Facebook has been all the rage these days since the site opened its doors to the masses and experienced a steep growth spurt. It’s an interesting place to watch no matter what, but it can also clue you in on how to more effectively market your products, services or affiliate offerings with your blog.
Facebook and the Art of Segmentation
Some people seem to miss the value in Facebook’s 35 million users, because the advertising rates are low and the click-through rates abominable. The real value in Facebook’s audience comes from data mining and the ability to watch, track and cluster what attractive demographics are doing in the aggregate.
In other words, Facebook may be selling us more than it’s selling ads.
Back in May, Facebook opened up to third-party developers via the Facebook Platform. This essentially allows independent developers to create applications (or widgets) for Facebook users to add to their profiles. These applications can be used to interact with other users, play games, and other social diversions.
While the move to open up the platform to others was applauded (especially compared to the closed off MySpace), the move was not entirely altruistic. One of the keys to extracting value from the patterns of information that Facebook users provide by using the site is segmentation into tighter interest groups. This provides more-focused advertising, sales and marketing opportunities.
So, Facebook smartly opened up the doors to third-party developers and said, “Here, you do the work.” Developers get access to the huge Facebook audience, with the hopes that their application will go viral. Facebook gets to sit back, watch and record.
Facebook applications are turning into a marketable item themselves if enough users are acquired. Chris Pearson has recently launched an application for pro football fans. If you’re a football fan on Facebook, check it out here to get a feel for how one might market to this niche audience down the road.
Your Blog and the Art of Segmentation
Even though your blog audience is more tightly focused than Facebook’s, you can still benefit from segmenting by interest. This is especially important when you’re trying to sell something. As I said in the very earliest days of this blog, you need to take people off road to sell to them, for several important reasons.
First of all, getting someone to buy something usually takes repeated exposure to the offer. While you might get away with making a pitch in a blog post, you’d likely need to keep making that pitch repeatedly to maximize conversions.
Do that, and you’ll likely run off most of your audience. They opted-in for your content, not to be barraged with sales messages.
So, what you want to do is only speak to the people who are interested in hearing specifically about whatever it is you’re selling, and continue delivering content to other readers until you have something to sell that’s of interest to them.
Here’s an example of how you can go about carving out a portion of your audience for opt-in marketing:
- Write a post that drives interested prospects to a landing page.
- Offer a free five-part tutorial on how to use the product you’re selling, or why it’s beneficial. Make the tutorial educational and honest rather than a hype-filled hard sell—it works.
- Deliver the tutorial over the span of a week or so via autoresponder. At some point in the tutorial you’ll want to start offering a call to action to actually buy the product or contact you, as applicable.
- After the tutorial is over, continue to follow-up with related content that allows you to repeat the call to action. You should probably not mail more than once a week, although many people have had success with more aggressive scheduling. The key is to continue to offer value combined with your offer.
So, for example, if you’re trying to make money with your blog via affiliate marketing, don’t just write one post about a product you think will appeal to your audience and hope the search engine gods will bless you. Offer an educational marketing experience via your copywriting skills to those who are truly interested, and let the magic of repetition do the rest.
The Art of the Autoresponder
Email autoresponders are one of the mainstays of effective online marketing, but bloggers very rarely use them. Email marketing may seem passé, but think about this—how many emails a day do you receive from Facebook that drive you back to the site?
Email is alive and well when delivered to people who want to hear from you. That’s why taking a tutorial marketing approach to selling is so important—people want independent value when making buying decisions. Give them content that stands on its own while also making an offer, and they’ll be more inclined to do business with you.
I use autoresponders in just about every for-profit project I do, and you’ll start seeing them used on Copyblogger as well going forward. In fact, I plan to offer up a tutorial with more advanced tips on creating these types of marketing tutorials (how meta!), and it will naturally be delivered only to those people who want it.
If you’re interested in learning more about using autoresponders in the meantime, AWeber offers free how-to videos and live educational webinars. AWeber is my autoresponder of choice, so I do get a commission if you sign up with them through my link. Hey, school’s starting… the babies need new shoes!