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8 Tips for Successful Blogging to Drive Inbound Marketing

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According to HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report, 34percent of all sales leads last year were generated by inbound marketing sources, delivering 54percent more leads into the sales funnel that outbound marketing efforts through advertising, sales calls, etc. And more than 82percent of marketers who blog see real ROI from blogging for inbound marketing. Of those marketers surveyed, 43percent said they generated a customer from blogging during the year.

Overall, 79 percent of companies who maintain a blog reported positive ROI for inbound marketing compared to 20 percent without a blog. And 82 percent of marketers who blog daily said they acquired a customer as opposed to 57 percent who blog monthly.

Clearly blogging builds business, but successful business blogging has specific guidelines you need to follow:

  1. Know your audience – Before you start blogging, have a clear idea of who you are writing for. Create marketing personas to help you identify your target customer and audience, and identify their areas of interest and their problems. What information can you share in a blog that will make their lives easier?
  2. Deliver quality content – An informative and entertaining blog can be your best tool for inbound lead generation. The secret is to keep your audience engaged. You want the information you share to be different, interesting, and valuable.
  3. Mix up your format – Use different subjects and approaches to keep your blog fresh. Talk about common problems. Interview other experts. Cite interesting statistics. Use different techniques so your readers always get something fresh.
  4. Never sell – Most business bloggers make the mistake of making their blog all about them and their products. People don’t care about their products; they care about how those products improve their lives. Talk about the customers’ problems and challenges and provide information that is helpful. In fact, don’t even mention your products but just provide expertise. The soft sell is more effective in blogging.
  5. Remember, design matters – Appearance matters just as much as readability. Use a crisp, clean design that is easy to read, and break up the text with subheads, bullet lists, and graphics. Artwork is particularly important. Pictures give you blog life and make it more visible on social media – just make sure you don’t violate the copyright for any images you share.
  6. Include a call to action – Every online post should include some call to action, or rather a call to engage further. I can be a call for comments, or the offer of a white paper, case study, or more information. Ultimately, you want blog followers to contact you about becoming customers. Make it easy for them to reach you by email, with a simple form, or other means.
  7. Be prolific and be consistent – It’s proven that the more you blog, the higher your lead conversion rate. Commit to whatever frequency you can manage – daily, weekly, monthly – but remember the more you blog the better your chances for lead conversion. Try to post at the same time each day or week so your followers can look forward to hearing from you.
  8. Make your blog easy to share – Of course, you are pushing your own blog content out through social media. Make it easy for your blog followers to share as well with social media links. Getting your followers to share is the best way to attract more followers.

These are just eight ways to improve your blogging strategy. Whatever you do, don’t be boring and don’t plagiarize. But do start blogging and blog often. And if you need assistance with your blog, then by all means, call on us. We’re here to help.

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Written by Tom Woolf

February 21st, 2014 at 4:53 pm

Using Content to Tap Key Motivators: Greed, Fear, and Risk

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I saw an article posted recently by the Content Marketing Institute entitled “2 Foolproof Methods for Getting Content Marketing Buy-In.” It got me thinking; what really motivates people to buy into to a content marketing campaign? There have to more than two motivators?

Before everything else, whether you are talking to chief executives, marketers, your peers, or anyone else you all have something in common – you are human. There are basic human motivators that date back to the Neolithic Age that still drive today. The big ones are greed, fear and risk, and most other motivators are subsets of greed, fear, and risk. If you understand how to apply these motivators as part of your content marketing strategy, then you will be able to get more buy in from your target audience.

Let’s consider greed for starters. Back in the days of the caveman, greed would be a great motivator to steal someone’s mammoth steak, but today it’s all about commanding market share and market dollars. If you can deliver content that outshines the competition and drives more business, then you have something compelling. If you can develop a campaign that minimizes cost and risk and provides a sure-fire sales opportunity, then you can get buy in.

How do you tap greed with content? Try offering sure-fire tips to solve a marketing problem. Create a white paper on sure-fire ways to build business. Offer success stories showing how someone else made a fortune with your problem or service. In short, make an offer that is too good to pass up. If you can create a compelling story using greed as a motivator, you will get a higher response.

Fear, however, can be an even more compelling motivator. Just as the caveman is motivated by fear to run from the saber-toothed tiger, you want to tap into fear to promote action. Use your content to address a dire problem. What about a new industry regulation that could cost your prospects a lot of money. Create a targeted message that uses fear as a motivator within a target group. For example, we did a white paper project for a technology company that solved social media compliance problems for financial service firms. The white paper was a big hit because the consequences for non-compliance could be millions of dollars in fines. Fear motivates like nothing else, so address well-defined problems with solutions that prevent big consequences.

And then there’s risk. In his article on “2 Foolproof Methods…,” author Joe Pulizzi says one method is using a pilot program is one way to get marketing buy-in. I think of this as a means to eliminate risk. A pilot program lets you test the waters before making a big fiscal commitment. Similarly, with content, if you can offer a “try before you buy” approach you are eliminating risk. Offering free tips and techniques means there is no commitment, which means a higher response rate. Reassure your audience that any information they offer won’t be shared. Be helpful without asking for too much in return. Eliminating risk, combined with something that promotes greed or fear, and you have content that will get a response.

So no matter how terrific a product or service you have to offer, and no matter how sweet the offer, remember that your respondents are still people. Use tactics that motivate people. Be sure to appeal to basic instincts and the logical arguments to close a sale follow. After all, we’re only human.

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Written by Tom Woolf

March 19th, 2013 at 4:24 pm

The Elements of a Successful Case Study

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Adults tend to learn best by example, so tell a compelling tale.

There is no single formula for a successful case study, but there are common elements to tell a compelling story that that connects with readers in a way that prompts positive action.

The beauty of case studies is they are concrete, and provides newfound knowledge in a real-world context. Adults tend to learn differently from children, acquiring new skills because they want to in order to grow and expand their knowledge and capabilities. Case studies help facilitate that growth with “hands-on” application of knowledge.

Research shows that adults learn differently. Malcolm Knowles, the famed adult educator, based his theory of andragogy on four basic premises.

  1. Adults tend to learn best when they understand why they are learning something.
  2. Adults learn best through experience
  3. Adults tend to view learning as an opportunity for problem solving
  4. Adults learn best when the subject is relevant and can be immediately applied.

That’s why case studies are so powerful – they provide knowledge based on experience that solves a problem and can be immediately applied. Hence there are common elements that are required for any compelling and successful case study:

  1. The problem – What specific issue needs to be overcome? Typically you want to state the problem in terms that your intended audience will recognize, and with which they can empathize. Remember that a good case study requires good storytelling, so your problem should create a commonly understood conflict that needs resolution.
  2. The organization – Provide a profile of the case study subject, including background, how long they have been in operation, setbacks, and other details that give the subject company character. Remember, your case study subject is the protagonist in your case study drama.
  3. Process – How did the company come to identify their problem and what steps did they take to try to solve it? This is where you get a chance to highlight your strengths over the competition without actually calling them out. Explore the characteristics of potential solutions and why they were rejected.
  4. Discovery – How did your case study topic achieve that “a ha!” moment when they encountered your solution? What led to the epiphany that you could solve the problem? This is an important part of building the drama of the case study story and the journey your customer/protagonist had to go through.
  5. Solution – Here is where you have the opportunity to show why you shine. Present your solution to the problem as a logical extension of the discovery process. Explain what features deliver the benefits the customer was seeking, but be sure to keep the tone educational and informative, and not promotional.
  6. Implementation – What steps were required to implement the solution, including dependent elements and other factors? The objective is to promote credibility by honestly revealing how much time, support, and training might be required.
  7. Results – This is where you get to make your case. Be concrete and try to provide metrics that will be compelling to the reader, e.g. savings of time, money, improved efficiency, or some other factor that affects the bottom line.

The specific elements and returns will vary based on the example, the industry, and the metrics that will be meaningful to your case study subject. However, the storyline needs to have universal appeal so the reader can identify with the problem and the solution. A skilled storyteller can help you reveal the problem, benefits, and solutions in a way that will allow your case study to appeal in a way that it will support a call to action, which is the next topic in this blog series.

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Written by Tom Woolf

February 7th, 2013 at 3:59 pm