Fourteen Secrets to a Successful Blog

Fourteen Secrets to a Successful Blog

Guest Post By Chuck Ray, Go Wood Blog and Pennsylvania State University Blogging is not a profession I ever imagined undertaking. I initiated Go Wood in 2010 as a method of sharing “a lighter look at the world of wood, forestry, and renewable energy” with the world as a professor of Forest Policy and an Extension Forester for Pennsylvania State University. Now, 335 posts and 514,359 page views later, I’m starting to get the hang of it. Here are 14 things I’ve learned about keeping a blog going and the readers coming: Stay current. Blogging is like exercise…regular application leads to great results, but lags lead to decreased motivation. Don’t wait for “the perfect blog post” to come to mind. Just start working on whatever’s on your mind, and go with it. Some of my most popular posts were spur-of-the minute jobs. Blogging is personal, but don’t take it personally. People have different interests. What one reader finds stimulating will turn others off. Don’t let page view statistics (or comments) hurt your feelings. What I consider my best posts consistently have the fewest page views. Modern readers don’t read. They scan. Therefore, you can write the most eloquent piece of prose, or the most brilliant analysis, but if the topic isn’t directly of interest to the reader, they won’t read it…or they’ll misread it. But for those who do have an interest, they’ll read with a passion and either love or hate. Whichever it happens to be, you’ve fed their emotional and/or intellectual hunger. Pictures work, and they make any post better. The more pictures (or the better the...
Content marketing pays the greatest dividends – three real-life stories

Content marketing pays the greatest dividends – three real-life stories

Content marketing offers three hard to beat benefits over advertising and other marketing techniques: shelf life, web traffic, and stature building. We share three examples of how our clients are maximizing the content development ROI. A lot of companies and professionals think content marketing is too expensive and hard to track for returns. Instead of creating web pages, blogs, articles, emails, fact sheets, case studies, etc. that present in words and images their unique or high-quality offerings, they buy advertising and booth space, trust referrals will keep coming, or spend time and money on membership organizations. These are all legit, but they no longer out pace content marketing, in most cases, when measured against the three benefits listed. If you offer a unique product or service, investing in content marketing is a great method for growing business for overall less cost than most other forms of marketing for three key reasons. Reason #1 – Long Shelf Life Jay Baer nails the number one reason – “content marketing continues to pay dividends forever.” Once you create a template, do the research, and take the time to write and design something and put it out digitally, it lasts forever. This is why parents warn their kids about what they post online. It can work both for good and bad. If you are marketing your business, it’s good. You can always update pieces, which creates another opportunity to connect with your audience. Case-In-Point A consultant wrote articles for an online news source for years. They shifted focus and stopped writing. However, the well-written and researched content comes up on the front page...
End the “I didn’t know you did that” syndrome with an email newsletter: A case study with an insurance sales practice

End the “I didn’t know you did that” syndrome with an email newsletter: A case study with an insurance sales practice

Six words you don’t want to hear from a client or anyone who knows you say – “I didn’t know you did that.” Those words represent missed opportunities for you to help people. Email newsletters are a powerful, low cost, non-salesy way to increase awareness. We work with a client from a large national bank’s insurance services division. He is using a simple MailChimp email template to educate his customer niche and generate new opportunities – all for less than he was spending on traditional advertising with far less results. His formula is simple. A personalized email template with an unchanging header and footer that includes pertinent information A six-month pipeline of great article topics based on key industry trends, common problems customers face, and solutions to those problems Each month the newsletter contains one feature article presented in an interview format. We interview an expert in his industry with him. Then we write up the results in a 600 to 1,000- word article Using MailChimp the newsletter reaches a database of existing contacts. Through built-in analytics we can evaluate open, bounce, and click-through rates as well as unsubscribes, and more Each article is syndicated through the newsletters of his partners boosting his reach within the industry The article is posted to LinkedIn and several “Tweets” can create more backlinks and general exposure After the first month, he had already received an email from the CEO of a company that “didn’t know he did that” but now they do, and are ready to talk. MailChimp is free for distribution lists under 2,000 and the cost for larger lists is...
Three Things Small Business Websites Need from Google Analytics

Three Things Small Business Websites Need from Google Analytics

Guest Post By Gus Kroustalis, Beacon Technologies Every website owner should have a sense of how their site is being used by visitors, how many come, and other factors that help in an evaluation of the site’s effectiveness. You don’t need to be a “Digital Master” to maximize the many free analytical tools offered by Google. Site search, event tracking, and goal conversion are three tools every small business website can utilize for increasing sales. Google offers free website analytics and helpful tutorials for the non-technical person. Almost anyone can implement the analytics tracking code. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I come across many websites that only have the basic tracking in place. With a few extra steps, you can go from seeing basic page view data to much more meaningful and actionable website analytics. My three top picks are listed below. They do require a bit more configuration beyond the base tracking code but are worth the effort. Site Search How do you know how a perspective customer experiences your website? You commissioned the website. Therefore, the website’s navigation and content is intuitive. Site search enables you to see the site from a customer’s perspective. A website manager can use site search reporting to understand what topics are difficult to find on the website as well as content that customers are seeking that may not be provided. With the results, you can make informed decisions about changes to the navigation, home page layout and more. Click here to access the tutorial for setting up site search tracking Event Tracking Does your website have video? Do you...

The difference between sales and marketing

          By Reed Humphrey, VP- Business Develop at Canopy Partners Marketing and sales are different functions within an organization. Marketing puts the ball into play. Sales navigates it into the red zone and ultimately across the goal line. Each area needs distinct strategies and methods for measuring success. Marketing Functions and Strategy Marketing serves three primary functions: 1-Brand development and awareness 2-Education and credibility 3-Lead generation It’s the job of marketing to pass qualified leads or lead opportunities to sales. Marketing is not responsible for closing deals, in most cases. If your company is driven by e-commerce impulse buys, marketing and sales may be one in the same. Regardless of product or platform, every client travels through several stages beginning with unaware and ending with a purchase. Heavily persuasive language is not the way to go in the first stages with customers. For purchases that involve a service or bigger ticket item, begin with education, history, or a story about your service. You are building trust. The digital revolution has created amazing opportunities for inbound marketing. Whatever methods you chose, the key is to help people find you and then exceed expectations. Your website home pages should tell your “story” and build awareness. Landing pages dedicated to specific products should serve the selling function because they are the result of a direct search or click for a specific item or topic. Sales Function and Strategy The Sales team also has three main responsibilities, which are separate and different from marketing: 1- Develop leads into qualified opportunities 2- Navigate the sales process 3- Close deals and...

How and when print fits into your “new” marketing strategy

          Print is not dead. It’s on the rise in a variety ways. Everyone needs a professionally printed and designed business card. From there, your business niche and personal style determines what printed marketing materials are most effective. People don’t meet in person as much anymore, but sometimes they do. We’re all accustomed to receiving emailed documents or learning more at a website. Perhaps all the conditioning to electronic makes print an even bigger attention getter, when done right. The beauty of digital is that everything you produce can be made available in print and electronic. Many people believe that digital content in the form of websites, PDFs, and newsletters is sufficient today. They feel so “old school” handing out a print brochure. Most of us remember the days when you had to print 5,000 to get a price break. The item aged out, but you still had 40 boxes in the storage room. Digital printing made “on demand” and small print runs the solution for the overstock problem. For a while, it seemed offset printing would die out. We are finding that offset printing is coming back and offering prices and quality that give digital printing a run for the money. For the hotshot salesman, carrying around a presentation folder or handful of brochures may feel cumbersome and even too “salesy.” But, there’s a time and place for everything. Keep in mind that all forms of communication about your business, print or digital, should reinforce your brand and facilitate leads and ultimately sales. Here’s our analysis of several print categories and when to employ...