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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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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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blog content ideasMany companies now realise just how important blogging is for their business, but can find the idea of regularly coming up with new posts extremely daunting. I previously wrote a post with advice on ways to come up with content for a new blog.

But, coming up with new content after the first few months can potentially be even more daunting than starting a blog in the first place, as all that “low hanging fruit” has already been picked.

Here are 9 easy ways to get you unstuck and help you develop new blog posts.

1.     Repurpose Content

Your company has already produced content in one format or another over the years, so take a whitepaper and turn it into 4 or 5 blog posts, each dealing with one aspect of the paper. Or, publish an old article commenting on the content and how the industry has changed since then.

2.     Keywords

Blog posts are a great way to rank for long tail keywords.  Review your web traffic and see what long tail keywords are bringing low volume traffic to your site and turn it into a blog post.

3.     Solve Problems

Think about what problems your customers have that you can solve for them. Talk to staff and customers to see what new problems are being faced and write about how they can be solved.

4.     Events

I’ve written a few blog posts about webinars I’ve attended and they always get great traffic. Write about a seminar, trade show or conference you’ve attended, giving a synopsis and your own views on the event.

5.     Interviews

Interviews are a great way to develop a post as you can just write the questions and then your interviewee gives you the rest of the content. Interview someone in your industry, or even the manager of one of your departments, about trends in the industry or common problems faced by your target customer.

6.     Polls

New, or unexpected, data can make for great blog content. Take a poll among industry experts, or customers, and write about your findings.

7.     Current Events

Be quick to capitalise on events. For example, bloggers who wrote about the new Facebook page changes within hours, or even a few days, of the changes going live would have received a lot more traffic from people looking for answers that week, than a few weeks down the line when most people have gotten used to the changes. Write about sudden changes in your industry and what they mean for people.

8.     Lists

Numbered lists always make great blog content, not only for the reader, but search engines love list. Compile list of the top trends, changes or people to watch in your industry.

9.     Other Blogs

Reading blogs from your industry can not only help keep your finger on the pulse, but can help develop content for your own blog. Perhaps you disagree with a recent blog post from an industry leader? Write about their post and why you disagree. Or simple discuss an article you did agree with, but add some extra insight.

And don’t forget, when you publish is just as important as what you publish:

  • The best time to publish is in the morning;
  • Blog posts shared on social media in the afternoons are retweeted most;
  • Posts published on Mondays, Tuesdays & Wednesdays get more views and links; and
  • Posts published at the weekends get more comments.

 

If you have any great tips of your own  for coming up with blog content, please share them in the comments below.


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This morning I listened in on Dan Zarrella’s great webinar the Science of Blogging

scienceofblogging

Dan Zarrella Webinar: The Science of Blogging

 

Dan had conducted a survey of 1,400 people with regards Blogging and Social Media, and presented the data in his webinar.

 

There was some really interesting, and useful, tips so I’ve put together some of my favourites for you:

 

1.     Why Blog

  • 51% of people read blogs daily.
  • Almost 50% of people read more than one blog daily.
  • 71% of people said blogs affected their purchasing decisions to some extent.

 

2.     When To Blog

  • Best time to publish is in the morning (although 40% still read blogs at night).
  • Blogs shared on social media in the afternoon, circa 4pm, are retweeted more often.
  • Posts published on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays get more views and links.
  • Posts published at the weekends get more comments, especially on Saturday.

 

3.     Know Your Audience

  • Men read blogs more frequently.
  • Women read blogs via email.
  • Men read blogs in the evening and at night.
  • Women read blogs during the day.

 

4. Identify Yourself Officially

Identifying yourself as a guru might get you 100 more followers than average on Twitter. But identifying yourself with the words expert, speaker, founder or official will get you up to 200 more followers.

 

5. Relevance

Relevance is the top reason people share your content, both on a one-to-one level and a one-to-many level.

 

6. Grammar Matters

I was pleasantly surprise by this. But, content with good grammar is shared more often.

 

7. Don’t Be Negative

The number of followers decreases in direct relation to the increase in negative comments.

So think about that the next time you want to sound off about a bad experience in a restaurant.

 

8. Don’t Talk About Yourself

The number of followers decreases in direct relation to the increase in self-references.

This point is brought home in the next two points when you look at the most, and least, retweetable words.

 

9. Top 10 Retweetable words

  • You
  • Twitter
  • Please
  • Retweet
  • Post
  • Blog
  • Social
  • Free
  • Media
  • Help

 

10. Top 10 Least Retweetable Words

  • Game
  • Going
  • Haha
  • Lol
  • But
  • Watching
  • Work
  • Home
  • Night
  • Bed

 

11. If It Doesn’t Make Dollars, It Doesn’t Make Sense

A favourite quote of Dan’s, I’ve heard him use it in other webinars.

You need to track and measure everything. The data given above was taken from a survey of 1,400 across all industries; it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be correct for your industry.

Measure, measure, measure and if it makes dollars for you, then it makes sense for you.

 

12. Some Final Quick Tips

Dan finished off the webinar with a live review of some blogs. The most frequent recommendations he doled out were:

  • Include the post authors name.
  • Include the time and date the post was published.
  • Include Facebook ‘like’ and Twitter ‘retweet’ buttons.
  • Host your blog on your own domain.

And the last surprise tip  . . .

  • If you know what you want to blog about, but are having a hard time getting started . . . have one glass of wine or beer to get the juices flowing!

 

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Stressed Woman At Laptop

 

So you’ve set up a blog . . . or your boss told you to . . . but now what?  What do you blog about?

 

This seems to be a common problem for people. Either their boss has decided the company needs a blog and puts the responsibility in your lap to ‘make it happen’, or maybe you were even hired specifically to write a new blog for a company. More often than not companies make a decision ‘to blog’ without deciding why or what they want to gain from it.

 

Hopefully most will realise that blogging is a way of creating valuable content for their current and prospective clients, a way of being found through the search engines and a way of becoming a thought leader in their industry.

 

All good reasons to blog.

 

The problem is, blogs need to be written regularly, for most a minimum of 3 times a week is advisable . . . that’s 12 new blog posts per month and 156 new blog posts per year . . . starting to freak out yet?

 

Well don’t. It doesn’t have to be that scary.

 

A great place to start is to draw up a list of topics.

 

Check your email inbox. Look through it and see what questions your customers ask you the most frequently, next look at your answers and you will see that you will be able to put together several blog posts using material you already have.

 

Talk to your customer facing people, whether that’s business development people out meeting with prospects or the teams back in the office who work with existing clients. See what questions they are asked the most frequently and ask them to send you a sketch of the replies they give and there you have it, more blog posts.

 

As the blog grows and interaction increases in the comments fields you will find more blog post ideas coming to you out of these conversations.

 

It is also a great idea to keep a notebook, or list somewhere, of blog post topics that occur to you while you are out and about during the day (I email ideas to myself). You never know when an idea might come to you, and chances are if you don’t make a note of it you will forget it. Writers have used this technique for a long time . . . because it works . . . and blogging 3+ times a week is a lot less scary when you have a list to hand of topics you know will work.

 

Don’t forget as well to get others involved; guests posts are a great idea to lessen the blogging burden from one person’s shoulders and the guests can be people from other departments in your Firm or from others in your industry. They are also great for your readers who are then receiving content from a more varied selection of people, all of whom have different perspectives, and as the whole point of blogging is to create valuable content, the use of guest posts works out well for everyone.

 

If you’re still searching for some extra inspiration, Chris Brogan published a great post on how he blogs 3 times a day (3 times a week doesn’t look so bad now does it?) and also links to some of his previously published blog posts with suggested blog topics:

 

 

All those topics should keep you going for the first year, at least . . . Happy Blogging!

 

 

 

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