building an seo strategy the right way

SEO or S-E-NO? Building an SEO Strategy That Works

Check your inbox. How many emails have you received in the last week telling you that your SEO is terrible and you’re missing out on opportunities? Odds are you’ll need more than two hands to count all those terrible SEO consultant emails.

But is that a reason to turn your back on SEO? Numerous articles always claim that SEO is dead, but is it really? Even though there are countless phonies and wannabe SEO experts out there, that’s no reason to think you won’t get value from leveraging an SEO strategy.

Think of SEO as the gift that keeps on giving. If you put together a sound strategy that leverages keywords and topics based around specific targets, and tie it all in to specific offers that drive revenue, then you’ll reap the rewards. But that’s easier said than done.

Most so-called “SEO experts” will use the Google Adwords tool, pull a list of relevant keywords, and tell you to create a single article for each keyword. But that kind of strategy is so 2009. SEO should be a foundational element of your greater marketing efforts. Meaning, when you build your content and social media plan, the content should be rooted in SEO. Same goes for your outbound email campaigns. You’ll want to build them out based on the existing content you have, your calendar, and what’s being searched by your audience.

I’m going to show you how to build an SEO strategy the Astronaut way. Yes, it’ll take you more time to put together, but it’s worth it if you care about results.

How to Build an SEO Strategy

It all starts by thinking like an astronaut — aim high. This means looking at your product or service with a 1000 foot view. Typically what you'll see bottom-feeder "SEO" consultants do is take your main product keyword and run Google Adwords keyword tool for that. For example, if you're an IT Service firm, then your consultant would run a search on "IT Services" and "IT solutions." However, they'll fail at considering several thousands of other relevant and amazing opportunities for revenue.

To get started on the right foot with your SEO Strategy you'll need to ask yourself a few questions:

What is it that you do? What are your features? Who are your competitors? What are the differences in your products/services and theirs? How do you describe your product/service? What pain points does your product/service resolve?

You’re building this strategy because you want it to be your golden goose, but it doesn’t just happen overnight. Use the words you use to describe your product/service and the benefits to build a spreadsheet and list out phrases and words that address each of those. This should take you at least an hour.

1. Use Google Adwords Tool the Right Way

After you’ve done this, then go ahead and load those into Google Adwords to get a rough idea of other related keywords. You should have at least 1000 relevant search terms. You’ll want to export that to an Excel file. If you hate spreadsheets, then you’re in for a world of hurt.

2. Competitor Keyword Research

Next, fire up a competitor keyword tracking tool (we like SEM Rush). Use SEM Rush to analyze the keywords of your top competitors. Also, take a look at complimentary products and services. If you’re an IT service firm, then also look at what keywords are being used from top IT software providers. The reason why: There will be significant overlap in terms of keywords that are used, and you’re both targeting very similar markets. When it comes to building an SEO strategy from scratch, you’ll want to make sure you have great coverage into areas that your target market are interested in.

3. Categorize and De-Dupe

After running SEM Rush on a few competitors and your initial Google Adwords list, you should have 10,000 or more keywords in your spreadsheet. It’s a lot I know. Now comes the very manual and frustrating part. You’re going to want to go through that entire list of keywords and start categorizing them by topic and stage of the funnel/buyer’s journey. Keep a key of your topics handy so you don’t double categorize or create multiple similar categories. Once you’ve made it through the entire list give yourself a high-five!

4. Pivot Table Your Way to Estimated Revenue

Now, you can go through and pivot each set of categories to get estimated traffic volume from each grouping. With this level of detail you can even see which categories create the most opportunities at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Pretty awesome right!

5. Asset and Content Optimization and Creation

But the fun doesn’t stop there. Once you have your categories and estimated search volumes, you’ll want to look at which categories have the highest volume of search and where they are in the customer lifecycle or buyer’s journey. You’ll want to create a downloadable asset for that category, and use all of the content you create for those keywords to drive traffic to that asset. What this does is create a focal point for your traffic to turn into leads.

Using the IT service firm example, I may determine that the most trafficked category is "IT Problems.” A great lead magnet for this may be something titled “99 Common IT Problems and How to Solve Them.” Then, for every blog post written under the category of “IT Problems” I would add links and content ads that drive visitors to the landing page for “99 Common IT Problems and How to Solve Them.” The result would be several leads at an early stage in the funnel where visitors are aware of the problems they’re experiencing.

From here, you’re going to replicate this across all of your categories. This is what I like to call Stage 1 of your SEO strategy. It will set up a good foundation for you to continue to build and learn from. You’ll need to continuously check your Webmaster tools and SEM Rush accounts to see what keywords you’re picking up traction with, and spot new opportunities for growth. If an SEO firm doesn't take this kind of approach with their keyword and content strategy, then RUN. They don't have a clue what they're doing.


building a social media presence

Be a Tiny Giant: How to Build Social Media Presence that Rivals Fortune 500 Businesses

You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 company to enjoy social media success. Building a social media presence for your small business is a great, free way to increase visibility and revenue.

Social media provides you with a channel to communicate with customers, offer support, build marketing programs, and more. Additionally, prospective clients, customers and hires will expect you to have a profile to view. Face it, if you aren’t on social media, then you may as well not exist.

Considering that professional networks are 2016’s top source for high quality hires, any business that wants to be taken seriously by potential clients and top talent needs to have an appealing, informative and responsive social media presence.

If one of these interested parties were to look for your company on social, today, what will they find? Will they find pictures of your employees and information on your company? Will they find your latest thought leadership posts? Will they find an incomplete profile or a profile that hasn’t been active in months?

Social Media Etiquette

Let’s start with etiquette. Social media gives you a platform to promote your company and your brand, but, you get out what you put in.

If your posts are relevant to your audience and your tone is friendly and in line with your brand, you’re observing good social media etiquette and are on your way to having a strong presence on social. But remember that there’s a fine line between acceptable and unacceptable.

If you’re posting content that your audience doesn’t care about, spamming potential clients with 20+ posts/day or chewing out the people who leave negative reviews, then you aren’t following good etiquette. That type of presence can damage or even kill your brand. We’ve all heard of brands having meltdowns on social media, and that’s not the type of attention that you want. 

That’s why you need to know the basics. By following these social media basics, you’ll be well on your way to building a social media presence that makes Fortune 500 companies jealous.

Social Media Basics

At bare minimum, your social presence needs to be a resource, not an eyesore or a spam machine. As long as each of your profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Etc.) follow these basic guidelines, your social profile will be a brand asset instead of a deterrent or waste of time. 

Appealing

  • Each of your company’s social media profiles needs to appeal to the audience that you’re trying to reach.
  • Tailor each channel to the target market you’re trying to reach.
  • Social profiles should be visually appealing and should appear professional.
  • Post appealing content: posting relevant, humorous, engaging content will strengthen your company’s social media profile. Additionally, posting infographics, videos or pictures of a company outing will make your company stand out and give your profile a human touch. 
  • Never post anything that your audience will find uninteresting, irrelevant or offensive.

Informative

  • Each of your company’s social media profiles needs to be an informational resource for potential clients, customers and/or hires.
  • Contact information, company information and product information should all be included on each of your company’s profiles.
  • Post informative content: articles and studies that promote your company as a thought leader in your industry.

Responsive

  • Whenever someone comments on your company’s social profile, you need to respond in a timely manner.
  • Your response needs to be in your “brand’s voice,” not the voice of an intern or some overly-formal robot.
  • Your responses should follow social etiquette, especially when addressing negative comments.
  • Be responsive: reply to the things that your customers, fans and critics say on social media in a positive, professional way that is in line with your brand’s voice. 

Getting the Most from Social

These are just the basics, but, in order to get the exposure that you want for your brand, you need to:

  • Know Your Audience
  • Develop Your Voice
  • Think Strategically

Know Your Audience

You can’t just push noise and expect results. In order generate visibiility, you need to understand your audience and why they’ve chosen to follow you online. Once you understand your core audience, you can begin to grow this audience by posting the sort of content that they want and respond to.

  • What sort of content to your subscribers expect from your company?
  • What sort of content do your subscribers interact with (like, share, retweet, etc.)?
  • How do your customers interact with your brand on a daily basis? How does your product enter into their lives?
  • What problem is your product or service solving? How can you provide information that people with this problem will find useful or engaging?

In order to build your company’s fanbase, you have to deliver the sort of content that they’re looking for.

Do your subscribers share “thought leadership” articles you post or do they tend to share special offerings by your company? Or maybe they only share pictures of puppies?

Once you figure out what your audience is interested and understand what they respond to, you can tailor your social media strategy to these likes.

Develop Your Voice

Social Media gives you an opportunity to develop “the voice” of your brand and company.

You still need to follow cocktail etiquette, but developing a voice means standing out from the crowd as a company with personality and showing some of the qualities that make your organization unique.

Just be sure that the voice you use online matches the rest of your company’s branded content and is appropriate for your industry and audience. For instance, if your company provides legal services, an informal voice online may leave potential clients questioning your chops.

By answering these questions, however, you can discover the tone that is right for your company’s social media presence.

  • What role does your company or product play in the lives of your customers/ clients?
  • How “professional” are you expected to sound in your industry?
  • What sets your organization apart from your competitors?

Having a distinct voice for your company will help your company to stand out from your competitors and form deeper connections with your fans. You aren’t a faceless company, so don’t be afraid to show off what makes your organization unique.

As long as your voice is positive, consistent and appropriate for your brand, using this voice in your social media posts will strengthen your brand and allow your audience to form a deeper connection with this brand.

Think Strategically

If you really want to get the most from your social media efforts, you need to think strategically. Depending on your business your goals will vary. Some businesses like to use Twitter as a platform to address customer support issues, others use Instagram as their main source of sales. Regardless, you’ll need to devise strategy.

If you know your audience and what they want, then reaching your goals is a matter of playing to your strengths and following a consistent content calendar. Posting every day tends to be the norm, but don’t overdo it.

Ultimately, you want your audience to look forward to seeing your company pop up on their news feed, and this can only be accomplished by providing value to this audience. You won’t be able to predict the news or shake-ups in your industry, but you still need to provide useful, engaging content to your subscribers consistently. To get started, answer these simple questions:

  • What is the ultimate goal of your social media efforts?
  • How many new subscribers, visitors, likes, etc. are you getting per-month?
  • How many new subscribers, visitors, likes, etc. do you want to have per-month?
  • What is the difference between these two figures?
  • What sort of content is most successful at moving toward this goal?
  • Where is there room for your content to grow? More articles, pictures, special offers, blog posts, etc?

Remember not every social media channel will be right for your business. An accounting firm may have little use for channels like Pinterest or Snapchat, but will get big results from activity on Linkedin. Part of building a social media presence also involves understanding where your audience hangs out.

Creating a strategy is the first step to building a social media presence, but the most important part is engaging your audience. Regularly liking, commenting, resharing, and communicating with them on social media is the key to success. It’s all about relationship building, and you can’t do that without building rapport. Fortune 500 companies have full scale teams to manage these relationships, but there are tools and social media firms out there that can help make this easier for your small business.

You may not be a Fortune 500 company, but you can definitely act like one. By creating carefully targeted strategies for a specific audience, you can build a social media presence that rivals any brand. After all, sometimes it’s not about how many followers you have, but about how many active fans you have. I’d rather have 1,000 highly engaged fans liking and responding to my content, than 100,000 followers that never engage with my brand.


Taking Back Sunday: The Day Not the Band

Work / Life balance is a pretty popular topic these days and with good reason. Businesses are finding that high salaries aren’t enough to keep top employees. Especially with the Googleization of companies, every business out there offers different perks to combat the hours spent in the office.
Some businesses have michelin star catered meals every day but expect you to work 22 hours/day. Is it worth it? Some would argue yes, others no. I believe that work/life balance is critical in creating a high performing business. Every employee needs enough downtime to unwind and refresh.
But with the constant demands of everyday business, Sundays have become a dreaded day of the week. Why? It’s basically become Part 1 of Monday — effectively cutting the weekend down to a single day, Saturday.
But I think it’s high time we all made more of a conscious effort to take back Sundays. Attention businesses! Sundays are no longer part of the work week. Didn’t work did it?
Well, here’s some tips to stop focusing on work on Sundays.
  1. Let’s start with the no-brainer. Plan ahead. This is obviously easier said than done. I’ve written before about having good project management to improve your work/life balance so there should be no need to reiterate those points too much.
  2. Stay Busy. You know what a good way to keep yourself from working on Sunday’s is? Staying busy with family and loved ones. Go those restaurants you always wanted to try, check out the latest movies, or hang with the family. Sports events or concerts are a great way to
  3. Enjoy Nature. Spending lots of time enjoying the outdoors is a great way to completely unplug for the day. While you’re out kayaking or hiking, you’re not going to get very good reception. So what are the odds you’re going to use that phone? Slim to none — except for posting your next Instagram.
  4. Get a Hobby. Whether it’s cycling, working out, martial arts, knitting, or competitive lawn darts, a hobby is a great way to keep yourself from working on Sundays.
  5. Turn off work email notifications. Does it seem impossible? It’s like an addiction isn’t it? Turning off your work email notifications will help you unplug from everything at the office. If you find yourself constantly checking your email, then you need to break the addiction.
  6. Close your laptop. Your computer is like a gateway drug for working — keep that sucker closed on the weekend. As long as your computer stays closed you’ll keep yourself from working through the entire weekend.
  7. Pre-schedule emails on Friday afternoon. I used to always use my Sunday evenings as a night to preschedule and plan out emails that had to go out on Monday morning. That basically makes Sunday another Monday. I started using a tool called Mix Max to pre-schedule all of my emails that I wanted to send out on Monday morning, but I do this on my Friday afternoons.
  8. Use Task Management Tools to Create Tasks and Reminders. I use tools like Evernote to manage most of our client content and projects, as well as ActiveCollab and Remember the Milk (personal and small tasks) to basically manage my life. One of the handy tools for me is the use of reminders. Whenever I have emails that need to be completed or projects that will take me longer than I day, I set reminders to get notifications that I need to complete work by a given day. This helps me to avoid the Sunday night hustle of reviewing every task because I know everything is prescheduled to remind to complete the day it’s due.
  9. Give yourself a different problem to solve. I’m a problem solver. I like to think about and find solutions to marketing related problems. One of the tricks I find helpful to is to use this same brain power for other activities at home. Does the house cleaning process need optimization? Do we need to build a shed or cabinets? How can I use technology to make our lives at home easier?

Association Software Evaluation Criteria: What to know before you make a mistake

Whether you’ve gone through this process before or it's your first time, software selection takes a careful evaluation process to ensure you don’t make mistake. Choosing the right software is an important decision. It costs your association time, money, and your staff and members will be affected by the one you choose.

But how do you know which association software is right for you?

Association Software Evaluation Criteria

Each platform has its pros and cons. And it’s up to you to determine what features are the most important for your association. So, what are the most important evaluation criteria when choosing membership software?

1. Cloud or On-Premise - You want membership software that lives in the cloud. It’s 2016, and the days of on-premise software are going the way of the dinosaurs. Cloud software helps you maintain lower tech overhead, as the software provider takes on the responsibility of updating the platform.

 
2. Customization - Typically, you’ll find that customization comes with added costs. This is a huge problem. The whole reason you purchase membership software is to make management easier, and customization is how you get your software built specifically to your needs, and around your existing processes. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to create workaround, call tech support on a weekly basis, or you’ll just end up angry and frustrated. Find a solution that includes proper setup to get the platform working to your needs. Great association software should be able to function or improve your processes right out of the box. Ones that require heavy customization most likely are outdated platforms.

 
3. Focus on Pain Points - Before evaluating which software criteria you need, first identify your pain points to determine what’s a must-have vs just a like-to-have.

 
4. Membership Management - The first feature based criteria that I like to evaluate for membership software are the member management features. These are the areas that help automate things for your staff, which focuses on one of your key pain points. You’ll want to look for automated membership renewals, custom fields, 360-degree member view (summary of a member's activity, groups, etc), reporting, political districting, foundation contributions, and more.

 
5. Member Engagement - Looking for new ways to engage members, get them to sign up for more events, or purchase  learning course? There are several features you'll be interested in, but also don't be afraid of taking a best-of-breed approach. The best association management software should be able to integrate with all of the other best-in-class tools like MailChimp, cVent, etc. If a membership software provider can't integrate, then that's a sign that they aren't thinking for modern associations.

 
6. SEO friendly and Customizable Websites - I like how certain AMS providers have created key templates to choose from. Building websites is something that people like to overcomplicate. Yes, you may want different branding and images but most websites tend to use similar styles in general based on industry trends and needs. Identify if you can get away with a template because it can save you quite bit on costs and make your life significantly easier. The big thing to look for is SEO features. You'll need customizable URLs (not redirects), meta description and title optimization, and more.

 
7. Integrated Website and AMS - Building your website through your AMS provider is a must. The biggest reason why is visibility. When both are completely integrated you can then see what pages, courses and events your members like most, which enables you to continuously create content that they’ll find engaging.

 
8. Accounting and Dues Billing - If you can’t accept dues or payment, then you’ll find yourself in a mess of trouble. Look for easy invoicing, recurring billing, cash and accrual accounting, Quickbooks Import/Export, batch reporting and reconciliation, complete audit trails, and secure refunds and adjustments.

 
9. Online learning - Whether you want to manually build and manage every facet of your learning programs yourself, or if you prefer a fully managed LMS, you’ll need some coverage here. Online learning programs give your association opportunities for non-dues revenue. If you plan on doing learning programs then find a membership solution that has this functionality built-in, so that you’re able to easily track member activity and engagement.

 
10. Mobile - 80% of the population are using smartphones. Your membership website and tools increasingly need to be ready for mobile use. If a membership software provider hasn’t already transitioned most of their product to mobile, then that should be a red flag.

 
11. Scalability - The last thing you want is to choose software based on what’s perfect for you now, and find that 1 year from now you have to go through the entire process all over again. Don’t just plan for the present, but make sure that your software has the ability to scale with future needs such as users, members, email marketing, accounting functionality, and reporting.

 
12. Pricing - This is often a point that associations focus the most on, but sometimes what appears to be the cheapest option today, won’t be the cheapest tomorrow. Price should never be the sole factor in your purchasing decision. Here’s why: Spending more today may save you more money replacing your software in the long run. However, beware of organizations that don't provide clear, upfront pricing. These company's tend to try and increase price based on your revenue. Also, beware of organizations that charge you for upgrades and maintenance.

 
13. Security - Your member's data is valuable. The las thing you want if for that data to be compromised or exposed. Make sure that your provider has security protocols and features to ensure membership data is stored safely.

These are some of the most important software evaluation criteria for purchasing membership software. As long as you’re not blinded by flashy features or get too caught up with costs, you can evaluate the features that are most important for your association


Indeed vs Glassdoor: A Battle of Quality vs Quantity

When you have the option of posting a job for free there’s two options that stand above the rest: Indeed and Glassdoor. I narrowed it down to these two because they’re hands down the best options. I ran a head-to-head challenge between the two to see which got me better results. But first — here’s a breakdown of both.

Indeed is the largest network of job listings and job searchers, and Glassdoor is the largest network for job candidate research.

Yes, you could always post to both, but do you really want to manage two different accounts? I know I don’t.

So how do you choose?

The Case For Indeed

Indeed has the largest network of job seekers. I repeat, THE LARGEST. They’ve done incredible stuff building their product through SEO, and the results show. No matter what job you post here, you’ll get a number of candidates. But will these be the right candidates? What I mean by this is that will they be the type of quality of applicants that you’re looking for. If you’re looking to fill more niche roles, or positions that you expect to have fewer candidates overall, then Indeed might be right for you. You may need as much volume as possible and you may not care about the quality. Just being able to fill your empty seats, and getting fresh new puppy-eyed employees in the door and trained might be your goal, and for this Indeed is great.

Jobs that work best on Indeed: Entry-level positions, internships, maintenance, facilities, mid-level roles,

The Case for Glassdoor

Simply put, Glassdoor was originally built to be a review site for businesses. The goal was to empower job seekers to learn if they’d be a good fit for a business, or if that business had a horrible culture that they should avoid. Several years later, and I think it’s safe to say they’ve been very successful at that. Then, they went and added job postings for employers, which makes tons of sense. They have a highly engaged user base, which is prime for finding both passive and active job seekers.

Jobs that work best on Glassdoor: Mid-level positions, skilled business roles in marketing, HR, finance, operations, Management & Director level positions.

Glassdoor vs Indeed: The Head-to-Head Challenge

Now for the fun part. I didn’t have the capacity to run this test at a greater scale, but for a single position that we were hiring for, I thought it would be fun to test which job platform performed better: Glassdoor or Indeed.

For the sake of the exercise (and to save time), I used the exact same job description for a Content Marketing Specialist.

I measured performance by 3 key metrics: Volume of Candidates (Total Candidates), Qualified Candidates (those that were the right fit), and Hire.

Obviously, measuring and concluding by “Hire” for a single position is a bit presumptuous. But still fun nonetheless.
indeed hiring metrics
glassdoor recruiting metrics

You can clearly see who won the category of “Total Applicants.” Indeed provided a far greater number of candidates than Glassdoor, which is great if you care about having a high volume. However, you can also see that Glassdoor had a much higher qualified candidate ratio. To me this is most important. It means that I won’t have to spend as much time sifting through resumes because a) I have significantly fewer junk resumes and b) the majority of candidates will fit within my realm of “ideal” fit for culture and skills.

After all, I’m hiring to make my life easier, the last thing I want to do is to burden myself with over 100 resumes to read. It’s all about quality for me not quantity. Some people care about candidate volume, but I don’t. So, in my eyes and in this particular experiment Glassdoor proved victorious over Indeed. When I have candidates coming in from Glassdoor that were former Movie Award Nominated Writers/Producers, published in numerous publications vs Close to a hundred recent college graduates, then it’s pretty obvious who the winner is.

I will leave you with this little tidbit, most of those so called niche boards are a scam. Statistically, I’ve seen them in bring some of the lowest levels of qualified candidates, and most of the top talent is going to be cruising around on the major job boards.

Do you have a favorite job board? I’d love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments!


productivity

How to Kick Stress and Find Happiness Through Productivity

Productivity. Productivity. Productivity. It’s the curse that plagues us all. When we’re unproductive, we’re stressed. When we’re stressed, we’re unhappy. This takes a toll on you and those around you. But what’s the answer?

Several productivity tools will have you believe it’s that you’re using the wrong products. The truth is that it doesn’t matter what product you use. Yes, more complex projects will require tools with a little more oomph. On a day to day basis though — you just need to be smarter with your productivity, remember your goal, and throw in a little happiness for good measure.

Why You’re Not Productive

Before I go into how you can become happier through productivity, let’s start with what you’re doing wrong.

You’re making a list and checking it twice. But hell, you’re not Santa Claus are you? Lists are great for noting everything you need to get done, but doesn’t help you reach your goal. 

Why? Because you’ll move down the list checking each item off, regardless of context. What about assigning point values to each item on the list? It’s great, but can create a huge clusterF… 

Should I try a different task list tool? You can. But you’ll waste more time adding your to-do list and learning the app, then you would just using the system you’re familiar with. 

Breaking Bad Habits - How to Become More Productive

To finally become productive you have to break one major bad habit — stop thinking in terms of checklists. 

Did that? Good.

Goal Setting

Start with your goal. What is the overall goal you’re working towards? It’s a pretty simple question right?  We’re all working towards something, but we can lose sight of that through all of the hustle and bustle. 

It may seem a bit old school, but use a pen and notebook for this because 1) Writing helps you remember better 2) It will give you a greater sense of accomplishment to be able to look and see what you completed each day. 

For the sake of this example, let’s say my goal is to bring in 10 new customers at the end of the month. 

Supporting Tasks to Reach Goals

So my goal is to bring in 10 new customers, what’s next? Now, we start to build out our supporting tasks. These are the 3-5 things you need to do today to take you closer to your goal. Make sure to get detailed about this specific tasks. These are the must do things that you have to get done each day. I normally create 5 tasks for myself that help me reach my goal, but you may find that it’s too many to start with. The key is to start transforming the way you think about your day, so make sure you’re able to accomplish and adopt this methodology.

The reason I stick to 3-5 tasks is because in a typical work day, you won’t have enough time to do more. Crazy, but true. I used to work within a never-ending task list, and all it got me was a constant state of stress and unrest. The list was never done and I always felt I was never accomplishing anything. This wreaked havoc on my ego and confidence. 

By converting yourself to this style of task management, you’ll strike the right work/life balance and even start to feel good about how hard you’re actually working. It also helps you work smarter.

You’re bringing in the focus on what really matters to hit your goal, and shelving all the minor tasks aside (temporarily). 

For my goal of 10 New Clients I would use High Priority Tasks such as these:

1. Make 10 Outbound Sales Calls

2. Create Email Marketing Campaign to Target Niche

3. Write SEO optimized Content to Post and Publish

4. Create Concept for Paid Ad

5. Email 2 Colleagues asking for Referrals

The Other Crap

I thought about naming this section something else, like sub tasks, minor tasks, etc. But it didn’t have the same ring to it. And “Other Crap” just sounds right. Here is where it’s OK to list out all the “Other Crap” you have to do. Some of it might be related to your Goal, some may not. If it’s related to your goal you can move it over to your High Priority Task List the next day. 

The other reason we call this “Other Crap” is because it diminishes the value of the items under it. If you think of it in terms of “tasks”, then you’ll be driven to get it done. If it’s just “other crap”, then you do it if you have time, but if you don’t stress about it if you don’t. It’s not a high priority item. This section is also where you can find areas for automation or outsourcing. If it’s not a high priority for you, but it needs to get done, then figure out a way to have someone else do it, or outsource the task. 

Under “Other Crap” I would have items such as:

• Pick up mail

• Set up demo of new Sales software

• Read article about new best practices in Content marketing

• Design Paid Ad

• Update website with new imagery

• Do laundry

• Find contact information for target prospects

• Etc

• Etc

Reflection

Did you accomplish your High Priority Tasks Yes/No?

Well did you? Hopefully your answer is YES, and now that it’s 5PM you can relax or leisurely take care of other crap (if you want to). If your answer was NO, then take some time to reflect on why you didn’t accomplish your tasks.

Was 5 too many? Were there too many dependencies on these tasks? This is where you begin to find out the level of complication, and maybe you decrease the number of High Priority tasks because one is trickier than the rest. Also, look at breaking down that big task into several smaller ones to complete over a couple of days. 

What Are You Thankful For?

Yes, this sounds cheesy, but after reflecting on how well your high priority tasks went, then take a minute to think about the good in your life.  Write down 3 things that you’re thankful for.

I can’t even explain how much this changed my life. At the end of a stressful day, nothing feels better than thinking about the good in your life and putting positivity back in. 

This isn’t the cure-all for stress by the way. There are a number of other factors that will contribute to stress, but managing your tasks this way will massively cut down on productivity related stress, and help you establish a better work/life balance. 


indeed job posting SEO best practices

What Recruiters Need to Learn about Posting a Job Description From Indeed

You’re a recruiter and an expert at creating and posting job descriptions. So why should you listen to me - a marketer? For starters, the recruitment and HR industry bears a striking resemblance to customer acquisition. The only difference being recruiting candidates vs recruiting customers.

So why Indeed? There are hundreds of great examples of businesses creating high performing job descriptions. I’ve had the pleasure of communicating with members of Monster, Indeed, Jobs2Careers, SimplyHired, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, and pretty much every other job board. The ones that I thought had the best methodology for marketing and testing were: Indeed, Glassdoor and Monster.

Those three businesses have some of the best in-house marketing teams I’ve spoken too, and when it comes to job posts they have ridiculous methodology for A|B testing and SEO.

What You Can Learn About job Posting From Indeed.

SEO Job Title

Keep it simple. Oftentimes businesses get caught up trying to create unique titles like “Marketing Ninja Magician Leader”. You’ll notice Indeed simply titled their job “Director, Search Engine Optimization (SEO).” I don’t have their research on me, but if you consider the variations and impact of SEO, then this title will be optimal for the specific role of “SEO Directors.”

Keyword Variations

In the copy you’ll notice some other interesting things. The use of different variations of the title to ensure that they turn up in search. The following variations are all used:

  • Director, SEO
  • Online Marketing Director
  • SEO Director

Similar Job Titles for SEO

Now, I saw this one earlier, but it looks like they removed it. Maybe through an A|B test?

I thought it was a clever idea of adding more keyword variations. What Indeed did was add a section called, “Other Titles You May Know This Role As” (or something like that I don’t remember the exact name).

Under it they listed about 6 different job titles relating to expert SEO positions. Now I can’t shed any light as to why they removed it, maybe they found that the added candidates were lower quality or they were generating too high a volume, but I thought it was a nifty SEO trick to use for a job description.

Role Description

Indeed SEO best practices for job descriptions
Short and concise. Indeed focuses on delivering a clear message of the role and how it impacts the company. They mention the excitement of over 180 million active job seekers, high visibility and leadership. You know reading this Director of SEO role that Indeed values this position, and they will be a key cog for success.

Job Responsibilities


Again, Indeed keeps their job description concise. They understand that job seekers want to understand the role and responsibilities as quickly as possible. I always recommend keeping responsibilities to under 10 bullet points that quickly define what candidates can expect from the role.

Job Description Requirements

SEO Best practices for writing job requirements
The requirements section isn’t meant for you to list every single thing you want from a candidate — just what’s most important. I always recommend using this section as a filter to remove anyone that is unqualified. To do this, focus on what will thin the candidate herd.

Indeed uses experience in SEO with more than 10MM users/month, experience with Pig/Hadoop, and the ability to quantify and present SEO improvements.

The Perks


In the requirements sections, Indeed mentioned “ambidextrous ping pong skills” as a way to show company culture, but the perks help to further show what kind of environment you foster. Catered meals, endless snacks, casual dress codes, flexible work, and happy hours. This screams an environment that places work/life balance at the forefront, and values employees time outside the office.

How Can Indeed Improve Their Job Description Posting?

Without knowing too much about their A|B tests or candidate flow, I’d make the following recommendations.

Their opening paragraph is weak to me. I think that they’re very well known and will attract top talent regardless, but to me they can show off more of their personality here.

"Indeed works when talented, passionate people come together to get a job done."

I can replace Indeed with any company name and this opening section will still work. The key to me is to show off what makes your brand unique and drive that message hard in the beginning.

Under the requirements, I think there’s some unnecessary items here that can help make it more concise.

“2 Years Experience Managing a Team.” This can be removed as it’s a no-brainer for the position. If you’re hiring for a Director level position, and are looking at people with 5-7 years experience, you’re going to get candidates with management experience.

I would look to add more granular requirements if the goal is to filter experts in SEO. Something like “Ability to derive estimated revenue from traffic volumes and drive conversion based SEO strategies.” I think they do a good job describing the needs from a traffic generation position, but the role will be focused on driving company revenue from organic traffic as well, and that should be emphasized.

Under the Perks I think there’s a wasted opportunity here for personality as well.

Something can be added here that’s relevant to the SEO team such as: Do you like tacos? Our SEO team does weekly Taco Tuesdays at Torchy’s.

Indeed has built their entire business on SEO, so it'd be crazy not to use their job descriptions as an example of what you should do. By taking some lessons from what they're doing, you'll be generating more high quality candidates than ever before.


Eat your Own Dog Food: How We Increased Business By 286% with A|B Testing

Once upon a time, Digital Astronauts was known by a different name. We had operated under the name BeauVue (Pronounced: Bō - View) Marketing for quite some time, but felt we had outgrown the name. I’m not suggesting that a massive rebrand is the best decision you can make, but if your gut is telling you that it’s necessary, then it may be. Sometimes, through acquisition or partnerships, you’ll even see some rebrand moments. With our rebrand we were able to increase new business inquiries by 286%! I’m not suggesting the way to increase business is by changing your company name every 6 months, but if you plan on rebranding, then do it right.

Why Did We Want to Rebrand?

This is the obvious question right?

When we spoke to clients we had a fairly positive response. We were told that the brand name: “exuded elegance,” “sounds like marketing for wineries,” and “very high end and expensive.” This all sounds great, but we were starting to see some issues.

  1. People were mispronouncing the name.
  2. While sounding expensive was great, we also enjoy working with startups and doing Pro Bono projects for Non Profits. It was hard to get any interest when our prospects thought we were beyond their budget.
  3. We sounded elegant... too elegant. It felt like we had to live up to the brand and make our content stuffy, and all we wanted to do was have fun!

How do you choose your next company name?

You could use tools like namium or name mesh, or come up with your own original idea. No matter what you choose for your company's new name, you need to have clear, strategic criteria to help you choose that name.

Our criteria for our new brand name were as follows:

  1. Has to be easy to pronounce
  2. Has to be relevant to our industry
  3. Has to sound fun
  4. Needs broad appeal
  5. Must resonate with our audience

The Brand Name Creation Process

I’m not afraid to admit it. When were first assessing a business rebrand we threw a bunch of names at a wall like spaghetti. Here’s a picture of what our wall looked like...

coming up with new company name

Coming up with a brand name is tough right? Yeah, we figured that out pretty quick. When you start throwing out names like Marketing Cobra Command, SEO Ninjas, and Conversion Sharks then you know you’ve hit a wall.

The best thing you can do when you hit the wall (adding “ify” to create words like “marketify,” for example) is to take a step back. Go for a walk, focus on your clients or product, do anything but try and come up with new names!

After you’ve had some time to breathe just go about your normal business. Don’t spend more than 15 minutes per day brainstorming new name ideas. For us, we continued to add words we liked, ideas from other companies, and took to a thesaurus.

The Aha Moment!

So, what were we left with during this process? Hundreds of words we liked that:  A) sounded cool and B) described what we do.

We started to play with several different combinations to see if anything stuck. During this process we came up with the combination “Digital Astronauts.” Immediately we thought this name sounded awesome. On top of that, we loved the symbolism behind the name.

  1. Digital - we’re digital marketers.
  2. Astronauts - pioneers in our industry.

This was all gravy, but we didn’t want to jump into anything on impulse. After all, we didn’t want to choose a brand name and have to go through this whole process all over again.

The name passed the test with us but would it pass the test with prospects.

A|B Testing Our Company Names

Long story short, we A|B tested our company name vs Digital Astronauts. We put together a cold email list for outreach to perform this test.  We used a large enough sample and sent out an introductory email.

The results were obvious.

a-and-b-testing-company-name

We had a 286% increase in calls scheduled from using the Digital Astronauts name and branding, way fewer unsubscribes, and more positive responses. The market had spoken and it was time to make the change. We were already planning a new website redesign, so we just needed to change the branding and language to match our new look.

We had some fun with the messaging (I may have gone overboard with the David Bowie references) and the key was to not use too many instances of “out of this world” results.

So there you have it. The story and the lesson of how we became Digital Astronauts. The flyest digital marketing agency around.


hack yourself for more productivity

Hack Yourself To Become More Productive at Work

Work / Life balance is a growing concern among entrepreneurs, startup businesses, and even enterprises. It’s kind of a big deal. Most people think that just being able to turn the off switch when you’re done is the solution, but I’ve found that the problem is bigger than that. We’re all faced with an infinite number of tasks each day. And like a mindless Terminator we cross off each item and keep adding more as if we’re in a never ending chase for Sarah Connor. It’s demotivating and exhausting. But what can we do? The solution is a combination of automation, behavioral changes, and miscellaneous tweaks.

Work Off Hours

I’m not saying work more hours after your normal hours. I’m saying start your day an hour or two earlier, or a couple of hours later. I’ve found that having an extra two hours in the morning without the hustle and bustle helps accomplish SIGNIFICANTLY more work. Every person walking around is another distraction, and that’s BEFORE they start to ping you, tap you on the shoulder, and send you 508978976 emails before lunch.

Outsource Minor Tasks

Let me be clear. If you work a day job, you are expected to do your job. DO NOT do what this guy did and outsource your entire job. That being said, there isn’t anything wrong with spending some of your budget to outsource minor tasks. Things like list building, database management, powerpoint presentations, and design can all be outsourced on Upwork for low costs. I also recommend recording a video of a process that you want to outsource, so that freelancers can easily review the process. Outsourcing minor tasks can save you hours per week and cost you very little.

Automate As Many Processes as Possible

A perfect world is one where you can push a button and all your work is completed. You may not be able to do this yet, but there are ways to automate several tasks. My favorite automation examples can be found in lead generation. You can set up a contact form popup using SumoMe tools, have it directly import the new contact into an email list in Mailchimp, have the list go through an automated nurture campaign, and voila! You’ve just saved yourself hours of time finding contacts and sending them multiple emails until they’re sales ready. There’s also several fun things you can do with Scripts and IFTTT. Wild Apricot did a great writeup on using a mail merge and script to automate a mass mailing through Gmail here.

5-a-Days / Goal Setting

My next couple of productivity hacks involve goals. The first is using 5 per day task lists. A list of 5 things you absolutely must get done during the day. I’ve found this helps me keep myself from getting sidetracked and accomplish more through each day. You can either use a task list app like Remember the Milk, or a Hipster Journal (i.e Moleskin).

Essentialism

Essentialism is basically saying “no” to everything that keeps you from reaching your core goal. If my focus is to generate increased sales, then I focus solely on activities that help me reach that overarching goal. Everything else gets deprioritized or assigned to another team member based on their goal. You won’t be able to say “no” to everything, but it will help you remove several items from your immediate task queue.

Changing Behavior

Here’s where I really emphasize having what I call a Hipster Journal (Moleskin) or any old notebook. You’ll write down the things that cause 80% of your problems or stress, and begin to form a hypothesis. If your biggest problem is lack of time, then you try to understand why you don’t have much time. Maybe it’s because you’re spending too much of it making meals throughout the day. So, then maybe you find that the solution is meal prepping on the weekend, so you don’t have to cook during the week. The key thing here is to measure the change. using the example above, if your issue was lack of time, then you would see how much time you save throughout the week by meal prepping on the weekend. BOOM! Problem solved.

You can to a number of things to become more productive throughout the day. “Hacking Yourself” can mean automating processes, outsourcing, changing the way you do things or the way you think.


marketing horror stories

12 Glorious Marketing Horror Stories

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved a good scary movie. Well, maybe not even good ones because I even love the terrible ones (Sharknado anyone?). I don’t know what it is: the panic, the scares around the corner, the scenes that make you jump, the ominous score. Whatever the case, there’s something utterly enjoyable about horror stories. But professionally? Nothing scares me more than some little oversight that ends up going viral or making headlines for being insensitive, offensive, or downright stupid.

 

Check out this list of my favorite marketing horror stories and the real life nightmares of these popular brands:

 

1. Heinz QR Code Links to Hardcore Porn Site

heinz marketing failureYikes right? Can you imagine if one of your links or campaigns directed to a porn site? Heinz ran a scannable barcode campaign on limited time bottles, but when the campaign ended, they didn’t renew the connected URL. A clever German purveyor of pornagraphy ended up swooping on that expired URL and directing it to one of their websites.
 

2. Bloomingdales Terrible Terrible Terrible Ad

 

bloomingdale's marketing failureSometimes I wonder how some ad copy makes it from concept to approval. What group of geniuses sat at a table and thought “I have a great idea for an ad! Let’s have a guy creepily stare at a woman in the advertisement, with the copy 'Spike Your Best Friend’s Eggnog When They’re Not Looking.'" The ad practically endorses alcohol-fueled date rape. Thankfully, Bloomingdale’s was quick to apologize via Twitter, but still I’m left to wonder. Who came up with this and how did it even get put into development? You would think someone would look at this and say “You know what guys? This might not be the message to send to customers."
 

3. Bud Light #UpForWhatever

 
Social media has offered some amazing opportunities for brands to showcase their messaging and personality. It’s also provided us with moments where we think WTF were they thinking? #UpForWhatever is Bud Light’s attempt to create a slogan that promotes carefree spontaneity, adventures, and for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary at night. Wait what? Yes, Bud Light’s #UpForWhatever slogan encouraged rape culture and promoted reckless drinking. When alcohol fueled date rape is an increasing concern across college campuses, you have to wonder how some of these ideas make it past the concept stage.
 

4. When Beyonce Drops Your Name and in response you have… nothing

beyonce red lobster marketing fail

 

“When he f—k me good I take his ass to Red Lobster Those were the lyrics that Beyonce dropped in her song Formation. And in response Red Lobster had nothing. They made the mistake of not responding in a timely fashion, and then by responding with this gem:"Cheddar Bey Biscuits" has a nice ring to it, don't you think? #Formation @Beyonce

And more responses like these:

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 2.11.51 PMScreen Shot 2016-05-17 at 2.11.55 PM

Missing out on an opportunity is almost as bad as creating a terrible ad. I mean what are the chances of lightening striking twice right?
 

5. Walmart and the “Fat Girl Costumes"

walmart marketing advertising fail
Ay-yi-yi.

I can only imagine one of Walmart’s SEO people sitting there thinking, "We have to name these 'fat girl costumes' because it’s the most popular search term and brings x% more traffic than competing terms." This little gaff is why SEO specialists should sometimes sacrifice the bump in traffic for a more friendly term.
 

6. Starbucks  Race Together campaign

starbucks race together
Despite their good intentions, Starbucks encouraged customers to engage in discussion about race relations with baristas. I’m not sure if 16 year old baristas are the best representatives of the Starbucks brand to discuss the hot topic of race relations, and this is definitely an issue that falls under the category of “too hot” to address in this manner.
 

7. #McDStories

mcdonalds stories failure
Hehe. The #McDstories hashtag may have seemed like a great idea — Promote positive stories about your brand. The problem here is that those people who were thinking of this campaign probably really really love working at McDonald’s and are detached from how consumers truly feel about their brand. This hashtag was just a recipe for hilarious disaster.
 

7. Apple Replaces Google Maps | U2 Album

I had to lump these two Apple failures into a single item. The forced “MApples” conversion from Google maps. There were tons of stories such as a user following Apple Map directions into the middle of a natural park. I’ve even had my share of Apple map directions lead me completely astray. The other Apple fail — forcing every single user to download the new U2 album.  It’s one thing to offer a free album, but forcing an album onto users devices was some next-level stuff.
 

8. Seoul Secret

seoul secret marketing failure

Race is always a touchy subject, but when a company compares light and dark skin… yikes.  Seoul Secret, a beauty brand created a campaign called “White makes you win,” promoting a skin-lightening cosmetics line. It’s at this point that I should stop writing because let’s be honest, this clearly doesn’t get any better. Long story short, Seoul Secret tweeted out the campaign along with a video of actress and singer Chris Horwang talking about how her white skin helped her become more successful. Obviously this was not well received.
 

9. The National Republican Senatorial Committee Bashes a Candidate

 

GOP bad tweets on social media

Political muck-slinging isn’t anything new, but when the GOP decided to tweet saying that  Tammy Duckworth doesn’t “stand up” for vets that’s when things went wrong. 1) Duckworth actually lost her legs while serving in Iraq. 2) She came back to work as the assistant secretary in the Department of Veteran Affairs. 3) The tweet was posted on International Women’s Day. I think it’s safe to say they hit the trifecta on this one.
 

10. Microsoft AI Twitter bot that went awry...

Microsoft AI twitter bot gone wrong

There’s a famous saying that goes “this is why we can’t have nice things.”Microsoft created an “AI” twitter bot that would learn from users based on conversations. This could have been huge in terms of lowering marketing overhead and increasing real-time response rates. How could something this awesome go wrong? In less than a day, several trolls managed to turn Microsoft’s Twitter bot into a huge racist douche.
 

11. #AskSeaWorld Campaign

After the hot release of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish”, what could go wrong with a good ‘ol hashtag campaign by SeaWorld that encourages users to ask questions about whale care?  The only thing worse was SeaWorld’s responses to these users by calling them “Trolls” among other things.
 

12. Amazon’s “The Man In The High Castle”

Nazi advertising amazon
If you’ve seen “The Man in the High Castle”, then you know it’s a great show  about an alternate reality where Nazi Germany and Japan won World War II. In terms of promotion, Amazon could have gone the basic route of putting up posters, online ads, etc. Instead they went for a shock and awe approach. They covered New York City subways —sets, walls, and ceilings — with Nazi and Imperial Japanese imagery. Considering the largest Jewish population in the United States is New York City, this may not have been the best idea.

In fact, Mayor De Blasio called the ads “irresponsible and offensive to World War II and Holocaust survivors, their families, and countless other New Yorkers.”