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10 Useful Sites All Marketers Should Save to Their Favorites Bars

10 Useful Sites All Marketers Need in Their Favorites Bars

10 Useful Sites All Marketers Need in Their Favorites Bars

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If you’re a marketer who often finds yourself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of marketing resources available online, rest assured that you’re not alone. There are many useful sites and apps out there, but that doesn’t mean that all of them are right for you. Each marketing expert must determine which marketing resources and sites best suit his or her needs. I’ve been accumulating my own list of resources over the last little while, each of which occupies its own comfy spot in my Favorites bar. These useful sites might not all be right for you, but I’m sure that some of the items on my list will end up occupying your Favorites bar as well—that is, if they aren’t already there.

1. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a site used for scheduling and managing social media posts and metrics across different platforms. Hootsuite can be used for over 35 popular social networks, including popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Not only does Hootsuite allow you to schedule posts, it also gives you information about who is reading, liking, and sharing those posts. I could go on forever about all the advantages of using Hootsuite for keeping your social media strategy on track, or you could go ahead and try it yourself.

2. Google Analytics

Marketing experts worth their salt understand the importance of tracking and measuring their efforts. What’s the point of organizing and following through with campaigns if you don’t know how well—if at all—those campaigns are working to improve your conversion rates? Google Analytics is one of the best marketing resources for keeping track of your progress, and it will ultimately help you improve your marketing strategy. Like the other useful sites listed in this post, Google Analytics is free to use.

 3. URL Builder

Though URL Builder is part of Google Analytics, I have this site saved as its own page in my Favorites bar. I regularly depend on this useful site to create custom URLs that enable me to track the activity of my site’s visitors. While some of the other sites in my Favorites bar are reference sites with information to which I often refer, URL Builder has a practical application that I use often. Creating and distributing great content is all well and good, but if you can’t keep track of how that content is helping your site improve, your job isn’t being done in its entirety.

4. Canva

People who work in marketing must wear multiple figurative hats. We sometimes fill several roles, including writer, researcher, manager, and even graphic designer. This last point is where Canva comes in handy. One of the better-organized graphic design sites out there, this useful site allows marketers to create custom presentations, flyers, and other graphic images. Its fun, fresh, and simple modern design allows even amateur designers to create professional-looking pieces. With free access to sites like Canva, marketers for even the smallest companies no longer have any excuse for not creating beautiful, professional content.

5. StockSnap.io

In case you haven’t heard, corny stock photos are out. Gone are the days of businesspeople smiling back-to-back with their arms crossed across their chests. Instead, websites are now making use of real photographs of nature and of normal people in everyday situations. There are a few useful sites for finding copyright-free photographs, but StockSnap offers a particularly beautiful collection of images for you to use in your marketing efforts.

6. HubSpot’s Marketing Blog

Content marketing is a fairly new phenomenon. If you’re looking for a credible source of diverse information regarding the glamourous field of content marketing, look no further than the HubSpot Marketing Blog. It’s one of those marketing resources that I rely on much more than I sometimes think I should. Some of the posts cover general topics like the psychology of marketing, while others are detailed accounts of specific topics like buyer personas. Whatever you need to know about marketing, you can probably find it on HubSpot.

7. Pocket

Ever come across an article, video, or other piece of content that you thought would be great for your blog or social media, but that you didn’t have time to look at? With Pocket, you can save all such content in one place, then look at it later. You can download Pocket on your phone, tablet, or computer, and once you’ve saved something to Pocket, you don’t need Internet access to look at that content again. Pocket is a great app for keeping track of useful sites and marketing resources, and it can help you stay organized.

8. Scoop.it

This content curation site is useful not just for distributing your own content, but for finding other great marketing resources and useful content to share with your followers. Scoop.it users add their own content to the site, along with a description, allowing other people to view that content according to topic. It’s basically just one big platform for sharing things, and—as we all know—sharing is caring. Especially in the world of marketing.

9. Piktochart

If you think infographics are super cool, but you haven’t the foggiest idea how to create one of your own, have no fear—Piktochart is here. This site allows you to make professional infographics quickly and easily. Infographics can be great forms of visually interesting content; if you don’t have any for your site yet, I recommend that you check out this cool marketing resource. Did I mention that it’s free?

10. Google Drive

While not strictly a marketing resource, Google Drive can be a content marketing team’s best friend. If you’re working with a team of people, this large online storage space can help you share files and collaborate without having to deal with the hassle of over-sized email attachments. Google Drive also allows you to work on the same content from different computers, tablets, and even smartphones. If you want to have access to your work wherever you go, or if you’d like other people to have access to it, Google Drive might be the site for you.

Conclusion

The age of content marketing is here, and with it, an abundance of resources for marketers like you and me. If you make use of some of the resources above, you’ll surely have an easier time navigating the competitive and complex world of content marketing. You might even have a bit of fun along the way.

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Writing Cats and Dogs: Which Blog Style Should You Adopt?

Which Blog Style Should You Adopt? I couldn’t possibly begin to tell you why a raven is like a writing desk, but I can tell you how a pet is like a blog post. As you’re probably aware, there are different types of blog posts, just as there are different types of pets. One easy way to break down blog styles, particularly if you’re as great a fan of four-legged companions as I am, is to think of the different types of blog posts in terms of two groups: the Dog and the Cat.

No, I’m not saying that some blog posts rule while others drool. And no, your blog posts aren’t going to drink from your toilet or shred your curtains. The analogy is a bit subtler than that, though I think we can agree that blog posts would be much more exciting—although also more destructive—if they did get into such shenanigans, no?

The “Dog” Post

The first type of blog post is the Dog. Much like my favorite type of furry friend, this blog style tends to have a short attention span. Most dogs are content to chase a ball, but only until they spot a squirrel. Likewise, a Dog-type blog post only addresses one topic, and it only does so long enough to cover the basic information about that topic. Just as your dog must investigate every smell in the backyard, the readers of your Dog-type blog post have other posts to . . . smell. Don’t try to limit their noses to just your post. Instead of sticking around, they’ll probably just get distracted and—SQUIRREL!

Dog PostShort-form content is best for Dog posts. This blog style also lends itself to fun topics, like this one. Dogs enjoy playing and generally having a good time; similarly, you should use Dog posts to focus more on enjoyment than on information. Just as certain dog breeds are more suited to some people than to others, different types of Dog posts will be enjoyed and shared more by some readers than by others. This means you need to create lots of different types of blog posts to appeal to different kinds of readers. Think of each type of Dog post as a different breed of dog, if you will.

One of the great benefits of the Dog post is that this blog style encourages social sharing. Dogs make great companions to almost all people, and Dog-type posts tend to get along with a wide variety of people as well. In summary, Dog posts are fun, easy to read, and highly shareable.

The “Cat” Post

My dog has one solution to most of life’s mysteries: sniff it, lick it, and hope for the best. My cat, on the other hand, is a much more pensive creature. While my dog is happy to abandon any problem that cannot be solved with his mouth, my cat investigates each new scenario she encounters until she comes up with what she deems a reasonable solution (or until she gets scared and runs away—whichever happens first, really).

Cat PostIn terms of types of blog posts, the Cat-style post tends to be longer, more focused, and more targeted (here’s an example). This blog style lends itself to long-form content, allowing the reader to learn lots of specific information about a given topic. Each Cat-style post should be targeted to one specific group of readers. While dogs get the happy title of “man’s best friend,” cats aren’t always so universally loved. However, those who do have cats love them a lot. So each Cat-style post should be tailored to the type of person who needs the information that post has to offer rather than be written for everyone.

Ever asked someone to watch your cat while you were away? If your cat is anything like mine, it probably hid every time that person entered the room. It may have even refused to eat until it felt safe enough to come out of hiding. Like real cats, Cat-style blog posts are not always shareable. Sure, your cat may accept an elite group of people into its life, but for the most part, that feline is not willing to spend time with strangers. While Cat-style blog posts aren’t necessarily as shareable as their Dog-style counterparts, they provide great benefits for the people who do choose to read them. After all, cats make great pets, too!

Which Type of Blog Style Should You Use?

I know there’s an epic battle between “dog people” and “cat people.” Some may argue that you can only have one or the other, but when it comes to types of blog posts, you definitely need to take advantage of the benefits of both Dog posts and Cat posts. One works to attract and entertain people, while the other works to target more specific groups with the information they need to make educated business and consumer decisions. And, as with real dogs and cats, why would you choose only one when you can have the best of both worlds?

Image sources: Websubstance/BigStockPhoto.com, snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com/Pexels.com, Thomas Jarrand/Stocksnap.io

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When Should You Listen to Music at Work?

Music at work

Everything You Need to Know about Music and Productivity

When Should You Listen to Music at WorkLots of workers rely on music to get through the workday. Whether they’re headbanging to Metallica, grooving along to Arcade Fire, or report writing to the Requiem for a Dream soundtrack, these employees insist that listening to music can increase their productivity. How much truth is there to this claim? Are employees simply using their headphones to escape boredom, or are music and productivity really linked?

Research seems to indicate that listening to music in the workplace has a positive effect on employee productivity because it alleviates boredom—more specifically, music makes people more productive because it makes them happier. Let’s look at some of the research on music and productivity to see how you can best use music to get through your workday.

Why Should You Listen to Music at Work?

Multiple research studies indicate that listening to music positively affects productivity in the workplace. A 2005 study by Teresa Lesiuk showed that computer programmers who listened to music produced better work in a shorter period of time than their coworkers who did not listen to music. The music helped the programmers pace themselves while completing tasks.

This positive effect of music on employee productivity is great news for music-loving workers everywhere. Still, some employers may have their doubts. An enjoyable activity that magically makes employees more productive? For some employers, this seems a bit too good to be true. So, what is it that creates this miraculous link between music and productivity?

A Happy Worker is a Productive Worker

No, there isn’t a “productivity” section of your brain that kicks into high gear when you’re exposed to music. There also isn’t a certain song or music genre that will have you working at five times your normal speed. The principle behind music and productivity is a little less pseudoscientific and a whole lot simpler than this. The simple truth is that music improves employee productivity because music makes people happy.

The field of research pertaining to music and neuroscience is vast and complicated, but when it comes to music and emotion, one central idea is almost universally accepted: music elicits an emotional response in the listener. Even our negative emotions can be experienced in a positive way using music, according to Apter (2001), who states that even those who use music to experience unpleasant emotions do so with the underlying intention of “enjoying” their difficult emotions (as cited in Lesiuk, 2005). Just like watching sad movies can help us process our feelings when we’re feeling down, listening to music that makes us sad can actually work to make us happy in the long run. (Ah, the magic of art!)

Not surprisingly, several studies have found that music improves our moods. People perform higher on measures of emotions after listening to music. During Lesiuk’s 2005 study, for instance, the programmers’ positive moods increased during the weeks of the study when they listened to music, but decreased during the week of the study when the music was discontinued. Additionally, because music is also known to reduce anxiety, it may actually be able to help employees relax, focus, and complete stressful tasks in shorter amounts of time.

Music boosts happiness, which boosts productivity

Can an improved mood really have that big of an impact on employee productivity? Recent research suggests that it can. Of course, music isn’t the be-all and end-all of workplace happiness; bigger, more encompassing issues like personal fulfillment, work–life balance, and a sense of accomplishment also contribute greatly to happiness in the workplace. Still, even the relatively small mood improvements that occur when people listen to music can increase workplace productivity.

Remember: Everyone Is Different

So, music has a positive effect on mood, and elevated mood has a positive effect on employee productivity. Does this mean you should exchange full-time silence for full-time music? Not necessarily. For one thing, according to Furnham and Strbac (2002), certain tasks require more concentration than others; depending on the task you’re working on, music may be too distracting (especially if you’re not used to listening at work). Individual differences should also be taken into account when deciding how often you should listen to music at work, if at all.

Researchers have looked at differences between introverts and extroverts in terms of music’s effects on mood and productivity. The results have not been entirely conclusive, but some of the studies lean toward the assertion that introverts have a harder time listening to music and working than extroverts. (This may have less to do with the music and more to do with the complexity of the task.) Doyle and Furhnam (2012) found that “creative” individuals are less likely to be distracted by music than “non-creative” individuals, but their study does not address whether introverts or extroverts are more likely to be categorized as “creative.” Nor does it address how this might conflict with the results of other studies on the topic.

Correlation versus causationAs Lesiuk (2005) points out, the correlation between music and mood is still somewhat fuzzy. Though her study gave some pretty solid support for music being the cause of improved mood, other research hasn’t been so straightforward. Lots of studies have found that people with more positive outlooks tend to listen to more music at work; however, if you’ve ever taken a social studies or science course, you know that this assertion falls into the dangerous “correlation versus causation” predicament. In this case, it’s possible that the music does not cause positive mood, but that people who are generally happy to begin with tend to listen to music more than those who are not.

As you can see, there is still much to learn about music and productivity. If there is one lesson to be taken from all these different research studies and perspectives, it is this: do what is best for you. One thing that researchers seem to agree on is that, for individuals who do enjoy music while working, the type, duration, and genre of music don’t seem to matter. Individual music preferences are the most important indicators for music’s effect on productivity (Lesiuk, 2005). It doesn’t matter whether you want to listen to classical music, rock, rap, or indie pop—as long as you’re listening to music you enjoy, you’ll be more likely to succeed. You should also keep in mind that familiar music tends to be less distracting than music you’ve never heard before. You may even decide that any music at all is too distracting when you’re at work, and that’s fine too. Everyone is different; just focus on finding what works best for you.

Conclusion

Employee satisfaction is key to employee productivity—and what makes people happier than music? The next time you’re debating the use of headphones in your workplace, whether as an employee or as an employer, take this research into consideration. Happier employees mean better quality work for the company, and more of it—and that, my friends, is what we call music to everybody’s ears.

Image source: Daria Nepriakhina/Stocksnap.io

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10 Ways to Alienate Your Blog Audience

10 Ways to Alienate Your Blog AudienceThere’s a lot of great information out there about how to engage your audience. I’m sure you’ve read all the guides on how to avoid common blogging mistakes, but those guides have one big problem in common: they all assume that you want to avoid those blogging mistakes. All these experts think you and everyone else out there just wants to engage your audience, but I know better. I know that you would much rather alienate the heck out of your audience than engage them with your writing, which is why I’ve compiled a list of the 10 best ways to do just that.

1. Be a know-it-all.

You’re not writing about your topic because you’re a novice in the field; you’re writing because you’re knowledgeable about your subject, and as such, you have every right to tell your audience everything they need to know. They might not know they need to know, but you know they need to know, you know? Some may say that this type of alienation is bad, but I say there’s no better way to engage your audience than to cram information they don’t understand (or care about) down their throats.

2. Be better than casual English.

And by that I mean be as formal in tone as you can possibly be. They say that using the wrong tone is one of the most common blogging mistakes out there, but I say that “wrong tone” is subjective. Ideally, you should use a document that’s at least 100 years old for your tone guidelines. People will love it. You’ll sound super smart and definitely not like you think you’re better than everyone else—including, you know, your readers, who will totally love feeling left out of the language loop.

3. Don’t distract them with pictures.

Why on earth would anyone want to look at images when they have all your wonderful, exceedingly thorough, and painfully pompous—um, I mean, formal—prose to get through? Sure, there may be tons of evidence out there about how much images can do to help you engage your audience. But that’s not what you’re going for; you’re going for complete and total alienation. With no images for your readers to look at, you’ll be well on your way to achieving that goal.

4. Talk about yourself. Really, who cares about anyone else anyway?

This is your blog. This means that it is totally acceptable to make it about you and only you. I mean, why would anyone even be bothering to read something you have written if they weren’t interested in hearing about every single occurrence of your everyday life? Being a complete narcissist is absolutely the best way to engage your audience, especially if you’re the only member.

5. Put other people down.

I think we’ve already established that when it comes to blogging, you clearly know better than your readers. And you know who else you probably know better than? Everyone else. You obviously don’t conform to common wisdom regarding blogging mistakes, and because you’re not all that interested in learning how to engage your audience, I think it’s fair to say that you can totally get away with being a big virtual bully.

6. Ignore your followers.

One way to engage your audience is to keep the lines of communication open. Allow commenting on your blog, and be sure to respond to all constructive feedback—both positive and negative—and suggestions. You can also pay attention to what people are saying about you on social media and respond accordingly. That is, those are the rules if you want to engage your audience. Because your blog aims to alienate your audience, you want to be sure to ignore any and all feedback. Ain’t nobody got time for responding to feedback anyway.

7. Share your broad spectrum of knowledge.

Share your broad spectrum of knowledgeIf you want to engage your audience, you might consider focusing on one very specific topic for each blog post. However, seeing as you’re looking to alienate your blog audience, I suggest a different route: tell your readers everything you know about anything related to your topic. Then tell them everything you know that’s even vaguely related to your topic. Heck, just tell them everything you know about everything.

8. Rely on keywords like you rely on oxygen.

There’s nothing that can alienate a reader quicker than a post that’s jam-packed with keywords. As you’re not looking to engage your audience, be sure to use keywords more liberally than McDonald’s uses salt. While your readers are washing down your blog post with a large Coke, you can take the time to watch your SEO not improve at all, thanks to Google’s latest algorithm updates. Better to have no winners than for everyone to be a winner. Am I right?

9. Write for everyone.

You don’t want to discriminate in your quest for alienation; you want to alienate everyone equally. That’s why you should write your blog posts on the principle that everyone and their grandma is going to be interested in reading them. Be formal for the stuffier folk, write more casually for the younger readers, and throw in lots of references that only your hipster fan base will understand. Before you know it, you’ll have quickly and easily alienated most of your readers!

10. Don’t proofread.

A well-written, thoroughly proofread post is one of those blogging mistakes that you can’t afford to make when you’re trying to alienate your audience. Don’t waste your time by hiring an editor or proofreader for your work. Just write, publish, and watch as your readers all run away in displeasure. It feels good to be alone, doesn’t it?

An Alternative Approach

If you’ve changed your mind and decided that you’d like to avoid blogging mistakes and engage your audience in the future, you might want to consider checking out some of the other advice Inklyo has to offer. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with all the latest in content writing, including advice for keeping your blog active and up to date.

Image sources: wgbieber/Pixabay.com, robeo/BigStockPhoto.com