The Complete Guide to Book Marketing (how to launch a book to #1 on Amazon)

Note from Dan: Hey guys, a few weeks ago I hired Tom to help me with the launch of my first book, The 7 Day Startup. It was the best decision I have made in a long time. The book has been downloaded over 6,000 times in a few days and is the #1 free book in the Startups category on Amazon Kindle (#2 in the whole business category). Tom has also been working on this post to reveal everything we did, I hope you like it. Over to Tom. 

I met Dan for the first time about a month ago. It only took a few seconds of conversation to realize that Dan is a passionate, smart, and driven person – the kind of person you’d love to work with if you ever had the opportunity.

Lucky for me, Dan was working on a new book and needed help launching it.

As a boutique book publisher that specializes in business nonfiction, I was excited by the prospect. The book Dan had written - The 7 Day Startup - was about his foray into entrepreneurship, the roller-coaster ride he experienced trying to build a startup, and how, after failing multiple times, he was able to launch WPCurve.com in 7 days and subsequently scale it to a 6 figure company within months.

This is exactly the type of book project I love to be involved in and I knew from Dan’s transparent, down to earth approach, he’d be a pleasure to work with.

Then he told me he wanted to launch the book in less than three weeks. And not only that, he wanted me at the same time to create the most useful, comprehensive and detailed post that exists on the topic of book marketing.

That’s when I knew Dan was crazy.

Normally, it takes a few months to properly prepare for a launch (whether for a book, a digital or physical product, or anything in between). But here’s the thing – at this point, I couldn’t back down. Dan had just told me all about his book and how he was able to launch a 6 figure business in 7 days – surely I could launch a book in as much time, right?

There was only one way to find out.

So I got started.

He wanted to make it free and was tossing up between putting it up on his site as a PDF or doing it via Amazon. I pushed him to do it via Amazon and attempt to reach a bigger new audience via their platform.

Results so far

A few weeks later, we’ve launched the book and after a few days of being live on the Amazon store, it’s already been downloaded over 6,000+ times and is #1 in the Amazon bestseller category under “Startups” and “Small Business” as well as their parent category “Entrepreneurship and small  business” and #2 in the entire “Business” category.

(note: the most recent updates are at the bottom of the page and we’ve hit the top 40 of all of Amazon!…not bad at all)

7_day_startup_downloads

Here is a screenshot of the best sellers rank for the 2 categories. Note it got as high as #30 overall, the screenshot below shows it at #49. This is across all free books in the entire Kindle store.

startups_category

 

Here is the Entrepreneurship and Small business sub-category

small_business_entrepreneurship

Hopefully this momentum will continue as we start our post launch promotion, leveraging Dan’s platform, social networks and our “Influencer Circle” (which I’ll explain in detail later in this post).

Normally, I would wait a couple weeks to write a comprehensive report on the success of launch, but there are three reasons I wanted to share this immediately:

  1. The details are still fresh in my brain (like hot-out-of-the-oven fresh), which means you’ll get a lot of “on the ground details” that are often absent in blog posts like this
  2. The book is live right now and free for only a couple more days. GRAB IT HERE!
  3. Dan made me.

A few things before we get started:

  • My first call with Dan was on 8 September, 2014. We launched the book on 29 September, 2014 – 21 days later. However, a lot of that time was spent finalizing the digital and physical print files, determining how we wanted to launch (as in: what platform), as well as coordinating the launch with Dan’s speaking engagement at the end of the month. All of the work that was done could be condensed into 7 days if you’re willing to commit 6 – 10 hours a day to make it happen. As it turned out we only actually finished the book 1 day before we launched it!
  • We had planned on a coordinated physical print promotion to coworking spaces and audiobook release, but time and other outstanding events created some hurdles for us and those didn’t happen (not yet, at least). So while I’ll share what we tried to do with these tactics, I don’t include them as requirements in “The Essential Book Marketing Plan” I’m sharing with you here.
  • This blog post is written in chronological order of important items and tasks that need to be completed before you launch. There’s some room here for flex in terms of order and priority, but generally speaking: this is the sequence I would recommend you use for your book launch.

And finally, if you’d like a copy of the “Book Marketing Canvas” (more on this below) as well as video walk-throughs of everything we did to launch this book, grab my “Book Marketing Toolkit” over here: tommorkes.com/7daybooklaunch.

Alright, now onto the juicy details.

Grab a coffee or caramels, bookmark this page, and enjoy:

Day 7: Create Your Book Marketing Canvas

Here’s the deal: anyone can publish a book. In fact, hundreds of thousands do every year. The barrier to entry is so low it’s as good as non-existent.

Like Seth Godin says: the gatekeepers are gone (or at least fading in power and control).

But once anyone can publish anything at any moment, many will. And the result is noise.

Lots of noise.

In 2012, there were over 391,000 self-published books alone. The statistics aren’t in just yet for 2013 and beyond, but based on the trend line, that number is exploding.

So how do you get noticed in an increasingly noisy world? Well you need an organized marketing effort.

The “Book Marketing Canvas” is exactly that.

3 book marketing canvas

The “Book Marketing Canvas” is a simple, one pager – an adaptation of Alexander Osterwalder’s business model canvas or more recently Ash Maurya’s lean canvas, which are one page business models for startups.

The canvas methodically reverse-engineers the successful launches of competitors and develops an overlay or template that allows us to replicate their success with our own project.

The reality is that the most successful authors in the world are already doing just that; they’ve developed a template or blueprint that allows them to approach every book launch in a standardized, predictable way. This is important because it reduces waste (of time, money, and effort) and leverages the 80/20 rule or Paretto’s Principal: that 20% (give or take) of our efforts will result in 80% (ish) of results.

The “Book Marketing Canvas” is your template to achieve these same outstanding results. This assumes your content is good and you have somewhat of a platform or audience to start with.

Next, I’m going to walk you through the main elements of the “Book Marketing Canvas” and specific topics you need to address in order to achieve a successful book launch.

Note: in an ideal world, you’ll have developed your “Book Marketing Canvas” long before you ever start writing. However, if you already have a book finished, you still need to draft out all the elements so you know exactly how to develop and deploy your marketing and sales initiative.

For our purposes, I’m going to walk you through Dan’s “Book Marketing Canvas” as an example of how to fill this document out.

Let’s get to it:

Step 1.Basic Info (the top section of the Book Marketing Canvas)

4 book marketing canvas

The top section of the “Book Marketing Canvas” is all basic but essential information. This should take you about 57 seconds to fill out:

  • author
  • editor
  • publisher
  • marketing / book launch consultant (often, this is the same as a publisher, but if you’re self-publishing, you’ll want to hire someone for this)
  • title
  • launch date (important!  everything needs a ship date – everything!)
  • formats (how do you plan to roll this book out? PDF? Kindle? etc.)

Next, we deep-dive into the heart of the “Book Marketing Launch Canvas”

Step 2. Who is this book for?

5 book marketing canvas

This may be the most important question of the whole “Book Marketing Canvas.” After all, if you aren’t precise about who you’re writing for, how can you reach them?  How can you determine your book sales page copy or design?  How can you properly market or sell to them?

In this section, you want to get clear on who your target audience. Some questions that will help:

  • Who are you writing your book for?
  • Who is your ideal readership / reader segment / customer segment?
  • How do they refer to themselves (not how do you refer to them)?

Step 3. Who are your early adopters?

6 book marketing canvasNext, we want to find out who among your target audience (reader segment) will be the first to click “buy.” Whether you’re selling your book for free, through the Amazon platform, or direct to customer using a platform like Gumroad.com, this section can’t be stressed enough.

Early adopters are the most important group of people for a book launch (or any launch, really). These are the excited readers, the top 3 – 5% of your audience who will buy on proof of concept alone (oftentimes, simply because your name is assosicated with a project).

The keys are to:

  1. Identify this group
  2. Make sure you’re able to reach out to them directly and ideally separately from your general audience or reader segment (more on creating an Ambassador group below)
  3. Incentivize them to buy, share, and review on launch day
  4. Create an ‘early access’ ambassador group for your book. This group will get early access to the book before anyone else (or, if you’re doing a hard launch day, they’ll be the first to know and get access). They will be your key for spreading the word when you launch.

Step 4. What problem is your book solving?

7 book marketing canvas

Once you identify exactly who your ideal reader is, you’ll want to clarify what your book is about (and why your readership should care). This means identifying the main problem your book is solving.

Clarifying the problem helps with sales page copy, newsletter copy, and ultimately: activating your reader segment. When an author articulates a problem we have in the language we use with ourselves (often subcosciously), it’ triggers trust.

For The 7 Day Startup, we knew we were solving the problem of the “wantrepreneur” (or someone who had great ideas but could never properly execute on them). Knowing the problem we were solving, it was easy to come up with a list of bullet points for our sales page that spoke directly to this demographic. This landing page was put together using OptimizePress which comes with a bunch of suitable templates.

You can check out the landing p age for The 7 Day Startup here.

8 the 7 day startup

Every bullet point here is the solution for a common “wantrepreneur” problem (or at least identifies the problem wantrepreneurs have – like the concept of validation – and shows that we have the solution).

Step 5. How does your book solve this problem?

9 book marketing canvas

Once we understand the problem we’re solving, the next question is: how do we actually solve it with our book?

A book is a medium to exchange an idea. In that respect, it’s a lot like YouTube, or a blog, or Twitter…but with a big difference: a book allows us the space and length to dive deep into a subject. That means the solution to the problem we’ve identified ought to be something that benefits from this, not detracts from it.

Have you ever read reviews on Amazon where people say: could have been summed up in a blog post? If you’re solving the right problem with the right medium (in this case, a book), you’ll never see these comments (except from the outlying haters, but you can safely ignore them).

For The 7 Day Startup, Dan kept his book fluff-free – a short, powerful, and most importantly, ACTIONABLE read, complete with a half dozen bonus materials to help you start a business from scratch in 7 days.

This was due largely to the help of some early reviewers and an awesome editor, Elisa from Writing Business Well.

Step 6. How will you reach your readers and early adopters?

10 book marketing canvas

Next to identifying the target audience for your book, this is the most important part of the “Book Marketing Canvas.”

It doesn’t matter if you write the best book in the world if no one reads it. Conversely, there are plenty of poorly written books that become bestsellers.

The differentiator?  Activating and catalyzing your fanbase.

In other words: how do you get your biggest fans to drop what they’re doing, read your book, write a review, and spread the word? I write more about this process below, but for now, we just want to figure out who those fans are and how we can reach them (and who they can reach, by extension).

Step 7. How do you measure success?

11 book marketing canvas

Before you move on, it’s important to determine your metrics for success.

One of the first things Dan said to me over the phone: “I’m giving this book away for free and you’re not going to change my mind on it.”

Cool – that rules out revenue as a metric for success.  So what did Dan care about?  Reach and impact.

That’s why we went with Amazon’s platform: it allowed Dan’s book to be consumed by the broadest possible audience (whereas, had we given his book away for free on wpcurve.com, it wouldn’t have reached quite as broad an audience…but could have brought in more revenue, had that been the point).

You get the idea. Depending on what your metrics (how you measure success), this will dictate the distribution channels you use.

Step 8. What makes this book unique?

uniqueWrapping up the mid-section of the “Book Marketing Launch Canvas” is identifying exactly what makes this book unique.

Here we want to figure out what allows this book to stand out in a very noisy crowd. It will be different for every book.

It could be one of the following:

  • Is it the authors credientials and testimonials?
  • Is the book the only one in a niche that is underserved in the Amazon marketplace?
  • Is it packaged or designed differently?
  • Something else?

Whatever makes this book stand out from the crowd (in a way that matters) gives us our edge.

We want to exploit this when it comes to promoting the book.

Step 9. How do you plan to price your book? What are your expenses / overhead?

13 book marketing canvas

Finally, in the bottom section of the “Book Marketing Launch Canvas” is the more technical side of the book launch:

  1. What is our overhead for this book launch?  What are our individual expenses?
  2. How do we plan to price our book?

It’s important to note that while these two factors are related, they are entirely independent of one another. It’s more than possible to sell an entirely digital book (essentially no overhead) for $300 (just takes very good marketing, and you’re better off calling it an eCourse or training program). On the other hand, selling a cookie-cutter paperback can only sell within a narrow price range, so we better do our due diligence to figure out if this book is even worth writing or selling in the first place.

Dan was adamant about not selling The 7 Day Startup for profit, so we basically just ignored this part. However, since Dan was planning to purchase paperbacks to hand out at conferences and give as gifts, I collected some basic Createspace print on demand costs for reference. Your particular situation will depend primarily on goals (see number 6 above), and target audience (number 2).

Day 6: Assemble Your Tribe

Once you’ve created your “Book Marketing Canvas” you need to take action on the most important task: assembling and catalyzing your fanbase.

Step 1: Build Your ‘Notification’ List

Using the “Book Marketing Launch Canvas” from the previous section, we identified our target audience as:

  1. entreprenurs
  2. wantrepreneurs
  3. startup founders
  4. freelancers

The good news: many of these target demographics are present, to some degree, in Dan’s main wpcurve.com newsletter, which numbers over 10,000. This made it an ideal place to start to reach out and ask people if they wanted to be notified when the book launched.

Key places to share your ‘notification list’:

  1. Your main email list / newsletter
  2. FB friends / groups you run
  3. With permission: other peoples lists and other FB groups
  4. Dan has also been using ConvertPress (a WP Curve owned plugin), to get email optins at the end of blog posts.

By reaching out to his list, Dan was able to create a list of around 1,500 people who wanted to be notified when the book would launch. Dan put a lot of content out leading up to the launch, which you can see on the resources page.

Because Dan had such a large audience to begin with, this was more than enough to get us started. If you don’t have the same list size, you’ll need to reach out to other audiences and source people from other groups and blogs. The most effective way to do this is through guest posting and drawing people back to your ‘notification’ list splash page. That’s how Dan originally built his audience.

Here’s how simple a notification list splash page can be. This is a standard ConvertPress template.

14 the 7 day startup

The reason something this simple works: we’re only going after early adopters here. The kind of people who are so excited by whatever you do that they’ll be the first in line (to subscribe, buy, share, whatever).

Just to reinforce this concept: this page does not have to be complex. A brief overview of the book and some bullet points is more than enough.

Step 2: Create an Ambassador List

Once you’ve assembled your ‘notification’ list, it’s time to reach out to these same people and ask if any of them would like to become ambassadors.

An ambassador is someone who will review and share your book when it launches in exchange for early access to the book (or bonuses, or direct access to you, or some other perk).

Notable nonfiction authors who have used this same technique to launch themselves to the top of the charts: Pat Flynn, Chris Ducker, Tim Ferriss, Charlie Hoehn, Natalie Sisson…just to name a few off the top of my head.

Related: Book marketing with Charlie Hoehn.

The point is: anyone who is reaching the top of the charts these days is creating a group like this to lead the marketing effort (or has a massive marketing budget behind them to go the giveaway and promotion route, but I’m writing this for bootstrappers in particular).

Here’s an example of a simple example of an ambassador optin page:

15 the 7 day startup

This can be even simpler than the other page because these people are familiar with your book already.

All you wan to do with this optin is let people know that you’ll be asking a favor in exchange for the gifts / benefits they’ll receive as ambassadors (the more specific the better). In Dan’s case, he went into way more detail in his email to the ‘notification list.’

Here’s Dan’s exact email copy that you can copy, paste and edit for your situation. Grab it here.

Step 3: Create Your “Influencer Circle” List

Like ambassadors, influencers are key to your book launch success.

What’s an influencer? It’s anyone with an audience of passionate readers / viewers / followers. There’s no official number associated with how big an audience has to be to make someone an influencer (as in: minimum 1,000 subscribers, for example). Oftentimes, those with smaller lists have more passionate fans and can create a bigger impact than larger sites with less engagement.

The important questions you need to ask as you assemble your Influencer Circle:

  • does this person command the respect of his or her peers and audience?
  • does this person have an audience or work in an industry compatible with the message of my book?
  • would my book resonate with this influencer and his / her audience?

It’s important to make sure that “influence” and “compatible messages” are both taken into consideration.

It’s not only about who you know, but about how they line up with you and the message of the book.

Luckily, Dan had already built up a sizeable group of influencers who were in his niche / industry – men and women who ran companies or wrote about startups and small businesses; audiences that would certainly resonate with his message. Dan makes a strong effort to help these guys so he doesn’t mind asking for help when he needs it.

To create our list, we created a collaborative spreadsheet (we used Hackpad but Google Docs or OneNote are just as capable), and started brainstorming everyone in Dan’s network. We listed off everyone Dan knew and I knew, combined lists, and prioritized by (1) list size and (2) influence (note: this was more gut instinct than science).

At this point, we don’t want to reach out to Influencers – we’ll be doing that later – but we do want to have our list organized and ready to go when we do share our book with them.

2 Psychological Reasons You Need an Influencers Circle

Here’s the deal: you can’t dismiss creating an “Influencers Circle” for your book. Even people with massive audiences (1 million+) benefit from leveraging an “Influencers Circle.”  Here are the two most important 2 psychological reasons this is the case:

  1. Social Proof. Influencers command the respect of followers and peers. Getting their validation adds social proof to your work, which increases trust (which ultimately means more people will want to read what you’ve written). And while testimonials are great, it’s much more powerful to have the author of said testimonial actually share your book with their audience, because they now have skin in the game.
  2. Mere-Exposure Effect. Fact: the more often we see something, the more we like it. This is true with peoples faces (that’s why I think I’m so handsome) as much as it’s true with products and services. Getting influencers to share your book increases the chance that the same person will see the same book more than once, subconsciously increasing their desire for it.

And while not a psychological reason, Influencers can multiply your readership. After all, you’re now accessing a brand new group, many of whom may not have been in your circle to begin with, so the more people who share your work, the better. It doesn’t hurt their reputation either to be associated with a great project, particularly if it’s a success.

Now that you’ve assembled your ‘notification list’, ‘ambassador list’ and developed your “Influencer Circle” it’s time to prepare the rest of your launch.

Step 4: Identify Alternative Marketing Channels

Everyone does social media and their own lists. What can you do to stand out?

As an example, Dan and I created a list of every co-working space in the United States and began expanding that out into other countries. Our ideal endstate: to send free copies of the book to every single coworking space we can find (who would want our book).

Why?

Because co-working spaces are ideal distribution and marketing channels for a book on starting a business in 7 days.

For your book, it may make more sense to try something different (artisan coffee shops? monthly REI meetup groups? local writers workshops? whatever type of group would resonate with your message, go with that).

Note: due to time constraints we haven’t sent off books to co-working spaces just yet, but in an ideal world, this would have been just one promotional channel we would have gone through to spread the word.

Additional Alternative Marketing Channels for Your Book:

  • Podcast and blog give-aways (Tim Ferriss does this with all his book launches and it pushes him to the top of the charts every time)
  • Conferences (Dan spoke at a conference the weekend before the release of our book. We were hoping to get physical copies to him before this event, but the printing solutions in Australia are limited; no such thing as two day printing down-under…kind of a bummer, but we will have them for Dan’s next conference later this month).
  • Live Google Hangout launch celebration (book launches are events and a live Google Hangout with give-aways and other surprises is an excellent way to spread the word and get people excited to contribute and share your work. Because of Dan’s tight schedule we had to scrap this idea, but it would have been a great way to build even more excitement around the release).
  • Listing sites and communities – We’ve also had some success leveraging listing sites and communities for the book launch (more on that below).

Day 5: Build Your High-Converting Book Sales Page

This next part can either take weeks or a couple hours. It all depends on how skilled you are at the process or how big your budget is.

When it came to building out the book sales page for The 7 Day Startup, I took care of that process for Dan, drawing inspiration from several sources:

When it comes to design, especially for sales pages, this is the rule of thumb to live by: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or more appropriately: if something simple works, stick with that (adding bells and whistles only overcomplicates things and leads to more things breaking).

Here’s the way we templated our sales page:

High-Converting Book Sales Page Structure:

  1. Above the fold – Good heading minimal text, ebook picture and buy button and 1 endorsement
  2. What you will learn section
  3. Who should read it
  4. Endorsements
  5. Download a sample - (unnecessary for a free book)
  6. Take a peek inside
  7. Add screenshots of the book here when they’re ready
  8. About the author
  9. Guarantee - (overkill for a kindle book – more appropriate for an expensive product)

This is where the “Book Marketing Launch” comes in very handy.

Remember the part about the problem we were solving and how the book solves that problem (part 4 and 5)? This becomes the “What you will learn section”:

16 the 7 day startup

Remember how we identified our target audience or readership? This becomes the section “Who should read it”:

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Remember the part about what makes your book unique? This becomes the “sneak peak” section:

18 the 7 day startup

Finally, endorsements can be added from a small section of influencers or your audience who get early access in exchange for sales page testimonials.

Note: we decided to scrap the free chapter part and the guarantee. While many book sales pages use these, it doesn’t seem necessarying when (1) the book is free anyway and (2) it’s sold on Amazon (Amazon comes with its own social proof and trust mechanisms – no need for overkill).

I built out this entire page on Optimizepress 2.0, but it’s more than possible to build something out using a basic wordpress page (it will just take a bit more time to properly format).

All of the graphics were done by Derek Murphy from CreativIndie. Derek looked after the whole process of the main cover image, all associated 3d book images and the entire book formatting. He produced versions in multiple versions for PDF, Kindle and print and advised on book marketing and distribution too. He did a great job and with those nice graphics, it made it a lot easier to come up with a nice looking landing page.

Day 4: Get Your Book Ready for Distribution

Now that we have the backbone of our promotional effort ready – the ambassadors and the sales page (where most people will land when you start sharing and spreading the message) – it’s time to square away the distribution.

For Dan, while we played around with several options, we ultimately decided on Amazon for selling the book digitally and Createspace for our print on demand service.

This mean we needed to:

  1. create an Amazon KDP account
  2. create a Createspace account
  3. create an Amazon Author account (yes, this is separate)
  4. buy an ISBN (comes free if you want to use Createspace’s as your “publisher”; otherwise it costs about $125 for a single ISBN)
  5. generate an ASIN (like an ISBN but for digital books – Amazon creates this automatically for you when you upload a book into KDP)
  6. create your book description, about the author description, and consolidate editorial reviews (ideally quotes about your book that will make you look awesome)

Honestly, there are another couple dozen things that need to be squared away if you’re going this route, but I don’t want to bore you. However, I’ve created a comprehensive KDP and Createspace checklist for those interested in going this route. Check it out here.

Day 3: Notify Ambassadors and Influencers

Now that you have everything setup in the backend, it’s time to share your book with Ambassadors and Influencers. In our case we only gave them a few days because of time constraints but ideally you’d give them 1-2 weeks to get their head around the book and how they might want to be involved.

Step 1: Email your ambassadors a free copy of the book

For ambassadors, I recommend sharing a link to the book that is hosted on something like Amazon S3. That way you can track downloads with something like S3Stat.com (which is what we did).

Step 2: Share your free book with influencers

There are generally two types of influencers:

  1. those you know (well enough), and
  2. those you could know better

For the former, a simple, personal email letting them know you’re launching something big and giving it away free is more than enough info. For a ‘cold’ email to to someone you could know better, you’ll need to give the recipient an out. You can send the file directly if you’re on a tight schedule, otherwise I’d recommend you don’t send the file right away to this group – tell them what you’re working on and why they’d like it, then let them know you’d love to send them a free copy.

When it came to The 7 Day Startup, we had Dan reach out to every influencer on the list personally and let them know about his new book that would be coming out in a few days, with an offer to share the free book with them. For those Dan knew pretty well, we shared the book in the email. For others, we asked if they would like a free copy.

In either case, the emails were low pressure and allowed the influencer to choose not to take action. Here’s example email copy Dan wrote to one of the influencers he knows pretty well:

* * *

Hey man, how’s it going? Was good to catch up in Sydney. I’m down there again this weekend actually at WordCamp but I’m in and out. 

I’m coming out with a book next week.

It’s called The 7 Day Startup.

Here’s a link to the advance copy before it releases. Please don’t share it, it will be released on Amazon on Monday. 

I would value your feedback if you get the chance, although I know it’s late notice. I know you like to read. If you like it, it would be cool to have some shares next week when it launches, but only if you think it’s good for your audience of course. 

It will be free and I’ve also put together a huge list of related resources that are also free (still working on this page). I think Amazon will only let me keep it free for a week but after that I’ll make it whatever the minimum is. 

Thanks so much, let me know if I can help you with anything. I mention you in the book and the acknowledgements. 

-         Dan

* * *

As you build your “Influencer Circle” you’ll realize you know some influencers better than others. Those you know better you can be more direct with (I need help spreading the word – please share), but for those you don’t know quite so well, it helps to approach these conversations more politely and get their buy in before you send the free book (I have a new book I think you’ll love – it releases next week but I’d love to give you a free advance copy. Let me know if you’d like one!).

Bonus Points: In some cases, offering a signed copy or physical print of the book will go a long way, creating a much bigger impact. The problem for us was that we were on too much of a time crunch properly arrange this, so we stuck to sharing digital copies.

Day 2: Final Prep and Pre-Launch Marketing

Yes, day 2 is all just final preparatory work. All the wheels should already be set in motion, so you want to use this day before launch to make sure:

  1. everything is finalized and ready for distribution
  2. the majority or all of your copy is created (to notify ambassadors, your main email list, influencers, etc. about the launch)
  3. you’re not missing something (because we’re almost always missing something).

Here are a few steps to make sure you cover all your bases:

Step 1: confirm all files and distribution channels are ready to go

If you’re going the Amazon route, it’s so important everything is ready at LEAST 24 hours out from launch. Amazon’s system takes a while to update when you have new changes.

If you’re going the KDP route, it takes a MINIMUM of 24 hours advance notice to create a free promotion or countdown deal (exclusive to KDP select enrolled books…meaning – you must keep your book exclusively on the Amazon platform for at least 90 days)

Step 2: create ALL email and Facebook copy for the first few days of the launch

When the launch happens, your job is to lead the movement. This means building awareness of the release and creating energy and excitement around it. The more excited people are, the more willing they will be to download, review and share.

For The 7 Day Startup, since we knew we were doing a 5 day free giveaway promotion, we knew we needed 5 days worth of content. While we didn’t write out every email and FB message before we started, we did create key milestones and times that would trigger certain emails.

Step 3: create promotional materials and preschedule them for launch week

When your book launches, you want to be everywhere. That’s where it helps to have multiple platforms (blog, newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ etc.) sharing content in multiple mediums and formats (text, images / graphics, videos, etc.).

For text, creating Click-to-Tweets out of quotes is an easy, effective way to spread the message.

For graphics, I recommend something like Canva.com if you’re not a Photoshop whiz or don’t have a full-time artist on staff. The best part: Canva.com comes with templates for all your social media needs:

19 canva

Here’s an example of a simple graphic we created in Canva.com for Dan’s book marketing campaign:

20 the 7 day startup promotional graphic

Okay, just kidding. We didn’t actually use this image to spread the gospel about Dan’s book…but if you think we should, leave a message in the comments below and let us know (if we get over 50 comments, we’ll change the cover of the book to this*)!

*we probably won’t do that.

Dan: We definitely won’t do that, but I will change my Facebook profile pic for a week

Day 1: Launch

This is where the rubber meets the road.

Everything up to this point has been preparing your launch for this day. But it doesn’t mean you hit the publish button and sit back. The day of launch is the most important part of your book marketing plan.

So get your quad-shot espresso ready and let’s get to it:

Step 1: Notify all Ambassadors that your book is live and available for download

Do this via your ambassador email list as well as on the Facebook page you created. Here’s an example of how Dan catalyzed his ambassador list (first hitting up the FB group with explicit instructions, and letting them know an email would be coming shortly):

21 facebook post about the 7 day startup

Step 2: Email Your “Influencer Circle”

Before you shoot off this email, remember this important fact: important people are busy. Hell – everyone is busy. So make it PAINLESSLY EASY to share your book.

How? Include a click-to-tweet that has all your info pre-filled and formatted. This takes about 17 seconds to do on the part of the influencer, and only a few minutes on your end to properly set it up.

Here’s exactly how you can do it:

Go to Clicktotweet.com

22 clicktotweet the 7 day startup

Go to Bitly.com to shorten the link to your book – either the splash page or directly to Amazon or whatever platform you’re using. (Bonus: this is also great for tracking purposes, so you should definitely use it)

23 bitly the 7 day startup

Create a Click-to-Tweet message that is generic enough that anyone could share, but also enourages people to click through (notice the clear call to action at the end: “Get it!”). Also make sure you tag yourself in the message (alternatively, hashtags could work in this situation):

clicktotweet

Here are a few we put together for the launch:

My buddy @thedannorris has released his book The 7 Day Startup. It’s free this week on Amazon. Highly recommended CLICK TO TWEET THIS

The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch by @thedannorris is free on Amazon today #startups CLICK TO TWEET THIS

Got a business idea? The 7 Day Startup by @thedannorris will take you from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur. Free today CLICK TO TWEET THIS

Step 3: Promote On Multiple Platforms

Finally, to drive as much initial momentum as possible within the first 24 hours, we made a concerted effort to post on as many platforms and mediums as possible:

  • Business / marketing focused Facebook Pages (offering the book free makes it an easy share)
  • Business / marketing focused forums like Fizzle.co (sharing the experience of marketing the book makes this a education-first post that the forum will find helpful)
  • Sharing on listing sites and communities like Producthunt.com (more below)
  • Reddit / Digg / Stumbleupon / Medium (really, anywhere you can share your book, the better)

Listing sites and communities

One unexpected surprise for us was the traction we got off listing sites and communities. Dan posted a book launch thread in a forum that he is a member of. We also had the book posted on:

We posted it on Bootstrappers but generous podcast host Jacques Van Heerden posted it on Product Hunt after he recorded this episode with Dan on the day of the launch. The post got immediate traction on Product Hunt and shot to the front page where it stayed in the top 10 all day.

This was a huge surprise, here is all of the last 2 days with Product Hunt sending the vast majority of it.

product_hunt

The bounce rate was pretty high so I guess a lot of people were just having a quick look. However it was a mostly new audience which is cool. Since we weren’t converting people on the site (i.e. we were sending them to Amazon) it’s hard to tell how many people signed up. But I suspect quite a few. The fact that it resonated on that site (142 votes) tells me it’s interesting to that audience.

For your book there may be other sites like this that can help push it. Be conscious with the rules and don’t oversell on someone else’s platform.

On your own platform (social media, emails, word of mouth etc) don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet a bit around the launch.

Results from the First 3 Days of Our Book Marketing Campaign

Here are our results from the first couple hours of release:

25 the 7 day startup first couple hours

And some stats from Amazon’s KDP site that show us how many downloads after a few hours of release:

26 the 7 day startup first couple hours

By the end of the first day we ended up with:

  • 1,297 downloads
  • 35 reviews (34 5 star reviews, 1 4 star review)
  • Hundreds of sales page hits
  • Dozens of tweets and shares

twitter reviews for the 7 day startup

the 7 day startup amazon reviews

Not bad, but day one is just the start.

Since the launch, Dan has continued to activate and catalyze his ambassador group, his mail list (from wpcurve.com), and his “Influencer Circle.”

The Results of Dan’s Book Marketing Campaign (as of 11pm PST on 1 October):

  • 7,232 downloads
  • 69 reviews (68 5 star reviews, 1 4 star review)
  • 6,021 visits to the main landing page
  • 312 tweets linking to the landing page or the Amazon page
  • 463 Facebook shares linking to the landing pare or the Amazon page
  • #49 in ALL of Amazon (got as high as #30)

Wrapping Up

So that wraps up the breakdown of Dan’s book marketing plan and campaign execution for The 7 Day Startup.

Additionally, if you’re looking to launch your own book soon, I have a half-dozen book marketing resources that you might find useful, including:

  • Editable “Book Marketing Canvas” Powerpoint File
  • Example of Dan Norris’s book (The 7 Day Startup) “Book Marketing Canvas”
  • Email templates (for influencers, ambassadors, etc.)
  • Amazon KDP and Createspace Checklist
  • As well as a video on how to use the “Book Marketing Canvas” to best effect

Head over here to get access to “The Book Marketing Toolkit.”

I hope you found this stuff useful.  If you did, leave us a comment and let us know what you think.  Dan and I would be happy to answer any and all questions on how to effectively market your book and get it to the top of Amazon in one week.

The post The Complete Guide to Book Marketing (how to launch a book to #1 on Amazon) appeared first on WP Curve.

How to Create Mobile Marketing As Unique As Your Users

Your users are unique, so your mobile marketing should be, too. Indeed, since mobile consumers expect a curated and individualized experience, your mobile marketing should be perfectly personalized in order to truly engage them.

You can do this with information provided by consumers over mobile. Most of us check our phones over a hundred times a day, and the data generated from these interactions is a treasure trove of information about who we are, what we do, and what we like.

It’s time to harness the power of this data and become the brand your users want to hear from. Read on for three easy ways to personalize all your mobile marketing efforts.

But, first, your messages are only as powerful as the data you have to work with. While tons of data are generated on the web and across mobile devices, it is crucial to link all these channels to one comprehensive user profile in order to get the most out of your data.

Tools like KISSmetrics help you translate data into insights about real people. Isolated data is just a collection of arbitrary numbers, whereas meaningfully personalized marketing derives from a genuine understanding of your users across multiple channels.

What kind of data should you collect to fuel your personalized marketing? Think about crafting a narrative about your users with the data you collect in order to treat your users like people instead of numbers. Consider what questions you want to answer.

Use data and segmentation to send your users customized mobile messages, so that no two messages are alike. Here are three questions you should be asking about your users to get you thinking about personalization on mobile based on who your users are, what they do, and what they like:

1. Attributes – Who are your users?

You need to know who your users are on a personal level. This data is relatively straightforward and can often be captured when users initially sign up for your service. What is their name? How old are they? Where are they located? What is their gender identification? What devices do they use?

jenny smith profile info

Think about main buyer personas you want to target with your mobile communications strategy. What are their demographics? What are their personalities like? Build out these profiles and create specific segments that correspond to them. That way, you can truly understand their motivations before you start to send them mobile communications via push notifications and in-app messages.

For example, consider a major fashion brand’s target demographics for a summer dress sale. The brand might want to create a segment with females age 18-24 who live in warm climates. These individuals share similar motivations and can be effectively targeted as a group. To engage this demographic, send a personalized push notification or in-app message that says, “Hey [first name], celebrate the beautiful weather in [user location] with our summer dress sale.”

2. Engagement – What do your users do?

Capture data about what your users do, on web and especially within your native app. Track the flow of their actions to understand which features they are most excited about, and which features they do not engage with. This information is critical in initial user onboarding, so you can message new users if they do not use a key feature.

Be sure to track what time of day your users interact with your app the most so that you can communicate with every user at the time they are most likely to engage.

Understanding how users interact with your brand is critical to messaging them appropriately; different messages will be appropriate for new users, dormant users, passers-by users, or engaged users. These segments, also known as engagement states, allow you to group your users based on their real-time engagement level with your brand.

Identify the key behaviors that make someone a top user, and know the warning signs when users are about to drop off. If you can directly target your most vulnerable users, you can significantly reduce user churn.

Recency is also a great way to engage users with personally relevant information. You might send a push notification stating: “Enjoy a meal from [last restaurant viewed] or one of your other favorites. Only two days left to redeem your welcome promo!” Referring to items or features they have recently interacted with can remind them about their favorite parts of your app, and can drive them to convert.

3. Affinity – What do your users like?

By learning about your users’ behavior, you can discover their preferences. What was the last item they viewed? Have they used a particular feature over and over? Are there any trends in the content they are engaging with? What category have they viewed or added to their cart the most? These are indicators of preference and can greatly inform your personalized marketing efforts.

You can make the most of user preferences with personalized mobile marketing. For example, if you’re having a sale on Gucci handbags, it helps to know which users have indicated interest in Gucci so you can speak directly to their affinities.

The same principle is used in the push notification below. ThredUP is a clothing marketplace, and G&J is a seller on the service. The user who received the push notification viewed G&J’s items previously, and thus received a push notification directly referring to this affinity.

thread up notification

Netflix has been doing a great job with personalized push notifications. Using data on what a user has viewed, they send push notifications that are guaranteed to get the mobile user excited about watching a recently added show on Netflix.

netflix notification

Affinity segments are useful on their own, but they become incredibly powerful when combined with Attribute and Engagement segments. For the fashion brand example from earlier, you could target females age 18-24 who have engaged with the app in the last week and who have visited the dresses category in the app over 5 times. This segment is incredibly focused, and you have a far higher likelihood of motivating them to convert by sending them a message on mobile.

Go a step further by customizing the message copy so that no two messages are alike. For example, you can send a personalized message based on a user’s favorite clothing category to inspire a “fear of missing out” and get them personally engaged with the message.

Think about sending them: “Hey [first name]! New styles by [most viewed designer] are going fast. Use code FAVEDESIGN now to get 10% off.” Adding information about a user’s specific size and favorite style make a message even more interesting to them.

thread up notification

Takeaways

In order to succeed in the exciting future of mobile, it is imperative that you get your mobile marketing efforts perfect with highly personalized push and in-app messages. Here are some of the main points for how to delight your mobile users:

  • You need to understand people across channels to effectively engage with them on mobile. And we mean really understand them.
  • Data is more than just numbers; it’s a way to tell stories about real people.
  • First, collect data across channels. Next, segment users. Then, personalize your mobile marketing messages.
  • Personalize based on who your users are, what they do, and what they like. Every message should be unique.
  • Sending personalized push notifications and in-app messages that speak directly can help drive engagement and build brand loyalty.

Today’s mobile consumers expect personalized, thoughtful, informative, and relevant mobile communications. It’s time to live up to their expectations and delight your mobile audience.

About the Author: Adam Marchick is the CEO and co-founder of Kahuna, a mobile marketing automation company based in Palo Alto, CA. Before Kahuna, Adam was an early member of the growth team at Facebook and funded mobile enterprise companies at Menlo Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures. As a 15 year mobile veteran, Adam serves as an advisor to Heads of Mobile around growth, engagement and revenue.

How to Structure a Longform Landing Page for Maximum Conversions

Longform sales pages have recently become more popular. Marketers have realized that the short-and-easy capture forms may not be enough to encourage a conversion. Lots of content is powerful and compelling. Big landing pages can mean big conversions.

But how do you organize this content? For example, the sales page for Marketing Bullets has nearly 30,000 words. It’s like the War & Peace of landing pages. (All that copy boils down to a conversion action that costs $5,000.)

It’s not just lots of content that matters. It’s how the content is organized that truly matters.

This article explains how you can organize the content — an approach to structuring a longform landing page that will deliver maximum conversions.

There are eleven basic elements of a longform landing page. I will go through each one in order of its appearance on the page.

Note: As we discuss the structure of longform landing pages, we’re going to start at top of the page, and walk you through the different sections – eventually ending at the bottom of the page.

1. Headline

This is the most obvious feature of a longform or short form landing page. You need a headline, and it needs to come first.

The size of the headline is critical. It should be larger than any other font. But don’t assume that size and position are the only factors. The copy itself is equally, if not more, important.

Unbounce explains it this way:

Now, the reason this new version has so strongly outperformed the original likely has more to do with the words in the headline than the physical positioning of it. But the takeaway here is that if people are able to find and read your most important message (i.e., your headline), they are more likely to consume it and make decisions with it. If a visitor can’t find your key message, they can’t consume it… and conversion could be negatively impacted. Hence, test physical positioning.

Their example includes two landing pages with two different designs, including a headline rework.

This landing page was converting at 3%.

simple screenshot

The redesigned landing page converted at 18.7%.

inspire pay

The headline leads the entire longform page that follows. It’s your first and only chance to engage the user enough to stay on the page and be persuaded by the rest of the content that follows.

Conversion Lab’s landing page has a headline surrounded by a lot of negative space. The headline and CTA are sufficient to convert some visitors, but other visitors may want to continue scrolling to see the entire longform page.

conversion lab

2. Subheadline

Every great headline is followed by a subheadline. The subhead serves to clarify the attention-grabbing power of the headline, and highlight its benefits.

The subheadline should always be positioned in close proximity to the main headline. They go together.

3. Image

Every longform page most likely needs images, and these images should come above the fold. However, testing is required on your part. Test the absence of images as well as the placement. Images can affect where the visitor’s eyes go.

In the example above, the image services to personalize the landing page and maintain user engagement. While most landing page advice proposes placement of the CTA on the left side of the page, this page defies the conventions, and maintains a great conversion rates.

Many landing pages use full-screen images with great success. Litmus’s longform landing page is a great example of this. In this case, image position is irrelevant, since the image covers the entire screen.

litmus screenshot

Oink does the same thing. The image dominates the screen, which effectively accomplishes its attention-grabbing intent.

oink for teens

4. Video (if applicable)

Video can be powerful. It can improve your conversion rate. But it should not be the only thing on a landing page.

Video-only landing pages are correlated with lower conversion rates. In order to improve your conversion rates, videos should supplement the copy.

The best place for videos is above the fold, where users can see the video and choose to play (unless the video is auto-play).

LinkedInfluence uses an autoplay video on their landing page. Obviously, the video should come after the headline, yet it should still be one of the first things a user sees on the page.

more business from linkedin

Make Your First Dollar does the same thing with their video.

make your first dollar

5. Brief Copy

So far, we’ve only discussed some of the short features, none of which makes a longform page actually long.

This point is where you unleash your copy. But again, it’s not going to be anything lengthy at this point. Here, you want to simply explain what the product or service is, and why it’s awesome. Four sentences, maybe five or six. That’s it.

6. Call to Action

Place your call to action as early on in the process as possible. There will be some users who will convert early. You need to accommodate those users, by giving them the opportunity to convert.

Litmus’s landing page did this effectively by giving users a chance to convert without scrolling.

litmus test and track

7. Trust Signals

So far, your longform landing page has gained the user’s attention and curiosity. We’re still only just beginning the process of advancing toward a long form page, but this buildup is important.

Now, it’s important to gain their trust. Trust signals come in a variety of ways, but one of the most compelling forms of trust is attestation from other sources.

The Renegade Diet displays a list of publications that it has been featured in:

the renegade diet

Crazy Egg takes a similar approach to trust signals with a box that displays logos of some of Crazy Egg’s customers.

astonishing power of eye tracking

LinkedInfluence displays their list of featured-in publications.

8. Explanation of the Product or Service

At this point, it’s time to start diving into the long of longform. Much of your copy will be given over to explaining what the product or service is all about.

The users who are interested in your product will be eager to read this copy. Litmus’s longform page begins with a discussion of how Litmus creates email that is optimized for any device or display.

litmus does email look beautiful

Renegade’s diet book explains some of the most important findings that the book reveals.

the diet to end all diets

This section can be as long as you want.

9. Benefits of the Product or Service

Customers aren’t just interested in what the product is. They also want to know how it’s going to help them.

It’s time to discuss the benefits and features of the product or service. Keep in mind that benefits and explanation need not be discrete sections. You can blend the two.

Notice how Litmus uses the following benefit explanation, using a negative reality: “Your emails won’t get read if they’re not in the inbox.”

litmus web page

Oink, a money management service geared toward teens, points out the following benefit in their longform landing page.

gaming with oink

Conversion Lab structures their benefits section with lots of white space, and adds in images for extra visual appeal.

conversion lab

Like the explanation section, your benefits section can be as long as necessary.

10. Testimonials

The exact position of testimonials on the landing page is up for debate. I suggest putting them closer to the end, because they are one of the most compelling persuasive features in conversion optimization.

Disruptive Advertising has a spread of customer testimonials in two sections. Written testimonials are at the top, and video testimonials are near the bottom. Here are their written testimonials.

client testimonial our clients love us

And here are the video testimonials:

more client love

And explanation of features and benefits always helps to persuade, but testimonials have the most profound impact upon a user.

It’s important to put the most compelling form of persuasion where it matters most — right at the last chance for a conversion.

11. More CTA

Always close with another call to action. Ideally, you will sprinkle call to actions throughout your page. But whatever you do, give the user a chance to convert.

12. Test and Iterate

It’s important that once you’ve launched your landing page, you start testing it. The entire point of landing page optimization is to try to beat your original landing page with an improved variant. Start by hypothesizing what would help your visitors convert more. It may be a stronger headline or maybe you have too many distracting images. Whatever your hypothesis is – create variants and test them!

If you’re a KISSmetrics customer, we’ve released a new A/B testing report that you can use in conjunction with your KISSmetrics data. That way you can see which variants are affecting your bottom line, not just the next step click-through.

Conclusion

The general structure of a longform landing page looks like this:

  1. Headline
  2. Subheadline
  3. Image
  4. Video
  5. Brief Copy
  6. Call to Action
  7. Trust Signals
  8. Explanation of the product or service
  9. Benefits of the product or service
  10. Testimonials
  11. More CTA
  12. Test and Iterate

There’s room for flexibility and creativity, of course. Be aware that a truly successful longform landing page is designed strategically. It’s powerful, not because it has lots of content, but because that lots of content serves a purpose.

What strategies do you have for structuring a longform landing page?

About the Author: is the Chief Evangelist of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

The 7 Day Startup book has launched and it’s free till Friday

7daystartup_banner_640

Hey guys just a quick post to let you know my book The 7 Day Startup is now available. We are writing on a series of posts about how we are going with the marketing but here are the main links for now:

Can you help?

If you are super keen and you want to help with the launch here are the best things to do:

  1. Download it on Kindle and leave an Amazon review. This is what drives the rankings on Amazon.
  2. Tweet about it using any of the tweets below.

If you have any questions or you just want to let me know what you think, please let me know in the comments.

I will be back in touch soon with a bunch of insights from the whole process from writing, editing, formatting and launching / marketing the book.

Tweets

Here are some quick links to share the book launch. If you want to share quotes from the actual book check out the quotes page. You can modify the tweets before you send them if you want.

My buddy @thedannorris has released his book The 7 Day Startup. It’s free this week on Amazon. Highly recommended CLICK TO TWEET THIS

The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch by @thedannorris is free on Amazon today #startups CLICK TO TWEET THIS

The 7 Day Startup book by @thedannorris is now live & free on Amazon. It’s #leanstartup for bootstrappers CLICK TO TWEET THIS

Got a business idea? The 7 Day Startup by @thedannorris will take you from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur. Free today CLICK TO TWEET THIS

The post The 7 Day Startup book has launched and it’s free till Friday appeared first on WP Curve.

Everything You Need to Know About the Psychology of the Call to Action

Every web marketer knows about the call to action. But how many web marketers really understand the call to action?

The answer, I’m afraid, is not very many.

The call to action has a fascinating psychology behind it that includes width, color, border size, copy, and cool CSS effects. Yet, at the same time, this psychology goes far beyond those elements. When we understand the psychology of the call to action, we take huge strides forward in our effectiveness as marketers.

To know the psychology of the call to action is to be a wizard of conversion optimization because psychology drives the entire science and art of conversion optimization. If you know just a little bit about the psychology that motivates our behavior, you will massively increase your power.

Here are the psychological principles that power the CTA:

1. The Human Mind Expects the Call to Action

The CTA is part of the logical progression of a landing page or website. This principle is rooted in psychology. It’s called the perceptual set theory.

Perceptual set theory basically describes how the mind perceives things. The mind considers objects, people, experiences, etc. by using a three-fold combination of perceptive processes — selecting, inferring, and interpreting. That three-fold process shapes expectations and powers motivation.

How does it shape expectations?

  1. Selecting: First, people pay attention to sensory input only selectively. We usually don’t actively cognate on the humidity in the room when we’re viewing a landing page. Even though humidity is sensorially perceived, we have other things occupying our cognitive powers. We’re focused on visual stimuli.
  2. Inferring: Second, we all have a collection of stored past experiences that are triggered when we experience something that is similar to those past experiences. So, when we look at landing pages, we’re thinking of other landing pages we’ve seen in the past and recalling the ways we acted on those landing pages.
  3. Interpreting: Third, the mind combines the selective sensory data with the memories of former experiences, and it develops an interpretation. This interpretation usually involves fitting the present experience into a previous schema or developing a way to taxonomize the present experience.

That, in a theoretical nutshell, is the way we expect things.

Let’s make this visual. Here is a simple example of perceptual set theory, developed by Bruner and Minturn in 1955:

1-a-b-c-12-14

What is that symbol in the middle? Well, it’s the number 13, right?

Yes, but… It’s the letter “B” if your expectations are slightly rearranged. Admit it. You see a “B” now, or at least you interpret it as a “B.”

2-a-b-c

Images from simplypsychology.org.

Expectations vary according to the way in which we selectively interpret the data.

The perceptual set theory has created a proliferation of clever drawings that present the mind with ambiguous ways of selecting and interpreting visual stimuli.

Is this a duck or a rabbit? It’s either a rabbit in the grass or a duck somehow lying on its back in the grass.

3-duck-or-bunny

If I primed your mind by talking about quacking, waddling, or mallards, then you would have immediately spotted a duck. If, by contrast, I spoke of Easter, hopping, and ears, you would have seen the rabbit.

It’s the perceptual set theory in action.

So, let’s descend from the ether of perceptual theories and psychology and get back down to landing pages once more. When users are on your landing page, they are expecting to see a call to action. Based on their past experience with landing pages and their prior behavior, they are just waiting for you to summon them to action.

This doesn’t mean they are going to convert. It simply means their minds are prepared for the experience of being called to act. They know it’s coming. Their minds have already decided that there will be a CTA.

Expectation affects behavior. That’s why people know to act on the CTA. They aren’t staring at the CTA button thinking, “what in the world is that boxy thing with words in it?”

4-facebook-cta-red-arrow

They know. That’s a button. That’s a CTA. They know they are being asked to click it.

How to capitalize on the expectation of the CTA:

Make your CTA obvious.

You want to make sure that people’s perceptual set matches what you put in their line of vision. Make your button look like a button. Make your CTA obvious.

Design your landing page with logical flow.

If you design your landing page with an intuitive, logical flow, your call to action will be more effective. The landing page will actually prime the mind for action by intensifying the expectation and anticipation, creating a more fluid transition into the CTA.

2. The CTA Tantalizes Our Innate Sense of Curiosity

The human mind is innately curious about what’s going to happen after the CTA.

We know that curiosity is powerful. That’s why we talk about dead cats in conjunction with curiosity.

Yes, “curiosity killed the cat,” but what about this rejoinder: “satisfaction brought it back.”

Curiosity is strong because of the promise of what lies beyond — satisfaction.

Psychologists have developed several theories to explain curiosity. The drive theory of curiosity states that “curiosity, like standard drives, could be seemingly ‘satisfied’ by repeated exposure to stimulus materials.”

One of the most powerful underlying forces in curiosity, however, is not satisfaction alone, but arousal. The idea of curiosity arousal occurs when a person can almost but not quite see, hear, or interpret something. For example, a child wants to see over a fence but is not quite tall enough. What do they do? They jump, climb, or cry. Their mind’s curiosity demands that their body satisfy it.

Loewenstein in “The Psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpretation” describes the following experiment:

“Smith, Malmo, and Shagass (1954) had subjects listen to a recording of an article that was periodically made inaudible. They observed an initial increase in the tension of the arm muscles when the tape became inaudible. Walerstein (1954) obtained similar results with subjects who listened to a garbled reading of a philosophical essay: There was an initial rise in muscular tension followed by a fall after the first few minutes.”

He goes on to explain:

“Drive-based accounts of curiosity assume that unsatisfied curiosity produces aversive arousal. The desire to reduce such arousal produces the information-seeking that is curiosity’s most basic behavioral manifestation.”

This attempt to gain equilibrium in the state of arousal is what we know as “satisfying our curiosity.”

Trying to find out what happens after the CTA is the pursuit of curious activity. The fact is we know categorically that we will receive knowledge, confirmation of a product, or something. That categorical knowledge is helpful, as far as it goes. But what we don’t know is what makes us want to click through, to investigate, and to discover.

The CTA for the free ebook below capitalizes on curiosity.

5-download-ebook

The copy uses terms like “ultimate…guide,” “secrets,” and “tips & tricks.” For the marketing pro, this is appealing. Hopefully, their desire to uncover those “secrets” will drive them to click through. Hello, curiosity-drive CTA.

ConversionXL follows this pattern by offering a “guide” that is “private” and shows marketers the “top mistakes.” Curiosity drives the CTA and the conversion.

5-complete-guide-to-ab-testing

How to increase curiosity:

  • Explain some, but not all, of what a user will see or experience after the CTA. Give them an adequate categorical framework, but no specifics.
  • Use copy on your CTA that promises a discovery, an unknown, a secret, or something similar that will give the user knowledge hitherto unattained.

3. The CTA Feeds Our Psychological Tilt toward Anticipation

Psychologically, we’re wired for anticipation. We are anticipatory creatures.

7-anticipate-definition

Anticipation is a state that we experience all the time:

  • We anticipate our alarm going off in the morning.
  • We anticipate our bagel popping out of the toaster.
  • We anticipate the long line at the Starbucks drive through.
  • We anticipate getting to work late…or on time.
  • We anticipate getting too many emails when we turn on our computer.
  • We anticipate our annoyingly chatty co-worker “just stopping by!” for forty-five minutes on his way to get coffee.

We anticipate all the time. Anticipation happens deep within the brain, in the brain’s most primitive and basic area — the cerebellum.

8-cerebellum-vs-cerebrum

Here are a few facts about anticipation:

  • We expect something bigger, better, and more rewarding. Anticipation usually posits things in a grander way than they actually are.
  • Anticipating is as pleasurable as actually experiencing or receiving that which we anticipated.
  • The human mind is wired to anticipate positive experiences. Positive experiences are involuntarily retained in our mind over negative ones.

How to create anticipation:

Tell a story.

Tommy Walker, in his article on CrazyEgg, relates this anecdote:

“When I registered for Facebook…it wasn’t the ‘Sign Up’ button that made me take action. It was the story leading up to it.”

Stories. We’re suckers for stories. In a psychological sense, the CTA is the climax of the story. The landing page provides the introduction and the complication. Along the way, our minds are expecting a climax. The CTA is the climax.

Think about it in the paradigm of Freytag’s pyramid, the plot diagram that we slavishly memorized in high school lit class:

freytags pyramid

Image from yomeketa.com

(Who knew that high school literature was going to be so relevant for your marketing career?)

Your landing page starts with the headline — exposition. You build complication (rising action) through your persuasive copy. Then, finally, in an eruption of glorious climactic sizzling-hot energy, you unleash the CTA.

It’s like a story. And the best part is the CTA.

Describe the post-conversion experience as favorably as possible.

The greater the person’s sense of anticipation, the greater their emotional experience while on your landing page. Talk up the big awesome act of converting.

Invite agreement through your copy and content.

A sense of agreement will advance the feeling of anticipation. Since people prefer anticipating positive events, place them in a positive state of mind prior to your CTA. You can do this by presenting agreeable pictures or making agreeable statements.

4. The CTA Reinforces Our Psychological Sense of Reward

CTAs correspond with an individual’s reward behavior. We take action based on what we perceive the reward to be. After receiving rewards for certain actions, we develop learned conditions that predispose us to take the same action that leads to the same reward.

We do it so many times that it’s almost like a habit.

You know the expression “Pavlov’s Dogs.” You may even have a vestigial memory from Psychology 101 about Mr. Pavlov and his cherished canines. For the sake of clarity, let me briefly remind you what went down in that laboratory in Russia so many years ago.

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian scientist who lived from 1849-1936. He performed an experiment on his dogs even though he loved them. He gave them food and measured how much saliva they secreted. What he found was that when an event occurred that was related to the food presentation, the dogs would still salivate even if there was no food. A neutral stimulus, therefore, was associated with the unconditioned stimulus of the food. Pavlov went on to experiment with ringing a bell at the time of the presentation of food. After a while, when the dogs heard the bell, they started salivating. They had associated food with a ringing bell.

10-Pavlov2

Image from Simplypsychology.org.

We do the same thing. When we see a landing page, we are conditioned to respond in a certain way. We’ve learned, through classical conditioning, to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli.

The same thing holds true when we learn through a process of antecedent → consequence. Though its theoretical moorings differ from those of classical conditioning, operant conditioning still holds true in light of landing page activity. The theory states that we learn behaviors by gaining either reinforcement or punishment from the choices that we make.

11-operant-condition

Image from Creative Commons.

When it comes to the CTA, we have the same type of experience. We have an operant conditioning response to the reward that comes after we click on the CTA. Our mental history has taught us that clicking or signing up brings a feeling of reward. Our neural pathways are so worn and smooth, that we can’t help ourselves. We easily click and convert.

How to strengthen the psychological sense of reward in the CTA:

Use reward-based language in your CTA.

Promising a reward can help strengthen the desire to receive that reward, creating higher CTRs.

Conclusion

Psychology is behind everything we do, which includes CTAs. When you create a CTA on a landing page or elsewhere, you’re tapping into a person’s inner psychology. Knowing this psychology helps you more capably target it and score higher conversions.

About the Author: Jeremy Smith is a conversion consultant and trainer, helping businesses like Dow Chemical, American Express, Panera Bread, and Wendy’s improve conversions and strategically grow their testing culture and digital presence. Jeremy’s experience as the CMO and CEO of technology firms has given him a powerful understanding of human behavior and profit-boosting techniques. Follow him on or Twitter.

Nusii launches: proposal software for creative professionals

Today is a very special day for me. It’s day number 486 since I began work on what started out as a small side project. This side project launches today and is Nusii; Beautiful Proposals, Simplified. Nusii is online proposal software for creative professionals. It’s built from the ground up to help professionals like you and […]

La entrada Nusii launches: proposal software for creative professionals aparece primero en Online client proposals for design professionals..

How to Pull Off 12 (Well Executed) Startups in 12 Months

Pieter Levels, Founder of Levels.io, talks about how he’s building 12 startups in 12 months. Not only do we cover how he’s able to pull that off (and to with awesome quality), but he has really interesting reasons why he’s approaching startups this way. This chat was incredibly inspiring and motivating - a must-listen.

Show Notes:

  • Pieter Levels
  • Levels.io
  • 12 Startups in 12 Months [Wired]
  • Panda Mix Show
  • Nomad List
  • Tubelytics
  • GoFuckingDoIt
  • Play My Inbox
  • Intro Song by Alex Koch of Digital Dust Studios
  • Outro Song: Thom Yorke - "The Mother Lode"
  • Episode 70: Glimpses of Success

    They happen in between times where we see nothing but the next step in front of us. You pop your head up, maybe with the help of a an expert point of view, and you see it! There is is, where you want to go!

    But you can't just stand there lolly-gagging... So you get back to work, and try to remember the right direction to get to that place.

    In this episode Scott expresses the frustration of having learned what looks like a better way to operate the agency while having to fulfill on the business as it is today. Also, Brecht shares deep thoughts that I can't recall at the moment... :)

    3 Techniques That Will Double Your Social Media Content with Half the Effort

    Too often, doing social media can become a pain. This is especially true for startup environments, run by busy people with more “important” things to do than post on Twitter and check on Facebook engagement levels.

    But we all know, deep down inside, that social media is important. And we know that we have to do it.

    So we might as well figure out how to do more social media in less time and with less effort.

    The following tactical methods have been proven to produce twice the amount of social media with only half of the effort. The great thing about this approach is that higher output on social media generally produces a greater level of engagement.

    Here’s how to do it.

    1. Create a schedule.

    When you create a social media schedule, you immediately reduce the level of consistent effort required throughout the day.

    The inherent advantage of social media is also its disadvantage. True, you can keep your brand message and presence in front of people all the time, but this requires consistent output and daily effort.

    When you unplug from one task to “quickly” post to social media, you’re doing yourself a serious disservice.

    • You waste time on your current task by having to pause and then come back to it. Even if it takes just a couple minutes to post to social media, you’ve lost your entire train of thought on the project that you were working on. A couple of minutes interruption may require double that amount just to move your mind back to the point where you left off.
    • You waste time on social media by having to reopen your social media tools or log into the accounts again. Keep in mind that every task has a cluster of other related tasks that require time. For example, if you’re not using a social media management tool, you may have to log into the business Twitter account. But in order to do that, you have to find the password. And in order to find the password, you have to look it up in an encrypted password file. And in order to do that, you have to find the file in your company’s intranet. It goes like this for every little task we have to do. What all this amounts to is a lot of wasted effort.

    The solution I’m proposing is to deal with your social media in a single session of unbroken concentration.

    The scheduling approach has three components.

    1. In the first place, you must set aside time in your calendar to schedule your social media. The approach I advocate is to allocate an hour (or two, or three) to deal exclusively with social media. This is your social media time. It’s on your calendar like an inviolable appointment. Most people who are responsible for social media report doing this on a daily basis. Some people — usually the very-organized type — can get away with doing it once weekly.
    2. Second, during this time, you schedule out your social media posts. Using a tool like Buffer, schedule out the times and messages that you want to post to your social media accounts. Be sure to follow industry best practices for the best time of day to post. The great thing about scheduling posts is that you can produce two or three times as many posts, but take a lot less time doing it. You can sit down for fifteen minutes and hammer out six tweets to release throughout the day. But what if you had to unplug at six separate times to post to Twitter? You’d go crazy, while at the same time cannibalizing your time and productivity. Scheduling your posts is a far superior approach.
    3. Third, take some time to monitor your social media metrics. This is the practice of social media listening, and it’s an integral part of any approach to social media. Rather than dink around checking out RTs and Facebook likes throughout the day, take a single point in time each day or week to analyze your metrics and make decisions based on what you see.

    Constantly flitting in and out of social media is a huge drain on your time, effort, and mental energies. Scheduling — whether it’s scheduling your day, your posts, or your listening — dramatically reduces the level of effort that you put into social media, while dramatically increasing your output.

    2. Collect as you go.

    One of the most important features of posting to social media is also the most time-consuming — finding content to post.

    Vertical Response has found that the single-most time-consuming factor in social media management is “finding & posting content.”

    finding social media content

    The amount of time and effort that you pour into finding and posting can be reduced. I already showed you how the simple practice of scheduling will reduce that effort.

    But what about the process of collecting the content to post? You need a collection system.

    Create a collection system for content.

    The system you choose is totally up to you, but let me provide a suggestion. I use Evernote along with the Evernote Chrome extension. In my Evernote folder, I can create a specific folder for things I want to collect and share later.

    2-evernote

    Whenever I come across something interesting to post on social media, all I do is click the Evernote button in my browser.

    3-kinja

    From there, I can adjust how I want this article to be saved for future reference. I’m putting it in a sub-folder of my social media folder called “Business Ideas.” I’m saving the “Bookmark,” not the entire article, and I’m tagging it with “social media.” I’ve also added a quick note: “This would be a good one to post on Tuesday.”

    4-kinja

    When I click “save,” I now have this article saved in Evernote. When it’s time to schedule my articles for posting, I simply open up the correct Evernote folder and go to my saved bookmark.

    good post for tuesdays

    This is nothing more than a collection system. I’m simply taking the process of collecting content, and distilling it to a quick-and-easy process.

    As I move throughout my day, checking emails, visiting websites, doing research, etc., I will come across interesting articles, studies, or websites that I’d like to share. All I do is click my Evernote extension, and I’m done. It’s saved for the next day’s scheduling session.

    Create a focused time for content discovery.

    Another way to reduce your overall effort is to create a focused time for discovering great content.

    Buffer has an article on “Always Have an Amazing Link to Share,” in which they discuss some of the most effective places to find great content. This is a great starting point for discovering great links to share via social media.

    You should also do some spadework to discover your own content. I suggest a technique in my Buffer article, that requires spending just thirty minutes to come up with content to post for several days.

    This goes back to my whole thesis: With half the effort, you can produce double the content. You just have to be smart, scheduled, and intentional about it.

    3. Share it more than once.

    Here’s the ultimate hack for less-effort/more-content. Share the same stuff more than once.

    There’s logic to back up this simple technique. Different people will see your different social media posts, depending on what time you post it.

    Joe checks his Twitter feed at 8am, but Marie doesn’t check her Twitter feed until her lunch break at 12:30. Joe’s going to see your morning tweet, but maybe not your noon tweet.

    So why not share the same thing twice? Or why not three times? Or more?

    Can you get away with this? Absolutely, and there’s nothing cheap about it at all.

    Garrett Moon discussed how he recycles his posts, and even shows his schedule for doing it.

    social sharing timeline

    Moon has had zero complaints, higher interaction, more output, and even the possibility that some of the reshared content could go viral after several takes.

    If you share your content more than once, you can get three or four times as much mileage from a single post than you would if you were only to post it once. Obviously, you’d need to jigger it a few times to make it unique each time, but the overall principle is incredibly effort-saving and traffic-increasing.

    Conclusion

    Tips, tricks and hacks can make social media more effective than it is. But let’s be careful not to view social media as a waste of time. Although social media can be a black hole of time-wasting (if you do it wrong), it is actually an investment in your overall business marketing efforts.

    Increasing your output on social media while you reduce your effort is simply a matter of being smart and productive.

    What ways have you discovered to reduce your social media effort while improving your output?

    About the Author: is the Chief Evangelist of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.