Archive for the ‘Internet Marketing’ Category

Secrets of a Pinterest Marketer

It’s no big secret that Internet marketers are using Pinterest to drive traffic to their websites and, in turn, are producing more sales and leads.

The big question is how to best use the platform to make the most money, right? Well, I thought I had the answers before. I, like many of you, was under the impression that I should simply create a profile, follow people in my niche, pin as much as possible linking back to my sites, then sit back and wait for the traffic to roll in.

Then, everything changed.

I actually began using the platform a little for myself. I was using it to drool over the latest fashion trends, but I ended up uncovering so much more than that. You see, I began using the platform armed with the knowledge and perception only a search marketer would have. That’s why I noticed certain things that your average Pinterest user would not, and I unearthed a few marketers who are killing it on the site. Let me take you through a case study of one such marketer’s brilliant strategy, and then we can talk about how you can craft one of your very own.

Finding a Market

Of course, it goes without saying that Pinterest serves a very specific crowd. According to ‘Search Engine Journal’ (), the site boasted more than 10.4 million users in June, and it holds the record for fastest growing social network to date. In November, the number of users surpassed 25 million.

There’ve been anecdotal tales of businesses doubling their revenue from traffic sent by Pinterest, and success stories abound wherever this conversation crops up online.

But does every business succeed on Pinterest?

The answer, in a nutshell, is no. Pinterest is 80 percent women, and 47 percent of users are between the ages of 18 and 34. The website is oriented toward crafts, fashion, cooking, and other domestic subjects

Keep this final thought in mind: Pinterest users follow an average of 9.3 retailers, whereas Facebook users only follow 6.9. Retailers on Facebook also heavily incentivize users to become fans, whereas Pinterest users mostly follow retailers on their own accord. This means that Pinterest users are in a much higher buyer mindset as they surf the site – and if you have something they want, they’ll be much more willing to take the action you request of them without so much as a second thought.

Filling a Need

Now that you know the market, let’s talk filling a need. Here’s my personal experience. I’m into Pinterest for one thing: clothes. I like to navigate immediately to the “Women’s Fashion” category and scroll through all the latest pins to find out what’s new. My favorite pins are complete outfits assembled on an entirely white background – I’m not so great at matching my clothes, so I like having others do it for me. I’m not alone in my quest for perfect ensembles – many others on the site have boards with collections of just these kinds of pins… we affectionately call them our “dream closets.”

The people who create these pins do it primarily through a website called Polyvore. The site allows users to scroll through a massive database of clothes from various retailers and piece together outfit collages that they can then pin on Pinterest. However, I recently noticed that some of the outfit collage pins I’ve been finding on Pinterest don’t direct to Polyvore. Instead, I’ve discovered that some are manually made… and they direct to smaller websites.

One night, I was frustrated when I was directed to one particular website repeatedly because the outfits were just so… adorable. I wanted to know where to buy the items in the collages, but I knew it would take way too much Internet research to hunt down each piece. The site owner (knowing this) has a prominently placed opt-in form, and guess what it promises?

Also, guess who signed up to get the info after much frustration? Yup, this girl did. Freaking brilliant.

Disclaimer: This particular case is an example, and honestly, I’m not sure of the legality of this webmaster’s approach. But as you can see, it’s highly effective for affiliates who want to cater to these kinds of niches. Just think if you apply this
technique to something like the Amazon affiliate program. Simply put, if you find a highly sought after set of goods and provide the info for obtaining such goods in exchange for an e-mail address or other personal info, you’re unstoppable.

Keeping Up the Pace

Another thing I noticed is that this particular marketer is highly active on the website. Highly. This person has upwards of 1,000 pins and is pinning more every day. The more you use the technique, the more leads you’ll capture. This, of course, hinges upon your finding a niche with a need and providing content that people will want to repin – in volume and consistently.

Keep in mind that Pinterest uses SkimLinks, so including an affiliate link in your pin is virtually ineffective. What we’re talking about here is enticing people to click through to your site, and then offering them information they want in exchange for their e-mail address. The bigger your mailing list, the more chances you’ll have to send the info they crave (with affiliate links included, of course) and make some serious profits online.

You’re welcome.

About the author: Nell Terry is a tech news junkie, fledgling Internet marketer and staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She thrives on social media, web design, and uncovering the truth about all the newest marketing fads that pop up all over the ‘net. Find out more about Nell by visiting her online portfolio at Content by Nell.

Why You Should Be An Ethical Internet Marketer

The Internet attracts far too many spammers, shysters and people looking for an easy way to make money online. The amount of spam e-mails and blog comments I get is quite ridiculous, and that is with spam protection on both. If you search online you see vast amounts of low-quality, often badly spun content. I would hazard a guess that the majority of people attempting to make money online try to do it the wrong way – and fail. As well as being unethical, these methods just do not make good business sense.

Generally, making money online takes time. It takes time to build traffic and it takes time to build credibility and trust. Most successful Internet marketers don’t make much money in their first two years. Unethical marketers usually don’t give themselves a fair chance to get to this point. Their business usually fails well before the two-year mark.

Even if search engines don’t cotton to the underhand tactics of such marketers, people usually will.

Search Engines

Search engines are constantly tinkering with their algorithms. Why do they do this? To improve their search results for their users. They are getting better and better at weeding out poor-quality spammy sites, and raising the higher-quality sites up the rankings. Search engines will continue to refine their algorithms, probably forever. So even if your black-hat techniques are working now (which most don’t really anyway), you can bet they won’t at some point in the future. All the devious ways you’ve gained links and popularity will be found out eventually and your rankings will one day crash. Then you will be on a forum, like so many others, complaining about Google’s latest update and how “unfair” it is.

Of course you can play the chase game where you use the latest SEO “tricks” and try to stay one step ahead of the search engines. This may be possible, but do you really want to run your business with this uncertainty? You are liable to trip and stumble at some point and, if you do so, your livelihood could disappear overnight.

It’s a far better tactic, in my humble opinion, to provide some great content and build links the honest way with things such as blog carnivals, guest blogging and link baiting. You will never have the threat of your rankings crashing (or at east you shouldn’t) and you can make some good long-term plans to build a solid business. You would have more incentive to pour more time and money into your online business if you knew it would be there for the long haul. Also, you should be immune to search engine updates. In fact, if anything, you should benefit from the updates, as they strive to reward great sites like yours.

People

Most people who shop online will stick to the big, reputable sites such as Amazon. When shopping at smaller outlets, they are far cagier. Most people will not usually buy until they have visited a site a few times. They want to make sure that, for one, they actually receive the good or service and two, that it is of a decent quality.

Having a long-established website can really help with this. Many unethical marketers will have their websites banned, blacklisted etc. and will regularly start over again. As a result, they miss the chance to build a solid foundation of trust and miss out on a lot of sales.

People often do some background research before they buy. They want to know about you before they trust you with their hard-earned cash. It really helps to have a solid Internet presence. Joining forums and social networks, writing guest posts and engaging with people can really help. If they see you are being helpful and are involved, they are far more likely to take the plunge and buy from you. Most unethical marketers don’t and won’t engage with their audience, and if they do it’s not in a positive way that will win them friends. They are too busy hiding from people who they have, in some way, scammed or annoyed.

Final Thoughts

Don’t cut corners. Trying to cheat your way to the top is only cheating yourself out of the opportunity of getting there and staying there. Be an ethical Internet marketer. Look at it as a two-way proposition. You provide value and receive value in return. Do your affiliate marketing the right way. Give away some good value and only sell quality products. Take the long-term view and build yourself a proper business with the solid foundation of reputation. This is what most successful people do online. Your long-term success depends on this.

About the author: Jon Rhodes is a hypnotherapist, musician, and affiliate marketer from the U.K. He is a big advocate of “ethical affiliate marketing,” and firmly believes this is the best way to make money online. Check out his blog to find out exclusive secrets to help you with affiliate marketing.

Nine Reasons for Business E-mail Marketing

Our top nine reasons for business e-mail marketing are:

1. Segmentation – you can deliver different messages to customers and readers tailored to their individual needs.

You can separate those who have bought from you onto one list, and those who are yet to buy onto another list. This is the most important segmentation.

You can further segment both your client list and your prospect list based on age, sex, location and income.

2. You can personalize every message – With e-mail you can write a message that addresses them by name in the title of the message, as a salutation, and several times in the body of the message.

3. Shelf life is longer than a tweet or Facebook ‘like’ – An e-mail remains in your customer’s inbox until they, either open or delete it (although most people will tend to open within the first 48 hours).

It is also simple for readers to forward your e-mail to everyone whom they think could benefit from reading it.

4. You don’t need to spend much – E-mail marketing is very inexpensive. You can host your e-mail list on your own computers or (a better option) use the services of a dedicated e-mail service such as aweber (which we use), GetResponse or others.

5. You control the design – All of the major services come with a variety of templates to get you started and, if you want to brand each e-mail with your own logo and company information, you can easily have a template customized for very little.

6. Statistics
– with e-mail you are able to track click rates, open rates, bounces, subscribers, un-subscribes, social integration, activity on-site – you can view all of this and more.

You can even drill right down to an individual client and establish what they looked at so you know what messages and subjects they are interested in. This information used to take weeks and months to collect when posted mail was all that was available. Now you can have the same information in minutes.

7. E-mail is highly portable
– your readers can view your e-mails on tablets, Smartphones or their desktop.

You can offer your subscribers the option to view a text-only version of the e-mail or full HTML designs.

8. You can build relationships inexpensively
– you can send a welcome e-mail to new subscribers, wish them a happy birthday or give them a sneak peek of a new product or sale before you announce it publicly on the Internet.

Previously, sending such messages cost a lot of time and money in postage costs. Now it’s almost free.

9. Customer feedback – people will tell you things via e-mail that they won’t say in public or on the Internet, particularly if the issue is personal or price sensitive.

Using e-mail surveys or polls is an effective means of finding out what your customers and your prospects really think. Prospect surveys often reveal that your prospects haven’t bought from you because they didn’t understand your offer. You thought it was perfectly clear. They didn’t.

Now you have the opportunity to explain your offer again, in a new way …

About the author:
Roy Preece has been teaching online sales techniques successfully for more than 10 years. Roy successfully trains people on e-mail marketing, Web marketing, article writing, affiliate marketing and joint ventures. For more information, visit http://emailmarketingbuddy.com/

Blogging As Part Of Your Marketing Strategy

Last week, the good folks over at Social Media Breakfast Waterloo were kind enough to invite me over to speak to their members.

The topic was crowd-sourced, and the chosen talk was on how blogging could be used as part of your marketing strategy. Since the audience was made up of every business size, from solo entrepreneurs to SMB owners and C-suite executives, it was a great topic to be talking about.

You can view my presentation below, but i just wanted to highlight the four key points that you can take away for your own blog and marketing combination.

1. Research

One of the most important things you can do before you start a business blog is research whether your customers and audience actually want one. It’s all well and good saying, “Well, our competition has a blog – we should too!”. But that’s just setting yourself up for failure.

Look at your customer base; are they the kind that read blogs? Are they mobile-led (which would suggest a blog-friendly audience)? Are they computer-literate?

A slaughterhouse in Moldova is probably not going to need a blog; a hospitality industry business probably should have one. Ask your customers if they’d be interested in a blog – a questionnaire, an email, when they’re in your store, etc.

Having a ready audience will immediately increase your chances of having a decent corporate blog.

2. Strategy

Just as important as the research angle is the strategy one. If you launch a business blog and you don’t have defined goals with it, you’re just wasting valuable time and resources in maintaining it.

Will it be for lead generation? Will it be to promote your business’ thought leadership? Is it to handle service questions, or give the latest news on product or company updates? Is it to get to know your customers better and what makes them tick?

Have a solid strategy in place on what you want to achieve, and how you wish to achieve it. Then set timelines in place to measure how you’re doing, and adapt accordingly.

You wouldn’t go into business with a clear goal and plan – why would you do anything different with another angle of your business?

3. Consistency

If there’s one thing that blog readers hate, it’s inconsistency. This can be across multiple areas – publishing posts, comment systems (yes, I’m guilty of this one!), voice, editorial, writers and more.

And there’s a simple reason for this – there are currently between 180 and 200 million blogs out there, and reader interest is becoming shorter and shorter as publications vie for eyeballs. So if you’re confusing your reader with ever-changing positions on your blog, they’ll more often than not decide it’s not worth hanging around.

If you want to keep your readers and grow your blog, be consistent.
If you’re going to post once a week, make it the same day and the same time of day. If you’re going to post 2-3 times a week, keep it the same days.
If you’re going to be primarily a text blog, remain that way. If you’re going to be a video-led blog, be that blog. You can mix things up now and again, but keep the prime focus the one you set up yourself up as.
Keep the tone consistent. if you’re going to be a serious blog, remain in a serious tone. If you’re looking to show the fun side of your business, highlight that with pictures and a lighter tone.
If you keep to the goals you set out with, and the way you set out reaching them, it’ll cause less confusion and encourage readers to stay with you.

4. Measurement

One of my biggest bugbears is when I speak with business owners and ask them about analytics and measurement, and how they’re tracking their success based on their goals, and they reply with a blank stare and an, “Uh….” soundbite.

If you’re not tracking your activity, how do you expect to know if you’re succeeding; where you’re succeeding; where you need to adapt and more?

The best of it is, you can track all this stuff for free (with the exception of cost of man hours to do so).

About the author: Danny Brown is co-founder and partner at the SRM Group, offering smart marketing and social media business solutions with a socially responsible twist.

His blog is featured in the AdAge Power 150 list as well as Canada’s Top 50 Marketing Blogs, and won the Hive Award for Best Social Media Blog at the 2010 South by South West festival.

SEO vs Search Engine Marketing vs Social Media Marketing

SEO, SEM, and SMM – these three terms have been thrown around a lot and often are used alongside one another. SEO and SEM have often been used interchangeably. So what’s the deal with these concepts? How are they alike, and how, exactly, are they different?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO refers to the techniques and strategies used to increase the likelihood of a website appearing in search engine results as close to the top of that list as possible.

Search engines prowl the Web, taking note of everything they encounter. When a user makes a search query, the search engine’s algorithm spits out a list of what it thinks are relevant results.

In this situation, the search engine is the deciding factor. It holds the position of strength. All you as website owner can do is ensure your content is sound, good and proper and trust that the search engine will recommend it whenever appropriate. But in today’s online marketplace there is lots of competition, so it’s not enough to just make the list; a website has to stay near the top. Anything too far down the list of results and that website might as well have never been displayed in the first place. Being buried on page three or later is akin to being completely out of sight and, subsequently, out of mind.

SEO is one way to make your website as attractive as possible to search engines so that when they output their search results, your website is as visible as possible. These techniques consist of:

o Internal tweaks to ensure the code adheres to Web standards and is easily accessible to search engine-indexing efforts.

o Internal metadata specifically meant for search spiders to read and catalog.

o Using the right keywords within the website’s content so search engines will more strongly associate those terms with the website.

o Submitting sitemaps, or complete “roadmaps” of a website, directly to search engines so they don’t have to work as hard to ‘discover’ your site.

o Accumulating reputable backlinks, or links to your website from others, that search engines recognize as marks of distinction and, therefore, worthy of higher search result placement.

o Fresh and interesting content that brings in traffic and makes your site increasingly prominent in use, thereby aiding in its search result placement.

As a whole, SEO focuses on attracting natural, or organic, search traffic. These techniques work to persuade search engines to better rank your website and/or garner more Web traffic. It happens naturally, through subtle and constantly dynamic self-tweaks and efforts of self-promotion. This is in stark contrast to…

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is an umbrella term that encompasses all efforts to garner search engines’ attention and gain higher search rankings. SEO is a part of the greater SEM campaign. Like optimization, SEM includes using keywords and link popularity to increase a website’s exposure.

However, SEM does include strategies that are somewhat distinct from SEO. While the latter focuses more on acquiring search engine attention and hits through natural means, SEM includes paid direct inclusion in search results. Search engines provide this option as a way for quality results to stay floating at the top (because in most instances, spammers would never wish to pay) and to collect revenue for themselves. These paid search results remain near areas of prominence on the search results page, often paired with key search words so they’ll appear whenever those words/phrases are queried.

Buying the opportunity to appear with these keywords can, potentially, be quite costly and, subsequently, the keyword industry is very profitable for search engine companies like Google. There can be intense competition just for access to keywords themselves. For the most popular and common key terms and phrases the prices can be so high that only large enterprises can afford any prolonged campaign using them.

These paid links can sometimes work in minor conflict with really good SEO. Because SEO is organic and normally non-paid, if optimization efforts are exceeding expectations, it is possible for a website to be dominating the top of a search result page while at the same time paid links for that same website are appearing next to the normal listings. In this instance, the company is wasting money; and across large enterprise campaigns this can amount to large sums of money down the drain.

For this reason, SEO and paid SEM efforts must be balanced, so that one does not overwhelm the other.

Social Media Marketing (SMM)

SMM does not involve search engines, but does play a key role in a website’s exposure and online marketing efforts. Whereas dealing with search engines requires a delicate and constant adjustment of subtle factors (SEO) or costly premiums (SEM), working through social media is relatively cheap and holds the promise of incredibly lucrative growth, if done properly.

Having seen the power and reach of viral content, companies have flocked to the social Web to use “online word-of-mouth” for their own branding efforts. This includes having a corporate presence on:

o Social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter
o Streaming video services, like YouTube
o Location check-ins, like Foursquare
o Image sharing, like Instagram and Pinterest
o Blogs

Social media allows for information to spread exponentially, allowing company-advertising efforts to spread very quickly to like-minded audiences as a result of the efforts of the viewers themselves. Companies can also use social networks and social website components (like comment systems) to establish a more personal engagement with users, increasing the feeling of customer loyalty, brand awareness and direct customer support.

SMM should not be confused with social media optimization (SMO) that, like SEO, uses specific techniques, methods, and key terms to promote Web traffic and awareness. Whereas SEO works through search engines, SMO works through social media. Successful SMO does impact a website’s search rankings since positive social feedback in the form of Likes, Shares, +1?s, etc. are considered as marks of quality for a website, increasing its search rankings and thereby impacting its SEM.

Search vs. Social

Search engines have traditionally been the focus of online advertising and marketing efforts. Since the arrival of social media, however, more attention has been levied toward social networks as an additional venue in which to garner user attention.

People used to spend much of their time on search engines to find information and content. Now people spend much of their time on social networks to interact with one another and to look for sources of content.

Social marketing holds the allure of a more “grassroots” form of exposure, at least compared to the monopolies held by search engines. Many companies consider advertising on social media to be far more direct. Instead of dressing themselves up to be attractive to search engines to get in front of viewers, websites can now appeal directly to the users at the place where those users now spend much of their time.

But while social marketing doesn’t hold the same monetary costs as dedicated SEM campaigns, they do require large amounts of time and co-ordination. Also, if a social media campaign backlashes, there can be direct impact on the company’s online brand and presence. Botched search engine marketing campaigns on the other hand only offend the search engines not search engine users.

Will social marketing make search engine efforts a thing of the past? Not completely. The Web is still a large and ever-expanding place. Social media is great for finding some sources of content, namely stuff already within your sphere of interests and knowledge. But this hyper-personalization isn’t as adept at serving fresh avenues of new subjects. Research into previously unknown topics remains best done via search engine, not by scanning Facebook Timelines or Twitter feeds.

Do you think social will ever completely overtake search? Or will SEO, SEM, SMM, and other marketing strategies begin to merge, or grow only more distinct?

About the author: Vince Ginsburg is a web designer and blogger for Corsair Media Services, which specializes in online marketing strategies and development. He doesn’t just look at the current state of the Web to figure out what’s going on, but tries to understand why it’s happening. Always eager for discussion, you can find him at his company blog or Facebook.

3 Massive Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

Just the other day I was on a call with some of my clients who shared some of the recent successes that have come their way: going from zero to six clients, being able to leave a soul-sucking job, signing a contract worth five figures and so much more.

To step into results just like they shared with me, it makes sense that you too want to have the practical aspects in place for business success.

The best place to start is to learn about the three massive marketing and selling mistakes most creative entrepreneurs make and, most importantly, how you can avoid them.

Massive Marketing Mistake No. 1: You never or barely ever ask for business.

If you spend a lot of time behind your computer, having pretty marketing tools but no direct call to action, then you aren’t really marketing.

Or maybe you do get out there to a networking event but you don’t invite anyone to have a potential client conversation with you. Maybe you’re embarrassed or think that you’re being pushy.

Or here’s my favorite sabotage story: “my marketing is going to be word-of-mouth. I want to be that type of entrepreneur.” Here’s the thing; “word-of-mouth marketing” actually has the least amount of energy according to the energetic spheres of marketing influence.

Or maybe you give a sample session — but that just gives away your service. You’ve got to stop that right now; that’s a lot of time and energy and no money. It’s no wonder you’re feeling exhausted and resentful and maybe even questioning your worth.

Let’s understand why and what’s really happening here. What I see with so many entrepreneurs is that success can be so scary that they invite in sabotage to blow it. The fear that if you have success, then you’ll lose it is great. You’d rather complain about not having the success than go for it and realize your worst fears: that you actually can’t have it. Does that make sense?

The key to move away from this mistake: change the story. Stop acting from a place of sabotage.

You can start right now by living your way into it by asking for business. This was tremendous for one of my clients who currently is a Spiritual Leader, private mentor client. When she and I first connected, she was super-super busy — she was exhausted.

She did not have income; she was barely making anything.

She’ll happily tell you now that was a hobby — her bank account

currently has mid-five figures in it and she just signed on a five-figure client. It’s super-super important that we are able to differentiate between being busy and being in business. One of the keys is asking for business.

Massive Marketing Mistake No. 2

You assume you understand your client’s problem.

When you speak to your potential clients, you’re trying so hard to get it right and not wanting to seem pushy that you miss what’s going on for your prospects. You assume you know why they are inquiring about the service you offer — because this is your area of expertise. Most of the language you use is about you, what you have to offer and how you can offer support.

But, a powerful connection is not happening, and then you’re right back to feeling frustrated when another client does not sign on. You may even be angry when that happens; any of this ringing true? If it is, just acknowledge it and write it down. That’s the first step to creating change.

Why is this important? The reason anyone buys anything is because of how they believe it will make them feel. If you have a true connection, it shows you value the other person, that you really want to understand what’s going on with them, which fosters feelings of trust and security. This is the bottom line.

When you can really master this, you can move from convincing energy to curiosity energy which is the direct route to true connection and true connection is the key to unshakeable confidence.

Massive Marketing Mistake No. 3

You avoid activating the client’s commitment.

This is about avoiding receiving payment right up front as part of your system, when someone says ‘Yes, I want to work with you.’

Bottom line, commitment is one of the highest energies of all and the way we activate commitment in our society is through financial investment. Without commitment you are fundamentally ambivalent. And, for your unconscious mind, this keeps everything at bay. You wonder why clients disappear or why prospects don’t follow through and show up for the call they said they want to have. Why are clients not following through? Because you let them.

If you do not receive a financial commitment, you are actually creating a disservice for your clients. You may tell yourself you’re being flexible, trusting, easy-going, but the truth is, you are being ambivalent. So if I haven’t made it clear already, it’s super important to activate the commitment. First and foremost, it raises your energy and when you raise your energy, people are naturally attracted to you and it starts to feel seamless and so easy. It’s the secret ingredient to marketing and selling, right there. You’ll begin to experience instant manifestation abilities.

When you hold standards, your clients rise to meet those standards, and again, your service begins before the first session. It begins in your marketing, it continues during your selling conversation and it completes when you render your service. When you go above and beyond, above and beyond results are brought back to you.

Your Call To Action:

1) Ask for business.

2) Be curious! Never assume you understand your client’s problems.

3) Activate commitment.

What needs to be in place to create a significant shift away from these mistakes and into prosperity all around? The key is a combination of the inner and the outer; it’s not one or the other, and this is a mistake that I see so many entrepreneurs make. They either wing-it or script-it but, the truth is, you need both.

About the author:
Heather Dominick is the creator of the EnergyRICH(r) Entrepreneur Success System and EnergyRICHcoach.com, a company devoted to teaching coaches, healing practitioners and creative entrepreneurs how to partner Universal Energetic Principles with practical step-by-step ”How-Tos” to make more money in your business so you can better serve the world. Get started right away with your free EnergyRICH(r) Success CD: http://www.energyrichcoach.com

Bloggers: 8 Tips to help you attract more readers, sales and business leads

If you write a business blog and would like to see better results from it, I believe you will find the following 8 blogging tips really useful. They are based on my own experiences, having grown Jim’s Marketing Blog from zero, to one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs.

Let’s get started with tip number 1.

1. Write when you have something useful to share. Be useful often

Very few bloggers seem to understand one of the most basic facts of blogging. It’s simply this: You can’t expect people to keep returning to your blog, if you don’t.

For example, if a reader finds a new, useful post on your blog today, then returns in a few days and there’s nothing new, then returns a few days later and still nothing new – you stand a great chance of losing their interest. Conversely, if they find something useful on your blog every few days, they’re extremely likely to keep returning. That’s how you become part of their world. That’s how they start getting to know you.

When you publish posts infrequently, it’s almost like starting from zero each time. There’s little if any momentum: Momentum is essential if you want to grow your readership.

I often hear people claim that they just can’t find useful topics to blog about, on a regular basis. The thing is, these same people have no trouble finding useful things to say to their clients, contacts and friends, every day! Writing is like talking. If you can talk regularly about your topic, there’s no reason why you can’t write about it too. I believe everyone can think of something useful to share at least a couple of times a week.

The next tip takes this one step further.

2. Write as closely as you can, to the way you speak

Have you ever noticed that when you read the best blogs, it almost feels like you can hear the blogger speaking the words to you? That’s because these writers have discovered, that when you write similarly to the way you speak, you make it easier for people to connect with the person behind your posts.

In fact, allowing your personality to shine through your written words, may be one of the best kept secrets of the most successful, prolific bloggers.

3. Avoid writing ‘me too’ blog posts

Some bloggers will only write posts, which agree with what almost everyone else in their space is saying. By adding nothing new, you give people nothing to connect with. You look like a sheep. Always look for a way to add something of your own, something that shows your readers what you think and what you feel about the topic.

4. Aim to be useful

The most widely read blog posts are those, which people find useful in some way. So, give your readers something they can take away from the post and put into action.

Give them an idea, which they can chew over and then draw their own conclusions.

Give them a fresh way to look at an old challenge.

In a nutshell – The more useful you are, the more valuable your blog will be to your readers.

5. Focus on them

Yes, it’s nice occasionally to write about yourself, but if you really want to engage your readers, you need to focus on them. Talk about what’s happening in their world. Offer answers to the problems facing their industry.

There’s a big difference between writing posts that just talk about you, your product and how amazing you are – and writing posts that are all about being useful to the reader, yet contain lessons from your own experiences. In fact, it’s a great idea to share your own experiences, when offering useful examples to help make a point. I’ve done it a few times in this post. Your readers will value learning what happened when you did XYZ – it could save them time and money.

The key is to ensure the focus of the post is on helping them, rather than bragging or pushing sales pitches at them!

6. Don’t try and sell in every post

You write a business blog and the purpose of the blog is to help you build your business. It’s essential to write posts, which promote your products or services, but you need to get the balance right.

In my experience, the vast majority of your posts should be designed to offer independent value to your reader. By independent value, I mean the reader should be able to get something useful from your posts, without having to buy something from you or hire you. I write just a few posts a year, which exclusively promote my marketing services. These are sometimes called conversion posts. All the hundreds of other posts are me offering independent value.

I’m not suggesting you write as few conversion posts as me, but remember that there’s a reason people skip the ads on their TV’s. They watch TV for the programs, not the commercials. Too many conversion posts and you’ll find it extremely hard to build a great readership.

N.B: One of the reasons I write so few posts that promote my marketing services, is that I include a small excerpt at the bottom of my posts. This has a link you can use, if you want to know how I can help you grow your business or build a successful blog. Readers know it’s there and can ignore it, until they want to find out more. It’s out of the way, until it’s needed.

7. Keep it human

If you want your readers to connect with you, you need to be approachable. The reader needs to know that if they email or call you, you will welcome them. This means humanizing the relationship between you and your readers.

Here are a few examples, based on what I do.

I respond to every comment, which needs a reply.

When I reply, I try and always include the name of the person who commented.

If I notice someone commenting here for the first time, I welcome them to the blog. And I genuinely mean it.

Everyone who reads this blog via email, can send me a personal email, by simply replying to it! Your reply goes direct to my inbox, so we can have a more private connection. If it isn’t spam, they get a response and they know I love to hear from them. Many readers exchange emails with me several times a week. It’s wonderful. I love hearing from you. If you’d like that deeper connection with me, you can get all future posts via email, for free, by subscribing here.

8. Never aim for perfect

If you do, you’ll seldom publish anything. The perfectionist mindset places the bar impossibly high. It tells us that we have to cover every point, counter every possible argument and do all this, in an engaging way. I’ve written thousands of blog posts and not only are none of them perfect, none of them would ever have been published had I been aiming for perfect.

That’s the thing about the perfectionist mindset. It stops us from even getting started.

Here’s what we know about your marketplace: None of them are expecting perfection from you. Not one. As I mentioned earlier, what people want is something that’s useful, something of value. Something they can quickly read and get at least one insight, answer or nugget of information from.

In closing

A business blog can either be a waste of time or an enormously valuable business asset, depending on what you do with it. I hope you find something here, which helps your blog join the latter of those two groups.

To your success!

If you’d like us to work together on the development of your blog and marketing, read this.

About the author: Jim Connolly has worked in marketing for 24 years and had his own successful marketing business since the mid 1990′s. Jim is known worldwide for his ability to help small businesses make massively more sales and boost their profits. Although Jim now works exclusively with small businesses, he has worked with people from some of the best known companies in the world. These include; The BBC, Disney, Rothschilds, Mitsibishi, Hewlett Packard, Edelman and AWD PLC plus many more. To see how he can help your small business, visit his blog at Jim’s Marketing Blog.

20 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest

Pinterest opened for business in 2010 and, in 2011, Time Magazine listed Pinterest in an article titled “50 Best Websites of 2011.” It quickly rose to be one of the top social media sites.

Part of the reason for Pinterest’s fast ascent to fame is its aesthetic appeal. You can use images and combinations of images to make your “pin board” look great. Everyone feels positive when they create something beautiful. This is why people love Pinterest.

Here are 20 ways you can start adding Pinterest to your social media marketing mix:

1. Make your profile name the same as your business name.

2. Remember to write a small paragraph about you and your business in the “about” box on your profile.

3.
Connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to your Pinterest account and share your pins there.

4. Add your URL to your profile.

5. Comment, repin, and “like” pins from other people. This will grow your followers and content.

6. Remember to pin your videos too. You can do that from YouTube.

7. Put a description with your image and put your business name in the description. This will stay with your pin if it is re-pinned, which will help you go “viral.”

8. Use the embed option in Pinterest to publish pins as content on your website.

9. When writing your blog, use pictures and pin them using the “pin it” button. This will link back to your blog.

10. Add a “follow me on Pinterest” button to your blog.

11. Use good keywords in your description of your pins so that they can be found in a Google search.

12. Find your Pinterest page’s RSS feed. Click the RSS feed symbol which can be found under your profile photo and use it the same way that you use other feeds.

13. If you have a WordPress blog, use the Pinterest widget to show your latest pins.

14. If you have staff, add them as contributors to your boards. Your boards will look good and your staff will love doing it. You can have a contest for the best board.

15. If you sell products, you can create prices for your pin. Just add the $ or £ sign followed by numbers in your description. These pins then could be featured in the “Gifts” section on Pinterest.

16. You can create a pinboard that tells your company’s story and use it as part of your sales process.

17.
You can pin tutorials or “how to” infographics on your board.

18. Create a board with photos of your company’s team members. Write a bio in the description of each photo.

19. You can curate pins just like you curate articles and news. If you are a trusted source for information and resources, you will attract more followers.

20. A testimonial board or contest board can be created with testimonials from your clients or pins of your images that they find inspiring.

Pinterest is not only a winner in the social media game, it can increase the flow of traffic on your blog or website. Start using Pinterest today to engage with customers and create beautiful pinboards to share your content in various ways. You will increase your social media reach, leads, traffic and sales as a result.

About the author: Hannah du Plessis is an online marketing specialist and copywriter. Visit Attraction Marketing today and receive a FREE Report: “10 Magnets To Attract Clients.”

Guest Blogging: Spam or Solid Marketing?

If I told you there was a way to get other webmasters to post your link on their sites for free, would you say I was a spammer or a smart Internet marketer?

Sadly, either answer can be correct these days.

There are many types of obvious spam lurking on the Web, such as badly-spun blog articles and comments, most of the e-mails in your junk folder and articles that are poorly-disguised sales copy rather than informative content.

So, where does guest blogging fall on the spam-o-meter? That depends upon how you use it.

Make no mistake, guest blogging can be an incredibly powerful way to gain exposure for your business.
When authoritative websites in your niche publish your thoughtful and insightful guest posts, you can show a brand new group of people just how knowledgeable you are – and give them a link to click at the bottom, so they can find out all about you.

The important words here are “thoughtful,” “insightful” and “knowledgeable.” If your guest posts don’t offer those traits, you’re really no better than the spammers who are filling up your junk folder.

After all, if you’re not providing valuable information and expertise, how is your guest post helping anyone? Even if the blog owner agrees to publish it, it’s a waste of space. People aren’t going to learn anything from it, and they’re certainly not going to be impressed by it.

They will see right through you – that you aren’t working in their best interest. Readers know when you simply slapped some words together without the benefit of research or thought, simply to attach your link at the bottom.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, search engines will also see your efforts for what they are.

Google is especially interested in quality content these days. Why do you think so many websites have been Panda-ed?. They’re trying to get a Google rank without putting in the work. In today’s SEO, that just doesn’t cut it.

So, how do you make sure your guest blogs are considered smart marketing instead of spam? Put yourself in the minds of the readers.

Would you want to read the same old re-hashed gibberish over and over again? Of course not. Instead, you want to read something that’s legitimately going to answer your questions and solve your problems. You want to read something that’s chock full of facts – not a piece of fluff that’s only purpose is to set up a link.

You also want to read articles that are relevant to you right now. It really doesn’t matter how things were done years ago (or even months ago, in some niches). All that matters is the here and now. You need to know what kind of developments and advancements are changing the game – no matter what “the game” is!

And, of course, you’re going to want to read something that’s interesting. All of the important facts and figures in the world won’t keep your attention all by themselves.

OK, now put your writer’s hat back on. How do you actually create guest posts that do all of that?

You have to start by being on the pulse of your industry. Keep tabs on big and small changes that can affect your readers. Then, when something does change, research it. Find out exactly what it means.

After that, take your research and make it interesting. You’ll only have a few seconds to grab people’s attention, so choose your words carefully.

And, finally, don’t assume you can pay a cheap writer to do all of this for you. If there’s anything you should know by now, it’s that cutting corners and success don’t mix.

About the author: Manish Pandey is an internet marketing consultant. He helps business owners to successfully build strategies for their internet business. He recently started guest blogging opportunity on his blog where you can submit your knowledgeable, thoughtful and insightful articles.

10 Ways to Make Your Business More Social

Large companies have been utilizing social media for years to interact and engage with consumers. Small business owners are beginning to realize the benefits of getting social with their company. Your small business can reach more potential customers and strengthen loyalty with current ones by maintaining an active online presence.

If you’re thinking about getting your business into the social media world, here are ten things you can do to get more social:

1. Social Share Marketing Materials

Think of all the printed materials you use for marketing purposes: flyers, coupons, sales brochures. You use them to hand out to potential and current customers. You can also share those things online through sites like Scribd and SlideShare to allow easy access and sharing.

2. Claim Your Name

Use your company name for all of your social media sites. This uniformity will reinforce your branding and prevent anyone else from using your name as their own. You also want your profile picture to be the same throughout or at least very similar. It can be your logo or mascot, whichever you prefer.

3. Social Signature

Aside from including your social media buttons on your websites, it is also a great idea to include them in the signature of your emails. Consider how many emails are exchanged with customers. Each one is an opportunity to get more people to engage with you on the social networks you are active on.

4. Track Your Traffic

Knowing where your website traffic is coming from can give you greater insight that is helpful for your marketing strategy. For instance, if you know that the majority of your visitors are coming through Facebook, then you will know to focus more attention on engaging with people there.

5. Be an Active Listener

To continue building up your audience through social media, you need to set up “listening posts” in order to stay current on what is trending and what your target following is talking about. This can be done with the help of free online tools like Boardreader, Alerts Grader and Twitter Search.

6. Get LinkedIn

Your company needs to set up a profile on LinkedIn. You can post updates and keep your business information current. You can join groups that are in line with your business and start networking.

7. Set Up a Company Blog

Having a blog as a part of your website is an excellent way for your business to share information with site visitors. You can write about industry news, new products and reviews. Include videos and photos to add interest.

8. Create an Exciting Work Environment

Take a cue from companies like Zappos and Amazon, which have embraced a livelier company culture. Customers want to know that they are doing business with a company that has enthusiastic employees. Make sure you are creating an environment that fosters that kind of culture so that you have both happy employees and happy customers.

9. Get Your Staff Involved

Pass on all that you learn about the do’s and don’ts of social media to your staff members and encourage them to take part in creating a more social business. Have them contribute to the company blog or update the Facebook status. Some of your best ideas may come from your staff so don’t overlook them as a resource.

10. Time It Right

When posting, it is important to know the best time of day to post so that you know you are getting the best response. Do some research to know what the best time is for your posts. Your target audience may be at work from 9-5 so you might not see a lot of engagement during those hours. Find the right time and you will see more interaction from followers.

Is your business ready to get social? What questions would you ask a social media expert to help get you started? Share with us!

About the author: Dawn Pigoni of Be Social Worldwide is a certified social marketing specialist and a social media virtual assistant. Dawn offers superb social networking, social marketing and social bookmarking to WAHMs, Small Business Owners, Internet Marketers, Affiliate Marketers, and Coaches who desire to bring stunning internet presence through social networking to their businesses. Get Dawn’s free report, Social Networking today & see how she can assist you with being Social Worldwide!