Copyblogger http://www.copyblogger.com Content marketing tools and training. Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:11:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 5 Steps to Revising Your Content Marketing Strategy to Attract and Retain Future Customers http://www.copyblogger.com/rethink-content-marketing/ http://www.copyblogger.com/rethink-content-marketing/#respond Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45630 This is not a how-to post; this is a how-to-think post. What troubles me about the majority of current content creation activities from companies is the sheer lack of strategy and purpose. I see a lot of activities — tweets, posts, articles, infographics, and more — that don’t support a real business goal. Content Marketing

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Authority Rainmaker 2015 speaker Joe Pulizzi

This is not a how-to post; this is a how-to-think post.

What troubles me about the majority of current content creation activities from companies is the sheer lack of strategy and purpose.

I see a lot of activities — tweets, posts, articles, infographics, and more — that don’t support a real business goal.

Content Marketing Institute’s latest research even found that only 38 percent of all marketers believe they are effective at content marketing.

Your business goal that drives your particular content creation strategy should be to build an audience.

With a loyal audience you can sell, well, practically anything you want.

An upside-down model

I believe most businesses are doing it wrong. Today, the majority of businesses put their hearts and souls into developing some amazing product, and then scratch like heck to get people to pay attention to it.

Wow, that seems like a lot of work. Why not just build the audience first and then develop the product once you truly understand the needs of the audience?

I believe this is the go-to-market strategy for businesses in the future — so much so that my next book is about this exact topic.

Don’t believe me? I’m amazed by the amount of contemporary businesses that have had success with this method; build the audience first and then create the product later.

Your own Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger Media, created content for 19 months without offering a product. Over that time, he worked to build a loyal audience (and succeeded).

Today, Copyblogger Media is one of the fastest growing SaaS (software as a service) companies on the planet.

For me, personally, I launched a blog on April 26, 2007. For 14 months all we did was build an audience. Then, we launched our first product in June of 2008.

Today, the Content Marketing Institute has been named to the Inc. 500 list of fastest growing private companies three years in a row.

Social Media Examiner, Moz, Smosh TV, and Lauren Luke have all done the same; they built multi-million-dollar businesses by doing one simple thing — building an audience. Product development and sales came later.

Rethinking the model

Billy Beane, as General Manager of the Oakland A’s, had none of the resources of a large-market team for putting a championship baseball team together.

But by focusing on a rarely used statistic, the On-Base Percentage (OBP), he restructured his team. That year, Oakland broke the American League record for most consecutive wins (20) with one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball.

Today, the majority of MLB teams leverage the components of Beane’s philosophy.

Paul Westhead, the basketball coach for Loyola Marymount from 1988–1990, threw out the traditional basketball playbook and focused on shooting as many times as humanly possible during a game.

He held the simple belief that having significantly more shooting attempts than the competition would tip the scales in Loyola’s favor.

Over those three years, Loyola led the country in scoring, with an amazing 122.4 points per game in 1990 (the all-time NCAA record).

Better yet, this small program nearly went all the way to the Final Four that year (losing to UNLV).

In 2013, Chip Kelly left college football powerhouse Oregon to coach in the National Football League (NFL) for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kelly espoused the theory that a faster-moving offense, which eliminates the amount of seconds between plays, would create a competitive advantage and keep defenses without the ability to substitute.

Through this philosophy, Kelly turned the Eagles program around, and now, into one of the most successful franchises in football. Kelly’s offensive strategy has redefined the league, with many teams converting to his system.

Why did I just tell you these three stories?

Because each of the three make an incredible amount of sense, but at the time, they were “different” than what others did.

In the future, thousands of businesses from around the globe will leverage the power of building an audience as go-to-market strategy.

Why? Not just because you are first and foremost building a loyal audience directly, but also because having a singular focus on audience gives you the best understanding of the most beneficial products to sell.

Whether you already have a product or are just getting started, here are five steps you need to take now to attract and retain future customers of your product or service.

Step 1. Choose the right content niche

Select a content niche where you have at least a chance of being the leading informational provider in your industry.

Your content should be the very best in your industry — better than all your competitors’ and better than that of the media and publishers in your space.

How can you be the leading, trusted expert in your industry if it is not? The key to that happening is choosing a focused niche where that goal is not out of your reach.

Step 2. Focus all your efforts on building an opt-in email list

Your content should have one call to action, and that is to sign up for your email list. The goal of any content you produce is to get and keep a subscriber.

Remove other calls to action in your content. Fans and followers are great, but you don’t own them.

I can’t remember a time when email marketing has been more critical or important.

Step 3. Produce content consistently

Content delivery on a regular schedule is a promise to your reader. Don’t break your promise.

A blog post should be published at the same time each day or each week, depending on your schedule. Your email newsletter should be sent regularly without fail.

To become the “must see TV” of your industry, your subscribers need to know when to tune in.

Step 4. Add “outcomes” to your editorial calendar

To implement this step, you need to add an extra section to your editorial calendar.

An “outcome” is the problem you solve for the reader, and a central focus for your editorial team.

How are you making your readers’ lives better? If your content doesn’t answer that question, try again.

Step 5. Prepare the three-legged stool model

The greatest media companies in the world don’t only focus on digital content. Look at ESPN, the New York Times, or the Huffington Post.

If you want to become the leading media company in your industry, plan to dominate multiple content channels, including digital, print, and events.

It all begins with the audience

No matter what your ultimate revenue source is, whether you sell advertising, paid content, consulting services, or a manufactured product, you’ll achieve your goals with more ease if you focus your content creation energy on building a loyal audience.

Now is the time.


Want to take your content marketing to the next level?

Joe Pulizzi is among the powerhouse lineup of speakers who will be presenting at Authority Rainmaker May 13–15, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. It’s live content marketing training and networking for real-world results.

Super Early Bird pricing is now in effect, which saves you $500 off the full price. The price goes up on January 16, so don’t wait and pay more.

About the Author: Joe Pulizzi is founder of Content Marketing Institute, which puts on the largest in-person content marketing event in the world: Content Marketing World. You can find Joe on Twitter @JoePulizzi. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange.

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How to Create Simple Drawings to Clarify Your Ideas and Captivate Your Audience http://www.copyblogger.com/simple-captivating-drawings/ http://www.copyblogger.com/simple-captivating-drawings/#respond Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=44765 Struggling to find a stock image for your next blog post? You browse Flickr for ages. You settle on a picture that’s okay. You’d love to hire a professional illustrator, but you don’t have the budget. Not yet. Sometimes you wonder if a better source of images exists. What if you could create your own

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stick figure confused by a stock photo

Struggling to find a stock image for your next blog post?

You browse Flickr for ages. You settle on a picture that’s okay. You’d love to hire a professional illustrator, but you don’t have the budget. Not yet.

Sometimes you wonder if a better source of images exists.

What if you could create your own images to clarify your ideas? What if your custom images could make readers smile and draw them closer to you? Images that make you stand out online?

Sound far-fetched?

Read on and we’ll show you how anyone — even you — can draw images. No art school required. No fancy tools necessary.

First, let’s take a quick look at the benefits of simple images.

Why simple drawings?

images-that-make-you-smile

Photoshopped images make your site look slick.

That’s true.

But do they connect with your readers? Clichéd images make you look like millions of other blogs on the web.

Have you ever arrived at a blog for the first time and wondered if you’d been there before? Generic images trick you into thinking you’ve already been to the website because you’ve seen them before.

Hand-drawn images add a personal touch to your website. They’re unique — crafted to match your content.

Just as your writing voice is one of a kind, your imagery can be unique, too. Just as your voice adds a dash of personality, your images can add an authentic touch.

But drawing your own images produces more value than just personality and branding. These drawings aren’t simply decorations. These images explain the essence of your ideas.

They communicate your message. They captivate your audience. They make your message more memorable.

Research has suggested that:

Research also suggests people read only 28 percent of words on an average web page. And they decide within 10 seconds whether or not to linger around.

Could simple images draw people into reading your content?

Simple images are quick to draw, and you don’t have to buy them. You might even find that readers engage more with hand-drawn images because they are more personal.

As bestselling author, Dan Roam, suggests, the roughness of these simple images makes them more inviting and less intimidating.

Think you can’t draw?

Worried you lack talent?

Everyone can draw. Everyone is an artist.

Didn’t you think you were an artist when you were four years old? Didn’t you enjoy drawing as a kid?

So long as you can draw a stick figure, you’re well on your way to being able to create simple stories that explain your ideas better than any well-crafted words could. ~ Kevin Cheng

Here’s a simple exercise to get you started.

Step 1. Draw a square, a circle, a line, and a triangle:

square-circle-line-triangle

That’s easy, right?

Step 2. Notice how almost any object can be drawn using squares, circles, triangles, and lines. Try drawing a few objects with this method:

drawing-objects-from-simple-shapes

Step 3. Images don’t require any words to transmit ideas. Review these examples:

drawing-ideas-without-words

You see?

You don’t need to draw a masterpiece to communicate your message.

How to translate your ideas into simple drawings

clarifying-ideas

Communicating your ideas with stick figures isn’t about whether or not you have drawing talent. It’s about distilling your idea into a simple drawing. It’s about making abstract statements concrete, so you can communicate your ideas with clarity.

Want to know how?

In his book, The Back of the Napkin, Dan Roam suggests a four-step process for visual thinking.

  1. Look at the material in your blog post.
  2. See which point in your content is most valuable to your reader.
  3. Imagine the best way to convey your message.
  4. Show your message in a simple drawing.

Let’s see how visual thinking works in practice by looking at Henneke’s Copyblogger guest post about 37 email marketing tips.

How could you create a simple drawing by hand to accompany the post? Follow these three steps:

  1. Read the post a few times and consider which of the 37 points you should illustrate.
  2. Note that the key takeaway is to treat people on your email list like friends.
  3. How can you illustrate the idea of treating people like friends? Perhaps people hugging each other, children playing together, a love letter, or …

illustration-for-37-email-marketing-tips

Let’s look at another example. Here’s how we brainstormed the featured illustration at the top of this post:

  1. We outlined the post and wrote it together, covering the reasons why simple images work and tips for creating your own images.
  2. While discussing the post, we found that its essence is the contrast between simple drawings and clichéd stock photos — a drawing is more than a mere decoration; it’s a clarification of your idea.
  3. We then decided to draw a simple stick figure confused by the ubiquitous call center gal.

Here’s a drawing of the process:

image-brainstorming-process

Distilling the essence of your post into simple drawings forces you to focus on your big idea. What do you really want to communicate?

The process makes your content clearer and more persuasive.

How to upload, publish, and share your images

Once you’ve written a post and hand-drawn a few images, what’s the quickest way to upload them to your site? And how do you get your images shared on social media?

Follow these six simple tips:

  1. Use basic tools. The easiest way to publish your images is hand-drawing them on paper, making sure the paper is clean and not crumpled. Scan your drawing or take a picture with your smartphone or tablet.
  2. Add text. Raw handwriting works, but if you’d like the text you add to your images to appear in a polished font, you can use a free editor like the one you’ll find on Pixlr.com.
  3. Re-size appropriately. Keep in mind that large images increase loading time. When re-sizing your image, be careful not to change your drawing’s proportions because your image will look squashed or stretched.
  4. Make your pictures the same dimensions. For a consistent look, you can crop your drawings with free photo editing tools to remove excess white areas.
  5. Prepare image ratios for social media. The recommended image ratio is different for each social media channel. Use metadata to properly display different images on different channels. Or find the optimum size that works on the most popular channels.
  6. Optimize for search engines. Use descriptive title and alt tags so that search engines recognize your images. Keep in mind that alt tags are also used by screen readers for visually impaired people.

Visual content encourages social shares. Buffer found, for instance, that tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets.

Stop worrying about perfection

You don’t need to be the next Picasso to draw an image to communicate your ideas.

A clean sheet of paper. A pencil or a pen. And a scanner or your smartphone camera. That’s all you need for simple drawings that clarify your ideas and captivate your audience.

You’ll be amazed by your readers’ reactions. They’ll “get” your ideas at a glance. Even days later, your latest drawing keeps popping up in their minds, reminding them about your blog post, your idea, or your advice.

memorable-images

Readers will feel closer to you because your drawings humanize you and display a sense of fun.

Sound good?

Start scribbling. Let your inner child play. Have fun.

And let us know over on LinkedIn ways you’ll be able to clarify your ideas with simple, captivating drawings.

About the Author: Mike Davenport helps people become the superhero they have been waiting for through simple images and sport coaching. See more of his drawings here.

Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent marketer and writing coach on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook. Get her free snackable writing course for busy people and learn how to write more seductive content.

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Seth Godin on Stepping Up and Making it Happen http://www.copyblogger.com/seth-godin-interview/ http://www.copyblogger.com/seth-godin-interview/#respond Tue, 16 Dec 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=46099 Seth Godin is the author of 17 bestselling books. He’s the founder of email marketing pioneer Yoyodyne, and the charity-driven publishing platform Squidoo. And he’s the selfless dispenser of daily wisdom via the most popular marketing blog on the planet. But if you had to sum Seth up in one word, it might well be

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Seth Godin is the author of 17 bestselling books. He’s the founder of email marketing pioneer Yoyodyne, and the charity-driven publishing platform Squidoo. And he’s the selfless dispenser of daily wisdom via the most popular marketing blog on the planet.

But if you had to sum Seth up in one word, it might well be impresario.

The classical definition of that word refers to a promoter, manager, or conductor of an opera or concert company.

The modern definition, set forth by Seth himself when he’s teaching others about the prime entrepreneurial role of the connection economy, is as follows:

One who gathers others together for creating art–the art of making a ruckus; the art of inventing the future; the art of important work.

Whether bootstrapping a startup by building an audience first, curating content to create something vibrant and new, or assembling a tribe that changes the world, it’s the modern impresarios who best take advantage of the power of the Internet to turn intangible ideas into real things that really matter. Things that change lives.

In this 30-minute episode Seth Godin and I discuss:

  • How he sold 40,000 copies of his self-published book (so far)
  • Seth’s early failure, and what he learned from it
  • His training for the post-industrial “connection economy”
  • The kind of business that we’re all in now
  • Why it’s worthwhile to embrace the impresario concept
  • How to waste your life, one simple step at a time
  • If Seth’s decision to stop publishing traditionally was worth it
  • Why every bestseller is a surprise bestseller
  • The biggest challenge in producing his latest book
  • The future direction of education

Click Here to Listen to Rainmaker.FM Episode No. 22

Or, grab it in iTunes.

Image by Amanda Sandlin

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Adaptive Content: A Trend to Pay Attention to in 2015 http://www.copyblogger.com/lede-adaptive-content/ http://www.copyblogger.com/lede-adaptive-content/#respond Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=44293 Each new year seems to bring with it a new buzz term or two describing a concept that will change how we reach an audience, or how we build and grow a business. Some of these buzz terms pan out and become legitimate, long-term parts of the lexicon because they work and prove important. Others

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The Lede Podcast logo

Each new year seems to bring with it a new buzz term or two describing a concept that will change how we reach an audience, or how we build and grow a business.

Some of these buzz terms pan out and become legitimate, long-term parts of the lexicon because they work and prove important. Others flash then fade like the pet rock.

So the question now as we look ahead to 2015 is what buzz concept should you be paying attention to?

Because if there is a concept that is starting to pick up steam, and will prove worthy, you’re going to want to get in on it at the ground floor.

Well guess what? There is.

It’s going to be a big focus for us at Copyblogger in 2015, and we think it’s something that you should start thinking about, too.

In this episode, Demian Farnworth and I discuss:

  • What is adaptive content?
  • Two examples of opportunities to create adaptive content
  • Using experience maps to create individualized paths for your customers
  • How to overcome the challenges of creating adaptive content
  • Finding the right technology to implement adaptive content

Listen to The Lede …

To listen, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

React to The Lede …

As always, we appreciate your reaction to episodes of The Lede and feedback about how we’re doing.

Send us a tweet with your thoughts anytime: @JerodMorris and @DemianFarnworth.

And please tell us the most important point you took away from this latest episode. Do so by joining the discussion over on LinkedIn.

The Show Notes

The Transcript

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

The Lede Podcast — Adaptive Content: A Trend to Pay Attention to in 2015

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media. I’m your host, Jerod Morris.

This episode of The Lede is brought to you by Authority Rainmaker, Copyblogger’s second annual live conference focused on providing content marketing training and networking opportunities for real-world results.

Authority Rainmaker takes place in May 2015 and will be held at the stunning Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver, Colorado.

Keynote presentations will be delivered by Daniel Pink, Sally Hogshead, and Henry Rollins. Yes, I said Henry Rollins. You won’t want to miss it.

Super early bird pricing is still available. Go to AuthorityRainmaker.com for details.

For those of us who work online, each new year seems to bring with it a new buzz term or two describing a concept that will, supposedly, change how we do our jobs. How we reach an audience. How we build and grow a business.

Think back: Search engine optimization, SEO, was once a buzz term.

It described an innovative method for leveraging a growing understanding of search engine algorithms into a search-focused content strategy that would rank your site higher, send more visitors, and make all of your wildest dreams come true.

SEO certainly delivered on the buzz.

Now it’s a mature concept, and though a successful SEO strategy means something vastly different from what it meant back then, the concept itself is still very relevant.

Needless to say, if you were in early on SEO, way back when it was just a baby buzz term, you probably carved out a sizable, profitable online niche for yourself.

Mobile responsive design is another example. That has been a big buzz term over the past few years, and it helped usher in a revolution in how web pages are designed.

Now mobile responsiveness isn’t just nice to have, it’s a prerequisite. But other buzz terms don’t always deliver on their promise.

If you listened to the last episode of The Lede, you heard our discussion on Google Authorship. Getting in early on that buzz term was a smart bet, but unfortunately, it isn’t paying you much of a dividend today.

So the question now as we look ahead to 2015 is what buzz concept should you be paying attention to?

Because if there is a concept that is starting to pick up steam, and that could revolutionize online business like SEO did, you’re going to want to get in on it at the ground floor.

Guess what? There is.

It’s going to be a big focus for us at Copyblogger in 2015, and we think it’s something that you should start thinking about, too.

I’m referring to adaptive content, and it is the subject of today’s episode of The Lede. Let’s bring in my co-host, Demian Farnworth, to learn more.

Demian, to begin, let’s just provide a working definition of adaptive content so that all of the listeners are on the same page with us.

What is adaptive content? What does that mean?

What is adaptive content?

Demian Farnworth: That’s a great question because I don’t know if I entirely know for certain what it is.

It’s not a concrete term, that’s for sure. There are a lot of working definitions, so there’s kind of a spectrum.

I think it was Garrett Moon from CoSchedule who talked about adaptive content as this idea of creating once, then publishing everywhere, which is actually the policy that NPR had with all their content.

You create once, and then you reduce, re-use, and recycle.

This is a concept that we’ve used here at Copyblogger, and we’ve talked about this before with the asset pillar, especially with infographics.

You create one piece of content, and then build something new out of that instead of always re-inventing the wheel.

That idea of adaptive content is helpful, but there are other interpretations. Adaptive content in the design world can be thought of as adaptive design.

I’m going all over this research, and I’m reading all these articles on adaptive content, and what I keep on hearing is personalization. That’s what it reminds me of.

But it’s actually taking that a little bit further. But we’ve seen this before, right? You get an email from a marketer, and your first or last name is on there, or maybe they know something about your address or your buying habits — that’s personalization.

Amazon’s recommendation engine is personalization.

It’s all rule-based, right? It’s all based upon this figuring out: Okay, if he does X, then Y, then we think he’ll appreciate Z. All we’re trying to do — search engines, marketers — is guess the intent of it.

That rule-base is very primitive, and it’s very wooden, and personalization — adaptive content — is this concept of crafting an experience that is tailored to that user’s, that customer’s experience, behavior, and desires.

It’s sort of like everything that we’ve been studying — experience maps, empathy maps — and what we’ve been saying for so long about creating an experience.

We deliver content to them based upon who they are, their behaviors. I’ve got two examples for you.

Two examples of opportunities to create adaptive content

First, for example, buying an airline ticket.

On LinkedIn, Mars Cyrillo, a product and marketing VP, said a lot of times when we buy an airline ticket, we’ll go onto American Airlines’s website, find the ticket, and then we might shoot over to Expedia to actually buy the ticket.

Well, adaptive content would be American Airlines recognizing that people do that, and then delivering some sort of incentive or content that would keep visitors on their site.

Another great example was by Noz Urbina on Content Marketing Institute where he wrote about a wine-tasting adventure with his partner.

They actually had tablets at the table, but he said they missed a great opportunity because an adaptive content experience would have easily allowed you to check in through social media, which a lot of us do. A lot of companies do that.

But then for this wine tasting, what they should have done was display a personal welcome screen on the tablet that they gave, and allowed people to add items to the shopping cart that would then add to their final bill so that when they went to the cash register, they paid for what they drank there.

What it comes down to is this merging of the offline and online world.

Jerod: If we look at this in terms of the opportunity that it presents for marketers: When you think about marketing, if we have the opportunity to speak directly to every single person in our market — to talk with them, to learn about them, to build kind of that individualized sales pitch — think about how powerful that would be.

Demian: Right.

Jerod: Well, obviously online we can’t necessarily do that, right?

We create content. We put it out there, and you try to understand your audience in a macro sense so that the content that you’re creating will fit macro needs and macro desires as much as possible.

But tell me if this is on the right track: Adaptive content would almost allow you to have that personal experience, talk to one person through content online that adapts based on who they are, what device they’re viewing it from, what they’ve done in the past, and what you know about them.

It serves up almost a customized experience for them that is different from what another person gets. Each experience is individualized to have maximum impact.

Is that the big idea or ultimate goal with it?

Using experience maps to create individualized paths for your customer

Demian: I think that’s the place that we’d all like to be in — that place where, like you said, it’s one-on-one marketing.

I’ve been in this business for more than 15 years, and I’ve heard this. This is what we want, and this is the best place to be in because when you do that customers appreciate it.

Here’s the thing, too, you’ve got to keep in mind. All of our expectations have been raised because of technology.

We all use our phones when we’re shopping. We use them when we’re inside brick-and-mortars. We think — when we’re in an environment — wouldn’t it be great if they did this? If I use my phone, wouldn’t it be great if I could do that?

Or, I have this tablet now, wouldn’t it be great if I could do that? And that’s what we’re trying to get to, like you said.

It’s this very individual, customized experience. What we’re actually trying to do is guess the intent of the customer’s behavior.

It comes back to crawling inside the mind of the customer and figuring out who they are.

Jerod: So as another example, let’s say someone has an email marketing program that they’re doing, right?

They have a set of autoresponders. And so you send out one autoresponder. A person clicks on a link, and maybe the next link he’s sent is different based on the fact that he clicked a certain link.

Someone who didn’t click on the link in that first autoresponder, because he may not be interested in it, he then gets a different experience each step of the way.

It’s almost like choosing your own adventure, right?

Demian: Exactly.

Jerod: If you make a choice on this …

Demian: Right.

How to overcome the challenges of creating adaptive content

Jerod: Let me ask you this, then, because it all sounds perfect. If we could do that, the possibilities there are obvious.

So, what are the challenges to making this readily adoptable?

Demian: That’s a great question. The disadvantage of this is that the technology is not really there. It’s there, but you have to piece things together, and it’s kind of clunky.

When I say the technology’s not there, I mean it’s not easy to do. You have to figure these things out.

That disadvantage, though, is the perfect opportunity for companies to say, “How can we make software solutions to make adaptive content easier?”

This is what we talked about with the experience map. Imagine really creating the experience map so you understand the customer experience.

But really what you’re after is that prescriptive map, right? The way things should be. The superior experience. And so create that.

That’s when you say, “Okay, so how do we get there? What kind of technology do we need to build in order to get to that place?”

Of course, the other disadvantage is the resources to create the content. Because you and I talk about this.

We have all these emails, and if we have six avatars, that means we have six different paths, and each of those paths break off two, or three, or four different times. We’ve got a lot of content to create, then.

Those two aspects are challenges: having the technology and then actually creating the content.

Finding the right technology to implement adaptive content

Jerod: That technology part is going to be a huge barrier for you or I on our personal sites.

It would be very hard for us to develop that kind of infrastructure to build out the adaptive content. So, I think that’s going to be a big opportunity in 2015.

Also what people need to look for is the right technology solution for your content marketing program that will allow you to do that — a solution that has some of this adaptive content infrastructure built into it.

We’re starting to hear this term more — a lot more people are taking about it. I think you will start to see that.

You see that with podcasting, right? The barriers for entry to podcasting were a lot more difficult because it was expensive. There were technology hurdles.

Demian: Right.

Jerod: Take the Rainmaker Platform, for example. One of the goals of Rainmaker is to help make that technology part of podcasting much easier — so you can just get in and focus on your content.

People who are really interested in this want to look for a solution that is going to help you jump over those hurdles, or even remove those hurdles for you, so that you can focus on the content part of it.

Demian: Exactly. I was thinking about this — what we’re after.

If you know that when a customer searches for X, they end up on Y, then Z is the adaptive content. And it’s the incentive.

For example, we know that on average people go to the StudioPress one-on-one tutorial page seven times before they buy.

Adaptive content would track that user, count their visits, and on the fourth visit, adapt content to help them make the decision to buy.

You think, is there a way we can shorten the sales cycle? Because as I was thinking through this, a lot of this talk about adaptive content has been in the brick-and-mortar sphere, merging offline and online.

What I’m having a hard time seeing, part of my challenge, and our challenge for 2015, is to see how this works in the online, SaaS — software as a service — market.

How does that work in this environment? How do you use technology to make that experience very individual and tailored to that particular person?

We’ll be talking a lot about this in 2015 — these questions and challenges that we see and how we can overcome them.

Jerod: We will. The purpose of this podcast — looking ahead to 2015 — has introduced the term adaptive content and given an overview, but you will start to see us speak about it a lot more, both on copyblogger.com and newrainmaker.com.

But with that, Demian, we face the reality that this is actually our last show of 2014. We won’t have the show two Tuesdays from now.

We’ll actually have our best of Copyblogger 2014 post up, so that’s a great place to go and catch up on anything that you may have missed this year.

Do you have any closing words for the listeners as we close out a successful year?

Demian: Yes. I would say enjoy the holidays, and thank you so much for listening.

We appreciate every single one of you, and we appreciate your comments and your feedback, and thank you for allowing us to do this.

Jerod: Yes. I absolutely agree. Thank you, everyone who has listened to, subscribed to, and shared The Lede.

Really, your support is what makes this show so much fun to produce. We’re definitely looking forward to bringing you even better content in 2015.

So stay tuned, because we’ll have a lot more fun, entertaining, engaging, informative, and hopefully actionable episodes on the way.

But until then, as you said, Demian, we wish everyone a happy holiday season, and let’s get ready to make 2015 our best year yet.

Demian: Sounds good. Thank you.

Jerod: Thank you for listening to this episode of The Lede.

If you enjoyed this episode, and if you’ve enjoyed The Lede in 2014, please consider giving the show a rating or a review over on iTunes.

And don’t forget, go to AuthorityRainmaker.com for all the details about Authority Rainmaker, our live event coming up in May of 2015.

You can still get the early-bird pricing, so don’t procrastinate.

So many people who went to last year’s event have already registered for this year’s because they know how fun, educational, and transformational this event can be.

Come join us. And as a side benefit, you can quiz Demian on his pop culture knowledge in person.

We’ll be back in 2015 with new episodes. Until then, have a safe holiday season and a happy time ringing in the new year. Talk to you soon, everybody.

*Credits: Both the intro (“Bridge to Nowhere” by Sam Roberts Band) and outro songs (“Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart) are graciously provided by express written consent from the rights owners.

About the author

Jerod Morris


Jerod Morris is the VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter or . Have you gotten your wristband yet?

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Take Your Content Marketing to the Next Level at Authority Rainmaker (And Save) http://www.copyblogger.com/authority-rainmaker-pricing/ http://www.copyblogger.com/authority-rainmaker-pricing/#respond Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45901 The “what” and “why” phases of the content marketing revolution are over. To effectively gain and maintain your competitive advantage, you need a clear and concise strategy with the exact tactics to effectively execute. More than that, you need the best talent you can get. You’re tasked with finding and assessing the right strategic partners,

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The “what” and “why” phases of the content marketing revolution are over. To effectively gain and maintain your competitive advantage, you need a clear and concise strategy with the exact tactics to effectively execute.

More than that, you need the best talent you can get. You’re tasked with finding and assessing the right strategic partners, content production pros, and technical resources to optimize the audience experience that builds your business.

Enter Authority Rainmaker. Happening again this year in Denver, Colorado, it’s live content marketing training and networking for real-world results.

There’s an amazing lineup of keynote speakers and presentations from industry experts. There’s a stunning venue. There are parties and networking opportunities galore.

Super Early Bird pricing is now in effect, which saves you $500 off full price. The price goes up on January 15, so don’t wait and pay more.

Give yourself an early holiday gift that pays you back for the rest of your career. Join us May 13-15, 2015 in sunny Denver, Colorado for Authority Rainmaker.

Get all the details here.

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Michael Hyatt on Building a Media Platform and Becoming a 10-Year Overnight Success http://www.copyblogger.com/michael-hyatt-interview/ http://www.copyblogger.com/michael-hyatt-interview/#respond Thu, 11 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=46004 Michael Hyatt is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. In fact, Hyatt has been involved in the traditional publishing business his entire working life. Not the typical profile of a do-it-yourself blogger, right? And yet, in 2012 when Thomas Nelson was acquired

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Michael Hyatt is the former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. In fact, Hyatt has been involved in the traditional publishing business his entire working life.

Not the typical profile of a do-it-yourself blogger, right?

And yet, in 2012 when Thomas Nelson was acquired by HarperCollins and Michael left his executive role, it was his 8-year-old blog that opened the door to an exciting and vibrant new chapter of his life. A blog that he toiled over in frustrating obscurity for many of those foundational years.

It was the blog that provided the launch pad for his New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. And it was the book that opened the door to his membership program Platform University. Seems like we can learn a few things from this guy about building our own online marketing and sales platforms.

In this 31-minute episode Michael Hyatt and I discuss:

  • His path from traditional publishing to independent media
  • The rough start as a blogger, and what skyrocketed his traffic
  • The dirty little secret of productivity
  • His realization about the power of online publishing
  • What you need in addition to world-class content
  • The critical importance of owning your digital platform
  • The compelling nature of audio vs. text content
  • The interesting way he produces his very popular podcast
  • Almost every author’s epic missed revenue opportunity

Click Here to Listen to Rainmaker FM Episode No. 21

Or, grab it in iTunes.

Image by Jonas Nilsson Lee

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Why Shark Tank is Terrible for Your Business http://www.copyblogger.com/hate-shark-tank/ http://www.copyblogger.com/hate-shark-tank/#respond Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=44722 Maybe they’ll take away my Entrepreneur’s Secret Hat and Decoder Ring for saying this, but I hate Shark Tank. My husband and son like it, and every time it comes on, my teeth start to grind and my eye does that little twitchy thing. I’m not saying the investors don’t give some decent advice. They

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Maybe they’ll take away my Entrepreneur’s Secret Hat and Decoder Ring for saying this, but I hate Shark Tank.

My husband and son like it, and every time it comes on, my teeth start to grind and my eye does that little twitchy thing.

I’m not saying the investors don’t give some decent advice. They do. And most of the Sharks seem like reasonable people. (With Kevin O’Leary doing his duty as designated villain, obligatory on most reality shows.)

But the core premise of Shark Tank — I hate it. I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s dangerous, and I think it hurts business owners.

Here’s why.

The fundamental premise of Shark Tank is that people who have had big wins in business will automatically know more about your business than you do.

And underneath that is the part I really hate — the idea that some of us just have that “entrepreneurial gene,” and some don’t.

The Sharks have had some significant wins, so they’re “smart.” And as a small business owner? You’re just some fool who’s naive enough to think you can make a go of it on your own.

And so contestants audition for the right to go begging, hat in hand, to a handful of appointed gurus who might deign to take a large chunk of their business in exchange for a small amount of money. If they’re very very lucky.

Feh.

Owning a business is something normal people do

You don’t have to have some kind of special gene or supernatural ability to start and run a successful business.

You don’t need to be part of some anointed class. You don’t need rare connections or even some kind of super secret knowledge.

(And of course, those of us who do business online have some nice advantages in terms of costs, complexity, and scalability — which makes running a successful business even more doable.)

The traits you need to be a successful business owner aren’t the kind you read about in glossy business magazines, or their blogs.

The biggest trait you need is plenty of is stubbornness, but that can be boosted with the right support and encouragement. And it’s best when it’s paired with a solid ability to look realistically at the situation in front of you, and figure out the wisest next steps. (The right support can be useful there as well.)

I have known incredibly successful entrepreneurs who can barely tie their shoes. (No, not the crew I work with now, this group are all pretty awesome.) :)

But they knew their business. And they knew what it took to be successful. On balance, moments of entrepreneurial delusion notwithstanding, they understood their audience of customers and what that audience needed.

Once you have that, everything else is just a matter of hanging in there and figuring stuff out.  

The delusion filter

As always on “reality” television, a big part of the entertainment value comes from feeling superior to the deluded contestants.

Entrepreneurial is, after all, something of a synonym for “unemployable.”

But you don’t need a Shark Tank to find your blind spots.

The litmus test between delusion and confidence is your audience. If they’re following, sharing, and connecting with your content, you’re on to something. If they’re paying attention to you and they actually buy something, that’s your green light. Move forward with confidence.

For example, on the show Kevin rolled his eyes at brother and sister founders of Pipcorn for selling their specialty popcorn at $5 a bag, when regular old popcorn is maybe $1.50 a bag.

Apparently he’s never been inside a Whole Foods. Where Pipcorn was, in fact, already selling plenty of bags of their fancy popcorn. You know, on that aisle in Whole Foods where all the $5 popcorn is.

The most brilliant investor isn’t as smart as your audience about what’s going to make your business work.

Protect your confidence

I heard a piece of advice last year that blew me away. It comes from business coach Dan Sullivan, and it’s this: The first duty of every entrepreneur is to protect your confidence.

That, I believe, is where that “mindful stubbornness” comes from.

When you’re in negotiations with someone you shouldn’t be working with, that person may “neg” you — put you and your company down in order to make themselves seem like someone you need. It’s a technique used by the creepy “Pick Up Artist” community, and it’s also used by unethical marketers. (“Buy my product and maybe your friends won’t hate you so much!”)

Investors are not necessarily smarter than you are about your audience and customers. And thinking that they are can destroy a great little business. I’ve seen it happen first-hand more than once, and it makes me angry when it does.

Protect your confidence. And if a potential partner “negs” you, it’s an unmistakeable sign that you need to go the other direction. The negativity will corrode your business faster than any cash infusion can build it. Don’t look back.

Partners are amazing — when they’re really partners

Some of them want to use you.
Some of them want to be used by you.
Some of them want to abuse you.
Some of them want to be abused.

In the immortal words of Annie Lennox, everybody’s looking for something.

In the Shark Tank universe, the contestant “wins” if they get a deal, and “loses” if they don’t.

But “failed” contestant Julie Busha of Slawsa saw through this, and wrote about it on her blog:

They like to invest in businesses where they can give added value (Daymond wants to plug something into his overseas manufacturing pipeline, Lori wants to get an item on QVC, Mark & Robert want tech…and of course, Kevin wants a royalty). ~ Slawsa on Shark Tank

By Busha’s own analysis, if she’d made a deal, she would have “won” the game — but at a grave cost. She would have given away part of her business to a partner who didn’t really have anything to add.

(This is the part where I tip my hat to the integrity of the Sharks for not making a deal where they didn’t add value — even though they thought the product was excellent and were complimentary of Busha’s business skills.)

If you don’t have what your partner wants, there’s no deal to be made. Don’t obsess. Move on and find a better fit.

Try not to squander your energy or confidence thinking about a business partner, promotion partner, or customer who “just isn’t that into you.” 

The way that Shark Tank is amazing for their contestants

I said above that Julie Busha didn’t “win” the show, but of course she did.

She was asking for $150,000, which she didn’t get. She did, however, get eight minutes on prime-time television on a popular show — and in the form of content, not advertising, so viewers were actually paying close attention.

She gave up no equity in her business, but received millions of dollars’ worth of advertising. Or more to the point, content, which, as we know, works a whole lot better than advertising.

So as an advertising and promotion vehicle for small business, I guess I don’t hate Shark Tank after all. In fact, I see an awful lot of the “failed” company products on the shelves of my local stores. And I notice them, because they had an eight-minute pitch to show me exactly why they were cool.

But I still don’t want you listening to anything Kevin O’Leary has to say. That guy doesn’t know beans about your business.

What do you think? Join the discussion here in our LinkedIn discussion group.

About the author

Sonia Simone


Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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10 Essential Tips for Creating Mobile-Friendly Emails http://www.copyblogger.com/mobile-friendly-emails/ http://www.copyblogger.com/mobile-friendly-emails/#respond Tue, 09 Dec 2014 19:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=44005 Each time you send an email, you should be aware that a huge portion of your subscribers are going to open your message on their phones or tablets — not on their desktop computers or laptops. It seems that every other week a new study cites an overwhelming number of people who read emails on their

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three people, each holding and looking down at a different mobile device

Each time you send an email, you should be aware that a huge portion of your subscribers are going to open your message on their phones or tablets — not on their desktop computers or laptops.

It seems that every other week a new study cites an overwhelming number of people who read emails on their mobile devices — 51 percent according to Litmus66 percent according to Movable Ink.

The numbers vary, but the savvy content marketer knows that overlooking mobile-friendly emails is a big mistake.

Your job is to not only get your emails opened and read, but also to make your customers’ experiences just as strong as if the messages were opened on laptops or desktops.

Do you know how to make that happen?

A mobile responsive website design displays your content properly no matter how someone views your website, and you can ensure that the emails you send look great as well, whether or not you have a mobile-responsive email template.

Here are 10 essential tips for transforming your message into a mobile-friendly email.

1. Compose short subject lines

The amount of space mobile devices provide for displaying subject lines can make even the most succinct writer cry herself to sleep.

Even though some email clients will display your entire subject line text, many do not.

And since your subject line in an email is akin to your headline, you don’t want to cut it off and miss an opportunity to connect with your reader.

The solution is to either keep your subject line short — 40 characters or less is a good rule of thumb — or position the most important phrase of your subject line in the first 40 characters to maximize your chances of readers seeing it.

2. Use a single-column template

On a mobile-device screen, multiple columns typically appear condensed and confusing to navigate.

A single column makes your email cross-device compatible and straightforward even when it’s viewed with different email clients.

Single columns can also simplify your design and spotlight your important content.

3. Keep your email under 600 pixels wide

While most modern mobile devices can handle responsive designs, there are exceptions.

When your email width is 600 pixels or less, users won’t have problems viewing emails that were formatted for large computer screens.

Set a width attribute in your email template’s table tag to 600 pixels or use the CSS width property to make this adjustment.

4. Use a large font size

Since a 10-pixel font is difficult to read on a desktop computer screen, and small screens make small fonts even smaller, most people will delete your email before they’ll squint and strain their eyes in order to read your tiny text.

A font size of 13 or 14 pixels makes your email substantially more readable on a small screen.

But don’t be afraid to go even larger than that. Large fonts make your emails easier to read on both desktops and mobile devices.

5. Display small images

Smaller images reduce load times and bandwidth. Many mobile users still use 3G or slower, connections, so the speed at which images load is vital.

If you have technical chops, or know someone who can help you, use responsive-coding techniques to load smaller images on mobile devices and larger ones on other devices.

Another option is to shrink an image by 50 percent and compress it at a slightly higher compression rate than normal to both load your images faster and conserve your user’s bandwidth.

6. Provide a distinct call to action

A call to action should prompt your email recipient to do something. Generally, that “something” is tapping (or clicking) a button that further leads him down the path you want him to take.

Your call to action needs to be large enough for him to easily and effectively do this on a mobile-device screen.

Fingers are not nearly as exact as mouse pointers, and while mobile manufacturers have created devices that accurately respond to your actions, they’re not perfect.

If your reader has to tap more than once to continue interacting with your content, then there’s a chance he won’t bother.

Display a compelling call to action that is at least a 40 pixels square — and preferably larger than that — to keep the reader engaged with your email.

7. Don’t make your call to action an image

Some email clients only display images from verified sending addresses. So if you use an image for your call to action and your recipient’s email client doesn’t have images enabled for your sending address, she will not see it.

After all the work you put into crafting your emails, it’s a bummer to miss an opportunity to get your reader to take action.

But the trouble is that when recipients do view images, they often improve click-through rates.

If you decide to use an image for your call to action, make sure the image has a descriptive ALT tag that matches the text that appears in the image, such as “click here.”

That way, even if the image isn’t shown, the message in your ALT text will still appear.

8. Avoid menu bars

As I mentioned above, since fingers are not precision instruments, tiny menu and navigation bars are frustrating to use.

I recommend avoiding them completely. It’s an email, not a website, so you don’t need a traditional menu or navigation bar.

With emails, stick to the basic building blocks of the web: links and images.

9. Don’t stack links

Stacked links cause the same problems as other tiny forms of navigation. Here’s an example of stacked links:

Google
Yahoo
Bing

If you imagine stacked links within a paragraph, you can see how easy it would be to accidentally click the wrong link.

Also, when two words are right on top of each other, you may mistakenly link the two words to the same destination rather than assigning a distinct link to each word.

Including multiple links in an email is fine, but be sure to look at a preview of the email and separate links with other text, images, or whitespace as needed.

10. Test on multiple devices

Don’t worry; you don’t need to buy a dozen mobile phones to properly test your emails. 

Litmus has a paid service that runs comprehensive tests on more than 30 email clients. They offer a free seven-day trial to get you started.

To run a test, you simply provide your email message’s HTML. Litmus then opens your email message in multiple clients, snaps screenshots of each, and sends you an email with the results. The test usually takes just a few minutes.

A quick scan through the results will alert you to any visual problems that may occur on different devices.

The reader’s experience is your first priority

Think about your own experience when you encounter an email that doesn’t display properly on your mobile device.

Even if it’s from a source that interests you, you may not want to spend extra time deciphering the message.

And if you can’t see the action the sender wants you to take, you certainly won’t take it.

Instead of putting your reader in this undesirable scenario, you can easily create mobile-friendly emails that display properly on any device.

What special steps do you take to produce an optimal mobile-viewing experience for your email readers?

Let us know over on LinkedIn

Editor’s note: If you found this post useful, we suggest you also read 37 Tips for Writing Emails That Get Opened, Read, and Clicked by Henneke Duistermaat.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Karen.

About the Author: Rob Walling is the founder of the lightweight email and marketing automation software Drip. You can keep up with his startup exploits on Twitter at @robwalling.

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David Siteman Garland on the Infinite Scalability of Online Courses http://www.copyblogger.com/david-siteman-garland-interview/ http://www.copyblogger.com/david-siteman-garland-interview/#respond Tue, 09 Dec 2014 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=46003 It’s the ultimate Internet dream: create something once that sells over and over again, even while you sleep. And what better product than information itself? Turns out, it’s not that easy for the idle dreamer. And often, Internet entrepreneurs work 16-hour days in order to “make money while they sleep.” The good news is that

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It’s the ultimate Internet dream: create something once that sells over and over again, even while you sleep. And what better product than information itself?

Turns out, it’s not that easy for the idle dreamer. And often, Internet entrepreneurs work 16-hour days in order to “make money while they sleep.”

The good news is that the dream has shifted. Instead of hucksters offering “no work Internet cash machine” models to gullible business opportunity types, the concept of an “online business” has become a viable thing that experienced professionals and committed entrepreneurs explore and attain as part of the legitimate business world.

David Siteman Garland discovered this for himself thanks to his popular podcast, The Rise to the Top. He was constantly asked by his audience for the secret to creating a popular and profitable show, and David’s answer was always the same — it’s the art of the interview. So he created a course on the topic, and the rest (including his podcast!) is history.

In this 35-minute episode David Siteman Garland and I discuss:

  • His non-entrepreneurial path to online business
  • How he decided to build The Rise to The Top
  • The continuing rise of the mediapreneur
  • Why you don’t need to produce new content forever
  • Why he quit his incredibly popular podcast
  • The power of the podcast interview format
  • The infinite scalability of online courses
  • His very best advice on creating an awesome interview
  • How to start developing your own online courses

Click Here to Listen to Rainmaker FM Episode No. 20

Or, grab it in iTunes.

Image by Tim Mossholder

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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A Preview of Rainmaker Professional (And How to Lock in a Steal of a Deal) http://www.copyblogger.com/try-rainmaker/ http://www.copyblogger.com/try-rainmaker/#respond Mon, 08 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45878 In case you missed it, back in September we introduced Rainmaker, the complete website solution for building your online marketing and sales platform. With Rainmaker, you can: Create powerful content-driven websites on your own domains. Build membership sites and online training courses. Sell digital products like software, ebooks, and more. Perform sophisticated online lead generation.

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In case you missed it, back in September we introduced Rainmaker, the complete website solution for building your online marketing and sales platform. With Rainmaker, you can:

  • Create powerful content-driven websites on your own domains.
  • Build membership sites and online training courses.
  • Sell digital products like software, ebooks, and more.
  • Perform sophisticated online lead generation.
  • Optimize your content for search engines and social networks.
  • Absorb cutting-edge tactics and strategy with included training.
  • Avoid a patchwork of plugins, themes, and complicated code.
  • Forget about upgrades, maintenance, security, and hosting headaches.
  • Take your content and domain to WordPress at any time you choose.

If you didn’t miss it, but have been holding back on getting started, this may be the perfect time to get rolling.

Coming Soon: Rainmaker Professional Plan

Currently, Rainmaker is available as a single version, which we call the Standard Plan. It’s pretty powerful in what it can do, and more importantly, what it can take off your plate so you can concentrate on content.

By the end of March 2015, however, there will be a more advanced plan available called Rainmaker Professional. As you might expect, it will have powerful additional features that will carry a higher price tag.

Here’s what’s coming in Rainmaker Professional:

Advanced Reporting and Analytics

The way you see your business growing and changing each day will become even more useful in the near future. The Rainmaker Platform’s analytics and reporting functions will evolve with more advanced reporting options for those who want them.

You’ll be able to drill down into the stats that you really want to see, and slice and dice your preferences from within the dashboard itself. That means creating simple, at-a-glance views of the specific metrics you want (such as demographics, or specific segments of your customers and prospects).

This is exciting stuff, because you’d normally need a third-party tool to accomplish what we’re planning for analytics. For those who sign up this week, however, it comes standard with Rainmaker.

And yes, podcasting stats are on the way. Soon, you’ll be able to see how your podcast is performing, without the hassle of separate hosting and stats packages. We’ve got a few more ideas on the near horizon for Rainmaker Podcasting that we’re not quite ready to talk about (but you’ll get upgraded to). Just remember, we’re podcasters too, so you can bet we’re motivated to make this the best and easiest podcasting solution on the planet for entrepreneurs.

More Designs and Landing Page Templates

You may have noticed that there’s been a slight change in how we’re developing design themes lately. We call it the “Rainmaker First” philosophy.

Brian Gardner, Rafal Tomal, and Lauren Mancke are always hard at work designing and developing new themes and landing page templates, but now our (and their) focus has shifted to supplying our Rainmaker Platform customers with the best one-click web design in the world.

As of this week there are 29 design themes and 15 landing page templates (not including the custom landing page builder) available to Rainmaker customers, and there are many more on the way.

And no, this does not mean we are neglecting our beloved StudioPress customers. In fact, this philosophy will end up benefitting everyone in the end. As these Rainmaker designs are tested and used in real-world online business situations, they’ll only get better.

Social Media Posting and Scheduling

This is a big one, and a no-brainer. Very soon, Rainmaker customers will be able to — from within the Rainmaker dashboard — post and schedule updates, links, photos, and other content to their social networks.

Your Rainmaker site is the home base of your business, and the importance of using social networks to attract an audience and send them back to your home base is undeniable. We think social media posting and scheduling tools have become a necessity for the savvy online publisher, but they should be integrated into your website platform with your daily workflow.

Integrated RSS Reader

So, the ability to post and schedule social media updates from your Rainmaker dashboard will be cool, but how do you find intriguing content from other sources to share with your audience? And how do you manage the very real potential for information overload?

That tool used to be Google Reader (RIP), but now, for our customers, it will be the Rainmaker Reader. This coming integrated RSS reader will be the place you’ll be able to strategically track your industry feeds, find great content to share, and glean inspiration for producing your own content.

Curation-to-Content Tools

Want to easily manage and publish a curated topical newsletter? Want that link from your RSS reader dropped into an existing post? How about effortlessly sending it out to your social media accounts?

The Rainmaker Curator will — with the click of a button — allow you to easily port the great content you find via RSS directly into a new or existing article you’re writing for your own audience. This will become an invaluable tool in your broader editorial role as a content marketer.

Serious Learning Management System

The first product ever launched off of Copyblogger, Teaching Sells, shows people step-by-step how to create sophisticated online training courses, along with the business models that power them. And since 2007, people have begged us to give them the turn-key platform that allowed for content creation, membership management, marketing, and all the other technological tasks that go with running a legitimate online business.

We’ve built that platform with Rainmaker. But we’re creating course creation tools that constitute a true learning management system — one that will help you with the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of e-learning courses and training programs.

What does that mean? Effortlessly create an online course without a developer, optimize your course content based on student behavior and feedback, run quizzes and surveys, and drip out your content (either paid or free) exactly as you want to, plus much more.

Marketing Automation/Adaptive Content

This is one of the most important technology applications that you’ll ever put in place for online marketing. And finally, it won’t cost you a ridiculous amount of money as with the current solutions.

Marketing automation (more appropriately known as adaptive content for those without sales teams) is not just about saving yourself from repeated tasks, or the drudgery of unscalable growth. Beyond those obvious benefits, its primary functions are:

  1. To vastly improve the experience of your prospects and customers
  2. To intelligently, and eventually effortlessly, grow revenue and profit
  3. To make more of the traffic you already have without chasing more

Rainmaker’s automation and adaptive content features will allow you to tag, add, delete, and manage customers or prospects from your various email lists, build specific interest lists based on real-world actions on your site, nurture leads in a way that’s sensitive to their inbox, allow you to create different content experiences for different people, and much more.

You can use MailChimp, Infusionsoft, AWeber, or the other popular email services we’re in the process of adding. Or you can choose the integrated add-on Rainmaker email service we’re working on right now. Either way, Rainmaker Professional will go to work for you in previously unimagined ways.

Pay once instead of forever

Now, let me make this clear — there will be a charge for existing Standard customers to upgrade to Professional. It’s just that it won’t be an increase in the quarterly or annual recurring fee. It’ll be a one-time charge that locks you in to the Professional plan for the life of your account at the Standard pricing.

In short, you get to upgrade to the more powerful version of the platform that you’ll need as your site and business grow, but you’ll save a huge amount over time compared to those who sign up once the Professional plan is released to the general public. This is an option that will only be available to existing Rainmaker customers who get on board before the Professional Plan is released.

Take a look at what Rainmaker can do, then take it on a free test drive today.

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

The post A Preview of Rainmaker Professional (And How to Lock in a Steal of a Deal) appeared first on Copyblogger.

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