How to Make Your E-Commerce Blog More Engaging

How to Make Your E-Commerce Blog More Engaging

You know that your blog posts are engaging when you get a lot of likes and comments, and they’re shared frequently. These posts can start meaningful discussions and elicit further questions which you and other readers can answer. These signs indicate that you’re messages are making an impact on many readers.

But not all blog posts are engaging, and it can be disheartening to realize that people are indifferent to your posts. Instead of giving up, here are some ways for you to create more engaging content:

Use Tools to Analyze the Competition

Are you envious of how other blogs in your industry are receiving much more attention from their readers? You don’t to be envious for long. Instead, you can study the content strategy of your more successful rivals so that you can improve your own content. You can see which subjects or forms of media do well.

You can use various tools available online (such as BuzzSumo) so that you can perform that analysis thoroughly. These tools can identify content and topics that receive the most engagement in any specific niche. With these, you can find out who the major influencers are and you can emulate and even work with them.

Feature Plenty of Images

Seriously—did you really think that a solid page of just text will ever excite lots of people? A single glance at it will tell potential readers that it’s going to be a boring read. The blocks of text look unexciting, and so will the content itself.

One study by BuzzSumo revealed that when an article has an image for every 75 to 100 words of text, it’s twice more likely to be shared than when the text has fewer images (or none at all). Images aren’t just there to break the monotony of text, either. These images can show what something looks like better than any of your descriptions, and it can make tutorials and guides more understandable.

Just make sure that the graphics you use are actually relevant to your post since they can be distracting if they’re just there for decoration. The images should also be simple and clean and arranged so that they don’t block the text.

Use Original Photos and Images

Again, you can go online and find numerous tools that enable you to create original images. While you can always you’re your own digital camera to take original shots, these tools can also help you customize stock images so that they become unique and more suited for your brand. You can use infographics as well.

Accept Guest Posts

When you’re feeling lazy about creating your own content, you can take a breather by accepting guest posts instead. These posts can provide fresh knowledge and unique perspectives, and they save you a lot of time and effort.

Of course, you can always reciprocate and it benefits you as well if you’re sending post contributions to other blogs. Your posts can display your expertise for a new set of audience, and you can post a link that can lead your readers directly into your own blog.

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

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Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

The cost of software development kills innovation by limiting resources available to solve problems

THE PRODUCTIVITY DILEMMA

Let’s face it – software development is expensive.  Really expensive.  It’s not hard to understand why – software development is a complicated and still-maturing industry, and as the sector grows, it actually gets more complicated, not less, because of the acceleration of changes in technologies, programming languages, and toolsets.

As a technology consultant, one who is paid to help build expensive, complex systems, I should be happier than a fanboy on a Fortnite bender about this trend, right?  Wrong – it frustrates me a great deal.  My job is to solve problems and build things that people need, and that gets harder when funding becomes a challenge for our clients.

So here’s the question I’ve been grappling with – how can we make software development more productive to reduce costs?

There are lots of things our industry has done over the preceding decades to tackle this problem:

  • Developed working methodologies to build repeatable practices – Waterfall, Unified Process, Agile, XP, etc.
  • Created design patterns to solve common problems – MVC, SOLID, GoF, and many others
  • Leveraged lower cost resources through offshoring

None of these have been a panacea.  Look at any enterprise and you’ll find competing for SDLC methodologies, loose adherence to design practices, and the common efficiency roadblocks due to offshoring.  While these efforts have been helpful in managing cost, it is very difficult to measure the effect they have really had.

MEASURING PRODUCTIVITY

What to do, then?  More than anything, the focus of productivity has to start with the most human element of all – the individual developer herself.  The focus has to be on how to increase the speed that a developer can turn a designed solution into working code with as few errors as possible.

Anyone who has been in the software industry knows there are broad ranges in developers’ productivity.   It depends on the individual’s ability to understand programming theory, their educational background, years of experience, a personal situation at the time, how much Fortnite they play, etc.

Why is this important?  Quite simply, time is money.  The longer it takes a developer to code a solution, the more it costs.  In today’s environment of nearly full employment, demand for software developers has never been higher, which brings a lot of varied talent into the picture to meet the demand.  Anyone who has hired a developer knows the productivity gap I’m talking about – hiring is an expensive proposition and no matter how much interviewing you do, and you’re never sure what sort of productivity you’ll get until that person gets to work.

Why is measuring productivity so hard?  Because a good measurement involves an apples-to-apples comparison between developers, yet they will almost never complete the same task to produce the same set of code.  Since every development task is different, we cannot establish a baseline for how long it SHOULD take to perform a task versus how long it WILL take a specific developer.  Throw in each person’s differing levels of experience, education, and general abilities with the discipline, and…you get the picture.

Does that mean we’re stuck with technical interviews, coding tests, and answered prayers to create a team of highly productive software engineers?  Not quite.  Agile practices give us an opportunity to solve the biggest challenge in measuring developer productivity – creating a baseline to measure the variance between the estimated and actual time to perform a coding task.

HOW IT WORKS

Every ALM tool – Jira, or otherwise – allows a Scrum team to create story sub-tasks during their planning sessions.  Usually, a developer assigned to a sub-task has an opportunity to estimate the time it should take to complete that task, measured in hours.  During the sprint, developers can then track the actual hours spent so the team can evaluate the variance between estimated and actual hours.

This variance isn’t particularly helpful as a productivity metric because the individual developer may be much faster or slower than the average, and their estimations likely reflect this bias.

The solution to this problem is to have all the developers on the Scrum team estimate each subtask duration, creating a proxy baseline and a more reasonable expectation of the task’s duration.  Then, once a task is assigned to the individual developer, the variance calculations can start to have some meaning.

What meaning are we to glean from this variance? When looking at large sets of variances (hundreds or thousands of tasks over multiple projects), we can observe patterns in individual developers’ productivity.  If they consistently take longer to complete a task than the established baseline, we can look more deeply at the data to find root causes and potential remediations.  Is there a skills mismatch, allocation mismatch, or something else?  Does the developer need more pair programming or training in specific areas?

If a developer consistently performs tasks in less time than the estimations, we have hard metrics to reward that individual and encourage continued productivity.  We can also look at the data to see how we might have other developers emulate good behaviors from these high performers.

IMPLICATIONS

I know I know – I can hear the complaints now.  A small group of 2-4 developers on a Scrum team estimating a task cannot be used as a valid baseline, you say.  It’s a fair point, but any leftover estimation bias from a small sample size of developers would be offset by the volume of variance data we would collect.  As a manager, I care more about the variance trends and less about the exactness of anyone variance calculation.

But wait, you say.  All of this supposes a developer will be truthful in reporting their actual duration on a task.  People lie to themselves and others all the time (just read “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz) – if a developer knows they’ll be measured on variance, they’ll manipulate their actuals to improve their perceived productivity.

Again, fair point, but there is a self-policing solution to this problem.  An employee is generally expected to work 8 hours a day.  If a developer consistently under-reports their actual durations on a task, it would appear they were consistently working less than they should be.

Say a developer is assigned two 4-hour tasks, and he takes 1 day to complete both but only reports 2 hours of actual duration for each task.  We would see a report that shows him only working 4 hours that day.  With enough data points, we could easily spot a trend of under-reporting and take corrective action.

CONCLUSION

Why is all of this important?  As individuals, not just employees, we should all strive to improve ourselves every day.  That’s how society is supposed to work – we do things, we make mistakes, we learn from them and we grow in the process.  But we can’t improve what we can’t measure.  The method I describe is very easy to implement, as long as your team is following the Scrum ceremonies.  With simple metrics and trend analysis, maybe we can finally solve a difficult problem and leave ourselves more time to knock a few more things of that ever-growing to-do list.

Chad Hahn
Author Details
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.
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Chad Hahn
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.

15 Hacks to Get More Instagram Followers

15 Hacks to Get More Instagram Followers

Discover how easy it is to increase the number of your Instagram followers.

As of June 2018, Instagram has 1 billion active users per month. That’s obviously a lot, and many companies are quite salivating over the prospect of marketing and advertising to that many people. If you can increase your Instagram followers, you can then foster a stronger community for your brand, boost the number of views on your blog and website, and increase your sales.

But how do you get more Instagram followers in the first place? You can start with these 13 effective ways. They’re super easy, but they’re sure to work!

1. Start with Liking Other People’s Pictures in Your Niche

You need to get your name out there, and this starts with liking other people’s photos. Each night finds some accounts in your niche and like at least 5 photos. You can check hashtags and check out the profiles of the followers of the most famous Instagram accounts in your niche.You can also send a real (non-fake) comment and you can give them a follow. This ought to let other Instagram users discover your account.

2. Ask Your Followers in Other Social Platforms to Follow You in Instagram

If you’re using Instagram, chances are that you’re also using other social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Don’t assume that they’re following you on Instagram too. So when you post on Facebook or put out a quick tweet, you can sometimes just encourage your followers on those platforms to follow you on Instagram too.

3. Link to Your Instagram Account on Other Platforms

It does help to have your followers on other social networking platforms to follow you on Instagram if you make it easier for them to do so. So don’t forget to put in your Instagram username in the profile section of your other social accounts. You can also just include a handy link to your Instagram account as well. That ought to work.

4. Create a Theme for Your Instagram

With the first 3 tips, you should have a fair number of people checking out your Instagram account. So your account must be good enough to hold their attention. It helps if you set up your account with a nice theme. You should have an interesting bio section as well as a neatly organized page of photos linked to a particular subject matter. Your theme should, of course, be related to your business, so that your company can grow and profit with the growth of your Instagram account followers.

5. Be More Sociable

You’ve already learned about posting genuine comments for the photos on other accounts, so that these people may notice your own account. At some point, they may visit your account and post comments on your own photos as well. When that happens, try to respond to the comments you receive. Be more sociable and authentic, instead of just posting “Thanks” for their comments. This fosters a more engaging relationship

6. Don’t Forget Your Hashtags

Lots of Instagram leaders have long known that using hashtags is one of the surest ways to gain followers. You can use up to 30 of them in your photo description, so get to it. It does help when the hashtags you choose are actually relevant to your niche, and they get a lot of interest every day. Most users tend to search photos based on the hashtags, so they’re crucial in getting your photos discovered. With lots of hashtags, you get lots of opportunities to attract attention, and you can get more likes. This can rank your photos even higher.

7. Come Up with a Unique Hashtag

While a popular hashtag is always great, a unique hashtag has its own benefits. It should have a specific purpose, and then you can ask other people to use it. This helps you build your community. Also, you can repost the photos using that unique hashtag while giving proper credit, and that means you can easily get new content for your Instagram account.

8. Brand Your Images with Your Account Username

It’s great if your followers repost your images, but it will help you a lot of these photos also feature your account username somewhere in the small text. This can entice others who see the photos to check out your account when they really like your photo.

9. Suggest Actions for Your Followers to Generate Engagements

If it’s not clear yet, when you’re in social media you should make clear what you would like your followers to do. So ask them to “like” your photo if they appreciate it. You can also ask your followers to tag a friend.

One technique for holiday goers on Instagram is to post where they are currently, and then they ask their Instagram followers to tag a specific friend that they would like to share their vacation with if they’re where you are. This can elicit lots of comments, and the tagged friends can come in and become followers on your account.

10. Geotag Your Photos

This again helps when you’re posting photos of exotic locations in your travels. Geotag those photos, and the people who use the same geotag can then see your photos. They may follow you if they have something in common with you or your location. They may have been there too, or they may be planning an upcoming visit.

11. Keep Posting What Your Followers Like Most

You need to tweak your content so that you mostly post photos they like. You can find out which of these photos are simply checking which ones have generated the most comments, likes, and tagging of friends.

12. Partner Up with Influencers in Your Niche

You can reach out to a well-known Instagram account and work together on contests and giveaways with your followers. You can also just post a photo from each other’s account so that the followers of one can learn about the other.

13. Use Paid Posting in Top Niche Accounts

Of course, for the really big guns, you can’t work with them for free. You may have to pay for them to post a photo for you in their Instagram accounts. These people tend to ask people to email them if they have “business inquiries”, and they generally mean paid to post.

Check out these 13 tips and discover why they’re so effective. They’re actually easy, but with these, you can grow your Instagram followers from a handful to a teeming horde!

14. Don’t oversell your product or service

A visual comparison is: when you date someone, you need to generate interest in the other person before ‘converting’. Same happens in social media: Customers might take a while to trust your brand in order to end up converting. For this reason, generate great engaging content and be strategic on how often you post what we call ‘aggressive call to action posts.

15. Track your performance and pivot to your best engaging practices

Instagram gives you basic reports, but growth hackers have tools to get even more out of it. Get an expert (e.g. Go Global Agency) to help you extract valuable reports from your account. Measure results and pivot if necessary. There are many variables that can be measured: engagement, audience demographics, best performing hashtags, etc.

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
×
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

Top Content Marketing Trends for 2019

Top Content Marketing Trends for 2019

Every year, different trends come and go in marketing. But classic methods don’t go away, and that includes content marketing. In fact, content marketing is growing at such a pace that experts estimate its worth will exceed $400 billion by 2021.

If you’re finally joining the content marketing bandwagon, here are some trends that you should anticipate for the coming year:

Content Marketing is Now Mainstream

It wasn’t that long ago when content marketing was considered a side project. It was something marketing pros tried out after first dealing with the more important marketing tasks.

Today, content marketing is considered one of those crucial tasks that you have to deal with. It’s now part of mainstream marketing because ignoring this facet of your marketing strategy will doom your enterprise. It’s that integral to your success.

Documented Strategies

Since content marketing has now been recognized as crucial to a marketing strategy, it will no longer suffice for marketing officials to launch content marketing strategies on the fly. This can’t be a “fly by the seat of your pants” project. It has to be carefully thought out and planned.

This is why 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. Such a carefully planned campaign can identify a key marketing goal and set up a plan to achieve that goal.

Greater Focus on Customer Success

In the old days, companies focused on making the sale and then moving onto the next sale. They dealt with complaints as they arose afterward. But today, services are much more personalized. Marketers have realized that if they wanted to forge deeper relationships with their customers and encourage them to spread news of their brand, they have to make sure that customers get full value from their money.

That’s the essence of customer success. This means that with your content, you can help customers take care of their bought products. The content can also suggest new ways of using the products.

Brands Change from Vendors to Partners

Traditional marketing has always been at the core a way to sell stuff. Modern marketing, especially content marketing, is instead about forging a partnership with customers. That’s what the content you offer should focus on. It’s not about convincing people to buy stuff from you. Instead, it’s about engaging with customers and forging a lasting and trusting relationship.

Again, this means more focus on content that covers post-sale topics. What do your customers need after buying what you’re selling? Your content should provide info that can help them with those needs so that these customers will buy from you again. They’ll also be much more likely to recommend your brand to their social circles. After all, you don’t just view them as sources of profit—you act like they’re you’re partners.

Content Distribution is Key

The best content doesn’t help your cause if no one gets to see it. That means you need to find efficient ways of spreading the word and your content. These methods include social networks, email marketing, and other distribution channels that can best reach your audience.

Also, check out 2018 Internet Trends Report From Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
×
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.