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Content Writing: Using Words to Benefit Your Business

Content Writing

How Content Writing Can Benefit You

Content WritingRunning a business is hard work. Some days, there is so much to do that it’s difficult to keep track of all the tasks you’re responsible for. Add to this the increasing demand for marketing yourself online, and you have one mighty to-do list. How can you find the time to reach out to your potential customers? That’s where content writing and marketing come into play. Writing content is a process that should be tackled continually over time. Making your content writing a regular part of your day can help this task feel like less of a burden, and it can also help you create more engaging content. Here are a few examples of ways to use your content marketing strategy to benefit your business.

Highlight the strengths of your business

Many businesses find it a struggle to communicate effectively with their target audience. Finding the time to produce a weekly newsletter or blog can help you reach out to both current and potential customers. Writing content can assist you in highlighting what you and your company do best. A content writing strategy can ensure that you stay on track while meeting your communication needs.

Ensure professional results

Establishing an online presence is not just a matter of purchasing a website domain. It requires knowledge of many areas of the online industry. To get the most out of your content writing efforts, you need to educate yourself about the basics of search engine optimization—that is, using tactics to drive traffic to your website. Although acquiring knowledge of website design is not an easy undertaking, it will be worth it to ensure you get the professional results you’re looking for.

Compete with big companies

Most big businesses can afford to outsource their content marketing. They may also spend a great deal of money on paid advertisements. However, not all businesses are large enough to support this kind of spending. The financial benefits of a content writing strategy mean you can focus on developing quality content to establish your brand over time. Your smaller budget doesn’t limit the level of expertise you can offer to your audience, just as it doesn’t take away from the quality of the services you provide. A content marketing strategy, when executed properly, can help you expand your brand to compete with big businesses without the added expense of paid advertisements.

An up-to-date strategy will help you avoid outdated content

One of the cardinal rules of website management is not allowing your content to get stale. Outdated content can be a huge hindrance to attracting readers and clients looking for fresh information. When your site looks old, it implies that your company either has a lack of organization or does not have sufficient resources to support itself. Making your content writing strategy an integral part of your business strategy means that someone is always keeping track of your website maintenance schedules. Keeping your website content current shows that you are relevant and worthy of the consideration of your site visitors.

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Why Keyword Research Isn’t as Hard as You Think

Why Keyword Research Isn't as Hard as You ThinkResearch: You dreaded it in high school, you learned to loathe it during college or university, and you swore an oath to avoid it as much as possible after graduation. Now you’ve started your own business, and you’re working on optimizing your website for search engines. You can’t help but notice that the word “research” keeps creeping up everywhere. It’s not just any research—it’s keyword research, and you have no idea how to do it. You don’t want to know how to do it. You swore off formal research long ago, and you’re determined to stick to your convictions.

Well, my stubborn friend, it’s time to start breaking some oaths, because keyword research is an inevitable necessity of search engine optimization (SEO). Here is a simple guide to teach you how to do keyword research. I promise to make it seem as little like research as possible, though I do have to point out that your reading this article is actually research. (Sorry to burst your “keeping-my-oath-no-matter-what” bubble.)

Step 1: Use Common Sense

You’ve used a search engine before, right? Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the last two decades (in which case I applaud your business aspirations), there’s no way you aren’t extremely familiar with search engines like Google. Because you already have lots of experience as a searcher, the initial stage of keyword research is easy. All you have to do is think about what you would search for if you were looking for content like the content you’re trying to optimize. So, first you need to pick the page(s) you’re optimizing.

Let’s start with an obvious one—your home page. If your company sells energy-efficient lightbulbs, your home page is basically going to say, “We sell this specific type of lightbulb because it’s better than other lightbulbs.” So, what would a searcher type in if they were looking for a company like yours that they didn’t yet know existed? Make a list of possible search terms. For example:

Keyword List Examples

You can also conduct keyword research before you write a blog post. Think broadly about the topic you’re hoping to write about. Again, make a list of possible words and phrases people could type to get them to a blog post about that topic. If you complete your keyword research before writing something, you can integrate those keywords more organically into your prose, which will help you avoid keyword stuffing (which is including keywords too frequently, making your writing sound awkward and unnatural).

Step 2: Start Your Research

Now that you have a general list of keywords to investigate further, you’re going to need to use a keyword tool. The most common tool for keyword research is the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Plug the list of potential keywords and phrases you came up with in the first step into the Keyword Planner.

The first thing you need to look at is the average monthly search volume for each keyword or phrase you’ve searched. Discard low-volume keywords. You might also need to get rid of keywords with extremely high search volumes, especially if these words are not directly related to your page. For example, the keyword “lightbulb” will have a much higher search volume than “energy efficient lightbulbs,” but the latter will be more likely to attract the right kind of visitors to your site: visitors who are more likely to convert to leads and then to customers. Finally, check the level of competition for each search term; the higher the competition level, the less likely you are to rank high for that keyword.

Keyword Planner Example

Step 3: Check Out Your Competition

Okay, so you’ve narrowed your first list down according to search volume. You should have a considerably shorter list to work with now. The next step is to see what your competition is up to. This part is simple. Just search for each potential keyword and see what results you get. If the results page is dominated by major brands or giant companies, don’t use that keyword. You’re not going to beat gigantic brands for the top spot, and if your site never makes it into at least the top 10 of the search page results, no one is going to click on you. You’ll have better results if you use a less popular keyword but make it into the top results for that keyword.

The other thing you need to do in this stage is to ensure that your keyword or phrase means what you think it means. If your search term tends to get results about something completely unrelated to what your company is selling, you need a new keyword.

If you complete the third step and find none of your original keyword ideas work, never fear! Go back to the second step, and look at the keywords suggested by Keyword Planner. Then proceed to the third step again.

Step 4: The Final Step

Congratulations! You’ve learned how to do keyword research. The next step is integrating those keywords into your copy for maximum SEO benefits. Check out this article to learn where you can place those well-researched keywords you’ve decided to use.

Image source: felixioncool/Pixabay.com

 

Inklyo's free ebook, 17 SEO Myths You Should Stop Believing.

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15 Ways to Fail at Social Media Marketing

Ways to Fail at Social Media

Ways to Fail at Social Media You’ve accepted the importance of social media marketing for your business. You’ve read all the statistics about the increasing value of social media for your content marketing plan, and you’ve begun integrating social media into your business strategy. Good for you! You’re already in the game. While other people are still trying to figure out how to tie their skates, you’re out there doing laps and taking practice shots. But how many of those shots are you missing?

When it comes to social media marketing, there’s a lot to learn. Between all the various networking sites and blogs—not to mention other aspects of your marketing plan—social media can be overwhelming. If you never learn the rules, you’re never going to have the competitive edge you need. You’ll never gain the audience you want if you aren’t creating and sharing the right kind of content, and as a result, you might never be able to come up with clever sports analogies for your blog posts. (Also, you know, your conversion rates may suffer.) So, because I know you’re eager to dazzle your loyal fans and prospective customers with your new-found aptitude for social media, here are 15 marketing fails to avoid when using social media marketing for your business.

1. Bragging

Here’s the thing: for one reason or another, your fans and followers already like you. Maybe they want to keep an eye out for promotions, maybe they’ve purchased from you before and are big on brand loyalty, or maybe they just like your blog posts. The bottom line here is that, in some way, you’ve already won them over. So, unless you’re determined to change their minds, don’t spend all your time on social media bragging about how great your company is. It’s a big turnoff for your followers, 45% of whom will probably unfollow you if you’re too heavy on the self-promotion.

2. Being Antisocial

It’s in the name: social media. The whole point is to reach out and create a community based on your company or brand. Not being social on social media is like holding a press conference and refusing to answer any questions. Take advantage of your social media accounts by retweeting, sharing, and responding to your followers.

3. Treating Social Media as a Side Project

Social media editors have borne the brunt of many jokes over the past few years. You may still think you don’t need a person dedicated to managing sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. Depending on the size of your business, you may or may not be correct; you may actually need several people dedicated to your social media. The fact is, social media marketing done right can lead to a huge increase in conversions for your company. Don’t believe me? Here’s some food for thought: companies that generate more than 1,000 Likes for their Facebook pages also tend to receive approximately 1,400 website visits per day, and approximately 46% of online visitors take social media into account when they make purchase decisions. Take advantage of social media by investing time and money into your social media strategy.

4. Inconsistency: A Copywriter’s Nightmare

The copy on your social media pages needs to be consistent with your brand’s voice. While you may need to take a slightly different approach to tweets than you do to blog posts, your overall tone needs to be consistent.

5. Ignoring Your Followers

Your social media followers aren’t just interested in what you have to say to them—they also want to be able to communicate with you quickly and conveniently. If someone asks you a question that you don’t answer, other followers will think you don’t care about your followers (and, by association, your customers). Take the time to respond to both positive and negative feedback. This may be especially important for negative feedback; 25% of consumers who use social media to complain about a product or experience expect a response within one hour of that complaint.

6. Automation Gone Wrong

Automation can be very helpful when you are managing social media across several different sites and platforms. However, as with everything, automation in social media can go too far. Make sure you have a human behind your social media to avoid embarrassing mishaps like these.

7. Not Measuring

Naturally, the consequences of not measuring your social media-related metrics are that you will never know whether what you’re doing is actually working. What you focus on measuring will depend on what your social media goals are: are you trying to drive traffic to your site, or are you trying to directly improve your ROI? Whatever your goals, you need to measure your social media metrics to see if you are achieving them.

8. Talking Their Ears Off

Don't bore your followers. Written posts are great, but visual content is better. I’m not saying you should trade all your blog posts in for videos, photos, and infographics, but you should integrate some visual content into your social media posts. If written material is all you have to offer, your followers are going to get bored.

9. Being Oblivious to Current Events

As I mentioned before, automation can be great when you’re managing several social media accounts. Using sites like Hootsuite to schedule your posts can save you lots of time; however, you need to remain aware of current events. There have been a few incidences of unintentionally insensitive social media posts being made by companies due to prescheduled posts, like this one. If some terrible tragedy has occurred, a tweet about your newest promotion or a funny dog meme will very likely come off as distasteful.

10. Forgetting that People Buy from People

Computers are extremely advanced, but they are not advanced enough to create content for social media sites—only humans can do that. So why are you emulating a robot in the copy on your social media sites? Your followers like seeing your human side. Tell some jokes, share some insider info about your office, or share a funny picture. Revealing the real people behind your brand will likely garner you some new (and human!) followers.

11. Repeating Yourself

Repurposing your content for different venues is good—repeatedly reusing the exact same content is not. Don’t bombard your followers with the same content in the same format. If you do, you’re running the risk that 21% of those followers will leave your social media page behind for good.

12. Winging It

Twitter's logo.When we’re talking about your personal Twitter account, you are totally free to “wing it.” Fly by the seat of your pants, go where the wind takes you, play it by ear—any clichéd expression about not making plans will work. But when it comes to your social media marketing, you need to have a plan. Creating and following through with a social media strategy will seriously improve the effectiveness of your social media efforts.

13. Providing Useless Content

Content marketing is all about creating and distributing quality content. You need to provide your followers with information they will not easily find elsewhere. This also includes the content you share; if your social media pages are a source of quality information on specific topics, it won’t matter if not all of this material was created by you. The hope here is that other people are sharing your original content on their social media sites too!

14. Being Sloppy

Typos, grammatical errors, and punctuation mistakes are never acceptable in your company’s social media posts. If you are careless about the quality of your posts, you are being careless about the number of followers you have, which of course means you are being careless about your company’s leads. If you need to invest in an editing service for your social media posts, do it. Do whatever you need to ensure that your posts are error-free.

15. Not Taking Social Media Seriously

If this article has done nothing else, I hope it has proved to you that social media marketing can and should be an integral part of your company’s marketing strategy. Your social media presence needs to be taken seriously, and that means avoiding gaffes like this. Avoid social media fails by making sure your employees understand the importance of your company’s social media strategy.

Image sources: Counselling/Pixabay.com, Wojtek Witkowski/Stocksnap.io, Nemo/Pixabay.com

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What Your Competitors Can Teach You About Website Optimization

What Your Competitors Can Teach You About Website Optimization

What Your Competitors Can Teach You About Website OptimizationIn 2010, Simon Sinek’s TED talk about the Golden Circle of marketing took intellectuals and business-minded Internet audiences by storm. Labeled like something out of Greek mythology and sounding at first like holistic cutesy talk, the Golden Circle is actually grounded in specific behavioral science, and it quickly transfixed audiences.

Sinek’s theory illustrates an approach to marketing that stems from the why as opposed to the what; in short, companies that appeal to our gut reactions are more successful than those that attempt to influence our decision making by telling us about their products. Consumers are more swayed by why a company / activist / organization does what it does than by what it actually does. The “gut reaction” function of the brain affects decision making far more effectively than rationalization does.

Now apply this to online marketing. Think about what gut reaction your company’s website may trigger. Researchers at the content marketing super-site HubSpot found that users judge the appearance of a website in 1/50th to 1/20th of a second. The concept of website optimization is nothing new, but it is still largely underestimated or underemployed by myriads of businesses and not-for-profit organizations alike.

Simple website analysis reveals that the most effectively optimized websites are those that follow the Golden Circle. They convince by relaying why the company does what it does. Their aesthetics trigger an instant positive reaction from visitors, and easy navigation and well-designed landing pages enable the swift conversion of why-inspired visitors.

Don’t be afraid to learn from your competitors. Here are a few examples of companies and organizations that have got this website optimization thing down.

1. Coin

The brilliance of Coin’s website happens as you scroll down. Granted, some visitors won’t bother to do so, but the overall spectacular design and eye-catching (without being distracting or obnoxious) animations encourage users to continue down the page. From there, this website truly embraces the Golden Circle method for website optimization. The best part? The call to action (CTA) of “Get Yours First” that allows newly convinced consumers to believe they’re jumping on board ahead of the crowd.

  • Changing custom background to target different user personalities
  • Visually interesting, interactive experience
  • Explains benefits and relates the product to real-life situations
  • CTAs at both the top and bottom of the page
  • Stellar CTA statement

2. ZURB

Simple, beautiful, and to the point, ZURB’s homepage lets you know who they are as a company and utilizes a truly brilliant CTA. In addition to its perfect use of color and design, “ZURB in 30 Seconds” is hard to pass up; who wouldn’t want all their questions answered in half a minute?

ZURB's Homepage.

  • Phenomenal CTA
  • Direct message about who they are and what users have to gain
  • Easy navigation (as you scroll down) that provides clear answers to user questions

3. Panera Bread (mobile)

Most online consumers have experienced trying to access a website from a mobile device, only to discover awkward layouts, teeny-tiny fonts, and agonizingly slow load times. The reaction? An immediate backward swipe, especially when expensive data usage is at stake. Websites like Panera Bread, which employs unique optimization for both desktop and mobile devices, are very much ahead of the game. Panera Bread’s mobile site is attractive, functional, and—most importantly—user-friendly on a small screen.

  • Large, clear, easy-to-use navigation
  • Simple, attractive aesthetics
  • Designed to immediately meet user needs
  • Shareable on social media

4. You Need a Budget

Think about what a user probably asked Google: “How can I balance my budget?” comes to mind. You Need a Budget presents immediate answers to that and similar questions, minimizing user effort (crucial in today’s online culture of instant gratification).

The You Need A Budget Homepage.

  • Several clear, relevant CTAs
  • Talks about user benefits rather than products
  • Demonstrates the company’s driving beliefs to encourage trust
  • Visible free-product offer

Conclusion

When optimizing your website, remember the Golden Circle—demonstrate that your company is genuine, believes in what it does, and offers a great product. Trigger positive gut reactions from visitors by making your website a delight to look at and easy to navigate, and transform those same visitors into customers or donors with easy-to-find, direct, and inviting CTAs. Remember that first reactions to your website and user friendliness will do a huge chunk of your sales pitch for you. Once that gut instinct happens, visitors can use the additional pages of your informative, well-laid-out website to rationalize the affirmative decision they’ve already made.

Image sources: Vladimir Galkin2012/BigStockPhoto.com, Gumption Inc. (used with permission), Zurb.com (used with permission), You Need a Budget (used with permission)

Inklyo's free ebook, 25 Website Essentials For Boosting Traffic, Leads, And Sales.
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Buyer Personas, Blog Posts, and Dogs: An Introduction to Content Marketing

An Introduction to Content Marketing

An Introduction to Content MarketingThe Internet has changed the way we do everything, and marketing and sales are no exception. Having an active website is vital to the visibility and reach of your business, which means that your website can directly influence the success of your sales. So how do you keep your website active and your business booming?

Two words, my friend: content marketing. If you do it right, content marketing will take your business to the next level. But before we get any further, let me introduce you to someone.

Meet Maximus Barker. Mr. Barker recently started his own business, Doggy Dopamine. Doggy Dopamine’s mission is to help people who are experiencing depression or who are just having a rough day by lending them a dog. People can sign up their friends or family members for a doggy date, and after a thorough background check has been conducted, a dog friend is delivered to the client’s door. People can also sign themselves up. Mr. Barker is just getting his business off the ground, and he knows that spreading awareness via the Internet will increase his popularity and improve his business. But how can Mr. Barker use content marketing practices to promote his business and increase his sales? Let’s start by looking at what content marketing is and how it can be applied practically.

What is content marketing?

Doggy Dopamine AdContent marketing involves creating high-quality content and distributing that content across different venues. This content should be informative; it should answer a question or fulfill a need for its intended reader or viewer. Companies that practice content marketing aim to become trusted sources of useful information, thus establishing themselves as authorities on topics relevant to their products or services.

The ultimate goal of providing this information is to attract more visitors who, over time, will convert into leads. Some of these leads can then become customers or clients. Content can include blog posts, infographics, videos, ebooks, and more.

In the case of Doggy Dopamine, Mr. Barker may want to focus on a few areas in his content marketing. He’ll want to provide information about dogs, such as dog care, training, and specific information about different breeds of dogs. For example, blog posts like “How to Train a Puppy” and “Training Your Dog According to Breed” would help attract the kind of audience Mr. Barker is seeking. He may even want to have some humorous content about dogs, as this kind of content would be sure to attract dog lovers.

Mr. Barker will also need to create content regarding depression, trauma, and other mood-related topics. Articles or blog posts about how spending time with dogs can improve mood and alleviate depressive symptoms would also be relevant to Doggy Dopamine; this material would appeal to visitors during a later stage of the buyer’s journey, a topic I’ll discuss in greater detail later.

Why content marketing?

Picture this: Mr. Barker knocks on a stranger’s front door. “Hi,” he says, “My name is Maximus Barker, and I run a business called Doggy Dopamine. Would you like to find out how you can lend a dog to a friend in need?” The homeowner, Mrs. Modern, politely declines. Mr. Barker tries one more time, saying, “Did you know that spending time with a dog has a positive effect on mood? Let me tell you all about it—” Mrs. Modern cuts him off. “No, thank you,” she says, “If I want to learn more, I’ll just Google it.”

Mrs. Modern doesn’t know who Mr. Barker is. She doesn’t know where he came from or whether he’s running a legitimate business. And, smart lady that she is, she will never buy anything from someone she knows nothing about. That’s because, unlike the consumers of days past, Mrs. Modern has the resource she needs to find any information she wants about dogs, depression, Doggy Dopamine, or even Mr. Barker himself: the Internet.

If you don’t give prospective clients the information they seek, someone else will. It doesn’t matter how much you boast about your products or services. The fact is, your readers won’t decide that they need or want these products or services based on your advertisement of them; instead, they will acquire all the information they need to decide if buying from you is necessary. You need to be the source of that information: enter content marketing.

Okay, so how do I use content marketing?

There are four basic steps involved in content marketing. I could go into each of them in greater depth, but here are the basics:

Step 1: Identify your target audience(s).

If you think that everyone and their grandmothers will be interested in your business, you’re wrong. There are just too many businesses out there offering too many services––they can’t all be for everyone. Instead, each business needs to establish its target groups, also known as buyer personas. A buyer persona is essentially a fictional example of an ideal customer––that is, someone who both wants and is able to buy your product or service. Relevant information to identify buyer personas includes demographic details, motivations, barriers your personas may face, and problems they need to solve. These buyer personas should be research-based.

There are a few ways to research buyer personas, but the easiest and most direct way is to talk to your existing clients. Surveys are a great way to gather the necessary information, as are interviews. This blog post goes into greater depth about what information is needed to create a buyer persona. Once you have determined whom you’re writing for, it will be much easier to produce content tailored to these groups.

Mr. Barker identified three distinct buyer personas for Doggy Dopamine: university students, aging adults, and people who have recently lost pets. Here are the basic details for each persona:

University students: Males and females in their early twenties. They either live in student housing or with several roommates. They usually don’t have pets of their own, as they don’t have the space, time, or money to care for a pet properly. They’re often under serious stress caused by assignments, and they’re prone to depression or anxiety around exam times. They’re very active on social media sites, which is where Doggy Dopamine should primarily be promoted for this group.

Aging adults: Many are widows or widowers. Their children are grown, and they spend much of their time alone. Many of them are unable to commit to the lifespan of a new pet, or they’re physically unable to care for a pet on a daily basis. This group is less likely to visit social media sites. Traditional marketing may be a better fit for aging adults; however, their children or other family members will often sign them up for doggy dates. The children of the aging adult group can be targeted mostly online. Simple, concise writing is best for the aging adult group as opposed to the more casual and humorous tone that is popular with university students.

People who have recently lost pets: They are grieving from the loss of their own animals. Employing the services of Doggy Dopamine can help them make the transition from having a pet to not having one. They may also use Doggy Dopamine to determine if they want to adopt new pets for themselves. They tend to be middle-aged individuals with families. They often have young children at home, and information about how caring for a pet is good for child development will likely sway them in the direction of trying Doggy Dopamine.

Doggy Dopamine Buyer Personas

Step 2: Create content for each persona based on different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Understanding the buyer’s journey is essential to a successful content marketing strategy. There are three stages to the buyer’s journey: the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage. Different types of content need to be created for each stage.

In the awareness stage, the individual knows they have a problem to solve, but they haven’t yet defined that problem. Because they have yet to define their problem, they haven’t come up with possible solutions yet, either. They’re doing general research to figure out exactly what their problem is. A university student in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey may be browsing the Internet for funny videos of animals or other funny content. If Doggy Dopamine has funny dog videos or memes, there’s a good chance the university student will end up seeing this content.

This type of content should be shared on Doggy Dopamine’s social media sites. Hopefully, seeing this content will lead them directly to the Doggy Dopamine site, thereby making the student more aware of the fact that they were seeking that content because seeing dogs made them feel better. Not all material in the awareness stage will lead viewers directly to conclusions; instead, it may just make them aware that a company or brand exists, even if they aren’t sure what that company does.

In the consideration stage, the individual has identified and defined their problem, and they’re now researching solutions. The aging adult is now aware that they are lonely, and they’re investigating different options for interaction. Doggy Dopamine needs to capitalize on these needs by creating content to show how caring for an animal can help reduce loneliness. The adult may have already determined that he or she would like to have a pet or to care for an animal; in this case, Doggy Dopamine needs to provide content about how fostering an animal can have the same positive effects as adopting a pet, but without the same level of obligation.

The key to all of this content is that the information needs to be true—it needs to be credible, and it needs to actually help the adult make the decision that is right for them. Not all adults in this stage will end up choosing Doggy Dopamine, but there’s no way that any of them will if they aren’t aware that it’s an option. A blog would probably be the best venue for this content, and it should also contain links to other reputable sites on the topic. If Doggy Dopamine doesn’t contribute useful information on this topic, the adult will look elsewhere for it.

In the final stage of the buyer’s journey, the decision stage, the individual has decided on a solution to the problem. All that’s left is to choose which service or product to use. The person is compiling a list of possible vendors and comparing what they offer (and at what price). A person who has recently lost a pet has determined that they’re still feeling sad because of this loss. They have decided against adopting another animal right away, as they’re not ready to make that commitment. Instead, they’re going to foster an animal. They may foster through an organization like the Humane Society, or they may use the services of a company like Doggy Dopamine. Their biggest decision factor is how much responsibility they want to have for the animal.

In this final stage of the buyer’s journey, Doggy Dopamine can be much more explicit about what it’s actually trying to sell. It doesn’t need to emphasize why the individual needs this service; instead, it needs to provide thorough information about what the service entails and how much it costs. For someone who has recently lost a pet, the important thing for Doggy Dopamine to outline is how easy and carefree the process of a doggy date is. Doggy Dopamine also needs to show the individual that the dogs are well cared for, that they all belong to loving homes, etc.

Step 3: Distribute the content.

Content that isn’t seen is as useless as music that isn’t heard. Be sure to distribute your content to make the most of your material. Possible venues for distribution include your blog, other blogs (via guest posting), social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.), SlideShare, email, and content syndication sites like Outbrain. Try to repurpose content wherever you can to ensure that you get the most out of it. For example, if Mr. Barker writes a great blog post about how to train a beagle, he may also want to create a SlideShare using this article. If this garners enough attention, Mr. Barker may even consider creating an ebook on training specific breeds of dogs.

Step 4: Track your progress.

Track Your ProgressContent marketing isn’t about guesswork. You need to test what you’re doing to make sure it’s attracting unique visitors and converting some of those visitors into leads. You need to keep track of metrics like page views, social shares, and lead conversions. This article goes into greater depth on metrics. Google Analytics is the program of choice for most basic tracking of content marketing. It can track things like who visited your site (i.e., demographics, interests, behaviors, location), how much time visitors spent on your site, how many visits they made, which visitors read or shared your content, and which purchased your product or service.

If Mr. Barker uses Google Analytics, he can track each of his three buyer personas. For example, he can follow university students who visit his site, from their first share of a funny dog video to their viewing of one of his site’s landing pages. If Mr. Barker finds that most of his university students who make it to this landing page don’t actually end up converting to a lead or sale, he can make changes to the page and then conduct tests to see if those changes increase his conversions or sales for this landing page.

Conclusion

Now Mr. Barker knows how to get started with content marketing, and hopefully, you do, too. There’s still so much to learn, though, so why don’t you check out some of Inklyo’s content marketing blog posts? If you like what you read, don’t hesitate to give us a shout on Twitter or Facebook. We always love to hear from you.

Image sources: Jay Mantri/StockSnap.io, kreeperf/Pixabay.com, cherylholt/Pixabay.com, Almadrava/Pixabay.com, Sevenheads/Pixabay.com, Sumall.com

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The Honest Guide to Content Marketing Jargon

The Honest Guide to Content Marketing Jargon

The Honest Guide to Content Marketing JargonUpon entering the always glamorous world of content marketing, I found myself overwhelmed by what I initially thought to be a lot of really important terminology. It seemed for a while like no one was even speaking English; content marketing had a language all its own. Terms like bounce rate, conversion, unique visitors, anchor text, buyer’s journey, and search engine optimization seemed to be thrown around in conversation and in content marketing blog posts in a steady stream, and I had no idea what any of these words meant.

As a newbie, I was pretty concerned about my lack of knowledge. I lost sleep about it. Well, I considered losing sleep about it. Then I had a nap.

Anyway, now I do know what those terms mean, and I finally understand why no one ever wanted to explain them to me. This is because after working in content marketing for a while, you realize what these principles are really about. Sure, there are real, technical definitions for each of the following terms, but anyone who’s ever worked in content marketing knows that these honest explanations are far more accurate.

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How do I make search engines like me? What do I have to do to be popular? Cut my hair differently? Wear designer clothes? Drive a nicer car? No matter how desperately I try to keep up with the trends, I’m always a step behind. What do you mean, Google has a new algorithm?! Can’t they just pick a bird already?

2. Call-to-action (CTA)

Dear Website Visitor: I bought you flowers, took you out on a lovely date, and told you how beautiful you are. And I even meant it. Then I texted you today, and I got no response. I’m not asking you to marry me, for goodness’ sake––I just want to know if you like me! I just want some positive attention! Can’t you reciprocate a little bit? (Answer a CTA, though, and you’re basically asking me to propose. Just so you know.)

3. Evergreen Content

You know what never goes out of style? Puppies. You always have a safe bet with puppies in your content. Puppies drinking water, puppies running in fields, puppies falling over their own clumsy little feet—anything with puppies will do. Who cares if it’s relevant to your company? It’s evergreen.

4. Twitter Marketing

You might not even know what my company sells, but you do know that we’re really good at being clever in under 140 characters. #winning

5. A/B Testing

Which jeans make me look less fat: the blue ones or the red ones? Red? Are you sure? Will I get more dates if I wear these? How many more dates? Can you please give me some quantified data here?

6. HyperText Markup Language (HTML)

I’m sorry. I don’t speak Computer.

7. PageRank

I’m thinking about running for homecoming queen, but I’m a bit concerned that I won’t be able to get enough votes to win. I’m trying to introduce myself to as many of my classmates as possible, but it turns out that people don’t want to be your friend when you clearly just want them to vote for you. It’s not that I don’t have any friends––it’s just that none of them happen to go to this school, and apparently that means their votes “don’t count.” The injustice of life’s popularity contest, I tell you!

8. “The Ultimate Guide to Content Marketing”

The Barely Adequate Excuse for Information that May or May Not Be Vaguely Related to Content Marketing.

9. Landing Page

Muahaha! Now that I have you here, there’s only one way out! Bye bye, navigation! Hello, conversions! (What’s that, you say? You don’t like giving up your personal information? Well, tough cookies, bub! You’re going to have to give me something valuable for this ebook I’ve been slaving over!)

10. Content Marketer

A brilliant mind who can spin anything to make it relate to almost any industry. Fueled by coffee, this magical creature is constantly seeking ways to make even the most mundane information exciting. As a highly trained wizard, this professional can bring a once-invisible brand into the public eye. Though generally even-tempered, the content marketer does not take well to ill-placed puns or bad grammar.

If you’re still new to the world of content marketing, the above list must have confused the heck out of you. Never fear—there’s still lots of time for you to learn how to use landing pages with CTAs to improve your ROI and PageRank with evergreen content and SEO tactics. In other words, there’s still lots of time for you to learn how to become well-liked by (a) your target audience members and (b) search engines; all it takes is creating and distributing quality content.

Image sources: Khakimullin/BigStockPhoto.com, Marc Chouinard/StockSnap.io, Stux/Pixabay.com, Baruska/Pixabay.com

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The 12 Biggest Website Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

The 12 Biggest Website Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

The 12 Biggest Website Mistakes You Can Easily AvoidWebsites. These days, it seems like almost every business has one. From your favorite local sushi place to your tried-and-true bookstore, every business, big or small, can be found online. Businesses today need to have an online presence if they want to reach potential buyers. This presence includes having a variety of social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—whatever will help leverage their website and reach the most people.

Your company’s website is its virtual storefront, and it often gives potential buyers their first impression of what your company has to offer. Websites aren’t just nice to have—they’re an integral part of your inbound marketing strategy and will help you turn visitors into customers. With a great website, you’ll be able to attract, educate, and convince visitors to buy your products or services.

So, you have a website and people know you exist—great. But simply having a website won’t cut it. You need to stand out, be easily accessible, and know how to optimize your pages. Your website is the key to your inbound marketing strategy, so you need to know what to do—and what not to do—to avoid making website mistakes that will cost you time, energy, and, ultimately, business. You get out what you put in, so to help you put the most in, this article will outline the 12 biggest website mistakes and how you can avoid making them. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make mistakes; but if you do your research and follow these tips, you’ll be getting to the top of search engine rankings in no time.

So, what are the 12 biggest website mistakes?

Website Mistake #1: Not optimizing your website pages for searching.

Optimization is the act, process, or methodology of making something as perfect or functional as possible. In terms of the “inbound world,” website optimization mainly refers to SEO. What is SEO? It’s the process of making your website as functional as possible to get the most traffic on search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Just as described above, when your website is optimized, you’ll show up higher in search results, which will make people more likely to click on your website link. When optimizing your website, you’ll have to focus on using the right keywords, gaining quality inbound links, and employing other SEO tactics to get the top spot.

Website Mistake #2: Not optimizing your title tag and meta tags.

To truly optimize your website in terms of SEO, your title tag and meta tags must also be optimized. The title tag is an HTML element of a webpage that describes the content of the page. It’s one of the primary elements that search engine crawlers look at when evaluating that page’s relevance to a particular search term and when indexing pages. A meta tag is a line of code contained in the background of a webpage. Search engines look at meta tags to learn what a page is about. Both title tags and meta tags should contain keywords that will help increase your page ranking in search results.

Website Mistake #3: Not having any quality inbound links.

Website mistake #3: Not having any quality inbound links.According to HubSpot, an authority on inbound marketing and sales, “An inbound link is a link coming from another site to your own website. ‘Inbound’ is generally used by the person receiving the link.” Inbound links are necessary for search engine optimization (SEO) and referral traffic. The more inbound links you have, the higher your website will rank in search engine result pages. Think about it. When you search for something on Google, are you more likely to click the links at the top of the first page or the links on, say, page 5 or 15? I’m guessing it’s the links on the first page. This is why it’s so important to have quality inbound links; they will help get you the top spot in search results, making people much more likely to click on your page.

Website Mistake #4: Not having a professional, trustworthy design.

Now you have a website and traffic—yay! Your next order of business is to make sure these visitors stay long enough to consider buying your products or services. This means having a modern, professional, trustworthy website. As we mentioned earlier, your website gives potential buyers the first impression of your business, so it’s important to make it look good and reflect the quality of whatever you’re offering. Your website must look nice and be easy to navigate, so it’s important to be consistent with colors, images, layout, and navigation messaging. You want your website to have a certain flow to it, and going from one page to another or searching for things on your website should be seamless.

Website Mistake #5: Being more flashy than helpful.

On the same note as having a professional, trustworthy website with consistent design elements, you should also avoid being too flashy and over-the-top. The key is to strike a balance between form and function. While your website must look appealing and professional while being user friendly, it’s important not to make the mistake of going overboard with colors, images, fonts, and graphics. You don’t want to overwhelm your customers and scare them away; you want to invite them to explore (and stay on) your website. To avoid making this website mistake, focus on content first (that is, being helpful) and design second. While a pretty website might attract potential buyers, they won’t stay if there’s nothing of substance for them to take away.

Website Mistake #6: Not having a blog.

A blog is a great way to communicate with potential buyers and those browsing your website. Your blog should reflect the real, personable side of your business, and it should offer original, value-added content that can’t be found anywhere else. A blog is an additional way for you to complement your website and connect with your target audience. Having a blog allows you to:

  • create fresh content (and more pages of content), which is great for SEO;
  • become established as an industry authority and thought leader;
  • drive more traffic and leads back to your website;
  • converse and engage with your audience and customers; and
  • receive valuable inbound links.

The takeaway? Blog often (and not always about yourself), be transparent, and offer value-added content with each post. Be interesting, and show the real side of your business.

Website Mistake #7: Not answering the big questions: who, what, and why (and where, if needed).

You have a website to help answer your potential customers’ questions: who, what, and why (and where, if needed). You can’t just stick information on your pages with the hope that your message will make itself clear. You need to know your target audience and write for them. Furthermore, you need to know what you can help them with and why they need your products or services. They’ve come to your page for a reason, and your job is to offer a solution to whatever problem they’re having. But you can’t just answer one of these questions; you need to answer them all, and these answers need to work together to focus your potential buyers upon what you have to offer. Otherwise, potential buyers will leave your page once they realize they can’t find exactly what they’re looking for.

Website Mistake #8: Only selling instead of selling and educating.

Ah, here’s a big one. Today’s buyers want to be educated, not sold to. They don’t want products or services shoved in their faces. They want to know about what you’re selling and why your product or service is best suited to fill their needs. When they’re considering your product, they’re thinking, “What’s in it for me?” To tell them, you need to offer more than just product content on your website. While product content must be product-specific, you should also offer educational (and valuable) forms of content such as ebooks, videos, infographics, and other types of content that will nurture prospects through your marketing and sales funnel until they are ready to buy. These days, it’s about more than just a sales pitch; it’s about offering unique and valuable information as well.

Website Mistake #9: Using jargon and corporate gobbledygook.

You’ve heard the phrases: “think outside the box,” “ducks in a row,” “core competency,” “window of opportunity” . . . the list goes on. Gobbledygook is eye roll-inducing jargon language—terms and phrases—that has been overused and abused, thus rendering it meaningless. You know how annoying such terms and phrases are, so avoid using them on your website.

Website Mistake #10: Only using one form of content.

Only have a website with one type of content? Yikes! That’s simply not enough to reach your target audience and expand beyond them. Since you’re probably an avid consumer of various forms of media yourself, you know how interesting and engaging it can make content. You should be using multiple forms of content, including videos, images, and podcasts. Your goal is to reach a wide audience, and the best way to do so is to appeal to an array of different people. This means you need to include various forms of media on your website since simple webpages don’t appeal to everyone.

Website mistake #10: Only using one form of content.

Website Mistake #11: Making your website and its content static instead of dynamic.

Static websites are boring; they’re just not relevant to today’s Internet culture. They represent the bare minimum of what a website should be. They’re very basic and plain, maybe with a few Flash graphics and a campaign—not much to get excited about. On top of that, their content isn’t shareable, so it doesn’t go very far. These days, websites should integrate search, social media, content, and blogging. They should be multifaceted and create a positive and interactive user experience. The user should be able to do more, not less, than they were expecting to on your website. And since users want to be educated, you need to add variety and interest to the information you present to them. Traffic from blogs, social media, and organic and paid search results end up being converted into leads or sales on your main website, which is why having a dynamic website is so crucial.

Website Mistake #12: Being clever instead of clear.

When being dynamic, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting your point across clearly and not focusing simply on being clever. While being clever can help attract potential customers to your page, it won’t keep them there. They need clear information that will, again, help solve their problem and tell them why your product or service is the best for them. Being clear also helps you appear more trustworthy and professional, which will only improve your image in the minds of potential customers. While you can be both clever and clear, first and foremost, make sure your content is flawless, specific, and transparent—then add a touch of wittiness.

Image sources: Daria Nepriakhina/Stocksnap.io, Sylwia Bartyzel/Stocksnap.io, ADE2013/Shutterstock.com

Inklyo's free ebook, 25 Website Essentials For Boosting Traffic, Leads, And Sales.

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Top 7 Email Marketing Tools

Top 7 Email Marketing Tools

Email marketing tools provide powerful customer contact channels

Top 7 Email Marketing ToolsAs with most marketing activities, the Internet offers much more than merely implementing a digital version of paper-based systems. The email system linked to special email marketing tools can run an entire campaign that combines advertising, mail shots, customer tracking, sales conversion, and after-sales service. Check out these recommended email marketing tools to bring your marketing drive into the Digital Age.

1) MailChimp

One of the biggest advantages of email marketing tools over traditional, paper-based methods is that you can merge your customer data with the actual delivery system. You probably have a contact list in your home email system that allows you to create different email groups and note address and name data about each contact. Email marketing tools such as MailChimp expand the contact list feature to become mini customer relationship management tools. Rather than just noting a contact’s name and address, you can make notes about communications and sales to that customer in MailChimp. The system also allows you to create workflows to direct different groups and individual contacts to different email campaigns, setting up a series of emails to be sent out at specified intervals. MailChimp allows you to create graphic-rich emails, and, as with most email marketing tools these days, you can access the service from your smartphone.

2) HubSpot

HubSpot produces software for digital marketing. The company’s products include an email marketing tool. As with MailChimp, HubSpot’s email marketing tool includes a graphics editor to enable you to create the layout of your email. You can “merge” contact data with your email templates to create personalized emails. HubSpot’s email marketing tool has a lot of similarities with MailChimp’s offering. Like MailChimp, the system produces analytical reports and enables each contact’s communications and actions to be recorded. You can set up a workflow to sequence a series of emails to different contact groups and preview your emails with text in-boxes. One great advantage of the HubSpot email marketing tool is its ability to integrate with other HubSpot tools like HubSpot CRM and Sidekick. These enable you to integrate your presentation, sales and after-sales service into one customer contact database.

3) AWeber

AWeber is an email marketing tool based on autoresponders. An autoresponder is an automatic response to an incoming email or entry into a database. If you ever sent an email to a company and immediately received an email saying, “Thank you for contacting us; a specialist will contact you shortly,” then you have dealt with an autoresponder. As the name suggests, autoresponders are principally designed to respond to an initial incoming email. The very first email can be a post from a form on your website. You then set up a series of emails to send over a period of time to lists of different contacts. Because the entries in your contacts list are usually generated from a name and email address entered into a web form, you are unlikely to capture much information about your potential customers through AWeber. This email marketing tool includes HTML email formats and a library of email templates. AWeber offers a one-month trial for $1. After that, a subscription to the service costs $19 per month.

4) Constant Contact

Constant Contact is very similar to AWeber in that it is an email marketing tool based on autoresponders. The tool includes an email editor and a series of timed autoresponders to send an email campaign as a series of mails spaced over specified intervals. The service costs $15 a month, with a discount for prepayment. You can get a one-month free trial of Constant Contact.

5) Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft’s package involves a lot more than just an email system. It includes scheduling, team management, shopping cart and payment collection software as well. Consequently, it is much more expensive than the other email marketing tools in this list. Plans start from $199 per month and go up to $379 per month.

6) Exact Target

Exact Target is a division of Salesforce.com, so its main package is called both Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Exact Target Marketing Cloud. It doesn’t sell a stand-alone email marketing tool but integrates email functions into a wider bundle of sales and marketing functions. The email section of Exact Target Marketing Cloud includes an email editor, a contacts database, mail group managers, and sequenced email campaigns.

7) Emma

Emma offers the best email presentation options of all the email marketing tools on this list. It particularly aids the design of mobile presentation, which is increasingly important in the modern market. As with the other email marketing tools on this list, Emma offers analytical reports, and they are beautifully presented. Like MailChimp, Emma offers analysis reports and alerts through a mobile app. Two distinctive attributes of Emma are its mobile capabilities and its look and feel, both of the user interface and the email creation capabilities it offers through its email design tool.

Decision Time

MailChimp and HubSpot probably offer the most comprehensive utilities for managing an outbound email campaign. AWeber and Constant Contact would be your best choice if you want to drive your email marketing by autoresponders. Emma probably has the best facilities for reaching out to a mobile or social media audience, and is perhaps more attuned to businesses catering to the youth market. These five are pure email marketing tools. Exact Target and Infusionsoft offer email functions as part of integrated packages, and you would have to examine each in detail to decide whether you need all the other products each company’s bundle includes.

Image source: mkabakov/BigStockPhoto.com

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8 Awesome Things Kids Can Teach Us About Conversion Rate Optimization

8 Awesome Things Kids Can Teach Us About Conversion Rate Optimization

8 Awesome Things Kids Can Teach Us About Conversion Rate Optimization Wait, did she just say kids can teach us about conversion rate optimization (CRO)? Does she actually think that children can fathom the mysterious world of A/B testing and landing pages? That they have the capacity to navigate the jumble of red buttons versus blue ones, the seemingly arbitrary changes that result in a 30% higher conversion rate, or any other attempts to increase revenue? In other words, does this crazy writer really think that a child could possibly understand something that challenges the comprehension ability of most educated adults?

Yes and no. Yes, you can learn something from kids about how to improve your CRO. No, it’s not because they understand conversion rate, the Internet, business, or any other factors that play into it. (Well, I suppose some of them might, but most such exceptional children tend to focus their talents elsewhere.) What I’m really trying to say here is that you can learn a lot from kids about how to improve your conversion rate. Don’t believe me? Just have a look at the following list.

1. Be a copycat.

Remember when everyone told you it was rude to mimic other people? Or that being original, being creative, was the most important thing? Well, forget about that. When it comes to conversion rate and website optimization, it pays to stick with what works. Do you have some pages that are converting at far better rates than others? If so, try to break down what makes those pages so much more successful. What’s different about those pages? What do the calls to action (CTAs), the design, or the writing style look like on your more successful pages? Take these differences and apply them to your less successful pages. The benefit of being a copycat in the context of website optimization? No one is going to tell on you.

2. Be sticky.

Someone once said that kids insist on being sticky at least 76% of the time, a statistic that, though technically not grounded in any kind of scientific reality, is true nonetheless. (Yes, that someone may have been my mother.) Whether they’re covered in paint, glue, juice, or other leftover food substances, it seems almost impossible to get children clean and keep them that way. When it comes to CRO, you want to be as sticky as a toddler covered in peanut butter. Making your visitors stick to your site—also known as reducing bounce rates—can be difficult. This infographic from HubSpot gets into bounce rate in greater detail, but here’s the bottom line: if your site hasn’t been designed and your content hasn’t been written for your specific users, they aren’t going to stick around.

You need to know who it is you are trying to attract to your site so you can create content for those viewers. This content includes the landing pages you will use to (hopefully) convert your visitors into leads. This means that if you have more than one kind of target consumer, you should have more than one type of landing page. Children may cover themselves in goo because they enjoy testing their parents’ sanity, but visitors stick to websites when they cater to their personal needs.

3. Sharing is caring.

Sharing is caring.If you have children, you’ve probably told them time and time again that nobody likes to play with someone who doesn’t share. Sharing is also a great way to make new friends. Just as sharing helped you out on the playground when you were young, social media sharing will kick-start your CRO now that you’re all grown up. Make sure that all your pages, including landing pages and thank you pages, have icons that allow users to share their content on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This is also great for your site’s search engine optimization (SEO)! Sharing is nice. So is improving your CRO.

4. Show off.

Kids know how awesome they are, and they want the whole world to know too. And while I don’t encourage you to tell your visitors just how amazing you and your business are, I do think you should show them. If your website has any certifications or awards, make sure the badges are displayed in relevant areas of your site. If your blog content is doing really well on social media sites, make sure your shares are included with your social media icons. How will everyone know how cool you are if you don’t show them?

5. Go, go, go.

Go, go, go!Ever watch an energetic child try to sit still? Or, better yet, ever see a kid have to wait for an activity that’s really exciting? Kids are all about action. They want to be in on everything, and they want to be in on it now. Your website copy can reflect this action-driven motivation by employing as many action words as possible while still maintaining a natural flow in the text. Using lots of verbs in your copy can significantly increase your lead conversion, as it encourages your visitors to follow through with your CTAs. This is a simple but effective way to improve your conversion rate.

6. Listen to your parents—tidy up!

The presence of a child in a room is often accompanied by a tornado of stuff. Toys, clothes, books, bananas, you name it—kids are messy. Moms and dads are constantly telling their kids to tidy up their bedrooms and play areas. Why? Because friends and family members shouldn’t have to navigate a war zone when they come over for a visit. And neither should your website visitors. While parents have desperately tried to explain this concept to their children for centuries to almost no avail, it seems much easier to grasp in the adult context of CRO. This article gets into greater depth about how improving your website’s navigation can improve your conversion rate, but the bottom line is simple: the easier it is to get around your website, the higher your conversion rate will be. (Translation: If you keep your room clean, your parents will be happy and your friends will be allowed to come over. Everyone wins!)

7. Learn your ABCs.

Do you remember learning the alphabet? At first, you didn’t really get the point. Sure, you learned the song. You could sing all the letters, and your parents were very proud. But it wasn’t until you actually started learning to read that you began to understand the real importance of your ABCs. Similarly, people new to A/B testing may become frustrated with what sometimes seems like the futility of these tedious tests. But once you learn the real purpose of testing, it doesn’t seem so bad. That purpose, of course, is to improve conversion rates. The thing is, no matter how many great changes you make to your website, you won’t know which of those changes have been effective unless you do some testing. If you’re trying to make your site stickier by changing your landing page copy, it’s important to know that the changes you have made are actually helping to achieve your initial goal. That’s why A/B tests lead to more conversions. You might even say that A + B = C. Now I know my ABCs, next time won’t you convert with me?

8. If at first you don’t succeed…

Try, try, try something different. If you can be as perseverant with increasing your CRO as a child who is determined to shove his entire first into his mouth, you will be successful. (Regrettably, probably much more successful than the boy, unless that boy happens to have the snake-like ability to unhinge his jaw.) If you try something new on your website only to discover that it does not, in fact, increase your conversion rate, do not despair! Instead, learn from your mistake, and try something new. If you had given up every time you attempted to learn how to ride a bike—or how to walk, for that matter—you would have had a far less adventurous childhood, indeed.

Image sources: Ryan Tauss/Stocksnap.io, ChasingMoments/BigStockPhoto.com, mcconnmama/Pixabay.com

25 Website Essentials For Boosting Traffic, Leads, And Sales.

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Ready, Set, Connect: Seven Social Media Tools That Make an Impression

Social Media Tools that Make an Impression

Level up your brand by getting social

Social Media Tools that Make an ImpressionTwenty years ago, GeoCities made its online debut. As one of the world’s first social media communities, GeoCities set the benchmark for future sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Today, there are hundreds of similar platforms from which to choose. To make the most of them, you’ll need to learn how to leverage their unique services, from microblogging to photo sharing.

It’s a lot to master, but the end result is worth the initial investment. These seven social media tools will help you get started.

1) Facebook

Facebook is a classic and for good reason. By the end of 2013, over 750 million users were logging onto the site each day, making it one of the most popular social media sites in the world.

Setting up a Facebook page is the perfect way to create an online community around your business. Think of your page as a dynamic newsletter with different sections and interactive content. It should contain news and updates as well as encourage customers to leave comments and to “like” your services. Facebook is also a great place to share media-rich content, such as videos, podcasts, or Instagram photos showcasing your latest products.

2) Twitter

Most people know Twitter as the social media site that popularized the hashtag. For businesses, Twitter provides a fast-paced way to keep in touch with your target audience.

If customers have any questions or concerns, you can quickly respond with a tweet. Twitter’s mobile-friendly interface makes it ideal for on-the-go businesses. You can provide updates on new products and services as well as conduct contests or polls. Twitter’s 270 million users value messages that are short—140 characters or less—and sweet. It’s a great platform to hone your brand presentation and increase your visibility by tweeting about trending topics.

3) LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the go-to social media tool for job seekers and recruiters. It’s a fantastic platform for professional brand management whether your business has only a few or several hundred connections.

If you’re looking for fresh talent, LinkedIn has you covered with over 300 million registered users. By creating a company page, you can easily advertise job openings or post updates on products and services. A company page is also a logical place to share articles or blog posts that will appeal to others in your industry. Browsing the content posted by your connections can help you stay on top of recent trends in employment or business news.

4) Instagram

Since 2010, Instagram has been the top platform for photo sharing. If you’re looking for a memorable way to tell your company’s story, then Instagram could be the ideal social media tool.

Instagram gives you the ability to construct a visually stunning web presence quickly and easily. You can post shareable images and 15-second videos, which is a great way to highlight products or services that aren’t shown on your website. Another unique idea is to give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at your office culture.

Using Instagram filters, you can easily tweak any image so that it matches your brand. Within minutes, you can also link your Instagram page to Facebook and Twitter so that your videos and photographs will reach a wider audience. By adding relevant hashtags to your images, it’s even more likely that they’ll be seen by the customers and followers who matter most.

5) Mention

Many businesses simply don’t have the time to monitor all of their social media accounts. Mention makes it simple by aggregating activity from the platforms you use most, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

With Mention, you can find out who’s talking about your business in real time and react to mentions by instantly posting a response, or if you’re tied up with work, you can save your mentions to share later on another social media platform. Mention also lets you export stats about your online activity as an Excel spreadsheet. This is useful for comparing your business with competitors and tracking your popularity on social media over time.

6) eGrabber

Imagine having the contact information for the top professionals in your industry right at your fingertips. With eGrabber’s Account Researcher tool, you can easily track down the email address and phone number of anyone you’re interested in contacting. As a natural complement to LinkedIn, eGrabber helps you build your professional network and find new business partners.

Being the best in your industry means knowing who your competition is. eGrabber can provide a profile of any small- to medium-sized company even if it doesn’t have a website or digital footprint. This is helpful for discovering the revenue, number of employees, and services of other businesses in your field. You can depend on the eGrabber research tool since it works in real time, meaning you’ll always have the most up-to-date information about potential contacts.

7) Tagboard

Hashtags are a powerful way to communicate your brand. Tagboard makes it easy to track hashtags across different social media platforms, including Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram.

This well-reviewed service is a seamless way to merge marketing with your social media activity. With Tagboard, you can create a stunning display board based on a specific hashtag, which is useful for promoting a new product or business idea. The boards are interactive, meaning customers can instantly like, retweet, or comment on items you’ve posted. Best of all, it’s easy to embed your tagboard elsewhere on the web, including your company website or a WordPress blog.

Social media tools help you inspire customers and make an impact

Why are businesses flocking to social media? The answer is simple: They love having a genuine connection with their clients.

With the right tools, it’s easier than ever to reach your ideal audience and make an impression. Whether your business has been online for years or is new to the web, now is the time to make your social media presence count.

Image source: Twin design/BigStockPhoto.com