10 Tips for Creating an Engaging Business Blog

Business blogging is a powerful tool which when used correctly, can impact your marketing significantly. Here are 10 recommendations on creating a successful business blog:

  1. Set Goals
    Have complete knowledge about your content marketing, social media and blogging goals. Make sure the goals are specific, measurable and achievable.
  2. Define Your Target Audience
    Defining your target audience personas will help you create valuable content based on their content interests. Be consistent and appeal to their pain points.
  3. Plan with a Content Calendar
    Great blog posts don’t spring up out of the blue without proper planning. An established content calendar helps ensure regular, streamlined content flow through the year.
  4. Create a Content Marketing Plan
    Increase your visibility by creating content. If your content is good, increased visibility will translate into views and leads. Promote your blog through cross promotion initiatives on social media, your website and online paid advertising. Also incorporate social sharing buttons on your blog pages for increased distribution and engagement.
  5. Assign Adequate Resources
    A successful blog needs resources: to generate quality content, for creative work (images, design, formatting etc.), to work on the editing and marketing your content.
  6. Work on Content Optimization
    Your blog is a major contributor to your search rankings. Optimize your content by using relevant non-brand keywords. Integrate your blog’s URL into your company site URL which helps in branding and further search optimization. Also, make it easy for people to access your blog from your website and vice versa. Lastly, structuring your content into short paragraphs will help visitors read your content.
  7. Brand Your Blog
    Ensure your blog is consistent with your brand identity, including brand colors, logo, font etc.
  8. Connect Your Blog to Relevant Product/Service Pages
    Make it easy for blog readers to find your products linking your blog pages to the right products/services with a persuasive call-to-action and hyperlink.
  9. Include visuals
    Balance the presence of text on your blog with adequate visuals including photos, video and presentations.
  10. Measure Performance
    Track your blog’s effectiveness by measuring important performance metrics including the amount of traffic, leads and sales generated. Also measure the extent to which your blog is helping you cut costs in search and customer service.
Advertisements

15 Tips on How to Create a Successful eCommerce Website

Every website needs visitors and customers. Websites are specifically designed to serve customers. An effectively designed eCommerce website experiences high conversion rate and brings the desired profit for a business. However not all the web designers understand how to make the eCommerce websites conversion-friendly. Below are 15 tips to help you build a successful eCommerce website.

  1. Identify your prospects 
  2. Have simple navigation 
  3. Use high resolution product images (or stock photos)
  4. Include valuable product details
  5. Employ simple, clear and visually engaging call to actions (CTAs)
  6. Feature product and/or service videos 
  7. Have 24/7 visibility into your shopping cart 
  8. Offer free shipping as an option
  9. Avoid distractions 
  10. Leverage landing pages to feature valuable content, products and services  
  11. Offer special discounts or sales clearly
  12. Display your contact information easily and visibly
  13. Consider multiple transaction options
  14. Feature an effective and useful Site Search: Advanced
  15. Keep the site simple, engaging and focused on providing value 

Building an eCommerce website could be a challenging task, but the tips given above offer great help even to a newbie web designer. Try to improve the usability and shop-ability of eCommerce website that you are designing. Keep in mind that building a website is a never-ending process. You’ll need to keep updating your website on a continually ongoing basis.

7 Tips to Set-Up and Optimize You Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaign

Looking for ways to make your advertising budget work? Think about running a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign. These campaigns will show up in search engine search results when your potential customers search for keywords associated with your business.

You only pay for clicks on your ad and you can easily track how well your campaign is doing in attracting new customers to your company’s website. Then you can adjust your campaign to maximize your return on investment (ROI). Here are 7 tips to set up and optimize your PPC campaign.

1. Choose Your Keywords

Create a list of 20-50 keywords that relate to your company. From this list, use these keywords in your static (webpage pages that don’t change) and dynamic (e.g. blogs, videos, etc.) content so you will rank higher when prospective customers search for those terms. You do have to remember that you’re competing against other companies in your industry for these keywords so avoid generic terms and invest in terms and phrases that will differentiate yourself. You can use free keyword tools from Google to help with this as well.

2. Set Your Monthly Budget

Decide on the maximum amount you will pay each month for click-throughs to your website. Once that amount is reached, your ad will stop appearing. For example, if you pay $0.50 per word and select a budget of $500, your ad will run for 1,000 click-throughs.

3. Place A Bid

When you bid through an auction on keywords, remember that pricing is driven by supply and demand. Popular keywords cost more and that’s why you need to focus on what differentiates you from your competitors when selecting your words.

4. Align Your Landing Page With Your PPC Ads

To increase your quality score (the score Google gives your ads) and to keep the user experience consistent. Your goal is to turn website visitors into customers, so make sure your site is aligned with your PPC ad creative. The landing page should have the same offer as your ad and be clear, compelling and differentiated from your competitors.

5. Target Your Audience 

You can target your ads to potential customers in specific geographic locations. This will help you geo-target your ads around your service locations and customize your creative. Local campaigns perform best.

6. Analyze Your Results 

Major search engines provide analytics and reports that tell you how well your ads are working and how you could improve your campaign(s). Monitor how many clicks you have earned as well as data about your visitors, including their geographic location. Above all, keep a close eye on your conversion rate. A conversion is a click-through that results in an action such as a sale or a request for information. Tracking your conversion rate allows you to determine your return on investment (ROI).

7. Learn & Adjust 

As you track your results, try using different keyword combinations, starting new campaigns, changing creative, adjusting ad copy or targeting different locations, to see what works best.

Don’t Be a Troll (On or Offline)

Keep it classy and don’t be a troll. Here is a simple definition to help:

A troll is someone who posts a deliberately provocative message (normally to media) with the intention of causing disruption and generally a negative impact.

The Newsroom put it better – watch below.

10 Mistakes of Social Media Marketing

Lack of planning, overextending yourself and failing to engage your audience can effect your digital marketing and social media efforts. Social media has been around for a few years, but in that time marketers and researchers have made some pretty interesting findings.

Before, sites such as MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook merely connected you with friends online. Now, businesses have taken advantage of social networks, integrating social media into their strategies. This approach has yielded impressive results, but along with those successes have come growing pains of how to best use social media for business and marketing. Here are 10 mistakes of social media marketing.

1. Not Having A Plan

Any business looking into social media must establish a plan. Determine the goals and objectives for yourself and for each site. Are you trying to get 10% more followers each month? How many people would you like to interact with each week? Having a plan is a must.

2. Not Being Active

Activity matters, size doesn’t. It’s better to have an intimate group of engaged followers who continually interact with you than having thousands of passive followers who don’t. More followers and more traffic do not equal more money; you need the right people to engage with your business. 

3. Not Dedicating Time To All Of Your Pages

Each social media account should get a fair share of your attention. If you have time for a couple social media pages then use them to the fullest extend. Don’t start accounts on social media sites if you can’t maintain them.

4. Talking About Your Business In Every Post

Vary your posts so you’re not always talking about your business. Sometimes you have to think of your business as if it were a person. Don’t be like those people who constantly talk about how awesome they are. The more you force content, the less valuable and engaging your page will be.

5. Making Grammar & Spelling Mistakes

There is nothing engaging or attractive about spelling and grammar mistakes. Double-check and proofread your material before you send it out onto the Internet. Not only will errors make you look unprofessional, but they could also harm your credibility.

6. Not Analyzing & Tracking Analytics (Or Stats) 

Statistics are important in every marketing campaign. All social media networks offer analytics and reports to track page views, post reads, shares, activities, and more. Through these valuable data you can see which posts draw the best audience response so you can offer more value to them.

7. Having No Personality 

Social media gives your business the opportunity have a strong, unique, personable voice. Be open, insightful, witty – whatever your business brand should embody and deliver it.

8. Not Engaging Your Audience

Ask questions. Get feedback. Start discussions. Social media gives you something no other marketing channel offers: the opportunity to connect directly with your audience. Not only does this strengthen customer relationships, but it also brings more activity to your business.

9. Being Defensive Or Negative With Comments

The Internet includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately, not everyone online is going to be nice or agree with your business. Be calm, professional and handle negative comments graciously. Remember, everything said online is public.

10. Giving Up

Building your social media presence takes time. Don’t give up. Stay active. Be patient. Your efforts will pay off; just give them time.

4 Common Mistakes with Retargeting Ads

Retargeted ads offer so much potential. When a consumer goes to look at a brand or publisher’s content, they’re making the first step in developing a relationship with the company. Retargeted ads, when done right, should still create that brand recognition, but it should also go a step further and encourage brand loyalty, advocacy, and community.

Here are 4 common issues with retargeted ads:

1. Being Static

Repetition can either increase or decrease brand awareness and overall result.  You don’t want to be static and repetitive, but rather memorable and engaging. Every time you have someone look at the same image it’s going to lose it’s impact – especially when it’s already a fairly standard-looking image. Today especially, people are used to a constant flow of new information. Each interaction so be valuable.

2. Lacking Amazing Content

People don’t like ads (or content) that don’t provide value or are engaging. The burden for advertisers is to create content that is just as, if not more, interesting as the competing content on the page. This means the content should be unique, visual, and useful to your audience – even if its usefulness is just that it’s entertaining.

3. No Interaction 

Give your audience the chance to get creative in your ad experience, and make sure that that content is shareable on their social channels. Often companies will create these experiences as standalone pages, but there’s no reason why creative content can’t live within ad units around the web.

4. Not Being Human-Focused 

Every ad needs to have a human element – something your audience can see and relate to. Chances are, your audience isn’t going to relate to the model you place on every website. People can relate to their friends though. And they can relate to stories from people that could be their friends. This is where user-generated content comes in. Using retargeting to connect with the users most likely to engage with your company is great. However, you’re not going to promote any kind of longterm relationship or engagement with a boring (and ignorable) ad.

Here are 5 Ways to Create Shareworthy Content

Is your content engaging and shareworthy? Here are 5 quick tips to help you create shareworthy content:

  1. Start a conversation
    Write your content so it reads like a conversation. End the content by asking a question or encouraging feedback in your social channels and providing links for readers to do so.
  2. Share conversations from your social channels
    Include content from your social channels across all your social platforms and in your various online channels. Show tweets where your brand is mentioned, share blog/Facebook post comments and invite consumers to join into the conversation.
  3. Format Appropriately
    Content formatted in accordingly can lead to increased social sharing. Create lists of tips or best practices, announce industry events, provide solutions to common problems and highlight important industry news.
  4. Enable sharing of multimedia content
    Providing links to your photos, videos, podcasts or other interactive content is recommended. The goals of your multimedia content should be creating interest, providing valuable information and encouraging social sharing through the use of sharing links.
  5. Recap your most popular social content
    Include a list of your “best of” content from your social channels. Include your most popular blog posts, your most re-tweeted tweets or your most commented Facebook posts. Share this across all your online marketing channels.

10 Helpful Social Media Tools

Here are 10 helpful tools that should allow you to be more efficient online.

  1. WooBox.com – WooBox.com is a Facebook brand page app service that provides a host of free and paid apps.
  2. Piktochart.com – This is free and paid infographic and presentation tool for non-designers. 
  3. PicMonkey.comPikMonkey is a free online picture editor.
  4. LiveTweetApp.com. This is a live-tweet wall tool that you can use for events and conferences. 
  5. Tagboard.com Tagboard tracks hashtags across all major platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and Google+) so you can see where these hashtags are being used.
  6. Feedspot.com. Feedspot is a new RSS reader that allows you to pick and follow blogs based on your interests and then it makes suggestions based on your activity.
  7. Picozu.com. An online drawing and photo-retouching application. 
  8. Dominder.com If you own a lot of domain names this tool should help. It is a reminder service for your domain names, so you won’t miss any re-registration dates.
  9. Zeen.comAnother image-generation tool that enables you to create shareable, poster-style pieces of content. 
  10. Youtube.videodeck.net. If you are familiar with Tweetdeck, essentially this is the same tool, but for YouTube. This tool allows you to follow your favorite subscriptions and content with an online dashboard. 

9 Tips to Update Your Facebook Page

Image

If you haven’t reviewed or updated your Facebook Page recently, it’s time! Reviewing and updating your Facebook Page should be a scheduled re-occurrence. Here are 9 tips to help make sure your Facebook Page is optimized.

1.       Utilize Your Page Cover Image

This prime location provides you with an opportunity to get creative with your cover image. You can display your web address, add a call to action, or add something that draws attention to your tabs. Make sure to take advantage of this. A helpful hint is to not let the text on the cover photo exceed 20% of the cover image area.

2.       Assess Your Profile Image

Your profile image is the first thing a user sees when they look at your company page and your posts. The logo will help reinforce your brand, and be simple, clear and easily identifiable. It should not be a picture of the business owner and if possible a square-designed image should be used.  A helpful hint is that your profile image should be uploaded at a size of 180 x 180 pixels (Facebook downsizes it to 160 x 160 pixels).

3.       Review Your Tab Thumbnails

Your tab thumbnails appear below your cover image and lead to the apps on your Page. Optimize your tab thumbnails to capture your visitor’s attention. Do this by using simple fonts and use a shorten call to action.

4.       Use Facebook Apps

Facebook apps are a great ways to boost engagement on your Page. Apps offer your visitors incentives and an interactive platform, which can boost your engagement rates. They are mostly used for running contests and offering deals and should have a sign up list for eNewsletters. Helpful hint: be sure your contest and deal meets Facebook’s promotion guidelines.  

5.       Maximize Your About Short Description

Your Facebook Page utilizes a brief description of approximately 155 characters that displays below the cover image and the profile image at the top of your Page. Maximize your short description by providing a concise, informative statement, with your website URL.

6.       Complete The Entire About Section

Be sure to complete the Company Overview, Description, General Information and Mission sections. The About area(s) are indexed by search engines and should contain relevant keywords. Also, be sure to include your address in the General Information to optimize for local search.

7.       Categorize Your Business Correctly

If you’re a local business with a physical brick-and-mortar location, this is very important. You want customers to come and visit your place, so be sure to optimize your category and Check-in option.

8.       Check Your Notification Settings

It is recommended that companies and Page managers review your settings, managers and notification settings occasionally. Responding to comments, posts and messages I recommend keeping all notifications on. This is the key to good online customer service. If your community is engaging with you, be sure you respond to them!

9.       Activate Replies to Comments

This is a helpful hint as it’s a new Facebook feature (released in March 2013). When this feature is enabled, it allows Pages to offer their community the ability to reply to a specific comment in a thread resulting in better interaction around a comment.

10 Reasons Your Company Needs an Online & Social Media Strategy

1. Your competitors have a website and social media program 

If this doesn’t get you motivated I don’t know what will. Either way who doesn’t love some good ole’ fashion business competition.

2. Make your website the stronghold of your entire online marketing strategy

If you don’t think your website is ready to compete, update it now. What is the first thing people search for online? Your website.

3. Your business is open 24/7
Even though your open light may not be open 24/7, your website and online campaigns are – make it count.

4. Think of it as an online brochure
Updating content online is cheaper, quicker and easier than with print material. It also provides you with the ability to provide more comprehensive information and will save your on expensive printing and distribution costs.

5. Extend your reach to new global markets
Through the use of the internet (and an online strategy) you can be a global player and potentially increase your reach.

6. Provide improved customer service
Easily achieve this by providing answers to questions on your website, FAQ’s, online forms and documents. My personal favorite is when companies offer customer service via social media. Being available around the clock will help you increase accessibility, visibility and customer service as a result.

7. Be sure to present a professional image

A professional website and campaign, can help a small business build credibility, instill confidence and look bigger than you might actually be. Having a professional online look can also help you drive boost online sales and conversions.

8. Sell your products online
Selling your products through your website or social media accounts can be an affordable alternative to renting a traditional bricks-n-mortar business and can be a great way to start a business. Be sure to provide secure online purchasing (e.g. PayPal)

9. Generate leads
Gather customer information by using forms and surveys and let the leads come to you. I recommend building a marketing content strategy to complement this tip as well.

10. Create a 2-way discussion
Nothing beats social media, when trying to establish an interactive dialogue with your customers. People are busy and don’t like to wait for a response. There are many different social media platforms in use today. For help selecting the right one, read my previous blog post by clicking here.