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Digital Telepathy Launches Filament; Creates Better Web For Everyone

Update 12/9/2015

I have been following the team over at Digital Telepathy for a couple years now, so when they asked me to write a post for them about their public launch of Filament, I couldn’t resist.

Our relationship started with the podcast in this post, but evolved in to so much more over time. Since then I have developed a great working relationship with their products team, and was even a part of the Alpha and Beta teams who gave feedback to help them refine Filament’s functionality and performance.

A few months ago, I wrote this article for the DT Blog, and recently, we have even been talking to their COO for strategic direction on a new venture my team has been working on for the last few months.

Needless to say, I’m a big fan of this company and their work over the last few years, and it has been a pleasure to be a part of the Filament launch up to this point.

So with no further delay, here is everything you need to know about the team over at DT, their company philosophy, and a little inside skinny on the launch of their new product.


Originally published June 5, 2014

Understanding the philosophy of the San Diego start-up behind Filament.ioDigital Telepathy – Rated R for Raymmar –

In this episode of RayDO…

I interview Jason Amunwa (Director of Products) and Shawn Leslie (Product Designer) from Digital Telepathy.

Disclaimer: This is not a paid advertisement and I received no compensation for conducting this interview.

I simply bumped into these guys online while trying their online apps and then reached out about doing an interview.

I have written other popular articles about other useful productivity software and this is just another in that same style. It was simply a way for me to test my podcast skills and tell a fun story about a cool company.

Part of my goal on Raymmar.com is to inspire people to create better products and I believe in their motto of “Design Matters.”

This is the first of two podcasts that I will publish. Both from the same interview with DT, but I wanted to talk about their philosophy in this one and in the next one we will get a little more technical about the product and how it can help your website.

Subscribe to be sure you don’t miss it. And make sure to grab us on Stitcher so you can listen to us while you work-hard, or hardly-work.

Podcast Transcript and Summary

Look, I know this is not a perfect transcript.

Some of this was available because I scripted parts of the narration and others because I wanted to summarize the content for search engines.

However, I highly encourage you to listen to the podcast itself as it is entertaining and educational.

Plus only weird people read transcripts. Just saying.

Go download the Stitcher app so that you can take RayDO on the run. It has a robust mobile experience, allows you to save your place in the episodes and that way you can always have our newest shows right on your phone.

A few weeks ago Jason Amunwa who is the director of products at Digital Telepathy, along with product designer, Shawn Leslie, joined me via Skype for a short interview.

They asked me to hold the interview until after their big launch but that has happened so, here we are. One of my goals is to to keep my audience on the cutting edge of all things digital so in this episode I am going to introduce you to a company that is leading the way with some of their own online software.

Digital Telepathy has worked with companies like New Relic, Apple, and Google so these guys are the real deal.

I wanted to talk to them about their philosophy of “Design Matters” and why they are so adamant about trying to creating a better web for everyone.

But wait just one minute. Before we get too far into this thing, let’s go ahead get this shit started.

Intro music

Cut 1 – Thanks and cool intro music.

For those who don’t know, Digital Telepathy is a company that develops software and web applications and they have just released a new product called Filament, which acts like an app store for your website but we’ll get into that a little later.

Cut  2 – about being under the radar with Filament and not pushing it out because they want to get it right.

So tell me about Digital Telepathy

Cut 3 – Basically we are just a bunch of people who are passionate about the web and are trying to make the web a better place for everybody. We want people to be able to do more with the web.

So this brings up a good point, and a trend in online businesses, where we are seeing companies fill a very specific niche.

I do not think we will see many more monster companies like Microsoft, IBM or Google, but what I think you will see are very specialized companies that do one thing really well. They do that one thing awesome.

Instead of dictating what the person needs to be doing, where they need to be doing it and how exactly they do it, they just give the person a task and base their performance on the results of their work, as opposed the time it took to create it.

These companies are embracing a concept that is based on paying people for the value they bring as opposed to the time they spend “working” and that is allowing them to do truly amazing things.

We talk about the Results Only Work Environment regularly, on this podcast as well as Raymmar.com so I wanted to ask these guys what they thought about the Results Only Work Environment as a whole philosophy and how it fits into their overall culture as a business.

Cut 4 – Betterment – It stacks upon itself and continually helps you grow.

DT takes their culture one step further with a betterment blog and a philosophy that empowers their individual employees to constantly strive to get better.

They also integrate their marketing strategy by allowing all of their employees to help tell the story of their company.

They allow the personality that makes up their company (their employees), to shine through, as opposed to restricting that function strictly to the marketing department, much like other companies do. Something Jason refers to as “Silo Thinking”

Cut 5 – Silo thinking – Lessons we learn and why we share them.

Another one of DT’s driving principles is that “design matters” and since I am a design school drop out, I wanted to get to the bottom of why design is such a big part of their company culture.

Up until this point we have been talking to Jason, the Director of Products at Digital Telepathy but he thought Shawn might have a better perspective on this question.

Cut 6 – Design Matters – Why design matters – Shawn It is more about design thinking and you can apply that to pretty much any problem in the world.

 “We find ways to bring design into almost every component of our projects as well as our apps like Filament.” –

This answer struck a chord for me as it touched on something that is near and dear to my core philosophy.

The thought that creative thinkers and that “design thinking” to solve any problem is going to be a highly sought after skill. If you listen to my podcasts on a regular basis then you know that I talk a lot about the creative entrepreneur taking over the world.

I talk about the value of applying creative problem solving skills to every day situations and the power in being in touch with your inner content monster.

Cut 7 – Raymmar Analyzing everything. Looking at the big picture, being able to analyze the entire process step by step.

After my little mini rant our conversation took a little bit of a turn towards business strategy as we started to talk about a few of the other apps they have planned for the future.

Since most of their apps are free… I kind of wanted to know how they made money. So I asked.

Jason explained that they work off of a Freemium model which means some of their software is free but you can upgrade for more functionality and to get rid of the sponsored branding that appears on the free versions of the software.

Cut 8 – Freemium – Go with “try-it-before-you-buy-it,” because we want you to be happy with the product you are about to pay for.

This brings up a good point.

The internet is the last free market and it really is changing the way people do business.

Because information is so prolific, it becomes more important for companies to bond with their customers and it also becomes infinitely more difficult for any of them to take advantage of the consumer. Considering I am in start-up mode, I decided to ask them for some free consulting. I wanted to know what they would do as a first step to building a digital product online.

Cut 9 – Tear it down to its smallest pieces. Play to your strengths and make it immediately obvious how you are different than your competition.

So let me clarify the point he just made. He said you need to be immediately different.

You need to understand what and why your model is different from the rest of the competition. Something we talk about regularly on RayDO.

I wanted to take my free consulting one step further so I asked them about their philosophy behind building and testing the apps. I wanted to know how they approached the ongoing development of a digital product and how much of it should be left up to the consumer. I wanted to know if it was too simplistic a request to just find a core segment of users and then let them tell you what kind of product they wanted you to build.

Cut 10 – Objective Based Design – We keep the conversation going with the client and the user. Test and iterate.

His answer was pretty reassuring because this is how I’ve been building my website. It is a work in progress and it will not be done until it is done. And even then, I’m not sure it will ever be done.

I knew the guys weren’t going to let me get my free consulting on all day so I asked them what was the next step for Digital Telepathy and about their new Filament product.

Clip 11 – What is Filament? Filament is like an app store for your website. We wanted to create this app store so that it was easy for people to find high quality apps that work with their site and then make it easy to install it.

So… that’s pretty awesome. I think. But aren’t there other apps out there or products that do this already? How does Filament stand out from the competition.

Cut 12 – WordPress Plug-ins. When they upgrade they can brake your site so Filament eliminates that by allowing you to manage the apps in real time.

I see. So can any developer begin to develop applications on the Filament platform?

Cut 13 – Not Yet – Right now we are focusing on making sure that we have the installation process down. Right now we are creating our own apps for the platform. Once we are confident that we have solved those problems then we will be looking to bring other people on board.

Jason continued to tell me about some plans for future software and other benefits of the Filament platform but for me the most important part of their products is the ability to integrate new features on my website without spending a ton of money in development.

Cut 14 – Making the web a better place – Hiring people is expensive and learning is time consuming. We just want to make it easier for everyone to do these things because we just enjoy it when the web is better.

So what website should people go to in order to learn more about Filament.

Cut 15 – Fliament.io – Check it out, download the apps and learn more about creating a better web.

What an awesome way to look at building a product and I think more companies would do well to take this type of approach to building their digital products. Make sure you subscribe to Raymmar.com and grab us on Stitcher so you don’t miss an episode of RayDO And be sure to go check over at Fliament.io – But for right now, we got to go!

Want more perspective on Filament? Here is an article from the Pando website that goes into more detail about the Filament App Store

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Follow These 5 Steps to Design the Perfect Sales Process

The 5 steps to a perfect sale, and how to bake them into your next digital product. #SalesLife

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7 Simple Steps To Help Grow Your Blog Traffic

This post is part of my 30 day creative writing challenge. Click here to learn more about the challenge or here to explore the other posts in this series.

So, you’ve been writing for a while now, maybe even started your own blog, but no one is reading what you write…

This article is going to help you fix that!

Highlight any text in this article to share it directly.

You’ve tweeted your post, Facebooked it, hash-tagged it, and even spammed your friends and family with emails linking to your work. You know the world would love what you have written, if only you could get them to read it. But how the heck do you get people to notice your work online?

First, it helps to put yourself in the readers shoes. Think about how you browse the net. Think about how you skim articles, scroll through social feeds, and engage with the content you enjoy.

Once you do that, you can see how easy it is to have people skip right over your work. People are impatient online so it’s up to you to snatch their attention whenever you get a chance.

Don’t take it personal if your writing doesn’t go gangbusters as soon as you hit publish. Writing and articulating your thoughts is an important part of the process, but it’s just the beginning. If you want to get people to consistently read what you write then you have to promote your work and give it the best chance to get noticed online.

There are specific ways to do this right, and blasting your Facebook feed with the same link 10 times a day is not the way to do it. If you’re serious about getting people to read what you write, then here are a few tips to help you attract those eyeballs on a consistent basis.

1. Writing compelling titles

You should spend as much time on the title as you do on the article itself as this sets the expectation for the reader. Everyone online judges book by their cover. 80% of people decide whether to click on a link based on the title alone.

Most of my articles actually start out as an idea for a compelling title. I have a blog concepts folder in my Evernote that is full of ideas and titles for articles that I would like to write. Usually it’s just a concept for the article, some ideas on the title, and a sentence or two about what I would like to delver with that particular post. Then whenever I want to write something, I can just go into that folder and go from there.

Want to read more about how to write compelling titles? Click here

2. Formatting. Formatting. Formatting.

Seriously, if your post is just one long paragraph, I’m gonna click the back button before I read the first sentence.

Short paragraphs work best online and using headings to split up the post is always a good idea. You can also use things like block quotes, call outs and images to break up your content and make it easier to read.

Want to read more about formatting the perfect post? Click here

3. Always deliver value

If you want people to read your words, then you have to give them a reason to do so. To do that, each article should have a specific take away. This also gives the reader a reason to click on your link the next time they see it in their news feed.

Writing personal posts can be empowering, but most people don’t want to read your frivolous rants about life.

However, people love a good story. So if your writing skills are strong enough, then you can definitely deliver a compelling personal story that people will love to read.

Just make sure you write it in a way that allows the reader to place themselves inside of your story. Let the reader connect with you emotionally and you will quickly find yourself in front of a growing audience.

Want to read more about delivering value and blowing your readers minds? Click here

4. Connecting with influencers

Influencers are people who have large online audiences. People who can share a link to your work and help you gain exposure.

All traffic on the internet comes from links. Whether it is a link on a Google search result page, another blog, or social media, the only way to get people to your site is by having other people to link to it.

You can do this by connecting with influencers in your industry and sharing your post with them directly.

How do you do that? Find out where they are and start engaging with them. They are more likely to notice you if you notice them first. Quid pro quo is a perfectly acceptable strategy when it comes to sharing content online and growing your audience.

Want to read more about how to get influencers to share your work? Click here

5. Asking for the share

I always ask for a share at the end of my posts. It usually goes something like this

“If you enjoyed this post, I would appreciate you sharing it with a friend. It’s the biggest compliment you could ever give me! Thanks.”

Adding something like this to the end of your posts is not spammy and is a great way to build your social shares.

Think about it, they just read your entire article. And presumably, we only read things we like, so asking someone to share something that they just read and liked is a pretty logical progression.

Not everyone will share your work, but every extra share means extra eye balls on your post and that is the overall goal.

Want to read more about how to ask people to share your posts? Click here

6. Posting at the right times

Knowing when your audience is most likely to engage with your work takes time but it is something you should think about when publishing on your website or on social media.

For me, I have the most success when I post articles in the mornings, around 8:00 am to be precise. Additionally, Mail Chimp tells me that the best to send my emails is around 10:00 am. But that is all based on my particular audience.

The best times to post for your particular audience may vary, and probably will for most of you. If you want to give your content the best chance at being read, then knowing when to post it is pretty important.

Want to read more about proper post timing? Click here

7. Publishing Consistently

I don’t mean to tell you that you need to publish your posts at the same time each week, or even that you need to publish something new every day. What I mean when I say consistency, is that you have to constantly produce high quality content in order to build credibility with your audience.

Publishing on the same day each week and having a consistent schedule is not going to hurt, but regularly producing great content is more important than posting each article at a particular time.

But remember, frequency is nowhere near as important as quality. Regularly posting crap content is a sure fire way to train people to ignore your work.

Set a standard for the quality of your posts and do not publish anything until you think it meets those standards. It’s hard to gain credibility online but it’s really easy to lose it.

Want to read more about how to publish consistently and not get burned out? Click here

In Closing

These are just some basic guidelines to follow. There are a ton of other things you can do to get your work in front of a larger audience, but the tips in this article are a great place to start out as a beginner. You won’t be held back by a bunch of technical hurdles, and it’s the easiest way to quickly grow your online audience.

Got any tips for growing an online audience or getting people to read what you write? Leave them in the comments below!

And of course, if you enjoyed this article, please share it with a friend. It’s the best compliment you could ever give me!

Is Medium Trying to Steal Your Blog?

Is Medium Trying to Steal Your Blog?

Because it kind of feels like it to me.

 This post originally appeared on Medium

Medium-trying-to-steal-our-blogsContent, content, content…

It’s probably one of the most overused marketing buzzword of the last few years. And as far as I can tell, it will continue on that trajectory into the foreseeable future. Especially as businesses, marketers, writers and other individuals look for ways to stand out among the noise, and rush to claim their piece of online pie.

The online new media machine is devouring old media at an alarming pace. It seems that everyone is in a hurry to share their deepest, darkest thoughts online. Over the last 10 years it has become increasingly easy for individuals to build an online presence, but it has also become increasingly difficult for them to actually stand out from the crowd.

In this epic race for online space, businesses are building platforms with the intention of easily aggregating high-quality, user-generated content. Content that provides value for the reader and engagement (think advertising opportunities) for the site owner. Something Facebook seems to have perfected, even if their recent profits come at the cost of their credibility. However, no one has been able to replicate that process for long form content. That is, until Medium.

Businesses and online entrepreneurs have understood the value of blogging for a while now, but the average individual is discovering that it is also a great way for them to build their personal brand. As the freelance economy gains traction and remote workplaces grow in popularity, the importance of setting yourself apart online continues to increase. A robust website is no longer optional, and will soon be the ultimate 21st century living resume.

This is where Medium comes in, at least from a bloggers perspective.

Medium has built (in my opinion) one of the simplest, most user friendly, publishing platforms in existence. They have made it easy for anyone to get online and share their story. No need for any of the other trouble associated with building a website, just “here’s your digital notebook, hit publish whenever you have an idea worth sharing!”

However, what many do not realize is that the importance of building your presence online revolves around your ability to control not only the message, but the platform as well.

The purpose of having your own website is so that you can control how it looks and feels. You do it so that you can have control over how the user interacts with your story and hopefully to take them from one action to another.

Another reason for managing your online presence independently is that there is a growing need to own the search results for your name. You want to build your own individual presence because in a world where Google is the arbiter of information, you want them to know that your website is the bastion for everything you. Not your profile page on Medium.

Additionally, what if you want to monetize your presence? What if you decide to start selling a book or other product? What happens when your presence is on Medium and there is nowhere for you to insert a form, build a landing page or otherwise engage the audience you are working so hard to build?

You are after all trying to build YOUR presence aren’t you? I hate to imagine the thought of you working so diligently, only to end up helping some guys in silicon valley build their website instead of yours. And when you focus solely on a single social outlet as the hub of your online presence you are doing just that.

Now, I am not saying that publishing on Medium is a bad thing. Quite the contrary, I think it’s a great tool to use as you grow your presence, and considering I have had great success with Medium, it would be hypocritical of me to do so.

What I am trying to say, is that you should not (exclusively that is) build your brand around Medium or any other social publishing platform for that matter. You should build your presence around your own website and then use outlets like Medium as channels through which you drive traffic, grow engagement and build influence.

You need to build a content engine for yourself as opposed to feeding their future advertising machine. A machine they will eventually attempt to monetize and potentially leave you looking from the outside in at an audience you worked so hard to build.

They will use your content as the foundation from which fund their revenue model, drive advertising dollars or otherwise modify the platform in a way that will be beyond your control. (Facebook pages anyone?) What happens when it cost you money to publish or when they start letting people pay to get to the top of those subscriber emails?

I am not certain this is the direction they are taking the platform, but they have already made fundamental shifts in the way they share and allow you to curate content, and they continue to make changes that lead me to believe that they are moving towards a platform that might leave your wallet a little lighter if you wish to continue using it to share your message in the not too distant future.

Sure their subscription tool is great and their interface is clean but watch out, they might just be trying to back door their way into stealing your blog.

Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if I was wrong about all of this. Only time will reveal their true intentions, but I cant help but think that they are making their way towards a viable revenue model. Even if those movements are subtle.

I’m not certain about any of this, And I won’t tell you to stop using Medium, but I can tell you that if you are serious about building your blog, or any substantial online presence, you should be doing it with the fundamental understanding that it needs to be yours.

Medium should definitely be a part of your strategy but honestly, your website needs to be a platform which you can control. Something that you own. Not something that leaves you as a tenant to the fruits of your own labor.

So what do you think? Is Medium trying to steal our blogs? Or do I have it all wrong?

P.s. My entire argument presumes that you are using the web as a means to an end. If you just like writing for writings sake and just want a simple platform from which to publish your miscellaneous thoughts then Medium might be the perfect place for you.

3 Proven Techniques To Build Online Trust And Drive Social Engagement!

Alfredo Lopez explains why all businesses are now media companies and how to effectively use that advice to drive your online social engagement strategy.

“All Businesses Are Now Media Companies”

Alfredo Lopez – Cofounder Social Chrome

Today’s generation of youngsters , the twenty and thirty-somethings (and all future generations for that matter), are hard-wired to seek out online content before doing business with anyone. Indeed, according to Marketing Land, 91% of people have visited a store after an online experience.

Promotions and discounts are no longer enough to drive new business. Think about it, do you ever see flyers any more ? What about that ancient book of golden scrolls we used to call the Yellow Pages? Exactly.

Business paradigms have shifted to include more parity and transparency for the consumer. Customers want to be engaged by your business. They want to experience your personality, and they want to see what other people are saying about you. In short, they want to be fascinated, not finagled. Fascination is magnetic, and is a key to attracting new business.

So, how exactly how do you attract new business with social media? Scratch your head no more, here are three proven techniques to do just that!

1: Transparency

Transparency results in trust and a deep sense of security towards your business which should be the main goals of any social media strategy. In today’s business world, transparency is absolutely vital. You simply cannot do without it.

Not too long ago, business folk, salespeople, and marketers had a big advantage: more often than not, they had more information than consumers. If you walked into a car dealership, the salesman knew more than you. If you went to the doctor, he or she knew more than you too. This eventually led to consumer mistrust.

With the advent of the internet, and sundry other modern communication tools and devices, there is now a surplus of information. This means that consumers often have as much, if not more, information than the salesperson. Transparency breaks down barriers because you are effectively letting people learn more about you, the way you work, and how you service customer needs.

Another important motivation for transparency is what bestselling author Daniel Pink calls non-sales selling. Let’s be clear. Being transparent, and setting up the systems and operations with which to be transparent, is an action. Specifically, we can qualify this type of action as non-sales selling.

Pink estimates that we spend around 40% of our time engaged in non-sales selling: influencing, persuading, and convincing others in ways that have nothing to do with anyone buying anything. So what is the ROI of non-sales selling? Trust. And there’s simply no substitute for that as we move towards a more transparent future.

2: Micro-Content

One of the keys to social media is microcontent; the smaller the better. Think of microcontent as a bunch of snapshots you take with your camera, or as small conversations that you have with your neighbor. There are two critical components that make microcontent successful: quality and regularity. Let’s unpack these concepts.

Several ingredients go into producing quality content. First of all, your content must be personable. There’s no point in producing content and sounding like an answering machine. That approach is going to make people feel like they are sitting in line at the DMV (why would you do that).

Take a look at your current content strategy: do you sound human, or do you sound like a bot? It makes a big difference.

High quality content evokes a human response in the audience. When you pair that response with a call to action, then you are well on your way to building a relationship and adding value for the consumer.

That’s the real power of social media: creating connections!

Consider what Coca-Cola has done recently with their “Share a Coke” campaign. They have been printing people’s names on their classic Coca-Cola cans. An example might say, “Share a Coke with your BFF” or “Share a Coke with Family” or “Share a Coke with Susie.” See that there? The Coca-Cola can is already a classic, but they figured out a way to use the space on the can to produce a piece of personalized content alongside the branding.

The result? Sales catapulted to the highest they have been in a decade, and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of happy Susies out there.

Another thing to consider is relevance. Remember: your content should not necessarily be about you, it should be about your audience. How relevant is your content? Is it tailored to your particular audience?  Much of the challenge in generating great content comes from identifying your audience’s personality and tailoring your message to their liking.

The first thing you should be doing is creating a buyer persona that outlines as much detail as possible about your target audience.

What do they eat? What music do they listen to? Are they creative? Rational? Educated? Affluent? Edgy? Conservative? Introverted? Extroverted?

After you have pinpointed your buyers personality, you can start playing matchmaker. That is, you can say, “Hey Mr. Audience Member, I’d like to introduce you to this content that is tailored specifically for you, wink wink.” Now you’re a matchmaker, and everyone loves the person who introduces them to cool stuff.

3: Fascination/Innovation

There are a lot things in the world that are not fascinating. Things like the post office, filing your taxes, washing your dishes multiple times a day, jury duty, getting a cramp on your calf while you’re running or just sitting on the couch. Your business, as its own media company, should not be on that list. Ever.

More and more, marketers are privy to the fact that we are in a post-information age. It used to be that information was scarce, and whoever had access to information had a distinct advantage. But that is no longer the case. Information is abundant, and available at the touch of a button.

So how do you stand out from the noise and guffaw when information is all too prominent? You have to be fascinating.

Businesses are adopting social media marketing at accelerated rates. In fairness, not everyone loves social media, but an astute business owner must at least concede that it is invaluable to the well being of his or her business. As we move into a future where all businesses are exercising some form of social saes strategy, the most successful businesses will not be those with  the same old social media strategies, but those who utilize social media in such a way as to be evoke fascination.

According to bestselling author Sally Hogshead, there are 7 triggers that evoke fascination. These are:

  1. Power
  2. Trust
  3. Mystique
  4. Lust
  5. Prestige
  6. Vice
  7. Alarm

I call them the 7 friendly wins and they should be your new best friends. Each one of them is a key ingredient in the recipe for your social media cake. Realistically, employing all of them would be excessive, but it’s important to at least be familiar with all of them. Try to employ them strategically and contextually whenever possible.  Your use of these concepts will make your business irresistible to consumers.

Ultimately, fascination is an instinct. In other words, we are not rationally drawn to fascination, we’re magnetically drawn to it for reasons that reason does not grasp. Nevertheless, this instinct serves as a catalyst for action and behavior, including the decision to buy.

It’s time to harness your most fascinating self. Now go fascinate.

Master the A.R.T. of Online Sales in 3 Simple Steps

A.R.T. = Attract. Retain. Transcend

Sales & Marketing as an ART? That’s SMART!

In this article I’ll walk you through the basics of inbound marketing while explaining a few keys principles that will help you take full advantage of your online sales and marketing efforts.

Let’s Get Started

The process of attracting an audience online and converting them into customers is evolving faster today than ever before and keeping up can quickly become a full time job.

When it comes to the web, you either learn how to do it yourself, or hire a pro. It has become so easy to build a website that everyone is doing it and honestly, I see no problem with that.

However, many of those people now want to sell you something and the internet is quickly becoming a flea market of monotonous content and online stores with lots of things to sell but no real value to deliver.

Sure, you can go build a website and install a store, but when it comes down to actually selling something then I think you will find that there is more to the process than meets the eye.

New School vs Old School Sales

So many people are stuck in the old school thought process of how sales and marketing should work. They have not taken the time to watch and study its evolution. A process which is speeding up daily.

They still focus on the grind of cold calling, door knocking and sales stalking. Not that these methods don’t work, but as times and technology changes, so should your approach to sales.

Related: Follow These 5 Steps to Design the Perfect Sales Process

Beware of False Social Success

It seems like everyone is a marketer these days, or at least claims to be. I find it funny when someone tells me that they are a marketer and then gives me a blank stare when I ask them what they think about companies like HubSpot, MOZ or CopyBlogger. So many people have jumped into the industry to become “social media managers” that I can’t help but roll my eyes when someone starts to tell me about how good they are at getting “likes” for their clients on Facebook.

Considering that Facebook has lost most of it’s value to marketers over the last couple years, I find it insulting that so many people want you to pay them to artificially supplement your social credibility. If numbers are all you’re after then there are a million places where you can buy fake traffic, but if you are really trying to set yourself apart, then forget about padding your vanity stats and instead focus your efforts on the the actual ART of online sales.

Your website, not social media should be the base of operations for everything you do online. Sure, social media is a good tool for engaging your audience but think of the networks as just that. Tools.

You should think of social media as the air conditioner in your sales car. Sure it’s great to have, but if it goes out, the car should still drive. So roll down your windows and learn how to survive on the open web. It’s easier than you think and it is considerably more effective for your online sales presence in the long term.

By relying on social media as the sole driver for your online business, you are really just building business for the network itself. Not to mention that a single change in the way those social networks work could leave you stripped of you of your ability to access that network or dramatically diminish your engagement in the blink of an eye. Don’t believe me, just watch the video below.

Instead of building your business on social media, your focus should be on making your website more social. Incorporate some of the stuff that makes social media so great into the website itself, and then focus on using social media as a distribution channel for your awesome content.

This way you are in charge of the platform, you control the data (subscribers, emails, platform, etc) and no one can get in your way.

Is it a little more difficult? Yes.

Can you do it? I think so.

Heck, look at what I’ve built and I can’t even type properly. Seriously. I use an advanced chicken peck technique. But hey, the words still read the same way.

So with no further delay, here they are. Three simple steps to master the ART of online sales. Think of it as the master key to your online sales lock! #YoureWelcome

Step 1 – Attract

Because you must earn trust from an audience before you can sell them anything.

The first step to selling online is to attract eyeballs. Sure you can do this with paid search and media buys, but these are all ad based marketing efforts. Yes, they can deliver an instant return, but only as long as you keep spending money to get it.

If we are going to progress as marketers then we need to start building long term online sales assets that drive traffic organically. Inbound marketing is the process by which you do just that, and learning how to blend original content with your paid advertising should be the first step in building your online sales monster.

You should be using your paid advertising as a tool to find out what is working and to hone in on keywords that are relevant to your conversion process. From there you should start to put together a plan that revolves around creating a library of relevant content for your ideal buyer. A resource for them to fully understand you, your product and how buying it will benefit them.

Don’t be afraid to let your story shine through when you start to work on a plan for your content marketing. Some businesses get so caught up in industry lingo and technical jargon, that they forget that their prospects are also human. They forget that most people just like a good story.

If you can find ways to combine your great products with some compelling online storytelling, then you are well on your way to online sales success. Just remember to jab a couple times before throwing that hook!

Step 2 – Retain

Because keeping customers is easier than getting new ones.

We all know that it’s less expensive to keep existing customers than it is to gain new ones so how come so few businesses are spending time marketing to their existing customer base?

70% of companies say it’s cheaper to retain a customer than acquire one

If you truly want to perfect the art of online sales, then it comes down to leveraging existing relationships and developing a plan for your current clients that is just as robust as your efforts to acquire new ones.

Most sales organizations work so hard to drive new sales, that they often leave their buyers on the edge of a cliff after they make a purchase. They give their buyers little direction after the sale and miss out on one of the most opportunistic times to bring that customer back around for a relationship building experience.

The customer has just expressed the ultimate faith in you as a business by buying your product. Their trust and emotion for the things you do are not likely to reach this level again without more work from the sales team. This is why it’s important to close your sales loop and have a defined plan to transition your buyer into the next phase of your sales process.

By inviting your customers into a more personal side of your business you make them feel comfortable with their choice and reassure them that they did in fact, make the right decision. You can then set them up for cross sell/up-sell opportunities, repeat sales, and more importantly, referrals. The holy grail of any sales organization.

You don’t have to look further than companies like Evernote, Apple, Amazon, etc. to see how they have created cults of customers who then become an extension of their marketing departments.

The only way to build this level of relationship with your buyer is to open up. To connect emotionally with them and to make them feel like they are part of your business family as opposed to just another revenue opportunity. It is up to you to create that connection and buyers are hungry for that type of sales experience.

Just think about how much you hate a crappy sales process and then put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. Would they be happy with your post purchase procedures? If not then you might want to spend a little more time working on retaining your existing customers before going out and spending all their money trying to get new ones.

Step 3 – Transcend

Because f#@k the competition!

So many businesses spend all their time worrying about and copying what the competition is doing that they forget why they got into business in the first place. They forget that innovation is the real driver in any business and that focusing on the competition too much can cause them to stagnate.

That is why you are in business isn’t it? To deliver value to your customers? To grow and build on your vision for how the things you do can make the world you live in a better place?

Why then would you spend so much time copying the competition as opposed to setting yourself apart from them. Why not try something new? Why not go out on a limb and share a portion of yourself that makes it immediately apparent to your prospect that you are different from everyone else they are considering for this purchase.

I’m not telling you to ignore the competition completely, just that you need to elevate yourself above them in order to stand out. This is something you can only do by being different as well as being better than the competition.

Throw some personality into your sales copy, tell me a joke now and again and make me think that there are actual humans working for you. Make me feel like your goal is to do more than just sell me something and I’ll be infinitely more likely to buy from you.

We live in a world where everyone is always trying to sell us something so when you actually make me feel like you care then you win. When you give me value before I buy from you, then you win again. And when you give me the resources I need to make an informed buying decision with no sleazy sales pressure, then you will most likely win me over as a customer.

In Conclusion

Just don’t suck. Seriously, we live in a world where we are constantly under attack from some sales pitch, so why not tell me a story instead? Why not tell me why you got into business in the first place? Why not tell me about your amazing employees and how they help you do what you do better? Anything other than just trying to cram your product down my throat.

All of these things can go a long way in the process of taking me from a shopper to a buyer, and they are definitely things you should be thinking about right now. Because whether you want to admit it or not, the social sales revolution is upon us, and if you aren’t careful, you might just get left in the dust.

 

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How I Drove Millions of Page Views & Got 10K+ Subscribers In One Year With $0 Ad Spend

The history of Raymmar.com and why I am uniquely qualified to help you grow your online presence.

 Executive Summary:

Let me save you some time here.

There is no secret to building a brand online.

  1. It takes time and a lot of great content.
  2. It takes a good story and a willingness to open up and make yourself and yes, your product vulnerable to the world.
  3. It means sharing the story of why you do the things you do as opposed to trying to trick people into helping you do them.

Once you break that barrier, you can begin to build trust with your audience and turn your online presence into a revenue generating machine that can help you spread your message across the world.

If you are interested in learning more about how to do just that, click here and let’s talk about how I can help you optimize and grow your online business.

It Begins

Raymmar.com started out as just a simple online portfolio…

I was just starting out as a marketing consultant and trying to build a name for myself online. I bought a cheap hosting plan on GoDaddy, installed WordPress and bought my first theme. I had no development skills, and zero dollars to spend on any of it, but I was going to take over the world.

The site was pretty gross. At the time I thought it looked good, but a few friends told me they wouldn’t come back until I changed how it looked.

I was bombing my Facebook feed with requests for people to “Like” my page and to “check out my new website”. That is, until a friend sent me an article from The Oatmeal about how to get more Facebook likes.

To make a long story short, the article said to quit begging friends for Facebook likes and start creating content that they would actually like.

I had been so focused on trying to get people to my website, that I forgot to give them a reason to come in the first place. There was no reason for them to stay when they got there or come back if they did decide to visit. And even the few people who came had little to see, and even less that was worth sharing.

I set out to find a better theme, and then learn as much about blogging, search engine optimization and inbound marketing as I could. I wanted to learn everything I could about how the internet worked and I still had quite a few things to learn about writing words that people would actually want to read.

Starting to tell a story

I started trying to express more of my personality online. I started playing around with online memes and Infographics. I began writing more in depth articles (like this one about email marketing) and tried to understand the best marketing practices by actually practicing them.

I started writing articles about the town I lived in and wrote a couple stories about the incubator I was working in at the time. I was testing my writing abilities and trying to find ways to use local events to boost views and engagement.

I started sharing stories about being a broke entrepreneur, and the emotional struggles of giving up everything you love to go chase a dream.

I started sharing part of my personal struggle but not in an attempt to gain sympathy or pity from my audience. I did it in an attempt to inspire them. To show that determination, hard work and the willingness to fail fast are things anyone can learn and use to accomplish their goals in life.

I was able to convert my story into something people cared about. Something someone looking to find a place online would do well to learn quickly. My audience finally had a reason to come back. Now they were rooting for me.

But how to get to that next level? How would I shake things up or separate myself from the millions of other online bloggers?

“I know, I’ll start making videos!”

Said the guy who had never shot, or edited a video in his life.

I was watching some Vsauce videos and decided that I could do something similar and started to produce videos about politics and life.

My first video did pretty well online and I was happy with the couple thousand views it got but I wasn’t prepared for what would happen when I released my next video.

I published Nigga Please, on a Friday afternoon. By midnight it had 5,000 views.

Friends immediately started messaging me, telling me that I was crazy. Even some of my fellow content creators told me I had just ruined my career. They said I was stupid to put something like that out to the world. That even though I made good points, I had also made a big mistake.

The next day that video did more than 80,000 views. That Sunday it did 221,505 page views and another 77,007 the day after that. Then Facebook shut down the link. This was the first, but not the last time, that Facebook throttled my content.

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Nigga Please video stats from WordPress

 

Not only did they block the post, but since my commenting system was connected to Facebook at the time, I lost the ability for people to comment on the post as well as losing the 900+ comments that had already been made.

Although the video got blocked from Facebook, I still got a big viral bump from it and it helped me build an early subscriber base. I now had a small group of people to update with new posts, and I had an article that was giving me some credibility with Google.

Over the next few months I kept writing and made a few more videos. Nothing took off like the racism video but I wasn’t worried. I now understood that the path to building a strong online presence would be slow and steady. It would be about testing and trying, tweaking and breaking, constantly evolving until the site gets to the point where people can’t help but spend time interacting with it.

In my mind, the goal was to build a library of evergreen content. I was telling beautiful stories and stocking the digital shelves of my website with arrangements of words that people liked to read. Available to anyone, at any time. This is the real key. Sticking with it. Sure the viral posts help but those will come eventually if you just focus on telling great stories and putting your best work out to the world.

Over the next few months, I set out to refine the website and prepare it for the next traffic explosion. In the process I connected with a group of people that asked me to come out to CPAC with them and be their on-air personality on Radio Row

broadcasting on Radio Row

From left to right, Benjamin Doherty, Raymmar Tirado and Lisa Mei! Broadcasting live from Radio Row at CPAC 2014

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Raymmar on set with David Webb on the SiriusXM set at CPAC

Keep in mind, I have no formal training as a journalist, reporter or anything that even resembles either of those things. What about my radio experience? That hadn’t happened yet so I was a total rookie! But what kind of blogger would turn down an opportunity for that kind of exposure on a national level?

While preparing to head out for CPAC, I wrote and published an article titled 7 Reasons You’ll Never Do Anything Amazing With Your Life. It was not until a couple of weeks later when I looked at my web stats and saw that I was getting a thousand views a day, two thousand, three thousand and then one day 26,000 page views. Turns out that the article was going viral on Medium.

Million Views on medium

7 reasons article going viral on Medium

That month (February 2014) we did 1 million views on Medium alone and another 1.5 million in the following four months. We still do 20-50K views a month on Medium and while that traffic might not be directly tracked on my site, the hundreds of thousands of people who did come to my site from Medium were already highly engaged with my work. This means they subscribe at a much higher rate which is definitely one of the perks of being a top publisher on Medium.

Medium-stats-stayed-consostent-for-a-while

The traffic from Medium fluctuated dramatically for the next few months

There have been other articles that performed well online. Namely this one, and this one. The exposure I got from these articles lead to being asked to become a contributor at the Huffington PostElite Daily, and a number of other notable online publications. All of which have gone a long way towards helping me gain credibility as a writer, but for me, the focus has always been on turning my website into the center of operations. The rest of these things are just part of the distribution mechanism but any aspiring web mogul would do well to make sure their website is the hub for all of their online interactions.

All of this exposure was giving the site a boost in search rankings which is one of the things that young blogs can struggle with. This past July, the website was showing up in Google search results hundreds of thousands of times per day. It seemed that we were not only gaining credibility with readers but with the search engines as well. And remember, this is all organic. There is no paid advertising behind any of this growth at all.

Webmaster-stats-raymmar

Showing up in Google search results millions of times,

All in all, over the last year (not including the Medium traffic) we did just under a million views on my personal website and gained more than 10,000 email subscribers. Sure the web traffic is still erratic and I am sure it will continue to be that way as it grows, but I drive regular engagement, have a steady base of repeat visitors and am regularly getting leads from all around the internet. All of which has allowed me to work from home and be my own boss.

Year-over-year-stats-2

Raymmar.com, year over year web growth by page view.

Making a confession

I do not have magical marketing powers or any secret tricks to teach you about how to be a better blogger. I can only tell you that the moment I started sharing bits of my personal story with the world is the moment that the world started actually listening.

There is so much noise online and so many people are always trying to sell you something, that most people enjoy it when someone is honest and open with them. They appreciate it when you share your goals and struggles with them, and I think that businesses can learn a lesson from all of this as well.

I think that businesses can learn a little something about lowering their shields, and letting their customers see the people that actually make them a great company.

Tell me the story of the immigrant CEO or the mom who created the product to help her kids. Tell me why you make the product, not why you think I should buy it. Let’s start making better products so that we can restore some level of faith in a sales process that has become completely perverted over time.

These last few years have been an interesting journey. They have taught me how to be a one man media mogul and showed me how to broadcast my message to the world. My web presence is now bigger than most of the media companies in my local market and I will continue to hone these skills until I pass each of them up alltogether. I will continue to publish high quality content and keep helping creative entrepreneurs and small businesses do the same thing along the way.

So if you have a business, product, or website that you are looking to build an online presence for, then I’d love to hear from you. Whether we do business or not, I love to connect with other people who are doing cool things online.

Anyway. Hopefully you have enjoyed this story and maybe you’ll even come back for another one sometime soon.


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Unlock the ROI of Social. Can You Put A Price Tag on Trust?

In this article, Alfredo Lopez takes us through the misconceptions about social exposure and helps us see the true value of social ROI.

Don’t Ask: What is the ROI of Social?

While sales and numbers are important, I’ve come to understand that this may be the wrong question. We can get an insight into the flaws of this question if we ask it in a different way.

Instead Ask: What Is the ROI of Trust?

What is the ROI of trust? What is the ROI of establishing rapport with your customers? As Ted Rubin pointed out as far back as 2011, “If you want to continue to reach your market in this social media age, the marketing focus needs to be on building relationships, and metrics need to expand beyond ROI (Return on Investment) to include ROR: Return on Relationship™.”

When you’re talking social you’re not necessarily talking dollars and cents, though of course that’s included in any bottom line. Instead, the language of social is the language of relationships, and that cannot always be quantified. What metrics would you use to measure trust? What analytics would be sound enough to illuminate the returns on successful customer relationships? These questions are worth asking, but the answers are not easily revealed.

Any social media strategy must calibrate itself not simply to drive sales and increase earnings (though it includes these), but also to build and maintain relationships. This is social media in a nutshell: building and maintaining relationships that originate online, which in turn translate into real world value. Any other understanding of social media misses the point. So how do you get a return on relationship?

Three ways to drive ROR

1. Shut Your Mouth, Open Your Ears: The Art of Listening

You may have heard of this. It’s what you should be doing when you are not too busy talking all the time Mr. Talker. The real art of listening takes place on two different levels, and they are very different.

On one hand, there is the listening to what was literally, physically, said. That is to say, the actual sequence of words that were put together and communicated directly.

For example, a client who runs an upscale restaurant in Manhattan might ask, “How’s the social media campaign coming along?” It’s easy enough to understand the outer meaning of this: it’s a fairly direct question.

On the other hand, there is the subtext, or reading between the lines of what was physically said. To take our earlier example, the client has asked about the social media campaign, but might secretly be concerned about something else, or might have another question which he is hesitant to ask.

It’s important to be sensitive not merely to what is physically said, but also to what is said between the lines. You may consider: How did they say it? What was their tone like? What was their posture and attitude like when they asked? What was their emotional state? All of these are important considerations and are also part of communication and listening.

So why is listening so difficult? Here’s a partial answer: we’re too caught up in our own subjective thoughts, feelings, and daydreams. Sound familiar?

When you truly listen to someone, you have to get rid of your own preconceptions and all the thoughts that you have bouncing around on pogo sticks in your skull. All the subjective thoughts in your head are just extra noise that drowns out what is being said. Try listening to your favorite song while at the same time running the blender. Our listening is usually like that.

 

If you’re preparing an answer while someone is talking, you’re not listening to them. You’re listening to yourself.

Just listen. Don’t prepare an answer while the person is talking. Just listen. Don’t think of how you spilled your drink at last weekend’s cocktail party because the speaker said something that reminded you of that. Just listen. You have to be empty. You can’t take in what someone is saying if you are full of responses, ideas, rebuttals, and thoughts.

Social is almost all about listening. In the past, advertising and marketing had a ‘me’ mentality. It was all about my product, my service, or my personal brand. In the social age, it’s now about others. It’s a conversation, not a lecture.

2. Ask More Questions

Asking more questions is a powerful way to build relationships because it is fundamentally an act of humility and openness. It says that you’re looking to connect, and that is at the heart of all things social. This is the exact opposite of the “know it all” who stifles all conversation because he “already knows.” That is being closed, not open. Don’t be that person. Nobody likes that person.

Asking more questions helps build relationships with your clients because it shows that you are curious about them. There’s an idea! Other people exist! Shocking, I know. I spent some time in sales, and there was one very powerful question that, more often than not, allowed me to establish trust and rapport with clients. This is because questions open doors and further the conversation. The question was this: “What else?”

Try it.

Notice what happens when you ask this question. Rather than having listened to someone, and then preparing a response or rebuttal, you are actually requesting more from that person. This surprises people (in a good way) because they feel that they are being heard and valued. It’s a way of saying, “I’m listening. Is there more? What else do you have for me? What else do you need? What else can I help with?”

Asking more questions is the difference between buying something and being sold. If you’re being talked at, you’re being sold. If you’re being listened to, you’re more inclined to buy and thus enter into a relationship.

3. Quality Trumps Quantity: Less is More

Quick, would you rather have thousands of followers on Twitter or a dozen trustworthy clients? Would you rather have four quarters or a hundred pennies? In social media marketing, it’s best to go with quality over quantity. Appearances can be great, and I don’t think anyone would reject thousands of followers on Twitter, or thousands of ‘Likes’ on Facebook. After all, popularity breeds popularity. But behind appearances, there are often latent conflicts, and it’s best to go with quality.

Quality clients and quality engagement on social media will grow your brand and ensure your reputation into the future. You might not be as flashy as you’d like, and you may not go viral anytime soon; but step by step, as you lay down the foundation for a sterling reputation, you’ll be glad you went with quality. This is an art more than a science. As Robert Pirsig put it, “Art is anything you can do well. Anything you can do with Quality.” Focus on tailoring your content to those that already love you (your dozen clients) rather than expending needless energy chasing numbers and ghosts.

Why?

Quantity, mere numbers, can be fool’s gold. Gary Vaynerchuk has echoed this thought when he says that too many companies are looking for the knockout punch (going viral, or any version of that) when instead they should be throwing consistent jabs to set up the right hook. So much time and effort is lost looking for the social media version of ‘El Dorado,’ when instead, strengthening your ability to listen, asking more questions, and valuing quality clients, sets you on the path towards social media success. And that is the true ROI of social.

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The New Economics of Demand; Convenience Over Cash

 Movement over money.

Sean Smith explains why connecting with your consumer is important in a digital economy and why customer convenience is more important than price.

Read the original article on Medium

It used to be an age old solution in business to build a bidding war with your competition.

The lowest price would win, because convenience was on a level playing field.

Price is not necessarily obsolete now, but it matters far less to our inter-connected society than it used to.

Businesses like Amazon are putting others out of business left and right. Most people point at their prices, but that’s not really the case. When you look at the ease of convenience their services like Prime bring — giving next day or same day delivery for any of their products while also being cheaper than most of their competition — the competition doesn’t stand a chance.

People don’t have to leave their house to shop. Think about that. That’s an insane notion that only became possible in the last 5 years.

People care more about their time now more than ever, because now we see the possibilities of the things we can do with our day. Our days are getting longer, because things are getting easier due to technology.

Businesses that understand this will thrive, those who don’t adapt or find their niche in this new age of convenience and demand will dwindle.

No longer does price dictate the outcome of our pocket, we decide based off of our time.

“People don’t buy products, people buy better versions of themselves.”

As Belle Beth Cooper said best,

Ev Williams even mentioned that the best way to build a billion dollar business now is to “find a business vertical that hasn’t changed in 50-100 years and find a way to make it easier using technology.” This could be applied to hundreds of verticals, even online publishing, which is far from an ancient medium. Take Medium for example, this lovely online publishing tool you’re reading right now. I write here because it’s incredibly easy, it’s beautiful, it’s interesting, and the exposure makes it easier to reach my audience.

Uber took the cab industry and turned it on its head, starting with a simple app and some part-time cabbies running on their system. Now it’s worth billions of dollars with no signs of slowing down. SpaceX obviously didn’t choose an easy vertical, but they were able to achieve what only government associations were able to do to date, to dock a cargo ship to the international space station. This gave SpaceX billion dollar contracts from NASA to keep their astronauts supplied on the ISS.

There are “disruptions” to be made in thousands of verticals, you need only find that unique approach, take out the steps for the customer, and innovate.

In an environment where people are trying to “optimize” and automate as much of their life, and success as they can, those who help them succeed in this ambition will succeed in business.

This doesn’t bode well for business reluctant to change, but for entrepreneurs ready to build better services, this is a ground breaking time to live in.

“We help take the pain away” — this may be one of the best selling lines I’ve heard in a pitch for content marketing. It’s honestly what people want, whether you’re doing marketing for a business, or easing the pain of people dealing with a cable company to cancel their service.

People want their pain to go away.

The supply and demand curve has warped, it’s been turned on its head.

We’re all better for it too, because when people stop thinking about money, and instead think about what they can do with their time, we all move forward.

Movement over money.

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How To Build A Viral Presence Online – A Detailed Audio Walk Through

A comprehensive guide to creating, sharing and nurturing viral content online.

Listen and read along as we teach you how to build a strong organic online presence.

People ask me all the time…

“How do you get so many people to your website?”

They want to know what I have done to increase my online exposure and how I get such got such a large audience in such a short amount of time.

Most of what I have done has been trial and error and even now we are constantly experimenting with different formats of content in an attempt to perfect our art, but there are a few things we have learned along the way that can definitely help you reach your online goals.

In this podcast…

We talk about the process of creating, sharing and nurturing viral content in some serious detail.

I invited Sean Smith to join me in this episode of RayDO (pronounced Ra-di-o) Uncensored. Sean is a prolific writer and you can find his work on a number of national publications including the Hufington Post, 99U, Moz and Medium.

I suggest you take notes along the way, as we dive deep into the process of creating, sharing  and nurturing viral content. You should also listen to the entire podcast for a deeper understanding of our entire content conversation, especially since the notes below are just an overview of everything we talk about in the podcast.

As always, if you find value in the podcast, please be sure share it with a friend, subscribe and grab us on Stitcher. That way you can get all of our newest content first.

2:50 – Skip the audio intro

I always like to let you skip the intro so if you don’t want to hear the lead-in to the podcast just skip to about the three minute mark. Just remember, a baby squirrel will get run over by a car every time someone decides to do this.

In all seriousness, the beginning of these podcasts is where I briefly explain what the show is about and I also give occasional updates on what we are trying to build here at Raymmar.com. If you are interested in getting involved or want to know more about what we are doing then I suggest you listen all the way from the beginning.

4:00 – A quick intro to Medium

I have enjoyed some recent success on Medium (especially when my article reached #1 on their top 100 list) but I think they are changing some of the things that made them great. I am working on on article about why I think they might have messed up big time but I have also had some great success by sharing some of my posts on Medium.

I am not sure whether the changes they have made recently will affect their long term viability as a social sharing platform but I think you should know about it as a content creator because after all, finding new places to showcase your work is a big part of increasing your audience and building a viral presence online.

6:15 – Starting a blog

The race to stand out online is on in full force and most people are doing it all wrong. At this point in the podcast we start diving into the theory behind creating, sharing and nurturing the content in an attempt to create a continual viral presence online.

These strategies, although helpful when creating any content online, are not intended to help you get one specific article to go viral. The internet is a finicky place and you should worry less about creating individual pieces of viral content and instead focus your efforts on always putting your best work out there for the world to see.

Once you start driving enough traffic (assuming the site is interesting) people will start spilling over into the other sections of the website. What we are hoping to teach you on Raymmar.com is how to build a consistently strong arsenal of quality content and how to elevate your entire blog  so that everything you do has a chance at going viral.

8:05 – It starts with a title?

For me it all starts with the title. I get an idea and then it evolves in my head as a theory but I am never fully inspired until the title hits me. Sean and I both agree on the importance of the headline as well as why it is so important to think about getting the readers attention early on. On the internet, many people do judge a book by its cover so be sure that your blog titles are as thought out as the content inside of them or in the end you re really just wasting your time.

It would be like throwing a huge party and then forgetting to send out the invites. Not the proper way to plan a party right? So why would you take the same approach to creating your online content?

9:30 – The evolution of an article

Most great content is not a one and done proposition. In this part of the podcast we talk about letting the content sit on the shelf and why you should let your stories and simmer. I think it is important to throw down all of your thoughts and then sleep on your idea for a few nights. Then you can come back and clean up the content to make sure you are always delivering your “A” material. I do not know many people who do everything perfect the first time around so if you really want your content to go viral then you really do need to take your time and make an art out of writing your articles.

11:30 – The structure and flow of the article

Sometimes you should just spit out all of your thoughts and then look at them on the screen and work on the structure and flow of the article. Then you can start moving pieces around and assembling the article in the way that makes the most sense. The structure of your article is important and you need to hook the reader early, especially online.

Blogging Tip:

You should be telling two stories through the course of the article and also make sure you are formatting it properly for online distribution.

Story one: Should be told in the headlines and subheadings. Consider this the top level story. A fly by of your high level ideas if you will. People are really impatient online so you need to make your article easily skimable while also trying to suck the reader in and get them to commit to reading the entire story.

Story two: Should be the article itself. This is the long form version of your story. This is where you can dive in and let your work shine. The other benefit to formatting your content like this (besides the value that long form content brings you in the sense of SEO) is that it makes long form content digestible. You can deliver more information in one place and not overwhelm the reader with a page that looks like it was copied and pasted from an encyclopedia.

15:05 – Delivering value to the reader

In order for your story to have a chance at going viral, there has to be a strong story line. At the end of the day, if your story sucks then no one is going to listen, read, watch, etc. You should make an attempt to educate and entertain your reader while telling that story. Think about the stuff that engages you online and then try to mimic and copy that approach but be sure to make it your own along the way.

You can use metaphors and other creative writing practices to give the reader some creative liberties while reading your work. This allows the reader to make your story their own and it allows them to create the environment in which the story takes place inside of their own head. You allow them to paint for themselves the vision that you are trying to share and then you put yourself in the perfect place to entice the reader to actually share your story.

17:06 – Leave the story up to the reader

The point that we are trying to make here is that getting something to go viral online becomes more about getting the reader to attach their emotions to the blog than just writing something interesting. Most businesses, entrepreneurs, etc. just want to pitch their products on their blog, but they forget about connecting with their audience in an emotional way. They forget to give something to the reader in the form of digestible value before asking for the sale.

Business blogs would be well served to understand the concept of connecting with their readers and should strive to turn their website into a place where their customers come to not only hang out but learn from you. Think of it as if you were building an online lobby for creative thought.

19:33 – Reading is the ultimate virtual reality

People can immerse themselves in your words. When they watch video they see the exact vision of what the person who created the art wanted them to see. But, when you are reading someones words or listening to their voice, the reader gets to become the artist. This leaves you with a beautiful opportunity as the author, to connect on multiple levels with your audience. It allows you to reach directly into the heads of your readers and paint with your words.

You also have to remember that it takes time to build an audience and a following online. You have to be willing to invest the time and hone your skills as not only a writer but a self promoter of the things you write. No one is going to read your early articles so don’t feel bad when you publish something and no one reads it. It happens to all of us when we first start out. You should use this early part of your online development process to test your writing style and keep experimenting with different techniques in order to find out what is going to work best for you.

23:25 – Building Credibility online

You can expect to spend as much time online building credibility in what you do as you do creating and distributing your content. In order to have the best chance to stand out online you need to find people in your area of expertise and start sharing content, connecting and engaging with them on their websites, blogs and social platforms. You need to connect with your readers, not only through your writing, but inside of your interactions as well. Building real relationships with your readers is important to maintaining a viral presence online and you should make it a top priority to respond to all of the comments made on your website as well as the social media sites that you are active on.

24:50 – Become an expert

You have to know what you are talking about before anyone is going to listen to you online. It is easy for anyone to start a website but that does not mean that everyone with a website is an expert. You should make it a point to become the best at whatever it is you are trying to explain to your audience. You have to prove to them that you know what you are talking about by being able to do what you are telling them to do for yourself.

If you doubt yourself or are making things up as you go in an attempt to fill up space, then your reader will not only know that you are faking it, but you will also destroy any small amount of credibility that you might have built up until this point. You must believe in yourself but that does not mean you need to be a tyrant when talking to your audience either. You need to know that what you are talking about is right and then find creative ways to relay that to your reader.

26:15 – Having actual authority vs. thinking you have it

Finding credibility online and building an overall viral presence on your website becomes a process of getting involved in the existing conversations online. This is a piece that many people forget about when trying to build their own blog from the ground up. Whenever you want to get other people involved in your conversations, then you should look for places where people are already talking about the things you are trying to talk about and find a way to get involved in their conversation. Do not be so naive that you think people are going to rush to your website when to talk about what you want when they are already in the middle of that discussion somewhere else. Instead, you should learn how to hack those conversations and become someone that they look to for advice on the issue. Then you can start funneling that conversation to your website and separate yourself as a thought leader in that category.

34:30 – Getting involved

If you are a regular listener then please join the conversation. We have a lot of people who come to the site more than 5 times a month and I would really like to get to know those people better. I want to know why you come to the site so regularly and what we can do to make that experience better for you. Please take a moment to reach out and leave me some feedback about your experience on the site and with this podcast, etc.

We are really trying to make this about the consumer experience and we want to build it into something beautiful for our readers and listeners.

37:05 – Remaining a student

Make sure that you are always learning. You should always think that other people are smart too and that other people can teach you something you mifht not already know. You should become a sponge and then regurgitate that info to your audience in a way that they can relate to or understand. The best teachers are always learning and the beauty of the internet is that it can easily become a medium by whitch information can be passed from one person to another and that is helping all of us learn at a really fast pace. More so than ever before.

Podcast correction – In the podcast I mention that we have shown up more than 100,000 times in Google search results but that number is actually closer to 1.3 million. Turns out I had some filters applied to the webmaster tools and that was restricting the results. Talk about a great mistake! 

38:25 – A few final tips

Here is a link to the Gibbon.co learning platform that Sean was talking about at the end of the podcast.

As we wrap up the podcast, here are a few final thoughts from both Sean and I that will help you take some steps towards building a viral presence online.

Get in the habit of reading your writing out loud.

Seriously, this has been one of the best things I have done for my writing. It allows me to write as if I was actually speaking to someone which is important because when someone reads your work, the concepts could be entirely new to them. You cannot assume they know the things you know, or that they are thinking like you are thinking. It is up to you as the author to make sure that the flow of your work makes sense and reading your work out loud is one of the best ways to do just that.

Leave internal cliff-hangers.

When you tell your story, leave something for the reader to discover later in the writing. This will ensure that they remain engaged throughout the entire post. It can be difficult to learn at first but as your writing style matures you will get better at teasing out the hooks of the articles early on in the content and use them to drag the reader throughout your work in the exact manner which you intended. When you learn to do this then you can really have a chance at building something special online because it really does become about more than just reading a blog article at that point.

Get creative with the article structure.

Start from the end and then bounce around. Or in the middle then to the beginning. Don’t just think that your story has to go in chronological order. A little confusion for the reader is a good thing. Again, this is like leaving little hooks throughout the article. Things that draw the reader in and keep them around until the end.

What Is A Content Engine?

Explaining The Importance of Content Marketing

A content engine is a website that drives web traffic by delivering quality, easily consumable content, on a regular basis. Many new-media websites like the Huffington PostUpWorthy and BuzzFeed could be classified as content engines, and almost all of them are driven by advertising revenue.

Most commercial content engines drive revenue from selling advertising, sponsored posts and other advertorial content. They often employ a number of staff writers but also drive a large amount of traffic from content contributed by independent bloggers, journalists, etc.

While the content contributor gains credibility for having such a large site link back to their website, there is little compensation for contributing to these larger content engines. Sure, the exposure is good, and yes, it might make you feel good, but at the end of the day ask yourself this, “What do the content creators come away with?”

Corporate content engines?

Many businesses are adopting a formalized content marketing strategy in an attempt to build a larger online presence. It’s really the best way to stay competitive online anymore, and the content marketplace is only getting harder to penetrate.

Actually, thanks to the proliferation of concepts like inbound marketing, and companies like HubSpotMozCopy Blogger and others, having a content marketing strategy is no longer optional. It’s almost as if content marketing has become a mandatory part of having a real chance at competing online. And the more it evolves, the more difficult it will become to stand out from the crowd.

Preparing for the Future of Sales

Companies who can build the best corporate content engines are going to become the new leaders in the world of digital sales.

In a world where information is the only currency that matters moving forward, it becomes imperative to start thinking about how you can effectively leverage your personal story in order to grow online sales.

The problem for most companies is that it becomes quite a challenge to create enough content to make an impact online. After all, how is Bob the plumber going to compete against Business Insider when it comes to telling stories about building a business. Even if Bob has a better story to tell, he just stands no chance against a publishing house of that size.

The truth is that it takes a concerted effort to build a content engine, and most business just aren’t up to the task. Not because of a lack of effort, but because of a lack of understanding.

Many businesses simply do not understand how specialized an art getting noticed online has become, and they often underestimate its importance to the future success of their digital sales strategies.

Why is content so important?

Google and other search engines are getting smarter every day. Search engine optimization has changed completely and now revolves around the contextual and social relevance of your content as opposed to the number of keywords you can stuff into the post.

This empowers the individual content creator because it give them an opportunity to leverage their online influence in ways that were never before possible. It allows creatives to leverage their content as a currency of online influence. Something that will gives creatives a leg up in a world dominated by corporate agendas.

Which is exactly why we are building a collaborative content engine here at Raymmar.com. Something we are calling a Circle of Influence.

What is a collaborative content engine?

A collaborative content engine is basically a content collective. You might even say its like communism for online capitalist.

It is a website where content creators come together to share their work with the world as well as each other. A place where competition for quality content is intense and creativity is considered a Currency.

Think of it as an online art gallery for digital entrepreneurs.

By pooling our creative resources in this manner, we can create a powerful Circle of Online Influence which will then work together to cross-promote each others products and services inside of an inbound marketing masterpiece.

“Think Yelp meets Medium. With a Chamber of Commerce and a Mall of America mixed in.”

Because of the demand for quality content, a marketplace like this would allow the individual content creators to connect with consumers who are searching specifically for their solutions.

Imagine if, instead of just blogging for yourself, you joined a network like this, and took those powerful posts and put them to work for you and a community of collaborators? What if the content creators could then be compensated directly based on the quality of their individual content as a percentage of the overall influence of the entire network.

What if we created a place where content could finally be king, and the creatives were the true commanders of credibility. What if we just cut out the middle man and empowered the creative entrepreneur?

How can I get involved?

Right now we are in early development and planing phases of building this collaborative content engine.

We are looking for early adopters to help shape the future of this online Circle of Online Influence.

We need producers and curators, commentators and maybe even a few player haters.

ray.do is going to be a completely collaborative project, built around the idea of exploring the power of our combined creativity. We’re looking for people who are interested in helping us conceptualize and test the concept, and then to come together and execute on those ideas.

So. What are you waiting for?

 

Building An Online Presence. Hire A Pro Or Do It Yourself?

In this episode of RayDO…

Jerry Banfield joins us to talk about building a presence online and whether you should hire a professional or try to do it yourself.

1:15 – Rated “R” for Raymmar

Why some of these podcasts have been a little crude in the past and how this is all a learning process online.

2:30 – Meet Jerry Banfield

Jerry has a large organic search presence on YouTube and is a monster at getting  ranked in search on YouTube and Google. He helps clients manage their online advertising campaigns and optimize sales from paid advertising.

Many people have recently asked me how I approach building a presence online so I thought I would give you some insight on how you can take our knowledge and use it to propel your website to the next level.

4:15 – It started as a personal blog

I explain a little about the beginning of Raymmar.com and the problems we have faced while transitioning the site from a basic online resume, to a full fledged content-engine. Do you pay for advertising? Do you use social media? Should you hire someone to help build your online presence? All of your questions about building an online presence will be answered in this podcast.

9:00 – The who behind the what

Companies segment themselves from their audience through their brands and their products, but I think that more companies should start letting the world see a more personal side of the operation in order to really stand out online.

11:05 – The difference between organic or paid traffic

Before moving too far into building your presence online, you should understanding the basic difference between organic and paid traffic . Your focus should be on creating organic traffic but once in a while, you might want to pay for a few ads to give your content a boost. Personally, I like to focus on building my presence purely organically, while Jerry thinks paying to spark some of that sharing is a smart strategy. What do you think?

 16:00 – What is a keyword?

We discuss the basic context of understanding keywords. Both long-tail and short-tail keywords. We discuss how to target them inside of your content so that Google and the other search engines can properly index your work.

You need to learn how to speak to Google but also understand that Google is getting very smart at understanding and reading what we write. Their artificial intelligence is getting good at reading the article much like a human does, so make sure it makes sense to you as an individual reader and not like some piece of keyword bait for a robot. You need to focus on writing for a real audience, not for Google, but, you must also understand Google in order to be as effective as possible in optimizing your website content and building your online presence.

19:00 The shift that is happening in Search Engine Optimization

We dive a little deeper into SEO and some of the trends we are seeing across the web. We are creating the future of SEO and how you think the game is played is not how you should be playing it. This is where the crux of our podcast theme comes into play, as we discuss whether you should do these things yourself or whether you should hire a pro.

21:12 – Agencies who steal from their customers

How do you know who you can trust when looking to hire online help and how do you decide who to pay when-and-if you do decide to hire someone to help you build your online presence. So many companies claim to know what they are doing and they do a good enough job of making it look like they know what they are doing, but there are a few ways to tell. (We give a few specific resources later in the podcast.) Me? I like to look at what they have done for themselves. Why would you want someone to build you a beautiful web presence when they have not yet done it for themselves.

24:03 – Is there a magical price you have to pay in order to get a good website?

Jerry tells us about a presentation he sat in on once where they said that you have a worthless website unless you spend more than $30,000. We discuss whether there is any merit to that statement or whether it is complete garbage.

25:40 – Vetting the agency

Look at the work. Look for them to be doing for themselves what they say they can do for you.

26:50 – Resources for learning to build an online presence

Hubspot – Visit their website, subscribe to their blogs and get your inbound marketing learn on.

Moz – The online leader for search engine strategy and beautiful content on understanding SEO

Copyblogger – Copy writing for the creative entrepreneur. Tips and advice on writing strong online copy.

29:58 – Paying people what they are worth

It is very easy to overpay when it comes to online advertising, exposure and presence. There is a reason that the people who know what they are doing  charge a lot of money. Sometimes we just trust people who have the storefronts and brick and mortar locations so even though they might not be the best, people seem to trust them to do business.

34:02 – One of the tools I use – Alexa Traffic Rank

Alexa has a chrome widget that I use which allows me to quickly rank each website I explore. It allows we to vet and explore a companies online reach and help you determine whether or not the person you are hiring actually has any real online credibility.

 35:59 – All that matters is what happens when I get to your website

The battle we are seeing with business owners and their attitudes towards the web sometimes. Cost per conversion, online sales are so much less expensive than selling

37:30 – It is a closed store when someone wants to visit

And that is stupid as a business owner. Some of these Buffoons are in big offices, charging lots of money and delivering shit work. Just because someone has a beautiful storefront does not mean they know what they are doing online.

43:10 – The corporate counter culture

What we are seeing as trends in the business world and how the workplace is evolving to a more results only work environment. We are going to lead the charge in changing the way that businesses do business.

47:45 – Jerry Stumbles into my master plan

This was seriously unplanned but after my mini rant, Jerry literally stumbles into my master plan. In a nutshell, he states my vision for Raymmar.com and how we help lead that corporate counter culture and how we can make sure that we are always delivering beautiful products and getting things done. #DoWork

51:10 – Don’t be afraid to try something new

Building an online presence is like tuning a musical instrument more than building a house. It is something that has to be constantly tweaked as opposed to just built once and done. Online collaboration and exploring with content is a smart thing and our final point is talking about trying new things online.

Sometimes showing some of your flaws and making yourself vulnerable can be beneficial in the long run.

 

A History of Social Media & The Future of Politics

The purpose of this article is to explain the social media adoption curve, the growth of the internet as a whole, and to help you understand how it will all affect the American political machine moving forward.

A Brief History of Social Media

Social media is a broad term. Social media websites are quickly becoming the communication hubs for new, digital nations. Nations which are forming all around us right now, without borders or geographic reach. Places where people can come together to interact and engage each other freely, share ideas, and gossip about life.

They have become real time forums for exchanging information, pictures, status updates and even piddly little arguments. And let’s not forget the amount of business that is transacted on the internet each year. They have become a large part of our pop culture and a primary means for the majority of internet users to interact with each other, even from across the globe.

The question then becomes, what will the next evolution of technology and social communication look like, and how will it affect the world around you? And more specifically, for the purpose of this article, how it could affect the next major American election cycle.

As web technology evolves, and the web becomes more interactive, it becomes easier and easier for the average person to get involved and make an impact. For some punk kid like me to come out of nowhere, and reach an audience that was only possible as part of a big boy media network.

This evolution of technology and innovation is empowering the creative class like never before, and it does’t mean that the big boys are going away anytime soon, but it does open the doors for a digital revolution. But for now, back to the topic at hand.

Social Media Adoption Timeline

In order to truly understand the speed at which everything is moving, let’s look at the major milestones in the timeline of social media development over the last 20 years. For more social media stats, click here.

1994

  • More than 1,500 Web servers were online in 1994 and people were referring to the Internet as the Information Superhighway.

1995

1997

  • The Web had one million sites.
  • Blogging begins.
  • AOL Instant Messenger lets users chat.

1998

  • Google opens as a major Internet search engine and index.

2000

  • In the world of business and commerce, the dot.com bubble burst and the future online seemed bleak as the millennium turned.
  • Seventy million computers were connected to the Internet.

2001

  • Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia and world’s largest wiki, was started.
  • This is also the time Apple started selling iPods.

2002

  • Friendster, a social networking website, was opened to the public in the U.S. and grew to 3 million users in three months.
  • AOL had 34 million members.

2003

  • MySpace. another social networking website, was launched as a clone of Friendster.
  • Linden Lab opened the virtual world Second Life on the Internet.
  • LinkedIn was started as a business-oriented social networking site for professionals.
  • There were more than 3 billion Web pages.
  • Apple introduced the online music service iTunes.

2004

  • Facebook, another social networking website, was started for students at Harvard College. It was referred to at the time as a college version of Friendster.
  • MySpace surpassed Friendster in page views.
  • Podcasting began on the Internet.
  • Flickr image hosting website opened.
  • Digg was founded as a social news website where people shared stories found across the Internet.

2005

  • News Corporation, buys MySpace.
  • YouTube began storing and retrieving videos.
  • There were more than 8 billion Web pages.

2006

  • MySpace was the most popular but Facebook would take away that lead later, in 2008.
  • Twitter was launched
  • Facebook membership was expanded and opened to anyone over age 13.
  • Google had indexed more than 25 billion web pages, 400 million queries per day, 1.3 billion images, and more than a billion Usenet messages.

2007

  • Microsoft bought a stake in Facebook.
  • Apple released the iPhone multimedia and Internet smartphone.

2008

  • Facebook surpassed MySpace in the total number of monthly unique visitors. Meanwhile, Facebook tried unsuccessfully to buy Twitter.

2009 

  • Facebook ranked as the most-used social network worldwide with more than 200 million. The site’s traffic was twice that of MySpace.
  • Unfriend was the New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year.
  • By this time It’s estimated that a quarter of Earth’s population used the Internet.
  • Google saw one trillion unique URLs — after eliminating duplicate entries.
  • The Internet had at least 27 billion web pages and could have had as many as 58 billion web pages. They changed so many times a day it was nearly impossible to count.

2010

  • Facebook’s rapid growth moved it above 400 million users,
  • Apple released the iPad tablet
  • The Democratic National Committee advertised for a social networks manager to oversee President Barack Obama’s accounts on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
  • It was estimated the population of Internet users was 1.97 billion. That was almost 30 percent of the global population.
  • This was also the first time the Internet had surpassed newspapers as a primary way for Americans to get news,

2011

  • more than 550 million people on Facebook, 65 million tweets sent through Twitter each day, and 2 billion video views every day on YouTube. LinkedIn has 90 million professional users.
  • Public sharing of so much personal information via social media sites raised concern over privacy.
  • It was estimated Internet users would double by 2015 to a global total of some four billion users, or nearly 60 percent of Earth’s population.

2012

  • Some 2 billion people around the world use the Internet and social media, while 213 million Americans use the Internet via computers while 52 million use the Web via smartphone and 55 million use it via tablets.
  • People also connect to the Internet via handheld music players, game consoles, Internet-enabled TVs and e-readers.
  • The top ten social networks are Facebook, Blogger, Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, MySpace and Wikipedia.
  • More than half of adults 25-34 use social media at the office. Almost a third of young adults 18-24 use social media in the bathroom. All use social networks to stay connected with acquaintances, be informed and be amused.
  • Advertisers look to social “likes” to enhance brand visibility.
  • Facebook reached a billion users in 2012.

The Age of You Tube:

  • YouTube has more than 800 million users each month with more than 1 trillion views per year or around 140 views for every person on Earth.
  • Seventy percent of YouTube traffic comes from outside the U.S.
  • YouTube is local in 43 countries and uses 60 languages.
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute with more than 4 billion hours of video watched each month on YouTube.

2013

  • YouTube topped one billion monthly users with 4 billion views per day
  • Facebook user total climbed to 1.11 billion. 200% growth in 2 years
  • Twitter had 500 million registered users, with more than 200 million active.
  • LinkedIn had 225 million users, while MySpace had 25 million users.
  • Pinterest had 48.7 million users, while WordPress hosted 74 million blogs.
  • Dropbox had more than 100 million users with 1 billion files uploaded daily.
  • Google+ had 343 million users.
  • Reddit had 69.9 million monthly users, with 4.8 billion monthly page views.
  • There were 156 million blogs. Blogs, online videos and podcasts continue to be staples for marketers.

Where do people use social media?

An Australian survey found that as a percentage, social network users logged on…

  • 34% at work
  • 13% at school
  • 18% in the car
  • 44% in bed
  • 7% in the bathroom
  • 6% on the toilet.

Social Networking Fact Sheet

Highlights of the Pew Internet Project’s research related to social networking.

Click here for a link to a current version of these stats and the source for this graphic

As of September 2013 — 73% of online adults use social networking sites

  • 71% of online adults use Facebook
  • 18% of online adults use Twitter
  • 17% use Instagram
  • 21% use Pinterest
  • 22% use LinkedIn

In May 2013, 74% of women were users of social networking sites, compared with 62% of men.

For a detailed demographic portrait of users of various social networking sites please see this recent report, Social Media Update 2013.

Early Adopters & Growth Curve

It is not hard to guess that the earliest of adopters were the 18-29 age segment which is made up mostly of millennials.

Between February 2005 and August 2006, the use of social networking sites among young adult internet users ages 18-29 jumped from 9% to 49%. Social networking site use by age group, over time:

As it stands now, the total percentage of 18-24 year olds who already use social media is at 98%

Mobile Adoption

As social networking sites grow and evolve, so do the means of accessing them.

Mobile phones are quickly replacing desktops and laptops as the primary means of accessing the internet as well as interacting with social media applications. Native iPhone and Android apps make up a large part of direct traffic to each of the major social networks, and many are starting to design their entire experiences with mobile as their number one priority.

A battle for eyeballs which is taking place right in front of our eyes.

40% of cell phone owners use a social networking sites on their phone, and 28% do so on a typical day.

Social-networking-on-mobile-phones

Holy shit! That’s some social growth!

Social media is upon us in full force. Furthermore, as trends continue to develop social media will evolve and become a larger piece of the entire internet culture.

As websites begin to implement more social features and developers find ways to make the process of building social websites easier for the average person, you will see an almost imminent adoption of niche style social networks built around small, targeted interests.

“Instead of lobbying happening in the back rooms in Washington, it will take place all around us.”

Privacy concerns will continue to grow, and security will become an even more important part of our daily internet activity.

Masses will flock to seek shelter from spying governments and over powered online collectors of information such as Google and Facebook.

We are on the precipice of a new economic explosion. One where information dictates your status in society and your ability to control and manage your digital presence is becoming something we all need to worry about.


 

From here forward, I’ll be explaining some of my theories on how all this information will come together in the future, to help you understand the progression of social media and the effect it will have on our entire political system.

Voter demographics

Who votes?

 

Social media is good for online discourse, but in the real world. people who show up have all the power. Something that social media has failed to replicate. At least for now.

That being said, lets look at some voter demographics and find out if the same people that are using social media are actually voting and what conclusions we can draw based on the growth trends of social media and the voter turnout trends over the last 20 years.

Voter turn out by age 

This is a chart illustrating voter turnout by sex and age for the 2008 US Presidential Election. The source is the U.S. Census Bureau. I used the 2008 election because it was the highest voter turnout in the last decade. It also represents the last election before mass adoption of social media and as we discussed already, there were massive disparities between the two sides of the political aisle and their social media adoption rates. Disparities that have grown exponentially since the 2008 election.

Voter Registration vs. Turnout by Age

This chart takes a look at voter registration, turnout, and turnout-of-registered trends across the past four presidential elections in the United States: 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008. The data come from the Current Population Survey and are smoothed to reduce the variability across age due to survey sampling. — source

Voter-registration-and-turnut-by-age

Voter turn out year over year 

A comparison of year over year voter turnout over the last 18 years. The bold text indicates it was a presidential election year.

YEAR VOTING-AGE
POPULATION
VOTER
REGISTRATION
VOTER TURNOUT TURNOUT OF VOTING-AGE 
POPULATION (PERCENT)
2012 240,926,957 NA 130,234,600 57.5
2010 235,809,266 NA 90,682,968 37.8
2008 231,229,580 NA 132,618,580* 62.3 
2006 220,600,000 135,889,600 80,588,000 37.1
2004 221,256,931 174,800,000 122,294,978 60.4
2002 215,473,000 150,990,598 79,830,119 37.0
2000 205,815,000 156,421,311 105,586,274 51.3
1998 200,929,000 141,850,558 73,117,022 36.4
1996 196,511,000 146,211,960 96,456,345 49.1
1994 193,650,000 130,292,822 75,105,860 38.8

Read more about these numbers: National Voter Turnout in Federal Elections: 1960–2010 | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html#ixzz2x0wTNOtb

There was a substantial drop in voter turnout from the 2004 and 2008 elections which is interesting because this correlates with a massive increase in the social media timeline. You can also look at the difference between social media presence between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. Obama had Romney beat by a substantial margin which might have helped demoralize the republicans and decreased their excitement to even vote, feeling that the election was out of their hands already.

I feel like this more than anything was the value of social media in the last few elections. They served more as a demoralization engine, making the other party believe they had already lost. Leave out the arguments about the weak candidates as that theory only increases the effectiveness of poor social strategies. President Obama and the Democrat Party used Social Media flawlessly since its inception and there is much to be learned from them. More than I could ever cover in this short report.

Much like the mainstream media, social media will have to be mastered by any politician hoping to compete on a national stage moving forward. A shift that will leave some of the existing political class a little exposed and scrambling for help on their campaign teams.

Voter confidence levels

Do people still believe in their elected officials?

The american people are absolutely fed up with the federal government. With an insatiable thirst for power and an inability to spend within their means the United States Government has completely lost touch with its citizens and the voter turnouts reflect their lack of confidence. Voter apathy and overall engagement are down because the Amreican people have been beaten into thinking that nothing they do matters. All the decisions are to be made in Washington and the people be damned.

Presidential approval ratings are down, congressional approval ratings are down and most Americans would be ok with throwing all of Washington DC out on their asses. How come no one is talking about term limits for everyone? How come no one is talking about anything drastically different than what we have done to get us up to this point.

No matter how social politics gets, there is no changing anything until engagement and political education as a whole increase across America.

Presidential approval rating over the last 4 years

In this next chart, you can see the timeline of voter confidence in President Barack Obama as determined by ABC’s Voter Confidence Index.

presidential-approval-rating

Congressional approval rating over the last 5 years

This chart shows congressional approval ratings since 2009. The highest they have been at any point since then is 39% which is disgusting in and of itself, even if you do not take into consideration the current low of 13% and the all time low of 9% congressional approval which we set at the end of 2013.

congressional-job-approval

The American People Are Just Fed Up and Tuned Out

The overwhelming majority of America feels that their voice is not making a difference and they have completely tuned out. They are made to feel like they cant make a difference which then creates a self fulfilling prophecy.

By looking at the charts of the social adoption levels by age and comparing them to the average voter demographics you start to see that the majority of younger voters, although involved in social media are not necessarily voting at the same rate. This might lead you to believe that social media is not that effective in swinging a major election but that would make you really wrong.

As you can see by the information below, Barack Obama had an overwhelming advantage over Mitt Romney in regards to social media in general. With this kind of ass kicking online, it is easy to see how much of the voter base for the opposition might have felt defeated already.

 

View original infographice on inc.com

We like to pretend

Because my generation likes to pretend that they are involved, they will share the pretty stuff with their friends. Apparently, we only care about skin deep, so send out a tweet with a cool picture and some catchy words on it and you got us hook line and sinker. No way we might actually care about the meat of the issue, we’ll just forward it on as the truth. Even worse is their assumption that we wouldn’t be able to understand the issue. Maybe that is why they treat us like they do. Maybe we are too stupid to understand, after-all, we do keep making the same mistakes over and over! #GenerationStupid

If you plan on running a successful campaign, either nationally or regionally, you need to master the art of marketing and making effective social connections. Design, messaging and copy-writing are all things that must be part of a strong online campaign in order to have a chance against a social media savvy opponent.

Politics is evolving and so is the battle ground of ideas. As technology creeps into every facet of our lives we will have to fundamentally shift the way we recieve, interact with and are impacted by, information. We are seeing it in all facets of life, and politics will be no different. It just so happens that the people who run the political world are not the ones who run the social sphere… yet.

Politicians need to understand that they should be using the same tactics they would use for a strong inbound marketing campaign. the same concepts that help drive people to take action online are the same tactics that can drive people to the polls. Companies are adopting it by the masses and any politician who wants to have a chance moving forward would be well served to do the same.

The future of Politics 

As we enter into an age of massive information we will see the political playing field be expanded, shifted, morphed and manipulated in ways that we have not even thought about. Well.. maybe you have not thought about it yet but this shit keeps me up at night.

The next few segments will cover my thoughts on the current information age, how it is being used as a political tool and where this road we are on leads us.

We live in an Information Age

In 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt did an interview with Tech Crunch in which he talked about the rate at which we are generating information. The excerpts below give you a taste of what is coming but even this is almost 4 years old.

Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003, according to Schmidt. That’s something like five exabytes of data, he says.

The real issue is user-generated content,” Schmidt said. He noted that pictures, instant messages, and tweets all add to this.

I spend most of my time assuming the world is not ready for the technology revolution that will be happening to them soon,” Schmidt said.

In this article from science daily they tell us that upwards of 90% of all of the worlds data has been generated in the last 2 years.

These numbers are astounding. What this really means is that we are just barely stepping into the world of being able to dissect and understand all of this data. As I mentioned before, businesses, politicians and more importantly governments are all scrambling for ways to collect, understand and exploit the data they are collecting.

Information is the new currency

Related: The Future of Sales: Understanding Information as a Currency

The more information we generate, the more people will scramble to find interesting ways to assemble, analyze and monetize that information. Because of this you will see a whole new world of digital innovation.

We are on the precipice of a technological revolution that will fundamentally change the entire world much like the industrial revolution did. This is not a dot.com bubble or anything else. Inventions will be made from the assembly of massive data sets and artificial intelligence will eventually predict the future.

This is some world changing, god making, human breaking type shit. As we reach a point where technology and humanity collide there will be a fundamental shift in the value and understanding of currency. It will no longer be based on fiat (paper) money, but it will be about the secure exchange of information from one place to another.

Your value to the world will be based on your ability to gather, or produce quantifiable and actionable information. How many data points can they get from you in order to know you more completely. Just like Amazon serves you the products you want, and Google tailors your search results based on your overall browsing patterns, the information you give other people will help them understand you completely. This will in turn lead to them being able to control you completely.

As information becomes more instant, web bots and sophisticated artificial intelligence will become better at predicting large patterns of human behavior. There will be a time where the pulse of the people will be able to be taken in real time. Where crime will be predicted before it is committed and where our individual rights to privacy will be a distant memory as we are video taped, recorded and monitored at an unimaginable pace.

The future of America and politics in a post social media world is an interesting one to say the least. There are many things to learn but the one thing to keep in mind is that it is anyone’s game at this point. It is up to us to decide how we use this technology and whether we let it become part of the status quo, or whether we use it to flip the entire system on its head!

The personalization of politics

As politicians learn to use online relationship building to get closer with their voter base, the need to be more transparency and the ability to hide from your constituents will become more difficult. I see a future of truly transparent politics that will be made possible by technology.

Imagine being able to hold your politicians accountable in real time. Imagine if there was an app that showed you their voting record and allowed you to chart it against their promises. What if you could even immediately give feedback to your elected officials. Imagine really giving the power back to the people by forcing our elected officials to serve the people as opposed to themselves.

As technology evolves and we get better at understanding how to take advantage of this network that is the internet, we will see an evolution in many things. I predict the digital voting debate is not too far around the corner and there are many more evolutions to come.

Right now there are very few people with the budget and infrastructure to take advantage of all of this information. As it becomes more main stream, as the technology evolves, it will allow us to connect and interact like never before. Something that should be as intriguing as it is intimidating.

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Understanding The Buyer Persona; A Guide to Branding Your Business

No matter what stage of business you are in, you should focus on your brand now!

What is your brand?

Find it tough to answer that question?

Your brand is everything.

If you don’t have a well defined brand, purposely thought-out, clearly articulated and wrapped around researched buyer personas, then you have nothing.

If not you should stop what you’re doing instantly and read this article.

In this post I’m going to teach you why you should focus on branding first using sailing as a metaphor. I’ll also link to extremely valuable resources to help you define your brand.

Of course if you’re reading this odds are you’ve already started a business. Maybe you’re like me and you’ve been doing it for years. Does this article still apply to you?

Of course!

Why?

Because you can instantly change the course of your business and choose a direct tack that will lead you where you really want, and need to go.

If you could have another chance at a fresh start with your business it should begin with researching, architecting and building your brand. Though, many entrepreneurs (including yours truly) tend to be the ready, fire, aim type in which case you’ve probably already built a business that works to a certain extent. That’s awesome! I’ll get to you lot in a bit.

So why work on branding first?

Simply put, a brand isn’t just who we are, it’s who we want to become.

A brand is a goal on the horizon. If running a business is sailing a boat on uncharted waters then defining a brand is choosing a rich and abundant port to end your journey.

Without a clearly defined brand you’re destined to spend your seafaring life fighting tropical storms and drifting East and West, lost at sea. When a major wave comes over the bow in the form of a new competitor in your market who is stealing share left and right you won’t know how to respond or why you should in the first place.

After the tumultuous fight is over and you wake up to a red sunrise you know the challenges aren’t over and you’re not even sure why the hell you’re floating out here all alone anyways.

If you’ve felt like this in business then you’re like so many others. The good news is you can actually start this process whenever you like and reap the rewards immediately. Of course the longer you take to define your brand the further out to sea you’re planning to go before finding yourself lost.

Imagine instead you have a clearly defined brand in place. You’ve studied the globe and chosen a rich port in a tropical climate half way around the world. A country where the people will happily take you in, exchange goods with you, entertain you and care for you for the rest of your days.

So how do we get started?

The first step in branding is to clearly define your buyer personas.

Go back to your captains quarters and imagine spinning the globe daydreaming where you’d like to end up. What kind of people do you want to spend your life with as a sailor at port?

These are the people of your personas.

Why should we define personas?

Traditional marketing called for a brand that was simply creative or clever. Something memorable and perhaps cute. Then companies became clever through the guerrilla marketing era and began crafting brands that separated them from their competition, creating a clear gulf.

An example of this is seen during the rise of Intel. Prior to what some of us remember as the Pentium 1, computer microprocessors were named with numbers like 186dx, 286dx, 386dx, etc. At that time there were literally thousands of manufacturers of these processors and they were all scrambling to gain market share. When Intel announced the Pentium 1 processor 90% of the market disappeared seemingly overnight and were never heard from again. That’s the power of a good brand.

The past 60 years has seen the branding geniuses of Ogilvy & Mather and other admen, the tactics of which have been tirelessly played out.

While traditional branding still exists and thrives to this day we have access to deeper amounts of qualitative data on consumers and businesses allowing us to build more detailed profiles than ever before. Now our brands can be made to represent an umbrella that houses multiple personas that are served by the brand.

Ultimately you need personas nowadays if you want to succeed online and furthermore if you’d like a tight and relevant brand.

How do we define personas?

Right now you’re on your home continent unable to do business with this distant culture. So first you need to get in touch with them (carrier pigeon perhaps?) and survey them as a stranger from faraway lands. You need to find out who they are, what they value, what they’re like, what they want and need, what is their day-to-day life like?

These are all elemental questions in buyer persona development.

You shouldn’t start by asking your existing clients and customers these questions, because they’re right here lost at sea with you. If you just want more of this lost at sea business then define your personas that way, but seldomly will those who are lost provide good direction.

Instead you should start by surveying people who you think would buy from you, but whom don’t know you and aren’t familiar with your brand. These are the people in this rich port across the blue.

The reason you want people who don’t know you is because they’ll give you the most accurate descriptions of what they value, their pain points, triggers, contentions, etc.

I’m very interested in the work of Adele Revella at Buyer Persona Instituteas a consultative body for defining buyer personas. Their process for defining personas seems to be the most comprehensive, sophisticated and thoughtful while remaining very accessible in a world rife with industry jargon.

We’re currently sending clients to them for consulting and pursuing certification as buyer persona consultants ourselves.

Their 5 Rings Of Buying Insight™ methodology is bulletproof for defining personas and without getting into too much detail they are as follows:

· Priority Initiatives: Why do some buyers choose solutions like yours and why are some buyers happy with the status quo?

· Success Factors: What specific results do these buyers expect to see from buying your solution?

· Perceived Barriers: Why do your buyers think your solution won’t work for them?

· Buyer’s Journey: What details does a buyer consider throughout the process of deciding on a solution like yours and where are they impacted in this process?

· Decision Criteria: What does your buyer consider to be the most important elements about your competition’s offering and what are their expectations for each element?

If you learn by example then take their Example Buyer Persona and replace the info in each section with your own. Here are some more example buyer personas from Inbound Marketing software behemoth HubSpot.

For surveying your audience it’s best (not to use carrier pigeons) to use a manual process such as finding 3-5 people that might buy from you and asking for a detailed interview.

If you’re unable to easily track down a few people that you think may buy from you, or if you’d like a larger data sample then it’s possible to use a survey tool such as Ask Your Target Market (AYTM) to do the heavy lifting and sourcing participants in your survey.

Heck, you could even try Google Surveys, but I’m not as familiar with their ability to handle non-consumer related panels.

We’ll be using surveys later in the process of further defining our brand so keep those handy.

Once you’ve taken the time to develop your own personas, it’s time to craft brand messaging around those personas.

How do we start building a brand identity and messaging?

Now that you know a few things about these people from far away you understand they’re an entire culture. We just have to figure out where exactly we need to go to meet them, and what specifically we need to bring.

To do this I recommend starting your brand research with a SWOT analysis or Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats.

If you’ve ever sailed (or seen Captain Phillips), then you know the captain and the crew perform ship-wide inspections before leaving port. Everyone on the ship checks every part to make sure there is no crack, no broken jib or pirate gate that could pose a threat. All the engines, rudders, sails and lines need to be carefully checked to make sure there are no weaknesses. The team is assembled and assigned parts of the ship where theirstrengths can be leveraged. Maps are drawn out and weather patterns are scanned to determine opportunities for smooth and fast sailing.

How do we do a SWOT analysis?

So as in a ship ready for maiden voyage, you need to assemble every member of your company in a completely open discussion with dry erase boards, Internet access for quick fact-checking and reference, and plenty of time to cover all the bases. Then begin the SWOT analysis checking for each of the following:

· Strengths: These are internal elements that give you a competitive edge. Always compare strengths against competitors apples to apples, not your recent improvements to previous states of the company. Anywhere you’re perceived as outpacing a competitor is considered a strength. Examples of strengths may be highly unique talent in the design department versus boring designers in your niche, or a negotiator on your team who happens to speak multiple languages.

· Weaknesses: Call on the most negative and critical person at your company for weaknesses. I jokingly say negative because I’m an optimist to a fault. So in many cases someone’s just being realistic when I call them negative. You don’t need an optimist to point out your weaknesses, they’ll take it too easy on you. Examples of weaknesses may be a shoddy customer service department for a fast growing company, or a failing infrastructure due to poor maintenance protocols.

· Opportunities: This is where an optimist can shine. We’re looking for temporal or time-related opportunities where agile decision making is key. If a gap opens up for a moment this serves as an opportunity. Intel seized the opportunity to name the first microprocessor something memorable and push the hell out of it. From our sailing allegory, consider this the man in the crow’s nest looking for tailwinds to push us in the right direction.

· Threats: Threats are just the opposite of opportunities. Again think of a person in the crow’s nest looking for icebergs and storm clouds ahead. Examples of threats may be a declining trend in proprietary technology such as Sony Memory Sticks, or environmental factors that wreak havoc on your company such as floods or tornadoes, also strong competition from larger brands or low price competitors.

The SWOT analysis exposes all the hidden details about our business and brand and allows us to lay all the cards on the table in front of our company internally. If you’re truly forward-thinking about your management style you’ll then allow your team to start addressing all of these issues by giving them autonomy to be creative and find a fun solution for each one.

Now you know where your company is positioned in the market and you can begin crafting your brand messaging around your persona’s and your SWOT analysis.

How de we define the brand?

There are ultimately 5 steps that will lead us to a well defined, bullet-proof brand. You’ll hear them called all kinds of different things and we have our own sexy name for them, but they pretty much work the same way no matter who you ask. When faced with a difficult question in each of the 5 steps below, reference your Buyer Personas established in the previous steps to find good answers:

· Vision Statement: The Vision Statement describes that port on the distant horizon. This is what you want your company to become in the future. Ultimately this should be one sentence long and not explain howthe vision will be met, we’ll get to that in a bit. What are your most important products and services and which ones will you never sell? What is unique about doing business with you and how will people describe your business? Where do you want to be in 5 years?

Here are some example Vision Statements:

San Diego Zoo will become a world leader at connecting people to wildlife and conservation.

NPR with it’s networks of independent member stations, is America’s pre-eminent news institution.

Smithsonian is shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world.

· Mission Statement: The Mission Statement is defined as the purpose of the company. Mission statements should be simple, clear and concise.Don’t use industry jargon and focus on motivating people inside and outside the company. What are the specific market needs for the company to answer and what does the company do to answer them? What guiding principles define our approach?

Here’s a great example Mission Statement from Google:

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

· Essence: The essence is the intangible parts of your company that you want people to feel when they do business with you. The essence of the company should typically be defined with one word. What do people experience when they interact with your offering? Check out this great deck on the 9 Criteria For Brand Essence.

Example essences from a great HubSpot article include:

Volvo = safe
Disney = magical
Lamborghini = exotic

· Personality: This is what makes a brand really human. Personality is all about the behavior of a brand. This can be difficult as there can be too many characteristics you’d like to consider, but try to keep it simple. Think, are you smart and helpful? Are you polite and curtious? Are you deep and creative? Are you fun and easy-going?

· Unique Selling Proposition: The USP (Value Proposition or Brand Positioning Statement) is probably the most important part of the brand identification process. You’ll want to keep it down to a sentence or two that clearly describes your offering’s unique value and how it benefits your personas. This statement should define the audience, category of brand, offering benefit, differentiate brand from competition, and confidently assert the brand will deliver on it’s promise.

Consider the following for your USP; Whom are you speaking? (think persona) What market segment does your offering benefit? What’s your brand promise (rational and emotional) What makes your brand different and why should your personas care?

Here are some examples of good Value Propositions:

CampaignMonitorEmail marketing software for designers and their clients.

BaseCampEasy cloud project management software for companies.

How do we put it all together?

The final part is to put all of this together in a way that makes sense and works seamlessly across your marketing media.

I recommend creating a single Branding Guidelines PDF document that has all of your personas and branding work in the order we built it here. Then share this document with everyone in your company to make it absolutely clear what your company is and does. These are the captain’s orders.

Through the process of designing your logo, you’ll pull from this document and actually add to it once the logo is finished.

When designing your new site, you’ll be better able to architect content and map out pages because you’ll be trying to aim content at your individual personas and you’ll use your brand messaging to answer their needs in the most concise way.

When creating ads you’ll be targeting specific pain points for your personas and you’ll be able to segment campaigns to your various different personas.

Blog articles can be written to answer concerns your personas may have and bring down their barriers to entry.

As you’re sailing across the wild blue yonder you’ll notice that when challenges come up like new competition or outside threats, just hold your bearings true with your branding and personas and focus on your customer’s needs and you’ll be able to pull through.

Over time, your brand may need small revisions just like a rudder needs frequent adjustments to steer the ship straight. Before you know it you’ll feel the heat of foreign latitudes, hear the sound of unfamiliar sea birds and commerce bustling in the port of your dreams. Your business will then become what you once imagined it to be.


This article is a deep dive on the topic of branding originally covered in Who Wants A Powerful Inbound Marketing Plan For Free?


Jeremiah Smith runs SimpleTiger, an Inbound Marketing agency focused on helping businesses grow on the web through lean, simple marketing.

They specialize in SEO, content marketing and driving conversions through your site. Hit recommend below and follow me on Twitter

How To Implement An Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy; For Free!

Inbound Marketing is a loaded term, and it’s expensive as hell. I’m going to unload it for you for free.

Read the original article here

Do you want a simple Inbound Marketing plan?

Why not learn a perfect plan first before paying a dime for help?

In this post I’m going to pour out the same plan I’ve told countless clients while they were insisting on just an SEO campaign. I’m going to show you how simple it really is to craft a bullet proof Inbound Marketing plan that almost any business can do on almost any budget and how SEO is really just one part of the process.

I’ll follow this outline in this specific order which is important if you want it to work correctly:

  • Brand Messaging
  • Developing Personas
  • Analysis, Research & Goal Setting
  • Getting Traffic
  • SEO & How It Fits
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Networking

Brand Messaging

It all starts with your offering.

Good branding should be done at the offering level. Let’s take your offering and wrap it in a message that people can understand.

The key to good brand messaging is to keep it simple, stupid.

There are 2 rules to branding;

  1. Be clear, not clever.
  2. Be different, not better.

You’ll never be the best so get off of it. And what the hell am I buying from you? Honestly. Just tell me. Don’t beat around the bush or try to woo me.

Branding in 2 rules:
Clear, not clever.
Different, not better.

Be ruthlessly clear and different in every way you can. No one should be able to out you, you. How about you buy this weight loss pill, it’s the best and it’s shaped like a diamond! No go? Ok, how about you buy this weight loss pill, it’s the only one that normalizes irregular hormones so you’ll burn fat safely. I just made that up. Don’t buy weight loss pills, silly.

To make an elephant statue from a single block of marble you simply cut away what isn’t the elephant. So in your branding, cut away what doesn’t matter and leave only what truly does.

Developing Personas

Now you need personas.

So what is a persona and how does it work?

A persona is a marketing concept for a grouping of people in your target audience that share the same marketing characteristics. For instance, a large portion of your audience may be C level executives at large corporations that have a pain point of financial trust, or middle managers at ad agencies that need creative help.

You need someone you’re pretending to tell your story to. Behind that persona is real people who we’ll be talking directly to later.

When you’re defining your personas I recommend naming them something memorable. For example; Jaded Jessica the ad agency middle manager who’s jaded because they don’t have a creative solution to offer their clients. Or Timid Tim, the CEO of a major corporation who needs a financial planner he can fully trust.

Grab this worksheet and fill it out for each different persona you might sell to. This is what it looks like:

Personas can be as simple or as complex as your offering and the pain points it addresses.

How many personas should you have?

I recommend no less than 3 personas.

If you have 3, then those are your 3 customers. That’s it. Think about them when you do anything for your business. How will it help them specifically?

Why 3? It’s a good number.

For real though, if you just have two you’ll notice through an 80/20 analysis that one means more than the other and you’ll end up focusing on one persona.

What happens if that persona no longer needs what you have?

If you’ve diversified your personas then you’ll always have someone who can use what you have.

Analysis, Research & Goal Setting

Let’s setup analytics on your site.

Which analytics platform should you use?

You’ve got optionsTons of them.

Just make sure it can track goals and specific events. We’ll call these conversions throughout the site.

Let’s say that again: Conversions

Set them up on your site so you can track progress on what works and what doesn’t. I recommend monitoring contact form submissions, purchase links, download links, anything of value. These are all conversions.

Landing Pages
Setup some landing pages on your site, at least one for each persona. Whether you’re using WordPress, SquareSpace, or some other CMS, you should be able to create landing pages on your site. If not, or if you just don’t want the technical hassle, do your self a favor and get an Unbounceaccount. You can create lot’s of amazing landing pages and get super nerdy with ‘em.

Unbounce is hands-down my favorite tool for building landing pages regardless of what site platform you’re on.

Once you’ve created said landing pages you need to have contact forms on them and set conversion metrics (e.g. goals) in your analytics platform. The contact form not only offers opportunities for your sales pipeline, but it should also subscribe new users to a lead nurturing program. Lead nurturing is just pedantic jargon for an email marketing campaign. Setup a MailChimp account and nag up to 2,000 people monthly with your emails for free, dude.

If you need a more involved platform there are marketing automation tools such as HubSpotMarketoPardotEloqua and I’m sure many more to follow. Most of these don’t just do email, but landing pages, conversion forms, CTAs, analytics, blogs, CMSs, the whole nine yards.

I recommend taking your product or service offering and writing your best sales pitch into a simple ebook or PDF document that’ll sit behind your contact form. When I say sales pitch I really just mean if you could only get one customer and you had to give them everything in order to get that one sale, give it to them. Don’t schmooze them with silly gimmicks. I mean sell to them like you sell to a bored teenager in today’s Netflix, DVR, Twitter, ad-less, 1 second load-time impatiensphere.

Your PDF should speak to the persona by answering each one of their major pain points, or contentions about your product/service/industry.

Finally, it should offer a gentle nudge in the right direction, a CTA if you will. (CTA = Call To Action)

Buy Some Traffic

Now that we’ve got our personas targeted with landing pages and answers to their problems, let’s bring in some people who fit those personas.

Though I’ve been “doing” SEO over 8 years, I highly recommend you start with an AdWords campaign. Even more so now that Google (not provided) is among us.

Trust me, you don’t want to invest 6-9 months and tens of thousands of dollars in genius content creation and social network back-and-forth, link building efforts, etc. only to find out the keywords you targeted don’t convert.

It’s better to spend a couple thousand dollars and a month or so to find out specifically which keywords will bring you sales. You should run ads to get enough clicks so that you close a few conversions from your site. Then track down the source of those conversions in your analytics and focus all efforts on those few keywords, ad-copy variations, etc.

Go back to your landing page solution and run some A/B tests on design variations. If you’re not using something sweet like HubSpot or Unbounce then sign up for Optimizely and generate multiple versions of your landing pages without knowing jack about code.

Optimizely offers idiot proof CRO and A/B testing.

Optimize your ad campaigns by bringing them from either broad to phrase, or phrase to exact match if you’re getting plenty of traffic, or the other way around if you’re not getting enough traffic. Also, run a negative keywords query report to find any BS keywords you need to exclude from showing your ad. This’ll drop your average CPC. There are lot’s of other things you can do to optimize your AdWords campaigns as well including:

Lowering your ad position to decrease CPC. This one is often overlooked as people tend to think you should be #1 but it can cost 10x more to be there for not 10x more clicks.

Launch a remarketing campaign and install the script on your site to bring back visitors who may have forgotten about you.

Optimize your landing pages from an SEO perspective in order to increase your Quality Score and lower CPC. We’ll get into a little more SEO stuff shortly. 😉

Now you’re probably wondering “Jeremiah, you just recommended buying ads, but I thought this article was about Inbound Marketing!” Well spank you for asking helpy helperton! The type of ads I’m recommending are only on search engines and only after people have searched for keywords that are directly relevant to your business. This means they’re ultimately Inbound.

SEO — How It Fits

There’s really no voodoo to SEO anymore.

Back in the day I’d tweak a few title tags and watch my clients roll in cash.

Not really, but it used to be a lot easier than it is now. Now you have to be totally legitimate if you want to win. There’s no quick and easy way, but there are shortcuts. I’ll get into some of those in a bit.

SEO nowadays is pretty much made up of three major buckets, each representing a different weight to the search engines:

Onsite Technical = ~25% of the search algorithms but if your site isn’t crawlable or accessible to the engines then it should be 100% of your concern. No amount of further optimization or marketing will save you from your site being completely inaccessible to the engines. Stroll over to WooRank and give your site a quick once-over. They’ll list a few major technical issues on your site and a few ways to address them. This should never be a replacement for a quality technical site audit from a company like mine. 😉 But it’s a great place to check for free and quickly.

Onsite Content & Usability =~25% of the search algorithms look at content for relevance meaning anything from text and blog articles to videos, images, ebooks, web apps, etc. We’ll dive into the world of content momentarily. The delivery of that content is increasingly important. Search engines can see how people use your website and determine whether or not your users are having a good experience. Engines will reward those sites with good usability with high rankings. Think Amazon or Wikipedia.

Offsite Everything Else =~50%+ of the remaining search algorithm and that + means it’s increasing. If you think about it, the first half of the equation; onsite technical, content and usability can all be easily controlled and manipulated. But building inbound links from relevant trusted domains and getting original followers to share and mention your brand on the various social networks is much harder to manipulate. That’s why it’s so important to the algorithms. The best part about this difficult element is that if you build the best content you can find, they will link and share it.

Invest In The Best Content You Can Find

When I say the best content you can find I’m putting an emphasis on “find”. In the end, we’re going to create good content that people on social networks will be happy to share, search engines will be happy to promote and your target personas will find.

People will “bubble up” whatever they’re interested in and they find valuable on social networks. That’s exactly what Google wants too. They want to know what we’re talking about and what we like.

Now that we know our target personas, what keywords those personas are using to drive sales due to our ad campaigns, we know our landing pages convert into leads, and our site is well optimized for search, it’s time to start building some content to bring traffic in from organic and social sources.

Where should you start building quality content?

I recommend looking at your sales process first. What are some of the questions everyone seems to ask about your offering or industry? Chances are there are more people that have those same questions. You should answer them with a blog article.

Conversion Rate Expertshelped SEOmoz jack up their revenue by breaking down Rand Fishkin’s bulletproof sales process into one long landing page.

Then when someone asks that question online in the form of a search query (which more people are doing now than ever before proven byHummingbird’s Conversational Search) odds are they’ll find your post.

There are so many opportunities to write about your offering. For starters, get a stranger who truly doesn’t care about your business to critique it for you. Write down everything that comes to mind, you’ll find a list of blog articles.

There’s definitely a science to writing effective headlines and you should start your blog articles there. Why? They make a promise the article needs to keep. You’ll find it easier to stay on track with a good headline leading you, and readers will be more likely to look for that promise to be fulfilled by reading your post.

Write a long list of headlines and consider each of those a new blog article. Then come up with ways to argue against some of the headlines you’ve started, or maybe dive deeper into specific elements of each article with a new article.

The goal here is to completely cover every area of your business with information unique to you and answering the problems of your personas.

Part of this content process can actually take us back to our PDF we created before. Maybe by now we have all kinds of interesting info we can add to it. Beef that page count up and pitch it on your landing pages and ads as “37 Pages On Home Energy Savings” for example.

One of my favorite ideas is after you feel your blog has exhausted a topic, take all the articles on that topic and reformat them into a big sexy PDF document. Now pitch this to your email subscribers with a new landing page built specifically for this document and topic.

Hang Out With People On Social Networks

Don’t go try to lock down every damn social network, spreading yourself thin. Odds are your target users are only in a couple places. If it’s Twitter, then go to Twitter. If it’s LinkedIn, go to LinkedIn. You may not know for sure at first, try them all until you do know. But at some point, you’ll realize there’s one or maybe two social networks that really bring you the most quality traffic, sales, influence, content shares, etc. Maybe you get content shares on Twitter, but sales on FaceBook. Tweak your strategy to reflect this reality.

Ultimately, the best way to choose the one or two social networks you really need to be on is to find out which ones you like the most. It’s not rocket surgery.

If you like Twitter more than any other network odds are you’ll participate on Twitter more than any other network. If you really don’t care then survey some people that fit your personas and ask them what social networks they look at most for business related stuff. Keep in mind, just because I use FaceBook 32 times a day doesn’t mean I want to see SEO solutions there. I keep it personal on FaceBook and Twitter is more business for me.

Now that you’ve found your target network(s), what’s next?

I can’t tell you how many clients I work with that don’t have their Twitter bio filled out, or they’re using the default background and theme colors. Twitter literally gives you an inbound link in your bio, just type in your URL and it links it. It may not be an SEO friendly direct link, but it makes it easier for your followers to jump over to your site.

Fill out your Twitter bios! You won’t believe how many people don’t realize it can link to any site you want, just type in the URL!

Jab Jab Jab

Take it from Vaynerchuk; jab jab jab right hook.

A right hook in boxing is often the finishing move, but it’s made up of a series of well placed and timed jabs beforehand. If you just go in throwing right hooks you leave yourself open for a simple takedown from your opponent. The same is true in social networks. If you stumble in like a cocain charged sales junky hocking your shit at everyone they’ll make you look so stupid your brand will be tarnished and you’ll lose followers.

Say fun human stuff, be a normal person, link to something silly then share something important that you want to promote. Chit chat chit and then ask for help.

I totally recommend Gary Vee’s new book
Jab Jab Jab Right Hook

Think about it like this; you walk into a Starbucks and without making eye contact with your barista or even saying “hi” you just place your order. Sure you’ll probably get your order and be happy with it (if you even know what happiness is you antisocial dick.)

But what if instead you looked right at her and said “Hey there! How’s your day going so far?”, you’ll get a response and after 10 seconds of totally innocent banter you ask “What do you recommend?”. Sure you may know what you want to order already, but take a step outside your little comfort zone and find you might enjoy something different. The best part is the next time you come to this place, she’ll probably remember you.

That’s how social networks operate. They give you a chance to get outside your comfort zone, talk to real humans like a real human, learn something, share something, and grow with your community.

If a blog is a place for a business to let it’s proverbial hair down, then a social network is a porch for you to sit on with a beer and holler at your neighbors that stroll by.

Right Hook

Now your strategy can’t be all jabs. At some point you’re going to have to land a right hook.

Jabs are short, simple and repetitive, light impact. Right hooks are long, fully invested and should be well thought out and crafted before executed.

This is where you start to push your own blog articles, videos, ebooks, guides, web apps, calculators, tools, landing pages, etc. You answer people’s questions in short form on social networks and back up your answers with links to long form answers on your blog.

One of my role models Tim Ferriss is very good at delivering strong right hooks when he needs them. He has his audience so enraptured by what he says that when he asks for something we chomp at the bit to help him out.

Tim Ferriss delivering knock-out right hooks to a thriving audience.

For example; Tim will promote a book he truly likes and believes in on his own site where he gets a kickback of all sales. He’ll promote a startup that he’s invested in by recommending it to people who are looking to learn French for example.

An interesting thing to note here is that he’s helping himself by helping others more.

Once you deliver that right hook and give someone a link to one of your pieces of content or ask them to do something for you, switch back to jabs. Don’t bludgeon the shit out of your personas with right hook after right hook or they’ll delete you.

Every time you post a new blog article, carefully construct your right hook. Think about social proofs, psychological triggers, promises you can make with the least amount of words, etc.

Conclusion

Now you’ve gone through the entire process of building an Inbound Marketing campaign.

But wait…

Remember that landing page we created a while back? Well now it needs to be optimized a bit more to see if we can get more conversions from all this traffic we’re bringing in.

But once you’ve optimized your landing pages, you notice they don’t fully match your site anymore. Time for a quick UI redesign on your site.

But through the site redesign process a few technical issues have cropped up that need SEO attention.

While looking at your analytics for SEO indicators of performance you notice some interesting new search queries you haven’t seen before. This leads you to create some new content ideas!

Now you have more to share with your audience of followers who are all sliding down your funnel.

You’ll realize about Inbound Marketing that it’s a cycle that needs attention on an ongoing basis, and you’ve built the foundation. Just rinse and repeat.

Enjoy!


I run SimpleTiger, an Inbound Marketing agency focused on helping businesses grow on the web through lean, simple marketing.

We specialize in SEO, content marketing and driving conversions through your site.

If this post helped you out, good, those are my jabs. Now here comes the right hook:

Hit recommend below and follow me on Twitter!

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