Category Archives: Content Marketing

Ways to Improve Every Section of Your Next Blog Post

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person typing blog post on laptopThe perfect blog post is an art; the proof is in the contrary. The internet is full of (in our opinion) low-quality art that no one wants to read—not readers or search engines. Here’s how to improve every section of your blog post, and produce content that scores well with both audiences.

Headline

Your headline is an integral part of your reader’s decision to click, so don’t underestimate the importance of a strong headline. As an added bonus, a headline is also an essential part of your optimization efforts. What makes a strong headline? A headline evokes an emotional response, answers the reader’s question, or entertains the person. Use that knowledge to write a headline that accomplishes one of those purposes (or hire a content marketing firm that can).

For search engine purposes, include highly relevant keywords in your title. Basically, it’s your job to show the search engines that your content is relevant to internet searches. This advice comes with a buyer beware clause; don’t become so focused on an optimized title that your content title does not grab your reader’s attention.

Introduction

“Attention grabbing” and “relevant” is the two qualities that should fit every one of the introductions of your blog posts. This is your chance to draw your readers in, and make them want to read more.

For optimization, use a similar strategy to your headline. Include relevant keywords and phrases in your introduction. Remember to be smart about your keywords, however; you don’t want to write a blog post that doesn’t make sense or deters your readers from continuing. Don’t stuff your blog post full of keywords; instead write for your readers with optimization in mind.

Images

Blog posts are not just about text; to the contrary, blog posts with images and videos rank better in search engine listings than pages without. Select your images carefully and ALWAYS make sure you have the legal right to use the photo. The image or video selected should be relevant to the topic covered; if people are involved, a photo or video with a person (or persons) is preferred. (More tips on selecting the right image here.)

For optimization, use keywords in your alt text to describe the picture. Search engines use that text to “see” what images are in your blog post and use that information accordingly.

Body

As you write for your readers, avoid long bodies of text that make your reader hit the ‘back’ button. Write in small, easy-to-read paragraphs. Break up your text with headlines. Back up your points with (properly-credited) statistics.

For the search engines, include relevant topics and keywords in your text. Again, don’t go overboard; your text should be search engine and reader-friendly. If you don’t know how to combine the two (or don’t have time), hire an affordable marketing firm that has experience with writing blog posts; all you have to do is give them the topics and information to create the marketing plan. Then sit back and watch the pros create those pieces of art.

Step by step: Make SEO, Content, Social Media & Email Work Together for You

puzzle with hand pushing in last piece of digital marketing puzzle We’ve met more than a few business owners who look at digital marketing tools as aliens from foreign planets.  What’s even more common is for them to look at each of these “UFOs” as all from a separate planet (or galaxy!), without putting all the pieces together and recognizing the potential of well-coordinated online marketing plan.

We’ve written about the ‘what’ of these online marketing tools: search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, and how they are a must of any business marketing plan. Now we’re going to give you a general idea of how you can make them work together as an integrated marketing plan (think of it as a coordinated universe if we want to stick with space analogy), saving you time and effort in the process—and increasing your business bottom line, if executed correctly.

Start with a solid foundation: your website

What good is a stellar email marketing campaign if you don’t have solid website pages to send your audience back to?  What kind of sales numbers are you going to achieve if you entertain your audience on social media, but don’t have any more business info to give them?  Start with a well-built website (or hire experts to do it for you) with all the ‘must haves:’ optimized information about all your products or services, your business, and a way for people to reach you.  Optimize the content on your pages for search engines and your audience (use these tips), and use SEO to attract local customers searching for products and services pertinent to your business (see how this is all starting to come together?).   

Use your sales cycle to plan

Your efforts to market your website should follow your sales cycle.  For example, if you are a caterer, look back at your sales for the past year to dictate your marketing plan for next year.  Your sales team or customer service representatives would be an excellent source for this information; after all, they are interacting with your potential and existing customers on a regular basis.  An example would look like:

December-March Booking weddings (because of high engagement rate)

April-June Booking company picnics

July-August Booking weddings

September-November Booking holiday parties

This calendar is very simplified, but you can see how your sales cycle would drive your online marketing calendar.  Based on this basic example, the content you produce would match what your sales team is seeing from customers so your entire team can use the materials you produce to reach your targeted audience.

Use strategy to dictate content creation

Remember just because you’re following your sales calendar doesn’t mean you need to produce content that is entirely about selling your business.  You are trying to provide value to your customer, and you’re not going to attract new customers if you’re screaming “buy, buy, buy!” in their face.  It’s the wrong first impression.

What you should do is compile a list of subjects related to your calendar.  These subjects can stem from customers’ frequently asked questions or topics that your sales team feels would entertain your customers and draw potential customers (more ideas for content topics here).  If you outsource your content creation, make sure you connect with your marketing team on a regular basis.  Make sure you integrate big events into your calendar as well, such as a trade show or open house.  Use video, quality images, and other media as part of your plan—remember not everyone is driven to text alone.  Make sure you post content to a blog (this is a very common and effective content marketing tool, more info here) on a regular basis (this is very important), both to keep your audience’s and search engine’s attention (search engine optimization).

Don’t forget that your content is being produced to convert your customers; include links back to your website, search-optimized pages, and social media channels so your customers have an easy way to buy and ask questions.

Draft a strategic distribution plan (and stick to it)

Businessman sitting at table and screaming in megaphone on laptop while content marketingQuality content without a distribution plan is like a really good secret no one hears.  Add another dimension to your content calendar with ways you are going to share your content, such as social media and email marketing.  When adding this layer to your online marketing, keep the word ‘manageable’ in mind.  A good distribution plan is no good if you can’t execute it.  Remember, you don’t have to be on every social media channel out there, only the social media sites that fit your audience (we found a useful information on social media channels and demographics here).

Share your content as much as possible and make your content shareable so your customers can share it.  Make sure your sales team pushes it out as well.  Ask them to share it on their professional social media channels (if applicable) and via email.  Start building an email list of customers and potential customers, with the customers’ permission.  Use your content in emails, and drive the customer back to your blog, website, and social media channels so they have a variety of ways to contact you and buy your product or get a quote.

In addition to sharing content, don’t be afraid to share interesting articles and videos, notices with upcoming events (i.e. grand openings, trade shows, open houses, etc.), faces of your business, and interesting things you see on the job.  Keep everything you share somewhat professional; you don’t want to give your business a black eye by making one of these social media marketing mistakes.

How to make it ALL work for you

We wish we could give you a hard-and-fast plan with every online marketing tool integrated into an effective plan for your business (and we haven’t even touched out to add traditional marketing to the mix), but the truth is that every business and industry is different.  Plan accordingly, and be flexible.  Test out what works and doesn’t work, and outsource to the experts if you feel overwhelmed by “space age” online marketing.

5 Must Haves of Every Online Marketing Plan

Puzzle Squares On Smartphone Shows Pieces of Online MarketingWhen we were coming up with a title for this post, the logical choice was ‘5 essential elements of an internet marketing plan.’ Though logical, that title didn’t strike us as strong enough—not nearly strong enough to emphasize how much owners and managers need these must-haves to achieve online marketing results.  No one is going to find out about your website just from its mere existence (called the ‘if we build it, they will come’ phenomena).  Your business MUST have a solid internet marketing plan with all the essential elements that drives customers to your online presence—and converts them to paying customers.

Solid website

A solid website seems like a given; after visiting thousands of sub-par websites, we’re here to tell you that isn’t true.  Your online marketing efforts should revolve around your customers (not what you want them to know, but what they want to know) to drive traffic to your website.  Without a solid website for customers to land on and use, all your online marketing efforts are going to result in a big goose egg.  A solid website includes:

  • Text your English teacher would approve (i.e. no spelling errors, typos, grammatically correct),
  • Excellent user experience (clear call-to-actions, user-friendly navigation, etc.),
  • Design targeted toward your primary audience,
  • Mobile-friendly features and option,
  • Easy-to-read content written specifically for your audience,
  • Loading speed,
  • Quality images,
  • Contact information.

It’s important to note that you need all of these elements when building a solid website.  We’ve all seen websites that have some of these elements but not other key parts; we’d strongly recommend you go down this checklist and make sure your website checks off all the boxes.  If it doesn’t, find a company that can build a solid, customized website for your company—and provide all the services that go into a high-quality website (professional writing, design, security, etc.)

SEO

SEO Optimize Keywords Links Signpost Showing Website Marketing Optimization road sign for local seoSearch engine optimization is creating an optimal website and content for search engines to rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). There are many different ways to optimize your website, but here are some of general, basic ways:

  • Adding regular and fresh user-friendly web pages/content targeted for your primary audience
  • Using search engine optimization tactics such as writing strong, accurate headlines and building an optimized website structure
  • Hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.

Local search engine optimization technology can get you at the top of organic search engine listings in local towns and cities. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization technology is an essential part of reaching local customers searching for information and services. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website at the top of local organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.

Content Marketing

blog at center of targetContent marketing is creating and sharing content relevant to your customers. One of the most effective content marketing tools we have found is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless.

The goal of content marketing is to build trust. In the past, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. Excellent content marketing delivers the information your customers are searching for on the internet (on search engines and on social media), and gives them links to find more out about products, and to contact your business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with search engines. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.  If you don’t have time to maintain a regular content marketing schedule, contact a company that can produce professional content specific to your business and targeted at your customers. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Remember that you still need to allocate time to give input.

Content should be shared via social media, email marketing, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

Social Media Marketing

social media sites behind smart phoneSocial media marketing is using a social media network (or networks) as a way to communicate with your customers and potential customers, and for them to communicate with you through posts, comments, and reviews. Social media marketing gives your business these benefits:

  • Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service. Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  • Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, embrace the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  • Chance to sell your products and services. We’ve seen businesses where customers messaged to set up appointments. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product.

When choosing what social media network to join, determine what networks your customers are on. Factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for social media.  Automation tools can help with this process, but don’t overuse social media automation.   Be real on social media and avoid the common social media marketing ‘traps’ that some businesses fall in.  A solid social media presence consists of regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network), relevant resources, and prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service).  To check all those criteria off your list, designate a staff member (or company) adequate time to devote to your efforts.

Email Marketing  

Statistics have repeatedly shown that using emails to communicate with your customers and potential customers gets results. A staggering 66% of online users made a purchase as a result of email marketing. To get started in email marketing, you need emails of interested customers and good email marketing program.  Don’t send out thousands of emails from your company server.

To get the best results out of your email marketing, don’t buy random email lists.  Spam emails are a sure turn-off for customers and potential customers. Instead, compile a strong email list by:

  • Offer your customers a one-time discount if they sign up for your email list.
  • Train every salesman or staff member to incorporate a request for a prospect’s email address in their sales pitch in-store or at tradeshows.
  • Add an opt-in option for customers making on-line purchases.
  • Create a social media contest, and include an honest request for their email in the contest.

Craft emails with all the elements of a essential email marketing piece:

  • Truthful, eye-catching email subject line.
  • Strong media, videos, and visuals.
  • Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA).

Online Marketing Diagram Shows Blogs Websites Social Media And Email ListsIntegration

For optimal results, integrate all your online marketing efforts into a regular, coordinated internet marketing plan.  Start with a strong, optimized website with search engine optimization, and create a blog with topics that drive traffic back to your website.  Finally, create a schedule in-line with your business cycle that promotes your content (email marketing, social media marketing) and your website. Test out what email captures your audience’s attention, keeps it, and drives them to purchase.

7 of Our Top Tips for Companies New to Online Marketing

Online Marketing Pyramid Has Blogs Websites Social Media And Email ListsYou’ve heard all the online marketing buzz terms: social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing…and you’re ready to jump on board. You’ve heard about the results that other companies are getting using the internet and you’re ready to start using all the online marketing tools to market your company.

But are you really ready?

The world of internet marketing is not as intimidating as it seems, but it is an unknown that won’t yield results if you blindly jump in. On top of that, it’s also always evolving and changing as technology advances. So where do you start? We’ve compiled a list of some of the top tips we’d give to anyone ready to start using these valuable tools—in fact, we’ve given them to our own rookie clients.

Know what you want to achieve.

Don’t jump into online marketing without a goal. Your goals could include increase website traffic, online conversions, customer engagement…your goal is specific to your business. Once you’ve set your goals, create a calendar that matches your promotions and audience.

Target your efforts.

Online marketing is all about starting a conversation with your audience. Know who you’re talking to, and how they want you to talk with them. Select a voice that fits the demographic of your audience and your industry, and use that voice in all of your materials. Next, choose the online channels where your audience converses so you don’t waste your time throwing a million proverbial darts without hitting very much of the target.

Don’t treat online customer service different than in-person service.

If someone comes into your store, or calls you on the phone, you answer their questions promptly and courteously. Treat the service you deliver from your website and social media the same way, and follow these six rules for delivering excellent customer service.

PLEASE integrate all your marketing.

Online marketing may be the big unknown, but it’s not a stand-alone effort. Treat your online marketing efforts like you (hopefully) are treating all your mail and radio ads: integrated with one consistent voice. For example, if you are putting together an ad for the local papers, post those same deals on social media. Don’t worry about your audience getting the information too much; today’s customers receive their information from different channels. Your job is to be on all those channels with coordinated information and one clear, consistent voice for optimal brand awareness.

You have to commit to online marketing, and stick to it.

Online marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Once you jump into online marketing, expect to allocate time to writing quality content, scheduling strategic social media posts, answering messages, and locating high impact images. Online marketing results occur from regular work, so don’t give up. If you don’t have time to keep up, outsource your efforts and give the company the necessary information they need to market your business.

Don’t use social media and content marketing as another advertising space.

You don’t get results in online marketing like you do in advertising. Internet marketing is more subtle. You’re trying to build trust, and you’re not going to get that by screaming at them. Instead, entertain them (if appropriate). Build a relationship with them. Give them information. Answer the questions they ask on the phone and in person. Provide customer service.

You don’t have to do it all.

There’s no shame or blame in handing your online marketing efforts over to the professionals. Contact a company that can supplement or manage all your online marketing efforts. Use our do’s and don’ts of outsourcing to get the most out of your marketing company—and to achieve the online marketing results you’re always hearing about.

The Question You Should Ask Before Writing Any Content

Businessman sitting at table and screaming in megaphone on laptop while content marketingSometimes the most basic knowledge you know is actually very advanced.

I was reminded of this the other day.

I was discussing content marketing with a colleague. We were talking about his ideas for his new website blog which he was very excited about. Every sentence he started with, “People should know…”

Honestly, his comments made me cringe even though I admired his enthusiasm. The basis of content marketing is to build trust—a goal that can be accomplished by knowing who your audience is, and writing for them.

If you write every piece for your audience, you’ll accomplish this. But if you take a “people should know” and “I need to tell them” approach, you have to be careful not to write AT them. When you’re writing, ask yourself “what do they want to know?”

Do you see the difference?

A well-written content marketing piece isn’t what you want them to know, but based on what they want to know, and how you can help them. It seems like a small difference, but you get the best results when you write for the searcher’s intent—the reason they’re reading your piece in the first place.

Know your audience’s pain points, and write for them. Choose topics they want to know about (we’ve given you ideas for your posts in our recent post), and answer their questions in your content. If you can’t do that—and there are managers that can’t—hire a marketing company with professional writers that can.  If you can do that every time, you’ll provide a form of customer service that your customers appreciate, and in turn you’ll build their trust (and sales). So put down the content marketing megaphone—you and your audience will appreciate it.

Are you taking advantage of all the digital marketing tools that increase sales?

search engine optimizationYou know you need to do something about online marketing, but you don’t know what. You’ve heard all the buzz terms: social media, search engine optimization, content marketing, online marketing, email marketing, digital marketing, blog; but you have no idea what they mean, and how to use them for your business. You’re not alone; we talk to business owners and managers every day who are in the same boat. They know their business needs the online exposure. They know it is the wave of the future as statistics repeatedly show that more people are using online to find local businesses—and not the phone book.

Increasingly, we’re finding more and more of our job is to educate business owners about these tools; they know they need them, but they don’t know why or even what they are. We’ve addressed why in past blog posts, but here’s the what of digital tools and, more importantly, how to make them work for your business.

SEO

local seoSearch engine optimization is just what it says—creating an optimal website for search engines to browse and rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). There are three different ways to optimize your website:

  • By creating regular and fresh user-friendly web pages/content users want to read.
  • By using search engine optimization tactics on your website such as writing accurate headlines and excellent content on each page.
  • By hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.

Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy because people are looking for products, services and information online—a lot of people. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.

Content Marketing

content marketingContent marketing is creating and sharing content. One of the most effective content marketing tools we have found is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless. The goal of a blog is two-fold:

  • To give your audience what they want. The #1 rule of marketing is to know your audience. If you are a sports retailer, your audience is going to be different than a spa or wedding venue’s customers. Find out what your audience wants to know and give it to them. How do you figure that out? Ask them. Listen to them on your social media sites. In a way, you’re using a business blog to provide customer service.
  • Build trust. If you give your customers and potential customers what they want: entertainment, answers to their questions, knowledge, you can earn their trust. In the old days, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. They’re cruising the web because it’s convenient and easy to find what they need, both in information, services and products. Or they’re clicking on links they receive in their email. A business blog gives them the information they’re looking for on the internet, and gives them links to find more out about products or to contact a business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with a tool that more than 90% of online users turn to for information: search engines. Top search engines gauge your website’s validity and the strength of your pages based on the content of your website pages. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.

A business blog is full of content that should be shared via social media sites, emails to your customers, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

Successful business blogs contain relatable and regular content. What does regular mean? Regular means that you post content once, twice, or three times a week, or twice a month—whatever you can manage—without gaps in content posting. Unfortunately, many business blog writers start out with best of intentions and lose steam. If you don’t have time for a business blog, contact a content marketing company that can keep your blog updated with content specific to your business. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Use this list of do’s and don’ts for outsourcing, and remember that you still need to allocate time to give input to get maximum content marketing results.

Social Media Marketing

social media marketingSocial media marketing is using a social media network (or networks) as a way to communicate with your customers and potential customers, and for them to communicate with you through posts, comments, and reviews. This is a two-way street! While you may be on social media networks for sales conversions, this is your chance to listen to what your customers want and give them relevant resources to help solve their problems (and no the answer to their life problems is not always your product or service!). Social media marketing also gives your business other benefits:

  • Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service (with an emphasis on prompt!). Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  • Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, embrace the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  • Chance to sell your products, and your company. We’ve seen businesses where the customers messaged to set up appointments. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product.

When choosing what social media network to join, determine where your audience is online. For example, if your audience is predominantly female, choose a social media network with a strong female following. Also factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for the network or networks. Many a business has signed up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the works because they want to be everywhere and everything, without a thought about the amount of time it takes to properly maintain each social media network. Each network has its own audience and way of doing things. If you’re not playing by the “rules” on each social media network, you’re not going to get the results you signed up for. A solid social media presence has:

  • Regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network)
  • Relevant resources for your customers
  • A customer-centric presence, not a business-centric approach
  • Prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service)

If you want to cash in on the benefits and opportunities that come with social media but don’t have the time, outsource your business social media page or profile to experts that can manage your social media network(s). Remember, don’t measure your success on the number of followers, but on the number of engaged followers.

Email Marketing

digital marketingStatistics have repeatedly shown that using emails to communicate with your customers and potential customers gets results. A staggering 66% of online users made a purchase as a result of email marketing. To get started in email marketing, you need emails of interested customers. Note the catch: interested customers, so don’t start buying random email lists. Even worse, if you “steal” emails, such as sending numerous emails to an email account without proper consent; you run the risk of getting your server blacklisted after the email user flags your emails as junk. So what’s the best way to create a valuable list of interested customers?

  • Give them an incentive. Offer your customers a one-time discount if they sign up for your email list.
  • Create a graphic or pop up on your website or blog. Chances are, if the user is interested in your website or blog articles, they want to know to more. This is your chance to deliver with emails that contain valuable information and discounts.
  • Include your ask in your pitch at tradeshows and events. Train every salesman or staff member to incorporate a request for a prospect’s email address in their sales pitch. Take the opportunity to keep the interest of potential customers with valuable information (not just sales pitches) and relevant discounts.
  • Give your customers the option during or after their purchase. Add an opt-in option for customers making on-line purchases. Put a card in your shipments asking customers to keep in touch.
  • Ask your customers for their email addresses on social media. Create a social media contest, and include a request for their email in the contest. Just make sure you are honest about what you are asking; you don’t want to lose your customers’ trust.

Once you’ve got a reliable email list, make sure you don’t just blast out emails with sales offers. Take the same approach you take to your social media marketing and content marketing efforts; be sure to include all the significant parts of a successful email:

  • Create great subject line. All great email headlines speak to your audience. Whether that is through an attention-grabbing headline (e.g. 5 things you’re doing wrong) or a title that speaks to their pain point or entertains them. Don’t produce a headline to get their attention, or uses all the key words that your audience is looking for, and doesn’t deliver any value. Remember, the best way to sell to a customer is to build their trust. Misleading them has the opposite effect.
  • Use different media and visuals. Don’t use a one-size-fits-all mentality when planning and selecting visuals for your digital marketing efforts. Create videos and graphics for every different preference, or purchase them.
  • Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA). The definition of a CTA is not always about a purchase. A call-to-action can be a graphic, asking your audience to contact you with questions (remember you want to build trust) or inviting their input (about a product, a funny picture, anything).
  • Keep testing. Test out what email captures your audience’s attention, keeps it, and drives them to purchase.

Integration

Remember that all these digital marketing tools are most effective as part of a digital marketing tool box. Always make sure that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing; create a schedule to make sure that you are taking full advantage of your digital marketing efforts. If you don’t have time, find an effective marketing company that can; outsourcing can be the solution that guarantees that your business is getting the most out of your digital marketing tools.

Business Blog Ideas to Combat Your Writer’s Block

ideas for blogger's with writer's blockIt’s the bane of any business blogger’s existence: writer’s block. What do I write about today? What’s relevant to my audience? What else is there to write about?

Hopefully, your writer’s block is more than thwarting a whim; it’s an interruption to your content marketing plan, because a strategic content marketing plan is more effective than writing about everything and anything that comes to mind. We’ll give you a prime example: when we took over content marketing efforts, we inherited a company’s business blog. After a quick scroll through the business’ blog, we found that we had to completely start from scratch because the posts were about musings from going on a walk with the writer’s dog and other non-relevant content. Very few of the posts were about the company’s business or their audience’s interests—and who’s going to be driven to a website about if they don’t have any relevant and valuable content that can help them?

A strategic marketing plan also has another benefit; creating a content marketing plan leads to consistent content, the second ingredient in a successful marketing campaign. Unfortunately, creating consistent content also leads to writer’s block, leaving you searching for writing ideas. So how do you come up with new ideas for content?

Talk to your salesperson & business owner

A business blog is not—should not—be a one-person job. That’s not to mean that one person can’t do all the writing to produce content for the blog, but a GOOD business blog requires a village. Talk to your business owner or a salesperson for ideas. You don’t have to take up hours of their time, just have a simple conversation with them. At KD Interactive, we always get the input of a contact from the business, though many of them don’t think they have “blog ideas.” Once we start asking questions, we find they know more than they think. Ask your salesperson, “what are your customers asking about?” “What are the latest industry trends that appeal to your customers?” “What are common problems that your customers encounter?”

Research your industry

What are latest trends and new products? Are there any new solutions that you can make your customers aware of? Remember, one of your top business blog goals is to give value to your audience. Write a blog post that delivers with new solutions or products that resolve their problems, or new trends that they can utilize in their life.

Look at the calendar

What kind of services are your customers looking for this time of year? Are there any national holidays you get inspiration from? How is the calendar affecting your audience’s lives? Make sure you stay ahead of the game (another reason to create a content calendar) so you’re not late to the party. You don’t want your blog post to look like an afterthought.

Create a list

Most likely, you found this post because you’re looking for ideas—you’re not the only one. Give your audience what you want; a list filled with ideas, tips, or topics relevant to them.

Still don’t have any ideas? Or don’t have time to come up with ideas and create consistent, relevant content? If you find that you don’t have the content marketing expertise, time to keep posting content on your blog or that you’re losing steam in your content marketing efforts, outsource your blog to a company experienced in content marketing. Even though you are putting your blog content in an expert’s hands, don’t walk away. Your input is a valuable part of successful content marketing, so use these do’s and don’ts for working with a marketing company. (And be wary of marketing companies that don’t ask for your input).

Remember, content marketing is not an “overnight success” marketing tactic. A quality business blog is a marathon effort, built on relevant and regular content for your audience. If you stay in the marathon (even amidst the writer’s block), you and your customers can reap the rewards of a good, relevant business blog.

Why your Digital Marketing Needs to Mirror My Buying Experience

customer experience

Here’s what you should learn from my decision to replace this ugly door.

Like most marketers, we’re always trying to learn and build upon our training and experience to guide our clients. To give them the best advice, content and strategic knowledge so they can give their customers the very best customer experience. And sometimes, that experience we use happens outside of work hours—like my recent experience in a hardware store on a Saturday afternoon.

Why should you care about my experience? Not because I was shopping for the most fascinating product. I was shopping for a door—a regular, plain entry door. And my experience isn’t going to set off a viral backlash against the company, because it wasn’t negative. In fact, my in-person buying experience was perfect—so perfect that it reminded me of what we’re all striving to give our customers, what we’re all striving for when we talk about customer experience.

That’s why you should care. Because my experience is what you need to give your customers. Not want to give, but need to give. Studies have repeatedly shown that customers are willing to spend more for a product from a company that provides great customer experience—and they are likely to come back to you again in the future.

That’s what I received. I had an errand to run in a nearby town. As long as I was there, I decided to drop in a local hardware store because I needed a door. My door had been damaged a few weeks ago but was still functional, so I had been doing research online about kinds of door materials, what I needed to purchase a door (measuring, knowing which way it swung, etc.), and general pricing.

I went into the store and found the door display. I started wandering around, browsing through the options and happy to be doing some pressure-free research (remember I wasn’t there to buy, just to look). Eventually, a salesman—we’ll call him “Bob”—came over and asked if I needed any help. He was friendly, and he answered all my questions with knowledgeable answers. I knew from my previous research that he knew his stuff. While I was there, I noticed that many of the doors were on sale, and he told me everything about the sale—including that that day was the last day of the sale. When we were done, I thanked him for his help and let him know that I was just looking and would be back with my husband the next day. Honestly, I did not intend to come back. I just wanted to call my husband and give him the information I had learned.

Fast forward 30 minutes later, and I was back in the store. I had talked to my husband, and he gave me the green light to buy. I came armed with more questions about storm doors because we wanted to replace both doors at once. The same salesman, “Bob” saw me looking at storm doors. He nicely answered all my questions, made several suggestions, and was incredibly patient as I made my decision. Incredibly patient. When the transaction was done, he wrote up the sale for me.

So what should you take away and apply to your content marketing (and digital marketing efforts) from my perfectly normal buying experience?

Your customers will come to you before they buy—several times, in fact. Treat every contact like they are a potential customer. It’s your job, via content marketing and social media, to be “Bob.” Be relevant and be there (“there” is the social media platform where your customers are), so you are available when it comes time for the customer to buy your product. Answer their questions with your content and your customer service replies on social media. Be prompt, especially when replying on social media, where studies have repeatedly shown that customers expect a response within a few hours. Be human and very patient. Make each customer feel like they are your number one concern, especially when you can’t face-to-face interact.

Create the right opportunity for a customer conversion. The store had a sale and a knowledgeable salesman: the perfect ingredients for a customer conversion. “Bob” answered my questions and didn’t pressure me to buy (to be honest I think he was shocked when I came back). You need to do the same thing online; create a blog with the information they need, and the opportunities to convert to a sale. This can be done through convenient links, great call-to-actions, visuals and lots of good, diverse content. You want to make your customer comfortable and build their trust so they buy from you once—and are willing to come back.

You don’t have to sell products online to create this same pleasant buying experience for your customers, but you need to strive for perfect. We pointed out how to use digital marketing even if you don’t (or can’t) offer e-commerce in a recent blog post, and this experience exemplifies why. If you “wow” a potential customer online, if you make them comfortable with your knowledge and interactions, if you speak to their pain points, they will reach out to you. We’ve seen it happen for our clients. If you use your digital marketing tools to create a great user experience online, they’ll send you a message on social media requesting an appointment. They’ll walk into your business ready to buy. So the next time you don’t feel like you have the energy to write another blog post or another minute for social media, know it’s important for your customers and potential customers. And if you don’t have the time or knowledge to devote to creating and building a great customer experience, contact a company that can. Your customers will thank you if you do—just like I’m going to do when I send an email tonight to the hardware store about how great “Bob” was to work with.

How to Increase Local Sales with Digital Marketing

using digital marketing to close local salesJust because your company doesn’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, doesn’t mean that you don’t need digital marketing. Statistics don’t lie: 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore), and a startling 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011). So how do you use digital marketing to your business’ advantage?

  1. Get your primary audience’s attention. There are a number of ways to accomplish the goal, but the first step in the process is to follow the first rule of marketing: know your audience. Who do you sell to? Who is looking for your product? Once you have that key piece of information, invest your marketing budget and efforts into digital marketing tools that work (and marketing experts recommend): search engine optimization, content marketing and social media marketing. Contact a company that specializes in local search engine optimization (SEO) and can use their technology to get you in the top search engine rankings on Google, Yahoo and Bing in surrounding areas. They can create information that your audience wants and use their knowledge of conversion rates to turn them into customers. In addition, they can find social media platforms where your audience is at and create content for your website that they want to click on. The result: a multi-channel digital marketing strategy designed to get your audience’s attention, build trust and convert them to customers (and is far more affordable than you would think!).
  2. Create great headlines. All great website and content marketing headlines have a commonality: they speak to your audience. Whether that is through an attention-grabbing headline (e.g. 5 things you’re doing wrong) or a title that speaks to their pain point or entertains them. Common examples of good headlines include:
    • Questions (How can I fix this?)
    • List (5 Ways to fix your problem)
    • Shocking (5 Horrible Mistakes You’re Making Fixing Your Problem)
    • What’s not a good headline? A title that tricks the user and doesn’t deliver. Don’t produce a headline to get their attention, or uses all the key words that your audience is looking for, and doesn’t deliver any value. Remember, the best way to sell to a customer is to build their trust. Misleading them has the opposite effect.
  1. Use different media and visuals. Don’t use a one-size-fits-all mentality when planning and selecting visuals for your digital marketing efforts. Create videos and graphics for every different preference, or purchase them. Use them on your social media channels, on your website and in your content marketing channels for maximum impact.
  2. Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA). The definition of a CTA is not always about a purchase. A call-to-action can be a graphic, asking your audience to contact you with questions (remember you want to build trust) or inviting their input (about a product, a funny picture, anything). Whether writing a draft for new page on your website or writing a post for your blog, don’t forget to include a CTA.
  3. Keep testing. A website is not a static animal to be published and left for 5-10 years. Rather, evolve your website, social media, content marketing and digital sales tactics to fit your customers’ needs (remember they come first) and improve their buying experience. That’s what so great about online marketing: it changes and morphs with the world (think about the impact of mobile devices on digital marketing). Your job, as a B2C or B2B company—remember it’s all about marketing to humans!—is to grow with it.

If you don’t have the time, or resources internally, to take on these digital marketing channels, outsource. We’ve said it before: there’s not shame or blame in outsourcing. Rather, it allows you to focus your efforts on what you’re good at (like running your company) and puts your digital marketing efforts into the experts’ hands. Experts who have the expertise and knowledge of evolving digital marketing trends and can convert them into local sales. It’s a partnership with great results, and a great return on your investment.

5 More Online Marketing Mistakes You’re Making (Part 3)

digital marketingWhat’s worse than trying and failing? Not trying at all. We’re continually amazed at business owners and managers who view online marketing as an unknown abyss never to be crossed or even attempted. Or worse, they take a stab at these digital marketing tools, give up and make a snap judgment that “it’s just not worth it.” We understand the hesitation. To be sure, digital marketing is a marathon that takes time and effort—far more than it appears on the surface. You just write a few sentences, add them to your blog and post them to Facebook and Twitter right? Or you take a few photos and upload them on Instagram and Pinterest?

If you’re reading this, chances are you know that’s not true, and how easy it is to slip into common online marketing mistakes. We’ve written about some of these mistakes in two separate past blog posts and how you can learn from them (Part I & Part II)—mistakes that everyone makes, from the smallest shops to the largest brands:

  1. Not focusing on your local customers online. The world-wide web is a big, big world. It’s easy to feel lost among all the sites, and for your customers to feel that way as well. Who can they turn to when they have a problem? How can they find a local business they can trust? That’s where search engine optimization can give you that local connection, even among the billions of websites online. Search engine optimization is an affordable digital marketing technology that can propel your website to the top of local search engine results, if you contact a digital manufacturing firm with proven results. What does that mean? It means when local customers search for your services and products on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, they find your website, and all your great content, at the top of the listings.
  2. Abandoning your social media sites. Social media has many advantages: a free connection to your customers (and potential customers), unsolicited testimonials, ability to provide excellent customer service, and a chance to sell your business and products. That’s why it’s a head scratcher when a business jumps on social media and then abandons ship. Or worse, when someone from the business starts a social media profile, adds a few posts on an inconsistent basis and then abandons it. If you decide on a social media site that fits your business, go ‘all in’—either allocate time to post regular and relevant posts, or hire a firm that can.
  3. Using the ‘if we build it, they will come’ philosophy. Don’t just set up a Facebook or Pinterest page without spreading the word about your social media presence. Use these tips to make sure the world knows your company is social (and responsive to their feedback!), and that you’re ready to start giving out information and insider tips on your new page or profile.
  4. Not following through on content marketing. Don’t let down your potential customers by giving them this content marketing trap: finding an article with a title that makes them think they’ve found the latest and greatest information they’re looking for, only to find that the article is full of outdated information and that the blog hasn’t been touched for years. It doesn’t reflect well on your company or build trust with your potential customers. If you find you can’t keep up with posting content on a regular basis, contact experts that can.
  5. Not integrating your marketing efforts. Don’t treat your print, media, content marketing and social media marketing like it’s a stand-alone feature. One hand should know what the other is doing for optimal marketing results. Create a promotion plan, and use a consistent voice. Your customers associate everything they see and hear about your company with your brand; it’s up to you to make sure all the dots connect. If you don’t have time to connect the dots, outsource. There’s no shame or blame in putting your marketing efforts in the expert’s hands. At the end of the day, you’ll find that working with an online marketing firm can make the marathon easier—and help you avoid all those common online marketing mistakes.