There are a lot of reasons I love Squirrly SEO.
Yoast has been the king of WordPress SEO plugins for years. However, there is a new player in the market that makes Yoast look like weak sauce.
Squirrly SEO is different. You can do a lot more for a lot less money, all inside of WordPress.
Yoast wants hundreds of dollars for this feature. Remember 3-4 keywords is best.
Each plugin on your site increases load time. Squirrly is designed for speed!
I switched on the Television last night very briefly and I can now see why Facebook is so popular!
There was nothing to watch.
Now I don’t have cable or Satellite TV, so that was maybe part of the problem, but there is a method in my madness…it minimizes the temptation to sit in front of the “idiot box” and so allows me more time for reading and blogging.
As I searched Facebook for these images I was reminded of the quote by Arianna Huffington,
“self expression has become the new form of entertainment” and that the popularity of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is evidence of this phenomenon.
A large part of this self expression is visual and the popularity of photos and images that are shared in their millions every day is evidence of the compelling power of well crafted high definition images and beautiful photos.
Jeff’s Bonus: Get 6 more of my favorite Facebook cover photos, plus 10 of my best Facebook tips. Easily save as a PDF and refer to it later. Click here to get these bonuses sent to you.
This redesign is recognition of the increasing role that images are playing on the “visual social web” and you only have to witness the growth of Pinterest and Instagram to see this playing out.
Everyone has a camera in their pocket or bag these days as smart phones now have them as a standard feature. Add to this the ease of posting those photos to Facebook or Twitter with a few clicks and the web is awash with images from Bondi to Bulgaria.
The new Facebook timeline for pages has provided a bigger canvas for business and organisations to exhibit the essence of their brand.
I hope some of these images below may inspire you to consider what you publish as your cover image for your new Facebook page.
Which are your favourites?
What cover images have you discovered that you found compelling?
Jeff’s Bonus: Get 6 more of my favorite Facebook cover photos, plus 10 of my best Facebook tips. Easily save as a PDF and refer to it later. Click here to get these bonuses sent to you.
On – 08 Dec, 2017 By Jeff Bullas
Facebook has announced a new crackdown on Engagement Baiting.
The demotions will begin this week against posts and pages that engage in spammy posts that actively solicit Facebook users to interact with a post in a specific manner such as liking, posting a specific word or sharing with friends.
The practice is considered a form of spam designed to make a post or page rank higher in Facebook users news feeds.
The purpose of the algorithmic demotions is “to promote more meaningful and authentic conversations on Facebook.” The demotions will happen to both pages and posts that engage in the practice.
Over the coming weeks, Facebook will begin “stricter demotions” against Pages that engage in repeated engagement baiting.
The delay in the stricter demotions is allow admins time to update their posting schedules to avoid inadvertently engaging in engagement baiting.
Facebook encourages Facebook Page admins to read and understand the Facebook Newsfeed Guidelines in order to avoid triggering a demotion.
Posts that are legitimate and authentic conversations between Facebook members will not be targeted. According to Facebook:
“Posts that ask people for help, advice, or recommendations, such as circulating a missing child report, raising money for a cause, or asking for travel tips, will not be adversely impacted by this update.”
Facebook is taking action on the following five forms of engagement baiting:
Vote baiting is soliciting votes by encouraging engagement signals such as reactions, comments, or sharing to represent the votes. This is essentially tricking users to engage with a post or page as a way to express a vote.
This is soliciting Facebook users to react to a post to express how they feel about it.
Share baiting is a post that solicits friend sharing. Facebook uses an example of a post encouraging users to share with ten friends for a chance to win a new car.
Tag baiting is actively soliciting Facebook users to tag their friends in relation to a post.
Comment baiting is requesting users to respond with a specific phrase, word, numbers or emoji. Facebook uses the example of a post asking users to comment “Yes” if they enjoy rock music.
Facebook has collected hundreds of thousands of examples of engagement baiting posts and pages in order to train an algorithm to detect the different versions of engagement bait.
The demotions will happen automatically.
Featured Image created by author
On – 18 Dec, 2017 By Roger Montti
Does your page use Facebook events?
Want to retarget ads to people who engage with your events on Facebook?
In this article, you’ll discover three ways to target audiences using Facebook event engagement custom audiences.
How to Use Facebook Event Targeting in Your Facebook Ads by Kristi Hines on Social Media Examiner.
The fastest way to target people who are going to your Facebook event is to include or exclude them in the Connections section of the Audience targeting setup in Ads Manager.
Click Add a Connection Type, hover over Events, and select whether you want to include or exclude people who have responded to your Facebook event.
After you make your selection, the Add an Event field appears below the option you selected.
You can also select Advanced Combinations from the Add a Connection Type drop-down menu and include or exclude people who are connected to your Facebook event. You can only include or exclude people who are going to your event; you can’t target friends of people who have responded to your event.
Click the Save This Audience button to save this audience for use in other Facebook ad campaigns. Then add a name for your audience so you can easily identify it for future ads and then click Save.
To get a little more specific about the people you want to target based on their engagement with your Facebook event, you can set up a custom audience for Facebook event engagement.
To create a custom audience, open the Audiences dashboard in Ads Manager.
In the Audiences dashboard, click Create Audience and select Custom Audience from the drop-down menu.
You can also create new custom audiences in Ads Manager while creating an ad. In audience targeting, click Create New under the Custom Audiences field and select Custom Audience.
Next, select Engagement as how you want to create your audience.
To create this audience, choose Event.
You can choose to create a custom audience based on people who meet any or all of the Facebook event engagement criteria you enter.
Then select people who are going to or interested in your Facebook event.
Enter the number of days you want the event engagement custom audience to cover and choose the Facebook page you used to create your Facebook event.
Select one or more Facebook events. You can hover over each Facebook event to see a breakdown of the number of people who are going to or interested in the event, along with additional details from the Facebook event page.
Continue to include or exclude more Facebook events from other Facebook pages as needed.
When you’re done setting up your custom audience details, click the Show Description link above the Create Audience button to name and add a short description to your custom audience. Then click the Create Audience button.
You can select this custom audience in audience targeting when creating new ads in Ads Manager.
You can also view the audience from the Audiences dashboard. Once the audience is populated, check the box next to it and click the Create Ad button above to create a new Facebook ad campaign with your custom audience as the target.
Do you want to target Facebook ad campaigns to people who actually attended your event? If you collect information from people while they’re physically at your event, you can use that data to create a custom audience based on offline activity.
First, you need to create an offline event with the data you collect from attendees at your event. To do this, you must use Business Manager to manage your Facebook ad account.
Inside Business Manager, navigate to Offline Events under the Measure & Report section.
On the following screen, click Add Data Source and select Offline Event Set from the drop-down menu.
Name the data you plan to upload. For example, if you upload information from everyone who checked in for a badge or registered at the door of your latest event, name and describe the offline event set accordingly.
Once you’ve named and described your offline event set, click Create. Next, select the Facebook ad accounts with which you want to use this offline event set and click Next.
Confirm the assignment to your ad accounts in the resulting pop-up and click Done. Then click the Upload Offline Events button.
On the next screen, you’ll upload the information you collected from your event attendees. Facebook’s sample data shows how your information should be formatted. While not all of the information is required, you can see everything that can be included in your offline event set CSV file on the Facebook Business support site.
Attach your CSV file and then click the Next: Map Data button.
Now you’ll match the data in your CSV file with the data Facebook can work with to create your offline event set, and then click the Next: Review button.
Facebook will analyze your data and let you know if there are any issues. When you’re ready, click the Start Upload button to start creating your offline event set.
As Facebook compiles your data, it will use the email addresses and phone numbers you uploaded to match your customer data to Facebook audiences.
Once your offline event set is created, you can use the Create Audience drop-down menu to create a custom audience.
On the following screen, assign your custom audience to your ad account and select the audience type from the drop-down menu.
Specify the number of days to include in your custom audience, add a name for your audience, and enter an optional description. Click Submit when you’re finished.
Once populated, you can select this custom audience in audience targeting when creating new ads in Ads Manager.
You can also use the Audiences dashboard to create a Facebook ad campaign with your new custom audience. Check the box next to your custom audience and click the Create Ad button above.
As you can see, there are different ways to use Facebook events for audience targeting in a Facebook ad campaign. You can also use offline event sets and custom audiences to target actual attendees of your event if you collect and export attendee data.
What do you think? How do you plan to use events for your Facebook ad campaigns? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
On – 18 Dec, 2017 By Kristi Hines
It’s almost 2018, and all the years (so far) that we’ve enjoyed web-based technology have produced an abundance of website builders available to help any of us, from aspiring entrepreneurs to passionate bloggers.
Even if you yourself don’t know anything about web development, spending just a few minutes playing around with a WYSIWYG editor will usually help you figure out the basic functionality of building a website from scratch. The problem is that most website creators take you only as far as establishing that website. And, even if your content is amazing, and your offers competitive, you won’t have enough to be successful.
Instead, the end goal for most amateur website developers is to build traffic numbers (and, ultimately, the revenue that comes from that traffic). And to do this, new entrepreneurs need to realize that this traffic isn’t going to come naturally; people won’t know you exist until they learn about you, or see you on a site or app they’re already using.
That’s why, once your website is created, it’s on you to nurture and promote it. So, what can you do to make that happen?
Your first option is to pursue paid advertising, such as through Google AdWords, a pay-per-click (PPC) ad platform that charges you based on the actual click-throughs you get for your site. This is usually a good method to start with, as long as you have the budget for it, since you’ll guarantee that at least some traffic will get to your site.
The problem is, most new webmasters don’t have the money to spend on this method, and it doesn’t scale as well as some of the other tactics on this list.
You can also work on search engine optimization (SEO), a strategy designed to help your website rank higher in relevant searches on Google (and other search engines). Most free and inexpensive website builders offer templates that are structurally sound for SEO, with clean code and a crawlable infrastructure. But, beyond that, you’ll need to create interesting, original content on a regular basis, and attract more backlinks that point to your site (to boost your domain authority and eventually rank you higher for relevant queries).
Blogging is another good strategy, and it ties into several other strategies on this list. For example, blogging regularly is a practical necessity for any SEO campaign, since it creates more crawlable pages on your site, adds to your authority and enables you to optimize for more specific keywords. Plus, if you can build an audience with your blog, you’ll be more likely to retain that audience’s members and introduce them to other sections of your site.
The biggest advantages of social media are its sheer ability to connect with hundreds of millions of people, and the fact that it’s free to use (which gives it a tremendous potential ROI). The idea is to use your content to make your site more discoverable, engage with individuals and groups who might like your site and content and eventually build up a following that stays with your brand and provides a steady stream of inbound traffic.
As a supplementary strategy, you can create personal brands to support your main website brand. For example, if you built a website for your startup, you could start a side blog about your experiences as an entrepreneur, and develop your personal social media profiles in addition to your corporate social profiles. If executed effectively, these personal brands can help you double your visibility, and gain more trust (since people trust other people more than they do brands).
When you first launch your site, don’t forget to write and submit a press release announcing your presence. You can do the work, yourself (if you’re familiar with the proper formatting), and spend a few hundred dollars to distribute it through PR Newswire. You’ll instantly spread the information about your new site, and will probably pick up a few backlinks along the way.
Finally, you can use your personal brand to start guest-posting on other sites. Make a pitch to the editor of a given publication, and try to appeal to his or her target audience. If you earn a spot, you’ll have a chance to expose yourself to an entirely new audience, build up your reputation and possibly build a link that points back to your site.
No matter what strategy or collection of strategies you use to promote your site, it’s incredibly important to measure your results, experiment with new approaches and tweak your tactics until you have a better overall system. Just because a tactic worked for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you, and just because it’s working for you doesn’t mean it’s the best strategy for you. Take your time, try many different approaches, and stick with the moves that seem to work best.
On – 06 Dec, 2017 By Anna Johansson
Are you using Facebook Ads to grow your business? If not, you should be – Facebook has a wide range of great ad formats, targeting options, and campaign types.
Here are my top 10 favorite Facebook advertising features to consider in your marketing.
In addition to being cheap and insanely effective, Facebook Lead Ads totally eliminate the need for people to visit a landing page on your website.
With Lead Ads you can acquire valuable contact information from potential customers who are using Facebook on a mobile device.
You can use these ads to get people to sign up for your email newsletter, offer deals or discounts, schedule appointments, and more.
Video ads are an awesome and cheap Facebook advertising feature – you can pay as little as a penny per video view.
More memorable than the usual text and image combo, Facebook video ads deliver strong brand recall and high engagement – and drive purchase intent.
Simply upload the video to Facebook’s native video player, customize the description, thumbnail, budget, and targeting, and go.
Engagement ads can help make your Facebook Page look super popular to anyone who is checking out your business.
Facebook will only show this type of ad to the people who are most likely to engage with your post – reacting, commenting, or sharing.
Sure, getting thousands of comments and reactions is ultimately just vanity, but people want to be part of the in-crowd. Facebook Pages with zero fan interaction always look a bit suspect – if your business is so great, where are all your customers?
Facebook remarketing lets you reach people who’ve already interacted with or checked out your brand in some way. Maybe they visited your website (or a specific page on it), took some sort of action in your app or game, or gave you their email address or phone number.
Facebook tags these people via web cookies. Your remarketing ads can then be shown to those people as they go through their Facebook News Feed, so they’ll remember you, and perhaps convert on one of your offers.
People who are familiar with your brand are 2x more likely to convert and 3x more likely to engage. Ridiculously powerful stuff.
Facebook’s interest targeting helps you find the people who are likely to be interested in buying your product or service.
You can reach specific audience based on their interests, their activities, and the Pages they’ve liked. You can also combine interests to expand the reach of your ad.
Whether you want to target people who are interested in technology, fitness and wellness, entertainment, or a certain business/industry, this Facebook ad feature will help you do it.
You can target people based on where they live, their age, their gender, their political leanings, their job title, or by specific life events (e.g., engagement, birthday, anniversary)
Facebook also offers financial targeting – you can specify that you only want to show your ads to people who make more than an income level you specify, whether it’s as low as $30,000 or more than $500,000
If you sell a pricey product, you want to make sure your ads are shown to people who can afford to buy your stuff.
Facebook’s behavioral targeting enables you reach people based on purchase history, intent, device usage, and more.
Facebook uses data from third-party partners to figure out specific behaviors, both online and offline. After matching up that data with user IDs, Facebook lets advertisers target audience segments based on thousands of different purchasing behaviors.
For instance, you can target ads to people who’ve purchased clothing, health and beauty, technology, or pet products. Or if you wanted to target based on travel, you could choose options such as frequent travelers, international travelers, cruises, or whether someone has used a travel app in the past month.
Facebook’s tracking pixel tracks actions that happen on your website as a result of your paid ads (as well as your organic posts). All you have to do is add some code to any pages you want to track.
Actions include things like adding an item to a cart, viewing content, making a purchase, and completing registration.
The tracking pixel will help you measure conversions, optimize your ads and targeting, and gain insights about the Facebook users visiting your website.
You want to use conversion campaigns when the objective of your ad is to get people to do something specific on your website or in your mobile app.
You define that action, whether it’s completing a purchase, adding something to a cart, or a page view.
Carousel Ads let you display multiple images or videos (up to 10) within the same ad unit. Each image or video can link to a different page of your website.
You can use these images to highlight products, features, or a promotion.
When done well, Carousel ads have proven to significantly increase conversions and click-through rates.
Businesses can also now create bots for Facebook Messenger that will “talk” to your customers anytime, 24/7. How cool is that?
Facebook’s chat bots have a ton of potential in terms of customer service and sales. They can provide automated information, take orders, help users buy products or services, or provide shipping notifications.
And you never have to leave Facebook Messenger to shop or get the information you want.
Those are some of my favorite Facebook advertising features. Hopefully they can help get you thinking about how you can incorporate them into your strategy.
A version of this post was first published on Inc.
On – 10 Dec, 2017 By Larry Kim
It’s the time of year when everyone who does content work for a startup or tech company here in the Bay area wants to talk about how to generate story ideas. They know I do this work for a living and they want tips as they prepare their 2018 content strategies.
It’s safe to say that if you’re fully committed to content marketing, you have to write a boatload of content. And constantly coming up with new topics and ideas for this is no easy task.
There are many strategies you can use to find new topics. Some of my favorites involve monitoring what your audience is saying online: through visiting industry forums, Q&A sites like Quora and your blog and social media comments.
But even with these strategies, it’s not uncommon to run out of ideas. This post will offer an alternative process you can use to guarantee that you never run out of content ideas again.
This is my go-to strategy for finding out which posts are driving traffic to big-name sites. Since I largely write about topics in the startup, entrepreneur, tech, SEO and content marketing space, I like to look at sites like Entrepreneur (duh), Mashable and TechCrunch, as they typically cover these topics. You’ll likely know which big sites are worth analyzing for your niche or industry.
Using a tool like Buzzsumo, I simply plug in the subject area I’m most interested in, and I can generate a list of the most shared articles on the Internet about that subject.
Once you spend enough time using this tool, you start to get a feel for which subject areas get more shares than others. Now that I know this topic is worth targeting (in terms of potential traffic), I can figure out how to cover this topic in a different and better way.
Although it’s beyond the scope of the post, I’ll share a few strategies I typically use to improve on a competitor’s post:
This strategy works well both as a standalone strategy or in conjunction with strategy #1. It can help you with brainstorming topic ideas from scratch, or coming up with stronger headlines for an existing topic idea.
Big-name sites put serious time and effort into coming up with headlines that will grab the attention of their readers. They carefully track which types of headlines work and which don’t….so why not take advantage of all their hard work?
Visit popular posts on big sites and see which ones jump out at you. Keep in mind the topics of these posts don’t even have to be remotely similar to yours – because you’re going to change them to make it fit your topic anyway.
Here’s an example: Go to Buzzfeed Buzz (because BuzzFeed has headlines down to a science). There will probably be at least one headline that jumps out at you that you can easily re-work to fit any niche topic.
A word of warning: Do not use the titles word-for-word. This is not ok. The idea is not to copy that title, but rather to use it as inspiration for your own headline.
This strategy is most effective when combined with #1 or #2 above.
I find that when I’ve been working on a topic or pitch idea for a while, I tend to get a bit of tunnel vision. After coming up with dozens of potential topics and headlines, it can be difficult to pinpoint which ones are actually the most compelling!
This is where it helps to bring in a third party. Once you’ve compiled a list of titles, come up with an alternate title for each post.
For instance, let’s say I’ve come up with the title, “50 Content Marketing Cliches You Need to Avoid”. While I may love that title, I’ll still come up with an alternate approach to test it against. In this case, maybe something like, “50 Content Marketing Cliches To Avoid at All Costs”.
Now I’ll grab a friend or colleague and pitch them both options. I ask them to go with their gut, and choose the one that immediately grabs their attention – not the title that’s the most eloquent or that they think they should like best.
One final note: I’m not suggesting – in any way, shape or form – that you find popular posts and rip them off. Your goal isn’t to just rehash or regurgitate content that’s already out there.
What you are doing is getting an idea of which topics and headline approaches have already proven popular. If you’re pitching a well-known site for a guest post, you’ll want to know what types of topics and headlines they typically use. If you’re writing a post for your own site, you’ll want to see what types of topics and headlines typically get the most traction in your niche.
In other words, you want to find out what’s already working, and use that as your inspiration.
Coming up with engaging topics can be a serious roadblock to content marketing success. And relying solely on your own ideas often isn’t enough. Here’s perhaps the best part. The more time you spend seeing how the best in the business design their headlines, the more you’ll gain that skill as well.
On – 05 Dec, 2017 By John Boitnott
Just as the richest players in poker can still lose it all, even brands with the biggest marketing budgets can still lose millions on a bad play.
Pepsi discovered that truth firsthand after running a tone-deaf YouTube ad in April featuring people marching down a city street with generic protest signs. Kendall Jenner suddenly joined in, then stepped out of the crowd to make a stone-faced police officer smile by handing him a can of Pepsi. This left some viewers wondering whether the ad might be a belated (and expensive) April Fools’ Day joke. Harsher criticism led Pepsi to pull it the very next day.
The viral outrage hurt the company’s potential revenue and damaged Pepsi’s brand sentiment, especially on social media. Industry experts estimate the cost of production, Jenner’s fee and the media buy might have run into the hundreds of millions. Although such a huge, global brand could afford to take the hit, it should never have taken such a risk in the first place.
When a small ad can become a big story within hours, every bet is a big bet. Poker players avoid losing too much at once by calculating risks and managing their bankroll. That means a player with $2 million in the bank isn’t sitting down at a table with $2 million in chips, and then going all-in on a bad hand.
Your business should play by the same rules. In marketing, as in poker, disciplined bankroll management and calculated risks are the keys to staying on budget while seizing opportunities that provide high return on investment.
A great poker player who puts himself in situations he should win 90 percent of the time could still lose 100 times in a row. It’s not guaranteed, but the longer a person plays, the more likely an abnormally long streak of bad luck will occur.
Not every marketing campaign or investment will bear fruit, and sometimes multiple endeavors in a row fall flat. Companies that bet too much on these investments will struggle to survive; those that budget to outlast unlucky streaks will stay on track.
The best approach is to ride the ebb and flow between optimizing for expected ROI and maintaining a position of safety. When limited opportunities start paying immediate dividends, companies that practice bankroll management can double down — while others lack the funds to capitalize on the opportunity.
Marketing budgets are typically created in vacuums with their numbers based on static assumptions and long lists of hypotheticals. If poker players bet on “what ifs” the way most marketers do, they would go broke within a month.
Smart companies look at past performance data and create fluid budgets that leave wiggle room for unexpected turns of events. By leaving some money behind for the best opportunities, marketers can react quicker to recent data and adjust spending based on real-time information.
At Ladder, we budget according to the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of our marketing budget goes to proven winners, such as our B2B ad campaigns and Facebook lead ad campaigns. The other 20 percent always goes to a new channel, creative construct, audience or copy test. We see opportunities all the time, so rather than spend all our budget on potential big wins (or all on past successes), we spend small amounts to test. When the risk doesn’t pay off, no harm done. When the investment shows promise, we try to scale it.
The 80/20 rule helps us, but it’s not the only way for companies to practice good bankroll management. Just as the best poker players continually adjust their styles, marketers can follow a few basic steps to maximize ROI and weather down periods.
Always hold back enough budget to continue along a successful path and invest more when necessary. We set a target budget each month and never contribute the entire budget to a single campaign because we have learned that big wins can come from small spends.
According to research recently published in the Harvard Business Review, as challenging as it is to evaluate new ideas, running many inexpensive tests at once is the key. Authors Ron Kohavi and Stefan Thomke explored the outcome of a simple A/B test conducted at Microsoft, for example, to see how changing ad headlines in its Bing search engine would affect revenue.
This initiative had been languishing on the back burner until one eager engineer suddenly decided to spearhead a few, cheap online experiments to test a few different possibilities. Incredibly, just hours later, analysis showed that a single variation in one headline had resulted in a 12 percent increase in revenue — in the United States alone, that would amount to more than $100 million annually.
As this story shows, even small marketing plays can turn into massive wins. According to the results of “The CMO Survey” from August 2017, marketing budgets now account for around 11 percent of the average company’s total budget, no matter the size of the company.
With so much at stake, founders must pick their battles wisely.
“The CMO Survey” also discovered companies of all sizes, across all industries, that rely most heavily on analytics in decision-making typically have marketing budgets 70 percent larger than the competition. Are those companies analyzing data to make sounder bets seeing more success, and therefore bigger budgets?
If an analytics department isn’t within your reach, you can still pour a percentage of your resources into new opportunities that demonstrate promise. Limited tests of small investments can provide powerful information.
Our Facebook lead ads might be part of our 80 percent “proven winners” budget today, but for three months, we used our 20 percent exploration budget to test different formats and creative approaches. Once we realized we could replicate the results, we shifted our budget to invest regularly in Facebook ads and began using that 20 percent to test other options.
Keep marketing plans and finances fluid from month to month. New opportunities appear all the time, but they disappear just as quickly. Build wiggle room into the budget to avoid betting too much on a single strategy.
We always double down on what works — such as our Facebook lead ads. Those big wins from small spends are only possible when we build fluid budgets that can accommodate new ideas on a moment’s notice. Just as a poker player wants to have cash on hand when wealthy, inexperienced opponents sit down at the table, marketers need to be ready to adjust their priorities when golden opportunities arise.
The battle between Snapchat and Instagram proves how quickly marketing channels can shift. Instagram users woke up one day to find Instagram Stories — almost a carbon copy of Snapchat’s functionality — on their feeds. Although Snapchat beat Instagram to the punch, Instagram’s Stories feature quickly overtook its rival, currently boasting more than 300 million users, according to TechCrunch.
Poker players and marketers alike strive to not win big once, but to develop a replicable strategy that will lead to more sustainable, scalable successes. Heed these lessons from savvy poker pros to practice perfect bankroll management and be ready when it’s time to go all-in.
On – 06 Dec, 2017 By Jon Brody
Fear-based marketing strategies are controversial.
Just like most other marketing tactics, they can either work extremely well or blow up in your face.
But studies have proven the tactic to be effective time and time again.
You can implement them in your ads to increase your CTR, subtly use them in a loss-aversion pitch, and more.
The options are nearly limitless with fear-based marketing.
But simply attempting to strike fear in the eyes of your potential customers could backfire.
It could position your brand in an unfavorable light.
Thankfully, there are a few ways to use fear in marketing to grab attention without it backfiring.
You can implement this strategy without making your potential customers feel bad about themselves and your business.
The key is walking the thin line between a neutral sentiment and all out, fear-based messaging.
Here’s how you can grab more attention without it blowing up in your face.
Standing out is the key to generating a higher click-through rate.
We all know this.
It’s especially important when you have no brand awareness.
When your brand isn’t strong, and the average user can’t recall it from a search or an ad, your CTR simply won’t be sky high.
True brand awareness can drive sales for years to come.
But strong brand awareness is a pipedream for most companies.
You need ways to stand out amongst the hundreds or thousands of businesses in your space.
Unless you’re the first company to market, you’re going to be facing some serious competition.
When it comes to ads, it’s even worse:
You’re dealing with the powerful force of banner blindness:
People are so sick of ads that they tune them out as white noise.
The use of ad-blocking technology has increased in rapid numbers in the past few years.
More and more mobile and desktop users are installing ad-blocking tools on their devices to get rid of annoying ads.
On top of serious trust issues, consumers cite interruption and slow load times as the main reasons that they use ad-blocking tools:
Essentially, the odds are all against you.
It’s like playing a carnival game. Your chances of winning are extremely low.
Standard, boring ads that people see all day aren’t going to get the job done.
But there is good news here:
You have an opportunity to capitalize on fear, which most marketers aren’t using in their ads.
According to a recent WordStream study, the vast majority of ads are either neutral or positive in their sentiments.
Only 2% of ads they studied were negative in messaging or imagery.
That means that almost nobody on various ad networks sees negative, fear-based advertising!
To add to this, AdEspresso studied 37,259 Facebook Ads back in 2015. They concluded that the majority of ads were positive in sentiment:
The majority of ads that users see on Facebook and the Google Display/Search Network are positive or neutral.
People just aren’t seeing fear-based ads right now. And that’s a beautiful thing for marketers looking to break through the effects of banner blindness.
Take a look at this negative, fear-invoking ad from the Google Display Network:
The company that switched from a positive to a negative sentiment with this ad drove a 47% increase in their click-through rate.
WordStream decided to put this to the test with their own experiment.
They had been running this negatively-focused, fear-style ad for months:
It invoked the fear that the typical user was wasting their budget, losing money, and sinking their sales.
They effectively tapped into one of the biggest fears of using a platform like AdWords:
After all, AdWords isn’t a guaranteed success. Making the wrong moves is a recipe for blowing your budget.
They decided to test that fear-based ad against this positive one:
This ad was much more positive.
They provided hope with “instant savings” and getting “the most out of your ads.”
Can you guess the outcome?
The negative, fear-based ad had a conversion rate that was 18.8% higher than the positive one.
And that’s not all. The negative ad had a click-through rate that was nearly 70% higher than the positive ad.
That’s a massive difference for subtle changes in messaging.
Fear in marketing works, especially when it comes to increasing the CTR of your ads.
Why? Because, as the studies above show, people typically don’t see fear in ads.
Only a few percentage of ads are fear-based, leaving you a big opportunity to stand out and draw in clicks.
Try using a fear-based approach that isn’t too strong at first.
Test the waters to see what works.
For example, check out this awesome AdEspresso ad on Facebook:
While it’s not overtly negative, the use of “sucks” and “scam” in the messaging draws out negative feelings.
The image does too by depicting a violent sport.
Overall, the ad invokes a sense of fear, especially for those who have purchased Facebook likes.
Next time you create an ad on Facebook or Google AdWords, try using a fear-based approach to drive higher click-through rates and more conversions.
One of the biggest mistakes I see in fear-based marketing campaigns is going too far.
Some people try to stand out too much, and they aren’t subtle enough.
Making a potential customer or user feel bad about themselves should never be your goal.
There is such a thing as taking it too far, and when that happens, it can blow up in your face.
One of the best ways to walk a safe line while still using fear in marketing is to take advantage of loss aversion.
Loss aversion is simple:
People prefer to avoid losing something rather than gaining something of equal value.
They’d choose not to lose five bucks than to gain five bucks.
Why? Because they didn’t have the five dollars in the first place. Simply failing to gain it doesn’t hurt that badly.
But in the first scenario, they already have the five bucks. If they lose it, that comes right out of their pockets.
Loss aversion is a powerful theory that you can put into practice in marketing.
This image perfectly sums up the weight of loss aversion:
The strain of losing money is stronger than the benefit of gaining the same amount.
Applying this to a marketing context, I’ll give you a prime example of loss aversion.
Do you remember that WordStream ad we discussed earlier? It was the one where they used fear to drive an 18.8% higher conversion rate and a 70% higher click-through rate.
It said, “Stop Wasting Money In Adwords – Use Our Simple & Free Tool.”
The emphasis is on the “stop wasting money” portion.
And the main definition of loss aversion focuses on the fear of losing money rather than gaining equal amounts of it that you didn’t have before.
Remember: people would rather not lose five bucks than gain five bucks.
People would rather not lose their money on AdWords than gain equal amounts of it back.
Try pulling at the heartstrings of your users by tapping into loss aversion.
Tailor your ad copy to focus on potential losses that will happen if they don’t take action.
For example, that ad above pushes users to use their tool to avoid those losses.
And WordStream is still running this strategy today. I conducted a simple search and found this ad showing up first:
It’s still working for them because it taps into loss aversion better than any ad I’ve ever seen.
Even their competitors are catching wind.
Here is the second ad in my search:
Both ads focus on loss-aversion tactics to get users fearful and hooked into clicking.
These ads make users think that they are going to lose their entire budget if they don’t.
Next time you run ads, try using a loss-aversion approach to drive sales.
If you have multiple messaging ideas in mind, try A/B testing them to see what strikes harder.
I love A/B testing loss aversion on Facebook and AdWords.
Both are extremely easy to set up. Next time you run a new ad campaign on Facebook’s Ad Manager, head to the setup process and choose between marketing objectives:
When selecting an objective, if they are eligible for split testing, Facebook will display this dialogue box before you continue:
Click the “Create Split Test” box, and you can test your creative pieces to see how different fear and loss aversion strategies work with your audience.
Create multiple ads and evaluate the performance after they’ve run for a few weeks.
You can do the same thing on AdWords by simply creating multiple ads in a single ad group.
Next, head to the settings page and make sure that you enable ad rotation:
This will allow ads to show evenly over a period of time.
After a few weeks, check back to see which ad has the highest CTR and conversion rates to pick your winner.
Split testing on AdWords and Facebook will be a great way to test your audience and the reception that fear-based marketing has.
Remember: each audience is always different, so be sure to test before dumping your budget into it.
Fear-driven headlines are a gold mine.
People are always worried that they’re doing something wrong.
For example, check out this headline from one of my latest blog posts:
The image invokes a sense of fear along with the headline.
The headline is more negative in sentiment because of the words “mistake” and “sabotage.”
Those phrases together work to signal to the reader that their current process might be negatively impacting their business.
It’s subtle, yet effective.
It doesn’t cross lines that you shouldn’t cross.
Even the most subtle of fear headlines can get the job done:
This post suggests that your Facebook Ads aren’t good enough.
You could improve them.
And that subtle fear of missing out on better ads and performance is enough to drive tons of clicks and shares.
This post has nearly 2,000 shares.
You can even try flipping the script on typical marketing tactics.
For example, in pay-per-click advertising, people generally think that it’s better to pay less.
The less you pay, the cheaper the customer acquisition!
But personally, I think you should want to pay more.
And my headline surrounding this topic flips the typical perception or status quo of PPC costs:
It has over 2,000 shares and 15 comments. It’s a subtle type of fear that a user might be looking at their PPC account the wrong way.
It makes them stop and consider potential downsides that could be impacting their performance.
One of my all-time favorite examples of a negative headline that works is from the Unbounce blog:
Why your unique value proposition is killing your landing page conversions and how to fix it.
The recurrent use of “your” puts the emphasis directly on the reader and draws them in.
It personalizes the approach of fear, marketing it directly to the user.
In your next blog post, try using a fear-based headline to capture users and grab attention fast.
Here are a few of my favorite templates that I’ve used to grab attention without it blowing up in my face:
Try tailoring these templates for your next topic and see how well the post performs!
Or use a headline optimizer/split-testing tool like Thrive’s Headline Optimizer to see how different ones perform.
You can even use these headlines for your next Facebook Ad campaign.
One of the biggest problems I see in fear-based marketing is simply taking it too far.
Fear-based marketing shouldn’t scare your users beyond recovery.
It shouldn’t put your own brand in a negative light either.
Too much fear in your marketing messaging will only paint your business as a grim place that users don’t want to visit.
Sprinkling fear subtly is the best way to skate the thin line between too much and too little fear.
Writing fear-driven headlines is great.
They help you do exactly that.
But sometimes, people even take those headlines to the extreme.
They’re often unrealistic or simply too fear dense to be believable.
One of the best ways to use fear is to provide hope. Give the reader a light at the end of the tunnel that tells them everything will be okay.
Fear that simply invokes the feeling of impending doom won’t get you conversions.
Take a look at one of my recent blog posts talking about Facebook custom audiences:
It paints a fearful picture that the user isn’t customizing their audience enough.
But it also provides hope in the form of fixing that problem.
It subtly invokes a feeling of fear, but it ends on a positive note.
It doesn’t make the user feel like they’re left behind in the dust or hopeless, which is key.
You want people to think of your brand as helpful. They should see your company as one that solves problems and addresses pain points.
You don’t want them to perceive you as one that simply points out problems.
Do you remember that Unbounce blog post we talked about earlier?
It followed a similar format to mine above.
One thing I loved about this blog post was that it followed the idea of ending with something exciting, and it included a positive takeaway:
Softening the blow of a harsh reality is critical when using fear-based marketing tactics.
You can’t hammer home fear all day long and then leave your customers in the lurch.
Be sure to end on a positive note with your next blog post or marketing campaign or webinar.
Wherever you implement fear-based marketing strategies, always include an upside that users can look forward to.
Fear-based marketing strategies are tough.
You either perfectly master them, or they blow up in your face and cause your best customers to question your brand.
But when you do it right, fear-based marketing has the power to massively increase your CTR and sales.
If you want to take advantage of fear in marketing, you have to walk the middle ground.
You can’t get overly aggressive, but you can’t be too neutral either.
Start by using loss aversion to subtly create fear.
Loss aversion will help you instill fear in your customers without crossing any line or being offensive.
Next, try using simple fear-based images or headlines to increase your ad CTR.
Studies show that most ads are positive in nature. Do you want to stand out? Throw a little fear into the hearts of users.
Try incorporating fear tactics into your blog headlines, too. These are great for standing out in the SERPs and getting users to click.
Lastly, don’t get carried away. Don’t hammer home fear without ending on a positive or hopeful note.
Fear is great in marketing. But always make sure that you aren’t crossing the line.
Which fear-based marketing tactics have performed well for you?
On – 28 Dec, 2017 By Neil Patel
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