10 Easy Ways to Measure the Effectiveness of Your Content [Infographic]

The most effective marketers have their content strategies firing on four cylinders:

  1. Planning
  2. Content creation
  3. Content promotion
  4. Analytics

The list I just presented is the order in which effective content marketing gets done, but it’s NOT a priority list. Each tactic is vital. And they are dependent upon each other for success.

In other words, three out of four won’t do.

Put it down to fear, or laziness, or lack of knowledge, resources or tools, but number four — analytics — is the most neglected.

Need proof? Just take a look at this …

 

 

Last year, Orbit Media’s annual blogger research indicated that less than 32% of bloggers always check their analytics. If that number seems low to you, it’s actually a up a few notches from years prior.

Not good.

Content marketing metrics-phobia? Is that an actual thing?

It must be. But here’s another thing …

You can get over it. Easily. Right now. An advanced degree in statistics is not required. As the infographic below — which I developed with Orbit Media — explains: “Let’s stick the calculators in the desk drawer and look at 10 easy ways to detect if your content is cutting it.”

You’ll find no reasons to fear these simple approaches to analytics. And when you get in the habit of evaluating your content marketing efforts, you’ll also find yourself extracting the insights you need to get perpetually better.


from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/easy-ways-to-measure-the-effectiveness-of-your-content

Advertisements

23 senior IAB Board members commit to new initiative In an effort to raise the standards in digital advertising and address the key issues facing the industry, the IAB UK is launching the “IAB Gold Standard” initiative, comprising three primary actions that media owners can take. Initially, the Gold Standard has three fundamental aims – [more…]

from TheMarketingblog http://www.themarketingblog.co.uk/2017/10/109981/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=109981

New Research : Ranking of the most relevant brands in consumers’ lives today

Apple, Google and Android are Most Relevant Brands to UK Consumers According to the New Prophet Brand Relevance Index® Global consultancy Prophet (www.prophet.com) today announced the results of the third annual Brand Relevance Index ®, a ranking of the most relevant brands in consumers’ lives today. Apple and Google maintained their standings as the top [more…]

from TheMarketingblog http://www.themarketingblog.co.uk/2017/10/new-research-ranking-of-the-most-relevant-brands-in-consumers%e2%80%99-lives-today/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-research-ranking-of-the-most-relevant-brands-in-consumers%25e2%2580%2599-lives-today

Unlocking Hidden Gems Within Schema.org

Posted by alexis-sanders

Schema.org is cryptic. Or at least that’s what I had always thought. To me, it was a confusing source of information: missing the examples I needed, not explaining which item properties search engines require, and overall making the process of implementing structured data a daunting task. However, once I got past Schema.org’s intimidating shell, I found an incredibly useful and empowering tool. Once you know how to leverage it, Schema.org is an indispensable tool within your SEO toolbox.

A structured data toolbox

The first part of any journey is finding the map. In terms of structured data, there are a few different guiding resources:

  • The most prominent and useful are Google’s Structured Data Features Guides. These guides are organized by the different structured data markups Google is explicitly using. Useful examples are provided with required item properties.

    Tip: If any of the item types listed in the feature guides are relevant to your site, ensure that you’re annotating these elements.

  • I also want to share Merkle’s new, free, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Structured Data Markup Generator. It contains Google’s top markups with an incredibly user-friendly experience and all of the top item properties. This tool is a great support for starting your markups, and it’s great for individuals looking to reverse-engineer markups. It offers JSON-LD and some illustrative microdata markups. You can also send the generated markups directly to Google’s structured data testing tool.

  • If you’re looking to go beyond Google’s recommendations and structure more data, check out Schema.org’s Full Hierarchy. This is a full list of all Schema.org’s core and extended vocabulary (i.e., a list of all item types). This page is very useful to determine additional opportunities for markup that may align with your structured data strategy.

    Tip: Click “Core plus all extensions” to see extended Schema.org’s libraries and what’s in the pipeline.

  • Last but not least is Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. It is vital to check every markup with GSDTT for two reasons:
    • To avoid silly syntactic mistakes (don’t let commas be your worst enemy — there are way better enemies out there ☺).
    • Ensure all required item properties are included

As an example, I’m going to walk through the Aquarium item type Schema.org markup. For illustrative purposes, I’m going to stick with JSON-LD moving forward; however, if there are any microdata questions, please reach out in the comments.

Basic structure of all Schema.org pages

When you first enter a Schema.org item type’s page, notice that every page has the same layout, starting with the item type name, the canonical reference URL (currently the HTTP version*), where the markup lives within the Schema.org hierarchy, and that item type’s usage on the web.

*Leveraging the HTTPS version of a Schema.org markup is acceptable

What is an item type?

An item type is a piece of Schema.org’s vocabulary of data used to annotate and structure elements on a web page. You can think about it as what you’re marking up.

At the highest level of most Schema.org item types is Thing (alternatively, we’d be looking at DataType). This intuitively makes sense because almost everything is, at its highest level of abstraction, a Thing. The item type Thing has multiple children, all of which assume Thing’s properties in a cascading in a hierarchical fashion (i.e., a Product is a Thing, both can have names, descriptions, and images).

Explore Schema.org’s item types here with the various visualizations:

https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/schema-markup-generator/visual/

Item types are going to be the first attribute in your markup and will look a little like this (remember this for a little later):

Tip: Every Schema.org item type can be found by typing its name after Schema.org, i.e. http://schema.org/Aquarium (note that case is important).

Below, this is where things start to get fun — the properties, expected type, and description of each property.

What are item properties?

Item properties are attributes, which describe item types (i.e., it’s a property of the item). All item properties are inherited from the parent item type. The value of the property can be a word, URL, or number.

What is the “Expected Type”?

For every item type, there is a column the defines the expected item type of each item property. This is a signal which tells us whether or not nesting will be involved. If the expected property is a data type (i.e., text, number, etc.) you will not have to do anything; otherwise get ready for some good, old-fashioned nesting.

One of the things you may have noticed: under “Property” it says “Properties from CivicStructure.” We know that an Aquarium is a child of CivicStructure, as it is listed above. If we scan the page, we see the following “Properties from…”:

This looks strikingly like the hierarchy listed above and it is (just vertical… and backward). Only one thing is missing – where are the “Properties from Aquarium”?

The answer is actually quite simple — Aquarium has no item properties of its own. Therefore, CivilStructures (being the next most specific item type with properties) is listed first.

Structuring this information with more specific properties at the top makes a ton of sense intuitively. When marking up information, we are typically interested in the most specific item properties, ones that are closest conceptually to the thing we’re marking up. These properties are generally the most relevant.

Creating a markup

  1. Open the Schema.org item type page.
  2. Review all item properties and select all relevant attributes.
    • After looking at the documentation, openingHours, address, aggregateRating, telephone, alternateName, description, image, name, and sameAs (social media linking item property) stood out as the most cogent and useful for aquarium goers. In an effort to map out all of the information, I added the “Expected Type” (which will be important in the next step) and the value of the information we’re going to markup.
  3. Add the starting elements of all markup.
    • All markup, whether JSON-LD or microdata, starts with the same set of code/markup. One can memorize this code or leverage examples and copy/paste.
    • JSON-LD: Add the script tag with the JSON-LD type, along with the @context, and @type with the item type included:
  4. Start light. Add the easier item properties (i.e., the ones that don’t require nesting).
    • First off, how do you tell whether or not the property nests?
      • This is where the “Expected Type” column comes into play.
      • If the “Expected Type” is “Text”, “URL”, or “Number” — you don’t need to nest.
    • I’ve highlighted the item properties that do not require nesting above in green. We’ll start by adding these to our markup.
    • JSON-LD: Contains the item property in quotation marks, along with the value (text and URLs are always in quotation marks). If there are multiple values, they’re listed as arrays within square [brackets].

  5. Finish strong. Add the nested item properties.
    • Nested item properties are item types within item types. Through nesting, we can access the properties of the nested item type.
    • JSON-LD: Nested item properties start off like normal item properties; however, things get weird after the colon. A curly brace opens up a new world. We start by declaring a new item type and thus, inside these curly braces all item properties now belong to the new item type. Note how commas are not included after the last property.
  6. Test in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
    • Looks like we’re all good to go, with no errors and no warnings.

Side notes:

  • *address: Google’s documentation list address, nested within PostAddress as a requirement. This is a good indicator of why it’s important to review Google’s documentation.
  • openingHours: Multiple times are listed out in an array (as indicated by the square brackets). As the documentation’s “Description section” mentions – using a hyphen for ranges and military time.
    • Note: Google’s documentation uses the openingHoursSpecification item property, which nests OpeningHoursSpecification. This is a good example where Google documentation shows a more specific experience to consider.
  • telephone: Sometimes you need to add a country code (+1) for phone numbers.
  • image: URLs must be absolute (i.e., protocol and domain name included).

TL;DR:

  • Schema.org’s documentation can be leveraged to supplement Google’s structured data documentation
  • The “Expected Type” on Schema.org tells you when you need to nest an item type
  • Check out Merkle’s Structured Data Markup Generator if you want to try simply inserting values and getting a preliminary markup

Thanks!

A huge thanks to Max Prin (@maxxeight), Adam Audette (@audette), and the @MerkleCRM team for reviewing this article. Plus, shout outs to Max (again), Steve Valenza (#TwitterlessSteve), and Eric Hammond (@elhammond) for their work, ideas, and thought leadership that went into the Schema Generator Tool!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from The Moz Blog http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/9375/7120585

How to Edit Instagram Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Instagram Filters & More

Have you ever looked through your Instagram feed and wondered how some people make their photos look just so good with just a smartphone and a free app?

Whether I’m looking at mouth-watering photos posted by food brands or adorable photos of cuddly Instagram stars with four legs, I’ve had my share of photo envy.

When it comes to posting on Instagram, photo quality is everything. And if you take great photos and edit them exquisitely, I promise: you will be much closer to amassing the thousands of followers you’re hoping for.

But we have good news for you: Editing photos well on Instagram doesn’t take a whole lot of time, and it doesn’t require you using a fancy camera or software. It’s all about taking great photos and learning which filters work for which types of photos — all within the Instagram app.

In this post, we’ll help you turn unedited photos — like the one on top of a Peruvian desert — into ones that are much more compelling, like the one below:

howtoedit_step1.jpg

howtoedit_step2.jpg

How To Edit Instagram Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide

1) Start with a great photo.

No amount of editing will fix a photo that wasn’t shot well in the first place. When it comes to posting something awesome on Instagram, it’s all about photo quality — and that starts with a photo that’s great even before you adjust it in the app.

You don’t need to be a photographer to take great photos for Instagram. All you really need is a smartphone and the willingness to learn some key tips for how to use it. Start by reading through these 18 tips for taking great photos with your smartphone. This blog post will teach you how to line up your shots using the rule of thirds, find perspective, and take advantage of symmetry, patterns, and more.

2) Upload your photo to Instagram.

Now that we have a photo we’re ready to work with, it’s time to upload your photo to the Instagram app. To do this, open the Instagram app and click the plus sign at the bottom center of your screen.

howtoedit-step3.png

From there, select the photo you’d like to edit from your photo album. By default, it’ll go into “All Photos,” but you can click the downward arrow next to “All Photos” at the top of your screen to open a particular album if your photo is located somewhere specific.

howtoedit-step4.png

Pro Tip: Instagram will crop your photo as a square by default, but if you want to change it to its original width, simply press the “Expand” icon (two outward facing arrows) in the bottom left-hand corner of the photo once you’ve selected it.

howtoedit-expand-1.png

Click “Next” to begin editing the photo.

4) Pick a filter.

Here’s where it gets fun. Now that you’re in editing mode in the Instagram app, the first thing you should do is pick a filter. Usually, I click through onto each and every filter, in order, and take note of which ones I like. Then, I’ll go back and forth between the ones I like until I settle on one of them. How’s that for scientific?

While slapping on a filter because it looks good is one way to do it, it is helpful to play around with each filter and get an idea of its specific purpose. From Lark to Crema to Valencia to Nashville, each filter has its own personality and hues that drastically changes the photo — not only how it looks, but how it feels. Take a look at these examples to see what I mean:

howtoedit-lark.png

howtoedit-moon.png

howtoedit-nashville.png

Here are a few of my favorite Instagram filters and how they change the look and feel of a photo:

  • Lark: A filter that desaturates reds while pulling out the blues and greens in your photos, thereby intensifying it. Great for landscapes.
  • Moon: A black-and-white filter with intense shadows that’ll give your photos a vivid, vintage look.
  • Crema: A desaturated filter that gives your photos a creamy, vintage look.
  • Valencia: A filter that warms the colors of your photo, giving it kind of an antique look without washing out color completely.
  • X Pro II: A high contrast filter that makes colors pop and adds vignette edges, giving photos sort of a dramatic effect.
  • Lo-Fi: This filter adds high saturation, rich colors, and strong shadows to your photo. Great for photos of food.
  • Hefe: This filter adds a vintage look to your photos with a darker border, and the yellow tone makes landscapes appear dramatic and other-worldly.

Everyone has their favorites, so as you use Instagram for marketing more and more, keep experimenting and learning about your own filter preferences for every type of photo you take, whether they’re landscapes, close-ups, portraits, or something else.

Pro Tip: As you begin learning your filter preferences, you can reorder your filters and even hide the ones you don’t use. To do either of these things, scroll to the very far right of your filters options and click “Manage.”

howtoedit-manage.png

To reorder your filters, simply hold your finger down on the three grey lines on the far right of the filter you’d like to move, and drag it to reorder.

howtoedit-reorder1.png

To hide filters you don’t use, deselect them by tapping on the white check mark to the right of the filter.

howtoedit-reorder2.png

5) Adjust the lux.

The what? If you’ve ever edited a photo on Instagram, you’ve likely used the lux feature before, even if you weren’t sure what it’s called. It’s a feature that makes your photos more vibrant and brings out the smaller details.

Once you’ve selected a filter, turn lux on by tapping the sun icon above your photo:

howtoedit-lux1.png

Then, use the slider to adjust the lux, which will adjust the contrast and saturation of your photo. I usually slide it up and down until I settle on what looks best. Tap “Done” when you’re finished and it’ll take you back to the filters page.

howtoedit-lux2.png

6) Use the simple editing tools.

Next, open up Instagram’s simple editing tools by tapping the wrench icon below your photo on the right-hand side.

howtoedit-edit1.png

From here, you can adjust a number of settings, including alignment, brightness, contrast, structure, warmth, saturation, highlights, shadows, and sharpness. I usually go through each setting one by one until I’ve adjusted the photo to my liking.

howtoedit-edit2.png

To adjust each of these settings, click on the icon at the bottom of your screen, use the slider to find a “sweet spot,” and then tap “Done” when you’re done. If you adjust the slider and realize you don’t want to make any changes, simply tap “Cancel” and it’ll exit from that setting without saving any changes.

howtoedit-slider.png

Once you’ve made all the changes in Instagram’s tools that you’d like, click “Next” in the top right-hand corner of your screen.

howtoedit-doneediting.png

7) If you’re uploading an album on Instagram, edit each photo individually.

If you’re using Instagram’s handy new feature that allows you to upload up to 10 photos in a single album, make sure to be aware of a quirk that can come up when you start editing your photos.

Say I wanted to post not one, not two, but three photos of my adorable cat. I’d select one to upload to Instagram as usual, and then tap the album icon to select multiple photos at once:

howtoedit-album1.png

Choose the photos you want to use, then tap “Next:”

howtoedit-album2-1.png

You might be tempted to dive in and start picking a filter and editing from the list of filters at the bottom, but wait just a moment — because if you pick a filter from the menu below, you’ll apply it to all of your photos (shown below), and if you’ve learned anything in this blog post, it’s the importance of editing photos individually.

Tap the Venn-diagram icon in the corner of each photo to edit it individually.

howtoedit-album3.png

From there, you can choose a filter and edit your individual photos using the tools detailed above.

howtoedit-album4-1.png

When you’re done with one photo, tap “Done,” and you can choose another photo in your album to edit.

howtoedit-album5.png

8) Either post your photo immediately, or save it to post later.

At this point, you have two options.

Option 1: Post your photo immediately.

If you’re ready to post your photo now, then go ahead and post it by adding a caption, a geotag, tagging any relevant Instagram users, and clicking “Share.”

howtoedit-share-1.png

Option 2: Save it to post later.

If you’re not ready to post it now, but you wanted to get a head start on editing it so you could post it in a pinch, then you can save the photo with the edits you made in Instagram without posting it — thanks to a little hack.

Ready? To use Instagram as a photo editor without posting anything, all you need to do is publish a picture while your phone is on airplane mode.

First, you’ll have to be sure you have “Save Original Photos” turned on in your settings.

howtoedit-save.png

Then, turn on airplane mode. Here’s how to do that:

  • To turn on airplane mode on an Android device: Swipe down from the top of the screen. Then, swipe from right to left until you see “Settings,” and then touch it. Touch “Airplane Mode” to turn it on.

howtoedit-airplaneandroid.png

  • To turn on airplane mode on an iPhone/iPad: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and click the airplane icon. Or, go to “Settings” and then “Wi-Fi,” and switch “Airplane Mode” on.

howtoedit-airplane.png

Then, go back to your editing screen and press the “Share” button at the bottom. An error message will appear saying the upload failed, but rest assured the photo will be saved automatically to your phone’s photo gallery.

howtoedit-failed.png

Pro tip: If you want to edit a whole bunch of photos ahead of time so you can upload them later without much effort, one way to organize your edited photos so you can find them easily later is to add them to your “Favorites” folder on your iPhone.

To add photos to “Favorites,” you’ll need to “heart” the photo. Here’s how it works: When you’re scrolling through your photos, tap the heart icon at the bottom of your screen.

howtoedit-heart.png

The photo will be added to a photo album called “Favorites” in your iPhone’s folders, which you can access easily and at any time. Since Instagram doesn’t let you schedule posts in advance, this is a great place to store edited photos so you can upload them when you need them.

howtoedit-favorites.png

And there you have it! By now, you should be able to edit your Instagram photos on a pretty basic level. For more tips and tricks to take your Instagram game to the next level, check out these 15 hidden hacks and features.

from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/edit-instagram-photos

Online video overtakes banner ad spend for first time: PwC/IAB

The rise in popularity of people watching online video means advertisers spent more on video ads than banner ads for the first ever time, according to the latest PwC/IAB Digital Adspend study. Mobile now accounts for 43% of digital advertising Driven by the rise in popularity of people watching online video, advertisers spent more on video [more…]

from TheMarketingblog http://www.themarketingblog.co.uk/2017/10/online-video-overtakes-banner-ad-spend-for-first-time-pwciab/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=online-video-overtakes-banner-ad-spend-for-first-time-pwciab

How to Write Well: 10 Timeless Rules From Legendary Ad Exec David Ogilvy

Writing is easy. Most people can do it. If you’re reading this, you can write.

But can you write well? Does your writing connect with people? Does it engage readers, compelling them down the page? Does your writing inspire action, selling things or services or ideas?

If so, you have a potent skill at your disposal: you can command attention, a valuable commodity. More importantly, you can influence free will.

David Ogilvy, the creative force behind Ogilvy & Mather, understood this. He respected the potential of good writing.

The Memo

“The better you write, the higher you will go,” Ogilvy wrote in a memo to his management team. “People who think well, write well.”

The note, drafted in 1982, later appeared in The Unpublished David Ogilvy, a collection of incisive letters and speeches by the man hailed as “The Father of Advertising.”

“Good writing is not a natural gift,” he writes. “You have to learn to write well.”

How to Write Well

He closed out the memo with “10 hints” that anyone could apply to make their writing better.

I’ve transcribed his suggestions below, along with some modern context:

1) “Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.”

Full disclosure: Kenneth Roman, Joel Raphaelson, and David Ogilvy were cronies. In fact, Roman served as the agency’s CEO, which explains the front-and-center mention of his book. That said, it’s still a great business-writing resource.

Aside from the knowledge you’ll glean from Writing That Works, reading it over and over and over will acquaint you with the voice, tone, and style of two excellent writers. The more good writing you read, the more good you’ll internalize. The more good you internalize from others, the easier it’ll be to spot and correct the bad in your own writing.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing is the product of prolific reading.

How to read more:

Ryan Holiday, an author and media strategist, offers some advice here: change your mindset.

“Stop thinking of it as some activity that you do,” writes Holiday. “Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It’s not something you do because you feel like it, but because it’s a reflex, a default.”

Holiday cites three main barriers that keep people from reading:

Time: “Carry a book with you at all times. Every time you get a second, crack it open.”

Money: “Reading is not a luxury … It’s a necessity … Books are an investment.”

Purpose: “The purpose of reading is not just raw knowledge. It’s that it is part of the human experience. It helps you find meaning, understand yourself, and makes your life better.”

If you want to read more, make it a priority.

2) “Write the way you talk. Naturally.”

Ogilvy, by all accounts, was down to earth, cool.

“His latest book is called Ogilvy on Advertising. Please welcome, David Ogilvy!” said David Letterman in a 1983 Late Night interview. He reached across the table to shake his guest’s hand. Ogilvy shook back without a word.

“The book is very informative,” said Letterman. “Anyone interested in a career in advertising should certainly do themselves a favor and take a look at that thing.”

Ogilvy broke his silence. “Damn right,” he said.

Ogilvy wrote like he spoke, naturally, which enabled his success as a copywriter.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing is informal.

How to write informally:

Unless you’re writing a legal document, feel free to relax your tone. Use:

  • Active voice: “We have noticed that …” vs. “It has been noticed that …”
  • Contractions: “can’t” vs. “can not”
  • Abbreviations: “t.v.” vs. “television”
  • Colloquialisms: “kids” vs. “children”

Informal writing is less cumbersome, easier to read.

3) “Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.”

Reading is hard, you know. It takes energy and concentration and time, all finite resources.

Dense, long-winded writing that meets the intrinsic needs of the author, rather than the extrinsic needs of the reader, won’t get read. Writing should deliver value, quickly, to the audience. The author’s personal satisfaction is irrelevant.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing gets to the point.

How to write concisely:

Concise writing boils down to:

  • Awareness: your ability to recognize wordiness
  • Discipline: your willingness to cut unnecessary words

These six exercises will help you do both.

4) “Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.”

It’s true, big words make writers sound snobbish and conceited. What’s worse, they run the risk of confusing the reader, making her feel foolish, detaching her from the message.

As a writer, you have only a small window to capture attention. Don’t narrow it even more by using obscure words.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing is immediately understood.

How to write coherently:

Cut your risk. Use words even a child can understand. For example, instead of:

  • Reconceptualize, write “rethink”
  • Demassification, write “breakup”
  • Attitudinally, write “with attitude”
  • Judgmentally, write “with judgement”

Need help with word choice? Use Hemingway Editor.

5) “Never write more than two pages on any subject.”

Take this one with a grain of salt. While “two pages” is subjective, Ogilvy’s point is clear: never write more than is necessary on any subject.

In other words, if you can abridge an explanation without diluting the concept behind it, do it.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing simplifies complicated information.

How to simplify a concept:

The Big Short, an Oscar-winning film about the 2008 housing collapse, was almost never made because the subject matter was too technical for a lay audience. Mortgage bonds; credit default swaps; collateralized debt obligations: all these concepts required explanation …

How did the producers make it work? Cameos and stories.

Anytime a complicated concept was introduced, a celebrity would appear, armed with a quick story. What made these stories so effective and efficient at educating audiences?

Shawn Callahan, founder of Anecdote, cites several key elements

  • Familiarity: The stories were told by famous people, like Selena Gomez, Anthony Bourdain, and Richard Thaler, a renown economist.
  • Plausibility: The stories were credible, thanks to Thaler’s presence.
  • Relatability: The stories took place in recognizable settings, like a casino or a kitchen.

Finally, the stories were metaphorical, drawing parallels between the housing crisis and losing a blackjack hand, for instance.

“If you need to explain something that is complex or highly technical to an audience that might not understand it,” writes Callahan, “then tell them a hypothetical story based on something they do understand, something that’s relatable. And pick someone to deliver the message who is familiar to the audience, someone who is like them and also has credibility.”

6) “Check your quotations.”

Take this one literally. As a writer, the information you distribute commands public perception over ideas and events and individuals. It’s a tremendous responsibility.

In the age of self-publishing and Fake News, an author’s integrity is paramount. Check your quotes, your facts. Readers are depending on you, trusting you.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing has integrity.

How to maintain your integrity:

Let your conscience be your guide.

7) “Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.”

Communication rarely comes out right on the first go, especially when it’s written.

You wouldn’t give a presentation without a dry run, so why send an email or publish an article without an edit? Sure, the writing makes sense to you, the author. But only because you’re so close to it: your perspective is shot.

Distancing yourself from the work is the only way to regain objectivity, ensuring your message makes sense.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing is clear.

How to write clearly:

Richard Lanham, an English professor at the University of California, developed a system called The Paramedic Method. It’s designed to help writers clarify their sentences with a simple, two-step process:

STEP ONE: Identify the problems in a sentence.

  • Underline prepositions (e.g., about, to, in, across)
  • Circle forms of the word “be” (e.g., is, am, are, were, was)
  • Box verbs (e.g., run, hide, jump; running, hiding, jumping)
  • Highlight the person or thing performing the action
  • Bracket wind-up explanations
  • Cross out redundancies

STEP TWO: Fix the problems you found.

  • Rewrite or delete unnecessary prepositional phrases
  • Replace forms of “be” with action verbs
  • Put the action in the verb
  • Put the person or thing performing the action into the subject
  • Delete unnecessary wind-up explanations
  • Eliminate redundancies

Lanham’s method streamlines the editing process. For more context and examples, click here.

8) “If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.”

As far as I’m concerned, if your name is on it, it’s important. After all, your writing speaks for you long after you part with it. In that sense, every word counts towards your reputation, your legacy.

With so much on the line, you should have an insurance policy.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing needs an editor.

How to find an editor:

You could ask a coworker to lend a fresh perspective, like Ogilvy suggests. But you have other options, too. It’s not 1982; leverage the internet. Try:

  • Reddit: Post your content in a relevant sub-reddit.
  • Twitter: Tweet your content at a writer you admire.
  • Inbound.org: “When you can’t just tap someone expert on the shoulder, turn to the inbound.org community to help and be helped.”

As long as you’re polite, tactful, and appreciative, someone will give you their time. But you have to ask.

9) “Before you send your letter or memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.”

Business writing, specifically, always needs a goal.

Whether it’s soft (e.g., influencing a general belief) or hard (e.g., driving a specific action), a goal will focus your message, making it more cohesive, not to mention easier to write. Moreover, nobody wants to invest their professional time reading a dead-end message, one that leaves them thinking, What now?

TAKEAWAY: Good (business) writing has purpose.

How to give your writing purpose:

What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to:

  • Inform, driving home the features?
  • Influence, driving home the benefits?
  • Entertain, driving home the brand?

To know for sure, write your call-to-action first. This will give your writing direction, funneling every subhead, paragraph, and sentence towards the same point.

10) “If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”

In business, nothing is more intimate than a smile and a handshake, a pat on the back. Writing is void of these elements. Even the best writing can’t replicate human interaction, the sensation of being face-to-face.

People are irrational. We like to think we operate logically, but emotions are what ultimately move us. And while reading words can be a powerful experience, nothing replaces eye contact.

TAKEAWAY: Good writing, sometimes, doesn’t work.

How to avoid writing:

Ogilvy said it best: don’t write. Get in front of the person. Get on:

  • Skype
  • FaceTime
  • A plane

And if you’re down the hall from the person, walk to them. They’ll appreciate it. And you’ll be in a better position to get what you want.

“Good writing is not a natural gift,” wrote Ogilvy.

“You have to learn to write well.”

Now, you have his advice. The rest is up to you.

New Call-to-action

from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-write-well-timeless-rules-david-ogilvy