2014 was a big year for the Vero blog.
We learned a lot. A few of our posts were big hits and a few fell flat.
Below, you’ll find links to all 104 posts we published this year along with the total numbers of pageviews (as of December 15). If you have any thoughts about why some killed it and some flopped, feel free to leave a comment … we’d be curious on your take.
What We Learned in 2015
1. Bigger is (sometimes) better.
Four posts had more than 10,000 pageviews and each was greater than 2,000 words. In fact, our most popular post of the year was over 10,000 words. We’re not suggesting using more words than you need to but know that people will read longer posts if they are informative.
Check out The Ultimate Guide to Successful Email Marketing, which racked up more than 46,000 pageviews.
2. Invest in design.
We put some real effort into making our posts look great this year. We did this to enhance readability but also to let people know we’re serious about creating great content.
Check out these posts in particular:
- How Amazon Dominates E-Commerce with Email Marketing
- 20 Tips for Dramatically Better Emails
- The Complete Guide to Transactional Email
Also, user experience is SEO. Which leads us to the next point …
3. Don’t screw around with SEO.
In August, we launched a redesign of the blog. As part of the process, we changed a few URLs and added a splash page in place of the normal homepage.
That cost us 22 percent of our organic search traffic and we’re still recovering four months later.
4. Link building is king.
We invested serious time in link building this year. I’m not talking about directories and forums. I’m talking about old-school networking. And that led to some seriously awesome links. Here are a few of the best links we earned this year:
- Can Email Be Responsive? via A List Apart
- 10 Tricks to Write Radically Better Emails via Inc
- 20 Must-Reads for Aspiring Entrepreneurs via Entrepreneur
- From Zero to 35,000: How I Built A Big Email List Exclusively About Books I Liked via BetaBeat
5. Make friends.
This might seem silly but you can’t grow a blog alone. We got to know some people this year that really helped us. Sometimes that meant sharing our content but other times it meant giving us really honest (and sometimes brutal) feedback.
I can’t give you a formula for this but, in general, act like a human being and an upstanding citizen of the Internet. It goes a long way.
6. Create a swipe file.
We live and breathe the swipe file. (More on how to create one here.)
I get more email than just about anyone on Earth. That’s because I sign up for every newsletter and product possible to see what kind of emails they send me. I tag the ones that stand out then use them as examples in on the blog.
This has not only saved a ton of time but it allows us to create content with unique examples every time. We took this process to the extreme with our Amazon Email Experience post where we signed up for an account and bought things just to see what emails we’d get.
7. Be really transparent.
You don’t have to go as far as publishing employee salaries but a little transparency goes a long way.
That post racked up 38 comments, nearly 4,000 pageviews, and more than 1,200 shares. The knowledge we shared was a byproduct of our other marketing efforts. (Thanks to Jason Fried and Brian Dean for the inspiration.)
8. Try new things, even if you’re afraid they might fail.
Outside of writing blog posts, we tried a few other things:
- Hosted webinars
- Had a live Q&A calls
- Published an email course
- Guest posted (on MarketingLand, SendGrid, LemonStand, Unbounce, Boost Blog Traffic, and a few others)
- Wrote a weekly roundup (we combined all of them here)
- Interviewed smart people (like Buffer’s Courtney Seiter, Moz’s Erica McGillivray, and Mack Web’s Mackenzie Fogelson)
Some of these kicked asses, others stunk it up. We learned a few key lessons that will help guide our marketing next year.
9. Get real with your data.
It’s easy to get stuck in an analytics rut. Fight your way out … it’s so worth it!
We spent a lot of time this year getting our Google Analytics data in order. Now we have a much better handle on where newsletter subscribers and free trials convert and how they find us. It’s been an enlightening process.
We also spent a lot of time in Excel mucking around with data. For 6 months, I kept track of the number of words in each blog post to see what our readers responded to. Chris and I also collaborated on a new way to visualize email campaign data.
It was time well spent. (Read more about that here.)
10. Surround yourself with inspiring people.
When you work remotely, it can be difficult to physically surround yourself with people. As motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.”
I work with my dog mostly. She’s great but Rohn did specify people. So in addition to my co-workers, I make an effort to read a lot of inspiring articles and books. These people bring my average up.
- Jason Fried: Rework, Remote, Signal v. Noise
- Seth Godin: Seth’s Blog, a bunch of books
- Joanna Wiebe: Copyhackers
- Greg Ciotti: HelpScout, personal blog
- Alex Turnbull: Journey to $500k a Month
So, with all that said, here is all the content we published in 2014. Thanks for making it a great year, and here’s to an even better 2015.