All Bloggers are Marketers
Why do Bloggers fail?
The answer to this question has been detailed in another blog post. But I would like to add another reason to the list.
Limited Understanding of Basic Marketing concepts.
Every blogger out there is so busy giving actionable tips that they are forgetting to tell why you need to take that action in the first place.
Often Bloggers forget that Blogging is a subset of Marketing. And every basic concept of Marketing applies to Blogging as well.
One of these concepts is the concept of Sales Funnel.
What is a Sales Funnel?
The concept of Sales Funnels has been around for a long time now. The idea was suggested first by St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. But, it’s still relevant now and should be applied by bloggers to up their game.
In simple terms, Sales Funnel is the journey a potential customer takes before turning into a customer.
Breaking the entire process into small steps, helps us understand the degree of customer’s buying intent. This you can take the right action to optimize your sales.
Instead of laying any more theory, let me give you a practical example.
I am taking an offline example to help you understand this better. Use of offline examples often makes it easier to understand concepts analogically.
The most basic form of Sales Funnel breaks the concept into 4 steps (Also known as the AIDA model proposed by William Townsend):
The funnel is sometimes broken into 3 parts: Top of the Funnel (TOF), Middle of the funnel (MOF), Bottom of the Funnel (BOF).
Imagine a bakery called WOW Bakery, which sells only freshly made cupcakes. WOW Bakery differentiates itself from the other bakeries in town by selling only cupcakes (freshly made). Other bakeries sell everything starting from cakes to everyday use bread.
So when it comes to cupcakes, WOW Bakery believes that it can deliver the best product at the best price. And with a lot of variety.
BUT, it’s of no use if no one knows that you get the best cupcakes in town at WOW Bakery. This brings us to the first step of the funnel.
STEP 1 : Awareness (TOF)
Everyone who is in this group of people is aware of WOW Bakery’s existence. This is the result of WOW Bakery’s advertisement efforts.
The more people in this group the better. So, WOW Bakery should constantly put efforts to keep increasing the number of people in this step.
Let’s see how WOW Bakery can do that.
There are 2 ways to go about it:
1. Organic Methods :
These are the methods of spreading awareness organically without any monetary push.
Some examples would be word-of-mouth, getting covered by the local newspaper or magazine or starting a local cupcake enthusiast group etc.
Organic Methods have more impact on the crowd but their reach is limited with slow growth of awareness.
2. Inorganic Methods:
Anything which involves spreading awareness using money should be classified as Inorganic Methods.
Some examples would be Banner ads, sponsoring a local event, Flyers etc.
Inorganic Methods have a comparatively lesser impact as they are viewed as advertisements but have a greater reach and faster growth of awareness.
STEP 2 : Interest or Consideration (MOF – I)
Now that WOW Bakery has spread awareness, people who might be interested in trying out WOW Bakery’s products will give it a try.
Not everyone, who is aware of WOW Bakery and its offering, will try them out. Only some people will and the number will be lesser than the number of people aware.
Though the number is less, the people in this group are more likely to buy from WOW Bakery. Because they are considering WOW Bakery and showing interest in the product.
If the number of people in this group is too less then, WOW bakery is not spreading Awareness in a correct way.
WOW bakery needs to re-examine its strategies used to spread awareness.
STEP 3 : Desire or Preference (MOF – II)
Everyone NEEDS a mobile phone these days. It has become a necessity to remain connected to the world. But everyone WANTS a iPhone.
They don’t need it. Any other phone would solve their purpose, but they WANT iPhone.
This behavior is displayed by customers across every buyer group.
The people in this group are filtered from people in the Interest or Consideration Group.
Due to WOW Bakery’s efforts (awesome products, good customer service etc) these people have developed a special affinity towards WOW Bakery.
The people in this group have not become customers yet. But if treated right, are most likely to convert into customers.
The intent of buying is very high. They just need an extra push to buy WOW Bakery’s product.
STEP 4 : Action (BOF)
Of all the people in the Interest group, some might decide not to buy from WOW Bakery, due to various reasons.
Everyone else who has taken an action of buying comes under this group.
WOW Bakery needs to nurture everyone from the Interest Group, who did not buy,so that they become customers in future. Also, it needs to give special attention to people who bought to convert them into repeat customers.
If WOW Bakery keeps repeating these steps it will end up with a healthy customer base.
This same concept can be used in many situations.
For examples Car Sales.
TOF = Advertisements
MOF = Test Drives, Car Bookings
BOF = Sales
HR trying to recruit.
TOF = Broadcast through Job Portals
MOF = Interested candidates apply, Filtered candidates are offered Jobs
BOF = Candidates with job offer accept the job
Here we will see how the concept of Sales Funnel applies to blogging and monetization.
Applying the Concept of Sales Funnel to Blogging
People start blogs with various motivations. Whatever be the reason, a good understanding of the sales funnel will helpful in achieving those goals.
The concept is applied keeping a newbie blogger in mind so that he/she can improve his/her blogging game.
1. Getting Found (Awareness)
You are a new blogger who has started an awesome blog. Your content is unique, actionable and easy to understand.
The problem is no one knows about your blog. And you feel all your efforts are going to waste because no one is reading your blog.
So, the first step in a new blogger’s FIRST ever sales funnel is ‘Getting Found’ or creating awareness that the blog exists. Which means getting traffic to the website.
Just like in the case of WOW Bakery, the more people here the better.
This is how a new blogger can do that:
a) Social Promotions :
People spend a ridiculous amount of time on Social Media Platforms like FB, Twitter, YouTube, Quora.
Check this report by WeAreSocial which says the number of active social media users is close to 2.8 Billion in 2017!
That is a reason why Google made so many desperate attempts to get into social media, the last one being Google+.
If you are looking to ‘Get Found’ and create awareness about your blog, content or/and product, you need to promote yourself on Social Media Channels. I am pretty sure you are convinced of that already.
Here are 2 things to keep in mind when you intend to promote yourself on Social Media.
1. Don’t SPAM : Can you randomly walk up to a girl and ask her to marry you?Probably you can! (weirdo!) But you should not expect a ‘YES’ as an answer.
This is exactly what spamming is. You join some relevant groups and start posting links to your blog post.
Why should anyone even visit your website? There are 10 other (probably 100s) guys out there who have also written about ‘The 10 On-Page SEO Tricks’. Each on of them is SPAMing the hell out of every group you are in.
Instead, build a relationship. Comment on other peoples post. Share their posts if you like them. Understand why these people are online.Basically get to know them.
Over a period of time, you will have people who know you and will be willing to read and listen to what you might have to say.
2. Provide Value:When ever you are posting online, always make sure you provide some value.
You might start a poll, or share some awesome content you read on a blog, or discuss relevant issues you are struggling with. Do anything that you think might add value and can be engaging.
If you do these things people will be engaged and will remember you after repetitive exposure over a period of time.
It’s safe to follow the 80:20 rule while promoting yourself online. You Self-promote only 20% of the time and provide value 100% of the time. That means even when you are promoting yourself you are providing value.
You can also explore Q&A Sites like Quora to get some traffic. Websites like Quora help you build authority as well and sometimes even find the next topic to blog on.
Medium is another channel that you should check out. It has been started by the same guy who founded blogger.com and twitter.com. Medium has a huge in-built audience that a newbie blogger can leverage.
b) Guest Blogging :
In 2007, I went for IIT KGP’s Cultural Festival, where I found myself attending a talk by Alyque Padamsee.
During the talk Alyque Padamasee said “If you have a 1 Rupee coin and I have a 1 Rupee coin and we exchange our coins, both of us still have only a Rupee. An Idea isn’t like money. If you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange our ideas, now both of us have 2 ideas each.”
Guest Posting isn’t very different either. If you have some traffic and I have some traffic, we can exchange our traffic by guest posting on each others blog. Then both the blogs will have more traffic.
Guest Blogging is one of the best ways to ‘Get Found’. So, don’t be greedy and keep your best content to yourself. Give it away, as a guest post on other’s blogs.
Get infront of traffic to get your content seen.
Apart from traffic, guest blogging also has an added benefit of getting a backlink (important for SEO Purposes) and building a brand recognition.
c) SEO :
SEO is the art and science of getting your blog ranked among the top organic search results. If you have no clue what SEO is all about, then a good place to start is MOZ’s Beginners Guide to SEO.
The content in the MOZ guide is enough to get you started.
Many of the established blogs get a huge percentage of their traffic from organic search. SEO is important.
You can find a lot about SEO online. The best resource is Backlinko.com.
But, if you ask me I would suggest you to avoid this process. That’s right. You read it right. AVOID thinking about SEO, as a new blogger. Especially, if you don’t have a clearly defined customer persona.
Curious to know why I would suggest this? Comment below. (Keep in mind, this is a suggestion only for a new blogger.)
The above-mentioned methods are Organic methods of creating awareness. These are the methods recommended for new bloggers.
Of course, one can use paid advertising to gain inorganic exposure, but we are not going to talk about it here as its irrelevant to new bloggers.
2. Subscription (Consideration)
You did everything right in the ‘Get Found’ stage. You are getting traffic to your website.
Next Step, obviously is getting their email IDs.
2 reasons why you need to make collecting email IDs you priority:
1. You control how and when you contact your readers When someone provides you with their email ID, they virtually give you permission to contact them.
Email is a digital asset completely owned by you. You control what, when and how you contact your readers. And because they have given you the permission to contact them, they are more receptive to your communication.
2. Email increases returning visitors
Let’s assume you get 100 Visitors. Of these 100 visitors, 20 optin for emails. Next time when you publish an article, you send emails to all the 20 visitors who had provided their emails. Of these, say, 5 decided to re-visit your blog.
You just got 5 page views without much of an effort.
Now if you keep repeating this, over a period of time you collect 10000 Emails and that many potential visitors without much effort.
But before someone gives you their emails you need to gain their trust and prove your authority.
You do this by writing EPIC content.This will help you get even more traffic. It turns into a virtuous cycle.
If the content is too generic people just bounce from your website or skim through the post. And forget about it as soon as they are done because it added absolutely ZERO value to them.
You must provide valuable content as a payment for the time someone spends reading your content. Otherwise that person is never coming back.
If you are still reading this article, it means you have liked the content provided here. And I have succeeded in keeping your interest this far. That’s the reason you have read 70% of the article and hopefully will continue and reach the end.
This is how you can make sure you write EPIC Content:
1. See what you get asked over and over again in your comments and emails. That is what your audience wants to read. Write a detailed post on that and you are well on your way to get some trusted audience
2. Do a case-study: Running experiments on your blog will give you insights into how things actually work.
There are many so called “online gurus” who preach a lot of things. But rarely run experiment. They are preaching something they have no idea about.
Run experiments and share insights you gained. Your post will be not only unique but it will add tons of value to your audience.
There are many ways to write EPIC content, most of them come from writing about the experiences and insights from them.
So don’t be shy to get your hands dirty. Try new things out. Its ok if you fail. You will be in a unique position to share insights no one else can.
Neil Patel has written a detailed post on how to write EPIC Content. Feel free to check it out.
3. Relationship Building (Preference)
At this stage, everyone who has given you their email IDs belongs to this group.
Your job is to start building a relationship with these people. Because they are closer to the point where they might buy from you.
Their intent of buying is clearly more than visitors to your blog who still haven’t given you their email IDs.
Because you have their email IDs, you can start building a relationship by starting a conversation. The conversation needs to be more personalized.
Initially, because you don’t have a lot of email subscribers, you can give more personal attention to your initial subscribers.
Take advantage of this opportunity. Build a strong relationship with these few. These people advocating for your blog can work wonders for you.
Here are some pointers to build relationships over emails:
1. Regular Content that connects
Just like consistency in blogging matters, it matters in email marketing too. Sending content consistently to your subcribers keeps them connected to you.
As you communicate with your audience, you will know their side of the story. Thos will help you write content which your audience can relate to.
2. Personal Tone
Using a personal tone helps your subscribers connect to you easily. They can relate to you because the communication doesn’t feel like some larger corporation interested only in selling stuff.
Tell them your weakness, rather than just bragging about your strengths. Also, tell them how you have overcome some of the weakness.
They will see you as human and this will make it easier for you to connect with them.
Everyone you are conversing over email has not come to you for the same reason.
Everyone has a different motive and your job is to understand those motives and segment the subscribers. This way you can send emails which are more relevant to a particular segment.
There are a lot of people talking about FB messenger bots replacing email marketing. If you have similar concerns or are just curious about the topic. Comment Below and I will do a follow-up post on this topic.
4. Sales (Action)
You have got traffic, created EPIC content, built trust and authority, collected emails and built a relationship through emails.
If you have carried out all the steps correctly. Now, its time to reap the benefits.
Everyone who joins this group, is virtually supporting you by financing your work.
Now, the final product that you sell might not be your own. If might be someone’s else product and you are getting a small affiliate fee for making the sale happen.
If you are a new blogger, affiliate marketing is a good way for you to monetize your blog. It’s way easier than making and launching your own product.
Let’s see what are the Pros of affiliate marketing :
1. You don’t need to make your own product.
2. No need to provide after sales support as the product you just sold, does not belong to you.
3. You can promote the affiliate link from any channel, be it social media, email etc. not just your blog.
4. No initial investment or cost of set-up
The only disadvantages are :
1. You make less money as compared to selling you own products
2. Promotion of wrong products can lead to ruining your own reputation which you worked so hard to establish.
Affiliate marketing definitely makes you less money than when you sell your own products. But selling your own products is way more difficult.
Because you need to develop a lot more trust and authority before people buy your products. You need to be a brand that people trust enough to buy from.
This takes a lot more effort and time before than affiliate marketing. That is the reason I suggest affiliate marketing to be a better option as compared to selling your own product.
But, all your efforts can go to waste if you don’t promote the right product. So, I suggest you only promote the products that you have used and had a good experience with.
Pat Flynn calls this involved marketing. Where you don’t promote products because they give you a good margin. You promote a product because you have had a good experience with the product and really believe it can help your audience.
Loyalty is the second stage of Sales, where you are able to upsell to your customers. They don’t just buy from you once, but have developed a loyalty where they prefer buying from you regularly.
Loyalty is developed over a period of time by providing products which match expectations and the relationship you
More advanced bloggers at this point consider this as the TOP of another funnel. In this funnel, they keep filtering prospects to sell them products of higher value.
For example, Ben malol, a FB Ads Expert has a funnel which aims towards selling a small ($17) product to his filtered prospects. Once you buy this product, you are then put into another funnel which aims to sell a bigger ($1000) product. Finally, you are offered a $5000 product where you get more personalized attention as well as advanced information.
Some would call the above funnel a Self-Liquidating funnel. Because it liquidates (turns into money or makes more money) everytime it moves to the next step in the funnel.
I gave you this information here, to show that the concept of funnels can and is used by many online entreprenuers at different stages of their venture.
You as a new blogger need not worry about this right now.
5. Word-of-Mouth (Advocacy)
Name one person who loves Advertisements?
Leaving the ones who make money from Ads, no one loves ads. No one even likes Ads.
Advertisements sometimes fail to do exactly what they are supposed to do : GRAB ATTENTION.
Unless they are engaging and are intelligently made. Like this one.
That’s because advertisements are not trusted by people in general. People would rather believe someone who they don’t even know because that person is not gaining anything by advocating for the product.
Even 10 advocates who are not just loyal customers but also your brand’s spokesperson can work wonders for your blog.
If such kind of influence could be bought people would queue to pay for it.
Fortunately, it’s not. The only way to develop this is by providing services or products which exceed expectations all the time. Everytime.
One way to approach this is to under-promise and over-deliver. This way the customers always get way more than what they expected and that leads to a satisfaction, matched only by a few other things.
This part of the funnel has become even more important with the coming of digital age. Because what any advocate could do previously was to tell someone he/ she meets.
But today, because of the social media, the advocate can relay the message across many channels having a way bigger reach while maintaining the quality of the message.
Social advocacy adds to your authority. This inturn increases your trust factor, improves your search engine rankings, gets you more traffic, improves sales among other things.
That’s all you need to know as a new blogger. I hope you enjoyed the entire article and the learning will help you achieve your goals.
So, what are you going to do now?
Are you going to move on and read another article? Most people do this.
This is how you don’t succeed. So instead of reading another article. Why don’t you implement everything that’s explained here.
Do it for a month and see if if make a difference. I am sure it will. Try this out instead of just reading another article and “procrastinating productively”.
See, I have made a small funnel of my own. I wrote this detailed article which is 3500+ words. Any serious blogger who wants to learn and implement will reach the end.
Everyone else will be filtered out. If you have reached the end, your intent of blogging is higher than others.
Comment below to tell me if there is something that’s stopping you from becoming a successful blogger. Let’s talk.