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The Top 11 Best Email Marketing Services in 2019

For many growing companies, an email marketing service provider is one of the first tools you need in a marketer’s tool belt — and for good reason. Email marketing is a quick way to engage with your leads and nurture them into loyal customers. It’s also extremely cost effective, with some studies showing an ROI of up to 4400%.

As email service providers (or ESPs) continue to develop, features like A/B Testing, automation, and personalization have made the tools even more valuable to a marketer looking to engage with an increasingly fragmented audience.

And, in 2019, email marketing is just as essential as it’s ever been.

But with so many tools available, where should you start? Which tool meets your business’ unique needs? And how can you differentiate one tool from the next?

To help you choose the most powerful tool for your team, let’s take a look at the best email marketing services on the market today.

1. HubSpot

HubSpot’s email tool is easy to use, has an extremely high deliverability rate, and has all the bells and whistles you’d expect to see within an ESP.

When creating an email, you can pick from one of many drag-and-drop email templates, or you can craft a custom template tailored to your brand. Once you’ve got your template, incorporating content is simple and intuitive.

You can also personalize your emails for different recipients based on device type, country, or list inclusion — or use a simple personalization token to ensure that each email includes content that is specific to each recipient.

Plus, within HubSpot, you can preview an email as a specific recipient, on a specific device type, or within a specific email provider — ensuring your email looks exactly how you want it to regardless of how your customer needs to view it.

When it is time to send, using the smart send feature will ensure that recipients receive your email at an appropriate time. Additionally, you can run A/B tests to compare different versions of an email to understand which one resonates the most with your audience. You also won’t have to worry about deliverability — HubSpot maintains a 99% deliverability rate across the network for all marketing email sends.

Outside of the email marketing functionality, HubSpot offers a wide range of reports on your email’s performance, letting you judge what is resonating with your audience and optimize your strategy accordingly.

You can report on something as broad as your overall email performance in Q1, or you can get granular and see how one particular lead is interacting with your emails.

In addition, HubSpot’s automation platform makes it easy to scale your email marketing strategy, which will help you quickly turn leads into loyal customers.

2. Constant Contact

Constant Contact is a popular email marketing service for many industries.

It comes with over 100 email templates that you can either use as is, or customize to meet your specific objectives.

Once your email looks good, you can easily schedule it to send to your contacts. In addition to drip email campaigns, you can also have emails go out at a regular cadence to celebrate specific events — for example, you could have a regular email go out on each customer’s birthday.

Constant Contact also makes it easy to manage your contacts.

Additionally, once a list is uploaded, bounces and unsubscribes are automatically updated. They also have “Plus” features that let you execute very specific types of campaigns — such as a coupon offers, donation collections, or surveys.

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3. Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor prides itself in providing powerful, personalized email marketing tools that are simple and easy to use.

Their drag-and-drop email editor is intuitive, and the included analytics make it easy to optimize your email strategy and create targeted segments of your customers.

Personalization is key for campaign monitor. They use data to increase personalized content, and inform your list segmentation to boost your engagement. They also have a visual marketing automation tool so you can create unique customer journeys at scale.

On top of a great email tool, Campaign monitor has an extensive library of resources, helping you become a pro at email marketing.

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4. iContact

iContact has been providing one of the best email marketing services available since 2003.

In the time since then, they’ve built out an easy to use email marketing tool that helps you and your team see results fast. While they have all the simple editing and automation features of other tools in this list, it’s their support and customer services team that sets iContact apart.

Customers are paired with a strategic advisor, who helps you get your email marketing strategy right and find success with their tool.

They also have Social+ marketing consultants that will help boost your entire online presence through creative social posts that drive traffic to your site.

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5. MailChimp

Although MailChimp has recently added landing pages and various ads tools, their email marketing service is still their claim-to-fame.

They have millions of customers in over 175 countries, and they use the data they collect off those customers to provide you with actionable insights to improve your email strategy. Their tools are flexible enough for an enterprise company, yet simple enough for someone just getting started with email marketing.

Best of all, MailChimp has over 300 integrations that help you match their tool to your business. By using these integrations to further personalize your marketing, you’ll get the most out of your email strategy.

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6. AWeber

Aweber is an email platform built specifically for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Their goal is to make it simple for people just getting started with email marketing to segment their contacts, design a professional email, and start nurturing leads. Customers have praised AWeber for its deliverability, and AWeber’s deliverability team monitors their servers around the clock to ensure your campaign consistently reaches the customers’ inboxes.

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7. SendinBlue

SendinBlue is a marketing software platform that sends more than 30 million automated emails and text messages every day. On top of email, they also have a forms tool that lets you collect new leads, which you can then segment into specific lists, and enter into email nurturing campaigns.

Not sure how to kick off your email nurturing campaign? No problem. SendinBlue has a Workflow Library that gives you access to a number of pre-made automation campaigns tailored to specific goals you might have. If you want to run a more nuanced email nurturing campaign, you can always create a campaign from scratch to meet your specific business needs.

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8. ActiveCampaign

ActiveCampaign is a marketing automation platform that offers live chat and a CRM service in addition to their email marketing tool.

By adding a CRM to their marketing tool, ActiveCampaign can help you surface the right leads to your sales team through tools like lead scoring. It also lets you serve up dynamic content within your emails, so you can send one email and provide a different experience to your contacts based on how you segmented them.

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9. AutoPilot

Autopilot differentiates themselves from the other tools in this list through their visual marketing tools.

Everything from their email editor to their automation tool is set up to work through a drag-and-drop interface that is intuitive and easy to use.

They also provide collaborative tools, which let your entire team work together effectively on an automation campaign. Using the ‘annotate & collaborate’ feature, you can quickly mark-up a customer journey and ask your team for feedback or assistance. You can also quickly share your work with your team, ensuring that everyone is on the same page before you start your campaign.

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10. GetResponse

GetResponse is a marketing automation service that is available in over 20 different languages.

On top of email marketing and automation, they also offer a CRM, landing pages, and a complete webinar solution.

They offer over 500 templates to help you get started with email marketing, and also integrate directly with Shutterstock so you always have a library of creative options directly at your fingertips. Their drip campaign tool is managed through a calendar interface, allowing you to see exactly when you will be reaching out to your leads.

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11. Ontraport

Ontraport offers a full suite of marketing automation tools — including e-commerce functionality, which lets you sell directly to your customers online.

Their visual campaign builder allows you to create detailed campaigns to engage with your audience. Create your campaign from scratch, or tap into their marketplace where they offer dozens of the most common marketing campaigns for you to take advantage of, including abandoned cart nurturing, or webinar sign-up and follow-up.

Their platform also gives you insight into detailed reports that provide information on a number of different questions you might have on your pipeline, including what channels your best customers originate from, and how long it takes to convert a lead into a customer.

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The Options Are Endless for Email Marketing Services

Most email marketing tools offer all the essentials needed to craft a basic email newsletter, but your options start to narrow down when you want better customization and deeper data analysis. As a marketer, you might want to consider combining your email marketing tool with a CRM, which will give you all the capability to power your entire customer experience.

Ultimately, for you, the best email marketing tool depends on your team’s purpose and particular business needs.

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Reblogged 12 hours ago from blog.hubspot.com

The One-Hour Guide to SEO: Link Building – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

The final episode in our six-part One-Hour Guide to SEO series deals with a topic that’s a perennial favorite among SEOs: link building. Today, learn why links are important to both SEO and to Google, how Google likely measures the value of links, and a few key ways to begin earning your own.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. We are back with our final part in the One-Hour Guide to SEO, and this week talking about why links matter to search engines, how you can earn links, and things to consider when doing link building.

Why are links important to SEO?

So we’ve discussed sort of how search engines rank pages based on the value they provide to users. We’ve talked about how they consider keyword use and relevant topics and content on the page. But search engines also have this tool of being able to look at all of the links across the web and how they link to other pages, how they point between pages.



So it turns out that Google had this insight early on that what other people say about you is more important, at least to them, than what you say about yourself. So you may say, “I am the best resource on the web for learning about web marketing.” But it turns out Google is not going to believe you unless many other sources, that they also trust, say the same thing. Google’s big innovation, back in 1997 and 1998, when Sergey Brin and Larry Page came out with their search engine, Google, was PageRank, this idea that by looking at all the links that point to all the pages on the internet and then sort of doing this recursive process of seeing which are the most important and most linked to pages, they could give each page on the web a weight, an amount of PageRank.

Then those pages that had a lot of PageRank, because many people linked to them or many powerful people linked to them, would then pass more weight on when they linked. That understanding of the web is still in place today. It’s still a way that Google thinks about links. They’ve almost certainly moved on from the very simplistic PageRank formula that came out in the late ’90s, but that thinking underlies everything they’re doing.

How does Google measure the value of links?

Today, Google measures the value of links in many very sophisticated ways, which I’m not going to try and get into, and they’re not public about most of these anyway. But there is a lot of intelligence that we have about how they think about links, including things like more important, more authoritative, more well-linked-to pages are going to pass more weight when they link.

A.) More important, authoritative, well-linked-to pages pass more weight when they link

That’s true of both individual URLs, an individual page, and websites, a whole website. So for example, if a page on The New York Times links to yoursite.com, that is almost certainly going to be vastly more powerful and influential in moving your rankings or moving your ability to rank in the future than if randstinysite.info — which I haven’t yet registered, but I’ll get on that — links to yoursite.com.

This weighting, this understanding of there are powerful and important and authoritative websites, and then there are less powerful and important and authoritative websites, and it tends to be the case that more powerful ones tend to provide more ranking value is why so many SEOs and marketers use metrics like Moz’s domain authority or some of the metrics from Moz’s competitors out in the software space to try and intuit how powerful, how influential will this link be if this domain points to me.

B.) Diversity of domains, rate of link growth, and editorial nature of links ALL matter

So the different kinds of domains and the rate of link growth and the editorial nature of those links all matter. So, for example, if I get many new links from many new websites that have never linked to me before and they are editorially given, meaning I haven’t spammed to place them, I haven’t paid to place them, they were granted to me because of interesting things that I did or because those sites wanted to editorially endorse my work or my resources, and I do that over time in greater quantities and at a greater rate of acceleration than my competitors, I am likely to outrank them for the words and phrases related to those topics, assuming that all the other smart SEO things that we’ve talked about in this One-Hour Guide have also been done.

C.) HTML-readable links that don’t have rel=”nofollow” and contain relevant anchor text on indexable pages pass link benefit

HTML readable links, meaning as a simple text browser browses the web or a simple bot, like Googlebot, which can be much more complex as we talked about in the technical SEO thing, but not necessarily all the time, those HTML readable links that don’t have the rel=”nofollow” parameter, which is something that you can append to links to say I don’t editorially endorse this, and many, many websites do.

If you post a link to Twitter or to Facebook or to LinkedIn or to YouTube, they’re going to carry this rel=”nofollow,”saying I, YouTube, don’t editorially endorse this website that this random user has uploaded a video about. Okay. Well, it’s hard to get a link from YouTube. And it contains relevant anchor text on an indexable page, one that Google can actually browse and see, that is going to provide the maximum link benefit.

So a href=”https://yoursite.com” great tool for audience intelligence, that would be the ideal link for my new startup, for example, which is SparkToro, because we do audience intelligence and someone saying we’re a tool is perfect. This is a link that Google can read, and it provides this information about what we do.

It says great tool for audience intelligence. Awesome. That is powerful anchor text that will help us rank for those words and phrases. There are loads more. There are things like which pages linked to and which pages linked from. There are spam characteristics and trustworthiness of the sources. Alt attributes, when they’re used in image tags, serve as the anchor text for the link, if the image is a link.

There’s the relationship, the topical relationship of the linking page and linking site. There’s text surrounding the link, which I think some tools out there offer you information about. There’s location on the page. All of this stuff is used by Google and hundreds more factors to weight links. The important part for us, when we think about links, is generally speaking if you cover your bases here, it’s indexable, carries good anchor text, it’s from diverse domains, it’s at a good pace, it is editorially given in nature, and it’s from important, authoritative, and well linked to sites, you’re going to be golden 99% of the time.

Are links still important to Google?

Many folks I think ask wisely, “Are links still that important to Google? It seems like the search engine has grown in its understanding of the web and its capacities.” Well, there is some pretty solid evidence that links are still very powerful. I think the two most compelling to me are, one, the correlation of link metrics over time. 

So like Google, Moz itself produces an index of the web. It is billions and billions of pages. I think it’s actually trillions of pages, trillions of links across hundreds of billions of pages. Moz produces metrics like number of linking root domains to any given domain on the web or any given page on the web.

Moz has a metric called Domain Authority or DA, which sort of tries to best replicate or best correlate to Google’s own rankings. So metrics like these, over time, have been shockingly stable. If it were the case someday that Google demoted the value of links in their ranking systems, basically said links are not worth that much, you would expect to see a rapid drop.

But from 2007 to 2019, we’ve never really seen that. It’s fluctuated. Mostly it fluctuates based on the size of the link index. So for many years Ahrefs and Majestic were bigger link indices than Moz. They had better link data, and their metrics were better correlated.

Now Moz, since 2018, is much bigger and has higher correlation than they do. So the various tools are sort of warring with each other, trying to get better and better for their customers. You can see those correlations with Google pretty high, pretty standard, especially for a system that supposedly contains hundreds, if not thousands of elements.

When you see a correlation of 0.25 or 0.3 with one number, linking root domains or page authority or something like that, that’s pretty surprising. The second one is that many SEOs will observe this, and I think this is why so many SEO firms and companies pitch their clients this way, which is the number of new, high quality, editorially given linking root domains, linking domains, so The New York Times linked to me, and now The Washington Post linked to me and now wired.com linked to me, these high-quality, different domains, that correlates very nicely with ranking positions.

So if you are ranking number 12 for a keyword phrase and suddenly that page generates many new links from high-quality sources, you can expect to see rapid movement up toward page one, position one, two, or three, and this is very frequent.

How do I get links?

Obviously, this is not alone, but very common. So I think the next reasonable question to ask is, “Okay, Rand, you’ve convinced me. Links are important. How do I get some?” Glad you asked. There are an infinite number of ways to earn new links, and I will not be able to represent them here. But professional SEOs and professional web marketers often use tactics that fall under a few buckets, and this is certainly not an exhaustive list, but can give you some starting points.

1. Content & outreach

The first one is content and outreach. Essentially, the marketer finds a resource that they could produce, that is relevant to their business, what they provide for customers, data that they have, interesting insights that they have, and they produce that resource knowing that there are people and publications out there that are likely to want to link to it once it exists.

Then they let those people and publications know. This is essentially how press and PR work. This is how a lot of content building and link outreach work. You produce the content itself, the resource, whatever it is, the tool, the dataset, the report, and then you message the people and publications who are likely to want to cover it or link to it or talk about it. That process is tried-and-true. It has worked very well for many, many marketers. 

2. Link reclamation

Second is link reclamation. So this is essentially the process of saying, “Gosh, there are websites out there that used to link to me, that stopped linking.” The link broke. The link points to a 404, a page that no longer loads on my website.

The link was supposed to be a link, but they didn’t include the link. They said SparkToro, but they forgot to actually point to the SparkToro website. I should drop them a line. Maybe I’ll tweet at them, at the reporter who wrote about it and be like, “Hey, you forgot the link.” Those types of link reclamation processes can be very effective as well.

They’re often some of the easiest, lowest hanging fruit in the link building world. 

3. Directories, resource pages, groups, events, etc.

Directories, resource pages, groups, events, things that you can join and participate in, both online or online and offline, so long as they have a website, often link to your site. The process is simply joining or submitting or sponsoring or what have you.

Most of the time, for example, when I get invited to speak at an event, they will take my biography, a short, three-sentence blurb, that includes a link to my website and what I do, and they will put it on their site. So pitching to speak at events is a way to get included in these groups. I started Moz with my mom, Gillian Muessig, and Moz has forever been a woman-owned business, and so there are women-owned business directories.

I don’t think we actually did this, but we could easily go, “Hey, you should include Moz as a woman-owned business.We should be part of your directory here in Seattle.” Great, that’s a group we could absolutely join and get links from. 

4. Competitors’ links

So this is basically the practice you almost certainly will need to use tools to do this. There are some free ways to do it.

The simple, free way to do it is to say, “I have competitor 1 brand name and competitor 2 brand name.I’m going to search for the combination of those two in Google, and I’m going to look for places that have written about and linked to both of them and see if I can also replicate the tactics that got them coverage.” The slightly more sophisticated way is to go use a tool. Moz’s Link Explorer does this.

So do tools from people like Majestic and Ahrefs. I’m not sure if SEMrush does. But basically you can plug in, “Here’s me. Here’s my competitors. Tell me who links to them and does not link to me.” Moz’s tool calls this the Link Intersect function. But you don’t even need the link intersect function.

You just plug in a competitor’s domain and look at here are all the links that point to them, and then you start to replicate their tactics. There are hundreds more and many, many resources on Moz’s website and other great websites about SEO out there that talk about many of these tactics, and you can certainly invest in those. Or you could conceivably hire someone who knows what they’re doing to go do this for you. Links are still powerful. 

Okay. Thank you so much. I want to say a huge amount of appreciation to Moz and to Tyler, who’s behind the camera — he’s waving right now, you can’t see it, but he looks adorable waving — and to everyone who has helped make this possible, including Cyrus Shepard and Britney Muller and many others.

Hopefully, this one-hour segment on SEO can help you upgrade your skills dramatically. Hopefully, you’ll send it to some other folks who might need to upgrade their understanding and their skills around the practice. And I’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Digital marketers on Pinterest IPO: Get in early while costs are low, learning opportunities are high

January Digital CEO optimistic the company will grow exponentially if it continues to develop the right tech stack.

The post Digital marketers on Pinterest IPO: Get in early while costs are low, learning opportunities are high appeared first on Marketing Land.

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The Fractured Web

Anyone can argue about the intent of a particular action & the outcome that is derived by it. But when the outcome is known, at some point the intent is inferred if the outcome is derived from a source of power & the outcome doesn’t change.

Or, put another way, if a powerful entity (government, corporation, other organization) disliked an outcome which appeared to benefit them in the short term at great lasting cost to others, they could spend resources to adjust the system.

If they don’t spend those resources (or, rather, spend them on lobbying rather than improving the ecosystem) then there is no desired change. The outcome is as desired. Change is unwanted.

News is a stock vs flow market where the flow of recent events drives most of the traffic to articles. News that is more than a couple days old is no longer news. A news site which stops publishing news stops becoming a habit & quickly loses relevancy. Algorithmically an abandoned archive of old news articles doesn’t look much different than eHow, in spite of having a much higher cost structure.

According to SEMrush’s traffic rank, ampproject.org gets more monthly visits than Yahoo.com.

That actually understates the prevalence of AMP because AMP is generally designed for mobile AND not all AMP-formatted content is displayed on ampproject.org.

Part of how AMP was able to get widespread adoption was because in the news vertical the organic search result set was displaced by an AMP block. If you were a news site either you were so differentiated that readers would scroll past the AMP block in the search results to look for you specifically, or you adopted AMP, or you were doomed.

Some news organizations like The Guardian have a team of about a dozen people reformatting their content to the duplicative & proprietary AMP format. That’s wasteful, but necessary “In theory, adoption of AMP is voluntary. In reality, publishers that don’t want to see their search traffic evaporate have little choice. New data from publisher analytics firm Chartbeat shows just how much leverage Google has over publishers thanks to its dominant search engine.”

It seems more than a bit backward that low margin publishers are doing duplicative work to distance themselves from their own readers while improving the profit margins of monopolies. But it is what it is. And that no doubt drew the ire of many publishers across the EU.

And now there are AMP Stories to eat up even more visual real estate.

If you spent a bunch of money to create a highly differentiated piece of content, why would you prefer that high spend flaghship content appear on a third party website rather than your own?

Google & Facebook have done such a fantastic job of eating the entire pie that some are celebrating Amazon as a prospective savior to the publishing industry. That view – IMHO – is rather suspect.

Where any of the tech monopolies dominate they cram down on partners. The New York Times acquired The Wirecutter in Q4 of 2016. In Q1 of 2017 Amazon adjusted their affiliate fee schedule.

Amazon generally treats consumers well, but they have been much harder on business partners with tough pricing negotiations, counterfeit protections, forced ad buying to have a high enough product rank to be able to rank organically, ad displacement of their organic search results below the fold (even for branded search queries), learning suppliers & cutting out the partners, private label products patterned after top sellers, in some cases running pop over ads for the private label products on product level pages where brands already spent money to drive traffic to the page, etc.

They’ve made things tougher for their partners in a way that mirrors the impact Facebook & Google have had on online publishers:

“Boyce’s experience on Amazon largely echoed what happens in the offline world: competitors entered the market, pushing down prices and making it harder to make a profit. So Boyce adapted. He stopped selling basketball hoops and developed his own line of foosball tables, air hockey tables, bocce ball sets and exercise equipment. The best way to make a decent profit on Amazon was to sell something no one else had and create your own brand. … Amazon also started selling bocce ball sets that cost $15 less than Boyce’s. He says his products are higher quality, but Amazon gives prominent page space to its generic version and wins the cost-conscious shopper.”

Google claims they have no idea how content publishers are with the trade off between themselves & the search engine, but every quarter Alphabet publish the share of ad spend occurring on owned & operated sites versus the share spent across the broader publisher network. And in almost every quarter for over a decade straight that ratio has grown worse for publishers.

The aggregate numbers for news publishers are worse than shown above as Google is ramping up ads in video games quite hard. They’ve partnered with Unity & promptly took away the ability to block ads from appearing in video games using googleadsenseformobileapps.com exclusion (hello flat thumb misclicks, my name is budget & I am gone!)

They will also track video game player behavior & alter game play to maximize revenues based on machine learning tied to surveillance of the user’s account: “We’re bringing a new approach to monetization that combines ads and in-app purchases in one automated solution. Available today, new smart segmentation features in Google AdMob use machine learning to segment your players based on their likelihood to spend on in-app purchases. Ad units with smart segmentation will show ads only to users who are predicted not to spend on in-app purchases. Players who are predicted to spend will see no ads, and can simply continue playing.”

And how does the growth of ampproject.org square against the following wisdom?

Literally only yesterday did Google begin supporting instant loading of self-hosted AMP pages.

China has a different set of tech leaders than the United States. Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent (BAT) instead of Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google (FANG). China tech companies may have won their domestic markets in part based on superior technology or better knowledge of the local culture, though those same companies have largely went nowhere fast in most foreign markets. A big part of winning was governmental assistance in putting a foot on the scales.

Part of the US-China trade war is about who controls the virtual “seas” upon which value flows:

it can easily be argued that the last 60 years were above all the era of the container-ship (with container-ships getting ever bigger). But will the coming decades still be the age of the container-ship? Possibly not, for the simple reason that things that have value increasingly no longer travel by ship, but instead by fiberoptic cables! … you could almost argue that ZTE and Huawei have been the “East India Company” of the current imperial cycle. Unsurprisingly, it is these very companies, charged with laying out the “new roads” along which “tomorrow’s value” will flow, that find themselves at the center of the US backlash. … if the symbol of British domination was the steamship, and the symbol of American strength was the Boeing 747, it seems increasingly clear that the question of the future will be whether tomorrow’s telecom switches and routers are produced by Huawei or Cisco. … US attempts to take down Huawei and ZTE can be seen as the existing empire’s attempt to prevent the ascent of a new imperial power. With this in mind, I could go a step further and suggest that perhaps the Huawei crisis is this century’s version of Suez crisis. No wonder markets have been falling ever since the arrest of the Huawei CFO. In time, the Suez Crisis was brought to a halt by US threats to destroy the value of sterling. Could we now witness the same for the US dollar?

China maintains Huawei is an employee-owned company. But that proposition is suspect. Broadly stealing technology is vital to the growth of the Chinese economy & they have no incentive to stop unless their leading companies pay a direct cost. Meanwhile, China is investigating Ericsson over licensing technology.

Amazon will soon discontinue selling physical retail products in China: “Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan via the firm’s global store. Amazon expects to close fulfillment centers and wind down support for domestic-selling merchants in China in the next 90 days.”

India has taken notice of the success of Chinese tech companies & thus began to promote “national champion” company policies. That, in turn, has also meant some of the Chinese-styled laws requiring localized data, antitrust inquiries, foreign ownership restrictions, requirements for platforms to not sell their own goods, promoting limits on data encryption, etc.

The secretary of India’s Telecommunications Department, Aruna Sundararajan, last week told a gathering of Indian startups in a closed-door meeting in the tech hub of Bangalore that the government will introduce a “national champion” policy “very soon” to encourage the rise of Indian companies, according to a person familiar with the matter. She said Indian policy makers had noted the success of China’s internet giants, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. … Tensions began rising last year, when New Delhi decided to create a clearer set of rules for e-commerce and convened a group of local players to solicit suggestions. Amazon and Flipkart, even though they make up more than half the market, weren’t invited, according to people familiar with the matter.

Amazon vowed to invest $5 billion in India & they have done some remarkable work on logistics there. Walmart acquired Flipkart for $16 billion.

Other emerging markets also have many local ecommerce leaders like Jumia, MercadoLibre, OLX, Gumtree, Takealot, Konga, Kilimall, BidOrBuy, Tokopedia, Bukalapak, Shoppee, Lazada. If you live in the US you may have never heard of *any* of those companies. And if you live in an emerging market you may have never interacted with Amazon or eBay.

It makes sense that ecommerce leadership would be more localized since it requires moving things in the physical economy, dealing with local currencies, managing inventory, shipping goods, etc. whereas information flows are just bits floating on a fiber optic cable.

If the Internet is primarily seen as a communications platform it is easy for people in some emerging markets to think Facebook is the Internet. Free communication with friends and family members is a compelling offer & as the cost of data drops web usage increases.

At the same time, the web is incredibly deflationary. Every free form of entertainment which consumes time is time that is not spent consuming something else.

Add the technological disruption to the wealth polarization that happened in the wake of the great recession, then combine that with algorithms that promote extremist views & it is clearly causing increasing conflict.

If you are a parent and you think you child has no shot at a brighter future than your own life it is easy to be full of rage.

Empathy can radicalize otherwise normal people by giving them a more polarized view of the world:

Starting around 2000, the line starts to slide. More students say it’s not their problem to help people in trouble, not their job to see the world from someone else’s perspective. By 2009, on all the standard measures, Konrath found, young people on average measure 40 percent less empathetic than my own generation … The new rule for empathy seems to be: reserve it, not for your “enemies,” but for the people you believe are hurt, or you have decided need it the most. Empathy, but just for your own team. And empathizing with the other team? That’s practically a taboo.

A complete lack of empathy could allow a psychopath to commit extreme crimes while feeling no guilt, shame or remorse. Extreme empathy can have the same sort of outcome:

“Sometimes we commit atrocities not out of a failure of empathy but rather as a direct consequence of successful, even overly successful, empathy. … They emphasized that students would learn both sides, and the atrocities committed by one side or the other were always put into context. Students learned this curriculum, but follow-up studies showed that this new generation was more polarized than the one before. … [Empathy] can be good when it leads to good action, but it can have downsides. For example, if you want the victims to say ‘thank you.’ You may even want to keep the people you help in that position of inferior victim because it can sustain your feeling of being a hero.” – Fritz Breithaupt

News feeds will be read. Villages will be razed. Lynch mobs will become commonplace.

Many people will end up murdered by algorithmically generated empathy.

As technology increases absentee ownership & financial leverage, a society led by morally agnostic algorithms is not going to become more egalitarian.

When politicians throw fuel on the fire it only gets worse:

It’s particularly odd that the government is demanding “accountability and responsibility” from a phone app when some ruling party politicians are busy spreading divisive fake news. How can the government ask WhatsApp to control mobs when those convicted of lynching Muslims have been greeted, garlanded and fed sweets by some of the most progressive and cosmopolitan members of Modi’s council of ministers?

Mark Zuckerburg won’t get caught downstream from platform blowback as he spends $20 million a year on his security.

The web is a mirror. Engagement-based algorithms reinforcing our perceptions & identities.

And every important story has at least 2 sides!

Some may “learn” vaccines don’t work. Others may learn the vaccines their own children took did not work, as it failed to protect them from the antivax content spread by Facebook & Google, absorbed by people spreading measles & Medieval diseases.

Passion drives engagement, which drives algorithmic distribution: “There’s an asymmetry of passion at work. Which is to say, there’s very little counter-content to surface because it simply doesn’t occur to regular people (or, in this case, actual medical experts) that there’s a need to produce counter-content.”

As the costs of “free” become harder to hide, social media companies which currently sell emerging markets as their next big growth area will end up having embedded regulatory compliance costs which will end up exceeding any sort of prospective revenue they could hope to generate.

The Pinterest S1 shows almost all their growth is in emerging markets, yet almost all their revenue is inside the United States.

As governments around the world see the real-world cost of the foreign tech companies & view some of them as piggy banks, eventually the likes of Facebook or Google will pull out of a variety of markets they no longer feel worth serving. It will be like Google did in mainland China with search after discovering pervasive hacking of activist Gmail accounts.

Lower friction & lower cost information markets will face more junk fees, hurdles & even some legitimate regulations. Information markets will start to behave more like physical goods markets.

The tech companies presume they will be able to use satellites, drones & balloons to beam in Internet while avoiding messy local issues tied to real world infrastructure, but when a local wealthy player is betting against them they’ll probably end up losing those markets: “One of the biggest cheerleaders for the new rules was Reliance Jio, a fast-growing mobile phone company controlled by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest industrialist. Mr. Ambani, an ally of Mr. Modi, has made no secret of his plans to turn Reliance Jio into an all-purpose information service that offers streaming video and music, messaging, money transfer, online shopping, and home broadband services.”

Publishers do not have “their mojo back” because the tech companies have been so good to them, but rather because the tech companies have been so aggressive that they’ve earned so much blowback which will in turn lead publishers to opting out of future deals, which will eventually lead more people back to the trusted brands of yesterday.

Publishers feeling guilty about taking advertorial money from the tech companies to spread their propaganda will offset its publication with opinion pieces pointing in the other direction: “This is a lobbying campaign in which buying the good opinion of news brands is clearly important. If it was about reaching a target audience, there are plenty of metrics to suggest his words would reach further – at no cost – on Facebook. Similarly, Google is upping its presence in a less obvious manner via assorted media initiatives on both sides of the Atlantic. Its more direct approach to funding journalism seems to have the desired effect of making all media organisations (and indeed many academic institutions) touched by its money slightly less questioning and critical of its motives.”

When Facebook goes down direct visits to leading news brand sites go up.

When Google penalizes a no-name me-too site almost nobody realizes it is missing. But if a big publisher opts out of the ecosystem people will notice.

The reliance on the tech platforms is largely a mirage. If enough key players were to opt out at the same time people would quickly reorient their information consumption habits.

If the platforms can change their focus overnight then why can’t publishers band together & choose to dump them?

In Europe there is GDPR, which aimed to protect user privacy, but ultimately acted as a tax on innovation by local startups while being a subsidy to the big online ad networks. They also have Article 11 & Article 13, which passed in spite of Google’s best efforts on the scaremongering anti-SERP tests, lobbying & propaganda fronts: “Google has sparked criticism by encouraging news publishers participating in its Digital News Initiative to lobby against proposed changes to EU copyright law at a time when the beleaguered sector is increasingly turning to the search giant for help.”

Remember the Eric Schmidt comment about how brands are how you sort out (the non-YouTube portion of) the cesspool? As it turns out, he was allegedly wrong as Google claims they have been fighting for the little guy the whole time:

Article 11 could change that principle and require online services to strike commercial deals with publishers to show hyperlinks and short snippets of news. This means that search engines, news aggregators, apps, and platforms would have to put commercial licences in place, and make decisions about which content to include on the basis of those licensing agreements and which to leave out. Effectively, companies like Google will be put in the position of picking winners and losers. … Why are large influential companies constraining how new and small publishers operate? … The proposed rules will undoubtedly hurt diversity of voices, with large publishers setting business models for the whole industry. This will not benefit all equally. … We believe the information we show should be based on quality, not on payment.

Facebook claims there is a local news problem: “Facebook Inc. has been looking to boost its local-news offerings since a 2017 survey showed most of its users were clamoring for more. It has run into a problem: There simply isn’t enough local news in vast swaths of the country. … more than one in five newspapers have closed in the past decade and a half, leaving half the counties in the nation with just one newspaper, and 200 counties with no newspaper at all.”

Google is so for the little guy that for their local news experiments they’ve partnered with a private equity backed newspaper roll up firm & another newspaper chain which did overpriced acquisitions & is trying to act like a PE firm (trying to not get eaten by the PE firm).

Does the above stock chart look in any way healthy?

Does it give off the scent of a firm that understood the impact of digital & rode it to new heights?

If you want good market-based outcomes, why not partner with journalists directly versus operating through PE chop shops?

If Patch is profitable & Google were a neutral ranking system based on quality, couldn’t Google partner with journalists directly?

Throwing a few dollars at a PE firm in some nebulous partnership sure beats the sort of regulations coming out of the EU. And the EU’s regulations (and prior link tax attempts) are in addition to the three multi billion Euro fines the European Union has levied against Alphabet for shopping search, Android & AdSense.

Google was also fined in Russia over Android bundling. The fine was tiny, but after consumers gained a search engine choice screen (much like Google pushed for in Europe on Microsoft years ago) Yandex’s share of mobile search grew quickly.

The UK recently published a white paper on online harms. In some ways it is a regulation just like the tech companies might offer to participants in their ecosystems:

Companies will have to fulfil their new legal duties or face the consequences and “will still need to be compliant with the overarching duty of care even where a specific code does not exist, for example assessing and responding to the risk associated with emerging harms or technology”.

If web publishers should monitor inbound links to look for anything suspicious then the big platforms sure as hell have the resources & profit margins to monitor behavior on their own websites.

Australia passed the Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material bill which requires platforms to expeditiously remove violent videos & notify the Australian police about them.

There are other layers of fracturing going on in the web as well.

Programmatic advertising shifted revenue from publishers to adtech companies & the largest ad sellers. Ad blockers further lower the ad revenues of many publishers. If you routinely use an ad blocker, try surfing the web for a while without one & you will notice layover welcome AdSense ads on sites as you browse the web – the very type of ad they were allegedly against when promoting AMP.

Tracking protection in browsers & ad blocking features built directly into browsers leave publishers more uncertain. And who even knows who visited an AMP page hosted on a third party server, particularly when things like GDPR are mixed in? Those who lack first party data may end up having to make large acquisitions to stay relevant.

Voice search & personal assistants are now ad channels.

App stores are removing VPNs in China, removing Tiktok in India, and keeping female tracking apps in Saudi Arabia. App stores are centralized chokepoints for governments. Every centralized service is at risk of censorship. Web browsers from key state-connected players can also censor messages spread by developers on platforms like GitHub.

Microsoft’s newest Edge web browser is based on Chromium, the source of Google Chrome. While Mozilla Firefox gets most of their revenue from a search deal with Google, Google has still went out of its way to use its services to both promote Chrome with pop overs AND break in competing web browsers:

“All of this is stuff you’re allowed to do to compete, of course. But we were still a search partner, so we’d say ‘hey what gives?’ And every time, they’d say, ‘oops. That was accidental. We’ll fix it in the next push in 2 weeks.’ Over and over. Oops. Another accident. We’ll fix it soon. We want the same things. We’re on the same team. There were dozens of oopses. Hundreds maybe?” – former Firefox VP Jonathan Nightingale

As phone sales fall & app downloads stall a hardware company like Apple is pushing hard into services while quietly raking in utterly fantastic ad revenues from search & ads in their app store.

Part of the reason people are downloading fewer apps is so many apps require registration as soon as they are opened, or only let a user engage with them for seconds before pushing aggressive upsells. And then many apps which were formerly one-off purchases are becoming subscription plays. As traffic acquisition costs have jumped, many apps must engage in sleight of hand behaviors (free but not really, we are collecting data totally unrelated to the purpose of our app & oops we sold your data, etc.) in order to get the numbers to back out. This in turn causes app stores to slow down app reviews.

Apple acquired the news subscription service Texture & turned it into Apple News Plus. Not only is Apple keeping half the subscription revenues, but soon the service will only work for people using Apple devices, leaving nearly 100,000 other subscribers out in the cold: “if you’re part of the 30% who used Texture to get your favorite magazines digitally on Android or Windows devices, you will soon be out of luck. Only Apple iOS devices will be able to access the 300 magazines available from publishers. At the time of the sale in March 2018 to Apple, Texture had about 240,000 subscribers.”

Apple is also going to spend over a half-billion Dollars exclusively licensing independently developed games:

Several people involved in the project’s development say Apple is spending several million dollars each on most of the more than 100 games that have been selected to launch on Arcade, with its total budget likely to exceed $500m. The games service is expected to launch later this year. … Apple is offering developers an extra incentive if they agree for their game to only be available on Arcade, withholding their release on Google’s Play app store for Android smartphones or other subscription gaming bundles such as Microsoft’s Xbox game pass.

Verizon wants to launch a video game streaming service. It will probably be almost as successful as their Go90 OTT service was. Microsoft is pushing to make Xbox games work on Android devices. Amazon is developing a game streaming service to compliment Twitch.

The hosts on Twitch, some of whom sign up exclusively with the platform in order to gain access to its moneymaking tools, are rewarded for their ability to make a connection with viewers as much as they are for their gaming prowess. Viewers who pay $4.99 a month for a basic subscription — the money is split evenly between the streamers and Twitch — are looking for immediacy and intimacy. While some hosts at YouTube Gaming offer a similar experience, they have struggled to build audiences as large, and as dedicated, as those on Twitch. … While YouTube has made millionaires out of the creators of popular videos through its advertising program, Twitch’s hosts make money primarily from subscribers and one-off donations or tips. YouTube Gaming has made it possible for viewers to support hosts this way, but paying audiences haven’t materialized at the scale they have on Twitch.

Google, having a bit of Twitch envy, is also launching a video game streaming service which will be deeply integrated into YouTube: “With Stadia, YouTube watchers can press “Play now” at the end of a video, and be brought into the game within 5 seconds. The service provides “instant access” via button or link, just like any other piece of content on the web.”

Google will also launch their own game studio making exclusive games for their platform.

When consoles don’t use discs or cartridges so they can sell a subscription access to their software library it is hard to be a game retailer! GameStop’s stock has been performing like an ICO. And these sorts of announcements from the tech companies have been hitting stock prices for companies like Nintendo & Sony: “There is no doubt this service makes life even more difficult for established platforms,” Amir Anvarzadeh, a market strategist at Asymmetric Advisors Pte, said in a note to clients. “Google will help further fragment the gaming market which is already coming under pressure by big games which have adopted the mobile gaming business model of giving the titles away for free in hope of generating in-game content sales.”

The big tech companies which promoted everything in adjacent markets being free are now erecting paywalls for themselves, balkanizing the web by paying for exclusives to drive their bundled subscriptions.

How many paid movie streaming services will the web have by the end of next year? 20? 50? Does anybody know?

Disney alone with operate Disney+, ESPN+ as well as Hulu.

And then the tech companies are not only licensing exclusives to drive their subscription-based services, but we’re going to see more exclusionary policies like YouTube not working on Amazon Echo, Netflix dumping support for Apple’s Airplay, or Amazon refusing to sell devices like Chromecast or Apple TV.

The good news in a fractured web is a broader publishing industry that contains many micro markets will have many opportunities embedded in it. A Facebook pivot away from games toward news, or a pivot away from news toward video won’t kill third party publishers who have a more diverse traffic profile and more direct revenues. And a regional law blocking porn or gambling websites might lead to an increase in demand for VPNs or free to play points-based games with paid upgrades. Even the rise of metered paywalls will lead to people using more web browsers & more VPNs. Each fracture (good or bad) will create more market edges & ultimately more opportunities. Chinese enforcement of their gambling laws created a real estate boom in Manila.

So long as there are 4 or 5 game stores, 4 or 5 movie streaming sites, etc. … they have to compete on merit or use money to try to buy exclusives. Either way is better than the old monopoly strategy of take it or leave it ultimatums.

The publisher wins because there is a competitive bid. There won’t be an arbitrary 30% tax on everything. So long as there is competition from the open web there will be means to bypass the junk fees & the most successful companies that do so might create their own stores with a lower rate: “Mr. Schachter estimates that Apple and Google could see a hit of about 14% to pretax earnings if they reduced their own app commissions to match Epic’s take.”

As the big media companies & big tech companies race to create subscription products they’ll spend many billions on exclusives. And they will be training consumers that there’s nothing wrong with paying for content. This will eventually lead to hundreds of thousands or even millions of successful niche publications which have incentives better aligned than all the issues the ad supported web has faced.

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Reblogged 1 day ago from feedproxy.google.com

Last Chance! Hero Conf 2019 Starts Next Tuesday, April 23

Hero Conf Philly is Tuesday, April 23 – Thursday, April 25 and includes two full, action-packed days of sessions and a 3rd day of workshops. You’ll see a variety of speakers; top-rated veterans that have roamed the world offering up valuable tip and tricks, as well as the newest up-and-comers in the digital marketing landscape.

Read more at PPCHero.com

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From Email Metrics to Inbound Marketing Taking Advertising Options to the Next Level

Email is one of the most direct ways for organizations to reach their audiences on a 1:1 basis, which means that it is a rich source of information for research and new product development.

Read more at PPCHero.com

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New customer acquisition vs. retention: 7 best practices for search

Here’s how retailers should map their audience strategy for new-versus-returning customers to search.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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How to Create an Editorial Calendar [Examples + Templates]

If you’re anything like me, you’re consistently working out of at least 20 browser tabs, four journals, a yellow legal pad or two, and a myriad of Post-it notes stuck around your computer monitor.

To the average overseer, it’s nothing short of chaos. To the blogger, it’s evidence of a (desperate) need for an editorial calendar.

My muddled system transforms dramatically when I work with a team. I realize the need for organization and structure, and this could not be more necessary than with managing a blog. Without a mutually agreed-upon system for planning, writing, and scheduling content every week, you can find yourself in a pile of missed deadlines, unedited blog posts, and a fair amount of team tension.

There’s no such thing as a perfect editorial calendar — it all depends on the needs of your team. Nonetheless, there are a number of questions you should ask yourself to determine what your editorial calendar should look like. These include:

  • How frequently are you publishing content? Do you have stuff going live every day? Once a week? Perhaps multiple times a day? Finding out how often you publish can tell you how best to visualize your editorial calendar on a regular basis.
  • Do you create more than one type of content? If you upload as many videos to YouTube as you publish articles to your company blog, your editorial calendar will need to distinguish between the two.
  • How many people will use this editorial calendar? The best editorial calendars allow multiple people to brainstorm, collaborate, and provide feedback on assignments in real time — directly on the calendar.
  • What are the various stages content goes through before it’s published? How complex is your content pipeline? Is there a substantial review or approval process that each piece of content goes through? Make sure your calendar can distinguish between two similar assignments that are in different stages of creation.
  • What platform will you use to manage this calendar? There’s no such thing as a perfect editorial calendar, but some software is better than others at helping you solve for your team’s goals. Pick a platform that offers the features or interface that your company needs the most. Your free options include Trello, Airtable, Meistertask, and Google Sheets.

Editorial Calendar Examples

To help you implement an editorial calendar, we’ve also included two real examples from a few of the most successful content teams out there. Check them out below and find out what makes their calendar so useful.

Buffer’s Editorial Calendar

Platform: Trello

Buffer's editorial calendar on blue Trello boardThis is the actual editorial calendar of Buffer, a social media content scheduling platform. Naturally, the company’s own content is supported by an editorial calendar that describes an assignment’s author, title, publish date, and where it is in the company’s editorial workflow (content can be in the “Ideas” stage, in the “Pipeline,” “In Progress,” or “Editing”).

Each rectangular tile shown above represents an individual piece of content — whether it’s a blog post, video, or even a podcast episode.

As you might be able to tell, Buffer’s editorial calendar is built on Trello, a common project management tool. And although you can use Trello more than one way, Buffer uses most of its available features so everyone has the information they need within a few clicks — regardless of what they do for the company and how the calendar affects their work.

“An editorial calendar should be a resource for your whole team, not just content creators,” says Ash Read, Buffer’s editorial director. “It should be something anyone can easily access to see what’s coming up and also suggest content ideas. Sometimes the best content suggestions will come from people outside of your marketing team.”

key-information-in-one-place

In the next screenshot, above, you can see what’s inside each rectangular tile. When you click on an assignment, Buffer logs feedback as the content is created and reviewed. Says Ash: “It’s not just a calendar, but a place to share feedback, editing notes, pitches, ideas and more.”

Unbounce’s Editorial Calendar

Platform: Google Sheets

Editorial calendar example by Unbounce in Google SheetsThis is the editorial calendar of Unbounce, a creator of landing pages and related conversion tools for marketers, as well as a HubSpot integration partner. Unlike Buffer, this company uses Google Sheets to manage their entire content production, and the way they’ve customized the spreadsheet above would be pleasing to the eyes of any content creator.

In addition to organizing their projects by month, what you might notice from the screenshot above is that Unbounce also sorts their content by the campaign they’re serving — as per the first two columns on the lefthand side. This allows the business to see what multiple assignments — listed vertically down the third column — have in common, and track content that extends beyond the Unbounce blog.

Shown below, the Unbounce blog has a separate editorial calendar in Google Sheets that allows the blog to work alongside the larger company initiatives. Nonetheless, using spreadsheets for both content workflows has proven to be the best choice for the company’s growing operation.

blog-editorial-1

“We’re a small content team, so other platforms would likely overcomplicate things,” says Colin Loughran, editor in chief at Unbounce.

Ultimately, this editorial calendar keeps Colin’s team in sync. “While we try to lock dates a few weeks in advance,” he explains, “the reality is that sometimes we need to make changes very quickly. A product launch might move into a slot we’d planned for something else, for instance, or a guest contributor will be delayed in delivering a revised draft. When that’s the case, having a centralized resource that everyone can check is a necessary safety blanket.”

Editorial Calendar Template

Ready to make your own editorial calendar? No matter which platform you ultimately want to work out of, a spreadsheet can help you take inventory of what content you have and how quickly it moves from start to finish. That’s where our free Blog Editorial Calendar Templates come in.

editorial-calendar-template-hubspot

Using the templates linked above, you’ll be able to organize, categorize, and color code to your heart’s content. Use these templates to target the right readers, optimize posts with the best keywords, and pair each topic with a killer call-to-action.

In this download, we’ve included three different templates for you to choose from. Why three? We recognize that not all content teams are the same. While some feel most efficient with a centralized editorial calendar solution, others may need the gentle push of an upcoming deadline right on their personal calendar. Therefore, you’ll have access to all three templates in Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, and Google Calendar.

With a little customization, your blog calendar will be running smoothly, leaving you time to be the content-writing, lead-generating machine you strive to be.

editorial calendar

Reblogged 1 day ago from blog.hubspot.com

The Plain-English Guide to Progressive Web Apps

Whether it’s in sports, music, or business, rivalries always seem to make things more interesting. In basketball, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson transformed the faltering NBA into one of the most popular sports league in the world. In hip-hop, Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur broke a rather niche music genre into the main stream. 

But imagine if some of the world’s fiercest rivals put their differences aside and teamed up to assemble the best product or service on the market. Could you imagine how electric an NSYNC-Backstreet Boys concert would be? Or the sheer power of a Microsoft-Apple supercomputer?

In the digital age, you could say mobile websites and apps are rivals. Brands developed mobile apps to phase out the use of their fast yet janky mobile websites when the demand for mobile devices exploded. Unfortunately, they soon discovered that mobile apps are quite sluggish and require more steps to access than mobile websites, like finding and downloading them from the app store.

To develop an app that offers the speed of a mobile website and the user experience of a mobile app, Google decided to end the rivalry between mobile websites and apps and blended their best functionalities together, birthing the progressive web app in 2015.

1. Uber

Uber's progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

To provide their users who use low-end mobile devices with a similar web experience as their mobile app, Uber built a progressive web app that works on 2G networks. So regardless of your network speed, device, and even location, you can use Uber’s PWA to book a ride. This is especially helpful if you’re in a location with spotty service or your phone isn’t compatible with their mobile app.

2. Starbucks

Starbucks' progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

Starbucks’ progressive web app is quite similar to its native mobile app, but the biggest difference between the two is that their PWA takes up significantly less space than their native mobile app and it works offline. When you’re offline, you can use their PWA to browse their menu, customize your orders, and add items to your cart. When you’re online, you can check each store location’s prices and place orders.

3. 2048

2048's progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

There’s arguably no other game as addicting as 2048. When it was released in 2014, the video game attracted over 10 million unique visitors in its first month, and when it was rolled out as a mobile app, it attracted even more downloads. When you play 2048 on its progressive web application, it looks and feels just like its mobile app, but its main differentiator is that you can play the game both online and offline.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest's progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

When Pinterest discovered that only 1% of their mobile users converted into sign-ups, logins, or native app installs because of their app’s poor user experience (a 23 second load time), they reconstructed their mobile app into a progressive web application. Within three months, their PWA saw a 40% increase in time spent over five minutes, a 44% increase in user-generated ad revenue, and a 50% increase in ad click-throughs compared to their old mobile app.

5. Housing.com

Housing.com's progressive web application

Image Credit: SimiCart

Housing.com, India’s main online real estate platform that attracts over 9 million visits per month, has a target audience of low-end mobile device users who only have access to network speeds of 2G or 3G. So to cater to their users and boost their conversion rates, they built a progressive web app that users can quickly find property on even when they’re offline.

examples of brilliant homepage, blog, and landing page design

Reblogged 1 day ago from blog.hubspot.com

How Being a Good Listener Can Help You Write Effective Sales Copy

The post How Being a Good Listener Can Help You Write Effective Sales Copy appeared first on ProBlogger.

How being a good listener can help you write effective sales copy

This post is based on episode 146 of the ProBlogger podcast.

Before you start writing your sales page, promotional blog post, tweets or Facebook updates to sell something, you need to do something else.

You need to listen.

I first came across this advice many years ago, and since then I’ve heard from numerous people. Robert Bruce breaks it down very well in his Copyblogger post How to Become a Truly Great Copywriter, where he writes about three core ways you need to listen.

It’s a short post, with three key paragraphs I want to dig into here.

#1: Listen to the Product’s Creator

Robert writes:

Listen to the creator of the product you’re selling. Let her talk (for hours if necessary) about what makes it work, why she built it, what she hopes it will do for her customers. This practice alone can give you the bulk of your copy.

Maybe someone on your team created a product or service your business sells. Maybe you’re selling an ebook that someone else wrote. (All our Digital Photography School ebooks and courses have been created in partnership with someone else.)

Even if you created the product yourself, you might find it helpful to run through some of these questions:

Why do you want to create this product? Who’s it for? (Or if it has already created, who did you have in mind when you created it?)

What are the benefits of the product? How do you use it? What makes it work? What’s the product’s ‘secret sauce’? What problem does it solve?

Do you have any or worries about how your product will be perceived? What are they? (This is really useful information, as it lets you know the limitations of the product, or how it could potentially be misunderstood.)

Are there any similar products out there? How is your product different?

Over at Digital Photography School we ask a lot of these questions before the product is created. The author or creator gives us a description or outline of the product and tells us who it’s for. This helps us decide whether the product will be a good fit for our audience, and how to market it.

Here’s a simple example. When we launched Mike Newton’s Adobe Lightroom course, we noticed that Mike kept using the words “mastering Lightroom” when explaining the course to us. He wanted to help people master Lightroom.

We liked that, and decided to call the course Lightroom Mastery. We used the word “mastering” quite a bit in the sales copy.

That’s just one example of how an author’s language helped shape the sales material.

This can also work if you’re doing an affiliate promotion. Ideally you’d talk to the product creator. But if you can’t then look at the sales copy they use, the blog posts they’ve written about their product, and interviews they’ve done with other bloggers.

#2: Listen to Your Audience

Robert writes:

Listen to your audience. What are they telling you — directly or indirectly — about what they really want and need? If social media has given us anything, it’s an unprecedented ability to hear the demands and desires of real people, in real time.

I love this idea of listening to your audience when it comes to sales copy. This is something you want to do before you even start creating products. That way, you know your readers’ needs and challenges, and get an insight into the language they use.

When you’re writing sales copy, ask yourself some of these questions:

Who is the audience? Who will buy this product?

What are their pain points? What are their challenges? What are their problems? How do they express these – what language do they use?

What do they hope to gain? What are the dreams they hope could come true by using your product, or a product like yours? Again, what language do they use to describe these?

What are their fears? What questions do they have about your product, and what objections do they raise? (These may come out after you’ve launched your product. If they do you can edit your sales page, perhaps by adding Frequently Asked Questions section.)

You can also ask your readers about their challenges directly. When we were launching the Lightroom cause, I asked on the Digital Photograph School Facebook page, “What are your frustrations and challenges with Lightroom?”

Two themes came out strongly:

  • people had bought the software, but felt overwhelmed by it and weren’t using it
  • people had so many photos they didn’t have time to process them.

And so we weaved these two themes into our sales copy.

#3: Listen to Your Competitors

Robert writes:

Listen to your competitors. It’s wise to have a view of the entire field. What’s working in your market? What’s not working? What can you learn from others’ success and failure (and from the language that got them there)?

In the blogging space you can learn a lot from your competitors, who may also be your collaborators.

On Digital Photography School we often create products with people who are actually our competitors. The Lightroom course I’ve been referring to was created by Mike Newton, who sells similar products to ours on his own site. He came onto our radar when we were looking for affiliate products to promote, and we learned a lot by looking at how he was selling his products.

Knowing what other people are selling and how they’re selling it can really shape what you do. Maybe the way they do their sales pages, their launch emails, or even their social media will inspire you.

If you’re selling something at the moment, or if you’re about to create your first product, do this listening exercise.

Listen to whoever created the product, whether it was you or someone else.

Listen to your audience and understand the language they use – this should be the basis for your sales copy.

Listen to your competitors and collaborators, too.

That way you’ll be creating a product your readers will love, and promoting it in a way that shows how it can help them.

Image credit: Jeremy Vessey

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