Hungry for leads and starving for a good spot in search engine rankings? Blogging could be the ingredient that pulls your online marketing recipe together. Already listed by cmswire.com as a method rapidly growing in popularity, blogging is one of the best ways to generate quality content, draw people to your online presence, and create a positive image for your company.

Preparation:

Writing a company blog, though, takes more than just putting thoughts to paper. There is a method to cooking up the right combination of elements to achieve success. As we’ve covered in our previous posts on blogging, first you must understand your readers and what they’re looking for. Next, you should have a clear knowledge of your company values, persona, and goals. Finally, put in place a means to evaluate the results of your effort. Then you can begin the process.

The Appetizer:

What’s the first thing you read in any post… probably the headline, right? We found some interesting statistics from an Outbrain survey on the ContentMarketingInstitute website about headlines and blogs:

* Those with 8 words yielded a 21% higher click-through rate.
* Those with questions have a higher click-through rate
* Pictures draw more readers… garnering a 27% higher click-through rate.

Ingredients:

There are several types of blogs you can write, each helps to convey a different kind of message, or emphasize particular pieces of information.

* How to’s: Explanatory pieces guiding the reader through a process, often in a step-by-step format. Useful for conveying information about services.

* Narratives: These posts tell a story written in short paragraphs. Often used for conveying an experience readers can relate to, or will find interesting.

* Series with sub-headers: This method helps explain multiple, longer- thought points in an organized format.

* Brief lists with bullet points and links to resources. Provides readers with a resource for later.

* Detailed lists: Bullet points here are a complete thought ( fewer bullets) and are used to convey

complicated pieces of information.

* Video posts: Typically brief, video posts introduce concepts, entertain, or have an instructional quality.

Each of these basic ingredients may be fine on their own, but to achieve a masterpiece, the proper blending of those ingredients yields the best results. Typically one will ‘take the lead’, but allow for the other formats to be mixed in when, and if, it makes sense.

Styles:

Some people would say that they are a strict recipe follower, while others would say they like to improvise, and throw in random ingredients to see what happens when they cook. Similarly, bloggers will adapt to one of two blogging styles as well.

1. Factual and informative – these blogs lay out a solid argument or idea. Readers can gain knowledge and insight and come away feeling the company generating such content is helpful.

2. Entertaining, casual, funny – these blogs are fun to read, can help readers to relate, and give them a good idea of the company’s ‘voice’. Often readers want to come back for more.

As we said with the types, it’s best to either use both styles together, or alternate styles to capture the attention of various viewers. Finally, remember to offer something readers can sink their teeth into, but also keep them engaged with humor, and natural style – not corporate speak.

The best approach is to be understanding of needs, offer solutions, show you care. Don’t just go on about a lofty principle. Invite readers in and give them opportunities to connect, or to say “yes, me too”. Prompt them to answer questions, make comments, and get involved.

Beyond the Blog Post For Improved Online Marketing and SEO

Online Marketing

Creating, in and of itself, is quite satisfying. You’ve put effort into developing an idea, pulling together resources and information, and have expended time and effort on crafting a top-notch message. It’s all about the process, right? But when it comes to improving your company’s online marketing and SEO through blogging, you need to continue the flow of energy to see it take flight.

After writing, but before posting, make sure your blog is optimized for SEO. Keywords are, well, the key. What you’ve included in your writing may be on target, but you may also want to use Google adwords for suggestions, then alter if necessary.

Once the blog is posted, don’t just sit back and expect that it’s enough. There are things you can do to make use of all that effort beyond just the single posting. You can also see to it that the blog is ‘spreading it’s wings’.

Promote your blog

There are 4 easy ways to accomplish this:

* Set it up on an RSS feed for distribution on social networking sites and readers.

* Send multiple updates through your social media sites to let people know about your post using Hootsuite. This tool can also shorten your URL to make it more appealing on sites like Twitter.

* You can also post the URL in comment threads on industry-related sites if they ask for your web address.

* Add info about your post to your email signature, or put it in an email newsletter.

Extend and expand

Try recycling blog content in other formats. You can create a video or slideshare presentation with any interesting blog points. Or, generate an infographic on statistics from study/survey sources. Another tactic is to take it to a forum – perhaps pose a related topic question on a Linked-in discussion group.

Tracking

Use these blog metrics to determine the effectiveness of your posts:

* Counting visits – where do visitors come from, and where do they go on your site
* Page views – It’s not about total number. Which pages attract viewers, where do they click, and where do they exit?
* Track time spent on the site, and on specific pages
* Track sign-ups for RSS feeds and email lists to assess desire for continued engagement
* Check your search rankings
* Inbound links – who is using and sharing your blog content?
* Social media shares
* Reader comments

Blogging can be a very effective tool in your online marketing arsenal, just don’t let it fizzle out because you haven’t taken it as far as it can go. Follow these processes and watch your blog soar.

Online Marketing Polls Can Help Your Business

social media menagment

Are you drawing the target audience you want with your online marketing messages? What tool do you find most helpful when it comes to marketing your business online? Did you answer these questions in your head after reading them? Hopefully you did. Most people like it when their opinion is solicited. I know that I feel more involved if my feedback is considered valuable. Companies like it when consumers answer their questions because it provides helpful insight.

Reach out

Often, many companies do a lot of the talking, and not enough listening. Which is kind of funny, since understanding your audience, or customer, is the key to developing a targeted message. Without a targeted message crafted to connect with a ‘likely to convert’ consumer, why bother with marketing? Thousands of page views won’t matter if the people clicking aren’t looking for your offerings, ready to buy, or to even explore their options seriously. Current customers may lose interest if they don’t maintain a connection with your company… after all, there are many other fish in the sea.

Perhaps the easiest way to reach out to current, and potential customers is through an online poll. I don’t mean a simple request for a review, or “tell us what you think” scenario. I am talking about an actual poll question, or several questions depending on the channel, that draw out specific feedback. That feedback should be something that actually helps you.

Help yourself

Gathering information about the people who are interacting on your site, liking your Facebook page, or even finding you on Twitter is the best way to plan an effective ‘next step’ when it comes to marketing, customer service, and product development. Having your pulse on your public keeps you in the loop as an engaged party, rather than just a company that generates content and occasionally monitors random feedback. Conducting an online poll on your website, or through social media, even email campaigns, is a great way to create a positive image of a caring business.

Think before you ask

Providing an online poll can take some planning to be executed properly. Think about the timing, the message, and the channel. You could be considering a weekly polling question on Twitter, or an extended quarterly survey comprised of many questions. Whichever route you take, think about these 6 tips:

* Make your question targeted enough without pushing them into a particular answer.

* Do not ask questions that will be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ unless the query is specific. Think “Did this shoe feel comfortable after standing on your feet for 8 hours?” As opposed to “does this shoe feel good?”

* If possible, provide a follow-up question.

* Take the opportunity to collect contact data.

* Consider running a poll on occasion that is simply for fun – it’s a great way to get people participating, and to show you aren’t just trying to ‘sell’ them.

* Ask smart questions that are timely, interesting, and that demonstrate your awareness of what people need, or want to share.

Building credibility, creating a positive image, assessing the pulse of your target audience, and even learning what you can do differently, are all benefits of polling online. Just make wise choices about when, how often, and how those polls will be run.

 

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