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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Website Bogged Down?


In the past 150 years, peat farmers in northern Europe have found about 1,000 so-called bog men, those accidentally mummified curiosities now thought to have been failed kings.

Your customers have a better chance of finding a bog man than they do your website, if your site's outdated.

That's because Google feeds on freshness, says Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group.

And because freshness equals relevance to Google, you have to keep your site fresh. You need to:
  • Attract new backlinks from other (authoritative) sites.
  • Add new pages to your site (20-30% more each year).
    • Publish new content consistently.
    • Freshen up your old content regularly, revising outdated statements, fixing broken links, adding new visuals, etc.
    • Encourage and respond to comments.
    When ranking your site, Google loves to see steady increases in click-throughs and dwell-time. You won't earn those, unless you keep your website fresh.

    Your old content may once have been king. Today it's just a curiosity.

    Friday, February 24, 2017

    Give and Take


    There are only two types of speakers in the world: the givers and the takers.

    Why the takers don't "get it" mystifies.

    You can plug your ears and still spot a taker by observing his audience. Everyone's mobile comes out within the first 120 seconds.

    "Reputation is everything," Chris Anderson says in TED Talks.

    "You want to build a reputation as a generous person, bringing something wonderful to your audiences, not as a tedious self-promoter. It's boring and frustrating to be pitched to, especially when you're expecting something else."

    TED actively discourages speakers even from subtle pitches, such as mentioning a funding shortfall or using a book as a prop.

    Anderson compares the encounter with a taker at a conference to the coffee break you agree to have with a friend who within minutes reveals she wants to tell you all about her "must-invest time-share scheme."

    Giving, on the other hand, evokes a response. Delivering stories, insights, humor and revelations leaves audiences ready to buy.

    Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Content Precedes Connection


    Before the web, organizing a successful B2B event was child's play, as easy as saying, "Hey, kids, let's put on a show!"

    But content shock has made event organizing hard. 

    Really hard.

    If you want to attract a content-shocked audience today, you'd better get your own content right, says Ricardo Molina, cofounder of Bright Bull. 

    "Marketing B2B brand events is basically impossible to do successfully unless you have this step done right," Molina says.

    Your ability to identify content that connects can only come from one place, as Warwick Davies, owner of The Event Mechanic!, says: "Knowing what’s going on in your market from a DNA level."

    "Imported" knowledge of your market won't cut it.

    Scratch any failed B2B event and, under the skin, you'll likely find the organizer got the content wrong.

    "Get your event content straight," Molina says. "Make sure it's the kind of stuff people want to hear about. Make sure you're offering something that's definitely going to drag them away from their desks and into a room with you."

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    9 Easy Ways to Increase Your Conversion Rate


    Sarah Smith contributed today's post. She works for an online resource for beginning bloggers, StartBloggingOnline.com.

    There are lots of reasons your website draws traffic that doesn't convert to sales. 

    One is content. You might think you have the best website out there: it looks good, is colorful, and has all the necessary images and videos. But none of that matters, if visitors don’t get anything of value from your site. Visitors need not just information about your products, but about their benefits. Simply labeling them isn't enough. You need to explain their advantages and lasting impact, and prove why visitors should open their pocketbooks.

    Another reason is staleness. You need to keep updating your site with fresh information. You can’t feel complacent just because you have gone live and the site looks amazing. You need to keep providing useful updates, and interacting with visitors to make them feel like you appreciate their visits.

    Here's an infographic with more tips for converting traffic into sales.





    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    The Storytelling Trifecta



    How often do you encounter content posing an idea, but nothing else?

    An idea for a story isn't a story, says writing coach Larry Brooks, "unless you juice it with some combination of the Trifecta elements."

    Each single element of the Trifecta "stands alone as a potential windfall;" all three combined are "pure gold."

    Intrigue. "A story is often a proposition, a puzzle, a problem and a paradox," Brooks says. Intrigue arises "when you (the reader) find yourself hooked because you have to know what happens… or whodunnit… or what the underlying answers are." But intrigue need not depend on drama or mystery. "Sometimes intrigue is delivered by the writing itself. A story without all that much depth or challenge can be a lot of fun, simply because the writer is funny. Or scary. Or poetic. Or brilliant on some level that lends the otherwise mundane a certain relevance and resonance."

    Emotional resonance. A story provokes a feeling, Brooks says. "It makes us cry. Laugh. It makes us angry. It frightens, it seduces, it confounds and compels. Every love story, every story about injustice and pain and children and reuniting with families and forgiveness—name your theme—is dipping into the well of emotional resonance for its power."

    Vicarious experience
    . A story takes for a ride we'll remember. The juice of a story "isn’t so much the dramatic question or the plucking of your heart strings as much as the ride itself," Brooks says. "The places you’ll go, the things you’ll see, the characters you’ll encounter, the things you’ll experience." A story gives you "
    an E-ticket on the Slice of Life attraction."

    Monday, February 20, 2017

    Microcontent Do's and Don'ts

    Web guru Jakob Nielsen doesn't push ideas he hasn't lab-tested.

    So you'd do well to heed his advice on microcontent, those phrases and fragments that mean so much to sales.

    "Microcontent should be an ultrashort abstract of its associated content, written in plain language, with no puns, and no 'cute' or 'clever' wordings," Nielsen says.

    "Although it can be punchy, most importantly it must deliver good content, keep people’s interest alive, and provide value."

    Page titles help search engines index your web pages. They're also what customers read in search results. When you write them, be sure to:
    • Put keywords up front to catch customers' attention
    • Include keywords that boost the content’s ranking
    • Omit unnecessary words to improve scalability
    Headlines are "pick-up lines," in two senses. They create a first impression; and they're often picked up and displayed in news feeds, social media streams, and blog posts. So be sure yours make sense out of context. Be sure also to:
    • Tell customers something useful
    • Tell customers something specific
    • Avoid teasers and click bait
    Taglines communicate the value you provide, the problem you solve, or the mission you fulfill. Taglines assure customers know what you do. Be sure to:
    • Be brief
    • Be simple
    • Be specific
    Subject lines, to resonate with customers, must address a need or be phrased as a benefit. In addition, they must grab customers' eyeballs. So write short, put keywords up front, and be sure you explain what your emails are about.

    Cards provide customers "shortcuts" and present chunks of copy they might not otherwise read. When well written, they can also prompt customers to read and comprehend long pieces.

    Hints and tips can function as live customer-service agents who anticipate customers' questions and addresses them in context. Web usability tests prove they increase conversions. Keep them short and sweet.

    Sunday, February 19, 2017

    Fat, Dumb and Happy. But How Long?


    Complacency—the silent business killer—might finally do in associations.

    They've been in free fall since the Great Recession, shedding people and programs left and right, as they watch the membership pool evaporate.

    It may be only years until they go the way of pay phones, folding maps, and dot matrix printers.

    Association executives' self-interest may be the cause of the failure ("No matter the cost, let's preserve my bloated compensation"). Or perhaps it's the fault of hidebound boards.

    Whatever the cause, one place that complacency shines is member on-boarding.

    A case in point.

    Precisely one month ago today, I joined American Society of Association Executives. Since then, I have received nothing from ASAE but for two lame auto-responses confirming my $470 payment.

    Do I feel buyer's remorse? You betcha. I wonder:

    • Does anyone inside ASAE even know I'm a member? 
    • Will I ever be contacted before I receive a renewal invoice in 12 months? 
    • Will I derive a single benefit from ASAE, or are my dues merely a charitable donation? 
    • Why did I ever part with my money? 
    • What am I missing? 
    Okay, maybe I'm naive.

    In The End of Membership As We Know It, Sarah Sladek writes, “For hundreds of years association memberships have been cut from the same cloth. With few exceptions, people paid dues once a year for access to a full year’s worth of membership."

    So maybe my dues payment was simply a toll.

    If it was, I've taken the bridge to nowhere.

    "Scrappy" for-profits know there are two milestones a new customer must reach:

    • She must sign up for the product. 
    • She must achieve her first success with the product. 
    Customer churn occurs when the second milestone is never reached. To minimize churn, for-profits focus on on-boarding. For example:
    • Xero asks new customers to watch a "getting started" video when they sign up 
    • PropserWorks mails new customers a handwritten note 
    • Trill puts cards on its on-boarding website that explain how its product works 
    • Etsy provides a "progress meter" for new customers setting up a shop 
    • Dropbox helps you upload your first file 
    It may be too late for association marketers to up their game by mimicking their for-profit peers.

    But should they at least feel an urge to learn new tricks, I'd recommend signing up with Chris Brogan.

    Meanwhile, I'll work on getting my dues refunded.
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