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How to Be an Efficient & Effective Marketer

As a marketer, you're an extremely busy person. In fact, your hair has already settled in small clumps on the floor after a glance at your task list made you pull it all out.

Hopefully you can take some comfort in this: you're not alone.

These days, marketers need to be responsible for traffic generation, website upkeep, blogging, social media publishing and monitoring, lead generation, email blasts, event marketing, ... I could keep going, but you get the picture.

So how is a marketer to juggle all this on top of meetings, monthly reporting, hiring (or lack thereof), and somehow manage to get home in time for dinner?

Work/Life Balance is something that's incredibly important to me, and there are some specific time-management tactics I use that help me be efficient at my job, and let me handle all the tasks involved with generated business for YAC with time to spare to write blog posts, too.

1) Use data to determine your next projects and priorities.

Your time is limited, so you should choose projects that can make the biggest impact for your company. Reporting day might be your most dreaded day of the month, but it's important to know how your marketing efforts have paid off -- or could use additional improvements.

Here are some examples of trends you might see in your data, and projects that can help you improve those numbers.

  • You're getting followers on Twitter, but website traffic has dipped. If your website visitors are more high-quality than Twitter followers, refocus your efforts on blogging and content creation. Then share each post on Twitter to drive followers to your site.
  • Your blog traffic has skyrocketed, but lead generation remained flat. Add calls-to-action to each of your blog posts so you can drive some of that blog traffic to your landing pages.
  • Your lead gen from paid search has increased, but costs are through the roof. Make sure each ad leads to a highly-optimized landing page with a high quality score to ensure a high ROI.

2) Run big A/B tests, not just incremental A/B tests.

Running an A/B test will help you determine which of two variations of a marketing asset will perform better, such as a landing page, call-to-action, or email. According to many "best practices" you'll read online, your variant should only have one element that's different from your control. For example, you should test your headline OR color scheme OR form length.

I say, GO ALL IN. If you want to find variations that are going to make a huge impact on your clickthrough rate or conversion rate, you need to make some big changes. Don't be afraid to run big tests.

3) Create lists of content ideas.

The problem with brainstorming is that it often takes a while to get the juices flowing. If you get a couple-hour block of time to work on creating some content and you don't have any ideas ready-to-go, you'll waste a lot of that time staring at a blank screen and trying to think of what to write.

Make the most of your brainstorms by writing down all the different ideas you come up with, instead of just using one idea, going with it, and forgetting the rest.

Or you can jot a few of your ideas on a whiteboard. Whatever works for you!

4) Get a head start with free resources.

Whether you're creating a new ebook, coding a new website page, or designing a call-to-action button, you often don't need to reinvent the wheel. There are tons of free templates, graphics, and HTML/CSS code out there on the web that people generously give away. Use them.

What matters is that the content you're creating is unique to your business and helps your audience solve their specific problems. The design of your ebook or how long it took you to create a graphic doesn't really matter to your prospects.

Feel free to Google for resources -- there's so much out there.

5) Use proven time-saving tricks.

There are a few general productivity hacks that can save you lots of time -- time that you can spend doing tasks that will make the biggest impact on your goals. Here are some of the best:

Limit interruptions. Keep your email inbox closed when cranking on a big project. Only check it a few times a day instead of every ten seconds (you know you're guilty of it).

Cut meeting length. If you have 1-hour meetings on your calendar, cut them to 1/2 hour. Cut 1/2 hour meetings to fifteen minutes. Faster meetings are more productive meetings, and they'll get you back to your desk more quickly.

Wear headphones. Wear them even if you don't listen to music. This way people will be more hesitant to interrupt you if they can visibly tell you're in the zone.

Block Out Time on your Calendar. If you see a four-hour free block of time later in the week, literally block that time in your calendar so you can crank away on work. Better yet, instead of creating one solid four-hour block, create four one-hour blocks so people don't see through your strategy and book time with you anyway.

Sign off from your instant messaging client. Or make yourself invisible or mark yourself as "busy" to keep people from bothering you.

6) Eliminate repetition.

Everyone needs to deal with tedious tasks as part of their day-to-day jobs, whether it's monthly reporting, responding to questions via email, or simply accessing a dashboard each day. Set up systems to ensure that these tasks take as little time as possible.

Set up bookmarks. My browser bookmarks bar spans the entire length of my monitor, and it saves me so much time each day. I've bookmarked things like my YAC login screen, tracking URL builder, important Salesforce reports, A/B test significance calculator, ebook cover templates site, and more. Do an occasional cleanup of your bookmarks bar and get rid of anything you don't regularly click on.

Set up E-mail canned responses. If you find that you're getting a lot of the same questions over and over via email, save your response as a canned response. This way you can reply to the email in a single click instead of typing out the response every time.

Save your passwords. Use a browser plugin like LastPass to save your passwords or use a single sign-on password, or keep an Evernote file with all the username/passwords you use (use good judgment here, of course -- you might not want to save bank passwords using this method). This way you don't have to jog your memory or use the "Forgot Password?" tool each time you need to log in somewhere.

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