Tag Archive | "Beat"

How to Beat the Boring Content Blues in 30 Days

Have you ever reached a plateau with your content? You come to a point where you have a predictable amount…

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How a Famous Robot Test Can Help You Beat Impostor Syndrome

Have you ever had that nightmare where you’re sitting in an examination room in front of a panel of experts, watching a timer count down to zero? You’re being asked a series of critical, complex questions, and you’re running out of time to answer. In fact, you haven’t answered one correctly, or at all, and
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5 Ways Retailers Can Beat Amazon This Holiday Season

There’s no denying that when it comes to holiday shopping, Amazon is the company to beat. The past few years saw the retail giant’s sales figures going up, especially during the holidays, as thousands of consumers opt to shop online because of convenience. As a matter of fact, the internet retailer accounted for 33.8% of online visits during the last two months of 2016.

While retailers and small businesses can’t hope to match Amazon’s numbers this year, they can still do something to beat it at its own game. Here are ways that retailers can get a leg up on Amazon:

Capture Consumers Attention During Vital Shopping Days

Amazon will always be in the minds of countless shoppers during the holiday season, mainly because of convenience and fast delivery. So how can retailers compete with this? By finding a way to capture the consumer’s attention and imagination. One of the best ways to do this is to come up with a marketing campaign that highlights the company’s values in order to target loyal and high-converting clients.

Image result for #optoutside

Companies like REI did this by closing its doors on Thanksgiving and Black Friday and encouraging customers to spend the day outside instead with its #optoutside campaign. The movement inspired state parks to waive their entry fees and saw companies like Subaru and Outdoor Research teaming up REI to promote outdoor recreation. And even though REI closed its doors on Black Friday, the campaign generated a 26% boost in online traffic on that day.

Treat Each Shopper as a Unique Individual

One of Amazon’s weaknesses is its one-size-fits-all approach to its consumers. This means everyone gets the same deals and prices. But retailers can go in the opposite direction and show consumers that their unique and individual needs are taken seriously. They can come up with customized offers for different types of shoppers, like loyal consumers, senior shoppers or first-time buyers. Retailers can also ensure that the content and offers in their email ads are designed for each particular group of shoppers.

Streamline Your Shopping Cart

There’s no question that the ease that someone can order from Amazon is a contributing factor to its popularity. In order to compete in the same league as Amazon, retailers should take a critical look at their shopping cart and see what their customers’ experience. They should pay particular attention to details like the number of steps it takes to fill their cart, the number of decisions that the customer must make during the checkout stage (ex. gift wrapping, shipping) and whether every step is necessary. Retailers should consider whether some steps can be streamlined by combining decisions and actions. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than spending more than 10 minutes just trying to pay for something you want.

Offer Worry-Free Shipping and Returns

Free shipping is now the norm.While this might be a huge obstacle for some companies, there’s no denying that it’s what customers are now expecting from online retailers. There’s no better way to drive your customers to Amazon than by having high shipping costs during the holiday season. But aside from implementing this strategy, retailers should also ensure that they push this message to their consumers, like through the company’s homepage, pop-ups and social media ads. Promoting free shipping to your website’s visitors will also give them an additional incentive to browse through and hopefully purchase something.

Retailers should also take advantage of Amazon’s less than stellar reputation when it comes to returns. Designing a system where shipping and returns won’t become a thorn on the shopper’s mind will definitely give a retailer an edge over Amazon.

Provide Special Touches

Image result for gift wrapping

Customers will definitely love the special touches that companies offer, particularly during the busy holiday season. A simple gift-wrapping service or a program for storing items purchased ahead of time and to be delivered close to the holidays will be appreciated. Knowing that the company has taken the time to make life easier during this busy season will be more than enough to keep them coming back.

Amazon might be an eCommerce behemoth, but small retailers can still hold their own against it. Remember that the best way to compete with such a big company is to look at the details it neglects and to give customers a truly personalized experience.   

[Featured image via Pixabay]

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How to Beat Your Competitor’s Rankings with More *Comprehensive* Content – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Longer, more thorough documents tend to do better in the search results. We know that’s true, but why? And is there a way we can use that knowledge to our advantage? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains how Google may be weighting content comprehensiveness and outlines his three-step methodology for gaining an edge over your competitors when it comes to meeting searchers’ needs.

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about, well, something I’ve noticed, something we’ve noticed here at Moz, which is that there seems to be this extra weight that Google is putting right now on what I’m going to call content comprehensiveness, the degree to which a piece of content answers all of a searcher’s potential questions. I think this is one of the reasons that we keep seeing statistics like word length and document length is well-correlated with higher rankings and why it tends to be the case that longer documents tend to do better in search results. I’m going to break this down.

Broad ranking inputs

On the broad ranking inputs, when Googlebot is over here and sort of considering like: Which URL should I rank? Someone searched for best time to apply for jobs, and what am I going to put in here? They tend to look at a bunch of stuff. Domain authority and page-level link authority and keyword targeting, for sure. Topic authority, the domain, and load speed and freshness and da, da, da.

But these four, all of which are sort of related:

  1. Searcher engagement and satisfaction, so the degree to which when people land on that page they have a good experience, they don’t bounce back to the search results and click another result.
  2. The diversity and uniqueness of that content compared to everything else in the results.
  3. The raw content quality, which I think Google has probably lots of things they use to measure content quality, including engagement and satisfaction, so these might overlap.
  4. And then comprehensiveness.

It’s sort of this right mix of these three things, like the depth, the trustworthiness, and the value that the content provides seems to really speak to this. It’s something we’ve been seeing like Google kind of overweighting right now, especially over the last 12 to 18 months. There seems to be this confluence of queries, where this very comprehensive content comes up in ranking positions that we wouldn’t ordinarily expect. It throws off things around link metrics and keyword targeting metrics, and sometimes SEOs go, “What is going on there?”

So, in particular, we see this happening with informational- and research-focused queries, with product and brand comparison type queries, like “best stereo” or “best noise cancelling headphones,” so those types of things. Broad questions, implicit or explicit questions that have complex or multifaceted answers to them. So probably, yes, you would see this type of very comprehensive content ranking better, and, in fact, I did some of these queries. So for things like “job application best practices,” “gender bias in hiring,” “résumé examples,” these are broad questions, informational/research focus, product comparison stuff.

Then, not so much, you would not see these in things like “job application for Walmart,” which literally just takes you to Walmart’s job application page, which is not a particularly comprehensive format. The comprehensive stuff ranks vastly below that. “Gender bias definition,” which takes you to a short page with the definition, and “résumé template Google Docs,” which takes you to Google Docs’ résumé template. These are almost more navigational or more short-format answer in what they’re doing. I didn’t actually mean to replace that.

How to be more comprehensive than the competition

So if you want to nail this, if you identify that your queries are not in this bucket, but they are in this bucket, you probably want to try and aim for some of this content comprehensiveness. To do that, I’ve got kind of a three-step methodology. It is not easy, it is hard, and it is going to take a lot of work. I don’t mean to oversimplify. But if you do this, you tend to be able to beat out even much more powerful websites for the queries you’re going after.

1. Identify ALL the questions inherent in the search query term/phrase:

First off, you need to identify all the questions that are inherent in the searcher’s query. Those could be explicit or implicit, meaning they’re implied or they’re obvious. They could be dependent on the person’s background, the searcher’s background, which means you need to identify: Who are all the types of people searching for this, and what differences do they have? We may need different types of content to serve different folks, and there needs to be some bifurcation or segmentation on the page to help them get there.

Same thing on their purpose. So some people who are searching for “job application best practices” may be employers. Some people may be job applicants. Some may be employees. Some may be people who are starting companies. Some may be HR directors. You need to provide that background for all of them.

One of the ways to do this, to get all the questions, truly all the questions is to survey. You can do that to your users or your community, or you can do it through some sort of third-party system. For example, Oli Gardner from Unbounce was very kind and did this for Moz recently, where he was asking about customer confusion and objections and issues. He used UsabilityHub’s tests. UsabilityHub, you can use this there as well. You can also use Q and A sites, things like Quora. You can use social media sites, like Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook, if you’re trying to gather some of this data informally.

2. Gather information your competition cannot/would not get:

Once you have all these questions, you need to assemble the information that answers all of these types of questions, hopefully in a way that your competition cannot or would not get. So that means things like:

  • Proprietary data
  • Competitive landscape information, which many folks are only willing to talk about themselves and not how they relate to others.
  • It means industry and community opinions, which most folks are not willing to go out and get, especially if they’re bigger.
  • Aggregated or uniquely processed metrics, obviously one of the most salient recent examples from the election that’s just passed is sites like FiveThirtyEight or the Upshot or Huffington Post, who build these models based on other people’s data that they’ve aggregated and included.
  • It also could mean that you are putting together information in visual or audio or interactive mediums.

3. Assemble in formats others don’t/can’t/won’t use:

Now that you have this competitive advantage, in terms of the content, and you have all of the questions, you can assemble this stuff in formats that other people don’t or won’t create or use.

  • That could be things like guides that require extraordinary amounts of work. “The Beginners Guide to SEO” is a good example from Moz, but there are many, many others in all sorts of fields.
  • Highly customized formats that have these interactive or visual components that other people are generally unwilling to invest the effort in to create.
  • Free to download or access to reports and data that other people would charge for or they put behind pay walls.
  • Non-transactional or non-call-to-action-focused formats. For example, a lot of the times when you do stuff in this job search arena, you see folks who are trying to promote their service or their product, and therefore they want to have you input something before they give you anything back. If you do that for free, you can often overwhelm the comprehensiveness of what anyone else in the space is doing.

This process, like I said, not easy, but can be a true competitive advantage, especially if you’re willing to take on these individual key phrases and terms in a way that your competition just can’t or won’t.

I’d love to hear if you’ve got any examples of these, if you’ve tried it before. If you do use this process, please feel free to post the results in the comments. We’d love to check it out. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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Why Facebook Might Beat Google At The Online Advertising Game

During the few years I was running CrankyAds, an advertising management tool for bloggers, I spent quite a bit of time researching the online advertising space. One of my primary goals for this research was to find a way to deal with two issues – Banner advertising sucks, and… There…

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Brands Beat Generics

When markets are new they are unproven, thus they often have limited investment targeting them.

That in turn means it can be easy to win in new markets just by virtue of existing.

It wouldn’t be hard to rank well creating a blog today about the evolution of the 3D printing industry, or a how to site focused on Arduino or Raspberry Pi devices.

Couple a bit of passion with significant effort & limited competition and winning is quite easy.

Likewise in a small niche geographic market one can easily win with a generic, because the location acts as a market filter which limits competition.

But as markets age and become more proven, capital rushes in, which pushes out most of the generic unbranded players.

Back in 2011 I wrote about how Google had effectively killed the concept of category killer domains through the combination of ad displacement, vertical search & the algorithmic ranking shift moving away from relevancy toward awareness. 2 months before I wrote that post Walgreen Co. acquired Drugstore.com for about $ 429 million. At the time Drugstore.com was one of the top 10 biggest ecommerce pure plays.

Thursday Walgreens Boots announced it would shut down Drugstore.com & Beauty.com:

The company is still trying to fine tune its e-commerce strategy but clearly wants to focus more of its resources on one main site. “They want to make sure they can invest more of the equity in Walgreens.com,” said Brian Owens, a director at the consultancy Kantar Retail. “Drugstore.com and Beauty.com are distractions.”

Big brands can sometimes get coverage of “meh” content by virtue of being associated with a big brand, but when they buy out pure-play secondary e-commerce sites those often fail to gain traction and get shuttered:

Other retailers have picked up pure-play e-commerce sites, only to shut them down shortly thereafter. Target Corp. last year shuttered ChefsCatalog.com and Cooking.com, less than three years after buying them.

The lack of publishing savvy among most large retailers mean there will be a water cycle of opportunity which keeps re-appearing, however as the web gets more saturated many of these opportunities are going to become increasingly niche options riding new market trends.

If you invest in zero-sum markets there needs to be some point of differentiation to drive switching. There might be opportunity for a cooking.com or a drugstore.com targeting emerging and frontier markets where brands are under-represented online (much like launching Drugstore.com in the US back in 1999), but it is unlikely pure-play ecommerce sites will be able to win in established markets if they use generically descriptive domains which make building brand awareness and perceived differentiation next to impossible.

Target not only shut down cooking.com, but they didn’t even bother redirecting the domain name to an associated part of their website.

It is now listed for sale.

Many short & generic domain names are guaranteed to remain in a purgatory status.

  • The price point is typically far too high for a passionate hobbyist to buy them & attempt to turn them into something differentiated.
  • The names are too generic for a bigger company to do much with them as a secondary option
    • the search relevancy & social discovery algorithms are moving away from generic toward brand
    • retailers have to save their best ideas for their main branded site
    • the rise of cross-device tracking + ad retargeting further incentivize them to focus exclusively on a single bigger site)
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Quick Wins To Beat The SEO Waiting Game

Even though SEO is a long-term investment, marketers often feel pressured to show progress quickly. Columnist Dan Bagby provides some ideas for quick wins that can show value while waiting for your longer-term initiatives to start gaining traction.

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The #1 Conversion Killer in Your Copy (and How to Beat It)

easy ways to send the trolls away

What makes people almost buy?

What makes them get most of the way there and then drop out of your shopping cart at the last second?

What makes them stare at your landing page, wanting what you have to offer, and yet, ultimately, close the page and move on to something else?

It turns out there’s a hideous troll hiding under the bridge. Every time you get close to making a sale, the troll springs out and scares your prospect away. Get rid of the troll and your copy will start converting better than it ever has before.

The ugly, smelly, dirty, bad-mannered troll is prospect fear.

And it’s sitting there right now, stinking up your landing page and scaring good customers away.

Fear of wasting money

Remember when you were a kid and you went to that rinky-dink carnival that came through town? After eating all the cotton candy you could manage — and throwing it all back up again on the Tilt-a-Whirl — you checked out something called the midway.

Remember that persuasive fellow who convinced you to spend a whole month’s allowance throwing softballs at those damned milk bottles?

It looked so easy. He showed you exactly how to do it. Toss the softball, knock over the milk bottle, win a cool stuffed animal for a prize. Simple.

You spent quarter after quarter trying to do it yourself.

When all your quarters were gone, you got an inkling. It looked easy, but if you were actually standing at the throw line, it was pretty close to impossible. Now the carnival guy had all your money, and you didn’t even have an ugly green plush monkey to show for it.

The troll is born.

Fear of mockery

When the sting of the carnival wore off, you were innocently minding your own business and ran across an ad for a fascinating product called Sea-Monkeys.

They were little people! With tails! They looked pretty awesome on the cover of the package. You begged your parents to get them for you and told everybody you knew. Your little brother. Your best friend. Your entire third-grade class.

This was going to be so cool. The ad said you could even teach them to do tricks. You planned on getting them medicine, vitamins, special formulas, everything they needed to be the happiest pets ever.

You followed the instructions to the letter. You waited breathlessly. You told anyone and everyone how amazing this was going to be.

It turns out Sea-Monkeys are just brine shrimp. In no way do they resemble little people. They resemble fish food, which is what they are.

Your little brother, your best friend, and your entire third-grade class now thought you were an idiot. And they delighted in letting you know that at every opportunity.

The troll gets a little bigger.

Fear of feeling stupid

Every time we’re betrayed by a sleazy salesperson, we toughen up just a little. The troll grows. Our mistrust grows and our inclination to believe shrinks.

And then a content marketer shows up with a helpful article or podcast episode that will solve a problem that’s been really bothering us. Let’s call that content marketer … you.

We want to believe you. We want to get the benefit from what you have to offer. We want to have something — anything — work out the way it was promised.

We would love to be able to trust our own judgment.

But the troll keeps whispering in our ear, with his truly horrendous breath, how stupid we’re going to feel when we fall for that again.

How to kill the troll

Trustworthiness, lots of high-value content, and just plain old decency are your best weapons to combat the troll.

Everything on your site needs to show you can be trusted: Real contact information. Your photograph. Thorough responses to FAQs. Clear, reasonable calls to action.

Every detail matters, including hosting your site on your own domain and publishing content on a consistent schedule. Everything you do needs to build trust and kill the troll.

Unless you sell to 10-year-olds, your prospect has likely been kicked around many times by unscrupulous (or incompetent) businesses. Give the prospect any tiny reason to mistrust you and memories of all those wretched old experiences come back.

There’s an old joke that a second marriage is the triumph of optimism over experience. In fact, that’s exactly what happens every time you make a sale, especially to someone who hasn’t done business with you before.

So, let’s declare war on the trolls.

Prove you’re extraordinarily trustworthy by demonstrating your value, putting your customers first, and keeping your promises.

The troll is tough and hard to kill. But with dedication and commitment, we can chase him off once and for all.

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on May 29, 2009.

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How to Beat the ‘Blank Stare’ and Get Customers Fired Up with Your Sales Copy

hp-sales-copy

Have you ever felt as though you’re giving it your all when writing about your products or services, but readers (ones you know would make perfect customers) just don’t seem to “get it?”

You could be falling foul of the “blank stare” — here’s how to avoid it.

This week on Hit Publish, we’re tackling a very frustrating problem when it comes to writing content, particularly content where you want to engage your readers.

It’s called the “blank stare.”

Now, host Amy Harrison knows that might sound strange because you’re probably not sitting face to face with your readers when they get this content, but you can certainly feel the blank stare when you Hit Publish.

It might look like this:

  • You send out an email newsletter, ask for a response, and no one replies

  • You launch a new product, send a link to your sales page, and get no bites

  • You send out a brochure or pitch about your services, and no one calls you back


That is the equivalent of a content “blank stare.” People are reading your content, but you get the feeling that they don’t really “get” the wonder of what you do. Annoying.

Amy is going to give you two questions to answer and two key areas to focus on before you Hit Publish to help you beat the blank stare and increase your audience engagement.

Tune in to Hit Publish to find out:

  • Why the very expertise your customers love can hold you back when trying to sell what you do
  • The two-step writing habit you need to develop whenever you write about what you do (most businesses stop at step one)
  • How to use these two steps when writing about who you are and what you do to reveal elements that really captivate your readers

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Rainmaker.FM is the premier digital marketing and sales podcast network. Get on-demand digital business and marketing advice from experts, whenever and wherever you want it.

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Can’t beat ’em, join ‘Facebook at Work’

Facebook at WorkIn a Salary.com survey from 2012, 64% of respondents said they visit non-work related sites every day while they’re at work. Of those, 41% said they visit Facebook. Add two years and allowing for people who lied about it – I’d guess that an even larger percentage of workers are logging on to check their Facebook feed either through work computers or their own mobile phone.

So, in the spirit of, ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’, Facebook is rolling out Facebook for Work; a private platform that lets companies create their own social network inside a very familiar framework.

According to TechCrunch (and everyone else who picked up the story), it’s still very much a closed beta but at least now it’s official. There’s even an app in the app store but you can’t use it unless you’re one of the chosen few.

When a company signs on to take the ride, they can create Facebook at Work logins for their employees or just let everyone sign in with their personal Facebook credentials. The first option is more secure but sort of defeats the whole purpose of using Facebook as your social network provider. There are other companies in this space but only Facebook has a built-in user base.

The hope is that by connecting through Facebook, employees will be more apt to participate in group discussions and communicate with each other on a regular basis. Both are good for morale and, ironically, could make employees more productive. It might also make employees more likely to deal with work issues when they’re not at work. How many people will be able to resist clicking on a company update when it’s in line with a cute baby video and photos from your sister’s vacation in Hawaii?

LinkedIn Links Up

LinkedIn, the social network you’re supposed to visit while you’re at work, is also working on extending its company boundaries.

Rec/Code says LinkedIn is slowing rolling out tools that will encourage employees to use the social network for internal communication with co-workers. It seems like a good idea, since LinkedIn is all business, all the time but wouldn’t it be easier to just use your company email when you want to reach a co-worker?

If they go ahead with the idea, it will require a mind shift since most people think of LinkedIn as a site for networking with people you don’t already know. Then again, it’s better than hitching your work life to your personal life on Facebook.

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