The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Businesses

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

Need to Know Facts, Stats and Tips About Blogging

  • 53% of marketers say blogging is their top content marketing priority (HubSpot).
  • 43% of people admit to skimming blog posts.
  • 36% of people prefer list-based headlines (ConversionXL)
  • In 2017, 66% of marketers reported using blogs in their social media content. (Social Media Examiner)
  • B2B marketers (75%) are more likely to use blogs in their social media content than B2C (61%) (Social Media Examiner).
  • Websites with a blog have tend to have 434% more indexed pages.
  • The Number of Bloggers is expected to reach 31.7 million in 2020 (Statista).
  • 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep (Demand Gen Report, 2016).
  • Blog articles with images get 94% more views.
  • 94% of people who share posts do so because they think it might be helpful to others.
  • B2B marketers that use blogs get 67% more leads than those that do not.
  • The average word count of top-ranking content (in Google) is between 1,140-1,285 words.
  • 71% of marketers report using visual assets as part of their content marketing strategy.
  • Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts.
  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.
  • Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website.
  • Just over half (51%) of business owners report that content management is “very important” or “absolutely critical” to creating a cohesive buyer journey.
  • 70-80% of users ignore paid ads and only focus on organic results.
  • Blogs have been rated as the 5th most trusted source for accurate online information.

 


Why You Need a Blog for Your Business

 

It’s Great for SEO

Blogs are a fantastic resource for improving search engine rankings as filled with relevant content they provide an ideal platform for your targeted keywords to be used in a natural setting. A blog also encourages people to link to your website that adds to your credibility in the search engine’s eyes and also allows you to build internal links within your site, making it more easily navigated by search engine spiders. By providing regular and fresh content search engines will visit your page more frequently helping you gain maximum search exposure as quickly as possible.

 

Allows you to Easily Keep People Informed and Shows Your Personality

The internet can often be an impersonal place; however having a blog offers an informal and chatty platform for your opinions, stories, humour and advice that gives your business a human face. This great ability to humanise your business through blogging ultimately makes your business appear more engaging, relatable and trustworthy to others. The space that blogging gives you to go over and above the basic, everyday postings on social media presents the opportunity for your customers to get to know you better, so whether you are sharing industry expertise, reviewing a product or sharing an aspect of your brand story, each post acts as a small piece of your business puzzle that each makes 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.

 

It Increases Your Authority

By regularly updating your corporate blog with valuable, interesting and relevant industry analysis and comment, it shows that you have a deep interest in your sector and are more informed than the average participant; giving potential customers a compelling reason to choose you over competitors. Moreover, those customers will continue to visit and spread the word to others of your valuable and interesting blog.


 

Blogging: What, and How Often?

Before you jump in and start blogging there are seven key strategic questions you must answer in order to ensure your blog is going to be in line with your business objectives and ultimately be a successful addition to your social media marketing strategy.

 

Have You Determined Your Blog’s Business Objectives?

One of the first things you must do is determine what you want your blog to achieve for your business. Whether you want to use it to support sales by giving potential customers useful information in the form of how-to videos, or use it as an outlet to build your brand by providing content that supports your offering, having clear objectives for your blog helps optimise its reach and impact and when you later come to measure your success, you will have a clearer idea of what metrics to track.

Common Blogging Goals

  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Attract new Customers or Generate Leads
  • Provide Post-Sales Support
  • Inform, Educate and Entertain your Audience
  • Demonstrate your Expertise and Become and Authority in Your Sector
  • Drive Direct Income
  • Build Long-Term Relationships with your Community

 

Where Will You Host Your Blog?

One of the initial hurdles when forming a blog is picking a service that will be right for your business. Many businesses choose free providers in the beginning such as WordPress and switch to self-hosted sites once they are more comfortable with blogging. Much like when you choose what other social media platforms to be on, you need to choose a platform that is relevant for your business and that offers you the services you are looking for.

 

Have You Defined Your Target Readers?

In addition to determining your objectives, having a clear idea of your target readers is paramount as your posts can then be tailored around content that maximises interest and engagement from your readers. It is also important to consider how your demographic behaves on social media for example how they like to receive their information and whether they are people who actively comment or not, as blog posts can then be tailored accordingly in order to maximise your potential for impact and engagement.

 

Have You Developed Your Blog’s Voice?

Blogs are a great way for business to show a ‘human’ side to your business that customers appreciate and prefer to interact with. From this, it is important to have an idea of what voice you want for your blog that can be consistently applied across all your posts, especially if your business blog is going to be managed by several different contributors. Put simply, avoid generic corporate speak and replace it with your own unique voice and customers will be more drawn to and engage with your blog.

 

Have I Chosen the Best Blog Layout?

One of the first things you need to do when you start a blog is to choose a blog template layout. Do you want your blog to look like a traditional website? Or an online portfolio or magazine? Most blogging applications offer a variety of themes to choose from. Here are the most commonly used blog layout options to help you decide which one is right for your blog:

 

  • One-column typically looking similar to online journals, this layout includes a single column of content with no sidebars on either side of the content. The benefit of this template is that readers give 100% of their attention to your content, however this template layout doesn’t leave you with room for promotion of additional information, except throughout or at the end of posts. Choose this layout if you have a personal blog and have no need to display any additional information other than the content of each post.

 

  • Two-column This is the most common layout as it allows bloggers to offer more information and features on the same page as their blog posts. This blog layout template includes a wide main column, which typically takes up at least three-quarters of the screen width, as well as a single sidebar that can appear to the left or right of the main column. Usually, the main column includes blog posts and the sidebar includes additional elements such as ads, links to archives, RSS subscription links for example. The key to making this layout work for your business is to ensure that the sidebar focuses on your business goals, with the most important elements at the top.

 

  • Three-column A three-column blog template layout includes a main column that usually spans approximately two-thirds of the screen width as well as two sidebars. Blog posts are usually displayed in the main column and additional elements are shown in the two sidebars. If you produce a large amount of content that you want to promote alongside your articles, the three-column layout gives you plenty of space for promotion. This layout can distract readers from the main article but can also keep them on your website longer, as they’ll have plenty of related content to click through to.

 

  • Magazine A magazine blog template layout uses a variety of boxes of content, or featured spaces, to highlight specific content such video, images, and blog posts. This makes the home page look more like a page on a newspaper than a blog, however, interior pages can look like traditional blog pages. This type of layout is best for a blog that publishes a significant amount of content each day and as such needs a way to display a lot of content on the home page at the same time.

 

  • Photo, Multimedia, and Portfolio If the majority of your blog content is made up of images or video, this type of template layout would be perfect for your blog design. These layouts are used to show a variety of images or videos in an appealing way, with images or videos displayed attractively across the home page.

 

  • Website or Business This type of template layout makes your blog look like a traditional website. If you want your blog to look like a website, use a website or business blog template layout.

 

  • E-Commerce An e-commerce blog template layout is designed to make it easy for you to display products using images and text and usually incorporate a shopping basket function as well. If you plan to sell products through your website, this template layout would be a good option for you.

 

  • Landing Page A landing page blog template layout turns your blog into a sales page that is designed to drive conversions using some type of form or other mechanism to capture desired results. This layout is perfect if you’re using your blog as a place to capture leads, sell an eBook or drive app downloads, for example.

 

  • Mobile A mobile blog template layout enables you to create a site that is completely mobile-friendly. If you know your audience will be viewing your site through mobile devices this template layout is vital as it ensures content loads quickly and accurately on smartphones and tablets

 

  • Resume A popular layout among job seekers and individuals who are trying to build their brand online. If you’re looking for a job or need a site to communicate your skills and experience, a resume blog template is a very good option for you.

 

Whichever blog template layout you choose, remember these top tips!

  • Unless you’re an affiliate marketer or a publisher that generates income from advertisers, don’t give visitors any external links to leave your website, unless they point back to your main website.
  • Strive for simplicity: Simplicity is the best rule in design. Whilst Many WordPress themes come with lots of colours, complex layouts, flashy animations, etc. in most cases you don’t really need all that. Simply put, find a theme that looks good, is not overly complicated but without compromising on usability and simplicity.
  • Responsive is Not Optional: Responsive themes adjust their layout across different screen sizes and devices. Google shows mobile friendly websites on top in their mobile search results and a significant number of web traffic today is generated from mobile devices. This means that regardless of your site’s topics and demographics your blog needs to be responsive and fully mobile ready. Most WordPress themes are already responsive by default, but ensure you check that the theme you are choosing for your website is mobile friendly.

 

Have you Listed Features to be Regularly Included in Your Posts?

Deciding on what major content categories you want to include regularly helps you to stay focused and maintains a clear direction for your posts to go in order to ensure your content is in line with your business goals and is targeting reader’s needs. Part of this process is to also determine how often you will post new content on your blog as having a clear schedule of when you will be posting is paramount in order to ensure it supports and is in line with your wider social media strategy.

 

Have You Outlined Your Creative Elements?

Consistency should also be applied to the creative aspects of your blog that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your blog 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.

 

Have You Included Multiple Opt-in Forms?

If you want to convert blog readers into email subscribers to promote your business products and services, you need to have multiple opt-in forms on your blog. There are several different ways to implement them on your blog with SumoMe, for example being a popular tool that allows you to add a variety of opt-in forms to any website. You can add opt-in forms anywhere on your site, including the sidebar, footer, after a post, in floating bars, in slide-ins and in pop-ups. Whilst you don’t want to go overboard, it is important to make sure that there is an opt-in form available on your blog so readers can subscribe at any time.

 

Have You Included Social Sharing Buttons?

Social sharing buttons are vital for your blog post content as they make it easier for your readers to share your content on the social networks. If you’re comfortable editing your blog design, you can choose to add the official sharing buttons from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and your other chosen networks. If you’d rather use a plugin, there are a vast number of tools available with Shareaholic being a popular example as it works with most major website platforms including Bigcommerce, Blogger, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, Shopify, Squarespace, Tumblr, Typepad, Weebly, Wix and WordPress. The advantage of using a social sharing platform rather than installing the buttons manually is the analytics that become available to you, allowing you to learn more about how your content is shared and who shares it.

 

Have You Installed Content Analytics?

Besides the above social sharing analytics, there are several additional analytics tools you need to set up on your blog to help you assess how well your content performs. Two popular tools are Google Analytics with functions such as The Behaviour report that show you details about the traffic your content receives. In addition, Google Webmaster Tools has a great feature called the Search Analytics report which shows you how your content performs in search based on the number of times seen, the number of clicks and the average position in search. By utilising these tools and regularly analysing your blog content analytics you will optimize your content marketing strategy to ensure that you’re driving the best results from your blog posts.

 

Have You Created Unique User Accounts?

If you have multiple people blogging for your business, whether they’re employees, guests or freelance writers, you should create a unique user account for each new person. Platforms like WordPress already allow each author to have a custom author bio with their posts and an author page that archives all of their articles. Not only is this beneficial from an organised point of view it can aid your SEO efforts as when people search for the author in Google, they might stumble upon your blog. If you have dozens of popular authors, this will allow you to get additional visibility in search and increased traffic to your blog.

 

How Will Your Blog Align With Other Marketing Efforts?

Maintaining a blog should fuel and enhance your overall content marketing efforts. So similarly when you create a clear posting schedule for your blog be sure to consider how each post is going to fit in with and enhance your other marketing efforts. Consider questions such as how am I going to use my other platforms to promote my blog posts when they are published? And how can each blog post supplement this week’s promotional strategy?


 

Now it’s time to write your Blog, there are several fundamental basics to follow to ensure you create a powerful and engaging Blog post!

 

Say Something Interesting and Useful

Write your blog with your target audience in mind so rather than trying to appeal to a generic wider audience, your content contains specialised information and analysis that those interested in your services or in your sector would read. By openly giving out advice and information you will become an online repository of specialist knowledge and this will attract the attention of your target audience.

 

Be Creative

People always respond better to something that is new, fresh and clever so always brainstorm ideas in the mind-set of producing something that is creative and breaks the mould of other generic blog posts. You are competing in the fast-paced and growing world of social media marketing so you need to make yourself stand out and give potential customers a compelling reason to choose you over your competitors.

 

Keep it Short and Sweet

An ideal blog post is between 400- 1,60o words in order to be easy enough to digest quickly.  It is widely accepted that online readers are becoming lazy and it becomes difficult and unappealing to read something crowded with text and heavy paragraphs so keep paragraphs succinct and sentences short and snappy. Keep in mind that readers will often read less and less the further down an article or post they read so may sure the important point or link you want to make is made early on.

 

Never go for the Direct Sell

When you first start blogging it may be tempting to go with the direct sale approach posting information about how wonderful your business is and all of the things you sell or offer. This however is not a successful approach and in most cases will see you viewed as a spammer and will quickly lead to people losing interest in your blog. To avoid making this mistake you must strike a balance between subtle business blog posts and ones centred on customer engagement, with a favourable emphasis on the latter.

 

Have a Compelling Title and Leading Paragraph

It is paramount to draw the attention to your post by making your headline and introduction exciting. Choose the major point of your post and outline it clearly in the beginning, this is essential if you are going to encourage your readers to click through to the full post.

 

Balance SEO with Good Content

Whilst it is important to include keywords in your blog, especially within titles, you need to strike a balance between catchiness and SEO. Don’t flood readers with keywords, but do pay attention to the basics such as clean URLs and Meta descriptions.

 

Include a Call to Action (CTA)

Blog posts should end with something that moves the reader onto a next step be it a call to comment or to connect on another social media platform, this should not be an opportunity to directly hard sell a product however, as this often loses your readers trust.

 


 

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 Practises 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.

 


 

8 Point Checklist Before You Publish Your Blog Post

 

Have I Met my Goal for This Blog Post?

Whatever you set out to achieve with your blog post, whether it’s getting people to take part in research, purchase a product or sign up to your newsletter make sure that the material and links fully support your aim and you have clear and relevant call to actions. Having clear goals also makes it easier to measure your success later down the line and assess whether the blog post achieved what it set out to do.

 

Is my Post Easy to Read, Well- Developed and Presented?

Having a well- formatted blog post is crucial for both ease of read and keeping the attention of readers. Blog posts even when the tone is causal are ultimately still professional papers and when writing them you are representing your business as much as you do when at meetings and in general. From this, it is vital that you generate a structured blog template and form a routine before you publish around proofreading your post paying particular attention to several key areas;

  • Is your information bulleted and has numbered lists for easy consumption?
  • Are the links you use relevant and pointed to the correct webpage?
  • Have you used short and succinct sentences to get your point across successfully?
  • Are your section headings clear and specific to their individual points?
  • Is your post well concluded with good evidence?
  • Does the tone of voice/language fit the overall tone of your blog, and your brand’s editorial guidelines?
  • Did you use custom-made images and screenshots instead of stock photos whenever possible?
  • Have you given proper credit to the images/content you used in your blog post?
  • Have you taken to time to proofread and made sure your format is consistent with spacing between paragraphs as well as font styles and sizes?

 

Have I Directly Targeted my Audience in This Post?

You need to ensure that your blog post has been directly written with your target audience in mind. This involves you knowing and learning aspects about them from what content resonates best with them to what needs, interest, problems and questions they have as customers. So ensure your content contains specialised information that your customers will want to read. In doing so will not only will you be maximising interest and engagement from your readers, you will be proving your expertise in your industry.

 

Does my Post Contain Relevant Keywords?

In order to increase the potential for your blogs reach, every blog post you write should focus on and reiterate certain relevant keywords for your business. Ideally, when you are writing keep in mind 5-10 keywords and weave them into your content from the title through to the main sections of you post, taking care to not over flood your content making it unreadable and incoherent. As you become more comfortable with writing your posts you will soon find that you develop this skill to fully optimise your posts confidently.

 

Does the Title Grab my Attention and Make me Want to Click on it?

The main section of your blog post may be full of brilliant and valuable content, but if you don’t invest the time into creating an optimised your title that makes readers want to click on it, you are making a mistake. When forming a title consider whether you yourself would click on it, is it going to solve a common problem? Improve and aspect of your life or is it exciting exclusive content? Whatever you decide make sure it is compelling enough to click on and is optimised with keywords. You should also pay attention to the length of your title, bearing in mind that the optimal length is between 40 – 69 characters long. A shorter title may not be as descriptive and specific enough to capture attention, and a longer title will be cut off at 69 characters in search results, making your click-through rates likely to decrease.

 

Have I Backed up my Points with Good Evidence?

One of the key ways to become a trusted source of information is to provide content that is reliable and backed up with solid evidence to support what you are claiming. So before you publish your post make sure all the points you make are coherent and evidence is there that supports and justifies what you are claiming. Remember people may be making business decisions based on what you write so you must appear informed and reliable and give them clear reasons why what your saying is true and accurate.

 

Have I Included a Clear CTA?

By ensuring you include a clear call to action in every post you are making sure that each post is purposeful for your business. Whether you direct the reader to an external site or ask them to leave a comment for example you need to consistently encourage the reader to continue the interaction with you.

 

How am I Going to Promote this Post?

To ensure maximum reach and impact you need to consider how you are going to promote your post once it’s published. There are many tips later on in this section, but also consider the means of promotion you personally have at your disposal that can help get your blog post seen more.

 

Although it takes some experimentation to find the best publishing schedule for you, there are two things that should always be considered and will dictate your blogging schedule; your business goals and what your audience wants.

 

In general, publishing one new blog post a week is optimal because it helps maintain good relationships with customers, attract natural search traffic, and avoids burnout from writing too often.  This however may vary depending on what works best for your company, goals and readers so it is important to experiment to find a blogging schedule that works for you. For example, if your goal is to become a cutting edge information resource, you might want to post shorter articles more often or if your main audience is mostly interested in technical or behind-the-scenes details, you’ll probably publish longer articles less often. So the first step to determining your ideal blogging frequency is to find the perfect balance of what you want and what your audience wants.

To maximise the benefits of having a blog you need to ultimately ask yourself, Can you keep this schedule consistently?,  Can you always publish high-quality content at this rate? And will you have enough content for this schedule? Once you’ve discovered the best times to blog, being consistent with your publishing schedule has the benefit of increasing SEO value and encourages readers to come back regularly for more.

 


How to Build a Following and Amplify Your Impact

 

Writing your blog post is only the beginning. The next challenge is to promote your blog in order to get maximum exposure and attract attention. Having a loyal band of readers who regularly engage with your blog and come back for more is fundamental to achieving success as a blogger. You may have the best blog in your niche filled with valuable and informative content, but what good is that if you don’t have a regular stream of readers to appreciate and act on your work? Not matter what else, you need faithful readers who keep coming back for more.

Relying solely on search engines mixed with a bit of promotion might get you a few eyeballs, but fundamental to your success is recognising that building a loyal readership isn’t something that happens overnight. Rather, it is an ongoing conscious effort to create, maintain and learn what works best for you, through the use of employing smart marketing techniques and tactics.

 

Syndication

One of the most powerful mechanisms of a Blog is its RSS feed that allows you to automatically feed your Blog’s content to many different places, including many social networking sites. This can significantly expand your reach and saves you hours of time where you would otherwise have to post your content manually. There are also many other social sites that allow you to plug in your blog’s RSS feed, make sure to link it to all of your available platforms and the potential reach of your blog becomes significantly increased.

 

Seek Out and Comment on Other Blogs with Similar Topics

Providing helpful, valuable comments on other blogs can be a great way to generate traffic, develop relationships and build a following. Once you have finished a blog post on a topic it is worthwhile to do a quick search to find other blogs covering the same topic, you can then add your viewpoint in a genuine, non-self-promotional way. Showing yourself to be insightful and willing to provide advice is always welcomed and appreciated and is often rewarded in the form of new relationships with other bloggers who are more likely to mention and promote your blog.

 

Promote your Blog

Anywhere your customers interact with your brand is an opportunity to encourage them to look at and interact with your blog. There are several key areas in which you can promote your blog,  from mentioning it on your e-newsletter, your email signature, to your business card and product packaging, promoting it across all your other social media platforms and reaching out to influencers in your niche when you publish great content.

  • Email Marketing – highlight your blog post by including a clear link to and/or a section of your blog post to help drive traffic to your blog and your website.
  • Twitter– Tweet a summary of your post, a quote pulled from the post, or share a link to and encourage others to comment on the post itself. You can also include your blog’s URL within your Twitter bio to help drive traffic.
  • LinkedIn – Share your post with your groups and others that you know may be interested in it, this can start discussions, encourage engagement and debate that can fuel new content for future blog posts.
  • Pinterest Create a board that is purely for your blog posts remembering to use an interesting and relevant image to be pinned along with it and keep the boards location high so it is clear and one of the first boards that is seen when on your profile.
  • Guest Post Opportunities – Be proactive in looking for other bigger websites and blogs that have opportunities for guest posters. This is a great opportunity for more attention from a potentially new audience and linking back to your own blog can help with traffic. Similarly you yourself can encourage others to guest post that can bring with it a new audience and following.
  • Meetings, Events and Giving Presentations– Remember that whenever and wherever you meet people this presents an opportunity for you to promote and refer the audience to your blog. Similarly for the very savvy marketer, you can also utilise digital technologies such as QR codes on your packaging that can allow people to quickly and easily subscribe to your blog.
  • Social Media Advertising – For particularly important and popular posts, consider using social media advertising to promote shares of your blog posts on Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

 

Utilise Website Banners

A website banner provides the perfect opportunity and space to create a clear call to action for driving traffic to your blog. Consider placing calls-to-action banners on different pages of your website and use language that encourages people to want to go forward and view your blog. One of the most popular website banner CTA’s for blogs is to emphasise the number of people who are already subscribed to your blog and encourage the person that is reading to join them.

 

Encourage and Ask for Participation

Blogging is a great way to build an engaged community. By writing your posts in a way that fosters interaction and discussions from your readers you benefit from an active and interested community that will respond to what you write. By listening to what your readers have to say you will gather important information about them from their opinions, interests and ideas to suggestions about your business, all of which are greatly beneficial as they will help guide future content creation and inform business decisions.

 

Host a Contest

Hosting contests are a popular and successful way of attracting attention from an audience. From asking people to pick their favourite blog posts of yours and why to having other bloggers publish a post on their blog about you, any relevant and engaging contest will help to expand your blog’s reach and attract new visitors.

 

Publish on a Consistent Schedule

You need to publish quality content on your blog, but it’s also important to publish quality content on a consistent schedule. Aim to publish a new blog post at least once a week as readers will come to expect a new blog post at a certain time and that will keep them on the lookout for it. They’ll know that if they go to your blog once a week, they’ll be greeted with new content. Similarly, if they go back to your blog and never see new content, they probably won’t return. Making it vital to create and maintain a consistent posting schedule.

 

Offer Multiple Ways to Subscribe

Whilst growing your email list is one of the most important things you can do for your business, email shouldn’t be the only subscription option that you offer. Not everyone wants to receive more email in their inbox, and if visitors can only subscribe via email, they likely won’t. Everyone should be able to find at least one option (email, RSS, Facebook, and Twitter for example) that suits their preferences.

 

Show Off More of Your Content

Visitors who enter your blog through your homepage should see lots of content options, however take the care to not make it overwhelming. Showcasing lots of content means readers will more likely find something of interest and stay on your blog for longer. However if you prefer to maintain a minimalist design on your blog page, you can showcase extra content on your individual posts. You can do this by ensuring readers get to see related content and are encouraged to read more posts by referring to related blog posts using text links throughout your content. These links should compel visitors to click through to more of your content since it relates to the current blog post.

 

Get Content Ideas From Visitors

One of the best ways to get visitors to keep coming back to your blog is by letting them know that you want to create content just for them. You can do this by adding a quick and simple survey feature to your blog that asks visitors what they want to read about next. A survey not only helps you learn more about what content your visitors want, but also ensures that you won’t run out of relevant topic ideas. An added benefit is that once visitors submit a topic idea, they might subscribe to your blog so they can see if you use their suggestion for new content.

 

Allow Comments

There is a recent trend to turn off comments on blogs in favour of social media engagement or, in some cases, to reduce the amount of moderation required because of spam. By allowing visitors to leave comments on your blog you turn a site with informational articles into a community. Visitors just want their voice to be heard and if they know they can ask the author questions and interact with other readers, it makes them more likely to return. To encourage visitors to become loyal readers and members of your community, be sure to actively reply to comments on your blog after a post has been published.


Tips for Success

 

Write for People

With all the technical aspects of blogging to consider when you are writing it is easy to forget that you are ultimately writing for people. Whilst it is important to consider aspects such as keywords, the most successful bloggers are those that never stop listening to their audience and strive to better understand their needs and interests and as such this passion and genuine intention of getting to know their customers is reflected their content that is always valuable and engaging.

 

Show Your Personality

To stand out from the crowd you need to humanise your blog by sharing your personality, interests and stories that helps people to get to know you and really connect and care about your brand. Consumers want to know the real people behind a business and by showcasing your personality and what makes you unique you will ultimately grow a collection of loyal followers.

 

Keep Going

Maintaining a successful blog is a process involving a lot of effort, time and thought and as time progresses often gets neglected or becomes lower down in a business list of priorities. The key is to keep going and keep it one of your top priorities as search engines and readers want regular, fresh content that will keep them coming to your blog otherwise they will both soon lose interest.

 

Deal with Negativity in a Positive Way

Rather than simply deleting any negative comments you receive, as even the most universally loved businesses receive negative comments, view them as an opportunity to win over a customer offering help, guidance or even acknowledging where something went wrong. By dealing with negativity in an open and authentic way you can help build rapport and trust with your customers.

 

Include Your Key Contact Information

You need to remember to include your key contact information clearly within your blog as you want to make it as easy as possible for a potential engagement or business opportunity to get in touch with you.

 

Make Sure you Include Social Media Sharing Buttons

To help give your blog content extended reach ensure that you include social media sharing buttons on every post. This encourages readers who have enjoyed your post to share it within their own personal networks and this will expand your posts reach beyond your own connections, opening your content out to a whole new audience.

 

Include Visuals

Typically, blogs that include visuals such as a photograph, infographic or video tend to perform better than posts that are purely text based. So be sure to include some type of visual content within your post that is relevant and position it to make the format more visually appealing to readers and breaks up blocks of text.

 

Make Your Post Easily Digestible for Skim Readers

In order to keep readers attention it is important to format your post in such a way that it is easily digestible for skim readers. This involves using sub headings, bullet points and short, succinct paragraphs that ensure there are no heavy paragraphs and your post is clear and easily readable.

 

Don’t Forget Your Sidebar CTA’S 

The homepage for your blog is a great area in which to utilise and help generate leads and interest. Make sure you place prominent and interesting CTA banners and buttons at the top of and on the sidebar of your blog. These are great areas to encourage others to connect with you on your other social media platforms to promoting your latest offers and more.

 

Don’t Forget to Ask For Feedback

Remember as you grow your blog and develop and gain new audiences it is vital that every so often you conduct a survey on your audience to gain feedback and ensure that the information you are posting is still resonating with them and they are finding it useful and interesting. Questions should address topics such as what formats they prefer to receive their content (text, video or audio etc.) and remember to give readers the opportunity to make their own suggestions that will ultimately benefit your efforts and provide future content ideas for you.

 

Invite Guest Bloggers

Inviting guest bloggers has several benefits, from giving your audience a fresh perspective to driving new audiences and helps relieve a bit of pressure off you if you do not have the time to post a blog yourself that week/month.

 

Read and Learn

Reading and learning from other blogs in your industry is a great way to better your own posts. Not only will you boost your own knowledge in your field and become a better writer, you can learn other important aspects of other business blogs, from what they write and how their audience responds and what they say as well as giving yourself the opportunity to voice your opinion and add your thoughts to the conversations of others. Reading lots of other blogs will also help guide future content creation for you as you can share any valuable blogs or articles you come across and of course you can be inspired to create your own posts based on ideas/debates/topics you have seen or read.

 


 

Common Mistakes to Avoid

 

Not Enabling Conversation

Your blog is an on-going social conversation, and not allowing conversation to occur on your blog is a mistake. Whilst allowing blog comments can open you up to criticism and negativity, it also provides an invaluable opportunity to connect with your audience. Your audience is vital to the success of your blog and likes to know that they are being heard so you need to open yourself to the conversation and enable and encourage your audience to respond to what you write. Beyond enabling commenting on your blog, you also need to remember the conversation is two-way, so respond to the comments readers leave and you are likely to develop a community around your writing that can help turn your customers into fans who will promote your products and services and provide you with quality feedback.

 

Posting Inconsistently

Over time blogs often become neglected and not updated regularly as businesses let it slip down their list of priorities. An inactive and forgotten blog can have negative impact on your online image so is not going to benefit your business or be a successful addition to your marketing strategy.  It is therefore vital that you continually assess your time and resources and if you find yourself unable to maintain your writing routine comfortably then edit and change it in order to maintain consistency and maximise your impact.

 

No Diversity Among Post Types

When businesses struggle to generate fresh and interesting ideas for their blogs this often leads to posts sounding generic and similar. When this is teamed with another common mistake in not including media content such as relevant videos and pictures, blog posts can look uninviting and will 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.

 

Only Talking About Your Business, Products and Services

It is very common to see businesses using their blog purely as a place to hard sell their products and services. This is one of the worst mistakes a business can make as to truly benefit from using a blog and social media in general you need to be social and develop relationships and connect with your audience. This involves getting to know them and build a rapport in order that you can directly address their needs and share informative and valuable content that is going to build trust and create a community of loyal brand advocates.

 

Publishing Without Promoting

Your blog could be full of ground breaking ideas and brilliantly valuable information but that is no good if no one can find or see it. Once you have published your post, remember to promote it across all your platforms and that includes tweeting it, mentioning it on Facebook, emailing it to someone you know would find it useful and putting it into your e-newsletter etc.

 

Neglecting to Optimise for SEO

Whilst you are ultimately writing for people, you still need to consciously act on the various ways you can optimise your blog for search. This means utilising your blog post titles with key words and strategically placing them throughout your content. Part of this process also involves a consideration of your blogs tags and using SEO friendly Text.

 

Ignoring the Design Aspects of Your Blog

Remember to consider the design aspects of your blog and ensure that they are optimised to boost and generate leads and traffic for your business. From ensuring you have social media sharing buttons, a search box, a subscription CTA, clear website links and contact information to a clear, organised content filing system.  All of these need to be taken into account and optimised in order to make it easier for visitors to find and view content and ultimately connect with you and take actions.

 

Not Really Thinking About Your Post Title

Your blog post title represents one of the most important aspects in the success of your blog as it is from seeing it that a viewer will ultimately decide whether to click on it and view your post. This means you need to take the time to understand the importance of optimising it and making sure it grabs attention, is clear and concise and directly targets and will be of interest to your audience.

 

Ignoring Blog Analytics

If you fail to analyse your blogs analytics you are missing out on the opportunity to gain valuable insight as to whether your blog is successful and is reaching your business goals.  It also helps you to determine which types of posts are most successful and which aren’t, which will help guide future content creation and ensure you make informed decisions that will ensure your blogs future impact and effectiveness.

 

Trying to Write for the Generic Masses

Remember when writing your posts you need to do so with your target audience in mind as this will ensure that your content is focused, interesting and informative to those who are interested in you and your industry. Writing to please a generic mass of people will not help your goal of becoming a source of valued information and expertise in your industry, so always consciously aim to directly target and address the needs and wants of your audience within your posts.

 

Neglecting to Check Your Post for Typos

Neglecting to read through your work to check for typos and other errors not only makes a post difficult to read and a point harder to get across, it also negatively impacts on your corporate persona leaving the reader with a less-than-professional opinion of you and your blog. So take the time to go through and address easily fixed errors such as spelling mistakes, typos and bad links as they can cost your business greatly in terms of readership and general opinion.

 

You Don’t Read and do Enough Research

Doing your research on your blog topic before you write it is an important aspect of blogging. Reading allows you to be exposed to and learn from different types of literatures, writing styles, opinions and thoughts all of which will inform your own posts and help you develop a solid writing style. By gathering information and educating yourself on the debates surrounding your blog topic you also ensure that you can write a balanced article filled with accurate and relevant debates which will go a long way towards establishing your blog as a trusted and valued source of information for your audience.

 

You See Other Bloggers as Nothing More Than Competition

A common mistake bloggers make is to see others like themselves as competition and not utilise the great opportunities for your business that comes with collaboration. Rather than ignoring other bloggers, take the opportunity to build relationships with them and encourage interaction by joining their conversations and contributing to their sites by adding your voice with valuable and positive commentary. This goes a long way towards establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry. By collaborating with other bloggers and sharing their articles you will also benefit from increased reach and will be opened to a whole new audience as they will likely reciprocate by sharing your content also.

 

You Expect Overnight Success

Having a successful and popular blog takes a lot of time, patience and consistency as it takes a while to grow an audience, find a comfortable writing style as well as posting schedule. Don’t make the mistake of expecting to become an overnight success as in most cases it doesn’t happen. Rather it is the result of a lot of hard work, patience and continually listening to feedback, checking your analytics to see what works and what doesn’t for your blog and its audience.

 


 

Measuring Success

 

Like any other marketing strategy, the success of your blog must be measured against your business objectives. Analysing your blog’s metrics will show you a wealth of information and insights and help determine whether your blog is having a measurable impact and whether the data is reflective of the overall goals and what you wanted to achieve by having a business blog.

 

Measuring Visitors

One of the most basic metrics you can track is the count of people who actually read your blog content. You can look to them to assess whether your blog is successfully growing over a period of time and importantly you can to look at this data to view visits by individual blog articles. This important metric can then help you better understand what content resonates best with your audience and help you determine what the similar factors of your most successful blog posts are and use this to create content in the future that will maximise effectiveness.

 

Measuring Leads

Measuring what blog posts generate leads for your business is as true measure of a successful business blog as leads are what ultimately fuel the growth and success of your business. Look to examine what leads you generate from your blog posts and the rate at which those leads then convert into customers.

 

Subscriber Count

Your subscribers are the base readership of your content and you want to ultimately see that readership grow. Looking at how many people subscribe to your blog provides a solid indicator of the quality and consistency of your content.

 

Engagement

Engagement is about gauging how much people interact with you and the comments on your blog are a good way to measure engagement qualitatively. Your aim should be to create conversation and if your readers are interacting with and responding to your blog posts then it is a good indication that you are engaging your readers making them more likely to respond to and keep coming back to your blog.

 

Authority

A key validating factor for a blog is when others are discussing and referencing what you say. So look to measure the rates at which your blog posts are getting cited or referenced as this will give you a good measure of your authority. If you are consistently providing valuable information to your readers that they cite and share with others, not only do you generate a conversation you also become an authority within your sector.

 


 

Blogging Maintenance Checklist 

 

DAILY

  • Look through blog posts others have posted (ones you follow, blogs of industry insiders and others that you come across) and if relevant respond by adding your thoughts and/ or sharing it.
  • Look to see if any new connections from other social media platforms have a blog and subscribe to it
  • During the week gather information and sources for the following weeks blog post(s)
  • Respond to any interaction and comments from others on your blog post(s) daily

 

WEEKLY

  • Check Your Analytics – Your analytics will help you figure out what your audience likes and doesn’t like, so you can plan your future content better. It’ll also help alert you too any red flags early on. Regularly go through your analytics and ask look at how is your traffic? Are there specific pages on your site that people seem to be bouncing out of? What kinds of topics resonate best with your audience? What headlines grab attention? What kind of keywords are bringing people to your website?

 

MONTHLY

  • Update Your WordPress Installation, Theme and Plugins – Make a habit of performing updates on a regular basis and remove unnecessary themes and plugins you’re not using anymore.
  • Backup Your Site – Backing up your blog regularly helps prevent disasters as if your site ever gets wiped out, you can simply do a restore. Backing up your data is made easy by a variety of different backup plugins. Popular examples include VaultPress or BackupBuddy.
  • Check for Broken Links – The majority links in within your posts will still work even months and years from today. But some of them won’t. When that happens, it reflects very badly on you. To avoid broken link issues, scan your site for broken and whenever possible, replace your old links with new resources.
  • Check Your Ads – If you are running ads on your site, get into habit of checking what ads are showing up on your site and that they are relevant and more importantly aren’t offensive in nature.
  • Check Your RSS Feeds – Make sure your RSS feeds are working properly. It’s best to check on several different RSS clients as sometimes feeds can work in one reader but not another.
  • Review Your About Page – Is your About page up-to-date? If anything about you, your blog, or any other content on your About page has changed since you published it, then you should update it.
  • Test Your Forms – If you have any forms on your blog, be sure to test them to ensure that they are functioning correctly. This is particularly important for your blog’s contact form. If you use third-party plugins or tools to create and manage forms on your blog, make sure you always keep them updated with the latest upgrades and fixes.
  • Delete Spam and Trash Comments – Clean out your comments by deleting spam and trash comments. These can add up quickly so make sure deleting them is part of your ongoing blog maintenance.
  • Clean up Your Sidebars – Regularly assess that all of the elements in your blog’s sidebar are still timely, useful, and relevant. Keep it clean and useful by deleting extraneous elements and placing the best content in a prominent position.

Create A Winning Social Media Marketing Plan With This Easy Peasy Checklist ✔️

Developing a clear, concise and thorough social media marketing plan should be the first thing any business does when starting to use social media to market their business. Having a clear plan will make the difference between a social media presence that thrives and is effective and one that isn’t. Constructing your plan needn’t be a daunting task however, it is simple answering several key questions to ensure that you clearly know the direction to take to develop an effective presence that helps you achieve the results you want for your business. Start your marketing plan today by answering these several fundamental questions;


 

What Objectives do I want my Business to Achieve by Using Social Media?

Whether you want to use your social media presence to gain exposure for your brand, directly educate and interact with your customers, promote specific products and services or all of the above, clearly identifying your objectives is the critical first step towards a successful social media presence. Identifying your objectives in the beginning ensures you will be able to tailor your content and posting schedule to maximise effectiveness and provide value to your customers. Having clear objectives also ultimately helps you to accurately measure your success as you will be aware of the most appropriate metrics to track efficiently.

Common Social Media Objectives

  • Build Brand Awareness
  • Drive Traffic to Website
  • Providing Customer Service
  • Engage with Fans
  • Establish Thought Leadership
  • Launch New Products or Services
  • Generate Leads
  • Increase Sales
  • Research and Insight
  • Build your Community
  • Improve SEO
  • Competitive Analysis

 

What Platforms am I Going to use for my Business?

What you platforms you choose to use will ultimately depend on where your customers are and what are right for your business. Spend the time researching where your current customers are online and what platforms can be best utilized with your resources and business. The key is to not spread yourself too thinly across lots of social media platforms just because you think this will gain your business more exposure, rather it is much more effective to run a handful of platforms consistently and efficiently and to spend the time reviewing the platforms you are on to make sure they are as effective as they can be. You should also keep up to date with research into new technologies and platforms that your business could potentially utilise in the future.

Selecting the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

The key to choosing the right social media platforms relies on you having a clear understanding of your objectives for social media, your target audience and what resources/ information you have to share as having a clear idea of these will inform you of which platforms are going to be the most effective for you. Ultimately ask yourself these three questions;

Purpose – What information do you want to share with and communicate to your audience?
Format – In what format is the best way to present this information? Videos, Podcasts, extended pieces of writing etc.
Platform – Which social media platform will allow me to share this message best and which platform has the correct audience that I want to reach?

 


Have I Done my Research?

A successful social media presence is always aided by a good, solid foundation of prior research. You should look to do initial research into key areas such as your competitor’s social media, your target audience demographics, the latest trends and news in social media, marketing and business as well as many others. Conducting research and paying attention to changes in your industry and audience for example should also be a regular and active occurrence as things, especially social media, evolve and change so you need to keep up to date to ensure your strategy is as relevant and effective as possible.

Market Research – Who is your target audience? How do they behave on social media? Where are they online?

Your Competitors – Which platforms your competitors are using? Are they directly engaging with prospects online? What are they good at online? In which areas could they improve? Can you get case studies? (both successful and unsuccessful examples?

Latest business and social media news, trends and techniques – Do you know the latest techniques on your social media platforms that are effective? What is changing in social media and/or business that could affect your marketing?

 


Who are My Target Audience?

Determining the audience that you want to reach and engage with on social media is fundamental to your strategy. Whether your target audience is your current or potential clients or customers, affiliate businesses, thought leaders or all four, your aim is to create a successful social media strategy that matches and is tailored towards understanding and acting on your target audience’s behaviors online. What are your target audience’s interests? Where do they spend their time online? In what format do they like to digest their content online? These are a few of many questions that you need to know the answers to in order to develop a successful and targeted social media strategy that will bring real results for your business.

 


Who is Going to Set up and Maintain My Business Social Media Platforms?

In the beginning you will need to decide who will implement and maintain your social media accounts. Whether you want to run them in-house or hire a social-media marketing manager or firm, you need to ensure that the person who is in charge of your platforms can effectively represent your brand and know how to create and maintain a successful social media presence. That person is going to ultimately control how your business is presented to others in the online world so you need to be absolutely confident that they are the right person for you and your business.

 


What is my Publishing Schedule?

Your publishing schedule is going to be ultimately dictated by three things, your business capabilities, the platform you’re using and your audience needs. In the beginning you will need to experiment to find a publishing schedule that works best for your business, goals and readers and is the perfect balance of what you want and what your audience wants. Part of this consideration is also understanding the nature of the platform you’re using to publish and whether it is one such as Twitter that favours several short updates per day or Facebook where posting 3 – 5 times a week is effective. Ultimately, how often you post is different for everyone and personal to your business so you when you are creating a publishing schedule you need to ask yourself, Can you keep this schedule consistently?, Can you always publish high-quality content at this rate? And will you have enough content for this schedule? Once you’ve discovered the most effective schedule for you, being consistent with your publishing schedule has the benefit of increasing SEO value, maximising value and engagement from readers and encourages readers to come back regularly for more.

 


 

How am I Going to Ensure my Business Branding is Representative and Consistent?

Having a social media presence is a great way to show a wider audience who you are, what you stand for and ultimately why they should love you. From this, it is important that you know clearly what your brand stands for and how this is going to be conveyed consistently and accurately across your platforms. This consideration needs to be applied to everything from the voice you want for your brand that can be consistently applied across all your posts to the creative aspects of your platforms- that is the overall presentation including the colour scheme and typography. By setting consistent guidelines over the presentation and integration of your branding into your social media platforms it ensures that all these factors support and are in line with your overall branding and help reinforce your message and brand.


 

What Resources/ Content do I have at my Disposal?

Each social media platform has a certain type of content that is best suited towards it, for example Pinterest and Instagram are both inherently visual and as such require good-quality and memorable images to be effective. From this, you need to understand what type of content that the platforms you are using are most effective and importantly what content resonates best with your audience. Once you are clear on both these aspects, you will be able to form an effective content strategy with maximised effectiveness. It is important that you share with your audience a diverse and interesting mix of content types that encourages engagement so you need to think about the types of questions you will ask, updates you will share and ultimately what resources do you have that you can utilise and repurpose for your social media platforms.

 


 

How am I Going to Measure the Success of my Social Media Marketing Efforts?

Tracking your social-media marketing metrics is fundamental as it helps gauge which tactics are successful and which areas are in need of improvement. From this, you need to have a clear vision of what your business objectives are for your social media presence and subsequently what are the most effective metrics you should therefore be analysing to ensure you are reaching those objectives. So whether you want to boost your personal brand through LinkedIn or use Facebook to drive traffic to your site, ensure you have clear objectives with your platforms and routinely assess whether you are successfully meeting those objectives and they are still relevant to you, and if they’re not then you will need to reevaluate.

 


Am I Going to Have to Create a Written Social Media Policy for my Employees?

If there are going to be several different administrators of your platforms or you run a business with staff members who have personal and/or business social media accounts, it is well worth creating a social media policy for your staff to sign so everyone is clear on their responsibilities and what is deemed appropriate and inappropriate behaviour when they are representing or discussing your business online.

 


Ultimately, Have I got a Clear Strategy?

Having a clear idea on every aspect of your social media marketing strategy is key to its success. Ultimately, you should easily be able to answer confidently and with clarity the below questions that form a basic marketing strategy. Part of maintaining a strong, successful presence is also to regularly assess whether certain aspects of your original strategy have changed (For example are your objectives still the same? Is there a new social media platform that your audience is using?) and then adjust your efforts accordingly. As you become a regular participant on social media you will find ways in which you need to improve certain areas and areas in which you excel in, so never stop learning and listening to what your audience and your analytics tell you.

  • Why do I need social media?
  • Who will be responsible for social networking?
  • Who are my audience?
  • What do I want to tell them?
  • How am I going to tell them?
  • What content am I going to create?
  • How often am I going to post?
  • Which social media sites will I use?
  • What tools will I use to measure my success?

 


 

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

 


 

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!