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Resources we’ve discovered recently (Mar 15, 2013)

Pixar's "22 rules of storytelling" was one of our recent bookmarks.

Many of Pixar’s “22 rules of storytelling” are applicable to conversion copywriting.

We’re growing at our fastest rate ever, and haven’t had time to write any articles lately. We promise to write some soon.

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In the meantime, here are some more great bookmarks we’ve recently shared with each other (using Diigo)—along with the comments we wrote at the time.

  • Bessemer Venture Partners’ top 10 laws of ecommerce. Bessemer is a VC company that invests in ecommerce companies. This sophisticated document is invaluable for ecommerce businesses.
  • “Probably the best sales manual ever written”. One of David Ogilvy’s first jobs involved writing the sales manual for AGA’s sales team. Fifty years later, Fortune magazine called it “probably the best sales manual ever written.” It’s extremely hard to get a copy of it, but this transcript has just appeared online.
  • Samsung’s and Apple’s product lines in pictures. This article isn’t new, but I use it whenever I recommend to clients that they should focus their priorities more.
  • A useful web developer checklist.
  • Strikingly—Simple, beautiful mobile sites in minutes. When friends and family ask me how to create a website, I often recommend Squarespace or Moonfruit. Strikingly is another nice one.
  • Black Mirror (TV series). I’ve just watched Season 1, Episode 3 of Black Mirror (it’s called “The Entire History of You”). I’d recommend it. It’s a fascinating and disturbing glimpse of how things will be in the future (probably in less than ten years’ time—but maybe before Christmas). It’s on Amazon and UK Netflix. [If you're a US Netflix user, please let us know if it's on US Netflix.]
  • Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling. These rules are applicable to copywriting, building businesses, or making anything.
  • ExpressBingo. A fascinating analysis of the themes (the appeals) of the stories on the front page of the UK’s Daily Express newspaper. It’s a important reminder that markets are more often defined by demand than by supply. (Pixar hinted at this in rule #2: “You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.” I imagine that the Pixar writers wouldn’t naturally choose to write a story about toy cars.)
  • Two hamsters exercising. Not work, but it made me laugh.
  • Text analysis, word-count, keyword density analyzer and prominence analysis. A tool for analyzing text, to see word frequencies, etc.. Could come in useful for summarizing voice-of-customer feedback.
  • Hundreds of tools for marketers by Annie Cushing. A huge, well-compiled list of marketing tools.
  • “Throw in the towel”. This blog is written by the guy who wrote Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean and several other movies. Halfway down the article, he gives a list of attributes of successful writers. The list is surprisingly consistent with our observations of what makes a good conversion copywriter.
  • That “big break”. Another article from Mr Shrek. Highlights: (i) Give yourself ten years to become great. (ii) The key essential element is the compelling, attractive, filmic central idea. (iii) “All the barriers to success are an illusion. It was oddly easy to break into the business. Hollywood is a place that gives zero reward to the people who are just a tiny bit off, and huge rewards to the people who can provide the product dead on. Following sound strategies, and adding to them, has resulted in consistent successes, to an utterly absurd level.” (This sounds a lot like conversion rate optimization, doesn’t it?)
  • “Strange attractor”. “Terry Shrek” again. “Strange attractor” is a better term for what the movie industry usually calls the “high concept.” In summary, your high concept needs to be strange (i.e., unique) and attractive (i.e., appealing). And you need one.
  • Lunametrics’ guide to regular expressions (“RegEx”) for Google Analytics. This is a brilliantly written guide to using RegEx, which is useful for creating filters and goals, and for fine-tuning funnel steps. Written by our friend robb?(y|i)n Steif. (That’s a RegEx joke.)
  • FoldingText (a plain-text editor for geeks). This is now my default text editor for my Mac (replacing Byword). Reasons I love it: (i) The files are in plain-text format, so they’re tiny and fast, and they aren’t tied to any proprietary software. (ii) It works with Markdown, so it’s possible to include links, headings, bullets, etc.. (iii) The Markdown code is only visible for the line you’re currently editing, so once your cursor moves away from a line, the software hides the Markdown code and just shows the formatted text. (iv) You can click on the headings to hide or reveal sections. I now use Microsoft Word only when a document requires a feature that Folding Text doesn’t have (like “Track Changes,” inserted images, or looking pretty).

In our last blog post, we included some useful links for clients who do PPC in-house. Here are some more:

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