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Why Start A Blog? 4 Great Reasons

Why Start a Blog? 4 Great Reasons

Sure, you’ve heard of blogging.Why Start a Blog? 4 Great Reasons

Maybe you’ve even tried it once or twice.

With everything else you have on your plate, however, you’re probably thinking it’s a waste of time.

The truth is, starting a blog is one of the best marketing tactics for your business. Blogging has tons of great benefits, from increasing your conversion rate to connecting with clients on a more personal level.

Why start a blog indeed. Still not convinced? Let’s look at some of these advantages in detail.

Advantage #1: A blog helps you find clients.

Have you ever needed something and didn’t know where to look?

Chances are, there are hundreds of customers looking for a company just like yours. By starting a blog, you’ll be creating a new way for these clients to find you.

The key to making this process work is search engine optimization. If you place keywords strategically throughout your blog posts, search engines will be more likely to send ideal clients to your website.

Sharing your blog posts on social media is another good way to generate leads. According to Neil Patel of KISSmetrics, a blog can increase inbound links to your website by over 90%. With blogging, you can tailor content to your clientele, making it more likely that they’ll purchase a product or service.

Advantage #2: A blog leads to more sales.

Static content, such as a contact page on a company website, tells your readers important information.

More often than not, however, webpages don’t ask the reader to do anything.

That’s why the call-to-action page is so important. Without it, potential customers won’t take that next important step—finding out what your company can do for them.

By starting a blog, you’ll be able to issue calls-to-action on a regular basis. This can be as simple as inviting your readers to leave a comment. You can also take it a step further and ask them to join your email list.

Without a call-to-action, your readers will have little incentive to check out the rest of your products and services. According to Mashable, the average bounce rate for websites hovers around 50%.

With a blog, you have a cost-effective way to increase client retention and ensure your audience is always engaged.

Advantage #3: A blog lets you show your expertise.

When your car breaks down, you visit the mechanic. If you get the flu, you make an appointment with the doctor.

Why do we rely on certain people to solve certain problems?

The answer is simple: we see them as experts.

To launch a successful business, you must be able to prove that you’re an expert in your niche. Blogging is an excellent place to start because it reaches such a wide audience. For example, the total monthly readership for blogs on WordPress.com is over 400 million people.

Even if you’ve never written a blog before, it’s easy to get started. What you write should clearly reflect your strengths as a business. For example, a content writing service could blog on time-saving techniques for writers. A graphic design company could produce infographics to enhance its blog posts.

You should also consider guest blogging on another website in your industry. When readers see that other experts have given you their seal of approval, they’ll be more likely to see you as an authority.

Advantage #4: A blog lets you put your business into your own words.

How often do you get a chance to tell people what your company is really about?

If you’re like most businesses, it’s probably not often. Outbound marketing techniques, such as sales calls, are often brief and impersonal. You don’t always have time to convey your services in the way you want.

What if there was an easy way to put it all out there?

Blogging could be the answer you’re looking for. With a blog, you’ll have the freedom to put your company into your own words. Whether your business is brand new or something you’ve been working on for years, blogging allows you to put a personal touch on your public brand.

Experts agree that highlighting your company’s personality increases customer loyalty. For example, Forbes writes that business storytelling helps create a meaningful connection with clients.

The next time a customer asks about what you do, point them to your blog. They’ll appreciate having such an approachable, informal window into your company.

Start Small, Dream Big.

You’ve learned about the advantages of blogging. Now, it’s time to get writing.

As in any new business venture, it’s OK to start small. Try setting up a publishing schedule—like one post a week—and sticking to it.

Over time, you’ll reap the benefits of more sales for your business and higher customer satisfaction.

Good luck with your blogging journey, and remember to have fun!

Image source: docstockmedia/Shutterstock

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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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Web Content Development Tips

Inklyo.com's eight tips for effective web content development.

Eight tips that will bring your content to the next level

Inklyo.com’s eight tips for effective web content development.Help! I know nothing about web content development, but I need to design a website for my business! What do I do?

Do not panic. Plenty of people need to design websites, but very few know every technique for optimizing their site. The first thing you need to know about is developing high-quality web content. The content is what makes the website valuable for your customers. Without informative content, the website cannot serve your business’s goals.

So what do you include in your content to develop it? Here are a few simple tips to get you started with web content development.

1. Use headings

A great way to format your content is to divide it into points and use headers to describe them. This gives your customers a good idea of what information they will get from reading each point. Then, they can decide which ones they want to read and which ones they want to skip. If the text is simply one long document, the customer could get overwhelmed and decide your page is not worth reading.

2. Inverted-pyramid style

From their first look at your page, your customers will decide if they want to continue reading it. It is essential that most of the information that you think is important to your business be included in the first content section that appears on the home page. This way, the customers can get a good idea of your business and what you do, and they can make an informed decision about whether they should invest the time to read the website.

3. Call to action

This is where you direct your customers to what you want them to do. Make sure you explicitly tell the readers how to engage with your business. For example, if your website sells a product or service, write a statement that says something like “buy now” or “purchase today” so readers know how they can use the information on the site.

4. Bold keywords

It’s very rare that a customer will visit your website and read every single word on the page. Instead, you’ll get customers passing through for a glimpse or visiting to find particular information. Cater to this audience by bolding all the keywords and phrases in your content that are important to your business. This makes them jump out at the customer. In addition, search engines pick up on bolded words as keywords and phrases for search engine optimization, which will make your business’s website appear when customers search for those words.

5. Use lists

People like to read short content that flows nicely. A great way to format your web content and make it flow is to use a list. Short, bulleted lists present the reader with a clear layout that will help them retain the information because they do not have to pick it out from long, complex paragraphs.

6. Allow the content to stand on its own

Make each page of your website easy to navigate and understand. That way, if customers begin on a random page, they will not get lost in your web content. Every page should include essential information about your site (such as the business’s name), navigation, and an outline of the website. This will ensure your readers are never confused and always understand the message of the website.

7. Link to other pages

Instead of explaining every last detail to your customers in your web content, use links to direct them to explanations and more information. This keeps your web content short and concise, which is appealing to readers.

8. Pictures

Try to use pictures that complement your content. Visuals will engage readers in a dynamic way and might make them interested in learning more.

Image source: Ivelin Radkov/BigStockPhoto.com

25 Website Essentials For Boosting Traffic, Leads, And Sales

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Why Does Your Business Need a Newsletter Service?

Inklyo.com explains why email newsletters are still an essential part of web marketing for your business, and why you need a newsletter service.

Inklyo.com explains why email newsletters are still an essential part of web marketing for your business, and why you need a newsletter service.With the emergence of Web 2.0 and social media websites, it might seem like email is a thing of the past. Why bother putting so much effort into a newsletter that will barely be read by the public? What does your business have to gain?

Actually, there is quite a bit to gain from creating a weekly email newsletter (e-newsletter), even though email can seem like a prehistoric technology.

1. People still check their email

Although many young people use social media for their news, correspondence, and other networking activities, email still remains at the center of them all. Each one of these social media websites is connected to an email account that their users need to check regularly for business or work-related purposes, confirmation emails, and various other reasons. Many people still use email on a regular basis, so it’s important to make sure that your business is catering to that demographic.

2. It builds a relationship

Email is a great way to directly address your customers and build personal relationships with them. In an email, you can write directly to you customers and speak to them on a personal level so that they feel connected to your business.

3. It reminds customers that you’re still around

Sending a weekly update to your customers reminds them that your business is still operating and that there have been changes to your website. This sparks interest that may not have been there before. It also encourages the customer to check your website for the updates you referred to in your e-newsletter.

4. It automatically adds SEO content to your website

Even though the email newsletters you create will be delivered to your customers, a copy of each newsletter will be on your website. This adds content to your website, which is then used to increase your SEO. By adding more keywords to your website, you can increase your chances of appearing in keyword searches on major search engines.

5. It makes a big impact for a small cost

Unlike paper newsletters that need to be written, edited, printed, and delivered, e-newsletters do not require the latter two steps. Email cuts the cost of printing and delivery by electronically sending out your information through a mass medium. In addition, the delivery method is instantaneous, which means that all the necessary information can be sent out in a matter of seconds.

6. It links directly to your website

Hypertext linking to your website gives your business the opportunity to lead customers directly to it. Unlike paper flyers that require visiting your store in person, linking makes it easy for them to access your business instantly. Giving them the ability to access your website this easily encourages customers to visit the exact web pages you referred to in your e-newsletter.

7. Advertises to interested customers

By having a subscription list of potential customers, you are advertising your product or service to those who are already interested in engaging with your business. Prospective customers will agree to receive emails, and engaging with this audience will be more likely to yield results rather than only advertising to a general audience.

Although email might seem like a thing of the past, e-newsletters can still help your business thrive on the web.

Image source: Ivelin Radkov/BigStockPhoto.com

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How to Craft a Content Marketing Mission Statement

In theory, content marketing is the perfect form of promotion. It’s affordable, effective, entertaining, and educational. There’s just one problem.

It takes a lot of effort.

Content marketing, as John Buscall once said, is a commitment, not a campaign. Joe Pulizzi, a seasoned content evangelist with the Content Marketing Institute, said a similar thing last week during his address at mesh13. According to Pulizzi, content marketing never stops — the minute you stop telling your story is the minute your customers stop listening.

With that being said, content marketers and brands struggle when it comes to creating engaging content for their customers and followers. Back in the day, brands and marketers could get away with publishing empty articles and uninspired blogs; all that mattered was pushing something, anything into the Google engine. But that was then. Search engines have gotten smarter and so have the people that use them.

Now, in order to succeed with content marketing, you need to get serious about the type of content that you’re producing. Or as Joe would say, you need to start creating content that follows a content mission statement.

How Joe Pulizzi creates a content mission statement

Creating a content mission statement will help you to not only stay focused and motivated when it comes to your marketing plan, but it will also help you clearly define your content why — the reason that you’re producing the content in the first place. A solid mission will make it easier for you to produce content that does its job: generate leads, engage readers, builds brand sentiment, and convert customers.

So, what’s your why?

According to Joe, you can’t answer the why until you can recognize the who. The who, of course, is your target audience. In order to create content that will resonant with your customers, you need to know who they are and what their pain points consist of before you can create and deliver content that is truly useful to them.

Take your time understanding your who. If your company markets to multiple demographics and target audiences, make note of each one. Content that appeals to one group won’t necessarily attract the interests of another, so don’t make generalizations. This research period may result in the discovery of multiple whys and multiple content missions, which is perfectly acceptable. The better you understand your who the easier it will be to create content that speaks to them.

Once you’ve established your who it’s time to established your what. In other words, what do you want these target customers to do once they’ve consumed your content? If you don’t have an end goal established, you’ll never be able to track whether or not your content has been successful.

An important note: Generating shares, likes, and retweets should not be considered primary goals. While these user indicators help to build your brand’s reputation and can help generator sales, their value is hard to discern. This is why Joe recommends building your goal around the number of converted leads and the total cost per lead — this is where your true value lies. Secondary indicators should include things like blog subscribers, email list subscribers, and lead quality.

Building out your mission statement

Now that you’re armed with your who and what, you can clearly establish your why in a succinct mission statement. Joe provided this great example from Inc.com:

“Welcome to Inc.com, the place where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their businesses.”

This statement clearly tells you:

  1. Who the target audience is: entrepreneurs and business owners
  2. What is being delivered and how it will benefit them: useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their business

Inc.com’s content mission statement is tight and concise, and that’s precisely why the magazine has such a dedicated online readership. This is a company that knows what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and who they’re doing it for.

Do you?

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A Beginner’s Guide to Content Strategy

Using content as part of a marketing strategy requires time, expertise, planning, and proper management. Don’t produce bad content. Plan for the publication and distribution of unique, relevant, and engaging content through the implementation of a content strategy.

What is a content strategy?

There are a number of definitions for content marketing floating around the Internet. Here are a few good ones worth pondering:

  • Content strategy has been described as “the practice of planning for content creation, delivery, and governance” and “a repeatable system that defines the entire editorial content development process for a website development project” (Wikipedia).
  • Content strategy is using “words and data to create unambiguous content that supports meaningful, interactive experiences.” (Rachel Lovinger, Content Strategy: The Philosophy of Data).

Kristina Halvorson, author of the book Content Strategy for the Web explains content strategy in the following way:

“It plots an achievable roadmap for individuals and organizations to create and maintain content that audiences will actually care about. It provides specific, well-informed recommendations about how we’re going to get from where we are today (no content, or bad content, or too much content) to where we want to be (useful, usable content people will actually care about).”

A well-thought-out content strategy takes into consideration the culture, approach, and end goal of delivering information about your company, product, service, or brand. Where should you publish content? When? How often? What kind of content is best suited for this purpose? When done properly, content can be used strategically as an asset and a quantifiable ROI.

Why do I need a content strategy?

Many companies think they can simply “wing it” when it comes to creating content. A couple of articles here, a press release or infographic there — easy, peasy.

Not quite.

Think of it this way. You wouldn’t try to cook a complicated meal without the help of a recipe. Nor would you try to drive to a remote destination without the aid of a GPS or Google Maps. A content strategy acts in a very similar way. Not only does it provide you with an end goal to work towards, but it also enables you to outline detailed instructions for achieving these results.

What should my content strategy contain?

Before you plan your content strategy, check out Kristina Halvorson’s article The Discipline of Content StrategyIn this post, Halvorson explains that every content strategy should start with the following elements:

  • key themes and messages
  • topic recommendations
  • purpose (how will your content close the gap between what your audience is looking for and what your business is offering?)
  • content gap analysis
  • metadata frameworks and any necessary content attributes (including various search engine optimization techniques)
  • any implications of strategic recommendations on content creation, publication, and governance

These basics will then lead to a more in-depth analysis of editorial strategies, content management, content delivery and distribution, ongoing optimization goals, and key performance metrics.

And you thought you were just publishing a blog!

Putting together a content strategy will help ensure that you have the right resources in place to produce the content you need to set your company apart from the competition.

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Inbound Marketing Explained in Three Easy Steps

Inbound marketing is one of the best ways to attract and nurture new leads and potential prospects. When executed properly, this permission-based marketing tactic drives relevant traffic to your website, turning visitors into prospective customers and converting leads into sales. This method of attracting qualified traffic to your website is both effective and efficient.

So, how can you get customers to invest in your inbound marketing? It all starts with the creation of compelling content.

The inbound marketing funnel

According to HubSpot there are three distinct steps to inbound marketing lead generation:

Step one: Get found

The production and distribution of informative, engaging content will maximize the number of people you attract to your inbound marketing funnel, which in turn will impact the number of customers who come out of the funnel.

The creation of great content impacts your website in the following ways:

  • causing your site to perform better in organic search engine results
  • attracting natural backlinks from other websites
  • spreading information through social networking and sharing sites
  • increasing newsletter subscribers and widening your distribution network

All of these outcomes will help you bring in warm leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers. Getting found is the most important step of the process — you can’t convert visitors into customers if you don’t have any visitors to begin with after all!

Here are three top tactics for getting found online:

Blogging

Companies that blog have been shown to get 55% more leads than those who don’t.

Search engine optimized content

Most customers begin their buying process by searching for product information on Google. Make sure your website is listed prominently on search engine results pages by integrating targeted keywords and properly optimizing your website code.

Content marketing

Once you’ve got the knack of publishing content to your blog, take things one step further and develop a content marketing strategy. Unlike blogging, content marketing isn’t restricted by a medium or platform. A robust content marketing strategy can include viral videos, webinars, white papers, and more.

Step two: Convert

Step two of the inbound marketing funnel kicks into high gear once qualified visitors hit your website. This is the beginning of the lead nurturing process. Well-crafted content, call-to-action buttons, special offers, and targeted landing pages will help you lead potential prospects deeper into the funnel.

Not sure how to nurture leads on your website? Here’s a quick and easy three-step process:

  1. Build a targeted landing page. Remember all of the content that you created and distributed back in step one? All of this content should have included backlinks to one or more targeted landing pages on your website. This way, when a visitor clicks on this call to action, they’ll be taken directly to a page where this action is fulfilled…after the user subscribes to your email marketing list, of course!
  2. Stay in touch with email marketing. Email marketing is a great way to nurture long-term relationships with potential prospects and loyal customers. Focused email campaigns that contain relevant content will help establish your company as an industry leader and guide people through the sales process.
  3. Get personal with marketing automation. Keep the lines of communication open by sending customized marketing messages to your company’s followers. For example, if a visitor downloaded a case study from your site, you might want to send them a series of emails that contains related information. However, if this visitor signed up to participate in a webinar, you might want to change any follow-up communication in order to ensure relevancy.

Step three: Analyze

No inbound marketing campaign is complete until you’ve sat down and reviewed the numbers. Once you’ve started to convert visitors into leads and leads into sales, it’s time to analyze your inbound marketing funnel in order to figure out ways to make the customer attraction and retention process more efficient. This will involve looking at website visitor metrics, leads, conversion rates, sales, and industry benchmarks.

All of this information will help you set and track specific marketing goals that will ultimately have a positive impact on your bottom line.