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Content Marketing Ideas for Small Business: The Ultimate Guide

Regardless of the size of your business, content marketing is an integral part of any company.

Content marketing helps companies to develop their brand and create a robust online presence. Depending on your business goals, it can aid with growth, reach, and engagement.

Content marketing is arguably the best marketing technique for your small business. Not only does it cost less than traditional marketing, but it generates around 3 times as many leads.

In this post, we explore the best content marketing ideas for small businesses.

Are you ready to dive in?

The fundamental elements of content marketing

Content marketing is, in essence, the act of creating content and sharing it with potential customers, visitors, or clients. The core aspects of content marketing are:

  • The website – This is where you will showcase your company, and always send your customers towards.
  • Blog – As you may have imagined, a blog is a crucial aspect of any business. It’s the perfect way to gain traffic to your site, and create more potential leads. Even if you only post once a week.
  • Social media – Now, social media is a necessary part of content marketing. Not only should all your marketing efforts be showcased on your blog, but content should also be created primarily for social media.
  • Email – You can now share content directly into your target audience’s inbox.

Let’s take a look at some of the best content marketing ideas for your small business.

Videos

Videos have fast become one of the most popular means of content marketing, especially in the past few years. In fact, it’s estimated that 82% of all web traffic will be online video by 2020. Your small business should consider creating videos, this could be:

  • Tour around the office
  • Product reviews
  • Animated videos
  • Tutorials
  • A day in the life
  • Screen record

Podcasts

Another big marketing trend at the moment is podcasts, these have definitely picked up a lot of momentum in the past couple of years, and aren’t showing any signs of stopping soon. Podcasts are engaging, mobile-friendly, and listeners tend to be extremely loyal.

User-Generated Content

If you’re really struggling for content, why not let your users create it themselves?User-generated content (UGC) can be anything from reviews, all the way to fan art and videos.

Many companies, both small and large, have taken advantage of UGI, and have significantly benefited from doing so. Not only does it give your website and social media platforms valuable content, but it involves your audience.

Take CocaCola’s name bottles as a great example. Customers posted photos of their named bottles, which created a proved to be a fantastic piece of advertisement.

It’s important to underline that user-generated content has to be edited. There is a variety of tools you can use to do that. Here are a few examples — Grammarly can help you with checking your spelling and punctuation, Trust My Paper can consult you on style and SEO optimization, Studicus is great with editing and Hemingway is a tool that can help you increase readability.

Coupons/voucher codes

Everybody loves a deal and using a coupon, voucher, or sale can really resonate with your customers or online visitors. Create posts and blogs revolving around your limited time deal, which will create a sense of urgency amongst your users. It’s a great way to push out content and generate leads. Of course, this is only for the companies that have a product or service to offer.

Blog posts

Obviously, the main form of content marketing has to be the most popular form of content marketing. We highly recommend that your company starts a blog, this will not only increase the traffic to your site but give your users and followers something to engage with.

If you’re stuck for ideas on what to blog about, there’s always a wide array of topics for you to choose from. The most popular blog posts offer valuable information, possibly tutorials, how-to’s or “xx of the best” style of articles. Why not ask your users what they would like you to write about? Perhaps they want to know how you started your company, or the top 10 products on your site.

Infographics

Infographics are visual representations of information, usually created to explain complex information straightforwardly. They are particularly popular on Pinterest and work really well with blogs. Providing a “clickbait” type of graphic. Every niche could make an infographic, whether it’s how to blend eyeshadow, the different types of coffee available, or how to install a plugin on your website.

Social media

Don’t neglect social media when it comes to your content marketing. Remember, every blog post, video, infographic, and coupon code should be posted on all your social media.

Social platforms give you a great opportunity to reach new people and fill up your social feed. Ensuring that you’re active on social media will in turn guarantee that you reach more people.

You could also try influencer marketing, which goes hand in hand with content marketing. Why not team up with influencers and create content together? This could be blogs, podcasts, or simply just photographs.

You could also try something a little more creative and use Instagram stories as a way to engage with your followers.

SEO

Content marketing will be more successful if you incorporate SEO with it. Of course, you’ll know all about the SEO in regards to blog posts, this is an imperative aspect. However, you can also make all other pieces of content SEO friendly – from podcasts to infographics.

Make sure that you optimize:

  • Meta tags
  • Meta Titles
  • Content on all pages
  • Meta descriptions

This will help you appear at the top of all search results, regardless of what people are searching for.

Top tip: If you’re trying to make your podcast SEO friendly, you should consider writing a short blog post alongside it, with all the keywords necessary.

Online publications

Some businesses have decided to create an online publication alongside their website. For instance, if you’re a business that focuses on surfing items, you could start a surfing digital magazine. This could be a great way to promote your brand.

Email marketing

Your content can be shared in multiple ways, through emails is one of the most effective ones. Spend time building up an email list – something that you can do whenever you make a sale, or somebody signs up to your service. Also, you should consider writing weekly newsletters – these should be filled with valuable information and facts.

Top tip: You shouldn’t bombard your subscribers with too many emails, or they will either unsubscribe, or they’ll consider your email as spam and won’t open them.

Set up an editorial calendar

The next step for you is to bring an editorial calendar; this will help you move towards your content marketing goals. Any small business that is looking for new ways to use content marketing to their advantage should consider getting some help from a customary editorial content calendar. A calendar will bring you any clarity that you need, and help you tackle any task that needs to be completed.

“An editorial calendar will give you a clear idea of what content needs to be created when it should be posted, where it should be published, and the goals of each piece of content.” — Diana Adjadj, a marketer and writer at Supreme Dissertation and Best Essay Education.

Conclusion

Content marketing is an excellent option for all small businesses, which can ultimately elevate your brand and reach new people. Content marketing can improve your conversions and allow you to connect with your audience and customers in new ways. Which ideas do you think you’ll try?

Guest Post: About the Author

Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks, and empowers using the magic of a word. She is a writer at Grab My Essay and WoWGrade. Kristin is pursuing a degree in Creative Writing. Along with that, she has a lot of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors.

5 Effective Ways to Increase Your Conversion Rate with Social Media

Facebook and Instagram are two of the top places consumers look to research and purchase items online. This is great news for businesses, but just being present on social media doesn’t guarantee a sale will come. Should you expand what you’re doing? Should you stay the course and hope things improve?

If you aren’t seeing the conversion rates you are expecting or you would like, social media isn’t working as well as it can for you. SEO agencies can help get your small business into the forefront of your patron’s minds, however, without a specific plan, your social strategy may be in need of rejuvenation.

At what point can you see your conversion rate increase? That can be a difficult question to answer, but check out these five tips to help your social media posts become more effective and have your social media platforms work for you.

Have Your Landing Page Be Mobile Friendly

When websites don’t load well or are not optimized for mobile platforms, you lose out on those click-throughs from potential customers who are browsing social media on the go. When consumers are scrolling, you need to make it easy for them to switch from social media to your site.

Think about how you use your phone on sites, most likely you prefer when sites give you the ability to scroll or swipe to get more information. Give the people what they want and be sure your landing page is optimized for mobile shoppers and see how that conversion rate increases.

Keeping your site mobile-friendly will not only attract clientele who are on the go, but makes them more likely to recommend your business to others. Users prefer splash pages that are bright and flashy, when you cater to their preferences it is more likely that you will get the follow-through, and you will see your sales and conversion rate increase.

Create Ads that Target Your Specific Audience

You may have several goals for your social media postings, but your number one goal is probably to lead people to your site and persuade them to purchase your products. One of the best ways to do this is by placing ads on social media for your target audience to find as they are scrolling through.

Using keywords and demographic studies, you can place your ads in front of the people who are most likely to follow through and become interested and invested in your brand. Once you get them to your landing page you can work your sales magic, but getting that initial click should be the focus of your social media.

Once they are on your site you can use a specific call to action statement such as “I have to have this!” to create a buzz about your product and entice people to purchase your product immediately.

User-Generated Content is Your Friend

Sometimes you will have users who truly love your brand and you can leverage some of that content into advertising for you. The best part is that it’s free! When others see the posts or videos made from individuals just like them it not only builds awareness, but it promotes a feeling of trust.

User-generated content feels more authentic because it gives others an idea about what to expect from you from an unbiased source. Have you ever read a review before you’ve bought something? Think of these posts as the best feedback ever, people love your business so much they want to tell everyone, so go ahead and spread that message to your followers.

When a user creates their own video about a product that they are so excited about, others can build off of that excitement which in turn benefits your small business. Since search engines tend to prioritize new content, these videos and posts will give you more internet visibility, which is bound to increase interest. Customers want to follow the crowd!

Create Unique Content

What works on Instagram isn’t going to work as well on Pinterest. Facebook posts need to be different than Twitter posts. Since each social media site meets a different need, you need to engage specifically. If you are attempting to post the same thing across the board, you aren’t going to see an impact that meets your goals from doing so.

When you are able to have content that is geared towards the users of each platform individually, you are meeting your customers where they are and not saturating the same message for those who follow you in multiple ways.

On social media, you are just one click away from new customer’s finding you. Don’t antagonize them with seeing the same picture no matter where they are looking. Create similar posts with some changes that make it unique to the outlet you intend to post it on.

Don’t Limit Yourself

Facebook is the king of social media as far as marketing is concerned, as 68% of adults are users,  but don’t assume that because your business is active there your job is done. Overlooking the other social media platforms is an easy mistake to make but one worth correcting for a high rate of conversion.

You have to take into account what they are using social media for. While people may follow you on Facebook, if they really only use it to share pictures of their children, they will miss out on what you have to offer. Having followers is not the same thing as engagement, so diversification of your social media presence is essential to staying relevant and meeting your target audience.

You can be engaged with multiple platforms and still throw focus on the ones that give you the best return. But you shouldn’t turn your back on any of the platforms since the wider your business is, the more possibility of growing a customer base through different outlets. Keep your promotions engaging and on target with your intended audience.

Conclusion

Social media can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. When you set specific goals and use your posts to your advantage, social media can be incredibly successful, giving you a higher conversion rate and getting your business into the forefront of your customer’s minds just by following these five tips.

Guest Post: About the Author

Madeline Dudziak loves words. As a web content creator, she crafts messages that help clients inform, educate, persuade, or connect. Madeline’s also a freelance theater reviewer for the River Cities’ Reader, which combines her passion for writing with her passion for theatre. 

Also a huge fan of reading – perhaps a natural result of being named after the famous children’s book – Madeline’s Kindle is always crammed with more books than leisure time allows. Among other ways she spends her free time are fun activities with her husband and young children, volunteering, and participating in two book clubs.

4 Social Media Marketing Failures & What You Can Learn from Them

With over two million businesses using Facebook for advertising, 50 million businesses using Facebook business pages and 93% of Pinterest users using Pinterest to make plans and purchase decisions, businesses whether small-scale or large-scale, B2B or B2C, local or international, etc. have little to no choice but to use social media marketing to try to reach out to potential customers and engage their current customers.

Reasons for Social Media Marketing

Of course, there are several reasons why businesses, brands and companies use social media marketing. These include:

Access to market and potential customers

According to Statista, 1.37 billion active users visit Facebook every day. Many of these active users visit Facebook and other social media platforms to check on the activities of friends and family, pursue their interests, sell something and socialize online. A business can easily attract the attention of potential customers with ads on the social media platform that their target customers visit the most.

Encouraging engagement

Social media marketing is the best way through which businesses and companies can engage their current customers and retain them. You can use social media marketing to create a two-way communication means for your customers, allowing them to make their wishes known and you can update them on new developments on your products and services.

Customer service support systems

Social media marketing is another great opportunity for companies, businesses and brands to get customers’ opinions by tracking customers’ questions and complaints about the business all over social media platforms. Companies can also get feedback and criticism from customers’ social media conversation with others.  It is also the best way to curtail customer loyalty because customers will also appreciate the fact that when they post comments on your social media page, they receive a personalized message rather than an automatic message.

Affordable advertising

Compared to traditional marketing, social media marketing can be pretty affordable and sometimes free of charge, after all, you don’t have to pay to open a social media account on any of the numerous social media networks that exist. Even social media marketers who decide to use paid advertising only have to pay, based on their campaign type, for clicks on ads.

Measurable advertising

Apart from being affordable, social media marketing is also measurable. That is, using different analytics systems: Twitter analytics and Pinterest analytics, you can find out the number of people who viewed your ads, clicked your ads or walked away after viewing your ads.

Drive brand awareness

Many startup companies and businesses have applied different social media marketing strategies to drive their brand awareness and increase their brand visibility and recognition. And since 59% of shoppers prefer to buy new products from brands they are familiar with, companies or businesses will benefit greatly for making potential and present customers familiar with their brand.

Target audience awareness

By observing the activities of your customers and potential customers, you can find out their needs and wants directly by asking them for their opinions with surveys or just questions, or by tracking their social media comments about your brand. This way, you can have a better understanding of your customers, their reactions to your products and services and your competitors which would inform your social media marketing strategies.

4 Social Media Marketing Failures That You Can Learn From

With the many advantages of social media marketing, this does not mean that your social media strategy cannot end up failing, having little return on investment or bringing negative attention to your product. This is why every business or company using social media marketing have to look out for other company and brand marketing failures so that they can learn to avoid making the same mistakes.

1. The Coca Cola 2016 marketing hit-and-miss

As the Christmas holidays were approaching in 2016, Coca Cola decided to do their holiday season advertisement with a snow-covered map of Russia which unfortunately excluded Crimea, Kuril Islands and Kaliningrad. They should have probably avoided creating a map of Russia at all, since the Russian map is a highly controversial issue especially since Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

After the Russian internet users’ negative reaction to this map excluding Crimea, Coca Cola social media marketing team decided to recreate and post another Russian map which included Crimea this time and unfortunately, earned the wrath of Ukrainians and their online support for the ban of Coca Cola.

This marketing hit-and-miss was further complicated by some important figures in Russia who posted that because of Coca Cola’s restructured map, global American Companies had accepted the annexation of Crimea even though the official stand of the United States and even the European government is one of condemnation of the annexation of Crimea. This marketing hit and miss therefore, warranted many apologies, taking down both social media marketing campaign maps permanently and left behind some unhappy Ukrainians and Russians.

2. Melbourne Cup and horse racing campaign

The Melbourne Cup attempt to connect with their online and social media audience definitely flopped in a most predictable way. After all, the company itself was a controversial one in the first place. The Melbourne Cup attempted to get audience to #NameAHorseRace after themselves on Twitter, forgetting that not everybody approves horse racing and that many people thought it was an example of animal cruelty.

Although, they did promote what they did best and tried to engage their customers, they failed to think of how this marketing campaign could backfire against their brand. In short, they did not think about how people would react to the controversial topic that horse racing is.

3. Dove’s transformation campaign

Dove has always been known for empowering women and encouraging women to focus on realistic standards of beauty and the concept that everybody is beautiful in their own way.

Their “Real” beauty marketing concept has always worked for them as seen from their “Real beauty sketches” marketing campaign and “Evolution” marketing campaign had focused on making women proud of their natural looks over the years and it had worked for them till they brought the Transformation marketing campaign.

The Dove Transformation ad saw a black woman transform to a white woman after the use of the Dove body lotion. Of course, a marketing ad involving anything like skin color or race definitely resonated wrongly with their target audience both black and white. This ad had the misfortune of offending racists, non-racists and people against racism.

The marketing ad also disproved all their previous brand messages and contorted the brand image that they had spent over nine years trying to build. With that single ad that went against the “all beauty is real beauty” concept, they dismantled the reputation they built over the years. The ad alienated and even insulted a large part of their audience and definitely caused many to walk away.

Despite their apology after the ad was removed based on customer (women of all races) complaints and backlash stating that they were uncomfortable and even infuriated with the ad, it still took some time for Dove to recover from this brand awareness setback.

4. The Audi #PaidMyDues campaign

From research, Assignment Man have realized that while planning for social media marketing campaigns, inevitably, brand social media marketing teams can decide on marketing ads that bring no returns to the company (no return on investment or brand awareness).

For example, the Audi #PaidMyDues marketing campaign which had nothing to do with beautiful luxury cars and definitely backfired. Many people follow Audi on different social media platforms to see different beautiful photos of luxury cars. So, when Audi decided to tell real-life stories about people triumphing over adversity, they definitely didn’t carry their audience along.

Of course, they probably thought they could engage their followers by asking them to tweet or Instagram their inspiring stories but they were wrong because many followers felt irritated with these inspiring stories which did not have anything to do with cars. Some social media audiences were found complaining about how the marketing campaign had nothing to do with cars and many threatening to unfollow Audi on social media.

Although the Audi #PaidMyDues campaign did not offend anyone’s values, it resulted in a great drop in engagement level with their audience, customers felt that Audi was no longer as invested in their main purpose which was making great cars and many customers also felt that Audi was not listening to their opinions and customer feedback since it took them more than two weeks to completely drop the campaign despite complaints from clients.

What You Can Learn from These Social Media Marketing Failures

Know your target audience

Based on research by an academician at custom paper writing service, any brand, company or business that does not know their audience is sure to fail in their social media marketing. Taking the example of Audi’s #PaidMyDues campaign which was based on good intentions but definitely did not resonate with their audience.

Consider the different ways marketing campaigns can be misconstrued or twisted

Companies and businesses need to be careful of the way their campaigns can be twisted on social media. Different types of people hide behind their phones and computers on social media and will take any opportunity to get followers on twitter and get influence by ridiculing people and brands if given the chance. Therefore, brands on social media should be careful not to create open-ended social media campaigns that can be twisted in different lights and backfire.

An example is ALDI social media marketing campaign which asked people to fill in the blanks. The ad was something like “Complete the sentence by filling the blank space” and it ended with sentences like:

“I became an ALDI lover when I tasted ________ for the first time.”

The ad was definitely twisted by people on social media who began to make crude comments and eventually the campaign had to be terminated.

Keep track of your analytics

Track your analytics and customer feedback to see if your marketing campaign is resonating in the right way with your target audience.

Be careful with controversial concepts

College-paper.org reviews also advises that you should be careful how you feature controversial concepts like sex, drugs, race, violence, etc. in your social media campaigns.

Deal properly and carefully with social media negative feedback

All in all, companies, businesses and their social media marketing teams should be careful to improve their skills, logical thinking, and knowledge so they can deal with social media negative feedback in the right way.

Conclusion

Although, it is kind of inevitable for companies and businesses to make social media marketing mistakes once in a while due to different reasons, these can be minimized by looking at other brand’s social media marketing campaigns (especially competitor’s) and knowing what your target audience wants or does not want.

Guest Post: About the Author

Becky Holton is a journalist and a blogger at best paper writing service. She is interested in education technologies, expert writing, my assignment help and is always ready to support informative speaking. Follow her on Twitter.

12 Creative Marketing Ideas to Boost Your Business

A business without marketing is like a person without an identity. Without a proper strategy, the target audience cannot understand your mission, competitive advantages, and professional vision. Therefore, it’s not the issue of whether you should use marketing to boost your business, but rather how to do it most productively.

There are literally thousands of marketing mechanisms to rely on while promoting your products or services, but we want to help you out by filtering creative ideas that can make the biggest impact on your target group. Let’s see the 12 most interesting tactics.

1.   Create High-Quality Content

The basic rule of contemporary marketing is to create amazing content that draws attention and inspires potential customers to engage with your business. Although it sounds simple, it’s not that easy to make standout content in the world where people and organizations publish millions of posts daily.

This is why we recommend you to take the extra step and make a versatile content strategy. You should mix different formats to impress the target audience and combine the following features:

  • Blog posts and images
  • Videos, GIFs, and animations
  • Audio podcasts
  • Graphics, charts, and infographics

2.   Guest Blogging

Another great way to market your business comes in the form of guest blogging. What makes this tactic so powerful is the fact that it’s not pushy but rather subtle and indirect. The idea is simple – you will publish an excellent article on someone else’s blog and insert a link to your website along the way. Users who read and like your post will likely decide to visit your blog and get acquainted with your business in general.

3.   Optimize Content for Engine Searches

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important marketing mechanisms because 93% of all traffic comes from Google and similar platforms. In such circumstances, you must conduct a keyword analysis for each post individually and use only the most relevant terms and phrases.

For example, check out these three SEO phrases:

They probably look the same to average users, but content creation agencies know that each keyword is different and targets a highly specific audience group. You have to be just as delicate when choosing keywords for your own posts.

4.   Answer Questions on Quora

Quora is one of the largest question-and-answer websites as it attracts millions of users from all over the globe. You can take advantage of it to promote the business using the same principle as guest blogging. The only difference is that members of Quora rate answers, so your post has to be very good to stand out from the rest of the commentators.

5.   Concentrate On the Right Social Platforms

The Internet is full of social networks that gather thousands, millions, or even billions of users. There are so many options to choose from here, but the usual suspects include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and similar.

Our suggestion is not to waste the energy trying to cover each of the major social platforms. Instead, you should focus on two or three networks that can help your business to flourish. This is more than enough for most companies, so don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.

6.   Don’t Be Shy to Advertise

Digital marketing gives you a plethora of extremely precise advertising opportunities. From Google AdSense to social media advertising, you can publish sponsored content on multiple locations to raise brand awareness.

The thing we love about it is that you can target users very accurately, so the return on investments is guaranteed. You should, of course, spend most of the time thinking about organic promotion, but a few nice ads every now and then can really do a lot for your business.

7.   Organize Social Contests

Another thing you can do via social media is to organize contests. According to the report, a typical contest earns brands more than 30% of new social followers. It’s a super-engaging marketing trick because people just can’t resist free stuff. All it takes is to offer small perks and your fans will be more than willing to take part in the contest.

8.   Refresh Old Posts

As you keep publishing content week after week, you will run out of ideas sooner or later. This is why you should make use of this sneaky tactic and refresh older posts from time to time. Jake Gardner, a content marketer at the paper writing service, says this tactic doesn’t even require a lot of work: “You can simply change images, replace outdated stats with fresh data, or add some new tools to your lists. The content will look more appealing and it will probably earn you a bunch of new visitors.”

9.   Build Brand Ambassadors

Another thing you should think about is building relationships with your customers and turning them into brand ambassadors. It’s a wonderful opportunity to raise brand awareness through the power of word of mouth marketing.

The easiest way to do it is through social networks because they enable you to approach followers, ask them questions, answer their own inquiries, like, and re-share their posts. In the long-term perspective, it will help you to strengthen relationships with your fans and turn some of them into loyal brand advocates.

10.   Don’t Forget Email Marketing

Despite being the oldest channel of digital marketing, email newsletters are still a dominant tool of business promotion. Almost four billion people use email services, so make sure to exploit it to approach customers regardless of their locations.

11.   Host Events

We already mentioned that successful marketing campaigns usually combine digital and traditional features. Corporate events represent one of the most fruitful mechanisms of traditional marketing because they give you the chance to meet customers and clients face-to-face.

The benefits of organizing business events are numerous – you can talk with the prospects, sell products or services directly, boost team morale, contribute to local communities, etc. Therefore, you should always dedicate at least a small portion of the marketing budget to corporate events.

12.   Utilize Local PR

The last tip on our list is to engage locally and take advantage of public relations. Try to find local media outlets and specialized industry magazines where you can give interviews, advertise, or place business-related stories. This tactic is particularly important for companies with physical branches trying to win over more clients from the neighborhood.

Conclusion

Growing the business and outperforming the closest competitors is impossible without some serious marketing efforts. But it’s getting increasingly difficult to find a perfect combination of new and traditional promo mechanisms, so we decided to help you out by presenting the 12 most important and creative marketing ideas. Don’t hesitate to use these tricks – they could give your company a brand new boost!

Guest Post: About the Author

Lilian Chifley is a digital marketing expert working mainly with online writing services. Her current assignments are with https://australianwritings.net/, https://bestessayservicesreview.com/bestessays-review/ and AssignmentGeek writing service. When she’s not at work, she loves to go out for jogging or cycling, read motivational and inspirational books and spend time with her two young daughters.

Learn Valuable Skills Online to Better Serve Your Business

If you run a small business, you’re probably always looking for ways to improve quality and boost the bottom line. The good news is that you can learn many valuable skills online, often for free, that will help you achieve your business goals. These skills can help you improve your marketing and cut expenses for tasks that you now farm out to part-timers or consultants. The following is our list of skills for you to consider learning.

Marketing-Related Skills

  1. Copywriting:
    Does your website content show you off at your best? Do you feel your marketing emails are effective? If eigther answer is no, part of the problem might be weak copywriting. Poor grammar, inappropriate word choices, and boring copy self-sabotage your marketing efforts. While you can hire a good freelance writer at a reasonable rate, you might also want to improve your writing skills and take on some of the work yourself. You can improve your copywriting skills for free at websites like Copyblogger.
  2. Search Engine Optimization:
    SEO is a way to improve the results of online keyword searches. It involves several technical tasks as well as analyzing data from search engines like Google. Your goal is to get your company listed on Page 1 of search results for your chosen keywords (i.e., the terms a searcher might enter). While excellent, authoritative copy is a must, you can also boost your results by making it easier for the search engines to understand your website content. SEO does this, while data analytics shows how the public is responding. Check out the free online courses available from Google.
  3. Social Media:
    Nowadays, it’s almost mandatory to maintain a social media presence in order to compete effectively. Being a social media guru requires time, effort and skill. The payoff is improved buzz about your product or service, which can lead to higher sales. You can learn the ins and outs of social media at sites like Lynda.com. While some charge money, they often have a free trial period to test them out.
  4. Photography/Graphic Design:
    Beyond great content, your website and other marketing collateral should be visually compelling. Instead of buying the same old stock photos that everyone else uses, you can decorate your website with your own photographs and graphic designs. It could very well be worth your while to learn Photoshop, which will allow you to use your graphic skills to improve the look of your websites and other materials. Many sources of Photoshop training are available for free or a modest membership fee, such as Kelby One.

Other Skills

  1. Excel:
    Spreadsheets are almost mandatory for recording, tracking and presenting data. With them, you can do budgeting, track inventory, and a thousand other tasks. Excel is the most popular spreadsheet program, and you can get free training from Microsoft.
  2. Bookkeeping:
    You might be surprised how today’s powerful yet friendly bookkeeping software packages make bookkeeping an easy task that doesn’t require an accounting degree. Products like QuickBooks can handle your business bookkeeping as your business grows. You can get free training and certification from Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, or from other free sources.
  3. Tax preparation:
    If your taxes aren’t too complicated, you can file them yourself using one of several tax preparation packages. For example, you can visit the Intuit website for free TurboTax training.
  4. Finance:
    If you have big ambitions in the business world, you just might want to become skilled at finance and financial decision-making. Many colleges and other institutions offer online courses that lead to certificates or degrees in finance. Also, check out the many finance-related articles offered at IOU Financial.

Conclusion

We’ve just scratched the surface about what you can do to beef up your business skills via free and paid online resources. Think about what would work best for your business and then get moving. You can bet your competitors are!

Simplify Your Content Marketing Strategy with a One-Page Plan

The recent Content Marketing Institute release, a B2C content marketing report, took the attention of all content marketers. It’s an important annual study because it helps shed light on various aspects of content marketing that we’d otherwise be blind to.

B2C marketers with a documented strategy were found to be more effective than those without one in every aspect of content marketing. But yet, only 39% of marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.

Why do you need a one-page strategy?

We’ve already established that having a documented content strategy is far better than the alternative. For people that don’t have a written content marketing strategy, having a simple one is a great place to begin.

On the other hand, if you do have a detailed strategy but are having a hard time with it, simplifying it is going to help you figure out where the weaknesses are and possibly seal them.

A one-page content marketing strategy is advantageous regardless of the size or stage your business is in, because it helps in the following concrete ways:

  • It helps clear up holes in your overall business plan.
  • Content producers can all be sure of what exactly is expected of them.
  • It gives the business a more focused vision.

For smaller business, it might end up being all you need. Most times content strategies end up being too convoluted and ineffective.

Pinpoint the organization’s needs and goals

The first step in creating a simple content marketing strategy is to find out what the organization aims to achieve in that year. Since almost every company’s ultimate goal is growth, they share almost the same objectives. This should be outlined in documents like internal memos. They should help you outline:

  • The profit target
  • Revenue target
  • How growth is to be achieved

With all this data, the next step is to figure out what role content marketing is supposed to play in helping the company achieve those three goals. Don’t forget to have a way to measure the kind of impact content marketing will have had on the company’s end goals at the end of the year.

What to include in your one-page strategy

Having been used to writing five pages of more worth of details for your strategy, how do you know what to include and what to leave out? The following are the most important aspects it will normally boil down to:

Goals

Business goals are the most critical achievements your business should reach in the near fiscal year or over a 5-year period or so.

Examples of goals that could be outlined in your content marketing strategy include:

  • Increase market share of your product from XX% to XY%.
  • Grow percentage of sales from new products

Objectives

There is understandable confusion among marketers when it comes to differentiating between goals and objectives of a business. Goals are the general guidelines that are going to direct you over the long term and reflect the mission statement and vision of the company.

Objectives are meant to define how the goals are to be achieved – think of them as measured steps towards achieving your final goal. These should optimally have a measurable impact, should be specific and, preferably, have a completion date.

For instance:

  • Increase revenue by XX% over the next 12 months.

Strategy

This part of the document should detail how exactly you plan on achieving your goals and objectives. What qualitative impact will content marketing have on the business over the course of the next year? For example:

  • Increase awareness of the new product by launching an ad campaign.
  • Create a better customer service experience by retraining company representatives.
  • Increasing brand engagement by launching a social media campaign.

Metrics

This section should detail how you are going to measure what the content marketing strategy has achieved in the course of a year or so. These should directly reflect on the goals, objectives and strategies the business has put in place for itself.

It’s important to note that all details included in this section should be concrete and measurable. For example:

  • Awareness of the new product was increased by XX%.
  • Customer satisfaction rating improved from XX% to XX%
  • Sales revenue jumped from XX% to XY%.

Other useful details to have at hand

Once all of this is said and done, there are a few more factors you might have to consider when it comes to a content marketing strategy. A one-page strategy is a great rough guide for how the business should achieve its goals, but you may end up leaving out some finer details that are required to get to the end result.

These include:

The type of content to produce

There are several different kinds of content that can be used to reach the eventual end goals.

  • Blog posts: Blog posts are an excellent way to increase search engine presence and make your business discoverable on the internet.
  • Case studies: Case studies usually coincide with testimonials and are an excellent way to let potential customers know how your customers feel.
  • Videos: Videos have risen to the top of the content marketing world because they are one of the most engaging forms of content that can be produced. According to the data presented by HubSpot, videos are 40 times more likely to get ahead on social media than other kinds of content. Granted, it needs a larger amount of investment, but it has a proportionately higher ROI.

If you want to outsource your content to an expert, find the best essay writing service through essay review and domywriting reviews online. It will help you focus on your core areas and get you better results with the help of professional online writing experts.

To sum up

A Content Management System (CMS) is a program that helps to manage all the content you create and could have a lot of bearing on how your content appears and what kind of analytics you can harvest from your visitors.

Some of the most popular CMSs out there include WordPress, Contentful and HubSpot. Your business strategy might include new ways you can use and implement a new CMS or how you can leverage the power of the old one to your advantage.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lilian Chifley is a digital marketing expert working mainly with online writing services. Her current assignments are with Assignment Masters, Dissertation writing service and Custom writing services. When she’s not at work, she loves to go out for jogging or cycling, read motivational and inspirational books and spend time with her two young daughters.

How To Optimize Your Business For The Digital Age

Nowadays, everything and everyone is digital. But how do you keep up? With a few simple tips on how to optimize your business, moving it online and utilizing the cloud for example, you can be on your way to fitting in seamlessly with today’s ‘phone-zombie’ crowd.

Be Realistic

You have to consider the pros and cons of doing a full-on move to the online world vs. just dipping your toe into the digital revolution. Not every business will need to drop everything and go entirely online, so consider the scope of your business and the degree of change which will be necessary. Taking down a checklist of your personal goals for your company, and seeing how many of these could be made easier or achieved by going online, might help – do you want to reach global customers easily and cost-effectively? A website would be a good idea. Do you want to become a quaint local business, and cater to the surrounding customers? Maybe the internet isn’t quite for you, or at least you shouldn’t put too much of your budget into building the perfect, modern website.

Consider Employees

“Employees are the backbone of your business, so you can’t make any major changes without considering them,” Charlie Miller, a marketer at Lastminutewriting and Writinity, says. “If you have a fast-paced, modern set of staff, then they will, most likely, have no problem with some hardware and software updates, and will most probably welcome the modernization. However, older and more conservative employees may be harder to convince, and need specific training or even just less change altogether in order to keep the office running smoothly.”

Plan Frugally

Of course, moving online isn’t going to be an inexpensive process, but you can make sure that your bank account takes the least amount of damage possible by planning ahead and making your budget stretch as far as possible. If you’re working with freelancers – which is a cost-effective method in itself since it eliminates a lot of the cost associated with traditionally hiring – make sure that you communicate and only hire at a reasonable rate. Hiring someone – traditionally or otherwise – to keep your finances in order might be a sensible idea, so that you don’t splash the cash and end up running low on funds for your business after a digital buzz.

Keep Security In Mind

“Although the internet is a wonderful place, it can also be very dangerous.” Izzy Hicks, a business writer at Draftbeyond and Researchpapersuk, warns. “Hackers are constantly trying to access normal people’s information, so businesses are a higher risk, higher reward target to them. If they can get into your data, which your digital transformation (if you don’t consider security) will give them more access points to, then it could be horrible for your security, and cause you to lose massive amounts of customer trust and possibly even money.” Invest in cyber-security, possibly even hiring some employees specifically for this purpose, to make sure that your digital move is secure.

Work With Your Employees

Not all employees will be as happy about the digital move as you are, so make sure that you don’t just sweep their concerns under the rug and actually deal with them head-on. Staging meetings where all employees are welcome to voice their opinions and ask any questions about the digital move which they might have. If you’re certain about the level of your digital changes, then make sure that you can bring all employees up to speed, and not just some. Everyone needs to feel welcome and like they can contribute and work with the digital changes to the office.

Automation Is Key

Once you’ve started your digital change, something you should consider is automation. Ideally, automation should be so stream-lined and smooth that a customer doesn’t even realize it exists in the first place – the difference between a human response and your automated response should be minimal at best. Emails and social media can benefit from automation, and giving your employees some training on implementing and working with automation could do your business a world of good.

Mobile

Finally, mobile phones are key. Almost everyone now carries a smartphone in their pocket everywhere they go, so you need to take advantage of that and make sure that you are catering to the huge mobile phone-using audience. Many prefer a smartphone over a laptop, so you’ll need to make sure your website is optimised for viewing on a smartphone screen, or perhaps even invest in the creation of an app (which could be commissioned by a freelancer) to appeal to this very modern, digital audience.

Guest Post: About the Author

Ashley Halsey writes professionally at Lucky Assignments and Gum Essays, while being involved in many projects throughout the country, which focus on both writing (and the English language) and business. As the mother of two beautiful children, she is well-used to working through adversity and getting her job done alongside bringing up the kids, and yet she still finds time for travelling to amazing places, reading fantastic novels and attending business training courses – her schedule is almost as busy as the creative insides of her mind, which is really saying something!

 

 

Social Media Tricks That Can Bring a Fresh Breath to Your Business

Growing your small business through social media should not be that stressful. If you know which tools to leverage and you are equipped with ample knowledge of online marketing, especially social media marketing, it will be easier to attract prospects and gain customers. Social media is a huge platform where you can promote your business in fun, simple and cost-effective ways. If you have a small business and want to conquer all social media channels, here are some social media tricks that can bring a fresh breath to your business.

Cinemagraphs

If you want to keep the interest of your prospects online, don’t bombard them with lengthy texts since they will only find these overwhelming and boring. Instead, make visual content your weapon in increasing engagement. For one, use cinemagraphs or still images with some animation. Unlike actual videos, they are very easy to make using programs like Fixel and Fotodanz. Using these apps, you can make beautiful cinemagraphs which your audience will surely find interesting and engaging.

Stock Photos

If you don’t have enough time to take your own pictures or you just want to save some bucks from hiring a professional photographer, you can always take advantage of stock photos. They can increase your business’ visual appearance and make your content more appealing. Stock photos are easy to find, save and upload to your social media page and they have the same quality as the photos taken by professionals.

Hello Bars

Also known as floating bars, hello bars are simply notification bars that prevent your visitors from being disturbed when browsing your page. These will notify your customers and prospects when you are making announcements, offering a lead magnet, showcasing more content, asking your prospects to subscribe to your email list or running a limited-time offer. By using a simple floating bar, you can easily promote your business without annoying your prospects.

Free ‘Click to Tweet’ Option

The click-to-tweet option is a good way to promote your brand and boost your sales. This is free and you can put it on your website or anywhere there is text on your page. If people like your content, they will click it and share it on Twitter, where more prospects can see it. A lot of people use Twitter and when people start sharing your content in this platform, you’ll have a higher chance of gaining customers.

Shopping on Instagram

Every month, more than 800,000 consumers use Instagram to shop and business owners around the world have been using this platform to share their products and stories. Now, you cannot just use Instagram to share content, but you can actually sell your products here. You only need the approval of Facebook shop and you can start tagging your products on your posts. This is a great way to increase your revenue since more people can now see your products and go to your website when they find any interesting item from your shop.

Killer Captions

Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, always make sure that you use killer captions. Don’t post your content right away without making an interesting caption or checking each word you wrote. If you’re not that good with wordplay, you can let your social media manager take care of it or hire a copywriter to improve your captions. Killer captions are made with some storytelling using captivating words. Just make sure the captions are free of clichés and focus on quality instead of quantity.

Catchy Hashtags

Hashtags are also a great way to increase your audience so make good use of them all the time. To garner a broad interest, use popular hashtags in your industry and include your company’s name in the list of hashtags you use. However, avoid using too many hashtags and only put relevant ones. Try to shorten your hashtags since long ones are difficult to read due to the lack of spaces.

Giveaways

Everybody loves freebies and even though giveaways are very traditional, they hardly fail marketers in boosting their sales and engagement. Because people are always on social media, it is a great place to run all these contests. Take advantage of holidays and celebrations and run a contest where you can give some nice giveaways. The rewards may come from your shop or you can also offer other appealing and valuable items. It is also a great way to thank your customers for their patronage and encourage them to buy more of your products.

Fun Facts/Inspirational Quotes

Sometimes, you can rest from posting videos and other visual content. You can also post some fun facts or memes to entertain your customers or share some inspirational quotes to cheer them up. If you’ll notice, most fitness coaches use this trick but even if you’re not in the fitness industry, you can always do this to increase engagement and motivate your customers and prospects.

Guest Post: About the Author

Lidia Hovhan is Digital Marketing expert and SEO guru. She contributes articles about how to integrate digital marketing strategy with traditional marketing to help business owners to meet their online goals. You can find really professional insights in her writings.

A Good First Website Visit: 4 Non-Negotiables You Need

Maybe you’re just about to launch your own business, and the next task on your to-do list is to set up your website. Or maybe you already have a website, but you don’t seem to be getting very many leads from it. The truth is, a good website can make all the difference to the success of your business. And by good, we mean a website that makes a favorable first impression, draws repeat visitors, and leads to increased sales. To make a good first impression, you must insist on several non-negotiable items. We can divide those items between content and design. Read on to learn more.

Content-Oriented Items

Content is king. That is, good content doesn’t guarantee a sale, but bad content invariably costs you one. Good content requires several non-negotiable items.

1.     Language

The single most important item for creating a successful first website visit is the quality of the language you use. Nothing turns off potential customers faster than the poor use of language, which includes:

  • Spelling and punctuation mistakes
  • Bad grammar and syntax
  • Clunky or run-on sentences
  • Passive voice
  • Long paragraphs with too many themes
  • Missing text elements, such as captions

2.     Ideas

The reader wants to feel assured that you are reputable, knowledgeable and worth their time. You can’t achieve this if you litter your website with problems like:

  • Factual mistakes
  • Unclear ideas
  • Unconvincing arguments
  • Unrealistic promises
  • Stupid jokes
  • Unbridled boasting
  • Lack of fresh content every week or two
  • Lack of call to action

Different websites have different purposes. If your purpose is to promote your business, your pitch has to sound convincing. Include evidence to back your arguments and by all means add footnotes and/or links to reputable sources. Humor is a great tool, but a tricky one too, so use it advisedly. Always include a call to action, perhaps backed by a free goodie, such as a special report, eBook, coupon or promotion code.

3.     Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

The most important task in ensuring a good first website visit is a first website visit. Sure, you can pay for ads on Google and elsewhere. But in the long run, you’ll maximize your marketing return on investment by organically ranking high for search engine results on specific keywords. That means creating a website with authoritative content, but it also means making it easier for Google to classify your content. That’s the job of SEO, and includes:

  • Keyword research: Pick three to five keywords that express the purpose of each page on your website. You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to research the most effective keywords and the amount of competition you face for each one. Populate your website content and titles with your keywords. Use them throughout the page, but don’t overuse them.
  • Logical organization: This includes easy-to-navigate menus with well-organized items. It also includes the use of compelling titles and paragraph headings, linkages between different pages on your website, proper use of captions, and creation of a website map that the search engines can easily scan.
  • Technical items: SEO comprises many other technical issues. If you don’t have the expertise yourself, consider hiring an expert to get things right.

4. Design and Style

A well-designed website invites visitors to read the contents. Using thoughtful style elements can draw readers down the page and make information easier to comprehend. Some important items regarding design and style include:

  • Attractive theme: There are thousands of website themes available for free or at a modest cost. You can also use a website builder with built-in themes that are appropriate for your purposes.
  • Interesting style elements: These include your choice of fonts, images, graphics, colors, and on-page organization.
  • Welcoming landing page: Your home page and/or landing pages should be especially strong, with plenty of images to supplement a relatively sparse use of words. Your job is to draw visitors into your website, not bombard them with tons of information on one page.

Conclusion

A good website requires a lot of thought and a fair amount of expertise. If you don’t want to personally handle the task of creating and maintaining your website, consider hiring contractors to help you with content, design, and style.

How to Better Manage Your Online Reputation

The first page of Google results can be dangerous territory. Many web searchers never look beyond the first page when reviewing results from an inquiry. That has profound implications for your business’ reputation, because any negatives that appear on Page One will be seen by the widest audience. Even if the next two pages sing your praises, most folks never see them. So, managing your reputation on social media starts with positive entries on the first page of Google search results.

Reputation Management Firms

Reputation management outfits claim to help clients improve their reputations by suppressing negative information that shows up in response to Google searches. This means pushing unwanted results off of Page One, replacing them with favorable information. Some of these firms charge $5,000 a year and up. However, some are geared to more modest budgets, with services starting for as little as $80. It’s not our purpose to review these sites or pass on their efficacy. However, its hard to understand how the same outcomes can cover such a wide cost range.

Do It Yourself

If you are a hands-on business owner who doesn’t want to rely on a reputation management firm for results, there are plenty of things you can do yourself. These measures might not cause negative information to disappear, but they do offer you the opportunity to present a positive image to the online audience. Here are five things you can do yourself:

1.     Inquire Upon Your Company

Enter a Google search of your business name to see what come up. Also check the image results. You can set up a Google alert when any new content about your company appears. Now you know what you are dealing with and some idea of how much effort it will take to manage your reputation.

2.     Purchase Your Domain(s)

You can buy domain names for as little as $12 each. Some experts advocate you snatch up a bunch of domains, but others maintain that it’s best to buy one domain and use it to establish a good reputation. So if your business is called, say, Chocolate Beagles, you’d want to start with chocolatebeagles.com, and then perhaps get the .net version. You can branch out to chocolatebeaglesonline.com, mychocolatebeagles.com, etc. However, we recommend you start with just one domain and build it up so that it will appear on Page One for a related Google inquiry. If you feel your business name is seriously compromised, consider changing the name and starting fresh.

3.     Load Up the Content

The common phrase is that “content is king.” What this really means is that Google will reward websites that provide authoritative information. You can do this using WordPress, About.me, Tumblr, and website builders like Wix and SquareSpace. Start with general information about yourself and your company, including a discussion of your products and services. But the key is to regularly add blogs and guest articles discussing your industry and related topics in a fair, honest way. Write frequently with authority and Google should reward you. If writing isn’t your thing, hire an expert freelancer.

4.     Use SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization. This is a collection of techniques that helps Google find, recognize and evaluate your website. These are not difficult to learn and employ, but if you don’t feel up to the task, you can use a webmaster to take care of it for you. With good SEO, you can build your brand with positive information.

5.     Scrub the Internet

Remove items on your own accounts that are causing you problems. This includes Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can privatize your posts and limit old posts through appropriate use of privacy settings.

Conclusion

Whether you do it yourself or pay a firm, it’s important to manage your business’ online reputation. It might not be possible to eradicate all negative information, but you can try to crowd it out with positive content that Google ranks highly. In the worst case scenario, you might want to rename your business.