Tagged: Marketing Basics
- by Alyson Shane
Websites exist for the same reason: to get the visitor to take action.
Whether that's reading a blog post, subscribing to your newsletter, buying your product, or learning more about what you do, there shouldn't be a single page on your website that isn't there to generate an action from the person viewing it.
But if your page copy isn't set up to convey information in a way that offers value and inspires the action you want someone to take, you're leaving customers at your digital doorstep.
As content experts, we spend a lot of time working with our clients to hone their copy and keep their pages converting and consistent. With that in mind, today we're going to review some of the most common reasons we find our client's content wasn't converting, and unpack how we approach solving their issues:
You Use Empty Words
One of the most common issues we see when developing a voice and tone guide with many clients with many of our B2B clients is a tendency towards verbosity in their copy.
Often we'll run into sentences that sound like this:
"Our team of exceptionally qualified experts with decades of experience in their respective fields who are fiercely committed to delivering exceptional results that exceed expectation and reimagine the potentiality of our client's portfolios."
... So, how did reading that make you feel? Cross-eyed? Us, too.
Often, we find that in an attempt to sound professional, people will stuff unnecessary words into a sentence that detract from the point they're trying to make.
The Solution: Write Like Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway was famous for his short and quippy prose. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Hemingway's sentences were concise and to the point, and conveyed the maximum amount of information in the fewest amount of words.
When we write for our clients, we edit our work and ask "would Hemingway leave this sentence? Or can we be more concise here?" Try it for yourself and see what the results are!
Bonus: there's even a Hemingway Editor tool that's super handy.
You Lose Focus in Your Copy
If Hemingway was able to hammer home a powerhouse story in just a few hundred pages, your web page copy can be snappy and concise while still conveying your brand voice and communicating value.
But why does this happen in the first place? In a lot of cases it's because the writer is trying to up-sell the reader on something.
Think about it this way: if you have two related products - say, a bicycle and a helmet - it may be tempting to try and sell both on the same page.
People think: "if they don't buy the bike, they'll buy the helmet!" but this tactic often backfires because you're splitting your reader's attention.
But by splitting your audience's attention you reduce the likelihood they'll buy either item. The more things you stuff onto a page, the more divided your reader's attention (and incentive to purchase) is separated and diminished.
The Solution: Focus on the Subject Matter
The key to writing concise copy is to stay laser-focused on the subject matter on the page.
For service pages, write one page per service.
For item pages, write one page per item.
For blogs, write about one idea or topic.
This will keep your audience's attention focused, and will keep your brand's voice and tone from sounding inconsistent and confused.
Oh, and by all means use embedded links to link to related topics when necessary, but be careful to focus on one topic per page.
Reading it Feels Like Work
Have you ever seen an attention-grabbing headline, clicked over to the website, and then clicked away immediately because you didn't feel like putting the work into reading the whole thing? Yeah, us too.
Typically "hard work" pages happen because they've been stuffed with empty words and sentences, like the example we showed earlier.
These pages are dangerous because they increase your bounce rate (people who leave your website after only looking at one page), make your page look less appealing to read.
Worst of all: these pages fail to communicate value because there's so much fluff in the copy that the real points - the ones that are valuable to your audience - are lost in there somewhere.
The Solution: Optimize for Mobile
Gone are the days when crowds used to gather to hear Abraham Lincoln read a four-hour rebuttal to an opponent's platform; our modern society likes when people are to the point and communicate clearly.
This has mainly been driven by the explosion of mobile phones and smaller screens. Lots of text is hard to read on a smaller screen, and how we write our copy has to change to adapt to these trends.
By always writing your copy with mobile in mind, we apply these principles:
- Avoid large paragraphs and try to keep sentences short.
- Use shorter words to communicate your message.
- Cut out empty words.
Your Copy Sounds Wooden
We've noticed this tendency in the B2B space much more than the B2C space, probably because of that perception of fanciness we discussed earlier. Unfortunately, the most significant consequence of this style of writing is that not only does it tend to get filled with empty words, it often sounds wooden and unapproachable.
Two words a business owner should never want to hear are "wooden and unapproachable."
Why? Because people buy from brands and people they like and trust. Let's think about it this way:
You're a farmer at a networking event, and you meet two business owners, Robert and Stephen. Robert is wearing a three-piece suit and is standing with his arms crossed and talking but not smiling; Stephen is wearing a suit jacket, slacks, and is telling an entertaining story and moving his hands around.
Who are you more likely to buy from? Robert or Stephen?
If you're like most people, you'll choose Stephen. Why? Because he seemed more approachable and friendly, not wooden and reserved like Robert, and these subtle differences in how we communicate impact how people feel about us.
People (and brands) who seem approachable and friendly make their audience feel comfortable enough to want to buy from them.
The Solution: Keep Your Copy Approachable
Consider how your phrasing makes your page sound.
Read the copy on your web pages out loud to yourself.
Who does it sound more like: Robert, or Stephen?
Copy that sounds like Stephen should sound clear, friendly, and approachable.
Focusing on sounding positive and avoiding complicated language shows your reader that their experience of reading your website is what matters most, and doesn't make them feel uncomfortable, or like reading it is a chore.
By avoiding empty words and sentences, staying on-topic, and by working to be approachable and clear, you can write web page copy that keeps your reader on the page, drives the action you want them to take, and conveys the value of your services to your audience.
Need some help figuring out how to do it? Get in touch and let us know how we can make your brand sing with a content strategy based on data, analytics, and a deep understanding of how to write content that gets results. Get tips right to your inbox, and give us a follow on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
- by Alyson Shane
The Art of War, written by Chinese general Sun Tzu in the second century B.C., is considered to be one of the most influential military books in history. Not only was Sun Tzu's prudent and thoughtful analysis of military strategy relevant in his time, but in the centuries that have passed Sun Tzu's influence can be felt in a variety of areas across the globe.
From military policy, to law, to business, thinkers have been heeding his advice and applying takeaways from his lessons to think more critically about overcoming personal and professional challenges.
Below, we want to share our six favorite takeaways from this monumentally important read, and translate Sun Tzu's advice into lessons that marketers like us can apply to modern-day marketing problems:
1. “There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white and black), yet in combination, they produce more hues than can ever be seen.”
Get creative with your marketing approach and don't be afraid to try new things in order to discover new solutions to existing problems.
By blending primary colors we can create a rainbow, and by getting creative with our marketing we can overcome the limitations of budget, knowledge, or even time.
2. “The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.”
Don't let hubris be your downfall, and don't be afraid to retreat and regroup if something doesn't go the way you intended.
In short: don't be afraid to fail or to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn, and by accepting and learning from them, you can hone your marketing messaging to really speak to your customers.
3. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Effective marketing requires both discipline (strategy) and execution (tactics.)
Discipline refers to maintaining a macro-level, long-term vision for your company which incorporates a well-developed marketing strategy. However, without the daily to-dos of engagement, publishing content, sharing articles, and other day-to-day marketing tasks, the strategy falls apart. This is why it's essential to review goals and KPIs regularly (tactics) to ensure that you're always working towards your goal.
4. “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”
Pay attention to market trends, your competition, and what influencers in your industry are doing.
With so many daily tasks and to-dos, it can be easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees when it comes to staying on top of the ways that the digital marketing landscape is changing. However, staying up-to-date on the latest developments in our industry is essential to avoid being left in the digital dust.
5. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
Planning and preparedness are great, but real marketing magic happens when we allow ourselves to be flexible and seize on opportunities to stand out.
One of our favorite recent examples of "seizing an opportunity" was when KFC ran into a bizarre crisis: they ran out of chicken in the U.K. due to a mixup with the supplier. Instead of hiding from the problem and trying to downplay it, the marketing geniuses at KFC released a series of ads which read "FCK. We're sorry." which not only addressed the problem (and earned goodwill with their customers) but also was covered in multiple media outlets and hailed as a marketing success.
6. “Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”
Successful marketers are ones who are agile.
One of the cornerstones of digital marketing success is to lean on your data and analytics to understand user behavior and your most important KPIs. However, it's not enough o keep repeating the same steps as you did last month, last quarter, or even last year.
Agile marketing means taking the time to understand your data, and to use what you see to make decisions based on what is, and isn't working. Ask yourself: what do the numbers tell me, and how can I make adjustments to what we're already doing to continue to meet our growth KPIs?
In war, in business, and in marketing, history's most successful and influential thinkers were those who took the time to think strategically about how to achieve their goals. By applying a strategic, tactical approach to your marketing, you can grow a community around your business, increase leads and reach new customers, and increase your business' bottom line.
Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram for applicable strategy and insights you can use. Need a strategic partner to work with you to develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy? Get in touch - we'd love to make your brand sing.
- by Alyson Shane
Disclaimer: this blog post is intended to provide background information about how marketers can comply with EU data privacy laws like GDPR, not as legal advice. We're not lawyers, and if you have specific questions about GDPR we recommend that you contact your attorney for accurate info. What follows is basic information and guidelines.
If you've been anywhere near a computer in the past few weeks it's likely that you've heard about GDPR, or the General Data Privacy Regulation coming into force on May 25, 2018 - but do you know what this means for you as a digital marketer?
HubSpot's research concluded that only 36% of marketers have heard about GDPR, and 15% of companies surveyed haven't taken actions to ensure that they comply with the new legislation, so we want to take this opportunity to explain some of the basics about GDPR, how it applies to your business, and what you can do to ensure you comply.
Let's dive right in:
Let's start by addressing two important points:
- If you handle or control the data for EU citizens (or their businesses) then GDPR will apply to you.
- Penalties for noncompliance will be severe. Depending on the type of violation companies may be fined up to €20 million or 4% of their annual global revenue - whichever is greater. So this new legislation comes with some sharp teeth.
This means that if you (or your company) has engaged in any shady marketing practices like cold emailing, spamming, or buying email lists, then you're in for a world of hurt. And honestly? We're okay with pushback on these tactics because they're outdated, shady, and damage the work digital marketers like us do to provide real value for our clients and their customers.
We'll just say this at the outset: there's a lot to keep track of when it comes to GDPR, so we're going to apply it to inbound marketing tactics and explore how to adapt to the new regulations and incorporate the changes into your inbound practice:
How Will the GDPR Impact Your Marketing Activities?
Essentially the GDPR came about in the wake of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal and the increased public attention on the fact that it can be really hard to know who is collecting and using your data.
This change requires organizations who collect data ('Data Controllers') to be transparent in how the data provided by the user ('Data Subjects') will be used in the future, and provide the user with the chance to give their consent. The language in the GDPR dictates that consent needs to be clear, written in plain English, and must be "informed, specific, unambiguous, and revocable."
Lots of organizations use gated content to build their email lists and generate leads for their business. This is usually a pretty simple exchange: the user provides some basic information, like their name, email, and sometimes their business name, and in return they get access to a ebook, whitepaper, or other type of valuable content.
Now that the GDPR has come into play, businesses need to provide additional information about how they're planning to use that data - whether it's to follow up via email, track that user's activity on their website, etc., it all needs to be communicated clearly from the get-go.
Additionally, if the business wants to use that data for any other purpose they need to follow up and acquire consent from the user before they can legally use it again.
Data Collection + Sharing Restrictions
In addition to clearly communicating how a users' data will be used, new GDPR rules dictate that businesses can only collect data that is:
- Necessary for the purpose of collection
This means any data collected that's deemed "unnecessary" or "in excess" will constitute a breach of the GDPR, and your business will be fined.
Additionally, if your business attempts to use data for reasons other than the specified, legal, and previously agreed-upon purposes, then you'll need to acquire additional consent from the user in order to do so.
Collecting data in exchange for gated content is commonplace - we already know that - but new GDPR rules are much more specific about the kind of data that you can request from a user in exchange for your gated content.
For example, if your company offers an ebook about developing C-suite leadership and team management skills, then it's appropriate to ask for data such as:
- The user's name
- Their email
- Business name
- Number of employees in the business
However, if you tried to collect data about the user's personal life such as their relationship status, employment history, and salary, then it would be seen as excessive and not required by a company offering B2B resources. Additionally, your business can only use stored data for it's original, intended purposes - so additional consent from the user is required in this instance, as well.
Increased Data Security
Once data has been collected the GDPR dictates that businesses need to use "appropriate technical and organizational security measures" to protect against the accidental loss, disclosure, destruction, alteration, and access to that data.
Once a business has data stored in their system it becomes their responsibility to ensure that it is safe and secure. The type of steps they may need to take to encrypt the data and keep it secure depends on the type of data collected and how they're planning to use that data.
Keeping Data Accurate
This one's a little non-newsy, but the GDPR now makes it officially acceptable for people to contact businesses in possession of their data so that it can be updated to be as relevant as possible.
You're subscribed to a newsletter that you really enjoy reading, but have switched to a new email service provider and want to contact the sender to let them know where they can reach you at your new email address.
(Like we said: this one's a little non-newsy since lots of folks already do this, but it's GDPR official now.)
Every business is accountable for how the data they collect is used, ensure that they have records of consent for all the collected information, and that policies are in place that meet the GDPR's restrictions on how that data can be used.
Let's say your business wants to run a marketing campaign using data you've previously collected (like a Facebook Custom Audience) and have contracted to a third party company to handle the advertising aspect of your campaign.
With GDPR in effect, your business will need to obtain consent from all users to use their data before using it (like we talked about above), and that consent needs to be clearly recorded, and any third-party contractors need to comply with Article 28 of the GDPR, which applies to Processor contracts.
Updates to Data Retention + Deletion
Under the GDPR organizations can keep the data they collect for as long as it's needed to fulfill the original purpose collection, which means that a data retention policy needs to already be in place which clearly outlines how long they'll hold onto the data once it has been received.
Most companies already have data retention politics in place, but we recommend double-checking local laws and regulations, as well as GDPR rules, and ensuring that your data retention policy is transparent and clearly communicated to the user.
You're a customer and you close your account with an organization because you no longer want or require their services. At this point the business will need to have a data retention policy in place (and comply with it) that meets GDPR standards if they want to retain any of the data lost when the account closes.
(On this note, you may have heard that Facebook has recently rolled out a Clear History function which not only acts as a "clear cookies" option for Facebook data, but also allows users to see which apps and services have accessed their Facebook data. You can read Mark Zuckerberg's post here, and a great in-depth discussion on the HackerNews forum about it here.)
Final Thoughts on the GDPR
While the GDPR may sound like an inconvenience from a business and marketing standpoint, legislation that protects user data and increases transparency between the people who share data and the companies that use it helps keep everyone's data safe and used respectfully.
Here at Starling Social we don't believe that sharing data, or asking for it, is a bad thing. Collecting data in aggregate helps us deliver better content and ads that grow businesses, solve problems for our clients' customers, and provide revenue that helps keep people employed, but it's important that organizations are transparent and up-front with the data they want, and how they intend to use it.
At the end of the day, the GDPR offers an important opportunity for organizations and marketers alike to rethink how we approach collecting and using data, and how we can use it to create more personalized, effective, and efficient content that serves our customers.
Want more info on GPDR and what it means for marketers? Check out some of the resources we used when putting this article together:
- Implications of the GDPR for marketing in UK and Europe via Smart Insights
- Is Your Company GDPR Ready? via Smart Insights
- The Role of Marketing in GDPR via Forbes
- How GDPR Impacts Marketers via Social Media Examiner
- European Union GDPR Information Portal
- by Alyson Shane
Every business owner knows that social media saturation, competitive paid promotions, and fierce online competition in over-saturated marketplaces make it harder than ever for a business to stand out online.
Enter: the Voice + Tone document.
This super-powerful document helps maintain a unique and on-brand "voice" across all of your communication channels. It's critical to help consumers understand your brand's values, mission, and your unique value proposition (UVP.)
Not only does a voice and tone document help your brand sound more like a human and less like a robot, but this document will help to guide building a trusting two-way relationship with customers and affiliate businesses, and increases the likelihood that users will respond to and share your content, which amplifies your organic (non-paid) social efforts.
We've already written about why your business needs proper documentation to find (and keep!) your brand's voice and tone, and today we'll be digging deeper into how you can discover the elements that matter to your brand, and how to incorporate them into a killer Voice + Tone document that helps differentiate your business from your competitors and conveys your brand values to your customers.
Let's dive right in:
Voice + Tone: A Refresher
Voice and tone sound similar, but are actually two parts of a whole. Your brand's voice should be consistent across all of your digital channels and communication platforms (blog, website, newsletter, ads, etc.); however, your tone may differ depending on who you're speaking to, and where.
Think about it this way:
Voice: How your brand expresses its personality in general. Typically we look to specific adjectives, values, and pre-determined statements about the brand to guide our voice.
Tone: How your brand's voice is applied in different situations. "Tone" can differ depending on the social network and context in which you're speaking (e.g.: users use more formal language on LinkedIn than Facebook.)
Finding Your Brand's Voice + Tone
Finding your brand's ideal voice and tone may take several iterations to get right, especially after times of change such as a new product launch, change in management at the C-suite level, or a merger. However, these steps will get you started:
Build a Brand Persona
You've probably heard about "Buyer Personas" or "Buyer Profiles" before, but have you spent the time necessary to develop a "persona" for your brand?
If you haven't, now's the perfect time to sit down and ask yourself and your management team some important questions about how you want your brand to be perceived online (hint: your UVP may have some answers, so make sure to have it on-hand as well.)
Some questions to get you started include:
- What are our values? What sets us apart from our competitors?
- Who are we creating content for? Who are our "audience" online?
- Where do our audience spend time online? How do we want to communicate with them?
- How does our audience communicate with us and others on social media? What language and tone are they using?
Write With Buyer Profiles in Mind
One of the most effective ways to understand how to talk to your audience is to re-assess who you're talking to, and where they are in their Buyer Journeys. Tf you have them, this is the ideal time to whip out your Buyer Profiles (or your Ideal Customer Profile [ICP] if you have one) to use as your guide.
As an example, here are some voice and tone takeaways that we helped determine for a client, who runs a consulting agency specializing sales strategy and optimization:
- CEO/Senior Sales Leaders
- Ideal company/employee size: 200 - 1000
- At least 20 people on the sales team
- At least 5 years in business
- Over $50 million in revenue
With this in mind, here are the assumptions we can make about our readers when creating copy:
- They’re not looking for “light” content. They’re seeking out the best expertise in their field, which means applying a “data-driven approach” which uses data, surveys, and statistics to validate our claims whenever possible.
- They’re already familiar with industry terms. We don’t need to explain what a CRM system is, for example, because these individuals will already be using - or at least be aware of - these abbreviations and terms.
- They’re at least somewhat tech-savvy. Or, they are interested in developing their knowledge in this area, and are relying on our content to point them in the right direction and help them define the tools and processes that will help them grow their business.
Pivot as Needed
One of the most important aspects of a voice and tone document is that it's not set in stone. Just as your business grows and changes, so too should the supporting documentation that keeps the wheels of your marketing machine on-brand behind-the-scenes. We recommend revisiting this document at least once annually (ideally during your year-end marketing review), but feel free to update as-needed.
Want some help crafting a killer voice + tone document for your brand? Drop us a line and let us know how we can help; we're always looking for exciting new brands to work with. In the meantime get to know us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or on LinkedIn - we can't wait to meet you.
- by Alyson Shane
First impressions matter.
This is especially true when it comes to email subject lines. A well-written subject line will inspire your readers to not just open your email newsletter, but also to click through and read more.
However, if your emails are lacklustre then all they'll convey to your readers is that your content isn't worth their time. That sucks - not just for you, but for your reader!
So today let's stop the spread of bad email subject lines, and turn those so-so subject lines into subject lines with pizzaz (aka: earn high drive Open Rates and drive those click-throughs that are an integral part of our inbound marketing strategy.)
Let's dive right in:
Why Do Subject Lines Matter?
To understand why subject lines are so important, think about how you feel when you receive an email: what's the first thing you see?
The subject line; and whatever that subject line says determines how excited you are to open the email, right? Right - and this applies to everyone else out there, too: it's often the determining factor in whether or not a reader is excited to open your email.
In fact, Convince & Convert concluded that 35% of marketing emails are opened based on the subject line alone. This means that your subject lines are your first (and best) tactic to get readers to engage with your content.
What Makes a "Good" Email Subject Line Good?
When it comes to creating email subject lines that drive action it's imperative that we tap into a few areas that resonate with our readers. Those include:
Stating the Benefit
How will your reader benefit from opening your email? Are you offering them a great deal; providing them with info that will move their business forward; or teaching them something new?
By telling your readers what they can expect inside your email you can encourage them to open it right away. Some examples of headlines that state the benefit of the email include:
- Become a better public speaker (benefit: becoming a stronger public speaker.)
- PowerPoint hacks for your next presentation (benefit: PPT tips.)
- Reduce meeting length with this simple trick (benefit: make meetings shorter.)
Think of your subject like an article headline: would you click on an article with your email subject line? If not, it may be because your subject line isn't emotional enough.
When we say "get emotional" we don't mean throw a tantrum like Kim K's kid at fashion week. We mean using words that appeal to a reader's emotions and which incentivize them to take action based on how they feel. These can include:
- Happiness. Use your subject lines to make people feel happy, or joyous about something.
- Curiosity. Pique readers' curiosity with an enticing email subject line.
- Urgency. What can you say that will make your reader want to take action right now?
- Excitement. How can you make your readers feel excited to read your email?
This may sound all well and good, but what are some rhetorical tactics you can use to actually convey those emotions in your subject line? Let's look at a few ways:
Subject Lines That Inspire: Excitement
Nobody wants to open a boring email, and if your subject doesn't let your readers know that something exciting is inside then your email might find it's way straight to the Trash bin. Get your readers excited to discover what's inside by using these tactics:
- Use action verbs. Think back to your English class and tap into those action words! We love ThriveHive's list of powerful words for powerful email subject lines.
- Make your emails sound exclusive. Copy like "can you keep a secret" and "just for you" will make readers feel like they have the inside scoop by opening your email.
- Use powerful statistics. Use accurate but interesting or surprising statistics like "marketers who use this tactic see a 72% increase in conversions" to make readers feel excited about what's inside your email.
Subject Lines That Inspire: Curiosity
Don't over-explain in your subject line! The best subject lines are ones which leave a little to the imagination and leave readers wondering what's next. Use some of these examples to create your own:
- Start with the end. Use subject lines that ask a question, like: "how did this marketer wow CEOs at their company?"
- Start with an open-ended question. Subject lines like "what's new with us..." are perfect openers to inspire curiosity because they can only be answered by opening your email.
- Use cliffhangers. Start your subject lines with sentences that don't tell the whole story, like: "Matt used these 6 steps to increase his email open rates..."
Subject Lines That Inspire: Urgency
Urgency inspires them to take the action you want them to take right now, and is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book. Some examples of how to use urgency in your subject lines include:
- Giving your reader a deadline. Using countdowns ("only 3 days left!") and copy that implies a limited time offer ("before time runs out," "before it's too late." etc.)
- Tap into your reader's FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a big driver, so use your subject lines to imply that they'll miss out on something amazing if they don't take action.
Subject Lines That Inspire: Happiness
Making your readers feel happy or joyful is one of the best ways to make your emails memorable and to inspire them to take the action you want. By making your readers feel good you're helping them associate those feelings with your brand, which can yield real long-term ROI.
Some ways you can craft your subject lines to inspire happiness include:
- Use humour. Making people laugh is one of the easiest ways to make them feel happy, so get creative with those opening lines!
- Don't be afraid of emojis. Many businesses avoid emojis because they worry they look "unprofessional" but they can make a big difference in earning those Email Opens.
The key to writing successful email subject lines is to write with intentionality. Determine what your email is about before you write it, which will save you time trying to determine the kind of emotion you want to evoke in your reader.
Examples of Great Subject Lines
We've put together a collection of some of our favourite email subject line collections so you can see what a killer subject line looks like. Take a look:
- 40 Great Email Subject Lines (via ThriveHive)
- 13 Insanely Clickable Email Subject Line Examples (via Sumo)
- 164 Best Email Subject Lines to Boost Your Email Open Rates (via OptinMonster)
- 16 Email Subject Lines You'll Probably Want to Click (via HubSpot)
Love what you've just read? Give us a follow on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram and sign up for our newsletter for the latest actionable digital marketing insights. If you need some hands-on help with your digital marketing strategy feel free to drop us a line, we're happy to help.
- by Alyson Shane
One of the critical components involved in understanding how your marketing efforts are translating into real-world actions is connecting your website with your marketing campaigns.
When you understand how the actions you're taking online: organic social media engagement, sharing blog content, hosting events and webinars, and running targeted paid advertising campaigns all connect to actions visitors take (or should be taking) on your website, you can begin to understand how and why (or why not) your efforts are yielding the results you need to grow your business.
This blog post will cover some of the key marketing metrics for planning and increasing the Return on Investment (ROI) of your digital marketing efforts of through your website.
Let's get started, shall we?
1. Website Visitors
Understanding who is arriving at your website is almost as important as what they do when they get there. Take a glance at the following areas for a deeper understanding of who's visiting your website:
Analyzing the age, gender, language, and location and comparing your findings to your Buyer Profiles or Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) will let you know right away if your efforts are sending the right kinds of people to your website.
For example, if your ICP for your monthly men's shaving kits are men age 20 - 45 with who live in the Baltimore, MA area and make more than $45,000/yr, and your web traffic is comprised primarily of men age 18 - 24 who live in the Baltimore, MA area and make less than $30,000/yr, then you need to rethink your messaging and paid ad targeting.
Additionally, if the majority of your web traffic is coming from a different target location then you may need to re-think your targeting parameters and re-evaluate your hashtag strategy.
Devices, Tech + Interests
Understanding the tech your visitors are using to view your site plays an important role in how long they stay on your page. According to HubSpot, Google drives 95% of all paid search ad clicks on mobile, so make sure that if the majority of your visitors are looking at your website on their mobile devices that your site ie mobile-friendly and loads quickly.
If not, your Bounce Rate (people who leave your website after viewing only one page) may suffer as a result.
Interests can also be instrumental in understanding if you're targeting the right people with your marketing marketing material. For example, if your web traffic is the right age group but isn't converting, check to see if the "Interests" of the users visiting your website align with your products and services; if not, it's time to revisit your ICP and hone your messaging and targeting.
2. Site Content
Real talk: if the content on your website is lackluster then your visitors aren't going to stick around to see what else you have to say.
Page Metrics show you the Most Viewed Pages, Average Time Spent on each page, and the Least Viewed Pages. By paying attention to these data points over time you can see how deep visitors go (or don't go) into your website once they've arrived, and track to see what they do along the way.
Other metrics to track include:
- Session Duration
- Bounce Rate
- Exit Rate
- Exit Pages
Review the pages with the highest Bounce Rate and lowest Session Duration, as well as the Exit Rate and Exit Pages to understand why those pages are leading visitors to bounce away. Are they loading too slowly? Is the page layout confusing or broken? Is the copy lacking in valuable content?
By regularly assessing how these pages are performing and strengthening the weak spots on your website you can test and fix them on an ongoing basis to keep your visitors engaged and active on your site.
How are people finding your website? Once you understand where your web traffic is coming from you can develop campaigns and strategies to capitalize on those traffic sources. Some key areas to monitor include:
- Channels. Show you the sessions brought by social media, search, email, and more.
- Source/Medium. Similar to the above, but is specific to the service or website.
- Referrals. Where your website was referred from somewhere else online.
If you're running several paid campaigns across multiple digital channels, compare these findings against your campaigns in order to determine where to focus the majority of your digital marketing advertising budget.
With all these metrics to track it may seem like we're getting away from matters: website conversions, but that's not the case.
In fact, by developing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy your business is more likely to convert website visitors into customers, and the best way to track your efforts is to set up Conversion Goals.
Conversion Goals are exactly what they sound like: they're the final action you want to visitor to take after arriving on a specific page on your website. Conversion goals can include:
- Subscribing to your newsletter
- Registering for an event or webinar
- Filling out a contact form
- Making a purchase/completing checkout
By attributing a value to each of these conversions (transaction, future lead, etc.) you can determine the "end goal" of your website and track how visitors are responding to your efforts. As you continue to track, test, hone, and continually work on optimizing your website to convert you'll begin to see increases in your goal conversions.
By continually honing your website and tracking key metrics you'll soon have a well-developed understanding of how, where, and why your website visitors are finding your business, and the steps you can take to convert them once they arrive on your site.
The first step in this process is a thorough website content and digital marketing assessment. If you're not sure how to perform one for yourself, get in touch and let our team of digital marketing experts help your brand sing.
- by Alyson Shane
In our last post we talked about how to choose the right Facebook Custom Audiences for your business' targeted advertising campaigns, and now we're back with an even better, more hands-on set of steps to help stretch your advertising dollars further and increase conversions:
Facebook Lookalike Audiences
What Are Facebook Lookalike Audiences?
Facebook Lookalike Audiences are exactly what they sound like: they're audiences created from the profile data you've previously uploaded when creating your Custom Audiences.
This option is a huge boon for marketers and business owners alike, as it allows you to take a relatively small sample size (say, 10,000 of your customers) and create a Lookalike Audience of hundreds of thousands of people.
Facebook will use the profile data from these audiences to create a new list of Facebook users who share similar demographics and interests. This is a super-reliable way to optimize your campaign targeting and make sure that you're not just re-targeting the same people from previous campaigns.
Before we get started, you'll need to have the following prepared and in-hand:
- Access to your customer lists (emails or phone numbers), usually pulled from a system like MailChimp, or Shopify for our e-commerce friends.
- Facebook Conversion Pixels set up on the pages you want to track results for.
- The visual assets, headline and ad copy that you want to test*.
* We recommend using at least 2-3 of each, which will allow you to test how different combinations of words and text perform with your audience.
Let's get started!
1. Open your Business Manager and click on the "Audiences" option under your Assets column.
2. Select 'Custom Lookalike Audience' from the drop-down "Create Audience" menu.
3. Select the Audience Size you'd like to target. We recommend creating two versions of the same custom audience: one at 1% and 3%, which will allow you to target users who most closely match your original Custom Audience, as well as a broader audience of users who may not be as close a "match" as the 1%.
4. Click "Create Audience" and wait while Facebook matches users and populates your new list.
5. Once this process is complete (it may take a few minutes) open up your Power Editor and begin setting up your Ads as you normally would. When setting up your targeting, just select your new Lookalike Audience from the drop-down menu:
... and that's it! Now you can take your visual and content assets and begin setting up your Facebook Ads like you normally would.
Using Lookalike Audiences to Increase Sales
Now that you've learned how to create your own Facebook Lookalike Audience, it's time to begin using it to drive conversions and increase sales... starting now!
Here are a few ways you can leverage the power of your audience:
Grow Your Facebook Page
One of the easiest ways to grow your Facebook Page is to target one of your Lookalike audiences. This allows you to save time and takes the guesswork out of targeting new users who may not have interacted with your page before.
Increase Sales for Your E-Commerce Store
If you run an e-commerce store you can set up Facebook Ads that deliver to your Lookalike Audience which sends them directly to your website to start buying. For example, if you have a women's wear section on your website you can create a Custom Audience of only women, then you can use Lookalike audiences to deliver ads to women who closely match interests or demographics of the women who have completed a purchase.
Increase Subscribers, Signups, and Get Leads
For B2B businesses like us here at Starling, we want to focus on increasing the number of actions which will allow us to connect with other businesses (lead gen). The easiest way to do this is to encourage people to take any of the following actions:
- Fill out a contact form
- Subscribe to our newsletter
- Sign up to receive a piece of gated content
This tactic is similar to what an e-commerce website would do: upload a Custom Audience, create the Lookalike Audience, and then send people directly to a landing page on your website specifically set up to encourage them to submit their information.
Now that you know how to set up and use Facebook Lookalike Audiences, it's time to start implementing them as a routine part of your Facebook Ad strategy. If you still have questions, drop us a line or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram. We're always happy to chat.
- by Alyson Shane
Businesses are starting to wake up to the fact that, often, organic posting and engagement just isn't driving the traffic to their Facebook pages and Instagram profiles that it once did and are turning to Facebook Ads as a cost-effective way to get in front of hundreds or even thousands of new potential customers.
Here at Starling Social we've used Facebook Ads to help our clients increase webinar registration, generate new B2B leads, drive inbound website traffic, and more. We love it because Facebook allows us to dig deep and create Custom Audiences which help us retarget people who have previously engaged with our client's business in some way. This helps us keep their advertising budget low while achieving a high return on investment (ROI) for our efforts on their behalf.
If you're new to the world of Facebook Ads, or if you're still trying to wrap your head around which types of Custom Audiences you should choose for your next Facebook Ad Campaign, then you've come to the right place.
This post is a comprehensive overview on what Facebook Custom Audiences are, and the various types you can choose from to increase brand awareness and generate new leads for your business.
Ready? Let's get started!
What's a Facebook Custom Audience?
Facebook Custom Audience is just that: a custom audience you can create in your Facebook Ads Manager (or Power Editor) that you can target with your ads. One of the options available is o target people who have an existing relationship with your business - say, fans of your Page - and create a campaign which retargets this audience.
Facebook gives you six options to define the existing relationship between your ad audience and your business, which are:
- Customer File. Upload a customer file (eg: list of individuals who have purchased from your e-commerce store within the past 365 days) to match your customers with people on Facebook to create an audience from the matches.
- Website Traffic. Create a list of people who visited your website or took a specific action which corresponds to your Facebook Pixel.*
- App Activity. Creates a list of people who launches your game, app, or took specific actions based on the Facebook Pixel installed in your app.
- Offline Activity. Upload a list of people who have interacted with your business in-store to create a custom audience based on phone numbers or other offline channels.
- Engagement. Creates a list of people who have recently engaged with your content on Instagram or Facebook.
* A Facebook Pixel is a code you (or your developer) installs on your website or in your app to track conversions from Facebook Ads and collect data to do stuff like build the Custom Audiences we're discussing here.
Let's sink our teeth into the different Custom Audience types available, and how they differ from each other:
Customer File Audiences
Customer File Audiences are based on a list of existing contacts available to you, such as newsletter subscribers or customers who have purchased from your e-commerce site. Syncing your customer list can be done one of two ways:
- Manually uploading your audience in a .csv or .txt file.
- Syncing your email CRM to your Facebook Ad Account.
Important: you can't mix data types, so you'll need to upload separate files for emails vs. phone numbers, for example.
We recommend giving your Custom Audience a short, easy-to-identify name which describes the specific audience, such as "Email signups" or "Past Customers."
Website Traffic Custom Audiences
If your business doesn't have a large enough database of emails, phone numbers, or Facebook User IDs to create a Custom Audience based on the steps above, you can use Website Custom Audiences to retarget visitors who have already visited your website.
This is a big boon for many businesses who are in the process of building their newsletter lists, for example, because all you need to do is make sure your Facebook pixel is installed and wait for people to visit your website. When they do, Facebook will recognize the users and automatically add them to an Audience, ready to be retargeted.
App Activity Audiences
With the explosion of mobile app popularity and Facebook mobile ads, it's no surprise that this option is becoming a popular solution for many app-based businesses.
The option allows you to target people who have previously used your app but haven't come back to use it within the last month (for example), or, you can target people who have abandoned their carts (added an item to their cart but never completed the purchase.)
There are lots of ways to retarget app audiences (currently there are 14 actions/non-actions you can target), but the most popular options are:
- Achieved a certain level in your game.
- Completed a large purchase.
- Recently opened your app.
- Recently completed a purchase.
By targeted users who have (or haven't) completed a specific action you can tailor your retargeting ads with copy and visual content which compels them to come back, such as new levels, discounts, or ads featuring new items for purchase.
Offline Activity Audiences
The Offline Activity option allows you to build Custom Audiences based on one or multiple offline events, such as Add Payment Info, Add to Wishlist, etc.
When you choose "Offline Activity" as tour Custom Audience type in Ads Manager, you can add multiple filters to refine the audiences to your specific needs. You can select multiple offline events and filters such as People Interacted Offline, Add Payment Info, Initiate Checkout, and more from the drop-down menu to restrict your list.
If you want to get super-granular, you can refine your data even further using the Custom Value or Aggregated Value options, which allows you to add conditions or values which are specific to your business goals. For example, you can add "source equals to call" to track the number of calls your business has received.
Engagement Custom Audiences
The Engagement option is especially exciting because it means you can use your ads to retarget people who have already shown an interest in your business on social media, which increases the likelihood that they will convert by 70%, according to FetchProfits.
If you click on "Engagement", a window will appear which will prompt you to define an Engagement Audience based on six different engagement types. They are:
- Video. This will target users who have watched at least three seconds of your videos on your Facebook Page or Instagram business profile.
- Lead Forms. If you already use Lead ads, you can get in front of people who have opened or completed your lead form.
- Fullscreen Experience. This option relates to the Facebook Canvas Ad option, and will retarget users who have opened your Canvas collection ads.
- Facebook Page. This is our favorite because it allows you to retarget anyone who has interacted with or visited you Facebook Page.
- Instagram Business Profile. This is similar to the Facebook Page option, but retargets to people who have interacted with your Instagram business profile.
- Event. Event retargeting is the latest addition to the Facebook Engaged Audience family, and allows you to retarget people who have RSVP'd to an event on Facebook.*
* Events must originate from your business page. Facebook won't allow you to target people who have attended similar events, or events which weren't hosted from your page.
Bonus: Custom "Lookalike Audiences"
One of our favorite ways to leverage the power of Facebook Custom Audiences is to create custom lookalike audiences. These audiences are exactly what they sound like: audiences of hundreds or thousands of people who don't know about your brand yet, but are likely to become your customers.
Lookalike audiences can be created from:
- Email Lists
- Current or Past Customers
- Page Fans
- Website Custom Audiences
- App Activity
- Conversion or Standard Events
- Engagement (App, Video, etc)
Want to learn more about the incredible benefits of creating and using Facebook Custom Lookalike Audiences? Stay tuned for our next post! If you're still struggling with Facebook Ads and would like some help elevating your brand and reaching new customers for your business, drop us a line, we're happy to help.
- by Alyson Shane
Whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or an enterprise-level organization, determining who you’re talking to and how you want to talk to them is essential for long-term success, sales, and growth. However, even the most established businesses can have a hard time figuring out how their written content should sound, never mind being able to nail it down perfectly every time.
How can you avoid this problem?
It’s simple: develop a Voice and Tone Guide for your brand. These documents should be foundational for your marketing department and social media managers, as they set the standards by which your copy and content should read, sound, and feel.
However, trying to determine all of these attributes can be a challenge, especially if you’re a busy business owner who doesn't know where to start. Today, we’ll explore some of the foundational elements of Voice + Tone Guides, why they matter, and how to build your own:
Finding Your Voice
The ‘Voice’ of your business refers to who you are throughout all of your written content.
As a business, your job is to sell yourself, literally. You’re selling your perspectives, your beliefs, and your passions, just as much as you’re selling your products and services. In fact, 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders, which means there’s a huge opportunity for businesses who spend the time to cultivate their brand’s voice and messaging.
Consistency is key when you’re cultivating your voice online, and a well-developed voice and tone guide will act as your go-to material when you’re in need of a refresher of your business’ cadence.
Who you are and the way you talk demonstrates your brand’s personality, which shouldn’t change day to day, in the same way that your own personal voice and personality doesn’t go through drastic changes when you wake up each morning.
‘Voice’ refers to who you are when we are speaking as your brand. Some example attributes include:
- Making decisions using well-researched data and statistics.
- An inclusive, positive, and supportive place to work.
- Forward-thinking, cutting edge.
- Tech-focused and lean.
… you get the picture. These qualities will vary depending on your brand, what you do, and the qualities you want to showcase in your content marketing copy.
Mastering Your Tone
Your ‘Tone’, on the other hand, is how you convey your Voice throughout your copy. This varies depending on your audience and each unique situation or piece of content you’re creating, and should sound different when writing for consumers (B2C) and for other businesses (B2B).
“Tone” allows you to share convey knowledge, industry insight, “value adds” of your products and services by relying on the characteristics outlined in your Voice document. Your Tone allows your brand to align your business with the needs of your ideal customer as they read your content.
Important: Your tone may differ as you’re sharing exciting news or speaking out on an issue the world is currently facing.
Examples of Tone include:
- Using words like “our friends” when referring to local companies.
- Conversational and personal; the content we share should always feel as though it’s coming directly from one of the founders.
- Sharing blog content which is reflective and personal and shows deep thought + insight into industry trends.
A solid Voice and Tone Guide also allows you to save time both when developing content internally, and as you work with outside freelancers and agencies, as well. Without a guide as to how they should be developing content for your business, freelancers are left to try and piece these elements together based on your existing copy to try and get a hold of your voice and tone.
As a result, this can lead to lackluster first drafts that don’t match your brand, which can create bottlenecks in the content creation and distribution process. By spending the time to develop easy to understand guide, your employees and contractors not only gain an understanding of your voice and tone, but of your audience and how to speak to their needs, as well.
Help Your Business Thrive With a Personalized Voice + Tone Guide
The key to nailing voice and tone for any business is staying consistently authentic. In the same way that people’s perceptions of you vary depending on the voice and tone you use as you speak out loud, the perception a reader has of your brand changes drastically based on the voice and tone you use in written content.
Having a Voice and Tone Guide helps you steer your content in the right direction right from the get-go. A well-developed guide allows you and your team to reference back to the foundation of your voice and tone, and modify based on the audience, platform, and type of content.
Think of your business’s voice and tone as it’s personality: do you think of your business as funny and casual, or professional and formal? What are the unique perspectives your brand can offer? What kind of impression do you want to make with people who engage with your content?
Additionally, think about the people who will be engaging with different kinds of content. For example, the CEO of a major organization won’t have the time to read a ton of in-depth copy about the benefits of your service, but a mid-level manager may have more time to sink their teeth into a PDF, case study, or white paper.
Conversely, if you’re a B2C business you’ll want to write different kinds of copy for different customers on different social platforms which takes age, household income, personal spending habits, and other key contributing factors into consideration. For instance, a Millennial with no kids who is entering the workforce out of university will respond to a different tone and calls-to-action (CTAs) than a Boomer single dad raising two kids on his own who had worked in the same office for several years.
What to Include In Your Voice + Tone Guide: a How-To
We've been working with Skaled, a tech and process-based sales consulting firm in New York City which helps organizations use the latest sales tech, tools, and processes scale to their highest potential, to deliver social and blog copy which is on-brand, capture their unique voices and perspectives, and highlights their position as ‘Thought Leaders’ within the modern sales landscape.
The team at Skaled knew that they wanted to be both professional and knowledgeable, but didn’t want to blend in with the status-quo of stuffy B2B business content that’s already available. Instead, they were in search of content that showcased that they were knowledgeable and cutting edge while being personable and easy to work with.
As we worked with their executive team to develop their Voice + Tone Guide, we identified key areas which needed to be included in order to create a useful, effective, and comprehensive guide that both teams can use and reference.
Some of the key components we developed included:
- A clear definition of their ideal ‘Voice’, including necessary attributes such as who they are, and how they want to position their business.
- A ‘Tone’ section which breaks down the necessary attributes outlined in the ‘Voice’ section in greater detail. Existing marketing materials, pitch decks, and other internal content is especially helpful here.
- A description of their ideal tone and listed attributes including everything from the importance of keywords to the type of positioning statement necessary at the start of long-form content.
- Examples of previous written content which aligns with the intended voice and tone.
- ‘Personas’ for various individuals for use when writing from multiple perspectives (this is especially helpful with blog content.) These should include areas of education, professional expertise, and personal qualities to highlight in “their” copy.
- The perspective of the company and a detailed outline of their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and Buyer Personas.
- A comprehensive list of industry terms and keywords that relate to your business to demonstrate that their company is operating at the “same level” as their B2B customers.
Not only has developing this document helped eliminate bottlenecks with content creation, approval, and distribution, but we've we've been able to ensure a high level of consistency across all of Skaled's social platforms, blog content, as well as newsletter and Gated Content material.
Having a dedicated document outlining your unique business's Voice and Tone, allows you and your creative team to dive deeper into your own brand, discovering key elements which may have gotten lost in the chaos of developing and running a business.
At Starling Social, we’re dedicated to sharing company stories through engaging copy and content. Have you sat down to develop your brand’s own voice + tone lately? We’d love to hear your strategy or tips, so make sure to tweet at us at @starling_social.
Want more insight and tools to help your brand stand out online? Download our free ebook Get Social! Content Marketing for You & Your Brand today.
- by Alyson Shane
You're a smart, savvy business owner who knows that social media marketing is a critical aspect of promoting your business, reaching your target audience, and connecting with your customers.
However, without the proper tools to manage, track, and hone your social media activities managing your profiles can feel overwhelming, frustrating, and downright confusing.
Why? Because not all social media marketing tools are created equal.
The right social media management tools will streamline your processes, help you stay organized, and keep you on track, but it can feel confusing and overwhelming when you're trying to figure out which ones to use.
Here at Starling Social we use a variety of tools to manage our client's activities, and today we want to share some of our favourite tools to take you from social media novice to pro in no time.
Managing Social Media Content
Buffer is our go-to scheduling app for social media content across multiple platforms. Paid users have access to a calendar view which is incredibly useful for plotting out what we want to share and when, as well as comparing when we shared previous pieces of content.
"Buffering" your posts will allow the app to publish your content at a time that Buffer's analytics engine deems appropriate based on when it believes your content will earn the most clicks and shares.
However we don't recommend relying solely on this feature - tracking your engagement levels is the best way to determine when to post.
Hootsuite is another social media scheduling app, but with an important feature: Hootsuite allows you to view "streams" of each social network you manage in order to stay on top of the action. This can be especially useful for checking Twitter Lists, and for staying on top of comments, @ mentions, shares, and direct messages.
We keep Hootsuite open in a tab all day long and use it to track engagement as it happens in real-time across all of our client's social networks.
We'll admit: we're not wild about using Hootsuite for scheduling content (we prefer Buffer's user interface and range of scheduling options) but ultimately it's up to you which tool you prefer.
Meet Edgar, your new content BFF: this adorable little octopus is actually a super-powerful app which allows you to create content "libraries" that you can re-use again and again. Once you've added some content to your library (eg: "My Blog Posts") you can select a social network to post to and schedule it to post as many times a week as you'd like/ This means you can schedule weekly, recurring content across multiple social networks without having to worry about re-scheduling it every time it gets shared out - major time saver!
Not just that, but Edgar will analyze your content to determine which posts in your library have earned the lowest levels of recent engagement and will re-share that content in order to help it get seen by more people. So, if you have a 6 month old blog post that hasn't been seen in a while you can count on Edgar to make sure your followers see it again.
If This, Then That (IFTTT) is a powerful app which connects multiple apps for you. IFTTT can do things like automatically push out a new blog post to your social feeds when you hit 'Publish' on your website; automatically send out reminders each week; and so much more - the 'recipe' possibilities are basically endless.
Re-sharing content on Instagram is a hassle no matter how you slice it, but RePost allows you to re-share Instagram content without having to take a screen shot, crop the image manually, and re-create a post within the app.
This is an invaluable tool for anyone who regularly re-shares content on Instagram, so make sure to add it to your list of "must have" mobile apps.
Searching for new hashtags on Instagram can be a hassle and a challenge if you don't know what to look for, or aren't regularly doing research into the most popular tags being used.
Tagsforlikes is a tool which generates popular tags for you to include in your content based on various topics and themes, though we recommend saving these in a separate document to reference later if you plan on using them more than once.
Help Your Content Stand Out
7. Emoji App
This one probably feels obvious, but using emojis in your social media marketing is an easy way to create additional visual interest and help your content feel more fun and engaging.
Plus: it's free!
Nothing clutters up a sharp-looking social media post like long URLs, and bit.ly is a great tool for shortening links that would otherwise take up your entire character count.
Not just that, but bit.ly users can also track click-through and engagement rates on their shortened links, which can be incredibly useful for tracking user engagement. We like to set up multiple landing pages with custom bit.ly links in order to see which ones are performing the best on our client's social feeds.
Trello is our favourite project management tool, especially when multiple parties are involved with creating, editing, reviewing, or managing a project. Trello allows you to create columns with 'Cards' for each task that you can use to create checklists, attach images, files, and links, assign actions to specific users, and more.
Find Killer Content to Share
BuzzSumo allows you to search the most popular content being shared most often across all social networks relating to specific keywords, find influencers in your industry, and find content to share on your social networks in order to engage with your target audience.
Even better: you can set up alerts to receive notifications if content mentioning your identified keywords gets published.
Alltop is another content aggregator website which allows you to search through multiple headlines from across the web.
We like it because it will organize content topics into groups based on where they were published (e.g.: Forbes, Business Insider, TechCrunch, etc) which saves tons of time and research.
For those of you that still use RSS readers, this tool is for you: Feed.ly is basically an RSS feeder which allows you to follow content from any websites or blogs that you follow.
You can organize your content, read saved content again, search for new and interesting content topics and sources, and more.
Scoop.it is a content marketing tool which allows you to set up content objectives, build content calendars for your social media profiles, blog and newsletter (read more about creating eye-catching newsletter content here).
Scoop.it scrapes the internet for content every day and will deliver customized content relevant to your niche to you every day, providing you with an easily accessible list of fresh content to read and share.
Creating Visual Assets
Canva is our favourite tool for creating beautiful and eye-catching designs in a heartbeat.
Not only does Canva come pre-loaded with trendy and varied layout templates, backgrounds, graphics, and stock images, but you can create images sized perfectly for your blog, social networks, newsletter, and more.
Free stock images are a must-have for creating social media graphics, and while there are a variety of websites and options available, Stocksnap's extensive, searchable library makes it our go-to whenever we need some sharp stock images.
Need to create animated videos in a pinch? Use GoAnimate to customize backgrounds, characters, and scenes easily in order to promote your product or service.
They offer a 14-day trial with a variety of pricing options depending on your needs, an extensive library of content, and offers a hands-on, DIY approach to creating fun and interesting animated videos.
4x as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it, which means if you aren't leveraging video as part of your social media arsenal you're missing out.
Vidyard allows you to create short, professional-looking videos without all of the equipment and setup traditionally associated with video productions.
Managing Your Information
Tired of logging in and out of your accounts all the time? Struggle to remember your passwords for all your social media accounts? Use 1Password to keep track of your passwords so you don't have to.
Other options include: LastPass,
When was the last time you backed up your data? If you've ever experienced the stress and anxiety that comes with a hard drive crash then you know how important it is to keep backups of all of your information, whether it's work-related or not.
We recommend using Backblaze, which is cheap like borsht, which automatically backs up all of your data and will store it safely in case of an emergency.
21. Google Drive
There's nothing worse than not being able to access your information wherever you go. Instead of relying on emails or thumb drives (which are being phased out anyway), start storing your information in Google Drive, which is free if you have a Gmail account. Google Drive keeps your files synced, stored, and easily accessible no matter where you are.
Other options: Dropbox
You don't have to be a sales rep to benefit from using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool for your business. Keeping track of who you meet, where you met them, and your relationships not only helps you track where your leads come from, but you can use Insightly to track your sales funnel and identify where your bottlenecks are in your sales process.
One of the best ways to figure out how to optimize your processes is to track your time, and we depend heavily on Toggl to help us track how much time we're spending doing different tasks.
For example, if we look at our week at-a-glance we can see how many hours we spent doing specific tasks for each client, and can use that information to find ways to improve our processes.
Do you use any of these tools? Did you learn about a new tool today? Tweet at us and let us know!
Want more insight and tools to help your brand stand out online? Download our free ebook Get Social! Content Marketing for You & Your Brand now.