Top 10 Blog Posts of 2014: A Look Back at Act-On’s Most Popular Content

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Best of 2014 - The year in reviewThere’s a reason so many writers crank out lists of the top blog posts/books/articles/whatever from the past year. For one thing, it’s a great way to recycle articles and blog posts. Another reason is even simpler: People like to read lists. But there’s an even more important reason to look back at the content we’ve created during the last year: we want to figure out what resonated with our audiences (and what didn’t) so we can plan out the topics we’ll cover in the future. So what were the top 10 blog posts of 2014? Let’s take a look.

7 Call to Action Strategies: Tips and Advice

Janelle Johnson’s post on creating a compelling call to action was the most viewed blog post published in 2014, and with good reason. A strong call to action can make all the difference in a piece of content, whether it’s in an email, a landing page, text message, social media post, or anywhere else you’re promoting your brand. After all, the best, most persuasive message and the most tantalizing offer don’t mean much if your prospect doesn’t know what to do next. It can be difficult to get the right combination of words, design, and placement together, but these tips can help you get better results from the calls to action you create.

Chrome-Number-287 New (Really) Marketing Automation Stats

This post has been a continual favorite, proving once again that numbers matter. The idea for the post sprang from the fact that we all see statistics every day – and some of us quote them on a regular basis – and yet, some of the data we’re citing is a bit behind the times. To be sure, old data doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate. But since digital marketing is such a fast-moving discipline, data points that are over two years old can seem ancient; those of us with the responsibility of creating marketing collateral and content need to make sure our numbers add up – and that they’re up to date. The popularity of this post prompted us to release a Fast Facts data sheet with all the latest marketing automation statistics compiled for your reference. And by the way, both the blog post and the data sheet were recently updated to include even newer numbers.

Chrome-Number-312 Tips for Amazingly Effective Email Subject Lines

This post focuses on building better subject lines – a vital part of every successful email campaign. Like the call to action, the subject line is a real workhorse. Because no one will ever see your extraordinary email – much less click on it – if they don’t bother to open it. And a bang-up subject line is a great way to make that happen. Most marketers believe  subject lines should be short and benefit-focused. But is that really true for your audience? Should you use ALL CAPS? What about personalization? Are there special considerations for mobile devices? The devil is in the details. Read the post to get answers to these questions and much more.

Chrome-Number-412 SEO Experts Weigh In on SEO 2014 Predictions

Search engine optimization (SEO) can be a challenge, particularly because it’s such a dynamic field. With the rules (and algorithms) changing all the time, how can you hope to keep up? In this guest post by Kaila Strong from Vertical Measures, you can get insights from a dozen well-regarded experts in the industry. How well do their predictions stack up so far? Read on to find out!

Chrome-Number-57 Steps to Defining a Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL)

Successful lead management can be quite difficult, especially when marketing and sales are trying to keep the pipeline filled. What does it take to make sure your leads are ready to move forward in the sales funnel? First, you need to understand the journey your prospects make, from becoming marketing-qualified leads to sales-accepted leads to sales-qualified leads. This post outlines the seven steps that can help you get it right.

Chrome-Number-6Drip Marketing 101: Benefits and Best Practices

Drip marketing means sending messages in a certain rhythm. It can be quite effective for keeping your brand top of mind … as long as you get the cadence right. For example, if you deliver a message too soon (or too frequently), your prospect may not be ready to act. But if you’re too late, they may have already purchased from the competition. Take a look at 10 best practices for developing drip campaigns that keep prospects and customers engaged – one drip at a time.

Chrome-Number-73 Steps to Help You Find the Best Time to Send Email Messages

Speaking of making sure your message arrives at the right moment, here’s a blog post that’s all about email timing. Mornings or evenings? Mondays or Fridays? These are the kinds of questions that keep marketers awake at night. There are no simple answers, but there are some best practices that can help you figure out what timing works best for your specific audience.

Forrester Research, Inc. Benchmark Report: How Top Marketers Do Lead Generation, Part 1

Any time you get expert insights from a highly regarded source like Forrester Research, people listen. In this post, the first of a two-part series, you can find key takeaways from a report that studied the habits of top-performing marketers. Part one focuses on the different ways top performing marketers approach the sales funnel – take a look, and discover what sets these leaders apart from the rest.

Chrome-Number-93 Best Practices for Creating a Lead Scoring Matrix

Here’s another post about lead management – specifically lead scoring. It’s a concept that seems simple on the surface. All you’re doing is qualifying leads based on who they are and how they engage with your brand, right? But it’s a process that can get complex in a hurry. Lead scoring helps sales and marketing segment and categorize leads and determine where they are in the buying cycle. Done right, it can also provide valuable insight into what they’re interested in and how best to connect with them in order to get them to buy.  A lead scoring matrix can help you define, create, visualize, and measure your lead scoring process. Go ahead – step into the matrix and see just how far down the rabbit hole goes.

Chrome-Number-10Top Online Marketing Power Words (Hint: Free Is King)

Words are powerful, and as content creators, it’s up to us to use them wisely. Some words and phrases should be avoided for a variety of reasons. Hackneyed clichés might be easy to fall back on, but they can make your audience tune you out. Edgy slang might make you feel hip, but some terms may be inappropriate in a professional setting. And if you’re writing for a global audience and your content will be translated into a different language, metaphor-rich phrasing should be used with care. Check out this blog post to learn about six “power words” that are likely to resonate with your audience no matter what industry you’re in.

And Now for Some Trendspotting

Okay, so did you spot the most obvious trend in these blog posts? It’s hard to miss. As I mentioned before, people really like numbered lists. It turns out we “turned that up to eleven” in 2014. Nine of the top ten blog posts published during the last year all had numbered lists in them, and nine out of ten had numerals right in the title.

Another thing that jumps out is that people want actionable tips they can use right away. Whether it’s creating potent calls to action, writing catchy subject lines, or finding powerful words and phrases, our readers are looking for specific content-creation help. SEO is also a big topic (and will continue to be in 2015, no doubt). And many readers are looking for assistance when it comes to managing, nurturing, scoring, and qualifying leads.

So tell us … what else did you find to be useful, interesting, valuable, or even annoying in the Marketing Action blog over the past year? Let us know – because we’re always listening.