Write Great Headlines: Suck Your Readers In

Write great headlines and you will suck your readers in. The headline is the most important part of your content. The second most important part is your introduction.

Your headline compels people to click on your post, but your introduction draws them in so that they actually read the post.

If you’re sick of not getting a high level of engagement on your posts, this is probably the main cause.

Think of it like this:

  • Write Bad headlines – low traffic
  • Write Good headlines, bad intro – High traffic, high bounce rate (people leave), low time on the page
  • Write Great headlines, great intro – High traffic, low bounce rate, high time on page

Aim for the third scenario – write great headlines.

To help you achieve the third scenario, I’m going to show you 4 of the best types of introductions you can use in your content.

1. Embrace the fear of failure

Great introductions (to anything) connect with the reader on an emotional level. Emotions drive action. In this case, the action we want is for the reader to keep reading.

Fear is one of the strongest motivating emotions, and people will go to great lengths to prevent that fear from coming true.

How to write your own fear-inspired introduction:

Create it in three steps:

  1. State the fear of failure or cause of fear – Do this in a straightforward manner.
  2. Illustrate the fear – Describe the fear and make the reader picture it.
  3. Transition to a solutions – The whole point is to hook the reader with fear and then provide a solution that eases that fear. Write about how your content will help them.

2. No one wants to be left behind

Another big fear is the fear of missing out. The fear of missing out is what drives the frenzy over buying lottery tickets. No one wants to be the one who misses out if someone within your group of friends miraculously wins. The fear of missing out can be applied in a few ways:

  • Fear of being left behind – in niches like SEO, if you don’t keep up with the latest information, you can become obsolete.
  • Fear of missing out on fun – no one wants to miss out on fun.
  • Fear of missing out on an opportunity – people tend to be more interested if something is only available for a limited time or limited to a certain quantity.

3. Use AIDA to captivate visitors

You may have heard of AIDA before.

It’s one of the most famous copy writing formulas there is because it’s so effective.

First, what does AIDA stand for?

  • Attention
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

To start off, you need to grab the attention of your readers. How do you do that? Typically with a bold or surprising claim.

If you can use numbers—great, but they’re not required. The only goal here is to catch the attention of your reader. It may be a sentence or two that seem unrelated at first to your topic.

Interest is similar to attention, and you certainly need to maintain attention, but this is where you tie your attention-grabbing introduction to the subject of the post.

To induce desire, all you need to do is make the benefits of your content clear.

Now, what about actionthe last part of the formula?

You can interpret and use it in two ways.

First, you could get a reader to take an action right at the end of your introduction. Maybe you want them to get a pen and paper or open a spreadsheet. Or maybe you want them to answer a question and come back to it at the end.

If this applies, go for it.

The action in this formula typically refers to the end of the content, though. So, in your conclusion, you should make it clear how a reader is supposed to apply what you just taught them.

4. Benefit First – Show Me The Money

If your readers are impatient and just want you to get to the point and do it fast, then consider starting off with the biggest benefit of your content.

This is how you will attract attention, and if the benefit you promise is big enough, they will invest the time to read through your content.

For example, you could start an article about website redesign by saying:

If you redesign your website, you could make $3,000+ per month within 6 months.

Assuming you’ve got your audience right, they’ll be glad to dig a bit deeper to find out if your claim is true.

After that opening claim, you want to expand on and back up your claim. To continue the example:

I know this because I’ve redesigned many websites and those sites have earned me $3,000+ per month on average.

That statement lends credibility to the initial claim. Finally, you should close the introduction by explaining how the reader will get to the solution. In this case, something like this would work:

I’m going to show you what you need to know to move forward so you can start generating additional revenue.

Conclusion

Don’t spend tons of hours working on content and then just slap on a weak introduction. Make sure it sucks readers in and hooks them.

 

Facebook Bots: What Are They, Who Uses Them & What You Should Do About It

In April, Facebook announced the launch of the Messenger Platform – a new service that gives businesses the ability to build custom facebook bots in Messenger. This has extreme marketing potential because the facebook bots functionality would already be built into an active user base. Facebook Messenger has about 900 million monthly active users worldwide.

As Zuckerburg said in his keynote, “No one wants to have to install a new app for every business or service they want to interact with.” To understand the full potential, we have to define a few things.

What is a Bot?

Sounds like robot, but a “bot” is a generalized term to describe any software that automates a task. What’s special about the facebook bots you can now build on Facebook Messenger is that they’re created using Facebook’s Wit.ai Bot Engine, which can turn natural language into structured data. This means that the bots can learn and essentially “get smarter” with each interaction. This is a type of artificial intelligence (AI).

If you build a Facebook Messenger Bot, will people use it?

The answer is maybe. Users can search for companies and bots inside Facebook Messenger by name, but companies are definitely going to have to promote these bots. For more information on this, read find and contact businesses on messenger.

Examples of Branded Facebook Messenger Bots

1-800-Flowers

The example Mark Zuckerberg lauded in his keynote was the ability to send flowers from 1-800-Flowers without actually having to call the 1-800 number. A user, Danny Sullivan, subsequently tried it by sending flowers to Zuckerberg himself and documented the five-minute process here.

The bot took Sullivan through a few floral options and then confirmed shipping details.

Wall Street Journal

With the Wall Street Journal bot, readers can get live stock quotes by typing “$” followed by the ticker symbol. They can also get top headlines delivered to them inside of Messenger.

HP

HP created a bot for Messenger that lets users print photos, documents, and files from Facebook or Messenger to any connected HP printer.

 

Facebook IM

Facebook is releasing its own Messenger bot, a personal assistant name “M”. M can answer a wide range of requests — from restaurant recommendations, to complex trivia, to last-minute hotel rates in the city.

Its flexibility is due to the fact that M is actually a bot-human hybrid. As Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer told Recode: “It’s primarily powered by people, but those people are effectively backed up by AIs.” While the bots act as a first line of defense in fielding questions, the difficult questions are quickly routed to human assistants.

Should You Build A Bot?

This is a hard question to answer, but you can start with the following questions:

  1. Do you have a clear use case?
  2. Is your audience on Facebook?
  3. Can you support inbound inquiries from Messenger?

Do you have a clear use case?

One big reason that many companies failed when building business apps is that they saw it as just another version of their website. They didn’t take the time to study how being on a mobile device would change the types of interactions their customers would want to have with their company. Some tasks are just not well-suited for mobile. So when you think about building a Facebook Messenger bot for your company, remember to think like your customer. How would they use it? What do they want to achieve?

Is your audience on Facebook?

If you have an audience who uses Facebook heavily in their personal lives, they’re likely to adopt Messenger as a communications tool. And how they use Messenger may expand beyond how they use Facebook.

Can you support inbound inquiries from Messenger?

This, for me, is the most important of the three questions. Don’t open a communication channel with your prospective and existing customers if you can’t support it. Even with the automation of a bot, you’ll still need to prioritize time to 1) promote it 2) monitor any questions your bot can’t answer and 3) keep tabs on the overall customer experience you’re creating with it.

If you’ve thought through the above three questions and think you’ve got a good foundation for a Facebook Messenger bot then dive in. There’s certainly a benefit to being an early adopter in this space.

How to Sync Multiple Google Calendars to Your IPhone or IPad

Google Calendar is one of the best online calendars. I use it for work and play but recently had some trouble syncing the calendars I have view-only access to with my iPhone and iPad.  Follow these instructions and you will be fully synced in no time.

Here’s how to get all of your Google calendars working on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. First, make sure your Google calendar is synced. The process is the same on all devices.
  2. Go to Settings. Then open Mail / Contact / Calendars.
  3. Next, select Add Account and Gmail. If you have already added your Gmail account, then instead of Add Account, choose Gmail from the list.
  4. Toggle the Calendar switch to On.

Next you must choose which calendars to sync to your phone or tablet:

  1. To do this, you need to visit www.google.com/calendar/iphoneselect
  2. Make sure you are signed into your Google account. On this page you will see a list of all your calendars. Beside each calendar there is a check box.
  3. Tick the check boxes of the calendars you want to sync with the iPhone or iPad.
  4. Shared calendars that you don’t have administrative control over need to be selected individually, and the default setting is “Off”. This means that when a new calendar is shared, you will have to go back to https://www.google.com/calendar/iphoneselect and configure again.
  5. Click save.
  6. Open the Calendars app on your iPhone or iPad and wait for it to sync.

 

Use Answer The Public for Small Business Marketing

Answer The Public’s tool is completely free and has become an integral part of my content strategy. We use it to determine the topics and questions surrounding the primary keywords that we want to rank for. We then try to answer as many of these questions as we can with our content. This way, when Google is looking at which websites have the best information regarding the topic, we’re not only more likely to rank, but we also are more likely to convert visitors because we answer the most important questions they have.

Answer The Public is extremely easy to use. Just go to http://answerthepublic.com/ and type a category or keyword and make sure you have the correct country selected.

 

 

A PIN is Better Than A Fingerprint For Protecting Private Data on Your Phone

A PIN is better than a fingerprint for protecting private data on your phone. Most modern smartphones now have fingerprint scanners. They are great for adding an extra level of security to your phone and make it really convenient to log into accounts and pay for purchases. But it turns out that in the United States, they don’t help you maintain your privacy in front of law enforcement.

In October 2014, a Virginia court ruled that suspects can be asked to unlock their phones using their fingerprints. Apparently this wasn’t tested until this February, when a judge in Los Angeles issued a warrant requiring a woman accused of identity theft to unlock her iPhone with her fingerprint.

The key in this case is that had the woman used a pin instead of her fingerprint to lock her phone, she wouldn’t have had to unlock it for the police. This is because the Fifth Amendment, which protects people from incriminating themselves during legal proceedings, prevents government agencies from forcing people to turn over memorized codes. However, a fingerprint or any other biometric identifier, can be collected.

There are several ways to fool fingerprint scanners, including the use of tape, so if someone could find you, they could make a copy and use it to access your phone.

 

How To Make Your Small Business Look Big

There are clear upsides to having a small business. You are agile and can change directions on a whim. You don’t have to conduct focus groups or wait through months of testing. You’ve got autonomy, since no other company owns or controls you. Of course you’re not competing directly with the biggest firms in your industry, but there are a few tools that can help your small business look bigger online.

How To Make Your Small Business Look Big

Build/Redesign Your Website

Last year the U.S. Small Business Administration estimated that 50% of small businesses still don’t have a website. Without an online presence, your small business can go unnoticed by potential customers. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to create a small business website that looks like a big business website. In fact, many small businesses actually have more impressive websites than big businesses because they take advantage of the fact they are agile, nimble, and have autonomy. A new website is an achievable goal.

Plan Strategically

Strategic planning isn’t only for big corporations or non profit organizations. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where am I now?
  2. What’s the vision?
  3. What are the obstacles?
  4. What are my resources?
  5. What’s my strategy?
  6. What are my tactics?
  7. What will we monitor and measure?

Establish A Marketing Budget

Procter & Gamble spent nearly $3 billion in marketing in 2014! That’s more than any other company in the world. While no small business can even dream of matching that, there’s a cost to getting your product, service, or brand in front of potential customers and clients. How much do you need to spend to look big? It depends on your business and whether you are selling direct to customers or direct to businesses. On average, companies spend about 6 percent of their revenue on marketing.

Don’t Rely Exclusively on Social Media

Social media is all the rage these days and it’s true that it shouldn’t be overlooked. At the same time, it makes no sense to rely exclusively on social media. Some people do it because it’s mostly free. Success depends a lot on the industry and your target audience. If most of your target audience is on Facebook, then spend some of your time there. If you’re in a professional business and you need to connect with professional colleagues, I’d recommend LinkedIn. If you run a restaurant and you want to show people how great your food looks, try Instagram, which is also a great tool for connecting with teenage consumers. See which sites the big brands in your industry use, and use that as a guideline.

 

Cyber Security – Will Our Risk Decrease If We Have Fewer Devices?

This is a good question but I don’t think it’s immediately a cyber security question. There is definitely a correlation between the number of devices you have to manage and potential risk. And it’s possible there’s a cost savings by having a laptop instead of multiple devices as there are fewer computers that need to be serviced. But I think your actual cyber security risk goes up when you give people mobile devices. Laptops can be used in many unsafe places and their versatility might actually increase security problems.

The real answer is the educational one. If people make the right choices, then cyber security risks can be minimized.

Here are some pointers to help you create an action plan to strengthen your company’s defenses against hackers:

1) Failure to cover cyber security basics – software and operating system updates

2) Not understanding what generates corporate cyber security risks

3) Lack of a cyber security policy

As part of their cyber security policies, companies should:

  • identify risks related to cyber security
  • establish cyber security governance
  • develop policies, procedures and oversight processes
  • protect company networks and information
  • identify and address risks associated with remote access to client information and funds transfer requests
  • define and handle risks associated with vendors and other third parties
  • be able to detect unauthorized activity.

4) Confusing compliance with cyber security

5) The human factor – the weakest link

6) Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy and the Cloud

7) Funding, talent and resource constraints

Think of this security layer as the immune system of your company that needs funding and talent to ensure that you don’t experience severe losses as a consequence of cyber-attacks. A good approach would be to set reasonable expectations towards this objective and allocate the resources you can afford.

8) No information security training

Employee training and awareness is essential when covering your base in terms of information security.

Another quick look at the most common file types that hackers use to penetrate your system and trigger attacks that can lead to data leakage tells you what types of actionable advice you could include in your employees’ trainings on cyber security.

9) Lack of a recovery plan

Being prepared for a security attack means to have a thorough plan of what can happen to prevent the cyber-attack, but also minimize the damage if is takes place.

10) Constantly evolving risks

Polymorphic malware is harmful, destructive or intrusive computer software such as a virus, worm, Trojan or spyware that constantly changes, making it difficult to detect with anti-malware programs. That is why you should take into account that your company might need an extra layer of protection, on top of the antivirus solution.

The first line of defense must be ensured by a product that can act proactively to identify malware, block access to hacker controlled servers and stop data leakage, but also keep your system protected by patching vulnerabilities (usually, applications that are not up to date, such as Flash or Java).

 

Simple tips for getting yourself to appear more often in Google searches

The following tips will help you appear more often in Google searches:

  • Make sure your website is up to date. Make sure it says what you want to say about yourself and your company. If you can change the language every few months (or more regularly) do so.
  • Write a blog and post frequently
  • Contribute content on someone else’s blog as long as your site is linked
  • Get your clients and business partners to link to your website. Make sure the link language is consistent. .org’s and .edu’s carry more weight.

Make sure you have a Google+ page, get people to review you on Google+, create your Google local pages. Even though Google+ is not the success Google hoped it would be, Google is still dominant so Google+ content has Google search value.

What should we be using for virus protection?

This is a complicated question and the answer depends on how you use your computer. Personally, I haven’t used Norton or McAfee in years. Both of those anti-virus programs are extremely resource-intensive and make day-to-day use of the computer challenging.

I recommend the following:

  • Always update your devices. If there’s an update available, run it. Most updates exist because a security loophole has been identified. The bad guys look for the weakest defenses. Follow this for all of your devices – PCs, Macs, iPhones, Androids, etc.
  • Set up your computer so that you are not the administrator. Most programs – even the bad ones – need administrator-privileges in order to run. If you accidentally download something, it will prompt you for an administrator password.
  • Do not download programs that are free. There’s always a hidden catch. Nothing is free. You might be installing a malware toolbar (this is common) along with your free program.
  • Use Windows Defender if you have Windows 7 or Windows 10. Just use the built-in anti-virus software and uninstall your other programs if you have a newer computer running one of these two operating systems.
  • Back-up and prepare for the worst. Visit carbonite.com and use code TWIT.. Set up an online backup for your most critical documents and make sure you have copies of your operating system and other software.
  • Use common sense. If something looks fishy it probably is phishy. Don’t click links in emails that look strange or come from people you don’t know.

How to Build a Referral Program – Part 3 – Tools to Make a Referral Program a Reality

Tools to Make a Referral Program a Reality

If building a referral program sounds very complicated, particularly if you’re not a web developer and have no talent for online marketing, maybe this post will be helpful. Fortunately, there are a number of tools that already exist on the market for taking the complicated and making it intuitive:

  • GetAmbassador.com – One of the most popular and well-reviewed tools for referral programs online, Ambassador makes enrolling, tracking, and rewarding all easy to manage from a single, simple dashboard. You’ll particularly like the intuitive analytics that show you exactly where you’re having the most success.
  • Referral Rock – Here you can create, track, and expand upon referral programs to boost word-of-mouth sales. There are plenty of options here, including creating referral rewards, customizing the “friend offer,” and links to help you share information about your referral program on social media.
  • WishPond.com – If you’re looking for more social media engagement, WishPond helps you create landing pages, contests, promotions, and automation for leading platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Extole.com – Easy, simple, and intuitive—the exact kind of program you want if your focus is to make the process as navigable for your customer as possible.