Monday, 30 June 2014

The Best Infographics of 2014

It takes a good deal of effort to draft, design, and finalize an infographic, but it doesn't take a lot of effort to read an infographic -- which is exactly why people love them so much.
Humans have short attention spans and, let's face it, the internet is cluttered. To stand out, boost engagement, and increase shareability, many marketers have turned to visual content -- especially infographics. They're an awesome medium to use to share facts, tips, and tidbits of information in a way that's easy for people to understand and remember.
The best infographics are clear, easy-to-follow, contain useful information, and have colors that go well together. Here are 11 brands from all different industries -- from real estate companies toparalegal programs -- that totally nailed their infographics this year so far. So scroll on and get inspired! 
(Dying to learn how to create your own infographic, but don't know where to start? Click here to learn how to create and design your own.)

11 of the Best Infographics From Brands This Year

1) The Blogging Food Groups: A Well-Balanced Diet of Content, by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

One great use of infographics is to illustrate and explain an analogy via visuals -- and who doesn't like food analogies? Since blogging is such a big fuel source for the content mix, Jason Miller of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions borrowed (and properly cited) an analogy originally coined by HubSpot’s Rick Burns in 2009 and turned it into a great piece of visual content showing how blogging is such a big fuel source for the content mix. Analogies work very well in infographic form.

2) Dining Etiquette Around the World, by The Restaurant Choice

Did you know it's rude to tip restaurant servers in some countries? Gift voucher company The Restaurant Choice created this cool infographic to show cultural changes in dining etiquette around the world -- while hinting that their network has global reach. We love that this infographic isn't heavy-handed on the product mentions, but still is intriguing enough for you to want to check out their website (which you know because it's clearly displayed at the bottom).

3) Travel Hacks, by Best Hospitality Degrees

Best Hospitality Degrees is a resource for people looking for a hospitality degree program that's right for them, and this infographic shows they're dedicated to arming degree seekers with hospitality wisdom from the very beginning. We love how on-target this is for Best Hospitality Degrees' buyer personas (young, adventurous, smart people) -- and the color palette is top-notch, too.

4) You Have the Right to Stay Out of Jail, by

While this infographic's design is a little busy, it's packed with well-researched and incredibly useful information for human living in or visiting the United States. My favorite part is the "Miranda Rights" section, which gives an example of a realistic conversation you might have with a police officer trying to trick you into giving information you don't legally have to give. We love how they anticipated our questions -- even the uncomfortable ones -- and gave us on-point, thorough answers.

5) How to Use Cinnamon Sticks, by Frontier Natural Products Co-op

Who knew there were so many uses for cinnamon sticks? This infographic was introduced in a blog post about the health benefits of cinnamon. The icons are consistent in color and design, and they're spaced out well so they're easy to read. Also, the warm colors and wood background make me want to put on a huge sweatshirt and curl up by the fire with some hot cocoa -- which is exactly what they were going for. 

6) Wedding Planning Timeline, by

Sometimes, all you need is a simple, clean layout to get your point across. Lifestyle, beauty and fashion website nailed this approach for this Wedding Planning Timeline infographic. Infographics are a great way to show timelines, as long as the design is consistent so it's easy to follow. I can see brides-to-be everywhere printing this out and crossing each item off the list -- plus, the pink-and-white color palette is appropriate for the topic while also consistent with their branding. Well done!

7) How to Protect Yourself From Package Pillagers, by Endicia

This is a great example of an infographic that tells a story. Endicia, an online postage and shipping company, created it to educate people about package theft -- probably as a resource to send people who tell them their package has been stolen. We love how they started with the baseline statistics and then moved logically from one section to another, ending with what we can do to prevent packages from being stolen in the future. The narrative is fluid and cohesive -- just like a blog post. 

8) Your Brain on Beer vs. Coffee, by ILoveCoffee

This infographic is as entertaining as it is informative. The creator of this infographic, a Japanese blogger named Ryoko, curated all the information from this infographic from an article she read about whether beer or coffee makes you more creative. She borrowed (and properly cited) the information and turned it into an easily readable, skimmable, and shareable infographic that's much easier for the human brain to digest than the blog post itself. We love the fun icons, fonts, and color scheme because they match with the playfulness of the topic. She also made the conclusion really clear for skimmers, by labeling it "CONCLUSION" and making the conclusive points short and simple.

9) Color, Value & Evolution of Logos, by RubyMediaCorporation

What does your logo color really mean, and what does it say about your company? This is an example of a long-form infographic packed with substantial research, which makes it a really fascinating read. It starts with the information everyone wants to hear -- which colors are associated with which attributes -- and flows into answering more nuanced questions, like how much logos cost. We love that they included recognizable brands as examples throughout. They also played off our nostalgia by featuring logos that have changed significantly over the years.

10) Bob's Burgers Restaurant Valued at $796,446, by Movoto

This infographic is probably the most creative one of the bunch. Cambridge-based real estate company Movoto successfully took a pop culture topic -- the hit television show Bob's Burgers -- and used their expertise to create a clever, relevant, and shareable infographic about it. We love that it follows a train of thought, from a line in a TV show ("the rent is too damn high") to "I wonder how much the rent would be if this place really existed?" and exactly how Movoto got from A to B. The question-and-answer format here is engaging for readers and makes us feel like we're part of the process.

11) Keeping Track of Baby Habits, from PishPoshBaby
Finally, we have this timeline infographic from PishPoshBaby, an online resource for new or soon-to-be parents. Timeline infographics are done best when every time period has a consistent design, which PishPoshBaby executed really well: The stage names are always on the left, and the categories -- Sleeping, Feeding, Playtime, and Senses/Motor Skills -- are all in the same place as you move down the page. It's very easy to read and follow. We also love that they used gender-neutral colors like beige and yellow in addition to the predictable pink and blue, making it relevant for both baby girls and boys.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

14 Metrics to Focus on with Digital Marketing Campaigns

When I first reviewed this infographic, I was a bit skeptical that there were so many metrics missing… but the author was clear that they were focused on digital marketing campaigns and not an overall strategy. There are other metrics that we observer overall, like the number of ranking keywords and average rank, social shares and share of voice… but a campaign typically has a finite start and stop so not every metric is applicable in a defined campaign.+
This infographic from Digital Marketing Philippines lists out the key metrics to focus on when reviewing a digital marketing campaign+
Overall site traffic, traffic sources, mobile traffic, click-through rate (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), conversion metrics, conversion rate (CVR), cost per lead (CPL), bounce rate, average page views per visit, average cost per page view, average time on site, rate of returning visitors, return on investment (ROI), and customer acquisition cost (CAC) are all listed as the most important. 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Social media marketing for small businesses – a how to guide for beginners

10 steps for social media success

Social media marketing is a great tool for small businesses and one that you just cannot ignore. The number of people engaging in social media networks every single minute is so big and if your business is not participating in this mega digital party, you are missing out opportunities.

Obviously the next question is how can business owners take advantage of social media and whether it is something that can generate business results (i.e. more traffic, sales, leads, signups) or if it is just another myth?

#1 – Let’s get started

The first step is to actually move from theory to practice and get started with social media. This means 4 things:
  • To allocate some time on a daily basis to work on your social media presence
  • To choose which social media networks to use at the beginning since there are too many and it will be very difficult to do all at the same time.
  • To create your business pages on those networks
  • To SEO optimize your social media profiles for more exposure
Some things to consider:

Facebook – Everybody is on Facebook so you don’t actually have a choice here. Read this to get inspired: How to get your first 10,000 fans on Facebook. Note: Since that article was written, the page has now more than 45,000 fans.

Google+Google plus is for businesses and it’s also owned by Google so this is your second choice.

Pinterest – It’s growing rapidly and can send a lot of traffic to a website so this is your next choice provided that you have something visual related to your business that you can share on Pinterest.

Twitter – millions of users, easy to maintain and good way to engage with your customers. Together with the previous 3, this is your priority list.

LinkedIn – Mainly for business professionals, more difficult to use, advertising is expensive. You can create your presence on LinkedIn but if you are short of time, I suggest you start using LinkedIn for your personal profile and then when you grow your business profiles on the other networks, you can utilize LinkedIn for your business as well.

#2 – Start Small

When you are ready to get started do not rush into following hundreds of people, posting many times per day and checking your statistics every minute. Start small and have in mind that:
  • Social Networks do not like too much activity on newly created accounts (it’s not normal and kind of spammy)
  • All networks have a maximum number of actions (following and unfollowing) you can do per day so the best way is to stay below their radar.
  • At the beginning and when you don’t have a good number of followers, nobody will see your posts so don’t spend your time for no reason.

#3 – It’s a numbers game

While there are millions of people in social media channels, in order to start getting traffic, making sales or have any influence at all, you need to have a LOT of followers in your networks. And by a LOT, I mean a LOT and let me explain why.

When you publish a new post on your business page on Facebook that post will be seen by a small percentage of your followers (FB tells you how many people saw your posts so have a closer look to understand what I mean).

Let’s say that you have 400 fans on your page, when you post something only 30-40 people will see it and this is because FB does not show the posts to all your fans.

The other networks may show your posts to all your followers but if a person is following a lot of other people/pages, there are limited chances that they will see and interact with your posts.

So, the more followers you have, the greater are your chances of start getting anything out of social media. From my experience and without this being a definite guide, you need at least 10,000 on FB, 1000 on G+, 1000 on Twitter and 2000 on Pinterest before seeing any visitors to your website or shop. Of course as I said this is not a rule but an empirical figure.

#4 –Follow people that matter

Unless you are a known brand, in order to grow your followers you need to follow other people and some of them will follow you back. When choosing who to follow be selective by applying these simple techniques:
  • Follow people that have a relation with your business either geographically (i.e. they live in the same area) or by interest (they are interested directly or indirectly in the products or services you are selling).
  • Follow people who have an active profile; there is no reason to follow someone on twitter if they haven’t posted anything for two months.
  • Follow people that have a balance between the people they follow and people following them – you don’t want to follow people that will not follow you back and also you don’t want to follow accounts that only have following and no followers
  • Follow people that have something interesting to say – before following someone have a look at what they share and decide if this is something your customers would like to see in your profile.
  • Find and follow the influencers in your niche – every business area and niche has influencers and although they will not follow you back, it’s always a good practice to connect with them and follow what they have to say about the industry.

#5 – It’s time consuming – make sure you have the time

Social media marketing is relatively easy to do but it is a very time consuming task. Before starting make sure that you have the time to do this consistently and on a daily basis. I would say that a couple of hours per day is enough to get you started.

If this sounds a lot then you can either consider to outsource social media to professionals or start with fewer networks (for example Facebook only) and then when you find time jump in to the rest.

Have in mind though that if you don’t spend the necessary time working your business pages, you will be disappointed by the results and start believing that social media does not work for business (an assumption that is totally wrong).

#6 – Make your posts interesting

As I mentioned before, search engines and social media networks can only understand one thing, and this is content. This means that besides working on getting new followers, you also need content.

If you already have a content marketing strategy then your work on social media will be easier but if you don’t, then you need to come up with a plan along these lines:
  • Post about your products and services but don’t overdo it – Your business page is about your business but if you keep posting about how nice your products are, you will keep people away.
  • Instead you should make your posts interesting by providing tips, advice, offers and anything else that can make someone share or comment in your posts.
  • Don’t forget that in order to get any likes, +1s or comments you need to have a LOT of followers. Don’t expect this to happen in the first few months or when your numbers are still low.
Have a look at one of social media pages we manage for one of our clients. Look at the variety of postings, frequency, tone, format etc.

#7 – Timing does matter

The time and date you post something in social media matters a lot. As mentioned above, people have a lot of posts in their timelines and if they don’t see it ‘live’ then most probably they will never see it.

For example, if you post something on twitter and your followers are sleeping at that time, by the time they will wake up they will have hundreds of messages in their timeline and so there is no chance of seeing your post.

To solve this problem, you can use tools like bufferapp to schedule your postings so that you reach your target audience at a time where you have more followers online. There are also other tools and statistics about the best time to post on the different social networks but as a rule of thumb, post either in the morning (08:00 – 9:00) or afternoon (17:00 – 19:00). These are the times that work best for many niches.

#8 – Follow up comments and mentions about your business

Social media is about communication and this means that you need to monitor your social media pages for comments about your business and definitely respond to both good and bad comments. You need to show your audience that you are reading what they have to say and care about their opinion.

Besides monitoring your business pages, you should also monitor the mentions about your brand name in across all social networks and take action where appropriate. A nice tool to do that is mention (it’s not free).

#9 – Measure the results and ROI

If you don’t measure the effectiveness of social media then you won’t know if it worth’s your time or not. What to measure?
  • Number of visits from social media to your website
  • Number of conversions (sales, newsletter signups, etc)
  • Monthly increase of followers
  • Monthly increase of interactions
How to measure?

Using Google Analytics reports and statistics provided for business pages by the various social networks.

Note: If you still at the beginning then most probably those numbers will be low or close to zero but don’t get disappointed, once you grow your followers you will notice that these numbers will start to increase as well.

#10 – If everything fails, leave it to the pros

Social media works for businesses and this is a fact. It is also true that every problem has a solution so if you don’t have the time or knowledge to make social media work for your business then leave it to the pros; we have different social media packages for each budget and need and we guarantee minimum results.

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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The 2014 Marketing World Cup [Infographic]

The competition is fierce for this summer’s FIFA World Cup, and it’s not just on the football field. On social media, brands, sponsors, athletes and countries are all vying for gold in social buzz.

Our new infographic, created with the help of Crimson Hexagon, examines the marketing opportunity for this epic event. Get to know all the hot topics and trends, and learn how to achieve social stardom in a densely packed space. Take a look at how this global event is already heating up!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

10 Secrets to Bootstrapping Your Blog into a Business

Shark bloggers are experts in their field of choice. However, they rarely call themselves experts or gurus. Skilled blogging pros, such as James Altucher, establish their authority on social networks and search engines by creating immensely authentic and valuable content, establishing strong connections with their readers.

1 - James Altucher 2

James hardly resembles a shark, but make no mistake. Think more in terms of a “pool shark” versus a voracious eating machine. Shark marketers are at the top of the promotional food chain but not because they use force or deception.

2 - shark definition

In today’s competitive times, bloggers need to bootstrap intelligently to stand out from the scores of new blogs and brands with million dollars content-marketing budgets. Your objective as a bootstrap blogger should not be praying all day for one kill. Your aim should be the top of the food chain.

3 - predotorty shark

Predatory Marketing Tactics Dont Work Anymore

Shark marketers rarely if ever address themselves as “experts.” This crowd is too busy helping and connecting to pat themselves on the back. Think of yourself as a center of distribution. As you disseminate more helpful content to a growing number of people an inflow of leads, opportunities and money flows in to you.

Contrary to popular belief, the idea of bootstrapping is not based on using free marketing to spread the word about your brilliant idea. According to, bootstrapping means “relying entirely on one’s own effort and resources”.

Play to your strengths by leveraging your time and talent. Growing your blog usually requires a minimum injection of capital to build momentum, combined with persistent, intelligent labor. For example, hiring a designer may be a good idea – online readers tend to judge the book by its over before they commit any attention to what you are saying.

5 - time money talent ven

Unlike the monstrous, ferocious predators which roam the infinite online seas, whale sharks don’t need to use predatory tactics to promote their businesses. They use great content marketing to attract the visitors to their blogs like a magnet.

Today’s intelligent buyer will be repulsed by hard-charging, competitive marketing tactics.  Operate on a creative plane of thought to attract people like a magnet. Shift from a competitive to a creative mindset and you will win big on the Internet.
Stop stalking. Start connecting. Turn your marketing into a conversation.

6 - magnet

Market with a Magnet

Web users are tuning out marketing noise. Click-through rates are dropping like a brick. Visualize marketing with a magnet instead of the old, worn out sledgehammer advertising approach. 

7 - sledgehammer vs magnet

Use pull marketing to employ the principle of attraction versus the old school push marketing tactics that turn off today’s sophisticated consumer. Create value to become valuable.

8 - Own your ZMOt

Own Your Zero Moment of Truth

80% of consumers search for a product or service before purchasing it. Ranking your blog on Google for quality keywords can turn your blogger status to a rockstar overnight.

Place a heavy emphasis on nailing down one of the top positions on Google for your desired keywords or key phrases. Keep in mind that only 15% of search results are the old-school ’blue links.’ Estimated 85% of Google search results are social media, videos, images, maps, and the knowledge graph. Fish where the fish are.

Increase your click-through rates by designing attention-grabbing page titles and headlines. Include thought-provoking or funny images in your blog posts to stand out and boost engagement. 

Owning your zero moment of truth inspires you to increase organic search engine click throughs by improving your ad creative writing skills. It’s a win-win.

9 - personal branding

Personal Branding Is Branding

Beginner bloggers often ask me: How do you draw a line between your business name and your personal brand?

You don’t. It’s one and the same.

Steve Jobs built Apple, not the other way around. You have built your own company, You Inc. However, being a blogger is much different from being a CEO. The first is a hobby, the latter is a job.

Consider using SlideShare to tell your brand’s story, including the problems you are solving and why people should care about your brand. Readers like eye candy. Creating a visually appealing tale forms an emotional bond with your target audience.

10-media company

Every Business is a Media Company

Blogs serve as one-stop shopping for any website visitors. Post articles, reviews, podcasts and videos on your blog to brand your business. Companies that blog get 55% more website visitors and B2C companies that blog get 88% more leads per month, according to Hubspot. 
Yet many businesses fail to achieve desired results blogging. They fail and give up on content marketing because they don’t operate like a media company.

11 - optimize blog content

Frequency is key to success. Blogging regularly encourages your audience to know, like and trust you. Build your blog on WordPress for increased functionality. 

Use plugins to capture subscribers and improve your presentation. Position sharing button beside each blog post to leverage your presence. Sharing buttons like the Floating ShareBar can increase sharing by up to 30%. Details matter.

Open your blog to guest posting and build strong business relationships. Join blogging communities, such as Triberr, to build solid relationships with fellow niche bloggers.

12 - startegy

Win Your Battles Before the First Shots Are Fired

Understand the difference between content marketing and content strategy. Content marketing is the creation and promoting of content to attract a targeted audience. Content strategy is the creation of scalable and repeatable content for a built-in audience. Content marketing is like baking a cake while content strategy is similar to owning a bakery. 

13 - cake bakery

Developing a content strategy requires intensive planning. Create content based on researched user needs, deliver this content through various mediums such as video and podcasts and promote along channels which resonate with your target audience.

14 - healthy heartbeat

You Need a Healthy Heartbeat

A healthy, vibrant blog looks similar to a healthy heartbeat. Imagine the steady, predictable ticks on an EKG meter measuring your heartbeat. Engaging through social media channels like twitter and Facebook creates tiny ticks. Sharing Infographics, videos and blog posts creates a larger spike which creates a big impact with a small hit. PR and branded content creates massive spikes. The large hits which make big impacts target news outlets and other large audiences through macro content campaigns.

15 - Heartbeat

Build your inbound marketing campaign on being disciplined. Work your system on a daily basis. Set up a content calendar. Starting at a calendar can inspire you to create content even if you don’t feel like working. Use this motivational strategy to hold yourself accountable.

16 - lead genertion

Invest in Lead Generation at the Outset

Create in-depth, thorough content you could sell for a handsome profit and give it away for free. This approach might seem counterintuitive to bloggers looking to monetize every click, but karma ensures that the value you offer will return to you in some way, shape or form. Use your free give away as link bait. 

Build your email list through this exchange of value. In return for your helpful, free give away subscribers will gladly offer their name and email address. Use tools like “Pay with a Tweet” to increase social sharing. Users can access your free giveaway by tweeting your giveaway link. This expands your presence and gives visitors a quick and easy way to access your free product.

17 - be interesting

To Be Interesting, Be Interested

Successful shark bloggers follow the teachings of famous behaviorists, such as Dale Carnegie. They generate interest by expressing interest. 

Expressing genuine, heartfelt interest in other bloggers will result in similar reaction towards you. Focus on helping others who need help. Engage in genuine conversations, add value wherever you show up and answer questions to gain the trust of your target audience.

Use social media tools like Topsy to find your audience. Run searches to connect with interested parties through twitter, blog commenting, and everything in between.

18 - marathon

It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint

Take a big picture approach to blogging. Each seemingly tiny step taken leads to solid if not spectacular results in the long term. If only you don’t give up to see it.
Work your way through temporary frustrations by visualizing yourself achieving great things. Professional athletes employ this technique. Clearing your inner world can motivate you to succeed. 

Shark bloggers are a driven, dynamic, and focused bunch. However, they combine high-octane enthusiasm with a significant dose of planning, tools and preparation to stay focused and play a long-term game. 

It might not be easy to be positive every day when you grow a blog from its infancy but doing so can provide you with immense returns in the long run.

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