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Dec 01

The Use of Blockchain In Digital Marketing

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While the industry is divided on the use of blockchain in general, thanks to cryptocurrency, there’s no question that it has plenty of promise in digital marketing.

Though blockchain got most of its attention from Bitcoin, there’s much more to this technology than cryptocurrency. Blockchain provides a method of digital record-keeping that keeps a ledger of transactions that is transparent and can’t be altered, providing more security than other technologies.

The many advantages of blockchain have already led to its implementation in several industries, notably in finance and healthcare, but it holds a lot of potential for digital marketing.

Find out how blockchain could affect digital marketing and what benefits it holds.

What is Blockchain?

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Blockchain is an electronic public ledger that can be openly shared among separate users, creating an unchangeable record of transactions. Each transaction has a time-stamp and a link to the previous transaction, so it’s impossible to alter.

Each digital record or transaction is called a block, and it allows either an open or controlled group of users to participate and alter the electronic ledger. It can also only be altered or updated with agreement among all participants, and once new information is entered, it can’t be erased. As a result, a blockchain has a true and verifiable record of every transaction that ever existed within the system.

Blockchain is also without an administrator, since the blockchain users are the administrator. Blockchain ledgers can be managed autonomously to exchange information between parties, much like collaborative software or a peer-to-peer network.

Though blockchain is often called a technology, it’s more accurate to refer to it as an architecture creating an unchangeable ledger of transactions.

Data Collection

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The internet is accessible to anyone through ISPs and web browsers, the two gatekeepers. Both of these record and analyze all our online behavior to gain insights about us and apply it to our online searches and future marketing efforts.

Unfortunately, these gatekeepers don’t always offer fair and ethical access to the web, and the recent headlines have proven our personal data is easily bought and sold.

This is where blockchain comes in. With a network built on blockchain-verified signatures, your data stays with you. This is in stark contrast to it floating around servers which are owned by the application you’re using, such as Facebook. With this network, visiting a website would allow you to keep your own personal information, without contributing to a running log of the people who also visited the website. As a result, all your personal information will be encrypted and protected.

While this is a great thing for individuals, it can be scary for marketers. Without access to user data, marketers would need to gather data directly from prospects and customers to get a full picture of the audience.

User experience could change too. Though you should already be putting a lot of effort into user experience now, blockchain could offer the opportunity for users to voluntarily decide which content and advertisements they want to view.

Digital Display Marketing

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Online display ads are riddled with flaws and problems, regardless of whether some businesses see results. For a marketer, online display ads can be expensive, complex and difficult to manage, and the inventory is controlled by Google and Facebook almost exclusively.

The problems that arise from digital advertising in terms of user experience are well known. Display ads are disruptive, intrusive, irritating and waste your battery and bandwidth.

However, a blockchain browser with a Basic Attention Token (BAT) can fix all the issues with ads. By trading on the value of online attention, blockchain can incentivize users to view content and break up the monopoly on digital ads.

It works like this: marketers buy ads with BAT, which are found in private tabs or landing pages. Users who choose to view ads are compensated with BAT, so they’re only seeing the ads they want to see.

As a result, marketers get more accurate consumer information, and users get to learn about only the brands they choose. Users also receive a portion of the marketer’s BAT in exchange for their attention.

Publishers are also compensated by both users and marketers through the revenue-sharing program. Publishers receive a higher portion of the ad spend than the users, however, and may choose to charge BAT for premium subscriptions and content.

This is really a win for everyone involved. Marketers get more accurate, targeted data to tailor future campaigns, publishers earn revenue and control over the message, and users get only the most relevant ads they actually want to see. Users can also do so without risking their personal information.

Just like buying a subscription to a print publication you wanted to read in the past, BAT shows the value of a user’s attention and puts them back in control.

Privacy and Trust

Privacy and brand trust are two overarching issues in the digital world, which leads many users to become skeptical and discerning about who they give their information to.

Giving users control over the amount of personal information they reveal lowers privacy concerns from the user perspective, as well as promoting social responsibility from the marketer’s side.

Caring for your user’s data and privacy are important anyway, so putting effort into improving any shortcomings should already be on your to-do list. With blockchain, however, the businesses that prioritize user privacy will become more apparent and earn more trust from users, building your brand relationships.

On top of that, studies show that users are more willing to voluntarily provide personal information, with permission, if there’s a reward for their trust. If you’re paying users directly to view your ads and content, you’re more likely to get their information and continued support in the future.

Ownership and Security of Assets

Piracy was a problem in the past, which led to sites like Pandora and Amazon Music, Unfortunately, artists are only compensated pennies per stream, and the complexities of the music industry meant that streaming service payments don’t always go to the appropriate person.

With blockchain, artists, filmmakers, musicians, photographers and other creative professionals have the opportunity to provide their pieces to the huge audience without the use of an intermediary. They can gain value for their tokens as they become more popular as well, earning more for their work.

The downside for the marketer is that this would give artists the tools necessary to market themselves directly to their audience, without sacrificing their revenue. This would give artists a chance to be valued for their work, however, and not because they know how to become a corporate product.

Looking to the Future

Though these possibilities are very real, they’re likely far off in the future. For now, we’re seeing blockchain in its infancy and learning more about how it could have positive benefits for user experience and marketing. With that in mind, it’s important to consider the implications for the future.

One thing is for sure, however: right now, some of the best minds in the industry are working on blockchain and cryptocurrency to adapt it to different business models and industries, so there’s likely to be a lot of development in the near future.

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Apr 13

Contractors: Are You Making These 7 Mistakes When Writing Blogs?

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Blog writing can be an incredibly effective digital marketing strategy when the creator pays close attention to all the markers of quality. These markers include both technical and artistic elements as well as the context your blog plays within your overall marketing funnel.

Ignoring any part of this equation will leave you with a less-than-satisfactory result. Your audience will either disregard your content outright or any audiences you successfully build will fail to enter your marketing funnel as intended.

Luckily, plenty of companies out there are doing it right. 78% of B2C companies using content marketing say they are “moderately” to “extremely” successful with their content marketing efforts. 2 out of every 3 also say that their performance is better now than a year ago.

So what are they getting right? Most likely, they are avoiding the following seven common business blog mistakes that can hurt performance. Read the list below to ensure that you can find success and avoid the common pitfalls that hold content performance back.

Using Outdated SEO Techniques That Hurt Readability

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If you find yourself demanding that your blogs include exact match keywords listed within a certain saturation limit, take a step back and look at the data.

According to the Google themselves, keyword stuffing is strongly discouraged. Instead, include keywords naturally within the text, and don’t be afraid to vary how they are used or arranged. Google emphasizes that keywords should match up with user intent, giving the example that a long-time soccer fan will know to refer to important world matches under the “FIFA” acronym, while less-knowledgeable viewers may search for “football playoffs” instead.

Having your keywords appear naturally is key! Google recommends that you avoid “inserting numerous unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines but are annoying or nonsensical to users.” Try to write your content in a style that could get published on a popular industry blog instead, where any bizarre keyword use would be distracting and likely cause an editor to send your piece back.

If you find it hard to let go of bad keyword habits, recognize that search engine algorithm tendencies have changed. According to an extensive study and comparison-based research from SEMrush, 18% of domains that rank for high-volume keywords don’t even have an exact match keyword appear anywhere in the body of the text!

You can therefore rank without having to desperately overuse keywords. Instead, create keyword groups centered around your concept. You can use the AdWords keyword planner for suggestions. Your audience — and the search engines — will thank you!

Not Picking Topics That Have Value or Interest for Your Audience

Your company blog is not another place for ads! People will visit it only if it provides the same quality of content they would expect to find on a publication site. If they see that your “article” is actually a glorified pitch for a product, they will most likely hit the back button.

Ensure that your topics could meet the interest of a casual reader. Your own website visitor data can tell you this by revealing which articles get the most views and lead to the most time spent on site. You can also look to industry publications, mentions of your market niche in mass media, or your own competitors’ blog views for guidance.

Social listening is another useful tool. Social media can be your best source of new blog ideas, in fact. Looking for terms like “can I get a recommendation for…?” and other questions related to your product/service area is a great start. You can also source common questions your sales reps and customer service employees field.

Missing Out on Opportunities to Engage

If you have a comment on your blog or someone sharing it with their added input, recognize that this is an opportunity! Someone who was interested enough to comment or share took time and effort to interact with your materials. Continue the conversation, address their thoughts, and at the very least offer a “thank you!” for their effort.

This tactic is especially important if your typical engagement rate is slim. If you regularly get comments and other feedback on your posts, then choose 3-4 of the most interesting or valuable takes to interact with.

Responding to comments rewards these interactions, but ignoring them can feel like a punishment! People may eventually stop responding or even reading, but you have the power to encourage engagement instead. People love attention online, even if it’s just a brief nod from a brand they care about.

Being Too Scattered With Your Topic Choices

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News moves fast these days, and we are often inspired in the moment to cover a certain topic on our blogs. However, you should balance out these improvisationally chosen subjects with a regular body of ongoing themed, evergreen content.

For example, does your blog have a “101” series for your industry? If you are a lawyer, for instance, does your blog take the time to cover the basics of your area of practice? Then, does it answer common questions people have regarding a typical case?

Articles like these have evergreen appeal, meaning they can continue getting traffic long after their publish date. You can also link to this content within your other pieces, building strength for your SEO and domain authority. Using the lawyer example, a law blog can highlight the word “negligence” the first time it is used in each related blog and link that term to a “What Is Negligence?” intro post.

You can also structure your foundational knowledge posts into a useful section of your website. Intuitive navigation encourages additional page views per visit, and it can strengthen your domain authority to help you rank higher, according to Google.

Not Planning Out Careful Customer Journeys

Every blog you write should not only cover a relevant, interesting topic but also lead the reader to a logical next step — or a choice of next steps.

A strong example of a bad way to do this is writing an article that tells someone everything they need to know about your profession. Let’s say you are a pool maintenance company, and you exhaustively list every chemical test and piece of equipment you use in a comprehensive blog.

This article will no doubt get a lot of views, but then what would they need your company for? Instead, the company can give an example of pool treatments and note that “every pool is different” or that “doing it yourself is time consuming and can lead to mistakes!” That way, the audience knows that even though they could DIY, they’ll get better results from you.

You never want to shoot your own value proposition in the foot, so to speak.

Similarly, guide the reader intuitively from their content view to the next step in their journey. That could be to “download our guide to winterizing your pool” by submitting their email, which gets them on your marketing list. Or, you can encourage them to “get a free estimate and assessment for what we can do to your pool” as a wrap-up call to action (CTA).

Steps in between your journey should be tempting and effortless to take. Keep your audience needs and expectations in mind, and when in doubt A/B test to find the most effective conversion methods.

Writing a Boring Headline

Your audience won’t want to click if your blog’s headline is too uninteresting or confusing. Focus a lot of your writing efforts on your headline, and regularly review data on article performance to see which headlines draw the most clicks.

You can also reference guides to writing better headlines, such as this data from Buzz Sumo and this recommended process from Moz’s Rand Fishkin.

Not Publishing Consistently

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If people show up to a restaurant that’s randomly closed, they may stop trying to show up at all. Similarly, if your blog stagnates for months at a time, you are going to eventually turn off your readers altogether.

Make a point to post to your business blog a bare minimum of several times a month. 1-2 times weekly would be ideal. Having a set content theme for certain days can also work well at drawing regular audiences.

A consistent posting schedule will help you build audiences while rewarding regular readers with a steady stream of new content. Also, don’t neglect to promote your new blogs on social!

Getting Everything Right and Avoiding Business Blog Mistakes

The bottom line with all of these recommendations is to consider your audience. When you can write for real people from the perspective of something they would enjoy reading, you will reap the rewards of better content marketing performance.

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Feb 26

10 Experts to Follow for Growing a Contractor Business Using Digital Marketing

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Sometimes, all you need to achieve breakthroughs in business is a good mentor. The path to growing a contractor business using digital marketing is never easy nor obvious. Yet, by following the guidance and advice of others, it can quickly become more clear.

Contractors these days have more advantages than ever when it comes to finding great marketing insights online. Whereas a few decades ago you’d have to buy books and attend talks in person, now mind-blowingly great advice is just a few clicks away.

To help you find the information and inspiration your contractor business needs to achieve greatness through digital marketing, we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best digital marketing experts worth following. Their content and vision will help you cut out bad habits, embrace change and start engaging in strategies that grow your business reliably.

Neil Patel

Twitter: @neilpatel

Blog: https://neilpatel.com/blog/

Neil Patel has a ridiculously great resume to add to his inspiring, can-do personality. He co-founded KISSmetrics, Hello Bar, Crazy Egg, Quick Sprout and countless other companies.

Reading his bio on QuickSprout reveals a fairly inspiring rags to riches story. Patel got where he is by learning through trial and error. He trained his mind to break down fairly complex marketing concepts people take for granted in order to repeat their success.

Now, on his blog, he does the exact same thing for his readers. Every post he writes gives deep-level insights without dumping too much on you at once. He also gives step-by-step instructions for how to use the world’s best marketing tools.

The only issue is that he can be a bit scattered, and his gung-ho business attitude means that he will bombard you with sales pitches to sign up for. But even still, his highly personable writing voice and capacity to break down tough subjects into digestible nuggets makes him every bit worth following online.

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Ann Handley

Twitter: @MarketingProfs

Blog: http://annhandley.com/blog/

Like Neil Patel, Ann Handley has a jaw-dropping resume. She founded MarketingProfs, she’s a bestselling author, and she’s worked with some of the biggest names in tech and marketing on the planet.

But even more impressive are her writing chops. She writes with the passion and skill of a full-time journalist. Every one of her blog posts feels incredibly eye-opening. They also peel back the layers — not just the hows and whys of writing good marketing content, but also where the industry’s going and how we got where we are.

In other words, she offers not just great marketing advice but also an all-important dose of context. The subjects she touches on have equal value to big companies and small businesses just getting off the ground, so make sure to delve into her pieces on both her personal blog as well as her MarketingProfs author profile.

Kurt Elster

Twitter: @kurtinc

Blog: https://www.shopify.com/partners/blog/search?q=Kurt+Elster

Kurt Elster’s got a magnetic personality and a way of boiling down marketing strategies to their core components. Reading his stuff is like putting on glasses after having fuzzy vision for years.

His main focus is ecommerce, which stems from his deep relationship with Shopify. He even hosts an unofficial podcast on the service. But he also can help business owners with their lead generation, marketing funnel, website design, advertising and more.

Best of all, he uses Twitter to actually offer helpful tidbits, not just dump links to his most recent blogs and events. Follow him to read things that make your head nod vigorously.

Rand Fishkin

Twitter: @randfish

Blog:  https://moz.com/rand/

Founder of the highly successful Moz, Rand Fishkin nevertheless acts with the energy of an up-and-comer rather than an established name in digital marketing. His Whiteboard Friday series is an indispensable resource that helps business owners get perspective on tough issues of the day.

He’s also got an unconventional approach to marketing that aptly fits his odd name and even more unusual hairstyle. Yet, his advice works, and it makes tough marketing decisions incredibly easy to break down.

Barry Schwartz

Twitter: @rustybrick

Blog: https://searchengineland.com/author/barry-schwartz

Barry Schwartz is the CEO and founder of Rusty Brick, but we know him best for his contributions to Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. Chances are that if you see a great in-depth piece on SEO practices and the latest search algorithm changes, Barry’s byline appears at the bottom.

His approach to marketing is focused on details and answering tough questions. At the same time, he isn’t above cracking a joke or taking a lighthearted look at the industry. Follow his work on Search Engine Land if you never want to be caught off guard by sudden Google algorithm changes or the latest shifts in best practices.

Heidi Cohen

Twitter: @heidicohen

Blog: https://actionablemarketingguide.com/

Heidi Cohen runs the aptly named Actionable Marketing Guide, and she’s also been a regular contributor on digital marketing sites like Business 2 Community, ClickZ and Social Media Examiner.

Heidi has a professional approach to complex marketing issues without getting too serious. Like Neil Patel, she breaks down every concept into its smallest parts so that nothing is overlooked, but she always remains focused and easy-to-follow. Her posts will have you taking notes and trying new approaches to digital marketing that could revolutionize your workflow.

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Nick Loper

Twitter: @nloper

Blog: https://www.sidehustlenation.com/blog/

Nick Loper is owner and founder of Side Hustle Nation. He really owns that “side hustle” angle, too. All of his advice and ideas are centered around one concept: you could be making more money if you channel your passion and energy in the right ways.

His advice relates more to structuring your business model and developing new income streams, but it also touches upon important marketing concepts. He also points out great resources that help business owners save time while earning more money.

If you’re a freelancer, ecommerce retailer, investor or just a passionate self-starter, Nick can act as your coach and motivator to make more income.

Gene Marks

Twitter: @genermarks

Blog: https://genemarksblog.wordpress.com/

Gene Marks is a remarkably successful journalist covering small business issues and the economy at large. He’s a regular contributor to the Washington Post, Forbes, Inc.com and many other respected publications. He’s also appeared as an analyst/expert on Fox News and MSNBC.

Through his columns, Gene takes on the trending business issues of the day. He also does a great job of analyzing current marketing strategies. He’ll tell you as business owners what works and what to worry about.

It also helps that Gene always has a fresh, inquisitive attitude in the mold of a true beat reporter. His humor and accurate takes will help you keep up with the pulse of modern businesses while helping you become a more effective business owner overall.

Melinda Emerson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SmallBizLady

Blog: https://succeedasyourownboss.com/author/smallbizlady/

Melinda Emerson speaks from the heart and never pulls any punches. Her energy reflects the scrappy attitude needed to succeed as a small business owner in America.

Keep up with her “Succeed as Your Own Boss” blog for advice on digital marketing, management and just about anything else you’d need to know to make it as a business owner. She’s also an avid Twitter user, updating multiple times a day and always staying on top of the biggest trending topics.

Jay Baer

Twitter: @jaybaer

Blog: http://www.convinceandconvert.com/author/jay-baer/

We started with one of the biggest, most authoritative names in modern digital marketing, so we might as well finish off with one!

Jay Baer posts exhaustive pieces on how to master digital marketing techniques through simple strategies and best practices. He relies on deep research and experimentation to source his data first-hand, so you’ll rarely find hearsay or regurgitated facts on his Convince & Convert blog.

As an added bonus, he also posts occasional teardowns of marketing concepts business owners might take for granted. So read his blog regularly for a much needed reality check from time to time!

Growing a Contractor Business Using Digital Marketing Gets Easier With the Right People Backing You

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We cannot emphasize enough how transformative it is to stay well-read on digital marketing. By reading the latest studies and data, you can stop making assumptions and start making the right call. You’ll also stay up-to-date on changes and developments that would otherwise catch you by surprise.

Keep reading smart people, keep trying new things and keep giving your digital marketing campaigns your 100% best to make growing your business more achievable with every passing day.