Commandment 10: Never Stop Learning

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We are all busy. You are busy. I’m busy. Correct? 


Now that we admitted that we’re just lying to each other, let’s get down to the real deal. But first, I have to tell you something. 

I have used busyness as an excuse numerous times. Sometimes, I really am busy. But often, I say it to get out of something like hanging out with (toxic) people; or telling myself that I’m doing something worthwhile; or simply have something to say. 

I recently came across this video on Twitter. I’m not really sure if it’s true or just a meme or something. But it made me think back to all the times I have used the words “I’m busy” to someone — my boss, my client, my family, and my friends. 

But the truth us, busyness shouldn’t stop us from doing what needs to be done. We all have commitments. And regardless of how much time it takes or activity we do, what matters is that we fulfill those obligations — at work, our family and friends, and even our community. 

Our World Is Constantly Changing

You already know this. Our world is constantly changing. Regardless of your industry, technology is changing every business sector

Everything changes.


What that means is if you don’t keep up, you will eventually get left behind. And this has happened to me lots of times. 

I wrote an article about how to use Buffer and IFTTT together to overcome a specific challenge for me — which I later found out that many people are having as well. After ~6 months, Buffer discontinued the feature that I used in that post. 

Because I didn’t keep up with the news that time, it took me 3-4 more month before I found out about it. In that time, a lot of people have seen that article. Unfortunately, it was not updated and no longer working. 

I kept saying I was busy. Frankly, that’s partly true. At that time, I recently started with a new client. So I’m spending my available time reading up on the industry and learning about the business. 

Looking back, I know if I kept up with my reading, it would only take me less than 5 minutes to fix the article. That’s not even a fifth of a show in Netflix — which I have been binge-watching with my wife every night.

Fortunately for me, it’s just an article. I’m not selling anything. So, it didn’t affect me directly. But what if it’s something that is relevant to your business? What if it’s something your customers use frequently with your app/product but because you didn’t update it, you received tons of complaints. 

How to Dedicate Time for Learning and Growth

First, let’s get one thing out of the way — you don’t know everything. That is why it is necessary to keep learning no matter what. 

You circumstances also aren’t an excuse:

  • You’re just a fresh graduate
  • Just had a baby
  • An entry-level person
  • have multiple businesses
  • Have debt

Learning is free. And while I’m advocating using technology to automate your learning, you can do this without spending anything. 

All you need is your time and commitment. 

I recommend at least an hour a day. That’s 60 minutes. Sometimes you spend more time, sometimes less. And that’s okay. The most important takeaway is that you allocate time to learn new things. 

Here are 5 tips to help you do that. 

Use technology to your advantage

Automation helps you do the mundane things so you can spend your limited energy to do the more important things. 

I use two apps for my learning and growth session:

While I can combine the two apps, I decided to keep them separate. Feedly allows me to glance stories (from the websites I added) very fast. By browsing through the headline titles, I get updated on what’s happening. Some topics I included are the following:

  • Local news
  • Digital marketing
  • Advertising
  • Design
  • Business
  • Economy
  • Technology 

If I find something that interests me, I click on the title then read it further. If it’s longer or needs a dedicated time to read and understand it, I save it to Pocket. 

Pocket is an app where you can store articles and videos for later. This is the app I use if I want to really dive in the articles and process it. 

As you can see, they serve two different needs. That’s why I kept them separate. 

Setting up Feedly is very simple. After you create an account, you can simply press the + button to add new content. You can browse the categories or add specific websites you want. 

Add websites to your Feedly account

I recommend browsing through the different topics that interest you. Then, add in 2-3 websites of reputable local news. Then you’re all set. 

For Pocket, I use IFTTT to automatically add new articles from websites I trust. Feel free to check out that article so you can also automate this process — for free.

Add it to your calendar

Now that you’ve configured the tools to help you with learning, you have to actually do it. 

For most people, their calendars are only used for meetings. That’s an ineffective use of calendars, but that’s for another time. 

What I want you to do is set a recurring meeting for yourself to read and learn. Here’s how mine looks like: 

Add an hour of learning to your calendar every day

It’s an hour every single day. Occurs after lunch. Sometimes I don’t read. Sometimes I move it earlier or later. But because it’s on my calendar, I typically do it. 

Incorporate learning into another habit

If that’s difficult (which I highly doubt), or you really are busy, another recommendation is to add the task fo learning into another habit that you already do. 

For example, you have a daily routine of making coffee before you start your day (like I do). Once you start that process, start your learning time too. Open up the Pocket app on your phone and click on the headphones icon to have it speak/say out loud. That way you don’t have to read and can still do your morning coffee routine. 

You can add this to any activity you do: 

  • While eating or cooking breakfast
  • Doing the laundry
  • Stuck in traffic

Back when I was still working in corporate, I used to ride the train to and from the office. I use this time to listen to podcasts or the articles I have on Pocket. 

This way, I don’t “take away” from my day. Rather, I make full use of my commute time. 


The next tip I highly recommend is to diversify your reading. Just like what I shared earlier, I read about stuff not related to my industry or work. 

If you watched the Decoding Bills Brain series on Netflix, you’d have noticed that Bill Gates also does this. He reads stuff outside Microsoft and technology. This helps him take the insights and learnings from others and apply it to his life. This process will also help you develop critical thinking. And the best part is it gives you a wider perspective. 

Allocate a budget

Lastly, I recommend allocating a budget to your learning and growth. Investing in yourself is one of the best investment you can make. 

Two years ago, I decided I’ll spend up to 10% of my income to my personal learning and growth. Looking back, I spent less than that. But that decision gave me the peace of mind to spend on those things. 

Usually, I hesitate to buy books because they are expensive. I always tell my self it’s not within my budget. I can learn those online from other articles. 

But oftentimes, books offer something more in-depth that articles, even the 2000+ words I often read, don’t cover. 

The mindset is if it’s within the budget, just go buy it. 

This includes books, subscription, tools, etc. 

Right now, I’m subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. I received an offer from Amazon for a $0.99 for 3 months (vs the 1-month trial). So, since the amount is so low and really within my budget, I immediately subscribed. 

I also bought two online courses last year: one about python basics (programming) and about photography. 

Over to You

As you can see, my learning isn’t limited to my industry nor what I do. Yes, the majority of it is. But that doesn’t stop me from learning something from others. 

Bottom line: you should dedicate time to learn new things every day. 

You can start with the free ones until you get the habit going.

Commit to learning something new every day.

Commandment 9: Design Matters Too

Commandment 9: Design Matters Too

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

This is a phrase we’ve heard over and over that we don’t give it much thought when we see, hear, or read about it.

Swipe left. Swipe right. Scroll down. Ignore. Double tap. Like. ❤️.

All these actions somehow reinforces the fact that what we see, matters. A lot.

Today, we judge someone by their Instagram profile. Is it consistent? Do they have a lot of followers? Does it look cool?

And even if we keep telling ourselves that aesthetics don’t matter, our actions say otherwise.

People try to compensate for this by actively telling themselves or simply being mindful about it.

But it is so ingrained in our culture that we can’t help but wonder, can we escape this?

Can we really be objective and stop judging people/companies/brands based on their outward appearance?

The Problem: Digital Marketing Is Visual

When it comes to digital marketing, websites and social media accounts are the first ones to get judged by people. And even if that’s something we don’t want other people to do to us, we can’t change what people think and do.

Changing other people’s behavior, much more their beliefs and value system, is very difficult to do.

A lot of people would say, and I agree with them, that only you can change your own behavior. Trying to force other people to conform to what you want will only result in unnecessary conflict and stress.

Others claim that content is king. That content is all that matters. Yes, that is true. And design matters too. You simply cannot neglect it.

What do you do instead?

Change what you can so you don’t get judged negatively.

When people visit your website or blog, before they get to “read” your content, they “see” your website first. That’s the first thing they experience.

Make your website (and social media accounts) look awesome! Even if you don’t have any background in design (hey, I’m the worst when it comes to stuff like this; I’m more of a numbers kind of guy), you can still avoid getting judged negatively.

Let me show you how.

Solution: Focus on User Experience

For most people, design is how it looks on the outside — graphic or visual design. This is a very limited view of design.

I’m no authority in this topic so I’m not going to even try. But, one message that stood out for me is how Steve Jobs described it.

Design is not just how it looks, but how it works.

-Steve Jobs

He was one of the biggest proponents of great design. If you look at Apple products, it doesn’t just look good on the outside. It also looks great on the inside. It is easy to use and intuitive. And what’s what contributed to Apple’s $1B success.

It just works.

Jobs’ tenacity for great design was well-documented by people and even included a ton of stories in his biography. Which brings us back to design in digital marketing…

Great design isn’t about you. It’s about your website’s visitors and their experience with your website (and with your entire brand for that matter).

Most people worry too much about how their website look. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a good-looking website. Aesthetics do matter. But that shouldn’t be your end goal.

In digital marketing, having a great design means a great user experience across the entire buyer’s journey. And that’s what I’ll focus on in this post.

Step 1: Map your customer journey

It’s not about what you think. It’s about what your customers think. Focus on their experience with your brand.

Imagine with me for a minute here.

Let’s say you have an awesome website. It looks great. It has all these fancy animations and videos. When you scroll down, images and text appear like magic. Kind of like how some portions of Apple’s product pages look like.

apple mac mini product page

But the difference is that yours load slowly. Does this qualify as having great design?

  • User needs to research about the best X in town
  • User searches Google for X
  • Finds your website among others
  • Opens top 5 results in background
  • Go through search #1
  • Browses quickly
  • Moves to search #2 (your website)
  • Page still doesn’t load
  • Closes the browser
  • Moves to search #3…

What if you’re an eCommerce site? If the photos of your products loads after 15 seconds, do you think your customers will hang around your site?

This is even worse as there are a lot of options in the market. So if your website fails to “impress” now, you’d have no way of getting them back to your website again.

Step 2: Understand these statistics

  • 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.
  • 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
  • A 1 second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.

The best way to really understand your customers is to look at your own behavior. Chances are, you’re not that different from them.

How did you feel when you encountered these situations before?

  • A website loads too slowly or not at all.
  • The website loads all the ads first before you get to find the content that really matters to you
  • Looking for the FAQ section of a product on their website, but is no where to be found

A problem a lot of websites don’t realize (or accept) is that having a ton of ads loading on your page slows it down.

It ruins the user experience.

These are the reasons why ad blockers are so popular these days.

It’s these same reasons why browsers have a read-only mode or why people use Pocket — because they don’t want to be distracted from what they see and focus on the content. But if your site doesn’t have all these distracting elements, there’s no reason for your visitors to go out of their way just to be able to find the content they are looking for.

Great design supplements your content. If people can’t get your page to load, they’d most likely not try at all. If people can’t find the answers from you, especially your customers, they’ll look for it elsewhere.

This behavior is true for me as well, just like you.

When I try browsing a site and it doesn’t load, I either check again later or not bother at all. I only check later again if it’s the only choice I have. But most likely, I’ll close the browser and search for another site that can answer my questions/problems.

Step 3: Get objective user experience data

Does your website meet customer expectations?

The only way to know if your website meets your customer’s expectations is to ask them yourself. This is easy if your site already have thousands of unique visitors a month. You setup a survey and look the results.

But what if you’re like most websites who only get a few hundred visits a month? You’d get 1-2 responses a month. This won’t provide you with any insights.

So, what can you do instead?

Step 4: Improve your website’s speed

One of the things you can do is improve your site speed. Use this free tool from Google where it can provide you a lot of actionable items to make your site faster.

What’s even better is that once you go through this list, you’d be on the good side of Google. That means you’ll have better chances of ranking on it.

You can use other tools like Pingdom, etc. to give you a different perspective on how you can further improve your site’s performance.

Step 5: Make your content flow coherently

One of the things that frustrates me when viewing a website is when I don’t understand what I’m looking at.

I’ve come across sites where the marketer simply puts EVERYTHING on the website.

But there’s no story being told. It jumps from one place to another.

In one page it talks about a product X, then on the next section it talks about the company, then the next it talks about a features of product X. Then the next section talks about the founders. Then you’d see a video about the history of the company.

Focus on sharing one thing at a time on a single page.

This way, you’ll hit two birds with one stone. You’ll get a better user experience and improve your SEO.

The best way to start with this is outlining what you want to share. For example, here’s what mine looks like. Note that I’m a consultant so the way I structured my website is different from how you would structure yours.

  • Homepage
    • Value proposition
    • About me
    • Social proof
    • Case studies
    • Call-to-action
    • Thought leadership articles
    • Social media
    • Contact form
    • Newsletter subscription

If you’d notice, the structure for this is all about building me as an authority on what I do. I didn’t include any information that is not contributing to that goal.

On another page, Email Marketing, here’s what my outline looks like:

  • Email Marketing page
    • 3 pillars of email marketing
      • Lead generation
      • Lead management
      • Email execution
    • Why use email marketing
    • Essential features and capabilities of an email marketing software
    • 12 different types of marketing emails
    • Email malpractices you should stop doing now
    • Examples of ineffective email marketing and how to improve them

Everything in this page contributes to the objective of the page — which is to provide an answer to people searching for information about email marketing. And in case you’re wondering, this page is a type of a cornerstone content.

Outline the content you want to place on your website or blog posts. Put a structure around it. Make sure you always put yourself in the shoes of your customers (or potential customers).

Step 6: Use headers, sections, and images to break your content

After you have your outline, use them as headers or sections in your content. Add a couple of images to make it easy to read as well.

These are rules of thumb that you can follow, but in no means dictate the way you create your content.

  • h1 —> title of the page
    • h2 —> section 1
      • h3 —> point 1 / step 1
      • h3 —> point 2 / step 2
      • h3 —> point 3 / step 3
    • h2 —> section 2
      • h3 —> point 1 / step 1
      • h3 —> point 2 / step 2
      • h3 —> point 3 / step 3

You get the idea. For example, in this post, here’s how it looks like:

  • h1 —> Commandment 9: Design Matters Too
    • h2 —> The Problem: Digital Marketing is Visual
    • h2 —> The Solution: Focus on User Experience
      • h3 —> Step 1: Map your customer journey
      • h3 —> Step 2: Understand these statistics
      • h3 —> Step 3: Get objective user experience data
      • h3 —> Step 4: Improve your website’s speed
      • h5 —> Step 5: Make your content flow coherently
      • h6 —> Step 6: Use headers, sections, and images to break your content

So, what are you going to do now?

Design in digital marketing is all about the user experience and how everything flows from one to the other. It’s not limited to visual or graphic design.

Make sure your site loads fast, has a coherent message, and easy to read and understand. Use data to guide you in your decisions. Stop relying on assumptions.

Does your website have a great design? Let me know in the comments below!

Commandment 6: Honor Google and Other SERPs

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People use the internet to search for answers to problems they have, no matter how mundane they are. This includes asking what is the weather tomorrow in Tagaytay; or how much is 1 USD to Philippine peso; or what are the top 10 restaurants in Maginhawa?

If you are following the 10 commandments for effective digital marketing, you should be creating content that is helpful, relevant, and use those keywords you want your business or brand to be associated with.

This tactic is what people commonly refer to as search engine optimization (SEO). When people type certain keywords on search engines, you’d want to appear in the search results that are relevant to your business or brand.

However, search engines such as Google continually change the rules of the game. In fact, just a couple of months ago (while being on a hiatus), Google implemented an update to its algorithm that could make your organic traffic drop at least by 5% when your website is not mobile-friendly.

The question now remain is how do you keep up?

As marketers, you are busy. You do not have enough time to remember and read all these updates and changes.

The answer is really quite simple — you plan for the future and execute strategies accordingly.

Wait, what?

Look. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out.

Just go through the history of Google updates (and if you want even Facebook’s news feed algorithm updates), there is always one underlying reason for them. The main reason for all these changes is to make it easier for the user to find what they need at that point in time. (HINT: remember commandment #1, be helpful?)

2 Things You Should Do to Make Your Digital Marketing Strategy Futureproof

  1. Learn the basics of how search engines work and the importance of keywords
  2. Work smarter, not harder

The Basics:

The ultimate goal of SEO is to appear in the first page of search engine results pages (SERPs). In order for that to happen, there is a widely-accepted belief that there are two factors that affect that:
  1. On-page SEO; and,
  2. Off-page SEO
These factors don’t weigh of equal importance for you to appear on the top of SERPs. In fact, according to HubSpot, on-page SEO is only weighted at roughly 10%; while off-page SEO accounts for 90%.

On-page SEO 

On-page SEO generally refers to how the business / brand is following the rules created Google and other search engines. The elements associated with on-page SEO are things that are within the control of the business / brand.

There are many elements to consider here, but the most important lesson you need to be familiar with is that of keywords.

Keywords are terms businesses and brands want to be associated with when people search online. They play a very important role in digital marketing. And, frankly, it won’t go away anytime soon.

Depending on where you look, you will be presented with different categories of keywords. But I like to make things simple. So, just keep in mind of these 3 categories of keywords:

  1. Branded keywords —> keywords that includes your brand / business / trademarked items. For Apple, branded keywords they want to associate themselves with are iPhone, iPod, Mac, etc.
  2. Generic keywords —> These are keywords that are related to your products or services. Going back to the example above for Apple, some generic keywords they want their company to be associated with could include smartphones, mobile phones, laptops, desktops, etc.
  3. Long-tail keywords —> These are keywords that are unbranded, but expanded generic terms. Again, for Apple, some long-tail keywords could be best touch screen devices, best smartphones all-time, etc.

Off-page SEO

These are factors that you are not directly in control of. Some of these activities are inbound links, bookmarking, multiple pages visited, etc.

Remember the ultimate goal of Google I mentioned above? To bring relevant information to its user easily.

Since there are a LOT of information uploaded to the internet every second,  Google uses an algorithm to index those. It uses a lot of factors to determine its quality.

The stuff I mentioned (inbound links, bookmarking, multiple pages visited) are all indicators of your content being of high quality. And, of course, this is not an exhaustive list.

A) Inbound links
These are links from other people’s websites leading to one of your web pages. For example, you wrote an article about the 7 tools every digital marketing should use. Then, another marketer loved it so much, he created an article and showed how he uses those 7 free tools and linked them back to your site. That is an example of an inbound link (to your site).

B) Bookmarking and multiple pages visited

When you bookmark a page or visit more pages from that website, that signals Google that you like what you found. It suggests that the content you are reading / viewing / listening to are of high quality that you engaged more with the business/brand.

Think about it. When you searched for something, then found that the site takes forever to load. What do you do? Close the browser and move on the next result, right? What if the next page that loads doesn’t really answer your question? You hit back and look for another result.

On-page and off-page SEO matters. As they say with a lot of things, it is a combination of both art and science. You cannot discount technicality because no matter how great your content are but not abiding by the rules, then you will never win. If you are very great technically, but no one wants to read you, you won’t get read and shared.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

I know you are busy. I am busy. Who’s not busy nowadays, right? The right question is what are you being busy about?

It is very difficult to keep up with all these changes. Yet, as a marketer, it is your duty to stay abreast of anything that may affect your career. So, instead of reading tons of articles per day, why not just read about them from trusted sources?

I recommend using an RSS aggregator.

Subscribe to authoritative sites such as HubSpot, Mashable, and TechCrunch to learn about what’s happening on the web, technology and marketing field.

I use an app called Feedly. I am subscribed to at least two dozen local and international sites. I don’t read ALL of them. I just browse through the headlines. If it’s relevant to me, I read the entire article. If not, I just scroll through them.

It helps me stay updated with what’s happening in my current industry, role, and profession. That way, I don’t get blind-sided when things erupt.

But you are busy, right? You don’t have time to read all day to catch up. This only takes about 15 minutes each day. You’re not THAT busy. You just don’t know how to manage your commitments.

I open the app during my morning and evening commute. I take the MRT. My ride from Point A to B takes approximately 25 minutes (this doesn’t include the waiting time in between trains). That’s when I read and catch up.

I’m busy too. I just know that if I don’t spend time reading and learning new things, I am passing up on opportunities to make things easier for me.

Some of the things I missed out when I did not follow my own advice (and reasoned out I was too busy)  were the following:

  • Pablo by Buffer
  • Canva
  • Free 1GB Spotify and extra 2GB mobile internet by Globe (by just switching up my plan) at no extra cost

These are two simple things you can change to make your digital marketing strategies futureproof. By planning for the future, you are guaranteed you won’t be blindsided by the changes. And, incorporating a daily habit of reading from trusted sites help you stay updated with that’s happening within your industry. Do these two things and you will be 80% better than your peers who are not doing this.

Commandment 5: Learn Code

learn code - commandment 5 of the 10 commandments for effective digital marketing

Everything in technology is built using some sort of programming language or code. You also know that computers can only read binaries — 1’s and 0’s. If you want to talk to a machine, you have to speak its language. You don’t have to master programming languages, but you do have to learn code if you want to be effective.

The internet is still growing. Others will argue it’s already at its maturity stage. But since this is my post, I say it’s still growing 😉 The reason for that are Web 2.0, IPV6, HTML 5, and much more. If you still don’t understand, start Googling them up.

Why Should You Learn Code

Ok, so you might be asking why should you learn code when you are a marketer, right?

Apart from not relying on programmers,  the answer is dead simple. Google’s algorithm is based on code. Learning the six HTML tags I’ll present below will help you in your quest for better SEO (search engine optimization) and placement on SERPs (search engine results pages).

HTML stands for hypertext markup language. I won’t go on defining what HTML is. There are a lot of articles explaining that. What this article focuses on are the things you have to learn to be an effective marketer.

And HTML is important because content on your website primarily uses HTML.

Again, there is no need to master it. The basic concept you have to understand when it comes to HTML is the concept of tags.

A tag is a pair of code that involves a start and an end tag.

6 Tags You Should Know by Heart If You Want to Rank on Search Engines

There are six standard header tags, namely H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6. They are ranked in order of importance (H1 as the most important and H6 as the least important). Most word processors have them built-in already.

Here’s how they look like on the Pages app and in WordPress.

Example of Tags in Pages
Header Tags in Pages App
Example of Tags in WordPress
Header Tags in WordPress

What is the purpose of these headers?

Their purpose in terms of SEO is to determine which topics are important. It is what Google indexes. Also, it simply looks great. It clearly shows the different sections of your post, making it easy to read.

These heading tags in HTML help us to understand the structure of the page.

John Mueller, Google

Never, ever, ever, change the font size to distinguish “headers” or sections. Use these built-in-tags instead.

This is one of the most common mistakes people do. While it makes your content readable, it doesn’t help you out in SEO.

Best practice of header tags: only one H1 tag per page. This post has one H1 tag, two H2 tag, and six H3 tags.

Hyperlinks in HTML is denoted by <a> </a> in code.

It has elements inside it that make it work (e.g. href and target are the most used). You can learn more about these elsewhere. So when you want to link to a page within your site (internal link) or to another website (external link), you need to use the <a> tag.

A best practice here is to mind your anchor text. It is the text that goes in between the <a> tags </a>. My previous post is about using data to drive your decisions. If you go look at the code of this, it will look something like this:

<a href="" target="_blank">using data to drive your decisions</a>

The text “using data to drive your decisions” is the anchor text.

There are still a lot of websites that use “click me” or “click here” as your anchor text. While that is straight to the point, it does not provide value to the reader and search engines.

When using an anchor text, it has to provide context as to what the page you are linking to. In the example I made, I referenced it to my post about stop guessing and use analytics to achieve your goals.


The table tag is useful for presenting data.

However, I have a more practical way of using this — arrange elements easier to create a good-looking layout. You can definitely do this using CSS, but that’s an entirely different conversation. In my own email signature block, I use a table to style it properly. Here’s how it looks like:

Ariel Lim
Management Consultant
[email protected]

You can book a time to speak with me here >>

And here’s the super complicated code for it.

<div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;"><span style="font-size: 12.8px;"><br class="Apple-interchange-newline" /></span></div>
<div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;">&nbsp;</div>
<div style="color: #222222; font-family: arial, sans-serif; font-size: 12.8px;">
<table style="color: #000000; font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: medium; width: 370px; height: 103px; background-color: #fefefe;" border="0" width="470" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
<tr valign="top">
<td style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; margin: 0px; padding-left: 10px; width: 10px; padding-right: 10px;"><img style="max-width: 370px;" src="" alt="Ariel_Lim_Email" width="99" height="99" /></td>
<td style="font-family: arial, sans-serif; margin: 0px; border-right-width: 1px; border-right-style: solid; border-right-color: #813b98;">&nbsp;</td>
<td style="font-family: Arial; margin: 0px; text-align: initial; font-stretch: normal; padding: 0px 10px;">
<div style="font-size: 14px; color: #646464;">
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<div><span style="color: #000000; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;"><strong>Ariel Lim</strong></span></div>
<div><span style="font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small;">Management Consultant</span></div>
<span style="color: #000000; font-family: 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; background-color: #ffffff;">[email protected]<br /></span></div>
<div style="color: #646464; margin-top: 5px;"><span style="font-size: small;"><a style="color: #1155cc; outline: none;" href=""><img class="CToWUd" style="border: 0px; border-radius: 0px; width: 16px;" src="" alt="" width="16" /></a>&nbsp;</span></div>
<a href="">You can book a time to speak with me here >></a>

It’s a little complicated to look at, but if you want to use the same thing on your own signature block, feel free to copy the entire code and use it. Then, change the details like:

  • Image
  • Name
  • Position

Again, this post is to teach you areas to apply them, not how to learn them.

There are other places more qualified to teach you these things. So if you want to have a signature block in your email to look like that, simply copy the entire code, then change the image and the other contents.


This is the most basic tag in HTML. It is hidden between an opening and closing <p> tag.

Use it to separate paragraphs instead and ensure proper spacing. Sometimes, when you hit enter to go to a new line, you end up moving down a single-line. So you hit another enter. The problem with this is that the code behind it doesn’t look great.

Line Break

This is similar to the paragraph tag, except this forces the text after it to move down one line. Unlike the other tags listed here, this one does not need a pair. All you need is one <br>. I usually do this when I need to bring down one line without spaces a group of text.


The list tag allows you to create numbered lists or bulleted lists. They are called ordered lists and unordered lists, respectively.

Just like the <table> tag, the list tag introduces several other tags associated with it. For example, this post uses an ordered list on the table of contents. Here’s how it looks like:

<li>Why You Should Learn Basic Code
<li>Tags You Need to Know
<li>Header Tags
<li>Hyperlink Tags
<li>Table Tags
<li>Paragaph Tags
<li>Line Breaks

This example is a list that includes a list.

As mentioned at the top of this post, you do not have to master any programming language. All you need to do is learn code — the basics and how they work.

Most content management systems (CMS) automatically takes care of these for you. However, there are times when you want to do something that the CMS cannot automatically do for you. So, dive in the code editor and fix it yourself.

Commandment 3: Stop Selling

stop selling - commandment 3 of the 10 commandments for effective digital marketing

Effective digital marketing means you have to learn when is the right time to sell.

Sales and marketing activities are the only ways for companies to generate revenues. The people in sales and marketing are the link between the company and its customers.

History tells us that the only way this happens is through direct interaction. Here’s a good example to understand this:

The company creates an ad and sends it to their local newspaper. A customer saw the ad. They go to the store to see the actual product. The customer interacts with the people inside the store, ask questions then decide whether to purchase or not.

While marketing and sales activities are still important, the decision to buy isn’t made any more in stores. Rather, they’re made way before the actual visit.

Now, imagine a company whose primary (most cases, only) message is selling their products and services? They make variations of their messages as sales and discounts, limited-time offers, etc.

Let’s say 80% of what you see in their social media accounts are “buy from me” messages?

Would you grow fond of this company? Would you enjoy “following” them?

…the Internet has turned what used to be a controlled, one-way message into

a real-time dialogue with millions.

Danielle Sacks
The Future of Advertising
Fast Company
November 17, 2010.
Buyer's Journey Then and Now

Decisions are now made before they interact with your actual products or services. People visit the store for the purchase, but decisions are already made earlier. So how can you influence them to buy from you? Change your communications. Instead of selling to them, educate them.

The Internet has turned what used to be a controlled, one-way message into a real-time dialogue with millions.

Before getting to the actual details, let me be the first to say that I am not against hard-selling or sales messages. I like to use the Pareto Principle, so a good ratio for sales messages vs. non-sales messages is 80-20. And just to be clear, the 80 is for the non-sales messages.

3 Quick Fixes to Create Value and Stop Selling

Write individual articles on your FAQs

This should be a no-brainer. If you get asked questions 3x, I’d consider that already as frequent. Use the whole question as your title and URL.

For example, you’re a marketing agency. A common question asked in that field is “How to Create Marketing Plans.” So make an article (or series of articles) with that title. This will help your readers find what they are looking for and help you with your SEO as well.

Application: When people ask you these questions, say, via email, answer them briefly, then link back to your article with the full explanation. Because you only have 1 topic per page, you can go all-out on this one — include images, include videos, if necessary.

If you don’t know where to start, head on over to customer support or the sales people and ask them what questions they get. They’ll love it. You’ll get your content. Win-win situation for everyone.

Pro Tip: Categorize your FAQs. It can be as simple as product-related or company-related. It can also refer to departments concerned (aka functional) like billing, technical, account, etc. Here are more default categories you can use: features, how-to, troubleshooting.

Another pro tip: Depending on how your company is setup, create a spreadsheet that is shared among concerned departments. Then, invite everyone concerned to a weekly 30-minute meeting to go through newly added items. For example, here’s a sample of what I have for one of the companies I’m consulting for. It’s a spreadsheet that is shared among marketing, sales, and operations.

It allows me to track all these FAQs, the answers to them, and whether we have an article about it or not. And it saves me time as well when I need topics for the blog.

Create articles showcasing the benefits of using your products or services

Focus on the benefits of what you are selling, not on the features. How can your product or service improve your customers’ lives? What is it that they’ll get or receive after buying and using your product or service?

As an added bonus here, an article I recently read to use emotions in your landing pages. This might not be a landing page, but it’s a good idea to think of the “soft” aspect, the emotions, and how it makes people feel.

Here’s an example I just came up with. I hope I’d done justice to this. Coffee (Java Chip Frappucino) at Starbucks (since I’m writing this post at a Starbucks and drinking exactly that).

  • Features
    • Freshly ground beans
    • Contains dark chocolate chips
    • Cold
  • Benefits
    • Cleanse your body with antioxidants while drinking the finest coffee
    • Feel relaxed and refreshed (chocolates have melatonin, the feel-good hormone)
    • Cool down and refresh your body

Talk about other people’s successes

One of the rules I live by is “You’re not that smart; they’re not that dumb.” It’s one of Horstman’s Laws and is very applicable here.

Your customers will know if all you are after is their money. It’ll show in your communications, your approach, your products and services. Eventually, you’ll lose them.

The best part is that it’s so easy not to be tagged as selfish. Just talk about other people! Here are a few things you can do:

  • Conduct surveys and release the results as an industry report;
  • Perform a case study (or two, or all) of your customers;
  • Share your customers’ success stories and how they use your products.
  • Ask them to write for you (guest blog) or write about you (blog about you).

Pro Tip: Easily do this by creating a stream on Twitter for your brand name and product. If you see someone tweeted something, take a screenshot. Write an article out of it and include that image. Share it on social media and tag that person. You can also do this on other social media sites.

Another pro tip: Create a Google Alert (or other alternatives) for your brand mentions. Perhaps even adding some known “words” in your industry. That way, you stay on top of all these things. You can then take action to increase value. For example, a customer blogged about your company and said she had a great experience shopping at your store. Immediately thank the customer on social media for featuring you and include that link. Reach out to her and thank her directly. Maybe send your regular feedback form. There’s really an infinite number of things you can do once you have this information.

The internet has changed the way people buy. Companies no longer has control over information and the buyer’s journey. There is a lot of competition out there as well — both direct and indirect.

The question to answer now is, “has your marketing adapted to these changes?”

Commandment 2: Be Human

be human - commandment 2 of the 10 commandments for effective digital marketing

The internet has transformed the way we live. It has also affected the way we conduct business. Technology enabled us to connect with each other even if we are not physically located together. As a result, this reliance on technology and the efficiencies it brings slowly changed the way businesses talk to customers. Companies that use effective digital marketing are succeeding, while the ones stuck in the traditional ways are falling behind.

Businesses lost the social aspect. Whether you are in a B2B or a B2C company, remember that you are still talking to people. Some are no longer making a distinction between a B2B or a B2C company. For them, all businesses are P2P (people to people).

Humans love to be with other humans. History proves this to be true, just read about Dunbar’s number. While technology continues to make things more efficient for us, it has not removed mankind’s need for social connections. This holds true in this digital age as well, especially for marketing, because you are the primary person in-charge of communicating to customers and would-be customers.

If you are communicating like a robot, you are alienating a lot of people from your messaging.

Why not connect with them at a personal level? Trust me, you will reap more rewards. Hint: customized, anyone? 

A little aside here: I consider myself to be an introvert. Yes, while working, I prefer to do things alone but at the end of the day, I still go back to the comforts of having my family and loved ones around. I still talk to my colleagues. I talk to my friends. No man is an island, remember?

Ok. I’m convinced. So, what do I do now?

Before getting to specific actions, let me take this time to elaborate on a concept you might not be familiar with. Marketing (this means you) represents the company to the customers.

By virtue of your role, you are already the “assigned” point-person. You don’t need any further “authority” to speak in behalf of the company. In addition, as a function of you being an employee of the company, you already carry its name wherever you go, even after office hours. You are the company to the customers. Those two concepts are basic career concepts you can’t ignore if you want to be successful.

6 Quick Changes You Can Do to Represent the Company Effectively and Be Human

There are two aspects to this. First is administrative side and the next is the actual communication.

Administrative Aspect

1) Use your personal work email

This has got to be the easiest change you can do if you’re using email marketing. Stop hiding behind a [email protected] email address. If you are using a newsletter or practicing Inbound Marketing, send from YOUR work email. Just search for it on Google about how sending from your email and you’ll find tons of results about its effectivity. To prove this, I quickly searched for “using work email increase open rates” and got tons of results. Here’s a quote from regarding using your email address:

Our emails are by people, from people, for people. They aren’t from vague brands, apps, or objects with a possible nefarious agenda against humans. People connect with people, not with inanimate objects.

2) Include a photo of you

If I told you that including a photo of you increases the chances of your recipient replying to you by 30%, would you not place yours?

Putting a face in the mind of the recipient (lead, customer, or prospect) makes you more credible. It gives off that sense of “hey, I’m talking to another person. I might as well reply because I know this person.” Check out these 10 email marketing statistics that will convince you to grow your email list.

Here’s a standard signature block I have at my previous work:


3) Include a name when responding to social media

This is another fairly easy task to do. Call it a hack if you will.

Use your name when replying to comments on Facebook. When I was doing this, I use the convention of [Admin Ariel] at the end of the post or message, wherever the customers post.

On Twitter, sometimes I reply “as the company.” Sometimes, I reply “as myself.” Then, as what I learned from Honeycomb Communities, “leave a trail of breadcrumbs” to lead these people back to your brand.

What does leaving a trail of breadcrumbs mean? By including in your bio description who you are. If you’d look at my Twitter account, you’ll see that I am the Operations Officer of buqo (the brand). Just make sure you are consistent (signature block and title on bio description are the same).

Oh, and I hope you noticed the preparatory comment I made above? The one that says as an employee, I already represent the company wherever I go. Obviously, my Twitter account is personal, but I included that bio description there. Check my LinkedIn account and you’ll see that there as well. 

Communication proper

1) Talk / write as if you are talking to a person in front of you

Stop sounding awkward. If you are writing a letter, sending out an email, or writing a press release, please do not use “greetings” or “good day” in there. Simply drop that from your writing / speaking style.

Business communication is all about being personal (tired of hearing this?). Do you do that when you talk to someone face-to-face? Imagine walking down your company’s hallway and your colleague is walking towards you as well.

Greetings John!

Weird right? So stop doing it. Use everyday language.

Here’s a hint: record yourself while reading the message out loud. Play it back. If it sounds like a robot, that’s how your customers would also feel. And last I checked, humans prefer dealing with humans. That’s why the customer service industry globally is so huge.

2) Answer questions when asked on social media. Don’t refer them to an email black hole.

Social media enabled the customers to talk to the company directly. Before, the only way customers interact with companies is through the store or the sales people. That’s not how it works anymore. What used to be a one-way communication street turned into a two-way street. Your customers (and noncustomers for that matter) follow you and/or see you on social media.

You are in-charge of the company’s social media accounts. Your customers asked you a question about your product or service. You reply to them by saying please email us at [email protected] or tell them go to our company’s product page.


If that happens to you. How would you react?

I’m guessing you’d feel irritated. Those questions can be easily answered then and there. Use BLUF (bottom line up front). Answer the question, then provide necessary details or resources. For example, they asked you if you have a warranty. Reply “Yes, we do. Our policy is usually 1 year, and because we believe in our product’s quality, if you have any concerns with the product you purchased, we still accommodate the concern even if it’s out-of-warranty. Here’s a link to our website’s warranty page <insert link here>”

Now, won’t you love to hear that instead of “Please read our warranty page for your concerns” or “Please email us at [email protected] for your concerns.”

3) Engage with the community.

Communities have been there ever since. These are groups of people with shared interests. They have existed and will always exist. Put this into context of digital marketing, these are your brand’s fans and followers. They follow you because they “want” or “love” to be associated with you.  Continuing from the previous item, social media is a way to talk to your customers and noncustomers. The more you know about them, their needs and wants, the better you can market to them.

Plot in your calendar this daily routine. Before, I allot 15 minutes (yup, only 15 minutes) each morning to go through my news feed (both Twitter and Facebook) then scan for comments or questions. I answer them and schedule the replies to be sent out within the day. (the scheduling is primarily for Twitter since too many replies in within a short span of time seems spammy)

I explain this to other people as having both a short-term and long-term strategy for social media. The long-term is your planned messages. These are articles you put out, marketing messages, insights, quotes, etc. These are already scheduled and plotted out for days. The short-term strategy is primarily for engagement. These are following your followers, thanking them, retweets, reshares, answer to comments, answer to questions, etc.

Oh, in case you’re wondering about software, I use HootSuite before. For my current work, I’m using HubSpot.

There are a lot of alternative options out there (just search for social media management software and you’ll get tons of results). I had a chance to use HootSuite, HubSpot and Buffer. Each one has their own pros and cons. You just have to find what suits you best. 

The internet has changed our lives. It permeated both our personal and professional lives. However, we should not lose sight of the social or community aspect of being humans. I believe the popular word for this is called empathy.

Connect with your audience.

In turn, this will build their trust, increase your credibility, and be more receptive to you. This is the second commandment of effective digital marketing. Let me know what you think in the comments below.