A Hands-On Primer to Tripling Your Email Subscribers, Doubling Downloads, and Rapidly Growing Your Business
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How do you find paying customers for your business??
Growth doesn’t just happen. Most of us will never luck our way into creating a viral post that brings in 100,000 new subscribers. And a $100,000 marketing budget won’t do you any good if you waste it trying 1,000 different “tactics” that don’t work.
Growth comes from deliberately creating a consistent flow of traffic to your website. After all:
More sales opens up all kinds of doors in your business. You can hire a team to free up your time. You can develop new products and services. You can invest in better software or technology.
And of course, on a personal level, more sales means more money for your family. It means more freedom for traveling. It might even mean being able to try new things like hiring a personal trainer or chef. (Those last two have been life-changing for me.)
All of this is possible using free or low-cost digital marketing strategies.
Digital marketing is anything you do online to:
Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing is measurable. Which means you can identify what’s working, do more of it, and stop wasting time on failed campaigns.
In boardrooms across the country, executives still look at their marketing budgets and ask:
But more than that, it’s insanely expensive. A single billboard in Atlanta, Georgia costs $3,000 a month. (Actually it costs $30,000 a month because you can’t just get a single billboard. The broker requires you sign up for at least 10.) And once you buy, you can’t make any changes to your ads without overhauling the entire campaign.
Digital marketing, on the other hand, is measurable, inexpensive, and easy to test and pivot.
Digital marketing begins with traffic. And when it comes to driving traffic to your website, there are two common mistakes:
Neither plan ever works. But focusing on a few key strategies can take a small blog that nobody reads and turn it into a multimillion-dollar business. I know because that’s what I did, and that’s why I created this guide.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to be strategic about digital marketing. You’ll discover how to start with the fundamentals, and scale up as you grow.
We’ll talk about 5 strategies that work:
But first, we’ll create a plan to get you started — whether your business is currently making $0/year or $1mm/year.
In this no-nonsense guide to digital marketing, you’ll discover:
Over the last 12 years, I’ve used digital marketing to grow my first company (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) to over 1 million readers per month. In January 2016, I launched a new brand called GrowthLab. Since then, GrowthLab has generated millions of dollars in sales, been read by hundreds of thousands of people, and been featured on Tim Ferriss’s blog.
But in the beginning, I had no clue what I was doing.
A few years ago, I Will Teach You To Be Rich was just a tiny blog nobody read. Want proof? Just dig into some of my earliest posts. I went months and months without a single comment. But through the years, I kept writing.
I kept improving my craft. And, most importantly, I figured out what people actually wanted to read. Over time, I got more eyes on the page, more comments and more shares.
Today, millions of people visit my blog every month. Yep, that dinky little blog — that nobody read — turned into a site with more than 1,000,000 readers every 30 days.
Hi, I'm Ramit Sethi, New York Times bestselling author, and founder and CEO of GrowthLab and I Will Teach You To Be Rich. I've helped millions of readers get ahead in life using psychology, tough love, and tested, step-by-step systems that work in the real world.
When I started, I had no idea what I was doing — and nobody read what I wrote. But as I grew, amazing opportunities opened up. Things like speaking in front of thousands of people and being on national TV.
Being in business for over a decade (and growing year after year after year) has also led to some awesome media opportunities and publicity, including a 6-page spread in Fortune magazine and being featured across from Warren Buffett in Forbes Top 20 Wealth Wizards.
I’m not telling you this to brag. But there’s a lot of horrible information out there about digital marketing.
Some of it is even dangerous. The unproven, short-term trends touted by some “marketing ninjas” not only damage your business now (think of all the lost time and money), but can do irreparable damage to your brand in the long term.
If you want to avoid jumping from one “shiny object” to the next, you need to be able to trust the person giving you advice.
In this guide, You’ll discover what it took to grow from nothing to an 8-figure business with only digital marketing. And how you can apply those principles to do the same thing for your company. What you won’t find is any super-secret push-button “magic bullets.”
Instead, I’ll show you real strategies that work. You’ll see what you should be doing right now (no matter where you are in your business) and what can wait until you grow (for example, I didn’t start experimenting with paid advertising until I’d had a business for many years).
As an added bonus, I also brought in a few of my expert friends, bloggers, and other writers. They're revealing their secrets for creating huge audiences and mobs of passionate fans.
Now, will you get a million readers overnight?
Let's be realistic: no. But can you get hundreds or even thousands of readers and build from there? Absolutely.
A lot of people will tell you, “You need to get affiliates. You need to do PPC. You need to get on social media.” You need to do all this stuff.
Jumping from one technique to the next puts you in what I call “Marketing Tactical Hell.” That’s when you waste your time on pointless tactical maneuvers that never move the needle in your business.
It’s important to remember that there are different stages in your business. In each one of those stages, you can focus on different strategies and tactics.
But you don’t need to overcomplicate things in the beginning.
I mean, let’s say you want to start going to the gym. On your first day in the gym, you’re going to stretch, walk on the treadmill, and get an idea of the gym’s layout.
You’re not going to go over to the bench press and lift 225lbs. That wouldn’t be a great way to start working out. Even if you could lift the bar, you’d burn yourself out, get frustrated, or just kill yourself because you don’t know how to hold the bar and you’d drop it on your throat.
Whereas, if you’d been training for a while — let’s say you were an Olympic athlete — you already know how to stretch, and you know the layout of the gym.
Your workout is going to look very different than someone who is just beginning.
Growing your business works the same way.
You’ll try different things at different stages of your business, moving from beginner to more advanced later on. But you can’t do it all up front.
This guide is your first step. We’ll walk you through the digital marketing strategies you need to focus on up front (making a plan, email marketing, and remarkable content). Master these and you’ll already be ahead of 92% of your competition.
Then, for more advanced readers, we’ll cover next-level strategies like social media, pay-per-click advertising, and affiliate marketing.
I’ve seen thousands of sites randomly “try out” digital marketing strategies one after another, hoping for the magic secret to traffic and sales. In Part 2, you’ll learn the ONLY way to skip trial and error and do what works from Day One — I’ll show you which specific digital marketing tactics to focus on first for lasting growth, and what to ignore.Take Me To Part 2
Maybe you’ve heard this before: “The money is in the list.” Your most valuable asset in business is a crowd of people who like you and have given you permission to email them. In Part 3, I’ll show you how to build your email list and what to send your subscribers so they look forward to hearing – and buying – from you.Take Me To Part 3
How do people like Tim Ferriss, Neil Patel, Brian Clark, or other big-name bloggers regularly produce high-caliber material that readers can’t get enough of? Their amazing content turned them into respected experts and opened up huge opportunities in their business and personal lives. Can you do the same? Yes, and I’ll show you how.Take Me To Part 4
Too much social media advice consists of vague and useless soundbites like “Join the conversation!” and “Engage!” In this advanced section of the guide, I’ll show you how to get real results — aka profits — from social, not just likes, retweets, and followers.Take Me To Part 5
You’ve seen “pay per click” ads on Google, Facebook, and Twitter. PPC is great for more advanced businesses because it’s very scalable and provides a predictable ROI. But the downside is that you need to know your numbers — or risk running ads that cost more than they’re worth. I’ll show you how to get started without using your money to guess what works.Take Me To Part 6
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Most people don’t create a digital marketing plan at all. They just come up with a marketing idea, pursue it blindly, and hope for the best. What happens is, they inevitably run into roadblocks and when they do, they’ve already spent so much time and money that they’re hesitant to change anything — and that’s where they get into big trouble.
Before moving forward with any of the strategies in this guide, decide WHY you’re marketing and WHO you’re marketing to.
I've laid it all out for you in this five-step digital marketing plan:
WARNING: DO NOT skip these first steps. I call this “The Shrug Effect.” When you say “know your market” everyone nods and shrugs — “Yeah yeah, Ramit, I got it” — but nobody actually does it.
A huge mistake is “trying out” digital marketing (running “just a few” Facebook ads, writing blog posts, or creating social media profiles) without first being crystal clear on WHO you’re trying to reach.
In my flagship course on starting an online business, Zero to Launch, I talk about the Immersion Strategy, which is a way to understand your customer better than they know themselves through deep research.
It’s easier to set up a bunch of websites and landing pages and Google Analytics than to actually understand people. But when you create a digital marketing plan and understand your customer up front, everything becomes easier:
There are three ways I teach my students to get inside their customer's heads.
This sounds easy, but it's not. However, the longer you practice the Immersion Strategy, the faster you'll be able to speak to your customers in exactly the language they understand.
But how do you make sure your market will pay? Take the Immersion Strategy a step further with this exclusive video from Zero to Launch.
In this video, I dive deep into the strategies, systems, and secrets you can use to check if your idea will make you money.
In this 13-minute Immersion Strategy video, we’ll talk about:
When I was an undergrad at Stanford, my plan was to teach my friends about personal finance.
I printed up all these agendas (double-sided, to save money), reserved spots, even got a bunch of my friends to say they would come.
It took me years to figure out why. Do you know?
First, I talked about financial literacy. Big mistake. People want more money, freedom, options. Nobody wants to be “financially literate.” It’s naggy!
Second, I focused on a group of people (college kids) who NOTORIOUSLY hate being nagged about money. It’s irrelevant, since they’re not earning it yet!
But like a delusional entrepreneur, I told myself that people “should” listen. Once you use the word “should,” you’ve already lost.
It didn’t matter how technically accurate my talk was. It didn’t matter what my friends logically stood to gain. I chose the wrong audience, and that was it.
It’s like you telling your friend she “should” break up with her horrible, no-job-having boyfriend. Yeah, she should…but she’s not going to. Not until she’s ready.
Same thing with digital marketing planning. You’ll see a bunch of people giving you tactical tips like “14 Ways to Make Money with PPC,” but one of the most important lessons you can actually learn is…
…GO TO THE BUYERS.
There are tons of looky-loos, especially online — which means it’s easy to waste your time and resources marketing to people that will never buy.
If you take away one thing about running a profitable online business from this guide, make it this:
You have to find people who will pay.
When you learn how to find the buyers, you’ll get these kinds of results:
This is not random. A huge part of your success in starting an online business comes from consciously choosing who you’re attracting and who you’re repelling.
What if you could find the people who already “get it?” People who are all-in, paying attention, and dying for you to share your special something?
Let me show you how in this video:
In this 6-minute video, we talk about:
When it comes to digital marketing, people tend to jump from one shiny object to the next — Twitter! Facebook ads! Blogging daily! All of these can make money, but only when done with intention. Most people never focus on a plan long enough to see any results. In fact, they often don’t even know the result they are looking for! (For example “Twitter followers” is not a result unless you’ve found a landlord that takes that as payment.)
The way to grow is to focus on the ONE result you want from your marketing plan. Do you want:
Once you laser in on ONE goal, what you need to do to get there becomes much easier to figure out. Then, when you reach one goal, you can apply what you learned (planning, timing, and focus) to checking off the next from your list.
In this 6-minute video, listen to Noah:
Now, I want to challenge you to do what Noah said.
Pick the biggest goal that you want to accomplish with your digital marketing plan. Maybe it’s to get 10,000 people on your list, make $25,000 in revenue, or get featured in a major publication like Forbes or the New York Times.
Whatever that goal is for you, declare it. And then mark your calendar for one year from today.
I work with a lot of people who want to start an online business. It’s a very exciting time for them — but it’s also challenging to know what to focus on, who to listen to, and what bright and shiny objects are worth their time.
So I ask them, “What’s your number one goal?” If they say, “I want to get 5,000 people on my list in one year,” then we have something very concrete to work with.
When they come to the group and say, “I was doing such and such on Twitter the other day,” the group will immediately call them out and say, “Is Twitter going to help you get to 5,000 people on your email list?”
In 95% of the cases, the answer is no. Twitter might be more fun than doing what it takes to get 5,000 email subscribers, but it’s not going to be a real win for the business.
Having that kind of focus is what has enabled me to grow my business from nothing 12 years ago to now being a million-dollar business with 30,000 students all over the world.
Limiting your options may seem scary, but if you do it, your chances of accomplishing your goal increase exponentially.
When you open the Maps app on your phone, what’s the first thing that happens? Before the route is laid out, before you even plug in your destination, the app pinpoints your current location. It’s impossible to map out your path before you know where you’re starting.
At GrowthLab, we approach online business as a SYSTEM.
That’s why we’re not digging right into marketing tactics and instead looking at high-level strategy. We figure out where we are. Map out the route. And then execute.
Every day, people come to me frantic and frazzled by all the details of their businesses.
Facebook algorithms, AdWords click-rates, Mailchimp delivery rates! No wonder they're overwhelmed! In this video, I'm sharing the secret to successfully operating your business — and your life — without getting overwhelmed.
In this short video, we learn:
Throughout this guide, I mainly share free ways to market your site. However, some of the more advanced strategies like Pay Per Click advertising cost money. It’s important when deciding which strategies to focus on to understand how (or if) you’ll make that money back.
That’s why I encourage you to focus on the fundamentals first. Get a good idea of your market, your audience, and your numbers. Then, as you grow, you can invest back into your business.
Every dollar that goes out of your business (including for digital marketing) should result in more than a dollar coming in. That’s a positive ROI. If you spend more on an activity than you make, that’s a negative ROI and you should stop doing it. It’s that simple. You need to know if a promotion is making or losing money so you can adjust accordingly.
Once you know your market, know your goal, and know what to focus on, it’s just a matter of simple math to create your digital marketing plan.
Here's how quant-based marketing works…
Let’s say the following two facts are true:
At the current rate, you’ll get 520 subscribers if you continue doing what you’re doing now. (10 subscribers/week x 52 weeks per year).
So to reach your goal, you need to essentially double your current subscriber rate.
To do that you have 2 options:
Do you see how now you have a solid plan to work from?
If you look at your numbers and decide that you want to double your conversion, you can ignore all the other shiny tactics and just work on getting more opt-ins.
If you decide to focus on traffic, you can use the digital marketing strategies that I detail in rest of this guide.
If more subscribers is your goal, I have an in-depth ebook on getting more email subscribers. Get the exact list-building strategies I’ve used to grow my list to over 500,000 readers here:
No worries. Let me send you a copy of the full 72-page ebook so you can read it when it’s convenient for you. Just let me know where to send it (takes 5 seconds):Yes! Give me my PDF
My friend John Lee Dumas runs the top-ranked business podcast Entrepreneur on Fire. He asks this famous question to all his guests:
“Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to earth, but you knew no one.
You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter are taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500.
What would you do in the next 7 days?”
To me, the answer couldn’t be any clearer:
Maybe you’ve heard this before: “The money is in the list.”
After 12 years of running an online business and generating millions in sales, I can tell you this is 100% true.
Here are 3 reasons why all your digital marketing efforts (at least at first) should be focused on email marketing and building an email list:
Too many marketers preach how to suck every penny out of your email list. Upsells, downsells, cross sells, “trip-wires” … the list goes on and on. Here at GrowthLab, we have a different approach to email marketing.
We want our subscribers to be excited to open our emails. Every single email we send out has to be valuable — whether the reader is ready to buy or not.
I have students that were on my email list for 5 YEARS before they bought anything. And we were here when they were ready.
How do we do it? How do we keep someone engaged for half a decade?
I’ve made a commitment to give away 98% of my material for free… and to make that free material better than anyone else’s paid stuff.
For example, I often offer free email courses to my list. The most popular was our 20X Your Potential Challenge, a course I co-designed with a former Navy SEAL on how to build mental toughness and overcome self-doubt.
Thousands of students have participated, sharing their experience with #ICanDo20X on Twitter.
The following 3 reasons show why mini-courses are a great form of email marketing, that benefits the reader first:
Anybody can buy a domain name, publish a few blog posts, and post on Twitter or Facebook. But if you want to build a real online business, with real revenue — one that pays you to share your passions with the world — you have to know how to build an audience. Not just passive social followers who “liked” you when they were bored one day, but engaged email subscribers who can’t wait to hear from you.
That means keeping those subscribers engaged, and converting them into paying customers.
This is by far the most challenging part of starting an online business.
Your click-through rate is how many people click a link in your marketing emails. Whether you send them to a sales page, a post to comment, a survey, or a bonus to download, click-through rate measures how people are interacting with your email. A high CTR means that people are interested in what you’re giving them. A low CTR means your readers may be skimming or ignoring your content.
I created a guide on how to turn traffic into customers. In this guide, you’ll learn:
You can get instant access to the guide here. Just tell me where to send it.
You know it when you see it.
From the opening words to the very last sentence, you can’t stop reading it. It effortlessly pulls you down the page. It intrigues you. It tells a great story. It makes you feel good.
When you’ve devoured the final word, you bookmark it and share it with your friends. Turns out, you’re not the only one who loved it either. At the bottom of the post, you see hundreds of comments. Thousands of social shares.
All from people praising the writer. All from readers begging for more.
Welcome to the world of remarkable content marketing.
You’ve seen awesome writing like this, right? Work that creates reputations and builds businesses.
Maybe you read people like Tim Ferriss, Neil Patel, Brian Clark, or one of the other big-name bloggers who regularly produce high-caliber material you can’t get enough of.
Their amazing content marketing turned them into respected experts, helped them build a loyal fan base, and opened up huge opportunities in their business and personal lives. And it all started with great content.
At GrowthLab and IWT, content marketing has been the cornerstone of our success.
Before email. Before social. And long before I spent a single penny on ads, I produced great content.
To this day, content is what keeps my readers coming back and new readers coming in. Content like my Ultimate Guides. I give more away in my Ultimate Guides than most bloggers offer in their paid courses.
Publishing remarkable content isn't some weird strategy that only worked for big bloggers like Neil Patel and me. Thousands of my students have grown their traffic with content marketing.
So how do you do this in your business?
Every piece of remarkable content mentioned above has the same 7 critical features.
Great content should have comments like these, from a post I wrote on getting a meeting with anyone.
Readers are excited to interact with content that they love. They comment on, reply to, and share your content.
Here at GrowthLab, we use Google Analytics. But no matter what analytics software you use, there are a few key performance indicators, or key pieces of data you should look at regularly. These KPIs give an overall indication of the effectiveness of your digital marketing. For blog posts, one KPI to track is the “bounce rate.” The bounce rate tracks how many people leave your site after visiting just one page. If your reader is engaged, they will click other areas of your site, so a low bounce rate is a good sign of remarkable content.
You can start using content to drive traffic right now (and it doesn’t cost anything to use content marketing). I break down how to make time and write, edit, and promote your own remarkable content in my Ultimate Guide to Remarkable Content. You can download the entire guide below.
Years ago, I actually hired a firm to help me with my social media marketing.
They posted those stupid inspirational quote board pictures, saying things like “If you dream it, you can do it.” Or:
When I logged on and saw that picture, I almost threw my laptop out of my window. Can you imagine me ever saying anything like that? After I explained that I would rather tie my own neck to an elephant’s tail and let myself get dragged for miles along a rocky desert, they continued posting sayings more appropriate for a life coach convention. I fired them.
That’s the problem with most social media marketing “experts” out there today. They give vague and useless soundbites like “Join the conversation!” and “Engage!”
But social media marketing is like any digital marketing strategy — you need to have return on investment. And trust me, there’s no ROI on generic, off-brand, inspirational phrases.
Marketers expect social media to be a “magic bullet” that will drive thousands of visitors overnight. There’s a reason that social media marketing is behind strategy, email, and content in this guide — social media should not be the first strategy you focus on.
There’s a few reasons for this:
In fact, for years, I didn’t do any social media marketing at all. But, as I learned from my friend Laura Roeder, once you have the foundation, social media can be a powerful force multiplier in your business.
You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) spend hours posting on social media. You can take the remarkable content you created in Part 4 and schedule it to automatically post on multiple channels. Many tools out there will do this for you. The two that we use at GrowthLab are Buffer and Edgar.
Buffer shares your content at the best possible times throughout the day on multiple social media channels.
Edgar draws from a library of posts you create, then schedules them at times you choose or times that your audience is engaged. You may have months or years of great content that your new followers on social media would normally never see — now your followers always get great content, and you don’t have to constantly come up with original posts.
Have you ever signed up for an email list through a website, hit the opt-in button, and been redirected to another page? We call those “thank you” pages.
Most people overlook this critical piece and leave a generic confirmation message on there. But you can turn your page into an engine that drives your viral loop across the web.
First, let me explain how we did it with a free 5-day course.
As usual, we sent everyone to a “thank you” page after they entered their email and signed up.
On the page, we embedded a tweet and Facebook post. And we asked readers to share or retweet.
Here’s what it looked like:
So on your “thank you” page, embed the tweet (and screenshot the FB post) and write a line or two asking them to share it.
The copy doesn’t need to be fancy. You can follow our example above and write, “Retweet on Twitter… Hit the retweet button, or click here to retweet.”
Or, “Share on Facebook…Click the share button above, or click here to share.”
You’ve got the foundation down. Next you want to get your fans to help you out. Send your email list a message announcing your sticky idea. Here’s an example of what we sent out:
Of course, your email list will be the #1 source of sign-ups.
But when you mention the free course, since it’s a sticky idea, something else happens. Your readers will want to spread the word to people who are interested in the same thing.
When they see the social sharing buttons on the thank you page, they’ll think, “I don’t want my friends to miss this!”
And with the option to share right there, they’re more likely to take action.
You can see the results for yourself: 474 retweets and 124 shares on Facebook.
For a company that didn’t focus on social media marketing until recently, that’s a lot. It also got tons of engagement and built a lot of buzz.
The friends of your biggest fans who see these retweets and shares will go directly to your landing page for the webinar or mini-course. And a good number of them will sign up, which means fresh names for your email list.
At GrowthLab, we set benchmarks for campaigns like this. On two recent ones, as I mentioned, we crushed our opt-in goals by 49% and 57%, just by using those exact steps.
You can do the same to boost your opt-ins.
Every post, on social media or otherwise (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Email — all of them) should have a call to action. This a prompt for your reader to DO something. Examples of actions are commenting, sharing, and opting-in. The CTA gets your reader involved and engaged with your content. If there is no call to action, they will read your content, move on with their lives, and forget all about you. By making them take action, you take the first step in building a relationship, which is the center of effective digital marketing.
No two pieces of remarkable content are the same. But there are a few key components that every extremely successful piece must have.
I show you exactly how to create content ideas for social media or evaluate the content you already have in a free resource, The Anatomy of a Viral Blog Post.
Enter your email below for instant access.
You wouldn’t believe how many people I know who run companies doing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in revenue with pay per click advertising.
And they brag about getting customers at $0.25 a click. They say to me, “It’s so good, Ramit. I have a scalable engine.”
What they’re talking about is going to Facebook or Google, spending $1, and making $2. That’s the dream. That’s when paid advertising really works.
“Pay per click advertising” is also called paid acquisition, PPC, or pay-per-click. It all means the same thing — the ads you see people running on Facebook and Google. There are other channels for pay per click, but the big ones are Facebook Ads and Google AdWords.
Paid acquisition strategies (like PPC) can work. But the key for you as a business owner is knowing which of these strategies to apply, and when.
For example, if you start off from day one spending $5,000 a month on PPC, you’re dead. You don’t know your numbers yet. You’re just throwing away money and burning it.
We spent years and years doing guest posts before we even thought about PPC. Follow our lead and remember:
Timing is everything. Don’t be in a rush.
Now, some businesses have cracked the code and done it beautifully.
But it’s difficult. It takes a lot of sophistication to know if it’s actually working.
I have friends who spend $5,000 to $25,000 a month on paid ads. And many of them don’t even know if they are making a profit.
How’s that possible? Because they spend $25,000 and then they make $40,000 — but they’re not sure if it’s from people who came through paid ads or from something else. They don’t have the tracking in place.
For successful pay per click advertising, you need to know your numbers. It comes down to one key number, your CPA.
The cost per acquisition is simply, how much money does it cost to get one paying customer? It’s easy to get distracted by other data points (likes, shares, clicks, conversions), but the ONLY way to calculate your return on investment is to know how much money you are spending for each customer. So for example, if you sell a $10 ebook using advertising, your CPA needs to be less than $10. That means if you spend $100 on ads, you need at least 10 paying customers (not just email subscribers) from the promotion for it to break even.
Let’s break down how we figure out our CPA and use that information to find out if we’re getting a return on investment for a sample Facebook ad.
Now that we understand the numbers, let’s dig into how to get started with pay per click advertising.
Facebook allows you to advertise to a very specific type of person — the kind most likely to buy from you. You can filter who sees your ad by criteria like:
When you’re ready to advertise on Facebook, you can use the information you gathered in the Immersion Phase (Find the Immersion Strategy in Part 2) to get very specific about who you target.
If you wanted, you could target females in your town under 35 who follow Ramit Sethi’s IWT to build an email list of potential brides.
The point is, when you get super-specific with who you reach, you avoid spending money showing your ad to people that will never buy from you.
(See how doing the work to understand your customer makes advanced marketing strategies — like paid media — easier to execute, and more profitable for your business? That’s why we encourage taking the steps in order.)
It’s a huge mistake to delay driving traffic to your website for reasons like design, colors, or font choices.
You can convert traffic to buyers with only the remarkable content you created in Part 4 and a simple website.
I recorded a 9-minute video that shows you the 5 components you need for a website that sells.
What happens when the big boys play together, when you see a guest post on a major media site? When you see an article on Lifehacker? When you see the New York Times citing an author or even letting an author write his own post on their blog?
These things don’t happen the same way that ordinary guest posts happen. There’s one distinguishing factor, and that is relationships.
There are a ton of sites out there about “affiliate marketing.” And to be honest, a lot of them promote tactics that may work in the short term, but cannot create a sustainable marketing strategy.
In this guide, I’m not going to talk about ClickBank or where to find people who will pitch your products to your list without knowing you. Just like anything, there is no “magic push button” business strategy, despite what the rest of the internet will tell you.
The truth is, for the people that are doing affiliate marketing right, it’s all about relationships. You may not have those today, but I’ll show you how to have them tomorrow.
This section is all about what happens at the highest levels — and it starts with content and building your email list (are you sensing a theme in this guide?). Personally when I started off, I would have killed to have known how it happens because it was all dark magic to me.
I want to take you behind the scenes and share what happens when big partnerships go down.
Check out this video for how this is done.
In this short video, I talk about:
Next, I’ll show you how to start the process and meet people who you’d like to have partnerships with.
This is trickier than you might think. We know people who’ve tried to schedule a call with a busy person, and after repeated back-and-forth scheduling emails, the busy person simply gave up and said, “Sorry, I just don’t have time.”
Your goal is to minimize the back and forth and make it easy for the busy person to find time to talk to you.
Here are five important things to keep in mind when you write the email:
By the way, don’t get offended by my use of the phrase “lower-status.” Let’s be candid: If you want something from someone else, in this situation, you are lower-status.
Whether it’s less famous, less wealthy, less successful, less important, or less busy, that’s just the way it is. Remember, YOU want something from THEM. It’s important to recognize this and work around the busy person’s schedule. That means:
You can’t ask them to work around your schedule, but at the same time you want to make it easy for them to say, “yes.” Don’t make them come up with a bunch of times that work. Instead, offer them a couple of different options for times that would work for the call. That respects their schedule, and leaves the final decision in their hands, but doesn’t require a lot of thought.
You wouldn’t believe how many people email complex questions to a busy person on a Friday afternoon.
Why? Why would you send something requiring lots of work to someone on their way out for a weekend?
The answer: “Oh…I didn’t think about that.”
If you don’t think about the busy person, you lose.
To maximize your chance of getting a response, email a busy person when they’re most likely to read and process it.
In other words:
Instead, think when they’re most receptive. Maybe at lunch? Maybe Sunday night when they’re prepping for their week?
Bad formatting can scuttle even the most helpful, interesting email.
Use paragraph breaks and bullet points liberally to make your email easy to read.
Also, send it in plain text rather than HTML so it can be easily read on a mobile device. For VIP emails, I like to send myself a test to make sure it’s readable and any URLs are clickable.
Lazy typos signal laziness. Use proper punctuation and capitalization.
Don’t use lower case “i”s or texting abbreviations. An email should be more polished than a text message.
Always proofread your email. Let the reader focus on your well-crafted message, not the fact that you still do not know the difference between “its” and “it’s.”
You wouldn’t think I’d need to say this, but I do.
If you keep those 5 things in mind, you’ve got a great shot at getting a positive response, but let me give you an example of these principles in action.
Let’s say a college student (low status) needs to email a CEO (high status). A great email would look like this:
Kevin Wu recommended I reach out to you. My name is Jennifer Clark and I'm a UC San Diego computer-science student.
I read about your firm's push into clean-tech solutions. At UC-San Diego, we've begun some interesting research here on the topic, and I think there could be a great collaboration.
Do you have time for a 10-minute phone call? If so, would any of these times work?
- This Wednesday (8/10) all day
- Thursday (8/11) any time after 1pm PST
- Friday (8/12) any time after 1pm PST
If those don't work, just let me know -- I can work around your schedule.
I can call your office line. Or if you'd prefer, my phone number is (555) 555-5555.
With a couple of tweaks, this email can be used to email any busy person in any situation.
There are advanced (and expensive) software platforms that you can use to track affiliates, but you don’t need these at first. These are 3 strategies you can use today
I love talking about guest posting because I’ve written guest posts on sites like Lifehacker, Four Hour Workweek, even The New York Times. All of them have been instrumental in helping me grow my business. So the strategy I’m sharing works and continues to work.
And I really want to share it with you because almost everybody does this the wrong way!
Watch this quick video for 3 strategies for effective guest posts.
In this video, we discuss:
One way we entice affiliates to help us build our list is by offering a dollar for every confirmed lead they send us.
Here’s how to do it:
The lifetime value is how much a customer is worth to you over time. Here at GrowthLab, our customers have a high lifetime value because they often purchase multiple products as their business grows. We already talked about cost per acquisition with a $10 ebook in Part 6. Let’s say your CPA for the ebook is $10. If that’s all you offer, then you are breaking even on the promotion and it’s a waste of time. But, if your customers upgrade to a $99 video course after purchasing the ebook, a CPA of $10 or more is great! Your customers have a LTV, or lifetime value of $109 dollars, meaning you’re getting 1000% ROI. Once you know your LTV, you know how much of a cut you can profitably offer affiliates to sell your products. The higher your LTV, the better deal you can offer affiliates, and the more the traffic in the market tilts in your favor.
An easy way to ask your friends and partners to promote a course is by offering them “swipe emails” to send to their list with a coupon code. You write an email selling your product, service, or event, and then they can edit for their own voice and list. It’s best when they add their own personality, because let’s face it, we’ve all received generic emails that we know the sender didn’t write himself. At the end of the email, offer a coupon code for a discount at checkout. That way, you can track where the buyer came from and you can offer an affiliate bonus without expensive software.
Why do we hesitate to buy someone a drink at a bar, delay sending in our job application, or avoid asking for help?
It’s a simple answer. We’re afraid.
We’re afraid of “bothering” someone. We’re afraid of rejection. And, we’re afraid of what happens after they say “yes.”
It’s the same way with affiliate marketing. We’re afraid to reach out and start forming these partnerships.
The truth is, if you’ve followed this guide so far, what you have to offer will be extremely valuable to them and their audience.
But, I’m not going to sugar-coat it, these bloggers have hundreds of people asking them for stuff every single day. So how do you cut through the clutter and get them to say YES — without seeming scammy, sleazy, or self-promotional?
I recorded a special video that shows you how to make an irresistible pitch (without the fear). Sign up below and I’ll email it to you right now
Whether you’re just getting started, or you already have a successful online business, you’ve learned some of the key systems and strategies of digital marketing and driving traffic to your site.
And you’ve seen how to implement these in days or weeks, instead of the years and years it took me (I didn’t use a few of the strategies in this guide until I hired a team to show me how).
What we’ve covered:
We also heard from experts in digital marketing:
And we deciphered some common digital marketing acronyms. Here are the ones you should know before you spend any money on marketing:
Now that you know the basics, I recommend two resources to continue mastering digital marketing and growing your business.
In this free email course, you'll get fundamentals of digital marketing delivered straight to your inbox. Every other day, you'll receive a new lesson — from brand strategy to marketing analytics to campaign management. Just like GrowthLab produces free material that’s better than other people’s paid stuff, General Assembly went above and beyond with this free course.
Click here to sign up, absolutely free.
I give away tons of free material about these topics. I even have a full course that takes you step-by-step from “no idea” to a successful online business. The course is closed now, but if you want to get a heads up when it opens again, enter your email below.
Join the waitlist, and in the meantime, I’ll send you a special video: How I Doubled My Revenue.