I've known Andrew Warner and his Mixergy site for quite a while, since he's also a regular at Hacker News and so I bumped into him on HN and twitter quite a few times (including that incredible point where he launched Mixergy Premium and, ironically, got roasted by the supposedly entrepreneurial HN crowd). However, before you read on, I should point out that I have no business relationship with Andrew, other than having signed up for Mixergy Premium recently and paying $25/m for it. This is not an advert, or a sponsorship, or whatever.
Anyway, I'd watched a few Mixergy interviews in the past, so I knew there was some quality stuff there, but since I was mostly working from home until a few weeks ago, and not commuting, I didn't really have a time slot to listen to them properly. I don't like to recommend things I don't use, and linking to and summarising videos is a bit awkward, so I haven't linked to Mixergy very much in the past.
The Office and the Podcast
But, a few weeks ago, our first UK employee started with us and we opened our first proper GrantTree office near Waterloo, so I found myself with that loathsome thing in my day called a "commute". It's not too bad, only 30-40 minutes each way, but since the trains are pretty crowded, I can't work or read on my iPad, so listening to a podcast suddenly seemed very appealing.
And so I signed up to a few, including Mixergy and various 5by5 podcasts. Some are entertaining and some insightful. Some are crap (I unsubscribed from those, but won't name-and-shame them, because, well, that woud make me a douchebag!...).
My first conclusion, which I tweeted about, was that the Mixergy podcast was the only one that consistently seemed to result in me taking some kind of action. Not all the interviews lead to that, but enough of them do, so that, unlike all the other podcasts that I listen to, I consider Mixergy to be providing "value" other than entertainment.
A few days after that tweet, I thought, hey, maybe those Mixergy Premium Masterclasses could be interesting. Since I'm running a profitable business, $25/m is perfectly affordable, and would be worth paying even just for the free interviews. A masterclass about a specific topic? For sure. And if I don't like it, I can always cancel.
So I signed up and listened first to a masterclass about LinkedIn (which has resulted in me seriously optimising my LinkedIn profile, and creating a LinkedIn group about UK government funding, and generating, in the last week, several leads from LinkedIn already - though none of them have converted yet), and then, to a second one, about "Advanced Lead Generation".
And my second conclusion is that Mixergy Premium is well worth the money. So since I haven't linked to Mixergy very much for all those years, I'll make up for it with this article.
These masterclasses are basically like sitting with someone who's really good at something that you're interested in, and having them spend an hour explaining to you how to do it. It's great.
If you're running a business, there are almost certainly things that you know you should be doing (be that facebook advertising, or A/B testing, or getting more out of LinkedIn, etc), but you haven't gotten around to spending the time to learn to do them properly. There are books about these topics, but then you have to go and spend time to find such a book, make sure it's the right one, buy it, wait for it to be delivered (or read it on your Kindle), and actually spend hours reading the book!
Back when PeepCode launched, I thought it was a brilliant way to learn new Rails stuff, and well worth the money. Screencasts or video interviews are great because they are like condensed books. Mixergy is the same, but for business topics. And they have lots of courses available, too.
So, you can find and buy a book on the topic, which will consume at least 8 hours or so of your time in total and cost you $10-20 for the typical book... or you can watch a Mixergy Premium video for $25/m, which will only take about 2 hours (making allowance for pausing the video and taking notes).
I call this a no-brainer.
Below are the notes I took while watching the Advanced Lead Generation class. If you don't find something useful in there, don't sign up to Mixergy Premium.
Advanced Lead Generation (notes)
Process is broken down into three simple steps:
- Positioning your site
- Getting the traffic to your site
- Keeping the traffic on your site
1. Positioning the site
If you don’t position yourself as a unique source for content, you become forgettable, so people don’t have a reason to visit you and they don’t remember to visit your site.
3 different types of positioning matter:
1. Content format
PDF? Articles? Audio? Can you stand out with the format that you’re producing, by doing a format that’s different from what everyone else is doing?
E.g. KissMetrics went for infographics, and broke into the very crowded marketing space. They’re the only ones creating useful infographics en masse, and it’s worked very well for them.
When you’re first starting a site and have a minimal amount of traffic, get known for that one thing.
You can also use multiple formats to capture leads - e.g. offer an “action summary” PDF for free in exchange for email address at the end of a video interview.
2. Content topic
E.g. pull in research from psychological studies and conversion testing, and apply that to the (overcrowded) blogging niche.
The one thing people worry about when doing this (mixing 2-3 ideas together and focusing on that) is that they’ll be targeting too small a niche, with not enough market. But, you can target a narrow niche and then branch out to other topics at a later date.
Don’t start with an overly broad niche. Start narrow, branch out later (once audience is built - can be within months!).
3. Content design
How people experience your website. Does it look like every other site, or feel different?
E.g. if everyone is using crowded designs, try a minimalist design. Try different colour schemes.
Can you use images to make things stand out? Use shorter line-lengths (helps people read the first few lines, 6-8 words wide is easier to start reading)?
Can you make your colour scheme different?
Can you make the look-and-feel/design different? Different layout? Don’t make the decision just to be different, don’t compromise conversions just to stand out.
2. Get traffic to your site
1. Creating content-rich resource pages
A page on your site that has a little bit of content, then links to several articles about the topic. Take some of your evergreen content that you have already written, and create a page that puts that content together. Then announce this little package to your audience. This page becomes a major traffic generator.
This will attract links, and therefore increase SEO.
Don’t forget to add an opt-in form there! Tie the opt-in form to the content that you’re linking to. However, the more aggressive you are with the opt-in, the less social media interaction you get.
Category page is nice for archiving content, but while blogs are great for highlighting new content, they suck at highlighting existing content. Select just the best stuff, don’t overwhelm people, but do include several links.
Link to these category pages from the page navigation, as sections of the site.
Get rid of navigation, distractions, etc on these pages - just have the content, the links, and the opt-in form (and social media buttons).
Formula to create these pages:
- Write a persuasive headline. Give people a promise. Solve a problem for them.
- Write great introductory content. Keep it short.
- Link to your articles (5-10, but even 3 is enough; no hard and fast rules, though try to stay with less than 10). More things attract more people, but with fewer things, more people “buy”. (e.g. the 6/24 jam study) 4-6 is ideal.
- Opt-in form. That’s the point of the page, because that’s how you keep the traffic.
These pages are great to link to. “Visit me at mixergy.com is not as cool as “Check out my ‘how to get funded’ series”. Then, as those pages start building links, they start ranking on search engines.
This is one of the best things to create, you can reuse the content you already have, and get some benefit from it right away.
2. Piggy-back on hot news items
Piggy-back on hot news items that are related to your site. E.g. Mixergy interviewed Jason Fried when he was selling Sortfolio. But don’t go after hot news that are going to generate useless traffic. There’s often a tie that you may not pick up on, even between apparently unrelated topics, though. E.g. when Google Plus added their “Plus” buttons, write an article about how to add that button to a wordpress site.
Find the right news source, check what the top news stories are, and do a related story! Sources : TechMeme, Google Trends (what is being searched), Alexa “What’s hot”, industry-related hot topics sources, etc.
Another trick is, when there’s a huge news item that’s related, find the top ranking blogs and buy an ad on there if it’s flat-rate (because they don’t realise how much traffic they’ll be getting). Derek paid $1000 for such an ad once, which sent over a million people to his site.
3. Create content with a target-audience in mind
People create content, press publish, and that’s it. If you create it with a target audience in mind, you can promote that content to that audience. E.g. write an article for designers, and email it to designers.
I know you write about creative design, and while this may be slightly off topic, I know you’ll find it interesting. Especially as a web designer, and someone who writes about web design.
Research has shown that people reject websites, and instantly distrust websites, because of their design. I wrote about this research here:
Would love to know what you think.
Derek waited for designers to agree in the comments, then emailed people who were writers, and sent them the following email:
Look: some designers are slamming the importance of good writing and content. It’s because of this research I found. Check it out here:
Would love to know what you think.
Once it starts going viral, leverage that! Email more people, saying:
I wrote this article that received more than 300 retweets and 200 facebook likes. It’s all about how images either improve or destroy conversion rates, and I think your audience will LOVE it.
Would love to know what you think:
Don’t rest on your laurels when the traffic picks up. But don’t do that all the time. Once or twice a month, and don’t do it with the same people all the time. Do personalise the emails, reference some of their posts, etc.
How do you find who to promote it to? Alltop has a blog directory for every topic you can imagine.
You have to create great content for this, of course. But there has to be strong focus on promoting the content, perhaps 20%/80% split for an early blog.
Webinars are tailor-made for turning traffic into leads, and are very good at generating new traffic. Webinars are live training. They have seat limits, which are beneficial, because they allow you to play up scarcity without being an ass. This makes people want to share the webinars more quickly.
Don’t ask for a sale right off the bat. Give good content, for an hour, and make a small pitch at the end.
Three steps for the webinar setup.
- Get a webinar setup (e.g. GotoWebinar).
- Set up an opt-in page. Get name/email, send them a confirmation, get them to confirm, then send them the GotoWebinar link.
- Set up a welcome email that thanks them, and also mention limited seats (“don’t miss out”) and suggests sharing.
5. Guest posts about creative ways to use your product
Go to alltop to find the relevant blogs about the creative use of the product, and send the guest posts to them. Write tutorials about how to use your product in unique ways.
3. Keep the traffic
The traffic needs to turn into emails. Email is the most important communication medium.
When you rely on people to visit your site and remember it, they’re communicating with you on their terms. When they give you their email, you get to communicate with them on your terms. You shouldn’t abuse it, but you have the opportunity to do so.
Most people do not have an email signup form. It should be in 3 places:
- The feature box at the top of the home page (not on the single post pages).
- At the top of the sidebar (not at the bottom!)
- At the bottom of your articles. Don’t show related posts, ask for their email.
Another great way to get emails is a joint venture. When you have a new blog, you need to get some traffic to get the ball rolling. Go and find other blogs in your niche that aren’t doing Webinars, and suggest you do a webinar together, and keep the email addresses (perhaps give away the sales).
If you read this far, you should get more similar articles by email.