Can Small Changes Make a Big Difference for Website Conversions?

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Acorn, to represent something small that will grow into something big. Get it?Will making your form longer improve the quality of your leads? Do people respond better to calls to action in first person (me, my) or second (you yours?)

No matter how big a room you have to paint, invariably you spend most of your time on the trim. It’s the more challenging, technical, small brush work that seems to have the most impact on whether a room looks professionally painted or not.

Likewise, on our websites, little things can make a big difference in how we’re perceived, and whether our visitors are more or less likely to turn into leads and customers.

So today, let’s check out this interesting infographic on contact forms from Lisa Margetis over at Singlehop. 

contactform2

 

What do you think? Will anything here make you change the forms on your website?

Rich Brooks
Small Business Digital Marketing

How to Set the RIGHT Goals for 2014

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How to Set the RIGHT Goals for 2014

If you want to compete and succeed with social media you’ll need to commit to goals that are within your control. Here’s how.

“Daddy, I’m really competitive.”

I looked over at Maya, my 11-year-old in the front car seat next to me. In my completely unbiased opinion she’s beautiful, smart and talented. She’s also incredibly fast and athletic…besides soccer, cross-country and snowboarding, she rides the tall unicycle (a “giraffe”) in Gym Dandies, a local children’s performing circus.

But competitive? I wasn’t so sure. She just doesn’t seem like she’s the fire-in-the-belly, eye-of-the-tiger type of kid most days.

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“I hate to lose.”

Having consoled her after soccer losses or the rare, less-than-stellar test score, I knew this to be true.

“Well, how you feel after a win or a loss isn’t the same thing as being competitive,” I told her.

“What do you mean, daddy?”

OK! Teaching moment! (Try not to bore the snot out of her.)

 “Being competitive means continually working to be the best you can be at a given activity. Some people like to compete with themselves, some people like to compete with others.

“In either case, it’s about practicing the skills that make you better.

“Do you think that Jamie and Olivia (not their real names) only practice when they’re at foot skills, or do you think they go out into the backyard every day after school and practice their touches, kick the ball around, and practice juggling?”

“They probably practice every day,” Maya admitted.

“Didn’t you tell me that Olivia’s juggling record is over one thousand juggles? Do you think she got that on her first day?”

She shook her head.

“Of course not, she probably practiced juggling every day, starting at just two or three touches before the ball hit the ground. But she understood that juggling would give her better control over the ball and that would in turn make her a better, more competitive player.

“Being competitive means being committed, even when no one is around to watch.”

The Art of Setting Goals

Recently I was listening to a podcast where Pat Flynn was interviewing Srinivas Rao, known to many as Srini.

Srini was talking about the goals he set for his second book. He set a goal of selling one thousand copies, which seemed like a reasonable goal based on his previous book.

As it turned out, Glenn Beck stumbled upon his book, tweeted about it, and he sold a thousand copies in a day. That led to an appearance on the controversial pundit’s show, and he ended up selling over ten thousand copies.

However, upon looking back on his goal setting, he found it faulty.

He couldn’t really set a goal of selling one thousand copies, because unless he bought all the copies himself, he had no real control over the outcome. 

However, Srini had also set another goal: write one thousand words a day, every day.

What impact do you think that had on his writing? Do you think he improved? Found his voice? Was better able to educate, inform and inspire?

If he hadn’t committed to writing one thousand words every day, do you think Glenn Beck would have found his book and been moved enough to share it with his sizable audience?

Maybe, maybe not.

There’s no way to know if your commitment to getting better will have that type of payoff, but it will definitely increase your odds at success.

How can you put this to work for you?

When I talk to people about what their goals are for social media they often talk about more fans, more followers, and from the more enlightened, more leads and sales.

While you can certainly guarantee more fans or followers by buying them through a site like Fiverr, there’s little to no value in these fans. And like Srini, unless you’re going to buy your own products or services, you can’t guarantee that you’ll generate leads or sales from your social media activity.

Instead, you should set goals you can control. You can commit to write one five hundred word post each week. You can commit to posting to your Facebook page twice a day. You can commit to answering one question in your favorite LinkedIn group three times a week.

Most of us find ourselves in competitive environments in business. We’re either competing for business, or search engine rankings, or attention in Facebook’s newsfeed.

While you can’t affect the algorithmic changes that Google or Facebook throw your way, you can work on the things you control.

To be competitive, you need set goals on the activities that you can touch, and commit to work of seeing them through. That may mean one thousand words or one thousand juggles.

What goals are you going to set for yourself in 2014?

Rich Brooks 

Gifts for Geeks – 2013 Edition

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Gifts for GeeksLooking for the perfect gift for the geek in your life this holiday season? Check out this list…we’ve got a gift for every sense.

As has been the case for the past three years, I was on 207, the evening news program that appears on NBC’s Maine affiliates, talking about what gifts you can get your favorite geeks.

Because I had been doing it for the past few years, I decided to mix it up a little, and find a geeky gift for each of the six senses.

“Six?” you say. “But Rich, there’s only five senses.” 

Read on, dear reader. Or, more accurately, watch…either down below or at the 207 website.

And here are those gifts for those who can’t see the video:

Hearing: Bluetooth speakers. (After much research, I personally went with the JBL Charge.) 
 
Sight: Google Glass. At this point, you’re probably going to miss Xmas since it’s by invite only. 
 
Taste: In honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who, I give you the Dr. Who Cook Book.
 
Smell: Have you ever wondered what your favorite RPG character smells like? Wonder no more, thanks to The Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Who wouldn’t want to smell like a Bard (“a ridiculously charismatic blend of bay rum, honey, and white musk mingling with the scent of harp wood and lute strings and the twang of horn brass”) or a Cleric (“rose amber, frankincense, myrrh, champaca flower, Peru balsam, cistus, palisander, cananga, hyssop, and narcissus absolute?”)
 
Touch: This winter we bought my parents those gloves that allow you to use your smart phone with your gloves still on. While that’s cool, it’s nothing compared to a pair of bluetooth enabled gloves that allow you to answer and make phone calls. Wear these and be the coolest kid stuffed into a locker this holiday season. 
 
Spidey: Of course Spidey-Sense is a real sense, true believer. For this, I choose the Marvel-branded Monopoly. While there are actually several Spider-Man branded Monopoly sets available, the art and replacements for the Monopoly railroads–Quinjet, Fantasticar, etc.–make this my personal favorite.
 

Does YOUR High School Have a Social Media Club?

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McAuley High School: Social Media ClubSo much of the news around social media and teens is negative: too much screen time, lack of personal interaction and cyberbullying.

The girls of McAuley High School have turned this on its head by running a Social Media Club that focuses on personal responsibility and developing a marketing plan that helps drive admissions in Maine’s only all-girls Catholic high school.

The idea of creating a Social Media Club came about during a meeting I had with flyte’s long time partner, Braden Buehler of Narrative Design & Ericka Sanborn of McAuley. We were discussing how to reach more potential students, not just their parents, through social media. I had some thoughts, but since I’m not party of the Twilight/Taylor Swift/American Idol demographic, I felt we should ask some of the students which social platforms they were currently using.

From there the idea of developing a Social Media Club–similar to a Chess Club or Math Club–took root. Not only did we want to bring in students on a regular basis to provide insight into what platforms we should be using, but we wanted their help in developing a school-wide code of responsibility for McAuley students on social media.

We wanted to hear directly from them why they chose McAuley, and how we could share those stories through social media.

In fact, we wanted them to run many of the social channels, updating the McAuley Facebook page, tweet out from McAuley, build the McAuley Pinterest boards, and take pictures under the McAuley Instagram account.

In short, we gave them the keys to the car!  (more…)

How to Get Your B2B Company Into the Holiday Spirit

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happy-non-denominational-holidaysThis post is sponsored by Visa Small Business, but the opinions are all mine, and any comments are all yours.

What should you do to prepare for the holidays if your company isn’t a natural fit for seasonal celebrations?

The holidays—Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, you name it—are upon us. Even before Halloween, I see signs of Christmas…at least at the mall.

If you’re selling consumer-focused gifts, chances are you already have a game plan in place. No matter how un-jolly your product is, you’ve figured out the angle to get that chainsaw under the Christmas tree. (Oh, the irony!)

But what if you’re a B2B (business to business) company? What if there’s nothing intrinsically jolly, holy or festive about your product or service? Here are a few options that you can try when it comes to preparing your company for the holiday season.  (more…)

Five Things That Are Killing Your Twitter Engagement

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Are your tweets falling on deaf ears?

Ever wonder how some people can get dozens of favorites, retweets and conversations around their tweets, while yours appear to be playing to an empty concert hall?

If you’re not getting the engagement you want on Twitter, you may be making these easy-to-fix mistakes:

Stop having other platforms publish to Twitter.

Imagine walking into a comedy club in Portland, ME and cracking jokes in Mandarin Chinese. Yes, there may be a few people who get the joke, but most of them will tune you out.

Or breaking into a conversation about the government shutdown and you start talking about your daughter’s soccer team’s chances in the playoffs. While there might be some people who would be happy to have that conversation, most people will just see it as an annoying interruption that is completely off topic.

That’s the same reaction many of us have when we see a post like this in our Twitter feed:

Don't Autopost to Twitter

Even if we’re on Facebook, which most of us are, it’s as if you’re interrupting our conversation. You’re asking us to stop our conversation and engage with you in another room (or channel.)

The same goes for your “I just liked a video on YouTube,” Pinterest updates, and the dreaded, “more for Pieces” astronomy tweets.

The only exception I’ve found is the paper.li tweets, as they’re unique and engage one to three other Twitter through mentions.

This isn’t to say you can’t promote your Facebook activity (or any other channels you’re working on.) Just disconnect the automatic post and tell people in Twitter-speak why they should visit your Facebook page. 

Give People a Reason to Visit Facebook

You’re ignoring the law of reciprocity. 

Don’t expect people to share your content if you’re not first sharing theirs. If your twitter feed looks like a greatest hits of your own blog posts, people aren’t going to be going out of their way to promote your stuff…after all, that appears to be your job!

Instead, find time to promote the cool work or clever tweets of others. Remember that every retweet and mention gets reported back to the originator of that tweet…which puts you right in front of their view finder.

You’re not talking to, you’re talking at.

Take a look at your Twitter feed. Is it filled with you sharing your latest blog posts or podcast episodes? Is it you sharing your brilliant bon mots with an invisible audience? Is it a conversation or a soap box?

If you’re not talking with other people on Twitter, you’re talking at them. You’re treating Twitter like any other one-way, broadcast channel. And while some people do talk back to the TV or movie screen (a cranky blog topic for another time), most of us just change the channel.

Or in the case of Twitter, most of us just stop engaging with you. 

You use the word “follow back,” or worse, the hashtag “teamfollowback” in your bio or tweets.

Using these terms is like spraying yourself with Axe body spray: it smacks of desperation.

If you’re funny, interesting or provide some other type of value to me or my business, I’ll definitely follow you back. If you’re biggest claim to fame is that you’ll follow me back while you ignore me to get other followers, then I’m not interested.

You’re breaking this cardinal law of Twitter.

You have an auto-DM (direct message) for all your new followers. Maybe it’s a link to where they can friend you on Facebook, or a link to your free e-book (oh, you’re SO generous!), or simply a thank you for following, and that you’re really, REALLY looking forward to their tweets.

While this may work on other channels, it comes across as spammy and artificial on Twitter. Cut it out.

Takeaways

Most of these rules can be boiled down to this one law: Be human on Twitter.

Shut off your auto-posts. Shut off your auto-DMs. Retweet others as you wish to be retweeted. Talk to people and not at them.

If this is new and strange to you, try it for 30 days and let me know how it works out.

And if you want to try out some of these new engagement techniques on me, you can engage me on Twitter @therichbrooks.

Rich Brooks
That guy on Twitter

Reflections on Agents of Change – #aoc2013

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Roderick Russell at The Agents of ChangeWhat can you learn at a digital marketing conference?

Last Friday was our second annual Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference. It’s a conference we put on here in Portland, Maine, and stream over the web so people can watch it from all over the world.

The conference is to help business and organizations better market themselves and communicate with their audience through digital channels. We spend the day talking about search, social & mobile marketing. 

This year we got right to the point, by bringing in Roderick Russell, one of only 50 people in the world who can swallow a sword. He blew our minds with fantastic mind-reading tricks and by swallowing a 26″ sword. (Yes, it was a real sword and he really swallowed it.) But you’ll have to buy the on demand digital pass to see it in all its glory. ;) )

Roderick shared with us how to be remarkable in business. One of my favorite takeaways from Roderick’s presentation was when he talked about when he first started out, always trying to just do the most amazing tricks, but not connecting emotionally with his audience. As he said, they were wowed, but they weren’t moved. You need to connect with your audience.

Chris Brogan took the stage next and shared with us how important  it is to fall in love with “not knowing” and not being afraid of “being dumb.” You can learn a lot that way.

Rich Brooks (that’s me) took the stage next. (Brilliant, right? Follow Chris Brogan and a sword swallower at your own conference and people might think you’re someone special, too. ;) )

Judging from the tweets during my session (damn straight I read them, people!) the big takeaway was around publishing higher quality content less often. 

“You can’t beat the Internet on volume, but you can beat it on quality, clarity and perspective.”  (more…)

Getting from Here to There: Navigation Apps You Can’t Live Without

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Rich Brooks Talks Navigation Apps on 207Lost? Looking to get from Point A to Point B? Or maybe you just need to find your way back to your parked car. There’s an app for that.

Donning my tech guru hat (not visible on video), I headed over to the 207 studios the other day to record a segment on navigation apps for your smart phone.

I had been driving down to Boston and someone had been talking about the navigation app Waze, so I decided to give it a try. It works like Google Maps or Apple Maps, but it has a social aspect to it that alerts you to accidents, backups and even speed traps. 

Based on that, I pitched the idea of a navigation app segment on 207 and added in foot navigation (Footpath) and a way to find your parking meter (Honk.)

You can watch the segment on the 207 website or down below.

What are your favorite navigation apps? Let us know in the comment section below!

Rich Brooks
I Can’t Get There From Here

So You Want to Be An Entrepreneur?

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flyte new mediaThis post is sponsored by Visa Small Business, but the opinions are all mine, and any comments are all yours.

Dreaming of making your own hours, being your own boss, and increased job security? Then dream a different dream.

When people ask what I do, I rarely say, “I’m an entrepreneur.”

In fact, never have I said that.

Because when people ask you what you do, they’re asking how you pass your time from 9 – 5…they’re not asking for your philosophical approach to how to make a living.

However, as we continue to talk, I reveal that I have run my own web design and marketing business for the past sixteen plus years and therefore I’m “outed” as an entrepreneur.

Many people get a wistful look in their eyes at this point. I can only imagine they envision me laying on a hammock between palm trees with an open laptop making passive streams of income while beautiful women feed me grapes.

I don’t even like grapes.

They say things like, “it must be wonderful to only work when you want to.” Or, “now that’s job security!” Or, “it must be great not to have a boss.” (Which makes me wonder what my own employees say at cocktail parties when I’m not around.)

All of which, as every entrepreneur reading this knows, is completely insane.  (more…)

How to Channel Your Company Culture Into Your Marketing

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flyte's company cultureThis post is sponsored by Visa Small Business, but the opinions are all mine, and any comments are all yours.

Last month I told a story about how our company About page, with its photos of our staff as little kids, helped attract the right type of clients while dissuading some poor-fit people from hiring us.

I kind of wish I had saved that story, because it fit so well with this topic. ;)

By channeling your company culture, best described as the “soul” of your company, into your marketing, you tend to attract the right type of prospect to you.

Everything your company does externally—in front of customers, prospects, and the general public—is marketing.

Everything you do internally—from company outings to the questions you ask during the hiring process—is your company culture.

Not to get all zen on you, but when we as human beings have our internal beliefs and external behaviors in sync, our life becomes easier. But when they’re not in harmony, we struggle to keep our stories straight, and others see us as insincere and untrustworthy.

The same is true with our business. When we act differently internally—towards our employees and co-workers—than what we preach externally, we come off as disingenuous.

Your company culture and your marketing need to be in sync. The question is, how do you accomplish this?  (more…)