Category Archive: Networking

Smart Social Networking Stragtegies

Social Networking

Want to increase your traffic?

How would you like to increase your traffic and conversions?

Are you really taking advantage of social networking?

Many people think they’re covering their bases by setting up a Facebook page and a Twitter account.

But there’s much more (and maybe less!) you can and should be doing to maximize your traffic through social networking.

New In-Depth Articles

Today I’ve added three new pages to our site with in-depth information and tutorials. The first page, Promoting Your Site Through Social Networking, covers the best ways to get more visitors through smart social networking. The second page is a detailed tutorial on Enabling and Increasing Blog Subscriptions, with code examples you can copy and paste for use on your blog today. And the third page is another detailed tutorial, How to Build an Email List, again including code you can copy and paste to use on your site now.

New social media is the rage today, and it does have its place. But giving up on old school social networking is a mistake, as it not only creates long term value for your business and your visitors, but is also a great way to increase traffic with more engaged users. Check out the articles above to make sure you’re not missing out.

Are You Losing Subscribers?

Email List Management

Want More Email Subscribers?

If you’re forcing potential email list subscribers to double opt-in on web form submissions, you’re losing subscribers.

Email list management companies like Aweber and MailChimp allow you to add sign up forms to your website so visitors can receive newsletters or subscription material. (See my sign up form at the top of the right sidebar as an example.)

But the default settings are not user friendly. I’ll show you what settings you need to change to make the sign up process easier and get more confirmed subscribers.

Aweber vs. Mailchimp

The default settings for both Aweber and Mailchimp are such that when a visitor enters their name and email address in your submission form, they then get a message to check their email and click a confirmation link in order to confirm or double opt-in. There are a few problems with this.

  • A significant percentage of visitors will not bother to take the next step.
  • The confirmation email is often a bit delayed, so the visitor abandons the process.
  • The confirmation email is so badly formatted and worded, that the user thinks it’s spam.

Take a look at the Aweber confirmation email for example:

Aweber Confirmation Email

This Is Terrible

Not only does the format of the confirmation email look terrible, but many recipients are going to think it’s spam. Your visitors think they’re getting an email from you, but it’s asking them to click a strange looking URL at aweber.com.

Those of us who work on the web for a living may not have a problem with it, but we’re not the typical user. Most internet users have no idea what a URL or web browser even is! And the double opt-in email is asking them to copy and paste into a web browser if they cannot click the full URL. It miserably fails the Don’t Make Me Think test. Yet, every internet marketer and SEO I’ve submitted my email address to is using these default settings.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Unfortunately for those of you using MailChimp, they don’t offer it. With MailChimp, you cannot disable the confirm email.

Why You Don’t Need Double Opt-In

The email list management companies give several reasons why you should use double opt-in:

  • People may sign up other people that don’t want to be on your list.
  • People may mis-type their email address.
  • People will enter fake email addresses.

So what? If someone signs up a friend who doesn’t want your emails, they can simply click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the email. If someone mistypes their email address…well, you wouldn’t have gotten it anyway. And if someone enters a fake email address, again, no harm to you.

And, none of the above may even happen frequently. But there is one thing that will happen frequently if you force your visitors to get and follow the poorly formated confirmation emails:

You’ll get less subscribers.

Sure, there is some chance that people will enter email addresses that are not their own, and they may occasionally get marked as spam. But if you’re sending out quality messages, I don’t see this as reason to make your visitors jump through useless hoops.

How to Disable the Double Opt-In

As I mentioned earlier, with MailChimp there is no way to disable the double opt-in emails. With Aweber there is, and it’s very easy to do.

First, click on the “List Settings” link in under the “My Lists” tab:

List Settings

List Settings

Then, click on the “Confirmed Opt-In” tab:

Confirmed Opt-In

Confirmed Opt-In

And set the “Require Opt-In On Web Forms” to “Off”:

Required Opt-In Off

Required Opt-In Off

That’s it. You’re done.

And here’s the cool thing. Aweber will log IP addresses of those who fill out your web forms, and they’ll send the confirmation message anyway to anyone who enters more than one email address in the form. So if someone does enter their own address and then attempts to enter another, that second person will have to opt-in. This will prevent most problems you could potentially encounter due to people entering email addresses that are not their own into your form.

Are you currently using double opt-in on your web forms? If so, let me know in the comments if you’re seeing significant numbers of visitors who are not clicking the confirmation links. I bet you are. And I bet you’ll get more subscribers by following the steps above.

Why Using Facebook and Twitter Kills Your Profits

Don't LikeIf you’re using Facebook and Twitter for work, you may be wasting time and money.

And most companies selling social media marketing either don’t know what they’re doing or they’re selling snake oil.

Want to know why hyped-up social media is more noise than value, and what you should be focusing on instead? Read on…

Let Them Talk About You

First, you don’t need to have a Facebook page to have your website or company talked about or liked on Facebook. And your business can be spread on Twitter without having a Twitter account.

Social networks are places where “friends” go to talk and share. If you provide something of value that people want to talk about, they will. And not only would it be better for people to share your website instead of your social media page, where a visitor is far more likely to “convert”, but spending money and time on your own business is a better use of resources.

Lots of Noise, Little Value

People with active Facebook and Twitter accounts are bombarded with messages. Your messages are likely to get lost in the noise. And even if you do get traffic from social media, it’s horribly unprofitable traffic.

Facebook and Twitter are designed around a high quantity of low quality messages, where a user’s attention quickly shifts from one blurb to another. And this is reflected in social media referrals. Anyone who monitors their analytics knows this. A site with a 15% bounce rate (number of users who arrive and quickly leave) from both natural and paid search will notice their bounce rate shoot up to 80-90% during social media referral spikes. Visitors coming from social media are like squirrels on crack.

Yet, you still hear stories of great social media success. Then again, what you don’t hear about are the vast numbers of failures. But of the successes, how successful are they?

Social Media Success or Flawed Metrics?

Most of the success stories are based on meaningless metrics. Businessweek’s Larry Popelka claimed in his article GM Doesn’t Get Social Media that “Ford has more than 1.5 million ‘likes’ on it’s Facebook page, vs. fewer than 400,000 for GM”. So what?!? A fake company can generate 3,000+ likes in 4 days for $60, and it would be easy to do a multiple of that. Even Facebook admits that not all likes are legit. And for the likes that are legit, what Larry doesn’t seem to understand is that likes don’t put money in the bank.

What You Should Be Doing Instead

The biggest problem with social media marketing is opportunity cost. No individual or company has unlimited resources. In a reality where resources are limited, does activity on social media mediums like Facebook and Twitter lead to more profit than the alternatives? I’ll answer that. No.

Robert Wynne from Forbes agrees:

“There’s only so many hours in the day. You can spend time meeting reporters, crafting your message and getting placements in major media or your local publication, or you can type the keyboard for hundreds of hours hoping someone “Likes” your brilliant post on Facebook or follows your wickedly awesome tweets on Twitter.”

There are PLENTY ways you can spend your time that produce more value for your business or website than on Facebook or Twitter.

Email and RSS: Far Better Alternatives

For communicating with your customers, email and RSS/blog subscriptions are much better options. Instead of working on and promoting your Facebook and Twitter pages, work on your blog or newsletter and promote them. Email referrals have FAR higher conversion rates than social media referrals, and people who subscribe to your blog via email or a feed reader are going to be much more engaged listeners.

You’re better off working on and increasing the value of your own business, website, or blog than being a source of user-generated-content for the social networks.

Real Social Networking

Real social networking is about active communication with your community or customers. It’s about building real relationships. And you’re not going to do that with Facebook and Twitter, at least not to the extent you could with your own website, email, or subscription to your blog or newsletter.

There are too many people on social media networks, blasting out a massive stream of noise you’re either going to get lost in or quickly glanced over by. But by writing useful or informative articles on your website, blog, or newsletter, you create relationships with people who want to come back for more. Spend time emailing people who run sites in your industry, comment on industry blogs, write guest posts for popular blogs in your niche. That’s real social networking that will create lasting relationships and value.

What do you think? If you’re using Facebook and Twitter for work, do you think you’re actually getting more value from those efforts than you could be by working on your website? Let me know in the comments.