3 Must Do Holiday Ecommerce Marketing Tips 2016

The holiday season is just around the corner, and if you’re hoping to exceed your sales goals, you’ve come to the right place. Whether your holiday marketing plan is in full swing, or you’re still not sure where to start, let us help you maximize your site’s exposure and make this season a success.

Last year, consumers spent $69.1 billion online during the holidays, and that number is expected to increase by 10 percent this year. Gone are the days of driving to the mall, fighting for a parking spot and standing in line. Today’s consumer understands – and appreciates – the convenience of shopping from home. But with so many outlets to choose from, it’s more important than ever that your website is holiday-ready because we know online shoppers don’t have the desire – or time – to stumble through a winding checkout process or be subjected to a sub-par user experience.

What are some ways you can prepare for the holiday surge and ensure you get a piece of the multi-billion-dollar pie?

1) You can start by reviewing your mobile presentation. According to the National Retail Federation, more and more people are shopping online using mobile devices. In fact, it reported that 56 percent of holiday shopping searches were conducted on a mobile device. It makes sense when you think about it because we’re all tied to our cellphones and tablets. Why wouldn’t consumers order items while watching TV, waiting in line for coffee or during their lunch breaks? Columnist Christi Olson, who recently wrote about preparing search campaigns for the holidays, recommends updating your mobile bid modifiers to make sure your brand is visible on mobile devices. It’s imperative that your mobile presence is visually pleasing and easy to navigate. Create welcoming holiday visuals to help put shoppers in the Christmas spirit. This is an audience you can’t afford to ignore.

2) Another way to drive traffic to your site is by creating buzz through discounts and limited-time offers. Today’s shoppers spend time researching their items before committing to a purchase. No one is going to pay more for something they found elsewhere for less. Help your clients save money by offering deals such as free shipping, discounts and buy-one, get-one offers. Knowledgeable consumers want the best deal and it’s up to you to provide it.

Olson also suggests reviewing last year’s purchase trends, in addition to recent sales, to determine how much to boost desk and mobile bids by both day and time to capitalize on holiday sales. She also recommends using scripts to notify you so you don’t exceed your budget.

3) Cross-channel promotions are key in any marketing plan. Consumers use multiple channels to research and purchase products, and it’s critical that you provide a consistantly on-brand experience through all of those channels. Olson urges business owners to “sync with your peers” across channels like email, display and social media to create a cross-channel promotional calendar. Find out what promotions they’re running and when, and ask about their holiday message and campaign tagging. Put that information to use by creating “remarketing audiences” based on cross-channel consumers, what Olson refers to as “target and bid.” “You can adjust your search messaging based on the cross-channel promotional messaging and match your ad extensions to take consumers further down the funnel,” she said. She suggests developing audiences through email campaigns, such as loyal shoppers; Pinterest and social shoppers; and affiliate discount shoppers. For each remarketing campaign, view your cross-channel calendar “and adjust the ad copy to include the right promotions, and adjust your site links based on where the consumer might be within the purchase cycle.”

Character Count Guide For Blog Posts, Facebook Pages & Social Media

When it comes to writing posts and updating profiles for your blog and social media, one of the most common questions folks have is: What’s the character limit on X, Y, or Z? Another common one: What’s the ideal character count for X, Y, or Z?

For example, you probably know the character limit for a tweet is 140. But did you know that a link takes up 24 of those characters, leaving you with 116 characters to play with? Or that the ideal length of a tweet that includes a link is about 120 characters, not the full 140?

While we’ve written before about what perfect posts look like on your blog and various social media networks, we thought it would be helpful to gather the numbers for character limits and ideal character counts all in one place.

Below, you’ll find the short version, followed by a more detailed guide to character limits and ideal character counts for posts on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. The more detailed version includes links to research studies, our own findings at HubSpot, and advice for how to optimize your posts and profiles.

Length & Character Counts: The Short Version

Click a category title to jump to the detailed version.

1) Blog Posts

  • Ideal Headline Length: 8–12 words & under 70 characters.
  • Ideal Blog Post Length: 1,600 words or 7 minutes to read.
  • Ideal Title Tag Length: 70 characters or fewer.
  • Ideal Meta Description Length: 155 characters or fewer.

2) Facebook

  • Maximum length of a status update: 63,206 characters.
  • Ideal length of a status update: 40 characters.
  • Ideal length of a video: 30–45 seconds long.

3) Twitter

  • Tweet: 140 characters max.
  • Comment with a Retweet: 116 characters max.
  • Link in a Tweet: Takes up 24 characters (leaving 116).
  • Image/GIF/Video in a Tweet: Takes up 25 characters (leaving 115).
  • Link + Image/GIF/Video in a tweet: Takes up 47 characters (leaving 93).
  • Ideal Tweet Length: 100 characters without a link; 120 characters with a link.
  • Ideal Hashtag Length: Under 11 characters; shorter if you can. Use 1–2 hashtags per tweet.
  • Video Duration in a Tweet: Up to 30 seconds long.

4) LinkedIn

  • Professional Headline: 120 characters max.
  • Summary: 2,000 characters max.
  • Position Title: 100 characters max.
  • Status Update: 600 characters.

5) Instagram

  • Profile Bio: 150 characters max.
  • Image Caption: 2,200 characters max, but it cuts off in users’ feeds after 3 lines of text.

A More Detailed Guide to Character Counts

1) Blog Posts

  • Ideal Headline Length: 8–12 words & under 70 characters.
  • Ideal Blog Post Length: 1,600 words or 7 minutes to read.
  • Ideal Title Tag Length: 70 characters or fewer.
  • Ideal Meta Description Length: 155 characters or fewer.

Ideal Length of a Headline: 8–12 words and under 70 characters.

The length of your headline depends on what your goals are and where it will appear.

  • Do you want this post to rank really well in search? Then keep the title under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in search engine results, and put keywords near the front to make it more attractive in search results.
  • Are you trying to optimize your title for social sharing? For it to be tweetable, you won’t want to exceed 116 characters. (That’s the 140-character limit on Twitter, minus the 23 characters a URL takes up in a tweet, minus one for the space between the title and the link.)

In our own analysis at HubSpot, we found that headlines between 8–12 words in length got the most Twitter shares on average, while headlines with either 12 or 14 words got the most Facebook Likes.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Content Title Length

The folks at Outbrain found that headlines with eight words had a 21% higher clickthrough rate than the average title. We recommend testing out headline length to see what works best for your particular audience.

Ideal length of a Blog Post: 1,600 words or 7 minutes to read.

This may not be what you want to hear, but the best answer to the question of how long a blog post should be is: as long as it needs to be. Blog posts vary too greatly in topic, depth, and so on for there to be a single benchmark. It should be as long as it needs to be to serve its purpose, whether that’s thought leadership, driving leads, explaining a new concept, or something else.

That being said, if you want cold, hard numbers, there are a few ways to measure ideal blog post length.

Time to Read: The folks over at Medium measure article length based on how long it takes for a person to read the article. According to their analysis, the post length that captures the most attention on average were posts that took seven minutes to read, which works out to be about 1,600 words.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Post Length Graph

Image Credit: Medium

Word Count: Here at HubSpot, we recently analyzed the effect of blog post word count from our own blog on organic traffic and found that the sweet spot was 2,250–2,500 words.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Word Count

We also found articles over 2,500 words got the most social shares and earned the most inbound links.

You might be thinking: There’s a pretty big difference between 1,600 words and 2,250+ words. That’s because of the incredible variation in ideal length for a blog post. We recommend testing out blog post length to see what works best for your particular audience.

Ideal Length of a Title Tag: About 70 characters or fewer.

A title tag is the HTML title element that’s used to describe the topic of a webpage. You’ll find them in the title of a search engine result page (SERP), and in the top bar of an internet browser.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Title Google

A title tag should be about 70 characters or fewer in length so it doesn’t get cut off in a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page). This number can vary because Google seems to measure in pixels, not characters. In other words, it appears that they cut off a title tag after a certain width: about 512 pixels. Google will also bold certain keywords used in a search query, which can affect pixel width significantly. So at the end of the day, 70 characters is just a benchmark.

You can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo.

Ideal Length of a Meta Description: About 155 characters or fewer.

A meta description refers to the HTML attribute that explains the contents of a given webpage. It’s the short description you see on a SERP to “preview” what the page is about.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Meta description Google

Like with title tags, Google seems to cut off meta descriptions in SERPs based on pixel width, not character count. Specifically, it seems to cut off a given meta description after about 923 pixels, which ends up being about 155 characters. Again, you can double-check the length of your meta description and title tags with this handy tool from SEOmofo. (Read this blog post to learn more about writing effective meta descriptions.)

2) Facebook

  • Maximum length of a status update: 63,206 characters.
  • Ideal length of a status update: 40 characters.
  • Ideal length of a video: Between 30–45 seconds.

Maximum Length of a Status Update: 63,206 characters.

Most people refer to Facebook’s character limit on status updates as 60,000 characters, but the actual maximum is 63,206. Why? Facebook’s Bob Baldwin, the man who set the limit, wrote in a Facebook comment: “I set the exact limit to something nerdy. Facebook … Face Boo K … hex(FACE) – K … 64206 – 1000 = 63206”. There you have it.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Facebook Status Length

Image Credit: Journalists on Facebook

Ideal Length of a Status Update: About 40 characters.

“The social gurus will throw around the number 40 characters,” says Chelsea Hunersen, HubSpot’s social media and community growth manager. “That data seems to be backed up by BuzzSumo’s ranking of HubSpot’s own Facebook Page, but ideally, you’ll want to use the copy in a status update to provide context for whatever you’re linking to.”

That being said, Hunersen says that from her experience, the copy of the status update itself isn’t as important as the copy in the meta title or meta description that gets pulled in when you insert a link into your post. “Often, people look at the image of the article and then directly down at the meta title and meta description for context clues,” she told me. “A lot of people don’t realize you can change those.”

(Meta titles should be 70 characters or fewer and meta descriptions should be 155 characters or fewer. You can read about these character counts in more detail in the previous section of this post.)

Ideal Length of a Video: Between 30–45 seconds.

While there aren’t too many studies out there on the ideal length of videos on Facebook, best practices for sharing videos on social are to keep it short: Just enough time to deliver a punch, but without forcing users to leave their environment.

According to AdWeek, Facebook’s auto-playback feature makes 30–45-second videos optimal. Here at HubSpot, we’ve found that our best-performing organic videos have come in at about 30 seconds long.

That being said, optimal length can vary depending on the topic. “If you produce something as catchy as BuzzFeed and Refinery29 are putting out there, it can be up to five minutes long,” says Hunersen.

Regardless of the length of your video, Hunersen reminds us that all Facebook videos start without sound, meaning users have to make a concious decision to stop scrolling through their feeds and unmute the video. Facebook videos should be visually compelling from the get-to, make sense without sound, and be engaging enough to encourage the user to stop and watch.

3) Twitter

  • Tweet: 140 characters max.
  • Comment with a Retweet: 116 characters max.
  • Link in a Tweet: Takes up 24 characters (leaving 116).
  • Image/GIF/Video in a Tweet: Takes up 25 characters (leaving 115).
  • Link + Image/GIF/Video in a tweet: Takes up 47 characters (leaving 93).
  • Ideal Tweet Length: 100 characters without a link; 120 characters with a link.
  • Ideal Hashtag Length: Under 11 characters; shorter if you can. Use 1–2 hashtags per tweet.
  • Video Duration in a Tweet: Up to 30 seconds long.

Max Length of a Tweet: 140 characters.

Max Length of a Comment with a Retweet: 116 characters.

When you use Twitter’s “Retweet with Comment” feature, it means you’ve pressed the rotating arrow icon to retweet a post, and then added a comment in the text box provided. The retweet takes up 24 characters, leaving you with 116 characters for the comment.

Link in a Tweet: Takes up 23 characters (leaving 117).

Links account for 92% of all user interaction with tweets, so you’ll definitely want to include them in most (if not all) of the tweets you publish. They’re your strongest chance of gaining views and shares for your content.

Also, remember to include a space between your tweet copy and your link. Not including a space before the link is one of the most common forms of link errors.

Image/GIF/Video in a Tweet: Takes up 24 characters (leaving 116).

Using media in your tweet is a great way to engage your followers. In fact, research shows using images in tweets leads to higher clickthrough rates — as much as 18%.

Images, GIFs, and videos take up the same number of characters in a tweet for Twitter.com and most publishing tools.

(Note: Different publishing tools may have different character counts for links and images. For example, Twitter.com counts an image as 24 characters, but Tweetdeck counts it as 25.)

Want to add more text to your tweets? One simple hack is to put text in an image, like in the tweet below. Here are some free templates to get you started. (The best ones for Twitter are in the Social Media > Rectangular folder.)

Link + Image in a Tweet: Takes up 47 characters total (leaving 93).

A link often takes up 23 characters and an image often takes up 24. That’s 47 characters total, leaving you with 93 characters to work with for the rest of the tweet — including that space between the tweet copy and the link.

(Again, note that different publishing tools may have slightly different character counts for links and images.)

Ideal Length of a Tweet: 100–110 characters without a link; 120–130 characters with a link.

The 120-130-character range is the sweet spot for high clickthrough rate, according to an analysis of 200,000 tweets with links. This leaves enough space for people to include a short comment if they choose to manually retweet you.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Tweet Length

Ideal Length of a Hashtag: Under 11 characters; shorter if you can.

While Twitter hashtags can technically be any length up to 140 characters, remember that people will want to accompany the hashtag with other copy. Short hashtags are always better. Ideally, your hashtags should be under 11 characters — shorter if you can.

Also, in a single tweet, stick to one or two hashtags, and definitely don’t go over three. Buddy Media found that tweets with hashtags get double the engagement metrics that tweets with no hashtags get — but tweets with one or two hashtags have a 21% higher engagement than tweets with three or more

Video Length in a Tweet: Up to 30 seconds long.

You can post a video on Twitter by importing a video or recording it using the Twitter app. Either way, the maximum length is 30 seconds.

4) LinkedIn

  • Professional Headline: 120 characters max.
  • Summary: 2,000 characters max.
  • Position Title: 100 characters max.
  • Status Update: 600 characters.

Maximum Length of a Professional Headline: 120 characters.

Your professional headline is the brief description about what you do that appears right below your name on LinkedIn.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - LinedIn Headline Length

Maximum Length of a LinkedIn Summary: 2,000 characters.

Maximum Length of a LinkedIn Position Title: 100 characters.

LinkedIn Position Description: Between 200–2,000 characters.

Maximum Length of a LinkedIn Status Update: 600 characters.

Keep in mind that if you update your Twitter status through LinkedIn, you’ll want to keep the character count to 140 characters or fewer.

5) Instagram

  • Profile Bio: 150 characters max.
  • Image Caption: 2,200 characters max, but it cuts off in users’ feeds after 3 lines of text.

Maximum Length of a Profile Bio: 150 characters.

Max Length of an Instagram Caption: 2,200 characters.

With a maximum of 2,200 characters, Instagram provides an enormous amount of space in their Instagram captions. But it’s worth noting that they recently started capping captions at three lines without users having to click “more” to see the whole thing, if they’re viewing the post in their general feed.

CHARACTER COUNT GUIDE FOR BLOG POSTS, FACEBOOK PAGES & SOCIAL MEDIA - Instagram Caption Length

That being said, we don’t recommend keeping your captions super short so users can see 100% of it without having to click “more.” Instead, frontload your captions with the important content or text calls-to-action, and leave any hashtags, @mentions, or extraneous information for the end.

10 Types of Blog Posts Proven to Drive Sales

Use it correctly, and a blog can be an excellent source of both traffic and links. However, while I’d never discourage you from creating the sort of content that can boost your traffic and potentially bring in links that will help you to climb further up the search engine’s rankings, on their own, traffic and/or links are not going to make a difference to your bottom line.

On that note, I’m going to take a wild guess that you’re here because you want your blog to do more than bring in traffic – you want it to drive sales, too. Well, don’t worry – there are plenty of ways to get your blog working harder for you. Stick with me while we look at 10 of them.

1. The how-to

The how-to blog post is generally (though not always) a step-by-step guide that takes readers through a particular process. The best ones are based around clear, easy-to-follow instructions, and include images or video that help to illustrate each step. They should also be easy to skim through, so readers can quickly find a particular instruction.

The how-to is an effective sales tool in part, because it’s easy to optimize. Questions which begin with “how to” are common search terms – so much so, that whole websites have been built around answering these types of queries. Write detailed, useful, optimized how-tos and you should start to reap the rewards of additional targeted traffic arriving on your site.

Of course, we know that traffic alone won’t make us money. Real results happen when we’re able to convert that traffic.

To do this you need to…

1. Choose your topics wisely

Answer questions that your target market is likely to have and likely to ask towards the middle of the sales funnel.

For instance, a key goal of neilpatel.com is to encourage people to reserve consultations with Neil himself. It comes as no surprise then, that he’s writing posts like this. Link good or bad

“How to Determine if a Link is Good or Bad” is exactly the sort of question people who would be interested in one-on-one marketing consultancy would be asking.

2. Hold back just enough information to leave your readers wanting more.

Sometimes (though not always) if you give your visitors all the answers, they won’t need you. The more complicated your industry, the less this rule applies – sometimes you can give people all the information, but they will still need your help to apply the knowledge effectively. Still, it helps to keep a small part of the puzzle unsolved, to keep your readers wanting (and needing) more.

Key takeaway: Write detailed, long-form blog posts that answer “how-to” questions and target potential customers from the middle of the sales funnel onwards.

2. The cheat sheet

Cheat sheets are similar to how-tos in that they provide your visitors with valuable information that should help them to complete a particular action or set of actions. The cheat sheet differs from the how-to in its execution: they’re more of a “quick reference” kind of guide than a step-by-step walk-through. They also lend themselves well to infographic-style images.

Think: Cheat sheet

And: typefaces

In contrast, the how-to is usually presented as a text-based article.

Like the how-to, cheat sheets drive sales because they bring in highly-qualified traffic. The trick is to create content that captures potential customers at the right point in the sales funnel. By all means, create cheat sheets that help existing customers get the most out of your product or service. Anything that helps your customers use you more effectively will increase customer loyalty and retention rates. However, if you want to drive new sales, you need to create cheat sheets that help assist those who are in need of something you sell – not those who already have what you sell. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples.

Sorry for Marketing‘s Jay Acunzo’s specialism is guiding others on their content marketing. This cheat sheet fits the bill perfectly. It’s designed to help speed up the content editing process and is aimed at marketers who want to streamline and improve their content creation. Tier one

This cheat sheet on browsers that do or don’t support HTML5 targets consumers that are ready to – but probably haven’t yet started – design a new website. These are precisely the type of visitors that a company that offers web design and hosting services would want to capture. Browser support

Key takeaway: Create cheat sheets that act as quick reference guides to consumers who could benefit from your product or service. If you can get a designer involved to up their visual appeal, even better.

3. The checklist

Checklists are an excellent sales tool because they help readers identify missing components in an important equation. Imagine a store that sells products people buy before they go on vacation – a “packing checklist” would make a great piece of content for them. The checklist

In this context, a packing list could help drive sales because it would allow the store to link to relevant products from within the list and influence purchases from consumers who had forgotten they needed to buy x, y, or z.

A checklist can help drive sales in pretty much any industry. I see my fellow marketers use them all the time.

The brilliant Heidi Cohen rang in 2015 with a seriously-comprehensive marketing checklist.

Postplanner created a checklist to help ensure that marketers are getting the most out of social media.

Moz compiled a detailed site audit checklist (if you’re ever carrying out a site audit, you need to use this – it’s awesome).

In marketing, this type of content works because it can help a potential customer realize how much help they actually need. Maybe they hadn’t considered they needed to do x and y. Maybe they don’t know how to do y and z. Either way, it illustrates to visitors how much or how little they know and encourages them to pick up the phone and make that call.

Key takeaway: Create on-topic checklists that are designed to help potential customers realize what tools or knowledge they’re missing that your company can provide for them.

4. The comparison post

Comparison posts pit your product against one of your competitor’s, as we see here in this post where HubSpot compares their CMS with WordPress’s. Is this sneaky? Maybe a little, but we see this strategy used all the time, across the board – not just online, and certainly not only in blog posts.

Ever noticed a supermarket advertising how much cheaper they are than the competition? Comparison

That’s comparison marketing in action. The supermarket is selling their products to you by highlighting how much you can save when you shop with them, instead of the competition.

You might wonder how you can legally get away with stating how much better or cheaper you are than your competition, and I wouldn’t blame you. Naming your competitors in your own advertising and marketing strikes me as something that would land you on shaky ground, too, but it’s actually okay… most of the time, at least.

The law surrounding comparison marketing differs somewhat around the world. However, it generally comes down to this: as long as you’re truthful, it’s fine.

This means you have to be damn sure about any claims you make, and be sure to include a disclaimer that gives the date that the claim was found to be true, in case something changes down the road.

Key takeaway: Write comparison blog posts that explore how your product or service matches up to your competitors.’

5. The guest post from a brand advocate (think extended testimonial)

If you’re a regular here, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of guest posting and that I regularly welcome guest authors to this blog. I do this to:

Diversify the voices on the blog
Build relationships with the people who write for the blog
Drive new audiences to the blog
Alleviate some of the pressure on me to keep the blog updated, all of the time
However… there’s another way you can leverage inviting a guest author to contribute to your blog – by asking a brand advocate to write for you.

Brand advocates are those people that love your brand so much that they regularly shout about it, and are willing to go out of their way to do so.

If you can track these advocates down, you should take the opportunity to speak to them about how you might be able to work together. This could entail getting them to write, or even film, a testimonial for you. It might mean asking them to mention your brand in some of their social media posts.

Alternatively, it could mean asking them to write you a guest post.

“Walmart Moms” is an excellent example of a brand that leverages their advocates. Walmart

The Walmart Moms are a group of Walmart advocates that have been selected to speak out on behalf of the brand because of how they embody the average Walmart customer.

The “chosen” moms (who are, I assume, paid) write blog posts for Walmart that offer advice and touch on their own experiences, while also linking to Walmart products and additional articles. Take a look at Linsey Knerl’s post “Growing from baby to toddler” to see what I mean.

It’s worth bearing in mind that, as mentioned above, you may have to compensate your advocates for their time. Asking them to write a short review is one thing; asking them to craft a 500+ word blog post is quite different. This effort should be rewarded, if not with cold hard cash, then with some sort of freebie or special benefit.

Key takeaway: Invite a brand advocate to write a guest post for you in which they talk about the merits of your brand or your products or services (just be prepared to reward them for their time).

6. The case study

A case study dives deep into a particular “case” in order to demonstrate the potential and effectiveness of a certain product or service. A case study is an excellent sales tool because rather than simply saying to a customer, “Use our product and you can achieve x, y, and z,” you use real-world examples to show them exactly how your product or service is going to accomplish x, y, and z.

It’s understandable then, that they’re a popular sales tool – the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Prof’s 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report found that of all of the tactics B2B marketers use, 58% percent of those surveyed said they found case studies to be effective. This graph shows the case study as the 5th most-effective B2B marketing tactic. Effectiveness ratings

Neil Patel regularly writes case studies. In this one, he details the processes used to help earn Timothy Sykes an extra $1.2 million a year: Timothy Sikes

Here he shows how he grew Gawker’s traffic by 5 million visitors: Gawker media

Putting an alternative spin on things, in this post, Neil actually writes a case study about case studies. Its purpose is to demonstrate how case studies can be used to generate more leads and sales.

In short: Case studies work. Although publishing case studies didn’t have a huge effect on the number of leads Neil was generating, they clearly helped his leads convert: He saw his sales increase by an impressive 185%.

Key takeaway: Hone in on a particular example of how your product or service helped a customer achieve a goal by writing a case study.

7. The wake-up call

The “wake-up call” is geared toward shocking your visitors into the realization that they’re doing something wrong, or at the very least, could be doing something better. The idea is that this scares your visitors into action – that action ideally being to purchase your product or start using your service.

It’s a common strategy used by digital marketers and SEOs. There are still a lot of shady companies out there and in-house practitioners who know less than they think they do. Consequently, it’s not difficult to “shock” companies into action. You just need to help them realize that their own online efforts, or the efforts of the people they employ to improve the performance of their site, are not up to snuff.

Take this post by Kissmetrics that explores how to determine whether or not your SEO company is in fact hurting, rather than helping, you. Or this article from BlogPress, which looks at 7 things you might be getting wrong when trying to write click-worthy headlines. This post from New State Films is another great example of this strategy: It explores five things you might be getting wrong when promoting your brand through video.

The key here is to avoid getting into a slanging match, or making yourself look petty. Be the bigger company and use a “wake-up call” post to not only show how others are getting something wrong, but to demonstrate that you have the skills, knowledge, and resources to do it better.

Key takeaway: Write a blog post that details what your potential customers might be doing wrong and how their mistakes could be affecting them.

8. The unique-findings post

Make a bold statement online, and you should be prepared to back it up with evidence. Why? Because it lends credibility to your argument. As stated in Lifehacker, “Information is knowledge, and knowledge is power. If you want someone to rally to your cause, support your position, or put you in a position of authority, you need to be able to back up your position and sway others from theirs.” (See what I did there?) Unique findings

However… sometimes you might have a theory or want to make a statement that can’t be proven with existing evidence. Alternatively, you might question or distrust the information that’s already available.

When that situation materializes, what’s the logical solution? To carry out your own research, of course. Especially when the information you hope to find has the potential to help drive sales.

Want to see what I mean?

Here’s a post in which Marie Haynes, author of “Unnatural Links: The Complete Guide to Recovery” uses first-hand data to demonstrate why removing thin content can help site owners recover from a Panda penalty. Panda recovery

This is the ideal topic for capturing visitors that have been hit by a Google penalty, and consequently, may be interested in purchasing her book.

In this excellent piece from Moz search scientist Russ Jones, we see Russ perform his own research to figure out what makes content from the little guys (i.e. sites that don’t have a huge domain authority) rank.

This sort of content has the potential to drive visitors to Moz’s Content tool, but it’s also a pretty neat plug for the content services offered by the post’s guest contributors – Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting and Garrett French of Citation Labs.

Key takeaway: Perform your own research and use it as evidence to help drive home why potential customers could benefit from your product or service.

9. The expert roundup post

An expert roundup is a post based around quotes from industry experts.

Sometimes a roundup post is formed almost entirely of quotes from experts, with nothing more than a short intro from the actual author. Take a look at this post on Small Business Ideas Blog to see what I mean.

Sometimes the expert’s quotes will provide the framework for the article, with the author adding their own commentary and filling in the blanks. I wrote a post back in July that should show how this works.

Bloggers love them because, with a bit of luck and/or the right connections, they’re really easy to create, they can be super-valuable to readers, and they make the author look good. Quote

Most importantly however, they provide the opportunity to tap into new, big, and engaged audiences. How? Most of the time, the experts who have contributed to the post will share it. This can potentially cause a domino effect whereby the post goes viral.

I recently spoke to Adam Connell of Blogging Wizard and the topic of conversation quickly turned to roundup posts. Turns out he’s a big fan. He said he’s done “a few expert roundups over the years, always got a decent amount of shares from it and traffic has been huge.” Then… he published this. Within a few days, it had been shared about 2000 times and had about 5000 views. Not f*in bad.

He told me he did this by:

Tweeting the influencers mentioned
Mentioning the influencers in a Google Plus post
Sending individual emails to each influencer to let them know the post was live and to thank them for taking part
But he didn’t stop there. In Adam’s words, “I then got in touch with Niall at TweakYourBiz.com about repurposing it as an infographic and publishing on TYB, so it would be a unique infographic for them.”

The resulting infographic (which you can see here) has had more than 32,000 visitors and been shared more than 2000 times.

Of course, we know by now that while traffic and shares are pretty damn awesome things to get, they’re not sales. But they do provide the chance to make more sales.

So how do you get them?

Choosing the right topic is key. It should be heavily aligned with what you do and should encourage visitors to want to take action. If you offer pay-per-click management services, you probably wouldn’t want to ask experts to comment on growth hacking. But if you can get them to talk about the biggest mistakes they’ve seen companies make with their PPC campaigns, you might be onto something.

Key takeaway: Ask experts to contribute to a roundup post with their answer to a question that is intrinsically linked to why someone might use your product or service.

10. The reverse psychology post

When we use reverse psychology on somebody, we are getting them to do what we want by asking them to do the opposite. It doesn’t work on everybody all of the time, but when it does work, it’s because the person fears their control is being taken away from them. In other words: They don’t like being told what to do. Reverse psychology

It’s particularly effective on children and teenagers. Ever tried telling a child not to play with a certain toy? Chances are, they grabbed it the moment your back was turned. Even more concerning, research has shown that warning labels on violent TV programs actually encourage young viewers to tune in.

But this doesn’t mean adults are immune to the effects of reverse psychology. In an experiment led by psychologist Daniel Wegner, participants were told not to think about a white bear. Over the next 5 minutes participants were asked to think aloud, saying everything that came to mind. If they thought, or spoke, about a white bear, they had to ring a bell. Participants were ringing that bell every minute. More interestingly, when the 5 minutes were over, those who had been told not to think about a white bear were thinking about a white bear twice as often as those who had been told to think about it. You can read a little more about this experiment over on Business Insider.

This research should mean it comes as no surprise that reverse psychology is a tactic commonly used in advertising and marketing.

Do you remember Little Caesars “Do Not Call” ad? It explicitly told customers not to call, and was accompanied by a clear instruction for visitors not to enter their address on their website. Little Caesars

How about Patagonia, who ran a full page ad in The New York Times instructing people not to buy a jacket? Patagonia

Or Oakwood School’s celebrity-packed donation drive, which asked people not to give?

I think you get the point! But while we’re on the subject, whatever you do, do not share this post. (Cheers iMediaConnection for rounding up the above examples).

Key takeaway: Write a blog post that’s based around telling your visitors to do the exact opposite of what you want them to do. The trick is to be clear it’s tongue-in-cheek. You’ll tempt your visitors into doing exactly what you want them to do, without inadvertently making them think poorly of you or your product or service.

Finish Line

That’s it for today. Do you know of any other types of blog posts that drive sales? Or have you tried any of these out and are able to fill us in on the results you saw? Comments are below… you know what to do!

3 Tips for Last Minute Holiday Strategies

Remember retailers and eCommerce manager, it is not too late! Cyber Monday is quickly approaching and it is either an online retailer’s new best friend or worst nightmare. Why? It’s that one day out of the entire year where online retail is in the spotlight on the mainstage and has to perform. Sink or swim.

As all retailers know, there is a ton of prep that goes into Cyber Monday from staffing and logistics, to technology and merchandising. So instead of providing a list of the 850 things that you need to make decisions on and execute for a successful Cyber Monday, I am going to skip ahead and just give you three simple things to look at once you are ready(ish) to go.

1. Keep it simple, stupid

Simple sales. That’s right. DO NOT MAKE COMPLICATED PROMOTIONS. This means no fancy coupons, different discounting on different items, or extensive rules. You need to be remembered quickly and easily for what you are offering. Why? Your goal should be that anyone who sees even one ad can rattle off your Cyber Monday promotion, therefore you make the list of sites to visit on that frantic day.

Cyber Monday is not a browsing holiday. People shop with a plan to get the things on their list, and you want to make that list. The best way to do this is to keep your offers clear, simple and memorable. Once you get someone on your site, then you can start the other offers and the add-ons.

Here are some great examples of doing this well:

2. Leak your deals

Why is Black Friday and Cyber Monday such a thing? Some people might say it is tradition, or just a stir-crazy way to get out of holiday family time. The one thing that is not in question is that it is a “holiday” created by hype.

So with that said, do not promote your deals too early. You need a “leaking” strategy. This could be done by emailing your customers with a sneak peak, viral videos, or more traditional ways. You can also have outsiders “leak” it for you as the big box stores do by sending their ads two days before to well-known Cyber Monday and Black Friday websites.

Get creative, think outside the box.

3. Rake them in and then what? Set Up Automatic Retention Marketing

So Cyber Monday is all about acquisition. Getting new folks in the door and making their first purchase. That is why you see many places marking their TVs down even sometimes to a loss, just to get people in and then “hopefully” keep them coming back.

Tracking and setting up retention programs are extremely important for this time of year. Integrating your eCommerce customer data with software like Windsor Circle will enable you to track purchases that take place during these heavy acquisition times. Then you can automate retention programs that are relevant to the individual customer’s preferences directly through your email marketing provider. This gives retailers the ability to get the most out of the holiday traffic and make up margins on heavily discounted Cyber Sale products by offering related accessories, similar products and automatic replenishment.

It is not too late to get this up and running, we can show you here. If you cannot fathom getting this done before Cyber Monday, many of the programs can be implemented using past data so you get them working for you even after the holiday rush.   Focus on your customers, and you can re-market later.

To wrap up, there is no shortage of things to do and manage this time of year for retailers. Instead of giving you a huge list, this just sheds some light on three key things that can help take some of the stress out of the season. Good luck and happy selling!

How To Stay on Google’s Good Side (Infographic)

In the event that the words “Google Algorithm Update” don’t strike dread into your heart, than the way you earn a living must not be in the digital or eCommerce industry.  If that is the case, I want to know why you are here and what you do?  But that’s beside the point.  Every time Google releases another algorithm update your business has to evolve and change.  If you aren’t quick to change your practices and follow suit, and by that I mean update your content to Google’s new requirements, you run the risk of Google’s penalizing your digital marketing efforts.

Stay away from the ensuing headache by following these tips collected by the team at Quick Sprout.  The main shift is the shift towards a more organic experience for end-users and ability to be a trusted website on the internet.  Some quick top level things to remember: keep guest posting to a minimum, focus on relevance (and honest information), make sure your site is well designed (preferably responsive), and build trust.  All of this is to say Google doesn’t purposefully make these updates to hurt your business, in fact it’s to help with improvements online and make the internet a more trustworthy and easy to use place.

How to stay on Googles good side - infographic

SEO Guide To Keyword Research For Beginners

In case you are new to the universe of ecommerce or digital marketing in general, you’ve likely heard about search engine optimization (SEO). In our current reality where the lion’s share of online traffic stems from a string of text typed into a search box, search engine optimization can be the main factor in the fate of your business.

SEO incorporates numerous strategies yet the underlying principal is that you’re helping Google and internet search engines better understand what your ecommerce website is about and what it offers (fyi, it can be a static website too, it doesn’t have to sell anything). This consequently builds visibility by increasing the chance search engines will list your site in the search results when potential customers are looking for the products you sell.

The largest bucket of time spent in/on SEO is keyword research. Keyword research is the simple art of better understanding the terminology your potential customers are using to find the products you’re selling, then matching your website and marketing terminology.

In this article we’ll cover the basics of keyword research for ecommerce. The ultimate goal is to build a relevant list of keywords that you can refer back to and use as you build and optimize your site, write your product descriptions and craft your blog posts.

Over time, you’ll help search engines better understand what your site is about so they can better match your store as a result for relevant search terms, leading in increased traffic and sales.

Why Keyword Research Is Important

Every time someone does a search, the search engine must decide which handful of results to display from hundreds of thousands of possible pages. It’s up to the search engine algorithms to determine the best and most relevant matches for every single search. This is why it’s so important to choose your keywords carefully, so that the search engines can match and display your site in the search results to the most relevant keywords searches.

Not only is it important to rank on the first page of a search engine results page for relevant search terms, but it’s equally important to rank in the top positions of the first page. To understand how big of difference position can make consider the graph below which shows search result position and average traffic share:

From the graph we learn that the first page of search results receives over 90% of the traffic share and the first three search results receive over 60% of the traffic. Most significantly, the difference between position ten (first page) and position 11 (second page) means a decrease in traffic from that particular search term by over 100%.

In short, the closer you are to the top of Google for relevant search terms the more traffic (and potential sales) you’ll receive. Depending on the search term and the volume of searches per month being made for that search term, the difference in just a few positions can represent significant revenue loss in the long term.

Understanding Keywords

Before you jump into doing keyword research for your online store, there are a few basic terms you’ll come across that are important to know and understand.

These terms include:

Keywords – A keyword(s), in the context of search engine optimization, is a particular word or phrase describing the content of a web page or site. Keywords act as shortcuts to sum up the content of a page or site. Keywords are part of a web page’s metadata that helps search engines match a page to an appropriate search query.

Longtail Keywords – Longtail keywords are simply keywords that contain three or more words. Longtail keywords are important (hence them having their own name) because they make up over 70% of online searches according to SEOMoz and also tend to convert better as they catch people further along in the buying cycle. Someone searching for “hair extensions” is likely in the early information gathering stage, however, someone searching for “20 inch brown hair extensions price” is likely further along the buying cycle and much closer to purchasing.

Search Volume (Avg. Monthly Searches) – Search volume is usually measured in average monthly searches. This is the total number of searches each month for each particular search phrase (keyword). Ideally you’re looking for the keywords with the highest search volume. Ranking highly for search terms with higher search volumes means more potential traffic and conversion potential for you and your store.

Unfortunately, there is not a magic number that represents the perfect search volume for everyone. What constitutes the “right” search volume is going to be different for every site.

Competition – Search volume isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Competition is equally, if not more important. There’s no point in trying to rank for keywords you have no chance of ranking for. Competition refers to the difficulty of ranking for each particular keyword. In an ideal situation, your chosen keywords would have high search volume and low competition, however, these gold nuggets are difficult to find and will require some hard work, patience and maybe a little luck to find.

Keep in mind that the competition in Google’s Keyword Planner Tool refers to paid advertising competitiveness of keywords rather than organic search competition, however, this is many times representative of the organic search competition as well.

Brainstorming Your Initial List

Now that you understand why keyword research is important and some of the basic terminology, it’s time to do your own keyword research. To begin, you’ll need to brainstorm an initial list of search terms you believe your customers would search for to find your shop and the products you sell. Just grab a pen and paper and begin making a list of search terms you would use. At a minimum your brainstormed list of each keyword should be two words but you’ll want to think of longtail keywords as well, up to four to five words or even more.

The more words you brainstorm upfront, the more you’ll have to work with to uncover new search terms so don’t give up too easily. Try to build a list with as many relevant keywords as possible.

You may want to ask friends and family for their input as well but avoid asking them directly what they would search for and try to get them in front of a computer and ask them to search for your brand/products. Monitor what they search for and the links they click. This can provide some great, real-world insight into what an average person would search for.

Tools To Expand Your List

After you’ve done some initial brainstorming, you can consider a few tools to help expand your list. One of the simplest tools is Google’s own suggestion feature. To see some of Google’s suggestions, simply do a Google search and scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the related suggestions.

A great tool for help with your brainstorming is Keywordtool.io. Keywordtool scrapes Google for Google suggestion keywords by taking your keyword and adding every letter of the alphabet from A to Z capturing the most frequently searched permutations.

Don’t forget to consider keyword modifiers like “how to” or “where can I” etc. For example, someone may not be looking necessarily for “hair extensions” rather they may be looking for “how to get fuller, longer hair”.

Keyword Research Using The Google Keyword Planner Tool

Now that you have your initial list of brainstormed keywords, you can use these keywords to find more keywords using tools online. There are many tools you can use to conduct your keyword research, paid and free, however, one of the most popular tools for conducting keyword research is Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. The Google Keyword Planner Tool allows you to search for keywords to determine how many searches per month are being made for that term, how much competition there is competing for it and the related search terms.

The related search terms are important because it’s going to expose you to other keywords that are similar but may have a greater number of searches, less competition or a combination of both.

To use the Google Keyword Planner Tool, you’ll need a Google Adwords account which is free and only take a few minutes to get set up.

Once you have a Google Adwords account you’ll need to login to your account and select Tools from the menu at the top, and then select Keyword Planner.

On the next screen, click Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.

Next, enter the keywords you’ve brainstormed from the previous section, either one at a time or a few at a time by separating each with a comma. We would recommend starting with one at a time to keep things simple.

Double check your settings under Targeting to make sure you’re viewing search information that is relevant to you. For example, if you’re based and ship to USA and Canada, you should be looking at information results for the USA and Canada.

Under Customize your search and Keyword options, you should turn on Only show ideas closely related to my search terms. This will provide much more relevant keywords, however, if you feel the keywords are too closely related or you wish you expand your search, feel free to try a search with this option turned off.

On the next screen, it will default to the Ad Group Ideas tab. Change that to the tab labelled Keyword Ideas.

The first column will list the original keyword(s) you searched for as well as closely related keywords. The second column shows you the number of searches being performed each month in the geographic area you specified. The third column is the level of competition for each keyword.

It is this information you’ll now need to begin sifting through to begin building your keyword list. You can use the Keyword filters on the lefthand side of the screen to only show low and medium competition keywords and filter out the ones that would likely be too difficult to compete for.

This will leave you with a list of keywords related to your original search that have a low and medium level of competition. As an example, we have colour coded one such query below, the yellow highlighted keywords being medium competition and the green highlighted keywords being low.

With this list you’ll want to take the best terms that describe your site, pages and product offering, keeping in mind the search volume and competition, and record them, ideally in a spreadsheet. You’ll want to repeat this process for all the brainstormed keywords you came up with.

Refining Your List And Checking It Twice

Now that you’ve come up with a list of relevant keywords it’s time you double check your work. You may have got a little carried away and added in some keywords that were low competition, or high search volume but don’t accurately describe your store and offering. In this phase you’re going to look at each of your keywords and:

Ask yourself – Is the keyword relevant? If someone searches for that term and lands on an appropriate page on your site, will they find exactly what they are looking for?

Search for the keywords in Google and Bing – You’ve already looked at the competition strength in Google Keyword Planner but as mentioned prior, those levels represent paid search competition, which doesn’t always translate over to organic search. Understanding which websites already rank for your keyword gives you valuable insight into the competition, and also how hard it will be to rank for the given term. If the top results are for major and well established brands, it’s going to be more difficult to rank highly for your keyword.

Will all the keyword information you have gathered, you’ll now want to really boil your list down. To start, you’ll really want to focus on a handful of keywords (5-7) but it’s a good idea to keep a bit of a broader list (15-20) to keep your options open and work on long term.

Conclusion

The good news is that after completing your keyword research and slowly implementing your chosen keywords throughout your site, Google should have a better understanding of what your online store is all about so it can better match you to the correct searches.

Keep in mind though that SEO and keyword research is an ongoing process. It takes time and patience to research and implement your keywords and more time for Google to pick up on these changes. Most importantly, over time, SEO changes, search engine algorithms change and the terms your customers use will change so make sure you routinely go over your keyword research to make sure it up-to-date and accurate.

A Cheat Sheet for Marketers on the Future of Platforms

Customer engagement has never been more urgent or more elusive. Real engagement – the kind that goes beyond a momentary impression to a meaningful interaction – isn’t happening on traditional channels. It’s happening today on digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, SnapChat, and Instagram.

To understand the future of digital platforms and what it means for marketers, we spoke with senior executives in a community of top marketers from Silicon Valley. The perspectives of these executives suggest that the pace of innovation shows no sign of slowing down.

Marketers who want to understand the future of these platforms need to understand seven P’s: people, participate, personalize, product, process, pay, and partner.

1. People

The power of platforms ultimately comes from people. For the first time in history, we have mass collaboration on a global scale. Digital and social platforms eliminate the friction in the flow of information and communication, empowering customers, employees, and citizens alike. To date, platforms have made us more efficient, but according to Ivy Ross, Head of Glass at Google, they will soon “help us be more human and do the things we love to do.” And David Rubin, Head of Brand at Pinterest, adds, “technology is ultimately about making things easier for people.”

2. Participate

The word “platform” gets thrown around a lot, but is often misunderstood. Platform isn’t just a fancy name for a distribution channel or a service delivered through the cloud. Channels are one-way pipes; platforms are two-sided networks. It’s the difference between Netflix and YouTube. Netflix has an audience and adds content incrementally. YouTube has a community and adds content exponentially. GoPro understands this well, engaging their customers not just as an audience of consumers, but a community of co-creators. According to Paul Crandall, SVP of Marketing at GoPro, the goal is “to make our customers the heroes by showcasing their enthusiasm and content on our platforms.”

To generate participation, marketers must engage more authentically, with a focus on ongoing relationships beyond individual impressions or transactions. Danielle Tiedt, CMO of YouTube, says the goal isn’t “how do I create the viral video?” Instead, the goal should be “how do I use video to create an ongoing conversation that builds a relationship?” Brands must also remember that they are members of the social networks in which they participate. Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business Marketing at Twitter, told us, “as marketers, we have historically wanted to dominate the conversation, but now it needs to be about participating, not dominating.”

3. Personalize

The ease of connecting and co-creating on platforms has a downside. The amount of information can be overwhelming. Digital platforms do the work of making the experience more personalized, relevant, and meaningful. According to Middleton, platforms are becoming more intelligent. They will proactively notify us what’s important and even work as an agent on our behalf. More and more, customers are creating their own filters. They are at the center and in control. According to YouTube’s Tiedt, “Our next challenge is to make sure the things they might be interested in, they have an opportunity to discover.” And Google’s Ross thinks that the platform will be more than a place where you connect with friends; the platform itself will feel “like a friend that knows you.”

4. Product

To date, digital platforms have been the place you go to talk about products. But the relationship between products and platforms is about to undergo a significant disruption. First, platforms are going to be more integrated into our products and services. As an example, Uber customers can now select the music for their trip directly from their Spotify playlists. Nick Besbeas, former VP of Marketing at LinkedIn, believes “the lines between product and marketing are blurring.”

Second, our products are going to start showing up in our platforms. Today, a spouse might send a reminder to pick up the milk or get the oil changed. It won’t be long until our connected refrigerator or connected car sends the message itself, most likely through a digital platform. Ross believes the convergence of digital platforms with connected deviceswill be “one of the most disruptive forces” as “the net is increasingly around us and on us.” The Internet of Things will soon be the Social Network of Things.

5. Process

We tend to focus on digital platforms that are customer-facing, but they are also happening internally and behind the scenes. Twitter’s Middleton notes that bid management and customer experience platforms are bringing social media, display, search, and CRM together, connecting customer acquisition, customer service, and customer retention. Companies are adopting platforms to reshape other business processes, ranging from employee communications to performance management to professional development. We believe a phenomenon is emerging that one might call “platform symmetry.” Companies that want to engage customers who use platforms to manage their lives must equally use platforms to manage their organizations. And leaders who want their customers to engage with their brands on platforms must also participate themselves. In a social age, you truly get what you give.

6. Pay

Have you noticed that payments are disappearing? The convenience of a swipe is giving way to the even greater convenience of – nothing. Thanks to digital wallets, we can download an app, pay the driver, or order a coffee without touching our wallet. In the future, we can expect even greater integration of e-commerce and social networks on digital platforms. Lara Balazs, SVP of North America Marketing at Visa, says that digital payments are creating frictionless ways to shop and pay. Where payment used to be an afterthought, it’s now becoming critical to the experience itself.

When you’re on a social network, the act of making a payment can feel a bit odd, or even unsettling. It’s part of a relational context that anthropologists call a “gift economy.” But the invisible nature of digital payments is making a new era of social commerce possible – one in which transactions are seamlessly embedded inside of ongoing collaborative relationships between customers and businesses, instead of being the culmination of a temporary commercial relationship.

7. Partner

To layer product, process, and payment on top of people, participation and personalization, companies will need to get even better at partnership and collaboration. According to Ross, customers won’t want to use more than one platform for any given purpose. Platforms and providers are going to have to work together to “unlock the connectivity” and deliver a compelling and seamless user experience. The smarter home will require partnerships with appliance manufacturers, and the connected car will require the same of carmakers. We can expect digital platforms to move beyond software platforms to business platforms with associated ecosystems, creating new opportunities for brands to form unexpected alliances.

Marketers need to continuously evolve the way they think about adding value to their customers beyond the products and services they sell. Companies that win the hearts and minds of customers will be the ones that put their customers’ passions, goals, and inspiration at the forefront. The more you engage, involve and empower your customer, the more your customer will want to engage with your brand.

A study by Adobe found that 80% of marketers believe their role is fundamentally changing, and that 40% believe they need to reinvent themselves to keep pace. According to Ann Lewnes, CMO at Adobe, new technologies like digital platforms are just the beginning. Marketing leaders need to rethink how they approach people and process. They need to attract talent in areas like data science, social media, and web analytics that didn’t exist five years ago. And they need to create opportunities for their employees to re-skill and reinvent themselves too.

Our conversations suggest that for marketers, the road ahead will not be getting easier anytime soon. Digital platforms are evolving to be more robust, relevant, and intelligent. This makes things easier for us as individuals, but more challenging for companies with traditional mindsets, structures, and practices. Customers are setting the pace in this race. Whoever can keep up with the customer will share the winners’ circle.

10 Things that Successful People Do Before Bed

1. They review their day

Steve Jobs was a strong proponent of living life to the fullest every day. He wonderfully explained this concept when he said: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”

All successful and wealthy people, before going to sleep, they think about if what are doing has meaning. At the end of each day, they think about how have positively contributed to the world and review if the goals achieved are in line with their overall vision. Thus, they make plans to track their progress and take notes to put the best in every single things they do.

So today, before going to sleep, review your day because it will force you to clarify what you want and motivate you to take action on your goals.

2. They write down their thoughts

Emmy-winning talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres used to write down her thoughts, feelings and emotions when she was younger:  “Writing is truly cathartic, because it just lets it all out and brings the best out of you”.

Super productive and successful people write down their thoughts,  sensations, feelings and emotions. They try to analyze when and why things went right and wrong. They write to improve their communication and thinking skills to be a better leader. So, by writing things down you can help yourself to sharpen your thinking, clear your mind, destroy negative self-talk and pay attention to your most dominant emotions through the day. Journaling may tell you something that you haven’t really paid much attention to about yourself or about your life.

People like Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Carnegie, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Winston Churchill kept a diary, so why not giving a shot?

3. They stick their noses into books

This is the proof that readers are great leaders. Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates is an avid reader. Each night before bed, he spends an hour reading a book, ranging on a variety of topics.

Many successful people in the world are voracious readers. They read at least for 10-20 minutes before going to bed every day and they learn from what others talk about. They expand their know-how to be better prepared to lead and motivate their team and build multimillionaire businesses.

Another big benefit from sticking your nose into a good book on a nightly basis is because reading  improve the long term health of your brain.

4. They set priorities for the next morning

With so many things happening on a daily basis it can be really easy to lose focus on what you are trying to accomplish. That’s why, before bed time, productive people review their schedule and plan for the following day.

They make a list of everything they have to do and before they start working they set priorities on the list. This allow them to go into the next workday feeling better prepared, more confident, and less stressed. Include this life-changing tip in your daily routine by writing down your top 3 to 5 most important tasks you need to do the next day. If for any reason you don’t do this, it should be the first thing you do every morning. And remember, every minute spent in planning saves 10 minutes in execution.

5. They spend quality time with family

“A man should never neglect his family for business.” -Walt Disney

Totally true! You have to spend quality time with your family in order to get connected and stay connected. Life is really hectic, and whatever you are an entrepreneur or an employee it always feels like there are a million things to do and the clock is against you.

But it’s really important to treat time with your family as a priority. So spend more time having meaningful conversations with your children, siblings or parents. Turn off the TV, eat dinner with your family and talk. The more time you spend together, the better chance you have of sharing quality experiences.

6. They get things done

Super productive people use their skills, talents, energies, and knowledge to the fullest extent possible. They do the things that need to be done, not just the things they like to do. They are willing to work hard and to commit themselves to getting the job done by the end of the day.

Nobody knows this better than US President Barack Obama that start the day the night before. When he awakens at seven, he already has a jump on things. We all have 24 hours and you need to use your time wisely, that’s why successful people squeeze the most out of those 24 hours as they can.

7. They do a digital detox

After being collapsed to the floor from exhaustion and lack of sleep, Arianna Huffington has been an evangelist for “unplugging”. In her best-selling book Thrive, she shares the importance of disconnect from our hectic life, relax and take care of our body and soul, redefining what it means to be successful in today’s world.

So, every night before bed, put your phone in another room, turn off the Tv and spent some time in stillness. You will feel your energy soar and overall health improve. In addition, you will have more time for other activities you really enjoy.

8. They spend time in nature

There is no greater example than Sir Richard Branson. However as Branson has demonstrated throughout his hectic business career, that doesn’t mean you have to cut out the things you enjoy most in life. To be refreshed and ready for anything, you need to find time to go in nature and have fun.

If you can’t swim in the crystal clear water of the Caribbean, having a walk routine could be a perfect way to turn off your thoughts about work after a stressful day and reflect on different things that interest you or to just empty your mind and enjoy the silence.

9. They meditate

Russell Simmons, Tim Ferriss and Oprah Winfrey, just to name a few, all meditate in the morning and before bed to perform to their full potential throughout the day. In fact, when our mind is more relaxed we are more receptive to ideas and find even easier to focus on frustrating tasks.

So set aside 10 minutes each day before going to sleep to meditate and let your thoughts flow naturally. The next day you will be more energetic, focused and productive.

10. They envision their future

Many successful people take a few minutes before bed to envision a positive outcome unfolding for the projects they’re working on. Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s super productive people who use visualization techniques to picture tomorrow’s success and get clarity on challenges and obstacles. So, spend a few minutes each night visualizing yourself as successful the next day. This will help motivate you to make it happen because you’ve already seen it in your mind’s eye.

If you can develop these 10 habits of successful people you will increase your productivity overnight and your life will be a lot better. So, what successful habits do you practice before going to bed?

Top 7 Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Website

“Build it and they will come,” goes the line, but with so many options for online shoppers, how do you get them to come? Selling online means the world is your customer, but that can also mean more competition for those online dollars.  If you are looking for immediate traffic, and have set aside some funds for promotional use, paying for online ads is a fast way to build a customer base. You generally don’t pay based on how often your ad is displayed, but rather only when someone clicks on it, which makes online advertising a good way to get customers, and reinforce your brand. When you have more time and are looking for a long term strategy, there are a number of great ways such as SEO, social media and email to get the public’s attention; they just take some time and a bit of elbow grease. Done well, this is where you might have an edge over some of your competition since many stores often overlook these strategies as being too time-intensive, or not possibly relatable to their industry. Here are a few ways to lead those shoppers to your virtual door.

1. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Ads

There are a lot of “pay-per-click” options out there, but PPC generally refers to the text-only ads that appear at the top of your search results. These text ads may not be as eye-catching as other types of online ads, but they do allow you an opportunity to describe unique benefits of your store and products: easy returns, non-stick, made in the USA.

Best for… broad categories of similar products that have an average to above-average profit margin (shower curtains, car parts) and for services (accounting, wedding planners)

2. Comparison Shopping Engines

These are the product images you might see while searching for products. Examples of comparison shopping engines include Google Shopping, Bing Shopping, Amazon Product Ads and Shopzilla.   These increasingly popular product ads run based upon a feed that is uploaded from your store to the shopping engine before being displayed. Should you change a product price, if an item is out of stock, or you add new products, those changes will appear in the shopping feed results almost immediately. These ads also display the product image you have in your store, so searchers literally have a clear picture of the product you are offering, increasing your conversion rate (the number of people who click on an ad and continue on to purchase) and discouraging unwanted clicks.

Best for… products with good pictures, product titles/descriptions and competitive pricing/shipping – since the price is displayed with the product for all ads for customers to compare.

3. Banner Ads

These are the rectangular graphic ads that appear on individual websites as opposed to in the results of search engine query. You can pick which participating websites you want to advertise on, but a more recent use of banner ads is called Remarketing or Retargeting Advertising, where you target customers who have already visited your store. Since they have already visited once, you have a higher likelihood of getting them to make a purchase in the future. You can create different messaging to target visitors who just perused your store, to those that added something to the shopping cart and left, or your customers that bought something and you want to encourage them to make future purchases. Remarketing ads are a good way of reinforcing your brand, and driving traffic to your store.

Best for… stores with a longer buying cycle (furniture, real estate, auto) or with frequent, returning sales (food, clothing). It is also best if you have the ability to design your own ads, or have access to someone who can.

4. Dynamic Shopping Feeds

Similar to remarketing, dynamic shopping ads populate a banner ad with a picture of a product your customer recently viewed. It’s basically an advertisement tailored for that customer! No design expertise required – just pick a format and color scheme, upload a logo, and the search engine will populate it with the appropriate products from your store.

5. SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has evolved along with the search engines’ algorithms. There are dozens of techniques and tactics when it comes to optimizing your site, but many of the current strategies can be boiled down to creating unique, relevant content for every category and product page of your site. Many of your competitors are using the same manufacturer-provided product information, or repeating the basic description for every product in a category. Writing detailed descriptions for each of your categories and products will help you stand out to the search engines. It’s a daunting task, so prioritize and update your site as you have time.

Best for…every online store!

6. Social Media

This is a great place to demonstrate your expertise in your industry and create a loyal group of customers. Best of all, you can create a community around just about any industry. If you sell air filters you can create a forum for allergy suffers to get advice from each other. Sell seasonal items like pool supplies? Keep your audience thinking of your through the off-season by posting dreamy, vacation-spot pool photos in the winter time. The goal here is to stay top of mind, so that when they are ready to buy, they visit your store first.
We have written much on this blog about the different flavors of social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc. They all have their audience, and one or more of them should work for your brand.

Best for…every store owner who has a finger on the pulse of their audience, and the time to post several times a week

7. Email

Don’t overlook email marketing for incentivizing your visitors to return to your store. Use targeted promotions, discounts, coupons, and articles relevant to your audience’s interest to keep them coming back.

Best for…stores that want to promote a design style, or service, and have the potential for frequently returning customers.

Whatever you do, don’t forget the passion you have for your own business, and put that into your marketing. Make people sit up and take notice, and turn them into customers for life.