How a Single Piece of Content Increased Our DA by +7 Points [Case Study]

Posted by sergeystefoglo

Content marketing has been discussed and researched more in the last 5 years than ever before.

Source: Google Trends

There are various kinds of content marketing strategies out there. Blog promotion, infographics, video strategies, and creative content are some. Depending on your goals, some are more effective than others.

At Distilled, we’ve been fortunate enough to work on many creative content pieces with some incredible clients. This article is going to focus on a piece of content that my team and I created for a client. We’ll take a look at both the creation process and the tangible results of the piece we made.

Note: In general, you don’t want to rely on one piece of content for link acquisition. It’s recommended to focus on multiple pieces throughout the year to add link diversity and give your content pieces a good chance to succeed. The following is simply a case study of one piece of content that worked well for my client.


Client backstory: We need links!

Our client is Ginny’s (shoutout to Matt and Cailey). Ginny’s is an ecommerce business based in the beautiful state of Wisconsin.

We knew that regardless of how much optimization was done on the site, their lack of incoming links would be a huge barrier to success. This quickly became a topic of discussion for us.

The general rule of thumb: the more linking root domains (LRDs) your site has, the stronger the domain authority should be. And the stronger the linking root domains are, the better it is for your DA. In other words, it’s better to get 1 strong link (DA 80+) than 10 weak links (DA 20-). Kudos if the links are topically relevant to your website/brand.

So, my team and I sat down and started thinking of different ways we could accomplish the task of increasing LRDs and (hopefully) DA for my client.


The process of creating a link-worthy story

Here are the steps my team and I went through for this particular client.

Note: For an extensive look at creating creative content, please see the following articles:

Ideation

The first step in the creative process is ideation, because without great ideas you can’t a have a great piece of content. It’s important to give yourself enough time for ideation. Don’t rush it, and be sure to include various team members with different backgrounds to get as many ideas as possible. Note: stock up on coffee/Red Bull and snacks for this.

Validation

Typically after an ideation session you’ll have many potential ideas. It’s important to go through and validate them. When I say “validate,” I mean making sure others haven’t already done something similar, or that creating the piece is actually possible (you have access to the right data, etc.)

Note: For more information on researching and validating your creative ideas, read this post titled “Researching Creative Ideas: 10 Dos and Don’ts.”

Pitching

At this point you’ll have a handful of ideas that are not only on-brand and interesting, but have great potential in being picked up by various sources. Put together a nice deck and pitch your ideas to the client. The goal is to get your client to pick one (or a few, depending on the budget).

Note: Here’s an awesome write-up on a framework for pitching creative ideas to your clients.

Gathering the data

Once your client signs off on a piece, it’s time to dive into the data! Depending on the piece you’re creating, this might look like scraping websites and doing a ton of research to get the right data you need. Take your time on this, as you want to make sure your data is accurate and relevant.

Design

During this part of the process, it’s a great idea to start mocking up some potential designs. If your piece is smaller, this might be a quick and simple task. If you have a data visualization, this will be longer. Typically, it’s a good idea to create 2–3 mockups and give your client some options.

Development

Once your client signs off on a particular design, it’s time to dive into development.

Copy

The actual copy for the piece doesn’t have to happen after the development, but it’s usually a good idea to allow the copywriter to see how much space they have to work with. What you don’t want is for your copywriter to write 500 words when the designer has made space for 100. Communication is key in this process.

Testing

Once the piece is built, it’s important to test it out on various browsers and devices. Ask people to give it a run and try to fix as many errors/bugs as possible.

Promotion

Depending on your timeline, you might want to start promotion sooner than this. The important thing to note is to consider pre-pitching and reaching out to contacts to gauge their interest in the piece as soon as possible. Keep your contacts updated and be sure to give them everything they need for their stories.

Note: For further reference on pitching journalists, please see this post titled, “Beyond the Media List: Pro-Active Prospecting for Pitching Creative Content.”

Launch

It’s time to launch!

Push

On the day the piece launches, be sure that you are reminding journalists, reaching out to contacts, sharing the piece on social media, and making your social campaigns live.

Celebrate

There are a lot of steps to building a creative piece, so don’t underestimate the work that goes into it! After you launch the piece be sure to have a beer, give yourself a pat on the back, or do whatever it is you need to do to celebrate.


Post-ideation: What we came up with

After the process outlined above, our team came up with 50 States of Bacon.

The idea was simple: Everyone likes bacon, but who likes it the most? Ginny’s caters to a lot of people who love deep frying, so this was on-brand. We decided to use Instagram’s (now difficult to access) API to extract 33,742 photos that were tagged with #bacon and located within the USA. To normalize for population distribution and Instagram usage, we also collected 64,640 photos with the tags #food, #breakfast, #lunch, and #dinner.

To make this data more visual, we made it interactive and included some fun facts for each state.


What happened after we launched the piece?

So, what happened after we launched the piece? Let’s dive in.

Here are some of the larger websites 50 States of Bacon got picked up on.

Website

Domain Authority

Other

US News

94

Tweeted from account (115K+)

Mashable

96

Tweeted from account (6.95M+)

AOL Lifestyle

98

Referred 1,200+ visitors

Eater

85

N/A

Daily Dot

85

Tweeted from account (274K+)

Here is what the LRDs and DA looked like before we launched the piece, and then after 4 months of it being live:

Before Launch

4 Months Later

Linking Root Domains

450

600

Domain Authority

29

36

Let’s break this down by metric. Here’s a graph of the LRDs over time (we launched the piece at about the start of the uplift).

The domain authority didn’t budge until about 4 months after we launched the piece. We weren’t actively pursuing any other link-based campaigns during this time, so it’s safe to say the creative piece had a lot to do with this boost in DA.

Note: Since DA is refreshed with new pools of data, this observation wouldn’t have been as valid if the DA only moved one or two positions. But, since it moved 7 positions so close to the launch of this piece, I feel like it’s safe to assume the piece contributed greatly.

Does this mean if you do a similar piece that your DA will also increase? No. Does it give us a good example on what can happen? Absolutely.


A note on LRDs, DA, and setting expectations

Setting expectations with clients is hard. That’s even more true when you both know that links may be even more important than user engagement with your campaign. To make sure expectations are reasonable, you may want to encourage them to see this campaign as one of many over a long period of time. Then there’s less pressure on any individual piece.

So, it’s important to set expectations upfront. I would never tell a client that we can guarantee a certain number of links, or that we guarantee an increase in domain authority.

Instead, we can guarantee a piece of content that is well-built, well-researched, and interesting to their target audience. You can go one step further and guarantee reaching out to X amount of contacts, and you can estimate how many of those contacts will respond with a “yes” or “no.”

In fact, you should set goals. How much traffic would you like the piece to bring? What about social shares? What seems like a reasonable amount of LRD’s you could gain from a piece like this? Benchmark where you currently are, and make some reasonable goals.

The point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t promise your client a certain amount of links because, frankly, you’d be lying to them. Be upfront about what this looks like and show examples of work you’ve done before, but make sure to set their expectations correctly up front to avoid any conflicts down the road.


Conclusion

There’s a lot to be learned from the results of creative campaigns. The goal of this article is to share one piece that I’ve worked on with a client while highlighting some things that I learned/observed along the way. If you’d like to see more campaigns we’ve worked on at Distilled, take a look at our creative roundup for last year.

To wrap things up, here are the key takeaways:

  • Creative pieces take a lot of thought, work, and time. Don’t underestimate the task at hand.
  • Don’t frame the project as only focused on gaining links. Instead, aim for creating a compelling piece of content that is on-brand and has the potential to gain traction.
  • Oftentimes it’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket. Plan multiple pieces throughout the year.
  • If your research is right and you pitch the piece to the correct people, this is a strategy that can gain your domain some very strong LRDs. In this particular case, 110 linking root domains (and counting).
  • …But those links won’t come easy. You need to pre-pitch, remind, and re-pitch your contacts. There are many great pieces of content being published daily; you need to be proactive about ensuring your spots online.
  • There are other benefits to doing pieces like this aside from links. Social shares, brand awareness, and referral traffic are some other metrics to look at.
  • It is possible to increase your DA by doing a piece like this, but it takes time. Be patient, and continue doing great work in the meantime.

Other thoughts

  • There are some arguments to be made that a piece of content like this only has spikes and doesn’t do any good for a brand. I don’t believe this to be true. The way I see it, if a piece is too evergreen, it might not gain as many strong links. At the same time, if a piece is completely left-field and doesn’t fit with the brand, the links might not be as impactful. I think there’s a fine line here; it should be up to your best judgment on the pieces you should create.
  • This piece could potentially be updated every year to gain more links or traction (although it would be a lot more difficult with Instagram drastically limiting their API).
  • It’s possible that this piece didn’t have a direct impact on DA, but because there were no other link acquisition strategies during the 4 months, we can safely assume the two are correlated.
  • There’s an argument to be made that jumping from the 20s to the 30s is much easier than from 40s to 50s when you’re speaking of DA. We know that it gets more difficult to increase DA as it gets higher, so do keep that in mind.

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How to Build a Social Media Army

ThinkstockPhotos-518414242-782417-edited.jpgThe superheroes in Marvel Comics’ Avengers series often join forces, commonly in some sort of shiny form-fitting clothing, to defend the weak and powerless. Whether it was Thor’s bulging biceps, Ironman’s impressive armour or the Hulk’s super strength – at some point or another, I’m sure that something about this bunch has probably caught your attention.

Typically, the road to beating the baddies is generally an uphill one. Even superheroes need to hone their super powers, overcome a few hurdles, plot their defence and ultimately work together to save the world.

While your social media strategy may not call for the same techniques required to defeat a super villain, marketers can learn a thing or two from the Avengers. Here are a few ways that social media marketers can embrace their inner superhero and build their own social media army.

Training your team

It takes a lot of hard work to be the best. Ensuring that your staff understand the value of digital/inbound marketing and social media is all about training. If they don’t understand what social media and inbound marketing can do for the business, chances are that they won’t do it very effectively.

Conducting workshops and teaching your team about the importance of this content is a social media management essential. Part of this training should focus on teaching staff about your business model, all the ins and outs of the product, your content strategy and how best to engage with customers.

Working together

While each of the Avengers is a superhero in their own right, the real magic happens when they come together. Harnessing the power of collaboration is all about encouraging your staff to work together to complete tasks themselves, rather than outsourcing work to others.

Content is a great way to do so. Before paying other writers to author blogs, why not motivate your staff to try their hand at writing content. Not only will this add to their digital/inbound knowledge, but it also allows them to put all of the knowledge they gained during their training to good use.

The best offense is a good defense

Defending the free world is a prerequisite on any superhero’s day planner. As a marketer, your aim should be to defend yourself against employee fatigue. By creating a solid content plan, an organised social media planning calendar, spreading the responsibilities for creating content and posting that content, you will eliminate irregularity and ensure consistency across all social accounts.

And why is consistency so important? Not only does it give your business a distinct identity, it also differentiates your business from your competitors, ensures your message stands out in customer’s minds and increases customer loyalty.

Changing your strategy

It’s generally around the middle of the movie that the good guys hit a stumbling block. At this point they usually do a little soul searching and realise that defeating their foes may require them to rethink their game plan.

Where the marketers of old were focused on hard selling, they now need to be thinking about hard content. From blogs and emails to white papers and eBooks, providing useful content is one of the best ways to target customers at any stage of their buying journey.

The key with this content is to provide customers with a compelling enough value proposition so that they are willing to give you their contact information. The idea behind premium content is to market the information as “exclusive” and to convince them that the content has a higher value.

Social media provides a great platform to promote this content and to focus your strategy on getting visitors back to your own website to begin their journey with your business. Get this strategy right and you will have a solid lead generation system that’s future proof.

Making the most of tech

Speaking of content, and sharing this content, technology provides marketers with a great opportunity to promote their content to the masses. Would Thor have the same oomph without his hammer? And what would Iron Man really be able to achieve without his armour? Sure, they’d all still be superheroes but their gadgets make their jobs a whole bunch easier. Marketers should think about social media in the same way.

Using marketing software can enable you to post content on behalf of your whole team. This helps to avoid a big issue for marketers and sales teams alike. Internal email asking everyone to help and share can often be hard to make stick and often only 5% support without more follow ups and aggressive KPIs.

All of this costs time, leads and sales.  Software can help you remove this and if you’ve got a team of 40 for example sharing instantly straight from your marketing department, you’ve just built a social media army and a force to be reckoned with.

At the end of the day, it’s through the efforts of a great team that success is achieved. Whether you’re a social media marketer or a superhero, the principles are the same – if your team know what they need to do, if your attack is well organised and if you’re using the resources you have at your disposal, it’s only a matter of time before you overcome your adversaries.  

Are you keen to build a social army and take your social media management to superhero heights, download our Ultimate Guide to Social Media.

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Easy Marketing Partnerships That Work: Why Every Marketer Needs a Marketing Guild

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Over the last four years I’ve helped thousands of businesses create marketing guilds so they could generate more leads and customers, share marketing costs, and ultimately dominate their target markets.

You might ask, what the heck is a marketing guild?

Unlike an industrial guild where businesses creating similar products or services work together, a marketing guild is a group of businesses that sell different products to the same people.

Typically a marketing guild is formed by one or two marketers who invite marketers at other businesses with similar customers to join them. For example a mortgage broker, a custom home builder, and a real estate agent could work together to create a marketing guild focused on homeowners in their region.

Some businesses may belong to more than one marketing guild. This is common if you sell to distinctly different customer segments, for example an HVAC company that offers both commercial and residential service.

You probably already have a few marketing partners for your business. Maybe you wrote a guest blog post or allowed someone to write for your blog. You might have a partners page on your website, or you might feature a friendly company in your monthly email newsletter.

Whether you have existing partners or not, building a marketing guild for your industry will make everything you do in marketing exponentially more powerful.

Power Up With a Guild

A marketing guild lets you land better marketing partners, reach more of your target market, focus more tightly on your best prospects, create more effective campaigns, get more done, and have a little fun at the same time.

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Unfortunately, your business isn’t the perfect marketing partner to every other business who sells to your target market.

For instance, mortgage brokers get most of their leads from real estate agents. Real estate agents don’t get most of their leads from mortgage brokers.

Imagine being a mortgage broker trying to convince a popular real estate agent to become your marketing partner. What’s in it for them?

But when the mortgage broker first creates a marketing guild comprised of her mortgage business plus a local home inspector, a surveyor, a divorce attorney, a closing attorney, an appraiser, a personal financial planner, a residential insurance agent, and a custom home builder that same real estate agent can’t wait to join the group.

Flex Your Reach

Every marketer struggles to reach all the best prospects in her market. At a minimum, it’s not cost effective. At worst it’s just not possible.

But every successful marketer is able to build relationships with her own little slice of a target market. In a marketing guild, each business makes their little slice available to their partners in exchange for access to the total pie.

Focus on Your Best Prospects

Every time a person interacts with a business, part of a story is told.

  • People who visit a mortgage broker’s website probably own a house, or soon will.
  • People reading online about rafting trips near Asheville, North Carolina are probably about to book a vacation there.
  • People who visit a wedding planner’s website are probably about to get married.

A marketing guild lets you test assumptions like these by introducing your company to prospects who have recently interacted with other businesses in the group.

Follow the Leader

Someone selling to your target customer has already figured out the perfect way to find them, talk to them, and inspire them to take action.

Ask your partners what they’ve learned and share your areas of success. Several heads is always better than one.

Fast-forward to the Finish

I’ve found there’s nothing better than a little peer pressure to get busy partners to deliver their commitments on time. In the fast-paced world of digital marketing it’s easy to overcommit and the natural instinct for partners is to take care of themselves first when they’re behind schedule.

Ever had to nudge a partner to publish a guest blog post you delivered last month?

With a marketing guild, herd mentality keeps people on track. A few partners will hit their deadlines to the group, motivating those playing catch-up to make their contributions too.

Momentum is your friend.

Wait, Did He Say Fun?

Marketing is supposed to be fun, after all. Isn’t it? And nothing’s more fun than interacting with other marketers who face challenges like yours every day.

Digital marketing doesn’t always have to be done online. If you’ve built a local marketing guild among businesses in your community, consider ways to get the group together in real life.

Or, if your group is geographically diverse, set up a Google Group for open communication, or get on a Hangout and get everyone acquainted.

Consider engaging your partners in creative ways, like letting them submit subject lines for an email marketing test. Offer a silly prize to the person whose subject line gets the best open rate.

Marketing Guilds in Action

Marketing guilds work best when members agree upon a calendar of shared promotions in advance. In the next section I’ll talk more about how those agreements can be made.

That said, common activities among marketing guild members include guest blogging, shared social media promotions, writing and promoting group articles, and advertising to pooled remarketing audiences using a tool like BoostSuite.

Now, let’s look at two examples of marketing guilds in action.

The Regional Homeowners Marketing Guild

A regional homeowners marketing guild is comprised of businesses who sell products or services to homeowners in a specific area.

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The group consists of one business from each of the following industries:

  • Mortgage brokers
  • Real estate agents
  • Home inspectors
  • Surveyors
  • Divorce attorneys
  • Closing attorneys
  • Appraisers
  • Personal financial planners
  • Residential insurance agents
  • Custom home builders

Although home improvement vendors like plumbers, lawn maintenance, appliance repair, and window washers exist too, this group is focused on higher dollar service providers who work more closely around home purchases.

A separate group focused on home improvement and repair vendors who target homeowners could be formed among those service providers too.

The Regional Growing Companies Marketing Guild

A regional growing companies marketing guild organizes businesses who sell products or services to growing businesses in a specific area.

The group consists of one business from each of the following industries:

  • Corporate benefits and insurance
  • Commercial real estate brokers
  • Recruiters/staffing companies
  • Accountants
  • Attorneys
  • Software development firms
  • Branding/PR firms
  • Financial advisors
  • Executive coaching services
  • Leadership development seminar providers
  • Fractional CFO services
  • Venture capital firms
  • Community banks

Growing companies need different things than stagnating companies. The industries represented here focus on services most often consumed by businesses on the rise.

5 Steps to Creating A Marketing Guild for Your Industry

Creating the marketing guild you need to grow your business isn’t actually that tough, but in most cases you’ll need to create the group yourself.

Creating a marketing guild takes a bit of brainstorming, a few contacts from your Rolodex, and just a smidge of cat herding (that part comes last).

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The first four steps can be done in less than an hour, on paper or digitally. You don’t need to involve your future partners until the last step “assemble the group.”

From experience I’ve also learned that after you confirm the first three members, the rest of the group drops in place pretty quickly.

Follow these five steps to create your marketing guild.

1) Start With Your Target Customer

This one’s usually the easiest.

Answer this question. To whom do you typically sell your products and services? If you’ve already developed marketing personas for your business, start there.

Give your target customers a name. Like ‘homeowners’ or ‘growing companies’ from the examples I shared above.

2) Name Your Marketing Guild

Will your marketing guild focus on customers in a specific region? If so, start the group name with the name of that region. This makes it clear to prospective partners that you’re thinking locally where there best customers are too.

Now, after the region name (if applicable) add your target customer’s name from the previous step.

Region Name + Target Customer

Tri-State + Homeowners

You’ll end up with something like the Tri-State Homeowners Marketing Guild, or the Research Triangle Growing Companies Marketing Guild.

Why’s the name so important? It’s all about the partners you’ll add next.

A clear name focuses the group on a well known target customer and a specific region (if applicable) so your partners will instantly know this is the group for them.

3) Brainstorm a List of Partner Industries

This is probably the most important step of the entire process. Building the correct industry list means your partners can provide you the prospective customers you need, and every business you’re recruiting will benefit from the group as well.

Shoot for at least 10 industries in your list.

What usually happens is you’ll forget one or two now, then your first invitees will suggest them later. Then you’ll find an industry or two where it’s hard to convince good businesses to join. In result, you’ll still end up with around 10 total businesses when you’re done.

To build your list, think again about your target customer. Ask yourself these questions.

  • What else do they buy?
  • What could they buy that indicates they will soon need your products or services?
  • What else do they need soon after they buy from you?

Next, think about your business. In the last six months,

  • Have you referred a sales lead to any other business?
  • Has a business referred a sales lead to you?

Finally, consider your existing relationships.

  • Do you have existing sales or marketing partners?
  • Do you have guest blogging relationships?
  • Do you have people who frequently promote your content in social media?

Resist the urge to include trade groups in your list. Your best marketing partners will be from other industries that commonly have customers in your target market. You’re not likely to find great marketing partners among businesses too similar to yours, and they can be difficult to work. For this exercise, avoid them entirely.

Review your industry list and make sure each one has prospective customers for your business. Then double check that each other industry has at least two industries who have prospective customers for them too.

4) Select One Business in Each Industry

Go through your industry list and recommend one business to represent each industry in your marketing guild.

If you have multiple businesses you’re considering for any industry, filter your choices down to just one by looking for the following properties of a great marketing guild partner:

  1. You already have strong rapport with them.
  2. They have the required access and control to be a good partner.
    1. They control their website.
    2. They control their email newsletter.
    3. They control their social media accounts.
    4. They can make marketing and advertising decisions on their own.
  3. Their customers are in the same location as your customers.
  4. They can credibly invite other partners to the group.

If you’re a local business, watch out for franchisees and branch offices of larger companies. These types of businesses may not be able to support your local marketing activities, especially if their marketing decisions are made at the national or international level.

Avoid the tendency to partner with global businesses if you only sell in one of their regions. It’s unlikely you’ll be a good partner to them and most of their customer relationships will be outside your region.

If you can’t come up with a business for every industry in your list, that’s fine. Leave those spots open. In the next step you can appeal to your early members to help fill in the blanks.

It’s actually a great way to engage the first members of your group. The whole thing feels more like their idea if they’re extended the privilege of recommending one or two businesses themselves.

5) Assemble the Group

Now, let’s put your brilliant plan into action.

You have a clearly defined target customer, and a region if necessary. They’re both proudly represented in your marketing guild name. You have a list of industries and most of them have a business matched to them.

It’s time to assemble your marketing guild.

Email the two or three businesses you think are most likely to join the group. Get their confirmation before emailing the rest.

In each email remind prospective partners who you are, what your business does, and who you sell to. Tell your partners why you’re creating a marketing guild and share the list of industries you plan to include.

Mention one or two other businesses who have already confirmed their spots in the marketing guild and don’t forget to tell the prospective partner that you’ve recommended their business to fill the single spot available in the group for their industry.

I always recommend closing the email with an invitation to the first meeting of the group. If you’re inviting partners outside your area, I recommend you meet online. Make sure to include call-in details and a proposed date and time in your invitation.

Your New Marketing Guild in Action

Congratulations, you’re now the proud founder of your very own marketing guild. Try an agenda like this when your group first gets together:

  • Introduce the marketing guild and explain its purpose
  • Each marketer explains their business and their role
  • Each marketer shares one idea for how they might help other businesses in the group
  • Brainstorm a list of shared marketing activities the group can conduct together
  • Commit to just one or two marketing activities for the upcoming quarter
  • Pick a group leader who will schedule the next meeting and remind everyone of project deadlines as they approach

Like any group, setting expectations upfront is key. Try not to overcommit in all the excitement. Set a few goals for the first quarter, get buy-in from the members, and see how it goes.

If done correctly, your marketing guild will become a key part of your overall marketing strategy. Considering the minimal effort required, it’s an extremely effective way to generate more leads and customers, share marketing costs, and ultimately dominate your target market.

Want to start partnering with like-minded business to build your own marketing guild? Subscribe to the BoostSuite blog and learn more about the free BoostSuite advertising platform.

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How to Make the Most of Your To-Do List: 7 Styles to Try

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In my family, memory is an asset.

It’s not that we’re senile. It’s just that our minds move too quickly. We’re so busy jumping ahead to whatever’s next that we forget what we were doing in the first place.

So if we want to remember anything, we have to write it down. We are a to-do list family.

To-do lists have quite the history. They date back at least to the 1700s, as you’ll see below, and have been the subject of glee, contention, and productivity advice alike ever since. And while they’ve evolved significantly over the years, they still stand to serve a pretty similar purpose: To plan what we need to do.

Download our complete guide to productivity here for more tips to improve your  productivity.

What did that look like, once upon a time? And what does it look like for us today? As it turns out, the answer to the latter is different for everyone, and we’ve identified some of the ways people make to-do lists work for them.

The Earliest To-Do Lists

In his 1791, Benjamin Franklin recorded what was one of the earliest-known forms of a to-do list. But his intention behind the list wasn’t exactly to get stuff done — instead, he used it as a way of making sure he contributed something positive each day. He started his list with the question, “What good shall I do this day?”

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Source: Daily Dot

I won’t lie — Franklin’s to-do list doesn’t look entirely far off from mine. Granted, I don’t usually include the words “diversion” and “contrive” to describe what I need to do on a given day, but our respective lists achieve the same thing. I also schedule time in the morning to eat, and often use the lunch hour for my own version of “overlooking accounts.” You and I aren’t so different, Franklin.

What’s really changed are the different options available to us for creating and organizing to-do lists. Though not nearly as ancient as Franklin’s style, many of us can remember owning a paper day planner — those actually date back to 1924, with the debut of the Wanamaker Diary.

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Source: Boston Globe

But the age of the digital to-do list really started when computer operating systems were including calendar programs in their ensuite software packages, like primitive versions of Outlook Calendar. Those were followed by a 1992 version of a smartphone called Simon — which included scheduling features — and then came calendar-ready PDAs, or personal digital assistants. The first generation of online calendars came along in the early 2000s, which eventually evolved into programs like Google Calendar that could be synced with their smartphone counterparts.

In other words, it’s been a long time since we needed a pen nearby to take note of something — as long as we have a mobile device nearby, we can text reminders to ourselves, enter events into its calendar program, or use a voice search feature to set a reminder.

But I find it so interesting that something that now seems like antiquated technology — the PDA/personal digital assistant — is now become more applicable than ever again. We’re seeing more and more programs that were originally intended to be voice search platforms evolve into virtual personal assistants. So we’ll definitely touch on those, and how they come into play in the modern age of the to-do list.

How to Make the Most of Your To-Do List: 7 Styles to Try

1) The Classic Handwritten List

Around here, we joke about what an old-fashioned gal I can be. I go to bed early, have a collection of film noir, and reminisce for cartoons of the early 90s. I also keep a handwritten to-do list, which — with all of the bells and whistles available to us these days — is almost archaic.

I have a weird system for using my handwritten to-do list, too: I use it in tandem with Google Calendar, which we’ll get to later, and I use it as a shield from distractions.

When I’m working, I might get a random thought of something that I want to look up on the internet, or a personal message I want to send, or an errand I need to run. More often than I’d like, I respond to those thoughts in one of two ways: 1) Dropping what I’m doing to address it, or 2) saying, “I’ll deal with it later,” and forgetting about it.

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But having a notebook beside me while I’m working gives me a place to store these things, without completely interrupting my work to deal with them. Some of them are more important than others, but this way, I have a place to “put away” any distractions. (You’ll notice I use cartoonish exclamation point to indicate “fun” tasks.) And with the rapidly-dwindling attention span of humans, any hack to stay focused is welcome, especially in a deadline-driven line of work.

2) Bullet Journals

It seems like Bullet Journaling is the to-do list du jour. Everyone is talking about it, and yet, so few people seem to understand it.

Even when I surveyed my colleagues who have been giving it a shot, the reviews were mixed — most were falling behind on using it, and the others weren’t sure if it was actually benefiting them. One of them, my fellow marketing blogger Sophia Bernazzani, was kind enough to share a picture of hers:

Bullet Journal

A Bullet Journal, Bernazzani explained to me, works for her, “because it easily lets me see my big-picture priorities and daily to-dos all in one place.”

According to a semi-official Bullet Journal website, the strategy is best described as a “customizable and forgiving organization system” that works as an all-in-one “to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary.” Here’s what I was able to deduce from the remainder of the website content:

  • It’s a list of tasks, events, and miscellaneous notes.
  • Lists can be daily, monthly, or yearly.
  • Symbols are used to indicate the category and importance of each item.

What sets it apart from other to-do lists is its purpose to keep people from going nuts over the stuff they didn’t get done. It matches some research performed by a productivity app called iDoneThis, which found that 41% of to-do items are never completed. With the Bullet Journal system, nothing is ever crossed off — it’s just labeled with a new symbol that indicates it needs to be migrated to a future date.

The other differentiator is Bullet Journal’s advice to take daily logs one day at a time, instead of listing those items too far in advance. It also recommends not making these lists too long, which also aligns with research — studies have indicated that the more items on our to do lists, the less we’re likely to get done.

3) The 3-Step To-Do List

Earlier this year, my colleague, Christine Ianni, spoke with Pultizer-winning author and journalist Charles Duhigg about how the most productive people manage their time. He revealed a three-step process that breaks down larger, more difficult steps into micro-steps.

It looks something like this. Start with a blank sheet, and then:

  1. Think of your stretch goal for the day.
  2. Write your goal at the top of your page.
  3. Break your goal down into actionable/measurable steps.

Basically, this method decreases the intimidation factor of big projects. When larger goals each have their own to-do list, they’re re-organized into the smaller steps that lead to it being fully complete.

Curious to learn more about how that works? Check out our interview Duhigg on HubSpot’s The Growth Show.

4) Online Calendars

Here’s where my to-do listing is a bit more hip than an old-fashioned, handwritten inventory of distractions. I’ve written before about my tendency to schedule my day down to the very last detail — my online calendars are great for that.

Notice that I pluralized it — “calendars.” That’s because I have multiple online schedules, for both work and personal items. But thanks to cloud technology and the ability of calendars to merge together in one place — like iCal or my phone’s calendar software — I can have all of this information on a single platform.

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Like a few of my colleagues, I later found out, I use my online calendars in tandem with another to-do list format. Instead of just listing what I need to do, the calendar breaks down how much time I have to complete things throughout my day, from walking the dog to getting my writing done in the morning.

It also helps me remember to take breaks throughout the day. I’m not always so good at actually taking them, but since the most productive people remember to take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in, I at least include it as an action item for myself. And by aligning them with my handwritten to-do list — where I write down reminders to look into otherwise distracting things — it helps to ensure that those 52 minutes of work aren’t severely interrupted.

What’s also cool about Google is its “Goals” feature, which lets you schedule out longer-term items — like learning a new language, for example — and dictating how much time you want to dedicate to them each day, month, or year. And, Goals keeps you accountable. If another commitment is scheduled during the time originally set aside to work on that longer-term item, Google will automatically reschedule the latter for you. So no excuses — it’s time to learn Japanese! Or, you know, whatever it is that you want to take up.

5) Virtual Personal Assistants

Last week saw the launch of Google Allo, a “smart messaging app” that also comes equipped with Google Assistant — a virtual concierge, if you will. It’s preemptive to the rumored October 4th launch of Google Home, which sources say is likely to use similar technology.

So why does that matter? Well, Google Home is another addition to the growing list of stand-alone virtual assistants that don’t require the use of a mobile device. And among their many capabilities, these in-home virtual assistants should be able to help set reminders.

Google Home will play in the same leagues as Amazon’s Echo, which uses its own voice search technology, Alexa, to assist with these requests and queries. I’ll let Alec Baldwin — who, by the way, you can come see at INBOUND 2016 — help explain:

Google and Amazon aren’t alone in this technology — let’s not forget Siri, one of the original voice search platforms that was programmed to create to-do lists and set reminders.

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Digital personal assistants tend to accomplish different things than the other types we’ve covered thus far. For me, at least, Siri is a great tool for creating or adding things to a to-do list when I’m on-the-go, or don’t have time to go through the process of adding a new event to my calendar.

We anticipate that this method of virtual to-do listing might continue to gain popularity — after all, look at how many major names are entering the space.

6) The “I Did” List

My colleague, Mike Renahan, is rumored around here to know a thing or two about productivity — you can check out some of his articles here. Naturally, I asked him how he organizes his to-do list.

His answer? He doesn’t, really. Instead, he uses what he calls an “I Did” list.

“You write down all the goals you accomplished in a given day,” he explains, “and those dictate what goals you set for yourself tomorrow.”

Here’s an example of what that looks like for him:

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As you can see, Renahan keeps this running list in a note in his phone so that he can update it whenever, wherever. “I update this list every day when I’m on the train,” he told me. “It helps me reflect on how productive I was in a given day. And from there, I can start planning realistic goals for the following day.”

Renahan’s approach works to resolve the emphasis on the incomplete by focusing on the good things we did on a given day. And instead just adding more and more things to an existing list, his theory says to use the good things to dictate what you’ll do tomorrow.

7) Task Management Apps

Finally, we reach the inevitable “there’s an app for that” method of organizing to-do lists.

Make no mistake — these apps are different than digital personal assistants. Rather than dictating reminders and scheduling items to a separate platform, many of these apps allow you to be in full control of your tasks.

There are tons of task management apps out there — Wunderlist and the aforementioned iDoneThis are two of the more recognizable names.

But among my colleagues, like the Section Editor of the Hubspot Sales Blog, Leslie Ye, it seems like Todoist is the most popular.

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She’s written about it before, and says that being able to triage the items on her to-do list according to their priority is major benefit. Plus, unlike a lot of other task management apps, Todoist has managed to gamify these tasks — the more you successfully complete, the more “karma points” you can earn.

“And accumulating karma points,” Ye explains, “is a fun way to gamify something that is usually a source of stress.”

Feeling organized?

At a time when we seem to be busier than ever — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as that’s been said to improve our cognition — staying organized can become a challenge. But that’s only if you don’t have the right tools and, as we’ve illustrated, there are plenty of those to be found.

As we noted before, not every method is perfect for everyone, and whichever one makes you most productive might not look conventional. These methods can be combined and used in tandem with each other — like I do with handwritten lists and online calendars — or maybe there’s just a singular method that works best for you.

And maybe there’s a really cool, unknown to-do list organization method out there that we need to know about. Got one? Let us know in the comments.

free productivity tips

Why Your School Should Move Away from Purchased Lists

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Buying an email list may seem like a good idea when your database seems light and you have an email campaign to run. We get it, no one’s going to apply to your school if they’ve never heard of it. But didn’t you listen to your mother? What did she tell you about short cuts? (Ignore this if your Mom was totally OK with taking short cuts.)

Buying (it’s actually “renting”) an email list is a short cut, which means it’s the fastest route to a host of marketing problems. Bad delivery, open, and conversion rates on your campaign may be the least of your worries.

The entire premise of inbound marketing is that you succeed by attracting the right prospects to you and build a relationship based on your credibility. So your bought list gets your name in front of some new people. Applying to school isn’t an impulse purchase. You still need to start from a place of trust. If you start the process with a purchased list of email addresses, you undermine the entire foundation of your marketing efforts.

The more effective alternative to buying an email list is enticing prospects to freely choose to joining your email list because they’ve had a taste of your content and affirmatively decided they want to hear more from you.

For more information on how to build lists from scratch, check out out ebook From Stranger to Student >>

Look at the contrast. You can send a thoughtful marketing email to a bunch of people who have given you permission to connect and expressed a willingness to hear what you have to say. Or, you can invest your marketing resources and efforts in sending emails to people who may have never heard of you and never given any indication they’re specifically interested in your school.

Which list do you think will convert better?

Bought lists suck because they usually have inaccurate, old information. These lists have been rented umpteen times, so you know the people on it have already been spammed to death. But the results of using these types of lists are more detrimental to your school than one poorly performing email campaign.

You Just Turned Off a Whole Group of People

When you get a prospect’s permission to market to them, you’re continuing a relationship. Whereas when you send random people – and your school is random to them at this point – this marketing email is their first impression of your school. And it’s probably not a very good impression no matter how “perfect” your subject line, how great your messages are or how well laid out its design is. Some people on a purchased list may have been, at some point, interested in learning more about your school. They may have found you during their own self-initiated research phase.

Now when they deepen their own research efforts and they’re ready to see your school, they’ll remember you as that intruder who showed up uninvited in their inboxes. That may smack of either desperation or aggressiveness to them. Not good. And that’s lost trust and credibility you can’t get back easily.

Using Purchased Lists Undermines the Deliverability of ALL Your Emails

When we get unsolicited emails, we typically mark them as spam. You do too. Everyone does that. When lots of people start marking your emails as spam, you start getting a bad reputation with your email service provider (ESP). ESPs are deeply invested in making sure that the emails sent through their systems don’t get dinged as spam, as they’re being watched too.

An ESP with a high volume of spam email sent through its servers can have all the email going through it blocked by the internet service providers. That cramps their business. So before it gets to that point, the ESP will block the bad actor in its midst that’s putting their operations at risk — you.

That means that none of your email, regardless of who the intended recipients are, will get through. All your email marketing efforts will be shut down. No alumni drive emails. No campaigns to schedule on-campus tours with people who’ve downloaded an application. No follow-up campaigns with candidates who visited your campus. 

That’s why most ESPs (the reputable ones, anyway) make it a violation of their terms of service for you to use a purchased list or send spam. Another reason to avoid buying email lists.

You Lose Out on Good Intel

Email personalization is a huge driver of lead nurturing and conversion success. People respond to emails that are directly relevant to them. They want to get emails that are relevant to their preferences and concerns. You only send personalized email when your organization has accurate intel about the people in your database. 

We’re not just talking about a lack of information or inaccurate information you’ll find on a purchased list. That’s part of it. Sending an email to someone about your medical code billing program when they’re interested in nursing doesn’t present your institution as reliable or terribly capable. 

That’s all true. But your real loss comes due to lack of attention and smart intel gathering on the list you already have. Getting a prospect into your database is only the first step. When you design your forms, and use progressive profiling, you’re collecting the information you want. You can start asking prospects for their expected application timeframe, academic major, or extracurricular interests. Any information you can use to deliver personalized content that can have the greatest impact.

You send emails and make other offers of content or reasons to connect. Everything your contacts do, or don’t do, tells you more about them so you can send more on-target offers down the line. Someone in your database starts reading a lot of blog posts about students with children. Identifying this behavior lets you trigger off an email series that includes video testimonials from current students with children and links to pages on your website that explain your flexible, online learning opportunities.

These are the insightful intelligence data bits that fuel your marketing strategies for segmenting and personalizing your future offers to them.

Beware the False Economies 

A false economy is where you act to cut down on costs, only to discover in the end that action cost you a bundle instead. The direct cost of buying an email list may seem low. It’s certainly less expensive than the direct investment of time and effort to build a strong opt-in list.

But the costs you risk — undermining your school’s reputation by getting tagged as a spammer, losing the ability to send any emails, and letting competitor institutions cut in on the opt-in names you’re not attracting and leveraging — make buying email lists an exceedingly expensive tactic you can avoid. Bottom line: Build your list. Don’t rent one. 

  Email MArketing For Schools

10 Pieces of Content Your Audience Really Wants to See [New Data]

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Content marketing is constantly evolving, which is what we here on the HubSpot blogging team love about our jobs. It keeps things interesting. And while it’s easy to get caught up in experimenting with innovative content, it’s important that we pay close attention to how our readers are changing, too.

According to HubSpot Research, 2016 marks the start of a new phase of technological development, where new innovations and consumer preferences will usher in a new way of how marketers will do business. To learn more about the challenges marketers face today, download the free  2016 State of Inbound report here.

Our research team surveyed over 1,000 internet users worldwide to learn about their preferences and behaviors when it comes to their content consumption habits. In this article, we’re diving deeper into two specific trends to discuss how marketers can prepare their content strategies to meet the needs of their readers.

What content types do readers want to see more of in the future?

HubSpot Research found that internet users’ behaviors are changing to reflect a growing interest in visual content. They’re also shifting where they’re reading content, choosing social media platforms over of more traditional blog and long-form outlets:

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It’s important to note that these survey results don’t mean that content creators should abandon mediums such as blogging or podcasting, as these content outlets will continue to provide value over time. Instead, what the above chart suggests is that marketers should develop a more diversified strategy to meet the growing demand for alternative content types such as video and social media content.

How are readers consuming content?

For content creators, it’s important to know what kind of content readers want, and also how they want to read it. HubSpot found that different types of content are more likely to retain readers’ close attention than others. Generally speaking, longer written content is more likely to be skimmed, and content with more visual elements, such as videos and images, are more likely to be thoroughly consumed:

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Now that we’ve reviewed the types of content readers want and how they want to consume them, let’s take a look at some effective examples of below.

10 Pieces of Content Your Audience Actually Wants to See

Click on the categories below to check out examples of the types of content your audience is looking for:

  1. Videos
  2. Social Media
  3. News Articles
  4. Research Content
  5. Online Classes/Educational Games

Videos

Video is and will continue to be a huge part of content marketing: According to Cisco, 80% of web traffic will be video by 2019. That’s a lot. And this same sentiment is reflected in the latest report from HubSpot Research, where 45% of survey respondents admitted to watching 1+ hours of video on Facebook and YouTube each week.

To further illustrate this point, let’s consider that users watch 8 billion videos on Facebook and 10 billion videos on Snapchat per day. Today, social media platforms are becoming more about content sharing and discovery, so an integrated video and social media strategy will be necessary for brands seeking to compete. (Learn more about creating video for social media in our free ebook.)

1) Tasty on BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos are a great example of the type of video content people want to consume. According to their Facebook Page, they can be best described as “snack-sized videos and recipes you’ll want to try.” It’s as simple as that.

Each video covers one recipe in an engaging, fast-motion format — making them tailor-made for Facebook scanners.

Why this work so well:

  • They’re short and sweet. Mini Matters reports that YouTube viewers favor short videos, approximately 42 seconds in length.
  • They don’t require sound to understand what’s going on. According to Digiday, 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound.
  • They teach how-to skills. Google reports that searches for “how to” video content have increased 70% year-over-year.

Views: 1.1 million

2) Vox Media

Vox’s video content varies between news, explainers, entertainment, and how-to videos (check out their full YouTube channel here), and their videos are highly shareable and easy to consume.

Why this work so well:

  • The video are around two minutes in length. According to research from Wistia, this length is optimal to ensure viewers watch all the way through to the end.
  • They feature captions and animations so viewers can understand the gist of the video without having to turn on the volume.
  • They cover breaking news, which 64% of Twitter users surveyed said they want to see more of.

Views: 2.7 million

Social Media

The global social media audience is vast: Facebook has 1.7 billion daily active users (DAUs), Instagram has 500 million, Twitter has 313 million, and Snapchat has 150 million. Users are consuming more content than ever on social media networks, and content creators will have to shift their publication strategy to meet their audience where they’re gathering information.

3) Intel

 

Here’s another example of the power of video marketing in the context of social media posts — the second most popular content form users are looking for. Intel creates products in the information technology and cloud computing space, but their tweets touch on how technology interacts with the rest of the world.

For example, this tweet shares a video from Drone 100, an event Intel hosted in Sydney, Australia where users launched Intel drones for a crowdsourced light show. (Learn more about how to use Twitter for business here.)

Why this work so well:

  • The tweet uses video, which drives engagement: 82% of Twitter users watch video content, and Twitter videos drive more retweets, likes, and replies than video on third-party players.
  • The tweet uses relevant hashtags sparingly. Locowise found that numerous hashtags don’t contribute to greater Twitter engagement, but that the occasional relevant hashtag, such as #TBT or a branded campaign hashtag, can help new users find your content.

Retweets: 190, Likes: 492

4) FedEx

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FedEx features stunning photos of their trucks, planes, and envelopes around the world, and what’s more, the vast majority of their posts are photos taken by other Instagram users. Rather than posting boring photos from a mail sorting facility, FedEx featured this gorgeous shot of a branded plane with a full moon in the background.

Why this works so well:

  • Their Instagram features user-generated content (UGC), which humanizes brands and promotes greater brand engagement.
  • Their posts feature hashtags, which help users find new Instagram accounts to follow. According to research from TrackMaven, Instagram posts with four to five hashtags saw an increase in interactions.

Likes: 1,337

News Articles

Four in ten Americans get their news online, and 55% of HubSpot Research respondents find new content by searching on publications’ websites directly. That said, online newspapers and magazines should continue regular, if not daily, publication to keep up with reader demand.

5) ESPN

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According to our research, more readers want news articles, but that doesn’t mean they want to read them thoroughly. As 37% of those surveyed indicated they would be more likely to skim-read news articles, this article from ESPN does a great job of balancing the desires of skim-readers and content devourers alike.

Why it works so well:

  • This longer article features an accompanying video for those who don’t have the time to read the full text.
  • It includes bullets and images to maintain reader attention and to break up larger paragraphs of text.

Facebook Shares: 1.9K

6) Mashable

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Here’s a shorter news article from Mashable, the blog-turned-news outlet that covers anything and everything related to the technology in our lives. This article does a great job of balancing the needs of both skim-readers and close-readers with its comprehensive overview without overwhelming readers.

Why it works so well:

  • The article incorporates tweets and external content from Elon Musk’s master plan to make the article more diverse and visually interesting.
  • The article uses visuals, which are more memorable than text alone according to the picture superiority effect.
  • It has a clear headline that tells the story of the article if readers don’t make it to the end, which Copyblogger tells us only 20% will.

Social Media Shares: 2.2K

Research Content

Based on our survey, readers are looking for original research that can be consumed thoroughly, but also easily understood. Research publications should look to other trends in content marketing, such as the increased interest in visual elements, to guide their research strategy.

7) Chartbeat

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Here’s a short and sweet research article from the folks over at Chartbeat. If you’re producing research content at your organization, there are a few strategies you can test to get more readers looking at your work.

Why it works so well:

  • It uses effective data visualization. According to Brain Rules, relevant images accompanied by reading or hearing information helps us remember 65% of the information days later — when we read text alone, we only remember 10%.
  • It uses color, which is an important factor when it comes to creating visual elements: Color improves content readership, recall, and attention span by roughly 80%.
  • Text is broken up with quickly digestible images, like the clearly captioned graphs above. This is important because research shows that readers might only read 20% of an article’s text, while scanning the rest.
  • The content is actionable. Readers want to come away knowing how to apply the results of findings to their own strategies.

8) Nielsen

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Here’s another cool graphical breakdown of research from Nielsen, which researches consumer and media behaviors around the world. They conducted detailed research about global eating habits and how they’ve evolved according to demographic and socioeconomic changes around the world, but the published results aren’t lengthy. It’s easy to scan this research and quickly glean the results without poring over a huge paper.

Why it works so well:

  • The headline inspires curiosity in the reader and takes advantage of a phenomenon known as the curiosity gap, which makes readers more likely to click and learn new information.
  • The research article uses information-carrying images, such as graphs, infographics, and charts, which readers typically pay more attention to than the rest of the text on the page.

Online Classes/Educational Games

9) CodeAcademy

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CodeAcademy’s online coding classes are easy, portable, and, most importantly, free. Anyone can sign up for these interactive lessons and see the website, game, or program they’re building as they complete each module so they can see their finished product.

Why they work so well:

  • The classes meet a demand: CodeAcademy teaches Java, SQL, and Python, which are among the most popular coding skills in terms of their demand in the workplace.
  • The classes have clear course objectives and are easy to use, which, according to an Eduventures survey, were students’ top priorities when pursuing online classes. CodeAcademy’s bare bones platform is split so that students can always see an overview on the left-hand side of what they’re studying and how it will help them long-term.

Users: 24 million

10) HubSpot Academy Certifications

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HubSpot Academy Certifications are free online training courses centered around the development of marketing and sales skills. The Inbound Marketing Certification course, for example, provides folks with an opportunity to invest in their career by staying up-to-date on the latest marketing best practices.

Why they work so well:

  • The classes are self-paced. This approach represents a growing trend in the e-learning space, as it allows student the flexbility they need to work around their schedules.
  • The classes meet a demand. The HubSpot Academy Certifications cover critical areas such as inbound marketing, sales, and email marketing — some of the most in-demand skills in the marketing and advertising industries.

Users: 50K

Common Themes for Marketers

That was a lot of information. Let’s review some common themes and takeaways that you can apply to your content strategy after finishing this article:

  1. Keep video content short and sweet. Ideally, it won’t require sound to be played.
  2. Video content should answer a question or meet a demand that lots of people are looking for.
  3. Humor (when appropriate) makes for memorable content.
  4. Images and videos are key to more engaging social media posts.
  5. Social proof helps beef up claims behind your content.
  6. Experiment with user-generated content for greater social media engagement.
  7. Use clear, grabbing headlines to draw the attention of readers.
  8. Use images, bullets, and formatting to break up text in longer articles for skim-reading.
  9. Make content actionable so readers can come away knowing what to do next.
  10. Use graphs and infographics to display numerical data when possible.

Now that you know how to create different types of content that 2016 readers are looking for, check out the rest of our content marketing research, and learn key tips and tricks for writing great content today.

What’s your favorite type of content? Are you more likely to skim-read some types of content more than others? Share with us in the comments below.

get the free 2016 state of inbound report

Yoast SEO 3.6

At Yoast, we love to make our work available for everyone. We try to develop products that follow accessibility guidelines to take away any technical hurdles people may stumble on. But we can always take an extra step to help the user navigate the front-end. That’s why we’ve added a wizard to Yoast SEO 3.6, one that guides the user through the initial set-up.

Following hot on the heels of the 3.5 release, which focused on fixing bugs, we now release Yoast SEO 3.6. In this release, we’ve worked hard on getting a better experience when opening Yoast SEO for the first time. It can be rather overwhelming and the amount of setting up you have to do is pretty serious.

Making choices

But, these settings are a necessity. You have to make the right choices to get the most out of Yoast SEO. To help people navigate this, we’ve added a ten-step process that lets users gradually fill in the details of their site. Among other things, you can specify the environment in which your site is running, the type of site, social profiles, post visibility and Knowledge Graph metadata. You can also set up Google Search Console and choose the title settings.Yoast SEO onboarding

In the end, the user has a working install of Yoast SEO with the most important settings filled in. After running the wizard, the settings will be hidden. You don’t need these anymore, so they don’t have to be in the sidebar menu. You can turn these back on, of course. If you’d like to rerun the wizard you can launch it from the general tab on the settings page. We hope this feature makes it a little less overwhelming to open Yoast SEO for the first time.

Yoast SEO 3.6 Feature tab

Toggle features

But wait, there’s more. We’ve added a feature toggle tab to the Yoast SEO dashboard. Here you can enable/disable certain features. If you want, you can turn the advanced settings page on or off. Should you turn these off, they’ll disappear from the nav bar on the left-hand side as well. We’ve even made it possible to enable or disable the admin bar in Yoast SEO.

Regarding that last one: we’ve had multiple questions about the admin menu bar. Some people want to turn it off. That’s ok, and we’ve added that possibility, but you’ll lose a lot of handy checks. You’ll have no easy way to validate your HTML or CSS, or the mobile friendliness and speed of your site. But that’s all up to you of course. You can always turn the admin bar back on if you need it.

Yoast SEO Admin Bar

Full changelog

As always, we’ve posted the full changelog on WordPress.org. Happy updating!