jeudi 31 mars 2016

Why Averages Still Matter in PPC

There have been a rash of tweets and blogposts recently talking about the problems with using averages in PPC marketing. For example, this one where Julie Bacchini argues that “averages are a sucky metric”:

averages in ppc

While it’s true that sometimes averages can be very misleading, the problem with the above data set is the huge population variance and standard deviation in the sample.

In this post I want to talk about the math involved here and make a case for the value of averages, as well as respond to some of the criticism of reporting on averages that I’ve seen in the PPC community lately.

Variance, Standard Deviation and Coefficient of Variance

Sample variance is a measure of dispersion – by how much the values in the data set are likely to differ from the average value of your data set. It’s calculated by taking the average of the squares of the differences for each data point from the average. Squaring the differences ensures that negative and positive deviations do not cancel each other out.

So for client 1, just calculate the difference between 0.5% and the average change of 3.6%, then square that number. Do this for every client, then take the average of the variances: that’s your sample variance.

averages and standard deviation

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Sample Standard Deviation is simply the square root of the variance.

In simple terms, on average, the values in this data set typically fall 5.029% away from the overall average of 3.6% (i.e. the numbers are very dispersed), which means you can’t conclude much from this distribution.

A simplified way to estimate if your standard deviations are “too high” (assuming you’re looking for a normal distribution) is to calculate a coefficient of variance (or relative standard deviation) which is simply the standard deviation divided by the average.

What does this mean and why should we care? It’s about the value of reporting on averages. When WordStream does a study using client data, we don’t just compute averages from small data sets and make big conclusions – we care about the distribution of the data. If numbers are all over the place, we throw them out and try to segment the sample a different way (by industry, spend, etc.) to find a more meaningful pattern from which we can more confidently draw conclusions.

Even Meaningful Averages by Definition Include Values Above and Below the Average

Another line of criticism from the anti-average camp is the notion that an average doesn’t speak for the entire population. This is of course true, by definition.

using averages for ppc analysis

Yes, averages contain data points that fall above and below the average value. But this isn’t a great argument for throwing out averages altogether.

Assuming a normal distribution, you would expect approximately 68% of your data points to fall +/- 1 standard deviation from your average, 95% within +/- 2 standard deviations, and 99.7% within +/- 3 standard deviations, as illustrated here.

normal distribution curve

A typical normal distribution curve

As you can see, outliers certainly exist, though if you have a tight standard distribution in your dataset, they’re not as common as you might think. So if you’re careful about the math, averages can still be very useful information for the vast majority of advertisers.

In PPC Marketing, Math Wins

Let’s not throw averages out with the bathwater. After all, pretty much all of the performance metrics in AdWords like (CTR, CPC, Average Position, Conversion Rates, etc.) are reported as average values.

Instead of ignoring averages, let’s use the power of math to figure out if the average you’re looking at is meaningful or not.

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Why Averages Still Matter in PPC

Is Live Chat Support Killing Your Landing Page Conversions?

Let’s say you do a Google search, click on a paid ad, and navigate to a site to purchase bespoke pillowcases. In the lower right-hand corner of your browser you notice something lying in wait. After thirty seconds or so spent lost in the intricate stitching details, a live chat box manned by somebody, let’s call them Hodor and Hagrid, materializes. He or she offers assistance. You bite.

online chat support conversions

If I’m the owner of the artisanal pillowcase emporium, I’m jazzed: You, the prospect, are having a great on-site experience. Perhaps you were so impressed with Hodor’s mastery of headrests that you made a purchase. Maybe you’re not entirely sold but you joined the mailing list, and the offer for 20% off your first purchase that’s about to hit your inbox will seal the deal. Worst case scenario, you’ll get added to our remarketing list and for the next seven days my ads will conjure memories of the friendly disembodied head who answered your questions.

Now, let’s say instead that you’re looking at a renovated two-bedroom in the Back Bay – again, found through a paid search ad. In this scenario, the live chat support function is inherently more valuable. As a realtor, the landing page is a lead generation tool. More often than not there would be a well-manicured two-field form adjacent to the carousel of pictures you’ve been fawning over. That crown molding. Those built-in bookshelves. Is that a gas range?

chat support conversion rate optimization

Sadly, a lot of prospects won’t even notice the carefully optimized, whittled-down form. Know what they will notice? The live chat box. Hagrid, my delightfully competent office manager, can answer all of your pressing questions about the listing. Parking is an extra $400 per month. Of course you can bring your parakeet! She can also take down your name, number, and email address.

Guess what? My PPC landing page just generated a lead. But will it get tracked and attributed properly?

How Chat Support Could Be Pilfering Conversions From Your PPC Campaigns

Ostensibly, a live chat function acts as a secondary means by which to secure a prospect. Unfortunately, many businesses aren’t using chat support. More unfortunate still: Many of those that are using on-site chat support aren’t tracking the conversions flowing through the lovely little box in the corner of their landing pages.

We know that businesses who don’t use call tracking often fail to properly attribute call-in leads back to the right marketing channels. This is a similar situation. When you optimize the aesthetics, architecture, and copy of a landing page, and conversion volume through paid channels still doesn’t improve (but conversions from other mediums do), it could very well be due to the fact that you aren’t tracking conversions that come in through on-site chat.

Thankfully, it’s possible to track on-site chat support use via Google Analytics and create a conversion goal that can be exported to AdWords. This will allow you to receive a truer representation of conversion volume and cost-per-acquisition from PPC campaigns, meaning you can spend less time scratching your head and more time nurturing all those leads.

Case Study: Finding Your Missing Chat Support Conversions

Because abstractions aren’t that helpful, let’s look at an example of a WordStream client who went through this scenario.

Consumer Credit Compliance is one of the UK’s leading FCA compliance solutions providers; they were also my first true build-from-scratch account. When they came aboard last October they had the same goal as every other lead gen client: more prospects for less money.

Simultaneous to launching a paid search initiative, Consumer Credit Compliance was undergoing a brand makeover: they unveiled a new website complete with updated logo, color scheme, user-friendly navigation, and live-chat functionality, in the middle of November.

Anecdotal side-note: weighted font seems to perform better on landing pages than the skinnier stuff

After the initial buildout period we saw some success. I anticipated there would be an increase in conversion volume with the launch of the new site. January rolled around and things hadn’t improved. In fact, they’d gotten worse.

live online chat support

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Going down the CRO rabbit hole

In an effort to combat the account’s precipitous decline we tried myriad methods of optimization, including but not limited to:

  • Bid adjustments.
  • Dayparting.
  • Granular ad groups.
  • New copy (both ad and landing page).
  • Shorter landing page forms.
  • Fewer ways for potential prospects to get lost in the wealth of information on the site (at one point there were more than 30 ways to leave a landing page – we chopped this down to five).

Nothing worked.

I looked to Analytics for answers. To my horror, I discovered that conversions from email marketing campaigns and prospects who found the site organically were improving, leaving the paid search campaigns in the dust. They looked fiscally unsustainable.

I fumbled through the tab-labyrinth determined to uncover what was rendering my efforts futile. Eventually, I stumbled across a previously unvisited portion of the “Behavior” section, nestled in the “Events” tab, called “Top Events.”

analytics behavior

Here, I found a single Event Category named JivoSite. Completely unsure as to what that meant, I opened a fresh tab and copied the unknown term into Google. Turns out “JivoSite” is the event label for a chat software named JivoChat. I returned to GA and clicked the event, which took me to the “Event Action” page. In a single click, my blind searching had morphed into something “illuminating and useful” (shouts to Digital Humanist Stephen Ramsay: I got something out of half a master’s degree after all!).

conversion optimization for online chat

In the screenshot above, you’ll notice that the event is segmented into eight different tracked actions. I would like to direct your attention to number four, labeled “User gave contacts during chat.” Incorporate the secondary dimension “medium.” This will display the number of times prospects provided contact information through the chat support function, segmented by channel:

setting up chat support in analytics

Interesting. Look at those acquired leads – conversions, if you will – that went completely unaccounted for in AdWords…

After discovering that prospects weren’t simply dropping off, as we’d feared, it became clear that we needed to be tracking the “User gave contacts during chat” event as a conversion in AdWords.

conversion rate optimization with online chat support

Chat Support Is Actually a Great Conversion Rate Optimizer!

Since January 1, 2016, a whopping 35% of leads generated through paid search for Consumer Credit Compliance have come through the live-chat function. In other words, if we hadn’t been tracking leads from chat support, 69 prospects would have been attributed to other channels. That would mean a £42 difference in CPA (actual CPA over that span: £80. CPA without factoring in leads from chat: £122).

Because we’ve finally got the search campaigns working as intended – producing more leads at a reduced CPA – we’ve been able to launch new initiatives. Consumer Credit Compliance is now running industry-specific campaigns on the Display network aimed at creating brand awareness. They’ve also started to implement remarketing on both AdWords and Facebook.

Creating a Goal in Google Analytics to Track Chat-based Conversions

This probably goes without saying, but you’ll need to have the GA tag on your site. Navigate to the “Admin” tab at the top of the Analytics UI. In the column labeled “View” (the one on the right), you’ll see a little grey flag next to the word “Goals”; click it.

new goal

Goal Setup & Description

  • Select “Custom”
  • Name your goal
  • Type: select “Event”

Goal Details

Name the “Category” and “Action” options as you see them in the Events tab referenced above (see example below):

live chat event conditions

If this was confusing, Google offers an incredibly helpful resource on Events.

IMPORTANT: Don’t forget to pull the goal into AdWords.

There may be provider-specific nuances to work around but, generally speaking, getting tracking set up is a breeze (LiveChat, for example, has a plug-in for Analytics that has to be downloaded). If you’re not used to tracking Analytics goals as conversions, keep in mind that there’s a 24-hour lag between GA and AdWords.


Live chat support can make the difference between a visitor becoming a prospect or just inflating your bounce rate.

  • If you have a chat function but you aren’t tracking it in GA, you’re overlooking dozens of leads (best case scenario, they’re being misattributed).
  • If you’re running paid search campaigns but not tracking online chat conversions in AdWords, you’re unwittingly watering down your data and causing your CPA to skyrocket.

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Is Live Chat Support Killing Your Landing Page Conversions?

Exploring the WWE Universe and What Marketers Can Learn


Understanding Culture, in a Social Context

At Affinio, the audience intelligence platform, we’re in the business of understanding social communities, the people within them, and their distinct community culture. For brands and marketers, having an intimate understanding of a social community is critical in remaining culturally relevant with ideal audiences.

The Culture of WWE Fans

We decided to look deeper into a community that we have often run into but have seldom explored… the mysterious world of the WWE. Yes, World Wrestling Entertainment and everything that comes with it. It seems like these fans are EVERYWHERE on the Internet and are commenting, liking, sharing, and interacting about the match-ups, upsets, and victories every week. This unique and flourishing community even refers to themselves as the #WWEUniverse.

If you’re not familiar with the WWE, don’t panic! Here’s a quick recap:

  • The WWE is a billion-dollar industry that holds over 300 events every year and is broadcasted to 36 million viewers.
  • In 2014, the WWE launched its own network where viewers subscribe for Pay-Per-View live programming and on-demand libraries. It reached over one million subscribers in under a year, making it the fastest-growing digital subscription service.
  • The WWE is classified as “sports entertainment”, meaning there are no legitimate contests. Instead, all wrestling matches are driven by faux storylines and choreography… think of it as a soap opera with body slams.

What the Analysis Shows Us:

For our analysis using Affinio, we decided to run a network graph analysis on the@WWE Instagram handle, which has over 7.1 million followers. From this, we were able to identify 12 distinct sub-communities, or groups within this social audience.

Some of the groups included personas we labelled as ‘WWE Divas Fans’, ‘USA Pop Culture’, ‘Soccer Fans’, ‘WWE Superstar Fans’, and ‘Bollywood’. These personas were labelled based on insights shared amongst the group including how they self-describe, their top interests, and influences. For example, the “WWE Divas Fans” group is a community of females that are strongly influenced by the female stars of the WWE, also known as “Divas”. They self-describe with words such as girl, fan, WWE, and Bella (the last name of wrestling stars Nikki and Brie Bella); are interested in fashion and cosmetics; and are influenced by non-wrestling celebrities including Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian-West, and Nicki Minaj.

But who are all of these communities really? As can be seen in the below slide share, we’ve uncovered the self-describing keywords, top hashtags used, influencers, and emojis used for the selected personas – all pulled from the Affinio platform.

Gathering More Insights

In looking at the slideshare alone, we can already see there are many different sub-communities within the WWE fanbase. While all of these groups have a common interest in the WWE, how marketers communicate with each group needs to be adjusted.

Exploring even further, I decided to take a look at the @WWE Twitter audience and see which of these groups would also appear in the Twitter fanbase. Two of the audiences appeared, ‘WWE Superstar Fans’ and ‘WWE Divas Fans’. While these two audiences were consistent, this also tells us that the wrestling fanbase on Instagram and Twitter differ.

Here are some cool insights pulled on the Twitter ‘WWE Superstar Fans’ and ‘WWE Divas Fans’ communities:

WWE Divas Fan

  • The ‘WWE Divas Fan’ community’s top domains include sites such as, an opinion website focusing on politics and pop culture;, a website dedicated to female wrestling; and, a music video and entertainment platform. For brands, these insights can be used to inform ad placement, partnerships, and creative.
  • Members of this community are primarily located in the Eastern United States and the UK. These insights can be used to inform event locations and sponsorship opportunities.
  • The ‘WWE Divas Fans’ top liked content includes highly visual posts from Diva stars such as Nikki and Brie Bella. For brands, understanding whether their audience prefer video over imagery, long content or short etc., and what influencers to leverage is essential in crafting a winning content strategy.

WWE Superstar Fans

  • The ‘WWE Superstar Fans’ community’s top domains include sites such as, a site dedicated to sports, wrestling, and pop culture;, an event site for an independent wrestling competition; and Again, these insights can be used to inform advertising opportunities, partnerships and creative.
  • Members of this community are primarily located in the Eastern United States and the UK.
  • The ‘WWE Superstar Fans’ top liked content includes mainly visual posts and short videos.

Why Understanding the Culture of a Community is Critical

With tools like Affinio, it is now possible to inject yourself into the very center of a community’s culture and find out what makes them tick. Brands today are constantly wrestling for attention in an oversaturated media environment. To thrive and and remain culturally relevant with ideal audiences, brands and marketers must align their strategies, online and offline, with audience-driven data. It is this combination that makes a true champion.

To learn more about aligning audience data to your marketing strategies, request a demo.

Originally posted on the Affinio blog, “Affinio Culture Series: Exploring the WWE Universe and What Marketers Can Learn“.

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Exploring the WWE Universe and What Marketers Can Learn

Should B2B Marketers Use Social Differently Than B2C Marketers?

“Social media marketing” means different things depending on who you ask. For some, it’s a great method of providing top-notch customer service and engaging one-on-one with fans. For others, it’s all about promoting deals and products to a wide audience. And for others still, it’s just one of many tools in the sales and marketing toolbox. For many marketers, it’s all of the above and more.

But is there a clear distinction between social media marketing for B2B (business-to-business) marketers and social media marketing for B2C (business-to-consumer) marketers?

Ultimately, the answer has to do with goals. The goal of a social media marketing campaign will largely define how that campaign materializes, regardless of whether businesses or consumers are the target audience.

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When it comes to B2B, the goal of marketing is often driving leads and sales. So it makes sense that social media efforts be geared towards this goal: promoting thought leadership to entice leads at the top of the funnel, or pushing gated content like ebooks and whitepapers to capture a lead and eventually convert it to a sale.

B2C, on the other hand, might not rely on social media for leads as much as for increased visibility, reach and brand awareness. Social media activities, then, will be in support of this goal: creating bite-sized, highly sharable images to increase reach, or running flash sales and campaigns to generate buzz.

However, B2B marketers have a unique opportunity on social media that B2C marketers don’t. Because a single sale in the B2B world is typically much higher in value than a sale in the B2C world, the one-on-one relationship arguably becomes even more important for B2B marketers.

This means that the sales and marketing team can use social media to develop rich relationships with the individual decision-makers they are selling to. They can connect on Twitter and share their content. They can connect on Instagram and like their photos. Or, even more powerfully, they can leverage all of these social touchpoints into a CRM platform and develop a complete picture of the likes, dislikes and lifestyle of each customer.

Of course, B2C marketers have the opportunity to develop these rich profiles as well. The only trouble is, it usually isn’t worth it – after all, if you are selling a $1.50 candy bar, the numbers just don’t add up. But if you’re selling a $10,000 software subscription, it makes sense to dedicate time and resources to integrating social data with customer profiles.

On the high, strategic level, B2B and B2C marketers will approach social media in much the same way. Both want to increase their brand’s exposure among their target audience, develop positive reputations, and generate interest in their product or service. When diving below the strategy into tactics, however, the scale shifts and B2B marketers increasingly focus on the one-to-one while B2C focuses on the one-to-many (with some key instances of one-to-one sprinkled in).

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Should B2B Marketers Use Social Differently Than B2C Marketers?

Why Facebook Live is the Content Marketing Opportunity You’re Missing Out On

If you’ve been on Facebook lately, you’ve likely noticed publishers are taking advantage of the platform’s new live streaming feature Facebook Live. You’ve also probably noticed that brands aren’t.

In the last few days, I’ve seen The Atlantic, The New York Times and Slate all use Live to talk Trump, terrorism and the tampon tax. Conversely, none of the brands I follow have gone live in the past month. This surprises me, especially given how many brands utilized Google+’s Hangouts On Air back in the day.

I specifically remember Starbucks was a power user of Hangouts On Air, frequently live casting from their Seattle HQ. In a bizarre bit of cross promotion, the coffee chain even hosted a fan Q+A with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and James Valentine (their album Overexposed was being sold in Starbucks stores).

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More recently, it seems almost every brand has dabbled in live streaming via Meerkat or Periscope. In a January post, we highlighted the efforts of GE, Ralph Lauren, Doritos and Adidas. Nissan, Target, Spotify, Red Bull and DKNY have also used Periscope for marketing purposes. And before it became an also-ran in the live cast wars, Meerkat had early support from Starbucks, Verizon, L’Oreal and Intuit. Out of all of these brands, I could only find one who’s ever gone live on Facebook: GE.


I personally think it’s strange that nascent platforms are receiving brand attention while the 400-lb. gorilla that is Facebook is all but being ignored. While Periscope has around 2 million daily active users, Facebook has over 1 billion daily active users. With that in mind, here are three compelling reasons why you should actively experiment with live streaming on Facebook:

1. Videos algorithmically appear higher in user feeds when live
For every content marketer who’s ever expressed that the Facebook algorithm is hurting their distribution efforts, live video is a great hack. In a recent blog post, Facebook admitted they give greater priority to Facebook Live content.

2. People spend 3X longer watching live video
According to a study conducted by Facebook, their users are spending considerably more time with live videos. With engagement being such a critical metric of success, this is great news for content marketers looking to justify their budgets.

3. 53% of video views come from re-shares
In perhaps the greatest advantage over Meerkat and Periscope, Live product manager Vadim Lavrusik stated that over half the views occur after the live period ends. That’s because live videos are saved to a brand’s feed just like any other post. Worth considering: Meerkat videos are auto deleted immediately and Periscope videos are wiped after 24 hours.

If what’s above isn’t enticing enough to content marketers, Facebook has one more appeal: the ability to produce high-quality videos is coming soon. Digiday reports that Facebook will announce during their forthcoming F8 conference that publishers will be able to integrate Facebook Live into their control rooms, allowing for the use of studio equipment. While not every content marketer has ready access to that type of gear, those with newsrooms likely do. Does this mean we’ll see Facebook Live videos from the likes of Marriott and Intel? Yes, if they’re smart.

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Why Facebook Live is the Content Marketing Opportunity You’re Missing Out On

4 Reasons Why Cold Calling is Dead

For a modern small business, cold calling is dead — or at least it should be. It may have worked in the days before caller id – when phones were attached to a desk or a wall. But today, sales and marketing channels are fragmented, putting consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to who they want to engage with.

So before you pick up the phone, consider the following reasons why you should give cold calls the cold shoulder:

1. It’s Outdated

According to the International Smartphone Mobility Report, Americans prefer text communication over phone call communication. Nowadays, people are more likely to screen phone calls and avoid unfamiliar numbers. Even random calls from familiar business numbers provoke fear from otherwise willing customers.

When it comes to calling business clients, it’s increasingly more difficult to navigate extensions, operating systems, and voicemails. Many people refuse to give out direct lines and refer inquiries to email addresses instead. And, given the myriad communication options available today, cold calling is no longer creative or optimal.

2. It Wastes Time

As the adage goes, time is money; small businesses desperately need to conserve both. In fact the average sales rep makes 8 dials an hour and prospects for over 6 hours to set just 1 appointment (Source: Ovation Sales Group)

Both as an input and success output, cold calling wastes time. The act itself forces the caller to sit through:

  • Phones ringing
  • Dial tones
  • Gatekeeper blocks
  • Voicemail recordings
  • Directory messages
  • Dropped calls and disconnects
  • Other technical concerns

Industry statistics indicate that cold calls have an average 2% success rate. Common sense indicates that rate hardly counts as sales success.

3. It’s Irritating

As the world is becoming overloaded by brands due to modern technology, customers are increasingly looking to reputation as a means to sort out their options. Goodwill is crucial in the present business climate and cold calls are a great way to tarnish that goodwill.

Cold calls, by their nature, are disruptive. They take the recipient out of their likely busy day and set them in a state of momentary alarm. Why is someone calling me? Is there a concern I should know about? And how does this interaction actually benefit me?

Even if you’re calling with something they’d likely need, that doesn’t change the initial impression of frustration or alarm.

4. It’s Exasperating for Employees

Not only is cold calling taxing for recipients, it’s emotionally draining for assigned employees. Most everyone has been on the receiving end of a cold call and can understand the annoyance; with every call made, your employee feels the inconvenience being caused and braces for customer backlash.

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This very quickly turns into burnout and high turnover. Employees who are asked to cold call day in and day out suffer mental fatigue and a drop in productivity—leaving them feeling that their emotional labor was spent on a highly unproductive and tedious tasks.

Marketing strategies in which the business initiates contact with the prospective customer are categorized as outbound or push strategies. Cold calling is a prime example, along with other strategies like direct mail and TV ads.

So if you’ve been convinced to hang up on your cold-calling, outbound marketing ways, how can you reach prospective customers and drive new business?

Consider The Alternative: Inbound Marketing

While outbound tactics like cold calling interrupt your potential prospects, inbound marketing pulls warm leads into your sales process through your blog, website, social media or other channels – giving you the chance to spend more of your time with people who are actually interested in your products and services.

With inbound marketing you still leverage conversations to advance the sale but in a different way. The calls come inbound to you versus having to dial up lists of un-interested people just to find the one that might be.

There are a number of reasons inbound marketing is the smart alternative:

1. Drive More Qualified Leads

Inbound leads are proven to be more qualified than cold calling sourced leads. Here’s why:

When you cold call to build your pipeline, the sales rep is responsible for moving the prospect throughout the entire buying cycle on one call. From initial awareness, to consideration, to decision. It’s a recipe for disaster. This highly inefficient approach burnouts your list, leaving your prospects more excited to get you off the phone than to stick to the meeting you just booked with them.

Inbound marketing attracts your ideal buyer to your website and uses content to pull them into your sales process. Then, by using marketing automation tools, you can nurture leads with valuable, timely content until they are ready to buy. In fact, studies show that when businesses use marketing automation to nurture prospects they experience a 451% increase in qualified leads.

2. Create Better Communication

Cold calling is a one way street that focus on what you want and how you can get the prospect on the other end of the phone to just say yes. When you leverage inbound marketing to engage with your prospects, however, you create a two-way communication stream. You might even call it a conversation.

With inbound, your business delivers valuable thought leadership content through professional networks such as Linkedin, social media channels such as Twitter or Facebook, or even through your blog. In doing so, you have a chance to build a relationship with your potential customers early in the sales process — and in sales, relationships win.

3. Save Time

There are only so many valuable selling hours in the day. If you do the math, based on a 2% conversion, you would have you make 50 calls a day just to set an appointment, much less a new customer. If you’re like most small businesses you need to find more efficient ways to do more with less.

By using inbound methods to bring hot leads to your doorstep, you’ll spend more time talking to prospects that are ready to buy and let your inbound marketing process nurture those leads that aren’t quite ready to have a personal conversation or might still be in research mode. Instead of chasing cold leads, you get valuable hours back in your day.

4. Save Money

If you look at the costs to staff an outbound sales team, procure the targeted call list and mash those up with the slim conversion rates into a customer – you are left with an inefficient way to grow sales in today’s digital world. Contrast the cost of outbound sales to the budget you need to get found online and drive inbound marketing leads, and it’s easy to see why cold calling is dead. In fact according to the Search Engine Journal, inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound leads.

When you build out an effective inbound strategy there is some initial work upfront such as creating your customer personas, building a website that converts, creating email marketing campaigns and developing content (such as your blog) that is aligned to your buyers’ greatest challenges. But once you create the assets for your inbound plan, you own them. Then, it only becomes a matter of testing the right channels to discover which ones drive the most leads at the best cost per lead.

So before you spend your valuable sales time making futile cold calls, give inbound marketing a shot. By shifting to an inbound approach, you’ll attract more HOT leads to your business and have a more cost effective way to boost sales and bring in new customers.

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4 Reasons Why Cold Calling is Dead

Put an End to the Overwhelm

I hear it all the time. Authors, speakers, entrepreneurs, designers, photographers, small business owners, Realtors, plumbers, job seekers… They are all facing the same problem.

Marketing is time-consuming! Especially when you’re trying to figure it out as you go.

Actually, the whole thing can become simply overwhelming. Since they don’t know where to start, they often don’t get started or they make slower progress than they want and need to.

That’s one of the reasons that I write this blog.

I enjoy helping people find the tools and techniques that really work.

I like to take a specific issue and figure out the best way of fixing it, so that I can then pass it along to my clients and readers.

Whenever possible, I prefer to test things out for my own needs before recommending them to anyone else. But sometimes the best I can do is research it, knowing the needs of my clients, and let you know which I would choose if I were going to be using it.

Know what you want to accomplish

That exact situation came up recently. I was in conversation with a friend on Facebook who was looking for a magazine designer.

Since there are many different approaches that can be taken to designing a magazine, I asked her some leading questions.

  • Did she want her magazine to be online, in print or both?
  • Did she want to design her magazine online or upload a PDF that was displayed in an online reader?
  • Did she want flexibility in her design (for enhanced creativity) or did she want a template she could work from (for ease of use)?
  • Did she want just text and images in her magazine or other types of content like video, MP3 and ecommerce options?

These were just a few of the questions we discussed.

Find the right tools

In this particular context, my friend was looking at potentially using LucidPress to generate her magazine. I’d also found FlipSnack and suggested she compare the two, along with Issuu, which is a popular online document viewer.

She narrowed down her choices to LucidPress and FlipSnack and asked what I thought of them. So, I took a few minutes to look at the features and functionality of both, and to research a few comparison articles to see what existing users thought of them.

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What I found was that selecting the right tool was contingent on knowing how you wanted to use it and what you wanted to get out of it. (Isn’t that always the case!)

A wrench is not just a wrench

A field of nuts with one selectedAs an author, speaker or entrepreneur, it’s important to know, first, what your objective is and then, second, what your preferred operating method is, before making a choice about the tools and platforms you want to integrate into your business.

If the tool makes things harder for you, it’s not the right one.

If it limits your ability to achieve your objective, it’s still not the right one.

Look for tools that are the right fit for you.

Don’t just assume that because everyone else is using it, you should too. Everyone else is not you!

I was commenting to my son recently about the wide selection of socket wrench handles hanging on a hardware store wall. You might think that a wrench is a wrench is a wrench. But that’s simply not true.

There are different size wrenches (1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″, 1-1/2″, 2-1/2″ and 3-1/2″ to start with), ratcheting and non-ratcheting, fixed socket or interchangeable, metric, standard and Torx sockets, and so on.

Even if you settle on the specific tool you want, you’ll find that one manufacturer’s handle has a different grip than another’s. And while both may be perfectly usable, one fits your hand better than another.

Use the tools that are right for you

The same is true as you build your business. There are plenty of tools out there to work with. But you need to know what job you want to use the tool for (to make sure it has the right functionality to accomplish the task), as well as which one suits you best.

You could have the best tool in the world, but if it’s not something you’re comfortable with, you’re simply not going to use it!

That’s a frequent conversation that I have with my authors.

Which social media platform should I be on?

What is the absolute best method of marketing my book without a budget?

What’s the one thing I should do every day to reach my audience?

There is no “one size fits all” answer to that. It’s unique because you are you and your ideal reader is your ideal reader. You aren’t everyone else.

That’s why it’s critical to develop a marketing strategy that has you, your offering and your market in mind.

It’s also how consulting a marketing strategist can help you create an optimized plan that ensures that your budget is being applied to the activities that will work best for your specific product, goals and audience.

Fitting the pieces together

Connecting the pieces

So, if you are feeling stuck or if your book marketing simply isn’t getting the results you want, I encourage you to book a strategy call with me and get unstuck! I can help you connect the pieces so that you feel confident about your next steps.

Oh, and if you were interested in the outcome of the LucidPress vs. FlipSnack review, check back next week and I’ll share those results.

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Put an End to the Overwhelm

Shedding Light on Dark Social: a Publisher’s Case

Sharing has changed. Social has changed. Dark Social has risen. Non-voice time spent on mobile devices is expected to grow by 403% in just 5 years while every other traditional medium will lose usage.

You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘the medium is the message’ but socially, in a mobile environment, the message is the medium.

Truth is, sharing on mobile is either personal or confined to small groups of people. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Google Hangouts, Skype, Viber, WeChat, Telegram, Tango, you name it. This is how social sharing on mobile rolls and we all know it.

As mobile content consumption rises, so does 1-to-1 social engagement with it. How many times were you reading through a story and thought “Wow, Jennifer would love to know this”. Browser -> Share -> WhatsApp -> Done.

Dark Social & Private Messaging

There’s a problem though. This kind of sharing, this private sharing, isn’t traceable due to the nonexistence of referrer data. This invisible traffic is usually called Dark Social. Ultimately, all visitors coming from these shares will be thrown to the ‘direct traffic’ bucket by common analytics platforms. And that’s how you mess your Social Media ROI calculations. How are you going to justify your budget when about 80% of your results are hidden?

Imagine all the (better) decisions (social media posting, content distribution, paid sponsoring) that could be made had we the proper data, should we know how our stories are organically picking up on social media?

The Case

Context aside, we bring you a case today. A case from one of our customers and how social sharing contributes to their publishing operation. We’re talking about Gay Star News, an international media source focused on events related to and concerning the global LGBTI community.

GSN runs at about 2-3 million visits per month and it’s growing quite fast. From the beginning, one of the things the founders had in mind was that social would be crucial to their operation. However, a few months in, this didn’t seem to be completely accurate.

Operationally, GSN’s team constantly needs to understand which stories they should be featuring, promoting and distributing on social media. But looking at page views, time spent on a page or social shares just wasn’t enough to make the best decisions.

Our strategy was simple: we had to make sure that we were accurately tracking all social interactions (including dark social) within GSN’s website, their impact and how each story was driving their growth. Luckily enough, that’s exactly what our product does.

We started working with them and quickly set up everything. During the first month, we wanted to understand the current status and check if it was differing a lot from what GSN accepted as their reality.

What we found was dazzling. Not only most sharing was occurring through copy paste sharing but it was actually generating about 90% of social referrals. More importantly, social referrals were accounting for 46% of all monthly traffic.

For the data lovers, here’s a complete overview of the first month:

  • Total Sessions: 1,206,003
    • Mobile: 59%
    • Desktop: 32%
    • Tablet: 9%
  • Total Shares: 40,173
    • Mobile: 48%
    • Desktop: 40%
    • Tablet: 12%
  • Total Social Referrals by channel: 554,521
    • Copy Paste: 89%
    • Facebook: 6%
    • Twitter: 3%
  • Most shares by channel
    • Copy Paste: 79%
    • Facebook: 8%
    • Email: 5%
    • Twitter: 4%
    • WhatsApp: 3%
  • Dark Social Sharing by device
    • Mobile: 45%
    • Desktop: 44%
    • Tablet: 11%


Zooming out, there were three important insights from this first month of data:

  • Most sharing occurred on mobile, through private sharing methods;
  • 9 out of 10 social referrals came from copy paste sharing, which was represented as ‘direct traffic’ on their regular analytics platform;
  • 3.3% of the users (the sharing audience) contributed to 46% of the traffic (the referred audience).

I don’t know about you, but having 3% of our readership contributing with nearly 50% of our traffic sounds massive.

That said, with proper optimization and effectively utilizing the data we provided, on an article & social network level, the GSN staff could work on their social & distribution strategies to fuel growth.

So, how does this data looks now, 2 months later?

First, let’s look at the traffic & social referrals’ evolution during this last quarter. GSN had a fantastic MoM growth in the last 3 months. They’re now getting about 1.4M share referrals per month.

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Dark Social - Social Referrals per Month

Was Copy Paste Sharing meaningful on their sharing activity? It was, by far, the most common way of sharing on GSN’s website.

Dark Social - Copy Paste Shares

And the silver lining is, how different would social look like to the GSN staff if dark social tracking wasn’t being measured? The graph below shows the weight of social referrals (traffic from shares) compared to the total traffic, with and without copy paste share tracking.


“Cool, but what can we do with this?”

For starters, you get knowledge. Today, you might feel you know what people are engaging with on your website and even what kind of content is driving your traffic. However, you will probably be surprised with the updated data once you turn on copy paste share tracking and see how people really engage with your content.

You can also use real-time data to see which stories are becoming viral, and find the best stories to feature or promote in each social network, leveraging the organic boost people are giving you and making the most out of your content.

If you already have an advertising/paid acquisition strategy in place, make sure you’re amplifying content that is organically growing your website. The best way to improve your investment is to make sure your content is more shareable (organic eyeballs will lower your overall cost to acquire readers).

“But isn’t this a niche site with a very specific audience?”

Actually, the audiences of most of our users present similar behaviors: we found that copying and pasting a link represented a staggering 84% of total shares. Furthermore, an astonishing 91% of all social referrals (visits that arrived through a share) were generated by copy paste shares.

Long story short, the way we’re distributing content has changed. Sharing has changed. Social has changed. If it’s a vital part of your business, you must understand the true dynamics of how your content is flowing through the web, learn from it and adapt your strategy accordingly.

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Shedding Light on Dark Social: a Publisher’s Case

3 Tips for Marketers Developing Training Materials

Whether it is the launch of a program, campaign, product, or instructional how-to’s, as marketers we’ve most likely developed training materials and conducted training sessions for members of our organizations. Often we are immersed in our own internal jargon and may have a tendency to view training as a chore versus what it really is, an opportunity to connect in a creative way. Developing the right kind of training materials (well-done and engaging) is essential in helping others understand and connect with your messages. However, like most activities, it is always easier said than done.

shutterstock_397560001Three tips to read before you write or design anything:


To get started, begin with the ending. What are the key takeaways for your training audience? What will they walk away knowing? What will need to take place in order for that to happen? What materials are necessary to support the learning process? Think about the format of the training– is it self-led or guided? The materials created for a self-led training would be much more detailed and comprehensive if there isn’t an instructor to explain it. For instructor led training, the accompanying materials should support what the instructor is teaching rather than be the exact same material read out loud.


Have fun with creating your training materials. Seriously. Put yourself in the trainees place. If you have a good time during the development process, it will translate during the training. If you think your slides are ugly or confusing, then your audience probably will too. Are your materials text-heavy? Remedy this by adding in some photos, and some strategically placed, good-natured humor to break up the monotony.

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We don’t learn well by being lectured at for long periods of time. Trainees might hear what you’re saying, but it is quickly forgotten as the audience mentally checks out. Explore ways to further involve your training audience by creating exercises, such as group participation, a question and answer session or writing prompts. It doesn’t need to be complex either; sometimes it is as simple as creating space to share their reflection on what’s been presented. It supports the learning process by personally connecting them to the training material.

Think about what formats would best support your key takeaways – does your audience have a shorter than average attention span? Work with those limitations rather than against them. Try adding relevant video clips, or MP3s that further reinforce the training while engaging different parts of the brain. Keep them interested and off their smartphones.


There is power in simplicity. Every day we’re exposed to an overwhelming amount of information. By making training content easier to absorb we end up saving our sanity.

When training material is written, use plain language whenever possible. If jargon is necessary, be sure to define it ahead of time. If complex slide ware is the issue, try using the build feature to break down concepts and diagrams in an easier to digest manner. Review your training materials with a trusted outsider, and pay attention to their feedback in terms of simplicity.

Next time you are tasked with creating and conducting training, step outside your comfort zone and get creative, be engaging, and simplify your materials. On behalf of trainees everywhere, we thank you.

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3 Tips for Marketers Developing Training Materials

Are Data Privacy and Customer Engagement Mutually Exclusive?


Data privacy is a heated topic with far-reaching implications for IT and business professionals. Governing organizations are introducing significant new regulations such as the recent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Privacy Shield. Existing legislation is also changing, as we saw with the revocation of Safe Harbor.

These rulings vary widely from region to region, and they encompass data management aspects that go far beyond organizational data collection and use to capturing customer consent. What’s more, capturing consent is not just limited to a one-time event when a new customer creates a profile or account. Consent must be confirmed and refreshed as customers travel across regions with different laws and even as users change devices.

GDPR is a good example of how the stringent rules around the collection, consent and use of personal data can affect businesses’ data management practices. To gain an idea of the massive scope of the impact, here is a breakdown of just a few of the consent aspects of the GDPR ruling and the capabilities businesses need to comply:

  • Ensure Data Sharing Consent
    Individuals must explicitly consent to share their personal data.
  • Enable User Access to Personal Data
    The user must have a right to access the personal data once submitted.
  • Enable User Self-Management of Personal Data
    The user must have a right to edit or modify inaccurate personal data.
  • Specify How Data Will Be Used
    Clearly and concisely explain the use of data rather than rely on lengthy terms of service agreements.
  • Who Will Receive the Data
    Clearly indicate the recipients of their personal data.
  • Only Collect Relevant Data
    Data collected must be relevant to the purposes for which it will be used.

And there is much more, including specific guidelines around data governance and security. It’s complicated, and it’s easy to see why complying with data privacy regulations takes much more than applying region or county-specific policies to your identity data stores. It requires managing identities on an individual, one-to-one basis, and customers must be participants in the process.

This is why identity management is at the center of successfully enforcing data privacy. Identity management provides the capabilities necessary to comply with regulations by enabling data privacy best practices such as:

  • Collect and Manage Customer Consent
  • Provide Customer Self-Management Features
  • Provide Policy-Based Data Access Governance
  • Secure Customer Data End-to-End
  • Capture Explicit Customer Preferences
  • Create an Actionable, Unified View of the Customer
  • Support a Multi-Channel Engagement Strategy

In addition, identity management supports one-to-one customer engagement and personalized experiences. Combined with strong privacy protection, it can help businesses gain loyalty and earn trust, critical advantages in the digital marketplace.

Customer-Data-Privacy-Minefield.jpgON DEMAND WEBINAR:
Navigating the Customer Data Privacy Minefield

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Are Data Privacy and Customer Engagement Mutually Exclusive?

Robin Wright Considering Role In Blade Runner Sequel With Ryan Gosling

Mandatory Credit: Photo by James Shaw/REX/Shutterstock (4462290f) Robin Wright 'House of Cards: Series 3' TV Programme launch, London, Britain - 26 Feb 2015

Mandatory Credit: Photo by James Shaw/REX/Shutterstock (4462290f)
Robin Wright
‘House of Cards: Series 3’ TV Programme launch, London, Britain – 26 Feb 2015

Robin Wright is moving around from political drama to superhero drama to now sci-fi drama. Wright is currently starring on House of Cards, which just premiered its fourth season on Netflix. She will then appear next as an Amazon warrior in Patty Jenkins’ upcoming Wonder Woman movie.

Now, the former Princess Bride is in final negotiations to join the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.

Sicario director Denis Villeneuve is helming the untitled sequel, and Ford is set to reprise his role as Deckard, but the studio is keeping details about the story — and Gosling and Wright’s characters — under wraps, according to EW.

Hampton Fancher and Michael Green penned the sequel’s script, which picks up several decades after Ridley Scott’s 1982 original.

The original film, based on the 1968 Philip K. Dick story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” starred Ford as an ex-police officer tracking down escaped genetically engineered replicants who had returned to Earth illegally in order to extend their four-year life spans. In 1993, the film was selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Principal photography is set to begin in July 2016, and Warner Bros. will release the film in North American theaters on Jan. 12, 2018.

In House of Cards, U.S. Rep. Francis Underwood of South Carolina starts out as a ruthless politician seeking revenge in this Netflix original production. Promised the post of Secretary of State in exchange for his support, his efforts help to ensure the election of Garrett Walker to the presidency. But Walker changes his mind before the inauguration, telling Underwood he’s too valuable in Congress. Outwardly, Underwood accepts his marching orders, but secretly he and his wife, an environmental activist, make a pact to destroy Walker and his allies. Based on the U.K. miniseries of the same name, the U.S. version offers a look behind the scenes at the greed and corruption in American politics. A number of real-life media figures make cameo appearances.

Would you like to see Wright in the film? Sound off below in the comments section.

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Robin Wright Considering Role In Blade Runner Sequel With Ryan Gosling

Winning in The Subscription Economy

Winning in The Subscription Economy

“In order to draw meaning from an example it doesn’t have to be from your world.” Malcom Gladwell

Mind Blowing Facts

Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple have a combined market cap (total market value of outstanding shares) of approximately $1.72 trillion US Dollars.

This equates to the GDP of Canada, thereby making them collectively equivalent to the 10th largest country in the world. Think about that for a moment.

These companies have one thing in common: Their business models are designed to capitalize on subscription relationships.

The good news is you can learn from their respective business models how to make your small business a winner in the subscription economy.

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Amazon: A Retail Buying Subscription

Thanks to its Prime subscription product, Amazon controls 43% of all eCommerce worldwide. The roughly 10 billion US Dollars Amazon generates with Prime subscriptions pales in comparison to the revenue it generates from buyers with a subscription discount mindset.

Facebook: A Social Subscription Community

Everything Facebook does as a free membership community is designed to learn as much about our behaviors as possible. Then it monetizes that data with advertising. The reason this community remains free is the users are the product advertisers are paying to reach.

Google: A Subscription Identity Service

YouTube, Contacts and Docs (Drive) are just a few of the many free Google subscription services that collectively establish your online identity. Paradoxically, the more Google knows about you the better it can serve you with these services, while also better serving the advertisers willing to pay to reach you and people with similar identities.

Apple: A Subscription Experience

We think of Apple as a company that sells innovative products, and it does that exceptionally well because it is intensely focused on guiding your subscription experience with its products and services. This is why there are just a few product choices available from selected retail outlets, and why Apple now offers economic incentives to rent rather than own your next iPhone.

Your Digital Subscription Communities

One of the reasons blogging is not what it used to be is that when Google killed Google Reader many people stopped using RSS to subscribe to blogs. Smart businesses took notice and shifted to email subscriptions to deliver their content and marketing messages.

Start thinking in terms of digital subscription communities. You will realize that email newsletters, podcasts and membership sites are opportunities for capitalizing on the subscription economy. I’ll be using all three and more at Landscape Digital Institute.

That brings us to how you can monetize your digital subscription communities. This could be with advertising like the big dogs, or more likely the sale of your products and services.

Personally, I like all three for different reasons. We’ll discuss this further in a future episode of This Old New Business Podcast.

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Winning in The Subscription Economy

How to Improve Productivity By 375%: A Case Study On Getting Stuff Done

how to improve productivity - header

Two weeks ago I had a brainstorm with my team to think of how to improve productivity; the 4 ideas we came up with increased my output by 375% and ensured that I no longer resort to 70 hour work weeks. Obviously, this was just too good to keep to the Process Street team alone, so stick around if you want to find out how I did it!

‘Being more productive can have an awesome positive effect on the rest of your life as you start to feel generally more positive due to lower stress levels and more free time to do what you really love to do.’ – Dr Jones

We’ve all been there; you have 2 weeks to work on a project which should only require about 3 days. You’ve got all the time in the world for that essay, blog post, bug fix or book design! “I’ll start on it tomorrow, then I can just do an hour a day”, you may kid yourself into believing.

Then, two days before the deadline, your brain finally realizes that there aren’t enough remaining hours in the day to complete it and the panic sprint begins. You work yourself half to death during those final hours, running far into what any sane human being would call “bedtime”, only to submit the project at the last second. Most people learn from that experience, in that they will avoid working themself into a corner from then on.

how to improve productivity - typing
I did not.

Now, to clarify, I’ve never shied away from working to a deadline, but the great beast that is procrastination is a hell of a tempting apple. It’s so tempting, in fact, that this was something that I almost came to accept as my routine. I would work without a great deal of focus for hours, going off on research tangents, breaking my train of thought with unnecessary image edits and over-complicating the slightest task, all because I felt that I had the time. I was wrong.

So, how do you make up for working to deadlines whilst not staying focused? Why, you work double the hours of course! Just after Christmas I found myself pulling roughly 70 hour work weeks to keep up with what should have been a laughably easy workload; one month to write 8 templates and a blog post. This just doesn’t work, as your mind can only take so much – despite the fact that you’re working double shifts, your brain becomes even less focused than normal due to fatigue. It had to stop.

I tried listing to various types of music, but only ended up humming along to the tunes. My use of Pomello became laughably infrequent and the old fall-back of coffee only served to scatter my attention more.

How I Increased My Writing Productivity With 4 Easy Steps

Then something changed. Around the same time we covered productivity at work I spoke to my colleagues about the issue and, from their suggestions, worked out a routine for how to improve productivity. After all, what I had tried certainly wasn’t doing the trick, and many successful individuals have their own daily routine or methods; this also helped me get over the fact that yes, you sometimes need to be brutally honest with yourself, or reach out and ask for help to find the best productivity hacks.

The result? Well, if a 375% increase in work output doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what will.

Prioritizing Tasks

how to improve productivity - calendar events

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Sometimes the easiest fixes are the best, and by far the most effective measure I’ve taken is to prioritize my work day. What do I mean by this? Well, first off, you’ll need to work out what the most productive time of day is for you and you alone.

In my case, I tend to get the most done from 9-12am. I used to spend this time clearing out the smaller tasks of the day, such as answering questions, doing minor edits, etc., so that I could focus down on my one important task during the afternoon. This was a huge mistake.

Not only did I end up spending far more time and effort than was required on my smaller tasks, but I was halfway to mental exhaustion by the time I started to write templates or blog posts. This meant that I would often work until 8, 9 or even 10pm, as I knew that I hadn’t done enough by the time 5pm rolled around. I was inefficient as all hell, and to be honest, it started to take its toll on my mental health. Nothing too serious, but I could feel myself teetering on the edge of the great pit of self-pity, which isn’t a nice place to be.

To solve this problem, Google Calendar has been truly wondrous. Until two weeks ago, my only use for this was to remind myself of company calls and public holidays; a veritable barren wasteland of opportunities. Now, I have events set up every day to do two 2 hour sprints on large projects from 9am until 1pm; slap-bang in the middle of my most productive hours. In the afternoon I now do 2 hours of editing on the previous day’s work, then spend the rest of my time on the smaller cleanup tasks.


how to improve productivity - music

Remember what I said about music being distracting? Well, it turns out that I was listening to entirely the wrong kind of music. Songs that you like (hell, even songs that you know at all) are a big no-no, and my 4-hour mix of Swing and Electro Swing did nothing to keep my butt still and in my writing chair (I’d highly recommend it whilst cooking though).

Focus@Will, on the other hand, is fantastic. Another case point in how useful technology can be in keeping up productivity, this little doozy lets you select a genre of background music which has been specifically chosen to help your mind focus on the task at hand. Although I tend to just switch between the Classical and Focus Spa channels (depending on how much my brain decides to rebel that day), there are a total of 22 to choose from, including those in Beta.

Another advantage of Focus is that you can set a timer until your next break or just press play and go, whatever floats your boat! Personally, I like to mix it up – if I feel that I’m on a roll, I’ll let it play until I stop.

Whether you’re using an app or not, find the music that helps you focus; the only solid rule is to avoid anything with lyrics. You can listen to your favorite jam in your own time, but for work hours, it’s focus or nothing.

Yes, that means The Avalanches are out.

Feed (and Water) the Body, Feed the Mind

Although I’m not sure about other writers, I never used to eat breakfast. A thermos full of strong black coffee and a brisk morning taking the dogs out was more than enough to set me on my way. In fact, food wouldn’t touch my lips until around 2pm, when a sandwich and refill of coffee was in order.

Guess what? Another big missed-steak (I’m so sorry).

Having breakfast and a constant supply of water is an absolute must for anyone wondering how to improve productivity. Not only are you less distracted by hunger pains, but it’s shockingly easy to become dehydrated if you’re not careful. I don’t mean that working without water will cause you to die of thirst (at least, not immediately), but it will start to hinder your performance; this is especially true of any field requiring you to use your noggin.

how to improve productivity - water
Trust me, I know how tempting it is to just skip the grub. I convinced myself that I was better without it anyway, on account of my general lack of exercise (stupid, I know). For around three years I kept the fast until early afternoon, powered by coffee and a haze of self-assured delusion. Now I’m still powered by coffee, but at least I’m not deluded.

The Results

Earlier, I banded about a figure when claiming that my travels have resulted in productivity going up 375%, and this is no lie. The week before these measures, I had managed to produce a whopping two drafts of what would become the Git Workflow and User Story Template. Part of me wants to defend that with the fact that they needed re-writing twice, but if I’m honest, those schoolboy errors should not have happened in the first place.

After sorting myself out and getting my arse in gear, I completed five templates, three drafts and the Software Development Processes post in one week. No, that wasn’t a typo; I went from two incomplete templates to (the equivalent of) around seven and a half instantly.

Now, I could mention that my Grammarly weekly word count rose to 840% of my previous count, but I somehow doubt that’s terribly accurate. After all, when a program reports that you’ve written over 200,000 words in one of your less productive weeks, alarm bells start to ring pretty prominently.

How To Improve Productivity

In short, even the smallest changes can reap a world of rewards. By altering four seemingly insignificant aspects of my working life, I almost quadrupled my output the very next day. Not only this, but I’ve even been working fewer hours than previously; I’ve come to rather enjoy these things called “evenings”.

how to improve productivity - relax

If you find yourself struggling with deadlines or just plain knowing that you can do more, give these steps a try. You won’t regret it, I promise.

Tried our tips and have feedback, or perhaps have your own tricks on how to improve productivity? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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How to Improve Productivity By 375%: A Case Study On Getting Stuff Done

3 Tips For Leveraging the ‘Near Me’ Search Trend

Last April, it was reported that Google Searches With ‘Near Me’ Surged 34 Times Since 2011. A key stat from that article indicates:

Words like “near me,” “closest,” and “nearby” are increasingly common across the billions of queries on Google every month. More and more, people are looking for things in their vicinity — be it a gym or a mall, a plumber, or a cup of coffee. Google search interest in “near me” has increased 34 times since 2011 and nearly doubled since last year. The vast majority come from mobile — 80 percent in Q4 2014.

Just this month there was a another report that stated that the amount of ‘Near Me’ mobile searches has risen by triple digits since last year. Specifically:Searches on all devices looking for something “near me” are up 130 percent over last year; and mobile comprises 88 percent of all “near me” searches.

Searches on all devices looking for something “near me” are up 130 percent over last year; and mobile comprises 88 percent of all “near me” searches.

Near Me Searches Doubling year over year

You would think that this type of “serendipity” searching would be for low cost and immediate items such as lunch, coffee or a tow if your car broke down. But the latest study showed that searches for luxury items such as cars and jewelry are increasingly coming up in these “near me” type searches.

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We have reached a tipping point where a “mobile and real time yellow pages” is being created. This makes things more challenging for small businesses, since they can’t call up their “mobile/real time yellow pages sales rep” to place an order! But there are things a small business owner can do so they become more visible in these near me searches.

1. Make sure Google knows you – if you operate a small and local business and have not claimed your business on Google My Business (, you are missing out on the simplest and easiest thing you can do to help your local online visibility. Google My Business is simple and easy to setup, and there are even easier ways to verify your business than in the past (e.g. you may be able to skip the postcard confirmation if you can provide other authoritative means).

2. Get cozy with a local expert – If there is a publisher or blogger that covers your particular market, you should make sure you have a relationship with them. This goes beyond advertising – we’re not saying ads are a good or bad way to go. What we are saying is that ads will not help at all with ‘near me’ searches.

‘Near me’ searches rely on a business directory to provide current information such as NAP (Name/Address/Phone), hours of operation, website and other highly sought after data. If your local expert has a business directory, make sure you are on it and that you are profiled heavily.

The best option for every local business is their local digital publisher. If there is a site that reports the news in their daily community, they will have a significant amount of local authority with search engines. If they have a complete and authoritative business directory, you should be listed (and highlighted) there. Make absolutely sure that your NAP is the same in your local business directory as it is with Google. If you can find a local digital publisher that will publish your listing AND update your listing with the major directory aggregators (these are global companies such as Infogroup, Acxiom, Factual and Localeze that feed the majority of internet directories on the web today), then you’ve hit a home run.

3. Promote your business – Again, we don’t mean ads, for the same reason as #2. What we mean is consistent and regular new content about your business showing up online. Ideally on the local expert sites suggested in #2. If you have Events or business Promotions, list them on your own site for sure, but make sure they are listed on local authoritative sites too.

Customer feedback is a must – the more people talk about you online, the easier you will be found. Make it as easy as possible for customers to give you feedback. This is easily the most overlooked (and biggest value) strategy that a small business owner has.

We can’t stress enough how much this a priority. Published reports indicate that 78% of mobile searches for businesses result in a purchase. The click through rate for ads is now in the very low single digits (and in many cases, even lower than 1%). With your limited marketing funds, where do you think your time and money is best spent?

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3 Tips For Leveraging the ‘Near Me’ Search Trend