Posts Tagged ‘blogging’
The brilliant Ann Smarty and her team at MyBlogU are launching a new blogging contest which could win your new blog a big prize—if you’re up for the challenge.
In The MyBlogU Blog Launchpad: Content Zero to Blogging Hero Challenge, participants will be required to start a brand new site (with a new domain; no expired domains or old blogs) and build up the content and traffic for six months (with the help and support of the MyBlogU community!)
After six months, entrants will compare results (traffic, subscribers, profit) and the MyBlogU team will pick the winner; then commit to work together to double the winning site’s results!
The contest offers an opportunity for blogging pros to build a new web presence and a great way for newbie bloggers to find ways to succeed!
Participants will share their results regularly, learning strategies and practices from each other as the contest progresses.
Think you’re ready to take this on? Check out all the details of the challenge here.
We’ve all seen example of megaposts: multiple-thousand-word posts promising an exhaustive take on a topic. They carry titles like “The Comprehensive Guide to…” blah blah or “101 Ways to…” yada yada.
People may click on them. And they definitely share them. But do they read them? Or do busy professionals really prefer “content snacking” to a big sit-down meal of information?
Let’s say you’re a Facebook marketing expert, for example. Is it better to write one big post along the lines of “105 Ways to Master Facebook Marketing” or to break up that content into a series of smaller posts: 20 Tips for Facebook Advertising, 17 Ways to Grow Your Facebook Audience, etc.?
To test that, here’s a comparison of three marketing statistics megaposts published on Webbiquity within the past 18 months or so, and a series of similar but shorter, more tightly categorized posts.
Versus this themed series of posts:
Which approach works better? The answer is a crystal clear…it depends.
If your goal is short-term shares and traffic, there’s no question megaposts drive more activity than individual, shorter themed posts—but the themed series generates more shares and traffic as a group.
On average, the megaposts received three times as many tweets and five times as much 30-day traffic as the individual themed posts. But the themed series in total got nearly triple the number of retweets and roughly twice as many 30-day visits as the average megapost.
Another advantage of producing a series is that, for a relatively small amount of extra effort, you’ve covered several days (or weeks, depending on your publishing frequency) rather than just a single post.
However, megaposts have their advantages as well. They help establish you as an expert on the topic; they tend to draw traffic over a longer period of time; and they may rank more highly in search (as shown in the chart above).
So which format should you use: megaposts or themed series? As Deion Sanders famously said: “both.”
Sales leads generated through inbound marketing–the combination of content marketing, blogging, social media, website chat and SEM–cost 61% less than those produced through traditional demand generation techniques (e.g., online or print advertising, trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail) according to research from HubSpot.
But as compelling as those cost savings are, the arguably larger financial impact is that social and content strategies change much of what marketing does from an expense (an expenditure tied to immediate consumption) to an investment (an allocation with a long-term payback). Buying a bag of apples at the grocery store is an expense; planting an apple tree is an investment.
While some aspects of inbound marketing (SEM, email marketing, webinars) clearly remain in the expense column, three of its key components clearly should be classified as investments, as long-term appreciating assets.
Blogging: for any new business blog, traffic typically starts out modest but grows over time. One reason is that reader subscriptions (when via email or RSS feed) tend to grow over time as the blog establishes its voice and readership. But the larger factor is SEO: the longer a blog is actively contributed to, the more content there will be for search engines to index, the more links it will attract, and hence the more search-driven traffic it will enjoy.
The major search engines also seem to give blogs more respect over time. Newly-launched blogs typically generate a very small share of total traffic from organic search, but the proportion builds over time. It’s not unusual to see clear upward inflection points in search traffic after the first six and 12 months a blog is active.
Social Networking: whether on an individual or corporate account basis, a social network grows over time as credibility is established. It’s difficult to build a large social following on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ or any other such site right out of the gate. But if the user is consistent, helpful, and engaging, it’s virtually inevitable that the following will grow over time. Like a blog, each social media account is an appreciating asset.
Content Marketing: while some content is designed for short-term needs, much of it has long-term value. Blog posts, videos posted to YouTube or Vimeo, presentations on SlideShare–all can continue to attract new viewers years after they are first created. Well-written white papers can also serve as effective long-term lead-generation assets.
Inbound marketing therefore not only makes marketing more efficient, but also more strategically valuable to the organization. It’s no longer just about spending money to generate leads this month or this quarter, but about developing content and connections that increase in value and continue to pay off over the long term.
According to a recent presentation from HubSpot, “selling is 10X easier once you have established trust.” Other than having something of value to offer, trust is the most essential element for business success. It removes psychological barriers and objections to buying, and makes people want to do business with you because they are comfortable.
I was talking to a client not long ago about some travel she has coming up that will take her away from the office for several weeks. Half-jokingly, I told her not to worry, I can build her business without her. She laughed, then said, “You know what’s amazing? Even though we’ve only been working together for a few months, I completely trust you to do it.”
That is amazing, and it is treasured. Particularly for consultants like me who work mostly out of sight of our clients, but really for any business, trust is absolutely essential to maintaining long-term client relationships and generating referral business.
Trust is precious yet delicate, like a work of fine art, such as a Ming vase:
- • It’s extremely valuable.
- • It’s difficult to obtain.
- • It’s fragile and easily broken.
- • Once broken, it’s extraordinarily difficult to repair.
But trust is unlike that vase in one critical aspect. Once you’ve obtained a Ming vase (or any other physical thing of value), assuming you take reasonable steps to safeguard it, it’s yours. Trust, on the other hand, can never be taken for granted and must be constantly and vigilantly re-earned. It cannot be, like civilization in the words of Kipling, something “laboriously achieved” but only “precariously defended.”
Most high-value purchases now begin online. Your first opportunity to build trust comes from what you say online and what others say about you. That’s why blogging is important (as a way to educate, inform and even entertain, without blatant selling) as is social media (for answering questions and building online relationships that lead to positive third-party coverage and comments).
But the process of building trust is even more fundamental than that. Blogs and social networks are just tools. They can be used productively, or clumsily. What matters most is your approach to business.
Before the Sale
- • Explain (without hype or a sales pitch) what you do, so people understand if you are offering what they are looking for.
- • Demonstrate knowledge (through blogging, guest posts, comments, interaction on social networks, presentations, etc.).
- • Differentiate yourself, with disparaging your competition. Walmart (“Always the Low Price”) and Lexus (“The Pursuit of Perfection”) are effective examples in the consumer world. The agency I work with, KC Associates, is a full service marketing and PR agency (of which there are zillions) but focused exclusively on b2b technology clients; the focus sets the agency apart.
- • Be transparent. Buyers can smell BS from a great distance. Better to give an answer that is less than ideal but honest than one that is just what you think the prospect wants to hear but is an exaggeration (or worse).
After the Sale
- • Do what you say you are going to do.
- • Be as responsive as possible.
- • Set realistic expectations (then work hard to exceed them).
- • Be forthright. Your customers don’t expect you to be perfect, but they do you expect you to be straight with them. If something doesn’t work as well as planned, tell your customer, as precisely as possible, why. Then make recommendations for what to do differently next time.
Particularly with the explosion of social media and online content, buyers are more informed than ever before. The shady, fly-by-night operators will be exposed more quickly—while vendors who deliver value and engender trust will thrive.
Until recently, most social media case studies have focused on consumer brands. It’s not that B2B companies aren’t finding success in social media marketing, but more (in my experience at least) that they are less willing to publicly reveal their strategies for competitive reasons. Recently, that’s begun to change a bit as blogs like TopRank and Marketo have highlighted b2b social media success stories.
Digging into the results publicized in these case studies, what does B2B success look like? How are B2B companies evaluating the results of social media marketing efforts? Based on analysis of a number of published B2B social media case studies (in addition to my own client experience), here are some of the criteria used to judge success.
Common objectives for B2B social media marketing efforts include:
- • Increased brand awareness (e.g., measured by increases in direct web traffic and branded search visits)
- • Increased overall website traffic (particularly from branded search or visits referred directly from social media and social networking sites)
- • Enhanced brand image and credibility as an industry thought leader or category expert
- • Expanded social media following (e.g., number of blog subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans)
- • Increased engagement (number, depth and quality of interactions with customers and prospects)
- • Leads and new business
Those last two are of the course the ultimate purpose of any marketing activity, though they can be challenging to measure in social media for a couple of reasons. First, social media activities more often influence a sale (by helping with awareness and branding objectives, for example) than lead directly to one in the B2B world. Second, it’s crucial to consider that a B2B firm’s social network isn’t made up only of customers and prospects, but includes industry journalists, partners and often analysts as well. While these other connections will never buy from you directly, they can certainly influence the marketing and direct business your way.
- • Blogging (a corporate blog is the center of most successful B2B social media programs)
- • LinkedIn (much more important in the B2B world than in B2C, particularly in light of recent marketing enhancements to the platform)
- • Twitter (used by more than 40% of B2B marketers, and that figure continues to grow)
- • Video / YouTube
- • Facebook (more popular among B2C marketers than in B2B firms, although a few success stories have popped up)
- • CRM integration (this will a key to success for B2B social media efforts, though few firms have reached this level of sophistication to date)
Common success metrics reported from B2B social media efforts include increases in:
- • Website traffic
- • Blog visits and subscribers
- • Twitter followers
- • Organic search traffic
- • Views of company videos
- • White paper downloads
- • Landing page conversion rates
- • External blog posts written about the company
- • Leads
- • New customers
Again, the last two items are the most important but often the most elusive. While social media typically doesn’t produce a high volume of leads, website visitors referred from social networks frequently convert at a higher rate than those from other traffic sources, and the leads are frequently highly qualified. As understanding of what to realistically expect from B2B social media marketing programs—and how to measure those results—increases, B2B social media use will continue to expand. Published success stories may well remain rare, at least for now, however, as companies remain reluctant to tip off competitors about what’s working.