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It’s All About the Forms!

It’s All About the Forms!

Like many other features of a business website, forms have a variety of purposes that can be vital for your marketing strategy. Many businesses don’t use forms at all, or under-use them, out of fear that they appear intrusive. But using forms correctly can help you interact and engage with your customers in a way that makes them feel as if they chose to have that interaction – this feeling of consent is very important for conversions. Here’s how to use forms to capture qualified leads and start turning readers into buyers.

Connect Forms to Your Funnel

When developing your form strategy, it is best to connect the form to each stage of your funnel. For example, the very beginning of your funnel is simply to attract attention. The content you offer here, such as advice on your blog, should be free and accessible to anyone without giving up any information. But once you move on to the second part of your funnel, where you are offering more valuable content or solutions to serious leads, it’s time to start asking for things such as their name and email address.

This should always be presented as something that is intended to help the reader. For example, asking for an email address so you can send a free eBook. The farther along your customer goes in the funnel, the more information you should be collecting. This helps you understand your target audience very well – you’ll not only know exactly who makes it all the way through the funnel, but you’ll also know what type of buyer is more likely to bail out of the purchasing process, and at what step.

Placement of Your Form

If you truly want visitors to fill out a form, don’t hide it at the bottom of a page. It’s tempting to make it appear as though you are interested in giving them content first, but the truth is that about 38% of readers never scroll down on a blog page, according to a study performed by Slate. Keep your form high enough so that readers can see it “above the fold”, and draw attention to the form with big, colorful buttons. The call to action should be very clear – readers should always know exactly what they’ll get out of filling out the form, and exactly what you’ll be doing with their information.

Always Be Testing

If you choose to include forms in your website marketing strategy, you should always be tweaking and testing your forms. Be sure to check that your forms work on mobile devices, especially if your forms were included in an email. Nearly 50% of all emails are opened on a mobile device these days, and if your form isn’t mobile compatible, you can bet that your readers won’t come back to fill it out.

You should also run A/B tests to determine what type of form, what placement, and what call to action, earns the most conversion rates. Test the length of the form, the order of the questions, the graphic design, and any other features – but be sure to test just one at a time.

Follow Up with Forms

If your form collects contact information for your readers, be sure you are following up within a day to avoid a lead going cold. And be absolutely sure that filling out a form results in the speedy delivery of the promised attractor. By giving you their contact information, a reader is entering a contract with you that acts as a “lite” version of a sale. If you don’t follow through here, they won’t trust you enough to buy your product or service.

Is Your Content Production Constipated?

Is Your Content Production Constipated?

With something as important to your online marketing efforts as a blog, there are always two sides of the coin. First, there’s the benefit that a blog can offer: getting you attention, getting your message to the right ears, earning you the reputation as an industry guru that you need for more conversions. However, blogs can also have a negative side: costing you money, wasting your time, and keeping your online strategy stuck in old tactics.

Is Your Blog Costing You Time and Money?

When a blog is spending too much time on the negative flipside of that coin, we refer to it as being constipated. Your blog is backed up, stuck in a mode that isn’t doing you or your audience any favors. One of the first signs of content constipation? Your blog is costing you too much time and too much money, for too little return.

The return that you’re aiming for with a blog is reads. The more reads you get, the more your time and money was worth it. If you aren’t meeting your goals in this area, you need to reconsider how much effort you’re putting into a blog, or change your tactics to meet your goals better.

Too Much Effort Is a Problem

One of the biggest reasons that a blog doesn’t get read is due to the fact that the content isn’t coming fast enough. Good content is always the goal, but frequency matters! If your blog is constipated, readers will soon move on and never look back. Here are a few common mistakes when creating blog posts:

  • You’re trying to make every blog a New York Times bestselling novel. That’s not what a blog is meant to be. This isn’t the place to drive home an emotional theme through hours of content. With more than 40% of all readers skimming blog posts as it is, you need to keep it short and sweet.
  • You have every member of your staff edit content or add ideas. All this does it take up everyone’s time when they could be doing other things for your company. Agree on a content strategy and then delegate the execution. Even more efficient and effective, hire someone to manage your blog for you!
  • You’re overthinking the strategy. Blog posts have a very simple purpose: to generate interest. In other words, they exist to sell your product or service. You can do that in many ways, such as through education or entertainment, but don’t lose sight of the very simple base goal.

Stop Getting in Your Own Way

The truth is that blog constipation all comes down to the way you are using your blog. Not getting the readership you want? You are likely not churning out enough quality information in a way that connects with your readers’ expectations. Remember: blog posts are supposed to be two things, interesting and fast.

One easy way to unlock your blog’s potential is to get out of your own way by outsourcing the content production. Once you have your content strategy nailed down, you can communicate that to a third party writing service and simply manage the results. This frees up your time, and makes it easier to keep the blog on track with the strategy – without your personal connection to your industry and product, a third party writer will simply follow the strategy and not get bogged down with distractions.

Additionally, because content production is all a third party writing service does, you can ensure that your blog will always be frequently updated with brand new material, and you won’t have to worry about producing it yourself. That’s a huge load off your mind and a great way to keep your blog moving forward.

Nobody Cares About Your Business – Give Them Your Solution!

Nobody Cares About Your Business – Give Them Your Solution!

It’s no secret that your customer base is searching for you online before they ever make a purchase. As of 2017, statistics show that up to 80% of your customers will look you up first – often before even visiting your store. With such a significant part of your sales dependent on the impression you make online, you can’t afford for your content to be anything less than stellar. But all too often, businesses fall into the same trap when it comes to their online presence.

It’s a Trap! Focusing On Your Business, Not the Solution

Did you know that only 22% of businesses have satisfactory conversion rates with online content (according to a 2016 study by Econsultancy)? There’s one big reason that many business owners overlook: their content is all about their business.

When your content exists only to stroke your brand’s ego, it won’t connect with the audience. While there is a place and a time for telling your customers who you are, they don’t come to you for a brand experience – they come to you for a solution. The solution is your product or service, and that’s what your content should focus on.

Educate and Inform

When you head to the Internet, what are you usually searching for? If you are like most people, your searches are typically for information of some kind, rather than a blind hunt for an advertisement to sell you something. Today’s consumer has been raised to find the information they want on the world’s largest marketplace, and that could be a powerful tool for your brand when used correctly.

Lead generation, or getting people to visit your website or profile, is one of the most important parts of online marketing. And yet, only 20% of marketers feel that their efforts are effective, according to a 2015 study by BrightTALK. The problem is that the audience is hunting for answers, and will happily skim through all other content until they find what they need. Offer your audience education and information to slow them down and keep them coming back to you for more.

You Are Not Your Audience

Another issue that many businesses face is that their content is not tailored for their audience. They use their blog or their social media profiles as means of sharing updates or launching products – in other words, keeping all the attention on me, me, me.

Your audience needs content that is tailored to them. That is the number one way that you will convert clicks to sales. In order to deliver content that converts, you need to know what your audience wants. Information? Solutions? Entertainment? Often it’s a mix of the three. But, did you notice what’s not there? That’s right – anything to do about the running of your business. Keep the focus on what the audience wants.

Fix Their Problems or Make Them Money

Offering a product or a service is all about fixing a problem. Your audience has a demand and you have the supply. Your content should make it very clear how you are going to fix their problem. Is your product or service going to remove a major life obstacle, or is your content going to help them make money? Fixing a problem or helping someone make money are the two most important types of content on the Internet today. Highlight these aspects of your business before anything else.

Since 2014, online research prior to making a purchase has accounted for more than 80% of all shopping habits according to Retailing Today. Give your audience what they want – the solution – because they aren’t searching for your brand.

 

The Changing Face of Content Marketing

canstockphoto26958429Content is ever evolving. Just taking note of this fact is not enough, however. In addition to realizing that you have to change and update your content marketing strategy often, you also have to realize what trends are effective and which ones are not. Without this information, you are destined to find your efforts with a less than impressive impact.

One of the biggest trends sweeping this area of marketing is visual content. This includes things such as infographics, video, visual note-taking, memes and more, integrated into your existing marketing campaign.

In the new era of social media, words alone won’t be enough to keep your audience interested and engaged.

Why you may wonder?

Because:

  • 90% of all information transmitted to your brain is visual. This means that if you want to ensure your message is seen and understood, visual is your best bet.
  • Page conversion rates are increased on landing pages by 86 percent when videos are used.
  • When visual content is used, it is already social media ready and social media friendly. Today, social engagement is, even more, important than SEO.

Now, you have to consider what you can do to begin implementing visual content. This can be a challenge for those who have never embarked on this type of campaign in the past, but, believe it or not, it is actually easier than you may have imagined.

A good place to start is with the tips found here. When you implement methods that have been used and proven as effective by others, you will be able to see the impact in your own marketing efforts.

Provide Ideas for New Ways to Use Your Products.

In many cases, consumers don’t know exactly what they are looking for, so they search online for ideas and inspiration. Any smart marketer will provide them with a creative solution and put them in the position as the brand that is “here to help.” Create informative or how to videos to post to YouTube, these are highly beneficial and will likely catch on, making your product insanely popular and sought after.

Show, Don’t Tell.

Utilize graphics and photography to tell stories about your brand, product, company, or any other element that may be appealing to visitors. The key to using these images is to illustrate the advantage of the product you are offering in a memorable and unique way. Recently, Volvo released an image of Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two Volvo Trucks. This is both intriguing (which will catch attention) and memorable (which means they will remember you and what you have to offer).

Let Your Customers Insert Their Creativity into Your Brand.

You can entertain your prospective customers with any type of user-generated visual content, which allows the fans of your brand to tell their story. A site that is doing this quite effectively is Tourism Australia. Fans submit as many as 900 photos each day to be considered and each post typically generates tens of thousands of likes on Facebook.

Remember, just like any other strategy, you have to track the effectiveness of your efforts. Failure to do this will result in you never knowing what works and what doesn’t.

The fact is, video, images, and other visual content elements make your page easier to scan and get a general idea about what you offer. If you have yet to implement visual content, now is the time to act, as this is becoming a more and more popular trend that gets the attention of consumers and keeps them coming back for more.

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5 Tips to Create an Effective Inbound Marketing Plan

Send applicationsInbound marketing is a sustainable and natural process that provides a measurable ROI (return on investment). Whether you have a startup business with investors or a small business that has a limited amount of capital, using inbound marketing efforts is something that just makes sense.

However, it is essential to develop a workable strategy that provides the results your business wants. In many cases, this can be easier said than done.

Where Inbound Marketing Efforts Go Wrong

There are a number of small businesses that approach marketing with a half-in and half-out manner. They know they need a strong presence online, but may not have the resources or time to actually follow through and create a solid inbound marketing plan.

The fact is, however, your competition isn’t holding back, and if you don’t “play ball,” it may cost you quite a bit.

Whether you hire an outside marketing agency, a consultant, or take the DIY approach, now is the time to step up and make your online marketing strategy a priority.

What Makes a Compelling Inbound Marketing Plan?

When it comes to business, you need to create a marketing strategy that will produce the highest possible return, with as little of an investment as possible. For some small businesses, this will mean making what you already have work for you.

Prior to updating your website or interacting more on social media, you have to develop a plan for implementing and measuring the efforts you make. With a well-planned strategy, you will be able to capitalize on your money and time investments.

With the five tips here, you will be well on your way to creating your own, effective marketing strategy.

The Market Assessment

To pitch your strategy well, you need to show your audience that you understand. Developing a marketing persona, which is a description of the characteristics of your ideal customer, is a great place to start. Once you have this information, you can begin to search for online trends that let you know how the people behave while online.

Considerations for Measuring Success

Being able to measure the financial ROI of your efforts is essential for business success; however, it is important to note that there are a number of inbound marketing strategies that will take time to flourish. Create a set of KPIs (key performance indicators) that will add value to your brand and supplement the ROI metrics. Some of the KPIs you may use include repeat business, consumer trust and increased visibility online.

Identify Your KPI Pathways

Once you have specific goals outlined, you can begin to find possible consumer pathways – this is how your consumers will contribute to the goals you have created. For example, social media engagement and higher search engine rankings will increase visibility online. Not all consumers will begin their journey by searching or by checking social media. Try to list all the possible pathways that consumers may use to reach the business.

Add and Optimize the Pathways

Be sure to focus on making a few of your current online pathways stronger at first and then add a few new tactics. There are many small businesses that are successful thanks to email marketing, social media interactions, blogging and local SEO. If you currently have a blog, try to write about topics that relate to your KPIs and your goals. For example, highlight a story from a customer and then link it to a review site, which will help improve customer trust.

You can use Google Analytics, for free, to run some reports on your website and mobile assets. Be sure to look at the reports carefully to know exactly where you stand.

With these tips, you can develop a clear image of your goals and then repeat the optimization and the measurements steps again and again until all your goals have been met.

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5 Content Marketing Myths and the Truth that May Surprise You

canstockphoto21088164.jpgWhen it comes to content marketing, there are more than a few misconceptions out there. As a result, many businesses stay away from this element of marketing, thinking it will not be effective or that it is too expensive. The fact is, content marketing is a crucial component of any marketing strategy and learning the truth about it will help you see why it should be included in your marketing arsenal.

MYTH: It’s Expensive

Effective content marketing is a very labor intensive process. As a result, there is typically a high cost associated with it. This includes everything from videography to writing and design. If a business is investing in something they are only going to use once, then it can get quite costly. This is why it is important to seek opportunities to repurpose it when necessary. For example, make a magazine that includes all the top-performing blogs or re-edit your videos to use on Snapchat, Vine or Instagram. In 2015, approximately 29 percent of leading marketers repurposed and reused content.

MYTH: It Provides Quick Results

The creation of quality content will take time and seeing results from this can take even a longer period of time. This is why it is essential that stakeholders are educated about the process. The fact is, it can take up to 90 days of constant and consistent posting to see results from this effort. While content marketing is measurable, it will take time to get accurate data, in many cases, up to six months.

MYTH: It’s Only an SEO Play

While content marketing can do wonders in regard to SEO, after all, Google loves high-quality, fresh content, incorporating keywords a bit too zealously can have two negative results:

  • You create content that is full of jargon that no one will want to read.
  • Google will hit you with a Panda penalty because you are trying to “game the system.”

This is why it is essential to write for your actual audience, rather than the crawling bots. You will likely discover that your best performing posts will be ones that are written for people, rather than focused on SEO.

MYTH: Viral Content is Easy to Create

Creating a viral post just takes a great idea, right? This is completely untrue. There are quite a few good ideas executed each day; however, there are very few that actually “break the Internet.” While you can request viral content, it is important to realize that this is not something you can make at whim – it is something that happens organically. You have the best chance of creating viral content when you create pieces that are in line with what interests your audience. This means you need to get to know them and what they want – then deliver. While there is no absolute formula to find success, when you understand what your customer needs, it is a good place to start. Also, remember, the chances of your content going viral is really one in a million.

MYTH: A Lot of Shares or Traffic Means Success

While it is great to have content that catches on fire, it does not necessarily mean that is a victory. This is really dependent on the KPIs. If you create interesting content but it does not create any new leads, then this really has not benefited your business in any way.

Relatable, relevant and sharable are all factors to keep in mind when creating content. This will help you create content that actually produces results that you can see.

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