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Content Marketing 101: The What, Why and How of Using Content to Generate Leads

October 26th, 2012 ::

Content marketingContent marketing has become quite the trend this year. If you’re not familiar with the term, it refers to creating digital and print marketing pieces specifically to market your business to your customers.

The benefits of content marketing include:

  • Creating trust
  • Building thought leadership and expertise
  • Building and solidifing relationships
  • Improving search results
  • Increasing Web traffic and leads

There are many pieces of content you can create, repurpose and share via social media and on your website. In my opinion, the top 7 by popularity and effectiveness (but in no particular order) are:

1. Articles

Seek out opportunities to write for trade or general interest publications, both digital and print, on your area of expertise.  Reach out to editors and propose topics that would be of interest to their readers.

2. Blog posts

Writing blog posts for your company’s own blog is great for search results – search engines reward websites that are frequently updated with new content. You can also seek out opportunities to guest blog for a partner company’s blog or an industry blog.

3. Case studies

Turn your projects into stories that explain a client’s challenge, your solution and the results. Case studies need not be long and technical – 3 paragraphs of 2-3 sentences each should suffice.

4. Enewsletters

A short, monthly newsletter is a great way to not only stay top-of-mind with your audience of potential, current and past customers, but also share your expertise and industry news.

5. Ebooks

Repurpose content from articles, blog posts, case studies, and presentations by creating an ebook in which you share tips, tricks and how-to’s.

6. Presentations and Webinars

If you hold or participate in events like seminars, workshops or webinars, consider your presentation part of your content marketing strategy, either by repurposing it whole or in parts.

7. Videos

Marketing videos can be entertaining, educational or a hybrid of both.  When done well, a video will not only engage your audience, but also drive leads to your website.

What kind of content marketing has worked well for you? What would you like to try if time and money were no option?

Image courtesy of adrants.com

How to Increase Your Influence – and Klout Score

August 23rd, 2012 ::


Influence.  Everyone wants it, but not everyone can get it – especially online, where there is an impossible amount of noise to cut through.

But it can be done! I just watched a really interesting video interview on Social Media Examiner on how to improve your online influence.  Mark Schaefer is a marketing consultant, teacher at Rutgers University, speaker and author of  Return on Influence and The Tao of Twitter.  In other words, he’s an expert in his field.  Here is what I learned while watching the video:

Schaefer’s new book, Return on Influence, is about the power of your content.  As he points out, no matter who you are, where you live, or what you do, your message can be shared and heard thanks to the Internet, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Of course, if you don’t have social influence, no one will hear your message – so it’s really a Catch-22.  However, you can accrue influence online by being authentic and connecting with your audience.

One of the best ways to measure your online influence is with Klout, and companies are figuring out creative ways to influence their Klout scores with great content. Companies are also leveraging word-of-mouth influencers, as it is incredibly powerful to have someone share how great you are with the rest of the world.

Here are 3 things you can do to improve your Klout influence scores:

  1. Surround yourself with people who care about you and who want to share your content.
  2. Create or aggregrate meaningful content that is RITE – Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining.
  3. Use social media to engage, not just talk.  Social media is social and person-to-person.

Schaefer says that if you do those 3 things, you will increase your social influence – and thus your Klout score.

This next point is only marginally about online influence, but it’s really interesting:

For the first time, Twitter, aka business networking on steroids, is being adopted by young people, one of whom said to Williams, “We enjoy using Twitter now, because mom and grandmom are on Facebook.  They’re not on Twitter, and Twitter is where the action is.”

Twitter is also picking up traction internationally, and Schaefer said that is because Twitter is simple, easy, and you can fit it into your day whenever you want to.

Who do you follow on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere who is influential in their field?  Why do you follow them?  Share your comments below!

Image courtesy of socialfresh.com

Web.com Review: Small Business Resource: Feedly: News Reader Tool

August 21st, 2012 ::


There are several options you can use to simplify reading all your favorite blogs and RSS feeds on your desktop and mobile devices. One is a service called Feedly, which can pull from all your favorite websites and put them in a more readable, magazine-style format that also works on a smaller screen. Feedly also integrates with Google Reader, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pocket and Instapaper. Feedly Mobile 2.0 makes it easier to read on your phones and tablets. Plus, you can personalize how you view the blogs and share your favorites on all your social networks.


How B2B Marketers Are Using Social Media

July 30th, 2012 ::

Marketo published a great infographic (see image) they created with ColumnFive based on the results of a social media marketing survey that Social Media Examiner conducted.  More than 3,800 marketers shared how they use social media – and what kind of benefits they are reaping.

A whopping 93% of B2B marketers use social media, an increase of 10% from 2 years ago, and those marketers are experienced: 38.5% of them have 1-3 years of experience using social media.

See how you stack up against them:

Benefits of social media marketing

  • 69% gathered insights on the marketplace
  • 60% improved their search rankings
  • 56% acquired new business partnerships
  • 53% developed loyal fans

Top 6 social media networks used

  1. Facebook (87%)
  2. Twitter (84%)
  3. YouTube or other video site (56%)
  4. LinkedIn (87%)
  5. Blogs (66%)
  6. Google+ (44%)

Looking forward, they want to improve their efforts in 3 areas…

  1. LinkedIn use (76%)
  2. Blogging efforts (71%)
  3. Facebook fan building (68%)

…and they want to learn more about

  • Measuring social media effectiveness (77%)
  • Converting activities to sales (72%)
  • Learn best practices (74%)

So, how do you compare?  Leave a comment below and let us know what social media networks you use and how they are benefiting you.

Image courtesy of Social Media Examiner

5 Ways to Create a Better Call-to-Action

June 8th, 2012 ::

Call to action buttons

I write lots of blog posts, website content and ad copy, and often the trickiest part is the call-to-action (CTA). No matter how engaging your content is, the goal is to motivate your target audience to take action. That action may be as simple as signing up for your newsletter, or it may have a more immediate payoff if you convince someone to hire you or buy your product.

Either way, a strong CTA can put your copy and return a real investment. Here are five ways you can start creating more effective CTAs for your online marketing content, from blog posts to websites, right now.

1.  Have someone sing your praises.

You’ve probably noticed that the back cover of every book you read has a list of industry experts explaining how great the book is. And, you can hardly turn on the TV without seeing a celebrity endorsing everything from weight loss plans to athletic shoes.

Credible endorsements work, and they can add tons of motivation to your CTAs. Start cultivating relationships with fellow bloggers and peers who would add credibility and clout to your posts. This goal will take some time, but it is worth it to have someone singing your praises that you – and your readers – respect.

2.  Make a clear and tangible offer.

Readers like to know what they’re going to get before committing to your offer. Spell out exactly what your audience will receive when they respond to your CTA, and they will be more inclined to take action.

Write a headline that explains exactly what will happen if readers click on your offer. “Double your Facebook Likes in 1 month” is better than “Get More Facebook Likes.”

Assign a monetary value to your offer so readers feel like they are getting a bargain. Telling readers your webinar is worth $200 can compel them to attend.

Show readers an image of the offer when possible. If you are offering an e-course, showing an image of books and CDs can help readers visualize it.

3.  Prove yourself socially.

Similar to earning an endorsement, gaining social proof adds credibility to your offer. A third-party recommendation of your blog may seem difficult to get, but all you have to do is guest post on popular blogs to get the same effect.

Be sure your posts are completely original so they will add value to the host blog as well. Well-known blogs only publish guest posts that are intriguing and useful, so if you are able to be featured, you will prove that your content is worth reading on a regular basis.

4.  Know what your audience wants.

Do you know what your audience really wants? I’m talking about the things that keep them up at night, like a viral blog post or a successful Twitter campaign.

When you understand what your audience really wants, you are able to spell it out for them in your offer. The best way to do that is to speak with your readers in person or on the phone. Even if you can only talk to a handful of readers, their insight will help you craft more compelling CTAs for your entire audience.

5.  Always be relevant.

What is the best time to offer readers a free e-book on SEO? The best time is right after they’ve read your blog post on creating keywords.

An SEO e-book offer is relevant to readers who’ve already shown interest on the subject by reading your blog post. So, you are more likely to get clicks on your CTA because your audience is primed to want more information on the subject.

Creating relevant offers takes time, but as you continue fueling your blog with engaging content, you will build a stash of content to repurpose for future CTAs.


How do you create offers your audience can’t resist? Share your tips for creating effective CTAs in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of designyourway.net

10 Reasons Why Google Hates Your Blog

March 19th, 2012 ::

Why Google hates your blog

It may sound harsh, but it is possible that Google hates your blog. I know, I know – it’s hard to hear. But you can do something about it by eliminating the problem areas keeping your blog and Google from being friends. Here, in no particular order, are ten reasons why Google has a beef with your blog.

1.  You aren’t using your readers’ keywords.

So you’ve taken the time to come up with keywords for your blog and are sprinkling them into your posts so they read seamlessly. That is a great start, but what if your readers aren’t using the same keywords as you?

Good SEO requires an understanding of what people search for when they look for content such as yours. To hone in on the best keywords, put yourself in your readers’ shoes and ask, “If someone were searching for content like mine, which search terms would they type into Google? Those are your new keywords. Using the same words and phrases your readers use will help them find you in a Google search and increase your blog’s traffic.

2.  Your blog headlines don’t include your main keyword.

Precise, strategic marketing requires following SEO guidelines that deliver results. Good SEO practice involves placing keywords in your blog posts’ headlines (h1 text) and subheadings (h2 text) because these areas are weighted more than regular text. Be sure not to overlook these prime areas when placing keywords – doing so means missed SEO opportunities.

3.  You don’t link to older blog posts.

To help your readers discover other great content you’ve produced, you should always create links between your blog posts. If your blog is focused on a subject area, such as social media marketing, you will likely refer to information from your previous posts on a regular basis. Use this opportunity to reference this information with a link back to your older post, which will keep readers on your blog site longer. Google loves links, so try to include keywords in the copy that links back to older posts, to get the full SEO benefit.

4.  You aren’t linking to other bloggers.

Even though this tip may seem contradictory to the last one, you can get some SEO benefit from sending your readers to other blogs. Google likes to see bloggers sharing high-quality content with their audiences, even when that content was produced by another writer. Your readers will appreciate it too because occasionally sending them to other, helpful blog posts will add value to their own reading experience. To do this, consider writing a “best of” list post or simply incorporating a blogroll into your sidebar.

5.  You aren’t using enough bullet lists in your posts.

If you want Google to love your blog, use bullet lists. While they don’t have quite the effect on SEO as headlines, subheadings and links, bullet lists are more important to Google than regular text. Another plus for using bullet lists is that they help readers absorb your content more effectively. Use these lists to break up long passages of text, and don’t forget to use keywords. Placing them in first couple of words in each bullet works best.

6.  You aren’t using social media to promote your blog.

In its quest to provide valuable and relevant search results, Google is using social recommendations to decide whether your content is worthy. When people mention and link to your blog on social media, Google takes notice. Build a community around your blog using social media, and be active to get the comments going.

7.  You don’t use share buttons on your blog. 

To facilitate the previous tip, include share buttons on each and every post you write. Make it easy for readers to share your content with their own social networks by encouraging tweets and likes. Not only does Google like to see social recommendations on your own social media platforms, but it also likes to see your content being shared by everyone else. Besides increased Google love, you’ll also gain a larger audience for your blog.

8.  You confuse Google with too many topics.

I think it’s great to have a lot of different passions, but Google does not agree – at least from an SEO point of view. The best blogs are tightly focused on one main subject area. If your blog is too scattered, Google will not understand how to categorize it. And, if Google can’t decipher it, chances are it won’t get found. Your readers will appreciate your focus, too, because they know your blog will consistently provide valuable information on the topic they care most about.

9.  You don’t encourage comments.

Inviting your blog readers to leave comments creates a community around your blog posts. This sense of community is valuable for branding and enriching your blog, and it has SEO benefits, too. Comments add on to the content you’ve already created and give your blog a freshness that Google loves. An active commenting section also shows Google that your posts are still relevant to readers, long after they’ve been published. So get the conversation going with a question or simply an invitation to share after each post.

10.  Your blog is riddled with broken links.

Google hates broken links because they give the impression that you aren’t maintaining your blog. Broken links also create hiccups as Google is crawling your blog posts, because the crawlers keep running into dead ends. Simply put, broken links are bad for SEO, so check for them regularly to keep Google from getting frustrated.


After reading this list of ten reasons Google may hate your blog, you may be thinking that Google is very particular and perhaps bit persnickety. Just remember that good SEO practice is usually good practice for your readers, too. Making the changes above will help you and your blog be loved by readers and Google alike.

What other tips can you offer to keep the Google love flowing?

Image courtesy of creative design agency Arrae

10 Super Useful iPhone Apps You Need, Part 2

October 5th, 2011 ::
This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series 10 Super Useful iPhone Apps

iPhoneSocial Media Examiner published a great blog post recently on social media marketing apps that I just pulled out and went through, pulling the most useful ones for small business owners out. I already wrote up the first 10 I liked the best;  here are the second 10.

NetNewswire: This RSS reader for iPhone syncs with Google Reader so you can access all the blogs you love to read while out and about.

Peak Meetings: Capture and organize your thinking to make meetings more efficient when ideas hit you rather than waiting until you are in front of a computer or have a piece of paper handy.

PhotoRocket: You can share multiple photos with friends by creating PhotoRocket Galleries, which are customizable spaces that let post photos via Facebook, Twitter or your email contact list.

PitchEngine: Want to get press?  This is social platform will help you get the word out about your company, products and services.

QuickVoice Recorder: The name of this app says it all.  It is a full-featured iPhone/iPad voice recorder, so you can record your ideas, voice memos, voice email, dictation, lists, meetings, classes or entire lectures.

SocialMedia: #socialmedia.com hosts a weekly Twitter event every Tuesday focused on – any guesses? – social media.

Spout: This app lets you stream news, messages, tweets and comments from your Facebook, Twitter or Google Reader (RSS) feeds.

Vignature: Access PDF docs, like expense reports, consent forms, sales contracts and approvals, from email or Dropbox, open them in this app, sign them and return them to sender.

Wired PR Works: This PR and social media marketing app lets you access tips, ideas and strategies to grow your business.

Xmarks: You can view bookmarks and open tabs from Firefox, IE, Chrome, or Safari right on your iPhone or iPod Touch from this app, making Web browsing super easy while on the go.

Image by Flickr user Yutaka Tsutano (Creative Commons)

10 Super Useful iPhone Apps You Need, Part 1

October 3rd, 2011 ::
This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series 10 Super Useful iPhone Apps

iPhone appsSocial Media Examiner published a great blog post recently on social media marketing apps that I tucked away for future use.  While I don’t really think they are social media marketing apps, they are definitely good ones to know about.  So, since there are some super useful apps on the list, here are the first 10 I liked the best. Look out for Part 2 soon.

Analytics App: This is a Google Analytics app that lets you view 55 reports via your iPhone.  Caveat: There have not been enough reviews to rate the app; however, it’s only $6.99, so it’s worth a try.

Chomp helps you finds apps you want, so you can search based on what apps actually do.  Super useful, as an app’s name usually tells you very little about it.  Just search by keywords to start finding apps by category.

DocsToGo: Want to work on the go?  DocsToGo lets you view, edit and create Word and Excel files and view PowerPoints and PDFs.

Dragon Dictation:  This is a really, REALLY useful app, as it lets you speak your text, email messages, and Facebook and Twitter updates right into your phone.

Dropbox: If you don’t know about them yet, time to check them out.  This free service lets you bring all your photos, docs and videos anywhere.

Flipboard: This app is basically a magazine for the stuff you care about. It lets you flip through the news, photos, videos and updates your friends are sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Flickr and Instagram.

Homebase: If you are time-crunched, you can blast your announcements to all the social media platforms you use, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare.

Instapaper: If you travel a lot by plane and don’t want to pony up for an Internet connection, use Instapaper to save Web pages for later offline reading.

LastPass Tab Browser: How many passwords do you have?  A zillion, right?  Store your passwords here and access them on any device anywhere.

LiveProfile: This is another really cool app that will make your life a lot easier. It is a free, cross-platform messenger for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphones that lets you send messages, photos, videos, post status updates and customize your profile.

Image by Flickr user Yutaka Tsutano (Creative Commons)