As business owners, you’ve been told over and over you need to use great SEO on your website and blog, but you also need to pay attention to social media management. The important thing to learn is the difference between the two and why you need both.
Small businesses depend on large sales, especially in the first year or two. The only problem is that smaller businesses don’t always have the customer base of larger competitors, which means you have to work harder to generate sales. Content marketing is one of the most efficient and successful ways you can do that, but only if you know how to use it correctly.
You’ll Get More Leads for Less
You’ve probably heard how powerful blogs are for marketing small business. It’s inexpensive, relatively easy, and gets your name out to a far wider audience than you could reach on a limited ad budget. But if you’re like most small business owners, you don’t know where to begin.
Here are 7 building blocks to start a small business blog:
1. Choose a Platform
Image via Flickr by businesspictures
See if your web hosting service offers a blogging platform. This will allow you to start the blog right from your own website, and people can easily navigate back and forth between the blog and your other pages. If you don’t have a website yet, shop for a web hosting service that offers a blogging platform with the purchase of your site. Most of these are easy, intuitive, and quick to set up and manage.
2. Think Broadly About Your Industry
Blogging isn’t just a matter of spilling your same sales messages over and over. A successful blog gives people insight into the industry, answers many of their common questions, and helps them make better decisions. For example, if you’re a plumber, write about:
- Simple DIY repairs
- How to avoid common plumbing scams
- How to save on your water bill
These are useful topics for everyone, and bring a lot of interest to your business without trying to sell them anything.
3. Establish Yourself as an Expert
Write your blog from a position of authority. This doesn’t mean you talk down to the audience, it simply means you establish yourself as the go-to person for knowledge about the topic. Read other industry blogs, and offer your helpful insight in the comments sections. Become the authority.
4. Blog Regularly
You can blog every day, three times a week, or once a week, but always blog regularly. Over time, you’ll build a readership and they’ll be expecting it. Also, it keeps you in the mind of people who might need your services. When someone goes to your blog and the last post is over a month old, they wonder if you’re still in business.
5. Consider Paying a Professional
Blogging is a chore if you’re not into writing and have little online knowledge. Consider hiring a professional writer to keep up with regular blogging, or at least hire an editor to proofread your posts for mistakes. Spelling and grammar errors hurt your credibility.
6. Use Images
High quality images draw readers in, even when the headline fails to capture their attention. Add photos to illustrate your point, to show off your staff, so customers will recognize your trucks, or simply to provide visual appeal to the text. Upload some of your own company photos and your logo and supplement these with high quality images and photos from Flickr or Google Images.
7. Promote Your Blog on Social Media
Here is where many businesses fail to bring their blog to fruition. You’ll garner a few clicks now and then from your blog posts, but to really draw a crowd you need to get involved in social media. Set up a Facebook page, and accounts with Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and other social media outlets, and connect these accounts to your blog. Each time you submit a new post, put it on your news feeds in all your social media accounts. This gives several avenues to promote each blog post.
Finally, when you’re blogging, make sure each post is something your company can be proud of. Never post something just because it’s Tuesday. Post valuable information that people want to read and share.
Inbound marketing revolutionizes everything we’ve learned about marketing. Companies are no longer forced to rely on exorbitantly expensive hit and miss TV, radio, and billboard ads. We aren’t bound by cold calls and tons of low quality leads. We can now know our customer better than ever, and give them exactly what they’re looking for. All this begins with quality content.
Get Them Interested
The old methods of sales entailed wooing people who likely had little or no interest in doing business with your company. Things such as cold calls and paid advertisements were our only tools for reaching out. But by creating high quality content, we get people interested in us without pestering or alienating them. From search engine optimization to email marketing, what you write will attract who you are looking for.
If you use content correctly, your business will see product and brand interest as never before, and your sales staff will be empowered to turn these leads into everyone’s ultimate goal: loyal customers.
Turn Interested Leads Into Followers
Once you peak their interest with emotionally appealing, highly informative articles, you can begin converting these leads into company followers. The first step is to get them to commit to follow you on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.
No, not everyone turns into a loyal customer at this point. But, they’re willing to reach out and receive your message. It’s the “foot in the door” method of marketing.
Turn Followers Into Customers
Image via Flickr by SamsungTomorrow
Once leads are following your messages, it’s time to impress them to become customers. This is where the sales staff actually begins to see product turnovers and revenues rise. Don’t stray away from offering high quality information and entertainment, but do begin offering them the things they’ve already expressed interest in.
Make Customers Become Loyal Customers
Image via Flickr by Alvaro Canivell
A customer makes a one-time purchase. A loyal customer comes back again and again, has a vested interest in the company, and enjoys hearing from you. How do you turn a customer into a loyal one? By delighting them. All the promises you make during the phases of interesting people, attracting them to follow, and turning them into paying customers comes down to how you deliver.
Making this work is a team effort. Thoroughly train your sales and customer service staff so they’re on top of the game and able to provide good products at good prices with a great attitude. Identify and address problems with delivery, and educate customers about your processes so they’re clear.
Confusion about the product, the delivery, or follow-up support for the product can cause bad feelings. This is the opposite of delighting customers into becoming loyal.
Are your policies and guidelines clear? Is it easy and pleasant to buy and use your products or services? Can your staff handle problems and questions in a timely manner to satisfy your buyers? Streamline these processes to thrill customers and keep them coming back for more.
The end result of a well done inbound marketing program is a successful business with an avid following. If you’ve taken all these steps, your business will skyrocket in the online revolution.
A good blog should increase traffic to your website and create a devoted fan base of people who want to read more about your views, your business, and plans. Some people have a special touch when it comes to writing blogs. Even if you feel completely talentless, you can use these five tips to write epic blog articles.
Tip #1: Do Your Research
Image via Flickr by USACE Europe District
You can’t write a great post until you know what to write about. Do good research so you can write about your topic intelligently. The Internet makes it easy for anyone to double-check your facts. If you get something wrong, a member of the “gotcha club” will point out your mistake.
Tip #2: Free Write Before You Write
Image via Flickr by Crafty Dogma
Your blog articles need unique perspectives. If you can’t write with your own voice and personality, then why would anyone bother reading your words?
Spend some time free writing before you even think about publishing your article. This gives you time to sort your ideas so that you can develop a fresh take on your research. If you have a great sense of humor, make sure that comes across. If you’re a very logical person, use that to your advantage.
Knowing the difference between strengths and weaknesses is what separates professional bloggers from hackers.
Tip #3: Make an Outline
Image via Flickr by tnarik
Free writing will leave you with a mess of scribbled notes and half-finished paragraphs. That’s exactly what you want at that stage. However, you have to shape those ideas into something that other people can understand.
Use your notes to find the most important ideas. Use those as the foundation for your outline. The outline will keep you focused while you write your article.
Tip #4: Revise What You Just Wrote
Image via Flickr by izzie_whizzie
You thought you were done? Not even close. Every good writer knows that revision is the key to compelling sentences.
Hunt for things that you can take out of your article. At this point, it’s not about adding things. It’s about removing them. You want to sweep away the trash so that your real points come through clearly.
For most people, this is the hardest part. Don’t feel discouraged. You’ll get better at it with practice.
As an additional tip: use bullet points and short paragraphs. No one wants to read dense words on a computer screen. If a paragraph has more than 100 words, it’s too long.
Tip #5: Add Images and Video
Image via Flickr by meddygarnet
Great words can only do so much for a blog article. Let’s face it, you’re not the world’s greatest prose stylist. Even if you were, 99.9 percent of people wouldn’t care. (Don’t research that statistic.)
That means you need something that will add a little pizzazz to your page. In other words, you need pretty pictures and engaging videos that haven’t been copyrighted. Internet users love that stuff. Plus, people are much more likely to share content with pictures and videos.
When it comes down to basics, you’re trying to improve your articles to reach a larger audience, right? Use every trick you can.
Have you found other tricks that make blog articles totally epic?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is crucial for everything on the Internet—if it’s to become successful, anyway. Even the smallest home-based businesses benefit from it, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re selling cakes from home or starting up your own independent accounting firm. Because every good business needs an online reputation, every good business also need valuable SEO strategies.
You Increase Your Local and Worldwide Reach
Image via Flickr by Tojosan
Every business has its target audience. Using SEO by making sure that any content associated with your business is rich in keywords, doesn’t read like spam, and includes relevant, interesting, and informative information will pull in your target. You can post blogs about sales, recipes, merchandise, or other services even on your Google+ business profile. Tie in your status updates on social media with your business or offerings. Make sure that your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and website links go on business cards and ads.
That helps you intrigue local consumers, which is incredibly important. However, you’ll also increase your reach. Soon people in the next city, state, or even other countries will know about what you’re offering, especially if your business is online.
You Become a Reputable Authority
Image via Flickr by Pete Prodoehl
The idea behind SEO is to make you look good. Those keywords are, of course, key aspects, but they won’t work unless you compose blog posts, articles, and even status messages that have valuable information. The more knowledgeable your information, the better you look. On a local scale, you could become the resident expert on cleaning services, jewelry making, trade show truss or website design.
People prefer sources they can trust. Even if you make money by blogging, more visitors will come to your site if you know what you’re talking about, all the time. Your rankings will increase and visitors will actually seek out your site or services because they view you as the biggest authority.
You Pull in Reputable Visitors
Image via Flickr by Devlon Duthie
There’s another benefit to becoming an authority in your given subject or service: you attract authority figures as well. Big names in your industry will comment on your posts and statuses, lending their credibility to yours.
You should always return the favor, but you’re paying it forward instead of giving a nod to the competition. By creating a network of experts, you’ll each promote one another. That leads to more business and an even better reputation.
Higher Rankings Equal More Money
Image via Flickr by Stéfan
The stronger your SEO and the more relevant the content, the higher your authority. The higher your authority, the higher your rankings. Your goal is to come up on the first page of any given search. If your business revolves around quality freelance writing or local home repair, you have to tailor your blog posts and keywords around those topics.
With rich content and a solid reputation behind you, your page will rise to the top of searches for your industry. More people will visit your business, either online or off, and that means more money for you.
Search engine optimization is an excellent way to promote your small business, but it’s important to have solid foundations on the Internet. What techniques do you use to build your business?
You’ve started your business, and you’ve heard that now you need to get on that whole Internet marketing thing. You’ve created your Twitter account, but need people to follow you. There are a lot of bad ways you could go about getting tons of followers, but if you want your Twitter account to be effective you need to get the right followers.
Get the Word Out
Anyone who truly knows me, knows I love great coffee and the state of Hawai’i. You will find me occasionally writing here about Hawai’i and the Aloha lifestyle along with all things social media and SEO in Hawaii.
There’s so much to do and so much to see in Hawaii. I thought a top ten idea list would be fun to post (see the infographic below). But I also wanted to share some of my personal recommendations/resources for all things Hawaii.