What’s New for Internet Marketing in 2015?

So, right about now your newsfeed is probably littered with predictions for internet marketing in 2015, ringing in the New Year with “insider knowledge” in your pocket, blah, blah, baitclick. What a drastic change from each one of the past ten New Years blog trends, no? Do you want to know what is going to happen with internet marketing next year in no uncertain terms: the same thing that is happening right now.

The Most Exciting Prediction in the World

Here it is: trends are going to continue; they are not going to reverse. Things that are working right now are going to continue to work and slightly change as the weeks turn into months. Things that are not working any more will stop being used. If something new comes out that works, people will start to move towards that tool/technique.

Brilliant, no? Actually, what I’m really trying to get at here is that the current trends are only going to get more in-depth. And as for new trends, you’re going to have to keep your ear to the ground and your eyes to blogs to follow them. Don’t rely on a once a year prediction blog to set your internet marketing strategy for 2015, this is the age of real time pivoting and actionable metrics. If you aren’t plugged in 24/7, you’re run the risk of missing out on something big and falling behind.

If Marketing Trends Were Ponies Which Would I Bet On?

But if you are really dying to know what I think about the marketing trends that will be the hottest in this upcoming year, I guess I can put in some picks for you, but as I said, your best gauge for next year’s success is your own intuition and your own research. After all, isn’t it your money and livelihood on the line?

Mobile marketing will continue to be on the top of everyone’s “must” list but honestly, unless you’re running a huge website, I’m going to go ahead and tell the truth: every one has been predicting this trend for the past four or five years. When are we “there” and not “striving for there” already? If your site isn’t mobile-friendly by now, chances are you’re not in business.

SEO will continue to be blurred along with content creation and social media. What we have now is a digital marketing operation that is focused on driving traffic and sales. Or conversions. Or whatever you want to call them. The point is, the once finely delineated departments of internet marketing are all lumped together. Watch for this mixed cauldron to continue to be stirred until unrecognizable as separate entities.

Content will still be king. SEO will still be dead. Everybody will continue to say it and argue about it, but the fact remains that the more quality content you have that is written for your customers and not for search engines the better ranking and sales you will have.

– Metrics and analytics will continue to be super-important as well real-time pivoting, so if you aren’t paying attention to what customer behavior yet, your time is rapidly drawing near to being “too late.”

Now, before you say there was nothing of value there, remember what I said earlier. You are the only one who can bring value to your internet marketing and it’s not going to come from the predictions of a quick email on 2015 internet marketing trends. I don’t care who writes it, the fact of the matter is, you have to pay attention year round if you want to get to the heart of the matter.

Why You Should Break Away From Title Conventions In 2016

How many times have you read a lame “5 Ways to Improve Your Bottom Line!” title, clicked through, and the been disappointed to find the same old generic, rehashed information on the other side?

If you roll your eyes whenever these titles come up in your Facebook feed or from some marketer’s Twitter account, you’re not alone. Unfortunately for marketers looking to take the easy way out, millions of other people are feeling the same way and are becoming immune to the type of clickbait titles that have dominated marketing communications for way too long now.

In the near future (actually, now), no one is going to be clicking on cheesy, cringe-worthy headlines that mask lackluster, uninspired content. Instead, you should be working to standout with your titles in other ways to help draw people in without misleading them. Of course, step one is to make sure your content is up to par; no great title or thumbnail image can lead to the conversions you’re after if you don’t have great words waiting for readers on the other side. Be valuable, be useful.

Next, consider tossing out additional hyped up adjectives and adverbs for statistics. Many of the most successful content marketing triumphs to pop up in 2015 were case study types which could boast a specific change in a variable in their title.

For example, the popular Groove blog wrote an article with a title along the lines of “How we raised our traffic by 12,267% with zero advertising.” It’s just about as enticing as a marketing blog post title could possibly be because it gives you an exact statistic that you can hold the author to.

By the way, that blog post really is excellent and outlines a bunch of free traffic generation methods that the company used to, no kidding, give an insane multiple-thousand percent increase to their traffic numbers in an impressive amount of time.

You should consider also making your titles platform specific. For example, WordPress has plugins which allow you to display different title and description tags for certain social networks. For example, if you know that Facebook shows only the first 70 characters of a link title and LinkedIn shows 110, you can create custom titles that fit those exact lengths and make the most of you allotted characters on each platform.

Titles which are native (made for) a platform will without a doubt perform better in terms of clickthrough and reader interest. Futhermore, platform specific titles can help you create clever synergies between the titles and preview images shown on each network, which can go a long way toward making your homegrown marketing efforts look more professional and thought out – and that’s never a bad thing!

Basically, titles still need to deliver clickthroughs and intrigue readers, but the way in which they accomplish these goals is going to need to be more genuine and helpful going forward. Working together to eliminate crappy content and titling is just one way to make audiences less skeptical of content marketing, which makes things easier on the rest of us, doesn’t it?

4 Email Productivity Tips

Email is a major time sink. We’re talking multiple hours per day for many busy individuals, and as much as half their workdays can be spent on email for those among us with high rates of communication with clients, contacts, and colleagues.

What’s worse, people often feel like they’re being way more productive than they actually are as well when they’re working out of their inboxes. Sure, you might be wheeling and dealing on your keyboard, but the effective hours of solid work achieved when constantly checking email starts to get diminished quickly.

And even still worse than that is the fact that it’s a necessity. Regardless of where you are or what you do, email is a near universally expected communication tool and those you work with will expect you to consistently check and respond to any incoming messages.

So, how can you make your email time more productive and stop it from leaking into your day? Here are a few tips for getting started:

1) Because email is not a live messenger (though some people use it like one!), it is OK if responses are generally put off a few hours. For this reason, email productivity experts often recommend that you set 3 times throughout the day to check your email, and then stick to those times, never checking in between.

2) During your designated email check-in times, respond to every message you’ve received, right when you read it. Often, we read something, think “that’s going to take a bit to fully address!”, and then mentally note that we’ll get back to it later when we have more time. However, this forces you to read such emails twice instead of one time, and the procrastinating generally serves no helpful purpose. When you read an email, decide if it requires a response. If the answer is yes, write it then, on the spot.

3) Use shortcuts. Many email productivity add-ons (Boomerang is a popular one right now, by the way), allow you to setup shortcuts that will automatically fill in words or sentences when you begin typing a certain key sequence. If you have an opening greeting you always use, or other information that doesn’t make sense to save as a standard email signature, you can use these shortcuts to save you time. Got a long company name you have to type out constantly? Set a shortcut so that you can trigger it by just hitting two letters in a row that normally wouldn’t follow each other. You get the idea.

4) Turn off push notifications. Of course, we receive email on much more than just our PC’s these days, and the constant buzzing of a phone or dinging of an iPad can pull you out of what you’re working on and cause you to lose focus and time, even if you just check your lock screen to see who or what it was. Instead, put these items in do not disturb mode or at least turn off email client notifications when you’re in between your designated email checking times.

Stick to these, and you’ll be well on your way to shaving off minutes or even hours from your workday!

Avoid False Guru Status to Boost Credibility

Want to know what one of the fastest ways to kill your credibility is? To pretend to have it when you don’t.

It’s an unfortunate reality, but the landscape of online marketing has been invaded over the past decade by those claiming to be experts in things that they, to put it politely, aren’t. The ‘fake it ’til you make it’ bravado approach was actually wildly effective for a number of years, but the reality now is one in which potential customers are much more skeptical.

Not only are they wary of falling victim to people pretending to be something that they aren’t, they’re also realizing that much of the information that false gurus put behind a paywall is available free elsewhere on the web (indeed, the expertise of fakers doesn’t allow them to create much exclusivity based on genuine, helpful content that no one else is providing).

Enter: The transparency trend. Believe it or not, there are some people out there who are up and coming and have been killing it with their audiences even though they haven’t done a whole lot yet. Instead of pretending they’ve executed in one market or another before they really have, these players are instead simply sharing exactly what they’re going through at the time to their audiences. In a way, this approach levels the playing field and makes communications more genuine.

Over the past half decade, there has been an enormous shift from consumers wanting to be told what to do by brands, or at least being convinced that’s what they want, and their realizing that they can lead the discussion more than just have it fed to them. As a result, personal communications win, and honesty is an often sought but less often delivered trait when people go looking to something from someone else online.

For an example of the effectiveness of this approach, the Groove blog, the blog of a small remotely managed helpdesk software, has openly admitted that the number one driver of sales and awareness for their product has been their blog; the Groove blog epitomized transparency.

The company began under the premise of writing out everything they do to try and reach $500,000 in monthly recurring revenue. Ultimately, they’re a couple of years into their project, haven’t yet breached even half of their goal, and yet their posts are wildly popular. Why is this? Because the folks at Groove simply write about what they’ve done and a lesson they’ve learned each week, good or bad, success or failure.

They’re not pretending they have the software as a service game figured out, their not padding the numbers (or downright falsifying them), and they’re certainly not renting expensive cars for the day in order to take pictures with them in front of a mansion they don’t own – I’m looking at you, mid 2000’s internet marketing ‘gurus’.

So keep it honest, keep it open, and you might be surprised to find out that you actually end up making more with, well, less.

How To Use “Help A Reporter Out” For Your Blog Or Brand

Ever heard of popular PR and journalism tool “Help A Reporter Out”? If you’re not acquainted but you have a brand or expertise to market, this quickstart guide will give you the basics.

At its core, Help A Reporter Out, or HARO, is a platform to help connect journalists with sources. Users can register as either sources or media outlets – or both. For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be talking about using it as a source.

As a source, you’ll be able to sign up to HARO’s emails, which are sent out multiple times per day and include upwards of 100 stories that media outlets, from international news sites down to niche blogs, are working on.

The descriptions will call for specific experts or those with certain experiences to weigh in and share their advice, stories, and/or experiences. Clicking the reply link within HARO’s email will open up a new message window that, upon completion, will be sent off to the media outlet.

Responding to a call for sources is basically a pitch in which you can sell your brand’s story to someone who will publish a story about it. For example, you might find someone looking for B2B marketing experts for an interview. If you know about B2B products and write a great pitch to an outlet, they may publish your advice in their final piece. If this happens on a larger outlet, you can score some major exposure and credibility by being featured.

The great thing is that calls to action come in a number of categories, so even if you’re outside of the business and tech circles, there will be relevant lifestyle, fitness, travel, etc. prompts that you can respond to. You might not find anything in every email blast, but it’s easy to respond to a few relevant prompts per week.

A couple of tips:

1. Always be sure to deliver value in your pitch, and explain why the outlet’s readers are going to learn something from you. Never mention wanting your own exposure, instead focus on giving the journalist or outlet the best story and more useful information possible.

2. If a publication is listed as anonymous, try and feel out some details about the project in your first email to them to assess the value of being featured. That said, don’t be afraid of being featured in smaller projects, because these outlets are probably going to hustle to promote and squeeze every readership they can out of anything they publish.

The results of having your brand featured in a larger piece can be a huge boon for a small boon, and also help build credibility in your niche, as your input on a topic has now been published. Consistency is key with HARO; respond to every prompt that seems like a good fit, and eventually you’ll match up with someone who needs exactly what you have to offer.

Now get to pitching, good luck!