If you’re like me and are interested in a wide spectrum of digital marketing areas, you may be familiar with some of what I’m going to recommend. If, on the other hand, you’re a die-hard fan of just 5 blogs and only read those blogs every day, you’re going to find your reading very limited.
We know that in our industry it’s important to keep your eye on the ball in terms of developments and updates, but we also know that the path to becoming more well-rounded marketers involves continual up-skilling and thinking beyond our day-to-day roles onto the wider marketing fields.
I came to work on the agency side of things 18 months ago, and realised how limited my experience and knowledge of the wider world of marketing across the verticals was. I’ve also had to learn a whole new range of skills from the ground up. With this in mind, I have been developing an ever-evolving list of blogs, dailies, tools, guides and tutorials that I use to keep up with what others are doing and to help in my personal development as a search marketer. These happen to be incredibly varied and I’m always looking for recommendations, as you never know what you’ll discover next!
For ‘out-there’ content inspiration:
Mcsweeneys Internet Tendency
The provider of many of my muffled laughs in the White.net office, this is where I go for some literary light entertainment and inspiration. Granted, your new client’s topic of choice probably wont be featured here, but there’s such a variety of writing styles and genres that you’re bound to find a quip or angle that will inspire future content creation or may even be the onus for a whole campaign.
For philosophies and user-centred deep thoughts:
A multi-author blog, curated by Fabricio Teixeira. Mostly in Portuguese, but with a fair bit of English thrown in, this gem of a blog features posts on the emotions and feelings behind user decisions, mobile UX, recommended readings and the occasional rap video (yes really.)
For even more thorough site audits:
User Effect’s 25 Point Website Usability Checklist
Covering off the most basic usability points, this checklist helps you to check those most important functions and sticking points for users. Add it to your site checklist to make you site audits even better.
If you’re completely new to code:
This is a great little site by Virginia native Marie Mosley. She provides practical and step-by-step tutorials on making small changes to blog sites. It a great introduction to code, even if you just want to be able to understand it, and offers tips on getting to grips with html and css changes, as well as how to write and test changes. It’s great for people who learn by experimenting. Marie is good fun on twitter too: @MMosely
For news on what those cool kids in advertising have come up with:
Where advertising meets digital marketing. Keep in touch with the latest virals, innovative and integrated campaign news. Great for examples of how companies are using social media channels effectively, as well as cross-channel integration and the new features on social media.
For examples to back you up in your work:
Which Test Won? is a premium access tool, but sign up for their free weekly emails and soon you’ll have a library of great A/B test examples you can show to clients at relevant times to convince them that their ‘Sign Me Up!’ button really does need to be bigger.
For checking the need for speed:
An easy to use, free tool that brings together page speed reports, YSlow and recommendations, plus a great comparison element that is useful for showing clients why their website needs to be faster than their competitors.
The PRO version lets you track and monitor your sites, and alerts you when something bad happens. It also keeps a history of each site, so you can compare load times over time and across site changes.
For quick mock-ups and examples:
Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to show what you mean rather than using a page of text to explain yourself. Balsamiq let you do this in an idiot proof way. If you’re not going to be using this too often, the free web app is good enough, but for saving, exporting and better features, try the paid desktop app version.
For guidance on making your life simpler:
Luke Master’s How to Use SEOTools for Excel
The SEOTools for Excel extension is great, so making the most out of it seems like a pretty good idea and will save you a lot of time when doing everyday tasks. Luke’s guide gives a great overview of how to utilise the basic and most commonly used features of the extension. It’s basically an Idiots Guide, but it’s a great place to start because it’s so simple. Once you’ve mastered the basics, tool creator Niels Bosma has a comprehensive list of functions here to try.
Disclaimer: reading Luke’s guide won’t stop Excel from crashing, no matter how much you’d like it to.
So there you have it, just a portion of the sites and tools that I find most useful. It’s a random list, but one that I find invaluable. I’ll be adding to my list over the coming months and would love to hear your recommendations for other invaluable resources or tools. Speak to me in the comments below, or tweet me @alex_cestrian
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