Friday, 31 October 2014

7 Steps to Becoming a Rockstar at Social Media Marketing

7 Steps to Becoming a Rockstar at Social Media

Writers of fiction and indeed all artists are creative but most importantly, they are natural born leaders.  If they were not leaders, they would not start creating in the first place.  The mark of a great artist is that he or she continuously improves and gains vitality with each new creation.
A true artist never stops exploring new ground with their art.

Artists are open to feedback (and feedback is often negative), are resilient in the face of adversity and use all that happens in their lives to improve their self-expression.  They balance the challenges of staying true to their vision with commercial viability.

If you’ve been working in social media for a while, chances are, you relate to the plight of artists.  Like great artists, the best social media marketers are creative and are natural born leaders.  Inspired artists express themselves without the presence of a manager or any sort of supervisor.  They just simply do what comes naturally.

Be willing to experiment

You probably jumped on social media marketing without any manager or boss telling you to use social media as a marketing channel.  As a marketer, you have the innate curiosity to find out how you can shape the new social media channels and like all great artists, you’re not afraid to experiment.  You don’t allow trolls to deter you and you keep pushing for your vision for your business or career.

Maybe you’re already inspired by a mentor, a manager or a business person and are seeking to become more like him or her.  You have a vision for the life you’d like to create for yourself.  You are focused on self-actualization and insist on delivering the best of your abilities no matter what you do.  You are in a way, an artist.

The habits

So what are the seven habits of artists who end up enjoying success in their careers?  By the way, success can have different meaning to different people.  It does not always mean fame, fortune, you know the trappings.  It could be the mastery of a particular style, a mentorship or acceptance by a group of people whom one respects highly.

1. Be inspired

Follow those who inspire you.  Observe what they’re doing.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.   For beginners, visionaries like Steve Jobs, Sir Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington all have biographies that you can read.  Once you’ve started there, find out the people they worked with and start following them on social media.  Observe very carefully what they talk about, what they share, read, read and read.

2. Connect with others

As you go on reading about those who’ve made a huge impact on our lives, you’ll also observe some of the people they’re inspired by and some people they collaborate with.  By all means, connect with these people on social media.  Make an attempt to find out what they’re working on.  At this stage, start forming a strong idea of how your strengths (you know your personality type, your strengths, skills, weaknesses and what you love to do) can contribute to projects that you’re finding yourself getting excited about.

3. Get Personal

You will get rejected and you will have good and bad interactions with others in your pursuit of strengthening your personal or business brand on social media.  Let all of these interactions be a lesson to you.  Do not be afraid to be vulnerable.  Reveal any weaknesses you felt and how you could improve for next time.  Think and express these thoughts on social media in a way that can help others express themselves and objectives better.

4. Get over yourself

I love to throw in the random Prince reference.  If you haven’t seen Purple Rain, check it out ASAP.  In the movie, Prince is a real dickhead.  He bullies his band mates and refuses to look at the songs they write (even though they’ve just written Purple Rain).  He strokes his own ego by literally jerking off on stage with his guitar.  Don’t be that guy.  Write stuff that will be meaningful to others and that also brings me to my next point.

5. Seek collaboration

There are people out there who are possibly doing a better job than you are.  Acknowledge and seek collaboration opportunities with them.  You will learn so much by working within a team.  Yeah, yeah, creating and being an artist is a solitary profession, but consider this, David Bowie is known to have brought out the best in the musician he’s worked with, so seek people who have a knack for bringing out the best in you, and do great work together.

6. Accept that sometimes your less inspired work will be rewarded

I will throw in another David Bowie reference here, my apologies.  I’m somewhat obsessed with his career.  You will also find that sometimes your most inspired work will not be the one that gets the most amount of attention or attracts the most funding.  Ziggy Stardust was truly inspired stuff, as was Thin White Duke, but when we talk about David Bowie’s commercial success, that peaked with Let’s Dance, an album that David Bowie does not consider to be his most inspired work.  Such is life.

7. Never stop exploring

No matter how many goals you’ve kicked, how many followers you’ve got, who you know, etc… there’s always got to be something you’re striving for, otherwise you might be on your way out.  Find some way to always have something to look forward to.  You can.
Take these tips, apply them liberally and see where it takes you.  I look forward to connecting.


Monday, 27 October 2014

11 Words that Enhance Trust in a Blog Post

Every blog article is an attempt to secure the reader’s trust.
  • If the reader doesn’t trust you, they won’t buy from you.
  • If the reader doesn’t trust you, they won’t believe what you’re saying.
  • If the reader doesn’t trust you, they won’t convert.

Whenever you write, you should pay attention to this all-important subject of trust.
So how do you do it? How do you build trust? I’ve assembled a list of 11 statements that have been proven to build trust.
It’s important to remember that trust is a whole-package deal. You can’t simply throw in a few trust words and expect all your readers to automatically trust you. You have to use other trust factors such as detailed copy, authoritative tone, consistent output, high quality, social signals, and a good reputation.

Along with these things, you can add in phrases and words that will drive that trust even further.


How to use this list of trust words.

The words and phrases in this list will improve the trust in your blog, regardless of how you use them.
Keep in mind that these are intended to be used on your blog. In my study of what makes blogs trustworthy, I’ve found that it always comes back to quality content as the most important factor.
Jeff Bullas conducted a survey, and asked people “do blogs themselves add credibility to a website?” Overwhelmingly, respondents said “yes.”

blog credibility

When he dug deeper into the specific factors that added credibility, “quality content” was at the top of the list.

which factors add credibility to a blog

To further drive the point home, Bullas discovered that bad content is the largest factor that ruins blog credibility. It’s all about the content — it’s quality and “trustability”.
The logical conclusion is that the specific words and phrases that you use in your blog article will help to enhance trust.
These words will help you achieve the level of success you need to in your blog articles. Here’s how you can use them.
  • Add them to the end of your copy. Roger Dooley, who writes on the subject of neuromarketing, explained it this way: “One short sentence at the end of your ad could cause a major increase in the level of trust customers place in you? Believe it or not, it’s true. Researchers found that placing…[a] statement at the end of an ad for an auto service firm caused their trust scores to jump as much as 33%!” The mere presence of these words helps to enhance the trustability of a blog article.
  • Sprinkle them throughout your copy. These are just single words. You can sprinkle them throughout your copy to create an overall sense of assurance in the article as a whole.

Make these words a part of your regular vocabulary when you write, and you’ll be able to better gain the trust of your readers.

1. Trust.

Not surprisingly, the word “trust” enhances trust. If you want someone to trust you, simply tell them that they can.
There are many ways to impact trust, but the most direct way to do so is just by saying “trust.” You can use this word in a wide variety of ways:
  • Trust us.
  • Trust me.
  • Trust the data.
  • Trust the research
  • Can be trusted
  • Trusted us

2. Fair Price

When discussing pricing, tell your readers that they’re getting a “fair price.”
Every consumer has their guard up when they are making a purchase. Are they getting a fair deal? Are they losing money? Is it worth it?
Inform your readers that the price you are producing is a “fair price,” and the trust factor of your site will increase.
In Roger Dooley’s research, this phrase improved the trust factor by 7%.

3. Caring

People want to know that they are being treated right. Even though they are a reader, seemingly passive, they want to still feel as if they are respected, valued, and appreciated. The word “caring” can communicate this concept.
In Dooley’s study, the word “caring” improved trust factor by 11%.

4. Fair Treatment

The term “fair treatment” produces an uptick in trust for similar reasons to “caring.” In tests, this word improved the trust factor of a website by 20%.
“Fair treatment” is very user-centered. This idea of focusing on a user is essential in creating a good experience. User experience isn’t just about functioning menus and good design. It’s also about speaking directly to the user in the way that you compose your copy.

5. Quality

Quality is one of those words that just makes you feel assured. We all know the feeling that the product or service that we are receiving lacks in quality.
When you assert that your product or service has quality, you can gain your user’s trust.
In studies, this word improved the trust factor of copy by 30%.

6. Competency

Even though it’s a longer word, “competency” is a great one to use in your copy. In fact, as Dooley’s study indicates, it has the highest trust factor of any of the words he examined, improving the trust by 33%!

7. Apologize/Sorry

When you take the time and effort to apologize, people will trust you more. I’ve seen this happen in my own blogging experience. It’s amazing how people will jump on a simple typo or broken link.
When this happens, I fix it, apologize and move on. The simple act of saying “Sorry” shows readers that you care, and that you’re humble and transparent enough to own up to your mistakes.

8. Change

When you tell readers you’re changing, this can grow trust, too. Change is hard and uncomfortable. It also reflects an effort to get better and to improve.
Simple change-oriented statements will increase your trustability:
  • “We recognize that some of our previous articles weren’t detailed enough. We’re changing that now. Beginning in October, all articles will be 2,000 words or less, and be reviewed by a team of three editors.”
  • “Unfortunately, we had to let our marketing manager go. We are now changing our entire company structure to provide more care to the customer.”

9. Never

The word “never” is a negative statement, but when it’s used for a positive purpose, it can have a profound effect on your blog’s trustability.
Here are some examples of how you can use the word “never:”
  • Never release
  • Never share
  • Never misrepresent
  • Never overcharge
  • Never leave
  • Never hang up
  • Never neglect

10. Always

The word “always” is a lot like “never.” It suggests a sense of stability, assurance, and protection.
When you “always” do something, people have an easier time trusting you.
  • Always be free
  • Always protect your identity
  • Always have the lowest price
  • Always produce quality content
Use the word always a couple of times, and you’ve enhanced trust.

11. Privacy

People value their privacy. This is especially true in an era of constant security breach, identity theft, corporate hacks, and data loss.
When you tell people that you’ll protect their privacy, respect their privacy, guard their privacy, and honor their privacy, they are more likely to trust you.


The next time you write a blog, think about trust.
Will people trust this content?
Why will they (or won’t they) trust it?
What can you do to improve their trust in the blog post?
These simple words and phrases will go a long way in improving your blog’s trust.
What do you do to enhance trust in your blog posts? 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Pinterest: Not Just Interior Design & Cats - There’s Real Money To Be Had

This month’s guest post on all things social comes from Marketing Insights Analyst, Natalie Meehan. Natalie has worked in marketing for almost a decade, and forms part of Brandwatch’s marketing insights team - writing reports and other content about all things social. She keeps a big, well-stocked tin of sweets on her desk at all times.
Think Pinterest, and you might think it’s just a platform for perving over rainbow layered cakes, or watching people try and fail at recreating hairstyles that require scaffolding and a week off work to achieve.

The thing is, Pinterest is a whole lot more than that.

Bringing in the mega bucks

It’s a money spinner, and one that’s crazily underutilised by businesses. Want to see some facts and figures and some unnecessary caps lock? OF COURSE, YOU DO.
The average order placed by Pinterest shoppers at $169, nearly $100 more than orders placed from Facebook and Twitter adverts.
  • Pinterest users are high earners, with 28% earning more than $100,000 a year
  • Pinterest drives 7.10% of web traffic that sites receive, more than Reddit or Twitter
  • 69% of online consumers who visit Pinterest have found an item that they’ve then purchased, or intended to.
It’s clear to see that Pinterest is not just kittens and cupcakes. With Pinterest being a far more open landscape than Facebook or Twitter, it’s much easier to see what exactly people — your potential customers — are interested in, and savvy businesses are using this data in a myriad of ways, including to ‘reverse showroom’, or use secret boards to drive sales.


Using the right tools for the job

Community Managers in all sectors will likely be well-versed in using social media management tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. These platforms enable you to make the most of a lot of your social media accounts - Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all mostly pretty easy to manage and report on. But I’m not going to teach granny to suck eggs here. You’ll know this already.
What you may not know is that there are a number of analytics tools that enable you to manage your Pinterest accounts in the same way.
These lesser-known tools are perhaps a step into the unknown, a leap of faith. Do you pick a free tool, and hope for the best, or shell out for a paid option and cross your fingers that you’re going to get at least some return on investment?

We decided to delve into the murky world of Pinterest analytics  tools mainly out of curiosity. We were trying to decide what would  work best for us as a company, and we realised that there wasn’t all that much information out there.What we wanted was a simple report that rated everything out there in a clear and simple manner - one that would help us make the best business decision for us.
We couldn’t find one, so we made one.

Making the right choice just got a little easier

We’ve evaluated Pinterest’s top tools, giving marketers an insightful overview of the industry which stretches far beyond Pinterest’s basic web offering.

For each tool we’ve isolated five key areas to most simply describe the functionality -
  • Competitor Analysis: How can you use the tool to track competitors profiles and benchmark your brand’s performance against others?
  • Historical Data: How far back can the data be retrieved from Pinterest prior to the date of your initial subscription?
  • Scheduling: Does the tool have the feature to schedule the publication of pins, and is it any good?
  • Website Traffic: How about metrics that show traffic data relating to your website and different pins?
  • Pin Metrics: How does the tool display native Pinterest engagement metrics such as likes, repins and comments?
We’ve also included a detailed index for these metrics and criteria, because buzzwords can get pretty buzzwordy, if you know what I’m saying.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

37 SEO Experts You Should Be Following on Twitter

I've been speaking at search conferences since 2001 and have spent a ton of time getting to know who is who in the industry. In fact, I look forward to seeing some of you at SES Chicago to discuss Buyer Legends. Every day it seems that there are another dozen experts to follow on SEO. But, who should you really be paying attention to in 2014?

For starters, solid SEOs need to have a proven track record in the ever-changing world of search - remember, search engines like Google frequently update their algorithms. Another criterion is the ability to master everything from creating content for social media accounts to establishing PPC campaigns to turning profits for their clients. After all, it is about delivering the results.
With all those factors that in mind, here is a selection of 37 SEO experts you should know about in 2014, in no particular order. Some you may have heard of, others not so much. Regardless, these experts have the chops to deserve your attention.

Kris Jones
Kristopher B. Jones is an industry leading SEO expert, entrepreneur, and author of the best-selling book Search-Engine Optimization: Your Visual Blueprint to Effective Internet Marketing. Kris is the former president and chief executive (CEO) of the Pepperjam Affiliate network and is currently an advisor to our friends at Internet Marketing Ninjas.
"Get your most supportive customers to write reviews about your business and submit them to Google+." - Kris @ SEM Rush

Marcus Tober
Marcus got his start in search after developing the SEO tool, which led to him becoming a pioneer in search analytics software. He founded Searchmetrics in 2007. His clients include very well-known brands like Siemens, T-Mobile, and Symantec.
"The cool thing about search is the way it just keeps changing and growing, meaning website owners and marketers are constantly needing to adapt and exploit new opportunities to maximize their search presence." - Marcus @ Econsultancy

Bruce Clay
Bruce has been involved in search since its infancy, having founded Bruce Clay, Inc all the way back in 1996. Bruce has been at the forefront of the SEO industry ever since. He is a popular speaker at industry conferences, and is also the author of Search Engine Optimization All-in-One for Dummies.
"Too many companies think SEO is easy, cheap, and that you can successfully fool Google. Clearly Google is fighting deceptive tactics, and the penalties are severe. Take a shortcut to save time and money and you will be hurt by Google." - Bruce @ Delaware, Inc 

Murray Newlands
Murray Newlands a well-respected online marketer and professional who manages SEO PR at Influence People. Murray is deputy editor of Search Engine Journal, and is a frequent contributor to well-known business brands Inc.,, and VentureBeat. He wrote Content Marketing Strategy for Professionals with Bruce Clay.
"It's not enough to just produce content. Your content must educate, inspire, or entertain your audience." - Murray @ Entrepreneur

Mikkel deMib Svendsen
Mikkel has been working around search engines since 1997. He is the host of the Strike Point radio show and is now publishing shorter and more focused books on one specific topic rather than the traditional textbook, which tries to cover too much information and gets outdated quickly in this industry. The first two books are good examples of how specific the topics will be: Search Engine Reputation Management and Digital Marketing for Healthcare.
"I published this idea about 10 years ago. It is a very effective strategy...I'd call it the best SEO strategy ever, and it's very, very simple. DO NOT OPTIMIZE FOR SEARCH ENGINES. Focus on users to stay ahead of the engines, this is the best SEO strategy I can offer you today and tomorrow." - deMib 

Marty Weintraub
With a "Search Personality of the Year" award under his belt, Marty is a very successful innovator in search. He is the founder of AimClear, serving large clients like Intel and Firestone, and is often found speaking at industry events all over the world.
"The coolest SEO practitioners test their keywords, messages, landing pages, and funnels with PPC and then apply what they know to SEO." - Marty @

Pierre Zarokian
Mr. Zarokian is an industry veteran with three distinct company foundations under his belt. He started by founding his search engine marketing company Submit Express in 1998, followed by social media firm iClimber in 2008, and most recently Reputation Fighters in 2013.
"SEO [enables] businesses to push down negative pages [to] the second page or lower, where they will be 'buried' and attract less attention." - Pierre @ SEJ

John Rampton
John is sometimes referred to as a "start-up addict." He is the founder of Adogy, a Palo Alto-based advertising agency, is a frequent contributor to Search Engine Journal and The Examiner, and has twice been named in the top 10 of the "Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts" by Hannapin Marketing.
"Put up amazing content that their customers want. Build products they want to use. Be a company people have to talk about." - John @

Brent Csutoras
Brent is the CMO of Pixel Road Designs and founder of Kairay Media, which specializes in content marketing and viral content creation. You can find him speaking on the search and social marketing conference circuit or being mentioned in leading publications such as Forbes and Wired.
"[The] secret sauce is just hard work and dedication. Those are the keys to success with social media, or actually just about anything in life." - Brent @ SEJ

Cynthia Johnson
Cynthia "The Social Media Girl" is the director of social media marketing for RankLab. She's been involved with major corporate social media campaigns including clients like Chevrolet and Levis. She has also been a keynote speaker for PubCon.
"Social media as it is now is not here to stay and we should hope that it isn't. The concept and idea of social media will remain, however, and it will evolve and change just as anything in life should." - Cynthia @

Travis Wright
Travis is a self-described "eternal smartass" who got his start as a standup comedian. He's spent the last 15 years developing and optimizing hundreds of business websites and can be found the speaking at industry conferences like SMX and SXSW.
"Success and fortune are a fickle bitch, so you have to keep moving forward, learning, growing, and evolving in this business world. Eventually, one of these ideas will bust through." - Travis @

Duane Forrester
Duane is known as "the online marketing guy" whose current role is a senior product manager for Bing and their Webmaster Outreach Program. He is also staff at Search Engine Forums and speaks at search conferences like SES and Pubcon.
"If it's me and it's my budget and I'm spending the money, I'm putting the money into usability before I'm putting the money into SEO." - Duane @ Stone Temple Consulting

Jayson DeMers
Jason is the founder and CEO of Seattle-based marketing agency AudienceBloom. He is a very frequent contributor to popular sites and blogs like Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Search Engine Watch. Jason is very passionate about demystifying SEO for small business owners.
"[More] content results in higher quality, and that's good for everyone. Lower-quality content will be buried in the noise and won't yield any ROI." - Jayson @ Oktopost 

Heidi Cohen
Heidi is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies and has held top marketing positions at well-known content brands including The Economist and DoubleDay. She has also taught marketing at a variety of universities including New York University and Rutgers.
"You always need to keep tabs on what's happening around you. Keep up with changes in the environment (including styles, politics, and economics), transformations in technology, and the evolution of competitors." - Heidi @ TopRankBlog

Aki Libo-on
Aki is the author of a beginners guide to blogging called How to Start a Blog and Earn From It. She also is a regular contributor on topics such as content marketing and blogging at Search Engine Journal.
"Every action must have a goal - and not just any ordinary or broad objective, but something that is clear, specific, reasonable and actionable." - Aki @ SEJ

Drew Hendricks
Drew is the president of AudienceBloom and also serves as a freelance social media strategist and freelance writer. He has several years of experience creating tons of successful social media campaigns for his clients. Drew is also a frequent contributor to publications including The Huffington Post, Technorati, and Forbes.
"The best writers have their favorite authors, so read a few favorite blog posts before sitting down to write. Imitation really is the best form of flattery." - Drew @ The Huffington Post

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is founder of SEJ and Foundation Digital, his digital marketing agency. Loren has been on the SEO scene for more than 15 years, working with some large fortune 500 companies like General Motors and Disney, and is a bona fide legend of the industry.
"It may sound counter-productive, but focusing less on link building can actually gain more links." - Loren @ SEW 

Mitchell Stoker
For the last five years Mitchell has used his online strategy skill-set to help more than 40 national and local businesses thrive online. He is currently the owner of Red Barn Ventures and contributes content to Mashable and the Wall Street Journal.
"The solution to this is to build your brand and business on sound principles that will earn trust over time. It takes quite a while to earn 'real' trust, but is well worth it." - Mitchell @ Maple North

Stuart Draper
Stuarts's mom refers to him as a "social butterfly" but he's also the founder of Get Found First, a pay-per-click advertising agency founded in 2008, as well as a cutting-edge Internet marketing simulator and course Stukent.
"I would argue that the number one reason all agencies lose business is lack of strong and effective communication." - Stu @ Get Found First

Greg Boser
Greg has been involved in search engine optimization since what feels like the beginning of time! He is currently the president and co-founder of Foundation Digital, located in the Greater Los Angeles area. You can usually find Greg at leading search engine industry conferences like SMX and the Affiliate Summit.
"I look at [SEO] like I'm a weather man. I think I'm a really good weather man, but there are times when you say it's going to be 75 degrees and sunny and somebody's party got rained on. That's because we don't control everything." - Greg @ The History of SEO

Zac Johnson
If you're looking for super affiliates tips, Zach will tell you how he has made millions of dollars over the last 10 years in affiliate marketing. Be sure to check out his podcast titled "Rise of the Entrepreneur," which can be found on iTunes.
"Anyone can write an article, but actually being able to write something that people can relate with and makes them want to take action immediately... now that's powerful!" - Zac @ Agile Leverage

Matt Southern 
Matt Southern is a freelance writer who simplifies search engine and content marketing with a self-proclaimed "uncanny talent" for breaking down the complex subjects into digestible bits of information.
"A solid strategy is like a road map for success. Without one you're just navigating through the Web aimlessly."- Matt @

Ania Dziadon
Ania is the CEO and chief strategist of Add Optimization, as well as the CEO of With more than 10 years experience in inbound marketing, her insights have made her a pioneer in the search technology field.
"There is a big connection between lead generation and SEO due to the fact that the majority of quality leads come from the [search] space." - Ania @ LeadsCon

Bob Rains
Bob's "official" job title is "SEO Nerd" at CBS Interactive. Bob is known internationally as a "SEO of the Stars" and you can usually find him sharing his knowledge of creating and implementing innovative digital strategies at SEOktoberfest.
"SEO isn't purely a link game, so why should negative SEO be purely a link game?" - Bob @ SEJ

AJ Ghergich
AJ is this founder of Ghergich & Co. and has been involved in SEO since 2004. His boutique agency creates and promotes visual assets such as infographics, blog posts, and other forms of kick-ass content marketing.
"When you are learning SEO it can be easy to just get into the habit of reading best practices and assuming they are true. The best knowledge you can give yourself is by doing." - AJ @ Powered by Search

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is indeed very, *ahem* smart-y when it comes to SEO and content marketing. She is currently a blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and founder of MyBlogU and
"I never offer a guest post unless I am 100% satisfied with it and unless I am 99% sure (you can never be 100% sure) that it's a useful one." - Ann @ Brick Marketing

Eric Siu
Eric is the CEO of Single Grain, a Southern California-based digital marketing agency who works with both Fortune 500 companies and up-and-coming start-ups. Eric is also a frequent contributor to
"The number-one cardinal sin most new social media marketers commit is not sticking to a regular posting schedule." - Eric @

Marcela De Vivo
Marcela has been involved in SEO for the last 15 years and is the founder of Griffin Media, which serves many internationally recognized clients. She wants you to know if you are interested in learning more about SEO she is absolutely your girl!
"To know what your audience craves, you have to get into their heads. Building marketing personas goes a long way in helping you create content targeted to their interests." - Marcela @ Social Media Explorer

Pratik Dholakiya
Pratik prides himself in the providing his clients with real, tangible results. He's been doing just that within the digital marketing space for more than seven years. You may have seen Pratik featured in such publications as Forbes, Moz, and SEW.
"Estimates and correlations might not count as proof of ROI, but when you tie your strategy to numbers, your actions become harder to ignore." - Pratik @ Crazy Egg

Brian Honigman
Brian's byline is "Smart. Social. Storytelling." He's a marketing consultant, freelance writer, and also a professional speaker - Brian has spoken at NYU, UNICEF, and for The American Advertising Federation. He has also contributed to such publications as The New York Times and The Next Web.
"People tend to trust other people more than they do the idea of a brand, which is why it's important to occasionally focus on the key individuals that have built your business in order to help build trust as your team explains its story to others." - Brian @ The Next Web

Andrew Pincock
Andrew is currently the CEO of Traffico, a content marketing, digital strategy, and PPC management firm. Andrew has worked for major players like AOL, as well as several start-up Internet technology companies.
"Metrics are essentially a way for decision making to be easier. At a glance, you can see how much traffic your website is getting, whether your pages are performing as intended, and see ways you can improve your sales." - Andrew @ SmallBizTechnology

Peter Daisyme
Since 2010, Peter has been the director of search at Pixloo, which helps people sell their properties online. When he's not busy with Pixloo, Peter shares his love for SEO and online marketing on publications like Search Engine Journal.
"Online reputation management is no longer just about being the most popular. It also has to do with security of a financial asset, personal assets, personal safety and well-being."- Peter @ SEJ

Joost de Valk
Joost is the CEO and founder of Yoast, which he started in 2010. Yoast consults clients on SEO, online marketing, and WordPress. In fact, you've probably used - or are currently using - one of his powerful WordPress themes. Prior to founding Yoast, Joost launched the biggest CSS3 resource on the Web,, and the extension Quix.
"There is a lot of snake oil and a lot of people selling weird stuff around SEO that either does, or doesn't work, or just works temporarily, which is why the trade has a bit of a bad name. But in the end, today good SEO means getting your site in order technically, then writing awesome content, and have people link to that awesome content so you can get found, which is a bit of a three stage rocket." - Joost @ Zerply

Eric Hebert
Eric has been working behind-the-scenes in the SEO world for more than 10 years. In 2006 he founded to help those in the music and entertainment industries, and has turned it into a boutique marketing and advertising agency. He recently took on an additional role as director of marketing for
"Stop reading articles about SEO. Stop reading articles about 'How Facebook is Going to BLAH BLAH BLAH' your business. Start caring about your customers, about your service, about being the best damn business owner you can be." - Eric @

Dr. Peter J. Meyers
Dr. Pete is a marketing scientist at Moz. Because he's a cognitive psychologist, he is able to use his knowledge to make "data cool." He specializes in SEO, online marketing, and data science. He was previously president of User Effect.
"Be curious - about how things work, about what makes people tick, about anything, really. Curiosity is probably the driving force behind data science, and it leads to the kind of passion that can also make you a good marketer. Connect with people early and often - don't wait until you're between jobs to network. Building up relationships takes years, and it's vital to your long-term career opportunities." - Dr. Pete @ Job Shadow 

Rae Hoffman 
Rae Hoffman, aka Sugarrae, is an outspoken blogger who covers everything in the SEO, social media, and affiliate marketing field on her blog. She's also the co-owner and CEO of PushFire, a Texas-based Internet marketing agency.
"You and you alone determine whether or not you'll be successful in your business goals. There are no acceptable excuses in life. There's only action and inaction-and your choice of which road you decide to take." - Rae @ Flippa Blog

Avinash Kaushik
Avinash is the best-selling author of Web Analytics 2.0 and Web Analytics: An Hour a Day. He's also the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, co-founder of Market Motive, and runs the website Occam's Razor.
"I love SEO. It is such a fascinating science and the rewards are awesome. The thing that appeals to me personally is that there are, mostly, a clear set of logical things we have to do in order to rank high for relevant keywords. It is fun to do those things at a system or marketing level." - Avinash @ Moz 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

5 Communication Behaviors We All Must Adopt


I recently worked with an Indian executive based in the USA, an American executive based in Singapore, an Australian executive based in the UK, and a Chinese executive based in Shanghai. And they all complain about the same problems:

“My people need to learn how to get to the point.”
“We have too many meaningless meetings.”
“I need more context.”

Regardless of industry, native language, or country of operations, executives the world over have the same complaint – their people need to do a better job at communicating clearly and succinctly.
So if you want to impress the people around you, improve the morale of the people around you, and positively add to your organizational culture, here are some behaviors to think about adopting:

1. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Walk into the room ready to go. Don’t wing it. Plan ahead of time what you want or need to say, what the key points are, what the value is, and what the story is.

2. Know your audience.

Avoid the “one size fits all” approach to communication. Different audiences will care about different things, require different levels of detail, see different value, and ask different questions. Think about it ahead of time, and plan for it.

If they are flipping to your last slide in the first minute or two, your audience may be impatient.

3. Get to the point.

We’re not writing movie scripts here. No one benefits from suspenseful workplace communication. Tell the audience up front what the main message is. If they are flipping to your last slide in the first minute or two, your audience may be impatient. But the bigger problem is that your message is out of sequence.

4. Provide context.

The more senior your audience is, the more important context becomes. Explain right up front, not only what the topic is, but why it is relevant to the audience. Make it clear.

5. Manage the details.

Details matters, but does your audience really need to know all the details? I think not. Be ready to go deeper into detail based on their questions and the flow of the conversation, but don’t assume that your audience will want all the detail. Be ready to provide it, but wait for them to take you there. Too much detail hurts more often than it helps.

When you are prepared, know your audience, get to the point, provide context and manage detail you will be communicating in ways that create competitive advantage for you and positively adds to the organization. And perhaps most importantly, you will be demonstrating that you value and respect everyone else’s time, because your meetings, conference calls and presentations will be efficient, clear, valuable, and will more often than not end on time. Think about how powerful those outcomes would be for your personal and professional brand.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

What Your Customers Expect from Mobile and E-commerce in 2014

Mobile shopping coupleForesee Results delivered its latest “Experience Index: U.S. Retail Edition,” outlining customer satisfaction with, well, U.S. consumers’ e-commerce and retail experience (seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it?).
Of course, making a distinction between e-commerce and retail may not make too much sense, given that it’s all e-commerce now. Which, as it happens, the report endorses heartily. One part of the study looked at customer satisfaction with mobile in particular and came away with some surprising findings. Among the most interesting bits:
  1. Mobile isn’t a separate channel; it connects all channels. According to the report:
    “…mobile is affecting direct sales contribution and purchases in other channels, too.”
    Of course, you can’t benefit if you’re not prepared. I’d recommend considering these tips for gaining more business now that it’s all e-commerce.
  2. Customer reviews matter. A lot. Again, as the report mentions:
    “…consumers’ feedback cannot be overlooked. ‘Improving the customer experience has a bigger payback than most other investments…’”
    I’ve mentioned before that focusing on your brand’s reviews is the single most effective way to improve your digital marketing. According to Foresee Results, your customers agree.
  3. The AGFAM players (Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft) are winning the race. As the study notes,
    “Apple and Amazon are both top-ranked mobile retailers, so it makes sense that they also have been top-ranked mobile customer experience providers for three years in a row…”
    I’ve talked about the advantage shared by Apple and Amazon (along with Google, Facebook, and Microsoft) for some time now. But the same tips that help you succeed in a world where it’s all e-commerce matter just as much to compete with the AGFAM folks. The key point is that you don’t want to trust Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, or Microsoft; you want to use them to your advantage.
  4. Customers expect great experiences everywhere. I’ve said this many times before: Customers don’t go online; they are online. They’re now used to the Internet, everywhere. It’s undoubtedly one of the top trends shaping e-commerce in 2014. And they expect positive experiences, regardless of device or location. As the Foresee study notes,
    “According to consumers, functionality on mobile apps and sites was the area for biggest improvement across the mobile retailers.”
    It’s not enough to think about mobile “someday.” Someday is now. Your customers won’t wait.
The whole report is worth checking out, along with Mobile Commerce Daily’s overall coverage of the study. But the key takeaways suggest that you need to continue to focus on improving your customers’ mobile experience to ensure they have a positive experience overall. Because, as someone said somewhere along the way, it’s all e-commerce. And your customers know it.
If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here. 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Small Business Accounting 101: Ten Steps to Get Your Startup on Track


You’re about to launch your online store (or maybe you just launched) – congratulations! It takes perseverance and passion to get to the point you’re at. However, as you know, business ownership is a constant flood of satisfying milestones coupled with expanding to-do lists. With your launch, you’ll need to get on top of the accounting tasks that come along with owning a store. This list of 10 small business accounting steps will give you the confidence to know you’ve covered your bases, and are ready to move on to the next item on your business to-do list!

1. Open a Bank Account

After you’ve legally registered your business, you’ll need somewhere to stash your business income. Having a separate bank account keeps records distinct and will make life easier come tax time. Note that LLCs, partnerships, and corporations are legally required to have a separate bank account for business. Sole proprietors don’t legally need a separate account, but it’s definitely recommended.
Start by opening up a business checking account, and then any savings accounts that will help you organize funds and plan for taxes. For instance, set up a savings account and squirrel away a percentage of each payment as your self-employed tax withholding. Next you’ll want to consider a business credit card to start building business credit. Corporations and LLCs are required to use a separate credit card to avoid commingling personal and business assets.
Before you talk to a bank about opening an account, do your homework. Shop around for business accounts and compare fee structures. Most business checking accounts have fees that are higher than personal banking, so pay close attention to what you’ll owe.
In order to open a business bank account, you’re required to have a business name, and usually be registered with your state or province. Check with the individual bank for what documents to bring to the appointment.

2. Track Your Expenses

The foundation of solid business record keeping is learning to track your expenses effectively. It’s a crucial step that allows you to monitor the growth of your business, build financial statements, keep track of deductible expenses, prepare tax returns, and support what you report on your tax return.
Right from the beginning, you should establish a system for organizing receipts and other important records. This process can be simple and old school (bring on the FiloFax), or you can use a service like ShoeBoxed. For American store owners, the IRS doesn’t require you to keep receipts for expenses under $75.00, but it’s a good habit nonetheless.
There are five types of receipts that you should pay extra attention to:
  • Meals and Entertainment: Conducting a business meeting in a cafe or restaurant is a great option, just be sure to document it well. On the back of the receipt, record who attended and the purpose of the meal or outing.
  • Out of Town Business Travel: The IRS and CRA are wary of people claiming personal activities as business expenses. Thankfully, your receipts also provide a paper trail of your business activities while away.
  • Vehicle Related Expenses: Record where, when, and why you used the vehicle for business, and then apply the percentage of use to vehicle related expenses.
  • Receipts for Gifts: For gifts like tickets to a concert, it matters whether the gift giver goes to the event with the recipient. If they do, then the expense would be categorized as entertainment, rather than a gift. Note these details on the receipt.
  • Home Office Receipts: Similar to the vehicle expenses, you need to calculate what percentage of your home is used for business and then apply that percentage to home related expenses.
Starting your business at home is a great way to keep overhead low, plus you’ll qualify for some unique tax breaks. You’re able to deduct the portion of your home that’s used for business, as well as your internet connection, cell phone, and transportation to and from work sites and for business errands. Any expense that’s used partly for personal life and partly for business must reflect the mixed use. For instance, if you have one cell phone, you can deduct the percentage you use the device for business. Gas mileage costs are 100% deductible, just be sure to hold on to all records and keep a log of your business miles (where you’re going and the purpose of the trip).

3. Develop a Bookkeeping System

Before we jump into establishing a bookkeeping system, it’s helpful to understand exactly what bookkeeping is, and how it differs from accounting. Bookkeeping is the day-to-day process of recording transactions, categorizing them, and reconciling bank statements.
Accounting is a high level process that looks at business progress and makes sense of the data compiled by the bookkeeper by building financial statements.
As a new business owner, you’ll need to determine which bookkeeping method to use:
  1. You can choose to go the DIY route and use software like Quickbooks or Wave. Alternatively, you could use a simple Excel spreadsheet.
  2. You have the option of using an outsourced or part-time bookkeeper that’s either local or cloud-based like Bench Accounting.
  3. When your business is big enough you can opt to hire an in-house bookkeeper and/or accountant.
With so many options out there, you’re sure to find a bookkeeping solution that will suit your needs.
Canadian and American business owners need to determine whether they’ll use the cash or accrual method of accounting. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two methods here:
  • Cash Method: Revenues and expenses are recognized at the time they are actually received or paid.
  • Accrual Method: Revenues and expenses are recognized when the transaction occurs (even if the cash isn’t in or out of the bank yet) and requires tracking receivables and payables.
Technically, Canadians are required to use the accrual method; but to simplify things, you can use the cash method throughout the year and then make a single adjusting entry at year end to account for outstanding receivables and payables for tax purposes.
American business owners can use cash based accounting if revenues are under USD $5M, otherwise they must use the accrual method. 

4. Set up a Payroll System

As a new online store owner, you’ll likely be a one-person show. However, maybe you’ll hire a part-time employee to help you out, or a freelancer to design your logo. Right away, you need to establish whether that individual is an employee or an independent contractor. For employees, you’ll need to decide on a payroll schedule and ensure that you’re withholding the correct taxes; there are lots of services that can help with this. For independent contractors, be sure to track how much you’re paying each person. American business owners may be required to file 1099s for each contractor at year end (you’ll also need to keep their name and address on file for this!).

5. Investigate Import Tax

Depending on your business model, you may be planning to purchase and import goods from other countries to sell in your store. When importing products, you’ll likely be subject to taxes and duties. These are fees that your country imposes on incoming goods. Take the time to learn about importing goods into the US and Canada, and the associated taxes, so that you know the rules from the get-go. Also, if you are importing goods, the Duty Calculator can help you estimate the fees in your own business and plan for costs. Check out these additional articles on importing into Canada and the US if you have any more questions.

6. Determine How You’ll Get Paid

When sales start rolling in, you’ll need a way to accept the payments. If you’re a North American store owner on Shopify, you can use Shopify Payments to accept credit card payments (Visa, American Express, and Mastercard). This saves you the hassle of setting up a merchant account or third party payment gateway.
If you want to accept credit card payments without using Shopify Payments, you’ll either need a merchant account or you can use a third party payment processor like PayPal. A merchant account is a type of bank account that allows your business to accept credit card payments from customers. If you use a third party payment processor, the fees are generally around 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. You can consult this list to help you find a payment gateway that will work for your location.

7. Establish Sales Tax Procedures

The world of eCommerce has shaken up sales tax regulations and they are admittedly a bit confusing due to location issues. When a customer walks into a brick and mortar retail shop, they pay the sales tax of whatever state or province they make the purchase in, no matter if they live in that city, or they’re visiting from across the world. However, when you sell online, you’re often selling to customers who live in different states/provinces, and even countries.
As a Canadian store owner, you only need to start collecting GST/HST when you have revenues of $30,000 or more in a year (submit the GST/HST you collect in installments). If you want, you can collect GST/HST even if you don’t earn this much in revenue, as you can put it towards Input Tax Credits.
Selling to international customers can be easier than domestic sales because you often don’t need to charge sales tax when selling to out-of-country customers. Canadian store owners don’t need to charge GST/HST to customers who are outside of Canada. For American store owners, international purchases are tax exempt as well. However, this can get a bit complicated depending on the state you live in, so check in with your accountant for detailed information about your specific state’s regulations regarding international sales tax.

8. Determine Your Tax Obligations

Tax obligations vary depending on the legal structure of the business. If you’re self-employed (sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership), you’ll claim business income on your personal tax return. Corporations, on the other hand, are separate tax entities and are taxed independently from owners. Your income from the corporation is taxed as an employee.
Self-employed people need to withhold taxes from their income, and remit these to the government in lieu of the withholding that an employer would normally conduct. For American store owners, you’ll need to pay estimated quarterly taxes if you’ll owe more than $1,000 in taxes this year. Canadians have it a little easier; if your net tax owing is more than $3,000 you’ll be required to pay your income tax in installments.

9. Calculate Gross Margins

Improving your store’s gross margin is the first step towards earning more income overall. In order to calculate gross margin, you need to know the costs incurred to produce your product. To understand this better, let’s quickly define both Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) and gross margin.
Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): These are the direct costs incurred in producing products sold by a company. This includes both materials and direct labor costs.
Gross Margin: This number represents the total sales revenue that’s kept after the business incurs all direct costs to produce the product or service.
Here’s how you can go about calculating gross margin:

Gross Margin (%) = (Revenue - COGS) / Revenue
The difference between how much you sell a product for, and how much the business actually takes home at the end of the day is what truly determines your ability to keep the doors open.

10. Constantly Re-evaluate Your Methods

When you first start out you may opt to use a simple spreadsheet to manage your books but as you grow you’ll want to consider more advanced methods like Quickbooks or Bench. As you keep growing, it’s good to continually reassess the amount of time you’re spending on your books, and how much that time is costing your business. The right bookkeeping solution means you can invest more time in the business with bookkeeping no longer on your plate, and potentially save the business money. Win-win!


Starting a business can be an overwhelming process, but if you follow this list, you’ll have your new store’s finances in order from the beginning. From opening the right type of bank account to determining how much you’ll bring in per product, these tasks will all contribute to your business’s success, now and as it grows.

Monday, 6 October 2014

10 Fresh Ways to Get Better Results From Your Blog Posts

 runner-crossing-finish-lineCongratulations! You've published a blog post. After brainstorming a topic, doing a whole lot of research, writing a few drafts, adding a couple sweet images, picking a call-to-action, having a buddy edit it, and tightening up your title ... the hard work is all done, right? Right?

Not so fast, my friend. While we all wish we could just sit back, put on a pot of tea, and watch the traffic to our posts come pouring in, it doesn't quite work that way.
To get more eyeballs on your new blog post, you need to do more than just hit "publish." You need to optimize that content, promote it, share it, and get it in front of the right people. How you do that all depends on the post, but if you're struggling for some ideas, here are 10 things you can do once you've written a new blog post to get the most out of your efforts.

1) Add a teaser to your email signature.
Adding your most recent blog post to your email signature is one clever way it can support your marketing. You can create a dynamic email signature using a freemium tool called WiseStamp, which can show the title of your most recent blog post and updates automatically as you publish new posts.

2) Shorten your post's URL and use it to link to your post on social networks.
Short URLs are way easier to share and remember than their longer counterpart. You can use to shorten your URLs, or if you're a HubSpot customer, every blog post's URL is automatically shortened and tracks clicks. (HubSpot customers: Learn more about your automatically shortened URLs here.)
Include your new shortened URL in social media posts promoting your new blog post. When posting, keep these two best practices in mind, too:
  1. Use images to promote your post, as this has been proven to significantly increase engagement on both Twitter and Facebook
  2. Switch up the language you use in your posts, as well, instead of just tweeting the title with a link -- analysis on tweet copy from the @HubSpot account revealed that the difference in number of clicks on a "title tweet" (a tweet that includes the title of a blog post + a link to that post) versus a "copy tweet" (a tweet that presents the blog post as a sentence or question) was not statistically significant. Be sure to include both types of copy in to humanize your updates and give your social media posts a little variety.
3) See if your post can help others on Twitter.
Search for related hashtags or keywords on Twitter and see if your blog post can answer anyone's questions or contribute to a discussion -- and remember to use the shortened URL when responding.

4) Share your blog post with prospects.
Did you just publish a blog post that would be really useful to a particular lead or customer? Send the post their way via a tweet or a quick email. (HubSpot customers: In Social Inbox, notice each tweet is color coded to help you identify customers and leads in your Twitter stream.)
If you're offering them helpful and relevant information, they'll appreciate that you thought of them and might think of you more as a trusted source of information. Click here to learn more about matching content to folks in every lifecycle stage.

5) Share your blog post with colleagues.
Think about the social reach of all of your colleagues combined -- don't let the opportunity to reach those audiences go to waste. The key is making sharing as easy as possible for your colleagues. When your blog post goes live, send an internal email that includes the title of your post, a brief explanation, and a shortened link to the post. Make it even easier by created a few ready-made tweets that include the link and are under 140 characters.

6) Syndicate your post on LinkedIn and other websites.
LinkedIn can be a great place to syndicate your content because anything you publish there is automatically pushed out to everyone in your network and could be featured in one of the many topical LinkedIn channels. Publishing there has been rolling out to all users since February 2014, and if you're linking back to your original post, you shouldn't be too worried about duplicate content.
Other places to try syndicating your blog post include Quora and Medium, where you can take advantage of their additional promotion of popular posts.

7) Give it a boost using paid marketing.
Take advantage of paid content distribution opportunities to amplify your message and supplement your reach on organic search. These opportunities include Twitter Ad campaigns, Facebook campaigns, and LinkedIn's Sponsored Updates feature. Content discovery platforms like Outbrain and Taboola also can well.
Just be sure you spend a lot of time defining your target audience on each platform so you get the most bang for your buck. (You can learn more about paid content distribution here.)

8) Pitch your post to the press.
Authoring a well-written blog post helps position you as a topic expert -- something journalists are always looking for. It's not easy to pitch to the press, but if they do pick up your post, it could mean a big bump in traffic for your website. The potential ROI of writing a simple email is worth it, but you've got to make sure you're writing the right email. 
Journalists can receive hundreds of pitches in a day, so be sure to include concise bullet points describing the main point(s) of your post in your email pitch so they don't have to click through to anything. Finally, don't make any careless grammatical errors or misspell the reporter's name -- it usually means they trash your pitch. (Learn about more silly mistakes to stop making in your pitches here.)

9) Post teasers to discussion boards or other websites.
You want new eyeballs on your blog post, and a great way to entice new readers to come to your website is by posting a compelling thought or question on an external site, such as or a LinkedIn Group, along with a shortened link to your new blog post. As long as your content is relevant and adds to the discussion (and you're not the only one posting self-promotional content on the site), it's not spammy.

10) Include the post in a "kit" offer.
In the long term, if you find yourself writing several blog posts that are related to each other under an umbrella category, consider bringing them together into a "kit" offer. Gate this offer behind a landing page form and collect contacts when people download