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The Top Four Mistakes Beginners Make With Their First Facebook Ad Campaign

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The Top Four Mistakes Beginners Make With Their First Facebook Ad Campaign

Free Book PreviewNo BS Guide to Direct Response Social Media Marketing

The ultimate guide to – producing measurable, monetizable results with social media marketing.EmailSubmitWill be used in accordance with our Privacy PolicySteve TanENTREPRENEUR LEADERSHIP NETWORK CONTRIBUTORFounder of eCommerce Elites Mastermind  homeJuly 30, 2020 6 min readOpinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you haven’t yet started Facebook ads, it’s high time you do. Recent statistics from Hootsuite show that the average Facebook user clicks on 11 ads per month. Although many believe Facebook is on the decline after last year’s privacy violations came under scrutiny, it still makes up for 40 percent of annual digital display advertising revenue, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s second only to one: Google

With all the opportunity from a Facebook ad campaign, it’s a preferred avenue for new business owners ready to get exposure for their product. However, as easy as Facebook Ads Manager makes the ad creation process, there’s a great deal of behind-the-scenes work that first needs to be accomplished. In fact, many beginners fall into mistake traps when creating their first campaign. These are the top four most common mistakes to make sure you avoid. 

Related: The Complete Guide to Getting Started With Facebook Ads

1. Slacking on the quality of the creatives and the copy

Nowadays, companies that win with ads are those that have the best creative approach. A compelling video, catchy graphic and magnetic copy goes a long way — it gets potential customers to pay attention. Focus your efforts here first, because if you can’t get a potential customer to stop their scrolling and actually read or engage with the ad, it doesn’t matter if you have the best product in the world. Each is as important as the other. For example, you could invest in a high-quality, colorful photo shoot for a powerful image, but if the copy is weak, a prospective customer will still scroll past. 

Fortunately, Facebook also knows how important each component is and made a new tool that helps ad managers and creatives conduct split tests, matching your creatives with your headlines in different combinations. Facebook created Dynamic Creative, in which an ad creator can upload basic parts of their ideal ad (the copy, the images and more), and the system optimizes and tests different combinations for you, as you never fully know how they’ll perform until they’re tested.

Specifically, testing creative is one of the best ways to boost conversions. According to Nielsen, “49 percent of a brand’s sales lift from advertising is due to the creative.” There are some headlines and video creatives that can generate a few hundred percent more in ROI.  

Related:Don’t Even Think About Facebook Ads Until You Have These 5 Things In Place

2. Not knowing your objective

It’s great if you want to use an ad campaign to spark more awareness about your business or product, but this is really more an implicit consequence of running ads. Get clear on what your main objective is from running them, which is important not only for how you create the ads themselves, but also for what you select as your ad objective on Facebook. This objective determines how the Facebook algorithm shows ads to audiences. If the objective hasn’t been pinpointed, it’s likely that Facebook will deliver the ads to the wrong audience, and you won’t get the results that you were planning on. This is one of the easiest ways to sabotage your ads. 

So, what is the objective of your ad campaign? What do you want your customers to do? Is it subscribing to your mailing list? Actually purchasing a product? Booking a demo appointment? This can also factor into the call-to-action that you place within the ad, as customers sometimes need direction as to what your objectives are, too. 

Related: 5 Forbidden Phrases You Absolutely Must Avoid in Your Facebook Ad

3. Making typos or grammatical errors in ad copy

This sounds obvious, but double, triple and quadruple check the copy for your ads. Typos are an ad killer. Website Planet conducted an experiment to see just how detrimental the presence of typos can be. It found that while the results differed by country (because of language barriers), in the U.S., marketers pay up to 10 percent more for their ad spend when they have a typo — and in the U.K., 20 percent more for typos and 72 percent more for grammatical errors.

It doesn’t matter that we make typos and mistakes all the time in writing quick emails or even in our personal Instagram page captions. How you portray yourself and your company in an ad matters. What would you think of a company that had a very obvious, glaring typo in its ad copy? Would you still buy from it, even if you really were interested in its product or service? Even if it doesn’t matter much to you, it does give many customers pause, because the question becomes: “What’s the quality of this company’s work if they can’t double check the writing they invested in?”

Related: 5 Simple Steps to Recover a Disabled Facebook Ads Account

4. Having too broad of a target audience

Not narrowing down your audience targeting enough is another common mistake — also made from the desire for exposure. It’s understandable: You don’t want to cut off a potential demographic that would be interested. For example, if you’re selling a service that reviews grad school applications, you don’t want to limit your target audience to the typical age range for grad school applicants just in case there are a few stragglers applying earlier or later. 

However, too broad of a target audience can end up costing you both time and money. Black Tie Marketing noted that one of the surefire ways to know that your target is too broad is by surveying the leads you currently have coming through your funnel. Do you get on a phone call with someone and find out that they actually aren’t a qualified lead more often than not? Or, are you getting good impressions and clicks but little follow through? Niche down, in that case. It may diminish the reach, but if you’re reaching more qualified prospects, it’s worth it — both for your time and theirs.

My best advice is to start by investing time and research on that first ad campaign, then tweak from there. Go deep by perfecting the ad, create urgency and a clear action plan for interested leads, get more eyeballs on it to avoid typos or poorly written sentences and make sure you’re targeting the right demographic, even if it’s smaller than you thought. 

Mailchimp Unveils Automation Tool For Personalizing The Customer Journey

Mailchimp has launched an automation tool that it says can help brands create personalized interactions at all stages of the customer journey without coding. 

The new product, Customer Journeys, allows brands to visualize its automated features, while providing prebuilt templates and workflows that require little effort to configure, the company says. 

In addition, the tool’s branding and mapping features enable users to follow up on abandoned carts, site visits and email newsletters, it says.

Customer Journeys allows brand to map and build journeys, using a drag-and-drop functionality. Also provided are an intuitive UX, new in-app homepage(s) and pre-built journeys, MailChimp states. 

This solution will be especially useful to SMBs, it adds.  

The company notes that website publication on its platform doubled in April after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

How to Double Your Affiliate Income Overnight

 July 28, 2020 Nico Prins

How to Double Your Affiliate Income Overnight

Affiliate marketing continues to grow at a steady pace. In 2010, the market was worth $1.6 billion in the US. Last year, affiliate marketers made a total of $6.4 billion. The market is set to expand to over $8 billion by the end of 2022, according to a study by Statista.

Affiliate marketing continues to grow by Statista

Image Source: Statista

This represents a massive opportunity for savvy affiliate marketers.

It’s easy to join an affiliate marketing program and share the links on your site. You will make some affiliate income, maybe a lot. However, your conversion rates will probably be 1% or lower. Even with warm traffic from your email list, you’re lucky to get a 5% conversion rate.

To get the most out of your affiliate marketing, you need to utilize various techniques to increase the number of clicks and boost conversions. Bonuses are one such method.

Why you should offer bonuses to boost your affiliate income

A bonus is an extra product or service offered alongside the primary purchase to encourage customers to buy. Here are some reasons you should add bonuses to your affiliate offerings:

  • Bonuses add value. A bonus that can be used alongside the base product or service is a significant selling point.
  • Bonuses make you the favorite affiliate. There are likely hundreds or thousands of similar sites that promote the same product or service as you. But if you increase your sales through bonuses, your affiliate partners might give you preferential treatment. Bonuses will also make you the customers’ favored affiliate when they are ready to buy.
  • Bonuses build a sense of urgency. Time-limited bonuses tap into customers’ fear of missing out (FOMO). No-one wants to feel like they’ve missed out on a chance to get something extra, making them more likely to click the “Buy Now” button.

Utilizing bonuses to improve conversion rates makes sense. Experienced affiliate marketers realized this a long time ago. In fact, JVZoo, one of the largest affiliate marketing platforms on the net, has built a bonus delivery system into their UI for affiliates.

Offer bonuses to boost your affiliate marketing

What this all boils down to is pretty simple; if you give people a reason to buy through your affiliate link you’ll make more sales.

How to create an effective bonus

As with all types of marketing, affiliate marketers need to understand their audience.

Since you aim to convince the prospective customer to buy, the bonus needs to be something that will push them towards that decision. Therefore, you need to understand your typical customer, pain points, and reasons for buying the product.

customer persona will help you do this. It is a representation of your ideal buyer. The customer persona usually includes demographic information, skills, interests, and personality:

Create an effective bonus customer persona for affiliate marketing

To create a useful bonus, you must consider your audience’s goals and problems. Consider these questions:

  • What problem does the customer have that I could help them solve?
  • What would help them get the most out of the base product?

You should also address your customers’ fears. What is keeping them from clicking on the link? A customer’s fear might involve a lack of trust in the product’s ability to achieve the desired result, low belief in their ability to utilize the product or service correctly, etc.

Your bonus should directly address your ideal customer’s problems or fears.

What are the best types of bonuses?

There are lots of things you can offer which people will love. Free beer is certainly one option.

Ideally, though, the bonus you create will cost you something to create once, but nothing to deliver. So, while free beer is great, it’s hardly practical. The secret to eternal happiness, on the other hand, might be the perfect bonus as it costs nothing to share.

Other types of bonuses include:

  • Online training. Video courses and webinars can help the customer improve their skills and get the most out of the product or service.
  • Software or add-ons. Free templates, plugins, and other tools that add functionality to the product are always welcome bonuses and help the customer feel like they’re getting value for money.
  • White papers or case studies. Case studies about how the product helped other customers will empower the buyer to get the most out of it.
  • An eBook. An eBook about a topic related to the product can fill a knowledge gap and help the customer feel more prepared to use the product or service.

Having a single bonus will increase sales. Maximizing your conversion rate involves over-delivering on value. In the book Expert Secrets, the founder of Clickfunnels suggested that your bonus should have ten times the value of the product you are promoting. So, if you are promoting a product that costs $47, the bonus’s perceived value should be $470.

This has all been quite theoretical up to this point. Let me give you a concrete example of how to create a customer persona and relevant bonuses that fill customer pain points.

Longtail Pro Case Study

On my site, I have a review for an SEO tool called Longtail Pro. I use an affiliate link.

I hypothesized the type of customers that will buy Longtail Pro either run a website, are part of the SEO team for a business that relies on online traffic or have an agency background.

That’s a very loose customer persona.

These people use Longtail Pro for keyword research and competitor research with the ultimate goal of trying to get more traffic to a site.

Here’s an overview of the bonuses I came up with based around that customer persona and the pain points I felt people might encounter:

  • A training guide for SEO content writers
  • A video guide for coming up with guest post ideas
  • Email outreach templates for a campaign
  • List of useful free SEO tools

You can see how I’m trying to identify and fix the knowledge gaps people might be facing.

I then attached a value to each of these bonuses. The training guide for SEO content writers has a hypothetical $200 value, for example.

How to promote your bonus

After choosing your bonus, the last and most important step is to promote it. Effective promotion is essential if you want to increase sales and grow your affiliate income.

I like to promote bonuses using an exit-intent popup. Below is an example from the Longtail Pro case study. You can see how the popup sells the bonus. I’m not looking to grab the contact as a lead in this instance.

Promote your bonus for your affiliate marketing

When you click on the button, you are directed to a landing page.

The landing page is just a stop-gap between the entry point in the funnel and the sales page. In this example, it comes between the review page and the sales page. If you were promoting an affiliate offer from your email list, you could send them straight to the page.

Your landing page is an essential component of the funnel. On the landing page, you introduce the product you are promoting and “sell” your bonuses. Here’s a screenshot of the landing page I designed to promote those bonuses:

LongTail Pro Bonus Promotion for Affiliate Income

That gives you a sense of how you present a bonus.

Below is a basic wireframe of a bonus page. If it’s the first time you’ve created a squeeze page, copy the basic design. You can use landing page software to create a page like this in a couple of hours.

Value Driven Headline The Bonus Page Template Affiliate Income

If you click on one of those links you’ll be directed to the sales page. It’s a pretty simple model.

You might be asking yourself how much of a boost can you see from creating relevant bonuses? Short answer, a lot! Providing relevant bonuses to your audience, and significantly increasing the value of the offer, can easily result in a doubling of your conversion rate. That’s a realistic target.

How to implement this strategy on your site

If you have read the article through to this point, you’re probably thinking: “Thanks, Nico. That’s a bucket load of work.” And that’s true.

Creating relevant and valuable bonuses will require a significant investment of time and capital. You have to come up with relevant bonuses, create the product, design the sales page, make a sales video, and launch your opt-in form. That’s a good two to three days of your time.

Given the scale of the investment, take baby steps.

Start by creating a bonus page with one product for your most popular affiliate offer. Launch the page without the sales video. If more people than usual buy through your affiliate link, you’ll have proven that this strategy works.

With proof of concept out of the way, you’ll have justified that this model works.

When you know it works, you’ll have justified investing your time in improving the bonus offer. As you improve the offer and the page, you should see a little jump in your conversion rate and some more cash in your pocket. That boost will help incentivize you to optimize your conversion rates, so you make more cash.

Boosting your affiliate income with bonuses

Affiliate marketing is highly competitive. As we’ve discussed, there are hundreds if not thousands of affiliates selling the same product or service. Therefore, you need to persuade your audience to click on your affiliate links instead of anybody else’s. Bonuses are one of the best ways to achieve that goal.

But you need to offer the right kind of bonus. Always focus on your customer persona and your ideal buyer’s needs, fears, and pain points as you decide what to give away. A fantastic bonus can be the difference between an undecided lead clicking the link, and leaving your site and never returning.

Remember the golden rules of bonuses – address a need, add value to the base product, and prominently display the bonus’s value.

If you want to go the extra mile and add even more value, consider stacking bonuses. The more value you can provide, the more customers you will convince to stay on your site and click the “Buy Now” button.

By offering great bonuses and promoting them effectively, you can improve your conversion rates and quickly grow your affiliate income. Here’s to more revenue for your site!

Guest author: Nico is an online marketer and the founder of Launch Space. He helps companies develop their digital marketing strategies and make money blogging. He’s worked with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to startups helping them develop content marketing strategies that align with their business goals. Follow him on Twitter @nhdprins.

Top CRO Tools (July 2020)

How To Use Consumer Psychology To Skyrocket Sales

For ages, people have wondered what makes other people tick. The field of psychology attempts to understand the mind, and while most people think of mental health when they hear the word ‘psychology,’ it actually has a large bearing on business.

As long as businesses try to sell the customer on their products, psychology is in play. A farmer attempting to make his crops look more valuable to get a better value in bartering negotiations and a modern day businessman relying on a detailed advertising strategy to get sales are both appealing to psychology to help their businesses.

The methods, of course, have changed over the years. In the past, advertising wasn’t so heavily present in society. Today, it’s everywhere. In the past, the economy was more focused on local businesses, and business owners mainly had to appeal to their own community. Now, large corporations have to decide on strategies to appeal to worldwide markets.

However, some of the best tricks are the simplest. The things outlined below are proven strategies to help both small local businesses and large sized corporations secure the sale and get the customer to buy their product.

1. Don’t Underestimate Social Proof

What is social proof? According to Robert Cialdini, in the book Influence, social proof is a phenomenon where people copy the actions of others.

Consider social media, for example. People are more likely to engage with a social media account that has a million followers compared to one that has five. The account with more followers may appear more credible, not because of its content but because the widespread engagement has given it social proof.

Social proof doesn’t just apply to social media. It’s also important in the world of business and is one of the most important factors in getting sales.

There was a study held on social proof when it comes to organic food. In this study, the number of likes had an effect on the reaction to a Facebook page with mixed comments.

You can leverage a similar effect for your own business. Be active on social media and build up followers – but don’t just try to gain followers. Go for engagement as well. Having interactions instead of just likes will help potential customers see that your brand is for real and that you haven’t bought fake followers.

Product reviews are another way to display social proof. According to a 2008 study, 61% of customers check reviews. Additionally, customers valued reviews from other customers more than they did for professional reviewers. Having consumer reviews may instill more trust in your customers than professional ones that may be viewed as not being genuine. Shoppers who spent $500 or more wanted to reference multiple reviews and not just one or two, according to the same study. The preferred number is four to seven.

If you had to choose just a single strategy to boost your sales, gaining social proof is a contender to be the best strategy to pick. Of course, it’s not easy. Major brands such as Apple have social proof due to their widespread popularity and longtime reputations. For smaller and newer businesses, more intentional focus must be placed into accumulating this social proof.

Social media engagement, testimonials, and product reviews are all ways to leverage social proof – but all of these methods should be done genuinely, rather than to trick the customer. Ethical concerns aside, humans are intelligent. They’re better at picking out false reviews and fake followers than you may give them credit for.

2. Make Use Of Loss Aversion

Another important term to know is prospect theory, also known as the principle of loss aversion. This term, basically, means that most people find it more appealing to avoid a loss than they do to gain something.

An example of a field where this is in play is insurance. A customer, for example, wouldn’t insure their vehicle for the sake of gaining insurance. They would do it to avoid the financial losses that could come from getting into a crash with no insurance, or being fined for doing so.

Loss aversion is one of the strongest phenomenons in business psychology. It’s also a powerful phenomenon in business in general.

When presented with a hypothetical scenario where there’s multiple possible plans to combat a new disease, respondents in a 1981 study went with the options that were sure to save a smaller number of people rather than the ones that would save more people but had a smaller chance to do so.

Another study suggests that people would rather keep something they already own than gain something else. It doesn’t matter in this case if the new object is otherwise the same as the one they already have.

You may find it useful to apply the ideas of loss aversion to your own business if you provide a product or service that can help the customer avoid losses.

Sometimes, it may benefit your business to shift your advertising and product descriptions to emphasize what losses you’ll help the customer avoid, rather than what they stand to gain.

The research shows just how powerful this method is, but leveraging it to aid your business is something you’ll have to figure out. It’s a matter personal to your kind of business, and the type of business you have will impact which tactics work.

3. Evoke A Sense Of Authority

This is similar to showing social proof, but whereas social proof can be gained from interactions with the public, authority often comes from experts. People like to feel like they’re getting a product that’s been recommended by the best, and that applies across many fields – some more than others.

It costs $185,000 to buy a sponsored tweet from basketball player LeBron James. This isn’t a case of overpricing, but rather a somewhat accurate evaluation of the value that an endorsement from such a famous celebrity athlete can add to a brand.

James makes over $50,000,000 in total through his endorsement deals with Beats by Dre, Coca Cola, McDonalds, and other powerhouse companies such as these. Clearly, all of these brands consider it worth it to pay top dollar in exchange for the support of a player like James.

Many other celebrities make a hefty sum from endorsements. This is because these endorsements give the business a sense of credibility and authority to the consumer. In addition to celebrity endorsements, getting testimonials from experts in a specific field can boost the authority of a business.

For example, a company that specializes in niche scientific equipment wouldn’t get much from a celebrity endorsement, but a good review from a highly respected scientist in the niche would likely increase sales.

If your business involves experts directly, you should make it known. Do you have decades of experience in your field? Do you have any awards or certifications to your name that show your skills? If so, you should incorporate these things into your marketing and brand. If you’re acquainted with experts in your field and you have a product relevant to them, consider asking them to try it out and give you an honest review.

All of these things can help your business stand above competitors that might not have the same kind of credibility that expert support can give you.

Summary

Psychology is hard. Humans are complicated people and if figuring out how to market things to the customer was easy and something that anyone could do, it wouldn’t be a professional field.

Despite the inherent difficulty in marketing, psychological tricks such as displaying social proof, appealing to loss aversion, and evoking authority appeal to longstanding psychological phenomena that apply inside and outside of business.

Sometimes, to get sales, you don’t need a new strategy that’s never been done before. A lot of the time, it’s the simple answers that have been in front of us for years that work.

The tips that you’ve just read are intended to do that – not to manipulate the customer and trick them, but to appeal to them using common patterns that have been around for decades.— Published on July 21, 2020

Rafi Chowdhury

Rafi Chowdhury, Investor, Technologist, and Chess Enthusiast. I cover chess and artificial intelligence.

Rafi Chowdhury is the founder of Chowdhury’s Digital and an investor. He enjoys writing about chess, artificial intelligence, and psychology. In his free time, he plays basketball and chess, bikes, and raises homing pigeons.The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

7 of the Best Free Online Business Classes for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

@JEFF_HADEN

7 of the Best Free Online Business Classes for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Getty Images

Want to start a business but don’t know where to start? A little education can go a long way, especially when it’s free.

Here are seven great online classes for aspiring entrepreneurs–from some of the top business schools in the country.

Becoming an Entrepreneur

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

What will you learn?

  • How to overcome the most common myths of entrepreneurship
  • How to define your goals as an entrepreneur and a startup
  • How to identify business opportunities
  • How to conduct market research and choose your target customer
  • How to design and test your offering
  • How to pitch and sell to customers

Time involved: Six weeks, approximately one to three hours per week.

How to Start a Startup

Stanford (Sam Altman)

More a series of videos than a class, “How to Start a Startup” covers a wide range of topics–and includes startup founders like Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Emmett Shear (Just.tv and Twitch), Marc Andreessen (Netscape), Aaron Levie (Box), and Paul Graham (Y Combinator.)

What will you learn?

  • How to build a team
  • How to build a product and talk to users
  • How to raise money
  • How to build a great culture
  • How to build services that scale
  • How to manage, operate, and be a great founder

Time involved: 20 videos, approximately 50 minutes each.

Nuts and Bolts of Business Plans

Sloan School of Management (MIT)

Maybe you won’t need a business plan–plenty of people argue you don’t. Or that your business plan will start changing the first week. 

Even so, understanding the basics of a business plan will definitely help bring focus to your idea and your first steps–so what better than the course that has been taken by every MIT MBA student for over two decades?

What will you learn?

  • How to refine and present your idea
  • How to create marketing and sales plans
  • How to choose the right business model
  • How to develop financial projections
  • How to plan for legal, accounting, copyright, etc. issues
  • How to execute your plan

Time involved: Six videos of approximately an hour each, plus extensive lecture notes and supplemental material (if you want more).

Launching Your Startup

Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)

Ideas are great…but execution is everything. A great idea and a solid plan is a given; the next step is to put it into action.

What will you learn?

  • How to build a minimum viable product (MVP)
  • How to build a team
  • How to build a network: advisers, mentors, professional service providers, etc.
  • How to create a brand
  • How to bring your brand to market

Time involved: Self-paced, approximately eight hours.

Growth Strategies

Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)

Once you’ve launched, you’ll need to grow–especially if you’re bootstrapping your way to success and financing your startup with the revenue you generate.

What will you learn?

  • How to land customers
  • How to use earned, paid, and owned marketing as efficiently as possible
  • How to build cost and pricing structures
  • How to develop and track the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business
  • How to build a great culture–and maintain it as your startup grows

Time involved: Self-paced, approximately seven hours.

Financing and Profitability

Wharton (University of Pennsylvania)

How do you make a small fortune? Begin with a large fortune and start a (insert your favorite startup money pit here).

Because a business without (eventual) profits isn’t really a business.

What will you learn?

  • How to develop the right business models
  • How to keep your best customers
  • How to determine the right financing for your business (even if “financing” just means your savings)
  • How to calculate burn rate, break-even point, and other key financial metrics and milestones
  • How to pitch investors
  • How to decide when the time is right, and under what terms, to exit.

Time involved: Self-paced, approximately six hours.

Professional Resilience: Building Skills to Thrive at Work

Deakin University

You can learn business and entrepreneurial skills from a wide variety of sources. But who will teach you how to stay the course when times get tough, as times inevitably do?

For starters, these folks.

What will you learn?

  • How to follow a few simple steps to become more resilient
  • How to develop specific skills to deal with difficult situations
  • How to perform a little self-care to recharge your resiliency batteries
  • How to apply resiliency frameworks to professional and personal situations

Time involved: Two weeks, approximately three hours per week.JUL 21, 2020Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post.The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

CEO: Start a successful side hustle online for under $100 — here are the tools you need

EARNING

“Make Change Work for You” author and CEO Scott Steinberg shares his favorite tools for anyone looking to start a virtual side hustle.

Published Mon, Jul 20 20203:34 PM EDTUpdated An Hour AgoScott Steinberg

Twenty/20

If you are starting a business or a side hustle right now, you might be thinking that you’ll have to reinvent the wheel, spend a fortune, or do it all on your own. But that is not the case. 

I’m the founder and CEO of The International Association for Business Development; I’vebeen named the World’s Leading Business Strategist; and Iregularly speak at and consult for Fortune 500 brands. A few years ago, though, I was working at my day job as a freelance writerand self-publishing books out of a spare bedroom. 

I believe a big reason why I was able to make the leap and transform my career is by practicing what I like to call the art of grassroots innovation. I’ve learned that getting ahead isn’t about having more resources. It’s about being resourceful and understanding which tools are already out there that can help you achieve your goals

Whatever challenges you’re facing in business, countless other entrepreneurs have experienced them too, especially when it comes to starting a side hustle online. And many inexpensive digital tools and platforms can make the barrier to entry lower than ever.

These are some of my favorite affordable sites and services,offering help with everything from graphic designto email marketing, that I’ve used and suggested toentrepreneurs starting virtual side hustles and start ups. 

Tools to help you launch a virtual conference 

Have a great idea for a virtual conference? To prototype it and run a simple campaign to see if it resonates, you could start by building a new website on Squarespace ($12/month) or Wix ($13/month). If you need free stock photos or video, some of my favorites are platforms like Unsplash.com and VideoHive ($20 and up per video element).

A free account with SendInBlue will let you reach out to and send up to 300 emails a day to potential attendees to see if you can drum up interest.

3:58How to turn your side hustle into a successful business

Video by David Fang

Tools to help you showcase work skills

If you wanted to build a site to a launch a coaching or consulting business as a side hustle, for example, you could install WordPress (free), grab a pre-made web template from ThemeForest ($5 and up) or TemplateMonster, and get access to a variety of free, and royalty-free, graphics from StockSnap.io.

A host of free and value-priced WordPress website plug-ins can help you add functionality from newsletters to membership or subscription services to online courses you teach. You could even use solutions like Zazzle and CafePress to produce cost-effective promotional items.

Tools to start or market a creative business 

If you need an easily assembled online storefront, Shopify can help you get up and running in less than a day for $29/month. A host of services like VistaPrint, CDBaby, and CustomInk can quickly help you build out inventory or distribution. And if you’re looking to start your own fashion or record label, for example, Moo.com can help you print sharp-looking business cards ($19.99 and up).3:123 tips for starting a business during coronavirus

Video by Jason Armesto

Tools for sending out a newsletter 

You can use free or cost-affordable email newsletter and digital marketing software like MailChimp (free to get started, $9.99/month after) andAWeber (free for under 500 subscribers, $16.15/month after) to build and manage mailing lists and encourage audience sign-ups.

When it comes to logos and branding, I’m a fan of sites like Crowdspring and 99designs, and you can also leverage tools like Carro to determine which contacts have the most social media influence

Tools to help you self-publish your work 

If you want to write a book, you could type it up and have a cover designed by an artist on Fiverr.com ($5 and up) or on your own with help from a design platform like Canva. Formatthe cover into your document and send it to your Kindle E-reader’s email.

The file can then be sent to Kindle Direct Publishing or Lulu for distribution. Just like that, for less than the cost of a mixed cocktail, you’ve put your work out into the world to find a new audience.

Scott Steinberg is the author of  ”Think Like a Futurist″ and “Make Change Work for You,” and is the CEO of BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships.

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How to Grow Leads by Customizing Your Facebook Audience

Facebook advertising is a powerful tool. As part of a robust inbound marketing strategy, Facebook ads can super-charge lead generation.

We boosted a local client’s birthday business by incorporating Facebook ads and customizing Facebook audiences. Here’s how we did it.

Birthday Party Bookings Needed a Boost

facebook ad strategy

Children’s birthday parties are a key revenue stream for Pin Chasers, a family-owned bowling business. After great success with blogs, emails, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing, we focused our efforts on increasing birthday party bookings at all three locations.

Fortunately, we knew we were marketing something fantastic. Birthday parties at Pin Chasers consistently receive 5-star reviews on Facebook, and the parents evangelize online about their experiences.

Using Facebook Ads to Spread the Word

We needed to get the core message of budget-friendly, fun birthday parties in front of new people, in the right demographic, at the right time.

Facebook advertising is a natural fit for Pin Chasers’ target audience of mothers. In order to reach a wider range of people, we took advantage of what we knew about pre-existing customers to develop a custom audience.

With custom audiences, we targeted people most likely to become sales qualified leads.

Incentivize landing pages.

We implemented Facebook Ads that directed leads to a custom landing page offering a coupon for 15% off parties. The page’s copy focused on value propositions, and the structure of the page made it easy to immediately download the coupon.

Sleuth with a Facebook Pixel.

Facebook Pixel tracked information about Pin Chasers’ website visitors. The Pixel showed us what devices visitors used to access the site and let us gather audience insights. The most important function of the Pixel was building Lookalike Audiences to create a highly-targeted ad campaign.

Case Study: How We Increased AdWords by 480% (With the Same Budget) >>

Build custom audiences.

We set up 15 different custom audiences to monitor which performed best. The audience included people who had engaged with Pin Chasers’ Facebook page, visited their website, and several Lookalike Audiences.

The Lookalike Audiences performed the best, as they mirrored current customers most closely. These audiences targeted Facebook users who ‘looked like’ parents who booked birthday parties, signed up for camp or other children’s activities. Then we created radius targeting to make sure we were focusing on users within geographic range.

Here’s what Facebook says about Lookalike Audiences: “A Lookalike Audience is a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to people who already are… we identify the common qualities of the people in it (ex: demographic information or interests). Then we find people who are similar to (or “look like”) them in the country/countries you choose.”

Choose the right objective.

Facebook ads allow you to choose from Awareness, Consideration, or Conversion objectives. Awareness objectives are used to spread the word about your product or service. Consideration objectives get people thinking about your business and looking for information. Conversion objectives encourage people interested in your business to make a purchase.

For our purposes, we chose a consideration objective. The goals of a consideration objective are driving traffic to a landing page and increasing engagement, as well as getting app installs, video views and leads. We wanted to increase our lead generation by gathering information like email addresses and phone numbers from people who are interested in booking a party.

Format and design for the platform.

Facebook (and users) favor videos over images. With this knowledge, we used Animoto, a video creation program, to create quick, informative, and fun videos for the ads.

Enticing copy and compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) attract users and drive them to take action. We A/B tested to see which copy resonated best with our audience. We also tested the CTA buttons to see if Claim Offer was more effective than Learn More. It wasn’t. Learn More won out. Our audience wanted a bit more information before converting. Luckily, our customized landing pages delivered what they were looking for.

Use recommended automatic placement.

Facebook recommends Automatic Placement, which means Facebook shows your ad in places it’s likely to perform best based on your audience. This applies to Instagram as well as Facebook.  We followed Facebook’s recommendation and it did not disappoint.

Set budget based on conversions.

We set the campaign budget based on individual conversion worth, whether for one instance or for the lifetime of the customer.

This method allowed us to make sure we maximized return on investment (ROI). We set the daily budget and let it run for a month. At the end of the initial period, we analyzed and adjusted the budget based on the results.

Facebook Advertising Results

Before the Facebook Ad campaign, Pin Chasers was getting birthday leads, but none from social media. Once the campaign launched, leads from social took off! In January, our click-through-rate was over 4% and our click-to-customer rate was over 12%.

Once we started directing Facebook ads to the 15% off landing page, our birthday party leads increased 22.8% year-over-year.

Need help optimizing your Facebook ad strategy? Let’s talk.

5 Must-Have Resources for Anyone Looking to Make Money Online

July 17, 2020 4 min readOpinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a serial entrepreneur, I love building and creating. With businesses varying from agencies to SaaS and everything in between, I enjoy focusing on the tech space. I also love figuring out how to make my money generate even more money. Once you learn how to do it, it becomes the greatest business game you can play. 

In this quest for diversification and accumulation, I have become mildly obsessed with creating and selling courses geared towards teaching others how they can disrupt the online world in their own way (while making money the entire time). My first course, “How to Build a Million Dollar Website in 60 Minutes with No Code” (not to be confused with my latest book, The New Rich) has been an awesome foray, but I have also found other great resources by various entrepreneurs and business owners across the world focused on how to make money online. 

Here are my top five must-have resource picks for anyone looking to make money online that I’ve personally undertaken or read. 

Related: 5 Books to Read Before Starting Your Business

1. “Reloaded Hustlers Field Manual” and five other relevant courses including “Twitter Money” by Chris Johnson. I’m a big fan of how Chris approaches business. His courses are a no-bullshit guide on how to leverage the internet, find the right products, build community, sell online, price correctly for the most profit, create an email marketing strategy, build an online store and more. Highly recommended for anyone who wants a practical guide on how to make money online. 

2. “How to Buy, Grow, and Sell Small Companies” by Ryan Kulp. This online course is all about walking you step-by-step through the extensive process of business acquisition. With six incredibly detailed modules and more than $3,000 worth of bonus content in contract templates, this is a great resource for anyone looking to acquire a business for the first time. 

3. “Monthly 1k” by King Sumo himself, Noah Kagan. “Monthly 1k” is an online course with action-based steps and community accountability, and it’s a perfect resource for those driven to turn ideas into business plans. Throughout the course, you will learn exactly what you need to focus on in order to make a business idea reality — and hit that 1K-a-month goal. 

4. “No Code MVP” by Bram Kanstein. For those who don’t learn well by sifting through thousands of words of text, this video course is ideal. Not only is it packed with tons of practical lessons, but it allows budding entrepreneurs to learn all the mindset, tools and processes they’ll need to turn target customers into paying customers (without any necessity to learn code).

5. Make — Bootstrapper’s Handbook by Pieter Levels. This online handbook is for those who like to do things on their own terms. The “make” book is filled with continuously updated information on how to start small and grow big, including the best tools, processes, systems and ways to grow your projects. The indie hacker and solopreneur crowds comfortable with rolling up their sleeves to get down and dirty on their startup will have met their match with this ebook packed full of useful tips and tools.

Related: 19 Books to Read to Be Successful in 2019

While there are plenty of resources (both free and paid) to find on the internet, when you stumble on the right course, book or app for you, finding your niche in the online money-making world can becpme simple. It is important to note that there is absolutely no cure-all for getting money without work, and if you are falling for resources that tout as much, you’re running down a scamming path. 

The savviest entrepreneurs are the ones who are constantly learnin, being coached and taking courses. Using the resources I’ve named above is a great start to realizing just how far you can take your ideas, startups, and it’s another essential path to acquiring monetizable skills.