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  • The Spokal A-Z Guide to Marketing Terms (learn what all that jargon means).
  • The Spokal Guide to getting your first 1000 visitors from Twitter
  • 3 Blogging Templates to speed the creative process up
  • And a mini-guide on how all the different content marketing pieces fit together.

Working From Home? Here Are 4 Tips for a Happy At-Home Work Life!

4 tips for work from home!

Photo courtesy of Fabio Bruna

When I found out that my job at Spokal would require me to work from home, I was a mixed bag of emotions.

At first, you’re thrilled! Working from home has all those typical perks you might think they do, such as working in your pyjamas (hey, don’t judge – you would too!) to saving money on fuel, but people kept asking me how I would keep myself motivated? How would I keep myself on a schedule? How would I stop myself from taking naps?

Well, for one: I don’t nap. And as for the other points… I wasn’t sure.

And so I started to get nervous. Was I going to become too distracted? Was I going to let my work suffer? Was I going to even get it done?

So in June I started to work for Spokal from home. I also have a co-working space in town, so if I start to get a little stir crazy, I can always go there.

And for the first few weeks, everything went swimmingly!

And after a few months, I was still working my aaaa… uhm… fingers off.

Mobile Design For The Modern Business [Infographic!]

This is a guest blog post by Ivan Serrano

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Mobile Design

Mobile design is changing the way consumers interact with businesses. People are no longer using a phone book to find the location of a retailer, but instead they’re using their mobile devices!

Mobile technology has made it possible for businesses to create a closer relationship with their target customers. Businesses can use mobile design to help their customers locate their store and receive valuable information regarding product promotions.

When it comes to researching products, 4 out of 5 consumers use their mobile device. If your business is yet to create a design that fits your customers’ browsing needs, it’s time for an update. As you take a look at how mobile design can improve your business, here are four things you should know:

Looking to the Future: Our Digital Marketing Predictions for 2015

40+37 Magic 8 Ball

Photo courtesy of bark(CC Attribution)

2014 has been a year of trying, testing and growing. We’ve seen a
huge push for quality over quantity, visual media has begun to take
center stage, technological innovations have changed the way we do
business and big data has revealed more about our customers (and us!)
than ever before.

It’s been a big year say the very least, but what does the future have in store for us? Let’s have a look at some of the marketing predictions for 2015.

10 Ways to Utilize Social Media This Holiday Season!

10 WAYS TO UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

With the dust of Black Friday and Cyber Monday finally settling down, the data is intriguing. According to the NRF Thanksgiving Weekend Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, overall shopper traffic was down on Black Friday by 5.2%, but online sales were up by 20.6%.

That means that people are becoming more interested in spending their money online, and less interested in going out to their local store to beat the crowds.

And it’s on social media that we see a lot of these customers research and recommend gifts.

In fact, this year saw the most social Black Friday ever. According to the social media analytics firm Spredfast, in the 7 days prior to Black Friday there were over 2 million Twitter conversations around the topic – That’s twice as much as last year!

How much these conversations actually lead to conversions, is still an open ended question. But one thing is for sure: Social media is where your customers are talking about their shopping habits, so that’s where you should be too.

While the biggest shopping days may be over with, there’s still plenty of shopping time left coming up to the end of the year holidays, such as Christmas and New Years.  

So here are a few tips on how to get the most of your social media this holiday season.  

18 Dumb Mistakes That You Might Still Be Making On Your Blog

Blogging?

Photo courtesy of Anonymous Account(CC Attribution)

Writing a blog is hard work. First, you’ve to come up with a niche that you want to focus on. Then you have to create a schedule of topics to discuss. Then you have to write about interesting topics, and you have to write well. Then you have to edit it. And then you have to publish and distribute it to the best of your abilities. And then… Well, there’s a bunch of other things that go before, during and after all that.

And to make things even harder, there are millions of blogs (152 million, to be exact) out there, and only so much time in the world for us to read them. That’s a lot of competition. 

The simple truth is: You’ve got to do things just right if you want to be successful at this blogging thing.

And you probably know that there’s a thing or do that you could improve.  Maybe they’re small details that you insist are too small to make a big difference to your reader numbers, or maybe they’re so big you’re scared to tackle them. But nothing worthwhile was ever easy, so first stop to figuring out what you’re doing wrong is to look at the basics. 

Too Busy To Be Sick? Here’s How To Stay Productive When Sick!

Sick Day - Stay Productive When Sick

Photo courtesy of RLHyde(CC ShareALike)

December is finally here, and you know what that means! 

‘Tis the season! … To get sick, that is.

It seems inevitable for a lot of us, who no matter how well we take care of ourselves, wrapping up warm, taking our vitamins, eating well, still manage to conquer all obstacles and get sick anyways.

Being sick isn’t pleasant for anyone, but if you’re a part of a small business or a start-up, the chances that you have the luxury of getting sick are pretty slum.  

Things need to get done and you need to do them.

Simple.  

Unfortunately, you’re not much use to anyone with your sniffles, sneezing, coughing and general spreading of germs. Nor are you really getting that much work done since your brain is so drowsy and your eyes are struggling to stay open.

When you’re under the weather, you just have to face facts that things won’t be performing at 100% for the next day or two.

Ideally, you have a back-up plan ready to go, or a person who can cover you. But if you absolutely have to work, the best you can hope to do (before seriously setting yourself back a few days due to prolonged sickness) is about 2 – 3 hours of good work.

Stay productive when sick, here’s some tips:

A Historical Reading of Marketing Automation and Technophobia

A Historical Reading of Marketing Automation and technophobia

Photo courtesy of SomeDriftwood

You’ve probably noticed, and I apologize for sounding like a broken record, but there’s a particular wariness amongst quite a lot of people when it comes to marketing automation. Sometimes we love it, sometimes we hate it… But we always approach it with this sense of caution that seems to be specifically unique nowadays to marketing automation. 

It would take me weeks (if not months) just to compile a list of all the articles on the internet that have weighed in on the marketing automation debate. On a daily basis, we’re flooded with blog posts that argue for or against automation, for example: Is Marketing Automation Cheating or Just Slightly Creepy? & What’s Wrong With Marketing Automation? 

The battle rages on and on, and digital marketers who swear by automation tools are going way out of their way to defend them by telling you in excruciating detail exactly what automation is, how it should be used, and why it’s such an asset when used correctly. 

The Top 10 Mistakes That Can Kill a Start-up!

You have a great idea for a business, the drive and passion that could make a business succeed, and the willpower to push this thing into life.

Of course, you’re going to make a few mistakes – It’s all a part of the learning process. But will you make one of these 10 mistakes that can kill a start-up?

Not if you read this blog post!

I’ve rummaged through the internet, reading, oh I’d say close to a billion articles, to come up with the top 10 reasons that start-ups fail. Heed these warning, and learn from these mistakes so that you avoid the fate of 90% of start-ups!

1. Failure to prepare a business plan

Mistakes That Can Kill a Start-up

Photo courtesy of photosteve101(CC Attribution)

In the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Stephen Covey states that you should “begin with the end in mind”.

This is where your business plan comes in.

Sure, you’ve a great idea – But where do you want it to go?

Creating a business plan will allow for you to gauge exactly what resources you’ll need in order to succeed, and what are the different outcomes that you expect to see. It gives you some clarity with regards your business goals, and allows for you to understand what areas are urgent, what areas can be prioritized lower on the scale, and where to put your resources.

Remember:

“People don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”

A Beginner’s Guide to Creating a Professional Slideshare

This blog post has been re-purposed into a Slideshare. Just scroll on down to the bottom of the page if you’d prefer to get the information through a visual medium!

A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Professional Slideshare

Photo courtesy of Sarah Burke

You’ve heard time and time again that you should be mixing up your content.

But it’s hard to get out of your blog post funk sometimes.

A great way to make the step is with a Slideshare.

Why?

Because creating a Slideshare is a lot like writing a blog post.

Both blog posts and Slideshares work very similarly: They both aim to tell a story, while adding value to their viewers lives.

A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Professional Slideshare

Photo courtesy of yukop(CC ShareALike)

The only difference is that Slideshare presentations rely more heavily on visuals to effectively communicate these stories and use the written word to aid in understanding, while blog posts rely more heavily on the written word to communicate its message clearly, and use images to aid in understanding. 

Because of this, Slideshares require you to work with visuals as your main medium rather than text.

If you don’t have a good eye for visuals, then you may be balking at the idea of creating an entire piece of content created around visuals. But don’t worry – Powerpoint does most of this work for you. You don’t have to be particularly design-inclined to create a decent looking slideshare with Powerpoint.

At first, it can be hard (especially if you’re a bit of a perfectionist) but it’s far from impossible.

You can create a Slideshare from scratch, or you can create it using a blog post that you’ve already published it. Repurposing a blog post into a Slideshare is slightly easier in my opinion, so if you’re not super confident in your powerpoint skills, I’d suggest going down this route for your first time.

Here’s how you can create a professional Slideshare, even if you’re just a beginner!

5 Content Marketing Rules That You Should Definitely Break!

Crater Lake

Photo courtesy of aspearing(CC Attribution)

There are a lot of content marketing rules out there.

These rules range anywhere from telling you how many words should be in a blog post, to the correct procedure for dealing with a marketing crisis.

And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with rules, there is something wrong with a business that is so rule-bound that they can only ever be average.

So here’s the thing with rules: Truly great businesses rarely follow them.

To be great, you have to take risks. And to take risks, you sometimes have to bend (or break) a rule or two.

Break the Rules! (photo by: Scott Kleinberg)

Photo courtesy of BrentDPayne(CC ShareALike)

Great businesses tend to view rules as more like guidelines. Sure, they can help steer a business in the right direction, but when the times calls for it, they’ll create their own course of action.

The following content marketing rules are ones that I see businesses adhere to time and time again, even when it’s clear that it’s not working for them. I see businesses cling to these rules like comfort blankets, telling themselves that as long as they stick by them, they will succeed.

But in fact, these rules might very well be hurting your business.

Here are 5 content marketing rules that you should definitely break.