How To Make Your Blog Not Suck

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 5.23.23 PMMany people state that blogging is an art not a science but sometimes you can’t disagree with data. Everything that is specific to your company or organization requires a certain finesse to be unique but you cannot ignore the science behind your readers if you want it to be successful. Your blog posts are directed towards one audience so you must do your best to engage people of all different preferences and reading styles. Because blog posts are more commonly distributed through social media, it is just as important to understand social media tendencies as well as content curation.

Before I begin, I want to remind you how important your blog is to your company. As quoted by Hubspot, “46% of people read blogs more than once a day”. Although the type of blog will vary, it is important to remember that companies that blog have 97% more inbound links than those that do not blog. As a digital marketing nerd, that makes me feel sorry for companies that try to compete SEO wise without a blog or massive budget.

Visual engagement

According to Kiss Metrics, posting content with a photo or video results in a 84% higher click through rate than just word content alone. Post adjoining content that is memorable, surprising, informative, funny or in other words anything that derives emotion and you will see your click through rate vastly increase. Studies on Twitter show on average a tweet with a photo or video is 150% more likely to be retweeted than one without. Considering the way your brain works is identical in how it processes information across social media, it is wise to respect the data and improve your virality.

Know your Traffic

Knowing the traffic of your website and blog users helps you understand peak times to be submitting news articles, tweets and posts. Traffic levels will vary by the industry and site type but data wise for example, Facebook experiences 18% higher engagement levels on Thursdays and Fridays which falls in line with a high percentage of web based sites. Twitter also experiences similar effects with brands engagement raising 17% on weekends according to the research of Dan Zarrella of Hubspot. In other words, posting that extremely impressive news about your company can wait a day or two, it is in your best interest to be smart not too eager.

Know your Users

Simply posting content and hoping for high engagement and sharing is not going to work consistently if you are not taking an educated approach to it. Review the content you place on the web constantly. Any marketing specialist can tell you the styles, subjects or approach that lead to posts receiving the highest levels of attention. Learn what made those posts work well and plan for how to implement that going forward. Continually measure these results and reevaluate with new and existing hypothesis. (Can you guess yet which I believe is more true, science or art?)

Many companies make the mistake of constantly pushing their product via their blog hoping to attract buyers. Does anyone think this works? Always write blogs that provide value to your reader, otherwise they will click off easily and quickly. Always put yourself in the readers shoes as you create and distribute content to your user base.

Title Title Title

Anyone that ignores how much of an influence the title has in a post must learn from the best. Websites like UpWorthy, VancityBuzz, and have it down to a strict process on creating titles that attract readers with ease. Buzzfeed has been quoted before stating for every story they write, a small team helps create at least 150 titles before they narrow it down to 2. They then submit their post with 2 different links to perform an A/B test to ensure which one performs better. While many consider this far too much work, you cannot argue with the results they experience.

At the minimum good titles use power verbs and intrigue people with terms like “Did you know..”, “Are you this person…”, “how do you know he is the one…” and multiple other forms of a question that could pertain to anyone and is just enough intrigue to make you click the link. Despite the links being about trendy subjects, there is far more to their success than jumping on trending topics. They know exactly how to word every title to create extremely high engagement levels across the board. You must also try to keep titles between 40 and 70 characters for SEO purposes in engaging multiple words in a post but not too many to create a negative keyword effect.

Be Concise

The average web user judges content in under 8 seconds. Being concise and to the point helps retain readership from people who have clicked on your link. A study done by Bufferapp states that Facebook posts with 80 characters or less have 66% higher read through rates. Make a blog post with the direct information you want to convey and no filler and the read through rates will increase. People are busy enough as it is, do not increase your chances of readers bouncing before you have established your point or purpose.

Lastly, I encourage you to read other peoples blogs! It is easy for a blog to feel stale or monotonous when you are not inspired. I make a rule to myself that I will not try to write anything if I feel dull energy wise as it will quickly be conveyed in your posts. Reading other blogs gives you insights to and new angles to approach issues and subjects of interest.

PipelineDeals Is Coming To Southeast Asia

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 7.49.45 PMWe moved our sales CRM needs over to PipelineDeals a few months ago after we were introduced to the founder JP Werlin. We began using their platform to see how it compared to Highrise (which we were currently using) or Salesforce (which we were considering). We ended up moving to PipelineDeals as it is a smooth setup process, had all of the features we were looking for and was a cost effective option.

PayrollHero is a business to business software as a service platform focused on restaurants, retails and the BPO industry (outsourcing / office environments). We end up dealing with the CEO, COO, Head of HR, Head of Payroll, store managers and district managers as part of the sales process. PipelineDeals lets us manage these relationships, the potential deal amount, all of the correspondence plus much more.

Are you interested in checking out PipelineDeals for your business… signup here and use our referral code for 30 days free. Let us know what you think?
*Referral Code: PayrollHeroPipeline

As part of writing this post, I reached out to JP Werlin and asked him for 5 tips to get the most out of PipelineDeals, here is what he answered with:

Five tips to get the most out of PipelineDeals

1 – Use Page Tips

Page Tips are helpful hints that are available on every page in PipelineDeals. Click on the “?” icon at the top of the screen on any page in the app and click Page Tips to receive tips, support articles, and videos related to the page. This is a great way to learn about the features in PipelineDeals

2 – Save a Filter

It’s easy to filter and save lists in PipelineDeals to view custom reports of your data. To save a filter, click on the Advanced filter button on the Deals, People, or Companies tab and click to Save Filter. Saved filters are helpful for creating custom reports, contact or leads lists, and deal pipeline summaries. For more info, check out this helpful video.

3 – Download the iPhone or Android App

PipelineDeals has a dedicated iPhone and Android App that syncs seamlessly with your PipelineDeals account. These free mobile apps are great for accessing your data while you’re away from your laptop or desktop. Download these apps directly from the App Store or Google Play Store.

4 – Track Emails

PipelineDeals also makes it easy to track all of your communication in one place. With PipelineDeals email tracking features, you can track emails as activities using our simple BCC tracking feature. Add in the BCC field to any email and automatically track your emails as activities. Click this helpful article for more details.

5 – Create a Task Template

Task templates are a great way to automate custom workflows in the app. Use a task template to automate a series of todo’s like lead qualification, solutions development, or preparation for a presentation. With task templates, PipelineDeals makes it easy to develop custom workflows that will make your sales team more efficient.

Building Diplomatic Ties; Canadian Ambassador Edition

The Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines, Neil Reeder and his wife Irene joined some of the PayrollHero team for a lunch at the Manila Polo Club today. It was a great opportunity to meet the Ambassador, learn more about his role in the Philippines and how the Canadian government works to help Canadians around the world.
canadian ambassador to the philippines

(Left to Right – Stephen Jagger, Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines Neil Reeder, Irene Reeder, Aidan Sullivan and Sarah Jagger)

What We Are Reading At PayrollHero

Hirowallpaper1One of our core values at PayrollHero is incremental improvement (Kaizen) and part of that means constantly learning new things.  I asked some of our team what they are reading at this moment, here is what they said:

Stephen Jagger – Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross

Brandon Strong – Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords” by Perry Marshall and Bryan Todd

Tin Sanchez – Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Dane Natoli – The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Mylene Seyeux – The Devil Wears Prada’ by Lauren Weisberger (french version)

Bram Whillock – Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

What are you reading?

How do you Measure Success in Your Business?

Be Happy You Deserve It!This is one of the most valuable questions to ask not only yourself but every staff member you have at your company. You will be surprised at the results and you will see how people curtail their roles into their answers like almost biased but inevitable responses. Generic responses may seem the clear answer but breaking down your initial thoughts to the very basis of what your company is trying to achieve on a daily basis will show how you should be aligning your strategy.

Key words will pop up such as profit, growing clientele base, customer satisfaction, employee happiness, market share, the list goes on forever and at the end of the day they primarily revolve around money. You have to look past the paper though and analyze what is it that actually will take your business to being a leader. My answer is learning. As a start up or a lifelong veteran business, the key to being an expert in any category is how quickly you can learn every aspect that drives your business. Acquiring new customers is great and pretty much a requirement but looking at a number increase or decrease is meaningless. You must learn why new customers wanted to use your product or service and why several did not. The answer to this question will be what truly drives your growth. Learning through feedback channels what is working well at your company and what needs to be changed is a triumph. Any company can experience these triumphs everyday if you are taking the time to figure out better processes and solutions. The firms that don’t take the time to learn from their mistakes and the changing environment are the ones that will not exist next year simple as that. With this I challenge you to examine what successes can be unveiled that will contribute to your goals. What will you analyze about your industry and product that will truly give you a clearer approach to your strategy? What do you still need to figure out to be the best at what you do?

Restaurant Technology Meetup x2


The first Restaurant Technology Meetup was such a success that we decided to run two in Metro Manila this month so that we could spread out the locations and add a second topic.

November 12th 2013
Quezon City, Philippines
Register Now

November 20th 2013
Fort Bonifacio, Philippines
Register Now

These events are designed for restaurant owners and managers that are eager to learn more about technology in the restaurant space.  See you there!

Doing Things That Don’t Scale

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Kalibrr CEO Paul Rivera at the e27 Echelon Conference

When Paul Rivera, the CEO of Kalibrr was in Silicon Valley as part of Y Combinator he and I were chatting about how it was going.  One of the things he mentioned was that Paul Graham suggested that all of the startups do things that don’t scale. Since then, Paul Graham has written an essay on why he wants startups to “do things that don’t scale” and Jason Fried has recently followed it up with his own thoughts on his blog.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about how we have been doing things at PayrollHero. Many of the internal functions we have been completing have been manual out of choice, but some simply because we just did not have enough resources to automate them at this time – or better yet, we have our resources working on other higher priority tasks.

As with any startup, decisions must be made on what to do, what not to do, what to automate and what to do manually.

At PayrollHero, much of the business development and client happiness (read: customer service) departments tasks are completed manually.  We do this out of choice so that we can stay hyper focused on the customer’s needs, likes, dislikes, issues, questions, etc.

Business Development
For business development most of our leads come in through online marketing but we funnel all of those leads into a web form that drops the details into my email.  We do this for a few reasons;

– We wanted to make that we were paying close attention to every lead that came in.  I email back and forth with each of them to ensure that they are the right fit for PayrollHero.  As a startup, we end up saying no, more than we say yes. It is very hard to do, but we have found that focusing on a specific niche enables us to deliver a fantastic product for that tight niche.  This will slowly loosen up as we continue to expand the platform.

We do use some automation, leads are added to our Highrise and MailChimp accounts, there is also a quick auto-responder that is sent out from the Wufoo form that directs the lead to our YouTube page as well as answers a few commonly asked questions. That auto-responder ensures that the lead knows we have received the inquiry and provides them with some details of questions we know they will ask when we start emailing back and forth with them. (we know thanks to our one on one calls that we conduct)

– As we worked over the last year to understand the onboarding process of new clients we found that handling all leads that were coming in manually, was the best way to understand not only what they were looking for, but how they currently handled their time, attendance, scheduling and payroll, what their pain points were and what part of our offering caught their attention.

– For leads that are qualified, and interested in taking the next step we do a Skype or Google Hangout call to run through how the platform works.  We have recently begun using YouTube to showcase the walkthrough that we would normally do with the client. Sometimes both are needed but we are ready now to start documenting the individual features of the platform as we start to ramp up.  Our YouTube videos are also embed into our Zendesk knowledge-base so that leads/clients can not only read about how certain features work but watch as well.

Zendesk's Nick Franklin (Head of Sales SE Asia) and Michael Hansen (VP) at the PayrollHero offices for the Zendesk bootcamp in our "think tank"

Zendesk’s Nick Franklin (Head of Sales SE Asia) and Michael Hansen (VP) at the PayrollHero offices for the Zendesk bootcamp in our “think tank”

– We also do in-person bootcamps as well as online webinars to educate leads/clients on how PayrollHero works.  Webinars are much more scalable than bootcamps but both have been effective tools in growing our client base. We have been working closely with Zendesk’s head of Southeast Asia Business Development and done a few events with them across the region.

There is much more to the business development side of the business but these are some examples of how we handle things manually.  We will automate the systems we have in place in short order, but doing them manually from the start has provided us with much needed feedback and direction for where to take PayrollHero.

Client Happiness Team
For our client happiness team we onboard new clients manually in almost every way.  Our focus has been to understand what the process is with new clients and constantly tweaking it so that we can continually improve.

We use Asana to create tasks for all new clients that need to be onboarded and have a task template that gets added so we know what still needs to be done.  This task template includes items like adding employees (we do the heavy lifting to get the employees in), setting up, customizing for how the client handles things like earlies, lates, overtime, undertime, etc. As you can image, every client does things differently when it comes to the internal workings of their business. We work to understand their unique setup and tweak our platform so that it best suites them.

One of the best pieces of advice that we ever got was from Daniel Debow who said that no matter what, make the system as flexible as possible as no matter how similar some clients seem, they will still do things very differently from each other.  This initial feedback was why we built fully customizable system permissions, thresholds and much more.

But, just because we do many things manually now, does not mean that this is always the plan.  As we continue to grow we continue to automate certain functions of our sales and onboarding process.  In a few months we will move from being mostly manual to mostly automated and we will apply the learnings we have had from the last year and a bit to automating our systems.

If you are interested in PayrollHero, feel free to reach out as we would be pleased to chat further about your needs.

If you are in business development or customer service, let us know in the comments what tools you use within your business.  We are always interested to learn more.

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