How Your Business Benefits From Blogging

If you’re like most other small businesses, you probably can’t afford to throw money at things you think might impact your bottom line. Marketing budgets are tight and there is no room for frivolous spending. Return on investment (ROI) is the measure of success.

So when I mention blogging as being a necessary component of your business’s marketing efforts, you might raise your eyebrow and ask, “How would a blog help us increase our sales?” Not only does consistently updating a blog require a significant amount of time and effort, but some of the content may not even explicitly advertise your business.

If you’re not a believer in the power of blogging, read on to find out how it can make a difference for your business.

Establishing Thought-Leadership

Providing valuable content to your target audience will help your business stand out as an industry leader. Blogging offers the opportunity to answer common questions customers have while also demonstrating your expert knowledge.

As your blog grows, so will the chances that your business becomes recognized as a go-to resource for helpful content. Building that trust is an important way to drive customer conversion rates.

Increasing Website Traffic

When you go to a search engine like Google, what are you trying to accomplish? In some cases you might be searching for a specific website, but most of the time you are trying to solve a problem. Content is what provides you with the answers you crave. As a business, you have the chance to create content your target audience is searching for. The better your content, the greater the possibility that customers will look to you for solutions to their specific problems.

Even sticking to the commitment of simply updating your blog on a consistent basis will increase your website’s visibility to potential customers. Every blog post is an indexed page. Each of these indexed pages serve as a reminder to Google that your site is up and active with content that might be of interest to potential customers in your industry.

Sharing that content across social media channels is another way to strengthen your reach by introducing your business to a whole new audience.

Developing Relationships

A blog provides your business with the unique opportunity to interact with customers in an informal manner. You’re there to help solve the customer’s problem, but along the way you build trust and gain insight into the issues that mean the most to your target audience.

Driving Passive Income

Yes, creating effective content takes time, but the great part of a blog is that the content sticks around for as long as you’d like. Even as months and years roll by, that blog post is a way for your business to engage potential customers and generate leads from the call to action (CTA).

So remember, even when you’re out of the office, those blog posts are still hard at work on search engines like Google, generating business.

Blogging, when done the right way, will change your business. It will change your life. It will change everything.

Marcus Sheridan

Will You Take The Leap?

Comment below to share whether you plan on starting a blog for your business.

Have a blog already? Share your blog in the comments below and offer any advice you might have for those just getting started.

7 Key Components of High-Converting Landing Pages

So you’ve started to dabble in online advertising. Ads on Facebook and Google AdWords have people flocking to your website. But for some reason your bottom line isn’t moving a tick. So what’s the deal?

Well, the first step is finding out what people do once they click on an ad and reach your site. It’s no secret that getting people to your website is a challenge, but convincing someone to take action is a whole other animal. That’s where an effective landing page can make a difference.

The goal of a landing is to motivate visitors to take action once they arrive to your site. Whether you want someone to register for a webinar, download a free e-book, or subscribe to a newsletter, these conversions are what drive business.

If you’re wondering what it takes to make a great landing page of your own, take a look at these seven key components that are a part of almost every high-converting landing page out there.

1. No Navigation Bar

Choices aren’t always the best thing. The more you offer, the longer it takes for someone to make a decision. And when it comes to landing pages, you have to be as clear and direct as possible to ensure the visitor takes the action you want. So get rid of any links that might direct traffic away from your landing page.

Here is a great example of a landing page from As a visitor, you either enter how much you owe or leave the page. End of story.

2. A Concise Headline

Make it obvious what you’re offering right from the start. If someone can’t figure out what you want from them in the first five seconds, chances are they aren’t going to dig through the rest of the landing page trying to find out.

Some businesses make the mistake of trying to be too clever or inspirational with their headlines. Remember, the visitor is on your site. You don’t have to fight for attention. Let them know what your offer in plain English.

3. Obvious Benefits

Even if you have the greatest e-book in the world, nobody will click “Download” unless you tell them why they should in the first place. Clearly explain the value you are providing to visitors through a set of points that are easy to identify and scan.

You don’t want a visitor sifting through paragraph after paragraph. Create effective copy that highlights the benefits of your offer in as few words as possible.

If you’re looking for ideas, check out this landing page from Muck Rack. Even though there is a substantial amount of text, it is easy to tell what service is being offered and how that benefits a potential customer.

4. Testimonials

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful forms of advertising. Why is that? One word: Trust. When you’re dealing with a business for the first time, there is no foundation of trust to rely on. Ease the concerns of your visitors by showing what other people think of you.

This is also a great way to reinforce the claims you make throughout the rest of the landing page. Make use of testimonials to leverage the social proof you’ve gained through years of great customer service.

5. Images or Video

People are attracted to images and videos over text. Grab the attention of the visitor with compelling visuals that tell your story in a way that words simply can’t. Don’t get carried away though. Be sure that the images and video you use continue to drive your call to action.

Codeacademy does a terrific job of emphasizing the value it offers by featuring a video testimonial on its landing page.

6. Staying Above the Fold

Even the best landing pages can get a bit lengthly. After all, it’s not always easy to describe what you offer to a visitor in just a few short paragraphs. If you think your landing page might have a lot of different components, make sure your most important elements stay above the fold.

Visitors spend close to 80% of their time above the fold. If someone has to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page to see your best stuff, you’re most likely going to be out of luck.

7. Proof Elements

Many landing pages designed to convince a visitor to download or register for something might include a form where visitors can enter their name and email address. Given the incredulous amount of spam on the internet, people might be a little hesitant about sharing their information on a random landing page.

Reduce customer anxiety through a brief privacy message indicating that visitors’ email addresses won’t be shared or sold. If your form asks for more sensitive information, such as a credit card number, include security seals and verifications letting customers know their information is secure with you.


Got A Landing Page You Like?

Comment below with a link to your favorite landing page and let us know what makes it stand out to you.

What I Learned In 75 Minutes With Mark Schaefer

As a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I’ve had some amazing opportunities other people could only dream of. My sophomore year I watched President Obama speak from atop Bascom Hill. When I finally walk across the stage during my graduation in May, Katie Couric will be in attendance as the commencement speaker. I feel fortunate to go to such a great school and it’s something I will never take for granted.

On February 12th my seemingly perfect undergraduate experience got even better when Mark Schaefer, a globally-recognized consultant, educator, and author, generously agreed to speak with my social media class.

To offer some perspective, five weeks ago I didn’t even know who Mark Schaefer was. But that all changed when I purchased his book, The Tao of Twitter, the best-selling book on Twitter in the world. From the moment I flipped to page one, I couldn’t put it down. I don’t remember ever blazing through a book in a shorter amount of time.front-cover

In it Mark delves into the heart and soul of what makes Twitter one of the most widely used social media channels today. As a graduating college student eager to learn more about social media and content marketing, The Tao of Twitter was exactly what I was looking for.

What made my experience reading the book that much more exciting was the fact that I knew I would get to hear from Mark himself.

When I look back on the 75 minutes Mark spent with my class, two main points stick out.

1. Just Be Yourself

As a budding blogger, I often struggle with finding the confidence to produce content. What do I have to say about content marketing? There are thousands of blogs that talk about SEO or landing pages, how am I any different?

That’s when Mark replied, “Be original. Be yourself.” What Mark helped me to realize is the importance of offering your own personal perspective. Blogging is about finding your own voice. Comparing yourself to others will do you no good.

By having the courage to let your passion for a topic shine through your content, it will be easy for others to see what makes you different. In turn, you can attract your own audience that enjoys the unique perspective and ideas that only you can offer. After all, there is only one you. You have no competition.

If you want to hear more from Mark, check out his blog post, “Why you don’t want to be Chris Brogan,” in which he discusses how the biggest mistake in his early career was trying to be somebody else.

2. Be More Human

People in today’s society are constantly bombarded by advertisements. We’ve all seen those infomercials that want you to, “Pick up the phone and buy now!” The ads pop up so often you can practically recite the script from memory after a few days. shamwow

When it comes to interacting with people on Twitter, Mark offered a refreshing perspective, “Be friendly and helpful to people. Look for ways to be selfless. Give things to others instead of always asking for something.”

Too often people are wrapped up in figuring out what they can get from someone. Twitter is a way to develop more authentic relationships.

For example, Mark developed a lifelong friendship from one simple tweet, “Go Steelers!” You’re probably wondering how is that possible? Well, Twitter is kind of a like a handshake. It is a great way to connect with anyone in the world over a common interest. From there, selflessness can take a relationship to places a simple advertisement never could. The key is to treat humans like humans.

Think about your daily life. When you first meet someone do you ask them to buy something from you or try to shove a blog post down their throat? Of course not. Genuine concern and helpfulness are part of the foundation from which a trusting relationship can blossom. The same rules apply to Twitter. Start connecting and interacting with people the same way you would in real life and watch your network grow.

Want to Learn More? 

Are you interested in reading more about who this Mark guy really is? Visit his blog, Grow, one of the top social media marketing blogs in the world. It’s well worth your time.

Why SEO Matters for Your Business

You’re most likely familiar with the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Marketing experts all over the world consider it to be a crucial factor in determining whether your business is easy to find online. That sure seems like a pretty big deal. But what does SEO actually mean and how can you use it to your advantage.

Let’s start off by talking about what SEO is. SEO refers to the combination of a wide range of tools and techniques used to ensure your website shows up on a search engine’s results page when someone searches for words, phrases, or topics mentioned on your website.

The easier it is to find your site, the heavier the traffic from search engines like Google and the greater chance someone becomes interested in your products or services. Optimizing your content to help users find timely, relevant, and useful information is the ultimate goal.

How Do I Improve My SEO? 

There are dozens of ways to boost your website’s visibility to search engines. Try out these simple tactics if you’re just becoming familiar with SEO:

  • Short and concise URL structure. Don’t confuse readers with URLs that are made up of random numbers and letters. It should be clear what the topic of a page is by glancing at a consistent URL structure implemented throughout the website.
  • Link Building. Focus on getting quality sites to link back to your content while also using your website to link to other sites that may be of use to your target audience.
  • Appropriate Keywords. Identify the keywords your audience uses to find your website by including them in titles, copy, URLs, and tags.
  • Meta Tags. This is a great way to provide search engines with information about what your website focuses on and offers to potential customers.
  • Contact Information. Make it simple for users to get in touch with you by listing your address, city, state, zip code, email, and phone number on each page of your website.
  • Business Listings. Update your business listings on major search engines as often as possible.

One More Thing….

If you’ve implemented some of the tactics discussed above, congratulations! You are helping more potential customers find your website. Now for the bad news. SEO isn’t everything. 

SEO gets the visitor to the door. It’s up to your site’s content to welcome and retain that visitor.

-John I. Jerkovic

Content is king for a reason. It plays a major role in determining whether people will keep coming back to your website. Yes, SEO can help bring people there, but if your website isn’t providing your audience with the value they are looking for, you may not see the results you expected. Be helpful. Offer solutions to problems your audience faces.

If you’re struggling with the idea of attracting customers with strong content they will want to read, take a look at my 4 Tips for Writing Copy that Converts.

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4 Tips for Writing Copy that Converts

Writing can be a polarizing subject. You’ll meet people that love it and others that panic at the sight of a blank page. No matter which side you’re on, writing effective web copy is one of the biggest components of content marketing. You need to know how to write. Most content is made up of copy after all.

So if you find yourself staring at your business’s website, wondering why your content isn’t leading to the sales you want, take a look at these four tips for writing copy that will raise your conversion rates and make a difference in your bottom line.

1.  Know Your Audience

Too often businesses get caught up talking about themselves and how great they are. What they should be doing is asking, “Who cares?” The first step in selling something is figuring out who you are tying to sell to.

Before writing find out:

  • Who your customers are
  • What they care about
  • What they think about when buying your product or service

Focus on serving your audience by providing them with the information and resources they need to  realize that what you offer can make their lives easier. If you don’t know where to start, check out this awesome 5 Minute Guide to More Persuasive Copywriting from Copyblogger.

2. Keep It Simple

Avoid overcomplicating your copy with insider language and other buzz words designed to make you seem credible. Not only do you risk losing any hope of a sale by confusing the reader, but you also miss the chance to begin building a relationship.

Your readers are human, talk to them like it. Write copy that is short and easy to understand. If you’re not sure what that means, take a look at a piece of content on your website.

Does it sound like something you would say to a customer standing right in front of you or are you trying to sound smart with long, complicated sentences? Writing web copy is tough, don’t make it harder than it needs to be with unnecessary jargon.

3. Write A Compelling Headline

Take a page from tip number two by crafting a headline that is both concise and clear. Since the title is the first thing a reader will see, make sure it quickly tells them what the article is about so they can decide whether it provides a solution to a question they want answered.

Don’t forget to build a headline with commonly searched keywords that will drive traffic to your post and improve your SEO.

Still stuck? Take a look at The Minimalists Guide to Writing Great Blog Post Titles from digital marketing expert Don Stanley.

4. Initiate Action

You never want your reader to get to the end of an article and say, “Now what?” Make it clear from the beginning what your call to action is. Time is of the essence. You might only have the attention of your reader for two minutes if you’re lucky.

What do you want them to do? Why do you want them to do it? How will it benefit them? If you can’t answer those three questions when you finish reading neither will your audience.

Stick to the call to action (CTA) and make the sale.

Did I Miss Something? 

What would you add to the list? Comment below to share your tips for writing copy that converts.