55% of Visitors Read Your Articles For 15 Seconds or Less: Why We Should Focus on Attention Not Clicks

Millions of blog posts are published every day.

A small percentage gain traction and attract readers.

And among those readers, 55% will read the blog post for 15 seconds or less.

(If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with this one!)

The internet is a daily battle for attention. Everywhere you turn, people are trying to share the latest marketing hacks with many of the same points echoed repeatedly.

I’m guilty of it myself, and I completely understand why many of us write articles that are a little similar and repetitive. It’s because they work. You could argue that content is becoming less art and more science. There are formulas to it – if you find the best keywords and write the correct content, you can build a high-traffic blog (that’s almost a guarantee).

But is traffic the goal of content? Or can there be some new and unusual ways of measuring content success? I have some ideas I’d love to share.


Do the surface metrics really matter?

Why pageviews and sessions might be the wrong numbers to chase

Often (and, I’m guilty of this too) you’ll hear someone talk about the success of their content by saying something like: “10,000 people read my post” or “60,000 people saw my video on Facebook.”

But I’ve started to wonder if this is really an accurate measure of successful content?

Even if someone clicks on your article, the likelihood of them taking it all in is very slim. The internet has changed many of our habits. But one thing that hasn’t changed in nearly 20 years is the way we consume content online. Most of us still skim and rarely read a full post.

Many publishers have now started to focus on “attention metrics” alongside more traditional measurements like pageviews. Medium’s Ev Williams explains their stance on which numbers are meaningful:

We pay more attention to time spent reading than number of visitors at Medium because, in a world of infinite content – where there are a million shiny attention-grabbing objects a touch away and notifications coming in constantly – it’s meaningful when someone is actually spending time.

Maybe we need to stop focusing on how we can hack and grow the number of views our content gets. And instead, focus on how we can make each reader care about what we’re saying.

I’d argue that you don’t build a successful blog by accumulating a huge number of page views. Rather, you build a successful blog by creating something of value.

The only way content will drive results for any business is if it provides value to someone else. It’s not necessarily about how many people you reach; it’s how many you connect with. Because when people connect with us, they remember us, come back for more, trust what we have to say, and may eventually buy from us.

When you’re creating great content, you don’t need to live or die by your analytics. Maybe we should let go of our desire to write for everyone in order to skyrocket our pageviews, and instead hone in on sharing what’s unusual, valuable, and unique?


How to measure the value of your content

3 under-used metrics to tell you just how valuable your content is

Value is quite subjective and can be hard to measure. In this section, I’d love to share a few ways we’re starting to measure the value of our content here at Buffer.

1. Run an NPS survey

A Net Promoter Score (NPS) is commonly used to measure loyalty between a brand and a consumer. It can also be a great way to measure the value that your blog is delivering to readers.

You calculate NPS by asking a simple question: How likely is it that you would recommend our blog to a friend or colleague? (Using a 0-10 scale to answer.)

Respondents to the question are then grouped as follows:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

Subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter).

This handy graphic from the Net Promoter Network highlights the formula:


By running an NPS survey on your blog you can begin to understand how many of your readers truly value the content you’re creating and whether they would be happy to share it with their networks.

How to run an NPS Survey

There are plenty of great tools out there to help you run an NPS Survey on your blog and I’d love to share a few below:

You can also create your own survey using a tool like Typeform and distribute it to your readers. One thing that feels important to be mindful of is ensuring you reach all kinds of readers with your survey. For example, sending it only to your email subscribers could slightly skew results as they’re likely to already be your most engaged readers.

2. Pay attention to the comments

There has been a lot of debate about the state of blog comments. With the rise of social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, readers have a multitude of ways to engage with your content:

  • They can share a link to your post on Twitter, Facebook (or any network of their choice)
  • They can interact with a post where you’ve shared a link back to the blog (favoriting a tweet, sending a reply, liking on Facebook)
  • They can retweet your tweet sharing the post or share your Facebook post
  • And much, much more…

With all these options and ways to interact with content, you could argue that a blog comment is losing its relevancy – or on the contrary, you could see it that the value of a blog comment is rising.

Knowing that people can share and comment on your post anywhere, the fact they’re taking the time to respond directly within the post itself could be perceived as the highest form of engagement.

For us, comments are an increasingly important metric and one we’re focused on measuring. In Q2 2016, we’ve had a focus on increasing the average comments on each blog post by 100% from Q1 and here’s how we’re getting on:


Comments feel like a great measure of the value your content creates. If someone takes the time to spark a discussion on reply to us through a comment then we feel the post must have been useful to them in some way or sparked some curiosity.  A great example is our recent social media study post. This one generated over 70 comments with readers sharing their thoughts on the study and also how our findings compare to their own.

3. Monitor mentions and shares

Whenever I publish a post on the Buffer blog, I’ll get a few mentions on Twitter or LinkedIn when people share it. As a result of this, I’ve started to build a slight intuition around how much value each post is generating based on shares and mentions.

When a post really delivers value and goes above and beyond reader expectations, I’ll notice a distinct spike in the number of shares it receives and the number of mentions we receive both via the @buffer accounts and my own personal social media accounts.

It’s super easy to keep tabs on how many times your content has been shared. Sharing plugins like SumoMe and Social Warfare can provide share counts on your posts and PostReach (full disclosure: this is a tool a few friends and I have built) and Buzzsumo can pull in data about who is sharing each of your posts on Twitter. I also like to pay extra close attention to my mentions on Twitter after a new post goes live so I can gauge how it’s doing and see what people are saying.

A quick tip: Promise value in your headline

Headlines are amazingly important to the success of a piece of content. Before we publish a post, we spend a bit of time focusing on how we can craft a headline that gives the content the best chance of being seen. Amazing content behind a weak headline probably won’t get seen.

Sometimes we’ll create between 20-30 headlines for each post and choose the one that feels best and other times we’ll have a quick chat and riff on how we can make the headline stand out. Here are some extracts from a recent conversation between Leo and I:


The original headline we had was:

53 Graphic Design Terms and Definitions for Non-Designers

And the title we decided on when we hit publish is:

Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer: 53 Design Terms and Tips to Level-Up

This post has generated plenty of shares so far and 18 comments (at the time of writing). By focusing on the headline, we were able to promise value: 53 Design Terms and Tips to Level-Up. And also spark a discussion about the role of a marketer: Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer. Without the time spent tweaking this headline, I’m not sure we would have had such success with this post.


What makes an idea worth writing about?

Every blog post begins as an idea, but what makes an idea stand out and how do you know which ideas to act on and publish?

Before choosing a post to write, I tend to ask myself three questions:

  1. Is this actionable?
  2. Who will amplify this?
  3. What makes it unique?

And I’d love to go into detail on each of the three questions below:

1. Is it actionable?

On the Buffer blog, we strive to deliver content that helps readers solve a problem or challenge they face in their every-day work environment. This means we like them to be able to read a post and directly action something they’ve learned from it.

We focus on making content actionable because we believe that if someone learns something from one of our posts they’re likely to remember us and even share the post with their network as a New York Times study found that content that is practically useful gets shared more than any other content:


2. Who will amplify it? 

When creating content, it’s important to hone in on your audience and think about who you’re writing for. One way I like to frame this is to ask myself “who will amplify this post?” If I can’t answer this question then I won’t write the post. Normally, this question forces me to focus on a specific area of marketing or a specific role.

(h/t to Rand Fishkin for this one)

3. What makes it unique?

We’re surrounded by content nowadays and if you want to stand out, you need to craft content that’s unique.

What makes a piece of content unique can vary from post to post. Sometimes it can be timing that makes a post unique, for example, when we published our post on Twitter Polls it was launched shorty after Polls were publicly announced and was one of the first guides on how to use the feature.

Other ways to make your content unique include:

  • Sharing your unique perspective: One of the best ways to make a piece of content unique is to create something that only you can by adding in your own perspective and point of view. As Jory McKay explains on the Crew blog: “Everything has been said before, but it’s never been said by you.” 
  • Going deeper on a topic that anyone else: There might be a ton of posts out there about Facebook Ads, for example, but you can create a unique post on this subject by going more in-depth than anyone else has.


Over to you

I believe we can create more value if we pay closer attention to depth than breadth. It’s not so much how many people click on our content, it’s how many people pay attention to our content. It’s how many people we can make an impression on and connect with that really matters.

Measuring the success of blog content is an interesting topic and I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Do you feel we put too much focus on the metrics like page views and sessions? How do you measure the quality and value provided by a blog post? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 


When will responsive websites respond to user context?

Terms like “mobile first” and “responsive web design” sound dynamic and user-centric, but the reality is most mobile-first responsive websites are simply reformatting ubiquitous content to suit different devices.

  • Goal of web (or app) advertising: right message, right person, right place, right time.
  • Goal of website (or app) content: whoever, wherever, whatever, whenever… eh… same content.

Is that unfair? A gross generalization?

OK, a lot of web advertising is still woefully untargeted or inaccurately targeted, but sometimes it can be freakily accurate.

Ad targeting relies on the processing of real-time information from a variety of data sources – let’s call these “signals” or “cues” – about the mobile user and their behavior, in order to determine:

  • Who they are.
  • Where they are.
  • What they are doing.
  • What they like.
  • What they want.

What makes this more stunning, is the amazing speeds at which adtech (advertising technology) works.

Between the user clicking/tapping the link and the page rendering with the ad, the system has to analyze the signals and show the most appropriate ad, without causing a noticeable delay to the speed that the page loads.

With programmatic advertising, in the same timeframe of nanoseconds (or at least microseconds), the advertising space is actually bought and sold in an online auction.

Meanwhile on the website where these targeted ads are being served, the content remains largely the same, regardless of the user, their context and their intention. Similarly the content on the website where these dynamic ads are sending people, if they tap/click on them, remain largely the same, regardless of the user, their context and their intention.

This is senseless.

If targeted ads deliver better conversions than untargeted ads, then surely being shown more personalized, contextually relevant content, offers and services on the websites people elect to visit must also deliver better user experience (UX) and more conversions?

As Mike Phillips, commercial director, McLaren Applied Technologies recently said (in an entirely different context) at London Technology Week:

It’s not about big data, it is about using small data within the context of the person.

Mobile first or mobile only?

Announcing the retailer’s new website on June 2, 2016, Jason Goldberger, Target’s chief digital officer, said (in a corporate statement):

People rely more than ever on their phones for everything in life, from interactions with friends to scheduling to shopping.

We’ve talked for years about being a mobile-first retailer. This move takes us from mobile first to mobile only.


What does this actually mean for Target.com, according to the before and after picture (Geographic redirects, prevent overseas people viewing the site, see below), the result is Target’s desktop and mobile site are now much the same, give or take some reformatting for different screen sizes.

The web design style is more mobile-friendly more images, less words, and far less clutter. And it means visitors can more easily shift between screens, even mid-shop.

But is this sort of homogeneity a good thing? Yes… and no. Yes people want a seamless cross-platform experience, but do they want a generic experience across all platforms?

Being mobile first or mobile only isn’t just about screen size, page load times, tap zones, click-to-call and so on (though that is all very important) it should also be about context.

Cross platform homogeneity forgets two massive thing:

  • The requirements of the desktop and mobile user are often different
  • The requirements of the same mobile user (more importantly) vary depending on whether they are at home, at work, commuting, on route to the location, on site, in a rival’s location and so on.

And that’s just the start of it. Now consider:

  • How context varies by time of day, day of week, time of year.
  • What about the trigger that causes the visit to the site e.g. something on TV, snapping QR code in a print ad, tapping through from an email, social media etc.?

This isn’t just about retail, it applies to numerous sectors: restaurants, events (music, sports etc.), airlines/airports, films/cinema, transport, financial services and so on. Use cases vary when you are at home, nearby or onsite and when the “thing” is: in the future, soon, now or past.

Contextual relevance: the untapped opportunity

Ronan Cremin, CTO, DeviceAtlas (a device detection tool, from Afilias Technologies):

In my experience very few sites do anything meaningful with mobile contextual information. There are a couple of exceptions e.g. Yelp and Google, but for the most part sites do almost nothing with it.

Apart from the really obvious one (location) there are other possibilities like detecting if user is literally on the move or not (accelerometer), is the battery low etc. etc.

One important point about all of these contextual cues is to use them as hints rather hard deciding factors because the cost of getting things wrong based on an incorrect assumption is high.

It’s really dangerous to make assumptions about what a user wants so I think that the best thing to do is make prioritization decisions over ordering of features rather than adding/removing features entirely.

Mobile signals

Mobile users give off a considerable amount of signals/cues – data from the device use, digital behavior – which, when visible to the web destination, collectively allows you to make an educated guess about who they are; where they are and what they are doing; and what they want. I.e. identity, context and intention.

These signals include:

  • Profile data – information that has been volunteered e.g. delivery address.
  • Profile data – data that has been collected through behavior on previous visits e.g. pages viewed, shared.
  • Device used.
  • Geolocation – if shared.
  • Mobile network.
  • WIFI network – e.g. home, office, on-site.
  • Motion and direction – walking, commuting.
  • Time of day – e.g. lunch time, following a TV ad.
  • Search terms used if arriving from a web search.
  • Referral site (or app) – where did they arrive from today (and previous visits).
  • QR codes scanned (particularly if unique to a product or place).
  • Interaction with web ads (what, where, when).
  • Click though from email newsletter.
  • Click though from social media post.

Contextual relevance today: basics

Where relevant, a website, should deliver an experience based on the user:

  1. Device – i.e. fits the screen, appropriate page size, appropriate features e.g. use of camera, click-to-call. But always with the option to revert to a different version (e.g. desktop).
  2. Country – e.g. appropriate currency, language, terminology (e.g. postcode v zip code), local phone numbers, office addresses, maps, observance of local rules and regulations. But with the option to revert. There is no excuse for forms that require scrolling through every country until the user reaches UK or USA.
  3. Intention – i.e. if a user clicks/taps on an ad, link, QR (quick response) code or performs a web search for a particular item or type of content, then ensure the content on the landing page is appropriate.
  4. Basic preferences – specified or inferred. Where one has been selected on a previous visit, default to the same local restaurant, store, station etc. – with option for “other”. Similarly log negative behavior – if a visitor has ignored or closed your download-our-app or subscribe to email message three times, move on, they’re not interested.
  5. Opt-in preferences – if a visitor has elected to share location, subscribed (or refused to subscribe) to email, accepted cookies; remember the next time they visit.

However geographical redirects don’t always deliver the optimum results. Accessing Target.com from the UK redirects to intl.target.com, which is not mobile friendly. From overseas PaneraBread.com delivers an “access denied” page (which is hardly a good message to potential business partners from overseas).


Contextual relevance today: more advanced

1. Location awareness

If users are prepared to share location, websites can make search results more relevant to where they are.

The search engines and the directories, such of Yelp in the US and Yell in the UK, are very acute to mobile users desire for local results – typified by the rapid growth (according to Google)  in popularity of “near me” searches (e.g. Pizza, plumber near me).

This local contextual search results is just as significant on the website of the retail, restaurant, cinema etc. chain. Customers don’t just the need to find the nearest location, but the nearest store where the desired product is available in the correct size and color; the nearest cinema with seats to see the film tonight; the nearest restaurant with a table for six at 8pm.

2. Recall of behavior (or preferences)

When a returning visitor is recognized, websites should personalize based on previous behavior.

If only male clothing (or e.g. sports items) were viewed on previous visits, retailers, such as ASOS, will default to the men’s (or sports) store.

Leading retailers will also allow customers to pick up where they left off with “save for later” or recall products left unpurchased in the shopping basket.

In the same way, restaurants should recall favorite meals or indications of vegetarianism; auto mechanics the make and model of the client’s car; sports and betting sites favorite teams and so on.

3. Time relevance

Time context manifests itself in several ways online. For example, Google local search results tell you when the store opens (not just the opening times).

Retailers will give you a countdown to place orders for next-day delivery. Events will count down until the tickets go on sale, announcements are made or the event commences.


Contextual relevance tomorrow

The epiphany of a personalized experience is a website that adapts fully to the user context, based on the signals outlined above. Let’s just focus on three contexts:

  • At home
  • Nearby
  • Onsite

For the same user, on the same device, the goals in these contexts can be quite different and this happens across many types of businesses.

  • Retail – at home: research/m-commerce at home; Nearby: find store/opening times/check product availability/reserve; in store: find products/check details/compare prices/pay/find product elsewhere.
  • Airline travel – at home: research/purchase ticket at home; on route: find airport/parking; at airport: check-in/navigate airport/ find shops/restaurant when.
  • Music festival – at home: research/purchase ticket/check info at home; on route: find way/traffic details/park/gain entry with ticket/ID on route; onsite: check schedule/navigate site/research bands/share.

And so on… restaurant, sports event, museum, hotel.

The imperative is to balance personalization with the danger of misunderstanding the context and the preference of the user.

While it is difficult to find any good examples of anything like this on the web, it is not so farfetched. Some companies have already started to experiment with contextually aware native apps.

According to a 2015 report by digital agency DMI a handful of US retailers – Walgreens, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Walmart and Target – now have apps that will switch to “Store mode” when on site, triggered by geo-technologies.

Store mode include functions that are irrelevant outside the store, for example in-store mapping and navigation.

Similarly, the BA App recognizes you’re in some airports and provides a tailored experience (thanks to Daniel Rosen, Global Director of Advertising at Telefónica for recommending this).

The app also sends alerts if you’ve not left enough time to make it to the gate.


  • Please notify Andy Favell with any examples of websites that use contextual relevancy in innovative ways.
  • The origin of the mobile marketing mantra “Right message, right person, right place, right time” is uncertain, but I first heard it used by Paul Berney, mCordis.
  • Disclaimer: Andy Favell has undertaken contractual work for both Afilias and mCordis, in the past.

Facebook announces four new mobile ad formats

Facebook the most mobile engagement of any platform, seeing more than 1 billion daily mobile users.

With that in mind, Facebook made four announcements at Cannes this week:

1. Creative Hub

With a simple interface and a guide to Facebook and Instagram ad formats, Creative Hub is designed to make it easy for users to sample different tools and features, and work together and experiment.

For instance, there’s a collaborative area for marketers to preview, evaluate and showcase their creative. There are also options to create and preview mocks on mobile, as well as create preview URLs to share with stakeholders.

Built with the guidance of several agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, McCann and Droga5, Creative Hub is currently testing and should be available to Facebook advertisers in the next few months.

2. Upgrading Canvas

We’re sensing a pattern with Facebook, which initially announced its Canvas ads, immersive mobile experiences that load 10 times faster than typical mobile sites, in Cannes last year.

The product was launched globally in February and since then, people in more than 180 countries have spent about 52.5 million minutes – otherwise known as a century – viewing Canvas.

New updates will make it easier for marketers to design, create, share and learn from these ads. Canvas will have a new feed unit designed to increase engagement, while marketers will have more detailed metrics, such as clicks-per-component and dwell time (the average is about 31 seconds).

The option to create Canvases for organic page posts has already rolled out.

3. Adding Audience Insights API

Audience Insights API will give advertisers better insights into the audience they’re serving, using aggregated and anonymous demographics, psychographics, topic data and reports from Facebook IQ. Currently in beta, the feature is testing with brands like Mondelez and Anheuser-Busch InBev, and will be widely available early next year.

Mondelez used Audience Insights for Cadbury’s “Taste Like Joy Feels” campaign, analyzing people’s feelings toward chocolate at various times throughout the day. Brand recall was improved by 40 percent, according to Cadbury.

 4. Improving slideshow ads

Another popular Facebook ad format is the slideshow, which allows businesses to create videos from static images. However, they load significantly faster than traditional videos, on account of using five times less data.

New features include the ability to create slideshow ads from mobile devices, audio and text overlay, and integration with Facebook’s Pages and Shutterstock photo libraries.

That focus on video isn’t to say photos aren’t doing well on Facebook. Instagram announced yesterday that its user base has doubled over the past two years.

The platform now has more than 500 million monthly active users around the world, 300 million of whom use the app on a daily basis.

This is an abbreviated post, as originally featured on our sister site ClickZ.

How to keep the ‘person’ in ‘personalization’ without being a creep

Some brands don’t target well enough, while others go way too far, creeping people out. With personalized marketing, striking a delicate balance is the key. 

Personalization is an important skill for any marketer to master, but it’s also quite a difficult one. There are just so many different ways it can go wrong.

If your ads don’t have any personalized components, people perceive them as not being relevant enough, making them that much more likely to use an ad blocker (provided they’ve heard of ad blockers).

But on the flip side, it is possible to go overboard with personalization. If people perceive your brand to be like Big Brother, they’ll be just as turned off.

As with many things, the answer is somewhere in the middle. If you’re looking to personalize your ads, the most important thing to remember is that the root of that word is “person.”

The pitfalls of getting too computerized

Jan Jensen, chief marketing officer (CMO) of Cxense, points out that as marketing gets more complicated, the sophistication of automation technology makes it easier for advertisers to get away from the person.

“In this day and age, where we have more moving pieces, it’s very complex. Being able to know the challenges, pain points, grievances and profiles of your audience is 20 times more important than it was five years ago,” says Jensen. “Depending on what people do, the data we have, their interest and intent around the content they consume and the profile we have on them, we can predict what they want next.”

A businessman is consulting a crystal ball to foretell the future.

As a result, things can get a bit too automated. Marketers often create a journey for customers, automate it, and move onto the next thing. But in the process, they’re assuming too much. There should be a balance.

For instance, artificial intelligence (AI) lacks the human emotions to realize it’s doing something insensitive. A robot would serve someone tons of ads for diet products, whereas a person could see how doing that constantly could hurt the customer’s feelings.

Jensen believes this extends to all the brands who have been using chatbots as customer service tools.

“I think chatbots have their place somewhere extremely straightforward, but human beings aren’t very straightforward,” says Jensen. “I think they need to be much more aware of who you are; it needs to know more than that I’m a male and my name is Jan.”

… as well as too creepy

On the flip side, tech companies like Amazon and Facebook know far more about us than our names and gender. They may even know us better than some of our loved ones; does your mom know what you Google? (Ew, she does? Gross.)

But you have to be careful about showing your cards. If you let people know just how much you know about them, more than being simply freaked out, they can hurt your ROI. Richard Sharp, chief technology officer at Yieldify, points to a concept called psychological reactance that will be familiar to anyone who’s raised – or been – a teenager.


“If people feel their behavioral freedom is being restricted or manipulated, they will explicitly react against that in order to restore their freedom,” explains Sharp. “A lot of research shows that when people perceive creepiness online, it results in this feeling of, ‘You’re trying to manipulate me and force me to take this cause of action,’ which causes people to react against the brand, which decreases purchase intent by 5 percent.”

The way around that, according to Sharp, is to be very upfront about the value proposition. If an email from Bloomingdale’s is highly personalized, people may be a bit taken aback. But if the email has information about a sale at the nearest Bloomingdale’s location, they may perceive it differently.

“If you trigger a really well-designed campaign at the point when someone is about to leave the site or stop browsing, it catches people’s eyes and draws them back to the site,” adds Sharp. “It converts really well without interrupting the customer journey or annoying people.”

In order to keep the person and personalization, Sharp recommends user-centric research.

“A lot of marketers like looking at numbers and click-through rates and conversions and cost-per-acquisitions, which is a view that takes the human out,” he says. “Get some qualitative data to back up this quantitative data so the human side doesn’t get lost behind a wall of numbers.”

Why are we so bad at social media customer service?

While social media marketing campaigns have always grabbed the lion’s share of the headlines, customer service is the area where the real battles for market dominance are being waged.

Providing good customer service is not just about differentiation, it is business-critical.

So… why is everyone so awful at it?

There are a lot of reasons customer service isn’t up to scratch. It’s a new discipline. In many cases it’s grown organically. A majority of businesses still file social under the marketing banner, rather than as a service department, which means that there are conflicting interests vying for channel space.

This means that the market is under-serviced in many cases. According to 2015 data, the majority of businesses using social media are only able to respond to two-thirds (66%) of the social media interactions they receive.

This issue is actually compounded in businesses where social customer service is part of the wider customer service function.

Channel expertise is at a premium, meaning there is often a lack of structure between the people running the Twitter account and the people on the phone. What should be a beautiful, frictionless experience for a customer becomes a hell of multiple calls, and explaining issues over and over again.

It’s worth remembering that by the time someone is complaining about your business online, it is probably because your other channels have already failed them. You are starting with a customer who is mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore.

No amount of brand-building is going to counteract that. And just so we’re clear on the impact, 40% of US consumers have taken their business to a competitor brand based purely on superior customer service.


How do we start providing good service through social?

It would be remiss of me not to mention that I’ve recently finished writing an enormous social media customer service best practice guide on just this subject, which you can access through ClickZ Intelligence, but just like customer service, it would also be bad of me not to at least try to solve the issue in this post.

The most forward thinking organisations have begun to address these issues by creating posts that are designed to completely own customer experience. Rather than separating touchpoints by channel, a Chief Experience Officer or Chief Customer Officer is primarily charged with making sure that the customer has a good time, all of the time.


On the face of it this seems straightforward (It’s not), and there is definitely a school of thought that says it is as much about mindset and culture as it is systems and processes. The realisation that every department is on the same P&L is, perhaps surprisingly, not a common one in business.

Different channels, different metrics

I mentioned channel expertise earlier. The ability to understand how interactions occur on different platforms is key to successful implantation, because it will fundamentally affect how you measure success.

In the case of email or telephone, it was historically common practice to base reporting on ‘number of closed cases’. This obviously does not always motivate the service representative to supply customers with the best answer to an issue. Merely the quickest.

This is again compounded by social, where it is not a linear conversation. A phone call may take ten minutes to complete. A contact through Twitter may be answered immediately, but the customer may not respond for several hours. Time-to-resolution is not a fair or useful metric here.

Also, while it is strategically possible to remove customer satisfaction from channels, it is not as easy to separate it from departments. If your marketing team is providing customer service, then you can bet they’ll want that value reflected in their monthly reports.

The fact that at least a third of social media questions go unanswered is also an issue bought on by a failure to apply considered metrics to social customer service. Marketing has often been guilty in the past of ‘everything, everywhere’ approaches to social. We have to be on Snapchat and Pinterest and Twitter and YouTube and…

Hold your horses.

Success in any form of social media is dictated by the quality of service you can provide. Whether that’s an interesting Facebook page or a raft of multimedia omnichannel responses. If you cannot resource for these channels, then the most valuable thing a business can do is work out which channel is most used by their customer base, and concentrate on responding on that channel.

As businesses become more complex, so too does customer service. Monitoring tools are extremely advanced, but if they do not have a native language speaker setting up initial Boolean search terms, then they will miss a huge number of interactions (If you’d like to see this in action, try typing ‘SEO’ into search.twitter.com and see how many returns you get from Korea that have nothing to do with Search Marketing).

Although these systems are still developing, many use tracking and logging processes designed for traditional CRM. Where ‘traditional’ CRM provides a customer persona based on their interactions with a business by phone, email, through a website or in person. Social CRM data includes every interaction that customer makes with any business, so can be far more valuable if collected and utilised properly, but it requires a more comprehensive tracking and response process.

There is no simple way to provide great customer service through social, but it is achievable, and perhaps more importantly, it has clear commercial value. Forrester found that 45% of users will abandon an online purchase if they can’t quickly find answers to their questions.

The trick is to find out where that customer is online and be ready to provide that information.

40 Core Philosophies From the Most Famous Marketers in History

I believe you can learn something from everyone-as long as you’re listening. We’re always building on the legacy and lessons of those who have come before us.

For marketers, this is quite a legacy indeed. Although the discipline of marketing only emerged in the 1900s, it builds on a foundation of sales, advertising, copywriting and relationship-building that is much older.

Some of its wisest teachings are hundreds of years old. Some of its big lessons happened only months ago. And for every brilliant marketer and thinker mentioned here, there are likely 10 more I haven’t thought of. (Would love to hear your picks in the comments!)

Nonetheless, I hope there’s some wisdom for the ages below. I loved learning about each personality and philosophy, and hope you will too. Here are 40 essential lessons from some of the most famous marketers in history.

1. ‘A brand is a contract’

simon clift

Who: Simon Clift

What: The former Chief Marketing Officer of Unilever likes to say “a brand is the contract between a company and consumers.” The consumer has choices, and can simply choose to enter a contract with another brand if they find a company “in breach” of the contract. Are you holding up your end of the bargain with consumers?

2. ‘Always be closing’

glengarry glen ross

Who: Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross

What: This line became famous from Glengarry Glen Ross but is a also well known sales mantra expressing that everything you say and do should ideally be done with only one goal in mind: closing the deal.A more modern, less ruthless take for today’s world? The customer is always listening and evaluating. Even if you’re not consciously selling, everything you do is part of your marketing.

3. ‘Appeal to the reader’s self-interest’

John Caples

Who: John Caples

What: One of the most famous copywriters of all time, Caples hit on a winning formula early with this ad:


The ad works because it doesn’t sell piano lessons, it sells self-esteem. (And who doesn’t want that?) Caples would repeat this formula again and again, each time appealing to a reader’s deepest self-interest. How can you go deeper in your marketing to know your customers’ self-interest motivation?

4. ‘Become interested’

Dale Carnegie

Who: Dale Carnegie

What: We are pretty big Dale Carnegie fans at Buffer, and his advice to truly be interested in others is no small part of why.  One of his famous quotes on the topic: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

5. ‘Break the internet’


Who: The Kardashians

What: Media pundits thought Kim Kardashian would break the internet when she bared all for Paper magazine, but the Kardashians’ real power move is to make sure they’re offering a multi-platform experience-much more than you see on social media, including custom emoji and a branded content portal.  “I see what we do on social media as the appetizer,” Khloe Kardashian told the New York Times. “Not everything we do can be captured in an Instagram shot.”

6. ‘Cash from chaos’

malcolm mclaren

Who: Malcolm McLaren

What: The man who largely initiated the punk movement, managing the infamous Sex Pistols, made “cash from chaos” his motto. He bore it out in stunts like getting arrested outside the Houses of Parliament, spreading rumors about the band and intentionally canceling gigs. What can we learn from this bad behavior? Today more than ever, controversy gets people talking (case in point: Kanye West). Hey, no publicity is bad publicity, right?

7. Details matter

walt disney

Who: Walt Disney

What: At Walt Disney’s Disneyland, every detail is thought through-to the point that the Disney team has planted “hidden Mickeys” throughout the park, which dedicated fans spend decades discovering and cataloging. When you pay attention to every detail of an experience, you can make fans for life.


8. ‘Eat your own dog food’

paul maritz

Who: Paul Maritz of Microsoft

What: This colorful colloquialism describes the idea that a company should be the biggest user and proponent its own products or services. The first recorded usage was in 1988, when Microsoft executive Paul Maritz e-mailed a colleague, “We are going to have to eat our own dogfood and test the product ourselves.” Are you your product’s biggest fan?

9. Educate your audience

john deere

Who: John Deere

What: John Deere may be best known for farm equipment, but he also has another distinction: He may very well have created content marketing. In 1895, he launched the magazine The Furrow, providing information to farmers on how to become more profitable. The magazine is still in circulation today, reaching 1.5 million readers in 40 countries in 12 different languages. Helping your audience grow and improve is always in fashion.

10. Find a star slogan

mary frances

Who: Mary Frances Gerety

What: Charged with kickstarting the sales of diamonds following the Great Depression, copywriter Mary Frances Gerety came up with the timeless gem “A diamond is forever” in the middle of the night. The slogan has since been used in every De Beers ad and in 1999 was named the slogan of the 20th century by Advertising Age. Today, more than 80% of women in the U.S. receive diamond rings when they get engaged. Think her campaign was effective?

11. Get people talking

conrad gessner

Who: Conrad Gessner

What: This botanist “invented” word of mouth marketing in 1559 with his passion for tulips. To familiarize Europeans with the then-foreign flower, he penned an easy-to-repeat poem that eventually spurred “Tulipmania”-some bulbs sold for what would be several million dollars today. What can you do to get people talking and create more demand?

12. ‘Give them quality’


Who: Milton Hershey

What: The founder of Hershey’s had a simple marketing philosophy: As long as consumers saw the high quality of Hershey’s’ chocolate, the product would practically sell itself. He’s know to have said: “Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising in the world.”

13. Harness your haters


Who: Beyoncé

What: When the world gives you lemons, just turn to Beyoncé to figure out how to turn them into lemonade. After getting negative feedback for her 2016 Super Bowl performance, including boycott calls, Queen Bey hatched a canny plan to turn the furor into a boon: She sold her own “Boycott Beyoncé” T-shirts on tour.


14. Headlines are everything

helen gurley brown

Who: Helen Gurley Brown

What: In 1965, Hearst hired Helen Gurley Brown to take over a flagging magazine called Cosmopolitan. Her revamp was heavy on sensational headline and earned millions of devoted readers, kickstarting the sexual revolution in the process. Today you can still get plenty of tips on writing great headlines right from the magazine racks.

15. Influencers make the brand

estee lauder

Who: Estee Lauder

What: The co-founder of Estée Lauder Companies, Lauder was the only woman on Time magazine’s 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century. Her marketing genius? Lauder gave her famous friends and acquaintances small samples of her products for their handbags; she wanted her brand in the hands of people who were known for having the best.

16. Issue a challenge

ernest shackleton

Who: Ernest Shackleton

What: Although its veracity isn’t certain, it’s still one of the most famous ads of all time. Explorer Ernest Shackleton supposedly sought to recruit men for a new expedition with this newspaper ad:

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

Whether or not it’s true, can we all agree it’s awesome? Don’t you wonder how you’d fare on this trip? To me, this taps the same impulse as modern-day hidden bars and speakeasies. We like a challenge, and tend to share it with others when it creates social currency for us.

17. ‘The job is not the work’

seth godin

Who: Seth Godin

What: Marketers get pulled in a lot of directions throughout the course of a day-and a career. When this happens, maybe this philosophy from Seth Godin might help. In Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, he defines the difference between the job and the work:

“The job is what you do when you are told what to do….Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. I call the process of doing your art ‘the work.’ It’s possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that’s how you become a linchpin….The job is not the work.”

When you’re doing the job, remember to do the work, too. You’re the only one who can.

18. ‘Listeners will end up the smartest’

yi and bernoff

Who: Charlene Yi and Josh Bernoff

What: In an ever-changing media world, how do you keep up and stay relevant? The answer Yi and Bernoff proposed in their book Groundswell is a simple one: Keep learning, keep listening.  “We’re all learning here,” they write; “the best listeners will end up the smartest.”

19. ‘Make the customer the hero of your story’

Ann Handley

Who: Ann Handley

What: Everyone wants to be a hero. That’s the central idea of marketer Ann Handley’s contribution to our list, “make the customer the hero of your story.” Her suggestions to do this including content curation, user-generated content and using social media to tell bigger stories.

20. ‘Markets are conversations’

cluetrain manifesto

Who: The Cluetrain Manifesto authors Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger

What: In 2001, social media barely existed. But The Cluetrain Manifesto predicted a future of connectivity that would change the face of business, media, and culture.

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter-and getting smarter faster than most companies.”

What we learned then is still relevant today: We want a conversation, not a one-way ad barrage. Meet your audience where they are and get real with them.

21. Market what people want

creflo dollar

Who: Creflo Dollar

What: You don’t have to believe in televangelist Creflo Dollar’s controversial prosperity gospel (I don’t) to learn from the astounding growth of his World Changers Church International, which started with 8 people in an elementary school and now has a reported 30,000 members. If you ask me, the not-so-secret to his success is selling something lots of people want: to be wealthy without the guilt. Lesson? Before you start marketing, be sure your product is what people want.

22. ‘The medium is the message’

Marshall McLuhan

Who: Marshall McLuhan

What: When you communicate with someone, what’s more important: what’s actually said, or the method in which it’s communicated? McLuhan’s famous argument is that the medium is the message-that the two are so inextricably combined as to be one and the same. Now social media has proved him more prescient than ever. The reason we know when something is a Tweet vs. a Snap and understand the importance of choosing the right medium for each message? That’s McLuhan.

23. ‘Most ideas are a bit scary’

Lee Clow

Who: Lee Clow

What: The healthy fear of hitting the ‘publish’ button is something that comes up a lot on the blog. Feeling uncomfortable is often a sign you’re on to something big, as legendary advertiser and art director Lee Clow puts so beautifully: “Most ideas are a bit scary, and if an idea isn’t scary, it’s not an idea at all.”

24. Name your audience

Mel Martin

Who: Mel Martin

What: Hey, you! Yes, you right there. Media these days is fast-paced and confusing. Does your audience know you’re talking to them, specifically? If not, borrow a trick from copywriter Mel Martin and name them right in your message. Martin wrote headlines like “For golfers who are almost (but not quite) satisfied with their game – and can’t figure out what they’re doing wrong” and the above similar variation (hey, that means it must have worked, right?)

25. ‘Never stop testing’

david ogilvy

Who: David Ogilvy

What: Considered “The Father of Advertising,” Ogilvy was among the first to perfect the split test for marketing, where two versions of an ad were published at the same time with a unique way for consumers to respond so the winning ad could be identified. One of his most famous quotes: “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.”

26. ‘On fleek’

peaches monroee

Who: Peaches Monroee

What: Never heard of Peaches Monroee? You might know the phrase she coined that’s been appropriated by everyone from Ariana Grande to Anderson Cooper to IHOP: “on fleek.” She tossed off the catchphrase in a June 2014 Vine video that now has more than 40 million loops (views, for non-Viners). “I gave the world a word,” she has said. “I can’t explain the feeling.” These days, it’s not high-paid marketing execs who are creating the taglines of the future. It’s more often young people, particularly people of color. Embrace it and learn from it, but don’t misappropriate it.

27. Power up your network

Mary kay Ash

Who: Mary Kay Ash

What: Mary Kay cosmetics became a pioneer of multi-level marketing by tapping a great underutilized workforce: housewives. Her marketing innovations included expensive gifts (the famous pink Cadillacs) that extended the brand, offering incentives for recruiting others, and an emphasis on direct sales through friends and family. Learn from her: Your network can be a powerful tool.

28. Quarter-inch holes (vs. quarter-inch drill bits)

Theodore Levitt

Who: Theodore Levitt

What: Why do people buy quarter-inch drill bits? It might not be the reason you think. In The Marketing Imagination,  Theodore Levitt says:

“They don’t want quarter-inch bits. They want quarter-inch holes.”

The quarter-inch bit is only a means to an end. Marketing the drill bit based on its features (it fits into your drill) wouldn’t be as successful in this case as marketing it based on the benefits (you can create a quarter-inch hole). In other words, a feature is what your product does; a benefit is what the customer can do with your product.

29. Reinvent your medium


Who: Lin-Manuel Miranda

What: Chances are, you didn’t think much about Broadway until this year. What changed? Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smashHamilton.” It’s the world’s first (as far as I know) hip-hop musical, it’s about one of the least exciting people imaginable, and it’s cast of mostly people of color. It’s truly something new, and audiences can’t get enough of it. Lesson for marketers? Whatever medium you’re working in, stretch it, bend it in new directions and reinvent it. Then you can own it.

30. Sex sells

helen lansdowne

Who: Helen Lansdowne

What: Could this be the first example of “sex sells” marketing in the Western world?

skin you love to touch

In 1911, Helen Lansdowne changed the face of advertising forever by being the first to harness sex appeal in an ad. Her Woodbury soap “Skin You Love to Touch” campaign focused not on the product but its effects-“the attention of dashing young gentlemen.” Then as now, a hint of the sensual both scandalized and worked-the campaign increased Woodbury sales by 1,000 percent.

31. Surprise and delight

Taylor Swift

Who: Taylor Swift

What: There seems to be no consensus as to who came up with the phrase “surprise and delight,” so I’m going to give the title to the modern-day master, Taylor Swift. “Surprise and delight” experiences focus on randomly selecting an individual or group to receive a unique gift or experience, and Swift is the queen. She’s popped up at bridal showers and weddings, and her Swiftmas gift-giving is legendary. “Fans are my favorite thing in the world,”she has said. Her fans seem to feel the same about her. Do yours feel that way about you?

32. Tell a (real) story

P. T. Barnum

Who: P.T. Barnum

What: Hmm, this is a tough one. Creator of Barnum & Bailey P.T. Barnum is undoubtedly one of history’s greatest marketers, but what can the man of infinite hoaxes teach us today? Maybe that storytelling is powerful, but also that the story has to be authentic and real. Barnum proudly played a bit fast and loose with this, but then Twitter hadn’t quite been invented yet to fact check him.

33. ‘Think different’

Steve Jobs

Who: Steve Jobs

What: Why is Steve Jobs an enduring icon? Because he didn’t just sell us a phone; he sold us an experience. A way to live. An ideal to aspire to. Through him we learned to think different and to sell the dream as well as the product.

34. ‘Tune your message to them’

nancy duarte

Who: Nancy Duarte

What: The writer, speaker, and CEO best known for working with Al Gore on An Inconvenient Truth has a simple message for would-be presenters: It’s not about you. As she writes in Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences“The audience does not need to tune themselves to you-you need to tune your message to them. Skilled presenting requires you to understand their hearts and minds and create a message to resonate with what’s already there.”

35. Unique selling proposition

 rosser reeves

Who: Rosser Reeves

What: A “unique selling proposition “is the idea that successful advertising campaigns focus on a single, unique element that can nudge customers to switch brands. And advertising exec Rosser Reeves was the one to usher it into our vocabulary. Reeves’ ad is for Anacin, a headache medicine, was considered grating and annoying by many viewers but it also tripled the product’s sales. Another great Reeves example? M&M’s “melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”

36. Vulnerability connects

Tavi Gevinson

Who: Tavi Gevinson

What: How does a teenage girl create a media empire before she’s out of high school? For blogger, author and Rookie editor-in-chief Gevinson, the secret is relating deeply through vulnerability. “I think that when you make yourself vulnerable, the thing that you do next is better….The thing that bonds you to a new friend isn’t that you went to a fun party; it’s ’cause you had a really weird, sad conversation.” Can you dig deeper and be more human with your community?

37. Write for someone specific

Tim Ferriss

Who: Tim Ferriss

What: How did Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week become such a huge hit (besides promising copious leisure time)? He focuses on trust, the kind that comes only when you know your audience deeply. It may feel like you have to write for everyone, but Ferriss says the opposite is true. “Write for two of your closest friends who have this problem that you have now solved for yourself.”


38. ‘Write something worth reading or do something worth writing’

Ben Franklin

Who: Benjamin Franklin

What: Instructions for creating a legacy, whether you’re a human or a brand: Listen to Benjamin Franklin. His quote is the end-all on the topic of getting attention: “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.”

39. 10x content

Rand Fishkin

Who: Rand Fishkin

What: Moz’s Rand Fishkin coined the term “10x content,” which is content that stands out in our busy streams because it’s just 10x times better than anything else out there on that topic.

40. ‘Your culture is your brand’

tony hsieh

Who: Tony Hsieh

What: “What’s a company to do if you can’t just buy your way into building the brand you want?,” the Zappos founder wrote in a pivotal blog post. “What’s the best way to build a brand for the long term? In a word: culture. We believe that your company’s culture and your company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin…Your culture is your brand.”

Over to you!

Whose wisdom is missing here? I can’t wait to hear the lessons you’ve picked up from famous and up-and-coming marketers alike! Share your picks in the comments to add to our list.

Why Every Marketer in 2016 Needs to Be a (Part-Time) Designer: 53 Design Terms and Tips to Level-Up

When I first started out in marketing, I didn’t quite predict that I’d be a part-time designer, too.

Now, in 2016, visual content is more than 40X more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content and it’s become obvious and even necessary for all of us marketers to have some at least basic design knowledge.

Thankfully, we live in a wonderful world where anyone can make the jump from novice to intermediate and create well-designed images for social media. There are tools like Pablo and Canva that make this design work achievable (and beautiful).

However, tools aside, if you want to take your marketing skills to the next level, improving your understanding of design is essential.

Have you ever wondered what might be possible with just a little extra design knowledge in your back pocket?

Turns out, to take your social media images from good to great, is a reasonable leap. And it all starts with a good foundation and understanding of some key design terms and principles.

If you’re looking to take your social media images to the next level and become a better marketer, check out this design dictionary for a crash course on how to better understand design.

53 design terms explained for marketers

1. Golden ratio

The golden ratio occurs with two objects which, once you divide the larger by the smaller, result in the number 1.6180 (or thereabouts). The most famous golden ratio is the golden rectangle, which can be split into a perfect square and a rectangle the same aspect ratio as the original rectangle. You might see this in image composition or website design and grid layout.



By using the golden ratio you can ensure your images are eye-catching and beautifully formatted. Here’s an example of the golden ratio being used to divide space between the body of a website and the sidebar:


Below is another example where the key elements of the design all fit within a different section of the Golden Ratio:


2. Rule of thirds

You can apply the rule of thirds by imagining a 3×3 grid lying on top of your image and then aligning the subject of the image with the guide lines and their intersection points (e.g. placing the horizon on the top or bottom line) or allowing the elements of the picture to easily flow from section to section.



Once you have your grid in place, the spots where the lines intersect each other indicate the prime focal areas within your design:



Typography, text, and font terms

3. Typography

“Ty­pog­ra­phy is the vi­sual com­po­nent of the writ­ten word,” Practical Typography beautifully explainsAll visually displayed text, whether on paper, screen or billboard, involves typography.

4. Serif

A serif is the little extra stroke or curves, at the ends of letters.

5. Sans-serif

“Sans” literally means “without”, and a sans serif font does not include any extra stroke at the ends of the letters.


Though there are no set rules for when to use a serif or sans serif font, it’s suggested that sans serif fonts should be used for online body text and serif fonts for headlines and print.

6. Script

Script typefaces are fonts or type based upon historical or modern handwriting styles and are more fluid than traditional typefaces.

A couple of example script fonts include:

Alex Brush;


And, Grand Hotel:


7. Slab serif

Slab serif fonts feature geometric feel than traditional serif fonts and feature serifs that square and larger, bolder.

An excellent example of a slab serif font is Museo Slab:


8. Monospace

A monospaced font, (also known as a fixed-pitch, fixed-width, or non-proportional font) is a font whose letters and characters each occupies the same amount of horizontal space.

9. Hierarchy

Typographic hierarchy is an essential part of any design or layout and even if you’re not familiar with the term, you’ll be sure to have seen hierarchy in action on any website, newspaper or magazine.

tuts+ explain:

Typographic hierarchy is a system for organizing type that establishes an order of importance within the data, allowing the reader to easily find what they are looking for and navigate the content. It helps guide the reader’s eye to where a section begins and ends, whilst enabling the user to isolate certain information based on the consistent use of style throughout a body of text.

Here’s an example to illustrate the importance of hierarchy:

hierarchy 2

10. Kerning

Kerning refers to the space between two specific letters (or other characters: numbers, punctuation, etc.) and the process of adjusting that space improves legibility.


11. Leading

Leading determines how text is spaced vertically in lines. Leading is used when content that has multiple lines of readable text and ensures the distance from the bottom of the words above to the top of the words below has appropriate spacing to make them legible.


12. Tracking

Tracking is similar to kerning in that it refers to the spacing between letters or characters. However, instead of focusing on the spacing between individual letters (kerning), tracking measures space between groups of letters.

13. X-height

The x-height refers to the distance between the baseline and the mean line of lower-case letters in a typeface.


14. Ascender / Descender

The ascender is the portion of a lowercase letter that extends above the mean line of a font (the x-height). On the other hand, the descender is the portion of a letter that extends below the baseline of a font.


15. Orphans / Widows

Widows and Orphans are lines of text that appear at the beginning or end of a paragraph, which are left alone at the top or bottom of a line. There is some debate about the exact definitions of these terms but as a rule of thumb:

  • Orphan: A is a single word or very short line, that appears at the end of a paragraph or the beginning of a column or a page, separated from the rest of the text.
  • Widow: A paragraph-ending line that falls at the beginning of the following page or column, thus separated from the rest of the text. Or the beginning of a new paragraph that starts at the bottom of a column or page.


16. Lorum Ipsum

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text used by the design industry. It’s used as placeholder text and has a more-or-less average distribution of letters, making it look like readable English, as opposed to using ‘Add content here, add content here’ within designs when the copy isn’t quite ready.



17. RGB

RGB color is a model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. RGB tends to be used for on-screen purposes.


18. Hex

A hex is a six-digit number used in HTML, CSS, and design software applications to represent colors.


19. Palette

A color palette comprises of colors that can be utilized for any illustration or design work that represents your brand. The chosen colors should be designed to work harmoniously with each other.


20. Monochrome

Monochrome is used to describe design or photographs in one color or different shades of the single color.


21. Analogous

Analogous color schemes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They usually match well and create serene and comfortable designs.


22. Complementary

Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel are considered to be complementary colors (example: red and green).


23. Triadic

A triadic color scheme uses colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel.


24. CMYK

CMYK is a color model that is used for print purposes. CMYK colors begin as white and then get darker as more colors are combined.

CMYK colors


25. Pantone

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a standardized color reproduction system. Every hue is given a number, making it easy for people to reference and reproduce the same colors.


26. Warm colors

Warm colors are made with red, orange yellow and various combinations of these colors. They give a friendly, happy, cozy vibe.

27. Cool colors

Cool colors such as blue, green and light purple have the ability to calm and soothe.


28. Color theory

Color theories create a logical structure for color. There are three basic categories of color theory: The color wheel, color harmony, and the context of how colors are used. Understanding how to use different colors to convey meaning is an important part of both design and marketing. Here’s a quick guide on how colors affect our brain:

Do you want to learn more about color theory? Check out: Why Facebook Is Blue? The Science of Colors in Marketing.

29. Gradient

A gradient is a gradual change of colors (such as green turning gradually into blue) or a color fading into transparency. There are two common types of gradients: radial and linear.

30. Opacity

Opacity enables us to make an element of a design transparent. The lower the opacity, the more transparent an element is. For example, 100% opacity means an object is solid.


31. Hue

Essentially, a hue is a way to describe a color. And a hue can be any color on the color wheel. For example, red, blue and yellow are all hues.

32. Tint

A tint is a variety of a color. Craftsy explains that Tints are created when you add white to any hue on the color wheel. This lightens and desaturates the hue, making it less intense.


Branding and logos

33. Logotype

A logotype is the name of a company that is designed in a visually unique way for use by that company. Most of the time when people refer to a logo, they’re referring to the brand’s logotype.

34. Logomark / Brandmark

A logo mark generally does not contain the name of the company and instead more abstractly represents that company using a symbol or mark.


35. Icon

Icons are images used to represent an action or an object. For example, a pen icon could represent someone writing (action) or simply a pen (object). When using, icons think carefully about what you want to signify and how clear it is to your audience.

36. Style guide

A style guide is a set of standards for the design of anything related to your brand, whether it’s a website landing page, business card or printed document. The reason to have a style guide is to ensure complete uniformity in style and formatting wherever the brand is used to ensure no dilution of that brand.

As an example, you can check out our Buffer style guide here.

37. Grid

A grid is constructed from evenly divided columns and rows. The point of a grid is to help designers arrange elements in a consistent way. Here’s an example of the grid we use at Buffer:


Using the Buffer design grid, a page can be divided into fifths, fourths, thirds and halves – and any combination of these. Each grid row must contain parts that add up to one whole. For example, one-fourth + one-half + one-fourth.


Design Terms and Techniques

38. Scale

In design, scale refers to the size of an object in relationship to another object. Two elements of the same size can be seen as being equal. Whereas elements with a clear variation in size tend to be seen as different.

When putting together a design, think about how you can utilize scale to help you illustrate the meaning behind your image. Take the below example; the larger circle appears to be more influential and important that the smaller one. You could even say the smaller circle may be a little timid or shy.


39. Aspect ratio

An aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between the width and height of a rectangle (a rectangle is used because the vast majority of screens are wider than they are tall). An aspect ratio is defined via a mathematical ratio, with two numbers separated by a colon.

  • width:height
  • This means that 4 inches wide by 3 inches high would be a ratio of 4:3

40. Texture

A texture is defined as the surface characteristics of your image. In design, you can utilize textures such as cloth and brickwork to mirror the visual appearance of the actual texture.

41. Knolling

Knolling is the act of arranging different objects so that they are at 90-degreeee angles from each other, then photographing them from above. This technique creates a very symmetrical look that feels pleasing to the eye. Images that feature knolling tend to be set against a contrasting solid background.



42. White space

Whitespace, often known as negative space, refers to the area of a design left blank. It’s the space between graphic elements, images, copy, and anything else on the page. Even though it’s known as white space, it can be any color.

An excellent example of white space is the Google homepage. It’s almost filled with whitespace to encourage users to focus on the search bar:


43. Resolution

The resolution of an image determines the quality. As a rule of thumb, the higher the resolution, the higher the quality. A high-resolution image will be clear and crisp whereas a low-resolution image will feel a little pixelated and blurry.


44. Contrast

Contrast occurs when two elements on a page are different. For example, it could be different colors between the text and the background color or dark vs. light colors.


One of the main reasons to use contrast in your designs is to grab attention. For example, the infamous iPod silhouette adverts were so memorable because there is a huge contrast between the white iPod and earphones and the bright background and silhouette.


45. Saturation

Saturation refers to the intensity or purity of a color. The more saturated a color is, the more vivid or brighter it appears. Whereas desaturated colors, appear a little duller.


Highly saturated images tend to stand out and draw attention, therefore giving the appearance of carrying more weight than less saturated images. If you’re adding a text layer over a picture and would like it to stand out, using a less saturated background can be a great way to do so.

46. Blur

Blur makes images more unclear or less distinct. Using a blur can be a great way to make text stand out when overlaid onto an image. When you put text over an image, the two elements can form a somewhat competitive relationship (example on the left below), a little blur can make the text stand out more and appear much more readable (on the right below).


47. Crop

When you crop an image, you’re cutting away and discarding the unnecessary portions of the image. Cropping allows you to change the emphasis or direction of an image.


48. Pixel

A pixel is a minuscule area of a screen (the word comes from “picture element”). Pixels are the smallest basic unit of programmable color on a computer and images are made up of many individual pixels.

49. Skeumorphism

Skeuomorphism is when a digital element is designed to look like a replica of the physical work. For example, think iPhone’s calculator or Apple’s newsstand where the bookshelf and magazines look and feel like they do in real life.


50. Flat

Flat design is a minimalistic approach that focuses on simplicity and usability (almost the opposite of Skeuomorphism). It tends to feature plenty of open space, crisp edges, bright colors and two-dimensional illustrations.



52. Raster

Raster images are made up of a set grid of pixels. This means when you change the size of stretch a raster image it can get a little blurry and lose some clarity.

53. Vector

Vector images a made up of points, lines, and curves. All of the shapes within a vector are calculated using a mathematical equation which means the image can scale in size without losing any quality. Unlike rasters, vectors won’t get blurry when scaled.


Over to you

I hope you found this dive into design terms and definitions helpful. It’s amazing how fast marketers can pick up tools like Canva and Pablo to create beautiful looking images.

I’m curious to hear if there are any other design terms you hear regularly and would like some clarification on? Feel free to share any questions or thoughts in the comments below.

Further reading:

EU referendum and brexit betting: who’s winning in organic search?

With the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU coming up this week, there has obviously been a lot of debate online. 

It has also become a major online gambling event, with the value of bets set to exceed the previous biggest political event, the 2012 US election, according to a recent press release from online betting exchange Betfair.

In fact, it has now exceeded that mark, with more than £43 million in bets matched on the exchange. There’s also plenty of betting on the financial markets too, but we’ll stick to the bookmakers for this article.

betfair brexit

While the polls predict a close outcome, the bookies are more certain that a brexit vote is unlikely. Odds of 4/1 for a leave vote seem very generous when some opinion polls put the two sides neck and neck.


One interesting aspect with a relatively unique betting event like this is the opportunity for new customer acquisition. It’s likely to attract customers who wouldn’t normally bet, and should be seen as an opportunity for the betting sites.

So which betting sites are ranking for brexit betting?

Here’s the data from Google Trends, showing the spike in search interest for terms around EU referendum betting.

We can see the spike in interest, which obviously presents an opportunity for traffic and customer acquisition for the betting sites.

Unlike seasonal SEO events like Christmas or major sports championships, this referendum is a one-off (hopefully) so strategy has to be geared towards this single event.

brexit betting

In the case of the EU referendum, the betting sites have had around a year to prepare for the event, though we can see that interest in betting has only really taken in the last two to three months.

According to PI Datametics, the term ‘EU referendum odds’ was searched on average 1,000 times in November 2015 and is now being searched 40,500 times a month.

We don’t have the data for June yet, but I think it’s safe to assume that we’ll be in six figures, as the spike on the chart above suggests.

Top organic search performers

The top performers (from the gambling sector) are:

  1. Odds Checker
  2. Paddy Power
  3. Ladbrokes


All three sites rank highly for the term, and consistently too. Just compare their performance to that of their rivals:


This points to a lack of a coherent strategy around EU referendum betting. For example, Betfair has has 10 separate pages performing for this term, hindering its ability to hit a high search position.

Again, so much of this is about effective internal linking and creation of single landing pages for high value and high traffic search terms.

Clearly, with £43m matched on the exchange alone, Betfair has done well, but could it have done better with the right SEO strategy?

A missed PPC opportunity?

One final side point here – have the betting sites missed a PPC opportunity around referendum betting?

There is just one site buying ads today on the term. Given the spike we can see from Google Trends, and the high cost of customer acquisition for online betting, it seems strange that more sites aren’t using PPC to gain instant visibility here.

ppc eu

Just because they’re sharing, it doesn’t mean they’re reading

If you’re visiting this article before or after sharing it on a social channel, then may I offer you a warm welcome to an increasingly exclusive club. For you are just one of the 41% of people who not only shared the article but actually read it too. 

In news that will embolden some, depress others and possibly surprise nobody, a new study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute reveals that 59% of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked.

As the Washington Post put it this weekend in one of their best headlines ever – 6 in 10 of you will share this link without reading it, a new, depressing study says.

Back in 2014, it was estimated that social media referral was responsible for 30% of total visits to websites. However according to the research published by HAL (yes, a group of computer scientists publish their research under the name HAL, what of it? Why are you terrified?) and using a dataset amounting to 2.8 million shares, 75 billion potential views and 9.6 million actual clicks to 59,088 unique resources, most people just retweet news without ever reading it.

According to the study’s co-author, Arnaud Legout, “This is typical of modern information consumption. People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper.”

These blind retweeters are also, worryingly, shaping the news agenda, by sharing what is already ‘viral’ and adding to social platform’s ‘trend-watching algorithms’ without first stopping and reading what they’re actually doing.

Or are our favourite news sources so trustworthy that we can put blind faith in anything they publish? To be honest, Facebook will probably just ignore much of the above anyway.

For proof of this, you need not look any further than May 26, when a certain social media manager (*cough*) tweeted the following headline but accidentally forgot to include the link to the article.

And yet the tweet enjoyed 25 retweets and 28 likes. That’s one of our most popular tweets, and yet not one person noticed the lack of link. Maybe that’s the key for us… black and white photo + non sequitur headline – link = engagement gold.

A peek behind the wizard’s curtain

To add our own two pence (or cents depending on where you are right now) to this debate, let’s open up our own analytics and let you see what influence SEW’s social channel on traffic to the site.

Here are our own Twitter analytics for May 2016…

twitter analytics May

A ‘robust’ 2.5 million impressions from only 465 tweets is pretty good. But what about actual click-through rate (CTR)?

Let’s take a look at our top tweet in May…

twitter analytics top tweet

The impressions gained from its 29 retweets resulted in 18,202 impressions and ultimately 40 link clicks. This means it had a CTR of 0.2% which is about our average. Sadly, this is a little lower than the industry average for a following of our size.

According to Hubspot the average Twitter CTR is 1.64%, and the more followers you have, the fewer clicks you’ll receive on your tweets.

  • Users with 50 – 1,000 followers had a 6.16% CTR.
  • Users with 1,000 – 5,000 followers had a 1.45% CTR.
  • Users with 5,000 – 10,000 followers had a 0.55% CTR.
  • Users with 10,000+ followers had a 0.45% CTR.

And according to this Quora forum on Twitter CTR, links shared by Mashable’s Twitter account, despite its 7+ million followers, results in a CTR of just 0.11%.

If that’s not enough to get you completely down heartened, let’s open up Google Analytics and see how much traffic social drove to SEW in May.

social analytics

Over the course of 31 days in May, only 4% of our total traffic came from social. The majority of our traffic comes from organic search (as you would hope and expect from a site with ‘search engine’ in the title), with direct, email and referral all coming in above social.

To break it down further by social channel, it’s 47% from Twitter, 24% from Facebook, 11% from LinkedIn and, uh, 0.3% from Pinterest.

However if we look at Twitter, the most popular social channel we operate, it drove more than 16,000 sessions to the site, 40% of which are from unique users.

So despite a low CTR, these are fairly considerable numbers, and certainly the research presented by HAL should not be used as an excuse to ‘switch off’ your social activity. In fact if anything, this is a good excuse for us to take a good look at our Twitter strategy and see how we can improve things.

Remembering to add links to tweets would be a good start.

Finally, you should also be aware that, if your boss is asking for ways to measure your content’s engagement, a simple ‘number of retweets’ isn’t good enough.

Update: I just tweeted this article. It IMMEDIATELY got 3 retweets within 30 seconds.

Should publishers and content marketers be playing the platform game?

The early 2000s saw the advent of platforms on the web: somewhere that bloggers and publishers could host their content without having to worry about the back end, while still maintaining control over their own outlets and what they posted.

More than a decade later, and many of the social media platforms of today are starting to suspiciously resemble blogging platforms, becoming a place for users to publish content instead of just share links and brief updates. At the same time, huge companies like Facebook and Google have developed native publishing platforms aimed at providing a superior user experience for an increasingly mobile audience.

We have a wider choice of platforms to publish to than ever before, and each is promising the fastest, shiniest interfaces that will put our content directly in front of huge audiences we can’t reach through other means.

But how can we manage to spread ourselves between so many different outlets, and what are the drawbacks of these platforms? Veteran digital journalist and university lecturer Adam Tinworth gave a presentation at CMA’s most recent Digital Breakfast on ‘playing the platform game’ which looked at what this plethora of new tools – and gatekeepers – means for online content.

Social publishers and walled gardens

In 2015, we reached a watershed moment: in June, Facebook surpassed Google as the top referring site to publishers, according to Parse.ly. Clearly, we are now living in a very different internet age, in which social publishers dominate over search engines as a means of distribution and referral.

Tinworth remarked in a panel discussion later in the Digital Breakfast that social networks have taken over from search engines in the role of “finding something to read” online, leaving search engines to fill more of an “answer engine” role. This has huge ramifications for both SEO and social publishing, some of which are already being felt, and others which will make themselves known further down the line.

A graph by Parse.ly showing referral traffic for Google's various properties (including search engines and Google News) versus Facebook between April 2012 and October 2015. The Facebook line starts off much lower at around 10% of referred traffic, with Google between 30 and 40%. It climbs steadily upwards while Google declines slightly, briefly overtaking it in October 2014, before overtaking it for good in June 2015.

The other huge trend affecting the way that traffic reaches sites online is of course mobile. An Ofcom report from August 2015 declared that the UK is “now a smartphone society”, with 2/3 of Britons owning a smartphone and 33% seeing it as the most important device for going online, above laptops at 30%.

The trend towards mobile has affected the types of platforms springing up that we can publish to. Take Snapchat, the ultimate mobile-native social app, whose Discover publishing platform was just revamped to become much more visual, allowing users to more easily browse content at a glance.

Although Discover is only available to a select few publishers, many more brands and businesses use Snapchat for content marketing, and the redesign shows that Snapchat is serious about pushing further into the publishing space.

Two side-by-side screenshots showing the new, more visual, Snapchat Discover, with large picture thumbnails of Discover stories overlaid with text.The new, more eye-catching Snapchat Discover

Meanwhile, publishing platforms like Facebook Instant Articles and Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) have come about with the goal of providing users the best possible experience in mobile. They aim to load fast and look sleek, getting rid of the distracting artefacts which clutter the desktop web to deliver a streamlined product.

Instant Articles and AMP, while they are often mentioned in the same breath, take fundamentally different approaches to providing a better mobile experience. AMP is an open-source project aimed at reinventing the code on which the mobile web runs (from HTML to AMP-HTML), and can be used by anyone to build a faster mobile site. Instant Articles is more selective and restrictive, requiring publishers to have a Facebook page, and allowing them to begin publishing subject to having a sample of their content reviewed by Facebook.

But both companies ultimately have the same goal with their platforms, which is to keep users within the spaces they own, their walled gardens, for as long as possible. Readers who click on Sponsored links in Facebook Instant Articles find themselves redirected to other Instant Articles, still within Facebook; and Accelerated Mobile Pages allow you to swipe between news stories without leaving Google.

Other new publication platforms like Apple News have the same basic aim. Even Medium, which appears at first brush to just be another, more social-oriented take on the blogging platform, forces writers who publish with it to give up much of the editorial control they would normally enjoy over how they offer their work, in order to produce content (and revenue) for someone else’s branded platform.

As Tinworth put it in his presentation, “There’s a whole new set of gatekeepers between us and audiences.” But if you can connect with much bigger audiences than you would be able to reach without them, then it’s worth it, right?

The danger of sites as gatekeepers

As we’ve established, publication platforms like Facebook Instant Articles and Medium can provide excellent user experiences, but at the cost of giving over control of your content to the brand whose platform you use.

There’s another, more general, drawback to this proliferation of platforms, which is that suddenly publishers are having to publish to a whole range of different formats. Publishers who are serious about social media, said Tinworth, have known for some time that you need to insert certain metadata in order to do well on those sites, making sure that your social posts look clean and carry the right information.

Multi-platform publishing takes this to the next level, requiring publishers and content creators to cater to wildly different formats: the requirements for Facebook Instant Articles are different to AMP, which is different to Apple News, which is very different to Snapchat, and so on. But if you want to get engagement on these platforms, this is the game you have to play.

“It’s complicating what was a fairly simple and opening publishing format,” said Adam Tinworth.

The danger of putting these different companies (Google, Facebook, Apple) in front of our content as gatekeepers is that they start to call the shots and tell us exactly how we ought to publish.

So, away with platforms, then? Should we all stick doggedly to hosting all of our content on domains and websites that we have complete ownership and control over? Well, not necessarily. There’s still a lot to be gained from publishing to platforms, and ignoring them means missing out on a great deal of opportunities to connect with the audiences who use them.

What’s good about publishing to platforms?

As Tinworth pointed out, we can’t afford to ignore platforms: they’re incredibly valuable for finding audiences and getting our content out there. And there are other good things about publishing to them.

Platforms are rich experiences where people hang out online, and deliver good traffic and interaction. Posting content there can provide a huge visibility boost, especially if the platform features it in some way; and it reduces the need to drag people, by hook or by crook, over to your own website when they’d rather not go.

A presentation slide detailing the good aspects of publishing to platforms. The bullet points are as follows: Rich experiences where people hang out online; Deliver good traffic and interaction; Often favoured by the platforms; Reduce the need to drag people to your own site.

Mike Burgess, another speaker at the Digital Breakfast, also advised that you can have success by being early onto platforms even when they’re not that successful overall, like Apple News.

Of course, there’s also the bad, which I’ve given plenty of attention to in this article: publishing to multiple platforms means more APIs and feed formats to support, and that extra bit of distance between you and your readers. It’s harder to get access to meaningful analytics, which can be issued at the discretion of the platform, and we’re at the mercy of the platform in other ways – including if they decide to charge.

A presentation slide detailing the bad aspects of publishing to platforms. The bullet points are as follows: Lots of APIs and feed formats to support; Distancing relationship with readers; Analytics can be tricky; We're at the mercy of the platforms; And they do like charging...

Where does that leave publishers who want to get the greatest returns out of the platform game, however that might mean playing it? Ultimately, said Adam Tinworth, the trick is to play it strategically. It’s inevitable that publishers will have to play the platform game, and the key is finding the platforms that the audience you want to target are using.

Mike Burgess gave an excellent example of this in his own presentation when he talked about travel brands on Instagram. Instagram is home to an absolute wealth of travel-related content, with 353 million travel-related hashtags on the app.

People turn to Instagram in droves for inspiration on where to go for their travels, spending an average of 21 minutes per day perusing the app; and yet the travel industry has been the second-slowest (after financial services) at adopting and making use of Instagram.

Businesses can’t afford to be too high-minded about platforms and social publishing, for fear of missing out on golden opportunities like these. At the same time, it’s also worth being aware of the risks and drawbacks, and keeping an eye on them so that you know if they ever start to outweigh the benefits.