What Facebook Can Teach You About Effective Blog Marketing

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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:

  1. Write a post that drives interested prospects to a landing page.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

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Comments

  1. Brian, this is an excellent article. And you have good timing as well!

    My blog has two main purposes: build authority and sell our products. Over the few weeks that we’ve been going now I have had to make numerous decisions about when to sell our product and when to give free content. Going forward, I’ve come to much the same conclusion as you have. I will be reducing the sales pitch to a bare minimum (including removing big photos, etc… from the sidebar) and be focusing on delivery a pure resource.

    From there my plan is to offer the occasional doorway into another section of the website. Interested parties will follow that path out of curiosity, and will end up on pages where I can sell our products. People who aren’t interested will never follow.

    Thanks for the article, can’t wait for more info about your autoresponder selections.

    – Mason

  2. Aweber is also my tool of choice for newsletters and auto responders. Many people wonder why I created a newsletter in addition to my RSS readership, especially as feedburner allows email subscription, but a focused and targeted newsletter is the perfect addition to run in parallel to a more general audience.

  3. Hey Brian,

    Great points about the value of education/tutorial marketing.

    A blog is a great marketing tool, but it’s not the only one, and it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If we have people who are interested enough in what we have to say on our blogs to subscribe, we’re doing them and ourselves a disservice by not giving them the opportunity to take advantage of our expertise in other related or more focused topics.

    And thanks for the AWeber/webinars mention – we try to practice what we (and you) preach and provide as much education as we can :)

  4. I think it still helps to note that the facebook demographic is still largely ruled by Generation Y. If you’re marketing to that group, it helps to know something of their habits, how facebook is used, and what they care about.

    I’ve written a tangentially related article on that topic — see The Facebook Dilemma

  5. Day after day i just love returning to read your posts….great blog Brian!

  6. Great post.

    I’ll use some of that advice about driving interested readers to a landing page….very soon.

  7. Hi Brian I am a first time reader of your blog… and must say got something to learn and add up to my knowledge… I never thought of autoresponders … but will definitely give it a try just to check how beneficial they could be for me as a blogger…

  8. Facebook has nice boobies too.

  9. Thanks for the post, very interesting!

  10. Interesting idea Brian. Keeps everyone happy and still makes you money. I’m still learning how best to monetize my site. I’d naturally like to make some money, but even more I want to remain loyal to my readers who are loyal to me and not force products in front of them.

    I like the idea of sending those who are interested to the products while simply trying to present information to the rest.

  11. How should you answer privacy concerns? I think as customers become more aware of how their personal data can be exploited, they’ll be less willing to tag along. And of course marketers everywhere, including those who play it straight, suffer.

  12. Rico, with autoresponders, you’re only asking people for an email address and a maybe a first name (although you can ask for more). You should have a privacy policy and a no spam statement that let’s people know their information is safe.

    As for Facebook, well, if you’re concerned about privacy, you shouldn’t use the site at all. Take a look at their privacy policy and you’ll see that you have none when it comes to Facebook watching and tracking you.

  13. Great article again, Brian. I’ve encountered a lively debate topic with Facebook recently and blogged about it on my site today. Interested in the drawbacks of having professional networking enter the picture for folks using Facebook (and other sites) as personal networking sites. The collision of worlds is frightening for some. Interested in your take.

  14. Brian, thanks for the autoresponder tips and for getting technical and specific- how to do the tech part scares me b/c it’s so, well, darn annoying.

  15. I’ve noticed a significant uptick in the past week of individuals requesting links with me on Facebook. I’m very curious what their membership growth rate is at right now. Anyone know?

  16. Thanks Brian!

  17. Great Resource!

  18. On point 4 I think you have an “if” when you meant to type “is”.

    Love the content and the interview you did with the Internet Business Mastery.

  19. I understand that facebook also offers classified ads that can be targeted by demographics and behavioral characteristics.

    This provides Internet marketers a great opportunity to reach their target markets with marketing messages. All they have to know is the demographics of their target market.

    For those who don’t know anything about market segmentation or demographics of their target markets, I offer a free report to help determine the demographics by other characteristics, and vice versa. It’s at http://www.StrategicMarketSegmentation.com

  20. This is so true!
    I really need to get email marketing on my blog!
    I know that I need to!
    delivering value upfront is a must!
    the customer will love you if you educate and keep them updated for free.
    they’ll buy your products and services because they know that your an expert and they want to be an expert.
    we’re all copycatting somebody or multiple somebody’s!

    thanks for the awesome post!

    David,

    http://yougottaseethisblog.com