The Biggest Social Media Science Study: What 4.8 Million Tweets Say About the Best Time to Tweet

Imagine removing all guesswork when you schedule your tweets, knowing the times that work for maximum clicks and maximum engagement.

As someone who shares frequently to social media, this info would be fantastic to have! We’re always eager to dig up new research into social media best practices—things like length and frequency and timing.

The timing element, in particular, feels like one where we’d love to dig deeper. And we just so happen to have a host of data on this from the 2 million users who have signed up for Buffer!

With a big hand from our data team, we analyzed over 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles, pulling the stats on how clicks and engagement and timing occur throughout the day and in different time zones. We’d love to share with you what we found!

best time for twitter

The best time to tweet: Our 4.8 million-tweet research study

Our key learnings

Wow, we learned so much looking at the awesome stats from those who use Buffer! Here were some of the takeaways we came up with. I’d love to hear what catches your eye, too!

  • Early mornings are the best time to tweet in order to get clicks.
  • Evenings and late at night are the best time, on average, for total engagement with your tweets
  • In some cases, the most popular times to post are opposite of the best times to post.
  • Popular times and best times to tweet differ across time zones.

The most popular time to tweet:

Noon to 1:00 p.m.

We’ve taken the data from all tweets sent through Buffer to find the most popular times for posting to Twitter. Looking at all tweets sent across all major time zones, here is an overview of the most popular times to tweet.

  • Noon to 1:00 p.m. local time, on average for each time zone, is the most popular time to tweet
  • The highest volume of tweets occurs between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., peaking between noon and 1:00 p.m.
  • The fewest tweets are sent between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m.

Here’s the chart for the most popular times worldwide, taken from an average of 10 major time zones (the times represent local time).

Most Popular Time to Tweet Worldwide

Here is the graph for the most popular times to tweet in each of the four major U.S. time zones. 

Buffer social media science study - US popular times to tweet

(We normalized the data to account for daylight’s savings in the U.S. as well.)

Here are the charts for the major time zones in Europe and Africa.

Most Popular Time to Tweet Europe

(Note: The London (GMT) time zone used to be the default time zone for new Buffer users, so our data for GMT is not as clean as we would like it to be. We’ve omitted any takeaways for GMT from the research results here.)

Here are the charts for the major time zones in Asia and Australia.

Most Popular Time to Tweet Australia Asia

It’s interesting to see how the most popular time to tweet varies across the time zones. We’ve shared Buffer’s 10 most popular time zones in the charts above. Here’s a list of each most popular hour for the 10 major time zones.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 9:00 a.m.
  • Denver (Mountain Time): noon
  • Chicago (Central Time): noon
  • New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): noon
  • Madrid, Rome, Paris, etc. (Central European): 4:00 p.m.
  • Cape Town, Cairo, Helsinki, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m.
  • Sydney (Australian Eastern): 10:00 p.m.
  • Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 8:00 a.m.
  • Tokyo (Japan Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon

For any clarification on this or the other research throughout this article, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll get right back to you.

Takeaways & thoughts:

  • The most popular time to post could be due to a number of factors: This is when most people have access to Twitter (perhaps at a work computer), this is when online audiences are most likely to be connected (see Burrito Principle), etc.
  • Should you post during the most popular times? That’s one possibility. Also, you may find success posting at non-peak times, when the volume of tweets is lower.
  • If you have a large international audience on Twitter, you may wish to locate the particular part of the world where they’re from, and adjust your schedule accordingly. You can find the times when your audience may be online with tools like Followerwonk and Crowdfire.

The best times to tweet to get more clicks

We were excited to dig into the specific metrics for each of these tweets, too, in hopes of coming up with some recommendations and best practices to test out for your Twitter strategy.

First up, the best time to tweet for clicks.

Looking at the data, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get more clicks:

  • Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most clicks on average
  • The highest number of clicks per tweet occurs between 2:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.
  • The fewest clicks per tweet happen in the morning (when tweet volume is particularly high), between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m..

The data in the below chart is the worldwide average, calculated for the local time in each time zone. So the peak at the 2:00 a.m. hour would hold true as the overall top time no matter which time zone you’re in—2:00 a.m. in Los Angeles, New York, Cape Town, Hong Kong, etc.Best Times to Tweet for Clicks Worldwide

For the specifics on each of the best time to tweet for clicks in each of the major time zones in Buffer, here’s a breakdown.

  • Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. (Pacific Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • Denver (Mountain Time): 7:00 p.m.
  • Chicago (Central Time): 2:00 a.m.
  • New York, Boston, Atlanta, Miami, etc. (Eastern Time): 11:00 p.m.
  • Madrid, Rome, Paris, Berlin, etc. (Central European): 2:00 a.m.
  • Cape Town, Cairo, Istanbul, etc. (Eastern European): 8:00 p.m.
  • Sydney (Australian Eastern): 2:00 a.m.
  • Hong Kong (Hong Kong Time): 5:00 a.m.
  • Shanghai, Taipei, etc. (China Time): noon
  • Tokyo (Japan Time): 8:00 a.m.

Best Times to Tweet for Clicks - by time zone

Takeaways & thoughts:

  • Clicks was far and away the largest engagement metric that we tracked in this study (compared to retweets, replies, and favorites).
  • Some of the recommended best times for individual time zones show that non-peak hours are the top time to tweet for clicks. This data may reflect some particularly high-achieving posts—some outliers—that bring up the average when the volume of tweets is lowest. Still, it’d be a great one to test for your profile to see what results you get.
  • One neat thing to keep in mind is that a non-peak hour in, say, Los Angeles may correspond to a peak hour in London or Paris. The worldwide audience is definitely one to consider when finding the best time to tweet.

The best times for overall engagement with your tweet

We define engagement as clicks plus retweets, favorites, and replies. When looking at all these interactions together, we found the following trends for maximizing your chance to get the most engagement on your tweets:

  • Tweets sent between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. earn the most total engagement on average
  • The highest amount of engagement per tweet occurs between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m.
  • The smallest amount of engagement happens during traditional work hours, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Best Times to Tweet for Engagement

Takeaways & thoughts:

  • The best times to tweet for engagement are quite the inverse of the most popular times to tweet. (The late-night infomercial effect—tweet when fewer people are tweeting—seems to be the case here.)

The best times for retweets and favorites on your tweets

Adding together two of the most common engagement metrics, we found some interesting trends for maximizing the retweets and favorites on your tweets, especially for those with a U.S. audience.

Looking at 1.1 million tweets from U.S. Buffer users from January through March 2015, here were some of the notable takeaways we found:

  • Tweets sent at the 9:00 p.m. hour in the U.S. earn the most retweets and favorites on average
  • The highest number of retweets and favorites occurs between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., peaking between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.
  • The lowest retweet-favorite engagement happens at 3:00 a.m.

(Interesting to note, the takeaways from this data compared to the worldwide engagement data differ slightly for a couple reasons: 1) clicks represent a huge portion of overall engagement, and 2) the worldwide vs. US datasets vary.)

Best Times to Tweet for Engagement USA

We’d love to make it easy for you to share these results with your audience, your friends, your clients—anyone you think might benefit from them.

>> Download every chart from this post (.zip) <<

The methodology for our research

We studied all tweets ever sent through Buffer—4.8 million tweets since October 2010!

Based on this sample set, we looked at the number of clicks per tweet, favorites per tweet, retweets per tweet, and replies per tweet, in accordance with the time of day that the tweet was posted to Twitter.

Further, we segmented the results according to time zones, based on the assumption that the learnings might be more actionable if they could be specific to exactly where you live and work.

We had an interesting opportunity to consider whether median or average would be the better metric to use for our insights. It turns out that so many tweets in the dataset receive minimal engagement that the median was often zero. For this reason, we chose to display the average.

Over to you: What are your takeaways?

We’re so grateful for the chance to dig into the stats from the many tweets that people choose to share with Buffer. The data is super insightful, both for sharing with others and for impacting our own social media marketing plans!

What did you notice from the stats here?

Did any of the results surprise you or get you thinking about your plans in a different way?

I’d love to hear your take on this! Feel free to share any thoughts at all in the comments!

Image sources: IconFinder, Blurgrounds, Death to the Stock Photo, UnSplash

The post The Biggest Social Media Science Study: What 4.8 Million Tweets Say About the Best Time to Tweet appeared first on Social.

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How to Rid Your Website of Six Common Google Analytics Headaches

Posted by amandaecking

I’ve been in and out of Google Analytics (GA) for the past five or so years agency-side. I’ve seen three different code libraries, dozens of new different features and reports roll out, IP addresses stop being reported, and keywords not-so-subtly phased out of the free platform.

Analytics has been a focus of mine for the past year or so—mainly, making sure clients get their data right. Right now, our new focus is closed loop tracking, but that’s a topic for another day. If you’re using Google Analytics, and only Google Analytics for the majority of your website stats, or it’s your primary vehicle for analysis, you need to make sure it’s accurate.

Not having data pulling in or reporting properly is like building a house on a shaky foundation: It doesn’t end well. Usually there are tears.

For some reason, a lot of people, including many of my clients, assume everything is tracking properly in Google Analytics… because Google. But it’s not Google who sets up your analytics. People do that. And people are prone to make mistakes.

I’m going to go through six scenarios where issues are commonly encountered with Google Analytics.

I’ll outline the remedy for each issue, and in the process, show you how to move forward with a diagnosis or resolution.

1. Self-referrals

This is probably one of the areas we’re all familiar with. If you’re seeing a lot of traffic from your own domain, there’s likely a problem somewhere—or you need to extend the default session length in Google Analytics. (For example, if you have a lot of long videos or music clips and don’t use event tracking; a website like TEDx or SoundCloud would be a good equivalent.)

Typically one of the first things I’ll do to help diagnose the problem is include an advanced filter to show the full referrer string. You do this by creating a filter, as shown below:

Filter Type: Custom filter > Advanced
Field A: Hostname
Extract A: (.*)
Field B: Request URI
Extract B: (.*)
Output To: Request URI
Constructor: $A1$B1

You’ll then start seeing the subdomains pulling in. Experience has shown me that if you have a separate subdomain hosted in another location (say, if you work with a separate company and they host and run your mobile site or your shopping cart), it gets treated by Google Analytics as a separate domain. Thus, you ‘ll need to implement cross domain tracking. This way, you can narrow down whether or not it’s one particular subdomain that’s creating the self-referrals.

In this example below, we can see all the revenue is being reported to the booking engine (which ended up being cross domain issues) and their own site is the fourth largest traffic source:

self-referrals-2.png

I’ll also a good idea to check the browser and device reports to start narrowing down whether the issue is specific to a particular element. If it’s not, keep digging. Look at pages pulling the self-referrals and go through the code with a fine-tooth comb, drilling down as much as you can.

2. Unusually low bounce rate

If you have a crazy-low bounce rate, it could be too good to be true. Unfortunately. An unusually low bounce rate could (and probably does) mean that at least on some pages of your website have the same Google Analytics tracking code installed twice.

Take a look at your source code, or use Google Tag Assistant (though it does have known bugs) to see if you’ve got GA tracking code installed twice.

While I tell clients having Google Analytics installed on the same page can lead to double the pageviews, I’ve not actually encountered that—I usually just say it to scare them into removing the duplicate implementation more quickly. Don’t tell on me.

3. Iframes anywhere

I’ve heard directly from Google engineers and Google Analytics evangelists that Google Analytics does not play well with iframes, and that it will never will play nice with this dinosaur technology.

If you track the iframe, you inflate your pageviews, plus you still aren’t tracking everything with 100% clarity.

If you don’t track across iframes, you lose the source/medium attribution and everything becomes a self-referral.

Damned if you do; damned if you don’t.

My advice: Stop using iframes. They’re Netscape-era technology anyway, with rainbow marquees and Comic Sans on top. Interestingly, and unfortunately, a number of booking engines (for hotels) and third-party carts (for ecommerce) still use iframes.

If you have any clients in those verticals, or if you’re in the vertical yourself, check with your provider to see if they use iframes. Or you can check for yourself, by right-clicking as close as you can to the actual booking element:

iframe-booking.png

There is no neat and tidy way to address iframes with Google Analytics, and usually iframes are not the only complicated element of setup you’ll encounter. I spent eight months dealing with a website on a subfolder, which used iframes and had a cross domain booking system, and the best visibility I was able to get was about 80% on a good day.

Typically, I’d approach diagnosing iframes (if, for some reason, I had absolutely no access to viewing a website or talking to the techs) similarly to diagnosing self-referrals, as self-referrals are one of the biggest symptoms of iframe use.

4. Massive traffic jumps

Massive jumps in traffic don’t typically just happen. (Unless, maybe, you’re Geraldine.) There’s always an explanation—a new campaign launched, you just turned on paid ads for the first time, you’re using content amplification platforms, you’re getting a ton of referrals from that recent press in The New York Times. And if you think it just happened, it’s probably a technical glitch.

I’ve seen everything from inflated pageviews result from including tracking on iframes and unnecessary implementation of virtual pageviews, to not realizing the tracking code was installed on other microsites for the same property. Oops.

Usually I’ve seen this happen when the tracking code was somewhere it shouldn’t be, so if you’re investigating a situation of this nature, first confirm the Google Analytics code is only in the places it needs to be.Tools like Google Tag Assistant and Screaming Frog can be your BFFs in helping you figure this out.

Also, I suggest bribing the IT department with sugar (or booze) to see if they’ve changed anything lately.

5. Cross-domain tracking

I wish cross-domain tracking with Google Analytics out of the box didn’t require any additional setup. But it does.

If you don’t have it set up properly, things break down quickly, and can be quite difficult to untangle.

The older the GA library you’re using, the harder it is. The easiest setup, by far, is Google Tag Manager with Universal Analytics. Hard-coded universal analytics is a bit more difficult because you have to implement autoLink manually and decorate forms, if you’re using them (and you probably are). Beyond that, rather than try and deal with it, I say update your Google Analytics code. Then we can talk.

Where I’ve seen the most murkiness with tracking is when parts of cross domain tracking are implemented, but not all. For some reason, if allowLinker isn’t included, or you forget to decorate all the forms, the cookies aren’t passed between domains.

The absolute first place I would start with this would be confirming the cookies are all passing properly at all the right points, forms, links, and smoke signals. I’ll usually use a combination of the Real Time report in Google Analytics, Google Tag Assistant, and GA debug to start testing this. Any debug tool you use will mean you’re playing in the console, so get friendly with it.

6. Internal use of UTM strings

I’ve saved the best for last. Internal use of campaign tagging. We may think, oh, I use Google to tag my campaigns externally, and we’ve got this new promotion on site which we’re using a banner ad for. That’s a campaign. Why don’t I tag it with a UTM string?

Step away from the keyboard now. Please.

When you tag internal links with UTM strings, you override the original source/medium. So that visitor who came in through your paid ad and then who clicks on the campaign banner has now been manually tagged. You lose the ability to track that they came through on the ad the moment they click on the tagged internal link. Their source and medium is now your internal campaign, not that paid ad you’re spending gobs of money on and have to justify to your manager. See the problem?

I’ve seen at least three pretty spectacular instances of this in the past year, and a number of smaller instances of it. Annie Cushing also talks about the evils of internal UTM tags and the odd prevalence of it. (Oh, and if you haven’t explored her blog, and the amazing spreadsheets she shares, please do.)

One clothing company I worked with tagged all of their homepage offers with UTM strings, which resulted in the loss of visibility for one-third of their audience: One million visits over the course of a year, and $2.1 million in lost revenue.

Let me say that again. One million visits, and $2.1 million. That couldn’t be attributed to an external source/campaign/spend.

Another client I audited included campaign tagging on nearly every navigational element on their website. It still gives me nightmares.

If you want to see if you have any internal UTM strings, head straight to the Campaigns report in Acquisition in Google Analytics, and look for anything like “home” or “navigation” or any language you may use internally to refer to your website structure.

And if you want to see how users are moving through your website, go to the Flow reports. Or if you really, really, really want to know how many people click on that sidebar link, use event tracking. But please, for the love of all things holy (and to keep us analytics lovers from throwing our computers across the room), stop using UTM tagging on your internal links.

Now breathe and smile

Odds are, your Google Analytics setup is fine. If you are seeing any of these issues, though, you have somewhere to start in diagnosing and addressing the data.

We’ve looked at six of the most common points of friction I’ve encountered with Google Analytics and how to start investigating them: self-referrals, bounce rate, iframes, traffic jumps, cross domain tracking and internal campaign tagging.

What common data integrity issues have you encountered with Google Analytics? What are your favorite tools to investigate?

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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What to See, Do, and More at MozCon 2015 in Seattle

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

One of our favorite things about MozCon is introducing all of you to Seattle. We love our city, and besides three days of marketing learning, we also host three night events and facilitate other fun activities. We are currently 92% sold out with around 100 tickets left, so if you haven’t already:

Buy your ticket now!

Check out the full schedule if you’re interested in knowing more about the MozCon sessions.


Birds-of-a-feather tables at lunch

After many requests for more community connecting, this year, we’re launching birds-of-a-feather tables during each lunch. There will be eight labeled tables with different topics each day and a different facilitator each day. (There are also a ton of unlabeled tables for random meeting and gatherings.) Sit down and join a conversation around a professional interest.

Roger and friends at MozCon

Table schedule

Monday tables:

  • Real Estate Marketers, hosted by Brittanie Flegle from Realty Austin
  • Manufacturing, hosted by Crystal Hunt from WTB, Inc.
  • Content Strategy, hosted by Ronell Smith from RS Consulting
  • Women in Digital Marketing, hosted by Susan Wiker from Fodor’s Travel
  • In-house Marketers, hosted by Andy Odom from Santander Consumer USA Inc.
  • Local SEO, hosted by David Mihm from Moz
  • Inbound Marketing, hosted by Eric Hess from REI
  • SEO Executives, hosted by Benjamin Seror from SimilarWeb

Tuesday tables:

Wednesday tables:

Don’t worry, with all of us in the same room, doing the same things for three days, you’ll never miss a lunch or birds-of-a-feather opportunity!


Our official MozCon evening events

#MozCrawl: Monday night

Join us and our partners for a tour of the neighborhood bars in Belltown. This is our second official MozCrawl, and we’re delighted to show off yet another part of Seattle. Each bar will feature a unique MozCon button. Collect all six and be entered in a drawing for a golden Roger. The crawl runs from 7-10pm. Make sure to bring your ID, US driver’s license or passport.

(Standard disclaimer: Roger is golden, not made of gold.)

Locations

Buckley’s, 2331 2nd Ave, hosted by Moz
Clever Bottle, 2222 2nd Ave Ste.100, hosted by wordstream
Rabbit Hole, 2222 2nd Ave, hosted by

unbounce
Lava Lounge, 2226 2nd Ave, hosted by whitespark
Wakefield Bar, 2137 2nd Ave, hosted by Moz
The Whiskey Bar, 2122 2nd Ave, hosted by kissmetrics

MozCrawl map


MozCon Ignite: Tuesday night

You’ve long asked for a networking-focused event, and in a Mozzy spirit, we’re happy to bring our Tuesday night MozCon Ignite. Starts at 7pm with networking and appetizers with talks starting at 8pm.

Ignite talks are 5 minutes in length with auto-advancing slides. All these talks are passion topics—no marketing talks—so you can put your notebook down and relax. Get to know your fellow community members and their interests beyond our shared profession.

MozCon Ignite schedule:

7:00-8:00pm Networking
8:00-8:05pm Welcome to MozCon Ignite with Geraldine DeRuiter, aka the Everywhereist Geraldine DeRuiter
8:05-8:10pm Regales of an Accidental Nightcrawler Stunt Double with Jay Neill from Affiliate Resources, Inc.

Jay Neill is an online marketing consultant who helps businesses get started in the world of local SEO through education and servicing. In his spare time, Jay enjoys jumping on trampolines and playing with his vast collection of vintage Star Wars action figures.

Jay Neill
8:10-8:15pm Sled Dogs, Northern Lights, and Mushing Tails! with Anna Anderson from Art Unlimited

Anna Anderson is an avid dog lover who owns over 35 sled dogs in Northern MN. Growing up with sled dogs, she and her family now competitively race across North America: training, racing, and traveling for 2-3 months with 20 of her best canine friends across the country! Follow her on Twitter: @boldadgirl

Anna Anderson
8:15-8:20pm Performing a Canine C-Section with Marie Haynes from HIS Web Marketing

Dr. Marie Haynes is recognized as a leader when it comes to dealing with Google penalties and algorithm changes like Panda and Penguin. Prior to her career in SEO, she was a small animal veterinarian for 13 years. It is possible that her strong fear of birds is what launched her in to a new life of battling the Penguins at Google. Follow her on Twitter: @Marie_Haynes

Marie Haynes
8:20-8:25pm Bulltown Strutters: The Band That Married Its City with Mark Traphagen from StoneTemple Consulting

Mark Traphagen is Senior Director of Online Marketing for Stone Temple Consulting. When not disrupting things online, Mark disrupts the sleep of the good citizens of Durham, NC, by making as much noise as possible with the Bulltown Strutters, a New Orleans Second Line style parade band. Follow him on Twitter: @marktraphagen

Mark Traphagen
8:25-8:30pm Okay, I Have a Confession: I Was Homeschooled with Garrett Mehrguth from Directive Consulting

Garrett Mehrguth is digital marketing enthusiast and owner of Directive Consulting, which provides SEO, PPC, and Content for small to mid-market companies. When Garrett’s not in the office, you can catch him playing foosball, surfing, or playing soccer. Follow him on Twitter: @gmehrguth

Garrett Mehrguth
8:30-8:35pm Conquering the 100 Best Books of All Time with Kristen Craft from Wistia

Kristen Craft is Director of Business Development and loves connecting with Wistia’s partner community to spread the word about video marketing. In her spare time, she takes epically long walks, swims in ponds, and brews beer. Follow her on Twitter: @thecrafty

8:35-8:40pm Tales of Coffee from a Kitchen Window with Scott Callender from La Marzocco Home

Scott Callendar is the Director of the newly launched La Marzocco Home. He is the definition of a coffee geek and spends his time away from his job in coffee with his family and thinks more about coffee. Follow him on Twitter: @incognitocoffee

Scott Callender
8:40-8:45pm Go Frost Yourself: 7 Basic Frostings & Their Uses with Annette Promes from Moz

Annette Promes has spent the past two decades in and around Seattle working in various marketing roles. She is currently the CMO at Moz, where she and her teams handle everything that is “funnel-related,” such as driving traffic to Moz’s site, converting that traffic into product trials, and reducing customer churn. Annette really loves frosting. Follow her on Twitter: @ahpromes

Annette Promes
8:45-9:15pm Networking break
9:15-9:20pm A Creative Endeavor Inspires & Lengthens a Life with Ralph Legnini from DragonSearch

Ralph Legnini – Senior Creative Strategist at DragonSearch in NY – is an Aikido 5th Degree Black Belt Sensei, former Saturday Night Live music producer, President of the Board of Education in the 2nd largest school district in New York State, funky rock & roll guitar player, and has worked in the recording studio with music icons Mick Jagger, Madonna, David Bowie, Nile Rodgers, & Todd Rundgren. He used these unique combined skills to create a life sustaining environment for a talented 16-year-old boy with incurable cancer. Follow him on Twitter: @ruaralph2

Ralph Legnini
9:20-9:25pm Finding and Embracing Healthy Eating Habits with Carrie Hill from Ignitor Digital Marketing, LLC

Carrie Hill is the co-founder and technical SEO expert at Ignitor Digital. She loves cooking, eating, reading, and Eddie Vedder…not necessarily in that order. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieHill

Carrie Hill
9:25-9:30pm I Was Told There Would Be Hoverboards. with Dan Petrovic from DEJAN

Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is one of Australia’s best-known names in the field of search engine optimization. Dan is a web author, innovator, and a highly-regarded search industry event speaker. Follow him on Twitter: @dejanseo

Dan Petrovic
9:35-9:40pm The Day I Disremembered with Chris Hanson from 3GEngagement

Chris Hanson has been involved in digital marketing since 2006 and is currently Founder and CEO of 3GEngagement. After Hanson worked as a Park Ranger, lived without electricity, raced sled dogs, and lived in Alaska, he felt that digital marketing was the next obvious career move. Follow him on Twitter: @FollowUPsuccess

Chris Hanson
9:40-9:45pm What Did You Expect in an Opera, a Happy Ending? with Chrissi Reimer from Three Deep Marketing

A Green Bay native and Minneapolis transplant, Chrissi Reimer spends her days working as an SEO at Three Deep Marketing. Most nights, Chrissi can be found experimenting with different ways to prepare arugula, trying new brews, or taste-testing every ice cream option in the Twin Cities. Follow her on Twitter: @chrissireimer

Chrissi Reimer
9:45-9:50pm The Best Practices in Cooking Hot Dogs with Josh Couper from Rafflecopter

Josh Couper is the director of customer happiness at Rafflecopter and long time hot dog aficionado. Follow him on Twitter: @josh_couper

Josh Couper
9:50-9:55pm Raising My Parents with Jen Lopez from Moz

Jen Sable Lopez is the Director of Community at Moz. She is a renowned Community Strategist who started her marketing career as a technical SEO. Jen is a self-proclaimed geek and faux vegetarian, and she prides herself in having kicked colon cancer’s butt at the young age of 37. Follow her on Twitter: @jennita

Jen Lopez
9:55-10:00pm Stoned Nerd versus the Four-Legged Home Invaders with Ian Lurie from Portent, Inc.

Ian Lurie is founder and CEO of Portent, Inc., a search, social and content agency that helps clients become weird, useful, and significant. He’s also a renowned raccoon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter: @portentint

Ian Lurie

Garage Party: Wednesday night

There ain’t no party like a Moz party, and our annual bash at the Garage is always a blast. Have one last hurrah with us before heading home and back to work.

Garage Party

For those who’ve never been to the Garage, there’s something for everyone: bowling, pool, and karaoke. Plus, a ton of food and drinks—including our featured MozCow Mule Mocktail, as well as well liquor, beer, house wine, and of course, our friend H2O. So whether you’re singing your heart out, playing for the corner pocket, bowling a turkey, or just chatting with your new friends, we’ll see you there.


Coming in early? See and explore Seattle!

Seattle by CheWei Chang

MozCon-adjacent activities

The following events are MozCon-adjacent, meaning they aren’t hosted by Moz and attendees must arrange and pay for their adventures.

Alki Kayak Tours

Paddle around Elliott Bay! At 2:30pm Sunday, for $49/per person, you can head out on the water and make new MozCon friends. You can easily catch the water taxi at Pier 50 ($4.75 one-way) from Downtown to West Seattle. Alki tours is located right next to the West Seattle ferry terminal for your convenience.

Local Craft Tours

Take a distillery tour at 12pm Sunday and learn about Seattle’s unique craft culture. Conveniently, the tour leaves from the Grand Hyatt Hotel. You can call (206) 455-3740 to reserve your spot on the tour, which costs $87.50/per person.

Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels

Love baseball? Come see Seattle’s home team play. The Mariners game starts at 1:10pm, and you can see them take on the Angels for $17/per person on the View Level. You must purchase your ticket before 5pm July 10 in order to get the MozCon deal. Enter ‘MOZCON’ as your special offer code.


Citywide events


Mozzers recommend their favorite Seattle destinations!

Rachael KloekAgua Verde, recommended by Rachael Kloek

“Agua Verde serves great Mexican food in a beautiful lakefront setting. You can rent paddleboards and kayaks right under the restaurant to paddle your way around Lake Union.”

Chris LoweBallard brewery blocks, recommended by Chris Lowe

“A dozen really good breweries all within a few blocks of each other: Stoup, Reubens, Red Envelope, Populuxe, Peddler, Maritime, etc., etc. You can easily walk from one brewery to another. Bonus is that most of these breweries host food trucks on the weekends. The area is also just a few blocks from downtown Ballard and the Burke Gilman Trail.”

Renea NielsenBallard Locks, recommended by Renea Nielsen

“The Ballard Locks are a bit of a trek from downtown Seattle (~ 45 min. by bus), but they are a perfect Seattle maritime adventure. The Locks abut a beautiful park and show off Seattle’s maritime history. If you’re lucky, you may even find some sea lions playing in one of the closed Locks.”

Erica McGillivrayPike Place Market, recommended by Erica McGillivray

“May seen like a ‘touristy’ spot, but Pike Place Market actually thrives on local business. Every day, there’s a farmer’s market, flowers galore, and artisans on everything from cheese and spices to woodworking and jewelry. There are hidden shops (at least three bookstores) and a ton of great food.”

Rand FishkinElliot Bay Books, recommended by Rand Fishkin

“One of the best indie bookstores in the country, stocked with good stuff to buy and read, and there’s a lovely cafe, too.”

Nemecia KaloperFerry ride, recommended by Nemecia Kaloper

“Takes you to such cool places and allows you to see the city from different view and get a taste of our awesome islands! It requires usually at least 1/2 a day, but is well worth it to be able to hop over and have lunch somewhere other than the city. It’s easy to never take the trip, but well worth it if you do. I recommend Bainbridge in particular and Nola Cafe.”

Kevin LoeskenThe Fremont Troll, recommended by Kevin Loesken

“The Fremont Troll, and Fremont in general, perfectly sums up what’s great about Seattle. The troll itself is an amazing piece of art. It’s also near the Lenin Statue and close to a lot of interesting bars, restaurants, and shops.”

David LeeRodeo Donuts!, recommended by David Lee

“Best donuts ever. Even better than Voodoo in Portland, OR. This needs to be a 150 characters long so once again, best donuts ever. I really like the donuts here. Don’t go to Krispy Kreme or Top Pot.”

Abe SchmidtVivace: the Cafe Nico, recommended by Abe Schmidt

“The Cafe Nico best coffee drink in this city. Orange/nutmeg/ cinnamon paired with the greatest espresso pull in the country (only machine in the world capable of the ‘perfect’ espresso shot).”

Ben SimpsonStarbucks Roastery, recommended by Ben Simpson

“Just a few blocks from the convention center, the Starbucks Roastery is one of biggest new attractions in Seattle. Why? To start, walking it it feels like Willy Wonka had one to many espresso shots and got inspired. Starbucks pulled together its best baristas from around the country to put together some amazing craft coffee creations. And to top it all off, they’ve got a Serious Pie on location making all of their delicious food. If you do nothing else during your visit, the Starbucks Roastery is an absolute must!”


And Mozzer favorite restaurants and bars opened since last MozCon


Looking for more options?
Don’t miss our quintessential post from last year,
our mega post from 2013, Rand’s personal recommendations, and Jon Colman’s Seattle coffee guide.


Buy your ticket now!

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Why ccTLDs Should Not Be an Automatic Choice for International Websites

Posted by Liam_Curley

There are many articles on domain structure for international sites. Many, if not all, recommend the use of ccTLDs due to the geo signals they send to Google; but I’ve read very few articles that substantiate this type of claim with any research or evidence. Is this recommendation outdated? With every passing year, Google gets better at reading and setting geo signals. By introducing hreflang and improving Google Webmaster Tools (recently rebranded as Google Search Console) with regards to setting target countries, it’s so much easier to get geo signals right than it was a few years ago.

With the recent changes Google has been making, I am left questioning whether or not we really need ccTLDs to target other countries. Do they have a positive impact on rankings? If they don’t, why would you use them? If you can set geo signals via webmaster tools or hreflang tags, is it better to consolidate your link equity with one domain and separate everything with subfolders?

I wanted to look at the market data concerning ccTLDs and their performance on different international versions of Google. I wanted to know whether ccTLDs demonstrated any tendency of outranking sites with gTLDs (as defined here) that had a greater DA or PA. If ccTLDs did demonstrate this trait, then perhaps there is merit in selecting them over subfolder structure. If not, and the ranking of websites on SERPs shows the general trend of order by DA/PA, then surely there is no reason to structure an international website with a ccTLD and the best option is to consolidate all links on one site and geo target the subfolders. I understand that there is more to this decision if we take into account the user’s preference to interact with local domain websites. We’ll touch on that point later. For now, I just want to focus on how Google seems to treat ccTLDs.

The SERP Research

The hypothesis

ccTLDs don’t supersede PA as a ranking signal. I believed that if I gathered a decent sample size, the general trend would show that ccTLDs didn’t tend to outrank sites with a gTLD and higher PA.

Local link ratio doesn’t correlate with high rankings. Rand’s research suggests local links have a positive impact on a sites ranking on local search engines. Does the ratio of local links correlate with a higher ranking? If they do, then this could lead us to believe that a consolidation of local links on a local ccTLD would support successful international SEO. If there is no correlation, then this would further support that there is little ranking benefit with this regard to using a ccTLD, as we can receive local links to a gTLD.

A local IP address doesn’t improve rankings. There still seems to be some opinion in the community that hosting a site on a local IP address will help rankings on local versions of Google.

Methodology

I wanted to gather data for competitive terms from several competitive markets. The first task was determining which markets to select. I made a decision based on the markets that have the highest B2C spend per digital consumer. I initially picked out the top 10, then selected five from those based on which sites I was able to work with (linguistically). The markets selected were: U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and Italy.

Next, I selected the keyword categories that I would use to analyze SERPs. I picked out the sectors based on the biggest digital B2C market sectors in the U.S.. From the top 10, I selected five: clothes, toys and games, computer and consumer electronics, furniture and home furnishings, and auto parts.

Then, I decided to identify 10 keywords for each category in each market. Keywords were selected by inputting a broad keyword into AdWords for each category (say, “game”), filtering by search volume, and selecting the highest search entries that had an average AdWords suggested bid of higher than £0.05 which would provide terms that had high search volume and commercial relevance.

This was done for each category in each market.

I collated data from the top 10 pages ranking for each SERP, giving me a total of 2,500 web pages to analyze. Searches were conducted for each keyword on the local version of Google (e.g., google.it) using the SEO Global Chrome extension from RedFly Marketing, allowing me to see the search results for a local user.

Analysis of data

Once the keywords were selected for each market, I collected the following data from each SERP:

  • Ranking position
  • URL
  • Domain structure
  • Domain authority
  • Page authority
  • Page title
  • IP address location
  • Local link ratio

From this information, I would also collect the following on each web page entry on the SERP:

  • Is there an exact keyword match in the domain?
  • Is there a partial keyword match in the domain?
  • Is the exact keyword used in the URL?
  • Is a broad keyword used in the page title?
  • Is an exact keyword used in the page title?

Each entry was given a yes or no for the questions above, which would allow me to compare domain performances on a like for like basis with regards some of the basic on-page SEO elements.

Once this data was collected, I started to identify the following:

  • Whether the ccTLD was outranking a gTLD that had a higher PA
  • Whether the ccTLD was outranking a gTLD that had a higher PA, where both the ccTLD and gTLD in question had matching on-page SEO implementation for the keyword in question

Research limitations

Let’s start with the obligatory “correlation does not equal causation.” Nothing discovered in this research will definitively prove or disprove ranking factors for international SEO. However, I believe that this kind of research does throw up interesting data, and any SEO trends and correlations discovered through this type of research can set us on our own path to research further and look for more concrete signals to prove or disprove these results.

I had a decision to make regards whether to measure ccTLD ranking over TLDs with a higher PA or a higher DA. I decided to go with PA. Predominantly because I’m looking at the ranking performance of a page, not a website. DA has a direct impact on PA, but if we measured performance against DA, I think we’d be less likely to get a true picture (e.g., blogs on subdomains, and small sites with a keyword in the domain ranking with their home page).

The resources available for this research (i.e., me) meant there was a limit to the volume of SERPs and web pages analyzed. My limited linguistic skills meant I couldn’t analyze SERPs from a broader language base (e.g., Nordic and Japanese), and I could only collect data from the top 10 rankings for each SERP.

Also, ideally the data would have been drawn from the SERPs over one day. I collected the data manually. (I could have set up a crawl, but at the time I didn’t have the knowledge available to do that.) So, it was taken over the course of around six weeks.

Finally, I mentioned that I compare the rank of pages based on like for like on-page SEO. Due to time restraints, I was limited to a handful of what I deemed to be key on-page SEO signals. Therefore, it’s open to debate as to whether the signals I selected are the key signals for on-page SEO.

The results

research-cctld-vs-gtld-infographic-large

Discussion

ccTLDs are not outranking gTLDs. Graphs 1 and 2 demonstrate that the majority of ccTLDs are not outranking gTLDs that have a higher PA. Graph 1 shows that 46% of ccTLDs reviewed outrank a gTLD with a higher PA. However, when we only count “outranking” to occur when both the ccTLD and the gTLD have the same basic on-page SEO (e.g., keyword in title, URL and/or domain), we see that the percentage of ccTLDs outranking gTLDs falls to 24 percent.

This information doesn’t definitively tell us whether or not a local ccTLD is a ranking factor in national SERPs, but it does indicate that it’s probably not a signal that generally outweighs PA. That being the case, from a purely SEO perspective (not considering online consumer psychology), a subfolder must be the best domain structure for the majority of international sites. Unless you or your client is a major brand with a large budget, the resources required to launch several ccTLDs and build enough authority for each to make them visible in their respective search engines makes a ccTLD an unwise selection.

A Local IP address doesn’t pack a punch. Again, this research can’t definitively determine whether an IP address does or doesn’t provide ranking signals for national SERPs, but Graph 5 suggests that if it does, the signals are weak. Of the 474 ccTLDs with a local IP address, only 19 percent were outranking a gTLD with a higher PA. This figure suggests that an IP address has little direct impact on rankings, even when combined with a local ccTLD. That said, it’s worth checking out this article on IP host location from Richard Baxter, which presents a different finding.

A Local link ratio has no relationship with high local rankings. While Rand’s research indicates local links have an impact on local search results, a local link ratio doesn’t have a relationship with high rankings. There doesn’t appear to be a benefit of setting up a ccTLD to gain local links for an international market. Local links can be earned for any domain and any structure, whether ccTLD or subfolder.

Implications for international SEO

It is difficult to make an accurate, broad statement on best practice for international SEO. Every market is likely to be slightly different with regards the way that users interact with content, as well as the way that search engines crawl and rank web pages. You also have to take into account that if you’re working with a client on SEO for different international markets, goals and resources will vary. Toys “R” Us does very well in the SERPs we analyzed with a ccTLD structure, but then they have the resources available to support multiple domains and earn local authority and PR for each domain.

The research looked at SERPs for five countries and 2,500 web pages. The results for each country did vary, and while analyzing 500 web pages for each country doesn’t represent a sufficient sample size to make a sound opinion on each, it does lead me to believe that the choice of whether to use a ccTLD or a gTLD for an international market could vary depending on the market in question. More information is available here on the data collected from each country. To summarize, here are the findings:

sample-countries-for-serps-infographic-l

I’ve omitted the U.S. from the second table, as there were only two web pages with a ccTLD from the 500 analyzed. That confirms what many of us would have suspected or known: ccTLDs aren’t widely used in the U.S. With hindsight, it probably would have been more interesting to swap the U.S. with a different country for analysis.

The information above suggests that maybe there is some variation in how sites rank in different international search engines. It’s also interesting to note that ccTLDs are more popular in some markets than other, which could have an impact on the user relationship and interaction with a website depending on it’s domain structure.

Consumer psychology and ccTLDs

Let’s put aside what I’d consider to be some of the ranking
implications behind a choice of domain structure. There’s another consideration
to be made when it comes to selecting a domain structure for an international
site: Does a local domain have a positive impact on consumer psychology and the
choice of buying or browsing on one site over another?

As with the SEO argument for a ccTLD, there are plenty of
articles and research that suggest consumers prefer to shop on an
eCommerce site with a local domain rather than a generic domain (U.S. excluded).
Eli Schwartz recently wrote an article summarizing research he’d conducted on
the
searcher perception of
ccTLDs
. The post provided some really interesting results. However, I didn’t
necessarily agree with the approach taken with one of the questions put to respondents
regarding eCommerce and the impact of ccTLDs on purchase decisions.

In the
study, Eli asked each respondent this: “Of the links below, which is most likely to
offer the most reliable express shipping to your home?” The respondent was then asked to select either a website with a .com domain, or one with a local ccTLD.
The results are interesting, but if we’re looking for insight into eCommerce
buying decisions, I think it’s a bit of a leading question. If you ask the
respondent a question like this, and give them the choice of a local domain or
a generic domain, they’re likely to answer yes to the ccTLD. However, I don’t
believe that this indicates that the ccTLD is used as an aid to make a purchase
decision. It tells us if you strip all other buying aids from the process, boil
it down to the choice between one domain and another, the respondent selects
the local domain. Real-life buying decisions don’t work like this.

Following on from my research on international rankings, I
wanted to try and create a real life test environment where respondents pick
one website over another to purchase a product.

Test 1 – Impact of domain structure when a consumer is browsing an
ecommerce store

Using CrowdFlower and UsabilityHub, I created a test for U.K.-based respondents. First, the respondent was presented with the following
information:

“You’re looking to
purchase a new laptop. You’ve done your research and found the make and model
that you’d like to buy. You find this laptop on two eCommerce websites. Based
on the page your about to view, which site would you buy the laptop from?”

The respondent was then presented with the following two
eCommerce sites:

DABS-Moz.jpgLaptops-direct-Moz.jpg

Both sell the same laptop with the same specification, same price, same delivery and same returns offer. The key difference between the two is that one is hosted on a .com domain and one is on a .co.uk. The design and layout for each is different, but I’ve attempted to create a real-life situation, and you’d never be choosing between two eCommerce stores with the same design.

Two hundred sixty-two respondents participated in the Dabs vs. Laptops Direct selection, and 174 of these respondents provided feedback on why they made their decision.

The results are as follows:

dabs-v-laptopsdirect-infographic-1-large

As you can see, none of the respondents selected either website due to the domain structure of the store. Choices were predominantly made on a preference for less ads or clutter, product information, usability, or branding. It seems clear to me that when the consumer is browsing an eCommerce site, the domain structure plays no part in their purchase decision. Although not tested here, localization indicators such as language, currency, delivery, and returns policy will arguably dictate whether or not you stand a chance of winning their business rather than the domain.

Test 2 – Impact of domain structure when consumer is browsing the SERPs

After I’d reviewed consumer decision-making while on the webpage, I wanted to see if ccTLDs were a genuine factor in consumer psychology on a SERP when the user is making their browsing decision.

In the next test, U.K. respondents were presented with the following text:

“You’re looking to find an eCommerce site that sells car parts. You go to Google and search for ‘car parts’. You see the following results page. Which website would you click on first?”

The respondent was presented with a SERP for car parts, making sure that one ccTLD of four websites (the third organic result) was available in the organic results. As you can see, the second organic result, a gTLD, contains U.K. within the domain:

google-serp-test-moz-google.jpg

The following heat map shows the websites selected by the respondents:

SERP-car-parts-Moz.jpg

The 200 respondents were then asked to give a reason for their selection. The results are as follows:

car-parts-serp-infographic-2-large.jpg

It does seem that a ccTLD can play a part in the browsing selection for a portion of the audience. Eleven percent of the respondents indicate they made their selection because the website was based in the U.K., although they don’t specify how they made that assumption (i.e., could be ccTLD, meta description, etc.). Five percent of the respondents specifically mention the local domain as the reason for their choice (although they seem to be confusing the autopartsuk.com as a U.K. domain). Seventeen percent of our respondents made the website selection based on their belief that the website was based in the U.K.

The research also shows how important the meta description is in the user-browsing decision, something that I think often gets overlooked by SEOs. In fact, 30 percent of our respondents indicated they made their selection based on information provided in the meta (mentioning things like free delivery, range of stock, and discounts). I think that when we get a website ranking for a really important keyword, SEOs can be a bit like the football (or soccer) team that’s just scored a goal. We’re so engulfed in the success of scoring that we switch off at kickoff, letting the other team score straight away. There is a danger that we think we’ve won when one of our web pages ranks well, when in fact that’s just part of the job. We still need to compete for the user’s attention once we’re on the SERP, and entice them to click on our website instead of the competitor’s.

Do Google’s new ‘branded breadcrumbs’ change the significance of ccTLDs?

We’ve seen that a number of users make a SERP selection based on their assumption that the selected website is based locally. At present, the domain structure is used as a key indicator of a websites location. However, as part of the mobile algorithm update, Google’s announced a move from a URL display to a branded breadcrumb that will remove the domain structure from the SERP. On mobile, from a location perspective, the domain structure will no longer influence a users SERP selection. The 17 percent of respondents making the selection based on location will look for other information to aid their decision.

For now, on mobile at least, the SERPs present a level playing field for ccTLDs and gTLDs with regards to consumer psychology. The meta description is even more important in enticing the click.

Conclusions

For me, the research shows that choosing a ccTLD as the domain structure for an international site shouldn’t be the automatic decision that it seems to be for many. While further research is required, I don’t believe that a ccTLD domain structure has a big enough impact on rankings to warrant selecting this option over a subfolder, which allows us to consolidate links and boost DA and PA on all of our international content. We can geotarget subfolders via webmaster tools and hreflang tags, and as a local ccTLD doesn’t seem to supersede PA as a ranking factor, we should act accordingly and launch international sites with the highest PA possible (i.e., subfolders).

The research on consumer psychology does show that a ccTLD can have a positive impact on SERP user selections. However, meta descriptions can also be used to promote local service and delivery. The changes announced by Google for mobile SERPs will remove URLs from the selection equation, and we’ve seen that when a user is on a website, they pay little attention to the domain location.

While I feel this is the right advice for most brands, it’s probably not the right advice for all. If you’re working with a large brand, you might have the resources available to earn the marginal gains in every facet of what you do. If further research shows that ccTLDs do have some ranking impact, no matter how small, and that improves your ranking by one position for each keyword, then the impact could result in a significant amount of extra traffic if you’re working for a large eCommerce customer.

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Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 5

Posted by Trevor-Klein

We’ve arrived, folks! This is the last installment of our short (< 2-minute) video tutorials that help you all get the most out of Moz’s tools. If you haven’t been following along, these are each designed to solve a use case that we regularly hear about from Moz community members.

Here’s a quick recap of the previous round-ups in case you missed them:

  • Week 1: Reclaim links using Open Site Explorer, build links using Fresh Web Explorer, and find the best time to tweet using Followerwonk.
  • Week 2: Analyze SERPs using new MozBar features, boost your rankings through on-page optimization, check your anchor text using Open Site Explorer, do keyword research with OSE and the keyword difficulty tool, and discover keyword opportunities in Moz Analytics.
  • Week 3: Compare link metrics in Open Site Explorer, find tweet topics with Followerwonk, create custom reports in Moz Analytics, use Spam Score to identify high-risk links, and get link building opportunities delivered to your inbox.
  • Week 4: Use Fresh Web Explorer to build links, analyze rank progress for a given keyword, use the MozBar to analyze your competitors’ site markup, use the Top Pages report to find content ideas, and find on-site errors with Crawl Test.

We’ve got five new fixes for you in this edition:

  • How to Use the Full SERP Report
  • How to Find Fresh Links and Manage Your Brand Online Using Open Site Explorer
  • How to Build Your Link Profile with Link Intersect
  • How to Find Local Citations Using the MozBar
  • Bloopers: How to Screw Up While Filming a Daily SEO Fix

Hope you enjoy them!


Fix 1: How to Use the Full SERP Report

Moz’s Full SERP Report is a detailed report that shows the top ten ranking URLs for a specific keyword and presents the potential ranking signals in an easy-to-view format. In this Daily SEO Fix, Meredith breaks down the report so you can see all the sections and how each are used.

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https://www.youtube.com/embed/dBOS3PGYpwk


Fix 2: How to Find Fresh Links and Manage Your Brand Online Using Open Site Explorer

The Just-Discovered Links report in Open Site Explorer helps you discover recently created links within an hour of them being published. In this fix, Nick shows you how to use the report to view who is linking to you, how they’re doing it, and what they are saying, so you can capitalize on link opportunities while they’re still fresh and join the conversation about your brand.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/VP2DoDy3Fj4


Fix 3: How to Build Your Link Profile with Link Intersect

The quantity and (more importantly) quality of backlinks to your website make up your link profile, one of the most important elements in SEO and an incredibly important factor in search engine rankings. In this Daily SEO Fix, Tori shows you how to use Moz’s Link Intersect tool to analyze the competitions’ backlinks. Plus, learn how to find opportunities to build links and strengthen your own link profile.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/r7Ob1i3v7To


Fix 4: How to Find Local Citations Using the MozBar

Citations are mentions of your business and address on webpages other than your own such as an online yellow pages directory or a local business association page. They are a key component in search engine ranking algorithms so building consistent and accurate citations for your local business(s) is a key Local SEO tactic. In today’s Daily SEO Fix, Tori shows you how to use MozBar to find local citations around the web

https://www.youtube.com/embed/AGqKmru2VKc


Bloopers: How to Screw Up While Filming a Daily SEO Fix

We had a lot of fun filming this series, and there were plenty of laughs along the way. Like these ones. =)

http://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/cldo3ziuxb?videoFoam=true


Looking for more?

We’ve got more videos in the previous four weeks’ round-ups!

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 1

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 2

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 3

Your Daily SEO Fix: Week 4


Don’t have a Pro subscription? No problem. Everything we cover in these Daily SEO Fix videos is available with a free 30-day trial.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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7 Top Marketing Podcasts and the Lessons They’ve Taught Me

As someone who’s motivated by self-improvement and achieving more, I’m constantly trying to learn as much as I can.

Books are naturally one of my main go-to sources of knowledge. But there’s also a wealth of information to be consumed in the awesome world of podcasts. For digital marketers in particular, there are tons of great marketing podcasts out there, each with their own ideas to try and lessons to learn.

And. All this information is completely free!

Listed below are my 7 favorite marketing podcasts and the lessons they’ve taught me. If you have a favorite one that’s not listed here, I’d love to hear about it!

best podcasts

7 Top Marketing Podcasts and the Lessons They’ve Taught Me

Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned have come from podcasts.

Rather than just list out my favorite podcasts, I thought it might be a great chance to share some gratitude for what these podcasts have given me: Valuable lessons in digital marketing.

Interestingly, these new ideas and lessons aren’t always presented in one easy to listen to episode. Sometimes the lessons learned might come from listening to a show for a while and identifying the common themes or ideas that the hosts keep bringing up. Today I’m going to sum up the main lessons I’ve learned while listening to some top podcasts.

How I listen to podcasts

If you don’t think you have time to listen to podcasts, then think again! Podcasts are great to listen to while you’re in the car, on the bus, at the gym or going for a walk.

I use the Podcasts app for iPhone when I’m on the go and the Apple TV at home. In addition you might try some of the following apps that are great with podcasts (many are available for Android also):

  1. Overcast
  2. Downcast
  3. Pocket Casts
  4. Soundcloud
  5. Spotify Now

Aside from smartphone apps, you can often listen to podcasts from the web via a podcast player on the host’s website or via Soundcloud. This is also great when tuning in to podcasts while you work.

Okay, without further adieu, here’s my list of favorite marketing podcasts!

1. The Fizzle Show

My favorite lesson: Knowing Your Audience

The Fizzle Show

From the founders of Fizzle.co, The Fizzle Show is a podcast for online entrepreneurs that brings you lessons about building your audience, creating a valuable product or service and starting a business that matters. It’s also an incredibly funny show and hosts Chase, Corbett and Barrett are hilarious.

The biggest lesson I’ve been able to take away from The Fizzle Show is this: know your audience better than they know themselves.

In other words, in order to succeed you need to understand the deep emotional problems your audience faces. This will inform the creation of your product or service and ultimately determine how you’re going to convince people to spend money on what you have. It’s also going to play a crucial role in how you communicate to your audience. You need to understand how to talk to your potential customers and what language to use. This only comes through having a deep understanding of your audience, their needs, problems and aspirations.

This last part is really important – when Chase Reeves introduces the show, he usually says something along the lines of:

“Welcome to the Fizzle Show where every Friday we publish another conversation about entrepreneurship in general, building a thriving audience, and the battle of supporting yourself doing something you actually care about.”

This really speaks to me personally. As I’m building my own website that helps people to be more productive, I’m wrestling with these challenges. When Chase introduces the show like this I feel like it was made specifically for me. That’s how you need to make your audience feel.

Here are some of my favorite episodes from The Fizzle Show:

Also, if interested, you can check out the Fizzle “Small Business Roadmap” for an outline of the main steps to starting and growing your online business:

  1. Finally! A Roadmap for the 6 Stages of Small Business (FS100)
  2. Connection: Stage 2 of 6 on the Small Business Roadmap (FS101)
  3. Planning: Stage 3 of 6 on the Small Business Roadmap (FS102)
  4. Build: Stage 4 of 6 on the Small Business Roadmap (FS103)
  5. Money: Stage 5 of 6 on the Small Business Roadmap (FS104)
  6. Scale: Stage 6 of 6 on the Small Business Roadmap (FS105)

2. ConversionCast

My favorite lesson: Testing Your Assumptions

Conversion Cast

From the creators of the top lead generation service Lead PagesConversionCast is a digital marketer’s paradise and is packed with useful examples of how different websites and marketers have optimized their conversion rates to grow their email lists, website traffic, user trials, customer signups, social shares and more!

These episodes are nice and short, usually about 15 minutes in length. It’s a great place for inspiration and picking up new ideas of things to optimize and test across your website.

Each episode features a guest who has successful “moved the needle” on some key metric.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from ConversionCast is this; TEST, TEST, TEST!

While the show gives you some awesome examples of how to optimize your key performance indicators (KPIs),] it’s vital to test these ideas with your own audience. What works for one person or website may not work for you.

Instead, ConversionCast recommends you apply the Lean Startup methodology:

  1. Come up with a hypothesis (i.e. an idea of something you’d like to test).
  2. Use customer cohorts or split-test this change to validate your hypothesis.
  3. Measure the results using actionable metrics.
  4. Based on the results you can persevere with your strategy or pivot and try something else.

lean-startup

Here are some of the more notable and popular episodes of ConversionCast:

3. The Smart Passive Income Podcast

My favorite lesson: “The Riches Are in the Niches”

SPI Podcast

I love this saying and it’s so true. Pat Flynn, host of the Smart Passive Income Podcast often talks about the importance solving specific problems within some niche that you’re part of.

The great thing about the Smart Passive Income Podcast is that Pat is actually doing and testing the things that he’s talking about.

He calls himself an “online marketing guinea pig” and puts everything he learns to the test so that he can share the results with us. Pat has built a highly successful blog, podcast and now YouTube channel and is a great example of how to execute content marketing effectively.

On the Smart Passive Income Podcast Pat interviews guests, all the way from Tim Ferriss and Michael Hyatt to young entrepreneurs who have only just started to get noticed. He’s great at putting a spotlight on everyday people and showing how anyone can build a successful business.

Some of the success stories coming from the Smart Passive Income Podcast are really inspiring and it’s amazing to see what kind of niches people are able to squeeze themselves into. It just goes to show that great marketing is all about identifying a specific audience and filling their needs like no one else can or has.

Some of my favorite Smart Passive Income Podcast episodes include:

4. The #AskGaryVee Show

My favorite lesson: The Changing Social Media Landscape

The Ask Gary Vee Show

If you want to keep up with the fast changing landscape of social media then The #AskGaryVee Show should be top of your list.

Entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuck has been running his creative agency, Vaynermedia, since early 2009 with a focus on social media and digital advertising.

The Vaynermedia team publish a couple of podcasts episodes per week. Where they’re being really smart with their content marketing is that they actually film the show and extract the audio to produce the podcast. Talk about two birds with one stone; this is a great example of how to be more productive with your content marketing (let’s call it a bonus lesson).

Gary has been in the social media game for a long-time. He started his YouTube channel, Wine Library TV, to promote his wine business in 2006, just one year after YouTube was created. Gary is completely up to date with the latest social media trends and best practices. As we know, Facebook’s algorithm is constantly changing, the social media space is becoming increasingly competitive and engaging with your audience can be a challenge. Gary and his team are constantly testing new social media strategies to find out what works and of course they share the findings via the podcast.

It amazes me how knowledgable Gary and his team are about social media and how much they’re always testing and experimenting with new post types or platforms. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from the show is to adopt this mindset and react fast to social media changes. Often huge benefits can be had by getting on to a growing platform early when there’s less competition.

Always be on the lookout because the next big social network or other adopter opportunity could be just around the corner.

Each episode of The #AskGaryVee Show is packed with useful advice in a Q&A format, but I love the Gary Vaynerchuk originals that have been produced recently:

5. The Suitcase Entrepreneur

My favorite lesson: Finding Your WHY

Natalie Sisson

Natalie Sisson, also known as The Suitcase Entrepreneur, runs her business and podcast on the go while she travels around the world having awesome adventures.

Natalie’s podcast discusses online marketing, business and entrepreneurship. The show is a mix of interviews with successful online entrepreneurs and her “Fresh in 15” episodes which are shorter-form and are used to bring you quick tidbits of information.

The message I’m constantly hearing from the The Suitcase Entrepreneur Podcast is to do something you care about and find your WHY. It’s so important not just for individuals, but for businesses as well to find their WHY; their purpose or reason for being.

Your WHY is what separates you from your competition. It’s why your audience buy from you and it’s why they’re going to share your story with their friends. Finding and communicating your WHY is crucial as it’s what allows you to attract the ideal customer.

For more information about the importance of your WHY, check out this must-watch TED Talk by Simon Sinek.

Here are some of the best Suitcase Entrepreneur interviews and episodes:

6. StartUp

Being Transparent with Your Audience

StartUp

Gimlet Media is a new podcasting company that produces high quality narrative based podcast shows. StartUp was their first podcast and follows the story of CEO Alex Blumberg and his team as they wrestle with the challenges of starting up a new company.

This podcast is like nothing I’ve ever listened to; they’re telling and narrating their story as it’s actually happening. The show cuts between interviews with investors to awkward conversations with Alex’s wife to voice overs where Alex explains everything that’s happening.

Usually we only get to hear about a startup once it has become semi-successful. As the show says in the intro, the podcast shows you the side of startups that no one usually sees; those early days when it’s all trying to get this thing off the ground when you have no idea if you’re going to succeed.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned from the show is the importance of transparency.

While producing this podcast Alex has to be completely transparent with his wife, his co-founder, his team and of course us, the audience. Everyone can see (or hear) what’s happening the entire time and there’s no hiding anywhere. This of course contributes to the brilliance of the story. I’ve learned that people really appreciate transparency.

As a member of the audience listening to this show I really appreciate that the show hasn’t been sugarcoated to give a certain perception of the company. It’s all just raw conversations between employees about real challenges and concerns.

Every episode of StartUp is really insightful. If you want to get started with this show, check out episode one here:

Or you can start with season 2 which follows the story of two female entrepreneurs:

7. The Tim Ferriss Show

My favorite lesson: Constant Learning

Tim Ferriss-2

Best-selling author, entrepreneur and investor Tim Ferriss hosts The Tim Ferriss Show and interviews world-class performers in order to deconstruct what it is that they do to become so successful.

Tim is the author of three best-selling books; The 4-Hour Work Week, The 4-Hour Body and The 4-Hour Chef. His writing focuses on deconstructing a topic to find out what the “minimum effective dose” is for achieving a goal, whether that’s building a business, sculpting the perfect body or accelerating your learning.

Tim has interviewed awesome guests like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel and Ramit Sethi. While the range of topics and skills these interviews cover is wide, one of my biggest takeaways from the show is the importance of constant learning. These world-class performers are constantly trying to improve their skills and never stop learning.

One of the common questions Tim likes to ask is “what book have you gifted to people more than any other?” or just “what are your favorite books?”. Books are an excellent source of knowledge and reading is one of the most common traits among these high-performers. These people have a thirst for knowledge and even though they’re at the top of their game, they’re constantly trying to learn more every single day.

And if they can, so can you!

Here are the standout episodes from the Tim Ferriss Show which are particularly good for marketers:

Other Podcasts to Check Out

  1. Seth Godin’s Startup School by Seth Godin. This podcast is a series of talks by author and entrepreneur Seth Godin as he guides 30 entrepreneurs through a startup workshop.
  2. The Productivityist Podcast by Mike Vardy. This is another favourite of mine. Mike’s podcast is a great source of productivity tips that help you get more done.
  3. Entrepreneur On Fire by John Lee Dumas. Hear the success stories of successful entrepreneurs with this top business podcast. Perfect for all your entrepreneurial types.

Your Turn!

I highly recommend each and every one of these podcasts. They’re all brilliant in their own right and you won’t regret taking the time to listen to the shows.

I’m always on the lookout for more great shows, so tell us; what are your favorite podcasts? Let us know in the comments below!

Image sources: Pablo, Unsplash, IconFinder, Lean Startup

The post 7 Top Marketing Podcasts and the Lessons They’ve Taught Me appeared first on Social.

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Can You Run a Marketing Program With Zero Goals?

So much of marketing, it seems, is geared toward growth and traction, particularly when it comes to startups and technology. We are pressed on all sides by tracking metrics, pivoting, learning, and growing—a sort of exponential growth mindset that envelops, well, everything: content, social, email, community. If you haven’t measured it, then it doesn’t count. If you can’t measure it, you’re better off without it.

We’re surrounded by this movement at Buffer, kind of like a stone is surrounded by a stream: change is flowing around us and we’re deciding whether to tumble along or stay still.

Today’s marketing teams seem quite focused on growth and traction.

Can you run a marketing program with an emphasis on neither?

And one of our favorite follow-up questions: What happens if you do?

marketing goals

How to run a marketing team that runs itself

What marketing looks like for a self-managed, whole, purpose-driven team

We’re in the midst of exciting things at Buffer—Pinterest integration and Pablo fun, yes, but also some serious and impactful changes around the way we organize.

We’re striving to be a Teal organization, as described in Frederic Laloux’s book Reinventing OrganizationsThe idea is that organizations evolve over time toward higher and higher paradigms with Teal being the most recent iteration.

Human Development Reinventing Organizations chart

Looking at the chart above, schools and government and churches might be the Amber formal hierarchies, most Fortune 500 companies operate in Orange, some cool folks like Southwest and Ben & Jerry’s run Green.

We’re aiming for Teal.

Reinventing Organizations summarizes the main characteristics of Teal organizations as these:

  1. Self-management. Everyone follows their interests and passions.
  2. Wholeness. Everyone chooses to bring their whole self to work.
  3. Evolutionary purpose. The organization grows organically in the direction that it’s meant to.

This is the path we’re on at Buffer, and we’re learning tons as we go.

One of those areas of learning is with marketing.

What does marketing look like for a Teal organization?

The book had several great insights and examples to get us thinking. Here are a few of my favorite quotes that point toward a possible route for our marketing team.

In comparison, Teal Organizations’ approach to marketing is almost simplistic. The organizations simply listen in to what feels like the right offering.There are no customer surveys and no focus groups. Essentially, marketing boils down to this statement: This is our offer. At this moment, we feel this is the best we can possibly do. We hope you will like it. 

Most business leaders would feel naked without budgets and forecasts. I put this question to Carlson: How do you deal with having no forecasts to compare people’s performance to? For instance, how do you know if the guys in Germany (where Sun has a plant) were doing a good job last year, if you have no target to compare against? His answer came shooting out of the barrel:

“Who knows? Who cares? They are all working hard, doing the best they can. We have good people in all the places around the world and if I need that sort of scorecard I probably got the wrong person. That’s just the way we operate.”

FAVI believes we should think like farmers: look 20 years ahead, and plan only for the next day.

“In the new way of thinking, we aim to make money without knowing how we do it, as opposed to the old way of losing money knowing exactly how we lose it.”

– FAVI

marketing teal quote

It’s a bit risky to think about running a marketing campaign with the sole goal of “hoping people like it.”

It also feels quite great to afford ourselves that freedom.

Why grow?

Our co-founder Leo has done some really amazing reflection on this topic, coming around to the question, “Why grow?”

For the last 2 to 3 years, about every day, I would wake up, open my laptop and type the letter “g” into the Google Chrome bar and hit enter. Chrome would auto-complete it to “growth.bufferapp.com”. It was like a daily ritual to check on Buffer’s growth numbers from a number of different angles. Revenue, new users, daily actives, monthly actives.

Growing, increasing our monthly revenue, our traffic, our user base, that was the number one priority in my mind. It only hit me very recently, about 4 months ago now, to pose a very simple question “Why grow?”.

One thing that’s so fascinating with everything that grows is this: It has a limit. Organically, nothing grows forever.

With your startup or any type of company, it seems that no matter how big you’ve grown, you’ll always want to grow bigger. It seems completely unthinkable today, to say that for example Apple or Google would announce “we’ve grown enough, we’ll stop here”.

Would it make sense then that growth fits more as the result rather than the focus?

If you are constantly after growth and there’s no end in sight, what does that do to the mindset of your team? Any effect could well be subconscious, a longing to continue pushing, achieving, striving to be the best or the biggest. I’d imagine it’s a slow burn. Eventually you wake up and realize you’ve been chasing growth for 5 or 10 years without knowing it.

Is that what we want for ourselves?

An example of Teal marketing that worked

leo facebook post

We had the privilege to see one of our blog posts republished on Medium’s official blog. And from our side, we did very little:

  • No outreach
  • No coordinating
  • No planning
  • No strategic goal in mind

We wrote the article because we thought it might be useful for people. The Medium team was so kind to spot the article and reach out about a possible republication. And before we knew it, there the post was, sitting on the Medium blog.

Like Leo said in his Facebook update:

It’s really hard to measure things like this on the outset and even harder to plan for something like this to happen (although I catch myself wanting to do so often!).

I’ve come to think that maybe genuinely trying to help others with useful content will lead to great things, and it’s ok to leave one’s intentions there, everything else will follow.

How growth and traction fit with Teal

One of the leading factors we’ve held to in this transition to Teal is a strong sense of intuition. We let intuition guide us in our marketing decisions. We trust our intuition, which has been informed so much by our past experience.

Where do growth metrics fit with intuition?

I often see myself going about my work in a pendulum fashion—I’ll swing to the extreme in one direction (too far, probably) and then come back the other way. I’ve done this with blogging, being quite regimented about a set publishing schedule and then not regimented at all.

I want to be mindful of this as a possibility with intuition also.

Our founder Joel shared some great thoughts with me on what might be a possible middle ground, where the pendulum might eventually settle. His advice went a little like this:

Track everything. 

Don’t let the tracking drive the decisions.

Use metrics to inform. Use intuition to guide.

You can’t know everything about the impact of a campaign. You can’t know how it feels to someone on the other end. Metrics can only go so far.

metrics vs intuition

Moving forward: How to organize marketing without a set goal

I’m at the point where so many different ideas are swimming around my head. I’m thinking toward growth and feeling excited to track new experiments, create new processes, and get things all smooth for our marketing team. I’m also thinking toward doing nothing out of the ordinary, just helping people.

In his book Growth Hacker Marketing, Ryan Holiday describes the role of a growth hacker as one who focuses on only what is testable, trackable, and scalable.

A bit later on in the book, almost as a foil to the definition of growth hacker, he says:

Marketing, too many people forget, is not an end unto itself. It is simply getting customers. And by the transitive property, anything that gets customers is marketing.

Getting customers seems like exactly what we’re doing at Buffer. We’re just going about it in our own very unique way.

I mentioned earlier the analogy of a stone in a river. Perhaps it’s more like this analogy from Seth Godin’s book Poke the Box. Instead of stones refusing to budge, we’re logs letting the current carry us forward.

Like a rock in a flowing river, you might be standing still, but given the movement around you, collisions are inevitable. The irony for the person who prefers no movement is that there’s far less turbulence around the log floating down that same river. It’s moving, it’s changing, but compared to the river around it, it’s relatively calm. The economy demands flux.

Our BHAW at Buffer: Help as many people as possible

I’ve adapted Jim Collins’s BHAG version of goal-setting (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) into our Big Hairy Audacious Wish: to help as many people as possible.

We recently had the chance to chat as a Buffer marketing team about the purpose and mission for what we do. Here’s an early look at what we’ve come up with so far for our mission:

To create helpful, actionable content that helps people with their social media presence. To connect a community of like-minded people with passions for social media, self-improvement, and Buffer’s values. To share Buffer’s internal approach, philosophies and culture to help create a new way to work.

How this fits with our values:

  1. Positivity and happiness. Put a positive spin on all we create, looking out for the good of others.
  2. Transparency. Share everything, absolutely everything we think might be useful.
  3. Self-improvement. Try new things, experiment, grow personally so that we can share our learnings.
  4. No ego. Put the reader/customer/commenter first.
  5. Listening. Slow down and hear other’s problems.
  6. Clarity. Communicate clearly.
  7. Reflection. Be willing to sit and think on bigger ideas. Ship things, but not in a hurry.
  8. Live smarter. And help others to do the same. (Tied in nicely with transparency and self-improvement.)
  9. Gratitude. Remember the lessons we’ve learned early on and pay it forward.
  10. Do the right thing. Help others.

How we measure helping others

This is one we’re still iterating on. We’d love your thoughts!

Who we’re helping

First, I think it’s useful to recognize the people that we’re able to help with our marketing efforts. It’s a bit of a bigger list than I originally thought.

  1. Buffer customers
  2. Anyone who shares to social media
  3. Anyone who’s interested in new perspectives on business, productivity, work, culture
  4. Our Buffer teammates
  5. Ourselves

The first few are maybe a bit obvious. We of course would like to help our customers share better and easier to social media. We’d love to help any social media sharers who might be interested in our learnings. We’re grateful for the chance to be on this journey at Buffer and to share everything on the Open blog.

Beyond that, our marketing helps our Buffer teammates. We help those in customer support by writing articles and guides that can be shared as resources in support tickets. We help our customer development team by writing stories that can inform our product processes.

And we help ourselves. We get to experiment and explore new areas of interest and to grow as individuals and social sharers

It all falls under the umbrella of helping people.

Specific metrics

So how can we find a way to measure the amount of “helping people”?

Is “helping” a metric?

It’s a good question and one I’m not sure I’ve found the answer to yet. Here are some ideas.

For social media

  • Follows. People find our content helpful and want to hear more from us. (This probably doesn’t apply to all who follow us, but some at least.)
  • Engagement metrics: Clicks, reshares, comments, likes. Each of these is a signal that the content is helpful or useful or valuable in some way.
  • SentimentHow do people talk about us online? What is the general vibe? The analysis here is likely quite intuition-based.
  • Volume of conversations. If positive conversation picks up around a certain topic or campaign, we can believe it was successful.

For content

  • Time on page + social shares. This combo stat shows that readers are both finding the content worth reading and, when finished reading, worth passing along to others.
  • Unique comments. How many individual people found the content worth responding to?
  • Email replies. How many people send us email regarding content we’ve made?
  • Long-term traffic and social shares over time. Tells us whether readers continue to find the content valuable into the future.
  • Incoming links. Do others see our content as valuable and helpful?
  • Inbound.org and Growth Hacker upvotes. Signals from the community that the content is helpful.
  • Email newsletter signups. People find our content valuable and would like to learn more and stay connected with us.

The one thing missing from this list: Conversions.

Are Buffer signups a signal that our marketing efforts are helpful? 

I’d love your thoughts here. I’ve gone back-and-forth between two minds and have currently settled on Yes, conversions are helpful. We believe that Buffer is a helpful tool that positively impacts your social media sharing. Therefore, getting people to sign up for Buffer would be a way of helping.

Do conversions carry extra weight in the big picture of how we choose what to work on next? I’m not quite sure. My gut is that they’d be equal to any other metric listed above as everything points back to helpfulness.

What this might look like at Buffer day-to-day

I take a lot of inspiration from the amazing workflows and deep thinking of others, especially how they organize their marketing efforts.

One method in particular has caught my eye recently. Based on Brian Balfour’s method for creating and analyzing marketing experiments, Rob Sobers built a Trello template for how to see new experiments through from idea to implementation (and beyond).

screenshot

The full 9 stages to work through are:

  1. Brainstorm
  2. Backlog
  3. Pipeline
  4. Design
  5. Implement
  6. Analyze
  7. Systemize
  8. History
  9. Playbooks

Phew! That’s quite a bit of stages. It definitely feels like a great process to see an idea through. I think it might be a bit too far from away where we’re aiming with our Teal marketing.

That being said, I’d be keen to adopt bits and pieces.

Here’s a very trimmed down version.

buffer trello board

Ideas and brainstorms

This list contains all the random ideas, all the larks and what-ifs we can imagine. Anything goes, and anyone can add something here.

Some ideas might be a bit more fleshed out than others, with additional detail added to the Trello card. This can happen either in the “Ideas & Brainstorms” stage, depending on how fully-formed the idea is to begin with, or it can happen when an idea moves into the “Pipeline.”

Pipeline

Cards first arrive in the Pipeline when we’re ready to act on them. At a glance, the Pipeline would always be the current list of all active experiments.

The cards at this point have a bit of extra information on them. Each experiment includes a spec, which can either be listed out on the card itself or written down in a hackpad with the link included on the Trello card.

In general, experiments might include the following elements:

  • Overview – What the experiment is
  • Hypothesis – Why we think it might be a cool idea to try
  • Specifics – What the experiment will involve, how it will look
  • Results – What happened
  • Learnings – What this means
  • Action items – Both for during the experiment and for afterward

Here’s a quick look at a sample hackpad:

buffer hackpad

And here’s a possible look for a Trello card:

trello card

Within the pipeline, an experiment can be at different stages, as denoted by a label.

  • Orange = Planned
  • Yellow = In Progress
  • Green = Complete!
  • Purple = Analyzing
  • Black = Systemizing
  • Teal = Success!
  • Pink = Maybe Later

History

Once complete, the card moves here where it’ll sit forever so that we can check back on what we’ve tried before.

A Buffer wrinkle: A decision maker for each experiment

One unique element that is a bit specific to us at Buffer is who decides whether an experiment was successful enough that it can become part of our marketing process.

As a self-managed company, we’d need to choose a decider.

This means assigning each of the above Trello cards to a person who can then make the final decision on an experiment’s success, taking into account the metrics involved and also the intuition of how things felt.

For choosing a decision maker, we follow closely to the process described in Dennis Bakke’s The Decision Maker:

  • Proximity. Who’s close to the issue? Are they well acquainted with the context, the day-to-day details, and the big picture?
  • Perspective. Proximity matters, but so does perspective. Sometimes an outside perspective can be just as valuable.
  • Experience. Has this person had experience making similar decisions? What were the consequences of those decisions?
  • Wisdom. What kinds of decisions has this person made in other areas? Were they good ones? Do you have confidence in this person?

Performance measurements vs. goals

In iterating on our Teal structure, we’ve found it important to have someone be responsible for each area of Buffer marketing and for this person to have a method of accountability.

We view accountability more in terms of performance measurements instead of goals—e.g., time on page can be a measure of performance for blog posts, and it’s not necessary to aim for a particular target time.

Overall, a person’s contribution to an area would include these factors:

  • Responsibilities – whether you act, advise, and/or decide for an area
  • Commitments – kind of like an area job description
  • Performance Measurement – what you’ll look at for progress and accountability
  • Status – whether active, background, or done as necessary

Final thoughts

What are some specific metrics you can use to measure if your marketing is based on helping others?

It’s a big question for us, and one we’re still in the midst of answering. Courtney wrote a great post about all the different marketing KPIs out there. She found 61! At Buffer, we’ve measured many of those in the past, and we continue to measure many of them—they just aren’t quite why or how we make decisions any more.

I’d love to keep you updated on how this develops for us and which directions we choose to take next. And if you have any thoughts at all, I’d be so grateful to learn from your ideas!

Image sources: Pablo, UnSplash, IconFinder

The post Can You Run a Marketing Program With Zero Goals? appeared first on Social.

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