Switch from cross-posting to cross-promoting


Staying above the endless stream of social media noise is hard work. To keep your audiences engaged, you need to share interesting content constantly. What’s a busy social media manager to do? Check out our recommendations below!

Cross-posting: saving time but sacrificing effectiveness

When you have an item to share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other accounts, it’s tempting to cross-post the exact same content on all of them and be done with it. However, you run the risk of repelling audiences with repetition – or content that doesn’t fit. Automating your social updates with cross-posting is not the answer.

Each social channel has its own rules, practices, audiences and quirks – so trying to make one piece of content fit every format isn’t effective.

Consider Instagram’s love for clever hashtags and banishment of hyperlinks as part of posts. Those hashtags won’t play as well on Facebook, where the hyperlink gets great traction. Cross-posting may provide an appealing level of efficiency, but it also comes with a disenchanting level of effectiveness and lost engagement.

Cross-promoting: adapting content to increase engagement

Cross-promotion involves tailoring content to each social media network. The process is more time-consuming but the ROI is worth it. If you have your core messages defined, cross-promoting can be pretty easy.

Where cross-posting may seem lazy or robotic to folks who follow you on multiple platforms, cross-promotion suggests that your brand is human and relatable. Adapting your content for each platform allows you to speak the language of that platform, hold your followers’ attention and get the most possible engagement.

Best practices in cross-promotion

First, make sure your posts maintain the human element. Provide points of interaction in your posts – ask questions, request opinions, engage followers and be sure to respond to them personally.

Consider these best practices to max out your engagement:

  • Use a strong headline and message. Take the time to find just the right words and make sure that headline is a great hook! Consider doing some A/B testing to determine what kinds of messaging work best for your audience.
  • Share to the most relevant networks. Not all content is suited for all networks.
  • Optimize your content. Follow the network’s unspoken rules and expectations for sharing to get the best performance out of your content.
  • Stagger your posts. Post at the optimal times for each network. (See our cheat sheet!)
  • Include a clear call-to-action. Your messages should ultimately be tied to a larger purpose beyond being seen or liked.

As with any social media strategy, the proof is in the ROI. Let us help you build a stellar social media presence today.

email marketing ingredients

Marvelous Email Marketing

email marketing ingredients

There’s a special sauce that can take your marketing emails from meh to marvelous. And that’s critically important in a world where American adults say they spend an unbelievable 10 hours, 39 minutes a day consuming media – much of that on mobile devices. If you want your audience to be engaged – and to click that call-to-action! – you’ve got to make sure your emails are on point. These 4 steps can help get you there.

4-step recipe for marvelous email marketing



Ewoks. Talk about living. Did you click that link? Of course you did. We all want to know why ewoks have it so good.

Using an interesting headline or intriguing first sentence draws the reader in, so your copy has the chance to keep them.

What would you rather click on?

  • Exciting NEW Business Opportunity!!!
  • It’s just like a platter of loaded nachos.

I rest my case.


Practice “word economy.” When brevity counts, so does choosing just the right word.

People make a snap decision to read or delete based on the preview they see on a mobile device.

About 18 words are displayed in the preview, which MarketingProfs calls the “most valuable real estate” in your email copy. Those 18 words have to rock!

And what about the body of the email?


Tilt the reader’s perspective. Readers are on guard against sales copy these days, so use an unexpected approach to break down that barrier.

Ditch the jargon and buzzwords. Use real language to make a real connection with your readers.

Make sure it’s well-written and carefully proofread. Typos and bad grammar are instant credibility killers.


Listen. Develop an understanding of your audience with a keen awareness of their needs, desires and fears.

Connecting from the heart triggers emotions, which engages people and makes them care about your message.

In short: Don’t just speak to your readers – join the conversation already going on in their head.

The 30-second read

  1. Use stunning openers to combat crazy-full inboxes and feeds.
  2. Be brief because readers are busy – and distracted.
  3. Use an unexpected perspective to delight readers.
  4. Write with heart in a personal voice to tap into emotion.
paid social

Is organic social media costing you customers?

paid social media strategy

A recent article on the popular Occam’s Razor marketing blog caused a stir by suggesting that marketers stop all organic social media marketing activity. We compiled the key points – and a suggestion for how you can get the biggest bang for your buck with social media.

The dream of organic reach

When they first launched, popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter offered an exciting opportunity to relate to customers on a more personal level and to build meaningful, long-term relationships. Brands began to have actual conversations with their customers, becoming a presence in their lives. Some companies got on the content marketing bandwagon, using the opportunity to share interesting content worthy of customers’ attention.

Unfortunately, many brands fell into the same old sales pitch habits on social media. And as customers ignored the “buy me!” messaging, platforms like Facebook restricted how much organic brand content users saw. This triggered a “death spiral” of ever-decreasing brand reach as brand posts saw even less engagement. The result? An almost negligible return for time spent creating all that social media content, across many platforms.

The low value of organic social

Want to gauge the value of your own social media posts? It’s pretty simple:

  • Measure your likes, shares and other engagement against the number of times your post was viewed.
  • Measure your post views against your total page likes.

Your numbers may shock you, but you aren’t alone. Consider a major customer management software company:

  • More than 30,000 clients
  • Facebook page with 1,433,784 likes
    • Most recent share was for a giveaway (a post that naturally draws more attention than others) and has been viewed 24,000 times and shared 59 times
  • The post has 743 likes and 141 comments

Those 24,000 views (.02% of the 1,433,784 page likes) are actually high for a post. Still, of those views:

  • .03% clicked a thumbs-up or other happy icon
  • .002% found the content worth sharing with friends
  • .006% left a comment

All that engagement still doesn’t come close to 1%!

What’s the return?

On the other hand, the company claims to reach more than 4.5 million readers each month with its blog. Based on the numbers above, it’s a sure bet those readers aren’t coming from organic social media marketing.

Is it really worth the company’s time, energy and marketing dollars to reach less than 1% of their page followers for not even half a percentage point in engagement? The math just doesn’t add up.

Now, consider the more than 4.5 million people who read the company’s newsletter, most receiving it by email on a regular basis. Even if only 1% of those folks actually read the content and choose to interact with the company, that’s 45,000 people.

The solution: Move to a paid social strategy 

Organic social media marketing may be on the way out – but social media is here to stay. Make one change and you’ll start seeing results: switch from a “fuzzy” organic strategy to paid social marketing.

  1. Test different targeting tactics in multiple channels to reach your ideal audience.
  2. Refocus your KPIs to metrics that show a direct line to company profit.
  3. Measure your impact and improve or eliminate under-performing efforts.

Don’t ditch your social media strategy – make it better! Reach out to see how we can help you shift to targeted paid social media marketing.


HTTPS and SSL: Do You Need to Secure Your Site?

HTTPS and SSL: Do You Need to Secure Your Site?

Google and others are continuing their ongoing push to help make the web more secure. We are seeing the steady adoption of HTTPS – evidenced by the fact that half of page 1 results on Google are now HTTPS. For those of you not familiar with the term, HTTPS stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.” The “S” comes from SSL, the security technology which encrypts all data passed between your browser and the web server.

Moz suggests that this will grow to 65% by the end of 2017. So the push to SSL is happening – but what do marketers need to do about it? The update below shares what marketers and site owners need to know about the growing trend.

How Google is specifically pushing SSL

  • According to Google, HTTPS is now a search engine ranking signal. Since it’s just one of 200+ factors, having it won’t make you suddenly rank #1 for every keyword. However, if your website and another website tie on every other ranking signal, HTTPS can give you the edge needed for the top ranking.
  • Google also flags unencrypted sites in Chrome.

Should I secure my site? How?

The answer is different for every company. But what we can tell you is that there are a lot of benefits, such as the coveted Google ranking boost. Let’s face it, everyone wants to be #1. Or at least on page one of search results!

Big benefits of SSL

  • Data privacy and security: People are using hotspots more than ever before. It’s important to encrypt full websites – not just logins – because you never know who might be watching and waiting for the opportunity to capture session information and other private data! Without security, you become an open book, online.
  • Content source validation: HTTPS not only encrypts the data, but verifies the content source. This is important because SSL certificates must be verified and issued from a trusted source – giving users a high level of confidence that what they are downloading is actually from the site they’re on. This prevents “man in the middle” attacks and prevents hackers from replacing non-secured content with viruses or other malicious code. When the world is made of data, you want to know what you’re dealing with is safe.

Tips for a flawless implementation 

In the past, it could be costly and tough to implement SSL. This isn’t true today. You just need to factor in a little bit of time to implement SSL correctly and the cost of purchasing and maintaining SSL certificates. The thing is, most websites don’t have a flawless SSL implementation – and end up seeing no benefit.

Make sure you do it right, with tips from Google Search Console and Search Engine Land:

  • Use server-side 301 redirects
  • Don’t forget to update all link references in your content
  • Update any paid media, email or marketing automation campaigns to use the HTTPS versions of the URLs
  • In your analytics platform, make sure you update the default URL if one is required, to ensure that you are tracking HTTPS properly, and add notes about the change so that you know when it occurred for future reference
  • Add the HTTPS property to Search Console: Google sees it as a separate site

Questions? The Signal team is here to help make sure your websites are functional, beautiful – and secure.  

data visualization

A Fresh Take on Data Visualization

New take on data visualization

Data visualization is at a watershed moment. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a new data visualization program, but we’re far from reaching what Visual Matters calls “peak dataviz.” The fact is that our brain’s visual wiring means that infographics are the most effective way to communicate data. And we’re still in the early stages of transitioning to a future where data-driven storytelling, fueled by the prevalence of Big Data across all industries, will be the norm. Stay ahead of the curve with these current data visualization trends.

Don’t forget the story.


data points infographics
It’s not enough to simply choose the right data set. Your infographic must tell a clear and captivating story, with key data points as the main characters. Think about the success of the graphics organizations at publications like FiveThirtyEight, the New York Times and USA Today – all master storytellers who use data to take readers on a journey.

Think “social first.”


social media bite sized infographics
Social sharing should be top of mind when you build narratives around your data. Create snackable infographics, to be consumed in social feeds where they can hook viewers on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, like these lively examples from Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill.

Keep it moving.


animated infographic
With the evolution of technology, data visualization is moving more toward animation and interactivity. How can you engage your audience in your data narrative with movement? This awesome data visualization shows how powerful an addition animation can be.

Make it easy to be green.


pantone greenery
Incorporate Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2017 into your infographics. Greenery 15-0343 is the color they say predicts visual and design trends for the year to come. It’s about new beginnings, freshness and a renewed focus on our environment. Other popular colors predicted for 2017: khaki, olive green, red brick, maroon and charcoal gray.

live platforms

Extend your reach with live platforms

live platforms

Video is critical to any marketing campaign and it’s just getting more prevalent. 74% of all internet traffic is predicted to be video in 2017 – and studies show that merely using the word “video” in your email subject line can increase open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%. We know you’re already embracing video. Why not take the next step to a hot live platform such as Facebook Live to reach your diverse audiences?

Great reasons to go live

Live-streaming takes your video marketing efforts to an entirely new, interactive level. Today’s live-streaming campaigns create a community out of your target audience and a stronger connection to your brand. Some of the benefits of going live include:

  • It’s still video, with all the appeal of your current video campaigns.
  • It adds an instant connection for social media users who love immediate, day-in-the-life experiences.
  • When you do it right, you get great user engagement and instant feedback.
  • It’s no more expensive than your current video marketing. All you need to live stream is a stable, strong internet connection and an HD quality camera.

Smart steps to max out your efforts

Before you hit “play,” remember that you want maximize your efforts and get as many people as possible tuning in to watch your live event. Some things would be better presented as a recorded video that can be watched anytime, including:

  • Product demos
  • Office tours
  • Exec / staff introductions
  • Live testimonials

Live-streaming works really well for something that people need to see right now – like a broadcast from a conference or celebration. Creating a sense of urgency and excitement brings in more viewers!

Here are some tips to get the most out of live-streaming:

  • Share breaking news, timely information and product or service launches.
  • Use advance scheduling when it makes sense. Set a weekly or monthly schedule so interested people can anticipate when the next one will happen.
  • If it’s a one-time event, promote it in advance on social media so people can put it on their calendar and know to attend, almost like a live webinar. Make use of Facebook’s ability to schedule a live video and announce to followers in advance when you place to go live.
  • Consider snackable clips or live “blog” posts for big announcements.
  • Don’t overlook SEO. Upload copies of those videos from live platforms to YouTube for more reach and searchability.
  • Be “camera ready,” available to chat about your products and services and take whatever opportunities come your way.
  • Experiment with content to find out what works best for your campaign.
  • Try different platforms. A few popular options are Facebook Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live and Periscope. Not all platforms will fit your brand or audience, of course, so test what is best for you.

Marketers who are using live platforms say that the “unscripted, unedited and more authentic” medium helps engage customers like never before. So get real, go live and start reaping the benefits.

Top 5 Trends for 2017


Happy New Year! The tree is down, the decorations have been put away and all that’s left of the holidays is your list of New Year’s resolutions. Is one of them “staying on top of the latest marketing practices?” The Signal team has you covered, with a list of the key trends that will keep you competitive in 2017.

5icontrends_1Live platforms put the broadcast in your hands

50% of executives would rather watch a video than read text. And 35 million people live streamed the 2016 presidential debates. Live platforms such as Periscope and Facebook Live and are the hottest new ways to reach diverse audiences. B2B applications include broadcasting from an industry conference, sharing executive perspectives, offering insight about your products / services or interviewing industry experts.

Interactivity helps people to “touch” your brand5icontrends_2

Call it the Pokémon GO effect, but just staring at a screen isn’t the same anymore. Interactive experiences are no longer a “nice to have” – they’re a must. On one end of the spectrum, you have tools like calculators and 360-degree video tours. From there, we move into things like sightseeing apps that overlay local information, to full multisensory experiences. In 2017, we predict that marketers will use interactive tools and even virtual reality to bring their products to life.

5icontrends_3Data visualization makes sense of big data

Big data is just getting bigger – and it’s having a huge impact on how we live and work. Across industries, companies are using data to drive execution and decision making. Data visualization is key to helping us process and use vast amounts of raw data. As data sources and system integrations become increasingly complex, visualization tools can mean the difference between success and failure.

Native advertising reaches your consumers in a natural way5icontrends_4

Native advertising follows the form and function of the platform where it appears. These disguised ads are often called the “gateway drug” to content marketing. While this technique is not new, its importance is on the rise as increasingly savvy consumers ignore traditional ads. Native advertising is a friendly and effective way to draw potential customers in. And that helps your content get the promotion it needs.

5icontrends_5Great writing sets you apart in a world of overload

We used to email. Then we switched to texting. Now, some of us don’t even have time for pesky nouns and verbs – we just use emojis! In a world where our attention spans have fallen to just eight seconds, every word counts. As consumers skip, skim and filter, good writing counts now more than ever. Professional writers help you tell the best story.

Stay tuned! Signal will be profiling these trends and more throughout 2017.

Gated Content Unleashed

Many inbound marketers use gated content to generate leads. The idea, of course, is that you offer to give something (a tasty piece of content) and get something in return (valuable information to help you qualify and reach out to leads). Recently, the Signal team enjoyed a vigorous discussion on the old but important question: Should content be gated or not?

Our conclusion: there’s no wrong answer. There are potential challenges and opportunities with either path. This post gives you the highlights of our conversation – and will help you figure out the right approach for your organization.


To Gate or Not to Gate?

A few things to consider as you get started.

Gated content
  • Specifics about who accessed the content
  • More effective sales outreach and targeting
  • Smaller audience
  • Harder to earn links
  • Possible negative brand perception
  • Decreased SEO benefits
Open access content
  • Greater ability to drive traffic
  • Larger future audience for retargeting / remarketing
  • SEO benefits (links, engagement metrics, ranking)
  • Difficult or impossible to convert visits into leads
  • No information about valuable / important visitors
  • If you give it all away upfront, reasons to engage decrease

Informed by Moz pioneer Rand Fishkin

Ask the Right Questions

Whether or not you gate your content depends on many factors, including your business, audience and strategy. The goal is to get consumers through the sales funnel (or for non-profits, the giving funnel) by building up trust, engagement and loyalty. Some customers want to be convinced and will consider your content valuable enough to offer their information in return. Other customers will bolt if you make the process difficult.

And in an era of the cloud and social media, if you don’t give prospects relevant information to help them engage or buy, they’ll just get it elsewhere – probably from a competitor or a non-expert within their circle of influence. This is especially true of millennials.

We think that asking smart questions helps inform your gating approach. The more “yes” answers you give, the more appropriate gated content may be.

  • Do you have the resources to produce compelling content?
  • Is the content you’re offering valuable enough to ask for a name and email (or more) in return?
  • Do you have the resources to drive enough traffic to the content to make it worthwhile?
  • Do you have marketing software to start developing profiles on visitors?
  • Do you have sales/marketing teams who are trained on – and willing to use – their marketing software/CRM to work the leads?
  • Is your potential audience on the early end of the funnel, just starting to investigate you?

Mix It Up With the Content Pillar Approach

The Signal team liked the idea of an organization’s having a balance of gated and ungated content – known as the content pillar approach, defined as:

“A substantive and informative piece of content on a specific topic or theme which can be broken into many derivative sections, pieces, and materials. Examples of content pillars include eBooks, reports, and guides.”

It’s all about supporting your meaty central “pillar” of gated content (such as a white paper) with related, lighter ungated pieces (blog posts, videos). Customers enter the funnel through the ungated pieces, which drive traffic to the pillar content and to the gate that helps up the chances of converting traffic into leads.

Ungated content to support gated premium content could include:

  • Stats, tips, quotes, or ideas shared via social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media
  • Free preview chapters or sections of eBooks
  • “Micrographics,” small infographics focusing on one or two key points, or excerpted segments from a gated infographic – or even gifographics that show movement
  • Blog posts that focus on issues discussed in just one section of your premium content offer
  • List posts that cover the main issues discussed in your gated content offer at a high level
  • If your gated content includes any assets like a checklist, table or worksheet, consider providing either a portion of the asset or the entire thing as an ungated resource 

Final Thoughts 

The smart approach is to assess the needs of your audience and target content specifically to that audience – then offer it to them in the format they need it. Gate when it makes sense, but lean towards open access to cast the widest net possible.

Captivate Audiences with Interactive Storytelling

Grab a life jacket! Your customers are swimming in data and information. Every minute, email users send more than 200 million messages while Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content – and that’s just two channels. You can help your message break through by appealing to our natural “visual wiring” with interactive storytelling.

Research shows that powerful visual techniques make your message much more engaging, accessible and persuasive. Here are a handful of awesome examples to inspire you.

Stories that are fun to explore and share

Example Features Why it rocks
Rough Fire Interactive Map
National Park ServiceRough Fire Interactive Map - National Park Service
  • Left-hand nav bar
  • Story in text and photos
  • Interactive map pulls users into the story
Helping the public develop a new appreciation for the value of fire prevention
Most Valuable Sports Franchises
Column Five MediaMost Valuable Sports Franchises - Column Five Media
  • Color-coded categories
  • Mouseover details on Forbes ranking, team value, championship wins
Creating shared understanding about which teams are truly on top
Twister Dashboard: Exploring Three Decades of Violent Storms
ESRITwister Dashboard: Exploring Three Decades of Violent Storms - ESRI
  • Interactive timeline offers details by year – and changes the map accordingly
  • Clicking on a single tornado site offers details on injuries, fatalities, property loss
Allowing audiences to explore vast quantities of data quickly
2015 Annual Report
The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society2015 Annual Report  - The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society
  • Left-hand nav bar
  • Story in text and photos
  • Interactive map
Strengthening brand by presenting a traditional communication in an entirely new way

Help your messages stand out from the sea of information. Try interactive storytelling to capture your audience’s attention and encourage them to take action.

increase mailing list opt-in

8 Ways to Increase Mailing List Opt-Ins

Maintaining and growing your mailing list is an essential part of your business – at least it should be. Unfortunately, email lists frequently fall into an auto-pilot mode. Here are some proactive ways to keep the efforts moving in the right direction.


1.     Use pop-up newsletter prompts.

Despite what your gut and common sense may tell you, newsletter signup prompts do work. I’ve seen “light box” pop-ups tested over and over again across a long list of websites, and they reliably result in more signups, increased revenue and higher engagement rates. A recent study from eConsultancy reports that an average overlay will increase opt-ins by up to 400%!

2.     Sell the value.

You’ll end up with a certain number of website visitors opting in to your mailing list out of habit, because they like your brand, by accident, or just because. For everyone else, you need to explain the benefits of doing so. Don’t just say “Sign up for our newsletter” and leave it at that – make sure you’re effectively communicating what’s in it for them. Is it exclusive deals? Is it high-quality content? Is it authoritative industry news?

3.     Try creative technology.

There are plenty of commonplace signup tools out there, but getting creative with how your prompt functions is a great way to boost opt-ins. As a creative example, BounceExchange displays an overlay when the cursor nears the browser’s back or close button. Since this is a novel interactive effect, it’s very effective in grabbing attention.

4.     Test, test, test.

Like any critical piece of your website, your email opt-in strategies should be tested to continuously improve the system. Here are some ideas to test your overlay/prompt:

·       Button color

·       Call to action

·       Inline text (prepopulated text field: “Enter your email here”)

·       Position/location

·       Top, horizontal bar

·       Single vs. double opt-in

5.     Motivate referrals.

Refer-a-friend programs can be very effective in growing your opt-in list dramatically. Similar to the second recommendation above, these programs must communicate a clear benefit for doing so. Common incentives for submitting a referral include redeemable points, discounts, free shipping and account/usage upgrades.

6.     Hand over control.

This method is often used to prevent opt-outs, but is still effective in keeping your list size growing. If you’re seeing a lot of opt-outs/unsubscribes, consider introducing a menu from which your visitors can opt in or out of certain types of content, frequency or both.

7.     Leverage social.

Don’t overlook your social network followers as a source of email acquisitions. These individuals have already expressed interest in your business. Those who haven’t already opted in to your newsletter are far more likely to do so than an average site visitor. You can also post offers on your social channels that require an email signup.

8.     Piggyback on comments.

If your site allows comments or similar engagement, consider including a signup form with the comment section. These users are already likely entering their email addresses, so they are only a small step away from opting in.