5 keys to easy small business content marketing

Guest Author, Courtney Ramirez

Publishing quality content can help your small business get new leads, develop a bigger presence online and convert more prospects into clients. But the process of planning, creating and distributing content can be a tall order for many small businesses who have limited resources.

An outstanding content marketing plan doesn’t have to be out of your reach! By following these keys you can put content marketing to work for your small business.

1. Get clear on your content budget.

There are literally dozens of different content pieces that you can use to market your business online – and that doesn’t count all of the distribution methods you can use to get your content out there. It’s a bit like going shopping at Costco. Before you know it, you’ve turned a short trip for ice, bulk candy bars and a new Magnum flashlight set into a $200 excursion.

Setting a clear budget for content will help you spend your marketing budget wisely and narrow in on the techniques that will be most effective for your business.

How much should you spend on content marketing? According to a recent survey from the Content Marketing Institute, 27% percent of businesses spent 15 to 30% of their marketing budget on content development. Small business marketing budgets are typically 8% of revenue. So for a small business with yearly revenue of $250,000, a monthly content marketing budget would be around $550.

Of course you may need to invest more initially for new content marketing plans and development. But having a clear figure in mind before you start developing content in house or looking to outside providers can help you stay focused and spend wisely.

2. Know your customer.

Your content marketing has to be customer-centered to be effective. Content marketing isn’t a promotional brochure. It’s a way to connect with your audience and help them solve problems with information. You can’t create content that is all about you and you alone.

Your job with content is to provide the information that your customers are looking for in a way that is attractive to them. For example, your customer does a search for “fax machines” and you have a high ranking article titled “5 Things to Look For in New Fax Machines.” They read your article and are impressed with your small office supply store’s insight into buying a fax machine. They explore the rest of your site and sign up for your weekly newsletter with more informative articles and regular deals. Then they become a customer.

Apply the same strategy to your own business. Figure out what your customers need to know and create content that responds to those needs.

3. Repurpose wherever you can.

One of the biggest challenges that small businesses face in content development is time. They don’t have enough time to actively create multiple content pieces each month. An effective content marketing strategy requires consistency – but repurposing can help you bridge the gap between what you should be publishing and what you can spend on content development.

Repurposing isn’t about copying someone else or repeating yourself endlessly. With repurposing, you can take one piece of content and make it stretch. Just like you’d make spaghetti sauce and then use it with several different meals, you can create an ebook and then draw several blog posts out of the content. You can then turn those blog posts into fodder for your email newsletter and use tips from the blog posts for your social media updates.  It’s less work for you and you’ll get more content to keep your marketing machine going.

4. Don’t be afraid to curate!

Although it’s important to create your own content for your small business, you can also supplement your marketing with strategic curation. Curation is sharing helpful content created by other people.

Curation can be as simple as highlighting blog posts from other companies on social media or as complex as creating a blog post or white paper that reviews content from others. Not only does curation help round out your content schedule but it helps “spread the love” around. If you’re sharing content from related companies, they’ll be more likely to share your content with their fans and followers.

There are several different tools and platforms that can help you become a content curator. Google Alerts is a good way to start. Once you’ve started to see what is out there, you can use more sophisticated tools like Paper.li, Scoop.It or Storify to easily capture and share relevant content.

5. Support content with social media.

If a great article is published online and nobody read it, is it really that great? Content marketing and social media go hand in hand. You need to support your content marketing plan with regular social media usage.

Develop a following on Twitter and Facebook, at a minimum (LinkedIn if it’s appropriate) and then update your fans and followers when you post new content. Look for opportunities to post your content on additional sites or guest post with related businesses.

Small business content marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you follow these five keys. Take time to map out your content budget, get clear on what your customer wants to know and then use repurposing, curation and sharing to make content marketing work for you.

Courtney Ramirez is a certified SEO copywriter and content marketing consultant. As a student of search engine marketing, web usability and social media, she’s been able to craft a writing style that is both inviting to readers and ranking factors. After dabbling in print journalism, she’s written exclusively online since 2005 and manages a small team of excellent writers at Six Degrees Content.

Ramp up your SEO copywriting career! Sign up for the SuccessWorks’ Content Into Cash Business Bootcamp to learn everything you need to know to run a profitable copywriting business.

Sell more stuff using the principle of scarcity

scarcity-1Are you looking for a way to prompt your prospects to “buy now?”

Maybe you should make your product or service less available.

In today’s “I can get anything I want anytime I want it world,” an approach like that seems counter-intuitive. Yet, the psychological principle of scarcity is alive and well online – and many top retailers are making lots of money from it every single day.

What’s the principle of scarcity? According to Robert Cialindi, author of Influence: Science and Practice, we are more sensitive to potential losses than potential gains.  That is, if an opportunity is less available to us, we want it much, much more.

(If you’ve ever turned down someone for a date – and then found that person more attractive when they started dating someone else –  surprise! That’s scarcity in action.)

Online retailers use this all the time. For instance, I was searching for comforters online. I surfed to Overstock and saw that they were featuring something similar to what I wanted! Joy! Here’s the picture:

scarcity-2

Here’s what was going through my head the second I saw the picture: “Wow, this is only available for a limited time. Maybe I should snap it up now.”

I was primed to make a purchase even before I read the ad copy. Wow.

I almost fell for the principle of scarcity.

And yes, you fall for this too. Ever snap up a Groupon because buying it tomorrow would be too late? Or a pair of shoes from Zappos because there were only two pairs left in stock? Some retailer business-models, like Gilt.com and Wines Til Sold off, completely revolve around the principle of scarcity.

Now, let’s talk about how you can make it work for you.

  • Are you running a sale? Make sure that you clearly state the sale’s expiration date. This helps build a sense of urgency. Otherwise, your prospects may think, “Well, I’m not ready to buy now, but I will. Soon.” And they’ll completely forget.
  • Are you offering a Webinar with limited seating? Consider including something in your ad copy like, “Over 75% sold already! Sign up now so you don’t miss your spot.” You may even want to get more specific, and share that there are only “10 seats left.” Just make sure that you update the page to reflect the new signups.
  • Are you a popular consultant that offers very limited consulting hours? Mention that you only work with X consulting clients a week, and you’re already booked Y weeks in advance. When prospects read this, they’ll be more apt to sign up now – after all, for every day they wait, it could be another month before they get to talk to you.
  • Do you sell products?  Take a cue from Zappos and warn customers when there are just a few items left. If someone was on the fence about making a purchase, knowing that they may not be able to buy it at all can help them pull the trigger.

 

3 cash-free ways to market your local business online

Welcome back! Today’s SEO copywriting tip is in response to a question from the SEO Copywriting Facebook grouphow do you market a (local) business online when you don’t have any money?

This can be tricky, because ideally if you’re launching a new business, you usually have a marketing budget, however small. At the same time, Heather has worked with local companies that invested all they had just to get their business up and running – only to find themselves scrambling to figure out how to get the word out.

Tune in as Heather shares three ideas for marketing online when you have no cash, and under the conditions that it’s possible to do so:

It’s possible…but under certain conditions:

It is possible to market your business online with no budget, but only for the short term, and under certain conditions.

  • The owner has time to educate him/herself in online marketing.
  • The owner makes marketing his/her business a priority and can dedicate a couple of hours (or more) a day to getting the word out.
  • Know that this is a stop-gap measure. In most cases, businesses will benefit from having an actual site.

Marketing Idea #1 – Twitter

  • Twitter can be a great way to “meet” new local people.
  • It’s important to know how and what to tweet. Too much self promotion will turn prospective clients off.
  • Be a good community member. Don’t forget to RT (retweet), thank people for their RT’s, etc.

Marketing Idea #2 – Facebook

  • Facebook can provide your company a “home” until your site is launched.
  • Spend time building a good Facebook page that encourages community and sparks conversation.
  • Check on your Facebook page throughout the day and comment/add new wall posts.

Marketing Idea #3 – Local Publications

It’s easy to forget that not all marketing has to be done online (and that print often has an online component).

  • Does your local newspaper have a monthly “new business” interview or column? Pitch your business and ask to be interviewed. Don’t forget local business journals, too.
  • Make note of local influential bloggers in your community. How can you connect with them?
  • Whenever possible, try to meet people in person.

Thanks for joining us for today’s SEO copywriting tip!  Do you have a question for Heather? Zip it over to her at askheather@seocopywriting.com and you may very well see it answered here! See you then.

 

5 post-Panda strategies for optimizing your e-commerce site

Welcome back! In this third post of her Q & A video blog series, Heather addresses the oft-asked question:  How can I make my e-commerce site better for the search engines? Many smaller to mid-sized e-commerce companies are now striving to make their sites as good as they can possibly be, after suffering the fallout of Google’s Mayday and Panda/Farmer updates.

Over the past financially-stressed year, many e-commerce companies simply lacked the resources needed to produce high-quality, original content.  So they’ve been hurt by Google’s Mayday and Panda/Farmer updates.  But there is a shiny silver lining to this setback, as Heather explains:

Common E-Commerce Issues:

  • Mayday Update: Many SMB’s without the financial resources to invest in content generation were “downgraded” by Google because they simply duplicated the product descriptions from the original manufacturers of the goods offered.
  • Farmer/Panda Update: Those businesses without the money for content creation were also hurt due to “thin” and/or “low-quality” content.  These folks may have tried to build out keyphrase-laden pages to drive traffic, or were stuck with the same old products pages with no fresh or original copy.

Whatever the circumstance, these smaller e-commerce companies are at a huge disadvantage right now.  But the silver lining is that this setback presents a fantastic opportunity for these businesses to give their e-commerce site a complete “make-over.”

So here’s what to do (over) if you find your e-commerce site hurting from Google’s algorithm changes:

1) Figure out what’s working, and what’s not: Seize this opportunity to delve deep into your analytics and look at things like bounce and conversion rates. The information you glean can provide you with a road map as to what to do next.  For instance…

2) Are you using the right keyphrases? Upon entering the e-commerce world, you may not have completely understood what keyphrases were or how to work with them. Or your original keyphrases may have brought in traffic at the start, but may be not the best, qualified traffic. Again, this is a great opportunity to go back to the beginning and re-evaluate.  You may well discover other keyphrases to focus on and leverage for SEO.

3) MessagingDo you address your prospect’s primary question of what’s in it for me (WIIFM)? Revisit your benefit statements: do they explicitly tell your reader what’s in it for them? Are the tone and feel of your site targeted to your perfect customer? Are you bringing out the best benefit statements that you can? This is a golden opportunity to make your site as tight and wired to your customer as possible.

4) What else can you “tweak?” Consider what other elements could be improved to help make you money.  For instance:

  • Do you need to change your page Titles? Probably. See what you can tweak to increase both your ranking and conversions.
  • Could you add customer reviews? This is a great way to build out original content on your products pages.
  • Can you build out different types of content (video, podcasts, other types of descriptive content)? Ideally, your product page content should be unique – not just a reiteration of the original manufacturers’ copy.
  • How can you leverage your blog to help you with sales? Your blog presents an ideal venue to “soft sell” and link to your site’s product pages.  It doesn’t have to be “sales-y,” and in fact shouldn’t be. Written deftly, your blog content can go a long way towards supporting sales.

5) Checking your analytics, determine what your top-performing pages are and start re-writing those first. Look at the top 20-percent of your site’s highest-performing pages, and begin your copywriting do-over with these.

Yes, this website “do-over” does mean an investment of time and money, but the silver lining is that once you’ve gone through the process — taking the time to do it right — then everything else will fall into place:  your site will be well-optimized for the search engines, will better serve your customers, and you’ll see a greater return on your investment!

Thanks for joining us! Do you have a SEO copywriting or content marketing question? Zip it on over to Heather at: askheather@seocopywriting.com, and she may well answer it with next Monday’s video post!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 reasons why social media is good for SEO

Guest Author, Stacey Acevero

Do you like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn? Well I’ve got a reason to love all of these social media platforms. We use these outlets to learn new information, disseminate interesting information we find, engage with new people and share ideas. But what most don’t realize is that social media is in fact great for SEO and can help boost your search engine rankings. Here’s how:

1)   The same way you use keywords to optimize your blog posts can be used to optimize your posts in social media. Leveraging keywords improves search traffic when you use keywords that rank highly for your topic.  Use a keyword research tool such as Google Adwords to figure out which search terms rank higher, and infuse those terms into your posts.

2)   Social media encourages the sharing of multimedia, and multimedia is shown to increase time on page. PRWeb did a study which concluded that including multimedia in news releases increases time on page by an average of about 30 seconds. Imagine what that could do for your blog and social media posts. That’s the difference between someone reading your post and clicking the “X” and someone reading your post and getting hooked—you want the latter.

3)   Social media influence increases link sharing, which ultimately results in better search ranking. Every link into your portal improves your chances of ranking well in Google and other search engines, according to informIT. I like to call it link-love, and give plenty of it when tweeting throughout the day. Tweeting information from a variety of sources is important because those sources might notice this and tweet you back: creating lots of link love.

4)   Google’s crawling, indexing and rankings are directly influenced by Tweeted links and Facebook shares. The easier it is to link to your content via sharing buttons, the more likely someone will use them to share your content, according to SEOmoz.

5)   SEO is based on relevance and authority. You build relevance and authority by creating and sharing original content (such as blogs) and building communities on platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. The more relevant and authoritative you are on your topic, the better search engines will view you.

Are you convinced yet? Try your hand at increasing your SEO using social media and share with us what you find! Keep one thing in mind: all SEO takes time and patience.

For more information on social media and SEO, I recommend visiting the TopRank Online Marketing Blog, Mashable or SEOmoz.

Stacey Acevero is the social media community manager at Vocus and PRWeb. Part of the PR team and an early adopter of social media, she blogs frequently about public relations, social media, marketing and search engine optimization at BloggingPRWeb.

 

 

 

 

Drive revenue with benefit-specific, targeted product pages

Welcome back!  In today’s video post in our ongoing website writing series, Heather Lloyd addresses how to write conversions-driving  product pages.  Last week, Heather discussed the essential strategies for writing a killer home page (as well as the not-so-hot tactics).  Today, she tackles how to write benefit-specific, targeted product pages that will drive revenue.

If you’re new to the how-to series or could stand a quick review, it might be helpful to check out Heather’s previous posts on Features vs. Benefits and Transforming Ordinary Features into Extraordinary Benefits.

Well-Written Product Pages Drive Revenue

Product pages are “money pages,” and if you own an ecommerce company, your product pages present a spectacular opportunity to improve your conversion rates.  You have a fantastic chance to first, improve the overall copywriting itself and second, improve your search engine optimization.  So let’s look at what is great, and what isn’t so hot:

What’s Hot and What’s Not So Great:

Keep in mind, first and foremost, that your #1 Goal is to  Sell the Product

You want your prospect to land on your products page and immediately think, “Yeah, that’s exactly what I want and I’m hitting buy now!” With this priority in mind, here are specific ways to help our readers do just that with targeted copywriting for our product pages.

1. Product-Specific Benefit Statements (vs. Feature-Oriented Content)

This is a HUGE opportunity that a lot of companies miss out on.  You may have an incredible amount of product features – color, weight, dimensions, etc. – but key to your conversions is to explicitly highlight and translate the benefits implicit to those features so your prospect says “Yes!” Specifically addressing that “what’s in it for me” is precisely what will sell your product.  (Again, recommended reading are Heather’s detailed posts about features vs. benefits, and transforming features into benefits).

2. Product-Specific Keyphrases (vs. General Keyphrases – or None At All!)

Here’s where you can dig in to your analytics and do your keyword research to figure out the best overall keyphrase strategy for your site, as well as drastically improve your conversions:  look into SKU’s, specific product and category names, and designer search terms.  With this data, you’ve a great resource for discovering those keyphrases ripe for optimizing both your products page and your conversions!

3. Directed and Original Content Written with your Customer Persona in Mind (vs. Simply Uploading the Catalog/Manufacturer Copy)

While Google’s taken steps with its Farmer/Panda update that does not reward mere uploads, beyond that you want to rewrite the generic catalog/manufacturer copy so it speaks to your customer persona.  While refining and honing the copy like this means more time and more resources, know that you don’t have to do it all at once.  You can baby-step your rewriting, focusing on the most important content first.

4. Clear Call to Action (vs. Long, Scrolling Content where the “Buy Now” Button is Buried)

The idea is to make it easy for customers to buy your products.  A clear and visible call to action will go a long way towards improving conversions – you don’t want to make prospects work to make their purchase.  This is where an A/B split test can be applied to see what works best for conversions in terms of the placement of your call to action.

5. Highlighting Overarching Company Benefit Statements (vs. Hiding Them in Copy or Not Mentioning Them At All)

Again, this where a lot of businesses miss the mark.  Specials, discounts, free shipping, and other such benefit statements should be made clear and obvious to the prospect.  You can’t assume the customer knows about your company’s sales or special offers – don’t hide these great benefits in the copy!

6. Fantastic, Benefits-Oriented Title (vs. So-So Title Filled with Product-based Keywords)

The power of a benefits-oriented, compelling title cannot be overstated!  A well-written, “clickable” Title not only improves click-thru rates on the search engine results page, but is far more likely to result in conversions than a Title that merely lists keywords separated by commas.

One company that has product pages down is Brookstone.  Clearly thinking of “search-ability,” the company incorporates a keyphrase into their product name, and pairs it with a benefits statement and product-specific SKU:  “OSIM Comfort Massage Chair.”  Looking at the company’s product page, you’ll notice they’ve also incorporated customer reviews, great content, benefit statements, and answers to customer questions. The Brookstone product page is a good example of how to do it right.

Thanks for tuning in for today’s video how-to!  Be sure to check in next Monday, when Heather will address how to write a killer services page.  See you then!