SA economy’s record expansion

first_img9 June 2004South Africa’s newly appointed Cabinet has got down to work – and analysts say it is clear that a “developmental state” geared towards promoting faster economic growth forms the bedrock of government policy.Growth is looking positive so far in 2004. The national statistics agency, Statistics South Africa, said the economy grew by 3.1% in the first quarter – more than three times the growth over the same period in 2003.According to newspaper ThisDay, it is South Africa’s 22nd consecutive quarter of growth – the longest economic expansion since 1960.This is in line with trends across the continent. The African Development Bank has announced that the continent’s economy grew by 3.7% in 2003, with some African states recording growth rates above 5%.Economists say the improvement in the economy is partly due to a boom in domestic demand, sparked by a series of steady cuts in interest rates over the last year and R13.3-billion in tax relief last year.According to ThisDay, the manufacturing, retailing and wholesale sectors have benefited the most. Manufacturing grew 2.7% in the first quarter of the year, while the wholesale and retail trade rose 3.3%. Strong growth was also seen in the hospitality industry (3.3%) and agriculture (2.7%).Economists say it is likely that the Reserve Bank will remain steady on interest rates for the months ahead, though it may raise them towards the end of the year to offset creeping inflation.Newly appointed Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa told a parliamentary media briefing last month that it is important that the state remains engaged in the economy, and that the economic distortions of the past mean that it is impossible for it to remain neutral.Transport Minister Jeff Radebe told the briefing that the state cannot rely on the market to address the country’s present economic development needs, and will continue to invest in socio-economic infrastructure.Mpahlwa said it was important for government to limit the rising costs of key economic drivers like transport, energy, water and telecommunications. Structural barriers to growth, such as the railways and ports, would also be addressed, he said.Mpahlwa added that economic growth was central to black economic empowerment, which in turn would provide the skills needed to grow the economy.SouthAfrica.info reporterlast_img read more

A dramatic evening for dramatic need

first_imgFeaturing high profile actors sharing powerful stories raised enough money to fund a permanent arts centre in rural South Africa.A massive fund raising campaign staged by celebrity actors in the UK to raise money for South African children has inspired local thespians to put together a star-studded event of their own.THE CHILDREN’S MONOLOGUESFeaturing high profile actors sharing powerful stories raised enough money to fund a permanent arts centre in rural South Africa. Now our local stage celebrities are preparing to replicate the event to raise money for the same charity, Dramatic Need.The UK version first ran in 2010 starring famous names like Nicole Kidman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor and James McAvoy.The local version being staged by the Market Theatre’s artistic director James Ngcobo working with Mfundi Vundla as Executive Producer, Mfundi who has a long standing relationship with Dramatic Need.The Market Theatre production will feature Jamie Bartlett, Robert Whitehead, Lesedi Job, Sonia Radebe, Masasa Mbangeni, Sello Maake Ka Ncube, Lebo Toko, Nokukhanya Dlamini, Gugu Shezi and Nomfundo Dlamini with live music from Tshepo Mngoma.This moving production in aid of Dramatic Need will play for one night only on Friday 20 May, 2016.The Children’s Monologues brings alive the true stories of more than 200 children in rural South Africa as they try to come to terms with moments that changed their lives forever.For many of these kids that means searching for answers in the aftermath of rape, death, and injustice.For others it is about trying to hold on to a memory that still inspires happiness. The Market Theatre has selected 15 of these moving soliloquies.The stories have been adapted for the stage by a Who’s Who of writers, including Napo Masheane, Elliot Moleba, James Graham, Neil La Bute, Laura Wade, Jack Thorne, Roy Williams OBE and Tanika Gupta MBE and Sir David Hare – from first-hand accounts of children supported by the charity.SPONSORSHIPThe fundraising evening will host corporates, high profile individuals, providing a powerful platform for corporates to partner with us.Sponsorship opportunities include:Headline Partner• Brand association: at the event, online, and in print• Visibility in all printed materials and digital platforms• ‘Sponsor a Monologue’ – credit as a supporter of a specific performance and piece• The opportunity to be established with a cutting-edge arts event and a forward-thinking, international charity.To Learn More Follow the link: www.dramaticneed.org.ABOUT DRAMATIC NEEDDramatic Need introduces vulnerable children in rural South Africa and Rwanda to the creative arts as a means to cope with trauma and hardship.It works to develop visual literacy and freedom of expression without recourse to violence. The organisation believes that creativity, not money, has the best chance of changing a generation of children’s attitudes to themselves and to each other.Through engagement in drama, visual arts, filmmaking and music, these children are empowered to confront complex issues with confidence and to resolve – rather than engage in conflict. Its classes are running at full capacity, with demand far outstripping what it is able to supply.ABOUT THE CHILDREN’S MONOLOGUESThe original Monologues played to a sold-out theatre and were covered by every major news outlet in the UK.The production highlighted to an international audience the challenges these children face and the power of creative storytelling to change attitudes and prejudice within developing communities.It was a unique event, in terms of offering both glamour and integrity.The proceeds funded a permanent arts centre in rural South Africa that now runs six workshops a week and serves hundreds of local children.The original event was staged at London’s The Old Vic and was put together by Danny Boyle, a founding trustee of Dramatic Need. Its stars included Sir Nen Kingsley and Eddie Redmayne. The second airing in 2015 was a sell-out performance at The Royal Court Theatre.Tickets cost R200 each with all the proceeds going towards Dramatic Need, which runs an arts and culture centre in a farm in the very poor community of Viljoenskroon, Free State.Ngcobo is also asking companies or individuals to come forward with sponsorship to make it a huge success and raise enough money to make sure more children have a story with a happy ending.The fundraising evening will give corporates and high profile individuals a powerful platform and the opportunity to be associated with a cutting-edge arts event and a forward-thinking, international charity.For bookings and donations call:Anthony Ezeokeon 011 025 0377 (Direct Line) or 083 246 4950 / 072 413 9247AnthonyE@markettheatre.co.zaDate: 20 May 2016Time: 07:00pmTickets: R200last_img read more

Three Reasons You Resist Coaching

first_imgThere aren’t many things that will improve your results as quickly and as certainly as will coaching. I’ve noticed three common, recurring reasons people resist coaching.You are unwilling to face changeSome people fear being coached because they know it is going to bring up areas in their lives where they need to make changes. Whether that coaching is personal or professional, the goal of coaching is improved performance, and that means you have to be willing to change your beliefs and change your actions in some area of your life.If you don’t believe that change is necessary, you won’t believe you need coaching. You would be wrong. The very best performers in every human endeavor work with coaches. Their core belief is that, if they change something, they can perform at an even higher level.You are afraid it means you aren’t capableCoaching doesn’t mean that you aren’t a good, capable person. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have the ability or the resources to achieve your performance goals. Coaching isn’t an indictment of you personally (although there are some executives who are recommended coaching because their people skills are lacking).Coaching is an indication that you are capable. It’s evidence that someone (maybe you) believes that with some insight and ideas from a professional coach, you can perform better. No one invests in coaching when they believe that they are hopeless. And no company invests in coaching for their people who they believe those people aren’t capable of turning in their best performance.You are afraid of being held accountableThis one is a biggie. It’s the deep-seated issue that prevents a lot of people from embracing coaching.Some people don’t want to be held accountable for changing. They want to avoid being asked about their performance. They don’t like anyone shining a light on the difference between what they say and what they do. More than anything, they don’t want to have to answer to someone; they’d rather hide from their problems, their challenges.But the best performers embrace accountability. They fearlessly look at the gaps in their performance so they can close those gaps. They look at a coach as an accountability partner. They expect their coach to ask them the tough questions, and they anticipate their coach asking them tough questions to help them expand what they believe is possible, what they are capable of.Coaching isn’t something negative. It’s positive.last_img read more

GPS and Losing Your Sense of Direction

first_img Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Now Most of us can no longer find our way to the places that we go to without using a GPS. We’ve become totally reliant on our smartphones to help guide us from where we are to where are going. GPS is an enormous improvement over a map, and it is a far better experience to hear the directions being spoken aloud.But, this comes with a cost. In leveraging the technology, we have become dependent on it. It’s so easy, and so good, that we rely on it, sometimes completely. In doing so, we have lost our sense of direction and the ability to find our way without using global positioning satellites.Now, a lot of people are working on trying to apply artificial intelligence to sales. Some of the solutions I have seen lately are attempting to provide guidance, a few of them literally providing the salesperson with the words to use in a live sales conversation, and others using a sort of Cyrano de Bergerac-like technique to allow the sales manager to provide the talk tracks to the rep through their headset in real time.While there is nothing wrong with teaching salespeople how to have good and effective sales conversations, doing so can’t come at the expense of them learning to understand how to have these conversations without relying on technology to do so—or worse, relying on someone to feed them their lines in real time. You only need two things to be a trusted advisor: trust and advice. Without the advice, without actually knowing things, it’s impossible to be a peer or a consultative salesperson.It isn’t enough to help salespeople by providing them the words and the talk tracks that help them have better sales conversations. That outcome is too transactional. The development of a sales professional requires that one also teach them how to understand their client’s business, to understand how to create value for those clients, and to develop the business acumen and situational knowledge that allows them to serve their clients—as well as create and win opportunities.last_img read more

The Marketer’s Ultimate Glossary of Salesforce Terms

first_img Originally published Jan 16, 2013 12:30:00 PM, updated June 27 2019 Marketing Resources Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: If your organization uses Salesforce or another CRM system , you probably know that it’s a powerful piece of software that is capable of transforming every aspect of how your sales team works. An effective CRM system can help your reps identify, manage, and close more deals more quickly. But with great power often comes great responsi … err, complexity.For many of us marketers, our CRM system is like a black box. We know it’s chock full of data that could be useful to us, and we have a sense that we don’t know enough about it, but we still don’t know how to get our bearings. Perhaps you feel like you’re neck deep in CRM terminology every time you have a conversation with your sales manager. Maybe you just don’t feel all that confident navigating through your CRM system, or maybe you know that as a marketer, you could get a lot more out of knowing it better.While different CRM systems use slightly different terminology, to ease you into a better understanding of CRMs, let’s take a look at some common CRM, and specifically, Salesforce terminology that marketers should know. A Account A standard object in Salesforce that represents a company or organization (but not necessarily a customer). An account may have contacts (individuals or employees who work there), opportunities (potential sales deals), and other objects associated with it. The contact record stores details about the company like the company name, address, etc. Activities Records stored on an object that are typically used to represent actions taken on a lead, contact, or account — things like phone calls, emails from a rep, or future tasks that a rep intends to complete. Many marketing software platforms can automatically insert activities into the activity history to give a rep context about key actions marketing is taking with respect to a lead (e.g. email sends, if those emails were opened or clicked, form submissions made by the lead, etc.). Activity History A list stored on a record in Salesforce that shows the history of activities that have been carried out on that object. For example, the activity history section on a contact record may contain a list of actions the sales rep has taken in working that lead — emails sent, calls made, etc. API An API (application programming interface) is a system used by a piece of software to talk to other pieces of software. Salesforce offers an API that allows it to be connected to outside systems like a marketing platform or email tool. Some third parties ( like HubSpot ) have standard “connectors” that makes it possible to connect them to Salesforce’s API easily and without any technical knowledge. Apex A programming language used by developers to build applications that interact with Salesforce. These applications are often hosted on the Force.com platform (see below); there are hundreds of generally available applications in the Salesforce AppExchange. AppExchange Salesforce’s app marketplace, which contains hundreds of integrations with third-party services that allow users to extend the functionality of their Salesforce instance. HubSpot’s Salesforce integration, for example, is listed in the Salesforce AppExchange. B Bi-Directional Sync A feature of a third-party tool (like HubSpot) that allows it to both read information from, and write information to, Salesforce. (Example: Because HubSpot’s Salesforce integration features bi-directional sync, it can both add new leads to Salesforce, and pull leads from Salesforce based on a user’s preference.) C Campaign An object in Salesforce used to track a marketing effort. The campaign object houses several standard pieces of data — a campaign name, start and end dates, expected revenue, budgeted and actual costs, and more. While Salesforce campaigns have many uses, most marketers use them for reporting purposes. Campaigns are often used in conjunction with closed-loop reporting from a marketing software platform like HubSpot. Chatter A set of collaboration tools that are woven throughout Salesforce, allowing individuals to work together and share information on deals they are working. Users can join different groups, comment on different objects and data, and share details through chatter. Closed-Loop Reporting A reporting methodology in which data about which leads/contacts/accounts ultimately convert into sales is passed back to a marketing platform . In the marketing platform, the marketer can then attribute that customer to the various marketing efforts they touched, and better understand the ROI each of those efforts generated. Closed Won Opportunity A standard stage in Salesforce that refers to the status of an opportunity. An opportunity is typically set to “closed won” status when a deal is closed and the associated account is now a customer. Systems like HubSpot listen for this “closed won” status in Salesforce to enable closed-loop reporting . Connector A piece of software that connects another system (like a marketing software platform, or an email tool) to Salesforce. Contact A standard object in Salesforce that represents an individual person. The contact record contains details like a name, address, email, and phone number. A contact can be attached to an account and opportunity record. Contact Role A standard field included on the contact record that can be used to define the role an individual plays in an account or opportunity (e.g. decision maker, influencer, etc.). Custom Field A specialized piece of data stored in Salesforce that is unique to the user’s business. (e.g. A dog food manufacturer might create a custom field for “favorite dog breed” in its system to track the favorite breed of each of its contacts.) Custom Object A specialized type of record in Salesforce created to meet the needs of an individual business. An example of this might be an “employee” object that contains several details about an employee that is used by an HR department. Custom Report A view of data in Salesforce that has been personalized by the user to include exactly the information they want to see. A custom report might use filters to determine which records it includes (e.g. this report should include only lead records in Massachusetts who are CEOs) and will contain a set of individually chosen fields, usually as columns (e.g. the name, email address, and lead score of those Massachusetts CEO leads). D Dashboard A dashboard in Salesforce is a graphical representation of what you might find in a report. Dashboards might include charts, gauges, or other graphics that represent the metrics that underly them. They make it easy for a team to track progress toward a goal or metric. F Field A field in Salesforce is a piece of data stored on an object. An example of a field might be the “First Name” or “Email Address” field found on the lead and contact records. Fields are also often referred to as “properties.” Force.com A cloud platform service that allows developers to build and host applications on Salesforce’s servers. Force.com is widely used to host applications that work in conjunction with Salesforce, like many of the apps available in the Salesforce AppExchange. Forecast Generally speaking, a forecast is an estimate of revenue that will be brought in during a given time period. In the context of Salesforce, a forecast is a type of report that shows a tally of data from opportunities expected to close in a specified time period. Your sales managers may use Salesforce forecasts to monitor their pipeline throughout the month. Formula Field A formula field in Salesforce is similar to a cell in Excel that contains a formula. The field relies on an equation to populate the data it shows. That equation may take other fields or information into consideration. An example of a formula field might be a field that shows the number of days since sales last followed up with a specific lead. L Lead A standard object in Salesforce that represents an individual identity at an early stage in the sales process. A lead record isn’t natively connected to other data in Salesforce, but is “converted” when it represents a valid opportunity (a process which creates a contact in its place, and associates it with account and opportunity records). Lead Scoring A process typically carried out in a marketing platform that assigns a numeric value to a lead to represent how qualified he/she is. Every organization typically devises its own scoring criteria based on factors that determine the likelihood that a lead is well qualified. Lookup A field that references the data in another field, possibly on another object. A lookup field can be identified by the clickable magnifying glass icon that appears alongside it. An example of a standard lookup field is the “Account” field that appears on a contact — this field is set to reference the “Account Name” field on the associated account object. M Marketing Cloud A suite of social analytics tools offered as an add-on to Salesforce that helps large enterprise organizations monitor and leverage social media. O Object In the context of Salesforce, an “object” is a type of record that Salesforce uses to store your data. There are several standard objects that every Salesforce instance comes with out of the box — an account, a lead, an opportunity, a contact, and many more. It is also possible to set up custom objects to reflect custom pieces of data or custom parts of your process. Opportunity A standard object in Salesforce that represents a potential sales deal. An opportunity record typically contains details about the potential deal, like expected deal size (a dollar amount that cascades up to Salesforce forecasts), expected close date, probability, and opportunity stage. Opportunity Stage A standard field found on the opportunity object that is used to track the status of an opportunity. The opportunity stage may be set to one of several values such as “Prospecting”, “Negotiation/Review,” or “Closed Won,” which represents that the opportunity is associated with a customer or won business. Q Queue A queue in Salesforce is akin to a “holding pen” for objects that aren’t yet assigned to an individual. An example might be a “Recycled Leads Queue” where your sales reps send unqualified leads to if they determine the lead isn’t ready for sales contact. R Report A report is what it sounds like — a view in Salesforce of a specific subset of records and fields of data. Salesforce comes with several standard report types out of the box (e.g. the Campaign ROI Analysis Report, or the Lead History Report). It is also possible to create custom reports in Salesforce. S Standard Object A type of record where data is stored that Salesforce uses out of the box. Examples of a standard object might be a lead object, a contact object, an account object, or an opportunity object. Also see the definition for “object.” T Task Tasks in Salesforce represent an action that has been taken or will be taken with respect to a record in Salesforce. An example of a task might be a phone call to a lead, or a marketing email that was sent to and opened by a contact. Tasks are listed on individual records, and are used by sales reps to manage their day-to-day actions for each lead. Managers can track tasks to measure the activity of a rep via reports. Trigger A piece of Apex code that is used to kick off actions in Salesforce when a change to a record, or creation of a new record, happens in Salesforce. An example use of a trigger might be to change the “company type” field on an account record to “enterprise” if an account is set to have more than 500 employees in its company size field. V View Think of a view as a predefined set of filter criteria that can be applied to a list of data from a drop-down menu. Many lists of data come with a preset list of helpful views; for example, you might choose to filter a list of contacts to see only “My Contacts,” which would surface a list of only contacts that you are set as the owner of. You can also create custom views in Salesforce. W Web to Lead A tool in Salesforce that allows you to create simple forms that you can place on outside websites. When a user fills out the form, a lead is created in Salesforce. Note that most Salesforce Web to Lead forms will only accept up to 500 submissions per day. Workflow Rule A tool in Salesforce that allows you to automate certain actions like sending notification emails, updating fields in your database, adding tasks to a record in Salesforce, and more. An example use of workflow rules might be setting up a rule that sends an email to a specific sales manager when a deal comes in that needs their approval, based on the company size (or any other characteristic) of the associated opportunity. Don’t Be Overwhelmed! While there are many terms you’ve probably heard used in reference to your particular CRM system, it’s important to not be overwhelmed. By biting off small bits and learning more and more from this  CRM and Salesforce glossary , you’ll get a better understanding of the system your sales team uses every day, and how you can better leverage its capabilities to improve your marketing and your processes.Image Credit: JD Hancocklast_img read more

The Anatomy of an Optimized Blog Subscriber Email

first_img Originally published Jan 6, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 When was the last time you paid any attention to your blog subscriber emails? “My blog subscriber emails? I’m pretty sure those just … get sent, right?”Probably. For many marketers, subscriber emails were likely something you configured when you first launched your blog — never to be thought about again.If this sounds familiar and you’re treating your blog subscriber email like just another automated email you set and forgot, you could be missing out on a wealth of opportunity. Not to blame you, though. Most automated blog subscriber emails from software are nothing to write home about. In fact, HubSpot’s own software only recently, with the launch of our new Blog tool on HubSpot’s new COS, started giving customers the ability to truly customize their blog subscriber emails.But if you do have the ability to customize these emails, they’re definitely an important asset to leverage. After all, depending on how often you blog and how many email subscribers you have, these emails go out to quite a few of your contacts on a regular basis. Are you making the most of all their potential?Using the HubSpot software’s own blog email capabilities as our prototype, let’s dissect the anatomy of an optimized subscriber email so you can identify areas for improvement in your own emails.The Anatomy of an Optimized Blog Subscriber Email1) Recognizable Sender NameMake sure your sender name makes it clear to recipients who the email is from. This is likely the first thing your subscribers notice about your email notifications, so if it’s not immediately evident to them that your email is from a known sender, your emails might end up straight in the trash.In HubSpot’s case, because multiple sections make up our blog, we use “HubSpot Blog” followed by the name of the particular section the contact is subscribed to as our sender name. This makes it easy for recipients to identify that the email is coming from, say, the marketing section of HubSpot’s blog.2) Clear, Catchy Subject LineBecause your email’s subject line is the most critical factor in whether your recipients decide to even open your email in the first place, make sure you give it ample thought.Considering your subscriber emails are most likely automated and triggered every time you publish a new post, a great approach here is to simply use the title of the blog post as your subject line — if your software enables you to do so like HubSpot’s does. Knowing this, make sure you take the subscriber email into consideration when you’re crafting your blog post titles.And be sure to avoid lengthy titles — 50 characters or fewer will ensure the subject line doesn’t get cut off in most email clients, particularly for mobile users. Also, make sure the title is catchy and interesting while also clearly indicating what the content is about. Misleading titles may get you the initial click, but over time, they will lead to the loss of subscribers’ trust — and ultimately, an increase in unsubscribes.3) Enticing Preview Text If your software enables you to customize the preview text of your email, this is another great opportunity to increase opens of your subscriber emails.The preview text is the copy that appears immediately following the subject line of your email. Use this real estate to further clarify what your recipients are getting and get them excited about what’s inside. Remind them that this is a notification email about your awesome new blog post and entice them to open it with some creative copy. But again, keep it brief! 4) Responsive Template Your email recipients are reading their emails on various devices, operating systems, and email clients — desktops, smartphones, tablets, iOS, Android, Gmail, Outlook — you name it! This means that in order to send effective blog subscriber emails, they should be optimized for each and every one of these different platforms. That’s where responsive email templates come in handy.A responsive template will automatically adjust to suit your email recipients’ individual situations — whether they’re using Gmail on a desktop, an Android smartphone, an iPad, or any other combination of software.So, if you have access to responsive email templates, use them! (Note: HubSpot’s Email tool has a variety of responsive templates to choose from and customize). If not, make sure you at least keep mobile email optimization best practices in mind when you’re designing your blog subscriber emails.5) Logo/Branding Now, on to the body of the email itself. Remember, getting your subscribers to open the email is only half the battle. The true goal is to get them to click through to the post itself. First things first: Incorporate some branding, such as your company’s logo, near the top of your email. This reassures subscribers that your email is coming from a trusted sender and adds some consistency to your blog notification emails.For instance, in HubSpot’s own blog subscriber emails, we use the same banner (with the addition of the HubSpot sprocket logo) that appears at the top of the section of the HubSpot blog the email is associated with.6) Personalization Greet your subscribers by name! If your blog software is connected to your contacts database, chances are you may know at least the names of many of your blog subscribers. Use it to your advantage and make your subscriber emails a little bit more personal using dynamic tags. Just be sure to set a default value for this dynamic tag for those people whose names are not in your contacts database.7) Introduction/Greeting You can also introduce your latest post and let your brand’s personality shine through with a quick, friendly greeting. Just keep in mind that, because your blog notification emails are automated, this greeting can easily get stale to recipients over time. If you’re going to incorporate a greeting, try to remember to switch it up every once in a while. 8) Clickable Blog TitleProminently display the title of the blog post you’re emailing about, and make sure it’s hyperlinked to the post itself. (If you’re using HubSpot’s new Blog tool, the title of your post is automatically pulled in to your email and hyperlinked for you.) This is exactly what your subscribers are looking for — and the main point of your email — so you want to make sure it’s easy to find to encourage clickthroughs.And as we mentioned earlier, when you’re brainstorming the title of your blog post, keep in mind how critical it is for generating clickthroughs from not only your emails, but also promotion in other channels like social media. For help with blog title generation, check out this simple formula for writing kick-ass titles. 9) Post Preview Some subscribers may need a little more convincing that your new post is worth the read before they decide to click through on your email. This is where the post preview comes in handy.Depending on the capabilities of your software, this is a good place to either provide a quick summary/description of your post or include the first few sentences of the post itself to draw readers in and entice them to click for more. Feel free to experiment with both to determine which generates more clickthroughs.If you’re using HubSpot’s new blog subscriber emails, you can choose to either show the post in full or just the content appearing before the “Read More Separator” (which you can set) in the post itself. Since the goal of your email is likely to drive subscribers back to your blog so they can explore not only this particular post but also your other content, I strongly recommend the latter. 10) Compelling Image and Alt TextUse the power of visual content to make your subscriber emails even more clickable by including a compelling, relevant image in your post preview. Not only will this help draw in the eye, but it will also make your emails more sharable, increasing the likelihood recipients will forward it to others and expand the reach of your blog content. And don’t forget to add relevant alt text for those recipients who either choose not to enable images in their email clients or whose email clients don’t support it. If you’re using HubSpot’s new blog notification emails, keep in mind that the image in your email will automatically get pulled in from your blog post if it’s included before the Read More Separator in the post itself. As such, you’ll need to add your alt text to the image in the post (not the email) and choose compelling images for your posts as you’re writing them. The good news is this is not only a best practice for email, but also for the social shareability of your blog content in general.11) “Read More” Call-to-ActionWe know every effective marketing email has a clear call-to-action (CTA), so how does this translate to your blog subscriber emails? Well, if you’re main goal is to drive subscribers back to your website where they can read the article you’re emailing about (and hopefully other articles), make sure that next step is crystal clear!After your post preview, include a call-to-action for recipients to read the full article on your blog. Experiment with the copy of this text link to see what generates more clickthroughs, and if your software allows, try a more prominent button CTA instead.(Tip for HubSpot COS Users: You can use HTML to display your “Read More” CTA copy more prominently, using styling like bolded text or headers.)12) Secondary CTAsThis begs the question — should you include any secondary CTAs in your blog subscriber emails? What about a CTA promoting an offer relevant to the content of the post? You know, for lead generation? To be honest, this depends on your particular goals and the type of secondary CTA you plan to use.If the goal of your blog subscriber emails is to drive traffic to your blog, then it’d probably be wise to forego any competing CTAs that might interfere. If your goal is to use these emails as another source of lead generation, feel free to experiment with secondary lead gen CTAs.For HubSpot’s own blog subscriber emails, our main goal is to drive subscribers back to our blog, so we chose to exclude lead gen CTAs. However, we do include a CTA for subscribers to download our free Newsstand app, enabling them to read our blog content optimized for their iPad — a complementary, but not competing offer.You’ll also notice that our “update your email preferences or subscribe to other sections” anchor text link is a CTA in and of itself. We have this there as a way to make sure subscribers know their options, save them from unsubscribing, and promote the other sections on our blog.  13) Social Media Follow Buttons Not every post you email is going to tickle your subscribers’ fancy. Maybe your blog is about unicorn care, and one of your subscribers is already an expert unicorn dietician. While your introductory post about unicorn diet may not be something she feels is worth the read, that doesn’t mean she has to go away empty-handed.For instance, is she following your company on Twitter yet? How about Facebook? A form of secondary CTAs, social media follow buttons are a great way to engage and nurture blog subscribers in other channels, and increase your overall social reach. Configure these buttons for the social networks in which your company actively maintains a presence.14) Footer Last but not least, customize your email’s footer. The most critical component of your footer is CAN-SPAM compliancy, so be sure to include your company’s physical mailing address and a clear unsubscribe link.You can also use your footer as an opportunity to save a few unsubscribes by reminding subscribers that they can always modify their current email preferences if they’re receiving too much email.HubSpot’s new blog subscriber emails enable you to offer subscription via an instant, daily, weekly, or monthly frequency, so if instant emails are overwhelming your subscribers, you’ll want them to know they have other frequency options before choosing to unsubscribe altogether.How else can you customize — and optimize — your blog subscriber emails? Share your tips in the comments!  Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Email Lists and Segmentation Topics:last_img read more

The Biggest SEO Blunders of All Time

first_img Originally published Jun 19, 2014 6:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 SEO inception: Google punishes itself for using black hat tactics?There’s only one company out there that can bring Google, the almighty ruler of internet search, to its knees. And that company, of course, is Google.Back in 2012, the Google Chrome homepage received a two-month penalty after it was discovered the site was benefiting from paid links.Two years prior, the company got itself in hot water — with itself — for cloaking content on its AdWords help pages.For more instances of Google punishing Google for SEO infractions, check out this great post from Search Engine Land.And there you have it, some of the biggest SEO missteps in recent history. Remember: If you want to stay in the clear with your site, just avoid making these common SEO mistakes. Got any SEO horror stories you’d like to share? Sound off in the comments below! Topics: BMW feels the Google kiss of death for using doorway pages, receives a “0” PageRankThe year was 2006, and German car company BMW’s German website (BMW.de) was mopping it up in the search rankings with important keywords like “used car.”As it turns out, the company had been using doorway pages to artificially inflate their inbound links and rank higher for competitive keywords. A doorway page, also known as a bridge or portal page, is a webpage that’s created solely for the purpose of redirecting visitors to a parent page. In BMW’s case, this page was BMW.de.Even back in 2006, Google wasn’t messing around. BMW.de was promptly blacklisted, receiving a PageRank of 0 as a consequence of the infraction.Toys R Us pays $5.1 million for Toys.com domain name, forgets to set up 301 redirectsToys R Us really, really wanted to dominate the word “toys’ in search, so much so that they paid top dollar for the eponymous domain name, toys.com, back in 2010.While the plan was to score some serious SEO cred for having such a searched-for term — toys — right in their domain name, the crew handling the project made a big, big mistake: when they launched the new site, they failed to redirect their old URLs. As a result, Google re-indexed the site, so instead of seeing their search ranking for “toys” climb, the Toys R’ Us team watched it take a nose dive.In this case, there was no ill SEO-intent on the part of the company. They didn’t use any black hat tactics — they just messed up. Big time.Want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to you? When making big changes to your site, keep track of everything in a workbook.Overstock.com trades discounts for links, loses $1.05 billion in revenue after Google takes noticeRap Genius was by no means the first company to construct a scheme for generating rank-boosting links. Back in 2011, it was discovered that online retailer Overstock.com was encouraging colleges and universities to embed links on their websites in exchange for faculty and student discounts on Overstock.com merchandise.As far as terrible, sleazy, no-good, rotten link-building schemes go, this one was actually pretty clever. The “.edu” designation that most academic websites carry gives those sites some extra authoritativeness in the eyes of Google. So if you can get a bunch of these sites to link to your site using the keywords you want to target, you’ll be more likely to rank for those keywords.The problem, of course, is that trading discounts for links doesn’t help make information on the web any more organized. In fact, it muddles it all up (why would all these academic institutions link to product pages for bunk beds and lawn furniture?).Google, of course, penalized Overstock.com big time. These penalties were part of the reason why Overstock.com’s revenue dropped by $1.05 billion in 2011.J. C. Penney sees ranking for “living room furniture” drop from #1 to #68 in a matter of hours after Google penaltyAnother retail company, another link-building scheme. In this case, it’s theorized that J. C. Penney, or the SEO firm that worked for them, bought the company into a paid link network.As a result of participating in the network, the retailer received such an astronomical amount of inbound links — which targeted very specific keyword phrases — that the J. C. Penney site was ranking first for, well, almost everything. This came across as suspicious to some, including journalist David Segal.For the full scoop, you’ll definitely want to check out his New York Times piece on the subject, “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search.” For the abridged version, I think one of the most fascinating aspects of this case was how fast Google was able to take action and drop J. C. Penney’s search rankings. Within hours, they were ranking in the high 60s and 70s for search terms that they used to rank first for (including “living room furniture” and “Samsonite carry on luggage”).So for those of you who’ve ever thought about dabbling in paid link-building networks, take heed. Google knows what’s up, and will bring the pain if it needs to.Rap Genius loses 80% of its traffic after Google uncovers link-building scheme We all know that getting backlinks (a.k.a. inbound links) from trusted websites is a great way to give your website’s search rankings a boost. However, as the lyrics website Rap Genius would discover, the method you use to generate those backlinks is of considerable importance. If your website is attracting links because you regularly create stellar content and people in your industry love you and they always share and link to your stuff, then guess what? You’re golden! Google will give you a pat on the back.However, if you’re attracting links by regularly sending out spammy emails that instruct people to link to specific pages of yours, Google’s going to bring the heat.Rap Genius went so far as to develop a network of bloggers who received publicity for their posts in exchange for including links to specific song lyrics on the Rap Genius site. This “affiliate program,” as Rap Genius called it, didn’t fly with Google, especially since the lyrics the blogs linked to rarely aligned with the actual content of the posts.As a result of this scheme, Google delivered a punishing blow to Rap Genius’s search rankings, and — for a short while — the company lost 80% of its daily organic traffic.Fortunately for Rap Genius, Google is willing to forgive. After publicly admitting that their SEO tactics were whack, and deconstructing their link-building network, Rap Genius was allowed back on Google’s search results pages.center_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Marketers … we’re always looking for ways to make our metrics skyrocket up and to the right. We love our tips, tricks, hacks, “insider” secrets, and yes, we even love our performance-enhancing drugs (sips coffee).Where were we?Right … it seems we’re all so obsessed with improving and optimizing and driving results, that we’re sometimes tempted to break the rules. In the world of SEO, we call that using black hat tactics. And of course, we all think these black hat tactics are unfair or unethical and we never, ever use them.But here’s the thing: If black hat SEO can give your numbers a big boost and get you the results you need, why not go for it? I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?Spoiler alert: The worst that could happen is Google lands a direct hit on your search rankings with a flying roundhouse kick, your PageRank drops to 0, and you eventually get featured in a blog post (like this one) that’s filled with examples of companies that broke the rules and paid the price.Remember, as that influential marketing guy wrote in that famous book of his, “The Dark Side of the Force is the pathway to many abilities some consider to be … unnatural.”Actually, that’s from Star Wars. But the message is still relevant: You might hit your numbers using black hat tactics but, inevitably, Google’s going to notice that you’re doing something “unnatural.” And Google ain’t afraid to lay down the law.(Pssst. Want to make sure your website is squeaky clean? Check out our new guide, 10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid During Your Next Website Redesign.)The SEO Hall of Shame SEO Mistakeslast_img read more

A Vivid Vision for HubSpot’s Content

first_imgThe program began as it always did — with a spritely, “Welcome to INBOUND Radio on SiriusXM channel 125.” Host Mike Volpe went on to introduce the day’s guests. First up was a prominent Stanford medical researcher, who’d made a breakthrough in Parkinson’s treatment thanks to the millions of iPhone and Apple Watch users who volunteered to have their health monitored through their mobile devices. “Giving away your health data is about as inbound as it gets,” observed Volpe when he wrapped up the interview from HubSpot’s brand new Cambridge recording studio.Although this scenario hasn’t yet occurred, don’t call it fiction. It’s more like pre-reality, or, in the words of executive-turned-executive-coach Cameron Herold, a “vivid vision.”Herold, the former COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, has become one of the world’s most sought-after speakers and advisors. Simply put, he helps top CEOs perform even better. One of Herold’s most popular techniques is what he calls a vivid vision. Think of it as a drug-free executive Peyote trip, in which the leader of an organization travels ahead three years and returns clutching a hyper-detailed narrative of the company’s future state. A well-crafted vivid vision is a little trippy in that it describes the sights, sounds, mood, energy, and dialogues surrounding events that have not yet occurred.After listening to Herold explain this concept on The Growth Show podcast, I decided to give it a try on behalf of the HubSpot content team. I booked some alone time in the company nap room, conjured up Doc Brown and hopped aboard my mind’s Delorean. Destination: 2018.Constructing a Vivid VisionThe exercise was, admittedly, awkward — perhaps even corny — at first. Self-awareness got the better of me, and I struggled to visualize reality beyond the end of the year, much less the mid-point of the next U.S. President’s term. I also defaulted to math — mentally calculating traffic and conversions by compounding today’s growth rates. I thought of the same people, in the same seats, doing the same jobs. Just better. In other words, I was doing it all wrong.Then I remembered the source of the vivid vision process: Olympic athletes. Herold explained that high-achieving athletes painstakingly visualize the outcome of their events in advance of competing. Suddenly, the exercise felt less new agey. I put the flux capacitor back to work.Questions raced at me. Would we have a blog? If so, what would it look like? Who would be reading it? What about ebooks? Did people still read them? And the podcast that triggered this post … what kind of guests would we host?Once I shut off (or at least suppressed) my self-monitor, the exercise became enjoyable. Indulgent even. I imagined teaching a Columbia J-school class on business blogs. I heard several students rebuke me for hobbling “real” journalism. I pre-lived a conversation with the managing editor of our blog, who insisted writers should get bonuses based on scoops, not leads. She mentioned a specific blogger who would get angry when she’d be scooped by a commercial blog. The editor wanted to permeate this competitive spirit throughout the team. I overheard HubSpot bloggers complain about the very same issues that have long irritated traditional journalists; I saw press badges for massive industry events hung in bloggers’ workspaces; I feared my analytics person might get poached by BuzzFeed, which was now seen as The New York Times for the post-Millennial generation. I found this observation so horrifying that it nearly shook me out of my vision.My content strategists had evolved into research analysts. They were routinely invited to deliver on-air commentary about sales and marketing trends for various cable networks. They snickered when Fox Business called, knowing how the network rankled me. HubSpot’s podcaster and I tried to figure out if we could get (still) Apple CEO Tim Cook to mention The Growth Show during the company’s next press event.It took me a while, but eventually I got the idea: A vivid vision isn’t just dragging a formula forward in Excel. It’s rethinking the application.Now it’s your turn. Check out Cameron Herald’s interview with Mike Volpe on The Growth Show. And then go back to envision your own company’s future. You’ll be excited to see what’s waiting there. Leadership Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Mar 19, 2015 5:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more

5 Blogs With Comments You’ll Actually Want to Read

first_imgCopyblogger rocked the blogging world when they stopped facilitating comments on their blog and instead encouraged people to take the comments to social or to their own blogs. Thing is, this “we know what’s good for you” approach failed to take into account what their readers want – which is, to comment when they want, where they want.Lucky for us, there are still a multitude of great marketing blogs that welcome our comments. If you’re looking for a blog where the comments are as good as the articles, you’ve come to the right place.1) Grow – Mark SchaeferMany marketers (including me) love him for his forward thinking, his approachability, his no-nonsense advice, and his entertaining podcast with cohost and voiceover genius Tom Webster. Have you heard about the concept of “Content Shock”? You know that because of Mark’s post Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy published in the beginning of 2014.That one blog post has 392 comments on it. Not painful, “great post” comments either. Mark’s ideas ignite debate, foster creativity and provide a fantastic exchange of ideas that are as valuable as the posts themselves. And even on an article with nearly four hundred comments, he replies to nearly every one of them. Having written for his blog before, I also know he asks contributing writers to respond as well.Check it out if: you want to be on the leading edge of marketing trends and get the inside scoop on how industry experts are reacting to and implementing them.2) Web Search SocialRalph and Carol Lynn Rivera have created something of a cult following for their podcast. The show notes are the place to continue the conversation you’ve been having with them in your head as you listen.One of the draws for the comments section is that Melanie Kissell nearly always writes a poem for each episode. Clever and fun, these really add to the program.Not ones to shy away from controversy, Ralph and Carol Lynn have taken on some common marketing practices and even specific tools on their show. This episode with the founder of Snip.ly lead to some interesting back and forth, including one comment which likens anyone wishing to protect their intellectual property to a whiny two-year old. The intelligent responses from hosts and guests and continuing dialogue never fail to get the creative juices flowing.Check it out if: you enjoy marketing smarts with a hefty dose of witty banter.3) Neil PatelNeil loves data. He’s a tester, an analyst, and he shares generously, including printscreens from his Google analytics and tons of numbers to back up his findings. He often presents his “how-tos” in a step-by-step format, which is especially helpful on his typically very long posts.What is great about some of the commenters here (and you do have to wade through quite a few “you are the best!” comments) is that they ask really personal questions that some of us might not feel comfortable asking. “How did you create that opt-in?” “How do you find time to write so much?” And Neil answers all questions graciously. Seriously, this guy is on top of it and is a real gentleman. You’ll also notice that commenters add in their own A/B results, link to other related articles, etc. So, you’re really getting double the content!Check it out: if you want to get the inside scoop on Neil’s considerable marketing success and a well-rounded look at what’s working for many companies.4) Seriously Social Iag.me with Ian Anderson GrayIan’s blog is the go-to blog for real tech and marketing geeks – and I mean that lovingly! He enjoys writing about tools and programs for marketers in a way that I quite appreciate. He’ll share his findings, pros, cons, setup instructions, etc. Seriously useful.The comments section often attracts the founders or representatives of the companies creating the tools he reviews, meaning commenters can get their own questions answered from Ian AND from the companies themselves. In Ian’s more technical posts, you will notice he addresses each commenter, helping to debug where necessary, even years after the post goes live.Ian said about his “7 Reasons NOT to use Hootsuite” article “It’s turned into a mini community (which I always strive to make my articles into). It’s been a place for people to ask questions, ask advice, share frustrations and give feedback.” Indeed it has – with nearly 500 comments and counting.Check it out if: you enjoy an objective look at tools and programs and want to engage with company representatives.5) Adrienne SmithAdrienne claims her business is about “Showing Bloggers How to Grow a Blog One Relationship at a Time.” She delivers.As with all good comment sections, Adrienne’s loyal readers add in great tools and success stories that add to the already useful content Adrienne supplies. But what really stands out is the way the commenters all seem to know and support each other, with Adrienne facilitating. This is not done in a way that makes new readers feel they are late to the party (I just started commenting today), rather it leaves one feeling as if they’ve stumbled upon a very safe place to ask questions and express concerns.Check it out if: you are looking for a supportive community as you grow your business.Blog commenting is a great way to get to know people, to get your questions answered, and to express your opinions. Which blogs do you follow for the comments? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Sep 16, 2015 1:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Blogginglast_img read more

A Simple Guide to SEO for Local Businesses [Infographic]

first_imgWhen you find yourself in an unfamiliar area and you’re looking for a restaurant, coffee shop, sports store, or some other local business … how do you go about finding it?Most of us pull out our smartphone, open up a search engine, and search for a specific type of local business. That’s called a local search, and it’s for customers in a particular area who use online search engines to find a business in that area.According to Google’s own research, “50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34% who searched on computer or tablet did the same.”With local businesses competing for the top spots in those searches, knowing how to optimize your website accordingly is key. To help you learn more about local SEO, SurePayroll created the infographic below. Check it out to learn the anatomy of a local Google search results page, how to optimize your website for local searches, and how to separate your search result from everyone else’s.75Save Originally published Nov 2, 2015 12:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Topics: Local SEOcenter_img 75SaveWhat local SEO tips can you add to the list? Share with us in the comments. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more