4 Easy Ways to Identify Content Ideas Your Customers Will Love
01/10/15 Content Marketing

4 Easy Ways to Identify Content Ideas Your Customers Will Love

Finding engaging content ideas is easy…when you know how. Learn 4 simple techniques for finding such ideas in this post.

One of small businesses’ biggest struggles, and I hear it over and over again, is finding stuff to blog about.

Well, I have good news for you: interesting content ideas hide all around you in plain sight.

You just haven’t had anyone show you where to look for them.

When you find ideas that interest your customers, you engage them and build relationships. Over time, they get to know, like, and trust you. And when they finally need what you sell, your name pops into their head.

Write the “wrong” ideas that bore them, and this process never even starts. They forget about you and move on to someone else that’s more useful and helpful.

So here’s some easy ways to find topics you know they’ll love:

  1. What questions do customers ask you in person over and over again?

Make a list of the most common ones. Those are blog post ideas that’ll be a resounding success. Questions that require a more in-depth response could be “special reports.”

You can also give brief answers in your FAQ section.

  1. Research with Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo’s a tool that’s absurdly easy to use. Go to their website. Enter in your topic by keyword. That’s it.

What’s really important, and I can’t stress this enough, is to look at the number of social shares each topic gets. The more social shares, the more attractive the topic. So, you can write your unique slant on the same topic.

Or maybe you can clarify something mentioned in that topic. Or you can disagree with it entirely.

You get to view 10 results for free, and you get something like 5 free searches daily. No need to use the paid version unless you want to become a serious content powerhouse (i.e. you want to hire a freelance writer to write your content for you).

  1. Industry and Competitor Blogs, and YouTube

The idea here is similar to Buzzsumo. Go to your competitor’s blogs, and leading industry blogs. Research topics on YouTube.

Buzzsumo doesn’t catch everything (but it is a nice tool).

Again, you’re looking for topics with the most social shares on these sites.

  1. Ask Your Customers What They’d Like to Know

Do this in person when they stop by. Or shoot a message out to your e-mail list. If one person wants to know, odds are many others do too.

One Way NOT to Do This: Searching Randomly on a Social Media Site Like Twitter

You can certainly go to Twitter, follow others in your niche, and see what they write about.

But that’s a huge mistake!

And that’s because you have no evidence supporting the popularity of the content. On Twitter, anyone can publish anything. And they might be publishing stuff they think their customers want to know…but really don’t care about.

That’s why you always get some evidence that at least some customers will like your topic: social shares, or the words directly from their mouths.

Remember, the Internet is Word-of-Mouth on Steroids

Because you can get so up close and personal with your customers, you can build relationships with them that are stronger than they were before the internet.

And when you’ve built those relationships, that increases word-of-mouth referrals.

Since social media makes it so easy to communicate and share, you can build lots of strong relationships and more sales much faster than you could before the web.

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The Way-Too-Busy-Person’s Guide to Writing Content
23/09/15 Content Marketing

The Way-Too-Busy-Person’s Guide to Writing Content

What? Now Google expects everyone to be a pro writer? Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. Learn how to write awesome content in just minutes.

With its recent “Phantom” update, Google continues to push the quality of the Internet to new heights.

That’s good news for searchers.

Sheesh! But, that means more work for small business owners.

And since you have so much free time in your schedule, it fits in just perfectly, doesn’t it? 🙂

Hope you picked up on the sarcasm there. But it’s the reality you now have to deal with. Instead of active penalties and punishments, many SEOs wished Google assigned “good” for high-quality work and “less good” for lower quality stuff. But that’s a loooong discussion for another time.

In the meantime, you can use this simple guide to write content. All you need is just a couple 500-word blog posts each month to do the job.

Let’s get to it:

  1. Find Topics

You may know your competitor’s blogs. That’s a great place to find ideas. If they average 25-50 social shares per post, you have a reliable gauge of which posts do well.

You can also use BuzzSumo to find some of the most popular topics on the entire web. You get 10 results for free – that’s all you need. Paying’s not necessary.

AllTop aggregates popular blogs from around the web. It instantly exposes you to hundreds of ideas. Simply Google “[your keyword]+ AllTop.”

You can also write topics around your customer’s most common questions.

  1. What Parts of Your Content Should You Pay Attention To?

The title makes or breaks your post. Spend most of your time writing that.

You can use this title generator to create hundreds of interesting titles. The wording’s a little awkward, so you might have to clean it up a little. But, it gives you unique titles fast.

The first paragraph is your lead. You have to put your most interesting stuff right there so people read the rest of your content.

Interesting ways to write your lead paragraph:

  • Show why common thinking isn’t right
  • Use a startling fact from a credible resource
  • Tell a story from personal experience
  • Overcome an objection
  • Explain why your post offers unique information that can’t be found anywhere else
  1. You Must Use Interesting Sub-Heads!

Did you know web users read just 20% of the typical web page, and 28% at most (according to web usability expert Jakob Nielsen)?

Your best chances to get attention are:

  • Page title
  • Lead paragraph
  • Sub-heads
  • Bullet-points
  • One-sentence paragraphs (like you see at the beginning of this post)

A good way to use sub-heads is to allude to what information comes next. Wet your reader’s taste buds, but don’t give them the full story!

Examples of tantalizing sub-heads:

  • Most Homeowners Think Their A/C Doesn’t Need Winter Maintenance, But…
  • The Real Reason Your Home Isn’t as Comfortable As You Want
  • The Most Recommended Cure for Insect Pests (And Why it Doesn’t Work)

Whew, Well, That’s Enough!

99.9% of businesses don’t use these techniques…at all. So just being aware of them…that puts you way ahead of the pack.

And they’re boiled down to fast and easy nuts and bolts, so you get things done quick.

Use these techniques today – and I guarantee you’ll get a better response from your readers.

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5 Critical Conversion Factors Your Landing Page Needs to Have
23/06/15 Content Marketing

5 Critical Conversion Factors Your Landing Page Needs to Have

What makes a landing page “work?” Find out 5 of the most important factors in this post.

First, let’s define a “landing page” because it’s easy to get confused:

It’s a page that you can only “land” on. You can’t click to it through your site’s navigation. And your goal is to get your visitor to take action now.

You could ask for an expensive sale, small sale, or even something as simple as an e-mail address. “Landing pages,” for your purposes, could also be the pages visitors enter in your PPC campaigns.

Now that you have that understanding, here’s what your landing page needs to do:

  1. Gotta Have A Goal

Everything in business has goals, and so should your landing pages. You can really make them have whatever goal you want.

But, the most common are asking for a sale, scheduling a consultation, or signing up for your newsletter in exchange for a freebie.

  1. Clearly Solve a Problem Relevant to Your Customer

Unbounce is a leader in conversion optimization. They clearly solve a problem here by “increasing the conversion rates of your campaigns.” Many “landing pages” simply have “more content” for SEO purposes. That’s a big mistake many SMBs make.

landing pages

  1. Complete Focus on the Single Action You Want Your Visitors to Take

Check out this landing page by another unnamed SEO company:

5 Critical Conversion Factors Your Landing Page Needs to Have

The whole thing is dark – except for the one action they want you to take. They also have a “call us” option in the upper right, which may not hurt to take off.

But as you can see – it’s pretty obvious what action you should take. And every landing page needs to do that because it gives you the best conversion rate.

  1. A Headline That Peaks Emotion in your Visitors

Your headline should be short – around 10 words or so. It should get attention, and your readers should instantly know what your product or service does.

Check out some effective headlines:

  • “I’m tired of being awkward” for a social skills course
  • “Marketing automation for everyone” by a marketing automation company
  • “What you see is what you test” for a company that sells an app that simplifies experiments
  • “They used Pinterest to plan a dream trip. Join Pinterest to find (and save) all the things that inspire you.”
  1. Appropriate Language for the Audience

Think about who you’re writing to. Are you B2C? Keep it simple, casual, conversational, and fun.

Are you trying to convince engineers to buy your product? Load’em up with technical specifications. But still keep it fun. Remember, engineers are humans too!

So those are the most important success factors your landing pages must have. Implement those techniques…and watch your sales grow.

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A Quick, 5-Minute Guide to Getting Results from Guest Blogging
08/05/15 Content Marketing

A Quick, 5-Minute Guide to Getting Results from Guest Blogging

Guest posts still work in 2015, and will continue to in the years ahead. Learn how to make the best of it in your spare time in this post.

Guest blog posts used to be super-powerful for your search rankings. Then Google put the kibosh on that early in 2014. That’s because some SEOs intentionally wrote hundreds of low-quality guest posts, trying to turbocharge their rankings.

You can still guest post today. But you have to make an honest attempt at contributing value on an authoritative website.

It’s okay to add your link at the end, but make sure it does not contain your keywords exactly or partially. Use your URL, company name, or random text instead.

Now, let me explain what to actually do:

  1. Write to Get Attention

2 million blog posts were written per day in 2012 – the most recent year I have statistics for.

What do you think that number is now?

Limitless numbers of people write posts to inform. One way to make your post stand out is to dispel conventional wisdom.

That gives readers a reason to pay attention to you instead of someone else. You don’t have to be in-your-face about it.

Just say,”In our experience, most customers think this. But that’s not true. This is why…”

  1. Find Blogs with a Decent Amount of Social Shares

As you consider who to write for, only write for blogs with at least 25-50 social shares on most of their posts. You can guest post for blogs with almost no social shares.

You’ll get the authority from the link. But why not get more with the same amount of work?

It’s not any harder to become an author at a blog with a few more shares. In addition to the link, you might also score:

  • A few new clients
  • More social shares
  • A couple more links

If the blog has hundreds or thousands of shares, becoming an author can take months. So you’ll have to decide if that works for you.

  1. How to Get Approved as a Guest Author

This gets harder every day. It’s because everyone knows how Google focuses on content. So quality websites get more pitches to be guest authors these days.

Every website’s different. Google “their site name” and “contribute,” “guest post,” or “write for us.”

The smaller sites with 50 social shares are fairly easy to post for. Send an e-mail with your post idea according to their contributor guidelines. Follow up a couple times if you don’t hear back in a couple days.

This process is even easier for blogs with no social shares. But, then you don’t get as good of results either.

At the big-time blogs, you have to build relationships with either the owners or editors. Share their stuff on social media. Comment on their posts. Send a “Tweet” or “thinking of you” e-mail with something you like about them or their blog.

It’s kind of a crapshoot at the big blogs. But, you can get great SEO and a nice boost to your reputation if you work them well.

Knock Your Post Out of the Park!

That’s the quick guide to guest posting in 2015. It should be a part of your SEO strategy.

And of course, you have so much extra time on your hands!

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How to Write Amazing Content that Leads to Sales
07/01/15 Content Marketing

How to Write Amazing Content that Leads to Sales

Tracking the number of sales you get directly from your content is hard.

Like, really hard.

For example, it’s extremely rare any single blog post you write makes the sale now. Instead, content builds a relationship slowly over time, until months later when someone needs your product or service, they buy from you.

When someone calls you, how do you know your blog influenced them to act? If you ask them how they heard about you, they might say, “Oh, a friend told me.” But in reality, that friend may have told them, and then they read your blog and e-mail newsletter, and now they’re buying for all those reasons.

While you may not be able to perfectly track your ROI, there’s all sorts of statistics proving its value. Kapost, a leading provider of content marketing services, found website conversion is about 2.9% for businesses that use content marketing versus .5% for those that don’t.

Simply follow these tips to write powerful content that sells:

  1. Use Interesting Headline Formulas

“How to…” and “10 Tips for…” are your basic go-tos. But they’re getting boring and people are becoming blind to them because they’ve seen these titles thousands of times now.

Try some of these unique variations out:

  • How to [Do something] that [Gets benefit interesting to your readers] – just like this post title uses
  • 13 Warning Signs That… [Problem that keeps your readers up at night]
  • The 5 Laws for… [Authoritative solution to your customer’s problem]
  • How to Take Charge of Your [Unruly problem] – credit the last 2 ideas here to blogging expert Jon Morrow
  1. Write Explicitly for a Single Audience

If you attempt to target 2 or more, that’s a marketing nightmare. Let the big brands market to different audience segments.

As a small business, you need to focus on serving a niche. This means both knowing who and who not to write to.

Your audience must be specific. For example, you don’t want to sell “consulting services” to “SMB owners.” You want to “mentor new CEOs and Presidents at healthcare companies with revenues $10 million or less who are overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of their positions.”

  1. Don’t Use Bland Language or Complex Jargon

Imagine you walk into your 12-year-old child’s class to talk about what your business does. That’s how you should write your web content.

No joke!

That’s the way people want their information these days. One of your children around might be around this age, and you could practice with them.

Sit down and have a conversation.

Once they get what you say with 100% accuracy, you know how to communicate your business to web readers.

It Helps to be a Professional Writer, But You Don’t Have to Be One!

You do, however, have to be a skilled communicator. Follow these tips, and you know how to write content that sells.

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