Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest With passionate farmers and ranchers across the country eager to share the story behind our food with consumers, the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance announced the eight finalists in its third Faces of Farming and Ranching contest. This program searches for the men and women who grow and raise food, from row crops and veggies to beef and pork, to help put real faces on agriculture. Ohioans Lauren Schwab and Emily Buck made the list.Schwab is a freelance journalist and is employed on her family’s 1,100-sow farrow to wean swine farm in Butler County. She works as the farrowing house manager.AUDIO: The Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins visits with Schwab about being named a finalistUSFRA Faces Lauren SchwabBuck is an Associate Professor at The Ohio State University in agricultural communication and lives and works on a Marion County grain and sheep farm with her husband John and their daughter Harlie Grace.AUDIO: The Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins visits with Buck about being named a finalistUSFRA Faces Emily BuckFinalists were selected from all eligible submissions based upon four main criteria. Judging criteria included: demonstration of initiatives that advance the field and show dedication to continuous improvement; proficiency in public speaking; active participation in creating dialogue about entrant’s work via traditional and social media channels; and demonstration of a deep understanding of agriculture-related issues.Winners will share their stories and experiences about how food is grown and raised in the United States on a national stage through media interviews, consumer-facing public appearances, blog posts and more.Visit the USFRA website to learn more about each of the finalists and watch short videos highlighting their operation. Then, vote for finalists who will best represents the passion and innovation driving agriculture today. Votes will be factored into the final decision-making process that will determine the next Faces of Farming and Ranching. Voting ends on Sunday, October 23rd.Winners will be announced on Nov. 9, 2016, during a USFRA press conference at the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Convention (NAFB) in Kansas City.
Standard residential construction in much of the country is 2×4 framing with fiberglass insulation, achieving a paltry R-10 or so in the walls. If insulation is installed at all on the foundation walls, it’s rarely more than an inch thick, and insulation is almost never put under slabs. In Vermont, we typically do a lot better. Act 250, enacted nearly four decades ago, required developers to improve energy performance and that led to a widespread switch to 2×6 framing in home building.But 2×6 wall construction is still woefully inadequate in my book. A well-built 2×6 frame wall insulated with dense-pack cellulose or fiberglass will achieve only about R-17 or R-18 (accounting for the “thermal bridging” through the more conductive wood studs). If we want to have a chance of achieving the carbon-emission-reduction goals that climate scientists tell us will be needed—80% reduction by 2050, or even sooner—we will have to start insulating houses much better.So what’s a reasonable target?Building science expert Joe Lstiburek, Ph.D., P.Eng., of Building Science Corporation in Westford, Massachusetts, argues that for any house north of the Mason-Dixon Line we should follow the “10-20-40-60 rule” for R-values: R-10 under foundation floor slabs; R-20 foundation walls; R-40 house walls, and R-60 ceilings or roofs.Getting to these insulation levels is a challenge, but it’s far from impossible. Here are a few ways in which the 10-20-40-60 insulation goals can be achieved:R-10 under concrete slabs. This can be achieved with 2″ of extruded polystyrene or XPS (for example, Dow Styrofoam), 2-1/2″ of high-density expanded polystyrene (EPS), or 2″ of spray polyurethane foam put in by a skilled insulation contractor. In cold climates like Vermont’s I think sub-slab insulation levels should be boosted even further—to about R-20, with 4″ of rigid foam.R-20 foundation walls. This can be achieved with either interior or exterior foundation insulation or with insulated concrete forms (ICFs). With exterior insulation, most common is XPS, but I’m a big fan of rigid mineral wool, such as Roxul Drainboard, which provides R-4.2 per inch and comes in thicknesses up to 2-3/8″ (so two layers of their thickest product will get you to the R-20 goal). If insulating on the interior, a reasonable approach is to add a 1″ or 2″ layer of rigid insulation against the foundation wall then add a 2×4 or 2×6 frame wall with cavity-fill cellulose or fiberglass insulation. With ICFs, many products are available with at least 2″ of high-density EPS on both the interior and exterior faces, so that the R-20 goal can be achieved fairly easily.R-40 above-grade house walls. Achieving R-40 in walls is a challenge. Here are several options that get you pretty close to that: a 2×6 frame wall with dense-pack cellulose plus three inches of foil-faced polyisocyanurate foam on the exterior; a double 2×4 wall separated by at least 3″ with the resultant cavity filled with dense-pack cellulose or high-density fiberglass batts (at least 10″ overall thickness); and a structural insulated panel (SIP) system with 9″ or 10″ panels.R-60 ceiling or roof. Such a high insulation level in the ceiling (unheated attic) can be achieved with 16″ to 18″ of cellulose insulation or high-density fiberglass batts—you may need somewhat more to achieve the recommended R-value after settling. If the roof is being insulated (above a cathedral ceiling), getting to R-60 will typically require a combination of cavity-fill insulation in the rafters or trusses and rigid insulation on top of the roof sheathing.Combining these insulation levels with a compact design, modest passive solar features, triple-glazed low-e windows, and high-efficiency lighting and appliances should get the energy consumption of new homes to less than a quarter that of standard new homes. The energy requirements for such homes should then be low enough that most, if not all, of the remaining energy needs could be satisfied (now or in the future) with photovoltaic (solar-electric) panels to achieve net-zero-energy or carbon-neutral performance.Over the coming weeks, I’ll examine various issues relating to extremely well-insulated houses as well as what can be done with existing houses—the concept of “deep-energy retrofits.”
Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers scored centuries as South Africa beat the Netherlands by a massive 231-run margin in their World Cup Group B match at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, Chandigarh, on Thursday. Score Chasing 352, the Netherlands batsmen were stifled by the South Africa pacers from the start of their innings. And as a result they lost their opener Alexei Kervezee and in-form batsman Tom Cooper early.Both Kervezee and Copper fell to Jacques Kallis, who wanted to make up for the loss of his batting by bowling a good line.Then it was J.P . Duminy’s turn to join the party and he scalped the other opener Wesley Barresi on 44 with his round the wicket delivery that skid past him to the wicketkeeper AB de Villiers, who cleaned his bails off with precision. Bas Zuiderent too could not stay at the crease for long and Robin Peterson scalped him on 15. The Netherlands score post his dismissal was 83/4 in 22.4 overs.But their plight was far from over as all South African bowlers claimed wickets to reduce the Dutch to 119/8 in 34 overs. Even Ryan ten Doeschate, who had scored a century against England in their opening game, too couldn’t do much and walked back on 11.In fact by the end of their innings Barresi’s 44 was the highest individual score in the Dutch scorecard which ended in the 35th over with just 120 runs on it.Leg-spinner Imran Tahir was the most successful bowler from the Protea camp, he finished with 3-19 on board. South Africa inningsEarlier, Hashim Amla and Ab de Villiers scored tons as South Africa posted 351/5.In the morning, the Netherlands taking advantage from the overcast conditions scalped skipper Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis early. This was after their skipper Peter Borren intelligently decided to put South Africa in the middle Bernard Loots claimed Protea skipper Graeme Smith in the 13th over with a ball that caved in to uproot his leg stump on 20 and Kallis (2) gave a nick to wicketkeeper Wesley Barresi off Ryan ten Doeschate in 16th over. advertisementSouth Africa’s AB de Villiers acknowledges the applause from the spectators after scoring his century. APSoon South Africa got back into the game with Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers at the crease. The two started with a cautious approach but soon got going against the opposition bowlers, who were heavily relying on the weather conditions to do the tricks for them.Soon Amla completed his ton in 127 balls and de Villiers followed. De Villiers’s ton came off just 88 balls. Clearly the two batsmen were having a good stay at the crease against the Dutch bowlers.Post his ton, de Villiers let loose a flurry a boundaries. He hit three consecutive sixes in Loots over, the 44th over of the innings, and then followed it up with a four on the next ball.But it wasn’t just Loots, who had to face de Villiers’ wrath as in the next over Ryan ten Doeschate too was treated in the same fashion. But he was a little lucky as after four consecutive fours he managed to get Amla’s wicket. Amla, taking cue from de Villier, went for an aerial shot but was cramped for room and ended up slicing the ball to Loots at point.Amla fell on 113 decorating his innings with eight fours and stitching together a 221-run third wicket partnership with de Villiers.But, no sooner had Amla departed that de Villiers too fell. He got run out on 134 and the South Africa score at the stage was 283/4. Interestingly, South Africa scored 69 off the batting Powerplay, just one short of the record 70 in ODIs, which came to an end in the 46th over – the over that de Villiers was dismissed.J.P. Duminy was the last wicket to fall. But he too had a good stay in the middle as he scored 40 off 15 balls. South Africa’s final score was 351/5 in 50 overs
Tata Motors owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) today announced the official launch of Jaguar XE here.”The Jaguar XE is a vehicle at the very heart of the UK’s manufacturing renaissance. It combines pre-eminent British design with British engineering in a special car for customers around the world,” Ralf Speth, JLR CEO, told reporters at a briefing on the new model.”This premium mid-sized sports sedan is the outstanding realisation of two new factories, 2,300 new jobs and around 2 billion of investment in the UK,” he added.The new compact executive saloon is all set to hit the European market early 2015, with the US later in the year and will eventually be available in India and other emerging markets.”The XE comes with a very exciting driving experience and is intended for the global market. We hope to deliver in China, India and other emerging after its US launch later next year,” Speth said.The aluminium-intensive mi mid-size premium sports sedan is the first model developed from JLR’s new modular vehicle architecture.The XE will be the first model to get the high tech “Ingeniu engine” – a family of ultra-low-emission, four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines from the company’s Engine Manufacturing Centre.The company said the facility in Wolverhampton brings JLR engine supply back to its production heartland with a total investment of 500 million and the creation of 1,400 skilled jobs, of which 600 have already been recruited.This new advanced engine family has been described as highly flexible, scalable and modular and will be used in future Jaguar and Land Rover products.advertisement
How many times have you met somebody full of energy who gets you excited about something new — only to discover later that it was just a lot of talk and no action. All hat, no cattle .There’s a similar problem in social media: Marketers who are all tweet and no meat.At HubSpot we run into a lot of professional marketers and small business owners who are very excited about social media. They want 5,000 followers on Twitter, they want 10,000 fans on Facebook, and they want it all yesterday.Such enthusiasm is new, and it’s awesome. Just last summer, most marketers and small business owners still looked at social media as a playground for Kool-Aid drinking tech groupies.Now the marketing ROI of inbound marketing and social media is clear, and there’s a new problem: Many of the marketers and small business owners leaping into social media are forgetting the importance of other online marketing channels. This is a problem because social media works best in conjunction with a site that’s full of fresh content like blog posts , white papers and videos.If your marketing strategy is just Twitter and Facebook — no longer-form content of your own — your company will end up a big-talking cowboy without cattle . You’ll be making comments about everything, but substantive contributions to nothing.In pure business terms, there are two huge reasons social media needs to be mixed with original content: (1) To Drive People to Your Site — As a business, your goal is to drive leads and sales, which both happen on YourSite.com. In order to get people to YourSite.com, you have to make an investment in blogging, content management and lead tracking on that site. If your only investment is in Twitter or Facebook, the people you engage with there — no matter how much they love you — will never make it to YourSite.com to convert into leads and customers. (2) To Create an Archive With Long-Term SEO Value — If you’re only investing your time and resources in Facebook and Twitter, you’re not building any archive of persistent content. That’s a problem because your persistent content is what shows up in Google’s search results. Blog posts, white papers and videos posted on YourSite.com will get indexed by Google and drive people to become leads and customers for years. Posts on Twitter and Facebook don’t have nearly the same long-term search value.A marketers and salespeople, we’re prone to optimistic talk. But as we talk, we need to ask ourselves a key question: Is the talk accompanied by consistent value creation for our company?If you’re just doing social media, I think the answer is no. If that social media work is accompanied by content, I think the answer is yes.What do you think? How do you strike this balance?Photo: Karyn Webinar: Blogging for Business Originally published Mar 17, 2009 8:11:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Want to learn more about publishing a blog on your business website? Download the free webinar to learn how to create a thriving inbound marketing blog. Marketing Strategy Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Lead nurturing is a crucial part of your marketing and sales success. Studies show that 50% of leads are qualified but aren’t immediately ready to buy something from you [Source: Gleanster Research]. With lead nurturing, however, you can bring those leads through your sales funnel and garner 4-10 times the response rate compared to a regular email blast while doing it [Source: SilverPop/DemandGen Report]. To nurture those leads correctly, however, you need to somehow adjust your messaging based on their point in the sales cycle. But how do you do that?The best lead nurturing campaigns begin with content mapping, a process in which you decide what content is most appropriate for a person to receive at a given time. And to be honest, sometimes it feels like you have to be psychic to nail it. But while a little bit of psychic ability would certainly help, there’s actually a structure you can follow to map your content very accurately for your lead nurturing campaigns — after which you can simply make tweaks on your messaging, email sending frequency, and calls-to-action based on feedback, open rates, click-through rates, and other email marketing metrics. Here’s how you can map lead nurturing content to every stage in the buying cycle.Understanding the Buying CycleTo understand content mapping for lead nurturing, you need to understand the buying cycle. People have broken it down into many sub-stages to align with their particular business model, but it can universally be boiled down to these three stages:Awareness: Leads have either become aware of your product or service, or they have become aware that they have a need that must be fulfilled.Evaluation: Leads are aware that your product or service could fulfill their need, and they are trying to determine whether you are the best fit.Purchase: Leads are ready to make a purchase.Content mapping becomes important during these stages because prospects’ needs are different depending on which stage in the buying cycle they fall into. David Skok explained the buying cycle well on For Entrepreneurs with a retail scenario. When you’re walking around on the weekend and wander into a store with nothing in particular you’re looking to buy, you don’t want too much attention from a hungry sales person. It’s annoying, because you’re in the awareness stage. But when you make a beeline for the store because you need to buy a black sweater immediately, you want a sales person to approach you right away so you can find the sweater, purchase it, and get out of there. That’s because you’re in the purchase stage of the sales cycle.The same concept applies when someone is interacting with your brand online. If they’re just seeing you for the first time, they have different informational needs — and thus require different content — than someone who is ready to purchase something from you. Mapping the most appropriate content to each stage in the buying cycle will help you speak to the individual needs of each lead so you’re having the right conversation with the right people at the right time.How Content Mapping WorksDoing content mapping is very specific to each individual business — you have a different sales cycle, different buyer personas, and different content assets and topics than other businesses — but the content mapping structure outlined in this section will be transferable to any scenario. Here are the 4 questions you need to ask yourself when content mapping.1.) What are the logical pathways to take a lead from awareness, to evaluation, to purchase?Content mapping can be tricky because you have to work backwards. Start by determining the logical pathway a lead would take when navigating through the sales funnel. To do this, you’ll need to lay out several scenarios in which leads convert into customers, and trace back which actions they took from their first conversion to close. If you’re using HubSpot software, you can take a look at the activity history of leads to see what patterns emerge.What pages did they visit? In what order? What offers did they convert on? What emails did they click through? Here’s an example of what a logical conversion pathway might look like:Visit company blog >> Convert on ebook call-to-action >> Click through to site on ebook nurturing campaign offer >> Navigate to Product/Service pages >> Click through to site on case study nurture email and download data sheet >> Receive free trial email >> Download free trial >> Receive coupon >> Become a customerThere will be more than one logical conversion pathway, but as you examine how your leads have historically converted into customers, a few pathways will emerge as the most common, the shortest, and the most profitable.As you’re determining these conversion pathways, you may notice that there are pieces of content, calls-to-action, or nurturing campaign emails that you aren’t sending out yet, but should be. That’s okay! One of the benefits of doing content mapping — aside from improved content relevancy for your lead nurturing campaigns — is identifying holes in your content strategy that you can now remedy.2.) What specific content assets can be deployed along those pathways to help advance leads to the next stage in the buying cycle?Now that you know the logical pathways a lead might take to convert into a customer, what type of content assets should they receive to nurture them along that path? It seems like the options are endless, but there are actually certain types of content that are more appropriate for certain stages in the sales cycle than others. Reference this table of content asset types that are aligned with their appropriate stage in the sales funnel.The content assets listed in the ‘Awareness’ stage are appropriate for that stage of the buying cycle because they help educate your lead — not on your solution, but on their need. The content assets in the ‘Evaluation’ stage, however, speak directly to how your company can help solve their needs, bridging the gap between the educational assets and product/service information. The assets in the ‘Purchase’ stage require more action from the lead — actions the lead is more likely to take because they’re now more educated about their problem and why your company is a good choice for solving it.You’ll notice some content asset types appear in more than one stage of the buying cycle — webinars, for example. This is due to the content in that content asset type. A webinar from the ‘Awareness’ stage of the buying cycle would be educational about a general subject matter, while a webinar from the ‘Evaluation’ stage would be centered around your specific solution.When assigning content asset types to the touchpoints in your conversion pathway, you should also assign topics to those assets. Those topics will obviously change depending on the nature of your business, but here’s an example of how to execute this step correctly based on the conversion pathway defined above:Visit Unicorn blog >> Convert on Unicorn Hygiene ebook >> Click through to site on ebook nurturing campaign offer “10 Best Tools for Grooming a Unicorn” >> Navigate to Unicorn Accessories product pages >> Click through to site on Glittery Farms Unicorn Grooming Case Study nurture email and download Unicorn Grooming FAQ >> Receive Unicorn Grooming Kit Coupon email >> Redeem coupon and become a customerNotice how the content asset types move along from ‘Awareness’ assets — like an ebook — to ‘Evaluation’ assets — like a case study — to ‘Purchase’ assets — like a coupon. We will examine an example of a real business’ content asset types and how they map to a conversion path later in this post as well.3.) What content assets are you missing?At this point you might be saying, “That’s great, but I don’t have all of those content assets at the ready.” That’s ok. Remember, in addition to knowing when and where to use your content assets, part of content mapping is identifying which content assets you need to create to execute lead nurturing effectively. Once you’ve created your list of content assets and where they belong on the conversion pathway, perform a content audit to see what assets you already have and which ones you need to create. Then get going with content creation!4.) How do you need to adjust the messaging in those content assets to align with the persona to whom you’re speaking?If you haven’t created buyer personas yet, pause at this step in your content mapping exercise, read this guide to creating buyer personas, and create them. Pay particular attention to the question of how to identify the personas — if you can’t identify them based on their information and behaviors, you can’t appropriately target your marketing to them.For example, a company that sells personal tax software may find that they have two buyer personas — one that is identified as a professional accountant, the other identified as an individual looking to prepare his or her own taxes. You wouldn’t speak to these two audiences the same way, right? That’s why it’s important to not only create your buyer personas, but ask them to self identify when they become a lead so you can appropriately segment them in your lead nurturing, create content messaged just for them, and map the content appropriately.If you have created your buyer personas, ask yourself how you need to tweak the messaging in your already existing content assets (and those on your list to create) to speak most appropriately to each persona. Some content assets you may find can exist as they are — an FAQ about your product or service, for example — while others may need to be rewritten — like a case study, perhaps — to be more easily digestible for two personas who don’t quite speak the same language.Applying Content Mapping to a Real-Life ScenarioNow you know how to map content to each stage in the buying cycle, but let’s take it from (unicorn) theory to real life application. HubSpot customer Magic Software successfully moves leads who filled out a form to receive an educational whitepaper — a top of the funnel offer — through the ‘Awareness’ stage of the buying cycle to the ‘Purchase’ stage with these content asset types. Take a look:Step 1: Download an educational whitepaper — this lead is in the ‘Awareness’ stage and is looking to learn about integrating two pieces of software.Step 2: Instead of pushing the lead right to the ‘Evaluation’ stage, this email encourages the lead to review more educational content in their Resource Center about software integration.Step 3: Now that the lead has spent some time reading educational materials, it’s time to move them gently along to the ‘Evaluation’ stage of the buying cycle by offering some software integration webinars. The lead is still being educated, but webinars are a more time intensive content asset to consume, and indicate a lead’s willingness to seriously consider your solution.Step 4: Still in the ‘Evaluation’ stage, this email makes the jump from the webinar — educational but high-commitment content — to content centered around the solution they offer. Now the lead is ready to read about how a Magic Software product can solve their software integration problem through its product documentation.Step 5: Finally, this lead moves to the ‘Purchase’ stage of the buying cycle with high-commitment content. This email asks the lead to sign up for product training — an offer only a lead seriously considering a purchase would redeem. Because this lead wasn’t rushed through the buying cycle, but instead received content appropriate for their level of interest and education, they are in a far better position to turn into a customer.Have you mapped content to each stage in your sales funnel? Share tips from your experience in the comments!Image credit: Sudhamshu Originally published Feb 16, 2012 12:40:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Lead Nurturing Topics:
Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Dec 2, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated August 29 2017 Writing great copy for your business blog is obviously a big priority, given all of the traffic it can drive to your website and the leads it can generate. But what about copy on the other pages of your website? Your homepage? Landing pages? Even your “about” page? These also need to be optimized with top-notch content.Download 195+ visual marketing design templates to use for social media posts, infographics, and more. For those marketers who aren’t quite sure how to produce high-quality content for these pages — and even those who are experts at updating their copy but want to freshen it up — here are the things you ought to know to better the three most important pages on your website: your homepage, your landing pages, and your “about” page.1) Homepage: The Lobby of Your BusinessYour homepage is the virtual lobby of your business. Before I lay a series of copywriting tips on you for improving your homepage, let’s look at the homepage experience from your visitor’s point of view.They are new guests in your virtual home. Nothing’s all that familiar. They will take in every little thing — consciously or subconsciously, subtle or not — and make judgments. To get a vibe. To make a decision. What exactly is this decision?I can’t help but quote a favorite rock band of mine, The Clash: “Should I stay or should I go?” You need to remind yourself of this when making decisions about the composition of your homepage — in particular, the copy presented there.This decision, stay or go, boils down to comfort. When the visitor feels it, they invest their time — just like you do. When something doesn’t feel right, when a tinge of discomfort emerges, they flee — just like you do.So what do you do to address this newcomer situation (which hopefully happens very often) to achieve the desired result: getting visitors to stick around and click around?As a veteran website copywriter, here’s my advice:Provide a big, bold assurance.Your homepage is going to have a big, dominant element — probably a main graphic — which you might refer to as a header. It might even be what website creators now refer to as a slider — a series of headers that rotate. More often than not, your headline will be placed in this space, above or below it. In any case, we’re talking about the first passage the visitor will read.This passage has the all-important job of assuring the visitor they have arrived at the right place. You can do this in a number of ways, one of the best of which is to have clear headlines expressly created to communicate you understand the challenge they face.In other words, it’s a good idea to reiterate the product category and a bad idea to say something dreadfully generic, such as the popular favorite, “Welcome to our website.” One way or another, the copy you present first should quickly suggest “you will be rewarded for coming here.”Set up a clear, concise introduction.An introduction of some sort should follow. It might be a sentence or two or a paragraph or two. This is not the place to boast, recite a boring company mission, or cram in the elevator pitch you labored over for your press release’s boilerplate.In fact, to the extent you can avoid it, this isn’t even the place to talk about your company. Your company is secondary. First, by a long shot, is your prospect — their pains and pleasures. Avoid “we,” your company name, and “us” (read: “The Most Effective Online Marketers Focus on One Thing”).I suggest counting the uses of “you” and “we” (or variations thereof) and making the ratio largely favor “you.” “You” is the subject. “You” is how you greet someone. “You” is how the persuasion process begins.Think search.Don’t think SEO — think search. What I mean here is however much you’ve studied your optimization tactics, your application of them should be invisible to the reader.Yes, you’ll want to do meticulous keyword research and deliberation. And yes, you’ll want to use the keywords in your homepage copy. Still, do not overuse or overemphasize keywords. Doing so makes for clunky copy. Even if you’ve abided by the current day’s best practices for SEO, you are now addressing a human being.Snuff the fluff.Effective homepage copy gets to the point. It does so with flair, but not fluff. Throw-away lines, such as “In today’s highly competitive marketplace blah, blah, blah,” are to be, well, thrown away. Never lose sight of the notion that your visitor has a short attention span. To increase your chances of engaging the reader, edit your copy ruthlessly to make every word count.Talk in a conversational, relatable tone.Your homepage copy needs to be personal and conversational. (Dare I say, casual?) Don’t go techno. Don’t take chances with industry buzzword babble. Don’t show off your vocabulary or insider speak. Imagine you’re out to make a new friend (because you are).Make the page navigation a cinch.Easy navigation is all-important. Never make visitors hunt for what they need or begin to suspect the content’s not available. Make your navigation bar simple and easy to understand.Feature prominent pods, windows, or sections with subheads that showcase the parts of the website you deem to be the most practical next steps for the visitor. Communicate the content you’re offering with dummy-proof directions or calls-to-action.Plan for scanning.Every key point and subsection you mean to showcase should work with or without lengthy explanations. Remind yourself of how quickly you scan a homepage in search of something worth fixing on or looking into. Though it may feel counterintuitive, your prose should be sparse and your white space should be ample.Make your blog easy to find.Your blog is the section of the site where you flex your know-how. It’s also where you engage readers and build relationships. Don’t hide it in the footer. If you’re emphasizing your blog the way you should, you should emphatically invite visitors to read it, share the posts, and subscribe. Featuring recent or popular stories on the homepage is a highly effective tactic.Feature some freebies.Understand most visitors are “just looking” or doing research during this first visit. Lead nurturing is likely to be a critical part of the sales cycle going forward, so your collection of free resources such as your blog, newsletter, ebooks, reports, archived webinars, and other content should be featured.Be specific with these types of offers, making sure to provide compelling reasons for the visitor to submit their email address. For instance, don’t use generic pleas such as “free ebook” or “subscribe to our newsletter.” Provide practical reasons why doing so is a must.Be a crowd-pleaser.This final homepage tip traces to the well-known principle of persuasion called social proof. Your visitors crave evidence your company is legit. Give it to them on your homepage in the form of testimonials, client logos, reviews, accreditations, accolades, and the like.If you’re active on social media or have a large subscriber base for your blog or newsletter, mention this. Something like “Join our 10,000+ subscribers” helps establish the credibility visitors value.2) Landing Pages: The Key to ConversionTo be an effective online marketer, every page of your website needs to be well-written, elegantly designed, purposeful, and part of the big-picture plan. However, after your homepage, nothing is more critical to your success than your landing pages.It’s all about conversion.I want to be clear about what I’m calling a landing page because it’s entirely true a visitor could “land” on just about any page you publish.The landing page I’m offering tips about here are the pages expressly created to solicit an opt-in or a desired action from a prospect. (Pages such as these are sometimes also called “squeeze pages,” though the term isn’t common today.)This page is meant to collect basic information, which usually includes an email address. It acts as a gate in front of an offer of some sort.Landing pages have special requirements.While many of the smart, but general, copywriting tactics will apply, a landing page is a different beast. Unlike many of your website’s pages, a landing page is not about helping readers find what they want — it’s about delivering it.An important thing to keep in mind when writing a landing page is the dynamic at play and, of course, the mindset of the visitor. Your visitor has arrived for a treat — some instant gratification. Visits could come from pay-per-click ads, a search result listing, an internal link on your website, a link from another website, an email, or even a printed piece, ad, or commercial.Make the headline succinct and stand out.The headline needs to make a keyword connection. This is not an SEO lesson, but rather a plea to connect the visitor’s expectation to the first line they read on your landing page. The link the prospect just clicked was about something specific, so your headline should deliberately reiterate those words.Landing pages are not the place to show off your creative writing chops. If your link promised a lesson on cloud computing, your headline needs to say as much. Your first objective is to assure the visitor he landed on the page he needs. Focus solely on the offer.An effective landing page must be singularly focused on one subject: your offer. Do not give in to the temptation to cross-sell, upsell, or wander into related territory of any kind. Deliver information on point with exactly what your visitor came for.Landing pages should not include links to other sections of your websites. This means the navigation bar, sidebars, and footers are stripped away. A logo linking to your homepage is acceptable (but does offer an “out”).Use plenty of action words.The question on the user’s mind is “What do I get and how?” So, hammer on the verbs. Include phrases such as “Learn how to,” “Get insights,” “Save time,” and “Download the” to catch the reader’s attention and make him want to click through.Showcase the landing page’s value.A visit to your landing page is not a victory. Your visitor’s interested. They’ve clicked. But they’re not a lead until they’ve completed your form. Highlight the value of your offer multiple times on your landing page. Use subheads and captions to state the value of your offer in a variety of places on the page so they can’t be missed.Also, consider making big, bold, and even dreamy value statements. You might write, “Imagine how,” “Conquer your,” or “You’ll never have to (blank) again because” to drive home the value.If you can be specific, be specific. Value statements are more credible when you can promise specific benefits — such as the amount of time or money that will be saved.Use clear, second-person narrative.Simply stated, use the word “you.” Don’t refer to your visitor as a job title or generic seeker of a resolution to a problem. Don’t refer to your company by its name if you can help it. Write “our.”Moreover, let nothing confuse the reader. Get to the point. Guide the reader with clear directions. Keep the page brief (unless you have a very strong reason to do otherwise.) Those letter-stuffer type landing pages that drone on turn off most readers.Add some bullet points.Bulleted lists work great on landing pages. You can list the benefits of what you’re delivering. If it’s an information asset, it’s useful to preview the contents in short and sweet passages. You might use icons or small images to steer the eye to the main points, a la a 1-2-3 list of most important points.Show and tell.Plan to show the “prize” and write a caption that summarizes the entire landing page in one sentence. Many readers go straight to the image and caption, so this will certainly catch their attention.Deliver a little proof.You don’t want to veer off into a detailed case study, but a helpful conversion tactic is to include a brief testimonial. If you can quote a notable authority or high profile client, all the better. If your offer has helped a large number of customers or garnered recognition, go with these types of proof statements.Streamline the form.The fewer required fields your form has, the more leads you’ll capture. Unless you have a compelling reason to qualify the leads at this stage, make your form easy to find and fill out. If you’re going to send email (and you should), a singular email address field might suffice.Include a smart button.It may sound odd, but the words you choose for your call-to-action play a huge role. Studies prove generic words such as “submit” and “subscribe” perform poorly compared to short, directive value statements such as “Send me my free tips.” KISSmetrics offers some useful variations in this informative post.Copyblogger gives a good lesson for “sealing the deal” with your landing page here. And I picked up some ideas for my article from this post by Vertster.Landing page leader Unbounce is a great resource for more information about creating effective landing pages and testing tactics to improve conversion. Ion Interactive is another authority in the field. 3) “About” Page: The Awkward First DateYour “about” page is sure to be one of the most visited pages on your website. But commonly, it’s a serious snoozer. If your analytics show your “about” page is a leading exit page, you’re going to want to heed the advice I have for you here.The page poses a challenge.”About” pages scare even veteran website copywriters. The thing that makes this page the trickiest of them all is the confusing — contradictory, actually — subject of the page itself. You’re tempted to write about yourself or your company. And that’s fair. But if that’s all you do, you’ll risk losing your reader.Remember the purpose of the visit. What the reader really cares about is themself. Your “about” page needs to be about how you can help him or her. Sonia Simone of Copyblogger offers these suggestions:Talk about why they should bother reading your site.Talk about the problems you solve.Talk about what they’re interested in.A good first step is to strike the use of “us” or “me.” That is, don’t call your page “about us” or “about me,” or at least don’t think of the page this way. It shouldn’t be a biography, resume, or company backgrounder. Yes, you can include biographical and background information, but your story needs to be presented in the context of how you can serve the customer.Be interesting.Write a tight, well-paced page without droning on with needless detail. While a storytelling style can be very appropriate for your “about” page, you don’t want to test your reader’s patience. Every line on the page should add something significant and heighten the reader’s interest. You want the reader to want to know more about you, not less.Careful with the video.Sure, many will welcome a chance to see and hear you speak, so go ahead and make a short and sweet video to demonstrate your mastery of your field. But don’t rely only a video, and please don’t have it begin playing automatically. That’s not a convenient play. It’s annoying.Write conversationally.The nature of an “about” page invites writers to adapt a stiff and stilted voice, which is poison for any web page. Be you. Be warm and approachable. Go ahead and use your sense of humor. Avoid jargon. Writing in a conversational voice is far more appealing that stilted, generic copy.Proof plays well.While no one wants to find an egomaniac lurking in your “about” page, some of the credentials hanging on your office wall might help enhance the reader’s experience and comfort level.Badges indicating your professional memberships, accolades, publications, speaking experience, and so forth make nice additions to the page. A small dose of testimonials could be useful, too.Lose the BS.”About” pages tend to be home to overblown BS. Be wary of superlatives and hyperbole. Face it: Words like “visionary,” “outstanding,” “world-class,” and “cutting-edge” don’t do anything other than feed your ego.Don’t write fiction.Your aspirations and accomplishments are not the same thing. Nothing but the truth will do. If you’ve accomplished great things, simply tell your readers about them and why they should care. Let the reader be the judge of your awesome sauce.Take some chances.A lot of company “about” pages sound the same as all the rest. Don’t let that happen to yours. Make it your top goal to write a page no one else could write and that sets you apart from the competition.Think different.Apple didn’t just preach it — it embodied it. Of course, the company’s landmark campaign highlighted MLK, John Lennon, Jim Hanson, and Albert Einstein — world-changers.What did these big thinkers who thought so differently have in common? They took risks. So, take risks with your “about” page. Don’t just recite the company mantra. Make the reader feel they have to do business with you because yours is a company of real people who will change its customers’ lives.Bring bios to life.I always discourage biographies of any length to be 100% academic and professional. Why? It’s boring. I expect to learn you’re educated, qualified, and bring relevant experience to the company. Tell me something I don’t expect. You tap dance? Breed dogs? Make beer? You love Springsteen? Me too. Give your reader something conversation-worthy.Suggest social.Think of the “about” page as an opportunity to begin building relationships. The page is a logical place to publish links to social media profiles and encourage online networking.If you’re featuring profiles of the directors and staff, you might showcase social accounts with anyone who’s representing the company on your social networks or active on your blog.Consider publishing email addresses there too (but you’ll probably want to spell out “at” or “dot com” so as to not allow bots to capture, then spam, employees).Make it a quick read.Michelle Slater offered some interesting ideas in her post, “Spice Up Your About Us Page and Intrigue Prospects.” Her suggestions included making your page skimmer-friendly by bulleting company facts, presenting information in an interview format, and using a video Q&A.Update the page when needed.Things change. People may join or leave the company. Don’t allow your “about us” page to present outdated information. Whether it’s personnel, new services, locations, or any item that changes the company story, make sure your page reflects the company you are today.Remember who the page is really about.If you’re stuck for getting started with your “about” page, there’s no harm in tackling the five W’s to get the facts down, but remind yourself — a “who, what, when, where, why” is likely to be a press release-like snore. Pepper it up by really focusing on the “why.” The salesy and overly self-congratulatory page won’t establish the credibility and trust you seek. Put the reader first, use plain language, and communicate what customers really want to know (and what you need them to leave with) — a reason to believe you put them first.Got some copywriting tips for these pages you think marketers would be wise to hear about? Give us your advice in the comments below! Landing Page Copy
As marketers, we all know that great writing can help our content stand out from the crowd. But in addition to crossing our t’s and dotting our i’s, we need to make sure that we’re balancing our equations and refining our formulas. Yes, my friends: Marketing requires a scientific approach. And the language of science? That’d be “mathematics” (Remember? From high school? It was the class with the numbers and stuff.)This past week on Inbound Hub, we had a statistically significant* number of posts that dealt with the scientific side of inbound. From understanding Facebook’s new algorithm, to putting together pivot tables in Excel, we’ve got the nerdiest of the nerdiest for you to learn about.So, bust out those protractors, adjust your bifocals, and dive into this past week’s worth of wonderful content from the blog.(*Author clearly doesn’t understand what that means)A Scientific Approach to Hitting Your Lead Gen Goals With ContentWhile creating amazing content that resonates with your visitors, leads, and customers alike certainly requires an artistic touch, a scientific approach is also needed to plan and execute that content effectively. In this new post, HubSpot Senior Blog Editor Corey Eridon walks you through the entire process and shows you how reviewing analytics — and measuring performance — can help you hit your lead generation goals.New Facebook Algorithm Update Dings Text Updates From BusinessesUsually, when we read the word “algorithm” in a headline, we brace ourselves for some earth-shattering SEO news from Google. But remember: Facebook has an algorithm too — one that controls what shows up in our News Feeds. The latest change to this algorithm means you’ll be seeing fewer text status updates from companies, as Facebook is putting a heavier emphasis on its “link-share” updates. Learn all about it here.Not Just for Data Geeks? Why Marketers Need to Know ExcelWe inbound marketers loooove our Google Docs … and our Microsoft Word … and our PowerPoint. But, there’s another tool in our inbound arsenal that many of us are guilty of neglecting: Excel. I’m here to tell you that it’s easier than you think! Mastering Excel will give you a whole new skill set and help you unlock insights that are crucial for your business’s success. 10 Stats About Inbound Marketing That Will Make Your Jaw DropDid you know that 75% of searchers never scroll past the first page of search results? Or that visitors only spend 10 seconds on a homepage before leaving if they don’t like what they see? Dive deeper into these intriguing stats and learn several more in this new post from our Insiders section.Should Your SEO Strategy Include Yahoo and Bing?Google has become so ubiquitous in the world of search that we regularly use it as a verb. And while many marketers focus solely on Google when crafting an SEO strategy, they shouldn’t forget that other search engines are out there, like Bing and Yahoo (heard of ’em?). So, should you be optimizing for other search engines in addition to Google? We explore all the angles in this new post.Who Needs Google? Mark Cuban Says He’s Using It Less and LessSpeaking of search engines, do we even need them? In a new post in our Opinion section, Dan Lyons dissects a recent comment from billionaire investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban. According to Cuban, Google (and other search engines) are failing to index the most important information: the information that’s being created and shared on social sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat. A Proven Framework for Prospecting Emails [+20 Free Email Examples]In a recent post in our Sales section, HubSpot Director of Marketing for Inbound Sales Brian Whalley lays out a three-part process for successful email prospecting. In the post, you’ll not only get to read a HubSpot-tested sales email, but also the opportunity to download 20 more.What was the most interesting thing you learned this week on Inbound Hub? What do you want to see more of? Leave your feedback in the comments! Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Facebook Marketing Originally published Jan 26, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Apr 8, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Storytelling Topics: The internet is a busy, busy place. Every day people all over the world are publishing more and more content — and somehow you’ve got to make your content stand out from it the rest.Luckily, there are lots of ways you can try to get noticed online. Maybe you decide to game the system with Upworthy-style headlines. Or maybe you offer search-engine friendly content. Or maybe you develop a passionate, engaged community that shares all of your content like crazy. Or maybe, you tell great stories that make people come back again and again and again. If you decide to do that last option — tell great stories — and need some help getting started, check out the infographic below by LookBookHQ and Beutler Ink. Keep reading to discover some compelling stats about how people consume content online, and get some tips for using storytelling to make your content stand out.How Use Storytelling to Cut Through the B2B Content Clutter Save Save5 Tweetable Takeaways”79% of people scan the web instead of reading word by word.” “Professionals spend 51% of their time managing information instead of acting on it.” “Every 60 seconds, 700,000 Google searches are performed, 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube, and 168 million emails are sent.” “Blog posts with videos are linked to 3X more than text-only posts.” “90% of surveyed professionals admit to having thrown away information without reading it.” How do you use storytelling in your marketing? Share your experience with us in the comments.
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Link Building Editor’s Note: Recently, Capital New York reported that NYPD computers had been used to make edits to Wikipedia entries on police-related topics. We asked Wikipedia expert and President of Beutler Ink William Beutler to comment on this news story.New Yorkers and the social web alike were stunned to learn that NYPD computers had been used to make surreptitious Wikipedia edits on entries related to police department controversies, including pages covering the “stop-and-frisk” policy and the deaths of Eric Garner and Amadou Diallo.These edits added information favorable to the NYPD while downplaying views more critical of the department. For instance, “Garner raised both his arms in the air” became “Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke”; another edit pointed out that Garner was “considerably larger than any of the officers” — making the deceased sound more dangerous and unpredictable.It was a scoop for reporter Kelly Weill, who went through the trouble of creating a Python script to sort through vast amounts of data to find the story. Following fast, the New York media and tech press collected denials from the department, criticism from the mayor’s office (which apparently has its own history of Wikipedia editing), and ultimately a statement from the police commissioner saying, “I don’t anticipate any punishment, quite frankly.” Meanwhile, a Twitter account called @nypdedits appeared, watching for any subsequent edits from the NYPD, and other reporters are setting up alerts for Wikipedia edits from their local police departments.As a Wikipedia contributor of many years and the writer of a blog offering Wikipedia commentary, the thing I find most surprising about this is just how surprised people seem to be — self-interested Wikipedia edits are nothing new.The History of Self-Interested Wikipedia EditsNearly eight years ago, a young web programmer named Virgil Griffith created WikiScanner, a website tracing many Wikipedia edits back to the CIA, Coca-Cola, The New York Times, ExxonMobil, and pretty much every large organization you can name. There was plenty of outrage to go around, but not enough attention to really single anyone out. There is even a Wikipedia article called “Conflict-of-interest editing on Wikipedia” that chronicles the most infamous examples.It’s pretty much been the same story ever since, with a rotating cast of sensitive topics, intransigent authorities, and mildly sophisticated web detective-work needed to blow things wide open.Which leads to another thing I know: The group least likely to raise a major fuss about this turns out to be … Wikipedia editors. Outwardly, Wikipedians lament the fact that this kind of thing happens all the time, avowedly disapprove of it, and then do nothing to prevent it from happening again. After all, this happens all the time.Wikipedia’s Guidelines on Editing EntriesThe relevant Wikipedia guideline is “Conflict of interest,” which strongly discourages (although does not outright prohibit) editing topics where one has a close personal or financial relationship. It’s problematic in part because most editors gravitate toward topics they are interested in. Sometimes it’s a favorite TV show, sometimes it’s an area of research, and other times it’s about one’s own industry.So what makes the difference between perfectly acceptable edits and ones to watch out for? The guideline says, “when advancing outside interests is more important to an editor than advancing the aims of Wikipedia, that editor stands in a conflict of interest.”The problem is that, as written, the line crossed exists only inside the editor’s head, which then invites other editors to weigh in on their own view of the subject matter. Despite the existence of a Wikipedia policy that advises to focus on “content, not on the contributor,” it’s a lofty notion that isn’t always held. Meanwhile, another policy forbids editors from posting information revealing the real-world identity of editors who have chosen to use pseudonyms. This rule is strictly enforced, which sometimes inhibits efforts to ferret out crafty offenders.More than once in recent years, the Wikipedia community has considered an outright ban on “paid editing,” but each time it has been struck down for fears that it would go too far. In particular, any rules strong enough to be effective might also put a university professor in harm’s way for writing about their own field of research. Many Wikipedians are now employed in paid positions at libraries and universities, so drawing a line around payment is too dangerous.A Closer Look at NYPD’s EditsBut what, exactly, did the NYPD do? It’s entirely possible that the edits were made by an officer acting on his or her own volition, as a matter of personal opinion, instead of word coming down from the NYPD brass to put the fix in on Wikipedia. That is, not to put too fine a point on it, how a very large majority of edits on Wikipedia get made.Meanwhile, not all of the edits were made to NYPD-related cases. Weill published a Google Doc with a list of NYPD-edited articles, showing the edits covered a wide range of topics, including lots about popular culture (my favorite: NYPD Blue tough guy Andy Sipowicz). The NYPD’s editors also removed some more obvious vandalism.To the list of not-so-bad changes one might plausibly add the specific Garner edits I quoted above. If someone without ties to the NYPD made these changes, there might be disagreement, but not necessarily a “gotcha” angle.It’s not difficult to imagine that the articles were biased against the police to begin with, or that this was the officers’ impression. This is one reason why Wikipedia officially calls itself the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit” — through the back and forth of debate, Wikipedia will asymptotically approach the best possible version of events. This is the theory of crowdsourcing.But this process breaks down when the involvement of “interested” parties is looked down upon. Could the NYPD have made the same changes had they brought them to discussion? Maybe. Figuring out how to fairly handle these “conflict of interest cases” is something Wikipedia needs to work on.But it still mostly works. Having seen this happen time and again, Wikipedians are thinking this is an unfortunate but unavoidable side effect of allowing an open-editing policy. Closing off access to editing by all comers is more dangerous than leaving it open to all. Wikipedians are nervous that they aren’t able to detect these kinds of edits, but they know they can deal with them once they are uncovered.Amid the controversy, a few Wikipedia editors will follow up on specific changes, and decide for themselves whether to keep, delete, or alter the specifics. And then they’ll steel themselves, knowing this happens all the time. Originally published Mar 23, 2015 6:00:00 AM, updated March 25 2015