That’s a tall order to fill, but unlike many “best of” articles floating around on the web this time of year, I’m (shockingly!) not looking at “best” in terms of the most page views, tweets or shares. In worst cases, those kinds of indicators can be artificially inflated or misguided.
What I’m looking at are the posts that not only give you the best possible tips and techniques to round off this year, but will also keep your marketing momentum going strong well into 2015. To me, “best of” means practical, actionable and totally implement-able.
Ready? Let’s do this.
Think you’re just not good with words? Not after reading this post. Sure, it’s one of our own but after you read it (and follow the advice on the recommended blogs and resources), you’ll be able to cultivate some killer copywriting and conversion optimization skills that will take your content to the next level.
These guides include infographics, ebooks and articles, as well as details on direct response copywriting and newsletters worth subscribing to. Bookmark this post now and start honing your writing chops on the kind of content that gets noticed and shared.
It’s an area of business that’s given little thought by solopreneurs and small businesses, simply because they think automation is something that only large brands and corporations need.
But nothing could be farther from the truth!
In fact, small businesses can use IFTTT (If This, Then That) to automate a wide range of tasks that you probably handle on your own every day – from keeping a watchful eye on your competition, to finding potential ideas for new, trending content on your site. IFTTT works by letting you input “recipes” that say “When/If this thing happens, then do this other thing.”
For example, “If I write a blog post, then automatically tweet it to my followers.” A pretty simple idea, but with very wide-ranging possibilities.
Seer Interactive has an awesome list of IFTTT recipes that can do everything from track Twitter hashtags to monitoring your site for possible hacking attempts. Putting them to use in your business could save you hours of time – time which could be better spent doing things like:
Imagine this, you want to double the number of email subscribers on your website. You’ve got a fantastic freebie, relatively good traffic, and you’re ready to kick those sign up numbers into high gear.
Oh, and you have 1 month.
Panicked? Don’t be. Buffer App’s post “How We Doubled Email Sign Ups in 30 Days” will walk you through the exact process and tools they used to grow their subscriber list by leaps and bounds. Here’s a hint: there is no single “magic pill” or email provider that does everything. In fact, Buffer used multiple tools and plugin to achieve their goal – and there’s nothing wrong with doing so.
Each tool is designed to accomplish a specific task, and going for a “one size fits all” approach might not give you the results you’re hoping for. At best, it will do a few things well, and may end up needing complicated APIs, hooks or other programming work that further bloats the process. In this case, the tools that Buffer used included HelloBar, Twitter, Facebook, SlideShare and several more.
And speaking of email, it’s nice to have a little “grab bag” of information and case studies you can turn to when you want your content to have maximum impact with your subscribers. Even if you already know all those tried-and-true tips, you might be asking yourself:
- What’s the best email sending frequency? How many mails are too many?
- What can I do to persuade subscribers to stay if they click Unsubscribe?
- What should I know about mobile-responsive emails?
Fortunately, eConsultancy has you covered with 50+ Epic Email Marketing Best Practices. From writing a convincing automated email that sounds authentic, to leveraging your data to make the most of your email personalization efforts, everything you need to write, schedule and deliver a convincing, click-ready message your subscribers will love.
If you’re like the millions of social media marketers out there, you probably load up your scheduled posts into your social media dashboard of choice, then hit submit and let the computer do all the work.
According to Hubspot, people consume content differently on each of the “Big 3” social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). If you’re not tailoring your content approach to fit each specific platform and its audience, then don’t be surprised if your content doesn’t get the kind of traction you were hoping for.
Of course, preparing your content for the maximum number of likes, shares and retweets doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You likely already know that photos work well across Facebook, so this slideshow isn’t just your run-of-the-mill informational post. It tells you what sizes of photos do best, as well as how many words to include in your post, whether or not to use #hashtags and more.
And speaking of hashtags, SearchEngineWatch carefully chronicled the use of some of the most popular hashtags around the Superbowl (and various commercials), the President’s State of the Union speech and much more. Some of the methods of hashtag promotion they uncovered were downright brilliant, including using hashtags to tell stories, using hashtags as part of an omni-channel marketing campaign to tie the message across several platforms, and much more.
But don’t overdo it. One hashtag is enough for most folks, it seems:
Content Writing and Marketing
2014 was all about content marketing, and this movement is showing no signs of slowing down. But, as Noah Kagan from OKDork.com and Brian Dean from Backlinko.com discovered, great content is easier said than done. Not only do you have to find a steady stream of ideas, but you have to write about the things that people want (and not just what you think they want!)
In his post, titled simply “How to Create Great Content that Drives Traffic”, Noah and Brian dispel the myths that so often accompany these types of posts – things like “Write list posts” and “Write twice a week” – advice that Brian originally followed to disappointing results like these:
His reverse engineering method, called “The Skyscraper Technique” walks you through the entire process of finding existing content, then improving on it and making it your own. There’s even a handy Google spreadsheet to help you track the process.
Of course, one of the threads that consistently crops up whenever you mentioned writing good content is providing VALUE.
But what is value? And better yet, how can you wrangle an intangible thing like value to create the kind of content people love?
Our very own Neil Patel has a great article over at QuickSprout that will walk you through the process. It’s important to remember that a value proposition isn’t a slogan or a tagline. It’s also not your mission or philosophy. A good value proposition is succinct, clear and actionable. It’s straightforward and to-the-point. Crafting a good one takes an intimate knowledge of your market, your customers and what you do to stand out among your competition.
Sounds like a lot to consider, but when you nail it – you know it. Then, all your content has to magnify and embrace that proposition like its life depends on it – which it does. When everything you write purposefully reflects the value you deliver, your content and your audience will grow by leaps and bounds.
What Are Your Thoughts on 2014’s Best Posts?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but rather a few posts that made an impact in my business, and what I hope will do the same for yours. Share your favorites from this year in the comments below!
About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps businesses improve website design and increase conversions with user-focused design, compelling copywriting and smart analytics. Learn more at iElectrify and get your free conversion checklist and web copy tune-up. Follow @sherice on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ for more articles like this!