Category: Content

Content

21 Content Ideas to Break Your Creative Rut

Ever wrack your brain for content ideas and come up with… nothing?

It’s a pretty common challenge for marketing pros. In fact, I had to sit and think for a little while to put together the right introduction for this blog post! To be honest, creative blocks are more a part of the process than the exception.

If a creative rut is simply a step in execution, how do you get to the next step of overcoming that block?

It turns out that many marketers have go-to strategies for when they can’t come up with a topic. They don’t go it alone, and you don’t have to, either.

We put together these 21 content ideas for your next marketing project to keep your creative process moving. Many of them involve methods that you can reuse over time, so you’ll have a technique to turn to when you run out of ideas.

[Tweet “21 #content ideas to break your creative rut.”]

Organize Your Content Topics With Our Calendar Template

While you snag some inspiration from the ideas in this post, make sure to have your content calendar on hand to schedule your projects.

If you don’t have a content calendar yet, we’ve got your back. Download our nifty template for free.

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1. Build on the Basics

Your content ideation journey should start with the foundation — your product or service. As you review your main offering, you might find inspiration right in front of you.

Questions to ask yourself about your product or service

If you don’t know the answers to these questions with the data you have, try performing some fundamental marketing research techniques to collect information on your audience. The information you’ll get from your research will make a great reference when you need details on your customers.

2. Ask Your Email Subscribers

A marketer with an email list has a valuable source of content topics at their fingertips. Since your list of email subscribers often overlaps with your list of content readers, they can provide ideas that your audience will care about. You just need to know what questions to ask them.

When you want information from your email list, you have two main methods of obtaining it — a single-question poll or a survey. A quick poll needs less commitment from your subscribers than a full survey, but it will obtain less detailed information. Meanwhile, a survey is a bigger ask of your subscribers, but it’ll give you richer information.

You can read our guide to marketing research strategies and HubSpot’s Ultimate Guide to Surveys for help thinking of questions. These resources will help you create concise questions that will get you relevant answers.

Survey question
Survicate

3. Make a Twitter Poll

If you have a decent Twitter following, ask for their opinions through a poll. Depending on how many people subscribe to your emails versus how many follow your Twitter, you may also get data from a new audience segment.

According to Twitter’s global creative lead, Joe Wadlington, the right Twitter poll copy will help you get valuable responses. Wadlington recommends keeping polls positive and clear with consistent answers. As pointed out in the linked video, you may also want to avoid “joke” answers that could skew your results, even if they’re fun to include.

Maybe try out a casual, simplistic poll at first to gauge your engagement levels.

Twitter poll
The Social Ms

4. Work With Your Customer Service Team

Customer service professionals hear customers’ problems firsthand — making them a great source for researching customer pain points. Pain points are the problems that your customers have as they look for, buy, and use a product like yours. Once you know your customers’ pain points, you can offer tailored solutions through your content.

Since pain points come up through all stages of the customer lifecycle, they’ll give you plenty of inspiration for topics related directly and indirectly to your product. You’ll be able to generate ideas for solving problems with your product or addressing issues found during the customer experience to make your readers’ lives easier.

[Tweet “Once you know your customers’ pain points, you can offer tailored solutions through your #content.”]

5. Talk to Your Sales Staff About Objections

In addition to getting in touch with your customer support team, you should contact your sales team for inspiring insights into your audience. Ask them about the most common objections they hear during the sales process to create topics that address them.

How do you use content to address customer objections effectively? You can turn to HubSpot’s 40 examples as a starter. If your sales staff has experience handling those objections well, you can also learn what answers they use and elaborate on them with your content.

6. Browse Quora

When searching for information on Google, you may have seen results from Quora — a high-ranking question-and-answer platform. People visit Quora to ask questions on a wide range of topics — including those relevant to B2C and B2B companies. Using this platform, you can research commonly asked questions from your audience to inspire content that answers them.

To find questions relevant to your readers, you can search topics directly on Quora or through Google. When you search for Quora pages on Google, you’ll see answers according to their SEO ranking, so the results can help you figure out what questions will help you rank higher.

Google search for Quora

In the example above, I went to the second page of Google results for Quora pages related to tea steeping. I wanted to find relevant questions that I might not think of on my own.

Since results past the first page tend to have a less direct connection to the keyword, they can provide spin-off ideas on your topic.

7. Check Out Relevant Subreddits

Like Quora, Reddit has plenty of curious users ready to learn about various topics, but it has a community focus over a question-and-answer focus. Subreddits, the different communities on Reddit, cover broad topics, like gaming, and more niche topics, like Star Wars prequel memes. Reddit users also talk about more professional subjects, taking part in active subreddits on fields, like copywriting and engineering.

Copywriting Subreddit

Reddit posts come in the form of questions, memes, links, and discussions — providing insight into what your audience talks about on the internet. Depending on the topics related to your business, the subreddits you come across may also have “megathreads”, where commenters have questions and comments that you might not see as individual posts.

For example, if you want to see how customers shop for personal care products on Boxing Day, the Lush Cosmetics subreddit had multiple megathreads for sales across the world.

8. Leverage the Power of Social Listening

As Joei Chan explained in our conversation with her on the Actionable Content Marketing Podcast:

Quote from Joei Chan about social listening

Just like Quora and Reddit research, social listening provides a direct look into what your audience says about your field or product.

Some businesses use a platform, like Mention, to keep an eye on social media conversations, but you can also perform social listening manually. Think of terms and phrases related to your product and industry, then search for them on social media platforms, like Twitter and Instagram.

During social listening, try using basic phrases, like your brand name and more niche phrases related to the topics you cover.

Going off of our previous tea steeping example, perhaps your product is a tea strainer. You would search for your product’s name as well as topics, like “how to steep tea” or names of tea varieties.

[Tweet “During social listening, try using basic phrases, like your brand name.”]

9. Look at Google’s “People Also Ask” Box

When looking at Google Search results, you might see a box titled “People also ask” that features questions related to your search. Google generates this box based on searches from users who searched the original term.

For example, you’ll see these related questions pop up when you search “how to steep tea”:

Google's "People Also Ask" box

As you can see, users also asked questions about the meaning of the word “steep”, whether you have to cover tea while it steeps and if you steep tea while water boils. This box digs deep into what users want to know — providing insight into their thought process during each phase of the customer lifecycle.

10. Research With Google Trends

Where do you turn to find out what people search on Google to find your content? It turns out that Google has a completely free tool to monitor search patterns — Google Trends.

Google Trends has plenty of valuable nuggets of information that reveal what searchers interested in your topic want to know. Let’s switch up our examples and check out the search term for “coffee”.

Each Google Trends results page shows the term’s popularity over the time you specify. The graph ranges from 0 (not enough data) to 100 (peak popularity). As Nick Churick at Ahrefs points out, you can use this data to jump on trends or plan your future content calendar.

Google Trends

You’ll also see the term’s popularity by region:

Trends by subregion

Below the term’s regional trends, you’ll also find topics and queries that people who search for “coffee” also search:

Trends for related topics

As you can see, you can have Google rank these terms by “Rising” (recent volume) and “Top” (overall volume). Interestingly enough, when I did my research, people who searched for “coffee” also searched for “whipped cream” and “Pabst Blue Ribbon beer”. How do you think you would create content based on those unexpected topics?

11. Play With Keyword Modifiers

Keywords — words that best represent a concept or item — make great inspiration for content ideas in addition to their main use in SEO. According to our keyword research guide, a keyword consists of a core term and modifier. By trying out different modifiers, you can find new angles for your content and rank for more search terms.

To create new ideas with this technique, start with a basic topic to use as the main keyword, then add a new angle to it through a modifier.

Try adding these modifiers to your topic to see what you come up with:

How to modify your topic search

You can also use some of the search methods and tools we previously discussed, such as Google Trends and the “People also ask” box, to find more modifiers.

12. Use BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is another online tool that provides insights on content that performs well with your audience. It offers detailed data on how articles rank on social media and lets you track the performance of different topics and keywords. It’ll serve you well as another source of inspiration if your business pays for one of its plans. The BuzzSumo knowledge base also has tips on how to use the platform for content marketing research.

That being said, BuzzSumo works best when you have a paid plan and a North American audience. Its free features are limited to an overview of trending content.

13. Read a Book

According to Pew Research, about a quarter of adults haven’t read a book at all in the past year. Why don’t you help your audience keep up with the best reads on relevant subjects?

Try reading a book related to your product and industry and share what your audience can learn from in your content.

14. Write a Case Study

Do you have a successful campaign, project, or client relationship that shows off what you can do for your customers? Write a case study about it! A case study breaks down how you solved a problem and the results you achieved.

As you’ll see in our guide to writing a case study, this content format typically includes a title, executive summary, subject, problem, solution, and results. If you hop on over to that blog post, you’ll get plenty of templates and inspiration.

Laerdal case study

15. Interview a Subject Matter Expert

Subject matter experts have a treasure trove of information that can make your content more unique and authoritative. Simply put, a subject matter expert is someone with a high level of expertise in the topics you cover. Talking to one of these specialists is often easier than it seems, so try it out and learn what you can from the people who know best.

[Tweet “A subject matter expert is someone with a high level of expertise in the topics you cover in your content.”]

16. Make an Expert Roundup

An expert roundup works kind of like a subject matter expert interview — except on a broader scale. These articles gather responses and insight from experts in your industry on the topics and questions you choose.

Learn how to wow your readers with an expert roundup through our comprehensive blog post.

17. Repurpose Your Existing Content

As content marketers, we’re all looking for ways to get the most mileage out of our work — especially when we have limited time and resources. Try repurposing your content to reach more customers across channels.

For example, when you make a blog post, you can also repurpose its images and text into content types.

Content types for repurposing images

18. Conduct a Gap Analysis

Checking what content your competitors are making is a common strategy in marketing, but have you ever tried analyzing what they’re not doing?

A gap analysis evaluates what kind of content your field doesn’t cover, so you can fill those spaces in the media landscape. You can learn how to conduct one with our free guide and template.

19. Bring Your Own Angle to Industry News

If you follow your industry’s news, you already have access to a fantastic resource for content ideas. Consider sharing your thoughts on and responses to the latest happenings in your field, so you can add more content to your website and solidify your thought leadership.

As Rebecca Riserbato at HubSpot puts it, thought leadership is a marketing tactic centered around becoming the go-to expert in your field.

By providing your takes on what’s going on in your industry, you’ll give your audience context they won’t find anywhere else. Plus, you can adapt this strategy to both B2B and B2C audiences.

For example, you can explain to customers how a change in your industry could affect their experience when targeting a B2C audience.

20. Craft Some Holiday Content

As you plan out your content calendar for the year, think about tailoring some of your topics to relevant holidays. In the marketing world, holidays go beyond Halloween and New Year’s — there are tons of novelty holidays out there that make great hooks.

We recently shared a list of social media marketing holidays that you can apply to a wide range of content types.

21. Publish According to Seasonal Demand

Remember to pay attention to your customers’ behavioral trends throughout the year to craft content that meets their most urgent needs. Seasonal marketing goes beyond holidays because every business has annual trends to follow.

You can follow seasonal demand with your content by looking for patterns in your business.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What time of year is the busiest for our business and why?
  • When can customers get the most use out of our product?

These principles apply to both outdoor and indoor industries. For example, a lawn care business might create content about preparing your yard for spring in March and April. Meanwhile, an accounting business in America could explore topics related to tax returns around that time.

[Tweet “You can follow seasonal demand with your content by looking for patterns in your business.”]

Get Inspired and Organized for Your Content Strategy

We hope these ideas gave you the spark of inspiration you needed to generate unique and useful content for your strategy. With a well of topics to cover, you’ll be ready to tackle your content marketing head-on.

While you’re working on your content marketing plans, try exploring our marketing campaign ideas or learning how to develop an editorial strategy.

The post 21 Content Ideas to Break Your Creative Rut appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

Content

How to Produce a Podcast

I have recorded nearly 1,000 podcast episodes. My team has created and produced more than a dozen separate shows for corporate clients and ourselves.

Here’s what I say whenever someone asks me if they should start a podcast:

Yes, if you think small enough.

Habitual and heavy podcast listeners regularly tune in to about 5 different shows per week. And while it’s true that the overall podcast listening audience is growing, it’s not doing so with great velocity.

There is NO shortage of podcasts now. Millions are being produced, and with about 25% of the population listening to podcasts, that’s a lot of competition to be one of those five shows per week.

And while it’s possible that yours will create a few brand-new podcast fans who’ve never dipped into the medium previously, that’s going to be a small portion of your audience. Thus, the listeners for YOUR podcast are almost assuredly already listening to OTHER podcasts.

So the real question you should be asking isn’t, “should you start a podcast?” but rather, “whose podcast audience are you going to steal?”

The ONLY WAY you can succeed with a new podcast now is if your show is the favorite show on the planet for a select group of people. And to be their favorite, you need to be hyper-relevant and hyper-specific. Become indispensable to a small group, and then find a way to make that group larger. If you can do that, then YES, you should start a podcast in 2021.

If you have made it this far, then you’ve decided to start a podcast, congrats! Now what?

12 Steps to Produce a Killer Podcast

1. Schedule Time Windows

We almost always record two shows back-to-back. It took me a while to figure this out, but it’s easier to schedule one, larger chunk of time than a few, smaller chunks. Plus, when you’re “in the flow” the shows are just better. I very much recommend setting aside 2-3 hours every couple of weeks, and knocking out as many podcasts as you can.

2. Book Your Guests

Our show hosts (me for Social Pros; Amber Naslund and Chris Moody for Content Pros) pick and schedule their own guests. We do it the old-fashioned way, via email. I know there are lots of tools out there that help you pick and time and auto-schedule, but I hate the impersonal nature of that technology. You’re asking someone to come on your show, can’t you at least exchange a couple of emails to pick a time?

Once guests are arranged, our Producer, Jess Ostroff, sends a GoToMeeting invite to guests and hosts. We record our shows via GoToMeeting, which we prefer to Skype.

3. Explain the Show

When she sends the GoToMeeting request, Jess also sends to the guests our guest guidelines for the podcast, so they have a better feel for what’s going to happen while recording.

Here’s our guest guidelines page for Social Pros.

At this stage, Jess also gets the mailing address for the guest. Why? Because….

4. Send Guests a Gift Before the Show

We want guests on our podcasts to be treated like somebody special (because they are!), and we want the audio quality of the shows to be as good as it can be.

We now send all guests a USB headset and a thank you note, via Amazon.

Here’s the headset we send to guests.

Does that expense add up? Sure it does. We’ll send at least 75 of those headsets in 2015, so the annual cost for this piece of our podcast production checklist is nearly $2,000. But, we’re always trying to raise the bar and differentiate. It’s worth it (to me).

5. Send Pre-Show Questionnaire

Our hosts research all guests before the show, but we recently created pre-show interview questionnaires so that we can pull more knowledge and insights from guests before the podcast begins. This is inspired by the “pre interview” that is done on talk shows.

Here’s the pre-show questionnaire for Social Pros.

We built it in 5 minutes using Formstack, a fantastic form and landing page creation tool (with testing). Formstack is also a sponsor of the Social Pros podcast (and this blog), and you can get a 14-day free trial right here.

When the guest completes the form, the answers are automatically sent to our hosts, and our producer.

6. Record the Show 

As mentioned, we use GoToMeeting to record Social Pros and Content Pros. It’s just easier for us, and we find the audio to be slightly more stable than Skype. However, we do not use a mixing board or any advanced audio techniques, and it is my understanding that Skype may be superior in that configuration.

After each episode finishes, our primary host converts the recording using the built-in tool inside GoToMeeting, and uploads it to Dropbox. We send a notification email to our producer, and provide her with a proposed title for the episode.

During the show, we have host-read commercials for our sponsors. Our producer logs new advertiser copy on a Google doc, and that file remains on our second monitor during the episode taping. We do not read the commercials word-for-word, but try to make them as organic to the show as possible. Chris Moody and Amber Naslund are particularly good at this on the Content Pros podcast.

Each podcast episode contains three or four sponsor acknowledgements. Social Pros sponsors include Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Formstack, Shortstack, and Cision. Content Pros sponsors include ProofHQ, InboundWriter, Oracle Marketing Cloud, and Sysomos.

We only work with sponsors I believe in personally, which is why all of our current partners are either platforms we use at Convince & Convert and/or consulting clients.

7. Edit the Show

We do not do comprehensive editing on our podcasts, preferring a more authentic vibe. We use Levelator to make sure the hosts and guests are at the same audio level, and we cut out obvious flubs and delays. Our producer Jess also inserts our pre-recorded show opens and closes. We use Jack at Audiobag for these recordings.

Once the episode is edited, it as added to our hosting platforms. We use Podbean for Social Pros and Libsyn for Content Pros. Once added there, the episodes are automatically added to the shows feed on iTunes and other aggregators like Stitcher.

At this point, we also upload the finished audio to Speechpad, a terrific transcription service we use to get word-for-word transcripts of all shows at approximately $1 per minute.

Here’s a finished Social Pros podcast, featuring Adam Buchanan from Cabela’s.

Here’s a finished Content Pros podcast, featuring Jason Miller from Linkedin.

8. Create Blog Post

Speechpad sends a notification email when the transcription is complete. Our producer then takes the best moments from the episode and creates a blog post that runs here on Convince & Convert. At one point we ran full-text blog posts, but those got to be long, so now we just write up the highlights.

All the blog posts for Social Pros (150+) can be found here.

The Content Pros blog posts are located here.

9. Create Video Highlights

I am enthusiastic about our new partnership with Stephanie Crowley at Chrysallis Studios. Stephanie is an incredibly talented artist, and she is listening to Content Pros podcasts and making visual notes of one episode per month. She takes these notes on paper that is 8 feet long, and then creates a short video that showcases the episode highlights. Here’s an example from when I was on the Content Pros podcast recently:

(Note: We are working on adding some audio to these, probably a short description from the hosts, plus music) 

These videos are uploaded to Youtube and Facebook, and are embedded in the Content Pros blog post.

10. Send a Thank You Note and a BadgeThe day the show goes live, our producer emails guests to let them know, and encourages them to share the episode. We also send guests a digital “badge” that they can use on their personal website or blog.

Stephanie is also sending via FedEx the finished, giant poster of the episode’s visual notes to each Content Pros guest. A nice touch, I think.

 11. Promote the Episode

Our podcasts are now released on Mondays. We promote each episode across our social channels, the social channels of our hosts, and in our daily email The One Thing.

We also have an ongoing retargeting campaign using Google display ads. So, if you’ve ever visited a Social Pros or Content Pros blog post, the chances are pretty good that you’ll sometimes see ads for new episodes on websites all around. Our team updates the creative each week to feature the new guest.

12. Atomize the Content

It’s terrific to have consistent audio content from the podcast, as well as weekly blog post summaries of each shows. But, we try to create even more content out of our podcast program with our monthly recaps/greatest hits posts.

Here’s a monthly recap from Social Pros, focused on the human side of social.

We also sometimes create special content marketing programs that use our podcasts as raw materials. For example, our Social Pros All-Stars ebook we published in 2014 tapped into the education and career histories of podcast guests, and became an ebook and a media hit.

See the Social Pros All-Stars ebook on Slideshare. It’s called Lessons from 27 Big-Brand Social Media Professionals.

So that’s it. That’s our 12-step process to produce a podcast. I hope it’s useful to you.

The post How to Produce a Podcast appeared first on Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy.

Academy

The Best CoSchedule Academy Courses for You and Your…

Being a marketer involves juggling a lot of different tasks, projects, and deadlines — sometimes when you have sub-par tools and insufficient guidance. There are enough web resources out there to drive you mad, but it’s tough trying to sift through all of them to find the right ones for you, your team, and the project at hand.

Rather than asking you to treasure-hunt for your own research methods and tricks to becoming a better marketer, CoSchedule has organized the CoSchedule Academy. Here, you can find hundreds of video tutorials, templates, and resources designed to help you learn the tactics behind some of the best marketing strategies.

[Tweet “The best @CoSchedule Academy courses for you and your marketing team!”]

What is the CoSchedule Academy?

CoSchedule Academy offers a wide variety of courses to ensure you are finding the perfect resources for you and your team to succeed. CoSchedule’s marketing education resources are featured in many industry-leading publications including, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc., USA Today, Convince & Convert, techweek, MarketingProfs, Adweek, Copyblogger, and more.

We’re going to walk you through the courses we offer through the academy, so you have a good idea of what will work best for you and your team.

Let’s dig in!

Which Courses Will You Find in the CoSchedule Academy?

CoSchedule Academy features over 25 different courses to help you learn new marketing skills quickly.

Not sure which course to take first? Here’s a quick overview of our most popular courses to help you get started.

10x Marketing Formula

10x marketing formula

With this free, mini course, any level of marketing professional can benefit from learning more about how to drive 10x growth from your strategy. CoSchedule CEO and co-founder, Garrett Moon, has shared his formula for growing businesses fast in his book — and this is the spot where you’ll learn all about how to execute it.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Focus on projects that drive 10x growth vs. 10% growth.
  • Identify your “1 Metric that Matters” in measuring your success.
  • How to create competition-free content to help you stand out.

When you enroll in this course, you’ll be generating 10x results in no time.

30 Marketing Ideas in 30 Minutes

Marketing ideas

Stop wasting your time on work that doesn’t matter and start creating goal-focused ideas in as little as 30 minutes.

Planning is one of the most important parts of marketing because you don’t want to waste time or miss deadlines simply because you couldn’t come up with successful marketing ideas right as you need them. This course is designed to help you plan ahead in the best way possible.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Create your best ideas with a 10-minute brainstorming process.
  • Rank your marketing ideas on a 3-point scale.
  • Distinguish between great ideas and ideas that won’t cut it.
  • Lay out your ideas/plans on your marketing calendar.
  • Actually execute your 10x ideas.

Remember, don’t sell yourself short on planning your next year, month, or even quarter. Enroll in this course to ensure you’re setting future projects up for success.

Cross-Functional Team Collaboration

Multi-Team projects

Use this course to encourage successful collaboration across different departments in your business. In five, simple steps, you’ll be able to easily and effectively organize large-scale marketing projects with other teams.

Plan, manage, and execute projects that are too overwhelming for just one person or one team by understanding how to include others with different expertise.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Draft creative briefs that clarify collaboration expectations.
  • Produce high-quality content by defining standards of performance.
  • Create a project request form.
  • Manage time properly for a busy marketing team.
  • Understand what you and your team need to succeed.

It’s okay to ask for help. This course will make sure you ask for the right help, from the right people, the right way.

Marketing Plan for 5X Success

Marketing plan

Create your most successful marketing plan that helps you focus on generating better results — more leads, more subscribers, more traffic, and beyond.

Developing a cohesive roadmap for your marketing projects and ideas can be tough, but this Academy course offers some great tips and tricks for making this process easier on you and your team.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Identify your target audience.
  • Focus on the right projects and their timelines.
  • Correctly measure your success and set goals.

With a marketing plan in place, you will easily connect your marketing tactics, strategy, and goals together.

Using a Marketing Calendar

Marketing calendar

When you have the right resources for creating an optimal marketing calendar, you are guaranteed to publish more content with better results. This marketing calendar course is the perfect solution for ensuring you are putting your best marketing ideas into action.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Map out 12 months worth of content ideas.
  • Prioritize content by buyer intent.
  • Define the perfect publishing frequency and roles for your team.

Keep your entire team in the loop by implementing an effective marketing calendar into your routine. This Academy course is the perfect start to executing your next marketing strategy.

Planning Marketing Campaigns

Marketing campaigns

Planning a marketing campaign can be a daunting task filled with lots of moving parts, tight deadlines, and confusing steps. The Academy’s marketing campaigns course will give you the tools you need to start planning and executing your next successful marketing campaign.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Recognize the anatomy of a marketing campaign.
  • Identify your target audience and the big picture of your campaign.
  • Create a launch brief.
  • Navigate through your resources and content.
  • Measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

Marketing campaigns are so much more than simply promoting your products, services, and business; they are complex projects that span multiple channels, weeks, and target markets. That’s a lot of invested effort.

The marketing campaign course from CoSchedule Academy gives you the templates, tools, and guidance to create a successful marketing campaign with ease.

Developing Brand Strategy

Brand strategy

Brand positioning happens whether you try to incorporate it into your marketing strategy or not, so why not do it the right way? Enroll in the brand strategy course through the academy to help you solidify the persona behind your brand.

Your company brand is so much more than the purpose and meaning of your logo or the products or services you deliver. Your brand is what outlines the voice and tone you use in copy, influences design, and shapes your target audience.

“A brand is a promise made. A great brand is a promise kept.” – Bea Perez

You’ll learn how to:

  • Develop the foundation for your brand strategy.
  • Define your value proposition and your brand promise.
  • Finalize your brand messaging.
  • Create brand guidelines.
  • Use your brand strategy as a guide for content strategy.

Build your brand to be better than ever by learning the ins and outs of brand strategy in this informative course.

Developing Marketing Skills

Marketing skills

There are plenty of skills that are expected to be in a marketer’s tool belt — analytics, copywriting, different tactics, adaptation, etc. — but how many of these skills do you think you have a solid understanding of? Use this course as a guide to further develop your success as a marketing professional.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Build new marketing skills.
  • Work more efficiently and effectively.
  • Acquire, build, and retain current and new skills.
  • Build positive habits that make skills stick.
  • Overcome resistance to change.

This course is dedicated to teaching you how to develop any marketing skill you’d like to stick into your marketing tool belt or learn more about. Add to your many marketing talents now and enroll in the Marketing Skills CoSchedule Academy course.

Blog Growth

Blog growth

If you’re wondering how to make your blog the best it can possibly be, look no further. This academy course will lead you in the right direction.

Keeping up with a blog is a lot of heavy duty work, and it takes the right strategy to ensure your blog is running the way you want and need. With this course, you will learn the exact roadmap CoSchedule used to grow our blog from hundreds to over 3 million monthly views.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Come up with 10x blog ideas to build your audience.
  • Build a consistent blog schedule that actually works.
  • Share your blog posts on social media to double your traffic.
  • Use your blog to build your email list.
  • Promote your blog posts via email.

You don’t have to build your blog alone. Work your way through this course and reap the benefits of having a successful blog.

Content Marketing SEO

Content marketing SEO

Even if you have the most impressive content that an audience has ever seen, it won’t matter if they can’t actually find it. Being able to properly build search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to any content marketing strategy.

With this course, you’ll have a better comprehension of what it means to do keyword research and how that affects your engagement levels with your audience.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Tackle keyword research.
  • Determine keyword intent.
  • Determine secondary keywords.
  • Avoid common keyword targeting pitfalls.
  • Uncover the best content marketing ideas with SEO in mind.
  • Structure and optimize content for SEO.

It’s important to understand that SEO is all about the content, and the content marketing SEO course is centered around educating marketers — like yourself — about this concept.

Headline Basics

Headline basics

Headlines have a lot of responsibility; they influence your traffic, shares, and search results. This academy course is centered around a proven process and tactics to write headlines that convince your audience to click.

The headline is the first thing your audience sees before they decide to read through your content. If you don’t capture the attention of your audience within the first couple of seconds, you’ve completely lost their interest. Navigate through this course to make sure you’re writing headlines that perform the best.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Appreciate the purpose of a good headline.
  • Craft better headlines.
  • Navigate the process of writing better headlines.
  • Find your best headline and resources.

Never underestimate the power of a good headline or your capability to create one. Drive more traffic, shares, and search results for your content today.

Agile Marketing

Agile marketing

The marketing process should be a smooth and seamless transition of one task or project to another. When this is not the case, work and collaboration can become frustrating or impossible. This academy course will help you implement agile workflows, effectively and consistently communicate with your team, and improve your work with agile retrospectives.

It’s important to keep an organized framework for you and your team, and agile marketing is the best way to do this.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Understand the agile scrum framework.
  • Organize cross-functional teams.
  • Plan agile sprints.
  • Run effective daily standups.
  • Implement agile workflows.
  • Improve your work with agile retrospectives.

Use this course to learn about the ins and outs of agile marketing, so you and your team can start producing better work in less time.

Triaging Projects

Triage projects

Having an effective workflow is the best way to ensure that your entire team is on the same page with project progress, who’s doing what, and deadlines. In this advanced marketing course, the big picture is focused on helping you perfect your work management process.

With the right tips, tools, and practices that this course offers, you’ll be able to successfully triage, prioritize, and execute project requests.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Create a marketing services catalog.
  • Set accurate timeless estimates to meet delivery dates every time.
  • Create a project request form.
  • Implement time management principles for the busy marketing team.
  • Say “no” to new project requests.

Your team deserves processes that prevent employee burnout. This course is the first step to limiting the overload on your team with last minute project requests. It’s about productivity and being the marketing hero to your team and stakeholders.

Product Launches

Product launch

When it comes time to launch a new product or a new version of a product, the process can be overwhelming and complex. CoSchedule has already gone through the trial and error steps for you, and this course was created to show marketers, like yourself, the solid and successful process of putting together a well-coordinated product launch.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Define expectations with a creative brief.
  • Identify your target audience.
  • Write your value proposition and talking points.
  • Plan your product launch.
  • Measure the success of your product launch.

We don’t want to see your next product launch flop. Enrolling in this course will ensure you’re upcoming launches are set up with the right tools and tactics to make them as successful as possible.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook advertising

Facebook Ad campaigns are an important part of social media marketing, but it’s very easy for your promotions to get lost in a sea of other advertisements. With other ads constantly flowing through the algorithm of everyone’s Facebook pages, it’s crucial to make your ads stand out.

This course will break down how to set up and execute your next successful Facebook Ad campaigns.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Set up campaign objectives and expectations.
  • Choose your target audience.
  • Develop beneficial ad copy.
  • Measure results.
  • Navigate common pitfalls of Facebook Ads.

Whether you’ve already composed dozens of Facebook Ad campaigns or you’re ready to start planning your first, this course will teach you the basics of launching, maintaining, and measuring your next campaign.

Social Media Strategy

Social media strategy

Looking to boost your marketing professional credentials? This social media course contains everything you need for planning the entirety of your social media marketing strategy. Better yet, you can complete this certification in as little as two weeks!

With a series of lessons and workshops, the development of your social strategy won’t ever feel like a daunting task again.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Discover who your real social media audience is and how to reach them.
  • Plan your content strategy and create content that connects.
  • Plan and schedule social media content to avoid last-minute headaches.
  • Get real results 3,150% faster with a documented strategy tailored to your needs.
  • Drive more traffic, get more engagement, and build your social following fast.

What are you waiting for? Become a certified social media strategist by CoSchedule and start developing the perfect social media strategy for you and your business.

Try Out CoSchedule Academy Courses Today!

Now that you have a clear understanding of what many of the CoSchedule Academy courses have to offer, which courses will you enroll in?

Keep in mind that course prices vary, but you also have the option to enroll in CoSchedule’s Academy Pro — where you have access to 25+ Academy courses for only $250/year. That’s a $2,475 value!

What are you waiting for? Become a better marketer today and get started with your CoSchedule Academy courses today.

The post The Best CoSchedule Academy Courses for You and Your Marketing Team appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

Content

20 Awesome Examples of Accessible Websites

Earlier this year, we introduced you to a solution called accessiBe* that makes websites accessible with just a snippet of code.

We are proud users of accessiBe at Convince & Convert. The interface allows every visitor to a website with accessiBe installed to adjust website design, UI and accessibility to their specific needs.

I’m a big an of the solution. To give you an idea of what websites with accessiBe look like and how they help users with disabilities, I put together this list of examples of websites that are made accessible with accessiBe.

*To provide complete transparency: we are accessiBe customers, and accessiBe is a client of Convince & Convert as well.

Here are 20 awesome examples of accessible websites.

Section 1: Hospitality & Travel

1. Hilton

Seizure Safe Profile

The Hilton Columbus at Easton is a favored hotel among business and leisure travelers, locals and groups alike. To accommodate all of their online visitors, the use of accessiBe within their website allows visitors to choose the right accessibility profile for their own preferences.

With the Seizure Safe Profile feature, flashes are eliminated and screen color is reduced. The profile enables epileptic and seizure users to swiftly browse through the website by reducing the risk of seizures that are caused by flashing or blinking animations and risky color combinations.

2. Condor Hotel

Visually Impaired Profile

Condor Visually Impaired Website Profile

In addition to more features that accessiBe provides, the Visually Impaired Profile function enhances visuals on the client websites so that it adapts to the majority of visual impairments, including tunnel vision, cataracts, and glaucoma. Here, when Condor’s guests browse through their website to find a boutique stay in Brooklyn, they can easily do so as the program quickly adjusts the orientations.

3. Snacknation

Cognitive Disability Profile

Snacknation Accessible Website Example

Snacknation is a snack delivery service for those who want to send snack boxes to their teams, friends, and even your own home.

For some visitors, especially those who have cognitive disabilities, such as Autism, Dyslexia, and CVA, browsing through all the snack options without accessiBe enabled could pose a challenge.

However, the Cognitive Disability Profile assists viewers with reading and focusing. This profile provides assistive features that focus on the essential elements of the website, such as boxing out the heading and menu bar options.

4. Lonely Planet

ADHD Friendly Profile

The ADHD Friendly Profile is one of our personal favorites. Not only is it cool but it does a great job at focusing on specific sections of the website while eliminating distractions. This profile was specially designed to help people with ADHD and Neurodevelopmental disorders browse, read, and focus on the website easily. This is super important especially when you are looking to plan and book your next trip while reading at travel guides and destination information.

5. DELSEY

Readable Font for Visually Impaired

As we all know, good typography helps a potential customer feel more secure about your product listing, business, and even advertisements online. Luckily, accessiBe’s content adjustments allows individuals to use the “Readable Font” feature. The website quickly adjusts to a simple typeface while keeping the same layout and design elements of the brand. When looking at the smallest product details in your next luggage, a readable font would definitely make it easier to do so.

Section 2: Automotive & Financial and Legal Services

6. DealerON

Highlight Titles for Visually Impaired

DealerON accessible Website Example

7. Yokohama

Highlight Links for Visually Impaired

Yokohama Accessible Website Example

If you need help focusing on certain aspects of a website but don’t necessarily need additional functions that accessiBe’s ‘Profile’ adjustments provide, you can use some of the simpler adjustment options such as Highlight Titles and Highlight Links. As shown on DealerON and Yokohama’s home pages, this tool simply boxes the main titles and links on the websites so that visitors can quickly point out where they are.

8. StepStone

Text Magnifier for Visually Impaired

Accessible Website Example by Stepstone

Sometimes text can appear small and difficult to read. Being able to magnify or zoom into text makes it easier and more comfortable to read written content. Especially for those who have vision impairments, accessiBe’s Text Magnifier adjustment enables users to move their cursor over content and it enlarges the texts automatically.

9. Miami State Attorney

Align Center for Visually Impaired

Align Center for Visually Impaired

As shown on the Miami State Attorney’s website, accessiBe’s center alignment tool seamlessly centers all text. This function works perfectly for sections of websites where there’s a large portion of text on the screen. Being able to center align text creates an easier read on the eye for some viewers who have troubled eyesight. In addition, viewers also have the option of left and right alignment as well.

10. The Florida Bar

Dark Contrast for Visually Impaired

Dark Contrast for Visually Impaired

Many programs and apps on our mobile devices now have a “dark mode.” Thanks to accessiBe, many brands can now have a similar feature accessible on their websites. Viewers can change color adjustments to their preferred needs and reduce eye strain with the dark contrast feature. This also accommodates those who have light sensitivity and cannot surf websites with bright backgrounds.

Section 3: Healthcare & Technology

11. Louisiana Department of Health

Monochrome for Visually Impaired

Monochrome for Visually Impaired

Similarly to the dark contrast feature, accessiBe’s monochrome function works great to reduce bright colors on websites. In addition, it’s a great solution for those who are experiencing color vision impairments. As shown on the Louisiana Department of Health’s home page, the monochrome function turns the pages into clear shades of gray without hindering the content.

12. Dexcel

Monochrome for Visually Impaired

Dexcel Monochrome for Visually Impaired

If you thought that accessibility features couldn’t get more creative, think again. AccessiBe provides color adjustment to specific content areas on a website. Whether it is text or a title, viewers who experience various degrees of color blindness may not be able to see your buttons or links because of the color. So, this allows them to have the power in their hands to easily adjust the colors according to their vision needs.

13. Pacific Life

Read Mode for Visual, Motor & Cognitive Disabilities

from Pacific Life Read Mode Example

In this example, you can see how a viewer can adjust their screen orientation as well. This section is specifically designed to help people with visual impairments, cognitive disabilities, and motor impairments. The read mode removes all graphics and moving images and keeps all text on the screen for viewers to focus solely on the information. As a plus, this feature is also printer friendly as it saves you some ink if you decide to utilize it for your physical needs.

14. Belkin

Highlight Hover Example

One of the main concepts behind AccessiBe’s orientation features is that it helps reduce distractions and noise by providing guiding elements. On the Belkin website, you can see how the highlight hover function allows viewers to use their cursor to click on specific parts of the site. This focuses directly on the content as the program highlights your desired section.

15. Mobileye

Hide Images for Visual, Motor & Cognitive Disabilities

Mobileye Hide Images for Visual Motor Cognitive Disabilities

Most online websites contain moving images or animations that may be difficult for some viewers. Viewers are able to hide images on the websites if they find that it is too distracting. With all the blank space left on the screen, the overall layout and dimensions of the website stays true to itself, so brands wont need to worry about their content being reconstructed in any way.

Section 4: Apparel & Retail

16. Allsaints

Useful Links for Visual, Motor and Cognitive Disabilities

Useful Links for Visual Disabilities Example

With any online shopping site, we experience the moment of looking through numerous tabs and categories to find what we are looking for. Viewers of a site can utilize the useful links function to quickly gain access to a drop down menu of all the links on the website. Whether its shoes, jewelry, or a t-shirt, this function guides viewers to where they desire to go.

17. DC Shoes

Font and Letter Adjustments for Visual, Motor and Cognitive Disabilities

Although accesiBe’s profile features are pre-built, viewers can choose to adjust other elements to their liking. In DC’s home page for example, you can see how easy it would be to adjust font sizing or letter spacing when necessary. This customization allows people to find the perfect screen view for their particular disability.

18. Glasses USA

High Contrast for Visually Impaired

19. Kappa

Low Saturation for Visually Impaired

Low Saturation Visually Impaired Website Example

Individuals who experience vision impairments also need to have the options to adjust the screen displays brighter to enhance readability and visuals. The high contrast function works as a filter to make images or text easier to read and for color to be more prominent. Those with limited or low-vision can see content better with the use of high contrast compared to a normal color scheme. In relation, low saturation works in a similar way to accommodate those who have more sensitive eyesight to bright and bold visuals. The homepage on GlassesUSA showcases the high contrast feature, where the colors on the shades are enhanced, and on the Kappa homepage, low saturation dims down visuals, as seen on the model’s shirt.

20. Taylor Guitars

Keyboard Navigation for Motor Impaired

Keyboard Navigation for Motor Impaired

Another one of our favorites, but certainly not the least, is the profiles for Blind Users and the Keyboard Navigation feature. When utilizing the blind users function, the website becomes compatible with screen readers that are installed on the blind user’s computer or smartphone. With the keyboard navigation function, it enables moter-impaired individuals to operate the website using their keyboards with shortcuts such as “M” for menus and “H” for headings.

Website accessibility is more important than ever. In order to provide equal opportunities and experiences for people with disabilities, consider implementing the necessary softwares and tools needed to do so. That way, your relationships with your consumers grow far beyond a computer screen.

The post 20 Awesome Examples of Accessible Websites appeared first on Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy.

Actionable Marketing Podcast

How to Throw Out the Leadership Playbook and Succeed…

When you’re in a leadership position, sometimes it’s hard to know who to ask or where to look when you need answers to questions and solutions to problems — especially because others expect you to have all the answers and solutions.

Today’s guest is Simon Berg, CEO at Ceros, an experiential content creation platform that empowers marketers and designers to create engaging, interactive, and immersive content experiences. Simon talks about what to do when forced to use your own critical-thinking and problem-solving skills instead of a paint-by-numbers playbook. Creativity matters!

[podcast_motor_player]

Some of the highlights of the show include:

  • COVID vs. Conventional Wisdom: Layoff people during global catastrophe?
  • 2020: Incredibly difficult year of suffering, fear, desperation, anxiety, uncertainty
  • Real Life: Other feelings of presence, pause, introspection, reflection, unity
  • Adversity and Constraint: Ceros chooses opportunity for growth and creativity
  • Big Deal: Happy Birthday, Mr. Berg; time to get drunk because the deal is dead
  • Creativity in Captivity: Takes transparency, compassion, doubt, experiences
  • Survive and Thrive: Commit to not touch salaries/jobs, if you support each other
  • Best Year Ever: Build confidence and grow by believing in yourself and others
  • Advice to Leaders: Stop looking in the book, instead look up and in front of you
  • I can’t…What can you do? Only thing that you can truly control is yourself
  • Reminder: Opportunities and problems are never easy, but hard to do
  • Leadership Playbook Police: Break free from constraints by reframing goals

If you liked today’s show, please subscribe on iTunes to The Actionable Content Marketing Podcast! The podcast is also available on SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google Play.

[Tweet “How to throw out the leadership playbook and succeed during a crisis, with @SimonBerg from @Cerosdotcom.”]

Transcript:

Ben: Hey, Simon. How’s it going this morning?

Simon: It’s very good. Cold but good.

Ben: You were just mentioned you’re in Connecticut, which we are no stranger to cold here in North Dakota. But it sounds like a lot of the rest of the country is getting a cold that most folks are not really prepared for right now.

Simon: Yeah, how is Texas?

Ben: I don’t know. I really feel awful just for everything that’s going on down there.

Simon: Talk about a state that was not prepared, but anyway.

Ben: Before we digress too much further, would you mind taking a moment just to introduce yourself to our audience and explain what you do at Ceros?

Simon: Sure. It’s Simon Berg here, and I’m the CEO over at Ceros. Ceros is about 10 years old. We’re a software business (formerly), but we’re also an ecosystem. We’re out there in the world unlocking the creativity for people through liberating technology. The shape and form of that at the moment is a digital creation platform that helps marketers and designers to create really rich, engaging visual experiences on the web without the need to code.

Ben: Cool. Great stuff. Something that we’re going to talk about on this show is leadership and just throwing out a lot of the conventional wisdom around leadership.

Before we get too far into the weeds, just from a high level—you’re coming at this as a CEO of a company that I imagine has probably gone through a lot of challenges throughout the years and probably seen a lot of stuff, so to speak, how did 2020 go for you? Just at a high level because I don’t think it was really great for any of us, or certainly not the years that we wanted but it’s the one that we got. It’s a pretty open-ended question, but from a leadership perspective, what did 2020 look like for the CEO at Ceros?

Simon: Sure. The first thing I want to say before I mention anything in 2020, you said I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of things over the years in Ceros, I mean it’s 10 years. That’s true, but I felt a lot of things too. That’s one of the first things I would say about leadership before we speak about 2020 is that there’s a lot of feelings involved—feelings of the people that you lead and the feelings as the leader. That really is an important thing that gets lost in a lot of people.

In terms of 2020, it’s been a really interesting year for my company and for me as an individual. Obviously, it’s an incredibly difficult year for everybody and you saw a tremendous amount of suffering, pain, anxiety, uncertainty, fear, desperation. That was clear to me as it began to unfold in the early part of the year.

What became apparent to me as I moved forward was in reality, much like life, there were a lot of those feelings, but there were also other feelings of presence, pause, introspection, reflection, intimacy, empathy, and unity. There were a lot of really interesting very powerful emotions that […] at once.

Those feelings for me, what I did as a leader was I did what I’ve always done, but I think I turned the volume up to 11, which was I attempted to lead through predominantly authenticity and being authentic myself. Then also trying very hard to make sure that I was at the right time, in the right ways leading through vulnerability because I think the common misconception in the world is that leaderships are […] at all times.

Vulnerability is weakness, and I call complete bullshit on that. It’s an absolute fallacy, it’s wrong. It doesn’t bring about joy or happiness to the leader. It doesn’t bring about true loyalty in those that you lead. I think it has the opposite effect. The simplest way to think about that is every single person in a position of leadership or otherwise is a human being. Human beings are fundamentally flawed, and all human beings have fear, doubt, anxiety, and uncertainty.

If you’re a leader and you pretend that you don’t, everybody that you’re leading just discounts everything that you say by 50% or more because they know that it’s impossible for you to not feel those things especially in a world like 2020. Showing that compassion, empathy, and—when it makes sense—vulnerability to my team is key.

The other thing I will say to you is that I have a huge passion—it’s my thing—creativity. Why we do and what we do at Ceros, creativity matters. I think it’s important. What 2020 presented amongst all of that for us was a tremendous amount of adversity and constraint.

You have a few choices when you face adversity and constraint. You could look in the playbook. There was no playbook for 2020. You can then conclude that you’ll curl up in a bowl and hide under a rock and wait till it goes away. Or you can see that adversity and constraint—as I am fortunate enough to see it and did see it—as an opportunity for growth and you see that adversity and constraint as the birthplace of creativity. Recognize that will help you make your way in a time where you know the playbook doesn’t work, and that’s what we did at Ceros.

Ben: Cool. It’s a very thorough answer. There’s a refreshing level of candor there too. I think everything you have to say about you can’t fake authenticity and you can’t fake strength either.

Simon: Nope, people will see through it.

Ben: Right. Getting a little bit more specific, what were some of the biggest challenges that you and your company faced in 2020? I think beyond the obvious things that we all went through like society going into lockdown, everybody’s working remote. For you specifically, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a leader, and how did you navigate your way through them? Obviously, you’re still here. Your company is still here. You got through it somehow.

Simon: The answer to that is in continuation of candor, we were in the middle of the largest deal of my career and an incredibly important transitional period for Ceros. We were in negotiations with a new financial partner to come in and deploy a large amount of capital onto our balance sheet and basically become a new investment partner to take the lead on our mission for the next five to six years.

I received that term sheet in December 2019, and I signed that February 23, December 2020. We were in the middle of due diligence with a view to closing in early April, and that deal died on March 15. Got a phone call from the partner over there. He called me up and said, look, I know I said we were going to get this done regardless of this pandemic, but it’s just too much. The uncertainty is piled up to the point where we have to stop. March 15 is also my birthday. You didn’t know that.

What happened when that happened was I put the phone down. My wife was with me, she cried, I cried, and I went and I got drunk with my chief revenue officer who lives about three minutes drive from where I live in Connecticut. I woke up the next day and had this bizarre burst of energy. I can’t define where it came from exactly, but I just felt an unbelievable calling to step forward, solve the problems, and do what needed to be done.

That culminated in the first email I sent to the team, which was on a Monday. I called it Creativity and Captivity Week One and I’ve sent 48 of those sent every single week. They are a mix of transparency, compassion, personal experiences, pictures of me with my kids, moments of sadness about telling my team that anxiety is okay and I’m here for you. It was a really interesting thing.

What I also did was I gathered my team together in the town hall and said to them, listen, the markets are uncertain. The future is uncertain. We are all scared, but I will give you my commitment as your CEO that there were probably 100 levers I can pull. Lever 99 is your salaries and then lever 100 is your jobs, and I’m not going to touch lever 99 or 100 until I pull all of the 98 other levers. I have a caveat and that is every single person in this organization that wants to be here, puts every single ounce of energy they’ve got into it, and they don’t get involved in anything other than looking after each other and making this company a success.

As a result, I said to them, we were moving into a phase that I framed as survive and thrive. We were going to survive by being prudent, but we weren’t going to hide in a cave. We were going to thrive by finding opportunities in the adversity that we faced, and a testament to that team, they all did that. No one lost their job—not a single person, including the guy that managed their in-house building construction and events building space. He now works in the IT team on support. We moved him over.

We went to battle against the world and did what we needed to do. We seized the opportunities of being a digital-first company. We had some tough conversations with the board. We may have suggested that it might be prudent to pull lever 99 or 100 right away. I didn’t, I told them no, and we marched forward.

We’ve come out tighter, the culture is stronger. My personal growth has been tremendous. Our place in the marketplace has increased. Then those investors came back in about June and we finished the deal.

Ben: That’s incredible. Something that you’ve brought up there that I think might sound counterintuitive—if you’re looking at it from a traditional business-minded perspective—is that not only did you avoid cutting salary and cutting staff, which I think sometimes those kinds of things are viewed as a shortcut to balancing the books. By not doing those things, you actually came out far ahead of where you would have been had you pulled those two levers first.

Simon: 100%. Not lost on me.

Ben: Right, and I hope it’s not lost on our listeners either because I think I could definitely hear someone looking at the same situation or someone being faced with the same situation with a more—I don’t know how to put it, but maybe someone who fancies themselves as more hard-headed or strong-willed in a more callous sense. Telling you you’ve just got to make the tough decision. You just got to start cutting dead weight or whatever, however, they would put it in order to keep your company afloat. But by not doing that, you not only—to use your own words—survived but you thrived.

Simon: We had the best year we’ve ever had last year, which is difficult to say out loud because I know there’s a lot of suffering in the world, but we had the best year. The team’s growth as individuals, the management’s growth. Every single manager in my organization, whether it’s an executive or a manager of a small team in the organization, is all three times as confident today as they were in March because they did it. They survived through one of the worst times in modern history, and they know that viscerally in their hearts.

As they step forward in 2021, they have a different sense of self-belief, and that’s a gift. I said to my team last week in a town hall I said, guys, if Ceros went bust tomorrow, you all have the gift of knowing that you did something tremendous—survived and thrived, came together, and built something incredible in one of the worst periods ever.

When you lay on your deathbed, the dollars won’t matter, but those moments that you experience together and the things that we did, they’re one in a lifetime. It’s very very rare. We have that gift and we should all be really grateful for it. I think that’s important. I think it’s true. It really was something special. We’re just very fortunate that it worked. What I will say in terms of what you asked is how do you find the strength to do that and how did you make that tough decision? Those folks that would say you’ve got to do the tough thing now.

The reality is that’s not the tough thing. I said it on a call with some people that suggested that’s what I should do. That’s actually the weak thing to do. The amount of courage it takes to step forward and do what we did is far, far greater than the shortcuts, costs, and hibernate because hibernation doesn’t work in business anyway. It’s much, much, much harder.

Oddly, the courage that I found as the leader—and we built as an executive and management, wherever it was relevant—actually came from transparency, vulnerability, and compassion. Sharing the I felt sad and fear allowed me to get the energy back that we kind of were in it together, which then in part allowed me to step forward and fight for what I believe made sense, and have the courage to do the difficult thing. Because without that ability to be transparent, it would have been a very difficult and very lonely thing to have done.

Ben: Something I think that we can all take away from Simon’s story is that when you’re faced with a situation with no clear answers and where traditional advice seems like it’s going to make your situation a lot worse rather than better, you have to instead rely on your own problem-solving skills rather than worrying about doing things by the book. Otherwise, you’re just following someone else and trying to follow someone else’s lead for fear of doing something wrong according to some sort of invisible rulebook that doesn’t actually exist rather than just looking at what’s in front of you and figuring out what you can do next to get around whatever roadblock is in your way.

If you can’t do that or you won’t do that and if you’re just following someone else, it might seem obvious when we put it this way, but that’s literally the opposite of leadership. Now, back to Simon.

If you had followed generic, old school, tough-minded “business advice,” you would have gone in the wrong direction. I think that’s an example of best practice, not really being best practice, and sometimes conventional wisdom not really being all that wise at all either. In your view, what’s wrong with typical leadership advice? What’s wrong with so much of the advice that we get told that just doesn’t hold up when you actually put it into practice?

Simon: I’ve got an aversion to playbooks. Don’t get me wrong, they have their place in the world and you can look at them. Specifically, at a time where there is no chapter for the current play, I can almost hear the pages of the playbook being turned on both calls where they were searching for the chapter.

I was saying, guys, stop looking. You won’t find a chapter that says how to run a company in a global pandemic with civil unrest, economic crisis, and an insane president. It’s not in the book. It’s not in there. You won’t find it so stop looking in the book, look up, and look at the landscape in front of you.

I said this on a board call to them. It’s a quote. It’s alcoholics prayer and I’m not a religious guy. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I knew that we couldn’t change that stuff, guys. I have the wisdom to know that, and courageously, I know what needs to be done. It’s just not very comfortable for you, and you don’t have certainty around it but needs to be done.

That sort of ability to reflect on it and see it through that lens is what helps you do that in those times. The metaphor I use is if a tornado is coming towards your house, there is no point standing on the deck of your house ranting at the tornado and screaming at it with your fist. It’s coming whether you scream about it, you’re scared of it, you laugh at it, it doesn’t matter. The tornado is coming. You can’t control it.

What we were experiencing in 2020 was basically a […] of things creating a tornado that we’d never seen before, all of which you can’t control. In my case, actually, the […] President, I can’t vote because I’m a Brit. I’m a green card holder, so I couldn’t even do anything there. In reality, all you can do at that time as the tornado is raging toward your house is pause for a second and go okay, just survive and thrive. I can bolt out my house, get my family in a safe place. And if I want to thrive, maybe I’ll build a wind farm and capture the energy when the tornadoes here. That’s what it takes.

A lot of people at that moment from fear, uncertainty, and anxiety, stood on the deck of the house and waved their fists in anger or sadness. It’s just a futile exercise. No grudge and there’s no winning there. What we did in Ceros was essentially bolted up the house where relevant, got families safe, and then built wind farms.

Simon: Something I’m hearing, something that you’re advocating for is really just looking at your own situation and using your own common sense and moral compass to guide you out of that situation rather than trying to look outside of yourself too much or outside of your situation to find some generic playbook, is one way to describe it, that’s going to just tell you what to do and you just check the items off a checklist and everything works out.

Simon: You also mentioned just point at the adversity and constraint and say, it’s that. I can’t, the economy. I can’t, civil unrest. I can’t, the virus. Because the reality of life is—and the minute you recognize this, it really is quite profound. The one thing in the world, the only thing in the world, that you truly control is you.

So no matter what you face and I go through this, I have since I was a young man. I still go for it to this day. There are moments in my life where I get caught up pointing at the tornado, and I have to slap myself and say, stop it. What can you do? How can you grow? Where is your opportunity here? What is the authentic thing to do? What is the courageous thing to do?

It’s so easy for people to do that to point out the adversity and constraint. Sure, you want to connect with it and have a moment. If it’s your boss, I don’t like you or you’re doing the thing, or tell your friend, my boss is oppressive. It’s a tornado. Say, you damn tornado. Then take a pause and go, what can I do? What can I do internally? How can I only get strength from this or grow from it? It’s hard because looking courageously yourself and looking for your weaknesses and what is required of you is terrifying.

Ben: Absolutely. I feel like you’ve got a lot of very hard-earned wisdom and perspective, I’m going to assume, just from having a lot of experience doing what you do and being in the type of role that you’re in.

For marketers, for creative professionals in general who are maybe either moving up the org chart or the ladder or maybe if they aspire one day to move into a leadership role, what are the things that you think that they should know that they’re not going to hear or they’re not going to learn just from trying to look for a playbook or a checklist? What’s the actual advice you think they need to hear so that they can equip themselves to be able to steer themselves out of adversity without just pointing and yelling at problems until they go away?

Simon: The first thing I would say is as you see those problems—whatever shape or form they take, or those opportunities—whatever shape or form they take, know this or at least remind yourself of this. Can you think of anything in your life ever that was significant and impactful that you were proud of that wasn’t […] hard? You can’t, can you?

Ben: No, I personally can’t.

Simon: No, you can’t. The reality is you’ve got to accept that and go, okay, if I want to change something I don’t like, a problem, or I want to seize an opportunity that I think looks great, the first thing you need to recognize is it won’t be easy, it’s going to be hard. If you can’t connect with that first, don’t bother because it’s going to be hard and then you’re going to revert to it’s the damn tornado. I think you’ve got to get your head around that and keep reminding yourself that all the way through.

Practical advice, it’s a boss that doesn’t think creatively. My business exists because I think creativity is a powerful force and it matters. I think if your boss is not able to think creatively, you need to understand that the boss isn’t going anywhere (probably), and if they are, fine.

If they’re constraining you and causing you a sense of adversity, you need to recognize that the change that you see, the problem that they’re creating for you or the opportunity that you’re after is going to be hard and that you’re going to have to take that back along yourself with them, and you’re going to use everything at your disposal to do it.

Data, logic, emotions, feelings, passion, Powerpoints, keynotes, videos, blog posts, songs, it doesn’t really matter. Whatever you have in your arsenal, obviously with the caveat of respect, but it’s going to be a hard slog and you need to pull those things together.

What I often say to people that come to me with this and I say it to my team as well. The other thing you should do is that if you look inside and you’ve lost respect for your peers, boss, or yourself, or they’ve lost respect for you and that goes on for two, three, four weeks. Actually, the courageous thing to do at that point is leave.

Oftentimes, people get stuck in organizations and unfortunately don’t necessarily have the right leadership. They get stuck in that cycle for years sometimes, when in reality—as I say to my team, I always say to them in town halls, and I’m fortunate that […] suggests 85%-90% of the people love or like Ceros, but there’s still some folks that don’t.

I always say to them, if you feel that deep in your soul and you know that you’re not happy, fundamentally this company isn’t going to change its culture or its purpose. I’m really not going anywhere as a leader until I think I’m not capable of doing the job. You need to then say, well, what can I do? What you can do at that point—having decided that you can’t win the battle, and you’ve lost your soul somewhere, and you don’t respect the company, the person, or even yourself. The courageous answer is leave and go do something that you’re passionate about and you love.

That is so difficult for people to get their head around, especially some of the younger folks because I think that hard knocks living the lifestyle that you talked about are missing a little bit, and that advice is key. I think it’s really key.

Ben: Absolutely. Approaching the same or similar question, from the perspective of someone who is already in a leadership role. How would you advise they begin freeing themselves from the leadership playbook police? I took some verbiage from the pitch that I was sent to bring you on the show, which I was really intrigued by.

If someone’s listening to this, they’re in a leadership role and they just feel like they’ve been doing things by the book and it’s not working, and I’m going to assume it’s not working. If that’s the approach they’ve taken, how do you get out of it? What’s the first step to breaking free from those constraints?

Simon: I think the first thing you should probably do is recognize that you’re reframing it. It’s a little bit like tai chi or the martial arts where you take the energy from it and turn it against it. You have to reframe it and realize that the adversity and constraint that you’re facing, that playbook isn’t working. You’re like this isn’t working.

If you reframe it and see it like a puzzle—a creative problem that needs solving—and you put down the playbook and check the chapters and make sure there’s nothing in there that works. But if you’re sure deep down and authentically it’s not working, then what you need to do is say, okay, this is a puzzle. This is a game, I’ve got to solve this. It’s okay if I fail. Failure isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually a way to learn and grow.

If you can get your head around that, then you can say, I conclude that there is no answer in the book. I know none of what I’m trying to do is really important, meaningful, that matters to me. If I fail, it’s okay. That’s a leadership thing in terms of the CEO and/or others in the organization making that acceptable.

Then what you can do is start to ask yourself why it is that you want to do this thing that you’re looking in the playbook for, design the framework to some degree, and outline the goal and the outcome. I don’t mean a metric, not a mathematical metric, really. It’s more of what are you trying to achieve? What defines success, even if it’s not […].

If you can see that, write that down, and free yourself from a prescribed solution, you allow the creative part of your brain to just start to work and say, okay, the goal here is we want to connect more emotionally with our customers and build more loyalty to our brand. I’ve looked at the playbook, it’s not working. Then you can start to go, what dots can connect that the others might not? That’s a creative process.

Actually, we’re in this industry, and in this industry, we have customers in this forum and they think in this way. They’re scared of this thing and we feel this way. What is the creative way if I break down the barriers and just open it up to anything that I can achieve and you let yourself run free? You don’t need a plan, just an idea. Write them down. Get it on a piece of paper, scribble them on a whiteboard, share it with a friend, chat about them, doodle it, whatever it might be, let it out a little bit.

If you do that, what I find happens is what starts as a doodle becomes a name, which becomes an icon or a logo, which becomes a strapline, which becomes a mission, which becomes a 5-person company, which then becomes a 60-person company, which then becomes a 250-person company, and you’ve got what I got. It started with a little sketch on a piece of paper where I wrote creativity matters 10 years ago.

So take a small action—a little micro action—and don’t stop because you don’t have a full brain, Martin Luther King said, “I have a dream,” not ‘I have a plan.’

Ben: Right. Who was the famous boxer who had the quote, “Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.”

Simon: Mike Tyson.

Ben: Yeah. A very different type of character, I suppose?

Simon: Yeah, but everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face by a global pandemic.

Ben: Yeah. No kidding. It’s all too real. Well, Simon, thanks so much for taking the time and sharing your insight on leadership. I think this has been a really refreshing conversation just for myself. I hope that our listeners agree. But before I let you go, are there any parting thoughts that you’d like to leave us with or any things that you think are particularly important that we haven’t touched on yet?

Simon: Yeah. I’d say this, actually, if you are a CEO, a C-level executive, or VP and you’re listening to this, do me this one favor. Pause today, just for a second, and ask yourself, am I being authentic in my everyday life as a leader? What do I know that I’m doing that’s broken or wrong but I’m too scared to say?

If you can identify that second thing, do something about it, because those that you lead will thank you for it, and ultimately, you will be happier as an individual for doing it.

The post How to Throw Out the Leadership Playbook and Succeed During a Crisis With Simon Berg From Ceros [AMP 224] appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

Content

How to Create a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign Using…

For most Convince & Convert readers, it is almost common knowledge that webinars are an invaluable content marketing product designed to bring in high-quality leads for your sales team. However, there’s a certain mystique surrounding webinars: should they be high-end in terms of production value to convey equivalence in professionalism to the product itself? Should they be low-fi recordings with off-the-cuff experts to provide a behind-the-scenes look on how to truly win with the product? Should they be pre-recorded and scripted? Should they be a question-and-answer free-for-all?

How should a company go about creating an effective webinar?

Like all mediums, webinars are complex, and the right answer depends heavily on the product and team using them. For initial setup, the following guide on how to create a webinar is instructive in determining a rough format. Once the rough format is decided on, a company can decide on how to ensure the webinar is effective by touching on the relevant psychological triggers necessary to induce the end purchase.

However, there are some gaps in the overall setup process, which this article hopes to augment. Namely, a company needs to be cognizant of who is being targeted and how best to influence those people. Then, how to make sure they are aware of the campaign in the first place.

Stay on target

When it comes to psychological triggers of purchase, you first need to have a much deeper understanding of who exactly you’re trying to influence. Take into account the various culture, social, personal, and psychological factors that might come into the purchasing decision, but also the decision to click the initial registration button and to show up. 

Without delving too deep into this piece of the puzzle, consider where your target audience is located.

  • Are they going to be available to join your webinar when it’s scheduled? If the product being sold is designed for their job, normal work hours make sense. If it is a side hustle, consider kicking it off after 5pm or so.
  • Are there language considerations? If the target audience is of a radically different socioeconomic status, consider the platform and minimum technical requirements for the webinar to make it as frictionless as possible.
  • What’s the age range of the audience? Is the product geared towards an older audience? Younger? Hip, casual, conservative, professional?
  • Why is the audience joining you? Is it to learn? Is it out of motivation to succeed, or even fear? 

Once the various sociological and psychological profiling is complete to the point of having a more solid grasp of exactly who the target market is, a company can devote resources to find the ideal influencers to make it a success. 

Enter influencers

To dispel the obvious myths, influencers are not just about Kim K and her sisters hawking the latest facial cream on Instagram. While that is still an absurdly successful use case, every marketing medium and product combination can benefit from the right influencers. It’s just a matter of choosing the right influencer type for the campaign.

This is the influencer type usefulness matrix

The influencer type usefulness matrix from Intellifluence

Influencers can generally be bucketed into three main categories:

  1. Aspirational. For ease of definition, aspirational can be thought of as the Kim K celebrity example above.
  2. Authoritative. These influencers are key for webinars. Authoritative influencers are the trusted subject matter experts, even in a narrowly defined field.
  3. Peer. Peer influencers would be akin to your colleagues and industry peers, from the B2B perspective.

Why do we care so much about authoritative influencers for your webinar campaign? 

Using the usefulness matrix above, we can determine what influence type is best suited for the sociological and psychological profiling work performed earlier on the target audience.

Reach matters. of course, but given the educational nature of webinars, the ability to inform in a trusted and relevant manner that is geared towards commerce is the winning combination. Peer influencers also rate quite highly, which we can layer on in a later step.

For example, Jay Baer hosts webinars for Convince & Convert’s client, SharpSpring. Jay is an authoritative influencer in marketing and marketing technology, and also helps drive registrations for the virtual events through email, social and word of mouth marketing.

Influencer Example SharpSpring

Jay Baer presenting a webinar for SharpSpring

Jay is an authoritative influencer who hosts and presents webinars for clients.

Jay also brings together additional authoritative influencers like Shama Hyder.

How to use authoritative influencers on your webinar

Pay them!

The article could have been as short as that previous sentence and still would not have been a waste of a company’s time. If a company can pay a renowned expert in its field to host a webinar on how they have had success using YOUR product, you’ll make sales.

If you can’t get authorities, you can incentivize some walkthroughs from existing customers to prospective customers, aggregating the peer signal.

Host, co-host, or syndicate?

In the short example above, the recommendation is to pay the expert to host a webinar for his audience and followers regarding how to use your product as the expert sees fit, co-hosted with you for co-citation proximity (this is the leeching authority trick).

As a follow-up step, syndicate the webinar out to your prospective audience via email with the ability to participate in a follow up company-hosted webinar series where your sales staff interact in more of a Q&A nature. Since trust has already been established with tacit expert approval, the subsequent webinars can move deeper into the sales channel.

Bring on the wolf pack

In the penultimate stage of the process, the goal is to result in multiple prospective customer touches and funnel starts.

Use an on-going webinar series to keep people in the funnel

One simple way to do this is by recording an ongoing webinar series for those prospective customers, using your top product users as the weekly/monthly/quarterly experts. This series is recorded and then syndicated through the following authoritative channels: YouTube and blogs. As these peer-level users are already in love with your product, you can comp their usage of it as compensation in many cases. Famed influence professor Cialdini would refer to this as unity: the desire to remain in the wolf pack.

Encourage peer influencers to promote your webinar

This can be as simple as pushing for peer influencers to share the webinar signup details over Twitter and Facebook, utilizing a series of relevant hashtags and a brief personal story of why they’ll be attending the webinar. Make this easy for them by providing standard promotional copy in a Google Doc.

Drive registrations with email

Another overlooked influencer syndication method is e-mail. Convince & Convert is great at email marketing with Jay’s personal updates that seamlessly interweave a narrative with a branded goal. When a relevant email influencer is used to connect their audience with your upcoming webinar, wonderful things can happen, which is why companies like Intellifluence are willing to throw money at such influencers. They can drive amazing signups!

Get some press

Finally, to tie the entire webinar campaign neatly with an influencer bow, consider running a targeted press relations campaign to extend your perceived authority on the subject and garner some additional eyeballs to your work. The goal of this step is not to submit a generic PR Newswire report and hope for the best. For the best results, target the journalists that have actively written on your industry and/or on webinar marketing in the past. You are now doing something amazing, which their audience could benefit from knowing about.

Become the expert

If you’re just starting out in your content marketing journey and this entire process seems daunting, don’t despair. You can become that authority yourself by taking the initial step and writing on the B2B subject matters you know about. In due time, you’ll be the expert being paid to share your thoughts on a webinar.

The post How to Create a Successful Influencer Marketing Campaign Using Webinars appeared first on Content Marketing Consulting and Social Media Strategy.

Content

Marketing Lessons: What Every Smart Marketer Needs to Know

Are you a budding marketer? Then you are probably already familiar with the basics of marketing. However, as a digital marketer, you need to constantly learn and build upon your existing knowledge base to generate great results.

While some marketing lessons are best learned from trial and error, we can learn a few of them from others’ experiences.

Learn from the experiences of seasoned marketers and leading brands, which are known for their flawless marketing campaigns. Keeping these lessons in mind can help you shine.

Following the promotion of our helpful guide to learning marketing skills, I have six marketing lessons to show you that I’ve learned over time. I wish I had learned them earlier.

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Lesson #1: People Don’t Buy Products; They Buy Stories and Benefits

People don’t care about how great your product or its features are; they only care about themselves.

Therefore, the best product marketing strategy is to not focus on the product but on how it will benefit the target consumers.

You should focus on showcasing how your product will:

  • Make their life easier
  • Make them a better person
  • Help them grow
  • Make them happier

The marketing lesson to learn here is simple: You should write your marketing copy for the ideal buyers, not for product promotions. If needed, hire talented copywriters who can create copy that your target consumers can engage and resonate with.

A Good Example:

When Apple launched the iPod, people were already using MP3 players.

What helped Apple reach and occupy the target market?

While a lot of features were different, a key aspect was how Apple marketed the iPod.

Ad example from Apple

Telling your ideal buyers what they can do with your product works well for most businesses across industries.

Other than benefits, what entices consumers are emotional stories. You should tell a story to your ideal buyers. You could promise to make them happy, healthy, wealthy, or beautiful if they buy your product.

The famous shoe company, TOMS, says: “We’re in business to improve lives.”

This message is loud and clear and is not limited to their tagline. They also associate similar messaging in their marketing copy.

With their “One for One” slogan, they pledge to help one person in need for every purchase a customer makes, and they also share annual impact reports to showcase how your purchases are helping the world.

Ad from TOMS
TOMS’ Impact Report Highlights

What story does this tell consumers?

It tells them that buying a pair of shoes from TOMS makes you generous and kind.

Lesson #2: Understanding the Purpose

Often, marketers only focus on the campaign at hand, the new product to launch, or the month’s sales target to meet. Have you ever thought about where each of your campaigns is taking your brand?

We can all benefit from understanding the bigger picture, especially the marketing teams.

Questions to ask about your brand

By communicating the big picture, you can ensure that everyone’s on the same page and working towards the main goal. Doing so often helps teams work better together to meet marketing objectives.

The marketing lesson here is quite clear — you can plan and run high-converting campaigns when everyone on your team understands the purpose behind it.

Every marketing step should be aligned with your long-term business goals.

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Lesson #3: Freebies Are Always in Trend

Giving away freebies scares many marketers because the main goal is to sell products and make profits — not to offer freebies.

Ironically, offering freebies can do more good than harm.

People love free products and services. If you offer them something free, they are more likely to share your product with their friends, family members, and social circles. Hosting a giveaway is a perfect method to raise awareness about your brand or a new product line. It can significantly improve sales and positively impact your brand building activities.

The marketing lesson here is that you should plan to offer freebies once in a while and let consumers do all the marketing for you.

However, it’s important to:

  • Fix a budget for annual giveaways.
  • Price your products accordingly to ensure you can always make greater profits than your investments.
  • Limit giveaway campaigns for 24 hours, so you can keep a tab on the number of free products you’ll be offering.
  • Associate a set of rules with your giveaway campaigns to maximize returns in terms of branding and recognition.
  • Encourage people to use a branded hashtag to enjoy more benefits in the long run.

Lesson #4: Listen to Data and Pivot When Necessary

This is one lesson that I’ve learned the hard way: to track, analyze, and optimize campaigns on the go, using data.

As digital marketers, we often plan, analyze, and make assumptions about how our campaigns should turn out to be. While setting up a direction for your campaigns with milestones is important, you can’t be a stubborn marketer.

One marketing lesson that I’ve learned over time is that you can’t predict how consumers will respond to your campaign or what will convince them to take action.

You can only find out how people respond after you launch your campaign.

If things go against your initial assumptions, it’s okay to:

  • Change the path midway.
  • Optimize your campaigns based on real-time data.
  • Stop putting more money into strategies that don’t give enough results.

To be a successful marketer, you need to track results, understand data, and leverage valuable insights to plan your next move.

Thanks to AI technology, various analytics tools, and A/B testing, everything in today’s digital world is trackable. You just need to use it the right way.

Lesson #5: Brand Value Matters

Regardless of the industry and business you’re in, brand value matters.

There’s no denying that the product or service you’re offering should be good and provide actual value. At the same time, the value of your brand plays an important role in driving sales.

If consumers have never heard of your brand, they don’t have any reason to trust you, and they will not buy from you — no matter how good your product is.

Every marketer will agree that investing in brand building activities is an absolute necessity.

How brand building helps

Similarly, you should also build a personal brand for yourself that highlights your skills, achievements, and capabilities. You can either build a portfolio website or an impressive Instagram account to showcase how you can help brands. Doing so can add credibility to your profile and help you attract high-value work opportunities.

Lesson #6: Creating Compelling Content

Big businesses create a lot of content, but it’s always the quality over quantity when it comes to content marketing.

If you want to make it big as a digital marketer, you will have to learn how to create compelling content. Whether you’re writing a promotional email or Facebook ad copy, the words you choose will play a crucial part in your campaign success.

Take notes from a brand, like Zomato. They never fail to make people stop scrolling and engage with their fun, yet relatable, posts. You can see a few examples below.

Zomato Instagram ad
Instagram

What should you do to solidify your content creation skills as a marketer?

  • Understand who you are writing for.
  • Take up copywriting courses.
  • Learn persuasion techniques.
  • Identify and use power words.
  • Follow brands and people who are experts in creating engaging content.
  • Hire a copywriter to empower your marketing campaigns with better copy.

You can also become a renowned marketer, such as Gary Vaynerchuk, by publishing great content that can help people and brands grow.

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A Few More Marketing Life Lessons

Some lessons that I learned as a marketer have also helped me grow into a better person.

Let’s take a look at these life-changing marketing lessons:

  • You can’t do it all on your own and trying will only break you down. You should learn to delegate tasks and do it often. You’ll have to realize the importance of delegating at some point, so why not learn from others’ mistakes?
  • Don’t compromise ethics, even if it hurts. Sometimes, short-term benefits can compel you to go the wrong way but, trust me, there is no shortcut to success. Being ethical and honest will help you go farther and climb the endless ladder of success.
  • The key to success lies in following your passion. You need to be passionate about what you are doing to make a living. If you’re not driven by true passion, you will not be able to do it effectively or long-term.
  • Never put all your eggs in one basket. While this advice is commonly given to amateur investors, it is applicable to different folks of life — including marketing.

As a marketer, you can’t rely on a single marketing strategy, an individual influencer, or a specific type of content. If you want to succeed, you should strategize, experiment, measure results, and invest more in the strategies that drive the best results.

  • The foundation of growth is excellence. Marketing can help you get an initial boost, but your brand will grow only if you offer premium-quality products and services. You should focus on offering value to your customers.

Key Takeaways From These Marketing Lessons

There are a plethora of lessons to learn as a marketer, and it’s always better to learn from the mistakes and experiences of others instead of making costly mistakes on your own.

I hope that the marketing lessons I’ve covered in this post will help you rethink and analyze what to do and what not to do. Keeping these marketing lessons in mind can help increase your chances of conversions and, thereby, help you grow businesses.

What marketing lessons have you learned that you’ve spent working on in the business world?

The post Marketing Lessons: What Every Smart Marketer Needs to Know appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

Content

7 Sales Funnel Examples to Inspire Your Own

Sales funnels are still not as common as we would like them to be. Companies push products and services down their customers’ throats with their fingers crossed behind their back — hoping a hard sell is going to do the trick.

This is a bad move — especially since customers are smarter than ever. It takes 8 cold call attempts to reach a prospect, but the unfortunate truth is 44% of all salespeople give up on trying to make a sale after only one rejection.

This brings me back to the value of sales funnels; a customer needs to build a relationship with your brand before they part with their hard-earned money. A sales funnel is a step-by-step process to help you build that relationship.

Odds are, you already know what a sales funnel is, but for the sake of those who might not, here is a simplified definition:

A sales funnel (a.k.a. “purchase funnel”) is the journey that is laid out for potential customers by the company, in advance. It ends at the final goal, which is the customer purchasing a service or good of some kind.

More information about the sales funnel to follow.

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Before you dive head-first into all you need to know about a handful of sales funnel examples, we want to give you the opportunity to download your very own marketing funnel content mapping template.

With this handy-dandy template, you will be able to easily craft ideas and content for your own marketing funnel and keep track of the expectations and examples within your business.

Download now!

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The Sales Funnel

The sales funnel will normally have four to five steps — depending on how you see it — which are outlined below.

Sales funnel steps from Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur

Awareness

The potential customer makes initial contact with your company and is introduced to your brand for the first time. This will normally be the fruit of the labor from your marketing activities, which will include things, like creating blog posts, podcast episodes, and hosting webinars.

You have now generated a new lead.

Interest

The second step is all about lead nurturing. You are discovering the potential needs of your newly acquired leads and engaging with them for the first time. You will normally do this through opt-in forms followed by email marketing.

The right email drip campaign will allow you to guide your lead down the purchase journey using automation.

Decision/Offer a Solution

Now that you have established a relationship with your lead, you need to let them know you could potentially have a solution to their problem. For example, you could offer them a trial signup or a free tool.

Close the Sale

Once your lead has tried out your service through a trial, demo, or free version, it’s time to close the sale. You could sweeten the deal by offering them a time-sensitive discount or bonus with each purchase — allowing the lead to save money as part of a one time offer (OTO).

Follow Up

If you have more than one service or good to sell, your old customers are your best customers, which is why you need to continue to reach out to them when it’s relevant and further build your relationship.

Sales funnel breakdown

Now that we know what your sales funnel should look like, let’s talk about something most guides — that pledge to give you everything you need to create a sales funnel — don’t talk about.

While having an outline can be helpful, a good sales funnel example could be what inspires your own sales funnel creation. Here are seven sales funnel examples you should take a look at:

1. ConvertKit

ConvertKit homepageType of sales funnel: Partnership webinars funnel

ConvertKit, an email marketing software for bloggers, is a great example of how webinars can help even the smallest of businesses grow.

The company was generating $98k in sales every month before Nathan Berry decided to put all of his time and efforts into growing ConvertKit. The company had only grown because of word-of-mouth efforts from past or present customers. This was not enough, which is why Nathan decided to go all-in on hosting webinars in partnership with ConvertKit affiliates.

After hosting over 150 webinars in under a year, ConvertKit grew from making between $70k to $80k per month to earning well over $600k every single month in revenue.

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What Does This Sales Funnel Look Like?

Let’s dive a little deeper into what this sales funnel looks like.

ConvertKit used their present pool of customers — that were mostly bloggers — to reach more people within the industry itself. They did this by maintaining a wide-open affiliate program that anyone can join, and then hosting webinars with pretty much any affiliate of theirs that was up for it.

Pat Flynn's email list transition
Lead Feeder

This meant that Nathan was mostly hosting webinars with bloggers that had an audience full of fellow bloggers — the ideal audience for his product. Each webinar was packed with information that could be used to create a great email marketing campaign. Instead of pushing his product on to people who were watching the webinar, he did his best to actually help them.

At the end of the webinar, the viewing audience was left with so many great ideas that signing up for the ConvertKit trial was just a good way to try out those new ideas. The webinar content was helpful without being pushy, which is what helped increase conversions.

He would even give away free courses, t-shirts, and freebies to people who attended his webinars. In the oversaturated world of webinars, this was a breath of fresh air.

You were walking away from the webinar with hundreds of dollars worth of free stuff and the ability to try out ConvertKit’s software for free — no questions asked. That being said, anyone’s first experience with the brand was great. They were generous to a fault, and even if the lead did not pay for the software, they had entered their sales funnel.

ConvertKit offer to try software for free sales funnel

Who Should Use This Funnel?

Big companies can afford to spend thousands to find the right influencers to promote their products. On the other hand, for smaller startups, this might not be a financially viable plan.

This is why startups with limited budgets but loads of time could benefit from this sales funnel. Even if you only have 50 affiliates to partner with, they could lead to 50 more. You don’t need to invest in anything other than a webinar tool and some email marketing software.

Unique Aspects of the Funnel

This funnel works well if you have a very narrow target audience. In the case of ConvertKit, that audience was bloggers. This definitely contributes to the success of their funnel, since they were able to target their freebies at the right audience and position themselves as being the right guy for every blogger.

Instead of trying to be a big fish in a big pond, they satisfied themselves with a smaller pond, and it paid off. They were bloggers who had created an email marketing software for blogging, which was then being targeted towards bloggers. Niching down will do you good, if you choose to go this route.

2. Russel Brunson

Most sales funnels will offer a free trial — or maybe even a discounted price — but for big-ticket items that go into the thousands of dollars, companies need to do better than that. This is especially true when you want more than just the customer’s email address (i.e. traditional opt-in form).

Russel Brunson offers a completely free book to customers who are willing to simply type in their name and address. You will have to pay for shipping, but the actual product is 100% free. A lot of leads are often left wondering if this is too good to be true, but if you are in the world of marketing and sales funnels, you’d have already guessed that every penny spent on the free book is made up for down the line.

Russel Brunson sales funnel

What Does This Sales Funnel Look Like?

The customer initially learns about Russel Brunson through social media, paid ads, or blog posts. They are then moved down the sales pipeline towards the landing page that offers the free book in exchange for their information (i.e. address and email).

This is the first domino to fall in a chain of events that will follow. The customer will then be offered a one-time offer for one of Brunson’s products straight after they place the order for the book. This could be a time-sensitive discount or a bonus item with each purchased service.

In short, Russel is willing to put his money where his mouth is when it comes to his sales funnels, and it pays off. If he spends $15–20 sending that free book to each lead, he has a long list of leads that could potentially buy much more costly items from him down the road.

Even if a lead was to only buy a $37 book from him, Russel would still be making a $17 profit from that lead.

Who Should Use This Funnel?

This funnel is ideal for companies that need to sell multiple items with a lot of big-ticket items that will follow. While $20 may be a lot of money down the drain for someone with only one product to pitch, it is well worth it for a company that wants to upsell multiple products to each lead.

If a smaller company that wants to offer a freebie via an opt-in form, it would make more sense to offer something digital, such as an eBook or free course. LFA Capsule Fillers does this, so they can ask for more information about the lead before putting them into a sales funnel.

LFA Capsule Fillers free ebook offer sales funnel

The free eBook — offered to anyone willing to to be added to their newsletter — asks leads what sort of business they identify as (e.g. individual, small business, university, etc.).

This will then help the company put them into a sales funnel that is most appropriate for their type of business. Even if you have a smaller budget to work with, a free eBook could also be a great way to generate leads and learn more about your potential customers.

What Exactly Are Upsells?

Russel’s sales funnel works because he has a lot of upsells that will follow the initial free book. An upsell is a product that is a higher value item than what the customer has purchased previously or is thinking of purchasing.

This is similar to what the brand, ProFlowers, does when a customer is going through the checkout process. Once you select the bouquet of flowers you want, the website will immediately suggest an upgrade to a bigger bouquet.

ProFlowers cross-selling sales funnel

Once you are done selecting the size, ProFlowers will also try to sell cross-sells to customers. These include greeting cards and teddy bears.

Cross-selling is when companies try to sell related products to the customer before they checkout. Physical stores and restaurants, like McDonald’s, do this as well — when they suggest buying fries with your hamburger.

ProFlowers online checkout

This selling technique is true to far more expensive items as well, such as Tesla cars. The company offers customers the option to customize their car with additional features in the interior and exterior, adding the autopilot feature, and more during the checkout process.

Tesla online checkout

3. CoSchedule

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

The CoSchedule sales funnel uses a free tool (Headline Analyzer) to bring in people who might be interested in their premium Headline Studio. This is a great way of getting people interested in their product.

The free tool is available with no deadline and with no strings attached, which is what makes it even better.

[Tweet “CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is available with no deadline and with no strings attached.”]

What Does This Sales Funnel Look Like?

A very common sales funnel is the offering of a free trial month, but CoSchedule takes it up a notch by offering a completely free tool instead. The Headline Analyzer allows people to test out their headlines, and then work on them based on suggestions that the tool delivers.

This free tool is very closely related to the Headline Studio from CoSchedule, which is simply a more premium version of the product. The Headline Studio allows you to analyze headlines with premium features that are not available with the standard headline analyzer.

Every blogger knows how important it is to have a great headline that goes alongside each blog post, which is why the upgrade is well worth it for a lot of people.

Who Should Use This Funnel?

This funnel works well for services that need to be test run for months on end before making the final leap (i.e. spending money on the service). CoSchedule knows that headline analyzers are available online by the dozen, which is why they have their free tool to show everyone exactly what they can offer.

Once someone is happy with the services they are receiving, they can choose to upgrade to the premium version of the product. This could be compared to Amazon as well; Amazon lets you use their platform for free, but a premium account gives users the benefit of free shipping — among other features.

Amazon Prime free trial sales funnel

It might not be a tempting purchase to someone who has never used Amazon, but for someone who has, it’s well worth the money.

4. Mailshake

The Mailshake sales funnel allows customers to book a free demo of the product before they invest a minimum of $60 per month on the item. This allows the company to give potential customers the demo they need without having to offer free trials.

Booking a demo with Mailshake for their sales funnel

What Does This Sales Funnel Look Like?

Once the potential customer learns about Mailshake — this could be through affiliates, blog posts, webinars, etc. — they will then visit the Mailshake landing page and book a demo.

After they select the “Book a Demo” button, Mailshake will prompt the lead to select a date and time (within their time zone) to book a 30-minute demo session.

Setting Mailshake demo date and time

Once the session is finalized, Mailshake will send you a confirmation email along with multiple reminders down the road. The demo will then take place, which will include a member of the Mailshake team giving you and anyone else who has booked into that time slot a quick run-through of how the software works and how it can help you.

The session will allow leads to get any potential queries they have resolved.

Mailshake - entering personal/company info for signup

Who Should Use This Funnel?

This sales funnel can work well for expensive services that are normally targeted towards companies. They might not want to offer a trial for a couple of reasons: either they do not think it’s worth the time and resources, or they feel that the company would not be able to make up their mind — even after using the service for a trial period.

This is true in the case of outreach software, since there are multiple options on the market and each service has multiple features that are best displayed through a demo.

This sales funnel also works for expensive services that are very personalized. A good example would be legal services. This is why you will often see law firms offer consultations rather than free services.

Roman & Gaynor are a good example of this in action. These lawyers offer a consultation to anyone interested in their services. Potential customers who visit their website can easily fill out a quick form that will help them book a consultation.

Roman & Gaynor offering free consultations as their sales funnel

Lawyers sell their services for thousands, which is why offering anything for free online does not make much sense. However, a consultation is a great way of building a relationship with the client with minimal investment of resources.

The Allen Law firm even offers a free live chat that allows you to ask questions to a real person for free.

Free live chat with Allen Law Firm

The point of these consultations, demos, and live chats is to give customers the ability to build a relationship with the company without having to part with their money. When it comes to spending big amounts, people want to be sure they trust where the money is going. A free consultation or a quick demo could be what convinces them.

[Tweet “A free consultation or a quick demo could be what convinces people to trust where their money is going.”]

5. Hulu

Hulu free trial sales funnel

The Hulu sales funnel is all about the classic free trial. The online streaming service gives new customers a month to test run their services, after which they will be automatically debited for the months that follow — unless they cancel their subscription.

What Does This Sales Funnel Look Like?

Most Hulu customers discover the brand through social media, paid ads, or blog posts. Once a customer enters the first step of the sales funnel (awareness), they are directed to the Hulu landing page, which includes a CTA that very clearly offers a month free.

The free services allow customers to watch various TV shows, movies, and Hulu Originals on up to two devices at a time. However, unlike companies, like Netflix, that have the traditional “one month free trial”, Hulu has done things a bit differently.

The length of your trial depends on the service you go for — the more expensive the service, the shorter the trial.

Choosing your plan on Hulu sales funnel

The basic Hulu packages allow users a one month trial, while the “Hulu + Live TV” package that allows users to access over 65 different live channels only offers a week free.

This is a pretty great way of allowing users to try out every service without wasting too many resources on trials.

The Beaconstac QR code generator has also seen great results following a similar strategy. The tool lets you create multiple QR codes for free during the 14-day trial. After this, you can choose to go for the premium paid model.

QR Code Generator 14-day free trial sales funnel

Who Should Use This Funnel?

This sales funnel works best for subscription models that can afford to give every user a one-month long trial. After the trial, if a customer decides to stick with the service, Hulu receives a constant stream of passive income every month.

6. Kurzgesagt — In a Nutshell

Kurzgesagt YouTube pageKurzgesagt is an extremely famous infographic show on YouTube that delves into topics, like the earth getting kicked out of the solar system and alien life among plenty of other topics. Their videos reach millions of people every single day, and the most noticeable element of each upload is the amazing graphics that help each piece of information come alive.

At first glance, you would think Kurzgesagt is nothing more than a successful YouTube channel, but you would be surprised to know it is also a digital marketing agency. The agency offers multiple graphic design services, such as explanatory videos and illustrations.

Learning about the Kurzgesagt agency

Their clients include some pretty big companies, such as Microsoft and Lyft, and a lot of those clients discovered Kurzgesagt through their YouTube channel.

Kurzgesagt clients

What Does This Sales Funnel Look Like?

People who watch Kurzgesagt’s videos on YouTube get a kind of live demo of their services. If they are impressed with what they see, they can get in contact with them through their website and hire them.

Who Should Use This Funnel?

This sales funnel can work for anyone in the creative space. A singer, dancer, graphic designer, producer, advertising agency, photographer, etc. — they are all people/companies that could benefit from putting themselves out there.

Showcasing what they are capable of doing can best be done through social media, and this is exactly what Kurzgesagt has managed to do.

7. Mixergy

Mixergy and learning from other entrepreneursMixergy sells online courses and interviews from famous entrepreneurs that have amassed large followings. The funnel starts with a free video interview that you can receive by giving them your email address.

You will then receive a link to the interview in your inbox. Once Mixergy has your email address and you become a lead, they will then move on to the lead nurturing process where they try and get leads to sign up for their premium version.

Sales funnel sign up for Mixergy Premium

What Does This Sales Funnel Look Like?

Once the customer finds Mixergy through social media, referrals, or paid traffic, they will click on their CTA to get the free video interview. This will lead them to the landing page, which will include an opt-in form.

Once the lead has opted-in to the email list, Mixergy nurtures the relationship with the lead and tries to move them over to the monthly subscription plan.

Who Should Use This Funnel?

This type of funnel would work well for companies that are offering membership-only zones or content. Once you sign in to your Mixergy account, you will find multiple videos that are only accessible to members.

Wrapping It Up

As Brian Tracy, a motivational public speaker, said, “A good sales funnel will always use the same foundation — approaching each customer with the idea of helping him or her solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.”

The post 7 Sales Funnel Examples to Inspire Your Own appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

Actionable Marketing Podcast

Keeping Garbage Out of Your Data So You Can…

Data problems are probably lurking somewhere inside of your marketing stack. Don’t freak out, just yet. Most analytics packages and marketing software services that deal with data have some gaps or inaccuracies.

Today’s guest is Dan McGaw, CEO and founder of McGaw.io, a marketing technology and marketing analytics consulting company. Dan talks about how to make better marketing decisions—identify and fix deeper issues to avoid data disasters. He explains everything you need to know to keep your data clean and metrics moving.

[podcast_motor_player]

Some of the highlights of the show include:

  • Why is data cleanliness important? Analytics + Bad Data = Bad Decisions
  • Directional: Data is not meant to be perfect, the goal is to grow and take action
  • Data Spectrums: Everybody has unreliable data—how bad is it?
  • Marketing Stacks: Different problems stem from data issues
  • Taxonomy: Common problem is not having consistent or connecting names
  • Be Intentional: Set up and configure marketing tech, or set yourself up for failure
  • Audit: You know there’s a problem, but you don’t know what it is, where to begin
  • Solution: Plan and be more proactive by understanding how data flows in
  • Best Practices: Urchin tracking parameters (UTM) are culprits of bad data
  • How to Build Cool Sh*t: Take it slow, take your time, don’t try to rush projects

If you liked today’s show, please subscribe on iTunes to The Actionable Content Marketing Podcast! The podcast is also available on SoundCloud, Stitcher, and Google Play.

[Tweet “Keeping garbage out of your data, so you can make better marketing decisions, with @Danielmcgaw from @McGawio.”]

Transcript:

Ben: Hey Dan, how’s it going this afternoon?

Dan: I’m doing good. Thanks so much for having me.

Ben: Absolutely. You might be doing a little bit better than I am right now with your 73 degrees down there in Orlando.

Dan: That’s cold for me. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I know it’s colder where you are right now, but I’m going to wear a jacket when I go outside later.

Ben: I too am going to be wearing a jacket. It might be a little bit heavier, but it is a jacket nonetheless. Before we get too sidetracked, would you mind taking a moment to introduce yourself to our listeners and explain what you do at McGaw.io?

Dan: I’m Dan McGaw, the CEO, founder of a company called McGaw.io. I’ve been in the marketing technology space for over 20 years. I got my start in 1998, sending mass emails before there was mass email. I just like to round that up and say I’ve seen some […]. Some people recognize me from when I was the head of marketing at Kissmetrics. I helped lead that rocket ship to do some really cool stuff. Before that, I was the head of growth at another company called codeschool.com which I helped get acquired at Pluralsight. I’ve just been around when it comes down to startups and I’ve seen all kinds of different things.

At McGaw.io, they were a marketing technology and marketing analytics consulting company. What does that mean? Naturally, we help companies get visibility into their customer journey or we help them optimize their customer journey for conversions. But we do that by leveraging marketing technology. We’re usually integrating tools, operating tools, accelerating growth, using them, and our backbone has always been analytics. I accidentally started this company when I left Kissmetrics. As you might understand, when I left Kissmetrics, I had a big portfolio of friends who needed analytics help. Naturally, our backbone has just always been analytics here.

Ben: Very cool. Your expertise ties in really well into the topic of this episode, which is data cleanliness, data trustworthiness, just broadly talking about how to keep your data clean and trustworthy so that you can actually make good decisions based on your data. At a high level, in your view, why is data cleanliness important right off the bat and why is that something that marketers should concern themselves with?

Dan: A really good question. You have to understand that if you have analytics and your analytics have bad data, that means your analytics are wrong, which means that you’re naturally going to be making bad decisions. I’m working with a company right now where they have really bad marketing attribution and they know it. They basically have stopped all their marketing spend. We’re not talking about some small 4-figure spend, we’re talking 5-6-figure spends. They’ve pulled it all down because they don’t want to lose any more money because they have bad data. It can have a massive impact on your business.

Even in my own profession, in my own career, I’ve been at companies where we had bad data and then we made a good decision. We’ve come to find out that a good decision was made on bad data. It was a great decision for the data that we had, but after we found out that it was bad data, the outcome was crap. You really do have to make sure that you have good data. I don’t think it has to be perfect. Data is not meant to be perfect. The internet is not perfect. If you thought about any place that is messed up, it’s the internet. That means that your data is not going to be perfect, but if you can at least get directional, you’re going to be in a much better spot. If you continue to clean the data, it’s going to help make sure you don’t make more mistakes.

Ben: One word that you dropped there that I’d like to expand on a little bit is directional. I know what you’re getting at there. I know that internally, even for us at CoSchedule, a lot of times we will look at data or at metrics in general and we’ll just treat that as a weather vane that gives us an idea of which way the wind is blowing rather than getting too hung up on getting a real super granular read on how things are doing. Is that what you mean when you use that term, or did you mean something else by that?

Dan: I definitely mean that. You need to know which way the wind is blowing is for sure. But there are definitely areas where the data can’t be perfect. A common one is going to be multi-touch attribution or marketing attribution. In multi-touch attribution, there’s no way for the data to be perfect. The goal is to be directional and tell you how to do that. There are definitely certain areas where you have to be directional, but at the same time, personally, from my perspective, the companies that are typically growing the fastest are the ones who are less focused on definitive and more focused on how do we get directional data that’s going to tell us which way is growth, and let’s start moving, and let’s take action.

Ben: Sure. I love that emphasis on action there. Hence, the Actionable Marketing Podcast. We are all about action here.

Speaking of the inability for these things to be exact, but in your estimation, how common do you think these kinds of problems are? How widespread do you think issues are related to marketers just having unreliable data.

Dan: I would definitely say everybody has an unreliable data situation somewhere, every company. We’re an analytics consulting firm and I can promise you this, we have unreliable data in one of our tools about something. I would definitely say that we have things that are not tracked, which probably should. We have things that are tracked wrong that should or shouldn’t be. Everybody has unreliable data somewhere.

One thing to be very conscious of is that when you think about data, you not only have data that you used for analytics, but then you also have data about the people, of them doing stuff, and those are two different spectrums of data. When you think about it like an analytics setup, we’re sending events and properties with that stuff that goes into an analytics tool and that can be stored incorrectly.

At the same time, when you have things that go into your marketing automation tool, it’s a totally different type of data. Those are identifying calls or trait calls, whatever they want to be, and those are saved in different ways. One is used for reporting. The other one is used for personalization or automated messaging. In either case, companies have problems on both sides of that spectrum and everybody has it. It’s just how bad of a problem it is. How architected is it? How complex is the problem? That’s one of the reasons why four years ago when I was looking at our agency, what are we going to do when we grow up? What is the thing that not everybody else does?

Obviously, the first thing that came to my mind not to do was PPC, or SEO, or any of the things that there were a million other people for. We looked at what was the area in marketing that is hard and that was the marketing technology stack. That was the problem that we set out to solve because the data reliability issue is both on the analytics side but also both on the marketing automation side. But if you’re an analytics specialty shop, you can’t fix the stack. If you’re an automation shop, you can’t fix the stack. We chose to be right there in the middle. It worked out well. It’s been a lot of fun because we see a lot of data issues. It’s been a lot of fun.

Ben: I will say that it’s definitely an area, not that I’ve looked particularly hard but it does seem like an area that’s underserved. In general, just agencies like your own that are focused on those types of issues which is interesting given that this is a problem literally all of us as marketers have somewhere. I think that’s super interesting.

From your perspective, as you had said, you’ve been in space for a long time. You’ve looked at a lot of data. You’ve looked at a lot of marketing technology stacks. You’ve worked with lots of different clients and different companies. I’m sure you’ve seen all manner of different problems that all stem from data issues in one form or another. What are some of the most common problems that you’ve seen that marketers face when they fail to properly manage their data?

Dan: The biggest problem that we tend to see is that people just start running without ever putting their shoes on kind of situation. In data, whether that be analytics, or the stack, or marketing automation, the first thing you have to focus on is your taxonomy, and what is your nomenclature. What are you going to call things? The most common thing that we see is the taxonomy is messed up. At companies you’ll see, to the marketing team, it’s called a sign-up, to the development team, it’s called user-created, and to the customer success team, it’s called a registration.

Getting your taxonomy in order is by far the number one issue that we see. Simple things like capitalization, of course, is the stuff that breaks all kinds of different tools and getting that—as we would call it the stack taxonomy—synonymous throughout all of the products. A common thing that people forget about is that all of these tools should be connected. Your business is the platform. All of these tools are ultimately connecting to it and all of these tools need to be connected to each other as well. If in one tool it’s called first name, another tool is called Fname, and another tool is F_name, that taxonomy gets harder and harder to map and makes it more difficult. If you first make sure that you have good taxonomy, that’s going to make sure you set up the rest of this for success.

Ninety-five percent of the time when we see these problems, that’s because nobody ever focused on taxonomy first, or when they did go build their taxonomy, they just got super lazy, and they just did the minimal viable thing and spun it up. But if you take the quality time to do taxonomy right, you see really good outcomes, and trying to make sure that taxonomy works across the stack is where you get the best outcomes as well.

Ben: A recurring theme underpinning much of this conversation is the need to be intentional when it comes to setting up and configuring marketing technology. If you rush into things without a plan, or if you treat complex systems like simple out-of-the-box solutions, then you’re setting yourself up for failure right off the bat. Even in a best-case scenario, if that’s what you’re doing, it’s unlikely you’ll be prepared to get the full value out of your marketing technology investment. Put one person in charge of overseeing how data gets managed on your team, establish some basic taxonomies and some naming conventions for tags, and files, and the like, and take the time to plan things out before you get too far along.

Those might seem like really simple things, but sometimes, they are enough to dodge really big headaches further down the road. Now, back to them.

If our listeners are concerned about the trustworthiness of their data, maybe because they know they have a problem, or because they didn’t know they had a problem. But now after listening to this conversation, they suspect they might have a problem somewhere. Where would you recommend they begin assessing their own situation? Assessing their own data in their own stack so that they can begin troubleshooting potential problems with that stack, or with whatever process, or tool, or method it is that they are investigating. Where do you start? You know there’s a problem somewhere, but you don’t know what, and you don’t know where. Where would you recommend they began maybe just doing an audit of things just to get a lay of the land, so to speak.

Dan: I definitely would always try to start with your analytics tools first because they’re typically going to have the most robust information. When we think about trying to audit a website, the best way to do it is to start out in Incognito mode, going through the website and using whatever analytics product you have and their debugger. There are many products for Chrome like Segment, Amplitude, and Mixpanel. They all have Chrome extensions that you can use to debug. They all live views. Google Tag Manager has its own debuggers. A lot of these products have that. The easiest way to start is of course to go use your own website Incognito mode, and go through the site, and start testing it.

If you want to get more advanced and you want to understand where the issues come into play, we recommend using a technology called BrowserStack. BrowserStack is helpful because you can test different devices, different browsers, different computers, and still go through that same process, and see how the data flows in. I hate to say that the best way to do most of this testing is by going and doing it. There are technologies out there that have some automated testing and stuff like that, but they’re all pretty new and pretty pricey. They’re not always the best. They’re not going to get you down to the core problem. At times, you do have to ask somebody who just knows where to look.

I love Segment. Segment is a customer data platform, one of my favorite products out there. I’ve used Segment, mParticle, and met around over a bunch of other CDPs. The intuitive way to set up a CDP is absolutely backward. The way you think you’re supposed to set it up if you do that, you’re going to screw yourself over. That’s what everybody does and then six months later, they have to redo it. The average person implements their CDP at least three times to finally figure out how to do it correctly. I hate to say it, but the best way to audit is to build good rigor around your analytics, understand how that data flows in, and use the auditing tools to be able to do that. The solution is just having more planning and being more proactive in the first place.

Ben: It sounds like you might run into situations where people treat these tools out of the box solution when they’re really not.

Dan: Yeah. They think they’re smart.

Ben: You’ve got to be more strategic, maybe about the way that those things are set up, maybe having a little bit better understanding of even what problems you’re trying to solve. Could you maybe say if that’s accurate?

Dan: I would definitely say that’s accurate. Most people think that these tools are smart and they’re not. They’re basically dumb visualization tools that have different types of visualizations. The reason why you would choose Mixpanel over Amplitude is there are a few data architecture things that are different about them which matter. Ninety-nine percent of people would never even know that those two things are different. They would choose them because one has prettier visualizations than the other. They’re both dumb analytics products that just report your data back to you. If you put dumb data in it, it’s going to give you bad data back.

There is a tool—I think it’s called taginspector.com, which is super cool, which you can load up your website and it shows you how the data flows from your website, how it flows into each tool downstream. That tool is super cool because it shows you your true data path. That way you can start to understand, maybe the data is coming in and it’s broken because it passes through this other tool to get there. There are some cool tools out there that do make this a little bit easier.

Ben: Generally speaking, what are some best practices that marketers can follow to ensure that their data stays clean and they can ensure that they aren’t filling these systems full of junk in the first place. How can they make sure that they avoid the first problem by making sure that the data that gets into these tools is not compromised in some way?

Dan: A common problem that we’ve seen for years is UTM parameters. UTM’s are the culprit of many bad data. We created a free product out there called UTM.io which makes it easy for you to basically create your UTM taxonomy and then to give an online builder to your team which is Workspace. It has rules It has templates. That way they can’t break it. When you’re working in an organization, what you want to try to do is come up with processes, tools, and systems to make it so that people just can’t break things. That’s where I would say leveraging a product like UTM.io is very easy to do because you can set your taxonomy, and then the rest of your marketing team can basically build their links. Your UTM campaign data which is some of your most valuable data comes in clean.

The same thing goes for when you think about trying to make sure that you have good accurate analytics data or marketing automation data. Try to figure out what are those products or services that you can put as, in essence, intermediaries, that protect your downstream tools. That’s where some products like Segment have protocols that will enable you to protect your taxonomy. Amplitude has its own taxonomy feature called Schema. A lot of these tools have that but when it comes down to trying to keep the data clean. Start with your taxonomy, don’t rush it. Try to take your time. If you went to McGaw.io, our website, and went to the footer, there’s a downloads and resources section. We have all kinds of webinars which were like, how do you design a taxonomy? How do you build taxonomy for personalization?

The content and education are there to be able to get this done, and it’s not that complicated. Don’t let me oversimplify it. It’s not easy, but that your best practice when it comes to getting clean data is prep. It’s the planning stage of it all. That’s what I would highly advise.

Ben: That makes a lot of sense to me. If you have multiple team members like they’re all running off doing the wrong things with these powerful tools. It’s pretty easy to see how that turns into a mess really quickly.

Dan: A lot of companies have a sales and marketing operations person that covers these things. We definitely recommend trying to have one person who—as we call them the data lord—the person who ultimately gets the help to call the shots. In a big company or even a small company, you have sales, marketing, CS products. Naturally, there are multiple people that are involved with this data, and you need somebody who does wrangle all these people together, and maybe maestro it a little bit better to make the data work for everybody.

Ben: That’s great advice and that does it for all the questions I had prepared. But this has been a great conversation. Before I let you go, if there’s anything else on this topic that you think is important for our listeners to know that you can leave them with. I realize this isn’t phrased in the form of a question, but if there are any things that you would like to leave our listeners with as a parting note, that would be fantastic.

Dan: The biggest thing that I would recommend with analytics is to take it slow. Take your time with all the data stuff. Don’t speed it up. Don’t rush. The number one problem that people try to do is they try to rush it out. I would definitely take your time. Every company who wants to expedite their contract with us from six months to three months we’re, whoa, we’ve got to slow this down. Even when they do expedite it, we still wind up doing the same six-month projects because it just takes time to do this stuff. There’s a lot of back and forth. There’s a lot of communication. Estimate a longer time frame to be able to get this stuff done. If you’re interested in getting your data in order, I would recommend checking out my free book. If you go to McGaw.io, you can request a free copy of my book on our website. It’s called How to Build Cool Shit. Maybe that’s something that will help you get this path started and give you some real case studies and tactics that you can use in your company.

The post Keeping Garbage Out of Your Data So You Can Make Better Marketing Decisions With Dan McGaw From McGaw.io [AMP 223] appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

Content

How to Use Curiosity Gaps to Write Headlines People…

Humans are naturally curious creatures — we always want to continue learning and increasing our understanding of the world around us.

This is where the psychology of curiosity gaps in your content strategy can really come in handy; if you have something that makes your audience question their knowledge about a subject or want to know more, they are bound to click to find answers.

These answers should be provided to your readers through your content. Seems easy enough, right?

Well, we want to make this tactic even easier for you. Read on to learn more about the infamous curiosity gap, how to use one effectively, and available templates to make writing headlines using them easy.

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Make the Most of Your Curiosity Gap Research

Writing a headline that inspires intrigue can be tricky, but you don’t have to do it alone. We’ve compiled a downloadable file of templates you can use to create your next head-scratching headline, which is bound to pull in readers aching to satisfy their curiosity through your content.

This helpful download includes:

  • 100 Headline Templates: Personalize some of these nifty headline ideas to match your brand, service, or content. You’re bound to find a few in this expansive list that are sure to spark some great headline ideas.
  • A PDF of Useful Headline Words: Are you struggling to find the perfect word to complete your headline? Browse through these lists of power, emotion, uncommon, and common words to make your headline more intriguing to readers.
  • A Headline Infographic: This helpful infographic is a great way for visual learners to understand why headlines are so important and how you can make your next headline impactful.

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Try Out CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer

For additional help with creating the perfect headline, try CoSchedule’s trusty Headline Analyzer. The Headline Analyzer will give you the advice you need to boost the engagement results of your next headline — free!

Headline Analyzer

Now that you have your hands full with some amazing resources, let’s dive in.

What is a Curiosity Gap?

Andrew Davis, a marketing keynote speaker, was interviewed by our Inbound Marketing Director, Ben Sailer, for CoSchedule’s Actionable Marketing Podcast to discuss curiosity gaps.

Here’s what Davis had to say about identifying a curiosity gap:

Andrew Davis quote about curiosity gaps

Curiosity gaps are a way to create an itch for an audience that they need to scratch — the scratch is defined as looking through your content to find an answer to something they don’t know yet. It’s very important that you provide your audience with the information they want to know, otherwise your curiosity gap is no longer a curiosity gap; it’s clickbait.

What’s the difference?

Well, clickbait typically functions similarly to a curiosity gap; however, when you offer clickbait, you don’t give your reader a concrete answer to a burning question that resulted from your content.

Here’s a great example:

Silly clickbait example
BluLeadz

In this clickbait example, you’re expecting something out of the ordinary to be waiting for you at the end of the article, but it’s something as underwhelming as a “mini-whirlpool”.

Riveting.

When you are offering answers to a curiosity gap, you are earning the trust and respect from your audience by giving them information they want to know. If you reject your audience’s request to learn more about a topic or over-hype you content, you’re bound to irritate them, drive them away, and lose their trust. We’ll touch more on this later.

How Do They Increase Traffic and Engagement?

The answer to this question is quite straightforward: if you offer your audience the answer to a burning question in their minds, they’re likely to click on your content to learn more.

Let’s break it down.

Let’s say your headline reads, “25 Hacks That Will Simplify the Way You Deep Clean”. A headline that leaves a variety of answers open to the imagination will entice your readers to try and figure out what those answers are.

What’s the easy way out of this itching curiosity? Well, checking out your content, of course — as long as you’ve kept your promise to your audience by providing them with a short and simple explanation.

Examples of Headlines That Use Curiosity Gaps

CNN curiosity gap example
CNN

This is a good example of a headline that effectively uses a curiosity gap because the reader is given the action (“A stranger saved me from a Christmas blizzard”) and the result of said action (“Now I’m stranded again”), but this headline doesn’t tell us how we got there; that’s our curiosity gap.

KnowTechie news curiosity gap example
KnowTechie

McDonald’s started doing… what now? This works as a curiosity gap headline because it’s, one, attention-grabbing and bizarre, and two, the headline doesn’t give us the reason why this famous restaurant-chain started doing this bizarre thing.

Why did they start putting cameras in dumpsters? I guess I’ll have to click to settle my curiosity.

The Writing Cooperative curiosity example
The Writing Cooperative

This is another good example because the headline fails to tell its readers the reason point A led to point B (a.k.a. What’s the technical glitch? Why is it happening?). However, readers will know that there is a simple solution to this problem if they just give the article a 6-minute read.

Using power words, like “simple”, boosts your chances of readers engaging with your content because it triggers action and grabs their attention.

You can find useful words like this in the offered headline template bundle, from the beginning of the post. Download this bundle now, so you can expand your curiosity gap vocabulary.

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Curiosity Gaps: Do’s and Don’ts

We’ve already covered a few of the things we like to see and what we should avoid in curiosity gaps, but let’s dive a little deeper and talk about what else to watch out for.

What You Should Be Doing

The do's of creating curiosity gaps

Using a curiosity gap as part of your content strategy is not always super straightforward. There are a few things to keep in mind when you decide to use them as your method to capturing the attention of an audience.

We’ll start with the obvious: you need to make your target audience curious — hence, the name. If your content doesn’t make someone scratch their head and think, “I have no idea, but I’d like to find out,” then you’re doing it wrong.

It’s important to leave things open-ended because then you’ve given yourself a nice platform to creatively resolve your audience’s curiosity throughout your content.

Next, you need to make you actually settle your audience’s curiosity. If you give them something unknown and then don’t give them the answer, you’ll completely lose their trust. This is where our previous discussion about clickbait comes into play. Never, and I mean never, trick your audience into falling for clickbait. This is the easiest way to lose your followers.

Finally, the last thing you should do to properly form a curiosity gap is to be creative but clear. Using the same old, cookie-cutter stuff in your curiosity gap will most definitely lose your audience’s interest.

Andrew Davis said it best:

Andrew Davis quote about customer attention span

Attention isn’t just given to you, your content, or your brand; it needs to be earned.

What You Should Avoid

The don'ts of creating curiosity gaps

Let’s start this off our list of “don’ts” by referencing Andrew Davis’s quote about customer attention. With all of the information out there, and the updates that push through feed every second, there’s a window of only a few seconds to capture the attention of your audience.

That being said, it’s critical that you don’t give your audience extra information or advertisement that they won’t care about.

Why?

When someone is on a mission to find out the answer to a burning question — put there by your content — they don’t want to be roadblocked by flourishes of ads and extra fluff. They’re there for one purpose and one purpose only: to find an answer.

Our second and third “don’ts” will, again, put a spotlight on clickbait. Two things we really want to avoid with curiosity gaps are using this curiosity gap method to promote fake news and/or over exaggerating your content.

Promoting fake news is the easiest way to lose the authenticity of your brand and chase away any potential customers. When you promote anything that can’t be trusted, your audience will, in turn, not trust you. We don’t want that.

Over exaggerating your content goes hand-in-hand with this because if you hype up your company or content too much, you risk being untruthful.

Overall, just make sure you are honest, interesting, and brief when you decide to take on a curiosity gap as your next content strategy.

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How to Apply Curiosity Gaps

There are a few ways to incorporate curiosity gaps into your content, like the CoSchedule headline examples we talked about previously. However, sometimes it can be really difficult to think of how to structure your headline or other content in a way that works best alongside the psychology of curiosity.

Take a peek at a simple formula our trusted friend, Andrew Davis, has constructed for making this content strategy as easy user-friendly as possible.

The Storybox Formula

The storybox formula

Davis has some great advice for how to effectively compose content curiosity gaps. The Storybox Formula, however, is a method that can be broken down into a few, easy-to-follow steps:

  • Show what the audience wants: This is pretty straightforward, but you need to make sure you’re clearly showing the audience what service you are offering to them and how it can benefit them. They don’t want to see what your product or service is until you tell them how they can use it and how it helps them.
  • Challenge solutions: Reassure your audience that you understand their problem, and then immediately follow up with the solution you can offer that will solve that problem.
  • Show potential outcomes: Lay out what your solution will do for their end results. Here’s the trick: as Davis puts it, “delay the reveal.” As soon as your audience knows the answer, they won’t be paying attention anymore. Remember, you need to keep them curious!
  • Reinforce results: Once you finally give your audience the solution they’re looking for, don’t forget to tell them why your solution is a good one. This goes hand-in-hand with showing the potential outcomes — except, this time, you’re giving them the actual solution.

Be sure to check out Andrew Davis’s podcast interview with CoSchedule to dig even deeper into this strategy.

Using CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer

The Headline Analyzer is an easy-to-use tool that will have you cranking out your best headlines in no time.

The first step is entering your headline idea into the text box, and then clicking “Analyze Now”.

CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer

After this tool analyzes your headline, you’ll get tons of feedback about how your headline would perform and engage readers and where it might fall a little flat. The Headline Analyzer will score your headline out of 100 — anything above a score of 70 will land you in the green, which is where we aim for our headlines at CoSchedule.Headline Analyzer headline scores

Some of the feedback you’ll see from the Headline Analyzer will talk about your word balance, headline type, and your sentiment. Keep this feedback in mind while you continue to draft headline ideas and craft one that’s sure to make an impact.Headline Analyzer headline feedback

With our headline template bundle and this handy-dandy Headline Analyzer tool in your marketing toolbelt, you’re prepped and ready to draft the next perfect headline.

It’s Your Turn

With that, I’ll leave you to try out this content strategy on your own. Don’t forget to take advantage of the downloadable headline template bundle, so you can make the most of your headlines and capture the attention of your target audience.

Happy writing!

The post How to Use Curiosity Gaps to Write Headlines People Must Click appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.

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