Unusual brunch suggestion is causing widespread rage in Britain

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LONDON — You've got to feel a bit sorry for brands on social media.

In today's hectic digital world of likes, comments and sweet, sweet shares, in order to stay fresh and grow your Facebook page you've got to be interesting and original.

The problem is, being interesting and original doesn't always go down well.

I'm done with 2016, wtf is this pic.twitter.com/jaDuI5udrT

— Callie (@CallieThorpe) November 22, 2016

Okay, so admittedly we've never tried cornflakes, avocado and feta cheese. It might be eye-openingly wonderful. But the thought of that combination of textures and flavours is definitely a bit odd. Read more...

More about Uk, Facebook, Twitter, Reaction, and Recipe

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

InboundThanksgiving.png

When Thanksgiving rolls around, there are a few questions that we don't exactly look forward to hearing. "When are you getting married?" "When am I getting grandchildren?" "Have you been moisturizing?"

And yet, none of those oh-so-polite questions even come close to the complexity of explaining what, as an inbound marketer, you actually do for a living.

It's not that inbound marketing requires a long, drawn-out answer -- after all, it can be described in 140 characters. But explaining it requires some fundamental knowledge of how technology, marketing, and the internet work. You know, the things that your grandparents might not fully grasp in one fell swoop. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHub

Good news -- all you really need are a few storytelling strategies. We found five ways you can explain inbound marketing to your family. And sure, some of these are useful, and some are just sarcastic. But hey, family is family, right? They'll still love you.

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

1) The Food Analogy

Pumpkin Pie

Source: Giphy

In the U.S., Thanksgiving typically consists a few staples -- turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, to name a few. And while it might sound strange, you can use that knowledge to your advantage by using food preparation as an analogy for different aspects of inbound marketing.

To explain lead nurturing, you can use the pumpkin pie. Sending unnurtured leads to sales is like giving an unbaked pumpkin pie to your guests. I suppose the pumpkin pie could be eaten raw, but ... gross. Instead, you should bake the pumpkin pie -- that ultimately makes it richer and more palatable.

Nurturing leads before sales contacts them works in the same way. It warms them up to your brand, and starts to qualify them with better information on what they might need. "Warm" leads, like the cooked pie, are already familiar with your business, and will close at a much higher rate than those that are "cold."

Use whatever analogy you like to describe inbound marketing -- it clarifies confusing issues by comparing them to something that, quite literally, is right in front of everyone.

2) The Real-Life Scenario

Telemarketers

Source: Giphy

When I'm asked about inbound marketing, I like to use real-like examples of interruptions that they'll likely recognize, and explain how the inbound methodology pertains to it. It usually sounds something like this:

Amanda: Hey, Dad. You know how much you hate telemarketers calling you in the middle of dinner?

Dad: Yes. Hate it. Why? Is that what you do for work?

Amanda: No, actually. Inbound marketing is the exact opposite. That's interruptive marketing. They literally interrupt you. So annoying, right?

Dad: Yes. I'm surprised they're not interrupting us right now.

Amanda: Well, in my job, I create marketing that doesn't interrupt what people are doing. In fact, I create content that people are actively looking for, because it's helpful, entertaining, or informative. Instead of a telemarketer was calling to sell you spoons, I create stuff that someone looking for information about spoons might be searching for on the internet.

Dad: So I would find you, instead of you calling to bother me?

Amanda: Yes! I provide you with actual value from my company, which makes you more interested in what my company sells.

The keys here: 1) Identify which interruptive media your dinner guests are familiar with, and 2) play into their pain points when dealing with that media. Inbound marketing is much more logical when you explain it that way -- even if your family doesn't work marketing or communications.

3) The Theatrics

Thanksgiving theatrics

Source: Giphy

If you're feeling especially creative -- and you have at least one Thanksgiving guest who is willing to participate -- you could set up a roleplay. There are lots of scenarios you can act out, but a classic one would be the telemarketer/dinner guest scenario.

Let's use the telemarketing example above -- and be warned, it might require a few minutes of planning before everyone sits down to dinner. You play the role of the telemarketer, and your dinner guest can be, well, the dinner guest. First, put his or her phone's ringer on the highest volume possible. Then, as soon as someone asks you about your job, excuse yourself and duck out to a quiet area with your own phone. Then, call the dinner guest, have him or her answer the call on speaker, while you pretend to be a telemarketer selling something completely unnecessary at that point -- Halloween costumes.

Be sure your dinner guest uses key phrases like "You're interrupting me in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with this irrelevant call," or, "Don't you think it's a little late to be calling me about Halloween?" or, if you really want to go nuts, "I wish you had sent me a targeted, personalized email in October about those costumes -- I would have bought them."

Then, have them slam down the phone on the table. You can return from your "bathroom break" and say, "See? Telemarketing, or any type of interruptive marketing like that, is profoundly annoying. In my job, I create marketing that helps people -- not annoy them."

End scene.

Depending on the talent of your guest, you might be able to improv the entire thing. Otherwise, you might want to type a script out and email it to the guest beforehand. And if you really want to go overboard, stay in character the entire dinner. The sight of you dressed up as a skeezy telemarketer with a headset will be just too intense to forget -- that is, at least, until your mother requests, "Please remove your headset from the table."

4) The Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles

Source: Webnode

This technique boils down to an age-old philosophical question -- is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Aristotle thought so, but when you're describing inbound marketing to an unfamiliar audience, it's probably okay to explain each tool that goes into it.

Try isolating inbound marketing into the different pieces that pull it off -- things like blogging, email marketing, social media, closed-loop analytics, and call-to-action buttons. The folks who haven't worked in marketing might not know what these are, either. In that case, try using the analogy technique we opened with to explain them. In fact, you can even act out something like social media, by taking a picture of a decadent cranberry relish and showing how you would share it on Instagram in real time.

5) The "I Write Articles on the Internet"

Writing on internet

Source: imoviequotes

If the previous four have all failed, you can always say, "I write articles on the internet for a living." I mean, it's somewhat accurate -- you drive real business results with inbound marketing, and you don't just spew out nonsense blogs about your feelings to get paid -- but it can get your family off your back, especially if you're not sure they'd be interested in hearing the whole shebang. If you choose this path, be prepared to hear how easy it is to blog, and how many of your family members wish they could get paid to do it.

Then, try to switch the subject quickly to something everyone can relate to. "Hey, Uncle Eddie, I'd love to get your amazing stuffing recipe." Trust us -- it works every time.

We're Grateful for You

Good luck out there. And remember: There are so many people who want to know what you do -- which, admittedly is why we love writing about it every day.

We always give thanks for you, our amazing readers. And to express our gratitude, we put together what we hope is a hilarious video of what our families think we do. Happy Thanksgiving!

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

What other strategies do you use to explain inbound marketing to folks who've never heard of it? Let us know in the comments.

Visit the holiday resource hub for all your holiday marketing needs.

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

InboundThanksgiving.png

When Thanksgiving rolls around, there are a few questions that we don't exactly look forward to hearing. "When are you getting married?" "When am I getting grandchildren?" "Have you been moisturizing?"

And yet, none of those oh-so-polite questions even come close to the complexity of explaining what, as an inbound marketer, you actually do for a living.

It's not that inbound marketing requires a long, drawn-out answer -- after all, it can be described in 140 characters. But explaining it requires some fundamental knowledge of how technology, marketing, and the internet work. You know, the things that your grandparents might not fully grasp in one fell swoop. Download more holiday resources to help your business succeed this season from  HubSpot's #HolidayHUB

Good news -- all you really need are a few storytelling strategies. We found five ways you can explain inbound marketing to your family. And sure, some of these are useful, and some are just sarcastic. But hey, family is family, right? They'll still love you.

5 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing to Your Family This Thanksgiving

1) The Food Analogy

Pumpkin Pie

Source: Giphy

In the U.S., Thanksgiving typically consists a few staples -- turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, to name a few. And while it might sound strange, you can use that knowledge to your advantage by using food preparation as an analogy for different aspects of inbound marketing.

To explain lead nurturing, you can use the pumpkin pie. Sending unnurtured leads to sales is like giving an unbaked pumpkin pie to your guests. I suppose the pumpkin pie could be eaten raw, but ... gross. Instead, you should bake the pumpkin pie -- that ultimately makes it richer and more palatable.

Nurturing leads before sales contacts them works in the same way. It warms them up to your brand, and starts to qualify them with better information on what they might need. "Warm" leads, like the cooked pie, are already familiar with your business, and will close at a much higher rate than those that are "cold."

Use whatever analogy you like to describe inbound marketing -- it clarifies confusing issues by comparing them to something that, quite literally, is right in front of everyone.

2) The Real-Life Scenario

Telemarketers

Source: Giphy

When I'm asked about inbound marketing, I like to use real-like examples of interruptions that they'll likely recognize, and explain how the inbound methodology pertains to it. It usually sounds something like this:

Amanda: Hey, Dad. You know how much you hate telemarketers calling you in the middle of dinner?

Dad: Yes. Hate it. Why? Is that what you do for work?

Amanda: No, actually. Inbound marketing is the exact opposite. That's interruptive marketing. They literally interrupt you. So annoying, right?

Dad: Yes. I'm surprised they're not interrupting us right now.

Amanda: Well, in my job, I create marketing that doesn't interrupt what people are doing. In fact, I create content that people are actively looking for, because it's helpful, entertaining, or informative. Instead of a telemarketer was calling to sell you spoons, I create stuff that someone looking for information about spoons might be searching for on the internet.

Dad: So I would find you, instead of you calling to bother me?

Amanda: Yes! I provide you with actual value from my company, which makes you more interested in what my company sells.

The keys here: 1) Identify which interruptive media your dinner guests are familiar with, and 2) play into their pain points when dealing with that media. Inbound marketing is much more logical when you explain it that way -- even if your family doesn't work marketing or communications.

3) The Theatrics

Thanksgiving theatrics

Source: Giphy

If you're feeling especially creative -- and you have at least one Thanksgiving guest who is willing to participate -- you could set up a roleplay. There are lots of scenarios you can act out, but a classic one would be the telemarketer/dinner guest scenario.

Let's use the telemarketing example above -- and be warned, it might require a few minutes of planning before everyone sits down to dinner. You play the role of the telemarketer, and your dinner guest can be, well, the dinner guest. First, put his or her phone's ringer on the highest volume possible. Then, as soon as someone asks you about your job, excuse yourself and duck out to a quiet area with your own phone. Then, call the dinner guest, have him or her answer the call on speaker, while you pretend to be a telemarketer selling something completely unnecessary at that point -- Halloween costumes.

Be sure your dinner guest uses key phrases like "You're interrupting me in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with this irrelevant call," or, "Don't you think it's a little late to be calling me about Halloween?" or, if you really want to go nuts, "I wish you had sent me a targeted, personalized email in October about those costumes -- I would have bought them."

Then, have them slam down the phone on the table. You can return from your "bathroom break" and say, "See? Telemarketing, or any type of interruptive marketing like that, is profoundly annoying. In my job, I create marketing that helps people -- not annoy them."

End scene.

Depending on the talent of your guest, you might be able to improv the entire thing. Otherwise, you might want to type a script out and email it to the guest beforehand. And if you really want to go overboard, stay in character the entire dinner. The sight of you dressed up as a skeezy telemarketer with a headset will be just too intense to forget -- that is, at least, until your mother requests, "Please remove your headset from the table."

4) The Puzzle Pieces

Puzzles

Source: Webnode

This technique boils down to an age-old philosophical question -- is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Aristotle thought so, but when you're describing inbound marketing to an unfamiliar audience, it's probably okay to explain each tool that goes into it.

Try isolating inbound marketing into the different pieces that pull it off -- things like blogging, email marketing, social media, closed-loop analytics, and call-to-action buttons. The folks who haven't worked in marketing might not know what these are, either. In that case, try using the analogy technique we opened with to explain them. In fact, you can even act out something like social media, by taking a picture of a decadent cranberry relish and showing how you would share it on Instagram in real time.

5) The "I Write Articles on the Internet"

Writing on internet

Source: imoviequotes

If the previous four have all failed, you can always say, "I write articles on the internet for a living." I mean, it's somewhat accurate -- you drive real business results with inbound marketing, and you don't just spew out nonsense blogs about your feelings to get paid -- but it can get your family off your back, especially if you're not sure they'd be interested in hearing the whole shebang. If you choose this path, be prepared to hear how easy it is to blog, and how many of your family members wish they could get paid to do it.

Then, try to switch the subject quickly to something everyone can relate to. "Hey, Uncle Eddie, I'd love to get your amazing stuffing recipe." Trust us -- it works every time.

We're Grateful for You

Good luck out there. And remember: There are so many people who want to know what you do -- which, admittedly is why we love writing about it every day.

We always give thanks for you, our amazing readers. And to express our gratitude, we put together what we hope is a hilarious video of what our families think we do. Happy Thanksgiving!

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

What other strategies do you use to explain inbound marketing to folks who've never heard of it? Let us know in the comments.

Visit the holiday resource hub for all your holiday marketing needs.

Facebook’s internet beaming drone Aquila is not headed to India

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Facebook is committed at bringing internet access to much of India, but the social giant won’t be using its Aquila drone to achieve it in the country. 

The high-altitude, solar-powered unmanned drone, designed to beam internet to remote parts of the world, isn’t headed to India, Umang Bedi, Managing Director, for Facebook in India and South Asia noted at a round table discussion on Wednesday. 

"Aquila is one of our connectivity efforts, which I think, is an experiment for the US only. It’s got nothing to do with India; there was some speculation, but that was speculation only,” Bedi told FactorDaily, refuting claims made in a recent media report.  Read more...

More about Internet.Org, Aquila, Facebook, and Tech

Get out of your filter bubble with this new browser extension

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A new browser extension could help make your Facebook feed feel a little less like an echo chamber for your own political beliefs.

The program, called EscapeYourBubble, claims to replace ads on the social network with hand-picked articles that illuminate a point of view you may not have considered (though in practice, the articles currently more often appear around the ads). 

Users simply identify as either "Democrat" or a "Republican" when installing the plug-in, and potentially opposing viewpoints are served accordingly.

Because of the way its news algorithm matches posts to your views and interests, Facebook has an alarming tendency to silo its users into separate, ideology-driven realities where they're seldom exposed to people with a disagreeing opinions. Read more...

More about Media, Business, Facebook, and Advertising

Facebook’s ideals: As fake as its fakest news

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Facebook doesn't care. You know this.

After all, why should anyone be surprised by that recent report alluding to the potential of Facebook supporting Chinese censorship of their News Feed? They want to make inroads into China, where the service is currently banned. China is a huge potential market for them. The social network is a machine, and human users are its grist. 

We're there to create data that increases the platform's value. And the nature of that data—whether it's a pictures of an infant, or a fake news post influencing someone's vote—is secondary.

More about Mark Zuckerberg, Social Media, Facebook, and Tech

Google AdWords Expanded Text Ads: Best Practices For The New Format

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), announced in July of 2016, are considered by most industry observers to be the biggest change to Google Adwords in 16 years.

Google’s new ETAs provide for an increase of 50 percent more ad space. Plus, ETAs pack in a few other exciting features as well.

Numerous strategies and best practices have been developed over the years for the standard text ad format, but unfortunately, most of these don’t translate to expanded text ads. And, businesses are now having to scramble to update their ads before Google stops supporting the old format in January.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to best handle expanded text ads, let’s get to know them a bit better.

Dissecting the Expanded Text Ad

Below is a comparison between the expanded text ad format and the standard text ad format.

unnamed-3.png

Source

The components of the expanded text ad are as follows:

Two Headlines (Shown in lavender in the left side of the image above)

As opposed to standard text ads, ETAs have two headlines — a main headline and a secondary headline. Each headline can use up to 30 characters, as compared to the prior format of one headline with 25 characters.

Display URL and Path Fields (Shown in Green)

When creating ETAs, the final URL has to be entered first (above the headlines) and the display URL is created automatically based on that. There are two optional path fields available to extend the display URL by up to 15 characters each.

Description (Shown in Gray)

ETAs have one long description field with a maximum length of 80 characters. This compares to two fields of 35 characters each with standard text ads.

Now that we’ve gone over the guts of what makes ETAs, let’s get started on some best practices in order to take full advantage of them.

1) Use Keywords and Convincing Copy in Your Headlines

The main headline is the section that most people will see first and pay attention to. Put your most vital information here and make sure to include the main keyword you are targeting in the associated ad group. If you have a long keyword term, then just put your entire keyword in the main headline.

The secondary headline is best for supporting information. This is where you’ll reference the main benefit or USP of your product or service, or stress the urgency of your offer.

Keep in mind that your secondary headline may not always be shown in full. This is because, while you’re allowed up to 30 characters, Google determines ad display based on pixel-count. For example, wider characters such as “W” take up more space. So, if your two headlines go over the allowed number of pixels, Google may trim down your secondary headline. In most cases, your ad preview will show how your ad will look but it is a good idea to allow some breathing room. 

headline-eta.png

Unlike standard text ads, you can now do so much more after adding your keywords. You have some creative freedom to craft a headline that demands attention. Use language that will appeal to your target audience to convince them to interact with your ad. This combination is sure to increase your click-through rates considerably.

Below is an example of an expanded text ad that has been very successful. It blends in keywords (DDoS Protection and Stop DDoS) very well with urgency and value-add.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.25.07_PM.png

Here is another example of a compelling ETA. It combines keywords (User Behavior Analytics) effectively with an attractive offer (Free Guide) and the target audience (CISO).

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.28.27_PM.png

2) Utilize the Description to Differentiate Your Product or Service

After grabbing attention with your headline, use the description to provide supplementary information to convince searchers to click through to your page. The best way to utilize this section is to include an additional benefit, a feature, and a call-to-action (CTA) or offer. A CTA such as “Start Free Trial,” “Shop Now” or “Download Free Guide” will let users know exactly what to expect on your landing page and will boost conversions.

Remember, the description is the final attempt to get a searcher to click-through to your site instead of others—so use your extra description space wisely. Be sure to differentiate your product or service from the competition and make sure that users know why your brand is their best option.

3) Make the Best of the New Display URL

The two new display URL path fields are optional, but you will almost always want to use these. They are excellent places for adding your keywords. If you have a long keyword, you can break it up and use both path fields for your keyword. Otherwise use one field for the keyword and use the other for a call-to-action, especially if you were not able to do this in the description field.

url-paths.png

If you are creating an ad for a keyword containing a competitor name or a trademarked term, you are not allowed to use this keyword in the headlines or the description. But Google does allow you to use such a keyword in the URL path fields. This is the only way that you can get a competitor or trademarked term in your ad copy.

4) Mobile Ad Guidelines

Given that a large chunk of your audience will be using mobile devices to view your ads, you need to make sure that your ad works well on mobile.

With standard text ads, Adwords allowed you to create separate mobile ads. However, ETAs don’t differentiate between devices, which means that the same ad and the same copy will be displayed to searchers across all devices. ETAs viewed from a mobile device may have headlines broken up into two lines if they’re too long. Because of this, it is important to format your ads in a way that will work effectively both on desktop and mobile devices.

The mobile preview feature in the ad editor will show you how your mobile ad will likely look and you can adjust your copy based on that.

mobile-ad-eta.png

5) A/B Test Your New and Old Format Ads

While ETAs may show up for all the keywords in your ad group, they won’t necessarily attract more clicks than your standard text ads. In fact, it’s possible that you may even see a decline in your click through rate (CTR).

Instead of dropping your old ads right away, try adding ETAs to the same ad groups with old ads that have served you well in the past. Compare the performance of the two, and alter and evolve your ETAs until they match or surpass your standard text ads.

In most of our tests though, the expanded text ads have performed significantly better than standard ads. Below are some A/B tests that we have run.

A/B Test 1: The 2 ETAs below had a combined CTR of 10.9% - an improvement of 26% over the already excellent 8.62% CTR of the old standard text ad during the same timeframe.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_7.16.47_PM.png
A/B Test 2: The ETA below had a CTR of 5.49% - an improvement of 54% over the standard text ad.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.41.50_PM.png
A/B Test 3: The ETA below had a CTR of 3.36% - an improvement of 167% over the standard text ad.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.53.17_PM.png

6) Increasing Quality Score with ETAs

Having a good quality score for your keywords and ads is an absolute must for success with AdWords. In order to achieve high quality scores, you have to ensure that your ads are as relevant as possible to user search queries. It is also important to achieve a high click through rate for your ads, as this provides a direct signal to Google that users are finding your ad useful. There are a few key things to take into account when creating ETAs which will help your quality score.

You should always include keywords in your headline as well as the display URL path fields. If you are bidding on a competitor name or trademarked term, and do not use it anywhere in your ad copy, you will get a very low quality score. So it is crucial to add these in the path fields of the display URL as we noted in the last section.

You should also use as many ad extensions as possible with your ads. When combined with ETAs, this greatly increases the amount of screen space that you can claim with your ad, leading to high CTRs and high quality scores.

Use ad extensions to further elaborate on the features, benefits, attributes and offers related to your products and services. Since you likely had to shorten these in your main ad, you can use extensions to fill in the gaps. Also add reviews, ratings, location and call information if you have these available, and they are relevant for your business.

For example, consider the ad below that combines an ETA with call, callout, review, and sitelinks (with 2 line descriptions) ad extensions. That’s a significant chunk of Google’s search results page!

sealskin_car_cover_ad.png

7) Changing Old Ads to the New Format

If you have a lot of standard text ads in your account, changing them all over to expanded text ads may seem a bit daunting. You can make your job a little easier by adding new ads in bulk.

You can download your current ads to a CSV file, make all your changes, and then upload them back to your Adwords account. Using this approach will add new expanded text ads in the same ad groups and campaigns as your current ads. It will not remove any of your current ads. Here’s how you do it.

Export Your Current Ads

Step 1: In your AdWords account, click the Campaigns menu, then click on the Ads tab

Step 2: Make sure the “All Enabled Ads” option is selected

Step 3: Click Edit > Download Spreadsheet

download-spreadsheet.png

Step 4: Choose Excel .CSV format

Step 5: Click “Advanced editing” and uncheck all boxes except “All Editable Columns”. Then click Download and save the file on your machine. 

Enabled-Ads.png

Make Changes

Step 1: Open the CSV file in Excel

Step 2: For each ad that you want to create an expanded text ad for, add values in the Headline 1, Headline 2, Description, Path 1 and Path 2 columns. You can use values in the Ad, Description line 1 and Description line 2 columns (in the same row) as a guide since these represent your current ad.

ETA-Edit.png

Step 3: Delete the Ad, Description line 1, Description line 2 and Display URL values from the same row.

Step 4: Go to the Ad Type column and change “Text ad” to “Expanded text ad”

change-ad-type.png

Step 5: Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 for each expanded text ad you want to create. NOTE: If you are new to this process, it will be best if you try and add only one expanded text ad the first time. In this case, you should just delete all rows other than the row you just edited.

Step 6: Save the file as a CSV

Import Your New Ads

Step 1: In your AdWords account, click the Campaigns menu, then click on the Ads tab

Step 2: Click Edit > Upload Spreadsheet

Step 3: Choose the file you saved and click Upload and Preview

Screen_Shot_2016-09-30_at_5.11.52_PM.png

Step 4: Google will now show you the number of ads that will be added. This should be the no. of new expanded text ads that you added in step 2 of the Make Changes section above. If there are any problems with the data you added, it will be shown in this box.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-30_at_5.16.24_PM.png

Step 5: Click on Preview changes. Even if you had any errors in step 4 above, you should do this to determine exactly where the problems are.

Step 6: Verify that each expanded text ad is shown correctly in the preview

preview-ad.png

Step 7: If everything looks good, click Approve changes to add your new ads. If you see any problems here, click Reject changes. Go back to your CSV file in Excel, fix the problems and then try again. 

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got a better grasp on expanded text ads and how to use them, you can get started on your own ads. Remember, you don’t want to pause your standard ads just yet—these new processes are going to take a bit of practice before you become an expert.

The clock is quickly running out; Google’s last day of standard text ad support is January 31, at which time we’ll all be forced to adopt the new expanded text ad format. Rather than scrambling at the last minute, it’s best to get started now. Work out the kinks and find out the best ad copy that works for you. 

New Call-to-action

Google AdWords Expanded Text Ads: Best Practices For The New Format

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs), announced in July of 2016, are considered by most industry observers to be the biggest change to Google Adwords in 16 years.

Google’s new ETAs provide for an increase of 50 percent more ad space. Plus, ETAs pack in a few other exciting features as well.

Numerous strategies and best practices have been developed over the years for the standard text ad format, but unfortunately, most of these don’t translate to expanded text ads. And, businesses are now having to scramble to update their ads before Google stops supporting the old format in January.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to best handle expanded text ads, let’s get to know them a bit better.

Dissecting the Expanded Text Ad

Below is a comparison between the expanded text ad format and the standard text ad format.

unnamed-3.png

Source

The components of the expanded text ad are as follows:

Two Headlines (Shown in lavender in the left side of the image above)

As opposed to standard text ads, ETAs have two headlines — a main headline and a secondary headline. Each headline can use up to 30 characters, as compared to the prior format of one headline with 25 characters.

Display URL and Path Fields (Shown in Green)

When creating ETAs, the final URL has to be entered first (above the headlines) and the display URL is created automatically based on that. There are two optional path fields available to extend the display URL by up to 15 characters each.

Description (Shown in Gray)

ETAs have one long description field with a maximum length of 80 characters. This compares to two fields of 35 characters each with standard text ads.

Now that we’ve gone over the guts of what makes ETAs, let’s get started on some best practices in order to take full advantage of them.

1) Use Keywords and Convincing Copy in Your Headlines

The main headline is the section that most people will see first and pay attention to. Put your most vital information here and make sure to include the main keyword you are targeting in the associated ad group. If you have a long keyword term, then just put your entire keyword in the main headline.

The secondary headline is best for supporting information. This is where you’ll reference the main benefit or USP of your product or service, or stress the urgency of your offer.

Keep in mind that your secondary headline may not always be shown in full. This is because, while you’re allowed up to 30 characters, Google determines ad display based on pixel-count. For example, wider characters such as “W” take up more space. So, if your two headlines go over the allowed number of pixels, Google may trim down your secondary headline. In most cases, your ad preview will show how your ad will look but it is a good idea to allow some breathing room. 

headline-eta.png

Unlike standard text ads, you can now do so much more after adding your keywords. You have some creative freedom to craft a headline that demands attention. Use language that will appeal to your target audience to convince them to interact with your ad. This combination is sure to increase your click-through rates considerably.

Below is an example of an expanded text ad that has been very successful. It blends in keywords (DDoS Protection and Stop DDoS) very well with urgency and value-add.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.25.07_PM.png

Here is another example of a compelling ETA. It combines keywords (User Behavior Analytics) effectively with an attractive offer (Free Guide) and the target audience (CISO).

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.28.27_PM.png

2) Utilize the Description to Differentiate Your Product or Service

After grabbing attention with your headline, use the description to provide supplementary information to convince searchers to click through to your page. The best way to utilize this section is to include an additional benefit, a feature, and a call-to-action (CTA) or offer. A CTA such as “Start Free Trial,” “Shop Now” or “Download Free Guide” will let users know exactly what to expect on your landing page and will boost conversions.

Remember, the description is the final attempt to get a searcher to click-through to your site instead of others—so use your extra description space wisely. Be sure to differentiate your product or service from the competition and make sure that users know why your brand is their best option.

3) Make the Best of the New Display URL

The two new display URL path fields are optional, but you will almost always want to use these. They are excellent places for adding your keywords. If you have a long keyword, you can break it up and use both path fields for your keyword. Otherwise use one field for the keyword and use the other for a call-to-action, especially if you were not able to do this in the description field.

url-paths.png

If you are creating an ad for a keyword containing a competitor name or a trademarked term, you are not allowed to use this keyword in the headlines or the description. But Google does allow you to use such a keyword in the URL path fields. This is the only way that you can get a competitor or trademarked term in your ad copy.

4) Mobile Ad Guidelines

Given that a large chunk of your audience will be using mobile devices to view your ads, you need to make sure that your ad works well on mobile.

With standard text ads, Adwords allowed you to create separate mobile ads. However, ETAs don’t differentiate between devices, which means that the same ad and the same copy will be displayed to searchers across all devices. ETAs viewed from a mobile device may have headlines broken up into two lines if they’re too long. Because of this, it is important to format your ads in a way that will work effectively both on desktop and mobile devices.

The mobile preview feature in the ad editor will show you how your mobile ad will likely look and you can adjust your copy based on that.

mobile-ad-eta.png

5) A/B Test Your New and Old Format Ads

While ETAs may show up for all the keywords in your ad group, they won’t necessarily attract more clicks than your standard text ads. In fact, it’s possible that you may even see a decline in your click through rate (CTR).

Instead of dropping your old ads right away, try adding ETAs to the same ad groups with old ads that have served you well in the past. Compare the performance of the two, and alter and evolve your ETAs until they match or surpass your standard text ads.

In most of our tests though, the expanded text ads have performed significantly better than standard ads. Below are some A/B tests that we have run.

A/B Test 1: The 2 ETAs below had a combined CTR of 10.9% - an improvement of 26% over the already excellent 8.62% CTR of the old standard text ad during the same timeframe.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_7.16.47_PM.png
A/B Test 2: The ETA below had a CTR of 5.49% - an improvement of 54% over the standard text ad.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.41.50_PM.png
A/B Test 3: The ETA below had a CTR of 3.36% - an improvement of 167% over the standard text ad.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-29_at_12.53.17_PM.png

6) Increasing Quality Score with ETAs

Having a good quality score for your keywords and ads is an absolute must for success with AdWords. In order to achieve high quality scores, you have to ensure that your ads are as relevant as possible to user search queries. It is also important to achieve a high click through rate for your ads, as this provides a direct signal to Google that users are finding your ad useful. There are a few key things to take into account when creating ETAs which will help your quality score.

You should always include keywords in your headline as well as the display URL path fields. If you are bidding on a competitor name or trademarked term, and do not use it anywhere in your ad copy, you will get a very low quality score. So it is crucial to add these in the path fields of the display URL as we noted in the last section.

You should also use as many ad extensions as possible with your ads. When combined with ETAs, this greatly increases the amount of screen space that you can claim with your ad, leading to high CTRs and high quality scores.

Use ad extensions to further elaborate on the features, benefits, attributes and offers related to your products and services. Since you likely had to shorten these in your main ad, you can use extensions to fill in the gaps. Also add reviews, ratings, location and call information if you have these available, and they are relevant for your business.

For example, consider the ad below that combines an ETA with call, callout, review, and sitelinks (with 2 line descriptions) ad extensions. That’s a significant chunk of Google’s search results page!

sealskin_car_cover_ad.png

7) Changing Old Ads to the New Format

If you have a lot of standard text ads in your account, changing them all over to expanded text ads may seem a bit daunting. You can make your job a little easier by adding new ads in bulk.

You can download your current ads to a CSV file, make all your changes, and then upload them back to your Adwords account. Using this approach will add new expanded text ads in the same ad groups and campaigns as your current ads. It will not remove any of your current ads. Here’s how you do it.

Export Your Current Ads

Step 1: In your AdWords account, click the Campaigns menu, then click on the Ads tab

Step 2: Make sure the “All Enabled Ads” option is selected

Step 3: Click Edit > Download Spreadsheet

download-spreadsheet.png

Step 4: Choose Excel .CSV format

Step 5: Click “Advanced editing” and uncheck all boxes except “All Editable Columns”. Then click Download and save the file on your machine. 

Enabled-Ads.png

Make Changes

Step 1: Open the CSV file in Excel

Step 2: For each ad that you want to create an expanded text ad for, add values in the Headline 1, Headline 2, Description, Path 1 and Path 2 columns. You can use values in the Ad, Description line 1 and Description line 2 columns (in the same row) as a guide since these represent your current ad.

ETA-Edit.png

Step 3: Delete the Ad, Description line 1, Description line 2 and Display URL values from the same row.

Step 4: Go to the Ad Type column and change “Text ad” to “Expanded text ad”

change-ad-type.png

Step 5: Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 for each expanded text ad you want to create. NOTE: If you are new to this process, it will be best if you try and add only one expanded text ad the first time. In this case, you should just delete all rows other than the row you just edited.

Step 6: Save the file as a CSV

Import Your New Ads

Step 1: In your AdWords account, click the Campaigns menu, then click on the Ads tab

Step 2: Click Edit > Upload Spreadsheet

Step 3: Choose the file you saved and click Upload and Preview

Screen_Shot_2016-09-30_at_5.11.52_PM.png

Step 4: Google will now show you the number of ads that will be added. This should be the no. of new expanded text ads that you added in step 2 of the Make Changes section above. If there are any problems with the data you added, it will be shown in this box.

Screen_Shot_2016-09-30_at_5.16.24_PM.png

Step 5: Click on Preview changes. Even if you had any errors in step 4 above, you should do this to determine exactly where the problems are.

Step 6: Verify that each expanded text ad is shown correctly in the preview

preview-ad.png

Step 7: If everything looks good, click Approve changes to add your new ads. If you see any problems here, click Reject changes. Go back to your CSV file in Excel, fix the problems and then try again. 

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got a better grasp on expanded text ads and how to use them, you can get started on your own ads. Remember, you don’t want to pause your standard ads just yet—these new processes are going to take a bit of practice before you become an expert.

The clock is quickly running out; Google’s last day of standard text ad support is January 31, at which time we’ll all be forced to adopt the new expanded text ad format. Rather than scrambling at the last minute, it’s best to get started now. Work out the kinks and find out the best ad copy that works for you. 

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UK to put up £1BN for full fiber broadband and 5G, £400M extra for VC

Various denominations of pound notes are seen in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Thursday, May 17, 2012. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron plans to say today he won't swerve from his austerity plan, warning members of the European single currency that failure to resolve their problems carry "huge risks for everybody." Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images The UK government has confirmed it will be borrowing to try to encourage investment in high speed fiber broadband networks and 5G technology — with a plan to spend over £1BN by 2020-2021 to bolster the country’s digital infrastructure. Read More

The 34 Best Tools for Improving Your Writing Skills

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Words are hard.

Whether you're a published author or just getting started with blogging, it's not always easy to string words together in a way that makes sense, sounds good, and makes the reader feel something.

But every marketer should be able to write -- and, more importantly, every marketer can write. It's just a matter of finding the writing environment that works best for you, expanding your vocabulary, asking for feedback (and listening to it), and practicing. Download our free guide here for tips to become a better writer. 

Luckily, there are a slew of great tools you can use to help improve your writing. Check out the list below, and feel free to add the most helpful ones you use in the comment section.

The 34 Best Tools for Improving Your Writing

1) Daily Page

"Writer's block is a comforting lie we tell ourselves so we can stop writing and go do other, more pleasurable things," said Beth Dunn, HubSpot's UX writer and editor. "If your fingers still work, you can write. Sit down at the same time every day and start typing."

Want to get into the habit of writing every day, but don't know what to write about? Daily Page emails you a writing prompt every morning, and you have the rest of the day to write your response. Once you've written your response to the prompt, you can either share it or keep it private.

2) 750 Words 

Another way to practice your writing is to do a "brain dump" exercise using a tool like 750 Words. "Brain dumping" means getting all that stuff in your head down on paper -- without having to worry about incomplete ideas, tangents, and private stuff.

It's not blogging or status updating -- it's just you, writing whatever you want on a totally private account, without ever having to title your content or tag topics or share with your friends.

What it does do is track your word count so you're sure to write 750 words (about three pages of writing). Plus, it's gamified, which makes it kind of fun: You get a point for writing anything at all, two points for writing 750 words or more, and more points if you write consistently. And every time you write, it'll give you some cool statistics on how much time you spent writing, the feelings and themes of your words, and so on.

Image Credit: 750 Words

3) Twords 

Publishing content on a consistent basis is crucial in the blogging world. Our own research concludes that companies that commit to regularly publishing quality content to their blogs tend get the most website traffic and leads -- and those results continue to pay out over time. Tools like Twords can help bloggers commit to writing consistently.

Twords calls itself "the app that nudges you to write." It notifies you when you haven't written in a while so you can keep yourself accountable -- and even gives you the option to connect with others who will help keep you accountable. It also tracks your writing so you can start to see patterns for the days you're blogging more versus less, and so on. Finally, it includes some cool resources like a prompt library and articles about habit formation, writing resources, and so on.

Image Credit: Twords

4) Your Own "Swipe File" 

I read about a "Swipe File" on the "Kopywriting Kourse" blog and loved the idea. Basically, a swipe file is just a folder where you can curate cool stuff you come across, like advertisements, copy, emails, etc. "Save things that make you click, sign up, laugh, or go 'whoa!'" says the post. The purpose? To flip through it for inspiration.

A swipe file can be physical or digital.

  • A physical swipe file would be something like a folder or envelope where you can keep print ads, pieces of copy, letters, and so on for inspiration.
  • A digital swipe file on desktop would be a digital folder, like one on your desktop. Whenever you see something interesting, screenshot it (by pressing Command + Shift + 4 on a Mac or Ctrl + Shift + 4 on a PC) and dragging that screenshot to your swipe folder.
  • A digital swipe on your mobile device is good for all the stuff you see when browsing the internet on your phone or tablet. The author of the post, for instance, created a specific folder in his iPhone and made a Phone Swipe File there. He stores screenshots when he sees something on mobile that grabs his attention.

Image Credit: KopywritingKourse.com

5) Help me Write 

What better way to make sure you're writing about stuff your audience actually wants to read than by actually asking them? When you create a profile using Help me Write, you can post ideas of what you're thinking about writing about. Then, you can share those ideas with your network via Twitter, Facebook, email, and so on -- and ask your networks what they'd like to read most. They'll be able to vote on their favorites, and you'll be able to pick topics and better manage your time. 

Image Credit: HelpmeWrite

6) Blog Topic Generator

Do you have an overarching theme or keywords in mind for your next blog post, but you're not sure at which angle to tackle it? HubSpot's Blog Topic Generator could come in handy. Simply type in three keywords, and the tool will auto-generate five potential topics for your post. If you're not keen on the suggestions, you can always click "Try Again" and it'll give you five more topics.

7) Trello

Writing efficiently and organizing well is a part of writing well. Use a tool like Trello to collect content ideas, assign them to different members of your team, attach due dates, collaborate with other team members, track their progress, and move them from conception to completion.

Here at HubSpot, we add all our blog post ideas to Trello, turning each idea into a card that we can expand on with notes and move from list to list with a simple drag-and-drop.

8) Google Docs

There are many ways you can use Google Docs to improve your writing. For example, you can use the research tool to do online research on the topic you're writing about, find quotes or educational information, and so on (see #4 on this list). You can use it to request edits or comments from your peers. It even has a built-in dictionary.

One of my favorite ways to use Google Docs to improve my writing is by crowdsourcing ideas from my coworkers. Here at HubSpot, the blogging team uses this method all the time -- and it shaves off a significant portion of research time that goes into curated posts. The result? Better examples and more comprehensive posts with less effort.

9) Quora & 10) inbound.org

Speaking of crowdsourcing, Quora is a great place to go for crowdsourced answers if you want to reach outside your network. Simply search for a keyword, follow topics related to the topics you're interested in, and/or post your own questions.

If you're looking for answers from inbound marketers specifically, inbound.org is a great place to source answers from professionals. Here's an example of a post where the author asked about people's productivity and time management habits.

11) Blog Post Templates & 12) Ebook Templates

If you're all set on a topic but need help with organizing your writing so it's interesting to read, you may want to check out our free, downloadable blog post templates or ebook templates, depending what you're writing.

  • The blog post templates will give you an outline of five different types of blog posts: how-to posts, listicles, curated collections, SlideShare presentations, and newsjacks.
  • The ebook templates are available as both PowerPoint and InDesign files. All you have to do is paste in your text, drop in your images, add your company's logo, and voila -- a finished ebook.

13) HubSpot Composer

For HubSpot customers, Composer is a new distraction-free writing tool that helps writers easily turn their brainstorm ideas and research notes into a blog post. Composer handles the work of formatting drafts into blog posts -- users can copy and paste text from Microsoft Word or Google Docs into Composer, and Composer will automatically reformat them for blog publication with the press of a button.

Other team members can collaborate and share comments on documents in Composer so bloggers can get team feedback prior to publishing content on their blogs. Check it out in action below:

composer.png

14) oTranscribe 

If you're writing something that includes an interview with someone else, oTranscribe is a great tool that'll make the transcription process much less painful -- allowing more time for your own writing and analysis.

There are a lot of transcription tools out there, but this one is one of my favorites. It's a web app for transcribing interviews created by Elliott Bentley, a graphics writer at Wall Street Journal. The audio player is integrated with the editor meaning you won't have to click back and forth. You can pause, play, rewind, and fast-forward using keyboard shortcuts. Every second, it automatically saves the transcription to your browser's storage. You can export it to plain text or Google Docs. Finally, it's open source under the MIT license.

15) Coffitivity

Ready to start writing? Here's a tool that'll boost your productivity. A study out of the University of Chicago found that a moderate level of ambient noise, or "white noise," helps people be more creative. While there are a lot of white noise generators out there, Cofftivity is my favorite. It offers non-stop café background sounds at varying intensities, from "Morning Murmur" and "University Undertones" to "Lunchtime Lounge" and "Brazil Bistro."

16) E.ggtimer.com & 17) Tomato Timer

If you like to write with a little pressure (or you're just on deadline), then tools like e.ggtimer.com and Tomato Timer are useful (and free). Both of these tools offer a "pomodoro" option, which refers to the Pomodoro technique: a time management technique created by Francesco Cirillo based on periods of distraction-free work followed by short breaks -- which is supposed to be optimal for productivity.

18) ZenPen 

If you don't do well with distractions while you're writing on a computer, then use a tool like ZenPen to help block out all the distractions and focus on your writing. It's a web app that gives you a "minimalist writing zone." There are a few, minimalist features available to help you stylize the text, add hyperlinks, and block quotes. Once you're done, simply copy the text and paste it in your blog editor or wherever you'd like it to go.

19) Power Thesaurus & 20) Thesaurus.com 

Power Thesaurus isn't just any thesaurus: It's a crowdsourced thesaurus that provides alternative word choices from a community of writers. The word suggestions are totally original, and are based on the editorial work of a team of writers and years' worth of reviews visitors' suggestions.

But hey, when you want a good ol', regular Thesaurus, you can't beat Thesaurus.com.

21) OneLook Thesaurus

In addition to its thesaurus functions, OneLook Thesaurus also has a "reverse dictionary": users can type in a definition or group of words related to the word they're searching for and find the right word for their piece. Users can also type in a category of items, and OneLook will serve up multiple words that fall under that umbrella.

For example, here's what happens when you search for "study animals." OneLook then ranks synonyms according to how related or distance they are from the original search query. This is a great tool for when you have that "what's the word for this?" moment and can't bug your deskmate.

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Image Credit: OneLook Thesaurus

22) Twinword Writer 

Here's another help that'll help you if you get stuck on a word and don't want to leave your browser or skim through synonyms. If you type using Twinword Writer, it'll automatically sense if you pause because you're stuck on a word. Then, it'll analyze the context of your writing and open a box suggesting alternate words you can use. You can also click any word to get suggestions.

23) Prompts 

If you like typing out posts or ideas using your iPhone and tend to hit a wall in the middle of a thought or idea, this $2.99 iOS app may be worth the investment. It uses an algorithm to make suggestions for what you should write next. It also tracks stats about your writing habits, can remind you to write regularly if you allow it, and lets you schedule the best day and time to write based on your writing history.

Image Credit: Prompts

24) BrainyQuote 

You may also find you want to include a quote from a famous author, politician, celebrity, or other public figure to strengthen your writing or inspire your readers. BrainyQuote is a library filled with millions of interesting quips that you can search by speaker (from Aristotle to Dr. Seuss to Audrey Hepburn) or by topic (like peace, success, leadership, and more).

25) Hemingway App

Ernest Hemingway, admired for his succinct writing style, is the namesake for this handy editing app. Want to make your content more easily readable? Paste your text into this free web app and it'll assess your writing and identify opportunities to make it simpler. First, it sums up how readable your writing is with a grade. Then, it suggests how to improve readability. (Read this blog post for more tips on simplifying your writing.)

26) AtomicWriter 

Here's another tool that'll assess your writing -- but this time, it'll assess it depending on your specific target audience's reading level and which content they relate to the most. After all, writing for your target audience is an important part of content marketing.

How? Simply hook up your Google Analytics and social media accounts to AtomicWriter, and then paste your content into the app. It'll analyze your historical data and engagement data from those accounts, and then tell you whether it's suitable for your target audience. 

Image Credit: Jeff Bullas

27) ProWritingAid

Here's another tool that evaluates your writing, but it boasts some unique features that differentiate it from the tools above. For example, ProWritingAid highlights overused words, redundancies, plagiarism, and sentence length, making it easy for writers to identify trouble areas and strengthen them. 

The free version of this tool only analyzes 3,000 words at a time, so the $40 investment per year for Premium may be worthwhile if users publish multiple pieces of content per month. 

Here's an example of what ProWritingAid looks like in action:

grammarcheck.png

Image Credit: ProWritingAid

28) Grammarly & 29) Correctica

Once the actual writing part is done, it's time to edit. While human editors will be able to catch most grammatical errors, editing tools like Grammarly and Correctica are great tools for triple-checking before you press "publish" or "send." Both free tools check for grammatical errors -- and Grammarly even checks for plagiarism.

30) Draft 

When you upload your document to draft (from cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, Box, or Google Drive), there's a lot you can do with it. You can edit your document, share it with colleagues or friends, and manage your friends' suggestions -- much in the same way you can with Google Docs.

One big differentiator, though? It calls itself the "Uber for copyediting": Draft lets you call on a staff of reviewers to get suggested edits, for a price. (Learn about more features here.)

Draft Screenshot.png

Image Credit: Draft

31) Cliché Finder 

Unleashed too many clichés in your most recent piece of content? To help your writing be more specific, it's generally best to avoid clichés. To ensure you leave no stone unturned, paste your text into Cliché Finder and it'll highlight any you missed so you can replace them with more specific text.

32) Listly

When you're creating list posts -- like this one -- it's easy to hit a wall. Sure, you know there are other great examples out there, but you've already exhausted the ones you know of. With Listly, you can invite your audience to contribute to your list. The Listly community can then vote on list items to move them up the list. 

You can either embed the interactive list in your post or use it do conduct research before you publish to ensure that the examples, items, or tips you're including are the best of the best.

33) Style Guide

The more content your business puts out, the more consistent that writing and messaging should be. This includes everything from what official names to call your products or services, down to whether to use an Oxford comma.

At some point, most companies accept that they'll need to develop a writing style guide: a document that indicates the basic rules of writing we'll all agree to follow (like whether I should've capitalized the "a" after the colon in this sentence).

Most businesses adopt either the AP Stylebook, or the Chicago Manual of Style. If you want to customize your style guide, you can download the writing style guide template we've created here.

34) WritePls

If you type "how to improve writing skills" into Google, you'll notice that there are almost six million search results. WritePls has organized the best of the best articles about writing into specific categories for different writing types (fiction, nonfiction, and emails), as well as articles about general writing, growth hacking, and resources for ebooks and online education.

This is a great home base for new and experienced writers alike. Blogging and email writing are two very different crafts, and WritePls has collected a variety of great resources to help any writers working on any type of project to refer to in a one-stop shop.

Which tools for improving one's writing would you add to the list? Share with us in the comments.

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

free guide: how to be a better copywriter
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