Example

We all know the potential benefits of offering a free ebook or the classic “7 Part Email Course” to try and encourage our website visitors to complete an action such as subscribing to our RSS feed, signing up for our mailing list or liking us on Facebook. The reason this method of “ethical bribery” is so popular is quite simply because it works. But for everyone who reads about your free report and signs up, just as many people decide *not* to take the plunge and leave your site empty handed.

Assuming your free ebook really *does* offer your visitors significant value then you *both* just lost. Your reader missed out on some high-quality information that isn’t available anywhere else and you just lost a potential new subscriber.

Not good.

What’s even worse is that the hardest part of this whole equation is getting those visitors to see the message about your free ebook in the first place. So once they’re on your site we need to do everything possible to encourage your readers to take that desired action in exchange for your free ebook.

Fortunately there are a whole raft of ways we can do this and they’re all focused around one main concept – increasing the perceived value of your ebook. In other words we want your visitors to feel like they’re getting something of real value. We want them almost feel guilty about what a great deal they’re getting from you. Like they’re getting something worth paying for – but for free. That’s the key to maximizing downloads of your free report.

So how do we go about accomplishing that task?

1. Design An Ebook Image

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and when it comes to free ebooks this may not be far off the mark. Over the years dozens of marketers have tested their signup rates for free ebooks both with and without an image. Almost without exception more people sign up when an ebook image is present.

Getting an ebook cover – a graphical representation of your ebook – is easier and cheaper than ever before so there really is no excuse whatsoever. I’ve recently been experimenting with Fiverr and have had a number of high quality ebook images for just $5 each. If that increases my signup rate by just a few percent I think that’s the bargain of the century.

2. Use Different Media

So many people offer a free ebook or free report that there is a risk that this method is starting to lose it’s effectiveness. Like banner advert blindness the more there is of something around the less attention we pay to it.

So another technique worth considering is offering the same information as your free ebook but in another format. The best examples are either audio formats (“download our free podcast”) or in video format.

Sure, it’ll take you a day or two to change your current ebook into a new format but if that boosts your results it may be a worthy investment – particularly when you can make video or audio for free these days and easily upload it to your website.

3. Use Social Proof

By nature humans are social creatures and we listen to and trust the opinions of others. Most of us want to be part of the gang rather than lonely outsiders. That’s why peer pressure works so well.

Social proof takes this concept into the 21st century and onto the internet. If you can enlist the help of other people in your niche to spread the word then this will often increase interest in your free ebook and also increase it’s perceived value.

A few ways to use social proof to boost your signups are to show testimonials on your website from people who have already read your ebook. Send copies to prominent bloggers and Twitterers in your niche, asking them to mention it to their tribe if they like it. And make it easy to “Like” your signup page on Facebook.

4. “Sell” Your Ebook

You need to help your readers to understand *why* your free ebook is valuable and what benefits they will receive from downloading it and this is where a degree of ethical salesmanship comes in.

Don’t just tell your visitors they *can* download your free report but explain why they *should* in exciting, attention-grabbing language.

5. Really Sell Your Ebook

Have you ever considered actually trying to sell your free ebook as a paid ebook? Assuming your free ebook really *does* offer significant value to readers then there’s no reason why someone shouldn’t be willing to pay to gain access to it.

Not only can this become an additional revenue stream for you but how much more valuable will your offer be on your website when you can explain to your readers that you’re currently selling copies of your ebook for x amount of dollars but if they subscribe to your RSS feed they can get it for free and save their money?

6. Publish It As A Hard-Copy Book

This is the idea I am personally most excited about at present and that I am putting into practice on a number of my sites. Image the power of actually having your ebook published as a paid-for print book. You know; the kind you’d buy off the shelf from Barnes And Noble.

Just imagine how much it could increase the perceived value of your free ebook if the paper version was actually for sale on Amazon and other people were actually payng money for it and leaving positive reviews.

I visited a website the other day that was doing just this. The owner of the website wrote a book on property investment which has sold incredibly well on Amazon and has numerous glowing reviews and five-star ratings. As soon as you see the book on Amazon it makes you want to buy a copy.

And yet there on the authors site he’ll give you a free PDF version of the book just for joining his mailing list. Did I sign up? You betcha – in an instant.

So how do you publish your free ebook as a proper paper book with as little expense and hassle as possible? Simple. Just sign up for a free account at CreateSpace.com and follow their simple instructions.

Now it’s your turn. What helps to increase the perceived value of a free ebook for you and what would increase the chances of you taking an action in order to receive an ebook as thanks? Please leave us a comment below with your thoughts…

This is a guest post by Richard Adams of Lifestyle Design Unleashed where he writes about building online businesses, quitting your job and living the internet lifestyle. Visit Richard today to download your free copy of his highly regarded traffic-generation ebook “WordPress Traffic Explosion”.

Example

Blogging and WordPress do a lot of great things together. Search engines love the code and regularly updated content, writters find it easy to publish their content and sites are relatively easy to navigate and find what you want. In the web world, that is a pretty strong formula for success.

However, there is one plaguing problem in blogging platforms and structure that frustrates the hell out of bloggers over time.

We spend all of this time putting together articles that are meant to inform, entertain and help people only to find that a year later they are buried in the archives for no one to find. With regularly updated content, our timeless content continues to be pushed down the line making it harder to find by new readers and search engines alike. The easy fix is to remember these articles and link to them within new relevant articles, but how can we start to easily leverage social media to get those same articles in front of the eyes of our followers?

I started searching around to find a tool to do this for me as I do not want to be spending hours of my day scheduling these posts (I have better things to do that generate more income). After looking at the features of several different options, I landed on one that had what I needed and started the testing process.

WordPress Plugin: Tweet Old Post

First, let me start by saying I typically do not like automated systems. They tend to be very impersonal and everyone knows when you are using one even if you think they do not. If something is going to be automated, it needs to be highly configurable and able to integrate into more personal atmospheres easily by providing value.

I uploaded Tweet Old Post to my WordPress install of Blogging Labs and started the configuration process. Luckily, this free plugin allows you to do several essential tasks that make it usable for me in this application.

Timing of Old Post Tweets

You can set the random times that tweets go out to your followers. Part of the reason that Twitter is the perfect testing ground for a system like this is because the timeline moves quick enough that you will not be annoying people and it has a viral aspect to it that you hope your articles start to get retweeted. If you do it too often, people will ignore your links and unfollow you, so setting a random time for these tweets to hit your timeline hours apart does wonders for not looking like spam.

Excluding Categories

One of the biggest things I needed in a plugin such as this one was the ability to exclude entire categories from being tweeted out. Information that was tweeted from my archives needed to be timeless to still be relevant. I did not want old articles that are no longer applicable to today’s environment to get tweeted out because that would look terrible as it has zero value to my followers.

Omit WordPress Categories

By being able to exclude categories, I can remove blocks of archives that should not be tweeted, or I do not feel provide enough value to my timeline. As you can see from my excluded lists, I tried to keep any articles from my archives to blogging tips, tutorials and advice.

Exclude Specific Posts

To fine tune the process even further, there were posts that I didn’t necessarily want retweeted within those categories as well for one reason or another.

Omit Specific WordPress Posts

Tweet Old Post allows you to also omit specific articles from being sent out to your followers automatically. Another great feature that I needed to insure the quality of the tweets would be at their highest.

After you have everything setup, an automated tweet ends up looking like this on your timeline.

Tweet from Tweet Old Post

A Couple Of Things To Keep In Mind…

Before you jump in headfirst and never look back, keep these couple of things in mind.

  • If you are going to set something like this up, you need to have some archives to pull from. As you can see, I really fine tuned my process, but if that came down to a dozen or so post by the time I was done, I would be sending out a very small number of articles over and over again. Talk about annoying for anyone that is following you.
  • You also need to gauge reactions within your Twitter following to see how people are taking the automation. In my @robbsutton account, the change was actually taken in very well and I am now getting traffic and RT’s into my older content…which was the goal. I even started asking around to followers to see what they thought and the overall reaction was positive.
  • I do not think this kind of automation would work with Facebook. The timeline does not move fast enough to keep you from clogging the system and in the end you would end up annoying friends and family at the same time. Saying that…if you have your Facebook account linked to your Twitter account so when you send out a tweet it updates your Facebook page, I would break that link before you start testing this out.

Overall, I have been happy with the result as I am always looking for ways to bring people to content that has been buried down over time. There are not very many efficient ways to get this accomplished, but Tweet Old Post seems to do a really good job by leveraging the fast moving timeline of Twitter. It’s highly configurable backend is the only reason I believe you can really make an automated system like this work.

But…just remember…you need to actually converse with your Twitter followers as well and RT other content. Your entire timeline can not be just automated tweets of your own content if you want to be successful with that online medium.

Download Tweet Old Post for free here.

Example

In the world of websites, speed is essential. Not only does your page load speed directly affect how your readers interact with your site, but now it also directly affects your search engine performance as Google as integrated it into their algorithm.

The problem…

WordPress site are generally slow. However, it’s not their fault as the stock install performs incredibly well. Even if you do everything you can within your admin and on page content (tips for that here), you are going to end up with a slow loading site. With all of the designs, images and code we add to our installs via uploads and plugins, we end up clogging the system and slowing down the train. Even if you are running an extremely fast host (which most are not), you still run into the same problem…just on a lesser scale than those that are on slow, shared hosting.

The good news…

There is a solution for sites on inexpensive or expensive hosting that will drastically increase your blog’s page load speed that will ultimately help you on the SEO end as well.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDN is a Content Delivery Network of highly-optimized servers all around the world working together to distribute your content (CSS and Javascript files, downloadable objects, applications, real-time media streams, and much more) through hundreds of servers instead of a single host. This “smart route” technology makes sure each visitor to your site gets their data from the city closest to them.

Long story short, a CDN service caches your files remotely on multiple servers around the world to makes sure your readers get the most efficient path insuring fast load times. The result is drastic and instant.

What have I been doing lately on my sites?

To test out the theory, I went live with a CDN service on my highest traffic site, Mountain.Bike198.com. Within two hours of taking the system live, we cut my page load speeds down to a 1/3 of what they were before. It was incredible.

To make sure I wasn’t just going insane, I sent out a quick Facebook update to some friends to see if they could tell a difference and all of them were amazed. The site did not load slowly before, but new, faster load speeds made for a better experience as you click around articles. I also used several tools around the web that test your page load speed to get a better metric, and it averaged out to a 1/3 to 1/2 the speed it was originally. That is a big change.

Based off of these results, I am now in the process of integrating my CDN service into all of my sites (only really takes about 10 minutes to setup…I just haven’t gotten around to it) to keep things as efficient as possible.

What’s the downside?

Nothing is without a downside…and in this case…it is cost.

Luckily, using a CDN service used to be extremely expensive and that was the main reason I have not used this solution up until this point. Now, you can find a CDN service that gives you 1 TB of usage for around 39 bucks like I did with MaxCDN. That 1 TB should last me almost a year given today’s traffic levels which really isn’t bad for under 40 dollars. In the past, it would have been a lot more than that, but thanks to companies like Amazon providing inexpensive, fast storage options…the playing field has been leveled for online storage.

Should you use a CDN service?

As with any paid service, there is always the question on whether it is a right fit for you. When I looked at what my sites needed…I looked at several key factors.

  • My sites are image heavy…both in the design and in the articles. My cycling sites have a lot of multiple image reviews and numerous plugin integrations, so the benefit of taking on a system like this has a huge impact.
  • SEO competition in my markets is really high. I need to efficiently run every aspect of my blogs to be competitive, so page load speed is just as important as any other factor.
  • Readers in my niche have complained about other sites loading slowly in the past, so they are sensitive to page load speed in site preferences.

If you are in the same boat I am, then a CDN service is worth the investment and will show a return. If you are just blogging for fun or to share information with family, simple changes like hosting and image optimization will probably be fine and there is no need to speed extra money on a service like this one.

As I mentioned before, the best pricing for a quality service I could find was MaxCDN and I have been incredibly happy with the results so far. There were easy step by step instructions to get you up and running in WordPress with W3 Total Cache (which you should be running anyway) and other blogging platforms. You can check them out by clicking here.

 

Example

Do you wish you could tap into the minds of your readers and figure out exactly what they want to read on your blog? You can…let’s run through how.

Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools as a blogger. Not only do you watch your traffic metrics and how you are performing, but you can get extreme insight into your visitors. Information about where they are from, what browser they are using and how they click through your site has a profound affect on how you tailor your content and lay out your design.

Today, I want to take a second to show you one of the coolest features of Google Analytics that most bloggers never even bother to setup…and it is information that will make you money over time…

How People Land On Your Pages Is Important

When a new reader searches for some string of terms in Google and lands on your pages, that is important information to have. You can find those keyword strings in Google Analytics to see how you are performing on a keyword basis.

But what happens after that?

If the reader likes your content, they are going to look for more quality content that fits their needs. While they might look at your most recent posts, click on a link in your related articles widget or start browsing through your categories…they are most likely going to do exactly what brought them to your site to begin with…SEARCH.

Within WordPress, there is a pretty robust search feature that every blogger puts on their site. Typically, it is a set and forget feature as you throw the search widget in your sidebar or header and forget about it. It is there and readers will use it…your job is done right? Wrong.

Just like the information you use to see how readers find your site is important, what they are searching for on your site is equally important.

If only there was a way to track this information to improve our blogs…oh wait…there is! And Google makes it incredibly easy to track this information for you within Analytics.

Using Site Search Metrics In Google Analytics

When you search for something on a website, the url of the results are different than any other structure on your site. Google uses this information to track those keyword strings and outputs them for you within your admin…you just have to set it up.

In the left sidebar of Analytics under the “Content” link, there is a link for “Site Search”.  When you first click on it, you will get a screen that looks like this.

Setting Up Site Search In Google Analytics

Since you do not have it setup (it isn’t by default), you have to go tweak some settings within your account profile. Click back to your account list by clicking on the Google Analytics logo and then click on the account you want to setup search tracking on. On this second screen that now shows only that domain, click “edit” to start setting this up.

That should bring you to a screen that looks like this.

Setting Up Site Search In Google Analytics

When you click “edit” in the upper right corner below “Receiving Data”, you come to a new screen to setup your search analytics. When you get to the next screen, put an “s” in the “query parameter” field like you see below. This is how WordPress handles search, so if you are using another blogging platform, you will need to see what character they use for search in the url.

Setting Up Site Search In Google AnalyticsGreat! You are all setup! Now what?

You wait for Analytics to do it its job and for readers to search on your site. As they do, you will start to see a screen that looks like this in your Analytics account.

Site Search Results

Obviously, this is just the top half of the screenshot. There is some basic keyword information when you scroll down, but there is also a ton of in-depth information on how your users interacted with your search feature and what they searched for.

What Do I Do With This Site Search Info?

For my blogging, this site search information is liquid gold. Here is how I use this information to grow my blogs and connect with my audience.

1. Self Generating Article Topic Bank

You have just created a self generating article idea bank. If you are ever stumped on what to write during a given week, this information is automatically spitting out article ideas…and more importantly…it is generating article ideas that your readers want to read. This is not a list that some other blogger told you to write…or a “hit list” of topics on the web…this is what your readers are searching for on your site, and if they are not finding it…you need to write it.

2. Reader Feedback For Product Reviews

If you know me at all, you already know I am a huge fan of product reviews as a way to generate income through blogs. This information has a lot of leverage when you are trying to get in product to review on your site. Think of it this way…

How much more powerful is this than just asking for free stuff. “We are currently tracking search trends on our website and noticed that your brand name is being searched for almost 30 times a month. Our readers want to see your product reviewed on our website. We also have over 13,000 regular subscribers and over 10,000 newsletter subscribers that have come to expect high quality product reviews that help them make purchasing decisions.”

Can you see how much weight site metrics and reader trends can give you when you are trying to line up products to review on your site? That is real-time information and feedback that companies love to see.

3. Expansion Ideas

What are your readers searching for that complements your content? If you started off blogging the right way, you chose a narrower niche that had expansion capabilities over time. By starting off with less competition, you are able to grow a following that can then compete on a larger level. By watching these search metrics, you can find the ares you need to expand into quickly.

Time To Get To Work

As you can see, what your readers are searching for on your blog is extremely useful information as you start to tailor your content and grow your business. This is also one of the most overlooked parts of blogging that most bloggers ignore or never bother to even setup. Get this setup on your blog today and start getting into the mind of your reader.

Have you setup Site Search yet?