The internet is always changing and I am always learning, so everything I do at Red Cup is a case study. Here’s how it works.

Before I recommend an app to clients, I test it on myself. That’s how I first learned about Outbrain to propagate links. It’s why I stopped using Outbrain when I learned that they sometimes posted my links on hate sites. They were using programmatic placements, not humans, to decide where to show my links. That’s not the traffic I want.

Test first, Then Deploy

I’ve tested Goodreads ads and seen they tend to under-perform. I’ve tested LinkedIn ads and seen they are too expensive to justify the results. I’ve tested Facebook ads and see they work well, but you need to make a deal with the devil if you use them. Facebook sucks up data about you and your clients and they sometimes lose it or give it away to third parties like Cambridge Analytica who misuse it. I can’t support that.

For mailing list management I’ve tried MailChimp, Emma, FreshMail, and Constant Contact. After my tests, I’ve returned to MailChimp and recommend it to clients. I’ve tried Hootsuite, Buffer, and Statusbrew for social media management. I recommend Buffer for simplicity and Statusbrew for metrics, tracking, and audience discovery.

If you’re working with a remote team or with clients all over the world like I do, you’ll want to keep everyone tuned up with a weekly status meeting. I use Zoom for that and UberConference also works.

Are you seeing a pattern? Deploy. Test. Repeat. Nothing stands still. It’s rare for a service to keep putting out excellent results forever. Buffer has been sure and steady over the years. MailChimp too. SiteGround is good for hosting. DreamHost fell apart for a while and now it’s back. I have to keep testing.

Not Just Apps, but Also Techniques and Procedures

I test techniques and procedures too. When a client wants to get more buzz for their book, I’ve found that paid book reviews are a good way to go.

We’ve used small mom-and-pop services and giants like Publisher’s Weekly. We post the reviews on the client’s selling or landing page and create image-and-text posts for social media. This nets more interest in our clients’ books than a Facebook ad, and does it without compromising personal data, as a Facebook ad would.

After testing on my own site I’ve discovered that allowing posts by guest writers really improves site traffic. It also allows for a diversity of voices to flourish on my site. It works the other way too. When my writers post to other sites in a guest post that links back to Red Cup or the client’s site it is valuable. It increases discoverability and boosts rankings in search. It’s more likely that the right people will find you. Everybody’s happy.

Speaking of guests, I’ve tested inviting high-value guests to my podcasts. It works because they have good things to say, and they promote their appearance, bringing more listeners along. There is no better way to build an audience for a podcast by targeting a cohort or community. So I focus on guest booking when we are building an audience for my clients’ shows.

I’ve tested remote studios all over the country. It’s a great way to recording podcast guests who will not make it to our city. I know this works well because it’s a practice I brought along from my work in production — we would often get a guest in a remote studio to record them. I would hire a remote crew to film a segment in a distant city. I’ve used this technique to get fresh material from New York, Seattle, San Francisco and other cities without leaving my office.

Write It Up

I believe in sharing the results of all my tests. I also get in touch with app developers and platform gurus to tell them how things are going when I use their products.

Write it up — that’s my mantra. It’s a wonderful way to learn because I have to look back on each project to see what I accomplished and where I could do better. Our Case Studies are a catalogue of teaching examples and marketing best practices for you to sample.

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