7 Powerful Tips for a Winning Twitter Sales Strategy

This is a guest contribution from freelance writer Jawad Khan.

More than 73% US companies use Twitter to connect with their target audience, get direct feedback from their customers and keep an eye on their competitors.

You might be one of them.

But are you getting any real value from the time you spend on Twitter? Have you been able to engage your potential or existing customers? Have you ever created enough momentum with your Tweets to impact your sales numbers?

A large number of businesses on Twitter fail to do any of those things.

Why?

Because they don’t see Twitter as a sales channel. They don’t have a sales strategy for Twitter and never design their Tweets to impact sales.

But you can change that with a few smart modifications to the way you approach Twitter.

Twitter can be a powerful sales channel. It might not always give you direct sales, but it can always impact purchase decisions.

Here’s how.

1. Understand the Objective

Before you get started, understand that Twitter, like all other social networks, is primarily designed to encourage social connections, conversations and engagement. Their primary purpose is not sales. You can’t keep posting links to your product pages or sales landing pages and expect people to buy from you.

That’s not how things work on Twitter.

Your objective should be sales, but it can only be triggered through engagement. More than 65% of Twitter users are likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter.

Why?

Because they trust them and engage with them regularly. So in effect, the only way you can convert Twitter users into customers is by building trust and engagement.

2. Attract Relevant Followers

As I said in the first point, your followers are much more likely to buy from you as compared to normal Twitter users.

But not just any followers. You need to have relevant and active Twitter followers. 100 relevant followers who engage with you regularly are better than 1000 followers who never speak up.

So how do you find such followers on Twitter?

By mass following your competitor’s followers? No!

Never use mass follow in the hope of getting followers. That will destroy your brand image and credibility.

Instead, list down your closest competitors and have a good look at their Twitter timeline.

Do you see any responses to their Tweets? Any unanswered questions from their followers? Any unacknowledged suggestions? Any complaints that went unheard?

There’s your opportunity. Jump in and join the conversation. Offer help and respond to their queries.

This natural engagement will increase your brand awareness and goodwill, and will also earn you natural followers.

3. Structure Your Tweets Carefully

I’m sure you must have seen countless Twitter accounts with thousands of tweets but no engagement. Incorrect Tweet structure is one of the main reasons for that.

Yes, even these 140 characters need proper structuring. Here’s how

  • Tweet Length – You’re allowed 140 characters per Tweet, but Tweets that attract the highest engagement are between 110 and 115 characters according to social media scientist Dan Zarella

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.19.44 am

  • Link Placement – Link placement also impacts click through rates and Retweets. Instead of placing links at the end of a Tweet, put them in the middle and near the start.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.21.59 am

  • Images – Tweets that contain images attract 200% more engagement. So make sure most of your Tweets, especially the ones that contain links, have images.
  • Vines and GIFs – After Google Plus, Twitter has also allowed animated GIFs. GIFs and Vine videos attract a lot more engagement as compared to simple text or static image based Tweets. Using these multimedia Tweets in combination with image and text Tweets can give you great results. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.46.11 am

  • Hashtags – Hashtags expand the reach of your Tweets and give you exposure on the trending topics. Tweets with appropriate hashtags have a 55% higher probability of getting Retweets. Most experts recommend using up to three hashtags per Tweet. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.48.25 am

 

  • Tagging – When responding to a Tweet or tagging someone, make sure your Tweet doesn’t start with a Twitter handle. If it does, it will only appear to the tagged person.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.49.26 am

The Wrong Way to Tweet

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.50.50 am

  • Tweet Timing – Tweet at the wrong time and even your best content will go to waste. Timing is crucial on Twitter. Tweets between 9AM to 6PM everyday attract the highest engagement while Saturday and Sunday are the most engaging days of the week. I personally recommend using the BufferApp for scheduling Tweets

4. Become a Knowledge Source

Twitter allows only 140 characters per Tweet but, even here, content is the king. If you want to convert your Twitter account into a sales lead generator and a major source of referral traffic for your blog or website, you need to establish it as the knowledge hub for everything associated with your niche.

Users should be able to rely on your account alone to learn about the hottest news in your niche, solutions to the most common problems of your target market, innovations and industry hacks, and top quality content.

You can do that by dividing your Tweets into categories like news updates, blog posts, occasional product updates, quotes, tips etc. Schedule your daily Tweets in all these categories. You don’t always have to produce original content. You can curate the best content in your niche and still attract a lot of followers and engagement

5. Use Twitter for SMS Marketing

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.59.19 am

Twitter SMS is a highly underutilized feature. If you own a retail store or a small business that involves personally meeting customers, then this feature is for you.

Many people in the real world do not use Twitter. But you can still approach them with this feature. Whenever you meet a new customer, ask them to follow you through SMS to get updates on the latest products, discounts, competitions etc.

Your customers can subscribe to free SMS updates by sending ‘Follow @YourUsername’ in SMS to 40404 (this code is different for every country, here’s the list).

Whenever you Tweet, your subscribers will get it as an SMS. Make sure you create a separate Twitter account for SMS subscribers so that they don’t get all of your Tweets. Send occasional SMS Tweets for maximum impact.

5. Get Unfair Advantage With Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are a powerful way to monitor your target audience, divide them into segments and create targeted content for your followers. If you use Twitter lists intelligently, you can get an unfair advantage over your competitors because this is a largely underutilized feature.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.00.17 am

You can create your own lists and add users of a particular type to monitor them separately. You can also join public lists of other users that are already populated. Tools like Twitonomy can help you find the lists that are following your competitors.

6. Simplify the Buying Process

Things move at a much faster speed on Twitter as compared to Facebook and Google Plus. In order to give yourself any chance of attracting customers on Twitter, you need to simplify the buying process of your products.

Instead of Tweeting links of your product landing page, use Twitter’s built in feature of Twitter cards. Twitter cards display additional information within the Tweet content and increase the functionality of your Tweets. Twitter is also planning to add “Buy Now” buttons to its Twitter cards feature.

You can also use social selling tools like Selz. When you create a product on Selz and Tweet it to your followers, they’ll be able to see your product image, stock details and price along with a direct link to the checkout page. Selz also allows users to accept product payments from Master Card, Visa and PayPal so you won’t need to integrate any additional payment gateway.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.01.48 am

This approach makes your products much more sellable on Twitter and makes the buying process much more convenient. I personally recommend using Twitter cards in combination with Selz since it massively increases your Tweet CTR.

Conclusion

Selling products or services on Twitter requires a careful strategy that revolves around user engagement and a simplified buying process. You also need a balance between sales oriented Tweets and general Tweets aimed at user engagement. If you follow this strategy consistently, you can convert Twitter into a high value sales channel and your paid customers into loyal word of mouth marketers.

Jawad Khan  s a freelance writer and professional blogger with a keen interest in content marketing, blogging and wordpress. With professional experience in Web Project Management, he also provides content and design consultancy to a number of tech companies. He blogs at WritingMyDestiny.com

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

7 Powerful Tips for a Winning Twitter Sales Strategy


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Powerful Tips for a Winning Twitter Sales Strategy

This is a guest contribution from freelance writer Jawad Khan.

More than 73% US companies use Twitter to connect with their target audience, get direct feedback from their customers and keep an eye on their competitors.

You might be one of them.

But are you getting any real value from the time you spend on Twitter? Have you been able to engage your potential or existing customers? Have you ever created enough momentum with your Tweets to impact your sales numbers?

A large number of businesses on Twitter fail to do any of those things.

Why?

Because they don’t see Twitter as a sales channel. They don’t have a sales strategy for Twitter and never design their Tweets to impact sales.

But you can change that with a few smart modifications to the way you approach Twitter.

Twitter can be a powerful sales channel. It might not always give you direct sales, but it can always impact purchase decisions.

Here’s how.

1. Understand the Objective

Before you get started, understand that Twitter, like all other social networks, is primarily designed to encourage social connections, conversations and engagement. Their primary purpose is not sales. You can’t keep posting links to your product pages or sales landing pages and expect people to buy from you.

That’s not how things work on Twitter.

Your objective should be sales, but it can only be triggered through engagement. More than 65% of Twitter users are likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter.

Why?

Because they trust them and engage with them regularly. So in effect, the only way you can convert Twitter users into customers is by building trust and engagement.

2. Attract Relevant Followers

As I said in the first point, your followers are much more likely to buy from you as compared to normal Twitter users.

But not just any followers. You need to have relevant and active Twitter followers. 100 relevant followers who engage with you regularly are better than 1000 followers who never speak up.

So how do you find such followers on Twitter?

By mass following your competitor’s followers? No!

Never use mass follow in the hope of getting followers. That will destroy your brand image and credibility.

Instead, list down your closest competitors and have a good look at their Twitter timeline.

Do you see any responses to their Tweets? Any unanswered questions from their followers? Any unacknowledged suggestions? Any complaints that went unheard?

There’s your opportunity. Jump in and join the conversation. Offer help and respond to their queries.

This natural engagement will increase your brand awareness and goodwill, and will also earn you natural followers.

3. Structure Your Tweets Carefully

I’m sure you must have seen countless Twitter accounts with thousands of tweets but no engagement. Incorrect Tweet structure is one of the main reasons for that.

Yes, even these 140 characters need proper structuring. Here’s how

  • Tweet Length – You’re allowed 140 characters per Tweet, but Tweets that attract the highest engagement are between 110 and 115 characters according to social media scientist Dan Zarella

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.19.44 am

  • Link Placement – Link placement also impacts click through rates and Retweets. Instead of placing links at the end of a Tweet, put them in the middle and near the start.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.21.59 am

  • Images – Tweets that contain images attract 200% more engagement. So make sure most of your Tweets, especially the ones that contain links, have images.
  • Vines and GIFs – After Google Plus, Twitter has also allowed animated GIFs. GIFs and Vine videos attract a lot more engagement as compared to simple text or static image based Tweets. Using these multimedia Tweets in combination with image and text Tweets can give you great results. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.46.11 am

  • Hashtags – Hashtags expand the reach of your Tweets and give you exposure on the trending topics. Tweets with appropriate hashtags have a 55% higher probability of getting Retweets. Most experts recommend using up to three hashtags per Tweet. 

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.48.25 am

 

  • Tagging – When responding to a Tweet or tagging someone, make sure your Tweet doesn’t start with a Twitter handle. If it does, it will only appear to the tagged person.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.49.26 am

The Wrong Way to Tweet

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.50.50 am

  • Tweet Timing – Tweet at the wrong time and even your best content will go to waste. Timing is crucial on Twitter. Tweets between 9AM to 6PM everyday attract the highest engagement while Saturday and Sunday are the most engaging days of the week. I personally recommend using the BufferApp for scheduling Tweets

4. Become a Knowledge Source

Twitter allows only 140 characters per Tweet but, even here, content is the king. If you want to convert your Twitter account into a sales lead generator and a major source of referral traffic for your blog or website, you need to establish it as the knowledge hub for everything associated with your niche.

Users should be able to rely on your account alone to learn about the hottest news in your niche, solutions to the most common problems of your target market, innovations and industry hacks, and top quality content.

You can do that by dividing your Tweets into categories like news updates, blog posts, occasional product updates, quotes, tips etc. Schedule your daily Tweets in all these categories. You don’t always have to produce original content. You can curate the best content in your niche and still attract a lot of followers and engagement

5. Use Twitter for SMS Marketing

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 10.59.19 am

Twitter SMS is a highly underutilized feature. If you own a retail store or a small business that involves personally meeting customers, then this feature is for you.

Many people in the real world do not use Twitter. But you can still approach them with this feature. Whenever you meet a new customer, ask them to follow you through SMS to get updates on the latest products, discounts, competitions etc.

Your customers can subscribe to free SMS updates by sending ‘Follow @YourUsername’ in SMS to 40404 (this code is different for every country, here’s the list).

Whenever you Tweet, your subscribers will get it as an SMS. Make sure you create a separate Twitter account for SMS subscribers so that they don’t get all of your Tweets. Send occasional SMS Tweets for maximum impact.

5. Get Unfair Advantage With Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are a powerful way to monitor your target audience, divide them into segments and create targeted content for your followers. If you use Twitter lists intelligently, you can get an unfair advantage over your competitors because this is a largely underutilized feature.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.00.17 am

You can create your own lists and add users of a particular type to monitor them separately. You can also join public lists of other users that are already populated. Tools like Twitonomy can help you find the lists that are following your competitors.

6. Simplify the Buying Process

Things move at a much faster speed on Twitter as compared to Facebook and Google Plus. In order to give yourself any chance of attracting customers on Twitter, you need to simplify the buying process of your products.

Instead of Tweeting links of your product landing page, use Twitter’s built in feature of Twitter cards. Twitter cards display additional information within the Tweet content and increase the functionality of your Tweets. Twitter is also planning to add “Buy Now” buttons to its Twitter cards feature.

You can also use social selling tools like Selz. When you create a product on Selz and Tweet it to your followers, they’ll be able to see your product image, stock details and price along with a direct link to the checkout page. Selz also allows users to accept product payments from Master Card, Visa and PayPal so you won’t need to integrate any additional payment gateway.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 11.01.48 am

This approach makes your products much more sellable on Twitter and makes the buying process much more convenient. I personally recommend using Twitter cards in combination with Selz since it massively increases your Tweet CTR.

Conclusion

Selling products or services on Twitter requires a careful strategy that revolves around user engagement and a simplified buying process. You also need a balance between sales oriented Tweets and general Tweets aimed at user engagement. If you follow this strategy consistently, you can convert Twitter into a high value sales channel and your paid customers into loyal word of mouth marketers.

Jawad Khan  s a freelance writer and professional blogger with a keen interest in content marketing, blogging and wordpress. With professional experience in Web Project Management, he also provides content and design consultancy to a number of tech companies. He blogs at WritingMyDestiny.com

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

7 Powerful Tips for a Winning Twitter Sales Strategy


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s been 2 Years Since I’ve Seen A Blog Training Program This Good

EBA FB Graphic 2

It has been almost two years since I’ve found training for bloggers that I’ve considered good enough to promote as an affiliate.

I’m very fussy with who and what I promote (because there is so much hype and dubious practice in this space) but today have a recommendation for an authentic and valuable program that I know will help many ProBlogger readers.

The Short Story

The Elite Blog Academy is one of the most comprehensive blogging courses I’ve ever come across – and it’s available to enrol in with an early bird offer for just over 48 hours with the coupon code EBASAVE50 (which saves you $ 50).

Check it out here

The Longer Story

Ruth-Profile-2013-Rounded-735x1024Earlier this year after running a ProBlogger Training day in Portland I had opportunity to grab a coffee with Ruth Soukup. 

Ruth shared with me the story of starting her blog Living Well Spending Less in 2010. Like us all she made her share of mistakes but persisted with it and struggled on and four years later has built a blog with over a million visitors a month that generates her a full time income.

I was really impressed with both Ruth’s success but also the clear and strategic she applied to her blogging.

Numerous times as she spoke I wanted to take notes as she’d been experimenting with techniques I’d not come across before – particularly around Pinterest and social media.

At the end of her story I remember thinking ‘I wish we could bottle what you’ve done and share it with ProBlogger readers’.

No sooner than I’d thought this Ruth slid across the table a white folder with an outline for her Elite Blog Academy course. Yep – she’d bottled it!

The Elite Blog Academy: Enrolments Close in 48 Hours

Ruth’s Elite Blog Academy is literally her stepping you through her process for building a profitable blog in 12 wonderfully crafted lessons. You can learn more about it here (but use the coupon code EBASAVE50 to save $ 50).

The course is delivered through 12 fantastic videos, 12 very detailed workbooks, 16 helpful handouts, 30 assignments, a series of 4 live webinars with Ruth an a private Facebook Group where you can interact with Ruth and other attendees.

This course is practical and actionable. Really meaty stuff.

Update: if you’d like to hear what others are saying about it, check out this post I did on Facebook where a couple of ProBlogger readers have already chimed in with their experiences of previously signing up to Ruth’s Academy.

This course is not designed for the faint of heart – it requires work (as does successful blogging) and a willingness to really buckle down. That said, for those who are willing to do the work, it also comes with a 200% money-back guarantee.

Anyone who completes the course and has not seen measurable results in both traffic and income growth will get double your money back, no questions asked. That’s a pretty incredible promise, but it means that you’ve literally got nothing to lose. 

If you are ready to finally take your blog to the next level, sign up now to secure your spot here

Don’t forget to use the coupon code EBASAVE50 – it’ll save you $ 50 at check out. The code expires and enrolments close at midnight US Eastern time on 30 September in just over 48 hours.

PS: as stated above – I am an affiliate for this product but do so having checked it out and genuinely recommending Ruth it’s creator and the program itself.

Update: What to Expect

A few people have been asking for more information on what’s in the units. Here’s what I just shared over on Facebook to give you some insight into what to expect:

1. Start with Awesome – Learn the secret to successful blogging and master the 3 steps to starting with awesome. Understand what makes YOUR blog unique (and therefore marketable), and create the framework for a powerful platform that gets results.

2. Content is King – Discover why the key to a successful, popular, and profitable blog starts with amazing content, master the four essential strategies for creating content that rocks, and learn exactly how to FOCUS™—the secret to creating a killer blog post every single time.

3. Presentation is Everything – Uncover the three visual areas every blogger must focus on in order to be successful and learn not only why Pinterest is the most powerful marketing tool ever created,
and how to harness that power through creating the Perfect Pin™.

4. Grow Your Platform – Learn how to increase, diversify, and stabilize your platform through eight proven strategic growth strategies. Develop the confidence to promote your core message with an authority that draws people in, master field-tested techniques for networking and collaboration, find out exactly how to grow your subscriber list, and discover why good SEO really isn’t as complicated as everyone makes it out to be.

5. Social Media & Viral Growth – Uncover the mysteries of capturing and retaining viral blog traffic through social media and learn to determine which social media platforms are most valuable for your own audience. Find out the ten crucial steps to take if your blog post goes viral, then create comprehensive marketing plans for both Facebook and Pinterest in order to develop a cohesive social media strategy that gets results.

After that it gets more into monetising through ad networks, affiliate sales, private advertising and creating products.

Lastly it gets into working smart/efficiently and being strategic to grow your business.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

It’s been 2 Years Since I’ve Seen A Blog Training Program This Good


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Ways for Bloggers to Be More Productive

This is a guest contribution from Charles Crawford.

If your business is blogging, productivity is essential. The only way for you to get the results you want is to put out consistent high quality content. While this is often easy in the beginning when the blog is new and exciting, as time goes on this can become more difficult. There are some ways that you can improve your productivity to keep your blog current.

1. Work at the Right Times

A common misconception is that people work better first thing in the morning. The problem with this is people are all different. You may not be a morning person at all.  This is why you need to find the time of day that you are most productive and work then, even if it is 3 AM.

2. Use Technology to Your Advantage

If you are like many writers, then inspiration will come at the most unexpected times. You may be sitting at a red light or even in the doctor’s office when a great idea for a blog will come to you. Rather than trying to remember it, which often is unsuccessful, use your smartphone to your advantage. Apps such as Evernote syncs with your computer and other devices. It will allow you to type note, snap pictures for inspiration or even record audio notes. This is a great way to organize yourself and ensure you never forget an idea again.

3. Create a Schedule

A common mistake many bloggers who work from home is not creating a schedule for themselves. When you know what you plan to work on within a time frame, you are more likely to get this done. Otherwise you may find yourself wanting to scroll through your social media feeds or even doing household tasks. Make sure you schedule everything you need to get done for the day, both for work and personal tasks to ensure you get everything done.

4. Change Things Up

For those who are not productive because they feel like the blog has gotten stale, find a way to change things up. Write a new style of blog. For instance if you have been reviewing products every week, try making a list style blog with great images that matches the theme of the site. Don’t be afraid to try something new as this is a great way to grow your writing skills and have more fun.

5. Have Fun

If you aren’t having fun with the blog, then it simply won’t work. Find ways to make the blog fun. This can be with giveaways, Q and A sessions or many other activities. Make a list of different things you would like to do with the blog and if you can’t think of any new ideas, visit other blogs to get inspiration and ideas.

6. Work on it Every Day

Even if you just spend five minutes writing or tweaking, you will find that this will make you more productive. In fact, you may also find that the five minutes turns into half an hour and you have the first draft of your next blog done or have taken care of the back end SEO work you have been putting off since you created the site.

7. Utilize Social Media

Social media is a great way to connect with your audience and find out what they are looking for. You will also find this helpful in keeping you motivated to put out the next blog, as you know there are people waiting. Your fans can be a great source of support and help when you are not feeling productive.

Charles Crawford is the co-founder of Crawford and O’Brien. Aside from doing dental SEO and helping dentists get new patients, Charles plays jazz piano in restaurants in Scottsdale, AZ on weekends.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

7 Ways for Bloggers to Be More Productive


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

ProBlogger Event 2014 – Wrap Up

It is hard to believe but the 2014 ProBlogger Training event is already last month and if I’m honest with you – I’m still reeling from it a little.

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Image by WonderWebby

What an amazing two days!

This was our second year of holding the event on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia but it was the first time we’d had over 500 attendees all in the one room.

When I came up with the idea for the first PBEVENT back in 2010 I envisaged a small group of bloggers gathering around a board table in a meeting room somewhere but had no idea of what would happen to the event – or the Aussie blogosphere in the following five years.

Both have exploded – in a good way!

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This year’s event took a good 11 months to plan for – with the help of an amazing team. We had 550 attendees, over 30 speakers (four internationals and the rest from around Australia), three new niche networking events, three new ‘accelerator’ workshops, a special partner event with Aweber, and one crazy networking party (with a nautical theme).

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Image by CarlyFindlay

Our international speakers this year were amazing. Pat Flynn, Rand Fishkin, Geraldine DeRuiter and Chris Ducker all made the big trip down under and all completely brought it to their sessions – delivering high quality presentations and really practical advice.

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Image by Impactiv8

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Image by Impactiv8

Our Aussie speakers also blew our socks off with their storytelling, advice and generosity.

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Image by theremarksgroup

The Australian blogosphere has continue to grow and mature in the last 12 months and the spirit in the room over our two days of training was incredible. This year almost two thirds of attendees were with us for their first time, most of whom were in their first year of blogging. Something is happening in Australia!

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Image by SoniaStyling

Surprise and Delights

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Image by Lou_louzoo

This year we did a few of surprise and delight moments through the conference. Virgin Australia gave three attendees a total of 800,000 velocity points, Olympus Australia gave away their amazing OMD camera, and Tourism and Events Queensland gave one attendee the cost of getting to and attending our conference back to them. Oh – and then there was the free massages and coffee from Bupa and the networking events from L’Oreal (where I got made up with smokey eyes – see below), Annie Sloan and Pure Harvest.

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Image by BrandMeetsBlog

We also surprised those attendees who have been to all five PBEVENTS with free tickets to next year’s event, a couple of attendees with a trip to Melbourne to spend the day with the ProBlogger team to help take their blog to the next level, and another with a date night for her and her husband at a hotel in Perth along with free tickets to next years PBEVENT in Perth and next year’s main event.

We also had opportunity spend time with The Reach Foundation and hear from one of their wonderful young crew members to tell us about the work they do with thousands of Aussie young people.

I also had a few moments of surprise – one being on the last night when my team all appeared at drinks with Darren Rowse Tattoos!

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Image by Impactiv8

Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

PBEVENT is fast becoming the highlight of my year each year – I love seeing the progression in our attendees from one year to another. Numerous bloggers who I met back in 2010-11 as brand new bloggers are now full time bloggers and launching amazing projects.

The theme of my opening keynote this year is that blogging is something that enables normal, ordinary people to do extraordinary things. In the Aussie blogosphere (as it is around the world) this is something I’ve seen hundreds of times.

In the last 12 months alone we’ve seen bloggers launching books and eBooks:

Screen Shot 2014 09 09 at 3 45 12 pm

Launching businesses and training courses:

Screen Shot 2014 09 09 at 3 45 18 pm

Experimenting with Kickstarter and Pozible campaigns:

Screen Shot 2014 09 09 at 3 45 27 pm

Developing Apps and running events:

Screen Shot 2014 09 09 at 3 45 34 pm

And that’s just scratching the surface.

Bigger than One Direction and Football

Our attendees certainly like to use social media!

PBEVENT this year knocked AFL football, Rugby and the birthday of one of the OneDirection group off the number-one trending perch on Twitter for two and a half days nationally in Australia.

NewImage
Image by Ken_burgin

Over the two days of the event the #PBEVENT hashtag had around 15,000 tweets with over 47,000,000 impressions (over the month around the event this is closer to 80,000,000 impressions), over 3000 instagrams and since the event we’ve seen more blog posts written about the event than we can keep up with.

Following are just some of the blog posts we’ve found that give you a speaker/attendee perspective on what it’s like to attend a PBEVENT.

But before I get to those posts – I want to say another huge thank you to the team who helped run this year’s event. To Jasmin, Nicole and Laney who returned this year to form our core team. To those around them who put in many hours including Caroline, Liz, Shayne, Stacey, Yvonne, Cheryl, Jade, Brooke, Grove, Nathalie, Martine, Louisa Claire and to the many others who pitched in and lent a hand throughout the event.

Here’s just some of the team behind this year’s event pictured int he Olympus booth at our nautical networking party (yes, that’s me as Jack Sparrow). See more shots from this Photo Booth here.

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All our speakers and panelists – thanks so much for your time and generosity.

Also a huge thanks to our sponsors (all mentioned above) who helped to keep our event as what I hear over and over again is one of the most affordable and value-packed events in Australia.

Lastly to our attendees this year and to the wider Australian Blogosphere – your support and encouragement drive us on to keep improving PBEVENT. As I said in closing this year’s event we’re already planning the 2015 events (yes there will be more than one).

We’re hoping to run a full day event early in 2015 in Perth and another multi day event at a similar time next year (location to be announced) as well as some smaller meet up events in other capital cities early in the year.

What Our Attendees Thought About this Year’s Event

As promised above – here are just some of the blog posts we’ve found about this year’s event from attendees and speakers. Thanks to Jade Craven for helping me get this list together! Enjoy!

 

From Presenters:

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

ProBlogger Event 2014 – Wrap Up


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why Your Blog Isn’t Growing and How to Make It A Success

How To Build A Successful BlogThis is a guest contribution from Gary Dek from StartABlog123.com.

If your blog is dependent on Google search engine rankings like most websites, you should know that one record month of traffic can easily be followed by a record low. Growing your blog’s traffic and revenue requires leveraging traffic and design strategies to build and retain visitors, eventually converting them into loyal readers and followers. Otherwise, you risk the chance of starting from zero after an algorithm update.

Here are some possible reasons your blog is failing to capitalize on its current readership, and what you can do about it.

The Cornerstones of Building A Following

You are not actively seeking growth. If you update your blog regularly with comprehensive, high-quality content and are not seeing growth in terms of traffic from returning visitors, then you are doing something wrong. Chances are, your traffic is comprised of one-time visitors who forget all about you after they’ve exited your blog.

What can you do to maintain a connection?

  1. Collect emails. If you don’t collect email addresses from your readers, you can’t get those readers to come back to your blog on a regular basis. You can use these emails to send a message each time you publish a new post. Alternatively, you can send a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter highlighting your best posts within that period. A mailing list can even offer a targeted audience who may be interested in a new product or service you’ve developed, leading to a higher conversion rate than a general blog post. Whatever your reason for collecting emails, doing it will keep your readership updated and constantly interacting with your brand. Word of caution: make sure you ask for permission before you add an email to a newsletter or mailing list. Like you, I absolutely hate it when blogs add me as a subscriber when I input my email for another purpose. The last thing you want is to be labeled or even reported as a spammer.
  2. Build a community. Blogging has always been all about people interacting on a more personal level compared to traditional news outlets. If your blog is not growing, then you may have issues with engagement. Are you getting comments? Are you responding to comments? Do you have a group of people who talk to each other through your blog? Do you ask for user input at the end of each blog post? Is your comment system intuitive and easy to use? Is your content original, personal, and addressing the needs and wants of your readers? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when building a community around your blog.
  3. Get on social media. People spend more time on social networking platforms than other sites. In 2014, Facebook reported that the average user spends 17 minutes on the site every day. If you want to get a reader’s attention, then you need to have a social media presence. Start with one or two platforms – Facebook and Twitter – and build your presence there. Share your posts. Ask your readers for their opinions or experiences. Pose a question. Share other experts’ guides. You don’t even need to stay on your own Facebook page – interact with other blogging authorities in the niche and build relationships. If your contributions are insightful, you may even be invited to guest blog. The traffic you build through your social sharing can never be taken away from you by Google’s algorithm.

Are You Insecure About Your Knowledge or Blogging Skills?

You lack conviction. Some of the most common indications that you don’t believe in yourself or your ability to offer value through your blog content include:

  • You don’t think you’re a writer because you didn’t major in journalism or creative writing.
  • You question your authority to write about a certain topic.
  • You think, “Who am I to express my opinion strongly to the public?”
  • You’re afraid to let your personality shine in your writing.
  • You’re a perfectionist and afraid to post anything but a 10,000 word “masterpiece” that covers every angle, argument, or consideration.

If you consistently feel self-doubt, then you need to take a step back and remember why you started blogging in the first place. The barriers to entry when starting a blog are so low that you could have written about anything, but you chose this niche for a reason.

Either you had first-hand experience and knowledge in the industry and you believed you could make a difference or you were passionate about learning something new and wanted to document your research and journey.

The former is common in the SEO industry, where online marketers who worked for agencies or themselves building and selling sites decide they want to finally share all their SEO knowledge with the masses. The latter is common in the personal finance niche, where individuals document their own troubles managing money and share their journey to financial independence.

If you do not have that confidence and passion anymore, you can do all the research you want and spew thousand-word posts, but your writing will not resonate with your audience.

Blogging Isn’t Just About Writing. Remember, you don’t have to be a poet to create a useful article. As the respected author E.B. White said, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” You need to find that confidence and believe that you have something to offer your readers. Don’t let your lack of training as a writer bring you down. All things can be learned, but passion can’t be faked.

This lack of self-belief can also lead to the next problem.

Your blog is bland. Tepid. Has no personality. There are millions of blogs out there and the number of online visitors is finite. You need to have something unique to attract readers and grow your audience. Since more than one person is ever writing about the same topic, you must add your own unique touch or contribution.

Some ways to do this:

  1. Inject your real-life personality in your writing. If you’re outspoken and unabashed, then write that way. If you aren’t, force yourself to be and share all the things you’ve always wanted to say but didn’t.
  2. Don’t shy away from controversy. Even though you may not have a confrontational personality, discussing controversial issues can help your blog get attention. People like controversy, and they like discussing it. Whether they agree with you or not, it doesn’t matter. What counts is that you get them reading, sharing, and commenting. However, always think before you “speak” and don’t make a fool of yourself.
  3. Talk to your readers as if they were right in front of you. Much like letting your personality shine through your writing, you also need to remember that your readers are real people and not just numbers in your analytics report. Write as if you were having a conversation with one of them. Create something that you yourself will want to read and share.
  4. It’s okay to be weird. Let’s be honest – we’re all weird. I’m OCD about cleanliness and organization. Everything on my desk is parallel or perpendicular to each other. Everything on my laptop is titled a certain way and saved for optimal convenience and efficiency, including my music and movies. When setting my thermostat or the volume on the TV, I prefer even numbers or ones ending in 5. Those of you who share my “weirdness” may feel an instant connection with me because we share the same “problems” ;) . Weird is definitely more eye-catching than bland.

Treat Your Blog Like A Business

Everything you offer is free. There is nothing wrong with giving away free content, products, or services. But if you want to grow a blog and make money online, you need to train your readers not to expect everything for free. Sometimes the most valuable information or tools require an investment of your time and money to develop, and you will need to take that into consideration.

Nevertheless, you should understand that “paying” doesn’t always involve money. Many readers have an aversion to shelling out money for content, especially if you are not a big name yet or have given everything for free up till now. Fortunately, you can achieve growth in other ways.

One way is to show only a snippet of a long-form resource. Make sure that the preview is interesting enough to make readers want to read the entire resource. Here comes the caveat – in order for the reader to see the whole article, you ask them to tweet or share the URL on Facebook. Not only do you provide something of value, but you also get something in return: more exposure. Similarly, you can require an email address for your mailing list.

This strategy isn’t innovative and new for 2014, but it does work and can provide a way to constantly keep in touch with your readership, as discussed earlier in this post.

You’re not taking things seriously. You most probably started blogging as a hobby. Then one day, you installed AdSense on your blog and started making a couple dollars a day. Several months went by and that part-time income started growing to an amount that made you realize the potential of your blog.

The problem is that some bloggers who want to succeed still don’t take blogging all that seriously. They think that it’s just writing and publishing whenever they want. And when they analyze their websites, they are subjective and passive instead of being honest and critical with themselves.

Here are some things you can do to take your blog to the next level by taking it more seriously.

Be consistent. Consistency is vital to your blog’s success. You should maintain an editorial calendar or simply choose to post Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Consistency means being in it for the long haul. Don’t rest on your accomplishments for the past month – set new goals and keep working.

Manage your time well. If you want blogging to be a source of income, then you need to run your blog like a business. That means you need to learn to manage your time and have a good work-life balance. Set work hours, and set aside time to spend with your friends and family. When you know you have all day to accomplish a task, you will likely procrastinate. Alternatively, when I’m feeling burned out, I like to go on vacation or visit a nice part of town. Having fun or observing other successful people motivates me to get there too.

Always Hold Yourself Accountable

I feel this is where a lot of people fail, whether they are bloggers, entrepreneurs, or employees. Do you want to appear to be or feel successful, or do you want your dreams to be a reality? You can blame your blog’s stalled growth on Google, Facebook, competing bloggers, or your hosting company, but ultimately, you are the boss.

You are the master of your own fate, and that is one of the best feelings in the world. Except for extenuating circumstances, your blog’s success begins and ends with you. This can either empower and motivate you or cripple you.

As a final thought, I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by Mark Twight:

“Modern man is conditioned to expect instant gratification, but any success or triumph realized quickly, with only marginal effort, is necessarily shallow. Meaningful achievement takes time, hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent and self-awareness. The path to success is punctuated by failure, consolidation, and renewed effort.”

Author Bio: Gary Dek is the founder of StartABlog123.com, which provides a free step-by-step tutorial on starting and growing a blog. He is passionate about helping new and professional bloggers build sustainable online businesses via content and social marketing.

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Why Your Blog Isn’t Growing and How to Make It A Success


@ProBlogger

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Q&A: Your Social Media Strategy

There’s not much Darren hasn’t tried in the way of social media, and using it as a complement to his blog.

In this webinar (available in full to ProBlogger.com members), he outlines his method for success, as well as answering your questions about how to make the best use of this media.

Darren covers:

  • Where social media fits in your blogging journey
  • What hierarchy of importance social media should go in (because you can’t be across everything!)
  • How to find readers
  • How to build a presence
  • How often you should update your social media channels
  • Hints for scheduling your content
  • How much time you should invest in it
  • What your status updates should say
  • Case studies of status updates that really worked

And questions sourced from the ProBlogger.com forums as well as your inquiries on Facebook and Twitter. One not to be missed!

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Q&A: Your Social Media Strategy


@ProBlogger

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Four Ways to Crush Your Email Challenge and Build the List

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 9.26.21 pm

This is a guest contribution from Luke Guy.

I support building your email list more than any other thing. It’s the building block to any platform-building. You should be collecting emails before you even build the blog or write the book. I Wish I did it this way to begin with.

Why?

Collecting emails has got to be the fastest, easiest, cheapest way to build a community. You can approach someone and more likely get their email than a “like” on Facebook. Email is about discovery. Facebook is about liking what we already like.

You know this though. You know that email is the way to build your online presence. You know the benefits and have heard it plenty of times. But like anything though, everything has it challenges.

Challenges With Email

1. Collecting the Emails

2. Providing Content For Those Emails

3. Keeping Your Email Open Rates High

4. Keeping Unsubscribe Rates Low

You’ve probably read the “8 Reasons Why Your Email Open Rate is Nosediving” that I wrote for Problogger a while back. These points listed within that post will give you insight on how to format those emails. It was mostly about format, and how Google sees your email campaign.

Either as spammy or as friend, you’re one or the other with Google.

Today isn’t about the technical side of things though, it’s about your performance in content. You can do all the things mentioned in the previous post, as formatting goes, and still miss potential readers and customers because the content was horrible.

How To Crush Email Challenges

Okay, so you have these challenges looking at you like a ban of ugly monsters and not sure how to tackle them. You’ve tried everything and no one wants to join your email list, your open rates are low, and the few that have joined are unsubscribing just weeks after joining.

I want to solve this for you. If you focus on this one thing, it will make your email list explode, Connecting with Quality Information.

Here’s four ways to Make This Happen:

1. Making your list a secret club

Let’s think about this for a second. What’s in it for them when they join your list? If you think they’re joining so you can punch them every week with a pitch, you’re wrong.

You’ve got to offer benefits. Make them feel part of a secret club. People love feeling like they’re “in”, you know? To feel connected with someone they look up to is one reason why they join.

Here are some other things you could be offering to your list:

  • Offer instant contact when they join your list
  • Give your list exclusive opportunities like when your product launches
  • Let your list be the “beta testers” with any new software, program, app. Get their feedback and make them feel like they created the product with you.
  • Skype with them individually. Pick out five a month and just email with them back and forth. Do it as a surprise though. This makes things exciting.
  • Offer free courses on the email list, get their feedback, improve the course based on that feedback, and then sell it on your site. They feel special because they got it free, and they just made it huge because of the amazing feedback. Then on top of that, you’re making money on a product that was formed by a community. Isn’t that cool?

2. Only send emails that are useful

Make sure every time you send out an email it gives them a feeling. A good feeling. A feeling of hope, inspiration, and success. An email, that when they’re done, makes them feel like they’ve walked away with something valuable. Don’t just send an email that reminds them you’re still alive. It should never be like that. Send an email that is worth a lot and makes that reader a raving fan. If that means one email instead of two a week, then let it be. How To Find CONTENT For You To Write About is a great post if you’re stuck on how to create more valuable content.

3. Offer something of value to push them over (like a contest).

You remember all those benefits I mentioned in the first section? List it on the signup page. Make it feel like a free membership with benefits, because if there is no benefits, you’re not getting many subscribers. Advertise the benefits on that page creatively.

But on top of that offer something that is enticing to new people who haven’t experienced those other things yet. Offer a product, service, ebook etc, that you know is something they would crave. Something that would make them sign up today! Make sure it’s relative to what you do. Offering an iPad is not a good idea by the way.

Then start a contest and offer this prize. Your list will grow quickly, but understand it takes a lot of energy and can’t be done too often. You’ll lose the buzz.

4. Don’t be like other bloggers. Be available

Make your email list about connectivity. Offer your list more availability than anywhere else. I don’t care if you have 100k readers on your list, answer every email in a timely manner. This is a major problem in the blogging world. You can email most bloggers, and you’re lucky to get a reply. The ones making the money though, many of those will.

Is there a connection? Yes.

I’m not saying all millionaire bloggers respond to email, because they don’t, but more of them will. It’s why they’re making money, they respond to every question or at least most.

Why? You never know where this conversation could be going.

Besides, you should want to reply. It’s exciting! To think, someone is reaching out to you and wanting to hear from you. It should thrill you. When you get to the point that you feel like your readers are a nuisance though… You won’t be in business for long. So make it #1 priority and answer every email.

Apply these and your list will grow within time. Hope you have walked away with some fresh ideas and spark some more creativity within your tribe.

Did I forget something? Comment below with your ideas on how to build your list and beat the email challenges.

Luke Guy blogs at Lukeguy.com. He researches email marketing and how to grow businesses doing it. He talks about other things but usually it involves emailing. If you need further help with your email challenges, you can join him here!

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

Four Ways to Crush Your Email Challenge and Build the List


@ProBlogger

Posted in Blogging | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Interview with Ann Handley

Ann Handley

The bell has rung and class is in session.

The topic? Creating content. In particular, ridiculously good content.

Your professor for this essential business skill is none other than Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, the largest marketing community on the web. During the incredibly busy week that was Content Marketing World, Ann took the time to exceed my expectations (once again) and shine her bright light of wisdom on the power of good writing.

In business and in life, writing is an essential part of communications – no matter how digital, virtual and science fiction we get in our communications. That’s why Ann’s new book launching today, Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, is so timely.  From Twitter to White Papers to books in print, Ann has smart, actionable advice for us all.

Let’s get to it. Ann, are you ready to talk about creating ridiculously good content? Please pick 6 of the following questions to answer:

Sure…  grab some pops and nachos and hang over here for a few. You ask. I’ll answer.

Everybody Writes Book Cover

What do you love about writing?

I don’t particularly LOVE writing – it’s hard work, and I’m slow at it. ? But I love to read good writing. And I love to have written!

And more generally: I do love the way the process of writing forces a deeper clarity of thought and an empathy for the reader: What am I trying to say really? Am I making this crystal clear for the person I’m trying to reach?

So writing is thinking. And for us as marketers, good writing is good marketing, too: Because when we swap places with our readers during that editing, we are getting inside our customer’s heads to figure out what will matter to them. To create content with meaning for them.

Intellectually, it makes all the sense in the world to create meaningful content. At the same time, the ADD generation is decidedly short form when it comes to writing. A great example is that almost no one live-blogs at conferences anymore, they “live tweet.” How can we get millennials excited about writing again?

Well, isn’t tweeting writing? The words we use on Twitter matter as much as the words we use anywhere else.

Writing doesn’t have to be long to be meaningful. I’d argue that the words we use everywhere – on our websites, on our landing pages, on our LinkedIn profiles and so on – are just as important as the words we use in places we typically think of as “writing.”

Our words are our ambassadors – they tell the world who we are no matter where they appear. And that’s true whether they appear in a tweet, or in this answer right here, right now….

With 28 writing rules in Part 1 of Everybody Writes, it can seem overwhelming to a mediocre writer like myself. What are 3 of the most important writing rules you can recommend so that people like me can write better?

The last thing I wanted to do was produce a writing guide that was as impenetrable and heavy as a swimming pool full of wet cement. And truly, those “rules” are more like bumpers on a bowling lane than hard and fast rules – and in that spirit I encourage any Content McGyvers out there to break them as they wish!

But if I had to choose three: I’d suggest these:

  1. Shed high school rules. (There really is no one right way to write.)
  2. Follow a writing GPS. (Having a sense of what path you’re taking makes the journey less anxious.)
  3. Embrace the Ugly First Draft. Everyone writes badly on a first draft; the key is to be an excellent editor of your own work on subsequent drafts.

Awesomesauce is a Frankenword? Oh the irony! Where do such rules apply when it comes to humor and adding language to conversational content like blogs and social media?

I’m allergic to the word “awesomesauce” and other Frankenwords (like “amazeballs” and “clickability.”) But they bother me less than obese words (almost any word with –ation as a suffix) and jargony “fake words.”

Such words to my ear are the chemical additives of writing – you can use one or two of them sparingly but too many can make you content toxic.

Humor and conversational content is another matter entirely. Most of the content we produce should be conversational – using lots of “yous” and “us” and not so many “our customers” and “the organization.” Corporate-speak like that makes you sound off-putting and impersonal in this post Cluetrain Manifesto-era.

What are some of the most common grammar and usage rules you see being broken with business content?

Part of me doesn’t want to answer this, on the grounds that too many people equate writing with grammar, when it’s so much more than that.

Writing is more about thinking and creating great content experiences for your reader, customer or user. That’s why the “grammar” stuff in the book is second – because in my mind while grammar is important, it’s secondary to the idea, the message and the writing itself.

But since you asked so nicely… and because I like you: I’d say the most common errors I’ve noticed in 25 (!) years of editing business people and marketers are these:

1. Wordiness. Both in specific words (why use “at which time” when you might say “when”?) as well as indulgent, bloated blog posts and other longer-form content. Writing with stylish economy is a gift you can give your readers.

2. Using this/that and these/those when the antecedent isn’t clear. I see this ALL THE TIME. Especially at the beginning of the sentence. This drives me nuts. (What drives me nuts? The sentence? The usage? The question? See what I mean?)

Please name 3 ways a company can get to know their audience better to inform content topics?

Is this the sixth question? I’ve lost count. And you said to answer only six. Anyway, I like that you say “please.” It a small gesture, but it’s nice.

So, as for the answer: certainly getting out and talking to people is key. A lot of marketers I know rarely talk to customers – very often, only customer service or sales does. So, ask customers what they think. Watch how they behave. Look for patterns. I do this via social platforms, too: Twitter is a great listening tool, but many companies use it to listen only for sales opportunities or (worse) they use it to broadcast only.

Pay attention to context as well. Avoid grouping customers in an artificial setting like a focus group. Instead, meet them in their natural habitat so you can get a better sense of how they interact with your content and your site and whatever it is that you do or sell.

And finally: Be a natural skeptic of your own work. Ask So what? about every piece of content you create – and then answer it with a Because. Ask/answer until you uncover the true value for a customer. Why does this matter to them? Why should they care? I wrote a bit more about that here. http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2014/25986/writing-gps-for-ridiculously-good-content

What’s the balance between content that empathizes with the customer and content that communicates information to help prospects to buy? We should be able to do both, right?

Those two things are the same thing, to me. The best content answers the questions that customers have – or might have if they knew enough to ask.

So content that helps people make important decisions about their lives is a kind of gift you can give your customers or prospects. The key is to take your product or service out of the starring role – and let it play the supporting role of helping the customer.

The best content marketing isn’t about what you do or what you sell – it’s about how what that thing does for others. That’s a subtle shift, but an important one, and a hard one for companies to truly embrace. (And I say that with love in my heart and with no judgment. I get it.)

What is brand journalism and when does it make sense for a business to include that approach with their content marketing and communications?

Some companies are looking toward traditional journalism to fill the gaping content maw; they are hiring those trained in J-school tactics, such as reporting and storytelling, as in-house brand journalists. A brand journalist or corporate reporter works inside the company, writing and producing videos, blog posts, photos, webinars, charts, graphs, e-books, podcasts, and other information that delivers value to your market.

In short, brand journalists bring a reporter’s sensibility to your content—an editorial approach to building a brand.

That approach is especially useful when we all need to place the needs of our audience first and rise above our corporate-centric messaging. Journalists’ innate understanding of audience means that every time they sit down at their desks to create content, a little voice in the back of their head reminds them: Nobody has to read this. That kind of pressure on your content-creation efforts can only benefit your brand and enhance your integrity.

With so many different platforms, people and situations, is there really such a thing as universal rules guiding the ideal length for blog posts and social media updates?

Ah, you’re referring to Part V: Things Marketers Write. It is one of the more prescriptive parts of the book, so here’s what I’d say:

There is no way one to write, just as there is no one way to parent a child or roast a turkey. (And that’s true of writing social media updates, too.) But there are terrible ways of doing all three things.

So in Part V I’m offering a starting point for companies who aren’t sure where to begin writing a Facebook page update or LinkedIn profile or blog post or landing page or how to use hashtags… or the like.

As I said, Content McGyvers can feel free to toss this section entirely – it’s a section I considered NOT including in the book, because the general approach in the previous four sections confers enough guidance, I thought. But ironically Part V is the section many marketers seem to dig, based on early feedback.

So what do I know? Is there more salsa?

How do you suggest marketers organize writing differently for each social channel? Is it a single idea written different ways or different ideas per channel?

I think it’s more important for marketers to adopt a point-of-view; a clear voice. And then, adapt it to the audiences on those channels.

What are 3 of your favorite content tools? What do you use daily?

I use Word and WordPress daily. But calling them content “tools” is a little like calling underwear part of your OOTD. Technically, yes. But no one really calls out the basics.

I also regularly use Instagram (my own, as a source of content images) and Scrivener, for longer content projects like books and ebooks. That’s four. Oops. I’m terrible at math. Clearly.

What content tool do you wish existed now (but doesn’t)? What would it do?

Hmm. Good question. I already invented blogging.

And I wish I invented Instagram. But alas.

Ann Handley

Any future predictions on the state of “content marketing” in the next 5 years? Hot or not?

HOT. Or actually…. Let’s not say HOT. Because that implies a fad, a trend, a passing fancy.

Let’s just say that great content is great marketing. And that will be more true in the next five years than it is now. Which is to say – VERY!

I just realized I answered all of these, didn’t I? See “bad at math” comment, again.

Thanks Ann!

You can get more information on Ann’s soon to be best-seller Everybody Writes on the book website or just go to Amazon or BN and buy it. I did.


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Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content – Interview with Ann Handley | http://www.toprankblog.com


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The 5 Step Voyage of Creating Awesome Content

Image via Flickr user na.harii.

Image via Flickr user na.harii.

This is a guest contribution from James Scherer.

Do you struggle for content inspiration? Do you feel like every article you write is exactly like another you’ve already written or read?

You’re falling victim to content stagnation, and it’s something we all deal with.

Perhaps you need a refresher, a reminder, or just someone to give you a few new ideas - a nudge along the way.

This article will give a full look at how to encourage and capture readership, optimize for action and engagement, and get the most out of your content – the full gamut of content marketing best practice.

I’ll refocus you on the five steps that you need to take to create interesting content that get shares, comments, engagement and loyal readers as well as content that generates leads.

Let’s make sure you’re doing this content creation thing right.

 

Step #1 to Creating Awesome Content: Grab their Attention

I wish I could tell you that the title of your content doesn’t matter anymore, that your content’s readers, visitors, viewers and listeners have grown more discerning in the past couple years and now it’s all about the quality of your content: the expertise, experience and analysis you throw painstakingly into each and every article, podcast, video and presentation.

Unfortunately, I can’t do that for you.

Your content’s title is hugely important to its success – not just because of search optimization but for clickability, shareability and engage-ability.

Without a title that snaps, grabs the eye, intrigues, frustrates, scares or humors, your content will fall flat on its face, no matter that it’s the second coming of Gangnam Style.

Content Title Formulas that Work:

  • New! Never-before-seen Insights into [your Job/Sector/Relevant Subject]
  • Exclusive Strategies from [Sector Expert/Authority/Boss]
  • 23 Things you Need to Know in Order to [Succeed in Some Way]
  • 10 Tricks to [Achieve a Goal]
  • How [Your Field/Relevant Subject] is Like…
  • How I [Did Something Unbelievable/Surprising/Awesome/Terrible]
  • 16 [Amazing/Awesome/Sexy] Things you Need to Hear About
  • Are you Making this Huge Error that’s [Leading to a Bad Result]?
  • How do you do [Activity]?
  • 52 Ways to [Improve in Your Job/Your Sector/Relevant Subject]

Step #2 to Creating Awesome Content: Optimize for More than SEO

It’s taken me a bit too long to accept this fact, but fact it is nonetheless: SEO is antiquated and incomplete, a universal term of use we should steer away from.

Let me back that up, because I hear some of our SEO readers sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches.

Optimizing your content for search is still hugely important, but we should stop using it as an umbrella phrase when what we actually mean is optimizing for readership, engagement and conversion.

Optimizing your Content for Readership:

This is the general SEO stuff: the strategies we implement to get our content to the top of the front page of Google.

  • Use H1s (title) and H2s (sub-headers) and where applicable. Ensure these include keywords.
  • Put alt text on your content’s images and videos relevant to the content’s subject.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing (keep it to about 1 in 25, depending on sector).
  • Place meta tags within your content.
  • Consider long-tail search keywords and niche topics (rather than competing with the corporations).
  • Link intelligently by including keywords in your links. Never use “Click <here> for more information”. Instead use, “Learn more about SEO in my article <How to Easily Optimize your Blog for Search>” (see how I did that?).

Optimizing your Content for Engagement:

Content engagement, also known as social shares and comments, is not only important because of the Hummingbird Algorithm (Google’s update to SEO a year ago that placed more importance on social endorsements) but because the more your content is shared, the more readers you have. Duh!

  • Have a title optimized for SEO and another title optimized for social platforms (shorter, more Buzzfeed-like). Include one in your URL and a different one in your social toolbars.
  • Ensure your content’s header is social-friendly so it shows up whole on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Include “Tweetable” statistics or takeaways (with a link) throughout your content to encourage a specific social share.
  • Ask for questions, comments or examples from your readers at the end of articles.
  • Be an active commenter on other people’s sites (as well as your own).

Optimizing your Content for Conversion:

We’re blogging for business here, not musing about the trials and tribulations of maternity (unless you are… In which case you still need to be optimizing your content for conversion!)

Think about it, is there any real point in your article being at the top of Google’s search results or having a million readers a week if nobody’s acting on your CTA buttons, downloading your ebooks, registering for a free trial or subscribing to your email list?

No. No there’s not.

Here are a few ways you can optimize your content for a real-world conversion (something that helps your business in a concrete, measurable way):

  • Include links to your email-gated content on the sidebar and bottom of your blog articles, podcasts, webinars and Slideshares.
  • Implement click pop-ups and email subscription toolbars so readers or viewers don’t have to be sent to a separate landing page and tab to convert.
  • Don’t link to competitors.
  • Link to related articles and resources on your site (increasing the value of engagement) and external content where you’re business is mentioned (increasing the level of trust and authority).
  • Test CTA button copy to determine what “Ask” resonates most with your readers.
  • Implement exit pop-ups promoting email-gated content relevant to your content’s subject matter. For instance, implement an exit pop-up with “want to learn everything there is to know about landing pages?” and show it to unique visitors (once!) as they go to leave the page.

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Step #3 to Creating Awesome Content: Format Your Article Intelligently

The longer you can keep a reader looking at your page, the less likely they are to leave it, the more likely they are to share it, and the more likely they are to convert on one of your “Asks” spread across your optimized blog.

Your title, hook and introduction get them to stay for the first 10 seconds (the most crucial section of your article as, if they stay for more than 10 seconds, the chance of them leaving drops like a rock):

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 10.41.26 am

Beyond those first ten seconds, your articles (or podcasts or webinars) needs to be structured to encourage readers to stick with it and stay engaged.

Here are a few best practices that will help you do that:

  • Segment your articles with bold, clearly visible subheaders that grab the eye of your reader.
  • Include an image once every segment (if possible) to keep the reader visually stimulated.
  • Use bullet-points or numbered lists in your sections to communicate your message or advice clearly and quickly. This also increases the chance that someone skim reading will pause for a moment.
  • In both podcasts and webinars, give a short breakdown of the points you’re going to cover at the beginning
  • Where possible, include exclusive tips and tricks (in all types of content) that you tease your audience with at the beginning and only include at the end. In webinars and podcasts, test hiding your big secret without telling people when exactly it’s going to be.

 

Step #4 to Creating Awesome Content: Incorporate Awesome Images

Articles with images are shared twice as much as those without.

But I’d like to emphasize that it’s not just any image that encourages a share or keeps a reader scrolling. You have to be using awesome images.

Put time into original image content (even if you’re just drawing over and citing someone else’s pie chart). Put time into getting to know PhotoShop, GIMP, even Google Drawings or Presentations.

For instance, I made this with the Google Presentation tool in about 6 minutes:

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 10.43.35 am

I know. It’s awesome.

Images not only encourage social sharing, communicate data and statistics quickly and grab the eye of the reader, they also humanize your business and make your articles more visually appealing and scrollable.

When used badly, however, they can cause your readers to go elsewhere, your articles to flop socially, and your authority to decrease significantly.

Stock images, for instance, are increasingly recognizable for what they are. As a result, they’re increasingly becoming one of the chief causes of a page bounce:

I mean, c’mon:

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Put that little bit more time into your content. Find the Google Images “Labeled for Reuse” or subscribe to one of the million photo sites and use the least “stocky” images you can find.

And don’t force an image. They should always serve a purpose (as “teamwork” rarely, if ever, would above). Instead, communicate the stuff that adds to the value of your article (statistics, case studies, industry report findings, etc) in a visually appealing way.

 

Step #5 to Creating Awesome Content: Be Unique

Content audiences (the people that listen, read and watch your content) are fickle creatures. They’re skim-readers, hyped up on coffee with not enough time on their hands and an urgent desire to, essentially, channel-surf content.

Channel surfing is actually a pretty solid analogy now that I think about it.

Your content audience is like a TV watcher before we had Netflix: sitting slouched on their couch hitting the “up” button on their remote control, searching for something they haven’t seen before. More often than not they’re disappointed (as your “10 Marketing Best Practices You Haven’t Seen Before” article is a blatant lie).

But sometimes they land on your article, give it the standard three seconds, and decide they’ll put the remote control down on the couch, cross their arms, and watch.

But how do you ensure your content engages your reader more than the other 100,000 shows on TV right now?

Tell a Story:

People like content relevant to them. Even more than that they like content relevant to them written by an author recognizable to them with a story they can relate to. The more like your reader you can be, the better your content will be.

That’s not to say you don’t have to tie your story into genuine, professional analysis of changes or best practices in your sector – but make it interesting and make it recognizable.

Be Honest:

Transparency in marketing is becoming best practice (just look at Buffer if you want to know what I’m talking about). It’s about being an open, honest, modern company – a company that plays foil to the murky, underground goings-on of multinational corporate giants or the federal government.

Consider articles entitled something like:

  • “5 Lead Generations That are Working for Us Right Now”
  • “The 10 A/B Testing Mistakes I Tried that Failed Miserably, and Why”
  • “10 TImes I was the Mayor of Fashion Faux Pas City”
  • “5 Divorce Mistakes I Wish I’d Known About”
  • “A Step-By-Step Guide to Our Sales Funnel”

Be Yourself:

What is it about you as a content creator that sets you above your competitors. Is it your ability to pump out content, your silky-smooth podcast voice, or your never-ending anecdotes that entertain and educate?

Increasingly your content audience is looking for something to differentiate you (and your content) from that of your competitors. It’s like when applying for university or a job: readers are receiving thousands of applications every day and they’re struggling to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Here’s what I recommend: make your application bright pink, printed on poster paper, covered in golden glitter, or make it a pop-up book. Do something that sets you apart.

A few recommendations to set your content apart:

  • Become a visuals guru, incorporating awesome graphics into every one of your articles, videos, webinars and ebooks. It might take you longer, but it’s worth testing the ROI.
  • Create a content persona, mascot or alter ego – something to make your content entertaining.
  • Find the niche in your niche, and own it. Be the go-to expert on a specific part of your sector.

Or, honestly, just get creative every once in a while (I’m not talking about every single article) but test adding personality to your content periodically to see what kind of return you get.

Conclusion

Hopefully that’s given you a refresher course (or even an educational one) on how to optimize your content for readership, engagement and loyalty.

Content marketing is officially (there’s no arguing anymore) the best way to increase your business’ online profile, generate leads and ensure brand authority. It can be a challenge though, don’t get me wrong.

My main recommendation for creating content that snaps, crackles and pops is to put time into how you start your article. Focus on finding the right topic, the right title, the right structure and the right way to make it different. Then start writing.

 

Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger

Build a Better Blog in 31 Days

The 5 Step Voyage of Creating Awesome Content


@ProBlogger

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