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Nuggets of Knowledge: December 2014

By | Nuggets of Knowledge | No Comments

nuggets-of-knowledge-december-2014

That’s right folks, it is our favorite time of the month and, we are completely confident, yours, too. It’s NOKlist time! And, in this, the last Nuggets of Knowledge collection of 2014, and in the spirit of the holidays, we bring you both ponderings for the mind and presents for the small, greedy child within.

We’ve pulled together a fun mix of embracing failure, changing your perspective, combatting your fears, and facing down new challenges. Good stuff for heading into a new year.

And lest we send you tail-spinning into rampant emotionalism, we’ve also included some pretty great, actionable articles on social media measurement, building personae, improving your mobile experience, and gaining a true understanding of user experience.

So never say we never gave you nuthin’.

(Also, as ever, reflect back over the year by checking out the #NOKlist archive).


Rebecca’s Pick

Justine Bateman On Pulling Off A Major Midlife Career Pivot

by Nicole LaPorte

Rebecca

Rebecca

Justine Bateman is my new hero. She may not don a cape or wield a lasso of truth, but she is super nonetheless.

The actress, who catapulted to stardom via the 80s hit Family Ties, has been in the process of a major career change, and Nicole LaPorte captures Bateman’s honest and authentic look at that journey in this doesn’t-pull-any-punches interview.

Laced with colorful metaphors, LaPorte and Bateman cover topics such as: being a 48-year-old college student crying in her car after exams; owning her decisions on how to balance work, school, and being a mom; and her thoughts on the future of content consumption.

One thing is for sure: technology and entertainment make great bedfellows. And if you tell her she can’t do this? Then she has this to say: “F— it. There’s no way I’m not doing this.”

I told you – she’s pretty super.

Read the post


Olivia’s Pick

How to ask for help at work without feeling awkward about it

by  Andrea Ayres Deets

Olivia

Olivia

I cannot recommend this article enough for people who have a hard time asking for help at work. I have a really difficult time with this myself, even though I work with an amazingly supportive team who would be more than willing to help me out (and has helped me out before) and even though members of my team regularly ask me, “Hey, do you need help with anything this week?”

What I love about this article is that it’s relatable (always good) and actionable (even better). It starts by identifying what our reluctance/difficulty comes down to: fear of being a burden, fear of being seen as incompetent, fear of being rejected. (See also: fears that go along with dating.) But seriously, I found myself nodding my head as I read this entire first section.

It then goes on to explain the origins of those fears (they exist for a reason) and to refute them with some research studies and insights into the way our minds, emotions, and sense of perception work. (The psychology aspects of this article are pretty fascinating in their own right.) I love this because it challenges our tendency to see asking for help as a weakness by revealing that some fears we have are kind of unfounded. (Hey, sometimes being wrong is a wonderful thing.)

And finally, it covers how to go about asking for help. The way we ask can make a big difference. Cultivating a culture of help in the workplace can too.

Basically, in just one article, you can get some comfort that you’re not alone, insight into the way our minds work, and ways to make asking for help easier.

Oh, and a Dwight Schrute reference. Long live The Office.

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Nat’s Pick

32 Posters That Debunk Common UX Misconceptions

by Alexander Charchar, Smashing Magazine

Nat

Nat

There’s a lot of advice out there about best UX practices, but I think this particular resource should come right at the top of the list. Not only will it help you make educated UX decisions, it will also vanquish any incorrect notions you have about UX.

The collection of 32 UX misconceptions was created by user-experience designer Zoltán Gócza (you can find the list in its entirety on the website UX Myths). Each myth is quashed using data, so this guide is useful when UX questions or doubts arise in a project and you need evidence to validate or guide a decision.

The second part of this resource came to fruition when designer Alessandro Giammaria took the 32 myths and transformed them into really beautiful posters (you can download them here for free). I like to keep them as reference material for future UX projects, and hey, if you’re really in love with them, why not use them for decoration (and education) in your office space? A few of my favorites point out UX misconceptions such as, “White space is wasted space,” “Search will solve a website’s navigation problems,” and “Stock photos improve the users’ experience.” Whether you look at the website or the posters, I hope you’ll discover many nuggets of UX knowledge.

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Mike’s Pick

How to improve you Mobile Marketing Strategy

By Steph Walden

Mike

Mike

Have you ever left home without your smartphone? I always have a terrible feeling of being blind and just a little bit vulnerable without access to everything stored on it. Just think about how much we rely on our smartphones: contacts, calendars, notes, camera, photos, music, news, connections, automations, tools, and more.

We’ve built a society that demands that everything be at their fingertips. It must be fast, instant, and the user experience needs to match their style.

Think about how quickly you get annoyed when you encounter a bad mobile experience, a site that’s hard to navigate or that loads in the wrong dimensions. It seems so basic, but too many companies haven’t put the right amount of time into creating an optimized mobile experience.

Check out this article about “How to Improve your Mobile Marketing Strategy.” Steph Walden talks about responsive design, emerging trends, mobile advertising, and understanding the data.

But remember: mobile is just one touchpoint in the overall customer experience. Don’t forget what comes BEFORE and AFTER they reach your mobile/responsive site.

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Mack’s Pick

Digital Isn’t Software, It’s a Mindset

By Aaron Dignan

Mack

Mack

Over the last three years, Mack Web has experienced all kinds of challenges, hurdles, and contrast (of what works and what doesn’t), all of which have helped us to realize how important it is that we have meaning and purpose in our work. This discovery has changed not only how we do business but also who we do business with. We know now that because we value meaning ahead of money, we need to work with companies who align with this philosophy as well.

In this intriguing video, Aaron Dignan, the CEO of Undercurrent, gives a 53-minute talk about how Digital Isn’t Software, It’s a Mindset. It’s an inspiring presentation about becoming an unstoppable “digital” company by growing and structuring your business differently. If you want your company to ultimately become a major player in your industry and be one of those great companies who really makes an impact on our world, you’ve got to employ a new model, the 5 Ps – Purpose, Process, People, Products, and Platform – to your business.

There are so many great takeaways in here for companies both large and small. My favorites are the emphasis on putting values before revenue, the importance of investing in the long-game, and always making sure that you’re linking purpose to what you’re doing.

Watch the video


Courtney’s Pick

How to Create Customer Personas with Actual, Real Life Data

by Jennifer Havice

Courtney

Courtney

One of my absolute favorite things to do when we’re onboarding a client is to work up profiles for their target customers. It’s pretty important to understand who we’re talking to and what matters to them before we start, y’know, talking to them.

When we’re doing this, we usually start with our clients’ understanding of the people they want to attract and then adjust as we go on. I’m a sucker for character-driven narrative and, as a dabbler in the fictional arts my own self, creating these personae is an occasional treat in the midst of the other stuff I do. (And yes, I admit, I’m one of those snobs who likes to pluralize with a situationally-appropriate ‘ae’ instead of an ‘as.’ It has caused some confusion, but I think it’s worth it. It won’t surprise you to know that I also toss around phrases like ad infinitum and ad nauseam whenever possible.)

This article has some great insights into creating those personae, using both qualitative and quantitative research, along with examples of how this works and what it looks like when it’s done poorly. A really insightful, really helpful article.

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Ayelet’s Pick

Confirm, Observe, Adjust: How to audit your Twitter world an 1 hour or less

by Ian Laurie

Ayelet

Ayelet

I wouldn’t call myself a data dork. I don’t always try out new social metrics I see in articles or presentations. More often than not, I send them to my to-do-later task list to try out whenever (which spells the kiss of death if they linger on there too long). Not so with Ian’s deck. I even asked him questions about the worksheet he created to go along with the deck…and he responded! Major points for Ian. That also goes to show you exactly how into this deck I am.

Ian doesn’t just show new metrics, but he also shows you how to use features in followerwonk and Twitter Analytics you may have overlooked or forgotten about entirely. It’s not a long deck (only 67 slides with supplemental worksheets!) and it’s pretty clear (the percentile rank stuff for engagement and impressions still trips me up a little, but worksheets can do that to me sometimes). This is well worth a review!

View the slide deck


Ann’s Pick

The Science of Failure: Why Highly Successful People Crave Mistakes

by Belle Beth Cooper

Ann

Ann

“Dude. Suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.” – Jake the Dog

Generally speaking, I don’t like to suck at something. I don’t like to eff stuff up, and to be completely fair, I don’t know many people that do.

I put a great amount of care and detail into my work and I am happy when things turn out well. When things don’t go as planned or turn out the way I had hoped/thought they would, I’m super not happy. Disappointing people wrecks me. And, as the esteemed John Doherty has so eloquently said, “I’m afraid of looking like an idiot in front of the people whose opinions I care about most.” Pretty much, failure feels like the worst.

But maybe it’s not.

Maybe we should be more okay with failing at things, because failure means that a) we’re trying and b) we’re learning. And that’s good stuff. Mack always tells us that we will never get it wrong and we will never get it done. It breeds a culture of experimentation around this place, and that’s a good thing for us to embrace, because it helps move us forward (even with bumps and hiccups and failures along the way).

Successful people crave failure. They believe feedback is a gift, because it helped get them where they are today. And there’s a bunch of science behind it too. In this article, Belle Beth Cooper of Buffer explored this idea, with a little insight from some of those highly successful people and three things you can start doing today to change your thoughts on failure.

So, take some advice from a cartoon pup, and start suckin’ at somethin’.

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

Integrated Marketing Measurement: The Story That Proves Your Value

By | Data and Analytics, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | No Comments

Another day, another deck

To the envy of the rest of our Anglophile team, Mack was recently honored with an invitation to speak at SearchLove London.

Which of course, meant it was time to create another spectacular slide deck. (And, y’know, put together a talk to go along with it.)

Mack’s talk addressed one of the pressing difficulties of implementing an integrated marketing strategy: measuring the right things not just to correctly assess your progress but to keep your clients satisfied with that progress and engaged with your strategy. It’s less about what you measure and more how you convey the data: telling the story of how the short-term wins move you down the road toward your longer-term goals.

The result was this deck, as ever a splendid joint creation of Mack, our designer Nat, and the eagle eyes of the rest of the team.

We recommend giving it a gander and, in case you missed Mack’s presentation on  integrated marketing measurement or if you’re in a hurry, keep reading for the highlights.


Key Takeaways

Just because it takes 2-3 years to spiral up the Mountain of Success doesn’t mean that your clients will wait that long for results.

Often the first obstacle we encounter with our clients is convincing them to do their marketing right. They want to parkour their way up the quickest path, taking whatever expedient and dodgy measures necessary to get quick results. Convincing them to take the long-view, spiraling our way up the proper footpath – with brand building and authenticity and putting in the work to build a better business – can be a hard sell.

Slide 5 - The Mountain of Success

And even if they’re willing to do the foundational work that can take 2-3 years to complete, they’re not going to wait that long for results. You have to prove your value long before the 2-3 year mark.

Slide 8 - Prove Value to Build a Brand

And that’s where integrated marketing measurement comes in.


 A side note: The best marketing works from the inside out.

If you’re curious about that 2-3 year span, well…you obviously missed Mack’s presentation at C3 2014, where she went through all the steps and pieces of an integrated marketing strategy and why it works.

The very, very short version is this: the best marketing, the marketing that pulls people in and turns them into brand evangelists, starts by identifying your business’ meaning beyond money, building an entire brand experience around that meaning with every available channel working together, and forging relationships through your authenticity.

Slide 18 - Community and Revenue

 

The slightly longer version can be found in the key takeaways from Mack’s C3 2014 talk, Playing the Long Game: Growing Your Business Through Community and Integrated Marketing.


 Prove your value to your client by telling them the story your data is creating about the progress you’re making toward their goals.

Tracing the path of customer conversions is tricky with an integrated approach. The whole point is to have all the channels working together, giving each customer a multi-channel experience and many levels of persuasion.

Slide 43 - The Path to Conversion

Knowing exactly which piece was the tipping point and how to weigh the value of each piece of the experience is pretty much impossible. So you can’t just use conversions to prove your value to the client. Instead, as Vizzini advises, you have to go back to the beginning.

The first thing you’re going to do when you follow that integrated marketing approach is to identify your clients goals: their overarching vision, the benchmarks for their brand and business along the way, and then the individual campaigns that will push you toward those benchmarks.

Slide 71 - Focus on Goal Progress

Instead of giving them the number of clicks and forms and sessions and all the other KPIs, use the goals as focal points and tell them how much progress you’ve made toward them. They don’t need to know all the number stuff. To the clients, the metrics only mean what you tell them they mean. Distilling all the work and effort that went into earning those numbers into a statistic only diminishes the perceived value of your efforts. So cut that out.

Instead you read the metrics and craft that into a narrative of progress to communicate your value to your client.


 The story is for them, the metrics are for you. Seize opportunities for progress.

But just because you’re not sharing all the nitty-gritty numbers with them doesn’t mean you’re not avidly watching them yourself. Measure the right things, the numbers that actually mean something. When you see something interesting, do something about it. Take note of trends and spikes and patterns and then make a plan of action for further testing or taking advantage of what you’ve noticed.

But here’s the trick, with clients and with an integrated approach: you can’t jump on every little blip, every little opportunity as you see it.

Slide 93 - Not the Shiny Things

When you see and interesting trend or your clients come to you with a brilliant new idea or direction stop and ask: Does this align with our goals? If so, is it urgent? Or can it wait until the next strategy iteration?

If it’s urgent, it’s urgent. If not, keep a running list that will guide your next set of campaigns.


 The nature of integrated marketing makes it difficult to parse the progress for your clients.

Integrated marketing, by its very nature, is difficult to measure. So many pieces working together make it difficult to determine what’s working and what isn’t.

Slide 99 - Nothing works in isolation

So when you get frustrated, here are the things to remember:

  • Everything goes back to your goals.
  • Prove your value with the story your data is telling, not the data itself. (A story about what? That’s right, your goals.)
  • Don’t rest on your laurels: try new tactics and new KPIs. You’ll never see so clearly what works until it’s set next to something that doesn’t.

 Just getting started

As we hinted in our post digesting the C3 2014 slide deck, this topic – of integrated marketing and integrated marketing measurement and integrated marketing with meaning – is our passion.

We will absolutely be talking more about this in days to come. You should probably sign up for our email below, just to make sure you don’t miss anything.

That would be so sad for you.

Arthur reading

Nuggets of Knowledge: November 2014

By | Nuggets of Knowledge | No Comments

nuggets-of-knowledge

This month, we’ve got a hodgepodge of glory for your Nuggets of Knowledge: videos, articles, bacon. From semantic connectivity to collaborative creativity, from balancing your life to accomplishing your goals, from metrics to bacon, from the psychology of conversion to the psychology of narrative, we’ve got a little something for everyone.

(Plus the bacon. Did we mention the bacon?)

Check it out.

(And, as ever, check out past NOKlists so that you can revel in how awesome the world is and how great our team is for sharing little bits of it with you.)


Rebecca’s Pick

Hormel Creates Bacon-Fueled Motorcycle

by Jessica Manner

Rebecca

Rebecca

Mmmm … bacon.

As a 25-year vegetarian, I’m as surprised as anyone that I’ve chosen to highlight Hormel this month. But when I find a campaign that sizzles like this one, I must huff and puff and blow my principles down.

Jessica Manner’s short but tasty blog post provides the highlights of Hormel’s “Driven by Bacon” project. Not only is the creative beautiful and genuine, but the integrated nature of this campaign makes me salivate: Tumblr, documentary, and Bacon Fest – oh my!

And at the center of it all? That’s right – a bacon-fueled motorcycle.

Read the post


Olivia’s Pick

What Fear Can Teach Us

by Karen Thompson Walker

Olivia

Olivia

This TED Talk opens with a bit of a terrifying story that hooks you immediately: in 1819, 20 American sailors watched their ship sink after being struck by a whale. They were left stranded in the Pacific Ocean, more than 1,000 miles from land, with only three small whaleboats and limited food.

Quite fittingly, this TED Talk is a discussion of stories, but more so, a discussion of fear. It begins by illuminating the way we traditionally think of fear: something to be avoided, overcome, or silenced. (As someone who has a real knack for imagining the worst outcome of any possible situation, I (and the “conquer your fears” or “don’t panic” directives that people have given me over the years) can testify to this.)

But this talk offers a new way to think about our fears: not as dreaded things to be pushed below the surface, but as stories that have the potential to fuel our imagination.

It posits a strong link between fear and the imagination. (Which makes sense. Think: the classic childhood fear of monsters hiding under the bed.) It also discusses how to channel our fears into productivity. (A little thing called productive paranoia that’s apparently quite popular with some entrepreneurs.)

It’s fascinating for anyone who has an interest in storytelling, writing, and the human psyche. And for all of you non-conformists who like challenging traditional cultural narratives regarding things like fear.

Oh, and what became of those sailors, you ask? You’ll have to watch to find out. (And if you’re thinking the tale sounds slightly similar to Moby Dick, you’re right. And also well-read.)

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Nat’s Pick

Be A Better Designer By Eating an Elephant

by Alexander Charchar, Smashing Magazine

Nat

Nat

Never fear, this post is not actually about consuming a pachyderm. The title is referencing a productivity quip: when eating an elephant (i.e. taking on a daunting project or goal) take one bite at a time.

If you’re like me, you keep a lists of things you want to learn or accomplish (be it at work or in your personal life). Things like: take online tutorials to improve my job skills, learn how to play the violin, run a 5k, and finish the blog post that I promised @courtneymackweb three months ago (okay, so that last one is probably unique to my list). Our lists grow as we keep adding to-dos, and then all those lovely ideas and aspirations just sit there. At least, that’s what happens to all the items on my list because I can’t find time in my day to actually work on them.

That’s where eating an elephant (not literally, as we previously established) comes into play. Alexander Charchar suggests picking a topic, then tackling it in bite-sized chunks for 30 days. Take note, while this post is targeted for designers, the process itself is applicable for everyone. So why not give it a try and see what new and wonderful things you learn in 30 days? One month is a pretty brief span of time, so you have almost nothing to lose, everything to gain, and a blog post to help you along the way.

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Mike’s Pick

3 Conversion Psychology Principles to Test on Your Landing Page

By Jeremy Smith

Mike

Mike

Many times people overthink what they need to make a landing page more effective. We get wrapped up in what we think sounds and looks good without thinking about what the customer wants.

The psychology of how we think can be very complex but Jeremy Smith speaks about three very simple elements that can help you build better landing page: happiness, pain, and financials.

Take the extra time to understand the goals of your landing page and who your audience is. Make sure you’re answering specific questions and ultimately providing value to your audience.

Personally, I’m all about taking the happiness route but it’s not about me so test, test, test!

Yee-haw.

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Mack’s Pick

7 Things Mom Entrepreneurs Need to Know to Avoid Burnout

By Marla Tabaka

Mack

Mack

Setting unrealistic expectations for yourself and in your life can be a pretty easy thing to do. Especially when you’re an entrepreneur, a wife, a mom, and essentially an overachiever in all things, there’s a lot of pressure that you can put on yourself and big things that you feel like you’ve got to live up to.

Out of all the gentle reminders in Marla Tabaka’s post, my favorite one is this:

We are bombarded with overwhelming messages from the world dictating how things “are supposed” to be. But when you take the time to get really clear on what works best for you and do things in your own unique style, chances are you will feel successful and happy.

At some point, you have to be realistic about what’s really important and what you really want to accomplish in your life as there will always be too many things to choose from and many more that can become barriers and get in the way of being happy.

The challenge, for me, is always to be realistic about what I can accomplish and, out of those things, make sure they really matter. Keeping my priorities straight so that I’m focusing on the right things for me as a mom and entrepreneur is what helps me to feel accomplished and fulfilled.

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Courtney’s Pick

Groupthink

by Jonah Lehrer

Courtney

Courtney

We humans are fascinating and predictable and inexplicable little beings. Give us a concept almost as far from science as you can imagine – like, for example, creativity – and what’s our first instinct? To apply science to it so that we can understand it better. And what does science reveal: that we’re contrary, idiosyncratic creatures who defy all logic. It’s a beautiful thing.

Though it’s a few years old, Jonah Lehrer’s article on the research on scientific inquiry into collaborative creativity – AKA the evolution of the ‘brainstorm’ is a fascinating read on the how and when and who and what of how people come together to work creatively. The origins, the studies, the physical spaces, historical examples: it’s a little long but well worth persevering, if for no other reason than the ideas for your next quote-unquote team brainstorming session.

(Because that’s the bonus: apparently, as originally conceived, ‘brainstorming’? Doesn’t actually work. Yep. Check it out.)

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Ayelet’s Pick

How to Convert a Client’s Goals into Reportable Metrics

by Dana DiTomaso

Ayelet

Ayelet

We create a lot of strategies over here at Mack Web, and one of the hardest parts for us can be deciding which metrics we want to report on. Put in too many metrics and you risk 1) being irrelevant and 2) overwhelming the client right into a mental shutdown. Too few metrics and you are in trouble of 1) missing wins (and places to adjust strategy) and 2) the client thinking that you’re not doing enough or getting good enough results.

So converting goals to metrics for reporting to clients is a careful balance. Dana DiTomaso gives great instructions in this Whiteboard Friday (and her accompanying MozCon 2014 presentation) that’ll help you not fall off the tightrope of goals & metrics.

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Ann’s Pick

What SEOs Need to Know About Topic Modeling & Semantic Connectivity

by Rand Fishkin

Ann

Ann

I almost shared a post about semantic connectivity last month. But, to be completely honest, I wasn’t 1000% sure what the post was talking about it. It was super intriguing – the new vistas of web marketing opened up by the evolution of Google – and yet very confusing. SEO has its own language and a lot of it is technical. It’s part of what makes this industry (and the beast known as Google) so fascinating. But at the same time, if you don’t have a degree in mathematics, statistics, or programing, it can be a bit daunting. Which is what makes Rand’s terminology breakdown and helpful tips so great.

Though new things in the algorithm (such as topic modeling and semantic connectivity) can seem intimidating, they’re important to understand because they’re a part of Google’s evolution beyond 10 blue links with exact keyword match. As search engines get smarter in their ability to read and comprehend web content, it provides companies new ways to build their brands and grow their businesses. As marketers, the better we understand what Google is looking for (aka: what the searcher is looking for), the more opportunities we have to expand our organic reach. And looking at the direction things are going, we’ve got a greater range for creativity in our future, thinking more about ideas and topics as opposed to one exact phrase.

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

Putting the ‘Integrated’ into Integrated Marketing Strategy

By | Building Community, Events, Web Marketing | No Comments

Mack was recently asked to speak at C3 2014, a marketing conference hosted by Conductor.

It’s not a surprise to us that they requested that she speak on the topic of community. Our Truly Monumental Guide to Building Online Communities made quite a splash when we launched it a year ago and Mack (and, consequently, the whole Mack Web Team) is well-known for being passionate on this topic.

Never one to disappoint, Mack did talk about community. In fact, her talk was called “Growing Your Business Through Community and Integrated Marketing.” (See, community is in the title and everything.) But, in true Mack Web fashion, she didn’t focus on fuzzy or fluffy talk of singing Kumbaya and/or bribing people to be your friends. She came out with a practical, actionable approach and process for building the necessary groundwork to grow an authentic community.

In other words: building a better business, one soul-searching, thought-provoking, hard-working step at a time.

Build a better business, attract a community.

Here, in its entirety, is her beautiful deck from that talk, lovingly crafted by Mack and our genius designer Natalie and then cruelly nitpicked to death by the rest of the team.

 

But if you’re in a hurry, keep reading for the highlights.


Key Takeaways

Building a community is how you perform well online. Building a better business is how you attract a community.

Community is what you need to make your marketing sing: actual human people sharing and disseminating your content, promoting your brand, buying and recommending your stuff, both online and in person.

Marketing is building a better business.

You attract people by building a better business from the inside out. You find something authentic and meaningful at the core of your company and build your business around that. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be real. That special something is what will draw your audience near and give them something to tell their friends about you.


Sustainable marketing results demand an integrated marketing strategy.

An integrated approach means you build a cross-channel marketing experience which will attract both the right people and revenue. It means that no matter where a consumer comes in contact with your brand (on- or offline), you’re living up to (or exceeding) their expectations.

An integrated marketing strategy uses all channels.

An integrated process is an agile way to create and maintain momentum in your marketing efforts. It puts the focus on accomplishing real-world goals so that you’re doing the right things (not just the shiny things) to move your business forward.

Integrated results look at the what all of your channels have achieved together, not just individually, over the long-haul. These results are an indication that you’re doing the right things in the short term to accomplish the big things in the long-term.


Your integrated marketing strategy starts with who you are and what you want to achieve.

Before you do anything else, figure out your company’s meaning: why, beyond making money, does your company exist? What is your authentic passion? This is how you will form a meaningful connection with your audience.

An integrated marketing strategy builds an experience and relationships.

Then figure out your goals; they will drive everything else you do. (These are goals for your whole business, not just your marketing, by the way.) There are three levels: visionary, business & brand, and campaign goals. Your campaign goals help you achieve your business & brand goals which, in turn, feed into your big, overarching visionary goal.


Once you know what you want to accomplish, it’s time for action.

Start your 90-day integrated marketing strategy cycle by figuring out what is most important. What needs to be done first to set out towards your business & brand and visionary goals? Look at your audience, the current state of your brand, your strengths and weaknesses, and how you match up to the competition.

When you know what your priorities are, start planning tactical campaigns to reach them. And this is where that word “integrated” really comes into play. Make sure you’re looking at all channels (content, search, social media, email, outreach), at efforts both on- and offline.

Then, y’know, do the stuff.


Build agility into the process and factor momentum into your planning.

Be prepared to assess every 30 days and change direction as needed. Measurement is not enough. You must be prepared to respond with action.

At 60 days, start looking forward: what is your next 90-day strategy going to hold? What are your priorities? How is your progress toward those goals of yours? By the time your first 90 days are up, you’re ready for the next. And you’re not starting from scratch. You’re simply continuing the momentum you’ve got going.

An integrated marketing strategy means you always have momentum and a plan.


Sorry, kids. We’re in it for the long haul.

An integrated marketing strategy can deliver amazing results, but it takes time, it takes one-on-one effort, it takes passion, and it takes authenticity.


More to Come

As part of mastering this process, you’ll need to understand how to effectively communicate the value of an integrated approach. Mack continues the conversation with her presentation from SearchLove London: The Measurement Behind Your Integrated Marketing Strategy.

Hungry for more? Never fear: the idea of an integrated marketing strategy for building a better business as a true, sustainable method for growing an online community is something Mack Web will be talking about more and more in the coming days.

Curious? Want more? You should definitely sign up for our e-news so that any updates will come directly to you. (It’s super easy.)

You could also download the infamous guide itself and find out more that way.

What do you think?

Arthur reading

Nuggets of Knowledge: October 2014

By | Nuggets of Knowledge | 2 Comments

nuggets-of-knowledge

In this antepenultimate 2014 edition of Nuggets of Knowledge, we have the usual fun mix of reflection, applicable tips, and the linguistics of food. (What, we like snacks, okay?) Also, some people decided to dress up for Halloween. (You’re welcome.)

So, read some good stuff from people we admire, point and laugh at the fools…uh, courageous and beautiful people…in costume, and then tell us what your favorite article was this month.

Also, go take advantage of all the candy that’s on sale right now. (‘Cuz we know that you love snacks, too. Why else would we be friends?)

Also, if you’ve missed it, check out our NOKlist archive.


Rebecca’s Pick

Deciphering the Menu: Decoding a Menu at Root & Bone

by Jennifer Schuessler

Rebecca

Rebecca

I must warn you: this article might give you the munchies.

Whether you’re a foodie or prefer eating peanut butter straight from the jar, Jennifer Schuessler’s article about Stanford linguistics professor Dan Jurafsky (and his recently published book) will change the way you see menus and food reviews – and writing – forever.

Schuessler describes how Jurafsky harnesses “data science” to identify patterns in how people talk about food. By turning to “the social side of computational linguistics,” he crunches huge data sets that deliver conclusions which only whet our appetites for more (and make wordsmiths drool), such as:

  • More-expensive menus tend to use longer words, with each additional letter of length correlating to an 18-cent-higher price a dish.
  • Four-star reviews tend to use a narrower range of vague positive words, while one-star reviews have a more varied vocabulary.
  • Reviews of expensive restaurants are more likely to use sexual metaphors, while the food at cheaper restaurants tends to be compared to drugs.

But it’s not just about the food. There’s an underlying challenge here for writers: What am I trying to communicate to my readers and are they getting what I’m dishing out?

Read the post


Olivia’s Pick

How We Got 2,000+ Customers by Doing Things That Didn’t Scale

by Alex Turnbull, Groove

Rebecca

Olivia

A few weeks ago, Mack gave the team a big-picture-talk about Mack Web, who we are, and what we’re trying to do. She put some gigantic Post-Its on the wall, which had one-sentence statements on them (all of which were written with brightly colored markers, natch). One of them was about how the stuff we do is not scalable. (I believe the phrase was, “This shit doesn’t scale.”)

I see this exact sentiment echoed in this Groove post. Alex Turnbull explains why a lot of the tactics Groove uses to get people to sign up are non-scalable, and why that’s completely ok.

There’s a lot out there about the importance of building relationships, doing influencer outreach, and learning what motivates your customers. What I love about this article is that here, Groove gives meaning to those ideas. They illustrate what those ideas actually look like: the one-to-one emails, the insightful responses to all blog post comments, the goal to have a conversation with every single customer, and the scrapping to get the ones that got away.

What I also like here is the transparency. This stuff isn’t easy. It’s time-consuming. And taking things one customer at a time may seem counterintuitive, depending on your point of view. But it’s personable and genuine above all else. And as Groove’s results clearly show, it can work incredibly well. (You’ll see woven throughout this article themes about the power of authenticity and of letting customers and non-customers alike know that their views are not just heard but valued.)

It can be tough to get in that slow-growth, in-it-for-the-long-game mentality. But this article is a great reminder of why it’s worth it.

Plus, there are 6 specific non-scaleable growth tactics for you to try out here.

Read the post


Nat’s Pick

3 Seriously Undervalued Email Marketing Strategies

Post by Jimmy Daly, Vero

Nat

Nat

I chose this article not because it contains shortcuts or a mind-blowing idea for your next email marketing strategy, but because it gets back to the basics (three of them, to be exact – but you’ll have to read it to find out what they are). These are the fundamental pieces of good email marketing. After all, you can’t build anything awesome unless you have a strong foundation in place (just ask any architect or LEGO fan).

If you’re fairly new to email marketing I recommend reading this article, because it’s going to help you set up best practices for your email marketing strategy. For email marketing veterans, this is going to be a re-hash of three basic email 101 concepts. But hey, It doesn’t hurt to confirm that you, in fact, do know some of the basics, right?

Each tip includes examples from companies like Help Scout, Groove and Moz, so you also have valuable reference material (you never know what ideas you may come up with by looking at other companies’ email marketing campaigns).

Take a few minutes out of your day to read through this article, and see how your current email marketing strategy measures up.

Read the post


Mack’s Pick

We’re all kinda broken

By Jennifer Dary

Mack

Mack

Growing a company is not for the faint at heart. It’s some of the most challenging work I’ve ever faced. Not just for the labor and all of the physical effort required to build something great, but more in managing my own emotions and mental game that comes along with leadership.

What I love about this post from Jennifer is that she explains how leaders don’t have to be perfect. They just need to be cautious that their own personal agenda or leadership style doesn’t get in the way of the success of the company.

“But nothing – and no one – is perfect. Each company is broken in its own way, but this is what makes companies (and humans) beautiful to me. Maybe the good ones are just willing to admit their brokenness and to do something about it.”

Mack Web is far from perfect. And I certainly have a lot to learn as a leader. But knowing that we’re facing our challenges, being transparent about them, and continuously working to be a better company gives me hope that we’re on the right track.

I’d highly recommend this post. It’s a quick and insightful read.

Read the post


Mike’s Pick

5 Ways the Ad World Has Changed in the Last 10 Years

By T.L Stanley

Mack

Mike

Everyone keeps saying that the way you market your brand or product is rapidly changing and I fully agree. The funny thing is that the tactics are going back to basics. Build a brand with a personality and create real content that speaks to real people…duh!

It’s interesting to watch so many companies try so hard to create a piece of content that they hope will go viral. The problem with that thought is what happens next. If you don’t have the brand built on a solid foundation, don’t expect to retain a customer for the long haul.

“Consumers now have a sense of ownership about the brand they choose to bring into their lives. It’s consumer centricity, not brand centricity.”

The thing that is changing is all the data marketers have access to. Leverage the data to create a personal relationship with your customers and understand what means of communication work best to connect with them.

Read the post


Courtney’s Pick

How ‘Noticing’ Can Help You Conquer Your Biggest Challenges

by Shane Snow, Contently

Courtney

Courtney

“You see but you do not observe.” It’s hardly a novel thing to be obsessed with Sherlock Holmes these days. Although, unlike many, it’s not strictly Benedict Cumberbatch that holds my interest. (That’s what Martin Freeman is for.) We watch him do his thing and we gawk and marvel and think, ‘I could never do that.’

And to some extent, that’s true. But we don’t have to have an encyclopedia of cigarette ash in our brains to make the things we notice matter. In this article, Shane Snow points out that, so often, it’s not that we don’t notice things. It’s that we’re accustomed to dismissing things that don’t fit the pattern or that make us uncomfortable rather than figuring out what they mean.

Though there is little in the way of actionable tips, Snow’s examples of how the art of paying attention to what you see can lead to both great revelations and steady habits of success is a challenge to approach the world – and your work – differently.

Read the post


Ayelet’s Pick

The next big thing will start out looking like a toy

by Chris Dixon

Ayelet

Ayelet

In this evergreen post (still true after 4+ years), Chris theorizes that the reason most big, established companies miss out on the next big thing is because they see the next big thing and assume that it will never be anything but a toy. Like how music companies took so long to jump on the online music sharing bandwagon. Or how people made fun of Twitter at the start for being all about what people had for breakfast. And speaking of which, have you seen a Blockbuster store recently? Probably not, but I’m sure you’ve seen a Redbox machine or heard someone talk about Netflix or Hulu in the last couple days.

In the same way, this idea extends beyond the big companies. It can affect us all by keeping us from exploring new possibilities and thinking beyond conventional uses for products and services. Dismissing the next big thing stops innovation in its tracks.

Read the post


Ann’s Pick

The most important thing

by Seth Godin

Ann

Ann

Seth’s post is only three sentences long. I won’t ruin it for you, but I will tell you that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since the middle of last week. No matter who you are or what your role is, read it. And figure it out.

Read the post


Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

Arthur reading

Nuggets of Knowledge: September 2014

By | Nuggets of Knowledge | No Comments

nuggets-of-knowledge

Welcome to a Very Special Edition of Mack Web’s monthly Nuggets of Knowledge. This month (September, in case you missed it), we asked everyone to contribute their Nugget in video form.

That’s right, folks, for one month only you get to see Mack Web’s most valued videos.

Oddly enough, despite the differences in how or why the information is presented – a TEDtalk, a music video, a McSweeney’s/Dissolve special – most of the team have chosen to focus on this undeniable truth: in building a community, in building a business, in building a brand, in doing anything that relies on people, the key is authenticity.

And also, the lesser known undeniable truth: typography is awesome.

So, wise, amusing, brief, or musical: enjoy the Mack Web NOKList Video Special.

(And hey, if video’s not your thing, check out our archive of regular programming.)


Rebecca’s Pick

Mission Statement

by Al Yankovic

Rebecca

Rebecca

Client-centric solutions. Brand trajectory. Cross-platform innovation.

These industry phrases (and many others like them) have populated the lingo of our professional lives, supposedly full of promise and intent. But due to overuse, have they lost their meaning and power?

Al Yankovic (a.k.a. “Weird Al” Yankovic, the artist who gave us timeless classics such as “Eat it” and “Another One Rides the Bus”) wages war against this corporate-speak in his recent video “Mission Statement” and challenges us to think about what we’re truly communicating – to the outside world and to each other as industry insiders. Set to the tune of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills & Nash (which, according to Yankovic, is the “antithesis of corporate America”), we are not only treated to sharply clever wordplay, but also to visually stunning, sped-up illustration for the entirely of this must-see video.

And for those with a life-long search for ironic expression, you’re in luck: these snarky sketches are done on a whiteboard with dry erase markers. Natch.


Olivia’s Pick

This Is a Generic Brand Video

Video by Dissolve, inspired by McSweeney’s, written by Kendra Eash

Rebecca

Olivia

Leave it to the quick-witted McSweeney’s to perfectly (and hilariously) capture the nature of many brand videos: predictable, vapid, and filled with vague, unsubstantial buzzwords. Kendra Eash published a satirical and on-point piece entitled “This Is a Generic Brand Video,” which pokes fun at those videos we’ve all seen (and probably tuned out). The ones where brands attempt to depict their innovation and originality but succeed only in representing themselves as stereotypical and wholly unoriginal.

Now, here’s where things get fun: Dissolve, a stock footage company, took this piece and turned it into…you guessed it…a generic video. Using the McSweeney’s piece as a voiceover, Dissolve matched those words with their own stock footage. The result is gold.

Not only is this video comical, but it’s also an example of brilliant advertising. And as someone who puts a lot of pressure on herself to be creative and come up with fantastic brand-building ideas, I found it pretty amusing that in this case, something clever and unique originated from something generic. Quite the ironic twist, right?

Whether you’re seeking some creative inspiration or simply a good laugh, this is worth a watch.


Nat’s Pick

The History of Typography

By Ben Barrett-Forrest

Nat

Nat

Prepare to be entertained (and educated) as playful and colorful paper cut outs walk you through the history of typography. Created from 291 paper letters, 2,454 photographs and a multitude of man-hours, Ben Barrett-Forrest’s stop motion video is a great example of evergreen content that’s creative, valuable, and possible to produce for those with a limited budget. And yes, there’s even a cut-out of Johannes Gutenberg.

If you’re a designer this video will make you feel nostalgic, likely bringing back memories from your first design class (sniff). For those who are not designers, this video is a great way to familiarize yourself with the world of typography and learn about the origins of typefaces like Roman, Caslon, Baskerville, and sans serif. The bonus? You can impress the graphic designer on your next project when you ask them to include a few slab-serif typefaces in their mock-up.


Mack’s Pick

Like a Girl

By Always, #likeagirl

Mack

Mack

Even though there are many conveniences that come with living in this digital age, being a company in this era brings many challenges. Making an authentic connection with the people who come in contact with your brand is one of them.  People want real. They want real companies who stand for something rather than simply promoting their products. They want to be truly valued by the companies they support. They want companies who inspire them to be part of something meaningful.

Always does an incredible job of all of that in this Like a Girl video. It’s really difficult to scale authenticity, but Always really hits it home. They looked beyond their products to who they were selling them too and then talked about something that mattered to those people.

Their audience is 100% female and they tapped into that, into genuine concerns and social issues that face women. It’s real and it’s memorable and it’s entirely relevant to their brand and their audiences. As a mom who’s raising a girl, this campaign is certainly something that feels very genuine to me, something that I feel strongly about supporting, and that I’d like to be a part of.


Courtney’s Pick

How giant websites design for you (and a billion others, too)

by Margaret Gould Stewart, TED Talks

Courtney

Courtney

Though Margaret Gould Stewart speaks for some pretty ginormous brands and talks about design – or, really, more specifically, user experience – on a pretty ginormous scale, the home truths she delivers are applicable even for much smaller brands on much smaller scales.

While there may not be global outcry when we or one of our clients changes the design or process for our sites, we still always need to be informed by data and driven by human empathy and intuition. We may not need to spend 280 hours redesigning a single button, but we need to be aware of how changes impact our audience.

We may not need to consult with conflict resolution experts or the universal principles of polite language (which is, apparently, a thing), but we should always be thinking about how real live people interact with what we’ve given them.

This talk isn’t revolutionary but a solid reminder that even giants like Google, Facebook, and Youtube not only can’t afford to ignore the people that they serve but that they shouldn’t ignore them. That losing sight of the real people behind the screens doesn’t only mean failing in your user experience, but failing in your mission.

Also…some great tips on how to get those really embarrassing karaoke photos taken down. So…bonus.


Ayelet’s Pick

Building a Community by Letting Go

by Tina Roth Eisenberg

Ayelet

Ayelet

I went to CMX Summit in June 2014 and was treated to a wonderful keynote presentation on the first day by Tina Roth Eisenberg, who I had never heard of before this conference. Tina is a serial entrepreneur in New York City and many of her businesses are directly related to a natural community growth. She talks through her experiences in building Creative Mornings, a breakfast lecture series for the creative community, into a large organization with hosts spread throughout the world, as well as starting a co-working space in Brooklyn.

The main message of this session was that a community grows best when you let go and stop trying to control it. Let it grow organically from what the community members want and grow it will! Whether you’re looking for validation of your efforts in working on an established community or are just beginning to build your community, this session is well worth a watch.

Watch the video


Ann’s Pick

The Tribes We Lead

by Seth Godin

Ann

Ann

I often struggle to explain what I do to at work to those around me outside of work. Words like search engine optimization, social media, and branding are great, but we really do so much more than that. And “marketing agency” definitely doesn’t do it justice.

Two months ago I shared Derek Sivers’ TED talk about leadership and how to start a movement. I’m circling back to another TED talk, this time around by Seth Godin, titled The Tribes We Lead.

Godin labels this point in time in which we’re living, thanks to the Internet, as the age of tribes. Obviously tribes existed way before the days of the world wide web, but today, you can connect with anyone for the simple reason that you want to be connected to them (regardless of location). Godin says tribe leaders are those who lead and connect ideas and people. They’re the ones who say that something is important and that we need to organize around it. Then the tribe leaders (and their first followers of course) start sharing this idea and getting people connected to it. Those people in turn share the idea and get even more people connected. Tribes are all about connection.

Which I guess is one way to look at the work we do: connection. It’s more than advertising. It’s more than marketing. We work with companies who are committed to a cause. And we help those leaders build their tribe.


Deleted Scenes

Because what self-respecting movie-lover and TV aficionado doesn’t understand the inherent attraction of a little something extra, adding a little more insight into what the creators were thinking or who they are?

What follows are other videos that made the shortlist but not the finals, for various reasons. (They’re still pretty excellent, though.) You get bonus points for guessing who suggested what.

American Empire
A brief, accurate, and snickering explanation of the US, its various territories, and how they all function.

If Google Was a Guy
A…slightly inappropriate and yet awesome dramatization of the search habits of the masses. Don’t forget to check out Part 2 and Part 3.

YouTube Complaints 2014!
An affectionate mockery of both user and platform behavior. No, seriously. Also, Elsa from Frozen shows up.

The Scared is scared
Storytelling done by a master. A six-year-old genius, clearly.

83 Old Slang Phrases We Should Bring Back
Expand your vocabulary. Or, y’know, sound like your Great Aunt Matilda.

First Moon Party
Just…yeah. Excellent audience awareness and appeal. Simultaneously cringeworthy and hilarious.


Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

Better than Hawaii: Mack Web’s Best Summer Blog Posts

By | Creativity, Miscellany, Social Media, The Quest for Quanlitative Measurement, Web Marketing | No Comments

Because why gloat over your vacation pictures when you could be catching up on the genius you missed?

Summer is a time for many wondrous things: swimming lessons and blockbuster movies, amazing thunderstorms and vacations to exotic locations, backyard barbeques and entirely more ice cream than can possibly be healthy.

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 5.23.07 PM

You know what summer is not a great time for? Reading anything other than ridiculously fluffy beach-worthy books, with titles like Cream Puffs by Starlight or The Undead Llamas Ride at Dawn.

Which is why, with the crisp hints of fall just around the corner and the kids shuffled back to school, we decided to make your lives a little easier. You don’t have to go back and catch up on everything the Mack Web team wrote this summer (though we wouldn’t blame you if you did; we are just that amazing).

Instead, we’ve put together the list of Mack Web best summer blog posts, the ones you absolutely shouldn’t miss.

You’re welcome.

We’ve also provided a quick word on why we think each of these posts is emblematic of what Mack Web stands for, why they’re important in the general scheme of things.

And hey, if you think we missed a crucial read, let us know. We’ll add it to the list.


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.16.01 PMHow To Design A Stellar Slide Deck (the Mack Web Way)

Our favorite post of the summer was this contribution from our designer extraordinaire. Natalie Touchberry is brilliant with all things design and this post gives you some amazing insight into her tricks of the trade.

We think this is an important one to share not only because it’s a wonderful, practical creative process from a master of her art but also for of its place in the broader spectrum of the Mack Web belief system. (Yep. Slide decks are part of our corporate religion, along with heart, passion, desire, excellence, and llamas.)

Our devotion to slide decks is twofold. First, we are firm believers in using different formats to convey our messages. And here’s the thing about slide decks: a slide deck devoid of meaning stands out a lot more than a fluffy blog post. In other words, to do the slide deck format well, you really have to know what you want to say and why you want to say it. We are all about the intentional content.

The second reason we love slide decks is because they are symbolic of a key part of digital marketing that is often overlooked: offline efforts. Frequently used as a visual aid for public speaking, slide decks are a great reminder that building relationships and reputation in the real world is a huge part of an integrated marketing strategy.


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.15.48 PM Hashtag Series: Ally or Enemy? (Pt. 1) & A How-To for Success (Pt. 2)

We were really pleased with this collaboration by our Social & Community Management Strategist Ayelet Golz and our Account Coordinator Rebecca Gilmore. It’s not only a fantastic walk through of how, when, and why you should use hashtags in your social media marketing but also a practical guide to creating meaningful hashtags, based on what you’re trying to accomplish.

We’re featuring these posts because, while not overt, they so deeply express one of Mack Web’s most fundamental principles of digital marketing: everything starts from goals.

So we say ‘Don’t use a hashtag unless it serves your purpose in creating the social media campaign in the first place.’ And then Ayelet tells you when that might be. ‘Choose or create a hashtag that actually achieves what you want to achieve.’ And then Rebecca gives you a process for doing just that.

That’s Mack Web to the core.

Also, there are frolicking hashbrowns and Gandalf jokes. So, you won’t want to miss that.


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.15.55 PMHow to Dominate Google+ Hangouts on Air

Our shining star of the summer, our Team Member of the Season was, apparently, Ayelet.  This post of hers was a big favorite for its sheer practicality as she tells you everything – and we do mean everything – about Google+ Hangouts.

Google+ Hangouts are a fantastic way to convey valuable information, host a gathering of experts, and build relationships with your peers and audience alike. (Mack Web is big on the personal touch.)

We’re also big on sharing what we know. Sometimes that’s theory: the why behind the methods we use. But sometimes that’s application: the methods themselves.

Because, hey, you’re going to have plenty of work to do figuring out the topic, the guest list, the promotion, the follow-up of your Hangout. We can make the actual, manual steps a little easier. Why would we make you suffer?


Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.15.41 PMConversion Rate Isn’t Everything in Digital Marketing

Yep, that’s right, our final Not-To-Be-Missed post of the summer is another Ayelet classic. This one uses our Truly Monumental Guide to Building Online Communities as a mini case study for the varying definitions of content success in digital marketing.

We chose this one for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s a part of our Quest for Quanlitative Measurement: our ongoing journey to fully exploring, understanding, and optimizing the various ways to measure integrated marketing efforts. The Quest weighed heavy on our minds this summer and we didn’t want the season to pass without a mention of it.

Second, well, we love that guide. Arthur, as we call him. So figuring out how other people felt about him was important to us.

Third, we work hard to prove the value of our efforts to our clients. We know you do, too. Our experience with Arthur just proved to us that the narrow focus on conversion rate discounts so much great stuff that goes on in the background. So, in true Mack Web spirit, we provide you with some practical alternatives.

And finally…well…we had to include this post. Otherwise Disappointed Turtle might have scowled at us. And that’s not a fate lightly to be borne.


Alright, so it’s not quite Hawaii…

So we may not have been strictly factual when we said Mack Web’s Best Summer Blog Posts were better than Hawaii. But we figure you would only know that if you actually went to Hawaii. In which case, you got both, so why are you complaining?

If you, like us, didn’t spend the summer sipping Mai Tais and enjoying the crystal blue waters, we want to know: what did you learn this summer? What made your Best Reads of the Summer List?

Arthur reading

Nuggets of Knowledge: August 2014

By | Nuggets of Knowledge | No Comments

nuggets-of-knowledge

This month’s #NOKlist brings you more of the Mack Web team’s ruminations on other people’s hard work (‘cuz that’s how we learn: standing on the shoulders of giants, etc.). The August Edition of the Nuggets of Knowledge includes actionable tips on email marketing and SEO, some of the Science! behind viral content, a new approach to managing your existing content, and a caution on the negative effects of too much measurement.

Also, Axl Rose. Yeah.

Check it out for yourself and, hey, for kicks, check out our past editions, too. You won’t be sorry.


Rebecca’s Pick

How Axl Rose Ended Up Commenting On Our Creative Piece

by Harriet Cummings

Rebecca

Rebecca

As an avid fan of Guns N’ Roses, I’m not ashamed to admit that when I saw this article title, I dropped everything to read the article in full. And both the 80s girl and the marketer sides of me are so glad that I did.

The creative piece in question is a data-curated interactive infographic – a music lover’s mini-playground, rife with the potential for who’s-the-greatest debates and design discussions. But that’s for another NOKlist. (And to the whole Mack Web team, I call dibs.)

The reason I selected Harriet Cumming’s article is for the transparent glimpse she provides into the creative process that birthed this infographic in the first place. In a relatively short post, she takes us through brainstorming > commitment to an idea > design and UX > finally getting the piece out there for the world to see. And then we get to see how the world responded.

This article is much like a new album that, once you get into it, you excitedly realize has a hidden track at the end. Packed with oodles of articles and resources, and even the mentioned-in-the-title comment by Axl Rose, the musically- and marketing-inclined will find themselves in Paradise City.

Read the post


Nat’s Pick

4 Predictions for the Future of Email Marketing

Post by Jimmy Daly, Vero

Nat

Nat

Often times I find that I have so many ideas I want to try out for our email marketing that I’m not sure where to begin or how to prioritize them. That’s why I found the blog post Vero put together on predictions for email marketing so very helpful. With these 4 predictions, I feel like I have a road map to help prioritize what I should look at, test, and optimize first for email marketing (then I can prioritize all my other email marketing ideas below these ones). What really makes this blog post “NOKlist worthy” is that Vero provides action steps for each prediction that I can put in place now (making everything that much easier for me to implement).

The blog post touches on the following:
1. Data will reign supreme.
2. Personalization will take on a meaning.
3. A/B testing will fade away.
4. Email volume will decline.

Give the predictions a look, try out the recommended action steps, and see what results develop for you. I’m excited to see what develops for us.

Read the post


Mack’s Pick

Number Crunching is Turning Marketers into Tactical Bullies

By Richard Becker

Mack

Mack

When you’re helping companies build their brands, there’s typically some pretty hefty expectations to overcome regarding results. Building a brand takes years, is ongoing, and although clients understand the long-term investment, they still need indicators in the short-term that validate their investment. Marketers have been working to deliver quantitative data that will communicate the value of all the time, effort, and budget spent, but as Rich Becker explains, their metrics may not be revealing the true picture.

“The sheer volume of data being lobbed at modern marketers is commoditizing the entire field while it distracts marketing from where its focus really ought to be, which is delivering a distinct brand promise to people who might care.”

It’s not that we’re communicating (all of) the wrong numbers (using metrics like qualified leads traffic to the website, click-throughs, conversions, and the like) it’s just that “numbers alone don’t tell the story.”

We work very hard to communicate the value of our efforts (and are continually investigating which metrics assist us in doing just that). This post is an important reminder that we need to continue seeking qualitative data that defends the value of marketing efforts. For us, it’s a matter of making sure we’re in a relationship with the right clients and that we’re continually exploring and experimenting which metrics (quantitative and qualitative) that prove our hard work is in fact making a difference.

Read the post


Courtney’s Pick

6 Big Takeaways from ‘The Science of Viral Content’

by Jillian Richardson, Contently

Courtney

Courtney

The blissfully oblivious put a lot of pressure on anyone who works with content or is considered creative or works with content and is considered creative to deliver something ‘viral.’ As if we’re all mad scientists following a closely-guarded recipe to cook up something brilliant and heart-stopping in our top secret labs.

And wouldn’t that be cool.

But of course, content virality depends on that most unpredictable of forces: mankind. Content goes viral because it tickles the fancy of the millions and billions of weirdly similar and diverse people in the world and they make it so. The reception a piece of content receives is just as difficult to predict as the general seethe of humanity.

Which is to say, difficult to gauge in the precursor but possible to understand in the aftermath.

And so, in the way of all mad scientists, Fractl did a study on what makes a marketing campaign go viral. And, in their usual way, Contently digested the study, providing key takeaways and showcasing some of the most compelling examples.

Surprise, surprise: the emotional experience is what causes content to explode. Different emotions inspire different responses in different demographics, but the most vivid similarity in the examples Contently embeds is that they all tell a story. (Except for the Harlem Shake phenomenon, which remains something of a mystery.)

The points are compelling, the videos are excellent. Worth a read and some contemplation before you plan out your next campaign/retreat to your mad scientist lair to brew up something particularly potent.

Read the post


Ayelet’s Pick

Why We Are Hiring for a New Content Role (and You Should Too)

by Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute

Ayelet

Ayelet

When I saw the title of this article, I thought for sure it was just another article about curating external content for social media channels. But Joe Pulizzi talks about content curation in a very different way. He goes into how internal content curation (including categorizing content already created, organizing it into some sort of data management system, developing a clear marketing plan for that content, and executing that plan) can be most effectively used. In the example he used, the company had hired a content curator to handle their own content better, repurposing and getting the best use out of existing content. As Mack Web is starting to develop more and more content on the blog and on our site, this article hit home to me as we will need to have a better system in place for managing it.

By making internal content curation more of a priority, you are better able to spot themes and test your theories. Although we don’t have one specific content curator at Mack Web (and you may not either), the ideas in this article can be implemented by your current team and over the course of time. Extra plus: this article is a short, but inspiring read.

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Ann’s Pick

10 Questions to Supercharge a New SEO Process

by Aleyda Solis

Ann

Ann

Two days from today I will be marrying that guy in the photo next to me. As you can imagine, my to-do list is quite long and has been for the past few months. The thing about planning a wedding is that slowly but surely as the months of your engagement pass, you eventually get to the big day.

The lesson that I’ve learned through this whole process is this: Whether a wedding planning list or a list of work tasks, if you’re faithful to your to-do list and take the tasks one at a time you’ll end up closer to your end goal…so long as you have the right things on your list.

When I read Aleyda Solis’s list of 10 Questions to Supercharger a New SEO Process, I instantly added 10 things to my to-do list – 10 new things to dig into and explore what possibilities might exist. What I like most about this article is how she pairs questions with tools, helping you put your SEO practices on steroids. Focus on finding answers to her questions, and you’ll find new places to add value and make a big difference in your business. Take each item one at a time (just like the tasks for planning a wedding) and by the time you get to the end of the list you’ll be able to enjoy all of the new opportunities you’ve discovered to improve your SEO efforts.

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

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Nuggets of Knowledge: July 2014

By | Nuggets of Knowledge | No Comments

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Yay! It’s #NOKlist time. (Not to be confused with Hammer Time or Tool Time or Miller Time or Adventure Time or Outta Time.)

We’ve once again gathered – for your entertainment and edification – our favorite posts from the last month(ish). We’ve got reflections and instructions, creativity and content and career advice, processes and platforms. Y’know, the good stuff.

So check out July’s Nuggets of Knowledge and – if you’ve missed a few – our Nuggets of Knowledge archive is there to help you out.

Bon appetit.


Rebecca’s Pick

How Seth Meyers and TV Showrunners Are Using Twitter to Find New Writers

by Michael Schneider

Rebecca

Rebecca

I’m not even 40 yet and I already feel like an old fart in the job hunting game.

When I started considering my next career move less than a year ago, I did what every go-getter does: updated my LinkedIn profile, worked my connections, did some last-minute volunteer work (don’t judge me). I even spent quite a bit of time on Pinterest researching design upgrades for my soul-defining résumé.

But if I had been applying for writing jobs? Hoo boy, I would have been missing a vital step. Little did I know that Twitter was becoming a legitimate forum for showing off one’s writing prowess.

Michael Schneider lays out exactly why Twitter has become a writer’s new way to get his or her foot in the showbiz door. It’s not just another place for writing samples. It’s become an additional opportunity to discover the true voice and tone of a writer over a longer period of time.

Don’t believe him? Then just ask Seth Meyers and Andy Samberg (although Mindy Kaling isn’t quite sold yet).

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Nat’s Pick

Creativity isn’t about the end product, but the process of making it.

Post by Birdsong Gregory, video by Liberatum

Nat

Nat

There’s a lot of content out there about creativity and inspiration. Do a few searches online and you’ll probably get back articles like four steps to getting inspired, rules to finding inspiration, 9 ways to increase creativity, and so on. As a creative myself, I know that often times finding inspiration is much more random and cannot be contained (or nourished) within a 4 step plan. Don’t get me wrong, this type of content can be extremely useful for coming up with ideas or thinking in new ways. However, at the end of the day, inspiration doesn’t come from a mechanized method; it comes from a desire within to create.

That’s why I found the short film by Liberatum, Inspiring Creativity, so refreshing. The film presents 21 perspectives on creativity and inspiration from some of the top creatives in the fields of art, fashion, film, design, technology and music. As you watch the film, not only do you start to understand just how nebulous the sources of creativity can be, you start to see a pattern: that highly creative people find the process more important than the final product.

Give it a watch and see what you think.

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Mack’s Pick

The Future of Content with Lisa Gerber

Interview of Lisa Gerber by Danny Brown

Mack

Mack

It has become very apparent that there is no scarcity of content on the internet. It’s also no secret that businesses all over the world are using content to build their brands.

Which means there’s a lot of noise about content right now.

‘Here’s what you need to write about.’ ‘Here’s how often you need to write it.’ ‘Here’s how much you should write.’ ‘Here’s how long to make your titles.’ ‘And here’s how to get people to click on your tweets about the stuff you just wrote.’

There’s a whole lot of talk about writing content and not a whole lot of talk about the meaning behind it.

What I love about this brief interview with Lisa Gerber is this:

“What I hope for the future is brands who forge their own paths, and do marketing on their own terms. They take smart risks by standing for something and using that perspective to drive their content plan.”

Content is an incredibly valuable asset if it starts from a place of purpose. If it comes from a place of meaning that goes beyond acquiring a link or achieving a conversion. If you’re not intentional with your content, if you’re not creating “helpful and relevant content,” you’re just adding to the noise.

It’s a great (and short) post that will challenge you to think about the content you’re making.

Side note: I noticed Lisa is speaking at SearchLove San Diego this September. That would be a great opportunity to get more of this good stuff from her in the flesh.

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Courtney’s Pick

She’s Still Dying on Facebook

by Julie Buntin, The Atlantic

Courtney

Courtney

I was all ready to go with a lovely post on not forgetting the small wins in our rush to lay down the foundation for long-term content success when I saw this article. It talks about a lot of things: the nature of friendship and grief and growing up. Really, Facebook is just the catalyst, the framework for Julie Buntin’s reflection on the final, tragic days of a friendship.

But beyond the sad truths she fearlessly reveals, what struck me about this article was this:

As digital marketers, we talk a lot (like, a lot) about how the internet and the advent of social media have changed the face of the world. We bandy about terms like ‘audience engagement’ and ‘target demographics’ and ‘applause’ and ‘amplification’ and ‘conversation’.

We warn our clients to be careful what they (and their employees) put out there on social media because the record is permanent and you don’t want the images from your 10-year reunion to color how you’re seen in board meetings. Those things are all real and true.

What we (or at least I) tend to forget is that the internet and the advent of social media have changed the face of the world. Not just for businesses, not just for marketing, not just for the professional sphere. Every layer of our lives, from superficial conversations to the deepest ruminations of our hearts, have been touched by the simultaneous immediacy and permanence of the digital realm.

Julie’s story is the perfect example. We talk about the stages of grief and the process of mourning. Of sharp pangs and harsh self-recriminations fading, with much time, to watercolored memory and soft, regretful melancholy. With evergreen records of all our days, there is no fading. There is no forgetting.

What other effects have crept into our daily lives without our noticing? What follow-on effects will emerge?

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Ayelet’s Pick

Why Your Unique Value Proposition is Killing Your Landing Page Conversions and How to Fix It

by Rich Page, Unbounce

Ayelet

Ayelet

We deal with unique value propositions (or as we call them USPs, unique selling propositions) weekly, if not daily. The UVP/USP is the biggest thing you’ve got going for you, like speed to a cheetah or the shell to a turtle. They are the core of our clients’ businesses and are the reason a customer chooses them.

And yet, USPs are one of the hardest things for a business to pin down. Why? Because you’ve got to set aside your agenda, your wants, needs, and desires. You’ve got to focus 100% on why the customer is coming to you and how you can help them satisfy their wants, needs, and desires. This article is a great resource to walk you through the process of finding your USP and, specifically, showcasing it on a landing page. Read it now or read it later – at some point, it’s going to be useful for you.

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Ann’s Pick

First Follower: Leadership lessons from a dancing guy

by Derek Sivers

Ann

Ann

We Mack Webbers have been known to have an opinion about followers. This video, however, is about a different type of follower.

Derek Sivers gave this TED talk in 2010 in front of Bill Gates, Al Gore, and 200 other “geniuses.” In three minutes, he walks you through the growth dynamics of a movement, any movement. From start to finish, crazy idea to mass appeal, he highlights the role of not only the leader but the first follower, too. Because a leader, without a first follower, is just a lone nut.

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

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Nuggets of Knowledge: June 2014

By | Nuggets of Knowledge | One Comment

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This month’s NOKlist brings you our usual mishmash of design, measurement, content creating, and community building wisdom.

By now, you know the drill, so we’ll leave you to it.

Unless you don’t know the drill. In which case, check out our Nuggets of Knowledge archive to see more stuff we found that other people know (and now we know, too). Also…last month there were baby pictures. Just sayin’…


Ann’s Pick

Publish Your Blog Post Without SEO, and 1000s of Visits Will Be Forever Lost

by Rand Fishkin

Ann

Ann

The best part about my role at Mack Web as Team Support is that I get to do a little of everything. Recently, I’ve been training on SEO with Mack, and to be completely honest, I didn’t even know what those letters stood for in 2012. Fast forward two years and not a day passes that I’m not reading, doing, or thinking about it.

Mack sent me this article that Rand Fishkin (the mustache marker man talkin’ at a whiteboard) contributed to Theme Week on ProBlogger. He explains how fast your content (like a blog post) can die if it’s not optimized for search. With a half-life of less than 7 hours across social networks (crikey!), you’ve gotta do something that works for the long haul. Rand walks you through 3 simple steps to prep your post before you hit the publish button. From keyword research, to title and body content, and finally outreach, he gives you a plan to follow. Whether you’re writing your first blog post, training on SEO, or live every moment in this industry (and are looking for a good post to show your friends who ask you what you do or how it works), give this one read, and then put it into practice.

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Ayelet’s Pick

Excellent Analytics Tip #25: Decrapify Search, Social Compound Metrics

by Avinash Kaushik

Ayelet

Ayelet

This may be old news to some of you, but compound metrics suck. And yet, people still use them without thinking about what they mean. (A compound metric, in case you were wondering, is a measurement that combines multiple criteria to yield a single number, like PageRank.) The blindness to the nuance of what these numbers are really saying makes it harder for people to take action on analytics. Avinash walks his readers through his thought process on exactly why no one should use compound metrics (and gives an alternative, less-crappy compound metric for search performance).

This post really validates a couple of aims that we’ve been working towards with our monthly analytics reports. First, there isn’t one simple, easy metric that you can give your “Dear Leader” (in Avinash’s words). Translating analytics to others requires hard work, understanding, and communication. If you’re just using one compound metric to do that, you’re doing it wrong. Second, metrics need context. A number is just a number unless you give the context of what has affected that number. I’ll let Avinash’s words speak for themselves.

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Courtney’s Pick

Why Content Marketers Are Using All the Wrong Metrics (And What They Should Be Measuring Instead)

by Contently

Courtney

Courtney

Anybody breaking into content strategy pretty quickly grasps the fact that we deal in outdated metrics. We can make the best of it, cleverly reading meaning into pageviews and bounce rates. There is still information to be gleaned there.

But it’s not the very best information. We’re all searching for that elusive measure of how people are really responding to the content we so painstakingly create.

Contently, not surprisingly, suggests their own tool, which has found a way to track relationships, through what they’re calling ‘engaged time’, readers and returning readers, and average finish.

Does it work? I don’t know yet, having not tested the tool. But the spotlight this 14-page ebook shines on the problem is excellent and the history of content metrics provides really good context for just how and why we got to the point we’re at. The incisive analysis of the current popular metrics neatly articulates all the things reduce content strategists to gibbering frustration, so that’s worth a look. Even without the tool itself, there’s a lot of good food for thought (and some pretty good resources, too).

Plus, it starts with this simple battle cry: Death to the pageview. Can’t miss that.

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Mack’s Pick

These Are The Six Steps I Use For Great Content Marketing

by Jay Baer

Mack

Mack

Content marketing is so. much. work. Content can be an incredibly powerful and extremely effective tool, but it takes a whole lot more than a blog post (or three) for it to make a difference in your business.

Jay shares all kinds of wisdom in this short post, highlighting 6 very simple steps he uses when approaching content marketing. In a nutshell, Jay’s process emphasizes that if you want your content to serve your customers, add value to your business, and drive growth, you can’t just create content to create content. Your content must be meaningful, you’ve got to start with goals (and have a strategy), you’ve got to actually tell people it exists, and measure its effectiveness. His simple process addresses all of this and more.

In addition to learning more about Jay’s process (oh, do I love processes), my very favorite part of this post is an important concept (that I’m obsessed with these days) called Atomization (see Step 4). Essentially, Atomization is “taking one big idea and making many smaller content executions from it.” This concept has really challenged us to think differently and simplify the content strategies that we develop for our clients (which has resulted in much more effective and powerful content).

Instead of always trying to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel each time we’re developing content strategy, we’ve been working on determining all the “products” we can get out of just one idea (that aligns with goals) and then execute that over a series of months. These products may be small like blog posts or checklists (and serve as stepping stones) or bigger content things like video, e-books, Hangouts on Air, or maybe even an offline event.

This concept of Atomization has really helped us to get more out of the efforts we’re already making which is a breath of fresh air for this small (but mighty) team. Give it a read and let me know how you’re applying it in your world.

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Nat’s Pick

From Up North (Website)

Started by Daniel Nelson

Nat

Nat

Back in December, I wrote a blog post on 3 Awesome Resources to Kickstart Your Creativity. Sometime after that, I stumbled on a website called From Up North and thought it would be a nice addendum. The site has a multitude of high quality design work with 19 inspiration galleries ranging from Advertising to Web Design.

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite resources for staying up-to-date on design trends and in general, getting inspired (heck, I even signed up for their daily email full of inspiration).

Whether you need a creativity boost, want ideas for your next design project or just desire a little more art in your life, pay this website a visit because it’s going to give you all that and more (and while you’re there, visit two of my favorite categories: Logotypes and Typography).

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Rebecca’s Pick

Putting On the Ritz, Six Words at a Time

by Stuart Elliott

Rebecca

Rebecca

Six-word memoirs. Six-word stories. Flash fiction.

This storytelling exercise not only challenges the most zealous of logophiles, but it’s also the foundation of a luxury hotel’s latest marketing effort: telling, not selling.

Yet it’s not the marketing agency or the hotel aristocrats who are driving this limousine down memory lane. These #RCMemories are being written by Ritz-Carlton employees.

As a word sleuth myself and an attempter of crossword puzzles, I’m inspired by this novel definition of concise storytelling. (Get it? “Novel?” Ahem.) But my wheels are also turning as I consider how we could do more to place the opportunity to tell, not sell, into the hands of our brand advocates: the average joe or josephine.

Join Stuart Elliott as he takes you through a brief history of this famous storytelling exercise (Ernest Hemingway lore included), all the while sharing some six-word backstories that read like a Chicken Soup for the Soul for the weary content marketer.

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014