How to Write an Effective Blog Post & 8 Content Topics to Get You Started

Blogging offers an easy way for businesses to share informative content with subscribers, fans and followers. Blogs are often considered at the heart of social media as they present the opportunity for you share better, more engaging content than a typical update on social media. This allows you to provide more value in every piece of content you create, helping you to connect with your audience more and become a valued source of information.

 

What’s Good About Blogging?

  • A great tool for improving search engine rankings
  • Adds personality to your website, showing a ‘human’ side to your business
  • Helps boost industry perception and can place you as an authority in your sector
  •  It’s inexpensive, there are many blog platforms such as WordPress that allow you
    to set up a Blog for free

 

What’s Not so Good About Blogging?

  • Not useful for companies that cannot be open with information
  • A successful blog takes a lot of thought and time so is not suitable for businesses without the time, talent or expertise

 

 

How to Write an Effective Blog Post

🔹Headline🔹
The headline represents one of the most important parts of your blog post. It is the deciding factor on whether a reader is compelled enough to click on and read your blog post or not and for this reason it needs to grab attention and be concise in stating to the reader the benefit of clicking the link and reading the content. Don’t stress out over your blog titles before you start writing. Often, the best titles come after you have already written a post. That being said, it can be helpful to come up with a basic title before you start writing. Whilst 9 times out of 10, you’ll change this title later on, it will in the beginning give you some direction and focus as you write. Whilst there is no
definitive perfect headline template, there are several key characteristics of a powerful headline that compels the reader to click on. Powerful headlines are very concise and specific, they focus on the reader and what interests them and also are keyword-optimised ensuring the right type of reader is going to find them.

✔️Focus on Blog Title Accuracy
Whilst it may be tempting (and is relatively easy) to come up with a headline that gets clicked, for example “10 Tips To Increase Your Productivity By 10,000%”. These types of crazy, outlandish headlines will ultimately destroy your credibility. You
need to ensure that whichever headline format you decide on, the basic premise of your title is accurate and when people click on your headline they are genuinely pleased with the content they discover as it meets their expectations and delivers on whatever promise the headline made.

✔️ Keep your Blog Title Length Short
According to Kissmetrics, the ideal length for a headline is just 6 words as it is easily digestible, short and snappy. When it’s not possible to stick to a 6-word limit however, Buffer suggests using your most important words at the beginning and end of your titles where readers are most likely to notice them.


✔️ Optimise your Blog Title for SEO and Click-throughs

If you want your blog posts to rank for specific keywords or phrases, placing these in your title is vital. Using keywords in your titles is also very important for getting people to click on your posts in the SERP’s (search engine results pages). When people search for a particular phrase, they’re highly likely to click on search results that closely match their search term.

✔️ Google Search
While it is important to include your keywords in your title, you also want to make sure your title is catchy and clickable and makes readers actually want to click through.

✔️ A/B Testing can Make all the Difference
Testing out various headlines on your audience is a time consuming but vital task as having the right headline can make all the difference.

 

 

Example Headline Templates That Grab Attention

  • How to Get The ______ you Want Using ______
  • 5 Secrets your ______ Won’t Tell you About ______
  • 10 Things ______ Can Teach You About ______
  • 5 Little Known Ways to ______
  • The Ultimate Step by Step Guide to ______
  • Best Practices for ______
  • 100 Shocking Statistics About ______
  • Now You Too Can Have ______ with These 5 Easy Steps
  • How to be a World-Class ______ Like ______
  • How to ______ a ______ You Can Be Proud Of
  • 10 Things you Must Know About ______ But Don’t
  • 15 Things you Never Knew about ______
  • 5 Unexpected ways to be Successful at ______
  • Why Your Business Needs to Know About ______
  • 3 Things You Must Do After ______
  • How to ______ in ______Days
  • 20 ______ Every ______ Should Include
  • 10 ______ Mistakes that I Should Have Done Differently
  • Why I Don’t Do ______
  • 11 ______ Tips I Wish I Had Known

 

 

🔹Opening Paragraph 🔹
The opening paragraph or introduction is meant to provide the setup for the main content and put the subject matter into context. This section of the blog post needs to clearly explain to the reader what your blog post is going to address and compel them to feel as though they will achieve a significant benefit from reading on and taking in what you have to say. As a general guide there are several key characteristics of a successful opening paragraph that you need to include.

✔️Be Direct: Online readers prefer to be clearly told what they are about to read and why they should do so. So avoid over complicated, artsy style writing and make it clear to the reader what you are talking about and why they should listen and take note.
✔️Be Concise and Compelling: The success of getting readers to read your whole post lies in how well you convince them at the start of your blog post that they simply have to read on. So whether you are offering exclusive content, a competition or some highly valuable advice, make it clear to the reader and in doing so give them a compelling reason to want to read on.
✔️Be Bold and Creative: Ensure you set yourself apart from other generic blog posts by being creative. Don’t stick to generic writing styles, layouts and subject matter as being bold but still informative and valuable can attract a lot of attention and encourage a reader to carry on and read the whole post.

 

🔹The Main Body 🔹
The main section of your blog will provide the substance to what you have outlined in your title and opening paragraph. It is important within this section you adhere to several characteristics that constitute a well written blog post;
✔️Logical Structure – You need to ensure that your blog follows a clear and logical structure that flows coherently, making the topic easy for your reader to understand.
✔️Short and Succinct Sentences – Short and succinct sentences ensure readers keep interest as it makes your content easily scannable and digestible, an important aspect for skim readers.
✔️Examples and Evidence – Providing evidence and examples that back up your points helps you appear more of an authority with your writing as well as helping your readers to grasp concepts by offering clear and obvious examples that clearly support what you are discussing.
✔️Images – Having a variety of images helps the visual appeal of your post as they break up the blocks of text and help to visually illustrate specific points.

🔹Conclusion 🔹
The conclusion should be a short statement that clearly summarises and wraps up your post. This is the area when you should also include a clear call to action in which you
direct the reader onto a next step after they have finished reading your post. Whether it is a link to an external site or encourages them to subscribe, you need to ensure the
connection with you doesn’t end when your blog post does.

 

🔹Proof Reading and Optimisation 🔹
Once you have finished writing your blog you need to consider the important factors of proof reading and optimisation before you publish your post. This process includes a thorough read through of your blog looking into areas such as formatting, grammar, spelling, keyword placement and other optimisation opportunities.

Look to analyse these several key areas;

  • Strategically Placed Keywords – By including relevant keywords and phrases that your target readers are using and strategically placing them throughout your blog post you tailor your content in a way that is going to ensure you are targeting reader’s needs and the chance for maximum search engine visibility. Look to strategically place these keywords across your post from your URL, to your blog title and subheadings.
  • General Formatting – Ensure your blog post is readable and visually appealing by thoroughly checking your formatting and paying attention to key areas such as including sub-headings to help break up text, breaking large blocks of text with images, being consistent with font choice and text size and generally ensuring ease of read with succinct sentence structure and clearly made points.
  • Correct Links and Visuals – If you have included links ensure that they point to the correct location. If you have included visuals such as pictures and videos also ensure you reference and credit where you got them from.

 

 

🔹8 Quick Content Ideas for Blog Posts🔹

Tips and How-To’s
Providing informative tips, advice and how-to posts can be very useful to your customers and has the added benefit of promoting your product and its uses.

Behind the Scenes/ A Day in the Life of
People love to see behind the scenes as it shows them an aspect of your business that they wouldn’t normally see. ‘Day in the life’ posts are a popular example.

Contests and Other Exclusive Content
Running a contest and sharing exclusive content always generate engagement and interest. Just make sure the content and/or prize you offer is relevant and valuable to your audience.

Relevant Industry News and Updates
If you know any relevant news/ events that are going to interest or affect your customers then share it with them and you will become a trusted industry news source.

Compile a Useful Resource List
If you come across any valuable and informative resources such as links, websites, books and products related to your business and industry, then share it with your customers. This can go some way towards establishing your blog as a trusted source of information.

Customer Testimonials / Success Stories
A customer testimonial goes a long way in terms of establishing credibility and interest in your product or service. So if you have received a good recommendation or someone has found another useful use for your product then share it on your blog.

Interviews with Industry Leaders/ Key Figures
If you have an industry expert that is of interest to your customers or have celebrity contacts then conducting an interview and sharing it on your blog is a sure fire way to attract attention, even more so if they share exclusive content.

Content that Helps Humanise Your Brand
Sharing stories from your business founders, staff members, charity work to your business morals and values and your business highs and lows helps your audience get to know and care about you as it shows there exists a real human behind your real business.

 

Top Tip: There are plenty of ideas for content out there. Every
book you read, event you attend, blog you visit and interview on
the news you hear, is rich with ideas for content. So keep your
eye out and keep a notepad handy so you always write down
any ideas.

 

But what happens for those times when you run dry? Here are four tools to help generate content for your blog:

✔️Google Trends: Google Trends keeps you up to date on the day-to-day pulse of your audiences’ interests. With Google Trends you can see the frequency and popularity of Google searches related to your topic and test the subject with Google Trends.
✔️MyBlogU: This free online platform allows you to crowdsource and brainstorm with other content creators.
✔️Quora: This is a crowd-sourced, question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organised by its community of users. This can help lead you to the types of questions that real people are asking. As well as having the benefit of building your authority, engagement, and traffic from being a regular contributor on Quora.
✔️Buzzsumo: A fantastic source for research, with Buzzsumo you enter a topic or a URL in its search box and then displays a wealth of information. Buzzsumo provides backlinks and shows the content that performs best on social media.

 


This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! For even more of a free preview head over there now! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD


 

6 Essential Questions to Ask Before You Get Started Using LinkedIn Company Pages

With more than 562 million members in over 200 countries and territories, LinkedIn has established itself as the world’s largest online network for professionals. Having a company page on LinkedIn therefore can provide you with an invaluable platform for promoting your business, recruiting new talent and interacting and engaging with a wide audience of professionals in your industry.

Setting up a LinkedIn company page is fairly simple; it is the lack of creating a thorough marketing plan with essential factors regarding the running and development of a page that ends up with many businesses making costly mistakes. In order for you to ensure you don’t make these mistakes and fully maximise having a LinkedIn company page you need you ask yourself these 6 essential questions;

 

Who is Going to set up and Maintain my Business Page?
Before you begin, you need to have a clear idea of who is going to be creating and maintaining your LinkedIn company page. Whether you assign the role to an existing member of staff or hire an external social media manager you need to ensure that the person that will be in charge of representing your business on LinkedIn is capable, with the knowledge and experience of how to successfully utilise LinkedIn and ultimately make it a successful addition to your marketing strategy.

 

How Should I Portray my Business?
Like with any other public platform you need to consider how you are going to portray your business to others and how you are going to link it with your other marketing efforts. As part of this consideration you will need to address areas such as how you are going to tie your branding to the overall typography and visual aspects of the page to what type of voice you want to portray within your status updates and of course what your overall objectives are for the page. Making sure your business is presented in a representative and appealing way is crucial so you need to ensure you have a clear understanding of how you want your business to appear to your audience and how and what you can utilise to help you achieve it.

 

What Images and Resources can I Utilise?
LinkedIn allows you opportunities to utilise the visual on your page. From the large cover image to allowing a variety of content types to be shared within updates, it is vital that you pull your resources and utilise these areas to help make your business inform, engage and stand out from the crowd. So look to see what visual aspects of LinkedIn you can use to your advantage, remembering to choose attention-grabbing images that reflect your brand and draws people in to learn more about your business. You also could and should explore the use of different types of content within your updates, from podcasts to eBooks and using brand videos. Mixing up the types of content you share grabs attention and keeps people engaged so pull the resources you have at your disposal, from customer testimonials, product demonstrations videos, to webinar footage and behind-the-scenes pictures and share them with your audience.

 

Have I Got a Clear Content Strategy in Place?
Posting status updates lets you reach out to and share news with LinkedIn members who have chosen to follow your company page. From this you need to utilise this connection and form a content strategy that provides value to and resonates with your target audience. You will come to learn what content formats they prefer, what content they interact with most, at what times and how many updates you need to post daily or weekly to maximise effectiveness. Just remember to always share content that is going to entertain, inform and be relevant to your audience and you are likely to be rewarded with engagement and a two-way conversation with your followers that can create business opportunities, help you learn more about your customers’ needs and other beneficial information that can aid your business in the future.

 

How am I Going to Promote my Page?
You need to consider how you are going to let others know about your page which will involve utilising opportunities both online and offline. Online you can use a variety of methods from using your other social media platforms to encourage others to visit your page, to adding a LinkedIn “follow” button to your business website and putting your company page’s URL email signature and your e-newsletters. You can also encourage your employees to create their own LinkedIn profiles and ask them to interact with your business page by sharing statuses and directing connections to the page. Offline you can verbally tell others of your page in any conferences, meetings in addition to putting the URL on your business card, packing and anywhere else your customers/ prospects will see it.

 

How am I Going to Measure the Success of my Page?
How you define the success of you page will depend on what your overall objectives are for your page. Linkedin provides a range of analytics that show everything from who’s visiting your page to what types of content they click on, like and share and at what rates so remember to continually analyse these analytics to see whether you are meeting your objectives for your page and what if any areas are in need of improvement and revaluation.


 

This is an excerpt from my new book “The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses” out now in Paperback on Amazon! For even more of a free preview head over there now! http://amzn.eu/2uuslrD

 


 

What You Can Learn from These 3 Small Businesses Successfully Using Social Media

For most businesses in 2018, having a social media presence is now an essential element of a marketing strategy. Today’s online audiences are online to be informed, engaged and entertained by their favourite brands whilst ultimately expecting their voice to be heard and their needs listened to and met. It is up to you therefore to utilise this social media phenomenon and start reaping the rewards for your business from having a personable, valuable and engaging social media presence.

Whether you are a new business just starting out on social media or have already implemented your social media marketing plan, there is so much value to be gained in seeing examples of what other people and businesses are doing on social media and modelling their best practices. This article showcases three small businesses, that whilst all being in different industries and having different strategies, all display outstanding social media marketing efforts. So without further ado here are my top three small businesses successfully using social media and what you can learn from them.

 

Kim Garst

Kim Garst is a social media expert, successfully informing, influencing and engaging her audience through her small business social media firm, Boom Social. Kim is very active amongst several social media platforms and is a perfect example of someone who has developed a powerful social presence through providing excellent customer service, strong branding and regular, engaging, varied and tailored content that businesses and those looking to start on the entrepreneurial path are drawn to. This approach has established Kim as an renowned thought leader, with her impressive influence within the industry testimony to that.

Kim’s approach to communicating with her audience is definitely one to admire. She really puts the social in social media and takes the time to respond to every social media interaction on her Facebook and Twitter. Whether it is thanking someone for sharing her article, sharing good advice or sharing the many business and social media tips, quotes and motivational pieces she has, she is always active and always listening to her audience, resulting in a presence that not only demonstrates her successful approach to becoming a well trusted, well informed and personable industry influencer but also by providing real-time, socially connected customer service, she is able to create more trust and credibility with her audience.

Another area in which Kim excels is her impressive visual branding, successfully creating a consistent look and feel across her website and all of her social media profiles. Kim makes sure that her advice, quotes, tips and other motivational sayings are delivered on good, high quality branded photos and by combing this approach with another one of her triumphs, that is her impressive use of relevant hashtags on Twitter, such as #socialmedia, #BizTip and #SocialMediaMarketing she is able to ensure that her branded messages target and reach others beyond her immediate circle, making it easy for people searching certain kinds of content to find her.

Ultimately it’s no surprise Kim is a social media expert, she demonstrates her expertise, personality and outstanding customer service skills to businesses worldwide by simply sharing engaging resources and advice through her website and social media platforms and ultimately listening to and engaging with her fans. It’s such a simple strategy but is the very foundation of a successful social media presence.

Key Takeaways

  •     Ensure you humanise your brand by being genuine, honest and authentic in order to create truly personal and meaningful connections.
  •     Aim to become a thought leader in your industry through actively sharing useful resources and tips with your fans.
  •     Maintain a consistent strong branding throughout all of your online presence.
  •     Utilise Hashtags to reach new audiences.
  •     Dedicate time and resources to listening to and engaging with your fans and make demonstrating your excellent customer service skills a priority.

 

 

Brew Dog

BrewDog is a brewery in Scotland using social media to ‘Push limits and challenge conventions with award winning craft beer’. Along the way they are gaining a reputation for courting controversy but at the same time offering a bold, provocative, irreverent and most of all highly impactful and successful approach to social media marketing.

Whilst causing controversy or offence is not for the average content marketer, BrewDog not only gets away with it, but revels in it, due to their complete self-confidence in their philosophy and a no qualms attitude towards telling everyone about it. At the very basic level this shows a great case study of a business with a strong brand ethic, something which should be admired.

Having a strong philosophy (that is, their love of beer and challenging the conventional big breweries) instantly makes every post and status update crafted in a purposeful way and directed towards a goal and BrewDog is testament to this end. With cleverly produced and humorous videos, stunts such as driving a tank through the streets of London, projections onto the British House of Parliament and serving beer out of dead animals, they court controversy, divide opinion and importantly attract publicity and attention for themselves whilst perfectly demonstrating with their edgy, out there image that earns them a very targeted and loyal following.

In the midst of the controversy, BrewDog however is testament of a brand with an excellent social and collaborate strategy, in that they strive to involve their customers is every aspect of their journey. From asking for suggestions for wording on their new labelling, engaging their audience through regular questions on Facebook and Twitter, right through to their brilliantly successful crowd funding venture, they genuinely show they care about their audience and are interested in involving them in the business and listening to their thought and opinions.

Another area in which BrewDog excel is through their ability to successfully capitalise on up-coming events and trends, cleverly ensuring they secure coverage and attention for themselves while continuing to show their personality and appease their loyal following who are expecting these bold, clever and out there antics. Their ‘Hello, my name is Vladimir’, a ‘not for gays’ beer in protest at Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay laws, launched to coincide with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, is a great example of their excellent use of capitalising on a worldwide event. Whilst this controversial approach divides opinion, it ultimately garners them a lot attention which is crucial for small businesses in terms of brand awareness and keeping their brand in front and centre of their target audience’s minds. After all, without this provocative marketing approach BrewDog may not have had such a large impact in a crowded marketplace.

Ultimately, BrewDog have remained true to their philosophy, personality and attitude and this has simply been transferred to their marketing efforts. Through varied, regular and interesting blog posts, to clever and humorous videos to boost viral reach, right through to the two founders being active throughout their social media profiles which helps humanise the brand and show personality, it’s hard to find fault with a brand that is confident, consistent and clever in their approach no matter who it might offend.

Key Takeaways

  •     Be provocative, but only where it suits your brand.
  •     Make strategic use of relevant national or world trends and events to attract attention and grow your fan base.
  •     Be true to your strong brand ethic and recognise the importance of continuing conversation whether or not your brand or your approach is particularly liked.
  •     Put your customers at the forefront of your marketing, always listen to, learn from and encourage and engage your audience.

 

 

Daylesford Farm

Daylesford Farm is an organic farm in Gloucestershire with farmshops and cafes in London. Daylesford Farm is excelling in their social media efforts as they clearly understand the importance of sharing quality content and engaging with their audience and as such have brought the social and collaborative experience to the forefront of their marketing efforts.

Where Daylesford Farm truly excels is within their use of content and engagement strategies. Throughout all their social media channels Daylesford Farm place emphasis on providing valuable, targeted and engaging content fine-tuned to appeal to and capture their audience’s interest and attention. Every tweet, retweet, post and status update is shared with a purpose in mind, so whether it’s offering seasonal recipes to try, great tips, facts, competitions, testimonials, articles promoting sustainability in food and farming, humanising the business through showing the faces behind the brand or news and updates relating to their cookery school, farm shop, cafe and other activities, they ensure that each post is purposeful, informative and useful to their audience. In doing so, Daylesford Farm has given their social media followers lots of reasons to engage with and revisit their profiles and this is reflected in the high engagement and sharing levels of their updates.Importantly amongst their efforts they also cross promote each piece of content across their social media platforms and demonstrate well their impressive understanding of the need to tailor the content for each different platform. The result of which means that they attract and form a relevant, captive audience that regularly comes to their social media platforms to interact and be informed and entertained.

Daylesford Farm have also cleverly integrated social media into almost every aspect of their website. From the often overlooked but crucial clear placement of social media icons across all pages of their website, to utilising social media widgets on their website and the online shop where social media icons are clearly displayed for you to share the product, it is clear that Daylesford Farm is projecting themselves as a social brand. The key benefit here is that in doing so they have created this very social experience for the visitor, making it easy to connect socially and for the most part, you don’t have to leave the website to do so, which encourages viewers to stay on the website for longer, allowing Daylesford Farm to effectively increase their fan/follower base from their website.

Ultimately Daylesford farm clearly understand and demonstrate well how to get the best out of each social media platform. They tailor content well, provide excellent customer service and importantly provide varied, consistent and engaging content that regularly keeps their audience coming back for more.

Key Takeaways

  •  Ensure every post you create is designed with a purpose and your target audience in mind. Whether it’s to inform, entertain, educate or engage, make everything that goes into your post (tone, pictures, links etc.) work towards and compliment your overall purpose for the post.
  •  Make sure that on your website you provide the visitor with lots of opportunities to connect with you socially. You can do this by clearly displaying your social media icons on your website pages and utilising any website social widgets that can enhance your marketing efforts.
  • Provide fans with reasons to keep returning to your social media profiles by offering valuable content, competitions, industry insights, informative resources and anything else your target audience will find interesting.
  • Differentiate and tailor your social media strategy to match the platform you are using.

 

What are your thoughts? Who are your favourite brands successfully using social media?

‘‘Facts Tell but Stories Sell’’ Why You Should Use Social Media to Tell Your Brand Story

In the fast-paced, digital world in which we now live, how businesses successfully attract and keep the attention of customers is undergoing a shift. In all the endless amounts of information that is seen and shared across the internet every day one of the most successful ways to break through the information and have yourself heard is to harness the power of storytelling in your content marketing. By sharing your authentic and inspirational brand stories through conversations with clients, colleagues, customers and friends you instantly captivate and form a personal connection with them by encouraging them to become emotionally involved. It is in doing so that you harness the ability to shape and affect the personal and business lives of those who are listening to your stories in very big and real ways.

Sharing stories from your company founders, to your business morals and values, your business highs and lows and why you even do what you do sets the scene for a social relationship with your online audience and provides authenticity to your brand by showing there exists a real human behind your real business. Each small blog post, status update, photo, or video provides your audience with a small piece of your business puzzle that make up the elements of your story. As those pieces all fit together they give your customers the wider picture and put your business into context, helping them to better understand who you are, what you do, and ultimately tells them why they should care about you.

Thus why in a world where the consumer is now in control of what they view, share and on which platforms, you have to earn their attention by combining the power of storytelling with a platform that allows you to connect and share your story with your customers and encourage them to share those stories with others. The platform perfectly suited for this is of course social media.

Here are a few links to help get you inspired and help you to share your brand stories;

 

 

 

 

  • Click Here for 83 Engaging Ideas For Your Social Media Content!

101 Marketing Terms You Need to Know

Following on from my previous Social Media and SEO glossaries, here is the latest collection of terms you need to know, this time the focus is on general Marketing.

A

A/B Testing: A/B testing is a simple way to test and compare two variations of a single variable to determine which performs best in order to help improve marketing efforts. As an example this can be done with email marketing (where you vary in the subject line or copy) and calls-to-action (where you vary colors/copy)
Above the Fold: This concept refers to the placing of content on your webpage. Essentially, visitors should not have to scroll down the page or search to find out what you want them to do once they’re on your page. What you want them to do should be … ‘above the fold’.
Advertising: The practice of gaining recognition to a product, service or business through paid broadcasting, print or digital.
Algorithms: Are a calculated set of steps used by search engines to determine how your page should rank in search results.
Alt-Text: A description of an image in your site’s HTML. This is alternate text that will be displayed by a browser when an image can’t be found or loaded.
Analytics: A program which assists in gathering and analysing meaningful patterns in data about website/social media usage.


B

Blog: Short for web log or weblog. A blog is a regular entry of commentary and discussion and other material, such as photos and video.
Bottom of the Funnel: Refers to the stage of the buying process leads reach when they’re just about to close as new customers. They’ve identified a problem, shopped around for possible solutions, and are now very close to buying.
Bounce Rate: This represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) without viewing other pages within the same site. Reasons for this could be that they didn’t find what they were looking for or the page was not optimized for usability. The lower the bounce rates, the better.
Brand: A name, term, design, or other feature that gives recognition to a specific product, service or business while separating it from other establishments.
Business to Business (B2B): Commerce transactions between businesses, such as between a manufacturer and a wholesaler, rather than selling to an individual consumer.
Business to Consumer (B2C): A business selling to an individual consumer rather than another business.


C

Call-to-Action: A text link, button, image, or some type of web link that encourages a website visitor to visit a landing page and become of lead. An example of a CTA would be ‘Subscribe Now.’
Churn: A key metric SaaS companies use to determine the percentage rate at which their customers are going to cancel their recurring subscription to their service. You do not want your customers to churn.
CTR or Click Through Rate: The percentage of users that click on an ad out of the total number who see the link. The higher the click through rate the better.
Closed Loop Marketing: The practice of tracking the information gathered during marketing efforts to show how they have impacted bottom-line business growth and then leveraging that intelligence to refine your marketing strategy going forward.
Content: In relation to inbound marketing, content is a piece of information that is created for the purpose of being digested, engaged with and shared. It can come in many forms from a blog post, video, social media post, to a photo, podcast and more.
Content Curation: The process of finding other relevant content that has already been created and then sharing it with your audience. Remember to always give credit to others’ content and adhere to content copyright laws.
Content Marketing: The process of creating and distributing valuable, informative and entertaining content, such as videos, white papers, guides, and infographics, with the aim of attracting, influencing and retaining customers.
Context: Sharing valuable content is important, but it’s equally as important to ensure that it is customized and contextually relevant for the right audience.
Contextual Advertising: A form of advertising that places your ads with Web pages, blog posts and news articles that are related to your business. Doing so gives a higher chance of click through and conversion.
Conversion Path: A specific online path that facilitates lead capture. At a basic level, a conversion path is comprised of a content offer, call-to-action, landing page, and thank you page.
Conversion Rate: Refers to the number of people who successfully did whatever it is defined as converting (email newsletter, made a purchase, etc.) divided by the number of visitors to your site. The higher conversion rate, the better.
Corporate Identity: A corporate identity is the overall image (symbols, colors, logos, etc.) that make up the public image of a business.
CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization): The method of using analytics and user feedback to improve the performance of your website and increase the percentage of visitors that convert into customers.
Customer Loyalty: When a consumer is a repeat buyer of a product, service or brand.


D

Demographics: The term used to describe a grouping of a market segment, based on age, gender, income, family life and social class for example.
Digital Marketing: An umbrella term for marketing solely using digital technologies (the internet) to reach consumers. Examples include, email marketing and social media.
Direct Competition: Competitors that provide the exact same services as your business.
Direct Mail: A means of advertising whereby commercial literature is sent to prospective customers through the post. It is often based on demographics and/or geographical location.
Direct Marketing: The business of selling products or services directly to the public rather than through retailers.
Dynamic Content: In laymen’s terms, dynamic content is the HTML content on your website, forms, landing pages, or emails that changes based on the viewer. Data is captured based on past website interactions.


E

E-Commerce: The means of selling products digitally on the internet
Email: In its most basic sense, email stands for ‘Electronic Mail’ and is a message distributed by electronic means from one computer user to one or more recipients via a communications network.
Exit Page: The exit page is the page in which the visitor decided to leave your website for another one or close the window.


F

Facebook: A social networking site that connects people with friends and others who work, study, and live around them. Facebook is the largest social network in the world with more than 1 billion users.


G

Geographic Segmentation: Segmenting a group of audiences based on where they live or where they are located.
Geo-Targeting: Setting your ads, including PPC campaigns, to reach only those in a specified physical location.
Google+: Google’s own social media platform that launched in 2011.


H

Hit: A hit is a request to a web server for a file such as documents, graphics, or webpages. For example, when a visitor calls up a Web page with four graphics, that’s five hits, one for the page and four for the graphics.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language): is the standard markup language used to create web pages. This is the coding portion of a website that search engines read.


I

Inbound Marketing: Rather than the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists and going out to get prospects’ attention, inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in and focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product.
Inbound Marketing Funnel: The path which a prospect takes from the initial contact right through to the final conversion to a customer. A prospect can enter the funnel at any stage and is systematically nurtured down the funnel with a goal to converting them.
Instagram: An online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on a variety of other social networking platforms.


J

Javascript: A scripting language that allows website administrators to apply various effects or changes to the content of their website as users browse it.


K

Keyword: A word or phrase entered into a search engine for the purpose of finding relevant results. Specific keywords are targeted for advertising purposes to attract consumers using that word or phrase.
KPI (Key Performance Indicators): Is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key online marketing goals.


L

Landing Page: Any page that someone lands on after clicking on an online marketing call-to-action. This page revolves around a marketing offer, such as an e-book or a webinar, and serves to capture visitor information in exchange for the valuable offer.
Lead: An individual or business that has shown interest in one of your products or services. Could be either a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead,) or an SQL (Sales Qualified Lead.) Once a prospect is converted into a lead, they are then in the inbound marketing funnel and will be nurtured down the funnel with a goal of them converting at each funnel stage.
Lead Nurturing: The practice of building relationships with potential clients and developing a series of communications (emails, social media messages, etc.) even if they are not currently looking to purchase a product or service.
Lifetime Customer Value: A prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.
LinkedIn: A business-oriented social networking site. Launched in May 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking.
Local Search: Allows users to find Web sites and businesses that are within a local geographic range.
Long-Tail Keywords: Search queries that contain three or more keywords.


M

Marketing: The process and action of communicating the value of a product or service to customers, for the purpose of promoting or selling that product or service.
Marketing Automation: Refers to software designed for marketing departments and businesses to more effectively market themselves on multiple channels online by automating repetitive tasks such as customer segmentation, customer data integration, and campaign management.
Market Research: The action of collecting valuable information on consumers’ needs and preferences.
Marketing Strategy: A marketing strategy basically lays out how you are going to market your products, services or business to customers. It is a comprehensive look at what your marketing objectives are and how you’re going to execute them.
Marketing Qualified Lead: A prospect that has indicated interest in your businesses products or services by doing something such as downloading a white paper or attending a webinar and as such is deemed ready to be handed over to the sales team.
Meme: In a broad sense, a meme is an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.
Meta Description: HTML attributes that provide concise explanations of the contents of web pages.
Middle of the Funnel: This refers to the stage that a lead enters after identifying a problem. They are now looking to conduct further research to find a solution to the problem. This would be where your business would offer case studies or product brochures etc.to help bring your business into the equation as a solution to the problem the lead is looking to solve.


N

New Product Development: The process of developing a new product or service for the market that involves research, development, product testing and launching.
Niche Market: A very specific and focused segment of the market.


O

Offer: In marketing, offers are the gateways to lead generation. This is simply the content that is provided once a lead has filled out a landing page form. What marketers should classify as an offer is something of value that a website visitor must complete a form to get access to, such as an e-book, whitepaper, webinar, and/or kit.
Off-Page Optimization: Refers to factors that have an effect on your Web site or page listing in natural search results. These factors are off-site in that they are not controlled by you or the coding on your page. Examples of off-page optimization include link popularity and page rank.
On-Page Optimization: Refers to factors that have an effect on your Web site or page listing in natural search results. These factors are on-page in that they are controlled by you or by coding on your page. Examples of on-page optimization include actual HTML code, meta tags, keyword placement and keyword density.


P

Permission Based Marketing: The approach to selling goods and services in which a prospect explicitly agrees in advance to receive marketing information.
Persona: Often referred to as a buyer persona, it is essentially a basic profile of a target consumer. It acts as representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers and includes factors such as customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
Personalisation: Involves creating customer experiences, or interactions, that are relevant, unique and tailored to each individual consumer.
Pinterest: A social network that essentially acts as an online pinboard allowing users to ‘pin’ images or products, services, places etc. that they like or want.
PPC (or Pay-Per-Click): An advertising technique in which an advertiser puts an ad in an advertising venue, such as Google AdWords and pays that venue each time a visitor clicks on the ad.
Premium Content Offer: A type of high quality, in-depth content, for example a webinar, podcast or e-book, that you can offer for free in order to convert people at certain stages of the inbound marketing funnel.
Prospect: A term to describe a potential customer qualified on the basis of their buying authority, financial capacity, and willingness to buy.
Public Relations: The professional maintenance of a favourable public image and reputation.


Q

QR Code: Known as a ‘Quick Response Code’, a QR Code is a camera and smartphone-readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, typically used for storing URLs, text or other information.


R

Referral Marketing: A method of promoting products or services using a business’ existing customers through referrals, usually word of mouth.
Relationship Marketing: The focus on developing customer loyalty and long-term customer engagement with a prospect or potential customer rather than shorter-term goals like customer acquisition and individual sales.
Research and Development: The process directed towards the discovery, innovation, introduction, and improvement of new products, services and processes.
Responsive Design: An approach to web design aimed at creating sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience across a wide range of devices from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones.
Retargeting: A cookie-based technology that uses a simple Javascript code to anonymously ‘follow’ your audience all over the Web. When a user visits your website, a cookie is set on their computer and even after they leave your website and continue searching around the Web, your ads appear wherever they are.
ROS (Run of Site): An Internet advertising program that allows ads or banners to appear on any page inside of a website. Then, no matter what page a person clicks through on your website, they will likely see that advertisement.
RSS Feed: (Really Simple Syndication) allows the content from regularly updated websites such as blogs or podcasts to be aggregated and posted to one website (often called a “reader”) or mobile device.


S

SaaS: Stands for “software as a service.” And is software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted.
Sales Funnel: The entire sales process as a whole from prospect to paying customer, and all marketing, advertising and sales processes in between.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization: The process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.
Snapchat: A video messaging application where users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to recipients.
Social Media: Websites and applications that enable users to create, share and discover content and participate in social networking.
SWOT Analysis: A study undertaken by a business to identify its internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as its external opportunities and threats.


T

Target Market: A group of customers that a business has decided to aim its marketing efforts towards.
Top of the Funnel: Refers to the very first stage of the buying process. Leads at this stage are just identifying a problem that they have and are looking for more information. A business at this stage should look to create helpful content that aids leads in identifying this problem and providing next steps toward a solution.
Twitter: a popular micro blogging social media platform that enables users to publish 280-character real-time messages with photos, videos, and other content.


U

Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Any traits that differentiate a product from its competitors, such as the lowest cost, the highest quality or the first-ever product of its kind. It is the reason you give to a potential customer in order to make them consider you and not the competition.
Unique Visitors: Refers to the number of distinct individuals who have visited your website during a given period, regardless of how often they visit.
URL or Uniform Resource Locator: Also known as web address, a URL is a reference to a resource on the Internet. An example would be http://scarlettdarbyshire.com/. URLs are important for on-page SEO, as search engines scour the included text when mining for keywords.
UX: Short for ‘user experience’ and is a term for the experience your customer will have when they interact with your service or product.


V

Viral Content: The term used to describe any piece of media that suddenly becomes an online sensation.
Viral Marketing: Any marketing technique that encourages Web sites or users to pass on a marketing message to other sites or users on their own, exponentially increasing growth in the message’s visibility and effect.
Visits: The visit metric is the total number of times people have visited your website, whether returning or new visitors.


W

Website: A website is a set of interconnected, related webpages, typically served from a single web domain


Y

YouTube: A video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos.

How To Best Incorporate Social Media Channels On Your Website


There is no one-size-fits all approach to integrating social media into your website: however, a combination of the following strategies are sure fire ways for any ecommerce brand to really start leveraging the power of the social sphere.


 

Homepage Feeds

Homepage social feeds represent an incredibly powerful means of bringing your product to life on-site. Such feeds can help your site feel more human and less like a sales pitch. If you decide to integrate a social feed into your website, keep in mind that you need to ensure that your feed only contains high-quality images and content worthy of your homepage versus unrelated selfies or advertisements. Feeds are a form of social proof, arguably the most important psychological trigger when it comes to drawing in new customers.

 

Social Buttons

Social buttons are an absolute must do for any brand, this is especially true in today’s world where customers are spending a bulk of their time on Facebook versus on-site, it’s incredibly important that you make following your business via social a one-click process versus forcing followers to try and find you. You can also use social media buttons on your website to increase sales: such buttons can promote your brand’s social media channels as a way for visitors to hear about contests or promotions you may be running. Regardless of where you place your buttons, you should keep the following in mind before rolling them out:

  • Make sure that your buttons mesh with your site’s layout and colour scheme.
  • Only highlight the social platforms that you’re active on: if you’re only active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, for example, don’t bother linking to your dead Pinterest page.

 

Hashtags

There’s perhaps no easier way to encourage social sharing than by creating a hashtag. Not unlike social buttons, hashtags can be implemented throughout your brand’s visual content to provide customers with a hub of discussion and sharing for your brand and its products. Beyond coming up with something unique, keep the following in mind as well:

  • Keep your hashtag short and sweet (the ideal hashtag length is said to be under 11 characters)
  • Be prepared to curate your hashtag in order to avoid spam or potentially irrelevant images
  • Pick something that you can use for the long-haul: the more you use your hashtag throughout your marketing, the more likely it is to catch on.

 

Product Pages

Social media represents the modern word of mouth: buyers want to show off and share to others about their purchases. To feed into your customers’ needs to share, ensure that you have social sharing enabled on your product pages. Be careful however as it’s crucial that the social buttons on your product pages should not interrupt the buying process, but rather provide a way for customers to receive one-click feedback on their next purchase. Keep the following principles in mind as a means of optimizing your products for shares:

  • Do not use the same social buttons on your homepage and product pages: your product buttons should be smaller and stylized differently.
  • Only offer sharing to the social networks where it makes sense: Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are much better than somewhere such as LinkedIn.
  • Make sure that your plugin captures your product’s image and description appropriately as it’s shared
  • Don’t forget about the importance of your customers’ experience once they’ve landed. Give them a chance to share their experience in the buying process: you may be surprised at how many of them are more than happy to sing your praises.

 

Social Sign Ins

Did you know that 73% of users prefer to log in to a site with social login, as opposed to providing an email address and creating a new account?  Improve your website visitors’ experience with social login, and increase your website registration conversions and retention. The benefit of social sign-ins are two-fold: visitors can browse your site without the annoyance of creating a new account and they can comment on your blog with ease.

 

Include Share Buttons

If you sell a product or run a full-fledged eCommerce site and you haven’t added share buttons to your product pages, you are missing out on a whole host of potential social impressions. Share buttons should enable website-goers to seamlessly share or recommend a product. Two broad tools that can help with this are AddThis and ShareThis. Both provide efficient and easy-to-use solutions for social media sharing across eCommerce sites with the added benefit of analytics to see how the content is getting shared.

 

Social Proof

With 79% of consumers trusting social proof as much as personal recommendations, it’s important you integrate the proper social widgets on your website to increase sales and website conversions. One way to do this is to use one of Facebook’s social widgets, such as the “Like Box”. This feature shows your visitors that you’re a credible source, their friends also like your Facebook page, and that you’re a legitimate product or brand. As an added bonus you’ll also be able to increase your Facebook likes with this social media integration.

 

Making Social Part of the Retail Experience

There are many other ways to integrate social media to improve conversions, streamline customer services and drive repeat business and referrals.

  • Improve your post-purchase page with a range of social cues (i.e. Share your purchase) to enhance the customer experience, and to spread the word about your business.
  • Add a simple sharing section which allows a user to send a tweet or a Facebook status with a link to the product they just bought.
  • The post-purchase page can also include quick links to your social media channels, email newsletter and links to access customer services too. This is also the place, as well as in order communications, to share any referral discounts you offer for customers who share with their friends.

 

Reviews and Ratings

Social customer service is just as important as other functions like contact forms, call centres and live chat, so make sure you offer a good service that customers can access. Reviews help reassure customers, improve SEO and encourage repeat business. Linking social sign-in to your reviews set up will more than likely lead to more reviews from customers, as it just makes everything easier and more streamline. Make your social customer service easy and obvious to access by displaying it prominently on your help pages.


 

This is an extract from my new book ‘The Ultimate Beginners Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses’ Available now on Amazon as a downloadable eBook and Paperback! Head over to Amazon for a free preview!

 

8 Reasons Why Your Social Media Marketing Strategy is Failing and How To Fix It

You’ve set up your profiles, posted your content, followed a few people on Twitter… and now what?  Most businesses understand the power of using social media for business but struggle to create and execute a strategy effectively. Here’s a quick guide to the most common reasons why a social media strategy (or lack of!) fails and what you can do to fix them and get things back on track.

 

  1. Not Having a Clearly Defined Social Media Marketing Strategy in the First Place

Before you jump in and start forming your social media presence, you need to develop a plan with key strategic elements that will ensure your social media presence is going to be a successful addition to your marketing strategy. All too often businesses get their profiles set up and quickly start posting without considering key elements such as what types of content will I post and when, how will I measure success and if my customers are even on this social media platform. The result of which is a rushed, inconsistent and unsuccessful presence that is not going to be positive for your brand or provide any value to your customers. So on a basic level to help you get started, before you begin just ask yourself these questions;

  • Why do I need to use social media and what do I want to gain in using it?
  • Who are my audience?
  • Are they on social media and if so what platforms are they using?
  • What messages do I want to share with them and how am I going to do it?
  • What content am I going to create?
  • How often am I going to post?
  • What social media platforms will I use?
  • How will I measure my success?

 

 

2.      Not Using the Right Platforms

Failing to develop a marketing strategy often leads to businesses not utilizing the best platforms for them. Many take a ‘join all platforms’ approach in the hopes that it will gain them maximum exposure, when in reality it has the opposite effect. It’s much more valuable for you for example to have three well-developed, active platforms than having to stretch your resources across seven many of which may not even play host to your target audience. From this, it is important to have a clearly defined target audience and to know where they spend their time online. So rather than jumping straight into Twitter or Facebook just because they have the highest number of members, take the time to really consider what platforms are right platform for your business. Do this by performing research on your current customers’ social media habits to  find out where your audience likes to spend their time, the type of content that they find most appealing, and how they like to engage with content. All of this information will help you form a concise strategy that will maximise potential for success

 

3.      Having Incomplete and Inconsistent Social Media Profiles. 

 All too often poor planning leads businesses to have an inconsistent image, voice and persona across their social media platforms. From incomplete profiles, to different profile images across platforms and different messages being shared, not having consistent branding fails to reinforce to your audience your brand message. From this, it is important that before you engage in social media that you are clear on what kind of image you want to portray of yourself and make sure to keep it consistent across all platforms. This consistency equally applies not just to the ‘voice’ you portray but also to the creative aspects, that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. If your brand or company uses certain colours then be sure to apply these consistently across the presentation of all your social media platforms. This also extends to a company logo or picture, make sure they are up to date and reflective of the image you want to portray. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your page it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand across all social media platforms.

 

 

4.      Not Using Analytics

 Analysing your metrics shows you a wealth of information and insights. It can show you whether your network is growing and how fast, how much of your website traffic is referred from social media and what content resonates best with your audience. Failure to analyse this data however is a huge mistake, without it you have no insights as to whether you are a making a successful and measurable impact and whether you are actually reaching the overall goals of your social media presence. In addition you will remain unaware as what you are doing right and what areas are in need of improvement which leads to poorly guided future decisions and the continued use of tactics that aren’t driving results. You don’t have to suddenly become a meticulous number cruncher however but you should pick several important metrics that are representative of your overall goals and regularly track and analyse them to make sure they are growing in a positive and successful way.

 

 5.      Not Posting Content that’s Interesting, Varied and Encourages Engagement

 Social media is centred on having conversations and engaging with people. That being said, many businesses make the mistake of sharing content that is simply an update of what they are thinking or doing or random images of cats to encourage likes that ultimately has no real substance or value in what they are sharing. To avoid to making this mistake every post and tweet you post should have a clearly defined topic as well as delivering something valuable to the reader, whether that be entertainment or information. You must also write your content with your target audience in mind so rather than trying to appeal to a generic wider audience, write content that contains specialised information and analysis that those interested in your services or in your sector would read. A common mistake made with posting is not including some form of media content such as a relevant video or picture that can lead posts to look uninviting and not capture a reader’s attention.  To avoid making this mistake make sure to post insightful and valuable content that your readers will want to read and looks visually appealing also.  Posts with some form of media such as a photo or link always get more clicks so it is vital that you try to include some form of relevant media.

 

6.      Posting Too Much, Not Enough or at The Wrong Times

 It is common to see businesses that either continually post unvaried and spam type messages all day across their platforms or leave it weeks without updating their content then have a sudden surge of content posted across their profiles in a day. What those businesses don’t understand is that in order to get the most out of using social media as a marketing tool, you need to post varied and informative content consistently and at the times where your audience is most likely to see it otherwise your posts may be overlooked or ignored, causing your brand to miss out on important engagement opportunities and lack of interest generally leads to unfollows and unlikes from consumers. It is therefore vital that you figure out a comfortable writing routine that works with your editorial calendar, be it posting daily or several times a week, and stick to it in order to maintain consistency and maximise your impact. This process involves some experimentation to find the best publishing schedule for you along with tracking your metrics to see when people are most active and your engagement and feedback rates for your posts. There are however two things that should always be considered and will dictate your posting schedule; your company goals and what your audience wants.

 

 7.      Not Listening and Responding to Your Audience

 The fact that customer service through social media is quickly becoming an expectation of consumers means you’re publicly open to both criticism and praise online. Many businesses take the approach of taking several days to respond to comments, or only responding to positive interactions or worse not responding to either at all. Ultimately, people want quick responses from you if they interact with you online and if you fail to respond you ultimately develop a negative image for yourself by not acknowledging good and bad interactions and importantly miss out on opportunities to make valuable connections with customers and learn important feedback that can help develop your business in the future. From this, make sure to always have someone available to monitor interactions and what people are saying about you not just in your work hours. After all, you may only be working and online at 9 – 5 but that doesn’t mean your audience is.

 

 

8.     Not Having the Right Person Managing Your Social Media Presence

Ultimately, whether it’s yourself, your sister an intern or a freelance social media manager, the person you have put in charge of your social media presence is in control of how your brand is presented publicly online and ultimately how successful your presence is going to be. It is vital therefore that you choose someone who has a true understanding of what your brand stands for, knows how to successfully market on social media and is proactively working with you to make sure both you and your audience are getting the best out of using social media.  Remember it’s more than just simply having a presence, it’s also about knowing how to market yourself successfully and it is that point where that general family member, friend or inadequate social media professional is not going to successfully perform.