Google is leaving you clues about how to become a better marketer — and you might not even be seeing them.
The job of every marketer today, whether they work in PPC, SEO, CRO, or content, is to solve people’s problems. Google is taking note of companies that are doing it well, and companies that are leaving people disappointed.
Search engine optimization is changing
With the help of AI, machine learning and years of data, search engines are getting better at predicting what people want.
At the recent Call to Action Conference, Seer Interactive founder Wil Reynolds explained that as search engines become more concerned with solving people’s problems, the old SEO toolset is going to be thrown for a curve:
My bet is on people signals in the algorithm becoming how we’re going to see ourselves ranking better and better. Google’s algorithm is going in a direction of better understanding what people want.
In other words, the search race is no longer simply about keywords — it’s about being a trusted brand committed to solving people’s problems.
Find clues to solve prospects’ problems
The good news is there are a few places you can start looking to see what your customers want, so you can then deliver.
Here are two places Wil suggests any marketer can look to better solve their customers’ problems and start seeing better results.
Clue #1: Comparison search queries
When your future customers are in the evaluation stage of their journey, they’re likely comparing you with your competitors. They’re typing in things like “best,” “compare” and “reviews.”
These keywords indicate that they’re not necessarily sold on you yet — they’re looking for a comparison. Knowing this, how can you discover exactly what they want so you can serve it up for them?
Examine the top organic results
Looking at the top organic results will give you better insight into what people actually want to see.
In the example Wil provided of a search query for “best CRM software,” all of the top paid results are companies, while the top organic results are comparisons:
The discrepancy in the type of organic content that is being shown versus the type of content in the ads tells us the paid content isn’t directly solving the problem people are searching for.
This gives smart marketers a hint that when people use search terms like “best,” they aren’t ready to be sold to. Instead, they’re looking for content that directly compares vendors or brands and allows them to come to their own conclusion about what “best” really is.
Or as Wil put it:
When you want to rank on Google for something organically, they make you solve that person’s problem… but if you are willing to give them money, they’ll just let you show up for it all day long.
Now that you know what your customers are actually looking for, what’s next?
Create content that replicates those top organic results
The image below shows what one of the top organic results looked like for “best CRM software”:
HubSpot took inspiration from this PCMag article and recreated their own table comparing their solution with a few of their competitors:
By creating this comparison chart, they’re giving their potential customers the kind of content they’re looking for at this point in their buyer journey.
Notice that HubSpot actually ranked themselves second in the chart. What kind of marketer would say they’re second best? Bold!
We typically see marketers shouting, “We’re #1!” from the rooftops so consumers constantly feel like they’re be sold to. In this case, as Wil points out, HubSpot is taking a risk by not claiming to be #1. But they’re putting the needs of the customer first, which consumers are sure to love — and Google, too.
Answer customers’ questions instead of just shoving them into your funnel. Google will thank you.
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Clue #2: “People Also Ask” box
Google’s “People Also Ask” box is a goldmine of information for anticipating what your customers will be searching for next.
The “People Also Ask” feature, introduced in 2015, is an expandable box of search queries related to the original search. Each question can be expanded by clicking on it, which gives the user options to refine their search or dig deeper on the subject:
This feature can tell smart marketers several things about how users are searching and creates an opportunity to solve their customer’s problems in more places.
How can you use this clue in your marketing?
Answer more of your users’ questions
Wil explained that when you’re looking for new content ideas, the “People Also Ask” box can be a never-ending source of inspiration.
Start by typing in common search queries for your industry and see what else comes up in the “People Also Ask” box. The suggestions in this box are based on high volume search queries, so they’re a healthy bet for your own content strategy.
The “People Also Ask” box also presents an opportunity to be the leader on any subject. Imagine if you had position 0, position 1, and the “People Also Ask” results? Every user would be led to your content.
The results in the “People Also Ask” boxes are usually results that rank in the first page for that particular search term. To knock out your competitors from these positions, you’ll need to focus on creating high-quality, well-structured and informative content for each search query.
Create a better pop-up experience
Now we’re going to take it a step further beyond creating content on related searches and get into creating content that guides your customer through their journey.
In his talk, Wil explained that “People Also Ask” boxes are giving you cues about how your prospects’ brains work:
“People Also Ask”s are the clues to what people who just searched for [your thing] are going to ask next.
Because the related questions that come up in the “People Also Ask box” are things that other users actually clicked on, you can make assumptions about the kinds of things your customers want to know next.
For example, Seer found that after reading their SEMRush guide, many customers were also asking about comparing SEMRush to Moz.
Seer took this information and created a guide comparing the two tools. They then added a slide-in pop up to their SEMRush guide article, which you can see in the image below, presenting the reader with the option to read the comparison next.
Now a reader doesn’t have to return to Google to find the information they wanted next, because Seer has already presented it to them.
By anticipating what their customers will ask for, Seer is able to keep readers on their site, answer more of their questions and become an even more trustworthy source.
Place ads on trusted sites
We’ve seen that the results in the “People Also Ask” boxes are typically high-quality, informative content that Google already ranks on page 1. This means these sites are highly trusted by Google and they’re showing up for these search queries, so there is a high chance that your customers will visit these websites at some point in their search.
This creates a new opportunity to target your customers with display ads on the sites that you anticipate they will be visiting.
To do this, Wil explained, dig into the “People Also Ask” results to find what sites are coming up as the top answers for all of the queries related to your keyword.
Once you have a list of sites, use Google’s Display planner tool to find those sites and get an idea of how many impressions you’ll get. Then create display ads on the sites that come up most.
Google likes problem solvers
As Google gets better and better at understanding what people want, marketers will need to take an approach that puts solving their customers problems first.
Luckily, Google is already starting to leave clues about what your customers really want to see from your company.
Using these suggestions to start taking action and showing up for your customers at every step of their journey will put you ahead of the curve.
The storytelling meta-template is a tool that will allow you to get much better at PR and content marketing.
So, you want to sell a washing powder. You can write a standard copy: the highest washing quality, the best price, a back to school promo, buy now! But wait! In advertising everything has to be a story now, so why not sell the washing powder using the power of storytelling?
Here’s the basic template. ”Meet Kate. Kate desperately wanted to wash her clothes but couldn’t. That is until the off voice told her about this new washing powder. Now Kate’s clothes are clean and she’s happy!” Do we have a story? Yes. Is it poor? Incredibly poor. Why? Two reasons.
An ad revolves around a product. The story’s central point is the protagonist. But we have Kate in the above example. So why doesn’t it work? Well, in order for the audience to root for the hero, we need to be aware of a couple of things. First, a hero needs a goal. She needs to want something, crave for a change. Do we have a goal in our story? Well, sort of. There’s one very important thing missing from it.
A stake. We need to know why the protagonist’s craving is so important. In an ideal story, it’s the matter of life and death. Of course, we don’t have to treat it liter- ally every time but consider this: Kate met a guy yesterday, he is everything she’s ever dreamt of. And he invited her on a date today! But she’s just landed in a foreign city after two weeks of hiking, and all she has is a bag full of dirty clothes. Now her desire for the clean clothes is more interesting. Because it’s no longer about the laundry — it’s about Kate winning the love of her life. Most of the corporate storylines already have a protagonist (“Our CEO opened the new production line” or ”Wesley became the newest member of our product team”) but fail to emphasize the importance of the goal they try to achieve. Fix this one thing and your stories will be better. But there is more to it.
Do you know how do you engage your curiosity? I just did.
When Emma Coats tweeted the Pixar’s Rules of Storytelling, many asked: which one is the most important of them? My vote goes to this one:
You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
The harder your character tries to succeed, the harder the audience roots for him. Now let’s get back to Kate’s story. There’s no trying at all there! The same goes for most of the corporate storylines: a CEO opened the new production line. Wesley became the newest member of our team. How do you make your character try? Use the second rule of good storytelling:
What is your character good at? What is he comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them.
If the salesperson is good at winning new clients, a story about her winning a new client is no story at all. Have the CEO (a nerdy tech genius with a social anxiety) go to the sales meeting and see how she copes. It makes for a much better story, right?
A structure to rule them all
A book titled Culture And Narration appeared in 1976. Its authors, Edmund Leach and Algirdas Greimas, researched the structures of folk tales. They came up with a story structure: six elements each story should have. What can we find there?
- The hero. Your typical story protagonist: Kate from the story above, our nerdy CEO or Wesley, the newest member of our team.
- The goal. Most of the stories have them. Good stories emphasize the stakes. So the CEO needs to open the new production line or the company goes bankrupt. Kate needs her clean clothes so she can win the love of her life. You get it.
But this is where things get interesting. How do you throw your protagonist in a situation he clearly does not want to be in? You add two elements to your story.
- The giver is someone (or something) who throws our protagonists out of their comfort zones. For Kate, it’s her two-week hiking. The nerdy CEO has to go to a sales meeting because of the nasty flu that’s decimating his team.
- The receiver. You can come up with a very fancy reason for your protagonist to abandon his comfort zone, but your audience still needs to believe it. This is where the receiver comes in. Why would our character agree on doing something completely out of character? What would trigger them? Kate does it in the name of love. And what about our CEO?
If you got the previous ones right, you still have two more to go. These are about your story’s turning point.
- The enemy. In classic fairy tales, it’s the dragon. In Kate’s story, it’s her dirty laundry. For our CEO it’s his social anxiety. The better you depict the enemy, the more emotional your audience will get. You need the protagonist to fall.
- The help(er). Another character or a magical artifact that comes to the rescue. Our hero can be helped directly (think Sam carrying Frodo in The Lord of the Rings) or he can have something called the a-ha moment (like when Rafiki talks Simba into going back in The Lion King).You can recognize this structure in fairy tales, movies or advertising. But many of these stories feel… schematic. Why? Because they’re based on the same template? Well… Here comes the best part.
A template for a template?
Most of the advertising or PR copy that is written using the story structure follows the basic template: Your customer is the protagonist and the product is the help(er). You can squeeze a fairly decent story out of it (by giving your protagonist an unusual goal or a surprising motivation), but the audience will know (sooner rather than later) what you are trying to achieve.
You should know that there are three more meta-templates (the templates for using the story structure template) that you can use. And they’re not that obvious.
- The product and the customer are the helpers. Someone important for the customer is the hero. Just look at the brilliant execution of this template below:
- The seller is the protagonist, the customer is the helper and the prod- uct… is the enemy! A boy sells his engagement ring on eBay. He does not want to have it because the girl said no. You’ll help him… by buying the ring!
- The product is the hero! Think of a lamp that just wants to be useful. Or furniture that craves for some warmth from the butts of a loving family…
Next time you’ll want to build your story, think of the above set of tools. Then disregard the first thing that comes to your mind. Get rid of the second and third thing, too. Now you can start telling your story.
Marketing automation is a very powerful tool. It can generate leads for your business, it can warm the doorknob for your salespeople, and it can help you close more deals. But in the end, marketing automation is not a stand alone tool. In other words, you can’t just set it and forget it. You have to help things along. With that in mind, here are 5 traditional sales techniques to keep in mind when your marketing automation campaign starts delivering the leads you’re looking for.
Don’t start by talking about your company, your product, or your services
I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s one of the most powerful techniques you can use. After all, what is it that most people are interested in? Are they most interested in you? Absolutely not. They’re most interested in themselves. So, with that in mind, you should talk about their company and their needs, not about your company or your needs.
Ultimately, your goal is to discover your prospect’s pain point so that you can show that your product or service is a good solution for them. Which leads us to our next tip.
Don’t assume that the prospect knows what the actual problem is
In many cases, your prospect will talk about the symptom they have rather than the real problem. Here’s a case in point. A friend of mine who is a consultant was pulled in to solve a productivity problem at a manufacturing plant. “Our assembly line needs to run faster in order to get more product out the door, but we can’t afford to upgrade the machinery, so we’re stuck in a bind,” they said.
But it turned out the problem wasn’t with the machinery, it was with a fax machine which was located 200 yards from the guy who processed the orders. Walking the 200 yards every hour to get the orders slowed production down significantly.
$50 and a new fax machine later, the company increased efficiencies by 5% which contributed $7.5 million to their bottom line.
Which brings us back to the main point – don’t assume that what the prospect thinks is the problem is the actual problem.
Practice the 70/30 rule
Many people who are in sales have that job because they’re very friendly. Friendly often translates into being talkative, but talking too much can be a hindrance if you’re a sales person. When you talk too much, you can come across as someone who is nervous or insecure about what it is you’re selling.
A general rule of thumb is to do about 30% of the talking while your prospect does about 70%. That ratio allows you to listen for their pain points and then to respond to what it is that they need (not what you need).
Use your 30% wisely
If you’re going to practice the 70/30 rule, you’re going to have to use your 30% wisely. After all, you won’t have much time to speak if your prospect is doing most of the talking.
What should you do with your 30% of the time? Don’t do a sales pitch. Instead, ask questions. In other words, do what your doctor does when you go in for an exam – he or she will ask a series of questions that helps them zero-in on what your actual health problem is. When you ask questions of your prospect, you’re zeroing-in on what their problem is, which will ultimately lead you to a solution (that you happen to be selling at a very reasonable price, by the way).
Recognize that person-to-person marketing is your most powerful tool
In the end, people buy from people they like. No amount of slick brochures or fancy internet videos will sell your product or service if people don’t feel warm and comfortable around you.
How can you make people feel warm and comfortable? As mentioned already, talk about them. Take an interest in their desires and needs. Find commonalities with them. And be genuine – most people can sniff out when someone is turning on the charm just to close a deal, so be sure to take a genuine interest in your prospect.
A final tip
Here’s a bonus tip for you – be polite to other salespeople. When they email you or call you, they’re just trying to make a living and feed their family, so be respectful to them. After all, what goes around comes around – if you’re nice to other people, then other people will be nice to you.
The post Close More Deals by Using These 5 Traditional Sales Techniques appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.
For subscribers to click through your email, they first need to open your email. I’ll be the first to admit that my inbox currently has over 1,700 unopened emails. Some of those are automated emails from services I signed up for and some of them are emails from well-meaning people who didn’t catch my interest. Whatever the case, each one represents someone who tried and failed to get in contact with me.
Now, maybe you’re not like me. Maybe you open all of your emails regardless of if you’re interested, simply so you can lower that “unread emails” number.
Surely, some of your email subscribers do this. But what I want to discuss is how to get people to open your email because they’re interested in what you have to say, not because they are checking something off their list.
Here’s 11 ways to catch your reader’s interest before they open your email.
1. Spend more time on the subject line.
You’ve probably heard this one before. But it’s still the single most important part of any email that you write.
The second thing that your subscribers are going to look at is the subject line (right after the “from” name). The subject line is the heart of determining if someone is going to open your email.
Sadly, most of us don’t spend nearly enough time on the subject line.
To improve the quality of your subject lines, create a list of 20 different options. Read through them and pick your top 10. Read through them again and pick your top 5. Read through them one more time and pick your top 3. Then, show the top 3 to a few other people and get their opinion before choosing a winner.
For your reference, here are some amazing subject lines that you should totally steal:
- [Exclusive Content] Here are all your eBooks!
- David, did you know that…?
- We have finally done it, David!
- [Free Tools] Download the tools we promised you.
Your subject line needs to trigger one of two things in the receiver.
- Curiosity. Ex: David, did you know that…?
- Self-interest. Ex: [Free Tools] Download the tools we promised you.
Spend some time thinking through your subject line and you’ll get a better open-rate.
2. Create a compelling pre-header.
Sadly, the preheader of an email is often neglected. But the reality is that before opening an email and after reading your subject line, there’s a good chance that people are going to read your preheader.
It’s the final barrier between an email sent and an email opened.
Think of your preheader the way you think about the tagline title of a book. The title (subject line) intrigues you, but it’s the tagline (pre-header) that gets even more specific and compelling.
Here’s some book titles that would make great subject line/pre-header combos:
- Contagious: Why Things Catch On.
- Grit: The Power Of Passion And Perseverance.
Write a pre-header that goes into more detail than your subject line, drawing subscribers to open your email. It’s not just where they look, it’s why they click.
Note: Keep in mind that if you have an image at the top of your email, the alt text is what will show first. Luckily, you can just strategically craft alt text for the top image that makes for an awesome and compelling pre-header.
3. Create a swipe file.
This is the best piece of advice you’ll get out of this article.
And it’s dead simple.
Create an email folder to collect all the emails you receive that had exceptional subject lines and preheaders. This is called a swipe file. It’s a personal library of amazing emails so that when you’re crafting your own, you have an idea bank to reference.
Remember, the best copywriters steal from other great writers. You should steal too.
4. Segment your list.
You’ve probably heard of list segmentation.
Segmentation is putting your list of email subscribers into categories based upon their behaviors. If, for example, a pool of people on your email list haven’t opened the past 10 emails, you might put them into a segmentation meant to save them from inactivity. If another pool of people are opening and clicking through nearly every email, they might go into a segmentation meant to upsell.
In other words, the emails that people on your list receive are behaviorally specific to each person.
Depending upon the tool you’re using for email marketing, segmenting your list will or will not be an option.
But if you’re serious about increasing your open rate, it’s a necessary step.
5. Don’t get caught in spam.
Obviously, it’s practically impossible for people to open your email if it’s going into spam.
Spam filters are intended to help people avoid inboxes filled with shoddy emails. But sometimes, email campaigns with the best intentions get caught.
I’ll tell you what. Here’s a list of the things you need to do to avoid that garbage chute.
- Don’t use any cute tricks, trying to cover up the unsubscribe button or putting “Re:” or “Fwd:” in the subject line. These mischievous actions are practically guaranteed to land you in the spam folder.
- Always include appropriate alt text on your images.
- Include an address and from name in your email.
And here’s the big one:
- Test everything.
Want to know if your email is going to go to spam? Simply send a test email to yourself and a few friends and ask them where it went. If it does go to spam, adjust what you think might have caused it and try again. There’s nothing better than knowing for sure.
6. Choose the best email marketing tool.
There are pros and cons to every email marketing tool. Some get caught in spam easier than others. Some allow for segmentation and a/b testing. Others don’t.
All of these factors play into the potential open rate you can achieve. Using an email marketing tool that fits your brand personality and has the features you need is vital to increasing your open rate.
Getresponse has an email marketing tool that is absolutely phenomenal. For a more extensive list of your options, check out this in-depth piece by Robert Mening where he reviews the pros and cons of a plethora of email marketing services (he even reviews Getresponse).
Ultimately, choose the tool that works for you.
7. Resend campaigns to inactive subscribers.
By way of a reminder to subscribers who didn’t open your email, resend the campaign the following day.
We all lead busy lives and sometimes increasing the open rate of an email is simply a matter of reminding people that they received it in the first place.
Obviously, you have to walk a fine line with this.
Resend too many campaigns and you risk increasing your unsubscribe count. Never resend and you’re missing out on a portion of your audience that simply keeps forgetting to open your email.
Generally speaking, follow these rules:
- Only resend email campaigns a full day after the original was delivered. No sooner. No later.
- Only resend each campaign a max of one time.
- Consider only re-sending campaigns that you consider vital for your audience to see — meaning you don’t resend just your everyday newsletter.
- When you do resend, change the subject line to something more compelling. Something like, “You just missed this…” or “I really don’t want you to miss out on this.”
Resend your campaigns, but don’t overdo it.
8. Find the ideal frequency.
Email your list too much and your open-rate will plummet. Email them too little and they’ll forget you exist.
Unfortunately, finding the perfect email frequency is easier said than done.
Because that “perfect” frequency varies from list to list. It varies based on what your subscribers expect from you, how they think about you, and the quality of your emails.
This goes without saying, but make sure to find the correlation between open rate and email frequency. This will help inform you of the appropriate frequency for your list.
Additionally, here are a few ways to use the appropriate frequency based on your list segmentations:
- Decrease email frequency for people who rarely open your emails.
- Increase email frequency for people who open most of your emails.
- Create a survey and ask your list how often they wish to receive your emails. Then place each subscriber in an appropriate segmentation.
Find the sweet spot for your list and your open-rate will automatically increase.
9. Find the best time of day.
Much of email marketing comes down to timing.
The best time of day to email, depending on your audience, is mostly the same across the board.
If you have an audiences of Nurses who work night shifts, then the optimal email time might change. But according to GetResponse, generally, the best time to email your list is on the weekend at around 6 a.m.
This makes sense because most people are less busy on the weekends and pay more attention to their email. Send when people are most likely to open your emails or you’re doing yourself and your subscribers a disservice.
10. Optimize for mobile.
Most email marketing services and templates come with built in responsivity.
But if yours doesn’t, you’re making a huge mistake. 66% of all emails are opened on smartphones or tablets, meaning that if your email campaigns aren’t mobile responsive, your poor list of subscribers is receiving stuff that looks like this.
Nothing turns off subscribers like lazy email campaigns. And sadly, that’s exactly how an email like the above example feels.
A few points to keep in mind:
- Use small file sizes. Everything runs slower on mobile and a slow load time is sure to get an immediate bounce.
- Resize images to make sure everything fits in the mobile screen.
- Make CTA’s a little bigger than they used to be. Small CTA’s are harder to click on phones.
- Make sure to use mobile responsive email templates.
Mobile responsive emails are a must for anyone who’s serious about their email campaigns.
11. Use a real person’s name in the “from” field.
I thought I’d finish with an easy one.
Instead of using your business name in the “from” field, use the name of an actual person. Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your customer support person. Whatever the case, use a real person’s name.
67% of subscribers open an email simply because of who the email is from.
Using a real person’s name creates the sense that you’re not a robot, but you’re a human being with wants, desires, and personality. Often times, it’s that personality that people connect with. And once they do, they’ll keep opening your emails simply because they like you.
Tell them who you are in the “from” field and they’re more likely to open your emails.
I could give you hundreds of tips and best practices that promise to increase your email open rate. And while many of them are good, you know your list better than anyone.
The best thing you can do is test everything. Play around with different subject lines and pre-headers and see what gets the best results.
At the end of the day, people aren’t opening an email. They’re opening a conversation. A conversation that starts with you and ends with them.
And no one knows better how to start that conversation than you.
So get started.