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How to Write a Blog Post and Use Social Media to Improve SEO

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Jan, 23, 2015 @ 16:01 PM

share blog posts on social media to improve SEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've written a lot of blog posts on the importance of blogging and sharing information of value:

 

Why blog, create valuable content and build networks on social media?

Share Information of Value to Accelerate Sales

10 Reasons Every B2B Firm Needs a Blog

 

However, I've never written a blog post on how to write a blog post and I was recently asked several questions about how to optimize a blog post, and other content, for SEO.

 

There are five steps:

  1. Provide unique information of value.

  2. Format your blog, or other content, properly.

  3. Optimize your blog, or content, for search engines.

  4. Use calls-to-action.

  5. Promote your blog using social media.

1. Provide Information of Value

Don't sell, inform. Write about your industry, or something you are passionate about, not yourself.

Identify the persona for whom you are writing your blog.

Answer questions your buyers and prospects have asked. The more specific the question the better. Answer without selling. Answer to educate and build trust.

Focus on one topic per post. Don't cover too much. Don't take too much of the readers time. Today readers want "snackable" content. If it's too long, or a gray wall of type, it won't get read.

Think about the content you, or your firm, produce on a daily basis. All of that is information of value. If a restaurant is changing its menu daily, it's menu can become a blog post and then be reposted on other social media channels.

A retail store may want to feature products that are currently in demand or on sale.

Images, both photographs and videos, make great content. Lowes is doing a great job of producing "how to" videos for do-it-yourselfers and posting them to their website, their YouTube channel and their Facebook page.

Write consistently and frequently -- at least twice a week. The more frequently you share information of value, the more traffic you'll drive to your site.

 

2. Format Your Blog Properly

According to Copyblogger, eight out of 10 people will read your headline but only two out of 10 will read your content.

As such, spend half your time writing your headline and half your time writing the content.

The title should be less than 55 characters and include the keyword of the topic you are discussing.

Include plenty of white space and images. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than words. Make your post inviting and easy to read.

Don't let any paragraph be more than five lines long. This will help your read focus on the content, not the clutter.

 

3. Optimize your Blog Posts for Search Engines

Keep your readers in the front of your mind and the search engines in the back of your mind.

People will share your blog posts if they find the information your share with them sufficiently valuable.

Think about the long-term keywords you want to rank for. Pick one long-tail keyword to focus on.

Place the long-tail keyword in each of the following: title, URL, image alt-tags, body and meta-descriptions. This is what a search engine will scan to understand what you are writing about.

Include anchor text for your posts -- a word or phrase which links to other blog posts. By linking to trustworthy, reliable content you are building trust with the search engines.

Assign topics to each blog post (e.g., I write about customer experience, customer satisfaction and employee engagement).

 

4. Use Calls-To Actions

Consider different offers for each point in the buyers journey or the sales funnel.

I've found eBooks to be good top-of-the-funnel offers, webinars to be good middle-of-the-funnel offers and a free 30-minute consultation to be a good bottom-of-the-funnel offer.

Calls to action are critical. If you don't tell your reader what to do next, it's not likely they're going to engage with you. 

Invite readers to subscribe to your blog and engage in a discussion. Ultimately that's what social media is supposed to be -- a social discussion.

 

5. Promote Your Blog Through Social Media

Include social media links of all of your posts and make it easy for readers to share with their family, friends and colleagues.

Ideally you will share information of value that readers find so compelling they'll want to share it with everyone that's following them, some of whom will want to share on their social networks.

 

This is how content goes "viral."

 

What has worked for you when blogging?

 

How are you getting more readers and more engagement with those readers?

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: earn your customers trust, information of value, content marketing, social media, call to action

10 Ways Manufacturing Companies Benefit from Marketing Automation

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Oct, 16, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

marketing automation for manufacturing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past few years I've helped several manufacturing companies implement marketing automation solutions to improve their business and their marketing.

 

To date, 20% of larger companies (500+ employees) are using marketing automation, while firms with 20+ employees have a 4% adoption rate. 

 

Following are 10 benefits manufacturing companies can realize by using marketing automation:

 

  1. Save time. You can create marketing campaigns and posts for different products and target audiences ahead of time and schedule to run once the customer or prospect takes an action in the future.

    For example, if you're attending a tradeshow and having people visit your booth, you can have an automated message go out each evening when the show closes thanking them for coming by the booth and inviting them to reconnect if they need more information on a particular product.

  2. Ability to provide personalized, targeted relevant information to clients and prospects when and where they need it.

    If a channel partner needed a case study for an end-user customer, you are able to provide it instanteously.

  3. Marketing staffs are able to get more done in less time. One employee can execute complex and ongoing campaigns that can connect with many more customers and prospects than is possible to do manually.

    Marketing automation is very scalable and allows you to grow your business without the commensurate growth in your marketing department.

  4. Ensures consistent messaging across time and channels. You're able to ensure that all of your graphic standards are met as well as delivering consistent, relevant messages to the right target audience. Consistency builds trust. Inconsistency breeds confusion and distrust.

    This capability is particuarly important if the company is going through a brand identity change as one company I worked with was doing.

  5. You receive detailed reports on the performance of each campaign by channel so you know what's working and where improvements can be made.

  6. You are able to A/B test different elements of a campaign like who an email is coming from, the subject line, the offer, the layout, the call-to-action, the landing page and the images.

    One marketing automation platform even enables you do do A/B/C/D testing.

  7. A tremendous benefit for manufacturing firms with sales forces or channel partners is the ability to score leads.

    Marketing and sales must sit down and agree upon what constitutes a marketing qualified lead (MQLs) versus a sales qualified lead (SQLs) and how the MQL is best nurtured into an SQL.

    This must be constantly monitored so the scoring and nuturing process can be refined over time.

  8. You are able to learn more about your customers and profiles through progressive profiling.

    By integrating your CRM and your marketing automation software, you are able to prepopulate forms for website visitors. This lets visitors know you know them and keep track of their valuable information. It also enables you to ask more relevant questions so you can better qualify them over time.
     
  9. You build a repository of marketing elements, supported by data, so your marketing team is not "reinventing the wheel" every time a campaign is needed.

    You also know what has worked in the past when a new campaign is needed.

  10. According to Aberdeen, firms that use marketing automation improve lead conversion 107%, have a greater average deal size of 40%, have a 20% higher attainment of quota and 17% beter forecast accuracy.

 

Is your manufacturing firm using marketing automation to increase productivity and sales?

 

If not, let me know if I can help you identify the right marketing automation platform for your firm.

 

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

 

Tags: trust, consistent messaging, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, content, MQL, SQL, marketing automation, call to action

10 Ways Marketing Automation Benefits IT Companies

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Oct, 08, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

marketing automation in information technology

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've been using marketing automation since 2009 when I went through HubSpot's Inbound Marketing University and became convinced of the benefits of inbound, content, marketing in conjunction with outbound marketing.

 

Here are the 10 benefits I've found using marketing automation:

 

  1. Save time by creating campaigns and posts ahead of time and schedule them for a time, event and target persona in the future. This ensures the right message is being delivered to the right person at the right time.

  2. Provide personalized, targeted relevant information of value. If I know what you are looking for and am able to provide the answer to your question or a case study that addresses your situation, I'm simplifying your buying process and your life.

  3. Improve marketing staff efficiency. One employee can create complex and ongoing campaigns that can connect with many more customers of prospects than is possible to do manually.

  4. Improve marketing operations efficiency as you define and document processes, technology, best practices and measurements so that you are constantly refining and improving rather than "reinventing the wheel."

  5. Ensure consistent messaging across all channels (traditional, digital and social) with regards to content, time and branding. This is critical since consistent messaging builds trust, while inconsistent messaging breeds confusion and distrust among customers and prospects.

  6. Access detailed reports on the performance of each campaign across each channel so you know what's working and where improvements are needed.

  7. Field A/B tests on different elements of your marketing campaign including -- subject lines, from addresses, primary messages, images, offers and calls-to-action. One marketing automation platform even enables you to execute A/B/C/D tests.

  8. Score and nurture leads so you can differentiate between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). This enables you to continue a lead nurturing campaign with MQLs while the sales team pursues SQLs.

  9. Learn more about your customers and prospects via progressive profiling whereby you ask them to provide additional, relevant, information based on the information you have already collected in your CRM. This is also a great way to ask customers and prospects to verify the information in your CRM which atrophies at the rate of 33% per year.

  10. Improve business results per the Aberdeen Group: lead conversion up 107%, average deal size up 40%, team attainment of quota up 20% and forecast accuracy up 17%.
IT companies are the most aggressive users of marketing automation.
It's easy to see why with the benefits they are realizing.
Is you IT firm using marketing automation?
Not sure, which platform is right for you and your team? 
Give me a call and I'll help you identify the right platform as I've done for several other firms.
Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: consistent messaging, CRM, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, MQL, SQL, marketing automation, integrated marketing, call to action

10 Ways Professional Service Firms Benefit from Content Marketing

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Oct, 07, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

content marketing for professional services

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've had the opportunity to work on the client-side for, and on the agency-side with, a number of professional services firms including accountants, lawyers, consultants and financial advisers.

 

All of these firms, and the professionals that make up these firms, will reap multiple benefits from content marketing.

 

Here are 10:

 

  1. Build awareness of the firm and the professionals by sharing information of value, case studies and testimonials on a regular basis via blog posts on your website and in the social media channels where your clients and target prospect frequent.

  2. Provide a service, and build trust, by answering clients' and prospects' questions in an open, honest and transparent way. Make the buying journey easier by answering questions before they are asked or suggesting ways prospects should be evaluating a firm like yours.

  3. Gain trust by being an unbiased source of information in your area(s) of expertise. Be the first person, or firm, someone thinks of when they think of the services you provide.

  4. Become recognized as the thought-leader in the industry by addressing and raising relevant topics of interest and sharing your unique point-of-view on the issue.

  5. Drive traffic to your website via inbound marketing by having the appropriate calls-to-action on the information of value you are sharing.

  6. Generate leads for your firm and your professionals by providing more detailed information of value on your website or landing pages.

  7. Start a relationship and dialog with a potential client who has a need for the services which you offer when they respond to information you have shared.

  8. Nurture marketing qualified leads, with information of value before pursuing them as sales qualified leads. This will make the sales process much more productive for everyone.

  9. Improve grassroots SEO by generating more keyword optimized content on your website. You will be crawled more frequently by the search engines since your website is constantly growing and you'll be found more often since your site will have more relevant keywords.

  10. Drive sales. More visits = more leads. More leads = more sales.

 

A professional services firm has a lot of information of value to share with prospective customers -- from the solutions you have provided previous customers to the answers to questions that have been asked by your current prospects and customers.

 

The key is collecting, documenting and sharing the information of value.

 

If you need any help, please let me know and I'll be happy to put together a content marketing plan that will help you and your firm reap the benefits fo your knowledge.

 

Want to Accelerate Sales? Download the Free e-book

Tags: dialogue, customers for life, trust, information of value, content, call to action

Use Marketing Automation to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Mar, 05, 2014 @ 10:03 AM

use marketing automation to accelerate sales

 

 

 

 

Thanks to The EXPERTS Bench for hosting a  webinar (#30wte) with Adrian Chang of Eloqua (@adrianchang), Kelly Jo Horton of Marketo (@kellyjohorton) and Tony Tissot of etrigue (@tonytisson).

 

Tony started the discussion by answering the question, "What do we know now that we didn't know three years ago?"

  1. It's important to get started, that's the only way you'll learn. Don't wait to collect data. As someone who has been using analytics to curate insights, I know it's important to have a repository of data so you can analyze trends over time.

  2. Track the activity of everyone visiting your site. Learn what's working, what isn't and fix it.

  3. Build a digital biography of your visitors: personas, digital journey, social media activity, tradeshow attendance. The more you know, the better able you are to develop relevant and timely communications.

 

Adrian added:

  1. The amount of technology we have to deal with and integrate.

  2. The amount of data we have to collect and assimilate.

  3. All the social media channels where you and your customers can live and interact.

Kelly Jo strongly believes there's no excuse for "batch and blast" emails given how much we have the opportunity to know about our prospects and customers.

 

If you and your firm are not sending targeted, customized email you're being lazy and telling your customers you don't care about them or their individual needs and wants.

 

The key elements of a marketing automation team:

  1. Analytics

  2. Email creative and design

  3. Marketing automation administration

  4. Content manager

  5. Landing page creative and design

  6. Forms creative and design

  7. IT support

  8. Content translation/localization

The culture of the team should be to constantly monitor and course correct based on the real-time data you are collecting from all of your efforts.

 

Everyone thougth the operations/producer role was important to maintain harmony between the people, the processes and the project management. The producer is a visionary that's been in the trenches who will ensure everything is integrated and works together.

 

Everyone on the team needs to know the customer and specialize around them. This is especially true in regulated industries. 

 

According to the participants, there's tremendous demand for people who understand:

  1. The business logic

  2. The buying cycle

  3. The marketing automation tool being used

I will be sending my resume to each of the participants.

 

You can outsource anything to third parties, except personas. 

 

Best practices were recommended by each of the participants as follows:

 

Adrian Chang:

  1. Alignment

  2. Collaboration

  3. Action

Tony Tissot:

  1. Get started

  2. Workout service level agreements with sales

  3. Follow-through on everything

Kelly Jo Horton:

  1. Marketing and sales need to agree on what's a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL)

  2. Have a team of excellence

  3. Don't batch and blast -- be genuine, timely and relevant

 

If you help with marketing automation, especially if you need a producer, let me know.

 

Click Here for an Evaluation of Your Website

 

Tags: be reliable, be responsive, be real, accelerate sales, alignment, consistent messaging, be relevant, be real or be gone, call to action

A Clear Call To Action Will Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Sep, 06, 2013 @ 06:09 AM

Call to action accelerates sales

 

What do you want your customer or prospect to do?

I recently attended a presentation by an advocacy group. At the conclusion of the presentation, they had someone handing out a flyer asking us to go the their website to tell our story.

I went to the website to tell my story and didn't see where they wanted me to do so.  

I sent an email to the group telling them I appreciated their presentation and was looking forward to telling my story but was unclear where to do so.

Two days later, still not response.

Tell your customers and prospects what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do so.

Do you want your customers to tell you how likely they are to recommend them to ther friends and family?  Give them a Net Promoter Score survey to complete, ask them right there or send them an email with the survey.

I'm in the process of doing this for a grocery store chain and their score, after nine interviews, is 100%.  Granted this is a small sample size; however, the industry leader is 62% and the national average is 37%.

Do you want your customers to say something good about you on social media? If they're not familiar with how to do this, help them do so right there in the office or store. If they are familar with how to do so, find out what social media channels they are most active with so you can converse with them on those channels.

Do you want a prospect to download an ebook or white paper? Put the link right there in front of them and don't ask for any more qualifying information than you need to.

Do you want to know what customer expectations are?  Ask them.  Ask what you are doing well and what you could be doing better.  Be sure to say "thank you" for the customer taking the time to give you this invaluable information.

Do you want to map the customer buying process?  Sit down with a few customers, one-on-one, and ask them to take you through their buying process while you map it.

Do you want a customer to refer you to someone?  Tell them you are trying to build your business based on referrals and you would like them to introduce you to someone that they believe you can help the same way you have helped them.

Be clear about the next step you want a prospect or customer to take and make it easy for them to do so.  If you don't, someone else will.

Work to build a mutually-beneficial relationship with your customer and they will want to help you be successful.

Do you have clear calls-to-action for your customers?

Click Here to Download the Free e-book

Tags: dialogue, emotional connection to the brand, customer experience, earn your customers trust, honest communication, referrals, genuine interest, face to face communications, call to action