Six Reasons Not to Hate Epcot’s “Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Tape Live!”

first_imgShare This!According to legend, as Walt Disney was lying on his deathbed, he stared at the ceiling tiles and mapped out his vision for Walt Disney World’s EPCOT, a forward-thinking community where people from all nations could gather together, share their culture and technological innovations, and enjoy classic pop songs performed by comic book characters. Okay, we’re pretty sure that last part wasn’t part of Walt’s original “Florida Project” plans, but that hasn’t stopped the modern-day Disney company from dropping Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Tape Live! into Epcot’s American Gardens Theater to entertain the summer crowds.This is far from the first time that World Showcase’s premier amphitheater has tried to beat the heat with vintage tunes; the Sounds Like Summer cover band concert series ran there for several years before being canceled in 2017. But this time around, Epcot’s entertainment team has cut out the middlemen by building their own classic rock group, and fronting it with two fan-favorite Marvel heroes: Peter “Star-Lord” Quill, and Gamora. The show’s paper-thin premise is that a Xandarian Chamber Orchestra has been sent to Epcot as cultural outreach ambassadors. Star-Lord soon arrives with a sword-swinging Gamora in tow to teach them how to play retro hits from his home planet Earth, instead of their usual atonal alien intonations.Epcot’s new ‘Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Tape Live!’ show may be the surprise sleeper hit of the summer.Despite their box office popularity, the Guardians of the Galaxy seem to be developing a history of making Disney diehards hyperventilate. The conversion of Disney California Adventure’s Twilight Zone Tower of Terror into Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: Breakout! was bemoaned by many… at least until the reimagined ride reopened, and quickly rose to the top of Disneyland Resort’s guest satisfaction surveys. Similarly, when Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Tape Live was first announced, you could practically hear the eye-rolling from old-school EPCOT admirers, who predicted the show would be the worst shoehorning of an intellectual property into World Showcase since 1994’s Magical World of Barbie.Well, get ready for a twist more shocking than the end of Infinity War, because it turns out that the Guardians of the Galaxy know how to throw a pretty great party. The thematic justification for the venue is vaporous at best, but taken on its own terms, Awesome Mix Tape Live turned out to be far more entertaining than anyone could have predicted. We’re not saying anyone should skip their Soarin’ FastPass just to see it, but if you aren’t on a tight touring plan, it’s worth stopping in for a performance while in the back half of World Showcase.Rocket Raccoon doesn’t appear on stage during Awesome Mix Tape Live!, but you might spot him in the sound booth.Here are six reasons why Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Tape Live is unexpectedly non-awful:1. The SetlistWisely, this show is all about the songs, and the selections include the cream of the crop from both Guardians of the Galaxy movie soundtracks. It kicks off with Blue Suede’s Hooked on a Feeling, whose iconic “Ooga-Chaka” intro is indelibly linked to the first film’s trailer; we were disappointed when the tune wasn’t picked as one of the random options in the Mission: Breakout ride, so it’s great to hear it here. That’s followed by Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love,” Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” and Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” with “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 capping off the twenty-minute set. Every song is a certified crowd-pleaser, and there are no down-tempo numbers to sap the show’s momentum.2. The MusiciansDisney probably could have gotten away with a glorified meet-and-greet using pre-recorded music (like the Guardians of the Galaxy dance party in DCA), but instead they went all out with a six-piece live band, consisting of a keyboard player, drummer, bass and lead guitarists, and a pair of horn players. That’s more instrumentalists than some Broadway touring companies employ these days. Better yet, this band really rocks, and their energy elevates what could easily have otherwise been cosplay karaoke. Kudos also go to the sound crew, who give the mix just enough bass to make you want to bang your head, without blowing out the vocals.3. The SingersThose vocals are delivered by a lead male vocalist with silvery cybernetic makeup; he’s backed up by a pair of purple females who do the heavy lifting by harmonizing, and occasionally take the spotlight. There are two rotating casts, and their vocal talents range for “pretty good for a theme park” to “why aren’t you famous yet?” In fact, actress Michelle Knight was in the Broadway cast of Jersey Boys, and starred off Broadway in Disenchanted. Legends like Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury are hard acts to follow, but this cast has the professional pipes to do their songs justice.4. The Production ValuesFor a short-term production, Disney apparently invested a surprising amount of money, starting with the wall of supersized LED screens behind the stage, which display adorable new animations of Baby Groot. Then there’s the pyrotechnics, which range from blasts of fog and fire to spinning sparklers and roman candles. And don’t overlook the movie-quality costumes and makeup for the cast and crew. Awesome Mix Tape Live has been dismissed by some as nothing but a quick cash grab, but the superior stagecraft suggests otherwise.5. The ActorsStar-Lord and Gamora don’t sing during the show, and they don’t do stunts, though Gamora gets in some martial arts acrobatics during a girl-power moment. But they do bind the production together with their between-song banter, and these performers do a fine job embodying their character’s cinematic personas. The actors playing Peter Quill have to work particularly hard, since their hairpieces are fairly hilarious – though vastly improved over the wigs used at previous meet and greets – but these guys manage to pull off Chris Pratt’s charming schmuck shtick to a T. And if you were a fan of Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, you may recognize P.J. Gajda from his years playing Bill S. Preston in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure.6. The WritingSpeaking of Bill & Ted, you might detect an echo of their banter in the back-and-forth between Star-Lord and cohorts. That’s because new Guardians show was written and directed by J. Michael Roddy, who was a writer for Universal’s parody show during the late 1990s. This show’s style will also seem familiar if you’ve had the good fortune to sail on a Disney Cruise with a Marvel or Star Wars day at sea, since Roddy has helmed the theatrical productions for those as well. Sure, the storyline isn’t exactly Shakespeare, but the dialogue does a credible job of capturing the characters’ voices without becoming inaccessible to viewers unfamiliar with the franchise. And Star-Lord manages to land a couple pop-culture punchlines that made us laugh out loud.Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Tape Live is currently being performed five times each day, and is scheduled to run through August 19. The first show of the day at 1:30 p.m. is the least crowded, followed by the last at 8 p.m. Seats in the front are shaded from the elements, but benches further back give a better view of the screens and stage effects.If you can’t see the show in person, we recorded a livestream of a recent performance that you can replay of below:Finally, if you’re still not convinced that the Guardians of the Galaxy belong in Epcot, our advice is to start getting used to it. Because as you can tell from this photo of their roller coaster’s massive new show building (as seen from the parking lot), you’re going to be seeing a lot more of them in the future.Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster (some assembly required).last_img read more

Auburndale girls basketball dominates Northland Lutheran

first_imgBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterAUBURNDALE — Paiton Richardson had 23 points and nine rebounds, and the Auburndale girls basketball team pounded Northland Lutheran 59-14 in a Marawood Conference South Division matchup Thursday night at Auburndale High School.Auburndale cruised out to a 21-5 lead after the first quarter and went up 45-10 by halftime in a dominating performance.Taylor Gotz added 13 points and seven rebounds, and Shannon Yahnke had 11 points for the Apaches. Auburndale improves to 15-4 overall and finishes its Marawood South season with a 9-3 record. Northland Lutheran is now 7-13 and ends up 2-10 in the conference.Auburndale hosts Athens in a nonconference game Tuesday and will play in the Marawood Conference third-place crossover game on Feb. 20 against an opponent yet to be determined.(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of 59, Wildcats 14Northland Lutheran 5 5 2 2 – 14Auburndale 21 24 9 5 – 59NORTHLAND LUTHERAN (14): Beka Edelberg 0-5 2-4 2, Ashley Colby 0-4 0-0 0, Hannah Kloehn 2-6 2-6 7, Mesa Haag 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor Fenske 1-4 0-0 3, Sidney Moore 0-2 0-0 0, Halley Engelbrecht 0-6 0-0 0, Erin Gast 0-1 0-0 0, Melissa Neumann 0-2 2-2 2. FG: 3-31. FT: 6-12. 3-pointers: 2-10 (Kloehn 1-1, Fenske 1-4, Neumann 0-1, Engelbrecht 0-1, Edelberg 0-1, Colby 0-2). Rebounds: 14 (Neumann 6). Record: 7-13, 2-10 Marawood Conference South Division.AUBURNDALE (59): Rachel Gronemeyer 0-1 0-1 0, Cassie Mitchell 0-3 0-0 0, Ashley Peplinski 0-2 1-2 1, Allison Linzmeier 3-4 0-0 6, Cheyenne Karl 0-1 0-0 0, Jenna Peplinski 0-2 2-4 2, Sylviann Momont 1-7 1-2 3, Paiton Richardson 9-15 5-6 23, Shannon Yahnke 4-7 3-4 11, Taylor Gotz 4-14 5-6 13. FG: 21-55. FT: 17-25. 3-pointers: 0-1 (A. Peplinski 0-1). Rebounds: 34 (Richardson 9). Assists: 13 (Momont 3). Record: 15-4, 9-3 Marawood Conference South Division.last_img read more

Marshfield, Columbus Catholic soccer stars make all-conference

first_imgDons’ Fuerlinger named MSSC Player of the YearBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterMARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Columbus Catholic and Marshfield high school boys soccer teams put together impressive winning seasons, and it showed as the teams’ respective conferences recently released their all-conference squads for 2016.Columbus Catholic, which won the Mid-State Soccer Conference with a perfect 12-0 record and finished 20-3 overall before losing in the WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinals, had five first-team and three second-team selections to the all-conference squad.Marshfield finished in third place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference at 6-5-1 and ended up 12-8-4 overall after losing in a WIAA Division 1 sectional final, just one win away from the state tournament. The Tigers had a pair of first-team and one second-team all-WVC honorees.Mid-State Soccer ConferenceMarshfield Columbus Catholic senior Tyler Fuerlinger was named the Mid-State Soccer Conference Player of the Year and was one of five Dons picked to the all-conference first team.Fuerlinger, Tim Gruenloh, Charles Payant, and Calvin Brown were unanimous first-team selections for the Dons. Ryan Dieringer was also a first-team selection. Fuerlinger and Brown also earned first-team all-conference accolades in 2015.Nadim Torbey, Nick Malovrh, and goalkeeper Bailey Keffer were second-team honorees for the Dons.Columbus Catholic’s Jeff Edwards was also named conference Coach of the Year after sharing the honor last season.“This team was very successful this year in many aspects,” Edwards said. “We set school records in goals scored and assists given, shattering the previous records. We had six players score at least 10 goals and nine players had double-digit points scored. That speaks to the versatility we had on offense. Our defense led the way, though, allowing only 10 goals in the regular season. Everything started from the back and went from there. I’m extremely proud of each and every player for all of the hard work and dedication they put in since June.”Wisconsin Valley ConferenceMarshfield senior midfielder/defender Alec Hinson was a unanimous first-team selection, and fellow senior midfielder/defender Luke McCann also was voted to the first team of the 2016 All-Wisconsin Valley Conference Boys Soccer Team.Hinson had three goals and four assists during conference play, moving to defense early in the year due to injuries and necessity.Marshfield senior Alec Hinson was a unanimous first-team selection to the 2016 All-Wisconsin Valley Conference Boys Soccer Team, as voted on by the conference’s seven coaches.“He is a great communicator and organizer on defense,” Marshfield coach Steve McCann said. “He wins balls in the air and takes great angles on balls. As a defender, Alec always seemed to make the right choice.”Luke McCann finished fifth in the Valley with 21 total points (eight goals, five assists).McCann also moved back to defensive midfielder midway through the season to help the Tigers build up their resistance.“This gave Luke more space to operate, helped our team defensively, and gave us better ability to get the ball switched side-to-side,” Steve McCann said. “Luke has excellent vision on the field and helps our team to be able to maintain possession and control with smart, accurate passes.”Senior Klaus Friedli was the Tigers’ lone second-team pick. He finished seventh in the conference in points with 17 (five goals, seven assists).Senior Collin Nikolai and sophomore Isaac Wellens were honorable mention choices for Marshfield. Nikolai finished with seven goals and two assists during WVC play.“We started to play really well at the end of September when we beat Wausau West 2-0 and ended up winning eight of our next 10,” Steve McCann said. “We ended up leading the WVC in scoring, shots, corner kicks, and fouls. We were really good at creating scoring chances. Our finishing was inconsistent but was definitely improving at the end of the year.”2016 All-Mid-State Soccer Conference TeamFirst team: *Tyler Fuerlinger, Marshfield Columbus Catholic; *Tim Gruenloh, Marshfield Columbus Catholic; *Charles Payant, Marshfield Columbus Catholic; *Calvin Brown, Marshfield Columbus Catholic; *Harrison Varline, Wausau Newman Catholic; *Connor Molski, Stevens Point Pacelli; *Chris Jensen, Stevens Point Pacelli; *Connor Schubring, Wisconsin Valley Lutheran; Ryan Dieringer, Marshfield Columbus Catholic; David Burgess, Northland Lutheran; Jacob Price, Northland Lutheran; Brad Maes, Stevens Point Pacelli; Rhein Zuelsdorff, Wisconsin Valley Lutheran; Tekoya Cosby, Wisconsin Valley Lutheran.Second team: Nadim Torbey, Marshfield Columbus Catholic; Bailey Keffer, Marshfield Columbus Catholic; Nick Malovrh, Marshfield Columbus Catholic; Chamong Lo, Wausau Newman Catholic; Fernando Juan, Wausau Newman Catholic; Corey Baron, Stevens Point Pacelli; Katie Craig, Tri-County; Coleton Schubring, Wisconsin Valley Lutheran; Austin Pagel, Wisconsin Valley Lutheran.Honorable mention: Andrew Blanker, Stevens Point Pacelli; Grant Faulkner, Wisconsin Valley Lutheran.Player of the Year: Tyler Fuerlinger, Marshfield Columbus Catholic.Coach of the Year: Jeff Edwards, Marshfield Columbus Catholic.*unanimous selection—2016 All-Wisconsin Valley Conference Boys Soccer TeamFirst team: *Alex Pagel, sr., D.C. Everest (goalkeeper); *Jack Mittelsteadt, sr., D.C. Everest; *Alec Hinson, sr., Marshfield; *Joey Dorgan, sr., Stevens Point; *Pet Hefferan, sr., Stevens Point; *Adam Hahn, sr., Wausau East; *Jonah Bakunowicz, sr., Wisconsin Rapids; *Jack Kiiskila, jr., Wisconsin Rapids; Luke McCann, sr., Marshfield; Joe DeLoye, sr., Wausau West; Cullen Stangel, sr., Wausau West.Second team: Matt Altmann, sr., Stevens Point (goalkeeper); Brennan Krieg, jr., D.C. Everest; Seth Jaglinski, sr., D.C. Everest; Austin Zettler, sr., Merrill; Jarett Jones, sr., Stevens Point; Klaus Friedli, sr., Marshfield; McKenon Diekroeger, sr., Stevens Point; Matt Lukasik, jr., D.C. Everest; Nate Napiwocki, sr., Stevens Point; Nick Lange, sr., Wausau East; Dylan Bassuener, sr., Wisconsin Rapids.Honorable mention: Brayden McMahon, sr., Wausau West (goalkeeper); Gunnar Yonker, sr., D.C. Everest; Tamirat Knutson, fr., D.C. Everest; Keondre Porter, jr., Stevens Point; Ben Johnson, jr., Wausau West; Keegan Pulchinski, so., Wisconsin Rapids; Collin Nikolai, sr., Marshfield; Colin Lindvig, jr., Wisconsin Rapids; Zach Ostrowski, jr., D.C. Everest; Brendan Leahy, so., Stevens Point; Elkin Thao, jr., Wausau East; Isaac Wellens, so., Marshfield; Austin Burgener, sr., Merrill; Mark Raasch, jr., Wausau West; Bryson Einerson, jr., Wisconsin Rapids.Player of the Year: Jack Mittelsteadt, sr., D.C. Everest.*unanimous selectionlast_img read more

Finding Blue Ocean Keywords: A Fresh Look At The Long Tail

first_img Whether the notion of the “long tail” resonates with you or this idea of “blue ocean” keywords works, the key to attracting more free traffic to your site from search engines is to create more great content on your site than your competitors do.  Focusing less on the most common or obvious keywords and more on carving out your own unique set terms will likely result in faster and better results. keyword research It occurred to me that applying the essence of their theory to your or In Kim and Mauborgne’s metaphor, a red ocean represents existing and competitive industries where lots and lots of people are fighting for limited market share; picture sharks in a feeding frenzy.  A blue ocean represents new industries where opportunity is abundant and competition is non-existent; picture the clear, blue ocean water. “business consulting” “consultants” “consulting” A few years ago we posted an I created a spreadsheet (represented above) of about 1500 keywords that we track (presuming they are all reasonably relevant).  Then, based on the intensity of competition for each keyword, I applied a gradient with blue being applied to those keywords with little or no competition and red being applied to those with steep competition.  The result is a pretty cool visual representation of which keywords would likely deliver the quickest and most qualified results. .  They are easy to identify and they are attractive because lots and lots of people tend to search for them.  To actually generate organic traffic from them, however, is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for most companies; there is just way too much competition. Typically, these “red ocean” keywords are also very expensive if you were to consider buying them as part of a paid search campaign.  As it turns out, these popular search terms are also rather vague and are less likely to send high quality traffic your way.  In general, Kim and Mauborgne would recommend against spending any time competing for those terms on the right. , Keyword Research strategy could open up a sea, if you will, of opportunity. Keywords farthest to the right represent those that are common or most obvious.  For a consulting company, examples might be by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne.  Essentially, the book encourages entrepreneurs to think differently about their business plans.  Instead of entering an existing industry and fighting for market share, create a brand new industry.  Instead of working hard to beat the competition, eliminate it.  Blue Ocean Keywords Topics: Red Ocean Keywords Keywords on the left, on the other hand, represent creative, outside-the-box keywords that differentiate a product or service from the masses.  Using the same fictional consulting company as above, examples of “blue ocean” keywords might be “small business IT consulting”, “small business network implementation” or “IT consulting company Cambridge, MA”.  These types of “long tail” terms are searched for less frequently, but they are more specific and therefore will bring more qualified traffic to your site.  There are also far fewer sharks in the water.  That “blue ocean” on the left – and even in the middle- is where the greatest opportunity lives and the list is endless.  What you see in the image above is just an illustration to make a point.  Blue ocean keywords are innumerable, all you need to do to take advantage of this opportunity it create the content.  Publishing often and writing relevant content will result in increased (and qualified) traffic form search engines.  And, if you are just getting started and you are considering jumpstarting your efforts with a paid search campaign, blue ocean keywords are usually far less expensive. article inspired by the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” Originally published Oct 27, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

3 Exercise Tactics to Whip Your Brand Message Into Shape

first_imgBillboards were the first form of advertising. And while we see them around, we have quickly learned that this immeasurable, outbound form of marketing isn’t very cost-effective. And although we have grown past our billboard days and established a solid online presence, we must never forget all that we learned from marketing in the past.Introducing the billboard exercise: the one and only workout that will put your brand into the shape it needs to send the right message. *Wink Wink*This all-in-one workout comes in a 3-part series, which will help you identify your core marketing message and improve your inbound marketing. Simply follow the instructions below and see the results right before your eyes!1. Select Your Workout BuddiesGetting the motivation to go to the gym often requires convincing your friends to join you for some moral support. Similarly, you’ll need to rally up the troops for this exercise. A brand’s messaging should never rest on the shoulders of one person. This message is supposed to represent your product or service, and to effectively communicate what that product or service is, all employees need to know exactly what the brand message is. (This doesn’t mean you need every person at your company involved, but there should be a core group that is working together to create this message). 2. Trim the FatThis is the most important part—the part where you lose weight! Many marketers jump ahead into the bigger picture. They have a beautiful storyline for advertising, a fantastic strategy for reaching out to blogs, and even know what social media platforms to promote their big ideas through. But before you can do any of that, you need to lose all the details and focus on what exactly the brand message is.A successful billboard, typically, is one that defines the brand message in 7 words or fewer. And that is exactly what you need to do with your brand. If you can narrow down what your entire brand message is in a mere 7 words (or fewer), than you have clearly defined exactly what your brand does in a short, elevator speech format. This statement should reflect what your brand can deliver, believes, stands for, and does. You can then use this message and expand upon it in your inbound marketing efforts.When writing a blog post, think, “Does this message reflect our billboard message?” When designing your Facebook business page, think, “Is the way we describe ourselves representative of our billboard message?” When creating a YouTube video, think, “Does this truly communicate our billboard message?”You can provide details, images, context, and various other things when messaging your brand online. The purpose of the billboard exercise is to have that lucid one-liner that is omnipresent in every message you send.3. Dress to ImpressNow that you have narrowed your brand message down, it’s time to show it off! In the brand world, the perfect outfit comes shaped in a call-to-action (CTA). A CTA is an image or text that tells your visitors what action they should take next on your site. The hope is that these CTAs will lead to landing pages where you can collect your visitors’ contact information in exchange for an offer they believe will benefit them. In other words, ebooks, webinars, whitepapers, and other free content giveaways.Use the statement you created earlier as the inspiration behind these CTAs. Dress up your brand message with images, narration, and data. Your brand will feel young, hip, and super popular.Now that you’ve completed this 3-part workout—never lose steam! It’s easy to bask in the results of that solid week when you went to the gym every day, and then let that excuse why you never went again after that. The message created from this billboard exercise should be remembered in every campaign you create. While your various campaigns may promote disparate parts of your business, all your marketing efforts need to be reflective of that key brand message. This message is what you and your company stands for, and you should never lose sight of that.Do you think the billboard exercise is important? How else can you implement it?  Inbound Marketing Originally published Oct 21, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics:last_img read more

Social Media Lead Nurturing Debuts, And Other Marketing Stories of the Week

first_img Topics: Inbound Marketing Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Jun 9, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Gather round, inbound marketers. I have a story for you.Actually, I have like 5 stories for you. But I didn’t write any of them — these are the best stories from around the interwebs this week that you may have missed. Which is totally understandable, because holy cow do people pump out a lot of content these days (that’s good though; keep doing that inbound marketers).Without further ado, here are the inbound marketing stories that tickled my fancy this week, and I think will help us all be better inbound marketers. And as always, share your own favorite industry stories with us in the comments!HootSuite Partners With HubSpot to Offer Social Media Lead NurturingI had to start with this one, because it is so cool! We all use social media to generate traffic and leads; we spend time and effort nurturing those leads to become customers; then we rely on closed-loop reporting to tell us how we did. Wouldn’t it be great if all those activities were more integrated though, and you could actually monitor your very own leads’ activity in social media so you can nurture them right then and there? You bet your buttons it would be — which is why we at HubSpot partnered with HootSuite to make that possible. Read more about the partnership in this blog post!LinkedIn’s Security Woes Pour Salt on Social Media’s Exposed Wounds From MarketingPilgrimBy now you probably know about LinkedIn’s security breach in which 65 million passwords were leaked. If not, well, go change your password and then come back.Everything good?Awesome. Frank Reed at MarketingPilgrim took the coverage a step further with an insightful assessment of the state of the social media security union. He believes security is at the crux of social media’s success … and you can read the post to learn why some current social media giants should invest in it lest they meet an eventual demise.Google Finally Takes a Clear Stance on Mobile SEO Practices From Search Engine LandWe’ve talked a lot about the importance of investing in mobile marketing; and I think most inbound marketers are already sold on how critical a strong organic search presence is. This article from Barry Schwartz helps us bridge the gap between the two with his report on Google’s official stance on mobile SEO. It’s not that the topic of mobile SEO hasn’t been covered before — but this time, it comes straight from the horse’s mouth.The 2012 Shopping Behavior Insights Study From Parago Marketers waffle back and forth on what really motivates shoppers to buy. If you have a great brand experience, will that trump cheaper prices from a competitor? Just how much of a role do coupons and discounts play in the buyer’s decision-making process? Their importance may be bigger than you think (they were bigger than I anticipated, at least). Take a look at that and other insights in Parago’s newly published study with data-backed insights on shoppers’ behaviors.Don’t Like Snake Oil? Stop Buying It From SEOmozTo be clear, SEOmoz isn’t selling snake oil. That header is a tad misleading. (On a side note, maybe we should start adding commas into these headings … well, next week is another week.)Now that that’s cleared up, Dr. Pete at SEOmoz comes to the defense of SEOs everywhere who have been given a bad name, usually by people who don’t really know what SEO is. Or, by all those grey- and black-hat people who call themselves legitimate SEOs (tsk, tsk). This post tells everyone who practices SEO how to stop feeding into the stereotype by being well-informed and learning how to work well with clients and bosses who are demanding results in the SERPs.What else happened in marketing this week that we should know about?Image credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchiveslast_img read more

Twitter Introduces ‘Negative Keyword Targeting,’ and Other Marketing Stories of the Week

first_img Originally published Dec 16, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Happy Sunday, marketers! Get ready! We’re about to take you on a little journey through today’s latest marketing updates, which will carry you into 2013 and beyond.Before getting started, let’s make sure you have your 2013 marketing goals in order. What are you hoping to achieve this coming year? Keep in mind, your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound (AKA, S.M.A.R.T.). If you need help getting started with your 2013 goals, download this planning template.Next, we’ll show you a few things to look out for in 2013 that may not have been a priority in 2012. As the marketing world shifts, so must you as a marketer.So what do you say, are you ready to see your future? Let’s get started:Twitter Introduces ‘Negative Keyword Targeting’ to Make Ads More Relevant, From MashableTwitter now allows advertisers to target negative keywords for Promoted Tweets. This means, if an advertiser wanted to buy the term “tomatoes,” but didn’t want to receive results about the film review aggregator and forum, Rotten Tomatoes, the advertiser could choose “rotten” as a negative keyword to avoid such results. This will help advertisers drill down on the exact target audience they’re hoping to reach.In addition to negative keywords, Twitter is now leveraging newsjacking on their advertising platform. Promoted Tweets can now automatically match up with trending topics. The example Mashable gave was, “if a celebrity’s pregnancy news starts trending, and you’re a retailer of baby clothing, your Promoted Tweet may be entered into the auction for that trending search.” Suddenly, advertising on Twitter is getting much more relevant, personal, and dynamic. If you’re interested in reading more about Twitter’s latest advertising updates, you can read the full story here.Facebook Makes Getting More Page Likes Easier For SMBs, From Marketing LandJust like Twitter, Facebook has been making some changes to its advertising tool too. There’s now a much simpler way for small businesses to generate more page Likes (yay!). The tool is aimed at businesses with fewer than 10,000 page Likes, since this is where the majority of SMBs tend to fall. Essentially what you see as a SMB inside the ad unit is a simpler flow, much like when you promote a post currently. As Marketing Land puts it, you’ll see “a subtle but key element of the pre-populated UI is the estimated number of Likes that advertisers will get in exchange for their budgets.” Basically, the more you spend, the more Likes you get. This new ad update applies to both PC and mobile versions of the Facebook newsfeed. Interested in learning more about this new update for SMBs? Read the full story here.How to Run a Last-Minute Holiday Campaign Using PPCThe holidays are approaching so quickly! What’s a marketer to do? Consumers are searching left and right for last minute deals online, but SEO is an investment over time, which means you won’t see results immediately. I assure you, there is a solution. To add a little spice to the SERPs and earn some quick wins for your marketing team, try pay-per-click (PPC) ads. You’ll rank, users will click, and everyone will be happy. PPC will also help you with your organic search terms in the long-run because you can then identify which keywords were searched for most by the people who clicked on your ads. That sounds like another big win if you ask me! To learn exactly how to run a PPC campaign to give your company a boost this holiday season, you can read the full article here.Email, Social, and Mobile Are Marketers’ 2013 Budget Priorities, From MarketingProfsWhat are your marketing priorities for 2013? In which programs do you plan to increase your spend? According to MarketingProfs, “55.5% of marketing executives say they plan to increase spending on email campaigns in 2013, 51.8% plan to boost spend on social media, and 42.8% plan to up their spend on mobile marketing.” Trailing not far behind is SEO/PPC at 39.8 percent, and lower down on the list includes advertising, tradeshows, and direct mail. So what does this mean for marketers? Well, essentially, Inbound for the win! If you’re already leveraging inbound marketing, you’re way ahead of the game — congratulations! If you’re not already leveraging inbound marketing, you might want to get started. Let’s call it your marketing resolution for 2013. To see what other marketers are planning for 2013, check out the full story here.35 Free Pre-Designed Email TemplatesIt’s obvious that marketers are finding great value from email marketing, especially based on the 2013 budget projections above. Another piece we’ll be seeing more frequently in 2013 is visual content. So what happens when you combine the two? You get 35 free pre-designed email templates to help you craft emails that nail both form and function. These email templates can be installed right into your current HubSpot account, through a free trial of HubSpot’s email tool, or you can use the raw HTML code in your current email service provider (ESP). Of course design is important, but not many marketing teams can hire a designer to beautify every single email that gets sent. That’s where pre-designed templates come in. If you’re interested in downloading the 35 free email templates mentioned above, you can access them right here.November ComScore Data Suggest PC Search Volume May Have Peaked, From Search Engine LandAs 2013 rolls around, it’s important to think about the future of marketing, and the agility of your own company to quickly pick up and adapt to new features, functions, or best practices. One of the functions you might really want to keep an eye on is SEO. As mobile/tablet usage continues to grow, SEO continues to change. Search Engine Land puts it bluntly, “Smartphone-based queries and lookups are cannibalizing PC search to some degree.” They are suggesting that PC search volume may have reached its peak. Do you agree with this discussion? If this is the case, what will you do in 2013 to adapt to the new rules of SEO? If you’re interested in seeing more data related to PC search queries, you can read the full story here.What do you expect to see from the world of marketing in 2013? Are there any marketing trends or predictions you’re keeping a close eye on once the new year rolls around? Share your thoughts in the comments below!Image credit: darinrmcclure Topics: Keyword Optimizationlast_img read more

Free Holiday Ecard Templates to Customize for Your Leads and Customers

first_imgA whitepaper from Cvent notes 80% of companies are convinced they provide a superior customer service. But only 8% of their customers agree.Ouch. Despite being on the business and marketing side, I see where people are coming from. For instance, the other day, I saw a commercial for one of the worst brands I’ve ever been a customer of … and it was all about customer happiness. It made me cringe.Then, the other day, my coworker had to call an Etsy shop to inquire about a shirt she ordered two weeks earlier and was, at the time, a day late for delivery. The shop’s customer team then explained on the day she was expecting her shirt (which was the core component of her Halloween costume) that the shirts were on a two-month backorder. It’s clear some companies aren’t aware of just how poor customer service can lead to reputational damage. But if you’re looking to ensure you delight your audience — from visitors, to leads, to customers — you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re going to provide you with a free PowerPoint template for creating ecards you can customize and share with your customers, fans, readers, and the like.Shall we start customizing?Note: Holiday ecards are not the solution to poor customer service. Messages like these will only enhance a customer experience already bubbling with value, help, and delight. A 3-Step Process for Creating Lovable Marketing EcardsOur free ecard template (which you can download by simply clicking on the image on this page, no form-fill required!) has a collection of six different ecard templates. For this blog post, we’ll customize number two from the collection (slide five). Step 1: Insert Custom MessageAdd a brief message here that relates to the audience and channel you’re sharing with. For example, I’m going to write this ecard for, well, you guys! The lovely readers and/or subscribers of this blog.By the way, we truly do appreciate the loyal readers of our blog. We try our best to serve you great content, but it’s your feedback, questions, and ideas that inspire us and help us improve what we do every day. Step 2: Insert Custom ImageWhile some of our templates allow you to add custom images, not all do! You can keep a simple background, pull from any one of our 200+ free holiday stock images, or simply add your own. Whatever you do, make it personalized and fun! In our example, we’ll use a festive photo of two members of our HubSpot blogging team.Step 3: Sign and SendOnce your ecard is customized, simply sign as your name or company. If you create a card as your company, consider adding your own logo! To save the card, go to File >> Save as Picture. Under “options” you can select to “Save Current Slide Only” to save only the ecard you customized.Ready to start customizing ecards and spreading the holiday joy now through New Years? Simply go to to get download your ecard templates with just the click of a button. Originally published Nov 1, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

7 Reasons Most Enterprise Websites Fall Short

first_img Extra Resources and Examples:Executives Guide to Enterprise Inbound MarketingFree Guide: An Introduction to Lead Generation 3) Lack of Fresh (and Valuable) ContentToo many enterprises have what I call a brochure-wear website. These are sites that are all pretty pictures and polished product content, but not much else.The thing is, people don’t arrive on your website to hear you talk about yourself. Instead, you need to offer content that is valuable to your audience, whether it be informative, educational, or entertaining. You need content that attracts them to your site and keeps them there.The best websites publish valuable content often, such as whitepapers, ebooks, videos, graphics, blog posts, and more. ShoreTel publishes more thought-leadership content in one quarter than I see most enterprises publish in a year. All of this regularly published content is what helped them increase search traffic 60% and leads more than 36%.In addition to their blog, ShoreTel offers a variety of ebooks:As well as an awesome video library: Topics: 6) Bad at Generating Leads and DemandWe recently learned that the number one most important objective for enterprise marketers this year is to increase new leads and prospects; the second most important objective is brand awareness.What many marketers might not realize is that both of these objectives are universally linked. The more demand you’re able to capture through your website, the more you’re able to improve brand perception and awareness organically.A website that isn’t generating leads or demand isn’t doing its job. The goal of a website isn’t just to sit there and look pretty — it should be an extension of your sales team to help boost new business.ShoreTel offers plenty of opportunities to capture leads by using calls-to-action to direct visitors to dedicated landing pages, which contain a form in order to capture a visitor’s contact information (thus, generating a “lead” or “prospect”). More importantly, ShoreTel Sky provides a lot of valuable marketing offers that help to generate even more leads that they can then nurture to become sales qualified.The number one issue I find with most enterprise websites is that they only offer bottom-of-the-funnel offers, such as a “Contact Sales” request. These are only good when a visitor is ready to buy. But we all know that the majority of a buyer’s purchasing decision happens before a sales rep even knows about it. A website should contain top-of-the-funnel content (ebooks, infographics, whitepapers, etc.), middle-of-the-funnel content (case studies, demos, etc.), and bottom-of-the-funnel content (product information, contact sales request, etc.) in order to capture demand at every stage of the funnel.You’ll notice a Contact Sales form rests at the bottom of most product pages, because it aligns with the visitor’s stage in the buying cycle.The website also has pop-up Modal Windows:Now, let’s say your business only sells to the Fortune 100, or to a niche audience, and the actual volume of potential traffic and leads are low. Turning your website into an inbound marketing machine will actually help you capture more earned media in the long run, and improve your branding initiatives. That extra boost in engagement and word-of-mouth exposes your brand to more people, and helps turn visitors into fans, and fans into customers. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Extra Resources and Examples:16 Companies from “Boring” Industries Creating Remarkable ContentThe Treasure Chest of Remarkable Content 4) Difficult to Find the Right InformationAccording to the Science of Website Redesign, 76% of consumers say the most important factor in a website’s design is “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.”Douglas Hughmanick of Paramount Farming Company says:“The most important part of a perfectly designed website is connecting the user with the information they came to find. If your design is easy to navigate and captures the interest of the user, you have likely made good design decisions. This doesn’t mean using the same standard layout every time, but thinking through the objective of your project and the audience you are targeting.”One reason I love ShoreTel Sky’s website is the super-simple, no fluff navigation. The site only features a handful of primary navigation options and a simple one-tier drop-down beneath each link, all simply organized and in plain English. Overall, it’s very effortless to navigate this website and find the information I’m searching for.Even if you have multiple divisions or complex product offerings, there are simple ways to organize your website that makes it easy for the visitor to navigate. In ShoreTel’s case, their VoIP product offering is on a separate website, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Microsoft is one example of a website with multiple products, most of them as a sub-domain under the primary domain. Extra Resources:53 Examples of Brillant Homepage DesignsHow to Create Beautiful Websites with HubSpot Extra Resources and Examples:Free Mobile Marketing KitHow to Use Facebook for Mobile Marketing Extra Resources:Free Content Creation KitPromote Your Content with a Free Trial of HubSpot 7) GobbledygookI love being in the marketing profession. But there’s one thing that embarrasses me as a marketer and that’s when I see marketing-speak, or what is often referred to as gobbledygook. Terms like “cutting-edge,” “innovative,” and “mission-critical” are littered across many enterprise websites.Gobbledygook exists in a lot of marketing materials and, ironically, it’s only good at reducing your marketability. “When you are talking to your existing and potential customers your job is to use the language that they use,” says David Meerman Scott. “Don’t speak using your own egotistical jargon.” The best websites, like ShoreTel, avoid the jargon and speak like a human instead of like a corporation. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself the primary buyer of a VoIP system. But the language used on ShoreTel’s website is so clearly explained, I fully understand what they sell, how their product works, and why I should buy it. Even if you sell complex products, it’s Marketing’s job to translate that complexity into simplified terms so that even your grandmother has a basic understanding of what you offer. What makes a website truly great? I mean so great that traffic is high and growing, bounce rates are low, and engagement and demand are off the charts.Is it a beautiful, award-winning design? A killer SEO strategy? Its interactive, cutting-edge user experience? Or is it simply tied to the amount of monetary investment? The bigger the budget, the better the website, right?For many enterprise companies, tens to hundreds to millions of dollars are poured into their website each year, on everything from design, content, media, SEO, promotion, and advertising, to hosting, infrastructure, and more. After all, a website is the Grand Central Station of a company’s digital universe. According to a 2013 study by Gartner, total spend on “digital marketing” by large companies is now over $500B annually [Tweet This Stat]. Other firms estimate we spend $130B just on our websites. That’s 19% more than we spend on digital advertising (Google Adwords, Facebook and Twitter ads, etc.).I wonder, though — is that money well-spent? Or could most of it be going — well — right down the toilet.As an enterprise marketer and everyday consumer, I’ve seen my fair share of corporate websites. Most of them are, sadly, uninspiring, uninteresting, or just outright forgettable.Then one day I stumbled upon a website of a HubSpot customer where I thought, “Wow, this is a great website.” And trust me, I don’t say that very often. But as a marketer, I tend to appreciate and recognize a job well done. Granted, no website is perfect. But this one does a lot of things right.The website I’m referring to is from (big reveal) ShoreTel Sky, seen below.What’s so great about this website, you ask? I’ll get to that in a minute.You see, despite more than $130B being invested in our websites each year, shockingly, 72% of websites graded through MarketingGrader receive a failing score of 59 or lower. What gives?Here are seven reasons why most enterprise websites fall short, and why ShoreTel is a great example of doing it right:1) No Clear Description or Calls-to-ActionMany websites fail to answer “Who I am,” “What I do,” and/or “What can you (the visitor) do here.”If you’re a well-known brand or company (i.e. Coca Cola) you can probably get away with not having to describe who you are and what you do; but the reality is, many enterprise businesses still need to answer these questions so that each visitor knows they are in the “right place.” Steven Krugg sums it up best in his best-selling book, Don’t Make Me Think. If visitors can’t identify what it is you do or where to go to find what they need within seconds, they won’t stick around long.ShoreTel does a fantastic job of this on their homepage — describing who they are and what they provide — and their sub-page descriptions are great, too.Additionally, ShoreTel’s site guides visitors to the next step with calls-to-action (CTAs) that clearly stand out with the right use of size, color, and verbiage. The CTAs are placed both above and below the fold, yet don’t interfere with the browsing experience.The site also has a “sticky” top bar that contains one primary CTA. Extra Resources:10-Step Checklist for Your Next Website RedesignFree Website & Marketing Assessment Extra Resources:How to Build Calls-to-Action with HubSpot Software101 Examples of Effective Calls-to-Action Originally published Mar 3, 2014 2:15:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 5) Not Mobile OptimizedBy the end of 2014, more people will access the web via mobile devices than PC. Still, 46% of mobile users have difficulty interacting with websites — so it makes sense that 62% of companies that designed a website specifically for mobile increase sales. So if you haven’t gone mobile yet like these guys, now’s the time. Website Design BONUS: Hear the secret behind ShoreTel Sky’s success.Learn how ShoreTel increased organic search traffic 60%, leads 36%, and qualified leads 110% here, or watch the short video below:I know ShoreTel isn’t the only great enterprise website out there — which other websites should we be looking at as examples? 2) Cluttered DesignAmerican statistician and professor Edward Tufte once said, “Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information.”Often, marketers tend to over-complicate their websites with too many elements or far too much information. After all, it’s more difficult to take away than it is to add. And that, dear marketers, is what causes clutter. In fact, some of the most effective websites are also the simplest.ShoreTel Sky is a refreshing balance of whitespace and content. You’ll notice almost every element serves a purpose.Here are a few ways this website achieves a clutter-free aesthetic:Simple, two-column layoutClear headlines, sub-headlines, and body copyGreat sentence and paragraph spacingLots of whitespaceOnly four primary colors and great contrastGreat use of icons and graphicsEven we’ve been redesigning our site pages to focus on simpler design. See examples here and here.last_img read more