Entrepreneurs: The Importance of Monthly Recurring Revenue

[NOTE: This post continues a series exploring the topic of entrepreneurship. While my focus has and will continue to be on Facebook ads, I have plenty to share about what I’ve learned while building my business.]

I’ve learned countless lessons since my entrepreneurial journey began in 2011, but one of the most important is this: Monthly recurring revenue is the key to efficiency, stability and sanity.

Let’s take a closer look at what monthly recurring revenue is and how it’s impacted my business…

Monthly Recurring Revenue

The term may be self-explanatory, but I feel I should add some clarity…

The typical product is sold as a one-off transaction. You give a business $100, and they give you the product. The transaction is complete.

If your business utilizes monthly recurring revenue (MRR), the customer enjoys your product or services for as long as they continue to pay. The transaction continues into perpetuity — or until they decide they no longer want to pay.

Your utilities would be an example of this. You’re going to keep paying that fee every month so that you continue to get water and electricity in your home.

This also includes some software and applications. You can use that software for as long as you make monthly payments. The customer will need to cancel in order to stop the transaction.

My Business and Monthly Recurring Revenue

As has been documented many times over on these pages, I had no clue what I was doing when my business (loosely defined as such) began in 2011.

I didn’t collect a penny of revenue from August through October of that first year. I collected pennies, but not much more, for the next five months. I then launched my first product, and my business finally became something that would keep a roof over my family’s head.

Revenue can be broken down into phases for my business:

Phase 1: Consultation fees only (Aug 2011 – Mar 2012)
Phase 2: Consultation fees, static virtual products and affiliate sales (Apr 2012 – Dec 2013)
Phase 3: Static virtual products and affiliate sales (Jan 2014 – Jun 2014)
Phase 4: Static virtual products and memberships (Jul 2014 – Dec 2015)
Phase 5: Real-time virtual products and memberships (Jan 2016 – Present)

During the first two phases, I was focused on finding clients. I also kept my business afloat with affiliate revenue.

Once the third phase began, I decided to begin focusing entirely on my own business — choosing to no longer take on clients.

In the fourth phase, I cut out affiliate sales and started the Power Hitters Club, my first membership.

Now, in my current phase, I’ve become even more efficient. Instead of creating static training courses that become outdated and obsolete, I create real-time training programs that are conducted via webinar. And I can conduct them on nearly a monthly basis, making only minor changes to the content as necessary.

This was a natural progression for me. I’ve always felt that the amount of effort necessary to manage clients was too great, while it took me away from building my own brand. It was inefficient.

But selling virtual products also involved inefficiencies. It wasn’t until I started offering memberships that my business found true stability.

MRR and Memberships

My memberships have evolved since launching in 2014, but I offer two options today…

Power Hitters Club – Elite ($97/month or $873 annually)

  • Private Facebook group community for PHC – Elite members only
  • Weekly, live, 30-minute webinars for PHC – Elite members only
  • Access to all weekly webinar replays with links, video and audio
  • Access to all recorded workshops and 4-week training program replays ($297+ value each)
  • Exclusive access to me

Power Hitters Club – Basic ($29/month)

  • Private Facebook group community for PHC – Basic members only
  • Video recordings of weekly webinars given to PHC – Elite members

I started with PHC – Elite for the first two years, and then I launched PHC – Basic to satisfy those looking for a lower-priced alternative.

Today, I have about 1,000 total members.

MRR and Impact on Revenue

Here’s a chart showing average monthly revenue growth over six-month periods since my business began (the first and final periods being incomplete).

Average Monthly Revenue

My business was profitable by the end of 2012. In this case, I define profitable as bringing in about the same income I did while working for the man.

Monthly revenue continued to grow for the next couple of years. I launched the Power Hitters Club (my monthly membership) near the end of June in 2014. Average monthly revenue has never dropped below that point since, and I’ve been having a record breaking 2017.

Thanks to my membership, I had a foundation of predictable revenue every month. I would bring in new members and some members would cancel. But from that point forward, I could assign reasonable expectations for monthly revenue, regardless of effort.

MRR and Impact on Effort

And effort was the key change here.

Looking at my chart, you could argue that MRR didn’t necessarily improve my revenue. It was already trending upward when I made the change. And in fact, revenue growth slowed through the first half of 2016.

But if you look only at revenue, you are neglecting primary goals of this business: I want to spend more time with my family.

That is precisely what happened. The first half of 2016 was a drop from the second half of 2015. It was about even with the first half of 2014. But the difference was huge: baseball.

I started a travel baseball team for my middle son. It was like starting a new business. I spent an insane amount of time — and still do — as a baseball coach.

Prior to the launch of my membership product, I needed to churn out a new product every three to six months. It’s the only way I could keep revenue coming in.

The reason is simple: Previously, my products were static. A training course consisted of modules of recorded videos and articles. These training courses would quickly become outdated and obsolete as Facebook made changes to their own product. So I’d need to either make updates to the current product or churn out a new one.

I churned out new products because that was the better revenue model. I wasn’t going to sell a $150 product that I’d update forever. You’d buy it as is, and eventually I’d need to create a new product.

So that meant lots of effort. Late nights. Weekends. All of the stuff that I hate. All of the stuff that kept me locked away and off of the baseball field with my kids.

So beginning in 2016, everything I sell is either a membership (monthly recurring revenue) or a real-time training. No more polishing videos and articles. No more outdated and obsolete products.

As a result, revenue may have been flat to start 2016, but I was infinitely more productive than the previous year.

MRR and Impact on Promotion

There was another problem with my prior model of having to regularly churn out a new product: I had to regularly run promotions for the latest product.

Fatigue…

The static training course product would get a high volume of sales at launch. But after that, the only way to maintain revenue levels from month-to-month was to offer discounts or create a new product.

Under my current model, there’s far less push. I come out with a new product on occasion, but I no longer offer discounts. I don’t need to offer discounts. I know that I have monthly recurring revenue to rely on.

Today, membership and MRR make the foundation of my income. Any real-time training sold is a cherry on top. So there’s no longer the internal pressure to find a way to sell more this month.

There’s less promotional fatigue for me, but there’s also less promotional fatigue for my audience. I can start to sell the way that makes me most comfortable again — soft sell. I’ll tell you about my 4-week training program. If you click the link, you fall into the funnel where I send you reminders. If you don’t click, no fatigue.

MRR and Impact on Lifestyle

It’s huge. MRR has changed my life.

We all dream of being more efficient. We yearn to do only the things we really want to do. We cherish our evenings, weekends and holidays. I still work hard, but not absurdly so. I don’t regret what I do while neglecting my family and personal priorities.

Ultimately, MRR isn’t about how much money it’s made me. There are plenty of ways I could have made a bunch of money — even much more. But that’s never been my goal.

It’s about allowing me to enjoy the freedom that comes along with it when executed properly.

MRR and Your Business

You may be stuck in that same hamster wheel that I was in a few years ago, constantly churning out a new product to keep revenue coming in. Consider an MRR model.

What membership could you create? What is the community you could serve? Why would it be valuable? How much would members be willing to pay?

Or maybe you could apply monthly recurring revenue instead to software or a mobile application. Or maybe even a service. What would it look like?

Your Turn

I’d love to hear your experiences with monthly recurring revenue.

Let me know in the comments below!

The post Entrepreneurs: The Importance of Monthly Recurring Revenue appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Entrepreneurs: The Importance of Monthly Recurring Revenue
Source: Great Facebook Feeds From Around The Web

How to Create Call-to-Action Units for Facebook Instant Articles

Let’s be honest: Facebook makes a ton of freaking updates. Some are more exciting than others. But my excitement level is high for the launch of call-to-action units for Facebook Instant Articles.

If you aren’t familiar with Instant Articles, they provide a Facebook-hosted, instant loading option for users viewing on mobile. This is great for users, who don’t need to wait for the website to load. It’s also great for Facebook, who keeps the user within their app.

Facebook Instant Articles

The response to Instant Articles from publishers has been mixed, to put it kindly. By creating Instant Articles, the publisher is handing over control. While they can make the experience look and feel somewhat like their own website, it’s not actually their own website. Facebook is getting the traffic.

I’ve come to embrace this since it means a better experience for the user — and, ultimately, more people reading my blog posts (even if they aren’t technically on my website). It means fewer people abandoning after a slower load from mobile, so there’s more potential to hook someone.

But I do understand why the bigger publisher may not have been so excited about Instant Articles. They likely already had a fast loading and optimized mobile website. They lost the ability to add pop-ups and forms to collect email addresses.

But then Facebook created call-to-action units…

What Are Call-to-Action Units?

If you’ve been clicking Instant Articles from the bigger publishers lately, you likely already saw this in a test. Call-to-action units allow publishers to inject forms into their Instant Articles. There are currently two different call-to-action units available…

Email Sign-up: Collect an email address from readers. Use this to register for a newsletter or ebook, for example.

Email Signup Call-to-Action Unit Instant Articles

Page Like: Get more likes to your Facebook page.

Page Like Call-to-Action Unit for Instant Articles

How to Create Call-to-Action Units

The menu for Instant Articles is within your page Publishing Tools. Call-to-Action Units have been added to the bottom of that menu.

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

Click either button to create your first call-to-action unit.

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

You’ll have the option (for now) of either newsletter sign-ups or page likes.

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

Here’s what the process looks like for creating a newsletter call-to-action unit…

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

You’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Unit Name: For you only (this won’t be shared with users)
  • Headline: The line in bold at the top
  • Body Text: The text appearing below the headline
  • Privacy Policy: Link to your website’s privacy policy
  • Confirmation Message: Message displayed to users after submitting
  • Background Color: Base color of the unit
  • Font Color: Self explanatory
  • Logo: Select from your logos that were previously uploaded into the Instant Articles styles tool

The logo options are actually the names of styles that you created for your Instant Articles. If you want to update or add more logo options, go to “Configuration” under Instant Articles and expand “Styles.”

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

When you add a style, you’ll have an option to upload a logo.

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

The page likes call-to-action unit is very simple. Simply name it…

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

Now you’ll see the call-to-action units you’ve created within your Instant Articles menu.

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

These units are automatically activated, but you can choose to either edit or turn them off. Note that they will only be active in all Instant Articles published in the future.

What You Need to Know

There are a few things about these call-to-action units that you need to know…

1. Only one unit per type. If you want to create two different email call-to-action units, too bad (at least for now). You’ll need to either edit or delete the one you’ve been using.

2. Users can select from multiple email addresses on their profile. I have three email addresses attached to my Facebook profile, so when I subscribe, I can choose from those three email address options.

3. Email address only. You can’t ask for first name, last name or any other information (again, at least for now). This is a little frustrating for publishers who need additional information. And it makes it mostly worthless for webinar registrations.

4. Unit only appears when it’s relevant. Once I tested this form on one of my Instant Articles, it no longer appeared again. And since I already like my own Facebook page, that unit didn’t appear either. Facebook hasn’t confirmed this behavior, but that’s how this appears to work.

5. Placement control? I didn’t see anything in Facebook’s developer documentation on call-to-action units about how to control where these units appear within your Instant Articles. It’s tough for me to tell as an admin if more than one can appear (page likes and email) since I probably shouldn’t see the page likes unit in the first place. But I can tell you that the email unit appeared at the very end of my article.

6. No native CRM integration. Yep, just like Facebook lead ad forms. Facebook generates a CSV file with all of the email addresses collected. That’s a major annoyance for publishers — and for users, who may expect to hear from you immediately.

How to Sync Leads for CTA Units

The good news is that leads generated from these call-to-action units use the same API as Facebook lead ad forms. So if you use a third party integration to sync leads from lead ad forms to your CRM, you’re in luck.

I currently use Zapier (nope, not an affiliate link) for this.

When you create a Zap, you’ll want to select Facebook Lead Ads as your trigger.

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

And after selecting your page, you should find your call-to-action unit within the list of lead ad forms.

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

To get a full tutorial on this, check out my post on syncing leads from lead ad forms to your CRM.

Of course, you don’t need to use Zapier for this. There are countless other tools that should help with this automation as well. But I use Zapier for lots of automation (not just lead syncing), so it’s a valuable tool.

View Call-to-Action Unit Insights

Want to view metrics on how these units are performing? The final column within the list of units you’ve created is for Insights.

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

Click “View” to see these stats. You can also find this info in Insights under a new menu item, “Instant Articles CTAs.”

Facebook Instant Articles Call-to-Action Units

You’ll get access to the following information for each unit type…

Email Newsletter Insights

  • Sign-ups
  • Gender and Age
  • Location

Page Like Insights

  • Page Likes
  • Gender and Age
  • Location

CTA Units Being Tested

There are only two unit types now, but Facebook is testing at least two more.

From Facebook:

  • Testing Free Trial call-to-action unit: We are currently testing a quick and easy way for people to sign up for a free trial to a publisher’s digital subscription through Instant Articles with a small group of publishers.
  • Testing Mobile App Install call-to-action unit: Many partners have asked for a way to drive adoption for their mobile apps. So, this week, we officially launched an alpha test of a new Mobile App Install call-to-action unit with a handful of partners.

Lots of good stuff coming. Stay tuned!

Your Turn

Have you started testing call-to-action units for Instant Articles yet? What do you think?

Let me know in the comments below!

The post How to Create Call-to-Action Units for Facebook Instant Articles appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

How to Create Call-to-Action Units for Facebook Instant Articles
Source: Great Facebook Feeds From Around The Web

Facebook for WooCommerce: Pixel and Dynamic Ads Integration

Advertisers can do some amazing things with Facebook ads, largely thanks to the Facebook pixel. The problem for many e-commerce brands, however, is that utilizing the “good stuff” has required some technical dirty work that often confuses and intimidates those without technical resources.

Thanks to a new integration with WooCommerce that started rolling out on Tuesday, this suddenly becomes much easier to do for many e-commerce brands.

The Pixel, Audiences, Product Feeds and Dynamic Ads

First, understand how important it is that e-commerce websites take advantage of the Facebook pixel and all it can offer. A quick refresher…

The Facebook Pixel: The pixel is a single snippet of code unique to your ad account that you would add to every page of your website.

Facebook Pixel

There are many different ways to add that pixel, depending upon how your website is set up.

Audiences: Once the pixel is added to your website, you can create many different Website Custom Audiences for Facebook ad targeting.

Facebook Time on Website Custom Audiences

Create audiences of people who visited a specific page or visited more often, for example. Then create ads that are hyper-targeted based on that behavior.

Events: In the case of an e-commerce site, you can also create events based on a user’s specific behavior. For example, custom code added with the pixel on certain pages will signify a standard event (add to cart, registration or purchase, for example) or custom event.

You can also create audiences based on those events

Website Custom Audience Advanced Mode Events

Product Feeds: E-commerce websites using the Facebook pixel can also generate product feeds that can be used in dynamic ads and collections ads.

Facebook Ads Collection Adidas

Once Facebook has a feed of products from your website, you can populate ads dynamically with product name, price, description, image and more from that feed.

The Problem

This all sounds great, but the problem has been the technical expertise needed to execute all of these things. Simply getting the pixel added in the first place can be a chore for those who aren’t technical. But customizing with events and generating a product feed add a whole new level of complexity that most aren’t willing or able to take on.

Facebook provided integrations for Magento, Shopify, BigCommerce and Segment in the past. And now that integration is also available for business websites using WooCommerce.

Facebook for WooCommerce Extension

That problem is solved, thanks to the Facebook for WooCommerce extension.

When setting up your pixel, you have the option of copy and paste or integration.

Facebook Pixel

After this roll-out, there will now be six different integration options (Shopify, WooCommerce, Google Tag Manager, Magento, BigCommerce, and Segment).

Facebook for WooCommerce Integration

If you use WooCommerce, you will need the Facebook for WooCommerce extension to implement this integration.

Once that extension is installed and activated, you’ll have access to this new dashboard…

Facebook for WooCommerce Extension

First, select the Facebook page that will be related to this website.

Facebook for WooCommerce

Then select your Facebook pixel, and Facebook will automatically add it to every page of your website. The proper events will also be added.

Facebook for WooCommerce

Facebook also auto-generates your product feed for you based on the products you created within your WooCommere set-up. Facebook will tell you how many products you have in your inventory.

Facebook for WooCommerce

Once you click “Finish,” your feed will be available for Facebook ads — notably for dynamic ads and collections.

Facebook for WooCommerce

That’s it!

Your Turn

Thanks to this update, “more than half of all e-commerce sites on the internet can use Facebook’s most advanced ad products without having to know code,” according to Andrew Biggs, direct response product marketing manager at Facebook.

Do you sell products on your website via WooCommerce? How much does this integration help you?

Let me know in the comments below!

The post Facebook for WooCommerce: Pixel and Dynamic Ads Integration appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Facebook for WooCommerce: Pixel and Dynamic Ads Integration
Source: Great Facebook Feeds From Around The Web

Entrepreneurs: Life’s Too Short

They say you should hustle. They brag about working all hours of the day and night, about slaving away on weekends and not recognizing holidays. Overworking is seen as a badge of honor, as something that should be revered.

Life’s too short for that mess…

Entrepreneurship can easily become a game, if you’ll let it. You’re always watching the Joneses, trying to keep up and do what they do. They brag of their riches, accomplishments and beachside views. Jealousy and envy bring out the worst in you.

Life’s too freaking short for that…

The minute you celebrate this month’s record-breaking results, they are no longer good enough. You’re on to do better next month. And then next month. You’re never satisfied, and feel the pressure of doing more and more.

Life’s too short not to enjoy it…

You realize that no matter how well you do, there are bills to be paid and problems to solve. Whether you’re putting in the extra hours to keep the electricity on or pay for that new car, the anxiety of providing more will overwhelm you.

Life’s too short to allow it…

You work those extra hours while your kids play outside. You seclude yourself in your entrepreneurial dungeon while your spouse watches your shows alone. You do all of this, you think, to create a better day. A day you aren’t guaranteed will come.

Life’s too damn short…

We took our youngest son out of school on Wednesday. Drove him a few towns over, dressed in our best. Taps played and guns blared. We celebrated a man’s life taken far too soon. A father and husband. A man my age.

During the service, words spoken of the impact of his life focused on the little things. His guitar and favorite songs. How he spent endless hours with his son, coaching him and watching him grow. How he cared for and shared life with his wife. About how he helped others. About how he made you feel when you were around him.

There was no mention of educational honors or personal accomplishments, though he was an accomplished man. We don’t know how much money he made or how many things he accumulated.

And that’s what struck me that day. It’s so easy for us as entrepreneurs to get wrapped up in the things that don’t matter that we neglect the things that do. We forget what we’d regret, all with an assumption of another day that may never come.

Life is short, I know it’s cliché. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before. And we’ve all had our own personal experiences that remind us of this from time to time. That is inevitable.

For me, it’s a reminder of not only what is important and the urgency of making those things a priority; but also that I live the life that I can be proud of. One that leaves a mark, even quietly, that makes a difference. A life where those I love and may leave behind will smile when thinking of the good memories we created together.

It’s a good reminder, though I know there’s danger of sounding preachy. Live a life where your core values guide your business, your relationships and all that you do. No regrets. No wasted time on low priority nonsense that won’t enhance your life or the life of others. Do not compromise what is important while milking every last minute you have, as morbid — though real — as that may seem.

It doesn’t mean that we should neglect tomorrow and fail to plan. It’s always good to have a long-term life strategy. But my new goal is to make tomorrow important but today and now the highest possible priority.

Life’s too short to do otherwise.

The post Entrepreneurs: Life’s Too Short appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

Entrepreneurs: Life’s Too Short
Source: Great Facebook Feeds From Around The Web

How to Create a Facebook Ad Collection

Facebook quietly unveiled a new ad unit that is sure to make e-commerce brands happy: Collection.

The ad unit itself looks amazing, and it’s great for engagement. Setting it up isn’t necessarily easy, however. Let’s jump into everything you need to know about the Facebook ad collection…

What is a Collection?

The post How to Create a Facebook Ad Collection appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

How to Create a Facebook Ad Collection
Source: Great Facebook Feeds From Around The Web