The A’s declined the $5.75 million option on left-handed reliever Jake Diekman. Diekman came to Oakland at the trade deadline from Kansas City with an 0-6 record and 4.75 ERA. He was sometimes unhittable, but inconsistent with walk issues in his time with the A’s, drawing up a 4.43 ERA in 28 games.The A’s now have five players on the books for 2020 (Petit, Joakim Soria, Khris Davis, Stephen Piscotty and Mike Fiers) totaling in $42 million committed money. There are 12 players eligible for arbitration.SEASON PASS DIGITAL OFFERIf you have not already, we strongly encourage you to sign up for a digital subscription, which gives you access to all content on the Mercury News and East Bay Times websites. With your support, we can continue bringing these stories — and much more — to your screens. Here’s where to sign up for the season pass: Mercury News, East Bay Times. The Oakland A’s exercised their $5.5 million option on right-handed reliever Yusmeiro Petit, in perhaps what was one of the easier decisions for the organization this offseason.Petit had a 2.71 ERA and and a .194 opponents batting average in 83.1 innings. Perhaps the most telling stat: Petit appeared in 80 games, which led the American League.He was manager Bob Melvin’s go-to guy, never wavering in his dominance and resilience even in the face of adversity. Petit’s father, Alberto, died in September. Complicated travel plans had Petit decide to forgo a trip to his hometown of Maracaibo, Venezuela, and stay with the team.He pitched five days later. His teammates constantly spoke of his leadership skills. MLB Winter Meetings: A’s trade for Phillies’ Rule 5 pick in transaction flurry Player to be named later in A’s Jurickson Profar trade revealed Former Oakland A’s lefty Brett Anderson finds new home with Brewers What A’s winter ball performances can tell us about the second base race MLB Winter Meetings: A’s lose All-Star closer, Coliseum to add more netting Related Articles
“My children understand the legacy they have inherited from Madiba,” says Ricky Januarie. (Image: Ricky Januarie) • Yase Godlo Manager: Mandela Day and Outreach Nelson Mandela centre of Memory +27 11 547 5600 • The world pays tribute to a great man • Sport in South Africa • SA optimistic about 2015 rugby • Rugby World Cup: back the Boks • Look how far we’ve come: 20 years of human rightsSulaiman PhilipEveryone has a memory bank of images: Nelson Mandela, fist clenched, walking to freedom from Victor Verster Prison; the limp and lifeless body of Hector Pieterson being carried by a fellow pupil; the queues of South Africans waiting to vote in 1994. For sports mad South Africans there is the picture of Mandela handing the Rugby World Cup trophy to Francois Pienaar.There is another image from July 2008, less famous but just as moving for Springbok fans. It is of scrumhalf Ricky Januarie diving over the try line in Dunedin, in New Zealand, to give South Africa its first win in the Land of the Big Cloud in 10 years. It was a riotously creative piece of skill that made the stocky scrumhalf from Hopefield, a town on the road between Malmesbury and Vredenburg in Western Cape, a hero to millions of rugby fans.Today he lives in Lyon, France, playing rugby and raising his young family. The phone rings and a young voice peeps, “Oui“. The melange of French and Afrikaans accents belongs to Taytim, Januarie’s oldest daughter.It’s a worry he will come to admit: “No not so much a worry as a battle to get my girls to speak Afrikaans. Maybe it will be easier with my son.” The father of two girls, Januarie’s son was born on June 17, by caesarean section, and his excitement shines.Januarie and his family have lived in Lyon since 2011; his youngest daughter was just a year old at the time. With children it is easier, more important, to become part of a community, he explains. He reminds his daughters of their heritage but has encouraged them to make friends outside the circle of South African rugby families in France. “We raise our kids as we would in South Africa but we get to have this experience together. It has enriched our home life.” “I got to play for my country because of the sacrifices of men like Mandela. (Image: Ricky Januarie)Moment of freedomAs a rugby-mad 13-year-old, Januarie watched Mandela hand Pienaar the Webb Ellis Trophy to crown the Springboks champions of the rugby world. Till that moment Mandela had been an abstract hero who had had something to do with winning freedom for people who looked like him. “Seeing Mandela wearing a Springbok jersey for me was the moment freedom became a reality. I knew that I was free to earn the right to wear that jersey.”The family’s deeply held Christian belief is the foundation for teaching their children that each and every person they meet is created by God. “Mandela was a living example of that. We could point to him and say ‘Live your life like that, in the spirit of goodness.’ Colour does not matter at all, like Mandela love your neighbour as you would want to be loved.“When Mandela died I told Taytim and Taslynn it was his sacrifice that made their life possible,” he continues. His daughters – aged six and four – are still too young to understand how Mandela’s sacrifice made their father’s career possible, but the Januaries make a point of answering their questions truthfully.South African rugby talent is seeded throughout the French league, most being white and Afrikaans-speaking, and they have built a community. For some, Mandela’s death raised the spectre of an old fear – now that the old man was gone white South Africans had to fear violence and death again.Ending hatred“Taytim picked up on those fears from friends and ask me if we would be able to go home again if there was going to be fighting. They were worried for their grandparents, for their cousins. Laken [Januarie’s wife] and I sat them down and explained that Mandela put a stop to the hatred. He laid peace at our feet and that is why we are all sad.”The Januaries and the other players in France were glued to their TV screens, along with other South Africans and the rest of the world, mourning his death. As other players were doing, the TV coverage was an opportunity to explain to his children why Mandela’s life was one on which to model theirs. “Our church does a lot of outreach but on Mandela Day we celebrate his example by working with children. We hand out clothing and shoes. I think our girls understand better now why it’s such a special thing they help with.”The Januaries are embedded in Lyon. As their French has improved – Januarie speaks fluently – their social circle has expanded beyond the rugby club. And, as much as they would like to be in South Africa to celebrate this year’s extra special Nelson Mandela Day with family and friends, they are living the spirit of the man in their new hometown. “Every day, Laken passes a man in a wheelchair. This year we will invite him into our home, feed him and see if there is any other way that we can help him.”Januarie’s fondest rugby memory was a moment conjured by angels. It was a seven-second long passage of rugby that celebrated the joie de vivre, dexterity and extravagance of talent he brought to the game. Down to 14 men, trailing by five points, Januarie broke from a ruck 10 metres from New Zealand’s try line. He slippered the ball over Leon Macdonald, watched it bounce into his arms and dove over to tie the score. It was a moment that stands above all others in the history of the Tri-Nations tournament.“You know, one day my children will ask me if it was as special as they say. Of course I will say yes but more importantly I will say it’s less special than the life of the man who made that moment possible, Nelson Mandela.”
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It isn’t very often that a successful farm story begins off of the farm, but for the 2015 Charles Boyles Master Shepherd of the Year, it does.Cynthia Koonce of Blue Heron Farm in Lisbon began with a small flock in Maryland with no agriculture background to speak of and eventually moved her operation of 35 sheep to the rugged terrain in the northeast part of the Buckeye State in Columbiana County.“We bought this place 25 years ago,” Koonce said. “It was my dream farm with 225 acres on a lake.”Blue Heron Farm now has 350 ewes, including replacements and the farm is mainly used for lamb production.“I pride myself on my lamb,” Koonce said. “I think we produce the best carcass in the state.”Getting to that level of production didn’t just happen. Koonce has taken many opportunities to educate herself on the industry trends and is always willing to learn something new to make her farm better.“Whether it be a video that ASI puts out, or traveling to the ASI convention or to other parts of the world, I try to take it all in,” Koonce said. “I like to think that because of that extra effort that I am innovative. Part of that is because I wasn’t raised in a farm family.“When we bought our first farm 50 years ago, that was the first exposure I ever had to livestock and I never had an older generation of farmers to kind of dictate what I did on the farm. I just learn by doing, I guess.”One of the early challenges with the acreage that Blue Heron Farm settled on in Ohio was that the land had been heavily stripped years earlier and what was left from mining was not pretty.“It must have been a mess at the time it was stripped,” Koonce said. “From what I have heard and what I have seen on parts of this piece of ground, it was a real mess.”That meant a good bit of effort just to get the land fit for grazing, which was tricky when it came to keeping the land’s multiple waterways clean and keeping the lake neighbors happy downstream.“To me, it has always been a matter of common sense,” Koonce said. “You don’t want any manure running down any streams that are on your property. Fortunately, most of the runoff here is from the woods, but because some waterways are from the pasture, I don’t do crops as a rule.”When the budget allowed, Koonce has put down some lime and fertilizer to keep her pastures up. Rotational grazing has also been very beneficial.Over the years, neighbors have taken note of what Blue Heron Farm has done to protect the environment. Environmental success on Koonce’s property has helped shape he surrounding properties, which has impacted the watershed in a positive way.“A good portion of the land around here is not farmed in the traditional sense,” Koonce said. “It’s grazing and tree farms. I think that is way that it should be so we aren’t contributing to the pollution of our own lake.”Koonce has loved being a part of the sheep industry and has traveled the world meeting with other sheep producers to learn and to teach.“I like meeting sheep people and dealing with sheep people and trading stories with the old guys,” she said. “I really enjoy the personalities of sheep people. Sheep people are a lot alike anywhere in the world.”Koonce’s success in the industry is certainly a useful tool and a roadmap for other farmers or future farmers interested in starting a sheep farm from scratch.“You have to be very selective on the animals that you keep and you have to be sure you put the right genetics with the conditions that you plan on raising a flock in,” said Roger A. High, executive director of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. “Cynthia has done an ideal job of doing just that in the hills of Columbiana County and has managed her 350 ewes very successfully over the years.”As much as Koonce has led the sheep industry on the farm, she has shown the same type of leadership in the OSIA boardroom.“She brings a fresh, new perspective to our meetings,” High said. “She has been able to collect a lot of information both on a national and international scale and she finds ways to utilize those ideas here in Ohio.”Koonce isn’t one to keep secrets to her success at Blue Heron Farm and her approach to farming is something she openly shares with others.“Cynthia is very smart and she speaks her mind,” said Shawn Ray, president of the Ohio Sheep Improvement Association. “She knows the subject matter, not by just what she practices, but by what she’s read, seen and learned and when we get into a discussion, she makes people think about what is right and what is wrong. With her farm in northeast Ohio, she is about as far away as she can get from a sheep meeting and she still keeps up great attendance and you have to appreciate her dedication to the industry and the organization. “In a room full of sheep farmers at OSIA meetings, one glaring difference with Koonce is that she brings a different viewpoint because she was not born into the business.“She has a completely different perspective from all of us that grew up around sheep and have been around them all of our life,” said Daryl Clark, an OSIA board member who farms in Muskingum County. “She comes at this industry from a different direction and as a result of that she looks at aspects of what we do that others wouldn’t notice.“Sometimes when we grow up on a farm we maybe get to the point where we are looking too much at some of the financial aspects and she has a 360-degree perspective that I really appreciate about her.”Koonce received her Charles Boyles Master Shepherd of the Year honor on Dec. 12 at the 2015 Buckeye Shepherd’s Symposium in Wooster.
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 Marketing Topics: As we’ve said before on this blog, the various channels you leverage in your overall marketing strategy should work in tandem, not in silos. When individual marketing channels — social media, blogging, email, search, etc. — work together to promote an offer, promotion, or even a full-blown campaign, they can generate even better results than they would have on an individual level.Email, for example, is one of those channels that is most powerful when it’s integrated with the rest of your marketing efforts. So let’s review some of the different ways you can achieve integration between email and other marketing assets , such as search, social media, mobile, and analytics. Email & Social Media Integration Study after study shows that email strategies that integrate social media lead to better results. According to Aberdeen Research, 65% of the top 20% of B2B marketers in social media lead generation integrate email with social media, compared to the industry average of 51% .Integrating social media into your email strategy is easier than you might think. Here are some tactics to help you get started: Add Social Media Sharing Buttons to Your Emails Adding social media sharing and follow buttons to your emails will extend the reach of your email sends beyond the recipients in your database, expanding the visibility of your content and brand. Make social media buttons a part of your email templates so recipients can easily share your email content with their individual networks. Leverage Social Media Insights for Email Sends Send targeted emails to subscribers who have mentioned you in social media. Using integrated marketing analytics ( like HubSpot’s ), you should be able to see a list of email subscribers and leads who have mentioned your company on Twitter. In addition to responding to those highly engaged leads via social media, you could also send them a follow-up email with targeted information and content. Grow Your Email List Through Social Media Leverage your social media presence to give followers a reason to subscribe to your email list. For example, consider placing a call-to-action on your Facebook page or in a dedicated Facebook page tab . Make sure you demonstrate the clear benefits of your email subscription so you can convert your social media followers into subscribers. Email & Search Integration It’s true: Optimized emails can help you get found in search. Many email tools, like HubSpot , enable you to create and host HTML versions of your emails on the web for people who are having trouble viewing email in their inbox. Not only is this web-based version beneficial for usability, but it also helps you boost your SEO. Knowing that an online archive of your email will exist, make sure your email content follows the same SEO best practices as your website and other content does. Use your best keywords and anchor text when constructing the body of the message. Ensure all images have alt tags and include social media sharing buttons to stretch the content further. Originally published May 9, 2012 12:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Email & Mobile Integration According to Return Path, 16% of all emails are opened on mobile devices , and this number can rise to 50% for some companies and industries . Creating a strategy that reflects the changing way recipients open and read emails is only going to increase in importance in the coming years. So what does it take to make your email strategy mobile?Test your email templates to see how they comes across on different mobile devices.Give your calls-to-action (CTAs) wiggle room – make sure buttons and links are easy to click for readers using touch screens.Offer both plain text and HTML versions of your email .Use descriptive alt text with all your images in case they don’t display. Optimize for mobile on the landing pages and forms your email links to.HubSpot’s marketing software automatically optimizes your emails and landing pages for mobile viewing, so if you are a customer, you’re all set! This article is an excerpt from our free ebook, The Complete Guide to Optimizing Email Marketing for Conversions . Learn more about how to increase the ROI of your email marketing by downloading the ebook here . Email & Analytics Integration Today’s marketing should extend well beyond the boundaries of your website. As a result, individual analytics for your website, social media, email, and other channels just aren’t enough anymore. A multichannel view enables you to see how prospects are navigating their experience with you across various marketing properties. Marketing analytics data can answer cross-channel questions, such as: How many people clicked through on your email but didn’t convert?Of the people who converted on your website, how many of them came from social media?How many opened your last email message?Which results in more leads: PPC or organic search, email or social?Not only do integrated analytics reports show you the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, but they also help you get more targeted in your email sends. According to B2B Magazine, 37% of B2B marketers say lack of user data is the major obstacle to effective segment targeting . By exchanging single channel analytics for integrated marketing analytics, you can begin to segment your mailing list and send communications based on the lead’s history of downloads and pages viewed.In the screenshot below (of HubSpot’s Sources tool ), you will see that email and its analytics are only one piece of the inbound marketing puzzle. You need to look at the entire context in order to make smart decisions on segmentation and nurturing.
As you can see, on-page SEO is only part of the equation. It helps you get indexed by Google, but it’s not the only thing you need to do to get on page one of google.co.uk. So to make sure you’re also strengthening your website’s off-page SEO, in this post we’ll discuss a few link-building best practices for targeting a UK-based audience. Focus Your SEO Efforts on Google Before we get into some specific link-building recommendations, make sure you’re considering focusing on Google in your UK SEO targeting strategy. According to Hitwise , Google has a search engine market share of approximately 90% in the UK , with Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com trailing far behind. So it’s worth your time to focus on Google when measuring the results of your SEO efforts. Topics: Okay, now let’s get into some off-page SEO best practices for targeting a UK-based audience … Guest Blog for UK-Based Blogs Google determines your rank for different search terms based on the number and quality of the inbound links pointing to your website. So if you want your site to rank well on google.co.uk, generating inbound links from sites on a .co.uk domain will help you more than inbound links you might get from another domain extension, such as .ie or .de. Guest blogging can be a great strategy for generating inbound links , since the sites you blog for will often let you include a few inbound links back to your own website. Just make sure you’re optimizing these links with appropriate, keyword-rich anchor text for the maximum SEO benefit.While there’s nothing wrong with blogging on blogs outside the UK, if you’re targeting an audience in the UK and your goal is to rise in google.co.uk’s search rankings, then you should aim to guest blog for blogs that are also on the .co.uk domain. Identify the Right Blogs to Target First, m ake a list of all the top blogs in the UK that are relevant to your industry. To find relevant blogs in your industry that have a .co.uk extension and are actively accepting guest blog submissions, do a Google site search for: site:.co.uk your keyword “guest post” site:.co.uk your keyword “guest blog” Just replace your keyword with a keyword you’d like to blog about. This query will lead you either to a guest blog post submission page or a post written by a guest blogger on websites with the .co.uk domain so you know those websites accept guest blogging submissions. Participate in Comment Threads and Communities in Your Industry Before you pitch a guest blog post, it’s also a good idea to comment on the blog you’re targeting and connect/establish a relationship with the blog’s manager on Twitter. This will help you become a familiar name/face, so that when you do pitch the blog manager about your guest post, he or she will already know who you are.Even if you don’t end up getting accepted as a guest blogger, establishing relationships with other UK bloggers will make them aware of your existence — and your blog. And any inbound links you naturally accrue from these influential bloggers, or any tweets in which they share links to your content, will help to boost your SEO efforts. Remember: Social media now directly impacts your website’s SEO , so it’s well worth your time to create a Twitter list that includes influential bloggers in your industry, and interact with them regularly. Pitch Your Guest Post Before pitching your guest post to a blog manager, familiarize yourself with the content on their blog. What kinds of posts do they typically accept? What topics do they blog about? Is their audience B2B or B2C? This will help you pitch the right type of blog post, which will increase your likelihood of getting accepted. For more information about following guest blogging best practices, including tips on crafting the perfect guest blogging pitch, check out our article, ” 17 Foolish Mistakes to Avoid as a Guest Blogger .” Tailor Your Content to Appeal to a UK-Based Audience Make sure you’re creating interesting and valuable content that’s particularly relevant to your audience in the UK. Just like any great marketing content, your UK-targeted content needs to address the interests of and provide solutions to the problems your UK audience has. Consider the buyer persona(s) of your target UK audience. How can you help them? What is the latest industry news in the UK, and how does it impact them specifically? There are several other things to consider to ensure that your content is relevant to a UK audience. These tips may require some additional effort if you don’t live in the UK, but they’re important considerations to make: Spelling Nuances: Favorite is spelled ‘favourite,’ optimize is spelled ‘optimise,’ and so forth. Know which words to pay attention to , and edit their spellings accordingly. Pop Culture References: If you’re making an analogy or providing an example that incorporates a pop culture reference, make sure your audience in the UK will ‘get’ it. Industry News: If you’re writing an article about how your industry has been impacted by some recent news in a country outside the UK, make sure it applies to your UK audience as well. Events: Furthermore, think twice before covering an event that happens outside the UK. If it was inaccessible to your audience, will they even care about it? Aim to Create In-Depth, Valuable, and High-Quality Content No matter which audience you’re targeting, it’s now more important than ever to focus on creating high-quality content. So rather than pumping out tons of subpar content, spend the time to craft valuable, high-quality pieces of content every single time. Google’s Panda update has made content quality an extremely important factor for marketers , as search engines are starting to reward sites with high-quality content with better rankings, and penalize websites with low-quality content . Not only does high-quality, insightful content attract more views, but it is also more likely to naturally to attract inbound links as well as social media shares — both of which are factors that strongly influence Google’s search ranking algorithm.When creating content, keep the following attributes of high-quality content in mind — which we elaborate on in this blog post : It’s helpful or fulfills an interest/need for your target audience. Above all, make sure your content is helpful and valuable to your UK readers. Have you included all of the information they need to be successful at whatever it is you’re trying to teach them or inform them about? It’s interesting. Don’t underestimate the value of entertainment. Make sure your content is not only helpful but also interesting to read, rather than sounding like technical documentation. Keep readers engaged and entertained, too. It’s well-written. High-quality content doesn’t just hit on the right ideas and points, but it’s also well-written. Don’t overlook the importance of great copywriting . In addition, use data to support your points when appropriate, and attribute your sources with the proper citation . What other link-building tips do you have for getting found in search by a UK audience ? When measuring your results, you can use a tool like HubSpot’s Keyword tool to show you two things: how much traffic you’re generating for your target keywords, and your rank in Google for those keywords. Is your company based in the United Kingdom? Does your business target an audience in the UK? If so, there are several SEO strategies you should be adopting so you can rise in the rankings of google.co.uk, and thus, attract more traffic from your audience in the UK. To help you understand the best SEO tips for targeting a UK audience, we’ve developed a helpful, free tip sheet — 10 Quick SEO Tips to Target a UK Audience — that you can download, print, and keep handy. On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO Our cheat sheet includes tips specifically for targeting a UK-based audience in respect to two types of SEO strategies: On-Page SEO Strategies: This includes optimizing the pages on your website for search, such as adding keywords to your URL structures, your page titles, your header tags, and so on. Off-Page SEO Strategies: This primarily involves generating inbound links from other websites into yours — to signal to search engines that you have an authoritative website.Keep in mind that on-page elements are much easier to optimize for because you have direct control over your own website. And while these on-page SEO steps are definitely important, they’re usually not enough to get to the first page of Google. Here’s why … When you search engine optimize your on-page elements , it helps Google and other search engines understand what your web page is all about. Search engines then index your page by the keywords you used on that page. Originally published Jan 23, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 But on-page elements aren’t the only thing search engines take into consideration. When other websites link to you (AKA inbound links ), it helps Google and other search engines understand that your content is remarkable, and that your website is authoritative. And because search engines want to be as helpful as possible to its users, they only want remarkable content on page one of their search engine results. As a result, the more inbound links you have pointing to your site, the more authoritative search engines will think your website is, the better they’ll rank your pages, and the more prominently they will display you in their search engine results pages (SERPs). Link Building 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 Aug 3, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Have you ever wondered what the future of business will look like? Maybe you figured it’s going to be something like business in the past: buy stuff, sell stuff, try to make a profit by selling stuff for more than it cost you to make it, building a better mousetrap, winning friends and influencing people, crossing the chasm, riding the long tail to the tipping point with the other outliers, going from good to great, and dealing with cheese that keeps moving around.The future of business won’t be like that. The future of business is all about dazzling people with amazing customer experiences, says Brian Solis, whose new book, What’s the Future of Business? Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences, has a cover with the letters “WTF” in huge block letters — a hint, perhaps, that this is not going to be some ordinary business book, but rather a radical manifesto about change, innovation, and disruption. It’s business with a dash of irreverence and punk rock thrown in, a little sneer that says, Look, people, the world has changed, there’s this thing called social media, have you heard of it? In this new world, the marketing of products becomes as important as the products themselves. Marketers are the ones who create experiences. Which means suddenly marketers stand at center stage, instead of off in the wings. Suddenly all eyes are on you. Are you ready for your close-up? Read this book and you will be.The Influencers’ InfluencerWho is this Brian Solis? Folks at HubSpot know him as a pal who will be speaking at our INBOUND conference this August alongside Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, and Nate Silver. But according to the book jacket, Solis is “globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in new media,” as well as a “digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist.” He’s an influencer’s influencer, whose blog, BrianSolis.com, is considered a must-read for marketers. Solis is a rare web intellectual, a guy who can melt your brain on Twitter but can also think and write convincingly in chunks of more than 140 characters. At INBOUND, Brian will talk about how the pace of innovation has sped up and impacted the pace of change within business overall, and probably expand upon the ideas presented in his book.His Bold IdeasBut what is the book about? It has one big takeaway. Companies are on a journey of transformation. We’re living in an age of digital Darwinism where you must innovate or die, all because consumers are more empowered than ever with the internet at their disposal.And in this new age, Solis argues that we shouldn’t segment these consumers by age — Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z, Boomers, and Matures. Instead, we should use “Generation C,” in which the C stands for Connected. Generation C serves as umbrella to describe consumers who are active on the internet and social media, regardless of age. “Gen C is not an age group — it is a way of life,” he proclaims.In this worldview, the binary is between those who are Connected and those who are Not Connected. The chief distinction is that, “To Gen C, experience is everything. What they feel about your products and services now and over time is shared through these connected networks.” The challenge for brands is to design the experience that those people will have, and “design the journey that they will embark on.”Too many companies are using social media but still not really talking to customers — and that’s partly why they fail to deliver a complete experience, Solis asserts. Presumably these companies deserve points for trying, and it’s nice that they’ve hired someone to run their Twitter feed, but they’re not making the most of the medium. To paraphrase the late great Steve Jobs: You’re doing it wrong. Solis shows you how to do it right.What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences is an ambitious and ultimately optimistic look at the challenges companies face as they adapt to a digital world, a world where empowered and ever more demanding consumers bring to each transaction a new set of expectations. It’s not just a how-to book, though plenty of advice is offered. Rather it is a call to arms, a call to action, a wake-up call to brands in every industry, a book that will help anyone in marketing do a better job of surfing the storm of change that surrounds us. A must read.Also, don’t forget to come see Brian Solis speak at the INBOUND conference Aug. 19–22 in good old Boston.Image credit: Brian Solis 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 Marketing Trends
Topics: You may know it as ham. Or bacon (spelled ‘bacn’). I guess email marketers have a penchant for meat products.Most people, however, just call it graymail.Never heard of it? I hadn’t either, until a coworker casually dropped it in conversation and left me with a few dozen follow-up questions. Here’s what I learned.What is graymail?Graymail is email you opted in to receive, but don’t really want.For instance, you know when you go shopping, buy a few things, and during the checkout process someone asks you for your email address so they can send you deals? The subsequent emails you get from them are often a type of graymail. You technically opted in to receive those emails, but most people grow weary of them and don’t engage with them.ISPs know these messages are graymail based on recipient engagement — or lack thereof. So if you open an email from a retailer — and then never open or engage with their subsequent 50 or so emails — it’s a good sign that it’s graymail.Over time, ISPs learn what you consider graymail based on your actions — and the actions of all recipients across email sent from that domain — so it gets smarter with categorization.What isn’t graymail?Again, graymail isn’t spam. It’s content that’s perceived as spam-like, in that recipients often don’t want the email and may mark it as spam out of annoyance — but it doesn’t meet the legal definition of spam.It’s also not the same as graylisting, a term you may have heard a few times. Graylisting refers to the idea that ISPs might not deliver an entire batch of mail all at once if they don’t trust your IP. So let’s say you just got a new dedicated IP and want to send out 100,000 emails — they might accept some of those emails, graylist the others, and send the remainder when they know it’s safe to deliver messages from you.Graymail and graylisting, however, aren’t directly related — they just both have gray in the name.Where does graymail go?So you’ve got all this graymail out there — where does it go?A lot of companies have come up with products specifically to address graymail. That’s what Gmail’s Priority Inbox is, for instance. Hotmail actually helped coin the graymail term and created a product to address it, as well.If your message is identified as graymail, it will likely get routed to one of the graymail products — like your Promotions folder, for instance. So it got delivered … but it might not get seen.How does graymail affect email marketers?Graymail is another reason to do what good email marketers already do: focus on segmentation, personalization, and engagement. You should:Use post-send engagement data to develop a strategy for combatting the prospect that graymail might route your messages into other inbox tabs and folders.Test your email send frequency.Develop re-engagement campaigns for contacts who have stopped engaging with your messages.Work to always improve your segmentation rules so you can send more personalized, relevant content that recipients will take time out of their day to seek out and readIn that way, graymail’s actually great for email marketers — because it sets aside marketing emails for a time when recipients are in the mood to be marketed to. And when they’re in the mood and have the time to consume marketing emails, they have all of those messages at their fingertips. It’s a better experience for the recipient and, thus, a better result for the marketer. Originally published Feb 13, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Email Deliverability Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Last November, I got my team in a room and asked them to do something that sounded nearly impossible: brainstorm a year’s worth of blog topics in under an hour. That’s an aggressive target — I know — but we needed enough titles to support the Blog Topic Generator’s algorithm. So we all sat around the conference room table, writing blog ideas in a Google spreadsheet. The first five minutes, we were stumped. The eight of us tentatively put in a few ideas … and then all of a sudden ideas were flowing. One idea would suddenly morph into 10, and before we knew it, we had almost 300 titles … and we still had 15 minutes to spare. Sounds like a fairytale, right? Who has their next year of blog post ideas at their fingertips, never mind thought of them all within an hour?Well, it’s certainly not a myth. It’s not even a luxury reserved for only well-established companies that are rolling in dough. All you need is a Google spreadsheet/Word doc/Evernote note/pen and paper, and the right blog topic brainstorming process.You’ve already got the first part covered, so keep on reading to get the process we used to come up with those few hundred titles in under an hour. Remember: The key to this whole process is to not start from scratch each time you need a topic — just iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics. So let’s get to it!Free Download: Marketing Editorial Calendar Template1) Come up with your first topic.This step is probably the hardest of the bunch: coming up with your very first topic. If you’re struggling to get down even one idea, there are a few go-to places you can always turn. First are your customers. What kinds of questions do they have, and how could you answer them in a blog post? If you don’t know what their struggles are, send them (or someone internally who deals closely with them) an email. You could also try sitting in on a few sales calls to see what your company’s prospects are asking — not only will you suddenly have way more to blog about, but you can also help your sales reps close more deals. There are lots of ways you can get blog ideas, but these are two of the most efficient and effective ways to get them. 2) Change the topic scope.Okay, so now you have one idea. Great! Now it’s time to iterate.The first way you iterate is by changing the topic from something broad to something narrow. Let’s say your first idea is “15 Social Media Tips and Tricks for Beginners” — you can change that topic to more niche ones like “15 Pinterest Tips and Tricks for Beginners” or “15 Facebook Tips and Tricks for Beginners”. You can also go from narrow to broad in the same manner (“15 Marketing Tips and Tricks for Beginners”), or go from one narrow topic to another (“15 Twitter Tips and Tricks for Beginners”), or even go from narrow to narrower (“15 Facebook Company Page Tips and Tricks for Beginners”).Then boom: you have a bunch of ideas from one, all because you changed the scope of the topic. 3) Change up the timeframe.Even though these post ideas are evergreen, you can use specific timeframes to iterate on a blog topic.Let’s take a very broad topic like “The History of SEO.” This is a field that has been around for years, so if you were to write about the entire history, it’d be a long, comprehensive post … but if you wanted to squeeze more juice out of that topic, you could restrict the topic to a certain timeframe like the past month. The new title would then be “What You Missed This Month in the SEO Industry”. Or you could restrict it to a year: “The Biggest Changes in SEO in 2013”.4) Choose a new audience.Often, you’ll have multiple audiences you’re writing for — and they probably aren’t interested in reading the same exact post, even if they’re interested in similar topics. For example, a post for a CMO and a post for an entry-level person might both be about Facebook, but one will be more strategic and one will be more tactical.It’s easier than you’d think to frame the post for that person — one way to do it is to just add their name in the title. For example, “What Every Entry-Level Marketer Should Know About Facebook” could also be “What Every CMO Should Know About Facebook”.Obviously those will be two very different posts when you get down to it, but the initial concept is one and the same: Facebook tips.5) Go negative or positive. When most people think of blog post ideas, they think in the positive mindset: “20 Social Media Rules You Should Always Follow.” It makes sense — we’re trying to be helpful with our content, so it’s natural to try to be upbeat and positive. But you can actually come up with way more topic ideas if you embrace your negative side.So let’s take that initial post idea and turn it negative: “20 Social Media Rules You Should Never Follow”. Simple, right? This little trick can help you think of more creative and attention-grabbing blog topics — that are often more fun to write, too.6) Introduce new formats. When all else fails, try plugging recurring themes into new formats. So a title like “The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing” could easily become “The Ultimate Email Marketing Checklist” or “The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing [Infographic]”.The angle of your post will likely have to change to correspond with the format (not everything should be an infographic, or a video, or a cartoon), but thinking through new format types alongside your regular topics will help you identify new ways of thinking about something you’ve blogged about over and over.7) Remove titles that don’t solve for your customers or audience. At the very end of all this, you’re going to have a huge list, but not every topic is going to be a great choice for your blog. Some may not align with your brand’s positioning or some may feel played out and stale. Be ruthless and cut out any topics that don’t fit the bill. You’ll be left with some great ideas that you can use as you like through the rest of the year.But remember, the goal of this brainstorming process is to set a good foundation for your content backlog — not dictate what you must blog about over the next year. It’s likely that your editorial or marketing strategy will change, or you hear about some breaking news that you need to blog about ASAP. So use this brainstorming session as the foundation of your editorial calendar, not the entirety of it.Do you have a process for thinking of new blog post topics so your well doesn’t run dry? Share your tips with us in the comments below. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Brainstorming Techniques Originally published Feb 19, 2014 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 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 “If you build it, they will come.”Time and time again, marketers have rejected this statement as brand-building’s biggest fallacy.Growth doesn’t just happen. It’s carefully planned. It’s highly strategic. And most importantly, it’s tough.Marketing requires a nimble combination of left-brained and right-brained skillsets — a delicate balance of quantitative and creative chops. But no one brain can be a conversion optimizer, designer, and content expert at once. We rely on the talents and skill sets of others. We follow the paths of marketers who have tackled the same customer acquisition challenges before us.In following (or avoiding) the experiences of others, however, we risk overlooking opportunities that are unique to our brands and companies. Not to mention, the competition in already-flooded marketing environments is fierce. If we flock where other marketers are running, we’ll overlook the assets — and untapped opportunities — that give our brands their unique competitive advantage.Why follow the beaten path when you can design your own treasure map? Here are three critical marketing distribution channels that you can tap into today:1) Your Existing CustomersThe Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs estimate that 58% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budget over the next 12 months, which is up from 54% from the previous year.The question is — who are these marketers aiming to reach with this content?It’s common for marketers to prioritize content as a top-of-the-funnel marketing activity to build reach and awareness for a company’s unique thought leadership and products. But what about your existing customers?Many organizations rely on strategic upselling as a high-value revenue stream. This process leans heavily on consistent relationship-building and continued engagement. Enter content marketing — a tool for building relationships with an organization’s stakeholders and prospective customers.Content marketing should be executed in tandem with your company’s account managers and client service representatives. Ask your customer-facing team — what questions are existing customers asking? And which of these questions are most directly relevant to the upselling process?Then, bridge the gap with content.2) Your In-Person InteractionsWomen 2.0 co-founder Angie Chang explains this concept elegantly:“When you first have an idea, TELL EVERYONE. This will help vet your [startup] idea.”Marketers tend to differentiate communication in the online and offline realms. The fact is that these two worlds aren’t distinctly separate — they meld together. Your customer’s online identity is an extension of who she is offline.Conversation is the heart of inbound marketing — and conversations happen in our everyday interactions, at in-person events, and at conferences.When you meet prospective customers, tell them about your blog. Reference specific posts that you’ve written. Offer to follow up with a link to the resource that you’ve put together.Word of mouth is a powerful marketing force. As Wharton MBA professor Jonah Berger puts it, “There’s a science behind it.”His research explains that organizations ‘live and die’ by word of mouth. In one recent study, Berger analyzed word of mouth data across 10,000 products and brands, ranging from Coca-Cola and Walmart to tiny startups. He and his team analyzed the virality of almost 7,000 pieces of online content — everything from politics and international news to funny pieces, sports, and style. Berger’s goal was to determine what people feel compelled to share. What he found were six common characteristics of brands that spark conversations:Triggers: If someone is top-of-mind, people are more likely to talk about it. The more we think about it, the more we talk about it.Emotion: If we care about a topic enough to be angry, sad, inspired, or ecstatically happy, we’ll share it.Social Currency: We’re inclined to follow the crowd and share popular ideas.Observability: Products that are highly visible sell themselves.Practical Value: We share based on a natural urge to bring value to others.Stories: We talk about narratives that inspire us.Word-of-mouth is media agnostic — and social media is an extension of natural conversations that we’re having every day. Talk about your marketing campaigns — especially your content — with new friends and business connections in real life. It’s a quick, efficient, and natural way to prolong the lifespan of a one-time conversation.3) Your ProductThe concept sounds simple enough — build your marketing into your product. But what exactly does this mean?In a nutshell, I’m saying that marketing is the polar opposite of a standalone activity. It should be wholly integrated with your product roadmap. Even the most subtle addition of a social media share button can amplify user engagement, distribution, and new user acquisition.I learned this lesson from Prerna Gupta, co-founder of Kush, a mobile development firm that built intelligent music apps. She explains:“Marketing is often treated as a bad word in Silicon Valley. To many, it connotes bloated budgets and the use of psychological trickery to make up for the fact that your product sucks. If a product is good, we are told, it should simply sell itself.”What Gupta points out is that some of the best products are created by marketing geniuses — and that’s precisely how she inspired millions of users to download her company’s apps.She explains three steps to integrating marketing with your product:Step 1: Sell it before you build it. Ask prospective customers what they want. Build your product to address their most pressing needs, and you’ll have an instant customer base.Step 2: Develop a laser sharp focus of what you want your product to be. Nail it.Step 3: Make your product social. When a product requires collaboration between customers, sharing will come naturally. Remember that digital media bridges us together. Social can be a part of your product. This list could go on forever, but for the sake of word count, I’ll stop writing. The bottom line is that your company will have natural growth levers. The distribution channels you’re missing are the areas in which opportunities are already strong. Why follow beaten (and competitive) marketing paths when you can forge one that is truly unique to your company? The most tough-to-see marketing opportunities are often what’s right in front of you. Topics: Originally published Feb 25, 2014 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Marketing Strategy
How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow to choose the right imageCreating it on your own Finding images to use legally Optimizing the image for TwitterSizing images for TwitterTagging people in imagesUsing Photo Collages Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhat results they should expect to get How to Write a Blog Post How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow long their tweet should be with the image in itHow to actually upload an image to Twitter (This is a pretty basic step that someone would already know if they’re reading this post.)What sizes they need to make imagesHow they can create images on their ownWhere they can find images to use legally What sets a good image apart from a bad one on TwitterShould you tag people in imagesShould you use photo collagesWhat colors you should use to stand out (Don’t believe there’s hard data on this, just speculation. Let’s cut it.) 4) Add more takeaways to some sections. At this point, you should have a pretty weird looking outline. Mine is. Some sections have lots of little bullet points, others have only a few, and others have nothing. Now’s the time to fill in the holes. What did you miss in your initial brainstorm? Thinking about what’s missing is always hard, but it will help improve your final post significantly. Don’t forget to beef up your intro here, too. Have a great point you think would set the stage for the article? Add a little reminder below that section so you don’t forget it. Below shows how my outline’s evolved. I italicized all the things I added, and the outline is becoming closer and closer to being a post:IntroImages work really well on Twitter (find study) Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhich metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust your strategy to get better results How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow to choose the right imageCreating it on your own Finding images to use legally Optimizing the image for TwitterSizing images for TwitterTagging people in imagesUsing Photo Collageshttp://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/twitter-photo-collages-ideas-list Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow they can generate a lead on TwitterHow often they should tweet images Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhat results they should expect to get (The study in the first part should cover this bullet point.)Which metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust the above to get better results Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow to generate a lead on TwitterHow lead generation fits in with the rest of your Twitter strategy How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow to choose the right imageCreating it on your own Finding images to use legally Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhat results they should expect to getWhich metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust the above to get better results Optimizing the rest of your tweetHow long the tweet should be with the image in Optimizing the rest of your tweetHow long the tweet should be with the image in Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow to generate a lead on TwitterHow lead generation fits in with the rest of your Twitter strategyReference Anchorman line: “Come and see how good I look.” 7) If any details come to you that you don’t want to forget, add them in. Last, but certainly not least, spruce up the outline with anything you don’t want to forget while writing. Maybe you’re writing the post right away — or maybe you won’t have time to actually start for a few more days. Regardless, having these details in your outline will make sure you’re not missing a thing. I do this often if I think of a terrible pun or pop culture reference while outlining … and trust me, that’s something I definitely wouldn’t want to forget. ;)Here’s my final outline: IntroImages tend to work really well on Twitter (http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/tweet-images-improve-lead-gen-ht) Topics: Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow to generate a lead on TwitterHow lead generation fits in with the rest of your Twitter strategy Optimizing the image for TwitterSizing images for TwitterTagging people in imagesUsing Photo Collageshttp://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/twitter-photo-collages-ideas-list Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhich metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust your strategy to get better results Measuring Your Strategy’s SuccessWhich metrics to look atHow to find them in your analyticsHow to adjust your strategy to get better results How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow long their tweet should be with the image in itHow to actually upload an image to TwitterWhat sizes they need to make imagesHow they can create images on their ownWhere they can find images to use legally What sets a good image apart from a bad one on TwitterShould you tag people in imagesShould you use photo collagesWhat colors you should use to stand out Optimizing the rest of your tweetHow long the tweet should be with the image in What makes a blog post bad?There are lots of reasons a blog post could be less-than-perfect. Poor formatting. Poor grammar. Poor word choice. Poor shareability. The most pervasive problem? Poor flow. The post jumps from one idea to the next to the next and then circles around again for a split second to the first idea, then back to the fourth, and so on. Or the post reads like a stream of consciousness — but it wasn’t a stylistic choice. Luckily, you have a simple solution. Before diving headfirst into writing your post, you can create an outline. I’m not talking about jotting down a few quick bullet points — even experienced writers can go astray with just a few talking points. I’m talking a fully fleshed-out outline with enough details that make it virtually impossible for your writing to go off the deep end. And it’s pretty easy to do.Download Now: 6 Free Blog Post TemplatesBelow is my method for outlining posts and organizing my thoughts. You may prefer to switch up some of the steps depending on your writing style, but your end goal should always be to get an outline detailed enough that its result is a cohesive, logical piece. Here’s one way you can do that. 1) Nail your working title.This is the most important step of this entire process. You want to have a clear understanding of what you’re going to write before you start outlining. My colleague Corey wrote an awesome post about how to pick a great working title. Go read it, now. I won’t go too much into the weeds here (that’s why you should read her post), but a great working title is specific. It’s “How to Use Images to Generate Leads on Twitter,” not ” Twitter lead generation.”Spend time getting your working title to something specific and easy to tackle in a blog post format — but don’t waste time getting nitpicky. You can refine your title later. The goal here is to have a title that gives you a very clear idea of what the whole piece is about. You can make it sound catchy later. 2) Write down as many distinct takeaways from the article as you can.Next, you get to brain dump. Write down all the things you want your readers to get out of the article. These won’t always be the main sections of your article — it’s just all the things you want your readers to know by the end of reading your post.This is the only time in the whole process you’re not worried about organization — just let your ideas flow naturally. You need to get out all of your wild and crazy ideas now so they won’t muck up your post later in the process.Let’s use the previous example to show you what I mean. If my working title was “How to Use Images to Generate Leads on Twitter,” I’d probably want readers to know:What sets a good image apart from a bad one on TwitterWhere they can find images to use legally How they can create images on their ownWhat sizes they need to make imagesHow often they should tweet imagesHow to actually upload an image to TwitterHow they can generate a lead on TwitterHow long their tweet should be with the image in itWhat results they should expect to get Notice how these are really unfiltered and all over the place. That’s okay. We’ll wrangle it all in in the next step.3) Break up those takeaways into larger sections.Now, we’ll take that jumble of ideas and place them into overarching sections. Think of it like sorting laundry — each thought belongs to a different pile. From your brainstorm, you should come up with a few big themes. Sometimes, one of your brainstorming bullets will be a theme in itself, but usually several bullets will fall under one overarching theme. You may also realize that there’s a theme that you may not have any bullets for, but the post definitely calls for it. Lots of people recommend sticking to 3-4 larger sections, but it really depends on what type of post you’re writing. If you’re writing something that’s long and comprehensive, you might need more. If it’s a quick post, fewer sections would be ideal. But if you need a benchmark, 3-4 sections are fine. So if we’re writing that post about generating leads on Twitter using images, we’d bucket my ideas into the following buckets:IntroCrafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow they can generate a lead on TwitterHow often they should tweet images Crafting a Twitter Image Lead Gen StrategyHow to generate a lead on TwitterHow often they should tweet images Essentially, you’re re-doing the second step, but in a more controlled, organized manner.5) Revise, remove, and reorganize details in each section.Now comes the fun part: editing your outline. You’ve already done the hard part of actually thinking of your ideas. Now, you’re tightening up your outline to include only the most relevant information, revising the sub-bullets to actually make sense, and reorganizing the sub-bullets to tell the most logical story.First, let me show you what I’d cut — shown in bold. IntroImages work really well on Twitter (find study) How to Create the Perfect Lead Gen TweetHow long their tweet should be with the image in itHow to actually upload an image to TwitterWhat sizes they need to make imagesHow they can create images on their ownWhere they can find images to use legally What sets a good image apart from a bad one on Twitter And that’s it! Once you have a solid outline, writing the actual post should be a breeze. Do you outline your posts before writing? What else do you include? Originally published May 5, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Ta-da! A much more comprehensive outline that makes your post easy to write.6) Include links to your examples and/or data.This is purely a time-saving trick. After you’ve fully fleshed out and then trimmed your outline, you should look for examples and data to support these claims. Once you find a source to support your arguments, just add them as a note underneath the section — that way, when you go to write it, it’s all organized for you. Here’s what my outline morphed into. I grabbed the link for the Twitter study I wanted to reference in the intro and added a reference to an article we’ve written on Twitter collages.IntroImages tend to work really well on Twitter (http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/tweet-images-improve-lead-gen-ht) I cut things usually because the sub-bullet didn’t add value to the post or the reader would already know it. That’s a pretty good benchmark to remember if you’re not sure whether to cut something. Next, we’ll reorganize the remainder of the sub-bullets and rework them to sound like actual takeaways. We’ll also turn some of the sub-bullets into sub-sub-bullets. Here’s what this outline looks like now:IntroImages tend to work really well on Twitter (find study)