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3 Steps to Remember Before Launching a Digital Product

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I used to work with a bootstrap startup that was launching a new dashboard that would be used for remote teams needing to coordinate across international lines. It was a solid final product, with great features and no noticeable bugs. It had been UX tested, AB tested and performance tested. Early release users had been thrilled with it and were already looking forward to the next version and what new features might be coming along in the future.

Everything sounds perfect, right? Sadly, no. It wasn’t the product itself that had a problem, it was the digital marketing strategy that was poorly planned and hence weakly executed. The result? Obviously, the launch went largely unnoticed and hence the tool enjoyed little to no attention and coverage.

It’s sad when a great product doesn’t get the exposure it truly deserves.

My client could have really benefited from double checking that particular step, but he was too focused on the primary product. Had he put more attention onto the digital marketing strategy he could have avoided a disaster.

Here are the steps to take prior to launching your digital product, be it an eBook, a course or an online tool:

1. Research Competitors and Their Weak Points

You may have already done this (prior to deciding to create the product), but don’t stop there. Monitor your competitors, identify their weak points and adjust your future marketing strategy based on that.

Use BrandMentions to get alerted whenever your competitor is mentioned on the web. It is an awesome tool that looks at every single corner of the web and pulls out even more obscure mentions that you might have missed the first time around with other tools. For small businesses that only need to mention a single brand they start at $49 per month. As you grow you can escalate to new plans with more features.

BrandMentions

Another great tool to use here is GoFish which is a custom Google Search Engine allowing to search 40 (and counting) complaint websites at a time. Run your major competitor’s name through the search and see if there’s a marketing opportunity for you. What problems does your future product solve that are being most actively discussed by your competitors’ customer?

MeWe is a great example of the launch with solving major competitor’s problem at the base of their marketing. Being launched right on the wave of Facebook privacy scandal, the startup talks about privacy on all their social media channels:

MeWe Instagram

2. Set up an Effective Landing Page

Set up your landing page in advance, prior to the actual launch. Think of how your best selling points will be clearly explained on it. Avoid the clutter but make sure you can answer the question: “Why would anyone want to download / give it a try?”

Let’s take a look at some statistics:

  1. A survey found that 92% of marketers asked found landing pages to be at least somewhat effective, and around half of those found them to be very effective.
  2. The Whole Brain Group has reported that they see sustained conversion rates of around 45% monthly from their landing pages.

Sadly, getting landing pages built is one of the top challenges faced by B2B marketers and most businesses are finding it hard to optimize their content on landing pages, which means most aren’t seeing the benefits they want to through these handy tools.

Get inspired by an example: Take a look at this landing page that is very minimal while bringing several important points across. It distinguishes between three actions very effectively:

Example of landing page

Further reading: Learn more about calls-to-action over at Digital Eagles blog

This site is a great example of a content-based landing page that does a good job engaging customers:

Coinflare

Note: While CTAs are important, don’t forget to optimize your landing page for search engine traffic!

One of the most effective ways to generate more leads from your landing page is to generate more search engine traffic to it.

You need to do a basic SEO inspection to make sure you are getting the most out of your optimization. Has it been created to really attract search engine results?

Keyword usage is especially important on landing pages because there is less content for it to attract people with. Just look at a blog with its constant update of new posts, each of which can be optimized to draw in traffic. A landing page is a single page that has to utilize fewer words that are updated far less often.

Get your SEO planned, then make sure your landing page is following it.

3. Plan Your Marketing Strategy after the Launch

All of the above is about that time just before launch. What happens after that has been done? These are the beginning and middle periods of your launch and they are just as important as the preparation for it. You could do everything perfectly and still fall flat if you don’t keep up your momentum.

You need to plan your budget, time investment, delegation tactics and overall team schedule before the launch, because after that you are hopefully going to be too busy for that!

Some tips for getting through those beginning and middle bits include:

Think which additional platforms you’ll be using to sell your digital product

Your own site must be all set at this point but how about additional channels that may bring in extra sales? There are platforms like E-junkie and ClickBank that aim at helping you reach wider audience.

Follow up with new customers

Your product has been bought and too often the buck stops there. You shouldn’t leave them alone… follow up! After a few days send an email (or provide an in-product message if you have a system in place) asking them to fill out a small survey of their experience so far.

Address concerns

Not everything will have run smooth for everyone. If your follow-up brings on concerns from the customer make sure you address them personally. That personal touch can make all the difference in how your brand is perceived and your ability to build loyalty from the very beginning.

Search social media for mentions of your product

Reputation management is crucial at this stage. You have been hyping up your product for weeks, you don’t want word of problems to get out. But beyond that, it is a chance to thank people for saying good things, as well as offer the curious a chance to try your product themselves (this is a great time to offer influencers free access).

Give them something unexpected

I knew a founder who had created fifty small gift baskets. After the launch he took the first fifty sign-ups and sent them a basket as a thank you. It didn’t cost that much, was full of promotional material and it got a fair bit of buzz on social media because the first twenty of those adopters had been individually invited influencers. No one expected the baskets so they had a real impact.

Have you ever launched a digital product? Share your experience in the comments!

Featured image source: Pixabay

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Anna Fox is blogger behind Hire Bloggers, a free resource helping bloggers to find online gigs and start earning money

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The Anatomy of an Effective Business Continuity Plan for Bloggers and Brands

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In a perfect world, disasters would announce themselves with 3-5 business days before making an appearance. But alas, no such world exists, and crises tend to show up with no warning. For online business, brands, and even bloggers, this can come in many shapes and forms.

Everything from in-home/office issues to computer repair, or even customer data being hacked. When it comes to running a business, everything is up in the air and there is no telling what the next day may hold.

According to the US Bureau of Labor, 93 percent of companies that suffer a significant data loss are out of business within five years.

Nobody likes when that happens, and there’s little you can do to prevent deadlocks unless you can anticipate every scenario in which things could go wrong. But there is something you can do to make your life easier should a crisis emerge. We’re talking about a business continuity plan.

This type of pre-planning and security, is the same type of ‘insurance’ every business should have — which is also for piece of mind as well. You may never need such a plan or policy in place, but it’s often best to ‘be safe, than sorry‘.

It’s not something people like to think, but they should. A good business continuity plan can allow you to power through disasters, make a comeback, and continue your growth journey. And this guide can help you create a great one.

What Sort of Disasters Are We Talking about?

First of all, it’s worth determining what instances call for a business continuity plan. Right off the bat, you should know that it doesn’t apply if your crisis has to do with a public relation blunder or lousy customer service. If this is the disaster you’re facing right now, then you need a new (and better) communication strategy to improve your image.

A business continuity plan, however, can help you through those instances where there’s physical damage that can impair you from functioning Fires, floods, hurricanes, hacking, and other similar events that can put you out of business, at least for a while.

As such, the plan will outline the procedure you or your team will have to take. The idea is that following these steps can keep your business afloat, as well as protect your assets.

The Anatomy of a Good Business Continuity Plan

If you don’t have one already, then it’s time you start thinking of one. The first step would be to analyze your business and identify its processes, vulnerabilities, and estimate the potential losses in case of a disruption.

Then, follow these simple steps to lay out the plan:

Figure out to What Extent You Can Apply the Procedure

This first step brings in a dose of realism into the mix. Think, realistically, what is the true scope of the plan, what you can cover for how long, and which are the areas you have to leave out.

From a blogging perspective… consider the type of content that is created on your site, how are you managing your subscriber list, and what type of commission or revenue generating methods are being used on your site? Without the proper guidance or disclosure in place, these could cause problems down the road.

Identify Your Key Areas

Most businesses run numerous different processes at the same time. You’ll need to separate those which are essential from those you could potentially live without when you create your business continuity plan.

From a blogging perspective… take a step back from your blog or business and see all of the many components in place. You may have forgotten about some of them in the past, but they are still accessible by others. Focus on the core basics of your business and what is generating money, then consider removing the rest.

(Really) Know Your Weaknesses and Set Your Priorities

Look at the areas where you are vulnerable in your business. That will help you understand better the impact any future disaster may have, and what steps you’ll have to take.

Of all of them, which do you consider to be a priority? Think of these as essentials or the ones you’ll need to cater to immediately in case of disruption to stay afloat.

From a blogging perspective… what are you best at, and should you being managing everything you are on a daily basis? Not only can delegating different projects to individuals make your business and data more safe, it can also improve your efficiency as well.

Think of a Recovery Plan

At this point, you’ll have to think of the ways you can reduce the negative impact a disruption may have on your business. In a way, it’s like you are developing a backup plan by covering your assets to protect them.

For instance, if you are hit by floods and your shop is temporarily out of business, what do you have to do? Then, write down everything from “clean-up” to “insurance policy claims” and even “finding alternative locations.” It’s easier to think about these steps now than it would be during the when chaos installs.

From a blogging perspective… always plan for the worst. You don’t know what tomorrow might bring, but if you have a preparation and repair plan in place, it will be that much easier to make a quick come back. Assume your online business and blog disappears tomorrow… then what would you do?

One Final Word

As final advice, you should never create the plan, lock it up, and only bring it back in case of a crisis. Things may change over time, so it’s in your best interest to review the plan at least once a year. Only then you are truly prepared for the worst.

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7 Tips to Reduce Money Stress Before it Takes Over Your Life

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Having money troubles can be one of the most stressful things in life. Worrying about how to pay the bills or get out of debt can lead to many sleepless nights. This is something many bloggers and entrepreneurs in the making have to deal with all the time.

Whether you are working a 9-to-5 or a full-time job, and trying to do a side hustle to make some money on the side — it’s all about money management and making sure you are prepared for the unexpected.

If you feel a pit in your stomach every time you think about money, it can seem pretty hopeless. How do you get out of it? What can you do?

1 in 4 people report lower performance at work due to the stress of money worries. If you feel the same way, try not to worry. There’s a way out of everything and there are ways to help.

Don’t let money stress get you down. Read on for seven tips to reduce your money worries and get on with your life, and we even threw in a couple on how to make some money online in the process.

Don’t Let Money Stress Get You Down

Take a deep breath and focus. There is always a way through it when financial troubles arise. Don’t let them control you, start taking control instead. When you take charge of your finances you can start to take charge of your life.

Below you will find some of the best advice in relation to money and financial management, while also trying to better manage your stress in the process. We’ve even listed a few ways to make additional money online in your spare time.

1. Face the Statements

When you’re struggling with money, it’s easy to ignore the statements and hope they’ll go away. But that’s not helping anybody, and it’s only making the problem worse.

Rip off the band-aid and look at your bank statements. Sure, it might be bad, but at least you’ll know. When you know the extent of your finances, you can start to take charge of them.

2. Make a Budget

Once you know the state of your finances, you can start to make a budget. If you’re spending too much on unnecessary things, cut them out. Try to reduce your phone bill or cancel a subscription.

The more you reduce your spending, the more you can start saving. Use these savings to chip away at your debt or put money away in a savings account.

3. Start Writing in Your Spare Time

One of the most amazing things about the internet, is that there are so many different ways to make money online. With blogging, this is a path that definitely takes a lot of work and time before seeing any actual money coming in.

However, if you start to focus on your writing skills and being a freelance writer in your spare time, there is no reason why you couldn’t earn $500 to $1000 a month from the comfort of your own home.

Using sites like TextBroker, iWriter, and many others, freelance writers get paid immediately after their writing work is completed. These jobs can pay anywhere from $5 to $40+ for a 500-word article.

Did we get your attention?

4. Get a Financial Advisor

When things are tough, go to the professionals. For example, a financial advisor like Hoyes, Michalos & Associates can help put your mind at ease and work alongside you to come up with a plan to better manage your money and also help pay down your debt in the process.

They are sort of like therapists, but for finances. They can get you on the right track with your money and make it easier to hit your savings goals. They’ll help address your money problems and form a plan with you on how to change it for the better.

5. Get Another Job

It may be the last thing you want to do, but the most necessary. Getting another job part-time to supplement your income can help a lot.

Whether you work a couple nights a week or work a new job at home, it all helps. The extra income can help you get back on your feet in no time. It doesn’t have to be permanent, only until you get your finances on track.

6. Offer Your Skills or Expertise on Fiverr

Did you know that there are thousands of people paying for simple and crazy micro-jobs through sites like Fiverr.com, for $5 and up?

It’s true — and these jobs really range all over the place.

We are talking about everything from drawing pictures, writing jobs, prank calling people, coming up with ideas and much more.

Even if you created a new job and only got one new order per day a $5 each, that’s an extra $150 per month on the side.

Check out the site and see what jobs are doing well, then see what you might be able to come up with for yourself.

7. Talk it Out

Sometimes it can be uncomfortable to talk about money. This is especially so when you come across money worries. It can be embarrassing to admit you’re having trouble.

But don’t keep it all in. Talk it out with someone you trust. A problem shared is a problem halved, and they may be able to help you find a way through it. Even talking about it can take the weight off your shoulders and ease the burden.

Worry Less About Money Stress

It’s easy for money stress to get us down, but it doesn’t have to take over your life. There are lots of things you can do to get back on track. These 5 tips will have you back on your feet in no time.

Find this useful? Check out this article for more helpful tips on how blogging can improve your career and financial situation.

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Everything You Need to Know About Ecommerce & Paid Advertising

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Pop quiz: What is the number one thing an ecommerce site needs to be successful? That’s right, customers!

A robust customer base is essential to the livelihood of any ecommerce vendor, which is why merchants spend so much time trying to reach new audiences and grow their businesses. One of the best ways to do this is through paid advertising.

Paid advertising isn’t for everyone, though. Many fledgling SMBs would probably do well to explore free social media marketing tactics before engaging in paid digital marketing. But for those enterprise ecommerce sites with healthy budgets, paid advertising is a wonderful investment opportunity.

Below is a quick guide to paid advertising for ecommerce sites.

“Buy” Buttons

Consumers love searching for merchandise on social media and will often follow their favorite brands to keep up with the latest sales and product launches. This inspired a lot of smart people to imagine, “what if we could turn this interest into conversions for vendors and immediate gratification for shoppers?” And so, the ‘buy’ button was born.

The Facebook ‘buy’ button, for instance, allows businesses to deliver automated content and customer support (via AI) over Messenger. Customers are empowered to make purchases and submit native payments without leaving the app. Pretty nifty!

If you want to see a perfect example of how an ecommerce site site be laid out, simply take a look at this site on short prom dresses. Not only is the site visually appealing all around, they also have some great call to actions and easy to navigate buttons on the site.

Instagram and Pinterest also offer ‘buy’ buttons, although Twitter has eliminated this functionality.

Ads on Social

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat all host opportunities for paid advertising. Of course, it’s important to understand your customers or potential shoppers to avoid ‘spray and pray’ marketing.

For example, businesses hoping to reach fashion-conscious Millennials should post their ads on Instagram since the platform is photo heavy and appeals to 20-somethings. Conversely, Pinterest is perfect for reaching moms and dads in their 30s and Twitter is ideal for reaching businesspeople. This is also proving to be just as important through mobile marketing on social media as well.

Where will you meet your shoppers?

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is one of the most versatile paid marketing methods around. All you have to do is tell Google what ads you want to be placed (based on a set of keyword searches), and AdWords will insert your advertisements in its search results, on its partner websites or in YouTube videos.

And since AdWords is a pay-per-click (PPC) model, you only pay for the number of times your advertisement results in a click. Costs vary based on how much other advertisers are willing to pay for the same keywords.

Email Marketing

Newsletter subscriptions might seem like a relic of the past, but in truth, email marketing is hotter than ever. Research shows that for every $1 invested in email marketing, vendors see $45 in profit. Now that’s a ROI you can’t afford to ignore!

The best part about email marketing is that consumers voluntarily opt-in to subscriptions, meaning they’re actually interested in what your brand has to say. Don’t disappoint them. Share one or two emails a week updating them on clearance sales, product launches, contests or coupon codes without appearing too spammy.

In addition to email marketing, there are also many must-have pages for e-commerce sites as well. These include about me pages, product description pages, contact information and much more.

Brand Ambassadors

Social influencers and brand ambassadors have revolutionized the way ecommerce sites reach potential buyers; and this is especially true for young consumers. Believe it or not, 84 percent of Millennials say user-generated content influences what they buy. In other words, your store would be smart to leverage popular social media personalities to showcase and advertise your products on their channels.

It goes without saying, that you will need to front a little cash to leverage the audience built by your influential partner, so be sure to discuss terms before taking the plunge.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide which technique, or a combination of techniques, will best serve your ecommerce site.

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