Successful Content Marketing Needs a Plan

Content marketing is powerful. It works, if you do it right.Editorial Calendar

When I consult with new prospects, many just think blogging is just writing about anything that pops into your mind. Not only that, they think you can come up with your topics and write it in a matter of minutes.

Hold on there, Tex!

Sure, you can put up a blog post quick, but will it do what you expect out of it? Ah, that’s the question.

You see, to make content marketing work and bring in qualified leads to your business, you must plan ahead.

Plan ahead, you say? That’s a revelation for many…especially those who think this “blogging” or “online marketing” thing is something anyone can do. I mean it’s just writing a blog post; post a tweet or Facebook status and the leads just pour in, right?

AHHAHAHA!!

If you believe that, I have some waterfront property to sell you!

So, speaking of planning ahead, how far ahead do you plan out your blog posts? Do you know what audience your posts target? Will you use it to add to a white paper or maybe a new training class?

If you don’t know, let me introduce you to what’s called the editorial calendar. It’s nothing new. Newspapers and the like have used them for many years, but for blogging they are equally important.

Don’t know how to create one or the one you’re using now isn’t working out? No worries. I’ve created a template of the same one I use for myself and for other work, such as clients projects.To get it, just click on the following link:

http://www.georgepasswater.com/get-editorial-calendar/

Then, you will get the resource you need for planning out that blog content and using it as part of your overall content marketing plan to bring in more leads and convert them into sales.

 

Black Friday Web Hosting and WordPress Theme Sales

Today is the day after Thanksgiving for us in the United States. After coming out of my turkey and pie coma, I saw there’s some pretty cool black Friday sales going on today.

Two of those are for some products I use in my own business and wanted to let you know about them. They are both affiliate products with related links I use and trust.

Genesis WordPress Theme

The Genesis WordPress theme is a thing of beauty. I use it for some of my client’s sites and now in the process of moving my site to it as well. The fantastic folks at Copyblogger Media decided to give the gift of a discount to everyone during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Here’s what you get (pulled from the Copyblogger site):

  • Get the Genesis Framework for only $45.
  • Pick up a Genesis child theme design for less than $20.
  • Snag a Genesis / design combo and save close to $20 (or more).
  • Wipe the entire shop clean by getting our Pro Pack All-Theme Package. Get Genesis plus all 43 current designs, plus every design we make in the future, and save over $74 off the regular price (and over $875 off the retail price of just the existing 43 designs)!

That’s comes out to a savings of 25% off anything you get at the StudioPress site.

How do you go about getting these great deals?  Just enter the code: THANKS at check out.

Now this deal ends at 5:00pm Pacific time on Monday, November 28th, 2011. Hurry!

Go on over and your WordPress goodness with Genesis now.

Web Hosting Sale

For any good online business, you need reliable web hosting. This is for everything from WordPress hosting to Ecommerce – for me I use HostGator.

I’ve been with them for over 5 years and have never had a major issue with my service. Anytime I need a question answered or need anything, I can get a response within a few minutes and the uptime on my site is always stellar.

For today, Black Friday, the good folks at Host Gator are offering 50% off all their hosting packages! That’s right, 50% off!

Since I use and trust them, I thought you would want to check out the savings. Now don’t wait, since this offer is only good till 11:59pm central time, Friday, November 25th, 2011.

How do you go about getting the 50% your hosting? Nothing! The site will give you the discount when you check out with the coupon code for the sale.

So, now’s the time to get some web hosting at 50% off!

Go on over and get your web hosting at 50% off.

3 Essential Ingredients For a Beefier Blog Post

More beef in your blog postsBlogs are everywhere. With so many things happening and so many sites trying to get more eyes on them, what’s in your blog that’s better than all others?

If you don’t have a business blog, I encourage you to look at my previous post on the benefits of business blogging. Yes, those are great benefits, but only if you have a strategy in place and know how your blog integrates with your business objectives.

Today, I want to give you some simple, but often overlooked ingredients to add to your blog that will increase your readership and convert them into a prospective leads.

3 Simple Ingredients for a Beefier Blog Post

Add Proof with Statistics

Now, I’m not talking about long, boring numbers or charts that bore your reader; I’m talking about some numbers that prove your point.

Think about it: if a blog post says, “most people use search engines to research technology purchases,” I want to know what the majority is and if those numbers prove the statement.

In other words, you can say anything you want, but without some data to back it up, it’s just blowing smoke up someone’s ass.

Btw, if you’re looking a great place to get some content marketing statistics, I would highly encourage you to check out the Content Marketing Institute’s resource.

Write for people, not robots

Looking at other blogs, I see different types of writing and things some try to rank higher in search engines. Yes, higher rankings in search engines is an important thing, but if that reader hates or doesn’t understand your writing, it’s not worth it.

First of all, if you’re not using personas for your writing, you better go back and create one before you even think about creating content. After that, write to that person and only them – think of that person sitting across from you.

Even if your audience is more technical, keep the jargon to a minimum and focus on giving the reader what they want – not what you think they need.

Oh, while we’re at it, if some “seo expert” tells you to throw in lots of keywords or write with a specific keyword density in mind, it’s time to smack that “expert” in the head.

No, really, do it now.  This is the same thing as believing the keyword Meta tag actually does anything for rankings now.

Tell Them to Do Something

Ok, so you have this great blog post, but you’re not seeing anything from it. What? No one is sharing it or reading more posts or even signing up for your email list?

I have a question for you: did you tell them to do something?

No? Well, there you go. If you don’t have a call to action (telling your reader to do something) at the end of your post, that great piece of content won’t work for you.

What do I mean by call to action?

No, I’m not talking about selling your products or services right away, I’m taking about small ways to educate, but get prospects into your “funnel.” What are some examples of soft calls to action? How about:

  • Adding related posts with links to related posts
  • Give them an opportunity to download a free report or training program
  • Tell them there’s more resources in your newsletters and have them sign-up
  • Add social sharing buttons to all of your blog posts and encourage them to share your content

Blogging isn’t rocket science and to compete with the other umpteen blogs on the Internet, you need ingredients that give your posts credibility, reasons to read it and a way to educate that prospect further while helping yourself too.

What extras do you add to your blog posts? What would you add to the list?

If you liked this post, share it with others and add your own ideas for better blogging.

Do You Have a Business Blog? 7 Reasons Why Blogging Benefits Business

This is the first of many posts on different ways to promote and increase your business sales with online marketing.

When I talk to prospects and even current customers about online marketing services, I always hear these common questions:

“What do I do to get more money and customers from online marketing?

Why would I choose one thing over another?”

Well, I’ve decided to write-up a series of posts on key areas that work for online business marketing and give you the benefits of each.

Of course, you wouldn’t start any online marketing campaign without a strategy in place. Don’t worry; I have content coming for that too.

First up is business blogging.

I hope you enjoy them and let me know what you think by leaving a comment or contacting me.

Why Do I Care About Business Blogging?

A business that utilizes a business blog, as part of their marketing mix already knows how important one is. For a business that’s just getting into developing a blog, you may ask, “what’s in it for me?”

According to Hubspot, companies that blog see:

  • 55% more web visitors
  • 97% more inbound links
  • 434% more indexed pages by search engines

What does this mean? It means business blogging works to help you build up more visibility in search engines and more opportunities for lead generation and sales.

To go more in-depth with the benefits of business blogging and without getting into all the everyone is doing it or it’s just works conversations, let’s look at 7 benefits of blogging for your business:

  1. You build a dialogue with customers – a blog gives you the opportunity to build and communicate with your community through the content and engagement you provide. Your community may include customers, prospects, vendors and other business associates.
  2. Build yourself up as an expert in your field – By providing consistent and in-depth content and conversations through your blog, you build yourself up as the “go to” business for those seeking your products/services.
  3. Increase search engine rankings – With more content and inbound links, you attract more indexing from search engines and better rankings for the search terms your prospects are searching for.
  4. Create educational value – With the business buyer more educated and looking for educational content as a major part of their decision process, give them what they want. Publish lots of educational content with how-to and instructional content including videos, writing and other media.
  5. Increase lead generation – With all this great content, higher search rankings and positioning as an expert, it’s natural to see a boost in lead generation. Remember to keep your content focus on helping your reader solve a problem – don’t try to sell them in every post. It’s good to have additional content, such as a special report, as a call-to-action at the end of your post as a download option.
  6. Increase your email subscribers – As in the previous point, try different calls-to-action, like the special report to get readers on your newsletter list and then, you can nurture those relationships with more great content and sprinkle in some selling – just not hard selling or they may unsubscribe.
  7. Having a resource center – Many businesses put lots of effort into networks like Facebook or Twitter, but many don’t invest into their blog. Here’s the thing, if any of these networks went away tomorrow, where would your customers communicate with you and find valuable resources? So, investing in building up your blog as a resource of educational resources, (including videos, white papers, EBooks, blog posts, etc), gives you a place of your own to generate leads and communicate with customers.

As you can see, having a blog is a tremendous business opportunity. With it, you can position your business as a leader, increase search rankings and branch out your information through other networks.

I’m not going to lie to you, a blog isn’t something you build overnight and only visit once a month – it takes dedication to keep up with relevant content that your readers will want to read and share with their colleagues.

Remember, watching from the sidelines is no fun. Get started bringing in prospects with your own business blog, before your competition does.

Photo credit: cambodia4kidsorg

10 Key Points to Remember in an Effective Blog Writing Checklist

So you got that blog post published. You sent it out on your Twitter, Facebook and whatever else social networks, but you’re not getting as many clicks or visits? Did you remember to cross off all the points on your blog writing checklist?

What? No list?

Well, if you are like me, then you probably don’t remember everything, all the time.  This is why I have a checklist I use when I write my blog posts. It’s just a simple reminder of the points I need to check off before I hit that publish button.

I mean really…have you published something and remembered that you didn’t do everything you needed to? Yes, that’s me. So that’s why I have a list, but it’s not a color-coded list…well not yet.

10 Points for a Blog Writing Checklist

So for you, my not remembering everything all the time friend, checkout these 10 key points for an effective blog writing checklist:

– Headline – The first thing a reader sees is the headline. Make it compelling – give the reader a reason to click on your link. There are TONS of blog posts published everyday; why would I click on yours?

After you write for the reader, look at SEO. If needed, write a separate headline for your title tag. Try to put your keywords up front if possible. Make sure you don’t go past 70 characters (with spaces) in your headline.

– Intro – They clicked on your headline – now what? Does your introduction have a hook or benefit to your reader? For example try offering up a hard-hitting question or maybe a statistic that relates to the subject of your post.

– Spell check – Really? No matter what software you write your post in, make sure you do a spell check. Enough said.

– Grammar – Now I am not saying you need to have a professional look at your post, but use something to check your grammar. Word has a basic grammar checker and look at After the Deadline.

Not everyone is an English major, but cut out the passive voice and common mistakes like: then or than, to or too…you get the picture, right?

– Image – Even with a well-written post, a picture is a good idea. Look to include a photo that’s relevant to your post. For instance: you wrote a post on email marketing – look at a photo about email…duh! Remember to link to the owner of the photo and add a description to the alt property of the photo.

– Readability – Don’t you hate it when you click through to a post and there’s a GIANT or multiple GIANT blocks of text? Don’t give your reader a migraine and another reason to leave your blog! Remember, blog writing is still writing.

Add subheadings to emphasize different areas in your post – this also helps with scanners…it’s proven that Internet readers are scanners. Remember to keep your paragraphs around 3-4 sentences while going to a new paragraph for changes in thought.

– Links – A blog post without links is like a painting that uses only one color. Not only does it help readers find other posts on your blog, it helps with SEO.

When adding that link, ensure you have key anchor text phrases picked out. For instance: if you link to a post on resources for content marketing, make sure that link goes to a relevant resource on content marketing.

– Call to action – What will your call to action be? This is a good time to refer to your blogging editorial calendar and check what is the purpose of your post. Is it to drive more traffic? Add more subscribers to your blog or newsletter? Post a comment and start a conversation?

No matter what the purpose is, have a call to action (CTA) and tell your reader what you want them to do next.

There are other things that you could add to your blog writing checklist, but I have tried to cover the most touched on areas. I know it helps me out when I am writing out blog posts because I am such a noodle head – I need things written down in front of me or I will forget them!

What would you add as the last 2 points?

What’s on your blog writing checklist?

Photo credit: muffet