Wasting second place

100 people apply for a job. 99 are sent home. What if the winner hadn’t applied? You might have been thrilled with the person who almost got the job.

17,000 people apply to a famous college. Only 10% get in. But at least a third were good enough to get in but didn’t get lucky. What happens to their narrative?

Selective organizations need to get better about communicating to the people who ‘almost’ make it. And it’s an incredible waste to discard all the knowledge that was gained in the sorting process… how to share it to help someone else?


PS coming soon: A new session of The Story Skills Workshop. You can join the list today to find out more and get updates.

The Top 5 Digital Services You Didn’t Know You Need (But Every Business Should Have)

I’ve thought a lot recently about what it means to have a truly comprehensive, integrated digital marketing strategy. Does it mean investing in a few powerful channels and ignoring the rest? Does it mean investing in all channels equally, regardless of your industry, and how your customers consume information? Of course not. It means having the right mix of channels and tactics for your business while being careful not to outright discount any of them.

While I’d consider myself an athlete, I am in no way a gym enthusiast. However, I do know that if you consistently only work out the big muscle groups, you’re making a big mistake. To get your body in shape, you must pay attention to the health of the smaller muscle groups—many of which you didn’t even know about. (Ever heard of the popliteus? Me neither but it’s really important.) Of course, you need to focus on the muscles that you plan to use more than others, but if you don’t pay attention to your body as a complete system, you’re bound to get injured. The same goes for digital marketing for your business.

When most businesses need digital marketing services, they’re normally looking for those big muscle groups – SEO, PPC, or content strategy. They’re easy to understand, and it’s very apparent when one of those is not working. If your site isn’t getting enough organic visitors or your competitors are ranked higher in search engines, you need SEO. If you need quick promotion and want to try digital advertising, PPC is your thing. If your site is confusing and you’re not sure how to talk about your product or service in the right way, you need to focus on content strategy. These are all components of a solid digital marketing strategy. But there are some less-obvious yet just as critical digital marketing services that are equally essential. And just like that popliteus, you should know about them.

Here are the top five digital marketing service that you should really pay attention to:

1. Analytics

Okay, this one isn’t tiny, and yes, many people are aware they should pay attention to it. But surprisingly, it is one of the most neglected services. I can’t tell you how many times we’ll get a client that hasn’t claimed analytics as a service they need, only to open the hood of their current digital marketing efforts and see a seemingly impossible mess of data.

The reason why analytics makes the top of the list is that it’s perhaps the single most important digital marketing service. If you can’t read your data correctly, then at best you’re flying blind. At worst, you’re reading the map upside down and going further away from your goal instead of closer. In the Portent Marketing Stack, it’s listed as both a 5/5 for longevity and risk. It’s how you measure effectiveness for all digital marketing services.

2. Conversion Rate Optimization

CRO strategists are miracle workers. They come in, diagnose why customers aren’t flowing through your site and converting, and then poof, they disappear. Well, they don’t usually leave; they diagnose new issues and keep chipping away until your marketing funnel is smooth and clutter-free. Imagine a 14% increase in conversion with a simple test. Even a 3% supercharge could be game-changing.

3. Influencer Marketing

Endorsements are nothing new, especially in traditional media. However, as new technology media open up, the breadth of influencers is growing exponentially. The upside is that there are thousands of influencers over dozens of platforms to choose from. The downside is that there are thousands of influencers over dozens of platforms to choose from. There is quality out there that will work for your business, but you need to know where to look.

At Portent, we’ve been particularly interested in YouTube and podcast influencers. We’ve found that targeting quality influencers doesn’t need to be expensive. You don’t need to find the biggest star on the block, just one who’s channel matches your product or service and can be authentic and passionate. Results can be mind-blowing. Not only will you see a major channel for referral traffic, but there is a powerful halo effect that impacts organic traffic as well.


However, it’s tricky to find the right influencers. But once you do, it’ll be a huge compliment to your marketing strategy.

4. Outreach (Digital PR)

Much like “traditional” SEO, outreach is all about the long game. The goal for outreach is to get quality referral links and increase the domain authority of your site. There are a handful of tactics that outreach strategists use, but the bread and butter is guest posting, which is writing quality articles that link back to your site. A skilled outreach strategist can get links back to your site from huge online publications.

Another approach they might use is HARO (Help a Reporter Out) requests. They’ll find opportunities for your subject-matter experts to answer questions that a reporter can use as a quote. Hopefully, it comes with a link and voila, another tick towards a higher domain authority.

5. Video Marketing

It’s true, there is a lot of video on the internet, but a lot of it is pretty poor. It just takes a little bit of effort and a good video marketing strategy to rise above the clutter. Video marketing pretty much ends up on the “top five digital trends” list every year and has for the last five years. That won’t stop anytime soon.

There are so many ways to use video on or off your site. There are instructional videos, video white papers, and customer testimonials, among tons of other uses. There’s also live video for webinars, product releases, and other events. According to Cisco, by 2021, 80% of traffic will be video related. It’s easily shareable, suited for almost every device, and makes information much easier to consume. The Digital Marketing Institute has a fantastic article that explains why video is only getting hotter.

I get it, every service you add to the mix is another piece of the budget and another channel (and perhaps agency) that you need to manage. But the five services I’ve listed above are essential components to a healthy digital marketing strategy. Find an agency that can work these into your marketing mix, and good things will come.

The post The Top 5 Digital Services You Didn’t Know You Need (But Every Business Should Have) appeared first on Portent.

Our top story

When you talk about your last job, your last vacation, the things that happened when you were 12…

What do you lead with?

Do you lead with, “I broke my ankle that summer and rarely got out” or is it, “I stuck with my reading regimen and read all of Shakespeare.”

Because both are true.

The top story is the one that informs our narrative, and our narrative changes our future.

The Super Long Tail of Voice Search

With the tremendous rise of voice assistants from the likes of Amazon, Google, and Apple, the percentage of search traffic coming from voice is dramatically increasing. This presents challenges for those who want to get found in voice search because of the importance of being listed as the first result.

Stolen ideas

Is there a difference between someone stealing a potato from your farm and someone stealing your idea?

Well, if everyone in town comes and takes a potato, your farm is bust.

But if everyone in town comes and takes your idea, you’re more known, trusted and effective than you used to be.

During Google’s beginnings, their business and tech plan was available to anyone who stopped by Stanford and bothered to read it. Every popular podcast based on an original idea gave away that original idea the moment the first episode of the podcast was available–long before the podcast itself became popular.

When I was a book packager, we ended up publishing about 120 books and pitching another 1,000 that were never published. In all of that time, I can only remember one of our ideas (it was a big one) being stolen from us and published without our participation. That code of ethics created a feeling of intellectual safety. But, at the same time, it was our successful books that were copied the most–and that copying was not just a symptom but often a cause of their success.

The internet is a copying machine. Ideas morph and change and spin as they move from one end to the other. Ripping ideas off wholesale and violating intellectual property rights is nothing to be proud of–each of us can do better than that. But holding ideas too tightly in fear of the ripples and echoes they’re going to cause is the real problem.

Being original is an opportunity to advance the conversation. Building something of utility with persistence and grace is truly generous, though, and it’s not related to whether or not anyone has ever heard your idea before.