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This Blog: 2012 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. There’s some really interesting stats in the report, but mostly it enforced that I need to blog more for 2013! It’s so easy to forget your own blog – it gets relegated to the bottom of the pile after the day job, contributing articles, family commitments etc, but I’m definitely going to try to blog at least once a month for 2013. Feel free to hold me to it!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 6,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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During the last week in August I, along with 2,800 other marketers, attended Inbound 2012 (an inbound marketing conference) in Boston. It was an absolutely fantastic week full of wonderful keynotes and great breakout sessions. One of my favourite breakout sessions was ‘How To Create eBooks and Webinars Your Prospects Will Love’, presented by Maggie Georgieva, as I came away with so many ideas for my own marketing.

Here’s what I learnt from Maggie during her 45 minute presentation …

Test Test Test

Marketing should never be based on superstitions or gut feelings. Everything we do should be based on the results of tests we have carried out. Each campaign needs to be built from a solid foundation upwards, with your marketing offer being the foundation, and upon that you build (in order) your landing page, your email, your blog and finally your social media.

There are 3 steps to creating ‘lovable’ offers for your prospects …

1. How To Approach Content Creation

Good content is where the lead generation process starts. Your content should be based on your data:

  • Blog analytics. Check what the top ranking blog topics are to give you ideas for content;
  • Page performance. Check page views to see what pages are the most popular and use this intelligence to produce an offer
  • Landing page analytics. Conversion rates e.g. if your landing pages with ebook offers convert highest, then you should be doing more ebooks.

The format of your offers matter, so see which medium works best for your target market and offer your content to them via that medium, whether it be ebooks, videos, photos etc.

Review your email marketing analytics  to check for patterns in your click through rates (CTR) in order to get more content ideas.

Think of content creation not as a silo but as something you can do across all your channels e.g. if Pinterest is a topic of interest to your target audience don’t just do an ebook, also look at publishing blog posts and webinars on the same topic.

If you don’t have enough internal data to review for content ideas, check out other sources of data e.g. Google News and leverage the current buzz for your own marketing.

All your content decisions should have data to back them up. If you take this approach your offer will be much more successful.

2. Know When To Publish

Perfect is the enemy of good” – Voltaire.

If you constantly chase perfection in your marketing offers, then you will never publish anything. However, if you publish and review your data, then you can improve for your next offer.

The more you publish the more opportunities you have to drive lead conversion.

If time is an issue consider the following tips for creating high quality content fast…

  • Repackage your own existing content:
    • 20 ‘how-to’ blog posts becomes an ebook;
    • An ebook becomes a webinar; or
    • A webinar becomes an ebook.
  • Curate public content (this way you’re gathering existence content and repackaging it, as opposed to creating original content, which is more time consuming to produce):
    • 101 awesome marketing quotes;
    • 54 pearls of marketing wisdom; or
    • Learning Linkedin from the experts.

3. Double Down On What’s Working

Monitor your landing page conversion rates frequently to identify your winning offers, then repeat the activity that got you there.

Discover the offers that deserve your time; check the data and decide which of your offers to maintain, create again or ignore and move on. Focus on what is doing well and optimise those offers to increase conversion even further e.g. A/B test your landing pages and CTAs (call-to-actions).

Also consider incorporating some product information on your company into your top of the funnel content e.g. on your ‘thank you for downloading our whitepaper’ page, add a CTA for a secondary offer to, for example, demo your product.

What If Things Go Wrong?

If something doesn’t work, ask yourself …

  • Is my offer compelling enough?
  • Did I target the right audience?
  • Am I not sending enough traffic to it?

If any of the answers are no, review the data, re-evaluate and try again.

To Summarise … The Key Steps To Succeeding With Marketing Offers Are

  1. Don’t optimise before you build strong foundations.
  2. Use real data to drive your content strategy.
  3. Publish often and iterate later.
  4. Do more of what’s working!

Link to Maggie Georgieva’s presentation slides

 

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I recently published a guest post with the Ireland-based, blogging community, Bloggertone, on the important steps to take after you have published a new post on your blog. Below is a slightly updated version of the article, to include recent developments and new information.

4 Important Steps To Take After You’ve Published A Blog PostYou’ve just written a blog post and it’s absolutely perfect; beautifully written content that has the ideal balance of valuable information with easy-to-read conversational language, not to mention those catchy headlines and witty imagery. People should be lining up to read this post, and share it with their friends and colleagues … but how to make that happen? How do you ensure that once you press publish your content will get found and spread by others?

1. Before You Hit Publish

Remember that perfectly written post? Did you include keywords? Do a quick keyword search on Google to see what words people are using to find content like yours. Then go back and make sure that those keywords are included in the main content, the headings, the page title and the image titles. All this will help your post get found organically through the search engines.

2. Syndication

Ensure you have an RSS feed set up for your blog. This will allow people who use RSS feed readers, such as Google Reader, get your content automatically the minute you hit publish.

3. Email List

Allow people to sign up for your blog via email (not everyone uses RSS readers so this is still an important option). Once you have a mailing list many blogs will allow you set up an automated email to go out to your list, advising them that a new post has been published. If you can’t do this automatically just send a quick email to your list manually, the blog title and a link to the page is plenty, although you can include the opening paragraph with the tantilising ‘read more…’ as well.

So you’ve got the keywords, the RSS feed and the email list. That means the post will get indexed by Google and your existing readers will be notified immediately once you publish.

But what about sharing on social media?

This is a huge part of the process, and I have, both personally and professional, seen massive changes to visit counts as a result of social media activity.

4. Social Media Sharing

As with sending an email, it is possible to set up a post to automatically publish out to your various Social Media accounts, however I caution against this. While it takes some of the effort out, people do interact with social media differently and at different times. Research has shown that blogs published in the morning get the highest traffic, however blogs posted on social media in the afternoon get shared the most, with the peak being around 4pm.

So ideally, you would publish your post in the morning, all your current readers will get it via email / rss, and then you would head over to your social media sites later on in the day and share it with your followers / fans there.

On Twitter you should aim to share a link to your blog post several times, as this medium moves fast, followers who log on an hour after you’ve tweeted may not see it. Make sure to use different taglines each time you tweet, this allows you see what works best at grabbing people’s attention (and also avoids the wrath of Twitter who frown on the same tweet being repeated ad nauseam). Be sure also to use a url shortener such as bit.ly or ow.ly, as this gives you more of those precious 140 characters to play with, and also provides you with great analytics such as how many clicks, and from what countries – valuable information for future targeting.

On LinkedIn you can share your post via your status message, but you should also seek to become involved in different groups. Check out what groups there are that might be relevant to you. 81% of LinkedIn’s 100 million members are part of at least one of the over 800,000 groups available (the maximum number of groups a member can join is 50). Join groups and then be sure to share your blog post with each group. This can result, not only in massively increased traffic, but also in some very interesting dialogue with like-minded members. LinkedIn have a great learning centre where you can learn more about groups.

On Facebook you can again share your post, however Facebook has a less frantic pace than Twitter, so sharing the post once is sufficient. Depending on your audience this could result in great engagement with your fans, as well as driving traffic to your site.

On Goolge+ you have the option to share your post with specific circles (learn more about circles). Make sure to share your post only with those who will find the content to be of interest and / or of value – this is much better than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Again this is a slower paced platform, so sharing once is enough.

Make sure as well to have social sharing buttons on your blog so that anyone who comes across your post can share it with their own networks, thereby driving even more visitors to you!

It’s Worth It

While all of this might seem like a lot of effort, once you’ve done it a few times it will become second nature, and it will become quicker. It will also result in your post getting a LOT more traffic.

Isn’t it worth the bit of extra effort to ensure that your perfectly polished post doesn’t languish forgotten and alone in the internet ether?

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Increase Website Traffic by 30% With LinkedInCurrently there is a lot of dialogue regarding Google+ and how it compares to Facebook and Twitter, implying that these 3 are the social network Titans.

But What About LinkedIn?

In June 2011 LinkedIn became the number 2 social network in the US, with 33.9 million visitors that month, up 63% on June 2010 (Facebook had 160.9 million US visitors and Twitter 30.6 million the same month).

As of 4 August 2011 LinkedIn had over 120 million members worldwide; with 26 million of those based in Europe. All 2011 Fortune 500 companies have executives on LinkedIn and 75 of the Fortune 100 companies use LinkedIn’s hiring solutions.

While Google+ is growing rapidly and the rankings are likely to shift in the coming months there is no denying that LinkedIn is a popular networking site for professionals, and especially for B2B companies.

But What About Sharing?

On 30th November 2010 LinkedIn announced their ‘share button’ which, when added to a webpage, allowed readers to easily share that content to their LinkedIn profile and/or LinkedIn groups. Many business oriented sites added the button quickly, including Forbes and Bloomberg, and others slowly added it in the following months.

By day I look after online communications for an Ireland-based, B2B professional services company and in April of this year I added the LinkedIn share button to the company blog, and started our senior managers actively sharing company content on LinkedIn.

The Result?

A 30% jump in traffic over the same period in 2010, purely from LinkedIn!

And, people were not only reading and sharing content, but sticking around to learn more about the company, and complete online forms – meaning not only are we seeing a huge jump in traffic, but we are also generating more inbound leads!

LinkedIn A Superstar For B2B

Of course, not all companies are guaranteed to see this kind of result, it will depend on a number of factors, including the industry.

But what if you did see this kind of result? Or an even better one? Isn’t it worth trying?

Add the LinkedIn share button today, it can’t hurt, and it could be the best decision you make in 2011 for website traffic…

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We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it” – Erik Qualman

Most people have now accepted that social media has become a part of daily life and integral to how we communicate both socially, and for business.

However it’s always good to get a quick reminder of the facts.

The below video might be a year old (and missing references to, most notably, Twitter – which has grown exponentially in the last 12 months) but it’s still relevant, and still full of compelling reasons as to why we need to be engaged online.

Facts From The Video

Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30.

Social Media

  • 96% of millennials have joined a social network.
  • Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the US.
  • Social media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the web.
  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the US met via social media.
  • Years to reach 50 million users:
    • Radio – 38 years
    • TV – 13 years
    • Internet – 4 years
    • iPod – 3 years
  • Yet
    • Facebook added over 200 million users in less than a year.
    • iPod application downloads hit 1 billion in 9 months.
  • If Facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest (behind China and India) – yet QQ & Renren dominate China.
  • A US department of education study revealed that online students out performed those receiving face-to-face instruction.
  • 80% of companies use Social Media for recruitment;
  • Fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year old females.
  • Ashton Kutcher & Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of:
    • Sweden;
    • Israel;
    • Switzerland;
    • Ireland;
    • Norway; and
    • Panama.
  • 50% of the mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook.
  • Generation Y & Z consider email passé;
    • Some universities have stopped distribution email accounts and are instead distributing eReaders / iPads / Tablets.

YouTube

  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.
  • While you watch the video 100+ hours of video will have been uploaded to YouTube.

Wikipedia

  • Wiki is the Hawaiian word for quick.
  • Wikipedia has over 15 million articles.
  • Studies show it is as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica.
  • 78% of the articles are non-English.
  • If you were paid $1 for every article posted on Wikipedia you would earn $1,712.32 per hour.

Blogs

  • There are over 200 million blogs.
  • 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content.
  • 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.

Advertising

  • People care more about how their social graph ranks products and services, than how Google ranks them.
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations;
    • Only 14% trust advertisements.
  • Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI;
    • 90% of people skip TV ads using Tivo / DVR

Publishing

  • Kindle ebooks outsold paper books Christmas 2009.
  • 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation.
  • 60 million status updates happen on Facebook daily.

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do you know wordpress are running ads on your blogI use wordpress.com for this blog and have been very happy with the ease of use since setting the blog up several months ago.

 

However, last week I discovered something that I was not very happy with.

 

Normally if my husband is reading the blog, he would do so via his RSS reader, however last week there was a post he wanted to comment on and so he went to the blog site itself only to see a rather large ad at the bottom of the post.

 

Surprised, he asked if I was running adsense to make some money from the blog.

 

……… [stunned silence] ….. ads? …. on my blog?

 

I quickly went to the blog myself but the ads weren’t showing up for me.

 

A quick search on Google revealed the following:

 

To support the service (and keep free features free), we sometimes run advertisements. We try hard to make the ads discreet and effective and only run them in limited places. If you would like to completely eliminate ads from appearing on your blog, we offer the No-Ads Upgrade.

 

It turns out that wordpress.com run these ‘discreet’ ads but the catch is that the ads don’t display if you’re logged into wordpress and this is why I had never seen the ads myself. They also don’t show the ads to ‘regular visitors’, although there’s no indication of what counts as ‘regular’. There is also no indication of the types of ads that will be run – although the one my husband saw was a harmless one for cupcakes.

 

But the bottom line was wordpress were running ads and potentially making money off of my web traffic without me knowing anything about it.

 

And, as I said, the ad my husband saw wasn’t discreet at all, so I’ve decided to pay the small fee to upgrade to ‘no-ads’.

 

To be honest, wordpress is a free service that works well, and them taking this approach to make money is not unreasonable. What I object to is that (1) they do not publicise this when you are setting up the blog (or at least I certainly don’t remember seeing anything about ads) and (2) there is no way to view (or approve) the types of ads running.

 

It seems sneaky to me, not only because they don’t mention the ads when you are setting up the blog, but because the ads don’t show if you are logged in so, like me, you may never even know they were running … if it weren’t for my husband I would still be none the wiser that there were ads running on my blog.

 

So wordpress users take note!

 

Look up your blog on a different computer and check out what it really looks like to new visitors.

 

You might be ok with the ads running – but it’s nice to know that they are there!

 

 

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why your company needs a blog in 2011If your company does not have a blog already it needs to become priority number 1 for 2011.

 

Previously I’ve talked about how companies that blog get:

 

  • 55% more visitors;
  • 97% more inbound links; and
  • 434% more indexed pages.

 

And, how 51% of people read blogs daily and almost 50% read more than one blog every day.

 

If this data weren’t compelling enough read on…

 

For the last few years Hubspot have complied a State of Inbound Marketing report and yesterday the 2011 stats were released in a webinar.

 

65% Of Companies Blog

Blogging clearly came through as a hugely important factor in business growth with a jump from 48% of companies blogging in 2009 to 65% in 2011.

So if you don’t already blog you are already in the minority!

Potential leads that could have found your company are finding your competitors because their blog is giving them the edge in the search engines (remember 434% more indexed pages – each page indexed gives you an extra chance of showing up in search results).

 

55% Of B2B Companies Acquired A Customer Through Their Blog

B2B companies often argue that inbound marketing does not work for them – that it’s only good for B2C. And, while B2C are acquiring more customers through their blog, with 63% of B2C companies confirming they had established new customers through their blog, B2B companies are not far behind at 55%, with that jumping to 58% for consulting / professional services companies.

Bottom line: the majority of companies that blog are getting customers as a result, regardless of industry.

 

62% Of Companies View Blog As Important For Business

When asked how important the company blog was to their business 27% reported it was critical and 35% reported it was important, with only a tiny percentage saying it was not useful at all.

 

Blog Leads Are Cheaper

55% of those surveyed reported that leads from blogging came at a ‘below average’ cost.

 

In summary:

  • 65% of companies out there are already blogging;
  • 55% have acquired a customer through their blog;
  • 55% say leads acquired through their blog cost less than average; and
  • 62% of companies say their blog is important for their business.

 

If you’re not already blogging, not only are you missing out on business opportunities, but you are falling further and further behind your competitors.

 

Take home message

If you do one thing in 2011 – get that company blog up and running!

 

 

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