Tag Archive | "Making"

Are You Making These 7 Mistakes with Your About Page?

Good old Google. They do like to keep life interesting for web publishers. You may have heard rumblings about a recent update that wreaked havoc on a lot of “your money or your life” sites — the ones that talk about health, fitness, finances, or happiness. That update appeared to look at the credibility of
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Ask MarketingSherpa: Making a career shift (to B2B copywriting)

If you want to break into the field of copywriting, the more writing experience you can get under your belt, the better. Here are 4 tips.
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Value Gulfs: Making sure there is differentiated product value when marketing upgrades and upsells

Read on for an exploration into the concept of value gulfs, and how to use the idea to get more product upgrades and upsells in your marketing.
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5 PPC mistakes you’re probably making in your campaigns

What’s one thing that all PPC marketers have in common? They’re human. And like all humans, they make mistakes.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

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The Bot Plan: Your Guide to Making Conversations Convert

Posted by purna_v

Let’s start off with a quick “True or False?” game:

“By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with their bot than with their spouse.”

True, or false? You may be surprised to learn that speaking more with bots than our spouse is precisely what Gartner is predicting.

And when Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says “messaging is one of the few things that people do more than social networking,” it requires no leap of faith to see that chatbots are an integral part of marketing’s future.

But you don’t need to stock up on canned peaches and head for the hills because “the robots are coming.” The truth is, the robots aren’t coming because they’re already here, and they love us from the bottom of their little AI-powered hearts.

Bots aren’t a new thing for many parts of the world such as China or India. As reported by Business Insider, sixty-seven percent of consumers worldwide have used a chatbot for customer support in the last year.

Within the United States, an impressive 60% of millennials have used chatbots with 70% of those reporting positive experiences, according to Forbes.

There’s no putting bots back in the box.

And it’s not just that brands have to jump on board to keep up with those pesky new generations, either. Bots are great for them, too.

Bots offer companies:

  1. A revolutionary way to reach consumers. For the first time in history, brands of any size can reach consumers on a personal level. Note my emphasis on “of any size.” You can be a company of one and your bot army can give your customers a highly personal experience. Bots are democratizing business!
  2. Snackable data. This “one-to-one” communication gives you personal insights and specificity, plus a whole feast of snackable data that is actionable.
  3. Non-robot-like interaction. An intelligent bot can keep up with back-and-forth customer messages in a natural, contextual, human way.
  4. Savings. According to Juniper Research, the average time saving per chatbot inquiry compared to traditional call centers is over four minutes, which has the potential to make a truly extraordinary impact on a company’s bottom line (not to mention the immeasurable impact it has on customers’ feelings about the company).
  5. Always on. It doesn’t matter what time zone your customer is in. Bots don’t need to sleep, or take breaks. Your company can always be accessible via your friendly bot.

Here in the West, we are still in the equivalent of the Jurassic Period for bots. What they can be used for is truly limited only by our imagination.

One of my most recent favorites is an innovation from the BBC News Labs and Visual Journalism teams, who have launched a bot-builder app designed to, per Nieman Lab, “make it as easy as possible for reporters to build chatbots and insert them in their stories.”

So, in a story about President Trump from earlier this year, you see this:

Source: BBC.com

It’s one of my favorites not just because it’s innovative and impressive, but because it neatly illustrates how bots can add to and improve our lives… not steal our jobs.

Don’t be a dinosaur

A staggering eighty percent of brands will use chatbots for customer interactions by 2020, according to research. That means that if you don’t want to get left behind, you need to join the bot arms race right now.

“But where do I start?” you wonder.

I’m happy you asked that. Building a bot may seem like an endeavor that requires lots of tech savvy, but it’s surprisingly low-risk to get started.

Many websites allow you to build bots for free, and then there’s QNAMaker.ai (created by Microsoft, my employer), which does a lot of the work for you.

You simply input your company’s FAQ section, and it builds the foundation for an easy chatbot that can be taken live via almost any platform, using natural language processing to parse your FAQ and develop a list of questions your customers are likely to ask.

This is just the beginning — the potential for bots is wow-tastic.

That’s what I’m going to show you today — how you can harness bot-power to build strong, lasting relationships with your customers.

Your 3-step plan to make conversations convert

Step 1: Find the right place to start

The first step isn’t to build a bot straightaway. After all, you can build the world’s most elaborate bot and it is worth exactly nothing to you or your customer if it does not address their needs.

That’s why the first step is figuring out the ways bots can be most helpful to your customers. You need to find their pain points.

You can do this by pretending you’re one of your customers, and navigating through your purchase funnel. Or better again, find data within your CRM system and analytics tools that can help you answer key questions about how your audience interacts with your business.

Here’s a handy checklist of questions you should get answers to during this research phase:

  • How do customers get information or seek help from your company? ☑
  • How do they make a purchase? ☑
  • Do pain points differ across channels and devices? ☑
  • How can we reduce the number of steps in each interaction? ☑

Next, you’ll want to build your hypothesis. And here’s a template to help you do just that:

I believe [type of person] needs to solve [problem] which happens while [situation], which will allow them to [get value].

For example, you’re the manager of a small spa, whose biggest time-suck is people calling to ask simple questions, meaning other customers are on hold for a long time. If those customers can ask a bot these simple questions, you get three important results:

  1. The hold time for customers overall will diminish
  2. The customer-facing staff in your spa will be able to pay more attention to clients who are physically in front of them
  3. Customers with lengthier questions will be helped sooner

Everybody wins.

Finally, now that you’ve identified and prioritized the situations where conversation can help, you’ll be ready to build a bot as well as a skill.

Wait a minute — what’s a skill in this context, and how do they relate to bots? Here’s a great explanation from Chris Messina:

  • A bot is an autonomous program on a network
  • A chatbot is a bot that uses human language to communicate
  • An AI assistant is a chatbot that performs tasks or services for an individual
  • A skill is a capability that an AI assistant can learn

Each of them can help look things up, place orders, solve problems, and make things happen easier, better, and faster.

A few handy resources to build a bot are:

Step 2: Add conversation across the entire customer journey

There are three distinct areas of the customer decision journey where bots and skills can make a big difference.

Bot as introducer

Bots can help your company by being present at the very first event in a purchase path.

Adidas did this wonderfully when they designed a chatbot for their female-focused community Studio LDN, to help create an interactive booking process for the free fitness sessions offered. To drive engagement further, as soon as a booking was made the user would receive reminders and messages from influencer fitness instructors.

The chatbot was the only way for people to book these sessions and it worked spectacularly well.

In the first two weeks, 2,000 people signed up to participate, with repeat use at 80%. Retention after week one was 60%, which the brand claims is far better compared to an app.

Adidas did something really clever. They advertised the bot across many of their other channels to help promote the bot and help with its discoverability.

You can do the same.

There are countless examples where bots can put their best suit on and act as the first introduction to your company:

  • Email marketing: According to MailChimp research, the average email open rates are between 15% to 26% with click rates being just a fraction of that at approximately 2%–5%. That’s pretty low when you compare that to Messenger messages, which can have an open rate of well over 90%. Why not make your call-to-action within your email be an incentive for people to engage with your chatbot? For example, something like “message us for 10% off” could be a compelling reason for people to engage with your chatbot.
  • Social media: How about instead of running Facebook ads which direct people to websites, you run an ad connecting people to bots instead? For example, in the ad, advise people to “chat to see the latest styles” or “chat now to get 20% off” and then have your bot start a conversation. Instant engagement! Plus, it’s a more gentle call-to-action as opposed to a hard sell such as “buy now.”
  • Video: How about creating instructional YouTube videos on how to use your bot? Especially helpful since one of the barriers to using this new technology is a lack of awareness about how to use it. A short, quick video that demonstrates what your skill can do could be very impactful. Check out this great example from FitBit and Cortana:

  • Search: As you’ve likely seen by now, Bing has been integrating chatbots within the SERPs itself. You can do a search for bots across different platforms and you’ll be able to add relevant bots directly to your preferred platform right from the search results themselves:

Travel Bots

  • You can engage with local businesses such as restaurants via the Bing Business bot that shows up as part of the local listings:

Monsoon Seattle search with chatbot

The key lesson here is that when your bot is acting as an introducer, give your audience plenty of ways and reasons to chat. Use conversation to tell people about new stuff, and get them to kick off that conversation.

Bot as influencer

To see a bot acting as an effective influencer, let’s turn to Chinese giant Alibaba. They developed a customizable chatbot store concierge that they offer free to brands and markets.

Cutely named dian xiao mi, or “little shop bee,” the concierge is designed to be the most helpful store assistant you could wish for.

For example, if a customer interacting with a clothing brand uploads a photograph of a t-shirt, the bot buzzes in with suggestions of pants to match. Or, if a customer provides his height and weight, the bot can offer suggested sizing. Anyone who has ever shopped online for clothing knows exactly how much pain the latter offering could eliminate.

This helpful style is essentially changing the conversation from “BUY NOW!” to “What do you need right now?”

We should no longer ask: “How should we sell to customers?” The gazillion-dollar question instead is: How can we connect with them?

An interesting thing about this change is that, when you think about it for a second, it seems like common sense. How much more trust would you have for a brand that was only trying to help you? If you bought a red dress, how much more helpful would it be if the brand showed you a pic of complementary heels and asked if you want to “complete the look”?

For the chatbot to be truly helpful as an influencer, it needs to learn from each conversation. It needs to remember what you shared from the last conversation, and use it to shape future conversations.

So, say a chatbot from my favorite shoe store knew all about my shoe addiction (is there a cure? Would I event want to be cured of it?), then it could be more helpful via its remarketing efforts.

Imagine how much more effective it would be if we could have an interaction like this:

Shoestore Chatbot: Hi Purna! We’re launching a new collection of boots. Would you like a sneak peek?

Me: YES please!!!

Shoestore Chatbot: Great! I’ll email pics to you. You can also save 15% off your next order with code “MozBlog”. Hurry, code expires in 24 hours.

Me: *buys all the shoes, obvs*

This is Bot-topia. Your brand is being helpful, not pushy. Your bot is cultivating relationships with your customers, not throwing ads at them.

The key lesson here? For your bot to be a successful influencer, you must always consider how they can be helpful and how they can add value.

Bot as closer

Bot: “A, B, C. Always be closing.”

Imagine you want to buy flowers for Mother’s Day, but you have very little interest in flowers, and when you scroll through the endless options on the website, and then a long checkout form, you just feel overwhelmed.

1-800-Flowers found your pain point, and acted on it by creating a bot for Facebook Messenger.

It asks you whether you want to select a bunch from one of their curated collections, instantly eliminating the choice paralysis that could see consumers leave the website without purchasing anything.

And once you’ve chosen, you can easily complete the checkout process using your phone’s payment system (e.g. Apple Pay) to make checkout a cinch. So easy, and so friction-free.

The result? According to Digiday, within two months of launch the company saw 70% of the orders through the bot came from brand-new customers. By building a bot, 1-800 Flowers slam-dunked their way into the hearts of a whole new, young demographic.

Can you think of a better, more inexpensive way to unlock a big demographic? I can’t.

To quote Mr. Zuckerberg again: “It’s pretty ironic. To order from 1-800-Flowers, you never have to call 1-800-Flowers again.”

Think back to that handy checklist of questions from Step 1, especially this one: “How can we reduce the number of steps in each interaction?”

Your goal is to make every step easy and empathetic.

Think of what people would want/need to know to as they complete their tasks. For example, if you’re looking to transfer money from your bank account, the banking chatbot could save you from overdraft fees if it warns you that your account could be overdrawn before you make the transfer.

The key lesson here: Leverage your bots to remove any friction and make the experience super relevant and empathetic.

Step 3: Measure the conversation with the right metrics

One of my favorite quotes around how we view metrics versus how we should view metrics comes from Automat CEO Andy Mauro, who says:

“Rather than tracking users with pixels and cookies, why not actually engage them, learn about them, and provide value that actually meets their needs?”

Again, this is common sense once you’ve read it. Of course it makes sense to engage our users and provide value that meets their needs!

We can do this because the bots and skills give us information in our customers’ own words.

Here’s a short list of KPIs that you should look at (let’s call it “bot-alytics”):

  • Delivery and open rates: If the bot starts a conversation, did your customer open it?
  • Click rates: If your bot delivered a link in a chat, did your customer click on it?
  • Retention: How often do they come back and chat with you?
  • Top messages: What messages are resonating with your customers more than others?
  • Conversion rates: Do they buy?
  • Sentiment analysis: Do your customers express happiness and enthusiasm in their conversation with the bot, or frustration and anger?

Using bot-alytics, you can easily build up a clear picture of what is working for you, and more importantly, what is working for your customer.

And don’t forget to ask: What can you learn from bot-alytics that can help other channels?

The future’s bright, the future’s bots

What were once dumb machines are now smart enough that we can engage with them in a very human way. It presents the opportunity of a generation for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Our customers are beginning to trust bots and digital personal assistants for recommendations, needs, and more. They are the friendly neighborhood machines that the utopian vision of a robotic future presents. They should be available to people anywhere: from any device, in any way.

And if that hasn’t made you pencil in a “we need to talk about bots” meeting with your company, here’s a startling prediction from Accenture. They believe that in five years, more than half of your customers will select your services based on your AI instead of your traditional brand.

In three steps, you can start your journey toward bot-topia and having your conversations convert. What are you waiting for?

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MozCon 2018: Making the Case for the Conference (& All the Snacks!)

Posted by Danielle_Launders

You’ve got that conference looming on the horizon. You want to go — you’ve spent the past few years desperately following hashtags on Twitter, memorizing catchy quotes, zooming in on grainy snapshots of a deck, and furiously downloading anything and everything you can scour from Slideshare.

But there’s a problem: conferences cost money, and your boss won’t even approve a Keurig in the communal kitchen, much less a ticket to a three-day-long learning sesh complete with its own travel and lodging expenses.

What’s an education-hungry digital marketer to do?

How do you convince your boss to send you to the conference of your dreams?

First of all, you gather evidence to make your case.

There are a plethora of excellent reasons why attending conferences is good for your career (and your bottom line). In digital marketing, we exist in the ever-changing tech space, hurtling toward the future at breakneck speed and often missing the details of the scenery along the way.

A good SEO conference will keep you both on the edge of your seat and on the cutting-edge of what’s new and noteworthy in our industry, highlighting some of the most important and impactful things your work depends on.

A good SEO conference will flip a switch for you, will trigger that lightbulb moment that empowers you and levels you up as both a marketer and a critical thinker.

If that doesn’t paint a beautiful enough picture to convince the folks that hold the credit card, though, there are also some great statistics and resources available:

Specifically, we’re talking about MozCon

Yes, that MozCon!

Let’s just take a moment to address the elephant in the room here: you all know why we wrote this post. We want to see your smiling face in the audience at MozCon this July (the 9th–11th, if you were wondering). There are a few specific benefits worth mentioning:

  • Speakers and content: Our speakers bring their A-game each year. We work with them to bring the best content and latest trends to the stage to help set you up for a year of success.
  • Videos to share with your team: About a month or so after the conference, we’ll send you a link to professionally edited videos of every presentation at the conference. Your colleagues won’t get to partake in the morning Top Pot doughnuts or Starbucks coffee, but they will get a chance to learn everything you did, for free.
  • Great food onsite: We understand that conference food isn’t typically worth mentioning, but at MozCon you can expect snacks from local Seattle vendors – in the past this includes Trophy cupcakes, KuKuRuZa popcorn, Starbucks’ Seattle Reserve cold brew, and did we mention bacon at breakfast? Let’s not forget the bacon.
  • Swag: Expect to go home with a one-of-a-kind Roger Mozbot, a super-soft t-shirt from American Apparel, and swag worth keeping. We’ve given away Roger Legos, Moleskine notebooks, phone chargers, and have even had vending machines with additional swag in case you didn’t get enough.
  • Networking: You work hard taking notes, learning new insights, and digesting all of that knowledge — that’s why we think you deserve a little fun in the evenings to chat with fellow attendees. Each night after the conference, we’ll offer a different networking event that adds to the value you’ll get from your day of education.
  • A supportive network after the fact: Our MozCon Facebook group is incredibly active, and it’s grown to have a life of its own — marketers ask one another SEO questions, post jobs, look for and offer advice and empathy, and more. It’s a great place to find TAGFEE support and camaraderie long after the conference itself has ended.
  • Discounts for subscribers and groups: Moz Pro subscribers get a whopping $ 500 off their ticket cost (even if you’re on a free 30-day trial!) and there are discounts for groups as well, so make sure to take advantage of savings where you can!
  • Ticket cost: At MozCon our goal is to break even, which means we invest all of your ticket price back into you. Check out the full breakdown below:

Can you tell we’re serious about the snacks?

You can check out videos from years past to get a taste for the caliber of our speakers. We’ll also be putting out a call for community speaker pitches in April, so if you’ve been thinking about breaking into the speaking circuit, it could be an amazing opportunity — keep an eye on the blog for your chance to submit a pitch.

If you’ve ever seriously considered attending an SEO conference like MozCon, now’s the time to do it. You’ll save actual hundreds of dollars by grabbing subscriber or group pricing while you can (think of all the Keurigs you could get for that communal kitchen!), and you’ll be bound for an unforgettable experience that lives and grows with you beyond just the three days you spend in Seattle.

Grab your ticket to MozCon!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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Google making renewed effort to help news publishers drive more subscriptions

Google effort appears to be a modified version of existing tools and approaches with some new, unspecified wrinkles.

The post Google making renewed effort to help news publishers drive more subscriptions appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Making a Living Writing Ebooks: Here’s How It Works Today

"An excellent ebook can provide both revenue and a doorway to greater things." – Sonia Simone

Once upon a time, there was a straightforward solution to “monetizing” your website when you got tired of trying to make AdSense work:

Write an ebook!

Having something of your own to offer, even a simple $ 7 ebook, virtually always beats trying to monetize your traffic with advertising.

And that’s still true. (In fact, sales of ebooks hit $ 9 billion in 2015.)

But as more and more people have taken that advice, we need to get a little more strategic to build strong businesses around ebooks.

It can still be done, and I’ll be talking about folks who are doing it. But you can also let ebooks become part of a bigger game, within a larger digital business strategy.

The straight ebooks-for-sale play

We all know that some fiction authors are making a killing selling digital-only books on Amazon.

In fact, a few of those authors are dear friends of ours.

But that’s not what we’ll be talking about today. The world of fiction is a fascinating one in its own right, but the other type of ebook — the somewhat traditional “information product” designed to teach something valuable — is one we have a lot of experience with.

Two powerhouse ebook publishers

It’s getting trickier to build a business around ebooks alone, but if you look at Darren Rowse’s Digital Photography School, that site grew to an ecommerce powerhouse on the strength of ebooks.

(In recent years, DPS has expanded to offer courses as well — a natural evolution that can be remarkably profitable.)

The DPS ebooks each focus on a topic the audience wants to know more about — with titles like Life in Natural Light and Captivating Color.

There are a few keys to the success of their library:

  • The books are gorgeous. Darren’s team does an exceptional job with the design of their ebooks, creating digital equivalents of “coffee table books,” featuring, of course, lots of superb photography.
  • The books are also ultra useful, walking the customer through a specific photography technique so she can get better results in her own work.
  • And the ebooks offer impressive value at just $ 10 each. That’s a small transaction, but because there are lots of them, and because DPS enjoys a large and passionate audience, the revenue adds up.

Another person who knows a thing or two about ultra-successful ebooks is Brett Kelly, author of Evernote Essentials.

Brett wrote the definitive guide to the popular app Evernote. Despite the fact that there were dozens of $ 1 and $ 2 guides available, his (at $ 29) won the war — because it was, quite simply, massively more useful than the cheaper guides.

Brett has done lots of projects since then. He even worked for Evernote for a while — the company loved his book so much, they brought him on, while allowing him to keep his lucrative digital business.

Both Darren and Brett showcase three features that any successful ebook needs:

  1. Great design
  2. Incredible usefulness
  3. Excellent value for the investment (of time or money)

The low-cost introductory product

With the explosive rise of Amazon’s Kindle, readers have become accustomed to paying just a few dollars for ebooks.

(Note that isn’t always the case — Brett’s pricing, mentioned above, survived because of that book’s excellent reputation and quality.)

If you’re trying to make your entire living with ebooks, a low price point can be tricky. But you can also use the lower price point to your advantage by using ebooks as ultra low-risk entry points to your business.

For example, on Big Brand System, Pamela Wilson uses low-cost ebook guides as launching points to an ongoing relationship with her business.

Titles like Business Name and Tagline Guide and Quick-Start Guide to Branding your Business showcase Pamela’s expertise and give potential clients a taste of how she can help grow their businesses.

Her library of low-cost ebooks creates a list of buyers for Pamela’s pricier offerings, including private coaching slots.

Why is that cool? Because a list of buyers (even if they’ve just picked up an inexpensive item) is always much more responsive than a simple interest list.

Buyers have already made a micro-commitment with your organization, which research has shown often leads to a greater willingness to take similar actions.

For many of your lower-priced buyers, going on to a more intensive offering will be a natural next step. And if you put the work in to make your low-cost ebook exceptional, there’s no better “ad” for how you will handle a larger project or product.

A list of buyers, of course, also weeds out the “looky-loos” who subscribe to lists but don’t read them or are only on the list to get free resources.

The thought leader

For a long time now, writing a book has been a way to open many more doors beyond the revenue you get from the book itself.

Josh Kaufman, author of The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours, puts it this way:

“Writing a book still tends to have a positive effect on your reputation: if you invest the effort to write a good/useful book, you’ve spent more time thinking about the topic than other people, which makes you rare and valuable to people who are interested in the topic.”

– Josh Kaufman

Given enough time and exposure, an excellent ebook (or series of books) can provide both revenue and a doorway to greater things.

“When we launched Copy Hackers on Hacker News in 2011, we sold $ 20K worth of ebooks in a few days’ time. That money was everything to me then. It was a signal that our little ebook experiment could turn into a business, that there was a market for what we had, and that the market would pay us for what we knew. Without our ebooks, I would have had to find a job (ugh) at someone else’s business (ugh); with the ebooks, I could afford to try my hand at blogging.

“Years after our launch, our ebooks have become far less about generating revenue. Promoting them on sites like AppSumo and Freelancer has helped us grow our list. And getting them in the hands of makers and influencers has brought us consulting projects, interviews, and speaking engagements.”

– Joanna Wiebe, Copy Hackers

The relationship builder

Many have written about using an ebook as an opt-in reward. In other words, you can use an ebook as an “ethical bribe” to get people to sign up for your email list.

And it works really well for that — but it’s smart to understand the deeper business reasoning.

Offering something valuable, like an ebook, is a reward for taking action. But it also needs to become the cornerstone of an ongoing business relationship.

As any competent sales professional can tell you, before they make a purchase, buyers need to:

  • Know you,
  • like you, and
  • trust you.

An ebook that only gets the prospect to sign up for your email list isn’t living up to its potential.

Those “ethical bribes” need to entice the prospect to take action, and they also need to further the professional relationship to build the case for an eventual purchase.

For example, My Copyblogger is a completely free membership site with an extensive library of free content marketing ebooks.

When we created the free membership library, we took the traditional “trade an ebook for an email opt-in” to a completely new level (and increased our email sign-ups by about 400 percent).

Could we have offered them for sale and made a few dollars? Definitely.

But by using them as the cornerstone of a valuable free membership experience, we’re nurturing relationships for more advanced products like Digital Commerce Academy. (Digital Commerce Academy will reopen to new students on August 21, 2017, so if you’re interested in joining, add your email address to the waitlist below.)

A rose is a rose is a rose

As you’re deciding the role an ebook might play in your business strategy, remember that you don’t actually have to call it an ebook.

In fact, ebooks in other guises can be powerful business-boosters.

So, a values-based, inspirational digital entrepreneur like Chris Guillebeau might (and did) call his ebook a manifesto.

If you offer B2B products or services, at least some of your ebooks will probably be white papers.

At Rainmaker Digital, we’re fans of the special report, but we also like other downloadables like checklists, worksheets, and infographics.

And one of my favorites to play with recently has been the workbook, with the pragmatic, hands-on associations that label brings.

The more flexible you are about how you think about and package your ebooks, the more powerful a tool they can become in your digital business strategy.

Would you like some help with that?

Digital Commerce Academy (DCA) helps you build the business of your dreams by teaching you how to create and sell profitable digital services and goods (like ebooks) without squandering time and money, stumbling to find the right path, or making unnecessary mistakes.

DCA features full-length courses (including Brian Clark’s Build Your Online Training Business the Smarter Way), 20+ webinars featuring in-depth case studies and education on cutting edge tools, as well as Q&As with the Rainmaker Digital team.

The doors to DCA are currently closed, but we are reopening them on August 21, 2017. Join the waitlist below today to get an exclusive offer when DCA reopens.

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Stop Making These 12 Word Choice Errors Once and for All

"Write the correct words the first time, and you’ll spend less time editing later." – Stefanie Flaxman

Bill is at a wine bar on Saturday night, enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir.

After striking up a playful conversation with Lisa (who prefers Syrah), he asks for her telephone number. Lisa agrees to Bill’s request, and he creates a new “contact” in his cell phone.

“No,” Lisa stops Bill. “You’ll have to memorize it. I don’t want you to write it down.”

Bill accepts the challenge and confidently repeats the 10-digit number a few times aloud. Lisa proceeds to talk about her cat Nibbles for an hour and then leaves the bar after she realizes how late in the evening it has become.

By the next day, Bill has forgotten Lisa’s phone number. He remembers how much Nibbles loves playing with yarn because he used to have a cat that loved yarn … and although he wants to send Lisa a text message, her digits weren’t meaningful to him.

The same thing happens when you memorize the definitions of two similar words instead of learning how to use them.

When you memorize without any meaningful context, you may quickly forget a definition and continually select a word that doesn’t mean what you think it means.

When you learn how to use the following 12 pairs of words, it will be easier to choose the proper one for your content.

Write the correct words the first time, and you’ll spend less time editing later.

1. Compliment vs. Complement

Compliment

A “compliment (noun)” is an “expression of praise.” When you “compliment (verb)” someone, you praise something about her.

“I like your neon-rainbow, unicorn t-shirt” is a compliment.

The word “compliment,” spelled with the letter “i,” should remind you of saying “I like” — how you begin a compliment.

Complement

A “complement (noun)” is “something that completes something else.” When something “complements (verb)” something else, it “makes it whole/adds value to it/completes it.”

Complete is part of the word “complement.”

2. Premiere vs. Premier

Premiere

“Premiere (noun)” is “the first showing of an event.” “Premiere” as other parts of speech conveys a similar meaning.

Premiere could describe a movie premiere. The words “premiere” and “movie” both end with the letter “e.”

Premier

Use the adjective “premier” to describe “the best ___.”

Premier means premium. Neither word ends with the letter “e.”

“Premier (noun)” is less common. The term describes a person who is first in rank.

For example, a “premier” may be a chief executive officer or president of a company.

3. Effect vs. Affect

Effect

The noun “effect” refers to an “outcome or result.”

If you associate “special effects” in movies with “effects,” you’ll remember that “effect” should be used as the noun to describe an outcome.

Affect

The verb “affect” describes something that “manipulates or causes a change.”

An emotional piece of news may affect how you feel after you hear it.

4. Accept vs. Except

Accept

The verb “accept” means “to take in or receive.”

When using the word “accept,” associate it with the word “acceptance” — you take something in; you receive it.

Except

The word “except” is not a verb. It can be used as a preposition, a conjunction, or an idiom. In each form, the word “except” means “with the exclusion of ___.”

When you use the word “except,” you want to exclude something.

5. Ensure vs. Insure

Ensure

Use the verb “ensure” to convey “make certain or guarantee.”

To remember when to use “ensure,” note that the last two letters of the word “guarantee” are “e” and the word “ensure” begins with the letter “e.”

Insure

The verb “insure” communicates “protecting assets against loss or harm.”

If you are discussing the protection of assets, think of car insurance and then use the word “insure.”

6. Regard vs. Regards

Regard

Use “regard” when you want to express consideration or reference something specific.

Writing “in regards to” is one of my content pet peeves.

“Regard” is typically the proper word choice, unless you are sending your feelings of empathy to someone else. Which brings us to …

Regards

“Regards” are your “best wishes or warm greetings.”

7. Beside vs. Besides

Beside

If you want to convey the meaning of “next to or alongside,” use “beside.”

Associate the word “beside” with the word “alongside.” Both words end with the letters “s-i-d-e.”

Beside can also mean “not connected to.” You would write “that is beside the point.”

Besides

The word “besides” means “in addition to.”

“Besides” ends with the letter “s,” which reminds us of a plural word — two or more of something, additional items.

“Besides can also mean “other than/except.”

Associate the “s” sound in the word “except” with the word “besides,” which ends with the letter “s.”

8. Stationery vs. Stationary

Stationery

“Stationery” is always a noun. It’s typically decorative paper and ornate pens. You might use it to jot down quotes from your favorite writing books.

Associate the noun “stationery” with “paper.” The last three letters of the noun “stationery” contain the letters “er.” The word “paper” also ends with the letters “er.”

Stationary

“Stationary” means “still, grounded, or motionless.” It can be used as a noun or adjective.

Since the word “stationary” can also be used as an adjective, associate the “a” in the word “adjective” with the letter “a” in the last three letters in the adjective “stationary.”

9. Precede vs. Proceed

Precede

“Precede” means “to go before.” It is a verb.

Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace (1999) was a “prequel” to the original Star Wars film (1977).

The events that took place during the prequel came before (or preceded) Star Wars.

Proceed

“Proceed” is also a verb, but it means “carry on, continue, move forward.”

Think of “proceed” as “proactive, taking the next step in a sequence.”

“Precede” is “before” and “proceed” is “after.”

10. Who’s vs. Whose

Who’s

“Who’s” is a contraction of two words — most commonly, “who is” (present tense), “who has,” or “who was” (past tense).

If you are combining a verb with the word “who,” it’s appropriate to use “who’s” (with an apostrophe).

Whose

“Whose” is a possessive pronoun, similar to “mine,” “yours,” “his,” or “hers.”

If you don’t intend to combine two words with an apostrophe, use the possessive pronoun “whose.”

11. Sometime vs. Some time

Sometime

When “sometime” is one word, it’s an adverb that refers to “one point in time.” For example, “I’d love to have coffee with you sometime.”

Some time

When “some” and “time” are separated as two words, think of the word “some” as an “amount.”

“Some time” is “an amount of time.” For example, “I just ate so much ice cream. It will take some time before I’m hungry again.”

12. Into vs. In to

Into

“Into” is a preposition that means “entering or transforming.” For example, “The fashion designer transformed the ugly fabric into a chic dress.”

A noun typically follows the word “into.”

In to

A verb that pairs with the word “in” typically goes before “in to.”

For example, “During the baseball game, the outfielder moved in to catch the ball.”

Your turn …

Do you have any word choice pet peeves? What are your favorite tips for learning how to use certain words correctly?

How could Lisa have helped Bill learn her phone number, rather than memorize it? ”</p

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How Content Can Succeed By Making Enemies – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Getting readers on board with your ideas isn’t the only way to achieve content success. Sometimes, stirring up a little controversy and earning a few rivals can work incredibly well — but there’s certainly a right and a wrong way to do it. Rand details how to use the power of making enemies work to your advantage in today’s Whiteboard Friday.

How content can succeed by making enemies

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today, we’re going to chat about something a little interesting — how content can succeed by making enemies. I know you’re thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute, I thought my job was to make friends with my content.” Yes, and one of the best ways to make close friends is to make enemies too.

So, in my opinion, I think that companies and businesses, programs, organizations of all kinds, efforts of all kinds tend to do really well when they get people on their side. So if I’m trying to create a movement or I’m trying to get people to believe in what I’m doing, I need to have positions, data, stories, and content that can bring people to my site. One of the best ways to do that is actually to think about it in opposition to something else, basically try and figure out how you can earn some enemies.

A few examples of content that makes enemies & allies

I’ll give you a few examples, because I think that will help add some context here. I did a little bit of research. My share data is from BuzzSumo, and my link data here is from Ahrefs. But for example, this piece called “There Are Now Twice as Many Solar Jobs as Coal Jobs in the US,” this is essentially just data-driven content, but it clearly makes friends and enemies. It makes enemies with sort of this classic, old-school Americana belief set around how important coal jobs are, and it creates, through the enemy that it builds around that, simply by sharing data, it also creates allies, people who are on the side of this story, who want to share it and amplify it and have it reach its potential and reach more people.

Same is true here. So this is a story called “Yoga Is a Good Alternative to Physical Therapy.” Clearly, it did extremely well, tens of thousands of shares and thousands of links, lots of ranking keywords for it. But it creates some enemies. Physical therapists are not going to be thrilled that this is the case. Despite the research behind it, this is frustrating for many of those folks. So you’ve created friends, allies, people who are yoga practitioners and yoga instructors. You’ve also created enemies, potentially those folks who don’t believe that this might be the case despite what the research might show.

Third one, “The 50 Most Powerful Public Relations Firms in America,” I think this was actually from The Observer. So they’re writing in the UK, but they managed to rank for lots and lots of keywords around “best PR firms” and all those sorts of things. They have thousands of shares, thousands of links. I mean 11,000 links, that’s darn impressive for a story of this nature. And they’ve created enemies. They’ve created enemies of all the people who are not in the 50 most powerful, who feel that they should be, and they’ve created allies of the people who are in there. They’ve also created some allies and enemies deeper inside the story, which you can check out.

“Replace Your Lawn with These Superior Alternatives,” well, guess what? You have now created some enemies in the lawn care world and in the lawn supply world and in the passionate communities, very passionate communities, especially here in the United States, around people who sort of believe that homes should have lawns and nothing else, grass lawns in this case. This piece didn’t do that well in terms of shares, but did phenomenally well in terms of links. This was on Lifehacker, and it ranks for all sorts of things, 11,000+ links.

Before you create, ask yourself: Who will help amplify this, and why?

So you can see that these might not be things that you naturally think of as earning enemies. But when you’re creating content, if you can go through this exercise, I have this rule, that I’ve talked about many times over the years, for content success, especially content amplification success. That is before you ever create something, before you brainstorm the idea, come up with the title, come up with the content, before you do that, ask yourself: Who will help amplify this and why? Why will they help?

One of the great things about framing things in terms of who are my allies, the people on my side, and who are the enemies I’m going to create is that the “who” becomes much more clear. The people who support your ideas, your ethics, or your position, your logic, your data and want to help amplify that, those are people who are potential amplifiers. The people, the detractors, the enemies that you’re going to build help you often to identify that group.

The “why” becomes much more clear too. The existence of that common enemy, the chance to show that you have support and beliefs in people, that’s a powerful catalyst for that amplification, for the behavior you’re attempting to drive in your community and your content consumers. I’ve found that thinking about it this way often gets content creators and SEOs in the right frame of mind to build stuff that can do really well.

Some dos and don’ts

Do… backup content with data

A few dos and don’ts if you’re pursuing this path of content generation and ideation. Do back up as much as you can with facts and data, not just opinion. That should be relatively obvious, but it can be dangerous in this kind of world, as you go down this path, to not do that.

Do… convey a world view

I do suggest that you try and convey a world view, not necessarily if you’re thinking on the political spectrum of like from all the way left to all the way right or those kinds of things. I think it’s okay to convey a world view around it, but I would urge you to provide multiple angles of appeal.

So if you’re saying, “Hey, you should replace your lawn with these superior alternatives,” don’t make it purely that it’s about conservation and ecological health. You can also make it about financial responsibility. You can also make it about the ease with which you can care for these lawns versus other ones. So now it becomes something that appeals across a broader range of the spectrum.

Same thing with something like solar jobs versus coal jobs. If you can get it to be economically focused and you can give it a capitalist bent, you can potentially appeal to multiple ends of the ideological spectrum with that world view.

Do… collect input from notable parties

Third, I would urge you to get inputs from notable folks before you create and publish this content, especially if the issue that you’re talking about is going to be culturally or socially or politically charged. Some of these fit into that. Yoga probably not so much, but potentially the solar jobs/coal jobs one, that might be something to run the actual content that you’ve created by some folks who are in the energy space so that they can help you along those lines, potentially the energy and the political space if you can.

Don’t… be provocative just to be provocative

Some don’ts. I do not urge you and I’m not suggesting that you should create provocative content purely to be provocative. Instead, I’m urging you to think about the content that you create and how you angle it using this framing of mind rather than saying, “Okay, what could we say that would really piss people off?” That’s not what I’m urging you to do. I’m urging you to say, “How can we take things that we already have, beliefs and positions, data, stories, whatever content and how do we angle them in such a way that we think about who are the enemies, who are the allies, how do we get that buy-in, how do we get that amplification?”

Don’t… choose indefensible positions

Second, I would not choose enemies or positions that you can’t defend against. So, for example, if you were considering a path that you think might get you into a world of litigious danger, you should probably stay away from that. Likewise, if your positions are relatively indefensible and you’ve talked to some folks in the field and done the dues and they’re like, “I don’t know about that,” you might not want to pursue it.

Don’t… give up on the first try

Third, do not give up if your first attempts in this sort of framing don’t work. You should expect that you will have to, just like any other form of content, practice, iterate, and do this multiple times before you have success.

Don’t… be unprofessional

Don’t be unprofessional when you do this type of content. It can be a little bit tempting when you’re framing things in terms of, “How do I make enemies out of this?” to get on the attack. That is not necessary. I think that actually content that builds enemies does so even better when it does it from a non-attack vector mode.

Don’t… sweat the Haterade

Don’t forget that if you’re getting some Haterade for the content you create, a lot of people when they start drinking the Haterade online, they run. They think, “Okay, we’ve done something wrong.” That’s actually not the case. In my experience, that means you’re doing something right. You’re building something special. People don’t tend to fight against and argue against ideas and people and organizations for no reason. They do so because they’re a threat.

If you’ve created a threat to your enemies, you have also generally created something special for your allies and the people on your side. That means you’re doing something right. In Moz’s early days, I can tell you, back when we were called SEOmoz, for years and years and years we got all sorts of hate, and it was actually a pretty good sign that we were doing something right, that we were building something special.

So I look forward to your comments. I’d love to see any examples of stuff that you have as well, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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