12 Types of Facebook Live Videos that You Could Create to Help You Grow Your Blog and Business

facebook live

This week we’re taking a deep dive into Facebook Live Video and how you can use it as a blogger to deepen relationships with your readers, build your profile, extend your reach on Facebook and much more.

Yesterday I shared 10 benefits of giving Facebook Live video a go and tomorrow I’m going to give you over 25 practical tips on how to use it effectively – but today I want to show you a variety of different types of Facebook Live videos that I’ve tried and that I’m seeing others use.

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I’ve embedded a number of videos into this post – all were shot using FB live.

7 Types of Facebook Live Videos I have Created

I’m still relatively new to using Facebook Live having only done regular ones this last month – but already I’ve tried a number of formats of Facebook Live videos including:

1. Ask me Anything (AMA)

By far the most successful (in terms of reach, views and engagement) attempts I’ve had so far have been when I’ve jumped onto FB Live simply to take questions. I’ve done this the previous two Friday nights and on both occasions had a great time but have also had some really encouraging feedback.

I have the advantage here of having enough followers to get a decent amount of people join the session to be able to generate enough questions to keep me going however a smaller page could also do this if they promoted the AMA in advance and/or if they asked readers for questions in advance so that they had a few to keep them going.

If you’ve got a spare hour…. here’s the last one I did:

2. Behind the Scenes

The day we launched tickets for this year’s ProBlogger Training Event I jumped on Facebook live during the launch (here’s the replay).

I did this partly to build some buzz and promote the event but also partly to field questions that came in about the launch as tickets went live.

3. Teaching Presentations

I’ve done a number of videos that have been almost like mini keynote presentations where I’ve given some tips on some aspect of blogging.

Here’s an embed of one that I did on a FAQ that I get – How many times should a blogger publish posts:

Here’s another one that I did earlier in the year when I first started to experiment with FB live in which I actually turned the camera around to show some slides on my computer to make it even more of a keynote like experience.

Here’s one from Michael Hyatt who used a TV to show his slides – a great idea.

4. Announcements

While in San Diego at a conference I jumped on FB Live to announce Brian Fanzo as one of our keynote speakers for this year’s event.

Being on location and taking people into a conversation with Brian live gave those watching a sense of who he is and helped build a little buzz for the event.

We similarly announced Nathan Chan as a speaker on the same day.

5. Event Recaps

Immediately after Social Media Marketing World in San Diego I decided to do a recap of the event.

This was a great way to quickly share a lot of the themes of the event but also to be able to share it with the event hashtag on Twitter after the event meant it got shared around a fair bit.

I could imagine doing this at future events either at the end of each day or even to do end of session summaries for followers.

6. Thoughts for the Day

In the following video I got a little more reflective while out for a walk on a beach and shared a thought for the day (as well as showing where I was which went over well too).

7. Promoting Content/Newsletter

Over on Digital Photography School I’ve done just a couple of Facebook Live videos so far on our Facebook page – both of which were recaps of content that we’d published on the blog during the last week.

In both cases I simply walked readers through the posts that we’d linked to in our weekly newsletter. I encouraged them to go read the posts but also to subscribe to the newsletter.

On both occasions I flipped the camera around and showed them the posts on my computer. Both went over well. Here’s a replay of the first one I did (here’s the 2nd one).

5 More Potential Uses for Facebook Live

The ways that you could use Facebook Live are of course many and only limited by your imagination. Here’s a five more that come to mind (feel free to suggest more in comments).

1. Guest Presenters/AMAs

I love the experiments that Social Media Examiner have been doing on their Facebook page with Live video. One of the things they’ve tried is letting guests take over their page.

This takes a bit (or a lot) of trust as you need to give some admin rights to the person who is the guest but it is good for the guest (it gives them exposure) but also can be good for your page as it gets a new face and voice onto it and can build some credibility.

Here’s one where they let Mari Smith take over their page:

2. Demonstrations

If you have a product or service that you sell – why not demonstrate it on a live video to give prospective customers a glimpse into what your product does?

Similarly it could also be useful for current customers to show new applications and/or features of your product.

You could use live video to showcase how other customers use your product by doing case studies.

3. Reviews

Taking the demo idea further – why not use Facebook live to demonstrate and/or review someone else’s products.

This is a lot of what Robert Scoble does with his Facebook Live videos. Hardly a day goes by when Robert isn’t visiting some cool startup and showing their products.

Here’s a relevant example to this post on FB Live where Robert demonstrates a camera that can actually be used for Facebook Live (the Mevo live camera) – one I’m very keen to try myself.

4. Interviews

The above video also shows how Facebook live can be effectively be used for interviewing people.

While I’m yet to find any easy way to do this as a virtual interview (I hope Facebook add the ability to do split screens at some point) if you’re physically with another person at an event it’s not hard to conduct a live video with them.

5. Live Events

If you’re attending a conference or live event relevant to your industry Facebook Live presents all kinds of opportunities.

For example if the event allows it (do check) you could do a broadcast of a session.

Many events wouldn’t allow this but there would be many other opportunities at events either by doing recaps of sessions yourself, interviews with speakers or attendees, demos at expo booths etc.

How have You Used Facebook Live Video?

I’d love to see more examples of different types of Facebook Live Videos that you’ve created. Let us know below in comments.

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30 Practical Tips for Producing Great Facebook Live Videos

facebook-live-video-tips

This week we’ve been digging deep into Facebook Live Video. Earlier in the week I shared 10 benefits of building Facebook Live into your strategy and yesterday shared 12 different types of Facebook Live videos that you might like to create.

Today I want to get practical and give you some tips on how to create the best Facebook Live Videos you can.

These come my own experiences of creating live videos as well as what I’ve picked up from others. I’d love to hear your own tips on using the platform in comments below.

I should also say that most of these tips come from the outline of a Facebook Live Video that I did last week where I talked about this very topic. You can watch that video below (or keep scrolling to get a written version plus a few more tips that I’ve since come up with).

30 Practical Tips to Help You Create the Best Facebook Live Videos

1. The Basics of Creating Facebook Live Videos – You Find it On Your Phone

I didn’t include this in my initial list of tips but I had a few questions about the real basics of where you create these videos so… if you want to do a Facebook Live video you need to do it from the Facebook App on your phone.

Alternatively if you use Facebook’s Pages App to update your page or if you’re a verified Facebook Page you can do it from the Facebook Mentions App (note: if you are verified you should use Facebook Mentions, I’ve heard it gives you even more reach than other FB apps).

The following screenshots were from iOS’s ‘Pages’ app.

Whatever app you use – look for the ‘Publish’ icon (the one you would hit for making any update to your page from your app).

IMG 8818

On the next screen look for the Live Video icon (a little person icon with halo like circles around their head). Click this.

IMG 8815

On the next page you can enter a description for your video (tips on this below). It’ll also tell you when your internet connection is strong enough for you to go live. If you have a good connection the button will turn blue and you can hit ‘go live’. It’ll count down from 3 to 0 (quickly fix your hair…. 3 seconds is more than enough for me) and you’ll be live!

IMG 8816

2. Prepare an Outline or Plan for Your Video

OK – lets take a step back from going live and ponder a really important question. What are you going to do on your video?

I remember my first live video experience with Periscope. I hit the button that set the whole thing live by accident and then suddenly found myself LIVE with 4 people watching and no idea what I should talk about.

I bumbled through it but it quickly taught me that you should always have some kind of plan for the video you’re going to make.

Depending upon the type of video you make (see yesterday’s post for some of the options) this will mean different things but for me when I’m doing a teaching presentation I usually preprepared a bullet point list of the points I want to make.

I also make note of any Calls to Action I want to make, things I need to promote, links that I might share and questions I’m going to ask people to answer.

A couple of other things you might want to ponder before you go live:

  • what do you want your audience to DO (having a call to action is important – we’ll talk more about this below)
  • what’s in it for your audience (a benefit for those watching will keep them watching and make them want to see your next video too)

3. Promote Your Live Video Before You Start

One of the big challenges with live video is getting enough people to watch it to make it an interactive experience and to make it worthwhile for you to put the work into preparing and doing it.

This is particularly a challenge if you don’t have a lot of followers on your Facebook page so I would highly recommend putting some effort into getting people to your live video by promoting it.

The way you do this will depend upon where you have a following already that you could leverage to get them to your Facebook page. It might include:

  • Emailing your list with a link to your Facebook Page
  • Promoting your page on Twitter
  • Putting up an Instagram update announcing you’re about to go live (a quick video might give people a taste of what you’ll do
  • Publishing a Facebook post telling people when you’ll be on

At the very least I tweet that I’m about to go live like this:

I suspect most of these approaches will be most effective if you do them shortly before you go live. People are not going to wait around too long for you. Alternatively if you develop a bit of a rhythm of doing video at the same time every day (or week) then you might help to build some expectation in your followers of when to show up.

You might want to also think about educating your followers about Facebook Live too – particularly if your audience isn’t very tech savvy.

For example telling them things like letting them know to click the video to make the sound happen, that they can leave a comment at any time and you’ll see it on your phone etc might help them feel more comfortable with the experience.

I’d also promote ahead of time what you’ll be doing on the video and how it’ll benefit them to show up.

4. Time Your Live Video for Peak Participation

I’ve experimented with a variety of times for doing Facebook Live Videos and have found that while I’ve got enough followers to be able to get a decent audience at most times of the day that there are certain times that seem to work better than others for me.

My audience is pretty global but there is a large segment of ProBlogger readers in the US – so obviously when the bulk of the US is awake is a good time for me. That’s a fairly large window though and being in Australia myself there is a lot of the US day when I’m asleep – so I’ve been experimenting with timing my videos for first thing in the morning US time (the end of the day for me) and evenings US time (my mornings).

Both of these times have worked well but the few times that I’ve tried it during US business hours I’ve had mixed results.

What I would suggest is using Facebook Page Insights to identify the peak times when your page followers are online and see how you go with doing videos at those times.

So for my audience at ProBlogger Facebook Insights gives me this data on when my audience is on Facebook (to find this go to your ‘Insights’ and then the ‘Posts’ section.

Screen Shot 2016 05 12 at 12 35 20 PM

These are Australian times so as you see the peak is pretty late for me so I try to time mine for late evenings to capitalise on the rise at about 10-11pm my time (and it also means that the replay is fresh during the peak) and then if I hit it around 9am my time I get the tail end of the peak time.

Those of you lucky enough to be living in the zone of your audience – I envy you! 🙂

5. Try a Broadcast into a Group

I’m yet to try broadcasting into my Facebook group but I think it’d definitely be a worthwhile thing to do if you own one and want to really deepen the connection you have with that group.

I’ve seen a number of group owners do daily videos to teach members of their groups, to run challenges with their groups and as part of mastermind experiences.

The main challenge of course is that most groups have smaller memberships which is great for intimacy but you’d really want to work hard to promote what time the video would happen to try to get as many members to it as possible.

While we’re talking about ‘groups’ – you can actually broadcast a live video onto a page that you own AND a group that you own. In fact you can have it going live onto multiple pages and groups.

The way to do this is to set up your broadcast on your Facebook Page and then once its live get your page up on another device and hit the ‘share’ link and then you can share it to your profile, a page you have admin rights for or a group.

facebook live video share to page or group

6. Make Sure Your Wifi connection is Strong

Facebook won’t let you go live until it determines that you have a strong connection which is great – but if you have an internet connection that gets flakey at times you’ll want to try to get the strongest signal that you can because you don’t want to drop mid video.

So find a place where you’re near your wifi unit if you can!

If your connection begins to waver you sometimes get a warning mid video that you’re in danger of dropping out – this can give you a little time to move where you’re at so watch to see if you get an alert.

4G has also worked well for me when I’m somewhere on location – however again this can get flakey so test your signal strength before hand if you can and be aware that you’ll chew through a lot of data if you do a long video.

7. Choose a Compelling Video Description

As you’ll see in the screenshots above, before you go live you are asked to give a description of the video. This is really important as people will make a decision on whether to watch based upon it. It’s the equivalent of the headline/title of your blog posts.

You can change this description later after the video has finished to make it more appropriate for those watching the replay so tailor it to attract live viewers.

I often make my description incorporate the word LIVE for this reason and then try to find a benefit for viewers to draw them into watching.

8. It takes time for your Audience to Build

Once you go live a little icon with the number of people watching will come up at the top of your phone’s screen.

Don’t be discouraged if there are only a few people (if any) watching in your first few minutes as it takes time for your audience to find your video.

You can speed this up by promoting it (as mentioned above) but other than that the only people who will find your live video will be those who happen to be on Facebook at that very moment scrolling through their newsfeed.

This means that the longer you’re on the more people will see your video in their feed.

I find that my audience usually takes at least 10 minutes to get to it’s peak and sometimes it can be as long as 20 minutes.

This means you might be talking to yourself a little for the first few minutes which can feel awkward. I’ve seen many people give up on their video in the first couple of minutes for this reason.

As a result I think it can be worth coming to the video with something that you could talk about for those first few minutes before you begin what it is that you want to get into.

Perhaps tell a personal story, share what you’re going to talk about, show where you are, give a behind the scenes insight etc. You don’t want this to go too long but it’ll give a few people a chance to join.

Also in the first few minutes as you see people joining you should reach out and ask them to say hi to you. Ask people to share where they are in the world or something else that is relevant to your topic. For example I often start ProBlogger videos with an invitation to share your blog’s link.

9. Aim for 20 minutes or More

While we’re talking about how long it takes people to join lets touch on the length of Facebook Live videos.

Recently at Social Media Marketing World I talked to many people who had been experimenting with FB Live and I asked many of them how long their videos went for.

The common consensus was that people liked to go for at least 20 minutes. The main reason given was that it took time to get people watching (as I just spoke about) but also that the longer your video goes on the more interaction you get.

It will vary a lot depending upon the type of video that you do but my own experience echoes this advice and my plan is always to go for at least 20 minutes.

I’ve gone a lot longer though on my ‘Ask Me Anything’ videos and have peaked at 90 minutes (the limit for a single session) which was really well received. Going this long gave me a chance to answer a lot of questions and quite a few of my viewers said that they really enjoyed ‘hanging out’ in that way.

I’ve seen a number of people do very short videos which might work for giving people a quick look at what you’re doing or where you’re are – but I suspect these wouldn’t get a lot of people watching live (it might be better for those watching the replay though I guess).

I’m sure studies will be done at some point about optimal length of Facebook Live Videos but for now I’d try mixing things up!

10. Interact with Your Live Viewers

One of the beautiful things about Facebook Live and other live streaming services is that it opens up the potential of a more conversational experience with your audience.

To be able to ask viewers questions and get their immediate feedback is great. To be able to take questions and serve specific needs of viewers is likewise a really fantastic thing. I often come away from Live Videos feeling like I know my readers a lot better and feeling as though they saw a glimpse of who I really am too.

Of course this only happens when you take the lead and are engaging with your viewers rather than just talking at them.

I think it’s really important to signal right from the beginning of your live video (and through to the end) that you want to engage.

    • Greet people who comment by name.
    • Ask your readers where they’re watching from.
    • Be ready to share a little of who you are, what your life is like etc
    • Come ready with some questions to ask your viewers (on topic and off topic).
    • Signal that you’re ready to answer any questions that viewers have.
    • Reward good commenting and encourage readers to share their own answers to other people’s questions.
    • Ask readers to share examples to things you’re talking about.

You might even like to offer a prize for the best commenter.

It’s ok to have periods of your video where you’re more interactive than others (I’ll describe how I do this in the next point) but at least at the beginning, middle and end try to build in some form of interaction and engagement.

Any engagement you get (comments, likes, shares) helps increase your reach so the more interaction you get from those live viewers the better!

11. Remember the Replay Viewers

Last week I did a Facebook Live Video that was watched (at least in part) by 1300 viewers according to the stats I got at the end of my broadcast.

In the following 3 days it had a further 1300 viewers.

So remember that while we’re focusing a lot in these tips about looking after and interacting with the live viewers and creating a great live experience – those who watch after the Live broadcast is over could exceed those who watch live.

As a result you need to create something that is as useful to them and which draws them into the experience as much as possible too.

One of the things I’ve been doing in my Live Videos lately is spend the first 20 or so seconds of the video paying attention to those watching the replay. The reality is that most of the live viewers miss that part anyway as it takes them a minute or so to join and so it gives you an opportunity to acknowledge, welcome and tell the replay viewers what to expect.

I sometimes mention that I love that they’re watching the replay of this live video and that I will spend a couple of minutes greeting those who are joining live and then will get into exploring the topic. Sometimes I even encourage them to skip to the 3rd minute where I should be into my talk.

You can see that this is what I did at the start of this live broadcast that I did in the last week:

I guess it’s also worth keeping your replay viewers in mind during your video too. There’s a real art to getting the balance between interacting with live viewers and not annoying replay viewers and I’m not sure I’ve ever really perfected it – but what I do try to do is to give chunks of time in my videos to different purposes so as to serve both audiences.

So after my short intro to replay viewers I will then spend a couple of minutes greeting live viewers as they come (as outlined in the point above) and then if my video is a ‘teaching’ video I tend to get into that mode which focuses more on delivering content and doesn’t have as much interaction.

I usually tell people that I’m going to teach/talk for 10-15 minutes and encourage people to ask questions at any point – but say that I’ll come back to answer all the questions at the end of the teaching. In this way those watching the replay get the bulk of the teaching up front and then can end the video if they don’t want to watch the Q&A.

I find that if I teach and take a question/interact, teach and then take a question/interact sporadically that the interactions can take over and take me off track – which I think I’d find a bit annoying as a replay viewer.

12. Be Aware of ‘Lag’

While we’ve been touching on interaction – it’s worth noting that one of the things I don’t like about Facebook Live as compared to Periscope is that there is currently a real lag between what you’re saying and what your viewers are hearing.

I sometimes have my Facebook page open (on silent) in the background while I’m presenting so that I can add in links to the comments etc and it’s not uncommon to see a minute between when I say or do something and when I see it on my page.

This is particularly worth noting while you’re interacting with those watching.

If you ask a question and nobody responds, it’s probably due to the lag. So you might want to be willing to answer your own question or talk about something else while you’re waiting for the interaction.

Similarly if you’re winding things up and saying goodbye – you might like to wait a moment or two to for others to say their goodbyes or ask last questions before you go.

14. Ask for the Share

In the first few minutes of your video it can be well worthwhile to ask those watching to share your video. This helps you get more reach and hopefully a few more live viewers.

You might need to ‘teach’ your viewers how to do this but it’s pretty simple – they simply hit the share link under your video and then can share it to their personal profile, a page or even a group that they own.

I usually ask for the share with a simple call to action like this:

“If you think this topic will be interesting to your network please share it with them. I’ll do my best to make it as useful as possible so they thank you for it.”

I don’t find the ‘sharing’ of videos is happening as much as it does on Periscope yet but hopefully this changes in time.

15. Be Yourself

Facebook Live Video is not about being perfect (although in the last few weeks I have noticed production quality of some using it really increase). Rather, it’s about being yourself.

Those watching your video will respond warmly to you if you’re warm, real and relatable.

My sessions that have had the best feedback have been me sitting on my couch at the end of the day talking like I’d talk to a friend.

These videos at time went a little ‘off topic’, showed my personality, etc.

So while I’m about to give you a few tips on how to produce a better video keep in mind that what people really love is the chance to have a personal connection with you!

16. Create Something with Visual Appeal

Most people’s Facebook Lives at the moment are them sitting in front of a computer talking. This is getting attention at the moment because the medium is still relatively new – but in time it’ll be videos with some kind of visual appeal that will cut through more and more.

Remember the way people end up watching your video is that they’ll see it as they scroll through their Facebook news feed and that the sound will be off until they click the video.

So anything that has some visual appeal, grabs their attention and generates some curiosity will help to get more actual views.

The other aspect of visual appeal is that it has the potential to keep people on your videos longer.

There are numerous things that you could try with this and I’m seeing a lot of people experiment right now but a few things you could try include.

1. creating a ‘set’/thinking about backgrounds

This need not be anything too fancy (although I’ve seen a few people build custom sets for their videos).

Even a bright colour wall behind you that stands out as people scroll through their feed might help.

Other live video creators use Green Screens or get backdrops made.

I sat in front of a piece of art in our kitchen recently and was amazed how many people commented on it.

Facebook live backgroundAs I showed in yesterdays post we’re seeing people like Michael Hyatt add a monitor into the background of videos. This allows you to either show slides or to simply display call to action URLs, your Twitter URL or even your logo for branding.

2. Flip Between Cameras

Another way to create a little visual interest is to utilise the fact that your phone has two cameras and can be moved around.

If you’re in an interesting location – flip your camera around and show where you are.

Alternatively get up and move around a little to change where you’re sitting mid video – simply to mix things up a little.

17. Multiple Cameras/Screen Sharing/Titles/Transitions etc

This one is for those of you wanting to get a bit more serious in your live video and it will take investing some time and maybe even money – but there are ways to take your live videos to a whole new production level!

wirecast

I’ve just gotten access to Telestream’s Wirecast product (disclaimer: I was gifted it last night) which allows you to produce live video and really do some amazing things. It’s a high level product that can be used for professional applications but it is also something I’ve seen numerous small businesses use too – and it now also works with Facebook Live.

Some of the things you can do include:

  • Live switching between cameras – you can set up web cameras, iOS devices and even other pro level cameras using capture cards and switch between them
  • Adding Titles to your feed (put your name/link/Twitter id etc on the screen as you broadcast
  • Add Transitions when you’re switching between views
  • Screen sharing (show your desktop, show slides etc)
  • Picture-In-Picture (so you could share slides and put live video of you in the corner
  • Mix Audio (add in some music while you’re talking for example)
  • Twitter feeds – Add Twitter messages directly to your broadcast
  • Playlists – queue up videos, images, audio etc ready to play during your show (you could run little commercials, show videos that illustrate what you’re talking about etc mid video)

The mind boggles at the kinds of things you could do with Wirecast! It’s certainly an investment (it costs $500 USD) but if you’re going to put serious effort into Facebook live then it could be worth considering.

Here’s a replay of a live video that the team behind Wirecast did that shows you the quality of what it can do (it also has some good tips for using it):

Another option to investigate in terms of tools that can do some of the above is OBS Project. I’m yet to test it but saw Cliff Ravenscraft testing it in the last few days in the following video in his new studio setup. It’s completely free (although depending what cameras you want to use you might need to invest a little there).

I’m told OBS may not be as powerful or feature rich as Wirecast and might need a little more tech know how to set up – but it looks like one to check out – you can’t beat the price!

It’s worth noting that tools like Wirecast and OBS have only in the last month been able to be used for Facebook Live since Facebook opened up their API.

I suspect we’ll see a lot more services like these in the coming months. It’s an exciting time!

18. Think Lighting

One of the best things you can do to increase the quality of your videos is to make sure you’re in good light.

We’re seeing some live video producers invest in lighting setups (like Cliff in the above video) but even just setting up near a window and making sure the lights are on in the room you’re working in will help.

I invested in some LED lights like these last year and use them to add some more light to some of my videos.

led lights facebook live video

You can join them into one big light or use them as four smaller ones around your room.

Light really will lift the quality of your videos (whether they are live videos or not).

Note: if you wear glasses lights can cause reflections that can stop people seeing your eyes. This can be distracting for viewers and interrupt the connection you have with them.

Consider getting yourself some lenses in your glasses that are non-reflective to cut reflections down.

19. Think Audio

How you look is obviously important – but how you sound also makes a big difference.

At the very least think about getting away from background noise and find a quiet spot to film.

But if you have a little money to invest – consider buying a microphone to increase the quality of what you’re doing.

One of the most popular miss for those using their phone for video is the Rode SmartLav mic.

rode smart lav

It’s what I use in most of my live videos. It’s not the cheapest option but is very good.

There are plenty of other options for Lav Mics that plug in to your smart phone that are cheaper though – so don’t feel you need to go straight for the top of the field.

Another good option for smartphone use is this directional mic from Rode which I see many people using.

51WQrFSEZzL._SL1000_

The benefit of this is that it means you’re not weathered to your phone.

Of course if you’re going to invest in one of the tools like Wirecast or OBS Project you can use all kinds of higher end mics (the sky is the limit) but as I say above – finding a quiet spot and making sure your smartphones inbuilt mic isn’t obstructed can get you decent results.

20. Consider a Tripod

While we’re talking about gear – another good investment if you’re going to do regular Facebook Live Videos is some kind of mount or tripod.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly if you’re going to do videos that go beyond 20 minutes even a phone can feel heavy!

Secondly there’s nothing more annoying for your viewers than a camera that is constantly moving, shaking and jerking around. A nice steady camera view helps a lot.

There are many options here ranging from proping your phone up on whatever you can find on your desk to keep it steady (I used a coffee cup for several months) through to picking up a relatively cheap smartphone tripod through to investing into something more custom built for live streaming like this desktop stand for an iPad (for your notes) and a phone.

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There are many such products on the market for live streamers!

21. Smart Phone Lenses

One last gear suggestion – particularly for those going out on location who want to show different environments – is a lens attachment for your smart phone like the 4-in-1 Ollo Clip.

41NRSF2RNYL

I particularly like being able to use the wide angle lens that allows you to show a wider angle view of a scene that you’re showing off.

This would be particularly useful if you’re a travel blogger wanting to do Live videos from on location of spectacular locations. Similarly if you’re wanting to shoot from an event or want to get numerous people into your shot in a tight location.

22. Consider Those Around You

If you’re broadcasting in public – consider those around you.

I’ve seen a number of live videos in the last few weeks where people were at events and while live they bowled up to people and put the on the spot for an interview.

This could work out well but it could also put people who don’t want to be on camera under pressure.

I’d personally ask people’s permission before going live before featuring them in a video.

If you’re broadcasting from home where there might be family about it might also be worth talking with your family about how and when you’ll use live video.

At our home I tend to only do live video when my kids are not home. I don’t want screaming kids (or parents) in the background – partly because I don’t want my viewers to have to experience that but also because I don’t think it’s fair on my family to have to tiptoe around our home in case I might be live.

There are also privacy and security issues that you’ll probably want to discuss with family in terms of whether you want your family featured and whether you might film in locations that identify where you’re living.

23. Calls to Action

As with all your content – consider calling people to action. If your video is long you could ask people to do a few things during your video but it’s worth thinking ahead before you go live as to what the number one thing you want people to do will be.

If you know you’ll be calling people to do something have links handy and ready to share. If the link is long consider using a link shortener to make it easier to communication.

If I’m sharing a link I will generally say the link but also add it to the comments of my video as I’m saying it (this means you’ll need to have your page/group open on another device to be able to leave a comment).

24. Call People to Follow Your Page

One call to action that is worth doing is to call people to follow your page. I often do this at the end of a video.

The reason for this is that often live videos get a wider reach number than the amount of people who actually follow your page. This is because Facebook seem to be really promoting live videos (in places like their Live Video Map) but also because people will share your video.

As a result you could be talking to people who don’t already like your page. So say something like ‘If you liked this video follow my page to get notified when I do another one’.

25. Get some Help With Moderation

A number of times while I’ve been doing important live videos I’ve arranged to have one of my team members live on the video to help me out.

This has usually been Laney (who manages ProBlogger) and she will watch the video and the comments coming.

She will answer questions that people have, find links to posts or podcast episodes that I might mention or add links to calls to action that I might make.

She also feeds me questions that I might have missed.

I’ve not had any issues with trolls on Facebook Live (which is pretty remarkable as it happens a lot on Periscope) but having someone there with admin rights on your page could be useful for this too.

26. Check Out Your Video’s Stats

At the end of the your broadcast a little chart comes up on your smart phone that shows you how many people watched live, how many commented, how many liked and how many shares you had. It also also shows you when the peaks and troughs of the viewer numbers were during your video.

Pay attention to this and learn from it for next time.

Facebook live video stats

There’s also an option to save the video to camera roll (this could then be uploaded to Youtube or saved for use at another time and place). There’s also the opportunity to upload to Facebook a higher quality video (it takes time and you would want to be on wifi).

27. After You Finish – Edit Your Video

A few minutes after your broadcast finishes you can also edit your video.

To do this on desktop look at your video on your page and click the little arrow to the top right of your video and look for the ‘Edit Post’ option.

Edit facebook live video

This then opens up the option to add a title to your video, edit the description, to select a thumbnail, to select a CTA button, add a url and select tags for the video. You can also add captions if you want to and have the option to block embeds of the video if you don’t want people to share your video that way.

This allows you to optimise your video for replay views and is well worth doing.

28. Consider Boosting Your Video

If you’re happy with the broadcast and think it warrants it you might like to consider boosting your video.

This will help you get it in front of more people and is particularly worth doing if your video has a call to action that helps to build your business.

29. Embed Your Video into a Blog Post

If your video is of a nature that might help your blog readers – why not embed it into a blog post?

You’ve gone to the effort of creating the video so embedding it is a really simple way to repurpose it. It will also increase the number of people who see your video which should help your reach numbers and might have flow on effects into helping you get more attention in Facebook’s algorhythm.

I would generally add some content around the video in your blog post so there’s something there for people who prefer to read.

This might also be a good opportunity to call your blog post readers to follow you on Facebook for more live video interactions.

30. Be Useful and Have Fun!

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post (and I’m sure we could go on further). I’m really aware that while I’ve tried to create a list of tips here that help you create great live videos that it might also have made it feel overwhelming.

If that’s how you feel – please don’t let it stop you experimenting. The main tip that I want to emphasise is that people respond best to people who create useful content that shows who they really are.

So be yourself, show your personality and have fun!

What Tips Would You Add?

I’d love to hear from you on the topic of Facebook Live today.

Have you given it a go? Have you watched others who have experimented with it? If so – what tips would you add?

Note: this post includes a few affiliate links (to Amazon) which enables us to make small commissions when you make a purchase. This is one of the ways I make money blogging and helps us to keep the vast majority of what we do here on ProBlogger free.

The post 30 Practical Tips for Producing Great Facebook Live Videos appeared first on ProBlogger.

PB116: How to Snap Readers out of Passive Lurking to Become Engaged

Note: this episode can be listened to in the player above or on iTunes or Stitcher.

How to Move Readers From Passive Lurking to Engagement

Welcome to episode 116. I am working through a series that helps you to warm your blog readers up.

ProBlogger_Episode_116

 In episode 112, I introduced the four stages of warming your readers up. In episode 113, I talk about how to get the first eyeball to your blog. In episode 114, I talk about getting people to give your blog a second look and become interested. In episode 115, I talk about how to get readers to subscribe and connect with you. This is crucial for building an ongoing relationship with your audience.

Today, I am talking about the final step which is getting engagement.

In the process of getting readers warmed up, we have people who subscribe, but they often never actually comment or connect or engage with us. Today, I will be giving strategies for getting our readers to talk back to us.

Next week, In episode 117, I will be going over a case study that pulls together all four stages, and I will be interviewing somebody who has developed a system for taking people from becoming aware to becoming fully engaged.

In Today’s Episode  How to Snap Readers out of Passive Lurking to Become Engaged

  • We need to be the community that we want to have. If we want engagement, we need to be engaging. This is the challenge that bloggers have.
  • Help your readers to get onboard – onboarding, helping your readers to get onboard with your blog
    • Set up an autoresponder with an email list
      • Email list of Ytravel Blog
        • Thanks you for joining (Email #1)
        • Tells a little bit about what the email will be used for
        • Sets expectations of when emails will be sent
        • Encourages people to add email to address list
        • Gives free audio download (optin)
        • They invite their readers to apply
        • Email #2 – Similar things generosity
        • How they are going to help their readers
        • Suggestion of 3 links, to get the readers back to the site
        • They point out useful stuff
        • Another invitation to reply
        • Email #3 – They really tap into the pain of their readers and give them a series of posts to help
  • Create engaging content as part of your regular production
    • Ask for engagement
    • Create blog posts that are all about engagement – A discussion post
    • Digital Photography School – How would you photograph a funeral?
      • I wrote a post about this question and opened it up to my readers
      • This goes beyond getting a comment, it shows my readers that I am interested in helping other readers
    • Weekly Challenge – Modes of Transportation
      • On Digital Photography School we issue a weekly challenge to our readers
      • I would do these writing challenges on ProBlogger too
    • Run a poll or survey and share the results in another post
    • Have a weekly editorial strategy and focus on different areas – attention, quick wins, engagement
  • Personal mediums are effective – live streaming is very engaging
  • Engagement is about you, your readers, and your readers to each other
    • When I live stream readers leave comments for each other
    • Twitter Chat having a # party allows readers to engage with one another
    • Real life events – tweetups and meetups and having readers come together
    • Our annual events – the relationships formed are amazing
  • Content Events – A series that goes for longer than a week
    • Engagement levels went through the roof because there was a challenge and then an invitation to share
    • Readers were engaging with one another
    • This brought a lot of life to my blog and built stickiness
    • People respond well to events – fear of missing out, defined start and end
    • Vanessa’s Blog Style and Shenanigans
      • Vanessa’s Last Challenge Event
      • Vanessa runs events on instagram featuring a color or print for someone to wear and show a photo of themselves wearing that
      • Every week of the event traffic goes up and engagement goes through the roof
    • Dan Norris 7 Day Startup
      • Dan wrote the book 7 Day Startup and runs WP Curve
      • Dan has 7 Day Startup Challenges
      • He creates content everyday for 7 days
      • He invites people to consume that content through facebook groups
      • He then gets his readers to do something for each day
      • At the end of the day, they launch something
      • Then at the end of the challenge, he invites people to join his paid program
      • This is a great way to get people from lurking to being very engaged
      • Many of these people also sign up for the membership site and buy

Further Resources on How to Snap Readers out of Passive Lurking to Become Engaged

How did you go with today’s episode?

Let us know what you thought about today’s show. Leave a message or a comment.

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PB119: How to Choose the Right WordPress Theme for Your Blog

How to Decide on a WordPress Theme for Your Blog

Today I have a treat for you. Today we have a special guest, one of our new subject matter experts, Kelly Exeter from Swish Design. Kelly is one of those people who produces a heap of great content and also runs a business on the side. Kelly is one of the go to people in Australia when it comes to blog design.

ProBlogger_119

I received a question from Nils from Soul Thoughts who asks a question that many bloggers who are starting a blog. What is the best WordPress theme to choose for my blog (and how to make that decision). I’m not a designer, so I’m going to let our design expert Kelly share her tips on choosing the right WordPress Theme.

You can either listen to the episode via the podcast player above or check it out on iTunes or Stitcher. Alternatively if you prefer to read – Kelly has written up the full show below for you to keep coming back to including all the links and resources mentiond in the episode.

PB119: How to Choose the Right WordPress Theme for Your Blog

Hello! I’m here today to try and answer this very big question: What are the best themes to use if you have a WordPress blog?

And the very short answer to this is – there is no best theme. There are many themes out there that will work well for your needs. The hard part is narrowing down the list.

If you type ‘WordPress themes’ into Google you will usually end up some place like ThemeForest where, at current count, there are over 6000 themes to choose from. Even somewhere with a slightly smaller selection like Elegant Themes has 87 on offer and Studiopress, the home of Genesis themes has over 50.

So – how on earth do you choose the best theme for your needs from this wealth of choice?

Well, my number one suggestion is to stop looking in those theme libraries and start instead with the blogs out there whose designs you love.

Most WordPress themes these days are built on off-the-shelf templates which means that blog you love, you can access the same theme they’ve used.

A quick word about this however – that blog you love – is it their header you particularly love? Or their typography? Or their imagery?

If so, those are design elements that can be incorporated into any theme out there.

When you’re deciding on a theme, you really need to choose one based on it having a layout you like – so you like how their logo and menu are placed, how their blog archives are laid out, how their blogs posts are laid out, and most importantly, what elements they have on their home page and where those elements are positioned.

For example, if you choose the Metro Pro theme from Genesis – make sure you are choosing it because you like how it’s laid out … not because it has nice images.

image02

So – let’s say you love the new Being Boss blog design at beingboss.club and you’re thinking that could work well for you. The first thing you want to do is find out what theme they’re using. You do this by viewing the source code of the website.

To do this, type into your browser window: view-source:http://beingboss.club/

(NB: You can do this for any site by typing in view-source:FULLWEBSITEURL)

Once you’re viewing the source code do a search for this: wp-content/themes.

This will come up in a few places in the source code and the word that directly follows the word ‘themes’ in the source is the name of the theme.

image00

So for Being Boss, I can see their theme is called Art Mag.

If you then Google ‘Art Mag WordPress theme’ you’ll see it’s a theme you can buy from Themeforest for $49.

A word of caution – when you’re checking out your favourite website and you’re loving how they look and you’re thinking I’m saying just buy the same theme and your site can look like that too, there is a giant caveat here. If you’re loving how a site looks, it’s probably because they have killer imagery. If you don’t have the same killer imagery, then use the same theme as them all your like, your site won’t look like theirs.

image01

This, incidentally, is both a good and bad thing.

The bad comes from the disappointment you feel because your site doesn’t look as good as theirs.

The good comes from the fact that you can use exactly the same theme as someone else but your two sites will look quite different because you’re using different imagery, logo, fonts and colours. Just make sure your site uses great imagery and fontography and you’ll be fine.

Another thing that’s important to remember is that when you install that theme on your website, it needs to be set up to look like the demo version or the website you loved – it won’t look like that straight out of the box. If you’re able to follow instructions, then, using the theme documentation, you should be able to get the layout looking the way it way sold to you in the demo.

If you’re struggling, get in touch with the guys at ThemeValet.com. For $99 or thereabouts, they will set the theme up to look like the demo for you.

Another caveat – if your site has no pages and no posts (ie no content), it will be very difficult to get it looking like anything. So I always recommend creating at least an About and a Contact page and loading in 2-3 blog posts before loading in a theme and trying to make things look pretty.

Now – what if there aren’t any sites out there that have caught your eye? Well, some fairly common themes doing the rounds currently are:

  • Simple Mag which can be found on ThemeForest.com – this is particularly great if you’re looking for a magazine style layout.
  • If you’re looking for a more bloggy type layout then Foodie, Metro and Lifestyle Pro are all great looking, easy to use Genesis themes and can be found on StudioPress.com.

Note: with the Genesis themes you first have to install the based Genesis framework (which comes as a theme), then you install and activate whichever of the look and feel themes you’ve chosen.

Another really important thing you need to keep in mind when choosing themes these days is that they are responsive on mobile. Happily, most themes in most marketplaces these days are. All the themes I mention today certainly are.

Now, what about themes like Divi, Bridge and the X theme?

These are themes that allow you to set up your site pages pretty much any way you like via inbuilt Page Builders that allow you to drag and drop elements.

This sounds like a dream but in reality, I have found these Page Builders to be really slow and painful to use. You make a small tweak to say the padding around an image, or the size of a heading, for example, and then you have to save the draft of the page, and then preview it … it’s really slow going and frustrating.

Also – as much as these types of site sell themselves on being easy for non-tech savvy people to use, they’re just not.

Now, if you are quite tech savvy, these themes are amazing because they offer a huge amount of flexibility and design freedom. If you are not tech savvy, just do no go there – they will make you cry.

Of all the ‘Page Builder included’ themes out there (and I have seen many) – the one that has impressed me the most is the X theme. At Swish Design (my business) we have the ability to design and build custom themes and this is what I intended to do with my own website re-design at kellyexeter.com.au recently. I did the page design, and then because I needed the new design faster than my guys would be able to code it, I actually rebuilt the site using the X theme (+ Beaver Builder instead of the X Theme’s inbuilt Cornerstone builder) as a temporary measure. And guess what, it did the job so well I haven’t bothered to get my guys to code a custom theme for me after all.

No other theme like that – not Divi, not Bridge, not any of the several ones I’ve tried – have been as easy to use as X + Beaver Builder.   

So there you go.

As I mentioned at the start, pointing you in the right direction as to a ‘best theme’ for your needs is a very ‘how long is a piece of string’ question because there are so many variables to consider.

My major tip in this regard is that, if ever you’re in doubt, choose the simpler solution.

And remember, people are coming to your blog to read, and they’re mostly doing so on mobile. So as long as your theme is responsive, loads fast, and makes it easy to read your posts on mobile devices, you’ll already be ahead of the pack.

——-

Kelly Exeter has been a web and graphic designer for 15 years and has worked with WordPress for over 8 years. You can find her at Swish Design by day, and tinkering with her personal blog design at night.

How did you go with today’s episode?

I hope this has been helpful today. If you have more questions, I would be more than happy to tackle them myself or enlist one of our subject matter experts.

Disclaimer: ProBlogger is an affiliate for some themes and services mentioned in this article. We make a commission if you purchase these products which is how we keep the vast majority of what we do on ProBlogger free (and how Darren keeps his expensive coffee habit going). Affiliate products are carefully chosen and are always genuine recommendations of products that we either pay for and use ourselves or that come with strong recommendations from our trusted expert friends.

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You can use the following widget to ask a question. Please include your name and blog name (if you have a blog).

The post PB119: How to Choose the Right WordPress Theme for Your Blog appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.

Announcing: Smarter, more sharable analytics innovations

We’re incredibly excited to share with you the new analytics product innovations announced just moments ago at the Google Performance Summit. These innovations for the Analytics 360 Suite are more integrated, more collaborative, and use built-in intelligence to handle more data than ever in our new multi-screen, cross-channel world.

Why are these innovations arriving now? Because across the millions of websites using Google Analytics today, more than half of all web traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets1. And every year, over half of the trillions of searches on Google happen on mobile2.

This shift to mobile has made marketers’ jobs more complex. We all have more opportunities than ever to reach consumers all day and measure their behavior in their I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do and I want-to-buy moments. But it’s also harder to keep all the channels and touchpoints straight. You can’t market effectively in today’s world with products that were designed for a desktop-first world.

Two months ago we announced the Google Analytics 360 Suite, an enterprise-class modern measurement solution built from the ground up to help enterprise marketers and analytics professionals succeed in this new multi-screen world.

Today, we announced new innovations focused on three themes: 

Read on to learn the analytics highlights from today’s announcements.

Enterprise analytics re-imagined for modern marketing 

Google Analytics 360 Suite is beginning to roll out to current customers. This includes Google Analytics 360 (formerly known as Premium), Attribution 360 (formerly known as Adometry), Audience Center 360, and Tag Manager 360 when used as part of Analytics 360. The rollout will occur in phases over the next several months, and users will see an improved and unified product experience and a new look and feel across all Analytics 360 Suite products.

Google Optimize 360, our website testing and personalization product, is now available in paid BETA globally. The results from our closed beta have been amazing: one of our beta customers reduced the time to deploy a site experiment from three days to 10 minutes. Optimize 360’s deep integrations with Analytics 360 increase testing agility and reduce setup times. With just a few clicks, you can use the audiences and goals you’ve already created in Analytics 360 to run experiments with Optimize 360.

Google Data Studio 360, our data visualization product, will start rolling out in paid BETA in the US. This is our enterprise version with licensing starting at 200 users. Data Studio 360 allows you to connect to all your data with native integrations across many popular Google products, as well as non-Google data. Visualize your data by creating reports and dashboards. Share your data across your organization with built-in, real-time collaboration.

Google Data Studio is a completely new, free version of Data Studio 360 that we’re launching today! Starting now, anyone can use Data Studio to create up to 5 reports with unlimited sharing, editing and collaboration. We’re starting the BETA in the U.S. and rolling out to other regions throughout the year.

Succeeding together 

With massive volumes of data being created across screens, channels and touchpoints, built-in intelligence has become foundational in approach to analytics product development. This means we’re doing more of the heavy lifting for you, and we’re seeing a tremendous response from businesses. For example, Smart Goals in Analytics is now enabling more than 60K advertisers to optimize their AdWords performance. You’ll continue to see exciting developments in the future related to intelligence.

As consumers blur the lines between online and offline, it’s more important than ever to build your business in new ways. Google is excited to go on this journey with you, and we’re building much more for the multi-screen, cross-channel world. Visit our website to learn more about all the new products in the Analytics 360 Suite.

To see the full range of ads and analytics innovations announced this morning, watch the Google Performance Summit keynote here.


1 Google Analytics 2016 
2 Google 2016

7 Small Ways to Be a Better Writer

7 small ways to be a better writerThis is a guest contribution from Larry Alton

You could be a prominent authority in your industry, with multiple bestselling books and a successful business around your writing; or you could be a novice who just launched their first blogging website – as long as writing is a significant part of your life, there’s one thing you’ll always want: to be a better writer.

There are two surefire ways to become a better writer, and they’re universally effective: reading and writing.

Reading lots of outside material helps you expand your vocabulary, sharpen your communication skills, and become exposed to new topics and perspectives that help inform your writing. Writing itself serves as practice to gradually hone your craft.

So if becoming a better writer is (apparently) so simple, why isn’t everybody on their way to becoming a great writer?

Time and Patience

Reading a book doesn’t instantly take you to a new tier of writing ability, nor does a handful of written articles instantly make you better at your craft. To be effective, you need to spend tons of time reading and writing—and only after years of commitment will you start to show the results.

Most of us would prefer something a little faster, and something a little less repetitive when our eyes start to bulge out of our skulls. That’s why we’ve come up with these seven small ways to become a better writer:

7 small ways to be a better writer

1. Talk to strangers

Writing is a form of communication. Even though it is, in many ways, distinct from verbal communication, verbal conversations can still improve your writing by teaching you new vocabulary, exposing you to new styles, and introducing you to new concepts.

Talk to strangers wherever you can—at the grocery store, at a coffee shop, or on the bus to work. It’s important to break out of your element and communicate with people outside your traditional circles. That’s the only way you’ll learn anything new.

As an exercise, challenge yourself to meet a certain quota; for example, you could commit to talking to a new person three times a week, or if you’re especially ambitious, every day. Take note of their word choices, and walk away with new nuggets of information about the world.

2. Eat healthier foods

It may not seem like eating habits could impact your writing ability, but according to a recent study, excessive consumption of processed and unhealthy foods can actually impair your cognitive abilities.

Stick to fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains when you can.

As a long-term benefit, you’ll be able to think clearer, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll be more motivated to accomplish your goals. As a short-term benefit, you’ll get a boost of energy immediately after eating thanks to your body’s pleasure receptors and metabolism.

And as long as you’re eating foods rich in complex carbohydrates and protein, you won’t suffer from a sugar crash afterward! If you can, keep a store of healthy foods in your desk, or wherever you work most frequently.

3. Work on pet projects

Don’t limit yourself to only writing for your career, or only writing for your blog. Adopt some pet projects to expand your linguistic horizons.

For example, you could commit yourself to writing poetry on the side, or start work on a novel you’ve been planning.

All forms of writing can improve all other forms of writing, so find something you’d enjoy writing about and write about it! Not only will you build and diversify your writing skillset, you’ll also relieve stress and introduce a change up to your routine—no matter how much you love writing, working on the same project ad infinitum can lead to burnout.

7 small ways to become a better writer

4. Meditate

Meditation has tons of physical benefits—it helps you lower stress, reduce anxiety, and may even help prevent the onset of certain mental health conditions.

Even putting these benefits aside, meditation can help you clear your mind of clutter and zero in on what really matters. If you practice meditation regularly, you can enter a meditative state with relative ease—which comes in handy as you anxiously prepare to write something significant. Taking just a few minutes before an article can clear your head of the clutter; with a clearer head, you’ll write more productively, and in a purer, more intelligible form.

Over the long-term, meditating daily will lead you to a more relaxed, productive, and mentally healthy existence, which can only help your ability to write.

5. Set rules for yourself

Create rules to control your productivity and limit yourself from distractions or damaging habits.

For example, in the context of writing quality, you could set a rule not to use a certain buzzword in all of your articles moving forward, or you could set a rule to avoid any first-person or second-person pronouns.

In the context of productivity, you could set a rule that you’re only allowed one distraction until you finish your current article, or set a rule that you must start working within X minutes of turning on your computer.

You could even construct rules about your habits, such as mandating that you write at least 1000 words every day, in order to reinforce behavioral patterns you wish to adopt naturally.

6. Watch lots of movies and TV shows

Most people would agree that TV is a time suck, and it can be, but it can also be a useful exercise in linguistic analysis and communication improvement, if you allow it to be.

Turn on the subtitles, and watch programs known for their exceptional writing (especially dialogue). Pay close attention to what makes the writing especially believable, compelling, or intriguing, and treat it with an analytical eye.

Even though you probably aren’t writing scripts for TV shows and movies, you can advance your skills by doing this (though, depending on your definition, this could count as “reading.”).

7. Learn a new language 

You won’t be writing much in this new language, but learning the rules of a foreign language can help you better conceptualize your thoughts and speech patterns.

To illustrate, when learning a new language, non-native speakers are forced to experiment with new situations in both written and verbal forms. These situations force you to think carefully about your responses, rather than allowing you to fall back on the colloquialisms and phrasing you’re used to.

These new conversation patterns will help your mind work harder to find the right words for any situation, and might even expose you to new linguistic concepts. Plus, learning a new language will force you to re-familiarize yourself with basic concepts of grammar, such as sentence structures, giving you a bird’s-eye view of how the world communicates. 

These strategies aren’t an excuse to stop reading and writing to become a better writer; they’re designed to serve as complements to those two pillars of writing success. Like it or not, you’re still going to have to read and write—often—if you want to succeed. These tactics won’t take you from “novice” to “professional” overnight, but they will help you refine your approach, clear your head, learn some new perspectives, and strengthen your command of language.

Combined with enough practice and repeated exposure, you’re sure to hone your skills in due time.

The post 7 Small Ways to Be a Better Writer appeared first on ProBlogger.

Consensus Bias

The Truth About Subjective Truths

A few months ago there was an article in New Scientist about Google’s research paper on potentially ranking sites based on how factual their content is. The idea is generally and genuinely absurd.

For a search engine to be driven primarily by group think (see unity100’s posts here) is the death of diversity.

Less Diversity, More Consolidation

The problem is rarely attributed to Google, but as ecosystem diversity has declined (and entire segments of the ecosystem are unprofitable to service), more people are writing things like: “The market for helping small businesses maintain a home online isn’t one with growing profits – or, for the most part, any profits. It’s one that’s heading for a bloody period of consolidation.”

As companies grow in power the power gets monetized. If you can manipulate people without appearing to do so you can make a lot of money.

We Just Listen to the Data (Ish)

As Google sucks up more data, aggregates intent, and scrapes-n-displaces the ecosystem they get air cover for some of their gray area behaviors by claiming things are driven by the data & putting the user first.

Those “data” and altruism claims from Google recently fell flat on their face when the Wall Street Journal published a number of articles about a leaked FTC document.

That PDF has all sorts of goodies in it about things like blocking competition, signing a low margin deal with AOL to keep monopoly marketshare (while also noting the general philosophy outside of a few key deals was to squeeze down on partners), scraping content and ratings from competing sites, Google force inserting itself in certain verticals anytime select competitors ranked in the organic result set, etc.

As damning as the above evidence is, more will soon be brought to light as the EU ramps up their formal statement of objection, as Google is less politically connected in Europe than they are in the United States:

“On Nov. 6, 2012, the night of Mr. Obama’s re-election, Mr. Schmidt was personally overseeing a voter-turnout software system for Mr. Obama. A few weeks later, Ms. Shelton and a senior antitrust lawyer at Google went to the White House to meet with one of Mr. Obama’s technology advisers. … By the end of the month, the FTC had decided not to file an antitrust lawsuit against the company, according to the agency’s internal emails.”

What is wild about the above leaked FTC document is it goes to great lengths to show an anti-competitive pattern of conduct toward the larger players in the ecosystem. Even if you ignore the distasteful political aspects of the FTC non-decision, the other potential out was:

“The distinction between harm to competitors and harm to competition is an important one: according to the modern interpretation of antitrust law, even if a business hurts individual competitors, it isn’t seen as breaking antitrust law unless it has also hurt the competitive process—that is, that it has taken actions that, for instance, raised prices or reduced choices, over all, for consumers.” – Vauhini Vara

Part of the reason the data set was incomplete on that front was for the most part only larger ecosystem players were consulted. Google engineers have went on record stating they aim to break people’s spirits in a game of psychological warfare. If that doesn’t hinder consumer choice, what does?

When the EU published their statement of objections Google’s response showed charts with the growth of Amazon and eBay as proof of a healthy ecosystem.

The market has been consolidated down into a few big winners which are still growing, but that in and of itself does not indicate a healthy nor neutral overall ecosystem.

The long tail of smaller e-commerce sites which have been scrubbed from the search results is nowhere to be seen in such charts / graphs / metrics.

The other obvious “untruth” hidden in the above Google chart is there is no way product searches on Google.com are included in Google’s aggregate metrics. They are only counting some subset of them which click through a second vertical ad type while ignoring Google’s broader impact via the combination of PLAs along with text-based AdWords ads and the knowledge graph, or even the recently rolled out rich product answer results.

Who could look at the following search result (during anti-trust competitive review no less) and say “yeah, that looks totally reasonable?”

Google has allegedly spent the last couple years removing “visual clutter” from the search results & yet they manage to product SERPs looking like that – so long as the eye candy leads to clicks monetized directly by Google or other Google hosted pages.

The Search Results Become a Closed App Store

Search was an integral piece of the web which (in the past) put small companies on a level playing field with larger players.

That it no longer is.

“What kind of a system do you have when existing, large players are given a head start and other advantages over insurgents? I don’t know. But I do know it’s not the Internet.” – Dave Pell

The above quote was about app stores, but it certainly parallels a rater system which enforces the broken window fallacy against smaller players while looking the other way on larger players, unless they are in a specific vertical Google itself decides to enter.

“That actually proves my point that they use Raters to rate search results. aka: it *is* operated manually in many (how high?) cases. There is a growing body of consensus that a major portion of Googles current “algo” consists of thousands of raters that score results for ranking purposes. The “algorithm” by machine, on the majority of results seen by a high percentage of people, is almost non-existent.” … “what is being implied by the FTC is that Googles criteria was: GoogleBot +10 all Yelp content (strip mine all Yelp reviews to build their database). GoogleSerps -10 all yelp content (downgrade them in the rankings and claim they aren’t showing serps in serps). That is anticompetitive criteria that was manually set.” – Brett Tabke

The remote rater guides were even more explicitly anti-competitive than what was detailed in the FTC report. For instance, requiring hotel affiliate sites rated as spam even if they are helpful, for no reason other than being affiliate sites.

Is Brand the Answer?

About 3 years ago I wrote a blog post about how branding plays into SEO & why it might peak. As much as I have been accused of having a cynical view, the biggest problem with my post was it was naively optimistic. I presumed Google’s consolidation of markets would end up leading Google to alter their ranking approach when they were unable to overcome the established consensus bias which was subsidizing their competitors. The problem with my presumption is Google’s reliance on “data” was a chimera. When convenient (and profitable) data is discarded on an as need basis.

Or, put another way, the visual layout of the search result page trumps the underlying ranking algorithms.

Google has still highly disintermediated brand value, but they did it via vertical search, larger AdWords ad units & allowing competitive bidding on trademark terms.

If Not Illegal, then Scraping is Certainly Morally Deplorable…

As Google scraped Yelp & TripAdvisor reviews & gave them an ultimatum, Google was also scraping Amazon sales rank data and using it to power Google Shopping product rankings.

Around this same time Google pushed through a black PR smear job of Bing for doing a similar, lesser offense to Google on rare, made-up longtail searches which were not used by the general public.

While Google was outright stealing third party content and putting it front & center on core keyword searches, they had to use “about 100 “synthetic queries”—queries that you would never expect a user to type” to smear Bing & even numerous of these queries did not show the alleged signal.

Here are some representative views of that incident:

  • “We look forward to competing with genuinely new search algorithms out there—algorithms built on core innovation, and not on recycled search results from a competitor. So to all the users out there looking for the most authentic, relevant search results, we encourage you to come directly to Google. And to those who have asked what we want out of all this, the answer is simple: we’d like for this practice to stop.” – Google’s Amit Singhal
  • “It’s cheating to me because we work incredibly hard and have done so for years but they just get there based on our hard work. I don’t know how else to call it but plain and simple cheating. Another analogy is that it’s like running a marathon and carrying someone else on your back, who jumps off just before the finish line.” Amit Singhal, more explicitly.
  • “One comment that I’ve heard is that “it’s whiny for Google to complain about this.” I agree that’s a risk, but at the same time I think it’s important to go on the record about this.” – Matt Cutts
  • “I’ve got some sympathy for Google’s view that Bing is doing something it shouldn’t.” – Danny Sullivan

What is so crazy about the above quotes is Google engineers knew at the time what Google was doing with Google’s scraping. I mentioned that contrast shortly after the above PR fiasco happened:

when popular vertical websites (that have invested a decade and millions of Dollars into building a community) complain about Google disintermediating them by scraping their reviews, Google responds by telling those webmasters to go pound sand & that if they don’t want Google scraping them then they should just block Googlebot & kill their search rankings

Learning the Rules of the Road

If you get a sense “the rules” are arbitrary, hypocritical & selectively enforced – you may be on to something:

  • “The bizrate/nextag/epinions pages are decently good results. They are usually well-format[t]ed, rarely broken, load quickly and usually on-topic. Raters tend to like them” … which is why … “Google repeatedly changed the instructions for raters until raters assessed Google’s services favorably”
  • and while claimping down on those services (“business models to avoid“) … “Google elected to show its product search OneBox “regardless of the quality” of that result and despite “pretty terribly embarrassing failures” ”
  • and since Google knew their offerings were vastly inferior, “most of us on geo [Google Local] think we won’t win unless we can inject a lot more of local directly into google results” … thus they added “a ‘concurring sites’ signal to bias ourselves toward triggering [display of a Google local service] when a local-oriented aggregator site (i.e. Citysearch) shows up in the web results””

Google’s justification for not being transparent is “spammer” would take advantage of transparency to put inferior results front and center – the exact same thing Google does when it benefits the bottom line!

Around the same time Google hard-codes the self-promotion of their own vertical offerings, they may choose to ban competing business models through “quality” score updates and other similar changes:

The following types of websites are likely to merit low landing page quality scores and may be difficult to advertise affordably. In addition, it’s important for advertisers of these types of websites to adhere to our landing page quality guidelines regarding unique content.

  • eBook sites that show frequent ads
  • ‘Get rich quick’ sites
  • Comparison shopping sites
  • Travel aggregators
  • Affiliates that don’t comply with our affiliate guidelines

The anti-competitive conspiracy theory is no longer conspiracy, nor theory.

Key points highlighted by the European Commission:

  • Google systematically positions and prominently displays its comparison shopping service in its general search results pages, irrespective of its merits. This conduct started in 2008.
  • Google does not apply to its own comparison shopping service the system of penalties, which it applies to other comparison shopping services on the basis of defined parameters, and which can lead to the lowering of the rank in which they appear in Google’s general search results pages.
  • Froogle, Google’s first comparison shopping service, did not benefit from any favourable treatment, and performed poorly.
  • As a result of Google’s systematic favouring of its subsequent comparison shopping services “Google Product Search” and “Google Shopping”, both experienced higher rates of growth, to the detriment of rival comparison shopping services.
  • Google’s conduct has a negative impact on consumers and innovation. It means that users do not necessarily see the most relevant comparison shopping results in response to their queries, and that incentives to innovate from rivals are lowered as they know that however good their product, they will not benefit from the same prominence as Google’s product.

Overcoming Consensus Bias

Consensus bias is set to an absurdly high level to block out competition, slow innovation, and make the search ecosystem easier to police. This acts as a tax on newer and lesser-known players and a subsidy toward larger players.

Eventually that subsidy would be a problem to Google if the algorithm was the only thing that matters, however if the entire result set itself can be displaced then that subsidy doesn’t really matter, as it can be retracted overnight.

Whenever Google has a competing offering ready, they put it up top even if they are embarrassed by it and 100% certain it is a vastly inferior option to other options in the marketplace.

That is how Google reinforces, then manages to overcome consensus bias.

How do you overcome consensus bias?

Categories: 

Announcing Data Studio: our free, new, Data Visualization Product

Earlier this year, as part of the Google Analytics 360 Suite announcement, we unveiled a new data visualization and reporting platform for large enterprises — Data Studio 360.

Yesterday, at the Google Performance Summit, we announced a free version of Data Studio for individuals and smaller teams. Data Studio lets you connect to all your marketing data and turn that data into beautiful, informative reports that are easy to understand, share, and fully customizable. We wanted to take a moment to give you some of the details about Data Studio.

Making it easy to share data within your organization — or with the world

One of the fundamental ideas behind Data Studio is that data should be easily accessible to anyone in an organization. We believe that as more people have access to data, better decisions will be made.

With multiple data connectors, you can now easily create dashboards from many different types of data and share with everyone in your organization – and you can mix and match data sources within a single report. For example, you can combine Google Analytics data and Google AdWords data into a single report.

Today, we’re offering multiple data connectors, so you can connect to Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Google Sheets and many other Google services. But Data Studio offers integration with a wide variety of data sources. There’s also a connector for BigQuery and we will soon have connectors to SQL databases that will let you access first party data.

Data Studio is more that just sharing reports with other people — it’s true collaboration. We used the same infrastructure as Google Docs, so you can edit reports together, in real time. This is useful as you combine data from multiple teams and need others to add analysis and context to the report.

Visualization tools to style your reports and data 

In addition to new sharing and collaboration tools, Data Studio gives you many flexible ways to present your data. Sure, there’s the usual assortment of bar charts, pie charts, and time series. But we’ve also included some new visualizations — like bullet charts that help you communicate your progress towards a business goal.

Another advanced feature is the ability to create a heatmap using tabular data. This visualization makes it easy to instantly identify outliers within a table of data.

Data Studio also has an array of other features to help you customize how you present your data. There are a number stylistic tools that enable you to design your reports to represent your specific brand. There are also interactive data controls, like a date picker and dynamic filters, that enable report editors to make reports interactive for viewers.

For example, let’s say you want to let users segment a report by country. Just add a control element to the top of your report and the user can dynamically segment the data. In the image below the check boxes will change the data in the map and data table based on what a user selects.

These are just a few of the tools that you can use to help others in your organization understand data. 

Two versions for different types of organizations

 The primary difference between Data Studio 360 and the free version, Data Studio, is the the number of reports you can create, which is five per account. Both versions support connecting to unlimited data sources and offer unlimited report viewing, editing and collaboration. For more information, check out our Help Center.

Getting started

If you’re ready to get started, watch this brief overview that will help you build your first reports.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FTUpceqWnc]

Then check out the interactive walkthrough – it’s built with Data Studio. Just choose “Welcome to Data Studio (Start Here)” from the list of reports in your account.

 Data Studio is currently available to users in the United States and we’ll be rolling it out to other geographic regions throughout the year. We hope it helps you share more data and make better business decisions.

Happy Dashboarding,

Posted by Nick Mihailovski & Nathan Moon, Data Studio team

How to Research the Path to Customer Purchase – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Moving your customers down the funnel from awareness to conversion can make for a winding and treacherous road. Until you fully research and understand the buying process inside and out, it’s far too easy to make a misstep. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand steps back to take a higher-level look at the path to customer purchase, recommending workflows and tools to help you forge your own way.

How to Research the Path to Customer Purchase Whiteboard

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about the path to customer purchase and how to research that path. The reason this is so critical is because we have to understand a few things like our content and conversion strategy around where do we need to be, what content we need to create, how to position ourselves, our product, our brand, and how to convert people. We can’t know this stuff until we truly understand the buying process.

We’ve done a lot of Whiteboard Fridays that involve very, very tactically specific items in one of the steps in these, like: how to understand the awareness funnel and how to build your social media audience; or how to get into the consideration process and understand how you compare against your competition; or how to convert people at the very end of the buying cycle on a landing page.

But I want to take a step back because, as I’ve talked to a lot of you out there and heard comments from you, I think that this bigger picture of, “How do I understand this research process,” is something we need to address.

Buyers: Who are they?

So let’s start with: How do we understand who our buyers actually are, and what’s the research process we can use for that? My general sense is that we need to start with interviews with a few people, with salespeople if you’re working with a team that has sales, with customer service, especially if you’re working with a team that has customer service folks who talk to lots of their audience, and potentially with your target demographic and psychographic audience. Demographic audience would be like: Where are they, what gender are they, and what age group are they? Psychographics would be things around their interest levels in certain things and what they consume and how they behave, all of that type of stuff.

For example, let’s say we’re going to go target Scotch whisky drinkers. Now, I am personally among that set of Scotch whisky drinkers. I’m big fan of a number of scotches, as are many Mozzers. In fact, I have a bottle of Ardbeg — I think it’s the Uigeadail — in my office here at Moz.

So I might go, “Well, let’s see. Let’s talk to the people who sell whisky at stores. Let’s talk to the people who sell it online. Let’s talk to the customer service folks. Let’s do interviews with people who are likely Scotch buyers, which are both male and female, perhaps slightly more demographically skewed male, tend to be in a slightly wealthier, maybe middle income and up income bracket, tend to be people who live in cities more than people who live in urban and rural areas, tend to also have interests around things like fashion and maybe automobiles and maybe beer and other forms of alcohol.” So we can figure out all that stuff and then we can do those interviews.

What we’re trying to get to is a customer profile or several customer profiles.

A lot of folks call this a “customer persona,” and they’ll name the persona. I think that’s a fine approach, but you can have a more abstract customer profile as well.

Then once you have that, you can use a tool like Facebook, through their advertising audience system, to research the quantity of people who have the particular attributes or affiliations that you’re seeking out. From there, you can expand again by using Facebook and Twitter. You could use Followerwonk, for example in Twitter specifically, to figure out: What are these people following? Who are their influencers? What are the brands they pay attention to? What are the media outlets? What are the individuals? What are the blogs or content creators that they follow?

You can also do this with a few other tools. For example, if you’re searching out just content in general, you might use Google Search. You could do this on Instagram or Pinterest or LinkedIn for additional networks.

There’s a very cool tool called FullContact, which has an API that essentially let’s you plug in let’s say you have a set of email addresses from your interview process. You can plug that into FullContact and you can see the profiles that all of those email addresses have across all these social networks.

Now I can start to do this type of work, and I can go plug things into Followerwonk. I can go plug them into Facebook, and I can actually see specifically who those groups follow. Now I can start to build a true idea of who these people are and who they follow.

What needs do they have?

Now that I’ve researched that, I need to know what needs those folks actually have. I understand my audience at least a little bit, but now I need to understand what they want. Again, I go back to that interview process. It’s very, very powerful. It is time-intensive. It will not be a time-saving activity. Interviews take a long time and a lot of effort and require a tremendous amount of resources, but you also get deep, deep empathy and understanding from an interview process.

Surveys are another good way to go, but you get much less deep information from them. You can however get good broad information, and I’ve really enjoyed those. If you don’t already have an audience, you can start with something like SurveyMonkey Audience or Google Surveys, which let you target a broad group, and both of those are reasonable if you’re targeting the right sorts of broad enough demographics or psychographics.

The other thing I want to do here is some awareness stage keyword research. I want to understand that this awareness phase. As people are just understanding they have a problem, what do they search for? Keyword research on this can start from the highest level.

So if I’m targeting Scotch, I might search for just Scotch by itself. If I plug that into a tool like Keyword Explorer or Keyword Planner or KeywordTool.io, I can see suggestions like, “What’s the best Scotch under $50?” When I see that, I start to gain an understanding of, “Oh, wait a minute. People are looking for quality. They also care about price.” Then I might see other things like, “Gosh, a lot of people search for ‘Islay versus Speyside.’ Oh, that’s interesting. They want to know which regions are different.” Or they search for “Japanese whisky versus Scotch whisky.” Aha, another interesting point at the awareness stage.

From there, I can determine the search terms that are getting used at awareness stage. I can go to consideration. I can go to comparison. I can go to conversion points. That really helps me understand the journey that searchers are taking down this path.

It’s not just search, though. Any time I have a search term or phase, I want to go plug that into places like Facebook. I want to plug it into something like Twitter search. I want to understand the influencers on the networks that I know my audience is in. That could be Instagram. It could be Pinterest. It could be LinkedIn. It could be any variety of networks. It could be Google News, maybe, if I’m seeing that they pay attention to a lot of media.

Then once I have these search terms and awareness through the funnel, now I’ve got to understand: How do they get to that conversation point?

Once I get there, what I’m really seeking out is: What are the reasons people bought? What are the things they considered? What are the objections that kept some of them from buying?

Creating a content & conversion strategy.

If I have this, what I essentially have now is the who and the what they’re seeking out at each phase of this journey. That’s an incredibly powerful thing that I can then go apply to…

Where do I need to be?

“Where do I need to be” means things like: What keywords do I need to target? What social platforms do I need to be on? Where do I need to be in media? Who do I need to influence who’s influencing my audience?

It tells me what content I need to create.

I know what articles or videos or visuals or podcasts or data my audience is interested in and what helps compel them further and further down that funnel.

It tells me a little bit about how to position myself in terms of things like style and UI/UX.

It also tells me about benefits versus features and some of the prototypical users. Who are the prototypical users? Who should I showcase? What kinds of testimonials are going to be valuable because people say, “Ah, this person, who is like me, liked this product and uses it. Therefore it must be a good product for me.”

Lastly, it tells me about how we can convert our target audience.

Then it also tells us lastly, finally, through those objections and the reasons people bought, the landing page content, the testimonials to feature and what should be in those. It tells me about the conversion path and how I should expect people to flow through that: whether they have to come back many times or they make the purchase right away. Who they’re going to compare me against in terms of competitors. And finally the purchase dynamics: How do I want to sell? Do I need a refund policy? Do I need to have things like free shipping? Should this be on a subscription basis? Should I have a high upfront payment or a low upfront payment with ballooning costs over time, and all that type of stuff?

This research process is not super simple. I certainly haven’t dived deep on every one of these aspects. But you can use this as a fundamental architecture to shape how you answer these questions in all of the web marketing channels you might pursue. Before you go pursue any one given channel, you might want to try and identify some of the holes you have in this.

If you have questions about how to do this, go through and do this research first. You’ll have far better results at the end.

All right, everyone. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Find Your Readers: 6 Marketing Channels (and which ones to pick)

crowd

Creating great content is pointless…

…unless you’re getting it in front of your target audience.

You do this by using any one of a number of promotional tactics to reach your target audience on a variety of platforms.

Most of these platforms can be grouped together, and that’s where we get marketing channels. A promotional tactic can then be applied to most of the platforms in the channel.

For example, social media is a marketing channel, consisting of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Depending on whom you ask, you’ll get different answers to the question of how many marketing channels there really are.

The number gets even more complicated if you consider that there are many offline marketing channels as well.

However, for most of us, the number of channels doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that there is a handful of core channels that are by far the most effective digital marketing channels.

That’s what this post is all about.

We’ll go over the six main digital marketing channels you should at least be familiar with. On top of that, I’m going to show you how to evaluate each channel to determine whether it’s worth your time.

The real power of studying channels: If you want to learn this stuff because you love marketing, that’s great. But there’s also a great practical reason for you to want to learn it.

Once you learn how to identify the best marketing channels for your business, you can study them and create content for those specific channels (and sites in them).

By targeting content towards a specific audience, you’re much more likely to create something they’ll love and want to read. 

Channel #1: Search engines (SEO) is the best place to start

There are very few websites that wouldn’t benefit from search engine traffic.

No matter what industry you’re in, some of your target customers are using search engines to search for something.

That doesn’t mean you should necessarily spend all your time on SEO. It’s not always the best channel, but it’s one that you must research.

What you should be looking to do at this point is just some basic keyword research. Afterwards, you can do some more advanced keyword research with these resources:

Here, we just want to see the general number of searches your target audience does every month.

For that, the Google Keyword Planner will work just fine.

Start by entering some broad niche keywords. For example, “content marketing” or “social media marketing” if you were starting a blog like Quick Sprout.

image07

Look through the list that comes up, and see how many keywords have a significant search volume (at least a few hundred per month).

While you’re missing out on a lot of keywords using this simplistic method, you want to see at least 50 keywords worth targeting.

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to searching for keywords, find a close competitor in your niche.

Then, enter their URL in the website field of the keyword planner instead of typing in keywords.

If they have a WordPress blog, you can typically add “/feed” to the end of their blog URL to get a more complete set of keywords.

For example, instead of entering:

https://www.quicksprout.com/blog/

enter:

https://www.quicksprout.com/blog/feed

That will give you a set of really broad keywords, and you can enter any of those into the tool to get a list to analyze.

image05

Channel #2: If you want readers fast, PPC (pay-per-click advertising) is the way

When you identify a marketing channel, you first want to make sure you can actually reach your readers through it.

After, you need to decide if it’s ideal for your business. All channels have their strengths and weaknesses.

SEO, for example, can provide you with steady, high-quality free traffic. The downside is that it is hard to earn that traffic, can take a long time to get, and requires an upfront investment.

PPC, on the other hand, allows you to drive the same type of traffic (if you’re using AdWords) from day one of publishing content. There are also many more platforms you can use other than search such as Facebook advertising, LinkedIn advertising, or even a small network like 7search.

The downside is that it’s expensive, and if you don’t have a solid conversion funnel in place, you’ll end up wasting that traffic and losing money.

When can you use paid advertising? Another benefit of PPC is that you can use it for virtually any niche.

If there’s search traffic, you can advertise on Google or Bing.

If it’s most popular on social media, you can advertise there.

If you have a significant content promotion budget (on an ongoing basis), PPC is an option at your disposal.

However, if you don’t already have a solid sales funnel, be prepared to lose money.

image03

Your time should mostly be spent optimizing ads and conversion rates of your content (readers into email subscribers). From there, you’ll need to determine the best way to sell to those subscribers.

Channel #3: You don’t always have to compete with other blogs

If you’re starting a blog, I sure hope there are at least a few other, remotely similar to yours, popular blogs that already exist.

If not, there probably aren’t many potential customers reading blogs in that niche, and you’re wasting your time. The one exception is if you’re writing about a very new topic that has just started growing.

These blogs are usually seen as competition, but they don’t have to be.

A reader is not an all-or-nothing asset. A reader can follow multiple blogs.

If you give blog owners an incentive, you may be able to get them to allow you to get your message in front of their readers.

How?

The main ways are:

  • Guest-posting – I guest-post on a regular basis and have written multiple guides to using it effectively. Here, the incentive is free content for the site owner. Of course, you need to make sure that your content is good enough to be worth it. Not all blogs allow guest posts, but many do.
  • Joint content – For all my advanced guides (in the sidebar), I’ve gotten help from respected bloggers in each niche. They get publicity, and I get help with my content.

image04

  • Sponsored posts – You can contact a blogger and offer to sponsor a post. These typically involve a few mentions naturally throughout a post.
  • Joint ventures – You can even get involved with a product a blogger sells and help improve it. Their customers will see you in a very good light, and many will follow you because of it.

For now, you want to find as many of those blogs as you can.

It’s pretty easy these days. Start by Googling a phrase like “top (niche) blogs.”

image09

You’ll probably find at least a few results, featuring long lists of blogs in your niche.

Write these down somewhere.

You can also head to Alltop, find your niche in the menu bar, and then write down the blogs that come up:

image08

Traffic is king: There’s no point in doing a guest post on a site with very little traffic. Even if your post is great, you’ll only get a few readers from it.

Your next step is to estimate the traffic levels of each site you wrote down.

Visit each site, and look for:

  • Average number of comments on each post
  • Average number of social shares
  • How well designed the site is
  • Whether the number of subscribers is listed anywhere

It’s hard to know if a site has a lot of traffic, but if it’s getting 5+ comments or 100+ social shares on each post, it has enough to consider partnering with.

Filter out all the low traffic sites. If you still have 20+ sites left to potentially work with, then these blogs are another channel you can target.

Channel #4: Can you be social?

Social media sites are usually hit or miss.

Some niches, like fitness, food, fashion, and even marketing to a degree, are highly shareable.

In order to use social media effectively, you need those extra followers and readers you get from “likes” and “shares.”

That’s why you don’t see a lot of asphalt companies or paper companies killing it on social media. It’s really hard to create shareable content in those niches.

To see whether it’s viable for your niche, you can use Buzzsumo, a tool I’ve mentioned many times before. Not only will it show you if your niche is popular on social media, but it will also tell you which social media sites to focus on.

Type your niche into the top content tool. If the results seem irrelevant, add quotation marks around your keyword:

image10

In addition to the core keywords, I recommend typing in a few related keywords for more data.

You’re looking for two things here:

  1. Is content in my niche shareable? – If there are several pieces of content with over 1,000 shares, it’s safe to say that your niche is viable on social media.
  2. Which network(s) is most popular? – You’ll likely see that one or two networks make up 90% of the shares. In the case above, Twitter is the dominant source, followed way behind by Facebook and LinkedIn in most cases.

While there may be a few fluctuations, you’ll see that there is a pattern when it comes to the most popular social networks. You’ll want to focus on the most popular ones if you choose to use social media.

Channel #5: Forums are the backbone of the Internet

Forums have been around since the start of the Internet and continue to play a big part in most users’ online lives.

While getting readers from forums doesn’t scale very well, it can be very effective when your blog is new and you need that initial audience to write for.

On top of that, it’s free—other than your time investment.

Here, you need to find out whether there are any popular forums. To do so, Google for “(niche) + forum.”

You need a minimum of one highly active forum. You want to see 100+ users a day making new posts.

Check out the first few results, and see if any meet that criterion.

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You can usually scroll to the bottom of a forum to see how big it is.

Turns out, there actually aren’t any good content marketing forums – bummer.

If you run into a case like this, you do have the option of expanding your scope (“marketing forums”), but it’s usually better just to move on.

Channel #6: Q&A sites

Some might group question and answer (Q&A) sites with social media sites, but I think they’re distinctive enough to warrant their own section.

The biggest Q&A sites are Quora and Yahoo Answers.

Just like forums, these don’t scale well, but they can drive a good amount of traffic to your blog (if you include links in answers).

One bonus is that your answers will rank well in Google for long tail search terms (which are usually questions), which will send you consistent traffic in the future as well.

Head to Quora, and start typing your niche into the search bar. You’re looking for a topic that is exactly the same as yours or close to it (click it):

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Quora provides follower statistics on each topic page on the right. If a topic has a good number of followers (say 20,000+), it’s active enough that you could focus on it as a marketing channel:

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As a side note, here’s my post on using Quora for marketing.

Conclusion

Now that you have a good grasp of the ways to determine whether you could use a channel for marketing, it’s decision time.

Take a look at each channel, and first decide if your audience uses it (as I’ve shown you).

Then, consider the relative popularity of each channel, your budget, and your goals, and determine the top 1-3 channels.

You don’t want to try to target too many channels at once. Instead, focus on one or two, and put all your resources into using them effectively.

If you need help doing this, I’m happy to try to point you in the right direction. Leave me a comment below with as much detail as possible, and I’ll try to help out.

7 Types of Emails to Send Customers to Keep Them Coming Back

As everyone says…

You need to build an email list.

Email marketing provides the highest ROI for most businesses at $40 for every $1 spent (on average).

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I’m sure you see a ton of content on a regular basis that shows you different ways to build that email list. Great.

But how much do you see that tells you how to interact with that list effectively?

I think it’s safe to guess not much.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you had questions such as:

  • What do I send my subscribers?
  • How do I keep open rates high?
  • How do I make my emails exciting?

While I can’t show you all of that in a single post, I’m going to show you 7 different types of emails that most businesses can send.

These types of emails are emails that your subscribers and customers will enjoy getting, will interact with, and will help you build strong relationships. 

1. Exclusive offers make subscribers feel special (but which kinds are best?)

It’s nice when someone, whether a close friend or a relative stranger, goes out of their way to do something nice for you.

As a website owner with an email list, you’re hopefully somewhere in the middle of that friend-stranger spectrum in the eyes of your subscribers.

If you can do something for your subscribers that they really appreciate, it will do many important things:

  • Make them think more highly of you
  • Make them more loyal (to stay a subscriber and to buy in the future)
  • Make them more willing to reciprocate (if you ask for a share, referral, or something else).

The question then is: what can you give them?

For most businesses, an exclusive offer is the best thing they can give.

Let’s go through a few real examples and then some more general situations.

First, you can offer a live event that only your subscribers are invited to. Not only will the event be valuable because it’s live, but it will also be well attended because it’s exclusive.

Bryan Harris often does this, so it must work well for him. For example, here is an email with an offer to attend a private mastermind:

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He sends a few emails leading up to the event and one or two at the last minute. They aren’t complicated—just a brief description of what to expect in the event.

What else can you offer subscribers? Another thing of value that doesn’t cost you much, if anything, is early access.

Matthew Barby created a WordPress plugin and sent this email to his subscribers, giving them free access to it:

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That’s a pretty sweet offer. In reality, Matthew is also gaining his first group of users, which is another win for him.

If you’re launching any big guides or tools, consider getting early feedback from your subscribers.

What else can you offer?

  • Discounts
  • Secret products (like limited one-on-one consulting)
  • Webinars
  • A sneak peak at original research
  • Free samples

Be creative. If you can think of any other ideas, tell me about them in a comment at the end of the article.

2. Give subscribers the gift of convenience

Take care of your subscribers because your list is one of the most valuable assets you own.

You can give value in many ways. Some may be big gestures (email type #1), but even small things go a long way.

If someone is on your list, that means they’ve already told you that they like your content (if they signed up from a blog post, for example).

However, just because they want to hear your thoughts and advice doesn’t mean all your subscribers want it in the same way.

Typically, you’ll email all your subscribers about any new content you create. When you do this, consider giving them alternative ways to consume the content. Make it as convenient as you can.

For example, Tim Urban created a long post about SpaceX. He then sent out this email to subscribers:

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On top of the regular link that he had already sent his subscribers, he sent this email with two other options: a PDF version and an audio version.

It takes a fraction of the time to re-create the original content in a different form, but it adds a lot of extra value.

Nathan Barry offers another way to make your content more convenient.

After he hosts a webinar, he uploads it to YouTube and sends an email with a link to all his subscribers.

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It’s something that I know most subscribers really appreciate, and it also exposes his webinar to those subscribers who forgot to sign up for the event.

Convenience typically comes in the form of different mediums of content.

If you wrote a blog post, particularly a long one, consider emailing it to your subscribers with more than one version:

  • PDF
  • a cheat sheet
  • audio version
  • video summary

Or if you created a video, reformat that into:

  • an e-book
  • an MP3 download
  • a video download
  •  a cheat sheet/summary

You don’t need to create all the formats. Just think about which ones your subscribers would like most and which make sense for the content you made.

3. Short value emails can be a nice change of pace

Think about your subscribers’ email boxes.

Day after day, they get several emails from friends, families, and businesses they like.

What do most of the business emails consist of?

  • “Read our content”
  • “Buy our stuff”

About 90% of business emails fall into these two categories.

And it’s not that those types of emails aren’t valuable to your subscribers—because they are, but some subscribers will get fatigued by them.

If you’re looking to maximize your subscriber happiness as much as possible, consider sending emails that focus on nothing but teaching something interesting to your subscribers.

No links to your content or anyone’s website.

No asking for replies—just a clear show of value.

Bernadette Jiwa is known for her story-telling talent.

She sends out this exact type of email I’m talking about on a regular basis. Sometimes her emails have links underneath, and sometimes they don’t.

Here’s an example of such an email (yes, that’s the whole thing):

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It’s short but gives her subscribers an interesting thing to ponder, which helps them tell better stories (their goal).

It’s a nice break from overwhelming amounts of content (which I may be guilty of myself).

4. Highlights need to be interesting

Email newsletters are nothing new.

Any email sent out on a regular basis that summarizes what’s been happening on a site can be considered an email newsletter.

They’re supposed to consist of highlights.

But like the name implies, they need to consist of the very best of your site.

Whether you have user-generated content or content produced by your writing team, highlight emails are an option.

However, make sure you’re not including everything. But don’t select content randomly either.

You should be giving previews of the most popular content on your site for that particular time period.

For example, Quora (the question and answer site), regularly sends users the most upvoted questions from their feeds.

Here’s what it looks like:

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I would guess that these are automatically generated by the most upvoted questions during the week.

5. One way to show that you really respect subscribers

One goal that every email marketer should have is to form deeper relationships with subscribers.

Admittedly, this is difficult. It’s tough to break down that barrier over email only. You’ve probably never met your subscribers, and by default, they think of you as just another business.

Even if they like your business, most subscribers will still be skeptical about your claim that you care about them and not just their money.

One thing I encourage businesses to do is find employees through their email list.

I’ve done it before, as have many others. Here’s an example of Ramit Sethi sending an email to his list while looking to hire for more than 10 positions:

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When you do this, you make it clear that you think of them as people whom you respect and who you believe have valuable skills.

And it’s good business too. Your subscribers likely have an in-depth understanding of your business and obviously think in similar to you ways (since they like you).

Even if someone doesn’t apply or doesn’t get hired, it’s clear to them that you’re looking to develop partnerships and relationships with people on your list.

It’s one way to break down that barrier a bit and become more than “just another business.”

6. Don’t fall victim to the “curse of knowledge” (deliver your best stuff)

Many bloggers suffer from the “curse of knowledge.”

The curse of knowledge is a fairly old concept. It basically states that it’s hard to understand what lesser-informed people are thinking.

If you’re an expert in math, it would be hard for you to even fathom that someone doesn’t understand something like basic calculus.

It’s the reason why some people are geniuses but absolutely awful teachers. Conversely, someone who just learned something can often teach it best because they understand the perspective of someone who doesn’t know it.

Let’s apply this to your subscribers and content.

Over the years, you might write hundreds of pieces of content. At that point (possibly present day), you’re naturally going to assume that your average new subscriber is more informed than they used to be.

For me, as an example, it’s easy to assume that every new subscriber understands on-page and off-page SEO as well as concepts such as white-hat and black-hat link building.

From that perspective, it’s hard for me to send them my advanced guide to SEO because I’m assuming they already know everything in it.

Chances are, though, your average new subscriber won’t change much over time.

And it’s very likely that my average new subscriber could benefit from more general SEO knowledge before I get to the specific tactics I currently write about.

The autoresponder “crash course”: If you think that this is a problem, one way to fix it is with an autoresponder sequence.

Think of what an average subscriber knew even a year or two ago, and make a list of what they need to learn to get up to speed with the rest of your content.

Then, put together an autoresponder sequence that you send to all new subscribers, where you showcase your old content that teaches these basic concepts.

For example, if you sign up for Wordstream’s list, a PPC optimization business, you’ll get a few emails like this:

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The guides are all older content, and the field may have advanced since it was written, but the fundamentals hold true, and new subscribers will greatly appreciate learning them.

The takeaway from the “curse of knowledge” is that you’re probably giving subscribers a bit too much credit. Don’t assume they’ve read every single post you’ve ever written—because they haven’t.

Don’t be afraid to send emails featuring the best of your older content.

7. Preview big events that subscribers will be interested in (be your own hype man)

You need to give subscribers incentives to open that next email.

There are many ways to do this, but one way is to build hype in advance.

Think about any popular TV show. They show previews for the next episode in commercials and at the end of episodes.

These get you excited, and you make sure you watch the next episode.

Brian Dean does a similar thing really well, but for content.

For example, he sent this email to subscribers:

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In that email, he shared his story about struggling and then finally succeeding with SEO.

It’s an interesting story that draws you in and makes you curious about the specifics of his success (building hype).

At the bottom of the email, he teases subscribers with bullet points that outline what he’s going to show them over the next few emails:

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Right at the end, after building that hype, he tells them to watch out for his next email in which he’ll send the first post about how to succeed with SEO like he did.

You’d better believe that he had a fantastic open rate on that email.

You can do the same. When you’re planning to publish a big piece of content or a new tool, first send an email that focuses on the benefits of it.

If possible, tie it into an entertaining story to suck in your subscriber even more. That will only add to the anticipation.

Conclusion

It’s not enough just to build an email list—you have to use it effectively.

Emails are a great personal way to communicate with subscribers and customers.

Use as many of these 7 types of emails (where they make sense) to start building more meaningful relationships.

If you’re having trouble deciding exactly what to send to your subscribers, just fill me in on your situation in a comment below, and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Case Study in Online-to-Store Measurement: Petit Bateau & Google Analytics

Knowing that many people research products online before going into a physical store to make a purchase, French clothing retailer Petit Bateau wanted to develop a better understanding of the online-to-offline (in-store) behaviour of its customer base. The brand leveraged Google Analytics and its robust features: User ID and Measurement Protocol, to reach the objectives.

Petit Bateau customers in France can shop in 153 physical stores as well as on Petit-bateau.fr. Users log into the website which makes it possible to later match the traffic of logged-in users with subsequent in-store transactions made with a loyalty card.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-RaOdw_tiw]
Petit Bateau uploaded personally non-identifiable in-store data into Google Analytics and discovered that digital played a significant role in driving in-store purchases:

  • 44% of in-store buyers had visited the site within the seven days before making their purchases, 
  • 9% of in-store buyers had visited the site on the same day as their purchase in the physical shop. 

Further analysis revealed that the online-to-store effect was particularly important on mobile. Mobile visitors converted within stores at an 11% higher rate than desktop visitors, and their in-store spend was 8% greater.

By using Google Analytics to measure online-to-offline purchase behaviour, Petit Bateau was able to better understand the impact of online marketing on in-store sales and use the data to recalculate AdWords return on ad spend – which proved to be six times higher with in-store sales incorporated. Taking in-store transactions into consideration in this way is enabling Petit Bateau to optimise the brand’s digital marketing programmes, make more informed decisions around media budget allocation and design better experiences for consumers as they move seamlessly between digital and physical shopping environments.

You can find the full case study with all the details here.

Posted by the Google Analytics team

How to Make Analytics Work for Your Videos

When the word “analytics” comes up, most content owners immediately gravitate toward viewership counts. However, though views are important, they’re only part of the larger picture. Truly comprehensive analytics help content creators ensure the videos they produce are providing real ROI.

Without proper analytics, businesses have no way of knowing whether their videos are just popular or are actually converting viewers into buyers. A video that has lots of views but doesn’t lead to sales is little more than a money pit.

With a well-built analytics tracking system, companies can see exactly where their leads come from, how they convert through the funnel, and where their marketing dollars have the greatest impact.

Real Data and Deceptive Views

Most companies recognize how important good data is to their revenue streams. New marketing technologies allow even the smallest companies to get a firm understanding of how their programs are performing across various demographics.

In the recent past, view counts were king. Businesses understood that more viewers equaled more brand recognition and more sales. Views are helpful, true, but they’re one of the easiest metrics to acquire and interpret. Anyone can go to YouTube and see how many views a video has, but that number only reveals how many people started the video — nothing more.

Views don’t tell you whether users left five seconds in, bailed halfway through, or made it to the bitter end. View count could be double or triple the actual engagement figures, but without other indicators, companies have no way of knowing. Engagement is difficult to measure on the whole, but if one video has 10 percent of viewers watching to the end and another has 90, that’s an excellent place to start.

Additionally, view counts don’t say who is watching a video. A video geared toward Baby Boomers in Texas with an actual audience made up almost exclusively of Millennials in New York probably isn’t accomplishing what the content creator intended. Fewer views within the right audience are worth much more than tons of views in the wrong one.

What You Should Measure

If view count isn’t the end-all of video analytics, what is? Predictably, no single statistic is the answer. A comprehensive analytics strategy should include:

Engagement

Measure engagement with both average and time-based metrics. These numbers will show you what percentage of your video viewers are watching and where in your video they’re leaving. You can tell whether people rewatch a specific part several times or whether one particular lame joke or long-winded section is leading people to lose interest and close the tab.

wistia-video-engagement-metricsMonitor how far into your video viewers are watching to identify where you are losing them. Using heatmaps, you can see which sections of a video a viewer is watching more than once.

Play rate

Play rate refers to the percentage of users who encountered your video on a landing page or website and clicked the play button. In short, it tells you how much appeal your video has before engagement begins. More than a simple view count, this ratio can help you identify ways to optimize your video splash screen and where you locate your player.

average-engagement-wistiaUnderstanding where your viewers are watching from helps identify that you’re hitting the markets you want.

Call-to-action response rate

If your video includes a call to action — such as “Click here for more information!” — your analytics should tell you how many viewers answer that call. This number is the most closely tied to ROI because it directly correlates with lead conversions.

Demographics

Look at where in the world your viewers are located. Are you hitting the markets you want? Are there opportunities arising in markets you didn’t consider before? The more specific your demographic information is, the better prepared your marketing and sales teams will be to develop targeted programs and campaigns for different groups.

demographics-countries-wistiaUnderstanding where your viewers are watching from helps identify that you’re hitting the markets you want.

Unique views

Yes, views is still one of the metrics that, when taken as part of a larger whole, can help you form a better strategy regarding the content and placement of your videos. If you have 100 percent of your target demographic fully engaged and completing your call to action but there are only three of them, you might want to figure out a way to get your video in front of more people.

Used properly, analytics will quickly tell you things about your business that would take years to learn without them. A comprehensive analytics strategy will allow you to make better data-based decisions, save time using automatic forecasting models, view and analyze real-time trends, and save money, as all the wasted man-hours you used before can now be spent boosting your ROI.

Start Measuring the Right Way

You know what works, what doesn’t, and what to measure. Now what? Follow these five steps to kick-start your analytics strategy and get better results from your videos:

Choose the right platform to host and track your videos

You have several great options available. YouTube and Vimeo provide the most cost-effective solutions and work well for most businesses, but they don’t provide some of the more advanced analytics that other platforms do. Vidyard and Wistia cost a bit more, but they’re worth the investment thanks to their great analytical tools and integration capabilities with most CRMs and marketing automation platforms, tracking viewers from first click to conversion.

Set monthly and quarterly tasks to analyze your analytics reports

Compare the results with previous numbers to see what changed to determine whether you need to alter your strategy, placement, or content.

Spend time reviewing engagement, total views, and play rate

Many views with little follow-through could indicate that your call to action is weak, while strong results on low numbers could mean your placement isn’t optimal. If your play rate is low, the placement of your video on the page could be poor or your chosen splash screen might not be attracting an ideal amount of attention.

ABC: Always be creating

Marketing is about consistency, and video marketing is no different. Produce high-quality video content on a regular basis to keep people engaged and your message fresh. Analytics allow you to fine-tune your approach with each passing month to maximize your impact by seeing what worked well and what fell flat. Every new video — success or failure — is an opportunity to gather data and learn how to do better next time.

Too many companies mistake sparse analytics for good data or neglect the analytical approach entirely, leading to millions of dollars in lost potential revenue every year.

Don’t leave money and customers on the table. Use analytics to gather and act upon the information you need to boost your ROI, broaden your brand appeal, and grow your company.

About the Author: Brandon Houston is the CEO of Switch Video, a video animation company that produces simple videos that “explain what you do” in an engaging and compelling format. Switch Video has produced more than 800 videos for clients, including LinkedIn, IBM, HP, Bayer, and American Express. Reach out to Brandon on Twitter.