For additional tips and tricks to avoid wasteful meetings and ensure you make the most out of meeting time, check out a book I wrote on “Running Effective Marketing Meetings“.
Thanks to Christopher S. Penn and his newsletter I read this amazing post by SEOmoz on “21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic“. It not only validates some of my personal beliefs but also gave me additional tactics to apply to my own blog as well as companies I work with.
The tactics discussed in the article are:
- Target Your Content to an Audience Likely to Share
- Participate in the Communities Where Your Audience Already Gathers
- Make Your Blog’s Content SEO-Friendly
- Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to Share Your Posts & Find New Connections
- Install Analytics and Pay Attention to the Results
- Add Graphics, Photos and Illustrations (with link-back licensing)
- Conduct Keyword Research While Writing Your Posts
- Frequently Reference Your Own Posts and Those of Others
- Participate in Social Sharing Communities Like Reddit + StumbleUpon
- Guest Blog (and Accept the Guest Posts of Others)
- Incorporate Great Design Into Your Site
- Interact on Other Blogs’ Comments
- Participate in Q+A Sites
- Enable Subscriptions via Feed + Email (and track them!)
- Attend and Host Events
- Use Your Email Connections (and Signature) to Promote Your Blog
- Survey Your Readers
- Add Value to a Popular Conversation
- Aggregate the Best of Your Niche
- Connect Your Web Profiles and Content to Your Blog
- Uncover the Links of Your Fellow Bloggers (and Nab ’em!)
- (Bonus) Be Consistent and Don’t Give Up
While I was indeed doing most of what they suggest, there were a couple of good tactics I had either neglected completely or kept postponing (yeah, I procrastinate sometimes… ask my wife!).
Your Checklist for Increasing Blog Traffic
Take the list above, make it into a checklist format, print it and place it somewhere next to you (like, on the wall right in front of you!). Then, make a point of every week to review it and plan your tactic for the coming week. It’s a lot to do but if you break it down into weekly tactics, dedicating 1 hour or so for a handful of them, you will see great improvement in your blog traffic.
You know what? Let me help you out. Here’s the list in a PDF format ready for you to print and use. It includes a few extra blank lines for you to add your own tactics based on your company’s goals and specific industry opportunities.
Oh, and don’t be like me. Download it now and start doing it today! 🙂
I’ve heard a few times now from companies that want to get their content marketing engine cranking but haven’t put anything out there yet because of one of the following reasons:
- We don’t have a marketing person or department
- We don’t have enough time to create content
- Our website sucks, we want to fix it first
- We are still researching topics for our blog posts
- We don’t know where to start
Any other typical reasons I missed? You have probably heard (or thought yourself) a few more, I bet.
A Simple Content Marketing Strategy
Yes, creating content is difficult. Creating blog posts, writing articles, shooting videos take time and effort. BUT (a big but for sure) you’ve gotta start somewhere!
So here’s my suggestion for those still on the fence or trying to climb what seems like a very tall content-marketing-fence: Just Do It! (sorry Nike!, don’t sue me for copyright infringement please)
That’s right, just type something and let it fly. Don’t waste time reviewing 5 times before hitting “publish”. Don’t wait three days for your team to give their feedback. Stop having second thoughts of whether anyone will like it.
You know why? Because if you are not producing any content now, anything (yes, anything!) you produce will be better than what you have today.
Yes, it’s that simple
Sure, you don’t want to publish crappy stuff. But you know what? If you add too much stress, too much “process” and too much thinking behind content creation you will set yourself for failure. Small companies or small marketing departments can’t afford to spend too much time on content marketing, I know that for a fact. There are lead generation programs, the new email marketing system being implemented, and something the sales department asked you to do (don’t they always?) a few times already.
So make your life easy and just start writing (or recording, if you will) and publishing. With time, you will be able to put more processes in place, get a good review and approval workflow, whatever you think is necessary to create quality content at your company. But, start simple. Unless you start creating something NOW you will regret not having done it sooner.
A recent article on LifeHacker talks about tips to get faster email responses. They talk about:
- Write shorter emails
- Write fewer emails
- Ask for a response
- Start with a deadline
- Only email one person at a time
Those are good, but I’d like to expand a bit on them and also put it in the perspective of a marketing manager.
Five Email Productivity Tips for Marketing Managers
1. Make subject lines work for you: Use subject lines with deadlines and action verb in order to help people spot your email easily in their inbox and to get them to act. Examples of subject lines might be:
“Webinar Email – Review Copy by Wed 10am”
“eBook Copy Approved with Changes – Finalize by Thursday”
“For review and approval – deadline is Wed 9am”
I like using either a campaign name or something that will help immediately identify the task at hand. If you start showing good use of this tactic and encourage your team to do the same, spotting the useful emails from the junk or from the typical corporate communication will be much easier.
Bonus tip: Transform your email into an action item! If using MS Outlook, just click and drag the email to the Tasks panel to create a task. Or you can also flag the email for later follow up. Other email clients have similar options.
2. Write with a purpose: Short, clear, and action oriented (what do you want to happen?) emails will get faster and better responses. So cut to the chase and get down to what you want as a result of your email. Examples are:
“Here’s the revised copy for the email invitation to the July 16 webinar. Please a) edit copy; b) send to Mark for design by Wed, c) email me the final email for approval”
“Jen, I have reviewed the presentation for the webinar and here’s what you need to do: a) add the company logo to the master slide (upper left corner); b) replace slides 3 and 5 with the new ones I mention in my notes; c) review once more for grammar and style; d) send to John for formatting by Tues noon.”
Replace paragraphs with bullet points and you’ll get people to actually do what you asked them to do. Keep each email related to a separate subject, this way is easier for the recipient to focus on one thing at a time and for you to follow up later.
Bonus tip: Need to follow up on an email you just sent a few days later? In MS Outlook you can “flag” the message before sending so it reminds you of the message later (you can also flag the message for the recipient, so if they have Outlook as well, they will be reminded of the message until they clear the flag).
3. Make the deadline clear: If you don’t say when you need it by, usually you won’t get it done. Make sure to add a deadline and action required (eg. Make changes and send back to me by EOD friday) in the beginning of the email. This way the first thing the person sees is the deadline and he or she can plan accordingly. For example, you can start the email like this:
“Jen, I need this by EOD Thursday! See below.”
“Edited and approved copy for eBook below. Please finalize by 07/15/11 at 12:00pm ET!”
Avoid using “urgent” and “ASAP” type words. They don’t mean anything. Is ASAP something due today or by tomorrow morning? Also avoid saying “send it back to me tomorrow” without giving some kind of time reference. Otherwise it becomes a debate of what “morning” means (8am or 11am?).
4. Assign an owner: Send the email to only one person, or make sure each person has an action. You may be tempted to email the whole team after a meeting outlining what was decided. Or, there’s a task involving two people (editing the new banner artwork and sending to the printer, for example) and you want them both to see the same message. OK, but make sure each person listed on the “to” or “cc” lines have some kind of action item associated to their names. It could, for example, be like this:
“Team, I need you all to read and add the following to your to-do lists based on our earlier meeting today:
Jen: Review web analytics and report back to me by Friday 11am;
Bob: Edit the latest spec sheet design as discussed, send reviewed design to Mary by Thursday 9am.. ”
5. If you attach, then make it clear: At my previous company we had a policy of never attaching a file to an email if the email was being sent internally. This was to avoid two problems, the always precious server space being eaten by files attachments in our Exchange server and to keep the latest files always in the network where it would be easier to find. Whether you have a policy like that or not, if you need to add files to your email then list and describe attachments (and name them appropriately). It could be something like this:
“… and I’m attaching the following files:
7-16-Webinar-Preso.PPT: Final version of the webinar presentation
Alpha-Prod-Whitepaper-CopyV2.doc: Whitepaper draft, please review this copy ”
Especially useful if you have many attachments, it helps ensure all attachments are accounted for when you send out the email and helps the receiver sort through all the files coming towards him/her.
Unless you have a system like what my company offers [shameless plug!] for Marketing Resource Management or Marketing Project Management, odds are you rely on email to keep your team in check. You use email to exchange files, to communicate, and get things done. That’s ok, and by using some productivity tips I hope you can at least make good use of the tools at your disposal and spend less time chasing down people and deadlines, and more time actually doing marketing.
Additional Outlook Productivity Tips
If you’re using MS Outlook, then check out additional productivity tips I have for Outlook users in this other blog post.
Webinars or webcasts, as they are sometimes called, have increased in popularity and in effectiveness within the past 5 years or so. A common tool for today’s marketer they provide a great way to reach a large number of people with your message.
I believe in three simple rules for a successful webinar program:
- Understand and map your needs
- Choose the appropriate webinar platform
- Put in place a well documented webinar process
1. Understand and map your needs
First and foremost, you should list out all the ways in which your company will be using webinars and the platform. For example, typical uses of webinar software often fall into one or more of these categories:
- Online sales demos and presentations: a sales rep shares a PowerPoint presentation and his desktop screen while walking through a product demonstration.
- Marketing presentations and educational sessions: usually involving a moderator and a speaker, sharing PowerPoint slides and often making use of polling questions and maybe annotations to engage the audience.
- Online training: an instructor sharing PowerPoint slides, maybe sharing the desktop screen and using arrows, circles, and other annotation tools to illustrate a point.
- Technical support: a technical support representative with a customer on the phone where the customer shares control of his desktop and the rep troubleshoots.
OK, before you tell me that training and tech support are not part of the traditional definition of webinar, please bear with me for a moment and I’ll explain it in time.
Depending on the category, or type, of webinar usage you will be able to list out all the features you need. Each webinar platform has a set of features that can be useful or useless and why pay a premium if you don’t care whether circles can be drawn on the screen? An interesting way of looking at it is by making a grid on a sheet of paper or using a spreadsheet comparing your needs versus the features required.
Why list technical support and online training? Although often outside the marketing/sales spectrum, there are tools out there that may not only help with webinars but can also help with the needs of the tech support and professional services departments. Why not kill three birds with one stone? So don’t discard them completely until you have spoken to these departments and determined whether they should be included in the requirements grid or not.
2. Choose the appropriate webinar platform
Now that you have listed how you will be using webinars, you’re ready to investigate and fend off vendors. In your first conversation with a vendor, you should list all the uses (maybe even share the grid with them) for the tool you want to buy and ask for a demo showcasing the specific requirements you have. This way you make sure you control the sales process and don’t waste time with a tool that does not have a feature you consider critical.
Some of the most used webinar providers are:
– Microsoft LiveMeeting
– Adobe Connect
– GoToMeeting / GoToWebinar
– Lotus Sametime
If you do a quick Google search many others will show up, including free ones like:
The Web Conferencing Council has some good information on webinars and has recently released a whitepaper comparing some of them.
One other thing to consider is the teleconference provider, especially for your marketing webinars that are likely to have dozens of attendees. Some webinar providers have their own conferencing service (GoToMeeting / GoToWebinar offers one for free and Adobe Connect users needs to use Premiere Global for an extra fee), so you should ask the question during your evaluation. The price for phone conferencing will increase the overall costs for your webinars.
3. Put together a well documented webinar process
Now that you have the tools in place, you should think carefully about the procedure to be followed for webinars, especially for the marketing webinars where multiple attendees are involved. Online lead generation events are more effective when there’s a formal procedure that is followed every time, preventing occasional glitches from happening. Thing of the following:
– When should a new session / room / webinar (the terminology varies according to the platform) be reserved?
– How will registrants get login information? Some webinar providers handle this process for you.
– Do polling questions need to be prepared in advance and uploaded?
– Do slides need to be prepared in advance and uploaded?
– Will registrants be contacted by email or phone prior to the webinar to ensure attendance?
– Will the online event be recorded? Should any special steps be taken in this case?
– Should a moderator make opening remarks and help with Questions and Answers?
These are only some of the questions that you should ask yourself as you are setting up your company’s webinar program.
Webinars, webcasts, online events, and whatever other name you have for this can be expertly handled once you know your requirements, have done vendor due diligence, and setup a process that can be followed and standardized.
I hope these simple tips will help you with your webinar initiative!