2013: A year of adjustment
If 2012 was the year of change, then 2013 was definitely the year of learning to adjust. In February, I started back at work after 7 months of maternity leave and began the frantic juggling act that all working mothers with young children must do. I am proud to say that I did manage to pull through and adjust to this new existence. I learned to stop kicking myself for not being able to blog on techtalkmarketing as much as I had done pre-baby and to use the tools out there to help me continue being a valuable content creator and marketing manager for my company.
Here’s what I learned
1. On various projects, I realised our web content was killing us. This is a topic I will expand on in 2014 because it was one of the biggest lessons I learned this year. I was lucky enough to work with talented web developers and other content creators and along the way we realised that our content was so vast and inclusive that after reading it (if indeed anyone did read it all) people had no need to ask us questions about our products and solutions.
2. Less is more. Continuing on the theme from point 1, I have realised that even though I preach the “less is more” mantra, I haven’t always ended up with appropriately concise bits of content, particularly on websites. From 2008 but still very relevant, I think it’s important to remember Jacob Neilsen’s “How Little Do Users Read?” (on the web). The studay says: On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely. Enough said.
3. Calls to action are really important. This point continues on from points 1 and 2. Not only do you have to stop killing your users with so much content, but you also have to include calls to action to make it easy for them to ask questions. With little exception, most of your web pages should include specific calls to action. Demos, downloading white papers, etc.
4. Content needs to be shareable. This extends beyond including social media sharing buttons on each page of your site. It also means that your tweets should be punchy and short enough to re-tweet, and that you should include images in content whenever you can. Photos, diagrams and even cartoons really accentuate your content and make users more inclined to share it.
5. Google Analytics cannot be ignored. I tweeted this post, The Content Marketer’s Guide to Google Analytics: How to Extract Numbers that Drive Action, from Buffer earlier today as it’s one of the most straightforward pieces of writing I’ve seen dedicated to monitoring some basic web analytics for your site. I’ll be honest – I’ve found that Google Analytics have become harder to use over the past few years. If you can’t find the time to read and apply the points noted in the Buffer post, it is probably worth just getting a specialist to set up some standard Google Analytics reports that get emailed to you.
6. Mobile users cannot be forgotten. Use Google Analytics to monitor how many of your users are accessing your site from a mobile device and use your CRM or marketing automation system to see how many people are viewing your email campaigns from a phone or tablet and adjust your content layout accordingly. Mobile users don’t want to download a bunch of pages – for them, one long page with anchored links is preferable. And when you consider the world of mobile, it’s also time to consider how your website is scaling across all devices. I won’t link to articles about this because I think it’s a better idea to get a proper web developer to take a look.
7. Work smarter with apps. I cannot imagine my life without Buffer to schedule my social media updates and to remind me when my queue is empty and Trello to manage my editorial calendar, new website builds or even my own personal to-do lists (I don’t think Christmas would have happened at the Reid house had it not been for Trello!) You can read about the top five tools in my social media tool box in this guest post I did on SoFarBeyond’s site.
8. Live out of LinkedIn. The grand daddy of social media, it continues to go from strength to strength. I love the functionality on LinkedIn’s company pages and the Who’s Viewed Your Updates and am looking forward to testing out sponsored LinkedIn updates in the new year. A top tip – include an image in every update you put on your company page and you will see a real difference in click through rates.
9. Read. My old school teachers used to say that the best writers are those who read a lot and this rule has always stood firm for me. I see a lot throughout the day that I’d *like* to read but simply can’t because of time constraints. This is where Pocket comes in for me. Pocket is a way of gathering content from the Web so that I can read it later – usually on the train on the way home. It’s been great in stopping me from breaking concentration on getting a piece of writing finished when a tweet flashes up that I’d usually take the time to read. Now I simply add it to Pocket and read it on the way home.
10. Don’t kick yourself – you’re not a publishing house. If you’re a marketing manager like me, you probably don’t have the luxury of being able to sit in a quiet corner at all times and churn out content. My bet is you’re doing more than you think and that if you’re using all the tools available to you and working smarter rather than harder, you’re probably at full capacity. There’s only so much we can do in a given day and as it’s New Year’s Eve it’s time to give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done.
I am so excited for the new apps and tools that will come our way in 2014, the new friends and contacts I will make via social media and the new lessons I will no doubt learn throughout the year.
From me to you, happy 2014 everyone.