By Sharon A.M. MacLean
I can feel the agony on the part of my clients when it comes to marketing themselves online. Especially when I talk about the need for creating content. Many of them prefer a dentist’s drill to writing a regular blog or producing enough video to establish social authority.
It was the same reaction I received during my years as a magazine publisher covering business. We had persistent offers from business people eager to see their name in 42 point bold. They were keen until I asked them to flesh out a calendar of 12 ideas for the upcoming year. That’s where we lost the eager beavers.
A few years later while working in the online world, the same unease surfaced as I read the 200 to 300-word blogs written by everyone who discovered how to click. They just weren’t worth the time.
The most common challenges reported in 2013 by respondents to a TechValidate survey of 213 marketing professionals were time, labour, and getting customers to talk. Compared to their last survey in 2011, lack of time and the cost of content creation were the two challenges that grew the most.
It takes time to research a subject, think about the context, and compose words combined with intriguing images that will make your audience stop to read your precious copy.
Here’s a few more stats that describe challenges that marketers face:
- Time Intensive (61%)
- Labour intensive (38%)
- Can’t get customers to talk (38%)
- Expensive (28%)
- Lack the expertise (15%)
- Can’t get specific stats/metrics (32%)
- Need additional content types (35%)
People also like to read stories about a company and their products that come from customers. This underscores a common refrain says TechValidate that social proof lends a great deal of credibility to a company’s marketing message. Read: they believe your customers’ testimonials more than your self-promotional twaddle.
Despite these comparisons, less than 10% of people surveyed said they were not using customer testimonials, case studies or product descriptions which represented their best return-on-investment.
On the topic of social media? At 94.5%, it’s wide spread because relevant platforms promote content. Otherwise, that same content is dead in the water.
LinkedIn and Twitter are the most used social platform for business, but others are close.
- LinkedIn 89.3%
- Twitter 87.8%
- Facebook 80.2%
- YouTube 72.5%
- Google+ 43.5%
I’m definitely a fan of blogging. Yet, I’ve also found different sources with polarized opinions. TechValidate, for example, promotes testimonials and white papers over the blog while Ian Cleary of RazorSocial and HubSpot advocate for the blog. Says HopSpot: “Blog frequency impacts customer acquisition. 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)
The other key to blogging, in my opinion, is they should contribute to your database. Your database is the only piece of real estate you own when it comes to connecting directly with your customers.
So, here are a few tips from experts in this field.
From Ian Cleary, RazorSocial
-Build up a back-lock of ideas for posts
-Plan ahead for a list of good ideas
2. Get longer life out of existing content
–Write more evergreen content
-Promote older content to bring more life
–Promote now…the same thing in 3 months’ time…and in 6 months’ time since less than 5% of people see your content at any given time
3. Republish guest posts
-Write a guest post on a high authority site
-Get permission to republish
-Change the title and content
-Republish on your site
4. Write great content
-make it really detailed
-research similar content
5. Optimize your content
-Include keywords in the meta title
Love the readers you already have. A lot of bloggers get quite obsessed with finding new readers – to the point that they ignore the ones they already have. Yes – do try to find new readers but spend time each day showing your current readers that you value them too and you’ll find that they will help you grow your blog.
Consistency is one of the most important things that bloggers tend to forget. It’s much easier to lose your traffic than it is to build it up, so make sure you consistently blog.
A study by Hubspot showed that consistent blogging actually leads to higher subscriber growth rates.
Over a two-month span, businesses that published blog entries on a regular basis (more than once a week) added subscribers over twice as fast as those companies that added content once a month.
Don’t be afraid to showcase what you know. Too many bloggers hold back the good stuff out of fear of giving away the “secret sauce.” There is no secret sauce in a world where everyone has high speed Internet access at all times. Today, you want to give away information snacks to sell knowledge meals.
Plan to invest in blogging for a long time before you see a return. The web is a big, noisy place and unless you’re willing to invest more over a greater period of time than others, you’ll find success nearly impossible. If you’re seeking short-term ROI, or a quick path to recognition, blogging is the wrong path. But if you can stick it out for years without results and constantly learn, iterate, and improve, you can achieve something remarkable.
No matter how great your content is, it won’t matter unless you have an amazing headline. People have a split second to decide if they should click on your post, and your headline will make them decide. The headline is also essential in making it easy and desirable for people to share your post. Keep your headlines SPUB: simple, powerful, useful and bold.
Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.