Business Myth: You Need a Client Avatar

client avatar

client avatar

Welcome to Business Myths. Here’s the deal: We often hear business “truths” and accept them as true without stopping to question them. We’re chatting with solopreneurs and freelancers who have learned the hard way that these commonly accepted facts may not, in fact, always be true. In this case, Rachel Allen shares her (expert) take on why your client avatar is useless, and what you need to know to really resonate with your readers, instead.

Every industry has its must-have tools. And while those change pretty frequently in the fast-paced, online, small business world — “Webinars are the future! No, Periscope! No, Facebook Live!” — one that’s held steady since the beginning is the client avatar.

You know how it works: You sit down, sketch a stick figure, and write out whether they’re a cat person or a dog person, what they like to do on the weekends, and of course, what their favorite breakfast cereal is.

Just one problem…

When it comes down to it, you still have no idea what to say or how to sell to this person. Funny enough, knowing someone’s cereal preferences doesn’t help you communicate with them in a way that really resonates. Because, just like you, your business, and your brand, your clients are complicated. Multi-layered. And very, very human.

The truth is, most client avatars are absolutely useless.

They’re intended to give you a clear idea of who you’re working for, but they almost always give you a sanitized, surface-level, pod-person version of your audience. And you’re not working with pod people, you’re working with people people, those contradictory, irrational, gloriously-difficult-to-pin-down beings.

It was never about the breakfast cereal.

Client avatar exercises ask you questions about the surface level things in a person’s life as a way of getting at the deeper things about them. But somewhere along the way, the search for that soul-level stuff became conflated with the surface-level stuff — and we started thinking that knowing whether someone owns a cat or a dog can somehow give you insight into what they want, when very often people don’t even really consciously know it themselves.

Why client avatars don’t work

When you do a classic client avatar exercise, you’re primarily focusing on demographics — those quantifiable, external things about a person. But when people fall in love with branding, become a fan of your business, or make a decision to buy, they’re doing that from a place of identity, not logic, and certainly not demographic indicators.

…and that’s why you need psychographics

If you really want to get someone’s attention, develop a relationship with them, and make them want to buy from you, you need to approach them in a way that confirms their perception of their identity. (Which is such a powerful force that people will actually act against their self-interests rather than do something that goes against their identity. Homo economicus, you’re out.)

And to tap into a person’s identity, you need to get a sense of their psychographics — their beliefs, feelings, and assumptions, and why they have them.

Sounds great! So how do I figure all that stuff out?

It’s not as easy as going through a checklist, and there’s no foolproof, six-step template for it (see: “not pod people”).

But that doesn’t mean that you have to fly blind, trying out thing after thing until you finally hit on that magic combination of words and ideas that light your people up…because they’ll tell you, if you know how to listen.

Start with some empirical research

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in trying to figure your target market out is doing it in a vacuum — this guarantees that whatever you come up with is going to be biased towards your own perceptions. Instead of working from the inside out, starting with your own guesses about your clients and learning the hard way whether they’re right or not, start with some objectively verifiable data.

Find out where your people hang out, both online and offline, go there, and <em<listen

And by this, I mean where they actually spend their time. Not relatively general Facebook groups, not generic Twitter chats. Find places that are going to be incredibly specific to them because of their industry, their problems, or where their clients hang out — because chances are, you’ll find them there too, pitching.

Once you’re there, don’t fish for business, or post things like “Hey XYZ-type people, I’m doing some research on my client avatar, what are your problems?” Just listen to what’s being said both explicitly and implicitly, and track any topics you see coming up again and again. This is not a one afternoon thing — you want to do this for at least two weeks to gather enough data.

Once you have an idea of the lay of the land, analyze your repeat topics through three questions:

1. What is this really about?

Try to get below the surface and figure out what this topic is really about for your people. For instance, if you’re constantly seeing people post about wanting a VA, is it because they feel overwhelmed, or because all their business friends are getting one, or because they think they need a VA, when really they need an accountant? What’s the bottom line of both the reality and the belief behind this issue?

Knowing this will help you figure out the language you need to use to share your message and services with them, and makes a great starting point for an about page.

2. Where does it come from?

What beliefs, assumptions, and needs underlie these issues? Are they actually true? If so, where do those needs overlap with your message and your services?

This gives you insight into their beliefs, the chance to debunk false assumptions (and show off your expertise), and guidance on how to tap into your clients’ aspirations.

3. What are the stakes?

What happens to your people if they solve this issue? What happens if they don’t? What do their life and business look like next month if this issue persists? What about next year? And how do you fit into that equation?

Knowing this not only helps you focus on the things your people really need help with, it also gives you a starting point for talking about these issues in sales copy.

It all comes down to this

Genuinely effective business communication is a balancing act between your message and how your audience needs to hear it. To figure that out, you need to know your people inside and out.

It takes time. It’s not a simple process I can upsell you in a 45-minute webinar. But it’s worth it. Because ultimately, you don’t need a client avatar. You need a human-to-human relationship — and there’s just no way to get that from a stick-figure sketch.

All Things Automation (ConvertKit Webinar at 3pm EST Today!)

One Woman Shops:

There are a lot of things you could be doing when it comes to your email marketing.

You could be setting up multiple lists for each and every product or service you offer.

You could be manually moving your customers from one list to another after they buy.

You could be spending hours each week combining lists, setting up segments, and testing to make sure you’re getting the right messages to the right people at the right time.

But then, that would leave less time for wine, popcorn, and Gilmore Girls…and that’s just not cool. (Feel free to fill in your own guilty pleasures there.)

We want you to have all the time in the world for your guilty pleasures.

That’s why we’re especially excited for our workshop happening today, 11/17 at 3pm EST with Darrell from ConvertKit, where we’re going to be jamming on connecting with your audience — and saving time and money while doing so. (Heck yes!)

Here’s what he’ll be sharing in today’s (free!) webinar:

  • How to use simple automation tools and strategies that’ll save you multiple hours each week
  • One simple trick to segment, teach and pitch your customers automatically (and without coming across like a weird used car salesman)
  • Exclusive behind-the-scenes access to learn how to automate your sales funnels like Pat Flynn (in fact, Darrell is going to show you Pat’s exact funnel)

Can’t make it live? No worries — there will be a replay!

Click here to register!

Oh — and if you have any questions you want to make sure we cover ahead of time, feel free to email us. 🙂

The Second Annual #SolopreneurSanity Instagram Challenge is Here!

Sanity.

What do you think, when you think of that word?

“I wish.”

“If only.”

“Yeah, right.”

As a solopreneur, stress is just a natural part of our day-to-day. That’s what makes this topic — solopreneur sanity — so very important. Because we all need a little help managing that stress and getting closer to more and more days filled with moments of solopreneur sanity.

Especially when the coming weeks often bring the highest stress in both your work and personal lives (which, we know, are pretty much one and the same).

So, starting on Tuesday, November 1st, we’re going to be challenging you to seven days of #SolopreneurSanity prompts on Instagram: from sharing wise words to showing us how you move your body, and giving your brain a break to being picky about the food on your plate. As you take an inward look and experiment with new things, snap a pic and share with us during the challenge!

Here’s what’s included over the next seven days:

One Woman Shop's Solopreneur Sanity Instagram Challenge

Tuesday, November 1stWords of wisdom: Share your favorite sanity-focused quote, advice, or book — something that changed your perspective or has stuck with you over time.
Wednesday, November 2ndGet shit done: Show us your favorite procrastination-busting, get-shit-done strategy.
Thursday, November 3rdBrain breaks: Choose the best way for you to unplug and enjoy some time digitally detoxing.
Friday, November 4thYour body is a wonderland: Focus on your body by exercising, eating something that makes you feel great, or committing to adding some extra zzz’s to your schedule.
Saturday, November 5thLet it go: Tell us one thing you’re going to stop doing or let go of in order to introduce more sanity into your days.
Sunday, November 6thPay it forward: Give in some way — your time, money, services, or gratitude.
Monday, November 7thHappy endings (+ beginnings): Set your priorities and schedule for tomorrow.

Here’s how to participate:

1. Upload a photo to your Instagram account that corresponds to the day’s theme. So, on Tuesday, November 1st, post a photo of your favorite self-care quote, on Thursday, November 3rd, snap a pic of what you did during your time disconnected (oh, the irony — we know), on Monday, November 7th, share a photo of how you’re paying it forward, and so on! Miss a day? Jump right back in when you can!

2. Include the hashtag #SolopreneurSanity when you upload your photo for the day. It’s the only way we’ll be able to follow along — and we’ll be re-gramming a few each day from the @OneWomanShop account! (Bonus points for fun captions!)

3. Remember, Instagram is a social network. Be sure to explore the #SolopreneurSanity hashtag and interact with others participating in the challenge. (You might even grow your following in the process!)

Let’s have fun interacting on Instagram while working to improve our #SolopreneurSanity (something we most likely all need).

As we enter the last weeks of the year (eeeks!), we want to band together to stress less and appreciate our #SolopreneurSanity more. Who’s with us?

How to Build a Content Plan to Support Your Product and Sales Funnels

reasons content sucks

reasons content sucks

If you’re anything like me, the first time you heard the term “sales funnels,” you envisioned a big Willy Wonka-esque contraption that takes random scrollers off the internet, works some magic as they move through the various whizzing parts of the machine, and churns out raving fans.

Although that idea is slightly valid because funnels are meant to work like a well-oiled machine, effective funnels are anything but random.

When you use sales funnels in your business, you’re sending your ideal audience on a journey through a series of carefully-curated pieces of content that eventually leads them to buy your product or service.

And since sales funnels are entirely dependent on content, you better believe you need to build a content plan with a solid framework if you want to see those dollars roll in.

Begin at the end and look at your goals

Like many things in life and business, starting at the end is the best way to plot out all the action steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

Here are a few questions to ask when beginning at the end as you build a content plan:

  • Am I selling a product or a service?
  • What is the price point of what I’m selling?
  • Is this something that will always be available for sale or will it be for a limited time only?

The answers to these questions will help you determine:

1. How many funnels you should create

If you answered the first question by listing multiple products or services that are not inextricably intertwined, you’ll need to create multiple funnels that lead your readers down the path to the offer that will be the best fit for them.

If you find that you have multiple funnels you need to create, start by focusing on one to test out what works and what you’ll need to change before creating all the content for your next funnel.

2. How much content you need

The higher the price point of your offer, the more content and lead time you’ll need in your funnel to communicate the value your offer holds in solving your audience’s problem or eliminating their frustrations. Being able to identify which stage of the buying cycle they’re at is helpful as you build a content plan — both in determining the volume of content as well as the type of content you need.

3. How much lead time you should allow for creating, scheduling, and publishing content

Having products or services that are only available for a limited time or have a specific number of spots available is a popular way to create scarcity around what you’re selling. However, the doesn’t mean every offer should be structured this way.

If you choose to create a funnel that supports a product or service that’s always for sale, you’ll be creating an always existing or “evergreen” funnel, which naturally triggers an automated system whenever your reader enters the funnel.

While a limited-time offer can also have automated elements, such as pre-scheduled emails and social media posts, it takes careful calendar plotting to make sure you’re giving your potential buyers enough time to learn about your offer, why they need it, and to make a decision before the doors close. Again, this factor will also depend on your price point.

Decide how you’re going to get people into your funnel

The initial goal for the first piece(s) of content your readers encounter in your funnel is to capture their email address. (Already have a list of subscribers you’re working with? You’re off to a great start!)

The best way to achieve this goal is by creating an opt-in offer or a lead magnet such as:

  • An additional piece of valuable content that corresponds to a blog post such as an ebook, PDF, or email series (aka a content upgrade) that people can only get by signing up for your list
  • Creating a mini-course that ties into the topic of your offer
  • A quiz with the results delivered via email
  • A webinar, online workshop, or Q&A session where people have to sign up to attend

You might find that you already have content you’ve created and you can repurpose for your funnel, or that you need to create something new that’s highly specific to the thing you’re offering.

If you’re stuck on the best opt-in to create, ask your people! They’ll be the best reference on what would be most valuable to them and which method they would prefer receiving your material.

Develop your framework

Before you start creating your content, it also helps to develop the framework surrounding how you’ll deliver your content or how your ideal customer or client will experience it.

Some of my favorite tools that make for fun and functioning funnels (say that five times fast) are:

  • WordPress or Squarespace – Your website and blog are arguably the best places to start with publishing the content that will get people into your funnel and to sign-up for your list
  • ConvertKit – ConvertKit’s “Sequences” feature is the ultimate tool to keep people moving through your funnel and on to the sale
  • Typeform – A clean and pretty interface that’s perfect for creating an opt-in quiz or for getting feedback from your audience on what content they would like from you
  • Teachable – If you’re creating a mini-course as your opt-in, Teachable offers the ability to create a free course on their platform, which is sleek and very user-friendly

Get creating

Alright, now that you know how to build a content plan to support your sales funnels, it’s time to start creating your content!

You’ve got your end goal in mind. You know your funnel’s “why.” You now know the time frame of your funnel and how in-depth it needs to go to adequately communicate your value to your ideal customer. Plus, you have some solid ideas for how to get the funnel party started, and all the tools ready to make it happen.

I’d say you’re ready to not only build a content plan, but to put your plan into motion and start selling. What do you say?

Get Your First (or Next!) 1,000 Email Subscribers (Free Webinar with ConvertKit TODAY!)

About a year ago now, we first learned about a new email marketing platform: ConvertKit.

In an effort to be an unbiased resource hub, we had a member write a review of the new software on our blog, but in an equal effort to curb shiny object syndrome, we didn’t yet explore it ourselves — because hey, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it — right?

Right…to a certain extent. You see, as the months wore on, we saw even more and more reason to check out this not-just-shiny but incredibly logical solution to email marketing. One that would…

  • be subscriber-based instead of list-based so we weren’t throwing money out the window
  • allow us to segment intuitively based on multiple criteria
  • make content upgrades a cinch as we produced more and more bonus resources

Fast forward to today, and we’re sold. Not only do we love the simplicity of ConvertKit; we were able to fully leverage it during our 5-day Solopreneur Success Bundle launch to discover just how robust it can be.

Now, we want to share our love of the tool with you in a free webinar that’ll teach you how to get your first (or next!) 1,000 subscribers, whether you use ConvertKit or not.

Email marketing isn’t just a trend; it’s a strategy. Yet there are so many pieces that make up “successful” email marketing, it’s easy to end up overwhelmed.

That’s why we’re teaming up with ConvertKit’s own Darrell Vesterfelt, who works day-in and day-out helping bloggers and entrepreneurs who are serious about making money online.

For one hour this afternoon, he’s going to break advanced email marketing strategies down into actionable steps, just for the OWS community.

It’s all happening today, October 25th at 3pm EST/12pm PST. Click here to register!

Here’s what Darrell is going to be teaching you in the webinar:

  • How to get your first 100 subscribers
  • One tactic that could get you your next 1,000 email subscribers in no time
  • How to automate your funnels to put your sales on autopilot

You’ll also see how easy all of this is with ConvertKit, and how fast you can get started. Oh — and if you’re on live, you’ll also get access to some pretty spectacular bonuses (worth well over $200). Not too shabby!

Whether you are a ConvertKit user or not, this webinar’s going to give you actionable advice + kickass bonuses for list-building that you can implement right away.

Can’t make it live? Be sure to register, anyway. Darrell will be making a replay available for a limited time after the live party!

4 Reasons Your Content Sucks –– And How to Make it Better

reasons content sucks

reasons content sucks

Content marketing isn’t easy. Even spending a lot of time and effort on something that you think will be compelling can fizzle out like a dud. Sometimes it’s best just to face the facts and say this one thing out loud — “my content sucks.”

It’s a hard thing to say, and it’s definitely a downer when you first admit it. However, it’s not a putdown or a sign that everything you’re doing is wrong.

Instead, admitting this little fact is the opportunity to take a step back and examine why your content is failing to resonate with an audience. This introspection will improve your future content greatly. At the very least, the content you’re producing will no longer suck.

Here are some reasons why your content isn’t hitting the mark and how to make the improvements needed to grow:

You’re going at content marketing without a game plan

Knowing the audience helps guide your content strategies, but you still need a good plan in order to consistently deliver relevant content. This plan needs to include everything from how to approach each social media service to planning out an editorial calendar.

Just winging your content strategy is no way to build an audience. One great blog post followed by a bunch of filler posts won’t bring readers back to your site. The perfect tweet doesn’t mean much if it’s followed by dull, promotional messages.

This planning strategy is the blueprint to your future success. On paper, it might not look like much, but it leads to great things if it’s well-conceived and then reliably followed.

You can find lots of great resources online about how to come up with a comprehensive content strategy. (One Woman Shop even offers a course on it…) While they offer plenty of excellent information, it’s important to take what’s applicable to you and build off it. A unique strategy that uses some well-established best practices is the way to go.

You’re missing the right visuals

How many great writers go completely unnoticed on the internet? Your guess is as good as mine, but odds are the number is remarkably high. (The very nature of the question makes it impossible to measure, really.)

Good writing is an incredible asset that will never go out of style. However, the web is a visual medium. Sharp writing is enhanced by compelling visuals.

If you’re writing articles or blog posts that aren’t taking off as expected, then consider rethinking your approach to visuals. Studies show information seen visually is remembered much better than hearing or reading the same info. Knowing that, you need to put as much importance into choosing the right visuals as you would into writing a sentence.

If you haven’t used images in your written content, start adding them to the posts. One study found blog posts with relevant images almost double the traffic of posts with no images.

If you’re already using images, then seek out better ones. Boring stock photos stick out like a sore thumb. Go for something more memorable — and perhaps even less polished — to catch the eye of your audience.

You’re not clear on who your audience is

All the content you produce needs to be done with the audience in mind. If you don’t have a great idea of what your audience is like, then your content won’t go anywhere. Abandon your preconceived notions of who you think your audience is. With your mind clear, you can get a good idea of who you’re trying to reach and what they’re interested in seeing.

Not only is it important to keep your audience in mind when creating your content; it’s important to know what stage of the buyer’s journey they’re at. A labor-intensive white paper might look spectacular but may not be relevant to the audience if they’re only at the awareness stage. Instead, a short but catchy blog post could work.

Alternatively, pithy social media posts might not resonate with a more serious audience in the research phase. To know what will work and what doesn’t, you need to learn the ins-and-outs of your audience through analytics, surveys or possibly some outside perspectives.

And please, no matter what you do, don’t post SpongeBob memes if you’re trying to reach a professional audience.

You’re lacking authenticity

Beware the buzzword — but don’t ignore it. Sometimes all your content needs is a personal touch. Many marketers overlook authenticity, yet audiences are craving something genuine after being bombarded by all kinds of impersonal media throughout the day.

It’s a bit of a cliché to say this, but be yourself. A unique and personal voice can help reach an audience in a way that polished, overproduced content could never do.

This doesn’t mean speaking with a faux-folksy tone or adding a conversational tone to where it doesn’t belong. Play it smart and see what works with some experimentation. (Here are a few places to start.)

Taking your content from good to great

Let’s put it bluntly: Everyone sucks from time to time. Even the most well-staffed and deep-pocketed companies consistently fail at what they do. The smart people, however, learn from their mistakes and improve upon what they do. Take that message to heart — and to your content — and you’ll see a marked improvement on your content marketing.

Your Editorial Calendar on Display: 5 Ways to Visualize Your Content

editorial calendar

editorial calendar

It happens to the best of us. We’re going through our day, when a great idea for a blog post pops into our head. And that’s when we tell ourselves the biggest fib of our blogging careers…“I’ll remember that later.”

Ladies, don’t do it.

Write down all of your magical ideas in a notebook as soon as you think of them, whether it’s a physical notebook, a bullet journal, or something digital like Evernote.

Even better than getting them in a notebook? Putting them down directly in your editorial calendar. When you assign a date for your idea (even if you change it later), it suddenly takes on a whole new level of importance. It becomes less of a scrawled thought, and more like you’re writing an article for your very own magazine.

But what to use for an editorial calendar? Like anything else in life, this is a super personal decision. Ask a dozen bloggers, and you could get a dozen answers…it’ll vary by personality, work style, and a million other variables. But just to kickstart your thoughts, I’ll go over some of the ones I’ve tried:

1. Simple notebook

I’ve done this by just assigning a notebook page for each month, and writing 1, 2, 3, 4…or however many posts I wanted to do that month. You can use fun notebooks from makers like Erin Condren and May Designs, or hit up the $1 section at your local office supply store to get a basic pad.

2. Post-It calendar

You can buy this from several places, but I picked mine up at Target. There are a few limitations: each page is only for a week, and there are less than 52 pages, but it’ll get you a decent way. And because each page is for a week, the squares are a great size for writing in. Plus, you can easily rearrange the Post-It notes.

3. Door full of Post-Its

Speaking of easy rearranging, in the early brainstorming phases, I have been known to paper the back of my door with all of my ideas on Post-Its. I’m a visual person, so it makes it easy to look at all of my ideas in just a few moments, and figure out which one is really grabbing me.

4. Year-at-a-glance calendar

I know I’m on a Post-It kick, but really this works quite well with the smaller Post-Its. You can scribble down an idea, slap it on the calendar and rearrange it to suit your needs. It makes it easy to to figure out where your posts need to fit in coordination with holidays, launches, and other major events in your business.

5. WordPress plugin

Tada! This one has nothing to do with Post-Its at all. And, it’s digital! There’s a WordPress plugin that’s simply called “Editorial Calendar.” It lets you create draft posts and schedule them out, so you can see what you’ve got coming up that you’ve finished writing, or still need to work on. They even set it up to enable you to drag and drop the posts, so if you realize that something is trending, or you accept an interview, you can easily reschedule one of your upcoming posts by scooting it to a different date. Cool, huh?

Of course these aren’t the only options, and some people use a combination of these and/or other methods. But with a plethora of easy options, there’s no excuse for not getting started.

Tell us: What’s your favorite way of organizing your editorial calendar?

6 Email Marketing Mistakes That Scare Subscribers Into Unsubscribing

email marketing mistakes

email marketing mistakes

You work hard at growing your email list. You created an irresistible lead magnet and optimized your website to capture leads. But when did you last take a close look at the emails that you’ve been sending out?

While growing your list is important, it’s equally important to take care of your existing subscribers and provide them with a wonderful brand experience. The last thing you want to do is push your subscribers to unsubscribe from your mailing list.

Now, getting unsubscribes is a natural and healthy aspect of email marketing, but not if you are unknowingly making mistakes that leave subscribers with no choice but to unsubscribe.

Here are six email marketing mistakes that you should nip in the bud to build trust and nurture a lasting relationship with subscribers:

#1 – You make them ask “Wait, who are you again?”

Your subscribers do not have the faintest clue as to who you are.

If you have not been consistent in emailing them and have been missing from their inbox lately, you need to re-establish your relationship with them.

Your subscribers’ inboxes are crowded. If they see a name that they are not familiar with, they aren’t going to think twice about deleting your email or unsubscribing from it.

Drop a line in your email introduction or email footer telling them where and what they signed up for. This jogs their memory about you and your brand. Start to plan and schedule your emails so that you get into a routine and your name stays fresh in your subscribers’ minds.

#2 – You ask for the sale (too quickly)

It’s not wrong to put yourself out there and ask for a sale. Don’t get me wrong. But you have to ask yourself if the subscriber is ready to act on that call to action.

Your subscriber goes through several stages before she is ready for a sale. Here’s how a typical customer journey is like:

  • Unaware (don’t know who you are)
  • Read your blog post
  • Come across a compelling lead magnet or content upgrade and sign up
  • Start to get aware of your brand
  • Get value from you and your brand
  • They start to see you as an authority figure and trust what you have to say
  • You educate them on the problem they need to solve
  • You allay their fears by removing objections for using your product or service
  • You instill desire for your product or service and paint a vivid picture of how it could solve their problems
  • They purchase your product
  • They get results
  • They become fans and spread the word about your brand and products

The percentage of subscribers who are very engaged with you and your brand and may not require that many touch points before they are ready for a sale is small.

For the majority of subscribers, you need to gain their trust, educate them on the problem and remove any mental objections they have before you ask for a sale.

When you ask for repeated sales too early on in the process, your subscribers will lose trust in you quickly and even unsubscribe. Before you hit send on any email, ask if it is self serving or audience serving.

#3 – Your emails render weirdly on their devices

It’s becoming harder to determine exactly what devices your subscribers will use to access your emails. And when you use image-laden email templates, you cannot ensure that your emails will show up exactly as you would want them to on different devices.

Marketing Agency Brafton reported that “75% of Americans will simply delete an email before reading it if it is not optimized to be viewed on their screens.”

Plain text emails have the highest chances of rendering in the same way across different platforms. Strip your emails off unnecessary sidebars, and graphics. (Editor’s note: It’s one reason why ConvertKit emails have higher open rates than other providers’.)

Your subscribers will be more likely to perform that single call to action without all the unnecessary distractions. Your emails will also look a lot less commercial.

#4 – You use clickbait subject lines

We know the importance of a subject line to grab attention and instill curiosity to get your emails opened.

But when you over-sensationalize your subject lines and your email copy doesn’t live up to the buzz that your subject line has created (#clickbait), you are going to lose trust with your subscribers quickly. They are less likely to open up your future emails because of the previous letdown they had.

Here are some simple tips you can follow:

  • Use symbols: Symbols work because they jump out at you in the inbox. Start by including one at the start of the subject line to replace a word. Example: ⬆ your sales, with this one simple sales page hack
  • Add the recipient’s name in the subject line: Personalization in the subject line compels you to open up. Seeing your name in the subject line gives a sense of familiarity and makes you respond. Example: Have you written that ebook yet, Meera?
  • Show results: Add specific numbers and a promise to let the reader in on a strategy or tool or process. Example: The best $55.68 you will spend on your business

Remember to appeal to different sides of your subscribers rather than sticking to a single type of subject line just because it works.

#5 – You confuse them and provide little direction

Subscribers are not sure if you want them to comment on your post, click over to the sales page, share your post on social media or buy your ebook.

You pack several calls to action in your emails and give your subscribers too many decisions to choose from. And when you give people several choices, it overwhelms them and results in decision paralysis. They end up not acting on any of your suggested actions.

It’s best to keep to one call to action per email. But should the need rise for you to have a few, give clear instructions and the order of the actions you want them to take. Bold the most important action for emphasis. Number them or place them prominently in your emails.

#6 – You write mini-blog posts

Your emails are long with big paragraphs and rows and rows of text.

Keep in mind that more and more of your subscribers are accessing their emails from their mobile devices. According to a survey by Litmus, 33% of email opens occurred on an iPhone.

When readability becomes an issue, your subscribers aren’t going to scroll to the end of your email no matter how much value you provide.

Build a solid relationship through email marketing

The main purpose of email marketing is to build a relationship. While it takes time to experiment with and find out the types of emails your subscribers will engage with, you don’t want to sabotage your list building efforts by making any of these six email marketing mistakes.

How to Map Your Content Strategy to the Buyer’s Journey

map content strategy to buyers journey

map content strategy to buyers journey

The Internet is kind of like the universe — it seems to be constantly expanding. Every day there’s a new startup online, a new blog going live, a new podcast streaming. In all of the content, it can be difficult to stand out and attract your clients to your business website. How do you reach them when it seems like everyone else is publishing, creating, and sharing similar content?

You use the buyer’s journey to help you meet your clients where they are and create content that speaks directly to them. It’s that easy, and that hard.

What is the buyer’s journey?

The buyer’s journey is the process (or journey) that a potential client goes through before making a purchase. Leveraging the different stages in the process by creating content that addresses each stage can help you connect with your customers and move them through the buyer’s journey.

In its broadest sense, the buyer’s journey has three stages: the awareness stage, the research stage, and the decision stage. Each stage has its own challenges that need to be addressed as well as optimal content types and subjects you can use during each stage.

Awareness stage

This is the stage that starts it all. During the awareness stage, your client has realized that she has a problem. She doesn’t know what the problem is, but she knows that it’s there. In this stage, your client is actively looking for information that will help her properly identify the problem, or at least give her an idea of the symptoms of her problem.

As a content creator, your job during the awareness stage is to create content that helps your client identify her problem. Blog posts, videos, podcast episodes, and content upgrades or lead magnets all work well during this stage — just make sure to include your awesome personality. If you’re going to help your clients identify their symptoms, checklists are a great option. Examples of content that fits well in the awareness stage includes:

  • X Ways to Tell if X (You’re Stressed, You’re Selfish, You’re an Alien)
  • How to X (Spot Mould on Your Fruit, Identify a Failing Marriage)

Awareness stage content in action

Let’s say you’re a yoga trainer who focuses on introducing non-yogis to the practice. One of your big selling points is that yoga helps people reduce stress, so you’ve created an awesome checklist to help people determine whether or not they’re stressed. This checklist runs through the symptoms generally associated with stress: difficulty breathing, trouble sleeping, headaches, muscle tension, and more.

Amanda, a self-employed mom-of-four, has been experiencing muscle tension and headaches for a few weeks. She thinks she might be stressed, but she’s not sure. She finds your website after a quick Pinterest search, and she decides to check out your site. Amanda finds the checklist on your site and goes through it. After she checks off most of the items on the list, Amanda realizes that she’s stressed.

Because of that checklist, Amanda was able to identify her problem (she’s stressed), and she’s ready to move on to the second stage of the buyer’s journey.

Research Stage

After your customer has identified her problem, she’s ready to look for solutions. At this point, she may have a rough idea of what her ideal solution is, but she’ll still research at least a little to help ensure she makes the right choice.

To connect with your customers in the research stage, you need to create content that outlines different solutions and their benefits. While it’s great that you mention your services and their benefits in your blog posts, you’ll also want to let your clients know that there are ways to DIY their solutions. Promoting your services as the only solution can be off-putting to potential clients, especially if they feel that it’s not the right fit for them.

Content formats that work well during the research stage are similar to those during stage #1 (blog posts; video tutorials; content upgrades), but it’s the subject matter that differs. This stage is where most of the how-to process posts and tutorials fall.

Subjects that fit well in the research stage include:

  • X Ways to X (Destress, Lose Weight, Increase Productivity)
  • X Reasons to X (Hire a Designer, Buy a Personalized Mug)
  • Insider Tips for Working With X (a Designer, a Yoga Trainer)
  • How to X (Remove Mould From Your Fruit, Put Passion Back in Your Marriage)

Research stage content in action

Amanda knows she’s stressed, and while she’s aware that one of the solutions available to her is to eat an entire tub of ice cream, she figures that there has to be a better solution. She browses your site until she finds your blog post called “15 Ways to Kick Stress to the Curb.” Amanda reads your post and finds several solutions that she likes, including the one about working with a yoga instructor. Amanda has moved into the final stage in the buyer’s journey.

Decision stage

By the time your customer reaches the decision stage, she has a clearly defined solution in mind, and she’s ready to act on it. Hopefully, the solution in question is working with you, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. In the decision stage, it’s likely that if your client has decided to work with someone, she hasn’t yet nailed down her professional of choice.

This is your time to show her why you’re the best choice for her and how your specific service or product can help her. Your content in this stage should be focused on showing the benefits of your specific services or products. Now’s the time for your client success stories, case studies, portfolio pieces, and testimonials.

Decision stage content in action

Back to Amanda, who’s ready to be stress-free. Amanda knows she wants to work with a yoga trainer, but she’s not sure if you’re the right trainer for her. She finds some of your case studies on your blog as well as a video testimonial some of your clients created for you. Amanda consumes your content, assesses her finances, and decides that you’re the right fit for her. She contacts you about working with her.

Incorporating the buyer’s journey in your content

Does the buyer’s journey always work that flawlessly? No.

Oftentimes, people will decide that the DIY strategy works best for them, but it’s crucial to have content that addresses each stage of the buyer’s journey to connect with a wider range of customers. Too often we focus on creating content in the awareness or research stage and neglect the decision stage.

While it’s important to have content that helps people identify and solve their problems, you need to have content promoting your specific products and services. If you don’t, you could be losing out on sales.

Your buyer’s journey content table

One of the best ways to ensure that you cover your bases and create content for each stage of the buyer’s journey is to create a buyer’s journey content table.

Write the buyer’s journey stages across the top of the table (along with your goal as a content creator for each stage) and the different content formats you’re comfortable with along the side of the table. Brainstorm ideas for each stage of the buyer’s journey and write them in the appropriate space.

You can also do this with your current content. Categorize your blog posts, videos, or opt-ins by which stage they fall into. This can give you a good idea of any gaps you have in your content strategy. It’s important to create content in all three stages of the buyer’s journey because your customers won’t all be in the same stage. The good news is you don’t have to create a new piece of content for each stage. You can repurpose your existing content.

Be a tour guide

Think of yourself as a tour guide, showing customers the different ways they can achieve their goals.

Creating high-quality content that speaks to each stage of the buyer’s journey will help you attract and inform customers. You want to make sure that each person who visits your website, regardless of which stage they’re in, has relevant content that helps them progress through the buyer’s journey. Hopefully, that journey will end in a new client, but if it doesn’t, you’ve established yourself as a valuable resource.

How To Write Emails That Get Opened

writing emails that get opened

writing emails that get opened

I can’t wait to open your emails!
Your emails are my favorite ones to read…
Your emails make my inbox sing!

When the emails you write to your list are engaging, entertaining or instructional, it’s easy for the readers to love them.

When they ooze with personality and make a connection with your readers, they can’t help but reply to you.

But when the subject line or content encourages a whole world of snoozes, you get…crickets.

As a copywriter, the majority of my 1-1 client projects involve writing emails, whether it’s sales emails, autoresponder sequences, or email courses. Each one of these email types follows a formula that elicits a connection with the reader of the email.

In this post, I’ll talk through two key elements of writing emails that get opened, plus the formula I teach my clients to use. Let’s dig in.

Key element #1: Subject line

Your email subject line is typically the biggest influencer on whether your email is opened.

To up your odds, try writing subject lines that fall into one of two categories:

1. Subject lines that talk benefits

What’s in it for the reader? What result will they get from reading the email? How does it help them specifically?

If this article were to be sent in an email, the subject line could read:

How to increase your email open rate by 30%

It clearly explains the benefit to the audience if they want to increase their email open rate.

2. Subject lines that create curiosity

The brain is wired to close the loop on any story. We can’t help but want to know the answer.

It’s why movie trailers work to promote films, and sadly, why clickbait headlines (like: ‘Banker buys his mother a dog – you won’t believe what happened next!’) are so good at getting us to click.

We can’t help but want the answer to close the curiosity loop. (Why a banker? What kind of dog? What happened next?!)

Using words like secret, hidden, and little known in a subject line will create curiosity. Who doesn’t want to know a secret?

Again, if this post was sent via email, a curiosity-filled subject line might read:

The hidden strategy standing between your audience and your email being read

The same works if you ask a question. Our brains want to know the answer, pronto. For example:

What’s the one thing standing between your audience and your email being read?

Writing subject lines gets easier with practice, and it’s always helpful to write at least 10 different versions of the subject line to find the best one.

So, why not start practicing?

Here are some templates to get you started:

Template: At last, you will find out how to [goal]
Example: At last, you will find out how to effortlessly create Facebook ads that convert

Template: Are you protecting yourself from [problem]?
Example: Are you protecting yourself from your website being hacked?

Template: The [time] guide to [action]
Example: The 10-minute guide to meditating every morning

Template: The only way to [thing they want to achieve] without [thing they don’t want to do]
Example: The only way to find a boyfriend without dating online

Template: Never worry about [thing they want to avoid] with [what you’re offering]
Example: Never worry about emails being opened again with these 15 subject line templates

Key element #2: Storytelling

The second key element of emails that get opened is stories. Just as curiosity creates action, stories create connection.

Think about a book you read that you didn’t want to end, or a movie you watched that made you cry. Why did this happen?

When we experience a story, we see a part of ourselves in it. It brings us closer to the characters in the story.

This is why stories in emails encourage positive responses from your readers – they connect with you because you’ve given an insight into your life, and they see parts of themselves in your story.

Using stories in your emails can be as simple as explaining how you started your business, a problem you overcame, or something you’ve experienced in your daily life that your audience will relate to.

What do you do when you don’t have any stories to tell? Or when you’re struggling to find a story that connects with the message of your email?

Give some of these a try:

  • A testimonial or case study from a client
  • Make references to movies, music or literature
  • Use a parable to explain your point
  • A story from a friend or relative (with their permission)

How to focus on your reader in storytelling

The first way to focus on your reader in storytelling is to change all the ‘I’ or ‘we’ statements into ‘you’ statements.

For example:

‘What do most people think is the best way to grow an email list?’‘What do you think is the best way to grow an email list?’

Or ‘Here’s how I used Facebook ads to get my first 100 subscribers’ becomes ‘Here’s how you can use Facebook ads to get your first 100 subscribers’

The second way is to actively encourage the reader to see themselves in your stories or statements.

For example, drop in phrase and questions that encourage a pause:

Can you relate?
Tell me if you see yourself in this …
Are you nodding your head while reading this?

How to structure emails that get opened

Most successful emails follow a simple structure that’s easy to replicate.

(Keep in mind that “successful” is relative. It could mean the email gets opened, sells a product or service, garners comments on a blog post, elicits responses to a survey or encourages replies, or more.)

Here’s the structure to apply to emails that leads your reader down the page and onto the call to action (the instruction that tells them what to do next):

  • Subject line: A compelling subject line that encourages the reader to open the email
  • Intro: The opening sentence that sets the scene. This could be a question, statement, reminder, or quote — anything that peaks the interest of the reader
  • Context: More detail on what’s to come next. Here, you can appeal to the hopes, fears, or dreams of the reader (choose one, not all three)
  • Story: A story that’s related to the context will help make your concept a
    reality in the mind of the reader
  • Close: A friendly close that includes your name
  • Call to action: An ask for the reader to take the next best step. The CTA
    must be related to the context and story

Finally, let’s see an example of this in action.

The following screen shots were taken from an email from Adam Gilbert from MyBodyTutor.com. His audience includes people that want to lose weight and are tired of fad diets. Let’s see how Adam applied this formula:

Email marketing: How to write emails that get opened
Email marketing: How to write emails that get opened
Email marketing: How to write emails that get opened

Over to you: What will be the subject of your next email that gets opened?

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