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Better Business Blogging:strategise for success

writing
In the world of Online Marketing, Strategy is a word thrown around with abandon. This is a shame as it devalues the term. if one aims to create a successful blog, a blogging strategy is essential. Strategy is a fancy label for something, which is more or less common sense. Enabling you to blog confidently. See what I mean about the term strategy being chucked about a lot?

What is a blogging strategy?

In essence blogging strategy is a short series of questions, once these are answered you have developed a blogging strategy. So its not as confusing /esoteric as it first appears.

• What is the purpose of the blog?
• What are your objectives?
• How do I measure the success of my blog?
• Who is the blog for?
• How often should I blog?
• How long should my blog posts be?
• How should I promote my blog content?

Why have a blogging strategy?

Answering these questions will provide your blog with a clear purpose, making it more coherent and focused. This removes the problem of blog posts which jar against other posts, leaving the reader with the question ‘why did they blog about this?’. I’ve seen larger companies and agencies fall into this trap. Clear goals will ensure your blog serves a useful purpose so you are not just ‘blogging for blogging’s sake’ by drawing up an appropriate set of metrics, you can monitor if you are achieving these goals. If your blog content interests your target audience then it will lead to a more engaged audience and they in turn are more likely to share the content on social media. Having a blogging strategy improves your chances of creating content your customers and followers want.

What are your objectives?

Convince and Convert offers 3 reasons for having a company blog. Each of the different reasons has a slightly different emphasis and different metrics. Having a clear reason for maintaining a company blog would appear obvious, however I suspect a lot of companies would be unable to provide a clear reason why. Don’t be one of them.

The three reasons convinceandconvert.com offers are as follows:

Blogging for Content
This is where there is a definite emphasis on search engine optimisation. The blog being used to drive traffic and attract backlinks.
Blogging for Commerce
This has similarities with blogging for content Here the emphasis is more on sales with conversions being the name of the game.
Blogging for Community
These blogs try to create a consistent readership around a certain theme or interest. There will be quite a lot of interaction with the readership. This type of blogging is generally for non-commercial reasons, once the community is flourishing. A commercial aspect may surface such as T-shirt sales or .mp3 downloads.

I’ll add a fourth category, which follows on from this
Blogging for Branding
This is where the blogger is attempting to raise his or her profile and to develop their brand. The blog posts are designed, for sharing widely on social media in the hope that some of the content will ‘go viral’.
Please note these aims are not exclusive. It’s fine to focus mainly on one of the goals, whilst including elements of another category. Chasing too many overall goals will lead to a blog that lacks focus. A clear focus and effective targeting are the ingredients of a really great blog. A blog, which answers your target audience’s questions, in an accessible way. Will be regarded as sticky, absorbing and useful. This will attract readers and subscribers, which, surely is the goal of any blog.

How do I measure the success of my blog?

Depending on the objectives you have chosen. You need to choose a suitable set of metrics. Analytics expert Avinash Kaushik has developed a great set of metrics that are easily to implement. They will allow you to monitor the impact of your blog with confidence. We’ll examine a few now I don’t want to crib all of his hard work so I will include a link to his quite blog in the further reading section.

1.Raw Author Contribution

a) Number of Posts / Number of Months Blogging

b) Number of Words In Post / Number of Posts
2.Conversion rate.
this will give you a good indication of the engagement you have with your visitors.
Conversation Rate = Number of Visitor Comments / Number of Posts

Know exactly whom you are writing for

Personas are a vital part of any good blogging strategy. Personas are character sketches of your customers, ideally backed up with data. If you can relate to your readers, this will help you to target your blog posts. Good quality content answers readers’ queries and is more likely to be shared. Having a good understanding of your reader’s requirements will enable you to help them.

How often should I blog?

Blogging frequency is another element of a blogging strategy. There is no definite answer to how often should a blog be updated. my answer would be as often as your resources will allow, without the quality suffering . I feel that daily blogging is not a long term option. Quality will decline in the long run. Regular blogging has a number of benefits such as:
Indexing rate
This is how often the search engines index (or read) your website to see if there have been updates. A regularly updated blog will be indexed more often.
Search Engine Ranking
Regular updates boost the search engine ranking of ones website. Failing to update a blog often will result in a rankings drop. I can confirm this from personal experience.
Establish Authority Status
A regularly updated blog looks great, and will help to establish your authority. Over time this could increase the brand loyalty of your readers. Especially if you offer good quality content.
Shareable content for social media
A regular conduit of good quality content will provide plenty to share on social media. Raising your brand’s profile even further.
More subscribers
Once you have established yourself as a source of regular good quality information, it will be easier to attract blog and newsletter subscribers.
Attract a loyal readership
A regular good quality blog that answers people’s questions will attract readers. However, your content promotion efforts will need to be up to scratch.

Promoting Content

Promoting content is just as important as creating it. However, it’s an aspect of blogging, which is often neglected. How much time should be spent promoting content is a personal choice. I think it is prudent to spend nearly as much time promoting blog posts as creating them. This means making an active effort to network with other bloggers. Rather than relying on Google’s good graces. How your content should be promoted is another aspect of your blogging strategy to consider. Effectively promoting blog content requires a lot more than simply sharing a blog post on social media. Blogger outreach or building ties with other bloggers is a major aspect of blog content promotion. Many bloggers are influencers one definition of which is:

Influencers are a person or group that has the ability to influence the behaviour or opinions of others.

Search engines want to reward good quality content with high search rankings. How do they know if content is good quality? If other people are sharing it is a good sign, especially if they are authorities in a niche. Blogger outreach needs to be an on-going process. You cannot approach other bloggers ‘Hey! I’ve got a great blog post. Help me to promote it NOW!’

Guest blogging is a great way to increase the size of your network and to build your reputation. Guest blogging involves writing posts for other people’s blogs in return for a service or backlink

The easiest way to find guest blogging opportunities in your niche is simply to search for them. a search query such as niche-keyword + “submit a guest post” should find plenty of guest blogging opportunities. Kissmetrics rather helpfully provide a list of potential search queries. Simply add a keyword for your niche where appropriate.

• keyword “submit a guest post”
• keyword “guest post”
• keyword “guest post by”
• keyword “accepting guest posts”
• keyword “guest post guidelines”

Parting thoughts

This article has explained what a blogging strategy is and I hope convinced you of the benefits .As you can see it’s not complex, merely a set of common sense questions which need to be addressed before one commits to having a blog. Let’s be honest having a blog is a commitment, a pleasant one, once you get used to it. You cannot expect to just blog for two of three posts. It is a long-term effort, a marathon not a sprint. Having a blogging strategy ensures you are running in the right direction.

Further Reading & Bibliography

  • Using buyer personas in content marketingsmartinsights.com
    1. Using buyer personas in content marketingsmartinsights.com
    2. 31 business building benefits of Buyer Personas businessesgrow.com
    3. How to Create Easy, Yet Actionable, Content Marketing Personas contentmarketinginstitute.com
    4. How to Create a Successful Blog Strategy: A Step-by-Step Guidehubspot.com
    5. Planning Your Blog Strategy For 2015 Starts Today, Why Wait Until January?magnet4blogging.net
    6. How Do You Create An Effective Blogging Strategy? pushingsocial.com
    7. 1210 Reasons to Develop a B2B Blogging Strategykomarketingassociates.com
    8. 7 Successful Blogging Strategies from Great Bloggersfalconerwebmarketing.com

    By | July 22nd, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    To blog or not to blog? The case for SME blogging

    writing

    Image credit: Bruce Guenter(Flickr.com)

    This series of blog posts will elaborate on the fantastic framework developed by Simply Business.co.uk I’ll examine every stage in the framework in detail and make sure you have all the information and tools necessary to succeed at business blogging, in this article I will examine the case for blogging, what the advantages are and why I believe every business should maintain a blog if they have a company website. In the series of blog posts coming up I will try to make sure you have all the information required to run a successful and interesting company blog.

    In my experience, most small companies in the UK do not maintain a regular blogging schedule. I’m not sure why this is the case, I suspect a dislike of writing lies at the heart of it, that and trouble figuring what to blog about

    Benefits of Blogging

    I know that the advantages of blogging in business are widely understood and quite possibly it’s a topic which has been done to death elsewhere. I include them here for the sake of completeness; I’ll be honest and say that SEO Benefits are my primary reason for maintaining my company blog; there are plenty of other benefits, which we’ll examine now

    Increase your authority

    Blogging is a widely accepted way of developing your reputation in a particular niche; many bloggers are now regarded as experts in their fields after creating popular and successful blogs. People such as Neil Patel (quicksprout.com), Jon Morrow, Jon Bloomer, Seth Godin et al all started out as bloggers.

    Domain Authority

    This is not the same as domain authority; a SEO metric developed by moz.com, which measures the authority of a web domain. Page authority measures the authority of individual pages within a domain. The authority to which I refer here is the reputation and stature of a blogger. Higher authority sites will rank more highly in the search engines, which brings us neatly to …

    The SEO Benefits of blogging

    There are a number of SEO Benefits to blogging such as

    • Fresh Content
    • Target specific Keywords
    • Backlinks

    I’ll now examine these in greater detail.

    Fresh Content

    Search Engines like fresh content, neglect your blog for a week or two and its likely your website will drop a few places in the SERPs

    Target specific Keywords

    Blogging provides an easy way to target specific keywords. Simply blog about the topics that, you wish to rank for. This can include LSI Keywords in addition to Search Keywords.

    Backlinks

    Backlinks remain an important part of the SEO Equation. Blogs provide one of the easiest ways of attracting backlinks if your content is of good quality. They also provide a ready source of shareable content although this is more a social media consideration.

    Linkable assets

    Linkable assets are simply awesome pages on your site that you can leverage for links over and over (and over) again. quicksprout.com

    Backlink expert Eric Ward suggests that linkable assets are a vital factor when developing content for a website, really good quality blog posts are linkable assets and if they are not I’d suggest the quality needs to improve

    Parting thoughts

    This weeks post has highlighted some of blogging’s many benefits, if you’ve not written for a number of years some reticence is understandable. I’d argue that the benefits of search engine rankings alone make the effort more than worthwhile. Thesaleslion.com argue that

    Blogging, when done the right way, will change your business. It will change your life. It will change everything.thesaleslion.com

    The aim of this series of blog posts will be to ensure that you have all the information at hand to develop a great quality blog for your business and are able to blog the right way, so I hope to see you in a couple of weeks time when I examine setting worthwhile goals for your blog.

    Further Reading & Bibliography

    Blog to win business:How to enchant readers and woo customers
    Henneke Duistermaat
    1. The SEO Benefits of Blogginggot2web.com
    2. Top Five SEO Benefits of Blogging localvisibilitysystem.com
    3. Why Blog: The Benefits of Business Blogging for Visitors & Links searchenginewatch.com
    4. SEO Benefits from Blogstoprankblog.com
    5. Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business and Marketingblog.hubspot.com
    6. The Top 10 Benefits Of Blogging On Your Website forbes.com
    7. The 20 Biggest Benefits of Blogging incomediary.com
    8. 5 Benefits of Blogging for Your Small Businessopenvine.com
    9. 50 Blogging Benefits that Will Change Your Business Forever/thesaleslion.com
    By | July 8th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    is your content aiming and hitting the right targets?

    Is your content on target?

    Image credit: Falcon® Photography(Flickr.com)

    Content takes time & resources to create, therefore it’s imperative that there’s actually an audience for the content you create and it covers a topic people actually want answers to, This doesn’t mean only write about high traffic/high competition topics, there’s still some value to covering long tail keyword terms where there is less competition and searchers are further down the sales funnel and it is this selection of topics to be covered I’ll examine this week, this post is influenced by Trond Lyngbø’s excellent article ‘The seven deadly sins of content Marketing’ on searchengineland.com, I’m mortified to see I’m making two of them and that why I was inspired into writing this post so you can avoid making the same mistakes.
    Lyngbø argues that

    (businesses) are passive and keep postponing any corrective action. They know it’s important, but they don’t want results badly enough to make the changes happen. It’s easier to pretend nothing’s wrong and carry on. Sometimes, it takes a serious failure to jolt them out of their comfort zone.searchengineland.com

    Keyword research is one of the core requirements of the approach Lyngbø advocates, paradoxically (to some) Keyword research isn’t just for SEO geeks its also part of the Content Creator’s toolkit as well, Keyword research can be used to gauge

    • What information people are searching for
    • what keywords are they using to look for it?
    • how many people are looking for it?
    • How much competition there is for these keywords

    Not just Keywords its, demand!

    It’s not just a case of just going for the popular high traffic keywords or you’ll end up with a website offering free pads and celebrity news the topics you cover need to be covering are ones which fit in your overall content strategy or game plan or are of interest to the people represented by the personas developed while creating your content strategy or your typical customer, The Approach suggest by Trond Lyngbø removes any guesswork from the selection of topics, and will ensure you choose the right topics for your blog and any associated content

    On reflection I’m now guilty of 3 of the seven deadly sins this one area of the content cycle I have neglected. No more. Personally, I’ve been jolted out of my comfort zone and I hope if you are content marketing it will jolt you out of your comfort zone so when developing your content marketing strategy, research of potential content ideas for blogs keyword research needs to be park of the equation
    In her excellent “What should I blog about post” Kimberly Grabas suggests a list of three factors a blogger should consider but neglects to mention the SEO research Trond Lyngbø advocates, in Kimberly’s defence she’s not writing for content Marketers or SEO wonks her audience is writers/bloggers so the SEO considerations still apply really as it’s a rare blogger who doesn’t want to attract a larger audience. She does advise using of Google’s Keyword planner whilst researching so her keypoints are
    1. Who is your audience or the intended consumer of your content?
    2. How do your passions, interests and talents intersect with the wants and needs of this specific group of people?
    3. And finally, what are your goals or the results you wish to achieve?
    4. Does Keyword research confirm that there is sufficient interest in the topic to justify the time and resources it will take to add value to the current state of the topic area i.e. is what you are producing better than the current content devoted to this topic

    Parting thoughts

    Historically this has been one of the weak points in my content marketing and its one I’m determined to rectify from now on ,Analysis of the success of content is a major part of Trond Lyngbø’s recommendations and from now on I’ll monitor this using Google Analytics, this is the feedback loop which ascertains if your content is actually working (so it’s essential if you wish to be accurate rather than relying on guesswork I don’t want to just use ‘click bait’ style titles I want to offer genuine value to my readers) so there’s still some work to do on my content cycle and Workflow

    Further Reading & Bibliography

    Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization (2011)
    Olivier Blanchard
    Ultimate Guide to Link Building: How to Build Backlinks, Authority and Credibility for Your Website, and Increase Click Traffic and Search Ranking (Ultimate Series)
    Eric Ward & Garrett French
    1. What Should I Blog About?haleymarketing.com
    2. What on earth should I blog about? flyingsolo.com.au
    3. What Should I Blog About? 10 Ways to Discover Your Perfect Niche buildingaframework.com
    4. Blog Post Ideas for Writers: Solving the “What Do I Blog About?” Conundrumwww.yourwriterplatform.com
    5. The 7 deadly sins of content marketingsearchengineland.com
    6. Topics Over Keywords: An SEO-Driven Approach To Content Marketing www.anumhussain.com
    7. Content Marketing: How to Choose Topics That Deliver Serious ROI www.upwork.com
    8. How to Find Content Topics That Score Big Using Keyword Researchwww.copyblogger.com

    By | May 13th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    What sort of content generates the most backlinks?

    Sharing

    Google have stated that backlinks are amongst the top 3 ranking factors, so links are still important and are likely to remain important for the foreseeable future, the 3 most important factors according to Google are

    • Links
    • Content
    • RankBrain

    What are backlinks?

    Backlinks are links from someone else’s site to yours, Google views them as a vote for your website. Of course, as soon as some people got wind of this an entire industry sprang up trading backlinks, often from pretty poor quality websites. Google does not approve of buying backlinks and may penalise a site they suspect of aggressively purchasing backlinks, Algorithm updates such as Google Penguin have been engineered to reduce the impact of links that Google suspect may have been purchased. Backlinks are also referred to as Off-Site SEO or Off Page SEO. Marketing expert Neil Patel argues that

    “Avoiding penalties while building links isn’t about luck. It’s about earning links. The types of links that Google penalizes sites for are low quality or bought links. If you can buy it on Fiverr, it’s not a good link. Period.

    One legitimate way to builds backlinks is to create what are known as linkable assets, this is assets on your website which are worth linking to, ie good quality content which is another of Google’s top three ranking factors alongside link Brain which I discussed a couple of weeks ago, the upperranks.com argue that These days, you have to create something worth linking to. In a nutshell, that is what this blog post will focus on

    Website Content Audit

    Before starting to Link Build its best to get an understanding of exactly what Linkable content is available on your site, the way to do this is by a
    Content audit. These will give you a good idea of what content is present on your website and whether it’s good enough to remain on the site or does it require repurposing or possibly removing altogether?

    Content Audits fall into two broad categories, which we’ll examine in more detail now.

    Quantitative Content Audit

    This is a process which can be automated by using software to crawl through your entire website this will give you a comprehensive overview of ALL the content available on your website, it will facilitate the discovery of SEO problems such as dead links, canonical errors and redirect errors, oops! I’ve discovered one or two already which I’ll now remove/rectify, links to external websites are subject to the ravages of time and will eventually be out of date as other sites around the web adjust/remove their content, as your site develops probably without the benefit of a content strategy or use of personas its entirely normal that some of the content developed will not be fit for purpose or entirely appropriate discovering content which no longer makes the grade is perfectly natural and a sign of the raising standards of your web content so prune and adjust where necessary, discovering the exact nature of your content shortcomings is the job of the other type of content audit

    Qualitative Content Audits

    Unlike Quantitative audits which they complement qualitative content audits should not be automated here, the input of a human being is required. The only software required is a spreadsheet, which is used to organise the audit. Content expert Kristina Halvorson suggests six questions a Qualitative audit needs to answer these being, in a nutshell the Qualitative audit A qualitative audit analyzes the quality and effectiveness of the content.

  • What does the content say?
  • Is the content accurate?
  • Is the content useful?
  • Is the content used by your audiences?
  • Is the content written professionally?
  • s the content user-friendly?
  • A qualitative audit safeguards the quality of your content and linkable assets, important as your content grows. Qualitative audits enable the accuracy of content to be verified, important in the rapidly changing world of digital marketing. Without the rigor of a qualitative audit, it’s impossible to gauge whether your content fits into your content strategy. Older Content is quite likely no longer fit for purpose and should be archived or repurposed where appropriate, it’s also the best time to ensure that your content contains the correct number of LSI & SEO keywords. Zach Edling (tendo.com) argues that

    a good content audit combines quantitative and qualitative findings with analysis and actionable recommendations
    so a Content audit acts as a starting point which together with a coherent Content Strategy will ensure your website is full of engaging, useful and good quality content so properly promoted it should be fairly easy to acquire backlinks to.

    What’s hot and what’s not?

    There’s little or no point wasting resources creating content no one is interested in so it’s best to examine which topics in your industry are of the most interest. Buzzsumo gives a great overview of the topics in your industry which attract the most attention. Unfortunately, Buzzsumo is not available for free with the cheapest package being $99 per month; there are alternatives to Buzzsumo where one can gauge the popularity of potential topics, this will enable you to choose topics which are of interest to people, useful when trying to develop a content plan for upcoming weeks. Personally, I find the selection of topics one of the most difficult aspects of maintaining a blog. There are alternatives to Buzzsumo such as

    List of alternatives to Buzzsumo

    Parting thoughts

    Good quality, well research content will ensure that your content attracts the right sort of attention and backlinks. This in essence is the core of the Skyscraper Technique linked below which takes already popular great quality content and makes it even better The beauty of really great content is that it is really easy to promote, and if others are sharing it will promote itself somewhat but one cannot afford to be complacent about that and the content should be adequately promoted, the standard caveats apply here such as making effective use of visual content (which increases engagement and shares) I’d love to add infographics but I, unfortunately, don’t have the skills yet or the resources to research and design the infographics I’d like to include, I really enjoy creating content which stretches me (I know there’s a hell of a lot of room for improvement, stop sniggering at the back!), in short really great content will enable you to stand out from the crowd, just make sure it adds value to your readers

    Further Reading & Bibliography

    Content Strategy for the Web (Voices That Matter)
    Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach
    Ultimate Guide to Link Building: How to Build Backlinks, Authority and Credibility for Your Website, and Increase Click Traffic and Search Ranking (Ultimate Series)
    Eric Ward & Garrett French
    1. 7 Content Search Tools That Are Perfect Alternative to BuzzSumo thenextscoop.com
    2. What Kind Of Content Generates The Most Links For Business Owners? Forbes.com
    3. 5 Ways to Build Links Without Getting Penalized quicksprout.com
    4. Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days backlinko.com

    By | April 29th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    Creating great Visual Content on a Budget

    emotion
    The benefits of visual content are well understood, however for smaller businesses without IT knowledge & graphical savvy expecting them to make use of Photoshop or similar software may be too much, personally, I’ve got over ten years experience with Photoshop it’s not a cheap piece of software to purchase and it can at first glance be quite a daunting prospect, There are cheaper & free alternatives which will be perfectly adequate for small businesses wishing to develop visual content for use on their blog and in Social Media That’s what I’ll examine in this week’s blog post how can Small Businesses develop good quality visual content on a budget without extensive graphic design training?

    Fonts

    Fonts are important and can be used to define your brand’s identity this is a two-edged sword because using an inappropriate font can give the completely wrong impression so Comic Sans is out I’m afraid especially for professional websites & content. I cannot give you an extensive training in typography here, I can offer a handful of basic pointers to ensure you don’t make beginners mistakes when using type or text in your visual content.

    Cheesecake fonts, great but don’t overdo it!

    Graphic Design rookies have a tendency to overdo what Robin Williams describes as ‘cheesecake fonts’, so called because they are really enjoyable in small amounts but sickly if overused. Cheesecake fonts are great but only if used SPARINGLY e.g. for subheadings only. When I started out as a web developer this was a trap I fell making extensive use of one particular font in every website I developed*cringe*

    Great Font sites

    Font Prices range from hundreds of pounds meaning these bespoke fonts are the preserve of Large Corporations. Sites such as font squirrel http://www.fontsquirrel.com/ and dafont http://www.dafont.com/ have extensive ranges of free and nearly free fonts but ensure that you’ve checked the terms and conditions before using as some may not be used on commercial products, these two sites alongside Google fonts (https://www.google.com/fonts)should cover most if not all of your font needs.

    The Benefits of Visual Content

    In her book ‘the Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand (2014) Ekaterina Walters argues that the brain absorbs visual content up to 60,000 times more quickly than textual content, in todays attention starved world this explains the popularity of visual content such as Infographics and photographs in the fast paced world of social media in addition to this Walters argues that Photographs can be used convey mood far more effectively than text.

    Stock or not?

    Stock Photography is a relatively cheap way to get professional quality photography for your website, what could possibly be wrong with that? The problem is a lot of stock photography is extremely corny and instantly looks just like stock photography a characteristic which the brilliant http://womenlaughingalonewithsalad.tumblr.com/ pokes fun at, I’m not sure any company would want to look corny & fake but it’s a mistake lots of companies make overusing stock photography with little or no thought about the impact, I’ve tended to shy away from using stock photography in recent years for the reasons I’ve mentioned so I get most blog images I use from Flickr which is free and frequently a lot better than the stock photography available.

    By | March 25th, 2016|Content, SME Online Marketing|0 Comments

    Its time to reexamine email marketing

    mailbox

    Image credit: Steve Johnson(Flickr.com)

    One of the received wisdoms associated with online marketing is “The money is in the list” Google it if you don’t believe me its almost a cliché. The rise of mobile technology has meant that marketers are reappraising the role of email marketing, which had previously fallen somewhat out of vogue. Its email marketing I’m examining with this week’s blog post

    What’s the list?

    The list which I’m referring to here is the email marketing list which is basically shorthand for you email marketing database which contains the names and email addresses of people who have given you permission to email them.

    Segmentation

    Segmentation of the email list is a strategy that can dramatically boost the impact of your email marketing. Both
    Mailchimp & AWeber support segmentation. Hubspot’s research reported the following results

    39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue.blog.hubspot.com

    Segmentation will facilitate more effective targeting of emails. Segmentation means organising your email list along group lines these can be things such as

    • Gender
    • Geographical Location
    • Behaviour
    • Purchase history
    • Persona
    • job title
    • Age
    • Interests

    Segmentation has a number of benefits such as:

    • Improved open rates, more people will actually open your email
    • Improved click through rates (CTR) i.e. people clicking on offers or links contained in your emails
    • Reduce Unsubscribing one of the main reasons I personally unsubscribe from lists is I feel the content offered is not relevant to me, segmentation reduces the danger of this happening you can offer relevant & interesting content to the people you have targeted

    Purchased Lists?

    Rather typically for the Internet there are email lists for sale, as with fake twitter /Facebook followers this is NOT a practice I’d recommend, it takes time and effort to build up a mailing list. The trading of lists is against Mail Chimps terms and conditions and could potentially lead to your account being closed, AWeber another bulk emailing solution certainly advise against the trading of email lists on their blog. The big difference between purchased and earned email lists is that people on email lists have given you permission to email them, which is often the trade off for Free e Books offered online, without that permission you would be guilty of being a spammer. This is why the entrepreneur Seth Godin hatched the term Permission marketing which is defined below

    Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.sethgodin.typepad.com

    Advantages of email marketing

    • For the small business email marketing has a number of distinct advantages the low cost being foremost amongst these, the MailChimp plan I use is pay as you go
    • email marketing is measurable meaning its easy to see which emails are effective and which are not its easy to implement a/b split testing so email formats & various titles can be compared and contrasted
      Email Marketing can be used to develop brand loyalty and trust for your brand
    • its easy to offer personalised email messages unlike the “one size fits all” approach of typical printed mail campaigns. Research by eConsultancy in 2015 shows that 78% of email marketers believe that all email marketing will be personalised in the future (source: www.business2community.com)
    • Email lists can be segmented so its possible to target emails precisely with some experts suggesting that “batch & Blast” techniques are obsolete, this means not sending everyone on your email list an identical email.

      Parting thoughts

      email marketing is perfect for small businesses it offers a cost effective way to raise brand awareness and reach amongst your customers with targeted emails which is a distinct advantage over printed marketing. There does appear to be some disagreement regarding the effectiveness of email marketing. Neil Patel (quicksprout.com) argues “its really easy to make mistakes” so please don’t give up if your email marketing doesn’t immediately give good results.

    By | February 5th, 2016|Content, SME Online Marketing|0 Comments

    The lure of long-form content

    writing

    Image credits:Flickr Caleb Roenigk

    Gavin Davies was running a struggling small business most of his efforts were spent trying to attract more business for his small company Doobrytech, attempts to use traditional channels such as local retail magazines had been unsuccessful so bearing this n mind and despite a lack of familiarity with the internet he decided to invest in a company website with some time and effort he’d got his head around the basics of Search Engines and had a rough understanding of what keywords are, despite this he’d watched with concern as local competitors had shown up above the Doobrytech website on the Search Engine Results pages(SERP) in order to improve the rankings for his website he’d gone along with advice of others to start blogging on his website something many similar businesses had adopted

    All this despite the fact he’d done little no writing since School & College where he tended to avoid having to write in his wildest dreams or nightmares there’s no way he’d describe himself as a writer or heaven forbid blogger, yet here he was pen in hand trying to predict how business blogging would develop throughout 2016 and the implications for his company website and blog. One potential trend that seemed to be on everyone’s lips was long form content, Gavin tried to understand exactly what was long form content and what changes it would require from his business and would the benefits make all the extra effort worthwhile?

    long-form content

    Using Long Form content meant that Gavin would need to adjust his workflow and content development practises with more time allocated for writing, editing and research it would certainly have an impact on his weekly routine but the hope was the benefits would make this worthwhile

    What exactly is long form content?

    Long form content means longer more in depth blog posts with Forbes’ Josh Steimle suggesting that over 1,200 words per article is a good guideline for the length of the long-form blog post as opposed to the traditional 700 word article length

    Long Form storytelling

    Long form content often employs storytelling and is frequently presented as a narrative, this works just as well for businesses as it does for fiction writers. It facilitates the presentation of more complex topics meaning its easily possible to go beyond the basics into the depth where topics really become interesting

    Why is long form content a good thing?

    Contrary to expectations what Gavin found interesting was that his analytics suite showed that bounce rates for long form content were lower, despite the common belief that attention spans were shorter online the long form content he’d added to his website was proving more engaging that the short form content he’d used previously. Research by moz.com found that long form content was more likely to generate backlinks

    Greater Depth

    Another benefit of the long form format would be that it would enable chosen areas to be covered in greater detail than the previous short-form content allowed him to.The shift in format enabled

    The benefits of long form, What’s in it for my business?

    Much to his delight alongside increased visitor engagement Gavin discovered that search engines loved the long form content he was producing leading to better Search Engine Results page (SERP) rankings

    Better Quality Content

    I broadly agree with Kristina Halvorson’s comments regarding the amount of poor quality uninspiring website content, some of this is due I think to the restrictions placed on authors by the short blog article (roughly 700 words) I’ll always support the idea that quality > quantity and for too long the opposite view has been dominant on the web, so this means I need to improve the quality of my own content, again I’m cool with that.

    Parting thoughts

    Long Form content does take more effort to develop however the benefits it provides more than make up for this The extra length gives authors the opportunity to create richer and more detailed content which goes far beyond the superficial content which is so prevalent on the web, taking advantage of the flexibility which long form content offers will allow you to stand out from the crowd in 2016

    Bibliography

    1. The SEO And User Science Behind Long-Form Content
      Search Engine Land.com
    2. What Kind of Content Gets Links in 2012?moz.com
    3. Why Long Form Content Marketing Works, And Why It Doesn’tForbes.com
    By | January 8th, 2016|Content, SEO|0 Comments

    When is content not Content?

    Change

    image credits Flickr:Nana B Agyei

    One of my recent conversations highlighted to me the disconnect between content as concept and content as reality for Small Business Owners, most if not all Small Business owners want to rank highly in Google and they vaguely understand it has something to do with content

    The difference between content and noise

    When is content not content? When its useless, uninteresting and badly written keyword stuffed guff, that’s not content its just noise. Don’t confuse the two. If Stuff on your website is not worth sharing its just noise. This is a trap I find small businesses falling into quite a lot, populating a website full of self congratulatory advertising copy in the mistaken belief its content, its merely the contemporary variant of Steve Krug’s much loathed ‘Happy talk’ reinvented as ‘content’ cause content is important, right? Jay Baer’s youtility concept is a useful when determining the value of content

    ‘Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it ‘Jay Baer

    Parting thoughts

    Despite the almost Obligatory changes I see in 2016 blog posts which will be all over the web for the next few weeks, I feel in 2016 the emphasis will remain on producing good quality content and publicising it effectively, I cannot see this paradigm changing while backlinks are used to calculate SERP rankings

    By | January 1st, 2016|Content|0 Comments

    Think Content strategy is only for large agencies?Think again!

    Content Strategy

    Image credits Flickr:pshutterbug: It’s about rules and strategy

    Introduction

    I know its one of those buzz phrases which is chucked around all over the web, but this week I want to examine content strategy, what it is and why its important? If you are to maintain any sort of web presence, your content strategy needs to be considered, a website would certainly qualify for this. Firstly we need to examine what exactly is content strategy?

    What is content strategy?

    The Usability.gov website offers a concise definition of content strategy ‘The goal of content strategy is to create meaningful, cohesive, engaging, and sustainable content’ (usability.gov)

    The Content Strategy Consortium define Content Strategy thus

    Content strategy is the practise of planning for the creation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable content” (quoted from Content Strategy at Work)

    In her book Content strategy for the web Kristina Halvorson offers the following definition of content strategy as

    “how you’re going to use content to meet your business (or project) goals and satisfy your users’ needs.”
    Rahel Baillie’s definition adds a bit more substance as to exactly what a content strategy is

    Content strategy deals with the planning aspects of managing content throughout its lifecycle, and includes aligning content to business goals, analysis, and modelling, and influences the development, production, presentation, evaluation, measurement, and sunsetting of content, including governance.Rahel Baillie:Content Strategy: Connecting the Dots Between Business, Brand, and Benefits(2012)

    Why is content strategy important?

    The keywords for me are in the Content strategy consortium definition ‘useful, usable content’ rather than waste time, money and resources creating poor quality content which is not fit for purpose, A content strategy enables you to set the goals for your content marketing and realistic viable plans for producing the content.

    Does a small business need to bother with things like content strategy?

    Emphatically YES! Content strategy is not something that need only concern large outfits and agencies, resources are often tight in SMEs,I especially find time to be the most pressing constraint, a content strategy enables time and resources to be efficiently allocated

    Benefits of a content strategy

    Content strategy offers benefits in addition to planning and resources, improving the overall quality of website content by ensuring that content is useful and cohesive, so no poor quality content slips through the net, this can be verified by content audits which I examined last week, as content maintenance is part of a content strategy there’s no excuse for inferior quality content being present

    Parting thoughts

    Content strategy is not something which need only concern large companies and agencies, it prevents content being developed in a haphazard manner and ensures content is properly planned with resources being allocated accordingly with priorities being planned which is very relevant given the pivotal role of website content in search engine rankings and performance something which many small businesses take very seriously indeed, you cannot afford to waste time and money developing content which is not fit for purpose. In conclusion content strategy adds to a more cohesive use of content, better quality content will make a good impression on website visitors. Useful content, which answers their questions, can only benefit their impression of your company.
    Personally I feel that Margot Blumstein’s definition of content strategy sums up the aims of content strategy perfectly in a succinct manner

    How do you make smart choices to ensure the content types, tone, and media in an experience support that experience in a way that’s appropriate to the brand and useful to its audience?Margot Bloomstein: content strategy at work(2012)

    it is imperative that content serves the needs of your audience, otherwise it is useless.

    Bibliography/Further reading

    1. Content Strategy Basics Usability.gov
    2. content strategy at work, Margot Bloomstein (2012)
    3. Content Strategy for the web(voices that matter),Kristina Halvorson & Melissa Rach (2012)
    4. 10 Definitions of Content strategy Busolati.com
    By | November 20th, 2015|Content|0 Comments

    Content Audits, how you can get started on the right track

    Content Audits

    Content auditing may not be the most exciting part of your content program this doesn’t detract from its importance. Knowing exactly what content your website contains allows resources to be allocated effectively, in addition to this it enables the quality of your website content to be analysed and adjusted accordingly giving you the opportunity to focus on the areas which require improvement. Content expert Kristina Halvorson suggests a number of benefits offered by auditing a website’s content such as

    • Help you to scope and budget for a content project
    • Give you a clear understanding of what you have and where it lives, even if only to being thinking about maintenance or content removal
    • Serve as a reference for source (or existing) content during content development, making it a highly efficient tool for writers and other content creators to keep track of what they have to work with

    Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach: Content Strategy for the web(2012)

    Moz.com suggest further advantages which are detailed below, the difference in the advantages is due to the different focus of Ms Halvorson who is a content strategist and Moz.com which is a SEO based website and service.

    • Determine the most effective way to escape a Panda penalty
    • Determine which pages need copywriting / editing
    • Determine which pages need to be updated and made more current, and prioritize them
    • Determine which pages should be consolidated due to overlapping topics
    • Determine which pages should be pruned off the site, and what the approach to pruning should be
    • Prioritize content based on a variety of metrics (e.g. visits, conversions, PA, copyscape risk score…)
    • Find content gap opportunities to drive content ideation and editorial calendars
    • Determine which pages are ranking for which keywords
    • Determine which pages “should” be ranking for which keywords
    • Find the strongest pages on a domain and develop a strategy to leverage them
    • Uncover content marketing opportunities
    • Auditing and creating an inventory of content assets when buying/selling a website
    • Understanding the content assets of a new client (i.e. what you have to work with)

    Different Types of audit

    Halvorson identifies a range of different audits some of which have a complementary role to play in the detailed auditing of your website’s content. These are as follows:

    Quantitative Audit

    Quantitative content inventories are a comprehensive top to bottom records of all the content in your website. Automation has a role to play in the creation of Content Inventories, as this could be a very long winded process otherwise, a quantitative audit is used to get an idea of what content is present on your website determining whether it is fit for purpose is the role of the other type of audit, the qualitative audit.

    Qualitative audit

    Qualitative audits are used to examine the quality of your website content, is it good enough to use or will further effort be required to bring it upto scratch? The Qualitative audit will highlight content which requires removing from the website. This should be part of your on-going content maintenance efforts.

    Parting thoughts

    I’ve already started auditing the content of this website and the initial quantitative audits have highlighted relatively minor issues (both of which are now rectified), as a website evolves its easy for content to fall out of date or by the wayside, I’m confident the qualitative phase will highlight content which doesn’t make the grade, My intention is replicate the 4 grades of content which moz.com use when reviewing their content which are “Keep As-Is”, “Remove”, “Improve”, or “Consolidate”, this will enable the quality of content to be maintained and where necessary improved. Furthermore the content audit is the starting point of developing a cohesive and realistic content strategy which is what I will be examining with next weeks post.

    Bibliography/Further Reading

    1. Content Strategy for the Web (Voices That Matter):Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach New Riders 2012
    2. How to do a content audit moz.com
    3. Qualitative or quantitative: which one do you need? stickycontent.com
    By | November 13th, 2015|Content, SEO|0 Comments