Friday

Social Media Marketing - 5 Must-Know Tips to Getting Started

Most business owners have some kind of social media marketing in place. This is true for big business, small business, and home businesses.

But, if you haven’t really gotten your foot in the door, below are five steps to get an audience going.

1. Open an account in social networks you think will work well with your business.

There are lots of networks to choose from. A couple of the biggies are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • LindedIn
  • YouTube
  • StumbleUpon

Then there are also the smaller niche social groups you might consider. For example, if you’re an author, you might create an account in JacketFlap and Author’s Den, as well as Goodreads and creating an Amazon Author Profile.

2. Once you open the accounts, create a focused profile.

I work Twitter primarily and I see the craziest profile descriptions. Ones that give me no clear idea what the users’ intent or focus are. So, when you’re creating your profile imagine landing on it for the first time. What does that profile immediately say about you and your brand, your platform, your business?

If you’re in real estate, that’s what your profile should state. You should also hashtag your keyword/s, such as #realestate (if applicable on the network).

The same will hold true no matter what your niche or industry is.

People are in a rush. They need to instantly get the gist of what you’re about and what you’re offering.

Below is an example of my Twitter profile:


3. You absolutely, positively need a Profile image.

As surprising as it may seem, I still see social network profiles with generic avatars. This is crazy. If you don’t take the time to make your profile look somewhat professional, which must include a profile header, guess what, visitors will take note. Guaranteed you won’t be taken seriously.

I get that some people just don’t like to be seen, but there are other options:

Hire a professional to take a ‘flattering’ picture of you – one that looks professional
Get a caricature created and use that
Use your business logo

I mentioned above to make it look professional. In my opinion that means to avoid putting an image of your dog, cat, or other pet. It also means to avoid using a shot of you on the beach (unless your platform is ‘having fun in the sun’).

I see marketers who use images of cars, sky diving, swimming, and other non-professional images. Yes, you want to appear personable and interesting, but if you’re online trying to sell what you’re offering, you want to be taken seriously.

It also goes back to the time element that you have to grab that visitor and let him know what you’re about. The profile must be focused – mean and lean.

4. The social network header area is another must do.

Think about this one. You land on a profile that has a focused header and you land on one that has the generic default header, which would appear more professional. Which account would you feel would provide more valuable postings or offer more professional services?

Below is an image of my Twitter header:



And, even if you’re on a tight budget, you can get a great header for $5 over at Fiverr.com. The header above is from Fiverr. So, there’s no excuse not to get a focused header for your social network profiles.

Between my profile description, the hashtags, and the header, my account is highly focused.

5. The final step to getting started is to post quality content.

You need to have information on your account. I get requests for connections in various social networks. One of the first things I check is if that user has any posts. If they do, I look to see if those posts are focused on what they state as their brand/niche.

Why would someone follow you if you have nothing posted.

This seems to happen pretty often with Google+ users. I get put in users’ circles and go to reciprocate, but they have nothing posted. Since they have nothing posted to indicate what they’re about, I don’t follow back.

So, before you expect to get followers and build your audience, post quality content to your networks on a regular basis.

That’s about it for the basics of getting started. Next week I’ll post about building your audience.

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Images in Tweets - The Results are In

Images really do work. Studies prove that they boost social engagement.

I’ve been reluctant in this area.

There’s Facebook and Pinterest, and even Google+ that have lots of images. I hoped Twitter would remain image free. That wish was short-lived as more and more images appeared in Twitter posts.

But, it’s more than a trend.

Tweets with images get more retweets, the golden marketing results you want on Twitter, aside from leads and conversion, of course.

In a study conducted by Dan Zarrella (of HubSpot), results showed that “tweets using Pic.Twitter.com were 94% more likely to be retweeted.” (1)

You can easily upload images directly to a post by clicking on the little camera icon that says “Add Photo.”


The only problem with direct (manual) uploading is it means you have to actually post each tweet to Twitter. This can be time consuming. And, if you want to maintain social visibility, it means you’ll need to manually upload tweets periodically throughout the day . . . and night.

The way around this is to schedule your image tweets through a ‘paid’ automatic social media management service.

SocialOomph.com has a Twitter Unlimited account for $15.10 per month or $181 annually. This plan allows you to upload and schedule photos.

Hootsuite.com has a plan at $9.99 per month or $119.88 annually. I’m pretty sure it includes uploading and scheduling images. It did say it has Advanced Message Scheduling, but didn’t give many details on what’s included in it.

But, I’ve gotten off track.

The point is, images work, whether in your blog post, on your website, or in your tweets. The results are in – images boost engagement and have been shown to increase retweets.

You don’t want to pay for another marketing tool.

If you find that paying for the image automated service is too much, then choose the tweets you want to get more retweets or engagement on and manually upload them, including an image, to Twitter.

Test it out to see if those tweets with images get more engagement. If you think it’s worth the investment, go for it.

It’s a matter of prioritizing your marketing budget. Analyze your marketing expenses and see which are providing a return-on-investment. If something’s not producing results, get rid of it and try something else.

Automating your tweets with images can be a valuable investment.

I use SocialOomph to schedule my Tweets; it’s currently the free plan. I think it’s time I bite-the-bullet and sign up for one of the paid services that include image uploads. I bought into their Tweets Unlimited Plan, which allows me to schedule tweets with images. It's $15.10 per month. Since it's only about a week since I've implemented images in some of my tweets, and I changed the frequency of posting tweets (reduced posting to two hours apart), I'll have to see how it works out. I'll be sure to let you know when I have some concrete results.

I’m not sure if I'll stay with SocialOomph or switch to Hootsuite. The pricing may be the determining factor.


To learn more about using images in your tweets, Hootsuite has a great article:
Lessons Learned from Best-Performing Tweets

For instructions on posting photos on Twitter, go to:
https://support.twitter.com/articles/20156423-posting-photos-on-twitter#

Reference:
(1) http://danzarrella.com/use-images-on-twitter-to-get-more-retweets.html

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Wednesday

Adobe Flash Player - You Need the Newest Version

Just a heads up: According to Norton.com community, hackers have created a vulnerability in the Adobe Flash Player. Symantec has confirmed its existence.

This vulnerability is considered critical in that attackers could take control of an affected computer remotely.

Because of this, it's essential that you have the latest version of the Flash Player. Unless users install the patch or upload the latest version, you may be at risk.

For more information, visit:
https://community.norton.com/en/blogs/norton-protection-blog/hackingteam-data-dump-leads-adobe-zero-day-discovery

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Monday

Boosting Your Subscriber List – Spice Up the Giveaway

Marketing, including email marketing, is all about research and testing . . . and the offer.

Through research and experience, I’ve realized, and I’m sure lots of other marketers have also, that it’s getting more difficult to increase your mailing list. Thousands of marketers, if not more, are vying for the same prospect you are. So, you need an edge. You need something that will make that prospect think what you’re offering is worthy enough of their email address.

There are at least three ways of creating this ‘spectacular’ offer.

1. Offer a variety of tools.

This type of freebie can be ebooks, videos, podcasts, and so on. The gist of it is to cover a wide variety of topics within your niche.

Using my business as an example, I offer freebies on social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, website optimization, and even book marketing. If a subscriber signs up for an optin focusing on one particular freebie, they get access to them all.

This strategy has increased my mailing list.

2. Create a contest focused on a must-have valuable tool

For this freebie you need to find a core element within your niche that your potential subscriber must have. Something she wants.

In an article at Kissmetrics, it gives three case studies of marketers, one in particular increased his mailing list by 3,418% in just 11 days.

How’d he do it?

Through a contest for a free license to a ‘niche focused’ tool that had a value of around $70. He promoted it through Twitter. And, what made it especially powerful is it was highly focused to his desired subscriber.

Keep in mind that when you get this kind of interest, it creates large ripples into other areas of your marketing: website traffic and ranking, authority, and ultimately sales.

While not everyone has the ability to offer free licenses to marketing tools, you can offer something else of monetary value. Something that’s lazer-focused in your niche and something you know your target audience will absolutely want.

It might be a coupon to one of your products. It might be a gift certificate/card to something you know your audience would be highly interested in.

Tip: Just be sure it’s something that has monetary value and your audience will really want it.

Tip2: To make it more alluring and even the playing field, you might offer two or three prizes of decreasing value.

3. Make it something you know your audience is interested in.

An example of this is a post I published on one of my blogs about creating images. Based on the comments and activity, I know it’s a hot topic with my audience. My intent is to create a step-by-step video showing how to create your own images. (Just have to find the time first.)

This will do three things:

1. It’ll be a bonus to my existing subscribers as appreciation for their loyalty
2. I’ll have a CTA to one of my products and/or an affiliate product.
3. I’ll offer it as another freebie to new targeted subscribers, thereby increasing my mailing list.

Power-tip: Keep in mind that you can buy retweets for whichever freebie option you go with. This will help increase your giveaway or contest’s visibility.

To read the Kissmetrics article, go to:
How to Use a Giveaway to Accelerate the Growth of Your Email List

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~~~~~
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Friday

What is a Retweet Worth? Should You Buy Them?

Have you seen those tweets soliciting Twitter followers and retweets?

I sure have.

Buying Twitter followers is a No-No. It’s like buying a list of subscribers for your email list. It’s just unethical.

But, what about buying retweets?

I hadn’t even thought about this until I read an article at Devumi. (1) It listed the Pros and Cons of taking advantage of this strategy. And, they sell the service.

Now, I consider Devumi a trusted site and so does Alexa.com (an analytical service) – Devumi has great rankings. Taking this into consideration, I’m now thinking about this marketing opportunity.

Going back to the title of this article, what is a retweet worth?

Plenty.

Retweets boost visibility. This translates into website traffic, authority, social proof, higher rankings, and more conversions.

Pretty valuable, right?

It seems difficult to get people to retweet a tweet. I get lots of ‘favorites,’ but not so with retweets. I’m still not sure why this is so, but it does make me think: Is it ethical to buy retweets?

Before I talk about that, what’s the real value in getting more retweets?

1. It’s the ‘bandwagon effect’ or ‘herd mentality.’

Simply put, the bandwagon effect is “the tendency to think or act in ways because other people do.” (2) This tendency relates to just about everything, including products, slang, music, television, websites, and yes, the retweet.

It’s so effective that I find I do it myself. If I see a tweet that has lots of retweets, I automatically assume it’s a valuable tweet worth sharing.

2. Along with the visibility, is the social proof which is need to create the bandwagon effect.

3. Activity and engagement, both of which the social engines and search engines want to see. And, what will help increase your rankings.

This is the value in buying a retweet.

Remember, every Twitter user who shares your tweet brings that tweet to the users following them. This is powerful.

But, is buying retweets ethical?

To answer this question, I have a few other questions:

•    Have you ever bought PLRs (Private Label Rights). This is content you buy and use as your own.
•    Have you ever used paid advertising on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or other social network?
•    Have you ever hired an editor, rewriter, or ghostwriter?
•    Have you ever used Google Adwords?
•    Have you ever paid for any other type of marketing that brought your business to the forefront or helped in your marketing?

Most of us can answer yes to at least one of the above questions. So then, what’s unethical about buying retweets?

But, what’s the actual cost?

In writing this article, I did some research. Retweets are actually pretty reasonable and practical if you’re focusing on one or only a couple of tweets. I’ve seen them for $1.89 for 100 retweets of one particular tweet and $39.99 for 10,000 retweets.

The only thing you need to be careful of is which service you use. As with all things, there are the ‘good and the bad.’ You want to find a service that’s reputable. And, you need to ensure that the retweets will be targeted.

Whatever niche/industry you’re in, you’ll want the retweets targeted to users who will be interested in those tweets.

On the flip side of that coin: If the retweets are generic and go to whoever, the numbers will still be there for your followers to see, motivating them to get on the retweet ‘bandwagon.’

So, while you do want targeted retweets, it’s not absolutely necessary for this strategy.

Taking the plunge.

I think this is a worthwhile experiment to say the least. I’ll be trying it out and let you know the results.

References:
(1) http://blog.devumi.com/2015/05/buy-retweets-pros-cons/
(2) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201107/cognitive-biases-vs-common-sense

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Monday

Headlines in an Ever Changing Marketing Landscape

If you use social media networks to publish your content, you should realize that one title or headline won’t have the same click-power as others. And, even if it’s effective now, it doesn’t mean it’ll be click worthy a month or so down the road.

If you’ve read about writing effective titles, you know they need to almost instantly grab the reader. Along with that, it must have enough motivating-power to get the reader to click on the link, leading him to your website.

After that, it’s up to the subheading or first paragraph to gain the reader’s attention and entice him to read on.

But, will a title you wrote last year have the same power today?

It’s common knowledge that marketing strategies are ever-changing. While there are a few fundamental principles that are steadfast, the majority of online strategies are not.

Take duplicate content. A while ago, it was perfectly okay to use the content of others on your site, as long as you provided attribution and linked to the original source.

Today, this isn’t an acceptable practice. Google wants original content on your site. You can use someone else’s content (permission-based, of course), but you must include your own valuable take on it or add some other relevant content of your own. Otherwise, your rankings could suffer.

The same holds true of keywords. Yesterday they were golden, today they take a backseat to the content itself. In fact, Google may penalize your site if it thinks you’re keyword stuffing your content.

This brings me to titles. While there are fundamental principles that should be adhered to, like they should be complete sentences and be relevant to the content, titles are not evergreen.

Titles have trends, just like most marketing strategies.

In an article at The Social Ms, it noted that a while ago titles ending with “and you’ll never guess what happens next,” were popular. (1) They did their job.

Now though, not so much. So, those titles need to be revised to fit the latest trends and motivating factors.

Along with this, a title is not necessarily ‘one size fits all.’

In posting to my social networks, especially Twitter, I change my headlines all the time. While doing this, it’s important to make sure the title reflects the content in the post.

I’ve noticed that simply revising the title can generate more engagement. In the 10 title examples below, the second of each generated more engagement:

Is the Twitter Background Real Estate Important?
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Make the Most of Business Opportunities Without Getting Overwhelmed
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Self-Talking Yourself Into Being a Better Writer, Better Marketer
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As for the title of this post, here are four variations:

  • Headlines in an Ever Changing Marketing Landscape
  • Changing a Title can Boost Clicks
  • For Optimum Results Headlines Must be Adaptable
  • A Rose is a Rose by any other Name, But a Title . . .

And, there are lots of other revisions that can be made to each of the titles above.

It’s a good idea to create at least 10 variations of your title – choose the one that works best for the blog post then switch them up for posting to your social networks. This offers two major benefits:

1. It keeps the content looking fresh.
2. Different people respond to different things, including different titles for the same content. If one title doesn’t grab Joe, one of the other ones will.

TIP: I mentioned it twice already, but it’s worth stating again: Make sure your title reflects the content. If it doesn’t, Google won’t like it, your readers won’t like it, and it’ll decrease your page length views while increasing your bounce rate.

Reference:
(1) http://blog.thesocialms.com/96701971371/

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Friday

Working Social Media - Keep it Going Strong with Consistency

There’s a commercial on TV that shows someone doing one sit up; someone eating one blueberry; and someone eating one piece of broccoli

The gist of the ad is that you can’t simply do just one of something to expect good health. Interestingly, I don’t remember what brand it was or what the marketer was trying to sell. But, that’s beside the point.

What I took away is it takes ‘more than one.’ It takes consistency to achieve your goals, whether they be health or business.

The same holds true of social media.

Consistency is an important factor in social media for three reason:

1. Consistency shows effort. It shows that this user is committed to his business and that particular social network.

As an example, I get requests to ‘Follow’ people and businesses every day. Since I’m kind of picky as to what kind of content I have in my feed, I actually go to the user’s profile to check him out before following back.

Using Twitter as an example, I check to see:

  • Who he is
  • What he’s promoting / what he’s doing on Social Media
  • How many Tweets he published
  • The frequency of those Tweets

This information is important to me. The last two elements show me how consistent this user is.

If he publishes a Tweet once a month, I pass.
If he has 10 Tweets and his account was opened 3 years ago, I pass.

Why do I do this?

Because I use social media for business. I have a focused platform and I want to ensure that the tweets in my feed will add to the conversation – will be valuable to me and my followers.

2. Consistency helps generate visibility. Your posts only reach a minute fraction of your followers. The more often you publish on social networks, the more likely your content will be visible.

Using Twitter again as an example, I post around the clock.

Not everyone is on social media at the same time. Not everyone is even in the same time zone. You need to consistently publish content so someone in Australia will get a chance to see it, so someone in Africa will get a chance to see it, so someone in China will get a chance to see it, so someone in New York will get to see it. You get the idea.

A user who missed my 8AM post, may see the one I post at 11PM.

3. Consistency helps build authority. But, it only does so if your posts are focused on your topic. Your focus must be consistent.

Going back to following others on Twitter, if I see a profile that says it’s about 5 – 10 very different things, I don’t follow back.

I’ve seen profiles that say they’re a marketer, a car buff, loves baking, loves traveling, loves fishing, and so on.

Okay, that’s great, but what’s the focus of the account.

I don’t want Tweets in my feed about the best car on earth or tips on fishing. And, those who follow me certainly aren’t expecting those topics in my feed.

So, there you have it, three essential reasons you need to be consistent in your social media marketing.

For more on being consistency and social media, check out:
How to Be More Consistent on Social Media

*Image Copyright 2015, Karen Cioffi

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Wednesday

Do You Really Need That Word? (5 Tips to Effective Writing)

Today’s writers are well aware of this concept of writing tight. This is applicable whether your write nonfiction or fiction. It’s all about writing lean and mean – make every word count. But, in copywriting this concept is even more important.

Copywriting is about using words strategically to motivate the reader to take the action you want.

In an article at AWAI (American Writers and Artists, Inc.), it gives some good points on how to get your content ready for the ‘ax’ phase.

5 Tips to lean, mean content

1. Don’t worry about tightening your copy until you’re sure the copy is clear and conveys your intent. This may take one or two initial edits.

The first couple of editing rounds should be focused on the message itself. It needs to convey exactly what you want and it needs to be easy to read.

2. Watch for ‘unbelievable’ claims. Suppose you write, “Following the steps in this program guarantees a minimum of $20,000 in income every month, year after year.” Chances are the reader will become suspicious. There goes your sale or YES to some other desired action you’re striving for.

If the content doesn’t sound believable, you’ll lose the prospect.

3. Check for engagement. The AWAI article mentioned not to make the copy sound too academic. This might include industry terminology, too many statistics, and so on. You don’t want the reader to get stuck on a word or boggled down with too many statistics. Again, the point is for easy reading that’s motivating.

4. Check for awkward content. You want your copy to read smooth, be easy to understand, and be engaging. It must lead the reader down the YES path. If you have an obstacle in the road, guess what, it’ll make the reader pause. This is never a good thing.

5. Once you cover the four elements above, then it’s on to cutting unnecessary words, sentences, and even paragraphs, if need be. Just keep in mind that when ‘cutting’ away, the copy needs to remain smooth, easy to read, and motivating.

To read the AWAI article, go to:
Making Every Word Count for More Convincing Copy

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~~~~~
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Monday

Links in Blog Posts are Good, Right? Well . . .

I read an interesting article at Larry Maguire’s blog. It’s about using links in your blog posts.

We all know that external links and deep links are important for SEO, but should there be a limit?

I’ve seen posts that have links (external and deep) in almost every other sentence.

But, is this type of 'link stuffing' helpful? And, what on earth is the purpose?

There are at least three reasons you shouldn’t overdo the ‘in content’ links:

1. Google keeps track of everything.

And, all things must be equal.

Google is aware of how many inbound and outbound links are on your website. The search engine giant doesn’t’ want the scale to tip in one direction too much.

Unless you’re inbound links are somewhat equal to your outbound links, watch the number of external links you use.

Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t reference your sources – that’s a must. It means don’t link to too much content on other sites within your article.

Yes, it’s a good thing to want to give the reader a broader reading experience, but that can be done with reference links at the bottom of your article.

2. It causes reader distraction.

If you’ve tried to read a post with lots and lots of links, it’s distracting. And, what’s one of the number one marketing musts? Reduce visitor anxiety.

You’ve brought the reader to your site to do what? To read your article and to motivate that reader to take action.

If the reader has too many options right within your content to click on a link to leave, do you really think she’ll be back?

I don’t think so.

And, along with this, I find it annoying. Give me your content or take on a topic without the distraction. Again, it’s annoying.

3. You diminish that readers Page View Length on your site.

One website metrics is Page View Length. This is the number of seconds, minutes, hours a visitor stays on your website within one visit.

The goal here: You want the visitor to stay on your website as long as possible. You want the visitor to read your entire article. You want the visitor to click on other blog posts or pages on your site.

You want them to put their feet up, have a cup of coffee, and stay a while.

Having too many external links your blog post will make the reader do one of two things:

A. She’ll get annoyed and leave your site.
B. He’ll click on one of the links early on in the read and leave your site.

Either way, you’ve lost an opportunity and you’ve lost Page View Length.

So, really, what’s the purpose ‘link stuffing’ your blog post?

Unless you’re selling links (and, that’s an absolute NO-NO), what can the purpose be?
It’s not really good for your PageRank. It’s not really good for the reader. And, you’re reducing your Page View Length.

Again, what’s the purpose?

Two fixes.

If you think you’re doing your reader a service by offering so many external links to information, try another strategy.

1. Why not create a resource page filled with links to great content.

2. Or, simply list your sources at the bottom of your post.

Either of these strategies will help you create an easy-to-read and easier to understand article that still provides the reader with a broader reading experience.

TIP: While I talked about ‘link stuffing’ with external links, it’s the same for deep linking to other articles on your own site. Instead of having related links in your content, have a “More Reading” section at the bottom of your post. Again, this helps keep your article neat and clean.

To check out Larry Maguire’s post, visit:
Is Adding Links to Blog Posts Turning Readers Away?

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It's interactive and in-depth. Check it out today. Just CLICK HERE for the details.

~~~~~
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The 3 Most Powerful Subscriber Optin Strategies (for Bloggers)

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Friday

Is the Twitter Background Real Estate Important?

I’ll admit I hadn’t thought about Twitter backgrounds. I did have a Twitter header created, but again hadn’t given the background a second thought. Then I read an article at Devumi Blog.

Devumi explains that having a customized background does a number of things, including giving you another place to put your logo.

Other benefits include:

1. Brand uniformity, including your color scheme
2. Your contact information and/ or website address
3. A featured event

This social media real estate can be used for just about anything you think will make your company more engaging, make your account more appealing, increase its  conversions.

In marketing, the rule-of-thumb is that you need to have a bare-bottom-minimum of 7 touch points before a customer will take action in your favor. Touch points are some kind of contact.

While it may be stretching it a bit, having a customized background with pertinent information could be considered a touch point.

The Devumi article gives step-by-step instructions on how to change your Twitter background image. To check it out, go to: Create Stunning Twitter Backgrounds

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MORE ON INBOUND MARKETING

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Social Media Marketing – Quantity or Quality
Boost Your Optin Rate Today – It’s All in the Lead Magnet (the offer)




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Wednesday

Tip of the Day - Knowledge is Power

No matter what you're into, what niche or industry you're in, knowledge is power.

As content writing and marketing is in the turbulent marketing waters,  I'm always reading, taking courses, and joining pros in their membership groups.

It's work, time consuming, and can be expensive.

But, what's the alternative?

As a business owner you MUST keep up with what's going on in your industry.

Granted some industries stay steadfast, but even those businesses must market themselves. This means keeping up with changed or new marketing strategies.

The 'knowledge is power' quote is attributed to Francis Bacon, in his Meditationes Sacrae (1597).

But, Thomas Jefferson is known to have used it at least twice:

Thomas Jefferson to George Ticknor, 25 November 1817
Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Cabell, 22 January 1820

Other interesting quotes on knowledge:

"Today knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement."
-Peter Drucker

"There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge . . . observation of  nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination."
-Denis Diderot

Sources:
(1) http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/knowledge-power-quotation
(2) http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_knowledge.html

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MORE ON INBOUND MARKETING

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Monday

6 Power-Tips to Easier Content Curation

I’ve written about content curation before, telling how useful a marketing tool it is.

Well, it still is.

Generating content on a regular basis is a must. In fact, in a study on blogging frequency, it noted that businesses that posted 16+ articles per month had 4 ½ times more leads than businesses that posted under 4 times per month.

For smaller companies with 1-10 workers, posting 11+ times per month had a substantial boost in leads also.

So, it’s a no-brainer. You must produce content and produce it as often as you can. This is how organic inbound marketing works.

While it has its benefits, content curation does take some work. Below are 6 tips on how to work it effectively.

1. The content you curate must be on topic with your site’s focus.

If you’re blogging about alternative health, then that’s the content you want to find and curate.

If you’re blogging about baseball, the same thing holds true.

It’s pretty simple; keep it on topic.

2. Have a system in place.

You want to be able to find and utilize content easily. This means you need to know where to find it and how to use it.

Create a system that includes easy-to-follow steps. This might include:

  • The days you’ll be curating.
  • A list of sites or sources to find content.
  • A template to ensure you have your own valuable input to add to the curated content. (This is a must. Google frowns upon duplicate content, unless you include relevant and valuable additional content. You might put your own spin on the topic or give the gist of what the curated piece is about.)

3. Finding content.

Places to find content include your social networks. Use #hashtags to get content in your industry/niche.

Another great option is your email inbox. If you’re like me, you have lots and lots of relevant businesses sending you articles you can curate every day. Take advantage of them.

You can also use sites BuzzSumo.com. This site allows you to use keywords to pull up top information in your niche. It’s a bit costly, currently at $79 per month. But, if you can afford it, it’s well worth it.

4. Automate your sharing.

If you don’t build it (write and publish your content), they won’t come.

But, even if you build it, if they don’t know it’s there, they won’t come.

You MUST share your content, whether curated or original. This means posting to your social networks when your piece is first published.

It also means sharing that content and all your other content on a regularly set schedule. This calls for social media automation through services like SocialOomph and Hootsuite

This ensures you are visible and providing helpful information to your social networks on a regular basis. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.

5. Monitor your results.

As with any marketing strategy, you must monitor what’s working and what’s not.

Check if you’re getting engagement: Retweets, Favorites, Likes, Connects, and so on.

Tweak your strategy or what you’re posting about based on your analysis. This will help you provide information your readers want . . . and want to share.

6. Keep it fresh.

You should keep your content fresh. Provide the most recent information, studies, statistics, and so on. Be the person or business people in your niche go to for updated information.
   
I do this with my email inbox. I subscribe to a number of heavy-hitters in my niche. If they’re writing about it, it’s ‘blogging’ worthy.

Summing it up:

Content curation is a great content marketing strategy that can help you provide your audience with fresh content. And, it gives your reader a broader reading experience with two viewpoints. Give it a try today.

Sources:
Blogging Frequency and Lead Generation through Inbound Traffic
9 Ways the Pros Use Content Curation

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MORE ON INBOUND MARKETING

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5 Reasons Why You Should Use Content Curation as Part of Your Blogging Strategy

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Friday

Start Your Small Business Today - 4 Excuse Busters

You want to start a home or small business. Or, maybe you want to take an existing business to the next level.

 But, but, but.

You’re just not sure you can. You think about it and think about it.



  • Do you have the drive?
  • Do you have the money?
  • Do you the skills and/or knowledge?
  • Do you have a business plan?

The questions can go on and on.

You know what this is called, don't you? PROCRASTINATION!

The interesting thing about businesses online is that a number of them can be created for a minimal financial investment. Sometimes no money is needed.

The crucial element, more than time, money, or anything else, is to take that first step.

Don’t have the drive? Create a plan and read it every day. Take action steps every day. Once you see your time and effort paying off, you’ll become more and more motivated.

Don’t have the money? Start low-scale or go for a business that doesn’t involve any money. A number of service businesses can be started for very little cost.

Have something in mind that will cost money?

There are government small business grants that you can look into:

You might also look into small business loans.

And, there are even big business contests you can enter, such as, Wells Fargo Works and Chase Mission Main Street Grants.

Don’t have the skills or knowledge? Think again.

It’s common knowledge that if you read just one book you know more on that topic than the majority of people. This makes you an expert on that particular top to a lot of people.

This is a start. Build on it.

Money Smarts says there are two ways to take it further:

1. Read one book per month on a particular topic for one year.
2. Study the topic each day for half an hour for a year.

Make it a ‘learn as you go’ strategy. Start now and learn as you build your business. You can do it.

Don’t have a business plan? Create one.

There are lots and lots of ‘how to’ business plans and examples out there. Below are two of them:

A Remarkably Simple Business Plan from Copyblogger.com

A Simple Business Plan from Entrepreneur.com

You can also find examples through the U.S. Small Business Administration:
https://www.sba.gov/tools/business-plan/1

Bottom line, you don't really have valid excuses. Just start your small business today!




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Wednesday

The ‘Miss You’ Emails

Lately, I’ve seen a few ‘Miss You’ emails from marketers. These are from marketers whose emails I haven’t opened in a while or emails that I’ve opened, but haven’t clicked on any links.

Hey, I’m busy. I scan my emails and save lots and lots of them to read later. I often though don’t get the chance to go back and read them, because a new batch of emails arrives in my inbox the next day.

Basically, the marketers are telling their inactive subscribers, “Hey, get off the fence.”

I don’t like these emails. I understand the philosophy behind them, but I don’t particularly agree with it.

They are telling the subscriber, if you don’t take some kind of action, they don’t want to be bothered with you.

Why are these marketers using this strategy?

Email Marketing Fundamentals

1. You build a subscriber list of hopefully targeted readers.
2. You use that list to develop a relationship with your subscribers.
3. You offer what you have to sell to your list.

It’s well known that it’s your subscribers who will purchase what you sell.

But, what about those subscribers who don’t read your emails?

What about those subscribers who never buy from you?

The New Trend

It’s seems the current trend is to get rid of the dead weight.

But, is it really dead weight? What harm to the list are subscribers who don’t buy? Or, subscribers who don’t open an email in a while?

  • Does it prevent new subscribers from joining in? NO.
  • Does it stop other subscribers from being active? NO.
  • Does it prevent other subscribers from buying? NO.
  • Is it more work for the marketer, having the inactive subscribers on board? NO.

  • Is it possible circumstances (financial, time, or other) have prevented that subscriber from taking action? YES.
  • Is it possible the inactive subscriber will all of a sudden read a title that motivates him to open that email? YES.
  • Is it possible that suddenly the subscriber will want what the marketer is offering? YES.

So, what’s the problem?

A Kick in the Butt

My take on this strategy is that the marketers using it are trying to give the inactive subscribers a wake-up call. “Hey, at least open my emails. Click on a link or two, now and then.”

My other thought is that they really don’t want to be bothered with inactive subscribers. Why keep giving them free information without any compensation.

Either way, I see the point. But, again I just don’t agree with it.

If I’m missing something here, I’d love your input.

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MORE ON INBOUND MARKETING

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Monday

The Marketing Soup – Persuasion, Leads, Strategies, and Adaptability

Since the 1950s, the foundation of marketing has been the Four Ps: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.

While the internet has changed and marketing strategies have taken on a new look, and many new ones have popped up, these four elements are still at the helm of an effective marketing plan.

With this is in mind, Danny Brown has developed his own marketing strategy: PITS (Persuasion, Intent, Traction, and Sketchability). I added my take on his strategy.

1. The first and probably the most important in any marketing plan is Persuasion.

It goes back to the question: Which is more important, the product or the sales copy?

While you absolutely need a quality product, if you don’t have effective copy ‘selling’ that product, it won’t go very far.

It’s the copy that allows the reader to envision what the product can do for him – it paints the picture.

It’s the copy that will guide and motivate the reader to take a desirable action – usually leading the reader down the YES funnel to your call-to-action (CTA). In other words, it will result in conversion.

Along with these qualities of persuasion, another benefit or power of copywriting is it’s evergreen. It’s one of those marketing tools that is universal and will always be needed.

2. Intent is the second on the list.

Intent can be compared to targeted leads. They’re people who are more likely to take action and actually subscribe and/or buy. They have intent. And, it’s these people you need to target.

According to Brown though, there are two camps of potential customers: Consider and Intent.

We’ve already established that those with intent are more likely to buy. But, it’s just as important to get those in the Consider camp over to the Intent camp.

To entice those ‘on the fence’ people to take the plunge, you need effective copy. You need persuasion.

This can be accomplished through powerful CTAs that may include time-urgent copy. An example of this is: This offer expires in 3 days. It may also include copy that triggers your readers’ wants, desires, or needs.

It’s also accomplished through storytelling. You need to make a connection, show how you were once there and how you can help them move forward now.

3. Next up on the list is Traction.

I consider traction the marketing strategies used to get your product out there. The strategies you use to create and build visibility. This includes getting people interested in what you’re offering.

How is this done?

It’s pretty much done through the current basic marketing strategies available: content marketing, website optimization, social media marketing, and email marketing (all of which falls under inbound marketing).

4. The last on the list is Sketchability.

I equate sketchability to flexibility and adaptability. You need to be able to adapt to new circumstances and the ever-changing marketing arena.

This pertains to your products and marketing strategies.

Products evolve. Or, they may lose their need or importance. If this happens, you need to be able to: Reinvent your product or create a newly desired / needed product.

A great way to have your finger on your audience’s pulse is through communication, such as initiating:

Surveys
Polls
Online Q and As
Live events (online and in person)

Summing it Up

No matter what the terminology, there are fundamental marketing strategies that must be adhered to in order to:

  • Create a ‘quality and wanted’ product
  • Get that product visible
  • Motivate your audience to action

The strategies listed here will do the trick.

To read Danny Browns article, go to:
Is Your Marketing the PITS?

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More on Inbound Marketing

Your Email’s Lifespan and Other Must-Know Tidbits
Do You Have a Social Media Posting Schedule?
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Friday

Social Media Results - How Do You Know If You’re Reaching Your Goals?

Social media is one of the top marketing strategies. Just about everyone is taking the time to work Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and so on.

But, how do you know if your social media efforts are generating results?

It’s true that working social media will boost website traffic and will create connections and engagement, but is that enough? Will these benefits translate into conversions?

And, how can you tell?

Convince and Convert has some great tips that will help you proof your social media impact.

Tip 1: Determine how much traffic you’re actually getting from your social networks.

Use a web analytics tool to determine where your traffic is coming from.

Analytic tools/services you might use include:

  • Google Analytics
  • Alexa
  • StatCounter
  • Blogger’s Stats

Tip 2: Use attribution reports.

Knowing where your traffic is coming from is essential information, it’s just as important knowing what that traffic is doing once they get to your site.

Attribution reports lets you know exactly where a visitor to your site goes and what he does. This analytical tool can even give you the point of conversion.

So, suppose John Doe, Jr. finds you on Twitter. He enters your site on a particular blog post page.

You have a subscriber opt-in at the end of that post which he clicks on. This is the point of conversion.

Now you know at least 4 things:

  • You got traffic from Twitter
  • The visitor landed on your blog post about ‘e-commerce shopping carts’
  • He took action while on that blog post
  • Your social media marketing is converting

Google Analytics has an Attribution Modeling Tool.

Tip 3: Around the corner and across the street.

What? I know this doesn’t quite make sense.

Well, the Convince and Convert article suggests that the “last-click attribution” may not be a true value of where that conversion began. “Most of the time when we are using social media, we are not in the ‘buy now’ mode. Instead, we are in discovery mode, which may be the most critical part of our decision to ultimately convert.”

Yep, it gets a bit confusing . . . and muddled.

Just to throw a ‘wrench in the works,’ suppose one of my connections on Twitter sees my tweet on the Content Writing e-class I offer.

She has a friend who wants to take a course on content writing, so she sends the link to my sales page.

The friend uses the link and signs up for my class. If the link has a tracking feature, Twitter will get credit for the conversion.

But, what if my Twitter connection clicked on the link first and then sent her friend the actual URL to my sales page. When the friend used that link, the conversion would be attributed to a direct link.

There’s more.

Convince and Convert goes into setting up link parameters, native insights, hacking your share buttons, and the problem with mobile applications.

To read it all, go to:
How to Prove Your Social Media Impact

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Wednesday

The Money is In the Details – Writing Copy Right


In a great article from AWAI, the author said, “The money is in the details. Every product has a story, history, and a process with which it's created in addition to its inherent features and benefits. And just like with acting, incorporating them will generate a hugely compelling piece.”

So, what exactly does this mean?

Well, think of Anthony Hopkins’ role as Hannibal Lecter. Do you think he simply walked on stage and created that captivating ‘wanna watch, afraid to watch’ character?

Absolutely not.

Surely he studied for the role, finding out everything he could about that type of personality.

This holds true for writing also.

I once did a product guide and description for a particular product. Before I started writing, I did my research. I learned everything I could about the product: its features, its benefits, how it could help people, reviews of the product, and so on.

The research made it easier for me to write a motivating description and helpful product guide.

But, suppose you’re writing about a new product.

The AWAI article explains that “every product has a story, history, and a process with which it’s created in addition to its inherent features and benefits. And, just like with acting, incorporating them will generate a hugely compelling piece.”

So, whether you’re a copywriter or marketer, you need to find the details in the product you’re writing about. Try to find a unique tidbit about the product that will make it stand out, that will grab the reader.

As an example, marketing legend Joe Sugarman was hired to sell a new digital watch, the first of its type to have a constant glowing display. He did his research, but then took it a step further. He wanted to know why this type of watch had never been created before.

Finding the answer to that question was the “Ah Ha” moment.

It turns out the technology (a laser technique) “to seal the [glowing] material” in had just been developed.

That was it. That was what Sugarman could use to put a completely unique spin on the new watch.

“He titled the ad "Laser Beam Digital Watch."

Sugarman’s sales copy generated millions in sales.

Next time you're writing copy for a service or product, think details. Look for the USP (unique selling proposition) that will convey its unique benefit and/or feature.

To read the AWAI article, go to:
The Secret to Becoming Your Role as a Writer

Other sources:
http://www.joesugarman.net/

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Monday

The Three Most Powerful Subscriber Optin Strategies (For Bloggers)

We all know about the subscriber optin box. It’s the portal to your email list.

But, how’s it going with the sidebar optin and/or the feature box optin?

If you’re like most of us marketers, could be better.

So, if these two optin strategies aren’t bearing the fruits you’d like, what else could you do?

Three newer optin strategies are here, knockin’ down barriers and getting you inside inboxes.

1. The blog post optin.

I’ve written about this one before. It's not brand new, but it does work.

What’s the best way to get someone who’s reading your blog post to be motivated to opt in to your email list?

Have an optin at the end of your post.

This not only works, it’s the most logical. You have the reader right where you want her – reading your content and interested in the topic.

It’s the perfect time to offer a topic-related lead magnet. It’s a follow through of the content.

Here’s an example:

Want to find out more about list building? Get free access to “10 Powerful Tips to Getting Subscriber Optin Conversion.”

Again, it’s a logical next step. The reader is obviously interested in email optin strategies or she wouldn’t be reading your email marketing post. It’s a pretty good bet that she’ll be interested in more strategies to help her get more subscribers.

2. The slide-in or pop-in optins.

You must have seen this type of optin. You land on a web page, just start to read, and a second later an offer slides in or pops up to the center of the screen, blocking what you were just reading.

I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who don’t like the slide-in, but according to studies, they actually work.

Some plugins or themes have slide-ins that take up your whole screen when they slide or pop in.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a slide-in opt-in. I just look for how I can Exit out. What really gets me annoyed is I’ve come across a couple of them that I had to leave the site – couldn’t find the “X.”

But, again, this type of opt-in works. Not on me, but on others.

3. Your email or newsletter optin.

Firepole Marketing has a great article on using your existing subscribers to help build your list.

Since your subscribers already value and read your email, they’re likely to share them with their friends and/or audience. This broadens your marketing reach and subscriber pool exponentially (depending on the number of subscribers you have).

So, how do you get your subscribers to share your emails?

Most email services provide Sharing buttons for your emails. Simple as that.

Your subscriber can easily share your newsletter.

Now, to get those who receive your newsletter or email from your subscribers to opt-in, and click on the link to read the full article, you need topic-related opt-in offer. 

Firepole suggests “catchy yellow boxes.”

Below is an example, if your post is about email marketing:
Another option is to use the opt-in boxes your email service provider offers. Below is an example of one of the opt-ins I use:


I’ll probably switch it up a bit and create a horizontal rectangular ‘yellow box’ opt-in. I actually like how it looks. It’ll be good to test to see which works best.

So, there you have it, the three most powerful subscriber opt-in boxes. Why not do your own opt-in box test. Create a couple of different ones and see which convert best.

Final note: Be sure the opt-in offer is relevant to that particular blog topic. I have a great article that explains in detail how to do this:

Boost Your Optin Rate Today – It’s All in the Lead Magnet (the offer)

Source:
Content Upgrades Increase Conversion Rates

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Friday

Social Media Marketing - Quantity or Quality?

We’ve kind of been trained to think that all marketing numbers matter, especially when it comes to social media.

How many Twitter followers do you have? How many Facebook followers or fans do you have? What about Google+ or Pinterest?

While these numbers used to be important and in some instances still are (even if just for show), quantity isn’t all it used to be.

I’ve seen Twitter users with 56K or 40K or other astronomical amount of followers. Depending on the user, these numbers may be legit. Take, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Mashable, TechCrunch, Hubspot, and other super-heavy hitters, these sites/users may very well have 100K followers or more.

But, the average Joe? I don’t think so.

In the case of Joe Doe, Jr., if I see he has 60K followers, I think twice.

Did he buy most of those followers?

Okay, I’ve deviated from the point of this article. Let me get back on track.

Why do numbers matter?

Having a large following on social media is kind of the same as having a large subscriber list. It provides more reach, more connections, and more possibility for conversions. It’s the conversions that are at the crux of all marketing endeavors.

It’s simply percentages. The more people in your pool, the more chance you have of making conversions.

Also, in some instances, such as submitting a manuscript to a publisher, having a large social media following may make the difference between the company taking a chance on you or not. Publishers want their authors to have a platform that will help sell books.

Why numbers don’t really matter?

Okay, so we’ve established the more followers, the better your chance of traffic, building authority, and conversion.

But, if 90% of your followers aren’t interested in what you’re offering, what good is having them in your marketing pool?

I get new Twitter followers every day. While I could simply follow them back, what would be the point? And, how do I know what type of users (people) they are.

I get follows from people selling social media followers. What do I do? I block them.

But, again, I’m getting off course.

The point here is that some of those followers have nothing to do with my niche. In fact, some of them I don’t want to be associated with.

So, the question is should I ‘follow back’ just to get more followers?

NO! No! No!

The only way numbers matter is if they’re targeted numbers. They need to be people who are interested in what you have to say and offer. It’s these people who are actual leads. It’s these people who are potential customers or clients.

WERSM backs this up.

According to an article on their site, “The era of accumulating ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ as a measure of numerical pride on social media has LONG been gone.” (1)

The article actually brings out another excellent point. Those ‘fluff’ followers won’t even read your posts, let alone sign up for something or buy something.

What you should be concerned about.

Create relevant content that your followers will be happy to share and will be motivated by to take the conversion plunge.

This is like any other marketing strategy you undertake, it takes work, it takes time.

Tip: Focus on one or two social networks. Determine which ones work best for you and work them. Don’t try to be effective in them all.

Reference
(1) http://wersm.com/please-stop-counting-your-followers-and-fans/

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MORE ON INBOUND MARKETING

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