Here’s How to Cut Your MozCon Travel Costs by Half

Posted by BeardedMarketer


Marta Turek speaking at Mozcon 2015

When it comes to digital marketing conferences, the choices are overwhelming.


From Minnesota to Austin, Seattle, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Europe, and Asia, there seems to be an event nearly every week of the year.


To me, one conference stands out as not your typical marketing conference: MozCon.


Every July, for three days, 1,500 people from across the globe descend upon Seattle for the event.


When I speak with colleagues, I hear over and over how they avoid attending conferences in general because of the cost. From conference ticket to airfare to hotel accommodations, the expenses can add up quick. And if you’re a small agency owner (like me), a freelancer, or just a dedicated digital marketer footing their own bill, every expenditure matters and resources are eternally limited – myself included.


So after attending MozCon 2014 and spending more than $3,000, including the event ticket, I figured there had to be a better way.


And there is…


In the last two years I’ve been able to dramatically trim the cost of attending MozCon, and most of the tactics I use can be used for any event.


Small steps, big savings

Event tickets: One of the biggest expenses for attending conferences is the event ticket. Simply put, there is no replacement for early planning. Whether it’s MozCon, ComicCon, or a Beyoncé concert, early-bird pricing is typically available and can result in substantial savings.


For MozCon, specifically, the biggest savings can be had by taking advantage of super early bird pricing: $599; early bird pricing: $799; or becoming a Moz Pro Subscriber: $999.


Bottom line, book early.


Lodging: Seattle is an expensive city to travel to. While the public transportation makes getting around a breeze, finding a hotel to rest your head on for a reasonable rate can be a seemingly insurmountable task.


There are other options.


In the last 18 months, I’ve become the biggest fanboy for Airbnb. With a little bit of research and due diligence, you can find a shared room, a private room, or in my case an entire home to rent, and (surprisingly enough) at rates far more affordable than a hotel room.


I’ll break down my exact costs for the trip below, but I was able to secure an Airbnb just a few miles from the convention center for significantly less per night than the cost of the host hotels. Additionally, when I factoring in the cost of catching an Uber each morning and afternoon, I was still spending far less per day than had I stayed at one of the host hotels.


Want to lower your housing costs even further? Find a two or three bedroom Airbnb and split it with 1–2 roommates, which is exactly what I did. (Check the Capitol Hill, First Hill, Squire Park, & Hilltop neighborhoods, which are all fairly close and offer lots of options.)


Airfare: I’m not going to pretend for a second that I’m some sort of amazing travel agent or have some sweet algorithm that helps me get the lowest airfare prices and deals. But I am smart enough to know that, like conference ticket prices, it pays to get airfare well in advance.


Quick life hack: Google’s flight booking system is awesome in the fact that it will show you the cost of flying in/out at multiple dates/times so you can save yourself significant money by flying out at a less desirable time, like 7:30am on a Sunday morning like I did.


If you have flexibility, traveling during some “off” hours can pay huge dividends in flight savings.


How much money I saved (and you can, too)

Here’s (my first) 2014 MozCon travel expenses:

    • Conference Ticket: $1,000 (Eds. note: $999)
    • Hotel: $1,500
    • Airfare: $500
    • Total: $3,000

For comparison sakes, here’s the 2015 travel expenses:

    • Conference Ticket: $800 (Eds. note: $799)
    • Airbnb: $400 (my share)
    • Airfare: $320
    • Total: $1,520

Expenses for 2016, so far:

    • Conference Ticket: $599
    • Airbnb: $642 (Sunday–Thursday)
    • Airfare: $260
    • Total: $1,502

And if you’re asking me, having an apartment/house is a huge upgrade compared to any standard hotel room. Add in the fact that our Airbnb has a rooftop deck and balconies off every bedroom and the living room, and it’s nearly incomprehensible to me why anyone would stay in a hotel room.


Best part, I just booked my Airbnb and flights last week, which means there’s still one to two weeks to take advantage of the timing window and reap significant savings.

Another resource worth perusing: The Positive ROI of Conferences: A Deep Look at #MozCon

Get in your boss’s ear

Want to win your bosses appreciation? Come to her with the cost breakdown similar to what I highlight above, and you’re sure to have helped your cause. I bet your pitch on attending MozCon, or whatever event you endeavor to attend, converts a little better.


Find me at the MozCrawl, Ignite, or the Garage Party, because every dollar saved is one more dollar for cocktails.


Care to share any ideas you have for saving money when traveling to events?


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What You need to Know About Managing Your Reputation

Some failed organization owners have realized too late the difficult way in terms of adverse critiques impacting their firm. There is certainly a brand new methodology that is definitely assisting company’s obtain far more control more than their on the internet critiques and it is called Reputation Marketing. This article has tricks to assist you in constructing a good reputation and keeping customer loyalty.


Make sure you are a personable on the web. Posting social media messages is worthless for those who communicate actively with your fans. Answer any concerns which can be asked of you; do this as quickly as you possibly can.For those who do not know the answer to a question, inform them that you’re functioning on discovering the answer.


Many folks falter with this, which can cause severe consequences. If people find out your not a superb employer, plenty of individuals are not going to complete company with you.


Hold any private promotional solutions private. This tip may be specially vital if a deep discount to address a problem is involved. You do not want unscrupulous people wanting to get free stuff from you.


You’ll find businesses that are trusted and may enable you to with reputation management. You may certainly have to keep hands-on with this, so it is actually understandable when you will need an outside enterprise to do this for you personally.


You are going to obtain far more prospects when your client base grows. You have to address them inside the suitable way.


You could possibly really feel anger if you see one thing undesirable about your enterprise. It can be best to remain calm and address the accusations straight. Readers can then make a judgement get in touch with according to both sides.


You might have to definitely be operating to set reachable expectations of one’s buyers. This means getting sincere when dealing with your consumers and handling any errors adequately. Becoming transparent in business can take you a extended way towards success.


By no means cover up errors that come about at your business may have created. Your shoppers are also sensible for issues like that. Many of the time, shoppers will forgive mistakes, specifically if they get some thing in return.


Be really careful of all the facts that you just pick to share online. You in no way understand how it will be made use of later, so watch out. Even though you only possess a small quantity of men and women visiting your social media web pages, you ought to nonetheless be cautious.


This is component of providing sturdy customer service. Once you let a buyer to create a return, you might lose money for the reason that it’s not possible to resell a applied item as new.


Make sure you understand how to manage your strain management techniques. Play sports or participate in some other activity to assist you keep your head on straight. Do not get baited into flame war. This can tarnish your reputation terribly.


Do not rush when defending your organization. Be certain that you just totally comprehend what has been mentioned ahead of responding. Look up the facts to back up the point of view. When present details inside a experienced manner, you make a strong online reputation for credibility and know-how.


Maintaining a reputation in good standing is quite critical towards the accomplishment of a small business. It might take years to establish your self within your community, so use the tips above to assist that procedure. Be proactive and do all you’ll be able to to maintain your online reputation stellar. Your prompt consideration to negative matters will win consumers more than before they get extra steamed.

PB134: How to Decide if You Should Start on a New Social Network or Medium

How to Decide if a New Social Network or Medium is Right for You


Today I’m going to help you decide if you should start on that new social network or that new medium like a podcast or a YouTube channel.


As bloggers, we are constantly bombarded with choice as to how we can spend our time. There is an unlimited amount of things we could be doing to support our blogs, but not all of them are right for us.




I am going to go through some areas where we can ask questions to determine where we really should focus our energy.


Today, I received an email from a reader who was wondering if they should get on facebook live. It’s an emerging medium that many bloggers have been experimenting with.


This is a very common email that I get. People are wondering if they should get on different social networks or take advantage of new mediums.


In Today’s Episode Is It Right for My Audience, My Content and for Me?


My Audience?


Note: Listen to todays episode on iTunes here

    • Is my audience there? Obvious example – LinkedIn is a great place if you’re wanting to reach a more business focused niche. (survey to find out)
        • Not just where do they have accounts but also:
            • where are they most active
            • what are they using it for? (catching up with friends, research, sharing links etc)
            • How long do they stay there?
            • People’s intent and habits are important and will inform how you should use it but also if it’s right for you.
                • For example – we noticed a lot of our readers use FB to share photos – so we started a FB group purely for photo sharing.
                • If your readers are on a network more for personal reasons it could be a signal that it’s not a great place to sell. Rather – take a more conversational tone.
                • If your readers are there to search for info – treating it as a Search Engine – then it might be a good place to be posting reviews, news, how to content.
        • Are others in my niche using it?
            • If so – how and with what results?
            • If not – is there a reason (which might signal that it’s a place to avoid) or an opportunity?
            • How much work does it take them?
            • Do they use systems/automation?
            • Are they around the clock or just certain hours?
            • Are there certain techniques that they use that get results or that don’t?
            • If you can ask someone that’s probably best – but you can learn a lot by observing what they do. Follow the biggest in your niche and see what they’re doing. What is working that you could emulate but what isn’t being done that you could try?
    • Is the network/medium trending up or down? Is it a good time to position yourself for a mainstream audience.

My Content?

      • Does it suit my topic?
          • eg in the photography space we need to engage in networks and mediums that are visual. Blogging, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, FB, G+ in its day, Twitter etc – but to this point I’ve avoided podcasting as it doesn’t seem as natural a fit (although there are successful photography ones that talk gear or video ones that do well that talk technique).
          • Eg ProBlogger we’re talking more about concepts, ideas, techniques that don’t require visuals, so podcasting suits more for some – although there are some things that are easier to show with a screenflow video, a webinar etc.
    • Does it suit the the style/voice of content I produce?
      • Eg – I teach people – which lends itself to some networks and mediums better than others. I think it’s a good fit for podcasting.
      • Eg – dPS is very visual so we’ve invested more time into Instagram. It also lends itself to longer form content as we produce a lot of tutorials which is why our blog is the main thing we do.
    • Can I repurpose the content I create on the new network/medium in some way to make the investment of time I put into it doubly valuable?
        • Eg – video you create on FB Live could end up on Youtube or you could pull the audio from it to put into your podcast or you could transcribe it and then embed it to your blog….
    • Am I creating content somewhere else that I could repurpose for this new thing?
        • Eg – could I use articles I’ve previously written as the basis for a slideshare or for a podcast or for a video?

For Me?

    • Does it suit my style of presenting? Do I naturally enjoy it? Am I good at it? Do you feel energized by doing it?
    • Does it fit with my current goals? (what is the priority for you right now. Finding new audience? Building Community? Developing a product? Pivoting topic? Some networks will help you do these things more effectively than others.
        • Eg – if you’re just starting a blog you probably are in a phase where you need more eyeballs so it might make sense to engage in some of the new networks where there is less competition from the big players and where you can really stand out. For example, I saw a lot of people really establish themselves by being early adopters on Periscope and SnapChat.
        • Others who might be more established might need to really buckle down and focus more energy on building engagement with the readers that they have. So it might make sense to put all your efforts into other activities like creating a product, membership area, newsletter etc rather than to start on a new network.
    • Can you leverage the new thing to build your home base? Ultimately, the sustainability of your business hinges not on what you do in the short term on the social networks you’re on, but on whether you can hook people into a long term relationship. For me, that’s about getting people onto our email list. Some networks and mediums are easier to do this from than others. I’ve personally had less success doing this from Instagram than I have from the Podcast for example.
      • Do I have time/energy for the new thing?
          • If no – would I outsource or automate it (either the new thing or something else to free up time)?
              • If it doesn’t take your personal interaction for it to be successful you could train someone to help you run it – you may not even need to be involved at all or could minimize the work.
                  • Podcast editing.
                  • I know of numerous bloggers whose Instagram accounts are not even touched by them.
                  • Using a tool like Meet Edgar I run one of my FB pages and supplement my Twitter account.
    • What would I have to stop doing to start it?
    • Can I afford to play there?
        • Some networks (the more established ones particularly) are in a stage in their own life stage where you need to pay to reach the audience (increasingly) while other networks are younger and organic reach is still very possible.
    • How many other new things am I starting?
      • Some bloggers have a habit of going all in on every new thing that comes along and do so at the expense of what they’re already doing. This means they end up feeling overstretched and don’t stick at things long enough to become established.
      • It takes time and focus to build up a library of content on a new network, to learn how to use it, to establish credibility there.
      • You don’t have to do everything – probably a lot better to be active and doing an amazing job on one social network as long as it’s the right one and you’re achieving your goals than to be on every network.
      • Similarly it’s probably better to be on one medium (blog, podcast) than to try to do everything.
      • I typically try to have only one new thing on the go at a time.

A Few Last Thoughts

    • Keep in balance what you’re currently doing that is working and starting new things.
        • If something is working well now – work that thing as hard as you can and for as long as you can until it doesn’t work any more.
    • Don’t always be looking toward the ‘new’ and ’emerging’ trends at the expense of the old things that actually work. For example – SEO, email, Facebook – these things are mainstream and they work. If you ignore them in order just to play on SnapChat, Instagram and to blog on Medium you might be missing out.
    • Having said that you can become stale if you ignore the new and stubbornly hold on too long to something that is trending down and has no future. I remember way back when I started a couple of bloggers who resisted getting onto Facebook because MySpace had been so good to them… I’m not sure what they’re doing these days! `
    • If you do want to try a new thing treat it as an experiment. Allocate a percentage of your time to experiment. Put boundaries around it. Give yourself a deadline. A good way to do this is to create a season of a podcast. Do a series of Youtube/FB Live clips. Start a FB Group for a purpose for a particular time (FB: feelgooder 3 months).

Lastly – Most of the really successful people I know focus on a small number of things and work hard on those rather than spreading themselves too thin.


Yes some big players seem to be doing everything…. but many times they have teams helping them produce their content, they’re freaks who have more energy than most of us, or they do it for a short time and then burn out.

    • Find out where your readers are
    • Experiment where you think you can add most value and where you can play to your strengths Invest significant time into the places where you’re seeing results!

Further Resources on Is It Right for My Audience, My Content and for Me?


Full Transcript


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Hey there, it’s Darren Rowse here from ProBlogger and I’d like to welcome you to Episode 134 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today, I want to help you to decide whether you should be starting on that new social network that everyone else seems to be on at the moment or whether you should start that medium, would it be a podcast or a YouTube channel or something else that you’ve been wondering about lately. As bloggers, we’re constantly bombarded with choice as to how we can spend our time. There really is an unlimited amount of things that we could be doing to promote our blog and to support the business that we’re building but not all of those things are right for everyone of us.


Today, I want to go through some areas that we can ask questions in to help us determine where is the best place to really focus our energies. You can find today’s show notes where I will have some further reading for you at Today’s podcast is brought to you by the ProBlogger Plus Newsletter. If you should go over to, you can subscribe to our weekly newsletter where we’ll send you all our latest tips and tutorials, podcast episodes, and everything else that’s going on at ProBlogger.


If you do so end up there at, we’ll give you six months of content ideas. Every month for the next six months, we’ll send you a little email with 30 different ideas, 180 ideas in total over six months which will give you some ideas for blog posts that you can be writing on your blog. Again, that is at


This morning, I got an email, a very common email from a reader over at ProBlogger. It was from a blogger who was wondering whether they should jump onto Facebook Live. Everyone’s been talking about Facebook Live, it’s an emerging medium that many bloggers have been experimenting with lately. I’m seeing a lot more of it in my Facebook feed and this blogger noticed the same thing, they noticed other people in their niche particularly getting into it and wondered whether they should too. In the email, there was some tension. If I get onto that, what should I give up to be able to do it?


This is a very common email that I get not just about Facebook Live but about podcasting, should I start a podcast about YouTube? Should I start a YouTube channel? Should I get on Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram? Should I be blogging? All these social networks and different mediums that are at our fingertips as opportunities but also potentially as distractions from what it is that we’re trying to build. These questions come in thick and fast over at ProBlogger via email and in the comments that we get.


Today, I wanted to really delve into how do you make that decision about where you should be spending your time. As I said in the introduction, these are opportunities, these are incredible opportunities. Jumping to the right social network just at the right time, and it could be the difference between your blog having amazing success and failing. These things can also be incredible distractions so how do you make that decision?


Today, I want to get you to consider three different areas that you might want to ponder to make that decision. You really need to choose the right one that is right for your audience, for your content, and for you. Over the next 15 or so minutes, I really want to delve into each of those three things-your audience, your content, and you, and put some questions to you that you can ask to help you to work out whether that new social network is the right one for you. Is it the right one for your audience? Is it the right one for your content? And is it the right one for you?


I’m going to go through a whole heap of different questions here and they will all be summarized over in the show notes at You can get the full transcript over there as well, so let’s dig into those.


The first one is your audience. Is that new social network or that new medium that you are thinking about doing right for your audience? There’s some pretty obvious examples that have been given many times before, perhaps one of the most common ones is LinkedIn. Should you be jumping into LinkedIn? Should you start a blog and be producing content on LinkedIn? The obvious answer is that if your audience is a business focused audience, then perhaps LinkedIn is a good place for you to be engaging. Same can be said for different social networks.


Traditionally, Pinterest is seen as a great place to engage if you have lots of visual content and if your audience is women although I do know some big blogs that do very well that are focused on men over on Pinterest as well. That’s something you really need to do, some research. Your audience on these social networks, are they using the mediums that you’re considering using as well?


Here, you really need to dig a little bit deeper than just do they have an account in these places. That’s not what I’m really asking here. A lot of people have a Twitter account but do they use their Twitter account? Why are they using it? What I encourage you to ponder here is where do they have accounts but also where are they most active?


One of the questions that we ask in the surveys that we do is where do you have an account? We get all our readers to tell us all the difficult social media accounts that they are signed up for. Then, we ask them to tell us how often they use each of them. Are you using them daily? Are you using them weekly? Are you using them monthly, or do you never use them? That really gives you a lot more information about how active the people are there. How active are they on those networks, how long do they stay per session? You may need to dig in and do a little bit of research on that but there are a lot of studies that have been done into the session times that people typically have on different social networks.


I remember talking to one of the founders of the live streaming service Blab and they found that people when they go onto Blab were spending hours there, typically. Whereas people on Twitter sort of dip in and out and have fairly short shot burst of activity there, Facebook might be a little bit longer. How long are they staying there? That will reveal to you a whole heap about that social network. What are they doing there? What is their intent on that social network?


These are all things that you can do by surveying your readers and talking to your readers. Where are you active, what are you using these networks for? I think particularly it’s really interesting to see what they’re using it for. Are they on that social network to catch up with friends, are they there doing research for gathering of information? Are they there sharing what they’re doing, sharing the links? These things present different opportunities for us. People’s intents, their habits, how long they’re staying on these social networks will help us to work out whether it’s a place that we should be investing time.


I’ll give you a quick example. Over at Digital Photography School, we did a bit of a survey of our readers and asked them where are they spending time. We found that Facebook is one of the places that a lot of our readers do spend a lot of time. When we asked them what they did in those places and what they did in Facebook in particular, we found that the lot of Digital Photography School readers were sharing their photos on Facebook.


One of the things that we’ve been experimenting with over the last little while is a Facebook group that is purely there for the purpose of sharing photos. People can join it and they can share a photo just for the sake of sharing it or they can share with the question of can you critique my photo and then the community will critique their photo. We found that group has really worked very well but we would never have started that group unless we found out why people were on the network and what their habits were there, what were they doing there. That group doesn’t appeal to all of our readers, not all of our readers like to share photos but there’s been a segment of our readers that has been there.


Why are your readers on that social network? Are they there purely for personal reasons, maybe they’re there just to catch up with their friends. That presents a bit of a challenge and that may actually be a bit of a red flag that maybe you don’t want to get onto that network to sell, maybe you do want to get to that network to be conversational and to build community and to build engagement because people are there to engage with their friends and to find community. If your readers are there searching for information, are they there to research?


A lot of people go onto Pinterest to research and to get ideas. That maybe a really good place particularly for bloggers who have reviews of products or how to content because people are there with the intent of learning something or gathering information.


Do some analysis, where are your readers hanging out, how long are they hanging out in those places, what are they doing in those places, what’s their intent when they’re on those places. That will give you some hints as to whether it’s a fruitful place for you and whether it might fit with what your intentions are as well.


Another question you might want to ask kind of taps into where your audience is. Are the people in your niche using that social network or that medium? You want to be a little bit careful here because the answer yes could reveal a couple of things. It could actually reveal that it’s a good place or it could actually reveal that it’s too crowded as a place as well. Do some analysis. Are other people in your niche, are the bloggers, are the forums, are the influencers in your niche using that medium or that social network? If they are, how are they using it? What sort of results are they getting there? If they’re not there, is there a reason for that?


There may be no one else in your niche on this social network and that might present an opportunity for you but it also maybe a bit of a red flag as well because it hasn’t worked there for other people. You might want to look at inactive accounts there as well. Have there been people there and given up? How much work does it take the other people that are there? What types of things are they doing there? Are they using automation, do they have a very personal kind of account in those places? How often are they using it? What’s the frequency of the content that they’re producing and the updates that they’re doing?


Look at the different types of posts they might be doing and the different types of content that they’re producing and how well they have gained traction with those that are engaging with them there. It’s probably best if you can find someone else in your niche that’s willing to talk about it, and a lot of other bloggers in your niche will be willing to share their experience, it’s very collaborative in a lot of niches. But, you may just need to do some analysis and follow some of the big accounts that are relevant to your particular niche and just watch what they’re doing there, what traction they’re getting. You can learn a lot simply by following people and watching to see what they would do.


Again, you want to be a bit careful about just emulating what other people do or copying what they do and you also want to be looking for opportunities of things that people aren’t doing as well. That may present some opportunities to differentiate yourself by trying some new things there.


The last question I’d get you to ask in regards to your audience is is the network or is the medium trending up or is it trending down? At the moment, we’re seeing moments like Snapchat continuing to trend up. We’re seeing other networks like Twitter sort of plateauing and some people might even say it’s trending down at the moment. We’re seeing tools like mediums still seeming to grow. We’re seeing YouTube I think still presenting real opportunities as well so you might want to do some analysis there. We’re seeing other networks like Google Plus kind of fade away.


You want to really think about how big is the network and the overall size of it is another factor I guess to consider, but is it something that’s going to go away? You really don’t want to be investing your time into a network that has already passed its heyday. Ideally, you want to position yourself into a network that is about to really go mainstream. Bloggers that jumped onto Snapchat a year or so ago now really were positioning themselves for a tsunami of good things to happen for them as well there. All those questions are really about your audience; where are they, what are they doing in those places, that’s some really good questions to ask.


That’s not enough, don’t just ask those questions. The next area that I want to really dig into now is your content. Is the new medium, is the new network right for the content that you’re producing? The first question I want to put to you here is does it suit your topic? Does the new network, does the medium suit your topic?


Again, let me give you an example from my own situation, my photography blog, Digital Photography School. It’s obviously a very visual blog, we’re talking about photography, we’re talking about images. We’ve learned the hard way over the years that any kind of medium, any kind of network that has a visual component is much more suitable for us. Blogging itself, we can have images in our blog post. YouTube is one that can be potentially big for us, we’ve chosen to this point not to have a YouTube account but it’s one that we really wrestled with over the years and we’d like to do at some point because it’s a great place to illustrate particularly how to process photos. There’s been a lot of YouTube accounts that have done particularly well in that space.


Instagram obviously is another interesting space for us and one that we’ve been investing a bit more time into recently. It’s very visual, there’s some challenges there that I’ll talk about in a moment. Pinterest is one that we’ve had some success with over the years, Facebook we’ve had a lot of success with. The fact that you can share images there alone or that you can put images into the content you’re producing there is really great.


Google Plus in its heyday was really good for us as well because there was lots of big, beautiful images. Twitter has been okay for us as well because you can use images. Those types of mediums where you can have mediums really suit the topic of our content as opposed to podcasting. We have talked as a team about podcasting as a network but one of the reasons I decided not to go down the path-at least in the short term-is that it doesn’t really lend itself to visual content very well unless you want to do video which is a whole other beast. Whilst there has been some success for photography podcasts, a lot of them talk more of idea rather than techniques and teaching people how to take better photos which is something that we’re more into. That’s been something that we’ve resisted for a while.


ProBlogger on the other hand, a podcast works quite well for ProBlogger because it talking a lot of ideas. You don’t need to see the things that I’m talking about to get value out of doing it, at least I hope not anyway.


Does the topic suit the medium? Does it suit the network that you’re considering? Also, does the style or the voice of the content that you’re producing suit that network or medium as well? I teach people, both of my blogs are all about teaching. We want to work in networks where people have the intent of learning but also that suit teaching as well. For ProBlogger, I think podcasting is a good tool for us to be using as is blogging itself because people really can learn by listening and by reading. That suits the style of what I’m doing.


Again, Digital Photography School being more visual, we’ve invested more time into some of those visual forms as well. Also, I guess on Digital Photography School, it’s very much about teaching people and it’s about taking people through step by step content. The blog itself as a medium has worked very well for us there as well.


Another questions that you might want to ponder when it comes to the content and whether it suits the network that you’re considering is about repurposing. Sometimes, you can start something new and then use the content that you produce in that new thing in other places. That’s a really great investment of time.


For example, Facebook Live. If you invest time in Facebook Live, you can then take the video that you shot for Facebook Live and use it in other places. You could embed that video into a blog post, you could take that audio from that video and use snippets of that in a podcast. You could get the video that you produced transcribed and use that as a blog post as well. You could take the points that you are making in the video that you do and get them put into a Slide Share so it creates some slides about the things that you’re doing. There’s opportunities there to use that content in the new thing in other places. That is a great investment of time. I would be considering that.


The other thing that you could consider as the flip side, could you use content that you’ve already produced somewhere else and then repurpose it into the new thing that you’re doing? If you don’t have a Facebook page yet, I know most bloggers do already but for instance if you didn’t, you probably as a blogger already have a whole heap of stuff that you could be sharing on that Facebook page. You don’t have to come up with completely new stuff all the time, it may actually be a really simple way to getting to Facebook.


Another good example of that is this podcast. There’s been a number of episodes of this podcast that  have been based upon blog posts that I wrote for four, five, six years ago that I then updated and put into the form of a podcast. Repurposing is something that I would be considering with the new mediums and networks that you might be engaging as well.


The last area that I would encourage you to think about when you’re considering a new medium or a new network is is it right for you? We’ve talked about is it right for your audience, is it right for your content, but is it right for you?


The first question to ponder with regards to is it right for you is does it suit your style of presenting? You’re only really going to know that by giving it a go. For me, again, to use this podcast as an example, I thought podcasting would be something that I would enjoy and that I would be reasonably okay at because I’ve had some experience in public speaking before. I didn’t really know that until I started it. I knew pretty quickly that it would be something that I would enjoy and that did suit my presenting and that gave me energy. I think it’s really important to choose to engage in spaces that give you energy and that you feel good about because that will come through in the content that you produced there and the energy that you bring to those places.


There have been a few times where I thought it would be really great to get into this new social network, Snapchat for me was one where I thought there was potential there. My audience is there, some of my audience are there. It does suit some of the content that we produce, particularly on Digital Photography School but you know what? I don’t really enjoy it. It’s been something that I’ve delved in but I’ve never really thrown myself fully into it because I don’t think it really suits me as such. It doesn’t fit the current time availability that I have as well.


Does it suit your style of presenting is the first question. The second one is does it fit with your current goals? Your blog, your business is going to go through different stages of a life cycle. The different stages of that life cycle, you will need to do different things to help to build your business. What is the big priority for you right now in your business? Is it finding a new audience? Is it building community? Is it monetization? Should you be spending your time developing a product? Should you be doing any of these particular types of things?


They will each mean that you should be focusing your energy on different types of things and different social networks will each have their strengths and weaknesses depending on the stage that you’re in. Let me give you an example. If you are just starting a blog right now, maybe two weeks ago you started a blog. You probably need a phase where you need to invest a whole heap of time into creating content for your blog, that’s one of the things that you should really be focusing on right now. You may need to do that at the expense of some of the other opportunities that are around you right now because you need to build up an asset, a library, an archive of good, solid content.


The other thing that you need to be doing in the early days of your blog is finding new readers. It may make some sense for you to start engaging into the newer emerging forms of social media where there’s perhaps a little bit less competition where you can establish yourself as the go-to person in your particular niche. It may make sense for you to jump onto Snapchat because you need to get more eyeballs and that’s a place where there’s a lot of people at the moment and there’s perhaps less competition than a place like Facebook.


You really need to ask yourself, what’s the priority for my business right now? I did a podcast a year ago probably now about Michael Hyatt deciding to get off Periscope. One of the things that I said about him getting off Periscope that I thought was a good thing is that he doesn’t need a whole heap of new readers for his blog right now, he’s already got a big list that he needs to focus more attention on building a product and monetizing it and building community with the readers he’s already got. There are other networks that are already working for him that he probably just needs to spend more time focusing upon because he doesn’t need those new readers. I thought Periscope at the time was particularly good for finding new readers.


What are your current goals? Do the new things that you’re considering lend themselves to those goals? There are times where we just need to buckle down and work on what is working for us already rather than establishing new things. There are other times when new things are perhaps more suited to our goals. Does it fit with your current goals?


Another question to ask is can you leverage the new thing to build your home base? Can you leverage that new thing? Can you leverage Snapchat? Is it going to help you to actually build your business and can you leverage it to get people onto your email list or over to your blog. Some social networks it’s easy to leverage them than others. Some of the social networks are very hard to get people away from the network itself because they’re such engaging places people just spend the whole time on there. A use of that social network may not ever visit your blog, they may not ever sign up to your email newsletter. Once you may be able to engage them in that space, I hope you’re able to get them to your home base.


Ultimately, the sustainability of your business hinges not on what you do in the short term on that social network but on whether you can hook people into a long term relationship with you. There’s new emerging social networks and they may come and go. A lot of them won’t be here in two or three years. What’s going to happen? Are you going to start a relationship that will continue beyond the life of that social network?


Really, one of the things I’m asking myself is is the investment at this time going to help to build my business in ten years or is it just gonna create a whole heap of buzz in the short term? Can I leverage those people or hook them into my email list? For me, my email list is number one. If I can’t get people onto my email list from the new social network, then I’m going to really strongly consider whether it’s worth my time doing it. Can I get them to visit my blog? Can I get them to buy my products? These are things that are not the most important but are important if I want to build a sustainable business.


Is it just going to be fun? If it’s just going to be fun, I’m not sure that it’s going to be something that’s going to help to build my business.


Another question to ask when it comes to you, do you have the time and the energy for a new thing? If the answer is yes, I’ve got a whole heap of time on my hands, go for it. That’s totally fine, experiment with the new things. If the answer is no, you even need to do one of two things. One, resist the temptation to do it or two, ask yourself, could I outsource or automate this new thing, or something else in what I’m doing to free up some time.


You don’t have to personally engage in all the social networks that you jump onto, some of them can be automated. I know for a fact a number of bloggers who do very, very well out of Instagram by using automation but also using outsourcing and getting assistance to create the posts that they do Instagram.


Podcasting, another good example. I cannot automate podcasting but I can outsource the editing of my podcast. That is one way that I can free up some time for myself.


Do you have the time, the energy? If the answer is no, is there potential to automate or to outsource some part of it or all of it? There are some great tools around that will help you to do that. I’ve talked about Mit Edga who used to help run our Twitter accounts. There are some personal interaction that we do on our Twitter account but some of it is automated as well and that frees up time for some of the new things as well.


Alongside this question of do you have time or energy for the new thing, you should be asking what would you have to stop doing to start the new thing? Sometimes, this is the crux of the matter for me. If I’m going to get into Snapchat, what do I have to give up to be able to do that? I probably have to give up my podcast or blog or Facebook and am I willing to give up something that’s already working to start something new. Sometimes, the answer is yes and sometimes the answer is no.


Another question to ask when it comes to you is can you afford to play in that space? Can you afford to play in it? Some social networks, particularly the more established ones like Facebook are in a stage in their kind of own life stage where they’re charging people to play. Most bloggers now know that their Facebook pages are getting less organic reach and less effective organically than they used to and to engage in that space, you do need to start to consider at least paying. Same is happening now on Instagram, but some of the new social networks are still anything goes almost. There’s much more opportunity for organic use of those. That’s another thing to factor in, is it getting to a stage in the life cycle of that particular network where you do need to pay to play? If so, can you afford to do that? Are you willing to do that?


The last question I’d get you to ask when it comes to you is how many other new things are you starting right now or have you started in the last little while? Some bloggers I know have a habit of going all in on every single new thing that comes along. They do so at the expense of the things that they’re already doing and they get to the point where this week they’re all in on Periscope, next week they’re all in on Snapchat, next week they’ll be all in on Facebook Live. They don’t really stick to anything for too long and this means that they can end up either feeling overstretched by trying to do too many things or they don’t stick at things long enough to become established in those new things that they’re doing.


It takes time and focus to build up a library of content on any new medium or social network. It takes time and focus to learn how to use that social network and to experiment with different types of content on it. It takes time and focus to establish credibility and to get traction in the new things as well. Ask yourself the question, are you starting lots of things at once? If so, you may need to pull back. If you have started lots of things in the last six months, maybe your readers are starting to push back on that as well, they don’t know where to find you anymore for example.


You don’t have to do everything. It’s probably a lot better to be active and doing an amazing job on one social network as long as it’s the right one and you’re achieving your goals there than to be on every one. Similarly, it’s probably better to have one main medium like your blog or podcast or your YouTube account, whatever it might be, than to be doing them all. Sometimes, I think there’s a big argument for having focus. I typically only try to have only one new thing on the go at any time. I find myself too distracted if I’m doing too many new things at once.


A few last thoughts for you that hopefully you’ve already heard some of these things but I kind of think are really important. The first thing is keep in balance what you’re currently doing that is working and starting new things. Something is already working really well for you, you need to continue to invest a lot of time into that. Work at that thing as hard as you can for as long as it continues to work.


If you’re already getting amazing traction from Facebook, then just keep investing into Facebook. You can still try some new things but that’s where your primary focus should be. If the blog itself is already bringing in lots of traffic from Google, then maybe that’s enough for you right now. You need to focus on just serving that audience while that is working.


Secondly, don’t always be looking for the new and emerging trends at the expense of the old things that are actually working. For example, Facebook, email, SEO, these things are old. SEO, search engine traffic, that’s so old. The reality is that most bloggers get most of their traffic from search engines, so maybe it would be much better use of your time to be optimizing your blog content for search engines and increasing the rankings than going to play on Snapchat. Maybe you should be investing your time in converting some of that search engine traffic into email subscribers. Maybe that’s where you should be spending your time creating opt-ins.


Maybe you should be spending more of your time building order responders to serve the people who sign up to you in newsletters, maybe that’s a better use of your time than the new cool thing that’s just out that everyone’s raving about. Maybe focusing upon the old stuff that actually works is a better use of your time than getting onto the new things.


There’s got to be some balance here. I think if there can also be an argument that some bloggers ignore the new things and stubbornly hold onto the old things that don’t work anymore, I remember back in the day talking to a blogger who said I’m not getting onto Facebook because Myspace is still working for me. I haven’t heard from that blogger for many years. Maybe they still have their Myspace account, I don’t really know. You’ve got to hold a bit of tension there. Sometimes, you got to pay attention to the new things but don’t do it at the expense of what’s already working that might be a little less cool but still works for you.


I guess for me, I’m always looking for the new thing but I’m focusing most of my time on the thing that’s already working. If you do want to try a new thing, treat it as an experiment. Allocate a small percentage of your time to the experiment, put some boundaries around that new thing. Give yourself a deadline perhaps.


For example when I started the ProBlogger podcast, some of you will remember when I started it. I think it was June, July of 2015. I announced that I was going to do 31 podcasts, a series. 31 shows, that was all going to be over a month. I was pretty clear upfront that I didn’t know whether I would continue after that 31 days, it was a test, an experiment-it was a lot of work to get those 31 posts up but I knew that I had an out if it didn’t work, if I didn’t find it energized me, if it didn’t connect with my audience, if i didn’t get some signs that I was getting some traction. You might want to announce to people that I’m going to do this new thing for a season and then see what I can learn.


Similarly, I started a Facebook group last year, it was the FeelGood Facebook group. It was about health and well being and I said I was going to do it for three months. I decided at the end of those three months that I didn’t really want to do that anymore. Because I’ve been upfront with the people that joined that group that it was for a season, I didn’t get any push back on that. Sometimes, setting yourself a deadline to do an experiment is a good thing as long as you get those expectations right with people who may join in on that thing.


Last thought for you. As I think about it, most of the really successful people I know in blogging and podcasting, most of them focus on a small number of things and they work hard on those things rather than spreading themselves too thin. As I’m saying that, I can think of a few people who are big players, who seem to be doing everything. They’re on video on Snapchat, they’re on YouTube, Facebook, doing all of those things.


Those people like Gary Vaynerchuk for example, he has an insane amount of energy-he has much more energy than me. He can sustain doing a lot of things but he also has a team behind him. He has someone helping him to produce some of the videos that he’s creating. Whilst he does do a lot of it himself which is amazing, a lot of these people who seem to be everywhere have teams of people behind them. A lot of them are repurposing content from one place to another as well.


I would really encourage you to focus and to bring some focus to what you’re doing. Find out where your readers are, experiment in those places, find out where you can add most value, where you can play to your strengths. And then invest significant time into the places where you are seeing results and don’t do it at the expense of things that are already working for you.


I really hope that something in what I shared today has been helpful for you in making decisions about where you should be spending your time and energy. I would love to get your feedback on this one, I’ve put a lot of thought and time into preparing this particular episode. I’d like to know whether it hit the mark for you. You can head over to the ProBlogger show notes, where I’d love to get a comment from you. Just let me know if it’s hit the mark for you, if you’d add something else to it.


Let me know where you are focusing your time at the moment as a result of thinking about these types of things. I’d love to hear where you’re getting traction as well in the different networks and mediums that you are engaging with.


Don’t forget, you can subscribe to the ProBlogger Plus Newsletter. It comes out every Tuesday, Wednesday depending on where you are in the world and it’s just a really quick summary of all of the new content that we’ve published on the ProBlogger Blog from our subject matter experts that we have in the different fields that we’ve focused upon and any new episodes that have come up on the ProBlogger podcast-we publish two of those every week. It’s a great way to get that information.


If you head over to you can sign up and you’ll also get six months of free content ideas for your blog. We’ll send out a monthly PDF with 30 ideas every month that will stimulate some blog posts that you want to write on your particular blog. Again, that’s at


If you would review the ProBlogger podcast on iTunes or whatever podcast network you are listening to us on, head over to the iTunes Store and search ProBlogger, we’d love you to subscribe there. But also if you could give us a rating and a review, that would be fantastic. I do see every single one that comes in and read them all and get a lot of value out of that in shaping future podcasts as well.


Thanks for listening, and we’ll chat with you in the next episode of the ProBlogger podcast.




How did you go with today’s episode?


I would love your feedback on this. I put a lot of time and effort into preparing this episode. Let me know if it hit the mark for you, or if you would like to add some other content.


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The post PB134: How to Decide if You Should Start on a New Social Network or Medium appeared first on ProBlogger Podcast.





Why Mobile-First Is the Only Design Worth Your Investment

Posted by bsmarketer

Most marketers think they’re hiring web designers to design an aesthetic.


But the savviest practitioners know they’re not.

They’re hiring experts to think through design interactions. The way people will arrive, hunt, look, and browse to ultimately find what they’re looking for in the most pleasing way possible. (Also, a few conversions along the way would be nice.)

As mobile users outnumber desktop, the importance of designing experiences on fluid surfaces becomes even more critical.

The trouble is that trying to transform an outdated, legacy website into a desirable mobile experience is problematic, if not impossible.

Compare that to a ‘mobile-first’ site which, from Day 1, is created to leverage the extra capabilities of mobile devices. But more importantly, also limit or mitigate the significant drawbacks of a smaller screen and limited processing power.

Here’s why that distinction is important, and how you can take advantage of it.

The legacy website conundrum

Recently I had a client who was approached by Google.

They offered to build them a completely new mobile site – gratis – because their legacy site wasn’t responsive. (Oh, almost forgot to mention, they’re a big AdWords advertiser too.)

The result was good. The work was clean and fast. Also, free.

But my client turned their offer down and hired us instead. Paying, well, much more than free.

Google’s emphasis on mobile-friendly design served as a catalyst for an increase in the number of mobile sites being added to legacy, outdated websites (built years before mobile usage was relevant).

The problem is that adding a mobile version to a legacy site doesn’t fix many of the underlying structural or architectural issues that are creating difficult mobile experiences in the first place.

Trying to ‘adapt’ an old infrastructure for new devices and technology is like jamming a square peg in a round hole. There are so many elements – design, IA, speed and other – that when formatted and compressed, get kinda… meh.

The challenges with mobile devices are well documented (seriously – it’s even in ‘Dummies‘). The screens are too damn small. Processing power is limited. Links and other important elements are too close together, making it difficult to select what you want while avoiding every other option.

In what now seems prescient, Bruce Lawson wrote in Smashing Magazine way back in 2012: “For a maintainable, future-friendly development methodology, I recommend that your default approach to mobile be to design one website that can adapt to different devices”.

Being on top of a fluid grid system allows for collapsable layouts, enabling a site’s content to have the best chance at success regardless of device. We’ve all been on sites that required intense left-to-right scrolling because the content or images haven’t adjusted. Or we’ve all seen when sites reach a breaking point on mobile that render them almost useless.

However beyond the surface, there’s a deeper rationale, again outlined years ago.

The first point, is that mobile requires focus. You simply don’t have room for all the extra crap that every single department head wants on the site. Starting with mobile creates a tremendous constraint that forces you to focus only on the essential, high-priority objectives.

The second is that mobile devices present an untapped opportunity to utilize extra functionality that’s unavailable for desktop users. The smallest examples including your real-time GPS or the advances being made with applications like Apple’s Health. Even the gestures you can use on mobile present a more dynamic world that leaves the mouse button behind.

All of this sounds great. Thanks for the history lesson.


But WTF does it have to do with SEO?


There are many advantages to starting from scratch when building an optimized website. But two of the biggest that affect conversions and SEO – your information architecture and site speed – stand to gain the most from a ‘mobile-first’ approach.

Optimizing IA through mobile-first

According to UX Booth, information architecture (IA) is concerned with the movement and interaction between a user and a system, with the goal of inspiration, utility, and delight. It connects people to the content they are looking for in an interactive and pleasing way.



image source: User Allusion, Murray


Tip #1: Design for use

Are Halland, an Information Architect, came up with a term to help information architecture influence your content strategy and path: core model. The core model puts the focus on designing a website from the inside out, emphasizing where your business goals and what your users need to get out of your site overlap.

Practically this means mapping content based on what’s most important (business objectives) and relevant (user needs).

Start with determining your goal. How is site success measured? What are you hoping to gain?

Compare that with who you’re trying to reach (or your buyer personas). How you deliver information is largely dependent on audience type, so content mapping (and organization) is based on their goals.

After laying the groundwork, you can begin to assess and integrate the different ways users find content. According to Web Designer Depot, there are four ways users seek information:

1. Known Item: the user knows what they’re looking for and how to describe it. For these users, you’ll need well-organized and logical information. And a search function that offers relevant results.

2. Exploratory: the user has an idea of what they might need to know…but don’t know where to start. For these users you’ll need a search function that auto-suggests search terms (based on what the user is typing) and a search function that suggests related terms.



image source: etsy


3. Unknown: the user doesn’t know what they need – they are often simply browsing. For these users you’ll need to guide visitors through content and to give users options, helping them narrow down their search.



image source: New York Magazine


4. Re-finding: the user is looking for something they’ve already seen… but don’t know how to find it again. For these users, you’ll need to have a function that saves “recently viewed” items, as well as interactive tools for visitors to “save for later”.



image source: Anthropologie


Tip #2: Keep information organization simple (and flat)

Your primary IA goal is to create a structure that makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. Now that you know the four ways your users will be seeking information, here are a few tips on information organization.

Start with conventional (not clever) labeling. There’s a reason ‘About’ or ‘Contact’ is so prevalent: people are used to it, they know what it means, and they know where to look for it. Breaking convention by using a phrase like “Hit Us Up!” or “Get in Touch” may sound unique, but it will confuse most of your readers (especially on non-traditional mobile screens).

The more information you have, the greater your organizational structure needs to be. Storyboarding can help. You need to be able to visualize how your site will look, test driving its usability. Online tools like AWWAPP or RealTimeBoard can help.



A flat site architecture also makes sure the most important information is only a few clicks (or taps) away (within 2-3 ideally). Otherwise, you end up with fewer top level categories, requiring more clicks to reach subcategories.



(image source: ZoomHead)

A flat architecture makes information more easily accessible, easier for search engines to crawl and index, while also providing a better user experience.

(Caveat: The only time deep architecture works better is with very large sites that have a lot of subcategories. If you have a lot of information, creating a deep architecture will make all of the information easier to navigate and it will create a less cluttered landing page.)



(image source: Content Standard)


Last but not least, map out your hierarchy. Based on your core model, determine what elements need to be forefront, and what elements can hang out a click or two into your site.

Another SEO bonus comes from determining your website hierarchy ahead of time so that you can map out your keyword hierarchy.

Tip #3: Design for conversions

Everything done so far is focused on increasing conversions.

However, the final IA tip is that conversion rates tend to be higher when your mobile site is more easily digestible (i.e., simple, straightforward, and easy to navigate).

HubSpot tested this by conducting a free ebook giveaway experiment in July 2015. By switching to more straightforward layouts, they decreased bounce rates by an average of 27%.



‘Solve for the user’ sounds trite, but it pays.

That means straightforward, easy terminology. While also keeping your links, menus, search, and filter options simple. Information should be easily accessible. Less is more when streamlining menu options for quick navigation. Especially when you’re dealing with important elements, like selecting one link instead of the other with a fat thumb, which can pose usability challenges that simply don’t happen on desktop.



(image source: Inology)

And simplify number input. Ain’t nobody got time to enter a 16-digit credit card number. Make it easy for your users to convert by simply giving them the keypad to type their credit card numbers.

Mobile speed – the silent conversion killer

Speed has one of the biggest bearings on usability and conversions across devices.

But on mobile, it’s especially problematic.

Limited processing power, lower connection speed, and spotty service present unique challenges to mobile devices that most desktops don’t experience.

How that translates, is through decreasing mobile conversion rates on purchase, losing these visits to competitors, while also diminishing brand value in the process.

Of the 87% of US citizens who own mobile devices, 90% use their devices to go online. Most staggering though, 74% will leave your mobile website if it doesn’t load in 5 seconds.



(image source: Kinsta)


The best place to start to in order to speed things up is decreasing page loading times.

Tip #1: Clean up your code

Pardon the obvious, but get started by cutting out excess space, indentations, and line spaces will reduce the size of your site’s core and front-end files. Especially any gibberish created by your CMS.

Believe it or not, this includes 301 redirects to a point. While they’re the best SEO friendly option, excessive 301 redirects can still cause confusion. Hunt down your redirects with Screaming Frog to see how you can actually improve the site’s structure (see above) and do it properly to reduce your site’s avoidable redirects.

Another potential problem area happens on WordPress site’s with too many (or low quality) plugins. Using something like the Plugin Performance Profiler to determine if any of your plugins are slowing down your site can help. (Wait – add a plugin to see which plugins to remove? I know.)



Managed hosting, done properly, can also help WordPress sites (or more specifically, their owners) keep things running quickly by taking care of the heavy lifting. The best in the business (depending on locale and preference) are WP Engine, Kinsta, and Pagely.

Tip #2: Minify, cache and compress

Javascript files take much longer to load than most site content. They also selfishly insist on loading first, causing significantly lower page speed load times. Google suggests the removal or deferral of all Javascripts that get in the way of loading any above-the-fold content. By doing so, the rest of your web content will be able to load first and the files will only need to be loaded one time, making each return visit that much quicker.

Check out the Varvy’s Javascript Usage Tool to see how your site is currently utilizing javascript.



Unless your site is being updated significantly every five minutes, you should be using a content management system (CMS) that will cache your pages. “Caching” saves your web pages so they don’t have to be regenerated every time. WordPress offers some great cache plugins, including W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.



GZIP compression will cut your page load time significantly, especially benefiting mobile devices and desktops with poor internet connection. While it’s not the best compression method, it is the most compatible across servers, is quick, and the ratio is decent.

Head over to GIDNetwork to test the compression of your site. GIDNetwork will tell you if you’re site’s already been compressed, they type of compression, size and compression percent. They’ll also give you a list of ways to decrease page load time from most to least crucial.





Tip #3: Optimize images

While HTML may enable you to convert a large graphic into a much smaller graphic, it isn’t necessarily taking up less server space. And when it comes to page load time, server space is really what we care about. Make sure to optimize your images first. Then you can adjust the height and width.

Optimizing images can result in the largest byte-saving, performance improvements for your site, and as Google puts it, “The fewer bytes the browser has to download, the less competition there is for the client’s bandwidth and the faster the browser can download and render useful content on the screen”. There are a number of applications and graphic programs that can be used to optimize your images, including Photoshop, Fireworks, and SmushIt.

Next, you can deliver those images via a CDN, or content delivery network, that works by delivering web pages based on a user’s geographical location. By using a CDN such as CloudFare or Brightbox, you are ensuring quicker connection to a server near a user’s geographical area. This means that you have a better chance of your site loading faster.



Looking for even more tips on how to make your page load time faster? Check out Google Developer’s PageSpeed Tools and WebPageTest’s Analytical Review.



The best site improvements don’t come from checking off to-do list items from a tactical perspective based on artificial deadlines.

Yes, a mobile version of your legacy site is better than nothing. Obviously. But in most cases it doesn’t go far enough. At the end of the day, you’re still living with significant issues that are affecting mobile experiences (which in turn, impacts conversions).

A “mobile-first: approach is ideal, because it’s easier to address the most difficult aspects – like your information architecture and speed – going from mobile to desktop (rather than vice versa).

In an ideal world, the best investment of time and money is to fix the problem once instead of cobbling together band-aids as an afterthought.


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Here’s How AdWords Basics Took an Account from Cost Center to Profit Center

Posted by PaidInsights

Your AdWords account doesn’t need to be complex to be profitable, but there are a few (often forgotten) settings and tweaks that can make a huge difference in ROI. Many times these “small” things can be the difference between losing and making money on your ad spend.

I took over an account that wasn’t in horrible shape, but it needed a little help to stop the bleeding.

I’ll walk you through my initial steps to make this account profitable:


Tracking conversions

Making sure conversions are being tracked properly should always be step No. 1. If your goal is to get leads or sales, you need to know if your ad spend is producing leads or sales at a price you can afford. You can’t improve what you can’t track.

(I was interviewed by CallRail about how keyword-level call tracking helped me to reduce cost per acquisition by 66%, but that’s only part of the story. I consider CallRail’s integration with AdWords step 0.5 because it allowed me to track phone calls to the business as a lead.)

CallRail / AdWords Integration

Form leads for the win

When I took over the account, form leads were being tracked manually through a spreadsheet. There was no integration into AdWords. Not only was this a huge waste of time, but it was inaccurate and prone to errors.

I needed to tie form leads back to AdWords clicks.


But first, in order to track those leads, I needed to create a thank you page.


For the website we were advertising for, there was no thank you page, email confirmation, nor visual indication that a lead was received. The page just refreshed. This led to many double and triple form submissions (which were counted as separate leads), and follow-up calls just to check that the messages were being received (and being counted as leads).


From a user experience perspective, you have to let people know you received their messages, what to expect next, how long they’ll have to wait, and simply say, “Thanks for contacting us.”

The thank you page I created let prospects know they could expect a response within 24 hours. It also provided answers to some frequently asked questions, and contained a tracking code that enabled form leads to be tracked within the AdWords account.

Now that I was tracking both call and form leads coming from PPC, I needed to address a few other oversights and basic settings that were making the account a cost center as opposed to a highly profitable lead generator.

Negative keywords

In this particular account, they had attempted to sculpt ad groups with negative keywords so there was no overlap as to which searches showed which ads. Not a bad idea, but it was done so exhaustively it was nearly impossible to manage. And branded terms were still showing up in general searches.

The main negative (pun intended) was that there was no account-wide negative keyword lists.


This advertiser focused on all types of home repair and installation jobs. They were getting huge amounts of searches (and clicks) for searches related to car and vehicles repairs, services they do not provide.


car window search query report

Adding negatives for the keywords car, truck, auto, and vehicle was a good start. Looking through the search query reports, I found there were many searches that were clearly related to vehicles, but used terms like rear, driver, and side. Also, many searches were using car make and/or model numbers, so I found added a list of popular car makes and models as a separate negative keyword list.


Because most of the keywords were phrase matched, they were triggering for expensive “emergency repair” terms, but this business did not offer 24-hour service. Some of those keywords were over $40 CPC, so excluding the term “emergency” was another quick win.


There were also no generic negatives for things like pictures, videos, training, and jobs, so those were carefully added as negatives, too. (When you do this yourself, ensure you do not exclude searches you do want from showing.)

Finally, there were searches around “how-to” and “do it yourself,” but I was less sure about how those would convert. I didn’t exclude them initially as I wanted to get some conversion data before adding them as negatives.


Right away, the click-through rate nearly doubled; the bounce rate dropped by about 10%.


CTR vs Bounce Rate

Doing negative keyword research can greatly minimize wasted ad spend in the beginning stages of a PPC account. You will still come across many weird and irrelevant searches over time as you continue to monitor the search query reports, but any good PPC manager should put in the time to set this up right before Day 1.

Ad extensions

Ad extensions were non-existent for this account. As nearly every study or article about ad extensions explains, they increase click-through rate and are a positive factor in quality score. This in turn lowers the amount you have to pay per click for the same ad position.


I added sitelinks, callouts, reviews and call extensions to all campaigns. In every case, they increased CTR and conversion rate, which lowered cost per lead.


Because this was a multi-location service area business, I only added location extensions to locations that had enough reviews to show local review star ratings within the ad. This is a more recent change Google made to allow star ratings attached to Google My Business to show within ads.


Local Review Stars in AdWords

I had also noticed while conducting research that dynamic sitelinks were showing, but for the wrong locations, so I used Google’s form to opt out from displaying these. AdWords has been updated so that you no longer have to submit a form to Google in order to opt out of dynamic extensions. You can find the updated instructions on how to remove automated extensions here.


More recently I added structured snippets, AdWords’ newest extension, which have also been performing very well.



Because I made many of these changes while simultaneously setting up proper conversion tracking, I couldn’t see exactly how cost per leads and conversion rates were impacted.


The good news is that Google Analytics was linked to the account, so I could compare bounce rates and a few other engagement metrics before and after the changes. The analytics are not perfect, since many people call directly from the landing page, which looks like a bounce. But I was still able to get a decent estimate of how performance compared before and after integrating conversion tracking.


I did some basic statistical analysis to help estimate the conversion rates prior to tracking based on bounce rate:

Bounce vs CTR Scatter

After a few simple tweaks, lead volume (and quality) went up, cost per lead went down, and the account started to consistently provide a positive ROI.


As more conversion data came in, I was able to further optimize the account by segments like day of week, location, and user device. Substantial results were realized within the first few weeks.

Do you have any similar stories of taking over accounts in bad shape? Surprised by anything? Let me know in the comments!


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12 Ways Infographics Can Be Used to Drive Results

Posted by AdamThompson

Infographics are a hot commodity in the digital marketing space, both as part of SEO strategies and for content marketing initiatives. They’re a great way to connect with audiences, educate readers in a creative and visual way, and build editorial backlinks. About 65 percent of people are visual learners. That means well over half of your target audience is people who you should market to visually.

As infographics have gained in popularity, though, many companies have pushed out graphics that don’t offer enough value to the viewer. Ask yourself these questions when you’re developing an infographic to ensure your graphics offer enough value to rise above the crowd:

    • Is the internet a better, more useful place because we released this infographic?
    • Does this infographic provide information or insights that existing infographics don’t?
    • Does this infographic provide insights that readers will find interesting, compelling, and relevant to their lives and pursuits?

Once you have created a high-value infographic, how do you turn a one-off infographic strategy into a complete marketing campaign? Here are some of the tactics we’ve used to maximize the return on investment from infographics.


#1 – Offer an initial exclusive

If you’re creating an infographic for SEO benefits, it’s a safe assumption that you’re doing outreach. Before you start the general blogger outreach, though offer exclusive first coverage to a few top tier publications. Many to-tier publications will be more likely to publish your infographic if you offer them exclusive first-publication rights. Typically, this means they get to publish it first and you won’t allow it to be published elsewhere for a certain amount of time thereafter (for example, one week). After that time period is up, you can publish it anywhere you choose.


#2 – Submit a press release


If your infographic contains original data or combines data in a fresh way to arrive at unique conclusions, consider writing and distributing a press release. We’re not interested in the backlinks we get from the press release itself; rather, we’re interested in the possible coverage we can get if editors see the press release and decide to cover the story.


This screenshot above, from, shows a press release we submitted for an infographic. (We created Black Friday Survey 2015 for one of our clients.) The infographic was based on original data, making it a newsworthy angle publishers were interested in. The piece was cited by several targeted top-tier publications.

#3 – Leverage UGC as data for your infographic campaign

Create a survey to gather original data for your infographic. By getting your audience involved in providing data, you get at least two additional benefits:

  1. The survey itself is social media content that can help drive engagement and shares.
  2. Once the infographic is done, survey takers will feel invested in the piece and be more likely to share it.

#4 – Cite it as source in guest blog posts

Citing data from an infographic or using part of it as a graphic in a guest blog post is a great way to:

    • Work an attribution backlink into a relevant blog post (for example, into a guest column on a high authority website)
    • Build a natural backlink and diversify your link portfolio

#5 – Spin the infographic into posts for your blog

Once you’ve done the research and designed the infographic, you can write blog posts covering each section of the infographic in more details. You’ve already done the research and created a custom graphic you can use for each post!


#6 – Include it in emails

Infographics can be great content to use in emails. Here are a few ways you could transform infographics into email content for your list:

    • Send out a newsletter highlighting the entire infographic
    • Write auto-responder emails based on slices of the infographic
    • Feature the infographic in your next newsletter
    • Politely brag about any top-tier publications that featured your infographic

#7 – Piggyback on a holiday

In addition to the major holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, the calendar is packed with lesser-known holidays. Aligning your infographic with one or more of these holidays could be very beneficial. Consider how leveraging this could enable you to:

    • Provide opportunities to ride the wave of hashtags and buzz within relevant communities
    • Give you a unique angle for pitching bloggers on your infographic
    • Open doors for joint ventures with individuals, organizations, and communities that are invested in the chosen holidays

#8 – Slice and dice it for social media

Most infographics can easily be sliced up into bite-sized pieces perfect for posting on Facebook, Pinterest, and other websites. If you’re able to make some slices that have very little text, you can boost the posts on Facebook as well. (Remember, Facebook has a maximum 20% text rule for posts you want to boost.)



This excerpt from 5 of the World’s Most Secure Vaults & Bunkers (another infographic we created for a client) is a great example of how infographics can be sliced into smaller pieces for sharing on social media or using in a blog post. An entire infographic is too long and too in-depth for quick social media sharing, but an excerpt like this is a quick read and easy share!


#9 – Tie it in with a contest or giveaway

An infographic can be paired with a contest to drive additional buzz and encourage blogger participation. For example, Macy’s partnered with Better Recipes on a campaign around the KitchenAid mixer. The infographic showed 25 kitchen items you can replace with a mixer and was then attached to a giveaway of a KitchenAid mixer for Valentine’s Day. Keep in mind that giving away free gifts in exchange for links is (according to Google) the same as purchasing links, so tread carefully in this space.


#10 – Use it as a lead generation landing page

Infographics can be repurposed as a lead generation asset.

Here’s how to make it work:

    1. Create an ebook or whitepaper with more data and details on the same topic as your infographic
    1. Publish the infographic with a prominent opt-in form to download the ebook/whitepaper

#11 – Use it in paid ad campaigns

Infographics can be repurposed and worked into your paid advertising campaigns in several ways, including:

    • Using data and graphical elements from the infographic to create display ads
    • Using data and stats from the infographic in ad copy and landing pages
    • Running ad campaigns to a lead generation page that features the infographic
    • Running a low-CPC (display and/or native) ad campaign featuring the infographic to drive brand awareness and leads

#12 – Include your brand’s charity work in the infographic

Are you participating in a humanitarian program or charity? Create an infographic that ties in with the charity or issue you’re involved with. Remember to keep the focus on promoting the charity/issue at hand, not on patting yourself on the back for your contributions. This offers several additional benefits:

    • Gets more of your organization involved your company’s marketing efforts in an organic way
    • Helps you support charity work and make the world a better place (cliched, but true!)
    • Opens up additional channels to promote your infographic

What other ways do you use infographics across different channels to maximize the return you get on the time and money invested in creation?


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What We Can Learn From Heat Map Studies to Improve Our Calls-to-Action

Posted by AnnSmarty

Most of those reading this probably already know about heat maps. But stay with me while I give a quick explanation to those who don’t.


A heat map is a visual graph delivered in a unique style. Rather than showing straight statistics, it works by using different colors to show things like…

    • Mouse movement: Where the mouse was moving (my means of mouse-tracking)
    • Click tracking: Where the actual click occurred
    • Scroll tracking: How far down the page the visitor scrolled
    • Eye tracking: Where the eye is most likely to focus upon first viewing an image.

What’s more, a heat map can be incredibly helpful when improving the clickability of your images.


It will let you know what people are looking at and what details they are missing. From there you can adjust, remove, and add whatever you need to increase the effectiveness of each image used


Three things we can learn from heat map studies

1. People prefer to view faces: A Nielsen Norman Group study showed that users ignore stock photos.


When viewers looked at a company’s page presenting photos and bios of the entire team, the test revealed that users spent 10% more time viewing the portrait photos than reading the biographies, even though the bios consumed 316% more space.



The “headshot” phenomenon is confirmed by this study of LinkedIn profiles: This Heatmap Proves That Looks Are The Most Important Thing On Your LinkedIn Profile.



In a study conducted by TheLadders, an eye tracking heat map showed that recruiters spend 19 percent of the total time they spend on your profile looking at your picture.


The same goes for Facebook profiles, where people seem to be most interested in the headshots:


facebook profile

The conclusion? Whether you like the idea of marketing your headshot or not, you have better chances to succeed online if you do. Your face shot can make your social media profiles more memorable and engaging, as well as trigger more clicks to your on-site calls-to-action.


2. A smile garners more attention: The study by Specs found that something as simple as a smile can have a huge impact on whether or not an image gains any real attention. Not only will it draw the eye, but it will be more memorable to the person viewing it.


A Smile Always Gets Attention


Being easily recognized is an important part of content marketing. How can you really make an impression? By posting your work alongside the same smiling photo (or a couple of photos where you are clearly recognizable). Your site visitors will learn to associate you with quality. Then, when they see your image posted with a piece of content, they will be sure to click on it every time.


You can use the same tactic on social media. A good picture makes your profile more appealing, and will help you gain more followers. So smile!


They Look Where You Look

3. People look where you look: Direct eye contact is effective. Eyes in the picture almost always draw attention. But eyes also guide attention.


This case study shows that eyes can guide the users’ attention to where you want them to be guided (e.g., glancing to the left will guide the viewer’s eyes to the left.)


But it’s not just the eyes. It’s also been found that emotions (plus eye direction and straightforward pointing to the on-page object) trigger the most conversions.


In this case study it has been found that the photo of the model who looked excited and was looking at (and pointing to) the CTA generated the best conversion rate.


smiling pointing

What we can take away from these studies

These studies show that our images might not be viewed in the way we intended them to be viewed.


When we post images, we have a tendency of focusing entirely on the quality of those pictures.


You could have a perfect, high-quality image of yourself smiling on your front page. But with a minor tweak (e.g., posting a photo of yourself looking at your CTA), you could dramatically improve your conversions.


Put this information to use for your brand

Start by strategically testing different facial expressions and positions.

    • Maybe begin by using slightly different images of yourself for your bio, About Us page, and social media profiles
    • Also consider using authentic testimonials with well-recognized pictures of social media influencers, as in the example shown below

First Site Guide

    • Use smiling faces in your banner ads or as CTA click triggers

banner ads

There is no perfect solution

With visual marketing, it is never straightforward.


Images put on different social networks or offered in front of different audiences can generate absolutely different levels of engagement from what they would on your own website.


This case study done by Curalate and introduced by Wired is a great example. The Curalate team analyzed millions of pictures to find the perfect combination of elements that made up the best possible Pinterest image.


What did their research find?

    1. Images without human faces performed better
    1. Shallow depth-of field wins (i.e., main image in the foreground, with the background blurred)
    1. People prefer moderate light and color

This study makes clear there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to what will resonate with vast audiences across the web.


The key to discovering what works for your brand and target audiences is to test and re-test.

If you’re now excited to do some testing on your own site, there are some easy-to-use tools that can help.

Popular heatmap tools

Sumome Heatmaps (freemium): I use Sumome simply because I have Sumome already installed and it has heatmaps nicely built in (and they are free).


Sumome Heatmaps

Bannersnack (paid, but offers a free trial): Inherently this is banner-analyzing software. However, Bannersnack can also be used for designing and analyzing any on-site images you use for CTAs and/or design.


First, create the visual using the handy online editor, grab the embed code, and put it on your site. (You can embed it on a landing page or within your article.) Give it some time to work,then go back to see how your audience interacted with your banner. With Bannersnack, you can see where exactly people clicked when engaging with that visual.


Then, if you like what you see, download the image and re-use it for social media advertising or other types of social media marketing you are doing.


Piwik Overlay Maps (free): Piwik’s click maps are not as nicely done as Sumome, but they are very useful nonetheless.


Piwik Overlay Maps

A page overlay displays the actual website and puts bubbles next to the links on the page that show how many visitors clicked the link.


It’s a nice way to compare on-page images (for example, navigation icons like those in my screenshot above).


Visual Attention Software (freemium): This is a new tool I only recently discovered that uses its own algorithm to simulate what people see during the first critical 3-5 seconds of viewing.



It’s science-based, so it’s not actually tracking anything. (It analyzes the image using its own patent-pending algorithm.)

Do you have a case study on using heating tracking to improve CTAs you would like to share? Let us know in the comments.


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