Launching an ebook is a scary process.
When you finish spilling your blood across the pages, sharing your expertise and experiences, there is a unique product ready for public consumption. The work that went into your manuscript is only the beginning. The next step, marketing your guide, is the hardest part. At least, it was for me until I discovered the best kept secret in social media.
Please bear with me a minute while I share a little history. I promise to tell you the secret and how to use it in a bit. It’ll be worth the wait. I’ll even include the results from my tests.
“Social Media 4 Direct Marketers” (SM4DM) is not my first venture into the world of ebooks, but it is my most successful. Each of the guides I created has the elements required for a successful information product. They are written for a specific market. They provide actionable information for growing companies, improving service, and increasing profits. The people who bought them became active participants in my community. But, none of them came close to the success of SM4DM.
There were two differences – participation and promotion.
Previous efforts were created and released with limited views prior to the launch. Perhaps it was the fear of criticism or theft that kept me from reaching out. Maybe it was just lack of time. Whatever the reason, the guides were written and released without external review.
When SM4DM was finished (or so I thought), I reached out to a select group of people for feedback. A few didn’t respond to the request. The ones who provided assistance were invaluable. Here’s a quick shout-out to the people who gave their time to improve my guide:
Amy Africa’s encouragement and wisdom improved my focus, content, and marketing.
Ernie Schell provided detailed notes on things that needed improving and promotion.
Jay Baer reminded me that some people aren’t fluent in direct marketing terminology.
Lisa Petrilli provided the title, emotional support, and promotion.
Mack Collier offered suggestions and promoted it on twitter.
Nathan Hangen said that I needed to make my PDF “pop” and provided referrals to amazing graphic artists.
Sharon Mostyn helped me edit the manuscript, review the graphics, and promote the guide.
After a rewrite and graphic redesign, SM4DM was ready for a soft introduction. I chose to start slow instead of having a major launch because I wanted to test my marketing strategy. You can take the girl out of direct marketing, but it’s impossible to get the direct marketer out of the girl! If there is a way to test something, I’m going to find it.
A guide written to help people improve social media’s effectiveness and efficiency needs effective and efficient marketing. My tool of choice was Objective Marketer (OM) because of the scheduling and landing page features. My travel and work schedules don’t allow me to maintain a constant online presence. OM allows me to schedule my informational tweets so my available online time is spent on one-to-one interaction.
It was through the use and testing of this software that I discovered the secret.
I’ve been a fan of OM since first testing it last year. My only issue with the software was that it was in beta testing mode. Normally I avoid beta products because of the challenges that randomly appear. I rarely have time to test software. The feature rich tool reduced that resistance with scheduling options, analytics, and page frames. Sometimes during the testing process, it seemed that there were as many bugs as there were features. This always happens with new software. Problems appear when users push functionality beyond the programming limits. I’m very good at pushing limits so I found several challenges.
Beta users expect issues. They report them and wait for a response. It often comes with excuses or notification that the bugs won’t be fixed any time soon. OM was different. Amita Paul, the CEO, is extremely responsive. Most problems were corrected within hours.
My investment in testing OM was rewarded when I discovered the landing page functionality. Quite frankly, the other issues didn’t matter anymore because this one feature is a game changer. OM allows you to share content without sending people away from your site.
Did you get that? It is the best kept secret in social media.
It is so simple, it almost sneaks by without being noticed. Instead of sending your customers and prospects unaccompanied into the World Wide Web jungle, OM allows you to be their escort! They can go where you take them and find their way back to you with a click.
Navigating people away from my site (or my clients’) has always been a point of frustration for me. It contradicts everything I know about marketing. If the goal is to engage people in your community, how do you do it when you send them away?
I know all of the theories about how they’ll find their way back and be grateful for the detour. Some of them do come back, but how many get lost along the way? Why not make it easy? The landing page frames in OM allow you to simultaneously share content and guide people to your site and/or products.
The concept to frame the page is brilliant. You create a header that appears over the content you’re sharing. It can be simple with a link and a logo. Objective Marketer provides a form that allows you to add basic information. Or, with a little html, you can create a sophisticated header that features banners, imbedded videos, and subscription forms.
My first effort at framing was almost subliminal. I was very nervous about including anything remotely promotional. The frame included the Wilson & Ellis Consulting butterfly logo and links to our website, blog, and sales page for SM4DM (See red arrow on image of Yahoo! with my header):
Receiving the first click was quite exciting. Unfortunately, the excitement faded quickly. The first click was also the last one. Hundreds of impressions yielded only one click for a 0.05% click through rate.
The next step was to increase the prominence of the links and improve the SEO. Notice that the title is “Content shared by Wilson & Ellis Consulting”. This is text indexed by search engines.
It provided a better click through rate of 0.37% . The improvement was encouraging, but it wasn’t enough to celebrate.
It was time to get more aggressive. The boxed links were replaced with a promotional banner.
The response shot up to 4.54%. But, I wasn’t finished. The gloves were coming off. I added a blue background, social media links to the frame, and keywords to the title. “Content shared by Wilson & Ellis Consulting” became “Mobile Marketing Article shared by Wilson & Ellis Consulting.” Keywords were chosen based on the content being shared. “Mobile Marketing” is changed to “Email Marketing” or “Integrated Marketing” depending on the featured article.
Click through rates skyrocketed. They consistently range from 26.67% to 55.17%!
Sales of the SM4DM guide begin to increase, driven by the traffic generated from framed links. It was a heady experience that is sustainable because the story doesn’t end there. In true direct marketing form:
“But, wait! There’s more!”
Adding the title to the frame with specific keywords improves your search engine optimization. There’s been an increase to the natural search traffic to our website. Sales of the other guides are increasing. And there haven’t been any complaints about the header. It’s a winning strategy.
Whether you’re launching an ebook, promoting a product, or offering a service, adding a header is a great way to guide people to your website when you share links. Here are some tips to help you do it well:
- Create multiple headers to coordinate with the content you are sharing. The better they match, the higher the click through rate.
- Don’t make your header too big. People clicked your link to see the content. If the header is all they see when they land, you’ll lose their confidence.
- Test, document, compare, retest. Testing helps you improve with every link.
- If a printable version of the article or post is available, use it. This provides more visibility for your header.
- Add appropriate keywords (yes, OM has a place for that) with each header. Limit the list to six and don’t place a header on content where the keywords don’t match. (We don’t want to confuse the search engines.)
- Don’t be afraid to be creative, but keep it consistent with your brand.
UPDATE: Objective Marketer 3.0 has been released. It is out of beta and fully loaded to make your social media efforts efficient and effective!
Now get out there and start guiding your community. How do you think it will help your business?
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