FAQ This! Why Should I Care About Amazon AI?

The past three months, it seems, have been a nonstop parade of major tech events and the new product announcements that come with them.

One of the latest was last week’s AWS re:Invent, where Amazon announced a new suite of AI-enabled technology designed with businesses in mind.

And while these new products, features, and tools come with a host of opportunities for the developers, marketers, and others who plan to use them, they also raise a few questions. What are they designed to do? How can they help you? How do they work?

There’s also one less-official question that occurred to me as I learned of these developments. Is Amazon trying to creep into Google’s territory?

Let’s take a look at some of these AI announcements from AWS re:Invent and dig deeper into just what they mean.

1. What Is AWS Re:INVENT?

AWS re:Invent is what Amazon describes as “a learning conference” produced by Amazon Web Services — that’s what AWS stands for. The intended audience is what it calls the “the global cloud computing community,” but the event features content for anyone who wants to learn how cloud technology can help grow and scale a business. From AdTech, to content delivery, to the internet of things, the conference ranges in learning opportunities from keynotes to certification sessions.

2. What Were the Major AI Capabilities Announced at AWS Re:INVENT 2017?

While a handful of new capabilities were unveiled by AWS, there are four that I’d like to focus on (with a bit of teaser text below on what each one is capable of doing):

  1. Comprehend: text analysis for a variety of content formats
  2. DeepLens: a wireless, artificially intelligent video camera with newly enhanced object recognition
  3. Transcribe: speech recognition technology to convert the spoken word to text
  4. Translate: what it sounds like — advanced text translation technology 

If some of these sound familiar — or seem reminiscent of similar capabilities previously made somewhat famous by a certain search engine giant — chances are, it’s because they are familiar. I’ll delve deeper into this below, but many of these capabilities reflect those for which Google has been known to be a leader, especially in the realm of translation. After all, who could forget this jaunty promotional video on the topic?

 

 

 

3. What is Deep Learning vs. Machine Learning?

The reason why I want to establish the difference between these two technologies (and what they are, in the first place) is that most of these capabilities use one or both. 

Machine learning essentially describes the ability of a machine to learn things — habits, language, behaviors, and patterns, to name a few — without having been programmed to do so, or pre-loaded with that knowledge. It doesn’t describe artificial intelligence in entirety, but rather, is one very important AI capability.

Deep learning is a type of machine learning — and is a bit trickier to explain. Basically, it takes the next (big) step in that it’s designed to imitate the way the human brain works by way of something called neural networks. In our brains, we have biological neural networks in which the action of one neuron creates a series of subsequent actions that ultimately result in our different behaviors.

In technology, artificial neural networks seek to replicate that phenomenon by becoming “trained” to comprehend data based on a certain set of criteria. One of the more notable examples of deep learning in practice is in image recognition, in which neural networks are able to recognize different data patterns or cues to learn what, for example, a cat looks like.

4. What Is Amazon Comprehend?

Amazon Comprehend uses something called natural language processing (NLP) to better understand and determine the meaning within text. It’s an instance of machine learning, in which the technology learns how to comprehend — if you will — and process language as it was intended by the human being speaking or writing it.

Comprehend performs this capability with a series of steps:

  1. Identify the language.
  2. Pick out the phrases that most strongly indicate what the text is about — things like names of people, companies, places, or important events.
  3. Use those phrases to determine if the sentiment of the text is positive or negative.
  4. File that set of text according to its topic within a collection of subjects it has already organized based on patterns it’s observed.

So, how does this technology apply to the real world? Well, it’s particularly helpful in an instance of, say, analyzing written customer feedback. By feeding these comments to an API like Comprehend, marketers can use this technology to synthesize data from their audiences to determine something like thematic areas of improvement.

5. What Is DeepLens?

Simply put, DeepLens is a high definition video camera that was designed with developers in mind. It was built with deep learning capabilities and what AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr describes as “pre-trained models for image detection and recognition.”

In other words, it’s a very smart camera: one that can recognize objects, faces, motions, and creatures (e.g., a dog from a cat). And while that’s very cool — not to mention, somewhat reminiscent of the recently-announced Google Clips camera — there’s a reason why it could prove so helpful to businesses.

To start, DeepLens comes with a number of “templates,” or recognition technologies that users can build upon for their own projects. Object and action recognition, for example, can help to more seamlessly create something like product tutorials or demonstrations, by developing a system or algorithm that learns to recognize how the two are paired for different outcomes.

For example, if you’re demonstrating how a certain cooking appliance can be applied to different scenarios, it seems that DeepLens can be utilized in building a system to recognize the appliance itself (like a standing mixer), the actions the user can take with it (like mixing cake batter), and the resulting outcome (a delicious cake).

Source: Amazon Web Services

 

6. What Is Amazon Transcribe?

Anyone with a journalism background is more than familiar with the headache joy of transcribing spoken interviews. We want to get it just right, be sure not to misquote the interviewee, and communicate what was said in the right context.

If only, back in my earliest days of reporting, there were advanced transcription services available to the common writer.

But now, there’s Transcribe: an AWS service that uses machine learning technologies to recognize the spoken word and transcribe it into text.

While the function itself is fairly intuitive, the benefits might not be. So let’s lay out two instances where technology like this can be applied to a marketer’s world:

  1. Interview transcription. I already covered this a few paragraphs earlier, but let’s say you’re writing up a blog post that requires quotes from a spoken interview. This technology eliminates the time-consuming step of transcribing what was said, and leaves you instead with all of the text from that conversation, allowing you to pick and choose the quotes you want to incorporate.
  2. Video transcription. Accessibility is no longer optional. It’s important to provide a way for individuals who are hearing impaired to be able to consume and enjoy your video content, even without the audio. Transcribing what is said in the video by way of full paragraphs or subtitles allows them to do so — and, it allows those who simply prefer to watch videos without sound to be able to absorb the content, as well.

These are only two of the more prominent examples of how such technology could be applied, but there are many more, from transcribing podcasts, to documenting notes from an important meeting.

7. What Is Amazon Translate?

This development might be my favorite.

Around here, we talk a great deal about approaching marketing with a global mindset. While I might use JetBlue as a remarkable example of marketing, it might not resonate as much with audiences in countries where this airline doesn’t operate.

To put it simply, the internet is a global, international destination. The people reading your content might not regularly engage with the same brands you do, and they might not speak the same language.

That’s why a growing number of developers and marketers are building a multilingual web presence — one where their online properties and content can be seamlessly viewed in the language preferred by the user. It’s a trend that, as HubSpot’s own global presence continues to grow, I take inordinate glee in seeing.

It’s also why I love seeing tools become available that make it easier to approach marketing with a “global first” mindset. Translate is one such tool: a service that uses machine learning to more naturally translate text from one language to another. 

Here’s a look at how it worked when translating a French paragraph to English:

Source: Amazon Web Services

So, here’s the million-dollar question: Is Amazon creeping into Google’s territory?

Maybe.

It’s not the definitive answer I hoped to have, but in these early release days, it might be too soon to tell. While most of Google’s headline-making AI developments are largely consumer-centric (like the previous example of Clips), it is true that the company has been working on its own stack of machine learning capabilities for businesses. Look no further than Google.ai, for example, where the mission is to bring “the benefits of AI to everyone” — including, I assume, marketers.

This is only the beginning.

What are you most excited about? What confuses or scares you, and what fills you with delight? Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on these AWS AI developments on Twitter, or let me know if you have a question about it.

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5 VR Marketing Examples That You’ll Want to Steal for 2018

The holidays are coming, and I’m feeling cheerful.

So, I’ll do you a solid: I won’t lecture you on the importance of incorporating virtual reality into your 2018 marketing strategy.

But, in the spirit of giving, I will share the following fun facts:

  • By 2020, the economic impact of virtual and augmented reality is predicted to reach $29.5 billion.
  • By the end of 2017, the combined total of VR software and hardware from Sony, Oculus, HTC, and others is predicted to reach 5.1 million units. That’s over a 75% increase from 2016. 
  • By 2020, the number of VR headsets sold is predicted to reach 82 million — a 1507% increase from 2017 predicted totals.

In other words: Yeah, VR marketing is a thing you need to think about.Click here to take inspiration from the most remarkable campaigns we've ever  seen.

And if you’re seeking inspiration, look no further. Here are five of our favorite VR marketing campaigns. 

1. Key Technology: VERYX Food Sorting

Key Technology, a manufacturer and designer of food processing systems, created a Virtual Reality demo that would allow attendees of the Pack Expo food packaging trade show to experience a detailed, hands-on look at how the company’s VERYX digital food sorting platform works. It was part of a comprehensive B2B campaign to grow brand awareness among a target audience of food manufacturers, and VR gave participants a highly unique look at what exactly the process looks like inside of the machine.

While this 360° video doesn’t completely replicate the experience, it does indicate the differentiating way brands within such B2B industries as manufacturing can leverage VR to immersively demonstrate their sophisticated technologies and capabilities.

2. Defy Ventures and Within: Step To The Line

When I attended Oculus Connect in October, the most memorable experience for me was, by far, the event’s VR For Good exhibit: a showcase of creative work that used Oculus and VR technology for social- and mission-focused ventures.

One such example of that work was Step To The Line: A short film (that was immersively viewed on a VR headset) documenting the lives of inmates at California maximum-security prisons. It was created by Within, a VR storytelling production company, in partnership with Defy Ventures, an entrepreneurship and development program for men, women, and youth who are currently or were formerly incarcerated.

With this unique watching experience, viewers were able to uniquely see what life is like within the walls of these correctional facilities, from the yard, to the cells, to the conversations that take place there.

3. Limbic Life: Project VITALICS

For far too many people, injuries, age, and disease can diminish mobility and equilibrium to the point where walking ranges from extremely painful to nearly impossible.

That’s why the folks at Limbic Life created the Limbic Chair, in partnership with the VITALICS research being conducted by RehaClinic. Pairing this special chair with a Gear VR headset allows users to more intuitively move their bodies (thanks to the chair’s combined neuroscience-based and ergonomic design) while virtually experiencing day-to-day experiences with a rehabilitative use of their hands and legs.

While the research is still underway and no definitive conclusions have been drawn, I had the opportunity to use the chair at the 2017 Samsung Developer Conference and speak with the chair’s creator, Dr. Patrik Künzler.

“Patients enjoy being in the chair and the freedom of movement it allows. They enjoy VR a lot, especially the flying games,” he told Samsung Business Insights. And not only can the VR technology help them physically heal, but it also contributes to emotional rehabilitation.

“When they get up from the chair,” Künzler said, “they’re in a good mood and feel happy.”

Learn more about the conceptualization behind the Limbic Chair from Künzler’s TEDxZurich talk below.

4. Lowes: Holoroom How To

Anyone who’s gone through the existential angst of being a first-time buyer knows the unfathomable power of paperwork and finances to undermine the fun of designing or decorating a new home.

That is, until you walk into one of 19 Lowes stores that features the Holoroom How To VR experience.

If you’re lucky enough to have any money leftover to pay a professional to renovate your home, well, good for you. But for the rest of us, the next stop is the world of do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement, which comes with its own hefty dose of stress.

That’s why Lowes decided to step in and help out homeowners — or recreational DIY enthusiasts — with a virtual skills-training clinic that uses HTC Vive headsets that guides participants through a visual, educational experience on the how-to of home improvement.

5. Boursin: The Sensorium

I’ll be honest. I recently pledged to give up dairy — okay, 48 hours ago — and I already miss cheese, a lot. 

You can imagine my glee, then, when I discovered that cheese brand Boursin once created a VR experience to take users on a multi-sensory journey through a refrigerator to shed light on its products’ flavor profiles, food pairings, and recipe ideas.

The goal: to raise awareness among U.K. consumers of Boursin’s distinct taste and product selection.

While the VR installment was part of a live experiential marketing campaign, the rest of us can get a taste — pun intended — of the virtual experience via this YouTube video.

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How to Reclaim an Unproductive Day in 6 Steps

Click. Click. Click.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

That’s the sound of an unproductive day passing by. It’s the sound of any day, Monday through Friday, going to waste — where despite your best intentions, you just can’t seem to get moving, or get stuff done.

It happens to all of us. Seriously.Download our complete productivity guide here for more tips on improving your  productivity at work.

But what’s an otherwise industrious person to do when these days unexpectedly fall upon us? We’ve got some ideas — six of ’em, in fact.

1) Remember what’s in store when you’re done with your tasks.

Truth time: Sometimes, I bribe myself.

I know how silly it sounds, but it’s true. If there’s a task that I’ve been putting off, but there’s also something else I’ve been looking forward to doing, I’ll bribe myself with the latter to get the former done.

Case in point: I had a rather big piece of writing to complete over the summer, and as the clock was running out on my deadline, I was having trouble getting started. At the same time, my best friend and I were heading to Las Vegas in a few weeks, and I was really looking forward to planning the trip.

“Okay, self,” I thought. “You get a draft done today, and tonight, you can start planning your Vegas trip.”

It doesn’t even have to be something that’s a big deal, like planning a vacation. My colleague, HubSpot Senior Growth Marketing Manager Niti Shah, once told me that she pays herself in cookies and mozzarella sticks for completed tasks.

The point is, it’s okay to reward yourself for progress. Just make sure the reward matches the work completed, and that you’re not treating yourself to a week in Hawaii for sending an email.

2) Take a break.

This one is an oldy-but-goody. According to data collected by DeskTime, the top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. And during those periods, they use hyperfocus: No work during breaks (that includes email), and no distractions during the work time.

I often liken this tip to boxing training. When I used to box, I had a trainer who would have me throw non-stop punches for three-minute intervals, with one-minute breaks in between. If you haven’t tried it, three minutes is a long time for that kind of exercise, which makes the one-minute rest period especially important for your heart rate and muscle recovery.

In my experience, the mind works in a similar way. An hour spent on a task or a project that requires deep thinking, creativity, or number-crunching is, to me, the equivalent of a three-minute, high-intensity boxing interval. You need the recovery period. So next time you feel like your brain just can’t quite throw that left hook, take a minute, and let your “intellectual heart rate” return to normal.

3) Work on something completely unrelated to your to-do list.

When I was visiting my parents for Thanksgiving — which happened to overlap with the writing of this blog post — my mom asked me if I could help her troubleshoot an issue on her laptop.

It was the last thing I wanted, or thought I had time to do. It was a short week. I was taking a day off. I had a long list of things to do, and I was already taking longer to get through it than I had hoped. But it was my mom, after all, so of course, I helped.

By the time we were done figuring out the problem, for some reason, I felt reinvigorated. I had a new motivation to finish my tasks, and finish them quickly. Sure, I had taken a “break,” in some sense — but I had also redirected my brain to another task. My mind was still being put to use, but for something completely unrelated to my to-do list.

If you’re feeling stuck, use your brain for something else. Maybe there’s a colleague who you’ve been meaning to get back to on an unrelated project, or maybe you just need to do a quick online puzzle. Keeping your mind active while giving it a break from the dredge of your to-do list might leave you feeling re-energized and ready to hit the ground running, wherever you left off.

4) Deny the “delete” key.

Writer’s block, amirite?

If you work in marketing, there’s a chance that, at some point, your job requires you to write something. And we know — that’s not easy, even when you do it every day. And much of the time, it’s getting the words down that’s the hardest part, whether it’s getting a composition started, or getting the sentences to sound right.

STOP. That second part, about getting it to sound right? Forget it.

For way too many of us, our perfectionism is a pitfall to productivity. We write, stop, delete, re-write, and repeat the process until 45 minutes have gone by and we’ve written one sentence.

“I’d even say to ignore the ‘delete’ key on your first draft,” HubSpot Sales Blog Editor Aja Frost once advised

You heard it here: Deleting is not your friend. Just form a sentence — any sentence relevant to your topic — and keep going.

5) Make plans.

Remember what I said about bribing yourself? Well, sometimes, you might have to invent said bribe to get yourself motivated.

Here’s another tale of writing something that I had been putting off. (I’m not a slacker — I swear.) At about 4:00 PM one afternoon, I thought to myself, “I really, really need to get this done before I leave.” So, I texted a friend and asked if she wanted to meet for happy hour at 6:00.

Boom. Instant deadline.

The thing is, it was a self-imposed deadline — one that was established by plans to do something fun. If I had just set a timer for two hours, for example, it may not have been as effective. But because cutoff time was motivated by something recreational, I really wanted to get my task done.

A word of caution, however: Do not — I repeat, do not rush through your work and turn in something with poor quality just for the sake of getting it done. Once your task is complete, let it marinate overnight, then come back to it with a new perspective the next day.

6) Do the thing you dread the most — even if it’s the only thing you accomplish today.

We’ve all had that long list of tasks that contains one, glaring item that seems like moving a boulder up a hill. Except, you dread facing that boulder so much that it causes a bit of “productivity paralysis,” and in the process of putting off that one item, you end up putting off everything else on the list, too.

What? Am I the only one who’s wasted an entire morning looking at real estate listings instead of addressing what I needed to get done?

That’s when you need to face the boulder, because it’s still going to be there, no matter how many homes you fantasize about buying. And once that one, dreaded task is complete, the rest of the items on your list probably pale in comparison — and you might be so energized by getting the biggest one done, that since you’re already on a roll, you feel newly motivated to get everything else done.

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10 of the Best Ads from November: Elves, Llamas, and a Business Cat

If you think November is too early to be dreaming of sugarplum fairies and hanging the stockings with care, then consider this your official warning: this post is heavy on the holiday cheer.

To everyone else, hello. November brought us a delightful crop of festive ads, including the much-anticipated annual Christmas spot from UK retailer John Lewis — which dependably goes viral every year. Other highlights include a modern day #Cinderella story, a pack of friendly llamas, and a snowed-in dinner with strangers.Click here to take inspiration from the most remarkable campaigns we've ever  seen. So grab a cup of hot chocolate, crank up Mariah Carey’s timeless 1994 album Merry Christmas, and let’s unapologetically indulge in some much-needed holiday spirit. 

10 of the Best Ads from November

1) Samsung

An apartment building’s thoughtful concierge goes above and beyond to ensure his tennants feel festive when they arrive home — no matter what holiday they’re celebrating.  

Set to Ella Fitzgerald’s “Give a Little, Get a Little,” the 60-second spot was produced by London based agency adam&eveDBB. 

 

2) Waitrose

After getting unexpectedly snowed into a busy pub, a group of strangers make the most of the situation and hold an elaborate holiday feast. The ad for the British supermarket chain was inspired by true events, and produced by adam&eveDDB.

 

3) Volkswagen

Another adam&eveDDB-produced ad, “Born Confident” follows a rebellious (and absolutely adorable) young ram as he intimidates other farm animals. The production team used custom 3D software to develop a character that struck just the right balance of cute and realistic.

 

4) John Lewis

Brits love the annual Christmas spot from John Lewis — like, really love it. The ads always seem to strike the perfect balance of childhood whimsy and heartache (and the adorable animated creatures that usually take on a starring role don’t hurt either).

The 2017 spot follows a similar formula: a little boy befriends the delightful, non-scary monster under his bed, and spends his nights playing with him. Naturally, there’s a lovely twist at the end that just might make you shed a few tears at your desk — I certainly did.

 

5) Heathrow

Last year, Heathrow Airport introduced us to a snuggly pair of traveling teddy bears (they appeared as #6 of our November ad round-up last year). This holiday season, they’re sharing the backstory of how the diminutive bears — named Doris and Edward Bair — first met, and spoiler alert: it’s very adorable.

The two-minute short, produced by Havas London, follows the couple from their first meeting in the 1960s (on a plane, of course).

 

6) Cost Plus World Market

Here’s a pro marketing tip: when in doubt, cute animals and children generally perform well in ads. In this extended spot for Cost Plus World Market, produced by barrettSF, a young boy rehearsing for his big Christmas recital finds a perfect practice audience in the form of a friendly, attentive herd of llamas.

 

7) ZTE Axon M

To promote their new dual-screen smartphone, ZTE worked with Energy BBDO to bring together two inherently incompatible things: productivity and cat videos. To illustrate how cat videos and business simply don’t mix, we’re introduced to Business Cat, a cat who, well, is not very good at business. You get it.

“One screen for business, another for cat videos,” the voiceover declares — right after Business Cat knocks over a fresh coffee and blinks apathetically at the screen.

 

8) BMO

If I told you to picture a startup founder, who do you see?

This ad series from BMO Bank of Montreal gently exposes our unconscious biases when it comes to women in leadership roles traditionally held by men. Using unisex names and some clever twists, the ads play right into our expectations of what a leader looks like, and then show us the women hiding in plain sight. Developed by FCB Canada, the ads were produced by a predominantly female team led by Chief Creative Officer Nancy Crimi-Lamanna.

 

9) Debenhams

Have you ever thought, if Cinderella had a smartphone, that story probably would have been a lot shorter?

That’s pretty much the plot of Debenhams’s Christmas ad, a modern day retelling of the classic fairytale featuring hashtags and a voice-over by Ewan McGregor. Produced by J. Walter Thompson London, the ad follows a pair of star-crossed lovers as they attempt to reconnect after a chance meeting with some help from the internet.

 

10) Argos

In this cinematic ad for Argos, a particularly dedicated elf realizes a toy shipment is missing a special gift — and goes to great lengths to make sure it makes it to the intended child.

 

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8 of the Biggest Marketing Mistakes We’ve Ever Seen

Everyone makes mistakes. Even (especially?) marketers. Usually, we learn from them and move on with our lives, maybe escaping with just a touch of public shaming. But what happens to those companies that make mistakes on a much greater scale and cost their company millions in clout or (gulp) dollars?

They go down in history as the biggest marketing mistakes of our time. It’s hard to move on when you’re being cited as the example of what not to do, huh?

We looked into the biggest mistakes from many popular brands — but glossed similar instances of faux pas from smaller companies, because, well, we don’t want to hurt the up-and-comers.

Keep reading for a little entertainment, and some reminders of what you should never do to ensure you don’t repeat these mistakes yourself.

1) Guerilla Marketing Without Due Diligence

In 2007, Cartoon Network launched a guerrilla marketing campaign in which it set up LED signs in various places throughout cities to promote one of their cartoons.

A resident in Boston, however, thought the devices were bombs and called the police. This turned into a terrorism scare, resulting in the shut-down of many public transportation lines, bridges, and roads.

The problem cost the head of Cartoon Network his job, and the broadcasting company $2 million in compensation for the emergency response team.

This campaign is a symptom of thinking in a silo — marketers must always be aware of current events and public sentiment when crafting campaigns. Most people, particularly city dwellers, are on high alert for signs of something fishy. I guess you can say hindsight is 20/20, but large-scale guerrilla marketing campaigns of this nature should really consider all possible outcomes before launch.

2) Tone Deaf Tweets

In early 2011, a tweet was sent out from Kenneth Cole’s Twitter account trying to promote their new spring collection. No big deal, right? Except when it’s offensive, insensitive, and offends millions of people. The tweet was a poor play on the political turmoil happening at the time in Egypt:

Screen shot 2011-02-03 at 12.30.12 PM
 
Source: Business Insider

The tweet came from the Kenneth Cole corporate Twitter account — actually, from the chairman himself, as indicated by the “KC” in the tweet.

The company received negative feedback immediately, and they soon took the tweet down in response and apologized to anyone offended by the tweet. The lesson social media marketers can learn from this awful mistake is that humor doesn’t work if you’re newsjacking something contentious.

3) Lackluster New Logos

In October 2010, Gap launched a new logo in an attempt to be more modern. Guess how long that lasted?

gap logo new

Source: Vanity Fair

A whopping two days.

Gap quickly put the old logo back into place after unbelievable backlash from the public.

Gap, known for everyday basics, tried to redo their image to appeal to a more hip crowd. Unfortunately, the brand didn’t understand who its target market is — the people who want the basics and aren’t interested in trendy styles. Its loyal customers felt that Gap was changing their image for the worse, and lost a connection with the brand.

Gap was also unsuccessful at attracting the younger, trendy generation with the redesign (albeit, only a two-day redesign), resulting in a failure on two fronts with this new logo.

While it wasn’t so awful for Gap to pursue a logo redesign, the lesson is simply to stay in touch with your buyer personas so you can ensure your new design reflects them. Marketers focus a lot on metrics — for good reasons — but never underestimate your audience’s feelings towards your brand. They’re harder to quantify, sure, but boy will people speak out when their sensibilities are offended.

4) Losing Sight of Loyal Customers

In 2011, Netflix had a $16 billion market value with its mail-order rental. But then, the brand decided to enter the digital streaming market with a brand called “Qwikster,” an easy alternative to mail order DVDs.

Source: Idea Lemon

Unfortunately, splitting the company between Netflix’s mail-order DVDs and Qwikster’s DVD streaming made things more complicated — not to mention, it resulted in a 60% price increase for those who wanted both services.

Even worse, current customers weren’t grandfathered into the new price structure at the old rate, causing serious negativity amidst all the general confusion. Plus, the Qwikster Twitter handle was already owned by someone else: a pot smoker who discussed boredom, smoking, and partying.

According to CNET, the company lost 800,000 subscribers and its stock price dropped 77% in four months.

Businesses need to remain agile and fast-moving to stay relevant, but make sure you communicate those changes to your audience clearly before making them. Oh, and don’t forget to show gratitude to your current customers, instead of giving them the short end of the stick.

5) Being Too Speedy With Sends

In December 2011, the New York Times sent an email to people who recently canceled their subscriptions asking them to reconsider, and giving them a discount to sweeten the deal.

Sounds like a good idea to get a customer back, right?

Too bad an employee accidentally sent it to 8 million subscribers — instead of the list of 300 that it was meant for. Whoops.

Source: Daily Beast

Subscribers instantly assumed that the email was spam as a result of hackers. Some were even mad that they weren’t getting the same discount as a loyal customer.

Of course, employees responded immediately apologizing and telling people it was an unfortunate human error.

Still, this type of mistake is every email marketer’s nightmare, and it serves as a much-needed reminder to always double check your list before clicking ‘Send’ on any campaign!

6) Promising Free Stuff — and Running out of It

Timothy’s Coffee did what many brands have done to increase social media reach: offer a coupon or free sample for following them on social media.

Unfortunately, Timothy’s offered more than it could deliver, depleting its supply of free K-cup packs after only three days.

Get this: It wasn’t until two weeks later that Timothy’s sent out a message saying that coupons and samples were issued on a first-come, first-serve basis. Talk about too little, too late.

Source: Sparker Strategy Group

Despite an apology video and the potential for receiving a free coupon in the mail, Timothy’s is still trying to recover from the fan backlash on social media. 

When running a contest on social media, don’t underestimate the impact of your offer — especially if it’s meant to grow reach.

Think about it: If your contest works — and you’re designing a contest based on the premise that it will work, I hope — your reach will get bigger with each new participant. If you can’t actually back up your end of the contest bargain, all that new reach will be used to hurt your brand, instead of singing its praises.

7) Fixing Something That Isn’t Broken

In 1985, Coca-Cola tried to introduce a new, sweeter version of their beverage to combat its (then) new competitor: Pepsi.

Those of us who were around at the time remember the Pepsi commercials boasting that, in blind taste tests, people preferred its taste over Coke’s. 

Coke, for its part, felt the need to regain market share with a new recipe. So, how did that turn out? 

Not well. Public response was so negative, in fact, that people were actually hoarding the old Coke flavor, and selling it on the black-market for grossly inflated prices.

Why were people so upset? Coke’s brand embodied classic American traditions — so, Coke drinkers didn’t want a new flavor. They wanted that classic beverage whose secret recipe was guarded under lock and key in Georgia.

Finally, after retiring the “New Coke” recipe, sales of the old classic — actually renamed “Coca-Cola Classic” to make it extra clear to consumers — rose significantly.

So, what do we take away from this marketing mistake? Learn what your customers want before spending time and money on a top-secret product or service change.

8) Getting Lost in Translation

Coke wasn’t the only major beverage to blunder, though. When Pepsi expanded its market to China, it launched with the slogan, “Pepsi brings you back to life.”

What the brand didn’t realize, however, is that the phrase actually translated to, “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.”

 

Source: Glantz Design

Okay, maybe this mistake is kind of funny. But, when you’re a brand that’s working toward major international expansion, a mistake like this one might not exactly have you in stitches.

If you’re launching a new market, be sure to do some cultural research. And please — ask native speakers of the language what your slogan actually means.

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The Complete SEO Starter Pack [Free Download]

Think about everything you’ve bought in the last six months, specifically the big purchases. When was the last time you didn’t start a shopping trip with a Google search? If your answer is anything close to “I can’t remember,” you’re in good company. Every year, over 2.8 trillion search queries are made on Google alone.

A strong SEO strategy will help your business generate more leads and get found by potential customers, but search engines are constantly switching up and tightening up their criteria for high rankings. If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of search engines and their algorithms, how will you know what steps to take to help your business get found?Click here to get everything you need to get your website ranking in search.

Ryte and HubSpot have joined forces to bring you the answers you’re “searching” for with a 3-part Complete SEO Starter Pack. The kit includes everything you need to get your website and blog ranking on search engines, specifically:

  • A 30-day SEO planner (with tips and strategies for each day of the month)
  • Beginner’s guide on “What is SEO” and the new era of search engines
  • A template for on-page SEO tips in excel
  • The keys to gaining inbound links to your site for improved off-page SEO
  • Which performance indicators to track when analyzing SEO performance
  • How to structure your web pages for maximum on-page SEO
  • How to identify the keywords your target audience is searching for
  • And much more on a successful long-term SEO strategy 

Click here to download your Complete SEO Starter Pack

marketing

 
Click here to get everything you need to get your website ranking in search.

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12 of the Sassiest Brands on Social Media

Brands use social media for a lot of things: to distribute content, to share news, to provide customer service.

And sometimes, brands use social media for jokes, burns, and unmitigated sass.

When brand accounts share personality and humor on social media, it’s delightful — and it captivates the collective internet. It’s funny when brand accounts use social media like the real people behind the copy, and it breaks up the monotony of the negativity and mistrust that characterizes a lot of people’s feelings about their social feeds.Click here to learn about using social media in every stage of the funnel.

So we’ve rounded up 12 brand accounts to share the burns, the jokes, and the GIFs that make these sassy profiles some of our favorites online.

12 of the Sassiest Brands on Social Media

1) MoonPie

No list of sassy brand social media accounts is complete without MoonPie — the vintage snack cake that started garnering a lot more attention on Twitter for its quirky insights — and burns — after launching a Twitter beef with Hostess Snacks over whose treat was the official snack of the solar eclipse in the summer of 2017.

moonpietweet1.png

MoonPie is never afraid to wade into hotly contested debates, like the still-raging critique of Twitter doubling its character limit to 280.

But remember, it’s not all fun and games — MoonPie’s witty social media manager has feelings, too.

2) Helper

… as in, Hamburger Helper. Helper likes to wade into the social media muck by savagely burning people back when they try to make fun of the quick and easy meal brand — like so:

helpertweet1.png

Simply put, Helper tells it like it is — and helps followers confront critical conflicts within their families and their kitchens.

helpertweet2.png

I don’t eat hamburger, but even I can get on board with this level of hilarity from a brand on social media.

3) Tesco Mobile

Tesco Mobile is a mobile phone provider in the United Kingdom, and from what I can tell from customer complaints on Twitter, its cellular coverage might not be the best in the biz. It makes up for dropped calls, however, by coming back with hilarious takes and jabs in response to the haters.

tescomobiletweet.png

Seriously, don’t make fun of Tesco Mobile lightly — be prepared for them to come into your mentions with a fiery reply that mocks everything about you.

tescotweet.png

4) Discovery

Normally, Discovery‘s social media content showcases stories about history, geography, and cute animals, like in this tweet:

Which is why it was so unexpectedly hilarious when, after the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team tried making a joke about the average height of a penguin to contradict Discovery’s estimate, Discovery came back with a vengeance:

discoverytweet1.png

For context, the Penguins had just been eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs … ouch. We hope they had some ice on hand for that burn.

5) Brooklinen

Last week, Brooklinen sent this email to HubSpot Marketing Director Debbie Farese. At first glance, it appears to be a test email that Digital Marketing Intern Mark accidentally sent to Brooklinen’s entire list, advertising its upcoming sale on sheets.

brooklinenemail.png

Our team gawked at the email, lamenting what we were sure would be a swift end to Mark’s digital marketing career — until we did some investigation on Twitter and found this incriminating tweet.

We realized we had all been tricked by a clever marketing ruse designed to drum up attention — and give subscribers early access to Brooklinen’s sale.

brooklinentweet.png

Well played, Brooklinen. Well played.

6) Denny’s

Denny’s got in on a popular Twitter meme that tricks the viewer into repeatedly zooming in on spots on a picture to read secret messages — try it for yourself.

But Denny’s also tweets clever remarks commenting on hot topics circulating — like the running joke of 2017, when social media accounts kept creating different ways to copy Snapchat Stories:

But they always find a way to infuse breakfast foods into their sassy tweets and memes — like this one.

7) Merriam-Webster

Merriam-Webster uses Twitter mostly to share interesting trends and articles about unique word definitions — but most tweets are usually accompanied by a very niche GIF or reference to pop culture, like this one:

The dictionary’s social media manager also likes to subtly comment-without-commenting on current events taking over the news by tying it into the context of word definitions — see what I mean?

What’s the definition of the word “shade”?

8) Charmin

Charmin has a hilarious series of tweets called #TweetsfromtheSeat about — you guessed it — sitting on the toilet. Its tongue-in-cheek bathroom humor will definitely make your day — and make you remember Charmin the next time you go to pick up some TP.

But make no mistake, Charmin shares important news stories in its vertical, too.

Who says 💩jokes are just for kids?

9) Wendy’s

Wendy’s became famous this year for starting beefs (get it?) with anyone and everyone it could on social media. It all started with this innocent tweet, advertising its policy of only serving fresh beef.

This Twitter user tried to start a Twitter battle with Wendy’s, and clearly, they had no idea what they were in for:

wendysbeef1.png

wendy'sbeef2.png

Owned.

And while Wendy’s sometimes uses social media for good, old-fashioned Biology 101 jokes …

 

… its social media sass is best reserved for people (and other restaurants) that dare hint its food is anything but #1.

wendystweet2.png

10) Bangor Maine Police Department

I’m from a little town called Portland, Maine, so when I started seeing news stories about Bangor, Maine’s charming Facebook account, I was overjoyed.

Police Sargeant Tom Cotton writes the Bangor PD’s lengthy status updates, featuring long-winded stories that feature jokes, some friendly mockery, and all-around laughs.

You can click to expand this one, or you can just read my favorite line:

“It’s your day on in the comment section of the world’s most marginally famous Police Department Facebook page. We heard that Zuckerberg reads it (that’s a lie).”

Or this one:

“For those of us in Maine? We will soon have the distinct privilege of leaving for work in the dark as well as returning to our homes in the dark. I also turn the analog bathroom scale back 10 pounds this time of year…or only look at it in the dark. Might as well make this enjoyable.”

These updates all contain stories, warnings, and advice for Bangor, Maine residents — all wrapped up in hilariously-written statuses.

“It should be noted that cats tend to come down out of trees when they make a decision to do so. Pleading with a cat to return to terra firma is done purely to please those standing around and looking up. It’s a public relations move which makes people feel warm inside, but cats are cats.”

11) BuzzFeed Books

BuzzFeed has nailed creating different profiles and outlet for its fans’ myriad interests, and BuzzFeed Books focuses on news and stories in the literary world.

For the most part. The account had some words (but only a few) about the expansion of Twitter’s character limit:

12) Pop-Tarts

I love Pop-Tarts. (Did you know the unfrosted ones are vegan?) I also love the way the brand refuses to let anyone disgrace its name with unconscionable food preparation choices — like this one:

poptarttweet1.png

Or this one:

poptarttweet2.png

Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

 
How to Use Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

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Is AI Capable of Creativity? 4 Fails, and 3 Successes

The robots are coming here.

We know — we’ve been over this. Messenger and live chat are quickly becoming customers’ preferred methods of communication. And for both, bots are often the first line of defense: the triaging system that connects the user to the right human being who can solve the problem … if it even needs to get to that point.

In other words, bots are eliminating some level of need for human labor.

It’s a hotly-contested point, one that’s met with a lot of questions rooted in concern.

“Is my job in danger?”

Will I be replaced?

“A bot can’t do everything — what about the creative stuff?”

Aha. It’s that last question that often sparks the most debate around here.

Learn more about bots and AI here.

Is artificial intelligence capable of truly creative work?

As it turns out, there’s no truly definitive answer. There have been cases when the response is, “Of course,” and those where attempts to make an AI-powered presence creative fell completely flat.

So, we sought out to find instances of both. There are quite a few — some amusing, and some horrendous. Here are seven of the best examples we could find.

The Fails

1) Microsoft: Tay

Oh, boy. Where to begin, with this one?

Here’s the thing about machine learning: Typically, if it works properly, it’s designed to function based on its users. Sometimes, that can be a good thing, like when Spotify’s algorithm uses your listening behavior to curate playlists of songs it thinks you might like.

But in the case of Tay.ai, a Twitter bot designed by Microsoft to function like any “normal” teenage girl using the social media channel, things went terribly wrong.

The problem is that, as “smart” as it might be, AI isn’t quite capable of establishing its own ethics. Its only sense of right and wrong is what’s dictated by its algorithm, and even then, machine learning AI is still generally informed by the humans it’s determined to engage with. That’s why Russian ads on Facebook, for example, may have been so effective during the 2016 U.S. presidential election — based on users’ behavior on Facebook (likes, follows, comments, clicks, and more), its algorithm is “informed” enough for that content to accurately reach the people it was meant to influence.

Such was the case, somewhat similarly, with Tay. As the story goes, Tay began to emulate the behavior — or in this case, the language used in tweets — of the users engaging with it. Unfortunately, that language was charged with anti-Semitic and anti-feminist sentiment, causing Tay to tweet out such offensive content that Microsoft had to take it offline.

Source: Quora

2) IBM: Chef Watson

I like to call this one “The Great Chocolate Burrito Incident of 2015.” That same year, Watson — the IBM AI robot that once beat a reigning Jeopardy champion — became “Chef Watson” and released its first cookbook. Watson developed the recipes almost completely independently using its flavor algorithm, with only a bit of help from Institute of Culinary Education human chefs to make a tweak here and there.

There was reason to be optimistic. Prior to the cookbook’s publication, a few tech writers had been sent a complimentary bottle of BBQ that was also formulated by Watson, and earned positive reviews. But then came the Austrian Chocolate Burrito: a recipe with results that ranged from “a bunch of little balls of quasi-dryness in my mouth” to “so bad that I thought it had to be good.”

(It wasn’t all bad — the Washington Post, evidently, had better luck with the same recipe.)

We have yet to test the recipes ourselves, but in the meantime, um … bon appétit?

3) Research Scientist Janelle Shane: AI-Named Paint Colors

When someone pens an article about AI titled, “We’re Pretty Sure the Robot That Invented These Paint Colors Is a Stoner,” our guess is that it’s about an experiment that either went very well or very wrong.

In this case, it bordered on the latter. When research scientist Janelle Shane trained a neural network to create new paint colors — which are already so interestingly named, like my favorite, Benjamin Moore’s “Custis Salmon” — the results were … different. The AI was designed to create new shades, and assign names to them, but the two were often mismatched.

Case in point:

So, maybe that last one on the list is, um, fitting. But how does one explain the pinkish hue of “Grass Bat,” or the bluish-purple one of “Caring Tan?”

Maybe we just don’t have the artistic eye to appreciate these, but until we do, we’ll go ahead and categorize this one as “not quite a success.”

4) Oscar Sharp and Ross Goodwin: Sunspring

Have you ever wondered what would happen if scripts from classics like Ghostbusters and the original Bladerunner were fed to a neural network for the purpose of creating an original, entirely AI-written screenplay?

The results can be summarized by Sunspring, a short film that was acted and filmed entirely as the machine that wrote it intended. We’ll let the work speak for itself …

… as well as our team’s response when it was shared over Slack:

The Successes

5) Primordial Research Project: Hack Rod

Self-driving cars, are making many headlines these days and are even the stuff of high-profile lawsuits. But before the likes of Google, Lyft, and Uber began fighting over who would reign supreme in the area of autonomous vehicles, there was Hack Rod: one of the first artificially intelligent automobiles that had people talking.

The project began as a research-based side gig that was rooted in co-founder Felix Holst’s background at Mattel, where he worked on Hot Wheels toy cars. First, he and co-founder Mouse McCoy built a team to create a high-performance race car, which was later driven by a human through the Mojave Desert. That’s where the cool part comes in: The team was able to capture the driver’s brainwaves. That, combined with information collected from sensors placed within the vehicle itself, was converted into data that served as a foundation for the machine learning that would create what Fast Company once referred to as the car’s “nervous system.”

Hack Rod has been noticeably absent from recent self-driving headlines, but there’s little doubt that it paved the way — if you’ll excuse the pun — for autonomous vehicles to come. 

6) Manny Tan & Kyle McDonald: The Infinite Drum Machine

We’ve heard cases of AI-created musical composition, like Emily Howell, the classical-music-composing machine created by UCSC Professor Emeritus David Cope.

But we haven’t come across as many examples of AI-powered musical composition that allows the user to create its own audible masterpiece. That’s where The Infinite Drum Machine comes in: an AI experiment that uses machine learning to capture thousands of sounds we hear in day-to-day life, like a bag of potato chips opening or a file cabinet opening, and organizes them to create percussive patterns.

And thanks to Google’s AI Experiments site, everyday tech nerds like us can play with it. 

7) Google Creative Lab: AutoDraw

Okay, the jury might be out on this one. We’re calling it a win, because it makes for a fun way to pass the time, say, while putting off one’s blog-writing duties.

AutoDraw, another Google AI experiment, helps novice artists — er, those who like to doodle on the internet — create better quality images with the help of machine learning.

For example, here’s what happened when I tried using it to draw a picture of my dachshund-mix dog:

Cute! After about 50 seconds, AutoDraw figured out that I may have been drawing a dachshund. But here’s what happened when I tried to replicate its own work:

Granted, I’m not exactly a brilliant artist — but I did find it interesting that AutoDraw couldn’t recognize the subject of its own work being copied.

So, is AI capable of creativity? Sure. But in terms of its ability to completely replicate what a human mind might do — write a screenplay, accurately create and name paint colors, or emulate a teenage girl without offending the masses — it’s not quite there yet.

Are we on our way? Probably. But in the meantime, we’ll be preparing our popcorn and watching Sunspring on repeat.

battle-bots

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“Why Did My SEO Ranking Drop?” How to Find and Fix Falling Blog Posts Before It’s Too Late

Wanna see something scary?

ack (1)

That, my friends, is what I would call a definite downward trend — and for a post that, at its high point, received 10,000 views per month.

Maybe it looks familiar. And maybe it doesn’t, but it looks like something you want to avoid at all costs.

Either way — if you’re a marketer that plays any role in managing your brand’s blog — read on.

We’re going to go over some of the ways to avoid that big, scary traffic trend above — or to prevent it from happening again, if you’ve seen it before.

First, we’ll begin with the questions you should ask if you’ve noticed your SEO rankings drop. Then, once we’ve covered all those bases, we’ll get into how to proactively stay on top of your rankings, to get into good habits that can help you maintain your blog’s SEO health.

Ready to get into diagnosing those problematic blog posts? Let’s get started.

To demonstrate how this works, I’ll be diagnosing “40 Sales Interview Questions to Recruit the Best Reps in 2017,” which got nearly 24% fewer views in September than May.

You’ll need access to Google Analytics and SEMrush to follow these steps.

1. Is the search term itself losing traction?

Go to SEMrush and enter the post URL into the top search bar. Google Analytics (GA) doesn’t pull the “https://” part of a URL, so make sure you manually enter it. 

Find the highest-volume keyword the post is ranking in the top five for. It should be fairly general; for example, in September 2017, “40 Sales Interview Questions to Recruit the Best Reps in 2017” ranked #2 for “sales interview questions.”

Go to Google Trends and enter that keyword. The default time range is one year.

ga-10

You may need to change the date to see more micro trends; I went with 5/1/2017 to 9/30/17 to see the May through September changes.

trends

If interest in the term is steady — or up and to the right — it’s the post, not your audience.

2. Has the post declined in the rankings for a major keyword?

Go back to SEMrush and enter the post in the top search bar again. Change the date range under “Live data” in the top right to your highest-traffic month. (It should update to say “Historical data.”)

Export this list as a CSV. Don’t exit the SEMrush page with the rankings for the post you’re analyzing – you’ll be coming back to it in a bit.

Open the spreadsheet, and rename the tab “[High-Traffic Month] [Year]” (for example, “May 2017”.)

Delete Columns D-K.

rank-changes (1)

Pull up the SEMrush window again. Change the date range to the most recent month.

Export this list as a CSV.

Delete columns D-K. Copy and paste the contents of this spreadsheet into a tab on the first spreadsheet. Rename the tab “[Most Recent Month] [Year]” (“September 2017”).

sept (1)-1

Go to the first tab. Add a Column D titled “[Most Recent Month] [Year] Rankings”. (For example, “September 2017.”)

Insert this formula into cell D2.

=VLOOKUP(A2, September 2017!A:B, 2, FALSE)

Click the small box in the lower right-hand corner to apply the formula to the remaining rows.

Add a Column E and call it “Up or down?”

Insert this formula into E2:

=B2-D2

Highlight Column E. Click “Apply Conditional Formatting” → “Highlight Cell Rules” → “Less Than” and insert “0.”

Now every negative rank change is highlighted in red.

negative-rank-changes (1)

Notice any particularly high-volume keywords you dropped in rank for. In this case, we went from #1 to #2 for “sales interview questions” (2900 monthly search volume) and from #1 to #3 for “inside sales interview questions” (720 monthly search volume).

3. How recently have you updated the post?

If you haven’t touched it in over six months, a fresher and more comprehensive link might be winning.

Action item: Update the post with additional content, more recent links, etc.

4. How recently have you promoted the post in an email?

A big bump in traffic from our email subscribers usually lifts rankings:

email-promotion

Action item: Include the post in an email send, either as the first or second link. (Any lower, and it won’t get clicks, rendering this strategy pointless.)

5. Are the posts that have surpassed it in the search engine results pages higher-quality; e.g., more comprehensive, more examples, better graphics/visuals?

That probably means their time-on-page is higher and bounce rate is lower. They may be getting more referral traffic than you as well.

Action item: Do whatever your competitors are doing … but better. If their guides feature a subject-matter expert, feature two subject-matter experts. (Because this is a time- and energy-intensive technique, don’t use it unless you’ve exhausted all the others, or this is a really competitive and important keyword.)

6. Are you getting fewer backlinks than your competitors/has your number of backlinks declined?

As websites disappear or change, you naturally lose backlinks.

You can find this information on SEMrush by entering the post URL in the top search bar and scrolling down until you see this:

backlinks (1)

Action item: Quote one or more influencers — either by pulling from something they’ve published, or reaching out for a direct quote — then, ask them to share the post with their audiences.

7. What if your ranking hasn’t dropped?

See if the keyword now has a search feature.

Search features include:

  • Featured snippet (FS)
  • People also ask (PAA)
  • Carousel

Here’s an example of how a carousel result would look for a topic related to sales:

… and for the FS and PAA boxes:

These typically appear in what’s known as the “position zero” slot, meaning everything below is bumped down. Suddenly, the #1 ranking is in second place.

Action item: Try to improve upon the current FS. Can you provide the same information but with less jargon? With more detail? Greater accuracy? This obviously changes on a case-by-case basis, but usually, the snippet isn’t perfect.

See if there’s an ad — or several.

Paid results can also — sometimes simultaneously — be at fault.

Take a look at the results for “How to use CRM”:

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about these paid results — except to just accept the dip in traffic.

Use Google Search Console.

Google Search Console can also help diagnose the issue.

In the left sidebar, choose Search Traffic → Search Analytics:

sc-1

Next, click “Pages” → “Filter Pages” → “URLs Containing”, then paste the URL of the post you’re analyzing.

“URLs Containing” is preferable to “URL is exactly” because you don’t want to miss any modified versions of that URL, i.e. one with UTM parameters.

Then, click “Dates” → “Set date range” → “Last 90 days” — that’s as far back as Google will go.

sc-2

Here’s what those top checkboxes mean:

  • Clicks: The raw number of clicks from the SERPs
  • Impressions: The number of times the page showed up on the SERP
  • CTR: Clicks divided by impressions
  • Position: Average ranking for all the different queries this page shows up for. (Take this metric with a grain of salt — if you’re #1 for a low-volume query and #9 for a high-volume one, your Position will be 5, even though one rank is far more valuable than the other.)

It may be helpful to look at the changes in Clicks, Impressions, and CTR individually, as checking all of them gives you this:

ahhhh.jpg

A little overwhelming, no?

First, let’s look at clicks. (I’m still analyzing “40 Interview Questions.”)

clicks-1

Looks like clicks are going down slightly. (The valleys are the weekends, when far fewer people are searching for professional/educational content.)

impressions

Impressions are fairly stable.

CTR-1

Aha! Here’s the issue. In late September, clickthrough rate (CTR) started falling.

Analysis 101:

  • If impressions are steady, but your clicks (and therefore CTR) are dropping, your rank is dropping and/or a search feature is pushing your result farther down the page.
  • If impressions are decreasing, but clicks and CTR are constant, seasonality/declining search interest is probably to blame. Verify with Google Trends.
  • If impressions are increasing and CTR is dropping, meaning clicks aren’t growing proportionally higher, check if you’re ranking for an image. You should also check whether your post has started ranking for more long tail keywords — ranking for more keywords, while a good thing (topics/over keywords), will always lead to higher impressions, but clicks may suffer as you may not always rank highly for those longer tail keywords.

Now scroll down and look at the most common queries leading people to your page. Does the content on the page reflect what they’re looking for?

I’ve highlighted the queries this post will not answer.

queries

Decide whether it’s worth updating the post to address these content gaps. Since this one is about interviewing salespeople, not marketers, I’m not going to add marketing interview questions – that’d be too out of left field. And since “sales interview exercises” sounds like an entirely separate post, I’m not going to add that in, either.

However, sometimes you find a relevant angle that’s missing from your post. When that’s the case, by all means, go ahead and include it — it can only help.

How to Stay on Top of Your Rankings

If you’re a blog editor, writer, or manager, I recommend running a report at the end of every month to see which of your property’s top URLs have lost traffic.

Periodically reviewing these:

  • Helps you rescue pages before they permanently slip in the rankings
  • Reveals search trends
  • Gives you a sense of your audience’s interests — both stable and changing

The first time you do this analysis, pick your highest-traffic month from the past half-year. Using a medium- or low-traffic month will give you a more conservative estimate of which URLs have declined in organic traffic, which may disguise pages in trouble.

In GA, go to the left-hand sidebar and click “Behavior” → “Site Content” → “All Pages.”

ga-1.jpg

Add your segment and select your date range.

If you’re analyzing a property that doesn’t have a given segment, click “Advanced” and apply this filter:

“Include” “Page” “Containing” “[Property URL]”

Scroll to the bottom and change “Show rows to 500.”

ga-4

Click “Export to CSV.”

Open your spreadsheet, name the first tab “[Month] [Year]”, then rename Column B “Views [Month] [Year]”, and delete all other columns.

Go back to GA. Change the date range to the most recent fully completed month (i.e. if you’re doing this on October 30, the date range would be September 1, 2017 – September 30, 2017.)

Your filter and the number of rows from the previous month you pulled should still apply, so all you have to do is click “Export to CSV.”

Open your spreadsheet, rename Column B “Views [Month] [Year]”, and delete all other columns. Copy the contents of this spreadsheet, then paste it into the second tab of your highest-traffic month spreadsheet. Name the second tab “[Month] [Year]”.

Go back to your first tab. Name Column C “Views [Month] [Year].”

ga-5

In cell C7, insert this formula:

=VLOOKUP(A7, ‘Sept 2017’!A:B, 2, FALSE)

Click the box in the right-hand corner of the cell to apply this formula to the remaining rows.

Rename Column D to “15+% decline?”

Insert this formula into D7:

=IF(C7<(B7-(B7*0.15)), "YES", " ")

Apply the formula to the remaining rows.

Click “Conditional Formatting”, “Highlight Cell Rules,” “Text that Contains…” and set “Specific text” “containing” “Yes” to red.

excel-1

And So, If You Remember Nothing Else …

Here’s a recap.

1. Every month, run a report to identify the top posts that have declined in traffic.

2. Determine whether the search term is declining in traffic (nothing you can do) or whether the post itself is dropping in rank (lots you can do).

3. If it’s the latter, diagnose the specific issue(s) using SEMrush and Google Search Console.

Yes, this process is a time- and energy-intensive one. But it’s easier to fix your car than buy a new one — and hope you haven’t gotten a lemon).

Performing maintenance on your blog’s greatest hits takes fewer resources than writing a net-new one … and is usually far more successful.

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