Archive for June, 2012

How to Create a Successful Blog Editorial Strategy in Just Six Steps

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

In this article, you’ll learn…
• Why you need a blog editorial strategy
• How to create a successful blog that suits your audience and establishes your voice

Blogs are one of the most valuable content marketing tools that businesses have to engage with and educate their prospects and customers. But many businesses still aren’t taking advantage of what is a great opportunity to directly share information and expertise.
At my company, we encounter that issue all the time. Companies either don’t blog at all or they don’t create enough of the right kind of content in their blog. Why? Usually because they don’t have a blog editorial strategy.

A solid blog strategy will help you create relevant content on a regular basis to attract the people you are trying to reach and help your business convert those readers into customers.

Here are six steps to creating a successful blog strategy that delivers results for your business.

1. Define your audience

Though this first step may seem obvious, many businesses cannot define their exact audience. Identifying your target audience (i.e., whom you are talking to) is the first thing you need to do before even thinking about starting a blog. Be as specific as possible when determining who you are trying to reach.

For example, if you are a winery with a fab Cab, talk about the Cabernet grape, your harvesting process, and great food pairings for your best vino. Don’t try to talk to every wine lover in the world or to Chardonnay fans. Be as focused as possible to generate the best results—increased readership, response, feedback, and customer calls.

2. Pinpoint clear goals

Just as you have a reason for being in business, you have to have a reason for starting a blog. Creating a blog without setting goals is like building a house without a plan: it would likely fall apart without a strong foundation.

Think about what you want your blog to accomplish. Do you want to attract more website visitors? Elicit comments and direct interaction with customers? Position your company as an industry expert? Setting clear goals for your blog is essential to blogging success.
Here are a few questions to consider to help you determine what your audience might want to know about and how you can fulfill its needs.

• Is your customer service department answering the same questions all the time?
• Has someone recently asked you an interesting question that others might want to know about, too?
• Are people asking similar purchasing or usage questions about your products or services?
• Are any hot topics in the news related to your industry?
• Are other industry blogs covering related topics that you could expand on?

3. Establish your voice

If you don’t establish a consistent tone and voice for your blog, you will confuse people and dilute your messages. Consistency of message and delivery is the key to really connecting with your audience. You certainly don’t want to come across as a company that’s unsure of its identity. Many organizations make the mistake of posting with a different voice or perspective throughout their blog.

Consider the following questions up front:

• Are you talking in the first person (I) or in the third person (we)?
• Is your company’s voice fun, expert, witty, professional, or conversational?
• Are you featuring different bloggers from your organization, and does each have a unique perspective?

4. Create a blog editorial calendar

A blog editorial schedule or calendar is the holy grail of blogging. If you have an editorial schedule, you won’t be left staring at a blank screen, thinking… “What am I supposed to blog about?” An editorial schedule helps you plan not only what you are going to say but also when and how often you’re going to say it.

Now that you know who you’re creating content for and why, you can create an editorial calendar with publishing dates, blog categories, keywords, blog titles, and even columns for social media posts promoting your content.

Identify 3-5 content buckets or categories that will help you organize and streamline your topics for consistency. Those categories should repeat throughout your editorial calendar to help guide your content, keep your blog on track, and meet goals.

5. Create a distribution plan

No matter how informative, exciting, and interesting your blog posts are, they won’t do much for you if no one is reading them or no one knows they exist. Your blog strategy must include a plan for promotion and distribution of your content.
Here are a few easy ways to promote your blog:

• Promote all blog posts via social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Google+. Include a column for those posts in your editorial calendar so they’re ready to go when you are.
• Highlight key blog posts to share in e-newsletter content.
• Include links in your blog posts to other blog posts to cross-promote and keep people’s attention.

6. Measure and adjust

Once you have a blog editorial plan and the content is flowing, test and adjust your strategy using simple tools such as Google Analytics or KISSmetrics. Closely tracking your site visitors and clicks will help you make informed decisions about the type of content to create to meet your goals and help you learn what your audience is most interested in.

by Debbie Williams

Four Tips for Turning a Website Design Into a Brand Experience

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Small businesses can learn lots from design firm Method’s socially appealing philosophy.
Case in point: Method’s Interaction Design Director Ben Fullerton recently wrote an eloquent article for Fast Company about turning website design pixels into a brand experience for users.
Here are our favorite bits of advice from the article:

Embody what you want people to feel. Brands “stand for something; they have both value and a set of values,” Fullerton notes. What associations do users make when they hear your brand name (versus Nike, Facebook, Oxfam)?

Learn the difference between consistency and coherency. Consistency is ensuring your design shares common elements and behaviors across all modes of interaction, online and off. Coherency marries consistency “with a system of meaning that people can believe in and choose to be a part of: the brand,” says Fullerton. “Tying the two together—interaction and brand—in a coherent system will facilitate experiences that are richer and lasting.”

Design for interaction. Brands are no longer broadcasters; they’re part of conversations on multiple channels. “Designers must become comfortable with designing for a world in which these interactions spread across time and modality,” says Fullerton. “It is how all of these are perceived together that creates the voice, tone, and personality of a brand, and that helps to create meaning.”

Design around your voice. A brand team’s job is about shaping the brand’s voice, building narrative around your product by identifying traits to which people will respond. And a designer’s job is to subtly express that voice in the site design.

The Point: You only get one shot at a first user impression. Website design isn’t just about choosing site colors; it’s about constructing the identity you’ll portray to the world. Illustrate your voice!

Are Promoted Tweets Right for Your Small Business?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

“You may have heard that Twitter has rolled out advertising,” writes Dan Slagen at HubSpot, “but what you might not know is that it’s being targeted to small businesses.”

While large corporations can try promoted tweets without much risk, he notes, a smaller company might hesitate—especially if your marketer has a tight budget and less experience in paid online advertising. So does it make sense for your business? Slagen highlights these pros:

• Highly customizable targeting. There are a number of ways to target Twitter users—whether they’ve visited your page or have interests similar to your existing followers. And you have the flexibility of promoting your tweet in their timelines, when they search for keywords, or at the top of your profile.
• Traffic driven to your landing page. When a user clicks on your link, they leave Twitter and go wherever you send them. In this way, it functions much like a search engine.
• Relatively low cost compared to other PPC options. According to Slagen, certain keywords in a Google paid search campaign can cost more than $200 per click. With less competition at Twitter, and a commensurately lower cost, it might be worth testing a campaign.
• Opportunities for organic audience growth. A well-targeted campaign is bound to attract new followers, who will start to see—and hopefully retweet—the tweets you send for free.

The Point: Twitter isn’t just for big business—but before you dive in, take note of potential drawbacks Slagen also details in his post.

Source: HubSpot.

Improve Your SEO with Page Titles

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Increase your chances of being found when people search online by evaluating the page titles on each page on your site. When evaluating your page titles, keep the following tips in mind:

• They appear in the first line of the search results so they must make customers want to click.
• Make them easily searchable by keeping them descriptive, brief and include search terms you’d like to be found for.
• Increase opportunities to be found by writing a different page title for every page on your site.

All of these are great ways to make your site show up more when people search for what you offer. What are you waiting for?