Want to become a solopreneur?
There are so many options for hustlers and dreamers that want to forge their own unicorn path.
Online Businesses You Can Start
Here, I rounded up 10 ways to start your own business right now — with no backing or VC capital required.
1. Chatbot Marketing Consultant
Facebook Messenger marketing and chatbots are the future of marketing communications.
Messenger offers unprecedented open rates (80% on average!).
Businesses want in on the action, but there’s a learning curve — and that’s where chatbot marketing consultants come in.
If you can develop an expertise in Facebook Messenger marketing and chatbot building, there’s no limit to what you can do for businesses.
The first step is taking a deep dive into Facebook Messenger and setting up chatbots.
With a tool like MobileMonkey, you can get started for free — build bots, watch tutorials, read guides and hone your craft.
Knowing how to harness the power of a chatbot like MobileMonkey is an invaluable skill for a digital marketing looking to break out into a specific and lucrative niche.
2. Affiliate Marketer
Whether you’re a business, content creator, or influencer, affiliate marketing is a valid channel.
Once you have a significant audience, you should be able to push calls-to-action that may get some conversions.
Affiliate marketing lets you partner with a company in pushing their products and services through your content.
You can promote their business with promo codes or affiliate links that your audience can then use to buy from them.
Whenever those codes or links are used, you get a percentage of that sale in exchange for that conversion.
The more people you’re able to promote that business affiliate to, the more customers they get and the more you earn as well.
Affiliate marketing is a great addition to any online effort with a significant audience or community.
3. eBay Seller
Ecommerce and online retail has never been better, with tons of options available for anyone looking to start.
eBay is the usual go-to for a good reason, as it doesn’t have a lot of speed bumps for new users.
You can become an eBay seller with little to no startup cash by selling stuff you find in your closet or attic that you no longer need.
You’d be surprised just how much money you can make by merely flipping old stuff you could’ve just left in your house for decades.
After all, one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure, and that’s certainly true in ecommerce.
While you can technically do the same with an old-fashioned yard sale, you can reach more people online.
If you’re selling new stocks instead of old things, you can do it just as easily on eBay.
You put in your product listings on your account and not have to worry about a physical storefront.
4. Social Media Marketing Consultant
If you’re a social media marketing savant, you can make a living advising companies on how to use social media as a whole to market their businesses.
You need to be knowledgeable in all the major social networks and how companies can thrive in each, from both a paid and organic standpoint.
Develop a portfolio of impressive results, market yourself and commit to constant education in this ever-changing space.
5. App Developer
If you’re a programmer with proficiency in mobile app development, you can make your own apps.
This is especially lucrative if you happen to come up with an app that innovates or does something new.
If not, it can still be profitable if the app does something better than existing apps.
App development does depend on being able to come up with a good app that people will want to pay for.
Mobile app marketplaces like the Apple App Store and Google Play Store make it easy for developers to sell their apps.
6. Airbnb Host
If you have extra space in your home, then you may want to use that to provide accommodations for travelers.
Renting out your space can add a significant boost to your monthly income.
All you have to do is keep the space clean and organized, and boost your Airbnb profile with great pictures, a thorough description and stellar reviews.
If you’re worried about risk, rest assured — Airbnb insures homes up to one million dollars for personal injury or property damage.
7. T-shirt Designer
Starting an online t-shirt business has a fairly easy point of entry as t-shirts are cheap to source.
They also have universal appeal and are simple to customize, especially if you happen to have good ideas for designs.
It’s best to choose a particular niche you can sell your t-shirt designs to and come up with your designs well in advance.
You can then source your t-shirts, making sure to have different sizes and colors your customers will want.
Selling t-shirts online is a fairly competitive field, so be sure you have a market you can sell to before going into it.
8. Online Business or Creative Tutor
If you have expertise in a technical or creative field, then you can do online tutorials as a business.
It can be either offering private tutoring to clients or putting up an online tutorial course for in-depth learning over the Internet.
You choose a niche where you have expertise in, then do research to understand how to relay that information.
Compile a syllabus of lessons for what you’re teaching to have a reasonable progression of learning.
Then you bring together the tools you’ll need to do the online teaching method of your choice.
If you’re doing private online tutoring, an online video conferencing software like Skype should suffice.
You may also use a cloud storage service like Dropbox to provide lesson materials at any time.
If you’re putting together an online video course, a video camera or webcam with a microphone for quality audio is necessary.
You may also use something like video editor or a desktop recording software to add presentations and put it all together.
9. Stock Photographer
If you have a camera and adequate skill in photography, then you have the option of taking and selling stock photos.
There’s always demand for high-quality stock photos for things like video production, web content, advertising, and so on.
This makes stock photography a good source of income for photographers, especially those who know how licensing works.
Sites like Shutterstock let photographers take a cut for stock photos downloaded by users who pay a monthly subscription fee.
The more an image is downloaded in such a service each month, the more you earn from your cut.
You also get to keep the rights for the stock photos you’ve taken, as long as you distribute them through proven means.
10. Online Recruiter
There will always be companies in need of skilled and talented workers under their employment.
As an online recruitment agent, you can help job seekers find employment in reputable companies for their niche.
You must first choose your niche, preferably in an industry you know and have experience in.
Then you draw up a business plan for your own online recruitment agency and register your business.
You then find clients who are willing to let you help them look for jobs, which you can do through various online channels.
The applicants must be pre-screened and checked for their credentials, qualifications, and required paperwork.
Most recruitment agencies charge a one-time fee based on the candidate’s first-year annual salary.
Once you get the hang of it, you should be able to establish yourself as a reputable online recruiter.
Republished by permission. Original here.
This article, “Online Business on a Budget: These 10 Ideas Require Little Investment” was first published on Small Business Trends
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Let’s face it: Too many of us are yo-yo marketers.
We deploy a campaign the way someone might approach a fad diet: With nothing but our initial enthusiasm to keep it going.
And like a fad dieter, we get results… for a little while. Then the campaign runs out of steam and we’re back at square one.
Wouldn’t it be nice if those initial successes could last? If we could go from “fad diet” marketing to lean, mean marketing machines?
Not only is Lee a champion of always-on marketing that gets sustainable results over time, he’s also achieved a dramatic physical transformation in the past year. He’s lost 65 pounds and just finished his first half-marathon.
Turns out, the same discipline and strategy that makes for great content marketing is fantastic for fitness, too. It’s all about consistency and persistency.
Here are Lee’s 10 Exercises for Content Marketing Fitness.
10 Steps to Content Marketing Fitness
#1: Warm Up with Customer Insights
“Know your customer” is a pretty standard motto for marketers. But most of us don’t get deep enough into what those three words really mean. Truly knowing your customer means having insight into:
Activities: What does their workday look like?
Pain: What are they suffering from/worried about?
Goals: What do they wish they could accomplish?
Influences: Who or what is providing guidance?
To warm up your customer insights, you need to answer all of these questions for each stage of the customer journey, preferably with first hand data.
#2: Strengthen Your Core with Strategy
Before you start creating content, you need to know what that content is meant to accomplish. Most content plans won’t involve jumping straight into driving leads and closing sales.
The first part of your strategy should involve meeting the customer where they are (based on your footwork in step 1), challenging their status quo and inviting a change in perception. Then you can begin the process of capturing leads and driving revenue.
#3: Optimize Your Strategy with KPIs
As you developed your strategy, you had goals in mind: Our content should change people’s mind about X, help them see the benefits of Y, etc. Now you need to put those goals into measurable KPIs with matching metrics, like so:
The most important part? Set benchmarks before you start. Without benchmarks, you have nothing to compare your new campaign to.
#4: Create a Powerful Story
This is my favorite part: Take your content strategy and turn it into the story you will tell throughout your campaign.
That means building a bridge of narrative that connects your audience from their current state – their wants, needs, pain points – to your solution. It means helping them solve multiple problems along the way, even problems that have little to do with your offering.
For example, this campaign from our client Prophix ultimately leads their audience to a solution: Using real-time data with their plug-in for PowerPoint. But along the way, it helps finance leaders level up their presentation skills in many other ways, along with advice from influential experts (more on that later).
#5: Optimize Your Content Mix
With your story outline in place, the next step is to create the framework for your content. Lee recommends a hub and spoke model. Anchor content is supported by crosslinked content about secondary topics.
Get creative as you plan your mix: You can include the standard blog posts, of course, but also look at quizzes, infographics, audio and video. Also think about content with built-in amplification, like guest blogs from influencers (more on that in the next point) and posting your own blogs on third-party sites.
6: Boost Quality & Reach with Influencers
For B2B marketing, “influencer” doesn’t mean someone holding up your product in Instagram photos. It’s more about developing relationships with people who are genuinely influential to your target audience, co-creating content with them, and making it easy for them to help promote the content.
Or, as Lee puts it: “People who invest their time to help you make a thing, are generally motivated to help share the thing, to make it successful.”
The planning you’ve done so far will help make sure that your content is aligned both with SEO and with your influencers’ areas of expertise.
#7: Create Powerful Content
As you’re creating content, Lee recommends a hub-and-spoke model. You have a central, substantial asset that addresses search demand and includes influencer contributions. Then you augment that hub with secondary content that further explores side topics (and meets demands expressed in longtail keywords.
For TopRank Marketing, our go-to hub is the “Power Page.” It’s a definitive guide, optimized for search and for humans to read. It’s specific, lengthy, and goes into deep detail. Here’s a wireframe Lee shared:
#8: Create Your Content Promotion Timeline
When you’re creating content this great, you can’t just graft on promotion after it’s done. Lee says, “The best time to plan your promotion is when you’re planning the content.” Let’s say it again in bold: The best time to plan your promotion is when you’re planning the content.
When you plan in advance, you can build in repurposing like influencer round-up posts, infographics, even capturing audio interviews instead of written so you can turn them into podcast episodes.
Here’s what a well-rounded promotion timeline might look like:
#9: Measure & Optimize
Now we’ve reached the stage that turns all of your effort so far into an ongoing marketing commitment – the kind that breaks free from yo-yo marketing and gets sustainable results.
Instead of publishing, having your initial promotion push, and moving on to the next campaign, keep watching your metrics, make changes based on your observations, and repeat.
Lee points out that we often optimize when content isn’t performing well, but we should also be looking at content that’s performing better than expected. What made that content and promotion mix special? How can we duplicate it? How can we make it even better?
Here are a few metrics to measure:
#10: Repurpose with Purpose
Part of the optimization process is getting every bit of juice out of the content you worked so hard creating. If you included repurposing in your strategy at the planning stage, you’re good to go: Turn your interviews into round-up posts, your blog posts into infographics, infographics into motion graphics, etc.
But don’t just do it to make more stuff, Lee says. Rather, repurpose to suit your content to different audiences. For example, audio content as a podcast might appeal to a younger set of decision makers who wouldn’t read a 2,000 word blog post.
Or think about different verticals: Imagine your audience is both IT decision influencers and executive decision makers. With a few cosmetic changes, the same content can be optimized to target each audience individually. As Lee put it, “Personalization is the best kind of repurposing.”
Content Marketing Fitness for the Long Haul
The hardest part of losing weight is keeping from gaining it back. It’s easy to fall into old habits and lose the progress you’ve made. The same is true of marketing. Your biggest challenge isn’t a disinterested audience or a boss who won’t expand your budget – it’s simple human inertia. And the only way to fight it is to commit to a sustained effort, make sure your whole team is on board, and embark on your content fitness journey together.
Need more Content Marketing World in your life? Stay tuned to the TopRank Marketing Blog for more tips, tricks, and live coverage. And follow our team: @leeodden, @NiteWrites, @azeckman, and @toprank on Twitter for real-time insights.
The post Lee Odden Shares His Secret to Content Marketing Fitness #CMWorld 2019 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
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I’ve been an SEO for roughly 17 years now.
And one thing that has remained constant, no matter how much
you know about SEO, there is just too much to do.
So much so, that most SEOs don’t even optimize their own websites anymore. And if they do, you’ll find that their site doesn’t rank for many competitive terms.
Because it is a lot of work!
That’s why I’m excited to announce Ubersuggest 6.0.
It now tracks and improves your rankings, even if you don’t have an SEO bone in your body.
So, what’s new?
Dashboard and login
First off, you can now keep track of all of your websites.
You’ll have to register to
use this feature, but don’t worry, it’s free.
Once you register, you’ll be dropped into a dashboard.
Now for me, I’m already tracking a few websites. Which is why
my dashboard is already populated.
The dashboard will keep track of your SEO errors, link
growth (or decline), your monthly search traffic, your overall search rankings,
and any SEO errors that you need to fix.
Best of all, it crawls your website for you each and every week so you don’t have to worry about keeping up with Google’s latest algorithm changes.
And with the search rankings feature, you can automatically track how your rankings are changing on a daily basis.
Within each site you add to the dashboard, you’ll be able to
automatically track your rankings for any specific keyword.
Not only are you able to track your rankings on desktop devices, but Ubersuggest also shows how you rank on mobile devices.
If you want to track specific keywords, all you have to do is click Add Keywords and it will pull a list of suggestion from your Google Search Console. Of course, you can also track any other keyword even if it doesn’t show up in your Search Console.
What’s also cool is that you have the ability to track your rankings in any country, city, or region. That means if you do local SEO or international SEO, you can see your rankings anywhere.
There’s also a date picker so once you’ve been using
Ubersuggest for a while, you’ll be able to see a nice chart of how your
rankings are improving over time.
What’s great about these changes is you can now directly see how Ubersuggest is helping you grow your search traffic.
It will automatically keep track of all of your changes and
notify you when it finds any new SEO issues to fix.
And over the next few months, you’ll see a few more features added that will make your life even easier.
One example is that I’ll introduce email alerts so that you don’t have to log into Ubersuggest anymore and it emails you when there is an issue that needs your attention.
I’ll also be adding in competitive analysis features. You’ll be able to track your competitors and be notified when they make an SEO or marketing change that you should look at.
And my long-term goal is to make it so you don’t even have to code or make any changes manually. Ubersuggest will eventually be able to go into your website and make these fixes for you. However, this feature won’t happen until next year sometime.
PS: If you missed it, I released some cool features like local keyword research and a billion-plus keyword database last week. Click here to get the update on those new Ubersuggest features.
The post Ubersuggest 6.0: Track and Improve Your Rankings Without Learning SEO appeared first on Neil Patel.
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3 months ago, my friends and I asked each other what had been the most impactful moment of our year so far. I had the fastest response: “Going to Traffic & Conversion Summit.”
Conferences had always felt out of my reach. On average, they can run over $2,000, between ticket and accommodation, and I doubted that it was worth the price tag. So 4 years in a row I told myself, “Next year, I’ll buy the ticket. This year isn’t the one.”
What a mistake.
It took one event, T&C, to teach me that I was choosing the more costly path. Conferences are like the steroids of your industry. They’re where everyone convenes to talk shop, and being a part of that conversation will change the trajectory of your career.
After attending T&C, I saw everything differently. I learned the top-performing copywriting and content writing tips. More importantly, I realized everything I was doing wrong in my freelancing business. I was making huge mistakes and then wondering why having a marketing business was so challenging.
I can confidently say I’m not the only person out of the 6,000 T&C attendees who walked away with a more profitable business…
In the 5 months since T&C 2019, I have:
Landed my first long-term contract
Taken my client load from 8 clients to 3 top performers
Doubled my business
And I can confidently say I’m not the only person out of the 6,000 T&C attendees who walked away with a more profitable business.
Here are the 6 reasons why going to a conference can help your job and career.
Reason #1: You’ll Watch the Best Marketers in the World, Market Themselves
This is something I didn’t realize until I sat in the audience and watched Billy Gene Shaw, Dean Graziosi, and Sunny Lenarduzzi speak. T&C doesn’t mess around. They only bring on top-tier presenters. I heard Jay Shetty talk about acquiring over a billion Facebook views, Ryan Deiss explain the future of marketing, and Rachel Hollis walk me through how she created her fandom (and highly motivated customer base). I was in awe.
I realized these people, who I had only ever seen online, were just regular people who worked hard, stayed focused, and became an expert at their craft. And now they were on stage, marketing themselves and their businesses.
And that meant I could be on that stage one day too.
I studied each presentation and then came to my second most significant conclusion from T&C.
Reason #2: You’ll Learn How to Convey Your Point
After attending your first conference, you’ll see a pattern. Some people market themselves well, and others go on rants mid-presentation or can’t quite figure out how to deliver the point they’re making.
So I started taking notes beyond the strategies the speakers were explaining. I asked myself,
How are they wording their point so it’s clear and concise?
When did they say their point during their presentation (beginning, middle, end)?
What could they have removed that’s “fluff” information?
How would I do a better job of getting their point across?
I now have an arsenal of data that tells me how to state my point, when to state it, and what doesn’t need to be said. Now, I can land the long-term contract, I can explain why we need to do research before writing the copy to my clients, and I can make people understand my point without adding 300 unnecessary words to an article.
This made me a better marketer for my services.
Reason #3: You’ll Market Yourself as a Marketer
You’re showing that this isn’t just your job; this is your commitment.
Put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. Who would you rather hire?
The person who put “Digital Marketer” on their LinkedIn profile, or the one who is posting Instagram stories of their biggest takeaway from Day One of Traffic & Conversion Summit?
Which person seems more committed to their job as a marketer?
When clients, peers, and social media followers see that you’re attending industry events, you’re marketing yourself as a marketer. You’re doing exactly what all of the big names are doing on the Traffic & Conversion stage.
You’re showing that this isn’t just your job; this is your commitment.
The key to marketing yourself as a marketer is to make sure that you’re sharing your experience. If you notice, 100% of the T&C presenters shared that they were speaking on their social profiles. They do this by hiring a photographer/videographer to grab b-roll of them, posting on their Instagram profile, and writing blog posts about their experience.
I wrote this article on Medium so that I could remind people after the event, and after my Instagram stories had disappeared, that I wasn’t just marketer watching from the sidelines—I was committed to becoming part of the community.
And this was great for my digital presence and personal wellbeing.
Reason #4 You’ll Learn That You’re Not the Only One Experiencing Your Pain Points
I don’t have research to back this up, but I’m pretty sure the moment another marketer explains word for word the problem that you’re having in your marketing efforts/business you get a spike of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the hormone that your body creates when you’re socially bonding.
I want to bond with people (all. day. long.) who understand what I mean when I say, “I gave them a 2-day turnaround and they finally paid me 4 weeks later.”
There are only a select few who understand this pain, and those are the ones that I need to be around to escalate my career. When you realize that your peers have the same pain points that you do, your problems become smaller. If you know that they’re still hustling through their marketing struggles, it’s like you transform into Hercules and are suddenly capable of overcoming your biggest challenges.
When your challenges become smaller, you can move faster. When you move faster, you can sift through prospective clients to find the quality prospects.
Reason #5: You Can Land Clients
You’re going to spend money getting yourself to a conference, but you’re also going to make money. Guess who attends marketing conferences? People who need help marketing.
You’re going to spend money getting yourself to a conference, but you’re also going to make money.
Guess who can help them do that?
I landed 2 clients while at T&C.
How, you ask?
After you buy your ticket and figure out your accommodation, buy business cards. Yes, we live in the digital world, but you need to have something tangible to give people you meet while at the conference.
My strategy is to give people my business card and then ask what their Instagram name is. Your business card is there to make you look professional (saying you don’t have one makes you look bad). Adding them on Instagram keeps you top of mind. This isn’t just an Instagram method either—choose your social network of choice.
If they don’t follow up right away, keep posting your marketing knowledge and testimonials so you can show them that you know what you’re talking about. Your business card can get lost in the mix of all of the other cards and swag they’re getting during the conference. But your social media won’t.
The more prospective clients you talk to, the more you’ll find a lot is going on in your industry— a lot you didn’t know, and a lot you could be a part of.
Reason #6: You’ll See New Opportunities
If you’ve never been to a conference before, you’re going to be blown away by things happening that you didn’t realize were going on. Business partnerships (for millions of dollars), sponsorships (for thousands of dollars), marketing promotion (like giving away hundreds of free books), and even more.
When you see money moving, you realize how much opportunity is available to you that you couldn’t see because your coffee shop, coworking space, or office can’t show you what’s going on in your industry. I can confidently say that if you haven’t attended a marketing conference yet, you know about 5% of what’s going on in the marketing world.
It’s the conferences that will show you the rest.
If I could go back in time, I would have bought a ticket to even the smallest marketing event that I could as soon as I started freelance copy and content writing. Had I chosen to invest in my education and network, I would have surpassed where I am in my business now. It took one marketing conference for me to double my business and land my biggest contract yet.
What would happen if I went to another?
The post How Going to a Marketing Conference Can Help Your Career appeared first on DigitalMarketer.
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No matter what anyone tells you, creating high-quality content is hard.
Being a niche marketer with limited resources, it makes sense for you to invest in content that brings in traffic and leads for years.
Content with a long life.
Content that’s always relevant.
Content that’s evergreen.
Publishing evergreen content means you invest your hard earned money in content creation once, and reap the rewards for years.
It means you won’t have to spend the rest of your life on a content hamster wheel churning out one article after the other trying (hopelessly) to compete with giant publications that invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in content creation, advertising, and traffic generation every month.
In this post, I’ll tell you exactly what evergreen content is, how are some of the best marketers using it, and how you can replicate their success by creating timeless content for your niche site.
What You’ll Learn In This Post
The difference between short-term and long-term content
The simple way to come up with timeless content ideas
How to get 100x return from your evergreen content
The various formats of evergreen content you can use
What is Evergreen Content?
Evergreen content, as the name suggests, is content that remains fresh, relevant, and useful for a long time irrespective of the seasonal trends and events.
It’s the kind of content that your readers will find useful the day you publish it and even if they refer back to it 12 months later.
In short, you can call it content without an expiry date.
For example, what do you think about the post in the screenshot below?
Source: Men’s Health
Losing belly fat is a topic people have been reading about for centuries and will keep searching for it even 2 decades from now.
A classic example of an evergreen topic.
But here’s another one in the screenshot below.
Do you think people will be interested in this topic 2 or 3 years from now?
VPNs are useful for browsing the internet safely without compromising your privacy. Because of the recent privacy concerns about leading apps like Facebook, Twitter, and many others, people are increasingly looking for ways and tools to improve their online security.
I don’t think this topic is going out of demand any time soon.
In fact, here’s what a quick search on Google Trends shows, take a look at the graph for this search…
Source: Google Trends
Apart from the occasional spikes, the demand for this search term has slowly but surely increased over the years and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.
These were two pretty good examples of evergreen content.
But here’s an example of content that’s NOT evergreen, study the headline in the image below…
I wrote this article about increasing Black Friday Sales for Social Media Today back in Nov, 2015.
Is it relevant today?
Was it relevant even 3 months after getting published?
Can you call it evergreen?
Here’s a different example to get you thinking.
Do you think the post below qualifies as evergreen content? Think about it carefully.
Why? Because it’s a seasonal topic that only picks up during winters every year.
Look at the screenshot below to find more proof of this, see how the searches peak and then drop…
Source: Google Trends
As you can see, the search trend for the last 5 years for the term “dog sweaters” shows that the search volume picks up only between October and December.
There’s little interest in the topic for the rest of the year.
Hence, it doesn’t qualify as evergreen content.
Okay, so now that I’ve described this part n detail, let me tell you why niche marketers in particular need evergreen content more than anyone else.
Why Is Evergreen Content Important for Your Niche Site
Why do people start niche sites?
What’s the dream they want to achieve?
The screenshots below of some of the discussions in NicheHacks Facebook Mastermind will help you understand this. Look what was said below…
The theme across all these discussions is pretty simple.
People want freedom.
They want to work less and earn more.
They want passive income (although nothing’s ever 100% passive)
This is the biggest motivation for most wannabe niche marketers.
You can’t achieve this dream if you have to create content all the time. Which is why evergreen content is so important for you.
Every time you publish an evergreen post, it becomes a long-term business asset that keeps on bringing traffic and leads on autopilot (with a little maintenance of course)
Which is precisely what you want.
Here’s how you can create such content.
To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…
The Process of Creating Evergreen Content for Your Niche Site
Creating evergreen content is more about mindset than the actual structure of your post.
You’ll create high-quality content as usual but with a long-term and set.
Here’s how you’ll do it.
1. Finding Evergreen Content Ideas for Your Blog
To create content that lasts for years, you must stay away from following trending news and instead come up with topics that generate consistent interest in your target audience.
Here are the best ways to find them.
Think of the Most Basic Questions of Your Audience
Start from the basics.
Think of the most fundamental questions of your audience.
Ask yourself why people come to your site?
What’s the biggest problem they’re facing?
What answers are they looking for?
What’s the situation they dread the most?
What’s their dream situation?
At this stage, I’d strongly recommend you to read our post about audience research since it has all the tips you need to uncover the real needs of your audience.
Needs that won’t change overnight.
Needs that won’t change for years.
But let me quickly share a few tips here.
The fastest way to find the most basic questions of your audience is Google Search
When you search Google for your main topic keyword, here’s what you see in the results. Look at this screenshot below…
Source: Google Search
“People also ask” appears just under the first two or three results. It’s a goldmine for anyone looking to understand the fundamental needs of their audience.
When you click on any of these questions and scroll down, this is what happens…
More questions appear.
And they keep appearing as long as you keep expanding them and scrolling down.
This alone should give you tons of ideas.
And remember, these are all high traffic and evergreen queries which is why Google has shortlisted them.
But that’s not all.
When you scroll down the search page, more ideas are waiting for you.
These are the top queries related to your main topic.
Look at them, “belly fat diet plan”, “foods that burn belly fat”, “how to lose belly fat naturally”
They’re all evergreen search terms that are not dependant on any events or trends.
People will have the same questions 5 years from now.
You can turn each one into an evergreen post.
If you need more ideas, use this amazing resource of unlimited questions on your topic. Look at all these results…
The snapshot above shows the search results for the term “lose belly fat” and the tool I’ve used is AnswerThePublic.
It gives hundreds of questions extracted from search engines that people are asking about your topic.
In my opinion, these two resources are enough to help you uncover long-term questions of your audience and turn them into evergreen blog topics.
But before you finalize any topics, validate their evergreen potential.
Let me explain how
Find Ideas With a Consistent Search Trend
The easiest way to find if a topic is evergreen or not is, once again, Google.
Source: Google Trends
Simply use Google Trends to see if there’s consistent interest in a topic.
What are you looking for?
Topics with a consistent search trend
Topics with an upward search trend
What are you looking to avoid?
Topics with seasonal search trends
Topics with a downward search trend
As the screenshot above shows, weight loss is a topic that people are always interested in.
See what this next screenshot shows…
Source: Google Trends
As you can see, the topic “marathon training plan” has a pretty consistent search interest.
Let’s look at another one. What do you think about this keyword in the screenshot below…
Source: Google Trends
Predictably, the searches for “valentines day gifts” only pick up once a year.
But weight loss, the first example I shared, is a pretty broad topic.
To create evergreen content around it, you’d need to use angles that drive consistent traffic.
For example, a post like “How To Lose Belly Fat Before Christmas 2019” will only be relevant for a few months. But a different angle, “6 Steps To Have a Flat Belly in 3 Months” will always be relevant and evergreen.
Okay, so once you find a topic with a consistent search interest, you finally need to see if it has enough traffic for you to target.
That’s pretty easy.
Analyze Keyword Search Volume
Log in to any free keyword research tool to see the estimated search volume of your topic keyword
For example, here’s the search volume Ubersuggest shows for the topic “exercises to lose belly fat”, study this closely…
That’s a pretty decent search volume and shows that the topic has enough searchers for you to target.
Remember, we’re not doing keyword research here.
The objective is to verify the search demand for a topic that we’ve already seen is
in line with our audience’s core interest
has a regular Google search trend
This one seems to be right in the sweet spot so we’re good to go.
Analyze Your Competitors’ Top Performing Content
Last but not least, you can find evergreen topic ideas by simply having a look at the most popular content of your competitors.
There are three good ways to do that.
Run a Google Search for your topic and see the top ranking posts. See which ones are evergreen and try to find different angles that can help you add more value to that topic.
Or you could find the most frequently shared content your topic using this free tool in the screenshot below…
You could also visit your closest competitors’ blog and look for their most popular posts manually, check out this post from SmartBlogger…
Many sites have a Popular Posts section like the one in the screenshot above.
If you look closely, three of the most popular posts in this screenshot have the year “2019” mentioned in the title.
Does that mean they’re not evergreen posts?
The actual content of the posts is going to be valid for 2020, 2021 and even 2025.
They’ve only used the year 2019 to make it look more recent.
Next year, they’ll change it to 2020.
It’s a practice most marketing sites use these days.
Okay so now that you know how to find evergreen topics for your blog, I’m going to share some quick tips for writing high-quality evergreen content in the next section.
To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…
2. Writing Evergreen Content for Your Blog
Once you’ve identified evergreen topics for your blog, writing the posts is not very different from any other content type.
Your job is to create a useful, actionable, and high-quality piece of content.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Create the Best, Most In-depth Resource on Your Topic
You want your evergreen posts to stay relevant to your audiences for a long time so that they can keep bringing in traffic and leads.
For this, you must ensure that you create the most useful and in-depth resource on your topic.
How do you do that?
First of all, you need to find the top ranking content on your topic.
For example, let’s take the topic “how to run a faster 5k”
Here’s what I found when I searched for this keyword on Google, look at these search results…
All the articles ranking on the first page for this keyword have a word count of 800 to 1200 words.
To create an evergreen post on this topic that dominates the search results for years, you need to create a post that’s 10x better than anything currently available.
If the longest post on this topic is 1200 words, create an insanely useful guide of 4000 words with much more actionable advice, stats, and expert input.
That’s exactly the strategy Brian Dean has used to dominate the SEO niche which is one of the most competitive on the web.
Look at this resource he published on his blog. The opening line is worth paying attention to…
There were dozens of high-quality guides about eCommerce SEO before Brian published this.
But he made this post 10x more useful, comprehensive, and actionable than anything published online.
As a result, he dominates most of the searches about eCommerce SEO and already has more than 11,000 social shares for this article.
And he’s likely to stay up there for months (even years)
Keep this example in mind when you’re looking to publish better content than your competitors.
If they’ve written a 2000 word post, you should publish 5000 words of useful content (not fluff)
If they’ve used 2 images, you should use 10
Add more data, more examples, more screenshots, and make it more visually appealing than your competitors’ content.
But there’s something else you need to do as well.
Write for a Complete Beginner
Evergreen content can be written for advanced users as well.
But it works the best for complete beginners because they’re the ones who search for such topics the most.
When you start writing a post, think of a complete beginner with basic questions.
Then with every section of your post increase the knowledge level so that by the end of the post your readers graduate to the next level
This HubSpot article is a great example of this, check it out in this screenshot…
It starts with the very basics of content strategy and takes the readers towards the more advanced practices by the end of the post.
This approach benefits you in a couple of ways.
You’re able to give your readers a complete resource on the topic.
You’re able to rank for a lot of different keywords related to your topic since it covers everything from the basics to the intermediate/advanced concepts.
But there’s one more crucial thing to keep in mind while creating evergreen content.
I explain it in the next section
Write on a Narrow Topic for a Specific Audience
The most successful and effective evergreen posts are about very narrow topics that are targeted towards a well-defined audience.
Because by their very nature, evergreen posts are detailed and in-depth. But you can’t make an article in-depth if it talks vaguely about a dozen unrelated topics.
For example, an article that comprehensively covers one money making method is much better than a post that barely scratches the surface of a dozen monetization methods.
We’re almost done here, but there’s one small thing you need to remember when creating evergreen content.
Let me explain in the next heading.
Use Examples and Angles That Are Valid for Years
The language and the examples of your content have a huge impact on its life.
If you frequently use references to short-term events in your content or use angles with a short life, your readers would think your content is outdated.
Using phrases like, “last year” or “this Christmas”, and references to particular events for example “FIFA 2018 World Cup”, “Game of Thrones Finale” etc. can quickly make your content sound outdated even if it has relevant and evergreen information.
For example, see the screenshot below and tell me if this article still looks relevant.
It looks old, right?
The lessons in it might still be valuable, but the moment someone read the title, they’d assume it’s an outdated post.
Compare this with the article in the screenshot below and tell me what you think.
This article is about the best animation companies out there but it doesn’t mention any year.
And even though the language of the title is neutral, the readers would always feel the article is still relevant to them.
So make sure your language isn’t timebound and is valid for years to come.
That’s all you need to know to create evergreen content.
But creating content isn’t enough, is it?
This is why in the next section I’ll share some tips on getting the most out of your evergreen content.
3. Getting the Most Out of Your Evergreen Content
By definition, evergreen content doesn’t require any maintenance or ongoing work.
But there are a few things you must do to keep driving traffic and leads from it.
Let me explain.
Update and Republish Your Content Periodically
Evergreen content doesn’t require any regular updates.
But it is imperative that you review it every few months to see if there’s any potential for improvement.
The topic of your post might be long-term but maybe you could update some of the stats used in it, the examples you’ve cited, the tools you’ve recommended, or the strategies you’ve shared.
It’s not going to be a lot of work, but even small updates can revive your posts and make them much more useful for your audience.
Here at NicheHacks, we regularly review and update our older content for any potential improvements.
And you’d be surprised to know that more often than not, the updated content brings in more traffic than the newer posts.
So don’t underestimate this part.
Promote Evergreen Content on Social Media and Q&A Sites
Evergreen content is much easier to promote on social media, Q&A sites, forums, and other relevant platforms.
Because people keep on asking the same questions again and again on different platforms and you can simply copypaste some of your content in response to their questions and link back to the original post if they’re interested in reading more.
Similarly, you could use a tool like Buffer to automatically share your evergreen content on social media every few days. You will always get engagement on such posts because the interest in those topics never goes away.
For example, a post about “how to start a blog” will get shares even 2-3 years from now.
On the contrary, an article about “Game of Thrones” isn’t likely to draw much interest in a few years because there would be no more hype of that show.
Use Internal Links To Keep Content Alive
Internal links can play a key role in not only driving more traffic to your evergreen posts but also in improving their search rankings.
If you notice, we use a lot of internal links in our posts on NicheHacks.
As a result, our older content keeps getting new readers through those internal links.
It keeps our content alive and helps our readers discover useful advice that they might’ve missed if it wasn’t for the internal links in our newer posts.
Build Backlinks To Stay on Top of Search
Backlinks play a crucial role in determining a site’s search engine ranking.
In fact, here’s what a study by SEMRush found so spend just a few seconds looking at this graph…
The study shows that backlinks and the number of referring domains to a URL are among the top 5 ranking factors.
Creating evergreen content is just one part of the equation.
Building backlinks is an ongoing process so you’ll need to keep acquiring links to sustain your rankings.
Thankfully we have a lot of great advice about link building on our site that you’ll really find useful.
Create an Evergreen Content Hub on Your Site
And last but not least, a simple way to drive more traffic to your evergreen content is to create “Start Here” page, like we’ve done, that acts as an evergreen content hub.
It’s a simple resource page that lists all of our evergreen posts organized by topics and categories.
New readers and visitors regularly visit this page to find our best posts listed in an orderly manner.
It’s an easy way to keep your content alive.
You now know more about evergreen content creation than most people.
But have you seen it live on different sites?
Thankfully, there are several ways and formats in which you can create content that lasts for years.
Let me share a few examples in the next section.
Examples of Evergreen Content Format
There are dozens of formats marketers across different niches have used to create evergreen content.
The infographic below features some of the most common evergreen content formats. Do any of these content types surprise you?
Let me quickly share a few examples of different evergreen content types.
List of Tools and Resources
List the most useful tools and resources for your audience.
The Top 10 Marketing Books of All-Time
Enjoy the Best 200+ Internet Marketing Guides on the Web
22 FREE Top-Rated Online Marketing Certifications & Courses To Make You a Better Internet Marketer
Write ultimate guides that cover all the fundamentals of your topic
Beginner’s Guide to Juicing – Everything You Need to Get Started
The Ultimate Guide To Running a Marathon
How-To Posts and Step by Step Tutorials
Posts that practically guide readers to perform a certain task
To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now…
Compile timeless tips into one giant list post
History of a Topic
Time travel with your readers and tell them the history of a topic
Expert Round-Up Posts
People never get tired of expert advice.
Case studies are among the most popular content types with the longest lives.
Posts that evoke emotion and motivate people, never get old
These examples are enough to show you the wide range of formats you can use to create timeless content.
The only thing left now, is for you to take action.
Are You Ready To Publish More Evergreen Content?
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be
Evergreen content becomes a business asset every time you publish it.
With every published post, you’ll drive more traffic and more leads with less amount of work.
Content about trending topics and important events has its place, but evergreen content is the foundation on which every successful niche blog is built.
Have a question about this article? Feel free to ask in NicheHacks Facebook Mastermind Group.
The post How To Create Evergreen Content: An Actionable Guide To Producing Timeless Blog Posts appeared first on NicheHacks.
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Whether you’re an employer or a job seeker, the hiring
process is often not as easy as we’d like it to be. Many of us have been on
both sides of the table and, if we’re being honest, have had some not so great
Did you ever go on what seemed like a successful job
interview only to be ghosted by a hiring manager?
Or maybe you had a promising phone call with a potential
candidate who never showed up to their in-person interview?
There’s a lot that can go wrong when it comes to hiring and
mistakes are made all of the time. Fortunately, our very own Director of People
and Culture, Sophia Lopez, is an expert in this department. And she’s shared a
few of her best tips to help you really hone your hiring process.
The Biggest Mistakes Job
Seekers Can Make in An Interview
Not unlike dating, job interviews can be nerve-wracking and
awkward for both the employer and the candidate.
First impressions have the power to make or break a
potential future relationship, and that’s why it’s extremely important to pay
attention to key mistakes.
There are a few interviewee faux pas Sophia has witnessed first-hand.
For one, an interviewee should never ever ghost their
potential future employer. Not showing up for a scheduled interview and then
waiting several days to contact the company is not only rude, it’s also disrespectful
of everyone’s time and could be an indicator of poor communication skills. Let’s
be honest, no one likes to be ghosted in any capacity.
(RELATED: 11 Tips to Hire Freelancers Without Losing Your Mind)
Another pretty obvious no-no is leaving trash behind after
an interview. If your interviewee doesn’t clean up after themselves or take the
initiative to ask where the nearest trash can is, that’s a pretty clear indicator
of bad habits that could hurt your company down the line.
The Biggest Mistakes Employers
Can Make in The Hiring Process
Of course, employers aren’t without their faults either. The
interview process is a two-way street.
Job candidates can tell a lot about a company by the way
they are treated during those early interactions. Sophia notes that employers
should be conscious of the way their interviewees perceive the company from the
second they walk in the door.
One of the big mistakes she has seen employers make is not
being prepared for the candidate’s arrival—not knowing who is coming in or
when. A lack of preparation never looks good on anybody, but especially the
people that are supposed to be the professionals conducting the interviews.
Another thing employers should keep an eye on is
consistency. If they are not consistent with each interviewee (asking the same
questions, etc.), it’s very difficult to judge candidates side by side.
How Employers Can Prepare for
a Successful Interview
Now that we’ve talked about the mistakes employers can make,
let’s go through some of the ways companies can better prepare for an upcoming
Sophia says one of the biggest ways you can help yourself in
the interview process is to be prepared. Know your workflow from the very start—which
team members will need to be present at each level of the interview, what
questions will be asked. It’s also important to engage your candidate. Be
respectful of their time just as they are of yours.
Little things like greeting the candidate by name as they
walk in the door or asking someone from HR to visit with the candidate while
they are waiting to be interviewed can make all the difference.
Remember, you’re trying to sell them on your company as much
as they are trying to sell themselves as a potential employee.
How HR and Hiring Managers
Can Better Support Each Other
The hiring process should never be a one-person job—it’s a
collaborative effort. As Sophia says, HR and the hiring manager should be
working in tangent.
Often times, it’s assumed that HR owns the entire process
start to finish, but this isn’t an efficient organization for your team and can
lead to one department feeling overwhelmed and potentially hiring the wrong
On the other hand, if hiring managers are left to their own
devices, they could be a company liability as they typically aren’t aware of
all of the recruiting legalities that an HR person would have to know.
Needless to say, open communication and teamwork are the
best ways to make sure that everyone is on the same page throughout every stage
of the hiring process.
The Importance of Culture
When it comes to hiring the right candidate, employers should not solely be focused on skillset. Though skillset is extremely important, the right personality fit is also a big component.
Knowing someone’s values and goals and making sure those
align with your company focus ensures a beneficial future relationship.
When Sophia uses the term “fit,” she doesn’t mean to say,
“like us,” because it’s important to value diversity and inclusion in the
workplace. Different perspectives can certainly enhance your company overall.
In this sense, “fit” simply means they understand the company mission and are
willing to work toward the same goals.
Over the past 10 years, the hiring process has changed
dramatically. Now more than ever, we have readily available data at our finger
tips to help us find candidates more efficiently.
Whether you want to know the diversity of your candidate
pool or how many applicants are repeats who continue to engage with your site,
there is a wealth of information for employers out there.
Analytics can also be used to prove that your methods of
recruiting are effective for your environment. Sophia explains that the
recruiting process is essentially marketing to potential candidates. It’s
important to give them the same experience they should expect from your company
right off the bat.
Don’t Stop at Diversity
We all know how important diversity is when it comes to
vetting potential employees, but that mindset shouldn’t stop at the hiring
process. Having a constant strategy in place for openness and inclusion within
the day-to-day operations of your company is vital.
At DigitalMarketer, we embrace a level playing field and
equal opportunity for every employee. Not only do we commit to this verbally,
but we show it in the work that we do and the actions we take to make sure
everyone on our team feels included.
Obstacles to Creating a Diverse
Unfortunately, there are a few obstacles when it comes to
creating a diverse workplace. Time and cost are 2 of the biggest barriers when
recruiting new employees.
There are a number of great job boards out there that
advertise their diverse candidate pools, but these platforms often come with a
cost and most companies are under budget restraints when it comes to recruiting.
Employers also have to weigh in the time investment costs of
both the interviewer and candidate. Finding ways to justify these costs is just
one of the challenges a recruiter may face when trying to diversify their workplace.
At DigitalMarketer, we have a pretty thorough hiring process
that helps us find employees who are truly the right fit for our company.
First, a potential candidate is given a phone screening with
Sophia. If they pass this stage, an in-person interview is scheduled with the
hiring manager and director of that specific department. Depending on the role,
a candidate may also be assigned a small project to complete and return to the
After this round, a panel interview will be conducted with
the department director and 3 other individuals who the candidate would
potentially be collaborating with. Finally, directors will often have dinner
with the candidate to see how they interact in public.
Throughout every stage of the hiring process, Sophia
contacts the individuals who have not been chosen to move forward. We all know
just how frustrating it can be to go through a multi-round interview process
and then never hear back from the employer. “We like to be the recruiters that
we wish we had while we were in it,” Sophia says.
The Most Valuable Traits for
Here at DigitalMarketer, there are certain traits we value
in our potential employees. The first and perhaps most important being “give a
Every person who works at DigitalMarketer should be
motivated to be here. They should be excited about their work, our mission, and
our different core values.
Another valuable trait we look for in a candidate is a team
mentality. Everyone at DigitalMarketer is a team player and has that “mutually
beneficial” mindset. It isn’t just about the individual, it’s about everyone
being successful in what we do.
Lastly, hunger is a quality we need to see in our employees—hunger
to learn and dive in headfirst to every challenge that comes their way.
We hope Sophia’s tips helped you feel at least a little less overwhelmed by the hiring process and that you feel confident in vetting your potential new team members. Take a deep breath, and hire on!
Read more: digitalmarketer.comRead More
Have you been to a stadium concert lately? The big ones touring the country tend to pull out all the stops. It’s not just a singer on stage — they are usually supported by a giant jumbotron as backdrop providing flashy visuals, along with fog machines, laser lights, platforms rising out of the ground, special guest cameos… the works.
Why is this? Because the bar has been raised. When fans plunk down the big bucks for tickets to see Drake or Carrie Underwood or The Rolling Stones, they expect more than seeing their favorite artists performing on stage. They expect an unforgettable experience that stirs all the senses.
In content marketing, we see a continuing shift toward delivering full-on experiences. This emerging focus is evident in the steady growth of the term “content experience” in Google Trends over the past 10 years, and is now reaching a fever pitch as technology enables unprecedented sparkle and scintillation, while the shortening attention spans of our audience demand it.
The theme for this year’s Content Marketing World extravaganza, as well as our interactive preview and the series of blog posts wrapping up today, all lead back to this crucial edict: elevating experiences and wowing the crowd. The good news is that there are endless ways to creatively approach this initiative, and today we’ll draw inspiration from CMWorld speakers who will be taking the stage next week in Cleveland to offer up some memorable experiences of their own.
3 Expert Tips on Stepping Up the Content Experience
#1 – Create Serial Content
It’s tempting to think about high-caliber content experiences in terms of pageantry and spectacle, but there are many simpler elements at play. Your audience wants content that it can contextualize, compartmentalize, and reliably look forward to. There’s a reason that almost every big Hollywood release these days is a spin-off, sequel, or reboot — viewers thrive on familiarity. For this reason, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert says serial content, steeped in quality and consistency, is a must.
“This aids in recognition and findability and taps into the truism that multiple exposures are often needed to drive behavior,” Jay explains. And he says another key is making this serial content as easy as possible for your audience to get to.
[bctt tweet=”Ask yourself how your information and insights can be accessed with a minimum amount of effort or hassle for the consumer. – @jaybaer on minimizing content friction #CMWorld ” username=”toprank”]
There are any number of ways to serialize your content. Maybe it’s breaking a big idea up into a series of blog posts, dissecting various components. Maybe it’s a run of videos mirroring the format of a TV season. And of course, podcasts are gaining fast popularity as an inherently serial form of content.
At TopRank Marketing, we’re all about serial content. You can reliably find our Digital Marketing News roundups (both blog and video) every Friday. Recently we’ve been running a Trust Factors series, examining the vital topic of trust in marketing from various angles. And in fact, you’re reading the final installment of a four-part series right now! Check out the previous “Wow Your Crowd” entries below:
Wow Your Crowd: How Content Planning Sets the Stage for Unforgettable Experiences
Wow Your Crowd: How Content Marketers Can Create Powerful Audience Connections
Wow Your Crowd: How Influencers and Media Integrations Can Add Pizzazz to Your Content Act
#2 – Use Tools and Technology Thoughtfully
There are so many eye-catching technologies out there offering new ways to package and deliver content. But don’t be blinded by bells and whistles. Add-ons like interactivity only make sense if they actually serve a meaningful purpose.
“The key for brands is to not just pursue these programs for the sake of doing it, or to ‘be cool,’ but to have a clear purpose and value-add,” says SAP’s Amisha Gandhi.
For example, when scrolling through the Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth experience created by TopRank Marketing and Content Marketing Institute, you’ll be able to play games like shoot-the-duck and bop-the-clown. But these interactive gamification elements weren’t just thrown in for the heck of it; they’re meant to play up the midway/carnival vibes of the asset (and this year’s CMWorld conference).
[bctt tweet=”A memorable experience goes a long way. – @AmishaGandhi on raising the bar for content experiences #CMWorld” username=”toprank”]
#3 – Measure and Optimize
The trouble with all this talk about content experiences is that they can feel difficult to quantify and report on. I mean, how do you measure audience delight? What is the ROI of someone grinning with glee while bopping clowns on their browser?
To some degree, the benefits of a great experience are intangible, at least in the short-term. But we can still measure the impact by connecting consumption metrics with bottom-line results.
“I think of content marketing metrics in two dimensions: Business outcomes (how content is contributing to the business) and engagement metrics (a proxy for how much the target audience likes the content),” says Chris White of Capital One.
He breaks them down like this:
Total view time
Percent of target audience (in relation to total viewers)
Remarketing audience size
Customer behavior (e.g., retention, adoption rate, referrals, etc.)
If you’re getting it right with customer experiences, you’ll see growth across all of these metrics over time. From our view at TopRank Marketing, engagement metrics and business outcomes (or proof of ROI) are among the seven essential elements for content marketing performance dashboard. Also included: benchmarks, goals, real-time KPI monitoring, traffic trends, and breakdowns by topic/persona.
[bctt tweet=”Every initiative is paired with a specific business outcome to evaluate performance. Although we keep tabs on engagement metrics, they do not dictate success by themselves. – Chris White of @CapitalOne on measuring content performance ” username=”toprank”]
Experience Is Your Content Differentiator
Turn content experience into your competitive advantage. Create things that amaze your audience and leave them yearning for more. Utilize new trends and tech when appropriate to elevate your content. And, at all times, validate your efforts by measuring the right things and letting your customers dictate your direction.
Is it silly to think about content marketing on the same terms as stadium concerts? I’d say it’s silly not to.
We’re counting down the days until the grand experience unfolds at Content Marketing World 2019 on Sept. 3, 2019 in Cleveland. Before then, you can find plenty more guidance on taking your programs to the next level in our interactive experience, The Greatest Content Marketing Show on Earth.
The post Wow Your Crowd: The Recipe for Creating Exceptional Content Experiences appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.
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Posted by MiriamEllis
“To receive everything, one must open one’s hands and give.” – Taisen Deshimaru, Buddhist philosopher
A woman stands in a busy supermarket checkout line. The shopper in front of her realizes that they don’t have enough money with them to cover their purchase, so she steps in and makes up the balance. Then, when she reaches the checkout, her own receipt totals up higher than she was expecting. She doesn’t have enough left in her purse.
“No problem,” says the young clerk and swipes his own debit card to pay for her groceries.
A bystander snaps a photo and posts the story to Facebook. The story ends up on local radio and TV news. Unstructured citations for the grocery store start crackling like popcorn. National news takes notice. A scholarship foundation presents a check to the clerk. When asked how he felt about it, the clerk said:
“Personally, I think it’s undeserved attention. Because she did something so good … I felt like it was my responsibility to return the favor.”
In the process, if only for a moment in time, an everyday supermarket is transformed into a rescue operation for hope in humanity. Through the lens of local SEO, it’s also a lesson in how good deeds can be rewarded by good mentions.
Studying business kindness can be a rewarding task for any motivated digital marketing agency or local brand owner. I hope this post will be both a pick-me-up for the day, and a rallying cry to begin having deeper conversations about the positive culture businesses can create in the communities they serve.
10+ evocative examples of business kindness
“We should love people and use things, but sadly, we love things and use people,” Roger Johnson, Artisan
As a youngster in the American workforce, I ran into some very peculiar styles of leadership.
For instance, one boss gruffly told me not to waste too much time chatting with the elderly customers who especially loved buying from me…as if customer support doesn’t make or break business reputations.
And then there was the cranky school secretary who reprimanded me for giving ice packs to children because she believed they were only “trying to get attention” … as if schools don’t exist to lavish focus on the kids in their care.
In other words, both individuals would have preferred me to be less kind, less human, than more so.
Perhaps it was these experiences of my superiors taking a miserly approach to workplace human kindness that inspired me to keep a little file of outbreaks of goodwill that earned online renown. These examples beg self-reflective questions of any local business owner:
If you launched your brand in the winter, would you have opened your doors while under construction to shelter and feed housing-insecure neighbors? If a neighboring business was struggling, would you offer them floor space in your shop to help them survive? Would your brand’s culture inspire an employee to cut up an elder’s ham for him if he needed help? How awesome would it be if a staffer of yours had a day named after her for her kindness? Would your employees comp a meal for a hungry neighbor or pay a customer’s $200 tab because they saw them hold open a door for a differently-abled guest?What good things might happen in a community you serve if you started mailing out postcards promoting positivity? What if you gave flowers to strangers, including moms, on Mother’s Day? How deeply are you delving into the season of giving at the holidays? What if, like one business owner, you opened shop on Thanksgiving just to help a family find a gift for a foster child? You might wake up to international fame on Monday morning. What if visitors to your community had their bikes stolen on a road trip and your shop gifted them new bikes and ended up on the news?One business owner was so grateful for his community’s help in overcoming addiction, he’s been washing their signage for free. What has your community done for you and how have you thanked them?What if all you had to do was something really small, like replacing negative “towed at your own expense” signs by welcoming quick stop parking? What if you, just for a day, you asked customers to pay for their purchases with kind acts?
I only know about these stories because of the unstructured citations (online references to a local business) they generated. They earned online publicity, radio, and television press. The fame for some was small and local, for others, internationally viral. Some activities were planned, but many others took place on the spur of the moment. Kindness, empathy, and gratitude, flow through them all like a river of hope, inviting every business owner to catch the current in their own way. One easy way for local business owners to keep better track of any positive mentions is by managing and monitoring reviews online with the New Moz Local.
Can kindness be taught in the workplace?
In Demark, schoolchildren learn empathy as a class subject. The country is routinely rated as one of the happiest in the world. At Moz, we have the TAGFEE code, which includes both generosity and empathy, and our company offers internal workshops on things like “How to be TAGFEE when you disagree.” We are noted for the kindness of our customer support, as in the above review.
According to Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki, people “catch” cooperation and generosity from others. In his study, the monetary amount donors gave to charity went up or down based on whether they were told their peers gave much or little. They matched the generosity or stinginess they witnessed. In part two of the study, the groups who had seen others donating generously went on to offer greater empathy in writing letters to penpals suffering hard times. In other words, kindness isn’t just contagious — its impact can spread across multiple activities.
Mercedes-Benz CEO, Stephen Cannon, wanted employees to catch the kindness bug because of its profound impact on sales. He invited his workforce to join a “grassroots movement” that resulted in surprising shoppers with birthday cakes, staff rushing to remote locations with spare tires, and other memorable consumer experiences. Cannon noted:
“There is no scientific process, no algorithm, to inspire a salesperson or a service person to do something extraordinary. The only way you get there is to educate people, excite them, incite them. Give them permission to rise to the occasion when the occasion to do something arises. This is not about following instructions. It’s about taking a leap of faith.”
In a 2018 article, I highlighted the reviews of a pharmacy that made it apparent that staff wasn’t empowered to do the simplest self-determined acts, like providing a chair for a sick man who was about to fall down in a long prescription counter line. By contrast, an Inc. book review of Jill Lublin’s The Profits of Kindness states:
“Organizations that trade in kindness allow their employees to give that currency away. If you’re a waitress, can you give someone a free piece of pie because the kid at the next table spilled milk on their foot? If you’re a clerk in a hotel, do you have the authority to give someone a discounted rate because you can tell they’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?”
There may be no formula for teaching kindness, but if Zaki is right, then leadership can be the starting point of demonstrative empathy that can emanate through the staff and to its customers. How do you build for that?
A cared-for workforce for customer service excellence
You can find examples of individual employees behaving with radical kindness despite working for brands that routinely disregard workers’ basic needs. But, this hardly seems ideal. How much better to build a business on empathy and generosity so that cared-for staff can care for customers.
I ran a very quick Twitter poll to ask employees what their very most basic need is:
Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents cited a living wage as their top requirement. Owners developing a kind workforce must ensure that staff are housing-and-food-secure, and can afford the basic dignities of life. Any brand that can’t pay its staff a living wage isn’t really operational — it’s exploitation.
Beyond the bare minimums, Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2019 Survey of 7,300 executives, HR experts, and employees highlighted trending worker emphasis on:
Flexibility in both hours and location to create a healthy work/life balanceEthics in company technology, practices, and transparencyEquity in pay ratios, regardless of genderEmpathy in the workplace, both internally and in having a positive societal impact with customers
It’s just not very hard to connect the dots between a workforce that has its basic and aspirational needs met, and one possessing the physical, mental and emotional health to extend those values to consumers. As I found in a recent study of my own, 70 percent of negative review resolution was driven by brands having to overcome bad/rude service with subsequent caring service.
Even at the smallest local business level, caring policies and initiatives that generate kindness are within reach, with Gallup reporting that SMBs have America’s happiest and most engaged workers. Check out Forbes list of the best small companies of 2019 and note the repeated emphasis on employee satisfaction.
Kindness as currency, with limitless growth potential
“I wanted a tangible item that could track acts of kindness. From that, the Butterfly Coin emerged.” Bruce Pedersen, Butterfly Coins
Maybe someday, you’ll be the lucky recipient of a Butterfly Coin, equipped with a unique tracking code, and gifted to you by someone doing a kind act. Then, you’ll do something nice for somebody and pass it on, recording your story amongst thousands of others around the world. People, it seems, are so eager for tokens of kindness that the first mint sold out almost immediately.
The butterfly effect (the inspiration for the name of these coins) in chaos theory holds that a small action can trigger multiple subsequent actions at a remove. In a local business setting, an owner could publicly reward an employee’s contributions, which could cause the employee to spread their extra happiness to twenty customers that day, which could cause those customers to be in a mood to tip waitstaff extra, which could cause the waitstaff to comp meals for hungry neighbors sitting on their doorsteps, and on and on it goes.
There’s an artisan in Gig Harbor, WA who rewards kindnesses via turtle figurines. There are local newspapers that solicit stories of kindness. There are towns that have inaugurated acts-of-kindness weeks. There is even a suburb in Phoenix, AZ that re-dubbed itself Kindness, USA. (I mentioned, I’ve been keeping a file).
The most priceless aspect of kindness is that it’s virtually limitless. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be quantified. The Butterfly Coin idea is attempting to track kindness, and as a local business owner, you have a practical means of parsing it, too. It will turn up in unstructured citations, reviews, and social media, if you originate it at the leadership level, and share it out from employee to customer with an open hand.
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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.
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.
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