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How to Write Content That Actually Generates Leads

How to Write Content That Actually Generates Leads

It’s tough to be a businessperson in the digital age. While you might think that the Internet makes it a breeze to find loyal customers, the ease of communication between business and potential customer has made competition with other businesses tougher than ever.

Online lead generation is akin to fishing in the midst of thousands of other people hoping to catch the same fish as you are. To be effective, you must not only use the best bait, but you must also have the best tackle to reel in the catch.

In marketing terms, it’s  important to develop content for your website that draws people in and converts them into customers.

This, of course, is much easier said than done.

We developed this resource to give you some simple tips to instantly improve your site’s search engine optimization (SEO) and conversions.

Since many start-ups and small businesses are new to the wonderful world of SEO, here is a brief introduction to the term. For more veteran content creators, feel free to skip down to the tips list below.

SEO refers to increasing your website’s visibility in search engine results (primarily Google) and thereby increasing traffic and (hopefully) sales.

Optimizing your website can get quite nuanced, but much of it has to do with useful and clear web copy and the appropriate use of headings and tags, which allow search engines to index the site more easily.

SEO (bait) and conversion rate (tackle) exist in unison. Content on your site should draw traffic to your site, but it should also motivate visitors to action.

The following are the top five must-haves for web content that converts:

1. High-Quality Content

When asked whether writing matters in blog posts, author and digital marketing expert Guy Kawasaki replied, “This is like asking if the quality of food in a restaurant matters. Writing is the primary determinant of the success of the post. Everything else—timing, graphics, frequency—is secondary.”

High quality doesn’t just mean that your posts are grammatically correct and free of spelling errors. A good blog post will be grammatically correct, but it will first and foremost be of use to your audience.

The Internet is already so full of content that if you are posting for the sake of posting, you are just adding to the noise. Listen to your audience and learn what they want to read about.

In addition to great writing, don’t forget to include great-quality graphics that supplement the main points of your post. This is especially important to get viewers of your post to click the preview on social media or the front page of your website.

2. Keywords

High-quality content will help you move up in the ranking of Google’s search results because the most valuable currency in SEO is trust.

However, great content, while necessary, won’t get you very far in terms of driving traffic to your site. To make your content visible in searches, you need to understand the importance of keywords.

Google’s Keyword Planner (available for free online once you create a Google AdWords account) is a great tool to help you understand what words and phrases your clients are searching for and incorporate those terms into your content.

3. Post Length

Another very important factor in SEO is the length of your posts, titles, and meta descriptions.

A good rule of thumb is that title tags should be 55 characters or less, while meta descriptions should be 155 characters or less.

The length of a blog post itself is a bit more variable, as optimal post length has long been debated by content marketers and SEOs. Keep in mind that the length of a blog post is really more about usefulness and trust than actual word count, and longer posts tend to have more detailed and reliable information.

However, as Ann Handley, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Creating Ridiculously Good Content, explains, “Ideally, you want to worry less about blog post length and more about being useful to your audience. If you can be useful in 300 words, go for it!”

4. Design

Generate Leads

While many web content how-to articles focus on writing (which makes sense), they often overlook the very important aspect of visual appeal.

You’ve done all this work to bring visitors to your site by producing trustworthy writing that contains well-researched keywords and is of optimal length, but you still aren’t meeting your lead generation goals.

The problem might be your website’s design. Our first impressions of websites are often subconscious, but there is no doubt that design and aesthetics play a major role in gaining a visitor’s trust.

Evan Bailyn, author of SEO Made Easy, puts it this way: “Websites are like commercial buildings: If you walk into one and feel surrounded by symmetry, calm, and beauty, you feel comfortable transacting with the business.”

5. Call to Action

This is perhaps one of the most important, and often forgotten, aspects of content writing. You are writing a post not only to provide your audience with useful information but also to educate them about your organization, product, or service.

The majority of business owners started their company because they believe their product can make a difference in the lives of others, whether by saving time, providing entertainment, or solving a common problem. Don’t forget that many of the people who clicked the link to your site could benefit from the products or services your company provides.

Within each blog post, and on each page of your website, make sure to reserve a specific section where you can place a button, link, or clear direction for the customer to follow to learn more about your company or to make a purchase. With blog posts, this typically occurs at the very end. Be sure that, wherever you place the call to action, it is related to the content of the page it is on.

By approaching SEO from the perspective of generating leads and customers—not just increasing traffic—you’ll be even more effective at harnessing the power of your website and blog, resulting in a measurable impact on your bottom line.

Image sources: Markus Spiske/Stocksnap.io, Jay Mantri/Stocksnap.io

How to Write a Blog

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The Ultimate Blogger Guide

Blogger Guide

A desk with writing instruments.

Do you want to become a blogger? Blogging presents a unique opportunity to build a network for your existing customers while also acquiring new business. A blog is the ideal platform on which to showcase your expertise in the industry.

This list of resources is designed to walk you through the blogging process and answer any questions you might have along the way.

Why Start a Blog?

What Is Content Marketing?

How to Create a Content Strategy

How to Write Content

Image source: Alejandro Escamilla/Unsplash.com

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Dissecting the Anatomy of Quizzes as Content

Dissecting the Anatomy of Quizzes as Content

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post written by JP Misenas. JP is the Content Marketing Director and Audio/Visual Technician/Engineer at Interact.

Nowadays, Dissecting the Anatomy of Quizzes as Contentpeople have begun using quizzes as a form of content to enhance their brand’s strategy. The goal of content is to attract readers, but good content makes all the difference in the world when it comes to the volume of traffic it can attract.

You might be surprised to find out that quizzes aren’t just great for engaging audiences and boosting social traffic. In marketing, they’re also capable of driving revenue (depending on what your brand is marketing) and generating leads. But you might already know that.

Regardless, we’re here to help you create your own quiz.

At Interact, we’ve helped over 10,000 brands create over 25,000 quizzes, so it’s safe to say that we know a thing or two about creating them; however, there’s more to it than that. As a writer myself, I know that the success of a piece of content depends heavily on its quality.

Today, we’ll take a look at how to create your own quiz and, specifically, how to draft copy that’s engaging, clear, and highly shareable. We’ll dissect the entire creation process from the inside out so that you can create phenomenal content in the form of a quiz. So, what are we waiting for?

Coming Up with an Exciting Title that Attracts

There’s more to a title than most would think. The title of your quiz can say a great deal about its contents and about your brand. The title conveys what is to come, and when it comes to sharing your quiz later on, it’s the very first thing everyone will see.

If you want people to crowd around your quiz, you will want to come up with a title that not only attracts but also engages. What do we mean by that? We’re looking for a title that screams “Hey, this is something you’ll like. Take a look!”

Here are some templates that you can work with when coming up with a title for your quiz:

  • The “Challenge” Template – Did you know a question changes drastically when you add the word “actually” to it? For instance, take a look at the difference between “How Much Do You Know about Disney/Pixar Movies?” to “How Much Do You Actually Know about Disney/Pixar Movies?” It’s amazing how one word can transform a simple question into a challenge. Use this title template to see if your audience is up to the task. It’s got the perfect grab, and it generates a lot of buzz.
  • The “Which One Are You?” Template – You’ll probably come across this title often. These quizzes simply ask questions like “Which General Mills Cereal Are You?” They’re simple, fun, and straight to the point. Consider using this title to entice audiences into figuring out which one of something that they are. Take advantage of the fact that these are frequently shared on social media networks.
  • The “Which One Are You?” Template (Celebrity Remix) – Yep, you heard it. You can put a spin on a title template just by making it revolve around celebrities. Just like its predecessor, it prompts readers to find out who they are most like. The results are fun, and people tend to retake this quiz just to get a different outcome. Consider using this template for the same reason as the “Which One Are You?” template.

Which Fair Food is Made For You?

Picking the Right Type of Quiz for You

Once you’ve settled on a title that you think works best for you, it’s time to figure out what kind of quiz you want to create. “What?” you might ask. “There’s more than one kind?” You bet! There are two types of quizzes, so choose the one that you feel would be a perfect fit for your target audience:

  • The Personality Quiz – This type of quiz aims to compliment its taker, and the “self-serving bias” is what makes it so effective. It categorizes people into personalities based on their answers.
  • The Knowledge Test – This type of quiz challenges how much someone knows about a given subject and delivers results based on accuracy. It’s used as a method to gauge the knowledge of an audience and lets them know how well they did.

Who's Your Country Singer Soul Mate?

Creating the Perfect Questions for Engagement

Not many people know this, but the questions in a quiz are where you can establish a direct, one-on-one connection with your audience. This kind of engagement is amazing and is easily overlooked. In order for you to make the most out of the opportunity, here are some ways to craft the perfect quiz questions:

  • Inject Your Personality – Infusing who you are into your questions can go a long way with your audience. Approach them as if you were talking to them in person. This sets a more relaxed tone and allows your audience to get comfortable with you.
  • Make Use of Images – Creating a quiz isn’t just about asking questions; it’s about providing an experience that your audience will enjoy and remember. Including images makes your quiz much more engaging and can instantly transform it into a trivia game. The quiz is already fun, but there’s definitely no harm in making it even more fun.
  • Keep Things Simple – It’s a good idea to aim to include six to ten questions in your quiz. Keeping things short and simple will allow your audience to spend no more than two or three minutes on your quiz, which is just the right amount of time for most people.

Quiz Answer Example

Drafting an Effective Lead Capture

At the end of the day, most of us are focused on creating content that delivers results. If lead generation is your thing, gating your quiz with a lead capture form is the perfect way to obtain your audience’s contact information in exchange for their quiz results. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when optimizing the opt-in rate:

  • Be Honest about Your Marketing – Most lead captures will include a privacy policy. This is just to let your audience know what you’ll be doing with their information. Others include the option of skipping the lead capture form altogether.
  • Consider the Use of Incentives – There’s nothing wrong with offering a little value to your audience. If you want to increase the chances of your audience giving you their contact information, offer things like a free ebook, a personalized email with some advice, or maybe even an entry into a free giveaway. Be creative.
  • Don’t Ask for Too Much – Only ask for information that you’ll actually use. For instance, what’s the point in asking for a phone number if you’ll never call it?

Lead Capture Example

Delivering Highly Shareable Results

To complete your quiz, come up with results worth sharing. The kind of results you deliver to your audience is crucial to how viral your quiz will become. If you want people to share their results from your quiz, make sure you follow these tips:

  • Evoke Positive Emotions – You want your results to make people feel good. Positive emotions promote sharing, and vice versa, and no one ever posts results if these results suggest something unpleasant or unattractive. Be encouraging, but make sure that you also speak the truth.
  • Use Images Worth Sharing – In most cases, when people share results, an image appears when the post goes up. Be sure to use images that attract people’s attention so that they’ll be curious about your quiz and take it.
  • Include a Call-to-Action – It doesn’t hurt to include a link to your brand website, or maybe your products/services, in your results. Some marketers have even included links to relevant articles or landing pages, depending on the kind of quiz and the results given.

Quiz Result Example

Let’s Review What We’ve Learned

Today, we saw that there’s much more to a quiz than just coming up with a title, filling it up with questions, and generating results. Title creation requires a good amount of thought to ensure that it’s strong enough to captivate audiences, and the choice of the quiz type plays an important role, as well.

How you structure the questions in a quiz will also determine how engaging it is, and there are several ways to improve the opt-in rate if you’re in it for lead generation. Finally, creating results that get shared across the Internet will be the deciding factor in how popular your quiz becomes.

When creating your own quiz, put everything you’ve learned today into practice. Taking the time to flesh it out will be what turns boring content into great content. Aim to create something entertaining every time, and it will be worth implementing in your strategy.

Author JP Misenas

JP Misenas is the Content Marketing Director & Audio/Visual Technician/Engineer of Interact, a place for creating entertaining and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. He writes about innovative ways to connect with customers and to build professional, long-lasting relationships with them. Connect with him on Twitter @jollibeats or @tryinteract.

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SEO Basics for the Online Business DIYer

SEO Basics for the Online Business DIYerFive minutes of exposure to any form of today’s media—TV, magazines, the blitzkrieg of emails from trendy companies you don’t remember giving your email address to—will tell you that we’re living in the Do-It-Yourself era. Grow a vegetable garden on your windowsill! Get that kitchen you always dreamed of! Cook Thai cuisine at home! The ever-growing lineup of home renovation shows and YouTube videos on How to Trick People into Thinking You’re Good Looking are now being joined by another category of DIYers: the online entrepreneurs. Where we used to see ads for designer business cards, now it’s all about website design (GoDaddy.com, WhoIs.com, and Wix.com, to name a few). More and more self-starters are taking their businesses online without the help of web designers. So how do you know if you’re doing it right?

Successfully marketing your business online is more than simply having a pretty website (though we certainly appreciate the pretty ones too). The DIY website operator needs one very important tool in his or her skills toolbox: search engine optimization (SEO). Without it, your site will be about as visible as a sandwich board on the side of a dirt road in back-country New Mexico.

So what is SEO, anyway?

SEO is what makes your website show up in Internet searches; knowing some SEO basics can mean the difference between being on page 1 or page 237 of Google search results. You want to make sure your website will be found easily by potential customers.

Can I really do SEO on my own?

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes! Okay, so maybe you don’t need to be as dramatic as a Jane Austen heroine, but celebration is definitely in order. SEO doesn’t require coding or even knowledge of HTML; it’s about word choice and placement. What’s that? Could it really be that simple? The following SEO tips for beginners should get you started.

1. Use your words

Choose your keywords carefully (these being the words potential visitors are likely to enter into a search engine), and direct their placement even more so. Your primary keyword should be in the page’s URL, your content’s title, the page description, and ideally in the first 50 words of your body text. Keywords should appear throughout your content but not so often as to make the writing feel clumsy or spammy.

2. Tag, you’re it!

Don’t neglect your alt tags and image tags! With every image and link on your page, you have an opportunity to pump up your keyword usage. These tags (the text that appears when you hover your mouse over an image or link) should always be filled in with a concise label or description that contains your primary keyword.

3. A picture is worth a thousand clicks

A trick to jumping ahead in search engine rankings is to use different forms of media. Not only will eye-catching images and interesting videos appeal to visitors to your website, but they’ll also show up in image or video searches and even in regular web results. As Google displays the most relevant videos and images at the top of its results pages, you can sneak into visibility ahead of even the best-optimized text-only websites.

4. Content is king, but you don’t have to be a prince from Bel Air to be fresh!

We can’t stress enough the importance of fresh, relevant content. Visitors to your website won’t stick around (or come back) if what they find was last updated in 2002. That being said, constantly posting updates just for the sake of updating while falling behind on real need or quality won’t help you. Be mindful of what you’re saying when you post. Are you addressing the current needs and inquiries of your customers? Are you staying up to date and on top of trends? Determine a reasonable strategy, whether it means daily social media posts, posting blogs or articles two to three times a week, or seasonal promotions.

5. Feel the need—the need for speed!

Feel the need--the need for speed.Nobody likes a sluggish website. When the next option is only a click away, the chances of a potential customer actually waiting for a stalling website to load are slim to none. Cut down on bandwidth-hogging applications like Flash or JavaScript, and compress your files and images. Page speed is factored into search engine rankings.

6. Stay mobile

The popular build-a-site websites we mentioned earlier each come with arsenals of free templates for the not-so-technically-inclined. Make sure to choose one that is also designed to suit mobile devices. Not only are visitors unlikely to stay on your page if it isn’t readable on their phones and tablets, but Google is now factoring mobile optimization into its ranking system.

7. ‘Cause it’s all about those links, ’bout those links, no bouncing!

Basic but beautiful is the concept of linking back to your own website. Every time you post new content, include a link back to your site, be it to your homepage, landing page, or archive. If you’re using social media to market your business (and you really should be), include links to your website in your posts. Finally, establish relationships with relevant websites so that you can provide links to each other’s sites. Each link means more potential traffic and a greater chance of appearing in search engine results; just make sure that links to your site are appearing on legitimate, relevant pages.

How do I know if it’s working?

What is success if you can’t see it? Take a moment now to sign up for Google Analytics. This comprehensive system of tools lets you track who your customers are, what it is they need, what they’re looking at on your website, and how they’re reacting to it. You can also monitor what paths bring visitors to your website and from what kinds of devices so that you can continue tweaking your site to further drive traffic and conversions. From there, the power is all yours!

Image sources: Leeroy/Stocksnap.io, hingoba/Pixabay.com

 

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

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What Can Inklyo’s Copywriting Resources Do For You?

Copywriting ResourcesWhat is the most important part of a business’s website? Is it the product descriptions? The pictures? The navigation system? No, the most essential part of any website is its killer content. The content is what builds up a website’s search engine ranking, and it’s what keeps customers coming back for more. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure that your content shines.

But what if you’re not the best writer or think your writing could be improved? Having to create all this content can be overwhelming.

Don’t fret! With a willingness to learn and the right resources, you can easily improve your content writing skills and develop the knowledge and habits to consistently produce stellar content for your blog or website. Check out the list below to learn some copywriting tips that will form the basis of your copywriting education. Then, develop your practical writing skills with Inklyo’s writing courses and ebooks.

1. Copywriters are, first and foremost, writers.

Businesses want their website copy to be persuasive and earn the trust of potential customers. The best way to do this, however, is not to stuff the website with dry company information or grandiose but empty promises. Producing engaging copy is no different than producing an engaging novel: it must be grounded in a solid understanding of grammar, language, and storytelling.

If a website’s content is poorly written—either filled with typos or filled with cheesy slogans—it says something about the company that produced it. Before you write your website’s copy, make sure you thoroughly edit your work and employ the art of telling a story.

2. Copywriters write for the reader.

As a copywriter, try to put yourself in customers’ shoes. Put yourself into the minds of readers to understand how to speak to them. If your company has developed buyer personas, reviewing these is a great way to create a mindset that will allow you to write something they will want to read. In addition to enticing potential clients to read the content, once you know whom you are writing for, you can help the reader to look at things from a particular perspective. For instance, if you want to draw attention to the benefits of a particular product, gear the article toward the reader by uniting the problems the reader is likely experiencing with the solutions offered by your product.

3. Copywriters write for the business.

In addition to aligning themselves with readers, copywriters should align themselves with their company’s goals. By maintaining good communication with employers and other team members, all parties know what will be included in the copy to produce the desired outcome. This way, the content produced by you, the copywriter, will be in tune with the specific end goals of the business. If you know the end goals, you can clearly convey your company’s message to the public.

4. Copywriters write using search engine optimization.

The Internet categorizes information based on relevance. Search engines will pull up articles that fit certain keywords based on criteria such as the articles’ content, metadata, and posting date. Copywriters need to be aware of what keywords and phrases to include to ensure that the content is optimized and can be found by the readers who are looking for it. This way, the content is brought up in searches more often and will increase the visibility of your site. You should also make sure that the content is not simply stuffed with keywords but incorporates them in a way that sounds natural. This will make the content more enjoyable to read and will help your site avoid penalties from Google.

Conclusion

There’s always something new to learn in the field of copywriting. In addition to having a solid grasp of grammar and being a good writer, copywriters need to stay abreast of new trends and changes in search engine optimization best practices. There is no “finish line” when you’re a copywriter; there’s always a new challenge to overcome or a new skill to learn. This can be daunting, but remember that you don’t have to do it all alone. Check out Inklyo’s blog and other writing resources for help along the way.

Image source: fancycrave1/Pixabay.com

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Taking the First Page on Google with SEO Content Writing

Taking the First Page of Google

Taking the First Page of GoogleThere’s nothing worse than spending hours on content writing for your business’s website, only to then lose that content in the abyss that is the Internet. One of the most important parts of creating quality content is taking steps to ensure you have an audience to read it. Writing with SEO principles in mind can help you make sure that your articles aren’t lost in the sea of competing content.

Learn the SEO basics

Before you began marketing your business, you may never have heard about search engine optimization (SEO). That’s okay—most people haven’t. If you haven’t been trained in the basics of SEO, you may not know the best way to catch a search engine’s attention. What you need to do is educate yourself. Learn how to optimize your content so you get the highest number of hits per article possible. There’s lots of SEO information available online, and there are seminars you can attend and courses you can take to improve your SEO knowledge. Knowledge of the SEO basics will allow you to seamlessly incorporate keywords and phrases into your articles to help search engines find your content and your business.

Understand your market

Your SEO strategy will only be effective if you have a good understanding of the market you’re trying to attract. Because you’ll be working to attract your audience on a daily basis, you need to know as much about that audience as you can. Using consumer comment tools is a good way to learn about your readers. Take the feedback you receive from your audience, and use the best of it to ensure that you’re adapting your articles to the people reading them. Keeping your articles in tune with the needs and wants of your readers will help you attract and retain an even larger readership than you may have otherwise.

Focus on quality

Whether you outsource your editing needs or assign them to in-house workers, you should have editors checking your articles, blog posts, and other content for any potential errors. Your editing process should involve multiple sets of eyes looking at your content before you publish it. Quality always trumps quantity, especially when it comes to SEO content writing.

Image source: FirmBee/Pixabay.com

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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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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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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.

Image source: iqoncept/BigStockPhoto.com

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