Ready to become a Snapchat Badass?


Ready to become a Snapchat Badass?

Step-by-step guide for systematically growing your Snapchat followers

I’m gonna be honest: I used to think Snapchat was stupid and represented everything wrong with social media.

“Laying in bed @1 pm! OMG I’m such a baddd gurl 😈”

I’d rather have Wolverine give me a glove-less colonoscopy than see another Snap of what your poodle had for lunch.

But, the proof is in the poodle pudding: people love Snapchat and it’s ripe for the taking… IF you do it right.

Most marketers have no idea what they’re doing on Snapchat. They’re blasting out random stories and hoping to breakthrough.

Aint. Gonna. Happen.

You need a clear and simple strategy for systematically growing your followers and building your influence.

Luckily, that’s what our buddy Austin Iuliano has created for you, with Snapchat Mastery.

Lifetime Access to Snapchat Mastery

Snapchat Mastery is a course that will teach you everything you need to know about building a Snapchat empire.

Since over 50% of internet traffic is mobile, you NEED to be using a mobile-friendly platform for the highest engagement and broadest reach. That’s exactly what Snapchat is!

Why is Austin the best person to teach this course?

Well, his Snapchat stories are viewed by thousands of fans, allowing him to generate more sales, find new clients, and reach a broader audience… every marketer’s dream!

Austin’s Snapchat expertise has been featured on the Huffington Post, Small Business Trends, SEM Rush and Social Media Today.

His step-by-step video instruction will make learning how to use all of Snapchat’s features seem like child’s play.

Things you’ll also learn from Austin in his Snapchat Mastery course:

  • How to develop a unique and authentic personal brand that will set you apart from the competition… it’s easier than you think.
  • Storytelling hacks, secret functions and hidden features (like, hands-free filming), and how to turn limitations into competitive advantages!
  • The 6 Secrets to creating addicting content… you’ll have followers itching for more.
  • How to avoid the 8 fatal mistakes that destroy influence, progress and growth.
  • And lots more!

Lifetime Access to Snapchat Mastery

A little sneak peak of the “and more.”

Ordinarily, the Snapchat Mastery course will cost you $249. (And since it’s in such high demand, it’s actually going up to $297 in the next 60 days.)

However, right now, Sumo-lings are getting VIP treatment with a ridiculously low price.

How low you ask?

Only $39 low!

But, this VIP treatment of almost 85% off will not last long.

So, clich here to get lifetime access now for only $39!

Lifetime Access to Snapchat Mastery

Lifetime Access to Snapchat Mastery

If it’s totally worth $249, then passing it up at $39 would be insane!

And yes, this is a lifetime deal! Which is great, because Austin updates the course every six months so you’ll constantly be learning the freshest techniques.

Austin also makes life easier by offering a mobile friendly interface so you can learn as you run on the treadmill, drink your nightly glass of wine, or wrestle a bear (please only professionals for this one).

Lifetime Access to Snapchat Mastery

Not bad Snapchat company.

The material in this course is unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere online.

Snapchat Mastery has interviews with Snapchat pros to flesh out their meaty bacon-bits.

In these interviews, they share the same strategies and tactics they use on a daily basis to work with brands, build their own personal brand, and profit from Snapchat.

(You won’t find that on YouTube. Trust me, we’ve looked.)

Lifetime Access to Snapchat Mastery

More cool people.

Whether you have hundreds of followers or just Grandma, Snapchat Mastery will guide you through every step of the way towards becoming a trusted influencer.

Claim your lifetime access to Snapchat Mastery for only $39 now!

Lifetime Access to Snapchat Mastery

  • Lifetime access to Snapchat Mastery with locked-in, grandfathered pricing
  • Step-by-Step video instruction on how to use all features on Snapchat, market yourself effectively, and build your brand
  • Interviews with top Snapchat influencers and industry leaders to give the inside scoop they use to grow their following
  • 11+ hours of video content & downloadable interactive worksheets
  • Mobile friendly interface and continuous updates to include the latest strategies, tips & interviews
  • Course is updated every 6 months
  • 60-day money back guarantee. No matter the reason.

Expires Sat Dec 31 2016 11:59 p.m. CST

AppSumo Price: $25
Original Price: $249

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4 Design Terms Every Marketer Needs to Know

The transition from text-based to visual marketing is already well underway, as customer demand drives organizations to rethink how people communicate on the most basic level.

Cisco estimates video will constitute 80% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2019, and although marketers are racing to catch up, they’re still behind the times: in 2015, 52% of senior marketing executives believed that visual assets such as infographics, photos, videos and illustration could help them tell their brand story. But given that human attention spans dropped a whopping 33% between 2000 and 2015, from 12 to 8 seconds — and some report its dropped even lower — marketers no longer have any choice in the matter: eye-catching visuals that are quick to digest and easy to share will be an essential tool for any brand moving forward.

But what’s a brand to do when you have no idea what visual assets will be both effective and the right fit for your organization? This post will explain a few essential terms and tips you’ll need to get started.

1. Visual Communication

Visual communication may be the most form of all.

It may sound simple enough: visual communication uses images and visuals to create meaning.

Why?

Because it is likely to become the only way that the majority of marketers communicate with their audiences — so you need to know it when you see it. This isn’t just because people prefer video to text, and are more likely to share photos. It’s also easier than ever for any brand to reach an international audience. Just take a look at Google AdWords, which (finally!) launched a redesign in March, of which an essential part of the design was making it language-agnostic to remove obstacles for audiences with a wide variety of backgrounds and skill sets.

new-adwords-designThe new Google AdWords features clean visualization and icons that communicate the type of information being mapped, no matter what language you speak. Image Source

When necessary, limited text is included to explicate the meaning. Take a look at Starbucks’ visual communication strategy: one tweeted image incorporates autumn leaves combined with moss emblematic of their Pacific Northwest roots, announcing that the drink in hand is both seasonal and rooted in Starbucks’ larger tradition.

Starbucks’ visual communication strategy ensures every piece of visual content is immediately identifiable with their brand. In one of Starbucks’ most-liked tweets of the last few months, autumn leaves communicate the seasonality of the drink while moss connects to the company’s Pacific Northwest roots — no text necessary.

Another tweet reminds customers (without using a single word) that the brand is famous for just how personalizable their products are. Their stores and products project the same visual identity as their social pages. You know a Starbucks image immediately when you see it. That’s effective visual communication.

Starbucks communicates its reputation for personalized drinks, the breadth of its product offerings, and its release of seasonal cups — all in a single, text-free illustration.

But it’s easy to fall short of this goal. A great piece of visual communication should communicate in just the same way as the AdWords interface now strives to: without reading a word, you should be able to look at the design and tell what the graphic is about — what message it’s trying to send.

types-of-visual-communication

Here are a few questions to ask to determine whether your visual content meets the standards that your audiences will hold you to. If the answer is “no” to any of these, rethink whether your content is really communicating effectively:

  1. Ask someone unfamiliar with the graphic or video to glance at it for 5 seconds. Can she tell you what the theme is?
  2. Are you using illustrations and assets custom-made for the content, as opposed to cookie-cutter graphics or clip art?
  3. Is the content targeted toward achieving a single goal?
  4. Are both the design and the copy calibrated to attract and interest your target audience?
  5. Have you kept text to a minimum?

2. Visual Storytelling

Every brand has a story to tell, but with more stories to choose from than ever before, keeping an audience engaged can be a challenge.

The answer lies in what’s already interesting to your viewers: we’re living in the golden age of television and online video; game and virtual realities are becoming more complex every day; and websites encourage visitors to interact actively with their content. Storytelling today has to be something users can see, interact with or hear before they’ll share.

Take a look at Carrington College’s informational motion graphic on springtime allergies:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn4mZTgFXSc?wmode=transparent&modestbranding=1&autohide=1&showinfo=0&rel=0]

It transforms pollen, white blood cells, and even mast cells into humorous characters to reframe what could otherwise be a boring explanation as a story. Every audience is attracted to stories — it seems to be a part of our human DNA. And with the help of clever visual storytelling strategies, anything can become a story.

Visual storytelling uses visual communication to craft a narrative that explains a concept and often evokes an emotional response. It’s ideal for those marketers seeking to share an idea, promote a point of view, or convince potential customers of the quality and effectiveness of their product. As with visual communication, education is one of the end goals, but this approach aims to persuade the viewer to reach a specific conclusion.

Here are a few elements that make for a great visual story:

  1. Plot: You should carefully guide your viewers from beginning to end.
  2. Priorities: Only use the strongest data and arguments. Too much information is overwhelming.
  3. Audience: Identify a single target audience and create a story they can relate to.
  4. Goal setting: If you’re trying to make too many points at once, or share too many ideas, you’ll end up turning viewers away. A targeted, single goal promotes shareability and engagement.

3. Information Visualization

You’ve got more data than ever and no idea how to cull meaning from that data. Or maybe you do know what it means, but it’s nearly impossible to get your colleagues interested in what that data has to say — much less get your customers so excited that they’re willing to retweet that data to their followers. This is where quality information visualization comes in — and “quality” is the keyword.

Information visualization aims to convey meaning as quickly as possible. The primary focus is to educate the viewer, not to persuade them to form a specific opinion. Information visualization can also be aesthetically engaging and even interactive, as The New York Times proves with its visualization of deportation numbers.

trump-deporation-nytimesMassive amounts of data are made meaningful in The New York Times’ visualization of U.S. deportation numbers. The graphic transforms as readers scroll down. Image Source

But to be effective, you need to use visualizations that stand up to scrutiny, follow mathematical and scientific best practices, and quickly communicate the big picture. Not everyone is up to this task. Here are a few essentials for when you’re visualizing information:

  1. Check your graphs: Using a pie chart for something that’s not a percentage or setting inconsistent scales for your graphs are both big errors that could take center stage instead of your actual message.
  2. Keep it simple: Don’t try to pack too much information into one image. One graph should have one takeaway.
  3. Focus on the message: Getting lost in the data is the opposite of the point. Help readers understand what’s important and why through careful organization of the content, as well as icons and illustrations when necessary.

4. Visual Campaigns

What if you have a more complex story to tell? Most companies do. One piece of content just can’t say everything you need to say.

One piece of content — even if it’s a social post that goes viral or a video that gets thousands of likes — also isn’t likely to assure the long-term success of your company. That’s why more and more organizations are looking at improving their branding by placing more emphasis on visual content and creating a consistent look and feel that will span multiple marketing campaigns and a variety of content types, from motion graphics and interactive pages to infographics and social posts. At the same time, marketing campaigns are now expected to have a consistent and recognizable visual element — something that can be recognized instantly.

Take a look at how Coca-Cola’s one brand campaign launched this year. Its products were available in dozens of countries, with dozens of looks designed for maximum appeal wherever they were sold. It was a massive undertaking, but the company pared down its product design to just four universally recognizable packages.

coca-cola-one-brandImage Source

Coca-Cola’s old strategy was to create new branding for each new product. Now, they’ve united their global branding with four consistent, and instantly recognizable, colors, each of which is visible on all sides, no matter which way the bottle or can is turned on the shelf.

“When people see this new brand identity, they’ll know they’re buying a Coca-Cola,” explained James Sommerville, vice president of global design.

This is all to say that companies are redesigning all their customer-facing content to offer up a consistent visual message. Here are just a few of the benefits of undertaking a visual campaign:

  1. The consistent use of quality assets across your brand communicates an overall dedication to quality that customers today are equipped to recognize and prepared to appreciate through engagement and sharing.
  2. A single face for your visual content communicates that you’re committed to authentic and honest communication — not changing your stripes with every new piece of content.
  3. Multiple visual assets can reach a broader audience because of their adaptability to different platforms.
  4. A consistent look builds brand awareness.

Conclusion

In the end, visual communication is an indispensable tool for any marketer, but execution is key. Not just any visual content will do the job. Consumers ignore sloppily designed or cookie-cutter graphics in favor of those that inspire — not only in how they look but also in how they deliver their primary message. Armed with these essential terms and a list of dos and don’ts, you’ll be well prepared to avoid the pitfalls as you navigate to the visual communications agency that’s right for your brand.

About the Author: Erin McCoy is the Public Relations Manager for Killer Infographics.

3 Simple & Effective Email Marketing Resolutions for the New Year

The New Year is fast approaching, and everyone knows what that means — it’s time to start making your resolutions! But as you reflect on the past 12 months and promise yourself to exercise more or learn a new language, why not take the opportunity to also set a few email marketing resolutions for your business?

Whether you’ve seen a decline in engagement and want to get things back on track, or you want to take a successful strategy to the next level, the beginning of a new year is the perfect time to whip your email marketing program into shape. To help give your campaigns a boost in 2017, here are three simple and effective resolutions you might consider for your email marketing — plus tips that will make sticking to them a cinch.

1. Win ’em back

After the ball has dropped and folks get back into their post holiday routines, it’s a great time to send out a winback campaign. A winback is typically used to get people who purchased or considered purchasing from you a while ago to come back and give your product or service another try. But you need to be thoughtful about how you go after them. Many people may have post-holiday shopping burnout or have resolved not to buy for a while in the New Year. Try to anticipate their needs and appeal to those. For instance, many people resolve to get more organized, lose weight, or be more efficient. How can your products or services meet those needs?

Or, if you’re in sales, you can reach out to folks who may have considered using your service in the past, but perhaps chose a different provider. See if their needs are being met, and remind them of any changes, improvements, or upgrades that have been made that may influence their decision.

2. Remind them of your value

During the holiday season and just thereafter, many people go on an unsubscribe bender in which they unsubscribe from any email lists they think aren’t providing value. This often happens because people get inundated with so much email during the holidays. In 2015, email deliveries increased by 25 percent compared to the 2014 holiday season. 

So what can you do to stay in your subscribers’ good graces? Remind them of the value your emails provide. What’s in it for them? Do you offer exclusive content, deals, or promotions? Do you send specific content based on their preferences? This email from Yelp, for example demonstrates the benefits of receiving messages from the company. Namely, the content is personalized and helpful, featuring local restaurant recommendations. Take a page from Yelp’s playbook and remind your subscribers why they signed up in the first place and all the good value you provide:

3. Polish up your lists

To enable the best possible delivery rates and engagement, it’s a good best practice to keep your email lists clean and tidy. We recommend creating some subsets of your list (called segments) so you can create more targeted content based on your subscribers’ preferences or engagement. For instance, you can create a list of your most engaged subscribers by looking at everyone who opened or clicked your last 4 emails. These folks could make up a segment you call “Engaged.” You can also segment your list based on people who have made a purchase and those who haven’t to better target offers and promotions.

As you prepare your business for 2017, let these three resolutions guide your email marketing, and you’re bound to see real results in the New Year and beyond.

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Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

© 2016, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

The post 3 Simple & Effective Email Marketing Resolutions for the New Year appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

How to Improve Your Site’s Performance When Using GIFs

Posted by Web_Perfectionist

The GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) format was originally developed in 1987. Debuted by Steve Wilhite of Compuserve, GIFs improved on the black-and-white images in use during that time by allowing the use of 256 colors while maintaining a compressed format that could still be loaded by those utilizing slow modems. Furthermore, web developers and designers could create animations via timed delays. And to this day, little has changed regarding GIFs.

Due to its simplicity, the widespread support for this format, and the ease with which it can be used to stream video clips, the GIF format is the oldest file format still commonly used today. This frame animation feature of GIFs ensures that the format remains popular, despite the rise of JPEG and PNG images.

How to Improve Your Site’s Performance When Using GIFs

In spite of their popularity and ubiquitousness on the Internet (especially with regards to animated GIFs), GIFs are not the most performant of image options. If you are using GIFs on your sites, it’s important that you take care to optimize your GIFs so that they do not create too much overhead.

This article will cover ways to optimize your GIFs, both static and animated, and will offer an excellent alternative you can use to eliminate the page bloat resulting from use of GIFs as animation.

Why should you optimize your GIFs?

Performance matters when it comes to designing your web pages, and GIFs are not the most performant of image options. While they are excellent for capturing your user’s attention and are universally liked for providing short bursts of information in an entertaining way, GIFs were not designed for animation (despite them being commonly used for such). As such, usage of GIFs leads to heavy page weights and poor user experiences resulting from slow page load speeds.

How to improve the performance of your site while using GIFs

In this section, we’ll cover several ways you can improve the performance of your site with regards to using GIFs. We’ll first dig into ways to handle static GIFs, and we’ll end by discussing ways to minimize the overhead resulting from animated GIFs.

There are two methods for compressing images:

One of the primary methods for optimizing GIFs is to compress them. There are two methods of compression that are commonly used:

  • Lossy compression: Lossy compression removes some of the data from the original file, resulting in an image with a reduced file size. However, every time you save the file after compression, the quality of the graphic degrades somewhat, which can result in a fuzzy, pixelated image over time.
  • Lossless compression: Lossless compression preserves all of the data from the original file, which means that the compressed file can be uncompressed to gain the original file. While your file size remains larger than if you had used lossy compression, your image’s quality does not degrade over time.

Later on in this post, we’ll cover the impact of both types of optimization on GIFs.

Improve the performance of sites that are using static GIFs by converting to PNG.

The easiest way to improve the performance of your site is to render your image using the PNG format instead of the GIF format. While the two formats are very similar in terms of being good choices for displaying simple graphics, PNG files have the advantage of being able to compress to a size 5–25% smaller than the equivalent GIF file. GIFs were originally created to use a lossless compression technique called the Lempel-Ziv-Welch (LZW) algorithm, which was defined in the 1970s. However, modern compression techniques are much more performant than LZW, and you can take advantage of this by using formats that utilize these techniques, such as PNGs.

Such file format conversions are pretty easy to do, and there are an abundance of software options you can choose from, including free web-based utilities such as the ones from Pic.io and Convertio.

Improve the performance of sites that are using animated GIFs one of two ways:

Animated GIFs, while extremely popular, can be huge files that require lengthy load times. For example, a GIF that is just a few seconds long can be a few megabytes in size. To improve the performance of your site, use one of the following techniques:

  • Lossy optimization
  • Converting your animated GIF to a HTML5 video

Lossy optimization on animated GIFs

Because the vast majority of data comprising animated GIFs is graphical data, and because lossless optimizations cannot modify graphical data, you have only one viable option when it comes to optimizing an animated GIF beyond the bare minimum: lossy optimization techniques.

Lossy optimizations work because the human eye does not do a very good job at distinguishing between subtle changes in color. For example, an image might contain thousands of shades of one color, with one pixel showing as only slightly different from the ones next to it. Because your eye won’t be able to differentiate between the two shades, the image file can easily be manipulated: One of the colors replaces the other, making the file smaller.

Because animated GIFs are essentially a series of individual GIFs, you can utilize these techniques to decrease the size of your animated file. By making each individual file smaller, your overall file is smaller as well. One way you can do this is by utilizing a simple software suite that can automatically perform such compressions (such as a modified version of gifsicle).

Converting animated GIFs to HTML5 videos

While you can minimize the size of an animated GIF, you may still end up with a file that is larger than it needs to be. GIFs were never intended to store video, and what is now considered animation is really the result of an attempt to reduce overhead on the storage and transmission of multiple images that share identical metadata. Today, however, we have another option that could potentially make your GIFs up to 95% smaller: converting your animated GIFs to HTML5 video.

HTML5 video is a catch-all term for a modern web browser’s ability to play video content using the <video> tag without needing to use external plugins. When this feature was first released in 2009, there was a lot of debate over how such videos would be stored and how they would be encoded. Today, though, the accepted standard is an H.264-encoded video stored in an MP4 container file (which, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll refer to as an MP4 video from here on out). In addition to looking a lot better due to its being designed to stream video, MP4 files are much smaller as well:

Over 90% of modern web browsers support MP4 videos.

There are many ways to convert your animated GIF to MP4, such as the popular open-source command-line tool ffmpeg and the web-based utility Cloud Convert. Using the latter, you can see the file size savings possible by making the conversion.

Here’s the original animated GIF:

sven.gif

Here is the MP4 video that’s created from the GIF:

Sadly, your browser doesn’t support the video tag. This is a smooth MP4 video of the above GIF, which features Oaken from Disney’s Frozen.

Looking at the sizes of the files, we see that the original was 100 KB. By converting the GIF to MP4, we end up with a file that is just 23 KB, which is 75% smaller:

Conclusion

GIFs are the oldest file format still commonly used today due to their simplicity, near-universal support, and ability to be used as animation. Despite these positive features, GIFs tend to be large files, resulting in page bloat that can negatively impact the performance of your webpages and lead to poor user experiences. As such, you should consider serious optimization of static GIFs, moving away from animated GIFs, and implementing video clips using more modern techniques such as HTML5/MP4 videos. And for additional in-depth information on implementing these changes, download Rigor’s free ebook, The Book of GIF: A Comprehensive Guide to Optimizing GIFs.

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Using Surveys to Better Understand the Customer Journey

Your organization has plenty of data about customer behavior that tells you what different customers do where and when. You can see when they visit you online, how long they search, and how much they spend.
But too often the “why” behind their actions remains elusive. With the mountains of information you collect, the insights are often difficult to find, take too much time to discern, or require additional data. All this means it takes marketers too long to get important information that could make a real difference to the customer experience — and the bottom line.
“If you want to have a major impact, you need an integrated approach to see what is happening at all customer touch points and understand how effective you are,” says Joerg Niessing, a marketing professor at INSEAD.
The number of sources of marketing and customer data that a company integrates correlates strongly to performance vis-à-vis competitors, according to a recent study published by INSEAD. The study focused on customer and marketing data, including:
  • Digital analytics, such as optimizing email campaigns, testing content, and analyzing digital pathways to optimize website use and experience.
  • Customer analytics, including lifetime value and loyalty calculations, response and purchase propensity modeling, and micro segmentation.
  • Marketing analytics, such as demand forecasting, marketing attribution models, market mix modeling, and media budget optimization.
  • Sales analytics, including pricing elasticity modeling, assortment planning, and sales territory design.
  • Consumer analytics, including surveys/questionnaires, customer experience research, and customer satisfaction/advocacy modeling.
The study found that those companies that leverage multiple sources and focus diligently on demand generation have significantly stronger business performance, especially total shareholder return.
Straight to the source
But insights uncovered from many data sources often beg the question, “Why?” To answer that, modern marketers go directly to the source: consumers.
Traditionally, companies that use surveys and field research to try to get at the “why” behind the “what” pay a lot of money for information that is often too complex to understand and too slow to arrive. When it does come in, it is sometimes no longer relevant and leaves organizations trying to solve last month’s or last year’s problem at the expense of current ones. Attempting to get speedier or less costly results risks compromising accuracy.
But innovations in market research are changing the game. Easy-to-use survey tools like Google Surveys help marketers fill out their knowledge of customer behavior much faster than traditional surveying methods.
Companies that make use of these fast, convenient survey solutions gain insight not only into what people actually do, but also what they say they will do — and in that gap there could be opportunities. “Marrying digital and marketing analytics with consumer research from surveys gives marketers deeper insights and opens up the number of hypotheses a company can test,” says Suzanne Mumford, Head of Marketing for the Google Analytics 360 Suite. “Marketing today is in near real time and your data should be, too.”

“Marrying digital and marketing analytics with consumer research from surveys gives marketers deeper insights and opens up the number of hypotheses a company can test.”
—Suzanne Mumford, Head of Marketing, Google Analytics 360 Suite

Say your website analytics reveal that one segment of your visitors are highly engaged with your site content, but their visits aren’t converting into sales. “You can ask them directly why they keep coming back but don’t end up buying. Surveys let you take your data one step further and round out the picture of the customer so you can make informed business decisions and tailor your customer experiences,” says Kevin Fields, Product Marketing Manager for Google Surveys.
Supporting business decisions with surveys
Surveys are also useful if marketers find themselves in an internal debate about two campaign concepts. Before making a large investment based on subjective opinion, marketing leaders can validate messaging by asking the target audience about their preference.
For modern marketers, surveys have become an essential element in an integrated marketing approach — they produce insights that complement those uncovered by other data sources. “I want to make sure that the customer voice is front and center but that we also surround it with other data — that we can make really good, holistic business decisions,” says Stacey Symonds, Senior Director for Consumer Insights at Orbitz.

So think about what you’d most like to ask your customers — or those who visit your site but don’t buy. Survey solutions like Google Surveys allow businesses to get sophisticated, accurate data in a matter of days, not months. Because these methods are more affordable and quick, they allow businesses to continually iterate to meet customers’ needs.
“Surveys empower organizations to get answers when they matter,” Fields says. “And getting those insights quickly helps marketing stay nimble.”
Download “Measuring Marketing Insights,” an online Insight Center Collection of articles from Harvard Business Review, to learn how organizations are using market research to gain more consumer insights.
A version of this article first appeared as sponsor content on HBR.org in August 2016.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Organic Traffic Audience Segmentation with Google Analytics

Call it a case of too much of a good thing.

Google Analytics puts a lot of data at your fingertips. It’s a mountain of metrics, and a deluge of dimensions. With it, you can drill deep down into your website visitors, their demographics, and their behavior.

But by default, it just throws everything into one enormous bucket. The reports show stats, graphs, and charts for “All Users/Sessions”.

And while that’s perfect for getting a big-picture-at-a-glance snapshot, you need to break things down a little if you want to find the buried treasure within.

Mixing everything together is good for smoothies, metallurgy, and cocktails. For analytics, you want to separate and segment.

Segmentation in Analytics

Click on any report in Analytics – audience, acquisition, behavior, or conversions – and you get a wonderful presentation of the data collected for your site. For everyone that visited during the chosen time frame (the last 30 days by default).

google-analtyics-audience-overview-30-days

The beauty of Analytics, though, is in whittling away from general to specific. Of finding the statue of David within the block of marble. Or the chewy core at the center of a Tootsie Pop.

With audience segments, you can break that pile of data into more manageable sections based on the criteria that matters most to you. What insights are you looking for?

Segments group visitors together who share common traits or behavior. And the best part? You get to decide exactly what traits and behavior to group.

Knowing how many visitors you had last week is useful. But how many visitors did you have on desktop devices, from the United States, who viewed at least three pages, but left without making a purchase? That’s the power of segments.

Segments give you ultra-targeted insight into audience behavior, like visitors arriving via mobile, from which country, number of sessions with a conversion, visitor type, demographics, traffic source, value, browser, users with multiple sessions, and so on.

Sounds fantastic, right? Yet 41% are not using audience segments at all. Get out of that group.

There’s no end to the possible combinations you could create (although that’s technically not true…you are limited to 1000 segments that can be edited in any View, and 100 segments for any one specific View). Create an uber-precise segment for tracking and analysis that represents your exact audience and serves your particular needs.

Hit vs Session vs User

When creating a segment, you can often assign the scope as either user, session, or hit, so it’s important to recognize the difference:

  • Hit – an individual interaction with your website (usually a page view); a visitor did this, a visitor did that, a visitor…
  • Session – a collection of hits; one complete visit to a website
  • User – a person’s entire journey with your website (may encompass multiple sessions)

Most experts suggest focussing on users and sessions. It’s all about the relationship you have with them.

Segments: A Simple How-to

Getting started is mercifully uncomplicated. Even an Analytics amateur can create, save, and use segments.

To begin, simply click on the +Add Segment button at the top of any report.

add-segment-google-analytics

You’ll next see the Segment dashboard, and you’re presented with several options. Down the left-hand side, you’ll find the View Segments column. You can select All, System (the segments pre-loaded on Analytics, like Converters, New Users, and Organic Traffic), Custom (the segments you’ve made), Shared, Starred (you can save segments to this favorites list by clicking the star beside their name), and Selected (the segments you’re currently using).

Do you want to work with an existing segment (select from the list), import from the gallery (custom segments created and shared by others), or create your own new one (click +New Segment to start from scratch, or click on the Actions dropdown beside an existing one, and select Copy to use it as your foundation)?

new-segment-import-from-gallery

Let’s copy Organic Traffic. This will allow us to build a custom segment for all incoming organic traffic.

The next dashboard displays the current segment parameters. Because we opted to copy and build upon the Organic Traffic segment, there’s already one criteria listed:

Medium > exactly matches > organic

On the right, you’ll see a segment summary (updated in real-time when you add or delete criteria), and down the left are the categories and filters you can use to define your segment.

Options include Demographics, Technology, Behavior, Date of First Session, Traffic Sources, Enhanced Ecommerce, Conditions, and Sequences.

google-analytics-segment-options

So far so good. Still with me?

You’ll want to zero in, so we’ll add a few more filters to this segment. Click on the +Add Filter button.

Next, click on the Ad Content dropdown menu, and you’ll see a long list of possible filters and criteria. Click around. Explore. There’s also a handy search field at the top to save you some time.

We’re going to segment by users who’ve viewed at least two pages during a session:

  • Type “Page Depth” in the search field and select it (it’s found under Behavior if you want to locate it yourself)
  • Click on “=” and select “>” (greater than symbol)
  • In the blank field, enter 2

Your summary will update, and you’ll see Medium: organic and Page Depth > 2 listed under Conditions. This segment now includes all organic traffic visitors who look at three or more pages during their session.

segment-creation-conditions

Starting to get the hang of it? Try this one on your own: add a country filter for visitors from the United Kingdom.

Done? Excellent. You can include that filter by either adding another condition (Users > Country > Contains > United Kingdom), or clicking on Demographics > Location > Country > Contains > United Kingdom. Either way, your summary will update, and your segment will now only count visitors from the UK.

segment-creation-demographics

We can make “organic” even more precise by adding a filter under Traffic Sources > Source > contains > google

Finally, give the segment a name that reflects what it is, such as UK Page Depth > 2 or something similar (whatever works for you), and click Save.

Congratulations. You just created your first audience segment. Kudos! This one will only exhibit organic traffic from the UK arriving specifically from Google that viewed at least three pages. How’s that for precise data?! It’ll be listed with all the other available segments, ready to be called upon whenever you need it.

Basic Segments

But segments don’t have to be complex. They don’t have to include multiple criteria, either. They can be very simple and straightforward:

  • By traffic source or medium (email, social, paid, organic, direct, referral, google, facebook, twitter) to get insight into visitor offsite behavior. Where are they coming from, and how are they finding you?
  • By user type (new visitor vs returning visitor, mobile vs desktop, frequent vs infrequent visitor, long vs short sessions, multiple pageviews vs single page) for insight into their engagement with your brand and company.
  • By location or language to understand your customer demographics better.
  • By Content Viewed (product pages, checkout page, thank you page) to get insight into their onsite behavior.
  • By Engagement (more than x pages, more than x seconds) to see how well your content and presentation is appealing to them.
  • By revenue, product viewed or purchased, brands added to the cart, or even product variants like specific sizes and colors.

The basic categories along the left on the segments dashboard – Demographics through Enhanced Ecommerce (which does require the ec.js plugin) – are easy to navigate and implement. Try them out.

The Advanced Options

Both Conditions and Sequences are considered advanced options. But that shouldn’t scare you (you’ve already mastered conditions).

As we’ve already seen, Conditions simply set a series of criteria that must be met for a visitor to be included in that segment. It allows for a tremendous amount of customization. There’s a bit of a learning curve – finding the right criterion and definition, for example – but there are plenty of tutorials that can guide you from absolute beginner to pro in no time.

Sequences are a series of conditions that must be met in order (step 1, step 2, and so on), but the fundamental idea is the same. A sequence where users visit your cart (step 1) but then don’t go through with an actual purchase (step 2) gives you an audience ripe for a follow-up.

The More the Merrier

Once you have a few favorite segments, you can start to compare one against another. Go to any report, click on +Add Segment, choose up to four different ones, and click Apply. You’ll then see the report with all segments presented at one time…color-coded for your convenience (thanks Google). Compare and contrast.

segment-metric-comparison

Get Fancy

The more comfortable you get with segments, the more you can create ones for every possible group of your audience.

How about a segment that shows you frequent and recent visitors that still haven’t purchased something?

  • +Add Segment
  • Behavior – Days Since Last Session < 5 (less than five)
  • Behavior – Sessions > 4 (more than four)
  • Behavior – Transactions = 0 (no purchases), or even Conditions – Page Title – contains – thankyou.html (your order confirmation page, but make sure you select EXCLUDE rather than include)

Once you’ve created a segment like this one, you can then create an Audience from it, and target only that group with ads promoting your free shipping, or current sale, or special coupon to entice them to pull the trigger (they’re obviously interested).

Creating an Audience from a Segment

Segments give you valuable, targeted data. And that’s a very good thing.

But they can extend beyond the Analytics dashboard if you create an Audience from a segment.

For the UK Page Depth > 2 segment we created earlier, let’s assume you’d like a way to send them – and only them – a special ad for a discount available only to UK residents.

Head to the segments list, find that segment, select Actions, and click Build Audience.

For this to work, your Analytics and Adwords accounts need to be linked (but don’t worry, Google walks you through it if they’re not yet connected).

Choose the View (your ecommerce site) and Destination (your linked Adwords account), and define the Audience. The definitions (i.e. criteria) will be prepopulated based on the segment you selected.

google-analytics-define-audience

On the right, you’ll see a few fields:

  • For segments scoped to hits or sessions, you’re limited to Users over last 7 days (this will present the estimated size of this audience from users that meet the criteria in the last week).
  • Membership duration sets how long visitors will remain a member of this audience once slotted into it, anywhere from 1 to 540 days. If you’re creating an Audience for visitors with a recent purchase, for example, you’d set this for a relatively short period of time.
  • Segments scoped to Users gives the option of lookback days, either 7, 14, or 30. This is a time frame for Analytics to go back and find users that qualify for the Audience.
  • Eligibility tells you where you can share this audience, such as search and display ads (Adwords), or Google Optimize (for testing and personalization).

Give the Audience a name to help you remember it over in Adwords, and click Save. Done.

When you’re next in your Adwords account, you can select this Audience and create a targeted ad for them about your exclusive coupon for those in the land of tea, bangers, and mash.

It may be the gentle push they need.

See how everything comes together in the Googleverse?

Segments allow you to identify strengths, weaknesses, and patterns, find reliable revenue sources, and provide the guidelines to improve where you’re falling short.

There are many stellar custom segments ready to import, you can experiment and create your own, or simply utilize the ready-to-go standard segments there already.

The Google Analytics Help portal provides everything you’d want to know about segments but were afraid to ask.

They’re often ignored, but always beneficial. You can use them to track your most lucrative markets, identify where, when, and how the big spenders are coming to you, remarket to specific groups at just the right moment (via Adwords and Audiences), and more.

Anything you can do to better understand your audience behavior and acquisition is time well spent. Grasp the basics of segments, move on to more advanced techniques, and know your audience like never before.

It’s big data broken down.

Have you jumped in the audience segmentation pool? What filters do you find most insightful? Leave your comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Dominating Any Keyword You Choose

Page one, position one.

It’s the ultimate goal of every SEO marketer.

But of course reaching this goal can be difficult, and there is a seemingly infinite number of variables that determine how your content ends up ranking.

And let’s not forget about Google’s fickleness.

Their unending updates can leave you scratching your head as to what your next move should be.

I know that I’ve found myself frustrated more than a few times.

But what if I told you that there was a specific formula you can follow to dominate any keyword you choose?

What if you could knock it out of the park every time and continually outrank your competitors?

Well, there is!

Not to sound like a sleazy used-car salesman or an obnoxious motivational speaker, but there’s definitely a recipe for crushing it with your keywords.

During the years, I’ve experimented with nearly everything under the sun and have come up with a surefire formula for dominating the SEO game by targeting the right keyword and tailoring your campaign to reach your audience.

Here’s how to do it step by step.

Target descriptive phrases

Your first order of business should be to go after long-tail keywords.

As you may already know, it’s extremely difficult to gain any traction by targeting broad phrases.

There’s just too much competition out there, and the top spots are usually filled by the usual suspects—big-name companies with deep pockets and massive brand equity.

But long-tail keywords level the playing field significantly. They’re what lets the little guys hang with the big boys.

I like to think of them as the low hanging fruit of SEO. A top spot in the SERPs is there for the taking.

My general rule for long-tail keywords is that they should be a minimum of four words.

This should ensure that you have a realistic chance of breaking through and at least getting on page one (if not in the top three spots).

Here’s a nice graph that illustrates long-tail SEO and keyword length:

image03

Notice that the more words you include in your keyword phrase, the more your competition, cost, and risk shrink while your probability of making a conversion increases.

The best part is that there are plenty of long-tail keywords to choose from.

In fact, they account for roughly 70% of all keywords.

Here’s how the “search demand curve” breaks down overall:

image01

And I know what you might be saying.

Hardly anyone will be searching for super specific keyword phrases. It’s going to negate the entire purpose of going this route if there’s a low volume of users who actually find my content.

But as I mentioned before in another article on Quick Sprout, “long-tails don’t have a lot of search volume. But you shouldn’t worry about this. You’re not going for high volume—you are going for focused intention.”

The trick here is to find a long-tail keyword phrase with minimal competition that still receives enough searches to justify you targeting it.

Let’s go back to the example of long-tail keyword SEO. You would be much better off targeting “red Nike mens running shoes” than “mens shoes.”

Finding low competition keywords

If you’re looking for a shortcut, there’s a simple one on Google’s Keyword Planner.

Here’s what you do:

Click on “Keyword filters” located on the left-hand side of your dashboard.

image06

Then click on “Low,” and it will leave a checkmark indicating that you want all your results to have low competition. Then save.

image00

Your results will be populated only by keyword phrases with low competition.

image02

Note: Sometimes there may be pretty slim pickings for low competition keywords. In this case, you may want to also search for medium competition.

This will save you a lot of time from having to manually sift through the results to find something relevant.

If you’re using some other type of software, just look for a similar feature to streamline the keyword research process.

Ideally, you’ll find a keyword phrase that receives a reasonable number of searches but isn’t completely saturated with competition.

Understanding user intent

Intent is everything.

When creating content, it’s vital that you understand precisely what your audience is looking for and deliver the goods.

Let’s look at two slightly different keyword phrases as an example.

Phrase 1: buy red Nike mens running shoes

Phrase 2: red Nike mens running shoes review

Although both phrases are geared toward the same thing—red Nike men’s running shoes—the user is at two very different stages in the sales funnel.

People searching for the first phrase are further along the sales funnel and ready (or at least close to ready) to make a purchase.

In this case, it would probably make sense to incorporate a call to action (CTA) in your content.

However, people searching for the second phrase aren’t quite there yet and are looking for information to help them decide whether this is a product they actually want to buy.

In this case, you would simply want to provide them with the information they’re looking for and warm them up rather than straight up trying to make a sale.

For instance, you might want to point them to other resources on your site, get them to sign up for your newsletter so you can get them to buy later, etc.

Keep this in mind when creating your content because it will influence your approach and how quickly you go for the sale.

I think this graphic breaks down user intent quite well:

image04

The bottom line is that Google’s mission is to provide users with content that best matches their intent.

If you’re able to do that effectively, you have a high probability of achieving a favorable ranking.

Create epic content

Okay, so you’ve selected long-tail keywords with a reasonable number of searches and minimal competition, and you have an understanding of what your audience is looking for.

The next step to dominating the search results is to create epic content that vastly exceeds anything that the competition is doing.

This is perhaps the most important step in the process and your ticket for getting the results you’re looking for.

In fact, I’ve based my entire marketing campaign on this concept.

And not to toot my own horn, but my ability to consistently create in-depth, insightful, and valuable content has been a large part of my success.

How exactly do I go about this?

Well, there are several things that make content stand out, but from my experience, you should focus on the following:

  • Longform content – just over 2,450 words is the average length of content that ranks number one on Google.

image05

  • Use plenty of high-quality visuals for maximum aesthetic appeal
  • Incorporate videos
  • Sprinkle in data-driven charts and graphs
  • Throw in external links to credible and relevant third-party publications
  • Make it scannable (e.g., use short paragraphs, sub-headers, and bullet points)

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I don’t have time to fully launch into all the components that make for epic content here. But you can learn much more by checking out this other post I wrote.

I actually prefer to think of each piece of content I write as “an ultimate guide” instead of just another post.

Having this kind of mindset helps me ensure that I go above and beyond the status quo and increases the odds that my content gets shared, receives mass exposure, etc. so that it inevitably ranks highly.

Circulate your content

Let’s assume your post is in fact epic.

That’s great. But you can’t just sit back and wait for good things to happen.

You need to take action.

But what should you do?

For starters, you’ll want to post it on relevant social media accounts to generate some initial buzz.

If you’ve got a considerable number of followers, that right there should have a decent impact.

But what I really recommend is reaching out to influencers to see if they will link to your content.

If you can make this happen, the number of shares your content receives can skyrocket.

In fact, a study from OkDork and BuzzSumo found that “just having one influential person sharing your content resulted in 31.8 percent more social shares.”

image07

But look what happens as more influencers link to it. The number of shares continues to increase.

Getting five influencers to link to it could be considered the tipping point with a dramatic spike in the number of shares.

For more information on creating content that influencers will link to, just check out this post I wrote.

Conclusion

Let’s recap.

There is a wide array of factors that determine where content gets ranked. However, there is definitely a degree of predictability to the process.

When you use the formula I discussed, you should be able to target the right keywords that you have the best possible chance of competing for.

Then, by building your content around those keywords and following my recipe, you can surpass your primary competitors.

This ultimately translates into a great ranking within SERPs and plenty of highly targeted, organic traffic that’s likely to convert.

What successful tactics have you used to dominate a keyword?

[Gifographic] Better Website Testing – A Simple Guide to Knowing What to Test

Note: This marketing infographic is part of KlientBoost’s 25-part series. You can subscribe here to access the entire series of gifographics.


If you’ve ever tested your website, you’ve probably been in the unfortunate situation of running out of ideas on what to test.

But don’t worry – it happens to everybody.

That’s of course, unless you have a website testing plan.

That’s why KlientBoost has teamed up with VWO to bring to you a gifographic that provides a simple guide on knowing the what, how, and why when it comes to testing your website.

21-vwo-website-testing2

Setting Your Testing Goals

Like a New Year’s resolution around getting fitter, if you don’t have any goals tied to your website testing plan, then you may be doing plenty of work, with little results to show.

With your goals in place, you can focus on the website tests that will help you achieve those goals –the fastest.

Testing a button color on your home page when you should be testing your checkout process, is a sure sign that you are heading to testing fatigue or the disappointment of never wanting to run a test again.

But let’s take it one step further.

While it’s easy to improve click-through rates, or CTRs, and conversion rates, the true measure of a great website testing plan comes from its ability to increase revenue.

No optimization efforts matter if they don’t connect to increased revenue in some shape or form.

Whether you improve the site user experience, your website’s onboarding process, or get more conversions from your upsell thank you page, all those improvements compound into incremental revenue gains.

Lesson to be learned?

Don’t pop the cork on the champagne until you know that an improvement in the CTRs or conversion rates would also lead to increased revenue.

Start closest to the money when it comes to your A/B tests.

Knowing What to Test

When you know your goals, the next step is to figure out what to test.

You have two options here:

  1. Look at quantitative data like Google Analytics that show where your conversion bottlenecks may be.
  2. Or gather qualitative data with visitor behavior analysis where your visitors can tell you the reasons for why they’re not converting.

Both types of data should fall under your conversion research umbrella. In addition to this gifographic, we created another one, all around the topic of CRO research.

When you’ve done your research, you may find certain aspects of a page that you’d like to test. For inspiration, VWO has created The Complete Guide To A/B Testing – and in it, you’ll find some ideas to test once you’ve identified which page to test:

  • Headlines
  • Subheads
  • Paragraph Text
  • Testimonials
  • Call-to-Action text
  • Call-to-Action button
  • Links
  • Images
  • Content near the fold
  • Social proof
  • Media mentions
  • Awards and badges

As you can see, there are tons of opportunities and endless ideas to test when you decide what to test and in what order.

website-testing
A quick visual for what’s possible

So now that you know your testing goals and what to test, the last step is forming a hypothesis.

With your hypothesis, you’re able to figure out what you think will have the biggest performance lift with the thought of effort in mind as well (easier to get quicker wins that don’t need heaps of development help).

Running an A/B Test

Alright, so you have your goals, list of things to test, and hypotheses to back these up, the next task now is to start testing.

With A/B testing, you’ll always have at least one variant running against your control.

In this case, your control is your actual website as it is now and your variant is the thing you’re testing.

With proper analytics and conversion tracking along with the goal in place, you can start seeing how each of these two variants (hence the name A/B) is doing.

a_b-testing
Consider this a mock-up of your conversion rate variations

When A/B testing, there are two things you may want to consider before you call winners or losers of a test.

One is statistical significance. Statistical significance gives you the thumbs up or thumbs down around whether your test results can be tied to a random chance. If a test is statistically significant, then the chances of the results are ruled out.

And VWO has created its own calculator so that you can see how your test is doing.

The second one is confidence level. It helps you decide whether you can replicate the results of your test again and again.

A confidence level of 95% tells you that your test will achieve the same results 95% of the time if you run it repeatedly. So, as you can tell, the higher your confidence level, the surer you can be that your test truly won or lost.

You can see the A/B test that increased revenue for Server Density by 114%.

Multivariate Testing for Combination of Variations

Let’s say you have multiple ideas to test, and your testing list is looking way too long.

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could test multiple aspects of your page at once to get faster results?

That’s exactly what multivariate testing is.

Multivariate testing allows you to test which combinations of different page elements affect each other when it comes to CTRs, conversion rates, or revenue gains.
Look at the multivariate pizza example below:

 

multivariate-testing-example
Different headlines, CTAs, and colors are used

 

The recipe for multivariate testing is simple and delicious.

multivariate-testing-formula
Different elements increase the combination size

 

And the best part is that VWO can automatically run through all the different combinations you set so that your multivariate test can be done without the heavy lifting.

If you’re curious about whether you should A/B test or run multivariate tests, then look at this chart that VWO created:

 

multivariate-testing-software-visual-website-optimizer
Which one makes the most sense for you?

Split URL Testing for Heavier Variations

If you find that your A/B or multivariate tests lead you to the end of the rainbow that shows bigger initiatives in backend development or major design changes are needed, then you’re going to love split URL testing.

As VWO states:

“If your variation is on a different address or has major design changes compared to control, we’d recommend that you create a Split URL Test.”

what-is-split-testing-explained-by-vwo

Split URL testing allows you to host different variations of your website test without changing the actual URL.

As the visual shows above, you can see that the two different variations are set up in a way that the URL is different as well.

URL testing is great when you want to test some major redesigns such as your entire website built from scratch.

By not changing your current website code, you can host the redesign on a different URL and have VWO split the traffic between the control and the variant—giving you clear insight whether your redesign will perform better.

Over to You

Now that you have a clear understanding on different types of website tests to run, the only thing left is to, well, run some tests.

Armored with quantitative and qualitative knowledge of your visitors, focus on the areas that have the biggest and quickest impact to strengthen your business.

And I promise, when you finish your first successful website test, you’ll get hooked on.

I know I was.

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The post [Gifographic] Better Website Testing – A Simple Guide to Knowing What to Test appeared first on VWO Blog.

Facebook Live Updates for Facebook Mentions

Facebook Live started out as a feature of the Facebook Mentions application for celebrities, public figures and journalists, and the social network rolled out a host of updates for Facebook Live on Mentions.

Engineering manager Jesse Chen and product manager Chris Hatfield detailed the following updates to Facebook Live for Mentions in a Facebook Media blog post:

  • Team prompts, which allows users to create drafts of the descriptions for their Facebook Live posts.
  • A new comment-moderation tool, which enables Mentions users to filter certain words and phrases, preventing them from appearing in comments during their broadcasts.
  • Ad adjustments tray, enabling users to customize the appearance of their broadcasts.
  • A broadcaster status bar—being tested with a “small group” of Mentions users—which provides information including audio level, connectivity, and battery status.
  • Trimming, which allows users to eliminate excess footage from the beginning or end of their live broadcasts so that the unnecessary content does not appear in the archived versions of the videos.

Chen and Hatfield provided more details on the new features, saying they will roll out “in the coming weeks”:

While many live broadcasts begin spontaneously, some public figures collaborate with their teams on ideas and themes for a broadcast before going live. With our new team prompts feature, a public figure’s team can create drafts of Facebook Live post descriptions, making it easy for the public figure to review and post via Mentions when going live. The team can also schedule reminders for a public figure to go live or publish posts from the Mentions app at a specific time, such as from an event.

FacebookLiveMentionsCreateAPrompt

Live video on Facebook is social and interactive–fans can react to broadcasts, comment and ask questions. This interactivity is one of the things that make Facebook Live so engaging, but we know that public figures want more ways to help manage these comments. With our new comment moderation tool, people using Mentions can add words and phrases to a blacklist before they go live, which will prevent comments containing those words from appearing during the broadcast. This moderation tool can help make live broadcasts friendlier and safer for broadcasters and viewers alike.

FacebookLiveMentionsContentModerationTool

We’re rolling out an adjustments tray to give people using Mentions more control and customization over how their broadcast appears to the viewer. Now, broadcasters can flip the camera horizontally or vertically, adjust brightness settings and choose whether to mirror the picture or not. The mirroring setting is especially useful when the broadcaster wants to showcase certain text or a sponsor logo during a branded content broadcast.

FacebookLiveMentionsAdjustmentsTray

We are also testing a broadcaster status bar with a small group of people using Mentions. The status bar provides information about audio level, connectivity and battery status while the broadcaster is live. These visual cues are located at the bottom of the broadcast and provide a useful overview of the status of the live video in real-time–for example, the broadcaster could avoid unexpectedly ending the live video due to a dying battery. We’ll be listening to feedback and hope to make this feature available more broadly in the coming months.

FacebookLiveMentionsBroadcasterStatusBar

Finally, we’re excited to introduce trimming, which lets people using Mentions trim excess footage from the beginning and end of their live video after the broadcast has ended. We know that it can sometimes take a few minutes for people to tune in or for broadcasters to field introductory questions from fans. Trimming gives public figures the control to create a more polished viewing experience for audiences who watch a live video after it airs.

Facebook Mentions users: What are your thoughts on these updates?

Do You Really Need to Test Your Site to Improve Your Conversion Rate?

Talk to almost any online marketer and you’d think that they held a PhD in psychology. At the drop of a hat, they can tell you all about what button colors, typeface, contrast, spacing, line of sight, hero shots, etc you should use to subconsciously drive a website visitor to convert.

But do marketers really have these incredible mind powers? Do they wield the awesome power of psychology to control the rest of the world?

Testing the Testers

Recently, Chris Dayley, my head of CRO, ran a little experiment at the SearchLove conference in Chicago. Chris wanted to see how well marketers could use their understanding of psychology, marketing best practice or even gut instinct to predict which landing page design would produce the best conversion rates.

So, he presented an example A/B test from a real client of ours. There were four page variants and one of them had generated a 146% increase in leads. The room of marketers was given a link to a survey where they could examine each variant and submit their guesses as to which page had been the winner.

Take a look for yourself. Which one would you have picked as the winner?

testing-the-testers

Here’s how the marketers voted:

  • Original: 0%
  • V1:32%
  • V2: 42%
  • V3: 26%

Now, only one of the variants actually produced 146% more conversions, so—if we assume that V2 actually was the winning variant—at least 58% of these marketers were wrong.

But that wasn’t the real trick of the survey.

While the marketers were guessing which page had won in Chris’s A/B test, he was actually running an A/B test on them!

Only half of the surveys showed the page variants in the order seen above. The other half saw a scrambled version with the original and V3 switched like this:

testing-the-testers-2

Here’s where things got a little crazy. In the second group of marketers, no one voted for the “original” page—even though that page received 26% of the votes in the first group!

Even more intriguingly, V2 received the most votes in both groups:

testing-the-testers-results

But here’s the thing, V2 wasn’t actually the top-performing page—V3 (the “Control” in group 2) was. That meant the actual champion only got 13% of the popular vote!

The question is, why? How did the vaunted best practices and gut instincts of so many marketers fail them? To answer that, let’s take a step back from marketing psychology and take a look at the psychology of marketers:

Newer is Better

The most obvious thing highlighted by Chris’s experiment was that all the marketers assumed that the highest performing page variant couldn’t be the original. In both groups, the variant labeled “original” didn’t receive a single vote…even when it was the actual winner.

Now, there’s a dangerous assumption at play here. Everyone who puts an A/B test together would like to believe that he or she is going to shake things up and make them better. But can you assume that newer is better?

Null Hypotheses

In scientific testing, there’s a concept called the “null hypothesis.” The null hypothesis states that whatever you change in an experiment won’t affect the results. So, if you change the button color from blue to red, your null hypothesis is that conversions won’t change at all (the effect will be “null”).

In a good study, you’re supposed to act as though the null hypothesis is true until the evidence proves this can’t be the case (kind of an “innocent until proven guilty” sort of thinking). Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen very often.

Selective Perception

Instead of assuming that a change won’t affect conversion rates, most marketers tend to focus on other hypotheses like, “if I change the button color, the conversion rate will go up.”

As a result, many marketers fall into the selective perception (only acknowledging one possibility) trap and assume that new and different will always be better. Clearly, that was the case with this group of marketers.

This is part of the reason why testing is so important. If you just assume that your new idea will perform better and make changes without testing, you could end up hurting your site performance without realizing it!

I Already Know What Works!

So in Chris’s experiment, maybe people didn’t choose the right variant because it was the “original” in one of the groups and they were biased against the null hypothesis.

But why did so many vote for V2?

It’s hard to be sure without tracking them all down and asking them, but chances are that V2 was just the closest representation of their mental image of what a successful page should look like.

Now, having a sense for what a successful page looks like isn’t a bad thing, but if it keeps you from testing, that’s when your marketing skills can get you into trouble.

Appeal to Authority

There are plenty of sources out there that will tell you how a high converting site “ought to look”, but just because something’s “best practice” doesn’t guarantee that it will work on your customers.

A blog post (even this one) or a study by an authority figure should not be the end-all-be-all for your marketing decisions. As helpful and well informed as an expert’s advice might be, it’s still no substitute for doing your own testing.

For example, the most famous example of misplaced trust in authority occurred in 1923, when world-famous zoologist Theophilus Painter incorrectly stated that the human genome had 24 pairs of chromosomes.

Now, future studies quickly revealed that humans have 23 pairs of, but Theophilus was so famous that these scientists threw out their results, assuming they must have been wrong. Textbooks were even printed with pictures of 23 chromosomes, captioned with the number 24!

This went on for over two decades before somebody finally decided that “Theophilus said so” was not a good enough reason to ignore cold hard facts.

Now, I’m not trying to rag on authority figures or studies. They can be extremely valuable sources of information and a great way to come up with testing ideas. However, if you are so focused on marketing “best practice” that you aren’t testing to see how those ideas play out on your own pages, you’re headed for trouble.

In the case of the marketers at Chris’s presentation, many of them may have voted for V2 because they felt like it met the criteria of a “best practice” page. However, “best practice” doesn’t always mean “best results.”

False Consensus Effect

Of course, just because you can’t rely on best practice doesn’t mean that you should just rely on your own know-how instead. In fact, the most dangerous authority figure that you can rely on is yourself.

The problem is, it can be easy to assume that “if the site looks good to me then it must look good to my customers,” when—in reality—customers and marketers are typically more different than alike.

After all, most of your customers have no idea what a landing page is, much less what makes a good one. A marketer might say that his or her site design caused a conversion, but I’ve never had a customer tell me “I converted because of your excellent hero shot.”

Psychologists call the tendency to assume that others think the same as we do the “false consensus effect.” The word “false” in the name ought to give you an idea of how accurate this assumption is.

For example, to many of the marketers at Chris’s speech, V2 may have seemed like the page that would get them to convert. That’s great, but our client wasn’t targeting SearchLove attendees. Their target audience was different and, as a result, converted better on a different page.

Again, this is why testing is so important. Without testing, it’s easy to assume that a page that fits best practice or your own personal preferences will be a slam-dunk with your audience. Sure, that could turn out to be the case, but it’s much more likely that your ideal page design will be just as unique and unpredictable as your audience.

I’ve Got a Feeling…

So, if we don’t know how other people think and we can’t necessarily trust what other people tell us will work best, why do so many marketers think they “know” what’s going to work?

Believe it or not, this is actually a very normal part of being a human. It is surprisingly easy to believe that you have cracked the code on how life works and that you have evidence to prove it.

For example, let’s say you have a theory—“Redheaded people have bad tempers”—originally taught to you in the second grade by a competent authority (Billy on the playground). For the rest of your life, every time you see a redhead lose it, you remember this theory and think, See? That proves it! Billy was right!

But Billy never told you the null hypothesis: “Redheaded people behave the same as everyone else.” So, when you see a levelheaded ginger you think nothing of it and soon forget about it all together. Over the years, you amass a lot of memories of angry carrot-tops, but can’t think of any calm ones, so you decide that your theory must indeed be true.

Psychologists call this behavior “confirmation bias”—the tendency to only pay attention to information that confirms our preexisting opinions.

Unfortunately, confirmation bias is probably where most “marketer’s intuition” comes from.

If you only pay attention to the data that backs up your “gut instinct,” you’ll wind up feeling right all the time. This might be great for self-esteem, but it’s not a real great approach to site design or marketing in general.

You might think you have a great “sense” for what your audience responds to, but if you haven’t tested those instincts, odds are that you’re subject to at least a little confirmation bias.

Conclusion: Stick to the Data

Can you just shortcut the whole testing process and “go with your gut?” Not really…at least, not if you want real results from your online marketing.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to put aside your biases and take a datadriven approach to site optimization, you’ll be in a good position to make a real impact for your business.

So, before you gather your marketing team in a dark room, hold hands, burn incense, and try to “channel” the customer, try putting your hands on some real data and give yourself a reality check.

Did you guess the winning page variant? How good are your marketing instincts? Do you have any examples of when biases held back the potential of a website?

About the Author: Jacob Baadsgaard is the CEO and fearless leader of Disruptive Advertising, an online marketing agency dedicated to using PPC advertising and website optimization to drive sales. His face is as big as his heart and he loves to help businesses achieve their online potential. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

6 Things You Can Do in January to Make Your Blog Better in 2017

6 things you can do in January to make your blog better in 2017 | on ProBlogger.net

As 2016 winds down, many of us are looking towards 2017 wondering what we can do to take our blogs to the next level. Will next year be the year we finally:

  • Turn our blog into a legitimate side-hustle?
  • Score a guest post on a big site?
  • Launch that online course?

Whatever our individual goals might be, every blogger can benefit from doing the following six things in January:

1. Take a break

Those first couple of weeks in January? Everyone’s either still on holiday, or slowly working their way back into the new year after the craziness of Christmas. If ever there was a good time to take a blog hiatus, this is it. Many people fret that if they take time off they will lose the momentum they’ve spent the whole year building. Experience has taught me nothing is further from the truth. A hiatus makes your readers miss you and this is always a good thing.

Give yourself permission to have at least the first two weeks of January off. Don’t post anything on your blog. Reduce the time you’re spending on social media. Use that time to catch up on reading and go for long walks.

Not only will you be mentally refreshed when it comes time to write on your blog again, you’ll also have a ton of ideas ready to work on.

2. Reflect on 2016

January’s also a good time to do deep dive into your stats. Analyse what was common to your most popular posts. Make a note of the posts you most enjoyed writing. Identify the things you thought would go well, but didn’t.

The difference between a good blog and a great blog lies at the intersection of what your readers enjoy reading, and you enjoy writing. It’s difficult to identify where that intersection lies if you never take time to reflect.

3. Run a survey

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years, it’s that many of the assumptions I make are wrong. Which is why it’s good policy to always test your assumptions and there’s no better way to do this than via a survey.

Identify the assumptions you have made about who your readers are and what kind of information they want from you … and then create a survey that tests those assumptions. The results you get might lead to a slight change in direction that makes all the difference for your blog in 2017.

4. Set goals like a ninja

January is not the time for vague statements like ‘I want to be a better blogger in 2017’. January is the time for identifying exactly what you want to achieve and then ensuring the things you are striving for are SMART goals:

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable {Source}

What your 2017 SMART goals might look like:

  1. Increase my email subscribers by 5% in the first quarter of the year
  2. Publish eight quality posts over the course of February and March
  3. Send out a subscriber email every week without fail
  4. Start a podcast
  5. Create an e-book

5. Map out the exact steps for achieving your goals

Telling yourself ‘I will increase my email subscribers by 5% in the first quarter of the year’ is one thing. Doing it is another. (Sounds silly, but quite often I see people thinking the setting of the goal is all they need to do to achieve it.)

What actually allows you to achieve your goal is mapping out, step-by-step, the things you are going to do to get there.

The steps for increasing your email subscribers might look like this:

  1. Check your email sign up form actually works
  2. Ensure the call to action/opt in gift is something your readers really want
  3. Create a pop-up version of your subscribe form and set it to appear when a reader has made it all the way to the end of a post
  4. Monitor the conversion rate on the pop-up subscribe form after two weeks and see if there is anything I can do to increased that conversion rate

If your goal is to write one blog post each week for the entire year, you will benefit from writing down exactly which day of the week you’re going to:

  1. Write your first draft
  2. Edit the post
  3. Press publish

As an example, this year I’ve aimed to publish a high-quality blog post every Thursday. To do that consistently I know I need to write a dodgy first draft on Monday, edit it on Wednesday, then give it a final polish and publish it on Thursday.

Studies have shown that writing down your intentions about WHEN you are going to do the things involved in achieving your goal significantly increases the likelihood of you achieving that thing – and I have certainly found that to be true this year.

6. Choose a guiding word or mantra for the year

Sometimes, when we’re toiling away deep in the bowels of our blogs, it’s easy to lose sight of why we do this thing. Particularly when things aren’t going as well as we’d like. At times like these, it’s handy to have a guiding word or phrase that acts as a reminder of the impact we’re trying to have on people’s lives. Phrases like:

  • Be useful
  • Change lives
  • Interact – Inform – Inspire

While we’re all blogging for some kind of personal gain (increased income or profile, an outlet, a way to connect with others), it’s important to remember that a blog can’t be successful without happy readers. The mantras above (or the mantra you choose for yourself), help remind us of this.

Bring on 2017

In an interview I did with Mark Manson a few months he said: ‘With my writing, I aim to always be moving ahead, always experimenting and exploring. A repetitive blog is a dead blog.’ Take care of the above six things in January and you can be assured your blog won’t be in any danger of becoming repetitive or dead any time soon.

Kelly Exeter is a writer, editor, and designer who’s endlessly fascinated by the power of the stories we tell ourselves. She explores these on her blog and in her books Practical Perfection and Your Best Year Ever. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

The post 6 Things You Can Do in January to Make Your Blog Better in 2017 appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Advanced Reporting Is Awesome: Part 3 — Heat Mapping

Here at VerticalResponse HQ, we’re pretty excited about all the insights Advanced Reporting offers users. To showcase the unique edge Advanced Reporting brings to your email marketing, we’re examining each feature individually to highlight its advantages. 

Today’s feature is Advanced Reporting’s heat mapping. 

Heating Up

A heat map is a visual representation of where readers are clicking within your email messages. VerticalResponse has always displayed the number of clicks your emails received. Now, with Advanced Reporting, you can see exactly where those clicks are happening.

Take a look at our test email below. One person clicked at the uppermost link, but three people clicked the call-to-action button beneath the images.  

By scrolling further down on the email, we see that some of the bottommost links received one click apiece:

 

Based on this information, we can tell that our CTA button performed well, just like it was intended to. It garnered the most clicks within the email, which means the majority of our readers took the action we wanted them to. We can also see that at least two of our readers made it all the way to the bottom of our email, which is useful knowledge as well.

On Fire

How does this help you? Advanced Reporting’s heat map feature shows exactly where people are clicking — and where they’re not. If the majority of your clicks are at the top of your emails, you might consider putting the most important information and your CTAs near the top, where the maximum number of people will take advantage of them. Likewise, if the majority of your clicks are midway down or near the bottom, that will help you determine where to position your most important information and links. 

Finally, if heat mapping shows over the course of several emails that there’s no real pattern to your readers’ clicks, that might mean that you have too many links and buttons competing for readers’ attention, or that they can’t find the information they’re looking for. Knowing this helps you craft emails that perform even better.

Advanced Reporting lets you focus your time and effort on designing an email that looks best, performs the best, and makes the maximum impact. Upgrade to a Pro plan to start using Advanced Reporting right away.

Don’t Have a VerticalResponse Account Yet?

It’s easy to use and free to get started. Sign up and send up to 4,000 emails per month for free.

Start for Free

 

© 2016, John Habib. All rights reserved.

The post Advanced Reporting Is Awesome: Part 3 — Heat Mapping appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

How to Rapidly Build Brand Signals for SEO

In SEO’s never-ending evolution, algorithms are continually assessing different elements to determine where brands rank.

I remember the time, “back in the day,” when you could often get ahead with only rudimentary SEO tactics like keywords stuffing, e-zine posting, and even article spinning.

Oh, but how things have changed…

Search engines have never been more sophisticated, and Google is relentless in its pursuits of providing users with the best experience possible.

One element of SEO in particular that’s garnered a lot of attention recently is brand signals.

What are brand signals?

In a 2011 post on Moz, Rand Fishkin explained that

Google wanted to separate the ‘brands’ that produce happy searchers and customers from the ‘generics’ – sites they’ve often classified as ‘thin affiliate’ or poor user experiences.

Long story short, brand signals are cues that show:

  1. Your brand exists
  2. You’re a credible brand
  3. You’re a trustworthy brand

In other words, brand signals prove to Google that you’re legit—you’re not merely a “generic” charlatan.

The way I see it, building brand signals is fast becoming an important way to establish trust with Google and increase your exposure in search engines.

On top of this, effectively building brand signals should also have a positive impact on your overall brand equity.

I also predict that the companies who skimp in this area will be at a major disadvantage in the very near future.

How does Google decide whether you’re a brand?

I think the best way to answer this question is to look at this chart Moz created:

image03

On the left hand side, you can see which factors cause Google to view your business, website, blog, etc. as a “brand.”

On the right hand side, you can see which factors will result in it being viewed as “generic.”

Needless to say, you want Google to consider you as a “brand” and not “generic.”

Even though this chart is a little outdated (it’s from early 2011), it definitely offers some valuable criteria to guide our efforts in building brand signals.

In one of my posts on The Content Marketing Institute website, I also pointed out some of the main categories that comprise brand signals:

  • Mentions on the web (e.g., references to your brand on big-name publications)
  • Verifiable identity (e.g., business incorporation listings and comprehensive contact information)
  • Activity on social accounts
  • User queries (e.g., a high volume of people searching for your brand on Google)

How can you build brand signals for SEO?

Now that we know how Google determines whether or not you’re a brand, let’s discuss how to build brand signals for SEO value.

More specifically, I’d like to explain how to do it in a hurry.

Here are some techniques that have worked for me and should work for you as well.

Create a comprehensive About page

As Moz clearly indicates, Google wants to know your brand actually exists.

Therefore, it’s important you beef up your About page and include plenty of details.

image02

You’ll notice on the About page of Quick Sprout that I’m pretty comprehensive in explaining my background. I leave no stone unturned.

While you don’t have to go to this length, this should serve as a good template to guide you.

What’s another thing that Google is looking for? Whether or not you have a physical address.

Let’s be honest. It’s easy for any snake oil salesman to create a website and claim that they’re an authority in their industry.

But Google wants to know that you’re a legitimate brand and genuinely adding value. That’s why it typically gives preferential treatment to businesses with an actual office address and a physical presence.

So, be sure to include this information as well.

Be active on top social networks

Do I really need to even say that having a social media presence is important?

I’m sure you already know this.

But if you needed yet another reason to be active on social media, building brand signals is it.

Besides the direct traffic it brings and the SEO juice that comes from its signals, social media also plays a direct role in whether or not Google deems your business as a brand.

I would say the networks you’ll most definitely want to be active on are:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter (ideally, as a verified account)
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

Google+ is optional, considering it’s pretty much a digital graveyard these days. But if you’re feeling frisky, creating a Google+ account should be beneficial as well. After all, it is Google’s social network.

If you’ve got the time, I also recommend creating an account on YouTube.

Besides the fact that it’s owned by Google, it can really be advantageous from a branding standpoint.

It’s also incredibly popular and should help you penetrate your market more effectively.

Here’s proof:

image04

And there’s one other trick I think will help you build brand signals through social media even quicker.

That’s to have your employees create profiles on these networks and link back to your company’s profile.

For LinkedIn, make sure that they explicitly state they work for your company.

Doing so shows Google that you DO have employees working for you, which makes it more likely that it’ll identify you as an actual brand.

Be active on relevant niche platforms

Another strategy for quickly gaining traction is to sign up on “niche platforms,” which are basically sites geared toward a specific industry.

For instance, a lawyer would want to be on Avvo, and a real estate agent would want to be on Zillow.

You get the idea.

This should send the right message to Google and get it to take notice.

Sign up for review sites

I also suggest taking advantage of sites such as:

  • Google Places
  • Yelp!
  • Angie’s List
  • Bing Places
  • Yellow Pages

Google Places in particular should serve as a great brand signal.

Consistently create high-quality visual content

Okay, so this probably sounds like a no-brainer. And it is.

I’m not going to drone on about the impact a well-run content marketing campaign can have, but consistently distributing high quality content throughout the right mediums will help your SEO on many levels, including building brand signals.

But for maximum impact, visual content is the way to go.

Why visual?

As I mentioned before,

…brand signals aren’t just about mentions. They are about mentions that people see, recognize and identify. Brand signals are for users, not algorithms.

Visuals not only help you connect with your audience in a memorable way but also expedite your brand signal building efforts considerably.

That’s because visual content tends to receive a lot of shares and has the potential to go viral.

In fact, “content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.”

image05

Infographics in particular are a great medium to utilize.

Just look at how popular they have become in recent years:

image00

This graph illustrates the spike in searches for the term “infographics” over the past decade.

Guest-post on authority sites

I mentioned before in another post that

as other websites mention your own, your brand gains credibility through cocitation.

That’s why my final suggestion for building brand signals for SEO is to guest-post on relevant highly respected and authoritative sites within your industry.

For example, I make it a point to contribute to sites such as:

  • Forbes
  • Inc.com
  • Entrepreneur
  • The Content Marketing Institute

image01

They all have to do with business, marketing, and entrepreneurship and have helped me create tremendous leverage.

Of course, the specific sites you target will depend upon your unique industry/niche.

Just go after the big boys that receive a high volume of traffic and are well-respected.

You can learn more on the process I use for guest-posting in this guide.

To maximize your impact even more, use branded anchor text (where your brand name is included in the hyperlink) when linking back to your site.

Just make sure it looks natural—not like you’re deliberately trying to stuff your brand name into your hyperlinks(s).

Conclusion

Although the concept of brand signals is a fairly new one, it’s something you’ll definitely want to have on your radar moving forward.

If you haven’t already made a concerted effort to ensure that Google views your business as “a brand,” it’s definitely time to get on board.

Fortunately, building brand signals for SEO isn’t rocket science. And it actually revolves around several techniques most brands are already implementing in some capacity.

It’s just a matter of understanding what Google is looking for and structuring your branding strategy accordingly.

By following this formula, you can kill two birds with one stone.

First, you can appease search engines so that your brand’s content ranks consistently higher.

Second, you can establish a tighter relationship with your audience and boost your overall brand equity.

What kinds of things is your business doing to build brand signals?

20 New Year’s Eve and 17 New Year’s Day Subject Lines

Happy New Year! 新年快乐! Feliz Año Nuevo! !سنة جديدة سعيدة Bonne Année!

Can you believe it? 2016 is nearly at an end and the New Year is upon us. Champagne is chilling, resolutions are being made, and before you know it, it’ll be 2017!

In the spirit of ushering in the new, we took a look at our inboxes (past and present) and picked out some of our favorite email subject lines for the occasion: 20 for New Year’s Eve and 17 for New Year’s. Because let’s be honest, choosing 2,017 subject lines would just be crazy!

Countdown… 3… 2… 1…

Getting ready for the ball drop dominates NYE subject lines. And don’t forget the power of emojis! Use this last email of the year to drum up last-minute revenue, offer special sales, or simply wish your readers a Happy New Year:

  1. One day left: NYE reservations | OpenTable
  2. Happy New Years Eve: The Top 15 from 2015! 🎆  | GrubMarket
  3. COUNTDOWN: $10 Coupon + 40% off all Meat, Olives, Fish, Caviar and Crackers | World Market Explorer
  4. When the clock strikes 12… | Uber
  5. Celebrate New Year’s Eve with Free Shipping on ALL Orders! | Pottery Barn
  6. The Best Cookbooks (and Finger Foods) of 2015 | Epicurious
  7. End 2015 with a WIN | Yahoo Sports
  8. Hold on to these at midnight | Snowe
  9. Last Chance: Win a $500 Gift Card by Voting for T+L’s Destination of the Year! | Travel + Leisure
  10. ENDS THURSDAY: Find NYE Looks for $20.16 | Rent the Runway
  11. ⭐️ New Year Countdown! Save 16% Until The Ball Drops ⭐️ | LivingSocial
  12. 3, 2, 1, Guess What? | uforia studios
  13. Skip the Auld Lang SIGH | Jonathan Adler
  14. Start counting down to dressing up! | Nordstrom
  15. The Procrastinator’s Guide to NYE | 7×7
  16. Countdown to Chic | Etsy
  17. It’s the Best of the Rest of 2015 | Wakefield National
  18. It’s been quite a year! Just look at what you helped us accomplish. | Casper
  19. Wishing you a very happy New Year | Crate and Barrel
  20. Give by midnight to double your gift | SF-Marin Food Bank

Happy New Year!

“New Year, new you” dominates emails after January 1. Whether your business focuses on retail, fitness, hospitality, or services, there’s an opportunity for everyone to take advantage of a seasonal pun.

  1. Happy New Year! Shop resolution-ready favorites for less | Wayfair
  2. Your post-NYE recovery plan | Tasting Table
  3. Joshua Tree Yoga Retreat 🌵  A New Year, A New You | Yoga Lately
  4. Conquer Your Cooking Resolutions Next Year | Panna
  5. Start the year by learning something new | Coursera
  6. 🎉 NYE 2016 Giveaways: The Flaming Lips, Chet Faker, Flying Lotus, Girl Talk… | DotheBay
  7. Out with the old and in with the new year | Zipcar
  8. Start Your New Year Off at The Pad | New Year’s Day Workshop, Detoxes, & REBOOT’s back! | The Pad Studios
  9. New Year. New Styles. | Everlane
  10. Hungover? 13+ Cures From Around the World | Travel + Leisure
  11. New Year. New Socks. Only in the Pop Shop. | Pop Physique
  12. 🎊 Happy New Year | Banana Republic
  13. 15 Satisfying, Healthy Recover Recipes | Food & Wine
  14. Bright New Year | Move Loot
  15. New Year Resolution: Hydrate! 20% Off SodaStream + EXTRA 20% Off CLEARANCE | Williams-Sonoma
  16. Happy New Year 🎉! $12 activewear pants today: cardholders, get a running start on your resolutions | Old Navy
  17. Welcome the New Year with New Shoes, Of Course | Barneys New York

Christmas and Hanukkah are just five days away — don’t forget to start setting up your New Year’s email campaigns too! 

Ready to send your New Year’s email campaigns?

VerticalResponse is easy to use and free to get started. Sign up and send up to 4,000 emails per month for free.

Let’s Go!

© 2016, Tori Tsu. All rights reserved.

The post 20 New Year’s Eve and 17 New Year’s Day Subject Lines appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

How to Get the Non-Technical People in Your Office Excited About Analytics

Analytics. Data science. Words and phrases like these tend to conjure up imagery of guys in thick glasses poring over stacks of spreadsheets with the smell of stale coffee permeating the office. But today’s data and analytics teams couldn’t be farther from the caricatures that we make of them. And the truth is, when you discover just what’s possible, it can be hard not to be excited about it!

So how do you get even the biggest technology trilobite in your office to not only embrace analytics, but share in your enthusiasm? Here are a few ways to make the whole idea of data science a lot more tempting.

Understand the Underlying Problems – Then Solve Them

Companies in nearly every sector, from B2B to B2C to B2B2C and everything in between has their reasons – good reasons – for wanting to keep their heads in the sand when it comes to analytics. Sales teams often don’t see the revenue needle budge enough to make it worth their attention.

Managers are busy managing and don’t have the time to trudge up a high learning curve, much less understand the data enough to make confident decisions using it. And even key decision makers are slow to adopt a culture of analytics because the protocols for decision-making are…you guessed it, made by committee.

The fact is, no field is changing or adapting faster than data science, and, much in the same way that the Internet revolutionized the way we communicate and do business, analytics are changing the way we make decisions, engage customers, develop products and much more. It’s as much an integral part of a successful business as having a commerce-enabled website was over a decade ago.

That means that yes, some jobs may have to be redesigned, some outdated protocols overhauled and some focuses shifted to accommodate the rapid growth of analytics.

Companies that embrace this chameleon-like adaptation are the ones who truly leverage the greatest benefits from data science and analytics. Those who fail to see its potential will continue to struggle as their competitors gain greater and greater data-backed insights.

In short, it’s uncomfortable but necessary to change.

Embracing the Democratization of Data

One of the biggest terms making the rounds in the data science world is the “democratization” of data. In other words, taking it out of the hands of the analytics geeks and putting it squarely in the hands of everyone from executives to managers to customer service and even the janitorial staff (okay, maybe not that last one). New tools and SaaS platforms are being developed and deployed faster than ever, and today’s data scientists can use visualization tools to map out different scenarios. Things like predictive analytics show everyone models of what can happen with the current data they’ve collected, so that new campaigns, new product ideas and overall business growth can happen in a way that’s both impactful and scalable.

And did I mention that all of this can be done without a single line of code?

But before you think I’m throwing data scientists and analytics gurus under the bus, keep in mind that they are still very, very pivotal and crucial to the entire organization. It’s their guidance that will lead to embracing the democratization of data on a much wider scale. Getting everyone used to and comfortable with the data leads to greater understanding and confidence. Greater confidence leads to excitement and uncovers new opportunities that one person or team alone may not have considered.

And knowing that, why would you want to restrict yourself by leaving all your analytics decisions in the hands of a few, when you can enjoy much greater insights and data-backed determinations when it’s in the hands of everyone?

Getting to the Large-Scale Benefits

One of the biggest issues that companies struggle with in their journey to become more data driven is getting to the large scale benefits. It’s one thing to comb through the data and get a few novel nuggets that can give you a slight conversion or revenue lift. It’s another thing entirely to try and revamp an entire company’s or organization’s structure from the inside out. It’s overwhelming and pretty much impossible, which puts a lot of people off adopting an analytics culture company-wide.

In these cases, start small. Start with the departments or areas that you feel could see the biggest benefit from analytics insights. Make sure to keep others in the loop through proper communication channels such as newsletters or email lists. Be patient. Remember, just a few short years ago, articles like this one were more focused on getting C-Suite buy-in than trying to transform an entire company culture.

Another common complaint is the use of tools. In many cases, companies invest in analytics tools but vendors are unable to accurately demonstrate how said tools integrate with the existing workflow. If the sales staff can’t understand it or advocate for it, they won’t use it – plain and simple. Whichever analytics tools you choose to adopt, make sure that they’re ones that can easily adapt to your existing processes – not the other way around.

Why Most Companies Get Bogged Down in the Analytical Mud

Many companies looking to embrace a data-driven culture (more on that below), look toward hugely profitable mega-corporations like Amazon and Facebook.

But these companies, in the overall spectrum of things, are relatively new and were built from the ground up on a culture of analytics. They can adapt quickly because it’s in their DNA.

For companies not rooted in data science at their core, the shift is going to happen gradually – starting with the departments suited to be most affected by it. It may even necessitate a change from the inside out – how decisions are made, who’s responsible and what’s the end goal. For example, if you invest in a data-driven module to help with dynamic pricing and items start to sell out quicker, you can’t very well hold your inventory managers responsible for it. Shifting to more data-driven decisions means changing how things are done – perhaps even drastically.

But by demonstrating how much more streamlined their job can become and their decisions can be made, people will begin to become more accustomed to using analytics information in their respective departments. As changes are implemented and new insights gleaned from the information, people begin looking for new angles and ways to use the data to further empower their staff and colleagues. It also helps improve their job security, their relationship with customers and the ease and confidence with which they do their job.

Become a Truly Data-Driven Company

Carnegie-Mellon recently conducted a LEAP study which determined that those companies getting the most out of analytics were those whose leaders concentrated on “team collaboration, along with the ability to easily share insights [thereby] instilling confidence in their teams and creating an active analytics community across all departments.” Much of this collaboration comes from self-service tools, which can be completed for specific industry verticals and niches and be deployed much quicker than an over-arching software program.

But becoming a truly data-driven company involves both tools and people – not focusing on one to the exclusivity of the other. As members of the company begin to learn and leverage analytical insights, their enthusiasm and knowledge start to spread out in a ripple-effect to other departments. It won’t happen overnight, but gradually, over time as people become more comfortable and attuned to how analytics can be used in their little corner of the company, they’ll begin to embrace and rely on the data to power their decisions more and more.

How are you using analytics to help encourage others in your company? Are you becoming driven by data, or is it an uphill climb against a more traditional workflow? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

15 Conversion Rate Experts Share Why to Step Up from A/B Testing to Conversion Optimization

A/B testing and conversion rate optimization (CRO) are not synonymous, but often confused.

A/B testing is exactly what it says—a test to verify different sets of variations on your website. Conversion rate optimization, however, is much more than just testing.

Conversion optimization is a scientific process that starts with analyzing your business’ leaks, making educated hypotheses to fix them, and then testing those hypotheses.

Conversion optimization is a process that needs to be repeated, but A/B testing is a technique. A formalized conversion optimization process can advance somewhat like this:

  1. Tracking metrics and identifying what parts of the conversion funnel need fixing
  2. Analyzing why visitors are doing what they are doing
  3. Creating and Planning your hypotheses for optimization
  4. Testing the hypotheses against the existing version of the website
  5. Learning from the tests and applying the learning to the subsequent tests

vwo-is-evolving-into-a-conversion-optimization-platform1

To further clear up the air around the two terms, we got in touch with the top in line conversion rate experts and picked their brains on the same. The experts tell us about their experiences with A/B testing and conversion optimization and why you should switch to the latter.

Quotes from Conversion Rate Experts

Chris Goward, Founder and CEO, WiderFunnel

Back in 2007, I could already see that a huge gap was developing among companies that are perfecting a process for conversion optimization and those that are following the easy advice of so many consultants.

Instead of selling top-of-mind advice, I focused WiderFunnel on refining the process of continuous optimization for leading brands. For each of our client engagements, we run a holistic CRO program that builds insights over time to continuously improve our understanding of their unique customer segments. The results speak for themselves.

Ad hoc A/B testing is a tragic use of your limited traffic when you realize how much growth and insights structured optimization program could be delivering. In an example that we published recently, a structured CRO program is exactly what this company needed to double its revenue two years in a row, over the ad hoc testing it was previously doing.

Brian Massey, Founder, Conversion Sciences

The most effective conversion optimization program seeps into the bones of your organization. Decisions that were once exclusively creative in nature gain a data component. Much of the guessing drains from your online marketing. We call this “rigorous creativity,” and it marries your best marketing work with insights about your visitors. It cannot be accomplished by running a few tests, but comes from asking daily, “Do we have some data to help guide us? If not, can we collect it?” The rigorously creative business is good at finding and creating this data and using it to maximize visitor satisfaction and business profit.

Rand Fishkin, Founder and CEO, Moz

Without a strong CRO strategy that encompasses the experience visitors have discovering, using, exploring, and hopefully eventually converting on your site, you’ll always be plugging holes in a leaky bucket rather than building a better container.

The best opportunities to improve conversion usually aren’t from changing individual pages one at a time with a multitude of tests, but rather by crafting a holistic, thoughtful experience that runs throughout the site, then iterating on elements consistently with an eye to learning, and applying knowledge from each test to the site as a whole.

Karl Gilis, Co-founder,  AGConsult

An AB test should come at the end of your homework. If you’re just AB testing, you’re probably gambling. Your tests are based on things you’ve read on the Internet, gut feeling, and opinions. Some of your tests will be winners, most of them losers. Because you’re shooting blanks.

The homework is data analysis and user research. This will reveal the problem areas and why your visitors are leaving or not doing what you want them to do. The better you know the dreams, the hopes, the fears, the barriers, and uncertainties of your users, the better you’ll be able to work out a test that will have a real impact.

In case you’re in doubt, impact seldom comes from design changes. Don’t change the color of your button, change the text on that button. Not randomly, but based on what users want and your knowledge of influencing people.

Don’t focus too much on the design. Focus on your offer, your value proposition, and how you sell your stuff.

Don’t sell the way you like to sell. Sell the way your customers want to buy.

André Scholten, SEO and Site Speed specialist, Google Analytics

Create a strategy that makes your clients happier and don’t focus on the money. Single non-related tests on the conversion funnel follow each other up, based on abandonment rates, judged on their influence on revenue. That’s not a strategy but more an operational process where test after test is conducted without vision. You should create a test culture within your company that tests everything that will make your website a nicer place for your customers. Give them feedback possibilities with feedback or chat tools to learn from these. Take their wishes into account and create tests to verify if their wishes are met. Create a test strategy that focuses on all goals: not only the money, but also information-type goals, contact-goals, etc. It will give you so much to do and to improve. That’s a holistic approach to testing.

Kathryn Aragon, Content Strategist & Consultant, Ahrefs

“Winging it” may work for musicians and cooks; but in marketing, any decision made outside of a holistic CRO program is a bad one. Only through testing will you find the right message, the right audience, and the right offer. And only after you nail these critical elements will you see the profits you need. It doesn’t matter how small or new your business is, take time to test your ideas. You’ll be glad you did.

Joel Harvey, COO & Conversion Optimization Expert, Conversion Sciences

To say an online business is great due to AB Testing is like saying a Football team is great because of their stadium. It is the entire team framework that leads to winning. An optimization framework integrates A/B testing as one component that includes the team, the brand, advertising, and a solid testing strategy. This is how industry-leading websites win year after year.

Rich Page, Conversion Rate Optimization and Web Analytics Expert

Many online businesses make the mistake of thinking that A/B testing is the same as CRO and don’t pay enough attention to the other key aspects of CRO. This usually gives them disappointing results on their conversion rates and online revenue. Web analytics, website usability, visitor feedback, and persuasion techniques are the other key CRO elements that you need to frequently use to gain greatest results.

Gaining an in-depth visitor feedback is a particularly essential part of CRO. This helps you discover your visitor’s main needs and common challenges, and forms high-impact ideas for your A/B tests (rather than just guessing or listening to your HiPPOs). Gaining visitor insights from usability tests and watching recordings of them using your website is particularly revealing.

Peter Sandeen, Value Proposition and Marketing Message Development Expert

Just about every statistic on A/B test results says that most tests don’t create positive results (or any results at all). That’s partly because of the inherent uncertainties of testing. But a big part is the usual lack of a real plan.

Actually, you need two plans.

The first plan, the big picture one, is there to keep you focused on testing the right parts of your marketing. It tells if you should spend most of your energy on testing landing pages, prices, or perhaps webinar content.

The second plan is there to make sure you’re creating impactful differences in your tests. So instead of testing two headlines that mean essentially the same thing (e.g. “Get good at golf fast” and “Improve your golf skills quickly”), you test things that are likely to create a different conversion rate (e.g. “3-hour practice recommended by golf pros”). And when you see increased or decreased conversion rates, you create the next test based on those results.
With good plans, you can get positive results from 50–75% of your tests.

Roger Dooley, Author of Brainfluence

Simple A/B testing often leads to a focus on individual elements of a landing page or campaign – a graphic, a headline, or a call to action. This can produce positive results, but often distracts one from looking at the bigger picture. My emphasis is on using behavior science to improve marketing, and that approach works best when applied to multiple elements of the customer journey.

Jeffrey Eisenberg, CEO, Buyer Legends

Conversion rate (CR) is a measure of your ability to persuade visitors to take action the way you want them to. It’s a reflection of your effectiveness and customer satisfaction. For you to achieve your goals, visitors must first achieve theirs. Conversion rate, as a metric, is a single output. CR is a result of the many inputs that make up a customer experience. That experience has the chance to annoy, satisfy, or delight them. We need to optimize the inputs. Ad hoc A/B tests cannot do this. Companies that provide a superior experience are rewarded with higher conversion rates. Focus on improving customer experience, and you’ll find the results in your P&L, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow statements.

Jakub Linowski, Founder & Lead Designer, Linowski Interaction Design

Thinking beyond the individual A/B test as optimization is a natural part of gaining experience. We all probably started off by running a handful of ad hoc tests and that’s okay—that’s how we learn. However, as we grow, three things may happen which bring us closer towards becoming more strategic:
1. We become conscious of ways in which we can prioritize our testing ideas.
2. We become conscious of the structure of experiments and how tests can be designed.
3. We think of a series of upcoming tests which may or may not work together to maximize returns.

Here is one example of one test strategy/structure: The Best Shot Test. It aims to maximize the effect size and minimize the testing duration, while doing so at the cost of a blurred cause-effect relationship.

Naomi Niles, Owner, ShiftFWD

Running basic A/B tests based on best practices is okay for a start. But to really get to the next level, it’s important to see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. This gives us a better understanding of what exactly we’re testing for and reach for results that fit the specific goals of the organization.

Kristi Hines, Certified Digital Marketer

Depending on your business and the size of your marketing team, you may want to go beyond just testing your website or a landing page. You may want to expand your A/B testing to your entire online presence.

For example, try changing your main thing (keyword phrase, catch phrase, elevator pitch, headline, etc.) not just on your website, but also on all your homepage’s meta description, your social media bios and intros, your email signatures, etc.

Why? Because here’s what’s going to happen. If you have consistent messaging across a bunch of channels that someone follows you on, and all of a sudden, they come to your landing page with an inconsistent message (the variant, if you will), then they may not convert simply because of the inconsistency of your message. Not because it wasn’t a good message, but because it wasn’t the message they were used to receiving from you.

As my own personal case example, when I change my main phrase “Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, business blogger, and certified digital marketer.” I don’t do it just on my website. I do it everywhere. And I don’t do it for just a week. I do it for at least two to three months unless it’s a complete dud (i.e., no leads in the first week at all).

But what I usually find is when I find a good phrase, I’ll start getting leads from all over the place. And usually they will say they went from one channel to the next. Hence, don’t just test. Test consistency across your entire presence, if possible. The results may be astonishing.

Jason Acidre, Co-founder/CEO, Xight Interactive

I do think that Conversion Rate Optimization as a marketing discipline goes beyond just a series of A/B and/or Multivariate tests. As external factors such as your brand and what other people say about the business (reviews and referrals) can also heavily impact how a site can perform in terms of attracting more actions from its intended users/visitors.

For instance, positive social proof (number of people sharing/liking a particular product or a brand on different social networks) can also influence your customer’s buying process. And improving on this aspect of the brand involves a whole different campaign – which would involve a more holistic approach to be integrated to your CRO program. Another factor to consider is the quality of traffic your campaign is getting (through SEO, PPC, paid social campaigns, content marketing, etc.) The more targeted traffic you’re able to acquire, the better your conversions will be.

Your Turn

A full-fledged conversion optimization program goes a long way and is a lot more beneficial than ad hoc testing.

So what are you waiting for? Let stepping up to conversion optimization be your #1 goal in the new year.

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The post 15 Conversion Rate Experts Share Why to Step Up from A/B Testing to Conversion Optimization appeared first on VWO Blog.

Save hundreds on the one cloud sharing tool trusted by the likes of Facebook


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10 Book Recommendations From Team Sprout

Here at Sprout Social, reading really is fundamental. Good books teach us about our craft, inspire us to be better leaders and even allow us to fall into escapist fantasies during our cold winter commutes.

As 2016 draws to a close we asked members of Team Sprout to share the best things they’ve read this year. Here are some of their top picks in engineering as well as a few fiction and nonfiction options to mix things up. If you’re looking for a good travel read this holiday season, these are all fantastic choices.

Our Engineering Picks

1. “The C Programming Language” by Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie

“The C Programming Language” is one of the few programming books that not only offers valuable and practical information but is enjoyable to read. While it focuses on the C language, it outlines useful concepts and design patterns for any programmer looking to build well-architected, efficient programs. This book does assume some familiarity with basic programming concepts but even novice programmers should be able to pick up and follow along.

About the Authors: Brian Kernighan is a computer science Professor at Princeton University. He has contributed to the development of Unix and coauthored the AWK and AMPL programming languages. Dennis M. Ritchie was the computer scientist responsible for creating the C programming language and was also a key contributor to Unix. Guess you could say he wrote the book on C.

Recommended by Colin, Senior Software Engineer

2. “Eloquent Javascript” (2nd Edition) by Marijn Haverbeke

Javascript is the backbone of modern web development and it’s increasingly important to do it well. “Eloquent Javascript” is a thin volume that distills Javascript’s beauty and efficiency and serves as a great introduction to the language that can really make core programming concepts click. “Eloquent Javascript” provides a grok-able and inspiring entry point for new developers.

About the Author: Marijn Haverbeke is a software developer and blogger based out of Berlin.

Recommended by Chris, Senior Software Engineer

3. “The Idea Factory” by Jon Gertner

“The Idea Factory” isn’t, strictly speaking, a programming book, but it’s a fascinating read about the history of innovation through the 20th century. “The Idea Factory” explores how engineering and technical innovation revolutionized communication and ushered in the Information Age. Countless aspects of modern life have been invisibly influenced by the innovations at Bell Labs, and this fascinating history sheds some light on how much the world has changed as a result.

About the Author: Jon Gertner is an editor and technology writer at Fast Company magazine. Previously, he worked as a science, business, and economics writer at New York Times Magazine. “The Idea Factory” is his first book.

Recommended by Dan, Software Engineer

4. “Extreme Programming Explained” by Kent Beck

“Extreme Programming Explained” is a thorough but quick introduction to the XP management philosophy and walkthrough of how to involve the whole team to get buy in on said philosophy. Testing, agile business practices and TDD are buzzwords that get thrown around a lot in development circles, but “EPE” breathes new life into those concepts and reminds us why we need to be intentional about our processes and team dynamics. The examples are direct, simple, and easy to apply to day-to-day work. Even if you don’t subscribe to all of the tenets of XP, reading “EPE” is a worthwhile exercise in checking your processes as a team.

About the Author: Kent Beck is a software engineer, the creator of the extreme programming methodology, and one of the original signatories of the Agile Manifesto.

Recommended by Shane, Software Engineer

5. “Professor Frisby’s Mostly Adequate Guide to Functional Programming” by Brian Lonsdorf

Earlier this year Sprout’s Javascript Guild read and discussed this book as a group. It helped the team start understanding and implementing functional programming concepts in their day-to-day work. It’s an engaging and practical read that’s immediately applicable for Javascript development that is also a great first pick for a team book club or professional development side session.

About the Author: Brian Lonsdorf writes about Javascript and functional programming online. You can find his book on gitbooks and other writings on his profile at Medium.

Recommended by the Sprout Social Javascript Guild

Our Fiction Picks

1. “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel

“Station Eleven” is the most inspiring and heartbreaking story about the aftermath of the apocalypse you’ll read this year. It won the Arthur C. Clark Award for Best Novel in 2015 and was the champion of the 2015 Tournament of Books.

After a mysterious plague brings society to its knees, people find a way to soldier on. A group of traveling actors and musicians called the Traveling Symphony tours the scattered enclaves of North America, bringing entertainment and news of other settlements to these isolated communities. This book reminds us that we create art and meaning, even after the apocalypse, “because survival is insufficient.”

Recommended by Chris, Senior Software Engineer, and Jess, Software Engineer

2. “The Hollows” series by Kim Harrison

“The Hollows” follows Rachel Morgan, a heroine with an absurd knack for finding herself in trouble. It’s an Urban Fantasy series with tons of detective work, romantic entanglements, character development and soul-searching. And vampires. Because who doesn’t love a good vampire series?

Recommended by Matt, Software Engineer on Bambu by Sprout Social

3. “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Americanah” is a stunning piece of contemporary literary fiction. It spans three continents as it examines the most complex themes of life in today’s globalized world, from love and relationships to race and identity. And it’s not just us who were moved by this powerful exploration of life and love: Americanah won the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. It was also nominated or shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Fiction and the Goodreads Choice Award.

Recommended by Alicia, Brand Marketing Specialist, and Shane, Software Engineer

Our Nonfiction Picks

1. “Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink

A copy of “Extreme Ownership” has been steadily making its way around the engineering and product teams here at Sprout. Contrary to what the title might imply, this is not a book about the military—it’s a leadership handbook grounded in the lived experiences of Navy SEALs. “Extreme Ownership” has a lot of inspiration to offer about mission, team collaboration, and communication. Willink takes these lessons from the military and makes them applicable in everyday professional and personal settings.

Recommended by Anjali, Product Manager

2. “The Signal and the Noise” by Nate Silver

Nate Silver has been a strong voice in predictions and betting markets for political races and sports for nearly a decade. “The Signal and the Noise” pulls back the veil and lets us see into the process that Silver uses to distinguish truths in a sea of noise. These insights are fascinating and essential reading for anyone interested in the processes involved in Data Science.

Recommended by Greg, Data Science Lead

Bonus Recommendations: Podcasts

1. ‘99% Invisible’ from Radiotopia

‘99% Invisible’ is a show about the unseen thoughts, decisions and labor that shape the way we live our lives. Each episode takes a deep dive into a topic that invisibly influences the world. They’ve done collaborations with other audio productions like Planet Money and DecodeDC, and are one of the most popular podcasts available on iTunes.

Recommended by Alicia, Brand Marketing Specialist, and Shane, Software Engineer

2. ‘Reply All’ from Gimlet Media

It’s a show that’s all about…the internet! PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman take deep dives into everything from memes and internet arcana, to why Google Adwords support techs hate dealing with locksmiths. If you spend time online and don’t quite understand why the Internet is so weird, ‘Reply All’ will help you figure it out.

Recommended by Laura, Lead Visual Designer, and Jess and Shane, Software Engineers

This post 10 Book Recommendations From Team Sprout originally appeared on Sprout Social.

PB170: 9 Ways to Stay Inspired and Avoid Bloggers Burn Out

How to Stay Inspired and Avoid Bloggers Burn Out

In today’s lesson I want to talk about blogger burnout and how to avoid it.

Most bloggers start out blogging with an incredible burst of passion, excitement and energy with their blogging, but usually at some point within the first year or two, many bloggers come up against their first bout of blogger burnout.

problogger_170

It can happen in different ways and for different reasons. Some bloggers push through it and others get stopped in their tracks by it. Most successful bloggers go through it numerous times – I certainly have.

So in today’s episode, I want to share 9 strategies for staying fresh and inspired with your blogging so that you can avoid bloggers burn out.

So if you’re feeling burnt out at the moment or you want to get ahead of your next blogging slump and develop some strategies for avoiding it altogether – this is for you.

Note: listen to this episode in the player above or here on iTunes (look for episode 170).

Further Resources on 9 Ways to Stay Inspired and Avoid Bloggers Burn Out



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Welcome to Episode 170 of the ProBlogger podcast. My name’s Darren Rowse, and I’m the blogger behind ProBlogger.com – a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of eBooks, and a real book as well – all designed to help you as a blogger to grow your audience and to make money from your blog. You can learn more about ProBlogger at ProBlogger.com.

In today’s lesson, I wanna talk to you about an issue that impacts most bloggers at one time or another – blogger burnout. I wanna teach you how to avoid it, give you some strategies that you could put in place when you’re facing bloggers burnout at the moment or whether you want to stop it happening to you in the future.

Most bloggers do start out blogging with an incredible burst of passion, excitement, energy, with lots of hopes and dreams of where their blogging will take them. As a result, they start out really strong, but usually at some point, within the first year or maybe two years of blogging, they come against their first bout of blogger burnout. It can happen for different reasons and happen in different ways.

Most bloggers tend to push through it, or at least try to push through it – that first bout. But some, even at the first time they hit it, gets stopped in their tracks. Now, most successful bloggers go through this numerous times, and I certainly have. I can think back over the last 14 years of blogging. I’ve hit bloggers burnout many times.

In today’s episode, I wanna share with you nine strategies for staying fresh and inspired with your blogging, so that you avoid bloggers burnout. I’m gonna speak from my own experience of having gone through this or having seen bloggers burnout approaching me, and I’m getting better now at seeing it coming before it actually hits and putting things in place as it approaches to actually stop it hitting in full force.

So if you are feeling burnt out at the moment with your blog – it does happen at this time of year for many of us – or you wanna get ahead of your next bout of blogging burnout, I wanna share with you some strategies for avoiding it today. This episode is for you.

You can find today’s shownotes at problogger.com/podcast/170.

Yesterday, I celebrated my blogger-versary. I might sound like a bit of a crazy thing to do, but I do have a little alert in my calendar that goes off on the 27th of November every year. It’s actually the 28th today, and so last night, I turned to Vanessa and said, “Guess what? It’s my blogger-versary! It’s been 14 years since I started blogging to this day.” Started in 2002.

Blogging has been very good to me in so many different ways. I don’t really have the time to go through them all, but it has given me a place to express myself and find my voice. It’s helped me to develop confidence in myself, helped me to think through my ideas and improve those. It’s opened up opportunities that I’d never dreamed of: to meet amazing people, to travel around the world, and to build a business out of the ideas in my head. That is a strange thing to say, but out of ideas has come a whole income.

It’s enabled me to create work with real flexibility that allows me to spend time with my family and friends and to volunteer my time to causes that I believe in. Hopefully that allows me to make the world a better place, as I’m doing all of that, through the sharing of my story and what I know with others.

I love blogging! It has been so good to me and to many others that I see, but I would be lying if I said that blogging was always easy. It hasn’t always been this amazing time of opportunities falling in my lap and fun times. The reality is that publishing a piece of content almost everyday for 14 years is both an amazing privilege and a lot of fun but is also incredibly challenging at times.

Almost every year since I’ve started, over those 14 years, I’ve had periods of time where I felt doubt and where I’ve wondered whether I should give up or where I felt burnt out by blogging. Whilst I do sing the praises of blogging in many episodes, I really want to go to this place today, because it’s often these tough times that don’t get talked about on podcasts about blogging. Most bloggers do have patches like these. If you’ve been blogging for a year or two years or three years, you probably had one yourself or have come close to burning out.

Bloggers burnout comes in different forms, and it comes for different reasons. It can be that it comes when you run out of things to say on your topic, when you feel like you’ve said everything there is to say. You suddenly have this block. Sometimes it comes because you’re feeling disillusioned with your topic, for one reason or another, or maybe you’re becoming disillusioned with blogging or the niche that you’re in and how other bloggers are treating one another. Sometimes it comes when you feel like you’ve been doing a lot of hard work and it’s not paying off. You’re not reaching the goals that you set for yourself. Maybe it comes when you’re feeling worn out, where you’ve overworked yourself.

Or maybe it comes because you started blogging for reasons of creativity and self-expression, but then you feel like you’ve built a machine that you have to keep feeding in order for it to attract a readership or to be profitable. Many bloggers start out for one reason and then end up with a blog that really doesn’t serve why they started it. Or maybe it’s just you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the things that you need to do to keep your blog running. I could go on and on with this list of types of bloggers burnout that do come and the reasons for it.

But, as I say, over the last 14 years, I’ve noticed particularly at this time of year, at the end of the year, when many bloggers have been busy all year, and now they’re reviewing their year or they’re seeing other people review their year and talk about their successes. It’s so easy to feel a bit down about your blog. So today, I really do want to share with you some strategies for keeping yourself inspired and fresh, particularly as you head into the new year, next year.

I’ve got nine things I wanna go through with you. Some of these will be more relevant to you than others, but hopefully there are things that you can keep in the back of your mind for the next time that bloggers burnout does approach you.

The first thing I wanna talk about briefly is to know your limits and set realistic goals and expectations. Many bloggers that I talk to feel pressure to have to blog in a certain way that’s just not realistic for the amount of time they have or the resources that they’re currently able to put into blogging.

For example, a lot of bloggers that I talked to have this expectation that they have to post daily. This is something – I don’t know where it came from, but there’s this expectation amongst some bloggers that they have to post everyday. It’s just not feasible for many bloggers to do.

I actually remember when Vanessa, my wife, started blogging a few years ago now. She was juggling a part-time job. We still had one of our boys at home; the other two boys were at school, but it was a short day. She’s got a busy life, full of friends and family and other interests and passions that she pursues.

When she started her blog, I remember having a chat with her about how often she was going to post, and whilst on one hand, she did have this idea that a daily post would be a good thing, she was really smart in that she set herself the goal to do just three posts a week. I don’t mean “just” because they were three pretty meaty posts. She’s a fairly detailed writer.

She decided three posts a week was more realistic for her, and whilst daily posting was probably tempting for her at the time, I’m so glad she made that decision to do three good posts a week because it’s a decision that has made her blog sustainable now for the two or three years that she’s been at it. I look into the future and I see that she could continue to keep that amount up. She set herself a goal that was realistic.

Now there’s also been other times, where she said, “Well, this week, I’ve got a really busy week” or “This week we’re away” or “This week I’ve got these other demands in my life, so I’m only gonna post two times or even one time.” She’s flexible with that goal, and I think this is something that many bloggers need to really grasp onto.

The sky won’t fall on your head if you post a little less one week, or even if you take a full week off. To have some realistic expectations and goals that are based upon your actual reality and your availability I think is really important.

The other part of it is your expectations, and I think a lot of bloggers do get into blogging and then get depressed, disillusioned, and dejected when their expectations are not met. I’ve seen this in many areas of life. Often it’s our expectations that get us into trouble when things don’t hit what we’re hoping for. I see bloggers starting with unrealistic expectations all the time, dreaming of millions of readers, millions of dollars in short amounts of time, but the reality is: if you’ve been blogging for a while now, you know that successful bloggers are almost always built on years and years of consistently producing useful content. It takes significant time and energy to build that.

I guess, one of the things I wanna say is if you are feeling a bit burnt out, maybe you need to look at your goals and ask yourself – are your goals realistic? Also your expectations of the results – are they realistic? Chances are, if you’ve been blogging for a year or two now, you need to change some of those things because most of us do. Most of us start out with some sort of unrealistic goal or expectation, so it’s about trying to find that middle ground of having big dreams but also grounded expectations.

That was the first thing. Know your limits and set realistic goals and expectations.

Number 2: find your groove with a routine that works for you. Now, I find that blogging is more effortless (and it’s never completely effortless), but I find it easier when I am in a groove and a rhythm with my blogging. I find that, if I set myself some kind of a rhythm for my week and for the way that I produce content, that I’m much better at producing content. Then there is much less tension about my blogging.

I’m not going to go into great depth here because in Episode 40 I did share my weekly schedule, my weekly template, where I talked about the times that I write content, the times that I edit content, and the times that I come up with ideas for blog posts. I think if you can design yourself a rhythm like that, it can really help a lot.

I’ve actually got it in a spreadsheet, in an actual calendar. You don’t need to do that. In the old days for me, it was simply about me deciding that in the mornings, I was going to write, and in the evenings, I was going to edit. I had limited time, and so I had an hour or so in the morning, an hour or so in the evening. Then I had to go and do my real job, so I set myself that rhythm. It was very simple in those early days. Write in the mornings; edit in the evenings. That might be all you really need to do.

I found that once I got into that rhythm, it was easier, and it would flow easier. Now there are still tough times, but that was half the battle – getting into the rhythm of it. The same is true for my exercise. I know that if I go on a holiday for three weeks and don’t exercise for three weeks, it’s really tough to exercise, but if I get into the rhythm again of walking everyday at midday and going to the gym Tuesdays and Thursday mornings – once I’m in that rhythm, it just becomes what I do. So it’s about establishing that type of rhythm. I think that really does help you to keep things sustained – helps you to have that well-oiled machine.

Think about the things that you need to do and when you could place them into your week, whether you need to create that calendar or whether you just need to decide that “Monday mornings, I’m gonna do this. Tuesday mornings, I’m gonna do this, and Thursday evenings, I’m gonna to do that.” That might be enough to help you to get into that groove.

Number 3 thing that I would encourage you to do is to identify the sticking points, to identify “where am I getting stuck?” Usually, when you have bloggers burnout, there’s a particular area where you’re getting stuck. It may be that you have a lack of ideas to write about; that might be the area. That might lead you to feel really disillusioned about your blogging, which leads you to feel unmotivated, which leads you to other things, but really, at the core of it, is that you are lacking ideas.

Or maybe you are really stuck on feeling like you’re comparing yourself to other bloggers, and that’s the core of it. You’re comparing yourself to others, and then you’re realizing you’re not meeting your expectations. Then you’re feeling dejected, and you can kind of see that there’s a root cause of your blogger burnout. It could really be so many different things that are at the cause of it, but it’s really important to try and to identify what that particular thing is that is starting it for you.

Back in Episode 83, I actually talked about blogger’s block and getting stuck in the creation of content, and in that particular episode, I talked about three different types of blogger’s block: idea generation, being one; the creation of your content, getting into writing of your content; and then the other part is completing your content. They’re three very different types of blogger’s block.

I talk in that episode about if you are just trying to fix your blogger’s block without identifying the particular type of blogger’s block that you have, you’re gonna get yourself into trouble. What I’m trying to say here is if you’re feeling burnt out, try and dig into what exactly is causing it. What is the core thing that is holding you back, getting you down, and burning you out? It may take you a little while to dig into that. You may need to have a chat with someone about it. You might wanna even find someone who can help you – some professional help – to actually dig into those types of issues. If you can identify the exact issue that is holding you back, it puts you in a much better position to be able to come up with a strategy to fix it.

To be really transparent here, I’ve actually been approaching blogger’s block over the last couple of months. I’ve actually been feeling like my energy and motivation has been lacking these last couple of months, and part of that is because we had our ProBlogger event. Usually I go into a bit of a slump after that. It’s the highlight of the year, and everything seems a little bit greyer after the event because the event’s so much fun.

The other thing I realized is that this year I haven’t had as much time off. The more I thought about why I’m feeling like I’m feeling like, the better position I was in to do something about that. As I was chatting with Vanessa the other night about how I was feeling and feeling a bit dejected and unmotivated, we dug into it, and after half an hour or so of really talking it through, we realized that I just haven’t had enough time off this year. So having identified that, I’m in a much better position to be able to do something about that, so we’re already beginning to plan the breaks that we’re going to have as a family next year.

Identify where you’re getting stuck. What is the core thing that’s facing you because burnout really can be the end result of lots of different things that could be going on for you. Really dig into that and talk to someone about it.

Number 4 thing I wanna talk about in avoiding bloggers burnout is to look after your body. I’m not going to go into great depth about this because it is something that I’ve done a whole episode on in the past, but as I’ve said before, you’ll only ever be able to sustain having a healthy blog over the long haul if you’re able to maintain a healthy you. Behind a healthy blog, I believe, needs to be a healthy you.

One of the biggest reasons that I see bloggers burning out is that they’re just not in a healthy place themselves. Of course, this can happen on a number of fronts. It could be your physical health. It could be your mental health. It can be your brain health and its learning. It could be your sleep. All these different areas do play into it.

For me, physical health is a big part of it. I realized about three years ago now that my blogging was suffering incredibly because I wasn’t looking after myself on a physical front. My diet and my lack of exercise were really beginning to take a toll on my body and how my body was performing, but it was also impacting my outlook and my positivity, my mental health. It was also beginning to have an impact on my creativity, as well, and my alertness and my ability to output great content.

I’m not gonna retell the whole story about how I pulled myself out of that because I did it back in Episode 38, except to say that your physical health is one thing that you need to pay attention to, if you are feeling burnt out. It may be that you need to start to exercise, build that into your routine. It may be that you need to change that diet in some way.

I have to say – it’s not easy. We all have these temptations and struggles in getting the balance right with our physical health, but it’s definitely connected. I’ve talked to a number of bloggers since I’ve shared that story back in Episode 38 of me losing some weight and getting some exercise into my life and changing my diet. A number of bloggers have reported back that that inspired them to go on and do the same thing for themselves, and they’ve seen it flow-on effect into other areas of their life: their blogs being one, their relationships being another, and other aspects of their lives as well.

Look after your body. I think it’s really important. One of the best things that I’ve ever done to improve my blog is to build a walk into my day and to get a stand-up desk. It really has changed things quite a bit.

Another thing that I’ve been doing over the last few weeks is going out and playing basketball. While my kids are at school, I go out and play on their basketball ring in the middle of the day, just five minutes. Just to run around, shoot some hoops – actually gets the blood pumping a little, come back to blogging in a fresh way. It really does help.

That’s number 4: look after your body.

Number 5 is all about taking breaks, developing a system and a rhythm for your day, like the calendar I talked about before, my weekly template. That’s great. That helps me to be more productive. That’s about how to work better and work smarter, but I think just as important is to think about rest – is to think about when you are going to not work on your blog. I’m a strong believer that if you get rest right, if you get sleep right, if you get taking a break from your blogging right, it will help your blog in so many different ways. The better you rest, the better you work.

For me, I’m thinking about rest and taking time away from my blog on a number of fronts, different time frames. For me, the daily rest. I work business hours; I try and work 9:00 to 5:00, but I take a walk in the middle of the day. I take a break in the middle of the day. I take a break at the start and end of the day.

A weekly basis for me – and it’s gonna be different for everyone because we’ve all got different commitments – I try not to work on weekends. I have a couple of really short bursts on a Saturday morning and on a Sunday evening, but everywhere in between is a time off. That weekly rest is really important.

Then on a yearly front, I’m trying to take time off. I’ve just admitted to you that this year I wasn’t as good at it, but I try and take a couple of weeks off in January and a couple of weeks off in the middle of the year as well. Then we have a couple of long weekends as well. These are things that we schedule ahead of time as a family.

These offline times are so important, being unplugged, not thinking about your blog all day every day. These rejuvenate you. They’re also good for other areas of your life as well. They’re good for your relationships, which I think also has an impact upon your blog. If things are good in your friendships, in your family, then that frees you up to think creatively about your blog as well. Take breaks.

Number 6 is to look after your relationships, and I’ve just talked about relationships, taking breaks with family, friends is good for your relationships. We work in a space, which is very often described as social media, as being a social space, but most of our interactions if you’re like me are online and in virtual nature.

I remember when I started blogging, I’ve discovered this whole community of people that I could connect with, and I became almost too virtual in my relationships. It was kind of a strange thing. I just got married, and I had this really wonderful relationship with my wife, but many of my other friendships were coming from the online space. It turned out for me – that wasn’t an overly healthy thing.

Now, online relationships can be very positive, and I do think there’s a really good argument for finding some good online friends to share the experiences that we have as bloggers, but I also think it’s so important to have good, grounded, real-life relationships as well. This is particularly important when you are feeling burnt out in the online space, particularly when you are feeling burnt out because of some online relationship.

I know, for me, there’s been a number of times over the last 14 years, where I’ve been on the end of some pretty vicious online attacks from strangers usually, from trolls that left me on the verge of giving up blogging. Whilst I had some good online friends at that time, who supported me through those times, it was actually my real-life friends who were able to give me the real support and respite that I needed from that online stress. I’m so grateful for the fact that I have real-life friends to debrief and to escape from the online with. It’s so important to have those offline places and spaces and relationships to get energy, to retreat from that stress.

Having emphasized the importance of real-life relationships, I think it’s important also to say that it’s important to find those online relationships and to try and build strong online relationships because the reality is your friends and family may not understand what you’re going through as a blogger. They may not understand what it is like to get a comment that’s unfair or to be attacked by an anonymous troll. To have the combination of strong online and offline relationships – for me, there’s been a number of times, where I’ve gone through really tough stuff in my business, and to be able to have someone else who’s going through similar things or who’s been through similar things is really important.

For that reason, I actually think one of the best things that I’ve ever done is to go to blogging events, where you could actually spend real-life time with people who understand the online pressures. And if you have the chance to go to a blogging event, I know it’s a tough thing to get to. There’s an investment there. For me, that’s one of the big and best reasons of going to those types of events because you’re able to solidify some of those online relationships and take them into the real world. And to spend time with people who understand what you’re going through is really a very powerful thing.

The last thing I’ll say about relationships is that there are times where they get unhealthy. They can actually be the reason for your burnout. What I’m thinking of here is this thing that many bloggers go through is the comparison of themselves with others. This can be a really unhealthy thing, and it can actually lead you to a pretty dark place. It’s something I think most of us as bloggers can relate to. It’s very easy to look at other bloggers in our niche or other bloggers in our area and to see their successes, to see their achievements, and to compare them with ourselves.

This is probably the topic for a whole other podcast, so I’m not gonna go into great depth there, but I really want to encourage you, in your burnout, to also ask yourself: are you comparing yourself with others too much? That can actually be the source of unrealistic expectations and can lead you to pretty dark places, so monitor your relationships. Are they taking you to a healthy or an unhealthy place? It’s really important to not allow yourself to do that comparison thing.

Three more to go here. The seventh thing is to charge your day with inspirational moments and times of learning. Actually build into your life inspiration. I think, for me, this is one of the most powerful things that I do. I try and schedule at least 5-10 minutes everyday, where I am putting myself in a position where I will be inspired. A few years ago, I was an avid watcher of TED Talks, and I would watch random TED Talks. A lot of these had a more positive kind of inspirational aspect to them.

In more recent times, it’s been listening to podcasts. I’m trying to put myself in a position to listen to two types of podcasts: firstly, inspirational ones, and secondly, learning ones. I think both are really important because they stimulate different parts of your brain, and they give you energy in different ways.

It doesn’t even matter if what you’re listening to is connected to your blog’s topic or blogging itself. To me, it’s anything – being inspired about anything. Watching a documentary about wildlife and being inspire about the beauty and the intricacy of how the animal kingdom works. That can be inspiring, and that lifts your mood. That has an impact upon your blogging.

Learning about that type of stuff stimulates that part of your brain, where you are learning, you are connecting new pathways in your brain. I think that has a flow-on effect into other areas of your life. Then of course, being inspired and learning about your niche is a very powerful thing.

Build into your day moments – it may not be long moments. It might be 10 minutes to watch a video, 10 minutes to listen to a podcast, where you are stimulating those parts of your brain, where you’re inspiring yourself about big things and inspiring yourself to dream but also learning – really important.

The eighth thing I wanna talk about is to play, pivot, and evolve. Those three words may feel like they’re disconnected, but hopefully you’ll understand what I mean in a moment. One of the things that has pulled me down into a blogging slump over the years is that I tend to get bored. If I get bored, I tend to get a bit dejected. Now this might just be my personality type, but I find that doing the same thing the same way day in and day out is almost always going to kill my passion for that thing. As a result, I’ve learned over the years that I need to look out for new ways to do things and for ways to play and experiment with what I do and to change things up.

One of the great things about the space that we operate in as bloggers and as people in podcasting and on social media, is that we are operating in a space that is always changing. There’s always something new to try. This can be a problem because we can spend our whole lives playing with the new tools and new toys and not actually doing anything, but I do think it’s important to bring play and experimentation into what we do as bloggers.

For me, this happened many times over the years. Many of you will be familiar with the fact that I’ve started a podcast; you’re all listening now. I started this about a year-and-a-half ago. That was 12 years into my blogging, and I’d already been blogging about blogging for 12 years and suddenly to start a podcast about blogging gave me a huge rush of energy and motivation. Simply by changing the medium that I was using to communicate was really important.

I spoke with another blogger recently, who had the exact same experience, when she started creating videos on her blog. She’d been blogging for 10 years about her topic. As she was feeling a bit burnt out; she’s feeling like she’d said everything she needed to say so she decided to start a video, a weekly video, where she repurposed some of her old blog posts into videos. She found that simply by changing the medium, even though she was writing about the same things and creating content on the same things, it gave her a huge rush of energy. So this experiment with a medium might be one thing that can help you to find new energy for your topic.

There are other ways of pivoting and evolving what you do and changing up what you do in different ways. It might be simply adding a category to your blog. This is what happened a few years ago for me on Digital Photography School. I have a blog about photography, how to take photos, for a long time, and one of the things I just decided to do is to add a whole category to the site about post-production, how to process your photos in Lightroom and Photoshop. This brought energy to me and to my readers. It gave me new motivation to explore a new area. Whilst I continued to write about the other things, adding something new stimulated that part of me and helped me not to be as bored with the topic that I had.

Changing up your categories could be good. Starting a new series of content – this is what happened when I did the first series of “Thirty-one Days to Build A Better Blog” many years ago now. One of the reasons I did that series was I kind of feeling a little bit stagnant with the blog. I wasn’t feeling as motivated, and so to try a series of content to start this event on my blog gave me a lot of energy. It also gave my readers a lot of energy as well.

Might be that you wanna try a new way of monetizing your blog. I remember when I first launched my first eBook. It gave me a rush of energy for my blogging. It’s this new way of monetizing; it impacted the way I wrote content and the energy that I brought to my blog.

I remember even before the eBook, I’d been monetizing my blog with AdSense, and then I found a new ad network to put on my blog alongside that. Simply by adding a new ad network, I suddenly have this excitement. What was gonna happen to my blog? I had this more motivation to drive more traffic to my blog, to write better content for my blog. So changing up the monetization might be useful.

Changing the design of your blog. Getting a new logo. Doing something with new colors on your blog. These simple changes that you can do on your blog, that evolve your blog, that improve your blog, that pivot your blog in some way. These playful moments can really give you energy as a blog. They can help you to see your blog as a little bit new, a little bit different.

The great thing about these is that not only will it energize you, but many of these little pivots and little changes will actually keep your blog fresh for your readers, which has another flow-on effect. If you start getting emails from readers saying, “Hey, I love the eBook” or “Hey, I love the new design,” that gives you energy.

This to me is probably the most important thing I’ll say today. I probably should have said it right up front. Number 9 is to do something that matters. This is probably the best way to stay inspired; the best way to stay fresh is to do something that matters to you and to others. When you are doing something that you have a genuine interest in and a genuine passion for and that you believe in, you’ll find that 99% of the time, you can keep the momentum going.

As I look back over the last 14 years that I’ve blogged, I’ve had over 30 blogs, and I only run 2 today. And the two that I have today are the ones that I had the most genuine interest in, the most passion for myself. Those two blogs that I still have today Digital Photography School and ProBlogger – they’re the ones I get personal satisfaction. They are meaningful to me.

I have a genuine love for blogging. ProBlogger is a blog that – once there are tough times, generally I love to create content about blogging. The other blog I have – I have a genuine interest in photography, so it’s easy for me to put aside time to create content on these topics and to learn more about these topics and to stay fresh in these things. It’s meaningful for me, so I’m energized by it.

You’ll notice before, I said that if you have a genuine interest, 99% of the time you’ll be able to keep the momentum going, while there’s still this other 1%. This is the times that you do get the burnout, but the other part of the factor for me in doing something meaningful is to choose something that is meaningful for other people. This is what gets me through the other 1%. When you are making other people’s lives better, you’ll find you get energy and inspiration from that.

I know there have been tough times in my own blogging, in building up ProBlogger for instance. The last 11 or so years of building up ProBlogger – those tough times, where you’re wondering, “Should I keep going?” It’s the emails or the comments that you get from readers, letting me know that I’ve done something that’s had a tangible impact upon them. Those are the things that really helped me through.

Spend your time creating something that is real, something that makes your readers’ life better in some way, and you’ll find that that will feed you through those tough times yourself. Do something that matters. Do something that’s meaningful to you and to other people, and that hopefully will get you through that next blogging slump, that next bloggers burnout that comes your way.

Now I guess, the last thing I’ll say is that there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. If you’re right in the middle of a bloggers burnout at the moment, take a break. It’s totally fine to do that. Maybe put a limit on how long that break will be. Maybe, say, it’s only a one-week break or a two-week break. Put a boundary on the other end of it, so you do have a point where you are going to come back to it, but take a break. It may be you need to find someone to help you to write some guest posts during that time or maybe simply that you say to your readers, “Hey, I’m taking a bit of a sabbatical. I’m taking my annual leave, and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.” You will find that your readers will understand that because they instinctively know that if you don’t look after yourself, you can’t really look after them either.

I hope that somewhere in the midst of those nine things that I’ve shared with you today will be something to get you through the tough time that maybe you’re going through at the moment as a blogger or the next tough time that you go through as a blogger.

Number 1: Know your limits and set realistic goals and expectations.

Number 2: Find your groove with a routine that works for you. Get into that groove.

Number 3: Identify the sticking points. Actually identify the things that are holding you back at the moment.

Number 4: Look after your body. Look after your diet. Look after your exercise.

Number 5: Take breaks – daily, weekly, monthly, yearly breaks.

Number 6: Focus on relationships. Build strong offline and online relationships, and particularly be aware of comparison that we so often do.

Number 7: Charge your day with inspirational moments and times of learning.

Number 8: Play, pivot, evolve. Try something new.

Number 9: Do something that matters.

I hope that you’ll stop by the shownotes at problogger.com/podcast/170 and tell me which one of those nine things works best for you and suggest anything else that you think might help other bloggers going through a burnout period at the moment. I’m sure there’s a lot more that can be said. Tell your story. When were you burnt out, and what did you do about it? I’d love to hear a little bit more about that in the comments of this podcast in the shownotes at problogger.com/podcast/170.

If you’re going through a tough time at the moment, I just wanna encourage you to really look after yourself – so important. And if you need any more advice, please drop me a line at [email protected] More than happy to listen to what you’re going through, and if I can give you any more advice than I already have, I’d love to speak into your situation in any way that I can.

Thanks for listening today. I hope you’re well, and I’ll chat with you next week on the ProBlogger podcast.

If you’re looking for something else to listen to at this point, I did mention a few episodes during this last episode. In episode 38, you might wanna listen to that one if health is something that you know you need to put your finger on. I tell my story of getting myself a little bit more in shape and some of the other things I did to improve me, improve my health. It had a flow-on impact for my blog.

In episode 83, I talked about blogger’s block, and this is one part of burnout that many bloggers go through. I talk about those three types of blogger’s block. In the ongoing episodes after 83, we talked a little bit about each one of those and gave you some strategies about how to really break through that.

Then I also mentioned in Episode 40 about my weekly rhythm, and that was much more about being productive with your time.

I hope you find something useful in those. The last thing I’ll say is if you enjoyed this episode, I would love it if you would give us a review and ratings on iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and also I’d love it if you know someone else who you think might benefit from this particular episode – if you would share it with them. You can share it by sending them to the shownotes at problogger.com/podcast/170 or tell them to search on iTunes for ProBlogger.

Thanks for listening. Chat with you soon.

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