You spend a lot of time reading blog posts and e-books to learn how to market your business more effectively.
So, why isn’t it working?
Sure, you might be getting some traffic, maybe even a few sales, but are you getting a stream of both that’s growing steadily?
If you’re like 95% of business owners or marketers, you’re not.
Although you’re using all the same tactics the pros are using and succeeding with, they just don’t seem to work for you.
Some business owners spend years repeating this fruitless cycle until they deem online marketing a failure.
And it’s a shame because it could help them a great deal.
You and I both know it.
Do you want to know the cause for these struggles?
I can sum it up in one sentence:
It’s not enough to know how to use a tactic. You need to know why it works.
Let that sink in for a second.
Anyone can read an article on a popular blog like Quick Sprout or Backlinko and learn about marketing tactics that work.
They are usually broken down step-by-step so that just about anybody could figure out the technical details.
But what most marketers don’t realize is that certain tactics only work in certain situations.
You can adapt many of them to your specific business, but in order to do that, you first have to understand why they work.
The best way for me to show you the mistakes you might be making with tactics is to show you the most common ones.
And that’s what I’m going to do for the rest of this post.
1. The most common content marketing blunder: A product-audience mismatch
It absolutely kills me to see this mistake.
It’s one that beginner marketers make, but it’s not until they become more experienced that they see the results of the mistake.
You see, many marketers learn to use the tactics they read about really well.
They are persistent and work hard to apply those tactics, which helps them drive traffic and convert that traffic to subscribers.
Sometimes, they do this for years.
And that’s why it’s heartbreaking…
…because despite all that work, they’be been building the wrong audience.
When they finally decide to sell a product to that audience, they fail. There are two main scenarios where this failure occurs:
- Scenario #1 – Trying to sell an existing product to the audience
- Scenario #2 – Trying to replicate a successful product and then trying to sell it to the audience
These scenarios happen because of one mistake: not understanding the product-audience fit.
Why not understanding product-audience fit leads to failure: First, you need to understand that every type of content attracts its own type of audience.
For example, if you create incredibly in-depth content like I do, it attracts those readers in your niche who are extremely passionate about your niche and will devote a lot of time and effort to it.
But if you create content like “10 quick tips to do X,” you’ll attract people who just want a simple solution. They don’t actually care about “X.” They just want the result.
And those are just two examples.
The point is that each tactic you follow will produce a different type of audience.
What happens as a result is that you end up with an audience of many different types of people.
When you’re selling a product, your goal is to make that product as appealing as possible to your audience.
If a large part of your audience is interested in it, that means you have a good product-audience fit. This is similar to the product-market fit concept.
Can you see the fatal flaw in copying tactics yet?
Since your audience is composed of many different types of people, it’s going to be almost impossible to find a product that appeals to a large portion of them. That’s basically what happens in scenario #1.
Sometimes, you’ll get lucky by copying those tactics and create an audience that is fairly cohesive.
That’s a great thing and gives you a chance to succeed.
But most marketers then enter scenario #2.
Since they’re used to copying tactics to generate traffic and subscribers, why wouldn’t they copy product tactics as well?
They’ll come across posts like this one by Derek Halpern in which he talks about how selling courses has helped him generate well over 6 figures.
Then, our marketer will think something like, “That’s a great idea. I should make an online course to sell to my audience!”
Maybe that sounds familiar. If not, be wary of falling into that trap.
That’s because once you decide to create a product, you need to be ready to invest months of hard work creating it and possibly a lot of money as well.
What often ends up happening, as you might have guessed by now, is that the product flops if it doesn’t fit the audience.
And in many cases, it won’t.
If your audience isn’t interested in learning how to do everything themselves, they won’t be interested in buying a detailed course.
Instead, you’d be much better off selling tools that automate things or services that get them the results they want.
If you only take away one thing from this post, let it be this:
Always consider the audience you’re building with different tactics. Then, sell products that match their desires and needs instead of just creating the latest, trendy type of product.
2. You can’t only give value
What’s the first lesson of content marketing?
The basic idea is a sound one because it’s based on the rule of reciprocity.
When you give people something, they feel obligated to give you something in return.
In the context of content marketing, you give them valuable content, and in turn, they give you their attention and even email addresses.
The more value you give, the more traffic and subscribers you typically get (as a general rule).
If you understand that, fantastic.
But here’s where most marketers go wrong.
They give, and give, and give some more until they can’t give anymore.
They don’t understand that you need to give your readers an opportunity to give back to you in the form of financial support.
In other words, you need to sell products.
If you don’t, you don’t have a business—you have a hobby.
Eventually, you won’t be able to afford to keep creating great content for your audience, which limits how much you can help them.
But if you have a business that generates revenue, you can afford to invest in even better content.
Selling products isn’t an evil thing: The reason why so many beginner, and even intermediate, marketers are so hesitant to sell something is because of how they perceive it.
They believe that by selling a product they are “taking” something from their audience.
And while I understand where this feeling comes from, it’s also completely ridiculous when you start to examine it closer.
First, and most important of all, products can be good.
I am more than happy to pay a lot of money for my favorite products. They add a lot of value to my life.
I’m sure you have products like that too. In fact, everyone does.
So, why can’t you create a product like that for your audience?
You already understand them well enough to produce valuable content, right? So, the next step is to create something larger that can have an even bigger impact on their lives.
The second thing you need to realize is that your audience has been paying for your content the whole time.
Not with money, but with their attention and time.
Both of those things are very limited and worth a lot. Your audience is still giving you something in return for the value you give them.
The takeaway: Marketing isn’t just about giving away content. It’s about finding multiple ways to make a difference in your audience’s lives and getting compensated for that work.
You don’t have to resort to tricking or scamming to build a successful business. Just focus on creating as much value as possible, but give your audience a chance to buy products from you.
3. What opt-in conversion rates are really determined by
Most content marketers have the same basic goals.
Turn that traffic into email subscribers.
Marketers have finally learned the value of email subscribers, and the conversion rate from traffic to subscribing has become a huge focus.
This has led to endless posts about tactics you can use to increase your conversion rate.
Since everyone is using the same tactics, they should get about the same results, right?
But that’s not what’s happening.
Even with the same tactic, one person will get conversion rates below 1% while another will get conversion rates over 20%.
The truth is most marketers don’t understand what factors determine conversion rates. They blame the tactic and keep searching for more tactics to try.
If this sounds familiar, stop it.
Instead, take a minute now to learn why you’re not having the success you should.
There are two factors that determine opt-in rates.
Factor #1 – Exposure: On a basic level, no one can sign up for your email list unless they get the opportunity to.
Therefore, if you have zero opt-in forms on your site, you can’t get any new subscribers.
Exposure is the “easy” factor, and it’s what most conversion rate blog posts focus on.
They convince you that pop-ups, content upgrades, sidebar forms, or any number of different tactics will produce the best conversion rate.
And to be fair, some of those are better than others.
From an exposure point of view, pop-ups are fantastic. If you set a pop-up to show up after a page loads, almost everyone will see it, which means they have an opportunity to opt in.
This is where most marketers start and stop.
They go from exposure tactic to exposure tactic, trying to find one with a better conversion rate.
Most of these marketers never get more than a low conversion rate because this is all they’re focused on.
But smart marketers know there’s one more piece to the puzzle.
Factor #2 – Value: For some reason, value is often ignored when it comes to opt-ins.
Most sites offer a weak incentive to sign up for an email list. For example:
- Sign up to get more posts like this
- Sign up to get a free checklist
- Sign up to get some exclusive content
Seriously, do you think your content is so damn good that everyone will opt in just so that theymight not miss a post?
Even I don’t think that.
Those examples I’ve given you are not valuable.
Sure, they have some value, but nothing that’s going to make a real difference in your readers’ lives.
But what if you offered someone $100 to sign up for your email list?
I bet just about everyone would sign up because that’s an insane amount of value.
Now, obviously most people can’t do that, but do you see how the value of the offer affects your conversion rate?
The real formula is something like this:
Opt-in rate = Exposure * Value of Offer
A valuable offer alone isn’t enough, however; you also need to get it in front of your audience.
But when you have a tactic that gives you exposure along with an offer that is actually valuable, that’s when you get incredibly high conversion rates (e.g., Bryan Harris often gets over 20% conversion rates).
Most marketers spend very little time on creating a valuable offer, and then they wonder why their conversion rates suck despite trying all the different exposure tactics.
It should be clear to you now why this doesn’t work.
So, how valuable should your offer be?
There’s no specific amount. Just make it as valuable as you can.
As an example, look at the sidebar on Quick Sprout, which contains an offer for a free course:
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