Errol Tobias: a black Bok in a white team

first_img3 July 2003Long before South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, Errol Tobias sealed his place in South African rugby history by becoming the first black player to start a Test match for the Springboks, when he faced Ireland at Newlands on 30 May 1981. He was 31 at the time.Ten years before that, Tobias had experienced international rugby in Britain with the Proteas, a side affiliated to the South African Rugby Football Federation, one of four rugby associations in South Africa at the time. In 1979 he made a big impact when he again toured Britain, starring in the South African Barbarians team.Two years later, Tobias’ break and selection to the Springboks happened when centre Willie du Plessis was injured.Opposition to Tobias’ inclusionIt wasn’t an easy break to deal with. There was opposition to Tobias’ inclusion from both black and white communities. Some within his own community in Caledon felt he should not play as long as apartheid policies existed, while many white people who supported apartheid wanted Tobias excluded.Remembering that time, Tobias said: “We had no say in politics. We didn’t even have a vote, so all I knew at that stage was to play rugby. My goal was to show the country and the rest of the world that we had black players who were equally as good, if not better, than the whites, and that if you are good enough you should play.”Tobias turned out in both Tests against the touring Irish, with South Africa winning 23-15 at Newlands and 12-10 in Durban. In that same year, Tobias was selected for the Springbok tour of New Zealand, but found himself out of favour and restricted to appearances in the midweek side.England thrashedHe had to wait some time for his next Test cap, which came in 1984 against England in South Africa. With Tobias pulling the strings at flyhalf, the Springboks handed the English two big losses, 33-15 in Port Elizabeth and 35-9 in Johannesburg.Later that year Tobias played his final two Tests for the Boks, and was again on the winning side. Facing South America, the Springboks triumphed 22-13 in Cape Town and 32-15 in Pretoria – meaning Tobias never played in a losing South African side in a Test match.What was perhaps more significant in the series against the South Americans was that Western Province centre Avril Williams became the second player of colour to win a Springbok cap. Thanks to Tobias, who had paved the way, the long road to the integration of rugby had begun.RetirementTobias retired in 1984 at the age of 34, having played 15 times for the Springboks, including in six Tests. He scored 22 points in those Tests, from one try, four penalties and three conversions.Kicking, though, was not what his game was about. He was a running flyhalf, a strong man, with an eye for the gap and also with the skills to set up the players around him.With a gifted backline lined up outside of him – including great players like Danie Gerber and Carel du Plessis – Tobias excelled at orchestrating flowing movements that tore the opposition to shreds. In the four matches that he played at flyhalf, South Africa scored 122 points, running in 18 tries, 12 of them by backline players.Still involvedSince retiring from the game, Tobias has continued to be involved in rugby, coaching his home club, Caledon, and also lending a hand with the provincial team, the Boland Cavaliers. A former bricklayer, he now runs also his own construction company. He also does rugby commentary for the SuperSport channel.Although he played only six Tests, Errol Tobias opened the eyes of many South African rugby fans, who had previously not known what talent lay hidden in the ranks of the players of colour. More importantly, he paved the way for future Springboks from those ranks.Had he started his international career at a younger age, in a different time, Tobias might well have won many more Springbok caps. He is rightly regarded as a legend of South African rugby.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

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The JSE All Share index loses steam to head south

first_imgLocal marketsThe JSE All Share index closed down 0.97% as losses in all the indices flagged ongoing globals concerns. Widespread local power outages added to these woes. Industrials were down 1.13%.At the 5pm close a USD bought R12.06, the British pound changed for R18.01 and the euro traded for R13.00. Gold was trading at USD 1205.99 per oz and Brent crude rose to USD 64.43 per barrel. International marketsIn Asia today the Shanghai index closed at a 7 year high, up 2.20% followed by a rise of 0.51% in the Hang Seng. The Nikkei was down 1.17% lead south on a sell off in Sony and Yamaha stocks.European stocks were in negative territory at our close once again on concerns of Greece not making a debt repayment which lead banking stocks down. The FTSE 100 lost 0.90% the DAX retreated 2.24% and the CAC 40 slipped 1.48%After 2 hours trading the US markets had lost ground on concerns of a pending bout of short selling in Asian markets as Chinese futures tumbled after their close. The S&P 500 tracked down 1.08% the Dow Jones lost 1.46% and the Nasdaq had slid 1.46% at our close. Share price newsAmongst the best performing share today were Finbond Group Ltd (FGL) which gained 13.64% to sell at R4.00 per share after 913,716 shares were bought in 178 deals. The Pivotal Fund Ltd (PIV) rose 4.88% to sell at R21.50 per share following 105 deals which bought 1,982,288 shares.The biggest loser today was Naspers Ltd (NPN) which shrank 5.21% to sell at R1834.12 per share as 10537 deals sold 1,245,666 shares. Petmin Ltd (PET) lost 1.63% to close at R1.25 per share after 1,471,465 shares were sold in 114 deals.last_img read more

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Taking property without just compensation

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural and Resource Law ProgramA property owner may bring a claim in federal court under the Fifth Amendment when the government has violated the Takings Clause by taking property without just compensation. This case involved a township ordinance requiring all cemeteries to be held open and accessible to the general public during daylight hours. A property owner with a small family graveyard was notified that she was violating the ordinance. The property owner filed suit in state court arguing that the ordinance constituted a taking of her property, but did not seek compensation. The township responded by saying it would withdraw the notice of violation and not enforce the ordinance against her. The state court said that the matter was therefore resolved, but the property owner was not satisfied with that decision. She decided to bring a takings claim in federal court.Before this decision, there was a roadblock to bringing such claim. Lower courts had read a previous Supreme Court decision to say that if a state or local government commits a taking, the property owner would first have to seek a remedy through the state’s adverse condemnation procedure before going to federal court. But in doing so, the property owner would actually not have a chance to bring the claim in federal court because the federal court would have to give full faith and credit to the state court decision. At first, that seemed like what would happen to the property owner because the state court had decided that the issue was moot since the township had agreed not to enforce the ordinance against her. But the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the property owner by taking the rare action of overruling its prior precedent. Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, was not an Ohio court case, but rather one that made its way all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.The final opinion handed down by the justices is certainly important, but it is also notable for Ohio because the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) submitted an amicus brief in support of the property owner through its legal counsel, Vorys Sater Seymour and Pease, LLP of Columbus. The brief cited examples in Ohio showing that the Supreme Court’s prior precedent was causing problems for Ohio property owners by limiting their access to federal courts in Fifth Amendment takings claims. OFBF has noted that this was the first time it had submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.last_img read more

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Column: A look back at the best (and mostly worst) in sports

first_imgChris Rock? Billy Crystal? Who has Ellen DeGeneres’ number?(Insert sound of crickets.)Well, since no one appears interested in a major career boost, we’ll resort to our usual method for doling out the 2018 awards.Without further ado, the winners (using that term very loosely) are:INVERTEBRATE AWARDADVERTISEMENT You see, we never even got to the point where Kevin Hart accepted the honor, then had to withdraw because people capable of working the screengrab function pointed out that he’s posted some terrible things about gay people.I guess the lack of an actual ceremony — not to mention those all-important goody bags they hand out backstage — has stifled our search just a bit.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefBut we’ve still got time to rectify the situation.Anyone interested? Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting MOST READ The city of Atlanta was once dubbed “Losersville,” with good reason. Until this year, the 1995 World Series-winning Braves were the A-T-L’s only big-time champions (though those who remember soccer’s Atlanta Chiefs, all 14 of them, would beg to differ). Atlanta United broke the 23-year drought by winning the Major League Soccer championship in just its second season. While certainly out of character for the city United calls home, the title was a fitting reward for a franchise that has stunningly become one of the best-supported teams in the world. Atlanta broke its own league record by averaging more than 53,000 fans per game during the regular season. Every playoff game drew more than 70,000.MOST AMERICAN-LIKE PERFORMANCE AT THE RYDER CUPReturning to form after winning golf’s premier team competition in 2016, the star-studded U.S. team was blown out by the Europeans at Le Golf National outside Paris. One week removed from his first victory in more than five years, Tiger Woods went 0-4 in the Ryder Cup. Phil Mickelson lost both his matches as well. Europe romped to a 17½-10½ victory — its ninth triumph in the last 12 tries of the one-sided rivalry.JUAN ANTONIO SAMARANCH BOONDOGGLE CUPThis award will now be handed out every other year. In other words, during every Olympic year, when the city that just hosted the games realizes what a financial mess it left behind. After this year’s Winter Games, Pyeongchang was saddled with empty venues, feuding over who pays for upkeep and a glistening ski course that’s now an abandoned dirt runway. To the surprise of no one, there wasn’t much use for a speedskating arena, or a hockey center, or a bobsled track, or a ski-jump stadium once the 2½-week party was over. Now, it looks as if many of those venues might have to be razed because it’s too costly to keep them open. Kudos to the South Koreans, who faithfully followed the wasteful tradition established by Montreal and Athens and Sochi and Rio de Janeiro.We look forward to handing out the next prize to Tokyo in 2020.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. FIFA research says 3.5 billion people viewed some World Cup action LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño TS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? FILE – Vegas Golden Knights players hug after a 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks during Game 6 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series, Sunday, May 6, 2018, in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)Wanted: a host for the sixth annual Newby awards.Yes, we’re in a bit of a bind, though nothing like the good folks at the Academy Awards.ADVERTISEMENT BREAKING: Corrections officer shot dead in front of Bilibid View comments SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion LATEST STORIES Hotel management clarifies SEAG footballers’ kikiam breakfast issue Always one of the most competitive categories in sports, this year the choice is clear. While it’s hard to deny the spineless wonders at the World Anti-Doping Agency, who went against the advice of pretty much everyone except Vladimir Putin when they in effect forgave Russia for its massive doping operation, we’ve got to go with those who looked the other way for years when faced with very clear evidence of Larry Nassar’s serial sexual abuse. Really, folks, this should be an easy one. If you know of a doctor, coach or anyone who is abusing another human being, report it. Nassar will spend the rest of his miserable life behind bars. Those who allowed him to get away with his crimes for so long are equally culpable.URBAN LIAR 101While we’re on the subject of lacking backbone, let’s not forget Urban Meyer. The Rose Bowl will go down as his last game, but we’d prefer to focus on some other achievements that came to light during his final season as Ohio State coach. Like spending the better part of the past decade hiding, denying, ignoring and justifying the horrific behavior of assistant coach Zach Smith. Meyer served a three-game suspension, returned to lead the Buckeyes to another Big Ten title, and then announced his retirement. Of course, disgraced coaches never just fade away. Meyer says he’ll be back on campus next year to teach a course on character and leadership. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.WORST FAREWELL TOURDanica Patrick, who had far more success on Madison Avenue than she did on the race track, closed her career in appropriate style. The much-ballyhooed “Danica Double” turned into the Danica Dud when Patrick crashed out of both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. She finished 35th out of 40 drivers in her final stock-car race, followed by 30th out of 33 in her Indy-car capper. While Patrick was undoubtedly a highly influential figure, it feels as if her career was largely an opportunity wasted.BEST DEBUTTalk about a longshot. The Vegas Golden Knights brought the NHL to the glittery land of all-you-can-eat buffets, watered-down drinks and washed-up stars. But instead of going through the growing pains that are a rite of passage for most expansion franchises, the Golden Knights won their division and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final. Alas, that’s where the fairytale ended with a loss to the Washington Capitals. Too bad. If nothing else, it would’ve been fun to needle Toronto fans that an expansion team we presume was coached by Wayne Newton held the title champions of hockey, while the Maple Leafs haven’t won the cup in over a half-century.SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR REDUNDANCYThe College Football Playoff is certainly a welcome upgrade over previous methods for selecting a national champion, but it’s also clear that changes are needed. The same teams keep showing up in the four-team field, including Alabama all five years, Clemson four times and Oklahoma on three occasions. Notre Dame is the only newcomer this season. An eight-team playoff would be an easy fix, giving automatic berths to each of the Power Five conference champions, another automatic berth to the top team from the Group of Five, and two wild-card spots to round out the field. Of course, that makes so much sense we can expect the powers-that-be to resist with all their might. Oh well, maybe next century.MOST UNLIKELY TITLE SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionlast_img read more

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How Dynamic Content Makes Your Marketing a Helluva Lot More Personal

first_img Smart Content Smart content leverages the valuable insights your visitors, leads, and customers have provided you with: their interests, preferences, and historical behavior. Make sure you put that knowledge to work by guiding and supporting your prospective customers with personalized content. Every potential buyer should be recognized as an individual with unique and evolving questions; smart content is one tool in your arsenal for creating marketing that’s more personalized and tailored to their needs. To learn more about smart content or get additional personalization ideas, take a look at my new ebook, An Introduction to Using Dynamic Content in Your Marketing .Image credit: sucamara The first time Amazon introduced me to the perfect book for me via their recommendation engine, I was completely awed. The idea that a website could not only recognize a return visitor, but also discern their interests and alter their site experience accordingly, felt like nothing short of magic.Since then, data-driven personalization has become more common, though not entirely pervasive in the marketing space — perhaps due to a lack of understanding around how it really works. I mean, just what drives all this highly adaptive content? And how does it affect a lead’s decision-making process? In this post, we’ll break down the concept of “smart” or “dynamic” content — that’s what all this personalization revolved around, after all — and explain what it is, how it works, and even give you some strategies for incorporating it into your marketing.  What is Smart Content? Also referred to as “dynamic” or “adaptive” content, smart content is a term for the aspects of a website, ad, or email body that change based on the interests or past behavior of the viewer. It creates an experience that’s customized specifically for the visitor or reader at that moment. One of the most well-known examples of smart content is Amazon’s recommendation engine, which we talked about in this post’s introduction. Other forms, however, range from personalization fields in emails to entire images or offers on a webpage that shift based on who is looking at them. How Smart Content Works  The key to dynamic content’s effectiveness is its relevancy. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that marketing that is targeted and more relevant to the end-recipient tends to see better results. For instance, relevant emails drive 18X more revenue than broadcast emails ( Jupiter Research ). Eighteen flippin’ times more revenue! And leads who are nurtured with targeted content produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities ( Annuitas Group ). That’s nothing to shake a stick at.Relevancy is all born from information. Not just demographic and contact information, but saved insights about the materials that have mattered to a particular lead or customer across their relationship with your company. That data then fuels the technology and set of rules that assigns the right content to the right person at the right time . Some of the technology involved includes: A Centralized Marketing Database:  Your marketing database is the brain behind your dynamic content. It stores your contacts’ download and interaction history with your site. A Smart Content Generator: Informed by the database, a smart content generator will show or hide content (blocks of images or text) based on rules you set.  Malleable Web Pages: A dynamic site has to be one that is easily editable and typically marketing-controlled, rather than run through another department like IT. An Integrated Email System: Extending smart content to the emails you send will require an email system that is tied into your contact database. Smart Content Marketing Strategies Now that you know what smart content is and how it works, you should use it all the time without discrimination.Just kidding. Actually, the bottom line with smart content is to make sure you’re purposeful and intentional about its use. Smart content should create a better experience for your leads and customers. When you’re integrating smart content of any sort into your marketing strategy, start with the question of how it will improve potential customers’ time on your site or with your emails. Here are a few places to start if you’re having trouble envisioning how to integrate smart content into your marketing. Eliminate Repeat Conversions If a website visitor has already downloaded a particular lead generation offer or purchased a particular item, use smart rules to remove that offer from their view. The result is two-fold: you’ll create a website or shopping experience that never gets old for your customers, and create an opportunity for you as a marketer to expose fresh offers and products that boost reconversions.  Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Sep 10, 2012 2:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Tailor to Lead Lifecycle Stage If you’re new to the concept of “lifecycle stage,” it doesn’t mean whether the visitor is a senior citizen or college student. A lead’s lifecycle stage refers to how far along the visitor is in his or her decision-making process. Is this their first visit? Are they ready to buy? Are they still evaluating options? Taking what you know about how much experience a particular lead has can help you avoid over-selling to someone who is in the early stage of their research — or perhaps worse, missing out on an opportunity to sell to someone who is ready to make a purchase.We’ve talked a lot on this blog about mapping content to the stages of a potential customer’s buying cycle . This is typically done through a series of gradually evolving emails in a lead nurturing campaign. Smart content tools, like HubSpot’s smart CTAs , can also extend this adaptability to your website and landing pages.   Help Loyal Customers Skip Excess or Unnecessary Steps Many B2B companies offer content behind a form in order to generate leads. While this is a nice way to get to know new leads, it’s also a huge hassle for customers who may be interested in the content, but have already filled out your forms on a number of occasions. Rather than having a customer fill out yet another form, using smart or dynamic content can enable you to recognize a visitor as a customer, and give them a call-to-action that either minimizes the form fields or lets them bypass the download form entirely. Adapt to Reflect Different Industries or Personas Most companies serve a number of different personas from a variety of industries. While it may be difficult to tailor to every different industry you touch, dynamic content can help you create a highly customized experience for your highest-value industries.Start by talking with your sales team about the different personas or industries with whom they have had the best success. Then pick one or two industries to focus in on at first as a test. Use smart content to set a default, and then another set of images that reflect your top industry segments. In the example below, we’ve selected two images — one to represent the manufacturing industry, and another the healthcare industry. When anyone from those industries lands on a given page, this image will change to reflect that context. Topics:last_img read more

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The Ultimate Resource for 2013 Inbound Marketing Stats and Charts [SlideShare]

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published May 20, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Inbound Marketing Data I love reading great writing, which is what we aim to deliver consistently on this blog. But sometimes you’re just looking for a compelling piece of data to plug into a presentation or support a point you’re making in your writing. Well, if that’s what you need today, then this post is for you.Here, we’ve compiled the ultimate resource of charts (86 of ’em in the SlideShare below!) and statistics from the recently released 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report. Feel free to use this data in your own content, tweet the stats you find most interesting, or just enlighten yourself about the current state of inbound marketing.86 Revealing Charts From the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Reportcenter_img 86 Revealing Charts From the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report from HubSpot All-in-one Marketing Software150+ Tweetable Stats About the Current State of Inbound MarketingThe Industry Reach of Inbound Marketing1) 60% of companies have adopted some element of the inbound marketing methodology into their overall strategy. Tweet This Stat2) 19% of marketers are unsure whether to characterize their marketing activities as inbound. Tweet This Stat3) Marketing agencies are the most advanced inbound marketing adaptors, with 73% implementing inbound strategies. Tweet This Stat4) B2B companies are early to embrace inbound marketing — 65% implemented inbound practices in 2013, while just 46% of B2C companies report doing inbound marketing. Tweet This Stat5) Only 41% of nonprofits report adopting inbound tactics for 2013. Tweet This Stat6) 81% of companies report some level of integration between inbound marketing and larger marketing goals. Tweet This Stat7) Only 5% of companies do not integrate inbound marketing with larger marketing goals. Tweet This Stat8) 45% of CEOs say inbound is completely integrated in their organization. Tweet This Stat9) Marketing agencies are much more integrated than their peers, with 49% completely integrated and 86% at least somewhat integrated. Tweet This Stat10) Agencies are 25% more likely to implement inbound marketing than marketers in general. Tweet This Stat11) B2B companies are much more likely to be completely integrated. 38% of B2B companies completely integrate inbound compared to just 27% of B2C companies. Tweet This Stat12) Just 21% of enterprise companies completely assimilate inbound marketing into a larger marketing strategy. Tweet This StatThe ROI of Inbound Marketing13) 41% of marketers say inbound marketing produced measurable ROI in 2013. Tweet This Stat14) 41% of CMOs/CEOs report that inbound generated the positive ROI they sought last year. Tweet This Stat15) More than half of marketing agencies (51%) reported positive ROI for their inbound marketing efforts in 2013. Tweet This Stat16) 34% of businesses cannot or do not calculate inbound marketing ROI in 2013. Tweet This Stat17) 15% of marketers tie their inbound results directly to either company revenue or customers/wins generated. Tweet This Stat18) 1/4 of marketers report their top challenge in 2013 is proving the ROI of their inbound marketing efforts. Tweet This Stat19) 30% of marketing agencies say proving the ROI of inbound marketing is their top challenge — 15% more than the industry at large. Tweet This StatMarketing Budgets20) 48% of marketers will increase their inbound marketing budget in 2013 — the 3rd year in a row inbound budgets are increasing at or near a 50% pace. Tweet This Stat21) 53% of CEOs/CMOs increased their 2013 inbound marketing budgets. Tweet This Stat22) Enterprise companies (200+ employees) increased their marketing budgets 17% more slowly than the larger population – at a rate of 42%. Tweet This Stat23) Past success at inbound marketing was the number one reason to change a budget in 2012 — a full 150% more likely to drive budgets allocations than any other reason. Tweet This Stat24) SEO and social media accounted for a combined 23% of all inbound budget allocations in 2013. Tweet This Stat25) Just 9% of marketers reduced their inbound budgets in 2013. Tweet This Stat26) 45% of B2B companies increased marketing budgets due to past inbound success. Tweet This Stat27) Outbound budgets continue their annual decline, amounting to just 23% of all marketing spending in 2013. Tweet This Stat28) Today, marketers allocate 34% of their overall budgets to inbound tactics — 11% more than they dedicate to outbound strategies, such as banners, PPC, and other tactics. Tweet This Stat29) 23% of marketers adjusted their 2013 budget because of the economy. Tweet This Stat30) 14% of all budget changes in 2013 were the result of a change in management. Tweet This Stat31) 20% of marketers report securing enough budget is their top 2013 challenge. Tweet This StatBusiness Blogging 32) 62% of marketers surveyed will blog in 2013. Tweet This Stat33) 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result. Tweet This Stat34) 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing this year. Tweet This Stat35) Blogs produced a new customer for 43% of marketers last year. Tweet This Stat36) Just 20% of companies without a blog reported ROI from inbound marketing in 2013. Tweet This Stat37) Blogging has enjoyed strong annual budget growth — 23% of marketers invested in blogs for 2013, a 9% increase from 2012. Tweet This Stat38) 9% of companies employ a full-time blogger. Tweet This Stat39) 43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog this year, and blogging requires roughly 9% of marketers’ total full-time staff dedications and 7% of their total budget. Tweet This Stat40) Blogs produce low-cost leads for 24% of the marketing community. Tweet This Stat41) While blogs require roughly 9% of marketers’ total full-time staff dedications, they also demand just 7% of marketers’ total budget outlay this year. Tweet This Stat42) 43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog with less than 10% of total time allocation. Tweet This StatContent Creation 43) 18% of marketers confirmed that developing quality content was their top priority in 2013. Tweet This Stat44) 11% of marketers say their top challenge in 2013 is targeting content for an international audience. Tweet This Stat45) 10% of companies have a dedicated marketer for content creation. Tweet This StatSearch Engine Optimization46) After four straight years of consistent SEO outlays, search engine allocations dropped 3% this year to 11% of marketers’ overall budgets. Tweet This Stat47) SEO delivered 14% of marketers’ total lead sources and 13% of all customers in 2013. Tweet This Stat48) SEO is the top channel for sales conversions, with 15% of marketers reporting it produces above average conversion rates in 2013. Tweet This Stat49) SEO is one of the top lead generation sources, with 25% of marketers finding it produces a below average cost per lead this year. Tweet This Stat50) 15% of marketers say SEO delivers above average sales conversions. Tweet This Stat51) 9% of companies have either a full-time SEO expert or blog lead. Tweet This Stat52) SEO consumes an average of 9% of marketers’ overall time, and its leads convert to sales at an industry leading 15% — 50% better than trade shows, the leading traditional marketing channel. Tweet This StatSocial Media Marketing53) Social media accounts for 14% of marketers’ total lead pipeline this year. Tweet This Stat54) 13% of marketers noted that social media generates above average lead conversion rates. Tweet This Stat55) 21% of marketers report that social media has become more important to their company over the past six months. Tweet This Stat56) Social media staffs more full-time employees than any other team –16% engage a full-time social media practitioner. Tweet This Stat57) Social media requires just 10% more effort, on average, than most traditional marketing roles. Tweet This Stat58) The 16% of marketers who dedicate their time to social media in 2013 will also deliver the highest proportion of leads, at 14%. Tweet This StatSocial Media Channel Conversions 59) 52% of all marketers generated a lead from Facebook in 2013. Tweet This Stat60) 74% said Facebook is important to their lead generation strategy in 2013. Tweet This Stat61) 43% of marketers generated a customer from LinkedIn in 2013. Tweet This Stat62) Company blogs produced a customer for 43% of marketers in 2013. Tweet This Stat63) 36% of markers found a new customer from Twitter this year. Tweet This Stat64) A relatively new channel, Google+ delivered customers for 15% of marketers this year. Tweet This Stat65) In 2013, 9% of marketers sourced a customer from Pinterest. Tweet This Stat66) Social media budgets grew 9% in 2013, to 23% of all marketing allocations. Tweet This Stat67) Agency firms’ social media conversions are 41% better than industry averages — 17% of agencies reported above average social conversions in 2013. Tweet This StatEmail Marketing 68) Only 27% of marketers bought an email list this year. Tweet This Stat69) Of the marketers who bought an email list in 2013, just 9% said it was very effective. Tweet This Stat70) Email marketing as a  channel was the third overall lead gen source for marketers in 2013, producing 13% of all leads. Tweet This Stat71) Email marketing produced above average lead conversions for 27% of marketers in 2013. Tweet This Stat72) 11% of companies employ a dedicated email marketer. Tweet This StatWebsite Conversion73) The average 2013 website conversion rate is10%, industry-wide. Tweet This Stat74) Inbound marketers’ average website conversion is double the rate of non-inbound marketers — 12% vs. 6%. Tweet This Stat75) The average website conversion rate for small companies is 8%. Tweet This Stat76) The average website conversion rate for medium-sized companies is13%. Tweet This Stat77) The average website conversion rate for enterprise companies (with 200+ employees) is 10%. Tweet This Stat78) The average B2B website conversion rate is 9%. Tweet This Stat79) The average B2C website conversion rate is 8%. Tweet This StatLead Generation80) 20% of marketers say increasing total lead volume is their top priority this year. Tweet This Stat81) 22% of marketers say converting leads into customers is their top marketing priority for 2013. Tweet This Stat82) 34% of the leads marketers generate in 2013 come from inbound marketing sources — vs. 22% from outbound. Tweet This Stat83) Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound leads. Tweet This Stat84) Traditional methods to source leads and customers generate just 22% of all leads in 2013. Tweet This Stat85) Top lead generation sources include social media and SEO, each contributing 14% of marketers’ total pipeline in 2013. Tweet This Stat86) PPC accounted for just 6% of all leads for marketers in 2013. Tweet This Stat 87) Trade shows and direct mail each provide just 8% of all leads for the 2013 marketing funnel. Tweet This Stat88) Traditional marketing contributes 6% of all leads for marketers in 2013. Tweet This Stat89) 17% of marketers indicate that traditional marketing has become less important over the past six months. Tweet This StatCost per Lead90) Twice as many marketers say inbound delivers a below average cost per lead vs. outbound strategies (8% vs. 4%). Tweet This Stat91) 27% of marketers report that social media produced below average lead costs in 2013. Tweet This Stat92) 27% of marketers report that email marketing produces a below average total cost per lead. Tweet This Stat93) 25% of marketers report that SEO provides a below average cost per lead. Tweet This Stat94) 24% of marketers report that blogs deliver a below average cost per lead. Tweet This Stat95) U.S. inbound marketers spending more than $25K per year saved an average of 13% in overall cost per lead (CPL) in 2013, for an average CPL of $36 vs. $41. Tweet This Stat96) The average B2B cost per lead is $43*. Tweet This Stat97) The average B2C cost per lead is $15*. Tweet This Stat98) The average cost per lead for marketers with a formal sales agreement is $24*. Tweet This Stat99) The average cost per lead for marketers without a formal sales agreement is $49*. Tweet This Stat100) 16% of marketers cite industry conferences as producing an above average cost per lead. Tweet This Stat101) 27% of B2B marketers indicate that email also produces below average lead costs. Tweet This Stat102) 28% of tech firms report that trade shows top out lead costs. Tweet This Stat* (Note: This data includes marketers who reported $0 CPL, which may skew the data.)Cost per Customer103) U.S. inbound marketers spending more than $25K per year saved $14 dollars for every new customer acquired vs. those relying on outbound strategies — $254 vs. $268. Tweet This Stat104) The average cost per customer for enterprise companies with a formal marketing-sales agreement is $291*. Tweet This Stat105) The average B2B cost per customer is $264*. Tweet This Stat106) The average B2C cost per customer is $149*. Tweet This Stat* (Note: This data includes marketers who reported $0 cost per customer, which may skew the data.)Lead Scoring 107) 67% of marketers rate lead scoring as important to their strategic success. Tweet This Stat108) 72% of C-level marketers said lead scoring was important to achieving marketing goals. Tweet This Stat109) 75% of international marketers say lead scoring is important to their marketing strategy — and 41% find lead scoring very important. Tweet This StatMarketing Testing 110) 45% of marketers do not test their inbound marketing campaigns. Tweet This Stat111) 21% of marketers do not know if they test or not. Tweet This Stat112) Over 2/3 of all inbound strategies will not be effectively tested in 2013. Tweet This Stat113) Just 3% of inbound marketers test all the time. Tweet This Stat114) Companies that test are 75% more likely to show ROI for inbound marketing than those that ignore testing. Tweet This Stat115) 36% of testing marketers report monthly testing campaigns. Tweet This Stat116) 28% of marketers testing their campaigns do it less than monthly. Tweet This Stat117) 51% of executives test at least monthly to improve inbound results. Tweet This Stat118) 20% of marketers use A/B testing. Tweet This StatAudience Targeting/Persona Focus 119) 50% of marketers consider their companies to be primarily customer focused. Tweet This Stat120) Nearly 25% of marketers say reaching the right audience is their top priority for 2013. Tweet This Stat121) B2C companies were 20% more likely to be customer focused than their B2B counterparts (59% vs. 47%). Tweet This StatMarketing Focus and Goals 122) 15% of companies are primarily focusing on their products in 2013. Tweet This Stat123) 13% of marketers say they are primarily sales focused. Tweet This Stat124) Nearly 70% of marketing-focused companies implemented inbound marketing strategies, as opposed to 60% of customer-focused companies. Tweet This Stat125) 49% of marketing-focused companies say they achieved positive ROI from inbound marketing. Tweet This Stat126) Just 38% of sales-focused companies reported positive inbound marketing ROI for 2013. Tweet This StatWorking With Sales and Executives127) Only 17% of sales teams fully support their company’s inbound marketing efforts. Tweet This Stat128) Just 18% of CEOs report they provide significant support for inbound marketing initiatives. Tweet This Stat129) Just 9% of C-level teams at companies with 200+ employees fully support inbound campaigns. Tweet This Stat130) Just 14% of B2B sales teams support B2B inbound efforts. Tweet This Stat131) 24% of companies have a formal handoff between their marketing and sales teams. Tweet This Stat132) 73% of the companies that reported a formal marketing-sales agreement are engaged in inbound marketing in 2013, as opposed to 50% with no defined lead handoff. Tweet This Stat133) Adopting a marketing-sales agreement saves enterprise companies an average of $195.84 in total cost per customer. Tweet This Stat134) 47% of CEO/CMOs say their firms do not have a formal marketing-sales handoff. Tweet This Stat135) 37% of enterprise companies have formal agreements with their sales teams. Tweet This Stat136) 37% of enterprise marketers have yet to establish formal contracts with their sales teams. Tweet This Stat137) Technology firms — where the term service level agreement (SLA) originated — report that 40% of their teams have formalized marketing-sales agreements. Tweet This Stat138) Only 17% of sales teams and 11% of company executives lend their full support (in terms of budget, resources, or political capital) to inbound marketing efforts. Tweet This Stat139) B2B companies are 8% more likely to delineate marketing-sales obligations than B2C companies. Tweet This StatMarketing Technology 140) 46% of marketers use Google Analytics’ free reporting. Tweet This Stat141) 18% of marketers say finding tools to accurately measure ROI is a major challenge of their technology systems. Tweet This Stat142) 20% of C-suite marketers said using technology to gauge ROI is their principle technology concern. Tweet This Stat143) Despite the impending big data influx, just 15% of marketers’ say their top tech concern is managing all their data. Tweet This Stat144) 16% of marketers say that controlling technology is the most significant challenge they face in 2013. Tweet This Stat145) B2C companies spend slightly more time than average fighting with technology — 19% versus the 15% average. Tweet This Stat146) 24% of marketers say their IT teams provide the least support for inbound marketing efforts. Tweet This Stat147) 26% of B2B tech groups impede inbound efforts, vs. 20% for B2C companies. Tweet This Stat148) 31% of marketers in enterprise companies indicate a lack of support from their IT teams. Tweet This StatMarketing Hiring 149) Hiring top talent is the top challenge for 9% of marketers, while 8% say it’s training their teams. Tweet This Stat150) Most marketing teams will at least double by the end of the year. Tweet This Stat151) Inbound marketers plan to hire an average of 9.3 people this year — 125% more growth than teams not executing inbound marketing. Tweet This Stat152) On average, marketers plan to hire 4.5 team members in 2013. Tweet This Stat153) Enterprise companies expect the most personnel growth, citing plans to hire an average of 18.6 full-time marketers this year. Tweet This StatMarketing Staffing154) 81% of all marketers work in teams of fewer than 6 people. Tweet This Stat155) This small team environment is pervasive at every level — 31% of companies with 200+ employees still work in 5-person teams or fewer. Tweet This Stat156) International marketers also operate with smaller staffs — 50% work in small teams of 1-5. Tweet This Stat157) Nearly 30% of marketers don’t even have one full-time marketer dedicated to inbound. Tweet This Stat158) 6% of marketers continue to dedicate time exclusively to each trade shows, direct mail, and telemarketing. Tweet This StatWhich statistics surprised you the most? 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Google’s New AdWords Quality Score Reporting: Where Did All My 10s Go?

first_img Google Updates Originally published Aug 28, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Recently, Google announced a change in the way Quality Score would be reported within AdWords. The change, which they’re reportedly doing for more transparency, is supposed to tie your reported Quality Score — the figure between 1 and 10 that you see in AdWords — more closely with your actual Quality Score — the figure that gets calculated each time you enter the ad auction.As reported on the Inside AdWords blog:”Please note that this is only a change to how a keyword’s 1-10 Quality Score is reported. It does not change how Quality Score is calculated in real-time for each auction, and thus won’t have any direct effect on your ad performance. So unless you have automated rules tied directly to your reported 1-10 Quality Score, your ads should continue to behave as they did before.”So what does this really mean? How did reported Quality Scores change?The New Quality Score Curve: More 8s, But Fewer 10sTo figure out what was going on with the new Quality Score reporting, WordStream’s Product Quality Assurance Engineer, Andy Stefano, did a little digging. He looked at several hundred WordStream client accounts both before and after the change to see how reported Quality Scores had shifted. (Caveat: WordStream’s client bases consist mostly of small- and medium-sized businesses, so this may not be a representative sample across all types of AdWords accounts.)What Andy found was surprising — it appears that Google has shifted reported Quality Scores so they better fit a standard bell curve:As you can see, before the change, the curve looked like a sine wave, with a peak around 4, a dip around 8, and another peak at 10. (That spike at 10 probably represented a lot of branded keywords, since brand terms tend to get a really high clickthrough rate.) After the change, the curve looks like a hill, with the peak between 5 and 6 and frequency trailing off smoothly in either direction. (Oddly, there’s a very small local maximum at Quality Score 1.) At a high level, you may be seeing these effects in your account:Regression Toward the Mean: You may see a lot more Quality Scores in the middle range (4s, 5s, 6s, 7s) and fewer outliers at the high and low ends — with the possible exception of an increase in keywords with a Quality Score of 1.Bye-bye, Quality Score 10s: If this data is correct, you’ll be seeing a lot fewer 10s in your account. If you’ve suddenly lost a bunch of 10s and your average Quality Score has fallen as a result, don’t panic … and don’t blame your agency! Remember that according to Google, it’s a superficial change in reporting and does not reflect any behind-the-scenes changes in how your ad rank and cost per click are calculated.Will the New Quality Scores Affect Your AdWords Performance?If we take Google at their word, the answer is no — these apparent changes have nothing to do with your actual ad/keyword quality and relevance, so your ad positions, CPCs and other paid search KPIs shouldn’t change.The questions is, is that what we’ll really see? It’s too early to say, but it’s possible that the reporting changes coincide with some change in the Quality Score algorithm. If the real Quality Score curve has changed, we’d expect to see an increase in average CPC over time, since higher Quality Scores offer more of a discount on clicks.AdWords advertisers: Have you checked out your Quality Scores since the reporting change? Did Google snatch away your 10s?This is a guest post written by Elisa Gabbert. Elisa is the content marketing manager at WordStream Inc., a provider of search marketing software and services, including the free AdWords Grader. She manages the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog and you can follow her on Twitter at @egabbert.Image credit: woodleywonderworks Topics:last_img read more

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The Single Best Way to Convert More in Your Next Busy Season (and 4 Tactics to Get Started)

first_img Originally published Dec 22, 2014 10:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack If you run or work for an ecommerce business, you’re probably looking forward to some quiet time after the busiest few weeks of the year. Or perhaps your business has a different form of seasonality, and you’re just starting to prep for the next big shopping season. Either way, seasonality is constantly on the minds of ecommerce professionals. It elevates the pressure to perform and seriously increases the penalty of mistakes.As a result, there are dozens ongoing activities on the docket across both IT and line-of-business groups when preparing for elevated levels of traffic and activity. Many of them are covered in this interactive infographic, including how the business and technology sides of the house can approach key challenges like UX optimization, mobile, and monitoring. In this post, though, I’ll focus on one key aspect of seasonal preparation: optimizing website performance.The Biggest Opportunity?A strong case can be made for crowning website performance the single most important feature of ecommerce user experience.For one, studies have linked seemingly small changes in performance to major increases or decreases in conversion rate. One study found that a 1 second increase in page load time caused a 7% decline in conversions, while another found that a 2 second reduction in page load time doubled conversions.But there’s an even simpler way to frame the argument. Consider this: elements like design, copy, and visitor flow are important, but they are quickly made irrelevant if the user bounces away because she grows impatient with a slow page load. There can be no user experience without a user!Unfortunately for users of the Internet everywhere, this is not a problem that technology has yet solved at scale. Even as innovations have led to improvements in certain pieces of the complex process of delivering a web or mobile app to a user, page load times across the web have been slowing year over year. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do individually to make your site stand out above the rest. But first, let’s look at how we got here.The Challenge, or “How Did We Get So Slow?”Online retailers have an especially difficult road to achieve fast performance. This unfortunate position is the result of a growing imperative to produce extremely rich online shopping experiences. In short, users now expect to find lots of super hi-res images, videos, and useful (some say flashy) features like integrated reviews, live chat, and social media.Without these features retailers risk appearing outdated, so ecommerce teams have added them in droves.The proof of this trend is on the scales: pages across the web have been growing in number of bytes (commonly referred to as “weight”) on a nearly exponential scale since the early 2000s. And while the growth in page weight may be slowing slightly of late, it’s far from done. Just last year the pages of top ecommerce sites grew by 67% year over year.What Does Page Weight Gain Mean for Performance, Exactly?It’s intuitive to draw a line from “more stuff” to “takes longer.” More bytes means more work to be done. But here’s the key: to date, web browsers have borne the brunt of the weight increase.Today, bytes can travel across the Internet’s “middle mile” faster than ever. But once they arrive at the client – your PC, phone, tablet, or other device – it’s up to the browser to parse and render the incredibly complex and resource-intensive array of content. That’s where the slowdowns in performance we all know and hate occur: the client side, or front end.Many website owners have found this out the hard way when they employ expensive, old school solutions to the performance problem. When users complain about slow pages, they jump to upgrading web hosting, buying new servers, or migrating to new ecommerce platforms. Sure, these are all necessary steps when scaling up an online business – but right now we’re talking about performance. From the perspective of the end user, these upgrades barely register if the content on the pages doesn’t change. The Performance-Feature BindThis confluence of factors has placed ecommerce shops in a bind, where the imperative for more, more, more runs counter to (and often takes precedence over) the prerogatives of the IT folks who know this additive approach leads to slow load times. It seems that many organizations know their performance could be better, but still can’t resist the promise of a sexier, trendier app.The bind is problematic for everyone involved. The IT group’s job gets harder and harder with no equivalent adjustment in expectations, while business groups are frequently frustrated by flat conversion rate growth. Every year there’s talk of the latest tools and designs for improving ecommerce success, and relatively little on reconciling the competing needs for new features and better performance.Tactics: What You Can Do to Escape the Bind If you want to gain an edge on the competition in your next busy season, the best preparation is to focus on performance first – features and design second. Once you’re committed to putting performance high on the list there’s a whole world of options, including:1) Start at the source.Be maniacal about reducing page weight and requests. Compress the heck out of images (Compressor.io is a great tool for this); they comprise well over half of the total weight of most sites. That includes using “lossy” image compression, which achieves huge weight savings by degrading the quality of the image slightly (but not enough to be noticed by the naked eye, if done properly). Script minification and other forms of compression can add to those savings.And don’t forget – hold onto your hats marketers – you can simply get rid of content and features. If you can’t prove beyond a doubt that an element of your site is helping to engage and convert users, you should be asking: what’s it doing there?2) Watch out for JavaScripts served by third parties.Third party scripts act as single points of failure for your pages, and they litter today’s sites because they are seen as harmless. Make sure they’re optimized and don’t execute blocking behavior.3) Then take it to the next level by manipulating the rendering sequence.Maybe your hot shot dev team has the site compressed and stripped down as far as it can go — at that point the next level of front-end optimization is to leverage delay loading, lazy loading, and on-demand loading in order to prioritize the rendering of elements on a page. For instance, if you know that your live chat widget bogs down performance, and you also know that feature is rarely used within the first 10 seconds of a page visit, then set it to start loading only after everything else on the page has finished rendering.This is a burgeoning area of performance optimization, and there’s a lot of cool activity around these tactics. 4) Go beyond CDN.One of the classic ways to amp up performance for ecommerce retailers is to cache static content on a CDN. But as we know, today the hardest work occurs is in the browser, and for that reason CDNs are just a lot less effective than they used to be. For today’s dynamic and complex sites, the new frontier is contextual optimization: automatically recognizing user device/network and altering page content on the fly to match the context.TakeawaysIf performance wasn’t your top priority in 2014, consider making it so in 2015. You may be shocked to find that amping up performance yields big results when compared to UX innovations you’ve implemented in the past.If you’re sold on performance and want to learn more, Yottaa’s resources page is full of deep-dive guides and tips on performance optimization. And while you’re at it, check out our interactive infographic that covers performance as well as many other facets of seasonal business prep. Conversion Rate Optimizationlast_img read more

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Why Your Marketing Content is an Asset, Not a Cost

first_img Topics: Content Marketing Basic accounting rules require marketing costs to be listed as expenses on a company’s P&L. However, today’s marketers and smart executives consider marketing an investment in driving revenue rather than a cost. This is where an overall mind shift is needed. Marketing needs to be considered an investment, and your content an asset.We invest in technology, equipment and people to grow our businesses without hesitation. So, why wouldn’t we do the same with our content? It’s time to finally categorize content as an asset and treat it like you would any other company asset. After all, your brand, unlike a building or inventory, never depreciates. Your brand is your greatest asset, and your content tells the story of your brand.Marketing vs. Sales: Working Together but Often AgainstWhen your company lands a sale, who takes credit? Likely the salesperson. That person may even claim marketing does nothing to drive leads. But what tools are being used by that salesperson to close the deal? He used the company’s website content, blog posts, ebooks, social media channels, videos, email newsletters, events, collateral material and lead generation campaigns, all of which is produced by the marketing team.Without those content marketing assets, the lead would probably not have been converted to a sale. But while all of the credit goes to the sales team, the full responsibility of those content marketing assets lies in the marketing budget line item.Treating Marketing as a Cost… Could be CostlyIf you consider marketing as an expense in your budget that needs to be kept under control, you are likely treating it just as any other cost, and striving to keep it down. Being concerned about cost reduction adds pressure to your marketing efforts to perform quickly, which is certainly not a quality of an inbound marketing strategy.Worrying about costs would also mean you would be less likely to test and optimize your marketing efforts, which could directly relate to stagnant online results, and ultimately a decline in revenue.Proving Return on InvestmentThe Return on Investment or “ROI” of marketing has been buzzed about and debated for decades. Since the heyday of Madison Avenue in the 1950s, even up to the early 2000s, there were few tools that marketers used to measure their impact on the company’s bottom line. Magazines used “pass-along rates” to inflate impressions.Direct mail introduced coupons and tracking codes as a way to measure effectiveness. But the lack of precise measurement actually helped promote the perception that marketing was a cost center. The hope was that all of that money being invested in marketing would eventually result in positive brand awareness.Luckily, things have changed.Explosion of DataInstead of trying to prove success from inflated numbers, marketers can now track everything on the digital landscape. No longer lacking for metrics, we are dealing with a constant explosion of data. But now that every click a user makes on your website is trackable, what is being done with that information?Today’s marketers have access to more data than ever before, but may fall short in understanding that data, or become overwhelmed and fall victim to “Analysis Paralysis.” Even worse, many businesses still don’t track or measure effectively.In order to be able to gauge the success of your content marketing efforts, you should have tools in place to track:Visitors from every sourceActivity on each page and blog postKeyword rankingsSubmissions from all formsRatio of leads to salesSalesUsing a program like HubSpot’s inbound marketing platform offers access to integrated metrics across the board from contacts to content and analytics, housing all of your marketing data in one central place.Content as a Business Asset Having the metrics to show results is essential to prove your content is a business asset. Your content is a tangible, living thing that is the voice of your business. It’s the best thinking of the entire organization. Companies who believe this foster an environment where all departments work together, instead of against each other, to ensure a consistent and cohesive message is being communicated with the world.In order to look at content as an investment line item, it has to tie into your business goals. That means you need to think long and hard about why you are creating content in the first place. If you don’t have a clearly mapped out strategy for your content, you are just throwing it out there in hopes that the right people find it. You wouldn’t treat your other financial investments like this, so don’t do it with your content.For more on proving the value of your content investment, download SPROUT Content’s free ebook: What Gets Measured, Gets Improved. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Apr 16, 2015 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017last_img read more

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Confessions of a Google Spammer

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Black Hat SEOs: Masters of Ethical RationalizationBut there I was, responsible for Google adding 45,000,000 new words of spam to its index every day. I had built a spam machine, and the thing was brilliant enough to give my clients huge SEO ranking boosts. (This was before KontentMachine and all the other spam-producing software out there now.)Some examples of my “work”: Some Samples of My Automated Article Creation “Work” c. 2009Spamming Was Very Profitable Back in 2012Sales of our SEO SaaS subscriptions peaked at around $150,000 a month in subscriptions. Profit margins were about 70-80%. All profits were shared 50/50 between my partner and I. We had two sales threads: one on WarriorForum, and another on WickedFire.Here’s what a few hours of sales looked like back then:An Average Couple of Hours of Income at My Company During the High TimesThese would all magically appear after I returned from a swim, playing with my son at the park, or from playing pickup basketball with the local islanders.PayPal had no idea how I was suddenly making so much money. They were so confused about my business model that they froze $25,000 in my account. They expected massive refund and chargeback requests.But our refund/chargeback rate was less than 1%. Because our SEO service worked.Most of our users were ranking high for big affiliate keywords. I even got my electrician buddy’s website in New Jersey to rank in first place for the keyword “electrician” just for fun. I could literally rank first page for any keyword I wanted to with about five minutes of effort.And my life became very easy as a result. I had two apartments on an island in China with 180-degree panorama views of Sanya Bay — one for myself, and one for my son’s mom.I barely worked.Our entire business was outsourced to seven VAs in the Philippines and one transgender customer support rep in Nevada who was saving up her salary to complete her hormone therapy.My schedule looked like this:7:00am: Wake up, do some stretching and play with my two-year-old son while my chef prepared breakfast.8:00am: Eat breakfast and watch an NBA game (the Clippers, if they had a game) while eating breakfast. The nanny watched my son.9:30am: Check in with my partner and employees, Facebook, and chat with my two journalist friends in Beijing.11:00am: BS on Skype with some SEO spammer buddies for a bit.12:30pm: Ride my scooter to the gym.1:00pm: Run 10km, lift weights.3:00pm: Go for a swim in the ocean or the neighborhood pool3:30pm: Play with my son and his friends.5:00pm: Play basketball at the court with maintenance workers and tourists staying in my neighborhood.7:00pm: Shower, then dinner, prepared by my chef.8:00pm: Put my son to bed.9:00pm: Check in on Skype, BS online, read books.11:00pm: Sleep.Lonely SEO Spammer MillionairesThe above schedule is what a spammer’s four-hour workweek looks like. And it’s the life of a lot of black hats that are still balling today. It’s a comfortable but often dull and somewhat empty life.The most exciting (and nerve-wracking) times are when the loophole you’re exploiting gets closed, and your life flips upside down while you scramble to adjust.During the boring times, my other spammer buddies and I would BS on Skype about our lives. One guy made $100k a week for a time selling garcinia cambogia pills after Dr. Oz fraudulently proclaimed them to be a magic weight loss supplement.One woman focused on morally shady but technically legal niches like bath salts, salvia, and access to guides on how to cheat on your spouse. Yet another guy (also in China, like me) was working with prison wardens who forced their inmates to mine World of Warcraft gold for sale online.All three bought links from me. They spent their earnings like spoiled little kids.They bought luxury cars and $5,000 bottles of champagne to spray their spammer buddies at conventions. They ate ADHD medication like candy, trying to stay awake and focused to work as long as possible. They traded NLP secrets to work on their powers of female seduction. When that didn’t pan out there was always the old staples of prostitutes and cocaine. Many practiced intensive bodybuilding, and took steroids, HGH, and weird supplements like deer antler sprays to hack their muscle growth.With all that money and privilege at stake, the brotherhood of spammers is merciless and ultra secretive. If you fail to attribute a useful tip to the person you found it out from, expect to be shunned. Expose an SEO loophole that made your buddy money, and you’re excommunicated. Betray the “family,” and you’ll get kicked out of the Skype group forever. It’s like The Sopranos, except instead of wise guys, your family is made up of awkward tech nerds who have cashed in and want to live out all their fantasies.Google Made Us Do ItI hadn’t originally wanted to go down this path. Ironically, I had applied to work for Google’s webspam team in 2010. I knew all the tricks and hacks in the book, and I thought they could benefit from my help.When they didn’t reply to my application, I promised myself I would make them pay.And I had them paying for a few years …Until one day, Matt Cutts (head of Google’s webspam team) sent out this historic tweet:The Tweet That Shook the SEO WorldALN (Authority Link Network) was the platform we used to boost ranking for all of our users’ websites. Our service was actually called “ALN service,” a fact that helped increase awareness of the network and ironically hastened its demise.There was a time when our service was one of the hottest things going on WarriorForum. We had found SEO spammer nirvana, and everyone wanted a piece.Dozens of guys using our service quit their day jobs to open up SEO businesses that relied almost exclusively on our service. Our biggest client, an SEO company that offered reputation management services for celebrities in Mexico, was paying us $25,000 a month and probably charging its clients up to 50 to 100 times more than that. I only realized how hard they were balling when they showed up on the Inc. 500 list in 2012.But now there was this tweet from Matt Cutts, warning to take the network we relied on out of commission. When our clients asked about the tweet, I pretended I wasn’t the least bit concerned about it. Publicly, I scoffed. How could they find a network of 25,000 blogs? If they took it out, we’d just build a new one. No big deal …Privately, I was very concerned. I knew it was easy for Google to find every site in the network. Because all they had to do was buy a few links to one website, wait for those links to show up, then have every website receiving links from that blog manually reviewed. That review would uncover other spam blogs linking to those sites, which would then uncover more cheaters, and so forth.In fact, from one spam site you can, and Google did, locate and destroy the entire ALN network. To us, it felt like we were the freedom fighters of Zion in the Matrix. The Google guys were like the agents, sending out Sentinels to take us out. Google, of course, saw it the other way around. We were hacking their algorithm and mucking up their search results for fun and profit.How Google+ SEO is Like the MatrixPublicly, I proclaimed that we were the good guys and Google was the evil empire. But in my heart I knew we were the bad guys.Google provides clean search results for free, which truly benefits society. What does spamming the Internet provide for society? It helps two people: the spammer and his customer. Everyone else suffers.And I knew it was shady. Part of me always dreamed of running a more legitimate business model. But it was just like Michael Corleone from The Godfather II telling his wife Kaye that his business would be 100% straight in five years: There was just too much incentive to keep on spamming.The Psychology of Spamming for Money: Spammers Always Think They’ll Go “Legit” Someday SoonI was a hardened, unapologetic spammer. To the real marketing world, I was an outcast. And that became all too clear when I went to Distilled’s LinkLove event in London in April 2012.Seeing the Writing on the Wall: The Death of Link-BuildingMy Dutch partner and I had found out about LinkLove from one of our favorite customers. Our customer was scheduled to speak there, so we bought all-inclusive tickets to the event and made plans to meet up there.Right after we got our tickets, our customer dropped out of the speaker role without explanation. (This was right around the time ALN was getting de-indexed, so maybe he was doing damage control with his clients whose rankings were dropping like flies.)My partner and I went anyway, feeling like confident marketing experts with our massive PayPal bankroll. Those few days in London, however, opened my eyes to how the fledgling world of inbound marketing saw black hats.We had dinner with all the VIPs the night before the event. Moz’s Rand Fishkin and Mike King were there. Many other heavy hitters in online marketing were also there.They were all talking about inbound marketing, quality content, engagement, and a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand or considered “BS.”None of them seemed very interested in what we were doing.“F#$%! Link Building”Their beef with us was even clearer when Rand took the stage to kick off LinkLove 2012. My ego had already taken a hit after the lukewarm response at the dinner, but I never expected the onslaught that Rand would unleash.He took the stage with a big smile, introduced himself and then proceeded with this presentation called “F#$%! Link Building”.My heart sank.I went from slightly butt-hurt to outright angry and defiant. He was insulting our entire industry. I imagine that this is the feeling Michael Corleone felt when Senator Geary called him out in the meeting about the casino rights he wanted.How Moz’s Rand Fishkin Sees Link-BuildersI swore I wouldn’t let Google make us stop hustlin’. But Rand was right. Within two months, our entire network of 5,000+ blogs — for which we paid more than $80,000 — was de-indexed, dead, simply kaput. Our $100k/mo. business was ruined.However, I remained arrogant and defiant. I still believed that making money online would be easy. I thought I could just make some minor adjustments to our strategy and keep on banging out new successful products.I funneled more than $100,000 into various new link schemes, each one more “white hat”-seeming than the next.Nothing worked for long. Google’s de-indexing, plus Panda and Penguin, were just too much of a challenge for us. I would put in three months of work, get four months of sales, and either almost break even or have a huge deficit.I felt discouraged and depressed. I tried to buy myself some fancy clothes and toys to feel better about myself. I immersed myself in a shallow relationship with a model who would end up being Miss Universe China 2014. I took weekly hiking trips with my friends in the hills of Beijing on psychedelic mushrooms.I was an empty shell of a human being, lost with no sense of purpose or what to do with my future. With anxiety levels at an all-time high, I could only sleep 2-3 hours a night. Most people I met at that time felt uneasy around me.And I wasn’t the only one having trouble adapting to the post-de-indexing world. The Google-hating spammers reached their official low-point when SEOnitro (another public blog network) tried to start a class action lawsuit against Google for intentionally doing harm to many “competing businesses.”Seriously guys? That’s like spray painting your business’s phone number on someone else’s building, then trying to sue them when they paint over it.Giving Up, Embracing Inbound, and Getting a JobAfter 18 months of banging my head against a wall, I started thinking about that LinkLove conference again. What if I started over? What could I have built with that $100,000 I had wasted chasing loopholes in Google’s algorithm? How much awesome content could I have gotten? How many email subscribers could I have gained?Maybe there was something to that inbound marketing thing Rand and Mike had talked about so passionately after all.Maybe it was the way for me to really go legit.So, I moved back to Beijing and put out the word to my friends. I was ready for a marketing job. I got a few offers, but none struck me like the one from Ptengine. They were a small startup making what I would later call “the Swiss army knife of conversion optimization tools.”They had been successful in Japan, but now they wanted to enter the English-speaking market. They wanted to double their number of users over the next two months to show the VC firm looking to invest in them that they were able to achieve rapid growth.They wanted me to help them with the powers of SEO. I told Ptengine that SEO wouldn’t work. Google’s new rankings sandbox wouldn’t allow it to work. I wanted to go with the safe route.They were confused.”What about PBNs?” they asked. “We’re working with a very well known SEO blogger in the U.K. who has tens of thousands of email subscribers. He’s building PBNs for us”. I looked at the properties this SEO “god” had built. (Actually, it turned out he just outsourced the SEO work to a company in London.)It was like opening a time capsule from 2012. Expired domains, duplicate content scraped from Archive.org, he didn’t even block backlink checking spiders. His reasoning: “blocking spiders would look like a footprint to Google.”I felt a pang of sympathy for Ptengine. They had already dumped $4,000 into this operation. The whole thing was shocking to me. Even the SEO gurus who talked about inbound marketing were still trying to get by with loopholes.My Stubborn Support for Inbound MarketingI was undeterred by the SEO guru. I went on with my newfound ideals instead.By using a variety of outreach methods, including permission emails, sponsored posts, social media, and a very successful deal on StackSocial, we hit the VC’s goals. They bought in with very aggressive growth goals for 2015.And I intend to keep going this route. We just started working with Joanna Wiebe at SnapCopy.co (whom Shanelle Mullin of Onboardly said might be “the best SaaS copywriter in North America”) and Talia Wolf at Conversioner.com to optimize our entire funnel.We’re also getting plenty of adopters and influencers to get us case studies that we will promote to targeted segments that need Ptengine. In fact, all content will take all targeted audiences to various inbound funnels that are only meant to give them value.Hear all that talk about content?In short, after five years of considering white hats and inbound marketers to be snobs, I’m finally drinking the Kool-Aid.You win, Google. Content is king.This post originally appeared on inbound.org, and is reprinted here with permission. Topics: Originally published May 27, 2015 12:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017center_img SEO Before I became an inbound marketer, I once made $50,000 a month spamming Google. I worked a maximum of 10 hours a week. And I am telling you from the bottom of my heart: Never, never ever follow in my footsteps.This blog post will tell you exactly why.My Mindset in 2009I never wanted to spam the Internet. Google made me do it.This is what I told myself back then. If spamming is so wrong, I wondered, how come it always works so well? Most black hat SEOs think this way. They rationalize spamming Google’s index in so many ways:We’re helping Google improve their algorithm!Content is king?!? LOL! Links are the only content you need. Google’s lying to people. They deserve to get spammed.If we don’t do spam, our competitors will–and then they’ll beat us. We have to spam.We’re helping our customers–the little guy–win the battle against a big, bad, evil empire that wants to enslave them to paying PPC costs!last_img read more

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