For two and a half years, every two weeks I sifted through over 140 blog posts and podcasts that talk about how to build successful online businesses. I found the best content, summarized it, added a bit of my commentary, and delivered it to the inboxes of entrepreneurs around the world…for free. I’m no longer writing Signals in the Noise issues (because my business partners and I are focusing on other parts of Clarity Lab), but please enjoy these archived issues. There’s a ton of useful information in them!
1. The trek is in the mail.
“‘No one cares about traffic anymore,’ says Stacey Ferguson, founder of the social media community and conference Blogalicious. ‘Everything is so divided up — you’ve got your blog, then Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest.’ What matters instead is influence, and one way to build it is by guiding audiences through the chaos of so much content. Today’s there’s no better way to do that – and demonstrate influence — than producing an email people will actually open.” Harvard Business Review’s Morra Aarons-Mele on the renaissance of the old school email newsletter.
Content marketing is hard. It takes time. No matter what. If you’re looking for another form of content marketing that works stunningly well for building an email list (and for establishing your position as an authority in a niche), I highly recommend writing curated newsletters like the one you’re reading. I’ve been writing this style of newsletter for most of 2015. It started out as an experiment, and when I kept getting a ton of positive feedback about it, I knew it was a format I wanted to continue. (I stole the idea for the format of this newsletter from the brilliant and witty Dave Pell, who writes a daily newsletter called Next Draft. Dave writes better than me; he’s funnier (and has the coolest logo on the web), and at least twice a week I pull on my Next Draft t-shirt (no, really, I own one) and send a mental thank you to him for coming up with this format for a newsletter.
The upshot? Email newsletters are far from dead. In fact, they’re going through a resurgence in popularity. I’m getting ready to start going to Kinkos regularly because you know what? I bet newsletters printed on actual paper (remember that stuff) will be the next big thing.
+ Another great newsletter that uses a Dave Pell style: Further.
+ Or try this wildly popular curated newsletter: Brain Pickings.
+ Or this one: The Skimm.
2. Mic drop.
“No matter how many shiny, cool features and benefits you cram into your marketing messages, brochures and presentations, you better find ways to help the prospect get what they really want. And, no matter if you sell heating and cooling services, legal services, hand painted greeting cards, or consulting, at the end of the day, your customers all buy some variation of the same five things.” That’s John Jantsch, of Duct Tape Marketing, about to drop the mic on your marketing efforts. I love this guy. Here are the five things people actually want to buy.
3. Billions in Change.
For those of you with a passion for making a difference in the world through your business, you won’t want to miss this: Manoj Bhargava, the billionaire founder of 5-Hour Energy, is using the results of the financial success he’s created to make some truly enormous changes in the world. With his billions of dollars, he’s trying to solve some of the most pressing problems, and there’s a documentary worth watching about it. From their website: “Billions in Change is a movement to save the world by creating and implementing solutions to the most basic global problems – water, energy and health. Doing so will raise billions of people out of poverty and improve the lives of everyone – rich and poor.”
Grab some popcorn and prepare to be inspired to find (or continue) your own ways of making a positive difference in the world.
4. This is not the dislike button you’re looking for.
Facebook is rolling out a change that millions have been asking for: a way to do something other than “like” a post. Many have been asking for a way to “love” or “dislike” a post for years. It seems like we’ll soon get the former, but not the latter. (I’m no developer, but why has this little feature taken years to come out? Strange.) When this feature rolls out to everyone, you’ll have several other emoji response options in FB as well. Is it strange that I want to press the “dislike” button about this news? Oh wait, I can’t. There’s no dislike button in these new options. I feel so :^(
5. Face clamp.
I’m a little late to the game, but I’ve finally started creating Facebook ads for one of my businesses (the one I run with my beautiful wife). Any chance I get to practice and improve my copywriting skills, I leap right in, as I did a couple weeks ago when writing my first Facebook Ads.
Copywriting, in general, is challenging. I love the challenge, but it often feels like attaching a clamp to my head for 6 hours straight while I focus on trying to do my Word Fu. But writing Facebook ads? Is like adding clamps to each of my fingers, both forearms, and both shoulders. Holy crap, are there ever A LOT of constraints and rules and things to accomplish in a very small space.
Here’s an in-depth, wonderfully written blog post from Claire Pelletreau that will significantly reduce the number of clamps you’ll need to wear while writing Facebook ads.
6. Medium is the new medium.
I read a lot, both to create this newsletter and for the purpose of my own learning. In my daily reading lately, I keep finding myself reading posts on Medium. I’ve always LOVED the minimal design aesthetic and Zen-like reading experience of Medium posts, but honestly, I’ve been confused why anyone would post their original content marketing content on Medium’s site, rather than their own. The Next Web’s Owen Williams agreed with me, but he’s changing his stance: “When Medium launched, I cried wolf that people should own their own content and platform, but I’m now convinced that the service is worth embracing because the way it works as a platform and social network ultimately means your work gets in front of more people.” In this piece, he explains why he’s moving his entire blog over to Medium. If I find something worthwhile to say in blog posts again, I might do the same.
7. Click here.
It always amazes me how critically important open rates and click-through rates are to the success of any online business that’s using some form of direct marketing via email. The math is simple: if your email marketing emails have low open percentage rates, and also have low click-through rates, not many people will make it from their inbox to your site, and thus won’t eventually buy what you have to sell. That’s not cool. At all. So, here are 11 pithy tips from some top entrepreneurs on how to increase open and click-through rates. On the other hand, if everyone opened every email they got every day, the world as we know it would cease to exist. No one would get anything done outside of checking emails. So, don’t increase your open rates too much, because we’ve got more important things to do than open all our emails. Like checking our Facebook streams.
8. Browser wars.
Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer 11, Edge, Opera. The cast of leading web browsers. In late 2015, which is the best one to use? Here’s some benchmark testing, current feature descriptions, pros and cons, and global usage stats for all of them. Here’s the punchline: Use Chrome. And a further recommendation: take Internet Explorer (any version will do) out in your backyard. Place it squarely on an old tree stump. Then, grab a big, black sledgehammer and start smashing it to bits. Go ahead…I’ll wait until you get back.
9. Conversion excursion.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about ConvertKit lately. It’s an email marketing app built for bloggers that makes it much easier to build custom marketing funnels and action sets triggered by prospect’s and customer’s actions. After using Infusionsoft for five years in multiple businesses, and Aweber over this last year for another, I’m starting to look around for something better. ConvertKit keeps popping up on my radar. Here’s an interesting, off-the-cuff video of Pat Flynn, from Smart Passive Income, doing a live Periscope video showing the benefits of ConvertKit (he just migrated from Infusionsoft to ConvertKit recently.) Pat’s making well over $1 million dollars a year from his online businesses (he shares his monthly earnings in the upper right of his website,) so when he switches to another email provider, it’s worth noting. I read over 1 million blog posts last year, but sadly, no one seems to watch me on Periscope talking about my new email software.
10. Don’t be content with your content (marketing.)
“Content all by itself — even terrific content — is just content. It may be entertaining. It may be educational. It may contain the secret to world peace and fresh, minty breath, all rolled into one. But it has no magical powers. It won’t transform your business or get you where you need to go, until you add one thing…Content marketing is a meaningless exercise without business goals.” That’s my favorite pink-haired chief content officer, Sonia Simone, on the importance of pairing remarkable content marketing with the right business goals.
As always, thank you for spending a few minutes with me today. I hope there’s some golden nuggets in this issue for you. I write this newsletter because I love helping people grow their businesses while I grow mine, so I hope this newsletter is helping you in some way.
If you feel like sharing this issue with your friends, I’d be much obliged. Here’s a few links to make doing that lickety-split easy:
Until the next issue, may your business continue to grow, bringing your dreams closer to home.
Signals in the Noise
p.s. You can find the archive of past issues right here.