Tag Archive | "Success"

The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas

Do you know what happens down at the crossroads? Legend has it that Robert Johnson — the most famous of…

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Supercharge Your Link Building Outreach! 5 Tips for Success – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Shannon-McGuirk

Spending a ton of effort on outreach and waking up to an empty inbox is a demoralizing (and unfortunately common) experience. And when it comes to your outreach, getting those emails opened is half the battle. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome recent MozCon 2019 alum Shannon McGuirk to share five of her best tips to make your outreach efficient and effective — the perfect follow-up to her talk about building a digital PR newsroom.

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Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. My name is Shannon McGuirk. I’m the Head of PR and Content at a UK-based digital marketing agency called Aira. So at this year’s MozCon, I spoke about how to supercharge your link building with a digital PR newsroom and spoke about the three different types of media and journalist writing that we should be tapping into.

But I only had half an hour to be able to share my insights and thoughts. As a next step from that presentation, I need to equip you guys with everything in order to be able to go out and actually speak to these journalists. So for my Whiteboard Friday today, I’m going to be sharing my five tips for success for supercharging your outreach, specifically evolved around email outreach alone.

In the U.K. and in the U.S. as well, we’re seeing, as our industry grows and develops, journalists don’t want to be called anymore, and instead the best way to get in touch with them is via email or on social media. So let’s dive straight in. 

1. Subject lines A/B tests

So tip one then. I want to share some insights with you that I did for subject lines and specifically around some A/B testing.

Back in the early part of the summer, around April time, we started working on a tool called BuzzStream. Now that allowed us to be able to send different kinds of tests and emails out with a variety of different subject lines in order for us to understand how many open rates we were getting and to try and encourage journalists, through the use of our language and emojis, to open up those all-important pitch emails so that we could follow up and make sure that we’re bringing those links home.

Journalist’s name in subject line

So we ran two different types of A/B tests. The first one here you can see was with the journalist’s name in the subject line and the journalist’s name without. It turns out then that actually, when we were running this data, we were seeing far more opens if we had the journalist’s name in the subject line. It was getting their attention. It was getting that cut-through that we needed when they’re getting hundreds of emails per day and to see their name in a little nib meant that we were increasing open rates. So that was our first learning from test number one. 

“Data” vs “story tip”

Now test number two, we had a bit of a gut feel and a little bit of an instinct to feel that there were certain types of words and language that we were using that were either getting us more open rates or not. For this one specifically, it was around the use of the word “data.” So we compared the use of the word “data” with story tip, and again including the journalist’s name and not, to try and see how many journalists were opening up our emails.

At Aira, we have around a 33% open rate with any campaigns that we launch, and again this is tracked through BuzzStream. But when we started to do these A/B tests, combine story tip, full name, and then follow with “data,” we increased that to 52%. So that jump up, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get 52% more links off the back of your outreach, but it means that you are getting more people opening up their email, considering your data, considering your campaigns, which is half of the problem, when we all know as outreachers, content marketers, digital PRs how difficult it can be for someone to even just open that initial approach.

So now, off the back of those A/B tests, make sure that whenever you’re writing those emails out you have story tip for Tom and then followed by data and whatever research you’ve got in that campaign. 

2. Headline language

For tip two then, keeping on the theme of language, I did a piece of research for another conference that I was speaking at earlier in the summer called SearchLeeds and another one called outREACH.

I analyzed 35,000 articles across 6 different top 10 news sites in the U.K. The language that came out of that, around the headlines specifically, was so interesting. So I split these 35,000 articles down into relevant sectors, took the likes of travel, automotive, business, what have you, and then I was able to create around 30 word clouds according to different articles that had been produced within these different industries at different titles.

I was able to start to see common words that were used in headlines, and that got my mind ticking a bit. I was starting to think, well, actually as a team, at Aira, we should be starting to pitch and use language within our pitches that journalists are already using, because they straightaway resonate with the story that we’ve got. So here’s a quick snapshot of the kind of word clouds that the analysis revealed.

You can kind of see some core words shining through. So we’ve got research, best, stats, experts, that kind of thing. Now the top five words that were most commonly used across all sectors within the headlines were: best, worst, data, new, and revealed. Now “data” is really interesting, because if we go back to our A/B testing, we know that that’s a strong word and that that will get you more opens with your subject lines.

But it also reaffirms that that A/B test is right and that we definitely should be using “data.” So combine story tip for that journalist’s name, Tom or what have you, with data and then start to use some of the language here, out of these top five, and again you’re going to increase your open rates, which is half of the problem with what we’re doing with outreach.

3. Use color

So tip three then. Now this was quite an experimental approach that we took, and a huge recommendation of mine, when you’re doing your email outreach, is actually to start to use color within that all-important pitch email itself. So we’ve moved from subject lines into looking at the body of the email. We use color and bolding back at Aira.

So we use color straightaway when we’re writing the email. So we’ll start with something like, “Dear Tom, I have a story that you might be interested in.” Straight under that, so we’re already using again the language that they’ll be using, story, going back to our A/B test. But then straight under that, we will bold, capitalize, and put in a really bright color — reds, greens, blues — nice, strong primary colors there the headline that we think Tom might write off the back of our outreach.

So here’s an example. “New data reveals that 21% of drivers have driven with no insurance.” Not the most exciting headline in the world. But if Tom here is an automotive editor or a digital online automotive writer, straightaway he knows what I’m talking to him about. Again, he can start to see how this data can be used to craft stories for his own audience.

Again, as I said, this is quite experimental. We’re in the early phases of it at Aira, but we know it’s working, and it’s something that I learnt, again, at outREACH conference too. Straight under this use of color with headline, you should pull out your key stats. Now only keep those bullet points to three to five. Journalists are busy.

They’re on deadlines. Don’t be having huge, bulk paragraphs or long-winded sentences. Tell them the headline, follow it up with the key stats. Be clean, be punchy, and get to the point really quickly. Below this, obviously sign off and include any press material, Google Drive links, press packs that you’ve got under that. Again, we’re seeing this work really, really well.

We’re still in the early stages, and I hope to share some insights, some kind of data and metrics as to the success results of it. But we’ve been able to secure links from the likes of the Mail Online, the Telegraph back in the U.K., and also last week just FoxBusiness using this exact approach. 

4. Use emojis

So tip four then, and again this is a really playful technique and something that we only learnt with experimentation.

Start to use emojis within your pitches as well. Now this can be used within the subject line. Again, you’re looking to try and get the journalist to get that piece of attention straightaway and look at your headline. Or start to use them within the body of the email too, because they break up that text and it makes your email stand out far more than if you have someone that’s pitching in a business piece of data and you’ve just got huge stacks and research pieces.

Actually throw in some emojis that are relating to the business world, a laptop or whatever it may be, something that proves your point around the campaign. Again, it’s more engaging for a journalist to read that. It means that they’ll probably remember your email over the other 200 that they’re getting that day. So really nice, simplistic tip then for me.

If you’re pitching something in the automotive world, put a car or traffic lights on the end. If you’re doing something in the travel sphere, sun, beaches, something that just gets that journalist’s eye. It means that your email is going to be opened above anyone else’s. 

5. Use Twitter

Finally then, so I know I’ve kept this around email outreach for the last couple of points.

But one thing that we’re seeing work really well with the implementation of this digital PR newsroom is starting to approach and speak to journalists on Twitter. Twitter we know is a new source for journalists. Trending topics will obviously be picked up in the press and covered on a daily if not hourly basis. As soon as something breaks on Twitter, we’ll see journalists, writers, bloggers turn that trending feature into an article that’s really resonant and relevant for their audience.

So in the run-up to your campaign, way before the launch, we’re talking like three or four weeks here, reach out to the journalists on Twitter. Start to engage with them. Like some articles. Start to let them know that you’re in and engaging with them on their social media platform. Don’t push it too hard.

You don’t want to go overboard with this. But a little bit of engagement here and there means that when your email comes into their inbox, it’s not a new name, and you’re already starting to build the foundations of that relationship. Secondary to this then, feel free and start to experiment with DM’ing journalists as well. We know that they’re getting two, three, or four hundred emails per day. If you take to Twitter and send them a quick overview of your up-and-coming campaign via a Twitter DM, it’s likely that they’ll read that on the journey home or potentially when they’re walking from meeting to meeting.

Again, it puts you one step ahead of your competitors. Recently we’ve got some of our best pieces of coverage through warming the press up and specific journalists through Twitter, because when your campaign launches, you’re not going out with it cold. Instead the journalist knows that it’s coming in. They may even have the editorial space to cover that feature for you too. It’s something that we’ve seen really work, and again I can’t stress enough that you really have to find that balance.

You don’t want to be plaguing journalists. You don’t want to be a pain and starting to like every single tweet they do. But if it is relevant and you find an opportunity to engage and speak to them about your campaign the weeks in advance, it opens up that door. Again, you may be able to secure an exclusive out of it, which means that you get that first huge hit. So there are my five tips for link building in 2019, and it will help you supercharge things.

Now if you have any comments for me, any questions, please pop them in the thread below or reach out to me on Twitter. As I’ve just said, feel free to send me a DM. I’m always around and would love to help you guys a little bit more if you do have any questions for me. Thanks, Moz fans.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Did you miss Shannon’s groundbreaking talk at MozCon 2019, How to Supercharge Link Building with a Digital PR Newsroom? Download the deck here and don’t miss out on next year’s conference — super early bird discounts are available now!

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Walmart, Verizon, BMW Having Success With STRIVR Virtual Reality Training Technology

“We started the rollout to all of the Walmart retail environments at the end of 2019 and so far so good,” says STRIVR CEO Derek Belch. “We’ve had almost a million Associates go through different training modules. Doug McMillon actually in their earnings report a month ago did reference employee training as being one of the reasons that their earnings are what they are. So it’s definitely something that we’re seeing have a very positive effect as it relates to placing employees in these simulation-based learning environments that virtual reality affords.”

Derek Belch, founder and CEO of STRIVR, discusses the success that enterprise companies such as Walmart, Verizon, and BMW are having with their virtual reality employee training technology in an interview on CNBC:

Walmart VR Training Positively Impacting Earnings

We started the rollout to all of the Walmart retail environments at the end of 2019 and so far so good. We’ve had almost a million Associates go through different training modules. Doug McMillon actually in their earnings report a month ago did reference employee training as being one of the reasons that their earnings are what they are. So it’s definitely something that we’re seeing have a very positive effect as it relates to placing employees in these simulation-based learning environments that virtual reality affords. It’s been really cool.

Walmart VR Training – Oculus x Walmart x STRIVR

We have about 30 customers in the Fortune 500 right now. It’s definitely crossing the chasm. We’re still on our way up here in the early adopters’ phase but we’re seeing this catch on. There’s definitely product-market fit for immersive learning as we call it. This is the real deal. This is very similar to pilots in a flight simulator. Historically, we’ve trained employees or we’ve assessed employees via PowerPoint’s, videos, and lectures. Candidly, we don’t know if people are half asleep or if they’re actually engaged. 

Now with virtual reality, we’re able to put people through simulation-based learning, simulation-based training, simulation-based assessment, and it’s catching on. I think by this time next year if you’re not doing something (with VR training) you’re behind in the Fortune 500. We’re seeing that this is the real deal.

VR Technology Finding Its Legs As a Useful Tool In the Enterprise

At this point, we’ve talked to everybody. There isn’t a company in the Fortune 500 that we have not talked to in some way, shape, or form. We are not working with Amazon currently. We have talked to them on and off and we’ll see where that goes. To be honest, I’m not really worried about anyone doing this themselves. This is still the very early days of virtual reality. We work very closely with Oculus, which is owned by Facebook, they’re a great partner of ours. 

We take a lot of pride at STRIVR and what we call the end-to-end solution which is basically, hey,  in the early days while you’re an early adopter and the technology is certainly viable and ready it’s also really difficult to scale. So we do a lot of heavy lifting for our partners, Walmart being one of them along with Verizon and BMW. We just do a lot of work for them up front while the technology is finding its legs to get to the point where computers, iPads, and cell phones are right now as a useful tool in the enterprise. I’m not worried about anybody in the next 18 months or so doing this on their own but certainly, we’ll see as the ecosystem evolves where it goes from there.

STRIVR VR Technology Being Used by Verizon

As it relates to the viability of using this as a predictive tool, this is how the Walmart use case came about with using this for assessments. Were actually patent pending right now on what we call an engagement algorithm to see how engaged somebody is during a simulation. We tell our partners all the things we’re working on behind the scenes and Walmart said they wanted to test that out to see if this would be a good use case for them. 

We Take Pride That Our VR Experiences Won’t Lead To Nausea

This (disorientation) is an issue for sure. That question always comes up in every demo. “Hey, am I going to get sick? Oh, I’m good, I don’t need to put it on. I got sick last time.” This is all about how the brain works and your equilibrium. If you’re sitting or you’re standing and you put on a headset and now you’re on a rollercoaster or you’re running through an active shooter game or something like that, yeah you’re going to get nauseous because your body is static but your brain thinks that it’s doing something else.

We take a lot of pride in making sure that the experiences we build along with some of the subtle things we do in the software aren’t going to lead to nausea.

Walmart, Verizon, BMW Having Success With Virtual Reality Training Technology – STRIVR CEO Derek Belch

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3 ad copy mistakes keeping you from paid search success

Although Google provides data on keywords, bids and other aspects of your paid search campaigns, it tends to leave us hanging when it comes to ad copy.



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Identity Resolution: Secrets to Success

Live Webinar: Thursday, May 9, at 1:00 PM ET (10:00 AM PT)



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Lead generation success = nature + nurture

True success requires both quality lead generation and intelligent lead nurturing. Here are tips and examples from some successful business enterprises to help you get better leads and nurture them effectively.
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SMX Overtime: What really matters for SEO success

SEO expert Lily Ray offers advice on how small websites can build credibility, why depth above breadth is a good philosophy and the reason ad transparency is important.



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Kynetic CEO Michael Rubin: We Owe All of Our Success to Amazon

Kynetic CEO Michael Rubin says that they owe all of their success to Amazon. “I owe all of our success to Amazon because we are such a big believer in what they were doing, a completely differentiative business model,” Rubin said. “What we’re doing is really all about vertical commerce.”

Michael Rubin, CEO of Kynetic which also owns Fanatics, Rue Gilt Groupe, and ShopRunner and is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, recently discussed how his companies have become so successful in an interview with Jim Cramer of Mad Money:

What I See is How Much Opportunity There is In China

What I see as an entrepreneur is how much opportunity there is in China. When I went there it’s one of those things you had to see to believe it. We had 45 million people watch our preseason basketball game. Think about that, 45 million people watching a preseason basketball game! That’s like half of a Super Bowl rating. That’s home rabid the basketball fans are in China.

So for me, I think we have nothing but growth opportunity in China. We’re just launching Fanatics there. It’s a massive opportunity and we think we could build a multi-billion dollar business there. I couldn’t be more bullish on the opportunity.

I Owe All of Our Success to Amazon

Fanatics is a really exciting business. I’ll break this down really simply for you. I had a core belief that Amazon and Alibaba we’re going to control ecommerce everywhere in the world. So if you have that belief, you’ve got two options, completely differentiate yourself or go out of business. I’m not a guy who wants to go out of business so you’ve got to completely differentiate yourself.

People say all the time, “How do you feel about Amazon?” I owe all of our success to Amazon because we are such a big believer in what they were doing, a completely differentiative business model. What we’re doing is really all about vertical commerce. We design, develop, and sell directly to the consumer most of the products that we have, so it’s a completely different business. Think about it like an H&M or a Zara, but in the sports license business and mostly online.

Kynetic is All About Verticality

We’re designing the jersey, well actually in the case of the jersey, Nike designs the jersey, but going forward we’re actually gonna manufacture the jersey and sell directly to the consumer. But I’ll tell you, just over the Super Bowl specifically, we sold two and a half million units of Eagles merchandise. Two and a half millions units of Eagles merchandise within a few weeks after the Super Bowl and we design those products, we manufacture those products, we ship them directly to the consumer.

Because of the verticality, the consumer gets a wider assortment of merchandise, they get anything they want, they get it more quickly, and the leagues and teams make more money. We are also using that data to better communicate with the fans, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

If you really think about the sports license business and if you think about the sports leagues, what a league wants and what a team wants is to have the best marketing brand in the world. Nike is this incredible brand, but they don’t wake up every day and go to bed every night thinking about how do I maximize every sale in the licensed sports business. So what the leagues did was smart, they said let’s split this from one set of rights to two sets of rights. Let’s work with Nike to be this incredible marketing partner and then really use it to drive the Nike brand and the NFL brand. At the same time let’s work with Fanatics to drive transactions. Now you’ve got two companies instead of one really growing the business as much as possible.

We Made the Businesses What They Are Today

For us, the truth be told and people ask this all the time, “Was eBay smart for selling the businesses? First, eBay was very focused, they didn’t want to be in the owned inventory business. Number two, these were teeny companies. When I bought Fanatics back from eBay it was a 250 million dollar company. It’s going to do $ 2.3 billion dollars this year. It has a completely different strategy. When we bought back Rue la la from eBay it was a $ 200 million business, then we bought Gilt and now it’s close to a billion-dollar business. ShopRunner didn’t have $ 100 million in transactions and next year it’s going to do three or four billion dollars in transactions.

We took these businesses, we’ve developed the strategies, we’ve evolved them, and we’ve made them into what they are today. And Here’s the most exciting thing, we’re just getting going.

My Loyalty is All About Who Makes Us the Most Money

Other than the Sixers my loyalty is all about who makes us the most money, so I’m very easy to swap teams. If I own the Panthers I would be rooting to destroy the Eagles. I mean I love Jeffrey, he’s my buddy, but business is business and sports is sports. You’re there for one reason which is to win. I actually always laugh when people come up to me before a game and say, “Hey good luck.” I wish I could tell them good luck, but I’m like for the next three hours I hope you die. I love you before the game and I love you after the game, but there’s no love during the game.

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Practical Success Advice for Creative Professionals

There’s a bizarre myth in our culture that we have to choose between making a living and being creative. That…

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10 Meaningful Ways to Pursue the Success You Deserve as a Writer

We’re always all about sending love (and useful advice) to our community of writers, but this week we were particularly…

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