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4 ways to improve your website loading time in 2020

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The world moves fast.

When the new iPhone comes out, many rush to be the first to see, play, and review it.

When there’s breaking news, people are glued to their TV screens waiting for updates while reporters scramble to be the first to deliver. It’s no surprise people expect this same type of agility and speed when they are browsing the web.

They want their user experience unhindered so they can effortlessly receive the information they were searching for.

The importance of website load time

Today, users have no patience for websites with poor load speeds or inadequate performance.

In a study done by Akamai, about half of web users expect a site to load in two seconds or less. If it isn’t loaded within three seconds, those users tend to abandon the site.

An even more alarming statistic is that 64% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with an online store’s experience and loading time will take their business elsewhere.

This means you’re not only losing your current visitors and decreasing conversion rates, but you run the risk of you site loosing traffic from those customers who may have referred your website to others.

In this day, seconds make the difference. You can no longer allow your website to be bogged down by unoptimized images and files. Your users expect your web pages to load fast, and they won’t stick around if they don’t.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at ways to optimize your website for the best possible performance.

Related: Do we need a website redesign or a facelift?

1. Minimize HTTP requests

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) Requests are counted whenever a browser fetches a file, page, or picture from a web server.

According to Yahoo, these requests tend to take up about 80% of a webpage’s load time. The browser also limits requests between 4-8 simultaneous connections per domain which means loading 30+ assets at once is not an option.

This means that the more HTTP requests you need to load, the longer it takes for the page to go and retrieve them all, increasing your web page’s load time.

How to decrease HTTP requests

While it seems to limit your pages designs by keeping them simple, there are several tactics you can use to decrease HTTP requests to relieve your browser.

  • Combining CSS/JS files – Rather than forcing the browser to retrieve multiple CSS or Javascript files to load, try combining your CSS files into one larger file (same for JS). While this can be challenging if your stylesheets and scripts vary from page to page, managing to merge them will ultimately help your load times in the long run.
  • Use queries to only load what’s needed – If you find that you only need to load certain images on desktop or need to run a specific script on mobile only, using conditional statements to load them can be a great way to increase speed. This way, you aren’t forcing the browser to load a variety of scripts or images that won’t be useful for certain devices or viewports.
  • Reduce the number of images you use – If you find some of your pages are fairly image-heavy, try removing some, especially if their file sizes are big. This may not only help reduce image HTTP requests but may improve your UX by removing distracting images that don’t correspond to your written content.
  • CSS sprites – When applicable, combining images you use fairly often across your website into one sprite sheet and accessing the images using CSS background-image and background-position prevents your browser from constantly trying to retrieve several images every time certain pages on your site load. This way, the browser only retrieves the one that you can use multiple times on the page by properly positioning the right image into view for each area of the page.

2. Utilize CDNs and remove unused scripts/files

More than likely, many of your users will not be in close proximity to your web server.

Reducing this distance by spreading your content across a variety of geographically dispersed servers just isn’t a viable option, and will a bit too complicated to implement. 

This is where a content delivery network (CDN) comes in. A CDN is a collection of web servers distributed across multiple locations so content can be more efficiently delivered to users.

CDNs are typically used for static content or files that do need to be touched once uploaded.

Servers are selected based upon the user’s measure of network proximity. For example, the server with the quickest response time and/or fewest network hops is chosen.

Larger companies tend to own their own CDN, while medium-sized businesses will use a CDN provider such as EdgeCast.

Smaller companies may find a CDN unnecessary or outside of their budget, so using utilizing websites such as CNDjs which has a library of JS and CSS files and frameworks can help you prevent hosting certain files on your own servers while increasing their load time.  

If you find your company’s website could benefit from using CDNs, take this time to also evaluate your site to recognize if there are unused scripts or CSS files across your site.

While the easiest (yet most time consuming) thing is to have your developer go through your website and check each page, there are a few tools such as UnCSS which can remove unused styles from your website and decrease the size of your CSS file.

3. Browser caching

Browser caching allows assets on your website to be downloaded to your hard drive once into a cache, or a temporary storage space. Those files are now stored locally on your system, which allows subsequent page loads to increase in speed.

Tenni Theurer, formerly of Yahoo!, explains says that 40-60% of daily visitors to your site come in with an empty cache. So when users visit, you need to make it so the first page they see load quickly enough so they will inevitably continue through the rest of your website (with even faster load times).  

Static assets have a cached lifetime of at least a week, while third party items such as widgets or ads only last a day.

CSS, JS, and images, and media files should have expirations of one week, but ideally, one year, as any longer will violet RFC guidelines.

You can learn more about enabling caching here.

4. Compress images and optimize files

Images currently take up 60% of the average bytes loaded per page, around 1504KB. When compared to other pages assets such as scripts (399KB), CSS (45KB), and video (294KB), images take up quite a large amount of HTTP requests sent.

As I have mentioned early, remove any images of assets you believe you don’t need.

This includes libraries of icons you only use two of, those extra three fonts you thought you might use but didn’t, and images that maybe could be replicated with CSS (such as colored backgrounds or gradients).

After you clear out those assets, take a look at the images you have across your site and check out their sizes.

More often than not, many people tend to download images from stock photo sites and upload them to their server and use them without ever bothering to optimize them for the web.  

If you find yourself using large images, especially for hero images, run them through an optimization software like Compressor.io or Image Optimizer.

Keep all your images below 150KB, nothing above 1920px in width, at an average/medium/72dpi quality level. Any larger and you’ll notice the images loading very late after the page renders as well as the slow response times to user behavior. 

When it comes to what file extensions you should use for what, use this as a basic formula:

  • SVG is suitable for vector images you want to receive a high amount of detail in.
  • Certain icons can utilize font libraries such as FontAwesome to render certain graphics rather than saving out individual images.
  • PNG should be used for images you need transparent background behind, such as a circular image of a person or Facebook’s ‘F’ logo.
  • JPG is best for photographs or anything where fine detail is less important.

While images will still take up the majority of your HTTP requests, optimizing them and your other assets will ultimately keep the sizes of them down and increase your website’s overall performance.

Related: How much should a website strategy cost our company?





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Guide: How to structure a local SEO strategy for your business

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30-second summary:

  • Take advantage of Google’s search market domination with two spots on the first page of Google – Local pack and localized organic search results.
  • Optimize for high converting local keywords, establish a local content schedule, and more.
  • Founder of Digital Ducats Inc. shares a thorough guide on everything you need for a successful local SEO strategy.

For many companies, an effective SEO strategy for local business is the key factor for increasing revenue from high converting traffic. Local SEO can mean the difference in outranking authority websites for vital keywords within your city.

Along with the overall benefits of SEO, optimizing to compete locally improves your search visibility for keyword searches made from your location. 

Many aspects of local SEO have remained the same over the last few years however, the weight of local ranking factors has shifted creating new priorities for local businesses.  

One aspect that remains the prime focus for every local business is the significance of Google My Business. 

1. Gain instant visibility with GMB

Google My Business has been instrumental in driving customers to a local business. Considering the search engine market share that Google holds, you’re literally losing money by not having a GMB listing. 

As of June 2020, Google tops the charts for search engine market share boasting 86% of desktop and 95% of total mobile searches.  

It should be clear that failing to prioritize your presence in GMB can cost your company thousands of dollars. 

One of the many advantages that Google My Busines allows is instant search visibility for a business operating in a locality. Rather than going through the process of ranking your own domain, your website receives instant search visibility from local searches within close proximity.   

The Possum update made proximity a primary ranking factor for achieving a top position in the Local Pack. Your company can appear on the first page of results based on the distance between your location and the location of a user.  

In 2020, according to the State Of Local SEO Industry Report, proximity has fallen to the third most influential ranking factor behind on-page optimization and reviews. The general consensus among those surveyed is that optimizing your listing is the top priority for ranking in the Local Pack. 

2. Optimize your GMB profile

Optimize your GMB listing just as you would your website in terms of providing as much information to search engines as possible. The more detail you can provide in your profile, the more information search engines have to reference your business for keyword related searches. 

NAP details

Fill in every option available to maximize your opportunities to appear in the Local Pack. Name, address, and phone number (NAP details) are extremely important to have spelled correctly. 

Obviously, this is important for users to receive the correct information. Search engines will also verify your business details with third party citations. 

Explore all category options

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is failing to include the correct categories. There has been a countless number of clients that have been able to rank in the Local Pack by simply adding the correct category for their business. 

Google updates the list of eligible categories your business can fall under. It’s advisable to check periodically for new categories that would enhance the accuracy of your listing. 

One way to explore any options you may have missed is to search Google for the local keywords you’re targeting. Check the Local Finder for the categories that your competition is using to rank in the top positions.  

Keyword optimization

It should be noted that on-page optimization is proving to be the strongest ranking factor for ranking in the Local Pack. This can be a source of frustration for those who operate under Google guidelines since Google has allowed keyword stuffing to trump other ranking factors.

If you’re adhering to Google’s guidelines, the name of your business should be the only thing in your GMB listing. What should be happening and what is actually working are two different things that have created somewhat of a loophole and a grey area for SEO. 

The fact is that using the keyword in the name of your business will get you results. It’s as simple as that. 

If you’re starting a business that operates in a specific city it’s highly effective to incorporate your main keyword in the name of your business. It’s been so effective that it’s led to keyword stuffing-which, in theory, should be penalized-but seems to be left unregulated. 

Here is an example of successful keyword manipulation for the phrase “bespoke suits Toronto”. Each of these sites outranks other sites based on the name used in the GMB profile. 

local SEO example - Bespoke suits Toronto

 It’s hard to say what will prevail in the long run because the evidence points to the fact that this is working to rank sites. After monitoring this listing for over 6 months, it continues to rank and undoubtedly reaps the benefits of local traffic from a prime placement in the local pack. 

3. Build your local presence with citations

Structured citations an essential element in local SEO despite the reduced effectiveness they once had as a ranking factor. Their purpose serves two functions; to validate your business information for search engines; to provide additional targeted traffic. 

List your business in well-known directories

List your business in the largest and most relevant directories for your city or region to get the most coverage from relevant citations. Some of the most obvious are Bing and Yahoo since they both have local business listings.  

Major directories will typically serve as a source of information for much smaller, but relevant websites. Your business information is essentially distributed to dozens of other directories that will help to establish the validity and credibility of your business. 

The major directories from each country and region can vary so it’s important to establish which sites will have the most impact with the least effort. 

In Canada, posting your business on Yellow Pages results in a wide distribution of sites that are relevant to Canada. Moz provides an excellent visual as an example of the distribution network Yellow Pages provides. 

local SEO guide - Canada citation ecosystem

Source: Moz

Here’s an example of the U.S. local ecosystem provided by Moz (keep in mind these images are now a few years old). According to this illustration below, there are many major directories that can have a large impact on your search visibility in the U.S. 

US local search ecosystem

Search for niche and local directories

Enhance the profile of your citations and improve your sources of traffic by searching for directories that are niche-specific and location-specific. 

Getting a few links from directories that are in your niche and location will improve the relevance of your site in both areas. Look for relevant directories by using the following in a search: 

[Your niche] + directories 

[Your location] + directories 

Qualify each directory

Make sure the sites you choose to place your business have a decent amount of traffic and authority. Even if a directory is unique in your city, if it has a high spam score (use Mozbar to filter these sites), or has extremely low domain authority it may do more harm than good. 

Local SEO strategy = Toronto directory options

SEMRush is also a good tool to use for a quick reference on the amount of traffic a website receives. If the organic search traffic is a bust, don’t list your company website on it. 

SEMrush organic traffic

You don’t need a lot of these sites to complete an effective citation profile. Google won’t give a whole lot of credit for acquiring easy links. The goal of this endeavor is to create significant ties to your city and industry and position your company on sites that get relevant traffic. 

4. Establish your content strategy

Your website is only as good as the content you publish. Create content to serve as a resource for clients. Educational content produces three times as many leads as paid ads. Keep in mind you will need to publish both educational content as well as local SEO content for more localized search result appearances. 

The initial stages of your content strategy should be to create the most important pages with local service areas in mind. Is your business focused on one location only, or will you service multiple areas? This determines whether you will be publishing location pages for multiple cities or have a central location. 

Single location businesses

If your business is focused on one location, you can incorporate geo-modifiers in your URLs and titles. Optimize your service/product pages to appear in city-specific searches using your location as part of your keywords. 

Businesses with multiple service areas 

For multiple service areas, you will need to publish location pages to target the areas you want your business to appear for in city-specific searches. Location pages should have unique content for each city and include the NAP details of each location. 

Publish content for each level of the marketing funnel 

The most important pages of your site are the bottom of the funnel pages that urge visitors to make a purchase. Focus your initial content strategy on publishing mid-funnel content that targets long-tail keywords. 

The sweet spot for identifying target keywords is low competition, high volume keywords. What determines “high volume” can vary depending on the industry. Aim to beat your competition with long-tail keywords that convert at a higher rate. 

Publish local content

Your local SEO content strategy can include a variety of options to increase the relevance to your location. Your content can include city-specific events that you’re company is involved in, or events that are related to your industry. 

Your local content strategy should include regular posts on Google My Business. Approximately 17% of businesses post to GMB on a weekly basis. Create a competitive advantage by sticking to a bi-weekly posting schedule. 

local SEO strategy: GMB posting

The posts don’t need to be extensive, persuasive essays to get the job done. They can even be excerpts from blog posts to lead users to the actual article on your site. Posting to GMB creates more entry poPosting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.ints to your website and promotes more user engagement through your business’s knowledge card. 

Local SEO strategy: GMB posts help with Knowledge cards

GMB has a category to post special offers, updates, and important information about your company. Capitalize on the areas that other companies are not doing well by including GMB posts in your local content strategy. 

Posting images can attract a lot of search views and get people to your site as well. Images of products or finished projects will grab the attention of users to help drive more traffic to your site.  

Post more images than competition

5. Local link building

The majority of local businesses have a backlink profile that is primarily made up of directory links and profile links. An effective link building strategy for a local business is one that appears natural and above all, demonstrates evidence of relevance to your industry and city. 

Build domain authority with linkable assets

The blog of every local business can be used to build authority in your industry. Publish linkable assets and insightful resources for both clients and amplifiers. 

Amplifiers, as explained by Rand Fishkin, have a significant impact on the backlinks you acquire since they are the people most likely to link to your site. Creating content for amplifiers gives your site more reasons to acquire links and increase the domain authority of your site.   

audience for content

Linkable, shareable content makes link building much easier. You can publish guest posts, submit press releases, and reach out to authority sites in your niche to link to the inner pages of your website to increase domain authority. 

Increase local ranking power with local links

Local links are considered the most powerful when it comes to localized search results as well as appearing in the Local Pack. Local links are also considered unstructured citations. Local links can come from local businesses, local newspapers, local chambers of commerce, and local event sites. 

Form a local business alliance

Finding businesses within your industry is ideal for creating a local alliance and boosting your ranking ability. For example, if you’re a hot tub retailer some of your best links would come from local businesses that sell swimming pools. 

 As long as you don’t compete for the same products, a local business in your industry or a close vertical is the most ideal source of links. 

Resource link building targeting vendors and client sites

You can improve the likelihood of obtaining local links by using your own network of resources. Companies you already do business with make for ideal link prospects. 

For example, a restaurant can ask the baker who supplies their bread rolls to link from their site.  

A plumber can ask his equipment suppliers and vice versa. 

Ideally, you want to target business owners with whom you already have an existing relationship.  

6. Review management

The reviews your business receives have the power to influence a user’s decision on whether or not to choose your company. Review management remains a top priority for local businesses to improve search visibility and maintain a good reputation. 

A review strategy should include a way to get more Google reviews as well as reviews on review sites that get search visibility for related keywords. If customers are reviewing your business on sites that are niche-specific it will impact search visibility as well as promote positive ranking signals. 

Identify the most important review sites in your industry 

There is a major review site for every industry. It’s important to identify what review sites get a lot of traffic and reviews to position your site to receive quality prospective clients. 

For example, people use Yelp or Trip Advisor to find a good restaurant in a city they’re no familiar with. People read the reviews and experiences of previous customers before making a final decision.  

If you’re in the home goods business Homestars would be important sites to ask a few clients to write you a review. Here’s a 10/10 review left for Canadian Home Leisure, a hot tub retailer in Whitby, ON. 

Homestars client review

Look at the domain metrics for a site like Homestars. Not only can you get a quality backlink, but there is a ton of traffic that goes through their site. 

Homestars traffic

If you’re not sure which review sites play an impact on search visibility, search for: 

best + [your keyword] + [your city] 

The intent of most searches that use best at the start indicates that users are looking for options, which trigger the major reviews and directory sites in your niche. Here’s a search for best suits in Toronto: 

Each of these sites could be an additional way for customers to find you. Yelp looks like it’s the only review site that you can manage for free.  

In fact, Yelp ranks #3 and #4. If you’re in the business of selling suits in Toronto, Yelp is definitely a site to put effort into building a detailed profile and customer reviews.  

In many cases, keywords that you’re targeting will display a few directory and review sites in the search result. These are indications that those sites are not only relevant to enhance your optimization, but they will drive traffic to your site as well. 

best suits in Toronto

Establish your review acquisition strategy

This doesn’t need to be a major operation but you should have a plan in place that consistently gets you reviews. Avoid mass emails or anything that would look spammy such as a review station at your location. Too many reviews from the same IP could cause red flags and result in your reviews being ignored and discounted. 

You can influence five-star reviews on the major review sites for your business by asking customers that you’re sure has had a good experience with your company. You can do this in a few ways: 

  • Train employees to ask for a review after the completion of a sale. 
  • Email satisfied customers thanking them for their business with links to a few different review sites. 
  • Hand out instructions on how to review your business along with a receipt. 

Respond to as many reviews as possible

Make it a point to respond to both negative and positive reviews. Approach each response as a form of advertising for your company and a chance to showcase your customer service. 

Customers will appreciate a thank you when they’ve taken the time to give you a good review.  

Negative reviews demand immediate responses in order to neutralize the damage that is being done to your reputation. Show every reader how you deal with a disgruntled customer by offering to fix the problem.  

People will understand when mistakes are made and offering a free service, free product or free meal can be the best form of advertising for your company. 

A local SEO strategy is worth the investment

Small businesses can’t afford to miss out on the opportunities that a local SEO strategy has to offer. Following these guidelines and best practices, you can outrank authority sites (who aren’t local) and capitalize on high converting traffic. 

As competition intensifies so does the need to specialize in your area of expertise. Use your location to leverage more opportunities and promote long-term growth in your industry. 

Christian Carere is an SEO consultant in Toronto and the founder of Digital Ducats Inc. specializing in traffic and lead generation. He can be found on Twitter @digitalducats.

The post Guide: How to structure a local SEO strategy for your business appeared first on Search Engine Watch.



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Benefits of digital marketing virtual peer groups, roundtables, and masterminds

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What’s in a label, right?

I’m not too fond of labels because they can be confining and, in some cases, discriminating. However, at the same time, they do serve a helpful purpose.  

We use labels for different things and situations.  

They can identify the dress size or a particular category of goods or services and allow us to find what we need quickly. 

There are labels to categorize people by age, gender, race, religion, income, intelligence, interests, sexual orientation, weight, or fashion choices to group those with something in common. 

Overall, labels are signals to those who identify or relate to them that where they are is a welcoming place or that an item is the right match for them.

If one sees the Muslim Mommies Virtual Peer Group, for example, but you don’t share the same religious “label” and you are not a mommy, you know that group is probably not for you.

Especially now, during COVID-19, group labels that help us quickly identify those who share a similar mindset, industry background, and profession to find common ground and support — that includes digital marketing and sales professionals

While labels can sometimes come with different judgments, I know they can also bring people together.

I guess I am okay with them after all. 

So, let’s dive into the role they play in marketing and how you can benefit. 

The role of peer groups in marketing

The Lumen group defines the term group as any collection of at least two people who interact with some frequency and who share a sense that their identities align.

Throughout my marketing career, I have always been part of a peer group of some sort, whether in-person or virtual. 

Although some may think these are a waste of time, they have helped me grow by leaps and bounds. 

In some of the groups, I was able to lead and teach without having to second guess myself and, in turn, help me become knowledgeable, willing to try new things, and lose my insecurities. 

When you find a professional group, you can also give you a sense of clarity and belonging as you connect over shared knowledge, language, and understanding of the circumstances and issues the others face. 

You can talk through problems you’re having and most likely find someone who can easily relate or has a solution. 

Plus, in the traditional networking sense, professional groups can present new job, hire, or partnership opportunities.  

Not all groups are created equal, however, and each type of group has its purpose and ability to match your own.

In this article, we’re going to be focusing on three types of peers groups for digital marketers: 

  1. Virtual peer groups
  2. Roundtables
  3. Masterminds

What is a digital marketing virtual peer group?

A peer group is a group that shares similar backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, and in this article, a group of digital marketers whose experience, knowledge, and journey are shared. 

The people also probably share the same title and are in a similar place in their digital marketing career.  

An example of a digital marketing virtual peer group is the Social Media Today group found on LinkedIn that has over 264,000 members. 

Here digital marketers unite looking to share tips and techniques about social media marketing

It also attracts those who may be either early or middle in their social media career and want to learn from those who are on the same journey and those who just maybe a few steps ahead.

High-growth groups typically include people who are slightly ahead of you and some behind you—creating opportunities to learn and teach at the same time. 

If you find this synergy, you can grow your knowledge and skills exponentially faster than even going to school.   

If you are looking for a peer group where inbound marketers who are passionate about educating their customers then IMPACT+’s virtual peer groups are the place to be.  

IMPACT+ is our new online learning platform. While available for free, our Pro users get access to our virtual peer groups where they can connect with fellow users over common pain points or the courses they’re taking on the platform. 

🔎Related: HubSpot Academy vs IMPACT+: a head-to-head digital marketing training comparison

Benefits of digital marketing virtual peer groups 

The biggest benefit of virtual peer groups is that you can gain a fresh perspective. 

By seeing how others in your field perform their jobs and how they conquer common problems, you learn how you may be able to improve in your own situation. 

With shared knowledge and understanding, you have a group in which to share ideas, ask and answer questions, or even just vent. 

Also, digital marketing changes daily. It’s almost impossible to keep up. A digital marketing virtual peer group gives you sources to keep up to date through. 

Last, but not least, especially in this COVID-19 time, virtual peer groups can provide support, perspective, and information in a safe environment. They create a feeling of camaraderie and inclusion in a time that can often feel very isolating. 

 

What is a digital marketing roundtable?

A roundtable is a closed discussion designed to dive deep into a specific topic or issue. It is typically by invitation only and is often between individuals from industries or job functions. 

This is what makes a roundtable unique. Everyone is speaking to the same topic, but from different perspectives and contexts. 

It’s almost like a little United Nations. 

Before attending the event, participants typically thoroughly prepare their point of view and are ready to have a lively discussion and debate at the meeting. 

While disagreements are expected, the purpose of roundtables is to create a safe space for these to happen to hopefully come up with a solution or perspective that takes them all into account. 

A great example of a digital marketing roundtable can be seen from TopFloor. 

TopFloor is a Milwaukee-based digital marketing and website company that holds a quarterly event for marketing executives and business leaders to gather and learn how others are leveraging the latest digital marketing tactics.  

As they explain, “This event has been designed to address the challenges and interests of professionals who have the responsibility of crafting a marketing strategy, allocating budgets, overseeing the execution, and reporting on the results.”

Benefits of digital marketing round tables 

One of the biggest benefits of a digital marketing roundtable is its intimacy.

With a small, closed group, roundtable panelists are usually more freely engaged and open to sharing, creating a safe space to share opinions.

Roundtables are a forum that promotes deep thinking and open collaboration between different departments and industries. Unlike virtual peer groups where people usually come from the same background, roundtables are designed to bring together people who are different. 

Participants are not to judge but listen to opposing arguments, which allow for true collaboration and problem-solving that considers different angles to solve the burning issue, matter, or situation.

Plus, now that roundtables are primarily virtual due to COVID-19, people can reap these benefits from the comfort of their own homes. 

Related: 8 best virtual digital sales and marketing events in 2020

 

What is a digital marketing mastermind?

A digital marketing mastermind group is a type of peer learning group that offers a mix of brainstorming, education, accountability, and support while working towards a specific milestone. 

The mission of a mastermind is to see success. Therefore, each member creates a personal goal, holds each other accountable to it, and helps each other work towards achieving it. 

In other words, it has a beginning and endpoint. 

The group usually consists of 4-8 people, so everyone has substantial time to speak and a facilitator can give every participant feedback during a single meeting.  

In each meeting, the facilitator will conduct a round-robin of updates from all members followed by challenges and may ask pointed questions to get members to self-discover how they may counter that challenge. 

A prescribed solution isn’t the goal, but rather to give members the chance to share different solutions they have tried.

Unlike other groups in this article, a mastermind isn’t a one-way learning street and the experience is rarely the same for everyone. 

The stretch goal each member creates is specific to their aspirations for their digital marketing success and the impact it has on their business. These are individual goals, not a collective one.

Throughout the mastermind, members will naturally get to know one another and may connect outside the group, but they are working towards their own individual finish lines.

Although there are instances where a digital mastermind may vote to bring in guest speakers or teachers, the mastermind group’s primary focus is brainstorming and accountability support among the group members.

A digital marketing mastermind functions very similarly to group coaching in this way.  

Benefits of digital marketing masterminds 

The benefits of joining a mastermind are numerous, both personal and for your business or work. 

For starters, masterminds usually cost a pretty penny, and if you are fortunate to join one, it means you are likely surrounded by elite leaders in your field. 

By joining, you gain an instant and valuable support network that could lead to new job opportunities or partnerships, as well as a place to collaborate and brainstorm ideas.

It also adds a new layer of accountability when it comes to achieving your goals.

Under pressure, it’s so easy to procrastinate or give up, but in a mastermind, you will receive encouragement, feedback, and support to keep at it even with the going gets tough.  

Furthermore, joining a digital marketing mastermind doesn’t distract you from doing your daily work. Rather, it should become part of your daily activity since the goals you set within the genius are directly related to your work or business. 

 

Which group is right for you?

Virtual peer groups, roundtables, and masterminds all have a positive impact. 

Just by going at anything as a group is empowering and liberating and makes anyone less stressed. Being alone and tackling big goals without support doesn’t help with the mental and spiritual health.

But when should you use a virtual peer group versus roundtables or mastermind?

To help you choose, consider this question: What problem am I trying to solve? 

If it is emotional, friendly, and non-committal support you are looking for, then a virtual peer group that you can find on Linkedin or social media may be a good fit.

If you have a burning or unexpected issue that you need to solve, then a roundtable may be a good option for you. 

For instance, let’s say a consumer data security regulation is going into effect in one month.

Joining a roundtable may give you the chance to get in front of data protection officers, web and data technologists, marketers, senior leaders, and legal teams to help you troubleshoot your solution.

Lastly, if you’d like to see tangible results for your digital marketing efforts in a given period and don’t have the support you need in your current environment, then the digital marketing mastermind may help.

 

How to find a peer group?

Now that you know what kind of group you need, how do you find one?

Although we have Google at our fingertips, it still is a bit tricky in finding the best peer groups for you. So aside from doing a keyword search here is where I would start:

  • Check out the Breaking The One Percent. This is a website that lists top Facebook marketing groups to join.
  • Look to your favorite people, authors, and public figures. Dive into their content, their websites, and research to see if they have open groups to join. Typically public figures have groups on social media platforms such as Linkedin or Facebook, like one I am in on Akimbo around Seth Godin’s thought leadership.
  • Look at the publications you read regularly. Many times there are groups that are exclusively for die-hard followers. An example is the Fast Company Impact Council that brings together founders, CEO, and some of the most creative people in the business.
  • Look at your Linkedin feed. Look at those figures or articles that pop up continuously and go and check them out. The algorithms sometimes know more than you. 

If all fails, check out this list on the 17 Facebook Marketing Groups to join now from INC,  the 7 Best Facebook Groups for Inbound Marketers from IMPACT, or the 20 Linkedin Groups Every Marketer Should Join from HubSpot.  

You can also connect with others in the IMPACT community in the virtual peer groups of IMPACT+!





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Marketing Strategies

The 24 Modern Marketing Commandments

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There’s something brand-new marketers need to know.

There’s a foundation for marketing—that when followed, it will lead to success. It’s a foundation that has transcended from traditional marketing to digital marketing and whatever comes after.

We call these the Modern Marketing Commandments. They’re the 24 pillars of marketing that you can base any successful strategy off of, like the necessity of inspiring action and the importance of talking to customers.

These commandments couldn’t come from just anyone. They’d have to come from someone with experience who has lived in the marketing world for a long time—and even helped shape it. Someone who’s spoken on hundreds of stages to the best marketers in the world, built his own company to teach marketers, and spent the majority of his career marketing to… marketers.

You guessed it—the only person we could think of that could lay out the Modern Marketing Commandments is our CEO, Ryan Deiss.

Time to give him the stage…

Here are Ryan’s 24 Modern Marketing Commandments.

#1: Thou shalt build revenue FIRST and brand SECOND. Brand matters, but the primary goal must be sales. It’s possible to sacrifice brand at the altar of sales and still recover, but you cannot sacrifice sales at the altar of brand and hope to survive.

#2: Thou shalt write offers… not slogans. Slogans might win awards, but they don’t make sales. Great marketing inspires ACTION! It does not merely inform or entertain. Also, there’s a special place in marketing hell for advertisers and marketers who stack up awards for their “creativity” but who have never owned or influenced a sales number. They would do us all a favor if they stuck to finger painting.

#3: Thou shalt balance data with gut. Data should rule the day 9 times out of 10, but sometimes you need to trust your instincts and do the things that can’t be tracked.

#4: Thou shalt be willing to pay for attention and awareness. Paid vs. organic… inbound vs. outbound. This is not a debate. This is choosing dessert at a buffet. The answer is, “YES!”

#5: Thou shalt endeavor to piss at least a few people off. The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s apathy. If your brand doesn’t have any haters, it almost certainly doesn’t have any raving fanatics, either. Great marketing DIVIDES!

#6: Thou shalt be specific. Make specific in claims and deliver specific in content. If you want your brand to be respected, start taking stands and speaking in absolutes!!! (Like, for example, posting a self-aggrandizing list of “marketing commandments” on Twitter.)

#7: Thou shalt not stop marketing just because a lead is generated or a sale is made. Marketing shouldn’t stop at the order just like date nights shouldn’t stop after you get married. Never let the romance die.

#8: Thou shalt deliver BIG ideas using as few words as possible (F = ma)—“When you have nothing to say, for the love of God don’t let someone convince you that you need to say it.”—Roy H. Williams

#9: Thou shalt use as many words as needed… there’s no such thing as too long… just too boring.

#10: Thou shalt deliver at least 2X what thou hast promised. Under-promise and over-deliver… don’t let your marketing write a check that your product can’t cash. (NOTE: It’s in the spirit of over-delivering that I give you more than 10 commandments…)

#11: Thou shalt not chase shiny objects. Stop talking to marketers about what’s new and what’s hot, and start talking to and watching what your customers are doing.

#12: Thou shalt choose clarity over cleverness – see Commandment #2.

#13: Thou shalt talk to your customers. How can you know what your customers want if you don’t talk to them? Marketing isn’t “guess and test.” Marketing is research, research, test, research, research, test, research,  test, then scale. You can’t call yourself a marketer if you haven’t talked to at least 25 customers.

#14: Thou shalt not confuse the reason people buy with the reason people stay. Customers quickly forget the real reason they purchased the moment you scratch that first itch. That’s why it’s essential that you speak with BOTH prospects and customers when writing copy.

#15: Thou shalt not propose marriage on a first date. Focus 70% of your time on the message, 25% of your time on determining the sequence of messages, and 5% of your time on targeting. Targeting is overrated. With the right message, the best targeting is always the untargeted target that is filtered by truly compelling, well-timed messaging.

#16: Thou shalt not pour water into a leaky bucket—OR—Thou shalt not amplify a turd. Optimize the offer FIRST… then amplify it.

#17: Thou shalt tell stories. Tell stories of transformation… stories of identity… stories of triumph over a common enemy. Humans do not take action until they have first imagined themselves taking that action, so paint a story of a more glorious future and then paint them into it. Do this, and they will ask you to take them there.

#18: Thou shalt remember that humans only ever buy one of two things: 1) transformation or 2) identity reinforcement. Know which thou art selling.

#19: Thou shalt be authentic. Speak like a human, don’t pretend to be something you aren’t, and above all else… tell the truth! (NOTE: Write in the King James version only when being ironical.)

#20: Thou shalt create movements. Don’t you know that movements are made when marketers stop talking about “drill bits” and “holes” entirely, and, instead, start talking about the evil bastard that created the need for the 1-inch hole in the first place?

#21: Thou shalt entertain. While information may capture someone’s attention for a moment, the only mechanism available to HOLD that attention is entertainment. As my friend Roy (see Commandment #8) likes to say, “Entertainment is the only currency available today that can purchase the attention of a too-distracted public.”

#22: Thou shalt make people laugh from time to time. The best marketers are able to pull off a joke at a funeral.

#23: Thou shalt make people cry, and yearn for things they do not yet have. It’s ok… it’s our yearnings that let us know we’re still alive. And most importantly…

#24: Thou shalt love thy customer and sincerely yearn for their happiness and success. Empathy is the most valuable skill in marketing, and the only one that can’t be taught).

These commandments are the foundation of marketing—they’re what you build the rest of the house on with the confidence that no matter how big you make it, your foundation will never break.

Come back to them whenever you feel yourself getting distracted by the latest and greatest marketing tech stack or the new social media app everyone is claiming will knock Facebook off its pedestal.

Because it doesn’t matter what the tech or platforms are. All that matters is delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time.

And that’s all that will ever matter, today and beyond.

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