KEVIN CARLOW

Paid Media Consultant for Growth-Focused Business

9 Simple Ways to Unlock More Time in Your Day

If you’ve ever wished there were more than 24 hours in a day, this article is for you.

We can’t change how long one day is, but we are in control of how we use those 24 hours. By implementing small, manageable tweaks to our day, we can unlock hidden minutes and squeeze the most out of every day we have.

Warren Buffet, one of the most successful businessmen of all time, has said, “I can buy anything I want, basically. But I can’t buy time.

Well Mr. Buffet, I agree we cannot “buy time,” but if we focus on the daily improvements below, we can become more productive, creative, and achieve more each day, thereby giving us more time in a sense.

  1. Start your day with your body.
  2. Begin with your own agenda.
  3. Make a list. Then do the list.
  4. Meditate.
  5. Delegate.
  6. Automate the things you repeatedly do.
  7. Plan your day 15 minutes at a time.
  8. Only schedule time in your calendar if, at the end of that time, you will have produced or created something.
  9. Change your habits with your phone.
  10. Conclusion

1. Start your day with your body.

Activating your body will make your mind more productive. Go for a walk. Stretch. Do ten pushups. Roll out of bed and do a one-minute plank. Anything! Taking even one minute at the very beginning of your day to wake up your entire body will energize your mind and kick-start the day’s activity, thereby creating extra minutes you otherwise would have been snoozing, scrolling through your phone, or staring at the wall (until you finish cup of coffee #1).

2. Begin with your own agenda.

Don’t unlock your phone. Don’t touch your phone. Don’t even look at your phone. Start by focusing on the question, “What are the things I want to get done today?” Make a quick mental list or write them down. Then ask yourself, “Which of these three things can I do right now?” Do those three things! Feeling like you won’t have time to get three done? Do two, or even just one.

Completing at least one self-directed task at the beginning of the day has many benefits. You allow yourself to be proactive, doing what you want to do, not reacting to someone else’s email, article, or social post. It also gives you momentum; you’ve gotten one thing done, it feels great, so maybe you do one more. It takes an immense amount of energy to get a stopped train moving, but once it’s rolling down the track at a good clip, just try and stop it!

3. Make a list. Then, do the list.

It’s not enough to just write things down though. Develop a system for prioritizing your list. Then do the thing at the very top of the list. Barbara Corcoran, a businesswoman best known for her personality as a “Shark” on ABC’s Shark Tank, has a great method for lists:

  • Step 1 – Write down everything you want to get done. Big, small, everything.
  • Step 2 – Next to each item, give it a grade: A, B, or C.
    • A’s are the things that will move your business forward, things that must get done, and they absolutely must get done today.
    • B’s are things that will help you be more productive, help your business get ahead, but they aren’t the most pressing. And that leaves the C’s.
    • C’s are the things that are longer term projects, or if you stop and think about them, they would be nice to do, but won’t directly move your business forward or have meaningful impact.
  • Step 3 – Do the A’s. Ignore everything else until the A’s are done.
  • Pro Tip – If you have too many A’s and aren’t sure which one to start with, do the exercise again looking at just the A’s, then rank those as A-B-C to see which of your top priorities are at the tippy-top.

Here’s a great write-up from Fast Company explaining how other successful people manage their to-do lists.

4. Meditate.

Pick the time that fits best into your day. But do it. Taking 20, 10, even 5 minutes to shut everything down, close your eyes, get into your breath, and achieve a soft focus of the mind will do wonders for your productivity. You might think, “That will be five minutes I’ll be wasting not being productive.” True, in a sense, but which of these is really more productive? An hour of distracted, scattered work, or 55 minutes of razor-focused deep work?

Try the Headspace app for a beginner’s (or skeptic’s) guide. Download it and try it right now. The Basic lessons are free. You can do as short as a 3-minute session with it. One of the best metaphors about meditation made in the Headspace app is equating the mind to the sky. Imagine stepping outside on a bright, sunny, cloudless day. Imagine taking a deep breath as you step outside. Feels good right? Like, I-can-conquer-the-world good. That clear blue sky is a healthy mind, free of distraction, stress, and worry. That’s how our minds are when we first wake up in the morning. As the day progresses, we check our email (stress), we get pinged with notifications (distraction), and we just mucked up that presentation we didn’t prepare well for and are now wondering what the consequences will be (worry). These are the clouds. Dark, rain-filled, ominous clouds. These clouds make it hard for our mind to do the things it really wants to do. Meditation allows the mind to discard the clouds and get back to the clear blue sky.

5. Delegate.

Want a guaranteed 100% irrefutable way to get more time back in your day? See that thing you’re about to do? Don’t do it!

Can the thing you’re doing right now be delegated? Can you find the courage to let go and let someone else take over? Is there a way to break up your project to portion out pieces of it to your others so you can focus on the bits you will be best at or enjoy the most? Use the people and resources around you. If you play to others’ strengths and frame it up in a positive way (“I could really use your help with this. You’re such a natural when it comes to _____.”), you may be surprised just how easy and rewarding it can be to get others involved.

Here are 7 strategies for delegating more effectively.

6. Automate the things you repeatedly do.

Take note over the next week of things you do every day or several days per week. Is there a way to automate this action? Is there a piece of software, an app, or a paid service that would allow this activity to happen automatically? If so, it’s probably worth investing the resources (time, money) to make that happen. Maybe it’s something as simple as setting up an Outlook Rule. If you are constantly dragging emails into folders in Outlook, all the seconds of those actions adds up> Let’s say it takes 3 seconds to pick an email, find the folder it needs to go into, and drag it. You do this with 30 emails/day, that’s 90 seconds/day. 90 seconds/day x 5 days/week = 450 seconds/week. 450 seconds/week x 52 weeks = 22,500 seconds or 375 minutes or 6 hours and 15 minutes per year wasted dragging emails to folders. Imagine you work there for 10 years. Now you’ve wasted 62.5 hours or over 2 and a half days of your life dragging emails to folders. Would it be worth investing 15 minutes right now to set up Outlook Rules to give you 2.5 extra days in your life? What other daily or weekly actions are you taking that could be automated?

7. Plan your day 15 minutes at a time.

Plan out your entire day in 15-minute increments. You don’t have to do something different every 15 minutes, just look at your entire day and “schedule” what you are going to do in every 15-minute block. Carve out large blocks for deep work.

The next step of this experiment is refinement. Take note of any moments when you deviate from your schedule. Why did you deviate? Was the deviation a necessity or a distraction? If it was a distraction, do better next time to tune them out and say “no.” If it was a necessity, make the adjustment in the calendar for tomorrow or next week to make room for that thing.

After a period of refining your calendar this way, you will have designed a schedule with minimal wasted time that you can repeat every week.

8. Only schedule time in your calendar if, at the end of that time, you will have produced or created something.

If you say, “I’m going to make sales calls with these next 30 minutes,” do that. Shut off your email, talk to no one else, and dial. But, that activity is just half the battle. Your time will much better spent if you go into that 30 minutes with an intention or a production goal, such as, “I’m going to schedule two appointments in these 30 minutes” or “I’m going to call the 10 pending deals I have with the goal of getting one of them closed on the phone, win or lose.”

You may be thinking, “I have corporate meetings I have to attend, I don’t get to choose how I spend every minute of my day.” Fair, but you can still enter that meeting with an intention to produce or create something, or encourage your team to think of the time spent together that way. What are the desired outcomes of your meeting? Define them and make sure you walk away with those outcomes accomplished (or know why you didn’t). If you’re having a hard time coming up with desired outcomes of the meeting, you don’t need to meet.

Adopting a production mindset or a creativity mindset with each 15-minute chunk of your day gives your mind a framework to be as productive as possible with each passing minute.

9. Change your habits with your phone.

Your phone is likely your biggest minute-stealer of your day. Any time you react to your phone, you’re being taken away from the moment, from whatever you were just doing. It seem innocent. It may seem urgent; “My friend and I are planning a dinner tonight and she just texted me asking if 7pm will work, so I’m being a better friend by texting her back right away so she can better plan her evening.” Truth is, if she’s a real friend, she won’t mind hearing back from you in 5, 10, 15 minutes… however long it takes you to finish what you were just working on. Even a glance at your freshly lit-up screen will slow down your ability to complete the task at-hand. Notifications are the biggest culprit. Notifications have been widely studied and repeatedly found to be detrimental to accomplishing tasks, especially ones that are cognitively demanding. This study, The Attentional Cost of Receiving a Cell Phone Notification, from Florida State University found that “cellular notifications, even when one does not view or respond to messages or answer calls, can significantly damage performance on an attention-demanding task.” The study explains how, even though notifications are short, especially when not responded to, they prompt “task-irrelevant thoughts” or “mind wandering,” which slows down performance and causes more errors. OK, so how do you prevent your phone from stealing your minutes?

  • Embrace Digital Minimalism.
  • Use the Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode feature. About to sit down and get some real work done? Take 5 seconds to switch into Do Not Disturb settings on your phone, which will mute ALL notifications, calls, texts, and anything that could distract you. Bonus challenge: you’ll probably be feeling great having finished your task quickly without any distractions, so see how long you can keep your phone in that mode once you’ve successfully finished your task.
  • Turn off Notifications on your phone, at least on your Lock Screen.
  • Move any apps that receive Notifications off your Home Screen. Ever unlock your phone with a specific purpose in mind, but as soon as you get to your Home Screen you’re drawn to open an app with 5 Notifications and then completely forget why you picked up your phone in the first place? Stop that. By moving any notification-driven apps off the Home Screen, you will be more intentional with your minutes staring at your pocket-sized screen.

Conclusion

We can’t change how long it takes Earth to rotate on its axis, but we do have control over our own time and how we spend it.

Ideas are the easy part, execution is the challenge. Try implementing just one of these productivity hacks into your life each day for a week. Let me know how it goes for you.

————-

What other ways do you unlock more time in your day? I’ve love to hear from in the comments!

7 Powerful Reasons to Start Doing Video Advertising

Video is no longer an option. If your business is not using video advertising, here is proof you need to start.

Video advertising comes in all shapes and sizes: 30-minute infomercials, 5-second YouTube ads, the good-old-fashioned 30-second TV spot, 1-3 minute social videos, the list goes on. How do you decide where to start? The point is, it doesn’t matter (as much) which videos you’re creating, but that you have something going. There are more ways to access video content and more screens to watch the content on than ever before. People who think still think about video in terms of “TV versus Digital” need to update their mindset.

The marketers of yesterday would ask themselves, “Should we do TV advertising?” or “We already run some search ads on Google and some Facebook Ads. Does it make sense to also do YouTube or Facebook Video ads?”

Today’s savvy marketers are asking themselves, “What is our video strategy? How do we define the customer segments we are trying to reach? What story elements do we want to communicate about our brand/product/service? What is our desired business outcome of these (and any of our) ads?”

Big brands understand this and have been in this game for a long time (since July 1, 1941 to be precise), but many small and midsize businesses (SMBs) still don’t have a comprehensive video strategy.

The main challenges I hear from SMBs about starting or improving their video ad strategy are they:

  1. Don’t understand the impact video ads will have to their bottom line
  2. Don’t know how to create compelling video creative that will generate desired business outcomes
  3. Perceive the costs to create videos and pay for the media to run them will outweigh the benefits
  4. Think video advertising is best suited for companies bigger than their own

Well my dear SMB friends, there is a mountain of supporting evidence for why you should be starting or refining your video ad strategy right now.

Powerful Reason # 1 – Consumers are not just watching video, they are devouring it. 

Consumers are watching more video than ever before. Just think about your own life. Have you seen some sort of video in the last 24 hours? Did you watch the news on TV? Stream an episode of your favorite show? Open up any social media app on your phone and see a video in your feed?

If your own habits aren’t convincing enough, consider these statistics:

82% of all internet traffic will be video by 2022, up from 75% in 2017, according to Cisco.

Pause. We’re talking about ALL internet traffic here. Every email typed and read, every news article published, every tweet, every webinar, every Instagram pic, every online purchase, every Venmo transfer, every blog post, every Google Image Search… everything! And 82% of that will be video soon?! Stop for a moment and look at your right hand. If all the traffic on the entire internet were your hand, then the only part that’s not video is your thumb. Whoa. (And if you’re one of these people thinking, “well hey, opposable thumbs are pretty great, you’re right, but that’s not the point and you know it.)

Of all time adults spend with digital media (computer, phone, email, everything digital), 23% of that time is watching video, up from 19% in 2015 (eMarketer).

This adds up to over 86 minutes a day spent just on digital video.

time spent per day with video

Adults 25-54 report spending nearly 6 hours per day watching video (TVB Media Comparison Study 2018)

The primary demographic most businesses market to, Adults 25-54, watch a ton of video. It’s important to look at market data and not just think about your own habits, as you as an individual are likely not representative of the marketplace overall.

video time spent a25-54

 

Side note: Video is not just for B2C businesses; studies show buyers of business products are influenced by video during their B2B purchasing journey. Read this comprehensive resource – State of Video in Business – for B2B Video put together by Vidyard.

Powerful Reason #2 – Video evokes an emotional response. In marketing, emotion is power.

Video can make a person feel something unlike any other medium can. Why is that? For one, it activates multiple senses. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” applies. The audio from media like radio or podcasts can be used to communicate a story, explain several feature-benefits, tell a joke, use a distinct voice that aligns with your brand, and even have a catchy jingle or soundtrack playing in the background. But those of us who are visual people (i.e. every non-blind person) miss out on seeing the characters in the story or the product at work. On the flip side, visual media like a print ad, direct mail piece, a digital banner, or a billboard allow us to see your product, your logo, and space for a few words to give your offer (20% off during our President’s Day Sale) or your brand message (I’m Lovin’ It). Both visual and audio media have something to offer, but when was the last time a billboard made you emotional? Start to tear up? When was the last time a radio ad left you feeling energized? Motivated?

Watch this example from one of the masters of the internet, Google, to see the power of video when you combine incredible visuals and captivating sound all wrapped into an elegant and timely story line.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aFdEhEZQjE&w=560&h=315]

I’ve watched this video over a dozen times, and every time it makes me feel something. Hope for humanity. Joy. Pumped up. Whatever you are feeling right now, live in that feeling for a moment. A video did that. You can (and should) be moving your customers in the same way.

Powerful Reason #3 – You can tell a story in a video. Stories are what sparks a connection in us.

Ever heard the phrase “a picture is worth 1,000 words?” If that’s true, then how many words are a video worth? Answer: at least 1.8 million words, says Dr. James McQuivey from a Forrester study.  Here’s a cool graphic from idearocket explaining McQuivey’s logic.

video worth

A 60-second video is worth approximately 1.8 million words

No matter how you quantify it, the point is you can communicate a lot of information with a video. But it’s not just the quantity of information that matters, it’s also the ability to tell a story.

Stories matter. They have been told since before written language as a way to pass information down through the generations. As humans, we are drawn to stories because we see ourselves reflected in them, and they broaden our perspective.

Savvy marketers tap into this deep-rooted psychological craving for stories influence customers at their core.

Here’s a big budget example from Comcast. The spot is called “Emily’s Oz.” In it, Emily,  a a little blind girl, tells us her story of what she sees when she watches The Wizard of Oz.™

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZU7NU_fsaSU&w=560&h=315]

That video is a story about a story – talk about smart storytelling in an ad!

Don’t have as big of a production budget as Comcast, but still want to tell a story through video? It’s more than possible!

Here’s a commercial produced for a local financial planning and investment management firm Nepsis. Viewers see the story of a typical person with some money invested who does not have perfect clarity over all the charts, graphs, and figures in the monthly statement from their current financial planner – Vague Financial Advisors.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qeNBW1LOWs&w=560&h=315]

Notice how the beginning of the video starts with a story, but the end brings it home with a call to action for the viewer. That’s how to execute storytelling with video that will generate an impact for a local business.

Powerful Reason #4 – One Video Can Be Distributed Across Many Platforms. On Many It Can Be Shared. 

Yes, it takes some effort to make a high quality video ad. But once you’ve made one, that one video asset can be used across many platforms. There are so many outlets available for you to share your video and get it in front of a target audience; some are free, some are paid.

  • Your website
  • Your social channels (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, SnapChat…)
  • Broadcast TV
  • Connected TV
  • Paid Social
  • YouTube
  • In an Email Campaign
  • Vimeo
  • In a blog post
  • Pre-roll video on an ad network like Audience Marketplace or Google AdSense.
  • On a product landing page.
  • Directly on any website with video content and pre-roll ad units. For example, let’s say the profile of your best customers aligns with the audience of a top-100 website like ESPN, or with a local newspaper or TV station. Go directly to that business and purchase pre-roll video inventory.

Now you might be thinking, “Sure my video ad can be placed in many places, but so can my print ad, radio spot, or billboard. I can make one print ad and run it in the big city newspaper, the local newspaper, and six different magazines. I can cut one radio spot and run it on five stations plus Spotify. All I need is one billboard and that can be plastered all over town.”

This is all true. But can you share a billboard with a friend? Can you post a radio ad to everyone connected to you on a social network? Sure, you could rip out a newspaper ad from the paper and hand it to your bestie, or really get crazy with extending the reach of your share by taping the newspaper ad to your workplace refrigerator. This is all assuming you would feel want to share any of these in the first place.

To contrast, let’s take a look at this Facebook Video ad from Four Sigmatic, which I found by opening Facebook just now and scrolling down my feed for roughly four seconds.

Here’s the part to note.

facebook ad four sigmatic

This fairly straightforward video ad for coffee has been shared 1,600 times. It’s one thing for a business to put out a piece of really useful/helpful/entertaining content for its audience and earn some shares, but an ad? You can pay to run an ad and reach a target audience, and then those people will market your product to their friends? For free? Yes, it turns out people are willing to share an video ad with their friends if it’s great creative, includes a compelling offer, or they know someone who might be interested in the product. So what does having a shareable ad mean for your business?

The average number of Friends a Facebook user has is 338 (Pew Research).

1,600 Shares x 338 Friends per User = 540,800 Extra Customers Potentially Reached

And this is just one social network. Multiply this videos reach out across three other social platforms where users can share a video ad (YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn)… now the advertiser is reaching millions of potential customers and paying to reach absolutely zero of them.

Powerful Reason #5 – Video is Versatile.

Video is a versatile medium where you can shape your brand perception, generate leads, get people to visit a website, showcase a client testimonial, drive inbound phone calls, show your product being used, make customers laugh (or tear up)…

Better yet, you can do all of the above in the same ad!

Here’s an example from a local business that does a great job of connecting with the customer in a real way, while also mentioning the company name multiple times, and they even have their phone number in the video title!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcBKbpfgjVE&w=560&h=315]

Powerful Reason #6 – Video Improves Virtually Every Advertising Metric (KPI)

You already do lots of marketing activity, like: managing your website, updating your company blog, sending out email campaigns, creating social posts, orchestrating all your advertising, and 16 (+/- 10) other projects. Want a surefire way to boost the performance of all of these activities? Video is your answer!

Social Video

  • Videos are shared 1,200% more than Links and Text combined (ClumCreative)
  • Facebook video posts get 135% more organic reach than an image post. (SocialBakers)
  • Square-shaped social videos can achieve 45% more engagement than landscape videos (HubSpot)

Search Engines

  • Video drives a 157% increase in Organic Traffic from SERPs (ClumCreative)
  • With roughly 25% of Google search results being a video, you can occupy extra spaces on the SERP if you put your video on YouTube and optimize it. (ClumCreative)

 Email

  • Video leads to a 200-300% increase in click-through rate (HubSpot)
  • Emails that include the word “video” in the subject line boost their Open Rates by 19% and reduce Unsubscribes by 26% (HubSpot)

Landing Pages

  • Need to convert website visitors into leads or customers? Adding a video to your landing page can up its conversion rate by 56%. (Neil Patel)

 B2B

  • 86% of Business-related video views happen on a desktop (Vidyard, 2018)
  • Tuesday Mornings are the most popular time for B2B video views, from 10AM – 1PM EST (Vidyard, 2018)

Powerful Reason #7 – Video Ads Have Been Proven to Deliver Tangible Business Results.

If your business isn’t very active with any form of video advertising, then you might be skeptical about it’s ability to impact your bottom line. Management is always asking Marketing, “This [insert any marketing idea: a social campaign, an event, a new series of video ads] sounds like a great idea, but what is the direct benefit we’ll get from this?” And Marketing had better have a good answer, or the project idea never leaves the conference room.

Fortunately, with video, there is a good answer. “It’s been proven to work.” Now, every situation may have a different definition of “work,” but most businesses I consult are looking for more: website traffic, new leads, and sales.

Tuft and Needle has grown to $100M in annual revenue, and while they started out spending only $50-100 a day on marketing, they now spend half of their Google advertising on YouTube. “It gets results,” the founders said. (YouTube)

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwn0uLtcKVk&w=560&h=315]

On a smaller scale, family-owned local company Sedgwick Heating & Air was trying to figure out how to generate more leads during a slow demand time for their industry. They created a video ad and ran it on television in a high-frequency pattern. Here is the owner speaking about the results.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIGoJ6_8F-A?start=9&w=560&h=315]

Conclusion

The time is now for businesses of all sizes and industries to embrace video. Watching video is where we spend our time. Videos are the most compelling way to tell a story, appealing to multiple senses and evoking an emotional response from the viewer. They improve every measure of marketing performance and have proven to increase sales for companies big and small across industries.

If you haven’t started with video ads, start! If you have, do more!

————–

I’d really like to know your feedback on this article. Leave a comment!

If your business isn’t doing any video advertising right now, what is the main reason it’s not? Don’t see the benefit? Sounds like a lot of work with no payoff? Don’t know how to start? Something else?

In Our Tune-Out World, How to Get Your Audience to Tune-In

Over lunch one of my colleagues commented on my newly formed habit of bringing salads every day. “The healthy bug seems to have gotten you,” she noted. “What gives?”

I realized there was not one event, but a triangulation of things that lead to my new passion for midday nutrition. The New Year’s Resolution spirit, a recent family trip to Costa Rica, and writing out my 10 goals for 2019 all played a contributing factor. She said, “I wish my kids were ready to hear that message. They are busy and still eat out all the time. I wish they were ready to decide for themselves to eat healthy.”

That concept, of being ready to take in a message, stuck with me.

We live in a tune-out world. There is so. Much. Noise. We see hundreds of ads per day. We only take in about 12. Our brains are being trained to tune out the noise.

“Buy a new 2019 Chevy Silverado” commercial on TV? I already own a car. It’s paid off. And it’s not a truck. TUNE-OUT.

“Always Coca-Cola” billboard as I drive to work? I’m trying to listen to the news right now. And high fructose corn syrup is B.S. TUNE-OUT.

“21-day Yoga Shred for Men” app download on Instagram? I already have 10 workout apps on my phone collecting electronic dust. I don’t need an eleventh one. TUNE. ME. OUT!

There comes a time, however, when we do become ready to receive a message, to internalize it and make it our own. Perhaps we enter a new life stage. Perhaps someone we admire influences us. Suddenly, the noise becomes important. These attention swings have huge marketing implications.

 

 

1.      The need for frequency. Why is the Rule of 7 a thing? Partly because your message needs to rise above the clutter in our tune-out world and get noticed. But also partly because the first 6 times someone sees your message, they might not be ready for it, especially for longer purchasing decisions like buying a vehicle, buying a home, getting an elective medical procedure, or vetting financial planners. Consistency in your marketing is what will keep you top of mind so that when that customer finally is at the stage of life to hear and internalize your message, it’s available for them to digest.

 

tuned in

 

2.      Getting your audience from Tune-Out to Tune-In. Sticking with the car buying example… at any given time, 4% of people are actively looking to buy a vehicle. They are reading consumer reviews, browsing online inventory, and eventually visiting 1-2 dealerships. Automotive messaging will resonate with these 4%, as they are in the market and their minds are open to this information. What about the other 96%? Is it pointless to market to them? What can auto companies and dealerships do to get these 96% into the market? Can this be influenced? I believe it can, through one thing: Inspiration. I’ll be expanding on inspiration in a future writing.

 

 

3.      Getting a tuned-in consumer to act. A consumer is (finally) ready for your message. You’re targeting them and they’re seeing it. Now what? A strong call-to-action is a critical piece of any marketing piece with the goal of generating a lead or a sale, but can you do better than, “Buy Now” or “Learn More” or “Schedule a Free Consultation Today?” You can. Consider the consumer’s journey to becoming ready to tune in to your message and shape your call-to-action messaging to them. If you sell minivans, your customers have young kids. What do parents of young kids struggle with? Lack of sleep, extra expenses, evaporating free time, stress of keeping their children safe. Telling a story in your messaging using these frames will make your message to the tuned-in parents get them from their mobile to the dealership.

 

What messages have you recently been ready to take in? What can your business do to inspire great prospects to tune into your message? When they do tune in, what are your best practices to get them to act?

What Millennials Want

 

The term ‘millennial’ gets used so often, it sounds like a cliche, but there’s an important reason it’s so popular; the Millennial demographic is the most desirable audience for marketers. They have lots of buying power (estimates around $200 billion in 2017), yet they are young enough to form brand loyalty to last decades.

A recent study of 18- to 35-year-old’s showed millennials, when approached the right way, are open to connecting with companies. What are they drawn to?

  1. Bite-sized Content
    • Millennials and house flies have one thing in common – attention span. Be concise when crafting your message. After that, shorten it.
  2. Product-focused Information
    • Avoid the fluff: ‘family owned,’ ‘in business since 1935,’ ‘great customer service.’ Millennials don’t care. Highlight your product features and their benefits.
  3. Receiving a Message in a Digestible and Fluid Manner
    • Don’t interrupt their day. Seamlessly connect and add value at the right moment.
The study also shows millennials respond strongly to TV ads and visit at least four digital platforms every day.Read More

Nearly Half of Your Customers Leave Your Website After Three Seconds

Everyone knows mobile is not only the future, it’s right here and now, as over half of all website traffic on the internet is from a mobile device. Despite this, mobile is still in its infancy in some ways, as mobile sites lag behind desktop sites in crucial metrics such as average time on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate.

For retailers, this can be especially costly since 30% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones. The average US retail mobile site loaded in 6.9 seconds in July 2016, but according to the most recent data, 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. And 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance are less likely to purchase from the same site again.

In other words, this:
mobile waiting

Leads to this:

mobile anger.jpg

Simplicity is key on mobile. You have lots of great things to say and to show your customers, but if they’re on a mobile device, they don’t care. They want a frictionless experience with as few clicks and clunks to get from your home page to their purchase as possible.

To learn more about mobile from Google, click here.

Facebook Now Ranks Friends Higher Than Businesses

On June 29, 2016 the USA Today reported “Facebook is tweaking its algorithm to show you more of your friends’ posts rather than posts from publishers.” Link: usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/06/29/facebook-limit-posts-pages-news-feed/86512200

First, let’s take a moment to review Facebook’s current algorithm, which looks something like this:

facebook-news-feed-edgerank-algorithm

What this new update suggests is that the “C” part of this equation – the Creator – is now going to receive more positive weight if the Creator is your friend or family member, and more negative weight if the Creator is a business, celebrity, or other non-friend Page.

This has big implications for any business paying to Boost its posts or running a Facebook Ads campaign. The update means a business will have to be more creative, more interesting, more engaging, and participate in more social conversations in order to get noticed. Oh yeah, and it will cost more.

Just how much more is yet to be determined. Facebook Ads have been one of the most affordable and effective options for targeted digital advertising in the last three years. Since we all share so much of our lives with Facebook (age, gender, location, interests, marital status, life events, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), the ability for a business to laser-focus on a specific audience on Facebook’s platform is truly unique. On a cost-per-click basis, Facebook Ads have been a fraction of the cost of a Google Search ad (we’re talking pennies per click vs. dollars per click).

The choice by Facebook to rank your friends’ posts higher than a publisher’s post in your News Feed is an attempt to keep its 1.65 billion users engaged with the content they prefer and to further leverage its advertising platform by forcing advertisers to be more compelling with their messages and more aggressive with their monthly budgets.

Want to read more about the latest on Facebook for business?

Google Goes from Gold to Green

In September of 2013, Google AdWords made a leap toward transparency by including a yellow “Ad” indicator in the search engine results that were paid ads.

Since that time, we have all grown accustomed to this new look on Google as we scroll down past the ads (most times) in our latest search for schools, stools, and shoes.

In April of 2016, Google began testing a modification to this look by changing the Ad indicator to green instead of gold.

DESKTOP

MOBILE

 

Yesterday, June 15, 2016, it became an official change. Ads are now green, not gold.

As a Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land, “We regularly test ways to improve the look and feel of our search results page. We’ve been experimenting with a green search ad label and have decided to roll it out based on positive feedback from users and advertisers. Our goal is to make our results page easy to use, and our labeling clear and prominent.”

WHY DOES THIS MATTER?

Some key words in that quote from Google: test, feedback, easy.

If any business knows how to execute an A/B test, it’s Google. And this is a perfect example of what an A/B test is. Seem trivial? Google doesn’t think so. We’ll never get to see that data, but rest assured Google Ads will get more clicks and advertisers will be getting more results with this enhancement. They vigorously capture and analyze feedback from customers to continue to make their product, Search (which is free), easier to use.

This approach goes in contract to the trend in native advertising, which attempts to conceal an ad by passing it off as written or video content. And it’s even in contrast to Bing and Yahoo! search engine results pages which use gray text to tell the user the results which are ads.

It’s fascinating and inspiring to watch the search engine powerhouse continue to innovate and to defy what all others are doing. They believe in their product and know that customers crave transparency. Case studies on Google will be taught in universities for decades to come.

Side note: Green Bay Packers fans will continue to click at normal click-thru rates after the change from gold to green. It’s all the same to them!

green and gold packers.png

Sources:

Platitudes Won’t Change Their Attitude

Platitudes are words or phrases that have become so commonplace they lack any significance, meaning, or power. These are some of the trending platitudes in today’s marketplace.

  • Robust – unless you are discussing the blend of coffee you just purchased from Caribou, no one knows what you mean by your “robust idea to gain market share.”
  • Holistic – are we talking about a well-rounded business plan or about acupuncture and herbal remedies?
  • Granular – this is how to describe the grains of sand on your favorite beach, not to explain how the level of detail in your proposal.
  • Optimize – it can be hard to get away from this term if you work in digital marketing, since it’s part of the phrase “search engine optimization.” Consider some alternatives like enhance, sharpen, and refine to liven up your lingo.
  • Leverage – we get it, you want to sound smart by using big words. Just say “use” and make everyone’s life easier by getting to the point.
    • If you’ve never heard George Carlin’s bit on “shell shock” and how our language is devolving over time, watch this: https://youtu.be/vuEQixrBKCc.

george carlin

“In the first World War, that condition was called… Shell Shock.”

Whether you are working on a new website post, putting together a direct mail piece, or scripting your next advertisement, avoid these overused terms and use plain language to most effectively get your message across.

Sources

Five Easy Ways to Improve Your Company Blog

Most businesses today understand the need for content marketing. Running a company blog is one of the easiest ways to get your message out to the world and boost your SEO. Many companies outsource this function to a third party in order to focus on their core competencies. Whether you have outside help for your company blog, or you have an internal employee managing here, there are five major pitfalls many bloggers fall in to which hinder the impact of the effort.

This article is so on-point and well-cited with perfect examples, I am just going to share it with you verbatim. Credit to Jodi Harris of the Content Marketing Institute.

Full article here: http://bit.ly/1pF55iM

Problem 1: You aren’t publishing on a consistent schedule

Great blog content should be like an eagerly anticipated gift you offer to your readers – they look forward to every new delivery and are happy to visit your site to retrieve your content as soon as it is available. But what happens when they arrive and the gift they were expecting hasn’t shown up? If you can’t keep the content engines churning or fail to deliver on the expectations you set with your blog, those readers will walk away disappointed – and may think twice about returning.

Warning signs: Consistency issues typically result from one of these two underlying problems:

  • Lack of editorial infrastructure: You haven’t set a workable schedule for creating and publishing your content or established the necessary workflow that would govern your process.
  • Lack of resources: You need more writers or more creative ideas; or you are running into productivity problems that are keeping your team from being able to bring your ideas to fruition.

Potential solutions:

  • Develop an editorial calendar: Establishing a schedule of topics you will cover and the timeline for doing so can help you set realistic expectations and keep your content creation in line with your marketing goals. These editorial calendar essentials will help get you started.
  • Brainstorm ideas to fill your content calendar: Brainstorming techniques, like this super-simple sticky-note approach, can help you break out of any creative slumps that might be derailing your content production,
  • Enlist the help of your team members for content creation: Your executives, team members, and even colleagues outside of the marketing department can be motivated to help increase your content coffers. Use these tips to make content creation a benefit – not a burden – for your fellow employees.

 

Problem 2: Your blog content isn’t unique or distinct

For your content to stand out among the competition, it needs to offer distinctive value – providing information your readers can’t get anywhere else, serving a segment of your audience no one else is addressing, or delivering on promises your brand is uniquely qualified to make.

Warning signs: If you aren’t giving your audience a compelling reason to choose your content over everything else they could be spending time with, your blog will never reach its full marketing potential. Here are some sure signs your content is going to fade into the background:

  • You don’t know what makes your brand special: You need to identify the specific ways your business is different than everyone else’s before you can create content that communicates with a signature tone, voice, or style.
  • You are targeting too broad an audience: As CMI founder Joe Pulizzi often says, if your content is meant for everybody, it won’t benefit anybody.

Potential solutions:

  • Craft your editorial mission statement: This sets the tone for all your content creation efforts by defining your unique perspective on your industry and outlining the value proposition your blog content will offer.
  • Find a new niche: If you don’t believe you can be the leading information provider in your chosen content niche, you haven’t drilled down deeply enough to find the right angle – for your blog or any other content your business offers. Struggling to find your footing? Try following Joe’s advice for creating a content tilt.
  • Get creative with your approach: Sometimes the power of a blog isn’t rooted in what you say but rather in how you say it. Look for opportunities to take your blog readers down an unexpected path, approach topics from a unique angle, or explore special interests that your brand and its fans may have in common. Check out these75 examples for a little inspiration on taking content in a novel direction.

Best practice example: Saddleback Leather

saddleback-leather-blog-story

Problem 3: Your blog is all about you – not your audience and their needs

Warning signs: Ever meet someone at a party who goes on and on about himself, without showing any interest in the people he’s talking to? If your brand is “that guy,” your readers will eventually grow tired of not being heard and look for any excuse to leave the conversation – for good.

Potential solutions:

  • Highlight ways readers can get involved in your brand, and recognize them for their efforts: Don’t just say you are interested in your readers – prove that you value their participation and feedback by responding to their comments, creating opportunities for them to contribute their ideas, and rewarding them for helping you spread the word about your business.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of their needs by addressing common pain points and providing relief: Create content with tangible value such as tips, templates, and toolkits; answer your customers’ questions; or give your audience access to other real-world solutions that will enable them to accomplish their tasks more quickly and more effectively, with your brand at the top of their minds.

Best practice example: Clean My Space

clean my space blog

Problem 4: Your content has a short shelf life or limited reach

Content can be the gift that keeps on giving – for your brand, as well as for the consumers who love it. But for this to happen, you need to know how to squeeze as much value as you can from every piece of content you create and get it into the hands of as many interested readers as possible.

Warning signs: There are a few key reasons why your blog content might be withering on the vine instead of spreading its seeds far and wide:

  • Your aren’t producing evergreen content: Trend- or news-focused content is great for illustrating your brand’s insights; but this type of content typically comes with a built-in expiration date, cutting off your potential for long-tail engagement.
  • You aren’t making it clear you want readers to speak on your brand’s behalf: If you aren’t making it as easy as possible for readers to share your content, you are making it harder for your influence to spread.
  • You publish, then move on: Content marketing isn’t for those lazy, “set-it-and-forget-it” types of businesses. It takes hard work before, during, and after you publish to make sure your content works hard to bring you success.

Potential solutions:

  • Use content curation techniques to refresh older posts: In addition to creating content on evergreen topics that have long-lasting relevance, you can also give your aging content a new lease on life through content curation. Try updating popular posts with more contemporary advice, linking to newer sources of information, including outside perspectives on the topic, or adding fresh visuals – like infographics or videos – to liven up the discussion. Then, republish the post, making sure to acknowledge – and link to – the original.
  • Enable the sharing behaviors you seek: Featuring sharing buttons, requests for comments, and calls to action in your blog posts signal to readers that you would like them to share their brand love, while helping you channel their assistance in the specific directions you desire.
  • Promote your content: Social media and email marketing are both must-have techniques for spreading the word about the content you’ve published. But if you want to extend your blog’s life span and expand its reach beyond your circle of influence, consider supporting your posts with paid promotional techniques like native advertising, promoted posts, and search ads.

Best practice example: The Buffer Blog

buffer social curation experiment

In late 2015, Buffer decided to eschew creating new blog posts for one month in favor of repurposing and refreshing content from its archives. Though some of its efforts were more successful than others, the experiment provided some invaluable insights on how to increase the payoff of every blog post.

Problem 5: You aren’t using your blog to build subscribers

Let’s face it: For your blog to be effective, it needs to help you achieve your business goals, not just boost your brand’s ego and pad your writers’ personal portfolios. Increasing subscriptions is a solid, measurable step in that direction given that the awareness and interest the blog generates now can be nurtured into long-term brand engagement and loyalty over time.

Warning signs: Why aren’t your blog readers signing up for more? Perhaps your content is getting caught up in one of these likely traps:

  • You aren’t directing readers down the path you want them to follow: It took your hard work to bring guests to your door – why would you just let them wander around aimlessly once they’ve arrived?
  • You aren’t making a compelling case for subscription: Sometimes readers need a little convincing to help them decide that your content is worth raising their hand for.
  • Your offerings are all-or-nothing: While a one-size-fits-all subscription might satisfy some enthusiastic brand fans, it could be a big turn-off to casual readers, or those who are already inundated with unread emails in their inboxes.

Potential solutions:

  • Include a call to action that directs site visitors to take the next step: Be clear as to what you want them to do and highlight the benefits they’ll receive in return. But remember, your ask doesn’t need to follow the same format every time. Considerthese alternatives to the traditional text-based end-of-post callout.
  • Offer an incentive to sweeten the deal: Give subscribers access to exclusive content, insider discounts, or other members-only benefits in exchange for their permission to connect with them more directly. You’ll be surprised at how much more willing readers may be to share their personal info when they feel they are getting something tangible in return.
  • Enable subscribers to customize the communications they receive: Just because a reader doesn’t want to hear from you every day, doesn’t mean she might not appreciate the opportunity to receive a monthly message, or hear about specific types of offers. By making your terms of engagement flexible and giving readers the power of choice, you’ll make the experience more comfortable, satisfying, and mutually beneficial.

Best practice example: Copyblogger

copyblogger-member-offers

In Joe’s most recent post on subscription goals, he mentions how Copyblogger Media founder Brian Clark leveraged a strong and loyal base of more than 200,000 targeted email subscribers to transform his humble blog into one of the fastest SaaS companies on the planet. Today, Copyblogger continues to grow that fan base by offering exclusive content resources to members who sign up via email.

Conclusion

Blogging may have low barriers to entry, but that doesn’t mean it’s an effortless path to content marketing effectiveness. Fortunately, a few small blogging hacks and helpers like the ones above can make a big difference in your brand’s potential for attracting, impacting, and activating your audience more successfully.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Google’s Biggest Update in 2016

Google rolled out a global update today removing the right-side paid search ads for most search queries. The update:

  • Removes ads from the right side of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP)
  • Adds a 4th ad to the top of the SERP for “highly commercial queries.”
  • Effects searches on desktop only. Mobile searches have never had ads on the right side as the screen real estate is much smaller.
  • Allows a maximum of 7 ads on the page.
  • Has one exception, Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which will continue to show at the top-right of the page.

minnetonka body shop

Much speculation is percolating as to why Google made this update, and what the downstream effects will be for advertisers. Some initial thoughts:

  • With less ads on the first page, it’s more important than ever to be at the top of Search Ads. What is your average ad position?
  • Not running a Search Advertising campaign? You should be. With 3-4 ads at the top and 3 Google Maps listings below that, your first chance at showing up organically is in the 7-8th position on Google (way “below the fold” on a mobile device). Positions 7 and 8 are earning 3-5% of clicks from the page. Is that an acceptable market share for your business?
  • Mobile is clearly the future as desktop search pages are now mimicking mobile.

 

« Older posts

© 2019 KEVIN CARLOW

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑