I’m proud to announce that I’ve accepted a new position at MedVet as their Digital Marketing Specialist. I can’t wait to join their talented team and help lead the way in specialty healthcare for pets.
Yesterday, I went to a digital marketing conference in Columbus called interact19. I’ve been to several conferences before and I can honestly say this was one of the best I’ve attended. Every presentation and speaker was filled with actionable knowledge that I could take back and apply to my workplace. So many of the tips were practical and cost-effective, requiring just time and skill.
I’m starting a new job later this month and in my interview, my future manager asked if I knew anything about Voice Search and I said I wasn’t that familiar with it and needed to do more research about it. Well at this conference, two of the speakers talked in-depth about the state of voice search, how to use it and where it’s going in the future. Now, I have practical information I can tell my new boss about how we should be using voice search. By attending, I learned something I can apply in my job and I can show that I’m staying up to date on marketing trends and best practices.
I definitely would recommend this conference and want to go back next year. I’m grateful to Volunteers of America for making it possible for me to attend.
I want to share what I took away from each session at yesterday’s conference:
Opening + Morning Keynote: Be Mighty by John Fimiani
- Unify around the brand promise
- Best Buy was able to turn around their business by focusing on human relationships and creating human experiences
- It’s more important to be human than it is to sell.
- The University of Oregon was able to redefine themselves by investing in simple branding and aligning around a purpose. Now everyone knows that Oregon Football = Faster.
The 1% Content Strategy: Combining the top SEO and lead gen tactics to statistically beat 99% of content programs by Andy Crestodina
- People link to helpful blog posts
- When people link to your blog, that causes page authority and is link building
- Publish your mission
- Our content is where [audience] gets [information] that offers [benefits]
- Content mission formula :Where __ find ___ for ____
- Our content is where moms get tips on how to save money
- Marketers are more successful when they have a content mission statement.
- Answer the webpage visitor’s question “Why am I here?” Why is your visitor on your page? Spell it out on your webpage.
- Your email sign up link should be
- Prominent- big and on every page
- Promising – what will they get when they sign up?
- Proof- how many current subscribers are there?
- CTA- Sign Me Up
- Your social bio is your promise to your followers
- Our content is where [audience] gets [information] that offers [benefits]
- Find topics they’ll love
- What does my audience want?
- Data-driven empathy
- Use Google autocomplete
- “Audience” ______
- Use keyword tool: www.keywordtool.io to find relevant keywords and blog ideas
- Use https://answerthepublic.com/ tool
- Use https://www.quora.com/ tool
- Make a list of topic ideas, sorted from least detailed to most detailed
- High-level list posts
- Overview of a specific topic
- In-depth detailed posts
- What does my audience want?
- Create Original Research
- Well-researched and evidenced content
- Original research gets linked to the most
- It’s like a citation used in a bibliography
- Observation: you’re contributing to the conversation
- Survey: gather new data
- What are the assumptions in your industry that are lacking data?
- 10x effort = 100x results
- Spend more time creating better quality blogs
- Don’t take shortcuts. They take too long.
- Most successful content creators:
- Write 2,000+ word articles
- Publish more than weekly
- Spend 6+ hours per article
- Write guest posts
- Publish original research
- Collaborate with influencers
- Add videos to articles
- Write for your prospects
- What questions is your audience asking?
- Create content that answers their questions.
- Talk to other people in your organization to find these FAQ
- Upgrade the visuals
- Infographics, diagrams, graphs, memes
- Let’s turn our top _____ into ______
- Let’s turn our top blog post into a video
- Testimonials using your keywords are gold
- Test email subject lines on social
- Update, repurpose high performing content
- Collaborate with influencers
- Influencers who link to your website is gold
- To find influencers search “your topic” + “blogger” “writer” “author”
- Use https://followerwonk.com/ tool
- Use https://buzzsumo.com/ tool
- Work with influencers for
- Deep dive interview
- People love to be interviewed
- They’ll be flattered
- Use their quote in your blog
- Include the influencer in your content
- Single Point of View content is a thing of the past. Think of it, a news article would never use just one source. You should use multiple sources too.
- Use a headshot with their quote
- Deep dive interview
- Write for other websites
- Guest blog, collaborate
- Write an article for them, send it to them.
- “Here I wrote this for you. Here you go.”
- Pitch to podcast hosts
- Repurpose How-To articles into How-Not-To articles to be published on other websites
Research who is linking to your site.
Research how many links your competitors have.
If you make content that’s Mission Driven, Research Anchored, Influencer Powered, and PR Focused, you’ll be in the 1%
|Long form text||Compelling visuals|
|Answers questions||Triggers emotion|
|Looking, hunting||Unplanned, waiting|
Growth by Content: Driving Massive Traffic Without a Big Budget by Nadya Khoja
- Content marketing is easier and cheaper than buying social ads
- Set multiple specific goals, like high domain authority, more traffic, higher conversions
- One piece of content will not meet all of these goals. You need to create content for each goal.
- One content per goal, not one content all goals
- You can’t just brainstorm fun ideas to write about.
- Goal: Domain authority (your site’s reputation and credibility)
- Make viral, editorial content
- Goal: Conversions
- Make how-to content
- Goal: Traffic
- Make inspirational content that will rank for long tail keywords
- One in-depth content piece for many keywords
- Publish new information and data
- You don’t have to write ALL the things
- Start with keyword research
- Make content that’s connected to your landing page (or pillar page) that meets your goals
- Make a spreadsheet with
- Search term categories (Words) Your Pillar Term
- Average monthly searches (#)
- Difficulty (High, Medium, Low)
- Keywords related to categories
- Search terms
- Get high-quality backlinks, focus on link building
- Guest blogging can help you get backlinks and authority
- Use https://ahrefs.com/ SEO tool
- Use https://mailshake.com/ to send a pitch email to ask for links
- “Hey, can I give you something if you link to us?”
- Build relationships
- Offer value in your outreach, give them something
- Find content that already mentions the keyword you want to rank for. If they don’t have that keyword linked, email them and ask
- Cold outreach has about a 3-5% success rate
- Don’t sound like a robot in your cold emails, be yourself
- Link building is a long term strategy
- 80% time spent on promoting content and 20% of time spent creating
The Future of Voice and Its Impact on Content by Adam Deardurff
- Alexa, Siri, Google Now, Cortana, Bixby
- Most people use voice for Music, Weather, Fun Questions, Search, Alarms, News, Calls
- Google serves up Position Zero aka Featured Snippet in voice searches
- How to get a featured snippet
- Research FAQ and common searches
- Answer FAQs on your website
- Use schema.org markup
- Follow baseline SEO best practices
- Have a Google My Business page
- Podcasts are growing, especially among ages 12-24 years
- Consider hosting an internal podcast for employees
- How to leverage podcasts
- Understand your audience
- Explore podcast advertising networks
- Reach out directly to targeted podcasts
- Start creating your own
- Be a guest on a podcast
- Start talking to your voice speaker. Learn about its capabilities
- Get specific with your content. Be the Waldo.
- Get your product audible
- Podcast ads
- Influencer marketing
- Give your people a voice
- Highlight top employees and corporate culture
- Accessibility and security
Five Hot Digital Marketing Trends and How They Impact You by Pam Didner
- Voice search
- Optimize text and voice search for how you talk
- Longer inquiries, shorter answers
- Use local search like Google My Business
- Voice is another form of content
- Explore questions that are likely to be asked
- Put voice search and voice content in your annual marketing plan
- Look into Alexa for Business and Google Home for Business
- Add intelligence to products
- Voice controlled microwave
- Smart plugs to make basic appliances smart
- Product Personalization
- Using AI for lead gens, follow-ups and chatbots
- Marketing fundamentals haven’t changed
How to Be Remarkable: The Unusual Yet Proven Path to Marketing Success by
Andrew & Pete
- 90% of your effort should be on doing something remarkably well
- 10% should be spent experimenting
Posting something is not better than nothing
- A successful blogger, SEO pro only has 50 blog posts but generates 200,000 page views
- He writes long pieces
- He only makes a new blog when he’s happy with his current blog’s page rankings
- People who spread themselves thin don’t win
- You don’t need to be on every platform
- You can’t do everything well
- Do one thing remarkably well
- Make relatable content
- Lean into the reaction spikes you see.
- Do more of what’s working
- Listen to your audience and give them what they want.
- Reallocate your efforts
- Readjust your strategy based on where your audience is moving
- A brand moved from Snapchat to Instagram Stories
- It’s scary to drop a channel or stop doing something but data will guide your decision
- YouTubers promise new content weekly “new videos every Tuesday” giving their audience a reason to come back
- Create fun content
- Do you enjoy marketing?
- Find the Fun
I feel like since 2019 began, I’ve been spending the majority of my time focusing on our new Pickerington thrift store. I worked with our architecture firm and DaNite signs to map out where and what our branding and signage would look like inside the store. This involved helping to choose paint colors, designs and size of the signs, even to placement inside the store.
Now, we’ve announced that we’re opening our doors on March 29 and I’m overwhelmed by the response to our Facebook Event. I made the event and scheduled it to go live as soon as I finished our Instagram Live announcement.
Nicole and I went to the store on March 12 to do Instagram Live at noon. With live videos, if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. You got to roll with it and recover. We realized our video hadn’t been recording for the 5-10 minutes I’d been walking around talking. Okay, take two. I held my phone, talked to the camera, and showed our followers around the thrift store. I always learn something when I do a live video, whether for Facebook or Instagram.
I ran an ad to promote event sign ups but didn’t expect it to take off like wildfire. I made the event ad on Friday and there were maybe 30 people interested. I check the event ad on Monday morning and there’s over 800 people Interested! Whoa. Now, on Wednesday (still 9 days from the opening) there’s 189 Going and 2.6K Interested!
Today’s my two year work anniversary at Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana!
Reflecting back, I’ve grown a lot in this role. I went from writing social media posts in Excel that needed to be approved each week to leading social media campaigns and projects in a paid software. I made the decision to start using Instagram as a brand and have grown our followers from a mere 30 people to over 700! My manager Stephanie left in the spring of 2018. She helped me grow so much in this role. She supported and encouraged me to try new things. I definitely miss her sometimes.
Our Development & Communications team has elevated the Volunteers of America brand throughout the community. Last year, a record number of backpacks were donated to Operation Backpack and we merged with our Indiana affiliate. I helped rebrand our social media accounts and merge our websites together.
I’ve loved managing our social media strategy, creating content and interacting with our enthusiastic audience. We have followers who are wildly passionate about Volunteers of America, our mission and our thrift stores. One of my favorite parts of my jobs is messaging people who love VOA and thrift shopping just as much as I do.
I’m thankful for my time at VOA and how much I’ve learned and grown.
Nate surprised me with an unforgettable Valentine’s Day. I feel so loved.
He picked me up after work and we drove to campus. The whole drive, I was trying to guess what we were doing and where we were going. We parked at Chadwick Arboretum, where we had a picnic on our second date. Nate told me he had an evening planned walking down memory lane. I started to tear up; it was just so thoughtful. We strolled around the pond at Chadwick, talking about who we were back then and how we were both so nervous and unsure where the relationship would go.
I remember that after the picnic, almost three years ago, we went to the Chocolate Café. So, on our walk down memory lane, that’s where we went next! Okay, we weren’t the only ones with the idea to go to the Chocolate Café on Valentine’s Day but the wait wasn’t that bad. I ordered the lobster bisque soup and a Dirty Girl Scout martini. Nate ordered a dirty martini, the special sandwich which was pulled pork, mango and habanero with a side of cream of mushroom soup. I never get tired of talking to Nate. We always find new things to learn about each other. We talked about our babysitters when we were little. I liked babysitters because they’d ask me what I wanted to do and Nate said he’d just walk over to a friend’s house and didn’t really have babysitters.
Nate warned me that the last thing on our itinerary had a set start time but it was okay if we were late. What could it be? He told me we’d been there before, there’d be food available, and it would probably end around 10pm. I had no clue. We drove back home and parked. That’s when I connected the dots that we were going to a Blue Jackets game. I’d get to see my other Valentine, Cam Atkinson! It was so sweet of Nate to surprise me with hockey tickets. We got there at the end of first period. The guy next to us had a thick British accent and kept yelling very British things like “rough ‘em up, lads!” and “Come on, lads.” I got a tub of popcorn at the end of the second period and ate about half of it. The Blue Jackets weren’t playing their best and lost 0-3 to the New York Islanders. Oh well.
I still had a memorable and romantic evening. We came home and watched some old Pixar shorts that I had on DVD.
After merging with Indiana, Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana has been growing at a rapid pace and we have a lot of job openings right now. To assist HR with finding qualified applicants for these positions, I ran a paid campaign on LinkedIn from 12/27 to 1/2/2019, targeting people in Evansville, Toledo, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and Columbus with the listed job function of Community and Social Services. (These are the cities we are hiring in.)
For the Text Ads, since you could have multiple variations, I used this as an opportunity to do some A/B testing with the language, the links and the creative.
Three of the Text Ads took people to: https://www.voaohin.org/careers and three of the ads took people directly to the job listing page. I used a Bitly link to shorten the job listings page. The top two performing ads pointed visitors to https://www.voaohin.org/careers
We ran 5 versions of Text ads on LinkedIn and it’s clear the one with “We’re Hiring” in the headline performed best.
I definitely want to do more paid advertising on LinkedIn to recruit applicants and to do more A/B Testing.
I wrote and designed this donor email newsletter for January 2019. I was inspired by an email I got from the epic Lori Jacobwith. It caught my attention because she used my name in the subject line and addressed me like an old friend “Hi Debbie.” I honestly did a double take when I read this email, like does she know me? I think the lack of images and simplicity of the email stood out. Inside the email, it read like we were best friends and she was speaking directly to me.
My first draft of the donor email was more text-heavy and included a call-to-action for donors to become monthly donors.
I shared the email draft with my team and our Director of Development noted that we should just say thank you and not ask for money in this email. We did include a subtle “PS” asking readers to watch our Faces of Hope video.
After changing the email, when it was sent out, several Volunteers of America staff members responded saying how much they appreciated this email and how it made their day.
A great way to kick off the year, by taking time to appreciate. Thanks & will share the inspiration with my crew!Grove City thrift store manager
Every day, I’m humbled to be surrounded by your kindness. On behalf of Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana, I sincerely thank you for allowing us to be an extension of your heart and hands, helping people reach their full potential and for helping our community thrive. Many wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.
John R. von Arx III
President & CEO
Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana
I went to a Denison event this evening after work and was talking to a current student who was studying English and he asked me, “Do you still write for fun outside of work?” I thought about it and honestly answered, “No, but I’d like to.”
I think I felt compelled to sit down and type something out after that comment.
A couple weeks ago I got an email inviting me to a “Career Ready Boot Camp Networking event as an alumni of Denison.” Sure, why not? Just say yes, right? Something I’d learned at Denison and that has been reinforced since graduation and since learning about improv comedy.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into but was lured by the detail of free drinks and food. For the same reason, I’d gone to a Yelp Elite event last night at High Bank Distillery.
At both events, when I first arrived by myself and saw a crowd of people, I wanted to so badly turn around and run for my car. It’s terrifying showing up alone to places and seeing a crowd of happy people talking to one another. I tell myself that I just half to stay for 15 minutes. Then, if I still hate it after 15 minutes, I can leave.
This Denison event started out by all the alumni going around the room and introducing themselves to the students. I hate introductions and felt really shy in that room. It also became somewhat comical because alumni were going around saying things like “I work for the FBI,” “I’m a litigator,” “I’m a speech pathologist,” “I work for Facebook.” I pictured someone adding “I cured cancer.” “I worked for Obama.” I just could not imagine myself chiming in, “I do marketing for a non-profit.” I know, I know, I shouldn’t compare myself to others. I really do love what I do and I’m not ashamed of it. I think I get a bit insecure when comparing myself to other Denison alumni. The university puts so much pressure on you to be spectacular after you graduate, and if you’re not, then you’re never talked about or respected. It’s like you don’t exist or you’re a Denison failure. I felt this type of pressure in college and it rises up again at these Denison events.
The networking began (release the wolves!) and I felt lost. Here were these amazing alumni, well-dressed students who looked like they already had been accepted into law school, and me. I was in my snow boots (it was snowing outside!) and these tight business pants I’d gotten at the thrift store and convinced myself were a business professional. I took a deep breath, reminded myself I’d survived these types of things before and told myself I could do this.
I reached out (okay, followed awkwardly then when he turned around began talking) to a guy who looked just as awkward and out of place as me. We have something in common! I asked him what he was studying. He said English. Hey, we have another thing in common! I asked him what professors he had and he drew a blank. Okay, weird, but I’ll let it slide. I guess spring semester hasn’t even started yet. Another student joined our table and he studied Communication. Hey, English and Communications were my majors!
They told me they’d been on a full day of externships visiting Grange Insurance, Oologie (they couldn’t remember the ad agency’s name so I thought they went to Origo. Then they were talking about how the agency focused on higher education and I knew which agency they meant.) and another place they couldn’t remember. I was kind of jealous and proud of my alma mater for giving students this chance to see real workplaces in Columbus and meet current employees.
When I was a student I did a day-long externship at GSW, an agency that focused on pharmaceutical ads. That definitely influenced my career into marketing. I was fascinated by this company and wanted to work there or somewhere similar.
At the networking event, I migrated to another table (still nursing my CBC IPA beer) to chat with a young woman. She was an Education major. I asked her what her thoughts were on the teacher strike in LA. She didn’t know what I meant. At first I was mad at myself for making her feel awkward and ignorant but then I reasoned that this was an appropriate question. You should know and stay up to date with the issues going on in your industry across the nation (and listen to NPR religiously.) I remember when I was talking with a Dension alumni about working at a magazine she asked me what books I was reading. I was not expecting this question so flubbed my answer. Later, she told me that I should be prepared for this question if I want to pursue this career path. It makes sense.
I asked the student if she had studied abroad and she said yeah, she just got back from Copenhagen. Did you say Denmark!? My face lit up and I exclaimed I did too and I’m going back to Copenhagen in May and can’t wait. She was surprised I was still in contact with my host family. Heck yeah, I’m still Facebook friends with them and we still chat. She said she lived with a host family and had a great time too. We talked about our European travels and agreed the experience made us more independent and confident. She traveled alone to Amsterdam which I was so impressed by. I haven’t had the courage to travel alone yet.
Two other girls joined our huddle and I did my best to welcome them into the circle. I’ve been in their shoes where you slide into a group, listening and waiting to be acknowledged. I find myself becoming almost an unrecognizable best version of me where I’m overly friendly, smiling and wanting to make everyone comfortable. I’ve seen this part of myself come out at Women in Digital events.
My conversation with the three girls shifted away from academics and careers into the current party culture on campus. Apparently, there’s a party tent now? Students can’t party in their dorms anymore unless they register their party? Times are changin’. I liked learning how campus had changed since I left in 2014. Alumni are just regular people who want to hear how the campus has changed and stayed the same.
Someone at the front of the room tapped on the microphone and announced that the alumni would now go around the room and share what they observed of the student’s networking abilities and offer them a piece of advice. I looked to the ceiling, avoiding all eye contact. I’d skipped the introductions, maybe I could skip the recap. I’m usually not this much of a rebel but I think again I was just terrified by speaking to a whole room of people. What would I say? The other alumni went around and said valuable things like, “showing up here tonight is half the battle,” “say yes to projects at your first job,” “don’t make typos on your resume,” “email someone if they give you a business card,” etc. I nodded along and stayed quiet.
I liked talking to the students one-on-one but something about speaking in front of everyone and waiting for my turn just freaked me out. Writing about it now, I think back to my 9th grade English class with Mr. Shoemaker (who inspired me to study English in college.) We did this Socratic seminar as a test and you got points each time you spoke up and participated. I think we were discussing one of my favorite books, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. I couldn’t get a word in. I couldn’t chime in or make my point. I didn’t want to interrupt or be rude but there was never a pause or lull in the conversation.
After the class, Mr. Shoemaker asked to see me. “What happened today, Ms. Gillum?” I loved that he called everyone by their last name. It gave us high schoolers this level of respect that we didn’t deserve.
“I don’t know. I got nervous. I couldn’t find a way to speak up. I wrote down what I wanted to say and add to the conversation. But couldn’t find a pause in the discussion.” I showed him my notes, which were scribbles of the points I wanted to add and gathering my thoughts in order so I’d say something intelligent. He said he understood and that it was fine this time but next time I’d need to speak up more.
So many years later, at this college networking event, and in meetings, I find myself still listening and struggling to chime in and say what I need to say.
Like everyone else, I’ve been watching “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. I was looking forward to the show since Netflix sent me a personalized email in December about the show and when it was premiering. Yes, Netflix, I was interested in a show about organization.
Nate, my boyfriend, teased me for watching a show about organization and cleaning. I can’t fault him. Rather than organize my own stuff, I’ll just watch someone else do it on TV.
I realized the concept of Tidying Up and donating what doesn’t bring you joy fits in perfectly with one of the goals of Volunteers of America: Get more donations to the thrift stores.
So, I hopped on the bandwagon and used this trend to my advantage on social media.
I made the graphic and wrote the copy.
I was proud of myself for this post. It did really well on Instagram, getting over 54 likes and 6 comments. It was relevant and trendy.
Our thrift stores have been seeing an increase in donations with everyone cleaning out their closets. I had some fun regramming this meme:
With our audience, humor always does well.
I wanted to share this monthly thrift email newsletter that I sent out this morning. I needed to let our subscribers know when we’ll be closed and that our sale date is changing this month. I kept it fun by updating the top banner for the holidays. Debbie looks good in a Santa hat.