Category Archives: weekly reading

Every week, we put together interesting links and resources you should read. Catch up on all of them here!

Monthly Marketing Mash-up: Retail, Infographics, and B2B

Since we aren’t doing a weekly marketing links round-up anymore, I’m going to try and put together interesting marketing stuff I find once in a while (as you can see from the title, I’m shooting for once a month).

So here goes.

I found this article about retailers tracking shoppers through their cellphones a little scary. Maybe it’s time to switch off your phone when you go shopping!

I have been reading up about infographics lately (even though you know I don’t like them) and liked this post on Marketing Land about what makes a great infographic. Especially Mike Volpe’s comment:

Great infographics have high information density. Unfortunately, most infographics these days are really just charts, but with more drawing on them. The best infographics convey a lot of information in a lot less space than it would take to write about the topic or have regular graphs of the data.

I loved this B2B Marketing Manifesto e-book, especially page 30:

Get a World View.

Before you can sell a product or service, you need to sell a world view…
Your world view is a compelling interpretation of the challenges and opportunities that your buyers face. It describes their past, present and future in a way that leads inevitably to your solution.
Your world view is the environment in which your marketing lives.
Everything you do and say must be consistent with it.
Your world view has to be built on reality. It’s a story that makes sense.

And while on B2B marketing, this article points out a disconnect between what buyers and marketers think sales should be doing.

Monday Marketing Mashup: All About Google Hummingbird and SEO

Are you still wondering why everyone is talking about Hummingbird suddenly? Read on and these links will answer all your questions.

What is Hummingbird?

Google Hummingbird and SEOHummingbird is the name of Google’s new search algorithm. Google claims it will provide better search results. Hummingbird is one of the biggest updates ever to how Google interprets user’s search queries and how it evaluates indexed webpages for a better match. Search Engine Land has a nice FAQ post that will give you more details. If you prefer a more visual approach, try this infographic.

Why is this important?

Wired has a good explanation on the impact and importance of Hummingbird, and to give you a glimpse:

“The biggest improvements involve longer search queries. Rather than just examining each individual word in a search, Google is now examining the searcher’s query as a whole and processing the meaning behind it.”

What will be the impact of Hummingbird on my site’s SEO?

Exact details are yet unclear and Google likes to keep people guessing when it comes to search algorithams. But Don Dodds has given a good summary of what is known as of now.

“Site owners that rely on the provision of high-quality content, that steer clear of black hat techniques, and that look to build multiple traffic streams using a universal marketing approach are those that will enjoy better long term results.”

Not much has really changed if you are a small business and are relying on good content, social referrals and customer feedback. HubSpot summarizes important factors nicely in their post.

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Monday Marketing Mashup: Video Marketing Ideas and Tools

Video marketing Everyone seems to be talking about video marketing these days. And the rise of apps like Vine and Instagram video means that very short videos are back in the marketing mix.

Do you want to use videos to market your business but think it’s too difficult or are short on ideas? Well, here are some useful resources to help you get started.

If you are not sure if videos are the right tool for you or wondering what kind of videos to create, start with this recent post by SpinSucks:

“More and more companies are producing PR and marketing videos, and thanks to the web and social media, they have become easily shared pieces of content.”

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Social Media Profile Cover Photos

Managing your brand’s presence on so many different social channels can be a pain, and one of the annoying aspects of it is getting the right cover photos for each one. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ — all have different guidelines for what the cover photo size should be.

Here is a list of official and unofficial references that will give you cover and profile picture specification for all social networks:

1. Facebook

The cover photo of your Facebook page is very important: not only is it featured on your page, it is also prominently displayed in the user’s newsfeed when your page is recommended (paid or otherwise) by Facebook. Facebook’s official guidelines give very little detail but this page covers all you need to know.

Faceboook Cover Photo Guidelines

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Google Won’t Show Search Terms

It’s bad news.

The day many SEO professionals hoped would never come, but feared eventually would, apparently has arrived today. It appears that Google has cut off keyword data altogether.

Nearly two years after making one of the biggest changes to secure search that resulted in a steady rise in “(not provided)” data, Google has switched all searches over to encrypted searches using HTTPS. This means no more keyword data will be passed to site owners.

 What does this mean? Search Engine Land explains:

When searches are encrypted, search terms that are normally passed along to publishers after someone clicks on their links at Google get withheld. In Google Analytics, the actual term is replaced with a “Not Provided” notation.

Why does this matter? Search terms are a great measure of user intent, and we won’t have that anymore. We’ll still see how many visits we’re getting through Google search, but not what those visitors were searching for. So it’s going to be difficult, to put it mildly, to optimize your pages for search if you don’t know what terms you’re ranking for. We’ll all be left shooting in the dark.

So what do we do? Ruud Hein explains five ways to get around this, including keyword data from other search engines and using Google Webmaster Tools.

Edited to add this excellent post that went up after I published this: Neil Patel explains how this move by Google might actually make you a better marketer. He also provides some great tips for managing the change.

Ultimately, none of these other tools will make up for the visibility we’re losing with this change, but we’ve got to work with what we have. The silver lining I see is maybe we’ll stop obsessing over keyword rankings and search results and algorithm changes and focus instead on delivering the best content for our audience.

Monday Marketing Mash-up: Productivity and Tools

To-do list on memo padLet’s talk about productivity! Raise your hand if you think you work at a terrific pace and rarely waste time being unproductive or procrastinating. What, no one? I’m shocked.

Check out Nilesh’s post about seven free tools he’s used that might help you improve your productivity.

It’s easy to see which of us is more tech-savvy. My recent post about productivity on the Spin Sucks blog described how I use my favorite productivity tool: paper.

That’s right: I have ten notebooks, each with a designated use. Don’t believe me? Check out the post: I have details and a picture.

This is a really interesting list of apps and plug-ins you can use to counter procrastination. I’ve started using Strict Workflow myself to keep me on track.

I also use Rescue Time to check up on my productivity (since Bhaskar recommended it),  and of course, email (I write myself notes on things I need to remember) and Google Calendar. I have also found Streak useful to keep track of emails I need to follow up on. I’ve used Remember the Milk and Trello as well, but with less success.

And if you’re feeling stressed out about your productivity levels, Amber Naslund’s post might help you gain perspective.

There is no magic system. Stop looking for it.

So let’s get to work now, you and me both.

Monday Marketing Mash-up: Forget Automation and Algorithms; Focus on People

If you have spent much time on the internet lately, especially on social media, you’re aware that the noise is increasing. It’s more and more difficult to find relevant messages because of all the content that is created. (And I know, we’re part of the problem.)

Rich Becker muses over where automation will take social media:

The platform shift from conversation to broadcast is a symptom of what marketers measure.

They measure actions (tweets, retweets, link clicks), which discourages dialogue. It discourages it because conversations are not valued on the action scale. It discourages it because the more organic conversations take place, the more marketers have to drown them out with frequency. And it discourages it because scalable actions require automation, which means the marketer isn’t participating.

Also:

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Learning from Business Failures

Failure’s been on my mind lately. It started a while back, with this startup founder writing about the inevitable end of the business.

And of course, last week I wrote about another startup failure, inspired by the TechCrunch article reporting it.

So today I share some more stories of failure with you, hoping we can avoid their mistakes and their fate. The next three links are from this Business Insider article.

This entrepreneur started his business of selling condom key chains: he failed, but it’s a great story.

This blog post has some interesting insights, including this:

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Link-Building Tips

What’s link-building? It’s the term used in SEO for getting good links to your site, so that your search visibility goes up.

But is link-building a good term to use?  

Earning links is about creating things that people want to link to, so rather than asking people for a link, you’re just placing excellent quality content in front of influencers, and letting them do the rest.

I especially like this part of the post, since so many people ignore offline activities as a factor in online marketing:

Think offline. Sometimes online marketing has to start offline. Just think about how many websites must review, write about, and link to events and news. Well marketers, it’s time to create that news, and plan those events. Get out there and get involved with your target market, create a flash mob, launch a publicity stunt, and do what it takes to make people talk about your brand. What happens online is often reactive to what happens offline, so maybe it’s even more effective to be the creator, not the commentator.

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Listening and Responding

Much of the marketing advice you read will be about conversations you should initiate: by writing blog posts, tweeting, or emailing. But what online marketing allows you do most effectively is listen, and you’re not doing your marketing any favors if you don’t take the time to do that.

As Tea Silvestre says:

There’s a LOT of marketing advice out there about how to reach more people. Get more fans. Build your list. And just plain dominate the world with your empire.

But there’s another way to grow your business, and it doesn’t require you to talk to anyone new.

And:

Are you having enough two-way conversations with the folks who are standing right in front of you?

Read the post to learn how you can listen better.

But why should you listen?

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Get More Conversions

Likes and retweets are all very well, but what you really want is conversions: someone signing up to your newsletter, filling up your lead form, or buying your product. This week, let’s work on improving conversions.

First, are you tracking conversions on your website? You can do this easily by setting up goals in Google Analytics.

Neil Patel offers copywriting tips that will increase your conversions. The first few are great copywriting tips for any piece of writing: focus on benefits (i.e., the reader, not you), format your text, use images, and so on. But there are some less obvious tips in there too.

The Leaky Bathtub offers an easy way to get your prospects to take action: treat them like dogs. What does this mean? Tell your prospects what you want them to do, not what you want them to not do.

Search Engine Land explains how to optimize all your pages, not just your “landing pages.”

The Visual Website Optimizer blog explains five conversion best practices.

Now let’s get to work! Use some of these tips to improve your website’s conversions and get more money pouring in.

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Improve Your “About Us” Page

How many views does your About Us page get?

For us, it’s in the top ten, if you include blog pages. If you don’t, it’s consistently in the top two, with the home page. That’s a pretty important page. And most businesses spend a lot of time and effort getting the home page right and don’t bother to optimize the About Us page.

When was the last time you updated your About Us page?

I rewrote our About Us page last week, to make it more user-centric and less self-indulgent. What we had earlier told our story: who the team is, how we built Markitty. But why should you care about that?

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Facebook Changes You Should Know About

Photo comments, embedded posts, more text in your page’s cover photo… there’s so much you can do with the recent changes Facebook made.

Use photo comments to increase fans’ engagement with your page and to crowdsource contentFacebook introduced photo comments: Ask your fans to submit pictures!

Facebook introduced photo comments, first for people and now for pages. You can now add a photo to your comment just like you can add one to your status. This is a great opportunity for businesses: you can ask your fans to submit photos through Facebook comments! For example, you can ask them to submit pictures of them of using your products or eating at your restaurant, and say you’ll use the best photo as your cover for a week.

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Entrepreneurs’ Stories

I wrote this about my entrepreneurial journey, especially how we got started. I titled it somewhat provocatively, but the point is that I needed to reduce the distractions in my life to think clearly, to figure out what I really wanted to do.

The TV had filled our lives with noise. In the silence, we could hear our thoughts, our dreams.

Towards the end, I offer more tips on reducing distractions and improving your focus, something I struggle with every day. This post was also picked up by women 2.0.

I like reading stories and learnings of other entrepreneurs for motivation: it makes me feel less alone, it gives me hope that we’ll make it too.

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Learning SEO

I recently got a question about how to learn SEO, and thought that is a great topic for a weekly round-up! Here are some of my favorite blogs and resources.

Moz (previously SEOmoz) is where I go to most often when I need an answer. They have great explanatory guides on anything from title tags to canonicalization. Their blog also has in-depth articles on a range of SEO topics, including this recent one on redirects and their effect on your website.

And if you’re new to SEO, their beginners’ guide might be a good place to start.

The KISSmetrics blog is another great source of SEO and analytics advice. The blog posts are usually easy to understand for us non-tech people, and have a lot of advice you can try out. I like this recent post about being penalized by Google, or just go to the SEO category and start reading.

Another old go-to for SEO news and advice is Search Engine Land. To start, check out the links on this page, or go here directly and dive in.

And don’t forget Google Analytics help pages.

Is there any favorite resource you turn to for SEO advice?

To see more of what we read, follow us on Twitter!

Monday Marketing Mash-up: Before You Start Your Business

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur or know someone who is? Read on for what you need to get in order before starting your business!

First, give yourself a reality check. #2 and #8 in that list look most important to me.

Here are some more things you should be careful about.

Next, get to work. I wrote on Women’s Web about 8 things to do before leaving your job to start your business.

Unlike what most people think, you shouldn’t wait to start marketing until you’re ready to launch. In fact, the earlier you start the better. I wrote on YourStory about marketing activities you need to start as soon as you start your business.

What do you wish you’d done earlier?

Monday Marketing Mash-up: Marketing Tips for Small and Local Businesses

Since last week was Small Business Week in the U.S., we’ve been tweeting about marketing for small businesses all week. Here are a few of the links that are useful all year-round.

On Small Business Trends, 5 reasons why signs work for your small business.

But if you’re thinking you only need signs, think again: Search Engine Journal explains why offline businesses need online marketing.

According to the BIA/Kelsey  report, 97% of consumers use online media before making local purchases.  Google Research  showed that 9 out of 10 internet searches resulted in a follow up action, such as calling or visiting the business. Mobile searches triggered an additional action or conversion 73% of the time; and 28% of mobile searches resulted in a store visit or purchase.

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: All You Need to Know for Business Blogging

I recently realized I’ve written a lot about blogging. Here are a few of my posts that might be useful to readers of this blog.

Why You Should Blog

This post compares blogging to other social media channels and tells you whether it’s right for you. Here’s what I think is most important:

Blog posts last better than most other social media posts: your older posts will continue to get you visits long after your tweets and Facebook posts have faded into oblivion.

Starting Your Blog

If you’re just starting out, this post explains six tips that I’ve found useful, including being regular and frequent, using relevant keywords, and improving usability on your blog.

Finding Blog Topics

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: Managing a Business While Parenting

Mother and daughterI’m not a parent, but I’m in awe of those of you who manage a business and are parents of young children. So this week, here are some tips from other parents who’ve been there.

Sahil Parikh inspired this list with his Productivity Hacks of a Startup Dad: tips that can be useful to all of us, even those who aren’t parents.

I love that building a routine doesn’t work for him (since I keep trying and failing at establishing a routine myself) and that he doesn’t follow general or world news (another practice I’ve been following for a couple of years that makes me feel ignorant but less stressed out). I don’t use email notifications either, though  I don’t follow any of the rest of his tips (I do want to follow the first one though, but again, routines seem to be beyond me).

On Women’s Web, Monalisa Saxena writes about managing her business while she was pregnant: a nice set of tips that would probably work for any scheduled downtime, whether a long vacation or maternity leave.

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Monday Marketing Mash-up: All About Pricing

Pricing’s something many of us struggle with, and is a really important part of marketing strategy. And it’s something I’ve been thinking about as we move closer to a paid plan for Markitty. So here are a few interesting posts that talk about how you should price your product.

Different kinds of greens in a market
Customers like options they can compare, even if they’re similar

Here’s why research or surveys usually don’t help you much:

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