You Won’t Finish This Article

You Wont Finish This Article


The Best Time To Never Send Email

The biggest mistake with looking at “when” to send to your list is we think that’s our issue. We think we’re getting low open rates because we sent a newsletter at 11am EST on a Wednesday instead of 5am PST on a Thursday.

The best way to get your email opened is to write content worthy of being opened.

The Best Time To Never Send Email

‘Snow Fall’ and Storytelling in Higher Ed

In the six days following its launch, “Snow Fall” received more than 3.5 million pageviews and 2.9 million visitors—nearly a third of whom were new visitors to, according to a New York Times memo.

What made “Snow Fall” both so successful and so widely lauded? The feature marked a big step forward in the evolution of online storytelling. From the earliest stages of developing “Snow Fall,” writers, researchers, designers, developers and multimedia experts all worked together to craft a compelling narrative wreathed in a natural user experience.

So, another day, another online journalism innovation. What does it mean for us and our higher ed newsrooms? Our resources pale in comparison to the Times’—after all, “Snow Fall” took six months and nearly a dozen staffers to bring to life. What does this latest notch in the Gray Lady’s belt mean for higher ed?

‘Snow Fall’ and Storytelling in Higher Ed

Why thinking like a journalist can bring out the best content

A good story needs to be published as quickly as possible or risks losing its appeal.

The same rule applies for content marketing: it needs to be relevant and current, or the reader will move on to something else.

One of the easiest ways to come up with ideas is to take a look at current events and holidays. Christmas or Valentine’s Day coming up? Using these events and linking them with your business can be a unique way to connect with your customers.

The closer the better

Proximity is another crucial factor: if ten people are killed in a bus accident in the centre of your hometown, your local newspaper will undoubtedly consider it front page news. But if 30 people are killed in a bus accident in Tokmok in Kyrgyzstan, it will probably pass unnoticed. It’s essential to know who your audience is and what matters to them.

Why thinking like a journalist can bring out the best content

Why Every Content Marketer Should Have Newsroom Experience

Great stories don’t just happen. All great stories begin with a great idea.

Re. Typical Day in the Newsroom

An editor hands the reporter a simple assignment. The journalist’s job is to transform the topic into a juicy story with useful information and striking quotes. So, before any words are written, the journalist must brainstorm.

A journalist is trained to see a single idea from every possible angle.

Why Every Content Marketer Should Have Newsroom Experience

Big Red Dud

This is another re-read for me. The Big Red Fez: How to Make Any Web Site Better by Seth Godin is a short book with, by his own admission, some simplistic answers. Every page should have a banana. Ok? What’s a banana? It’s the thing the monkey can find that’s obvious and easy.

But the reality is, unless you have a product or service that’s targeted to only one audience, you really cannot do this. It would be great if we could build a university presence with only the prospective student in mind. The bananas would be easy. However, our web site has to achieve goals for several constituencies. We’re not Amazon selling books. Or Dyson selling vacuums.

I love Seth Godin, and I think he just needs to stay true to his own banana on this one. Stay with being remarkable in marketing and leave usability to the experts. Anyone can point out problems and break-downs in the system. You don’t have to be an expert to do this. The expert finds real solutions to these problems. I’m afraid Godin has only achieved the former.

Krug Thoughts

Lately, I’ve been working on some documentation for a broad set of users. I’m challenged to write snippets of content that they might actually read and find useful.

As I re-read Don’t Make Me Think, the title itself being the most important rule, I wonder if I’ve held to the standards of making text useful. He reminds us to fore go using marketing lingo and use common terms that won’t make the user ponder. We’re task-oriented. We look for the trigger words that will help us complete the task. Too often, marketing folks (like myself) want to invent words to be clever. All we do is frustrate task completion.

Krug says, “Faced with any sort of technology, very few people take the time to read instructions. Instead, we forge ahead and muddle through…” I did a little usability test this week and found that to be exactly true. The user will blow by text  that explains the very thing they need to know in an effort to find something intuitive he or she will automagically understand.

A few other nuggets to remember:

It’s not the number of clicks that count, but the amount of effort and thought required I’ve put in to make a choice.
“Happy talk must die.” Users don’t have time for useless words.

Be conventional. It’s ok, and it will bring a level of comfort and familiarity to your users.

What makes for good design is a lot like what makes for good writing– what is effective in a particular context for an audience, achieving a specific purpose.

Watch ordinary users– usability testing is critical.

“‘I don’t like the colors.’– what you can count on at least one user saying in every usability test.”