2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The March Prompts

content excellence challenge - march prompts

Hey there, content geniuses — it’s March, and that means we have new prompts for our Content Excellence Challenge.

This is a yearlong community exercise in getting better at what we do … and more productive, so we can do more of it. (Or even accomplish something crazy like having a life.)

So, let’s do this.

The March Creativity Prompt

This month, we’re going to focus on actually doing our keyword research.

Not thinking about it. Not promising ourselves we’ll do it. Actually doing it.

Keyword research isn’t about making search engines happy — it’s about unlocking the language that your audience and customers use. Knowing the words they use will help you understand how they think and feel.

Check out Beth’s post from Tuesday for some simple ways to get started. Then you can move on to using keyword research tools, like Google Trends, AnswerThePublic.com, and the data from your own site analytics.

As you uncover words and phrases for your topic, think about how you’ll gracefully integrate them into your content.

Are the ideas you’re uncovering big enough for a blog series? A series of tutorial videos? Or maybe they’re important enough to become a new category on your site.

Keyword research actually produces a lot of creative ideas you can play with … but first you actually have to get the research done.

The March Productivity Prompt

I’m stealing this one (like I steal so many productivity ideas) from Cal Newport. It comes from his book Deep Work.

You know how Facebook is stealing your life? Or maybe for you, it’s Pinterest, or Instagram, or Twitter. Or it’s a game (ask me about my Pokedex) or some other fun activity.

Fun is wonderful. I recommend fun. But today’s fun activities are scientifically designed by fiends to steal every moment of your life.

To take them back, I loved Newport’s suggestion to schedule your goof-off time.

If you love Pinterest, don’t give up Pinterest. Schedule it. Decide on one or two good times of day to go look at photos of salads in mason jars. Decide how much time you want to spend with that. And put it in your calendar.

Even better, set up a recurring Freedom session, to set limits on the times you can actually access the site.

This can work nicely even if keeping up with social media is part of your work. It’s unhealthy and unproductive to try to keep your attention on a social site every second of the day. And yet … we try.

Instead, try scheduling those sessions. Then, when it’s time for you to have those political fights with your high school friends on Facebook, you’ll be able to really enjoy them.

Let us know what you’re doing!

If you get some solid keyword phrases uncovered this week, let us know in the comments! (You don’t have to let us know what they are, just an “I did it” works.)

And if you decide to take back your time and start scheduling your goof-off periods, let us know that as well.

The post 2017 Content Excellence Challenge: The March Prompts appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Pay Attention to These 5 User Behaviors to Increase SaaS Customer Engagement

Ever bought a survival kit?

It contains supplies to help you during a disaster. Every tool within the kit serves its purpose to sustain your life.

But what about your business? Does it have a survival kit?

Customer engagement is one of the tools to include. SaaS companies must engage with users for business survival and growth.

“Customer engagement can help answer some tough product and marketing questions. The key is to determine which parts of your product different users utilize, and to target users directly for primary market research,” says Guy Nirpaz, CEO and co-founder of Totango.

Your team can monitor user behavior to pinpoint friction points, correct product mistakes, and prevent unwanted cancellations. So pay attention to these five user behaviors below.

1. When Users Miss the Initial Onboarding Step

Teams spend weeks (sometimes months) nurturing leads into customers. Then, once the sale happens, some team members automatically move to the next prospect in line.

As a result, the new customer is left to navigate your platform alone and wrestles with how to solve their own problems. This is a lose-lose situation for everyone involved.

Your team’s time and effort around onboarding will determine the rest of the brand-customer relationship. It’s important to welcome customers, get them acquainted with your application, and show them how to gain value quickly.

The small wins count when onboarding customers. They subscribed to your service to receive a solution. If that goal isn’t achieved, you may receive negative feedback from an irate customer, or worse, a cancellation notice.

“Keeping motivation high is especially crucial if your product’s activation event is inherently difficult or time-consuming. It’s much easier to ask people to complete one small thing at a time than to make one giant commitment,” writes Julia Chen, blog editor at Appcues.

Study your onboarding analytics to track users’ sessions per day and the in-app milestones completed. You want to detect inactivity early.

If you notice customers need extra help, screen overlays are an effective way to guide customers in the right direction. Check out this example from Slack.


Welcome your new customers with open arms. Give them an extra boost of support to see the value in your product.

2. When Users Remain Inactive in Your Platform

Because of our ability to form habits, people are somewhat predictable. We might sit in the same seat on the bus or order the same latte from Starbucks every day.

So when customers begin to use our products and then stop consumption, we notice the change in their behavior. It’s especially noticeable when it adversely impacts growth.

Behavioral analytics tools like Kissmetrics uncovers when users stop logging into their accounts or when customers fail to open your customer success emails. Your team’s mission is to find the reason for their lack of engagement.

The causes for inactivity may include software difficulty, a shift in preferences, or even life distractions. More often than not, inactive users reflect your team’s inability to engage with the individual. You must take a proactive approach before the customer becomes disinterested.

Zapier sends its customers re-engagement emails. The company offers tools to help the user succeed and reminds the person about product benefits.

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Take charge during customers’ inactive periods. Provide them with a compelling reason to interact with your platform again.

3. When Users Submit Negative Feedback

Negative feedback isn’t awful as some companies may think. It’s receiving no feedback that should frighten SaaS businesses.

When consumers are dissatisfied, they usually quit buying without telling you why. That’s more harmful because you don’t know how to improve your services. You’re left guessing about what to do next.

So welcome all feedback—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Consider it a competitive advantage to have all this information at your fingertips. Plus, it will help you spot new trends to stay relevant in this dynamic market.

“Don’t always assume that negative reviews can only be a disadvantage to your business. Be open to customer input and you might learn something about how your competitors do things right that you’re doing wrong,” states Forbes contributor Steve Olenski.

To analyze the feedback, tag each message with predetermined criteria, like product types or support issues. Then, comb through the comments for general themes of negativity. This technique will expose your priorities.

For instance, if customer service is the problem, you may need to analyze your response times and the quality of your messages.

Dimensional Research found that customers considered a customer service experience to be good when there was a quick resolution to the problem. So you could revamp the experience in a manner that meets (and exceeds) your customer’s expectations.

Negative feedback isn’t a setback. Transform customer frustration into business results.

4. When Users Avoid Training Resources

Trying something new often brings excitement and eagerness to learn. New customers want to know how to turn their brand new tool into a valuable asset.

It should concern your team when users aren’t actively engaging with your training resources. If you notice a decrease in your video replays, content hub page views, or ebook downloads, it’s time to examine the cause of the decline.

It may be that the educational materials aren’t conveniently accessible. Customers don’t know where to go for help.

Or customers may consider your content boring and too hard to digest. If that’s the case, try different types of training— customer webinars, mini-courses, and AMAs—to educate users about your product.

Wrike hosts live webinars to speak with their customers directly. It’s a chance for users to get their questions answered in real-time.

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Take a second look at why customers avoid your resources. You might be standing in the way of customer success.

5. When Users Cancel Their Subscriptions

For some teams, it’s a dreadful experience receiving a cancellation notification from a customer. Questions flare up: What happened? What can we do better?

Before you bombard the customer with a slew of questions, work with your team to develop a process for handling all subscription cancellations. It will help you create a standard benchmark for evaluating every situation.

You shouldn’t dwell on cancellations. Instead, focus on their reasons for leaving. SaaS experts advocate that cancellations don’t equate to churn. So you still may have an opportunity to win back customers.

Use subscription cancellations as a tool to learn hard lessons from your team’s mistakes. Surveys are an effective method to collect this data.

“One of the best tactics that you can use to win back your cancelled customers is by using cancellation surveys, but just sending out a survey itself won’t provide a lot of results. Basic unplanned surveys will result in low response rates and inaccurate results,” says Wilson Peng, cofounder of YesInsights.

Developing a system for identifying the problem to find the real reason behind the cancellation. Experiment with asking different questions and conduct split testing on the best times to ask users to submit a cancellation survey. You may even want to test whether or not making the form field mandatory increases your response rate.

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It’s always a good time to learn from your errors. Change your perception around cancellations by focusing on how you can improve.

A Watchful Eye

For your SaaS to survive (and thrive), customer engagement is an essential element to your business strategy. But it’s not enough to say it, your team must execute.

Monitoring user behavior offers insight on how to engage with customers. This newfound knowledge prepares your business for future disasters.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

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3 free AdWords testing tools to adopt today

Columnist Todd Saunders discusses the importance of data-fueled decision-making with regard to ad copy and suggests a few tools to help you test and optimize your search ads.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

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Everybody’s Working for the Weekday

"Find the space where hard work and fun coexist." – Stefanie Flaxman

Why do we spend so much time researching, creating, optimizing, and promoting our content?

“Geez, Stefanie. That’s a silly question,” you might be thinking. “You of all people should know that content marketing helps with our business goals. In fact, you wrote about that last week.”

And you’d be absolutely correct.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today. I want to look at the personal motivations and goals of people who decide to become writers and content marketers — people like you.

The eye-roll heard round the world

When I hear people glamorize writing as a profession, I buy a one-way airplane ticket to Eye-roll-Ville and fly high above the fantasy that writing is a special job.

Writing is hard work and always incomplete.

Why would someone think it’s exciting and “cool” to be a writer?

That’s the question that always brings me back down to Earth because the answer is … being a writer is actually that exciting and cool. I need to remember that.

The hard work part is still real, but the personal joy writing produces is incomparable. “Fulfilling” is an understatement.

Perhaps the most driven to communicate clearly, artists who are writers take on many different roles. They’re teachers, mentors, philosophers, trailblazers, revolutionaries.

They don’t just “do work,” they love the work they do.

Personal goals can fuel business goals

In the 1981 hit “Working for the Weekend” by Loverboy, the sentiment is that we have to get through the week. The weekend is what we look forward to, our reward.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the weekend. And it may seem a bit absurd to dissect the chorus of a lighthearted pop song, but the point I want to highlight is:

If we spend the majority of our time working during the week, shouldn’t we strive to make that time enjoyable as well?

I also support taking breaks during your workday and making it a priority to not get burned out, but those aspects aside, I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of loving the work you do so much that you’re not desperate for an escape.

Writers and content marketers tend to gravitate toward that intersection of personal and business goals.

They first get clear on the “why” that gets them out of bed in the morning and carries them to work each day, and then take steps so that some part of their daily reality (even if it’s not their full-time job) consists of progress that helps them achieve their desired lifestyle.

They find the space where hard work and fun coexist.

So, if you’d like to spend more of your time “working for the weekday,” let’s talk about getting clear on how you can start moving in that direction.

Answer these 3 questions to get clear on what you want

Before a content marketer writes her first word to promote a product or service, that product or service had to be born. Someone had to decide to build something that solves a problem.

In a notebook, write down these three categories across the top of a piece of paper:

  • What do I love to do?
  • What do people need related to those interests?
  • What solutions can I offer that will help establish me as an authority?

Jot down anything that comes to mind for each question.

Don’t hold back here because sometimes you won’t see a brilliant connection between all three categories that will become your content, product, or service concept until you release all of your ideas and get them written down.

I always go through this process with a pen and paper because it’s supposed to be messy. A digital document — that allows you to seamlessly delete some of your answers into oblivion — is too clean and organized for the madness that is necessary to have a breakthrough.

Self-indulgence as either self-care or self-harm

Is doing work you love self-indulgent and worthy of criticism?

Like anyone who chooses to pursue a career path that makes them happy should feel a little guilty … like what makes them so special that they can do work they find fun while other people are stuck at jobs that make them unhappy?

Consider this: self-harm is just as self-indulgent as self-care, but self-harm is often viewed as much more acceptable.

Staying at a job you dislike. Sleeping too little. Drinking too much alcohol. Eating an unhealthy diet. Normalizing all of those choices as just a part of modern life makes taking care of your well-being almost seem out of the ordinary.

Let’s say any self-indulgent action is either considered self-care or self-harm.

Self-care would be an action that helps support long-term happiness, while self-harm would be an action that satisfies a need and/or briefly produces joy, but does not support sustainable contentment.

When someone feels safer on the self-harm side of self-indulgence, clinging to the belief that happiness only occurs in fleeting moments and that the majority of existence is suffering … that’s a choice.

And if we’re willing to overlook those self-harm actions as understandable and necessary to navigate through life, then no one should be criticized for valuing self-care actions and taking the time to explore the interests they want to pursue professionally that would help them serve others.

Help people discover what you have to offer

Passionate writers want to reach everyone who will benefit from their work.

The thoughtful content on your website that you research, create, optimize, and promote is a reflection of your passion — and it attracts the people you aim to serve.

Do you love your work? If not, what can you do today to start moving toward a more fulfilling career? Commit to your next step in the comments below.

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