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Tony Adam

Entrepreneur, Marketer, Aspiring Polymath

tonyadam

Content Marketing
Holistic Content Marketing Helps All Marketing Channels
January 14, 2016 at 9:06 am 0
  
     
home-office-336378_1920 Content is king. We've been hearing this for years, and, to this day it is still the truth. But, the type of content and mediums to promote it have been different and can vary. But, while I was working with one of our clients on marketing strategy, I realized how important it can be to their business. I like to think about things holistically and how each channel helps each other. I've proven this method to work really well when put to use with clients, companies I've started, and/or advised. As an example, just creating an infographic doesn't mean it's going to drive traffic and awareness. But if you know people are searching for the information included, that bloggers want to use that content, etc. it could drive more than you even expected. Having a holistic plan and more than just a single use for your content can be a huge win for the company. There are many ways this can work. If you're an e-commerce company or retail business moving online, this can go a long way in terms of driving down your blended CPA. As an example, you could be a retail or e-commerce company that sells a variety of name brands or major brands. You might be thinking of how to educate the customer on why they should be Gucci shoes over something like Steve Madden. You might want to do something like"Why high end brands are more cost effective than cheap ones in the long run." (or something a long those lines). While putting the content together you could do some industry research about the longevity of a pair of high end shoes vs. a pair of cheap ones. Doing a full study and putting a few charts together would really help educate the customer. What this also does is creates a relatable and personal feeling for your brand to the online shopper. Writing that post tells them you're looking out for their best interest. Educating the customer here is really the goal and hopefully this post achieves that with the data and facts you've provided. Along with educating the customer, they might have needed that last tip to just convert them to a new customer. Reading the content might have made them go "okay, im sold, I'm here, where do i buy them." Another thing, assuming they aren't ready to purchase just then would be to browse the site for more content or more products, to really validate the brand. Whatever the case, you're providing a resource customers are interested in. Along with customers, bloggers and journalists could be interested in this, promoting this content could lead to multiple people writing about it citing your content. They might not only be interested in it, they might actively be search for this. For example, I might be googling "steve madden vs gucci pricing" or many long tail variations of this. I might be really concerned about spending $500 on a pair of shoes vs. $79 and not truly understand the difference in the craftsmanship and quality. After understanding this, the customer could be sold (as mentioned above). The great part is, by creating this post, you've driven organic search traffic to your site and now you might have possibly converted that customer. Okay fine, that might be a perfect world scenario, but, that isn't the only way to convert them. There are two other methods that could potentially lead to a customer buying from you in a more cost efficient manner. One of those is methods is retargeting. You just got a new user to visit your site through search traffic, them clicking a link in facebook, or a blog post that cites your content. Again, the key here is now this piece of content is already being used in many ways. But, now you've got a visitor to your site, that's being retargeted and will be reminded of your products. Converting this customer over time will be way more cost effective than paying for Adwords or Facebook ad clicks. (that's not to say we don't want you to do them, we highly recommend it as well.) Finally using this content to help email marketing efforts is just another method to help drive new conversions, as well as repeat revenue from existing customers. The first and simplistic thing you can do is have an email / newsletter sign up on your site. The person that came to the site might be so interested in the insightful piece of content you created that they might be interested in more content from you. Also, if they get to site and they find the content interesting but don't take any action, you can have a modal window (aka pop up) appear on the site that could catch their attention, a service like Picreel will achieve this for you. Here is an example of how we've used it on David Kind's Blog (p.s. they are one of my favorite companies!): picreel-signup-david-kind Now that they have signed up, you can continue to market to them over email through a welcome series, newsletter series, and continue to promote content, the brands, offers, etc. from your company. Speaking of that newsletter, the blog post you created, we're coming back to it here because you might have customers that didn't know the difference or would be interested in it. Or people who have signed up to the newsletter or welcome series that have yet to convert. You can highlight this content (or any other content you create, for that matter) within this newsletter and yet again use it to you drive a new conversion or repeat revenue from existing customers. Finally, using services like Taboola or Outbrain, you can use this content and promote it using low cost advertising on a variety of content sites that might be relevant to your brand. An example of this is companies like Harry's or Dollar Shave Club, who I see all the time when I'm reading about one of my beloved Chicago Sports teams. Here's an example of how they use the ads to drive customer awareness and also new customer acquisition: dollar-shave-club-harrys-taboola-ads With all the methods we just listed above, you just drove down your blended CPA. All of this was done with one single piece of content used across various channels and mediums. Now, I know that was a lot to cover, but, think about it. The possibilities are endless with content. So you should be mapping it out and creating an entire content strategy for your business and not just creating blog posts for the sake of creating them. Think about all the different ways you can use this content to drive new traffic, new users, new conversions, new leads, etc. Visible Factors is always here to help when you need a Content Marketing Strategy for your company. And, we'd love to hear your thoughts about content marketing below in the comments.
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Personal
Setting my intention for 2016 and what led me here
January 4, 2016 at 9:43 am 0
  
     
I had so many thoughts to share about 2015, the past couple years, and most importantly, looking forward at the future. I would say that 2015 was very much up and down, very volatile in terms of personal and professional achievements and relationships. Looking back over the last few years, the one thing I’m very excited about is my growth, across the board. I’ve matured so much and found out so much about myself and what is important to me. Relationships, always being the most important. Coming out of 2013, which might have been the toughest year of my life physically, mentally, and emotionally. The year was filled with so much adversity, from the first day of the year to the end. I went into a little bit of a personal depression by the end of the year. I was exhausted, depressed and unsure of what would come next. I felt like a failure and like I hit rock bottom. At the end of the year, all I remember saying to myself was: “I just want to be happy again.” I tried to numb the pain in so many ways, some I’m not proud of, but, all the adversity helped me grow.

2014 was dedicated to discovery

I dedicated 2014 to taking a step back and figuring out what was next for me. I worked on trying to build an app, I considered taking a couple full time jobs at startups, but, nothing really fit. Towards the middle of the year, I was still feeling a little lost. By the end of the year, I did feel like I had found my “mojo” and I was back in my zone. I spent a lot of time having a lot of conversations with people over coffee, drinks, or meals. (btw, If you took the time to catch up, thank you, it was really helpful!) What I learned and realized more than anything else: Failure meant I went down swinging, trying my hardest, and giving it my all. Saying “what if” meant I didn’t even try at all. I realized my career wasn’t over and I could actually get things done. Most importantly, I realized that what was important to me wasn’t the money I made or the size of my bank account. It was my personal definition of success driven by relationships (family and friends), financial wealth, working with great people, loving what I do, travel, evolving as a human being, and continuously striving to be healthier and more athletic. Don’t get things confused either, I’m even more ambitious and driven thanks to my experiences. I have so many goals I still want to achieve and my answer to making 8 figures will always be “damn right I want that.” But again, I know what happiness looks like and having come from nothing, the superficial items in life don't define me. Sure, I love nice things (especially cars, watches, etc.), but, I’m not motivated by them. I’m driven by building great things and great relationships. My goal, for years now has been to build a legacy that lives on forever.

2015 was dedicated to laying the foundation

I knew I didn’t want to say “what if” ever in my life. I went into 2015 hungry, excited and encouraged. There were a lot of bumps and bruises. But, more than anything, I grew in 2015 more than I have ever grown in my life. And, I felt like I hit my stride. Visible Factors has become something I never imagined it could. I love our client partners because they challenge us and we work so hard to see them succeed. I love our team because they have humbled me more than ever thanks to how smart they are and how good they are at what they do. I’m encouraged, excited, and motivated every single day of the week. More than anything, I’m hungrier than ever. By the end of Q1 I knew I wanted to build Visible Factors. A couple friends actually said things to the extent of “So, are you finally admitting you’re building a digital marketing agency.” And, yes, I did. But, it was more than than just Visible Factors that I was building. For me, it was building a portfolio…VF was the start of that. After speaking at Quickbooks Connect, I attended the Oprah keynote out of sheer coincidence of wanting to sit down because of my knee issues. But, it was almost like I belonged there because of what she said. There was a constant theme about “setting your intention” and it spoke volumes to me. Because as I’ve started to set my intentions and really focus on what I want vs. what every tells you, it’s a big change.

Focusing on building the portfolio

Since Q2 I’ve started building out my portfolio of investments. I’ve started the process of building a data product because seeds I’ve planted have started to sprout and hopefully by the end of 2016 will bloom fully. It’s finally getting some development love and traction it needs. I’ve started to build out web properties with partners and I’m hoping they will become the brands I see them becoming in 2016. I’m building a portfolio of businesses and investments I feel are the culmination of my dreams. Only one more on the checklist (more on that another day).

What about Visible Factors?

And, oh by the way, that side project Visible Factors that I decided I wanted to grow has grown to service over 30+ clients in 2 years. We have worked with some amazing brands like Ticketmaster and Children’s Hospital LA, fast growing startups like Luxe and Blue Bottle Coffee, and some really companies like David Kind. Going into 2016 we have some new clients I’m looking forward to digging into with the team. The team has grown and we’ve expanded from simply top of the funnel channels like SEO and SEM to now being able to offer any online and offline advertising as well as content marketing to grow a business. Expanding further, we have spent lots of time growing our offerings around retention and re-engagement with Email Marketing (newsletters, design, and triggers/drip marketing/automation) and Conversion Optimization. Check out our clients and a couple small case studies about some of the work we've done, I'm really proud of it: http://visiblefactors.com/clients-case-studies/

Growing personally was important too

I was finally able to travel to Europe, I had a great relationship that I learned so much from (sadly, it came to an unfortunate end), and I was able to take a much needed break with good friends in Cabo. It was nice to do things I never had (or gave myself) the opportunity to do. I kept expanding and testing on my health with food, eating, and fitness. I stepped up my cardio on the stationary bike from 10–12 minutes to 30 minutes and removed strength training. I wanted to focus my on circuit training routines and mix in interval training. The results have been amazing, I’ve actually gained weight but clothes fit me better.

Unfortunately, over the last year I’ve dealt with a lot of injuries: Calf strain, a torn tendon/cartilage in my left ankle that I thought was a mild ankle sprain, stress fracture in my right foot, and a knee issue over the last two months that has been extremely frustrating. Because of this, my weight bounced around a lot which I vowed not to let happen again. This was really tough on me emotionally and it’s been tough all year to get in a real rhythm work out wise and basketball wise. My lower back pains have come back in a large way because of injuries too.

That said, I think this really has been a blessing in disguise because I’ve slowly cut a lot out of my diet (outside of cheat days, obviously!). I’m a foodie and I love cooking, but my biggest downfall is my sweet tooth. Slowly, I’ve cut this WAY back and I’m continuing to do this. (P.s. friends, don’t lie to me, tell it like it is. call me out if you see me cheating). Not being able to work out really makes you realize how food is 80% of your health and fitness. I already knew this, but, it really brings light to it. It forced me to put things in check. For the last few weeks I’ve gotten back in the gym and out on the basketball court. It has felt AMAZING. I almost passed out during a workout, but, it feels nice to push myself again. I started shooting around and feeling like I haven’t regressed too far is really refreshing too. It’s going to take work a lot of work, mostly related to back issues, but, it’s all about taking things day-by-day, week-by-week. The pain is there with every work out, with every day I wake up, but, it’s motivating me more than ever. But one of my favorite quotes from this inspirational video I’ve watched explains it all:
If you quit now, you’ll never be where you want to be. You’re already in pain, get a reward from it.
I’ve learned a lot about my body but listening to it and understanding the effects about what goes into it. Fitness wise, I want to take a big leap in 2016. Health wise I want to cut out a lot of excess. Some of this is a working plan that is in progress and some of it is hard goals.

My intentions for 2016:

After taking time to relax and reflect over the holidays, I wanted to set my intention for 2016 and I figured it all out. This year will be about growth, strength, and progress. I want to keep growing Visible Factors and it’s about respect and achievements, not for the number of clients we have. It’s because of the work we do and the companies we’ve grown. Because, of the clients and partners that truly enjoy working with us. I will launch of initial portfolio of sites and start getting them off the ground and a couple of those include commerce elements. We won’t know until we try, but, we’re going to try, test, and iterate. I will get the data product moving forward. We have an initial set of screens and data pulls put together, but, it’s now time to turn it into a working product. I’m very excited about this and will be carving time against it weekly. (Anyone know of an Armenian or Eastern European Dev shop?) Real Estate is intriguing to me and making an initial investment here is important. This will be just a start, but, I am dying to do this more than I ever have. I will become the fittest and healthiest I have ever been. I still am now more than I have ever been, but, I want to take it a few more steps forward. My goal is to lose the excess fat I’ve been holding on to. I will truly be cutting out the excess in the diet and getting my work outs really dialed in. No shortcuts this year. By the end of the year, I want to be the best at basketball I’ve ever been, it’s a sport I’ve loved since I was 5 years old and always will. I’ve started writing again and having the confidence to put stuff out there has been hard because I’ve been away from that consistently for so long. Along with that, towards the end of the year I started speaking at conferences which I want to do a lot more of in 2016. Everything I do moving forward will be driven by the intentions I’ve set for myself and whether or not it fits in my core values. Sticking to my values and my intentions this year will be the only way I will truly grow, become stronger than ever, and see the progress I want to see. Success is in my future and it can be in yours too, no matter what it means to you, if you truly dedicate yourself to it. Let’s get it.
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Online Marketing
Quickbooks Connect: Growing Your Business Online Presentation
November 4, 2015 at 7:13 am 0
  
     
At Quickbooks Connect I presented on all the available methods to help small business owners grow their business online. I discussed SEO, SEM, Content Marketing, Facebook Ads, and Email Marketing.
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Startups
The Snowball Effect: Getting Started and Gaining Momentum
July 30, 2015 at 8:40 am 0
  
     
setting-plans I've been thinking about the "snowball effect" for a few weeks now and reminded myself how important it is to get started. It led me to wondering what we're doing at Visible Factors in terms of growth and optimization for companies. We've been working through a lot of the service business and plan to offer more in the coming future, but, I've been saying this for a couple months. One of the things I've always know, execution is key. Getting things done is the most important thing. Granted, you don't want to do work, just to do it. But, just starting somewhere and getting going is the single best thing you can do. Because, once you start getting some traction, it has this snowball effect you can't measure by data. When we work with companies, we meet a lot that have very little going in terms of a blog. Our recommendation is, "start somewhere." Let's start with one blog post a week, then up it to two or three, then hopefully within a couple months, you've got a blog post going out every day. Then, you can really optimize and start creating a content plan that will grow the business. You'll start noticing SEO traffic increasing. The snowball effect is there. After you've started, you can start to see themes, use data to drive more content development, and come up with new concepts based on old. The key is starting somewhere and setting up goals. Whenever I'm starting something new, whether it's getting back into writing content OR starting a new sales program, I always try to dedicate a block of time to it. Usually it takes me adding it to Wunderlist or a Google Calendar item. But, the key is I've set a plan and dedicated a block of time to it. Once you have things started, and you've dedicated time to it, you just need to keep yourself on track. After that, the momentum will carry you forward. You'll not only be dedicating the time to what you're working on, but, you'll be excited about it. This same effect is true when building companies, you have to start somewhere. Once you've started, there is no better, more intoxicating feeling than feeling the wheels turning and letting the momentum take over. Once you've got a start, once you have things moving, once there is some traction...there is no slowing down. That's why I call it the "snowball effect." Being able to find this sort of traction is an amazing feeling and you'll never want to look back. What do you do to gain momentum? Would love to hear about it in the comments or on twitter. Check out how we've been able to gain traction and momentum for the companies we've worked with. 
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Online Marketing
Must have online marketing tools when starting your business
July 28, 2015 at 8:14 am 0
  
     
online-tools-opt Over the years I have used tons of tools for marketing programs and campaigns I’ve created. But, I get a lot of people that ask me “what do you use for email marketing?” or “what did you use for analytics?” I thought about companies I have started like Eventup and Visible Factors, among others, and every company I consulted for, these are the products/tools I set up or recommend consistently

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a no brainer, before you start promoting or doing anything, make sure you have Google Analytics set up correctly. I’ve walked into many engagements where this was not done correctly and the tracking and measurement was completely off. Also, if you are in E-Commerce or have some sort of conversion flow, make sure your funnels are set up correctly. There are a variety of ways to use google analytics for conversion tracking, using regular expressions, as well as email/reporting. Google Analytics can be as simple or as robust as you want it to be. Take the time to put all the right tracking in place so as you start creating campaigns, you know exactly what you are getting out of them.

Mailchimp

I love Mailchimp, just because it is easy to set up. You can use their APIs to tie it into your user sign up flow and add them to specific lists. You can manually create lists that are s of your full list fairly easily. Admittedly, there are other companies like sailThru doing way better at automating, but it is more expensive and not as easy to set up. Create customizable templates, design your own, use their HTML editor, etc. You can create campaigns and schedule them for later dates, integrate Google Analytics, you can test the look of the email on various clients like Outlook, Gmail, etc. And they have spam testing tools as well. You can get more advanced later, for now, start sending emails right away.

WordPress

WordPress is the most powerful blogging platform, hands down. The CheezBurger Network runs off wordpress and does millions of uniques monthly, so it is definitely able to handle the traffic. Personally the reason I love it is because of how extensible it is with tons of options for frameworks like Thesis or Genesis. Along with that there are tons of themes out there on sites like WooThemes orThemeForest. And, don’t get me started on the countless amounts of plugins there are to extend wordpress. For SEO, my buddy Joost De Valk has some amazing stuff on his site, including the best WordPress SEO Plugin. Also, for caching, to ensure your site can handle the traffic, use W3 Total Cache.

Crazy Egg

I love tools that give me insight into customer behavior, and Crazy Egg does just that. I love heatmapping and having the ability to see where users are clicking the most on pages. Also, it's fun to see large amounts of clicks on things that aren't clickable. (e.g. images) Really helps you understand how to cater to your customer and change your site to help this. I’ve been in situations just like this, where we had static images on pages users thought they could click on and there was no link. After changing this, click through rates and engagement on sites increased dramatically. After adding Crazy Egg, I was able to understand users/customers better and guide them to the content they were looking for.

Optimizely

Being able to make sense of your customer and user behavior is cool, but, when you can track and test variations of that, it is even cooler. Optimizely lets you create A/B and Multivariate test of all sorts, from Engagement to conversion events. You can use this for things as simple as button color and button text to placement and variations of content on pages to see what converts best. We’ve been able to nail down various landing pages using Optmizely to test out all of the above.

Moz

From an SEO standpoint, getting a Pro account on Moz is a no brainer. They offer a variety of pretty simple tools like rank checking (although, Bonus tool shoutout:Authority Labs is way better at Rank Checking), an On-Page Grader, and Open Site Explorer to check links. Along with all of that, they have a great amount of resources for paid pro members, like their Q&A section.

Google Webmaster Tools

I always set up Google Webmaster Tools once I set up Google Analytics because it allows me to track the “SEO Health” of the site. Understanding the pages crawled, crawl rates, indexing and time spent downloading a page. Also, they have tools that alert you if your site is not crawlable, there is malware, or any other sort of blocking and tackling issues.

Bonus: Google PageSpeed Insights Tool

The Page Speed Insights tool is good to understand site speed inefficiencies on your website. This is important because I’m a huge believer in quick page load times from a user experience standpoint. It’s proven to be part of Google’s Ranking Factors, but more importantly, user experience increases as page load times decrease. At the end of the day, these are all tools to help you with marketing campaigns. They won’t run the campaigns for you, there is no magic here. And, many people have different opinions on the tools to use. I can say that, in my opinion, these are the best bang for your buck products and tools to help get your company going in the right direction from an online marketing standpoint. Are there any must use online marketing tools in your toolkit? How do you use these tools when starting campaigns/websites/companies? I’d love to hear your feedback and follow me on twitter to keep the conversation going.
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