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Content Marketing Strategy: Some Tips For Developing and Executing

Content Marketing Strategy

Content Marketing StrategyTraditional marketing is a thing of the past in the online world. Customers have adapted to the effects of mainstream marketing and can easily click the “close” button on pop-ups and ads. So how can you market your business when customers are so immune to traditional marketing strategies?

The answer is content marketing strategy, the marketing technique of the future. A content marketing strategy consists of indirectly engaging customers by posting online content instead of directly telling audiences to buy a product or service. This content can be in the form of articles, multimedia, or social networking, but it all achieves the same goal. By providing your users with information, you can promote your business and encourage customers to purchase your product or service by building a relationship with them. A content marketing strategy is a much more subtle form of marketing that appeals to Internet audiences.

To make the most of a content marketing strategy, you should plan so your marketing can yield the best possible results for your business. Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of your content marketing strategy:

Think about your target audience

To whom you do want to sell your product? Are they young? Are they old? Do they work in offices, classrooms, or construction sites? All of these factors make a difference when you post content because different things appeal to different people. Make sure you know your audience before you start posting content because it will affect the response you get.

Why will your audience read your content?

Once you’ve figured out who your target audience is, you need to decide how to best reach out to them. Try thinking about what problem your business can solve, and show how you do this through your content. By giving your customers a reason to read your content, you can give them a reason to engage with your business as well.

What do you want your audience to get from your content?

Now you have to figure out what you want your audience to gain from reading your piece. What will appeal most to them? What’s the message you want them to walk away with? This is the point where you can turn passive readers into active customers, and what you post can change this dramatically.

How will you keep your customers reading?

The battle is not won once you get customers to start reading. The struggle for customers’ attention continues throughout their reading experience because you have to make sure they don’t stray. You need to keep them constantly captivated, so try including interesting content such as anecdotes, multimedia, or colloquial language. It’s easy to click away from your page on the Internet, so it is important you prevent this as much as possible.

What kind of call to action will you make?

Every piece of content needs a call to action so you can direct your customers to engage with your business. Create your call to action according to your audience’s strengths. For example, a call to action to teenagers might be to share the article on Twitter or Facebook, while for an adult, it might be to email it to their friends. Cater this call to action to your audience so your content can achieve its desired response.

Promote your content through social media

Web 2.0 web sites are the main hubs for information. Internet users no longer surf the web as they used to, but go to centralized social networking feeds that will give the information they want. It is important that you catch your audience by promoting your articles on these networks because customers can both find and share information on these sites. By engaging with social media, you can spread your content and make it viral.

Request customer engagement

When writing content for your customers, ask them what they would like to see. Surveys, comments, and feedback emails are all valuable tools to which you can turn when creating your content and then marketing it. This way, you can give your customers exactly what they want and remain confident that you appeal to your audience.

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Uniting Search Engine Optimization with Useful Content

Uniting Search Engine Optimization with Useful Content

Uniting Search Engine Optimization with Useful ContentYou know you’ve got a great product, but how do you let the rest of the world know that too?

You build a website, of course, to explain why your product is so great. You do your research to find the best ways to sell goods and services on the Internet.

But all you find is a lot of contradictory information about online marketing. Half the web seems to say you need to apply all the tricks of search engine optimization, while the other half says you should focus on content to get your product noticed.

Search engines will certainly be a major source of traffic to your site, which makes it easy to see why search engine optimization is important. But, while employing the whole range of search engine optimization techniques might bring you visitors, all those potential customers will soon leave if all they find are pages stuffed with irrelevant keywords.

So, if search engine optimization and providing useful content both have their advantages, where should you concentrate your efforts?

The benefits of search engine optimization

Search engine robots crawl over your webpages gathering information about your site.

You can use many search engine optimization methods to direct these bots to the keywords and phrases on your pages and make the search engines aware of your content.

The search engines log this information, and when someone searches for keywords that occur often in your text, they will be directed to your site.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot to apply search engine optimization to your website, and it can work for you 24 hours a day.

The benefits of useful content

One of the great advantages of having a website in the first place is that people can find all the information about your product or service at any time. You don’t have to pay sales staff to cold call or set up a consumer service department to answer customer queries.

Your website, therefore, has to contain the right information. Your pages have to answer most, if not all, of the questions a customer might ask. If your customers cannot find the details they’re looking for, they will quickly go elsewhere. They will click on the second link the search engine provided, and then the third, and so on, till they find what they’re looking for. All that effort put into search engine optimization to make sure you appeared at the top of the search results will be wasted.

In other words, your content has to be useful to your customers, and it has to be relevant.

You don’t need to choose

The obvious answer is to apply search engine optimization techniques to a website full of useful content.

But that would appear to be easier said than done.

Many companies offer either search engine optimization or webpage content. Very few offer both.

The key to providing content that will serve your customers and search engine robots is simply to practice. Work on trying to naturally introduce relevant keywords into the right places in the text to give your customers the information they’re looking for.

Uniting useful content with proper search engine optimization can help you get to the top of the search results and keep your customers on the page when they arrive.

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25 Website Essentials For Boosting Traffic, Leads, And Sales

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Social Media Marketing Tools That Will Rocket You to Success

Social Media Marketing Tools that Will Rocket You to Success

Social media meets marketing at its best

Social Media Marketing Tools that Will Rocket You to SuccessSeventy-four percent of Internet users are registered on social media.

Interesting, isn’t it? Now, imagine if your business could reach each one of them.

It sounds impossible, but with the right social media marketing tools, you’ll have a better chance of engaging your ideal clients. Whether you’re looking to build new relationships or strengthen existing ones, here are seven tools that will improve your marketing campaign by leaps and bounds.

1) Shutterstock

With so many businesses on the web, how do you make your content stand out? Adding images is one excellent solution.

Shutterstock is one of the best places to find high-quality stock photographs that are royalty-free. The site has millions of photographs to choose from, as well as illustrations, icons, and music samples. You can explore media from dozens of different categories, including wildlife, fashion, and infographics.

Shutterstock’s subscription service is also well-priced, and it’s easy to sign up. Depending on your content needs, you can pay by individual photo or purchase a membership for up to a year. Whatever option you choose, you’re guaranteed to receive a high-quality product from one of the most recognizable and respected image databases on the web.

2) Piktochart

Like Shutterstock, Piktochart emphasizes the visual side of social media. With Piktochart, you can create stunning infographics that are easily shareable on multiple platforms.

Piktochart’s easy-to-use interface was created for the non-designer. To create an infographic, you simply need to drag and drop different pre-designed elements onto your screen. The process is highly customizable, with tons of available themes, icons, and photos.

What’s not to love? Piktochart’s happy customers range from marketing specialists to public school teachers. If you’re looking to create visually appealing infographics to share on social media, Piktochart has everything you need.

3) Google Analytics

Google Analytics takes the mystery out of your marketing efforts by letting you know what’s working and what isn’t.

All you’ll need to get started is a Google account, which can easily be linked to an analytics profile. Within minutes, you’ll be able to see who your visitors are, what they’re searching for, and what type of device they’re using to find your content. This information is crucial for social media marketing, as you can then tailor your campaigns to your audience’s needs.

With Google Analytics, it’s easy to set specific marketing goals, such as receiving a certain number of page views, and you can track your progress in the online interface. For the beginner, the advanced analytics options may seem overwhelming, but Google provides free training resources that will help familiarize you with the application.

4) TubeMogul

Videos are great marketing tools because they’re entertaining, instructive, and easy to share. With TubeMogul, you can promote your multimedia content across dozens of different sites in just a few minutes. Its unique OneLoad service allows you to upload a video directly to the web. TubeMogul will then distribute it to influential media platforms, such as YouTube, Dailymotion, and Hulu.

Once your video is uploaded, you can track metrics like views, comments, and ratings to evaluate audience engagement. These statistics, helpfully provided in the TubeMogul interface, will help you tweak your advertising to reach the right audience. For brands and agencies, TubeMogul also offers packages with more in-depth analytics tools.

5) Latergramme

When it comes to making an impact on social media, timing is everything. If you’re an Instagram user, you’ll want to check out Latergramme, which helps you time your Instagram posts so they reach the optimum number of viewers.

With Latergramme, you can upload files directly from the web or your smartphone. An interactive calendar also helps you schedule images by the day, week, or month. This ensures that your posts will be published exactly when you want.

An integrated analytics tool shows you which photos have the most engagement, so you can plan your marketing efforts accordingly. Whether you’re posting personal photographs or a gorgeous stock image from Shutterstock, you’ll reach more users with your social media blasts than ever before.

6) Perfect Audience

If you notice your popularity on social media is slipping, Perfect Audience can help. It’s designed to increase audience retention and make sure you’re targeting the right clients.

Perfect Audience works by placing a hidden tag on your online content. This tag then analyzes audience data and creates a list of “lost visitors,” or visitors with a poor conversion rate. To entice them back to your content, Perfect Audience targets these users with personalized ads across the web, including networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

You can track the success of these ad campaigns using a built-in analytics tool. Perfect Audience’s clear billing guidelines and seamless integration of site tracking make this an ideal tool for social media marketing.

7) Socialbakers

Socialbakers is a suite of four tools: Analytics, Builder, Listening, and Ad Analytics. These applications allow you to monitor conversations across different platforms, so you can better engage and entertain your audience.

With Socialbakers, you can manage the activity on your Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+ profiles. You’ll quickly discover which posts or pages have the most impact, and you can customize your marketing efforts to capitalize on this success.

Socialbakers also allows you to find key influencers, measure interaction levels, and compare your advertising campaign to those of your competitors. If you’re looking for an ideal mix of ad analysis and engagement tracking, then Socialbakers could be the tool for you.

With the right tools, marketing is easier than ever before

How do you launch a memorable marketing campaign? There’s no secret formula, but having a handful of social media tools in your back pocket will give you an edge over the competition.

Not only will your job be simpler, but your interactions with potential clients will also become more meaningful. The next time you log onto social media, remember that powerful tools send a powerful message.

Disclosure: If there are links to a product in any of the reviews, a commission may be paid to us if you purchase the product. We will never write a review on a manufacturer’s product, nor will we promote a product, if we believe the product will not be beneficial to you.

Image source: bloomua/BigStockPhoto.com
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Top 6 SEO Audit Tools

Top 6 SEO Audit Tools

SEO audit tools can help you improve your search engine rankings

Top 6 SEO Audit ToolsSearch engine optimization (SEO) is the art of designing a website so that its webpages appear in the first pages of search engine results. The position of a webpage in search engine results pages (SERPs) is called its ranking, and a high ranking is a great way to attract customers to your website. Most search engine users rarely go beyond the first page of search engine results, so it is vital to use SEO audit tools to check and refine your digital marketing strategy. If you don’t have the time to research all the SEO audit tools out there, don’t worry — this roundup has done the work for you.

1) My Site Auditor

You are most likely to become a customer of My Site Auditor if you run an SEO consultancy. This tool produces a report on the SEO qualities of a particular page. Search engine rankings are based on a page’s relevance to a specific search term. That term, when used in a page, is called a keyword. My Site Auditor evaluates a given page for the presence of a specific keyword, and its report presents the results, either through an instantly downloadable PDF or via email. SEO consultants can integrate the My Site Auditor service into their websites to capture the email addresses of enquirers, which allows them to follow up with a sales pitch to any casual visitor who tries the tool on their site. If you sign up for this SEO audit tool, be sure to enter the Coupon Code REFER603946 to get the best deal.

2) Wpromote SEO Audit Tool

Wpromote’s SEO Audit Tool performs a quick comparison between your website and that of your competitor. One of the best features of this SEO audit tool is that it does not limit its comparisons to a given keyword. Instead, it calculates the keywords for which the two sites rank best. This is useful, since it may show you that your site is not hitting the keywords you think it is. The tool is free, and you can use it repeatedly to compare your site to many other sites, one at a time.

3) Screaming Frog SEO Spider

The SEO spider by Screaming Frog is pretty unique among SEO audit tools because you don’t access it through a website. Instead, you access it through a program that you can download onto your computer for free. This SEO audit tool produces an enormous amount of data, which SEO newbies may find overwhelming. The program emulates a “web bot,” which is the program that search engines use to index and score pages. It will take you a while to get to know this SEO audit tool using the free version, which only crawls up to 500 pages. When you are ready to deepen your analysis, removing this limit costs 99 pounds sterling for a one-year subscription, which is quite cheap.

4) UpCity Free SEO Report Card

If you work through each of the recommended sites in this review, you may find the My Site Auditor’s report a little light and the Screaming Frog SEO spider report a little daunting. If that’s the case, try the UpCity SEO Report Card. It falls slap-bang in the middle in terms of complexity. You can access the SEO audit tool using the UpCity website and compare your own site against others, one at a time. You don’t want to swamp yourself with too much information, so tackling your competitors one by one is a useful strategy. Even better, you are not limited to one free try on the SEO audit tool.

5) Web CEO Technical Website Quality Audit

The Web CEO SEO audit tool offers a comprehensive dashboard of features, which are too numerous to list in this review. You have to create an account to access the dashboard, but this “account creation” just involves entering an email address and a password. The dashboard includes an analysis of the social engagement of your site, which covers Facebook, Google+, and Twitter. You can also request a keyword analysis for your site and see the keywords that your competitors use. The SEO audit tool has a comprehensive range of link auditing tools, including a list of broken links on your site. This is a very extensive SEO audit tool, and it is free.

6) Hubspot’s Marketing Grader

For ease of use, the Hubspot Market Grader wins hands down. You might find some of the SEO audit tools listed in this roundup a little too simple, while others might overwhelm you with their complexity. The benefit of the Hubspot SEO audit tool is that it offers two levels of detail. This is a web-based SEO audit tool, and the analysis output initially shows you a summary. However, each reporting point is expandable. This format caters to two types of enquirers: the casual visitor and the detail hound.

Pick an SEO Audit Tool

It will take time to work through each of the six SEO audit tools listed in this article. However, it is worth the effort because, without analyzing your website’s performance, you don’t stand much chance of improving your rankings. Try the free versions of each of these SEO audit tools to figure out which one is best suited to your business needs.

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How to Write a Content Marketing Plan in 7 Steps

Content Marketing Plan

Content Marketing PlanOnce you’ve established your business online with a website, it’s time to start advertising to your audience. The Internet is a huge space with vast amounts of pages and information, so it is unlikely that customers will just happen to stumble upon your website and engage with your business. You have to be the one to put it out there and draw customers to your site. The best way to do this is by using a content marketing plan.

Instead of traditional advertisements that tell audiences what to do, the new and better way to attract customers is to show your audiences what to do. To do this, you need to create informative content that shows readers the benefits of your product or service without directly telling them to buy it. Given the growing number of businesses using content marketing plans, this is clearly a very effective way of making your business known and increasing its sales.

So how do you write a content marketing plan?

1. Set a goal

Figure out what it is you’re trying to achieve with your content. Are you trying to get traffic to your site? From what source? How much? How often? Be specific. Once you have an objective in mind with your content marketing plan, you can create content to fit this goal.

2. Figure out your audience

There is going to be a certain type of audience you want to reach out to. It’s called your demographic. Before you write your content, make sure you have a clear picture of your ideal customer so you can direct your topics and writing style to this potential reader.

3. Find out what’s popular and trending

Check out what other businesses are doing with their content marketing plans so you can get ideas for your own strategy. Try to figure out the types of articles that most customers are reading, and what kinds of content businesses are publishing to become popular. Then write about relevant topics that will interest your audience.

4. Write a good variety of content

When writing your content, make sure to vary the type of article, the topics, and the medium that you use. With the Web full of fast-paced, interesting content, customers will get easily bored if you constantly publish the same articles. Offering different types of content will attract different types of customers in your demographic and increase your following.

5. Write with SEO in mind

A great way to get your content seen online is to use search engine optimization (SEO) to increase your ranking on search engines. To improve your visibility in searches, use specific keywords and phrases in your content that will direct searches to your website. But please, make sure your content is well written and interesting, because articles will be flagged and punished by search engines if they are stuffed with keywords. Writing and publishing SEO content properly will attract readers to your content while maintaining your website’s integrity.

6. Share on social media

Social media are hubs for news and information and have become a popular way of finding content. To spread your content among all of your customers and reach out to other circles, you need to make sure you have a constant presence on social networks. You can achieve this by publishing your content on multiple platforms.

7. Evaluate metrics and use them to improve

Once you’ve published the content from your content marketing plan, you need to ensure that it’s achieving your initial goal. The best way to figure this out is to look at the metrics, such as how many customers have engaged with your content by taking actions like sharing on social media, visiting your website, or purchasing your product or service. You can then use this information to improve your content marketing plan.

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Content Marketing: What Is It, Really?

Content Marketing: What Is It, Really?

Content Marketing: What Is It, Really?Rarely has a buzzword been so, well, buzzy.

The term “content marketing” is hot, hot, hot right now (check out what Google Trends has to say about it). “Content marketing is the new SEO” reads one headline. “Content marketing is the new go-to promotional strategy” reads another.

All you need to do, so the claim goes, is produce a ton of content, load it with keywords and links, and distribute it everywhere. No writing staff? No problem! Outsource your content overseas for dirt cheap. You can even “spin” it with software to get hundreds of variations on the same piece. Just have the intern manage it all!

And presto change-o, the search engines will happily send hundreds of customers your way. All you need to do after that is open your wallet and let the money pour in.

That’s the promise behind the hype, and frankly, it’s giving content marketing a terrible rep.

While the aforementioned approach might work, any success that it results in will be temporary. Companies that use cheap, badly written, or spun search engine bait will eventually be caught by Google. While they may generate some revenue, they’re really just one Panda or Penguin update away from having zero revenue.

Worse still, this kind of tactic typically only works for dodgy weight loss products or suspect pharmaceuticals, and even then it will only convert a tiny, tiny fraction of site visitors. That means that for every 100 visitors that a site gets, 99 will instantly recognize the cheap content for what it is, roll their eyes, and click away in a heartbeat. What you save in content production you will lose a thousand times over in direct revenue, branding, and reputation.

Does that mean that content marketing is a sham?

Far from it. The truth is that contenting marketing is actually one of the most successful marketing techniques around. In fact, it has been around for centuries.

That’s right: centuries.

Consider Deere & Company, home of the John Deere brand, which is one of the most famous agricultural companies in the world. They began producing a magazine with tips on how farmers could be more profitable in the late 1800s, called The Furrow. Nearly 120 years later, it’s still going strong.

Or what about the Michelin Guides? First published by the tire company in France in the 1900s, they became so popular that they are now a major media brand in their own right.

How about the Be-Ro Cookbook, a bible in British kitchens? The Lego magazine for kids? Heck, haven’t you ever wondered where the term “soap opera” comes from? Those compelling, addictive, serial radio and television programs were originally backed by soap companies, including major brands like Proctor & Gamble.

Content marketing is really just the latest name for a proven, solid strategy: giving your customers what they need or want.

Tweet: Real content marketing should provide value. It should educate, or entertain, or both.

It should be written by humans, not computers, and it should be written for humans, not just for search engines.

Still not sure about content marketing? Still on the fence as to whether you should take the easy road or even do it at all? Consider the companies I’ve mentioned above.

They weren’t big brands when they started, but they sure are now, aren’t they?

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What is Search Engine Optimization?

What is Search Engine Optimization

What is Search Engine OptimizationIf you’re new to doing business online, you’re probably asking yourself, “What is search engine optimization? Is it something I need for my website?”

The answer to the second question is an indisputable yes. Whether you write a blog celebrating the daily adventures of your Persian cat or you’re the webmaster for a multinational corporation, you want people to visit your website. The more visitors you get, the more success you’ll have with your website. But, with over 1.5 billion sites on the web, how will anyone find yours?

Search engines, such as Google Search, Bing, and Yahoo!, will almost certainly be a major source of traffic to your site. Since very few people click past the first page of search results, you need to make sure your site gets listed on the first page of results, as close to the top as possible. This is where search engine optimization can help. Now, let’s get back to the first question.

What is search engine optimization?

The answer to that first question takes a little more explanation. Let’s start by looking at how search engines work.

Search engines use a complex series of algorithms. They crawl through the web gathering information about the content of websites. When they find a page where certain words or phrases—keywords—are repeated often in the text, the search engines get an idea of what that site is about.

For example, if the search engine encounters the phrase “what is search engine optimization” several times in a single article, it can conclude that the page is about search engine optimization. The search engine stores that information, and the next time someone types the search term “what is search engine optimization,” the search engine will include that article in the results.

But if thousands, even millions, of web pages cover the same topic, how can you make sure your page is one of the first results the search engine shows?

How can you use search engine optimization?

Keywords are extremely important for search engine optimization. The more a keyword appears on the page, the easier it is for a search engine to categorize that page.

But be careful!

It can be tempting to write for the search engines and forget that your intended audience is human. People will be put off when they read a page where a keyword is constantly repeated and that appears in odd places within a sentence.

Even worse is when you try to trick the search engine by including a popular keyword that is not relevant to your content. Visitors will quickly see that your website doesn’t actually contain the information they’re looking for and will quickly leave, unlikely to ever return.

It’s always useful to do some research to find out what search terms people usually type when searching for your kind of content. Choose appropriate keywords that are relevant to your website, and include them often but naturally within your text. Overdoing it will get your site penalized for “keyword stuffing.”

Search engines also categorize the content depending on where the keywords appear in the text. Include the keywords in the page title and in subheadings to help the search engine recognize that these words are important to the content. It also helps if the keywords appear often at the beginning of the text.

Freshness and dwell time

Another aspect of search engine optimization is how often you add new content to your website. Search engines assume that sites that are updated frequently are more likely to have relevant and useful information. So it is important to keep your site “fresh” by adding new material regularly. You can do this by having a blog or articles section on your site.

The content must be useful however, and one of the ways search engines measure this is by the average “dwell time” of users on your website. If a web surfer comes to your site and finds poorly written material or nothing of use, he/she will likely exit the site quickly. If, on the other hand, they see compelling material, and stick around for a while to read it, you’ve clearly provided something of value. How do search engines measure this? By calculating how long it takes users to come back from your site to the search engine results page for the same term.

Other factors

There are many other factors involved in search engine optimization, of course; SEO experts have estimated that there are anywhere from 80-200 critical factors. No one knows for sure, because search engines don’t want to reveal the secret sauce to their indexing process. But there is one special factor to rule them all, and it’s one that search engine representatives have stressed over and over again: provide value and quality on your website. Then again, that should come as no surprise, because customers want that from your products and services too.

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17 SEO Myths You Should Stop Believing

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Press Releases: The Astonishingly Easy Way to Boost Your Business

Press Releases - The Astonishingly Easy Way to Boost Your Business

Press releases are dead, right?Press Releases - The Astonishingly Easy Way to Boost Your Business

Yes . . . and no.

If you’re a solopreneur or even a small-to-medium sized business, writing a press release is not an effective way to get the attention of major media outlets. There are just too many press releases and not enough journalists, so only the very important releases from really big companies ever get read.

Press release writing can sometimes be effective for communicating with your local, small market media outlets, especially if your release has a local news angle. But there’s an even better way to use press releases, and that’s to talk directly to your potential customers… online.

How can a press release help you talk to your customers?

Let us count the ways:

1. A history of widely-distributed press releases provides something for your customers to find

Let’s face it, you’re going to get “Googled” by your prospects. It’s natural for them to want to know more about you before doing business with you. So why not give them something to find?

Older press releases will demonstrate that your company has been around for a while, and reassure the customer that you’re not a fly-by-night outfit. And being written up on other websites, even when the customer can plainly see that it’s a press release, does still lend you a (tiny) bit of credibility.

2. It helps you to craft your image

Before you go firing off several press releases about how you updated your website from version 2.01 to version 2.02, have a good think about how this kind of thing will look to customers right now and many years into the future.

A press release is an opportunity to tell your story, or at least help frame how customers perceive you. A series of meaningless updates will be seen as just that. But stories that announce things like how you donated to a particular cause, or how you received an award for excellence in the service you provide will help you build your brand over time.

Pro tip: never, ever, ever fake this kind of thing, and never do something for the potential PR value you can get out of it.

3. It keeps your website fresh

One of the many factors search engines use in determining where to position your site in search engine results is how “fresh” or how frequently updated it is. By regularly updating the News section of your site (and you do have one of those, don’t you?) with a version of your releases, you’ll improve your search engine rank. This is critical if you want your customers to find you and your products or services.

4. The web works in mysterious ways

There is a crazy amount of value in just putting something “out there” and seeing what happens. For example, a story about how you and your staff adopted a highway might be seen by someone who works for the local roads department, who has a brother who needs exactly what you sell. And this could happen when you first put out the release, or, because it’s the Internet and things like this stay available almost permanently, a year later.

Press release . . . like a boss

Press release writing isn’t something everyone is familiar with, since it is a specialized skillset that isn’t taught universally in school. You can outsource it to professional writers if you don’t want to deal with it yourself. If you want to try your hand at press release writing until then, however, read on for a few tips to guide you along.

Spend time on the headline

Titles and headlines are what bring your reader in, and it’s no different for press release writing. For that reason, these need to be crafted to quickly grab your reader’s attention. Short, snappy headlines are best. Make sure it’s to the point and accurate, too. As soon as your audience sees the headline, they should know what the press release will be about.

On that note, if you do email it to various news sources, make sure the subject line of the email is as snappy and informative as your headline. This could be the most difficult part of press release writing, so don’t let it fall by the wayside.

Keep your reader engaged

In the same way that your reader doesn’t want to be bogged down by lengthy headlines, they don’t want to hunt through paragraphs to get to the point. In the digital age, when information is transmitted and internalized in a split second, you want to make sure your reader has the basic, important information in the first paragraph. Most of the time, readers will only skim the rest of the article, so you don’t want to let them skim over the good stuff. The first couple of sentences should contain the things you most want your audience to know.

Press release writing should be concise

Lose the flowery language! Keep it concise and grounded in facts. Don’t worry about getting creative with your writing because that isn’t the point. A press release conveys information, numbers, and evidence to support your assertions, and that’s all you need.

And since you’re avoiding the fluff, your press release should be one page. Two pages is the absolute longest a press release should ever be. The shorter, the better.

Don’t forget contact and relevant information

You’re sending out a press release to grab attention, so you need to include some contact information. There isn’t much use to a press release if the reader has no idea how to contact you once you’ve piqued their interest. The email, telephone number, and the name of the person who is the main contact for press release queries should be included.

Don’t forget to include the website for your company. This saves the journalist the hassle of searching Google when researching your company. This will immediately improve your connection with them, which is a positive consequence for the future. It shows that you’ve been thoughtful and comprehensive in your press release writing, and the journalist will appreciate that.

Don’t forget the little details

Good press release writing is in the details. This includes both content and style. Double check that your press release doesn’t have any grammatical mistakes. It’s also a good idea to have an outsider or a professional look over the press release before sending it out. This looks more professional.

Finally, a very important detail that is easy to forget is the human aspect. If you can, incorporate a quote from a customer or employee. This provides a bit of personality without subtracting from the concise, fact-based quality of your press release writing.

Image source: iQoncept/Shutterstock.com

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How to Use Newsletters for Awesome Customer Service

How to Use Newsletters for Awesome Customer ServiceNewsletters are an ideal way to connect with your customers. If a customer has opted in to your newsletter, they want to hear from you. You want to make the best use possible of that indication of interest and trust.

Newsletters speak directly to your customers and help build a relationship. A great strategy for achieving this is to send out a customer service-oriented newsletter that shows your business’s dedication to their needs.

Here are some ways to do that in your newsletter:

Provide news and updates that are relevant for the customer

You know it’s great that your company got that award and all, but that should not be the feature story of your mailout. The top story (which is the one that customers are likely to see if they click open your email) should be about something that will help the customer solve her problems.

The more often your customer sees copy that helps him, the more likely he is to click open your next email, and your next, and he might even start scrolling down to see your other stories — like that one about the award that shows how amazing your company is at doing what it does.

Show how your product or service can benefit the customer

Pop quiz! Which works better:

A) We’ve just released a new social media feature. It works with Facebook and Pinterest, and you can find it in your Dashboard under Social.

B) Save time! We have just released a new Facebook and Pinterest posting option that will cut your status updating time investment by a third.

Clearly B wins, but why? Because A was a description of the features, and it didn’t explain why the client should care. The second version works because it describes the benefit to the customer. Your customer service newsletter should always provide information about your product or service in terms of the benefits it offers.

Show how your business affects the community at large

If your business has a presence at local events, fundraisers, and other community activities, this is perfect content to include in your customer service newsletter as a second or third story. Your participation in the community lets the public know you have an interest in matters beyond your business. The contributions your business can make to the community show your dedication to maintaining a healthy relationship with your customers.

Feature an employee

To help build the relationship you need with your customers, make your business real! Small writeups about the people at your company adds that human touch and it will help customers build a strong emotional connection with your company. Customers will see that there are actual people in your business who care about their needs.

Update customers on internal changes that affect them

If your company changes policies, it’s a good idea to inform your audience of these changes via your newsletter. This includes good news and bad news. Indeed, proper handling of bad news (e.g., getting out in front of the story, explaining what you’re doing and why, etc.) will make your company even more trustworthy, because you’re being transparent. It’s always reassuring for customers to know that you care about their interests too, not only about the revenue they provide.

Ask for feedback

Building a relationship requires effort from both sides, which is why it is important that your business try to encourage customers to interact with the newsletter. By making your business open to constructive criticism, you can generate a public response that will indicate if you’re meeting customers’ needs. If you’re not, you can change your business in various ways to try to satisfy the customers and maintain their interest. Encourage them to respond to your newsletters with feedback, and then act on the feedback. This will show that your business is committed to keeping your customers satisfied.

Good customer service is an important part of making your business successful, and a great way to ensure that your business is providing the best possible service is through your newsletter. Newsletters dedicated to customer service will help build solid customer relationships, show that your business is constantly working for the customers, and can help improve your bottom line.

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How to Build Your Brand

How to Build Your Brand

How to Build Your BrandWe’ll start with the basics: What is a brand, anyway?

A brand is a representation of your relationship with your customers. It determines how they view and interact with your business. Put another way, your brand is like a promise.

Since the Internet has become a critical place for traffic and information, building an online relationship with your customers through a brand is imperative as you strive to make your business successful. To improve this relationship, you need to make sure your business is doing everything possible to build the brand and create a reputation.

So how do you use branding to build your business? How do you create a positive image so customers will feel a connection and sense of loyalty?

Think about your customers first

Before you can think about how your business will look online, determine what your customers want. Think about what will appeal to your customers when you start devising a business marketing strategy. For example, the types of colors that would attract them, the kinds of messages they like to hear, and the kinds of products they’re likely to buy. Once you have an idea of what your customers want in a brand, you can craft your image for them.

Think about what makes you unique

Before your customers can figure out why they’re going to choose your business over another one, you need to determine what makes it stand out among the rest. When you pinpoint your company’s strengths, you can use them to your advantage when creating your brand. On the Internet especially, your business needs to distinguish itself from all the rest, and promoting what makes you unique is the best way to market your business.

The logo

Logos are an excellent tool to help craft your image. Logos are symbols and they can generate an emotional response from your customers, if you build the right context around them. What emotional response do you want from your customers? A feeling of calm or confidence? Excitement? Strength? Think about how you feel about your business. How can you translate that into a logo?

The slogan

To your customers, your brand represents a message, or a set of values, that they can internalize when they purchase your product. A slogan can help your brand create this message. The one-line slogan that you choose will be how customers remember your business and identify with it through a single idea. Incidentally, you don’t have to have a slogan, and you don’t have to use the same slogan forever either. Most of the hamburger chains you know and love change their slogans for every campaign.

Get your brand out there

Once you have your desired image for your brand, you need to make your business widely known. This means putting your brand in front of your customers everywhere they’re likely to be. Forbes publishes a list of the world’s most valuable brands, and you probably know most, if not all of them. Consider where you’ve seen their advertisements, and then consider who they’re trying to reach. How can you apply that process to your own brand?

Consistency

Brands become familiar over time, and can even provide a sense of comfort. Once you build a brand, you build a relationship with your customers that rests on a foundation of reliability and consistency. So long as you maintain that consistency, you will be able to maintain your relationship with your customers and build a brand following online. And that, as you can see by the numbers on that Forbes list, can be worth millions.

Image source: My Life Graphic/Shutterstock.com

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