Darwin Day Gift Ideas

first_imgNeed ideas for that special someone on your shopping list?  With Darwin Day upon us (Feb. 12), it’s not too late to find the gift that’s just right for the occasion.  See our Top Ten list below.Top Ten Darwin Day Gift IdeasA blindfolded Tinker Bell doll (01/13/2006), or a Tinker Toy Set with a hammer.Framed picture of Haeckel’s embryos (02/08/2007) and the updated version (CMI).The Cambrian Explosion (a toy grenade with animals that pop out fully formed).For a disliked person, this gag gift: a Truth in Science information pack (01/11/2007, bullet 6; 11/27/2006).An amber necklace containing bacteria that haven’t evolved at all in 220 million years (12/13/2006, bullet 6).Golf balls that wobble at random (01/09/2007).A Charlie statuette that looks like Buddha.  The deluxe edition includes a niche with bamboozle curtains (11/27/2006 commentary).A glider parachute (see story on National Geographic) to help your friend evolve on the way down (12/13/2006, bullet 6).A human-cow chimera (11/29/2006) that can milk itself.For that special person, a radiation belt to induce beneficial mutations (12/14/2006).Remember also that you can find stimulating games and activities for your Darwin Day party right here.  See the 12/09/2006 and 02/13/2004 commentaries for details.    If you think silly game suggestions are just a satire, you need to read this essential article by John West posted for Darwin Day on National Review Online.  Another good article by Anika Smith can be found on Falcon Online.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

How Massachusetts Tried To Fleece Its Technology Sector With “Tech Tax”

first_imgRelated Posts “Make money,” the governor said to me as he shook my hand. In March of 2012, I was at a startup event in Boston at a club downtown. The party was a feel-good “pay it forward” type of thing where the Boston startup ecosystem gets together and congratulates itself on how awesome it thinks it is. In attendance was Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, espousing how Boston and the Commonwealth government were welcoming of tech startups. After a short speech on stage, Patrick exited the event with his usual coterie of lackeys where I was standing outside chatting with a friend. “Governor,” I said, “a quick question?”That is when he shook my hand and said, “make money.” And then walked away.Patrick thought I was some startup employee or founder, his target audience for the night. Patrick’s administration has been very proactive in creating a comforting environment for startups in Boston. The Commonwealth helped build a new “innovation district” down by the Seaport and everything Patrick has said publicly has been supportive of emerging businesses.His actions, however, have been another thing entirely. To Patrick and Massachusetts government officials, the state’s startups are not about creating better products or a better world. They are about one thing:“Make money.”Tech Tax Hurt Massachusetts InnovationHubSpot’s Laura Fitton at MassTLC “Unconference” 2012Massachusetts had a good reason for wanting to funnel some money from the burgeoning technology economy in the Commonwealth. Massachusetts’ transportation infrastructure could use a serious cash influx to repair roads and bridge, update the “T” subway system and keep Boston moving efficiently. Earlier this summer, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved a new set of tax hikes to finance its transportation initiatives. Cigarettes and gasoline were among the products getting more taxes, among several other dozen sundry items. Included in this tax hike was a “software tax” that was extremely confusing and opaque. Nobody really knew what to make of it other than that it would make it much more difficult for technology companies operating in Massachusetts to avoid the Commonwealth’s revenue barons. The gist of the Tech Tax was that the Commonwealth would extend its 6.25% sales tax on custom software and network design services. Essentially, if a development or technology consultant firm farmed work out of state or had out-of-state customers, the additional 6.25% sales tax would apply (the law is more opaque and confusing than that, creating much handwringing among the state’s technology firms, startups and developer centers over if and how to comply).The Tech Tax was estimated to bring in up to $160 million annually into the Commonwealth’s coffers. Yet, because of the vague wording of the bill, some estimated that the burden to Massachusetts companies could be up to $500 million. Opponents said that it was “the most far-reaching tax on software services in the country.”In a press release announcing a petition to repeal the bill, Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said that the tech tax was “the most anti-competitive piece of legislation in my 21 years as head of the Foundation and will cause incalculable damage to job creation and the Massachusetts economy.”So much for Patrick’s call to “make money.”Boston Tech Fought BackThe Tech Tax was the brainchild of the Massachusetts legislature and Governor Patrick’s office. During the drafting and implementation of the transportation bill, hardly any of the prominent Massachusetts technology players were consulted. Localytics CEO Raj Aggrawal at MassTLC “Unconference” 2012And then it was too late. The new taxes went into effect in the Commonwealth the first week of August. Consternation and confusion was immediately expressed by Boston’s large technology sector. Out-of-state tech companies that do a lot of business in Massachusetts looked even more warily on a state that has long had the reputation as “Taxachusetts.” When the repercussions of the Tech Tax became known, Boston tech companies kicked into gear. The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) led the fight, organizing local technology companies both large and small to fight the tax. A group of 20 businesses signed the petition to repeal the Tech Tax and threatened to bring it up for a vote as a statewide ballot in November (state politicians generally dislike these types of votes where the public overturns their policies and are seen as bad press for their eventual reelection bids). MassTLC has created tools to petition local lawmakers and organized informational meetings and summits on how Massachusetts companies can handle the Tech Tax and its repeal. The efforts have gained momentum. Governor Patrick has reversed his position on the Tech Tax and is now calling for its repeal. Commonwealth lawmakers on Boston’s Beacon Hill are expected to vote next week to repeal the tax. Massachusetts Tech Companies Need ProtectionIf a software tax like the one in Massachusetts were introduced to the denizens of San Francisco and the extended Silicon Valley area, it would be national news. The big tech companies in California would have their top-dog lawyers and lobbyists on it the moment it was announced and browbeat the California state government into dropping its plans. Deval Patrick signs repeal of tech tax (via @MassGovernor on Twitter)Massachusetts does not have that same type of organization in its technology sector. Many people looked towards MassTLC. Yet, the organization said time and again that it was not a lobbying organization and did not have the resources to continually monitor what is happening on Beacon Hill. One of the problems is the nature of how bills are passed. The “Tech Tax” was essentially a line item in a much, much larger transportation bill. Organizations like MassTLC don’t have the money and resources to monitor every bill that passes through the Massachusetts legislature and how it might effect the local startup ecosystem.The startups and technology sector of Boston and Massachusetts do not have a single group looking out for it. At the same time, it showed that it can come together to defend itself when it believes the Commonwealth is not looking out for its interests. Images: Massachusetts State House courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Governor Deval Patrick via Massachusetts.gov. Unconference via MassTLC. What Nobody Teaches You About Getting Your Star… dan rowinski Massachusetts needs money. These days, every state is looking for ways to scrape out more revenue for failing budgets and costly infrastructure projects.But Massachusetts looked at its burgeoning technology sector and thought that it could squeeze at least $160 million a year out the Commonwealth’s startups and established technology firms for funding of a transportation bill.So, the Massachusetts “Tech Tax” was born. It was a vaguely written and a potentially harmful burden to startups in and around Boston. When technology firms in Boston figured out exactly what the Tech Tax was, they fought back. And, for once, the Massachusetts legislature listened. This week, the Tech Tax was repealed by a 38-0 vote in the Commonwealth senate a day after it was also rejected by the House of Representatives 156-1.Today, Patrick made it official and signed the repeal of the tech tax. He likely did so with a sigh as the tax essentially started in his office because he, like many other state executives across the country, looked at the startups in his state and saw nothing but dollar signs. Deval Patrick To Startups: “Make Money” Tags:#Boston#Massachusetts#startups How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … How to Get Started in China and Have Successlast_img read more

Five Ways the YouTube Generation Is Replacing the MTV Generation

first_img When MTV went on air in 1981, .]  2. Stay Relevant Will It Blend Today there’s a new revolution happening: YouTube is killing the MTV star. MTV and cable television is steadily being replaced by online videos produced independently by high school kids in their bedrooms, software executives with senses of humor and millions of others. Youtube Marketing [This article was written by guest contributor Kate Morris of 5. Make it Known the first video it played PlumberSurplus Viral Campaign Making a wildly popular video that has nothing to do with your business or doesn’t talk to your customer will create traffic on your site, but no business. That is ultimately what you DON’T want (in most cases). (Example: As a consumer, you no longer need to wait on your couch to see what the vee-jay plays next. Videos like this one mocking the Backstreet Boys spread across the web like wildfire. All this creates a huge opportunity for you as an individual and as a marketer. With quality videos, you can reach a broad audience, and become part of the independent production movement replacing MTV. Just as if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, you can’t hide your video on your site and tell no one. Put it on YouTube, tell friends, send out an email, use other mediums to announce it. Buzz is king, and to get buzz about your video going, you have to start it yourself. Anybody with a video camera has a chance to get the world’s attention. The power is no longer in the hands of production companies and professional artists. People have a real say in what is shown, what is popular, and what’s just plain bad. So how do you produce quality videos that spread? Here are my top five tips:center_img 4. Don’t Be Pushy www.longhornkate.com ) — Video marketing is a powerful tool that can take your business to the next level, but also runs the risk of getting buried with everyone else’s videos. You need to make sure that you stand out in the crowd and reach who you need to talk to. (Example: Why make something if it’s not going to benefit your company in some way? Make sure people know that you are behind the awesome videos you create and give them a way to find you. ) 1. Be Memorable 3. Make Your Point was “Video Killed the Radio Star.” That marked the beginning of a revolution in television and music for an entire generation. If you have the right product or idea, the traffic and buzz will come to you. The key is to stay on top of trends and reach people where they are. Let them have the power and be rewarded in return. Originally published Sep 3, 2008 9:15:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Topics: While you need to make your point, you can’t “sell” people too hard. Make your video something fun, something people will want to see and share. Let it sell your services for you. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Continuous Testing and Improvement: Always Be Testing Everything

first_img . How to Generate Leads for Small Business you should eternally be running multiple variations of everything that matters you have nothing to lose and everything to gain Continuous testing is the only way to ensure that your campaigns are always improving. This means that . Make two or more versions of your landing page and split traffic between the two, eventually you’ll see one variation is producing more leads. Turn off the lesser version and iterate on the winner. For both email and PPC campaigns, you should be sending visitors to specific landing pages. Running PPC ads? Each keyword you’re bidding on should have at least two different ad variations going at all times. You have 3 lines to vary (4 if you’re really creative) You should always be testing everything Learn how small businesses can level the playing field and generate leads efficiently by leveraging inbound Internet marketing strategies and tools. If you have a blog or other content pages on your site, you probably have graphic call-to-action elements on your pages (probably in a sidebar). By now you should get the point. Everything you do in your marketing campaigns can and should be tested, and not just once. No matter how well your ads, emails and landing pages are performing, they can always be doing better. That little bit of knowledge should eat away at any marketer or business owner worth her salt, and by not striving for constant improvement you’re leaving money on the table and letting your competition eat your lunch.center_img Download our 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 Generation for Small Business Webinar . Try different approaches in your ad title, or different amounts of keyword repetition in the body of the ad. I’ve seen some interesting anecdotal evidence that line length and line length patterns can affect CTR rates on PPC ads, for example if your title is short, line 2 long and then line 3 short again, the shape of the ad creates an arrow and can stand out on a high-competition SERP. Get creative and once you see that one of your variations is getting more clicks, turn off the other one and add a new one that varies on the better performing version. . These are perfect for continuous testing and improvement When you queue up an email to send to your whole list, instead split your list in half and send the same email with two different subject lines, or send emails with two different main offers or calls-to-action. After a few days look at the data and figure out which subject line or CTA produced the best results. In the next email, split your list again and try two different variations of the version that won the last time. Keep doing this every single time you send a message to your list, On a given page there are any number of things you can test, from the number and layout of form elements to the messaging of the copy to your lead funnel. Every email, every PPC ad, and every landing page should always have multiple versions running and you should be in a constant state of analysis and incremental re-factoring. , otherwise you’re not doing as well as you could be. Originally published May 8, 2009 10:54:00 AM, updated June 28 2019 . Run two or more versions of each CTA on your pages and see which produces the most clicks.last_img read more

Free eBook: How to Use Online Video for Marketing

first_img Download the 18-page eBook. Here are a handful of tips that are included inside the eBook: that walks you through the entire video creation process: Marketers can use video to generate traffic to their websites, build brand buzz, collect inbound links (which can help SEO), and build social media presence and reach.  Filming Technique: To show the perspective of a person listening to another person, use an Over Shoulder shot. To get this shot, put the corner of the camera directly behind the shoulder of the person listening. Lighting Technique: Avoid recording a scene with a window in the background. This will cause your subjects to be dark and difficult to see. full of suggested beginner and intermediate cameras, audio equipment, editing programs and measurement tools. eMarketer predicts step-by-step eBook Originally published May 11, 2010 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 that by the year 2013, 85% of Internet users (or 188 million people) will consume online video. The eBook also includes a Download the free eBook. Research company Promoting: Send traffic to your YouTube video immediately after publishing. YouTube rewards videos that receive a surge of traffic within the first 48-hours of being live by recommending the video to more viewers. To help you take advantage of video, we’ve created a Online Video Marketing Kit Video Equipment List . Topics: Want more? You can download additional resources on how to use video for business in our Video Editing: A video that begins suddenly (or loudly) can be jarring. Add video transitions like fade-ins and fade-outs between clips to add professional polish. This eBook is a great guide to learning how to create video from a business perspective. Use it to create great new video masterpieces that drive traffic, leads and business. How to Use Online Video for Marketing. Driving Business: Determine your video’s call-to-action when writing your video script. Video Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Improve Search Rankings with Effective Link Building

first_img . Here’s an example of how you can do research to work out link strategy using HubSpot. how to go about building links – directories, networking and creating remarkable content that people will link to – you may not know what sites to target for inbound links. SEOMoz’s LinkScape First, A Quick Refresher on Inbound Links Originally published Nov 30, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 That little “spying” activity gave us a lot of insight into how the concrete business is doing and where there might be some opportunities to seek additional inbound links. Next steps would be to do a little research about each interesting source of links and determine what they want for a link.  Links that you don’t have to share. Third, What Do You Do With That Research? Or, is it a business that you may already be networking with and you can find out if there are any opportunities to share content or promotions to help each other out with relevant links.  Search engines give a page only a certain amount of credibility. This credibility or “link juice” is split up among the links coming from that page.  That means you get a lot more value from an inbound link that is a story just about your products or services than an inbound link that lists you as one of ten hyperlinked companies. Links with relevant text descriptions.  and In this example, you see the inbound links for a concrete countertop company. 67 total links with an average of a “low” link grade.  Logically, you should start with what and who you know. Make a short list of trade publications, blogs and contacts in your network who might be good candidates. Now, don’t stop there. Links from high authority sites.  Link Building Now that you know what you are looking for in an attractive inbound link, you need to figure out WHO you’d like to link to your site. That means some combination of industry relevance, high authority and the ease with which you can get in touch to share content that is link-worthy. Wow, comparatively speaking, our concrete countertop guy is doing great – he has a lot more links (60+ vs. 10). But maybe there are still some ideas for him here. Looks like the Better Business Bureau link could be of value, as could concreteideas.com and thebluebook.com which look like listing services. Add these to the list to investigate. integrated marketing software Let’s check out the competition to find out. Here’s another local competitor.  Next, let’s pick a more ambitious competitor. Looking at someone in the concrete business that has national exposure, we can see what Cheng Concrete Exchange is up to. Turns out there are a few tools on the market to help you even further. Tools like Search engines recognize which words are hyperlinked and give value to those words. Therefore, if someone hyperlinks to your golf school and they hyperlink the text “the program” instead of “golf academy,” you are missing out and you should politely ask the linker if they wouldn’t mind shifting the link to the more SEO-friendly text. Most of the time they are happy to help. Second, How Do You Research Inbound Links? both provide this functionality. HubSpot also provides link research tools as a part of our If you’ve read a bit about search engine optimization (SEO), then you know that attracting lots of high quality inbound links is one of the most effective ways to build authority and improve your rank online. Even if you know An inbound link is a hyperlink on someone else’s web site that includes the URL for a page on your domain. Inbound links vary in quality and usefulness based on the originating site’s own authority, how many other links originate from that page and the actual text that is hyperlinked. What you want most are: Prioritize that list and start working away at it one link at a time.  You’ll find that online authority and the resulting search results improve over time and the best benefit – the more people find you, the more they link to you, creating a virtuous cycle of link building that will be really hard for your competition to beat! Is it a member directory that you pay for?  Is it a content centric site that might let you post a guest article?  Topics: Yahoo Site Explorer Wow. They are a national outfit and it shows – they have hundreds of inbound links, many of high quality. This is a treasure trove of link opportunities to research further, looking for either personal connections or maybe sites that love to link to award-winning products, great content or customer stories. What does that really mean? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Getting a link from the New York Times has much more value than a link from my personal blog. Just like a personal introduction from your dearest friend has more value than an introduction from a distant acquaintance.last_img read more

When is the Best Time to Publish Blog Posts? [Infographic]

first_img on the topic. Based on over 170,000 blog posts I’ve created a visualization of the best times and days to post for views, links and comments. Click on the image below to see it full-size. Originally published Dec 8, 2010 5:51:00 PM, updated October 18 2015 For more data like this, be sure to Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack . In working on the data for mycenter_img big overarching post for ProBlogger Science of Blogging webinar tomorrow register for tomorrow’s webinar Over the past few years, I’ve researched and written a lot about the best time, and recently, I wrote a , one of the most important questions I could ask my data was “when is the best time to publish a blog post?”last_img read more

How the Evolution of PR Mingles With Content Marketing

first_img Identifying the influencers Building relationships with them Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack In a way, PR is one of the original forms of content marketing. Public relations professionals do plenty of things, of course: publicity, reputation management, and media relations, to name but a few. But the heart and soul of PR has always been planting stories in the media: in newspapers, magazines, on television and radio. With the exception of “the exclusive,” the primary tool in the arsenal for planting stories has traditionally been the press release, a brief, persuasive, one or two page document intended to persuade its journalist recipients that a certain topic is worth their time, attention, and coverage. An This lays out a new set of challenges: That’s a real game changer. our free webinar Content Marketing . Influencers can be bloggers or others with a significant social media following who are talking online about the issues, products, or services that fit with whatever a PR professional is working to publicize. And unlike the mainstream media, these essential targets are not necessarily versed or experienced in dealing with PR pros. . They’re no longer a private, one-to-one communications channel (once upon a time, releases were mailed, and later faxed, to newsrooms). In today’s age, press releases are distributed via wire services — wire services that are immediately picked up by all the major news services including Google, Yahoo, AOL News, and Bing. In other words, the second a press release is actually released content marketing How are you adapting to the changing nature of isn’t dead in the context of content marketing. Instead, it’s optimized for a variety of different target audiences as well as for search engines. Given that once a release crosses the wire, it’s “out there” for anyone to find (not just journalists), keyword research has become an essential component of optimizing press releases for search. Once you decide on two or three relevant search terms, these terms should be incorporated into the headline and opening paragraph of the release. It’s become increasingly important for press releases to contain links to video, photos, executive bios, a company or product web site — anything that will expand upon and enrich the story. influencers End-users, potential buyers, or clients can now be the target of your press release. In bygone days, that target was limited to the press. Where PR pros used to jealously maintain, guard, and update media lists, their who’s-covering-what-beat Rolodex of who to reach out to place stories, the challenge now is to target on Thursday, July 28, when we’ll discuss these concepts in greater details, as well as flesh them out with case studies. Finding the online communities where relevant discussions occur press releases don’t work that way anymore Yet, fundamentals remain the same. PR professionals are good at helping to shape and to spread stories, and , will be published by Pearson in September. Find the Influencers (Not Necessarily the Journalists) themselves effective press release , a digital marketing consultant specializing in content marketing and SEO as well as a sought-after speaker, writer, and author. Her next book, . I hope you’ll join us for Creating awareness and enough enthusiasm to encourage these people and groups to discuss the product/service/story. Enter the Optimized Press Release the media. Moreover, they interface and target a media landscape that’s grown far beyond traditional press and broadcasts outlets. But ? public relations Public relations just plain doesn’t work the way it used to is, as we’ve seen, very much about stories. In a digital landscape, this necessitates not only finding and shaping stories, but also determining how they are told, through which channels, and to whom. Rebecca Lieb Topics: This is a guest blog post by Originally published Jul 19, 2011 5:05:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 , the PR practitioner has broken his or her own story. It’s hard to persuade people in the news business to pick up “news” once the story is already “out there.” Public Relations So while PR practitioners were once exclusively in the business of influencing the media (and they still are), they (like all other content marketers) arelast_img read more

Why You Should Consider Inbound BEFORE Your Next Site Redesign

first_img Website Redesign Now imagine the same situation as before, but when you get into the shop you can’t see the cake you saw in the window and you have to search high and low for it. When you eventually find the cake, hidden at the back of the shop, there’s no information about how much it costs and what it’s made out of; you have to ask a shop assistant for that information. You’re ready to pay, but you don’t know where to go as there’s no “Pay Here” sign, so you have to search for the till (cash-register) and can’t find it. You decide to leave the shop and vow to try the cake shop over the road. You have had a frustrating experience that results in a shorter visit than you intended. 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 May 31, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated August 25 2017 There are two marketing initiatives I hear about all the time: 1) Adopting more inbound strategies, and 2) planning a website redesign.And both are great! But the big question most people face when both initiatives come up at the same time is … which do I do first?Redesigning your site first and then implementing inbound seems like the most logical approach. Why would you want to adopt inbound marketing strategies when your website is “not ready” for the public? Or you might flip-flop it so the redesign comes after you nail your inbound marketing strategy. Learn from the metrics and data first and then develop the site accordingly, right?Free Workbook: How to Plan a Successful Website RedesignSo … which way is better? Inbound marketing before a website redesign, or after? It’s a trick question, actually. In my opinion, neither is better.Why? To me, both “staggered” approaches have their own share of missed opportunities. I’m an advocate of the simultaneous execution of a website redesign and implementation of an inbound marketing strategy. Let’s talk about why.The Common Arguments Against Simultaneous ImplementationA very common objection that I hear for separating a website redesign from inbound adoption is resource allocation. Designers, coders, webmasters, and the marketing team are all involved with the finished product during a website redesign. The last thing someone would want to do is shove more work on the entire team’s plate.But thinking of it as additional work is actually looking at it in the wrong way. Why? First, a lot of the assets built through inbound —  a business blog, calls-to-action, landing pages — are actually components that should be developed to align with the redesign.I also hear the wonderfully vague “marketing strategy” objection, which when I drill down, can typically mean a number of things. These are the most common:“We don’t want to introduce inbound marketing until the website is complete.”“The web designers don’t need to be involved with our inbound marketing strategy—it might distract them.”“We want to see how the website performs before launching any inbound initiatives.”All are valid reasons. But the solution is simple, and it applies to all three above examples: introducing inbound marketing at this stage helps foster team alignment with the inbound strategy. The designers, marketers, coders, webmasters, you name it, will all be involved with the adoption of inbound marketing, and in understanding of the overall vision. Rather than playing a giant game of telephone after the redesign, everyone will be on the same page from the get-go.Luke Doran over at marketing agency Southerly explained this phenomenon really well with a cake shop analogy. (Yum.)”You’re walking down the high street, pass a cake shop, and you stop because something in the window display has caught your eye. You walk into the shop because the cake looks delicious and you want it. When you get into the shop, you see the cake immediately, a sign with a price, and an eager shop assistant with a large “Pay Here” sign. You leave the shop cake in hand, ready to indulge, and vowing to return again soon.Now imagine the same situation, but when you walk in you can’t find the cake you saw in the window. When you eventually find it there’s no information about how much it costs; you have to ask a shop assistant for that information. And when you’re ready to pay, you can’t find a register or shop assistant. So you just leave and go to the shop down the road. The first shop has been built with a clear goal in mind – to get the customer to buy the cake in the window and as such that’s exactly what the customer does. It’s inbound in action and working like a dream. The second shop clearly hasn’t been built with a specific goal in mind and it shows; the customer leaves before they buy a cake. It’s inbound gone awry. Topics: We all want a website like the first cake shop, what inbound marketer wouldn’t? So when we redesign a website for a client, we ensure that we fully understand their goals right from the start so we can build those goals into the redesign. This ensures our clients (and their customers) get a website that mimics the first cake shop. If we tried to bolt those goals onto the website after it was redesigned, we’d end up with cake shop number two. And who would want that? I know our clients wouldn’t! The goal of the first shop was to get cake out the door and into customers’ bellies. And they did it. We all want a website like the first cake shop. So when we redesign a website for a client, we ensure that we fully understand their goals right from the start so we can build those goals into the redesign. This ensures our clients (and their customers) get a website that mimics the first cake shop. If we tried to bolt those goals onto the website after it was redesigned, we’d end up with cake shop number two.” Don’t end up with cake shop number two.Website Redesigns and Inbound Marketing: Friends With BenefitsWebsite redesigns and inbound marketing having a sort of symbiotic relationship. For the non-science nerds out there, a symbiotic relationship is an occurrence in nature when two organisms rely on each other for survival. For example, a clown fish will clean a sea anemone of harmful bacteria in exchange for protection from predators.The same type of relationship exists between a website redesign and an inbound marketing strategy — a shiny new website redesign makes inbound marketing look good and in return, inbound marketing helps a website become a functional, lead generation machine. The key to a successful symbiosis (and ultimately, marketing success) is to understand the different ways that each mutually assist the other.What follows are three key areas where a symbiotic relationship between inbound marketing and a website redesign is absolutely necessary — and ultimately beneficial — when executing on both activities.1) Website StructureHave you ever been cooking something, only to realize you forgot to add a crucial ingredient to the mix after your culinary delight has been in the oven for a half hour? I have. It’s a huge bummer.The same type of disheartening situation can emerge when you don’t incorporate inbound marketing assets in a website redesign. Deciding how you’ll integrate key elements of inbound marketing into the site structure is critical in the first iteration of the new website — it saves money and time, prevents wasted resources, cuts down on iterations, and most importantly, tees up the site for success upon launch.All too often, I’ve seen marketers bring on a slick new website that’s built for design — not functionality — before adopting inbound tactics. Suffice to say, we end up making a lot of changes (all for the better) that could have been avoided if we strategized before, and integrated during, the website’s facelift — like CTA placement, landing page creation, and lead capture form integration.Instead of waiting to add inbound marketing best practices to the website after launch, do it throughout the process. Do it right. The results of your redesign will be much more satisfying.2) Content AlignmentContent creation is obviously a cornerstone of any company’s inbound marketing shift, and most companies start (smartly) with a business blog. And anyone who has started business blogging knows there’s no time like the present to begin. Search engines take a while to index website pages, so the sooner you can get pieces of content up, the less likely you’ll be starting from ground zero once the website redesign is complete.Don’t wait until the site launches to begin blogging — start yesterday.To hold up its end of the bargain in the symbiotic relationship, a website redesign will provide the opportunity for a keyword- and topic-focused inbound strategy. Old copy can be rehashed, new keywords and topics can be researched and integrated, and additional pages can be created to support opportunistic keywords. The redesign is the blank slate and inbound marketing is the chisel.3) User ExperienceI can confidently say that the companies that utilize inbound marketing most effectively are ones that develop unique buyer personas, define the customer buying process, and adapt the website’s user experience to best suit both variables.Structuring a website to suit buyer personas is no easy task — it takes research, planning, and careful consideration to create web pages that are suited to different audiences. As you can probably assume, this is the hardest piece to put in place retroactively after a website redesign.And if buyer personas weren’t enough to consider, it’s also important to structure the website to facilitate the buying process of a target customer. Not everyone is ready to buy when they land on a website’s homepage, so tailoring the content here (and other key places) is imperative to fostering a high visitor-to-lead conversion rate.If buyer personas and the customer buying process are clearly defined and implemented throughout the website’s redesign, it saves a lot of headaches once the site goes live. No one needs more headaches.Website redesigns and inbound marketing have a lot more in common than you might think — and each commonality holds the opportunity to benefit both as a whole. So if you’re considering both but are unsure how to scope them out, I strongly recommend executing simultaneously, so you avoid any missed opportunities and wasted resources later on.It may seem like more work up front, but it pays off. Trust me, I’ve been there.What other ways can a website redesign benefit from inbound marketing perspective? Or vice-versa?Image credit: tarale You’re walking down the high street, pass a cake shop and you stop because something delightful in the window display has caught your eye (a monstrous and very tasty looking chocolate cake). You decide to walk into the shop because the cake looks delicious and you want it (or any of its brothers and sisters). When you get into the shop, you immediately see a big display that features the cake you saw in the window. The display clearly tells you what the cake is made of and how much it costs. Immediately next to the display there is a large sign that says “Pay Here” under which stands an eager shop assistant ready to take your money and give you your cake. You leave the shop cake in hand – ready to indulge yourself, vowing to return again soon. You have had an enjoyable experience which clearly directs you down a linear path that results in a transactionlast_img read more

The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Case Studies

first_img Marketing case studies analyze the ways that a customer uses a product or service. They describe a challenge the customer faced, the solutions they considered, and the results they experienced after their purchase. Strong case studies can compel others to buy a product. Choosing a Case Study Format Topics: Benefits of Case Studies Converting Leads with Case Studies Benefits of Marketing Case StudiesThe use of marketing case studies is beneficial to companies of all sizes and customers of all backgrounds. Well-crafted marketing case studies provide potential customers with engaging content that excites them to buy your product.They Tell a Relatable StoryCase studies often involve an interview with a customer that has had success using your product. Before choosing a customer for an interview, consider who you’re targeting. Your case studies should appeal to your buyer persona.When your target customer feels connected to your case studies, they will feel more confident in their purchase.Consider this: You’re buying a new software for your team. You have a few possible options in mind, so you head to their respective websites to do your own research. The first two options sound good on paper (or rather, on screen), but you want a solution you can really trust. Something that is preferably not written by the company itself.The third site you go to has a landing page that includes a few case studies. One of the case studies features an interview with an employee at a company similar to yours. You listen to that person describe challenges that they faced prior to getting the software — challenges that sound a lot like the ones you and your team currently face. The interviewee then talks about the ways that their software purchase resolved their pain points.Wouldn’t the case study you found on the third website make you feel confident that the software could help your team, too?  The key to creating relatable case studies is considering your buyer personas. That means considering demographics, company size, industry, etc. and selecting a person that the majority of your potential customers will feel a connection.They Demonstrate SuccessTake a look at HubSpot’s case study landing page. Check out the wide range of case studies listed. Notice how these case studies cover all types of industries, a wide variety of locations, different company sizes, and more.Source: HubSpotIf there are so many companies using HubSpot — to solve a vast array of challenges — then wouldn’t you assume HubSpot has a solid product that you could trust, too?Case studies demonstrate success by showing potential customers that current customers — who once had challenges similar to their own — solved their pain points by making a purchase.They Help Build CredibilityCredibility is what gives the people around you a reason to trust you.For example, let’s say you’re looking at a product on Amazon, and you scroll down to the customer review section. You find that almost everyone has given the product a five-star rating or has written a positive comment about their experience. These comments and ratings build credibility for that product and brand.Marketing case studies help your company build credibility. They also convince prospects to give your product a try when they see how many people already trust you, love your products, and believe in your mission.They Help You Convert LeadsCase studies are a bottom-of-funnel strategy that will help you convert more leads. If a prospect is on the fence about your product, case studies are the marketing technique that will push them closer to that purchase decision.For example, if a potential customer visits your website and they watch (or read) multiple case studies explaining the ways that customers have had success with your product, then they too may feel excited to become a customer.  If that same prospect just left your competitor’s website where there were no case studies, your solution then becomes an easy sell … and your competitor becomes obsolete.Marketing case studies retain value over long periods of time — meaning the same study has the potential to convert leads for years. Unless you have a revamp or a complete update of the product being referred to in your case study, it can remain on your website as long as you see fit.Marketing Case Study TemplateNow that we’ve reviewed the reasons why you should have case studies on your site, you might be wondering how to actually create a marketing case study.First, it’s no secret that video content is more effective than written content. So, if you can create a video case study, do it. If not, be sure to include images throughout your written case study to break up the text and provide visual stimulation for readers.Second, remember one size does not fit all when it comes to creating case studies. They vary in length, format, content, and style based on what experience you want to provide for your potential customers.Keep this in mind as we go through the following example … some of the content here might work perfectly in your case study, and some might need to be modified.If you need some guidance, check out HubSpot’s Case Study Creation Kit.1. Choose Your Case Study FormatTo determine which format you want to use for your case study, think about what type of content would be most beneficial for your buyer personas. You should consider what challenges your buyer personas might face, what types of industries they work in, their locations, and their business demographics.Two commonly used marketing case study formats to consider include an exposé and a transcription.ExposéAn exposé is an interview technique that covers specific details about a topic, event, or individual. If you look back at the case studies on the HubSpot landing page, you’ll see the exposé format in action. The director, or author, is conducting the interview, leading conversation, and asking the interview subject questions about their interactions with HubSpot.Tip: When you’re recording a video interview for your case study, make sure the interview subject repeats your question before providing an answer.For example, if you ask them, “What challenge did our product help you overcome?” you don’t want them to simply say “organizational challenges.” The editing process will cut your voice out of the interview, and their response won’t make sense. Instead, make sure they answer all questions as a complete statement such as, “This product helped us overcome several organizational challenges.”TranscriptionThis is a simpler case study format. It’s a transcription of an interview with your customer, meaning there is typically a significant amount of text for potential customers to read through.Be sure to include the interview questions throughout this type of case study so readers know exactly what the interview subject is referring to. Lastly, feel free to pair your transcription with a series of images or even video to break up the text.2. Conduct the InterviewThe interview is the most important part of the case study … and quality matters. Strong interviews and videos take time. It’s not unusual to conduct a one to two-hour interview just to get a solid two minutes of video to use in your case study.During the interview, you should ask your customers about their lives prior to purchasing your product, what it was like to acquire your product, and how their company’s future has changed because of their purchase.If possible, record the interview. If not, be sure to use a transcription or audio recording device to ensure accurate quotes and statements throughout your case study.Here are some sample questions for you to consider:Ask about the customer’s life prior to your product.Who are you? What is your title? What does your company do?What challenges were you experiencing that made you realize you needed a solution?Why was finding a solution to this challenge important?Ask what it was like finding and purchasing your product.Capture general commentary — information that anyone could understand — from your interview subject in this section so potential customers can relate no matter their background or experience.How did you find our product? What was your experience like while purchasing our product?Ask about your customer’s criteria during their search for a solution. What was crucial versus what was nice to have?What were the results that came from using our product? How did our product solve your challenge?Ask for numerical results and hard data. Get proof of these from your interview subject (or even your own company if you have records).What were you able to start doing as a result of our product working for you? What are the intangible results of our product?Ask about the impact that the product has had on your customer’s life.How did our product change your view of your company’s future?What are you excited about moving forward?What would your future be like without our product?After conducting your interview, it’s time to actually put your case study together.Edit your interview down to the most important, relevant information for potential customers to learn about your product. Cut that hour-long video interview down to a minute or two of the best clips.If your interview is going to become a written case study, include the very best quotes. Make it easy to read by separating your information with the help of headers, bulleted lists, images, and bold or italicized text.3. Incorporate Your Case Study in Your Marketing and Sales ProcessesDetermine how to best use the case study in your marketing and sales processes. Here are a few ideas:Create a case study library.By creating a case study library on a landing page — similar to the HubSpot landing page or this page by Fractl — you provide your potential customers with an easy way to learn about your products and company as a whole.Source: FractlA case study library or landing page will prevent potential customers and leads from having to dig around on your website for any product information they’re searching for. If this information is not easily accessible, they could lose interest, become frustrated, leave your website, or even find an alternative solution on a competitor’s site.Case study landing pages and libraries also help build credibility, look official, and typically bring in a lot of traffic — both through people searching for your company’s website and organic search.According to Fractl, their case study landing page is the second most-visited page on their entire website. Additionally, it is their fourth most-visited page through organic search. Lastly, they’ve seen a huge boost in converting visitors to leads since the creation of their case study landing page — half of Fractl’s leads view at least one of their case studies.  Surround your case studies with social proof.If so many people are saying it’s true, then it must be true — this is how companies use the theory of social proof to their advantage.Social proof theories say that people let the actions, behaviors, and beliefs of those around them impact their own. For example, some theories say most people would answer “yes” to the question: “If all of your friends jumped off of a bridge, would you?”Social proof — or in this case, your friends all jumping off of the bridge — influences people to make decisions based on the expectations and behaviors of the people around them, even if their decision would be different if they were alone.Companies use social proof in the form of customer reviews, logo walls (that is, the logos of companies that have purchased their products), or long-form videos. Social proof acts as a supplement to the information in a case study.By showing potential customers how your products have changed the lives of other individuals, teams, and companies, prospects are more likely to buy into your claims and believe your product could help them, too.Add product overviews to the case study section on your site.If you’re editing down your case study interview and realize your interviewee said something vague or made a comment that a potential customer may not necessarily understand, you can add a product overview or reference guide next to that case study.For example, imagine HubSpot is conducting a case study interview and an interview subject goes into detail about the specific functions of Workflows. A potential customer may not know much about HubSpot’s Workflows, so a detailed discussion about their features may not be relatable and could even raise some questions.By including an overview or description of Workflows next to the case study where the product was mentioned, HubSpot can provide clarity for the viewer. You will also avoid making potential customers feel confused or uninterested.Keep your sales team in the loop.Once your case study is complete, you should notify your sales team so they can use them when reaching out to potential customers. They will be able to incorporate this information into their sales enablement kits — which include the technologies, processes, and content that allows them to sell efficiently and effectively.By learning about the ways that real customers are using and benefiting from the products they are selling, sales teams can share relatable stories with potential customers and leads. These will help build trust and, most importantly, increase sales.To help your sales team narrow the vast amount of information that typically comes from an in-depth case study, provide them with key takeaways that they can share with potential customers and leads. These key takeaways should include information about the interviewee’s background, title, and experience level and details about their company’s size, industry, and potential annual revenue.This data will allow the sales team to tailor the information they share with potential customers and leads, organize it for future conversations, and make more efficient and impactful sales.4. Determine How Many More Case Studies You NeedAs I mentioned, every company is different and every product they sell is unique. Not every company will need the same number of case studies on their website to have an impact. To determine the right number of case studies for your company, think about the following tips.Cover all of your bases.A good rule of thumb is to have at least one to three case studies for each of your buyer personas.To do this, cover a range of industries and types of companies, and interview people of different backgrounds, titles, demographics, and experience levels. You should make sure there is something for everyone who visits your website.If your company targets customers all over the world and has offices located around the globe, this is especially important to consider. Think about what works for your buyer personas, your company’s location, and your goals when deciding how many case studies you need.Sometimes, less is more.Having an extensive list of case studies sounds like something everyone should have … right?Not always. Think about it this way — if your company is on the smaller side and is relatively new, there’s a chance you haven’t given your customers much time with your products yet. There is also a chance that you don’t yet have a wide range of customers.If your company then takes the time to create dozens of case studies, potential customers may feel you are being inauthentic and even unconvincing. It may also be a waste of resources that you can’t quite afford as a new business.To be effective, try to make every one of your case studies relatable and helpful for your personas. Cover multiple use cases in each of your case studies when possible. You’ll not only simplify your own life, but you also keep your case study library clean and impactful.ConclusionCase studies are powerful marketing tools. They tell your potential customers relatable stories, demonstrate your company’s success, and help you build credibility. Case studies will help you reach your audience in a way that no sales pitch, email, newsletter, or advertisement will.Plus, if your company made such a positive impact on a customer that they want to share their experience with others, why not broadcast that story?Now it’s time to start creating content that matters to your potential customers and converts more leads. Originally published Feb 16, 2016 12:36:00 PM, updated October 10 2018 What Is a Marketing Case Study? Conducting a Case Study Interview Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine you were considering purchasing a new product.Would you be more inclined to:A) Chat with a salesperson — while trying to block out the tiny voice in your head reminding you that they’re working on commission?B) Review a case study about a customer who used that product to solve a problem similar to yours?Probably option B, right? That’s because we put more trust in word-of-mouth marketing than we do salespeople.The way people consume information has changed, and buyers have all the resources they need to make decisions about what to purchase. Companies can either continue marketing the old, less effective way … or they can embrace these changes and let their customers do the work for them through testimonials, reviews, word-of-mouth marketing, and marketing case studies.Customers trust other customers — the companies that recognize this will benefit in the long run and grow better.Plenty of companies have already proven how beneficial marketing case studies can be. They are the most popular form of self-promotional marketing used by marketing agency executives in the U.S. Additionally, 88% of surveyed B2B marketers say that customer case studies are considered to be their most impactful content marketing tactic.  While chatting with a salesperson can be helpful, and even preferable for some, it’s clear that having marketing case studies on your website can be beneficial. Case studies answer potential customers’ questions, demonstrate success, build company-wide credibility, increase conversions, and most importantly, eliminate bias so your customer can make a confident decision to buy your product. Marketing Case Studieslast_img read more