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Nuggets of Knowledge

Nuggets of Knowledge: July 2015

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July is an introspective month for Mack Web. This month’s Nuggets of Knowledge includes musings on the nature of the web (and society), the quest for inspiration, the benefits of human connection, making bold decisions, and the pursuit of inner light.

Deep stuff.

Or maybe the heat is affecting our brains. Who can say, really?

Either way, we’ve got some great thoughts for you this month and, if you’re itching for something to do, check out our NOKlist archive. Read More

Nuggets of Knowledge: June 2015

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Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Summer’s here! You know what that means?

Yep, it’s too hot for fancy intros. NOKlist, guys, chock full of social media savvy, productivity tips, methods for overcoming the fear of failure, and enduring through difficulty goodness. You know the drill.

(If you don’t know the drill, check out the Nuggets of Knowledge archive. You’re smart. You’ll pick it up quickly.) Read More

Nuggets of Knowledge: May 2015

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Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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It’s a different month from last month, which can only mean one thing: NOKlist time. (Actually, it could probably mean more than one thing. Like bills and calendar pages and maybe a haircut. But this is the thing that matters right now.)

May’s Nuggets of Knowledge is one for both self-reflection and helpful tips. New approaches to strategy and brand voice, musings on the interaction of art and technology and bank robbers, and thoughts on learning and on working: these all lie before you. Exciting, right?

(And if you’d like to check out previous NOKlists, we’ve got a whole Nuggets of Knowledge archive.) Read More

Nuggets of Knowledge: April 2015

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Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

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Systems and design, quitting and creativity, a scathing denunciation of dickheads – such a collection of introspection, practical advice, geekery, and judiciously applied profanity can only mean one thing. That’s right, friends. It’s NOKlist time.

(If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading the Nuggets of Knowledge our team collects, check out the NOKlist archive.) Read More

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Nuggets of Knowledge: March 2015

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In accordance with our new NOKlist protocol, the other half of the team speaks! And as you can expect from any cross-section of the Mack Web team, we’ve got a mixed bunch of food-for-thought for your noggins today.

Obsession and follow-through, integrated marketing and dubious GIFs, the joys and perils of being the New Kid: we like to keep you guessing.

(If you’re at all familiar with our past NOKlists, you’re well accustomed to such an eclectic mix. If you’re new, you’re in for a treat.)

So sit back and enjoy Nuggets of Knowledge, March 2015 edition. You won’t regret it.

(Well, you probably won’t regret it … allowing for context. If you miss the birth of your first child or the signs of an impending tiger attack because you were completely engrossed in our NOKlist, you might regret it. Maybe.)


Rebecca’s Pick

The Idea Person

by Julie Zhuo

Rebecca

Rebecca

I have a deep-buried secret that I’ve never admitted to anyone but my husband and a trusted few, for I felt it would bring shame upon my kind and kin.

I’ve never completed all five seasons of Chuck.

You see, at around season 2, watching this should-have-been-my-favorite-TV-show got more difficult. I had to endure a whole lot of love angst and an insecure leading man before getting to the good spy stuff. At that time in my life, Chuck was a good idea, but I just didn’t have what it took to follow through to the end.

There’s a lesson to be learned here, and Julie Zhuo talks all about it in her recent post about the follow-through person. (There’s no mention of Chuck, but she does mention a lotus and Final Fantasy.) Yet she doesn’t just talk about the follow-through person – she celebrates her.

We are indeed a culture that celebrates the idea person. But what about the ones who endure through the muck and mire of research, planning, revisions, revisions, revisions … to finally emerge at the end with a fully realized idea? As part of a great team of muck and mire sloggers, I nearly wept after reading Julie Zhuo’s post. I didn’t feel like I was laying face-down in the trenches. I felt hands-raised-in-the-air celebrated.

Lesson: “Nothing thrills like the promise of a good idea. Nothing happens without the follow-through.”

Life application: T minus 24 episodes

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Mike’s Pick

A True Goal Needs to Become an Obsession

by Joe Desena

Mike

Mike

When it comes to setting the bar and accomplishing things in life, I’ve always admired those that cross the line of liking something to becoming utterly obsessed. It’s one thing to run a marathon, which is on my list, but it’s another thing to be an ultramarathon runner. As you’ll see in this article, Michael Wardian was obsessed with being the fastest person to run a 50k.

It takes that kind of determination to be successful; OK, maybe not as crazy as Michael Wardian got, but you get my point. In their lives and careers, too many people fail to set their goals high enough or quit before they get there. I like the quote in this article that states, “People cheer at the starting and the finish line. The middle miles need mental toughness.”

And that’s very true, especially for a business. Starting a business is always shiny in the beginning and usually gets tough in the middle. Personally, the middle miles are what excite me the most about coming to work everyday. Those are the miles where you learn, test, build, and reflect on a daily basis. And all the skills you build will serve you well beyond the finish line. Because if you think about it, the finish line isn’t really the end, it’s the start of something new. A new challenge, a new record, a new experience that ultimately shape who you are today.

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Courtney’s Pick

The GIF of Gab: The Mundane Politics of Animated Images

by Megan Garber

Courtney

Courtney

It’s not a long article and it’s not even terribly deep: a brief commentary on the falling barriers between political media and PR. It’s also not surprising that even the House Judiciary Committee – an important body that goes largely unheeded by most of the population that falls outside the Beltway – is resorting to GIFs these days to communicate its point.

But two interesting things struck me as I was perusing the Committee’s offering.

Now, I love a good GIF as much as the next person (there’s one of llama rejection that I find particularly delightful and I have a whole collection of famous people doing stupid dance moves that I like to circulate when I feel the office environment is becoming oppressive). But no one has ever claimed them as a particularly high-brow form of communication. Nevertheless, it turns out, it is possible to do a GIF post very badly indeed. All respect to the Committee, but…this is clearly not their media department’s forte. What I actually took away from that realization though is: if you can tell that something has been done poorly, that means that you can also recognize when it has been done well. I tend to be a strictly-words kinda girl for effective communication, so it was a reminder to think outside my comfort zone (and other mangled cliches).

On a related and almost contradictory note, the second thing that struck me reading this article was that all this talk we’ve been talking about ensuring everything your marketing does is genuine and authentic and comes from the core of who you are – it’s really, actually true. Not that I doubted it, but I saw it in action in two ways. First, you can’t count on flashy gimmicks to set you apart: everyone is using them. (Like, everyone.) Second, I have actually never been less impressed with the House Judiciary Committee. Their struggle to be relevant has actually just made them look like a bunch of suits desperately trying to ‘be chill, dudes.’ In ceding the gravitas and general self-importance that one expects from an elite group of our governing body, they’ve actually torpedoed what they were trying to say.

In short, it’s important to tailor your message to your audience. Absolutely. But you should do it without losing your grasp on who you are and what makes you powerful.

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Beth’s Pick

The First 90 Days: Your Road Map for Success at a New Job

By Scott McDowell

Beth

Beth

I’ve recently joined Mack Web as the Content Strategist. It’s a new role for them and a new role for me. Prior to this, I spent 8 1/2 years as the director of communications for the alumni association of a large, public, land-grant institution.

Now that I am in a totally new industry, a small office space, and working with a team of 10 (instead of hundreds), I am in the backseat, watching out the window, wondering and waiting. It’s a strange place to be. I’m accustomed to being the driver – or at least the navigator – and right now I’m a passenger, listening and watching and taking it all in.

This article from Scott McDowell, published at 99U, is a re-cap of The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins, and gives a five-step roadmap for surviving and succeeding in a new job. These 5 steps are a great guide for tempering your urge to dive in, building your relationships with new co-workers, and clarifying expectations and needs from the boss.

I’m glad I’ve done a few of the steps – I could improve on some of the others – and it’s helpful to know that it’s common to feel inept and anxious to jump in. So, though it’s difficult, I shall sit down, buckle up, and listen hard. It won’t be long, I’m sure, before the lay of the land becomes clear and I can start to navigate the path.

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Ann’s Pick

6 Creative Ways to Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing

by Jimmy Daly

Ann

Ann

It’s no secret that I heart the guys over at Vero. Jimmy & Chris are a) super smart b) authentic & transparent and c) extra friendly and approachable. I mean, does it get much better than that?

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see this Buffer article was written by none other than Jimmy Daly from Vero.

Speaking of people I heart, our very own Ayelet is definitely at the tip top of that list. And this article is all about our two worlds colliding – social & email. If you haven’t heard it a hundred times yet, we’re all about the integrated experience here at Mack Web. Our fearless leader pushes us to avoid the silos of our individual channels. All of our strategies are about using the channels together to accomplish big goals for our clients.

Since the path to conversion isn’t always as linear as we’d like it to be, we create the experience everywhere – before, during, and after conversion. And that’s right where this post from Jimmy comes in handy. He presents six tactics for integrating your social & email channels so the experience carries seamlessly between the two.

This post is super practical with screen shots walking you through every step. So, give it a read and plan afternoon tea date with your social & community strategist (or coffee or beer with whatever role your social/email counterpart fills).

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

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Nuggets of Knowledge: February 2015

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Most of you know the drill for Nuggets of Knowledge by now: we read a whole lot of stuff, choose the very best of it to share with you, add our unique voices to the commentary, and leave you in peace to enjoy our brilliance and the brilliance of those we admire. It’s a good system. It works.

Which is why, of course, we’ve decided to change it up a bit. The team is growing and rather than overwhelm you with so much monthly genius, we’ve decided to split it up a little. So this month, you’ll be hearing from half the team. The other half will share next month. And so on and so forth. Really, we’re just trying to keep your brains from exploding with all the amazing-ness that we have to share.

So dive right into this month’s NOKlist, rife with office and team dynamics, data on user behavior, and some great tips for personal information. Plus our shining faces.

Well, half of our shining faces.

Er, that is…the shining faces of half our team. No faces were halved in the making of this NOKlist. We swear.

Nor any other NOKlist for that matter. Seriously, check out our NOKlist archive. All faces, entirely intact.


Rebecca’s Pick

Overwhelmed? Simplify Complex Tasks with a List

by Tanner Christensen

Rebecca

Rebecca

This article is dedicated to anyone who has ever had too much to do. If that’s not you, then please back away slowly lest you incur the wrath of the overwhelmed.

For the rest of us, we can rein in those tasks that never seem to get done because they seem just too darn big to start. And it all starts with the art of list making.

Tanner Christensen helps us understand that complexity can in fact be the enemy of accomplishment. But perhaps all you need is a list to save the day.

Let’s start with this one:

1. Identify that task that, for some reason, you don’t want to do. Instead you keep binge-watching Scrubs because Netflix told you they were going to remove it and yet you were only three-fourths of the way through the nine-season series, but then after weeks of watching 3-5 episodes a day they took off that warning (lying bastards).

2. Read this article.

3. Make your list.

4. Bask in your success.

5. Finish Scrubs at a reasonable cadence and let your husband watch his Nova documentaries for crying out loud.

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Olivia’s Pick

Why Your Team Needs Rookies

by Liz Wiseman

Olivia

Olivia

“I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know I’m doing it really well.” – Andy Dwyer, Parks and Rec (also me, multiple occasions)

Before I read this article, I didn’t think being a rookie was an awful thing necessarily, but I definitely didn’t think it was desirable.

Career wise (and life wise), it seems like being an expert or a veteran, with experience and knowledge on your side, is advantageous to being a rookie, who has lots to learn (and inevitably lots of mistakes to make), yes?

This article shows you why that’s not totally true. It explains why rookies one, are underestimated, and two, are something a team needs. I’ll let you discover the specific reasons, but think an eagerness to learn and experiment, a willingness to explore unconventional options, and an aptness for just jumping in and doing the dang thing. In fact, having a knowledge or skills gap can be hugely advantageous. (Counterintuitive, right? But this idea actually makes a lot of sense once you read about it.)

I especially liked this because in an industry like, say, integrated marketing, things change quickly, so there’s a good chance that sometimes, you’ll feel like a rookie even if you’ve been around for a while. Sometimes I find this slightly frustrating, but it turns out that having that rookie mindset is valuable. And, bonus: anyone can adopt it, regardless of their age or career.

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Nat’s Pick

6 things we learned from website use in 2014

by Keir Gibson and Gavin Holland

Nat

Nat

As a designer, I find data helpful. It helps me figure out how my design is going to address user needs, behaviours, and small improvements needed in a website’s design. This, of course, is done by looking at data which is unique to said website.

But you know what else I’ve realized? It’s also crucial to stay up-to-date on larger trends and behaviours, pulled from a larger pool of data. Looking at a larger sampling of data helps me understand the wider themes of user behaviours, which in turn helps me become a better designer (rather than an out-dated one). That’s why I’m sharing this post by Keir Gibson and Gavin Holland for this month’s NOKlist. Gibson and Holland looked at data from 2014 and analyzed usage-related stats from more than 25 sites, and came up with some interesting findings.

They touch on 6 key things:

1. Device trends
2. Browser trends
3. Top traffic-driving channels
4. Social network referrals
5. Landing pages
6. User behaviour

You don’t have to be a designer to find this data useful. If you’re an online marketer, a business owner, or just someone interested in user behaviour from 2014, then check this article out and see what you learn.

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Mack’s Pick

Why Yammer Believes the Traditional Engineering Structure is Dead

By Kris Gale, VP of Engineering at Yammer

Mack

Mack

As Mack Web continues to grow, I seek insight that will help us better structure our team for efficiency, balance, and better serving our clients while staying true to our responsive nature and extremely collaborative culture. Although we are not a team of engineers, there are many parallels in Kris’ post that provide food for thought as the Mack Web team increases in size.

The biggest realization I had while reading Kris’ post was from this piece:

“If you’ve broken up work…where the top-level managers have to divide tasks and then delegate them, you’re doing it wrong. If the individual who’s actually implementing the code spots something that’s wrong with the spec, he or she has to propose a change all the way up the ladder, which then has to filter back down. It’s a blocking process and will bring product development to a halt. Meanwhile, the other engineers in different parts of the organization will see this as churn since they’re not working closely with the engineer who proposed the change. They won’t understand the rationale behind the revision itself.”

Even when you’re a small company, it’s really easy to over-think structure and put roadblocks where they don’t belong. As we work to identify the quickest way to delegate tasks throughout the team and spend more time on action and less time on planning, this post provides some great advice.

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Ayelet’s Pick

Madam C.E.O., Get Me a Coffee

by Adam Grant & Sheryl Sandberg

Ayelet

Ayelet

What?! A departure from my regular posts in our Nuggets of Knowledge about analytics, social media, and community?! Am I feeling alright? Yes, I feel fine and yes, I am taking a break from those wonderful topics this month. This article about women in the workplace really spoke to me. Because although I now work in an office of mainly women, I – like most women who have been in the workplace for any length of time – have faced these issues, even though we may not realize them explicitly or we’ve talked ourselves out of recognizing what exactly is going on.

Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg write about how women work and how that style can affect the opportunities they get offered at work. This article isn’t just great for other women to read; it is a must for everyone to read. It doesn’t male bash and there’s real research behind what they say. Adam and Sheryl (we’re on a first-name basis now) stir up a hopeful discussion on how the current situation for women in the workplace can be reversed. Please check it out and pass it on.

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

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Nuggets of Knowledge: January 2015

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We are happy to usher in 2015 with the first NOKlist of the year. And we’re off to an exciting start with good brand advice, a content process, a little bit of nostalgia, and a whole lot of Mayhem. Not to mention two – yep, count ‘em, two – excellent articles on optimizing your email campaigns.

So crack open that bottle of champagne you’ve been hoarding from your New Year’s celebrations and settle in to enjoy Mack Web’s Nuggets of Knowledge, January edition.

(And, just in case that’s not enough Nuggets for you, check out the compendium of last year’s NOKlists, too.)


Rebecca’s Pick

Allstate’s Mayhem Is Back and He’s Watching Your Social Media Profiles

by Ashley Rodriguez

Rebecca

Rebecca

I love Mayhem. I don’t mean that I embrace needless or willful damage or violence (that’s reserved just for the movies). I mean Allstate’s self-made archenemy. He’s the Khan to their Captain Kirk. He’s the Sauron to their noble Hobbitses. He’s the Joker to their Batman.

And he’s looking for you … on social.

In her recent post, Ashley Rodriguez provides an overview of Allstate’s latest campaign, and in the process she shines a Bat-Signal on a segment of thieves that many of us don’t think about when we’re posting online: social savvy burglars.

What I adore about this campaign is that I can actually adore it, even though I’m not an Allstate customer. Allstate’s message is meant for everyone as a PSA and for the common good – going beyond just brand promotion. That means that even people like me – an eternal loyalist to my current insurance provider – will gladly share this content with anyone who will listen (or read, or tweet, or whatever).

There’s a crucial lesson to be learned here, if it hasn’t been learned already: Consumers are not blind – we know there’s a brand attached to this content. But if it’s quality? Then we’ll enthusiastically (and possibly heroically) share it for you.

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Olivia’s Pick

10 Ways We Come Up With 15+ Blog Ideas Each Week

by Alex Turnbull

Olivia

Olivia

I have a major marketing/strategy/content crush (which, yes, is a thing I just made up) on Groove. Their posts are always excellent and I especially like this one about how to come up with blog post ideas.

If you’ve been following Groove at all over the past year, you know that they are a case study in how to do content marketing right. This post lets you in on how they come up with (get this) more ideas than they have time to write about. If you have ever struggled to come up with a blog post idea or if that is your very struggle right now, having a surplus of ideas probably sounds like bliss. The best part about the detailed look into the system that Groove uses is that you can very easily take parts of it (or the whole darn thing) and apply it to your blog/business.

And, bonus, the tactics in this post can do a lot more than help you come up with blog post topics. They’ll also help you understand your customers, the communities that they’re part of, and how they use your product.

If you’re looking for a model of how to be transparent or how to share your experiences in a way that provides value to your readers (this idea of value is a common thread that runs through this whole post) or if you need a gentle, loving nudge to take some risks and write about them, I’d check this out.

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Nat’s Pick

5 A/B Tests You Should Be Running on Your Landing Page Opt-In Forms

by Giles Thomas

Nat

Nat

Opt-in forms play an important part in the conversion process. Filling out a form is often the final step a user takes to convert, which is why we need to roll up our sleeves and ensure our opt-in forms are being all that an opt-in form can be.

But what sort of tests do you run to discover if your opt-in form could be better? This is where Giles Thomas and his post about A/B testing opt-in forms come into play. Thomas offers up 5 tests we can – and should – run on our opt-in forms. After all, every audience is unique, so you’re not going to find what works best for your users until you start testing things out.

One key piece of this blog post (and why I feel it’s “Nuggets worthy”) is that it doesn’t just give you A/B testing ideas, but it also includes a case study for each test. The case studies are awesome because you can see the A/B variations that were tested against one another and the results that ensued. I hope this post gets you excited about A/B testing and helps you make great adjustments to your opt-in forms for better conversion rates. Happy testing!

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Mike’s Pick

How You Can Build a Meaningful Brand

By Hannah Smith

Mike

Mike

I can’t stop thinking about the stat I read in Hannah Smith’s recent Moz post: “In Europe and the US, consumers would not care if 92% of brands ceased to exist.” Wow, tough crowd. What is it that makes the remaining 8% so special?

I think Hannah nailed it on the head with her list of three types of enduring brands:

1. Brands that have opportunities to delight customers (social, customer service, on the street)
2. Brands that give people the ability to define themselves to others
3. Brands that stand for something above and beyond their products or services

For me, the best example of this is Patagonia. They continue to delight me with their new products, retail experience, breathtaking photography and their continued determination to make a difference. And I see Hannah’s point about being able to define yourself with the company. When I see someone wearing a Patagonia product, I feel like I know something more about that person. That moment of recognition has been fostered by the brand ideals that Patagonia has been communicating all along. Anyone can make a jacket, but I look at that jacket and I see forest conservation and care for the environment and sustainable production. I see meaning behind the product. Brands that do this well will own the 8 percent.

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Mack’s Pick

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead

By James Clear

Mack

Mack

In this quantitative, ROI-hungry world of marketing, not only do goals give us something to strive for, they also give us something against which to measure progress. What I love about this post from James Clear is that he’s thinking differently about goals and putting the focus on the process, not the result.

“When you’re working toward a goal, you are essentially saying, ‘I’m not good enough yet, but I will be when I reach my goal.’”

The problem with this mindset is that you’re teaching yourself to always put happiness and success off until the next milestone is achieved. ‘Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy. Once I achieve my goal, then I’ll be successful.'”

Working towards achieving anything is a process. This post is a gentle reminder that the value and satisfaction of your efforts isn’t really in reaching the goal, but rather what is experienced and learned along the way. I love the emphasis on the building blocks and all of the tiny pieces you’re putting into place along your journey that happen to be just as important as the end goal itself.

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Courtney’s Pick

Google – Year in Search 2014

by Google

Courtney

Courtney

There’s no better way to start off the year than by looking over the year gone by. Google’s annual summary of their trending searches gives clear and interesting insight into the topics that were really on people’s minds last year. (Plus, it makes for a goosebumpingly inspirational video.) Everything from hoverboards to ebola to comets to the Olympics: Google tells us both the timely topics of 2014 and reminds us of the enduring truths of humankind. We love and we worry and we laugh and we wonder and we cheer and we idolize and we fight and we hope.

And not to cheapen the moment, but those are also the things we marketers need to remember when we fret about how to capture the audience, how to keep them engaged, how to be relevant. Because whether the Thing of the Day is a boy in a funny hat or a girl with a pack of dragons, the underlying emotions remain the same.

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Ayelet’s Pick

Building Consumer Awareness: How to Talk to People Who Don’t Know They Need You

by Bridget Randolph

Ayelet

Ayelet

As marketers who live & breathe brand, it’s easy for us to fall into the trap of thinking everyone gets the brand and the problem a given product or service solves. This article is a great reminder that 1) normal people may not even know they have a problem, 2) they may not know that there’s a doodad or service that can solve that problem, and 3) they may not even know how to start looking for that doodad or service because they don’t even know they have a problem.

So how do you make them care? Get to the heart of that and you’re golden. This post by Bridget Randolph will get you on the right path, my friends.

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Ann’s Pick

5 Things You Need to Know Before You Write a Word of Email Opt-In Copy

by Megan Hannay

Ann

Ann

As a devoted reader of this NOKlist, you were looking for another article with five items related to opt-in landing pages, right? Good, I knew you were. That’s why I’ve got your back. (If you’re skimming this list and missed the first article with five items related to opt-in landing pages, scroll up to Nat’s pick for this month.)

Unbounce’s list of 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Write a Word of Email Opt-In Copy is a great precursor to the post Nat shared. It’s like the little diving board you want to jump off of before you go to the high dive. (And if you already have some email opt-in copy written, no worries, just use the A/B guide hand-in-hand with this list of questions to test out all the things. You’ll have the most super optimized opt-in page in all of the land.)

Something to note about this article: the first question is about goals. It always starts with goals. Figure that stuff out, then move forward from there. Whether optimizing copy or A/B testing visual design, figure out your goals first. But, I do like this article for more than the fact that it echoes our own mantra. It’s also super user-focused and has lots of great tips for looking at existing data. Even if you don’t have any data from an email service provider (yet…follow this path and you will soon), there are lots of things you can look at and take into consideration when figuring out what your opt-in copy should say. Check out this list of questions (and Nat’s list too), test some things, and then let us know what results you find.

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014

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Nuggets of Knowledge: December 2014

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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.

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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

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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Nuggets of Knowledge April 2014