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  • Is Your EMAIL MARKETING COMPLIANT to International Laws like GDPR, CAN-SPAM and Anti-Spam Legislation?

    This is a transcript from episode 60 of the OMGrowth podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and right now, I have a problematic relationship with dill pickle sunflower seeds. I’m not sure how I’m going to kick this new habit but hopefully it’ll be as easy as being legally compliant to international law with the emails you’re sending. Today, we’re going actually break down what being compliant with your email marketing means for you and for the people on your email list, and I have all the confidence in the world that this episode will make you feel more confident about how you’re operating your own business.

    Getting legally compliant with how you’re sending email sounds intimidating… until you start doing it. Then you realize that most of it is common sense and all of it is based on getting email marketers to act and interact like actual human beings who were raised to be polite and kind to one another. (Yes, even online!)

    Which is something we can all get behind, n’est-ce pas?

    Before we get into the specific laws that impact your email marketing practices, let’s start with the most important element of any email you send: acknowledge that you’re connecting with a real human being and they are the most important part of this entire interaction.

    The laws you have to abide by aren’t the laws that you, the sender, are governed by. Instead, it is the laws that protect your recipient that you need to obey when you’re sending email to them. It makes sense if you think about it because these laws are put in place to protect the consumer. When it comes to email marketing, the recipient of your email is the consumer.

    Does this mean that you are expected to adhere to the laws that govern every different nationality you have on your email list? Well, actually yes, that IS the expectation. However, you don’t have to enroll to law school or become an international privacy expert or anything to do that.

    There’s a lot of overlap with what these laws cover and that makes sense. After all, the purpose and focus for all these laws is to protect the consumer, and no matter where the law is coming from, the ways to do that have much more in common than they are different.

    If you live by the motto “don’t be a grossy-pants marketer”, you’re probably good. But just in case, let’s walk you through what that actually means and some of the ways “being a decent human being in the inbox” is legislated.

    If you have any specific questions or concerns about this, I would encourage you to seek out counsel from either a lawyer or privacy expert who specializes in this area to provide you with individualized feedback.

    GDPR

    Just like music festival posters start by putting their headlining acts up to in big bold letters, we’re going to take the same approach here and begin our conversation with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or what the cool kids like us refer to as GDPR

    If you were in the digital marketing world back in the spring of 2018, you’ll remember the straight-up “chicken little, sky is falling” vibes that felt all over the world wide web at the announcement that GDPR was about to be enforced and everyone had better fall in line.

    It was full-on panic mode as to how small-scale marketers like you and I would be able to segment our EU-based email subscribers from the rest of the world in order to comply. That is, until about 6 months into it all and we realized that what GDPR was asking us to do was actually easier to apply to all of our email opt-ins rather than trying to segment everyone’s opt-in options by region. Especially when most of what we were talking about was obtaining consent to collect someone’s email address, a practice that really should not have been the cause for such wide-spread concern.

    But at the time, the belief and general consensus was that GDPR would represent “the end of email marketing”. Of course, this isn’t the case and email marketing remains the top converting traffic source for most online businesses. What GDPR did put an end to, for some, was the facility to spam people who did not want to receive your emails or who did not agree to receiving emails from you in the first place. For most people, this wasn’t actually a problem. While some worried that GDPR was “anti-business”, that wasn’t at all the case; the enforcement was actually “pro-consumer” that placed the consumer’s consent to communications as a priority. This wasn’t a zero-sum game the way some had frame it but rather, it created more transparency and compliance between business owners and their customers.

    The major change that came from reinforcing GDPR was the act of collecting explicit consent from the person whose personal information you, the business owner, were collecting from EU residents.

    Email marketers were expected to provide the purpose for which they were collecting this personal information and explain the intent behind how it would be used, and EU-residents had to be provided with the clear option to agree or disagree to the stated intent of use. There was also the added element of agency: by law, these same people would have agency as to how you would use this information. If they chose to no longer me on your email list, GDPR law states that they must be provided with an easy way of unsubscribing from receiving any further correspondence from you by way of a link or a button that was included in every communications you sent their way.

    In short, the logical, ethical and dare-I-say reasonable enforcements made to email marketing by GDPR included:

    • Obtaining consent from email subscribers to receive further communication;
    • Requiring email marketers to identify and communicate how an individual’s contact information was obtained; and
    • Providing email subscribers with the option and agency to manage their subscription settings in every email that is sent.

    Not exactly restrictive, right? At least, that’s how a lot of email marketers saw this. As a result, the practices enforced with GDPR made more sense for most marketers to take an “across the board” approach than it was worth the trouble of trying to segment EU traffic from the rest of world.

    Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

    While GDPR is the most popular kid in the class of email marketing legislation, it had its predecessors.

    In 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) was passed. In the summer of 2018, just after GDPR was enforced, the Spam Reporting Center reported more than 137,000 spam complaints, the top reason for this stated as receiving email to which they did not consent. They also reported that text message spam was on the rise and I suspect that as marketing is more inclusive with the use of text messages, messenger and chatbots, we will see more specific privacy legislations covering those areas as well.

    We will talk a lot more about spam next week and how you can avoid being labeled as a spammer (ew!) but if this is a subject you want to learn more about, there’s a lot of great info to be had at fightspam.gc.ca. The reason I mention this now, though, is because those same themes of “obtaining consent” that define GDPR are also found at the forefront of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation. It also stipulates that the sender has to be forth-coming about who they are and as such, email marketers must include:

    • A “from” field that clearly indicates who the sender of this email is;
    • An honest street and/or mailing address where the sender can be reached; and
    • The use of subject lines that are not designed to be misleading, deceptive or dishonest.

    I, for one, do not want to live in a world – not even a digital one! – where these aren’t accepted as baseline courtesies we all respect and adopt. I know the main issue here comes up with solopreneurs who say, “But Lanie! I don’t want to post my home address”. Fair enough and you can write off a PO Box or virtual mailbox as the cost of doing business.

    You’re entitled to keep the “personal” aspect of your personal information, but you’re sending these emails as a business owner and there’s an expectation that you will act like it. Meanwhile, when the situation is reversed and you’re the consumer, you can be glad that the people you’re doing business have to be transparent about some basic concepts like who they are, where they’re located and what they’re contacting you about.

    CAN-SPAM Act

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was the first to enact a national standard for the sending of commercial email with the CAN-SPAM Act in 2003. Its official title is a little more of a mouthful, though, because CAN-SPAM stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003.

    While the Act does not reference obtaining explicit consent, it touches on most other items we’ve already discussed like providing a physical address, providing the option to opt-out of communication, and avoiding the use of deceptive or misleading subject lines.

    It also stipulates that if a message is actually an advertisement, the sender is required to make it clear that this message is, in fact, an advertisement. This includes any other framing you may use for money or products you receive in exchange for sharing the message, such as affiliate commissions or brand sponsorships.

    If you’re getting a little something-something in exchange for sending a message out, you are expected to disclose this fact.

    There are also many other related laws covering many different nations. I encourage you to read up and research these topics further based on where your email subscribers are coming from, and to speak with a legal and/or privacy professional for any concerns you may have.

    However, as I promised you, there are a lot of common themes and overlap with what these laws set out to cover, and an over-simplified but not-entirely-wrong approach is to ask yourself “am I treating this like an actual human interaction?”. The most significant differences between these laws are typically in what constitutes a breach according to which law and to what degree the penalty is enforced, but the foundations they’re grounded in are all share.

    My hope is that you’re reading this and thinking, “OK, Lanie, but this is a whole lot of common sense and human kindness, right?” Because yes, you would be right to say this. As I mentioned earlier, these laws aren’t set out to be “anti-business” but rather, they’re positioned to be “pro-consumer”. Nobody’s trying to “ruin” your email marketing campaigns but there was always that one kid who CAN ruin it for the rest of the class, and these laws prevent that from happening by setting a baseline of acceptable ethics and behaviors with how we communicate online.

    Because hey! not EVERYONE sees these requirements as the common courtesy we should all be entitled to and they’re the ones keeping these lawmakers in business. The truth is that you’d be hard-pressed to take a legal wrong turn if you looked at your email marketing campaigns and asked yourself “what would I like and what would I want to receive? how do I like to be spoken to and communicated with?”. 

    And look, next week, I have a big announcement to make. Another big announcement? Yes, another big announcement – I’ve been full of them this quarter, right? Does it have to do with email marketing optimization? Of course it does, boss! You know I’m no good at surprises – so, next week, I’ll talk more about that as well as email marketing KPIs and engagement metrics because your open rates are officially vintage now. But like, not the good type of vintage; the kind of vintage that HGTV is like “we have to take this house down to its studs” and we’re doing THAT next week because you’re my favorite. Talk soon, baiiieeee!!

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  • Tracking What Matters in GROUP PROGRAMS and MEMBERSHIPS with MELODY JOHNSON, The Course Consultant

    This is a transcript of the OMGrowth Podcast episode 59.

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and today’s guest is none other than the course consultant herself, Melody Johnson…. and Melody and I taaaaalllllked. I think I thought I had one of those hour-long interview podcasts – in fact, talking to Melody made me wish I had one of those because we went on… and on… because running a group program or membership successfully is flipping magical to me. There’s so much work that goes into acing the onboarding for every single person who joins, the processes and content creation it takes just to maintain that recurring income and membership, the constant improvement mode you’re inevitably in with this business model – we talked about it all but I had to shorten what we recorded to fit this podcast episode format and it still feels like it’s bursting at the seams. There’s so much misleading information about how easy it is to make a gazillion dollars overnight with a membership that will be your money faucet that Melody’s super-professional, grounded in reality expertise is exactly the point view I want to hear from and I’m stoked to be bringing her and her OMGrowth-based insights on what you have to know to run a successful group program to you today.

    Lanie Lamarre:
    Melody, welcome.

    Melody:
    Hey, so excited to be here today.

    Lanie Lamarre:
    I am so excited to have you. Let’s get into it. So, with data, talk data to me. You dropped the MRR and ARR. What are they and why do course creators and membership owners, membership founders, why do they care about MRR and ARR?

    Melody:
    Yeah. So ARR is annual recurring revenue and MRR is monthly recurring revenue. So, for instance, when we’re tracking the income that’s coming in, whether that’s through monthly recurring revenue from our membership, our group program or our cohort or our subscription-based business, we want to know what is the money that is generated from the base package. That’s the monthly recurring revenue. And as we continue to receive that revenue, that is contributing to the annual recurring revenue. So we have our monthly and we have our annual. Makes sense. But what can be challenging to track for membership owners and group founders is all the data sources. Where are we getting the dollars from, right?

    Melody:
    So for people who will listen to this, you’ve probably used some sort of payment process or maybe used a course platform to receive payments. And, of course, well then, maybe you have some deductions because of the processing fee or whatever and then you’re trying to track all of these other metrics. Maybe you have one-off products that are not really related to your main offering, which is your membership or your group program. And now you’re just looking at the numbers and thrive cards saying, “Is this accurate? Are the numbers inside here a true representation of what’s actually in here? Because I have to go do my taxes and I’m not quite sure what’s going on here.”

    Lanie Lamarre:
    Worst feeling ever.

    Melody:
    Yes. And I’ve done that because I myself have a membership and I’m looking at the numbers going, “What the heck is going on? I’m so confused. These data sources are saying this year, this is saying here and now I have this other stuff. And what’s going on? I’m not a numbers person.”

    Lanie Lamarre:
    Okay. So, what do you do?

    Melody:
    Yeah. So what I recommend doing is using a single source of truth. And what I like to use personally that has worked for me is to use a software that’s free called ChartMogul. That’s chartmogul.com. It’s a free tool that will help to input your data sources, specifically payment platforms like PayPal and Stripe, and will take that data and it will actually create this beautiful dashboard with a full graph visualization chart that will actually share with you the data of what’s actually the monthly recurring revenue every single month. And you’ll also have something that’s called a cohort analysis. And, essentially, what a cohort analysis is, is it will actually track when students came in during this month, how many continued on and where did they fall off.

    Melody:
    So what you might see is you have a big launch, okay? So you have a group program launch, certification launch, membership launch. You have people join and then you have something that’s called churn. So churn is actually the rate at which you lose customers. So it’s actually a percentage. And, obviously, the lower your churn rate is, meaning the less people leave, the better it will contribute to your annual recurring revenue. Meaning you generate more sales from the front end and you retain your customers, which contributes to the growth of your annual recurring revenue, right? So you have, instead of people falling out the funnel, you have it where it comes in and it grows at the base.

    Melody:
    And so I talk about this a little bit more inside of a free training that I have. But, essentially, what ends up happening is you can actually see money coming from your main users or however you call them. Your visitors, your customers, your clients. You have main income coming from those customers. And you also have something called expansion revenue, which is basically revenue that’s not tied to the original purchase price of the main product that you’re selling, but it’s actually additional revenue. And most business owners are already doing it. They’re just not aware that that’s what it’s called. It’s just supplementary services or products that will complement the main package or offering. So for a group program, that might be annual retreats, it might be a one-on-one intensive, it might be a power hour or a licensing agreement or something like that.

    Melody:
    So there’s two kinds. I don’t want to give everything away because we could talk about this for hours, but there’s different kinds of expansion revenue that you can use in your business. And what’s important to actually track first are those two numbers. What is the rate at which you’re losing customers in your group program or membership? And then, also, what is your monthly recurring revenue and what do you want to improve? How can you increase your monthly recurring revenue so that you retain the customers you already have? Because as we’ve said, the money that comes in, we want to keep and we want to grow.

    Lanie Lamarre:
    You had me at dashboard, first of all. Oh, and you can see how all of this plays out on a dashboard. I love the creativity behind that, because you can actually wrap your head around what the numbers look like. My mind is already spinning in terms of, how does that information apply to everything else that you do? Because you’re essentially calculating what the client lifetime value is for your membership. And when you know that number, you know how much you can afford to spend on ads, you know whether you can afford to sponsor that summit, you know how you can spend money to be able to generate more. Not only that, you can forecast how much more money you can afford to make when you invest in these other strategies. Which that’s exciting to me. That’s the most exciting to me.

    Melody:
    Yeah. And I think that we’re just not taught this, right? We don’t sit in school saying, “Can you explain to me what the customer lifetime value of this is for Susie and Jared?”

    Lanie Lamarre:
    Yeah.

    Melody:
    We don’t learn this. And it’s kind of a funny, interesting world that we live in. Because in the SaaS world, this is very common knowledge. The whole process of the cohort analysis, the customer lifetime value, calculating what your cost per acquisition is and then seeing how you can increase your recurring revenue. And that’s why that ChartMogul software is there. It was actually created for SaaS or subscription-based business models. However, group coaching program founders and memberships could absolutely benefit from it. And it’s free until you hit 10,000 monthly recurring revenue.

    Lanie Lamarre:
    And at that point, if you’re bringing in those kinds of numbers, you can afford to pay for the dang software. So bring it on.

    Melody:
    Yeah, exactly.

    Lanie Lamarre:
    Tell everyone not only where they can find you, but where they can find that training you mentioned. Because for selfish reasons, I will be tuning in as well.

    Melody:
    Yeah. So, well, I do have a free tool that I created myself and it is called a retention calculator. So all the numbers that I was talking about-

    Lanie Lamarre:
    Yes.

    Melody:
    Yeah. So we were talking about churn and you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, how do I calculate that? What’s the actual calculation?” Well, I do have a retention calculator that will do all the heavy lifting for you. So if you go to http://www.thecourseconsultant.com/retentioncalculator, and I’ll share the link with you, Lanie, you will be able to input the data sources that you have. And the free training that I was talking about, it’s actually a three-day workshop series called The Customer Success Sprint. And there’s a group program audit, basically a workbook that’s associated. Yes, you can type it in. It’s cool like that. And you’ll be able to take a look at all of the important things we talked about. Calculating churn, identifying what your monthly recurring revenue is, what your goal is for ARR. And then also to identify some opportunities for growth in your membership through curriculum design, which is how I kind of got started in instructional design, and then creating just a checklist of what ways are going to make this change. At what point are you going to help to make and iterate this change with your team and with your customers.

    Lanie Lamarre:
    And I want to emphasize, look, if all this sounds like, “Oh, wow, I’d really like to know that, but I’m not a numbers person. I can’t do this sort of stuff.” Listen, you have a team. I would assume if that’s how your thought pattern is. Get somebody on your team to take the training and do this heavy lifting for you and report back numbers because that’s what the boss does. That’s what wearing the bossy pants means. It means knowing your numbers and having a plan for how you’re going to use those to improve how you’re operating. So, even if you’re not the person doing this in your organization, you need somebody in your organization coming to you with those numbers. So set yourself up for success on that front by either registering for it yourself or signing somebody else up for it.

    Melody:
    Yep, absolutely. Yep, it’s a great training. And I’m always open, if people have questions, to talk about it. Because not many people, at least that I’m aware of, are talking about this.

    Lanie Lamarre:
    That’s so great. You’re so great. I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you so much for being here, Melody.

    Melody:
    Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

    And she’s right, you know? Not a lot of people are talking about what numbers you need to know to be and to stay profitable in group program and membership models. It’s a lot easier and sexier to talk about how recurring income is like a money faucet stream, but what do you need to get that tap flowing in the first place and then keep it flowing is a totally different thing. I love Melody for that and you know I’m signing up for that retention calculator, and you can too in the shownotes. There will also be a link to that 3-day training in the shownotes as well. And I actually met Melody on Instagram so I know she’d love if reached out and said hi to her there too https://www.tiktok.com/@thecourseconsultant
    https://instagram.com/thecourseconsultant

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  • What Your OPTIMIZATION STRATEGY In Action Looks Like

    This is a transcript from episode 58 of the OMGrowth podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and when my husband is out of town, you’re going to find soup take-out containers in the trash. It’s a money-back guarantee that I will order some kind of fancy, oversized soup and the longer he is gone, the more containers there will be. Is it 110 degrees outside? Cool story, bro – I’m still ordering soup, I love soup.

    I also love examples and today, we’re going do sort-of case study because I want you to really immerse yourself with HOW you would approach improving one of your own digital marketing campaigns and examples are your best friend for doing that.

    This is an opportunity for you and I to channel all of that forensics knowledge we’ve acquired from listening to true crime podcasts and watching creepy who-done-it shows on Netflix, because today, we’re going to investigate our marketing campaigns.

    Consider this a continuation of the last episode where we looked at what the issue may be with your performance based on where the problem is… but we didn’t talk about how you were going to figure out where the problem is so we’re going to talk about it here.

    When it comes to being less-than-satisfied with our results, we tend to make assumptions about what the problem is or was, but when we actually map out and look at the numbers, we often see that something else was going down.

    Let’s dive straight into my favorite time – example time! – because this discussion will offer way more context with a case study:

    Let’s say you’re hosting a webinar where you would be pitching a paid offer at the end of the training and you had hoped it would convert to 100 sales… but instead, you only made 50 sales. Womp! Womp!

    But “sales made” (or “not made”, in this case) is not the whole picture of what transpired here. If you’re looking to improve your bottom line, you’re going to have to map out what happened between the top of your campaign and that bottom line you’re not so stoked about.

    You’ll need to know:

    • How many people signed up to attend your webinar – this will help you understand how engaged your traffic sources are with your free offer;
    • How many people clicked through to the sales page you pitched at the end of your webinar – this will help you understand how interested they are in what you have to offer beyond what you’ve already taught them; and finally,
    • How many people purchased the paid offer you pitched – this will help you understand how your converting to sales.

    If you’re more of a visual person and you want to see this in action, check out my Instagram or TikTok because I walk you through this whole breakdown over there.

    With these 3 data points, you can literally map out your performance in a way that makes your gaps light-years easier to identify and makes those opportunities for optimization as whole lot clearer.

    Because let’s go back to out example where you WANTED to make 100 sales but you only made 50. It’s great that you know how many sales you made but you have 2 data points missing before you can start making some data-driven decisions or assumptions.

    If we see that 500 people signed up to attend the webinar and you made 50 sales, that means you have a 10% conversion rate for sales made from webinar attendees – glasses raised to you for a job well done!

    Of the 500 people who signed up for the webinar, we see that 110 people clicked through to the sales page we were pitching at the end of the webinar.

    When you actually map this out, you can clearly see what your options are to work on and improve the sales performance of your future webinars.

    You could:

    1) Get more people to see your sales page.

    Almost half of the people who SAW your sales page ended up buying. This means that if you can get just 2% more webinar attendees to click-through to your sales page, you’d have 10 extra people who saw your sales page and with all else remaining the same, that 2% increase in sales page views would mean almost 5 additional sales for you.

    But you’re looking for 50 more sales, right, so what else can we improve here?

    2) Get more sales page visitors through to check-out.

    There are a lot of things you could do to improve how your sales page is performing, including easier check-out process, better sales copy, increased calls-to-action, among an endless number of other possible actions you COULD take.

    But in this case, there’s no way you can improve your sales page performance in a way that would help you meet your goals. Even if you improved your sales page click-throughs by 10% – which is a tall order! – you’d still only have 60 sales and this would set you 40 sales behind where you wanted to be. You would literally have to have more than a 90% conversion rate on your sales page to meet your goals and I think you’d have a better chance of wrangling a unicorn than converting 90%+ of your sales page visitors to sales – just saying.

    I would suggest that the reason you’re falling short of your sales goals isn’t because of your sales process – after all, we’ve mapped this out and we can see that the types of improvements we’re looking for won’t be achieved by improving our sales process numbers – and instead of being a sales issue, I would suggest you have a traffic issue.

    3) Get more traffic to the webinar sign-up page.

    With these results, you would have needed 1000 people to sign up for the webinar in order to make those 100 sales you were pining for and in this case, getting that sign-up page in front of more people is where I would focus on optimizing.

    Which means we need to add 2 more data points to this collection:

    • How did people find my sign-up page for the webinar – this will help you identify your traffic source patterns and performance; and
    • How many people did your webinar sign-up page attract – this will help you understand how your different traffic sources are being made aware of your offer.

    Because if we need to double the amount of people who sign up to the webinar, we’re going to have to better understand which traffic sources were your most popular? Which didn’t perform so well? Why do you think that is? What type of content did well? Are there ways you could re-distribute the time, effort and/or money you’re investing in where your traffic is coming from in a way that is more reflective of where your best gains are? What can you do that could get you and your webinar sign-up page in front of more eyeballs?

    The whole deal with “knowing your numbers” is to understand how to put them to work for you like we did with this example. It’s one thing to collect data but to get anything out of it, you have to interact with it and ask it questions.

    If you don’t even know where to start, this podcast is a great place to start: map out each phase of your sales process, collect your relevant performance metrics at each phase, and then stop at each phase to ask “if I improved THIS by 1%, how would that impact my results?”

    Likewise, if you had expectations for your launch or your evergreen sequence or your month and they didn’t work out the way you had hoped, draw out your process, clock in those performance metrics and then reverse engineer HOW you could have made that happen. The next time around, you know what numbers you’ll need to hit at each phase of your sales process to ensure you DO hit your goal, or you may shift how you’re framing your goals once you understand your performance trends.

    And this is why I’ve been a broken record over theses last few episodes about this next point but look: pick a lane. You will not be improving all the phases of your sales process all at once. If you want to get Results On Repeat, you have to be intentional about what you have to offer and how you’re tracking those offers, what sales and marketing strategies you’re using to support your offers and how each phase of those strategies are performing, and finally, which traffic sources you’re promoting those offers to and investing your strategic efforts into.

    But again, I remind you that CHANGE ≠ IMPROVEMENT and this is why, before you make any changes, you establish the conversion rates against which you will measure whether your improvements have been effective or not.

    If you need help with any of this, let me remind you that I quite literally wrote the book on getting Results On Repeat so that’s what I called it and you can get your copy of Results On Repeat by clicking on the link in the shownotes.

    And I know some of you are visual learners out there so in addition to having me in your earholes, I recommend you give me a follow over on Instagram or better yet, TikTok – links to both of those are also in the shownotes – but I’m coo-coo for workflows and process maps and I’ll map an optimization strategy right in front of you, just like that, in front of everyone on the TikToks.

    But furreal-furreal, you don’t actually need to know #allthethings to kick it into high optimization mode and this doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. You can literally grab a cocktail napkin, draw out your little sales and sign-up pages and jot down a few key numbers to account for 80% of anything you’ll ever need to know about your performance and how to optimize it. The more intentional you are about your tracking and the better you understand HOW your sales process is set up to work, the easier it is for you to set yourself up for success and set your outcomes to generate Results On Repeat.

    Talk soon – baiieeee!

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  • What To Do When Your MARKETING EFFORTS Aren’t Working

    This is a transcript from episode 57 of the OMGrowth podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and I wrote a book called Results On Repeat – there’s a link to that in the shownotes – so get your e-reader device or app fired up, get your Results On Repeat, and get your life – because today we’re going to touch on some of the book’s content and talk about what do you do when you marketing efforts aren’t working.

    I want to begin this conversation with a very important public service message: CHANGE ≠ IMPROVEMENT.

    Just because you change something doesn’t mean you’ll see “better” results than you had before you made that change.

    But you do have to make changes if you’re going to see improvements in your results, and that’s what you need to know your numbers for: you need a way to account for which direction things are going in.

    A huge mistake I see online business owners make is they try to fix their marketing by trying a new strategy, creating a new offer or moving to a new platform instead of glossing what they already have and know to a high shine. Effective marketing is a wash-rinse-repeat process of gathering information as to how your campaigns work, how they don’t and identifying the gaps where your opportunities for better results are. Over and over and over again.

    I’m coming in hot with the disclaimers today, too, because here’s another one: choose a lane.

    The truth is that even with a team, it is unreasonable to expect that you will be able to successfully optimize multiple offers, multiple sales strategies, multiple traffic sources, and that you’ll do it all at once. If you have so much going on that your marketing efforts feel like a game of Wack-A-Mole, your first order of business is to make some choices about which offers, strategies and traffic sources you’re NOT going to be focusing on right now (or in some cases, you will drop entirely). Simplify as much as you can in order to strengthen the foundations that you’re working with and THEN you’re in a position to add on more complex strategies, which will require more improvements, and build out an increasingly elaborate yet effective marketing ecosystem.

    But how are you going to make those improvements? How do you identify the gaps?

    Let’s look at some of the most common marketing problems small online business owners experience and how you can address these:

    “PEOPLE AREN’T SEEING MY OFFERS”

    You won’t be able to see the holes in your digital marketing strategy if your offers, your content and your strategies aren’t attracting anyone in the first place. As a starting point, you want to have at least 100 people (although 1000 would be a better goal post) whose behaviors you’ll be able to assess as a whole before you consider any kind of optimization mode.

    Why? Because conversion rates – which is what we will use to measure the impact of most marketing campaigns – is calculated based on percentages, and you want to have at least 100 people to generate a useful percentage against which you will measure your success.

    If the problem is that you aren’t getting enough eyeballs on your offers and content, this is the first order of business. Remembering our ABCs of digital marketing from episode 55: if you’re spending time, money and/or effort on ATTRACTING new audiences but your traffic isn’t reflecting that… there’s a problem with your MESSAGING.

    When I say “messaging”, I’m talking about anything you’re using that speaks to or communicates with people. This can mean your copy, but it can also be the images you’re using, the way you’re expressing the value of your offers, the specific features you’re using on the platforms you’re investing in – your messaging is the whole package that makes up the impression you make with the content you’re using to put yourself out there.

    Whether you’re using ads, promoting on social media, or collaborating on joint ventures, your message is meant to ATTRACT people who will gravitate to your content and offers.

    You know I love an example so let’s use one: Take a specific strategy you’ve been using, like your Instagram posts, and then audit the content you’ve produced to ask yourself:

    • Do these messages connect to and reflect the value of WHAT I’m promoting?
    • Do these messages connect with and reflect the values, struggles or desires of the person with WHOM I am trying to connect?
    • Are my messages interesting/compelling enough that it would stop my audience in its tracks and make them seek out more of what I’m talking about?
    • Am I giving my people a reason to leave what they started doing (i.e. scrolling) to step away and find out more about what I have to say?
    • Am I reaching out to the right people? Is this the audience I’m aiming to show up for? Am I reaching out to the right places where my people are actually hanging out?

    If the answer is no to any of these, ask yourself what changes you could make that may change these answers to an emphatic “yes”.

    Which brings us back to the importance of choosing ONE lane: you can’t possibly examine all of the ads, all of the social media and all of the collaborative efforts you use to promote one of your offers, all at once. And you certainly can’t work on multiple offers or multiple strategies all at once either.

    Choose your lane with one offer, one strategy, one traffic source. You’re going to segment, audit and and improve, segment, audit and improve, over and over again.

    The process isn’t exactly glamorous but there are some strong “lessons learned” vibes you’ll be able to carry through every time you do this. Once you nail your messaging, you’ll see how much easier it becomes to replicate your results for different offers, with different strategies, on different platforms, using different campaigns.

    But you have to start somewhere and if “not enough eyeballs on the page” is your problem right now, you won’t be able to effectively fix anything else until you address this. 

    Unfortunately, the online business world is not the Field Of Dreams where “if you build it, they will come”; you’re going to have to build it AND promote it AND adapt AND promote it again until you’ve given people a reason to care about what you’ve built… and only then will you be in a position to build a better version of what you built in the first place.

    “PEOPLE AREN’T CLICKING THROUGH ON MY EMAILS”

    Once people sign up for your email list, you’re in the BUILDING phase where relationships and rapport are your goal. You often hear “the money is in the list” but if your list isn’t engaging with what you’re offering to them, that currency may be less valuable than you were aiming for.

    Before you start changing or even questioning anything about what you’re doing, I would recommend that you run an email deliverability test using a service like GlockApps to 1) test the deliverability of the emails you send from your regular inbox and 2) test the deliverability of the emails you send using your email marketing service.

    If you want more information on this, you can check out episode 41 of the podcast.

    You want to make sure that your emails are actually seeing the light of day for the inboxes you’re sending them to before you start changing anything about your actual email content. Again, you always want to start by eliminating the possibility that the tech is an issue before you change anything about your approach.

    The next thing I would recommend is to look at HOW you are promoting to your email list: 

    • Are you sending the same emails to your entire list?
    • Would there be a benefit to segmenting your list and changing the messaging within your emails to speak to each segment of your list in a more direct, personalized manner?
    • Are your calls-to-action (CTAs) clear and compelling?
    • Are your links visible, easy-to-find and frequently displayed?
    • Are you giving your people an opportunity to speak out about the campaigns they are NOT interested in hearing about?

    This last one is important and in my opinion, it is an overlooked tactic of email marketing. When you give people an opportunity to opt-out of receiving specific messages they aren’t interested in hearing about at this time, you’re also lessening the chances of having your emails sit in their inboxes, being ignored.

    You have these, right? When you receive an email promoting something you’re not interested in and you want to stay on that person’s email list, but you start ignoring their next few emails because you know it’s probably about that one offer you’re not into.

    This is a problem because by not giving your subscribers the option to opt-out of a specific promotion, you’re training people to start ignoring your emails. The unfortunate part is that this habit of ignoring your emails has a high chance of lasting longer than your promotion will.

    Don’t train your email subscribers to ignore you. Instead, be the kind of marketer who gives your email subscribers some agency about what they choose to receive from you and in turn, you’re more likely to be the kind of marketer whose campaigns always feel relevant and whose emails get opened more frequently.

    Which brings us to the subject of OPEN RATES.

    Yes, your email marketing service will comment on open rates and yes, you want people to open your emails… but I wouldn’t rely on this metric as a benchmark and I definitely would not use it as a measure of your success.

    With all the changes being made to data privacy, the disabling of cookie-tracking in many browsers and the increased presence of ad-blockers limiting the collection of personal information, your ability to track which emails have been opened is not as reliable as it once was and you cannot treat this data set as an accurate reflection of your performance.

    Having said that, you do want people to open your emails, even if it isn’t a priority metric for you to track.

    Examine your subject lines and pay attention to that first line of text that shows up in the inbox, and then ask yourself, “Would I click on that? Am I offering a compelling reason to open this email? Am I connecting with my audience in this subject line?”

    But what if they ARE opening and clicking on your emails but they still aren’t picking up what you’re throwing down?

    “PEOPLE AREN’T BUYING/OPTING INTO MY OFFER”

    OK, so you have eyeballs on your offers – very nice!

    You know this because you can see that they’re clicking-through and you have visits to your sales page… but hold the bottle popping because you’re not making sales. You struggle with CONVERTING your audience to sign-up.

    This usually means that somewhere along the line, they have an expectation or need that they thought you could help them with… but when they looked at what you were offering, they weren’t convinced you could help them after all. Womp! Womp!

    There are a number of reasons why this may be the case.

    Again, as with anything, I always recommend that before you start changing anything, you start by confirming that the tech is actually working the way you need it to. Go into “incognito mode” in your browser and test your sales page’s “BUY NOW” buttons and your opt-in forms to make sure they work. Go through the whole sales process to make sure your checkout works the way you intend it to and there isn’t something weird happening with your cart processing that may be impeding people from giving you their money.

    When you’ve done that, send someone else through your sales process, too, why-doncha? Sometimes when we’re logged into certain accounts, we won’t see what a client sees and it’s never a bad idea to get a fresh set of eyes on your tech.

    You’ll also want to wash-rinse-repeat this process on a desktop, on a tablet and on mobile to ensure there isn’t a device-specific issue with how your checkout process is working (or worse, not working at all!).

    Another possibility is you may be rolling out with yet another messaging problem, only this time will be different from the last one. After all, they DID click-through to your site but the problem is that whatever resonated with them when they first clicked to your page didn’t resonate enough when they got there that they were willing to click on the checkout. In this case, you’ll want to ask yourself:

    • Is the messaging in my offer and the messaging in my promotions compatible? Am I saying the same thing and addressing the same issues?
    • Are my calls-to-action (CTAs) all-kinds-of visible, are they crystal-clear and do they repeat frequently through the scroll?
    • Am I targeting the right people with the language on this sales page and can someone who would benefit from my offer clearly see themselves and their needs being represented on this sales page?
    • Am I targeting people who would be or could be prepared to make an actual investment in what I’m offering?
    • Is my price-point clearly visible and is the value I say I’m offering on the sales page reflected in the price at which I’m selling it?

    Just as it helps to bring a fresh set of eyes in with your tech, you may want to do something similar with your sales page or your opt-in forms by hiring an expert to audit yours. This is likely to be one of your best optimization options because you’ll have a specialized person looking at your specific offers, your specific sales pages, your specific audience, and then make customized recommendations for improvements.

    We’ll talk more about this next week when we go through a case study that will help you more easily identify the opportunities for optimization but if these are topics you want to better apply in your own business, click the link in the shownotes to access Results On Repeat, which is my book on publishing, tracking and improving your digital campaigns and it is officially my lowest-priced offer ever and who DOESN’T want to tap into Results On Repeat, amirite?

    I’d also love if you tapped into the awesome sauce I’m dropping over on social media – you can find me on Instagram @omgrowth and on TikTok @omgrowthpod, which are also both linked in the shownotes – and let me SHOW you what these types of talks look like in action.

    And I’m glad you’re here and I love that you’re doing the dang thing – it isn’t easy, no matter what someone’s sales page promises you – and you’re STILL here and STILL doing the dang thing and you rock socks.

    Talk soon – baiieeee!

    CONTINUE READING

  • How to question your WEBSITE TRAFFIC PERFORMANCE for deeper insights

    This is a transcript from episode 56 of the OMGrowth podcast

    I’m Lanie Lamarre and I love ice. I have many different ice trays in my freezer, it makes me feel very rich to have a selection of ice – especially the big ice cubes because for some reason, big ice cubes are definitely rich people stuff for me – and if you have a degree in psychology that can edu-care me as to why this is, I’d welcome your insight.

    But the riches we’re talking about today have to do with all the elements that contribute TO your riches and results for your online business so without further ado…

    When you aren’t seeing the results you’re looking for… well, have you considered looking somewhere else?

    It sounds like I’m kidding but I’m really not because a lot goes into getting you the results you’re looking for. If you’re only looking at the results, you’re actually missing the big picture of what’s going on.

    It’s like the iceberg analogue where what you see at the top – in this case, the top are your results – and that leaves out everything that sits below the surface on which those results are built on.

    But the thing is that you CAN see what is below the surface when you’re collecting data as to how your people are behaving and how your website is performing. The more intentional you are about HOW you’re collecting this data, the deeper you can go with what your results are built on.

    So if you aren’t seeing the results you’re looking for, I want you to think about the traffic sources you’re targeting with whatever campaign or strategy you’re running. Then, I want you to hone in on how THAT area is performing and what results you ARE getting from where you’re investing your time, energy and/or money.

    Let’s talk about what those areas are, how your different traffic sources work and what questions you can start asking yourself about how you’re performing in those areas:

    ORGANIC SEARCH

    Your content has many jobs, one of which is to help you get found by the people who are searching for exactly what you have to offer and speak about.

    You get found through ORGANIC SEARCH by people who know what they want; they clicked on your content because what you were offering spoke to their needs.

    Bringing free traffic to your content and offers is totally possible, and investing your efforts into Search Engine Optimization – or what the cool kids like us call SEO – is how you improve your chances of being found by search engines like Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo, to name just a few.

    WHAT DATA TO LOOK AT

    If you’re using privacy-compliant analytics like Fathom or Plausible, which we discussed in episode 54, you will segment under “Source” for the different search engines you’re seeing in your analytics (to see traffic coming through on Google searches, you’d filter “Source: Google”) or if you’re using Google Analytics, you can take a wide view by segmenting “Medium: Organic”.

    Some questions you can ask yourself to better understand how your search traffic is performing include:

    • Landing Page/Content/Top Pages: What are people searching for when they find me? What was it that made them choose to check out what I had to offer?
    • Bounce Rate/Engagement Rate: How engaged are they when they find what they’re looking for? Are they picking up what I’m throwing down?
    • Goals/Events:  Is this segment of visitors doing the activities I’m most interested in seeing them engage with?  Is there something I can do that would improve how they’re engaging with my goals/events?

    REFERRAL TRAFFIC

    There’s an old expression about “word of mouth” being the best advertising but even if word about you is spread on a screen, the saying holds true. You’ll typically find that your referral traffic is some of your best performing traffic in terms of conversions: these are people who came from somewhere else – usually another website where your content was referenced or shared – and these visitors are therefore quicker at building relationships with you because someone else has vouched for you.

    A little #protip about being the kind of person other people want to refer: when you see who has been sending you traffic, thank them! Slip into their DMs, make them a video, send an email – whatever works for you and your brand – but do SOMETHING to show that you see them and you appreciate their vote of confidence in you and the voodoo that you do (shoop!).

    WHAT TO LOOK AT

    As you look through your “Source” traffic, you can segment specific sites that are sending traffic to you or if you’re using Google Analytics, you can take a wide view by segmenting “Medium: Referral”.

    Some questions you can ask yourself to better understand how referrals are working for you include:

    • Landing Page/Content/Top Pages: What are people being sent to look at? Which content or offers are people recommending from me?
    • Bounce Rate/Engagement Rate: How engaged are they when they find me? Did this referral meet their expectations?
    • Goals/Events:  Is these referrals doing the activities I’m most interested in seeing them engage with? Is there something I can do that would improve the chances of them engaging with my goals/events?

    DIRECT TRAFFIC

    When you’re seeing direct traffic, it means someone typed your URL into the web browser and therefore, they already knew about you from somewhere or something else, or they were told to check you out.

    Either way, it’s hard to hone in on and improve this type of traffic because you don’t know much about how they got there and there isn’t much you can do to change that.

    That’s A-OK, though, because what this traffic source DOES help you figure out is what are people are thinking about when they tell themselves, “I know where to go for that!”

    WHAT TO LOOK AT

    When segmenting for traffic Source/Medium as “Direct/None”, some questions you can ask yourself to better understand what your direct traffic is saying about how people think about you:

    • Landing Page/Content/Top Pages: What were they looking for? Which content or offers are people thinking about when they think of me? What am I known for or recognized as being an expert in? What subject am I “top of mind” for with others?

    EMAIL TRAFFIC

    You’ve likely heard “the money is in the list” and it should come as no surprise that your email list subscribers are some of the most motivated segment of people you’re engaging with in your marketing efforts. When you see people coming from email, it means they clicked-through on a link in an email you sent in order to see more or access what you were talking about.

    Your email subscribers will likely be your most engaged traffic source and that makes it extra-valuable for you to track and identify what your people want more of and what they respond best to.

    WHAT TO LOOK AT

    If you’re not yet tracking your own email traffic, your email marketing service probably has some type of tracking in place and you’ll want to figure out how that’s being identified in your reports.

    Once you know and can segment for your email traffic, some questions you can ask yourself to better understand how your subscriber traffic is performing include:

    • Landing Page/Content/Top Pages:  Where did I send people? Which content or offers are my subscribers most interested on clicking-through to?
    • Bounce Rate/Engagement Rate: How engaged are they when they reach my site? Did this referral meet their expectations?
    • Goals/Events:  Is this segment of visitors doing the activities I’m most interested in having them engage with? Is there something I can do that would improve how they’re engaging with my goals/events?

    You’ll also want to look at how many people you actually sent the email to versus how many of those people clicked-through on your email. This is what is called your click-through rate and it is useful to compare which of your emails have the highest click-through rates as it helps you better understand what content your subscribers respond best to.

    SOCIAL MEDIA TRAFFIC

    The captions, images and videos you hit PUBLISH on for your various social media accounts are all content as well, even if it doesn’t live on your website.

    If you’re rocking socks at your social media strategy, each post you publish serves to either reinforce your message, other pieces of content or your offers.

    When people click through from the things you publish on social media, it’s because what you shared was interesting enough for them to slow their scroll, stop what they were doing and pick up what you were throwing down on your website.

    I believe social media to be one of the hardest traffic sources to acquire because you’re asking people to leave the place they logged onto in the first place. If they do that, it means that whatever you’re offering on the other side is more attractive than what everyone else is publishing on that platform – and holy heck, is that impressive!

    WHAT TO LOOK AT

    As you look through your “Source” traffic, you can segment social media platforms that are sending traffic to you or if you’re using Google Analytics, you can take a wide view by segmenting “Medium: Social”.

    Some questions you can ask yourself to better understand how social media traffic is working for you include:

    • Landing Page/Content/Top Pages: What is my social media traffic looking for? What was enticing enough for them to leave the platform and click-through to my site? 
    • Bounce Rate/Engagement Rate: How engaged are they when they find what they’re looking for? Are they picking up what I’m throwing down?
    • Goals/Events: Is my social media traffic doing the activities I’m most interested in seeing them engaging with? Is there something I can do that would improve the chances of them engaging with my goals/events?

    This is where I need to insert a record scratch because understanding your social media performance isn’t as easy as seeing what they’re doing on your website when they get there.

    When it comes to measuring your social media engagement and performance, it’s just like Vegas: what happens on your social media platform stays on your social media platform.

    The story you see playing out on your website analytics will comment on what people are doing once they enter your universe. However, there’s a totally different story to account for that is taking place in your likes, your comments and your DMs. Your website analytics can’t report on or capture these interactions because they aren’t taking place on your website, which is what YOU are tracking; meanwhile, your social media platforms are each collecting and tracking their own data – their own ways – and you get no control or say over what they’re collecting or how they’re tracking.

    What you DO get, though, is access to the insights that each platform shares and I encourage you to ask yourself a similar vein of questions as to what your social media followers are picking up from what you’re throwing down, and to try, test and track things over there in the same way as you would on your website.

    PAID TRAFFIC

    While paid traffic is obviously people coming to your site because you spent money to have your brand, your content or your offer in front of these people, what is less obvious is how these show up in your analytics.

    For instance, you may be seeing “cpc” (meaning cost per click) or “cpm” (meaning cost per mille, or per thousand impressions), and all of this will depend on how you’re using ads and what platform you’re using to advertise.

    Once you figure out what that looks like in your reports, the questions you’ll ask yourself about your paid campaigns will depend on HOW you’re using paid advertising in the first place.

    Sometimes the goal for your paid campaign was to ATTRACT new audience, maybe it was to BUILD relationships, you may have been advertising to CONVERT to sales or perhaps it is a combination of the three. The questions you ask yourself will depend on the intent you had for those ads so focus on your goal and start exploring whether that was accomplished, as well as how and why that happened.

    And look, if there’s one take-away from all of this is to ISOLATE your results as much as possible. It’s like making a holiday meal – you’re going to whip the potatoes and you’re going to baste the bird, but each will have to be done one-at-a-time… even though we’re enjoying the resulting meal as a whole.

    That’s how results work: a lot of individual elements contribute to the outcome you get and it’s by investing your TLC into each of these elements individually that the whole of your results will improve.

    If this is speaking to you and you want it to speak a little more loudly to you, there’s a link in the shownotes for you get more with my new book called Results On Repeat. We get in-depth with how you’re publishing, tracking and improving on all those individual elements that contribute to your overall marketing picture and I couldn’t be prouder, and I’d love for you to be proud too so check that out in the shownotes and make sure you’re subscribed so we can check each other out next week.

    Talk soon – baiiiiieee!

    CONTINUE READING