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Recently, a survey by Software Advice found that 56% of consumers have sought an answer to a question via a website’s live chat feature at least once, while nearly 10% have done so “many times.”

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Further, research from eMarketer (albeit dated, but likely still relevant) discovered that, of those consumers who had used live chat, 65% were more likely to visit the site (on which they used the chat) again, while 27% had actually ended up purchasing more than they initially intended.

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This says to me that there’s heaps of untapped potential out there for anyone who isn’t yet offering a live chat option on their website.

So today, let’s take a look at why and how live chat can help you in your mission to growth hack your company. Skip down a few sections if you’re ready to implement live chat and just want to find out how to utilize it to the best of its potential. Continue reading How To Leverage Live Chat for Marketing & User Acquisition

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A lot of what I do starts with cold emails. Content marketing is all about creating relationships, and you’re not going to be able to do that unless you start putting yourself out there.

The reason that I have been successful with building an audience is because I believe in a help-first, ask questions later approach. I recognize the value in posting a link, mentioning an influencer, and promoting valuable tools—and so I try to do that for others as much as I can. It acts as a pre-emptive olive branch, showing others that my main concern, before I have even so much as an introduction, that I’m here to be helpful.

If you can adopt this philosophy early on, I believe it’s going to help you in every aspect of cold outreach. Be the kind of person that people want to have a relationship with, and it’s going to go far in creating in roads when you do start to reach out. When the time comes, however, you also need to have a strategy for getting your foot in the door, and that’s the art of the cold email. Continue reading The 3 Cold Emails Templates Every Content Marketer Should Use

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Before I jump into today’s post I’d like to offer my awesome readers a free copy of my new ebook: Content Marketing Playbook. Grab your free copy from Amazon.

In July 2012, a then unknown (at least, here in the U.S.) Korean pop artist Park Jae-sang (more commonly known as Psy) released the music video for Gangnam Style. You’ve probably heard of it.

The video took just 48 hours to make and contained no special effects – or, in fact, anything that unusual (cheesy pop videos aren’t exactly a new phenomenon).

And yet, on the day of its release, the video was viewed more than 500,000 times on YouTube. Within two months, it surpassed 5 million views, and in December 2013, the video exceeded 2 billion views, breaking YouTube’s viewer counter.

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That’s pretty impressive stuff. Continue reading A Data-Driven Approach to Going Viral

I (and, I imagine, most of us) have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Upworthy. You can’t deny that they’re pretty damn good at what they do. They’ve figured out a formula for reporting on “things that matter” in an accessible manner, and they stick with this prescriptive style (and really, finding what works for you and sticking with it is sound advice).

On the other hand… while Upworthy didn’t quite invent the “clickbait” headline – you know, those enticing headlines that promise great things but so often lead to disappointment – they certainly were a key player in their spread and misuse.

Yeah, thanks for that one, Upworthy…

That said, for all the poor imitations they’ve spawned, you’ve got to admire what Upworthy has achieved – and you have to admit that there’s a lot we can learn from them. Here are ten marketing strategies that are fundamental to Upworthy’s ongoing success, as well as a look at how you can steal them for yourself: Continue reading 10 Marketing Strategies to Steal from Upworthy

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If you had the choice, would you rather work with a company that delivers mediocre services or one that’s been labeled by reputable sources as an indisputable expert?

It’s no question, really.

Everyone wants to work with experts – the trick is getting yourself and your company recognized in such a fashion.

I’ve talked quite a bit on this blog about the importance of effective personal and professional brands. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Branding yourself as an authority in your field is difficult, which is why you’ve got to take some time to formulate a strategy.

Brand authority is arguably your single most important business asset. If you can get other people to recognize you as an expert, you’ll attract more customers and be able to charge more for your services.

Building online authority also involves a lot of time and a detailed long-term strategy. Far too many brands make the mistake of replicating their competitors’ online branding strategies. Instead, their focus should be on distinguishing themselves by building their own reputations as brand experts.

Importance of Online Authority

The Internet has become one of the most powerful mediums for brands to grow their customer bases of all time. Never before have we had such unparalleled opportunities to reach out, network with others around the world and get our work seen by relevant stakeholders.

According to research from the National Small Business Association, 73% of small businesses utilized social media in 2013 – up from 47% that leveraged it in 2010. But while this opportunity is great for startups, it’s tough for people who want to be recognized for their expertise. With a growing number of brands competing for attention on social media, it takes more effort than ever to get noticed as an authority source. Continue reading How to Build Authority Online

Eighteen months ago, I decided to chase my passion by taking a great opportunity with an incredible company (When I Work) in Minnesota. This was a huge change for me, since it followed the sale of the company that had been my life and blood for more than five years.

Unfortunately, this move meant that for those 18 months, I’d be living away from my wife (FYI: it sucks) and I’d have quite a bit of time to kill.

I’m the kind of guy that needs to keep busy, so by December 2014, after almost a year of doing pretty much nothing else except going to work (and skydiving on the weekends), I began to get really antsy. The need to be doing something a little different got my creative juices flowing, and I started to think up and work on some new ideas.

The first project I really got my teeth into was the growth hacking eBook I wrote with my good friend Rob Wormley: 100 Days of Growth. Now my latest ebook on Content Marketing is up for pre-oder.

Getting the book to completion took around 50 hours each (of my time and Rob’s time), including a whole bunch of time spent testing new marketing tactics.

However, as “that guy” that always needs to be doing something to keep busy, I’m also not the kind of guy to do things halfway. Once I put my mind to something, I work my ass off until it’s finished. This meant that, between my day job and my work on 100 Days of Growth, I spent 6 months working more than 13 hours a day, 6 days a week.

It was tough going, but thankfully, our efforts paid off. The book has been a great success and sold over 10,000 copies, which has given me a ton of confidence as I move forward with other new projects. This is the story of how I did it… Continue reading What I Learned from Working 13.3 Hours a Day, 6 Days a Week

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Ever dreamed of standing on stage and speaking at an event or conference? Yeah, it was never really my dream either (and I live for activities that push my boundaries and get my adrenaline flowing).However…I’ve been on a mission this year to build my personal brand, and there are few better ways to get yourself recognized than by getting up and speaking in front of an audience.

It all started when it was freeeezing cold this past Christmas. I’ve been living in Minnesota for the past year, and if you’re not from around here (or haven’t had the pleasure of visiting during the winter months), you should know that the average December temperatures are around 10-12 degrees. Or – in other words – f’ing  cold.

As is pretty usual for that time of year in Minnesota, there was nothing open. Usually I’d be out fulfilling my winter adrenaline-junkie needs with snowmobiling, but there wasn’t even much snow, so that one was a no go too…

I was pretty bored, so I decided to do something productive with my time and write an ebook on growth hacking (if you haven’t seen it already, you can find it at 100daysofgrowth.com).

While trying to promote the book, I ended up doing a ton of outreach to secure guest posts, which led to me being interviewed on more than 15 podcasts. It was while I was recording those podcasts that I realized how much I love educating people. This prompted me to revisit my quest for speaking at conferences and events.

Ultimately, I ended up securing five new speaking gigs using cold outreach emails and my tool Content Marketer. Want to get your foot in the door for similar speaking opportunities? Here’s how I did it… Continue reading How I Got 5 Speaking Engagements Using Cold Outreach

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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