Content Creation Lessons from Growing 41,231 Newsletter Subscribers

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 10.20.09 AMGrowing a newsletter for your company blog is tough.

Creating content that drives a ton of traffic is always a lot easier than maintaining a company blog that keeps people coming back. It might work for BuzzFeed, but creating list posts with .gifs won’t work for you if you want to build a loyal group of readers.

Since that’s the case, how can you create content that educates + motivates readers to take action, but still has that viral appeal?

In growing the Help Scout blog to 41k newsletter subscribers, I’ve tried a ton of things to make the admittedly un-sexy topic of “customer service” more appealing, and in the process, I’ve found a few elements that seem to work for every blog post.

Below, I’ll outline some of the techniques we’ve used to add a little rocket fuel to each piece of content we produce.

Don’t Write It, Visualize It

Recently, Rand Fishkin created a great Whiteboard Friday about the importance of visual assets in content in favor of infographics.

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10 Tales of Remarkable Customer Support That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

Why are we as consumers so captivated by stories of great customer service?

Perhaps it is because they serve as a much needed reminder that there are still companies out there who care about their customers.

Every company says that their customers are their #1 priority, but stories show us that many businesses are ready, willing, and able to go the extra mile for each and every one of their customers.

As Benjamin Franklin would put it:

Well done is better than well said.

I agree, and throughout the rest of this article, we will take a close look at some memorable stories in an effort to highlight those businesses who “walk the walk” when it comes to delivering the kind of service that wins a customer over for life.

Along the way, you’ll find insights for your own business to consider and some exceptional inspiration to pass on to your support team. These stories have certainly inspired the team at Buffer to care even more deeply for each customer as we develop our social media management tools.

Enjoy!

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Nice Guys Really Do Finish Last: What Science Says About the Traits of Good Leaders

You don’t have to be ‘the boss’ to take on a leadership role.

I learned that quite quickly while working with my startup—in many instances,Nice Guys Finish Last if you have the most experience within a certain skill, you’ll have to become the ‘leader’ during some key moments and guide the rest of the team.

What I happen to find fascinating is that numerous psychology studies tend to make a connection between this ability to lead when necessary and the achievement of professional success—especially for men.

The connection lead me to a question that guys have been asking themselves forever:

Do nice guys really finish last in life?

It’s hard to say for sure, but a new study shows that ‘nice guys’ typically earn less than their more aggressive peers.

Fortunately, the research doesn’t suggest that you need to be a jerk to get ahead in life, but that highly agreeable men need to be careful about how assertive they are when it comes their work. This assertiveness, as you’ll see, relates more closely to taking on the role of ‘leader’ than you might think.

Let’s take a look at why this phenomenon happens and what ‘nice guys’ can do about it.

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3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Company’s Email Support

“When it comes to creating customer happiness, better service is the answer…”

Hands up: how many times have you heard that and thought, “Yawn…”

We’ve all heard the same trite advice before.

Although WOWing your customers time and time again (like Buffer continues to do) is important in creating a business people love, the “customer evangelists” out there are always talking fluff, and very rarely address the far less sparkling side of implementation.

That’s because it’s easy to talk the talk… but what about putting it in to practice?

The post you are about to read isn’t your typical take on customer service, because it actually digs into how you can improve your email support system with some very easy steps to take advantage of the most popular communication platform on the web.

(That’s right, email still > social media)

Let’s dig in…

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The 3 Psychological Triggers that Matter to Happy Customers

The customer of today is an “infovore.”

Before doing business with you, a huge majority of customers will now use the information available on the web to find out a plethora of things about your company and your service quality.

Transparency is the way the business world works these days, and it’s forced companies to re-examine their sales process for the benefit of the customer.

This highly informed customer isn’t going away anytime soon, in fact, the web has made it better than ever for honest, upstanding businesses who take care of their customers to succeed in a world where most companies fall short.

Consider these startling customer engagement statistics…

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5 Default Reactions That Prevent You From Making Good Decisions

Most of us like to think that we are in-control of our actions.

Turns out, your brain can be a big jerk, and you are susceptible to a large list of cognitive biases and natural reactions that tend to hold you back from acting objectively. Luckily, some good social psychology books (spurred on by well-research papers & experiments!) have revealed a large amount of these biases to the common reader.

Today, we’re going to take a look at 5 notorious social biases and discuss ways that you can recognize and react when your brain is trying to pull a fast one on you.

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How Our Brains Stop Us Achieving Our Goals and How to Fight Back

As admittedly wonderful and fascinating as the human brain is, it definitely can feel like our brain is out to get us sometimes.

Summed up perfectly in the many observations of the “Scumbag Brain” meme, our brain does seem to engage in “sabotage” in terms of how it naturally reacts to situations.

The scary thing is that in some circumstances, these feelings are backed up by actual research!

We’ve already discussed how poorly our brain operates while multitasking (despite tricking us to feel fulfilled while we do it), and today I’d like to expand upon 5 new dangers present in our ‘scumbag brains.’

In this post you’ll learn how to combat your brain’s own brilliance, overcoming it’s instinctual reactions which often have devastating effects on those all-important long term goals that you set for yourself.

Let’s get started!

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What’s The #1 Social Networking Tool In Your Arsenal? (Hint: It Definitely Isn’t Your Twitter Account)

Human beings are social animals.

We absolutely depend on interaction to survive. (Don’t believe me? Check out how solitary confinement destroys our brains)

Is it any wonder that social “networking” has taken off like a rocket in the last few years?

The thing is, the #1 social networking tool sadly isn’t getting utilized by most people.

It’s a shame, because practically everyone (especially college students, prospective job seekers, freelancers and entrepreneurs) can benefit from having this incredibly easy to make resource…

What am I talking about here?

Exit out of your Twitter account for a second, because that’s not what I’m talking about AT ALL!

It’s All About… ME!

For once, it is all about you! :)

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10 Proven Ways to Make Your Tweets More Trustworthy [STUDY]

Twitter has fast become not only a very important part of the web as a whole, but also a very integral part to how we consume important and breaking news.

Twitter users are increasingly not only getting updates from those whom they elect to follow, but also by choosing to consume new information by searching for a topic in addition to following accounts.

The Twitter search portal now receives over 1.6 billion (yes, billion) searches a day. Twitter has also added things like “trending topics”, and major search engines have included option to search public social streams (such as Google Real Time).

With all of this potentially important information and news being spread on Twitter, how do users assess what information is reliable and what isn’t?

Fortunately, a recent research study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University reveals those answers.

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New Facebook Page Timeline: The 7 Essential Things You Need To Know

This is a guest post by Gregory Ciotti from Sparring Mind, the behavioral psychology blog. More about him at the bottom of the post. 

The new Facebook timeline has been creating quite a stir recently, and all the more so ever since Facebook started rolling out the previews for the new timeline for fan pages.

This will inevitably lead to a ton of posts on the subject, but in true social media fashion, too much time is going to be spent on the details rather than discussing what matters.

Luckily, here on the Buffer blog we’re all about cutting through the fluff, so today I want to talk about the 7 major elements & things you need to know in order to rock the new timeline layout for pages.

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