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2 Getting More Sales with the Buyer’s Journey

How does someone decide to buy a product or service?

This is answered by the customer life cycle or sometimes called the Buyer’s Journey. The sale is made when a buyer goes through three key phases: Awareness, Consideration and then Decision.

In the Awareness phase, a buyer starts from being problem aware to researching about their needs and then setting up priorities for their purchase.

In fact, you’ll be surprised that “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier”(CEB). This means that they would be doing their research online, with reference to influencers, and authorities on the topic before they even make an inquiry.

Therefore, the most important way to reach out to potential buyers in the awareness stage is to be there when they are researching by having an online presence either by SEO, paid online ads or content marketing (and importantly Re-Targeting). The goal is to get potential buyers into your mailing list by offering them access to information (e.g. ebooks or whitepapers) or tools (e.g. assessment tools).

Once they “Know” you and are in your mailing list, you can send them educational material and progressively profile them with Marketing Automation, to discover their fears, problems and priorities. When they start to engage with your content regularly, they are starting to “LIKE” you.

In the Consideration phase, the buyer has shortlisted a few possible solution providers, and may be doing additional research. How would you stand out at this stage? The answer is authority and social proof. Authority can be inferred when you are quoted in industrial journals, influential blogs, and media interviews. And social proof can come from solid Case Studies and good client testimonials. This is the time when the potential buyers start to “TRUST” you.

When the potential buyer eventually makes an enquiry, can you offer a way for them to “TRY” your product or service? This gives them an easier way to assess the value of your product or service and lowers the risk of them making a wrong decision. This could come the form of samples, free demos, free consultations, one-dollar-trials, money-back guarantees etc. You could also provide assessment tools or gap analysis reports to help them to see how your solution can best help them achieve their goals.

A finally in the Decision phase, how can you help the buyer ease into the buying process? Just making it convenient to “BUY”, can actually help you close more sales. For example: providing installment plans, discounts, free perks from partners etc.

The stages KNOW, LIKE, TRUST, TRY, BUY are the first 5 phases of the Duct Tape Marketing Hourglass.

To examine this in a more detail, let’s take for example the Marketing Hourglass strategy for a consultancy business illustrated below:

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1. KNOW stage.

To get potential buyers to know you, you post blog articles and run ads on facebook targeting at a specific demographic that you want. The viewer lands on your conversion optimized landing page with rock-star copy-writing, and downloads your eBook, becoming a lead. In addition, the lead explores your website, downloads more content, gets progressively profiled, and subscribes to your newsletter. IF the viewer does not opt-in, you can re-target them with different ad copies on Facebook or websites they are likely to visit (using Google Re-targeting on Display Network) until they become a lead by opting into your list.

2. LIKE stage.

To get your lead to like you, you give away valuable content via emails that helps them in meeting their goals. The content you send are not salesy but educational, in multi-media formats: article, infographics, videos, images. You also invite them to your facebook page, where they can see more  edutaining content you post. You know they are ready to move to the next stage because they have been opening your emails, clicking links, watching videos, visiting specific web pages. (you can achieve this with lead-scoring via Marketing Automation). IF the lead is not engaged yet, try sending them material relating to a different pain point.

3. TRUST stage.

Sharing successful case studies from actual customers, and social proof in the form of high ratings, positive reviews, and even video testimonies go a long way in establishing trust. The prospect now sees your services through the lens of happy clients. The call-to-action at this point is to invite the prospect to “TRY” your service or product. In this instance, the prospect is invited to join a webinar, where they are expected to request for a FREE gap analysis report. IF the lead attended the webinar but did not take up the free gap analysis report, you could send them a self-help assessment tool, with more case studies, or endorsements from influencers.

4. TRY stage.

After the report is generated, the prospect is invited to a complimentary 30-min consultation to go through the report, highlighting the gaps and potential for improvements. This allows the prospect to experience your expertise as a consultant and evaluate cost-benefit of engaging your services. The ideal outcome of this stage is for the prospect to request for a proposal. IF the prospect attended the webinar but did not take up the free gap analysis report, you could send them a self-help assessment tool, with more case studies, or endorsements from influencers.

5. BUY stage.

Three days after receiving your proposal, you schedule a follow-up call to explain the process of engagement. The prospect is happy with the proposal and signs the consultation agreement contract, and makes the first payment. You enter into the project fulfillment stage. IF the prospect did not accept the proposal immediately, there could be 2 reasons: “Price” or “Unsure of the ROI”. You could offer more favorable payment terms, throw in some freebies, make a limited offer discount, reduce the scope or send them more justifications from customer success stories and testimonials. 

Automating the Buyer’s Journey

All these follow-up actions require a coordinated marketing effort, diligent follow-up. Marketing Automation ties up all these activities by adding rich information about prospects as they interact with your content, setting up tasks and reminders, sending them personalized messages according to their pain points and priorities.

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In the “Know-to-Like” stage, an email campaign sequence comprising of articles, videos, infographics are sent to the lead. Each activity: video watch, email open, visit to pages, answering of surveys, completing quizzes, joining the facebook group etc are tracked and scored. Once a predetermined engagement score is reached, the “Like-to-Trust” sequence can be launched.

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In the “Like-to-Trust” sequence, the prospect is invited to a webinar, where they will be offered a free gap analysis report, and a free 30-min consultation to run through the report. Reminders are sent to the prospect 3 days before. If they missed the webinar, we would send an email with the links to the replay and the gap analysis form. We could also get a sales rep to give them a call to get some feedback, further qualifying the prospect.

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In the “Trust-to-Buy” sequence, the prospect attends the consultation call, which ends up with 2 possible outcomes: (1) they ask for a proposal (2) they say they are not ready at the moment. Automation can be set according to the outcome, setting up a task for the proposal to be sent for (1) and sending them follow up or down-sell a self-serve product for (2).

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Outcome 1 – Send proposal:

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Outcome 2 – Not ready yet:

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To know which part of the buyers’ journey the prospect is at is crucial the lifecycle marketing strategy. Marketing Automation is almost always essential for lead nurturing, lead scoring, profiling, personalization, and other analytics to measure the level of engagement, and triggering the offer at the right time.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Sales.

 

Brendan-Yong.jpgBrendan Yong is a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant specialized in marketing automation based in Singapore. His company Empathi Solutions helps Asia-based clients build Marketing Systems to Grow Predictable Revenue using Infusionsoft CRM as the primary marketing automation tool.

9 How to Optimize Your Site for Google's Featured Snippets (Quick Answer Boxes)

featured-snippetsIn 2014, Google introduced a new way to satisfy a user’s intent by giving them quick answers right within SERPs in the “featured snippet” position (above the top organic result and below the paid listing) and online businesses and publishers have been trying to adapt to the change since then.

On one hand, featured snippets present a challenge to online publishers by sometimes removing the need to ever click through to their sites. On the other hand, they have given e-commerce sites a new opportunity to rank for informational queries and boost their site visibility.

Ranking in the Quick Answer box does give a huge competitive advantage, so there’s no way businesses can ignore those.

Here’s a two-step tutorial on optimizing your content for featured snippets:

1. Find out Which Questions Google Users Are Asking

Google won’t show quick answers to any queries that sound like a question (with words “how”, “why”, “what”, etc.) but they do for most of them already. The key to getting into the featured snippet position is to understand which questions people are asking in your niche and how to answer them with your content.

Investigate which questions users type into Google’s search box

SerpStat is a brilliant tool that returns Google Suggest phrases based on your provided term.

The beauty of the tool is that you can use “Only questions” filter to see all various questions people type using your base keyword:

featured-snippet-04

Investigate your current referrals

In most cases, pages that get into the featured snippet are those that already rank high for that query (1-5 top positions), so explore your Webmaster Tools “Search Analytics” section as well as Google Analytics top search referral landing pages reports to identify your site pages with the highest potential to get featured in the quick answer box.

To see your question-related queries in Google Webmaster Tools, go to Search Traffic -> Queries and from there filter “Queries” by various question words you are researching. Below, for instance, I am filtering my queries by “how” (Keep “Position” checked because, as I have already mentioned, the higher the organic position, the better your chances to get featured in the Quick Answer Box):

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Apart from those two tools provided by Google, you can also try Brightedge which is the only web analytics solution I am aware of that is tracking whether your site is appearing in “quick answer” boxes and which queries have those:

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Ask real people what questions they would ask on your topic

MyBlogU (Disclaimer: This is the site I have founded) is a good place to get the community to help: Simply create a new project, describe your topic and ask the users to submit their questions.

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Track questions people ask on Twitter

User-generated content is one of the best sources of “how-to” content inspiration. Oftentimes, the first place people turn for help to is Twitter and Facebook. While I don’t know a good way to monitor what people are asking on Facebook, Twitter is easy and open.

I use Cyfe to monitor several phrases and related questions people tweet. The beauty of the tool is that it archives all widget results, so I can always go back to find some content inspiration:

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The search phrase I was using to retrieve the questions from Twitter was

“how to” apple

2. Add a Section (or Many Sections) on Your Site Answering Related Questions

With Google providing so much opportunity to non-commercial how-to content, many brands have started taking informational search queries much more seriously. Here are just a few more or less creative examples:

HomeDepot is building “Project: How to” section which is very-well-integrated into the e-commerce part of the site:

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Sitegeek has added “Q&A” section to each included hosting page answering most popular user-generated questions about the specific service:

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Werther’s Original have expanded product information by including “Nutrition facts” and “Ingredients” sections:

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Notice their product pages are now included into the featured snippet:

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Here’s a few content tips to show Google your content is answering a specific question and have better chances to get featured in Google’s Quick Answer boxes:

  • First state that question explicitly on the page
  • Then answer that question in no more than two sentences
  • Below elaborate on the topic in the article (to avoid Panda filters, your content needs to be profound but to trigger a featured snippet appearance, your content should be very specific, so aim for both)
  • Create a specific, yet in-depth page for each question you are targeting. It’s better if the actual query (together with the question word) appears in the URL slug

It hasn’t been confirmed but the educated guess is that the variety of content formats on the page answering the same question helps in ranking in the quick answer box. Consider turning your tutorial into a PDF and annotated video, for example. Here are more ways to re-package your content into:

featured-snippet-11

Apart from your site, your Youtube channel can be a good alternative to rank in the featured snippet box. It’s been noticed that Youtube how-to videos often appear in the Quick Answer boxes.

To optimize your Youtube videos, you need to:

  • Name your video exactly as the question you are targeting
  • Make sure your video has a voice transcript (Which is where Google seems to be taking the text explanation to feature in the Quick Answer Box)
  • Rank your video high in general Google search results (It would help if you could link to it from your own site. Use this detailed Youtube optimization checklist I have shared here)

Have you seen any success ranking in Google’s featured snippets? Please share your tips and results!

Ann Smarty is the Brand and Community manager at InternetMarketingNinjas.com as well as the founder of MyBlogU.com.

 

1 How to Strike the Right Content Balance for Maximum Reach

BrodyDorlandArticleImage

photo credit: Shutterstock

Every marketer knows the name HubSpot. Thanks to its blog posts, webinars, e-books, video content, and social media, HubSpot has established itself as a go-to resource in the industry. The company’s success serves as a case study in how to leverage content to grow a company.

Audiences today have unprecedented control over what they consume. They can customize their media experiences, and they have little tolerance for irrelevant content. Marketers must not only be creative in what they present to audiences, but also in how they deliver it.

HubSpot accommodates all of its readers by producing high-quality content across several platforms. At DivvyHQ, we also market to marketers, so we know the importance of diversity. An interesting mix of information and delivery methods attracts new customers, retains current clients, and educates your community.

Striking the right content balance comes down to knowing your audience. Any two customers might have radically different interests and ways of interacting with your brand. Once you know the individuals in your community, you can create a content strategy that resonates with each of them.

Great Strategies Begin With Infrastructure

Content isn’t worth much until you understand your audience. Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), develop buyer personas based on your market research. These customer profiles should dictate every aspect of your strategy.

Don’t write a single line of content until you’ve built the right infrastructure. Let the following principles guide your content planning:

  • Sustainability: Before starting a company blog, video series, and monthly webinars all at once, ask whether you have the manpower to follow through on all three. If you’re a small company with a one-person marketing shop, you may want to stick to weekly blog posts or a quarterly webinar for now. Sustainable quality trumps one-off quantity.
  • Frequency: Establish a publishing schedule, and stick to it. Put out valuable content on a consistent basis so your audience comes to rely on your insights.
  • Experimentation: Small teams often have ideas for five marketing channels and the resources for one. Start with the strategy most likely to resonate, and test others as your capabilities grow. By incorporating new tactics slowly, you maximize your results while maintaining quality and frequency.  

Variety Is the Spice of Content

Once you set a publishing schedule, build variety into your publishing platforms and the content itself. Here are the three key areas in which you want to diversify your approach:

 

  • Your Mission: Each content channel may serve a different purpose. Maybe you’re using email to promote a product, a blog post to educate, and a tweet to entertain. Whatever the end goal, the content and tone should reflect each channel’s mission.

 

  • The Format: Know whether your audience favors long-form articles or videos — or both. Let your research guide the types of content you produce to ensure you’re reaching your entire community with the format they’ll love.

 

  • The Channel: Identify which delivery vehicles stand the best chance of reaching your audience. Do your top prospects frequent Twitter or Pinterest? Are they more likely to act on an email or a video ad?  Marketers have access to countless media platforms, so experiment with a mix of channels, and document which ones best engage your target market.

People expect brands to create content that speaks to them on the platforms they prefer. You strike the right balance by knowing your audience and learning how best to communicate with them. The more adaptable you are as a marketer, the more likely you are to connect meaningfully with audiences on behalf of your company.

 

Brody-DorlandBrody Dorland is the co-founder of DivvyHQ, the ultimate content planning and production workflow tool for high-volume teams.

2 5 Winning Strategies for Millennial Marketing

millennial-marketing

photo credit: shutterstock

It’s no secret that millennials — young adults between 18-34 — are a hugely sought-after market segment. With upwards of 200 billion burning a hole in their pockets annually, winning their trust, and ultimately their business is a boon to any company.

Every generation has had its share of quirks, but millennials require a different touch when marketing to them. They are savvy enough to know when they’re being pitched to, and they have built up a resistance to it. The crucial element that makes them so hard to win over is the same thing that will boost your business if you’re successful: they absorb and put out social signals like crazy.

In other words, if you appeal to millennials the right way, you can get their business, as well as the added benefit of word-of-mouth on a potentially viral level. Here are five guaranteed strategies to get you started in the right direction.

Stay Mobile

As clichéd as it has become, millennials are hard-wired to their smartphones, so make sure your marketing strategy complements this behavior. First, think about the basics. If you use landing pages, are they optimized for mobile? They should be quick to load, and have a clear, mobile-friendly call-to-action (CTA.)

With that out of the way, start thinking about interesting ways you can use mobile to your advantage. Kiip, a “mobile rewards network” connects brands with users during “relevant moments” of online game play, essentially allowing a brand to sponsor an in-game reward. This type of seamless brand integration is a very welcome replacement for players being bombarded by intrusive web banners and is just the sort of thing that is likely to get the attention of millennials.

Create Peer Brand Evangelists

The oversaturation of traditional advertising, coupled with a world of options at their fingertips has led millennials to essentially tune out unwanted interruptions. They seek out the information they need, and there is great marketing opportunity here.

Rather than a traditional out-bound advertising model, you should be forming partnerships with online influencers that millennials already trust. Notable bloggers, podcasters, YouTube personalities, and Instagrammers are a fantastic way into the world of millennials. A recent study unsurprisingly found that younger consumers are heavily influenced based on the opinions of their peers and people they follow on social media. If you can successfully tap into that, you can build your word of mouth very widely, and very quickly.

Be Socially Connected

Just about every business has a social presence in 2016, but not everyone is using the right strategy to properly engage the millennial market. Just being in the social sphere isn’t enough — you have to effectively communicate with your audience.

When done correctly, your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram channels should make each and every customer feel special. (After all, this is the “me” generation we’re talking about.)

Here are several tactics you can use:

  • Loyalty programs for fans
  • Properly engage with customer comments (beyond canned responses)
  • Hold contests
  • Encourage user generated content by featuring it on your own channels
Apt2b-Instagram

photo credit: instagram

For instance, many successful Instagram campaigns regularly feature photos taken by their followers. Take the example of Los Angeles-based furniture retailer Apt2B. They encourage their customers to snap pics of their purchases so others can see their sofas and accessories in-context in somebody’s real apartment. It’s a win-win proposition because new customers get a no-B.S. view of the product while the photo provider feels good about being seen and heard by the company.

Create Authentic Content

While millennials have tuned out traditional advertising, they still value any information they deem to be authentic. So rather than going in for the hard sell, try providing your millennial audience with content they can learn from, or be entertained by. The more they interact with this type of content, your message can slowly soak in, especially if they get the sense that your business shares their core values.

As with any kind of campaign, you need to know your audience in order to speak their language. When millennials hear words that sound as if they could have come directly from their peers, (rather than from Madison Avenue,) they are much more likely to trust the message. If you can regularly provide this type of content that they not only respond favorably to, but would actually share online, it goes a long way toward building a real relationship with them.

Farmed-Dangerous

photo credit: Farmed & Dangerous

An excellent example of this in practice is Chipotle’s “Farmed and Dangerous” web series. Featuring a millennial sustainable farmer as the lead, doing battle against an ominous corporate food production company, Chipotle gets their brand messaging across in a subtle, entertaining way. Not only that, but it gets shared. A lot.

Give Them a Say

More than consumers, millennials are interested in taking on the more hands-on role of co-creator. Traditionally, companies have simply created products, hoping consumers would buy them. But now, with so many options out there, it makes sense to inform your decisions based on input directly from your audience. It makes them feel empowered, and you have the knowledge that your product has a built-in fanbase.

Take Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” campaign as a prime example. For the past few years, they put out a call to their fans, asking them to suggest new flavor ideas, as well as vote on the winners.

By reaching out to your audience and allowing them to be a part of the product creation through contests or social media campaigns, you are involving them in the process. In turn, they feel a sense of ownership in the product, which leads to increased brand awareness and loyalty. And any campaign that results in “Southern Biscuits and Gravy” flavored chips is alright by me.

Final Thoughts

Marketing to millennials isn’t rocket science. In fact, it’s incredibly intuitive, because all it requires is a human touch. Talking at them doesn’t work nearly as well as authentically engaging with them. By offering authentic experiences, and engaging content, and by listening to what they’re asking for, you can empower them to discover your brand on their terms.

I think we can safely expect this trend to continue with each subsequent generation, so the sooner we all learn the ropes of “new marketing,” the more successful we can all be.

 

 

wesmcdowellWes McDowell is the creative director at The Deep End Design, a digital marketing and design agency in Chicago. Forever curious about all things related to design, usability, and internet marketing, Wes loves sharing his findings with anyone who will listen.

2 Growing Your Business with Email Marketing Templates

email marketing

photo credit: Flickr

Which templates generate the best engagement? What kind of ‘asks’ will get you closer to your goals? By the end of this article, you will be able to write a killer email template that will get your contacts opening your emails in a heartbeat.

As a digital marketer who works primarily within the startup space, I am constantly under the gun to create low-budget marketing initiatives that drive growth but are still simple enough for a single (often non-marketing) person to carry out. I often turn to email marketing due to its straightforward nature. The right email templates can help you execute various email campaigns far more efficiently, but drafting an effective template can be a major stumbling block; there are just so many variables to keep in mind, like the length of the email and avoiding a sales-like tone.

After working on a multitude of email campaigns, I’ve identified the golden standard for marketing email templates. Read on to learn what kind of email templates can help you grow your business.

1. The Initial Email

Your opener is, perhaps, the most important part of your entire outreach and can often determine whether you gain a new client / contact, or end up on their block list. The trick is to research your contact, know what they care about, and appeal to their interests in the first two sentences of the email. For example, let’s say I am promoting my own content and want an influencer to post it on their site and link back to me. I might begin my email by referencing an article I liked on *their* website that is also relevant to the content I am promoting.

Consider the following template (items in brackets are custom fields):

Hi, [Tim the Trainer]

I was just reading your recent article on [ferret Frisbee training]. I found it to be extremely insightful and will be adding these methods to my ferret’s training regime!

I work for a ferret training firm in Cambridge, MA and I recently wrote a step-by-step guide to cooking the best ferret food that I think your audience would love. The food is very cheap to make, extremely nutritious, and my two ferrets love it.

Let me know if you would be interested in checking it out! 
   
Warm regards,

Drew

Notice that I am not asking for anything; only offering to add value to my contact. That’s a key component to the golden initial email— do not include a link or attachment to your content, and don’t ask for anything other than to help them. This builds rapport with your contact.

Also, make sure to keep your initial email brief, personal, and use a specific call-to-action (CTA). In just 5 sentences, I was able to:

  1. Establish a personal connection
  2. Introduce my content
  3. Pitch the value of hosting my content


The faster that you can accomplish these 3 things in your opening email, the better your chances of keeping people’s attention.

2. Positive Response Email

So, let’s say that Tim the Trainer liked the idea of your ferret food article and wants to hear more. Congrats, you are in! Now you can send them a link to check out your content as promised, and you can encourage them to share it with their audiences by— once again— offering your help. See below:

Tim,


Thanks for the reply, you can check it out here:

The Best Ferret Food of All Time- http://www.affordableferretfood.com/diu

If you decide to share this on your site, I’d be happy to write a custom intro to the post for you. 

Looking forward to your feedback!

3. Rejection as an Opportunity

email marketing

photo credit: flickr

Suppose that Tim responds but only to let you know that he will not be posting your content. This email actually opens the door to some great opportunities; though the current article might not get published on Tim’s website, chances are that he will have many useful connections within your target group and would be willing to refer you. Since you’re coming from a referral, these connections are likely to respond favorably to you.

I respond to these types of rejections by asking for an introduction to a colleague who might be a better fit, creating an opportunity out of a rejection.

Hey Tim,

Thanks for giving my article a look. Do you know anyone who would be a better fit for this type of content? I would also be interested in producing an article that would fit well with your website. I have been considering the following topics:

  • Top 5 summer ferret toys of 2015
  • Make your own ferret toys at home
  • Ferret toys that you may want to avoid this season

Would you be interested in posting about any of these topics?

Best,

Drew

Notice that this follow-up template also pitches a few custom articles tailored to this particular website. I don’t offer this service to just any of our publishing prospects but, if the right, high-authority website presents the opportunity, it never hurts to take it.

4. The 1-Week Rule             

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 1.29.32 PMIf a contact has not responded within one week’s time, I send out an email reminder. Whatever their reason, if you haven’t heard back within a week, the chances that you will never hear back are pretty high, so at this point you have nothing to lose by following-up. I often see the best responses to my follow-up when I use the following template:

Hi Tim,

Hope all is well! It’s been a week and I had not heard back from you yet, so I wanted to follow-up regarding the addition of my Ferret Food Article at http://www.affordableferretfood.com/diu to your list of helpful resources. 

It would be fantastic to hear your feedback on the content.

Thanks again – I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you soon!

All the Best,

Drew


[Note: I DO include the link to our resource in the follow-up because, at this point, it doesn’t hurt to make your content readily available and possibly expedite the process.]

Passing the Torch

These are some of the core components to a successful email template, but every case is different, so keep experimenting to see what works best for your unique space. I have given you the tools that you need, now it is up to you to build something memorable!

 

DrewDrew Frayre is a digital marketing analyst at Chimaera Labs . He manages SEO, web analytics, and content marketing for clients in the tech space.

How To Get More SEO Value Out of Your Existing Content

Most bloggers would agree that high-quality content creation requires a significant investment in time and energy. Because of this sunk cost associated with any existing content on your website, it’s crazy that bloggers don’t invest additional resources improving, optimizing and ranking underperforming pages. This is especially true when certain posts are just shy of reaching the first page of Google’s search results, where they could be earning you a return on your investment.

With a few of the tactics below, digital marketers can make sure that every piece of content they publish is generating traffic, leads, and ultimately revenue.

Use Google’s Webmaster Tools To Optimize Headlines and Keywords

Are you ever surprised at some of the keywords a post ends up ranking for? Even when you complete keyword research, decide to target a specific phrase, and optimize the post to rank for that term, you sometimes end up getting traffic from unexpected terms. If you find a post that isn’t ranking for your targeted keyword due to higher than anticipated competition, then maybe it’s better to repurpose the post and optimize it for another term.

To find these types of posts, you will need to access Google’s Webmaster Tools. Click on the “Search Analytics” tab on your Dashboard, or go under “Search Analytics” at the left and choose “Search Analytics” there.

GWT - Search Analytics

I prefer the old “Search Queries” report, so I click on the link towards the top of the page. Now you need to click on the “Top Pages” tab, sort by “Impressions”, and expand the tabs you are interested in analyzing. If you have a large blog, instead of working within your browser, you may want to click on “Download This Table”.

GWT - Top Pages

Ultimately what you are looking for are pages that have high impression counts but low clickthroughs (CTRs). These pages constitute your highest potential content because they are getting exposure in Google’s rankings but aren’t high enough to get more clicks. Optimizing these pages could easily earn you significantly more traffic.

Here are a few ways to optimize your titles and on-page SEO:

  • Use a hyphen or colon. When writing a title, I create for both Google and humans. The first half of the title is usually an exact match keyword phrase and the second half is a killer description to get the reader’s attention. For example, if I wrote an article about affiliate marketing, I would title it “CPA Marketing – How To Increase Your Affiliate Marketing Revenue By 137%”.
  • Add more content. When targeting additional keywords, it may be helpful to add more content that directly addresses the related topic, thereby increasing your post’s relevance. In doing so, you may rank for even more long-tail terms.
  • Target lower competition terms. If you’re a small business owner learning how to build a blog, you should not be targeting high-volume, high-competition keywords. This strategy will quickly exhaust your resources with little results. Always start with easy terms to build traffic and recognition, and as your blog’s backlink profile strengthens, target more valuable keywords. If a page is underperforming, this might be the underlying issue.

Internal Linking – Connecting Old and New Content

Internal linking is easily overlooked and underappreciated. Not only does internal linking old pages to new and new pages to old help decrease bounce rate, increase time on site, multiply your email subscribers and promote conversions, it can provide a slight boost in your on-page SEO and rankings.

In an algorithm that takes into account over 200 ranking signals, each given a different weight, a small boost in one category that pushes you up a position can get you double the traffic from a single keyword.

While internal linking is mostly self-explanatory, here are a few guidelines:

  • Find older, authoritative posts that rank high and add internal links to newer, high-value posts.
  • Don’t use the same exact match anchor text to link to a page dozens of times. Diversify your internal links and incorporate long-tail keywords.
  • Internal linking offers subtle results. Even if the tactic doesn’t increase your rankings, it can provide a better user experience, keep readers on your site longer, and most likely improve conversions.

Other Tactics To Leverage Old Content

While the suggestions above constitute the easiest adjustments you can make overnight, there are other ways to grow your blog using your existing content. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Outreach marketing. On-page SEO is important, but a campaign to increase your blog’s exposure and earn natural links will boost not only the page you are marketing but improve your entire site’s authority.
  • Share your content more than once. Perhaps you’ve developed a great resource that you’ve recently updated. Be sure to re-share old work that stands the test of time, but know the best times to post on social media so your content isn’t buried or unseen.
  • Create different forms of multimedia. Bloggers and internet users absolutely love images, graphics and different types of media. Creating a quality infographic using your existing content may be the solution to grabbing people’s attention, increasing shares, and earning links.

Gary DekGary Dek is a professional blogger, SEO expert, and freelance writer. He is the founder of StartABlog123.com as well as a dozen other niche websites and specializes in content marketing and link building strategies. Previously, Gary was an investment banking and private equity analyst.

1 5 Ways to Get The Most Out of Your Social Media Marketing This Year

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from our newest team member – Alex Boyer– Enjoy!

photo credit: shutterstock

You have always been told your business needs a presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but you have yet to see tangible results. Don’t give up! Here are five simple steps to kick-start your social media this year.

Set a Goal

You should set a basic goal for your social media activities for the year. This can be something simple like “increase participation in specials or sales,” “interact with existing customers and strengthen brand loyalty,” or something more complex like “Create a personality for your brand.” Every social media post for the year should in some way help you achieve that goal.

For example, take two popular restaurants in the Kansas City area: Grunauer (@grunauerKC) and Blanc Burgers and Bottles (@BlancBurgers). Blanc uses social media to remind their customers of daily and nightly specials, and release photos of new burger creations. Gurnauer forgoes the daily specials and instead uses their Twitter account to create personality for the restaurant, cheering for local sports teams and commenting on news stories. Both restaurants have significant social media following and every post from both fulfill their respective goals.

Draft a plan

Now that you have a goal to achieve, it is time to draft a plan for your social media year. You should start by creating an editorial calendar. Use your calendar to list your yearly sales events, local events (such as high-profile concerts or local festivals) and holidays. Keep an eye out for obscure holidays like “Talk like a pirate day” or “National Cheeseburger day,” as these are very popular on social media. You can even pre-draft social media posts for each of these events for use later.  If you ever reach a point in the year where you don’t know what to post, use this calendar for ideas.

You can even use the editorial calendar to plan “messages of the week,” content themes that you can use for a week or month at a time. For example, you can have your blog posts for a month focus on sales strategy. That way, you have a uniform starting point for each of your posts.

Social Specials

Give your customers a reason to interact with your social media by giving them “Social Specials”. These can include giveaways or discounts in store. Ask your fans to “Like this post for 10% off this week” or “Retweet for a chance to win.” In the case of discounts, you can even ask customers who come into your storefront if they have social media, and then tell them they can get a discount if they like your page. This will not only expand your social media following, but also engage users that are already customers. Plus, posting promotions on social media is cheaper than printing coupons in the newspaper.

Create a Dialogue

Social media platforms shouldn’t be used simply to distribute your messages, they should be a 2-way street between you and your customers. Use Twitter, Facebook, and your blog as a customer service tool as well. Allow your customers to come to you with their complaints, and address them promptly. Also, thank supporters for their kind words and share their positive reviews.  This gives your customers reason to interact with your social media pages, and creates a sense of community around your company.

Never Stop Creating Content

Finally, the most important step to getting the most out of your social media is to create content. You need to continue to create engaging, exciting content to draw new fans and keep your current fans’ attention.  You cannot forget about social media and must post regularly. The steps above should help you keep a steady flow of content for your supporters, but it is ultimately up to you and your team to keep executing. Your social media following cannot grow without content.

Social media marketing should be an important part of your marketing plan. Follow these five simple steps, and your social media presence is sure to grow over the next year.


Alex-Boyer-Photo-150x150-e1420769709443Alex Boyer is Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. It is his job to create and scour the internet for the best content for small businesses. In addition, he will continue to grow the Duct Tape Marketing community through interaction with clients and consultants in the Duct Tape Consultant Network on our website and through Social Media. Alex has a background in political marketing, where in-depth opposition and messaging research is critical to a successful campaign. He is focused on taking those tactics and using them to help your small business grow and reach more potential customers.

1 12 Simple Ways to Improve your Small Business Blog

 It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Steff Green – Enjoy!

angry man with computer

photo credit: Anton

As a business owner, you’re always keen to try new things. So when you heard that blogging was a great way to improve website traffic and brand awareness, you thought you’d give it a go.

Sadly your business blog hasn’t produced the results you wanted. Hardly anyone is visiting, no one is commenting, and you are losing the motivation to keep up with your regular posts. So what do you do if your blog is tired, stagnant, or you feel as if the content isn’t reaching the right audience?

Before you give up on your blog, here are 12 tips to kickstart your stagnant business blog and ensure all your hard work pays off:

  1. Have you gotten started on your blog? If you’ve been thinking about blogging for your business more than you’ve actually been blogging about your business, it’s time to get started. I love the free get started blogging guide at First Site Guide for simple, image-based direction for getting your blog up-and-running.
  2. Are you using social media to help grow your audience and promote your blog content? Perhaps it’s time you started. Don’t head straight for Facebook, though – think about where your audience is most likely to hang out and what they might be interested in. Pinterest and Instagram are growing social sites that love visual content and how-to tutorials.
  3. If you’re writing product tutorials (or any kind of tutorial), include images, videos, diagrams and other visual content. Not only is your piece more likely to be useful if it contains visual guides, but the images themselves will be shared on social media, expanding your reach.
  4. Ditch the “blog” moniker. Many people don’t actually read “blogs” and will assume your blog content is all company and product updates, even if you’re writing fun and useful articles. Call your blog tab “Articles” or “How-to guides” instead.
  5. With every Google update, guest blogging is becoming an obsolete form of generating backlinks. However, guest blogging is still a powerful way to grow your audience, as long as you aim for quality over quantity. Write a post on a lifestyle blog related to your industry; for example, if you’re a tourism company, create some content for a travel blog.
  6. Do you have an old blog post that still pulls in decent traffic? Update the post with new information and better images, tighten up the prose, and republish it with a strong call-to-action.
  7. Use an editorial calendar to plan your posts weeks and months in advance. This editorial calendar should be part of your company’s marketing calendar because you’ll need to plan content around your various campaigns.
  8. Create a top-ten list associated with your industry or product. For example, if you make and sell scented candles, compile a list of the top ten scents for getting rid of a bad mood.
  9. You don’t have to “create” all your content yourself – compile posts of “curated” images, quotes and videos related to a single subject. As long as you attribute all the creators, you can republish their content and create a picture resource for your readers. For example, if you’re an interior designer, you could compile a post of 25 beautiful rustic kitchen designs to help your clients dream up ideas for their kitchen.
  10. Create a playlist in Spotify for an occasion associated with your business. For example, if you’re a wedding planner, you could create a romantic wedding playlist. Publish this list on your blog and share it on other music websites.
  11. Create a list of popular books in your industry. Choose books by popular industry leaders, and focus on interesting titles that cover a range of abilities. For example, if you were a fashion designer, you might include books on sewing techniques, on the fashion industry, and biographies of famous designers. You could even use Amazon affiliate links to make a bit of extra money when someone clicks through to buy a book.
  12. Have fun! Blogging for your business is a lot better than researching keywords for search, or sending out hundreds of press releases in the hope of getting coverage. Embrace it!

Do you have a business blog that just isn’t working? How are you going to turn things around?

author pictureSteff is the author, blogger and heavy metal maiden behind steffmetal.com, a blog about loud music, alternative subcultures and her adventures living off-grid in rural New Zealand. Steff writes dark fantasy fiction for adults; her latest book, The Sunken, a dark steampunk fantasy set in Georgian London, is now available on Amazon. Sign up for her author newsletter and receive a FREE short story.

 

3 How and Why to Conduct a Meaningful Content Audit

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Liz O’Neil Dennison – Enjoy!

Content AuditYou’ve probably heard that a content audit is essential for driving engagement and revenue with content. But what is it, exactly? Why do you need one? And how do you do begin to tackle such a laborious task?

Read on.

What Is a Content Audit?

A content audit is a qualitative analysis of all the content your company has ever published online. It exposes where your content actually lives, how it’s performing, and where the thematic gaps are.

Before you can audit your content, you need to create a content inventory, a comprehensive list of the name, location, and description of each asset published by your brand.

Why Conduct a Content Audit?

If you don’t know what content you have, and how it’s performing, you can’t improve. The key to driving more leads, traffic and revenue through your content marketing is by identifying holes in your content deliverables.

With the content audit, you can understand which buyer personas and buying stages are poorly resourced, find and share content internally, access historical performance data, and identify what content should be archived or removed entirely.

Despite the clear values of the content audit, very few marketers actually conduct one. That’s because auditing content is a notoriously painful process. It can take weeks, or even months, to find, analyze, and document each asset your company has ever published online. But it doesn’t have to.

How to Conduct a Content Audit without Pulling Your Hair Out

Auditing your content isn’t rocket science. But there are critical steps all marketers must take to ensure their audit will be actually be useful. Here are the top five:

Step 1. Create Your Inventory

Before analyzing your content, you need a comprehensive list of it. Perform an inventory of all of your content across all of your brand domains, including social. If you’re going about this manually, document the name, URL, and description of each content asset in a spreadsheet.

If you have a significant body of content to manage, you’re better off just typing your brand URLs into a tool like The Content Auditor, which will automate this inventory process for you.

Step 2. Identify What Content Categories Matter Most

Get the most out of your audit by understanding what content categories are most important, both internally and externally. Your audit should provide a map of those attributes across your entire content library so you can see where the holes are.

For example, tagging content to buyer personas allows you to see what personas you’re ignoring. Tagging content to your buying cycle tells you if you need to dedicate more resources to building top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, or bottom-of-funnel content. Common content categories to tag include:

  • Author
  • Publish date
  • Persona
  • Buying Stage
  • Theme
  • Buyer-centric or product-centric
  • Product line
  • Blog category
  • Keywords
  • Content type
  • Competitor
  • Primary call to action
  • Content pillar
  • Social shares
  • Comments
  • Redundant, outdated, or trivial (ROT)

Include these categories in your excel spreadsheet and tag each asset appropriately or, if you’re using an automated tool, scroll through your online inventory to tag content.

Step 3. Map Your Content

When you’ve tagged all of your assets, you’ll end up with a pretty cool content map. You’ll be able to see which personas, buying stages, and themes you’re serving with content, and where you need to step up.

Sift through your content map and identify where the holes are. Then, brainstorm easy ways you can fill those gaps. Perhaps there’s a whitepaper or eBook you can repurpose to serve a different audience. Or you can plan to ramp up your social promotion to feed the top of your sales funnel.

Content Audit

photo creditcontentauditor.com

Step 4. Analyze the Performance of Your Content

What content is performing well, and what isn’t? Your audit should include key content KPIs so you can see what themes, content types, and messages are resonating with your target audience.

Track metrics like social shares, traffic, leads, and revenue. And align your findings around four key areas: production, engagement, performance, and content scoring. This way, you can make informed decisions about future content marketing efforts.

Step 5: Present Your Findings

Once you map your content through your audit, present your findings in a coherent way.

Don’t just include the data from your audit. Suggest what that data means for your company’s future marketing strategy.

Expose the content holes in your major themes, personas, and buying stages. Suggest how you’ll fill these gaps by repurposing existing content, archiving or removing irrelevant content, and producing more of the kinds of content that have proved successful. Propose new processes to support these changes.

Get Auditing

You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you are. And with tools like The Content Auditor, marketers no longer have an excuse for avoiding what Rebecca Lieb calls “the cornerstone of content strategy.” What you don’t know can kill you. Stop living in the dark, and get auditing.

Content Audit AuthorAbout Liz O’Neil Dennison – Liz is content marketing manager at Kapost, a software that allows marketers to develop, manage, distribute and analyze their content from one place. Prior to Kapost, she advised big brands like AT&T on their content strategy at Location3 Media, a digital marketing agency. And before that, she spearheaded global marketing campaigns for ONE, an anti-poverty advocacy organization co-founded by Bono. She loves beekeeping, running and exploring the mountains with her dog. Follow her at @lizkoneill

9 Copywriting Tips and Tricks in a Digital World

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Christopher McMurphy – Enjoy!

images-2As a marketing tactic, copywriting has been around since the days when the Mad Men of advertising were knocking back highballs in the afternoon. But times they do change, and the ad world has evolved dramatically since its heyday when television was the dominant technology. These days, the Internet reigns supreme. While we are living in a digital world where social media dominates, the core principals of creating good copy remain the same: attract the attention of the reader, arouse interest in the product or service, and convert that reader into a customer.

Of course, how best to accomplish this is tied directly to the World Wide Web and its shifts in landscape and changing trends. Those marketers who do wish to create compelling, effective copy that reaches the masses would do well to keep some modern tips and tricks in mind. Here are just a few. 

Relate to the reader

We may live in an ever more connected world, but people still yearn for that human interaction. Copywriters can create a direct line to their readership by producing not just quality copy, but personal and emotionally compelling content as well. Data show that copy with just such a personal touch – focusing on a company’s employees, for example – helps to develop a level of trust with the reader. Testimonials can be a useful weapon in the arsenal of the modern copywriter as well. All testimonials should tell a relevant, positive story and be 4-6 sentences in length.

Go visual

At least to a point. Images and advertising have always gone hand in hand, but most copywriters have always felt their job responsibilities began and ended with the written word. Not anymore. It’s no secret that social networking sites such as Pinterest, Slideshare and Tumblr are exploding in popularity, and it’s due to the public demand for images. Even YouTube came into its own as a full-fledged social networking clip site in 2013. For the foreseeable future, how “share-able” a piece of content is will in part be decided by how many images it contains. The key for the modern copywriter is to provide accompanying images that complement the content.

Vital stat: landing pages that include videos see an 86% increase in conversions (Social Media Today).

Be useful

This is the lynchpin on which all successful modern copy hangs. The hard sell is dead as far as modern copy is concerned, and readers aren’t likely to respond to content that isn’t of use to them. That means no sharing and no conversion. The way copywriters can be successful in grabbing the reader’s attention in today’s landscape is by being helpful. An appliance manufacturer, for example, will get much more mileage out of a how-to tutorial on a home improvement site than they will with an email blast campaign touting the merits of their product.

By adhering to the principals listed above, advertisers will stand the best chance of reaching that 61% of global Internet users who search for products online (Hubspot). Moreover, staying abreast of social patterns and the evolution of popular networking sites is not only a winning strategy for today’s copywriters, but a necessary one as well.

photo (83)Christopher McMurphy is a blogger operating in the sphere of tech and marketing. When he’s not pontificating, he’s offering blog writing services to eager clients.

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