5 Free Ways to Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn

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Do you want to build your visibility on LinkedIn? Wondering which LinkedIn features can help? LinkedIn can help you build a professional presence that showcases your work to the people you most want to connect with. In this article, you’ll discover five free ways to help you build a personal brand on LinkedIn. #1: Optimize […]

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– Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

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The 5 Social Media Customer Service Stats You Must Know

The 5 Social Media Customer Service Stats You Must Know

In partnership with Edison, I did a lot of research into the science of complaint when working on my new book, Hug Your Haters.

One of the most important thrusts of that research is around customer expectations. When a customer complains, what do they expect from a brand…and when?

The answers are important, because they help dictate operations policies, staffing, software, and customer retention.

This week, I created a brand-new presentation of this key data. It’s available on Slideshare right now. I encourage you to read and download, as it’s full of interesting points:

5 Social Media Customer Service Stats You Must Know

Here are the five most important findings (although there are a lot more in the research, and in Hug Your Haters)

1. One-third of all customer complaints are never answered, most of them are in social (highlight to tweet)

2. Answering a complaint increases customer advocacy by as much as 25% (highlight to tweet)

3. Not answering a complaint decreases customer advocacy by as much as 50% (highlight to tweet)

4. Forty percent of customers who complain in social expect a response within one hour (highlight to tweet)

5. Sixty-three percent of consumers are satisfied with response time in social media (highlight to tweet)

Several other great stats in the presentation AND three key tips to getting faster in your own company or organization.

Would love your comments and feedback.

Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting

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The 7 Things Writers Need to Make a Living

classic traits of well-paid writers

If you’re a writer, you might have heard this most of your life:

People don’t make a living writing. You should find something practical to do with your life.

Smart, capable writers grimly pass around war stories on Facebook. Penny-a-word assignments, clients who don’t pay, disdain for our craft, and disrespect for our profession.

And yet, look around at this digital world so many of us spend our lives in — it’s made of words. The technology to produce digital content exists because we create words worth sharing.

Text, video, audio — it all needs great writing if it’s going to be worth spending our time on.

If writing is your profession and your passion, you can accept crap assignments for crap money and crap treatment.

Or, you can choose something better. Because there is something better.

In the time I’ve been writing professionally, I’ve noticed some necessary traits, abilities, and strengths that make the difference between life as a well-paid writer and life as someone who likes to write but can’t seem to get paid for it.

Here are seven of the most important.

#1: Love

This might seem squishy, but if you’re meant to be a writer, you know what I mean.

There is no substitute for the love of writing. For the passion of getting the words right: the head-scratching and the pacing around the house and the endless drafts that aren’t quite right yet.

If you don’t love language and your topic and the act of putting words together, none of the rest of this really means anything.

I could have just as easily used Compulsion, Obsession, or Bullheadedness for this section. Whichever word you choose, it’s about refusing to settle for weak writing, because the words matter.

#2: An attitude of service

Writing for self-expression can be high art, pursued for the sake of your own experience of truth and beauty.

As soon as money changes hands, though, the audience — the reader, listener, or viewer — becomes the focus.

Professional writers work from an attitude of serving their audiences. Serving them with truthful, beautiful words, yes. But also with language that meets their needs, language that clarifies rather than prettifies.

Novelists, copywriters, and content marketers all live in service to our audiences. No matter how clever or perfectly poetic we may find a phrase, if it doesn’t serve the audience, it goes.

#3: Confidence

It’s always struck me as odd that many of the most capable writers are also some of the most insecure.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. Confidence comes from putting the work in to become a genuinely authoritative expert. It comes from research, craftsmanship, and seeing the difference you make to your audience.

Serious craftspeople are humble and proud at the same time.

The pride and confidence come from hours of deliberate practice — the kind of work that expands your abilities and challenges you to grow. The humility comes from the knowledge that a true pro is always improving, expanding, and refining.

#4: Training

Many writers imagine that if you have a good writing voice and a strong opinion about the serial comma, you’re qualified to work as a professional copywriter.

Not so fast.

Great copywriters and content marketers are fine wordsmiths, but they’re also strategists. They understand what types of content work to attract attention, to stand out amid the sea of content clutter, to motivate buying behavior, and to help the audience make the journey from interested bystander to loyal customer.

Solid content and copywriting strategy come from training (and practice). You can get a lot of that training right here at Copyblogger, of course.

And for writers who are serious about professionalism, we have a course designed to train you about the craft of professional content creation. (The “art” is up to your talent and abilities.)

#5: Discipline

You may be a brilliant wordsmith and master strategist, but if you don’t devote yourself to the butt-in-chair time needed to produce a significant quantity of work, you won’t get where you want to go.

To a great degree, discipline is a set of habits that can be cultivated. As a writer, you can string together rituals, create the right work environment, and adopt the behaviors of productive writers.

As a working writer, you also need to throw in a set of habits that will ensure that you meet your deadlines, keep clients updated, and invoice your clients promptly.

If you care enough, you’ll do it. The habits can be difficult to put into place, but fortunately, once they’re in place, they tend to keep you on the right track. (That’s the difference between habits and will power.)

#6: The willingness to become a marketer

There is some money in writing fiction. (For the lucky few, there’s a great deal of money. Emphasis on few.)

There’s also still a little bit of money in journalism and feature writing, especially if you have excellent contacts.

But for the most part, if you want to make a living as a writer, the fastest, most enjoyable way to do that is to write content for businesses that want to find more customers.

It’s interesting, lucrative, very much in demand, and it will get you researching and investigating as many different topics as you like.

You might think that this kind of writing is boring to do. Far from it. Creating really good content (as opposed to the mass of junk that makes up 95 percent of web copy) will call on your skills as a storyteller, investigator, wordsmith, and historian.

A well-qualified content marketer needs all the skills of a great feature or fiction writer — combined with solid marketing strategy.

You also, of course, need to get comfortable marketing yourself. This can be surprisingly tough even for writers who create superb marketing for their clients.

“Create a bunch of content and hope someone wants to do business with you” won’t work for your writing business any more than it will for your clients’. You need to apply the same strategies and frameworks to your own business that you do to theirs.

If this doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t let that worry you. It doesn’t come naturally to a lot of good writers. But it’s something that’s well within your ability to learn. And we have some resources that can help.

#7: Support

One of the tough things about living as a professional writer is that the path you walk is one you make yourself.

There’s no one to tell you which direction to go, no one to give you sign posts along the way, and no one to outline your day for you and tell you where you need to be and when.

That’s also one of the fantastic things about living as a professional writer. But sometimes Fantastic is also Difficult.

Writing is a lonely business. And it can be just a little lonelier when you don’t have colleagues to bounce questions off of or share your gripes and triumphs with.

When you do find a community of writers, though, it’s a lovely thing. They’re some of the most funny, smart, and quirky people you’ll ever meet. And it just feels good to hang out with people who get you.

(Because your friends and family actually do think you’re sort of a weirdo.)

Where to find professional writers and content marketers

If you need a talented, passionate, skilled writer with terrific knowledge of marketing strategy, our Copyblogger Certified Content Marketers are ready to help with your projects.

You can find a complete list of them here: Certified Content Marketers.

Or, are you a writer who wants to become a professional content marketer?

For you, we’d recommend participating in our Certified Content Marketer training program. It’s usually closed, but we’ll reopen it soon for a short time to invite a new group of students inside.

We’d love to see you there. Add your email below and we’ll let you know when we’re enrolling a new group of writers.

Find out when our Certified Content Marketer training program reopens:

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on August 30, 2014.

The post The 7 Things Writers Need to Make a Living appeared first on Copyblogger.


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The WP Theme that’s winning over US Web Design Agencies

This is a sponsored post via Syndicate Ads.

When you’re running a web design agency or digital media company, whether you’re a freelancer, a marketer, working for big businesses or nonprofit organizations, finding the perfect theme is imperative to running your business efficiently.

If you consider how you can maximize productivity, revenues and capability, it actually makes sense to limit the amount of themes you use. Why? Long story short, an intuitive theme that consistently stays on par with industry standards and provides a comprehensive collection of features is going to save you and your clients a lot of time and money.

One Theme To End All Themes

Having been a startup not so long ago, we wanted to create a WordPress theme that would give design agencies and freelancers the flexibility to create stunning, unique websites for all of their clients. The thing is, most of these agencies have clients from sectors across the board. It’s rare to find an agency that only caters to one type of industry, so we knew that we needed to build the perfect solution for designers looking for one theme that could be ‘everything’. Thus began our obsessive endeavour to keep creating new templates and features that would provide a wide scope of customizability.

After our initial production phase, we wanted to find out exactly how Jupiter measured up in helping web design agencies increase their productivity, revenues and capability. So we went straight to the source. We conducted a series of interviews with web design and digital marketing agencies across the United States to get a pulse check on how well Jupiter was fulfilling their requirements. They all gave us invaluable insights into how using one WP theme has helped them to help their clients.

After the first round of interviews was finished, we sifted through pages and pages of their transcripts and found three common points made by all of Jupiter users regarding their experience using Jupiter:

Improved productivity means more time with current and prospective clients!

When you use different themes for different clients, just keeping up with the updates is time consuming. One interview was with New Yorker Micah Blumenthal, founder of CIX Design Agency, which works extensively with nonprofit organizations. During our discussion he was quick to mention how Jupiter helped to cut down on the time spent creating websites.

The WP Theme that’s winning over US Web Design Agencies

“I stumbled upon Jupiter a few years ago and as time went on I found myself almost exclusively working with Jupiter. Why? Well what I found in Jupiter was not only versatility, but early on I also found that you guys have the support! Maybe the biggest thing is that because I’m able to use Jupiter exclusively I don’t have to go to each site and learn the tricks and updates for each theme. I’ve boiled it down to one theme here the lay of the land is familiar to me. I reduced my own learning curve, which is a benefit to my clients and no small thing in the long-run. Everything updates the same behind the curtain which gives me more time to design and produce.”

The WP Theme that’s winning over US Web Design Agencies

Tom Weinkle, founder of Florida- based Florida- based Vortex Communications highlighted how using one theme allowed him to spend more time with his clients highlighting the ever-increase template base Jupiter offers:

“One aspect of all the templates Jupiter has is that it saves time figuring things out so instead of spending your creative energy doing programming, coding or playing with CSS, you can spend time with your client deciding how you want to present information to their audience. The other thing about themes is that building bootstrap and custom websites can add another 30% time and cost. Jupiter allows you and your client to hit the ground running.”

An SEO-friendly Theme is going to give me and my clients better results!

Web design agencies need to be able to provide a site that is fully optimized for search engines. As you already know, getting your website to rank well on Google is incredibly important in ensuring that you’re reaching as many potential visitors as possible.

Since Google has a comprehensive set of rules to follow, every web designer and marketer knows how important it is to have an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) friendly theme. Having this will allow you to construct a website that contains all of the elements that can fulfill SEO criteria.

The WP Theme that’s winning over US Web Design Agencies

Adam Binder, SEO guru and founder of New Jersey-based digital marketing agency, Creative Click Media, explained exactly how Jupiter helped his clients to improve their rankings by cutting page load speeds.

“Page load times are really important for SEO as Google continues to make the web, really, a great place. Google wants to make it easy for people on any device to access a website and they’ve gone through great lengths to make sure that websites that load fast are rewarded and that those which are running slowly are being penalized. Now the Jupiter Theme is fantastic out the box as far as speed. With the upgrade to Version 5 it got even better.”

Adam also emphasized what a benefit it was that Jupiter can embed YouTube videos, highlighting that YouTube is owned by Google and is the second largest search engine. Thus by offering the ability to embed these videos, Jupiter has helped to make his clients’ websites more visible.

The WP Theme that’s winning over US Web Design Agencies

He even shared the results of his client’s successes with us:

“We’ve seen a lot of success with clients from all different industries… getting those results for lots of our clients who have used the Jupiter theme so it’s been a really great boost to our business!”

“Our website has been one of the major successes; in just the year since we switched to the Jupiter Theme, our SEO has skyrocketed. Part of that is definitely due to the help we’ve gotten from the Theme—and it just looks great and I think people like it a lot!”

The WP Theme that’s winning over US Web Design Agencies

Curtis Hays, founder of Michigan-based Curtis Hays Consulting had this to add:

“Especially with the most recent update, speed has been a huge factor and I’ve seen across the board that most sites have dropped their load times—literally cut in half. That’s going to help improve rankings because speed is now a big factor in rankings. It’s going to keep the user on site, lower bounce rates—all of that data leads to conversions which is obviously the main goal.”

Do more for your clients in less time!

Curtis Hays was impressed with how quickly he could have a website up and running, allowing him to focus on other things:

“With a premium theme like Jupiter, we can get you up and running in under two months and that allows us to take advantage of a lot of opportunities!”

The Artbees Care service we offer with Jupiter also seemed to have an effect on improving capability for our users.

José Rosado, freelance web designer explains:

“A big time saver is Artbees Care services—any time I’ve had multiple client requests, I’ve been able to save a lot of time by giving certain parts of each project to the Artbees Care specialists—it’s like having my own personal backup team. I can always count on this care as well as constant updates made to the theme which streamlines the time it takes me to make sure all my client’s sites are updated!”

The WP Theme that’s winning over US Web Design Agencies

Colorado natives Kristen & Trent Blizzard of BlizzardPress explained how their productivity and profitability was boosted using just one theme:

“For us, Jupiter makes life more profitable. We are able to deliver modern sites with varied designs and high functionality for a reasonable cost to the client. We experience higher profitability thanks to the efficiency of using the same theme environment with versatile design tools. Even in a scenario where we know upfront we will be doing customizations to fit a complex client design – we use Jupiter.”

Micah Blumenthal also added that his capability has been increased with word of mouth:

“In the six years I’ve been doing this I’ve never had to go out and find work, I’ve been fortunate enough for work to find me and that’s primarily because people have seen the work that I do with the Jupiter and asked who did that which leads back to me.”

So far, so good. Now let’s see if we can do better.

While we feel gratified to know that Jupiter has been as asset to our users, we know there’s always room for improvement.

Marketing and web design industry standards are ever-changing at a fast pace and not only do we intend to stay on par with those trends, we will continue to expand the scope of functionality of our product and work to improve the user interface to make it as intuitive as possible. You ain’t seen nothing yet.


Onextrapixel – Web Design and Development Online Magazine

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10 Tried and True SEO Tactics That Will Pull You out of a Traffic Slump

seo pencil

We’ve all faced disappointing traffic numbers and even heart-stopping dives.

It happened to me recently on this website. Two years ago, I was blogging along as usual, when wham, my traffic dropped!

As it turns out, it was a random algorithm update that killed things for a week or two. Several tweaks later, I was back up to even higher numbers than before.

I understand that algorithms can change, audiences can leave, and a website can suffer from penalties.

But I’m also convinced that there’s no reason to settle for low traffic.

How can I be so confident? Because I faced it. I dealt with it. I recovered.

I’ve come up with 10 SEO tactics proven to boost traffic.

If you’re feeling skeptical right about now, I understand. I am sure plenty of SEO snake oil salesmen have tried to convince you that [insert some random weird hack here] could boost your SEO.

I don’t give advice that doesn’t work or hasn’t worked for me and my clients. These tactics actually work.

And here’s a quick comment before you dive into the tactics. I’ve intentionally avoided all the obvious stuff because you’d already have already tried that.

These techniques are relatively advanced. However, with the right skillset and a bit of patience, I know that you can master each technique and enjoy the boost in traffic. 

1. Infiltrate Google’s Knowledge Graph and the global knowledge base

Do you know where Google Knowledge Graph gets its content from?

Wikidata.

Wait, what the heck is Wikidata?

image09

Wikidata is a community-driven initiative that belongs to the Wikimedia organization. They own a bunch of Wiki sites serving information content in a variety of languages.

It’s easy to see that once you get into Wikidata, either as a company or as a reference, your business will benefit in terms of exposure and traffic. Plus, a link from any of the Wiki sites is worth its weight in gold.

Many organizations pull data from the Wiki sites. The most important of them all is Google.

The content that gets featured in the Google Knowledge Graph is from Wikidata.

Do you see now why it’s important?

Getting inside Wikidata seems easy on paper, but it isn’t. Here’s how you can get a free pass:

  • The first thing to do is to read and understand the guidelines.
  • The next step is to write an authoritative piece based on a primary keyword, organization, or individual in your niche. It must be factual and non-promotional.
  • Now create a website, page, or subdomain that defines the concept and contains comprehensive information, including all the pain points related to the keyword.  For example, if you are in the fashion industry, you can talk about fashion in general, the problems faced by manufacturers, the common pitfalls of using some equipment, the secret lives of fashion models, and so on.
  • Next, jump into the Wikidata community, and socialize. Don’t create a topic until you have contributed positively to the community and established your own personal vibe. If a new member jumps in and creates a topic, it could be flagged by the editors. You should try to create a topic that doesn’t already exist in the community.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you sell products related to the fashion industry, specifically industrial sewing machines. One of your top sellers is the Brother brand.

Here’s what you should do:

  • Use Google to check whether information on Brother sewing machines shows up in the knowledge graph. I checked. It doesn’t. There’s no knowledge graph for Brother sewing machines as of 8 June 2016.
  • Write an exhaustive piece on Brother sewing machines on your subdomain or the website you have specifically created for sharing knowledge.
  • Create a topic on Wikidata (for example: History, Evolution, Pros and Cons, and Current Status of Brother Sewing Machines) and choose a channel to publish your data on (any one of the Wiki properties; in my case, Wikipedia).
  • Write your statements, and link to appropriate references. You must link keywords and brands to public documents (use the documents hosted on Wiki sites), and one of your links or references must be to the site you created.

image01

Your page must be strong and backed by data. Fluffy or thin pages are deleted by the editors.

You can even add social media URLs to the reference pages. It would be a good idea to create a group discussion on LinkedIn related to the topic, and link it as a reference on your Wiki page.

In addition to this, you must go to each Wiki site and edit or contribute to topics that contain your keyword. Don’t forget to write an authoritative piece on your subdomain or website and link to it as a reference. For the example above, the keywords would be fashion, sewing, clothing, models, etc.

2. Get into Google News

News articles get pulled by Google on two SERPs—the traditional SERP you’re used to and the News section.

You may not have thought of Google News as a traffic source, but consider my point. It’s a traffic wellspring!

Check out this screen shot:

image05

To get into Google news requires perseverance, honest reporting, cutting-edge articles, and regular updates.

If you are up to it and want your website to show up on the Google News SERP, here’s what you should do:

  1. Start a “News” section on your blog/site.
    Update it regularly (1-2 newsy posts a day is a good practice).
  2. Publish authoritative, unique, original, and newsworthy content. For research, set up a Google Alert for keywords in your niche.
  3. Informational articles such as how-tos and guides do not qualify. Every post must be newsy.
  4. Do not publish aggregated content.
  5. Every news article you write must be authoritative.
  6. The byline of each post must be linked to the author’s profile, which should contain their contact information and links to their social media profiles.
  7. Follow the Google quality guidelines before starting your news section.
  8. You need to subscribe to a paid Google account to become a Google News Partner because you can’t get in with a free account. The best thing is to sign up for a Google Apps email account, available for as low as $ 5 per month (https://apps.google.com/pricing.html).
  9. Finally, start publishing, and enroll as a Google News Partner after building up sizeable content (at least 50 pages).

Yeah, it reads like a slow process, but it’s worth millions!

3. Register with Google Posts

Heard of Google Posts?

Let me rephrase.

Have you ever seen a carousel on Google SERPs? Something like the image below. Notice the section outlined in red:

image10

The posts contained in such carousels are Google Posts.

Google Posts isn’t commercially launched yet. There’s a waitlist, and you must get on the waitlist.

Google Posts allows verified and prominent individuals and organizations to create content (text, images, videos) on the fly and publish instantly. Once the posts are published, they will be visible on Google SERPs when a user searches for topics and keywords within that niche.

The hassle, of course, is that you can’t start using Google Posts immediately. If you are an established organization or a prominent individual, you should sign up and reap the benefits when it goes live.

4. Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) HTML/JS

AMP is a new coding standard, and the way it is shaping up, it seems that it will go on to become a global HTML coding best practice.

I highly recommend you research it and implement what you can.

Think of AMP HTML as regular HTML with some restrictions that reduce clunkiness and help generate reliability.

AMP HTML (and JS) increases the loading speed of your web pages, which is an extremely important factor. This protocol is on its way to become a huge ranking factor.

Google has already included it in its Search Console, and many web developers around the world are quickly adopting it.

Remember the time when Google made mobile-friendly design a ranking factor?

Developers were slow to pick up on it, and when their site rankings dropped, there was panic.

That’s why I encourage you to get started on AMP right away and to keep your site AMP-ready. Moreover, AMP will make your pages load faster, which will help you rank higher and attract more traffic.

5. Use the Skyscraper Technique

Did you know it was Brian Dean of Backlinko who coined the term Skyscraper Technique?

image04

Although it’s simple when you think of it, it requires some pretty intense work.

Does it work? Yes, it does. Sites with traditionally low traffic or in traffic slumps have experienced an uptick in traffic after using the technique.

image03

Here’s how you should exploit it:

First, simply research the top-shared content in your niche. You can use BuzzSumo or EpicBeat.

image07

Next, you should:

  • Select 2-3 top posts in your niche. These will serve as the basis for your research.
  • Write a better and more in-depth article (with a new title). You can do this by picking up the phone and interviewing appropriate experts, reading industry white papers, or checking out research reports. There are plenty of ways to improve upon what currently exists.
  • Market your article. Try to market it on the same channels and groups as the original article. I have no doubt that your article will be picked up and talked about.

Result: Traffic, shares, and more traffic.

6. Create an FAQ page in your niche

There are three things you must be aware of:

  1. Personal assistants, such as Siri, and voice search tools, such as Google Voice search, are getting smarter by the day. Google also recently unveiled the Google Assistant, an AI like Siri, at its I/O Conference.
  2. The number of people using their personal assistants to help them with their online search or scheduling tasks as well as the number of voice searchers are growing each day.
  3. Most voice searches or requests typically start with a question word (what, when, how, where, which, etc.).

One of the key takeaways from the Google I/O developer conference notes was that over 20% of the searches on the Google app on Android in the US were performed by voice.

I don’t have the stats for Siri, but if you put two and two together, it’s easy to infer that your SEO must be ready for voice search/voice assistants because its use will keep increasing over time.

How will you get your website ready for voice search?

By developing an FAQ page in your niche.

An FAQ page can easily leverage both the question word and the keyword/correlated keywords.

How will you collect data for your FAQ page? Here are some ideas:

  • Learn about the pain points faced by consumers in your niche. You can learn about these online (forums or social media) and by conducting a customer survey.
  • Visit government and non-profit websites where people complain about products and marketing tactics.
  • Check out Amazon and eBay for product complaints/nasty reviews (in your niche).
  • Buy an e-book that talks about the pros and cons of your niche.
  • Make a list of the questions that a lot of customers have in common.

Finally, take all this research and create a giant FAQ page that is neatly divided into categories.

Make each question shareable, and write detailed and helpful answers. Do this, and you’ll quickly get some traffic to your site.

7. Become an expert in your niche

Sounds like a tall order, right?

But it’s not as difficult as you think.

You can increase your website’s traffic by growing your personal brand. I spent about a decade cultivating my personal brand. I then used that personal brand to boost traffic and generate high-converting leads, creating several multi-million dollar businesses.

You can do the same. Here is how.

Start sharing your knowledge tactfully and helping others without giving away your business secrets.

First, register at Q&A sites such as Quora, Yahoo Answers, and WikiHow. Join LinkedIn groups, and reach out to other sites in your niche that could benefit from your guest authorship or input.

Start answering questions and helping users. Do not promote your business or link to your website.

If your answers are helpful, users will start requesting your help. When you see help requests coming in, it’s time to strike (in a good way, of course).

From this point on, help people, but link back to your article or site when you do so.

Followers and browsers will follow your link, and your site traffic will multiply like crazy.

Yahoo Answers, LinkedIn, and Quora are liberal with links, but WikiHow has a tough backlinking policy, so be careful. Whatever you do, be polite, and write factual helpful information.

8. Don’t spread yourself too thin

Many website owners do all the right things and still wonder why their traffic volume is static (or decreasing).

The answer could be that you may be doing too many of the right things.

There are tons of SEO and content marketing tips available on the web, and while reading as much as possible is a good thing, trying to do everything may prove to be counterproductive.

Content marketing is performed on social media and blogs, which are user-driven. Viewers expect the writer or poster to interact with them and follow up on their articles.

If you’re into excessive content marketing, you won’t have time to interact. You’ll also feel burnt out doing too many things at the same time.

My advice is to stick to three or four social media channels (Facebook and YouTube are important). Once your traffic and sales increase, you can consider hiring someone to handle other social channels.

9. Influencing the influencers

You may have heard that influencer marketing is dead, but I can guarantee you that if any influencer links to your post, a swarm of traffic will follow.

Now, you cannot overtly approach an influencer and request that person to promote your content. Why? Because the minute the influencer reads your first line, they’ll understand what you want. Honestly, it’s a turnoff.

Influencers receive hundreds of content promotion requests every month. They can spot one from a distance.

Here’s what you can do instead. Influence and motivate the influencer to share your content.

I’ll show you how you can attempt that with an example.

Let’s say I am targeting “men’s fashion” as my keyword phrase. I Googled “top blogs on men’s fashion.” There are plenty of meaty results:

image00

I visited one top blog, Off The Cuff, and found it was founded and owned by Christopher Hogan.

Next, I visited Christopher Hogan’s Twitter page. It looks like he tweets often, and some of his tweets are about formal fashion in different seasons (he has 3,300 followers. It’s a bit low, but there’s a twist in the tale).

That gave me an idea—a content strategy that can be endorsed by many influencers (with a gazillion followers).

image06

Here’s what I’d do next:

  • Check around the other top blogs. Figure out which bloggers have thousands of followers on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Read their posts/tweets. Search for their interviews online to figure out what motivates them.
  • Create an article (or video or infographic) based on my research. If I wanted to influence Christopher Hogan, I would create an infographic or write an article based on formal fashion for men for summer. I would stock the items that feature my content in my online store. I could perhaps title it “Men’s Formal Fashion for The Summer Inspired by Christopher Hogan Designs” (or some other designer).
  • I would then tweet it to him or post on his FB page. If it appeals to him (and it should because I would have spent a whole lot of time and love making it), he will share it. That would get me targeted traffic that has the potential to convert.
  • Even if he doesn’t retweet, I know I’m sitting on killer content bound to get noticed by guys who strut around in formals during the summer.

What I have given you is just an example. And it’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential of this technique.

Use your creativity to devise even more advanced and informative content within your niche.

You can use other tools, such as Followerwonk or Buzzsumo, to find influencers and apply the same technique.

10. Research e-commerce keywords

There are so many articles floating around on keyword research that I wasn’t sure whether I should include this tip.

I decided to include it.

E-commerce is a serious business. If you know what customers are exactly searching for, it could be rock-and-roll time for your sales and traffic.

Shoppers who have finished their research typically head to retail sites such as Amazon to buy stuff. As I’m sure you’re aware, Amazon is the world’s largest e-tailer.

Researching keywords on Amazon and including them in your content can be a rewarding SEO task.

To research keywords on Amazon, you need to subscribe to a paid keyword research service.

But I’ll show you how to research for free. Here’s the technique:

First, choose your product on Amazon.com (it’s “men’s fashion” in this example):

image08

Next, select “men’s fashion” in “All Departments.”

Then, now check the results page. Notice the filters and categories in the column on the far left.

image02

Finally, expand each category, and copy the keywords that drop down.

These are the keywords that real shoppers with ready-to-swipe credit cards search for (on Amazon). Use these very keywords in your content.

Conclusion

If your traffic has dropped because of slow loading pages, lousy server, clunky coding, malware, unfriendly UI, etc., no amount of SEO, SMM, or PPC can help you. Plus, you’ll end up wasting a ton of money.

Fix the basic issues first, and then move on to marketing and SEO.

The tactics I have recommended will help you attract traffic that has the potential to convert.

It’s worked for me. I’m confident it will work for you too.

Tell me how it goes! And let me know about both your successes and your challenges. I want to help.


Quick Sprout

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Facebook users prefer pets and photographers to banks and tech

cool tabs categoriesThere are marketers who swear that Facebook is the key to staying in touch with customers and others who think Facebook is a waste of time. Believe it or not, both are right. As you’ll see from this new infographic by Cool Tabs, it all depends on who and where you are.

Cool Tabs makes apps and widgets that you can put on your Facebook pages to increase engagement and attract new followers. They also offer a performance check-up service and it’s that data that led to these results.

Most Engaging Categories

It’s nice to have followers but it’s better when your followers actually engage with your posts. In Facebook terms, that could mean anything from leaving a thumbs up or comment to sharing a post with their own followers.

Cool Tabs found that people were more engaged with pet posts than any other category. Fictional characters came in a close second. Then we drop quite a bit before getting to “just for fun” and small business posts. Photographer posts round out the top five.

Photographers were also the big winner for overall reach. With an average viral reach of 49.82% and an organic reach of 20.40% – shutterbugs are the kings of the Facebook branded Page kingdom.

Sporting Events had the best organic reach and record labels had the highest viral reach.

On the other end of the scale are banks and financial institutions with organic reach of only 4.5% and 2.28% for viral reach. Software pages had the worst organic reach and electronics pages had the worst viral reach with only 1.65%. With numbers like that, electronics companies would be better off on Google+.

Negative Nellies

Engagement on a Facebook post is great. . . except when it’s not. If your Facebook page is full of negative comments then you might be based in Australia – the country with the highest percentage of negative Facebook feedback. Or, it could be that you run a reference page. By category, reference pages get more negative feedback than any other.

How Fans Impact Reach

This chart shows the average viral and organic reach a page can expect based on the number of followers / fans.

Cool tabs fansOn small pages, the viral reach is much longer than the organic reach and for the most part, organic grows and viral slips as the fan count rises. This means, Pages with fewer followers have to work extra hard to post content that is likely to be shared and shared often if they want to grow.

If you take only one thing away from this post, take this: it’s clear that cute puppy photographs are the key to Facebook success.

Marketing Pilgrim – Internet News and Opinion

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The 100+ Best Slides From Cannes Lions 2016

It’s back, the very best slides from Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, with Jesse Desjardins’ 100+ Best Slides From Cannes Lions 2016 SlideShare presentation. So if you’ve been to Cannes, you’ll know it’s a busy week, and almost impossible to get to all the sessions, so this is the best summary deck you’ll find, […]


Digital Buzz Blog

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The Mill ‘BLACKBIRD’ Innovation Case Study

The Cannes Lions “Innovation” category was hotly contested again in 2016, but this was perhaps the most amazing piece, not from just it’s core idea or use of technology, but by how it will change the entire film production industry for car brands. Meet the Mill’s “Blackbird” which sets out to transform the way automotive […]


Digital Buzz Blog

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Google Data Studio: A Step-By-Step Guide

Google Data Studio

This week the Google Analytics team released some very exciting news: Google Data Studio will be available to everyone! There will still be the robust Data Studio 360 for enterprises, but a standard version will be available to everyone to create beautiful and insightful visualizations.

This is great news to all data professionals and enthusiasts, as there aren’t any first class data platforms that can be used to access, transform, visualize, collaborate and share data at scale and for free!

In this article I will discuss how Data Studio relates to other Google Analytics products (specifically the Google Analytics 360 Suite) and then I will go on to show how to use Data Studio (DS). There are a few areas I will focus on: how to access / transform / manage your data and how to visualize / collaborate / share it. (I know, it’s a lot to focus on, but stay with me!)

Data Studio and the Google Analytics platform

You probably heard about the Google Analytics 360 Suite, a platform that will help you evaluate the full customer journey and drive results. The Suite is comprised of 6 products, as schematized below.

Google Analytics 360 Suite

Here is the mission of each of the Suite products:

  • Tag Manager 360 – Data Collection: Get more data and less hassle with powerful APIs and partnerships.
  • Analytics 360 – Digital Analytics: Gain new insight with a total view of the customer experience.
  • Attribution 360 – Marketing Analytics: Discover the true value of all your marketing channels.
  • Optimize 360 – Testing and Personalization: Test and deliver more personal experiences on your site.
  • Audience Center 360 – Audience Analytics: Match the right people with the right message.
  • Data Studio 360 – Data Analysis and Visualization (cherry on top!): Build beautiful and shareable reports, with all your data in one place.

If you are using the free products, you will have access to the current versions of Google Analytics, Tag Manager, and the new Data Studio!

While the first 5 products are about collecting, analyzing and acting on the data, DS is about letting the data speak, uncovering insights through visual exploration. It is a great tool to craft a data story that can resonate with all its consumers.

Google Data Studio Overview

Let’s start with what you can do on Data Studio. I like the diagram below, from my colleague Nick Mihailovski, Lead Product Manager for Data Studio. I think it summarizes well a common analysis workflow and the tool capabilities.

Data Analysis workflow

Connect – The first thing you have to do when working with data is making sure you have it! Once you do, check whether any preparation is required (e.g. calculated fields, different formatting, cleaning up) in order to make the data useful.

Visualize – Once the data is ready to go, you will open your canvas and start connecting the dots, beautifying the charts and making sure they tell an insightful story. The cool thing is that now you can collaborate and work across cities or continents in the same way that you already do with Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. Analysts of the world, unite!

Share – And since you are having so much fun and finding so many insights, why not share it with your colleagues? I am sure they will appreciate! Even though we are making sharing simpler, a click of a button, remember that data is a serious business, make sure you think through before you share.

Now that you know what you can do with Data Studio, let’s do it, login at https://datastudio.google.com. You will see something similar to the following page.

Data Studio interface

The interface is pretty straightforward. You can choose an account (if you have multiple) in the top right corner; and you can see all, shared, or trashed reports (default page) and Data Sources. Easy peazy.

Let’s dive in and look at some cool stuff available through DS. I will start with Data Sources, the interface used to connect your data. Following that, I will discuss the Reports interface, where you will let the artist and businessperson in you go wild 🙂

Data Sources: Access, Transform, and Manage

Now to the data… click on Data Sources in the left “sidebar” (see screenshot above). Maybe you will already have some Data Sources in there, maybe you won’t. In any case, you will see a “+” sign in the bottom-right corner of your page, click on that to create a new Data Source.

The first choice you have to make is where you are getting the data from: Google Analytics, BigQuery, Sheets, etc. Once you click on one of them, choose among the accounts you have access to and click the “Connect” button. You will get to a screen similar to the following.

Data Sources

  1. Create a calculated field: you can use this to create new metrics based on a formula that transforms one or more existing metrics. There are dozens of operators available, here is a reference list.
  2. Field type: choose the formatting and the type of your metric. Here are the top level types, each has a bunch of options: Numeric, Text, Date & Time, Boolean, Geo.
  3. Field aggregation: choose the aggregation that should be used for your metric. For example, if your metric is a ratio such as Conversion Rate, you should use Average, if it is an absolute value such as sessions, you should use Sum.
  4. Create a report: let the fun begin!

Before we dive into the Reports, I would like to focus a moment on the beauty of how Data Sources work. It is not just the fact that you can bring data from other systems that count, it is also how you can use them. One of DS capabilities I like the most is the fact that you can use Data Sources in three different levels:

  • Report level: The highest level component in the Data Studio inheritance chain. By attaching a Data Source to a Report you will be able to use it across all pages; it is possible to have multiple Sources attached to a Report, but you will choose one as the default, in case a Data Source is not set in the Page or Chart level.
  • Page level: A component of a Report. By setting a Data Source to a Page, you can make it the default to that specific page, even if another Data Source is set as the default in the Report level.
  • Chart level: A graphical representation of data within a Page, the lowest level component in the inheritance chain. The flexibility to set Data Sources to specific Charts has a great advantage when building dashboards for multiple websites, countries, business units or departments.

Now it is time to wear your oldest Marvel (DC is OK too) T-Shirt and roll your sleeves. Let’s discuss some visualization capabilities and best practices to start filling your canvas.

Reports: Visualize and Collaborate

After you create a Data Source, you will be given the option to create a Report right from there (see #4 in the screenshot above). But more often than not you will log in to your Data Studio account and create a Report right from the overview page. You will find the “+” on the bottom-right corner, click on it.

The best way to start understanding the Reports interface is by reviewing the excellent map published in the Data Studio Help Center (you will find yourself having this Help Center for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is an awesome resource!) The descriptions following the chart are a simplified version from the link above.

Reports interface

  1. Click on one of the chart tools to draw a chart in your report
  2. Your canvas, enjoy!
  3. Configure data, settings and styles for any selected component.
  4. Click to switch between edit and view mode.
  5. Click to share this report.
  6. Add text to your report.
  7. Add an image to your report.
  8. Draw a shape in your report.
  9. Add a date range control to your report or a filter control.
  10. Undo and Redo.
  11. Mouseover to see data status and click to update the cache.
  12. Switch between Report pages, organize / add / remove pages from the report.
  13. Back to Homepage.
  14. Click to change the Report name.
  15. Shows who is viewing or editing the report.
  16. Click to manage your Google profile.
  17. Click to send us feedback (do it!)

Wow, that’s a lot of fun, and we barely started! And before we dive into best practices, I would like to reinforce #15 above. Once you create a Report you can share it with your colleagues to harness the collective knowledge of your company. This is a really big thing!

Below is an example where I am collaborating with my colleagues Tahir and Lizzie on a Report (they are really skilled data analysts!) As you can see, I am editing the top line chart while Lizzie (pink) is editing the donut chart and Tahir (turquoise) is editing the map. The cool thing is that you can actually see all changes in real time.

Data collaboration

Reports Best Practices

Since there are so many options available, and so many options within those options, I can’t possibly go over everything; so I will discuss some best practices I believe are critical to any Report. Data Visualization is an extremely rich world, I will not discuss fonts, colors, shapes, and charts in depth; since so many smart people already wrote about that, I am taking it as a given!

“In many ways, visualization is like cooking. You are the chef, and datasets, geometry, and color are your ingredients. A skilled chef, who knows the process of how to prepare and combine ingredients and plate the cooked food, is likely to prepare a delicious meal. A less skilled cook, who heads to the local freezer section to see what microwave dinners look good, might nuke a less savory meal. Of course, some microwave dinners taste good, but there are a lot that taste bad.”

Nathan Yau, Data Points: Visualization That Means Something

I am going to use the Page below as an example to 5 Best Practices I find can be used in a majority of Reports, but YMMV.

Reports best practices

1. Filter controls give power to the users

Filter controls are like coffee with chocolate, they will drive your users forward and offer a rich analysis experience. If you choose the right filters and design them well, analysis will be easier and more effective; there is nothing more frustrating than doing an analysis and being limited by the lack of filters.

“So how should I design my filters?” Said no one ever. But I am glad you asked now! 🙂

I always invest some time in understanding the “foundational” dimensions of the Report and each Page separately. Ideally, you would want to have a set of constant filters across all your pages, so that the user can feel more comfortable when looking through the data, but this is not always possible… at least try to keep the same look and feel and some of the same filters. In the screenshot above, I used the same set of 5 filters across multiple Pages (see also #2 below).

In terms of design, I like the “Expandable” option, IMHO it looks nicer, but for short lists it might be useful to have the standard filter. Here is a great video describing this feature in detail.

2. Headers and page dividers are great for organization and consistency

To reinforce the point above on having a consistent experience across pages, I think a header can be very effective on a multi-Page Report. Not only it brings a consistent experience to users, it also informs them what data is available in a specific Page quickly. The header doesn’t need to be too complex, maybe a full-width strip with light background (as above). It can also include important messages to users, links to other resources or even a date picker (if you run out of space).

Edward Tufte termed the importance of consistency in design as “economy of perception results“:

“(…) once viewers decode and comprehend the design for one slice of data, they have familiar access to data in all the other slices. As our eye moves from one image to the next, this constancy of design allows viewers to focus on changes in information rather than changes in graphical composition. A steady canvas makes for a clearer picture.”

Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information

Page dividers can also be highly effectively to separate between different types of content. For example, if you are showing data for 4 different business units in a Page, you might consider having page dividers to make the separation clear. But again, make sure they are consistent across pages.

3. Chart diversity makes the report more engaging

When it comes to the charts themselves, diversity is a very positive factor; a Report containing only tables or only bar charts is a bit boring to look at for too long. Having different chart types makes the analysis more interesting. Of course you should still use line charts for trends, bar charts for group comparison, and tables where the value is important, but try to include some diversity in each Report… even if it means using a Pie Chart!

The Chart Chooser is a good resource on how to choose the type of visualization you need for your data.

4. Color styling helps guiding the eyes

Do not overuse color! Nothing states that more succinctly than Tufte’s Data-Ink Ratio:

“A large share of ink on a graphic should present data-information, the ink changing as the data change. Data-ink is the non-erasable core of a graphic, the non-redundant ink arranged in response to variation in the numbers represented.”

Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

In the example above, I used color to indicate which charts are most important and show the most interesting insights, making the top half of the chart colorful and the bottom half in shades of grey. I think this helps directing the eye. I also used only 2 colors which is usually not enough, but personally I find more than 5 colors hard to read.

5. The Report purpose informs the design

In addition to the above, it is important to remember that the purpose of the visualizations is incredibly important during the conception and creation of your Reports. You must think about the purpose as a whole: what are your users looking for and how to convey it in the best possible way? Stephen Few summarizes this very clearly:

“When you use tables and charts to discover the message in the data, you are performing analysis. When you use them to track information about operational performance, such as the speed or quality of manufacturing, you are engaged in monitoring. When you use them to prepare for the future, such as in budgeting, you are planning. When you use them to pass on to others a message about a business, however, your purpose is communication, no matter what the content. All of these are important uses of tables and graphs, but the process that you engage in and the design principles that you follow differ for each.”

Stephen Few, Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten

Sharing is caring: in moderation!

As you will probably notice, Data Studio uses the Google Drive sharing model, which you are hopefully acquainted with. It is important to notice that when you share a Report or Data Source with a person, the access will be given unrelated to whether the person has access to the data in Google Analytics, Sheets, BigQuery, etc. This means that it is extremely important to make sure that the data can be shared with the person.

Sharing data is great, but only when the right people have the right access to the right data.

Let’s look at an example.

Data sharing

In the sharing settings above, you will notice that three people have access to the report in question. I am the owner, Tahir can edit and Lizzie can view the Report. You will also notice in the first checkbox at the end of the settings that even though Tahir can edit, he will not be able to add new people to it. Also note that I can disable the options to download, print, and copy for commenters and viewers (in this case Lizzie).

Closing Thoughts

Wow.

I have been playing with Data Studio for a while now, and as you can see I am pretty excited about it. I think this is a great opportunity to bring the Analytics community one step higher, improving the data reporting and visualization standards. Through Data Studio we will be able to broaden the horizons of our community, bringing more and more people into the data world. If you got this far, I am guessing you are quite excited about the Data Studio and the industry in general.

Data Visualization reading suggestions

Happy visualizing! 😉

image 
Google Analytics 360 Suite
Data Analysis workflow
Data Studio interface
Data Sources
Reports interface
Data collaboration
Reports best practices
Filter design
Data sharing


Online Behavior – Marketing Measurement & Optimization

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Marketing in the Selfish Economy

21657838679_540b0154bd_c

The future of marketing is incredibly selfish. It has to be. We’re becoming a generation of accidental narcissists who want things our way, when and how we want it. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s just an inevitable effect of technology’s impact on our lives. It’s how marketing responds that counts. The key though is accept that to reach and engage a generation of narcissistic customers, the future of marketing has little to do with marketing at all¾at least in the traditional sense. The future is instead personal at scale and that starts with getting to know people and appreciating them for their differences and similarities.

Technology has never been more human. The digital breadcrumbs that are left behind from devices, connections and engagement tell us more about people then ever before. The question is, are we paying attention?

Welcome to the #EGOSYSTEM. With every new device, app and network, technology is placing us at the center of our own universe. Everyone and everything orbits our avatars in each social network and app. Everything we share invites engagement in the moment. Whenever we need something, there’s an app for that. We multitask and thrive in an era of information overload. We balance FOMO (fear of missing out) with JOMO (joy of missing out).

With everything and everyone crashing and competing together, we have created a beautiful and largely misunderstood chaos that is now our attention span. Oh and congrats, we now rival the attention span of a goldfish.

There’s something more going on besides the rapid evolution of tech and its impact on accidental narcissism. There’s an incredible sense of customer empowerment that’s forcing the need for marketers to evolve from talking at people and listening to and learning from them to be contextually and culturally relevant across devices, networks and apps.

Written in the voice of your customer…

We the people formerly known as consumers, eyeballs, views, Likes, shares, sentiment, “voice of the customer” etc., hereby resign as your audience. We do not subscribe to any form of viral or mass-marketing, mass-personalization, responsive design, et al. We readily embrace ad blocking technology because you brought it on yourself. And, whatever Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube and the like are doing to their algorithms so we can optimize our streams with relevant and engaging content, carry on! We have no qualms with opening the kimono a bit to exchange slivers of privacy for convenience, relevance and value. But give us value for doing so otherwise we feel slighted or under valued.

Welcome to the #egosystem, a new realm of consumerism where expressions influence impressions, selfies are advertising, online activities and connections are bastions of real world personalization. It’s up to marketing to accept these gifts to in turn return gifts of value and engagement to customers through all forms of creative, advertising, touchpoints, loyalty, etc. And that starts with looking before your leap, learning before you speak and designing for context before designing for creativity or schedules. It’s psychographics over demographics, intent over assumptions, empathy over sympathy, engagement over attention, relevance over mediumism, and value over views.

Everything begins with you and the shift in perspective that reminds you that you are and aren’t the person you want to reach. To change requires a more personal view and approach to reaching the people formerly known as your audience.

Connect with Brian!

Twitter: @briansolis
Facebook: TheBrianSolis
LinkedIn: BrianSolis
Youtube: BrianSolisTV
Snapchat: BrianSolis

Experience is everything…read my new book, X!

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