Entries by Sandra Clayton

25+ Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Approach Business

For a while I thought that being successful in business came from sheer luck or chance. It seemed like some businesses I launched were destined for success and others not so much.
Now I know there’s more to it than that. There’s a formula I’ve seen emerge from the businesses that work, and the successful ones always have the right mix of the right things at the right time.
The trick is figuring out what that right mix of the right things really means.
First, let me say, there’s no such thing as failure. I know you’ve heard it over and over again and it’s true. Failures are speed bumps and your goal should always be to get over them as quickly as you can to get to the other side.
Which leads me to my 25+ tips for being a successful entrepreneur. Follow these tips to get over your speed bumps so you can enjoy the freedom, fortune and amazing ride of being your own boss.

1) First, trust that you can be your own boss

Being an entrepreneur is like sailing out into a big blue sea without a compass. It’s much different than working in a corporate environment where the infrastructure, systems and team are in place to assist in getting things done. The boss who held you accountable in your previous job is now you, and those team status meetings may feel lonely for a while. Be okay with that. It’s going to take some moxie to navigate the waters until you can steer yourself in the right direction, and you can do it. Over time you’ll create systems and processes for your business. The real payoff is that you’re about to create your own compass for your business and your life. And that’s the thrill of being an entrepreneur, isn’t it?

2) Your most important asset is Staying Power

My father is my #1 business coach and mentor (thanks dad! not sure if you know this but it’s true). I always reach out to him when I’m stuck or can’t see my way to the other side. So when he told me that the secret to being an entrepreneur is to have “enough staying power until you figure it all out”, I listened. He’s been successful in business for 40 years and has navigated some pretty murky waters. It wasn’t always pretty, but he hung in there. I can’t even count the number of times he changed his business model until it all started clicking. You have to hang in there too. Things may not come together at once or even the way you planned.
Your first few years are about putting your ideas to the test. You’re going to refine your business model, positioning, products, brand, target markets, and sales processes many times before you hit the sweet

4 Ways to Create Email Subject Lines That Get Noticed And Clicked

Ever been to a speed-networking event where you had 30 seconds to make your pitch? How’d you do?
It’s hard, I know. Taking an involved topic and turning it into a tiny bite-sized chunk is a challenge. And it’s one that marketers face every day with email subject lines.
Email subject lines are like pitches on steroids. Only you don’t have 30 seconds and you can’t use facial expressions and hand gestures to get your point across. Instead, you’ve got 10 words on a screen – and more like 3 seconds – to get the click.
Subject lines have a lot of power to make or break your entire campaign. If you can’t convince people to click, they won’t read your email. So how can we understand what constitutes a good subject line to get better conversions?
Here are four common email subject line mistakes that are hindering your email open rates and simple ways to turn them around and get more people to read your email.

Mistake 1: Asking a Yes or No Question

Everyone scans their inbox the same. We all want to know who is emailing us, what they want and how much time it will require.
The problem here isn’t really with the question. Asking questions can be a good thing, if you can get people thinking about something in a way they hadn’t before.
But a question with a simple Yes or No answer is dangerous. Chances are pretty good that your email is headed for the trash. Why? Because Yes or No emails don’t add any value. Readers already have the answer: either yes or no. Why should they click to read more?
Let’s take this example subject line: “Missing Too Many Project Deadlines?”
First off, my immediate response is “No”. Even if I say “Yes”, there’s no incentive to go for the click. Yes, I’m missing deadlines, and reading this email will make me miss another one. Delete.
The Solve:
Turn the subject line into something that makes readers ask a question instead of answer one. It’s much better to create a question in their minds than to make them answer yours.
For instance, try replacing the subject line above with “Idea to nail every project deadline”.
There’s no question with this subject line. Instead it raises a question: What idea? How can I nail my deadlines? Even using the word “idea” will get readers thinking about the possibilities.
It also identifies that a problem exists, and then hints at a solution. All it takes is one click to find out.
Let’s take a look at some other subject lines that create knowledge gaps:

  • Now that you’re settled in…
  • An Amazing Opportunity!
  • Quick request

What’s this amazing opportunity? Now that I’m settled in, what’s going to happen? Quick request for what?
I want to know, and so will your readers. All you have to do is follow these

A Seriously Simple Tweak That Will Double Your Website Revenue

After months of experimenting and preparation with social media and blogging, you’re finally starting to get some traffic to your website!

Whether you’re a veteran or just starting out in the online business world, increasing sales on your website can be challenging even with increased traffic.
Aside from creating quality content regularly, leveraging social media and using the highest quality images for your blog, often times we need a little something more to give us a boost.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to give potential customers that push. And it’s a simple tweak you can make right on your home page.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you want some advice on how to manage your money so that you can save for the future and still enjoy all the things you want to do today, like go on vacations.
So you decide to look for someone who can give you some guidance. You search Google for “financial planner” and find these two websites:

 

Which one makes you want to find out more about what they do?
I’ll bet it’s the second one. Because the reason to do business with you is the first thing you see, with an image that reinforces the value you’ll experience.
Contrast that to the first one, where the first thing you notice is their logo and then some bullet points about them, followed by a lot more text about them.
Now compare these examples to your own website. When someone arrives on your home page, is it immediately clear what your business is about? Will visitors know right away the value they can expect?
So many entrepreneurs overlook this step when they’re building their websites. And then even though they start getting traffic from organic search, social and email campaigns, that traffic doesn’t translate into more leads or customers.
If you find you’re getting decent traffic but no targeted leads, it’s the message (or value proposition) on your home page that may be at fault. In this article, I’m going to show you how to create a strong value proposition that will convert clients and bring you more sales.
Here’s what I’m going to cover:

  • What is a value proposition?
  • What goes into creating a value proposition?
  • How to create a winning value proposition
  • An example of a strong value proposition
  • A value proposition worksheet

What’s a value proposition?

Using the earlier example, if you’re a financial advisor and someone searches Google for “financial planner” and they land on your site, you want them to stay.
So this is your chance to communicate your value in 30 seconds or less and pull them deeper into your content.
Your value proposition tells people why they should do business with you. It should clearly state what you do, who you do it for and how it helps.
Being very clear on these three things is what’s going to convince people not to hit the back button and search for

6 Marketing Tools for Your Blog or Business

You know you need an email list. I know it. We all know it.
But the thing is, where do you start? How are you going to get those subscribers?
Hopefully when you started your website design, you thought about how to optimize it beyond just a newsletter sign up form. What you really need is a complete opt-in sales process to turn web traffic into leads and paying customers.
The good news is there are some really simple marketing tools you can use to boost your website with an irresistible opt-in that builds your email list quickly and effectively.
This article will cover tools to create a killer opt-in and sales process:

  • Getting ideas for your opt-in
  • Designing your opt-in
  • Creating a landing page
  • Creating opt-in forms
  • Social sharing
  • Automate following up
  • Automate social posts

 
 

1. BuzzSumo: Content ideas for your opt-in

You might know what content your ideal customers need for their business to flourish, but sometimes the key to getting more leads and sales is shaping that same content into something they want.
And that can be tricky if you don’t know what people want to read. It makes sense to do a little research before you spend time creating your freebie.
One way to research popular themes in your niche is to use BuzzSumo. A content research and monitoring tool, BuzzSumo lets you see what content and blog posts are shared the most so you can see what’s trending right now for your specific topic.
BuzzSumo can help you answer these questions:

  • What topics resonate most with my audience?
  • What social networks should I focus on distributing my content?
  • What headlines are working and on which networks?
  • Which influencers are sharing and amplifying content related to my topic?
  • What other content are these influencers sharing?

Once you find popular content related to your opt-in idea, all you have to do is improve upon it with an epic piece of content and then  turn that epic content into a PDF.
Here’s a bit more information on the features and how BuzzSumo can help you create an irresistible lead magnet that grows your list:

  • Research Content: You can research any topic to see what posts get the most shares. All you have to do is input a topic or keyword and BuzzSumo will give you a list of posts ranked by the amount of social shares each receives! This is a great way to look for popular posts and then see how you can improve upon them and make them even more usable (like an epic blog post and then convert it into a lead magnet format!)
  • Research Headlines: Need headline ideas? With BuzzSumo you can see which headlines work the best and on what social networks, so you know how to position your opt-in headline.
  • Social networks: BuzzSumo monitors the most shared content across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest. This is a great way to gauge where to

3 Easy Ways to Use Facebook For Business

You probably have a Facebook business page. The real question now is, how do you actually use it to grow your business? While posting regularly is a great way to stay in touch with your consumer base and build brand awareness and engagement, nowadays Facebook is less about organic reach and more about paid advertising.
If you really want to create a buzz and increase your customer base, you have to start using Facebook ads.
Follow these tips to use Facebook for business and get the best results from your ads.

Targeted Ads

If you’ve created valuable content such as ebooks and webinars for each of your buyer personas, one of the simplest ways to drive traffic to it by creating a Facebook ad that leads people to a form on your landing page.
This type of content is known as “gated content”, which simply means that people can download the information in exchange for their email address. This is where buyer personas are crucial. Getting people to spend a few extra minutes to fill out a quick form should be easy as long as you’ve created something that they perceive to have value. Ebooks are the most popular form of gated content, but you can also offer free trials or access to a webinar to entice people to click.
Once you’ve decided what type of gated content you’d like to promote, it’s time to put your ad together. Facebook’s Lookalike Audience feature allows you to target Facebook users who are similar to your existing customers and personas. This means that you can use your knowledge of your demographics to market the right content to the right people and generate new targeted leads.
If you want to use the Lookalike Audience feature, you first have to upload an email list to create a Custom Audience so that Facebook knows who to mirror. Facebook will take those email addresses and match them up to actual users. You can then use that audience to have Facebook find users similar to those on your list.
Once you’ve done that the next thing to do is to create your ad and choose how tightly you want to target it. Targeting by Similarity will reach a narrow number of users who are very close to your custom audience. You can also choose the Greater Reach option which gives you more reach, but because it casts a wider net to do it, you may not get as much targeting.
Both options are helpful in generating new leads, so don’t discount one over the other before A/B testing to see which one will work best for you.

Dark Posts

Facebook Dark Posts are news feed style ads that don’t get published to your timeline, hence the term “dark posts”.
As a business you sell services or products that appeal to slightly different audiences, and one

6 Website Features That Can Make Or Break Your Marketing

Implementing an effective small business marketing system is like putting a puzzle together. From blogging and SEO to social media and premium offers, the pieces are so intertwined and crucial in their own right that it can be hard to prioritize what to do and in which order. Each piece of the puzzle must link together perfectly, and no piece can be left out.
That’s why you want to avoid implementing random tactics, such as blogging before a conversion funnel is in place or posting on social media without a content strategy.
Having said that, your website should always be a priority. It’s where your traffic lands and a crucial factor in your ability to convert visitors into qualified leads and ultimately, into customers.
Given that your website is the hub of most of your marketing activity, here are six crucial features to make it highly converting and highly engaging.

1) Unique value proposition

The first thing to do if you want a high converting website is make sure visitors know why they should do business with you.
When visitors land on your website, they need to see right away what it is you do and why they should do business with you.
A great example of this is Wix.

There are many website builders in the market today, so how does Wix stand out from the pack? They focus on how easy it is to create a beautiful website.
If you think about it, many people looking to build their own website are entrepreneurs who have a million things on their to-do list. Chances are their background isn’t in marketing or technology. So being able to easily build a website is super important to them.
Do you know what’s super important to your customers? Make sure they see that message right away. Nine times out of 10, when clients come to me asking why their marketing isn’t working, a quick look at their website reveals the answer.
If you’re saying too many things, or you’re saying them in ways that confuse people, it means that you’re unclear about your unique value. And if your value proposition is unclear to you, it’s definitely going to be unclear to your readers.

2) The homepage

Most of your traffic will pass through your home page, so it’s very important it makes a good impression. In some cases, it’s the only chance you have to make a lasting impression on a potential customer. If your homepage looks great, functions well and loads quickly, there’s a good chance visitors will navigate to other pages of your site and continue to engage and move through their journey. Get any one of these things wrong, and visitors will probably leave and visit another competitor entirely.
Make sure visitors can easily find what they’re looking for on your website. If there are any interruptions at all

11 SEO Myths That Will Kill Your Blog Traffic

There’s been a lot of confusion around SEO as Google continues to change the rules in a push to deliver the best possible experience to users.
If you’re confused about all of it or have heard rumors about SEO being dead, these algorithm updates are good and bad news.
The good news is that the lazy, quick win tactics that worked just a few years ago won’t work today.  The bad news is that swarms of myths have circulated about SEO, with Google’s Matt Cutts discussing the biggest SEO myths here.
If you’re confused by all these rumors, this post will clear up some of the confusion by highlighting 11 common SEO myths I encounter, and what you can do to get more traffic to your site.

SEO Myth #1: SEO is a scam

If you’ve been approached by less-than-ethical marketing agencies who promise immediate rankings and deliver nothing, you may think SEO is a scam. In fact, it was the services they promised that were the scam, not SEO.
SEO is real. It takes time, and it works.
There’s nothing inherently dishonest about SEO unless black hat tactics are applied such as keyword stuffing, spinning content, hidden links, duplicate websites, social spamming, and so on.

SEO Myth #2: Go for a quick win

Just because you have a friend whose site ranks #1 with little effort, don’t expect quick and easy rankings. If your friend is in a narrow niche market, has little competition or has easily correctable technical issues, he may get those wins. For everyone else, real effort and commitment are required to get an increase in traffic. A perk is that you can also expect additional rewards from your efforts beyond a traffic spike.

SEO Myth #3: My blog doesn’t need it

You may think your blog won’t benefit from SEO or that it only makes sense for certain types of companies. If you look beyond raising brand awareness and increasing traffic alone, every business can stand to benefit from SEO.
Think of your brand as a publisher and source of high-quality information. When you produce helpful, informative content like blog posts, how-to articles, and research, you’ll get in front of searchers and earn their trust. Over time, you’ll see more leads and sales from your efforts.
Applying SEO strategies will force you to update your site so that it loads fast, is easy and intuitive, and provides an amazing user experience. When readers have a rewarding experience on your website, they’re more likely to check back in and share their experience with friends and colleagues, so you can expect even more traffic and sales over time.

SEO Myth #4: Do it once and be done

SEO is best thought of as a long-term play. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing and your competitors will adjust their SEO strategies accordingly. Not only that, consumer buying habits

How To Drive Traffic To Your Content and Your Business

Now that you’ve developed a super valuable ebook or checklist, you can sit back and wait for people to find it, right?
Hah! If only it was that easy.
Now it’s time to let as many people as you can know about it so that they can find it.
This is where having a content promotion strategy comes into play. Here are a few steps you can follow to drive traffic and get the best possible results for your lead magnet.

1. Create a landing page

The first way to drive traffic to your lead magnet is to create a landing page for it. This should be a simple page on your website with a description of your content and a form so people can provide their email in exchange for the download.
The landing page should let people know exactly what they can expect to receive once they click. Ideally, you’ll remove navigation and other links from the landing page so that readers have only one thing to focus on: the “submit” button.
Here’s a sample landing page to use as a guide:

Once you have the landing page, you’ll need to create a call to action button or CTA. This button is different from the download button on your landing page. You’ll use this CTA throughout the rest of your website to drive traffic to the landing page.
Make sure the design of the call to action is unique so that it stands out from other elements on the page and captures people’s attention immediately. Do some A/B testing to find out which combination of colors, fonts, placement and size are most effective in getting people to click.
The best way to grab the reader’s attention is to use actionable verbs such as “Download Guide Now” or “Get the Report”. People need to know quickly what you want them to do, and if you use passive text such as “Report” or “Guide”, they may not get it right away. Be as clear and direct as possible with your call to action.
Here’s an example of a CTA:

Notice how both the CTA and the landing page include an image of the book so that when people click through, there’s a clear connection. Visitors know immediately that they’re in the right place. Taking that a step further, it’s important to use consistent messaging, titles and naming conventions as well.  For instance, if you call it a “guide” in your CTA, don’t use the word “ebook” on the landing page. This is a small but important detail that can make a huge difference.

2. Place the CTA on high performing pages

One of the easiest ways to promote content is on your website.
If you have Google Analytics installed (which you should), you can easily see which pages are most popular and get the most visitors. Chances are good that your home

How to Create Irresistible Call to Action Buttons That People Actually Click

When was the last time you spent more than 5 minutes reading a subject line? How about a navigation link? What about a form title?
In the world of marketing, short copy rules. People love it. It’s inviting and unintimidating. People read a short title and think, “Good, I won’t have to spend a lot of time on this.”
But that same short copy can be really hard to write. You have to grab people’s attention. You have to encourage them to take action. When you have less copy to play with, every word counts that much more.
Copy that can be easily overlooked is on those little buttons we use everywhere. It’s easy to treat them as an afterthought. But after spending months brainstorming your campaign, you shouldn’t settle for a simple “read more” or “submit” button, because that’s not going to have the big impact you need.
Those little call to action buttons and links actually have a big job to do. They have to convince people to click through and take the next step.
Follow along with the checklist below so you don’t miss any crucial components.

Elements of a Call to Action That Works

1) Use actionable language

One of the reasons why people may not click your CTA is that it doesn’t really push people to act. If you use static messages like “free trial” or “demo”, you’re not telling them what to do. It’s all too easy for people to glaze over buttons like these.
Effective copy boils down to action-oriented, second-person verbs (talking to “you”). Try some of these verbs for your next CTA:

  • “Get more info”
  • “Discover”
  • “See full article”
  • “Tell me more”
  • “Get my (book, guide, template)”
  • “See what happens next”
  • “Count me in”

Buttons like these empower and excite readers to click on your button. Keeping your CTA copy short and sweet also helps make it stand out from the rest of your copy and design elements.

2) Avoid friction verbs

“Read more” is a pretty common call to action. We see it everywhere. Compared to buttons like “free trial”, you’d think it has a leg up. For starters, it’s a verb. Theoretically it should push people to act.
Not all CTAs work the same today.
Verbs like “read more” are friction verbs that cause uneasiness and apprehension with some people. They can easily turn them off by seemingly inconveniencing people who don’t have a lot of time to spare.
Friction verbs imply work that needs to be done, something lost, or time that needs to be given up in exchange for the click. The more you imply work with CTAs, the less likely you are to get a click. For people who are busy and don’t have a lot of time on their hands, friction verbs can actually discourage them from taking action.
Ultimately, you want your conversion path to be as

6 Ways to Get More Clients & Referrals Through Your Content

Let’s face it, we’re human. We’re emotional. Even when we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re rational and logical.
Think about the last time you shopped for a pair of boots, which ones did you buy? I bet it was the pair that put a big smile on your face and slipped on your feet like butter.
The rational you knew may have needed the boots, but the emotional you bought the pair that made you happy.
Ever wonder what your sales would look like if you put a big smile on people’s faces? Or struck a chord so deep they just had to find out more?
Getting business and referrals really comes down to how well you can appeal to people on some emotional level. Here are some of the best ways to use content to get more clients.

1) Move people from point A to point Z

People start out at point A, with some problem they need to solve. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to leave them hanging there with nowhere to go. Remember, this is their first step. They don’t care too much about the services you provide just yet. They just want to get to point Z.
What you want to do is connect the dots for them and help them get where they want to go (without giving away the farm). The closer you get people there, the more likely they are to get excited about your brand and what you do. They’ll start associating you with rewarding experiences, and from there it’s an logical next step to buy.
What can you do?
The key here is to get clear on who your customer is and what motivates them to buy. You want to look at everything, not only demographics but any obstacles that may prevent them from working with you. Then create content that teaches people how to move as close as possible to point Z before you ask for their money. For more info on identifying your ideal customers, check out this post.

2) Rebrand or repackage

When I first started my temporary tattoo company, business was great and we had decent sales.
After the first couple of years, we realized that the key to selling more tattoos was to keep feeding the machine and  churn out new designs.
The problem was that after 300 or so designs, we were running out of ideas. And most of our new designs weren’t bringing in more money because they weren’t selling. We were pretty much shooting in the dark with new designs and not knowing what people wanted.
Then it dawned on us.
People said they wanted new designs and they really thought they wanted new designs. But what they really wanted was their favorite styles reinvented.
Once we figured that out, all we had to do was take our bestsellers, change