Newsletter Archives 2014
Hello, hello! Here are the best of marketing from 2014 in no particular order…
Think About Customer Experience, Not Just Conversion Optimization
Great pull quote from the CEO of Pinterest – “Every once in a while I’ll create a brand new account and give it a try and see how hard it is to find things that I really love.” Solid article on stepping back and looking at the whole website experience. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Look at the numbers on A/B tests and analytics, but also consistently look at you site with the eyes of a new customer.
What Should I Put on the Homepage?
Needless to say, your homepage is critically important. But in 2014, it serves a very different role than it did even just 4 years ago. Rand Fishkin at Moz gives a good overview on how to use it best. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Simplify your homepage. Make it “defined & refined”.
The Marketer’s Guide to Google Analytics: How to Extract Numbers That Drive Action
Great article with visuals on actually using Google Analytics to generate content ideas. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Do more of what is already successful.
The Saddest SaaS Pricing Pages of the Year
Think about what you first look at on an ecommerce or software site…yep, Pricing. It’s important, but often given little thought. This article gives solid examples to get you mind working on how to present your prices, products, and features. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Keep it simple and focused, no matter if you are a software company, ecommerce, or services company (and that includes companies that only do pricing after contact).
4 Types of Content Every Site Needs
Long-time subscribers will know how much I harp on the necessity of creating new content. But often the decision of what content to create paralyzes the process of even getting started. This article by Hannah Smith at Distilled is a great breakdown of the content you need on your site. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Decide what you want out of your site. Decide what content matches that – and start!
Are Excessively Positive Customer Reviews Hurting Your Conversion Rates? [Study]
Spoiler alert: they are. Think about yourself. You’re a pretty savvy shopper. You compare; you research before you buy. And so do your customers. Keep that in mind when building out a sales or testimonials page. Great read for all businesses. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Customers trust authenticity over rave reviews
How To Sell To Anyone Using Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are a staple of marketing – you have to understand who is buying your product or service. They aren’t tough to construct, but it helps to have a good process to work with. Here’s a well-done guide to building your own. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Take the time to really define who your customers are
5 Ways to Optimize Ecommerce Product Pages for Humans and Search Engines
You know that your product pages are where the real action is. It’s where people decide and actually Add to Cart or pick up the phone. Here’s a useful guide to optimizing them for both people and search engines. Check it out here…
Takeaway: You may have a lot of product pages, but even incremental improvements can have big effects.
Welcome to The Beginner’s Guide to Social Media!
Yes, I know – there are thousands of social media guides littering the Internet. However, if you are tentative about using social media for your business, and you want a straightforward, non-fluffy guide (including a good mix of examples of what success looks like on each platform) this one by Moz is it. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Social is no longer new. There are actual best practices beyond “be on it.” Find the right case studies, and do it right (says the blogger who rarely tweets…).
How To Come Up With A Value Proposition When What You Sell ISN’T Unique
A fabulous and very extensive post on being different – even if you aren’t. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Be different. It’s fine to sell the same products, but not as the same brand.
People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves
Short, solid piece on sort of the foundations of marketing your product or service. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Write copy for what people can do with your product instead of what your product can do for people.
100 Practical Ideas for Small-Business Blog Posts
This post is most relevant for small businesses (where it does not take much to stand out with content), but also anyone who agrees with the idea of creating content, but puts it off for a “lack of ideas.” These lists can be fluffy, but this one is useful IMO. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Don’t put off creating content for your site for lack of ideas. Answer questions & tell stories.
Are You Winning The Attention Auction?
Everyday, there is more content and more options to fill everyone’s limited amount of attention. That has huge consequences for your website, your marketing, and your content. AJ Kohn explains it in a long, but very worthwhile post (you’ll need to block off a few minutes for this). Check it out here…
Takeaway: Make sure that your are forging multiple connections with your readers. For example – “there’s this really useful marketing newsletter that comes every week”
User’s Guide to the YouTube Keyword Tool
You may already know about the Google Keyword Tool (if not then read this) – but you may not know that YouTube has a Keyword Tool. And – you may also not know that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world (sorry Bing…). Here’s a brief and useful write up on how to use it to optimize your videos. Check it out here…
Takeaway: There exists a YouTube Keyword Tool – you should use it
Your Field Guide to “Barnacle” Local SEO
The headline here is for local SEO – but this marketing strategy is useful in any industry where a few strong directories or sites have a lot of clout (ie, Amazon in ecommerce or ThomasNet/GlobalSpec in manufacturing). Quick, useful read. Check it out here…
What Newcomers to PPC Need to Know
I’ve had several reader emails asking about tips for PPC. Here’s a solid article from PPC Hero with expert interviews on how to get started with AdWords/PPC advertising. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Start small. Do best practices. Expand what works.
16 Tips, Tools and Tricks to Improve your Pinterest Marketing Strategy
Pinterest can drive a ton of traffic. Seriously – it’s possibly the most underestimated marketing channel online (along with Reddit). Buffer had a comprehensive guide to getting started. If you have a business with a visual component (especially ecommerce business – you should check it out here…
Takeaway: If your business has a visual component at all – you should be on Pinterest.
45 Fabulous Facebook Advertising Tips & Magic Marketing Tricks
Keeping with the paid media theme this week, Facebook is still a great opportunity (as long as you are buying traffic for your site, not your fan page). Here’s a good piece on new tactics for 2013. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Test, target and diversify your ads on Facebook.
Personas: The Art and Science of Understanding the Person Behind the Visit
The core of marketing is defining your audience. Who is buying your product? How are you going to reach them? This link is a long read, but it is an essential guide to think about personas (ie, defining who is buying your product). Solid read. Check it out here…
Takeaway: You’ve got to define who is buying your product before knowing how to reach them
Freelancer’s Bonus: The Email Line That’s Client Repellent
If you are a freelancer – or a business where you have clients instead of customers, this article really made me rethink how I communicate to current and prospective clients. You should check it out here…
Takeaway: If you have a client – you are the expert. Provide solutions, not more work in everything you do.
How to Create a Marketing Plan
Noah Kagan (inventor of the Facebook Newsfeed & former CMO of the personal finance company Mint) is one of my favorite marketing writers. No fluff, all numbers, and normal language. This past week, he published a really useful post outlining exactly how he’s going to market his site. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Keep things simple. Think in terms of who you are selling to – not what. Do more of what’s working.
Content Marketers Could Become Their Own Worst Enemy
Interesting perspective on creating new content for your audience. It’s a bit of a sky is falling piece, but has a couple good takeaways since it’s true that everyone is competing for limited attention spans. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Either make your content really good (aside – in many industries, it’s still not hard to do) or just go where people are paying attention (ie, if you aren’t making headway on Twitter…stop doing Twitter and go where people are listening).
Takeaway: It’s usually the little things done right that make a difference (ie, notice the attention paid to the packaging in the story)
The Case For Creating A Podcast For Your E-Commerce Or Software Company
Speaking of going where people are paying attention…this piece on creating a podcast really piqued my interested. I know I listen when my favorite podcasts talk about recommended products. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Podcasts may or may not be right for you, but going where people are paying attention is
Bonus for Local Business Owners: The Local SEO Checklist
Stop being scared to death by sketchy SEO companies and reputable companies offering sketchy SEO services (I’m looking at you Yellow Pages). Great little Local SEO checklist to work through yourself – or use it to grade your SEO company. Check it out here…
Takeaway: SEO isn’t magic. Even if you don’t fully understand or do the work, be sure to understand what is being done
8 Lies About Content Marketing You Probably Believe
You’ll find few people in marketing who aren’t all for more “content marketing” (including me). It works – but does have more caveats and nuance than many marketers let on. Joel Klettke does an amazing job outlining what you should keep in mind before/during/after creating your content. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Take on a bigger picture of creating website content than just “more blog posts = $$$”
Quick aside: You also should bookmark that site for reading later. It’s that good. And shout out to Brett Snyder (follow Brett on Twitter) for the recommendation. If you find something awesome, always feel free to reply to this email and share!
Twilight of The Brands
I never thought I’d recommend The New Yorker for small website marketing advice…but I am. Seriously, this case study article has good insight with what is happening in brands & marketing. Check it out here…
Takeaway: If you’re little, nimble, and have an amazing product…you’ve never lived in a better era (until you produce an awful product).
The Problem with Facebook
If you are even maybe, sort of, possibly considering advertising on Facebook – you must watch these two videos. They tell the story of Facebook’s unique, and problematic ad structure that far too few people understand. Watch the Part 1 – Problem with Facebook here and Part 2 – Facebook Fraud here.
Takeaway: Facebook advertising is, and will continue to be a great opportunity. But you simply must take the time to understand it, structure your campaigns well, and make sure it aligns with your overall marketing goals.
Why Every Business Should Spend at Least $1 per Day on Facebook Ads
Marketers have been quite critical of Facebook this month. But as I mentioned in last week’s edition, Facebook advertising remains quite an incredible opportunity if done thoughtfully and well. It’s incredibly cheap and walking through the ad process can really help you think through who your customers actually are. Even if you only spend $30/mo – Brian Carter makes the case that you should give Facebook advertising a go. Short, worthwhile read (that got me to set up new campaigns this week as well). Check it out here…
Takeaway: You should do at least minimal Facebook advertising for cheap branding and for defining your audience, but make sure you’re buying clicks & conversions…not likes.
Google Didn’t Want Us To Use The Keyword Planner This Way. But It Works Nicely.
Whether you are planning an AdWords ad campaign or defining an SEO strategy, keywords are integral (to say the least). A successful keyword strategy always starts with a large, diverse set of keywords to curate. Creating that large, diverse set can be quite a challenge. There are plenty of keyword research tools out there…but sometimes it’s better to use a tool you have in an innovative way. Check out this really innovative idea for Keyword Planner here.
Takeaway: Before using or buying a new tool – try using Keyword Planner in a smarter way
7 Ways to Leverage YouTube Marketing to Improve Sales
YouTube is huge. But if you are using it, you could probably use it better. Shopify blog published a handy list of tips over here…
Takeaway: Start with short videos on a branded channel, measure, analyze, then edit your strategy
Metrics to Measure YouTube Marketing
But again, if you’re going to do YouTube, be sure to measure (and measure correctly). This link is a solid resource post on YouTube metrics. It’s a bit dense for single sitting reading, but a worthwhile bookmark. Check it out here…
Takeaway: YouTube is a platform like Twitter/Facebook. You need to measure the right things so that you are benefiting…not just Google.
Why These 5 Ugly Designs Convert Beautifully
Interesting post with data & case studies on pages that convert well despite (or because of) their ugliness. First, I always find A/B tests that go against intuition to be interesting. But more importantly, it’s even more interesting & useful to think about who and how visitors are using the pages they land on, which applies beyond just A/B testing into SEO, PPC & design. Check out the post here…
Takeaway: Functionality can matter more than beauty on landing pages; intuition is a horrible judge of effectiveness; and think about who is landing on your pages
The Science of Storytelling & Memory and Their Impact on CRO
You don’t have to read much on marketing blogs to hear the saying that “stories matter.” Here’s a ridiculously detailed post on what that means and you can actually apply it to your website. Check it out here…
Takeaway: The story you tell your customers has to line up all the way to checkout – including the loose ends like testimonials, product copy, etc
10 Content Creators To Inspire Your Content Marketing
Self-explanatory title, except that it’s actually a useful list from one of the best content marketing firms in the industry. Check it out here…
Takeaway: The running thread in all these example is detail & quality. Headlines & design go part of the way – but the detail to get everything just right is amazing.
Tactical Read: Complete Guide to Social Media Formatting
Every social network has slightly different formatting, settings, and etiquette. Buffer created a solid reference post on how to get the formatting right across your social channels. Useful bookmark. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Same thread as the content marketing read – details matter
Who Wants A Powerful Inbound Marketing Plan For Free?
“Inbound marketing” is an industry term for any marketing that doesn’t interrupt someone’s day. Think SEO, content, social, non-spam email, search network PPC vs. cold-calling, banner ads, etc. It can be complicated, counter-intuitive and tough to plan. This post is useful because it pulls all the potential elements of a marketing plan into 1 process. It’s not the only process by any means, but it’s great to see an example end to end. Check out the post here…
Takeaway: Think in terms of your audience and where/how they would be looking for your offering
How To Spend Your First $100 in Facebook Ads
The post title says it all. Very tactical, very detailed. Useful even if you are already running Facebook campaigns. Check out the post here…
Takeaway: Get hyper-targeted, and send the traffic to your website…not your Facebook page.
Bad Ads, Worse Ads, and Very, Very Bad Ads: The Worst of PPC
Lots of telling examples of bad PPC ads – with takeaways about what you should be doing. Check out the post here…
Takeaway: Always check your ads from the perspective of your potential customers
Google Analytics Checklist for New Projects
Any data you miss can never be recovered, which is why it’s essential to implement your Google Analytics correctly. Great checklist for new projects. Check out the post here…
Takeaway: If you’re going to be making decisions based on Analytics, make absolutely sure it’s implemented correctly.
The Gentle Art of Shutting Up
Some guy in the Greek/Roman time (arguably Aristotle or Terence) said “All good things in moderation” – including using content/email/social/ads for marketing. Or so argues Joel Klettke. A worthwhile post on marketing to get attention instead of marketing for marketing’s sake. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Focus on maintaining quality over quantity in all your marketing channels
How To Make Explainer Videos
Well-done, detailed post on one of the more effective genres of marketing videos. Check it out (and bookmark) here…
Takeaway: With the right tools & plan, you can have a well-done explainer video on a small budget
Keyword Targeting, Density, and Cannibalization
A good overview (and myth-busting) on how search engines look at your pages’ keywords. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Search engines’ are much more nuanced than in 1999. Focus on your visitors’ questions with consistent, well-written pages
Lessons We Can Learn from Top PPC Advertiser Strategy Changes
If you want to keep up with bleeding edge online marketing tactics, it’s useful to look at players in some hyper-competitive niches. Here’s a great case study looking at PPC competition for “acne treatment” – worthwhile if you are redesigning ads, creating new landing pages, or going up against deep-pocketed competitors. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Add more proof points to your landing pages. Match your ad to your landing page.
50+ Google Analytics Resources – The 2014 Edition
Google Analytics is more than just measuring # of visitors, but it’s more advanced features can be daunting. Use this as a reference guide to get even more out of Google Analytics to improve your site – check out the resource guide here…
Takeaway: If there’s a data point about your site you’re curious about – it’s probably in Google Analytics. The key is actually learning the potential then applying the data.
7 Proven Secrets of High-Converting Checkouts
67.89% of carts are abandoned online (BTW – you can get yours from Google Analytics). Joanna Wiebe has a very thorough piece on getting that rate down and increasing your conversion rate. Check it out here…
Takeaway: The checkout process is all about psychology and positioning. Increasing conversion rate not online increases your bottom line, but also opens up more opportunity for marketing (by increasing the value of a lead).
How To Calculate & Increase Customer Lifetime Value
This is one of the meatiest/useful posts I’ve ever linked to. The concepts can appear complicated, but this post breaks them down in an understandable way (and even has free Excel worksheets). Sidenote from experience – freelancers should include time spent on marketing in their cost of customer acquisition. Check out the post here…
Takeaway: Anecdotally, few businesses actually do this. Even if you can do some of this analysis, you’ll have a huge leg up over your competition.
The Ridiculous Power of Blog Commenting
I’ve written about using blog commenting to get visitors before, but this post by AJ Kohn puts blog commenting in the context of getting attention where it’s otherwise limited. Great post – be sure to act on it. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Look for places to connect w/ authors & customers that aren’t as noisy – blog comments being a great example
Marketing Personas: The Complete Beginner’s Guide
Deciding who you will be selling to, writing for, or advertising to is the starting point for marketing. And even though you may have an idea in your head, writing out that persona can seriously help guide your marketing efforts. Buffer wrote a solid intro – check it out here…
Also, a few weeks ago I linked to a post on using your email list & Facebook to define personas with actual customers. Check Step 4 in the post here…
Takeaway: Taking time to actually write out and define your ideal customers can pay dividend and guide everything you do from blogging to advertising
Everything You Need To Know About Creating Explainer Videos
Why talk about your product/service to your customer when you can show them? Very detailed post on explainer videos. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Just having explainer videos gives you an advantage – doing them well with scripts and storyboards are even better
Best Metrics For Digital Marketing: Rock Your Own And Rent Strategies
Ad platforms, social platforms and website analytics all give you tons and tons of data. Here’s a detailed, but defining post by Google Analytics’ Chief Evangelist on picking the right metrics to look at. Check it out here…
Takeaway: You manage what you measure. Take time to look at metrics that actually matter to your business…especially with platforms you don’t own in social
How You Can Create Content That Generates 40,000 Targeted Visitors
The greatest ideas take what has already worked and builds on it. You can use the same strategy for your website. Super-detailed and very useful post from OkDork & Backlinko. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Take what has already worked in your space, reverse engineer the content, process & outreach – then do it better.
The Rules of Link Building
Takeaway: Instead of focusing on tactics, tricks & SEO packages – focus on promoting your site directly to people who will pay attention.
17 PR Professionals Share Their Best Pitching Tips
Speaking of promoting content to people who might mention your site, BuzzStream put together a useful list of detailed pitching tips to journalists. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Make your pitch part of something an individual journalist’s readers would benefit from.
Wistia Learning Center
Not a blog post – but something that I did re-discover this week. Wistia’s how to guides for online video are really solid. If you’re interested in doing video, you should probably check them out here.
Quick Read Bonus: Pissing Away Our Money With Google Display Ads
Marketers give Facebook a hard time for their ad practices, but Google can do some shady practices as well. Learn one detail you should pay attention to here…
Social Signals & SEO
The head of Google Search says that Google doesn’t even use Google+ signals in non-personalized search results…and yet, nearly everyone in marketing will tell you that social is key to any search engine optimization strategy. What’s actually going on? AJ Kohn gives the explanation & what you should do about it. Check it out here…
Takeaway: “Social has an indirect but powerful impact on search rankings. It’s not the actual social activity that matters, but what happens as a result of that activity. Optimizing and maximizing creator impressions increases the chance of obtaining links from the group of people who power the link graph.”
Facebook Ads don’t suck. But bashing them is great for marketing!
Facebook ads have had repeated bad raps since January. I’ve talked about ways to use them effectively in previous editions, but Facebook has a new round of fraud accusations. Here’s a post that puts Facebook advertising in perspective. Worthwhile read – check it out here…
Takeaway: Make sure Facebook or any platform you’re using is hitting actual, meaningful metrics. If it is, then keep doing it.
17 Advanced Methods for Promoting Your New Piece of Content
Creating content is just the beginning – promoting it requires as much (if not more) work – and just posting it to your social account doesn’t count. Here’s a very tactical, bookmarkable guide to methods of promoting your content. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Figure out how your content would make people sharing it look good. Make it easy.
Your Guide to Targeting Prospects on Google’s Display Network
Google’s Display Network, like Facebook, gives you incredible reach to advertise, but is tough to do right. Here’s a recently published, beginner’s guide to getting started. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Google’s Display Network is the next logical step to expand your advertising outside of Google Search & Facebook. Be sure to understand the terminology and strategy before diving in.
Should You Use a Curiosity Gap to Persuade Your Visitors to Click?
I was so conflicted about using UpWorthy type headlines for blog and website content, until I read these 3 tips…
Takeaway: Curiosity can drive clicks, but keep the curiosity gap and relevant to your end goals – sometimes you don’t want the click.
The Complete List of Evergreen Content Ideas for Your Blog
Overwrought title, but a solid argument with examples for writing “evergreen” (ie, useful a year from now) content on your blog/website. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Evergreen content might not easily go viral, but never underestimate the power of compound traffic
The Definitive Guide To Campaign Tagging in Google Analytics
You may have heard about or used the Google Analytics URL builder to tag your ads, redirects, and links. But please, please don’t mess up your Analytics with bad tagging. Here’s the truly definitive post on campaign tagging. It’s a bit technical in parts, but a bookmark for reference anytime you’re working with Google Analytics. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Always tag your campaigns. But understand what you’re doing and keep your Analytics consistent & accurate
Why Great Marketers Must Be Great Skeptics
Few industries have as much snake oil & bull**** as marketing. And digital marketing 10Xs that problem. That’s one reason I run this site & newsletter – to cut through the fluff and shortcuts to teach and learn the
hard right way. In that vein, I found this deck from Rand Fishkin to be a really solid framework/mindset to judge tactics & strategies for marketing your website. You should check it out here…
Takeaway: Be an informed skeptic (not a cynic) when judging tactics & strategies. Ask the seemingly obvious questions.
The Greatest Misconception in Content Marketing
Content marketing is more than just a new channel – it requires a different form of sales thinking. Or so says Rand Fishkin in this worthwhile intro video. Check it out here…
Takeaway: A piece of content is not a direct sales piece. But a commitment to helping your audience with content does create a new type of (very loyal) customer.
How to Use Facebook Graph Search to Learn About Your Fans
This is over a year old, and I’ve posted it before. But I found myself referencing it constantly while setting up new Facebook campaigns. If you use Facebook for advertising, then you simply must check it out here (and bookmark it).
Takeaway: Facebook has some amazing tools to help you spend your ad money wisely (they just don’t publicize them well).
Onboarding Emails: What Happens After They Sign Up For Your “Free Thing”
Another solid post from Conversion XL on how to treat your customers after they sign up or buy from you. Try to look at this even more broadly (ie, what do you do after every customer interaction). Go check it out here…
Takeaway: Don’t forget about your customers after you close the sale/sign-up/trial/shipment
How To Use Wikipedia for SEO & Content Marketing
Takeaway: Wikipedia is the compendium of content online. It also ranks for more than half of all searches. You probably should integrate it into your content & SEO process.
Expanding the Horizons of eCommerce Content Strategy
Do you own an ecommerce store or advise an ecommerce client? Ok – stop, open this link, bookmark it, read it, break it down, and implement it on your store. This is a truly amazing resource for figuring out what content you need for your store. Now, go check it out here…
Takeaway: eCommerce content strategy is more than just a blog. It’s giving your customers what they need no matter where they are in their buying decision.
The 10 Best PPC Tips from My Inbound.org AMA
Takeaway: Do remarketing & ruthlessly focus on implementing PPC best practices and you’ll be in the top 15% of advertisers.
Why Your Blog Is Failing
Click-bait title, but a good, quick post to get you thinking about your blog & content strategy. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Consistently write quality posts about something your target persona cares about or something your product or service can help solve (and have realistic expectations)
Are You Building a Brand or Just Handing Out Free T-Shirts?
I was looking into some ShivarWeb swag for a golf tournament, and got to thinking about what exactly I was spending money on and why. This post by Onboardly asks some smart questions about not only swag but also pretty much any marketing you spend money or time on. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Whatever you’re about to do in marketing your site, why would anyone ever actually care about it – or are you just trying to get noticed?
Is Your Content Strategy Guided by Audience Intent (or Just Keywords)?
A solid, straightforward walkthrough of using keywords to figure out what your audience is asking (ie, the question behind the keyword). Check it out here…
Takeaway: When you’re doing keyword research or webpage planning, think more about what questions your audience is asking – and how they translate to keywords
6 Careless Mistakes That Lead to Inaccurate Buyer Personas
Speaking of figuring out your audience’s questions – it also helps to truly know who they are. I’ve mentioned more thorough resources on outlining, but this post was a useful, quick checklist. Worth a quick read. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Don’t create the personas you hope & wish to sell to – actually pull data
10 Marketing Tactics to Get 41,000 Downloads on Amazon
I’ll admit that I’m still making my way through this post. It’s absurdly long & detailed. But even if you’re not selling a book on Amazon – the thought process and tactics behind this will be very similar for any product launch. Check it out here…
Takeaway: There’s always something else more you can do for marketing
Amplification: Content Marketing’s Missing Piece
Your website/blog’s content is not special, and will not promote itself, or so argues Joel Klettke. Here’s a solid primer on options to get your content actually seen by the right readers. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Whether it’s paid or manual, you need to have some sort of realistic strategy to promote your content – it won’t promote itself.
3 ways to reach hyper-targeted business audiences using Facebook
Short, focused and about a topic I know too little about – interesting article on new targeting features for Facebook ads. Check it out here…
Takeaway: You can use Facebook’s features to build an audience that is similar to what you already have
7 Ecommerce Email Campaigns You Should Steal Today
Email marketing (done well) is an extremely powerful tool because you get to send it to your audience, instead of waiting for them to come back (I am, of course, unbiased as an email newsletter writer). But sometimes it’s tough to be creative and avoid the Archive/Delete button when you’re sending as a retailer/vendor. I found these campaign examples really interesting & useful. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Send the email you would want to receive
A/B testing: a comprehensive guide to getting started
A/B testing is one of those things that everyone agrees in theory would be amazing – and very worthwhile (basically free money). But very, very few people actually do. This post is a solid starting point to understanding the process & how to get started (though definitely skip around to section relevant to your site). Check it out here…
Adopting A Data Driven Approach To Increase Website Traffic
This post is huge – it’s a bit meandering in the middle, but it’s a really well put together bookmark and reference type post on building traffic to your website. There’s so many options, the challenge is picking 1 and actually executing. Check out the post here…
Takeaway: There is always something else you can be trying & optimizing in your marketing – and it’s a cycle where improvement in 1 channel affects all the others positively.
How to Use Google Webmaster Tools for SEO
Google Webmaster Tools is a very undervalued tool in my opinion (ironically too). Until I publish a guide :), here’s the guide to navigating & actually using Google Webmaster Tools to improve your site. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Google gives you plenty of free tools to make your site better, understand & use them before moving to a snazzier, more expensive tool
Why Content Marketing Fails
Self-explanatory title. Well-done, worthwhile deck, worth your time to click through and understand before/during/after spending time & money building content for your website. Check it out here…
Takeaway(s): Content doesn’t directly equal sales. Content needs a community. Content needs to be promoted, not just created. Content should be findable via search. Content is a long-term play.
Local SEO Victory in 5 Minutes a Day: Doable Baby Steps
If you own a business with a physical location, you simply must know about local search engine optimization. It can seem daunting and full of incomprehensible things to be done. Here’s a great list breaking out small wins you can fit into your busy schedule – check it out here…
10 Marketing Lessons From Billion-Dollar Businesses: Inside the Strategies of Facebook, Mint, and AppSumo
The title sounds vague-ish, but this post is packed with really specific tactics that can be applied no matter your industry or site type. Must read. Check it out here…
Takeaway: (ironically) Don’t assume what works for others will work for you, too. Take specific tactics that have worked, and add your own innovation to it.
10 Tips To Skyrocket Your Pinterest Sales
A straightforward, informative post with examples on how to expand your Pinterest presence, which is still an underestimated social platform in my opinion. Check it out here…
Takeaway: A well-done Pinterest strategy doesn’t just stick to your product line – but shows off the lifestyle and interests of your customers.
Developing a Better YouTube Strategy
A higher-level post, but a worthwhile read before/during committing resources to YouTube. Check it out here…
Takeaway: YouTube is more than your video dumping ground. It has an audience (to the tune of a 1 billion people) worth planning around.
What I learned after wasting $50,000 on YouTube
Speaking of YouTube – did you know that you can advertise on it? Yep (and it has huge potential) -and here’s your must read post before spending a dime. Check it out here…
Takeaway: You got to spend money on creative, but YouTube offers a huge opportunity for both traffic and branding.
Bonus for local business owners – Grow Local: The Complete Guide to Growing a Local Business
The title is pretty self explanatory. But here’s the thing – this resource is epic-ly comprehensive. No really – if you own a locally focused business, you should block off a bit of time to explore this. Check it out here…
Think You Can Throw Up Any Old Thank You Page? Think Again.
A very valuable, but often ignored part of your website – here’s a good write up on how to best use your Thank You pages. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Don’t ignore your thank you page, use it not only for tracking but for encouraging your customers to keep interacting with your site.
How to Use Google Webmaster Tools for SEO
Self-explanatory title, but nevertheless a free tool from Google that too many website owners don’t fully understand & that many marketers underestimate. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Just because Google has gone (not provided) with keywords in Analytics doesn’t mean you can use the tools they do provide for great information
How to Rank Well in Amazon, the US’s Largest Product Search Engine
Even if you don’t run or consult for an ecommerce website, this is a valuable post to understanding just how other vertical search engines might work (think Airbnb, Spotify, ThomasNET, eBay, etc).
Takeaway: Look for other places your customers might be searching for you. Understand the incentives behind that search engine, and work with it to rank well and drive traffic. Check it out here…
That’s actually all from this week. I’ll leave you with a Google+ post from the newsletter archives as a fourth takeaway to execute & don’t just read about or chase trends. Check it out here…
Which Trust Indicators Really Matter In Today’s Ecommerce?
Giving money to a faceless, location-less website for a product you can neither see nor touch takes a small leap of trust. Here’s a quick, useful take on what your ecommerce website should include to make hitting “place order” a bit easier. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Have good design, good testimonials + reviews, and then everything else.
The Seven Commandments of Internal Linking that Will Improve Content Marketing SEO
Over the top headline, but straightforward and very useful tactics. Internal linking is one of the easiest to implement SEO improvements on your site. Neil Patel outlines how to do it well. Check it out here…
Takeaway: Internal links improve navigation of your site for both humans & search engines. Learning & implementing best practices is low hanging fruit for your on page SEO strategies.
What is Content Strategy?
Yes – 9 out of 10 of articles with this title are awful, fluff pieces. But this one (by the awesome folks at Distilled) includes actual examples, questions to ask, and steps to take. Now – this articles will only really be useful if you open a Word/Google doc and type out actual notes relevant to your site/business as you read it. So – you can check it out here…
Takeaway: Content strategy is not just buying into content marketing – it’s a vision and specific goal that ties every thing you publish together.
Death To SEO Copywriting
If you are in charge of writing content for your website – this article is a must read. Copywriting & SEO has a long, complicated backstory – which the author covers perfectly. And unlike all too many articles like this, he actually outlines what you should do to have copy that attracts, compels & sells visitors (from any channel). Go read it here…
Takeaway: Don’t write for keywords for keywords’ sake. Write for the questions people are asking useing those keywords with clear, detailed, descriptive content.
A Social Media Marketing Strategy That Isn’t Focused On “Creating Compelling Content”
Social Media Marketing does not equal “post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc” – or so argues Tommy Walker on Conversion XL. If you’re exhausted & skeptical of the trite & typical “Write compelling headlines, use interesting photos, follow “influencers””…this post is for you. It’s a bit of a windup, but the end is well worth it. Go read it here…
Takeaway: Social media marketing is not about broadcasting – it’s about the research, feedback & interaction from very specific audiences. In other words, marketing through what happens to be called “social media.”
You Won’t Remember That Infographic
Infographics used to be (still are?) the go to content form for shares & links. AJ Kohn has a worthwhile read on how they fit into the bigger battle for people’s attention & if they are worth your while. Read it here…
Takeaway: Because of how people remember things, infographics are a poor investment from a branding & marketing perspective
How to Optimize Your Older Blog Content for Long Tail Conversion
Most of the focus on content & blogging looks at what to create next. But your old content is still there, and sometimes it just needs a simple refresh. Unbounce makes the argument & shows how to do just that. Read it here…
Takeaway: Look at your old content in Google Analytics, could you drive more traffic simply by refreshing it?
In Defense Of The Popup
There are few things in digital marketing as divisive as pop ups. One camp swears they do wonders for your conversion & sign up rates. One camp swears that they make every one of your visitors secretly loathe you. It’s rare to find a clear eyed look at pop ups, but I read it this week. You should go read it here as well…
Takeaway: Love them or hate them, there is an argument that you should find a respectful version of a pop up or slide in element to test with your audience.
Definitive Guide to Shopping Cart Abandonment
If you run an ecommerce store figuring out shopping cart abandonment is the highest ROI marketing activity you can solve. But it’s also quite complicated. Crazy Egg published a “guide to guides” that will help you navigate to the post that solves your specific problem. Read it here…
Takeaway: Identifying shopping cart abandonment should be straightforward in Analytics, but solving it can be a different story
The philosophy of great customer service
CD Baby is one of the most successful online stores for music, and was built with a very different marketing ethos. Derek Sivers talks about how respect for the customer is built into everything. Not explicitly tactical, but a very worthwhile read nonetheless. Read it here…
Takeaway: Customer/reader/client service is part of marketing. Be overly generous and treat it like something that generates profit.
How I got 250k+ views on my infographic in 1 week
Last week I linked to an article about why you should not invest in infographics. The thing is that infographics are never really going to go away. If you or your team is going to do one – here’s a guide on how to do it right (these principles really apply to any piece of content you’re planning) . Read it here…
Takeaway: Even if people may or may not remember your brand, if you’re going to do one – you might as well get maximum coverage by going niche, mentioning people & brands – and spending time promoting it.
How to Track Your Marketing Campaigns in Google Analytics
There are some topics that are perennially useful because they are very essential…but not everyone knows about them…and the ones who do know about them, don’t implement. Shopify posted a well-done, understandable guide to tracking your campaigns in Google Analytics. You should read it here…
Takeaway: Don’t just track your campaigns – track them correctly.
The Landing Page Optimization Guide You Wish You’ve Always Had
This piece is from January – but I was spending time re-reading it this week. Amazing resource – read it here…
Takeaway: Using a landing page for your ads will put you ahead of most advertisers, but learning to think & plan it is worth even more.
New Free Tool: KeywordTool.io
For keyword research, my go to tool duo is UberSuggest and Keyword Planner. KeywordTool.io is a promising tool that I’m really liking that gives you the best keywords with fewer hiccups. Try it out here…
Features, Not Benefits!
The sales saying “talk about the benefits, not features” has become cliche – but it can go too far and actually hurt your marketing. Sacha Greif has a solid, short take on how you should be explaining your product/service. Read it here…
Takeaway: Emphasize benefits in your website copy – but don’t forget to say how those benefits happen (and what the product/service does)
5 Characteristics Of High Converting Headlines
Headlines – they aren’t just for blog posts, and they are often the only thing people read. There’s plenty of “headline formula” posts out there, but this one by the always solid ConversionXL is really worthwhile. Read it here…
Takeaway: Use numbers with around eight words if people are familiar & between 16-18 if they’re not. Use negative words, or at least few positive superlatives. Add a subheadline & be very, very clear.
5 Tips for Connecting with a Cold Email
Whether for PR, guest blog, co-marketing, link building, sales, etc – so much goes into persuading via email. Well-thought out piece on doing emailing well. Read it here…
Takeaway: Make your email not cold, make it brief, make it benefit them, make it fun, and find something you have in common
The Ultimate Process Of Creating Effective Banner Ads
Banner ads – the form of online advertising that has incredible staying power – are often worse than ineffective. But that’s because so many are done so poorly. Here’s how to create banner ads that might actually…work. Read it here…
Takeaway: Banner ads with unique copy, call to action, creative & contrast win.
How I Suddenly Increased My Link Clicks by 700%
This article is a purple unicorn – a social media guide with tactics that pass the common sense & cliche tests (ie, it goes beyond “include images” or “find relevant hashtags”). Good read if you’re exploring better ways to market via social channels. Read it here…
Takeaway: Share only high quality links people would only find via your feed & provide a way to mention someone who will pay attention to you (ie, stop tweeting random NY Times articles and more of small/mid-level blogs you read – hint, hint ;) ). Interact frequently with a specific subset of your following.
How Long Should Your Pages Be?
If you’re looking to improve your site & page copy – this piece is solid. It’s long, but I promise you won’t realize it’s long and you’ll come away with specific ideas on how to write better copy on your site. Read it here…
Takeaway: Your page should be as long as it takes to explain the problem & convince your visitor – and those two things all depends on how aware that visitor is of their problem. More unaware = more story to tell = longer copy.
Ten Mistakes I Made Running Two Online Stores (And How You Can Avoid Them)
It’s always good to learn from others’ mistakes before making them yourself, especially when they are as specific and universal as this piece. Good read particularly for online store owners. Read it here…
Takeaway: Have a specific plan & be brutally honest about it (ie, are your numbers too rosy; can you actually create the content you’re planning for).
Building Better Content By Improving Upon Your Competitors
Few things are as boring but effective as figuring out what your competitors are doing…then doing it better. This guide runs through an SEO approach to it. It’s a bit technical, but note how everything (social, content, keyword research, etc) ties together. Read it here…
Takeaway: Look at everything your competitors are doing (ie, don’t look at their social/keywords/etc in a silo), and take everything to the next level of better.
The Broken Art of Company Blogging (and the Ignored Metric that Could Save Us All)
Nothing attracts crickets like a bad blog; and nothing can mislead you on success metrics like social shares. Or so argues Dan Shure in an insightful post over at Moz. Plenty of specific ideas you can measure, and steps you can take w/ your website. Read it here…
Takeaway: Use comments as a key performance indicator of engagement for your blog – and focus on getting attention & interaction over shares.
StumbleUpon is the forgotten darling of social discovery. Before Reddit and around the time of Digg, StumbleUpon was huge. And just as Digg can still drive traffic, StumbleUpon can cost-effectively drive a lot of traffic. The key is to make sure you use it well. AJ Kohn explains how. Read it here…
Takeaway: Try out StumbleUpon to drive cheap traffic, but be sure to tag the audience to remarket to later (when they aren’t stumbling around). Understand the audience – similar to my Reddit advertising recommendations.
Convert More Visitors By Improving Your Internal Site Search
Your internal site search is a goldmine of information. ConversionXL shows how to make the most of it. Read it here…
Takeaway: Set up and make your site search a key site feature. It’s the one place where you can get keyword data – be sure to use it.
Five Shocking Facts That Will Change Your Entire Approach to Social Media
Yes, the title is fluffy & cliche…but this article had some very useful introductory ideas. A good, quick read. Read it here…
Takeaway(s): Email drives conversions. YouTube drives engagement. Facebook is annoying but still there. Pinterest can be an incredible long-term investment (if your website fits), and Twitter is ridiculously time-sensitive.
Creating Personas for PPC
Understanding who you are marketing to vs. what you are marketing is a key concept in building any website or business. In my Welcome Email, I specifically recommend Moz’s great guide to using personas in that process. This week Portent published a short, but useful guide to personas for PPC, which are slightly different because you get to write custom copy & calls to action for every audience. It also has some good research sources. Read it here…
Takeaway: Don’t advertise your products – advertise the benefits your audiences want, and customize copy & calls to action around that.
Speaking of calls to action…
6 Proven Ways to Boost the Conversion Rates of Your Call-to-Action Buttons
Buttons, buttons, buttons. It’s what we want our visitors to click. There’s an insane amount of research that goes into them – including the copy. Joanna Wiebe runs through some best practices for the button copy so it’s not an afterthought. Read it here…
Takeaway: Generic is bad. Overwrought is bad. Write a concise message based on what the visitor is getting (think Amazon’s – “Checkout with our secure server”).
Targeting Your Audience Earlier in the Buying Process
But it’s not all about getting your audience to click – they have to get onto your site in the first place. Here’s a video with some worthwhile ideas on getting them on your site before they even want your product. Watch it here…
Takeaway: The business that generates awareness for a need is in the lead when your customer starts the research phase.
Nobody Wants “High Quality”
Generic copy – it’s convenient and oh so easy to create. The problem is that search engines don’t get it, and your customers don’t want to buy it. Fun, insightful, short post by Joel Klettke. Read it here…
Takeaway: If your product/service is fast, simple, easy, affordable, and high-quality…you’re doing it wrong. Be detailed.
How To Make Your Local Landing Pages 100% Less Awful
Another from Joel Klettke – on the same theme as “High-Quality” – but looking at local landing pages. When I read this – my mind immediately jumped to generic manufacturer descriptions on product pages, so I think this is a worthwhile read for any site owner on giving the reader what they really want. Read it here…
Takeaway: Extra effort, detail, and creativity will go miles for local & product pages.
Top Seven Targeting Tactics for the Google Display Network
Google Display Network – the wasteland of so much perfectly good money (at least for me) with so much theoretically amazing opportunity. Here’s a solid, quick, understandable overview by Portent on how to do it right. Read it here…
Takeaway: Losing money on GDN? You’re probably targeting wrong. Also note the quick bonus here.
3 Super-Actionable Keyword Research Tips to Try Right Now
I do a lot of writing on keyword research, but there are literally hundreds if not thousands of ways to do it. Here’s a quick read with a couple useful, simple ideas I forget about. Read it here…
Takeaway: Use wildcards in Google Suggest and plug in competitors to Keyword Planner.
The 6 Step Guide to Getting Free Press for Your Startup
Public relations – that seemingly magical process by which other companies and websites get mentioned in news articles without having to pay for an advertisement. It’s actually not magical, and more of a process of having a cool story to pitch, and pitching it well to the right person. If you’re curious about DIY PR – OkDork has published a very straightforward, detailed guide to doing PR right (without the $$$ agency). Read it here…
Takeaway: Have a cool story to tell. Tell it concisely & well to the right person at the right time. Planning is key.
Why Nike.com’s Product Pages Are More Persuasive Than Yours (& everyone else’s too)
Instead of trying to apply vague principles, sometimes it helps to just find someone who’s doing it right and straight-up copy them. ConversionXL did a very detailed breakdown on what ecommerce sites are doing well – and how you should copy them. Read it here…
Takeaway: Keep your product pages (actually webpages in general) minimal, nice-looking, detailed, but to the point. Or just copy Nike/Zappos/REI
These Are Twitter’s Biggest Secrets
Sensational headline…but fascinating information for anyone who uses Twitter for marketing or building an audience. It’s written by the awesome folks at Buffer. Worth a quick read here…
Takeaway: “Avoid negative sentiments; Inform, don’t meform; Boost social proof; Stay on topic; Write well and avoid hashtag abuse; Switch from broadcast to direct tweets”
15 Unforgiving Landing Page Critiques by Conversion Experts Oli Gardner, Peep Laja and Joanna Wiebe
This one is a bit long and involved (with and over the top theme), but if you have time and have a big focus on designing or writing landing pages – then it’s a fascinating watch/read – especially for their thought process on changing webpages. Read/watch it here…
You’re Doing AdWords Wrong (Here’s How to Make It Right)
AdWords is a maze of potential awesomeness if you know how to use it. Best practices go a long way, but picking up tips and tricks from advertisers in the trenches is what can really lift your campaign into profit. I found myself re-reading this quick, useful list of tips from Unbounce this week. Read it here…
Takeaway: Go as specific as you can go given your profit & time. Better relevance & better detail always wins in PPC.
The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building
Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a mainstay of the digital marketing industry, but the key component of any SEO strategy – links – really deserves a deeper dive given its importance, nuances, and risk of penalties for doing it wrong. If you are using or exploring SEO as a traffic medium at all, you should give this guide a read. Read it here…
Takeaway: Links still matter, a lot – but how and where you get them matter even more. Take a few minutes and understand how to dedicate your effort, time, creativity, and money to getting links.
How to Create Evergreen Content that Builds Your Business
Investing in content that lasts is a recurring theme of this newsletter for a reason because it works, especially if you use a straight-forward guide like this one. Read it here…
Takeaway: Understand who you are writing for and what you are answering – and then invest in content that will last.
10 Phrases You Should Never Use On Your Homepage
Short, very needed article title. Read, then go and edit your homepage. Read it here…
Takeaway: “Your homepage is the lobby where all your customers convene to decide if they like you or not” – invest effort in not being boring.
Ecommerce bonus: How to Capture High Quality Product Photos With Your SmartPhone
Amazing product images are a key way to improve sales – but often high-quality photography can come with an eye-watering price tag. I bookmarked this really detailed guide to DIY product photography. Great resource – read it here…
Takeaway: Invest time & effort in improving your product images by learning how to use your smartphone camera better.
Generating Better Content Ideas
Takeaway: Whether you are learning from your competitors; elaborating and expounding other people’s ideas/concepts; learning from other industries, or any of others Jason’s ideas, there’s always a new angle or new idea to create good website content that’s actually different & fresh.
“But I Have to Buy Links, Ads, and Exposure, Because My Customers Won’t Amplify My Content”
Sometimes (actually a lot of the time) you’re in an industry where customers or website owners simply don’t share or talk about websites/businesses they use. In a really well-done video, Rand Fishkin of Moz tackles this problem and gives some great suggestions. Watch it here…
Takeaway: When creating website content, think about the people who might share it, link to it or mention it as a separate audience from your customers. Develop an angle to market your site & content to them so that they will link/share/mention…which will then in turn get you in front of your customers.
Stop Wasting Time With Low CTR Strategies
Great AdWords campaigns are often built on a vicious or virtuous feedback cycle with your Quality Score. It determines how much you pay, where you rank, and how profitable your campaign it. It is highly influenced by click through rate, which can often become a self-fulfilling cycle. If you run or are experimenting with PPC – this is a solid read by Larry Kim. Read it here…
Takeaway: Better ads with better click throughs are worth the investment vs. burn & churn low click through rate ads
6 Banner Ad Split Tests To Try Right Now
As I’ve mentioned before, banner ads are interesting to me because they hold so much theoretical potential…but nearly always fall very flat. One way to improve them is better creative. I loved this post simply because it has lots of real examples to look at, examine, and swipe. Read it here…
Takeaway: Run all sorts of variations for banner ads & test everything about them
Bonus! How To Pay $560 for 5 Website Visits (ie, How to Buy a Print Ad)
I recently went through the process of buying a print ad to advertise my website setup guide. It did not go well. But I learned a ton of lessons that I wrote up in this piece. Read it here…
Takeaway: Hmm – they’re in the article :)
Is the Seemingly Humble Button More Powerful Than the Headline?
Joanna Wiebe is the authority on copywriting & A/B testing on websites. In this post, she walks through several tests where working on your button copy is more powerful than working on your headlines. Read it here…
Takeaway: Headlines are powerful, but not as powerful as your call to action button copy.
How to Use Facebook for Targeted Content Promotion
Facebook offers a lot of ways to spend your ad money. In my welcome email, I always refer to this introduction to buying FB ads. This article by Paddy Moogan details an advanced, but interesting option called Custom Audiences. Read it here…
Takeaway: Instead of defining your own targeting, Custom Audiences allows you to create targeting based on the audience you already have.
3 Tips for Better Product Descriptions on Websites
Mainly for ecommerce storeowners, but a very well-done, practical piece on the all-essential product page copy. Read it here…
Takeaway: Product page copy should answer questions in a concise, consistent way across your entire selection.
Create A YouTube Traffic Jam With These 4 Simple Optimization Tips
Overwrought title, but solid, introductory information if you are planning or optimizing your YouTube channel. Read it here…
Takeaway: Provide YouTube & your viewers as much detailed & descriptive content, meta data & annotations as possible.
Bonus: StumbleUpon Advertising: Choosing Engaged or Unengaged Visitors
I ran a test to see if paying extra for “engaged” StumbleUpon visitors is worth it. This past week I published a rundown on the results. Read it here…
Takeaway: In most all cases, it’s worth the extra $0.05 for engaged visitors.
I sent people coconuts and got 50% conversion
Self-explanatory title, great story with useful lessons. Read it here…
Takeaway: Very often, being different pays more than “best practices”
Why Keyword Themes +Modified Broad Match = Winning PPC Strategy
AdWords – so much possibility with so many confusing options. Here’s a fabulous rundown of a campaign structure that will work (with downloadable examples)! Read it here…
Takeaway: Use modified broad match with negative keywords and well-researched keyword themes to get an effective return.
The Marketer’s Guide to Facebook Graph Search
Graph search was a very over-hyped feature (once called a “Google-killer”). It passed through the trough of disappointment, and now marketers are starting to figure out really cool uses for it. I found this guide to be one of the best. Read it here…
Takeaway: Spend a couple minutes getting used to Graph Search – and integrate it into your research process for personas, ads, content, PR and more.
4 Strategies to Drive More E-Commerce Sales With Your Facebook Ads
I actually had a couple reader questions about Facebook ads and ecommerce, so when I saw this post by Unbounce, I thought it would be especially relevant. Good, quick read. Read it here…
Takeaway: Personalized copy, pre-qualifying offer, easy proposal, and dedicated page are 4 keys to making FB ads actually work.
Bonus Podcast Recommendation
How a Mixergy fan built a profitable e-commerce site – with Jordan Gal
This interview with the owner of a solar light ecommerce company was loaded with amazing lessons. If you’re into podcasts & have an hour to spare – listen to it here…
5 Hacks for Creating and Promoting the Right Content
The first couple of these are fairly shallow, but the last “hack” makes this post very useful. Read it here…
Takeaway: Use Google, Twitter & Amazon search to find out exactly what customers love and hate about competitor’s and competitor content.
Everyone is Not a Demographic: A Guide to Target Markets for Small Businesses
If you’re a long-time subscriber, this article covers a recurring theme. Either way, a solid, useful take with specific examples. Read it here…
Takeaway: No matter how you define your ideal person – you are selling to a person, not selling a product
Using Google Consumer Surveys for Conversion Optimization
A detailed guide to using a very underestimated tool. Read it here…
Takeaway: Speaking of defining your market – Google Surveys allows you to conduct normally expensive research very affordably.
Content Quality Score: Google’s Best Kept Secret for Rankings
In SEO, most of the focus is on keywords & links. This detailed, and more advanced SEO article goes through Google’s underestimated content quality scoring and how you can turn it to your advantage. Read it here…
Takeaway: Google all but definitely factors user engagement into its algorithm. Make a classy, useful site that you would want to spend time on to rank better.
How Some Companies Succeed at Converting Visitors yet Fail to Earn Great Customers
Just like you can easily create an ad that gets clicks…but not sales, sometimes you can have a website that gets a few sales here and there…but never creates long-term, repeat customers. Moz had that problem and has some useful thoughts on it. Watch it here…
Takeaway: Just because you got the purchase doesn’t mean you’ve won a customer – figure out what their actual journey to purchase looks like.
10 Outreach Best Practices That Separate Success from Failure
So you’re promoting your product/content/website/story via email outreach. How do you make sure you’re not wasting time sending email into the void? Ross Hudgens at Siege Media has some ideas – read it here…
Takeaway: Quickly personalize at much as possible – and follow up.
E-Commerce Link Building — The Challenge That Won’t Go Away
Good, editorial links matter more than ever in getting your ecommerce (or any website) to rank. But how do you get these links to a straight-up commercial site? Eric Ward has 4 great ideas and specific tips. Read it here…
Takeaway: Make stories about other people (not yourself) and tell them about it.
Pay Per Click Advertising Explained by a Non-PPC Person
The more features Google/Facebook/Bing add to their PPC platforms, the more daunting it can be for beginners. Here’s a solid, quick rundown of what PPC really is and how to use it. Read it here…
Takeaway: PPC can be as complex or as simple as you want or need it to be.
The Social Media Advertising Beginner Guide for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
If you decide to give social advertising a test, it present a very confusing world of options. This guide by Buffer is a good, bookmarkable round-up of your options. Read it here…
Takeaway: Social advertising offers high risk but high reward as long as you understand the options.
For email, Fibonacci is your friend
How long before you wear out your welcome (on either email or retargeting)? This article was interesting and its idea is worth a test in my book. Read it here…
Takeaway: Every email or retargeting touch point should come 2x the length between the previous contacts – 1 days, 2 days, 4 days, 8 days, etc for less customer burnout.
Inspiration: 9 Ecommerce About Pages That Are Killing It
If you look at your visitor flow chart in Google Analytics, your humble About page is probably one of your top visited pages. Here’s some great examples of companies using it well. Read it here…
Takeaway: Your About page is one place where customers are looking to specifically learn about you – use it to tell your story & benefits well.
22 Marketing Ideas For Small Businesses With Limited Budgets
Self-explanatory title. Usually these are total marketing fluff, but this list by Wordstream had enough nuggets that I thought it was really useful. Read it here…
Takeaway: Creativity always beats money.
Growing a Social Following from Nothing: My Social Media Strategy
There are plenty of platitudes & vague advice about building a social following that is not particularly helpful for someone starting from 0. Matthew Barby wrote this incredibly detailed case study with tools, tactics & strategy to actually build one. Great reference piece. Read it here…
Takeaway: Choose the right channels, look at your competitors, make your content different but engage the same way, build off your early followers.
We Deleted Our Facebook Page. Here’s Why.
Great take on a counter-intuitive strategy. And no, it doesn’t contradict the link above. Read it here…
Takeaway: Success requires focus, so choosing the right channels is key. Don’t do every channel just because that’s “expected.”
This 10 Second Exercise Could Save You Hours of Writing Time
I don’t have a natural turn of phrase, so when I come across a fool proof copywriting formula, I bookmark it. Read it here…
Takeaway: Your USP should be: We provide [your product/service] to [key customer group] who want to [main customer objective] without [key customer pain point]
Are Kids Killing Your Display Campaigns? How to Exclude Mobile Apps in AdWords
I’ve mentioned (and experienced) the risks of sloppy Google Display targeting before. Very good reference piece for setting up a campaign. Read it here…
Takeaway: Targeting that you exclude is as important as targeting you include.
Bonus for Anyone Who Listens to Podcasts
I have launched the new Bamboo Chalupa SEO & Digital Marketing Podcast with Brett Snyder of Knucklepuck Digital (and my former boss). It runs on the same philosophy as this newsletter – to be the straightforward, useful, classy podcast that I would want to listen to. It’s in the early days – so I’d love to get your feedback on the 4 episodes up thus far. Thank you!
How to Find Your Messages in Reviews on Amazon and TripAdvisor
Instead of guessing what problems and objections to address in your website copy, what if you could find out exactly what those are in your customers’ words…and then mirror their exact language in your solution? Here’s a detailed walkthrough (with a video!) on how to do just that. Read it here…
Takeaway: Find customer reviews of your type of product/service. Identify exact problems/objections/like. Mirror their language in your web copy.
Scaling Geo-Targeted Local Landing Pages That Really Rank and Convert
This video outlines how to best create pages that target a local area – even if you are a web-based business. This is a huge opportunity for niche web businesses trying to do more business in nearby metro areas – and great explanation on how to do it. Read it here…
Takeaway: Identify if your business is locally-biased in Google. Figure out searcher intent. Create unique pages in a scalable format for all the geographic areas you want to target. Avoid just search + replace [city name].
Stock Photography vs. Real Photos: Can’t We Use Both?
As users, we all probably recognize how much better sites are with unique photography. But as site owners – unique photography is tough (and expensive). I loved this breakdown and potential middle path. Read it here…
Takeaway: Try using stock photography as a foundation, but apply quick edits to make it your own.
9 Tips To Stretch a Small PPC Budget
AdWords isn’t something just for big websites. Here’s a very concise 9 point list to get the best results from PPC. Read it here…
Takeaway: Focus on the search network with specific terms where you have high quality score. Ruthlessly pause & revise terms that don’t convert.
We Analyzed 8 Banner Ads of 8 Great Brands Using Follow, That’s What We Learned
It’s one thing to be told what a good banner ad is – it’s another to see it. Great post from my new favorite tool Follow.net. Read it here…
Takeaway: Lots – see first paragraph of the article.
Pinterest marketing for your business
I’ve posted links to solid Pinterest strategies before, but this is a good write up from a business that I would not have expected to be active on Pinterest. Read it here…
Takeaway: Pinterest is still a frontier network in some categories. To the creative and early adopters go the wins.
More than Keywords: 7 Concepts of Advanced On-Page SEO
Takeaway: Target keyword themes to comprehensively cover the topic and associated questions in a detailed, descriptive (non-deceitful) way.
How We Earned 300+ Links and 2,500+ Shares on a Single Post in Less Than 30 Days
I’m a fan of detailed case studies that break down the “magic” of “going viral” – and this is one of those posts. Read it here…
Takeaway: Target a keyword to guide your creation and promote it to the people that it would make their lives easier.
Google Analytics 102: How To Set Up Goals, Segments & Events in Google Analytics
The more you learn about Analytics, the more you realize that you don’t know. It also becomes that much more useful. Good breakdown of features beyond “how many visitors did I get?” Read it here…
Takeaway: “It’s more important to reach the people who count than to count the people you reach” – that’s what Analytics can show you.
How do you increase [Facebook] traffic by 700%?
This post is a bit over the top, but I love it when anyone shows how to succeed by simply being different. Read it here…
Takeaway: Be different.
8 Easy Steps To Writing Kick Ass Landing Pages
Self-explanatory title. Great deck & lesson. Read it here…
Takeaway: Copywriting is a skillset that can be learned – not some work of magic.
Is this really what Seth Godin meant by permission marketing?
A bit of a thought-piece, but very insightful on what to consider whenever you are implementing a new marketing tactic. Read it here…
Takeaway: Just because a marketing tactic “works” doesn’t mean it’s best for the humans on your site – or your long-term brand.
6 Major Lessons Learned as Editor of ConversionXL
ConversionXL is one of my most frequently recommended blogs. This overview from their outgoing editor has some really solid takeaways on web marketing. Read it here…
Takeaway(s): “Conversion Optimization” Isn’t About Green Or Red Buttons; There Is No Failure, Only Learning; Incremental Gains Are Far More Realistic; Case Studies Are Often Big Fat Liars; Only Benchmark Off Your Own Data; Stop Trying To Optimize For Stupid Crap That Doesn’t Matter.
Complete Guide to Content Remarketing: How to Win Friends, Influence People & Double Your Leads
Great rundown of the the magic SEO/Content/PPC formula. Read it here…
Takeaway: Write amazing blog content about topics potential customers are researching, then remarket to them.
When Is a Blog the Right Form of Content Marketing?
Good content is not always a blog. And contrary to what you may hear – a blog is not for every business, so argues Isla Mcketta at Moz. Read it here…
Takeaway: Don’t blog just because someone told you to or because that’s what websites are supposed to have. Have a goal in mind – and question whether it’s the best time & money investment to achieve that goal.
Be Intentional about Your Content & SEO Goals or Face Certain Failure
If you are trying to grow organic traffic by investing in content, then this 13 minute video by Rand Fiskin is very worthwhile. Great explanation of different types of content & how they relate to different goals. Read/watch it here…
Takeaway: Intentionally define reasons & goals for every piece of content you create before you invest in it.
How to Make Your First $1,000 With Reddit Ads
Reddit is a huge, but very tough marketing opportunity. I’ve written about advertising on Reddit before and focused mainly on branding and multi-touch sales. This article is a fabulous walk-through of how to do direct response advertising on Reddit. Read it here…
Takeaway: Reddit advertising can be used for direct response if you make the offer personal, transparent, highly targeted & very responsive.
We Tested All the Best Advice to Get More Clicks on Facebook. Here’s What Worked.
If you use Facebook as a marketing channel, you really have to go above and beyond to get reach (but when you do, there’s huge traffic). Great experiment on what’s working on Facebook now. Read it here…
Takeaway: Share link posts, share in the evenings, create a main image/graphic for your post.
How to Use Autoresponders to Accelerate Your Growth
Autoresponders are possibly the most underrated & most effective online marketing tactic ever. If done well, they are quite magical. Here’s a solid overview of what they are and how to make use of them. Read it here… (be sure to also look at The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Email Autoresponder Course linked to in the post).
Takeaway: Autoresponders are low tech, not super sexy and require upfront planning and investment, but once in place, nothing can beat them for cost & effectiveness.
Allies, not rockstars: Influencer research for us mortals
Not every small business can get an A-list celebrity to talk about them. But with some research, you can get some solid allies on your side. Read it here…
Takeaway: Use social & retail sites to find small but vocal & prolific people who might be interested in a conversation about your ideas.
How to Make Your Confirmation Emails Not Suck (and Make Money)
Unloved, boring & transactional – confirmation emails don’t have to be that way. In fact, they can be your chance to stand out & develop new fans. Another great piece by ConversionXL. Read it here…
Takeaway: Give your confirmation emails a little love & thought.
Ultimate Guide to Finding, Customizing, & Using Free Images for Blogs
So you spend hours researching & writing a blog post, and you want it to stand out. A custom image will work wonders, but (if you’re like me) you’re not a graphic designer and one is out of the budget for a blog post. Here’s a uniquely well-done piece on exactly what to do instead. Read it here…
Takeaway: A few tools, searching, and basic design overlays will take your blog posts & sharing metrics a very long way.
Where Your Most Valuable Website Visitors Come From
Quick read, but one that makes some good points about valuing your traffic and defining what to focus on. Read it here…
Takeaway: Sometimes your most valuable traffic is not what you expect. Dig deep in your own analytics to see where sales & leads actually come from.
From Zero to 35,000: How I Built A Big Email List Exclusively About Books I Liked
Ryan Holiday is one of my favorite writers and a brilliant marketing guy. He’s built a huge email list and shares dozens of insights into the what, whys and hows of growing that list (also, as a subscriber of his I actually modeled this newsletter off his). Read it here…
Takeaway: Your email list is your most valuable marketing asset. Grow your readership and treat them well.
7 Steps to Master the Google Display Network
There are few places with so much opportunity for waste and profit as the Google Display Network. I’ve been running some test campaigns recently and found this short guide to be very useful. Read it here…
Takeaway: Start with remarketing. Optimize as carefully as you would a search campaign. Don’t let kids playing games eat up your budget.
Facebook Likes Don’t Matter Anymore
Organic reach on Facebook has reached nearly Zero. But that’s not the end of the story. There’s still opportunity – you just have to change your thinking & strategy according to Matthew Barby. Read it here…
Takeaway: Facebook is not a free platform, but with new retargeting options, it can still be a great channel for qualified traffic.
Hacking the Press: Clever Ways to Get Free Press Coverage with Zero Budget
A great press write-up can mean amazing benefits in short term referral traffic, brand awareness and long-term organic traffic. I always find PR how tos interesting and worthwhile – especially ones like this with templates and examples. Read it here…
Takeaway: Take time to research and customize your initial contact and eventual pitch.
How To Use 11+ Free Tools To Find Prequalified Content Ideas
Developing content is a big investment of time & money. I wrote this very detailed post on how to find out exactly what topics you should cover that will give you the best odds of generating traffic & sales. Read it here…
Takeaway: Don’t brainstorm – and please do not guess your next content topic. Find your audience and find out exactly what content they are looking for.
How to Use Magic, Attention Management and Persuasion’s Darker Arts
This article is pretty advanced, but fascinating. Even if you can’t implement higher-level copywriting tactics, it pays to know the possibilities and how it works. Read it here…
Takeaway: Taking copywriting to the next level is about managing attention.
How Can the Value of Top-of-Funnel Channels be Measured
So you did a big PR push or you bought a bunch of billboards, or maybe you spoke a several conferences – how on earth do you measure the effect on your sales? Great explanation of a tough topic. Watch it here…
Takeaway: Segment your PR by expected benefit on a certain segment (indusrty vertical, demographic or geography, etc) or by channel/product. Don’t measure by doing it for a little bit, then stopping and guessing.
Facebook Remarketing: 8 Effective Website Custom Audience Strategies
Showing ads to people on Facebook who have visited your website. It works for Google, and Jon Loomer gives some tips on how to do it right with Facebook. Read it here…
Takeaway: Make sure you have the Facebook code snippet on your site so you can test this out! It’s the same principles as Google remarketing, but on a huge platform.
15 Landing Page Trends from Rising Companies, Designers, and Our 25,000+ Users
If you want to get a sense of what’s working for other websites to drive leads & customers – here’s a super-descriptive write up of several trends with data to back it up. Read it here…
Takeaway: Lots in the article, but I found “Target verticals, not features” and “Feature Prestige AND Everyday customer testimonials” to be the most interesting.
7 Effective Ecommerce Product Pages: How to Turn Visitors into Customers
So much time, energy & money is spent on ecommerce store homepages, when I’d argue that the product page is where it’s at. Here’s some great ideas with detailed examples on improving them. Read it here…
Takeaway: Be very thorough; be uncluttered; be straightforward (applies even to non-ecommerce sites as well IMO).
How to Avoid the Unrealistic Expectations SEOs Often Create
SEO – the promise of “free organic” traffic – has the potential to create lots of high expectations. Great overview of the challenge & process whether you are a DIYer, purchaser of SEO services, or provider of SEO services. Watch it here…
Takeaway: SEO is a very powerful, but long term channel. It’s also no longer a keywords + links = $$$ kind of game.
How To Get Awesome Customer Testimonials – Fast!
Customer testimonials are extremely valuable, but come with 2 catches: either they never come or they are overwrought and not normal-sounding. Joel Klettke has a solid solution. Read it here…
Takeaway: Ask for specific feedback – then ask for permission to use as a testimonial.
7 counterintuitive things we avoided doing to grow 10X in a year
Sometimes growing and being effective is more about what you don’t do rather than what you do. Lots of details and specific takeaways in this quick read. Read it here…
Takeaway: Do 1 thing and do it well before exploring other options.
How to Get More Landing Page Conversions with a Simple Design Change
Good user experience & usability is easy to spot when it already exists. Here’s a great article on developing UX with a simple, but important concept. Read it here…
Takeaway: Pick a single landing page goal; make that element “visually heavy” and judge the result through users’ (not design) eyes.
Information Architecture for SEO
Speaking of usability, here’s a video that walks you through building an “information architecture” that works for both users and Googlebot. Worth the 10 min watch if you’re working on your website layout & architecture. Watch it here…
Takeaway: Use broad to narrow categorization; have a set of permanent, evergreen pages that are linked to from new content; only create new pages when the intent/purpose of the page/keyword is unique.
Viral Marketing Case Study: How a Brand New Blog Generated 17,584 Visitors In One Day
I re-came across this post this past week. It’s a bit hyperbolic, but has incredibly detailed examples with screenshots for researching, building & promoting a new page or blog post that will generate visitors. Read it here…
Takeaway: Find content that has already done well. Make that content incredibly better. Reverse engineering why the content did well, then build a promotion plan around your findings.
What We Learned in 2014: An Honest Assessment of the Vero Blog
A very insightful and useful list of lessons learned from a brand doing it right. Read it here…
Takeaway: Invest in detailed posts, design, friends, experiments and data.
How A 4-Step-Amazon-Hack Helped Me Convert Visitors Into Paying Customers Insanely Fast
Short but brilliant post on mining Amazon reviews for product and copywriting ideas. Read it here…
Takeaway: Go where your customers are talking about your products, competitors or industry (that could be Amazon, social, Yelp, forums, etc). Solve their exact problems with your products and mirror their language in your copy.
The Massive Ranking Factor Too Many SEOs are Ignoring
It’s been a quite a while since SEO was purely about keywords + links. A solid breakdown of how engagement affects your rankings. Watch it here…
Takeaway: Google sees the click through rates on search results, and how many people come back to them. Your website design, layout, copy, trust factors and anything that makes people stay or go impacts your organic traffic.
Remarketing – does it work?
“Do remarketing” is a digital marketing best practice to the point of cliche. Interesting take on small actual test to see if remarketing is actually worth it. Read it here…
Takeaway: As much as you can, only use best practices as a starting point. Being different, testing, and getting real data from your own website matters more.