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5 Most Important Factors for Success in E-commerce (Make Sure You Hit These)

E-commerce seems to be eating up the retail world right now.

We’re seeing longtime brick-and-mortar retail brands closing or going bankrupt that we never would have expected to see disappear ten years ago.

Take Toys “R” Us for example. After more than 60 years in business, they are liquidating and closing all of their remaining U.S. stores.

toys r us exterior

On the other hand, the digital world is an exciting place to be, with business owners starting their very own digital brands and competing in the digital marketplace.

Most brick-and-mortar stores have been forced into creating an online presence.

But it isn’t always easy to hit it big online. You have to know what some of the trade secrets are if you want to make it to the top.

Here are the five most important factors for success in e-commerce that you can’t afford to ignore.

First, let’s talk about why so many e-commerce businesses struggle in the first place.


Why do many e-commerce businesses struggle?

There are many common reasons for the e-commerce struggle, and stores in different industries will face different hardships.

Examples Of Ecommerce Failure

But there are some general battles that all e-commerce businesses have to fight.

Around 80% of all e-commerce businesses fail. And there are three common reasons why customers are likely to leave you in the dust:

  1. Customers don’t know how to use your site
  2. Product value isn’t clear
  3. Navigation is difficult

Have no fear. The solution to solving these problems may be simpler than you think.

For starters, people aren’t judging your business initiatives or products on their own merits. Customers simply want what they want when they want it.

And sometimes, their expectations can be pretty high. Especially online.

If you have too many shipping options on your site, you’ll deter customers who want their products quickly.

As many as 80% of American shoppers say that shipping price and speed are very or extremely influential in determining where they shop.

That’s why you should offer fast and free shipping when you can, like apparel brand Shongolulu, which offers free shipping on orders that are $30 or more.

shongolulu free shipping

When customers don’t have to pay for shipping, they’ll be more likely to pull the trigger on a purchase that they can’t touch, feel, or try out because there’s less risk involved.

Customers don’t want to wait forever to get what they ordered, either, so if you’re willing to provide free shipping, choose a fast option.

At the beginning of the last year, the National Retail Federation speculated that online retail would grow 3x faster than the rest of the retail industry, with mobile e-commerce sales soaring.

forecast of mobile share of united states ecommerce sales

The rise of online shoppers has also shortened consumers’ patience. Online shoppers are looking for convenience.

They don’t want to deal with difficult return policies or long waits for orders.

Aside from long wait times and tricky shipping options, struggling businesses fail to take the following into account:

  • Branding
  • SEO
  • User Experience
  • Transparency
  • Engagement

But the good news is that starting an e-commerce business today is perfectly doable. And so is taking each of these factors into account, which can help you stand out from competitors.


5 Most Important Factors for Success in E-commerce

The first step is building your brand with some great values behind it.

1. Your brand is your purpose

Your e-commerce business has a brand at the core of its identity, whether you know it or not.

To find out what it is, you have to think about what you do and why you do it.

Your brand embodies a set of values related to your business’s central endeavors. Some older brands aren’t aging well, because they don’t really have a clear mission.

Or they do, but they don’t disclose it.

In the last year, Enso’s World Value Index analyzed 150 brands according to how Americans identify their purpose and how well their purpose aligned with customer values.

2017 world value index

The research also looked at the extent to which each company motivates brand advocacy and purchase.

The results were vastly different for different demographics. Baby Boomers rated Newman’s Own to be number seven on the list, while millennials rated the company to be number 81.

The brand could lose its allure if they fail to appeal to millennials since their generation is much larger than the Baby Boomers and three times the size of Generation X.

And by this year, millennials are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers are America’s largest generation yet, according to the Pew Research Center.

projected population by generation

AAA, Pfizer, and Samsung were also ranked much lower by millennials than Boomers:

  • AAA: millennial rank: No. 92; Boomer rank: No. 26
  • Pfizer: millennial rank: No. 136; Boomer rank: No. 65
  • Samsung: millennial rank: No. 74; Boomer rank: No. 19

The bottom line? Deviating from your brand hurts your message.

And when you hurt your message, you hurt your brand. Your brand persists on your customers’ unique perceptual map.

car brands mapping

They build assumptions about your brand’s identity based on interactions with your company, and they aren’t likely to forget their first impression.

This means that they remember you when choosing to make another purchase. How they remember you impacts how they will review you.

As many as 31% of consumers are likely to spend 31% more on products and services from businesses with excellent reviews, while negative reviews can drive away 22% of customers.

A whopping 85% of customers trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

Dissatisfied customers are more likely to share bad stories with friends & family than satisfied customers are likely to share good stories.

While happy customers might tell a few friends, unhappy customers will tell even more.

That means you’ll have a whole lot more “anti-referrals” on your hands than positive recommendations.

When you aren’t establishing your brand as the go-to, your competitors are.

In the digital era, your competition is no longer confined to the shop across the street.

If a stronger brand offers the same type of product that you do, they will gladly eat your market share.

That’s why you need a unique selling proposition, or USP, to win them over.

The point of a USP is to differentiate your product. The value of your USPs only comes into play after your prospects enter your funnel.

When your brand is weak, competitors with better brands will absorb customers. Marketing is more effective in conjunction with a strong brand.

Good marketing takes the brand’s voice and extends it outward to reach qualified leads.

If the brand doesn’t expand its core identity, it will struggle to reach its target audience.

And saturation from marketing campaigns may expose weak spots on a poor brand’s armor to a higher volume of people.

That’s why you always have to match good marketing with brand values.

You’ll need to do some SEO, too.


2. SEO brings in traffic

Google is sort of like an usher that decides which websites get to mingle near the top of the organic search engine results.

But with constant algorithm updates, it can be pretty hard to keep up.

google algorithm timeline

The Fred algorithm update, which launched on March 8, 2017, targets websites violating Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Most sites affected are ones with low-quality posts that were created solely to generate ad revenue.

So if you have any of these posts on your site, you could risk messing up your current rankings (or worse – losing high rankings altogether).

Review Google’s Search Quality Guidelines regularly and avoid posting too much content that is ad-centered.

If you do show ads or affiliate content on your site, make sure that the pages you run them on are relevant and high-quality, like this Buzzfeed post sponsored by Adidas:

buzzfeed adidas post

If you try and trick Google into thinking your page is about something valuable but it’s really just scattered with affiliate links, you’ll risk your rankings.

Landing pages with relevant keywords will receive a higher Google ranking and be more likely to show up during relevant searches, too.

Keyword research can help you learn how to position your page content.

Use a tool like Google Adwords Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest to get started. Just enter a keyword to uncover related words to target for.

ubersuggest export list

Remember that your brand is also a keyword. Highly qualified traffic will be searching for your brand name, so you want to rank for that.

But if you “hack” SEO to bring additional, potentially unqualified traffic to your site, you won’t like what happens next.

The idea of SEO is to give searchers the most qualified results for their queries. Pages that use exploitative or lazy tactics get penalized by Google.

All in all, SEO is something worth spending extra time strategizing around. Use this beginner’s manual to get started.

Once you’ve mastered SEO, turn your attention over to user experience (UX).


3. Customers love a great user experience

If you want to funnel traffic toward a desired action, like making a purchase, you need to optimize UX.

If site visitors get confused, they’ll leave. Site navigation should always be easy.

On your website, you have to make it clear what your business does. For example, Scott’s makes it clear that they sell lawn care products.

scotts lawn care products

Reinforce what your brand does on your site. What’s obvious to you might not be obvious to someone else.

How did they get to this landing page? Why is the landing page content relevant? Use a clear, concise call to action.

get the secret now call to action copy

You should also make sure the shopping cart is easy to view and access. The checkout process must be straightforward.

Nobody wants to deal with a checkout process that makes purchasing your product harder than it needs to be.

Embed interactive content into your website (if appropriate). This includes:

  • Videos
  • Animated images
  • Games

Always use A/B testing to figure out what works best.

Employ a tool such as Unbounce to weigh 2 or more page designs against each other for effectiveness in maximizing sales.

unbounce ab test centre

Pick whichever design version wins.

highrise male female ab test

Don’t forget to optimize UX for mobile, too, since more and more consumers are shopping over mobile in 2018.

Ensure that your print is large, that load times are three seconds or less, and that the mobile version of your site is easy to navigate via touch.

Basically, the mobile version of your site shouldn’t look exactly like your regular website.

mobile page design before and after

If you want to succeed in the e-commerce world, you have to be transparent with your customers, or they might not trust you.


4. Transparency builds trust

One of the easiest ways to come across as transparent is to make your contact information visible right on your website.

Your traffic should be able to find your email address and phone number at the bottom or top of every page on your site.

hustle kindness contact info

You can also add a “Contact Us” page, like this one from Tune:

contact us page from Tune

That way, customers will know how they can get in touch with you (and that you’re a real business with a real address).

When it comes to charges, be upfront. No one likes hidden fees. Ever.

If you charge extra for shipping and handling, make sure that this is communicated to prospects before they reach the checkout page.

offer details free shipping

Don’t forget to give prospects outstanding product information, either.

Your product isn’t what’s bouncing traffic, which is good news. In fact, your product could be the best solution to your customers’ problems.

The bad news? Your product’s value isn’t translating.

Web visitors don’t have a physical store location to experience. Instead of getting to play with your products, they only see whatever information is available.

The quality of product information and attached images can make or break your sales pipeline.

Give a thick description of your product pages. Don’t forget to highlight key benefits, like Apple.

apple imac description

And make sure your product is priced competitively.

An overpriced product may be perceived as not offering utility equal to its price. An underpriced product may be suspicious or appear less valuable than similar products with higher prices.

Don’t price your item for more than you would pay as a customer. Or for more than your product is worth.

Drive that worth by sharing testimonials and reviews on your website, like Carbon 6 Rings.

carbon6 reviews

If you want to find e-commerce success, you’ll need engaged website visitors. Here’s how to get them.


5. Boost overall engagement

The easiest way to boost engagement with your store is to use organic social media outlets to promote your brand in real-time.

Luckily for you, I have guides on how to boost engagement on just about every platform:

Content marketing matters. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 42% of B2C content marketers consider themselves to be “very committed to content marketing.”

If you haven’t already, build a blog about your industry and product lines.

Help your customers by sharing useful information or earn new prospects by answering their queries, like Patagonia.

the cleanest line patagonia blog

You could even write blog posts about product development updates. Did you just schedule a new product launch on the calendar? Write about it.

Tell your customers why the new product is useful, what the features of it are, and when it will be available.

This will create interest in the new item before it even launches.

Blog content boosts engagement because it helps build backlinks. And every time your website is linked to, you gain brand awareness.

Now that you’ve established a strong brand, a fantastic user experience, relevant content and customer transparency, you can begin actually spending your ad budget.

Try spending some of your ad budget on direct mail advertising or social media advertising. Choose wisely between the two, though.

Out of all paid advertising options, social media is the least expensive. With direct mail, you will spend an average of $57 for every 1,000 people you reach.

The amount spent to reach 1,000 people for social media advertising? Only $2.50.

cost of different marketing channels

Promote a few of your tweets or create some sponsored Facebook or Instagram ads.

You can also build a community from your brand. People tend to bond with others who have the same interests as them.

Your customers will probably want to connect with others who love your products (and company) just as much as they do. And they’ll probably promote what you’re selling for you.

Allow them to connect by building a “forums” or “community” section of your website.

Shoot for something similar to NikeTalk, a forum site where Nike customers can post and comment on their own content.

niketalk message board

Another great way to build engagement is to host some events. What’s the harm in throwing a party for some added PR?

Host a product launch party to let people try out your new stuff. You could even host a party they can bring their dogs to, like Structure Winery’s Wine for Wags event.

wine for wags event

If you’re an online-only store, host your event in a public space, like an events center.

Create a hashtag related to your event, add it to your Facebook calendar, and send out invites to your followers. Drumming up some interest is as simple as that!

At the event, encourage users to share their own photo with the tag or post your own images to social media, like this post from Heritage Agents.

heritage agents instagram

Center the entire event around your brand. Be sure to have your products out for sale during the event.

Talk with customers about what your products can do for them and how they can make their lives better. Hand out business cards with your website URL and social media handles.

Just because your website is located online doesn’t mean that you can’t boost overall brand engagement by meeting customers in person.

If you want to sweeten the pot, you could even give away a few items as door prizes or as trophies for interactive “contests” during the event.



The days of brick-and-mortar stores dominating the entire world of retail are long gone.

The digital landscape is here to stay, making online stores the best place to sell.

But making it big online is a lot harder than it seems. And tons of e-commerce businesses struggle to stand out in such a saturated crowd.

Customers who don’t know how to use your site, hidden shipping costs, unknown product value, poor navigation, and more are to blame.

Luckily, you can take control of your e-commerce store’s success.

First, understand that your brand needs to stand for something, and you need to let people know exactly what that is.

Your brand’s values should align with customers’ values, serve a purpose, and support ethical operations.

SEO brings in traffic, so you have to work on optimizing your rankings. Do some keyword research and add keywords to your site to pull in more customers.

But don’t try and cheat the system, or Google might penalize you, which could lead to a decrease in rankings.

Customers love awesome UX. Make it clear what you’re selling and add in CTAs so that you can funnel people through your site’s pages.

Optimize your site for mobile users, too.

Build transparency by adding contact information to your site, disclosing any additional fees or shipping costs before checkout, and embedding customer reviews.

This helps to build trust with shoppers.

Don’t forget to boost overall engagement rates. Get active on social media, create a blog with valuable content or product updates, or run some paid ads online.

Build a “forum” or “community” section on your website where users can come together or host some events to draw out a crowd for a good time.

Promote your event beforehand (and during) to create interest. Be sure to center the event around your brand and your products.

What are some important factors for your e-commerce success?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.


7 Reasons Why Nobody is Reading Your Content and How to Grab Their Attention

Content, content, content.

It seems like content is the only thing anyone can talk about these days.

You’ve probably read post after post about how “content is king” at least a dozen times.

However, despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to see what the content hype is all about.

You write blog posts.

You create videos.

You participate in social media.

And yet, crickets.

You’re creating content, but it’s not getting you very far.

Unfortunately, creating content isn’t enough to really market your business.

If no one is engaging with what you’re producing, you’re simply wasting time, energy, and resources to clutter an already overcrowded web.

But this doesn’t mean content marketing is ineffective.

In fact, 20% of business owners believe content marketing will have the largest impact on their business in 2018.

If you’re not getting results from the content you’re creating, it typically means you’re doing something wrong.

But with a projected 16% growth rate between 2017 and 2021, content marketing isn’t something you can just hope will pass by.

If you want to market your business successfully, you need to find your errors, shape up your content, and start getting conversions.


7 Reasons Why Nobody is Reading Your Content and How to Grab Their Attention

To help you improve your content marketing strategy, here are seven of the biggest mistakes you might be making – and what you can do to turn your results around.

1. You have no strategy

Are you posting whatever you want, whenever you want?

A lot of marketers do this.

In fact, only 37% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.

percentage of b2b marketers who have a content strategy

This means the majority of marketers aren’t thinking strategically about the content they’re creating.

This makes it easy for your audience to ignore whatever you’re sharing.

A content marketing strategy helps you identify what you’d like to accomplish with your content, as well as how you’re going to use your content to achieve your larger business goals.

In other words, it forces you to put intention behind your content.

Moz describes content marketing strategy as the overlap between content marketing and content strategy.

moz content marketing strategy

At this intersection, you’re able to use the content you’ve created to bring your business plans to life.

If you’re operating without a content marketing strategy, this disconnect makes it difficult for your target audience to know what you want them to do.

However, when you create a plan, you’re putting a purpose behind your content.

Creating a content marketing plan doesn’t need to be difficult.

In fact, Content Marketing Institute outlines how you can create an effective plan in just one page by outlining your objectives, goals, metrics, and strategy.

Once this is done, you’re ready to move on to an editorial calendar.

Your editorial calendar should work hand-in-hand with the content marketing strategy you’ve created.

Here’s an example of an editorial calendar template from HubSpot.

hubspot blog editorial calendar

This calendar breaks down exactly when you’re going to publish your blog post, as well as the title name, content details, and keywords you’re going to target.

It also shares which personas you’re trying to reach and what you’re going to offer them.

This kind of well-thought-out planning means each piece of content you upload fits within the content marketing plan you’ve established.

There are dozens of ways you can create an editorial calendar.

Quickbooks chooses to house their editorial calendar in Airtable – allowing one editor to manage over 4,000 pieces of content.

quickbooks content operations

Others, like Buffer, turn to Trello.

buffer blog posts trello

Personally, I like Asana.

But the tool isn’t the point. The best tool is ultimately the one you can get everybody to use consistently.


2. You’re not publishing enough

When it comes to uploading content, quality beats quantity any day.

However, if you’re just posting once a month, you’re going to struggle to grab any real attention.

Consistency is key to building trust and credibility both with your audience and with search engines.

The idea is simple.

When you create more blogs, you’ll drive more traffic to your website.

With more traffic, you can prove to Google that you have content people want to read.

Once they understand you’re sharing valuable information, they’ll give your content a boost on their results pages – bringing in even more traffic and attention.

However, it’s easier said than done.

If you’re stuffing your website with low-quality information that your audience doesn’t care about, it doesn’t matter how frequently you post.

In fact, The Writing Cooperative found that blogging every day actually decreased their views compared to when they were posting just six times a month.

In March 2017, before their posting experiment, The Writing Cooperative was getting about 14,000 views each month.

medium stats

But once they began blogging every day, views began to decrease.

medium 12k views

The problem here is that they couldn’t continue to create high-quality content each and every day – and their readers noticed.

The key to getting attention through your content is finding the right balance between quality and quantity.

You also want to go beyond simple blog posts.

While blogging is a great way to bring traffic to your website, it doesn’t appeal to everyone.

Not everyone likes to read blog posts.

In fact, 53% of consumers said they’d like to see more videos in the future.

what type of content do people want

And with customers becoming more and more dependent on voice search and smart speakers, blogging isn’t always the most effective way to deliver content.

When you’re thinking about how often you should publish, you also want to consider what you’re publishing.

Videos can be a great way to grab attention, break down complex topics in a way that is easier for your audience to understand, or show off your products.

For example, Red Bull uses YouTube to show off the extreme sports, events, and competitions they sponsor.

With over seven million subscribers to their channel, Red Bull has one of the most popular YouTube pages out there.

Infographics are another way you can make your content more interesting for your audience, especially if you’re showing off large amounts of data or research.

In fact, over 41% of marketers said that infographics were the most engaging forms of visual content for their audience.

visuals in content marketing

This ranked even higher than videos.

Infographics are insanely popular because they’re easy to skim and visual, making them ideal content for your always-busy customers and clients.

You can also expand your reach and get more attention to your content by producing podcasts.

Podcasts have been increasing in popularity over the past couple of years, with an estimated 67 million individuals listening to podcasts every month in 2017.

Repurposing written content into spoken can help you reach customers who don’t enjoy reading – expanding your audience to new individuals.

When trying to create different kinds of content, don’t be afraid to get creative.

However, you always want to think back to your target audience.

Focus on creating content that your audience will want to engage with.


3. You’re confusing content with sales pitches

Your content shouldn’t sell.

Sure, the whole purpose of marketing is to create interest in your business and drive sales.

But you can’t start out a relationship with a potential lead with a sales pitch.

Today’s customers don’t like being sold to.

That’s mainly because they don’t need to be sold to.

With the Internet at their fingertips, customers are more capable of discovering their options without ever needing to speak with a salesperson.

In fact, 60% of consumers won’t connect with a salesperson until they’ve already created a shortlist of potential purchases.

buyers want to connect with sales

By the time they’re ready to buy, they already know more or less what they’re looking for.

This means you need to use your content to educate them – before you ever have the opportunity to connect.

Your content should be specially formatted to meet the unique needs of your buyer during every stage of their journey.

Let’s break down what that journey looks like.

First, your lead needs to become aware of your brand.

This means you need to be entertaining, engaging, or interesting enough to stand out from the piles of information already on the web.

You can do this in the form of videos, fun blog posts, educational webinars, and engaging social posts.

Take a look at this Instagram post from GoPro.

instagram gopro

This high-quality image is attention-grabbing, causing followers to stop their scrolling and take notice.

However, it also shows off what the GoPro is capable of – increasing awareness about the brand and its products.

Next comes the consideration phase.

During consideration, your audience needs to better understand their problem, as well as their available solutions.

The content you might create for them could include product comparison videos or articles, case studies, or podcasts.

Here’s an example of a webinar from Instapage that would attract customers in the consideration phase.

instapage webinar

During this webinar, participants learn more about how Instapage and Marketo can help lower their cost of customer acquisition, helping them determine if it’s the right solution for them.

This then brings the lead to the next stage of the buyer’s journey – the decision phase.

At this time, your lead is ready to choose which product or service is right for them.

You can encourage their decision with testimonials, product reviews, and demonstration videos.

Codeacademy uses their Stories page to share how past participants have used their skills to change their lives or careers.

codecademy video testimonial

These stories function the same as testimonials, allowing potential customers on the fence about purchasing to see how the decision influenced other customers’ lives.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle of tells ConversionXL, “A type of social proof that works over and over again is testimonials. Whether it’s in video or written form, they’ve helped increase the conversion rate of the clients’ landing pages in every case.”

If your customer decides to buy, they’ve finally reached the delight phase of the buyer’s journey.

Here, they’ve already purchased, but you want to use your content to encourage them to buy again.

You can do this with newsletters, training webinars, or customer satisfaction surveys.

The Hubspot Academy is an example of content that reaches customers who have entered the delight phase of the buyer’s journey.

hubspot academy learning resources

By offering training and certifications, Hubspot stays in touch with customers while providing content that can improve their experience as a customer.

Notice how none of these content forms include a sales pitch.

Instead, during each step of the way, the focus is on the customer and helping them find the right solution to their problem.

When your audience feels like you’re helping them, they’ll be more inclined to engage with your content.


4. You don’t know your audience

When you create a piece of content, do you know who you ultimately want to engage with it?

You’re probably thinking “customers.”

Unfortunately, just trying to attract anyone with a credit card isn’t going to get you great results.

With the mass amounts of content and information on the Internet, customers can find content that speaks directly to them – no matter how niche that might be.

To get attention, you need to find your audience and create content just for them.

When you focus your content, you might be narrowing down your audience pool, but you’re making deeper connections.

This can help you see real growth from your content.

Let’s take a look at how Modernweb used a hyper-targeted content strategy to bring in 10,000 visitors in just three weeks.

They started with defining their “who.”

And they got specific.

They came to the conclusion that they would be writing for “technology executives inside of enterprise companies.”

While they had clients who owned startups and small businesses, they weren’t their ideal client. So, they weren’t an area of focus.

Next, they dove into understanding the day-to-day pain points that those individuals experience.

Finally, based on the audience and pain points they established, they created a content plan that addressed those needs.

In this case, ‘Modernweb’ decided they’d focus on sharing stories from enterprise businesses who had recently switched from older to newer frameworks.

They identified their audience, understood what they were struggling with, then presented them with content that explained how similar individuals handled the same problem.

In just three weeks, their web traffic saw a major jump.

google analytics drop

Just from getting to know their audience, they were able to bring more unique visitors to their website and keep them engaged for an average of 9 minutes.

There are a few different ways you can begin to replicate Modernweb’s results.

First, create a buyer persona.

A buyer persona walks you through who your ideal client is.

Here’s an example from ClearVoice.

clearvoice female buyer persona

It breaks down exactly who they are, what problems they experience, and what kinds of solutions they might be looking for.

You can go deeper into your buyer persona to explain things like what they do each day, what kind of education level they have, or what they might do in their spare time.

The more detailed you can get with your buyer persona, the more targeted you can make your content.

If you have a wide range of products or services, you may also want to create multiple personas.

For example, here’s another example from ClearVoice.

clearvoice male buyer persona

While both John and Sandy have similar needs, they have different goals and challenges – meaning they’ll need to be targeted differently.

This can ensure that each of your audience members is well represented.

Next, pay attention to what they’re doing on social.

Monitoring your customer’s social activity can give you insights into the problems they’re facing, the solutions they may want, and what questions they may have.

You can then use this information to refine your content and guarantee you’re creating something they care about.

Check out the questions they’re asking on traditional platforms like Facebook or Twitter, but also dive into question sites or forums like Quora and Reddit.

For example, if you’re a personal finance firm looking for content ideas, the Personal Finance Reddit page can be a goldmine.

personal finance reddit

Users are constantly jumping on to ask questions about paying off debt, how to properly invest, or get advice on what to do in credit scams.

Knowing the real-life struggles your audience is facing can help you adjust and refine your content strategy to truly fit their needs.

Both of these pages can give you a great jumping-off point for creating new content.

Finally, participate in conversations with your audience.

Get involved in Twitter Chats or Facebook Groups where your audience is hanging out.

Check out how RivalIQ gets involved in a conversation with a participant during the #BufferChat.

bufferchat with rival IQ on twitter

Not only does this allow them to make a great impression, but it also gives them some insight into what potential customers may be struggling with.

As you become familiar with the conversations they’re engaging with, you can refine your messaging and topics to better suit their needs and preferences.


5. Your voice isn’t genuine

Customers want to purchase from companies they believe they can trust.

In fact, the top quality that customers look for in a brand is honesty, followed by friendliness and helpfulness.

behaviors consumers want from brands

However, if it seems like you’re just putting on a persona for sales, they’re going to be hesitant to connect.

When creating your brand voice, it needs to connect who your brand is with who your audience thinks your brand should be.

Let’s consider this graph for a second.

Snarkiness is the last thing that customers what when it comes to brands on social media.

However, when we look at brands like Wendy’s and MoonPie, their attitude gets them hundreds of thousands of engagements.

So, what’s going on here?

Both Wendy’s and MoonPie have made it their brand persona to be snarky, witty, and sarcastic on social.

It’s who they are – and that’s why it works.

They’re not pretending to have an attitude just for attention.

It’s a unique indicator of their content, allowing them to create a reputation that makes customers want to connect.

Check out this quote from Juntae Delane, Founder of Digital Branding Institute.

content marketing predictions for 2018

According to Juntae, a brand’s voice needs to go beyond simple industry jargon and bland business tones.

Instead, it needs to match with the customer’s needs and provide a human element to the brand.

You can build your brand voice of the buyer persona you’ve created.

Based on your buyer persona, get familiar with the kind of language, tone, or colloquialisms your audience may be using.

Check out how they speak on their own social media platforms.

Then, take a look at the competitors or other brands they’re engaging with.

Once you’re familiar with the way they communicate, create a storyboard for your voice.

Think of your brand as a unique individual.

Outline what your brand likes, what they don’t like, how they perceive themselves, and how they want to be perceived by others.

You’ll also want to dig deeper to consider larger ideas that might not have any direct influence on your brand.

Today’s customers are expecting brands to be more than just a business.

For example, 65% of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take a stand on social or political issues.

how important is it for brands to take a stand on social and political issues

Take a look at the conversation created around Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham criticized Parkland school shooting survivor and gun control advocate, David Hogg, for getting rejected from four colleges.

David responded by calling out all of Ingraham’s advertisers, asking them to pull their support of the show.

david hogg pressuring advertisers through Twitter

Within a few days, companies like Hulu, Bayer, and Nutrish had announced they’d be pulling the ads from Ingraham’s program.

After a few weeks, the program had lost 24 advertisers.

However, not all advertisers chose to separate.

Mike Lindell, founder of the MyPillow, announced he would be leaving his advertisements on the program.

By becoming a part of important conversations and debates, brands can refine their voice and make their opinions and beliefs more well known.

While it’s impossible to prepare for every kind of hurdle or backlash your brand may experience, knowing where your brand falls in these situations can help you create consistent messaging through your content.


6. You’re not promoting

Remember when Beyonce released a surprise album without any marketing?

In three days, she sold almost 830,000 albums.

It was impressive.

However, if you’re trying to use this tactic to promote your content, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Unfortunately, you’re not Beyonce.

And that means you need to promote.

Proper content promotion is really the key to getting attention to your content.

If you’re simply posting links to your latest blog post on your Twitter account, you’re probably going to get ignored.

Take a look at this Tweet from user Vic Maine.

vic maine low quality tweet

It’s just a link, featuring no context, hashtags, or other interesting information that might entice the reader to engage.

So, it’s not really surprising to see it hasn’t started any conversations or gotten any traction.

However, you can refine your promotion strategy to include email marketing, social, forums, and influencer marketing to improve your results.

First, let’s take a look at social.

Companies have been promoting their content on social for years.

However, the way you should promote and where you should promote is always changing.

Just one shift to the network’s algorithm or design (or even a negative post from an influencer) and your entire promotion strategy might be turned upside down.

Take a look at Facebook, for example.

After changing their algorithm, many brands reported a drop in organic reach.

However, you can work around this algorithm shift by either paying to promote your content or creating content that your audience wants to engage with.

Check out this breakdown Buffer created of important signals that can influence your ranking on Facebook.

ranking signals in news feed rankings

As you can see, some of the most important factors of what gets ranked depends on how users are interacting with the post.

This means you want to focus more on creating content that individuals want to engage with, rather than strictly shock-value content.

You should also make your content easy for your readers or viewers to share your content on their own.

Within blog posts, including “Click to Tweet” bars or share buttons can help encourage visitors to share the content with their friends or family – helping to improve your reach.

Content Marketing Institute frequently uses Click to Tweet bars to make it easier for their readers to share their content.

content marketing institute click to tweet

You can also use more targeted marketing approaches to help reach your audience, such as email marketing.

When you properly segment your email lists, you can share your content with individuals you already know are interested in what you’re sharing.

Take a look at the results MailChimp found for campaigns segmented by interest groups.

mailchimp campaigns segmented by interest groups

By sending specific content to your audience members based on their interests, you can dramatically improve your campaign results.


7. Your content isn’t properly optimized

Promoting your content is just one side of the coin.

To truly bring attention to what you produce, you want your audience to be able to find what you’re creating.

This means it needs to be properly optimized.

Each piece of content should comply with your greater SEO strategy.

This means going beyond just creating content that your audience wants to read or engage with.

Keywords should be factored into each piece of content you create.

By finding words or phrases that your audience is actually searching online, you can increase your chances of them finding you.

The Keyword Planner from AdWords is one way you can find new keyword opportunities.

flowers online keyword planner

You want to find keywords that are high in average monthly searches but low in competition.

Don’t simply guess at what you think your audience wants.

You also want to make sure your content is properly formatted.

Your titles and heading should be strong and capable of standing on their own.

According to CopyBlogger, 8 in 10 individuals will read a headline – but only 2 in 10 will read the rest.

This means you need to create headlines that your audience can’t resist.

The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer is one tool you can use to improve your headlines.

word balance in headlines

The tool analyzes your word balance to give you an overall score out of 100.

It also provides you with insights on length, sentiment, and even guesses which keywords it believes you’re targeting.

headline keywords and sentiment

This can help you test the strength of your headlines before you post, saving you trouble and guaranteeing higher results.

But blog content isn’t the only thing you need to optimize.

You also want to make sure your videos, infographics, and images are optimized appropriately.

To optimize your videos on YouTube, start with an optimized title that describes the video and includes the keyword you’re trying to rank for.

This isn’t too much different than writing blog titles.

However, you also want to tag your videos appropriately and write a full description.

Your video description lets the YouTube algorithm know what your video is about.

Check out this description from a DottoTech video.

dottotech youtube video description

He provides a clear overview of what will be featured in the video, as well as some links to the apps he’s going to talk about.

This can help improve his connection to those pages and give him the opportunity to further target his keywords.

Images are another area you’ll want to ensure are properly optimized.

First, make sure you’re using high-quality images that are the appropriate size for where they’re being placed.

This can help improve your page load time to keep visitors happy.

You can use a compressor tool to change the size of your image without hurting the quality.

You’ll also want to place the keyword you’re trying to target in the file name.

Because Google can’t actually see what your image is, it’s your responsibility to tell them.

Use captions, alt text, and title text to give Google a better understanding of the image you’re sharing.



In today’s digital age, you can’t afford to create content that is easily ignored.

However, it takes time to craft messaging that your audience will want to engage with.

Keep these seven tips in mind the next time you create content.

What tips or tricks have you found that improve your content-creation process?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the co-founder of Neil Patel Digital.


Introducing Sherlock –  User Engagement Scoring for SaaS Businesses

We are super excited to introduce Sherlock – a new product from Space Pencil (the folks that brought you Kissmetrics) – to the market this week.

Sherlock is a user engagement scoring application built specifically for SaaS businesses – for whom user engagement is…well…pretty much the whole point.

We built Sherlock to help SaaS businesses finally wrap their arms around the elusive beast that is user engagement – to make it tangible and accessible. Oh…and actionable. Very actionable.

Sherlock is an analytics product with a purpose – to help make user engagement a centralized metric that drives action across your SaaS operation.

kissmetrics sherlock


Sherlock went from a personal desire to a hack, to a prototype, to the product we just released over the course of several years. In many ways, Sherlock was a passion project – a scratching of our own itch – and in many ways, it is filling a need in the market that we can’t believe hasn’t been properly filled.

We build Sherlock for three main reasons:

  1. In SaaS, user engagement really matters
  2. There has never been a good way to measure and quantify user engagement
  3. User engagement is a metric that should be operationalized across an entire organization


1. In SaaS, user engagement matters — a lot. No, seriously, a lot.

This sounds like an obvious point, but one that cannot be overstated.

The entire SaaS business model is based on retention. Without retention, there is no SaaS business.

And retention is based on engagement. If people don’t use your product, they will cancel.

No engagement, no retention. No retention, no business. The formula is really not more complicated than that.

User engagement is also one of the true leading indicators for a SaaS business. As investor David Skok said in his great blog post on the topic:

“The goal of a SaaS CEO should be to increase the profit they make from each customer (LTV), and lower the costs in sales and marketing that it takes to acquire each customer (CAC). Measuring Customer Engagement is a key tool that will help you achieve that goal.
Honestly, outside of revenue, there isn’t a metric that is more important to a SaaS business than user engagement.”

In many ways, user engagement is the lifeblood of the entire SaaS business model. So…it’s something that should be measured and managed like any other KPI. However…


2. There has never been a good way to measure actual user engagement

I have been searching for a good solution for measuring user engagement since I started building SaaS businesses. It simply blew me away that there wasn’t an easy (and effective) way to truly measure and understand all sides of user engagement. It has been one of my greatest frustrations over the course of several SaaS businesses.

And yes, yes…I’ve used general analytics tools. I’ve tried almost all of them. But none of them really understood what I wanted. What I needed. While they held all my data, offered many different ways to slice and dice, none of them answered my question – quantifiably – on user engagement.

What I always wanted while running SaaS businesses wasn’t that crazy. I wanted to:

  • Know my best users/accounts
  • Understand what makes them great
  • Make more of them

Isn’t that really what every SaaS business wants?

For that to happen, user engagement needed to be quantified in a way that no general analytics tools could do. There needed to be a solution that focus on just this.


3. User engagement is a metric that can & should be operationalized across an entire organization

As a foundational metric that drives a SaaS business, each part of the organization should be using some slice of quantified user engagement to help drive their daily work. For example:

  • The product should use user engagement scoring to determine if their work building features is actually helping increase overall engagement;
  • Sales should be prioritizing their outreach to trial accounts based on the engagement level of those accounts (see the Product Qualified Lead model)
  • Customer Success should be using engagement measurement to drive upsells, save at-risk accounts, and give context for all support interactions.
  • Design should use engagement scoring to determine the best sources for user feedback.
  • Marketing should use engagement scoring to better target messages, identify potential advocates, and more.
  • Boards and investors should use user engagement measurement as a factor in future investment.

User engagement, when done right, can drive operations across the entire organization — this list is really just scratching the surface. A good engagement scoring platform will make it very easy to connect engagement data with the various tools used to drive your operations.

These are the three fundamental reasons why Sherlock now exists in the world. If you need more reasons, this post on the Appcues blog is a good reference.



Sherlock works by giving SaaS teams the ability to create a custom engagement scoring model for their product.

The Sherlock journey starts by sending product usage data to Sherlock via (right now, we only accept data from Segment).

Then a user simply weighs key product events (with a weight between 1–10) based on their importance to overall engagement. It looks like this:

sherlock overall engagement

All actions are not created equally. For every product, certain actions (or events) are simply more important than others.

You know this better than anyone, that is why Sherlock allows you manually set these weights. Once that is done….voila! The entire Sherlock product is populated from there and you will immediately be able to:


Discover users ranked by engagement

A full list of your users, ranked by their engagement level with the product.

sherlock top users

In Sherlock, all users get an engagement score between 1-100. This allows you to discover your top users in seconds (we promise, you WILL be surprised by the people driving engagement).

Also, uncover who is rising or falling, what they do and how their engagement trends over time.


Uncover Account-level engagement

Truly understanding engagement at the account level is incredibly valuable for SaaS businesses. I would argue essential.

sherlock active users

With Sherlock, you get a ranked list of your accounts as well as a list of all users on that account, by engagement level. This is incredibly helpful for many reasons, but especially when planning account management activities.


Track overall product engagement over time

On the dashboard, track total active users, the average score per user, as well as total product engagement over time. Nowhere else can you get data that informs you of the overall performance of your product over time.

sherlock score distribution

Compare engagement by segment

Create custom segments for different groups of users and compare their engagement.

sherlock segment

See which events are most engaging

Get a view of all the activities (events) from your product over time and see which events are actually driving more engagement.

average score of users sherlock

Ship engagement scores to all your important operational tools

The most important thing you can do with this quantified engagement data is to get it to make it accessible in the key tools that will allow you to take action on it. We ship engagement data to Segment, Intercom, Salesforce, and Slack.

sherlock integrations

Again, we are incredibly happy to be able to bring Sherlock to market. If you are running a SaaS company at any stage, I can’t imagine how you can run your business without a clear understanding of user engagement and all the benefits that come from that understanding.

This is what Sherlock is built to do and we feel very confident that it will bring a ton of value to your SaaS business

About the Author: Derek Skaletsky is the Head of Product and Customer Success at Kissmetrics. Previously, he founded the engagement automation app Knowtify which was acquired by Kissmetrics.



Basic On Page SEO Tutorial: Rank Your Blog High on Google

Learn how to properly optimize your Blog post to rank high on Google using basic on page SEO

Watch this tutorial to learn how to properly optimize your blog post content and how to follow best practices when it come to optimizing your Blog posts to rank high on Google.

In this basic on-page SEO tutorial, you will also get a key understanding of your users and how the search engine’s primary functions.

Once the spiders have done their job, the search engine begins the task you are most familiar with – delivering search results. I’m sure you search for information online all the time,

But let’s be real…

We all know that even though search engines like Google and Bing may show thousands of pages of search results, you probably never venture past the first page. This is because you assume whatever pages are ranked high for your search phrase, are more relevant to what you are looking for than pages that are ranked lower.

See, here is how the ongoing and difficult job of search engines looks like:

They have to scour all of the information on the constantly changing Web, and then list search results in order of most relevant to least relevant for the particular keyword, key term, or key phrase you entered.

Change just 1 or 2 words in the phrase you are searching for, and you can drastically change the search results. This is why keywords and phrases are so important in helping your content rank high, so you receive more relevant web traffic than if you have lower-ranked pages.

Understanding the Search Engines

I invite you to check out this WordPress SEO On page plugin to easily Optimize your WordPress Blog…  Check out the demo.

This plugin will act as your SEO On-page Checklist!

Make sure to watch our Webinar to learn how to increase profits from your SEO strategies using web analytics.

Make sure you leave your comments below.

Thanks for your support.

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