Business Blogging – Just Do It
Getting noticed is the key to a successful marketing campaign. Learning how business blogging works, and regularly updating to keep your content fresh, is one of the most powerful tools in the kit for getting your brand noticed. A popular business blog has other advantages, as well. Here’s what you need to know about business blogging.
It’s a simple question: how do your future customers find you? Typing your company name directly into the address bar would bring them straight to you, of course, but those customers know who you are already. There are direct-mail options, bitterly resented as spam, with terrible conversion ratios, and there are expensive advertisements that stop driving traffic to your site the moment the ads stop running. A blog, however, contains fresh, authoritative content that can be found by search engines and delivered to browsers who may never have heard of you before.
Drive Targeted Traffic
Your blog is almost certainly about something. Usually, this is the product, service, or industry you specialise in. What’s nice about this is that it helps drive traffic to your site that’s heavily slanted toward people who are already interested in becoming customers for your type of company. Setting up a business blog that’s focused on your area of expertise draws visitors from all over the world who have essentially been pre-screened for their interest in you.
Develop the Authority and Personality of Your Brand
Effective business blogging establishes you as an authority in your industry. People usually do some online research before making a major purchase decision. By making your blog the go-to resource for answering people’s questions, you automatically take on a high profile as the experts in your field. That perceived expertise makes your brand the default option for customers looking to buy. Below are a few more interesting stats from Marketing Tech Blog which reinforce the power of content when it comes to how consumers want to know about your company.
Drive Engagement for Your Social Media
One of the frequently overlooked perks of running a business blog is the sense of community that forms around it. While it’s a smart idea to use your social media followings to drive traffic to your company’s blog, the process works in reverse, too. Running an effective and engaging business blog gathers a public following around you and encourages people to identify as part of your online community. That sense of community makes it easy to connect people, via your blog, to your other social media platforms and increase the size of your audience across the board. The extra followers your blog recruits for your company’s Twitter feed and Facebook community make it far more likely that your updates will be promoted and shared, making it easier to create genuinely viral content.
Generate Qualified Leads
Business blogs are highly effective at driving sales and generating leads. The content you post is already drawing visitors who are uniquely interested in what you have to offer, making your blog following a recruiter’s dream. By including a simple call to action somewhere near the end of each post, you give visitors the chance to take another step toward becoming customers. Usually, this involves filling out a form that passes contact information, from a very interested person, remember, to your marketing team. Leads don’t get more qualified than that, and the contacts you get through your blog are self-selected to be the most receptive to your eventual sales approach.
If you don’t want to go with the CTA at the end of the post, you could go with the backlinko method where you have a sidebar email subscription box on the blog with a strong message ‘Join 13,258 other people’ and if you’re really gutsy, have a popup. Be careful if you do use popups as this can be hit or miss so perhaps experiment with different times when it appears on the website. To read more about generating leads from your blog, check out this post on the SEMrush blog.
Encourage Conversions and Sales
This is where the business blog justifies the time and expense of maintaining it. Not only has its position in search results drawn a potentially huge audience, its content has served to retain visitors who are the most interested in what your company offers. A clickable call to action generates a list of people who are ready to become customers and delivers that list directly to your sales force.
Whether you’re just thinking about starting a business blog, or you’ve been blogging for awhile, and you want to improve your conversion rate, Webquacker is glad to help. Get in touch to find out what we can do to raise your profile across the board and turn your visitors into customers.
10 Social Media Tools You Shouldn’t Be Without
Social media work really well at connecting your brand with a wide public. If you’re just using the platforms themselves, though, you aren’t getting the most out of them. Just about every social media platform you use can be even more useful if you add a few social media marketing tools to your kit to help you manage content. Here are ten of the best:
Buffer is like the unpaid intern you wish you had to manage multiple social media accounts. Buffer lets you upload content, post it at optimal times, and track how well you’ve done with an easy to use interactive dashboard. If you’re regularly posting to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, Buffer is a full-service social media tool for getting it all done quickly. The free version allows you to schedule 10 tweets a day which for non digital marketing businesses is more than suffice to spread across a day. The dashboard is so aesthetically pleasing and they also give you access to analytical data which summarises the performance of each of your tweets scheduled through the system.
Hootsuite is the real deal. Anybody who’s serious about managing their company’s online presence needs to use Hootsuite (maybe by getting in touch with a friendly Hootsuite ambassador?). Hootsuite gives you an intuitive dashboard interface that acts as a kind of Mission Control for your social media campaigns. It lets you post across multiple platforms, track results, and gauge the campaign’s effectiveness on every level, from the single tweet to the whole cross-platform blitz. It’s the most popular social media marketing tool, and after using it to schedule your Tweets, Google+ posts, and Facebook posts you’ll understand why.
Tip: Hootsuite offers this pretty cool feature called ‘AutoSchedule‘ – as the name suggests, by autoscheduling your content, Hootsuite will schedule the content at an optimal time based on their algorithm which uses factors such as your personal history, sharing patterns and follower feedback. This means you can focus on finding good content and let Hootsuite work out when to share it with your followers.
If you have just dipped your feet in Google+ or a veteran, it’s definitely worth your while to check out Circloscope as a Google+ relationship management tool. Head over here to sign up to their free version which includes a number of key benefits such as:
Now we have no excuse to not connect with users that are relevant and useful because they may have shared your content or if you’d like to connect with members from another community which you’re not connected to already. The premium version is worth considering if you want to add or remove people in masses and manage multiple pages.
The only thing worse than being talked about . . . is not being talked about. Mention is what’s commonly called a “listening app” that monitors the buzz you’re generating across social media platforms. The Mention App will notify you each time your brand, product or virtually anything related to your specified phrases are mentioned on social media, blogs, news sites or forums. Each time you’ve been mentioned a notification can come through to you via the web or their Android and iOS app or you could set it up so one email comes through at the end of the day summarising all mentions.
The free version allows 1 mention to be tracked with a maximum of 100 mentions per month or you could move up to the premium version which tracks 500 mentions per month at $19.99/month. To read a full overview of Mention, head over to Ian Cleary’s blog post here.
By plugging in certain key words and phrases, Mention helps keep you on top of what your potential customers are reading, looking at, and talking about, which helps you position yourself right in front of them over and over again by posting relevant content.
Pocket is great if you need to quickly pull and collate stand-out articles from various sources, either for research or for the blog you’re curating. What makes Pocket, formerly Read It Later, so helpful is that it’s everywhere you need it to be. It’s integrated with over 500 apps, works seamlessly with Twitter, and can act as a central location for holding hot articles you—or your content manager—will be posting later through your own accounts.
Nimble does for sales what cavalry did for the Middle Ages—make everything faster, more maneuverable, and harder-hitting. Nimble sorts through the absurdly long list of contacts you need to maintain and pulls up just the contact you’re looking for based on hashtags and key search phrases in its Important Contacts feature. Nimble also has a really generous space for keeping notes at every stage of a transaction, so you can go back later and figure out why one deal worked while another fell through. You’d think the monthly investment would be considerable for a nifty tool like this right? Their business plans start at $15 / month – worth every dollar!
If you’re a copywriter or blogger within your business that is also responsible for the social media content, I’m guessing time is a scare commodity. Enter CoSchedule, the social media editorial calendar for WordPress which allows you to write your blog posts and schedule your social media updates from your WordPress dashboard.
Watch CoSchedule in action here:
What stood out particularly for me regarding CoSchedule was the fact you can schedule pins to your Pinterest account especially given we haven’t been able to find a reliable tool to date. If you want to see the ease at which you can schedule pins using CoSchedule, head over to Chad Egeland’s post which includes screen shots to illustrate how simple this process is.
To explain OFunnel in the simplest way, think of it as Google Alerts for professional relationships through LinkedIn. So you can set up alerts for businesses, individuals or role. For example, if you were a sales manager for an accountancy software, you could set up alerts on your competitors so that when one of their sales managers added an accountant as their connection you’d be notified.
Another way to use OFunnel might be to determine whether your first degree competitors are chatting to your customers. The only way to determine the value of a tool like this is to try it and OFunnel have a 30 day free trial period.
Tweriod is a handy tool for analysing your followers’ Twitter activity and working out the best time to reach them. The free version keeps an eye on up to 1,000 followers and generates one report a month that shows you how well each of your tweets performed, as well as which times your followers were most active. It doesn’t schedule tweets for you the way Timely used to, however, so you’re on your own there with this social media tool.
Below is a summary of the information you’re provided with when you run their free analysis.
One of the most important elements of social media is surprise surprise, being social and engaging with other people. My final recommendation to this list is a tool specific to Pinterest where the art of reciprocity goes a long way. ViralWoot is a platform which allows you to connect your Pinterest account and earn seeds (effectively a points system) by sharing other pins, liking them or following users. By actively participating in this fashion there is a good chance other users will reciprocate when you share your own pin. Of course you can by pass the liking, pinning by simply purchasing seeds but I find the engagement approach works a lot better.
Do you use any of these social media tools? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below. We’re always working to help entrepreneurs succeed in marketing their brands online. Get in touch for help with your own social media marketing, sign up to follow this awesome blog, or just follow us on our own social media. Also here too.
5 Free Tools for Creating Viral Content
Everything you post online is an investment. The best return on that investment comes when other people find your content and decide to share it on their own. Some of the most effective material can take on a life of its own as it goes viral. Creating viral content can be tricky, though, and it takes practice before you can do it consistently. Here are five free tools to use that will help you create viral content effectively.
Before you create viral content, you have to know what’s trending. What the Trend is a free online tool for finding out what’s trending on Twitter, why it’s gaining ground, and who’s talking about it. It’s ideal for users whose social marketing approach is flexible toward the topics it covers, as it allows marketers to spot opportunities to create viral content as they arise. Pull up What the Trend’s top 10 list, pick a topic, and post some content about it to automatically get your message in front of a huge, active audience.
Alltop is another great resource for figuring out what people are interested in. Billing itself as a kind of “online magazine rack,” Alltop is essentially a headline aggregator that scours the web for active discussions and puts them all together on a single front page that tells you at a glance which subjects are most likely to create viral content for you. Below is a snapshot of some of the hot topics when I searched for topics on ‘social media marketing’. This not only gives you a lot of fresh content but also ideas and concepts to help generate your next piece of content based on what the buzz is.
Going somewhat above and beyond a typical topic aggregator, Storify puts its own mark of the trending issues of the day by letting users quickly scan through multiple social media platforms and draw elements together to create unique commentary. The upshot of using Storify in this way is that you’re all but guaranteed to be posting on subjects the public cares about, and you’ll be doing it in your own unique voice.
This works especially well when you need to give your audience background information about a topic, as Storify lets you sweep up important information for your own timeline. If you’re looking to create viral content that’s topical and informative, you can hardly do better than to pull together the most popular subjects presently on Twitter, Flickr, and Google, among others.
Want to learn more about how to use Storify? Check out this tutorial from Claire Díaz-Ortiz.
Few things make your content as likely to be read, appreciated, and shared as a friendly infographic. Piktochart is meant for the non-professional designer who wants to quickly create professional-looking graphics that can instantly be spread through email, the web, and social media.
What’s especially helpful about Piktochart is that it all but walks you through the process of assembling an infographic. Browse templates, grab an element you want to include in your graphic, and drag it to the canvas. Once the work is done, your eye-catching infographic is ready to share on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Once your content is up, the key to getting it moving is—frankly—to make sharing it as easy as single-clicking a button. Anything more demanding than that, and you’ll be sacrificing readers who can’t be bothered to post it otherwise. Easy sharing is the key to creating viral content, and Digg Digg is by far the easiest free resource available for your blog. Just load its toolbar onto the page, and any reader who’s signed into their social media accounts can spread the word with a single click.
Everyone loves a good quote and while we all can’t be Seth Godin or Gary Vaynerchuk you can take advantage of tools like Quotescover or ReciteThis to create your own memorable moment. In the below example, I happened to have attended a Google Hangout where David Amerland (Author & SEO Professional) threw out this line which resonated with me. I popped over to Quotscover, added a background image and inserted the text (less than 5 minutes of work). This was then shared across my social networks.
I’m sure you’ve seen pie charts, meme’s and animated gif’s floating around especially if you use G+ and Tumblr. If you want to create your own, head over to imgflip and start creating your own visual assets. Below is a quick pie chart I was having a bit of fun putting together on how to go viral on G+ (of course this isn’t exactly the % or formula for success). Give it a shot and see what you can come up with.
Posting great content is only half the battle. Getting noticed is the other half, and making effective use of your social media channels is central to getting noticed. Webquacker specialises in working with partners to successfully position online brands, and we can even help you create viral content of your own. Keep up with us via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. We’d love to hear from you.
6 Tips You Need to Know to Write Effective Headlines
Writing a great headline is the key to turning casual browsers into avid readers. An attention-grabbing headline stands out in the general online din, and a well-crafted headline makes a click-through irresistible. Here are six things to keep in mind when you write headlines that convert.
Speak Directly to Your Reader
Are you interested in knowing that a cat sat on a mat? How about if it’s your cat, and there’s something you need to know about that mat? By switching to the second-person voice, you can talk directly to your reader like the image below.
Words such as “you” and “your” leap out of the headline and tell the reader that herein they will find information that’s valuable to them personally. Getting the attention of a mass audience by writing as if you’re talking to the reader personally is a pretty well-known exploit in human psychology, and it works as well for encouraging further reading as it does for garnering retweets.
Benefits Over Features
Never mind what something is, tell your readers what it does. It’s very interesting that your cat sat on the mat, but if it didn’t have a readily identifiable impact on your readers’ lives it’s probably easier just to skip reading about it. Bring the action home to the reader in every headline by emphasizing benefits over features. “Sitting on Mats Improves Your Cat’s Health” is a far more compelling headline, as it promises information your reader can use in a concrete, real-world way.
If you need a good run down of the differences between a feature and a benefit, be sure to check this contribution by Yuri Lifshits.
Keep It Short
Headlines have a simple job: encourage the reader to move on to the first paragraph of the article. To that end, it’s counterproductive to demand that casual browsers read half a paragraph before letting them in on what the article is about. A study by Schwartz found that 77% of Press Releases on Google News had headlines that were more than 70 characters long. Why is this an issue you ask? Well once you exceed 70 characters your title becomes truncated so whether it be a gmail account or search result, the last thing you want is having the headline cut off.
The best way to combat this potential issue is to manually keep count or you could use a WordPress plugin such as Yoast which tells you how many characters you have remaining and a snippet of how it would appear in the search engine:
So with that bit of research out the way, picture your target audience strolling along a boardwalk at the beach. All along the walk, scores of vendors are calling out to them and trying to make their booth the one the customers stop at. In that hyper-competitive environment, “Git yer prizes here!” plays far better than “May I have your attention? My booth is perhaps the finest you’ll visit today. Here, you’ll find . . . ” Everybody within earshot of that second pitch has moved on before the hawker gets to the second sentence. The Internet is like that boardwalk, only with millions of booths competing for billions of casual visitors. Force a long headline on that crowd, and they’ll be gone before you’ve finished.
Leave A Bit to the Imagination
Studies have shown that 8 out of 10 browsers will read the headlines they come across, but only 2 out of 10 go on to read the whole piece. Part of the reason is that some headlines make reading the article superfluous by giving away the main thesis right in the title. “Sitting on Mats Makes Cats Calmer, Warmer, and Less Prone to Eating Bugs” practically puts the whole article in front of the readers and effectively gives them permission to skip the longer piece underneath. “Three Ways Sitting on Mats Improves Your Cat’s Health,” however, tells readers they’ll have to read on if they want to know what you mean.
I love when we can back up the advice with research which is why I’ll turn your attention to a study by Moz humans don’t like uncertainty so leave enough for the imagination but also be crafty enough to indicate what the reader can expect to read if they click on the headline. Here’s a summary of the type of headlines which resonate best with the audience of this study. Clearly the numbered headlines come out on top because it leaves very little opportunity for the author to digress.
The people you hope will read your posts usually have something else they’d rather be doing. Even on a slow day, the Internet is full of browser games people can be playing instead of reading what you write. Even if the subject of your article is relevant to their interests, many readers will put your article in the “think about it later” basket and move on. Then they forget all about you.
Want to see someone that does it well? Check out Derek Halpern from Social Triggers especially the below example which not only identifies a key problem which many business owners can relate to BUT also raises your curiosity by offering a solution to get them to buy now. I bet you’re itching to find out what that is right? Check out his video …once you’ve finished this article of course 🙂
By creating a sense of urgency, you demand attention right away. Essentially, your headline needs to tell casual onlookers to drop whatever they’re doing and invest fifteen minutes in reading through to your call-to-action. “What You Need to Know About How Mats Affect Cats’ Health” makes readers wonder if they still have time to save their cats’ lives—click immediately and hope it isn’t too late!
Nothing in the world is perfect, and there isn’t one single formula that drives conversion every time. If there were the Internet would have exactly one headline for every article, and people would eventually learn to ignore it. Different combinations of elements in each headline you write will have different effects on your conversion rates. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different arrangements. After all, the Internet has practically unlimited space for content, so if something you write isn’t working out, there’s always the next headline. Keeping the themes in this article in view, you still have a lot of room for variations on them.
Partnering with an experienced content management company can help you zero in on effective conversion techniques, which is why you should get in touch with Webquacker for a consultation. We’d love to hear from you. Be sure to sign up for email updates by using the form below, so we can let you know when this blog has new content for you.
What are Some Ways to Write a Blog Post in Under One Hour?
This post was written in under an hour. Turning out great copy—if I do say so myself—doesn’t have to take valuable time away from the countless other tasks that call on your time while you’re working. In the last post, you saw some of the great statistics that keeping a business blog can do for your company. In this one, you’ll learn some of the tricks and tips that will have you write a blog post in one hour or less without sacrificing the professional quality that makes a blog worth subscribing to.
Research Your Topic
In many ways, the quality of your blog post has been decided even before you draft your outline. Nobody in the world can be an authority on every topic; even a narrowly focused blog will eventually stray into territory you’re not familiar with. The extent of the research you do before you write can be the difference between tight, professional copy and amateurish work that only succeeds in persuading your readers that you don’t know your subject.
Search engines are your friend here. They can also be your enemy, as the temptation to wander off and read about subjects not directly associated with your topic can be hard to resist. Nobody who wants to write a blog post in under one hour can afford that kind of time loss.
One way to avoid that drag on your time is to always be looking for material. As you come across interesting facts and potentially useful resources in the course of normal browsing, make a note of what you’ve found and what kind of blog entry it would be useful for. That way, you’ll always have a list of stuff handy to spare you the slog through sources.
I’ll share a great tip which Mike Allton raised in his post titled ‘How to Blog Like Mike‘ where he explains the use of Evernote (iOS app) to jot down blog post ideas on the go and these can include potential blog titles, points to discuss in the blog post.
That way when it’s time to start writing, you’ve essentially got the concept done and it’s simply a matter of structuring the content.
Source Creative Commons
Speaking of research, Creative Commons is a great source for the images, music, and even scientific or academic materials you’re looking for. Flickr was one of the first large communities to develop CC licensing for images, and when you’re strapped for a picture you’ll usually find something useful there.
Alternatively if you need a post which is packed with websites to obtain free imagery, check out Dustin’s post here.
Use a Question as Your Title
Quick—what’s the best way to start a blog entry? With a question, of course! Using a single, tightly focused question as your title automatically gives purpose to the rest of your article. Rather than maundering around aimlessly in search of a point, to write a blog post in under one hour you need the focus that only a narrowly asked and easily answered question gives.
Dorien from moreinmedia suggests that we should use questions because more users are inclined to discover content by inserting a question in the search engine and also people are more likely to want to know the answer to a question when it pops up as a tweet or a Facebook update (just the curious beings we are).
Define the Structure of Your Blog
The blog format has an almost magical flexibility. Put anything you want wherever you want, and write it up in any style that strikes you right. Unfortunately, that wide-open white space is intimidating, and writer’s block is another thing that’s stopping you from writing a blog post in under one hour. Deciding on the structure of your blog in advance—setting the size of posts, where the linebreak goes on each one, how the visual layout is going to look on each page—does something similar to starting the entry with a question; it gives you a productive framework and encourages you to get writing. Remember—you can always change it later if you wish.
Write Straight into CMS
If you’ve been around the blogging block a time or two, and you have some idea of how you want your post to look when it goes up, try skipping the MS Word and writing directly into your site’s CMS. WordPress is very thoughtful here; their CMS lets you write all you want, bold, italicise, and
all you want with the click of a button. Even if you have a grasp of simple markup languages, time spent looking up a tag is time wasted. Losing your entire post right before it’s finished is another time waster, which is another reason to write into CMS; it has a reliable autosave feature.
Set a Word Count—No Exceptions (Unless You Have To)
Most blog posts run between 350 and 800 words. This one is hovering around 1,000, but that’s because I’m long-winded. Whatever your target word count, set it and stick to it. Giving yourself all the space in the world to write can tempt you into losing focus and writing about every little detail you’re interested in. Setting your count too low forces a superficial approach that doesn’t really inform. Pick a word count, write to it, and only exceed it if the subject really does merit that kind of attention.
If you want to base your word count on research, check this study by Neil Patel on the correlation between the length of a post and the number of social shares:
The stats indicate that the average length of a post is around the 700-800 word mark. If you’re a fan of Neil’s, research from Quck Sprout’s blog has found that his articles which exceed 1,500 words receive 68% more tweets and 22% more Facebook likes.
Publish. Seriously, Just Publish the Thing
Even experienced writers sometimes drag themselves across the coals in an ultimately doomed search for perfection. No post is perfectr (true fact: “perfectr” really was a typo when I wrote it!), and endlessly revising the work you’ve done delays your updates and drags out the time each entry takes away from your other duties.
Of course you should proofread, nobody likes reading sloppy copy, but paragraph structure, subheads, and the general thrust of your argument have a way of taking care of themselves. Past a certain point, one more pass isn’t going to help.
So there you go—you really can write a blog post in one hour, and the finished product will be worth looking at when it’s posted. Of course, not everybody has even an hour to spare.
If you want high-quality content for your blog, or if you’re just in the market for a partner to help you get more out of the blog you’re already posting to, get in touch with us and see what Webquacker can do to manage your inbound marketing. You can also use the form below to subscribe to this blog and always know when there’s fresh content going up.