Thursday, 31 July 2014

Ten Pointers to Write and Market your Blog

The word blog comes out of the words- web log. But that alone doesn’t really define blog at all. In a layman’s language, a blog is a website with content that is written frequently and added in a chronological order.

Idea is the pillar:
The most important part of blog writing is the idea.The content and writing style supplements the idea which is like a formula.It should captivate and intrigue the readers.Unfortunately, lot of bloggers take keywords as a base of writing content.Keywords might  generate traffic but can never make it popular.
Be honest and loud:
Speak out with your heart.Don’t be afraid of a little controversy.A blog which is honest and of a strong opinion makes the strongest impact.
Goldilocks Title:
Keep your title short and simple.The Goldilocks rule can be applied to a perfect T here.Keep your title to no more than120 characters so that it is easily tweetable.
The perfect time :
The right thing at the right time to the right people.The timing of post is quite important to reach out to as many readers.Ideally you should post on weekdays when there is maximum visibility.
Capture senses with visuals:
Make your blog visually interesting.Psychologist Albert Mehrabian demonstrated that 93% of communication is non-verbal.Visual storytelling is poised to be a breakout marketing trend in 2014.If “content is king” then visual is the emperor.
Make a brand of you:

Last but which should come first, is to brand yourself. What do you want people to know about you? Create your story by sharing how you can help others & identify what problems you solve for them first. Share the real you, be vulnerable, honest and don’t try too hard to project perfection

Monday, 30 June 2014

The Writing of a good Case Study

Wikipedia says that a case study (or case report), in social sciences and life sciences,  is a descriptive, exploratory or explanatory analysis of a person, group or event. In business, however, the main purpose of a case study is to convince the reader that the particular organization or individual can solve business problems in methodic, predictable and transparent way.

A case study should be crisp and to the point. It should outline the response provided in face of a crisis situation. A background of what led to this situation is also necessary. However,at the same time you should make the customer look good.You should never tread too far down path of his pains so that he looks like an idiot!

As with any content you need to give it the face of a story to hook your readers. Add liveliness, define characters and integrate multiple sub stories within. A realistic situation will always have unwanted glitches or bottlenecks. These are as important as the solutions.

Graphs, Infographics or pictorial representations all make the understanding easier. Using of bullet points is highly recommended. Leverage  customers current marketing message if possible.

Overall, break up the entire case study into a few subheadings as:

Should have ten words or fewer including the name of the company

It should mention what industry and nature of work the customer is into.What is his vision that led him to look for a solution.Was there somebody specific who led this initiative.

Atleast three points of pain areas that the customer identified. What tactics did they  try to solve these initially. And  what was the big moment they decided to partner you. What are the top three things they love about your product or service.

The process of implementation should be crisply mentioned and who from the customers team helped you out.

Then we come to the final part.What specific problems has been addressed by you that other customers can relate to.Did this particular customer have any direct big win/big as a result.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Are you struggling to write meaningful content

Diogenes, a Greek philosopher, said “He has the most who is most content with the least”. How truly this has come of age in these times. The one with the most original content in the least words will have the most advantage. 

Content marketing plan has been ranked consistently as one of the top three priorities of marketers for several wars. So how do you differentiate your two cents from the sea of content flooding the minds of your customers? Here is my take on few things you cannot ignore while creating content.

Research what readers want

Research about what questions people are asking. Place yourselves in the shoes of your readers and find out what answers they require. Create a persona of the reader and jump over to his side of the fence. There are several sites as Yahoo Answers which can give you a fair idea. Make a list of these and make sure you cover these when you pen your content. Listen socially!

Find out trends

Find out history trends of particular terms or keywords. With the help of google and other sites get an idea of how the subject has been treated over a period of time.This will help you to understand if your ideas are relevant at today’s times.

Distribute and format content

Do not cramp all of your ideas at one place. Distribute them evenly over the entire write up. At the same time, keep the formatting clear with headings and sub headings .Only one out of five readers go beyond your title.So work on it. Make it easy for everyone to find quickly if the subject is relevant to them. Avoid THDR(Too Hard Didn’t Read).It is an important part of content strategy.

A story with pictures

Now that you have made it clear and simple, put in some pictures and weave a story around it. It will be engrossing and pleasing to the eyes of the reader. Not to mention, images tell a thousand words as well as help in your SEO! Plan your content in advance.

Think original

Original is originality which means ideas should be original. This is something which should be on top of your mind to make your content top class. Nothing ever beats original. Do not agree? Just try once.The foundations of content marketing is laid on this.

Apply Pareto's principle

Pareto’s principle or 80/20 rule now applies to almost everything in life. So what does it mean for content. We can safely decipher that 20% of our content will be viewed 80% of the time. Find out those critical inputs (the "critical few") that you should pay a lot of attention to, and many unimportant inputs (the "trivial many") that you can ignore.


Suggest not direct

Make your audience apply your thoughts. Never direct them to do things. Application will make them understand and they will find your content compelling. It will make more sense to your audience if you can justify why they need to read and apply those.

Content creation is an art and science as well. So next time you set out to write some content, keep the above things in mind and let me know the results! Happy Writing!

Monday, 9 June 2014

How to handle the evolved email marketing?

What is it about email marketing that it is still ranks in top three lead generation tactics even after the advent of social media. This got me to read more about what has changed in this marketing channel and what new tactics people are using to avoid being in spam.

How and where to start?

The first and foremost view that I got is segmentation, putting across the right message at right time. You should be paying attention to where the contact is in the purchasing cycle so that you send the right message at the right time to the right audience. There should be one clear call to action, this is important as customer attention span is shrinking. The subject line is your “foot in the door”. It should be engrossing. Each subject line should be the superhero that stands out from the crowd, the pre-header should be its trusty sidekick and your email should be a story that your viewers will want to sit through.

What to put inside?

Now, coming to content part, Create emails using inverted pyramid style, with most important info up top. Only send quality information (imagine you are receiving this). Incorporate strong visuals into your email.Add real scarcity to emails (live countdown timers, days left for an offer...). It boosts CTR as well as open rates on the long run. Getting response is more about what's in it for them more than what's in it for you - let your audience's "WIIFM?" lead your offers, content, segmentation – everything

When and how much to send?

Don't send too much, too fast. Warm up your IP's and establish a pattern, before you start blasting.Focus on growing your list all of the time as newer subscribers are more engaged adding to healthier open rates and ROI. Send 1 salesy email, for every 3-4 informative emails that build trust with your subscribers. When an audience opens an email, be sure to have a series of 2-3 more emails close behind related to the same subject/topic of discussion - Engage the Engaged!
Do not forget the mobile readers!

Remember your mobile readers, check your links are easily clicked on desktops and mobile users alike. Don't miss out on A B testing. Add hidden teaser text to the very top of your code. This text will display as the first 2-3 lines for mobile users but won't be seen by desktop users.

Be creative at each step

If you're out of ideas for your next newsletter, take a break to think about it. Try something simple but meaningful for your email list. Example: Build a newsletter with a link to a quiz about your audience interests, built on a special landing page on your website. Another could be making a video on Screenr, and same process. Be creative!Stop thinking of it as "marketing"; it's a conversation and treat it as such.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

A crisp guide to help you choose the right cloud provider :

Cloud computing is an inevitability that you can no longer ignore. Most studies suggest that businesses without a proper recovery plan shut down within 12 months of a flood or fire. With roughly 30,000 service providers in storage and backup, how do you go about choosing the one that serves you perfectly. Few areas of concern could be security concerns ,expensive bandwith, uptime history or unwanted features.
Cloud Computing,Cloud storage, data storage
Security:First and foremost, security of your data should be the topmost priority.The Secure Socket Layer(SSL) and Transport Secure Layer(TSL) is the standard and most widely deployed security protocol when transferring data. Going forward, more encryption protocols are required to protect your digital assets in the cloud.Your provider should offer a minimum 128-bit encryption but the ideal is always a 256-bit encryption.
Once you are satisfied with the level of security, you need to probe further into their services and features including :
Regulatory Compliance: It can cover many things from Government regulations-Sarbanes-Oxley and EU Data Protection Act to industry regulations such as PCI-DSS and HIPAA. You need to make sure that your provider submits all audits and follows all regulations. It is all the more important with the 43A amendment to the IT Security Act 2000.
Physical and Digital Security: Does your provider have a good access management strategy and data center orchestration for their data center. Is the data stored protected by a comprehensive endpoint security solution or network based hardware and software security.With 17 percent of Internet servers vulnerable to the recent Heartbleed bug , this aspect is a must to look into.
Recovery Capabilities: A natural disaster or a simple accident can threaten your data.You need to make sure that your provider has “Hot Sites” and “Warm Sites”  with defined Service Level Agreements by the hour. Do they run Disaster recovery tests regularly. The Huffington Post-Hurricane Sandy case study is a case in point.
Integrated Service Provider: An Integration Data Protection Plan includes anti-virus expertise,data cleaning and hardware lifecycle management. A stand-alone backup service provider would not be able to offer this.Do they offer value such as pricing options for different data types.
There would be a lot of other but critical things to consider, your comments on same are welcome!

Social Media New Trends 2014

Here are a few trends I expect this year. Your comments feedback are most welcome!

1. Social TV Integration
Social Trends, Twitter latest trends,facebook trends,facebook 2014Many shows have already begun to integrate social TV, either through polling or integrating social elements within the show. See my example of how both the UFC and WWE are integrating social media into their programming. Social media played a pivotal role in the last presidential election, and it will likely be more integrated into political broadcasts.
As each news channel fights hard to keep their viewers engaged, networks like CNN and Fox have made significant strides to engage their audience, although some would argue that this social media integration has come at the expense of hard-hitting journalism and analysis.

Sure, sure this was the next big trend in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 ... but 2014 may be the year. Zynga paved the road for simple games and more people are investing and experimenting. Social gaming will go beyond Badges and start influencing people's behavior in the real world. For example, photo scavenger hunts tied to a gaming platform on Facebook may be linked to a social deal site to offer you a discount at a bar
The next Angry Birds (game) will be social. The key is creating a semi-mindless but satisfying game playable while people wait, vegetate or commute.

3.Social media affecting search results

Search engines like Google are continuously perfecting their algorithms, and they'd be out of their minds to ignore the shift toward social media relevance. Google recently made some tweaks to their search algorithm that now returns more timely and recently published content in search results.
For websites and company's that have blogs updated frequently, the integration of social media into search engine results is important. Moreover, search results are getting a lot more personal and customized to individual preferences, especially now with the integration ofGoolge+ into social media.
Pages that have previously been shared by your network on FacebookTwitter or Google+ rank higher in your own search results. However, For somebody else's search results for the same keyword may look comparably different because their network of friends shares different content.
Expect to see your search results move even more toward social relevance in 2014.

4.Local Differences

One interesting trend in social media comes as a gap in  Facebook's global domination comes in the shape of China. The site is officially banned in China but local sites are massive within the market.

An eMarketer report lists TencentQZone at the front of the pack in China, while TencentWeibo, SinaWeibo, and Renren also have significant market shares. With the Internet itself not expected to reach a majority of China's vast population until 2015, Qzone may even be able to overhaul Facebook's active user figures without having to expand very much outside Chinese borders.

Elsewhere, Russia is dominated by Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki, sites that are also quickly expanding into other Eastern European countries as social media sharing sites.
Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Poland were the other countries listed by comScore as the territories where Facebook doesn’t command the greatest market share but even in its own backyard, Facebook shouldn't rest on its laurels.
Overall in social media sharing space Twitter's U.S. growth is predicted to be four times greater than Facebook's over the next couple of years. We've yet to really see howGoogle+ will fare and niche sites like the business-oriented LinkedIn continue to grow within their own remits. Plus, Pinterest is growing fast.
Right now Facebook is sitting pretty. Social media trends can change with alarming rapidity however and, as the spectacular decline of MySpace demonstrated, none of the major players can afford to take anything for granted.

What is Social Media today?

Social media can be best understood as a group of new kind of online media with characterestics such as participation,openess,conversation and connectedness.It provides content for users and allows users to contribute in creation and development of content also.

What is Social Media

Social Media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue between organizations, communities, and individuals.
Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. Social media is ubiquitously accessible, and enabled by scalable communication techniques.
According to Kaplan and Haenlein there are six different types of social media: collaborative projects (e.g., Wikipedia),  and microblogs (e.g., Twitter), content communities (e.g., YouTube), social networking sites (e.g., Facebook), virtual game worlds (e.g., World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life). Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing and voice over IP, to name a few. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms.

Honeycomb Framework The honeycomb framework defines how social media services focus on some or all of seven functional building blocks (identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups). These building blocks help understand the engagement needs of the social media audience. For instance, LinkedIn users care mostly about identity, reputation and relationships, whereas YouTube’s primary building blocks are sharing, conversations, groups and reputation.

Social Media Examples:

·Social Bookmarking(,Blinklist,Simpy) Interact by tagging websites and searching
 through websites bookmarked by other people.
 ·Social News(Digg, Propeller, Reddit) Interact by voting for articles and commenting on them.
·Social Networking(Facebook, Hi5, Last.FM) Interact by adding friends, commenting on profiles, joining groups and having discussions.
·Social Photo and Video Sharing. (YouTube, Flickr) Interact by sharing photos or videos and commenting on user submissions.