11 New Year's Resolutions You Should Actually Keep

If you’re anything like I am, you have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions.

It seems like a natural time to make important changes. It’s like a universal pressing of the “reset” button. Maybe that’s why 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions in the first place. But here’s the thing — only 9.2% of us are successful in achieving them.

We suspect it has something to do with the nature of the resolutions themselves — which seem, much to our joy, to be evolving. Lasy year, for instance, we reported that according to a study by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top 10 resolutions of 2015 included things like losing weight and falling in love.

And while this year’s top 10 resolutions, according to a survey conducted by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, are similar — “self improvements,” “find the love of my life” — we noticed a new one on the list: “Learn something new on my own.”

Why do we love that resolution so much? Because it’s something that can help you become better at what you do every day.

That’s the challenge we posted last year: to come up with and stick to professional New Year’s resolutions — things that will make you more creative, productive, and generally more content at work.

Short on ideas? Here are 11 of ours to help you get started, along with resources to help you actually accomplish them.

1. Designate an electronics-free zone.

Why?

Our bodies are smarter than you might think. They’re trained to respond to light and dark, which according to the National Sleep Foundation send us important signals, like the time of day. Those signals also aid our bodies in adjusting our circadian rhythms — that’s the handy 24-hour physiological cycle that helps us fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

All of that is pretty cool … until screens are added to the equation. Our brains recognize the brightness from phones, computer monitors, and even TVs as external light, which sends the signal that we should be awake. That’s why it’s harder for so many of us to fall asleep when we’re exposed to too much screen time at night. The verdict? Put the devices down before bed.

How?

At INBOUND 2013, Arianna Huffington — who later went on to pen The Sleep Revolution — gave some great advice regarding the sleep/screen conundrum: Ban electronics from your bedroom for good.

“I never take devices to bed,” she said. “iPads, iPhones, Blackberries — I don’t charge them near my bed, because I feel it’s imperative to be able to have uninterrupted renewal time.”

This habit is a tough one to break, and it’s one that I’ve personally been working on for years. So if you like to watch movies or shows on your computer before bed, for example, I can relate — these are the mindless things that help us unwind at the end of the day. Luckily, there are solutions to help you resolve the problem for good, some of which might still allow you to indulge in your evening TV viewing.

Helpful Resources

We’d encourage you to ditch the electronics completely before bed. Instead, try reading, journaling, or maybe even a few minutes of yoga. And if you absolutely cannot part with your electronics:

  • Try downloading a desktop app that reduces your screen’s blue light as the day progresses — that’s the kind emitted from most electronics and is often cited as the culprit for sleep loss. We recommend f.lux, which adjusts your screen’s blue light depending on the time of day, or the similar filter from PC Sun Screen.
  • Plus, the latest iPhone OS now comes with a “night shift” mode, which accomplishes the same thing after sunset.

2. Write something every day.

Why?

Sadly, the decreasing quality of writing in the U.S. has been making headlines for a while now. And people want to become better writers — they just have trouble investing the necessary time.

But it’s an important skill. And if you’re going to be blogging regularly — which we recommend you do — the writing needs to be good.

If you want to become a better writer, then you need to write a lot. The way to improve that skill is the same way you’d approach any other — with practice.

It’s the same advice we give to people who want to blog more consistently (another worthy New Year’s resolution) which is to treat it like working out. You’ve got to do it consistently to see great results. After all, you can’t just publish a blog once every few months and expect to rack up views, leads, and customers. The same goes for your overall writing skills.

How?

To start, get into the habit of writing on a daily basis. Neil Patel suggests writing for at least 30 minutes every workday, skipping the weekends. Remember the advice we just gave to journal before bed, instead of looking at a screen? Here’s a great way to put that time to use.

And even if you don’t identify as a writer, pick a question — something from a customer, a friend, or a topic that’s always piqued your curiosity — and write something about it. Or, just write nonsense. It’s the habit of writing regularly that’s important, especially in the beginning.

Helpful Resources

When we encourage people to write more, one of the most common objections is, “I have nothing to say.” We profoundly disagree, and thought that these tools might help to generate some ideas:

  • Daily Page: Emails you a writing prompt every morning, and you have the rest of the day to write your response. Once you’ve written your response to the prompt, you can either share it or keep it private.
  • 750 Words: Encourages you to write 750 words per day about anything you want. It gamifies writing by giving you points for writing at all, for writing 750 words or more, and for writing on a consistent basis.
  • Twords: Calls itself “the app that nudges you to write.” It notifies you when you haven’t written in a while so you can keep yourself accountable — and even gives you the option to connect with others who will help you stay on track.

3. Keep up with Google.

Why?

Google likes to make changes to its algorithm as much as certain pop singers like to change boyfriends. But all of them are made to improve user experience, which is a good thing — it helps searchers discover the best content for what they’re seeking.

This year, we challenge you to really keep up with those changes. That doesn’t just mean staying on top of news about the latest changes. It also means keeping your content at the highest quality to make Google’s algorithm happy, which means more people will be able to find you. Win-win.

How?

Consider reorganizing your content library into content clusters since SEO is evolving to favor topics over keywords, according to Matthew Barby, global head of growth and SEO at HubSpot. That will help you harness more search traffic, because you’ll have a larger pool of relevant keywords and phrases to be discovered.

In general, it’s a good idea to regularly revisit and refresh your content strategy, too. Not only does it prevent your content from getting stale, but it also helps you to keep up with what people are searching for, which in turn will help you keep pace with Google.

Helpful Resources

4. Improve your design skills.

Why?

In case you haven’t heard, visual content is a pretty big deal in marketing. For one thing, it’s 40X more likely to be shared on social media. Plus, when a relevant image is paired with information, people retain 55% more of that information after three days.

But quality visual content goes beyond a Google image search or stock photography. At the same time, however, not everyone has an ample design budget. For that reason, we believe that 2017 is the year for you to master some design skills. That will allow you to create the content yourself — or, if you do have a bigger budget, learn to better communicate with contractors and agencies that create it for you.

How?

These days, learning a new skill has become its own industry. Never before have there been so many online resources — many of which are either free or relatively inexpensive — to self-educate. And many of them are available outside of the classroom, like on YouTube how-to videos, Coursera, or Khan Academy.

If your company has something like a tuition reimbursement program, here’s a great opportunity to take advantage of that benefit. Many community colleges offer design courses, some of which are taught in the evenings. Do a local search for these classes in your area, and find out what’s available — it might not be too late to enroll for the next semester.

Helpful Resources

5. Take breaks.

Why?

Despite 90% of employers encouraging breaks, it seems that only 45% of us are okay with taking them.

So what’s with the other 55%? It turns out that we’re too guilty to leave our desks for prolonged breaks — we’re afraid that it’ll make us look less productive, or take away time that could be used to get work done.

But it turns out that the opposite is true. In fact, the top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. There’s tremendous value in breaks, and we could all stand to benefit from them.

How?

When we’re “in the zone,” so to speak, it’s easy to forget to come up for air. That’s why I take the advice of that top 10%, and actually put reminders in my calendar to take a 17-minute break every 52 minutes.

During those 17 minutes, I completely step away from work — no email, no work-related calls, and whenever possible, no sneak peeks at my phone. And during those 52 minutes of work? That’s your time for hyper focus. Close those tabs that you have open to check social media — unless you’re using it for work, that is — and remind yourself that there’s a break coming.

Helpful Resources

6. Listen to one podcast per week.

Why?

Podcasting is a thriving mini-industry. It’s no wonder — listening to podcasts is a great way to learn something new without it being a direct skill you are mastering.

That’s true from an early age, which is why many teachers are also incorporating podcasts into their lesson plans. In fact, one English teacher found that assigning the Serial podcast to his students helped them pay more attention to the written word. While listening to any given episode, he reported that their eyes became affixed to its written transcript. In other words, it seemed the auditory version of a story aided their ability to process accompanying written content.

And maybe that’s why the popularity of podcast-based lesson plans increased by a whopping 650% in 2015 — the year after Serial first launched. It’s not just that podcasts themselves are tremendously informative (which they are). As it turns out, they might even enhance your skills in other areas, too.

How?

A simple app download can go a long way when you’re aiming to discover more valuable podcasts. We particularly like Stitcher, which catalogs over 65,000 podcasts and allows you to curate your own listening collection, depending on your subject interests. Whether you’re looking to become a better marketer or a better cook, chances are, there’s a podcast out there that can help.

Helpful Resources

7. Ask for help.

Why?

Back in 2014, Care.com took a survey of working mothers that was quite eye-opening. Among the more surprising findings was one about the concept of asking for help — something that 29% of respondents felt guilty about doing, especially when it came to things at home.

At the same time, however, 79% also felt like they were falling behind at work, and 75% saw an overall reduction in stress when they did enlist help.

These numbers go beyond working mothers, however. It seems that there’s an epidemic of fear when it comes to asking for help at work. Many of us sense that asking questions about an assignment, for example, will make us look like we weren’t paying attention, or aren’t as smart as our peers thought. But when we don’t ask questions, we’re actually setting ourselves up for failure, by forcing completion of a task without all of the necessary information.

How?

This resolution is one that actually begins with management. On my very first day at HubSpot, my boss said something to me that I will never forget: “I’ll help you with whatever you ask me for help with. The most successful people ask for help when they need it!”

If you’re a manager, think about how often your team is asking for your help. If you’re not receiving a lot of questions, you might want to send a similar message. By setting that tone, your team is aware that it’s okay if they don’t know everything.

And on the flip side, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s more likely than not that the person you need it from is happy to answer your questions.

Helpful Resources

8. Embrace emerging technology.

Why?

This year, we’ve written a lot about types of technology that, from the top-down, are still emerging — things like artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and virtual/augmented reality.

When we cover this technology, we like to think about trends that were emerging only a few years ago that ultimately left those who ignored them far behind in their marketing strategies. After all, social media was once an emerging trend — imagine what happened to those who wrote it off as merely shiny and new.

That’s why we constantly encourage marketers to not only embrace emerging technology, but to also truly invest the resources to learn about them and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly.

How?

You can always tune in here, as we bring you our take on the latest in these topics. But beyond that, we encourage you to approach the type of content that scares you, and that you might unconsciously stray from because the subject matter seems overwhelming. (Hey, we’ve all been there — present company included.)

In the meantime, check out some of what we’ve already covered below.

Helpful Resources

9. Use your vacation time.

Why?

Believe it or not, there’s a phenomenon out there known as “vacation shaming” — the act of being made to feel guilty about going on vacation by managers, colleagues, or ourselves. No wonder 47% of us feel shame or guilt at work for taking time off — it’s mostly because we’re afraid it’ll make us look less dedicated.

That’s actually not how it works at all. It turns out that taking time off actually makes us more productive. In fact, in regions where people tend to take more vacation — like Brazil and Sweden, where paid time off is mandatory — employees tend to bring greater urgency to their work. That’s probably because, according to the Harvard Business Review, “spending less time at your desk forces you to waste less time.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

How?

Vacation aiding productivity echoes the research done about how breaks help us at work. The biggest requirement is planning. Have a look at your calendar, and figure out when you’ll be the busiest. Are there certain weeks when you’ll have a little more time to get ahead? Those are good pre-vacation weeks, since they’ll allow you to increase your output before you head out.

Here’s where that resolution to ask for help can be put to use, too. In addition to planning your own workload, ask the same of your colleagues. If there are certain weeks when they’re able to fill in on your behalf, that might be a good time for you to plan a vacation. But that goes both ways — make sure they’re aware of when you’re available to pitch in, too.

Helpful Resources

10. Read more.

Why?

The most successful people never stop learning. There’s a reason why 70% of adults in professional or managerial roles continue their education — it’s one of the best ways to keep up with industry trends, learn from experts, and get the creative juices flowing.

One of the best ways to do that outside of a classroom is to read what others are writing about. Reading more might even help you become a better writer, and exploring external content helps you to gain different perspectives of vital issues, whether they’re of personal or professional interest.

How?

The tough thing is, since there’s so much content out there, you have to be discerning to find the really good stuff. To start, three places where content quality stays high are Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, and Slate. (Don’t be afraid to pay for top-tier content, by the way. There’s a reason it costs money, and it’s often well worth it.)

You’ll want to spend time reading more niche or industry-specific content, too. To make it easier to read them all, look for applications that let you read all your favorites all in one place, like Feedly.

Helpful Resources

11. Move to the next level of your career.

Why?

“Next” can mean different things for different people — changing your title, getting more responsibilities, gaining more authority in your industry, or starting your own business. Whatever it is, start now — it could take longer than the next year to fully accomplish it.

Don’t let that scare you out of it, though. If you don’t start moving forward now, it’s easy to keep putting it off. Even if you’re happy in your current professional situation, we’ve outlined many reasons in this post to continue learning, or at least add to your success with new goals and accomplishments.

How?

When it comes to big, life-changing moves, planning is fundamental. If your goal is really monstrous, try breaking it into a year-over-year plan, and using the first year’s plan as the basis for your resolutions.

But if you’re simply looking to grow and accomplish more, there are smaller steps that you can take this year. Jumping on opportunities to share your skills with others, for example, can enhance your career, especially if you do so through public speaking engagements. These aren’t just beneficial for your audience — they provide a great way to present yourself as an expert, increase your visibility both online and offline, and build your personal brand. Plus, getting your name out there in the context of your job is beneficial for your company, too.

Talk with your manager about opportunities your company can introduce, like local meet-ups or conferences. You could also get in touch with a university and offer a guest lecture — after all, there’s something very rewarding about inspiring future talent.

Helpful Resources

Show Your Resolve

There you have it. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be quite so flighty, or involve gyms and special diets. They can help you become a better employee, and to continue learning and improving, no matter where you are in your career.

That said, do what works for you. We wouldn’t expect anyone to try to tackle all of these resolutions. Depending on where you are in life, some might be more feasible and practical than others. Think about your priorities, and choose from there.

From our team to yours, Happy New Year. We can’t wait to hear about how you put these resolutions to work.

If you’re anything like I am, you have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions.

It seems like a natural time to make important changes. It’s like a universal pressing of the “reset” button. Maybe that’s why 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions in the first place. But here’s the thing — only 9.2% of us are successful in achieving them.

We suspect it has something to do with the nature of the resolutions themselves — which seem, much to our joy, to be evolving. Lasy year, for instance, we reported that according to a study by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top 10 resolutions of 2015 included things like losing weight and falling in love.

And while this year’s top 10 resolutions, according to a survey conducted by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, are similar — “self improvements,” “find the love of my life” — we noticed a new one on the list: “Learn something new on my own.”

Why do we love that resolution so much? Because it’s something that can help you become better at what you do every day.

That’s the challenge we posted last year: to come up with and stick to professional New Year’s resolutions — things that will make you more creative, productive, and generally more content at work.

Short on ideas? Here are 11 of ours to help you get started, along with resources to help you actually accomplish them.

1. Designate an electronics-free zone.

Why?

Our bodies are smarter than you might think. They’re trained to respond to light and dark, which according to the National Sleep Foundation send us important signals, like the time of day. Those signals also aid our bodies in adjusting our circadian rhythms — that’s the handy 24-hour physiological cycle that helps us fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.

All of that is pretty cool … until screens are added to the equation. Our brains recognize the brightness from phones, computer monitors, and even TVs as external light, which sends the signal that we should be awake. That’s why it’s harder for so many of us to fall asleep when we’re exposed to too much screen time at night. The verdict? Put the devices down before bed.

How?

At INBOUND 2013, Arianna Huffington — who later went on to pen The Sleep Revolution — gave some great advice regarding the sleep/screen conundrum: Ban electronics from your bedroom for good.

“I never take devices to bed,” she said. “iPads, iPhones, Blackberries — I don’t charge them near my bed, because I feel it’s imperative to be able to have uninterrupted renewal time.”

This habit is a tough one to break, and it’s one that I’ve personally been working on for years. So if you like to watch movies or shows on your computer before bed, for example, I can relate — these are the mindless things that help us unwind at the end of the day. Luckily, there are solutions to help you resolve the problem for good, some of which might still allow you to indulge in your evening TV viewing.

Helpful Resources

We’d encourage you to ditch the electronics completely before bed. Instead, try reading, journaling, or maybe even a few minutes of yoga. And if you absolutely cannot part with your electronics:

  • Try downloading a desktop app that reduces your screen’s blue light as the day progresses — that’s the kind emitted from most electronics and is often cited as the culprit for sleep loss. We recommend f.lux, which adjusts your screen’s blue light depending on the time of day, or the similar filter from PC Sun Screen.
  • Plus, the latest iPhone OS now comes with a “night shift” mode, which accomplishes the same thing after sunset.

2. Write something every day.

Why?

Sadly, the decreasing quality of writing in the U.S. has been making headlines for a while now. And people want to become better writers — they just have trouble investing the necessary time.

But it’s an important skill. And if you’re going to be blogging regularly — which we recommend you do — the writing needs to be good.

If you want to become a better writer, then you need to write a lot. The way to improve that skill is the same way you’d approach any other — with practice.

It’s the same advice we give to people who want to blog more consistently (another worthy New Year’s resolution) which is to treat it like working out. You’ve got to do it consistently to see great results. After all, you can’t just publish a blog once every few months and expect to rack up views, leads, and customers. The same goes for your overall writing skills.

How?

To start, get into the habit of writing on a daily basis. Neil Patel suggests writing for at least 30 minutes every workday, skipping the weekends. Remember the advice we just gave to journal before bed, instead of looking at a screen? Here’s a great way to put that time to use.

And even if you don’t identify as a writer, pick a question — something from a customer, a friend, or a topic that’s always piqued your curiosity — and write something about it. Or, just write nonsense. It’s the habit of writing regularly that’s important, especially in the beginning.

Helpful Resources

When we encourage people to write more, one of the most common objections is, “I have nothing to say.” We profoundly disagree, and thought that these tools might help to generate some ideas:

  • Daily Page: Emails you a writing prompt every morning, and you have the rest of the day to write your response. Once you’ve written your response to the prompt, you can either share it or keep it private.
  • 750 Words: Encourages you to write 750 words per day about anything you want. It gamifies writing by giving you points for writing at all, for writing 750 words or more, and for writing on a consistent basis.
  • Twords: Calls itself “the app that nudges you to write.” It notifies you when you haven’t written in a while so you can keep yourself accountable — and even gives you the option to connect with others who will help you stay on track.

3. Keep up with Google.

Why?

Google likes to make changes to its algorithm as much as certain pop singers like to change boyfriends. But all of them are made to improve user experience, which is a good thing — it helps searchers discover the best content for what they’re seeking.

This year, we challenge you to really keep up with those changes. That doesn’t just mean staying on top of news about the latest changes. It also means keeping your content at the highest quality to make Google’s algorithm happy, which means more people will be able to find you. Win-win.

How?

Consider reorganizing your content library into content clusters since SEO is evolving to favor topics over keywords, according to Matthew Barby, global head of growth and SEO at HubSpot. That will help you harness more search traffic, because you’ll have a larger pool of relevant keywords and phrases to be discovered.

In general, it’s a good idea to regularly revisit and refresh your content strategy, too. Not only does it prevent your content from getting stale, but it also helps you to keep up with what people are searching for, which in turn will help you keep pace with Google.

Helpful Resources

4. Improve your design skills.

Why?

In case you haven’t heard, visual content is a pretty big deal in marketing. For one thing, it’s 40X more likely to be shared on social media. Plus, when a relevant image is paired with information, people retain 55% more of that information after three days.

But quality visual content goes beyond a Google image search or stock photography. At the same time, however, not everyone has an ample design budget. For that reason, we believe that 2017 is the year for you to master some design skills. That will allow you to create the content yourself — or, if you do have a bigger budget, learn to better communicate with contractors and agencies that create it for you.

How?

These days, learning a new skill has become its own industry. Never before have there been so many online resources — many of which are either free or relatively inexpensive — to self-educate. And many of them are available outside of the classroom, like on YouTube how-to videos, Coursera, or Khan Academy.

If your company has something like a tuition reimbursement program, here’s a great opportunity to take advantage of that benefit. Many community colleges offer design courses, some of which are taught in the evenings. Do a local search for these classes in your area, and find out what’s available — it might not be too late to enroll for the next semester.

Helpful Resources

5. Take breaks.

Why?

Despite 90% of employers encouraging breaks, it seems that only 45% of us are okay with taking them.

So what’s with the other 55%? It turns out that we’re too guilty to leave our desks for prolonged breaks — we’re afraid that it’ll make us look less productive, or take away time that could be used to get work done.

But it turns out that the opposite is true. In fact, the top 10% most productive employees take 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work they put in. There’s tremendous value in breaks, and we could all stand to benefit from them.

How?

When we’re “in the zone,” so to speak, it’s easy to forget to come up for air. That’s why I take the advice of that top 10%, and actually put reminders in my calendar to take a 17-minute break every 52 minutes.

During those 17 minutes, I completely step away from work — no email, no work-related calls, and whenever possible, no sneak peeks at my phone. And during those 52 minutes of work? That’s your time for hyper focus. Close those tabs that you have open to check social media — unless you’re using it for work, that is — and remind yourself that there’s a break coming.

Helpful Resources

6. Listen to one podcast per week.

Why?

Podcasting is a thriving mini-industry. It’s no wonder — listening to podcasts is a great way to learn something new without it being a direct skill you are mastering.

That’s true from an early age, which is why many teachers are also incorporating podcasts into their lesson plans. In fact, one English teacher found that assigning the Serial podcast to his students helped them pay more attention to the written word. While listening to any given episode, he reported that their eyes became affixed to its written transcript. In other words, it seemed the auditory version of a story aided their ability to process accompanying written content.

And maybe that’s why the popularity of podcast-based lesson plans increased by a whopping 650% in 2015 — the year after Serial first launched. It’s not just that podcasts themselves are tremendously informative (which they are). As it turns out, they might even enhance your skills in other areas, too.

How?

A simple app download can go a long way when you’re aiming to discover more valuable podcasts. We particularly like Stitcher, which catalogs over 65,000 podcasts and allows you to curate your own listening collection, depending on your subject interests. Whether you’re looking to become a better marketer or a better cook, chances are, there’s a podcast out there that can help.

Helpful Resources

7. Ask for help.

Why?

Back in 2014, Care.com took a survey of working mothers that was quite eye-opening. Among the more surprising findings was one about the concept of asking for help — something that 29% of respondents felt guilty about doing, especially when it came to things at home.

At the same time, however, 79% also felt like they were falling behind at work, and 75% saw an overall reduction in stress when they did enlist help.

These numbers go beyond working mothers, however. It seems that there’s an epidemic of fear when it comes to asking for help at work. Many of us sense that asking questions about an assignment, for example, will make us look like we weren’t paying attention, or aren’t as smart as our peers thought. But when we don’t ask questions, we’re actually setting ourselves up for failure, by forcing completion of a task without all of the necessary information.

How?

This resolution is one that actually begins with management. On my very first day at HubSpot, my boss said something to me that I will never forget: “I’ll help you with whatever you ask me for help with. The most successful people ask for help when they need it!”

If you’re a manager, think about how often your team is asking for your help. If you’re not receiving a lot of questions, you might want to send a similar message. By setting that tone, your team is aware that it’s okay if they don’t know everything.

And on the flip side, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s more likely than not that the person you need it from is happy to answer your questions.

Helpful Resources

8. Embrace emerging technology.

Why?

This year, we’ve written a lot about types of technology that, from the top-down, are still emerging — things like artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and virtual/augmented reality.

When we cover this technology, we like to think about trends that were emerging only a few years ago that ultimately left those who ignored them far behind in their marketing strategies. After all, social media was once an emerging trend — imagine what happened to those who wrote it off as merely shiny and new.

That’s why we constantly encourage marketers to not only embrace emerging technology, but to also truly invest the resources to learn about them and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly.

How?

You can always tune in here, as we bring you our take on the latest in these topics. But beyond that, we encourage you to approach the type of content that scares you, and that you might unconsciously stray from because the subject matter seems overwhelming. (Hey, we’ve all been there — present company included.)

In the meantime, check out some of what we’ve already covered below.

Helpful Resources

9. Use your vacation time.

Why?

Believe it or not, there’s a phenomenon out there known as “vacation shaming” — the act of being made to feel guilty about going on vacation by managers, colleagues, or ourselves. No wonder 47% of us feel shame or guilt at work for taking time off — it’s mostly because we’re afraid it’ll make us look less dedicated.

That’s actually not how it works at all. It turns out that taking time off actually makes us more productive. In fact, in regions where people tend to take more vacation — like Brazil and Sweden, where paid time off is mandatory — employees tend to bring greater urgency to their work. That’s probably because, according to the Harvard Business Review, “spending less time at your desk forces you to waste less time.” Makes sense, doesn’t it?

How?

Vacation aiding productivity echoes the research done about how breaks help us at work. The biggest requirement is planning. Have a look at your calendar, and figure out when you’ll be the busiest. Are there certain weeks when you’ll have a little more time to get ahead? Those are good pre-vacation weeks, since they’ll allow you to increase your output before you head out.

Here’s where that resolution to ask for help can be put to use, too. In addition to planning your own workload, ask the same of your colleagues. If there are certain weeks when they’re able to fill in on your behalf, that might be a good time for you to plan a vacation. But that goes both ways — make sure they’re aware of when you’re available to pitch in, too.

Helpful Resources

10. Read more.

Why?

The most successful people never stop learning. There’s a reason why 70% of adults in professional or managerial roles continue their education — it’s one of the best ways to keep up with industry trends, learn from experts, and get the creative juices flowing.

One of the best ways to do that outside of a classroom is to read what others are writing about. Reading more might even help you become a better writer, and exploring external content helps you to gain different perspectives of vital issues, whether they’re of personal or professional interest.

How?

The tough thing is, since there’s so much content out there, you have to be discerning to find the really good stuff. To start, three places where content quality stays high are Harvard Business Review, the New York Times, and Slate. (Don’t be afraid to pay for top-tier content, by the way. There’s a reason it costs money, and it’s often well worth it.)

You’ll want to spend time reading more niche or industry-specific content, too. To make it easier to read them all, look for applications that let you read all your favorites all in one place, like Feedly.

Helpful Resources

11. Move to the next level of your career.

Why?

“Next” can mean different things for different people — changing your title, getting more responsibilities, gaining more authority in your industry, or starting your own business. Whatever it is, start now — it could take longer than the next year to fully accomplish it.

Don’t let that scare you out of it, though. If you don’t start moving forward now, it’s easy to keep putting it off. Even if you’re happy in your current professional situation, we’ve outlined many reasons in this post to continue learning, or at least add to your success with new goals and accomplishments.

How?

When it comes to big, life-changing moves, planning is fundamental. If your goal is really monstrous, try breaking it into a year-over-year plan, and using the first year’s plan as the basis for your resolutions.

But if you’re simply looking to grow and accomplish more, there are smaller steps that you can take this year. Jumping on opportunities to share your skills with others, for example, can enhance your career, especially if you do so through public speaking engagements. These aren’t just beneficial for your audience — they provide a great way to present yourself as an expert, increase your visibility both online and offline, and build your personal brand. Plus, getting your name out there in the context of your job is beneficial for your company, too.

Talk with your manager about opportunities your company can introduce, like local meet-ups or conferences. You could also get in touch with a university and offer a guest lecture — after all, there’s something very rewarding about inspiring future talent.

Helpful Resources

Show Your Resolve

There you have it. New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be quite so flighty, or involve gyms and special diets. They can help you become a better employee, and to continue learning and improving, no matter where you are in your career.

That said, do what works for you. We wouldn’t expect anyone to try to tackle all of these resolutions. Depending on where you are in life, some might be more feasible and practical than others. Think about your priorities, and choose from there.

From our team to yours, Happy New Year. We can’t wait to hear about how you put these resolutions to work.

Here Are the 7 Top Tech Trends to Watch in 2018, According to CES

The first Media Day of CES 2018 kicked off in Las Vegas today, rich with presentations from exhibitors on what’s to come in tech in the foreseeable — and at times, somewhat distant — future.

But on a higher level, core industry trends and patterns were presented today at the 2018 Tech Trends to Watch session, given by the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) senior manager of market research Lesley Rohrbaugh, as well as senior director of market research Steve Koenig.

I’ll be here all week to bring you the latest announcements from this year’s sessions and events. For now, here’s a look at the trends I anticipate hearing — and learning — all about.

1. 5G

5G is a type of wireless technology that you may have heard about in recent headlines — such as Verizon selecting Samsung as the provider for its 5G commercial launch.

One reason why it’s such a big deal is that it will result in higher wireless speeds, capacities, and lower latency — which generally means that there will be far fewer delays or “technical hesitancies” in some of the things it powers, like wireless VR or autonomous vehicles.

IMG_1866.jpg

That benefit is two-fold. Not only does it enrich a user experience when it comes to something like AR or VR by providing higher data rates, but it’s also practical for safety — which is where the latency piece comes in.

As Koenig explains, one of the key pieces of autonomous driving technology safety is the ability for it to independently make operational decisions — quickly, and perhaps more seamlessly than a human driver could.

But just how fast is 5G? During the presentation, the example of a two-hour movie download was used. On a 3G network, for example, that would take 26 hours. On 4G, it would be lowered to six minutes. But on 5G, it’s lowered to 3.6 seconds.

2. Artificial Intelligence

We’ve talked a lot about this one, and it came up in some of the major press events of 2017.

A considerable amount of attention will be paid to the role of AI in digital personal assistants, which plays into the smart home sector. There, AI technology like machine learning lends itself to the ability to recognize user preferences and behavioral patterns.

Smart speakers, for example, were named as some of the heaviest hitters in the CTA’s Consumer Tech Industry Forecast, with a predicted revenue of $3.8 billion (an increase of 93%), and 43.6 million units sold (+60%).

Within this realm, AI also plays a major part in autonomous driving capabilities — especially when it comes to sensory perception (like objects in the vehicle’s path), data processing, and action. That, too, was a key piece in the industry forecast, with $15.9 billion revenue predicted, or 6% growth.

What’s next? Two key things to come were identified, the first being conversations with context — like machines carrying on conversations with humans with better natural language processing, to make it more like the way we speak to each other.

The second is the ability of AI to build trust and reduce bias with users — which, when executed successfully, can help AI systems do things like explain why it makes certain recommendations of actions or content.

3. Robotics

Robotics, in this context, seemed to play the biggest role in consumer electronics — which seems fitting, seeing as CES is largely about the newest technology in that sector.

The speakers seemed to take a particular interest in Kuri, a robot that was described as a “family friend” that can “capture life’s moments automatically using face recognition.” It’s a bit nostalgic of the Google Clips photo technology announced last fall, which boasts allowing users to spend more time in the moment, rather than taking the perfect picture, with similar recognition technology.

The event also shed light on Honda’s robots, which are engineered around what it calls its “3E Philosophy,” built on the pillars of empowerment, experience, and empathy. It reflected a pattern of working to incorporate more empathy into robotics — like Kuri, these would be moving, speaking computers with feelings.

4. Voice: The Fourth Sales Channel

The CTA’s research has shown that one in four shoppers used voice assistants in their holiday shopping during the 2017 season.

Here’s an area where marketers can use the rise in smart speaker sales (and its anticipated continued growth) to their advantage. Voice assistance and technology are becoming larger parts of a brand’s identity — an area of opportunity for those who have not yet begun to leverage it as such.

So, how can marketers do that? I recommend looking into ways to merge your brand with voice assistants and see how you can create content exclusively for that medium — for example, something like building a custom, branded skill for Amazon Echo.

5. Facal Recognition on the Go

From the iPhone X Face ID technology to your car being able to recognize your eyes and nose, our faces are playing a greater role in helping our devices recognize us and capture our preferences — anytime, anywhere. And, it seems, we’re becoming more comfortable with it.

According to the CTA’s research, users have a growing amount of trust in this technology being used for such personal data as medical information. But it’s also often a matter of convenience — as a video shown later in the day by NVIDIA indicated, face recogniton can be used by smart vehicles to recognize its owners for unlocking doors, opening trunks, and more.

All of these patterns are reflected in the anticipated uptick for in-vehicle technology — revenues this year are predicted to reach $15.9 billion, which is a 6% increase.

Source: CTA

6. Virtual Reality

VR isn’t exactly a new trend, but what I’ll be keeping our eyes on is the newest use cases for it.

Content, it’s predicted, is where the most noticeable change and evolution will take place, especially when it comes to creating immersive experiences for brand awareness.

Where once this technology was almost exclusively used to tell a story for the purpose of entertainment, businesses and organizations are now presented with an opportunity to leverage VR for commercial purposes — like shopping, for example, or a deeper look inside what helps a business run and create its products or services.

Augmented Reality (AR) is further working its way into the B2C space, as we enter the era of what was called “AR for all.” There have been several consumer-oriented use cases from brands like Ikea and Wayfair — using the technology for things like home decor — as well as demonstrations on how it enhances a gaming experience from both Apple and Google.

But AR first made a name for itself in the B2B sector — largely for purposes related to trade shows and enhancing information delivery to analysts. And as it continues to grow its presence within the consumer sector, I don’t anticipate it leaving B2B behind. As the technology improves, many of the purposes it was originally used for will also continue to evolve, presenting an opportunity for business-facing marketers.

7. Smart Cities

From self-driving pizza delivery vehicles (seriously — this is a thing) to environment and energy usage, smart cities are where society and technology intersect.

While Smart Cities fill a new enough category that their roles in marketing remain fairly open-ended, they do present an opportunity for brands looking to increase their roles in the community — especially where technology is concerned.

One of the best cases for the growth of Smart Cities, for example, is how they will work to bolster public safety and services — something that cannot happen without the cooperation of the market, organizations, and regional leadership.

By exploring where their own organizations fit into the ecosystem of a Smart Cities, marketers can work ahead of the curve by looking for ways their brands can actively support and contribute to a Smart City, thus playing a larger role in what remains, for now, an emerging trend.

As always, I’m open to your take on these trends. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and questions on Twitter.

The first Media Day of CES 2018 kicked off in Las Vegas today, rich with presentations from exhibitors on what’s to come in tech in the foreseeable — and at times, somewhat distant — future.

But on a higher level, core industry trends and patterns were presented today at the 2018 Tech Trends to Watch session, given by the Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) senior manager of market research Lesley Rohrbaugh, as well as senior director of market research Steve Koenig.

I’ll be here all week to bring you the latest announcements from this year’s sessions and events. For now, here’s a look at the trends I anticipate hearing — and learning — all about.

1. 5G

5G is a type of wireless technology that you may have heard about in recent headlines — such as Verizon selecting Samsung as the provider for its 5G commercial launch.

One reason why it’s such a big deal is that it will result in higher wireless speeds, capacities, and lower latency — which generally means that there will be far fewer delays or “technical hesitancies” in some of the things it powers, like wireless VR or autonomous vehicles.

IMG_1866.jpg

That benefit is two-fold. Not only does it enrich a user experience when it comes to something like AR or VR by providing higher data rates, but it’s also practical for safety — which is where the latency piece comes in.

As Koenig explains, one of the key pieces of autonomous driving technology safety is the ability for it to independently make operational decisions — quickly, and perhaps more seamlessly than a human driver could.

But just how fast is 5G? During the presentation, the example of a two-hour movie download was used. On a 3G network, for example, that would take 26 hours. On 4G, it would be lowered to six minutes. But on 5G, it’s lowered to 3.6 seconds.

2. Artificial Intelligence

We’ve talked a lot about this one, and it came up in some of the major press events of 2017.

A considerable amount of attention will be paid to the role of AI in digital personal assistants, which plays into the smart home sector. There, AI technology like machine learning lends itself to the ability to recognize user preferences and behavioral patterns.

Smart speakers, for example, were named as some of the heaviest hitters in the CTA’s Consumer Tech Industry Forecast, with a predicted revenue of $3.8 billion (an increase of 93%), and 43.6 million units sold (+60%).

Within this realm, AI also plays a major part in autonomous driving capabilities — especially when it comes to sensory perception (like objects in the vehicle’s path), data processing, and action. That, too, was a key piece in the industry forecast, with $15.9 billion revenue predicted, or 6% growth.

What’s next? Two key things to come were identified, the first being conversations with context — like machines carrying on conversations with humans with better natural language processing, to make it more like the way we speak to each other.

The second is the ability of AI to build trust and reduce bias with users — which, when executed successfully, can help AI systems do things like explain why it makes certain recommendations of actions or content.

3. Robotics

Robotics, in this context, seemed to play the biggest role in consumer electronics — which seems fitting, seeing as CES is largely about the newest technology in that sector.

The speakers seemed to take a particular interest in Kuri, a robot that was described as a “family friend” that can “capture life’s moments automatically using face recognition.” It’s a bit nostalgic of the Google Clips photo technology announced last fall, which boasts allowing users to spend more time in the moment, rather than taking the perfect picture, with similar recognition technology.

The event also shed light on Honda’s robots, which are engineered around what it calls its “3E Philosophy,” built on the pillars of empowerment, experience, and empathy. It reflected a pattern of working to incorporate more empathy into robotics — like Kuri, these would be moving, speaking computers with feelings.

4. Voice: The Fourth Sales Channel

The CTA’s research has shown that one in four shoppers used voice assistants in their holiday shopping during the 2017 season.

Here’s an area where marketers can use the rise in smart speaker sales (and its anticipated continued growth) to their advantage. Voice assistance and technology are becoming larger parts of a brand’s identity — an area of opportunity for those who have not yet begun to leverage it as such.

So, how can marketers do that? I recommend looking into ways to merge your brand with voice assistants and see how you can create content exclusively for that medium — for example, something like building a custom, branded skill for Amazon Echo.

5. Facal Recognition on the Go

From the iPhone X Face ID technology to your car being able to recognize your eyes and nose, our faces are playing a greater role in helping our devices recognize us and capture our preferences — anytime, anywhere. And, it seems, we’re becoming more comfortable with it.

According to the CTA’s research, users have a growing amount of trust in this technology being used for such personal data as medical information. But it’s also often a matter of convenience — as a video shown later in the day by NVIDIA indicated, face recogniton can be used by smart vehicles to recognize its owners for unlocking doors, opening trunks, and more.

All of these patterns are reflected in the anticipated uptick for in-vehicle technology — revenues this year are predicted to reach $15.9 billion, which is a 6% increase.

Source: CTA

6. Virtual Reality

VR isn’t exactly a new trend, but what I’ll be keeping our eyes on is the newest use cases for it.

Content, it’s predicted, is where the most noticeable change and evolution will take place, especially when it comes to creating immersive experiences for brand awareness.

Where once this technology was almost exclusively used to tell a story for the purpose of entertainment, businesses and organizations are now presented with an opportunity to leverage VR for commercial purposes — like shopping, for example, or a deeper look inside what helps a business run and create its products or services.

Augmented Reality (AR) is further working its way into the B2C space, as we enter the era of what was called “AR for all.” There have been several consumer-oriented use cases from brands like Ikea and Wayfair — using the technology for things like home decor — as well as demonstrations on how it enhances a gaming experience from both Apple and Google.

But AR first made a name for itself in the B2B sector — largely for purposes related to trade shows and enhancing information delivery to analysts. And as it continues to grow its presence within the consumer sector, I don’t anticipate it leaving B2B behind. As the technology improves, many of the purposes it was originally used for will also continue to evolve, presenting an opportunity for business-facing marketers.

7. Smart Cities

From self-driving pizza delivery vehicles (seriously — this is a thing) to environment and energy usage, smart cities are where society and technology intersect.

While Smart Cities fill a new enough category that their roles in marketing remain fairly open-ended, they do present an opportunity for brands looking to increase their roles in the community — especially where technology is concerned.

One of the best cases for the growth of Smart Cities, for example, is how they will work to bolster public safety and services — something that cannot happen without the cooperation of the market, organizations, and regional leadership.

By exploring where their own organizations fit into the ecosystem of a Smart Cities, marketers can work ahead of the curve by looking for ways their brands can actively support and contribute to a Smart City, thus playing a larger role in what remains, for now, an emerging trend.

As always, I’m open to your take on these trends. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts and questions on Twitter.

What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018

Who wants to 10x their revenue? Okay. You can put your hand down. Of course, you want to 10x your revenue this year. Everyone wants to. But I don’t mean to discredit that goal. It’s a worthy undertaking — one that should be at the top of every serious marketer’s list. However, like many dreams … Continue reading “What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018”

The post What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018 appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

Who wants to 10x their revenue? Okay. You can put your hand down. Of course, you want to 10x your revenue this year. Everyone wants to. But I don’t mean to discredit that goal. It’s a worthy undertaking — one that should be at the top of every serious marketer’s list. However, like many dreams … Continue reading “What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018”

The post What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018 appeared first on Wicked Baron's Emporium.

What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018


increase revenue with conversion studies

Who wants to 10x their revenue?

Okay. You can put your hand down.

Of course, you want to 10x your revenue this year. Everyone wants to.

But I don’t mean to discredit that goal. It’s a worthy undertaking — one that should be at the top of every serious marketer’s list.

However, like many dreams and ambitions, 10x-ing your revenue is far easier said than done.

While many people want to 10x their revenue, few will actually accomplish doing so.

Fortunately, you’re here to learn how you can pull it off.

And the trick revolves around optimizing your website for conversion.

If more people convert, that directly impacts your revenue.

Sadly, conversion rates often sit at just a few measly percentage points.

Email is at 4%, search and direct at 3%, and social isn’t quite at 2%.

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Those numbers can discourage even the most hard-headed marketer.

And the picture is similarly discouraging when you look at conversion rate by referring source.

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Or conversion rate by platform.

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In all of these cases, you’re lucky to see a conversion rate that sits around 4% and more likely to see one that sits around 2% on average.

I know. That’s not very promising.

But you needed to hear it.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can talk about how you’re not going to fall victim to those cruddy averages.

Instead, you’re going to learn from nine studies that explain how you can increase your conversion rate and 10x your revenue.

The studies are timeless, and for that reason, it’s important for you to be aware of them in 2018.

Here they are.

1. Save money to make money

Maybe you already know this. But one of the best ways to make money is to save more money.

If you can spend less on your marketing campaigns and generate the same effect, then that can work wonders to increase your profitability.

In fact, the first timeless conversion study we’re going to look at is one done by AdEspresso.

They analyzed the correlation between cost-per-click, click-through rate, and relevance score on Facebook Ads.

The result?

They found that as the relevance score goes up, so too does click-through rate. And the cost per click goes down.

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In other words, a higher relevance score on your Facebook Ads saves you money and makes you money simultaneously.

And you don’t just make money because you’re spending less — you make money because you get a higher click-through rate.

This truth is similar to your PPC ads quality score.

As the quality score increases, the average cost per conversion goes down.

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Which means it costs you less to gain new customers.

That’s an AdWords win for any marketer.

Although it’s easy to neglect the quality score and relevance score, those numbers are great indicators of how much you’re spending and how much you’re making.

Focus additional time and energy on increasing those scores if you are serious about 10x-ing your revenue in 2018.

To do that, target specific buyer personas to ensure that you understand your ideal customer.

And always, always, always A/B test your advertisements. This will help you determine which ads perform well, which ones don’t, and then iterate upon the best.

That’s a quick recipe for increasing quality and relevance scores for your paid advertisements.

If you want to make more money, you have to save more money.

2. Use review stars

Golden five-point stars are the bane of some marketers and the wealth of others.

Allowing reviews on different platforms is a great way to swiftly hurt your business if you have a bad product or help your business if you have a great product.

But, generally speaking, those reviews help rather than hurt.

If for nothing else, simply because they allow customers to openly express their opinions about your product.

Which, in turn, increases the amount of trust people feel willing to place in your business.

As proof, consider the original study done by ConversionXL, where they tracked the correlation between click-through rate and review stars in Google results.

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You’ve seen these results on Google before, haven’t you?

The ones with the review stars. Some results have them. Others don’t.

Of course, Google isn’t the only place where these five-pointed conversion helpers live. They live on Amazon, a variety of e-commerce websites, and even on SaaS platforms.

Everyone is using reviews to increase their conversion rate.

And for good reason.

ConversionXL even ran a heatmap during the study to determine how people were interacting with the SERP.

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Their results?

They saw a 35% boost in click-through rate for results with star reviews with a 97% chance that review stars will have a higher CTR than its review-less counterpart.

If that doesn’t convince you to include reviews on your webpage and in Google’s SERP, then I don’t know what will.

But one thing’s for certain. People want to see reviews and if you let them, more people will buy.

And that increases your revenue.

It’s a simple fact with a simple recipe for success. Reviews make a big difference in consumer purchasing decisions.

Leverage them whenever you can.

3. Leverage social proof

Similar to review stars, but more holistic, is social proof.

Social proof is essentially showing consumers that they should buy your product because other people bought it and loved it before them.

Truthfully, no one wants to be a pioneer.

Consumers want to feel that they’re making a smart and informed buying decision. Social proof provides them with that assurance.

Basically, it says, “Look at all these other people who bought and love the product! You’re not risking anything. If they loved it, you’ll love it too!”

This conversion study comes straight from the gurus of conversions: ConversionXL.

They ran a study that examined the HostGator website for the effect of social proof on building brand awareness.

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Because let’s be honest. The more people who know about your business, the more people who will buy from you.

Now and in the future.

Building brand awareness might not seem like a conversion-optimization play, but it is. Just indirectly.

You’re telling people about your business so that, when they are ready to buy, they’ll think of you.

ConversionXL then measured people’s recall of different elements on the page to try and determine which types of social proof stood out the most and created the longest-lasting brand awareness.

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Here’s what they found, in their own words.

“First, it seems that testimonials that included text garnered more attention than simple logo social proofs. Next, testimonials with photos were significantly more effective at generating recalls. Similarly, high-profile client logos were better than low-profile logos at generating recall. Finally, we found that, in general, photos are memorable, logos and numbers are not.”

In other words, if you want people to remember your business and buy when they’re ready, use testimonials with photos instead of logos.

Then, people will remember you in the long run, giving you a better chance of 10x-ing your revenue in 2018.

4. Send welcome emails

For a long time, welcome emails have been the pillar of great email content.

They are friendly. They represent an opportunity to connect with new customers personally.

And they are a great way to introduce people to your business.

But here’s what you might not know about them.

Welcome emails also have a remarkably high open and click-through rate.

Specifically, welcome emails have a 57.8% open rate and 14.4% click-through rate.

Compare that with other kinds of promotional emails to feel the full effect.

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But welcome emails don’t just receive more opens and clicks.

They also generate more revenue per email.

In other words, they represent loads of selling potential for your business.

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Unfortunately, most welcome emails simply say “hello” and leave it at that.

Now you know, however, that you should do much more than that with your welcome emails.

You should offer a discounted product for joining or a special offer for signing up.

Because the same study found that special offers boost the transaction rate of welcome emails as well.

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If you’re not sending welcome emails, then you’re missing out on loads of extra revenue.

If you are sending them, then make sure you include a special offer to pull every penny of potential you can out of new customers.

5. Different colors get noticed first

For years now, marketers have argued about whether red is a better converter than blue, or whether yellow is better than green, or why orange is the best of all.

The final answer?

None of the above… or all of the above.

As the studies that ended up coining the Von Restorff Effect claim, it all depends on the colors you’re already using.

The Von Restorff Effect posits that the colors which stand out the most are the ones which are the most unusual.

In other words, if you have a green background, then a red button will stand out. But a green button on a green background? That will be difficult for the eye to find.

Consider this example from Help Scout.

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The green button stands out because nothing else on the page is green.

Since it’s isolated by color, it’s more noticeable.

And thus it’s more likely to be clicked.

After all, if people don’t notice your CTA, they sure as heck aren’t going to click it.

Similarly, consider this example from Mint.

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There are two CTAs on the page, and both are orange. As you can see, nothing else on the page is orange, so this works well to draw your eye.

In one case, green is better.

In another case, orange is better.

It all depends on the color scheme of your website. Choose a color for your CTA that is different than the rest of your website and that will automatically and easily increase your conversion rate.

6. Make them follow the hero’s gaze

Everybody needs a hero.

But your customers need one most of all.

I’m not talking about Superman or Spiderman or Deadpool, though. I’m talking about a picture of someone on your landing page that looks at the CTA.

You heard me right.

Something like this, from Chemistry.com, for instance.

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Why does that work to increase your conversion rate?

Well, as it turns out, people naturally want to follow another person’s gaze to see what they’re looking at.

In fact, this truth is so effective that Unbounce found even using a graphic of a face increases conversion rates.

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Similarly effective, Unbounce reports, are arrows.

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The point is, you need to draw your viewer’s attention to the CTA with one of three different things.

  1. A hero
  2. A graphic
  3. An arrow

With that simple trick, your conversion rate will surge forward.

7. Keep your copy active

What if I told you that active words convert better than passive words?

Things like “Beat the smelly giant in your armpits!” is better than “Stop smelling bad.”

Would you believe me?

Well, as it turns out, you don’t have to.

Kissmetrics reports on a massive study that measured the impact of active copy on click-through rate.

Here was the original version of the page that the study analyzed.

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As you can see, the primary call out is quite inactive: “Feel fresh without sweat marks.”

Here was the variation that they measured up against the original.

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Now, that’s a bit more exciting.

“Put an end to sweat marks!” makes me feel like I’m part of some ongoing and courageous battle against my pit stains.

But here’s the important thing.

That doesn’t just make people more excited. It makes them click more.

How much more?

According to Kissmetrics, 93% more.

That’s a lot of action for your CTA.

All because you used active language instead of passive language. A simple change to nearly double your click-through rate.

8. Include a picture of a person

Earlier, we talked about using the hero’s gaze to draw the attention of the website viewer.

And yes, that tactic increases conversion rates.

But, evidently, you don’t even need to have the hero look in a particular direction to increase your conversion rate.

You just have to include them in the first place.

Basically, you just need to have a picture of a person on your sign-up page, and that might just automatically increase your conversion rate.

Kissmetrics again reports on a study that supports that claim.

This website experienced a 102.5% increase in conversions when switching to the landing page on the right.

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And again, they saw the same landing page was better than the challenger on the right below.

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Including a photo of a person on your landing page increases your conversion rate.

But why is that the case?

Well, people are fascinated with each other. We all enjoy studying one another’s faces, and we attribute certain qualities to certain people.

If you choose a picture of a person that fits the image you want to convey as a business, then that can work wonders toward your goal of 10x-ing your revenue this year.

9. Longer is better (sometimes)

Is a longer landing page better than a short one?

According to a test by Crazy Egg, it is.

Here are the control and the variation pages we tested.

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As you can see, the challenger is massively longer than the control page is.

We even included an explainer video on the page.

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But what was their result? Could that long of a challenger really compete with short and snappy?

In the case of Crazy Egg, yes. Yes, it can.

In fact, the new page beat the control by a whopping 30%.

Then, we went ahead and showed this offer to all of our customers once.

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Finally, we revamped our checkout process to add some social proof and extra incentive.

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Fortunately for us, all of that hard work paid off. In the end, it increased our overall conversion rate by 363%.

And as you already saw, a big part of that change was the length of the landing page.

But… longer isn’t always better.

If you sell a product that people are already familiar with, a short and snappy landing page is probably best.

For those of you with more complicated and hard-to-understand products, though, a longer landing page might just increase your conversion rate.

One thing’s for sure. You won’t know unless you test it.

Conclusion

Conversion rates all over the digital globe are notoriously low. From 2% to 3% to 4%.

None of those numbers hold much promise for your goal of 10x-ing your revenue in 2018.

Luckily, though, you don’t have to listen to those average naysayers.

You can carve your own path.

Or, rather, the path of tried-and-true conversion optimization methods.

Because optimizing your website for conversion is one of the best ways to 10x your revenue this year.

So take a hint from one of these studies: raise your relevance score on Facebook Ads, use reviews, add social proof, leverage welcome emails, use unique colors for CTAs, make people follow the hero’s gaze, keep your copy active, include a picture of a person, and see if a long (or short) landing page is right for you.

With those nine timeless conversion study principles, you’ll be well on your way to a multiplied income.

What conversion study is the most impactful on your own conversion optimization efforts?

The post What these 9 Timeless Conversion Studies Can Teach You About 10x-ing Revenue in 2018 appeared first on Neil Patel.



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How to Write Instagram Captions That Drive Engagement

Staying active on social media is absolutely necessary if you want your business to be successful.

This statement holds true for small, local mom-and-pop stores as well as national chains and global ecommerce sites.

Even if you’re not selling a tangible product and just run a blog or something similar, you need to have a social media presence.

But having social media profiles and properly managing them are two different things.

Did you know about 80% of social media browsing takes place on mobile devices?

That’s one of the reasons why you need to focus on your Instagram strategy.

Plus, look at the rapid growth it’s had over the last several years:

image2 4

The popularity of this platform can’t be ignored.

Businesses are recognizing this trend and acting accordingly.

In fact, over 70% of companies in the United States had an Instagram profile in 2017.

That number has skyrocketed from 48.8% in 2016.

If you are one of these businesses, I’m sure you’re taking advantage of everything Instagram has to offer.

You post photos daily.

You’re always adding videos to your story.

You may even go live once in a while too.

But how are these actions engaging your followers?

Taking and posting the perfect picture can grab someone’s attention, but your captions will give them a sense of direction.

It’s important you write actionable Instagram captions.

If you need help writing your captions, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ll tell you everything you need to know about writing captions that drive engagement.

Let everyone know where you are with location tags

I’ll start by telling you something that does not need to be in your caption.

When it comes to the location of the photos, do tell your followers where the photo was taken.

But here’s the catch: you don’t need to put that in your caption.

That’s a waste of valuable space.

I see people make this mistake all the time.

Instead, tag the location of the photo.

Here’s an example.

Rather than saying, “Here we are at the United Center,” the Jordan brand geo-tags the location of the photo instead.

image4 4

Now they can put other information in their caption.

They used this post to promote a new product launch.

But that message could have been lost in the shuffle if they wrote their location in the caption.

Another reason why you should tag the location is because it will appear with all the other photos and videos tagged at that location.

The posts with the most likes and comments will show up as “Top Posts” on that location’s page.

image8 4

It’s a great way for people who might not follow you to see your posts as well.

If the Jordan brand included their location in a caption, it wouldn’t be exposed to such a wide audience.

Plus, location tagging drives engagement, which is our ultimate goal.

image1 4

Keep your location out of the caption, and tag it instead.

That’s a much better engagement strategy.

Don’t write the first thing that comes to your mind

You took 20 different pictures of the same subject from different angles and with different lighting.

Then you spent time finding the best one, adding a filter or two, changing the exposure, brightness, and saturation, and playing around with all the other editing tools.

But then you write your caption in 10 seconds because you want to post it right away.

That’s a mistake.

You should take just as long, if not longer, to write your Instagram caption for that photo.

Think about all the other written content you’re putting out on the Internet, like your blog, for example.

You write a draft and then you edit it.

Maybe you edit it a second or even a third time before adding the post to your website.

Apply that same concept to your Instagram captions.

Write drafts—and several of them.

Take your time. The photo isn’t going anywhere and neither are your followers.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should take all week or a month to write these couple of lines of text.

But you need to put some thought into it. Concentrate on your captions as much as you focus on taking the photo and editing it.

Writing drafts can also help you make sure you don’t have spelling errors or make any other blunders.

While Instagram allows you to edit your caption after it’s posted, by the time you realize there is a mistake, thousands of followers could have already seen it.

Those are careless mistakes.

You don’t want people to think you don’t care.

Put the most important information first

If you’re writing a longer caption, don’t be clever trying to ease into it with a creative introduction.

Instead, lead with your most important message.

Be direct.

Instagram allows you to have 2200 characters in your caption, but that doesn’t mean your followers will see it all. Well, at least not right away.

Longer captions get cut off.

image5 4

The example above shows the caption before and after the user hits “more.”

And this caption isn’t even that long.

While in general, I think shorter captions are more effective, I don’t want to discourage you from writing longer ones.

Just make sure your most important content isn’t at the end.

Not everyone will click on the “more” button to see the whole thing.

Keep in mind, users are just scrolling down their newsfeeds glancing at photos.

They probably don’t care enough about your caption to read the whole thing.

So at least try to hook them in with the first couple of lines to give them a reason to keep reading.

Find ways to encourage comments

You want each post to have lots of engagement.

One of the ways to do this is by getting people to comment on your pictures.

Users can talk in the comments with each other or reply directly to you.

Another way to get more comments is by replying to users and driving a discussion.

For this method to be successful, however, you have to get people talking in the first place.

End your caption with a question to invite comments from your followers.

If you don’t ask them something, they may not have a reason to write anything.

Another way to get comments is by encouraging your followers to tag their friends in photos.

Here’s an example from MVMT Watches:

image11 1

This post received nearly 900 comments in less than five days.

Clearly, this is an effective strategy.

Drive traffic to your website

If you have an ecommerce store, the ultimate goal of your Instagram page should be to get more sales from your followers.

To get people to make a purchase, you have to get them to your website first since purchases can’t be made directly from the Instagram platform.

You should also be tracking where your website traffic is coming from.

Create a unique URL with a tracking code to see the number of referrals from your Instagram page.

That will help you gauge how successful this strategy is.

It’s always important to measure results, so establish a benchmark to improve upon.

Add that unique link to your Instagram bio.

Then, you can use your caption to refer your followers to the link.

Here’s an example from H&M to show you what I’m talking about:

image6 4

This photo shows some specific clothing items they’re selling.

If people are interested in buying one of these items, they can click on a link in the bio that brings them directly to the item.

That way they don’t have to key in the website URL first and then search for the item.

It’s too many steps that can turn them away and reduce the chances of a sale.

Here’s what that link looks like in the H&M bio:

image10 2

This makes it really easy for customers to shop, leading to more sales.

Run a contest

Nothing gets people excited like the opportunity to get something free.

You can use contests as a way to promote your brand on Instagram.

This strategy will definitely drive engagement if you can write a great caption.

First, let’s review the three different types of giveaways:

  • contest
  • sweepstakes
  • lottery

When the participants have to do something that requires some sort of effort or skill to win a prize, it’s considered a contest. The winner is determined by judges or a vote.

If you’re selecting a winner at random, it’s called a sweepstakes.

A lottery would mean that people would have to buy a raffle ticket or something like that to enter.

But I wouldn’t recommend doing this, especially because certain state and federal laws prohibit these types of giveaways.

Your best bet is running a contest. That’s one of my favorite ways to keep your followers engaged.

Their effort will determine whether they win or not.

Here’s a great example of a strong caption promoting a contest run by Starbucks:

image7 4

It’s a successful campaign strategy because it encourages user-generated content.

Here’s how it works.

Starbucks invites their customers to design a cup.

Then the customers have to post a picture of their cups on Instagram with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

Think about your brand and your current contest.

If you own a coffee shop, there are only so many pictures of coffee and pastries you can post.

Your followers will get bored with that real quick.

That’s why your captions have to be engaging.

Try running a contest the next time you post a picture on Instagram.

Here’s a contest example from Mint:

image9 3

You can use this caption as a template for your own contest, using your own information: name, hashtag, prize, and deadline.

Use hashtags

We’ve discussed hashtags a few times already, but they are important enough to mention on their own.

You want to include hashtags in your captions.

For the same reason, we tagged location.

Your post will appear on a page with all the other images with the same hashtag.

You’ll expose your brand to a wider audience.

I’d recommend putting hashtags at the end of your caption.

As we saw earlier, long captions can get cut off.

But your hashtag doesn’t have to be visible to be effective.

It will group your picture with all the other posts with that hashtag.

If you’re not sure which hashtag to use, start typing and Instagram will suggest the most popular ones.

image3 4

Pick the one with the most posts.

This will give you the greatest user engagement.

While you want to include hashtags, use them sparingly.

Going overboard with them could look like spam, and it’s not appealing to your followers.

Make sure your hashtags are relevant.

Don’t just use trending hashtags as a way to get exposure if they have nothing to do with your post or brand.

Again, this will make people think you’re spamming them, which is counterproductive to your engagement strategy.

Conclusion

Don’t overlook the importance of writing a good Instagram caption.

You spend lots of time selecting and editing a photo. Make sure you’re putting just as much effort into the caption.

Write several drafts before deciding on the best.

While you want to let users know where you are, that doesn’t mean it should be part of your caption. It’s a waste of space. Use location tagging instead.

Long captions will get cut off, so write the most important information at the beginning.

Encourage user comments by asking a question or telling your followers to tag their friends.

Drive traffic to your website through a link in your bio. Mention the link in your captions.

This will help you get more sales if you have an ecommerce site.

Promote a contest or giveaway in your captions too.

Add hashtags as well, but use them sparingly.

If you follow these tips, you’ll get more engagement on all your Instagram posts.

Which caption strategy has been the most successful for your company’s Instagram profile?

Staying active on social media is absolutely necessary if you want your business to be successful.

This statement holds true for small, local mom-and-pop stores as well as national chains and global ecommerce sites.

Even if you’re not selling a tangible product and just run a blog or something similar, you need to have a social media presence.

But having social media profiles and properly managing them are two different things.

Did you know about 80% of social media browsing takes place on mobile devices?

That’s one of the reasons why you need to focus on your Instagram strategy.

Plus, look at the rapid growth it’s had over the last several years:

image2 4

The popularity of this platform can’t be ignored.

Businesses are recognizing this trend and acting accordingly.

In fact, over 70% of companies in the United States had an Instagram profile in 2017.

That number has skyrocketed from 48.8% in 2016.

If you are one of these businesses, I’m sure you’re taking advantage of everything Instagram has to offer.

You post photos daily.

You’re always adding videos to your story.

You may even go live once in a while too.

But how are these actions engaging your followers?

Taking and posting the perfect picture can grab someone’s attention, but your captions will give them a sense of direction.

It’s important you write actionable Instagram captions.

If you need help writing your captions, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ll tell you everything you need to know about writing captions that drive engagement.

Let everyone know where you are with location tags

I’ll start by telling you something that does not need to be in your caption.

When it comes to the location of the photos, do tell your followers where the photo was taken.

But here’s the catch: you don’t need to put that in your caption.

That’s a waste of valuable space.

I see people make this mistake all the time.

Instead, tag the location of the photo.

Here’s an example.

Rather than saying, “Here we are at the United Center,” the Jordan brand geo-tags the location of the photo instead.

image4 4

Now they can put other information in their caption.

They used this post to promote a new product launch.

But that message could have been lost in the shuffle if they wrote their location in the caption.

Another reason why you should tag the location is because it will appear with all the other photos and videos tagged at that location.

The posts with the most likes and comments will show up as “Top Posts” on that location’s page.

image8 4

It’s a great way for people who might not follow you to see your posts as well.

If the Jordan brand included their location in a caption, it wouldn’t be exposed to such a wide audience.

Plus, location tagging drives engagement, which is our ultimate goal.

image1 4

Keep your location out of the caption, and tag it instead.

That’s a much better engagement strategy.

Don’t write the first thing that comes to your mind

You took 20 different pictures of the same subject from different angles and with different lighting.

Then you spent time finding the best one, adding a filter or two, changing the exposure, brightness, and saturation, and playing around with all the other editing tools.

But then you write your caption in 10 seconds because you want to post it right away.

That’s a mistake.

You should take just as long, if not longer, to write your Instagram caption for that photo.

Think about all the other written content you’re putting out on the Internet, like your blog, for example.

You write a draft and then you edit it.

Maybe you edit it a second or even a third time before adding the post to your website.

Apply that same concept to your Instagram captions.

Write drafts—and several of them.

Take your time. The photo isn’t going anywhere and neither are your followers.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should take all week or a month to write these couple of lines of text.

But you need to put some thought into it. Concentrate on your captions as much as you focus on taking the photo and editing it.

Writing drafts can also help you make sure you don’t have spelling errors or make any other blunders.

While Instagram allows you to edit your caption after it’s posted, by the time you realize there is a mistake, thousands of followers could have already seen it.

Those are careless mistakes.

You don’t want people to think you don’t care.

Put the most important information first

If you’re writing a longer caption, don’t be clever trying to ease into it with a creative introduction.

Instead, lead with your most important message.

Be direct.

Instagram allows you to have 2200 characters in your caption, but that doesn’t mean your followers will see it all. Well, at least not right away.

Longer captions get cut off.

image5 4

The example above shows the caption before and after the user hits “more.”

And this caption isn’t even that long.

While in general, I think shorter captions are more effective, I don’t want to discourage you from writing longer ones.

Just make sure your most important content isn’t at the end.

Not everyone will click on the “more” button to see the whole thing.

Keep in mind, users are just scrolling down their newsfeeds glancing at photos.

They probably don’t care enough about your caption to read the whole thing.

So at least try to hook them in with the first couple of lines to give them a reason to keep reading.

Find ways to encourage comments

You want each post to have lots of engagement.

One of the ways to do this is by getting people to comment on your pictures.

Users can talk in the comments with each other or reply directly to you.

Another way to get more comments is by replying to users and driving a discussion.

For this method to be successful, however, you have to get people talking in the first place.

End your caption with a question to invite comments from your followers.

If you don’t ask them something, they may not have a reason to write anything.

Another way to get comments is by encouraging your followers to tag their friends in photos.

Here’s an example from MVMT Watches:

image11 1

This post received nearly 900 comments in less than five days.

Clearly, this is an effective strategy.

Drive traffic to your website

If you have an ecommerce store, the ultimate goal of your Instagram page should be to get more sales from your followers.

To get people to make a purchase, you have to get them to your website first since purchases can’t be made directly from the Instagram platform.

You should also be tracking where your website traffic is coming from.

Create a unique URL with a tracking code to see the number of referrals from your Instagram page.

That will help you gauge how successful this strategy is.

It’s always important to measure results, so establish a benchmark to improve upon.

Add that unique link to your Instagram bio.

Then, you can use your caption to refer your followers to the link.

Here’s an example from H&M to show you what I’m talking about:

image6 4

This photo shows some specific clothing items they’re selling.

If people are interested in buying one of these items, they can click on a link in the bio that brings them directly to the item.

That way they don’t have to key in the website URL first and then search for the item.

It’s too many steps that can turn them away and reduce the chances of a sale.

Here’s what that link looks like in the H&M bio:

image10 2

This makes it really easy for customers to shop, leading to more sales.

Run a contest

Nothing gets people excited like the opportunity to get something free.

You can use contests as a way to promote your brand on Instagram.

This strategy will definitely drive engagement if you can write a great caption.

First, let’s review the three different types of giveaways:

  • contest
  • sweepstakes
  • lottery

When the participants have to do something that requires some sort of effort or skill to win a prize, it’s considered a contest. The winner is determined by judges or a vote.

If you’re selecting a winner at random, it’s called a sweepstakes.

A lottery would mean that people would have to buy a raffle ticket or something like that to enter.

But I wouldn’t recommend doing this, especially because certain state and federal laws prohibit these types of giveaways.

Your best bet is running a contest. That’s one of my favorite ways to keep your followers engaged.

Their effort will determine whether they win or not.

Here’s a great example of a strong caption promoting a contest run by Starbucks:

image7 4

It’s a successful campaign strategy because it encourages user-generated content.

Here’s how it works.

Starbucks invites their customers to design a cup.

Then the customers have to post a picture of their cups on Instagram with the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

Think about your brand and your current contest.

If you own a coffee shop, there are only so many pictures of coffee and pastries you can post.

Your followers will get bored with that real quick.

That’s why your captions have to be engaging.

Try running a contest the next time you post a picture on Instagram.

Here’s a contest example from Mint:

image9 3

You can use this caption as a template for your own contest, using your own information: name, hashtag, prize, and deadline.

Use hashtags

We’ve discussed hashtags a few times already, but they are important enough to mention on their own.

You want to include hashtags in your captions.

For the same reason, we tagged location.

Your post will appear on a page with all the other images with the same hashtag.

You’ll expose your brand to a wider audience.

I’d recommend putting hashtags at the end of your caption.

As we saw earlier, long captions can get cut off.

But your hashtag doesn’t have to be visible to be effective.

It will group your picture with all the other posts with that hashtag.

If you’re not sure which hashtag to use, start typing and Instagram will suggest the most popular ones.

image3 4

Pick the one with the most posts.

This will give you the greatest user engagement.

While you want to include hashtags, use them sparingly.

Going overboard with them could look like spam, and it’s not appealing to your followers.

Make sure your hashtags are relevant.

Don’t just use trending hashtags as a way to get exposure if they have nothing to do with your post or brand.

Again, this will make people think you’re spamming them, which is counterproductive to your engagement strategy.

Conclusion

Don’t overlook the importance of writing a good Instagram caption.

You spend lots of time selecting and editing a photo. Make sure you’re putting just as much effort into the caption.

Write several drafts before deciding on the best.

While you want to let users know where you are, that doesn’t mean it should be part of your caption. It’s a waste of space. Use location tagging instead.

Long captions will get cut off, so write the most important information at the beginning.

Encourage user comments by asking a question or telling your followers to tag their friends.

Drive traffic to your website through a link in your bio. Mention the link in your captions.

This will help you get more sales if you have an ecommerce site.

Promote a contest or giveaway in your captions too.

Add hashtags as well, but use them sparingly.

If you follow these tips, you’ll get more engagement on all your Instagram posts.

Which caption strategy has been the most successful for your company’s Instagram profile?