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Do You Really Need a Business Blog

Do You Really Need a Business Blog?

Do You Really Need a Business Blog

Any business can create a blog, and as you know, many, many of them do. But when the time comes to plan your own, you may be wondering whether you really need one at all. After all, you probably have a website, and you should be making your mark in social media. So how do you decide if you say “Hello World!” with a blog or just stick to your already traveled Internet terrain? Here are some questions to ask yourself when making this important decision.

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Content Marketing: 5 Goals for Your Business

Content Marketing: 5 Goals for Your Business

Content Marketing: 5 Goals for Your Business

When using content marketing for your business, you probably have one, very clear main goal in mind: making more sales. However, there are a bunch of other goals that help you achieve this one. Having a firm idea of what they are will help you gain perspective and make sure your content marketing efforts are moving in the right direction.

  1. Traffic: One of your main goals with content marketing should be an increase in traffic. You’ll need to get more people interested in your products or services if you want to sell more of them. Create content that helps you get as much traffic as possible.
  2. Engagement: Tons of traffic means little if the people who visit your page aren’t really interested in what you have to say. You want to create content that stimulates long, quality interaction. To do this, you’ll need to create content that is not only relevant to the audience you want to engage but also likely to capture and hold its attention. Keep in mind that a good design and layout can help you increase engagement as well. If your layout is crappy, many visitors won’ stick around long enough to read your content.
  3. Social Media Success:  Social media can help you get the word about your business out there, helping not only to improve visibility and increase traffic but also to boost your reputation. You want to create content that gets more followers, shares, comments, retweets, and likes.
  4. Backlinks: Many people, especially those just getting a feel for content marketing, underestimate the importance of backlinks. Others may simply theorize that they aren’t as important as they were in the past. Both of these positions are mistakes. Backlinks are important for two major reasons. First, they help you increase traffic. Second, they help boost your search engine authority, which ensures that more people see your pages in their search results. Of course, backlinks from just any site won’t do. You only want links from reputable sites.
  5. Conversions: Ultimately, you want content that helps you convert your traffic. Keep in mind, however, that this doesn’t always mean sales conversions. Often, you are directing your visitors towards another action instead. For example, you may want visitors to sign up for your newsletter or online course. Well-crafted calls to action help.


Keep these goals in mind as you create content for your business. And be sure to track your results. Monitoring what works and what doesn’t can help you decide how to proceed going forward.

Content Marketing_ 5 Goals for Your Business (1)

 

Business Social Media: Farming vs. Fishing

Business Social Media: Farming vs. Fishing

Business Social Media: Farming vs. Fishing

As a social media consultant, I get asked this question all the time: Which social media platform should I use for my business. And my answer is always the same: It depends.

Of course, there are many variables to consider when determining your marketing strategy, and your use of social media platform(s) should be part of that strategy.  And your personal preferences, or available resources, must be part of the decision making process. If you hate yourself on video, YouTube may not be your first or best choice of social channels for your business.  If you don’t have a smartphone, Instagram won’t work for you.

But ultimately, for most businesses, I think there’s actually another question which will help you to answer the platforms question. It’s whether you want to own a farm or fish in a river.

Here’s how I see it:

Your own blog, website and email list are like your farm, and social media is like a river where anyone can go and fish.

Your Farm

When you own a farm, you get to choose everything: what to plant, when to harvest, whether to let it lay fallow.  You own it, and any time and effort you put into it is for your benefit alone.

When you create a blog on your own website (side note: your blog should never, ever be located at blogspot.com or wordpress.com – it should always be somewhere on your company website), you are farming your fields. You are adding value to your website in the form of search engine-friendly content, creating links back to your site when people link to your blog posts, and providing content to your customers and potential customers which may help them build their relationship with you.

The same goes for your email list (which you should start building today, if you don’t already have one), and your website in general. These are things you own. No one can take them away from you. If you later choose to stop farming (stop blogging, stop collecting, email names), that’s up to you.

The River

Social media is a fishing river, and you never know what’s going to happen to that stream. There may be vast amounts of fish one day (or year) and you could see huge benefits from it because you can get fish (customers) you may have never otherwise attracted to your farm (business/brand/cause).  But you’ll never own the river, and so you should never put all of your resources into fishing, to the detriment of your time farming.

Consider how quickly MySpace went away – the stream dried up, and all the money and time brands put into MySpace was lost, forever. The same could happen tomorrow to Facebook or Twitter. Sure, it’s not likely, but it could happen. Or brand pages could just fall out of favor with consumers. Or some other platform will be shinier and newer. The point is – none of these platforms are yours.

You Need Both for a Balanced Presence

Doing both farming and fishing (your own content/properties + social), however, gives you a balanced pantry as well as a balanced business…. and the combination of the two can be very powerful.

I always advocate that small companies and non-profits start their social efforts by creating and writing a blog. It’s rarely what they want to hear – they want to hear that Twitter will be a huge channel and all they have to do is open an account – but blogging is really the best place to start.  And once they have a blog, then they have original content to use in social channels, if they choose: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.  Unfortunately, if they have no interest in blogging, they just won’t do it, and so Facebook or YouTube or something else may be more appealing and more valuable for them. I get that. I just think it’s a short sighted view.

So in my mind, the question a business should ask isn’t whether to choose Facebook over Twitter, or if Instagram is important. The first question to ask yourself is whether you’ve built and tended your farm.

Image source: Flickr (State Records NSW)

 
Business Social Media_ Farming vs. Fishing

What's The Most Important Thing To Say About Your Business On Your Website?

What’s The Most Important Thing To Say About Your Business On Your Website?

What's The Most Important Thing To Say About Your Business On Your Website?

Ok, that was a bit of a trick question. The most important thing that helps you market your business is what other people say about you.

 

 

With the advent of sites like Yelp and the wealth of ratings and reviews on Amazon and TripAdvisor, people have come to rely on recommendations from others more than ever. I know that if I’m shopping in a store and trying to decide whether to buy an appliance or a toy, I feel a bit lost unless I can look up what other people have said about it.

Testimonials mean a lot to potential customers. They lend credibility to your product or service. Here are four ways to generate testimonials:

1. Ask satisfied customers for a testimonial.

When you finish a job or make a sale, you can either send an email or ask at that moment for a testimonial. Don’t assume that giving a testimonial is at the top of peoples’ minds. Even satisfied customers don’t often think of doing this.

2. If a customer is genuinely excited and has just told you so, ask if you may quote her.

Capture the moment, and feed it back to her to be sure you got it right. That way, you don’t have to ask the customer to do any work down the road.

3. If a customer seemed genuinely willing to provide a testimonial, don’t hesitate to offer a gentle reminder in a couple of weeks.

While they are doing you a favor, you’re also going to give them some exposure – as smart customers and friends of the firm. Everyone likes to be recognized.

4. Survey your customers and ask.

To generate additional testimonials, send a survey to past customers asking about your service or product and ask an open ended question at the end with a prompt that says something like this: “If there is any way we can improve our service or anything particular you appreciated about your experience with us, we would very much like to hear about it.” Any response worth quoting can become a testimonial, with permission.

Getting testimonials on your website will help visitors to your site move closer to being able to make a decision to buying from you, and customers who trust your testimonials will be more likely to buy.  Fill a sidebar or page of your site with testimonials in all forms. You can use screen shots from Twitter, videos, and quotes for highly impactful social proof that gives people the confidence to trust your business and buy from you far more than anything that you can say about yourself.

Are you currently using testimonials on your website? Please share your page(s) with us, we’d love to see.