Content Marketing Techniques For Online Success

Content marketing is not only necessary, it is crucial. But, what is content marketing and why is it so important?

There are many names for content marketing. Some of them are corporate publishing, branded media, customer publishing, etc. The best name however, is content marketing.

Content marketing is a marketing technique. It involves creating and distributing (relevant and valuable) content to a clearly defined and understood target audience. Your objective with content marketing is gain loyal customers.

Unfortunately, there are some businesses that have not yet learned the art of effective content marketing. Here are some techniques that can help.

Have you developed a content marketing mission statement?
You need to have a clear vision for why you are developing your content. Before you start, you need to know where you want to go. While developing your content marketing strategy, remember that content marketing is about what you stand for.

Get some interviews
One of the best ways to get fresh, new content is by doing interviews. There are some people who would be very willing to give you some information, relevant to your niche. You can add these interviews on your website, blog, etc., for your audience to see.

Get your employees involved
Instead of you always having to worry about how to get the next best content, start picking the brains of your employees. They deal with customers daily, they know what the customer wants and by now, they know how to get the customer what they want.

Do not leave customer questions unanswered!
The whole point of content marketing is to gain loyal customers by giving them information that they can trust and rely on. However, if the customer can not trust and rely on you to answer their questions, they will not trust your content either.

Be a source of information
If you have not been committed to being the leading provider of information to your customers, start now. This should be your number one priority. When a customer wants to make a buying decision, you should be able to give the sufficient, helpful information needed.

Co-creating
This involves working with non-competitive partners to create compelling content for similar customers. Brand companies are finding it more and difficult to continually produce thought-provoking content, so they are teaming up with other brands in the same industry. This is not a bad idea if you are that position.

Produce helpful content
Take a look a good look at your content: Is it helpful to your audience? Does it improve their lives somehow? Can audiences learn something new from it? Answer these questions truthfully, and make adjustments. Your audience should feel like you have their best interests at heart.

Distribute content effectively
You need to put your content where the target audience will likely see it. Most companies are using social media to share their content, and that is great. They reach a large audience. If your audience is more sophisticated, sponsorships are a great way to share content.

Start Blogging
Blogging is one of the best ways to receive leads, because it is where all your content resides. The best idea is to integrate your blog in your website. Another good idea is to blog more often. Take some time out, twice a week if possible, to blog.

Search Engine Optimization(SEO)
It is no use having great content when no one ever sees it. Learn some basics when it comes to SEO; for example, keywords and backlinks, and how this can drive traffic to your website. You do not need to be an expert, just get involved.

“In most cases, creating a fresh reputation online isn’t very difficult…you just have to know what you are doing and use the proper tools” – Walter Halicki

When you have the right tools, you can make a success of anything. Sometimes it is more of a struggle to find the right tools than it is to actually use those tools.
The internet is a tool any business person can use. Fortunately there are also tools you can use to make the best of the internet. Hopefully the techniques mentioned above are some good tools for you and your business.

Shireen Louw is a copywriter and professional Cape Town based wedding photographer. Check out her latest Zorgvliet Wedding Photography on her blog.

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Deciding Whether Or Not To Hire A Google Adwords Expert

Now that the traditional routes of offline advertising are declining in comparison to the effectiveness of online campaigns, you may have started to explore the possibility of using Google adwords. If you have, one of the main decisions when starting out is whether to hire an expert to setup and help you maintain your account, or take advantage of the free Google Adwords training and certification available and do it yourself. Here we discuss some factors you will have to consider.

If you decide to try yourself, you should be aware that it can take quite a while to master. Therefore it’s probably worth it in the long run if you have the time available. Even if you eventually foresee hiring a consultant, it may also be worth learning about the subject so that you are able to understand the services and what benefits having a consultant offers. If you go down this route, the first place to start is with Google’s adwords training though their certified professional learning centre which is entirely free. Here you have the option of getting certified either as an individual or a company. You can take the course at your own pace and at the end you have the option of taking the certification exam if you choose to do so. The exam itself does cost a small amount to take, but you can always just do the free training and skip the exam if you like. This is the cheapest way to go about learning, but do be aware that setting up adwords campaigns does cost money to run, and if not properly set up, you can end up wasting a lot of money through trial and error.

The exam itself is one hundred questions and requires you to get seventy five percent of the questions correct. When preparing for the exam it is worth making sure you are well acquainted with all the topics described in the learning centre. It pays off not to just rely on the mock tests to get you through the final examination as in some cases the actual exam questions are much more difficult.

Once you have your certification or adwords training under your belt, there are various online marketers who provide courses, sometimes free, which will provide you with extra expertise. Once you’re ready to dig in, it is worth doing some research into what is currently showing up for your own market in the paid results as well as becoming familiar with headings and ad copy. Make sure that you stay up to date with any new developments in adwords by subscribing to alerts and feeds related to the main authorities in the pay per click industry.

If rather than going down the solo route, you would prefer instead to hire a professional to take care of this function, you can browse through the Google adwords certified partners directory where the members of this directory will have passed the necessary qualifications required and will be currently managing at least one or more adword campaigns.

Eilidh MacRae works for Marketing By Web who offer adwords training.

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4 Cornerstones Of Great Company Culture

English: Ken Olsen's primary concern about cus...

English: Ken Olsen’s primary concern about customers and employees “Our Employees are our greatest Asset” was distributed on a coffee mug, to encourage all employees. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To get the most out of you blog you need help. That help can either come in the form of full time staff or contractors. If you are a poor manager your staff are going to leave. This article goes into some points on how to keep good staff engaged and enjoying their work at your company – building company culture.

Why you need a good company culture

I’ve worked for small businesses in a local community, medium-sized businesses consisting of multiple facilities in a small region, and I’ve worked for a large corporation with facilities all over the world. These companies are very different yet they all have one thing in common: culture. Company culture is defined as a set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterize an institution or organization. Basically it is what will drive the company towards sustainability. This culture is formed from the top down and is very difficult to change once norms set in.

I have been fortunate that the companies I have worked for have had very similar cultures and they were established before I became a member of the team. No culture is perfect and there are always things that can be improved upon. However there are many things that I’ve seen in each company that helps set the tone for how they plan to do business. There are 4 key components to any business culture. Some may argue that they are all of equal importance but I feel there is a progression to a good business culture.

Active Community

First, they are active in the community and are conscientious of their affect on it.  Whether it’s fund-raisers for a local charity or scholarships to a local school, the community receives more than just jobs for its population. The other big area a company focuses on is environmental. Yes, companies are required by law to keep track of and report various effects on the environment; these could be waste, air, and water just to name a few. Regulations aside, most successful businesses do not want to negatively affect the community regardless. Being environmentally conscious shows that a company feels that where they do business is an important function of how they do business.

Importance of Change

Second, change must be an integral part of any corporate culture. The mindset should never get to a point where employees feel that it is pointless to bring up new ideas, process, or equipment. A company should never be so comfortable that it feels they are doing everything right. There is always another way of looking at things or a new product out there that may help further the business. Also, if you are afraid of change it will be much harder when the time comes when change is a must.

Treat Employees Well

Third, the way companies treat their employees is very important. It is part of the culture that pulls from other areas but is significant as a whole. How is an employee treated when he brings up a concern? Are employees rewarded for exceptional work? Do the employees feel they can freely voice their opinion on any issue? These are many questions that you can ask about your company and your employees. Employees are the backbone of any company. They are the ones out in the production areas and getting the job done. Day in and day out they often do the same task time after time; who better to get new ideas on how to do their job more efficiently?

Have A Vision For company culture

Finally, safety is the most important part of any business culture. It pulls all the other together and puts the health of the employee above all else. What happens when an employee brings up a safety concern? The worst thing would be nothing happens. This signals to the employee that not only is their ideas not important but neither is their safety. Employees need to know that above all else their health and safety is important. Would you want to work for a company that didn’t care if you left work the same way you arrived? Being safety conscious breeds employee involvement which in turn breeds change. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take action when a safety concern is brought up. It is far easier for a culture to change in a negative aspect than it is for something positive. The worst thing you can here is, “It’s been brought up before but no one did anything about it.”

Notice there is nothing in these parts on profits or expenses. I promise you, if you focus on these four aspects of your business, the profits will come. Goodwill towards the community giving you good standing with the community equals profits. Changing quickly when new process or ideas are brought to the forefront equals profits. Keeping employees involved and showing that you truly care how they feel about the company equals profits. The safety and health of your employees keeps them involved and keeps your good workers on the job…profits. Your company culture is the foundation to sustainability no matter what industry you are in.

Featured images:

License: Royalty Free or iStock source

Tom is a freelance writer for blogs such as problogger.com and www.make-a-web-site.com

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3 Reasons Why Facebook Can Improve Your Business’ Online Presence

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Dave Thomas, founder of the fast food chain Wendy’s, once gave this advice, “What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone. Know your customer. And have a burning desire to succeed.”

However, in today’s digital age it takes one more thing – knowledge of the latest internet marketing techniques. In other words, being a success in business today also means being a success online.
Because so many people are online, the internet provides the best chance of reaching your audience. Being a success online means having people visit your website, and one method you can do that is by using social media networks like Facebook.

Even if you don’t have a Facebook page yourself, chances are you know someone else or even a business that has a Facebook page. It comes as little surprise that as of December, 2012 Facebook had 618 million daily active users. (newsroom.fb.com)

Personal versus Business

Setting up a business page for Facebook is a little different than setting up a personal page. A business page does not have “friends”, but instead allows Facebook users to “like” the page. Using keywords and other information related to your business on its fan page helps people find it.

Using a Facebook fan page for your business allows you to tell everyone who likes the page about upcoming special promotions, schedule changes, and how they can join your email list. The latter is especially important if you are trying to build an email database.

Facebook fan pages allow users to learn about a business in multiple ways. For example, they not only see that Bob and Susan also like the page, but that John and Mary commented about their wonderful experience when using the company’s products or services.

According to Lichtenstein, people in today’s society are relying on things like Facebook fan pages for advertising. This is because unlike outdated methods like the yellow pages which only gave the company information, Facebook fan pages provide up-to-date comments from friends, family, and neighbors.

Everybody’s Doing It

Just because a lot of people are online doesn’t mean nobody reads the newspaper or uses the yellow pages. But the size of the movement towards the trend of using the internet as a primary source of information cannot be ignored.

If you are a business who is still using outdated advertising methods as a sole marketing strategy, perhaps it is time to get social and sign up for Facebook. You can have people like your fan page right from your website, and best of all it only costs a bit of your time.

Learning the Best Social Media Marketing Techniques

A lot of people mistakenly think that online marketing means that you have to spend a lot of money learning how to make your own website or spend a lot of money to have someone else manage a site for you. But many online strategies, like using social media, are completely free.

Because of how many people are online via a computer, tablet, or smartphone, even local businesses are trading in their corner space in the local newspaper for a blog, and radio advertisements for weekly podcasts.

In fact, one way to learn the latest marketing techniques is to listen to podcasts, like Coffee Talk with James Martell which features marketing experts as guest speakers. A recent guest was Stephanie Lichtenstein, founder of Micro Media Marketing.

As James explained at the beginning of the episode, the traditional forms of advertising that businesses have relied on in past decades are no longer effective. People get everything online, including their news, music, movies, and favorite television programs.

And everybody is linked to some kind of social media network. Stephanie went on to explain that there are plenty of reasons why businesses should use Facebook beyond making a personal connection with their consumers based on the statistics alone, including:

  • PEOPLE LIKE WHAT THEY SEE ON FACEBOOK – There are almost 3 billion likes each day. Getting people who walk into your brick and mortar store to like you on Facebook helps you retain them as a potential customer even if they do not visit your shop again.
  • PEOPLE INVEST TIME ON FACEBOOK – People spend about 20 minutes per day on Facebook. Connecting your Facebook page to Google maps, YouTube, and even Twitter increases the chance that people will interact with you via the social media network.
  • FACEBOOK IS GENDER-NEUTRAL – Well, almost. 57% of Facebook users are female while 43% are male. Although many are on Facebook for personal reasons, most interact with business pages as well. This allows you to turn potential consumers into brand-loyal customers.

Facebook is a great platform for internet marketing because unlike other strategies, it only takes time. The only way it costs money is if you choose to pay a nominal fee for advertising, such as promoting a post to increase the chances that people will see it.

Freelance writer Rick Mercado works from the Halifax, Nova Scotia home he shares with his wife where, in addition to regularly updating his Facebook status, he also dabbles in internet marketing. Whenever he finds himself sitting just a little too long, this avid outdoorsman makes time for his two favorite pastimes – kayaking and hiking through the wilderness along Canada’s rugged eastern coastline. Rick is also a huge Canadian history buff.

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6 Tips To Write An Attractive Email for a Better Response

English: email envelope

English: email envelope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Email is a mode of communication which many thought would be extinct by now…but it keeps holding on.  One of the reasons, is it still works.  When you write an email – most times you are looking for the receiver to reply.  There are a few tips and tricks you can use to get better response – here are some ideas to help stop the cold or no-response emails and get the reply you want.

Tip #1: Use catchy subjects and sub-headings for your emails

Its the thing people look at to see if they will even read the email – so it must have an attractive title or subject.  Worse – if you put no subject on your email – it will generally result in people deleting it all together…or worse, getting the [SPAM] tag added.  That’s what we want to avoid.

Buy using a thought out subject and adding breaks in your message with sub-headings, you will find people engage with your email better.  It is extremely important to have several small subheadings in different parts of your email.

We don’t want to write titles with false information – that is deceptive and will cause the reader not to trust us.  That is bad – we do not want readers to feel cheated at the end of the mail.  Keep it sensible, yet captivating – this will make the titles and subheadings in the mail you are send stand out.

Tip #2: Keep a Check on the Length of the email

The length is a big-time deciding factor. Of course, there is no point of sending one-line emails which do not convey anything. The content of your email should deliver what you are trying to say and at the same time it should not jar or annoy the reader with excessive length.

One should not over pack emails with loads of unnecessary information which the readers may not like. In such cases, the recipients may end up deleting your email without even scrolling through it completely. So, what would a perfect email for a better response look like? A proper or effective email will have maximum two paragraphs which comprehensively describe the content of the mail succinctly.

A good rule of thumb is the longer your email, the more paragraphs and space between large sections needs to be.  Sometimes you can use font and bolding to help make your point.  You can even add pictures – but know some people will not see them because they have email pictues block.  (One might do that becuase viruses can be spread that way.)

Tip #3: Always use names in Email for a Better Response

This may not be a very complex thing to understand but it always helps if you address the recipient by his or her name in the emails. Otherwise, he or she may not respond back to it feeling lack of proper acknowledgment.

People usually love it when they are being addressed by their names. We can term it as a psychological catch of sorts, wherein they sense their importance when due respect is given to their identity.

We need to understand that the people to whom you are mailing are also busy bees like us. They need to be motivated in order to go through an irrelevant email which may not be connected to their mainstream interests. How many times have you deleted emails instantly which addressed you as “Dear Client” or “Dear Webmaster”? Think about it.

Tip #4: An appealing first paragraph

Irrespective of the nature of ventures, the beginning is always the most cherished. If you start off your email like a pro, then there is a good chance that the reader will very well read it completely. The best idea is to reserve the first paragraph for user profiling. Details about users can easily be found out these days from social networking websites.

This kind of research will help you build a better rapport with the reader as he or she will be more impressed with the fact that you have researched and hence, spent some time, upon him or her, and that the email is not a randomly sent one.

Tip #5: The Second Paragraph – Just Say It

The parties – the sender and the receiver in this case – are aware of the fact that the email has a purpose and the initial paragraph is just to build a fertile ground of comfort. The second paragraph must be used to speak out the reason behind why you are using email for a better response.

The tone should be profound and you should make sure that you succeed in conveying everything that you planned to. One should not hesitate or stay back from sharing the information. At the same time, one should not go overboard with stuffing of superfluous data as well.

Tip #6: Sleek Ending Note

The ending note in an email ought to have a hammer strong impact on the readers. It has to be crisp and short, in a way that it sums up the entire purpose of sending the email. If you falter in this aspect, then you have to bear the brunt as the reader may not act the way you intended him or her to. Therefore, always make sure that you end your emails in style.

 

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