startups-a few smart people with a killer idea but not much cash to show for it yet.

Is it possible to market your app free?

Thankfully, yes-it is.

Notice, however,

  • I didn’t say “easy;”
  • I didn’t say “quick.”

But free? Yep, I’ve got you covered.

Here’s a step-by-step formula I’ve found to be incredibly effective and that can get your app the exposure it needs to get major downloads.

If you’ve created an app, good for you. But that’s only the start. Once the app has been fully developed, you have a new full time job. Your job now is to market your app.

What’s my focus here? I want you to earn more money with your app.

Heck, I want you to create the next Instagram or Pokémon GO!

It’s all about the marketing.

Let’s dive in.

Start with app store optimization

App store optimization (ASO) may be somewhat of an overrated buzzword these days, but it’s an essential first step for promoting your app.

Because 63 percent of apps are found through app store searches, you’ll want to make sure that you’re adhering to some basic ASO principles.

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The story becomes even more intriguing when you look at these 2014 stats from MobileDevHQ. They asked survey respondents where they found the last app they downloaded.

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Boom. App store wins.

Obviously, when it comes to viral apps such as Pokémon GO, people usually hear about them online or through social networks. I don’t expect very many people to be searching for “virtual monster game” in the app store.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of app downloads happen because people are finding them through app store searches.

How do you “do” app store optimization?

Fortunately, the process is pretty straightforward and similar to standard SEO.

Some elements include:

  • choosing the right keywords
  • using a keyword in the title of the app (“apps with keywords in the title ranked on average 10.3 percent higher than those without a keyword in the title”)
  • creating an awesome description that’s catchy and fully encapsulates what your app is about
  • including a series of detailed screenshots so that potential users fully understand the features.

Optimizely advises you to address these five points:

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If you need a little direction, I recommend checking out this guide on ASO from Moz.

App store optimization is the process you should follow for both Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

There are, however, some significant differences between the two:

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Whatever you do, start with app store optimization.

It’s free. And it’s effective.

Get reviews

Social proof is the lifeblood of online marketing.

You can use it to enhance the perceived value of your app and to encourage more people to download it.

I know that I personally like to look at the overall rating as well as three or four user reviews before I download a new app.

If I see that it has an overwhelming number of positive reviews, it probably means that it’s worth my time, and I feel much more comfortable clicking “Install.”

If your app has little to no feedback, I suggest you ask for app reviews.

Ratings and reviews are huge factors in the success of your app. Just take a look:

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If your app has a one-star rating, only around 10% of consumers would consider downloading it. If, by contrast, your app has a five-star rating, 100% of consumers would consider downloading it.

The brutal fact of app marketing is this: If you have low rankings, you won’t get ranked, and you wont’ get downloads.

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Be sure to provide notifications to app users, encouraging them to review the app as they use it.

There are numerous websites where you can obtain legitimate reviews, many of which are free. Check out this list for an overview.

Create an app landing page

Once you’ve got the nuts and bolts taken care of, I suggest building a landing page specifically for your app to add to your site.

This might include a few screen shots, some positive reviews, or even a brief video tutorial of how it works. It doesn’t need to be anything over the top. Quite frankly, it’s best to keep it simple.

Below are some examples of app landing pages.

This landing page showcases the functionality of the app while conveying the mood and sense of the app through colors and images:

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Vonage’s app download page allows you to “learn more” but also gives you an easy way to download the app for your specific country.

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Foursquare’s app provides that simple interface with the same SMS download option that Vonage provides.

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Some of the best mobile apps usually display a picture of a phone with a screenshot of the app in use. This kind of imagery sends a message. It says “this is an app” and “this is what the app looks like.”

If you create a landing page for your app, I suggest you follow that example-a phone with a screenshot of the app in use.

Here’s the landing page for Everest:

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I like the simplicity and functionality of this weather app:

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If you’re already generating a considerable amount of traffic, you can turn casual visitors into app users without going to a whole lot of trouble.

Place download links on your website

You can capitalize on your site’s traffic by simply creating download links to your app and placing them on your site.

A logical location would be right next to your social media links. Above the fold is ideal.

With hardly any effort, you can bring some considerable attention to your app by leveraging the existing traffic you’re generating.

Make sure you use the standard download images. Most users have been conditioned to recognize these icons. When they glance at your website, they’ll instantly notice these buttons and click and convert.

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Reach out to tech publications

In my opinion, positive press is one of the best ways to jumpstart a company or, in this case, an app.

Imagine if your app could get a positive mention on a place such as Mashable!

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If you want to take your app from relative obscurity to a global audience, tech publications are just the ticket.

But to be totally honest, this is by no means a cakewalk, especially if you are targeting big name publications. But it’s definitely feasible with a little persistence.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Research tech publications and any other media outlets relevant to your niche. This post has some examples.
  2. Develop a pitch for an article that will feature your app while providing value for a publication’s target audience.
  3. Contact editors.

I will say that most editors are incredibly busy, so it may take some time to get a response (a week or more isn’t uncommon).

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get an instant response. Just keep at it until you break through.

Keep sending emails, and keep following up.

If you can get your app featured on a site such as TechCrunch or Mashable, the effort you put in can pay handsome dividends.

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For starters, I suggest you use this list from Spacechimp as a source of places to get reviews and mentions.

This method is totally free. But it does take some serious time.

Reach out to influencers

While guest blogging may not have quite the same impact as a write-up in a tech publication, this route tends to be easier and can still get significant results.

The key here is to perform some research and find a handful of blogs that are related to the niche your app is in and that have an audience that would be interested in it.

For instance, a productivity app might reach out to Lifehacker to see whether they can get featured in the annual Lifehacker Pack.

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You’ll want to follow the same basic formula that you would for reaching out to a tech publication and develop a quality pitch that a blogger can’t say no to.

Just make sure you fully familiarize yourself with their style and tone first.

Promote on social media

If you’ve already got a sizable audience that’s dialed in, you should be able to gain some decent exposure.

In this case, simply promote your app directly, or post links to articles featuring your app.

If your audience isn’t large enough to help you promote the app, I recommend contacting relevant influencers to see if they’d be willing to share your app with their followers.

Sometimes, this is all it takes to crank up your exposure exponentially.

However, I’ve found that this is usually a numbers game, so you’ll want to reach out to at least five influencers.

Conclusion

With “smartphone users spending 89 percent of their mobile media time using mobile apps,” there’s plenty of opportunity.

Even if you’re on an extremely limited marketing budget, you can still promote your app and bring it to the mainstream.

By following these steps, you can successfully reach your demographic and maximize your number of downloads.

Can you think of any other effective ways to promote an app on a shoestring budget?

What Happens to SEO When You Stop Blogging?

blogging

I’ve been blogging for longer than ten years.

Ten years! And I haven’t quit.

That’s a long time.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here. I simply want to make a point.

Why haven’t I stopped blogging? After all, I get tons of traffic from old blog posts that I wrote two, four, and even eight years ago.

Why do I keep at it? Writing is punishing work. It’s tough, and it takes a long time. Don’t I have better stuff to do like binge-watching Netflix or just relaxing?

Why am I so devoted to blogging?

I’ll let you in on a secret. I actually love what I do. That’s one reason. I blog because I like to do it.

But there’s another reason. It’s a business reason. And it’s built on data.

If you know anything about SEO, you know that Google values fresh content. Fresh content is a significant factor in positively influencing ratings. The logic here is that the more frequently you update your site, the more frequently Googlebot (Google’s crawling bot) visits your site.

In turn, this gives you the opportunity to achieve better rankings.

Although you can update your site in several different ways (not to mention all the different types of content you can create), writing new blog posts tends to be the simplest way to generate fresh content.

So let’s go back to my question: why do I keep blogging? Why are you blogging? Should you quit? Should I quit? Are there better ways to do marketing, gain traffic, and grow conversions?

Is blogging truly all it’s cracked up to be? More specifically, just how big of an impact does it have on SEO?

In this article, I’m going to do away with niceties, guesses, and “best practice” advice. Instead, I’m going to dish up the data so you can get the cold, hard facts on what happens if you decide to stop blogging. 

Some key stats

First, here are just a few statistics from Kapost to put blogging in perspective:

  • Brands that create 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month.
  • Blogs give websites 434 percent more indexed pages and 97 percent more indexed links.
  • Blogs on company sites result in 55 percent more visitors.
  • B2B companies that blog generate 67 percent more leads per month than those that do not blog.

These are some legit numbers. They show just how monumental of an impact blogging can have.

But what would happen if you stopped blogging?

You pull the plug. You quit. You’re done. No more publishing.

What would happen?

Would it have any catastrophic consequences, or would it merely be a mild impediment?

Let’s take a look at a study that put this to the test.

251 days of no blogging

WordPress developer/social media manager/SEO expert Robert Ryan conducted a simple yet enlightening experiment.

In 2015, he refrained from posting any new content on his blog for 251 days. That’s eight months and seven days.

Here are some of his key findings:

  • Overall traffic to the site saw a major decline as it fell by 32 percent.
  • Organic traffic dropped by a massive 42 percent.
  • Traffic to the contact page was down by 15 percent.
  • Overall site conversions fell by 28 percent.

What can we take away from these stats?

Blogging affects overall traffic

When Ryan quit blogging, his traffic rapidly fell by 32%.

The image quality is low, but here’s the chart that he posted:

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The fact that Ryan’s overall traffic dropped by nearly a third during this time is tangible evidence that there’s a correlation between your blog output and your overall traffic volume.

Quite frankly, I find it a bit alarming to see such a dramatic drop just because of not blogging.

Of course, we should keep in mind that his experiment lasted for over eight months.

If you stopped blogging for only a month or two, the consequences probably wouldn’t be this extreme.

However, it still wouldn’t do you any favors.

This brings up a good point. What if your business runs into trouble, you get sick, or something else happens that prevents you from blogging for a time?

I suggest having a backlog of articles to publish at all times. I like to have several posts scheduled ahead of time. If something unexpected comes up, at least I know my posts will go live according to the schedule.

Organic traffic can take a massive hit

A 42 percent drop in organic traffic is colossal.

For some businesses, that kind of drop could make the difference between making money and losing money.

An organic traffic loss of that magnitude is similar to receiving an algorithmic penalty.

Most websites earn most of their traffic organically.

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If you’re in the “business services” industry, you earn a disproportionate amount of organic traffic.

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Where does all this organic traffic come from?

It comes from content. More specifically, it comes from blogging.

Organic traffic is nothing to wink at. This is the lifeline of your business. This is your audience.

It’s hard to dispute that Google does indeed show preference to sites with consistently fresh content.

As Moz explains,

“Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.”

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It’s all theoretical, of course. No one knows exactly how Google’s algorithm works.

But we can’t dispute the fact that quitting a blog leads to an organic traffic nosedive.

By having a dynamic site (publishing content) as opposed to a static one (not publishing new content), you provide Google with new content to crawl and index. In turn, this keeps you on Google’s radar in a positive way.

You also have to consider the fact that each new blog post presents an opportunity to generate more backlinks and rank for additional keywords.

I imagine that you want to see an uptick in traffic like this:

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The fact is, you can’t get traffic like that unless you blog like you mean it.

When you stop blogging for an extended period of time, your stream of organic traffic can dry up, which can obviously have some undesirable consequences.

More blogging equals more leads

The stat from Kapost, stating that brands with 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month, and Ryan’s stat-stating that traffic to his contact page fell by 15 percent-show us just how intertwined blogging and lead generation really are.

This makes sense when you think about it.

No blogging means much less organic and overall traffic. In turn, fewer visitors are landing on your website, which means fewer leads.

Blogging, quite obviously, leads to more leads.

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Notice this data from MarketingCharts.com. Their data shows that a higher blogging frequency is positively correlated with higher customer acquisition rates.

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Quitting blogging is a conversion killer

The final and perhaps most alarming of Ryan’s findings was the drop in overall site conversions (28 percent).

I can connect the dots to see how this could happen.

Few people blog just for the heck of it. We blog because it makes a significant difference.

We blog because it builds conversions.

But how does this work? How is blogging so inextricably linked to conversions?

From my experience, I’ve found blogging to be an incredibly effective way to build rapport with my audience and get them comfortable with the idea of buying.

For example, before a prospect would want to go ahead and purchase Crazy Egg, there’s a good chance that they would first want to explore “The Daily Egg,” which is the accompanying blog.

I don’t sell anything on that blog. I just provide value, value, value.

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In fact, two stats from Aabaco found that “60 percent of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site.”

It’s about fostering positive feelings, as vague as that sounds.

Furthermore, “78 percent of consumers believe that companies behind content are interested in building good relationships.”

Good relationships are built one blog post at a time.

Basically, blogging builds trust.

If you blog the right way, you can demonstrate transparency.

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Transparency, in turn, creates trust.

There’s no secret here. If you want to truly influence purchases (conversions), you should be blogging.

Customers look to content to grow and sustain positivity and goodwill towards the brand.

This positivity and goodwill influences conversions. You’ll earn more conversions because you are blogging. It’s that simple.

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I would also make the point that stopping blogging out of the blue can make you look a little flaky in the eyes of customers. Some may even wonder if you’re still in business.

No one wants to do business with a place that seems quiet and untended. You might still be in business, but if your blog isn’t buzzing with new content and activity, users might get the idea that you’re not around to serve them.

This will kill your conversions.

For these reasons, you can see how a lack of blogging can slowly trickle down to hurt conversions and eventually result in a considerable decline in customers.

Jeff Bullas provides an excellent explanation of how blogging builds credibility in this infographic:

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These aren’t just random stats. These are concrete data-driven signals that your blog builds your credibility.

And your credibility as a business influences whether or not people will buy from you.

The takeaway

While I can’t say for sure that you would experience the same level of backlash that Ryan did, it’s fair to say that quitting blogging for an extended period of time isn’t going to help you.

Even going a single month without an update could throw a wrench in your SEO.

For this reason, I can’t stress enough just how important it is to be consistent with publishing blogs.

Everyone has their own opinion on what the bare minimum is, but most bloggers would agree that you should strive for at least one per week.

But to determine the ideal frequency, I would suggest checking out this post I wrote about determining how often you need to blog.

A blog such as the Huffington Post (yes, it’s a blog) publishes an article a minute. They can do that because they have a ton of semi-free and syndicated content being pushed out.

If you’re Forbes, you might publish more than 1,000 articles a month.

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Obviously, you won’t be able to keep pace with Forbes or Huffpo, especially if you’re blogging for your personal brand.

Instead, you should focus on consistency. As this article shows, when you quit blogging, your traffic and conversions tank.

If you stay consistent, you’ll win.

Conclusion

Blogging accomplishes much more than simply demonstrating your expertise and building trust.

It plays a major role in SEO, and the frequency of your blogging can determine how much traffic you bring in, how many leads you generate, and ultimately how many conversions you make.

If you want to win at the game of online marketing, you’ve got to be publishing content.

And you can’t stop.

Internet marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. As a ten-year veteran of this sprint, I can attest to the fact that it gets ugly and tiring, and there are times when you want to quit.

But I can also attest to the fact that your hard work pays off.

Sure, at times you might feel like you’re banging your head against a wall, but all that work is doing something. It’s growing your audience. It’s building trust. It’s pushing up conversions bit by bit, day by day, month by month.

Don’t quit.

Have you ever tried a similar experiment, and if so, what were the results?

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