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Despite what some people in the industry might try to have us believe, SEO isn’t “dead” – and it’s unlikely to be dead for a very long time. The reality of the situation is that, as long as there are search engines – and as long as the results those search engines show are determined by algorithms – there will be SEO.

That said, SEO has changed a lot, and many tactics that worked as recently as a couple of years ago are now entirely defunct (unless you’re in the market for quick “wins” that will simultaneously put the entire visibility of your website at a very real, and very serious risk).

The last few years have seen SEO become a far more difficult discipline to master, and consequently, it’s become far more interesting. If you ask me, that’s a great thing.

So, with so many previously tried-and-tested tactics now sitting firmly in the realm of “blackhat” SEO, the question lots of people are asking is: what the hell still does work?

To find out, I had a chat with a few of my friends in the industry. This is what they had to say… Continue reading 13 SEO Leaders Share the Tactics That Still Work Today

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Since I’ve been writing for Forbes, Inc. and Entrepreneur Magazine, I’ve been getting pitches from all types of companies asking me to cover their launch, interview them, or help them in some way. I’ve received a few good ones, but – for the most part – they’re pretty bad.

And when I say bad… I mean horrible.

I don’t have any hard feelings against the people who send me bad pitches. If anything, I feel a little sorry for them. It’s not easy to know what works unless you’ve sat on both sides of the fence, because it’s often only when you receive those pitches that are either truly great or truly terrible that you realize what it is that people are likely to respond to.

To help you write the perfect pitch – with or without being recipient to one – here’s a little about what I’ve learned from being on the receiving end of 3,751 good, great, bad, and really bad PR pitches. Continue reading What I Learned from Receiving 3,751 PR Pitches

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While my business partner Colin Mathews has been working on building ContentMarketer.io (my latest project), I’ve been hard at work building buzz and recruiting beta users.

So far, we’ve had more than 3,500 people request access to the system, but only a few hundred of those really got the product and were successfully able to leverage it. Along the way, I’ve learned – relearned, actually – the importance of understanding your customers on a deep level.

One of my favorite tools for understanding my customers is the buyer persona, but what I’ve found is that most people who use this strategy don’t take it far enough. Simply knowing someone’s age, gender and geographic location isn’t enough – you’ve got to go deeper.

Below, you’ll find 150 of the questions I’ve personally used that you may find useful to ask as well. However, you don’t need to ask them all. Feel free to pick and choose the questions that are most relevant to your brand and the information you personally need to gather.

That said, before you go away and ask ten or twenty generic questions, think about this: the more questions you ask, the deeper the insight you’ll gain into your buyers and the more targeted and effective you can be in your marketing strategies. Asking more questions will take more time up-front, but the payoff will be well worth the extra effort.

Trust me. Continue reading 150 Buyer Persona Questions You Must Ask

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If you’ve been following along with me on this blog, you probably already know how important I think it is to build a distinct and recognizable brand that consumers trust and want to be associated with. In today’s noisy, commercial environment, it’s key to the long-term success of your company.

Unfortunately, if you’re in the process of trying to build a brand for yourself, you probably also know that this is far easier said than done.

If you’re trying – but failing – to build brand equity, stay with me. I’m going to talk you through 15 common ways companies get brand-building wrong, as well as look at what you can do to prevent your company falling afoul of the same mistakes. Continue reading 15 Ways You’re Failing Your Brand

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Want to see better results from your content marketing campaigns?

Well, let me give you a little hint…

It’s not going to come from cranking out the same 800-word blog posts you’ve been writing three times a week for the past year. And it’s not going to come from building an infographic from one of the popular templates floating around out there.

The marketing success of the future isn’t going to come from quantity or from meeting some arbitrary publishing calendar suggestions. It’s going to come from establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry – and truly bad-ass content pieces are the best way to do just that.

According to research from Curata, 71% of brands increased their investment in content marketing over the past year. And that’s great, except that spending more time and money on content won’t boost your ROI unless you have the right strategy in place.

Here’s everything you need to know about developing the right strategy for your brand through the use of seriously amazing content pieces: Continue reading How to Create Truly Bad-Ass Content

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Is a website finished once the design and development is complete, and the site gets launched? Of course not! It doesn’t matter how beautiful your site looks or how well it converts – there are always going to be changes you can make that will improve conversions further and more importantly, make you more money.

Unlike other facets of digital marketing, conversion rate optimization (CRO) capitalizes on the visitors you already have and can result in some very big, and very quick wins. I can’t emphasize enough how beneficial this practice can be.

Meet CRO and A/B Split Testing

But before we go any further, It’s important to clarify the distinction between CRO and A/B testing. Conversion rate optimization is the whole process of making alterations to a site in order to increase conversions. This can include a variety of different testing methods, as well as data analysis and the development activity needed to implement your tests and make changes.

A/B testing, on the other hand, is a specific method of testing used to help optimize your site for conversions.

It’s really a simple premise. To run an A/B test, you set up two different versions of a page that will run consecutively. Once both pages are live, 50% of your visitors are sent to version one, while the other 50% are sent to version two. You then track how the behavior of your visitors differed between the two versions, and use this information to make permanent, positive changes to your website.

For example, you might run an A/B split test to decide between using green or red call-to-action buttons. For the sake of argument, we’ll say that version one uses green call-to-action buttons and version two uses red call-to-action buttons.

If, when the test is complete, you can see that 6% of visitors clicked the call-to-action buttons on version one, but 12% of visitors clicked the call-to-action buttons on version two, you now know that red call-to-action buttons are more lucrative for your site than green buttons.

Of course, you probably won’t stop the test there. You might then repeat the test and pit red buttons against say, orange buttons, and so on. For best results, you’ll always want to have at least one test running on your website. Continue reading 50 A/B Split Tests to Optimize Your Site to Perfection

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I’m a huge fan of sports and athletics. So if I go a little quiet when the big game or the Olympics are on, well… now you know why.

More importantly, as someone who puts great value on his own physical fitness, I see the talent, work and dedication that goes into becoming the very best in a given sport as something that should be hugely admired.

I also believe that there’s a hell of a lot that most of us, as employers or employees in less, well, physically demanding roles, can learn from the training practices and actions of top athletes.

Here are ten of these life lessons, as well as how they should be applied to our content marketing efforts:

Channel Pressure to Help You Perform at Your Very Best

From the critical opening second of an Olympic sprint – where even the tiniest error or hesitation could throw the whole race – through to the deciding penalty shot of a World Cup final, competitive sports and athletics are filled with high-pressured situations.

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What I find most interesting, though, is how adept professional athletes are at not just coping with pressure, but channeling it to their advantage – something most of us could learn from. Many would say this is what separates the good athletes from the great.

Unfortunately, a lot of us just don’t perform at our best when under pressure. As unpleasant as that is, it’s very common, and nothing to be ashamed of. It is something, however, that we can work to change.

When faced with pressure, our bodies tend to respond in two ways: they either go into “challenge” mode, or “threat” mode. Continue reading 10 Content Marketing Lessons You Can Steal from Top Athletes

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Having trouble getting your message noticed online? Unfortunately, cutting through the internet’s increasingly noisy atmosphere is a common problem facing brands these days, as consumers have learned to both ignore online advertisements and distrust the ones that do break through to their consciousness.

So what’s the solution? If banner ads or traditional media buys aren’t getting you the results you want, it’s time to start leveraging influencers to help grow your business.

Simply put, influencers are those that, well, influence others to action. They might be traditional print authors, bloggers, industry leaders, consultants, media figures or others in occupations that put their opinions in front of an audience. Think about your own field of expertise. Are there any company leaders whose careers you follow? Any bloggers whose recommendations you’re quick to act on? These are the influencers whose eyes you want to catch.

That said, there’s a big difference between identifying the influencers in your field and actually getting them to promote your brand or product to their followers. Here’s everything you need to know about finding these authority figures and leveraging them to get your message heard… Continue reading How to Leverage Influencers to Build Your Brand

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I’m a big fan of slide decks. When done well, they’re an incredible tool for absorbing information without actually realizing how much ground you’ve covered or the volume of new knowledge you’ve taken in.

What’s more, you don’t have to be an award-winning designer to create your own. With the right tools and a little creativity, almost anyone can kick out a slide deck that looks good and is both informative and interesting.

That said, not all slides are created equal – and there’s no shortage of decks that just aren’t worth your time. So don’t waste it! I’ve hunted high and low to find the cream of the crop and here they are – 35 of the best marketing slide decks to watch now. Continue reading 35 All-Time Best Digital Marketing Slide Decks

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A few weeks, I got called out on Inbound.org for writing about six companies doing content marketing well and only listing marketing companies. According to the site’s visitors, marketing to marketers is easy – the examples I shared wouldn’t necessarily translate to those working in other industries.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty confident that solid content marketing principles apply to everyone – in every field. So I did some digging and started investing companies in boring industries and found that there are tons of great examples out there of businesses that are crushing it online.

I’ve shared a few of them below, along with 10 tips you can take from their successes to apply to your own marketing campaigns.

Tip #1 – Become an Expert

Every industry has experts. Marketers are all familiar with guys like Seth Godin and Rand Fishkin – but just because they work as marketers doesn’t mean that examples don’t exist in other fields.

Take Autodesk, for instance. The company has been working hard to establish itself as an authority in the sustainable design field – an industry most people aren’t even aware exists. Largely, it’s done so through the publication of guest blogs to other sites, creating a web of mentions that get the company’s name out there without coming across as overly self-promotional. Continue reading Content Marketing in Boring Industries: 10 Tips from 10 Companies Doing it Right