A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… During this week’s One Million by One Million roundtable, we started with a discussion of our hot-off-the-press news: 1M/1M Announces Partnership With Persistent Systems; CrowdEngineering First Beneficiary. This partnership speaks to a core philosophy of the program where we encourage entrepreneurs to get as much customer validation as possible before raising too much money, use other people’s channels if you can get to them, don’t burn too much cash, and all that good fiscal conservative stuff. And, oh by the way, we also really like the idea of the 1M/1M entrepreneurs building valuation and negotiating leverage through these business development efforts, instead of signing off large chunks of their company in form of equity early on.For a more elaborate explanation of the deal, please read my blog post 1M/1M: Alternative Financing For Startups Using A Sales Channel Partner. I have discussed at length why revenue sharing channel deals may serve as perfectly fine alternatives to raising equity (or even complements) because of their non-dilutive nature.Also, an Incubation Radar profile on CrowdEngineering explains more about this very, very cool company doing crowdsourced customer support. Social CRM is becoming quite a trend, and CrowdEngineering really pushes the envelope on the subject. And a few words about Persistent Systems, an outsourced software product development (OPD) company that is navigating its next phase of evolution are also warranted. Persistent is breaking out of the mold of labor arbitrage, and looking at new and exciting business models. My friend Tony Scott did an outstanding interview with Anand Deshpande, their CEO recently in which Anand discussed his vision for where he wants to take the OPD business. LetsGiftItAs for the entrepreneur pitches, first up today was Ryan O’Donnell with LetsGiftIt, a social software application with which multiple people who want to pool a gift for someone can orchestrate the entire process online. My read on the business is that it needs to go to market in a B-to-B mode, expanding the scope of gift registries on major sites like Macy’s and Crate & Barrel. I suspect Ryan is keener on building a consumer Internet play, but my business experience says this would do better as an add-on residing on the sites of other retailers. It certainly will be a better way to bootstrap the company.SOCO GamesThen Jeff Bogensberger pitched SOCO Games, the maker of a Facebook game called Earth 2.0. The game has started getting some traction already, and has a good virality index. Jeff also described a compelling in-game offer-based customer acquisition model that is proving quite effective for him. Jeff has managed to keep his burn rate very low thus far, and a slow and steady crafting of the business is working nicely. The majority of the discussion around this venture was around additional customer acquisition methods.BrainscapeNext Andrew Cohen presented Brainscape, an educational platform using a flash card type concept to learn vocabulary, language, etc. Andrew has about 40,000 users for a GRE test prep vocabulary product, acquired largely through iTunes. He asked questions about what investors are looking for: more free users or fewer paying users? The answer to the question is neither. They are looking for a validated model for each of the following issues: scalable customer acquisition, freemium conversion rate, and a pricing model for the premium product. Note, I said, validated. Not just assumptions. I also advised Andrew to greatly tighten his product and go-to-market strategy. As it stands, it is all over the place.SafarclickUp last was Hicham Jorio discussing Safarclick, an online hotel sourcing data service focusing on the Middle East and North Africa region, and catering to major OTAs like Expedia. Hicham has already brought about 3,000 hotels from the MENA region, but another 30,000 remain to be harnessed. In addition, there are another 30 to 50 OTAs beyond the 30 he already services to recruit. The business is already profitable with $2.9 million in revenue. Clearly, it can go much further, and Hicham is trying to decide whether he grows organically, or raises outside financing. He has attracted attention from a hedge fund interested in investing in the company, and asked what I thought about that option. Well, I didn’t think much of it. I would never take investment in a startup from a hedge fund.You can listen to the recording of today’s roundtable here. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here. You can register for the next roundtable here.Sramana Mitra is the founder of the One Million by One Million (1M/1M) initiative, an educational, business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond, build $1 trillion in sustainable global GDP, and create 10 million jobs. She is a Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur and strategy consultant who writes the blog Sramana Mitra On Strategy, and is the author of the Entrepreneur Journeys book series and Vision India 2020. She has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Photo by nosheep sramana mitra Related Posts Tags:#How To#start Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market
U.S. Cities Are Fighting the Heat-Island EffectDo Green Roofs Temper Urban Heat? Among the most interesting exhibitors at the GreenBuild International Conference and Expo, an event held in early October in Los Angeles, may have been the Asphalt Pavement Alliance, a group that challenged what we thought we knew about the urban heat-island effect with peer-reviewed research from Arizona State University (ASU).A “heat island” is an urban area that is hotter than nearby rural areas. The research from ASU calls into question many common assumptions about the ability of reflective pavement to mitigate the problem.Reflective surfaces redirect solar energy. For this reason, high albedo, reflective, or “cool” roofs have been suggested as an important tool for lowering the urban heat-island effect. However, efforts to apply the same principle to non-roof hardscapes, including pavement, overlook the complexities of urban geography and how ground level reflections interact with pedestrians, vehicles, and the built environment.The report, Unintended Consequences: A Research Synthesis Examining the Use of Reflective Pavements to Mitigate the Urban Heat Island Effect, was authored by Jiachuan Yang, Zhihua Wang, and Kamil E. Kaloush of the ASU National Center of Excellence for SMART Innovations. It pulls together research from around the world, including previously unpublished data from the team’s field research, that demonstrates the limits and side effects of relying upon reflectivity to reduce the urban heat island effect. “Unfortunately, efforts to promote reflective pavements have moved more quickly than the scientific and engineering research,” the report notes. “As this report indicates, reflective pavements may cool a pavement’s surface but there can also be negative environmental and social impacts on the areas adjacent to the pavement,” said Heather Dylla, Director of Sustainable Engineering for the National Asphalt Association.Two respected research teams are currently performing separate pavement research projects, with reports expected within the next year. The first is a study funded by the California Department of Transportation at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in conjunction with the University of California, Davis. It looks at the impact of pavement albedo as a heat-island mitigation strategy. The second team is the National Center for Asphalt Technology at Auburn University, working in conjunction with Iowa State University National Concrete Pavement Technology Center. Those researchers are conducting a pavement albedo aging study funded by the Federal Highway Administration.In its adoption process for the upcoming version of Green Globes, the Green Building Council Consensus Committee is proposing the removal of urban heat-island requirements for hardscape.Given the growing body of evidence of unintended consequences associated with reflective pavements and the potential negative impact they may have on energy usage, it is time for the drafters of other green building standards, rating systems, and codes to reevaluate the science and be prepared to eliminate provisions, including credits for urban heat-island effect mitigation, based solely upon a pavement’s reflectivity. Reflective pavement can increase cooling loadsSome of the undesirable side effects associated with the use of reflective pavements include increased cooling loads (and energy costs) for buildings subjected to solar reflections, increased light pollution from illumination at nighttime, increased wintertime snow and ice buildup even with additional deicing salts, and even human health concerns over UV radiation and visual glare. RELATED ARTICLES Stuart Kaplow is an environmental attorney and past chairman of U.S. Green Building Council Maryland. This post originally appeared at his website, Green Building Law Update.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has welcomed the creation of a Chief of the Defence Staff post as a vital step in strengthening and streamlining the command structure of the country’s defence services.Hailing the Union government’s decision as the fulfilment of a long-pending demand, first mooted by the then UPA government in the wake of the Kargil war, the Chief Minister said the move would go a long way in improving the command and control system of the Indian armed forces.Capt. Amarinder said that a CDS was suggested back in 2009 by the Naresh Chandra committee under the United Progressive Alliance, as the permanent chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC). The decision, however, then could not be implemented though it was felt that such a post would bring in more effective coordination and cohesiveness in the armed forces.“With the CDS to coordinate them, the three defence services, viz the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, the Indian armed forces would become more integrated, thus enhancing their effectiveness,” the Chief Minister said in a statement.
This Jobs – “phone” 2. The most used word by each of the speakers was also fascinating: The point the writer of the article was trying to make was that Jobs was much easier to understand by mere mortals. I was personally surprised to see the variance in the number of words per sentence — I thought they would have been bunched closer together. Dell – 16.5 words per sentence Gates – “devices” — Brian Halligan. Originally published Feb 1, 2007 4:37:00 PM, updated March 21 2013 is a fascinating comparison of the words used by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell on recent keynote style speeches. There are a bunch of interesting things that jumped out at me about this data: article Jobs – 10.5 words per sentence. Dell – “gaming” 1. The average number of words used per sentence was incredibly interesting. 3. The word “cool” is one of the most common utterances out of all three of these middle aged tech industry leaders’ mouths. I always thought as I got older that I should use the word “cool” less and less, but I guess the word “cool” has become a permanent part of our lexicon. If ten years ago someone told me that the most uttered word out of Bill Gates mouth was going to be “devices,” I would have laughed them out of the room. Same goes for “phone” for Jobs and “gaming” for Dell. It’s amazing how these companies have shifted their positioning over the years. It will be interesting to see which ones pull off these shifts in positioning over the next couple of years. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Gates – 21.5 words per sentence
Topics: I’ve been getting this question more and more lately, as Twitter becomes more and more mainstream and the business benefits of Twitter are more and more talked about.First, a word of caution. When engaging in any social media, you want to do so authentically – it will involve a fair amount of your participation, both give and take. Your first step once you join Twitter should probably not be to go follow 1,000 people. First of all, you very possibly might not be able to due to recent limits set by Twitter. This act seems kind of spammy, and that’s the last thing you want to do in social media. You should aim to let your community grow organically. That said, there are a few things you can do to get started.The first thing you absolutely have to do once you sign up for a Twitter account (though you can do this before signing up for Twitter, but you won’t be able to do much beyond this), is start monitoring who and what people are saying about your company. Go to Search.Twitter or Tweetscan (it may be worth it to use both, or even additional Twitter search engines, as they don’t all pick up on everything) and search for your company name, your executives’ names, perhaps your competitors’ names. You’ll see all the recent tweets that mention that name or phrase. What’s also great about these services is you can subscribe by RSS to this thread so you’ll be able to keep tabs on new posts about your company. When someone does talk about your company – respond, favorite the tweet perhaps if it’s favorable, and start following the person.A very close second most important thing to do once you’re on Twitter is to actually engage in the Twitter community. If you want people to follow you, you need to give them a reason to. Post interesting tweets, respond to others (see first point above). As noted in my word of caution, you want to be an authentic participant in the community. One of the wonderful things about Twitter is that you have to opt-in to receive someone’s updates (follow them). So, you need to think of ways to warrant a follow. I’ve been pretty impressed with Whole Foods in this regard. I started following them, though I’m no Whole Foods nut, because of their interesting tweets like “TOTD” (tweet of the day), and interesting food-related tweets like plugging food festivals across the country.Those are really the two most important things you can do on Twitter. But, if you’re still interested in ramping up your Twitter following, here are a few additional ideas:Go back to Search.Twitter and search on more general phrases that relate to the audience you’re trying to reach. Subscribe to those updates and respond/follow as appropriate.Check out the directories, like Twellow. Twellow is a directory of Twitter users categorized by industry or interest. There are a few other cool services, like Twubble and Twits Like Me. ReadWriteWeb posted a great article on these services here.Follow those who follow you. People like to feel like you’re listening to them and that they’re engaging in a two-way conversation with you. A follow-back is a great way to set that environment.Check out who your followers are following. They are likely interested in similar topics, and are a natural extenstion to your existing network.One more thought to consider before you get going: Will you be setting up a company Twitter account or will various employees have personal Twitter accounts (or both)? At HubSpot, we recently launched our company Twitter account @hubspot that a few of us monitor and update. There are also a bunch of us who have our own personal accounts, including our CEO, CSA, VP Marketing, and lots of others from across the company, including myself of course. The question is which brand you are building up – your corporate brand, or your personal brand (which in turn contributes to the company brand as well). I like the mix of both, though a lot of marketers may not have the bandwith to support more than one Twitter account. Either way, the first thing you must do after reading this post is to reserve your company’s name on Twitter before someone else does.If you want to see some companies out there who are doing a great job on Twitter, check out Zappos or Whole Foods. If you want to see a full list of companies on Twitter, check out the new Social Brand Index (and it wouldn’t hurt to get listed there, too, while you’re at it).Have you had any luck building a following for your company on Twitter? Do you have any additional techniques that worked for you? What have you learned from other companies on Twitter – good and bad approaches? Leave a comment and let’s discuss. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Social Media Originally published Aug 18, 2008 9:15:00 AM, updated October 29 2019
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack MarketingSherpa reports that 60% of marketers have fewer than 10 landing pages on their website. But the more landing pages you have, the more opportunities you have to generate leads. So what gives?Well, before you generate leads, before you create a landing page, before you even craft your call-to-action, you need something to offer your leads. You know, something worth redeeming in exchange for their contact information. The problem is, creating content takes time, which might be why so few marketers are utilizing landing pages to their fullest extent.So what’s a time-crunched marketer to do? The time for excuses is over, because there are ways to create valuable marketing offer content quickly; it just takes a little out-of-the box thinking. Use these shortcuts to create new offer content, quickly build a new landing page (following these landing page best practices, of course), and start generating more qualified leads for your business!Blog BundleIf you’re a dedicated inbound marketer, you’re probably blogging on a regular basis and have built up a great arsenal of short-form content. And while each new blog post you publish continues to work for you in search engines, eventually they get buried with all the new content you publish. A blog bundle — a compilation of your best blog posts around a given topic — is a great way to resurface your best blog content and simultaneously create a new lead-gen offer.Select a theme around which to structure the blog bundle, preferably around a topic that aligns with leads that convert at a high rate. HubSpot, for example, might not (depending on our analytics, of course) want to choose “inbound marketing” as a topic for a blog bundle; not only is it far too broad to be helpful, but perhaps leads that download content about inbound marketing as a general concept don’t close at a very high rate. But let’s say leads that find HubSpot via search terms related to SEO and download content about SEO convert at an extremely high rate — that’d be an excellent topic to select for a blog bundle offer!If you use tags on your blog to categorize content, simply search the tags to pull up all of your content related to the topic you select. Alternatively, you can perform a site search by typing site:www.insertblogURL.com “insert search term” into Google to resurface the content. Choose only your best blog content, and try to select a mix of blog posts that cover all angles of your subject.Data CompilationIt sounds sacrilegious, but there are inbound marketers out there that would rather kick a puppy than create a piece of content. That puts them in quite a pickle when tasked with creating offer content. But research and data — especially when it’s original — is a content goldmine that makes for a fantastic offer with very little writing required.Do you perform your own research about your industry that you could share with leads? Do your partners or affiliates? Alternatively, do you stay up-to-date on third-party research that would interest your audience, like analyst reports? Combine all of this interesting research and data into a lead gen offer (just make sure you have the permission to first). For an example of offer content centered around data, check out our 100 Awesome Marketing Stats, Charts, and Graphs, or our annual State of Inbound Marketing in 2012 Report.Presentation SlidesSo you just gave an awesome presentation to your boss, colleagues, clients, or even at a speaking gig. Don’t let those slides go to waste. Turn your .ppt into an offer for those who couldn’t attend the live presentation, or who would benefit from consuming the content in your presentation. All you have to do is edit your slides slightly to be applicable to a wider audience!For example, your presentation may have proprietary internal data, or perhaps you customized it with your client’s logo — audit your presentation for these details so the content appeals to a general audience. Then go through each slide and ask yourself whether the content of the slide is self explanatory. If you made heavy use of the “Notes” section or explained many concepts verbally, edit the slides to include that extra information that those who didn’t hear your presentation live would need to get value from the slides.Rework Existing Offers for PersonasInstead of starting from scratch, why not make the offer content you already have more targeted by better aligning it with your buyer personas? This will not only help you generate new leads, but also drive more reconversions in your lead nurturing — in fact, Aberdeen Group found a 10% improvement in conversion rates for more personalized lead nurturing emails.Identify the best offer content you have, ideally one in each stage of the sales cycle — awareness, evaluation, and purchase. You’ll be able to identify which offer content is best by visiting your marketing analytics, and selecting those with the best conversion rates. Content from the awareness stage should have a high visitor-to-lead conversion rate; content from the evaluation stage should have a high rate of reconversion; and content from the purchase stage should have a high lead-to-customer conversion rate.Once you’ve identified the best offers, you can simply update the language and layout to cater to each persona’s interests and needs. For example, you might change an offer targeted at a C-suite executive to be shorter, use a more professional tone, and provide less tactical and more strategic advice. On the other hand, the same offer targeted at a mid-level manager might go into more detail, use less industry jargon, and focus on the nitty gritty tactics of your solution.You can learn more about how to adjust the content of your existing offers in our blog post that breaks down how to tailor lead nurturing content to different buyer personas.Update Out-of-Date OffersJust as you can update existing content to be better targeted, your old offers should be updated and relaunched, positioned as a more current piece of content. Even your most evergreen content will likely need to be polished up as data and statistics become out of date and new advancements are made in your industry that would be useful to add to the content.At HubSpot, for example, we make a regular practice of updating ebooks. Take our ebook, 15 Business Blogging Mistakes & Easy Fixes. There weren’t originally 15 mistakes in that ebook; there were only 13. But over time, it became clear the content could be more comprehensive, so we added in two more problems and solutions. Then, we gave the graphics a much needed facelift (optional), and relaunched the offer by writing new blog posts about blogging (how meta) and using the ebook in our lead nurturing emails.Record an InterviewValuable content comes in forms other than the written word, so here’s another idea for those inbound marketers who don’t fancy writing. Record an interview, either on video or, if you’re camera shy, just audio. HubSpot did this on, ironically, the subject of whether content should live behind a form in HubSpot Debate: Should You Put Your Content Behind Forms? In the video, CMO Mike Volpe and Marketer-in-Residence David Meerman Scott discuss whether it’s better for content to be form-free; the discussion lasted about a half an hour, but yours certainly doesn’t have to. Simply take 10 or 15 minutes to tackle an interesting topic with a co-worker or industry expert, record the discussion, and create a landing page that summarizes the points that will be covered in the recording!FAQ-Driven EbookCan’t find a chunk of time long enough to devote to ebook writing? Or is the prospect of doing a deep dive into one topic too overwhelming? Take the FAQ approach to your next piece of long-form content. The FAQ approach is a common one I take when writing blog posts — after speaking with co-workers in departments like Sales, Support, and Consulting, I aggregate questions that leads and customers commonly ask and note them for future blog topics.You can do this for an ebook, too! Ask employees who are on the front lines with leads and customers every day to jot down common questions they receive and send them your way so you can progressively write your ebook; alternatively, ask them to write down their answers to the questions, leveraging the power of the team to create your next piece of offer content. Soon, you’ll have “[Your Company]’s Answers to [Your Industry]’s Burning Questions.” Okay, maybe I’ll leave the title brainstorming to you.Turn How-To Content Into ChecklistsMany marketers get hung up on length when creating offer content, but length is never an indicator of quality or usefulness. In fact, it’s important to create content in different formats, since not everyone consumes content in the same way. So take your how-to, action-oriented content, and turn it into a downloadable checklist.Let’s take HubSpot’s blog post, “9 Questions you MUST Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Blogger,” for example. The post goes into lots of detail about why it’s important to ask each question and how each interviewee’s answer should be structured. But once a reader understands these concepts, they really just need a reminder of what those 9 questions are. After all, they’re not going to remember all 9 questions every time they go into an interview. Repurposing this content in a checklist format with a call-to-action that says, “Download Your Business Blogger Interview Guide” is a perfect way to repurpose this how-to content in a way that’s quick for you, and helpful, bookmarkable content for your reader.Create TemplatesJust as checklists help your leads perform recurring tasks with more ease, there may be templates you can create for your leads in Excel, Word, Photoshop, etc. that would help them do something easier or better. For example, a tax accountant might prepare a spreadsheet with formulas that helps calculate common deductions. Or maybe an event coordinator could create templates of room layouts for the city’s most popular event spaces. HubSpot’s CMO Mike Volpe created a template for marketers to complete their leads waterfall graph, which can be found in our blog post that explains it in more detail. Ask yourself what problems your leads and customers encounter, and whether there are templates you can quickly create and offer for download to make that job easier.Ask the ExpertsYou may not have all the answers, but perhaps you have trusted colleagues, industry contacts, or even followers and fans on your social media accounts who do. Select a controversial topic or difficult problem many in your industry face, and ask your network for their take on the issue. Then bundle their responses and advice into one piece of content — it can be visual like our 54 Pearls of Marketing Wisdom, or if you’re not comfortable with graphic design, written and nicely formatted like a whitepaper or ebook.Turn a Live Presentation Into a Webinar OfferNext time you host a live presentation or webinar, be sure to record it so you can leverage the offer well after the live audience disperses. This is some seriously low-hanging fruit content that should be turned into a lead generating offer. We record all of our public presentations so they can be used as offers at a later date. Remember, not everyone can attend these sessions live, but it doesn’t mean they’re not interested in the content.And if your webinar didn’t go as well live as it did during rehearsal, no worries. You can always set aside an hour to re-record the presentation that you turn into the offer — you know, without the live audience and technical difficulties.Create Co-Branded ContentIf you’re short on time, why not divide up the responsibility of creating offer content with someone in your industry who is looking to get exposure to your audience? For example, our ebook, How to Generate Leads Using LinkedIn was co-written by HubSpot’s Anum Hussain and Jamie Turner, founder of 60-Second Marketer. This approach works well for other content formats, too, particularly webinars. Partner up to host a webinar with someone in your industry whose audience you’d like exposure to. You can use the recording to generate leads on your own site, and include a call-to-action at the end of the webinar to encourage action from the new audience to whom you’re speaking.There’s Always OutsourcingIf you can’t find the time or inclination to create offer content, you can always outsource content creation. You can build all the calls-to-action and landing pages in the world, but without valuable content to make redemption worthwhile, your lead generation will quickly dry up. Leverage these shortcuts for creating lead generation content, or if time is really your most precious resource, get in touch with a qualified freelance writer to keep your content creation going.What tricks and shortcuts do you use to create valuable offer content in a time crunch?Image credit: Andres Rueda Lead Generation Originally published Mar 21, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Topics:
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack If you’ve ever been in a content creation role, you know that there’s lots you can do to make sure you’re creating great content every single day. You can’t just wait for inspiration. You’ve got to be prepared, motivated, and focused — all at the same time. The trifecta can be hard to get, even for the savviest of writers.So if your job is to create content every day, how do you achieve all that?To get to the bottom of this, I spoke with my teammates here at HubSpot. It’s no secret: we create a lot of content, especially blog posts … so I figured we’d have a few tricks up our sleeve for writing a post every single day. Here’s some of the best advice our team has for getting prepared, motivated and focused to write each day on the job.1) Braindump Your Ideas in TrelloMy best brainstorming doesn’t often happen randomly — I usually need to sit down, realize I need to brainstorm, make inspiration strike once, and then iterate on that idea. I personally love to brainstorm ideas in Trello — a place where my whole team can see them and grab one if they want to write it. Having a central location for ideas keeps the blog post idea mill flowing for the entire team, even in the darkest days of writer’s block.2) Race Your Laptop’s BatteryMy colleague, Corey Eridon, mentioned this tip in a previous post about blogging tips — and it’s something our team will do when under a tight deadline. Just unplug your laptop, go somewhere else, and race to finish your post before your computer shuts off. Constraining your writing to a certain time limit can help you focus on getting the most important points down in a concise way.3) Isolate Yourself (Physically AND Digitally)To get focused, my teammates and I also like to isolate ourselves. Whether it’s holing up in some random conference room to write, popping in some headphones at our desks, or turning off all instant message/email/tweet notifications on our computers, we’re making sure we’re focusing on the one and only task at hand: writing a blog post. Those other distractions can wait until you’ve finished.4) Refresh Your SurroundingsThis tip is one my coworker Karlan Baumann swears by: changing your surroundings any time you need to work. So if you’ve been emailing at your desk all morning, try heading over to a local coffee shop to write (or vice versa). Writing requires a different mindset than the rest of your day-to-day duties, so changing up your surroundings to mirror the change in mindset can be very helpful.5) Listen to Music Popping in your favorite tunes can help you gear up to write something awesome — though it doesn’t have to be a certain type of music. My colleague Shannon Johnson told me that she prefers classical or non-lyrical music when she needs to buckle down and write … but mine is usually the Pandora Beyonce or Mumford and Sons mix. Find whatever music empowers and focuses you to write and go from there.6) Get ComfyI absolutely need to feel physically comfortable before I write. Forget ergonomics — sometimes I need to be hunched over my post for an hour to get it out quickly.Experiment to see which body position works best for you. For me, I need my feet stretched out and laptop on my lap because that’s the position I used when I was on tight deadlines at college. This position can work at my desk or in a conference room or on the couch. You may need much more — or much less — rigidity, but it’s important for you to know how your posture can help or hurt you. 7) Chunk Up Your WritingOften, I’ll get overwhelmed and think, “I need to get 1,500 words done before lunch? I have 10 minutes before my next meeting so I won’t even try to write something.” But that’s not always the best way to think about writing — or any project in general. Lately, I’ve been trying to say to myself, “I have 10 minutes, so what can I write in that time that’ll be substantial?” Usually, that’ll be one or two paragraphs of a post — so I’ll challenge myself to write that before I need to go to my next meeting. Set deadlines for yourself for parts of your writing, and you could find that your productivity skyrockets. 8) Do It at a Set TimeIt’s really easy to make excuses to not write. An impromptu meeting crops up or suddenly your inbox is overflowing or maybe someone’s complaining on Twitter and you need to respond to it. But if you let yourself get caught up in all of those, you’ll never have enough time to bang out a post. So try carving out a chunk of time to sit and write, and don’t let anything else interfere. Maybe you write best in the morning, so you block out 8-10 a.m. on your calendar. Send yourself a calendar invite for that time and disconnect from all notifications. You’ll train yourself and your coworkers to expect you to blog at that time.9) Talk It Out This is a great tip that came from Corey as well: when you’re getting caught up in trying to write something down, just talk it out. Grab a voice recording device or a coworker, and explain what you mean out loud. Naturally you’re going to be more down-to-earth and jargon-free, and hearing your own voice say the concept out loud can jumpstart your creativity. Bonus: if you have Evernote, you can write your blog posts by talking them out. 10) Skip to Easier StuffWriting can make me really angry sometimes. Randomly, I’ll have a blog post idea and have no clue how to begin the post. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been ruminating on the idea for a week or a month or half a year — somehow I get writer’s block. Instead of fighting against those sections that just won’t cooperate, skip to sections you know like the back of your hand. Writing non-linearly seems counterintuitive (don’t you have to build your story first??), but it can help unlock your creativity. You’ll get back into your writing groove and it’ll be easier to tackle those other sections. Just make sure you go through a heavy edit to make sure your story flow actually seems logical. 11) Organize Your Bookmark Bar With Resources You Use Every DayI’m an organized person. I keep track of my blog post ideas in Trello, I color-code my email inbox, and I sure as heck make sure I’m ready to write or edit a blog post at a moment’s notice.One thing that has significantly cut down on my writing and editing time is my collection of bookmarks. I’m not the greatest at dead-recalling facts. Instead, I bookmark resources that’ll help me find the information I need. So things like the link to our blog or design style guide, or the link to our stock photo subscription, or the link to our personas — I bookmark them all. That way, I don’t have to spend time searching for important blog post content to reference or cite.I also like to bookmark resources that’ll help me come up with new blog post ideas. Generally, I like to check out this site, but I also use a bunch of these browser bookmarks. Do you write every day? What tips do you have for consistently creating content? Productivity Originally published Feb 27, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics:
Originally published Nov 25, 2015 1:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Lead Generation Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack When you first implemented inbound marketing for your business, you knew that you were building a system that utilized high quality content to help generate high quality leads from your website. Flashes of the film Field of Dreams probably kept running through your head as you optimized your website for conversions and started pumping out blogs and offers at a regular basis.If you build it, they will come.And boy did they! Inbound marketing has proven time and time again to be an extremely successful philosophy that can help generate leads for businesses through online sources. Sadly, though, few people will tell you that not all of those leads are quality.Alongside your actual business prospects who will fill out forms on your website are vendors looking to sell you something, competitors looking to read your content and foreign marketers just looking to read what you have to offer, among others. None of these people will ever become customers yet they will take up as much, if not more space in your database doing absolutely nothing for you, and that might be more of a problem than you think.The Cost of Bad LeadsDepending on what type of marketing database, sales CRM or email marketing tools you’re using, you could be paying a premium to house and market to these contacts. Database limits and cost-per-send rates aren’t to be taken lightly, as they can lead to a business throwing away thousands of dollars a year.Outside of cost, a database filled with suspect leads can also skew marketing metrics and negatively affect sales follow up to actual qualified leads. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of 4 different tricks I continue to use in my campaigns to help maintain a clean database filled with only qualified leads.1) Have Your Forms be the First Line of DefenseThe first and probably best way to ensure a clean database is to establish rules and triggers connected to your forms to help you either keep low quality leads out altogether or sort them after the fact. Email form field rules and additional form fields asking for qualifying information are some great options.Email Form FieldsOften times in B2B campaigns, you can tell if a lead is legitimate or not based on what kind of email address they provide. Competitors may use their personal email addresses to mask their true identity while vendors and others might use blacklisted addresses linked heavily with spam. If you face this regularly, block them from submitting your forms by comparing their email domains against a list of free, spammy email providers alongside your own list of providers. Not only will this help collect relevant email addresses from qualified leads for your sales team but it will also keep out the unqualified people who may be unwilling or unable to provide their real email addresses.Additional Form FieldsNot all forms can be set up to automatically determine if a lead is qualified and has the right intentions on the same page and that’s ok. People are smart and will often times do whatever it takes to submit a form on your website for one reason or another.When it comes to dealing with these people, don’t fight them too hard with multiple safeguards like CAPTCHA fields (not always a bad idea though) and other filtering mechanisms, but instead looks to collect seemingly generic information that only you know to be a qualifier or disqualifier for your business.Items such as geographic information, company size and industry can help you quickly understand if the person submitting the form is qualified as a potential sales prospect quickly based on where and who your company is looking to work with.2) Corral the Ones That Slip ThroughAs I alluded to above, people are smart and are sooner or later going to successfully submit a form on your website to read your content and that’s ok. You haven’t lost just because someone was able to provide a real email and select the right form field.In fact, they have played straight into your hands! Now that you’ve collected their information and have stored it (temporarily) in your database, it will be easy to quickly review if they are or are not meant to take up your precious storage space both using automated and manual techniques.List CreationWhen it comes to keeping a clean database, establishing smart lists to uncover and track unqualified leads in your database is key. Based on who your business is targeting and where you are looking to do business, there are a number of simple rules you can establish to quickly pull in a list of potentially unqualified leads currently in your database.If you are an American business looking to only work within the states, establishing a list that tracks any and all leads with known IP addresses outside the US can quickly show you foreign contacts who you will never do business with.If you collected qualifying information in your forms, you can create lists to track any answers that disqualify a lead as well. Once you’ve established a list or lists that track all of these disqualifying factors, you can easily clean your database with a simple click (after reviewing the list thoroughly, of course).Manual TrimmingWhile smart lists will help you quickly wrangle and delete any contacts with measurable values, there are others still that may require more of a manual process when it comes to keeping a clean database. Form submissions with names (Test Test) and phone numbers (123456789) are solid indicators that a lead in unqualified and not work the space to house their obviously fake information.While you may be able to set up rules to catch some of this, there are too many different ways that people can submit false information to effectively automate the review process so instead, rely on your experience and eye for these submissions as they come into your database. Set yourself up to receive email notifications once a form is submitted and spend time daily or weekly reviewing them to see if any are clearly fake. From there, you can manually delete them from your database without much effort.3) Monitor EngagementWhile it can be very easy to tell the difference between a potential business opportunity and a vendor or competitor, it can be much more difficult to tell whether or not a seemingly qualified lead is actively engaged with your content in a positive manner. Whether through engagement with your emails or through specific, negative actions on your website, there are signs that can be monitored to tell if leads are truly qualified.Email Marketing ReviewWhile marketers always crave engagement with their emails, not all actions are always a good thing. Contacts looking to unsubscribe from your lists still must open and click through the original email, so keeping an eye on what links are being clicked on a regular basis is always a good idea. Identify those that are unsubscribing from your communications, placing your emails in their junk folders, or are having your emails bounce on a regular basis. This information can be used to establish a list of people no longer engaging with your content.After reviewing this list (potentially with your sales team), delete those who you believe are no longer qualified to be in your database before then establishing a plan of attack to legally target those who your sales team still believes to be opportunities.Negative Website ActivitiesWhile normally connected with an unqualified or fake submission, there are some cases where a seemingly qualified lead can perform specific actions on your website that may raise some red flags. Multiple conversions on any and all offers on your website, while not always a bad thing, can often point to a contact trying to collect anything and everything you’ve written for less than noble purposes.Tracking people who convert on multiple forms via a smart list or keeping an eye on any large amounts of conversions at one time via notification emails should allow you to see when someone is going on a “download spree” and give you the opportunity to remove them from your system once they’ve stopped.4) Stay Connected with Your Sales Team’s FunnelEven truly qualified leads will need to leave your marketing database at one point or another. Either they go through the entire sales process and become a customer (and are added to the CRM), speak with your sales team but decide to go elsewhere (and are then sent to the CRM for future contact) or they “go dark.”For those who do go dark, it can be tough to know where to put them within your marketing database and sales CRM. On one hand, your sales team can’t be wasting their time trying to continually contact people who won’t respond, but on the other hand you can’t necessarily market to these people in the same way you would a new prospect.When faced with this dilemma, work with your sales team to create a custom nurturing campaign that can take these “recycled” leads who have gone dark and slowly send them customized content to bring them back into the sales cycle. If successful, you can bring back old prospects who may have just needed more time. If unsuccessful, you have a list of people who have shown to be disengaged and not worth keeping as a contact.Now of course, this strategy can differ depending on your sales team’s philosophy on when to give up on leads, but it still allows you to at least start the conversation around how long is too long for a disengaged lead to stay in a full database.The Bottom LineWhether you’re a mature inbound campaign or just implementing your first blog post and offer, a clean and consistently scrubbed database is paramount to the overall success of a campaign when it comes to providing ROI. The benefits of keeping that database clean go far beyond keeping your superior sane– they can help your campaign save money on software and storage while improving overall lead to customer conversion rates.While not the easiest (or sexiest) job within digital marketing, if you use any or all of the four steps listed above, your “cleaning time” can be significantly shortened and made smarter. That’s a movement that you, your sales team and your company can get behind.
Originally published Sep 15, 2016 5:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Communication with Clients Topics: It’s inevitable: at some point, your client will give you the silent treatment. They probably don’t mean to make you blow steam from your ears — it just happens — and getting over the communication slump starts with walking a mile in their shoes.It’s important to remember that many companies are understaffed and stretched thin. And even though studies show that burnout is bad for business, we see it happen all the time.While it may be frustrating when you can’t get an answer from your client, it’s usually not the result of ill will or without reason. There’s a good chance your client lives in meetings for most of their days, leaving them with only a small window to take calls and answer emails. An empathic approach to your client relationships — rather than an angry one — will be better for both you and your client in the long run.Why Clients Go DarkThere are several explanations for why your clients aren’t answering you. It could be as simple as email clutter. Haven’t we all tried to block off calendar time to clean out our inboxes, only to veer off course into this project or that phone call? We’re only human.Experts say you need an entire minute to recover from reading a single email. And at bare minimum, you’d need three hours a day dedicated only to reading and sending emails if you were to stay completely caught up on your inbox. Your client might not have the bandwidth to sift through their inbox every day.They could also be waiting on another department or team member to weigh in before they get back to you, and they just don’t have anything new to report. They could be putting out other fires they perceive as more important, or they could simply be stalling because they’re suffering from a bit of decision paralysis (again, it happens to the best of us).Worst case scenario, they have bad news to deliver and they’re putting it off. But don’t jump to conclusions. While it’s normal for you to devote roughly 25 percent to 40 percent of your time to a project, clients usually devote only 5 percent to 10 percent of their time. Most likely, their lack of communication stems from the fact that they’re juggling a lot at once and are strapped for time.The question is this: How do you move forward without feeling like you’re constantly nagging them?Strategies for Breaking the SilenceIt’s not easy to keep clients engaged when they’re seemingly tuning you out, but these simple strategies can help you stay in touch without hurting the relationship.1) When setting deadlines, emphasize the most important ones.If you assume your clients are going to miss any deadlines right out of the gate, you’re already planning ahead. Tell them upfront which deadlines are essential, and be firm about which will affect the success or timing of the project. If they’re going to forget something, it might as well be one of the less important somethings.2) Be clear about the consequences of missing specific deadlines.Don’t be afraid to put things in concrete terms: “If we don’t get X, we can’t make Y happen.” This will light a fire in many clients right away because they don’t want to risk failure of their project. If you’re not clear about what you need from your client, you’ll end up taking the blame for missed deadlines yourself.3) Don’t use calendar due dates.Instead, set deadlines in number of days. For example, “Five workdays after we receive X, we can deliver Y.” This creates a more visual timeline of what happens when even one small deadline is missed. It also gives your client a better understanding of the big consequences their lack of responsiveness can have on the project.4) Get a structure in place for clear communication.Agree on turnaround times and communication methods right away with your client. Ask if phone calls are better than emails. Maybe face-to-face meetings are more your clients’ style. Don’t assume that what works for you will work for them. If they have days they know are more hectic or they know they’ll be unavailable, make note of those, too.5) Don’t end a meeting without scheduling a follow-up.It’s kind of like getting a second date with someone you like: If you like someone, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask him or her out again. Go after your clients in a similar way. If you leave the schedule open-ended, you’ve just created another step you have to take to set it up later (and more messages for which you’ll have to wait for responses).6) Create a ‘If we don’t hear from you’ plan.Proactively ask your clients things like “How can we move this forward on our own, just in case we don’t hear from you?” It creates a backup plan right away, making it more likely that your deliverables and timeline can press onward. Plus, the more your clients can trust you to make decisions on their behalf, the stronger your relationships will become.7) Get acquainted with your clients’ schedules.When you want to escalate your communication urgency appropriately and respectfully, that might look very different if your client is having a “normal” week as opposed to being out of the office for a family reunion or vacation.Get a sense of what your clients’ weeks typically look like so you can set reasonable deliverable dates. Making a “tell us about your week” question part of your usual status meetings with clients is a quick, easy way to anticipate issues and also understand what is reasonable and what might not be.The Better You Understand Your Clients, The Easier It BecomesFrom the agency’s perspective, an unresponsive client can squeeze the agency’s time to complete the project. Sometimes, a project has a fixed deadline, so no matter how the client delays the work, the agency still has to scramble to get it done. It can also lead to rush charges or other unnecessary expenses. But think of client silence this way: You should always be seeking to understand your customers better anyway, and unresponsiveness is yet another opportunity to do just that. Getting through this slump could be just the thing to bring you closer together. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack