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10 Online Marketing Mistakes That Are Damaging Your Reputation, Part 2

April 16th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series 10 Online Marketing Mistakes

Damaged!Your online reputation includes your website, blog, downloadable content, and social media accounts. Because they are always “on” and ready to make a good first impression, you want them to do you proud and accurately represent the quality of you and your work.

If you missed my first post on mistakes 1-5, you can find it here. Here are the final 5 most common online marketing mistakes that, if you’re making them, are damaging your reputation:

6 – Focusing on sales over relationships

While I am sure that you, your company, your products, and your services are all great, don’t talk about you, it, or them. That’s sales, and I have never met anyone who said, “I love to be sold to!” Instead, show how great you are by sharing your knowledge and helping others. That’s how you build relationships, and relationships drive sales.

7 – Writing vague blog posts

This is probably my biggest pet peeve. Rambling blog posts that circle around a topic and never make a point or reach a conclusion are a complete and total waste of time. Make your point up front, and then write a blog post that supports your point.

8 – Not proofing content

The is my second biggest pet peeve. Keep your spell check and grammar check turned on. In the digital age, you literally have no excuse for spelling and grammatical errors. As for punctuation errors, learn what dashes, colons, and semi-colons are for, and learn how and when to use a comma. If your content is sloppy, what will prospects think about your work?

9 – Not editing content

This is different from proofing content, which is more mechanical. Editing means checking your content for clarity and length. Is your language clear? Can you tighten up sentences or paragraphs and still get your point across? Does your content flow nicely from one point to the next?

10 – Forgetting about your mobile site

How many of you have a smartphone? How many of you read email? How many of you look up a business on Yelp before heading there? Exactly – most of us do. Just last weekend, my husband looked up a restaurant on his iPhone. Their site was not mobile-friendly and was thus impossible to navigate. We decided to dine elsewhere. So, do you have an optimized mobile site yet?

What do you do to make sure your online reputation shines?

Image courtesy of timelineimages.com

10 Online Marketing Mistakes That Are Damaging Your Reputation, Part 1

April 15th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series 10 Online Marketing Mistakes

Damaged - ouch!The online reputation you have can make or break your brand. You can only physically be in one place at a time, but online, you are in several places at once and accessible 24/7. Your website, blog, downloadable content, social media accounts – they are always “on” and ready to make a good first impression – or are they?

Here are the first 5 (out of 10) common online marketing mistakes that, if you’re making them, are damaging your reputation:

1 – Not updating or maintaining your website

Because your website is your digital calling card, it is incredibly important to make a strong first impression. Keep your website fresh with new information – new projects, clients, testimonials, press mentions, maybe a Twitter feed.

Web design and development best practices and must-have elements have changed a lot in the past couple of years. If your website includes Flash or is more than a few years old, consider having it redesigned.

2 – Using auto-play video

If you have a video on your website that automatically plays as soon as someone lands on your site (or Web page), for the love of all that is good in the marketing world, please turn it off. It is annoying, and it definitely will not win you any friends.

3 – Neglecting your social presence

Once you start a blog and make your presence known on Facebook, Twitter, etc., don’t stop. The whole point of “going social” is to be social – to have conversations, answer questions, help solve problems, provide resources, and ultimately build a community. You can’t build something by taking frequent and extended vacations.

4 – Over-communicating

This can be interpreted in two ways: sharing too much, and sharing too often.

By sharing too much, I mean sharing personal information that is totally irrelevant and inappropriate or sharing professional information that is angry in nature (like complaining about a bad client).

By sharing too often, I mean posting company-focused news/updates on Facebook and Twitter more than once a day. I have noticed that a social media marketing professional whose brand I “like” on Facebook does this every day – she sends out at least 3 posts on Facebook back-to-back every evening. Hello, un-follow button!

5 – Over-automating social media

When Twitter was first adapted by the business community, it was popular to auto-send a Direct Message to new followers. Amazingly enough, people and brands still do that, even though the practice is highly frowned upon. Do you automate your phone calls to your spouse, mom, or kids? Of course not – you’re not a robot. Well, you shouldn’t do it to your social media followers either.

Do you see these mistakes being made? Which one bugs you the most – and why?

Image courtesy of timelineimages.com

How to Start and Maintain a Blog Without Going Crazy

April 9th, 2013 ::


Feeling just a little overwhelmed?

As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats – I sure do! Because we all are squeezed on time, the thought of starting and maintaining a blog can be pretty overwhelming. Like getting a dog, it quickly goes from a fun, exciting idea to the realization that a blog has to be fed and looked after on a regular basis … followed by panic and then paralysis.

I write a lot of blog posts every month for various clients, so below is what I do to stay organized and thus easily feed some very hungry blogs:

Read Other Blogs

I blog about social media marketing and marketing in general, both of which are continually evolving. I read a lot of other blogs to keep up with industry news, trends, best practices, etc., as well as to spur ideas for my own blog posts. Yes, this takes time, but it also ensures I’m keeping up with the industry while learning as I go and thus deepening my expertise.

Set Some Goals

Before you start blogging, you need to know why you’re blogging. Is it to build awareness of your business, attract more leads, improve your search results on certain topics, become a go-to expert? It is most likely all or most of the above, which is fine. Now you know what your goals are.

Choose Topics

Between your knowledge of what is happening in your industry, thanks to all of that reading you’re doing, and your own area of expertise, sit down and list out the topics your audience will be interested in reading. Your goal is to rotate through those topics on a monthly or bimonthly basis.


Towards the end of every month, I set aside time to brainstorm blog post topics for the following month. I typically spend 30 minutes on this. To ensure each blog post will be useful, relevant, and engaging for the reader, I strive to think up actionable posts that will teach people how to do something – just like this one.

Create Working Titles

As I think of blog post ideas, I type working titles into a column in an Excel spreadsheet. I use working titles, so 1), I don’t get bogged down trying to think of the perfect title before I’ve even written 2 sentences, and 2) I sometimes veer off into a totally new direction as I write, so I like to give myself some flexibility.

If you need more detail than just a working title, create a content column and add your ideas and the points you’ll make in the blog post.

Schedule Time To Write

To ensure you actually sit down and write, schedule time to write and set yourself deadlines. I set aside time on the same days every week to write a few blog posts for clients. I don’t block it off on my calendar, but do it if that will help. You can also set yourself deadlines for each blog post to create some urgency.

Put That Blog To Work

Because you’re blogging with goals in mind (see above), you want to make sure you’re reaching them. Here are 3 things to do:

  1. Integrate keywords – make sure the keywords you want to be found for online are used in your blog posts, especially in the titles
  2. Add a call-to-action – at the end of each blog post, add a call-to-action to spur your reader to do something and thus become a lead, whether it’s download a free trial or call you for a free consultation
  3. Share your blog posts – share your blog posts on your social networks and in your newsletter to reach as large an audience as possible

If you don’t blog yet, what’s stopping you? If you do, how did you overcome your initial reservations and work blogging into your schedule?

Image courtesy of theironjen.com

The Online Marketing Project: How to Improve Your Online Presence One Step At A Time – Part 2

April 2nd, 2013 ::
This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Online Marketing Project

When you think about online marketing, there are a lot of pieces to consider. To make your life easier, I have ripped a page from The Happiness Project and put together a one-step-at-a-time plan to improve your life.

In my first blog post, I covered Steps 1 – 3: updating your website, putting together a mobile site, and listening to what people are saying online.  Let’s move on to steps 4 – 6.

Step 4: Put Together an Editorial Calendar

After looking at Google Analytics and listening to what your target market says, you know what topics to cover as you create content. Stay organized by putting them in an editorial calendar:

  • List topics – Start by narrowing down the topics to the ones that are most relevant to your expertise. Then brainstorm – what areas can you cover for each topic?
  • Choose content platforms – Decide what pieces of content go where. Blog posts are great for how-to’s and advice, which can then be shortened into newsletter articles. Quick tips, offers, updates, photos, event announcements, and company news are perfect for social media.
  • Decide on timing – Finally, decide how often you want to publish content. Blog posts work best when you publish at least once a week, but it’s perfectly fine to publish your newsletter monthly. When it comes to social media, though, you must be active on it every day, so plan your schedule accordingly.

Step 5: Improve Social Media Engagement

Because social media is constantly evolving, I think improving social media engagement is an ongoing goal for all of us small business owners. Here are 3 basic things we should always be doing, no matter what social media platform we’re using.

  • Find your audience – Research social media networks beyond the biggies – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Look at Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, Viddy, and others to see if your target market uses them.
  • Learn what to share where – Because each social network is used differently, the information you share on each should be different. For instance, you could keep social messaging on Facebook and Google+ and social alerts on Twitter.
  • Respond – The best way to increase engagement on social media is to throw out questions to your audience and respond to their comments and questions.

Step 6: Start a Blog

Because search engines reward sites that are regularly updated with fresh content, starting a blog makes a lot of sense if you want to increase traffic to your site and improve search rankings. A blog will also boost your thought leadership and position you as an expert in your field.

  • Set up a blog schedule – In the previous blog post in this series, you learned how to set up an editorial calendar; time to add your blog to it. While blogging every day is ideal, it is not always realistic. Aim to publish one blog post a week on the same day at the same time so people will come to expect it.
  • Choose your topics – In the first blog post in this series, you learned how to listen to your target market. Since you know what topics they care about most, sit down and write out a month or two of blog post ideas at once to make the writing process go faster.
  • Make your content actionable – The most useful and shareable blog posts are the ones that teach your audience how to do something. Focus on making all of – or most of – your blog posts actionable.
  • Write clearly – No matter how much you know, focus on writing in a straightforward style that is easy to read and understand. Keep your content as concise as possible, and don’t repeat yourself.
  • Back up what you say – When possible, use examples, stories, and statistics to back up the point you are making.

Coming up next in Part 3, we’ll look at visual content, newsletters, ebooks, and SlideShare presentations. Since most of this post was on content marketing, what’s your biggest challenge when creating content?

Image by Flickr user kewl (Creative Commons)

7 More New Ideas for Valuable B2B Blog Posts

February 5th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series 7 New Ideas for BtoB Blog Posts

typing on laptopBored with your blog? Uh-oh. Instead of ignoring or abandoning it, here is the second of 2 posts on some fun new ideas that will reinvigorate your blog and jumpstart your creativity.

1. Follow popular trends

Look at Twitter or Google Trends to see what topics people are talking about and looking for. If you find something related to your industry, share your perspective on the trend. If not, think of a way to relate what you do to that trend, like “What Gardeners Can Learn From Lady Gaga.” (For the record, I have no idea!)

2. Recycle old blog posts into a new one

Pull your top advice from several older blog posts on one subject and combine them into a new post. You could find that you have so much information on the subject that actually have an ebook in the making.

3. Review a movie or TV show

When “The Social Network” came out, I think everyone I knew in the social media space wrote a review of the movie. If a movie or TV show is set in your industry, review it and point out what they get right and what they get wrong.

4. Review new or old books

Books are also great to review, as there are so many of them published every year. It is highly unlikely your blog audience keeps tabs on what is new and noteworthy, so do the legwork for them. You can also review older books that have been invaluable for your job, career, or business.

5. Review and compare products or services from one category

Take a look at all the products or services that you use and look up the other top sellers. Try out the competition and write a blog post that compares them on features, ease of use, price, and results.

6. Publish industry trends

You know what’s going on in your industry, so share your insights on growing trends, whether they’re here to stay or just a passing fad, and how it will affect the industry and your customers.

7. Tell your own stories

Some of my favorite blog posts and articles have been based on personal stories. Whether it’s a challenge you overcame to close a big sale, secure funding, land a star employee, or reach an audacious goal, share your experience and what you learned along the way.

Now that you’ve got 14 new ideas for blog posts (check out the first 7 here), which ones are you eager to try?

Image courtesy of wisegeek.org

7 New Ideas for Valuable B2B Blog Posts

February 4th, 2013 ::
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series 7 New Ideas for BtoB Blog Posts

typing on laptopIf you’ve been blogging for a while, it can be easy to get stuck in a rut and develop writer’s block. Coming up with new topics all the time – that is hard! To jump-start your creative juices, I’ve put on my thinking cap and done some research to present you with new ideas.

Here is the first of two blog posts that will help reinvigorate your blog:

1. Designate days or weeks for certain topics

Depending on how often you blog, you could choose a specific subject for each day of the week, or, if you blog once a week, each week of the month.  By giving yourself more structure around topics, it might be easier to come up with blog post ideas.

2. Let Google Analytics be your guide

Look at the traffic on your website to see what pages Web visitors are not only visiting, but spending the most time on, and write blog posts based on your findings.

3. Write a beginner’s guide

Jot down all the basics anyone just starting out in your field needs, whether it’s online tools, legal paperwork, or steps that should be followed in a certain order. In other words, help people avoid the mistakes you made when you were just starting out!

4. Interview experts

You’d be surprised at how eager experts are to share their knowledge with others. While this might not work for some industries – good luck getting Steven Spielberg or Ralph Lauren on the phone – this might very well work for yours.

You can use expert interviews in one of two ways: a full-length interview of one expert (consisting of several questions) or the same one or two questions asked of several experts compiled into one or two blog posts.

5. Interview employees

If your employees are highly specialized in a specific niche, interview them. You could ask how they got started in their field, what they wished they’d known back then, what they’ve learned, and where they think the industry is headed.

6. Write about how to improve something

If there’s something you just can’t stand that is industry-specific – an online tool, “best practice,” widely used methodology, or “definitive” book – write a blog post about why it’s  overrated and how you would improve it or do it differently.

7. Republish popular posts

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you have a treasure trove of material that you can reuse. Pick posts that were super popular when they originally appeared and are still relevant, and republish them for new readers.

What are your favorite types of blog posts to write – and read? Tune in tomorrow for 7 more ideas.

Image courtesy of wisegeek.org

How to Optimize Your Blog for Lead Generation

January 14th, 2013 ::

Blog lead generation means more salesIf you’ve been blogging for a while and you are not seeing much in the way of leads coming from your blog, it is time to optimize your blog specifically for lead generation, rather than just search engines. Here’s how:

Add calls-to-action (CTAs)

I subscribe to a lot of blogs, but rarely do I see calls-to-action that are put front-and-center on the blog.  Besides adding calls-to-action in the body of the blog post or at the very end, you can add banners to the top or side (you could do the bottom, too, but they might be less noticeable there). Work with your website’s developer or a design agency to put eye-catching banners together.

In your CTA, be direct. Tell your website visitor what to do (“Get access to a free 30 day trial”), how to do it (“Download your trial subscription here!”), and the benefit of doing it (“Start improving your blog’s reach, just as thousands of other small business owners like you have done!”).

Test to see what works

Some calls-to-action will be more popular than others, so experiment with wording, graphics, colors, placement, offers, etc. You can keep one call-to-action up for a week, then swap it out for another. Keep experimenting until you find one that gets a lot of clicks.

Update your CTA regularly

Don’t leave the same banner CTA up for months on end. After a while, repeat  visitors will started ignoring that space, making it harder to convert them. You’ll know you have had the CTA up too long when click-throughs drop off.

Customize for different audiences

Since it is likely you have more than one target market, make sure you create a CTA that grabs each target’s attention. List out their different pain points and decide what would be most useful to them – a free demo, a free product trial, a free consultation, an introductory ebook, etc.

Blog more

According to Hubspot, companies that increase blogging from 3-5x/month to 6-8x/month almost double their leads. That’s because the more fresh content you publish, the higher you will rank in search engines, making it easier for people to find you.

Does your blog generate leads? What CTA works best for you?

Image courtesy of web2.salesforcesearch.com

7 Top Blogging Tips From the Pros

December 26th, 2012 ::

SevenSocial Media Examiner published a list of 21 blogging tips from the pros – a list that I whittled down to my favorite 7, all of which are easy for anyone to implement:

1. Validate your ideas

To make sure people want to read about the topics you want to write about, validate your ideas. Ask your followers on Twitter if they want to read more about certain topics, survey your customers about topics, and ask yourself if anyone would pay to read what you write.

2. Use your own images and videos

When you create your own images and videos for your blog posts, you will boost your search engine optimization by adding keyword-rich captions, descriptions, and titles.

3. Give away your expertise

This is great advice: Share the expertise that people pay you for. By freely sharing your advice, you will position yourself as a thought leader and foremost expert on your topic – and you could find your phone ringing off the hook.

4. Conduct interviews

You don’t have to interview only industry experts – anyone knowledgeable who can tell good stories and share valuable information is great. You’ll get engaging content for your blog post, and, when your blog post publishes, your interviewees will share it with their community.

5. Look for guest bloggers – and guest blog yourself

Inviting guest bloggers (employees, partners, customers) to write for you will provide fresh insight and ideas for your readers. Look for your own guest blogging opportunities to not only get your name out there, but draw new readers to your own blog.

6. Think like a journalist

I love this tip: Treat your subject as if you were a reporter. Listen to what other people are saying about your industry, and create content around it. This type of content is more likely to be repurposed and reused across media.

7. Be yourself

One of my friends writes emails exactly like she talks – full of energy and humor, even when she’s complaining. If you asked me to identify her email from a lineup, I could do it blindfolded. Well, not blindfolded, but you know what I mean. When you write, let your personality shine through. Your readers will feel more connected to you as they get to know you, and people like to do business with people they like.

What have you done to improve your blog content and grow your readership? Share your tips below!

Image courtesy of messagenote.com

5 Easy Ways to Shower Your Blog Readers With Attention – and Grow Your Audience

November 29th, 2012 ::

Growing plantsIf there’s one thing people have in common, it’s that we like attention. If you want to grow your blog, shower your readers with attention, just like bigger companies do via fabulous customer service (Zappos!). Here are 5 super easy tactics to try:

1. Email each subscriber

While your blog is small and growing, take the time to email each new subscriber personally. Each connection you make is small in and of itself, but it will create a strong and robust community. Plus, the word-of-mouth potential of your blog will increase because you actually take the time to reach out to – and thank – strangers.

2. Write for your readers

I don’t mean that in a broad sense. Write blog posts specifically for each reader if your blog audience is small enough.  If you have a larger audience, write blog posts specifically for those who take the time to leave a comment. Doing so will ensure your blog posts are shared– a great way to grow your own audience!

3. Publish the occasional video or podcast

As you build a community of readers, let them hear and/or see the person behind the blog. People are visual, after all, and it’s always nice to put a voice and face with the name.  I think this is one reason Gary Vaynerchuk’s original wine blog was so successful – it was always a video (and entertaining to boot).

4. Get together with your readers

When you travel, announce it on your blog and ask to meet up with your subscriber (or subscribers) in that area. Buy them coffee or lunch. Not only will they continue to talk about it years later, but you’ll very likely grow your own personal network of friends.

5. Ask your readers to guest blog

If any of your readers have their own blog – or leave particularly thoughtful comments – ask them to guest blog for you on a specific topic they have experience in and that is related to what you write about. Win-win for both of you – fresh content for you, new audience for them!

What other personalized tactics have you used to grow your own blog?

Image courtesy of photo-dictionary.com