Robert Allen | Smart Insights | Thu, 12 Jan 2017 15:00:00 +0000

Use these 3 tools and 4 techniques to save time keeping up with digital marketing developments

Five years ago (how time flies) Dave Chaffey wrote about taming the social media fire hose. With so many tweets and Facebook and LinkedIn updates sent every minute hoping to impart advice, even if we narrow that down to Digital marketing advice it is still a never-ending hurricane of content, advice and views. How do you make sense of it all?

In a previous post on the issue staying up-to-date on social media we advised using tools like Hootsuite combined with Twitter lists, which bring channels together and allow for easier social media listening. This is all well and good for social, but what about the general vast amount of digital marketing advice posted every day? How do we digest it and take actionable steps from it? That’s what we’ll look at in this post.

We are always pondering this problem so it was interesting to see this post from one of our LinkedIn group members that confirmed we weren’t alone. Donna asked:

How do you avoid sinking in good content?

I’m drowning in good advice! I’m bringing my digital skills up to speed, and I’ve attended the Econsultancy course and downloading lots of content. Too much in fact. So how do you sort out the good, the bad & the indifferent. Any tips to help this newbie from sinking.

This challenge of too much advice is perhaps biggest in digital marketing… You could spend all day, every day reading blogs on how to improve your SEO, how to improve your productivity, how to get more leads via Social Media, and end up with no time left in the day to actually put anything that you have read into practice!

So as digital marketers, we need a way to quickly sort the wheat from the chaff, so we can get all the key info without drowning in a sea of content designed to help us, but actually doing anything but. There are a number of ways we can do this, and I’ve divided our ideas into strategies and tools. Thanks to everyone who commented on our LinkedIn discussion for their ideas, here’s our summary of techniques to share your insights further – thank you!

Three techniques to avoid drowning in content

Technique 1. Find reliable providers

You should ‘Sniff out’ reliable providers and use these for updates on Digital Marketing rather than random Googling or glancing at social media and going with whatever comes up first or grabs your attention. This is a basic but effective tactic, and actually one of the best ways of cutting through the unnecessary content and getting straight to the gems of useful advice. We’d like to think Smart Insights is certainly one of these reliable providers and several were kind enough to say so in the discussion, but there are others that specialise in certain areas. Search Engine Land is great for news on Google’s algorithm changes, whilst Yoast is brilliant for succinct and actionable SEO news and advice. Build up a list of a couple of sites you really rate for providing advice in each of they key areas of digital marketing: Social Media, Email Marketing, SEO, Content Marketing etc. Then always turn to them to keep up with the latest news, rather than looking whatever comes up on your Twitter feed or Google search results.

Technique 2. Build a folder structure to keep tabs on your advice

Rather than just downloading a white paper here, a research report there, and a compilation of stats that looked interesting and then forgetting about them, a good strategy is to put together a file structure to make sense of all the advice you download. Saving web pages as PDF can put these alongside research reports.

This may sound like common sense, but it is often overlooked. We assume after skim reading a white paper that we’ve learnt all we need and thus there is no need to save it somewhere to come back to later. We all do this, but by doing it we are massively overestimating our cognitive abilities. After reading something in a rush we are unlikely to have taken it all in, and when a week later it comes to actually putting the advice into practice we won’t be able to remember it all. Build yourself a simple file structure where you divide into the key areas of digital marketing or RACE (Reach, Act, Convert, Engage). That way you’ll be able to save advise you really rate and return to it when you need to be able to put it into practice.

Technique 3. Sign up to quality newsletters

Rather than searching for digital marketing news, you can have the news come directly into your inbox on a weekly or daily basis (depending on the newsletter). I would suggest weekly newsletters are usually higher quality as the editors can offer the pick of the week rather than just sending out everything they have so they can fill a daily newsletter. Somewhat obviously, we think the Smart Insights weekly newsletter is a great one to sign up to – it’s free as part of Basic membership. Luckily though it’s not just us, we got plenty of people telling us they rate it too.

So, pick a few sites you think are at the top of their game for marketing news and advice and sign up for their newsletters. If you ever find yourself not using the content that is emailed to you, just un-subscribe. We use Jeff Ente’s weekly Whosbloggingwhat.com to check we’re covering all the latest news – it’s a great place to start when it comes to using newsletters to keep up to date and will give you ideas of others to follow..

Tools for finding and managing your insight

1. Feedly feedly

For us, Feedly is the best alternative if you don’t use Twitter lists to keep up-to-date with different publishers. Feedly is an RSS feed reader that shows you the popularity of blog articles in the categories that you select as being relevant to you (say Marketing, Tech, Social Media). It’s a great way to stay on top of marketing news by seeing what’s hot that day. Just subscribe to the sites that are most relevant for you and then look at them once or twice a day or week. We use Feedly since the categorisation is easy to use and you can see the most relevant articles based on number of views from other Feedly readers.

2. Evernote Evernote

Evernote is possibly the best tool for managing resources once you have found articles of interest you want to return to. It’s a great place for keeping track of what you have read and ideas you may have off the back of it. Note down highlights of interesting articles and points you think you could action off the back of it. It’s free unless you have a very high volume of use and it syncs your content nicely across devices.

3. Instapaper Instapaper

When you find a piece of content you don’t have time to read right now, the instapaper app can save it to your Smartphone for reading later offline. The simple text format means ads and pop-ups are removed and you just get the content you need. It is a great app for using down time. When you’re on the train and your signal keeps dropping in and out with every tunnel, you can be reading articles you’ve saved for reading offline. Better still, the paid version can create playlists of articles, which it will read to you. So when you’re on the bus home or out for a walk, you can be swatting up on the latest marketing news!

4. What’s hot in Digital Whats hot in digital

This is a feature available in our members area for Expert members of Smart Insights. It gives our readers the latest ‘must-read’ developments from the month-to-date.

These include the latest major platform changes to the key Digital Marketing channels; Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. That way you’ll never miss out on any key news, but you won’t have to spend hours keeping up to date.

Our inspiration for creating ‘What’s Hot’ was interviews with our Expert members who explained how they have weekly or monthly meetings with their team or agency to review the most relevant changes to act on each month, so we developed it to support this process – that’s another technique in fact!

We hope the techniques and tools here help inspire new approaches to stop you drowning in content! If you have any clever strategies or know any nifty tools to save time keeping up with marketing news then please let us know.