Keeping your website updated is important for encouraging traffic that brings in business. If your team has got in the habit of adding to the business website regularly, you’re on the right track. A website that’s continually updated will pull better results from search engines and it demonstrates to customers that your business is doing well.
It’s also worth trying to come up with “evergreen” content. Evergreen content doesn’t become outdated or irrelevant. Rather, it always reads and appears as relevant whether it’s viewed the day you upload it or three years later. While all content that’s fresh and enticing doesn’t have to be evergreen, this kind of long-life content is very useful.
Blog about new products, share a tutorial with your subscribers or write about what’s going on in your business. It’s not necessary to blog daily, but add one or two blog posts per week to keep visitors coming back for more.
What are people talking about in your industry? Is there an event coming up or a new product launch? Fresh content includes news that’s current. To keep it evergreen, use dates instead of time frames. For example, say “on May 29th, 2014” instead of “in a few weeks”.
Current client testimonials show potential customers that your business is thriving and clients are happy with your services or products. Seek testimonials from satisfied customers, add them to a specific page and intersperse them amongst relevant product or service information. One of the best ways to convert a would-be customer is to provide them with previous customer reviews.
Know your customers and subscribers to provide content that is relevant and enticing. If you understand your demographics, you’ll be able to focus on your niche market to cater to the specific needs, personalities and interests of your customer base.
Update your readers on past stories or news items, especially if they elicited a large number of “likes” or shares. There’s nothing wrong with flying on the coat-tails of a previously popular post if you have a fresh update to add.
Tap into the interest in current events — national or local — through your blog; and promote products and services that customers would find useful in relation to those events.
All the fresh content tips in the world won’t amount to anything if they’re being applied to a website that is clunky to navigate and unpleasant to look at. Before adding a blog to your business website or hiring a professional writer to create content, ensure that your website is attractive to viewers and easy to use. Avoid cramming too much onto one page or overwhelming the viewer’s senses with music or flashing pictures. Keep your website clean so viewers can easily focus on the fresh content you’ve created for them.
Mary Ylisela is part of the writing team at TouchpointDigital.co.uk.
Do you want a hard-working blog that attracts lots of readers in your sector? Read on:
Whether you’re setting out to produce an industry blog or a personal one, you need to make sure it’s on a subject you’re passionate about. It sounds obvious but if you don’t know a lot about the subject you’re blogging on then as a resource it has limited value. As I’m in the B2B PR industry I knew what my peers would find valuable and this insight informed the categories on my blog and it has helped to attract guest posts from some high profile people in the industry.
Don’t be afraid of putting your opinions forward and exploring topics that conventional industry publications would rather avoid — these topics will more often than not prove to be the most popular with your readership. One of the most popular series we’ve produced was a frank assessment of the state of the UK’s PR industry body, the PRCA. We asked whether it offered smaller agencies good value and whether it was principally a lead generation tool for bigger agencies. The blog received a lot of attention and the PRCA ended up engaging with us online and that debate certainly benefitted our readers.
Launching a blog can be soul destroying. You can go for weeks with very little traffic and it can be hard to gain traction as a newbie in an already competitive industry. If you don’t get the 10,000 readers you were hoping for in your first week, keep at it! Your readership will build gradually over time if you keep producing content that appeals. If you abandon your blog at the first sign that it’s not going to be easy, then expect to fail.
While you may think the quality of your content will attract industry peers from far and wide, they do have to find it in the first place. The beauty of social PPC campaigns is that you can use networks like Facebook and Twitter to advertise to a specific audience at a very low cost. We spent no more than a few hundred pounds promoting our blog and were able to get it in front of the right audience quickly and cheaply.
If you want to build an engaged following then you need to understand what your target audience is searching for online. Get familiar with Google’s keyword tool to make sure that the content you’re producing on a regular basis contains the right search terms. Not only does this attract a relevant industry audience but it can also work as a lead generation tool.
Creating great content is a sure-fire way for small businesses to attract and keep customers. Research shows that businesses that blog 15 times or more each month get five times more traffic than those who don’t blog at all. So it’s clear that content is key to generating leads and driving traffic to your website.
Yet, according to Hubspot, only 10% of companies have a dedicated content creator. That means, the vast majority of small business owners have to do all the hard work, and the marketing, themselves.
However, Hubspot research also shows that businesses that create new content just once a month are still 49% more likely to have acquired a customer through their blog. So even if you can only create a little content, you’ll soon be reaping the benefits.
But where does a small business that’s new to blogging start? Or if you’re already blogging how do you keep the ideas flowing? Ask yourself these questions:
1. Who are my clients? If you already have your marketing personas carefully scripted out, go back to them. Think again, have their needs changed? What are their business pains? Can you still provide a solution? And importantly, have you really been considering your targets when creating your content?
2. Why will they listen to me? What do you offer that makes people want to listen and how will your content benefit them? The average prospect doesn't want to hear a sales pitch, so what can you provide that will break down those walls and grab their attention? Authentic, intelligent and educational content is a great way to attract new clients, and keep them.
3. What search terms are leading people to your website? Use these to create content that answers their questions, but keeps them coming back for more.
4. What has been popular in the past? Remember that blog that got 2,000 shares six months back? Is it still relevant? Or could you update it and share it again? Think about the lifespan of your content — are they all one hit wonders, or do they have a longer shelf-life? Why not consider writing new posts on topics that have proved popular? If they’re still getting hits then it makes sense to provide your prospects with the great content that they’re looking for.
5. What do I want them to do at the end? Do you want potential clients to leave your page, or do you want them to download an eGuide? A simple call to action, a comment asking people to get in touch with their views, and at the very least, social share buttons are the next step in the lead nurturing funnel of love.
It’s just the beginning. But while these tips won’t turn you into a modern day Shakespeare, what they will help you develop ideas and pull new customers to your website — and fundamentally, that’s what content marketing is all about.
Rhian Morgans is an online PR executive for Tomorrow People.
The golden rules of writing apply whether you are writing a novel or a blog. Your purpose should be to get the reader’s attention and keep it. You want them to go away with a clear understanding of your core message and ideally, be so impressed that they spread the word about what you’ve said.
The recent death of crime writer Elmore Leonard — known as the writer’s writer — has put the spotlight on his significant contribution to the world of fiction and film. His 45 novels — he was writing his 46th when he died — include many titles made familiar on the big screen, such as Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Rum Punch (which was filmed as Jackie Brown by Quentin Tarantino).
Leonard shared his golden rules in an essay on writing. George Orwell did the same. Stephen King wrote a brilliant book called On Writing. So what can these great fiction writers teach us about writing marketing copy?
Elmore Leonard said “never open a book with weather”. In other words, avoid unnecessary scene-setting. So if you are writing a blog, make a bold statement at the top and then expand on it and back it up. On your website, highlight what you offer before you go into the history of your firm.
It’s good practice to wait before you send or publish something online. Read your writing back a few hours later and delete anything that deviates from your main message.
George Orwell said: “Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” These are wise words.
Leonard, King and Orwell also agree — adverbs are the work of the devil and dialogue should always carry the word “said”. In the world of fiction, that means avoiding phrases such as “he admonished gravely”.
What can this teach us about copywriting? Use simple language to make your points clearly. Short sentences are better than long ones. The simplest words are the most powerful. Verbal trickery is a distraction.
Leonard said: “Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.” And, for good measure, he added: “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip”.
Stephen King put it another way. He said: “Kill your darlings”.
It’s tempting, when you are writing a blog or white paper, to include all your knowledge and expertise. There’s so much you want to say. One way to avoid unnecessary rambling, is to think of your blog or white paper as a story and cut out anything that detracts from the plot.
Leonard said: “Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose." He also said: “Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.”
Orwell said: “Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.”
The message is clear — avoid clichés and jargon. Cliches cause readers to disengage. They skim over these familiar but ultimately meaningless phrases and before you know it, you’ve lost them.
Jargon is another no-no. Sure, every industry has its acronyms and technical terms. But make life easier on your readers. No matter how clued up they are, write in plain English. And don’t forget, your in-house terminology may not be at all familiar to your customers.
Leonard said: “Keep your exclamation points under control. You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose.”
You’re not writing an epic novel — so I would avoid exclamation marks altogether. They are a clumsy way to flag up a joke or any strong statement. It’s a bit like saying “ta da” after you’ve spoken. F Scott Fitzgerald said it was like laughing at your own joke. According to the BBC, there's a word for it — bangorrhea.
Above all, exclamation marks distract the reader. The same goes for the practice of adding quote marks to "unusual words" — much better to change the words and drop the quote marks. Similarly, avoid capitals as much as you can. Giving Some Phrases Initial Capitals is another major distraction for readers.
Happily for anyone that writes marketing and sales copy online, there are lots of additional ways to make your messages stand out — ways that novelists may not use.
Headings, sub-headings and bullet points attract readers and allow them to find their way around your writing. Summaries, handy hints, useful links, images and infographics support your messages. And social media, SEO and email give your writing rocket fuel to reach the widest possible audience.
Content marketing has become so powerful today that you can’t afford to miss a trick.
It’s no secret that I am a big fan of blogging as a marketing tool. I will happily wax lyrical about the importance of generating quality content and how small businesses can make blogging central to a content marketing strategy. So I was delighted by the findings of a new survey that proves that blogging is “where it’s at”.
Published by Technorati, a leading US social media company, the 2013 Digital Influence Report presents insights into the use of social media following surveys of consumers, brand marketers and “influencers” — those people with a “greater than average reach or impact through word of mouth in a relevant marketplace”.
The report reveals that there is overwhelming evidence that consumers rely heavily on blogs for advice and recommendations when making purchasing decisions.
One of the most significant findings is that blogs are right up there with “official” websites — 56% of consumers form opinions by visiting retail sites and 34% turn to brand sites, while an impressive 31% are motivated by what they read on blogs. This compares to a mere 8% of consumers who use Twitter for the same purpose.
And why do bloggers have such clout? Because they are generally considered to give honest and sincere reviews of products and services, they are giving their opinion and will tell it as they find it — what’s more, they aren’t being paid to write favourable endorsements. In other words, they are building trust.
This is something that can come out of even quite small blog communities — when it comes to blogging, size really doesn’t matter, something that the big brands just don’t seem to understand. Popularity doesn’t necessarily equate with trust, and a more intimate experience in a smaller community is much more likely to generate positive action.
Good quality content continues to be the key to a successful blog. Focusing on providing value to your readers through advice and opinion builds that all-important element of trust and will ensure a strong and loyal community. If you want to widen your net, use social media to “advertise” your blog. So Facebook and Twitter should be seen as a valuable means to an end. In other words, it’s your online word of mouth marketing that can direct people to your blog, get them reading your latest posts and then pick up on any calls to action.
Twitter undoubtedly has its place in your marketing toolbox, but your blog is, ultimately, the most valuable tool of all. Twitter, with its short and sweet 140 characters, can only convey so much about your brand and what you do or offer.
So it is through your blog that you will most effectively engage with your audience, influence their thinking and convert them into loyal customers. And that will only happen if they trust you. And trust is built organically through an ongoing dialogue — tricky to do within a mere 140 characters, but eminently possible through regular articles of 400-500 well chosen words.