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Author: Chris Lake

Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy.

The Offline / Online Marketing Landscape

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year it is this: share a vaguely useful colourful chart on social media channels, and your ship will come in.

With that in mind, I have created yet another visualisation, this time dedicated to multichannel marketing

There are so many different ways of reaching customers these days, and I wanted to provide a really straightforward overview of some of the most important routes to market. 

So without further ado, here’s the chart. Click on the image to see a bigger version...


A Smörgåsbord of Content Marketing Metrics

What kind of content marketing metrics should you be measuring, to determine whether you have the right strategy in place? Which metrics are the best indicators of success?

Back in 2012 we published some research on attitudes to measuring content marketing. After surveying 1,300 marketers we found that unique visitors was the main metric used to determine whether content was successful, followed by views, and then time spent on site.

These are perfectly reasonable things to track, and they are meaningful to a point, but most businesses will only invest in things that affect profits and sales. With that in mind, views and visits might not be best thing to focus on.

So what are the best content marketing metrics to track? After all, there’s more to life than visitors and page impressions, right? 


Introducing the Content Marketing Team Matrix

A few months ago I created the Periodic Table of Content Marketing, to provide a handy – and hopefully helpful - cut-out-and-keep guide for content professionals.

The table was both practical and tactical, which resulted in more than tens of thousands of shares, and hundreds of thousands of views. I remain humbled by its popularity, and the feedback I’ve had since I published it. 

Since then I’ve been asked many questions, of which two stand out: 

  1. Why does ‘content strategy’ only have one element dedicated to it?
  2. What kind of skills does a content team need?

To answer the first question, it’s simply that content strategy is such a big subject that it merits a table of its own, or something similar. There is much to be said about audiences, legacy content, global vs local approaches to management, team workflow, brand guidelines, and countless other important things. Watch this space.

The second question is one close to my heart. 

Since 2006 I’ve had the pleasure of assembling a marvellous team here at Econsultancy. We box well above our weight – there are only six of us on ‘Team Content’ yet we’re averaging more than a million stories read a month. Not bad, for a niche blog.

But what would a content team look like if I were to assemble one from scratch today? What skills are required in 2014, in the post-social, content marketing, mobile age? What is the perfect recipe for success?


14 motion design trends for web and mobile interfaces

Simplicity is the key to great design. Anything that complicates or irritates should be immediately jettisoned, in favour of a cleaner approach, and functionality should always come before beauty. 

As such I still get shivers when I think about animation and web design, given the amount of user experience crimes committed over the years. Animation was a dirty word. It meant too many crazy gifs, too many flashing ads, or even worse, it meant 'innovative' Flash websites. 

Lots of websites still suffer from animation overload, but when done with appropriate amounts of restraint I think motion can help improve the user experience. 

Moving backgrounds, rolldown navigation and micro UX effects were three of the web design trends I highlighted back in January. I think a broader trend is the rise of animation / motion, and no doubt it will be on next year’s list. 

I thought I’d explore some of the different areas of a website (or mobile app) where motion can come into play, to improve the user experience by communicating meaning, or as a visual flourish that bridges the gap between clicking and loading.

Before we begin, let us doff our hats in the direction of HTML5 and CSS3, not to mention better browsers, faster devices, nicer screens, and quicker internet connections. All of these things have allowed designers to use motion in a way that doesn’t suck.

A bunch of these examples come from the ever-enlightening Codrops, which should probably be on your reading list if it isn't already.

Ok, brace yourself for some gifs...


44 reasons why people don't trust your website

Why do people trust - or distrust - a website? What is it about the content, the design choices, or the usability of a website that makes it seem untrustworthy?

Last month I spotted this great thread on reddit, where people explained what makes them trust / distrust company websites. I thought I’d extract some of the suggestions, and a few quotes, and I’ve added a bunch of my own.

The usual caveats apply: all rules are there to be broken, and our own website needs to be improved.

No doubt there are a lot of other reasons, so by all means leave a comment below if I've missed something. 


12 upwardly responsive websites designed for big screens

Responsive design has been a hot trend in the past couple of years, with plenty of brands adapting their websites for smartphone and tablet users. But here's the thing: responsive design should work for bigger screens too.  

I have a 27 inch iMac with a 2560 x 1440 screen resolution, and not many sites make full use of my screen. It seems like a waste. The best responsive websites will be optimised for wider displays, as well as narrower ones.

It goes without saying that a growing proportion of your website's visitors will be using handheld devices with little screens, but you may be surprised by how many people use bigger screens. Certainly I was. 

I thought I'd unearth a few examples of brands that are thinking big, as well as small. I shall kick things off by looking at our own stats, to prove the business case.


Content marketing ideas: five key tools and one killer tip

Last month I released the Periodic Table of Content Marketing, a kind of visual checklist to help people create the right kind of content to support their business goals. But what is the right kind of content? 

The table is an overview of the key elements of content marketing, but it stops short of suggesting specific subject-orientated ideas relevant to your brand / audience.

That’s where James Welsh comes in. He has built a search / suggestion tool based around my table, and it works surprisingly well. I thought I’d introduce it, as well as a few other tried and tested content idea generators. They will help you brainstorm ideas.

So first, onto the tools (click on the screenshots to access them), but be sure to read the section underneath on advanced idea generation. Dan Shure’s post is a tremendous resource for those of you prepared to go the extra mile. The tip I have focused on should save you a lot of time. 


10 sketchy text formatting tips for Twitter and Facebook

Ever wanted to use bold or italics in a tweet? Or a strikethrough, in a Facebook update? Or to use a special character of some kind? Well here’s your chance… 

It’s Friday, so I thought I’d cobble together a throwaway post based around the different text styles you can use on Twitter. Click on an image to go to the appropriate text rendering tool. 

Apologies if this leads to a spate of nonsensical, illegible tweets. 

Unicode… so much to answer for.


15 delicious examples of card-based web design

The rise of the smartphone has ushered in a new way of thinking among web designers and developers, who need to create websites that work on smaller screens.

The constraints of smaller screens have actually helped the web to become that little bit more modular, with responsive design now one of the foremost web design trends: pages can be broken up into their constituent parts, and reordered on the fly, depending on browser or screen sizes. Content spread over three or four columns can be repositioned into just one. 

This has refocused attention on 'cards', as a design pattern for displaying information in bite-sized chunks. Cards are ideal for the TL;DR generation, perfect for mobile devices and responsive design, and I think we'll be seeing a lot more of them in the months and years ahead. The format may not be new, but it's on the rise.

What is a card, exactly? Well, they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but commonly cards will include information such as a title, a user name, a picture, and various icons. Sometimes there might be a brief amount of text, for example a product description. In a sense, they are miniature, condensed web pages.  

Cards were one of my 18 web design trends for 2014, and I wanted to highlight some beautiful examples of card-based user interfaces. Tuck in!


Why Econsultancy has implemented nofollow for guest blogging

There has been a lot of noise recently about guest blogging, and whether or not it is something that Google will crack down on.

Well, the guest blogging Armageddon is upon us, and we have decided to take a safety first approach. 

That means adding nofollow to links in the bios of guest bloggers, something that we implemented yesterday. 

I’ll explain our thinking in a bit more detail. First, some facts…


14 beautiful designs based around shades of colour

Earlier this year I highlighted monochromatic design and hypercolour as two of my 18 web design trends for 2014. There is a third way that lives inbetween these two approaches: choosing a limited palette and using different shades of colour.

Designers who go down this route typically choose one vibrant colour (and various shades thereof) and offset it against a neutral background. Sometimes two (or more) complementary colours come into play. 

I thought I'd share a few examples, to hopefully provide you with a little visual inspiration. Many of these examples are, to my eye, rather elegant. 


Introducing The Periodic Table of Content Marketing

I’ve written a lot about content strategy over the past decade. I’ve also highlighted various niche tactics that can help content creators to succeed, as well as plenty of examples of excellent content. But I haven’t created many visualisations, and recently I have been keen to do one.  

Surprisingly, nobody has yet created a periodic table for content marketing, so I thought I’d have a go. 

Before I introduce it, allow me to doff my hat at Dmitri Mendeleev, who first published the periodic table of elements. I’ll also nod in the direction of Danny Sullivan, who created one based around SEO success factors

Let me also say that I hope that this is helpful, as the world is awash with dubious infographics and I really didn’t want to produce something just for the sake of it.

The usual caveats apply: there will be obvious omissions, possibly duplicated symbols, and other schoolboy errors. I shall fix these things in a future iteration, so please raise a flag if you spot anything. 

Ok then, let’s take a look at the table, and I’ll explain my thinking along the way…