This Week in Internet Marketing News
One of the things that I saw in the news this week over on MarTech, a marketing technology website magazine kind of site, Marketing Technology Today, they were talking about trends in marketing and things to watch out for. One of the things they talk about is the rise of AI and these intelligent bots that can help you in marketing.
This is a thing that I think is going to be impacting us internet marketers in the coming years. It already is starting to be something that you’re seeing in marketing. You see these intelligent bots that offer customer chat.
If you have a sales page you can install ever increasingly effective bots that can answer simple questions or that can decide when they can’t answer the question and will alert a customer service agent, or forward a question along to a customer service agent, so that they can escalate the conversation to the next level. It’s a pretty cool idea, it’s kind of a rise of the machine kind of thing.
Incidentally, a lot of academics are starting to talk about what the end state is for all of this artificial intelligence and there are all these scary Skynet sort of scenarios that people are talking about where artificial intelligence becomes sentient and takes over everything. That’s not what I want to talk to you about today, though it’s scary to contemplate.
What I wanted to talk about today was my recent use of an artificial intelligence bot with my Shopify store. I guess before I get into the details of what I actually did, a few words on AI for those of you that aren’t familiar with it. This is a super huge big trend that people are talking about, not only in marketing but just in general.
The idea is that if there are things that you do that can be determined largely programmatically, something that you can plan ahead of time, you can automate that. We’ve been doing that sort of stuff for decades now.
Where AI is different is that on top of building this framework where you sort of know what you’re going to do ahead of time, artificial intelligence gives you a way to deal with situations that you didn’t anticipate, it can figure things out. Particularly, it can learn based on what it has done in the past and what those outcomes were how to do things better in the future.
I think perhaps the best example of where artificial intelligence is starting to be applied is behind these optimizing engines that places like Facebook have. If you have an ad set that you’re running and you tell Facebook to optimize it, they’re going to try to figure out what the best targeting is for your ads to optimize the conversions so that you can get the most conversions possible out of your ads. This is an advantage to Facebook, as we’ve discussed before, because the more effective your ads are the more money you’re going to spend on advertising.
One way to do it is with straight up optimization, as we’ve done for years in engineering with things like Taguchi Analysis or other kinds of factorial analysis. You can also do some artificial intelligence learning where you do deep data mining of all the ads that are running in Facebook, you try to understand what the product really is, and you build these neural networks that try to understand what is likely to be the best most effective audience in which to advertise your particular product.
Facebook is reportedly using this kind of artificial intelligence. Likewise, Google uses artificial intelligence to try and understand what search engine results to return to you. When you type a search engine query into Google they use some artificial learning neural network type of code in order to understand what results to return to you. The idea is that as more and more data are presented to these algorithms they get smarter and smarter and do a better more effective job of whatever it is that they’re programmed to do.
It turns out that one artificial intelligence algorithm that is available to you as a Shopify person is this algorithm called Kit, which is a plugin for Shopify where it will analyze your store, analyze what’s going on in the market, and try to improve your marketing.
It puts your marketing auto pilot. It will automatically generate ads based on the products in your store and it will automatically target audiences.
Over time it will try to achieve your marketing goal by selling your products out of your Shopify store on Facebook using ads, and it’s fully automatic.
It’s kind of interesting. The way it works is it looks at your store, it finds a product, it looks at market date or things that it thinks are popular, it tries to understand what the audience is, and places a Facebook ad based on goals that it sets by talking to you through Facebook messenger.
It can also work through SMS text message, but I use it through Facebook messenger. I’ll get a message that will say something like, “This is Kit. I see that you’ve sold 75 items in your store for this month. I recommend that we set a goal for 100 by the end of the month. Do you agree?” And you say yes or no. It asks you a lot of yes or no questions.
Once it has this go then it uses its artificial intelligence algorithms to try and understand how much ad budget do we need to hit that goal, and what are our most popular products, and how can we advertise those. It will come back and say, “Based on the products in your store, I think we should make this ad and we should have an advertising budget of $50. Is that okay?”
I will say yes and typically what it does is not super crazy sophisticated. It takes five or six products and makes a carousel ad based on a look alike audience of people who bought those products and puts that on Facebook.
This is kind of marketing automation is interesting and I have absolutely sold products that way using Kit. It’s not quite clear to me that that has been profitable particularly, I just started doing that this month and I’m still in the process of analyzing the data.
It certainly works in the sense that it will identify products, place ads, and sales result from those ads. I think the question that is still outstanding for me is if the ad spend from those ads is more effective than what I can do using a tool like AdEspresso or just doing things by hand in the Facebook ad manager.
Very interesting. Artificial intelligence is really a thing. I’m told that there are 40,000 exobytes of data out there on the internet right now. That’s the number that I read when I look these things up. For those of you that aren’t in engineering land like I am, exo is the prefix for something that indicates multiplication by the sixth power of 1,000. What that means is a 1 with 18 zeros behind it. An exobyte is essentially a quintillion bytes. That’s sort of how much information is out there on the internet today.
By contrast, the human brain can only hold about a million gigabytes. So the issue is that the amount of information out there is vastly outstripping what people can deal with. That’s the big argument for these artificial intelligence bots.
If you’re a fan of The Terminator, you understand this issue of Skynet and you have to worry about that. I think that’s a real thing that real legitimate scientists are worried about, but for now I’m just going to take a risk on my Shopify store. Hopefully Skynet wont’ takeover that, but if they do hopefully they’ll make a lot of money with it.
Dealing with Entrepreneurial Depression
The main topic for today is entrepreneurial depression. We had some discussion in the Facebook group. I’m calling it depression because I needed to put a name on it, but this idea of the ups and downs of internet marketing, and particularly when you’re doing it part time and you have these successes and failures.
In my case, and I think in the case of some of the people in the Facebook group, you have these moments not only where you’re dealing with the successes and failures of your business, and the expectations that you have for crazy success, and the times that you don’t quite get to what you expected, you also have this sort of love/hate relationship with your existing job. If you’re working full in a normal day job, you have to go back to that job and it’s keeping you from dumping in those extra resources that might put you over the top.
I think it’s also very easy to resent your day job and wish that you could put more energy into this part time thing that you’re doing. If you’re following my advice, this part time internet business that you’re doing is probably something that you love. It sets up this sort of contentious situation where you can get kind of bummed out over whatever results you’ve had this week in your internet business.
In this post in the Facebook group Phil talks about how he’ll be having some success with his product. Phil has had some amazing success with a product that he has launched and it’s truly remarkable. Sometimes I think it’s easy to lose sight of your own success.
He’s in the Facebook group talking about the things that he has done in his part time internet business and the entire Facebook group is totally motivated by this discussion about the success that Phil has had that he has been very transparent inside the safety of that group. That’s one of the things that I love about the Facebook group.
At the same time, he writes about the fact that he has these days where he doesn’t have any sales at all. I can totally relate to this. With the Shopify store I’ll have these days where I am on pace to do thousands of dollars a month and then I’ll go two days without a sale at all or with one sale for $9.95. I’ll have days where my sales completely outstrip my marketing spending on Facebook ads and then I’ll have a couple of days where I’ll spend $30 or $40 on Facebook with no sales at all.
It’s just this huge roller coaster and you just get so in those moments, you get so frustrated about how is any of this stuff going to work. I’ll put out a podcast episode that I think is fantastic and it won’t be any different than the last 14 podcast episodes that I put out in terms of downloads. You have these ups and downs, and unmatched expectations. That can be kind of an emotional roller coaster for people.
This can be compounded by the world of Facebook where everybody publishes their successes – and usually they publish only their successes. From the outside looking in at all of these people on Facebook, the Pat Flynn’s of the world who are publishing these great successes, you’re just amazed by their successes and you get in this trap where you’re not only comparing yourself to your own expectations but you’re comparing yourself to these wild successes that you’re hearing about on the internet. It just can become a tricky thing.
In some cases, as my buddy Cliff has published about, this in combination with other kinds of things that are going on in your life, in combination with the isolation that entrepreneurship can bring, this can result in something that feels like depression. I’m not a clinical psychologist and I hate to put a label on something, but you kind of feel that way. You have these kind of glum moments and sometimes those glum moments can go on for days or weeks. That’s a problem that entrepreneurs face.
The question is what can you do about it? One of the approaches that I hear about all the time, that I think is worth doing but is not the total answer, is this sort of Jack Handy approach. If you don’t know who Jack Handy is, Jack Handy is the guy from Saturday Night Live who does this affirmations, “I am strong enough. I am good enough. And darn it, people like me,” and this kind of thing.
You hear about people talking about making sure that the stuff that goes into their head is the good stuff. While I don’t think this is a solution for this, I do think that does form a nice basis for whatever it is you’re going to use to fight to stay positive in your business. You need to be putting the good stuff in.
Zig Ziglar talks about this as ‘avoiding stinking thinking.’ You want to keep the stuff that you’re putting in your brain positive. A lot of times that can mean avoiding people who are telling you that you’re crazy for working on whatever it is that you’re working on. Sometimes that can be your spouse, which can be kind of tricky.
People who are bringing you down and asking you, “You’ve been working on this for two years, how come you’re not an internet millionaire yet?” and those kind of questions. You have to stay away from that kind of input. Instead, you have to make sure that you’re putting the good stuff in your head. The podcasts that are encouraging you and uplifting you and making you feel good about the direction that you’re moving in. You have to be reading those kind of books and setting the foundation.
I think that’s enough, but I think that’s a place to start. One thing you’re going to want to do is put those good inputs in there all the time. Set that as a habit, as a daily expectation. Even if maybe you only have one kind of book like that you’re reading all the time and you only read a page a day or a couple of pages a day. You keep those good inputs going into your brain.
For awhile I was listening to the Motivation to Move Podcast, which has been a very longstanding podcast, on a daily basis just to get that mindset right. Some people have a list of ideas about who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish, some positive statements that they review each and every day to set and reset their mind to get them moving in the right direction. I think that’s something that you can do.
I think the second thing that you can do is air this stuff out, you find a safe space for it. That’s what Phil has done here in this conversation, he’s aired this out in the Facebook group. That all by itself can help you in two ways. One, it helps you to get it off your chest. Maybe there are three ways.
Two, it helps you to understand that you’re not alone in this, that this is a common thing for entrepreneurs. People can chime in and say, “I know what you’re feeling. I understand what you’re talking about.” That can be really helpful when you’re in this space.
I think the third thing is if you’re in a group like a mastermind group or in some ways something like this Facebook fan group, people can offer you advice on how to get out of this sort of thing.
Fundamentally, you want to find a place where you can talk about these things. One of the challenges of being an online entrepreneur or a solo entrepreneur is the solo part. Oftentimes you’re doing this by yourself and this is complicating the situation because you just don’t have anybody to pick you up, someone you can talk to that can say, “Actually, you’ve accomplished a lot. You should be proud of that,” or, “You might want to try this technique,” and so forth.
I encourage you, as always, to have either something like a Facebook group or maybe even something more intimate like a mastermind group where you can bring these things up. I will tell you, while the mastermind group that I participate in (The Green Room Mastermind) is a highly confidential group of people, we bring these topics. You’d be surprised at the kinds of discussions that are had by these incredibly successful people. When something is bothering them they have this place to come talk about it. And that’s okay.
I share that with you just to say that even these people that are crazy wildly successful are human people too. They put their pants on one leg at a time just like you do.
They fight through the same struggles that you do. A lot of times the difference is just that they’ve had more experience fighting through those struggles and they’re more efficient at getting through them. It’s not that they don’t have them, it’s that they’ve employed some of these techniques that I’m talking about and they know how to get through them.
I think another thing that you can do that will really help you in these kind of situations is try to understand the root cause of this problem.
Sometimes the root cause is that you’ve set unrealistic expectations for yourself. You’ve expected a $500,000 launch when really a $50,000 launch is a more reasonable thing. You’ve expected to have 10,000 people on your email when really 1,000 people is more realistic for your situation and where you are in business.
I think you need to check in with your expectations and make sure that they are truly reasonable. Then at the same time take the time to celebrate the stuff that you really have accomplished.
If you had in your mind that you want 10,000 subscribers, but you have 1,000 and you’re beating yourself up because it’s “only 1,000,” I believe that’s a huge mistake. One thousand subscribers is amazing. Many articles and books have been written about how you can build a successful business with 1,000 raving fans.
I think you need to really evaluate the measurement stick that you’re using for yourself and make sure that it’s fair. I don’t think it’s fair for you to start your business yesterday and compare yourself to Pat Flynn next week. Or to start the very first conference that you ever have run tomorrow and then next week be comparing yourself to Social Media Marketing World. Or start a podcast next week and then in a month be comparing yourself to Cliff Ravenscraft.
That’s just not going to work. That makes no sense. Those people have, in the case of Cliff, a decade of work invested. Until you’ve put the same number of BTUs and time into your business, I think it’s not sensible for you to compare yourself.
Even when you have been doing it for a long time, your talents, approach, and the thing that you’re trying to accomplish are going to be different and unique compared to anybody else and what anyone else is doing. That’s one of the things that makes this so amazing. Because of the fact that you’re unique, I think comparing yourself to other people can be really dangerous.
That gets me to the last thing. I think stop soaking up all of this information that is causing you to do some of these comparisons. Stay off of Facebook for awhile. Stop taking in this information that may be causing this kind of problem. An article in Entrepreneur Magazine on this topic talks about going on an information fast, stop taking in all of this information that results in the comparison.
I think if you do those four things, that will really help you get through some of these issues. Most of all, I think what you should recognize is that this is kind of normal. The ups and downs of internet business are a normal thing. It’s okay. There is nothing wrong with it. You will get through it, particularly if you apply some of the techniques that I’ve listed here.
That wraps it up for this week. I am going to go pack my stuff. I hope that you have an absolutely fantastic week.
I’ll be back with an episode next week. It will be prerecorded, but released at this time on Thursday next week. I’ll be floating around out in the ocean somewhere. Until that time, I hope you have an absolutely fantastic week and that you get amazing things done in your internet business. Talk to you then.