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COVID-19 B2B Marketing

COVID-19 B2B Marketing

You’ve read the news, seen the reports, remarkable real-time graphs and updates from the CDC. Virtually all industry conferences are cancelled or postponed, major sporting events are postponed, most schools and many stores are closed and just about any venue for large crowds from malls to theatres are as empty as the toilet paper aisle at Target.

COVID-19 is serious business and is undoubtedly having an impact on business. Should it stop companies from marketing to other businesses?

We all have an obligation to make the changes necessary to minimize COVID-19 transmission through closures, postponements and having employees work from home like we just implemented at TopRank Marketing this week along with many other companies.

While there will be a period of adjustment, these changes do not mean the work stops. It doesn’t mean companies don’t need information, solutions, support, products and services. The evolving environment we find ourselves in presents new challenges and opportunities to be even more relevant and useful for clients.

While some companies may be distracted or paused in some of their efforts to find solutions, that only means marketing needs to do a better job of providing best answer content in formats that are relevant in the new environment: virtual events, video conferencing, podcasts, webinars, interactive content, recorded video, live streaming and other forms of online engagement. Virtual reality or direct mail are considerations as well.

During this time of transition, it’s also important that marketers review their planned advertising, social and marketing messages to be appropriate to what customers are dealing with right now. Publishing marketing messages as if everything is normal will not resonate or be useful.

Additionally, opportunities may reveal themselves either through data or consumer behavior, like the efforts to encourage gift card purchases from local businesses that will lose foot traffic. A few additional tips for B2B marketers include:

  • Stay in close contact with your customers. Learn what you can do to better support them, anticipate changes and offer resources.
  • Make sure your brand digital channels are up to date including website, blog, social network profiles, and Google My Business listings.
  • Commit to video – convert marketing message activities to video and if you have live video access on LinkedIn for execs or your brand – start using it now.
  • Optimize your digital channels: Refresh SEO, social, online advertising and influencer efforts. Identify what is working and reallocate resources and budget as appropriate.
  • Reinforce efforts and communications to support community, employees and customers affected through supply of resources, technology or expertise.

Marketers focused on being the best answer for their customers are agile and understand the importance of being responsive to changes, even as large as the Coronavirus pandemic. Being responsible to the health and safety of employees, customers and community should be the top priority while also understanding that the need for information and solutions might slow or change but not stop. We still need to do our jobs and provide useful information, we just need to do it differently.

 

The post Should COVID-19 Stop B2B Marketers From Marketing? appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

What’s the most fascinating writer tip you’ve uncovered from this post?

https://wordtothewise.com/2020/03/authentication-at-office365/

This is a followup from a post a few weeks ago about authentication changes at Office365. We have some more clarity on what is going on there. This is all best information we have right now.

Outlook Logo

Microsoft is now requiring authentication to match the visible from address in order to reach the inbox at Office365. That means, either the SPF domain or the DKIM domain must align (in the DMARC sense) to the visible from domain. Simply, that means that the visible from and the signing domain must be identical or one must be a subdomain of the other.

The reason they’re doing this is to protect their users from forged emails. I can’t fault them for this at all. Many of their customers are SMBs. These businesses are targets for wire fraud, to the tune of tens of billions of dollars. In fact, one of the other companies my bookkeeper worked for in CA almost got roped in by this fraud back in 2016 or so.

Microsoft has always been looking for ways to validate the visible from address. That’s a big part of their push for SenderID, which suffered really poor uptake. This is leveraging the philosophy of DMARC and the improvement in support for authentication technology that’s developed over the last 15 years.

Adapting to this will be challenging for some ESPs, particularly those that service the SMB market. At many of these companies, handling technical issues is often handled by employees who manage technology as a small part of their job. Thus, there is a steep learning curve when trying to deploy new technology. Others have consultants or outsourced technology, many of whom are great at handling internal Windows networks and hardware, but don’t really get the intricacies of email authentication.

I see this as somewhat akin to Yahoo deploying DMARC p=reject. That was a significant and email breaking change implemented by Yahoo in response to specific security issues. This made it clear to other consumer mail providers, email intermediaries and receivers that DMARC was something they’d have to adapt to. That adaptation was neither easy nor cost free. But it did force a change in how ESPs were doing business.

Here, we have Office365 making a decision that is significant and email breaking, even for some of their customers. It may be that longer term we see other consumer webmail providers starting to tighten down their requirements for alignment even in the absence of a DMARC record. I don’t think it’s that unreasonable, ESPs have had 6 years to build the infrastructure to manage this.

The takeaway here is that if your customers are having problems getting mail into Office365, one of your first troubleshooting steps should be to ensure that authentication aligns with the visible from address. If it doesn’t fix that first. Of course, alignment is not magic wand into the inbox. If your content is spammy or your reputation is poor, your mail will go to the bulk folder.

How will you apply the knowledge from this post?

https://econsultancy.com/the-best-digital-marketing-stats-weve-seen-this-week-72/

This time we’ll be covering fake reviews, political campaigns, TV advertising and more. If that’s not enough, head on over to the Internet Statistics Database.

72% of global consumers demand better standards to tackle fake reviews

 A study from Bazaarvoice claims that 72% of consumers from the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia believe that stricter procedures should be put in place to tackle fake reviews posted on retail websites.

The most popular rule that respondents said they’d like enforced is that only verified customers should be permitted to post reviews (43%). Requiring shoppers to try and test products before launch, as well as daily assessment of the reviews posted to a brands’ website, came in second and third place with 38% and 34% approval respectively.

Participants from the UK believe that a fine of 12% of total revenue would be the most fitting penalty for brands who breach these standards, but this may not be as severe when compared to the sales lost through lack of trust if reviews are thought to be fake or otherwise manipulated. Indeed, further results showed that 48% of UK consumers would not buy a product online if they suspected foul play, and 43% said that their trust in the brand would be lost. As a result, a significant 78% claimed that they would stop purchasing from a brand after they were deemed untrustworthy.

The top triggers for consumers when trying to spot suspicious reviews were identified as similar phrasing across multiple posts, as well as too many 5-star ratings.

Ratings and Reviews Best Practice Guide

42% of UK adults are getting coronavirus information from social media platforms

Recent data published by Brandwatch suggests that as many as 42% of the British public continue to obtain coronavirus information from social media platforms.

The findings, collated from the responses of more than 2000 UK adults, showed that while the majority (69%) use news outlets, there remains a worryingly large proportion that rely on social platforms for updates on the virus.

Earlier this month, Facebook, Google and Twitter announced that they were working with the World Health Organisation to crack down on the spread of misinformation about the outbreak by removing posts promoting conspiracy theories and false cures. However, the deluge of recent activity on these platforms has proven almost impossible to control, despite the platforms’ best efforts to point people in the direction of correct and accurate information.

It is therefore difficult to tell how much of this coronavirus content is factual vs. conjecture. Then again, it is important to note that although much more reliable than uncorroborated Twitter commentary, some news outlets may also be dubiously trustworthy.

Additional results from the study claimed that nearly a quarter of respondents received updates from friends and family, thereby making room for further levels of speculation and rumour. In contrast, just 16% said that healthcare professionals were one of their sources for updates and advice, ranking as the least used information resource of all categories measured in the survey.

viral marketing

Coronavirus: how travel and hospitality brands should respond

72% of Americans believe that no personal data should be shared with political campaigns looking to target voters online

72% of Americans believe that no personal data should be shared with political campaigns looking to target voters online, according to analytics brand Gallup.

Interestingly, this view is shared evenly amongst those of differing political allegiance in the US, with 69% of Democrats, 72% of independents and 75% of Republicans all in agreement.

A fifth of those surveyed felt it was appropriate for campaigns to be able to view basic information about internet users such as their age, gender and zip code, but remain limited to these broad categories to protect privacy. Just 7% were happy to disclose any available online information about themselves, including very specified data.

It also appears that the American public would prefer to receive information about those targeting them than to disclose anything about themselves. Fifty-nine percent stated that it should be compulsory for websites to reveal the source of political ads, including who had paid for it, the amount spent on the campaign and its intended target audience. This would certainly improve transparency, as well as accountability if an ad was proven to be deceptive or factually incorrect.

Meanwhile, one in five thought that no political ads should be shown on websites at any time, in order to stop political parties targeting voters online.

target

48% of British adults think that female objectification in advertising is unchanged or worse than it was five years ago

A YouGov study published on International Women’s Day has revealed that 48% of British adults think that female objectification in advertising is unchanged or worse than it was five years ago.

Troublingly, the largest proportion of respondents – 36% – claim that objectification has remained the same as it was in 2015. Furthermore, of those who believe the situation has improved over this time period, a tiny 7% said that women were ‘much less’ objectified, while 29% said ‘a little less’.

Views are more upbeat when it comes to overall female representation in advertising, as almost half claim that they have seen women portrayed more positively than they were five years ago – although it is worth noting that just 7% said this was a ‘much more’ positive change (as opposed to a slight change).

It appears, however, that the greatest transformation is being seen in the representation of women from ethnic minority groups. Sixty-five percent stated that they had observed either ‘a little’ or ‘much more’ representation of this group compared to 2015, which although isn’t necessarily an overwhelming majority seems to be a much bigger step in the right direction.

The results from these three surveys suggest that consumers aren’t noticing really powerful positive change in the way women are portrayed in advertising; instead they are observing mostly small changes over prolonged periods of time. As a result, marketers must improve their efforts to convince them that they are treating the issue with the upmost importance.

18 smart women in SEO to follow on Twitter

36% of Gen X find new brands through TV advertising

36% of Gen X are exposed to new brands through TV advertising, according to data from GlobalWebIndex.

Known as the ‘forgotten generation’, and sandwiched between baby boomers and millennials, the study has shed light on the way in which people born between 1964 and 1982 use different types of media and are therefore exposed to brand advertising.

Despite the growing popularity of streaming services, Gen X continue to watch linear TV channels for an average of 2 hours a day – 23 minutes longer than millennials and 45 minutes longer than Gen Z do. As a result, their exposure to traditional TV advertising is heightened compared to that of the generations that come after them, but second to that of baby boomers (42% of which find new brands through TV).

While Gen X are slowly adopting a more digital approach when it comes to watching TV, only a quarter of them watch via online streaming services on mobile devices, instead preferring to watch on TV sets they grew accustomed to in their youth (34%).

However, this isn’t to say that Gen X are shying away from technology. One in six state that they are constantly connected to online platforms, and they spend around two hours on average on social media each day – a figure which is gradually rising.

This data proves that marketers should target the Gen X audience using a wide variety of channels to reflect their technology use, rather than a digital-first approach adopted for their counterparts in younger generations.

Retailers see a 42.2% year-on-year rise in app downloads during Cyber Week

A report from Poq Commerce states that retailers saw a 42.2% year-on-year increase in app downloads during Cyber Week 2019. The most downloads were recorded during the 24 hours covering Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) which fell on 29th November last year.

This rapid rise in app downloads echoes changes in consumer shopping behaviour whereby many prefer to keep updated with the early holiday sales via mobile devices, aided by push notifications and so on.

POQ commerce daily retail app downloads q4 2019

Graph via Poq Commerce

The study measured a total of 387,000 hours spent by users on retail apps on Black Friday alone. Consumers were also 16% quicker than usual to add an item to their shopping basket during Cyber Week, proving a higher intent to purchase than any other week during the year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, retailers found that using the word ‘deal’ in app push notifications sparked the most engagement and sales compared to using alternative copy.

Meanwhile, there was a 33.3% increase in shopping app downloads (YoY) over the whole of Q4 2019, which covers a range of shopping events including Cyber Week, Christmas shopping and Boxing Day sales, all of which contribute to a higher sales volume and spend over this period.

It is predicted that shopping apps will make up 25% of all online traffic for retailers that have one by the end of 2020.

The post The best digital marketing stats we’ve seen this week appeared first on Econsultancy.

What’s the most intriguing email software you’ve ascertained this week?

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void

Today is one of the strangest days of my life. I woke up and I have no scheduled work … for months. I am looking at an empty void in my schedule, perhaps for the first time since I was 15 years old.

As a speaker, consultant, and educator, I knew I was vulnerable to a recession and I’m prepared. But I could have never imagined — even in a recession — that ALL of my work, speaking, and even university teaching could be canceled for months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

I even had to cancel my May marketing Uprising retreat, which was a punch to the gut because it is my favorite thing to do.

For some perspective on the pace of my life, I never put my suitcase away. My career is so busy, I simply leave it out and re-load it every week. This morning, I put my suitcase away. And I don’t know when it will come back out.

That is more than symbolic. It is significant.

I’m realizing that the psychological and emotional challenges of this impending isolation will be as great, or greater, than the financial burdens.

What happens when you suddenly and dramatically look into a long, dark, extended void in your professional life?

The psychological strains of the void

First, I have many positives right now.

  • Many people will be challenged by working from home, but I’m accustomed to it and I have a comfortable workspace.
  • As I wrote previously, I have a work plan. Even though my “paid” work has dried up, I will have plenty of tasks to catch up on.
  • I live in the country on a lake. So, there are worse places to be isolated. And I’m married, so I’m not alone.

Compared to many, many others — especially in the speaking industry — I realize how fortunate I am!

But this does not excuse me from the specter of psychological depression. I am working through significant trauma and I need to be aware of the implications of this void.

What happens when you’re going a hundred miles an hour and it drops to zero … into the distant future?

For me, I think the challenges are purpose, isolation, and structure.

Purpose

The difference in my situation is that I’m not merely working from home now. Nearly every professional activity that keeps me going has evaporated. I have no scheduled work and I have no professional purpose at this moment.

My core mission is teaching people — through classes, workshops, consulting, and speeches — and if the teaching is gone, it feels like my purpose is gone, at least on this day.

Even my writing routine has been upended. The topics I love to think and write about — marketing ideas and strategy — seem insignificant at this moment.

I think this is the number one challenge as I look into the void — find a purpose that drives me to get up and motivated every day. I am still processing this, but the solution will probably be working on a new book. I’ve had an idea for a while now and this is an opportunity to push it forward and open some new doors.

It will take me a few days to re-orient and I’ll allow myself time to ease into a new view of work and a purpose that is somewhat different than it was last week.

Isolation

I’m a person who thrives on deep discussions and big ideas. The very best part of my professional life is sharing a meal with a smart friend and solving the problems of the world.

Today, I was supposed to be visiting with one of these big-thinking friends in Nevada. But he cares for an elderly parent and was concerned that having me visit could bring the virus into the house. It seemed risky to have me visit. So, I flew home instead.

I’m realizing that for the next few weeks and months, I’m not just off the road, I’ll probably be sequestered. I’m determined to have more phone/Skype conversations with friends and colleagues but it’s not the same as lingering over coffee or visiting a friend.

I can’t envision a replacement for this. I may go stir crazy!

Structure

The structure of my professional life is determined by the next challenge. Every week, I’m looking ahead and preparing for the next event, client, or class. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

As of today, I have no structure to my worklife. There is nothing to prepare for next week or even next month.

I’ll have to impose structure and routine or I think my life could dissolve into frustration and endless distractions.

So, I am literally going to block out time during the week and schedule:

  • Exercise
  • Writing
  • Phone conversations
  • New projects and partnerships
  • Reading
  • Hobbies

I’m pretty good at sticking to a schedule so I’m optimistic about this, even if my schedule is self-imposed!

I know many of you are facing similar issues and I thought that by revealing my thoughts we could open a conversation on the psychological impact of what’s ahead.

What’s happening in your world and how are you coping?

Keynote speaker Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world. Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

The post Looking into the void appeared first on Schaefer Marketing Solutions: We Help Businesses {grow}.

Hit the like button if you love this info!

https://econsultancy.com/the-best-digital-marketing-stats-weve-seen-this-week-72/

This time we’ll be covering fake reviews, political campaigns, TV advertising and more. If that’s not enough, head on over to the Internet Statistics Database.

72% of global consumers demand better standards to tackle fake reviews

 A study from Bazaarvoice claims that 72% of consumers from the US, UK, France, Germany and Australia believe that stricter procedures should be put in place to tackle fake reviews posted on retail websites.

The most popular rule that respondents said they’d like enforced is that only verified customers should be permitted to post reviews (43%). Requiring shoppers to try and test products before launch, as well as daily assessment of the reviews posted to a brands’ website, came in second and third place with 38% and 34% approval respectively.

Participants from the UK believe that a fine of 12% of total revenue would be the most fitting penalty for brands who breach these standards, but this may not be as severe when compared to the sales lost through lack of trust if reviews are thought to be fake or otherwise manipulated. Indeed, further results showed that 48% of UK consumers would not buy a product online if they suspected foul play, and 43% said that their trust in the brand would be lost. As a result, a significant 78% claimed that they would stop purchasing from a brand after they were deemed untrustworthy.

The top triggers for consumers when trying to spot suspicious reviews were identified as similar phrasing across multiple posts, as well as too many 5-star ratings.

Ratings and Reviews Best Practice Guide

42% of UK adults are getting coronavirus information from social media platforms

Recent data published by Brandwatch suggests that as many as 42% of the British public continue to obtain coronavirus information from social media platforms.

The findings, collated from the responses of more than 2000 UK adults, showed that while the majority (69%) use news outlets, there remains a worryingly large proportion that rely on social platforms for updates on the virus.

Earlier this month, Facebook, Google and Twitter announced that they were working with the World Health Organisation to crack down on the spread of misinformation about the outbreak by removing posts promoting conspiracy theories and false cures. However, the deluge of recent activity on these platforms has proven almost impossible to control, despite the platforms’ best efforts to point people in the direction of correct and accurate information.

It is therefore difficult to tell how much of this coronavirus content is factual vs. conjecture. Then again, it is important to note that although much more reliable than uncorroborated Twitter commentary, some news outlets may also be dubiously trustworthy.

Additional results from the study claimed that nearly a quarter of respondents received updates from friends and family, thereby making room for further levels of speculation and rumour. In contrast, just 16% said that healthcare professionals were one of their sources for updates and advice, ranking as the least used information resource of all categories measured in the survey.

viral marketing

Coronavirus: how travel and hospitality brands should respond

72% of Americans believe that no personal data should be shared with political campaigns looking to target voters online

72% of Americans believe that no personal data should be shared with political campaigns looking to target voters online, according to analytics brand Gallup.

Interestingly, this view is shared evenly amongst those of differing political allegiance in the US, with 69% of Democrats, 72% of independents and 75% of Republicans all in agreement.

A fifth of those surveyed felt it was appropriate for campaigns to be able to view basic information about internet users such as their age, gender and zip code, but remain limited to these broad categories to protect privacy. Just 7% were happy to disclose any available online information about themselves, including very specified data.

It also appears that the American public would prefer to receive information about those targeting them than to disclose anything about themselves. Fifty-nine percent stated that it should be compulsory for websites to reveal the source of political ads, including who had paid for it, the amount spent on the campaign and its intended target audience. This would certainly improve transparency, as well as accountability if an ad was proven to be deceptive or factually incorrect.

Meanwhile, one in five thought that no political ads should be shown on websites at any time, in order to stop political parties targeting voters online.

target

48% of British adults think that female objectification in advertising is unchanged or worse than it was five years ago

A YouGov study published on International Women’s Day has revealed that 48% of British adults think that female objectification in advertising is unchanged or worse than it was five years ago.

Troublingly, the largest proportion of respondents – 36% – claim that objectification has remained the same as it was in 2015. Furthermore, of those who believe the situation has improved over this time period, a tiny 7% said that women were ‘much less’ objectified, while 29% said ‘a little less’.

Views are more upbeat when it comes to overall female representation in advertising, as almost half claim that they have seen women portrayed more positively than they were five years ago – although it is worth noting that just 7% said this was a ‘much more’ positive change (as opposed to a slight change).

It appears, however, that the greatest transformation is being seen in the representation of women from ethnic minority groups. Sixty-five percent stated that they had observed either ‘a little’ or ‘much more’ representation of this group compared to 2015, which although isn’t necessarily an overwhelming majority seems to be a much bigger step in the right direction.

The results from these three surveys suggest that consumers aren’t noticing really powerful positive change in the way women are portrayed in advertising; instead they are observing mostly small changes over prolonged periods of time. As a result, marketers must improve their efforts to convince them that they are treating the issue with the upmost importance.

18 smart women in SEO to follow on Twitter

36% of Gen X find new brands through TV advertising

36% of Gen X are exposed to new brands through TV advertising, according to data from GlobalWebIndex.

Known as the ‘forgotten generation’, and sandwiched between baby boomers and millennials, the study has shed light on the way in which people born between 1964 and 1982 use different types of media and are therefore exposed to brand advertising.

Despite the growing popularity of streaming services, Gen X continue to watch linear TV channels for an average of 2 hours a day – 23 minutes longer than millennials and 45 minutes longer than Gen Z do. As a result, their exposure to traditional TV advertising is heightened compared to that of the generations that come after them, but second to that of baby boomers (42% of which find new brands through TV).

While Gen X are slowly adopting a more digital approach when it comes to watching TV, only a quarter of them watch via online streaming services on mobile devices, instead preferring to watch on TV sets they grew accustomed to in their youth (34%).

However, this isn’t to say that Gen X are shying away from technology. One in six state that they are constantly connected to online platforms, and they spend around two hours on average on social media each day – a figure which is gradually rising.

This data proves that marketers should target the Gen X audience using a wide variety of channels to reflect their technology use, rather than a digital-first approach adopted for their counterparts in younger generations.

Retailers see a 42.2% year-on-year rise in app downloads during Cyber Week

A report from Poq Commerce states that retailers saw a 42.2% year-on-year increase in app downloads during Cyber Week 2019. The most downloads were recorded during the 24 hours covering Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) which fell on 29th November last year.

This rapid rise in app downloads echoes changes in consumer shopping behaviour whereby many prefer to keep updated with the early holiday sales via mobile devices, aided by push notifications and so on.

POQ commerce daily retail app downloads q4 2019

Graph via Poq Commerce

The study measured a total of 387,000 hours spent by users on retail apps on Black Friday alone. Consumers were also 16% quicker than usual to add an item to their shopping basket during Cyber Week, proving a higher intent to purchase than any other week during the year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, retailers found that using the word ‘deal’ in app push notifications sparked the most engagement and sales compared to using alternative copy.

Meanwhile, there was a 33.3% increase in shopping app downloads (YoY) over the whole of Q4 2019, which covers a range of shopping events including Cyber Week, Christmas shopping and Boxing Day sales, all of which contribute to a higher sales volume and spend over this period.

It is predicted that shopping apps will make up 25% of all online traffic for retailers that have one by the end of 2020.

The post The best digital marketing stats we’ve seen this week appeared first on Econsultancy.

9 Keys to Creating an Effective Writing Accountability Group

In a writing conference I once attended with novelist Ron Carlson, he said, “You wouldn’t not show up for a coffee date with a friend, so why don’t you show up for yourself?”

Despite our best intentions, we often let our distractions prevent us from showing up to the page.

An accountability group can provide the structure you need to stay on track. Why? Because we’re simply more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down, share them with a group and check in over time.

Plus, having the support of others is a solid strategy for combatting self-sabotage and resistance.

Creating a Successful Accountability Group

So how do you get started?

Here’s what you need to consider when creating your own writing accountability group.

1. Define your accountability group’s purpose

Imagine your ideal writing group. Are they reading your work and offering you specific feedback?

Or do you imagine the shared camaraderie of discussing the writing process? Or maybe you just want writing friends to hold you accountable to your self-imposed deadlines?

Imagining your perfect writing group will help you think about the types of people you want to include.

2. Find people who are the right fit

Will you meet online in or in real life? If you’re simply seeking accountability, the group doesn’t need to be made up of writers. In fact, sometimes the best beta readers and critiquers aren’t writers.

When creating an accountability group, it’s often best to work with individuals with whom you have weak ties. These people are vested in you enough to help you succeed but aren’t so involved in your life that they aren’t objective about your situation. In other words, it isn’t easy to be accountable with your mother or best friend. A coworker, neighbor, or acquaintance is likely to work better.

To find these people, post a flyer at your local writing center, browse online writing groups, approach writing conference attendees, connect via social media, or consider a NaNoWriMo challenge.

3. Determine how and when the group will meet

The more vested you are in the group’s or your accountability partner’s success, the more likely you will meet your own goals. In other words, success fosters success.

Having an opportunity to see the individuals, either in person or online, allows that relationship to grow more quickly. Use Skype or a Google Hangout if you can’t meet in person. It’s easier to skip out posting each week to an online forum, but once you’ve connected with people via video you are less likely to no-show for a group meeting.

Create a schedule for the meetings. An hour a week is usually plenty of time to share goals and discuss challenges. You may need a two-hour meeting if you’re critiquing each others’ writing. Holding meetings at the same time each week or month helps foster a routine.

4. Choose your group size

If you plan to review each other’s work, the ideal group size is between 3-5 people.

This will give you several different sources of feedback while remaining small enough that everyone has time to share regularly.

If you just want someone to hold you accountable to your writing practice, however, having one committed accountability partner may be enough.

5. Commit to a length of time to work together

Choose a time commitment for your group. Maybe everyone wants to try it for three months or six months.

Once you’ve worked together for a few months, committing for a year might feel comfortable.

6. Create SMART goals

Follow the SMART goal format. If you’re in the midst of your “shitty first draft,” you might set a word count goal for the week.

If you’re rewriting, working for a specified amount of time each day or for the week will allow more flexibility.

7. Determine how much work you’ll share

Having a predetermined sharing schedule will create a structure for critiquing others’ work and submitting your own. For example, one writing group I participated in had members share 20-40 pages of work every two months. The pages were submitted two weeks prior to our monthly critique sessions.

Often sharing a larger section of work once a month or once every several months will give your reader an opportunity to get more of the flow of the story. We had each group member share overall feedback plus mark the text with specific feedback.

8. Ask for what you need

The more momentum the group creates, the more this will spill over to each individual. Help each other!

If you need a midweek check-in to keep you focused, ask for it. Do you need help with dialogue or characterization? Would you like help line-editing? What are you worried about? How can the group help?

Be specific about what you need, and you’re more likely to receive it.

9. Celebrate your successes

Having an accountability group will help you get unstuck and move forward. Take time to reflect on the group’s accomplishments. This will foster continued momentum and help you see how much the accountability group has helped propel you forward.

Writing is a solitary practice, but you don’t need to do it all by yourself. An accountability group will provide the support, motivation and structure needed to have you meet your writing goals week after week.

Have you worked with an accountability group? How has it helped your writing?

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Photo via Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock 

The post 9 Keys to Creating an Effective Writing Accountability Group appeared first on The Write Life.