Six Marketing & Community Lessons From a New York City Hotel

first_img Roger Smith Hotel – thanks!!! I had a great time and will definitely be staying at RSH again (and recommending it to others!)” 6. Be Curious @RSHotel ), the hotel’s new media marketing manager, said in a telephone interview that he will soon be using Twitter to target people who have mentioned “beer” and “NYC” on Twitter. His goal? To invite beer enthusiasts to a . Wallace is planning the same marketing strategy for an upcoming wine-tasting event. @1indienation Adam Wallace ( 5. Aim at User-Generated Content – The hotel has had great success with their , “If you could equip your customers to be excited, passionate carriers of your story, why wouldn’t you try a few things and see what worked?”  Photo credit: The Roger Smith Hotel’s music mix honoring the hotel. In her mix she gave a shout-out to the chef at the hotel’s restaurant 3. Show Real Faces discussions. You should also be ” Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack 1. Interact With People ‘s 2,328 (as of today) Twitter followers. She is part of an online community that receives the hotel’s good morning wishes along with updates about upcoming events and special deals. And she gladly responded to this social hospitability, ” YouTube channel Webinar: Twitter for Marketing and PR Want to learn more about using Twitter for Marketing and PR? to their recent guest, Courtenay Bird. brewery dinner – Community conversations constitute a central part of any outreach campaign. Roger Smith has been successful interacting with people on showing the many faces of the Roger Smith community. In Wallace’s words, by “putting a face to it” people understand the hotel environment and provide valuable feedback. Thus, small and independent businesses have the power to compete with bigger corporations. for tips and tricks to drive inbound marketing using Twitter. podcast – “Keep it more about the stories,” advised Wallace. The Roger Smith Hotel, for instance, maintains an entire website, Topics: knocking down the old school walls of customer service @courtenaybird ” 2. Tell Stories wrote Flickr – Don’t be afraid to experiment. That’s how the Roger Smith built its media presence. As Chris Brogan, another Roger Smith guest . Her music message with Latin, jazz, reggae, and dance tunes can inspire anyone who wants to feel the hotel’s vibe. Social Media Glad you got home safe. I hope all was great during your stay! It was all our pleasure!” tweeted and quirky articles about art exhibits, restaurant deals and, naturally, ” and allowing space for more efficient communication with past, current and potential customers. Bird is one of the – User-generated content — reviews, comments, tweets, podcasts — greatly influences customer decisions. For example, Roger Smith Twitter follower, Rachael Depp ( Roger Smith Life ) recently put together a @adwal Originally published Jun 9, 2009 11:54:00 AM, updated October 01 2013 . The social networking tool helps the hotel promote its events and offer special Twitter deals. As a result, the Roger Smith reaches a new audience and drives traffic to its website. RSHotel You can follow this example by actively blogging, uploading video clips, tweeting and participating in campaign 4. Optimize Different Channels , which revolves around sharing stories and engaging the community. “Do not see it as just advertising because it is not. It is an open communication,” explained Wallace. It aims at offering transparency rather than, as Wallace put it, “blasting people with sales.” Facebook Flickr Photostream photo stream), a Roger Smith Life Download the free webinar social media is a hub for photos, articles, video materials, Twitter news and events. It features a photo gallery (as well as a . In other words, it uses a range of content channels to offer a true taste of the hotel’s culture. The Roger Smith, an independent New York City hotel with about 110 employees, uses social media to increase its brand awareness and provide great customer service. Here are six lessons you can learn from the Roger Smith’s success: Twitterlast_img read more

Why Most Website Redesigns Have a Half-Life

first_img Topics: Half-life is the period of time it takes for a substance undergoing decay to decrease by half, and is especially used when talking about radioactive decay. Free Workbook: How to Plan a Successful Website RedesignMany of you redesigning your website right now may be experiencing a half-life of your own, and one that might even be more dangerous (to marketing folks) than a radioactive substance.  This half live is the time that it takes for your own happiness with your website to decline by half. Most marketers and business people get tired of their websites way too fast, and because of this, they redesign their websites way too often.Your personal opinion of your website’s attractiveness has nothing to do with the need for a website redesign.   The goal of your website is to get found by more prospects, and convert more of them into leads and sales.  The only person you want to impress with your website is your prospect, and they are much more likely to want to find the information they want than to admire a beautiful flash graphic.  A more “beautiful” design or a new design may be more confusing to your prospects, and lower your conversion rate.Have you suffered from the Website Redesign Half-Life pitfall?  Free Webinar: Website Redesign for 2010 Website Redesign Originally published Jan 12, 2010 3:29:00 PM, updated July 28 2017center_img Learn how to redesign your website with an internet marketing strategy in mind with Mike Volpe, HubSpot’s VP of Marketing.Download the Webinar Now and learn how to turn your website into an internet marketing machine. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Website Grader Lessons: Bag Inspiration

first_img Bag Inspiration would benefit by consolidating their different online properties. Currently their blog and website live at different URLs. This means that their main site, isn’t getting the search engine optimization benefits of all the content they are creating on their blog.  2. Things Bag Inspiration Could Do Differently Michelle and Stephanie also have a newsletter registration form right on their homepage. It’s a great idea to collect the names and email addresses of people who are interested in hearing from you but might not be ready to buy right now. By collecting email addresses and building out a house email list, you have a great tool to nurture people until they are ready to buy.   which highlights how you can live a more green life, write Things Bag Inspiration is Doing Right 1. Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Bag Inspiration is the brain child of two moms, Michelle and Stephanie, in Wisconsin who are passionate about protecting the environment and who have a love for bags made of recycled materials. On their site, they sell bags made from everything including candy wrappers, old Indian saris, juice boxes and mosquito netting. Website Grader contest  (enter for your chance to win.) We thought we would highlight one of the companies that have joined in, showing what they are doing really well on their site, and what they could be doing better.  BagInspiration.com blog From their Twitter feed, I learned that Bag Inspiration also has a fabulous weekly online newspaper call 1. Design product reviews I would recommend consolidating their blog, GreenInsprintation.com, with their website BagInspiration.com. I would also recommend making their favorites and product recommendations part of their blog. It has the double benefit of adding more relevant content to their site and including that content in the blogs RSS feed.  We have had a lot of great folks participate in the on going The Green Inspiration Daily Originally published May 20, 2011 12:00:00 PM, updated July 03 2013 2. Michelle and Stephanie have done a great job of creating content in creative ways. They have a , which pulls together interesting content from around the web. Based on a quick search, I don’t believe that this is linked to from anywhere on their site! With each new issue, I would recommend writing up a blog post highlighting one or two of the articles. This will not only add more content to their blog, but will also help drive more people to the newspaper.    on different green cleaning products and also each have a favorites section where they talk about their favorite bags. The content is relevant to their readers and covers a variety of interesting topics.   I think Bag Inspiration is doing great things for the environment and is very deserving of the 95.5 that Website Grader gives them. last_img read more

What’s the Proper Social Media Etiquette? [Marketing Cast]

first_img Topics: Weekly Marketing Cast In today’s episode of the Social Media The Value of Giving Should you follow back somebody who follows you on Twitter? Should you comment on the Facebook updates of your connections? These questions form a social media etiquette that businesses deem suitable when building relationships online. Inbound Marketing There Isn’t One Right Way Giving can empower businesses, drawing them closer to their target audience and creating evangelists. There is a lot you can give to your community–give them attention, free content, recognition… For instance, if someone leaves a comment on your blog, comment back. If they follow you on Twitter, follow them back. “A lot of this giving is a real challenge for many businesses because we are just not used to it. We are not used to that interaction,” says David. center_img Originally published Jul 11, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated July 08 2013 , we discuss what the social media etiquette might include: People make the analogy between social media and a cocktail party for a reason. You need to have a conversation with people–not just talk to them or try to sell something. Engage people in the way that you would like to be engaged if you were in a virtual cocktail party.  Make It a Cocktail Party A lot of companies make a mistake thinking that there is one right way to communicate online, notes David Meerman Scott. That’s the way it used to be–us talking to our audience. While this is not necessarily going away, it’s important to recognize the existence of a two-way communication. Social networking allows for the formation of a dialogue, which can be vibrant and spontaneous. What else would a social media etiquette include? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

How to Create Clickable Links in SlideShare Presentations [Quick Tip]

first_img Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack This situation sound familiar? You’re clicking through a SlideShare and stumble upon a call-to-action (CTA) that reads, “Click here to learn more!” You’re intrigued, so you click the blue, hyperlinked text … then nothing happens. Ugh.As a user, you think “How careless of them to forget to include the link!” But chances are, most marketers creating SlideShares aren’t even aware these links are broken. They’ve done their due diligence by hyperlinking links in PowerPoint, exporting the file to a PDF, and uploading the file to SlideShare. The problem is, when you save a PowerPoint file as a PDF, unfortunately, hyperlinked text doesn’t get carried over. Ugh.Lucky for marketers, there’s an easily solution for adding links to SlideShare presentations on both Mac and PC. You’ll be raking in the clicks to your other content in no time — and your users will be much happier for it. Here’s how you can create clickable links in SlideShare:PCTools You’ll Need: PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat Pro (free trial)Step 1: Hyperlink the text box or object you want to make clickable.Be sure you’re not hyperlinking the text itself — this process won’t work if you do.Step 2: Paste the hyperlink into the address box.Step 3: Click ‘File,’ then ‘Save as Adobe PDF.’Step 4: Save the PDF.Step 5: Once the PDF publishes, you will have a clickable link within your presentation. Step 6: Upload the hyperlinked PDF to SlideShare, and voila: clickable links within slides!MacTools You’ll Need: PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat Pro (free trial)Step 1: Save your PowerPoint file as a PDF.Step 2: Go to the folder where your file is saved in Finder. Right click on the PDF, then select ‘Open with Adobe Acrobat Pro.’Step 3: Find the slide you want to hyperlink in the PDF. Click ‘Edit,’ then ‘Edit Text & Images.’Step 4: A pane will pop up on the right side of the window. Under ‘More Content’ click ‘Add or Edit Link.’Step 5: Click and drag your cursor over the object you would like to hyperlink (a translucent box will appear as you drag). An options box will appear. Select ‘Invisible Rectangle’ under ‘Link Type’ and ‘Open a web page’ under ‘Link Action.’ Then, click ‘Next.’Step 6: Enter the URL for the link in the dialogue box, then click ‘OK.’ You now have a clickable link in your PDF. Don’t forget to save before exiting!Step 7: Upload the PDF to SlideShare, and your hyperlinked slides will automatically be clickable.Ta-da! Clickable SlideShare links without too much trouble. How will you use clickable links in SlideShare to boost your marketing efforts?Image Credit: Mykl Roventine Presentations Originally published Jul 9, 2013 2:23:35 PM, updated July 28 2017last_img read more

Analog Values in a Digital World: Are We Moving Too Fast for Our Own Good?

first_img Topics: Marketing Trends Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Jul 11, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 I’ve been thinking lately about the virtues of the analog world. This started when I came across some photographs I took in 1991 on a trip to Peru, hiking the Inca Trail. Some were in color. Some were in black and white.What struck me the most was that a lot of them were really good — they had been framed well, composed well. Clearly, I’d paid a lot of attention when I took them. I’d taken some time with each one to get it right…. which is surprising because I think of myself as a terrible photographer. I blast away with my smartphone or my little point-and-shoot, and I never produce anything that’s worth hanging on your wall.How could I have been so good 20 years ago and so lousy now? (This question could apply to many aspects of my life, but for now let’s confine it to photography.) I had a bit of photography training in college, and back in my early days as a journalist I had to carry a camera and shoot my own pictures. On that trip to Peru I had a pretty nice Nikon camera. So maybe it was the equipment?But then I realized — the photos in Peru were shot on film. Now, maybe there is some magic “X factor” about film that hasn’t been replicated in digital. But that’s not what I’m talking about.What I’m talking about is that with film you only had so many exposures per roll — 12, 24, 36. Remember? You could look into the camera and see how many pictures you had left. Each exposure became precious. Sure, you could carry extra rolls of film, but you could only carry so many. I remember that in Peru we treated those exposures like a valuable resource that wasn’t to be wasted. Each shot had to count. You couldn’t just stand there blasting away, firing off hundreds of shots, like we do today on our smartphones and digital cameras. I’d bet our total number of exposures on a three-week trip was less than the number of shots I fired off in three hours last weekend at a neighborhood cookout.Now maybe the digital approach is better. But it seems to me there was some virtue to the analog world because it forced me to slow down. I benefited from having to think things through before I pressed the shutter and made the exposure.And here’s the twist. At the risk of sounding like a poor man’s Seth Godin, I think there’s a metaphor in this.Move Fast, Break ThingsThe digital age has enabled us to move faster in lots of ways. And because we can, we do. “Move fast and break things,” is one of the corporate mottos at Facebook, for example. Meaning, don’t be overly cautious. Don’t be timid. Fortune favors the bold.But, in general, moving fast and breaking things leaves us with … a lot of broken things. Not to mention a lot of half-baked ideas that get pushed into the world only to annoy or confuse people, and then have to be canceled or discontinued when it turns out nobody wanted them.Moving fast and breaking things is the new normal in tech. Sure, we give it fancy names, like “iterative development,” but what that really means is: Ship it incomplete and then we’ll use version 2.0 and 3.0 and 4.0 to add the things that should have been in version 1.0.This applies also to our own work. We live now in a world of infinite do-overs. But maybe we’d be better off if we pretended that we couldn’t have any do-overs. Maybe we’d raise our game a little bit if we had to pretend we were using a film camera, where we have only one shot to get things right. Maybe we’d slow down, and plan more. And while maybe this means we’d produce less in the short term, in the long term we might do better work and create things with more lasting value. Maybe productivity would go down in the near term but up overall.This goes beyond products to companies themselves. “I’m doing a startup,” is the new version of “I’m starting a band.” It’s easy to raise money, either via Kickstarter or angel investors. So you come up with some idea, no matter how derivative or unpromising it might be, and there’s a good chance you’ll get funded. Heck, maybe you don’t even have an idea; all you have is a team. I’ve seen pundits saying a startup might be better off without any fixed idea of what to make; that way they can be more responsive. Or adaptive. Or something.You get the idea. It’s all about moving fast, moving fast, moving fast — why? Because we can.We’re obsessed with speed. We have six-second videos on Vine, 15-second videos on Instagram. We make a virtue of the ephemeral — quite literally in the form of Snapchat, an app that creates photos that disappear after a few seconds.I would not argue that we were better off in the pre-digital age. No one loves gadgets more than I do. And I don’t want to sound like that old guy saying, “Things were so much better when I was a kid.” But once in a while, we might benefit if we would slow down and use the same kind of planning and thoughtfulness that was forced upon us by the constraints of analog.The Lady With 2 CamerasThis goes beyond business. This “move fast” mindset is also why we have FOMO — fear of missing out. It’s why, not long ago at my kids’ elementary school concert, a woman in the balcony was videotaping the show, using not one, but two cameras — a DSLR and an iPhone. She held one in each hand, propped up on the balcony railing. The kids were 100 feet away. The lighting wasn’t great. (And neither was the singing, for that matter.)I would bet a hundred dollars that nobody ever watches those videos she took. I know because I’ve done the same thing. I’ve videotaped my daughter’s piano recitals, then uploaded the video to a computer hard drive — and there they will remain.Why did I do it? The only reason I can find is because I could. Or maybe, someday, decades from now, I’ll dig up those videos the way I ran across that photo album of pictures I took 20 years ago in Peru, and maybe I’ll be glad I took them.The thing is, my kids are only eight years old and I’ve already shot so many hours of video that I could never watch them all. Plus there are thousands of these little clips, all scattered all over the place, stashed on hard drives.They’re just raw video files, unedited, completely disconnected from each other — clips of various length, from a few seconds to a few minutes, with no data attached to them to explain where they were taken, or when.Someday maybe I’ll have time to organize and edit them, but probably not. If or when I ever do sit down, decades from now, and try to look at them, I don’t know if they will even make any sense.My fear is that these jerky, hectic, poorly shot little clips will remind me not about the joys of parenting — but of a time when the whole world went a little bit crazy.Maybe having only 24 shots in the camera was a good thing — metaphorically speaking.Image credit: 55Laney69last_img read more

7 Marketing Resolutions to Start the New Year Right

first_imgThe time has come. It’s 2014. You’ve likely considered a number of resolutions you want to follow through with in the New Year. Maybe it’s to spend more time with family, or run more on the weekends, or try to cut pizza and other greasy foods out of your diet for a while (that’s one of mine — I doubt it’ll last long, but I digress).Take a second to think about what you’ve resolved to accomplish in 2014. Are any of your resolutions marketing-related? Maybe you’ve thought of ways to better manage your time or come up with fun ideas for team outings, but if you don’t have a list of resolutions to take your marketing to that next level, it’s time to start developing one — and we can help.The one thing the resolutions listed below have in common is, they all revolve around the inbound marketing methodology, which means they require some in-depth data analysis to ensure you make the right adjustments and alterations to your marketing strategy.So take the time to crunch the numbers, discover what is and isn’t already working for you, modify your campaigns accordingly, and your 2014 is bound to be just as — if not more — successful than 2013.1) Focus on mobile.As Google Chairman Eric Schmidt outlined in this recent Bloomberg TV video, 2014 is going to be all about mobile. Don’t believe him? Well, believe this: As of February 2013, there were 6.8 billion mobile subscriptions, the International Telecommunication Union reported. (I’ll give you a minute to drink that one in.) Now, just imagine how much that figure has grown since then. Smartphones and tablets are increasing in popularity by the day — and we don’t just mean in terms of sales. Consumers are using mobile devices more and more to conduct transactions, research brands, visit their favorite sites, and read and reply to emails.So, if you’re still under the impression that it’s absolutely fine not to worry about optimizing your email campaigns and websites for mobile, it’s time to modernize and make some headway in improving your mobile presence. This free mobile marketing guide should help you get started. 2) Make your website responsive.While we’re on the topic of mobile, this is as good a time as any to talk about responsive design.Making the look and functionality of your site the same on both desktops and mobile devices can go a long way in bringing in new visitors and leads and bettering your bottom line. And with 17% of global web traffic coming from mobile, as Statista reports, you’ll want to make your site is completely optimized for smartphones and tablets.Given how relatively new the concept of responsive design is, we totally get it if you’re not up to speed on exactly how to get your site fixed up properly. That’s why we created this guide about what you’ll need for your website, including tips to make it responsive. And good news if you’re a HubSpot customer, since our new Content Optimization System has built-in responsive design, right out of the box!3) Ditch a lot of those outbound efforts.Our stance that inbound is the present and future of marketing only strengthens when we continually see the ineffectiveness outbound tactics have for brands and the incredible benefits inbound strategies bring marketers. Case in point: 54% more leads are generated from inbound than outbound efforts.That stat is bound to grow more each year from here on out, so if you’ve still got precious budget invested in billboards, print, radio, and the like, it’s time to consider reallocating those funds for better use.For instance, given the importance of content marketing, you could double-down on content production and hire a full-time writer or some freelancers to develop blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, and other viable types of content for you.What you’ll see from this modification to your marketing is tangible data in your marketing analytics that shows your efforts’ effectiveness. It’s a lot better than having to guess if those newspaper ads did the trick, wouldn’t you say?4) Revitalize your content strategy.Speaking of content, it’s only going to become more important over the course of 2014, given Google’s assertion that quality content will gradually have a bigger impact on SEO.Because of this, it may be smart to evaluate a variety of types of content that could work for your inbound campaigns. You can determine what’s best for your efforts in several ways — chiefly, going over your analytics from the past several months and engaging in continual A/B testing. This post will help you get started with the former, and this one, the latter. If you’re planning on taking on a bunch of content types and need some help organizing and structuring them, these numerous templates can come in handy.5) Adjust your social and email strategies as needed.Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram — these are the undisputed kings of social (at least for the moment).While new, flashy social sites are bound to pop up over the course of the New Year, you’ll first want to ensure you master these aforementioned platforms that have proven to bring substantial ROI for marketers worldwide before putting all of your eggs in a new-and-unproven social media basket.In other words, we advise you resolve to fine-tune your prospecting on these sites before diverting efforts to the “next big thing.”Similarly, it may be wise to make one of your first priorities in 2014 to comb over your email marketing metrics to see what may need to be adapted or revised. For instance, if your workflows are out-of-date, set up new ones with the help of this lead nurturing ebook. Of course, to know which workflows to update, you may need to …6) Take a look at your buyer personas, too.What good are all of the resolutions above if you don’t know for whom you should be creating inbound campaigns in the first place? There’s likely no better time than the start of the year to reexamine your buyer personas.Be sure you don’t put the cart before the horse in 2014. Truly understand your audience by conducting thorough research on them. Heck, you could even do some online surveys or focus groups to get a better, updated grasp on who they are and what they want (old school, perhaps, but still effective even in this day and age).The bottom line is, you’ll need to comprehend as much about your target demographic(s) as possible to know how to develop your content production, offers, and email and social strategies, among many other efforts.Complete this resolution effectively by utilizing this free comprehensive guide and template that will assist you in creating your new persona(s) for the New Year.7) BONUS: Consider a homepage revamp.Although you may have already put in a great deal of time, effort, and resources to making a top-tier homepage, a change in buyer persona could mean it’s time to give it a facelift.Even if you haven’t altered your persona, it may have been a while since the last time you made sufficient changes to your homepage to account for marketing new products or services, or even rebranding your company.Whatever the reason for your update, you can fulfill this resolution using the resources in this detailed kit, which can help you plan your redesign from start to finish.What are some marketing resolutions you’ve come up with for this year? Tell us about one or more of them below! Marketing Strategy Originally published Jan 1, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Oops! 7 Awkward (But Common) Grammar Mistakes

first_imgOkay, so I’m no English major, but I am a content marketer — attention to grammatical detail is something very near and dear to my heart.The more time I’ve spent in this role, the more I notice little errors in things like text messages, IMs, and birthday cards. This could either be seen as a good thing … or incredibly stressful to anyone who has to communicate with me non-verbally. (Sorry guys. I can’t help it!)I’ve become the go-to person for proofreading other people’s content before it goes live, and as a result, I have started to notice a few of the same mistakes cropping up time and time again. So, I decided to write this post with the hope of calling attention to those common errors.And if these grammatical faux pas aren’t enough — there’s actually another post by my colleague Ginny Soskey that details several other common mistakes. Just in case you want to nerd out a bit more.Note: I know, I know, not all of these are “grammar” mistakes. But I’m taking a pretty liberal definition of “grammar” in this post — including spelling, usage, punctuation, and the like.Free Download: Marketing Editorial Calendar Template1) The Apostrophe CatastropheThe two most common misuses of the apostrophe are:ContractionsThe apostrophe is often used as a contraction. For example, “I can’t figure this out.” The apostrophe here is used to omit the word “not” so that “cannot” becomes “can’t.” The same can be used for “don’t” (do not), “they’re” (they are), etc.PossessivesThe second most common use of the apostrophe is to indicate possession. For example, “That is John’s car.” The car belongs to John. Without using the apostrophe in this case, you are pluralizing John, meaning there’s more than one John in your sentence. And then the sentence just doesn’t make sense anyway.A common point of confusion for both of these apostrophe use cases is the word “it’s.” The possessive form of “it” can cause all kinds of confusion, as it doesn’t conform to the above rule.For example, “The elephant is known for its memory” is a correct use of the word “its” — even though one might think there should be an apostrophe after the “t” since the elephant “possesses” the memory. A simple way to remember the right one to use is to ask if the word can be separated into two words — “it is” or “it has.” If it can, use an apostrophe.2) That Tricky Little CommaThere are many uses of the comma, but for simplicity, I’m only going to cover the most frequent errors I spot. To Separate Elements in a SeriesI went to the shop to buy apples carrots bread and milk.That sounds insane, right? That’s because each element in the series should be separated by a comma.I went to the shop to buy apples, carrots, bread, and milk.Ahhh, much better. That last comma, by the way, is optional. It’s called an “Oxford comma,” but whether you use it depends on your own internal style guide.To Separate Independent ClausesAn independent clause is a sentence that can stand on its own, so when in doubt whether a comma needs to be in the sentence, take the second part of the sentence and ask yourself if it would make a full sentence on its own. If it does, add a comma. If it doesn’t, leave it out.To Separate an Introductory Word or PhraseAt the beginning of a sentence, we often add an introductory word or phrase that requires a subsequent comma. For example, “In the beginning, I had no idea how to use a comma.” Or, “However, after reading an awesome blog post, I understand the difference.” There are plenty more use cases for the comma, which is really well documented in this blog post from Daily Writing Tips, which I follow and highly recommend for content marketers.3) Semicolons and ColonsIf you only semi-understand when to use these punctuation marks, here’s a quick explanation to keep in your back pocket.SemicolonsSemicolons help writers connect two independent clauses that, though they could stand on their own, are closely related and should remain in the same sentence. For example, “It’s her birthday; a party is inevitable!” Notice that each clause could be its own sentence — but stylistically, it makes more sense for them to be joined. (Note: If the first clause contains a coordinating conjunction — “and,” “or,” or “but” — use a comma instead.)They may also be used to separate items in a list when those items contain commas themselves.ColonsColons should be used to introduce or define something. For example, we used one in our blog post title, “The ABCs of Content Marketing: A Glossary of Terms.” Before the colon we give you the title of the post, and after the colon we define what the post is.You may also use a colon before a list, or when preceded by a clause that can stand on its own. For instance, one might write:A blog postAn ebookA novelAnd here’s the thing about writing a blog post, ebook, or novel: Your business will benefit as much as your personal brand.See what I did there? Note that because what follows the colon can stand alone as its own sentence, the first word is capitalized.4) “Fewer” Versus “Less”This one drives my colleague Pamela Vaughan up a wall.You know that show 10 Items or Less? That’s actually incorrect. It should be 10 Items or Fewer, because the object is quantifiable — you can count out ten items. You use “less” when the object is not quantifiable. If you’re ever unsure whether you should use “less” or “fewer,” ask yourself if you could attach a number to the word. For instance, it makes as much sense to say “He has ten beans,” as “He has fewer beans.” That’s because you can quantify beans. But it doesn’t make sense to say “He has ten angst.” You can’t quantify angst. Thus, you’d say “He has less angst.” 5) “Should Have” Versus “Should Of”This one seems obvious when written out — particularly in the context of a grammar post — but alas, people get it wrong all the time. The confusion stems from the way we all slur our words together, so in an age of more colloquial writing, I understand why people make this mistake.Always write “should have” or “should’ve.” That contraction — “should’ve” — is why writers get confused. It sounds a heck of a lot like “should of,” and people probably started writing it without even considering the contraction “should’ve.” But now that you know, it’s a mistake that’s easy to correct.6) “Couldn’t Care Less” Versus “Could Care Less”This is another one that seems so obvious when you think about it — but hey, I guess people aren’t really thinking about it when they say it. There’s a scenario in which each phrase makes sense; the problem is, people don’t use the right phrase for the right scenario. Let’s walk through a scenario together to clarify the right usage of these phrases.Scenario: Bill asks Bonnie on a date, and Bonnie turns him down. Annoyed, he flippantly tells his friend, “Pshh. Whatever … I could care less.”This is the incorrect usage of the phrase. Why? Because context clues tell us Bill is trying to save face and pretend he doesn’t care about Bonnie. But this phrase, “I could care less,” indicates that he does care a little bit.He should’ve said, “I couldn’t care less” to demonstrate he has no care left to give.If you commonly get confused with this phrase, follow the advice of my fourth grade teacher: If in doubt, leave it out.7) i.e. and e.g.i.e. and e.g. are both abbreviations for Latin terms. i.e. stands for id est and is translated to mean “that is.” E.g. stands for exempli gratia, which means “for example.”A great trick I learned for remembering the difference between the two of these came from Grammar Girl’s blog. She teaches us to remember that i.e. means “in other words” (both start with i), and e.g. means “for example” (example starts with e).Not too hard, right? This is particularly important for content marketers, since we often produce educational content that contains clarifications or examples for readers to reference.Want to learn more about grammar mistakes? Check out Grammar Police: 30 of the Most Common Grammatical Errors We All Need to Stop Making.  Topics: Grammar Fails Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Apr 10, 2014 2:00:00 PM, updated April 18 2018last_img read more

The Psychology of Excitement: How to Better Engage Your Audience

first_imgUnderstanding psychology is a crucial part of being a successful marketer. What I’ve discovered is that the most powerful advances in content marketing don’t come from “hacks,” “tricks,” or “techniques,” but from science-backed psychology.One of the most powerful and interesting areas of psychology deals with excitement. How can content marketers get people more excited? How can we raise their level of emotional engagement to bring about content engagement? Is there any way that we can get more comments, more shares, more likes, and more of the content marketing KPIs that we crave?The answer is yes, and the psychology of excitement shows us how.How Does Excitement Work?To understand how excitement affects marketing, we need first to understand how excitement works. Here are some of the key features of excitement.Excitement is mental, but it affects the whole body.Excitement begins in the brain just like any other emotion. Emotions, however, have strong physiological responses.Many people are familiar with the experience of stomach sensations (“butterflies in the stomach”), trembling, weakness, and sweaty palms in response to a state of fear or excitement. These are the body’s complex responses to a mental condition.Excitement is a condition of physiological arousal. ChangingMinds.org explains what happens when we are aroused in this way:Arousal typically happens when the body releases chemicals into the brain that act to stimulate emotions, reduce cortical functioning and hence conscious control, and create physical agitation and ‘readiness for action.’ The endocrine system stimulates various glands, in particular adrenaline, which increases oxygen and glucose flow, dilates the pupils (so you can see better), and suppresses non-urgent systems such as digestion and the immune system. Arousal is spread through the Sympathetic Nervous System, with effects such as increasing the heart rate and breathing to enable physical action and perspiration to cool the body.Excitement is temporary.The human body is always seeking a state of homeostasis, a condition of stability. The mind and body are constantly undergoing changing conditions — fluctuations in temperature, pressure, etc. Despite all the changes, the body can dynamically adapt to maintain homeostasis.Excitement disrupts the body’s homeostasis — but only temporarily. Since the body is constantly returning to homeostasis, a condition of true excitement (in the biological sense) can go on for only so long.How long? It all depends on the level of excitement. An article in the Wall Street Journal suggests that it takes 20 minutes for the power of excitement to pass.Excitement makes people more likely to act.When the body is excited, it provides the perfect conditions for marketing to have its effect. Excitement of any kind is a state of arousal. Arousal means that the heart rate increases, the sympathetic nervous system increases activity, and the brain begins to signal the increased production of hormones.When a person is excited, their emotions become more powerful and can affect their decision-making abilities. Excited people are more likely to make a decision — any decision (even a bad one). Excitement leads to impulsivity.In “The Psychology of Social Shopping,” Paloma Vasquez makes this point:  In a state of excitement or arousal, people think and behave very differently. Emotional states trump rational thinking; it’s easier to sell to consumers when they are excited.  This can be a good thing. As marketers, we usually want people to act, not overthink. We realize that quick decision-making can be important to moving someone through the buyer’s journey.What Can Help Create Excitement?With a basic understand of how emotion works, we can begin to discover how content can create excitement. Here are the broad categories of excitement-inducing content.Strong EmotionThere is wide consensus on this point: Users are excited by with emotional content. They engage with it passionately, intensely, and automatically.Here’s how Relevance puts it:People are emotional creatures. We decide and take action (including buying decisions) based largely on emotions. So, if your marketing content tries to reach your audience only through a rational approach, there’s a good chance it will fall flat.Users will respond to content that affects them on an emotional level. Emotion is part of decision-making and action. What kind of action? Social sharing is the most obvious action.Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study to answer the question “What Makes Online Content Viral?” Their study quickly brought them to this conclusion:Virality is partially driven by physiological arousal. Content that evokes high-arousal positive (awe) or negative (anger or anxiety) emotions is more viral. Content that evokes low-arousal, or deactivating, emotions (e.g., sadness) is less viral.Simply put, if you want to create shareable, viral content, then make it appeal to people’s emotions.ProgressPsychologists have long understood that making progress is one of the most important features in an individual’s satisfaction and wellbeing. The Harvard Business Review explains:Through exhaustive analysis of diaries kept by knowledge workers, we discovered the progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress … Whether they are trying to solve a major scientific mystery or simply produce a high-quality product or service, everyday progress — even a small win — can make all the difference in how they feel and perform.The progress principle applies to the microcosm of content, too. JeremySaid.com explains, “One of the best ways to motivate behavior is to create a sense of progress. If a user can win new levels of rewards, they are much more likely to make an attempt to do so.” This is the principle that creates excitement over the Starbucks loyalty program:Image SourceWhen it comes down to content, the user wants to both understand and feel a sense of progress. On Slate’s sidebar, they tell users how long it will take to read an article, thus suggesting progress, presumably to encourage engagement.Strong Design FeaturesConsumer psychologists understand the powerful role of environmental cues in the way that people act and shop. The same things hold true for website design — elements like color can have a huge impact on how people engage with your website. In fact, color is one of the easiest ways to enhance the sense of excitement.To see what I mean, look at Coca-Cola’s blog below. Their strong use of red in their Tumblr design helps spark excitement and drive more engagement and interaction with the content.PriceImpulse shoppers act on the basis of excitement. One of the driving forces of impulse is the product’s price, according to the Wall Street Journal. You can keep your prices low, or use the price anchoring effect to make it seem low. Either way, you can generate excitement because of the low price.When a customer gets a great price, they are more likely to share it with others. The reason, explains Robert Schindler in Advances in Consumer Research, is because they’re proud of it. A good deal sparks the “ego-expressive” response, making the customer “feel responsible for the discount.”To capitalize on this excitement response, you can use sharing icons at appropriate points throughout a conversion process. For example, Amazon prompts customers to share their purchases on social media. The reason people are likely to do so is because of the state of excitement that they experienced after making a purchase.Image SourceLimited ProductsTo a lesser extent, the product itself can create excitement. Mark Macdonald’s article on Shopify explains that products themselves can generate excitement and eagerness to buy, especially when they are “seasonal or limited products.”For example, every March when my friend gets her green Shamrock Shake from McDonalds, she crows with happiness all over the social media.A similar product, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte creates a frenzy of excitement on social media. This is from the Starbucks PSL information page:Truthfully, this can be the hardest thing to implement at your company — it involved company-wide changes. But the Shamrock Shake and PSL induce the kind of response that you want. If you can focus your marketing on a unique or excitement-worthy aspect of your product, it’s easier to help customers read about it and share it.ConclusionTo improve engagement with your content, it’s not enough to simply produce information and hope it gets action. You have to create a strategy that activates users emotionally. Once you lay the intellectual foundation with content, then you can go on to activate their emotions through empathy.As you interact with content on the web, identify what features make you excited. These are the same features that will prompt excitement in your users. Exciting content is the path to engagement.What do you do to create exciting content? Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Emotion in Marketing Originally published Mar 17, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017last_img read more

5 Shipping Ideas to Amp Up Customer Delight

first_imgOnce the order is placed and the price paid, your job is to make sure the customer receives their goods in one piece and in a timely manner. Beyond that, nothing else is required. Does that mean you should stop there? Not if you want people to talk about you (in a good way). Ensuring customer delight is the only way to build a brand that people trust and share.If you’ve tweaked every other aspect of your company and are looking for one more way to surprise and enamor your buyers, take a look at your shipping policies. Here are some ideas that could totally change your game.Clever PackagingA box isn’t the only way to get your products from the warehouse to the customer’s hands. If you’re selling items that aren’t breakable, consider changing up the packaging materials for something that’s unique and fits your brand. Good, sturdy bags work well for clothing. Fun box shapes may be necessary for items that are too delicate for bags but don’t require a big box full of packing peanuts.These packages will quickly identify your company in the future. Recipients will share images of their cute and clever packages before they tear in. That kind of brand recognition is even more valuable than the money you made on the sale.Thank You Note A heartfelt “thank you” will never go wrong. Whether you include a hand-written card, close the box with a thank-you sticker, or slip in a pre-printed slip of paper, the note will hit the mark every time.It’s not that customers expect a thank you note. In fact, their lack of expectation is what makes the note such a thrilling surprise. The outcome is a pleased customer who won’t hesitate to tell others about your company’s kindness and consideration.PresentationYou could toss the purchased item into an envelope or box, seal it up, and send the package on its way. That’s what most other ecommerce companies would do. Where’s the pride in that kind of delivery, though? What makes opening the package special for the recipient?With some attention to presentation, you could make sure the products arrive looking neat and orderly. Perhaps secure items with ribbon or raffia. Arrange products so that they look more like a display and less like an order fulfillment. The customers will love the experience and look forward to every delivery from your company.Surprise GiftsSurprise gifts are probably the fastest and easiest way into a customer’s heart. Whether you include coupons for savings on their next purchase, free samples of upcoming products, or just a special product that shows how grateful you are, the buyer will love that gift almost as much as their original purchase.FreeThere’s nothing a buyer likes more than free shipping. It’s not an inexpensive prospect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come up with a free shipping policy that makes everyone happy. Consider providing shipping for buyers who spend a certain amount. If you want to make free shipping available for every purchase, you might consider a small markup on every item to defray some of the cost.Would you be willing to put some of these new shipping policies into practice? If you already use some of these ideas, let us know how your customers love them. We’re excited to share results to help others learn.photo credit: Birchbox 2 via photopin (license) Topics: Ecommerce Marketing Originally published Aug 19, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more