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The Greatest CLIKKs of 2020

clikks of 2020

In Greatest CLIKKs of 2020, we’re revisiting this year’s top 30 pieces of CLIKK email content in ascending rank order. All of it is still relevant, so don’t miss out again!

On with the countdown…

3️⃣0️⃣ Six Salient Stats for Content Marketers: an Infographic

As before, we do recommend that you check out the full infographic, and if you’d prefer the CLIKK Notes, we wrote this feature unpacking the high points from the infographic. One general sentence for now: content definitely makes everything easier (both for marketers and for the customers to whom they market) and, even if you’ve known this, you just might find surprising specifics telling you why it’s true.

2️⃣9️⃣ Hacker Typer: a Tool for Trolling Passersby
This one’s just for fun, but here’s what you do. Go to a place where you’re visible to the public, or at least your cohabitants (trickier after COVID). Then open this link and just start mashing on your keyboard. It really makes no difference what you type, as long as you’re pressing buttons. It looks like this:

Hacker Typer theClikk

2️⃣8️⃣ 750 Words: a Free-Writing Platform for Thoughtful Marketers
This platform was inspired by a book called The Artist’s Way which recommends three pages of free writing per day, or roughly 750 words. True, you don’t need another word processor—but what’s refreshing about this site is its angle and attitude. It’s focused on starting the habit and helping you do it for yourself, completely removed from public view and social shareability. The whole site, interface, and dashboard (there’s a dashboard with analytics!) reflects this core purpose. The only question left is what you’ll write; it wouldn’t be ‘free writing’ if we told you what to do, but we’ll mention again that marketers need to be doing Art, and this is the perfect way to train your inner artist on a daily basis.

2️⃣7️⃣ Social Media Examiner: 8 Instagram Story Hacks
The sharp tacks at Social Media Examiner have put together eight hacks for Instagram Stories, and they’re worth checking out whether you’re on social for business or socializing as yourself. Some of the hacks are just fun polish (like a custom “halo” effect), but a couple would be really good for engagement (like stories you tap to unfold) and a couple others will help you deploy custom effects a lot faster (check out #6).

2️⃣6️⃣ Saving Benjamin Lite: Identify Negative Keywords and Save $$
If you’re using Google Search Ads, check this out: it’s a free tool from Seer Interactive called Saving Benjamin Lite. You upload your Search Query Report (SQR) into the tool and it spits back the irrelevant keywords that are costing you money and trashing your ROI. Take that list of naughty keywords and add them as Negative Keywords so they’re excluded and BOOM! You are saving yourself (or your client/business) some Benjamins!

2️⃣5️⃣ Moz: How to Create a Useful, SEO-Optimized FAQ Page
When you think about it, SEO and FAQs should be BFFs. But seriously: an FAQ page (done well) is loaded with exactly the kind of stuff Google and their searchers like to find.

Unfortunately, there are two common issues here. First, a lot of people don’t have FAQ pages; exactly why, we can’t say, but it’s a lost opportunity for passive sales and to eliminate the tickets asking those exact questions (over and over again). Second and separately: those who do have FAQ pages often haven’t optimized those pages for SEO, perhaps not realizing that FAQ pages contain a veritable treasure chest of Google-friendly info which could draw organic traffic to your site.

Check out this article from Moz on creating and optimizing an FAQ page; it’ll start you at the beginning if you don’t have one (and you can scroll down to optimization if you do).

2️⃣4️⃣ Wistia: Setting Up a DIY Office Video Studio
You don’t ultimately need that much to set up a DIY video studio, and it doesn’t need to be terribly complicated… but if you don’t already know how to do it (and you’re green with all this video stuff, maybe because COVID), this quick guide from Wistia will point you in the right direction.

Backdrop, lights, sound, and (keep it ready for) action!

2️⃣3️⃣ “I Miss The Office” Interactive White-Noise Generator
If you need some background noise but you’re tired of trying to remix train tracks and rainfall, take a look at this website. It’s meant to mimic the whole office experience in your ears, including people talking, phones going off, somebody sniffing and maybe chomping gum… you get it. It’s chill.

Also, not gonna lie, it’s kind of fun to play with (and mesmerizing to watch while you’re on phone calls). Even better: you can adjust the number of co-workers in this virtual office AND you can mix in other office sounds by clicking on certain objects in view. Neat!

Interactive White-Noise Generator theClikk


2️⃣2️⃣ The Top 10 YouTube Ads in 2020 So Far [at That Time]
We’re not sure if we did a good job presenting the material or if y’all just wanted an excuse to watch YouTube views, but this piece got a metric s**tload of clicks in total.

Looking back, we realize that the content has aged remarkably well, despite its glaring timestamp, because what these ads get right has very, very little to do with the trends of this (or any particular) year. To copypasta the emojified summary from the end of the article:


TL;DR 💥 Start fast. No, faster. 👥 Know, identify, and fit to your audience (however broad or specific). 📝 Use sharp copy to introduce the ad and to speak directly, even bluntly, to your target audience. 🎥 Show people the product. Let them picture it. Make it seem idiot-proof. 💚 When possible, let your audience (or ideally, customers) speak for you.

2️⃣1️⃣ Social Media Examiner: 6 Useful Tools to Create Square Videos
Square videos with text and graphic overlays have become more and more of a social-media staple, but you don’t need to be a video production pro to pull off the look. In fact, you can build a killer square video using only simple tools like Canva, PowerPoint or Keynote, and your smartphone. It’s hip to be square… here’s how to make it happen.

2️⃣0️⃣ How to Steal Traffic Back from Google’s Zero-Click Searches
Zero-click search has been a thing for a while now; in fact, we originally published at greater length on this subject at the very beginning of January. Still, this source article from Search Engine Journal is one of those rare long-form pieces which fully develops and illustrates its purpose, all in a readable and conversational tone.

It seemed newsier at the beginning of this year, but it’s retained value well for two reasons. One: what was previously “newsy” is now a sound, clear contextual primer in the subject (namely, Google zero-click search and how it can hamstring organic traffic for players large and small). Two: towards the end, the article points you in three practical directions which still remain sound to this day.

1️⃣9️⃣ Six Upselling Tactics to Steal from Amazon
The Jeff Bezos empire has mastered the art of getting customers to buy more, sooner, and again—and a lot of their tactics are hidden in plain sight, especially if you’re accustomed to Amazon shopping. This article from Jeff Bullas (weirdly similar names, right?) puts six of them back into focus for you.

Here’s the thing we hope you’ll remember: there is absolutely zero reason not to copycat Amazon if one of their ideas might serve you. This is what we mean when we say that great marketers steal. And the nice thing about stealing ideas from players as big as Amazon is that there are plenty of ideas waiting to be found on their sites once you know what you’re seeking.

1️⃣8️⃣ the Facebook Ad Library
Speaking of all great marketers being thieves: friends, allow us to (re)share the ultimate treasure trove of Facebook ads for your swiping pleasure.

How ‘ultimate’ are we talking? Ummm… how about, like, seven MILLION Facebook ads? (Don’t worry. Nothing sketchy. It’s run by Facebook, so go knock yourself out.)

⚠️ Pro Tip (and Not a Moment Too Soon): Use the Facebook Ad Library to find coupon codes. Just search for the brand/store where you’re shopping and look for the clearly-visible coupon codes. Even if a code ‘should’ have expired, there’s a surprisingly good chance it wasn’t set to expire or just never got turned off. (Can confirm, used to run e-commerce operations.)

1️⃣7️⃣ ClickUp Will Throw Down with Your Other Apps
Now here is a tool that makes a pretty bold and heady claim: that it can replace virtually all of your work apps with just one. On their homepage, in the Features section, they directly call out competitors—a LOT of them, and some big ones—to say “oh yeah, ClickUp can replace this too.” If you’re not intrigued yet, they swear it’s Free Forever without a credit card. 😳

You should take a look even if you’re not interested in using their app, since they get a bunch of things right selling the product on their website. And it’s definitely kinda funny to see someone logo-drop a bunch of big companies (like they’re trappings or credentials) while challenging all of those same companies to a fight.

1️⃣6️⃣ Remove.bg Removes Your Big Background Problems
If you create content for the web, you’ve likely needed to remove the background from an image at one time or another. If not, carry on. If so, you need to bookmark this free tool. It’s called removebg and it does just one thing: remove the background from images. And there it is! Carrying on.

1️⃣5️⃣ There’s Nothing Like SimilarWeb for Webpage Recon
Imagine you’re browsing the web, and all of a sudden you’re like: I wonder how much traffic this spot gets. Followed immediately by: sigh, I guess that kind of info is beyond my reach. You might not have to ‘imagine’ this at all.

What if we told you that, with the right teeny free thingy, you could just click a button and immediately see an analytics sidebar for any webpage in front of you? Trick question, because that is exactly what you can do with SimilarWeb once you have their Chrome extension installed. You will feel like a spy, but this isn’t a Bourne or Bond movie; this is real life, we promise.

Full depth and breadth of analytic data requires an Enterprise plan, but Free users get web traffic and engagement reports for as many sites as they like!

1️⃣4️⃣ Much Ado About ‘About Us’ Pages
The ‘About’ or ‘About Us’ page gets a lot of traffic on most websites, but it’s also one of the most neglected pages. It’s neglected for two reasons: one, (re-)building the page can feel daunting, and two, the task can seem important but it never seems urgent. Give your About page some love! To learn how, check out this extremely thorough article from Coschedule (about 10 minutes to read). There are 45 examples you can swipe from, and you can grab their winning ‘About Us’ template in exchange for your email address.

1️⃣3️⃣ Top Ten Social-Media Trends Predicted for 2021
Notice that we’re talking about next year and NOT the year which is (thank God) about to end. This one is the “youngest” of 2020’s Greatest CLIKKs.

Anyhow. We do want to raise our glass again to Social Media Today for this pleasant article slash infographic delivering the goods. To sample from those Top Ten predicted trends:


#7 — Nostalgia Marketing Will Engage Your Audience
#5 — The Line Between Social Media and Gaming Will Blur
#4 — Old-School Marketing Will Be the New ‘New’

1️⃣2️⃣ Really Good Emails
No, no — that’s the name of the site. It’s an entire website of… well, exactly what it says.

To be a little more specific: Really Good Emails is a curated collection of emails that shows off both the design AND the code for each email, so that you can swipe the bits and pieces you like. There are a lot of treasures here from the world’s top companies in e-commerce, software, and just about any other vertical you could think of.

How big a collection are we talking? Well… at this writing, in December 2020, their curated collection had almost 7,000 emails. So you’re bound to find something for that next email marketing campaign!

1️⃣1️⃣ Sumo’s 80 Best Subject Lines (and Then Some)
We’ve said it (many times) before and we’ll say it (many times) again: all great marketers are thieves. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel or say something “completely original.” They find things that work and they use them.

In that spirit: this article from Sumo is a treasure trove for email marketers who need help with subject lines (which, frankly, is probably most of us). The content is well-presented and rich in detail: each of the 80 subject lines comes with formula and examples, and they’re sorted into the five most common types of emails that businesses send: Content Promotion, Sales, Cold, Follow-Up, and Transactional. You can get a bonus ‘Email Subject Line Formulas Worksheet’ in exchange for your email, but we didn’t even bother looking because there’s so much juice right there on the page.

1️⃣0️⃣ WTH is Google Advanced Search?
We spent a week of hot July Shoptalk covering Google Advanced Search and its useful tool belt of operators. You can read the whole thing here.

For here and now, a curt roadmap:
👉 Google Advanced Search exists.
👍 You can type Advanced Search stuff into regular Google.
👌 This means you can find, filter, and fix f**k-ups in a flash.
🧨 Boom goes the dynamite.

0️⃣9️⃣ Moz’s Local SEO Cheat Sheet
First, just to make sure everyone’s on the same page: Local SEO is basically
just location-sensitive SEO, i.e. optimizing your webpages to compete well for geographically-constrained search terms. One example would be an auto-body repair shop which can only serve people in its immediate geographic area. Local SEO would be important both (A) to compete well for business in that area, which is its only source of customers, and (B) to minimize the marketing dollars wasted on people who are too far away.

Whew! Now to the good stuff: Moz’s five-page Local SEO Cheat Sheet! It’s clean, concise, well-organized, and loaded with info (most of which is evergreen). You can use this for your own marketing purposes OR you could adapt and re-purpose it as a Local SEO Audit for marketing clients!

0️⃣8️⃣ Hubspot’s Guide to Elevator Pitches
I have no idea who you are or why I should care. Change my mind in 30 seconds or less. Go.

Nobody (human) would say the exact words above, but that’s one way of describing a type of moment in your professional life—a testing moment when you’ll want your Elevator Pitch ready.

If you try to do one cold, without any prep or guidance, you’re probably not gonna stick the landing. More likely, it’ll resemble last year’s holiday-party toast (improvised with two martinis and an empty stomach).

So check out this Hubspot guide on the subject! It starts with some general questions to keep in mind, then tells you what NOT to do, then gets to the real booty: 10 elevator-pitch types, complete with examples and analysis. ⬆️

0️⃣7️⃣ Hootsuite’s Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet
We ran 3-4 posts like this over the course of 2020, and all of them got a lot of clicks. This tells us (A) that y’all do find this type of information useful, but also (B) that this information ages very poorly and needs to be refreshed regularly, perhaps multiple times per year.

Then again, maybe not. Not if you have this Google Sheet bookmarked.

It’s Hootsuite’s Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet. It’s a simple, well-organized (view-only) Google Sheet and they update it in place whenever things change. The “homepage” tells you how to get notifications whenever the Sheet is updated so that you can adjust your social assets as needed.

For what it’s worth: we think this is the bonus you get from signing up on Hootsuite’s 2021 Cheat-Sheet page (the blue box just above this heading). We had the link bookmarked a long while back, so we’re grandfathered in. Our copy of the ‘key’ should get you in the back door without issue. 😉

0️⃣6️⃣ How to Find and Use Free Fonts
This was a three-parter we ran back in August, and it almost slipped past our Greatest CLIKKs review… no single link in the piece got earth-shattering clicks, but there was a TON of engagement with all the links taken together.

We’ll give ourselves this much credit: the title we wrote is already the best summary we could think to provide (in so many words). Carry on!   

0️⃣5️⃣ Marketing Examples… is a Place
If you’re fishing for case studies, success stories, growth strategies, cold-email samples—any sort of, ahem, marketing examples—then you’ll want to check out Marketing Examples.

Three things to do right from the homepage! First, they have 13 categories for your browsing pleasure, everything from Giveaways to Pricing to SEO to PPC. Second, they have some live content-aggregation features so that you’re looking at fresh pieces each time you come back—and third, each piece of content is tagged further so that you can explore particular themes (e.g. Coronavirus) and dig deeper into specific brands (e.g. Apple).  

0️⃣4️⃣ Moz’s WebDev SEO Cheat Sheet
You need to bring a printed copy of this Moz cheat sheet to every web developer in your life. Also, bring them a pastry. They like pastries.

Oh, and you’ll probably need to bring some Scotch tape or Velcro strips or Command hooks or whatever… the point is for them to keep this cheat sheetwithin reach and they probably don’t have any of those handy.

Right! The cheat sheet. It’s super neat-and-tidy and stuffed with useful info like the correct lengths for metadata (like the title tag), correct syntax for tags like the canonical tag, and code snippets for structured data—plus links to learn more if needed. It’s super solid.

(We’re hosting the PDF on our own site because our original Moz bookmark was broken and we couldn’t find a replacement link for the same content.)

Okay, let’s review: Printed Copy of This Cheat Sheet, Pastry, and Your Choice of Close-Proximity Stowage Apparatus for the dev. Got it? Mmmkay then.


0️⃣3️⃣ The Greatest Sales Deck Ever

If you’ve ever had to market or sell anything, this article from Andy Raskin is easily worth ten minutes of your time. In fact, it might increase the value of all your other work time!

A while back, one of Raskin’s friends reached out to him for help. The friend was a good salesman, but he’d taken a new position and his pitch was falling flat. So to help, Raskin met him for lunch and gave him a walkthrough of The Greatest Sales Deck He’d Ever Seen (which was from Zuora, a SaaS platform for subscription billing). 

The article is structured around the 5 Elements of a Brilliant Sales Narrative:

1️⃣ Name a Big, Relevant Change in the World
2️⃣ Show There’ll Be Winners and Losers
3️⃣ Tease the Promised Land
4️⃣ Introduce Features as “Magic Gifts” for Overcoming Obstacles
5️⃣ Present Evidence that You Can Make The Story Come True

Since you’ve got the roadmap, we’ll end this preview anticipating an editorial question which might eventually cross your mind: Where is the actual deck of which Raskin speaks? His Zuora connection requested that he not share the original deck—a small tragedy—but Raskin replaced the necessary slides/imagery so well that we didn’t feel the deck’s absence from the article.


0️⃣2️⃣ The Magic Email

We heard whispers. Rumors. Mist-shrouded legends of an email message so powerful, it could get a response even from “dead” prospects.

You think you’ve sent some good follow-ups before. But this…

… this is one email to rule them all.

The Magic Email is just one sentence — a mere seventeen words — and its creator claims that the Magic Email receives at least a 50% response rate. Which, for the record, is incredible if true. (Can we get some science in here?)

Before you worry that this ‘Magic Email’ is just troll’s bait (designed to get responses but not real results), the creator adds that responses to the Magic Email are usually positive! 😲

You might think: One does not simply end an email after one sentence.

But you might think wrong. After all, the Magic Email is pretty easy to try, and you might not have much to lose by trying. Read those 17 words and you’ll feel some of its Jedi mind-trick power. (Wrong reference, but you get it.)
FYI: The mind-trick is actually a persuasion principle called ‘Commitment and Consistency’ which we covered second in this series.


0️⃣1️⃣ David Frey’s 12-Step Sales Letter

This year’s Gold Medalist didn’t win by a landslide (that would imply too little of the competition), but it was a decisive victory through all of our standards…
👁 Several boatloads of y’all clicked the link
🔥 A large proportion of y’all clicked more than once
💯 It’s frickin’ amazing content
🔂 Russ talks about it a lot
💭 We can’t help but refer to it often

So, ladies and gentlemen, allow us to formally (re-)introduce 2020’s Greatest CLIKKs Gold Medalist: David Frey’s 12-Step Sales Letter.

It’s only two pages long. Print it. Read it. Read it again. Print it again. Give it to someone you want to succeed. Read it again. Drink some egg nog. Be merry.

Until then, we’ll offer you two handy nuggets. First, Frey’s 12 steps:

I. Get Attention
II. Identify the Problem
III. Provide the Solution
IV. Present your Credentials
V. Show the Benefits
VI. Give Social Proof
VII. Make Your Offer
VIII. Give a Guarantee
IX. Inject Scarcity
X. Call to Action
XI. Give a Warning
XII. Close with a Reminder

Second: if you want to see it in action, you need only re-read Russ’s sales letter for the Words That Sell workshop. There are a couple of small deviations—as is often sensible or necessary—but otherwise, he’s applying Frey’s formula and he’s far from the first (or last) to do so.

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