Month: February 2015

Excuse Me, Your Data is Showing


You don’t want to be caught with your data exposed.

If your organization is still struggling with data management, you are at risk of drowning in it and missing out on critical customer insights. The goal this year for digital marketers should be to make all of that “big data” compact, through an increased investment in analytics.

Excuse Me, Your Data is Showing Digital Marketing

Why? A new year brings new opportunities for digital marketers of all levels to expand their marketing strategies. But to truly be successful in 2015, brands have to adopt a data-driven philosophy, specifically to understand their customers. Forrester Research doesn’t lie, and "The Age of The Customer" is real.

Prioritizing your analytics means prioritizing your customer and that should be the #1 focus for businesses, regardless of size, scale, or scope/maturity.

Related Class: Web Analytics Fundamentals for a Data-Driven World

The year 2014 was plagued with the term “big data.”

The truth is, it doesn’t matter how you label it--big, small or in between. No matter the size, the ability to put it into action is what will differentiate successful brands. Gartner, a leading information technology research company, found that this year alone, “big data demand” will reach 4.4 million jobs globally, but only one-third of those jobs will be filled. These numbers are a reflection of companies recognizing the need for these skills in their organizations to collect and interpret the rich amount of data available, but there is not enough supply in the market to keep pace. Make it a top priority and beat your competitor to the punch.

While it may sound scary, the steps to improving and building your analytics practice can be broken down into two simple categories: infrastructure and insights.

Excuse Me, Your Data is Showing Digital Marketing - Brad Messinger
Infrastructure is pretty self explanatory, you’ve got to invest in the people, process, and technology. Does your organization have a commitment to understanding its customers better?

Have you invested in building your analytics practice?

Is it informing your marketing decisions and creating better experiences for customers?

These skills are not typically native to marketing and there is a big shift taking place from the "Mad Men" of old to the "Math Men" of new. You want to make sure you have “data masters” that are comfortable living and breathing in information, the process to activate against it, and the technology to do it at scale.

Related Class: Big Data Driven Strategies for Analytics

Insights go hand-in-hand with infrastructure.

Now that you have the plumbing in place, you need to be able to take action. Things like testing and conversion rate optimization, cross-functional intelligence, and attribution are all done on the insights side.

This allows you to constantly focus on using the data to guide your marketing investments and continuously optimizing to maximize the impact. With appropriate investments in both areas, digital marketers will be well on their way to a successful, data-driven 2015.


Marketing to Millennials: How to Reach and Convert Gen Y


Full disclosure: I fall squarely into the millennial demographic, so I’m hardly an impartial judge on this subject. But I’ve also got a lot of experience with this generation, since I’ve worked hard to market to them, and also know what it’s like to be marketed to as one of them. There are a lot of brands doing it right, and a lot of brands that completely miss the mark.

First off, we don’t like to be called the “selfie generation,” and we’re not ignoring your content because we can’t stop watching Grumpy Cat videos. We are using our devices but are not glued to them, thank you very much. We are smart, careful consumers who look for deals, and we know that our friends and family give better advice than celebrity-stuffed TV ads. We’re 27% of the US population, so even if you think your market isn’t millennials, you can’t afford to ignore us (unless you’re AARP, I guess). The stats on this demographic are in, and they say a lot – not only about how we should be marketing, but also about how we should be facilitating their needs in the sales funnel and purchasing process.

Word of Mouth Matters

Hubspot recently released a great infographic about how the millennial consumer shops, lives and interacts, and it really highlights one of the central characteristics of this generation: their reliance on word of mouth when it comes to purchasing decisions.

marketing to millennials

You almost can’t overstate the importance of reviews and referrals for millennial buyers. Almost 70% couldn’t care less about celebrity endorsements, because they’d rather read reviews and talk to friends and family. 93% of millennials (including me!) read reviews before buying; for me it’s because I know I can find out more about the real quality of a product from reviews than from that dazzling, buzz-wordy product description at the top of the page.

How to Help Millennials Shop Your Stuff

So what does this emphasis on WOM mean for businesses that want to bring in millennial customers? My takeaways from this come down to three things:

1.  Make reviews a big feature of your product or service pages, and encourage or even incentivize review-writing for your current customers when they buy.

2.  Make sure that reviews are easily viewed on mobile devices – millennials prefer to browse that way, but they won’t stick around if they can’t access reviews on your mobile site.

3.  Proactively include testimonials and reviews in your marketing content and social media activity, and make it easy for customers to share and review your products or brand on social media. Almost 60% of millennials will make product recommendations when they have a very good, or very bad, experience.

Sale-Savvy Browsing and Shopping

Millennials came of age during the Great Recession, and believe me, it hasn’t been easy for us! But it has made smart shoppers of my generation; we are technology natives who know how to find a deal online, and care more about price than brand loyalty for the most part.

According to CMSWire, 55% of millennials will switch brands for sales, and 63% will purchase brands that aren’t favorites if they’re on sale. You can include me in those numbers as well – online shopping makes it easy to compare prices across brands, and even marketplaces like Amazon, so as shoppers we have more information than ever before about value.

marketing to millennials

Millennials are also at the forefront of tech-shopping trends like showrooming to get the best prices (2 out of 3 millennials use mobile apps while shopping in-store), and reverse-showrooming to research the best options before buying in person (71% of millennials).

How to Sell to Sale-Hunters

Three steps that can help you draw in millennials looking for sales or savings:

1.  Make sure you promote your sales where millennials are – on social media like Facebook (almost 90%), Twitter (nearly 60%) and even Instagram (34%). (Stats courtesy of AdWeek.)

2.  Don’t just write an update about a sale on your Facebook Page – create a sharable image or video that grabs more attention in the feed, and ranks higher in Facebook’s content algorithm.

3.  Know your price is better than the competitor’s? Say so. Are your products comparable to a fancy brand name but much less expensive? Market that fact.

Coupons, Vouchers & Social Shopping

After shopping online for a few years, I have pretty set habits. A crucial step before I decide to buy? Browsing around for coupons or voucher codes that will knock the price down a little. I learned this behavior because it works, and many millennials have too; in fact, 60% of millennials follow brands on social media to get deals and coupons.

marketing to millennials

I check the brand’s Facebook Page and Twitter feed to see if they’re sharing any discount codes, and failing that I sign up for the mailing list. That first welcome email usually comes with a 10% off code, or free shipping code, or something similar. Sites like RetailMeNot and Groupon offer discounts on popular brands, and millennials know where to look. In total, deals account for 31% of millennials’ shopping dollars.

How to Tempt Millennials with Vouchers

If you’re not already capitalizing on the millennial weakness for coupons, here’s how to start:

1.  Give them the content they want through your social channels: coupons. It’s a great way to reward users for connecting with you socially, and they’ll take note.

2.  Make it clear that there’s a discount incentive for connecting with you on social media, or signing up for the mailing list. Have a homepage header declaring 10% off when you join the mailing list, or offer voucher codes for the next 20 Twitter followers.

3.  Consider offering your products or services through Groupon or similar social buying platforms, to reach new audiences and tempt deal-hunting millennials.

Millennials have high expectations for your marketing, whether it’s email, social, or more traditional means. They’ve learned to love customized, targeted marketing that meets their needs, and they want content that speaks to their concerns, like cost and personal recommendations. If you want to bring this blockbuster demographic into your customer base, you’ll have to meet them on their ground, and check all the right boxes first.

Want to learn more about targeting millennials in your marketing for maximum effect? Check out this OMI class: Targeting Millennials on Social & Mobile.


How Sweating the Small Stuff Will Lead You to Marketing Success


Parts of your digital marketing experience stink. I guarantee it. There are dead ends you know about on your web site. There are mobile mishaps you understand need to be fixed. And yet, here we are.

Now that we're getting into 2015, we're facing yet another year with BIG goals and mostly stepping over those smaller obstacles in your marketing path.

How Sweating the Small Stuff Will Lead You to Marketing Success
Yes, mobile should be first and podcasts will be a priority.

However, I encourage anyone focused on digital marketing to start sweating the small stuff. If you don't care about your micro interactions - those small, often overlooked make-or-break interactions - then your competitors will.

Make 2015 the year of minutiae!

Related Class: Building Your Mobile Strategy

Maybe this seems crazy at a time when most marketers are being asked to predict traffic and conversion numbers in big terms, but let me make this case for you.

A microinteraction is often something we know is a hinderance to the overall experience. We see that error message randomly and realize it doesn't offer any direction for the user and strikes the wrong tone. Our email newsletters are me, me, me instead of focused on the reader. We know these things. But we don't change them.

How Sweating the Small Stuff Will Lead You to Marketing Success - Jeannie Walters

So instead of losing yourself in big goals, consider the small ones. Can you make it your mission to tackle the micro interactions in your digital marketing?

Here are a few places to start:

What do your users want to do on mobile? If it's likely they'll be searching for contact information via mobile, make it front and center for them!

Where do your prospects get lost? If your digital sales process is tricky or requires lots of waiting for your prospects, it's time to clean it up! Try micro mapping the experience and determining where a small change, like offering live help, could make a big difference.

Related Class: 8 Steps to Creating Content Your Audience Will Love

How can you help your customers find their way? If customers get lost, is there clear direction for them on what to do next? Our favorite examples of this include humor and direction.

It's time to think small! Make a list of the things you know are troubling to your digital experience. Be honest. I bet you can find 3 things to fix immediately.

Don't get lost in a sea of big goals that overshadow these small moments. These are the moments that matter!


eCommerce in the Mobile Age: How Shoppers Want to Browse and Buy in 2015


As mobile devices grow more and more ubiquitous every year, it makes sense that mobile would also be the way that many online shoppers expect to interact with your business. For the most part, businesses have jumped onboard with mobile-based sites or responsive design, which is great news for users (and if you haven’t – what are you even doing here? Get on that!). But there are still major differences between the most effective buying process for a mobile user, and the process for a shopper browsing on a desktop computer.

mobile shopping

Recognizing the habits and idiosyncrasies of mobile users who choose to shop on their devices can go a long way towards tightening up your sales funnel and increasing conversions on mobile – assuming that you take the steps to address their needs, desires and frustrations. Here’s a look at some trends (and lessons) for those who are riding the mobile eCommerce wave as it continues to rise.

Huge Increases in Mobile Shopping and Browsing

eCommerce platform Shopify recently released an interactive report/infographic detailing their year in review. While Shopify is just one slice of the eCommerce pie, the trends they’ve seen are happening across the board on a grand scale. Shopify’s eCommerce shops saw huge growth in mobile visits, and mobile traffic finally surpassed desktop traffic for the first time ever in August 2014. A third of total Shopify orders were made from mobile devices, up 175% from 2012.

Related Class: Mobile Web & Responsive Design Fundamentals

It’s big growth, and it’s not just in eCommerce land; Cisco’s annual report tells us that average smartphone usage increased 45% in 2014, with global mobile data traffic rising 69% overall. Basically the growth is twofold: more and more people are getting smartphones or mobile devices (nearly half a million added in 2014 alone), and then individual usage on those devices is increasing as well. Using your device for just about everything is easier and quicker now then ever before, mostly due to faster data speeds (thanks 4G!), better network coverage, and better browser functionality since mobile or responsive sites are essentially the norm now.

Mobile Buying Still Lags Behind

So with all those staggering statistics about mobile browsing, why aren’t most of our sales and conversions coming from mobile traffic? The answer seems to be that, even for those who often shop online, it’s more of a window-shopping spree than a buying spree. It’s common for users to browse and shop on their mobile devices, and then actually purchase from a computer. This isn’t news to me since I absolutely fall into that shopper category.

mobile ecommerce

I’m the stereotypical “on-the-go” mobile shop browser, since I often shop on the bus home from work, in a cafe waiting for a meeting, etc. Because of this, I’m really unlikely to buy on my device unless it’s very, very easy and quick to do so. Amazon, for example, keeps my card on file so I don’t need to take out my credit card if I’m mobile-shopping at a coffee shop (over public wi-fi, I might add). Online shops that take PayPal are also a lot more likely to get a purchase from me because it’s convenient and quick.

But that’s just me – this article from ConversionXL has some great insights on what difficulties cause mobile users to abandon their carts before purchase. My MVP (Most Valuable Point) in the article? Because mobile sites are simpler and more pared-down, many users feel like they aren’t getting the whole picture on a product and can’t commit to buying; whether it’s more images, product specs, descriptive text or user reviews, they need to see more. ConversionXL suggests giving users the option (a simple link on the product page) to view the full desktop site instead, and I think that’s a smart and simple solution for users who need more to go on (I definitely fall into this category too!). Just make sure that link routes users to the desktop version of that product page – not your desktop homepage – or you’ll definitely lose them.

Reverse Show-rooming On the Rise

Show-rooming, if you’re not familiar with the term, is when shoppers come into a brick-and-mortar store to see or perhaps try on an item, but then use their devices to purchase online at a cheaper price. It was a big hazard for retailers losing out to discount eCommerce shops or Amazon-type marketplaces, but now the trend is toward the opposite practice: reverse show-rooming, when shoppers browse for and research products online, and then visit a store to purchase. A Harris poll reports that 69% of people reverse showroom now, whereas only 46% showroom.

The two major advantages of shopping at a retail location are the ability to try on/try out the item, and the ability to take it home immediately. For those who want that mobile conversion (instead of just browsing and researching) it can help to offer faster delivery, in-store pick ups, and free returns by mail or in-store. A discount coupon on your mobile site for first-time visitors wouldn’t go amiss either!

mobile shopping

Boosting your mobile sales can be a tricky undertaking, but the trends are, after all, on your side. Users are largely becoming more comfortable browsing and buying on their mobile devices, so as long as you are smoothing the path toward a final purchase in every way you can, the only direction for sales to go is up!

Want to learn more about the kinks in your sales funnel that are losing you sales? Check out this class: Measurement and Testing for eCommerce with Google Analytics.



Are Your Marketing Efforts Focused on Business Results?


Each year we are exposed to stories that sound something like “The Top 10 ______ You Need to Do in 20__.

This is not one of those stories.

Are Your Marketing Efforts Focused on Business Results? Bernie Borges

Rather than provide a list of things you should consider doing with your business this year, I’m only going to suggest one thing. This one thing is in the context of how you approach digital marketing and social media in 2015. For that matter, it's how you approach your overall marketing plans this year.

Related Class: Digital Marketing Strategy & Planning Framework

Since about 2005 (10 years now), everyone has been following the shiny objects of the digital world. From Twitter to Instagram, people and brands have flocked to these shiny objects mostly with a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) strategy. This is reactive, not proactive. Which means they're largely lacking a true strategy.

Even the largest brands have been fearful of missing out by not participating in social media. No wonder the focus has long been on measuring vanity numbers such as fans, followers, retweets, click throughs, share of voice, etc.

Are Your Marketing Efforts Focused on Business Results? Social Media Strategy

In 2015 it’s time we focus on just one thing….business results. Here’s an example. One of our clients experienced a decrease in inbound traffic to their website and a decrease in leads. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it. Oh contraire! The business result was higher quality leads that resulted in more sales opportunities and closed sales.

The tactics that impacted these results are too detailed for this article. Suffice it to say, we took a dramatic shift in the content strategy, which had better business results. But, if you study just the surface numbers, it doesn’t look good. The traffic line and leads line both declined. But, with true business results improving, that’s the only thing that matters.

Related Class: How to Create a Winning Content Strategy

Every business is unique. Ask yourself what’s not producing business results and what is. Don’t be influenced by trends. Heck, if direct mail produces business results, keep doing direct mail. In 2015, resolve to focus on doing the things that generate business results without the temptation to chase shiny objects.

It’s okay to experiment with your marketing efforts. I encourage it. But, acknowledge what is an experiment and limit it to about 10% of your efforts. Channel 90% of your efforts into those marketing tactics that create real, measurable and relevant business results. Your C-Suite will thank you for it.


Why Your Business Needs to Stop Some Social Media Right Now


Despite all the Mashable articles, Gary Vaynerchuks, and whatever other technological higher powers people follow these days, the majority of digital marketing tips out there are just noise.

I want to make 2015 badass for your business. Allow me to hold up a mirror.

Why Your Business Needs to Stop Some Social Media Right Now Phil Pallen

I don't even need to look at your company's social media platforms to know that you're existing on too many. Marketers love to spread themselves out, thinking that a duplicated message on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Ello is enough to flag down a devout following.

Related Class: 10 Essentials to a Social Media Marketing Strategy

Minimal marketing effort means minimal impact. Being lazy will not get you noticed. There are no shortcuts.

Every social platform comes with specific expectations from its users. People are motivated on Twitter differently than they are on Facebook.

Do your company a favor and select three (maximum) social media platforms for marketing and drop all others until you've earned a killer following. Take time to hone in on each of those three channels. Publish insightful, creative and opinionated content to satisfy the unique needs of every platform's audience.

Why Your Business Needs to Stop Some Social Media Right Now

You've probably noticed an increase in company transparency online over the years. As consumers, we love getting that inside look at a business' everyday activities.

For example, Warby Parker posts infographics about employees' first concerts. Madewell creates Rdio playlists inspired by their staff's favorite decade of the moment. Chipotle finishes all tweets with the name of whichever individual sent that interaction. (Thanks, Joe.)

And so on.

Related Class: How to Create Brand Advocacy on Social Media

This year, set aside your lame promotion rhymes in favor of considerate transparency on every social media touchpoint. Simply existing isn't enough anymore. There are enough bozos out there doing that.

The only thing that matters is what your audience wants, and they'd much rather interact with people over logos. Do as I say and you'll be laughing by 2016.


How to Use Video Content in Your Marketing Strategy to Engage & Convert


Super Bowl ads are always big news, whether you’re in the marketing industry or not. As a Patriots fan I’ll admit my eyes were glued to the screen for reasons other than professional marketing curiosity, but Super Bowl Sunday was a win for more than just my team. The advertising was, for the most part, memorable.  And more than ever before, it was largely experienced via YouTube.

The video service announced that as of Friday, Super Bowl XLIX ad viewing was up 4% from all 2014 Super Bowl ad viewing combined – 7 million hours watched up until February 6th, compared to 6.3 million hours last year total. Many major ads were released on YouTube even before the big game, and almost all were teased in some way on the platform. For the record, my favorite was the Snickers/Brady Bunch ad.

funny video content

Since I’m a writer, when you say content, I typically think written content. But video is clearly the way many of us consume content now, whether it’s informative, salesy or fun. All the big brands are (wisely) already well aboard the video content bandwagon, but small businesses have definitely struggled to make video their own. It’s understandable – video content is trickier and more time-consuming to produce and get right than written content or photos, but it doesn’t have to be an impossible task.

YouTube is Still Home for Video Content

Though other platforms are definitely trying to increase their share of the market, YouTube is still where most users get their video content. If your business produces a video, whether it’s an ad or a product teaser, YouTube is the natural host for that content. It’s versatile and easy to embed and link to, and users trust it because it’s familiar. You can use that video content anywhere, from your website to your social media channels.

Related Class: B2B Video: Expert Tactics and Tricks

That said, I would not recommend that you upload to YouTube and then call it a day. If you plan on sharing that video content through your Facebook page, there are major advantages to uploading the video directly to Facebook, in addition to YouTube. You can, of course, just link to the YouTube video in a Facebook post – but you’ll lose a lot of reach and other benefits.

The Case for Native Facebook Video

We all know that the Facebook overlords decide which of our posts reach a sizable audience, and how many eyes those posts actually get in front of. Those Facebook algorithms favor Facebook videos over other types of content, so uploading your video content to Facebook – as opposed to just linking to your YouTube video in a post – will reach many, many more people.

After all, Facebook doesn’t make a dime when you click on a YouTube video link, and that’s their big competition! It’s only natural they’d favor their own native content over exterior links that pull you out of the platform. Facebook videos also offer better mobile functionality than links to YouTube videos, because they autoplay video content.

The Video Advantage

I saw the Facebook video advantage in action this week after posting a video for the arts non-profit I work for. We operate in many ways like a small business (since much of our marketing is about selling tickets to performances), so we’ve been trying to get more video content into our social media platforms. I sat in on soundcheck, recorded 30 seconds of video, and uploaded to our Facebook page on February 5th. 

Video content

You can see there’s a major spike in reach on the 5th – to date it's seen 463 sets of eyes, well above our average of around 100 (don’t laugh, we’re small but growing!). Facebook’s Insights will break it down for you in detail – how many people watched, how long they watched for, and whether they clicked through to your website.

Making Content that Connects

But posting video isn’t just a clever ploy to reach more people and sell more tickets – for us it’s a way to connect our Facebook followers with what we’re doing and our brand and organization as a whole. Not everybody buys tickets to our shows, but as art/culture/music lovers they can enjoy the video as freestanding, interesting content.

If your business advertises on TV, you should definitely be sharing that content via social media videos as well, as we saw with this year’s Super Bowl ads. But there are many types of video content that are relatively simple and inexpensive to generate, and even small businesses can typically do them in-house with a little bit of practice. And if Facebook advertising is your thing, you can turn your best or most successful Facebook videos into paid ads within the platform.

Video Content Reach

Think about product and service demonstrations or informational, how-to product videos. Social media audiences also love to look behind the scenes, whether it’s at an event (like soundcheck) or just a day at the office. Video content like this will humanize your business, connecting viewers with your staff and your brand, and not just your products or services.

Learn more about incorporating your own videos into your content and social strategy in this class: Video Marketing & YouTube 101.


3 Macro Trends Driving Massive Growth for Digital Coaches


Here are the Top 3 Macro Trends that are creating incredible opportunities for digital coaches around the world. Following that are my 4 proven tactics that top experts are using to accelerate their personal brands and launch powerful businesses.

Trend 1: Business Economics Work aka Proliferation of the Collaborative Economy

Giving consumers direct access to products and expertise is where it’s at. By skipping the big corporations and going right to the person selling the service or product is the way of the future. From eBay to Kickstarter, PopExpert to Craigslist, this is evident. The emergence of great Business-to-Business-to-Consumer platforms like Uber, Kickstarter, and even Amazon further sets the tone for this paradigm shift.

These are all lining the path to giving an outlet for those with great products/services to reach the masses. And this will only accelerate in 2015.

Related Class: Social Collaboration: Turning Loyalty into Demand


Trend 2: Video Above All Other Content

It’s clear. Video is where most everyone spends their time. 70% of online time is spent viewing video. Not even Facebook can match that. Consumers are ready, willing, and able (to pay) to engage with either live video or on-demand in a massively adopted way.

3 Macro Trends Driving Massive Growth for Digital Coaches Video Coaching


Trend 3: The Mass Movement of Entrepreneurial Empowerment

The need to run your own business, control your own destiny and just have the gumption to do it is here .. and in a big way.  So with so many offering their knowledge as service on it’s own, the market has just gotten a lot bigger and critical mass of options for consumers is now in place.


The question then becomes… How do I take advantage of these macro trends and grow my business?

As an expert in any discipline, from Digital Marketing to Mindful-Life Coach, Yoga Instructor, and Nutritionist, it’s simply the cost of doing business to have a good plan to capture and ride this big wave of change.

The formula is simple:

1.)   Have a powerful digital presence that creates opportunities to discover and engage with new clients.

2.)   Create a strong reputation for yourself and back that up with credibility online.

3.)   Provide compelling ways to engage with your knowledge.


Here are the top 4 tactics that successful digital coaches are using to drive more customer acquisition in 2015.


1. Capture Google - Blog

Creating high quality, meaningful blog content is the most important component to being great. It's a simple, easy, and highly achievable tactic. Having the discipline to write every week and build a great series of posts that demonstrates your knowledge and thought leadership will go miles for building your online reputation.

The key is doing research to the topical pain points you want to help people with, and then build a content publishing calendar for yourself that you stick to.


2. Capture Apple - Podcast

An incredible amount of traffic comes through iTunes. If you can create a good podcast series that aligns with your blog calendar, you will build a set of subscribers and followers that engage with multiple content mediums from within your arsenal. Good audio equipment is a must. 

3 Macro Trends Driving Massive Growth for Digital Coaches

3. Online Video

This is the secret sauce. Once you have great written content, video is the next logical step, and it gives you an opportunity to connect with your audience on a much deeper level. Your personality, your passion, your energy. Only video captures that completely.

Creating a series of high quality videos (consider renting a nice camera or partner with someone willing to co-create quality video that has a crew) goes much further to demonstrate your knowledge. You can utilize the existing presentations you already give at conferences or clients, and turn it into a video series that someone can actually purchase. This will show that you can provide a high amount of value for your clients.

There are 4 general types of video formats to consider:

  • On-Demand eLearning
  • Studio Quality Video Teasers
  • Good Ole Webinar (screen share video)
  • Live Video Coaching

Be careful to not to get lulled into thinking Google Hangouts or Skype is the answer to doing live video coaching well. It's now scalable and isn't very professional. Scheduling, payment systems, and a great user interface (my favorite example is PopExpert’s video coaching platform), will make you stand out from all that say “let’s just get on Skype” chatter and will save you an awkward ask for their credit card information.

Related Class: How to Engage Top Experts Using Video


4. Third Party Validation (the Online Referral)

Getting customers and other reputable experts to talk about you and share their great experiences with the world is the final leg in the stool. You need to get people to rate, review, and write about you & your work. Not just on Facebook and Twitter but across all web domains.

Third party credit building sites that drive good ratings and reviews are imperative. LinkedIn for the B2B side is critical. Yelps style platforms like the aforementioned PopExpert, will get you listed and allow you to host some good client ratings and testimonial style reviews.

Socially Shareable content is a must. The social proof of people sharing your content, retweeting it, and doing it all on your own profile, blog, or website is key. When folks see a blog post and notice that 100 other people have already tweeted it and 30 more shared it on facebook, your reputation will instantly jump. More importantly, Google SERPs love social validation, and this will push you up dramatically in the rankings.

In summary, get on the front end and top of these macro-societal trends. Build a great online presence with the Content Marketing tactics above, and you'll be on the fast track to growing your digital coaching business.


What Google’s New .How Top Level Domain Means for Marketers


Today, Google made available the purchase of .how domain names available to the general public. This is huge for digital marketers and coaches around the world.

Google's aim with this new Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) is to make it easier for businesses and individuals to share content & teach people how to do something. With the online education industry projected to grow well into the $100's of Billions in the next few years, the new .How domain extension provides an incredible opportunity to those looking to showcase their knowledge.

If you're ready to pick up your .How Domain, head over to Get.How (by Google) and get started now.

How to Get a .How Domain Name Google's New Top Level Domain Extension for Marketers


As a marketer, you're at the front lines of discovering new customers, educating them about your products or services, and showing them how you can help achieve their goals. There are many ways this new TLD can positively impact your business.

There are already a number of businesses and individuals that are using .how domains, to showcase their skills and offer eLearning opportunities to people around the world. If you want to learn how to skydive, how to be a better cook, or how to win in a sword fight, then you're in luck. With a .how domain extension, these businesses are poised to experience some major SEO benefits for search terms around "how to ..." when it comes to their specific niches.

Related Class: The Marketer's Secret to Content Marketing Success

Let's say you're in the SaaS (Software as a Service) industry and your product is a CRM tool that helps businesses track their customers actions and qualifies them as sales leads when they complete certain steps within your selling process. You're likely spending a lot of time educating your sales leads (and customers) on how your product is going to provide value and help them close more deals.

We know that content marketing is rapidly becoming one of the best ways to reach and engage new customers. From the example above, in order to help educate your customers and attract new sales leads, you could create a new website on a .how domain that's designed around the concept of giving out free (unbiased) advice for business owners on how to grow their sales funnels.

How to Get a .How Domain Name Google's New Top Level Domain Extension Creating Compelling Content for Marketers

Launching a new platform that features genuinely beneficial educational videos, regular blog content, downloadable free resources, and offers a way to get in touch with your business for personalized advice, is a great strategy for building trust and a powerful reputation within your industry. If you're looked to as an authority on how to convert leads into customers, and you're a source of meaningful content for businesses looking to do exactly that, then you're really going to solidify your position in the marketplace.

As Google's CIO, Ben Fried put it, "embracing .how is a great opportunity for companies and individuals to improve how they reach and engage thinkers and people who want to learn."

Whether you take advantage of Google's new .how domain extensions or not, you can't afford to miss out on the opportunities that are created when you become an online authority on a topic deeply connected to your business. If you're looking for some tips on how to kick off your content marketing strategy, check out our awesome class on Executing a Winning Content Marketing Program.


How to Use Timely Content Marketing to Boost Your Brand


As marketers, we ask a lot of our content. It needs to be evergreen and current at the same time, succinct but still in-depth, niche enough for specific demographics and broad enough for widespread shareability. Those are hard points to hit all the time – which is why many smart businesses rely on variety to reach the widest audience with the best content. timely content marketingTimely content is something that often falls through the gaps in a content marketing strategy, for many reasons. Think about it – even the best editorial calendar can’t predict big news stories, and often pre-planned content means that you’re not keeping an eye out for current ideas that could translate to blogs, social media posts, etc. I’m a big believer in strong editorial planning, so this isn’t a critique; it’s just a fact of life for content marketers.

Related Class: Best Practices for Integrated Content Marketing and Social Media

There are two ways to finesse some well-timed, current content into your marketing schedule: first, schedule in timely posts based on predictable events (holidays, seasons changing, local festivals, etc.), and second, allow enough flexibility in the calendar to fit in current news and unscheduled events as they arise. Timely content in your blog is great for SEO, but you can also use it to boost engagement on social media, and spark email campaigns that feel more urgent and current to recipients. Let’s break it down.

Well-Timed Email Campaigns

For most of us, email marketing campaigns are relatively formulated – well-thought out, tried and tested content that we’ve seen work. But they can feel that way to recipients, too, so anything outside of that mold really stands out. That’s why, at the start of the (rather underwhelming) “Blizzard of 2015,” I was so pleasantly surprised to see the below email in my inbox from Audible:

content marketing

It’s clever, it’s cute, and it’s oh-so-appropriately timed: the weather event hitting all of the Northeast united us in couch-bound boredom. I’m already Audible’s ideal email recipient since my addiction to audiobooks requires very little encouragement, but the timing on this was perfect – right at the start of the storm when we’re all wondering what to do. Shopping online takes a time commitment, whether it’s audiobooks, tech gadgets or stilettos, and we all have more time on a snow day! Audible already has a very scheduled, regular email marketing strategy, but that regular schedule doesn’t preclude the odd timely, funny or topical email. Take a page from Audible’s playbook by sending occasional email content that speaks to timely events, whether it’s weather, holidays or local events. It will stand out in inboxes!

Current Social Media Posts

Piggybacking on current events isn’t new in the world of social media, but it is effective. These are, after all, the content channels that update constantly, and where people go to talk about what’s happening when it’s happening. I’m not going to get into newsjacking too much here since it’s such a big topic, but you can read more in my blog poston the subject. Timely content doesn’t have to be, or feel like, newsjacking – there are many topics that are current and on-point without feeling like bandwagon marketing opportunities. A few key rules I have for timely social media content:

  • Pick topics that are relevant to either your business/industry, or your customers’ interests/industries.
  • Don’t stretch it: if it doesn’t feel relevant, don’t bother.
  • It’s also safe to use topics that are so widespread that no one could miss them (read: Super Bowl), or that apply to everyone regardless of interests (holidays, seasons changing, etc.)
  • Don’t always be selling. Sometimes posts can just be posts!

Check out this great timely post from a vineyardlocal to me – we’re getting lots of snow and the Groundhog did not have good news yesterday! It’s funny, current, and not pushing a sale:

content marketing

Most horrible examples you’ve seen of poor newsjacking or timely social media content violate that last tenet above – I think we’ve all probably seen some cringe-worthy Veterans Day or MLK Day sales posts. Just say no to tasteless timeliness.

Timely Blog Content that Lasts

Timely blog content is a good idea, obviously. But the best timely content also has an evergreen element to it – otherwise it becomes almost immediately useless to site visitors. My advice for crafting timely yet evergreen blog content is to focus on high quality, informational content, viewed through the lens of a current event, season, news story, etc.

Related Class: Strategic Blogging: The Why and the How

Try popular, successful elements like advice, how to’s, lessons, and tips, but married to a well-timed subject. For example, a detergent company might write about the best ways to get grass stains out, just in time for the start of summer soccer leagues. And if I were selling footwear, you can bet I’d write about how to waterproof them and protect against salt stains right before the next snowstorm. Those things feel current, but wouldn’t seem at all outdated if organic search traffic finds its way there out of season. Incorporating timely topics into your content marketing strategy should be a balance between scheduled and improvised content, always undertaken with an eye to good taste and your overall brand image and voice.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out this class, Realtime Marketing for Socially Shareable Content. You’ll learn how to keep up with the demands of creating the current content that users want, and how to maintain a good schedule for everything you’re producing.