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3 No-Nonsense Ways to Grow Your Business (Faster) in 2019

Growth is never effortless in today’s world of vast competition. Discover the most powerful marketing methods you need to grow quickly, even on a budget

Sam Hurley
January 28 2019

Throughout businesses of all sizes, growth is a core objective that is forever pursued.

At first thought, the ‘why’ may seem clear…

However, let’s briefly dig a little deeper and set the scene.

The following attributes of growth are all success indicators — and not only do they each translate into revenue —but together, they amount to the hallmark of any long-standing company:

Worthy profit margins that allow expansion.

“In a truly great company, profits and cash flow become like blood and water to a healthy body.”

(James C. Collins, Business Growth Expert & Author)

So, this means you must feed your company with the right ingredients to not only survive all phases of the business lifecycle, but endlessly flourish.

(Graph Source: Schenk)

I’m talking strategy, adaption, efficiency, integrity, and wonderful marketing that also creates customer loyalty.

A golden formula to remember, that isn’t easy to master.

“Only 58% of marketers say they are often successful in achieving their marketing goals.”
(Source: CoSchedule)

Healthy margins and repeat customers provide greater freedom/reinvestment of cash, while also piquing the interest of potential buyers if you decide to sell in the future.

It’s a big mistake to assume that profit margins only fall into the realm of sales, pricing and operational management.

Heck no!


Marketing plays a huge role, too.

Breaking down growth into two incredibly simplified, marketing-driven goals would look like this:

  • Attract new customers [revenue growth]
  • Entice existing customers to buy more [revenue + profit margin growth]

You might be amazed at how many times I don’t see the second one in action — or perhaps you wouldn’t be surprised at all, depending on how often you shop online.

I’m going to show you some of the most reliable and efficient marketing methods to achieve better margins while attracting a continuous stream of fresh customers at the same time.

Customers who stick around:

(Full Infographic Source: Bank of America)

And the best part?

Even if you’re on a tight budget, you will be able to apply these proven techniques to rise above your competitors — or at very least, begin building the foundations of a winning brand.

I’ll also include admirable examples from businesses that are already using these approaches in 2019, of course. Who better to learn from?

If you want to grow faster, utilize and sync these 3 bulletproof marketing strategies ASAP.

METHOD #1: Conquer All Industry Content

Content, content, content…

Regardless of B2B or B2C orientation, there’s just too much available for your target audience to possibly consume — which is why you need to really think differently about your content marketing strategy this year onward.

When it comes to assessing your content positioning in your industry or niche, ‘conquer’ is exactly the word to keep in mind.

Basically, you need to stand out like a fluorescent lighthouse that stands 1000ft tall above the sea of competition.

Why? Because content works when done right.

(Graph Source: CMI)

How exactly do you make it work? Coming up in a tick…

Before anything else, take a look at the current situation upon you.

The counter portrayed below runs on a formula derived from stats via WordPress alone, not to mention all the other platform totals!

And that’s solely textual content. Gasp!

These insane numbers undeniably correlate with quality. Time and time again, our web is saturated with overall poorly-deployed material that fails to offer memorable value to audiences.

I bet you already realize where I’m heading with this.

Businesses churn out mediocre blog post after mediocre blog post which they dreamed up, before haphazardly promoting them with fingers tightly crossed — the result of having not designed an overarching plan (or intended results).

Top-performing content marketers are relatively few and far between. Else, the internet would be filled to the brim with so much outstanding material, we would rarely be disappointed when landing on a page.

Yes, it can be difficult and it does require a high level of commitment and empathy.

“90% of top-performing B2B content marketers put audience’s informational needs first.”
(Source: CMI)

But, this needn’t faze you as a business owner and/or marketer keen to grow.

In fact, it should very much excite you — no matter your current size!

Here is your prime opportunity to become the giant fluorescent lighthouse.

(Infographic Source: Zazzle Media)

I’ll now split this eye-opening growth opportunity into 3 super digestible steps for you.

[Remember: We’re considering the scenario of you working to a budget. You can easily follow these instructions to research, create, distribute and analyze content — even if you’re a small start-up and don’t have masses of cash in the bank.]

Fast Track Competitor Research

No matter how new you are to the market, or how successful you’ve been after 25 years, there is always more to learn from your competition.

Never become complacent, because complacency kills businesses.

Let’s imagine you’re the owner of a SaaS (software as a service) company that sells Social Media Management tools.

Due to the intensity of this particular market and the sheer volume of social software available today, it’s an ideal example to demonstrate how a robust content strategy can still lead you to victory, despite these tough conditions.

Begin your competitor content research by exploring our old friend Google, like this:

“social media management” “blog”

Any search query in quotation marks tells Google you want results that specifically contain these words and/or terms, exactly how you write them.

Take the first 10-20 results, and open them all up in separate tabs.

The top results in Google are only there because the marketers behind them know how to create and optimize awesome content.

And because your search 1) shows these exemplary brands that are 2) entirely related to your business offerings, you can bet your content on their material being well-suited to your own target audience.

Don’t forget this!

Competitor info is easy to gather, and can save you heaps of time.

Couple it with your own audience research, and you’re already halfway there.

Take note of the top blogs / websites that appear in your Google search, and also all the other blogs / websites they mention in their material (you’ll notice a few of the pieces in this example display lists of authoritative Social Media blogs to visit.)

By now, you could easily have 50 shortlisted sites and blogs to weigh up. That’s a lot of variety and a good bird’s eye view of the content landscape, acquired in just a few moments…

Next, try a search like this:

“social media management” “top tools”

Again, this may uncover tons more competitors and blogs for your analysis.

Keep switching up your Google queries, while keeping them 100% relevant to your industry.

Alongside all URLs found, jot down the most common content topics, subtopics, types and formats you’re seeing throughout the uncovered blogs:


Content Topics
Social Media Management
Social Media Tools
Social Media Marketing

Content Subtopics
[AUTOMATION] = Guide: How To Cleverly Automate Social Media Management
[TWITTER] = The Best 25 Slickest (& Free!) Twitter Tools Available To You
[EMOTION] = How To Boost Your Social Media Marketing Strategy by Using Emotion

Content Types
How-To Articles
Technical Deep-Dives
Influencer Roundups
Seasonal
Emotional
Brand vs Competitor
Reviews

Content Formats
Infographics
Videos
Articles
Downloadable Content
Ebooks
Interactive Content
Quizzes

The simple action of writing this down is incredibly helpful.

Use an Excel spreadsheet on Google Drive to keep track of all your findings, edits and progress in real-time, sharing it live with any team members so everyone is on the same page.

Now, use a free trial of the Buzzsumo ‘Content Analysis’ tool to confirm your topical research and gain insights from its masses of data.

To be absolutely certain (and to get even more insights!) use a free trial of Mondovo’s ‘Bulk SEO Checker’, where you can input URLs in bulk from your spreadsheet.

You’ll be able to quickly see the absolute best-performing URLs, which you can then deeply analyze to reverse engineer what their marketers have done to achieve such success, while also recording every website that’s linking to them (so you can attempt to win similar backlinks for SEO in future).

Don’t you just love free trials? ☺

Finally, combine all your data — and based on the obtained metrics, tick only the very best examples to emulate:

Be sure to also double check a sizeable portion of the link sources for quality!

Plug the URLs with top metrics into reliable keyword research tools to discover how much relevant organic (+ other) traffic you could gain for their ‘themed buckets’ of search terms.

e.g. Focus keyword: Social Media Management

Related long-tail queries: How to save time on Social Media for business, Best social marketing ideas for 2019, Fastest way to grow a company Facebook page, How to generate more revenue using Social Media

You can analyze competitor URLs to find this information using free trials and/or limited functionality within LongTail Pro and SEMrush.

It’s all about concentrating your efforts on substantial, monetary-based wins that aren’t too far out of reach.

Note: Closely align your targeted search terms with user intent data, not second guesses.

Now, here comes the fun part…

Unrivaled Content Creation

How do you beat your competitors’ blog material?

Make your content bigger, better, and more valuable than anything else that exists on the same topic.

The work you invest now will always pay off in future, over and over again.

Booming profit margins for the win!

Think how much ongoing visibility and business your competitors are earning via the content you’ve found on Google.

(Graphic Source: Moz)

It doesn’t have to be this way — you can grab a big slice of that traffic and revenue if you relentlessly aim to conquer their content.

You have two options here: 

  1. Create the content yourself
  2. Hire somebody to create it for you

 

Clearly, option 1 is favorable for margins if you can accommodate.

Depending on the most popular format of content consumption in your industry, this may be easier for some, and harder for others.

You can always test awesome written content as a trusted staple, then diversify later.

No matter what you do, make it so dazzling that visitors can’t get enough.

(Distribute the hell out of it, too.)

You’ll be glad to hear that it’s possible to dominate any aggressive industry, like Brian Dean accomplished in the ultra-competitive SEO environment — with just 61 pieces of well-optimized blog pieces to date.

He coined the term ‘Skyscraper Technique’, with which he single-handedly tops existing material on multiple levels, in order to rank higher than brands of colossal resource like Entrepreneur, Moz and Search Engine Land — websites that consistently publish hundreds of blog posts!

On the same lines as our ‘Social Media Management Tool’ example, check out Buffer’s success.

These guys KNOW the value of conquering content, because they built insane growth using these same techniques.

If there had to be one single definition of monster growth, Buffer is definitely it:

(Full Interactive Chart, Here)

So, if you want Google to rank you higher and you want massively engaged visitors who become customers, follow these rules:

  • Your visitors must land on your pages and be astounded by value and the experience your website provides
  • Your content must be unquestionably comprehensive (and ultimately useful to their needs)
  • Your content must be unique in a way that makes it memorable and highly shareable
  • Your content must be produced exceptionally well
  • Lastly, you need powerful backlinks from popular, relevant websites

Start the ball rolling by reaching out to high-authority blogs to see if they will link to your amazing content (and/or you can offer them guest blogs for their site), then continue to build your brand in order to gain ‘natural’ links elsewhere.

Actionable Content Analysis

If you don’t measure content performance, you won’t know what areas need improvement — and you’ll also miss out on vital feedback, in terms of data.

Essentially, your audience will automatically provide you with feedback in the form of actions. It’s up to you to pay attention to these actions, and tweak your content strategy to suit!

Don’t just keep producing and distributing material ‘in the dark’, even if it appears to be working…

Most businesses use standard Google Analytics to make sense of data (free of charge), but you can also go premium and purchase tools like Kissmetrics, Optimove, CrazyEgg, HotJar or Heap Analytics.


They make it even easier to understand how your website visitors are behaving.

Utilizing these tools, monitor the following points of analysis as a starting point to gain deeper insight into the value of your blog content:

  • Total visits/users to page
  • Average engaged time on page/site
  • Pages per session
  • Scroll depth/speed (Hotjar offers this)
  • Return / new visits ratio
  • Total referral traffic / top referrers
  • Social share button clicks (using Event Tracking in Google Analytics)
  • Social shares/platforms to which they are shared (using Buzzsumo)
  • Author profile clicks
  • On-page comments
  • Conversations (across Social Media and community hubs etc.)
  • Earned backlinks
  • Intent-focused Google rankings progress (try a free tool like SpySerp or go premium with SEMrush)
  • Content references / press mentions
  • Goals / conversions / leads (content downloads, email signups, direct contact etc.)
  • Acquisitions (new customers gained)
  • Engaged customers (using email tracking and User IDs in Google Analytics, or Optimove for truly advanced analytics)

As you gradually assemble a content bank of numerous pieces, you can then compare the above metrics, side by side. Firstly, by time, then by topic type.


For instance, measure performance of one content piece over 3 months (month by month), then take a peek at how this performance compares to another piece of a different topic, over the same time span.

Consistently use data to take well-informed action — enhance worst performing material, while building upon the success of your top performers.

e.g. Shorten/optimize a video that isn’t watched for longer than 11 seconds, then measure

e.g. Add 2 more ‘subscribe’ forms to an article that attracts thousands of visitors per month

Perhaps stop covering some subtopics entirely, while creating additional subtopics that stem from effective main topics.

e.g. Main Topic = Cleaning Your Home

Subtopic = Vacuum Maintenance

There is always more you can do to grow your sales + profit margins.

Your content assets are evergreen tools you can use to win customers again, again and again. And you must!

Focus intensely on making a little become great, rather than creating a shed load of content that lacks real quality.

Never let all that hard work go to waste, either. The more internal resource you regularly consume, the greater the squeeze on your profits and/or time allocation if you’re doing it all yourself.

This = Anti-growth.

METHOD #2: Build A Thriving Community

You’ve now absolutely owned your industry by creating incredible digital content that sets you apart from the rest.

Wouldn’t be a great shame to let all that valuable traffic go to waste? All those people hungry for your material. People who also form your target customer base and aid your approach to marketing…

“64% of companies state that ‘brand community’ has improved their decision-making.”
(Source: Potion)

Well yes, it would be such a shame!

(And an unforgivable crime against conversion.)

In this context of business growth, publicly-available content can be deemed as the mere surface of your growth-nurturing machine — the shiny ‘top layer’ that exists to attract more intimate interaction — because it’s in your community where higher profit margins are truly built.

(Graphic Source: Lucid Press)

Why?

Think about it like this:

  • Publishing content and praying that people come back to you once in a while is not a strategy
  • Our world is crazy hectic, which means your business is just another in a sea of many (no matter how you feel about it)
  • When you form a community around your company, people actually begin to remember your brand
  • When people remember your brand, they return
  • When they return, they have more chance of purchasing
  • Even after they’ve purchased once, your community aspect constantly reminds them they are closely part of your appreciative brand, so they are much more likely to buy again
  • This means you don’t need to start at marketing square one each and every time — these people will remain warm

In this enviable scenario, you not only make the most of your existing customers; but they end up becoming so adoring of your brand that spreading your good word occurs without you even needing to ask.

How do you do it?

Take a leaf out of Zest’s book of marketing wisdom.

The brand that primarily offers a content-boosting tool dedicated itself to nurturing a loving community that sends praise at every opportunity.

Yam and the ‘Zesteam’ centre their efforts on some core brand traits:

  • Manual and personable communications with everybody
  • Maximum authenticity
  • Value in every touchpoint
  • Community decision-making
  • Community involvement

Don’t just take my word on the last bullet point there…

See for yourself! 😀

Yep. That’s my face shown there, and this shared love is what every community builder should strive for in their quest to achieve brand intimacy.

Zest also applies deeply honest blogging on Medium along with 1-2-1 audience contact.

This humanized approachability sets the team apart — and has undoubtedly played a substantial role in the brand’s rapid growth over the span of just a couple of years.

PostFunnel is certainly another key inspiration to take into account:

Notice the difference in response between respectful and appreciative brands like this, and those that don’t bother to engage their audiences, or even sadly proceed to annoy them?

I’m sure you will have come across them at some point, and you never forget crappy experiences!

Community building has roots in every single area of your business, and it will affect the rate of your growth, either negatively or positively.

It’s your choice…

Actions To Take

There’s no right or wrong approach, because it all hinges on your audience type and their unique preferences.

You can simply ask them, if there are gaps in your analysis.

That said, here are a few additional ways to implement a community component into your business:

— Launch a private Facebook group
— Create and/or optimize your entire email marketing strategy (up next)
— Plan an ambassador campaign
— Launch a Twitter chat with distinctive hashtags
— Create a custom forum on your website
— Promote an exclusive Slack group
— Interview members of your audience and/or customers
— Feature member stories and experiences
— Offer behind-the-scenes tours and other insider goodies
— Send out branded swag to your loyal supporters

Don’t be overwhelmed, just start off small and figure what works best for your audience and your capacity.

It could be something as simple as becoming more personal and really getting to know your audience on a deeper level, making them feel part of your club.

e.g. Yam from Zest masters this, even considering his highly-active life as CEO of Zest:


It needn’t be rocket science!

The impact of this devotion will set you apart from your competition and transform audience members into raving fans.

The one main consideration to keep in mind:

Communities you build on third party platforms such as Facebook and Twitter don’t fundamentally belong to you — if anything happens to these platforms or they switch up strategies, it could cause you headaches in the long run.

If you can, it’s always best to own your audience in a way that absolutely cannot be taken away from you.

Think: Owned website forums, networks and communities, email marketing subscribers, and relationships so strong that people will find you regardless of what happens to any communication channels. ☺

“Customers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher lifetime value, stay with a brand for an average of 5+ years, and will recommend them at a much greater rate.”
(Source: Motista)

Sturdy loyalty like this paves the way to repeat business.

[If you do wish to go all out and spend some cash in the process, here is an array of premium community platforms for you to investigate.]

METHOD #3: Deliver MAX Value ‘Through The Funnel’

Each community member should be treated like gold dust; they are very special to your business, now and in future.

Whether an email subscriber, forum member, social follower or customer (or all of these) — their journey with you never ends.

You may refer to it as a funnel, customer journey map, or a combination of the two.

But all that really matters is that you keep these loyalists engaged, entertained, and in a complete state of advocacy throughout every interaction your brand.

(Infographic Source: Business 2 Community)

Provide a seamless, continual, massively valuable experience to these people and you will enjoy the same level of value returned.

[On that note: Reciprocity is a natural human response that triggers happy emotions for both parties — so apply it ASAP.]

Generally, you can visualize a traditional marketing funnel like this:

Top of the Funnel: The awareness stage. At this early point, people are seeking answers, resources, data and insights etc. They will often be searching across multiple places.

Middle of the Funnel: The consideration stage. People may have already found your content to be superior and have now become leads. They are questioning whether your products/services are a good fit for their needs.

Bottom of the Funnel: The conversion stage. People are ready to buy, they just need helpful direction, encouragement, and perhaps an offer they can’t refuse — else they could drop out or even choose a competitor.

Of course, different types and formats of content suit each phase of the funnel.

Here’s an example of relevant content mapping for a B2B model:

Awareness Phase

  • Social Media Posts
  • Infographics
  • Blog Posts
  • Landing Pages
  • Free eBooks

Consideration Phase

  • Comprehensive White Papers
  • Exclusive Webinars
  • Tailored Email Marketing
  • Personalized Videos
  • Input from Brand Advocates

Conversion Phase

  • Free Trials / Samples
  • Case Studies / Reviews
  • Free Consultations
  • Live 1-2-1 Videos
  • Demos

But, it doesn’t end there…

Not when we’re talking about returning customers and better profit margins!

‘Once and done’ is yet another result of anti-growth mentality.

This is the type of updated funnel you should be working towards:

(Graphic Source: Aweber)

The modern marketing funnel never ends — it’s an infinite loop that stands to serve both your customers’ happiness and your business’ expansion.

“Profits rise as a customer’s relationship with a company lengthens.”
(Source: HBR)

Your first sale from one customer is to be deemed the first of many.

Think of business this way, and you’re likely ahead of numerous competitors before you’ve even made any moves.

You should also translate the above funnel into a sentiment-based model, the concept perfectly visualized by Jeremiah Gardner:


With the above in mind,  it’s time to merge everything from method #1 and method #2 into a spectacularly valuable, content-fuelled process…

A process that takes people from being random strangers to customers who actually feel connected to your brand — in a way they would usually feel towards a friend.

Actions To Take

Remember, it’s your audience’s preferences that take priority.

How will you regularly communicate your mega value, and point them towards your content housed elsewhere?

Their age and your particular industry will dictate, but here are a few digitally-oriented ideas for sharing your material with the masses:

— Facebook / Website Chatbots
— Custom Mobile Apps
Push Notifications
— YouTube Subscriptions
Remarketing/Retargeting
— Email Marketing (still one of the most profitable channels to date!)

The other channels and mediums below aren’t quite as ‘private’ like email; they don’t require much (if any) evident exchange of trust in order for communication to take place.

This is why it’s so damn powerful for your marketing funnel.

 (Graph Source: Nielsen)

The psychology of handing over an email address is what makes email marketing special. It’s a transaction in its own right — and this is the beginning of a relationship between brand and subscriber…

Brand and future customer.

Experiment with various channels including WhatsApp or Telegram, but it’s a safe bet to keep email at your core.

“Active email accounts are expected to hit 5.6 billion by the time 2019 rolls around. Gmail alone accounts for one billion subscribers.”
(Source: Omnicore Agency)

You can try the budget-friendly Mailchimp if you’re just dipping your toes, or explore a list of premium options.

Check out this clean example of a well-designed email template to encourage funnel progression, sent out to Invision’s existing leads and customers:

Measure which type of email format works best for your subscribers.

Did I ever mention that the entire world revolves around your audience? 😉

Finally, the delivery of your collective content must be exceptional for the desired results.

At every stage of the funnel, and every brand touchpoint — people are to be left feeling more than satisfied.

Offer:

MAX VALUE in your opening communication.
MAX VALUE in the destinations you send them towards.
MAX VALUE in their memories of your brand.

Break down ‘value’ like this:

#1: Education (what they learn)
#2: Evidence (why they should trust it)
#3: Action (how they apply it)

Initially test all your content by asking yourself if you would be impressed with it…

And answer honestly!

You need to be totally brutal to improve.

Would you sense connection?
Would you want to buy?
Would you tell your friends?

Enhance brand connection and feelings of exclusivity by sending hidden content to your subscribers — rich material only available to your private members.


You can ‘gate’ content this way using affordable WordPress plugins.

Keep track of your audience’s micro and macro actions at every stage, and you will be able to enhance their journey as you grow with them.

An interesting new funnel analysis and conversion tool to keep your eye on is Sython:

It’s invite only at the moment, so grab yourself a spot…

Because in-depth analysis is the holy grail of remarkable marketing.

As a business owner, marketer, writer or growth enthusiast — our work is never complete if we wish to surpass the competition, make our audiences truly grateful, and build a brand of massive success.

Looking forward to seeing yours fly high this year onward! 😀

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Sam Hurley

Sam is a passionate 'people connector', Personal Branding expert & Founder of OPTIM-EYEZ. He has achieved success for SMEs, national and international organizations, while being ranked as the world’s #1 digital influencer by Webinale, #2 most influential digital marketer by Onalytica and world’s #3 content marketing influencer by ScribbleLive. Sam loves a high-octane action movie and his all time favorite supercar is the Lamborghini Aventador! Catch him on social for cosmic amounts of Digital Marketing tips.

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