Just over a year ago we decided that we would put a bit more effort in to the local digital marketing meetup that we host; Drink Digital.
We would try and get a few more people there. We would try and get different disciplines coming together and working together on more successful digital marketing campaigns. We would re-brand it.
I also decided that I would put more effort into the presentations I was giving. Ian would still cover everything that had happened in SEO and PPC in the months previous but I would try and put presentations together that would appeal to anyone in digital – SEOs, PPCer’s, UX folk, Marketing Managers, Designers, Developers… everyone.
14 months has passed since then and we have seen the number of people attending increase, we got sponsored, and, most recently, we moved to a spangly new venue.
Now, if you’ve been to Drink before, you may have heard me mention that all of my presentations are connected in some way. They refer back to each other, they mention the same tools for different applications, they cross reference books and writers. With the start of a new year, it feels like now is a good a time as any to gather all of my presentations together in one place. Some attendees only came for the first time in December so may have been wondering what the hell I was waffling on about. Not everyone can make every meetup.
So here we go, the 7 (sort of connected) presentations that I have given over the last year or so. Each with a brief synopsis of what it was that I was trying to say. Each with some context for the slides. Each with the resources I mentioned and tools that I called up – fully linked up to what I am referencing.
Feel free to bookmark this page or not. Feel free to ignore me completely. Hopefully some of you might get something out of them and they don’t just exist for the 25 minutes slots that I delivered them in.
See you at Drink Digital in 2018. It’s pretty good y’know.
Steal Like An Artist (Confessions Of A Digital Marketing Thief)
Nothing is original.
No matter what you think you have come up with – that blog posts, that business idea, that image, that graphic, that tool – there is a good chance that someone else has already done, tried, or thought about it.
I came across an artist called Austin Kleon several years ago and his book Steal Like an Artist has stuck with me. In it he talks about how the original ideas he thought he was having in his blackout poems had been done before by Tom Phillips, William Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Tristan Tzara, and Caleb Whitefoord before.
Consciously, or subconsciously, we steal ideas. When you learn to accept and embrace this you can make sure become a responsible thief, collecting ideas and mashing them together to come up something that isn’t completely original but at least comes at it from a different angle.
This presentation talked about stealing and how you can apply the concept to digital marketing – in SEO, in PPC, email marketing, conversion optimisation and more.
Steal Responsibly and Keep ‘Em Peeled!
KISS – not the band but the KISS principle of keeping it simple stupid. You can find details here on Wikipedia – make your life easier by not over complicating things.
The Three P’s – personalised, positioned and persuasive – ideas from Influence at Work by Robert Cialdini.
Austin Kleon and his book Steal Like An Artist – what inspired this presentation and one of the guiding principles we use with content at Boom. When he discovered that some of his ideas were not entirely original he went on a voyage of discovery, tracing ideas back hundreds of years. This left him this:
Spyfu – get ideas for Title Tags and Meta Descriptions for SEO from the people with the data – the PPC guys!
Sistrix – use the PPC section of Sistrix to get more Title Tag and Meta Description ideas.
Really Good Emails – of course you can steal ideas from other email marketing campaigns – use this tool instead of cluttering up your inbox with junk.
Trello – use trello as an old fashioned swipe file – get all of your ideas in one place. We use it at Boom, mine can get a little busy but here you go.
You could also use evernote for this – or google keep, pinterest or pocket. As long as you can tag it and search it then you are good. There are often plugins you can use to make your life easier to get the content for stealing into your tool of choice.
Subject Line – you can use this for stealing ideas for exciting and new subject lines for email marketing or outreach.
Visual Ping – use this tool to track what changes your competitors are making on their key pages. It will grab a screenshot and let you know what they have changed. Sneaky.
Cycling, Hot Dogs, Marginal Gains and Digital Marketing
It is especially true in SEO that clients, managers, and stakeholders think that a lump of cash and 3 weeks is going to make a site magically rank well, deliver traffic, and deliver oodles of cash into their bank account overnight.
It just doesn’t work like this.
At Boom we have taken David Brailsford and the marginal gain theory that he used as part of the strategy for taking the British cycling team to success and rode with it (Ha! Pun). We have always known that some work here and some work there, some copy here, some links built here all add up. It is this approach of constantly working on smaller projects, smaller idea and smaller tactics that help build success.
We see it time and time again that people invest a huge chunk of time and resource into one campaign that falls flat on its face. More selective, across the board small wins often equal bigger success.
David Brailsford and Marginal Gains – although it has come under some criticism recently (the week of the presentation, to be fair, and the reason Ian sneaked a drugs slide in there) there is something quite compelling about the story of the English Cycling Team and the small improvements that they made to help them win all of the medals. Of course, we work in digital marketing so we know that correlation is not causation and things should be taken with a pinch of salt. We use the concept at Boom on our projects and it works for us!
Takeru Kobayashi – so those who came to this Drink Digital got a presentation about cycling achievements and competitive eating! Takeru used marginal gains theory to help him eat more hot dogs quicker than anyone else in the world. You should follow the links and read about him – he is an interesting chap.
- Aviation and marginal gains.
- The NHS and marginal gains.
- QuantumBlack and marginal gains.
- Toyota and marginal gains.
SEO Title Tag Optimization at Etsy: Experimental Design and Causal Inference – changing Title Tags at scale across lots of pages to encourage more click throughs. This article is a great example of how to sample, take the data, look for the wins and then apply them at scale.
Demystifying SEO with experiments – we see in this article how pinterest do their SEO experiments – controlled experiments, control groups, learning and applying.
Second Page Poaching and Technical SEO at Scale – in which we learn how Dennis took the concept of second page approaching to its logical conclusion. On Scale.
The Kaizen Approach to SEO – a great post in which Donny discusses how to use the ancient art of Kaizen to always be improving your site.
Sistrix – one of the few SEO tool suites that allows you to see sections of the site and compare their visibility against each other. In this presentation we looked at how the addition of hub content to one part of the site improved that section more significantly than the others.
Buzzstream – use their email open rate and link click rates to test subject lines. Send them out in small batches and adjust as you go rather than sending 200 all with the same subject.
Getting Sacked, Van Halen, M & M’s and Better Digital Marketing Decisions
If you had asked me 5 years ago whether I would ever be talking about processes and checklists I would have told you to get on yer bike, sunshine. Processes aren’t for creatives – they stifle it.
Thing is, sometimes we change our opinions. The Heath Brother book Decisive was the catalyst for this change. 3 or 4 years ago I realised that would we would need some processes in place. The more people you have working alongside you the more times you have to repeat yourself. Not everyone can go and figure it all out for themselves.
I realised that I might be confident in making decisions but not everyone’s the same. So how would I take the decisions that I had already made – successful or not and apply that to the team at large. How would I remove the need to make too many decisions from the working day for the rest of the team.
Processes, checklists and frameworks.
Processes can be:
- Telephone etiquette
- Booking holidays
- Calling in sick
- Petty cash
- Folder organisation
- Locking the office
The stuff that doesn’t change, the boring mundane, day to day stuff. Get the process in place. Let people know where it is. They don’t have to think about it and they don’t have to ask about it. It’s all there for them.
Checklists can be:
- Content launches
- Site migrations
- Technical SEO audits
- New site launches
- Going HTTPs
- Keyword research
- Tool processes
Checklists are less rigid than processes. Yes you need to think about a lot of things, but maybe not all of them. Checklists often require expert input and people who know what they are doing. But those people can’t remember everything – if you have a checklist to go through it helps. They can be added to or taken away from, they can be adapted and changed. Having them takes away the need to re-plan for things you have done (or a team ember has done) several times before.
Frameworks can be:
- Design principles
- Coming up with creative ideas
- Even making decisions!!!
Even less rigid than checklists frameworks act as guidance on how we have done things that are successful in the past. How do we know that we are heading in the right direction. A lot of our frameworks pertain to content – from Steal Like an Artist downwards.
WRAP – coming back to the Heath Brothers again and their rather fantastic book Decisive – the inspiration for a lot of this presentation. It looks at how people make decisions – often tough ones – and uses the WRAP acronym as the backbone of the book. Widen your options. Reality-test your assumptions. Attain distance before deciding. Prepare to be wrong.
Van Halen’s Concert Contract Required No Brown M&Ms? – so there is a scene in Wayne’s World about Ozzy not wanting to go on stage unless all the brown M&M’s had been taken from his bowl. Amazingly the story is almost true. But it was Van Halen.
“The presence of even a single brown M&M in that bowl, rumor had it, was sufficient legal cause for Van Halen to peremptorily cancel a scheduled appearance without advance notice (and usually an excuse for them to go on a destructive rampage as well).
The legendary “no brown M&Ms” contract clause was indeed real, but the purported motivation for it was not. The M&Ms provision was included in Van Halen’s contracts not as an act of caprice, but because it served a practical purpose: to provide a simple way of determining whether the technical specifications of the contract had been thoroughly read and complied with.”
Advanced Web Ranking – one of the best ranking tools in existence and one that you overlay Google Penalty data over the top of your ranking data to help you make better decisions on what to do.
Panguin Tool – allows Google update data to be overlaid onto your actual Google Analytics data.
Semrush – has a backlink checker that attempts to work out how toxic the links are that are pointing at your site.
Process Street – allows you to add processes and checklist that can be downloaded or run. Anyone – at any time – can set one up (keep this organised folks!!) and it allows the things that have to be the same to actually be the same.
Make More Time For Falconry; Digital Marketing Hacks and Habits
So productivity is big business now. There are books. Written by keynote speakers. There are posts about those books and those presentations.
Thing is, people who think they are productive often aren’t that productive it all. Use a to do app they say. Use the app, then label everything, then prioritise it, then add a date and then put it in a colour-coded folder. Get out! That isn’t productive, that procrastination hiding itself under a veneer of assumed productivity.
The most productive people are efficient people.
In this presentation we looked at some data around the areas of our lives that take over – phones and emails. We looked at how smart and successful people have their own way of removing decisions from their daily lives.
We then looked at some tools that you could use to make you working day more efficient. Efficiency leads to get all of your work done in the allotted time.
Productive people talk about how busy they are and how productive they are in the same breath.
Efficient people don’t really talk about it and are down the park with their kids or in the pub with their friends whilst the “productive” person is still at work.
People check their smartphones 85 times a day (and they don’t even know they’re doing it) – research from Nottingham University looking at how many times we actually check out phones – eye opening stuff.
Email Statistics Report, 2015-2019 – a detailed report on email habits and one of many I could have used for the presentation.
Quality Time – this is the android app that I used to measure my phone opens and habits for this presentation – but there are load of them.
Gmail Meter – this has been around for ages and a great way of checking your email habits for free.
Mergewords – a free tool for taking 3 sets of words and merging them together – good for Meta Descriptions, link building and adwords.
Quill Engage – this is where we got smart! Using AI to write reports about Google Analytics data – perfectly readable and not touched by a human.
Little Data – get actionable soundbites about your Google Analytics data delivered to your inbox every day.
Mixmax – a great tool for assisting your through email hell – templates are pretty nifty.
Phrase Express – a pretty cheap way of turning shortcuts into real words and sentences. I use this to make common words and phrases that I use every day appear with only a few clicks or abbreviations.
Yes. Yes. Yes. Getting People To Take Action On Your Digital Marketing Ideas And Recommendations
With this presentation I decided to step completely away from tools and I think I only mentioned one in the entire thing.
No matter what you do in digital there is something that binds us all together; people don’t always listen to us, or act on, our recommendations. When people don’t act on our recommendation then stuff doesn’t get done – or at least not to the standard we need. Then goals are met and people aren’t happy.
Our job doesn’t end when the recommendations or designs or keyword research is delivered. We need to work hard to make sure that they actually happen. Otherwise they are next to worthless.
Covering specific examples for designers, developers and SEO practitioners there are plenty of actionable points in this presentation – just don’t ask me to give it again!
Reciprocity – humans like to give back. I talked about the waiters that give mints when you have had your dinner in a restaurant. We’ve all been given a mint at a restaurant. We’re not daft – we know what it is for. There was a study done. In the study, giving diners a single mint at the end of their meal, typically increased tips by around 3%. Interestingly if the gift is doubled and two mints are provided, tips don’t double. They quadruple, a 14% increase in tips. But perhaps most interestingly of all, is the fact that if the waiter provides one mint, starts to walk away from the table, but pauses, turns back and says, “For you nice people, here’s an extra mint,” tips go through the roof. A 23% increase influenced not by what was given, but how it was given
Scarcity – if you can’t have it, you want it.
Dave Trott tells a story in his book of a company called Predatory Thinking.
There was a guy who sold margarine in Belgium who had an epiphany whilst eating chocolate that he was in the wrong game. He quit his job and made the perfect chocolate pudding. It then needed marketing, so he approached big fish. They took on the job and these guy waited weeks before he phone to see what was happening. “Er, you’d better come in – we have something to show you”. He went to see them and they presented him with the bad news. “We have some bad news it looks like someone has beaten you to it. Same product, same positioning, gooey but premium. They’ve called it gu – with two little umlauts. Classy but fun – just like you wanted it”. He was flabbergasted “Its brilliant”. They went on “Look a product and the packaging – everything you wanted – we think they are ready and going to be successful . “Of course they’ll be successful, it’s brilliant”, the man said. He sat back dejected before the guys from big fish said “Good. Cos it’s yours; the design, the packaging, the name, all yours. We made the story up”
They presented it in a way that he couldn’t/wouldn’t ask for changes. He knew it was what he wanted and now his ego couldn’t block it.
Authority – people follow and listen to knowledgeable people. Why do doctors have their credentials on their wall? Do you invite people to your office for deal closing meetings and just happen to do it on the room that has all your digital marketing accreditations?
In Cialdini’s book he talks about real estate agents who changed how they answered the phone. Instead of saying I’ll put you through to Peter they said “I’ll put you through to Peter who has 20 years of experience” Result? 15% rise in signed contracts.
Don’t assume that people will know you from what you have done or from what you say on website. Get other people to tell ’em 😉
Using this principle in web design is common.
Consistency – humans don’t like to break their own consistency. In a set of studies for a Drive Safely campaign in America researchers found that people really didn’t want to put up a massive sign in their garden. A few streets down four times as many people did put up the massive signs. The only difference was that ten days earlier those residents had been asked to place a small card in their window. They were now invested and accepted the bigger request.
You can see how this could be applied fairly easily to SEO requests. Ask for smaller things before you jump in with bigger. This works the other way round if you want to get the ball rolling on some tasks. Ask for the big and then smaller after.
Liking – people say yes to people that they like. Fairly self explanatory that one.
Consensus – people think they think for themselves but they don’t. They follow the group’s consensus.
It’s why testimonials and case studies should be easy to see on your site.
It’s why we have our big client featured on the homepage – look we work with people you have heard of.
It’s why we add the sites we have been quoted on – it’s why we add the sites that have gotten links on.
It’s why we run a survey of our customers and shout about how 98% of our customers would recommends us to others.
Trello – we use this to break down seeming massive projects into smaller actionable tasks – almost like a marginal gains thing…
Creativity On Tap AKA Bono’s Hats and How To Have A Shit Load Of Ideas
As with other presentations the idea with this was to talk about something that anyone in the room can relate to.
In the earlier days of my SEO career I did some uncreative and pretty boring stuff. It was repeatable and worked.
Over time the industry has grown up and now we need to be a hell of a lot more creative. And it isn’t just SEO’s.
We all have to come up with new ideas. All the time. Every day. Creativity on demand is one of those things that the artists in you tell shouts is impossible. With some training and discipline you can actually make this a reality.
Throughout this presentation we looked at how approaching the problem from different angles can allow you to change how you think about things, When you change your perspective you can learn to have a steady stream of idea, to approach creative problems in a fresh perspective and not get locked in to writers block…or drawer’s block, or coder’s block.
Discipline and process don’t have to be creative blockers – they can set the ideas free.
Edward De Bono – is a Maltese physician, psychologist, author, inventor, and consultant psychologist. He coined the term “lateral thinking” and has written about a bajillion books. In the presentation I talked specifically about Six Thinking Hats.
White – information – concerning purely what information is available, what are the facts?
Red – emotions – intuitive or instinctive gut reactions or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification)
Black – logic applied to identifying reasons to be cautious and conservative. Practical, realistic.
Yellow – logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony. Sees the brighter, sunny side of situations.
Green – statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes. Thinks creatively, outside the box.
Blue – what is the subject? what are we thinking about? what is the goal? Can look at the big picture.
Using this as a starting point (never take anything too literally) you can assess ideas from many angles – and have better and more consistent ideas.
Woodpeckers – an internal Boom way of saying that you may have a great idea but you need something to help you carry that idea to a bigger audience.
How to Use Chunking to Generate Content Ideas – a great way to help you get from one place to another and have ideas that aren’t tied directly into your products or service – thus allowing you create content that has more potential for links.
Trello – used to collect everything and everything, label things and keep everything in in place.
Tecmark 635 – tecmark’s handy little tool for doing brainwriting online.
Convo – our chosen communication tool – chose because it allows image commentating for peer to peer proofing.
Coggle – for quick mind mapping.
Quality Streak. Creating Sites That Google Wants To Eat Up. Nom.
We are all connected in the work that we do. We can’t get away from it any more. For years people have been yelling at us, telling us to break down the silos. Well, the time is now.
If you want a site that performs well in Google then you better make sure that it performs well for the user.
How do we know this? Google have told us in the Quality Rater Guidelines. In fact they have been telling us for years. But we want the quick fix. The short cut.
This presentation was about how the shortcuts are disappearing. How we all need to work together and appreciate what the other departments do.
We can’t do this on our own because we can’t be experts in everything.
We also need to know that Chrome wasn’t built in a day and combine marginal gains work ethics with a deeper understanding of different disciplines.
Oh and there plenty of good tools to help you in your quest for website supremacy.
Pedro Dias and his unconfirmed updates tweet
URL Profiler – ugly as sin but as powerful as seven Geoff Capes. This little tool can be your saviour when you are evaluating your site, your competition sites or even the search results.
Here are a couple of the guides I referenced:
- How To Build a Content Inventory
- Building Competitor SEO Profiles
- How to Use the Duplicate Content Checker
Siteliner – probably the first free port of call for checking duplicate content on your site.
Cognitive SEO Keyword Tool – and handy little way of judging whether you can or should try and compete with other site for keywords. Then helps you do so.
SEMrush Topic Research Tool – recently launched. A nice way to gather information about how to write, what to write and how to group some of this together into categories. Ties into well to the rest of the tool so that once you have started saving ideas they are there for the future. There is nothing worse than doing things twice. Well, there is. But you know what I mean.
Uclassify – free text classification tool – works with URL Profiler.
Watson – gather information about entities, keywords, categories concepts and more. All for free.
Sistrix SERP Features – recently launched into their tool set a way to find and optimise for a range of SERP features – they are here to stay so get with it daddio! Also see SEMrush’s SERP features tool.
Sitebulb – pound for pound the best crawler out there. Bringing actionable tech SEO data to the masses. Bye bye, enterprise!
Hotjar – one the best ways to find out what is stopping people using your site effectively is to ask them yourself.
Botify – if you have a massive ecommerce site then the best way to keep track of everything is with an enterprise crawler. It doesn’t come cheap but Botify is the best of the lot.
ContentKing – if you are less tech savvy but put a lot of content on your site then the way to keep an eye on it all is with the Content King App – tracks changes to pages and some of the more obvious tech issues. What sets it apart from some of the other tool suites is its real-time approach to auditing, tracking changes and alerting.
Status Cake – the choice of Boom for monitoring uptime, SSL certificates and more.
So, there you have it! All of my presentations, all linked together. Found it useful? Bookmark it share it, pretty please. Got questions? Ask away! Fancy learning some more? We just announced the details of our latest meetup here.