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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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This post originally appeared on TweakYourBiz.Com

Many companies are afraid of social media…. some are afraid of being involved, some are afraid of not being involved. Which is worse?

Anyone who has seen the socialnomics video has probably been persuaded that social media is important for business, both B2B and B2C. Unfortunately some companies get caught up in a panic and jump in without having any strategy or plan of action in mind. This leads to problems.

There is little worse than a Facebook page that is unmonitored – fans clamouring for attention and none being given. The key is in the name – social media. You need to be involved with your audience – you wouldn’t go to a seminar, put on a slideshow and then ignore the audience would you? So why ignore them online?

If you’re lucky enough to have an interested audience who is willing to engage with you, then you need to appreciate them and respond to their queries and concerns. Ignoring questions on social platforms is far worse for your image than having no presence at all; no presence is not great, it shows you’re not in touch with the new way people are doing business, but having a presence and ignoring people shows you don’t care about them at all – a far worse message to send.

A Tale Of Transformation

There is a skincare brand that I am particularly fond of; it’s an English brand started by two women on the Isle of Wight back in 1995. The brand has always projected an image of integrity, quality and, despite their growth, friendliness and caring. In my experience their telephone customer service is second to none (half the time you feel like having a cup of tea and a chat with the customer service rep – they are that friendly). But for some reason when they branched into social media none of this translated.

They had a Facebook page and a Twitter account; the Twitter account had very little interaction and on Facebook they were largely ignoring their fans. It was all broadcasting and no engagement. On one particular day there was a backlash against a post the company had placed on Facebook. The backlash went on for hours and hours without any comment from the company. It was quite clear that they were not paying any attention.

The error of their ways was brought to their attention however, and one year later the brand’s online presence is unrecognisable from what it was. They are now engaging properly with their community and responding to queries and answering questions. They are actively checking Twitter to see who is talking about them and responding to people.

The company has now matched its virtual reputation with its real life reputation. No mean feat, but if one company can do it, everyone can.

Marketing Takeaway

Even if you jumped into social media without a plan and have let it flounder, it’s not too late. Grab the bull by the horns, draw up a proper plan of action and go all guns blazing for the rest of 2012. It’s not too late to be great online….

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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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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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Content is King.

 

This fact is often touted by those in marketing, especially those in the online marketing world. Producing content online will get you found by potential clients.

 

And if Content is King, we are told, then Consistency is Queen.

 

It is not just about producing the Content, it is about producing new content consistently so that (1) you train your followers to look for your newly published content every day / week and (2) so that the search engines keep coming back and crawling more and more pages of your website, giving you more and more chances to show up in results.

 

I completely agree with the King and Queen. But now I would like to add a third, the Prince.

 

If Content is King, and Consistency is Queen, then I believe Timing is Prince. If you publish your Content at the right time you have an even greater chance of being found online, because you have published at a time when people are searching your terms, and so are tapping into an even deeper well.

 

For example, I previously wrote a post comparing being a Social Media Marketeer to being Harry Potter. I published the week the new Harry Potter film was released in cinemas and, as more people were searching the term “Harry Potter”, I ended up with visitors to my blog I wouldn’t have had previously.

 

However, Harry was in the ha’penny place compared to Jimmy Wales.

 

It is Jimmy Wales and my recent post on A/B testing that has brought the importance of Timing home hard for me. Those of you who read the recent post will know that I was discussing the Wikipedia banner ads, which are showing Jimmy Wales’s face and asking for donations. These banners have been running for several weeks, but it seems to be only in the last week or so that people have really started to get fed up with Jimmy staring out at them from the computer.

 

And my proof?

 

Below is a list of the top searches that have been sending people to my blog over the last week:

 

  • jimmy wales annoying
  • jimmy wales is annoying
  • jimmy wales annoying face
  • jimmy wales banner
  • wikipedia annoying donation
  • wikipedia jimmy annoying
  • jimmy wales annoyning wiki ad
  • jimmy wales irritating
  • wales wikipedia a/b testing
  • wikipedia annoying jimmy wales
  • jimmy wales annoying wiki
  • wikipedia jimmy wales annoying

 

So I appear to have tapped into these extra visitors by blogging about Jimmy Wales exactly when people were talking about him. Sure, my post may have shown up in the search results if these terms were being searched for a few months down the line, but would my new visitors have found a several-month-old blog post as interesting as a freshly published one?

 

Thank you Jimmy, for teaching me the importance of Timing!

 

 

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