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Posts Tagged ‘advice’

How to find Content Ideas your Audience will Love

Monday, August 18th, 2014
Image courtesy of Mike Linksvayer/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Mike Linksvayer/Flickr.

Great pieces of content that bring excellent results all start with a good idea. Whether you are creating blog posts, articles, videos, social media posts, podcasts or images, you need to know what will resonate with your audience so people will respond to your calls to action.

The type of content you use will depend on your business and goals, but how do you come up with ideas that will stick and bring results?

Think like your Market

If you were a person in your target market, what would interest you? Put yourself in your market’s position and think about what kind of blog posts, videos or social media accounts you would look for and why.

Sometimes we think we know what our market wants and get stuck in a rut by continuing to provide the same kind content over and over. Take some time to stop and think like the people you are targeting to make sure you have their best interests in mind.

Ask Your Audience what it Wants

But, even when you try to think like your market, you may not completely understand what people are looking for, what they need and what topics or themes attract them. One of the very best ways to get ideas for successful content is to talk to your market.

Use social media, surveys, informal polls, focus groups and other tools to find out what your market wants. Through multiple-choice and open-ended questions you can uncover topics, needs and interests relating to your market and then use them to brainstorm ideas for content.

Find a Need and Fill it

The most valuable and effective content fills a need. It provides something your market is looking for and helps people solve a problem. The need you fill can be as basic as a need for entertainment or it could be as complex as needing how-to advice or even health resources. Find out what your market needs and then find a way to fill those needs with your content marketing strategy.

Watch Market Trends

Look into market trends like what people are purchasing, the services they are using, pop culture topics they are following, how they are spending their time and other trends to find out what might capture your audience’s attention. Of course, you don’t want to blend in with the crowd, but using popular topics and adding your own spin to them can help you get people excited while still standing out.

Find out what Your Market is Doing

Find out what your market is doing both online and offline. What social media sites do they use? Are they reading blogs? Do they spend a lot of time using their smartphones? What kinds of businesses, transportation and stores do they frequent? Information about what people in your market are doing is a great place to go for inspiration for content.

To get the most out of content marketing and encourage people to respond to your calls to action, you need to use compelling content that provides value to your niche market. Think like your market, ask questions and analyse trends, habits and needs to find ideas for content that will grab attention and work for your brand.

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A Checklist for every new Social Media Account you Open

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Image courtesy of Courtney Dirks/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Courtney Dirks/Flickr.

New social media sites are always popping up and the sites that are popular this year may not be as popular next year. But, before you open an account on any new social media site, whether it’s new or not, use this checklist to make sure you are setting yourself up for success.

Decide if the Network Matches your Market and Goals

Not every social media site is right for your business. Do your homework to find out if the people you are targeting use the site. You can do some quick research by looking into the site’s user demographics or go a little further by conducting some surveys.

Also consider whether the site and its features can help you meet your goals. For example, Instagram is a great choice for a business that wants to visually promote products while LinkedIn is a good choice for a business that wants to use long form content.

Set up your Bio, Description, Links and other Settings

Set up your account and make sure things like your bio, description, links and other settings are all complete. Take advantage of things like profile pictures, backgrounds and other features to brand your page so it looks like it belongs to your business.

Explore the Features

Take some time to explore all the features on the site. Look for things like posting options, notifications and extra features for businesses you can use to get even more out of the site. You may also consider looking into advertising options you can use later if the site is successful in helping you reach your market.

Start Posting Quality Content

Once your account is set up and your page looks branded, it’s tempting to start promoting it and building a following. But, before you do that start posting updates and sharing content so your account looks active and valuable before you actively promote it.

This simple step can help you gain more followers and avoid turning off users who take one look at your empty page and decide not to connect with you.

Interact with Others

As you start posting content, interact with other users on the site. Leave comments, join conversations and start connecting with others. This will help you start to build the foundation of your account so you will have some activity and a good start before you officially launch it.

Of course, as you start to interact with others you will probably begin to attract followers. This is great and a good way to begin building your audience.

Promote your Account

Once your account is completely set up and you have shared a few weeks’ worth of content or posts, you can start promoting your account and actively generating a following. By now, your account will look active and users will recognise the value it brings.

Add a “follow me” button to your website and promote your new account through your blog, other social media accounts and any other marketing channels you can.

Whenever you start using a new social media platform you need to do so strategically. Start by making sure the site is a good match for your market, business and goals and then lay a foundation with a complete profile and some quality posts before you start promoting it.

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Simple ways to make your Posts stand out on Social Media

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
Image courtesy of Flazingo Photos/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Flazingo Photos/Flickr.

It’s hard to stand out on social media these days. With so many people using it and so many posts being shared, social media is full of content and some businesses find that their posts are being skimmed over or even ignored.

Social media can be a powerful marketing tool if you can stand out and capture your market’s attention. All good social media strategies start with quality content. From there, there are some simple things you can do to stand out on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Remember that Less can be More

Use short, to-the-point posts to get people to stop scrolling through their news feeds and read your posts. In some cases, less can be more. Instead of posting long, wordy status updates, stick to just a few sentences.

This is especially easy to do when you post a picture or a link to content. Use just enough text to lure people in and get them interested enough to click the link.

Use Bold and Interesting Images

Pictures can help you accomplish things and convey messages in ways words can’t. They can also help you get people’s attention and make them curious enough to read your post or the content you link to.

Use images that are bold, interesting, funny, entertaining or that give your audience a new look at your business or products. These kinds of pictures can help your content stand out among all the other social media posts.

Offer Quick, Valuable Posts

Offering value is a great way to get your market’s attention, but on social media you need to do it quickly. Creating posts that provide instant value will help you reach more people and could even help you gain more followers and get more social media shares.

Some simple ways to do this include offering a coupon, announcing sale dates, linking to a how-to video or otherwise providing value in just a few words or one sentence. This tip is similar to the idea that less is more, but takes things a little further by introducing real value to a short post.

Incorporate Two-Way Communication

Don’t just use social media to talk about yourself and at your market. Instead, talk about others and talk with your audience. Do this by commenting on posts, joining conversations and even mentioning and tagging others in your posts.

These kinds of social media posts are more dynamic and interesting because they aren’t fully self-promotional and they make it easy for others to get involved.

Don’t Over Post

Lots of businesses are tempted to post to social media accounts too often. Yes, you do need to post frequently and stay consistent, but don’t spam your followers. If you over post, you could lose followers and people may start to ignore your posts because they are so frequent.

On the other hand, when you post regularly but not too often, your posts will stand out on news feeds and people will be more likely to pause and read what you have to say.

Standing out on social media so your market will see and interact with your posts is important if you want to use your accounts to promote your business. These simple tips are things you can start implementing right away to see better results.

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Common SEO Myths: Busted!

Monday, August 11th, 2014
Image courtesy of Ged Carroll/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Ged Carroll/Flickr.

Search engine optimisation has all kinds of myths associated with it. Some believe it’s the best way to promote your business online while others don’t think it offers any value. While best practices, tactics, approaches and algorithms are always changing, SEO isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

When you know the truth behind some of the most common myths, you can find ways to more effectively use SEO at your business and even get upper management on board as you plan and execute campaigns.

Myth: SEO is all about spam.

Bad practices like keyword stuffing, content created just for building links and quantity over quality have given SEO a bad rap. In reality, spam doesn’t help you gain rankings. In fact, your site can actually be penalised by search engines if you use under-the-table SEO techniques.

Truth: Successful SEO requires high-quality content that targets your market.

Search engines, especially Google, are battling these practices and are favouring sites that don’t use spam or other low-quality tactics to gain rankings. To succeed, you need to produce high-quality, relevant content that was written for people first and then optimised for search engines.

Myth: SEO requires a big investment for little return.

There’s no question that SEO does require a large amount of time and resources. To gain rankings you will need to work with an expert who knows what kinds of tactics to use and how best to optimise your site.

Truth: It does take time to see SEO results, but those results are extremely valuable.

Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t provide instant results. It does take several weeks or even months to get a website to rank for a specific keyword. But, SEO can bring big results like more traffic, increased sales and better brand recognition.

Myth: SEO is all about off-site links.

Many people automatically start thinking about link building when they hear the term “SEO.” They assume that to get a page to rank, it needs a lot of external links that lead to it.

Truth: Off-site links are important, but SEO is about so much more.

In reality, off-site links are only part of the equation. To get rankings, your site needs to be fully optimised with high-quality content, relevant information, a strong site structure and keywords that are used naturally.

Myth: SEO can stand alone and my other marketing efforts will make up for a lack of SEO.

Another common myth is that SEO is in a world all its own and the strategies used here don’t need to correlate with other marketing strategies. Some people also believe that if they use social media marketing or content marketing they can skip SEO.

Truth: The best SEO campaigns integrate social media, content and Internet marketing.

While SEO is a powerful form of marketing, it can’t do everything. It can’t replace a strong social media presence or a blogging strategy. In fact, the most successful SEO campaigns work in conjunction with social media, content and Internet marketing. When all of these work together, each one will be more comprehensive and you’ll see much better results.

These are just a few of the most common myths surrounding SEO. When you fully understand why SEO is so important to your business and how it is best used, you can benefit from things like more site traffic, more sales and even increased brand awareness.

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What to do when you get a Bad Online Review

Friday, August 8th, 2014
Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of adamr/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Negative reviews about your business can be hard to deal with whether they are online or not. But, online reviews carry a different weight. More people have access to them, they are more easily shared and they can quickly damage your reputation. So what should you do if you get a negative online review?

Never Respond Negatively

Responding negatively or getting into an online debate with a reviewer only makes your business look bad. It shows people you can’t handle feedback and that you don’t really care what your customers think.

On the other hand, when you respond professionally, no matter how negative the reviewer is you can turn a situation that could be bad for your business into something good. Remember that the way you respond to online reviews says a lot about your business.

Listen and Respond

First, don’t just ignore online reviews, even when they are negative. Listen to what your customers are saying and make changes if possible. If you can, reach out to the unhappy customer and try to answer questions or meet his needs.

Depending on the forum, you may want to leave a public response so others can see that you care what your customers think and add your voice to the conversation. When your customers see that you are listening to feedback and take constructive criticism to heart, they will be more impressed with your business.

Know when to go Offline

In some cases, it may not be appropriate to address negative reviews online. Neither you nor your customer wants all the details of a tough situation displayed on your Facebook page for everyone to read. Of course, you also don’t have the time to respond to every single online review.

If you can more effectively address a customer’s problem or need more information, leave an online response telling the customer how to get in touch with you so the problem can be resolved.

This simple response helps you serve your customers, show your online audience you are listening and avoid more negative online content.

Play by the Rules

Never use fake positive reviews to combat negative ones. Many review sites have strict rules against this and in the end you will only hurt yourself. Instead, embrace online reviews as a chance to learn what your customers are looking for and find ways to improve your online reputation.

Good reviews are obviously beneficial, but even negative reviews can help you if you handle them the right way. Respond professionally and listen to what people are saying. In some cases, you may notice a common theme across several reviews, which can help you identify areas where you need to improve.

You can also use online reviews as an online marketing tool by responding positively and encouraging customers to leave comments on your website, social media pages or even major review sites.

Positive online reviews can help you build a reputation and attract more customers while your professional and strategic responses to negative reviews can help you show your customers you are listening to their feedback and are willing to make changes to meet their needs.

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The Content Creation Formula you Should be Using

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
Image courtesy of David M. Goehring/Flickr.

Image courtesy of David M. Goehring/Flickr.

The type of content marketing you use and the specific messaging you include will depend on your business and audience. Your blog posts, online articles, infographics, videos and other pieces of content need to resonate with the people you are targeting.

But, there is one key formula you should be implementing no matter what kind of content marketing plan you are using. This formula can be altered and personalised for your business so you can more effectively reach your audience and get bigger results.

The Formula

The formula is simple: relate to your audience, describe a problem and then provide a solution. When you use this format, your audience can’t help but take notice and be interested in what you have to share. Then, when you offer a solution you are providing value that will keep your audience coming back.

Relate to Your Audience

Your audience needs to be able to relate to your content from the very beginning. From the first paragraph of a blog post, title of an article or first few seconds of a video, people should know that the content relates to them and will be beneficial.

Do this by creating content that will be of interest to your audience and then using the right tone and style. Show people that you understand where they are coming from.

Describe a Problem

Now, describe a problem your market has. This can be as simple as needing product information or as complicated as not knowing how to use a service. You probably already have some idea of what your market struggles with because you as a business try to meet those needs.

Find ways to translate those needs into content, showing your audience you are there to fix the problem. Outlining a problem, even subtly, can tell people you understand their needs.

Provide a Solution

Now, provide a solution. The goal of all of your content should be to provide value and solve problems. You can do this by creating tutorials, lists, free samples or guides and even just offering advice.

The most important thing to remember is that you want to position yourself, your business or products, as the solution. Doing this will help you boost sales and establish yourself as an industry expert that people will want to come to.

How to Use the Content Creation Formula

This formula should be used as part of your overall strategy and as a guide for each piece of content you produce. As you decide what kind of content to use and how to publish it, relate to your audience, define the problem and then solve it.

Then, when you create articles, videos, infographics, images, ebooks and any other kind of content, use this formula on a smaller scale as an outline for the piece.

Remember that you may need to relate to a few different audiences and solve more than one problem. Set up a few formulas for your business and then use them as you create a content strategy and start producing content. These simple steps will make your content more valuable and effective, benefitting your entire Internet marketing plan.

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6 Ways to Increase your Email Open Rate

Friday, August 1st, 2014
Image courtesy of Photokanok/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Photokanok/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How can you be successful with email marketing if people don’t actually open your emails? You really only have a few seconds and a subject line to get people interested enough in your email to open it.

There are all kinds of tips out there on how to write effective subject lines, but the real key is to send emails with real value and to communicate that value in the subject. Here are a few ways you can start doing this at your business.

Give a Special Discount or Promote a Sale

Most people are excited by discounts, coupons and sales. Offer these in your emails and be sure to tell people about it in your subject line. Of course, you don’t have to offer a discount with every email, but if you do this on a regular basis you’ll attract and retain email subscribers.

Offer a Freebie

Discounts are great, but everyone loves a freebie once in a while! This is another great way to get people to open your emails and can help you show potential customers what you are capable of when you offer a sample of your work. Other great freebies include how-to guides, digital downloads, ebooks and tool kits.

Announce a New Product or Feature

Get your audience’s attention with an email subject line that announces a new product or feature. This is a great hook for current customers because it grabs their attention and shows them that you are constantly developing and improving the way you do things to satisfy your customers.

Promote an Event

Use email marketing to promote events. Whether you hold local events, national conferences, webinars or Google Hangouts, you can keep your emails fresh and current with details about how people can get involved. Be sure to promise a benefit in your subject line so people will want to open the email and participate in your event.

Tell People How to get the Most out of your Products

Keep your current customers interested and engaged by helping them get the most out of your products and services. Send emails that offer how-to information, tips, tutorials and ideas for using your products. This kind of information is useful to your customers but it also reminds them how valuable your products are and why they want to continue doing business with you.

Give Exclusive Access to a Product or Service

Giving email subscribers exclusive access to products or services piques their interest and can help you generate more sales. There are lots of ways to do this, for example, offer subscribers access to more content on your website or the chance to try your service before you officially launch it. This helps you build excitement, attract more customers and even make more sales as people get excited about and like your products.

To get results with email marketing you need to combine excellent content with great subject lines. When you do this people will open your emails and respond to your calls to action, helping you succeed.

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Why People are Leaving Your Website and How to Stop Them

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Image courtesy of Stavros Markopoulos/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Stavros Markopoulos/Flickr.

The longer people stay on your site the more time you have to convert them into customers. When people browse your pages, read your blog posts and look at your products, they will be more likely to respond to your calls to action. But, how do you get people to stay on your site?

Many businesses unknowingly have elements on their site that actually drive traffic away. This checklist can help you find out why your site has a high bounce rate and how you can keep people on your site longer.

Your Site Doesn’t Look Professional

You only have a few seconds to make a good first impression with your website and if it doesn’t look professional, people will click the “back” button. A professional website tells visitors they can trust you and that you provide real solutions.

The Fix

Make sure your site’s design is clean and professional. Copy, photos, graphics and other elements should also be professional and reflect your brand. An outdated site can look unprofessional and tell people you don’t keep up with technology, so keep your design current.

You don’t Direct Visitors’ Attention

When people come to your website, what is the first thing they look at? If your site is too busy, or too boring, people won’t know where to look first. This is a problem because you won’t be able to entice visitors to explore your site.

The Fix

Choose a focal point and then work to make sure your design directs peoples’ attention to it. Strategically choose to highlight something like a new product, email subscription form or specific page on your website so you can achieve your marketing goals.

The Call to Action isn’t Clear

People need to know what to do when they visit your site. Whether they come with a purpose in mind or not, you need a relevant call to action that will grab their attention and encourage them to take action that will help you meet your goals. Sites that lack calls to action or that have unclear or confusing calls to action aren’t very successful.

The Fix

Choose your call to action carefully, making sure it fits in with your overall business and marketing goals and speaks to your market. Then, make sure it is easy to understand, very clear and in a prominent place on your site.

You Make things Hard

If your call to action is clear but it is hard for people to respond to it, they will leave your site. For example, if you invite people to sign up for your email updates but the form is hard to find or use, people won’t follow through.

The Fix

After you have established a call to action, make sure it is easy for people to respond to it. Don’t make it hard for people to work with your business, or you might just lose site visitors and even customers.

Driving more traffic to your site and decreasing your bounce rate is great way to make progress toward increasing sign-ups, making more sales, raising brand awareness and accomplishing all kinds of goals. These tips can help you make sure your site is visitor friendly and a more effective marketing tool.

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Go Beyond Simple Link Sharing for more Social Media Referrals

Thursday, July 24th, 2014
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Most businesses use social media to promote their blog and website. Sharing content here will help you drive traffic to your site where you can convert visitors to customers and even increase your search rankings.

But, simply copying and pasting links from your website to social media can get stale. It’s okay to post links, which on some sites let you automatically show a preview of your content, but when this is the only way you share your content, you aren’t using social media to its fullest potential.

With some creativity and by using some different approaches, you can update your social media marketing strategy to get your market’s attention and see even more social media referrals.

Post a Teaser

One of the most basic ways to generate interest in a link is to post a teaser. Copy and paste a sentence or two from the post itself or write a short blurb that gets people interested enough to want to click through to the content.

An example of a good teaser for an article about how to choose the right laptop would be: “We compared the top five selling laptops to help you decide which is right for you!”

Promise a Benefit

With so much content out there and with so many things to look at and do on social media, people need a good reason to click on your link. If social media users don’t see value in what you are offering, they won’t visit your site.

A post that says something like, “Don’t waste your money on the wrong laptop! Our comparison chart will help you find the perfect fit for you,” tells people what benefit your content provides: advice on how to save money.

Ask a Question about the Content

People like to give their opinion, so ask for it! When you post a link to your content, ask people a question about it. This makes them curious about what is in your content while also encouraging engagement and comments.

When you post a link, ask a question like “Have you tried any of the laptops on our value comparison chart? What do you think? Did we get it right?” This does two things. First, it makes people want to look at your blog post and chart and also encourages them to leave a comment on your social media post or blog post.

Give a Hint

Giving a hint is similar to posting a teaser, but it provides less information and tempts people to click on your link to find out what it’s all about. For example, write a post that reads something like “You will never guess which laptop came out on top in our comparison of the most popular models!” This hints at what your content is all about but doesn’t give too much away so people will still want to visit your site.

Sharing content on social media is a great way to drive traffic to your site and interact with your market. When you use more creative ways to post and share, you will stand out on social media and see even better results.

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To Email or Not to Email: Is Email Marketing for You?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014
Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Email marketing can be an extremely powerful form of marketing. It lets you get into your markets’ inbox and deliver messaging and value like few other tactics do. Email marketing success stories are common, but is this kind of marketing for you?

Many businesses can benefit from email marketing, but by asking yourself these questions you can determine if you should use your time and resources to start a campaign.

Does my Market Want to Hear from Me?

First, decide if your market wants to hear from you. Think about what you could offer through emails and what your market is looking for. If you can fill that need, email marketing could work for you. You can also do surveys or polls on your website and find out if people would be interested in getting emails from you.

Do I have Something of Value to Share?

The best and most successful email marketing campaigns provide value. They offer something people want, need or benefit from. If you can’t provide value, you will struggle to gain subscribers, maintain a strong email list and get benefits from your campaign. Think about what would benefit your market and then find ways you can use email to provide that benefit.

Can I be Consistent?

Like other marketing tactics, email marketing requires consistency. You need to keep providing value to your subscribers while also benefitting your business. If you don’t think you have the time, resources or content to send regular emails, this tactic may not be a good fit.

There isn’t one answer to how frequently you should send emails. Your frequency will depend on your business, the kinds of emails you send and your market. You will most likely need to do some testing before you find the perfect frequency.

How can my Business Benefit?

Before you pursue email marketing, make sure your business will benefit from it. Email marketing can help you boost sales, increase traffic, improve brand awareness, build your reputation and accomplish all kinds of things. Look at your business and marketing goals and determine whether or not email marketing can help you.

Do I have a Strategy?

If you want to use email marketing successfully and to reach your goals, you need to have a strategy. Random emails that are sent without specific messaging, calls to action and thoughtful layouts won’t benefit your business.

When you decide to use email marketing, keep things like your goals and market in mind as you build a strategy that will ensure you are successful. Each email you send should be part of a bigger plan and fit into a bigger marketing picture.

Email marketing is a great way to promote your business, reach your customers and accomplish a variety of marketing and business goals. But, before you start using this form of marketing, make sure it is the right fit for your business and market so you will be successful.

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