Increasing Sales From Mobile Visitors (Infographic)

The use of mobile devices on the web is increasing, and Google is adding more updates to their search algorithm that favor mobile-friendly websites.

So if you’re only thinking about desktop visitors, it’s high time to make your site mobile-friendly. From checking to confirm your website works with mobile to ensuring you comply with Google’s quality guidelines, you need to stay on top of the situation.

This is really important and not something to skip for another day. If you’re interested in increasing traffic to your site, you need to make sure your site looks good and works well on mobile devices.

In addition to making sure the mobile version of your site is mobile-friendly, you also need to optimize for conversions, just like you do for the desktop version of your site. There are a lot of things you can do to optimize for mobile conversions. Below is an infographic to help you:

How to Get More Sales From Your Mobile Visitors
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is a Content Writer for Kissmetrics.

7 Things You Should Learn From The Customer Who Doesn’t Convert

Everyone hates shopping cart abandonment.

It’s the boogeyman of Internet marketing, the nemesis of conversion optimizers, and the headache of Internet sales. We fight it tooth and nail. We test incessantly. We optimize, reoptimize, and re-reoptimize, trying to defeat the rising tide of abandonments.

But for all our frenetic battles against shopping cart abandonment, could it be that we’re missing some very valuable information?

I think we are. Shopping cart abandonment is not the pure and unadulterated evil that we think it is. It is an opportunity to learn.

Here’s what we should learn from the customers who choose not to buy. This isn’t an article on techniques to obliterate abandonment. It’s not even about abandonment per se. It’s about all your website traffic and those pesky customers who don’t seem to convert.

Is there anything we can learn from them?

1. Learn about the buy cycle.

One reason why customers don’t convert is because they’re not at the right point in the buy cycle.

What’s the buy cycle you ask? It’s not a misspelling of a two-wheeled transportation device. The more clarifying term, “customer buying cycle,” describes the process that a customer takes when they are considering a purchase.

Here it is in all its visual glory.

the-buying-cycle

There are five basic stages to the customer’s buying cycle. I made them all start with c- and sound the same:

  1. Conception: The customer is aware that she needs or wants something.
  2. Comparison: The customer considers the various places to obtain this product or service
  3. Consideration: The customer evaluates the best and safest decision for her particular needs and situation.
  4. Conversion: BUY! The customer makes the decision to act on this decision.
  5. Continuation: The customer likes the experience, and decides to do it again sometime.

The reality of a customer buying cycle is that a customer can only be at one point on the cycle at a time. Accepting this fact is a basic realization of non-converting customers. Why didn’t they convert? Because they were in the conception, comparison, or consideration phase, that’s why.

That’s not bad. It just is.

Understanding the buy cycle is a key lesson, because you realize that the “lost” conversion may not be a lost conversion at all. It’s a future conversion from a customer who was in the conception phase of the buy cycle.

Obviously, not everyone is going to buy from your website the first time around. You wouldn’t want that anyway, because that would mean that you would have 1) far fewer return visitors, and 2) fewer future conversions.

The cycle, like most other life cycles, seems a little sad at first. But once you realize, hey, it’s a cycle, then you are able to deal with your grief and make more confident marketing decisions.

2. Learn that higher traffic does not equal higher sales.

Here is a saga that many SEOs and digital marketers have experienced.

The director of marketing says, “We need more traffic!” SEOs and writers start to hustle, working their magic and mixing their potions. Traffic starts to climb. KPIs are achieved. Goals are met.

And what happens? Sales plateau.

Why is this the case? Higher traffic does not equal higher sales. Normally, the more traffic you get, the more you tend to sell. In some situations, however, the increasing traffic is driving traffic that is not prepared to convert.

Look at the diagram below. There are three main types of searches, navigational, informational and transactional. If you increase traffic, you may be boosting navigational and informational searches.

types-of-searches

Source

Informational queries and the resulting traffic is precisely the type of traffic that is often produced by greater content marketing efforts. Since the nature of the queries is informational, it is likely that it may not drive high-converting traffic.

It’s important to realize that content marketing for all its effectiveness is not a guaranteed route to higher sales. Content marketing agrees to meet customers on their own turf, in their own time, and on their own terms.

More traffic is great. But it just might not translate into immediate sales.

3. Learn that there is such a thing as search query intent.

In keeping with the point above, we need to realize the truth about search queries. Not all queries are created equal. Every query has intent, and that intent impacts whether or not the customer who lands on your website is going to buy or not.

All the search traffic that is rushing into your funnel can be categorized in one of three ways:

  1. Transactional Queries – People who want to buy. They are looking to make a purchase right away or very soon. Many of these searchers will convert.
  2. Navigational Queries – People who are trying to find your website. They may or may not be ready to buy. More often than not, they’re doing pre-purchase research.
  3. Informational Queries – People who are looking for information. These searchers are the least likely to convert right away, but they comprise the largest percentage of website traffic.

navigational-informational-transactional

Source

Brightedge estimates that a whopping 80% of searchers will land on your website with a desire to get information, not to buy. Only 10% are looking to buy, and therefore likely to convert.

search-query-classification-funnel

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Every searcher starts with intent. This intent, one of the three above, will cause them to act in different ways when they encounter your website.

intention-search-consideration-action

Source

The better you understand the different types of queries, the better you’ll be able to attract just the kind of search traffic that is most likely to convert.

4. Learn that conversion optimization is important.

All these points lead to an overarching lesson: Conversion optimization is really important.

Why? Because conversion optimization looks at the customer who doesn’t convert, and says, “How can we make you more likely to buy?”

Rather than rely on guesswork, conversion optimization begins a rigorous process of research, analysis, and optimization to turn that non-converting traffic into major conversion improvements.

Conversion optimization techniques “improve the effectiveness of your site to boost sales with the same amount of traffic you’re currently receiving.”

You don’t need more traffic to boost your sales. You just need to improve your website.

How does it work? By testing changes. Normally, conversion rate optimizers (CROs) test versions of a website, compare them, and use the one that converts higher.

It’s A/B testing, and it’s insanely effective.

A/B testing, also known as split testing, can produce shocking results. For example, a little headline change pictured below, Version B, boosted conversions by 38%.

versiona-versionb

Source

A new signup form increased this business’s leads by 368%.

versiona-versionb-2

Source

Conversion optimization is the path to higher sales.

Sure, the non-converting customer is no fun. But moving the needle on conversion rates though some patient testing is amazing.

5. Learn more about your customers.

When you discover that your “customers” aren’t really customers after all, you start to wonder, what are they doing? That’s a great question. But it begs a deeper question: Who are my customers anyway?

One of the most effective methods of gaining more sales is understanding who your customers are. How do you do this?

You read their minds.

Reading your customer’s minds isn’t as sinister as it sounds. You can do this effectively, safely, and with zero hypnosis experience. It’s called the persona.

A persona in commerce is defined as “the ideal visitor you want to have take a specific action on your site.” The most popular way for digital marketers to shape personas is by using demographic characteristics such as age, income, location, gender, etc.

Here are some example personas.

personas-at-a-glance

Look at how those personas define the ideal customer. They are focused. They’re not going after “men, aged 35-45.” They’re going after James, 37 who lives in San Francisco, and likes to watch Friends.

A persona needs to be specific because your product is specific. A persona needs to be specific, because you aren’t trying to sell to a mass of incoming search traffic. You’re trying to sell a product to the customer who needs and wants it.

Your persona can be as detailed and as visual as you want. This example persona uses a problem statement to define why the customer is visiting the site. The problem statement is “I’m just not sure what I need to know to get my first mortgage. How do I know I made the right choice?”

persona-detail

This persona problem statement is helpful, because it allows marketers to hone in directly on solving the customer’s problems.

Different analytics platforms including Google Analytics can help you understand your customer demographics in order to make better marketing decisions.

6. Learn more about your competitors.

If your customers don’t convert on your website, then whose site are they converting on?

It’s time to scope out the competition. Chances are, you probably know who your competitors are. But do you know why your potential customers might be defecting to them?

What I recommend is spying on your competition, legally of course. You can use the same tools that you use to analyze your own website. Most of them are free. These tools and techniques can furnish you with a huge amount of information that puts you in complete control of the competition landscape.

The more you know about your competition, the better you can respond.

7. Learn that testing is important.

This is one of the most obvious things to learn from the customers who don’t convert: Testing is important.

Split testing is easily one of the most powerful techniques ever to happen to digital marketing. Although I’ve already spent some time drooling over it in this article, I want to point out here that testing indicates exactly what’s wrong with your website and what fixes it.

The moment you run a test, identify a winning variable, and make a permanent change, things happen. You realize, “Wow! This is powerful stuff!”

Conclusion

If your customers aren’t converting, don’t panic. It’s typical. Instead of responding with frustration, dive in deeper. Discover the information that will make you a more informed and effective marketer.

Non-converting customers are one of the most valuable assets, because they can tell you what’s not working and how to fix it.

What have you learned from customers who don’t convert?

About the Author: is a lifelong evangelist of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

Customer Success Is A Single Digit Hire

We’ve talked on SaaStr about leaning in on Customer Success as much as possible. We’ve walked through why Second Order Revenue (i.e., the revenue ultimately generated or supported by Customer Success) is the key to growing a SaaS business. We’ve talked about how all the Second Timers are hiring in customer success way early, ahead of sales, ahead of revenue.

And it’s been fun to see lots of startups and bigger companies internalize this.

Yet still … people wait.  They wait too long.  To hire in customer success.  Even when they know they shouldn’t.

They wait for two reasons:

  • first, it’s another headcount, which costs money, which can seem expensive when you have say just $5k-$10k a month in MRR and 6 months of runway left before you’re out of cash.
  • and second, it can be hard to find someone good, especially in the early days.

Ok, let me help.

First, let’s make a rule, a compact, and a commitment:  You Must Hire your First Customer Success Manager as a “Single Digit” Hire.  I.e., before you get to 10 employees.

And — this is the counterintuitive part — you must do this even though it will NOT impact churn.  Because your early customers, your first customers … they will not churn if they are for real.  Some will churn, yes, but that’s because those ones — you never really had them.  They thought you had Workday integration, but it doesn’t really work yet.  They thought you could have 1,000 concurrent users.  But you can’t.  Etc.

But those early customers that somehow found you, with no brand, no PR team, no Platinum Booth at Dreamforce.  They had an extreme need, so they found you, and … you won’t lose them.  You’ll find a way as founders to keep them happy, even it feels like you’ll almost lose them.  Because they found you because, for some reason, maybe just one small key feature … but for that at least, you’re either unique or better than the competition.  Not overall, but just in one little area.  You’ll find a way to keep that social contract, to keep those super early adopters engaged.

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 9.04.40 AMSo why make this hire when cash is tight?  Because if you don’t hire a dedicated CSM as a single digit hire, your #1 single best source of referrals, case studies, upgrades, PR, more customers … those first, happy customers … won’t produce as much.  Second order revenue works, even in the early days.  Your first enterprise customer, more often than not, will actually get you your second.  They tell their business friends, a colleague at a trade show, etc.  In fact, because they “discovered” you, it will be in their interest to promote you.  That’s how they get kudos, both internally and externally.

Yes, you can hack it as CEO.  You can be reactive, put out fires, visit with them when they happen to be in town.  But it’s not the same as someone whose job it is 24×7 to make those customer happy and be a success.  It’s not.

And second …

Second, your first customer success manager doesn’t have to be perfect.  It’s a relatively plastic role in the early days.  It’s not like sales, where your first 2 sales reps have to really nail it.  It’s probably enough if your first customer success manager just (x) has experience making customer successful, (y) at roughly, vaguely your price point and (z) is proactive.

You don’t have room for reactive folks at this stage.  There’s too much going on.  You need someone that is going to do what it takes to make Google, make Aetna, make whomever, happy and successful.  To deploy, to drive up usage, to train, whatever.

But … you can relax the spec a bit here.  Someone with a good head on their shoulders, with some on-point experience, that is proactive … can do the job decently.  At least for a while, until later you bring in a manager with real experience here managing a team.  Your early CSMs can be utility players … not great at any one thing, but good at getting attention, resources, and figuring things out.  You can hire a Classics major.  It’s OK.

Because in the beginning (and probably always), a Pretty Good customer success manager that is driven and committed, is far, far better than no customer success manager at all.  Far, far better.  Don’t wait until you can hire that magic one from Marketo, from Palantir, from wherever, with the spot-on LinkedIn.

So find a way to hire at least one, that meets the basic spec above, as a Single Digit Hire.  Even if you have to raise another $80k in your SAFE notes, or even cut your own crummy salary, or whatever.

Because getting just that one or two extra second order customers, those one or two extra upgrades, from happy existing customers, is the magic in SaaS.  It compounds.  And those early enterprise customers, down the road, will began 10-20-50 more happy enterprise customers.  If you take care of them.

Make it happen.

How to Double Your Writing Speed Without Lowering Its Quality

writing

How in the world do they do it?

Day after day, they write monstrous posts that are extremely useful and easy to read.

You know the people I’m talking about—you might even consider me to be one of them.

Here’s what a typical week looks like for me in terms of blog content alone:

  • 2 posts on Quick Sprout (1,000-5,000 words each) plus an infographic
  • 2 posts on the NeilPatel.com blog (about 5,000 words each)
  • 2 guest posts on other popular blogs (about 1,500 words each)
  • 0.5-1 blog post for the Crazy Egg blog (about 2 per month at about 2,000 words each)

Total that up, and you get around 17,000 words per week or 3,400 words per weekday.

And I’ve been able to sustain this type of volume for years.

I’m the first to admit that in technical terms, I’m not the best writer. I certainly didn’t go to college to get a degree in English or creative writing. Yet, I have thousands of awesome readers who really enjoy what I write.

There’s a reason I spent much time learning first how to write quality blog posts and then how to write them fast.

Although time is my most valuable resource, I spend a significant chunk of it every week writing. That’s because I know how effective content marketing can be for a business.

But I’m far from the only one.

Contently found that 41% of businesses struggle with creating enough content.

image05

Wouldn’t it be easier to create more content if you could write faster?

If you need to learn how to write a great post, start by checking out my guide to writing high quality data-driven articles.

If you already write high quality posts but it takes you a long time to do it, then this article is for you. I’m going to show you 11 key concepts that you can start using today to start writing faster.

Imagine being able to write posts in half the time you currently do now! That would free up a lot of time to either write more posts or work on other parts of your business.

An extra few posts a week can greatly speed up your business’ growth, possibly by years. 

1. Get your typing up to speed

No matter how well you can remain focused for long period of times and how fast you can think of what to say, if you can’t type at a decent speed, you’ll never write quickly.

If you’re still pecking at letters, one finger at a time, it’s not going to cut it.

You don’t have to be a master typist, but you should be able to type at least 60 words per minute (60 WPM). If you could type at that speed for an hour straight, that would be 3,600 words per hour. Obviously that’s unrealistic, but you can achieve a decent fraction of that production rate.

I’d like you to take a minute to test your typing speed. Head to Key Hero, and do a quick typing test:

image07

If you’d like to repeat it a few times to get a more accurate result, go ahead.

If your speed is under 60 WPM, you’ll have to fix that before you can worry about any of the other concepts in this article. I know it’s not the most fun thing in the world, but you’ll be grateful you did it in the long run.

Step 1: Use the proper hand placement

To type properly, you should be resting the four fingers of each hand on the keys of the middle row, with your thumbs hovering over the space bar.

image02

If you don’t already do this, it will take a bit of practice for it to feel natural.

Step 2: Don’t look at the keyboard

You should be able to type with your eyes closed—literally. If you can’t, it means you need to practice to get you to the point when typing no longer requires an active focus (the unconscious takes care of it).

Part of this can be your posture. If you’re hunched over while sitting, it’s possible that you’re looking at the keyboard just because that’s where your line of sight is. Do your best to sit up straight when writing.

Step 3: Practice, practice, practice

Kids these days practice typing from a young age, but you might not have been so lucky. The good news is that you can find online tools to help you practice and learn. One example is the Key Hero practice tools. If you need more instruction from the beginning, use a typing tutor tool:

image00

Alternative: Try speech-to-text software

You have a number of speech-to-text tools you can use, e.g., TalkTyper (free), Ivona (paid), and Dragon Naturally Speaking (paid). These tools allow you to simply talk to your computer while it records your words and whatever punctuation you indicate.

While you can obviously talk faster than you can type, there are some downsides to this method. The free or cheap tools aren’t always accurate, and it can take a lot of time to fix the mistakes those programs make. Even the expensive ones aren’t perfect, and they also have a steep learning curve at first.

It’s not the first option I’d recommend, but if for some reason you aren’t able to type, or type quickly, it’s a decent backup.

2. Don’t forget your ideas: make a list

How much time do you waste trying to come up with a good idea for a blog post?

It’s hard enough if you’re just writing a couple of them a week, but if I had to come up with ideas for all the posts I write one at a time, I don’t know if I could do it.

The good news is: there’s a better way. It’s called an idea list.

Coming up with ideas on demand can be difficult because it’s a creative task. Creativity comes and goes as we observe and experience different things in our lives. It’s why book writers often take years to write their novels.

You can’t just sit down and say to yourself, “Okay brain, start coming up with great ideas.”

Instead, you need to develop your idea muscle so that you can spontaneously come up with many ideas throughout the day.

The concept of an idea muscle was coined by James Altucher, who says that as you practice coming up with ideas, you get better at it.

“Every situation you are in, you will have a ton of ideas. Any question  you are asked, you will know the response. Every meeting you are at, you will take the meeting so far out of the box you’ll be on another planet, if you are stuck on a desert highway – you will figure the way out, if you need to make money you’ll come up with 50 ideas to make  money, and so on.” — James Altucher

He advises to start by trying to come up with at least 10 ideas throughout the day.

Here’s the second part: record them. Not all of these ideas will be good, but some will be, and others may lead you to good ideas.

You can use a simple notepad from the dollar store, or you can do what the team at Buffer does and record ideas in Trello:

image09

An alternative: create a repeatable strategy

I’ve already shown you how to steal ideas for your next post. This is a strategy that you can use over and over again to get inspiration for post ideas.

It’s still not a good idea to come up with post ideas as you need them—it’s inefficient. Instead, schedule a block of time, maybe an hour, every week or month (depending on your post volume). Use this time to use your strategy to come up with as many ideas as you can.

Instead of coming up with a single idea in 10 minutes every time you need one, you can come up with five times the number of ideas in the same time frame once you get some momentum going.

Either way, you’ll be able to cut down on time coming up with ideas and focus more time and energy on the actual writing.

3. Get rid of distractions

Distractions are everywhere, especially on the computer.

The urge to check email, visit social media sites, or just click a bookmark to go to your favorite site to kill time is strong.

Maybe you’d rather check your search engine rankings again or website traffic instead of writing a post, which seems way less fun.

If you give into these urges, your productivity is going to go way down. But even if you don’t, those urges in the back of your head are going to distract you and prevent you from being as productive as possible.

In real life, there are even more distractions, especially if you work from home. Kids running around, people talking on the phone or watching TV, and temptation to take a break and grab a snack.

Distractions are everywhere.

You’ll never get rid of them all, but you can get rid of many, which will greatly boost your writing speed.

Distraction elimination #1: Work in an office or quiet space

Noise kills writing productivity. You need to be able to hear your thoughts uninterrupted. If you work from home, designate a room as your office, and make sure that no one disturbs you while the door is closed.

If you’re working at an office or co-working space, keep your door closed while writing. Tell any friends or coworkers to not disturb you while the door is closed unless there is an emergency.

If neither of those are realistic, head to a library. Libraries are quiet, and some even have dedicated rooms for silent work.

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Distraction elimination #2: Turn off the tunes

Who doesn’t like music? Wouldn’t it be more fun to write while listening to Taylor Swift?

Well, sure, it will be more fun, but it will slow you down when you are writing.

Studies have shown that music is a distraction that slows down complex thought processes. So while music might help you with simple, straight-forward tasks such as lifting more in the gym, it’s going to slow down your writing.

But that’s not the full story. Those studies looked typical lyrical music.

2012 study showed that low to moderate levels of ambient noise can actually lead to slightly higher creative output.

Similarly, another study showed that baroque classical music can increase mood and productivity. Note that classical music rarely has any lyrics. It is soft and consistent.

So you have two options: work with no music or work with low to medium volume ambient noise or classical music.

To have some ambient sound in the background, you can use tools such as A Soft Murmur or Simply Noise.

Distraction elimination #3: Lock-down distracting websites

If you have trouble staying on task, you can block certain trouble websites for a designated time period. There are many plugins that can do this, e.g., Strict Workflow for Chrome.

You simply tell the plugin which sites you’d like blocked and for how long, and you won’t be able to access them until the time period is up.

In addition, you can hide your bookmarks bar if you’re working inside a web text application such as Google Docs. Just right-click any empty space in the bookmarks bar and uncheck “show bookmarks bar.”

Distraction elimination #4: Write offline

If blocking distracting sites doesn’t work, you can take it to the next level and disconnect your Internet altogether. Writing offline will eliminate all online distractions.

Distraction elimination #5: Finish all important tasks before writing

Sometimes it’s hard to focus because there’s something else important that you need to do during the day. If you’re thinking about this in the back of your head, your writing speed will go down.

Instead, think about doing any distracting tasks upfront, and then come back to writing later.

4. Outline your post beforehand

Before I write any post, I always outline it.

When you outline a post, you get a really clear idea of how you will be making the point you’re trying to make as well as any research or resources you’ll need to make the article as strong as possible.

You’ll notice that all of my posts have an introduction section (like everyone else’s posts would have) and also a conclusion section.

The headlines of the other sections will depend on the type of post I’m writing. There are 12 main types of posts, and I have general outlines for all of them.

The outlines don’t need to take very long to put together. Their main point is to make sure you’re not missing any important pieces of the puzzle.

I write out all the subheadlines (H2s) in the article as well as a few main bullet points below each to remind me what I should cover.

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When I get to each section while writing, I don’t have to remember what I had in mind for this section before—it’s already there.

5. Research comes first

What do you think is easier to write about for me: how to ride a horse or how to write a good blog post?

Of course, how to write a good blog post is a simpler topic for me because it’s a topic that I have a lot of experience and expertise in.

The first step is to become an expert on the topic you’re writing about. It’s easy to talk/write about something you know well but difficult if you’re trying to put the pieces together as you go.

Take my nutrition blog case study. I’m not a nutrition expert, and I didn’t have the time to invest in becoming well-versed in the subject so that I could write about it credibly. That’s why I had Mike take over content creation.

This doesn’t mean you need to be an expert from day one, but you need at the very least to learn about the specific topic you’re writing about before starting.

Otherwise, task switching is going to kill your writing speed.

What’s task switching? It’s a concept that refers to having to switch between different activities. For example, having to switch from writing mode to research mode because you don’t understand a concept you need for a particular article.

While some may multitask better than others, we all are more productive when we focus on a single task.

Dr. David Meyer and colleagues conducted a study in 2001 to quantify the effects of task switching. He had subjects try to switch between different tasks such as solving math problems and naming geometric objects.

When both problems were simple, subjects didn’t lose much time going back and forth. But as the tasks became complex, the subjects lost more and more time with each switch.

It’s hard to pin down the exact cost of switching, but Meyer estimated that it could cost someone up to 40% of their productivity for complex tasks. Make no mistake, writing and researching are complex tasks.

Every time you have to switch, it not only takes a bit of time (up to a few seconds) to get into the right mindset, but it also fatigues you. Just thinking about having to switch back and forth several times an hour makes me tired.

Here’s the takeaway: learn everything you need to know about the topic you are writing about before you write a single word. This means that you should note down any relevant statistics, resources, or findings from studies beforehand.

6. Write first, edit later

Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft of anything is garbage.”

I’m not sure how much fiction you read, but Hemingway was one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.

He won a Nobel Prize in Literature and a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction before he died. Even now, we remember his writing genius.

If Hemingway thought his first drafts were garbage, imagine what he’d think of mine or yours.

So, you basically have two options if you want to write a post that doesn’t suck.

First, you can continually edit each sentence and paragraph as you go. Or you can write your first draft like most prolific writers do, and then edit later.

Both can produce a good article, but I’ll tell you why the second option is by far the best choice.

If you continually switch between writing and editing, you have the same problem that we looked at before: task switching. You’re asking your brain to switch from trying to write to trying to edit. This kills any writing momentum you have and makes you start from scratch every sentence or paragraph.

When you write—just write—you can focus on writing only. This allows your mind to focus on what you should write now and what should come next. Similarly, when you’re editing, all your focus can be on “how can I make this better?” instead of also trying to think of what needs to be said next.

In my experience, Meyer’s guess of about a 40% decrease in productivity from task switching is probably about right.

Write first, edit second.

7. Take (smart) breaks

Unless you’re a robot, you need breaks. All people get tired.

Sure, you can get stronger over time, but you’ll still need breaks.

Everyone’s different in this aspect. Some need frequent breaks, while others only need breaks after a few hours. It depends on how much you enjoy writing, your writing ability, and a few personal factors.

If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend the Pomodoro Technique. Yes, pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian, so essentially it’s a tomato technique. It’s named after the timer that the creator used:

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It was designed in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. Even though it’s not new, it hasn’t been until the last decade or so that it really became popular as a productivity technique.

Here’s how it works:

  • You set a timer for 25 minutes
  • You work until the timer finishes
  • You take a 5 minute break
    • All of that is one Pomodoro

Now you repeat that process four times. After the 4th 30-minute period, you take a 15-20 minute break.

You can either buy a pomodoro timer or just use this online tomato timer.

This procedure is supposed to keep you focused and fresh while working.

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For accountability purposes, you are supposed to start the day by making a to-do list of what you’d like to accomplish.

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You put an “X” beside each item to indicate how many pomodoro periods (25 minutes of work) it took to finish.

“You will probably begin to notice a difference in your work or study process within a day or two. True mastery of the technique takes from seven to twenty days of constant use.”

The final piece of the system is dealing with interruptions. There are two types of interruptions: internal and external.

Internal interruptions are thoughts that are distracting you from working. With this system, if they are important tasks, you are supposed to write them down on your to-do sheet so that you can be sure they will get done later.

External interruptions are from other people and things (phones, emails, etc.). The pomodoro system suggests to deal with such interruptions as quickly as possible. Tell the people who want your attention now to come back later or promise them you’ll call them back as soon as you can (on a break). In the meantime, get back to work.

8. Give yourself a deadline

Parkinson’s law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

This means if you give yourself too much time to finish something, or that you don’t think it matters when you finish it, it will take longer to do. Either you’ll procrastinate because you know you can do it quickly, or it’ll become increasingly complex, which will result in accomplishing something other than what you set out to do.

Think about how most people study for a test. They put it off as long as possible and then cram everything in at the last possible minute.

While it’s not optimal from a learning point of view, it illustrates that people are capable of working extremely quickly when there’s a firm deadline that must be met.

The problem many professional writers have is that they give themselves a day to write a post, even if they may not need it. They say that if they finish early, they’ll start working on something else—but they never do finish early because the work expands to fill the available time.

When you start writing a post, you need to have a clear idea of what you want to include in the post, nothing more. Then, give yourself a deadline for writing the post, which is equal to the minimum amount of time you think you might need.

Remember that this is just for writing the post, which you want to do as quickly as possible. The quality really comes from the editing. You should still have a deadline, but don’t make it strict since you will need your creativity and careful thought.

Don’t limit deadlines to your writing only. You can also set a deadline for checking emails in the morning. Most people spend over 2 hours on email a day, when they could probably reduce it to two 10-minute periods, in the morning and at night, if they set a hard deadline.

9. Write during your most productive time

You’ve heard that some people work better in the morning and some at night, right?

Morning people are called “early birds,” while people who prefer the night are called “night owls.”

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It turns out that there’s a significant amount of science backing up this phenomenon. German scientists found that night owls had a different brain composition than early risers.

This affects your circadian rhythm, which is responsible for controlling your sleep schedule and alertness throughout your day. Dr. Katherine Sharkey says that night owls have longer circadian rhythms than early risers.

We don’t need to know exactly how it works to see how it affects how we write.

If you find that you’re much more productive in the morning, write in the morning.

If you find that you’re much more productive in the evening, write in the evening.

Simple.

You will accomplish more in one really productive hour of writing than you would with more time but struggling to focus.

10. Use simple words

Do you ever pause while writing in order to think of the perfect word?

If so, you’re wasting time.

When it comes to blog posts, or any type of web content, your writing should be simple.

People have very limited attention spans and like to skim. Jakob Nielson collected data that shows an average visitor reads just 20-28% of the words in a post. If they can’t skim it, they usually skip it. That means your perfect word won’t even be read by most.

When you read complex words, it takes longer to understand them. It’s partly because they are complex words, but it’s also because we don’t see them often.

So not only do complicated words and sentences confuse and deter your readers but they also slow down your writing. Instead of just stopping and thinking about which word to use, write the simplest alternative that comes to mind.

Instead of “convoluted,” write “complex”.

Instead of “disastrous,” write “poor”.

Instead of “proficiency,” write “skill.”

Get what I’m saying? Here are 24 more examples.

If you want to see how you’re doing, put one of your blog posts into this readability score calculator.

Here are the Flesch-Kincaid grade level scores of a few popular writers. I write at about a 4th-grade level. If you use complex words often, your score will be much higher.

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11. The one factor behind all great writers

I’ve given you 10 concepts so far that can help you write faster without rushing and sacrificing quality.

Even if you apply all of these overnight, you still won’t write as quickly as I do by tomorrow.

Writing quickly takes practice, a lot of practice.

Malcolm Gladwell estimates that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. If you write five hours a day, five days a week, that’s about eight years.

I’m probably getting pretty close to that number.

But even if you’re not close, you will get better every step of the way there. So, don’t get discouraged if you can only write 300 words per hour right now. Over time, if you’re truly working on writing faster, it will creep up to 310, then 320, then 350, and so on…

In just a year or two, you might be writing 1,000 words per hour—sooner if you’re a quick learner.

Imagine that for a second: you could effectively double or triple the value of your time. That’s huge.

Conclusion

If you apply just one concept in this article, you can probably increase your writing speed by over 10% within a few days.

If you currently write for 20 hours a week at a rate of 500 words per hour, a 10% improvement alone will give you an extra 1,000 words per week. This is about an article a week for most blogs or 52 extra articles per year without spending any extra time.

If you really take the concepts I’ve laid out here to heart and apply more than one, you could see an even bigger improvement.

Leave me a comment below, letting me know how fast you currently write and how you will attempt to write faster (and let me know how long it takes to type it out!).

15 Traits of the Most Brilliant Conference Speakers

What separates brilliant conference speakers from the also rans, the meh, the downright painful? Whether you are speaking at Business or Software Conference or a small group of colleagues, here are some thoughts on what the very best speakers do to be so great. It was prompted by a question…

“Hi Mark:

Myself and our COO attended BoS 2014, and we are sending 3 people this year.

We are doing our own user conference in October. If we could get our speakers to anywhere near BoS levels (of quality), I would be ecstatic.

Do you have any published guidelines/tips for your speakers that you could share with me?

Thanks in advance.”

We tend not to publish guidelines or calls for speakers.

We get a lot of inbound inquiries (of varying quality) already and while they occasionally bring undiscovered gems, given the significant pressure on speaker slots – 14 over the course of 2.5 days, we generally tend to end up curating content that we believe will carry a high level story across the event. It means that we put a lot of time into researching speakers, taking suggestions from others, looking at previous talks speakers have given and trying to understand how their style and approach will resonate with the audience. Ideally, we will have listened to a speaker live and in person before we commit to a talk. We don’t always get it right but we try.

In my experience, most of the best speakers have the following things in common…

  1. THEY NEVER SELL Everyone hates this. Everyone hates you when you do it. It means people are less likely to buy your product. People want you go away.
  2. They understand the audience they are speaking to, deliver a talk or a message that is relevant to that audience. (This is often not the case with high profile speakers pitched by speaker agencies (we will not do business with them. They have a great, repeatable, schtick that they rely on to distract the audience from the fact that they are doing it for the money.).
  3. They genuinely care about the subject, the community they are in, the people who are listening. They would come to the event even if they were not speaking not just to learn from the other speakers, they learn from the other attendees. (In the Business of Software Community for example, Peldi, Alex Osterwalder, Des Traynor, Derek Sivers are regular attendees at the conference whether they speak or not).
  4. They use Fonts, Text and Images appropriately. Never read from a slide. Make slides readable from the back. (Make text size double the size of the conference organiser i.e. 90 Point text this year).
  5. They deliver new content. There is always someone in an audience that has seen someone’s talk before. The best speakers will always introduce some new slides, some new ideas, some new content.
  6. They are utterly prepared. They send slides through in advance – not because the organiser demands it, but because they want feedback on their talk. We love helping people develop talks and have found that speakers are often very grateful for honest feedback and collaborative approach. They turn up early for the event and run their slides through to check everything. They ask about mics, backup plans, where they will be sitting, we ask them how they want to be introduced, what music to play.
  7. They engage with and ask questions of the audience. It is not about them, sitting still for an hour is hard for me. Audience interaction makes for a much more switched on audience. Whether it is a show of hands to ask what people do, where they have come from, active solicitation of questions, this helps to form a bond with the group. It also gives people permission to move, to fidget, to get their circulation going thus pushing more oxygen to the brain.
  8. They’re humble. Confident about the things they know they know. They don’t rely on talking about themselves and their successes. They definitely don’t drop names “I asked Zuck” really means, “I am very important”. It probably also means they were in a room, alongside 6,000 other people and asked an audience question. You can also guarantee that they don’t have ‘International Keynote Speaker’, ‘Sought After Speaker’, ‘International Best Selling Author and Motivational Speaker’ on their LinkedIn profile.
  9. They are givers, not takers. They are not there to crap wisdom or news of their latest project on an audience. They are there to share ideas and learn from others. One of the things we have consciously tried to do at Business of Software Conferences is create and environment where people come in ‘LISTEN’ mode, not ‘BROADCAST’. So much of the conventional wisdom around the value of conferences is that they are great places to let people know about your company. Most often, they aren’t as everyone goes with the attitude that they want to talk about their launch, their product, their latest funding round. The noise of 3,000 people pitching themselves drowns out the valuable content.
  10. They’re good at Jazz. They know their material inside out. They have practiced it, practiced it, practiced it again. They have thought about their messages and played them back in practice many times – by videoing themselves, recording themselves, speaking to small groups. They aren’t reading from a script, they’re in control but can improvise effortlessly.
  11. They operate in slow motion. They leave lots of time for thought and punctuation. Typically, they won’t run on stage talking as they go. They take a moment or two to stop, look out at the audience, make eye contact with people, compose themselves and signal to the audience that we are all set to go. They speak more slowly than they do if you were talking with them in a social situation. They know that less is more.
  12. They focus on the positive. Many speakers have told me that sometimes an audience can be quiet, disengaged, even hostile. (Obviously not at our events!). Who knows why – have they been kept in a room for too long? Have they sat through a series of bad talks. As a speaker, if you look up and see stony-faced, folded-arms or people doing their emails, it can be very off-putting. The trick is to identify the people that are on your side. The eager organisers, the people who are engaged. Make eye contact with them and focus on interacting with them. You will bring the others round.
  13. They always leave people with an action. Inspiring, motivational talks, slick words and strong images are fine but those talks are forgotten if there isn’t at least one thing that the listener can take away and apply to their own lives.
  14. They repeat Audience Questions. Not just for the benefit of filming. It lets the audience hear the question and know what you are talking about.
  15. They stick around. Not just for the event, but by making themselves available via email. We have also started doing ‘Google Hangouts’ with speakers. When we post a talk online, we then have a speaker Hangout a week or so later. it allows a wider audience to ask questions and get involved.

Finally, the best advice for speakers I know of comes from Kathy Sierra.

“I am a UI.

Nothing more.

And what’s a key attribute of a good UI?

It disappears. 

It does not draw attention to itself.

It enables the user experience, but is not itself the experience.

And the moment I remember this is the moment I exhale and my pulse slows. Because I am not important. What is important is the experience they have. My job is to provide a context in which something happens for them.” Kathy Sierra – Presentation Skills Considered Harmful

What are your tips for better speaking? What things have we missed?

You can see talks from past Business of Software Conferences here.

BoS in your inbox.

Get the latest updates direct to your inbox, including conference news, discounts, and BoS video content by signing up here.

The post 15 Traits of the Most Brilliant Conference Speakers appeared first on Business of Software USA.

Your AdWords Account is bleeding – here’s why

I began managing AdWords accounts back in 2005, and over the years I’ve seen many accounts make many mistakes. These have cost advertisers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in wasted AdWords spend.

The people managing the accounts were far from clueless. But the fact is that AdWords isn’t easy, and this type of waste is bound to happen if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

As cynical or paranoid as it may sound, Google benefit from AdWords being so complex.

Google would tell you that they go to great lengths to explain everything within their online help centre, but the fact is that almost every single aspect of AdWords is skewed heavily in Google’s favour. Aside from anything else, who reads the manual?

So here are three of the most common mistakes. Mistakes that will burn through your budgets without much to show for it.

Mistake #1 – one match to rule them all

Using only broad-match keywords or over using them is a really bad idea.

Google’s definition of broad match is as follows:

“A keyword setting that allows your ad to show when someone searches for that keyword or a variation of it. The broad match keyword “bicycle bell” can cause your ad to show if someone searches for variations like “bicycle bells,” “buy a bell for a bicycle,” and “bell reviews for bikes.”

That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to use broad match?

The problem with broad match is the variations. You might think you’re bidding on “bicycle bell” but Google sneak in searches that have nothing to do with your original keyword.

Google make money from each click, and you waste money when the person who clicked on your ad isn’t interested in what you’re offering.

Broad match can be useful, but you should use it with caution. Try a few broad match terms and then track their performance.

If your account contains broad keywords and you’re not monitoring their performance, you’re definitely wasting money.

Mistake #2 – not enough negativity

Using too few or no negative keywords can be lethal.

If you’ve never heard of negative keywords or you’re not regularly trying to find them, you need to pay close attention to this.

Google’s definition of a negative keyword is as follows:

A type of keyword that prevents your ad from being triggered by a certain word or phrase. It tells Google not to show your ad to anyone who is searching for that phrase.

Imagine you’re selling downloadable photo editing software that only runs on a Windows computer.  When bidding on “photo editing software”, your ads could be displayed for the following searches as well: “free photo editing software”, “mac photo editing software” or “photo editing software for linux”.

Worst of all, you might receive clicks from people looking for something that you don’t offer. Why? Because people searching don’t pay close attention to their clicks. They’re not paying for them – you are.

You can stop this from happening by using negative keywords like –free, mac and linux.

By using negative keywords, you’ll reduce wasted ad spend but even more importantly, it will improve your ROI.

When you limit your ad’s display to only those who are truly interested in what you’re offering, you should see an improvement to your click through rate (CTR). Receiving a higher CTR can lead to a lower average cost per click (CPC) because CTR is an indicator for relevance. Google reward advertisers with lower CPCs when they’re more relevant.

Even if you only use exact match keywords, negative keywords are more important than ever. With exact and phrase match, Google is now allowing close variants the ability to trigger your ads. 

Mistake #3 – trust

You may be giving away too much control to Google, or perhaps just trusting them too much.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Google. I really do. But their agenda is rarely the same as yours or mine.

AdWords advertisers want to pay the lowest price for targeted clicks. Google want people to click on your ads or your competitors ads because this is how Google make money.

Sure, Google want people to find what they’re looking for. But never forget that AdWords is Google’s main source of revenue. It’s safe to assume Google won’t always have your interests at heart.

So it’s strange that so many advertisers allow Google to control where their ads are displayed, what triggers their ads and even how much they’re prepared to pay.

Some advertisers even go as far as allowing Google to set up their AdWords accounts. 

My recommendation is to always be sceptical of Google’s claims and suggestions. You need to question all of Google’s defaults within this massive, complex advertising system.

That’s the safest way to not waste your money on AdWords.

6 Problems Lucid Software Solves Using Kissmetrics

As Digital Marketing Manager at Lucid Software, I can really appreciate all the hard work that has been put into Kissmetrics. It’s a valuable tool for tracking, analyzing, and optimizing our marketing efforts, which include many day-to-day tasks that go above and beyond traditional metrics. Below, I’ve outlined six marketing questions Kissmetrics is helping us answer in ways you may not have considered before.

1. Where do I start with my reseller efforts?

When you are just starting up a reseller program like we are, it may not make sense to start paying for a separate tracking solution right away. We are able to credit our resellers and affiliates for the customers that they send our way through their online presence. We don’t need to deploy a whole new solution for this—we simply use Kissmetrics to track the links we provide them.

reseller

Use Kissmetrics to power your own affiliate program

2. How do I tracking content marketing ROI?

Content marketing is all the rage these days. Just as popular as content marketing are the many articles that give advice on measuring ROI. Even if a marketing effort involves multiple pages, it is easy to quickly track the impact of the campaign as a whole when you’re using Kissmetrics. I was able to put a JavaScript tag on all the pages in question with one event. I also set up a property that tracks the page name for the possibility of future granular analysis. This allowed me to group and measure the performance of different KPI metrics like registrations and payments by related content.

3. Is increasing registration conversions impacting revenue?

In the SaaS world, it is very common to offer an evaluation period for your software so that the customer can ‘try before they buy.’ From a marketing standpoint, this can prove to be a challenge because you now have two metrics that you care about:

  1. Trial registration rate
  2. Payment rate.

It’s nice to know that Kissmetrics lets me tie back-end payment information that happens after the fact to the original trial registration. At the end of the day we are interested in the test version that drives the most revenue long-term, not just the version that converts the most people to trial. Kissmetrics makes it easy to keep those two versions distinct.

impacting-revenue

Kissmetrics is great at tracking A/B tests that actually drive revenue months down the road

4. Which of my customers should I be calling to do market research?

I am often interested in learning more about how a segment of our customer base uses our products, Lucidchart and Lucidpress, or how they first learned about us.

Since Kissmetrics ties anonymous visits to our customers once they login, I can go back in time and say “show me everyone that did X events or visited Y page.” I can then use that customer list to do outreach.

This proved very helpful to our team: we were able to effectively do our homework before we reached out, which means the people we were calling actually valued our calls.

market-research

Kissmetrics allows you to do very segmented market research with your own data – no spreadsheets or having to ask developers for data dumps

5. How do I manage my marketing efforts across multiple products?

When you have more than one product, it’s nice to be able to house all your testing and analytics in one place. I personally find this important, because ideas I test on Lucidpress might come from wins we originally got through Lucidchart testing. I can open a new tab and compare the set up on one domain, then quickly set up a test on a completely different revenue stream. Managing multiple domains also allows for another handy feature, which leads into my last question that Kissmetrics helps answer.

6. How can I test my analytics implementation before pushing it live?

Testing can sometimes mean lots of moving parts, so it’s nice to be able to incorporate testing implementation into your QA cycle. We have a development, staging, and production server.

With Kissmetrics we are able to take a look at whether events and properties are being recorded properly in development and staging before they ever get released to production. This is great for me because I can get more eyes on our tests before they go out. Writing the acceptance criteria for the QA team gives me another chance to make sure that all my ducks are in a row.

analytics-deployment

You can set up Kissmetrics on multiple servers – allowing you to make sure your testing and analytics solutions are working on development and staging servers

Bonus: What’s next?

When I sat down to write out some of the possibly lesser-known advantages of Kissmetrics, I limited myself to just the few benefits I could rattle off of the top of my head and use every day.

As a bonus, I want to mention that Kissmetrics is releasing new features on a regular basis. Whether it is robust regex support or their A/B test report, they are always focused on making their product more indispensable. Lucid Software has been a client for years now and we are excited to see what features they add next!

About the Author: Brad Hanks was the first marketing hire at Lucid Software, the creators of Lucidchart, a flow chart maker, and Lucidpress, an online design and page layout tool that makes brochures, among other things.

How The Right Analytics Can Strengthen Customer Engagement

Customer engagement is where the heart is. Data-driven marketing offers industry leaders the opportunity to increase their market growth, while shaping customer satisfaction.

Based on the Forbes Insights and Turn report, “Data Driven and Digitally Savvy: The Rise of the New Marketing Organization,” executives agreed that data-driven marketing is critical in our competitive global economy. Companies embracing this idea are three times more likely than others to say they have achieved a competitive advantage in customer engagement.

Engagement marketing initiates when interested prospects interact with your business. The interaction is more than just talking; both sides must be willing to listen to one another. Your company’s goal is to fulfill their interests, while simultaneously achieving your own business objectives.

Marketing, sales, and customer support managers must work together to create an effective data-driven strategy centered on customer engagement. To attain the best results, your team should integrate a variety of marketing techniques.

Encourage dialogue between your consumers and brand. Improve your strategy with these four approaches:

1. Segment Customers with Personalization

Specificity gives your business the flexibility to cater to your customers’ needs and desires. Commit to learning more about who they are as people. Target visitors based on their lifestyles, not demographics.

Start by defining realistic goals for your big data projects. Setting expectations can secure buy-in within your organization. Moreover, it filters out the big data hype.

Get personal with advertising. Gathering consumer data should help you advertise effectively. No more guessing what product works best for your customers. Data facilitates wise decision-making for the budget.

Leverage data by segmenting your website visitors, and then serve up targeted ads based on users’ interests. You will ensure that the right ads reach the right visitors.

According to AdAge.com, when the computer technology company Lenovo implemented this method, its “click-through rates increased by 30% and resulted in greater conversions and sales.”

Customer-Specific Needs

Be different than your competitors. By aggregating and analyzing more information faster, your team can create smarter campaigns—leading to better customer engagement.

Brands should strive to gain an accurate description of their customers. Then, create personalized messages that stimulate action. According to BtoB Magazine, “real-time analytics create a better link between CRM and email analytics.”

Image1_doogyloot

Source: 5 Incredible Examples of Personalized Marketing – Pardot

Doggyloot segments its potential customers differently: by the size of their friendly pets. Follow their lead by producing customized ads and sending intentional emails. As Marketing Sherpa mentions, it doesn’t make any sense to give a 10-pound bone to a five-pound dog.

Take Action

  • Define segmentation within your company.
  • Design advertisements with the customers’ needs in mind.
  • Develop smart campaigns with consumer data.

2. Set Behavioral Triggers

Evaluate customers’ interactions. You will gain new perspectives on how to effectively engage people with your brand. When clients click on a particular button or sign up for a specific mailing list, their behavior should signal a reaction from your team.

Don’t just collect the data. Dig deep and monitor the dynamic behavior of your customers. Identify behavioral outliers, patterns, and associated contexts. Every communication is prompt by “an accurate reflection of the customer’s current behaviors and needs.”

Further, detect your customers’ next moves. The old practice was to let your team study the analytics from a historical perspective. But for today’s marketing, you need analytics that present a forward-looking view. Predicting behavioral patterns lead to better timing for customer engagement.

To increase the duration of engagement, prevent people from stopping. In the computer game industry, when players get bored, the game displays new tasks to complete, in addition to the main activity.

So, how does this relate to your business? Prevent customer inactivity by stopping the boredom cycle. Analyze what’s “boring” about your product, website, or customer service. Then, identify opportunities to introduce new mechanisms of engagement.

Behavior-Triggered Email Campaigns

Email with a purpose. Through automation, you can produce email campaigns that engage consumers and convert them into buyers.

Focus on sending emails triggered by your customers’ behaviors. Analyze the campaign’s success by measuring the program ROI, revenue per email, and customer lifetime value.

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Source: Behavior-Triggered Email Campaigns Win and Keep Customers

Take a proactive stance. For example, recover lost revenue from abandoned carts. Compose an email to remind your customers of their abandoned product. Offer to answer any questions or provide a discount to encourage purchase completion. When creating behavior-triggered email campaigns, think about customer value to increase your bottom line.

Take Action

  • Analyze your customers’ behavioral patterns.
  • Use predictive modeling to adjust to the future needs of your customers.
  • Keep your customers “active” in your brand with ancillary tasks.
  • Create email campaigns based on customers’ actions.

3. Create Ongoing Conversations

Customers expect a certain level of communication with your brand. Whether you desire feedback or not, people will share their opinions about your business. Monitor and manage customer sentiment by boosting your competency in real-time reporting.

Ian Lurie, author of Conversation Marketing: Common Sense Internet Strategies, reveals that conversation marketing is direct and conservative. Instead of the used car salesman tactic, this marketing technique strives to ask customers questions about their likes and dislikes. It’s not constantly telling people: Buy me!

Conversation marketing leverages technology to build and maintain relationships with customers. The key is to maximize sales over a customer lifetime, not just a single purchase.

ROI and revenue may not effectively measure method. Optimize conversational marketing with conceptual analytics.

Consider examining your Net Promoter Score. Think about how messages induce responses and how competitive messages influence customers’ perceptions. Investing in metrics that measure loyalty can impact how you approach the customer lifecycle.

No Sales Pitch Necessary

Listen intently to your customers. Pay attention to their tone and word choice. What emotions are connected to their responses? Then, customize the conversation. Engaging with a listening ear can eliminate many challenges.

Remember a cultural shift has occurred. Consumers desire open communication. However, a door exists between you and customer, and the consumer wants to control when the door opens. That’s why spam blockers and caller ID exist! So, deliver messages when and where the customer wants them. Talk with your customers—not at them.

Show customers you’re listening without a “hidden” agenda. For example, let’s look at the viral blue/black vs. white/gold dress debate. As the conversation exploded on social media channels, brands joined with their own messages. See Tide’s tweet below.

Image3_Tide

The tweet received thousands of retweets and favorites. Tide got its brand message across minus the sales pitch. Join the conversation by acting quickly and creating a relevant real-time message.

Take Action

  • Investigate the best place and time to talk to your consumers.
  • Don’t start customer conversations with a sales pitch.
  • Participate in real-time discussions.

4. Influence Brand Ambassadors

Your team isn’t the only entity influencing people to try (or not try) your service. Experts and high-ranking YouTube reviewers are dictating how customers interact with your brand. Be available to keep them honest. Research and seek ways to collaborate with influencers.

Start by investing in your people. Employees are the most important assets of an organization. Their performance dictates the growth of the business. Therefore, practice employee evangelism.

Make customer engagement a responsibility for all team members. Specify everyone’s roles in ensuring profitable customer relationships.

Your workforce is an extension of your brand’s personality. If employees are valued, brand influencers will notice the investment.

Ambassador Programs

Brand ambassadors humanize your brand.

Create a community. Let your customers see how their peers are benefiting from your services. They will be inspired to communicate and share success stories.

Brand ambassadors should be genuinely interested in your company. They should have the time and passion to give a wholehearted effort in expressing how your brand makes a difference in people’s lives. To develop a sense of community, host an event or party for ambassadors to meet one another.

Recognize and reward ambassadors. Think beyond monetary gifts. Mention members on social media. Give them cool swag, like a gift package of stickers and apparel.

In return, your brand ambassadors will become more loyal. The “Loyalty Ripple Effect” points out that customers can contribute to their own satisfaction by their participation.

Image4_loyaltygraph

Source: 12 Reasons You Need Brand Ambassadors Now

How valuable are your brand ambassadors? Measure the effectiveness of the program. Revamp based on the results you desire. Evaluating performance will lead to more improvements and opportunities.

Take Action

  • Designate customer engagement responsibilities for employees.
  • Challenge your customers by granting higher levels of engagement.
  • Measure the effectiveness of ambassadors’ actions on your business.

Conclusion

We are all connected. Our society lives and breathes “connectedness” with our devices.

Learn your consumers’ behaviors and give your loyal evangelists an opportunity to join the brand. Analytics will support your efforts as you gain momentum.

To be successful, toss out the old ideas of traditional marketing and embrace customer engagement.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, the law and social responsibility. She inspires a new breed of innovative attorneys at Hearsay Marketing. Connect with her on Twitter: @shaylaprice

[CLZ News] CLZ Music 3.0 / Core for Movies / What’s New in Connect?

Despite the current heat wave in the Netherlands, the work on all our cataloging solutions is continuing.
This is the June 2015 edition of the CLZ Newsletter, with full details on last month’s releases, plus a quick overview of What’s Cooking:

  • The final 3.0 app for Android is live: CLZ Music!
  • Report movie data errors and missing movies to Core.
  • New: “What’s New” blog for Connect & the CLZ Cloud viewer.
  • What’s cooking? This is coming up next month.

The final 3.0 app for Android is live: CLZ Music!

Finally! All our mobile apps (iOS and Android) are at the same level!
Because earlier this month, we released the last v3 version: CLZ Music 3.0 for Android. A huge step for CLZ Music as it completely skips version 2 and jumps straight on to version 3.0 :-)

What’s new in CLZ Music 3.0 for Android?

  • CLZ Music is now a fully stand-alone music cataloging app:
    • Add albums to your mobile music database, by Artist/Title or by Barcode
    • Edit albums right there on your device.
  • Synchronize data through the CLZ Cloud with the new Cloud Syncing 2.0 system.
  • New layout for tablet devices, optimized for larger screens.
  • New Carbon style template for details panel.

This is a FREE update for everyone who already owned an earlier version. If you don’t own CLZ Music yet, just search the Play Store on your Android device for “CLZ Music” and buy it there (US $14.99).

Report movie data errors and missing movies to Core!

Also released this month: updates for both the PC and Mac editions of Movie Collector v15, with improved Core for Movies reporting tools:

  • Reporting Core data errors:
    If you spot an error in the movie data provided by our Core online database, you can now easily report it to us, by either:

    1. Choosing Report Error to Core straight from the Add Movie Automatically screen.
      This will take you to a form on the website where you can make the correction yourself, then submit it to our moderators.

    2. Using Submit to Core from the main screen or Edit Movie screen.
      This lets you upload your local data for a movie to the “Report to Core” form on the website and use that to fix or enrich our central Core data.

  • Report Missing Movie now allows ANY website URL
    Just let us know which movies are missing and we’ll add them!
    Previously this required an IMDb ID/URL, but now, when a movie is not on IDMb, you can also point us to any other website (e.g. an online shop) that shows the DVD or Blu-ray you’re missing.

Thanks for your help improving our Core movie database!

New: “What’s New” blog for Connect & the CLZ Cloud viewer

Currently, both Dion and Sven are working on Connect and the CLZ Cloud viewers FULL-TIME, that is how important we think these tools are.
Before you know it, Connect will be completely on par with our desktop editions. Who knows, Connect may even surpass them in some areas!

To help you keep track of the continuous improvements, we have create a new What’s New blog that highlights all changes and additions to both the paid Connect software and the free CLZ Cloud viewers.

Here’s an overview of recent changes (click the links to read the full blog entry with screen shots):

What’s cooking? This is coming up next month!

  • 8 extra cloud syncing fields in the CLZ Cloud for books!
    (Plot, Dewey, LoC Classification, LoC Control Number, Country, Language, Width & Height)
    And of course the necessary updates for all Book editions.

  • v15.2 for all Mac editions, with a re-imagining of the main screen behaviour.
  • CLZ Barry 2.0, with more stable connections and a fresh user interface.
  • Updates for PC & Mac editions with a new CLZ Cloud toolbar area.

One Entrepreneur’s Story: Joseph Michael / Learn Scrivener Fast

One Entrepreneur’s Story: Joseph Michael / Learn Scrivener Fast

“It started as a whim in a coffee shop,” explains Joseph Michael, creator of Learn Scrivener Fast, an online course that teaches students how to use the popular writing program Scrivener.

“I had been trying to get a pizza delivery job, but got rejected over and over. I just wanted to make some extra dough on the side.” The pun may have been intentional, but there was nothing funny about Joseph’s financial situation back then.

Scrivener is a popular writing tool for authors. It focuses on structure and editing tools for long-form text. Bestselling novelist Michael Marshall Smith called Scrivener “the biggest software advance for writers since the word processor.” In the Mac App store Scrivener had 688 reviews and a solid 5-star average at the time this article was written.

Scrivener has quite the buzz in the author community, and Joseph Michael noticed it at just the right time.

Hope, Failure, Hope, Failure

In 2013, Joseph attended a financial conference called FinCon in St. Louis. He sat in the audience and listened to speaker after speaker tell stories of how they gained financial independence, many of them through blogging and entrepreneurship.

Joseph was hungry to earn more money to support his family. He was tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck off his salary from his job in the marketing department at a casino headquarters.

Joseph attended Fincon to get some skills and inspiration. Chase will speaking at Fincon this year.

Joseph attended FinCon to get some skills and inspiration. Chase will speaking at Fincon this year.


He had tried to build a side income for years. He tried everything, including multi-level marketing and real estate flipping. All through his 20s Joseph was determined to be different and to earn a living independently, but nothing worked out. Eventually he caved to family pressure and self doubt. “It’s OK, just be content with having a job, maybe this was all just a fantasy,” he remembers thinking.

Joseph had a daughter and went back to college. There were many times where he thought he would be laid off from his job. He went through “an intense emotional struggle” and eventually decided again, “I have to do something for myself, I need a financial cushion.”

That’s when he started applying for pizza delivery jobs. He applied to a few and kept getting rejected, because he had no experience as a driver.


“I have to do something for myself, I need a financial cushion.”


There was something still cooking in the back of Joseph’s mind, beyond just earning extra income. Specifically, he wanted a delivery job so he could listen to books on tape to educate himself. The dream was still alive despite all the failure.

After the delivery job rejections, he started researching how people make money online. At first he worried it was all a scam, just like his experience with network marketing.

Then he stumbled on Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income. Through Pat and others, Joseph realized this online business thing could be honest and real, that you can help people and create win-win situations.

He became obsessed, started following everyone he could find who wrote about online business. He listened to and devoured everything he could find about building a business on the web.

Then he started a blog himself called Efficient Life Skills.

Efficient Life Skills was a start, but it still wouldn’t become the source of income Joseph needed so badly.

He tried to write some ebooks and sell them through his new blog. He saw people making money from ebooks and spent six months building one himself, but it never saw the light of day. He charged $39 and nobody bought it.

Despite this being yet another failure, and a big one, Joseph felt like he had learned something important. He called this his biggest failure and biggest success at the same time. He was determined to try again, but vowed to himself: “no more making stuff before finding out what people want.”

Redemption

Eleven months after Joseph attended FinCon in his home town of St. Louis, he went to FinCon 2014 in New Orleans, this time not as an attendee but as a speaker.

“Last year I was you, in your seats, wondering if this whole internet business thing could work for me. This month my business earned $40,000.”

Joseph tells this story with pride in his voice, and you can imagine why. After nearly a decade of trying and failing, over and over, he was redeemed. His wife summed it up one day: “Wow, this actually worked the way you said it would. The money, the lifestyle.”

After nearly a decade of trying and failing, over and over, he was redeemed.

The breakthrough success for Joseph all came together in about a year. After his “find out what people want before you build it” revelation, he started looking for specific problems people were facing online.

Joseph learned about Evernote Essentials by Brett Kelly and found a new model for how he could build a product.

Joseph learned about Evernote Essentials by Brett Kelly and found a new model for how he could build a product.

He followed Michael Hyatt, who recommended a book by Brett Kelly called Evernote Essentials. Joe dove into Brett’s story about how Evernote Essentials came about. He learned that Brett loved Evernote and wrote a book about it. Evernote Essentials became a huge hit and Brett even got a job with Evernote after Evernote’s management read his book. He had sold thousands and thousands of copies of Evernote Essentials. Joseph thought, “why couldn’t the Brett Kelly model work for me?”

Around the same time, he started using Scrivener and really liked it. Then he started noticing everyone talking about Scrivener. It was like one of those moments when you buy a new car and suddenly notice everyone else driving the same car.

Then Joseph read a post by Michael Hyatt titled 5 Reasons I Switched to Scrivener for All My Writing. The post had hundreds of social media shares and, more importantly, hundreds of comments from people with questions and issues about Scrivener. Many of them were asking if a course on how to use Scrivener existed. (Note: it looks as if Michael Hyatt disabled comments on that post. The comments are no longer there, but the social media shares are now in the 1000s.)

Joseph thought this might be the problem he’d been looking for. Here was a specific pain point related to a popular piece of software that he already used, without a solution he could find.

He got to work right away on building a course, but Joseph had another problem to contend with: he had a full time job and a family. He barely had time to write blog posts for Efficient Life Skills, let alone build an entire course to sell.

On top of that, Joseph had burned all his credibility with his family and friends after a nearly a decade of business failures. They wrote him off. He couldn’t stomach them finding out about yet another new business idea.


“Joseph had burned all his credibility with his family and friends after a nearly a decade of business failures.”


For his blog and this Scrivener project, he decided not to use his real name out of fear. Joseph Michael isn’t his real name. It’s his first and middle name. His real name is Joseph Nicoletti.

He laughs about the pen name now, but continues to run with it. He built his business around that name and hasn’t found a compelling reason to switch to his real name. It isn’t a secret, but he worries it might be confusing to people, so for now, he’s Joseph Michael online and Joseph Nicoletti to his friends and family.

The pen name was a fairly easy decision. How to get the work done in between his job and family time wasn’t so easy.

He was killing himself trying to write so many articles for Efficient Life Skills. Before the family got up. Late at night. It was exhausting. Day job. Kids. Family. Then writing late at night.

When he decided to start working on the course, Joseph took a hard look at where he was spending time, and identified a potential opening for side work: during his lunch hour. He decided to opt-out of team lunch hours.

He became obsessed with creating this course. He sneaked away any time he could, even in the bathroom. He sacrificed Netflix, golf, and family parties. His family thought he was being rude. It caused a lot of friction.

He worked in his car during lunch hour. He moved his car to a corner of the parking lot, pulled out his laptop, brought his mic (a $50 Blue Snowball with a sock over it), and recorded lessons for the new course in his Honda Civic.

Creating a perfect course was out of the question. Joseph knew he might never finish if he tried to make it perfect. Instead, he just hacked together what he thought would be easiest. He used screen recordings for the lessons instead of fancy on-camera video. He slapped together a WordPress-based site to host the course. He knew his course wouldn’t look as polished as he would want, but at least he’d get it done.


“Creating a perfect course was out of the question. Joseph knew he might never finish if he tried to make it perfect.”


He created Learn Scrivener Fast mostly during lunch breaks. It took a long time, but day after day it added up. He finally launched Learn Scrivener Fast in January 2014.

Product First, then Audience

Joseph built Learn Scrivener Fast to solve a specific problem, but he didn’t have easy access to the people who had this problem. His blog was on a completely different topic. After he launched his course he had to find his customers.

Learn Scrivener Fast never had an official “launch.” He quietly released it and then started searching for customers.

At first he went on Twitter and searched for people talking about Scrivener, helped them out for free, and then said “by the way, I have this course for sale.” It worked. People started buying his course (which was priced at $39 at the time, mostly due to self-doubt — the course is now priced between $127 and $297, depending on options).

He hustled for his first sales. Then he had a conversation with Brett Kelly (author of Evernote Essentials, who was part of the original inspiration for the course), and Brett told Joseph about using affiliates to sell his course.

Affiliates turned out to be the secret for Joseph. He didn’t have a big audience of writers himself, so he started looking for others.

His first big break came from Michael Hyatt. He met Michael through Twitter, and was very patient. He followed Michael and responded/retweeted his stuff all the time.

Eventually, after lots of Twitter interaction, Michael tweeted this golden opportunity:

Joseph responded to Michael Hyatt with this:

A simple email wouldn’t do. Joseph recorded an iPhone video to show the workflow he proposed for Michael. At the end, he thanked Michael for the inspiration, and offered a free link to check out his Learn Scrivener Fast course.

Michael responded right away. He told Joseph that he had always wanted a Scrivener course, and had thought about creating one himself. He was excited to check out the course.

Joseph got feedback from Michael, made some tweaks, and asked to use his email comments as a testimonial.

Then this happened:

Joseph made 10 sales of the course from that one tweet. He started to realize how important influence and audience size were.

After the tweet, people started contacting Joseph. His first contacts were Andy Traub and Jeff Goins. Andy suggested doing a webinar with Jeff. Joseph followed through and did a free webinar for Jeff’s audience with an affiliate pitch at the end. Sales went through the roof. 35% of people on the webinar bought the course.

Joseph had made an entire months’ salary from one webinar to a small audience.

He used this success to find more and more people to partner with. Joseph would reach out saying, “I just did this webinar for Jeff’s audience, here are some numbers, this could help your audience.”

Sales snowballed from the simple webinar/affiliate recipe. Within a few months of launch Joseph was making several times more from Learn Scriver fast than he did at his day job.

He quit his day job in May 2014 and was earning over $40k per month by August.


Takeaways

After talking with Joseph and reading through this article again, here’s a few things that stick out to me about Joseph’s story:

  1. His idea came from a real need, a problem people really wanted solved. Like many of us, his first focus (Efficient Life Skills) was about a larger, less specific idea. It’s hard to get initial traction on those ideas. That experience guided Learn Scrivener Fast to something specific, small and useful.
  2. He started Learn Scrivener Fast by modelling a previous business that resonated with him. Finding Brett Kelly’s Evernote Essentials was an important step in seeing what was possible. This is the reason behind our long Founder Story interviews within Fizzle’s membership training. Do you have a model to pay attention to?
  3. He found a specific time to work on the side. Simply choosing lunch breaks to work on his side project became an essential part of building his first product. He found time to make this all work alongside a young family and full time job. We talk more about this in a podcast on managing a side project and full time job.
  4. Making a product first is risky but it worked for him. It’s risky because you might make something nobody wants. Building an audience first can validate your product idea. But product first worked well for Joseph. Nathan Barry wrote a good article about product first profitability.
  5. For lack of a better term: hustle. He reached out on social networks and got the word out about the product. It can feel awkward. But it was undoubtedly a big part of his early success with this product.
  6. He didn’t give up, even if it felt like the idea was failing. He fought through so many obstacles and ignored what most people would turn into excuses for quitting.
  7. Everything’s a gamble. This course may not have worked out. Scrivener could have folded as a product itself. But it didn’t. It was a gamble and it paid off. The same is true with your idea. It’s always a gamble. Our job is to take smart gambles like Joseph did.

Not having enough time or a solid business idea is a problem almost every entrepreneur faces. Joseph’s story shows us how one determined business builder fought for what he wanted until it worked out, which is the only real “secret” to success.


How @ScrivenerCoach built his business is amazing. Here’s the whole story.