Tag Archive | "Three"

MozCon 2019: Everything You Need to Know About Day Three

Posted by KameronJenkins

If the last day of MozCon felt like it went too fast or if you forgot everything that happened today (we wouldn’t judge — there were so many insights), don’t fret. We captured all of day three’s takeaways so you could relive the magic of day three. 

Don’t forget to check out all the photos with Roger from the photobooth! They’re available here in the MozCon Facebook group. Plus: You asked and we delivered: the 2019 MozCon speaker walk-on playlist is now live and available here for your streaming pleasure. 

Cindy Krum— Fraggles, Mobile-First Indexing, & the SERP of the Future 

If you were hit with an instant wave of nostalgia after hearing Cindy’s walk out music, then you are in good company and you probably were not disappointed in the slightest by Cindy’s talk on Fraggles.

  • “Fraggles” are fragments + handles. A fragment is a piece of info on a page. A handle is something like a bookmark, jump link, or named anchor — they help people navigate through long pages to get what they’re looking for faster.
  • Ranking pages is an inefficient way to answer questions. One page can answer innumerable questions, so Google’s now can pull a single answer from multiple parts of your page, skipping sections they don’t think are as useful for a particular answer.
  • The implications for voice are huge! It means you don’t have to listen to your voice device spout off a page’s worth of text before your question is answered.
  • Google wants to index more than just websites. They want to organize the world’s information, not websites. Fraggles are a demonstration of that.

Luke Carthy — Killer Ecommerce CRO and UX Wins Using A SEO Crawler 

Luke Carthy did warn us in his talk description that we should all flex our notetaking muscles for all the takeaways we would furiously jot down — and he wasn’t wrong.

  • Traffic doesn’t always mean sales and sales don’t always mean traffic!
  • Custom extraction is a great tool for finding missed CRO opportunities. For example, Luke found huge opportunity on Best Buy’s website — thousands of people’s site searches were leading them to an unoptimized “no results found” page.
  • You can also use custom extraction to find what product recommendations you or your customers are using at scale! Did you know that 35% of what customers buy on Amazon and 75 percent of what people watch on Netflix are the results of these recommendations?
  • For example, are you showing near-exact products or are you showing complementary products? (hint: try the latter and you’ll likely increase your sales!)
  • Custom extraction from Screaming Frog allows you to scrape any data from the HTML of the web pages while crawling them.

Andy Crestodina — Content, Rankings, and Lead Generation: A Breakdown of the 1% Content Strategy 

Next up, Andy of Orbit Media took the stage with a comprehensive breakdown of the most effective tactics for turning content into a high-powered content strategy. He also brought the fire with this sound advice that we can apply in both our work life and personal life.

  • Blog visitors often don’t have commercial intent. One of the greatest ways to leverage blog posts for leads is by using the equity we generate from links to our helpful posts and passing that onto our product and service pages.
  • If you want links and shares, invest in original research! Not sure what to research? Look for unanswered questions or unproven statements in your industry and provide the data.
  • Original research may take longer than a standard post, but it’s much more effective! When you think about it this way, do you really have time to put out more, mediocre posts?
  • Give what you want to get. Want links? Link to people. Want comments? Comment on others people’s work.
  • To optimize content for social engagement, it should feature real people, their faces, and their quotes.
  • Collaborating with other content creators on your content not only gives it built-in amplification, but it also leads to great connections and is just generally more fun.

Rob Ousbey — Running Your Own SEO Tests: Why It Matters & How to Do It Right 

Google’s algorithms have changed a heck of a lot in recent years — what’s an SEO to do? Follow Rob’s advice — both fashion and SEO — who says that the answer lies in testing.

  • “This is the way we’ve always done it” isn’t sufficient justification for SEO tactics in today’s search landscape.
  • In the earlier days of the algorithm, it was much easier to demote spam than it was to promote what’s truly good.
  • Rob and his team had a theory that Google was beginning to rely more heavily on user experience and satisfaction than some of the more traditional ranking factors like links.
  • Through SEO A/B testing, they found that:
    • Google relies less heavily on link signals when it comes to the top half of the results on page 1.
    • Google relies more heavily on user experience for head terms (terms with high search volume), likely because they have more user data to draw from.
  • In the process of A/B testing, they also found that the same test often produces different results on different sites. The best way to succeed in today’s SEO landscape is to cultivate a culture of testing!

Greg Gifford — Dark Helmet’s Guide to Local Domination with Google Posts and Q&A 

If you’re a movie buff, you probably really appreciated Greg’s talk — he schooled us all in move references and brought the fire with his insights on Google Posts and Q&A  

The man behind #shoesofmozcon taught us that Google is the new home page for local businesses, so we should be leveraging the tools Google has given us to make our Google My Business profiles great. For example…

Google Posts

  • Images should be 1200×900 on google posts
  • Images are cropped slightly higher than the center and it’s not consistent every time
  • The image size of the thumbnail is different on desktop than it is on mobile
  • Use Greg’s free tool at bit.ly/posts-image-guide to make sizing your Google Post images easier
  • You can also upload videos. The file size limit is 100mb and/or 30 seconds
  • Add a call-to-action button to make your Posts worth it! Just know that the button often means you get less real estate for text in your Posts
  • Don’t share social fluff. Attract with an offer that makes you stand out
  • Make sure you use UTM tracking so you can understand how your Posts are performing in Google Analytics. Otherwise, it’ll be attributed as direct traffic.

Google Q&A

  • Anyone can ask and answer questions — why not the business owner! Control the conversation and treat this feature like it’s your new FAQ page.
  • This feature works on an upvote system. The answer with the most upvotes will show first.
  • Don’t include a URL or phone number in these because it’ll get filtered out.
  • A lot of these questions are potential customers! Out of 640 car dealerships’ Q&As Greg evaluated, 40 percent were leads! Of that 40 percent, only 2 questions were answered by the dealership.

 Emily Triplett Lentz — How to Audit for Inclusive Content 

Emily of Help Scout walked dropped major knowledge on the importance of spotting and eliminating biases that frequently find their way into online copy. She also hung out backstage after her talk to cheer on her fellow speakers. #GOAT. #notallheroeswearcapes.

  • As content creators, we’d all do well to keep ableism in mind: discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. However, we’re often guilty of this without even knowing it.
  • One example of ableism that often makes its way into our copy is comparing dire or subideal situations with the physical state of another human (ex: “crippling”).
  • While we should work on making our casual conversation more inclusive too, this is particularly important for brands.
  • Create a list of ableist words, crawl your site for them, and then replace them. However, you’ll likely find that there is no one-size-fits-all replacement for these words. We often use words like “crazy” as filler words. By removing or replacing with a more appropriate word, we make our content better and more descriptive in the process.
  • At the end of the day, brands should remember that their desire for freedom of word choice isn’t more important than people’s right not to feel excluded and hurt. When there’s really no downside to more inclusive content, why wouldn’t we do it?

Visit http://content.helpscout.net/mozcon-2019 to learn how to audit your site for inclusive content!

Joelle Irvine — Image & Visual Search Optimization Opportunities 

Curious about image optimization and visual search? Joelle has the goods for you — and was blowing people’s minds with her tips for visual optimization and how to leverage Google Lens, Pinterest, and AR for visual search.

  • Visual search is not the same thing as searching for images. We’re talking about the process of using an image to search for other content.
  • Visual search like Google Lens makes it easier to search when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
  • Pinterest has made a lot of progress in this area. They have a hybrid search that allows you to find complimentary items to the one you searched. It’s like finding a rug that matches a chair you like rather than finding more of the same type of chair.
  • 62 percent of millennials surveyed said they would like to be able to search by visual, so while this is mostly being used by clothing retailers and home decor right now, visual search is only going to get better, so think about the ways you can leverage it for your brand!

Joy Hawkins — Factors that Affect the Local Algorithm that Don’t Impact Organic 

Proximity varies greatly when comparing local and organic results — just ask Joy of Sterling Sky, who gets real about fake listings while walking through the findings of a recent study.

Here are the seven areas in which the local algorithm diverges from the organic algorithm:

  • Proximity (AKA: how close is the biz to the searcher?)
    • Proximity is the #1 local ranking factor, but the #27 ranking factor on organic.
    • Studies show that having a business that’s close in proximity to the searcher is more beneficial for ranking in the local pack than in traditional organic results.
  • Rank tracking
    • Because there is so much variance by latitude/longitude, as well as hourly variances, Joy recommends not sending your local business clients ranking reports.
    • Use rank tracking internally, but send clients the leads/sales. This causes less confusion and gets them focused on the main goal.
    • Visit bit.ly/mozcon3 for insights on how to track leads from GMB
  • GMB landing pages (AKA: the website URL you link to from your GMB account)
    • Joy tested linking to the home page (which had more authority/prominence) vs. linking to the local landing page (which had more relevance) and found that traffic went way up when linking to the home page.
    • Before you go switching all your GMB links though, test this for yourself!
  • Reviews
    • Joy wanted to know how much reviews actually impacted ranking, and what it was exactly about reviews that would help or hurt.
    • She decided to see what would happen to rankings when reviews were removed. This happened to a business who was review gating (a violation of Google’s guidelines) but Joy found that reviews flagged for violations aren’t actually removed, they’re hidden, explaining why “removed” reviews don’t negatively impact local rankings.
  • Possum filter
    • Organic results can get filtered because of duplicate content, whereas local results can get filtered because they’re too close to another business in the same category. This is called the Possum filter.
  • Keywords in a business name
    • This is against Google’s guidelines but it works sadly
    • For example, Joy tested adding the word “salad bar” to a listing that didn’t even have a salad bar and their local rankings for that keyword shot up.
    • Although it works, don’t do it! Google can remove your listing for this type of violation, and they’ve been removing more listings for this reason lately.
  • Fake listings
    • New listings can rank even if they have no website, authority, citations, etc. simply because they keyword stuffed their business name. These types of rankings can happen overnight, whereas it can take a year or more to achieve certain organic rankings.
    • Spend time reporting spam listings in your clients’ niches because it can improve your clients’ local rankings.

Britney Muller — Featured Snippets: Essentials to Know & How to Target 

Closing out day three of MozCon was our very own Britney, Sr. SEO scientist extraordinaire, on everyone’s favorite SEO topic: Featured snippets!

We’re seeing more featured snippets than ever before, and they’re not likely going away. It’s time to start capitalizing on this SERP feature so we can start earning brand awareness and traffic for our clients!

Here’s how:

  • Know what keywords trigger featured snippets that you rank on page 1 for
  • Know the searcher’s intent
  • Provide succinct answers
  • Add summaries to popular posts
  • Identify commonly asked questions
  • Leverage Google’s NLP API
  • Monitor featured snippets
  • If all else fails, leverage ranking third party sites. Maybe your own site has low authority and isn’t ranking well, but try publishing on Linkedin or Medium instead to get the snippet!

There’s lots of debate over whether featured snippets send you more traffic or take it away due to zero-click results, but consider the benefits featured snippets can bring even without the click. Whether featured snippets bring you traffic, increased brand visibility in the SERPs, or both, they’re an opportunity worth chasing.

Aaaand, that’s a wrap!

Thanks for joining us at this year’s MozCon! And a HUGE thank you to everyone (Mozzers, partners, and crew) who helped make this year’s MozCon possible — we couldn’t have done it without all of you. 

What was your favorite moment of the entire conference? Tell us below in the comments! And don’t forget to grab the speaker slides here

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Three Killer Skills Professional Writers Need to Succeed in 2018

What brought you here today? What are you hoping to learn, be, become, do, or change by reading Copyblogger? We’ll be asking that question a lot in the coming year, but while we wait (feel free to answer in the comments below — we’d love to hear it), allow us to talk about why we
Read More…

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The Three Key Elements of Influential Digital Marketing

"True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody." – Brian Clark

Ever see a numbered headline like the one above and try to guess what the three things are?

Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not. In this case, you could be thinking I’m going to talk about content, copy, and email.

And while you’re right that those things are important, that’s not what this article is about.

Content and copy contain the messages you need to get across, and email delivers those messages within a conversion-rich context. But without understanding the fundamental elements of those messages, you won’t create the kind of influence with your target audience that leads to sales.

With companies of all sizes rushing to embrace “influencer marketing,” it seems that many have given up on the unique power the internet provides to form direct relationships with prospects.

Instead, they’re trying to avoid the work by reaching the audiences of people who have already put in the work.

Despite the disintermediated nature of the internet, brands are instead turning to a new form of intermediary, or influential middle man. Shortcut marketing rears its ugly head again.

Now, don’t get me wrong — having relevant influencers in your corner is desirable, and often game-changing. That said, your main goal is to first develop direct influence with your prospects, which ironically makes it easier to get outside influencers on your side.

This is the reality of modern marketing in any medium, and it’s especially viable online. And those three key elements that your digital marketing must embrace to develop true influence are aspiration, empowerment, and unity.

1. Aspiration

Effective marketing has always been about identifying and fulfilling aspirations. People strive to improve themselves and their station in life, especially in relation to others in the social strata.

Early mass marketing did a great job of channeling aspiration through envy. Messages encouraging consumers to “keep up with the Joneses” through the accumulation of material goods became the persuasion prompt for elevated social status.

Aspiration remains as powerful as ever, but it’s a different animal now. First of all, we no longer compare ourselves to our geographic neighbors. Instead, we now have worldwide Instagram-fueled expectations based on who we desire to be like based on interests, lifestyles, and various forms of success.

As master marketer Roy H. Williams presciently said:

“Show me what a person admires, and I’ll tell you everything about them that matters. And then you’ll know how to connect with them.”

Paired with that is a pronounced reduction in the desire to accumulate material things. According to a recent Trend Watch report on consumerism, status is shifting away from markers of material wealth — what they have — and moving more toward who they want to become.

This shift is amplified by celebrities and other influential people on social media. Their followers want to be healthier, smarter, creative, connected, and entrepreneurial. If you’re selling material goods, you need to understand how your widget fits into the broader aspirational lifestyle of your target audience.

This alone seems to justify the focus on outside influencer marketing, but it’s really just a way of abdicating your responsibility as the shepherd of your products and services. As Eugene Schwartz famously said decades ago:

“You do not create desire for your product. You take an existing demand in the market, and you channel it into your products.”

The desires and aspirations of your ideal customer are out there — in plain view — thanks to a social medium that publicly identifies who people admire and follow. It’s your job to discover the parameters of that aspiration, and channel it toward your product or service.

2. Empowerment

If you know what a prospect aspires to become, then your product or service and your marketing must empower that person to become a better version of themselves. If you fail across that spectrum, you’ll lose out to a competitor who delivers.

The 20th century was fueled by inadequacy marketing that encouraged material accumulation. Without access to alternative perspectives, people were targeted by marketers with messages that positioned the brand as the hero, promising to save the poor prospect from the anxiety manufactured by the message.

If your neighbor had a new Buick, you were now made to feel lesser in terms of social status. Why not upgrade to a Cadillac and take the lead?

Effective modern marketing flips that approach on its head. Rather than appealing to materialism or base self-interest, people are looking for positive inspiration and pragmatic guidance on how to become their best selves.

Pair that with the fact that the internet in general (and social media in particular) have helped erode trust in traditional institutions, while shifting power to engaging individuals. The appeal of attracting influencers with strong personal brands reflects this trend — people want to be empowered by other people, not faceless corporations.

Why not also put a human face on your own company? Again, what’s going to get an influencer excited about pimping your stuff, if your brand is uninspired to begin with?

This can be as easy as flipping your perceived role as a marketer. Whether you want to think of yourself as a guide, mentor, or coach, it’s your job to empower the buyer’s otherwise self-directed journey.

In an environment ripe with information and choices, the prospect is in charge. And while they may not look like a hero yet, they’re definitely the protagonist of their own story.

That means they’ll follow and choose to do business with the brand that empowers them to achieve their heroic aspirations. Outside influencers can help, but only as long as you’re also developing direct influence within your market in a meaningful way that establishes that you’re a player.

3. Unity

For decades, smart marketing and sales professionals have worked to incorporate the six fundamentals of influence established by social psychology studies — reciprocity, authority, social proof, liking, commitment and consistency, and scarcity — into their persuasion efforts.

So it was definitely news when Dr. Robert Cialdini, the original definer of those fundamentals, added a seventh — unity.

In reality, it actually wasn’t that much of a surprise. Books such as 2004’s The Culting of Brands by Douglas Atkin, and Seth Godin’s Tribes from 2008, provided earlier reflections on the power of unity influence. Meanwhile, companies such as Apple and Harley Davidson have used the power of belonging to build brands worth billions.

Smart digital marketers knew what was up, but we simply tried to shoehorn the concept into the existing influence principle of liking. That means people are more readily influenced by people they like and otherwise find attractive.

But unity goes way beyond simple liking. From the prospect’s perspective, it’s more about people like me or even of me.

According to the same Trend Watch report, people now trust people like themselves more than representatives of traditional power centers, and as much as academic or technical experts. To me, that makes unity perhaps the most powerful of the (now) seven fundamental principles of influence.

Take authority. It’s no longer enough to just demonstrate your expertise with content. You need to be the relatable authority that also shares the core values and worldviews of your prospects.

Or consider social proof, which means we look to others for indications of value and how to behave. A Breitbart article may get tens of thousands of social shares, and yet that social proof is meaningless — and actually a negative — to those who do not share the values and worldviews of that crowd.

There are a lot of tribal ways that we unify. Family, neighborhood, city, province, and nationality are obvious. But the more powerful forces of unification from a marketing standpoint are interest, aspiration, and empowerment. You need to lead people with similar aspirations in a way that brings them together even more.

Thanks to the internet, it’s never been easier for anyone to locate like-minded people who share their interests and aspirations. And as Godin pointed out repeatedly in Tribes, they’re also looking for like-minded leaders to provide the empowerment.

Stand for something that matters

It’s impossible to practice empowerment marketing with wishy-washy content and copy. To the contrary, it’s bold positioning, motivating manifestos, and innovative mission statements that inspire people to confidently chase their aspirations. And it’s no coincidence that these are the same sort of messages that spread like wildfire through social media.

Empowering content that matches aspirations and validates worldviews is what those coveted influencers use to build audiences. You must do the same to remain in the game.

Traditional wisdom says to hide behind a carefully crafted brand, powered by safely sanitized messages, in the hope of appealing to everyone. But if a prospect can’t see themselves belonging with your brand, they’ll look — and find — someone who does make them feel like they belong by standing for something that matters to them.

True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody.

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Three Reasons Why You Should Consider Solar Installations

In today’s society, there is a good chance that you’ve probably seen or at least heard of solar panels. Regardless of how you learned about solar installations, you may wonder if they are a good choice for you and your energy needs. With about 600,000 businesses and households in the United States to make the change, it is safe to say that people see the clear benefits of renewable energy. If you are looking to heat your pool or the entire house, here are some reasons why the choice of solar energy that could be interested.

It is profitable

No one likes to spend money on your electric bill. According to the solar installation package you choose, you could reduce your electricity bill in half or even get rid of your bill in full. In fact, some states such as California and New Jersey promoting the use of renewable energy, which means that if you qualify, you could pay utility rather than the reverse. Moreover, the value of your home may increase because of its panels. Research has shown that you can sell your home up to 15 percent faster if you have installed the panels, and traditional systems could increase the value of your home around $ 17,000. This means that even if you’re just looking at this from a financial point of view, there are several ways you can benefit from opting for renewable energy.

It is the environment

Is there anything better than saving money while doing something good? By using renewable energy, reduce their carbon footprint and protecting the environment. The use of renewable energy helps to prevent global warming, which has had a very negative impact on our planet, as shown by the growing number of animal species in danger of extinction, erosion of our coasts, and melting glaciers. While only five percent of households in the United States used the solar installations, we could remove 89.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the earth.

It is reliable

Its working panels to convert sunlight into energy in your home, and the sun will not go away soon. Even if the sun is not at night, its panels store energy in the electric grid so you have access to energy even when the sun does not shine. It is important that you keep your clean and free of debris such as snow, dirt, tree branches and leaves panels, this will ensure that the panels are used to full capacity and you get all the energy possible.

To read more about renewable energy, it will be difficult to deny its tangible benefits. If you are not sure how to get renewable energy benefit specifically to a local company for a consultation. In most cases you will see that there are benefits that had not even considered. Finding a reliable way to save money and the environment is something that everyone should be interested in. Make sure you take the time to discover what renewable energy can do for you and your community.


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Three Lead Generation Card Tips from the @TwitterSmallBiz Playbook

Posted by akmercog

Last August, we launched the
Lead Generation Card to all advertisers on Twitter. Since then, we’ve been impressed with the many small and medium businesses who have integrated the Lead Generation card into their marketing strategy, and seen powerful results.

We thought it would be valuable to share a page from our own playbook and offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the @TwitterSmallBiz team has been using Lead Generation Cards to accomplish our goals. Below, we’ll discuss what a Lead Generation Card is, and the three keys to success that we’ve uncovered through our experience using the product.

What is a Lead Generation Card?

A Lead Generation Card is simply a link that allows you to gather new customer email addresses directly within a Tweet. When you tweet out this link, it pre-populates a user’s full name, @username and email address (previously entered in their Twitter account settings) into the expanded area of your Tweet, replacing the need for a traditional, more cumbersome form.

In addition to a person’s contact information, the expanded Tweet includes other elements as well:

  • Short description: A statement that provides context and explains the value people will get from sharing their information with you.
  • Image: A visual cue that represents your business and generates interest in your offer.
  • Call to action: The action you want people to take, along with the benefits of doing so.

Here is what a Lead Generation Card looks like when included in a Tweet:

For step by step instructions on how to set up a Lead Generation Card, you can visit our dedicated
support page

Our three keys to success with Lead Generation Cards

Our @TwitterSmallBiz team did a lot of testing and learning before we landed on our current strategy for Lead Generation Cards. Here are three tips for your own Lead Generation Card campaigns:

1. Streamline your campaigns

Twitter Ads enables you to set up multiple campaigns within your account and provides a view into performance at both the aggregate and individual campaign level. 

If you plan to include Lead Generation Cards in your Promoted Tweets, we recommend
setting up a separate campaign that includes all of your Tweets aimed at Lead Generation. This allows you to adjust your bid independently from Promoted Tweets that have other goals, such as generating engagement, driving website traffic, etc.

Within each campaign, you can also view performance at the individual Tweet level, which allows you to understand which Tweets are the biggest contributors towards your goals. When you include multiple Promoted Tweets with Lead Generation Cards in the same campaign, you can more easily compare performance across various combinations of Tweet copy and Lead Generation Card creatives.

Once you determine which Lead Generation Cards and types of Tweet copy are driving the best results, you can allocate more of your budget towards those combinations and away from the ones that aren’t performing as well.

2. Less isn’t always more

The goal behind testing and learning is to then optimize your campaigns to be as effective as possible. The more you test, the more quickly you can learn which features and combinations are most effective at helping you reach your goals. The sooner you start the testing process, the better.

When you first start using Lead Generation Cards, try anywhere from five to seven different Cards across 20-30 variations of Tweet copy. A few days into your campaign, your Twitter Ads analytics will provide you with a clear view into which combinations are performing better than others so you can focus your efforts moving forward.

Here’s an example of how we used a similar testing framework for a recent campaign to collect email addresses around a new content offer:

Lead Generation Cards:

Copy for Promoted Tweets:

Option #1:

Lead Generation Cards make it easier than ever to generate leads on Twitter – find out how they can help your biz in this guide:

Option #2:

Did you know you can capture a lead in a Tweet? Download our free guide to find out how:

Option #3:

Have you seen a Lead Generation Card before? Now you have. We’ll teach you how to use them for your business in our new guide:

Option #4:

Would 1700 leads in a week look good to your boss? Download our guide to find out how
@rockcreek accomplished this w/ Lead Generation Cards

3. Follow up

When someone submits their email address through a Lead Generation Card, that person is expressing interest in your business. This creates an opportunity for you to follow up when potential customers are more likely to be receptive to your message. If you don’t follow up with people after they submit an email address, they may not remain as interested or be as receptive to hearing from you.

For this reason, it’s important to develop a plan for how you will follow up with new leads after they submit their email address. That follow-up plan will often vary depending on the offer used for your Lead Generation Card.

For example, if your offer included a new piece of content, you may want to include the email addresses you collect in an existing newsletter or email campaign list that shares similar types of content. Alternatively, if you offered event registration through your Lead Generation Card, you might want to add those email addresses to an event mailing list so that you can send additional event information or materials that were presented at the event. No matter what type of follow-up plan you choose, it should create opportunities for you to continue communicating with new leads and, ultimately, convert them into paying customers.

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Three Online Marketing Shortcuts that Take Too Long

image of broken bridge

Sometimes people hear online marketing and their common sense flies out the window. They start thinking there won’t be any work (there will), there won’t be any expenses (a lot lower than standard offline advertising, but not zero), and that customers and clients will be magically transported to your business by flying Internet monkeys (that would rock, but sadly, no).

“Don’t take shortcuts, they take too long.” That’s something I say at least once a week, whether it’s to a colleague or one of our brilliant Authority members.

I first said it in the context of smart search engine optimization, where the tricks, games, and tomfoolery of a certain style of SEO have been systematically whacked by Google — leaving site owners to start from scratch.

But that’s not the only aspect of your online marketing efforts you need to watch out for. Here are a few shortcuts that will only slow you down in the long run.

#1: Going with “quick” solutions instead of self-hosted WordPress

I did this. When I first started a blog way back when, I went with a certain platform that rhymes with Striped Dad.

Why? Because I looked at setting up self-hosted WordPress and there were steps I didn’t understand. It seemed tricky. It seemed like it was going to take longer than the 3 minutes it took me to create a Striped Dad account.

To make things worse, instead of using my own domain name, I set it up as SoniaSimoneIsMakingAMistake.StripedDad.com.

I saved an hour or two … and when I finally came to my senses and moved over to my own domain, I lost all of my links and comments from the earliest days of that blog.

Not fatal. But not optimal, either. There was a lot of extra work, content promotion, and networking I needed to do to fix that mistake.

It was a shortcut that took too long.

#2: Thinking that Facebook is a valid content marketing program

I’m not picking on Facebook (this time), it’s just the most visible place people are making this mistake today.

Using Facebook, or whatever social platform you like, is a perfectly excellent addition to your content marketing strategy.

The problem comes when you think that’s your entire content marketing strategy.

Never mind setting up and maintaining your own site … How easy to just put your business identity on Facebook! Or Google+! Or Pinterest or Medium or LinkedIn … you get the idea.

And it is easier. Until the platform changes the rules, yanks your account out from under you, and your content marketing program goes with it.

Which will happen. Because it always happens … whether the platform is Geocities or MySpace or Tumblr.

Platforms come and go. Your domain name — and the high-quality site you build on it — lives on.

(Assuming you remember to keep it renewed. Seriously, don’t forget to do that.)

#3: Buying all of your traffic from one source

Oh, the happy world of venture capital-backed tech startups. So much money! So many Aeron chairs! So much fun!

Until the single source of traffic you were using to show growth dries up, for one of a million possible reasons. And your viral overnight success becomes a sick and tired overnight failure.

VC-backed companies can be forgiven for doing silly things (that’s what they’re good at, right?). But plenty of more sensible businesses make this mistake too. It comes from thinking of traffic (and leads, and prospects) as a faucet you can turn on and off, instead of the result of credibility that you must earn.

Don’t let any one company be the source of all of your traffic, whether it’s a social platform like Facebook or an 800-pound pay-per-click gorilla like AdWords.

And yeah, the SEO thing

You shouldn’t rely on search for all of your traffic either. A smart organic SEO strategy (without silly shortcuts) will usually weather Google’s storms, but you don’t want to bet your business on it.

(Besides, Google always seems to love the sites best that don’t need them at all. Because Google is a mean high school girl.)

Do this instead:

Remember what your 4th grade teacher kept trying to tell you. If you don’t have time to do it right, you don’t have time to do it over.

About the author

Sonia Simone

Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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Seven Lessons Learned from Three Years of Content Creation

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Life and business are full of lessons if you look for them.

Some you learn the easy way, and some you learn the hard way.

A few years ago, I started creating content for my brand-new site. It wasn’t easy — I didn’t consider myself a writer, so cranking out blog posts on a consistent schedule was daunting at first.

But over the years I’ve become more comfortable with content creation, and I’ve even added to my writing workload. I now write a weekly newsletter, and I write guest posts regularly for some pretty big sites, some of which you may know. ;-)

I have learned a few valuable lessons along the way.

You don’t need a three-year learning curve to take advantage of what I’m about to share. Just take note of these ideas so you can benefit from the stumbles, facepalm moments, and happy accidents that came along as I built my own website.

1. Survey the horizon before you plan your content

My most productive weeks have been the ones I’ve planned in advance.

Look ahead and decide what you want to promote in the upcoming months. Break your subjects down into your weekly post topics.

Do this on a quarterly basis when possible, and you’ll have the first step for your posts mapped out ahead of time — the idea.

And yes, your topics may end up changing if your plans change. But having even some of your post topics lined up beforehand will save time and stress.

2. Batch write when you can

The secret to stress-free content production — I’m convinced — is batching.

Want to gain freedom, time and flexibility? Plan a marathon content creation session.

Crank out a month or two of posts, video, or audio. Then sit back and devote your energy to promoting those posts when you publish them.

3. Offer levels of engagement

When prospects first come across your site, they may be skeptical. Before they’ll do business with you, you have to earn their trust.

To help make their transition to customer easy and natural, offer free information that’s simple to consume. At first, don’t even ask for an email address in exchange.

As you deliver value with your free materials, prospects will be ready for the next level of commitment — an email address. Offer something valuable in exchange to motivate them to invite you into their inbox.

Once they’re ready to take the next step, have a low-priced item available to buy. Exceed their expectations with your low-priced offering, and your prospects will feel more comfortable investing in higher-priced products.

4. To get to know your reader, step down from the pulpit

Blogging is not about standing above your readers and preaching. Some of my most-successful posts have been simple ones where I ask readers a question.

I give my readers the mic and ask them to share their thoughts about a topic. The results have been posts with many more comments than average.

The key to making this work is to ask a question that’s related to your topic, or to the challenges your readers typically face. Ask them to share their experiences, frustrations, or advice.

Make yourself available to interact in the comment section. Then step back and watch the comments flow in.

5. Don’t be afraid to swim against the tide

Last year, I decided to start offering webinars. You may have heard the conventional wisdom about webinars:

  • Don’t offer webinars on a regular basis — that way more people sign up to the ones you offer randomly (which should increase your conversions)
  • Don’t offer a replay video — you’ll force people show up live (the better to pressure them into buying)
  • Keep them on the webinar long enough that you can present your entire pitch (the better to convert them to customers)

I decided to break all of these rules with my Brown Bag Webinars.

  • They’re held on the same day and at the same time every month
  • I offer a replay video to anyone who signs up
  • Most Brown Bag Webinars are about 30 minutes long. A few have been a little longer.

My ideal customer is a small business owner who’s juggling a lot. I wanted them to be able to fit these webinars into their lunch hour, or watch them on a break.

As a matter of fact, I encourage them to eat while they watch.

This decision — to create a webinar experience that worked for my ideal customer — has added thousands of names to my mailing list over the past year, and thousands of dollars to my profits.

6. Build a series that breaks up your list

Brown Bag Webinars are held on different topics, and to send out the login link and replay, I have to gather email addresses. I have a separate email list for each webinar I offer.

The result for me? I now have 12 mailing lists that are targeted to specific topics and themes.

This works out well, because when I have more content related to the topic they signed up for, I can send an invitation to these targeted lists.

7. Present your ideas in more than one format

It took me years to realize how much people enjoyed consuming content in different formats.

My courses and products all included text, audio, and video. But my blog posts tended to be mostly text.

And that’s a shame. Because with a little extra effort, your content can have a presence on iTunes (with a podcast) and YouTube (with video), among other important venues.

This month I’m remedying that with a ten-part video series on design basics. It’s my Design 101 lessons converted to short educational videos.

I’m repurposing something I wrote in the first weeks of my blog into a completely different format with new information.

It feels like my content has come full circle.

Over to you …

What content creation lessons have you learned over the years? Let’s make this post a place to share our best hard-earned lessons.

Share yours in the comments!

About the Author: Pamela Wilson is co-creator of eBook Evolution, the all-in-one solution for writing, creating and launching ebooks. Now eBook Evolution shows you how to convert your ebook to ereader formats, too. Learn to use ebooks to grow your business — sign up for Pamela’s free on-demand Ultimate eBook Kickstart webinar.

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Email Marketing: What are the top three steps for effective email marketing?

Email marketing is a process that takes time and testing to truly understand and perfect. While there are many tips, tricks and ideas marketer’s can utilize to aid their efforts, these three steps are at the top of the list for effective email marketing. Read on for these steps as well as related resources to aid your email marketing campaigns.
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Top Three Inbound Marketing Strategies for Mobile Apps

Posted by robiganguly

Disclaimer: This post is an extension of the recent Mozinar "Standing Out in the Sea Of Apps: Building an Audience of Fans for Your Mobile App's Success" and covers questions from audience Q&A. You can watch the recorded Mozinar here!

Mobile. The very word makes some of us cringe these days. Everywhere you look in the marketing world, you see signs of it – mobile this, mobile that… Is it just me, or is it a bit overkill?

Sometimes, I feel like we're pushing the idea of mobile to the limit. But then I look at the numbers:

  • There are currently 750,000 apps in the App Store alone.
  • These apps have over 40 billion downloads.
  • There are one billion smartphones existing in the world, and that number is growing.

2 Huge Markets - The growth in iOS and Android apps over the past 4 years

Whoa.

There are over one billion consumers looking for information on their mobile devices, and you know what works when consumers are looking for information? Inbound marketing. 

In this post, I share the top three most effective inbound marketing tips app marketers can use to begin making waves in the world of mobile. 

Inbound marketing wins in mobile

The opportunity to connect deeply with consumers through inbound marketing has never been larger than it is today, and mobile is fueling a huge amount of the growth. When it comes to apps, all you need to know is this: apps have already surpassed the web when it comes to consumer time-spent, and are second only to time spent watching television.

Time Spent in Mobile Apps Now Rivals Time Spent with Television - a multi-year comparison chart

The secret is this: very few companies are taking advantage of this space. It’s 2013, but in the world of mobile apps, it's like it’s 2001 all over again.

App developers and their audiences need help acquiring customers profitably and not focusing simply on vanity metrics, such as number of downloads. That's where inbound marketing comes in.

Inbound marketing on the web has matured and grown a lot over the past several years. We can learn a lot from our past and apply it to our future (i.e. we can take what we know and apply it to mobile marketing). Below are three simple inbound marketing strategies for mobile apps that are delivering absolutely incredible results.

1. Be social

By this point, we should all understand how important social is to any good marketing strategy. However, when it comes to mobile, social is just what we do as humans. We text and email like crazy. We ride the bus and check Facebook. We Instagram our lunches and Tweet our random observations while standing in line at Starbucks.

These days, to be mobile is to be social. This means that social is a perfect venue for conversations about your mobile app's offerings. Let’s take a look at two of social’s leaders and how they can be used for mobile purposes.

Twitter

A while back, Nike ran a Twitter-focused experiment to introduce a new mobile app they’d created. They proactively shared their content and the app with likely consumers who were sharing their athletic activities on Twitter. The results astounded them. Their two week experiment yielded:

  • Over three clicks per outbound Tweet
  • A doubling of the positive ratings and reviews in the app store for their app
  • As many downloads from the Twitter campaign as their largest paid channel

Although Nike is a large company, the results of their campaign fascinating at any level. The last part is the most interesting: they received as many downloads from their social “experiment” as they did through their largest paid channel. The ROI was extraordinary.

Facebook

It’s impossible to talk about the social landscape without bringing up Facebook. For mobile, Facebook can be incredibly important. For certain categories of apps (movies, tv, games, news, and others), connecting with Facebook drives a massive increase in revenue and engagement from users. Take a look at the data from some of the most popular apps who have integrated a Facebook login.

Engagement & Monetization Data from Popular Apps with Facebook Login

Facebook isn’t necessarily the best option for every app developer, but when it’s done well, it’s clear that integrating Facebook into your app can really improve your results.

2. Tell your own story

Consumers generally surf and search for apps from within the app store. As such, making sure that you’ve optimized your app store presence is absolutely crucial.  Getting discovered by a large audience of interested customers can be as simple as:

  • Selecting the right name
  • Investing in a compelling and memorable icon
  • Experimenting with categories and keywords, and
  • Testing and optimizing your app’s description (social proof in the description itself works wonders – take a look at the description that document signing app SignNow has crafted)

You must own your presence in the app store and also make it another channel for telling your app's story. Most app developers gloss over many of the important details that can affect downloads for an app. It's important to not let the app store tell your app's story for you. If you do, you'll be missing out on a large marketing opportunity.

The app store is only one place to tell your story. Using your website and other channels to share why people use your app and what problems you’re solving is an increasingly powerful method of enabling app discovery, and it also makes your app seem more "human."

Because apps are so exceptional at providing task-oriented solutions in small consumable packages, journalists and bloggers are actively searching for apps they can share with their audiences. The largest tech blogs and app review sites routinely drive as many installations as a feature in the app store. Take the time to produce content and information that will appeal to journalists and share your story in enough detail that they’ll discover your app and want to learn more. For a great example, take a look at how the small team behind Chewsy has shared their unique take on restaurant and dish reviews with publications like Forbes. By sharing your story with these outlets, it's likely that your downloads will increase. 

3. Court your audience of fans from day one

It should be clear that you want to own your story and tell it in the app store and elsewhere. However, there is another, more powerful route – having your customers tell great stories about you. Not only is this personally gratifying (nothing’s better than hearing from a customer that you’ve developed something that delights them), but word of mouth is incredibly effective. Consumer studies continue to show that recommendations from the people we know are trusted the most for the average consumer.

Data on the Most Trusted Advertising Sources for Consumer Decision-Making

Now, how do you get your fans to go tell their friends and say good things in public?

For many web businesses, this is an incredible challenge because there’s no centralized source for customers to share their thoughts. For mobile apps, that’s not the case – the app stores give you a great venue for this in the form of the ratings and reviews sections.

But how do consumers get to the app store to review your app? Despite the existence of easy opinion-sharing venues most customers don’t speak upIn factit appears that less than 0.1% of downloads result in a rating or review in the app store. Most consumers need a nudge – a reminder that they can share their thoughts and opinions.

This is why you should be proactively connecting with your customers from day one. If your app has a returning audience it means that there are people who are a fan of what you’ve built. Those customers are highly likely to share their fandom with the world, if you make it easy for them to do so.

The wonderful thing about developing apps is that you can use them as a direct channel to talk with your customers. Reaching out to your biggest fans inside your app, and connecting more deeply with them is a powerful strategy for increasing customer loyalty and motivating a group of evangelists.

Connecting with your audience of fans certainly increases the number of customers leaving great reviews for your apps, but it’s about more than just reviews. It’s about the recognition that we walk around with our smartphones all day long.

When we take a look at our phone in a meeting or open it at dinner, we’re around others, introducing them to apps we love. By communicating closely with your customer base, you can massively change your awareness and download trajectory. We’ve talked with a number of developers who can map their adoption geographically. Word of mouth, in the real world, is a major inbound channel for mobile which every app developer can influence in a meaningful way.

As this Microsoft ad from a few years ago uncomfortably reminded us – we’re addicted to our phones.

So, mobile

…is a term we’re all going to be hearing a LOT over the next several years. As big and as fast as this opportunity is growing, the mobile apps industry is in its infancy and could benefit from the expertise that any great inbound marketer can bring to the table.

A simple and consistent focus on:

  • Being social
  • Telling your story effectively, and
  • Empowering your customers to share their stories about you

…will be certain to pay off in the long run.

When it comes to mobile apps, inbound marketing looks a lot like the industry we’ve all grown to love. Provide a tremendous amount of value for your target customers and reap the rewards of building customer acquisition channels that increase in efficiency over time. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on the emerging mobile app opportunity. Now, I'd love to hear from you. Have you been utilizing your inbound marketing prowess for mobile apps? Which strategies are working for you? Did I miss any strategies which are incredibly effective? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or find the entire Apptentive team on Twitter!

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The Three Things This Viral Video Gets Exactly Right

image of staffordshire terrier

If you’ve been on Facebook for more than ten minutes, you’ve seen a friend share an interesting video.

Today I want to talk about one that was shared with me — about why it worked, what you can learn from it, and how you can break a complex piece of content down to get insights for your own material.

After I took a few minutes to watch the video, I immediately shared it. And then my friends shared it. And their friends shared it.

When I see that happening in my social media streams, I stop and pay attention.

So let’s take a look at a powerful story. The story of a good dog named Rosie, the kind people who helped her, and how they can help you create the kind of content that gets shared, that touches your audience, and that motivates them to take action.

The video is below. It would be a great idea to watch it through before we start the analysis part. You may want to have a hanky handy.

Can’t see the video? Click here to watch it on YouTube.

There are a lot of things these guys are doing right, but I want to call your attention to three in particular that I think you can learn from.

The part where they’re doing something remarkable

I watched what kind of language people were using when they shared the video. It was usually some version of, “This is amazing” or, “You need to watch this.”

Hope for Paws, the organization who published the content, does amazing work. Now lots of us have taken in stray animals. There have been probably a dozen cats in my life who have wandered in from the street and taken up residence.

But very few of us have the knowledge, patience, and wisdom of the man in the video. He’s a superhero of animal rescue. The device with the iPhone is interesting and clever, but it’s just one detail in a larger story of someone engaged in remarkable work.

Remember, remarkable just means people are talking about you. In other words, they feel compelled to share your content with words like, You have to see this.

There are a million ways to be remarkable. Most of them rest on a foundation of being (really) damned good at what you do.

The part where it grabs you emotionally

This story doesn’t pull any punches.

First, rescue stories are always touching. The strong protecting the weak, the frightened finding sanctuary. That’s a powerful archetype.

And then the story gets kicked up a notch when we find out that this lovely abandoned dog isn’t the only one in need of rescue — she has puppies to protect. Any parent (or anyone who’s ever had a parent, for that matter) will be able to resonate with this story of a mama struggling to keep her little ones safe.

They throw a little emotional music in, too. These guys don’t play fair. And that’s what makes it effective. (All of the Hope for Paws videos are good if you’d like to just sit at your desk and have a good cry.)

The story follows a good, proven template: Peril, Complications, Resolution. In copywriting, it’s called Problem, Agitate, Solve.

  • The story is compelling because something we care about is at stake. (Peril — will we find the puppies? Will they be okay?)
  • It holds our attention because interesting twists and turns develop along the way. (Complications — the mama is reluctant to reveal her pups, the trick with the iPhone)
  • And it’s satisfying because at the end, we get our happily ever after. The world of the story is restored to order and goodness. (Resolution — that whole part at the end where you cried)

You may not have the benefit of adorable puppies for your business story. But there’s some version of this story structure in your business. You need to dig it out.

Hint: your customers know where you can find it, and they will show you if you ask.

The part where they let you know what to do next

Note that there’s a nice, clear call to action right at the beginning of the video. It isn’t lost. They don’t worry about being too “pitchy.”

If you want to help (and many people who watch the video will want to help), they make it easy. (Did I donate? Yes.)

The process after you click Donate is clear and simple as well. No hangups, no broken order pages. An optimization expert could probably come in and improve things even more, but 90% of the game is won by simply clearly asking for what you want.

We can sometimes get caught up in not wanting to “sell” too soon. And it’s a great idea to make your case before you start reaching into anyone’s pocket.

But be mindful — at the moment you’ve created a strong emotional impact, your audience wants to know how to take the next step. To book a consultation or buy a product or make a donation. Don’t make them wait too long, or their attention will drift to the next compelling story.

There’s a difference between decent content and great content

You don’t have to get everything right to create a great piece of content. Your grammar may not be perfect (although you’ll hear about it if it isn’t), your site might not be exactly the way you want it, you may have some details you want to fix.

But if you’re creating content:

  • About someone (ideally you or your company) doing something remarkable,
  • That engages your audience’s emotion and tells a compelling story, and
  • Ends with a clear, simple call to action

Then you’re going to win the content game. Everything you do on top of that will just make it better.

And if you want to watch some more moving but happy stories and maybe even make a donation, here’s the link for the Hope for Paws website. By the way, we have no affiliation with them, other than finding their video on Facebook and being moved to write about it.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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