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In a World of Diminishing Trust, Data-Driven Marketers Can Turn the Tide

Trusting Hands

Trusting Hands

My first encounter with marketing data malpractice came at a young age. I wasn’t old enough to understand what was going on at the time, but my dad loves to tell the story. As I’ve gotten older, the humor and timeless relevance of this anecdote have struck me more and more.

It was the mid-90s. We received a piece of mail at our house addressed to Lucy Nelson. It was a credit card offer from one of the industry’s heavy hitters. Nothing out of the norm so far, right?

Here’s the problem: Lucy was no longer alive.

And the bigger problem: Lucy was not a human. She was our dog.

As it turns out, my older brother had been cited by an officer at a nearby park many years earlier for walking Lucy without a leash. When asked to give a name, he stuttered out the Golden Retriever’s, along with our family surname. Somehow “Lucy Nelson” ended up in a city database and the credit card company had plucked it out to add to its mailing list. Ultimately, this resulted in our dearly departed dog being pitched a deluxe platinum card.


Flash-forward 20-some years. It’s a different world now. The rudimentary practice of collecting names and addresses from public databases seems so quaint in the Age of Big Data. Businesses and institutions now have the ability to gather comprehensive insights about people, both in aggregate and at an individual level.

For the general populace, this can feel unnerving. And unfortunately, almost everyone reading this has experienced some breach of trust when it comes to corporations or government and personal data.

But for marketers, the sheer volume of information now readily available presents a significant opportunity to take our profession to all new heights. By getting it right, we can help stem the tide of rising consumer wariness.

A World of Distrust

In 2017, for the first time since being introduced almost two decades ago, the Edelman Trust Barometer found a decline in consumer trust toward business, media, government, and NGOs to “do what is right.” That’s bad. And even worse: the organization’s Trust Index didn’t rebound in the 2018 study, released in January.

2018 Edelman Trust Barometer

“A World of Distrust,” Edelman has dubbed it in 2018. And who can blame folks for losing faith? These days it can feel like the only major news story that isn’t shrouded in doubt is when Equifax leaks the personal information of 150 million people.

In such an environment, it’s hard to not to squirm when learning that your Amazon Alexa, and even your smartphone, is listening to you pretty much at all times.

While apprehension is understandable, these aren’t people spying on us; they are robotic algorithms collecting data in efforts to understand us and better serve us.

As marketers, we can play a major role in showing people the benefits of a data-focused marketplace. Customers rightfully have high expectations of our ability to offer high-quality tailored experiences, and we need to follow through. It’s an historic opportunity.

[bctt tweet="As marketers, we can play a major role in showing people the benefits of a data-focused marketplace. - @NickNelsonMN #CX #DataDrivenMarketing" username="toprank"]

Connecting the Dots

Our CEO Lee Odden recently wrote this in a blog about data creating better customer experiences: “One of the universal truths that we’ve operated under at TopRank Marketing,” he explained. “Is about the power of information specific to customers that are actively searching for solutions.”

In that post, Lee wrote about his experience searching online for a portable battery charger and then being served ads for purple mattresses. That’s the kind of thing that drives me crazy. As Lee notes: “The data is there. Customers are telling you what they want. The question is, how to connect those dots of data to understand and optimize customer experiences?”

The consequences of missing the mark are very real. A few years ago LoyaltyOne conducted a survey of 2,000 U.S. and Canadian customers on the subjects of data collection and privacy. Among the findings: only 35% were accepting of retailers using cookies to track their online behavior and just 27% were cool with location-based offers.

How much less widespread resistance might we be seeing against these tactics if they were being utilized more effectively?  

[bctt tweet="The data is there. Customers are telling you what they want. The question is, how to connect those dots of data to understand & optimize customer experiences? - @leeodden #CX #DataDrivenMarketing" username="toprank"]

The Data-Driven Marketer’s Imperative

The stakes are high. We need to piece the puzzle together correctly. If marketers and advertisers can start consistently delivering the sort of customized content and recommendations that data empower us to provide, it’ll go a long way toward restoring customer faith.

We should be using this information to optimize, not traumatize!

Among the biggest areas for improvement I can see, from the perspective of both a marketer and customer:

  • Cut down on data fragmentation and organizational silos. This issue is abundantly common and extremely damaging. The “garbage in, garbage out” adage will never cease to be true. Make the necessary investments to unify your data and enhance the customer journey from attract to engage to convert and every step in between.
  • Be more transparent. Location-based tracking and other oft-used practices would be much less irksome if they didn’t feel so sneaky. Inform customers when you’re gathering info and why. Commit to opt-in policies wherever possible.
  • Follow the principles of the “virtuous cycle.” LoyaltyOne CEO Bryan Pearson suggests that building trust is tantamount to developing face-to-face relationships. “In the beginning, we share a little. Then, once we show that we can be responsible with what the customer has shared, he or she will reveal a little more. And gradually the relationship deepens. This crawl-walk-run approach to sharing information is a sensible way for us to proceed in data collection and use. After all, as long as customer information is used to enhance the customer experience, taking small steps along the way can lead to big things.”

Data has come a long way since the days of sending credit card offers to dead dogs. Marketers, let’s make sure every campaign we create is reflecting this progress.

[bctt tweet="We should be using the data & information we have to optimize, not traumatize. - @NickNelsonMN #DataDrivenMarketing #CX" username="toprank"]

How can you build more trust with your audience? A more thoughtful approach to content marketing can help. Learn several ways to build credibility and trust with content.

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They Won’t Bite: How talking to customers helped Dell EMC turn its content strategy around

Taking the time to pause production and speak with our customers about the kind of content they want to see is one of those “why didn’t we do this sooner?” moments we talk about so much in marketing.
The Dell EMC had just such a moment. It stopped producing content that was seeing absolutely no traction and began not only focusing on content that customers actually wanted but also getting it in front of them.
Watch this Media Center interview with Lindsay Lyons, Director of Global Content Strategy, Dell EMC, to gain insights into how her team was able to transform their internal processes to produce effective, customer-first content.

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How to Turn One Content Idea into a Fascinating Four-Part Series

"Shift from publishing content to building anticipation for your next installment." – Stefanie Flaxman

Sometimes it’s really helpful to prepare multiple pieces of content in advance.

You might be:

But how do you plan your content, create it, and meet your publishing deadlines without getting overwhelmed?

Let’s start with a simple, small task: selecting one content idea.

Then we’ll break down that one idea into a fascinating four-part series. The process I’m going to share is a straightforward way to communicate your expertise, in a format that is easy for your audience to consume and share.

Shift from publishing content to building anticipation for your next installment

The example I’m going to give will demonstrate how to produce a four-part blog series, but you can adapt the guidance to produce podcast episodes or videos as well.

When you do, you shift from merely publishing content to actively building anticipation for your next installment.

Content marketing and copywriting work so well together because copywriting helps you stir something in your audience so that they’re invested in the content you produce.

"You’ve got to stir something in them before they’ll do something." – Brian Clark

If you produce one piece of content a week, the installments below will give you four weeks of content, but they could also publish four consecutive days in a row or every other day. See what works for you.

Installment #1: Establish your authority

Here’s where you select your content idea.

Let’s pretend you run a health-conscious, organic bakery that serves tasty desserts.

Your customers love your grape jam, so you want to give your blog readers a recipe for grape jam with natural ingredients and no added sugar.

Start with a basic “how to ___” to generate your content idea. “How to ___” might not be your final headline, but filling in that blank with details helps narrow your focus.

How to Make Mouth-Watering Grape Jam (with Less Sugar than Grocery-Store Brands)

In this first installment, you’ll establish your authority by:

  • Introducing the topic in a unique way
  • Explaining your interest in writing about it
  • Describing your organic bakery’s philosophy

The motivation behind the information you share should be: why someone should listen to your advice about the topic.

answer this: why you?

Then outline what you’ll cover in upcoming installments, weaving in anecdotes about how your tutorial will be more beneficial than other grape jam recipes.

And that’s it for your first post.

At the end of the content

  • Write a call to action (CTA) for readers to subscribe to your blog to get the next piece of content via email.

Installment #2: Educate with a simple, relevant background lesson

The goal of this post is to make readers feel ready to follow your advice.

Link to installment #1 in your introduction and then write more background information about making your grape jam.

What types of kitchen tools will they need? Where are the best places to buy the ingredients you’ll recommend? What is your issue with grape jams that have added sugar? How did you discover this recipe?

"Building trust is bigger than tactics — it’s your entire mission." – Brian Clark

You build trust as you educate your audience and offer useful suggestions that prepare them for the next installment.

At the end of the content

  • Provide an “Additional Reading” section, with a link to installment #1.
  • Write a CTA for readers to subscribe to your blog to get the next piece of content via email.

Installment #3: Share your tutorial

The big moment has arrived.

In this post, you’ll show how to make your grape jam, step by step. You could also discuss the type of container you like to store the jam in and how long it will stay fresh.

"It can be scary to put your story out there on the web. It’s also empowering." – Jerod Morris

The tutorial should make sense to anyone, even if they didn’t read the previous two installments. But there will likely be opportunities throughout the text to link to the other installments you’ve already published.

When you edit your first draft, look for ways to engage and entertain. Give readers an experience they won’t have on other bakery blogs.

At the end of the content

  • Provide an “Additional Reading” section, with links to installment #1 and installment #2.
  • Write a CTA for readers to subscribe to your blog to get the next piece of content via email.

Installment #4: Add extra value and advanced tips

Encourage readers to experiment with your recipe and inspire them to learn more about organic desserts.

What types of bread complement the grape jam? Can they easily alter the recipe to make strawberry, blueberry, or raspberry jam? Is the grape jam an ingredient in other recipes you’ll publish in the future?

"Don't tell me it's 'awesome,' 'epic,' or 'amazing.' Show me why." – Sonia Simone

If you plan to create additional four-part series, you can tease upcoming tutorials that will cover related topics.

At the end of the content

  • Provide an “Additional Reading” section, with links to installment #1, installment #2, and installment #3.
  • Write a CTA for readers to subscribe to your blog to get your content via email.

Bring it all together

Once you’ve published all the installments:

  • Edit the “Additional Reading” section at the end of installment #1 so that it has links to installment #2, installment #3, and installment #4.
  • Add links to installment #3 and installment #4 in the “Additional Reading” section at the end of installment #2.
  • Add a link to installment #4 in the “Additional Reading” section at the end of installment #3.

Ready to write your next content series?

In the comment section below, let us know about the topic you’ll tackle with this method.

The post How to Turn One Content Idea into a Fascinating Four-Part Series appeared first on Copyblogger.


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How to Use Network Data to Turn Bad Inputs into Gold

If you think network data means gathering business cards at lunch, you’re in for a surprise. Today’s network data comes from data owners sharing their information to give everyone access to better data than any brand can assemble on its own. Join data experts David M. Raab and John Hurley as they…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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A Simple Way to Turn Your Email Subscribers into True Fans

how to build a group of enthusiastic readers

Do you ever find yourself with a list of email subscribers, only to not know what to say or when to say it?

There is one simple way that content marketers and digital entrepreneurs can develop their relationships with their email subscribers.

It’s the tried, true, and often overlooked … email newsletter.

Creating an email newsletter for your audience is an exceptional way to build a trust-based relationship.

A consistent email newsletter enables you to give, give, give.

Giving makes it easier when it comes time to ask for feedback, input — or for the sale.

More importantly, it enables and allows you to listen and have real conversations with your audience. This is where you can begin to go deep and turn your email subscribers into a true audience.

Where does a newsletter fit into your content strategy?

Once you’ve created a smart content marketing strategy, you work hard to promote your valuable content.

With consistent and effective content promotion, people visit your website and you direct them to sign up for your email list.


Then you get busy creating more content, which also needs to be promoted. It can be a tough cycle. Luckily, as a smart content marketer, you are up for the challenge.

Your content’s goal shouldn’t just be to generate traffic; you should aim to connect with your audience — and draw them closer to your solutions.

Starting and running a remarkable newsletter is about creating an experience by enabling your subscribers to connect with you and your message.

Your newsletter is a valuable piece of content. Make it a priority in your schedule, so you can create an experience for your readers that will take them on a journey deeper into your brand.

So, which type of newsletter should you start?

There are three main types of newsletters to choose from.

Each has its own benefits and hurdles to overcome — but each will help and encourage your readers to know, like, and trust you.

1. Offer your best work

This email newsletter type (at least within the marketing space) has been brought to popularity by Chris Brogan and his weekly email. It must be unique and cannot be found anywhere else before it is sent to your subscribers’ inboxes.

Chris promotes his newsletter as simply the best work he does — and he follows through on his promise every Sunday morning.

According to Chris, his newsletter accounts for 70 percent of his revenue and builds authority for himself and his company, Owner Media Group.

Of course, writing a weekly email can be a lot of work.

Don’t make it an afterthought — think of it as an integral piece of your content strategy. This mindset shift will allow it to become as valuable to you as it is to Chris.

Your best-work newsletter provides the reader with a fresh piece of unique content and the feeling that they’re part of an exclusive group. It feels like a friend writing to a friend.

To craft an effective best-work newsletter, you will need to:

  • Write exclusive content every week.
  • Set a schedule and stick to it.
  • Start writing even before you have a lot of subscribers.

Writing your best work each week is an effective way to show up for your audience, build relationships, and produce significant revenue.

But committing to the task may also be daunting. If that’s the case for you, you may prefer a different style of newsletter.

2. Curate content to become a helpful resource

Do you spend countless hours every week scouring blogs, news sites, and social media to consume all the latest and greatest information written in your industry?

Maybe you have what it takes to publish a curated newsletter.

Collect the most valuable information in your market, and then add your personality and unique voice when you summarize and introduce the links.

Most of us love to consume great content, but we don’t all have the time or patience to do the legwork and look for the best content. This is where your curation skills provide value for your audience.

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin have done this with enormous success. The two have taken their passion for the news and turned it into a brilliant business.

They publish a daily curated email called theSkimm, and they have built an email list of more than 1.5 million subscribers.

To craft an effective curation newsletter, you will need to:

  • Add your unique voice to the newsletter.
  • Choose an overarching theme but cover several topics.
  • Publish the archives to your website and encourage sharing.

As an effective piece of content and audience-building tool, a curation newsletter has been proven time and time again to be a component of a winning content marketing strategy.

Plus, you now have an excuse for endlessly browsing the web — you’re curating!

3. Summarize and highlight your content

What if your business already produces a ton of valuable, useful, and remarkable content each week?

If so, producing another piece of unique content may not be necessary.

This doesn’t mean you should overlook starting a newsletter. It simply means you have an opportunity to focus your time and resources on increasing the value of the content you have already crafted — you do this with a summary newsletter.

A summary newsletter specifically showcases the best and most valuable content your business has created throughout the previous week.

Sean D’Souza at Psychotactics writes my favorite example of this type of newsletter.

Sean writes twice each week and uses his newsletter to showcase his latest article or podcast episode, a product offering, a list of his top-selling products, and free resources. He uses a template for each newsletter, which makes it easier to produce.

To craft an effective summary newsletter, you will need to:

  • Produce a steady stream of valuable and useful content.
  • Have products or services to promote and showcase.
  • Design a template and use a consistent layout.

Summary newsletters don’t typically have a lot of space for you to show your personality, but they are an effective way to regularly update your audience.

Make your choice and go deep with your subscribers

No matter what your content strategy or schedule looks like right now, you’ll benefit from putting an effective email newsletter in place and consistently staying in touch with your subscribers.

You can start today by committing to write a unique piece of content every week, curate the highlights from your industry, or simply summarize the content you have created during the past week.

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Action Content: Turn Fans into Customers [Plus a Free Bonus for You]

4 Essential Content Types - Action Content

This article is part of our series on the 4 Essential Types of Content Every Marketing Strategy Needs. Make sure to get your special free bonus at the end of the article.

So far, we’ve covered Attraction, Authority, and Affinity content. Now it’s time to turn your fans into customers with Action content.

And this is where all the work you’ve done as a content marketer starts translating into revenue for yourself, your clients, or your organization.

The good news is that Action content is probably the easiest type of content to understand. But the bad news is that it can also be some of the most difficult to produce.

We’ll dig into the reasons why shortly, but since we are in the habit of defining each term before we get started, let’s do that here for Action content:

Action content is content designed to get somebody to take an action.

How about that for easy?

The marriage of copywriting and content marketing

Content marketing is a new kid on the block in some ways, surging in popularity in the last five years.

In other ways, content marketing has been paired with advertising for quite some time. Take John Deere’s 118-year-old magazine, The Furrow, as an example.

The Michelin Guide, first published in 1900, is another great example of classic content marketing.

However, what I’m talking about here is the marriage between copywriting and content marketing.

A marriage between copywriting and content marketing helps you attract attention, increase engagement, and then ultimately, persuade someone to take action.

Types of actions

When you create content, you should have an action in mind that you’d like the reader to take. Actions could include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Asking your readers to comment on a blog post
  • Asking your readers to share an article or podcast
  • Asking people to participate in a poll or survey
  • Encouraging people to download a free video training course
  • Persuading people to subscribe to your email newsletter
  • Convincing people to follow you on social media
  • Enticing people to hire you
  • Getting people to buy your product

Naturally, you’ll want to start off with small requests. Get people used to taking your advice and following your instructions.

You first want people to say, “Hey, I want to pay attention to this person (or this company, or this brand) because it’s really relevant to my current challenge and the journey I’m on.”

You get people to warm up to you and trust you — step by step — until the sale, and then the repeat sale or the recurring sale.

Let’s look at some successful pieces of Action content.

Examples of Action content

The most obvious piece of Action content you will create is promotional — sales copy that you publish and run for the duration of the offer. After the sale is over, we recommend you remove the post from your site.

Action content also includes landing pages, like this one on content marketing that encourages visitors to register for Copyblogger’s content library.

In addition to those two cases, your best content will combine all four types of “A” content. Here’s a stellar example: What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Copywriting?

What makes it so great?

  • It’s useful. The headline suggests you are about to learn something important. The question-style headline also helps attract attention. People wonder whether or not they do indeed know the answer. They think, “This might be too important to miss.”
  • It’s authoritative. Sonia Simone’s years of working in the copywriting and content marketing world turned what could have been a shallow answer into an extended clinic in effective writing.
  • It takes a stand. The content exposes people to one of our core philosophies at Copyblogger: Really good content is unsurpassed at building rapport, delivering a sales message without feeling “salesy,” and getting potential customers to stick around.
  • It’s laced with action. You might not see it at first blush, but this piece of content motivates readers to check out the educational resources Copyblogger has to offer — from the My.Copyblogger free membership site to the paid offers like Authority and Content Marketing Certification.

The success of this content wasn’t accidental. There was a plan: the content primes people for when we actually do make an offer.

How to write Action content

Writing something interesting to fill space and keep people reading won’t cut it here.

You need to pair your content with a business goal.

That’s not as complicated as it might seem, because all you have to do is ask yourself this simple question before you write each piece of content:

What is the action I want my audience to take?

Now, getting people to actually take that action requires some skill. Like I said above, this is the hardest type of content to master. It takes time to learn copywriting skills, and it also takes time to master them.

The following resources can help you:

Once you’ve worked through that list, the next best thing you can do is to practice. Write. Then write some more.

And on that note, let me close with a little encouragement.

Keep your chin up

When I first got into copywriting, I threw myself into it whole hog.

I devoured every book I could get my hands on. Tore through successful promotional pieces. Listened to a legion of cassette tapes on the art of direct response copywriting, human psychology, and negotiations — yeah, this was way before podcasts. Wrote a mountain of sales letters, emails, and text ads (and then watched mentors tear them apart).

This went on for years. I thought I knew my stuff. However, it wasn’t until about Year Five when things clicked … when I turned the corner and all that head knowledge became heart knowledge.

The moral of this short story is that if I can learn how to write Action content, so can you. But it’s going to take time. Don’t expect too much of yourself too soon. Just start learning, publishing content, measuring results, adjusting, asking for feedback, and so on.

You can do it.

Get your free ebook: 4 Essential Types of Content Every Marketing Strategy Needs

Build a content strategy based on the four content types in this series! Get your free ebook, 4 Essential Types of Content Every Marketing Strategy Needs.


Click to get the free ebook

Over to you …

What’s your favorite example of Action content?

Drop us a note in the comments section below to share your thoughts.

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Break the Cycle of Content Marketing Addiction: Turn Regular Content Into Extraordinary Success


“Our content marketing success is not defined by the height of our peaks…it’s defined by the depth of our valleys.” – Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis the author of “Brandscaping: Unleashing the Power of Partnerships” has such an infectious energy that it is impossible not to sit up and listen when he is speaking. Last week, I had the pleasure of sitting front and center for Andrew’s presentation at Content Marketing World. Sadly, none of the Muppets from his previous work made a cameo, but this was by far one of my favorite sessions at the content rich conference.

According to Andrew, companies need to start rethinking the way that they “do” content marketing. This means breaking the cycle of content marketing addiction that plagues many of today’s marketers.

What is Content Marketing Addiction?

As content marketers, we are addicts. We’re addicted to the spikes in views and shares our content gets, and are always chasing the next high (spike). According to Andrew, the cycle of content marketing addiction is made up of four phases:

  • Desire: You’ve just published a new piece of content marketing and have experienced a spike.
  • Craving: You incessantly refresh your analytics looking for an even bigger spike.
  • Rush: The content is performing so well that you capture the data and share it with everyone you know.
    Crash: There has been a dip in performance, time to chase that next content marketing high.

It’s time for an intervention…

What Does Chasing the Content High Look Like?

Andrew provided the example of WestJet, a Canadian regional airline. WestJet’s YouTube channel shows years of effort put into creating videos for their audience and chasing their “next high”. They pumped out videos consistently with varying results.

However, in 2014, they struck gold with their video WestJet Christmas Miracle: real-time giving. In this video, WestJet created a kiosk that asked departing passengers what they wanted from Christmas. Then, their team frantically searched high and low for the requested gifts while passengers were en route and surprised them upon their arrival at their final destination.

What was the impact?

  • The video was the #1 trending topic globally after launch.
  • 1m twitter impressions in 1 month.
  • There were more than 35 million video views in one month.
  • The video was featured in 1600 media stories.
  • Bookings were up 77% year over year and revenue was up 86%.

After the success of this video, WestJet tried their hand at some other miracle themed videos (chasing the high they received from their first major success) that performed well, but did not have nearly the impact of their initial Christmas miracle campaign.

What can companies like WestJet do to adapt their strategy to deliver longer-term success?

Do You Know Your Content Distribution Model?

CMI Content Marketing Framework

Based on the steps of the CMI Content Marketing Framework, there are 7 steps to successful content marketing. However, many marketers get stuck in a content marketing cycle that dismisses process, conversations and measurement completely.

Content amplification is an essential step in the success of any content marketing program, but even with the best intentions, distribution can in execution appear to be more of a spewing of content, versus an actual, measureable distribution strategy.

An Enhanced Model For Better Content Distribution

Trip Advisor is a company that Andrew praised for their ability to focus on getting the most out of a content marketing campaign and recognizing where and when to push the content to the next phase.

Social momentum is defined as growing the quantity of consumption for a piece of content as a product of its strategic distribution over time. Below is a model similar to the one that trip advisor follows that takes queues from the plateaus of content to move onto the next phase:

Social Momentum Curve

When you leverage the momentum curve you end up with consistent growth.

Momentum delivers social proof. People assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.
As a consumer, you’re more like to consume and share content that others have consumed and shared. This forces us to understand the nuances of our audience and their social habits.

Ask yourself:

  • When is my content consumed?
  • How is my content consumed?
  • Is my content consumed?

4 Secrets to Building Social Momentum

Secret #1 – Leverage Your Half-Life (one channel at a time)
Half-life is the time taken for the audience’s interest in your content to fall to half of its peak value. When it gets to the slow point that is when you want to push it to the next level. 

Secret #2 – Harness the Waterfall Effect
The phenomenon that all mainstream media stories can be traced upstream to smaller, more accessible sources in a predictable pattern. Do your research to determine how to pitch. Start upstream and build relationships with the people who influence your influencers.

Secret #3 – Remove Friction
Really think about what you put in front of consumers and what they have to do to consume your content. When we tweet just a headline and a link they have to go through a lot of hoops to access your content. Stop worrying about your CTR’s. It’s not helping you, or your audience.

Secret #4 – Buy Ads
For every dollar spent on creating content spend $ 2 on distributing and promoting it. As marketers, we need to find new audiences to share our content with so they can be educated and inspired to purchase. What if we introduced a new audience to every piece of content we create?

Take The First Step & Break the Cycle

Andrew Davis took a complex problem that many marketers face, and broke it down into actionable and relatable steps. It doesn’t matter if you have a small or large team; companies of all sizes need to be taking steps toward truly getting the most out of content marketing programs by breaking the cycle of addiction.

What advice from Andrew was the most surprising and helpful as you sit and assess your own content marketing distribution strategy?




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It’s Your Turn: Now Accepting Community Speaker Pitches for MozCon 2015

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

Yep, it’s that time of year, friends. Time to submit your online marketing talk pitch for MozCon 2015. I’m super excited this year as we’ll have 6 community speaker slots! That’s right—you all are so amazing that we want to see more from you.

The basic details:

  • To submit, just fill out the form below.
  • Talks must be about online marketing and are only 15 minutes in length.
  • Submissions close on Sunday, April 12 at 5pm PDT.
  • Final decisions are final and will be made in late April.
  • All presentations must adhere to the MozCon Code of Conduct.
  • You must attend MozCon in person, July 13-15 in Seattle.

If you are selected, you will get the following:

  • 15 minutes on the MozCon stage to share with our audience, plus 5 minutes of Q&A.
  • A free ticket to MozCon. (If you already purchased yours, we’ll either refund or transfer the ticket to someone else.)
  • Four nights of lodging covered by us at our partner hotel.
  • A reimbursement for your travel (flight, train, car, etc.), up to $ 500 domestic and $ 750 international.
  • A free ticket for you to give to anyone you would like and a code for $ 300 off another ticket.
  • An invitation for you and your significant other to join us for the speakers’ dinner.

We work with you!

Pitching for a community speaker slot can feel intimidating. A lot of times, our ideas feel like an old hat and done a million times before. (When I say “our” here, I mean “mine.”)

At MozCon, we work with every single speaker to ensure your presentation is the best it can be. Myself and Matt Roney dedicate ourselves to helping you. Seriously, you get our personal cell phone numbers. Don’t get me wrong—you do the heavy lifting and the incredible work. But we set up calls, review sessions, and even take you up on the stage pre-MozCon to ensure that you feel awesome about your talk.

We’re happy to help, including:

  • Calls to discuss and refine your topic.
  • Assistance honing topic title and description.
  • Reviews of outlines and drafts (as many as you want!).
  • Best practices and guidance for slide decks, specifically for our stage.
  • A comprehensive, step-by-step guide for show flow.
  • Serving as an audience for practicing your talk.
  • Reviewing your final deck.
  • Sunday night pre-MozCon tour of the stage to meet our A/V crew, see your presentation on the screens, and test the clicker.
  • A dedicated crew to make your A/V outstanding.
  • Anything else we can do to make you successful.

Most of the above are required as part of the speaker process, so even those of you who don’t always ask for help (again, talking about myself here), will be sure to get it. We want you to know that anyone, regardless of experience or level of knowledge, can submit and present a great talk at MozCon. One of our past community speakers Zeph Snapp wrote a great post about his experiences with our process and at the show.

For great proposals:

  • Make sure to check out the confirmed MozCon 2015 topics from our other speakers so you don’t overlap.
  • Read about what makes a great pitch.
  • For extra jazz, include links to videos of you doing public speaking and your slide deck work in the optional fields.
  • Follow the guidelines. Yes, the word counts are limited on purpose. Do not submit links to Google Docs, etc. for more information. Tricky submissions will be disqualified.

While I can’t give direct pitch coaching—it would be unfair to others—I’m happy to answer your questions in the comments.

Submissions are reviewed by a selection committee at Moz, so multiple people look at and give their opinions on each pitch. The first run-through looks at pitches without speaker information attached to them in order to give an unbiased look at topics. Around 50% of pitches are weeded out here. The second run-through includes speaker bio information in order to get a more holistic view of the speaker and what your talk might be like in front of 1,400 people.

Everyone who submits a community speaker pitch will be informed either way. If your submission doesn’t make it and you’re wondering why, we can talk further on email as there’s always next year.

Finally, a big thank you to our wonderful community speakers from past MozCons including Stephanie BeadellMark TraphagenZeph SnappJustin Briggs, Darren Shaw, Dana Lookadoo, Fabio Ricotta, Jeff McRitchie, Sha Menz, Mike Arnesen, A. Litsa, and Kelsey Libert, who’ve all been so amazing.

Still need to confirm you’ll join us?

Buy your ticket!

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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Focus on These 4 Steps to Harness the Addictive Power of Email (And Turn Your Traffic Into Business)

social women standing in line for a sale

Are you working your butt off to run your business?

But feeling you’re not making enough progress?

You’re building a social following, slaving over weekly blog posts, and managing a heavy client load. Perhaps you’d also love to develop digital products or write a book. But it’s difficult to find the time when you juggle so many demands, right?

Building a thriving online business may often feel like an insurmountable task.

But when you learn the right way to apply the addictive power of email, you’ll possess a dynamite business tool.

A laser-sharp focus on growing and engaging your email list will help you turn casual blog readers into repeat visitors. Sound good?

Here are four steps to make email an integral part of your online business.

Step 1: Hook readers with your voice

You know the concept of a “bribe,” don’t you?

A “bribe” is an incentive for subscribers to join your list.

A report or ebook is the most commonly used incentive, but how many free ebooks have you downloaded that you still haven’t read?

Ebooks are now so common that their value has rapidly diminished. Have you seen how many Kindle books can be bought for the price of a Starbucks coffee?

What’s more, an ebook isn’t addictive. An ebook won’t build long-term connections with readers because it doesn’t invite them to come back. One ebook rarely gets readers hooked on your voice.

So, how do you hook readers instead?

Your first option is to build a content library. Once you have a content library, you can give readers the option of registering to join your library, rather than subscribing to your newsletter.

To create your library, consider sprucing up a series of blog posts and turning them into ebooks or an exclusive series of video tutorials. When you use the Rainmaker Platform to set up your library, the registration process for visitors is simple.

To see how this works, you can register for Copyblogger’s free ebook library, which includes ebooks on copywriting, content marketing, landing pages, and more.

Your second option for an addictive bribe is a short e-course. In its simplest form, an e-course drip-feeds tips by email to your subscribers.

Rather than “hearing” your voice only once a week when you send your blog update, your e-course allows you to email new subscribers frequently, so you can turn cold connections into warm friends.

Creating an e-course is not as difficult as you might think:

  • Brainstorm at least 30 simple tips around a problem your readers struggle with
  • Pick your favorite 10 to 20 tips — the best tips are easy to implement and solve common problems
  • Write a short email for each tip
  • Consider increasing the appeal of your e-course by including one or two free downloadable guides (you can re-use an old ebook!)
  • Create an enticing name for your e-course

Don’t be afraid to schedule your emails frequently. When readers join your course, they’re eager to learn from you. New voices are exciting, so this is your chance to get readers hooked.

For example, if you join my 16-part snackable writing course for busy people, you’ll receive ultra-short emails with writing tips you can implement instantly.

What value can you give your readers so they look forward to your emails? And so they actually email you if they happen to miss one or two installments?

Step 2: Invite blog readers to become fans

How do you get more casual blog readers to join your list so you gain opportunities to pitch and sell your services or products?

Before polishing your sign-up forms, consider these two traffic sources:

  • Traffic you control: This is traffic from, for instance, a link in an author bio of a guest post or from a SlideShare presentation you’ve made; you can control where web page readers land. Rather than sending them to your home page, create a dedicated landing page to increase your conversion rates.
  • Other traffic: You can’t always control where readers land — search or social traffic can arrive anywhere on your site. You can add prominent sign-up forms on your home and about pages, at the top of your blog posts and archive pages, and in your sidebar. For example, Buffer recently doubled their email signups by offering more options to join their newsletter (without popups!).

A common mistake when enticing readers to join your list is to promote it solely with features like a free ebook or e-course. Readers are more interested in the benefits of your information.

The titles of Copyblogger’s ebooks, for instance, highlight benefits like:

  • Landing Pages: How to Turn Traffic into Money
  • Content Marketing: How to Build an Audience that Builds Your Business
  • How to Create Content That Converts

And the landing page for my 16-part snackable e-course promises you these benefits:

  • Learn simple persuasion tricks — such as the power of the subtle nod
  • Discover how to cure sentence bloat and avoid irritating your readers
  • Write more seductive content and win more business

Readers will join your list and become fans when you demonstrate how you will make their lives better.

Step 3: Review your traffic sources

Website traffic doesn’t fuel your business. Most traffic bounces off your website without ever returning.

As you review your list-building activities, you must understand which traffic turns into email subscribers.

If you haven’t done so already, set up a goal in Google Analytics so you can see which traffic converts best. This is how:

  • Go to “Admin” at the top of your Google Analytics dashboard
  • Under the “View” section, select “Goals”
  • Click the red “New goal” button
  • Select “Custom,” click “Next step,” give your goal a name (e.g., “course” or “library registration”), and select your type of goal — in most cases this is a destination
  • Click “Next step” and enter the URL people reach once they’ve completed the conversion — it’s usually a “thank you” page that appears after they’ve signed up for your newsletter or free trial, or after they’ve purchased your product
  • Click “Create goal”

Once you’ve set up your goals, you can start evaluating your traffic sources:

  • Which guest posts generate the most subscribers?
  • How do conversions from social media traffic compare to conversions from guest posts?
  • Which social media activity generates the most subscribers?
  • How well does search engine traffic convert?
  • Which landing page converts the best?

To strengthen your ability to grow your list, you must understand which of your activities work and which don’t.

Step 4: Hook readers on you

Inboxes are bursting under the weight of too many emails. Nobody wants yet another email, another newsletter, another update.

How can you stand out so readers look forward to your emails? Follow these essential email writing tips:

  • Write in a conversational tone, so readers feel your email is personal
  • Consider adding tidbits about yourself, so readers get to know you
  • Be concise; poorly edited emails waste readers’ time
  • Always add value and be helpful

Stop thinking about readers as subscribers, and write as if you’re emailing one friend.

Here’s what to do next

Ready to seriously grow your email list?

Block 45 minutes in your writing journal this week to:

  1. Spend 15 minutes generating ideas to grow your list
  2. Spend 15 minutes brainstorming ideas to engage your list
  3. Make two or three top ideas your first priorities
  4. Block time on your calendar to execute these tasks

A responsive audience is the foundation of a successful business, so the best way to build this asset is to grow your email list and engage your subscribers.

The truth about building a thriving business

The size of your list is not as important as the enthusiasm and engagement levels of your readers.

Do they know you? Do they trust you? Do they look out for your next email? Do they miss you when you’re on vacation?

When you treat your email subscribers like good friends, you can build your own tribe and community with those special relationships.

How do you develop relationships with your readers?

What’s the most addictive offer you present to your audience?

Let me know over on Google+

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Paul Townsend.

About the Author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent copywriter and marketer. She’s on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring business blogs sparkle. Get her free 16-Part Snackable Writing Course for Busy People and learn how to enchant your readers and win more business.

The post Focus on These 4 Steps to Harness the Addictive Power of Email (And Turn Your Traffic Into Business) appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Use Images (Not Just Words) to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers

woman taking iPhone photo

If you have kids — or if you’ve ever been around kids — you’ve heard the sound before.

It’s a noise that’s somewhere between the cry of a lost wolf cub and the wail of a nearby car alarm. It’s one of the most annoying sounds you’ll ever hear.

It’s the ear-piercing cry of a child who has been over-stimulated.

The angelic child becomes a hot mess of whiny, clingy neediness.

If you’re the adult in charge and you manage to keep a cool head, you say something like, “Calm down. I don’t understand what you need. Use your words.”

And sometimes it works. It stops children long enough to engage their brains rather than just their emotions, and they are able to communicate what they need.

As consumers of information online, we’re a little like that over-stimulated child.

But as producers of online content, one of the worst things we can do is throw more words at our readers. Because the best way to reach an over-stimulated population is to offer something different. How do we do that?

I propose you offer an image.

We are visual people

More than half the surface of the brain is reserved for processing visual information.

With that much brain power behind understanding visuals, it makes sense to harness the power of images to communicate our messages.

Besides, we all know we’re drowning in words.

So. Much. Content.

Not. Enough. Time.

Fortunately, images are processed in a different part of our brains than words. Using them gives the over-stimulated, word-crunching parts of our brains a break. And images will help your carefully crafted words attract and hold attention and have more impact.

Harness the power of images

We’re living in an amazing time for people with the courage to learn new skills online. There are tools and resources available to all of us — many of them free — that would have been unimaginable 10 years ago.

Let’s review some of our options when it comes to image creation, starting with the pure DIY track.

Make your own images

Most of us are walking around with powerful cameras right on our phones.

You may feel like you’re not a competent photographer, but consistently using a service like Instagram can increase your confidence.

Instagram’s square format forces you to focus on the most important elements in your viewfinder, and the easy-to-apply effects make even ordinary photos more interesting.

A content marketing bonus? You can set up your account so it posts to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all at once. That’s what I call social media efficiency.

When looking for images to use in your blog posts and email marketing, think beyond images with people. Focus on showing the telling details instead.

For example, zoom in on the tools you use to do your work, whether they’re machines, computers, paintbrushes, or a big stack of books. Let viewers into your world by sharing close-ups from your environment.

Enlist stock photos

Stock photo sites are pretty amazing. I still remember the days when stock photo catalogs would arrive at the design studio where I worked in the early days of my career. They were bulky, unwieldy, and printed on paper. (Can you imagine?)

Plus, those stock photos each cost several hundred dollars, and the exact prices depended on how you would use the images. Once you received an image, which came in slide form, you had to pay to have it scanned and converted so you could use it in print.

Now, we have access to thousands of searchable, inexpensive stock images on sites such as:

And there are plenty of free stock image sites, too. Here are a few of my favorites:

To use photos from these sites for business purposes, be sure to review and respect any licenses associated with the images. And steer clear of the obvious, overused images and lame visual clichés.

Modify images with easy-to-use online tools

Unless you purchase exclusive rights to a stock image, you won’t be the only person using it.

The solution? Modify the image — add a filter, crop it creatively, or add text to it. My favorite sites for editing images are:

Remember, you want your image to be easy to “read” visually. Use filters that enhance, not obliterate, the original image.

If you decide to add text, use a clear, high-contrast font so the message can be read and understood in a single glance.

Dig into Flickr’s Creative Commons

Flickr has a deep well of images by photographers who’ve agreed to share their photos on a Creative Commons license. You’ll notice you see many Flickr images on Copyblogger. They take longer to find, but if you take the time they often bring a creativity that can be hard to find on the stock sites.

Searching Flickr by “Creative Commons” allows you to look through photos with a variety of licenses that allow you to share, adapt, or even use for commercial purposes. Be sure you understand what rights you have — and don’t have — for a given image. The broadest license is “Attribution Only,” which needs only credit and a link to the creator.

Keep in mind that it it takes time to find the great photos in the sea of amateur images. Copyblogger likes to build relationships with exceptional photographers on Flickr, in some cases even those who retain copyright of their work. The photographer gets a wider audience, and Copyblogger gets fantastic images. It’s a win-win.

Lead with an image

Our brains also process images faster than words.

Way faster.

Visual information is processed 60,000 times faster than text.

Images at the top of blog posts work so well because they make an immediate impact and open the door to the rest of the information you present.

When you choose your image carefully, it can add shades of meaning to your content.

Look for images beyond typical stock photo fare. Avoid overly posed and polished images that feature professional models. Aim to find images that feature everyday people.

Avoid the obvious, and go for subtlety.

Get radical: consider only using images

Sometimes, an image can stand alone– whether it’s on your blog or social media.

Take, for example, this popular infographic here on Copyblogger: 11 Essential Ingredients Every Blog Post Needs.

It’s strongly visual content (paired, of course, with some well-chosen words), and as of this writing it has been shared more than 3,000 times on Twitter.

If you want to stretch this idea a bit, video is another format for sharing compelling content.

Think outside the word box

The next time you need a direct line to the inside of your prospects’ brains, consider an image.

If you’d like to chat more about how to use images to communicate your message, click over to Google+, and we’ll compare notes there.

Editor’s Note: If you are excited to learn more about how incorporating images increases the impact of your blog posts, we recommend you read this post by Alex Turnbull next: The 8 Types of Images That Increase the Psychological Impact of Your Content.

Image via Death to the Stock Photo.

About the Author: Pamela Wilson founded Big Brand System to empower small business owners with marketing and design information that gives their businesses an edge. Want to learn more about using images to communicate? Sign up for the free 12 Days of Visual Buzz series here.

The post Use Images (Not Just Words) to Turn Your Distracted Visitors into Engaged Readers appeared first on Copyblogger.

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