Building Creative Websites Can Be Easy. Here’s How

Web designers, ready for some good news? We have some for you, and it involves designing creative websites.

The ever-expanding global market is creating an equally expanding number of opportunities. And with it increasing competition among businesses. Increased competition is having the effect of website designer clients insisting on more creativity to drive more sales.

That’s good news for Be Theme and its users because of its emphasis on creative designs and the vast number of options available.

The creative designs are just a start. Websites have to be both flexible and conversion-optimized. That’s where a web designer’s creativity comes into play, and that’s where customizable designs allow it to happen. Below, you’ll find five simple steps you can follow to create a website that’s not only awesomely attractive but fully equipped to convert visitors into users.

5 Steps to Building Creative Websites
Step 1: Choose a mesmerizing color palette

A typical color palette is a collection of colors. A creative color palette is one that’s on-brand, attracts instant attention, and does an excellent job of supporting the message.

Examples:

Artist is an excellent example of how BOLD color touches instantly attracts attention.

artist websiteartist website

You’ll see the same in this Be Theme pre-built website. Notice how your eyes are instantly drawn to the center, and the headline.

becreativebecreative

Carbon8 cleverly aligns the color palette with its brand. Notice how effective using various shades of a primary color, in this case, green can be.

carbon 8carbon 8

BeInsurance uses a color palette that is subtle yet crisp and does an excellent job of reinforcing their message.

beinsurancebeinsurance

If you need to appeal to a larger, perhaps more diverse audience, BeFestival offers a perfect example of how to proceed.

befestivalbefestivalStep 2: Display crystal-clear images

This one’s obvious. If an image of your product or service is just a teeny-bit fuzzy on the edges, that’s the impression visitors are likely to get of your business. In any event, they’ll hope the images on the next page will be sharper.

When your clients can present their products and services with flair and clarity, it gives them an extra edge over the competition.

Examples:

BeStylist shows why this is so important. The image itself is a call to action.

bestylistbestylist

You can do a similar website with RansomLTD. While different from the previous example, the importance of using sharp, high-density images is evident.

ramsonltdramsonltd

Zajno is in some respect, a mix of the two previous examples. It makes the web designer and the client both look good.

zajnozajno

The Design Shop is another example of how to display your products with creativity and flair.

thedesignshopthedesignshopStep 3: Show visitors how your creativity benefits them

The objective in this step is not to show how creative you are, but to use your creativity to help visitors see themselves as customers.

Examples:

BeMarketing has a homepage video that does a great job of this. You can almost feel how practical and comfortable the shoe is.

bemarketingbemarketing

Lane guides the visitor through flexible and functional workplace design.

lanelane

BeSimple takes a minimalist approach using just the right graphics to convey the message.

besimplebesimple

BeTravelBlogger doesn’t rely on text to describe a travel blogger’s dream.

bebloggerbebloggerStep 4: Take advantage of white space to design creative websites

White space is the most important visual element you need to play around within your website design. You’re unlikely ever to use too much of it.

Examples:

Makespace has a clean design that carries a small but complete message.

makesimplemakesimple

BeSketch and The Drive New York are a pair of creative websites that make the most of white space to enhance their critical elements and their message.

besketchbesketchthedrive new yorkthedrive new york

BeIcecream is perhaps THE most extreme use of white space to focus on the vital element. White space is an effective and compelling part of the brand.

beicecreambeicecreamStep 5: Make your CTAs impossible to ignore

To do that, they need to be big, bold, and bright. If your CTA doesn’t get immediate attention, it’s less likely to be clicked. If it grabs attention, however, the result is usually quite the opposite.

Examples:

BeDrawing has a CTA button that stands out with its a bold color, plus it’s big enough to draw attention immediately after the headline is read. It’s also positioned to serve as a “gate” that invites visitors to enter.

bedrawingbedrawing

Stuart’s CTA buttons are clearly designed. The page itself could be described as creative or smart. It’s a pleasing mix of both.

stuartstuart

A great example is BeKids, where the CTA buttons color matches other design elements; a technique that helps them to stand out.

bekidsbekidsWrapping it up on designing creative websites

You should find the above steps and ideas helpful as they give you a surefire way to build creative websites that feature eye-catching designs and are made with conversion in mind.

Bright, crisp, and stunning visuals and the clever use of white space is your secret to success. You also want to present product or services in a way that allows visitors to imagine themselves as users.

Unless you’re blessed with an extra dose of artistic brilliance, however, is at your creative best can and usually does take time. If you find yourself juggling multiple projects and tight deadlines, you might try using a pre-built website.

Once you do, you probably won’t go back to the “old way”.

You’ll find the most comprehensive and useful gallery of creative websites imaginable on Be Theme. There are more than 450 pre-built websites to choose from and customize to your liking, and more are being added every month.

The post Building Creative Websites Can Be Easy. Here’s How appeared first on Hongkiat.

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17 WPForms Power Hacks To Grow Your Business Online


Looking to grow your business online and convert more visitors? WPForms is the best WordPress form plugin for beginners to create forms on their WordPress sites and digital marketers know that forms are more than just a simple way for users to contact you. In this video, we’ll cover powerful tools inside WPForms to help you grow your business online.

This video brought to you by WPForms, take a look at their site here:
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https://wpforms.com/
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For the discount, use our code: WPBVIP

To begin this tutorial we will be using WPForms premium and we will install the templates addon to give us powerful templates to start out with rather than a blank form where each field needs to be manually added.

WPForms’ conditional logic allows you to change what is shown and where the form is sent based on the user’s choice. This means, as an example, you can send the filled-in forms to different department emails based on the type of question or selection that the user inserts in your form or modify the confirmation message.

With the pro addons, you have the power to connect WPForms to tools such as Google Sheets, Slack, or Salesforce to let your team know about high importance messages through those different tools.

For dropdown options, WPForms has presets for filling in information such as countries, postal codes, states, months, days, or even your own custom lists. If you’re wanting to prevent everyone from only selecting the same option you can even select the option to randomize the choices per user.

There are tools for Geolocation, hidden fields, GDPR, and terms of service to give you all of the tools you’ll need to get for your site’s forms. For one time purchases, you can add PayPal and Stripe integrations for fundraising or other small purchase needs.

To prevent spam, WPForms has honeypot on by default as well as reCAPTCHA should you want to protect the form further. If you have multiple sites you can import or export the forms to each site among may other powerful tools available.

If you liked this video, then please Like and consider subscribing to our channel here for more WordPress videos.
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Feel free to take a look at the written version of this tutorial here:
https://www.wpbeginner.com/wp-tutorials/how-to-use-fomo-on-your-wordpress-site-to-increase-conversions/

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How to Create Your Own Custom Grid System in Photoshop

Grid is a popular approach to building websites. It is more consistent and makes sections proportionally right. A couple of examples of CSS Grid frameworks are 960.gs or Skeleton. However, one of the constraints of using a grid framework is that we will have less flexibility.

We are bound to the framework’s specification, and its author’s methodology, which in many cases might not be suitable for our website requirements.

In this post, we are going to show you how to create a custom grid both for CSS and Photoshop. To make the process easy, we are going to use several tools. Let’s check it out.

Install GuideGuide

First, We need to install GuideGuide, a Photoshop extension to create guide lines, specifically designated to create a Grid with ease. To be able to install GuideGuide, your Photoshop need to be at least CS4.

guideguideguideguide

The Photoshop extension can be installed through the Adobe Extension Manager, as follows.

adobe extension manageradobe extension managerCalculate Your Grid

Before we setup the guide lines in Photoshop, we need to calculate the grid, which includes the total width, the column width, the column number, and the column gutter. These can be done easily using grid calculator by Heroku.com.

In this example, I would like specify the total width for 1000px, 30px for the gutter width, and 10 for the number of columns. This tool will then automatically generate the actual content width as well as the appropriate column width.

calculate columncalculate column

You can also download the generated CSS grid.

Create the Grid

Time to get back to Photoshop. Go to this menu: Window > Extensions to show the GuideGuide panel in the Photoshop sidebar. Then, create a new Photoshop canvas, and set the canvas width in accordance with the Fulll Width – in my case, it is 1000px.

new canvasnew canvas

Fill in the fields in the GuideGuide panel – Column Gutter, Column Width, and Column Numbers – in accordance to the ones in the grid calculator.

guide fieldsguide fields

Then, in the GuideGuide panel, go to the Sets tab. In this tab you’ll find some preset guide lines. Select the Outline preset to create guide lines at the edge of the canvas.

canvas outlinecanvas outline

We are done, and here is our custom grid ready-for-use for designing a website.

custom gridcustom grid

Additionally, you can add more room to breath at the left and right sides of the canvas by extending the canvas width, and then add rectangle in new layers for creating a visual helper for the columns of the grid.

Download the PSD of our example below.

Download PSD

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Lead Volume vs. Lead Quality By RuthBurrReedy

Posted by RuthBurrReedy

Ruth Burr Reedy is an SEO and online marketing consultant and speaker and the Vice President of Strategy at UpBuild, a technical marketing agency specializing in SEO, web analytics, and conversion rate optimization. This is the first post in a recurring monthly series and we’re excited! 

When you’re onboarding a new SEO client who works with a lead generation model, what do you do?

Among the many discovery questions you ask as you try to better understand your client’s business, you probably ask them, “What makes a lead a good lead?” That is, what are the qualities that make a potential customer more likely to convert to sale?

A business that’s given some thought to their ideal customer might send over some audience personas; they might talk about their target audience in more general terms. A product or service offering might be a better fit for companies of a certain size or budget, or be at a price point that requires someone at a senior level (such as a Director, VP, or C-level employee) to sign off, and your client will likely pass that information on to you if they know it. However, it’s not uncommon for these sorts of onboarding conversations to end with the client assuring you: “Just get us the leads. We’ll make the sales.”

Since SEO agencies often don’t have access to our clients’ CRM systems, we’re often using conversion to lead as a core KPI when measuring the success of our campaigns. We know enough to know that it’s not enough to drive traffic to a site; that traffic has to convert to become valuable. Armed with our clients’ assurances that what they really need is more leads, we dive into understanding the types of problems that our client’s product is designed to solve, the types of people who might have those problems, and the types of resources they might search for as they tend to solve those problems. Pretty soon, we’ve fixed the technical problems on our client’s site, helped them create and promote robust resources around their customers’ problems, and are watching the traffic and conversions pour in. Feels pretty good, right?

Unfortunately, this is often the point in a B2B engagement where the wheels start to come off the bus. Looking at the client’s analytics, everything seems great — traffic is up, conversions are also up, the site is rocking and rolling. Talk to the client, though, and you’ll often find that they’re not happy.

“Leads are up, but sales aren’t,” they might say, or “yes, we’re getting more leads, but they’re the wrong leads.” You might even hear that the sales team hates getting leads from SEO, because they don’t convert to sale, or if they do, only for small-dollar deals.

What happened?

At this point, nobody could blame you for becoming frustrated with your client. After all, they specifically said that all they cared about was getting more leads — so why aren’t they happy? Especially when you’re making the phone ring off the hook?

A key to client retention at this stage is to understand things from your client’s perspective — and particularly, from their sales team’s perspective. The important thing to remember is that when your client told you they wanted to focus on lead volume, they weren’t lying to you; it’s just that their needs have changed since having that conversation.

Chances are, your new B2B client didn’t seek out your services because everything was going great for them. When a lead gen company seeks out a new marketing partner, it’s typically because they don’t have enough leads in their pipeline. “Hungry for leads” isn’t a situation any sales team wants to be in: every minute they spend sitting around, waiting for leads to come in is a minute they’re not spending meeting their sales and revenue targets. It’s really stressful, and could even mean their jobs are at stake. So, when they brought you on, is it any wonder their first order of business was “just get us the leads?” Any lead is better than no lead at all.

Now, however, you’ve got a nice little flywheel running, bringing new leads to the sales team’s inbox all the livelong day, and the team has a whole new problem: talking to leads that they perceive as a waste of their time. 

A different kind of lead

Lead-gen SEO is often a top-of-funnel play. Up to the point when the client brought you on, the leads coming in were likely mostly from branded and direct traffic — they’re people who already know something about the business, and are closer to being ready to buy. They’re already toward the middle of the sales funnel before they even talk to a salesperson.

SEO, especially for a business with any kind of established brand, is often about driving awareness and discovery. The people who already know about the business know how to get in touch when they’re ready to buy; SEO is designed to get the business in front of people who may not already know that this solution to their problems exists, and hopefully sell it to them.

A fledgling SEO campaign should generate more leads, but it also often means a lower percentage of good leads. It’s common to see conversion rates, both from session to lead and from lead to sale, go down during awareness-building marketing. The bet you’re making here is that you’re driving enough qualified traffic that even as conversion rates go down, your total number of conversions (again, both to lead and to sale) is still going up, as is your total revenue.

So, now you’ve brought in the lead volume that was your initial mandate, but the leads are at a different point in their customer journey, and some of them may not be in a position to buy at all. This can lead to the perception that the sales team is wasting all of their time talking to people who will never buy. Since it takes longer to close a sale than it does to disqualify a lead, the increase in less-qualified leads will become apparent long before a corresponding uptick in sales — and since these leads are earlier in their customer journey, they may take longer to convert to sale than the sales team is used to.

At this stage, you might ask for reports from the client’s CRM, or direct access, so you can better understand what their sales team is seeing. To complicate matters further, though, attribution in most CRMs is kind of terrible. It’s often very rigid; the CRM’s definitions of channels may not match those of Google Analytics, leading to discrepancies in channel numbers; it may not have been set up correctly in the first place; it’s opaque, often relying on “secret sauce” to attribute sales per channel; and it still tends to encourage salespeople to focus on the first or last touch. So, if SEO is driving a lot of traffic that later converts to lead as Direct, the client may not even be aware that SEO is driving those leads.

None of this matters, of course, if the client fires you before you have a chance to show the revenue that SEO is really driving. You need to show that you can drive lead quality from the get-go, so that by the time the client realizes that lead volume alone isn’t what they want, you’re prepared to have that conversation.

Resist the temptation to qualify at the keyword level

When a client is first distressed about lead quality, It’s tempting to do a second round of keyword research and targeting to try to dial in their ideal decision-maker; in fact, they may specifically ask you to do so. Unfortunately, there’s not a great way to do that at the query level. Sure, enterprise-level leads might be searching “enterprise blue widget software,” but it’s difficult to target that term without also targeting “blue widget software,” and there’s no guarantee that your target customers are going to add the “enterprise” qualifier. Instead, use your ideal users’ behaviors on the site to determine which topics, messages, and calls to action resonate with them best — then update site content to better appeal to that target user

Change the onboarding conversation

We’ve already talked about asking clients, “what makes a lead a good lead?” I would argue, though, that a better question is “how do you qualify leads?” 

Sit down with as many members of the sales team as you can (since you’re doing this at the beginning of the engagement — before you’re crushing it driving leads, they should have a bit more time to talk to you) and ask how they decide which leads to focus on. If you can, ask to listen in on a sales call or watch over their shoulder as they go through their new leads. 

At first, they may talk about how lead qualification depends on a complicated combination of factors. Often, though, the sales team is really making decisions about who’s worth their time based on just one or two factors (usually budget or title, although it might also be something like company size). Try to nail them down on their most important one.

Implement a lead scoring model

There are a bunch of different ways to do this in Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager (Alex from UpBuild has a writeup of our method, here). Essentially, when a prospect submits a lead conversion form, you’ll want to:

Look for the value of your “most important” lead qualification factor in the form,And then fire an Event “scoring” the conversion in Google Analytics as e.g. Hot, Warm, or Cold.

This might look like detecting the value put into an “Annual Revenue” field or drop-down and assigning a score accordingly; or using RegEx to detect when the “Title” field contains Director, Vice President, or CMO and scoring higher. I like to use the same Event Category for all conversions from the same form, so they can all roll up into one Goal in Google Analytics, then using the Action or Label field to track the scoring data. For example, I might have an Event Category of “Lead Form Submit” for all lead form submission Events, then break out the Actions into “Hot Lead — $5000+,” “Warm Lead — $1000–$5000,” etc.

Note: Don’t use this methodology to pass individual lead information back into Google Analytics. Even something like Job Title could be construed as Personally Identifiable Information, a big no-no where Google Analytics is concerned. We’re not trying to track individual leads’ behaviors, here; we’re trying to group conversions into ranges.

How to use scored leads

Drive the conversation around sales lifecycle. The bigger the company and the higher the budget, the more time and touches it will take before they’re ready to even talk to you. This means that with a new campaign, you’ll typically see Cold leads coming in first, then Hot and Warm trickling in overtime. Capturing this data allows you to set an agreed-upon time in the future when you and the client can discuss whether this is working, instead of cutting off campaigns/strategies before they have a chance to perform (it will also allow you to correctly set Campaign time-out in GA to reflect the full customer journey).

Allocate spend. How do your sales team’s favorite leads tend to get to the site? Does a well-timed PPC or display ad after their initial visit drive them back to make a purchase? Understanding the channels your best leads use to find and return to the site will help your client spend smarter.

Create better-targeted content. Many businesses with successful blogs will have a post or two that drives a great deal of traffic, but almost no qualified leads. Understanding where your traffic goals don’t align with your conversion goals will keep you from wasting time creating content that ranks, but won’t make money.

Build better links. The best links don’t just drive “link equity,” whatever that even means anymore — they drive referral traffic. What kinds of websites drive lots of high-scoring leads, and where else can you get those high-quality referrals?

Optimize for on-page conversion. How do your best-scoring leads use the site? Where are the points in the customer journey where they drop off, and how can you best remove friction and add nurturing? Looking at how your Cold leads use the site will also be valuable — where are the points on-site where you can give them information to let them know they’re not a fit before they convert?

The earlier in the engagement you start collecting this information, the better equipped you’ll be to have the conversation about lead quality when it rears its ugly head.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Free Fall Pictures to Use for Your Next Web Design Project

Autumn has its own special magic, markedly different from the freshness of spring, the heat of summer, and the bitter cold of winter. The burst of colors that weave around the trees is both poignant and upbeat, a goodbye to languorous summer days and hopeful anticipation for a festive season. 

For a website design project, images of autumn used appropriately draw the viewer’s eyes to a web page or post. This season brings numerous opportunities for photography of nature, landscapes, objects and symbolic things.

The colors and its combinations can be eye-catching or delicate, subtle or in your face, and complementary or contrasting. The season’s leaves come in spectacular shapes, colors and conditions – in red, orange, yellow, gold, and amber; ovate or elliptical, or the distinctive multi-leaflet maple leaf; perfect or torn, mottled or unspotted. 

Related: 35 Autumn and Fall Design Elements For Your Next Project

Creating a website or blog is easy. The hard part is drawing traffic to it. Aside from brilliant, well-written content, images are critical for forming connections, the more personal the better. Photos about autumn can evoke varying emotions in the viewers looking at them. They can feel nostalgic and sentimental, like some music, or melancholic, optimistic and excited, when you think about Thanksgiving Day and lavish dinners with families.

Don’t limit yourself to real pictures. Illustrations and vectors work fine, too, and can get across messages that sometimes, pictures don’t. They also come free, as with images. As a reminder, always think SEO with images, as with your content. A mistake of many bloggers is to dismiss the importance of pictures in SEO. A lot of times, it’s simply the caption of your image that pushes the user to click and visit your site. Learn about image SEO tips and apply them to your post. 

Talk about budget, a vital consideration when putting up a website. If you can have anything for free, why not? As long as it’s good and legal. As if free pictures aren’t enough, you can also get free templates that are customizable and easy to use. Choose one with a concept and layout to match your business or theme and try out its features to make your site unique. 

Here are fall pictures we’ve gathered for your website. They’re downloadable in different sizes and free to use. Most of them show trees and leaves. Some are images related to autumn activities, like Halloween and pumpkins. And just to show your appreciation, make the proper attribution or buy them a cup of coffee. 

Autumn free images for your next web design project: 

Photo by Fernanda Publio from Burst

Autumn leaf cookies in an assortment of muted oranges, reds, and yellows make a nice contrast with the graphite gray tray in this photo 

Free photos from Burst are available in high or low resolution 

Source

Spooky-carved or in their natural state, the bright orange pumpkins add to the season’s festival of colors

Source

A road cuts through forest trees cloaked in various shades of autumn colors 

Source

A park ablaze with fall’s colors in the heart of a bustling city offers a respite for tired eyes. 

Source

A bright blue sky and tree-lined pavement covered with fallen leaves is autumn’s last hurrah 

These images are from Unsplash.com, a great site for getting stock photos. You can resize Unsplash free hi-res photos according to your usage. It also provides an option for transforming portrait images to landscape. 

Photo by Alfred Schrock on Unsplash

The vibrant color of the lone acorn stands out against the muted fallen autumn leaves on a pavement. 

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Nature’s glory shows the blaze of these red orange trees in autumn against a backdrop of the dark and forbidding mountains and thunderstorm-signaling clouds. 

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

A cluster of autumn leaves in hues of purple, magenta, peridot and citrine with specks of colors make for a colorful image 

Photo by Dmitry Tulupov on Unsplash

Fallen leaves of yellow and sepia are strewn on the green grass that is yet out of autumn’s reach 

Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

Beyond the archway where a deer stands are the amazingly beautiful fall foliage in Japan 

Pixabay has long been many bloggers’ favorite site for free images. It has high-quality pictures that are contributed by various photographers and they are downloadable in many sizes.

Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Sunlight shines on russet-red oak leaves ushering in autumn with their stunning close-up view 

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Turning yellow in autumn, two maple leaves float and land into a dainty teacup with leaf design. 

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

A picturesque scenery of colorful trees in autumn is reflected on the pond and an empty bench invites the viewer to take a seat 

Image by wagrati_photo from Pixabay

A squirrel finds its meal among the fallen leaves of the autumn season 

Image by Louise Dav from Pixabay

Glorious autumn is depicted in this countryside illustration 

free fall picturesImage by Valentin Sabau from Pixabay

Benches in a city park as autumn nears, as seen in a few trees that have gone ahead of the others 

free fall picturesImage by Ambir Tolang from Pixabay

Yellow autumn leaves on ebony black trunks add color to the drab gray of a city’s streets 

The post Free Fall Pictures to Use for Your Next Web Design Project appeared first on SpyreStudios.

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Google Street View ready cameras


Get Moving with Street View: find out what it means to use the new Street View ready tools.

Visit http://g.co/StreetViewPublishing to find out more.

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60+ Most Wanted WordPress Tricks and Hacks (Updated)

Have you ever came across a WordPress blog, saw something you liked, and thought; how they did that, is that a plugin or hack? where can I get those cool mods? etc. Well, you’re not alone in thinking like that. Most WordPress users are always looking or some new ways to optimize their experience.

Keeping this in mind, we created this article by asking WordPress blog owners what kind of hacks and plugins they frequently look for to enhance their blog in any aspect. And here’s our outcome – 60+ most wanted WordPress tips, tricks and tweaks, including those you probably don’t even know the keywords to search for. Let’s take a look at the content.

Useful plugins you should know…
Revert Plugins or Themes to Previous Version (Easily)

As with any other system update, there is a chance that a new plugin or theme update may accidentally screw up your website. WordPress does not allow us to revert to the previous version but you can install this plugin WP-Rollback to get that functionality. Once it is activated it will add a link “Rollback” on any installed plugin.

wordpress rollbackwordpress rollbackText Editor SyntaxHighlighter

The WordPress text-mode editor is pretty plain. You can make it more user-friendly by installing HTML Editor SyntaxHighlighter, a plugin that adds syntax coloring like in a code editor. It will make editing a lot easier, especially if you use Text-mode editor more often than the Visual (WYSIWYG) counterpart.

wordpress syntax highlightwordpress syntax highlightInstall Plugin with Single Click

For more plugin management, you could install WP-Core. This is a plugin that makes WordPress plugin installations more streamlined. You can also makes a Collection to put several plugins together and install them with one click.

one click installone click installShow Disk Usage Chart

Install this plugin Disk Usage Sunburst to display a beautiful visualization, similar to DaisyDisk, of your website disk space usage. A quite useful utility to add to your website.

Add Gravatar for post author

Showing an avatar image is one way to get recognized online. With Gravatar be part of the WordPress Core, we can easily show an avatar within your theme from your Gravatar account very easily. This article from ThemeShaper will show you how.

Using custom page as homepage

WordPress will display a list of posts on the home page. But did you know that you can select a specific page to show static content and use other page to show the list of Posts.

Create and display thumbnails for each blog post

This article shows you how to show featured image on your post using the WordPress built-in post thumbnail feature. It’s so easy now to do this. No more hacking around with old ways like TimThumb or hacknig around with the custom field.

Create and display category image

Even so now you can easily show a catgory image the WordPress way. Simply use this plugin called WP Term Images.

Protect CSS mods for any WordPress theme

Let’s learn how you can add a custom CSS on your theme without having to worry that it’ll be overriden.

Open links in new windows by default

It might be a good idea to open up all links of external sites in a new window, by default. This will allow your users to navigate both your site and the external site at the same. In other words, users will stay longer on your site.

open links external defaultopen links external defaultWordPress thumbnail size limit

If you’re ever frustratted by your author uploading a blurry or too small of a featured image, this is the perfect plugin for you. Use this plugin to set the minimum height and with that they should be uploading.

min thumb sizemin thumb sizeSeperate comments from Trackbacks/Pingbacks

WordPress shows both comments and trackbacks and pingbacks in the order of when they are posted. Let’s tidy them up by separating them in a different section.

Creating an Archive Index

Learn how to create a special page in WordPress showing links to all your previous posts arranged in yearly or monthly order.

Custom login page

Creating a beautiful WordPress login page gets so much easier with this plugin. You can pick color, background, and it’s position. It just works and no need to code.

custom login pagecustom login pagePost text and image count

A clever way to count images in your post but leaving the default WordPress smilies out (which is also technically an image), and display the number.

Place content only in RSS Feed

Place additional content in the RSS feed, but not in the content in the website itself. You could use it to place, for example, a copyright notice on your content.

Adding Tabs to Content

Organize your content with Tabs using this plugin. Using Tab is perfect way to show more content in very little or limited space.

tab content in wordpresstab content in wordpressSidebar With Dynamic Contents

Sidebar often is boring as they look the same in every pages. Let’s learn how to show different content in the sidebar.

Google Syntax Highlighter for WordPress

With this plugin, you can add proper syntax colors to the code block in the content, and let your users to copy the code easily.

syntax highlight wordpresssyntax highlight wordpressAdd Breadcrumbs to Your WordPress Blog

Breadcrumb navigation is good for both SEO and your users. Use this plugin to add one on your site.

Buy Me a Beer

Add a Paypal button to your site to let your users send a donation. The plugin makes it very easy to add the button any where in your site and change the styles of the button to match your liking.

wordpress donate buttonwordpress donate button Detect Adblocker and display alternative

Display a notice for usrs with AdBlocker. A handy plugin to optimize your ad-based revenue on your site.

Alternative way to display dates

Format the timestamp on Posts or Comments that’s easy to read and understand. For example, we can show Yesterday or 2 Days Ago instead of 17th August 2019.

Check for Broken Links

Broken can be irritating. Use this plugin to check broken links on every Posts on your site.

Display Thumbnails for Related Post

Ever wonder how to add related posts right after the main content? In WordPress, adding related posts along with the image thumbnail is easy with this plugin.

related post thumbsrelated post thumbsWordPress Plugin Download Counter

Do you have plugin plublished in WordPress.org repository? Here’s the script if you’d like to show the number of downloads the your plugin has got.

Here’s more…
Disabling Full-Height Editor

WordPress 4.0 added a subtle UX change in the editor. If you are scrolling or writing a length paragraph, the height of the editor will match the height of your screen, eliminating the scroll-bars inside the editor.

To reach some panels like the Excerpt and Custom Fields that reside below the editor, you need to scroll all the way down through the end of paragraph. If you don’t want this, tick the option off in the Screen Options panel.

Note: If you’re enabling the block editor a.k.a the Gutenberg, this tip is no longer applicable because WordPress has changed the entire editor interface.

Adding Icon in Menu

Follow this tip to add icon beside your website menu items giving your menu navigation more visual appeal.

Install WordPress Plugin via Github

Did you find a WordPress plugin in Github that you want to install in your website? Follow this tip on how to install plugins conveniently with just a few clicks. Be careful though of what you install as plugins are not moderated. There may be a chance that malicious codes may allow infiltration of your website.

And finally…

Beyond this point are advanced tips and tricks for those who feel like exploring, and those who enjoy getting their hands dirty with codes. However, many of the following tips may render your website unusable, hence they should be carried out with more attention and with extra caution.

WordPress Output Debug File

This snippet will tell WordPress to save the debug log error in a .log file instead of displaying it in the front-end. A handy snippet to enable WordPress debugging in a live site.

define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);
define(‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true);
define(‘WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY’, false);
Using Jetpack Modules – Offline

Run and enable all Jetpack modules offline including the modules that actually requires you to connect to WordPress.com to work; a useful tip if you are developing and integrating Jetpack modules to your theme.

Disable self-ping / self-trackback

This trick prevents WordPress from self-ping, which happens if you cross-link pages or posts of your own website.

function no_self_ping( &$links ) {
$home = get_option( ‘home’ );
foreach ( $links as $l => $link )
if ( 0 === strpos( $link, $home ) )
unset($links[$l]);
}
add_action( ‘pre_ping’, ‘no_self_ping’ );

Another way you can use is by installing Disabler plugin. It is a plugin that allows you to turn on or off certain WordPress functionality including disabling self-ping.

Pre-Populate Content

This tip is quite useful if you want to add default content each time you create a new post, page, or custom post type content; the idea is similar to adding a standard signature when creating new emails.

Custom Class for Post

The following tip explores some customization of WordPress Post Class thoroughly with post_class. It’s helpful if you want to be more specific with regards to your post styles.

Loading Alternative Template

WordPress uses single.php to show post content. If you want to change it to, perhaps, post.php, this tip will show you how to override default WordPress templates correctly.

WordPress Theme Customizer from Scratch

WordPress 3.4 adds a new API called Customizer which allows you to build controls to customize theme and see the result in real-time. The Customizer API may be overwhleming for some, though, as it involves multi-disciplinary code sets including PHP, JavaScript, Ajax, and jQuery.

Nonetheless, Theme Foundation has compiled a complete guide to WordPress Customizer. You will learn how to add the Customize menu, build Sections, Settings, Input Controls as well as Panels, and learn their functions all together – in and out. An essential reference for WordPress theme developers.

Using Vagrant with WordPress

Vagrant is a great tool to create a virtual environment, and to run a test of your WordPress development to ensure that themes and plugins would work in varying instances. In this following tip, Daniel Pataki, will walk you through how to get your WordPress site up and running with Vagrant.

Retrieving WordPress Gravatar URL

The WordPress get_avatar() is a handy function to get a user’s avatar; the function retrieves the image along with the img element. But sometimes I want to grab just the image URL so that I could freely and easily add custom classes or ids to the image.

If you have this in mind, add the following code in your functions.php:

function get_avatar_img_url() {
$user_email = get_the_author_meta( ‘user_email’ );
$url = ‘http://gravatar.com/avatar/’ . md5( $user_email );
$url = add_query_arg( array(
‘s’ => 80,
‘d’ => ‘mm’,
), $url );

return esc_url_raw( $url );
}

Then somewhere in another file – perhaps single.php or page.php – use the following code to show the image.

$avatar_url = get_avatar_img_url();
echo ‘<img src=” ‘ . $avatar_url . ‘ “>’;

Here’s a more detailed post to break it down for you.

Remove Classes From Menu

WordPress, by default, adds a bunch of classes. While this is good to allow extensive customization, the menu HTML markup looks really cluttered. Tidy it up and add only the class you need with the snippet below.

Applying SSL In WordPress Multisite

SSL, not only secures your website, but also bumps up the rankings in Google search result. In the following tip, Jenni McKinnon covers how to deploy SSL in WordPress multisites that may employ multiple sub-domains.

Customizing WordPress Content Editor

Adding styles to the editor will improve the writing experience in WordPress editor. You can match the typographic styles of the backend with the front-end allowing you to see the final version (or a version as close to the final as possible) while writing. This will reduce the switching of back and forth between the editor and the content output.

function my_editor_styles() {
add_editor_style( ‘editor-style.css’ );
}
add_action( ‘admin_init’, ‘my_editor_styles’ );

Creating Plugin Welcome Screen

If you have just updated WordPress you will be redirected to a special screen, showing the details of the latest version you have just installed, the contributors, the additions as well as all the changes made under the hood. This tip, Creating a Welcome Screen For Your WordPress Plugin by Daniel Pataki will guide you through how to build a welcome screen for your own plugin.

Customize Jetpack Mobile Theme

Jetpack comes with a Mobile Theme. It is a special theme that is used when the website is viewed on mobile devices. And like any other theme, we can customize it. Here’s a how-to by Jeremy, one of Jetpack developers, on how to customize the Jetpack Mobile Theme. It’s a good alternative to consider in place of responsive web design.

Adding Featured Image To Category

Want to add a featured image for a Category and display it in your theme? This feature is missing from WordPress, which could actually be useful for theme developers.

Display Hidden “All Settings”

A WordPress easter egg, this code snippet will add all settings in the WordPress database into one page.

Remove Update Notification

WordPress, by default, display update notifications to all user levels when they are logged in to the backend. Add the following codes to hide WordPress update notification except for users with Administrative privilege.

Add Thumbnail In Post/Page Edit List

This code will display featured images you have assigned to post in the Post column. A useful trick to see which post has a thumbnail and which does not. Note that your theme should support post thumbnails.

Sharpening Images

Honestly, I did not know that we could sharpen images in WordPress as we are uploading the image. Here’s how you can, but bear in mind that it only works for JPG images.

Remove Superfluous info In The Head

WordPress adds a bunch of things in the <head> such as WordPress version, RSD Link, and Shortlink, info that’s not all that useful. To remove these bits of info, use this:

function remove_header_info() {
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘rsd_link’ );
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘wlwmanifest_link’ );
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘wp_generator’ );
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘start_post_rel_link’ );
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘index_rel_link’ );
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘adjacent_posts_rel_link’ ); // for WordPress < 3.0
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘adjacent_posts_rel_link_wp_head’ ); // for WordPress >= 3.0
}
add_action( ‘init’, ‘remove_header_info’ );

Remove either one of remove_action from the above snippet of which you want to retain.

Smart WP_Debug

Ideally you should not enable the WP_Debug in a live site as it will expose critical information. But if you need a trick to do so safely, here it is:

if ( isset($_GET[‘debug’]) && $_GET[‘debug’] == ‘1’ ) {
// enable the reporting of notices during development – E_ALL
define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);
} elseif ( isset($_GET[‘debug’]) && $_GET[‘debug’] == ‘2’ ) {
// must be true for WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY to work
define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);
// force the display of errors
define(‘WP_DEBUG_DISPLAY’, true);
} elseif ( isset($_GET[‘debug’]) && $_GET[‘debug’] == ‘3’ ) {
// must be true for WP_DEBUG_LOG to work
define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);
// log errors to debug.log in the wp-content directory
define(‘WP_DEBUG_LOG’, true);
}

With the above code added, you can enable debugging by adding ?debug=2, ?debug=1, ?debug=3 at the end of the URL to see the error that occurs in your website.

Enable Shortcode In Widget

The following is a useful piece of code if you want to embed Youtube or SoundCloud in the widget area with a shortcode.

Set Default Editor (Visual/Text)

Set the default type of editor your users can use. Change the $editor either to html or tinymce. Of course, user would still be able to opt out of the default.

Prolong Auto-logout

WordPress allows one to remain logged in for 48 hours, plus an extension of 14 days if we check the “Remember Me” option at login. If however you are sure your computer will not be breached by a second or third party, you can add this code to keep yourself logged in for up to a year. You will only be prompted for a login once a year.

Always Use Figure

WordPress will wrap img with a p tag. If you are an HTML semantic purist, you can add this code to force WordPress to wrap image with the figure element.

Change Default Role Name

“Administrator”, “Author”, and “Subscriber” are the names given for WordPress users at the administrative level. To change these default names to something that sounds more apt for your website, add the following code, then make the change to the names to what you prefer:

Default Attachment Settings

Here’s a snippet that lets you specify the default size, alignment, and the link for images you want to embed in the editor.

Custom Image Size In Media Uploader

add_image_size is the WordPress function that allows us to crop and display custom image size. If you want to allow users to add image within this custom size, add the following codes to show the “custom image size” option in the WordPress media uploader.

Load Script Only If A Particular Shortcode Is Present

In a previous post we have shown you how to create a custom shortcode. If your shortcode requires a JavaScript function, follow The Jedi Master way by Silviu-Cristian Burcă (famously known as Scribu) to ensure that you only load the JavaScript when the shortcode is applied.

Menu Description

When you add in a menu through Appearance > Menu, you will see an input to add “Description”. But you won’t find it anywhere in the front-end as we have to customize the WordPress default menu template to include the description.

Here is an elegant way to do so.

Using Dashicons

You can now use WordPress’s very own crafted font icon, Dashicons, to add icons to the wp-admin menu. Check out our tutorial on how to start using Dashicons.

Customize “Howdy” Message

Follow our previous tutorial to change the WordPress nonsensical “howdy” message that appears at the admin bar to something more personalized.

Exclude Post From The Jetpack Popular Widget

Jetpack comes with a widget that allows you to show the most viewed or popular posts and pages. But sometimes your most popular pages could be the home page or a page that you do not want to include in the most viewed pile.

Add the following code to remove that page or post:

function jeherve_remove_post_top_posts( $posts, $post_ids, $count ) {
foreach ( $posts as $k => $post ) {
if ( ‘1215’ == $post[‘post_id’] ) {
unset( $posts[$k] );
}
}
return $posts;
}
add_filter( ‘jetpack_widget_get_top_posts’, ‘jeherve_remove_post_top_posts’, 10, 3 );

Replace the ID shown in the snippet with the ID of the post or page you want to remove.

Truncate Post Title

The following snippet controls the maximum title length. Add the following snippet in functions.php. Then use the function customTitle() in the template to output the title in place of the WordPress the_title() method.

function customTitle($limit) {
$title = get_the_title($post->ID);
if(strlen($title) > $limit) {
$title = substr($title, 0, $limit) . ‘…’;
}
echo $title;
}

If you build a WordPress Theme with a tiled layout where the tile height has to be equal, you might want to specify the limit of the title length. This snippet should come in handy in that case.

Remove WordPress Logo

WordPress 3.1 adds an admin bar, which includes a handful of links and the WordPress logo. If you are going to handout websites to a client and you want it to be brandless, here is the function to remove that WordPress logo.

QR Code with Link to Article

Improve your website accessibility for mobile devices with QR codes. This code allows you to display QR codes with a link pointing to the article. Mobile users with a QR code scanner can obtain the article link for quick viewing on their mobile devices.

<img src=”http://api.qrserver.com/v1/create-qr-code/?size=500×500&data=”
<?php the_permalink() ?>
” alt=”QR Code for
<?php the_title_attribute(); ?>

The post 60+ Most Wanted WordPress Tricks and Hacks (Updated) appeared first on Hongkiat.

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15 Reports Charting the Future of Content Marketing

Office interior with graphs and diagrams - Image.

Office interior with graphs and diagrams - Image.

How can you be as prepared and knowledgeable as possible for the complex and challenging future ahead for content marketing?

Here are 15 insightful reports loaded with B2B data to help you define and chart your optimal content marketing future, and provide the best-answer and trust-building solutions clients expect today.

The reports here, presented in random order, are all excellent sources of information to help you gain a clearer understanding of B2B content marketing, while keeping more than an eye open towards the future as marketers push onward to 2020.
1 — Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study
Edelman-LinkedIn B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study Image.

The 2019 Edelman-LinkedIn* B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study examines the theme that thought leadership digital content is in high demand, and that it remains hard to find, presenting an opportunity gap.

“Senior decision-makers are willing to pay a premium. B2B buyers are likely to pay more to work with companies who have clearly articulated their vision through thought leadership,” the study notes, pointing to a rising leadership vision trend, as our own CEO Lee Odden has examined in detail in his recent “7 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Trends for 2020.”

[bctt tweet=”“The growth of influence on individual and organizational effectiveness in the B2B marketing world will continue for years to come.”  @LeeOdden” username=”toprank”]

MarketingProfs’ Ayaz Nanji also digs into some of the Edelman-LinkedIn study’s findings in “What B2B Firms Get Wrong About Thought-Leadership Content.”

Also worth exploring is another fine new report from Edelman, the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust?, which Ethan Jakob Craft recently explored for AdAge.
2 — Content Marketing Institute / MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends
B2B Content Marketing 2019 Image

Agency content marketing statistics and budgeting trends for 2019 are examined in the fascinating and detailed “B2B Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America” report from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, which is explored in Lisa Murton Beets’ “2019 B2B Content Marketing Research: It Pays to Put Audience First.”
3 — Chief Marketer 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Survey
Chief Marketer 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Survey Image

The Chief Marketer 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Survey offers a wealth of B2B marketing data to learn from and apply to your own campaign strategies. Whether it’s which marketing channels are performing the best for B2B lead generation and nurturing, the increasing demand for higher-quality B2B content, or data to help increase support from the corporate suite, this report offers helpful insight.
4 — Vidyard: Video in Business Benchmark Report
Vidyard Video in Business Benchmark Report Image

The average length of B2B video has decreased by 33 percent to just over four minutes, while the number of viewers watching the entirety of videos has climbed to 52 percent, up from 2017’s 46 percent — just a few of the detailed statistics of interest to digital marketers contained in the newly-released 2019 Video in Business Benchmark Report from Vidyard.

The report is explored by Chief Marketer in “B2B Video Length Drops, but Engagement Increases,” and additional bonus video insight comes from a separate recent study, with MediaRadar’s “Research Insight: Video Ads Are Getting Longer.”
5 — Cision 2019 Global State of the Media Report
Cision 2019 Global State of the Media Report Image

For 2019, the tenth-annual Cision Global State of the Media Report surveyed some 2,000 journalists to find out what matters the most in the push towards 2020, including insights into social media, trust and distrust in the media, and how big data will inform the future of content marketing.
6 — Shutterstock: State of Content Marketing
Shutterstock: State of Content Marketing Image

A different take on the future of content comes from the Shutterstock: State of Content Marketing report, examining the changing roles of micro-influencers, data privacy and blockchain, micro-moments, social segmentation and personalization, plus other trends to follow.
7 — Mary Meeker 2019 Internet Trends Report
Mary Meeker 2019 Internet Trends Report Image

Since 1995, one of the most anticipated reports containing B2B trend data is the “Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report,” and for 2019 it comes in packing a whopping 333 pages of information.

Mary Meeker is founder of venture capital firm Bond Capital and former Kleiner Perkins general partner, and I recently took a close look at many of the B2B elements contained in her new report in “Key B2B Takeaways From the 2019 Internet Trends Report.”

[bctt tweet=”“Mary Meeker’s 2019 report paints a picture of a world where it’s more challenging than ever to find new growth in certain areas, but one that also shows very real opportunities in others.” @lanerellis” username=”toprank”]
8 — LinkedIn: The Enlightened Tech Buyer: Powering Customer Decisions from Acquisition to Renewal
LinkedIn The Enlightened Tech Buyer Image

LinkedIn’s 2019 global report “The Enlightened Tech Buyer: Powering Customer Decisions from Acquisition to Renewal” includes many insights for B2B marketers, taken from a survey of over 5,200 global professionals with roles centered around adopting new technology solutions.

Our Senior Content Strategist Nick Nelson examines the report in detail in “Top Takeaways from LinkedIn’s New ‘Enlightened Tech Buyer’ Report,” a great way to quickly dig in to how B2B technology brands can market and sell more effectively.

[bctt tweet=”“Effective marketing now goes beyond the scope of traditional functions. Brands need to be readily available, with the right content at the right time.” @NickNelsonMN ” username=”toprank”]
9 — Buffer: 2019 State of Social
Buffer 2019 State of Social Image

Buffer’s detailed 2019 State of Social report offers an in-depth look at what digital marketers are focusing on, along with an examination of many new and ongoing trends, and how the industry is changing.

In conjunction with Social Chain, the newest Buffer report utilizes survey data gathered from over 1,800 marketers at firms of all sizes, and looks at issues such as how businesses are investing in influencer marketing and which social platforms businesses are having the most success with.
10 — Edison Research and Triton Digital: The Social Habit
Edison Research and Triton Digital The Social Habit Image

The latest Edison Research and Triton Digital The Social Habit 2019 study includes many B2B marketing insights, leaning towards the social media side, showing how we’ve entered a new era now that social media usage has remained largely unchanged over the past four years, while Instagram has seen newfound success especially among young Americans.

Jay Baer, Founder of Convince and Convert, takes a look at the study in “Social Media Usage Statistics for 2019 Reveal Surprising Shifts.”
11 — Pew Research Center: Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019
Pew Research Center Mobile Technology Image

How the mobile landscape is changing in 2019 will have an impact on B2B marketers, and the Pew Research Center offers up a selection of related insights in its Mobile Technology and Home Broadband 2019 report.
12 — Sprout Social: Sprout Social Index: Edition XV: Empower & Elevate (2019)
Sprout Social Index Image

Sprout Social’s most recent Sprout Social Index: Edition XV: Empower & Elevate (2019) surveyed more than 1,000 social media marketers to find out where their biggest successes are coming from, and where they plan to place their focus moving ahead.

The report shows that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook Messenger, and LinkedIn are the most-used social media platforms among social marketers, and includes data relevant to B2B marketers well worth researching.

Nathan Mendenhall took a look at some of the study results in “8 Social Media Marketing Stats You Shouldn’t Ignore.”

Sprout Social has also recently updated its study of the optimal times for publishing content on various social media platforms.

13 — Hootsuite / We Are Social: Digital 2019 Q2 Global Digital Statshot
Hootsuite / We Are Social Digital 2019 Image

Hootsuite and We Are Social have produced another report filled with helpful information for B2B marketers, with their latest Digital 2019 Q2 Global Digital Statshot. The report utilized numerous sources and offers plenty of insight into where social media marketing currently stands and where it appears likely to be heading.
14 — Pew Research Center: January 2019 Core Trends Survey (2019)
Pew Research Center: January 2019 Core Trends Image

The Pew Research Center has also taken a close look at how U.S. adults are using social media, in its recent “Share of U.S. adults using social media, including Facebook, is mostly unchanged since 2018,” offering additional data to help B2B marketers prepare for the social world of 2020 and beyond.
15 — Social Media Examiner: 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
Social Media Examiner 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report Image

The final of our 15 reports is Social Media Examiner’s eleventh-annual social media marketing industry report, the 2019 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Company founder Michael Stelzner shares 46 pages of various statistical data pulled in from surveying over 4,800 marketers, and the report offers interpretation on how various aspects of social media are working for marketers today.
Fly High & Implement What You’ve Learned From 15 Reports

via GIPHY

The 15 insightful and data-packed reports we’ve explored here from the Pew Research Center, Edelman, Edison Research, Cision, Shutterstock, Mary Meeker, Buffer, LinkedIn, Content Marketing Institute, MarketingProfs, Chief Marketer, Vidyard, Triton Digital, Sprout Social, Social Media Examiner, Hootsuite, and We Are Social will help you be as prepared and up-to-date as possible for whatever the future of content marketing may hold.

Because it takes considerable time, top skills, and plenty of effort to create best-answer content marketing, it’s often wise to partner with a top-tier marketing agency, such as TopRank Marketing. We’ve had the honor of being named by Forrester as the only B2B marketing agency offering influencer marketing as a top capability in its latest “B2B Marketing Agencies, North America, Q1 2019” report.”

*LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

The post 15 Reports Charting the Future of Content Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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12 Must-Have Skills for B2B Content Marketers

B2B Content Marketing Skills

B2B Content Marketing Skills

Scene from a dinner party:

“So, Josh, what do you do?”

“I’m in marketing.”

“Oh, like Mad Men? Ad campaigns and stuff?”

“No, it’s content marketing.”

“Oh, like the Wendy’s Twitter account?”

“…Sure… like that.”

I’ve had variations on the above conversation more times than I can count. I’ll usually leave it at “Wendy’s Twitter account” in the interest of changing the subject. No one has the patience for, “I write business-to-business content designed to help people do their jobs better, which also builds affinity for a client brand, with the end goal of influencing purchase decisions.”

So most people think I just write fun stuff all day, that it’s a purely creative job. But my fellow B2B marketers know better. Content marketing requires an incredibly diverse set of skills, and “innate writing ability” isn’t even the most important one.

[bctt tweet=”Most people think I just write fun stuff all day, that it’s a purely creative job. But as my fellow #B2B marketers know, #contentmarketing requires a diverse set of skills. @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

Here’s my list of must-have B2B content marketing skills. If you’re looking to get into the career, fill out your team, or, say, hire a marketing agency, keep these in mind.
12 Must-Have B2B Content Marketing Skills
This list is divided into two categories: The “hard skills” that you learn through instruction, and the soft skills that rely more on personal development and human interaction.
Four Hard Skills
#1 – Search Engine Optimization
You don’t have to be a SemRushin’, Google Analytics wizard to be a content creator and strategist. But creating great content does require a solid understanding of modern SEO practices. You should know how to understand search intent, dig into ambiguous keywords, and create best-answer content that meets search demand.

#2 – Social Media Marketing
You may have a dedicated social media person or team, but content marketers should still know how to create compelling B2B social posts that attract attention without breaking the brand voice. You should be up to date on what type of content performs best on each platform.

#3 – Influencer Marketing
Content marketers should know how to co-create content with influencers. That means writing a framework that allows for collaboration, asking the right questions to guide influencer responses, and even conducting intelligent interviews. Content marketers’ expertise makes all the difference in the resulting content feeling cohesive and compelling.

#4 – Measurement
Measurement is what turns content into content marketing. Content marketers should be able to strategize, create goals and metrics that match them, track progress, and ultimately optimize over time.
Eight Soft Skills
#1 – Empathy
The heart and soul of any content marketing is empathy. You have to be able to take the customer’s perspective and make a human connection. Empathy is even more important in B2B content, because it keeps the content focused on people.

It’s easy to lose the human connection when you’re writing about container-based software-as-a-service platforms. That empathy for the people, the buyer, the end user, should be what drives the content.

[bctt tweet=”That empathy for the people, the buyer, the end user, should be what drives the content. @NiteWrites” username=”toprank”]

#2 – Creativity
I would argue B2B content requires even more creativity than B2C. The difference is having to work within strict limitations. Big B2B brands have whole departments concerned with brand reputation, brand voice, standards and practices, approved image libraries and fonts… Content creators have to produce something eye-catching and meaningful without breaking any of these limitations. And they have to know when it makes sense to push the boundaries.

#3 – Communication
The success of B2B content depends on explaining complex concepts in simple terms. You may know all the ins and outs of your solution, but odds are your audience won’t. Clear, jargon-free, conversational writing that offers value is the only way to succeed.

#4 – Organization
This skill is important for any B2B marketer, but especially if you work at an agency. We’re working on a dozen different clients at any one time, each with multiple assets in various stages of development. Without organizational skills, it would be impossible to get everything done on time (even with a dedicated project manager on staff).

#5 – Motivation
I read recently about a man who had been on the payroll of a major corporation for over a year without ever doing any work. Seriously. Somewhere between restructuring and management turnover, he simply got separated from responsibility without losing his salary.

via GIPHY

That won’t ever happen for a B2B content marketer. There’s nowhere to hide: We’re responsible for concrete, quantifiable, and quality deliverables. There’s no such thing as slacking off, and there’s no such thing as writer’s block. The ability to push past obstacles, buckle down and get the work done is vital.

#6 – Confidence
Part of the job description is defending and explaining your work to stakeholders. For an agency, that includes account managers and clients. For a marketing department, that might include the executive suite, too. B2B content marketers need the (justified) confidence to advocate for content and approach they know will be effective.

#7 – Humility
The flip-side of confidence is the ability to put the content ahead of one’s individual ego. B2B content is bound to go through layers of review, with each stakeholder adding their own critique and suggestions. Humility means that you can take in constructive criticism and apply it with an eye toward producing the best content possible. While confidence is key, knowing your way doesn’t have to be the only way is equally important.

#8 – Collaboration
Finally, B2B content marketing is a team sport. It’s not about making a name for yourself — you have blog posts for that. It’s about partnering across areas of specialty to create something stunning. I found that my content got even better when I involved the design team from the start, for example. Working closely with design, SEO, influencer and social specialists only makes the work better. Here’s a shot of the gang I get to work with every day:


B2B Content Marketing Is a Game of Skill
I’ll admit it: Before I got into the field, I thought content marketing was just getting paid to write all day. Now I know there’s a lot more to the job than just filling buckets with prose. Content marketers are writers, strategizers, empathizers, collaborators, and so much more.

Need to level up your B2B content marketing? Our highly-skilled team is ready and waiting.

The post 12 Must-Have Skills for B2B Content Marketers appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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