Author: Guest Blogger

How to establish your brand on Pinterest (and make it popular)

How to Get Popular on Pinterest.png

This is a guest post by Larry Alton

If you’re a ‘picture paints a thousand words’ kind of person, then Pinterest may be a great option for you.

Its tight-knit community and visual focus make it an ideal board for circulating and popularizing your ideas. And while it may not be as popular as Facebook and Instagram, it still has more than 150 million active users each month.

Pinterest also has a number of advantages:

  • All content is publicly visible.
  • Content can quickly ‘go viral with far less effort than other platforms.
  • It provides monetization options for businesses and stores (e.g. buyable pins).

People use Pinterest in many different ways. But let’s say you want to create a business or personal brand account on it to build an audience and ultimately drive more sales. What’s the best way to maximize its popularity?

Creating the Account

First, you’ll need to create your brand’s account.

  • Find a target audience. There are millions of users on Pinterest. So what makes you unique? Decide on your target audience, and how you’re going to appeal to that niche.
  • Optimize your profile. With your target audience in mind, optimize your profile so it will appeal to that audience. Include keywords they might search for, and describe your brand as accurately as possible.
  • Plan a content stream. You’ll need some ideas for an ongoing content stream. What types of images will you post? Will they be photos or digital designs? What’s your primary subject matter?
  • Integrate your account. Like any social media platform, you should integrate your Pinterest account with the other communication channels you have in place. For starters, you’ll want to announce your new Pinterest presence on your company’s blog and other social media platforms.

Popularizing Pins

Once you’ve created your account, you can focus to optimizing and popularizing your individual posts, known as “pins.”

Post regularly, but don’t spam

Your pins should be regular without being overwhelming. Pinterest users like a steady stream of new content, but not as much as high-volume platforms such as Twitter. Pinning once a day is fine.

But while you may only be pinning once a day, you should check in regularly and be ready to communicate with your followers. It may be worth investing in a mobile hotspot so you’re never disconnected from your audience.

Sephora has nearly half a million followers, and is a great example of how to time your pins. They’ve pinned close to 12,000 items, and yet they never flood or spam their users. They generally post post once or twice a day with things like “Today’s Obsession” and “Makeup of the Day”. They’ve clearly worked out a pinning schedule that’s perfect for their audience.

Create boards

Pinterest lets you store related pins in folders known as ‘boards’. You can create as many boards as you like, and give them whatever name best describe the pins inside them (“Recipes”, “Interior Design”, etc.) You can make a board public or secret, and even create boards containing both your own content and content shared from other sources.

Whole Foods is one brand that’s exceptionally effective at creating and managing boards. They have more than 60 independently developed boards, each showing off recipes and ingredients in specific categories such as “summer recipes” and “Paleo”.

Be original

Pay attention to what your top competitors are doing, and learn from their actions. But don’t just take inspiration from their most popular pins. Look at what they’re not doing as well. If you want your pins to get attention, they need to show people things they’ve never seen before.

Take Japanese brand UNIQLO’s campaign to dominate the infinite scroll. They created elongated vertical images and posted them in just the right way to present the illusion of animation when users scrolled past. It was never tried before, and immediately caught the attention of thousands of users.

Create tall, defined images

Most of Pinterest’s users are on mobile devices, so your best bet is to create high-definition, vertical images that mobile users can access easily. Tall pictures that fill up the entire space offered by the newsfeed are more likely to outcompete images in the same feed. The effect becomes even more powerful when the image is dominated by a single color.

Limit the text

Pinterest is a visual board, so keep any text on your pins to a minimum. Include a few words if you need to explain what the image is about or announce the date of an upcoming event, but otherwise keep the focus on the image.

Offer practical information or tips

Pins have space for text as well as images. This is a great way to give your audience practical information or tips. And because they’ll want to share that information with their friends and family members, they’ll be more inclined to share your pins.

The “Build It!” board set up by Lowe’s is a great example. Its thriving  is almost entirely outsourced, giving independent bloggers and DIYers the chance to contribute their own projects, complete with how-to guides, for all their shared followers.

Repin other high-quality pins

Generate more attention for your own brand by repinning high-quality or popular pins from other brands—preferably ones that would also appeal to your target audience. This will increase your visibility in other Pinterest feeds, and help you define what your brand is and what it stands for.

You can even create boards specifically for user submissions. Anthropologie has been extremely successful with a board called “Your Anthropologie Favorites”. Fans are encouraged to tag pins with #AnthroFave, resulting in even more visibility. And with 768,000 followers, it’s a brand you can learn a lot from.

Once you’ve created your account and have a stream of optimized Pinterest content flowing, it’s only a matter of time before you start attracting followers. And once you have your audience, you can nurture and tweak your strategy to grow your business – and your sales.

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

The post How to establish your brand on Pinterest (and make it popular) appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

3 Ways to Turn Blog Posts into Engaging Instagram Content

3 Ways to Turn Blog Posts into Engaging Instagram Content

This is a guest post from Jonathan Chan of Foundr Magazine.

You are probably here because you are a proud blog owner.

Your content is consistently fresh and up-to-date, your mission statement is on point, you’ve managed to create a brand from scratch and everything is going swimmingly. But you’re still not using Instagram to promote your ground-breaking content.

If that sounds like you, we’ve got great news. 700 million monthly users are waiting for you to reach out to them.

In one of their articles, Forbes compared promoting content on Facebook with Instagram. The results showed that a promoted post on Instagram gets 4x more likes than the average Facebook ad. The interesting thing is that the number of impressions isn’t drastically different between the two, but Instagram users engage with content much more than those on Facebook.

This means it’s time to make the leap and look at Instagram as a full-fledged content platform; not an afterthought.

To help you do that, we’re sharing 3 highly effective ways that are guaranteed to turn your already engaging blog posts into even more captivating Instagram content.

#1 Pull Quotes

The brain reacts to visual stimuli in as little as 13 milliseconds. This means you have a fraction of a second to grab a viewer’s attention – and pull quotes, i.e. visual representations of key points – are the perfect way to do just that.

In order to create an engaging pull quote, pick an image you think will grab a person’s attention and add to it an engaging quote from your blog post. The best way to make these posts interesting is to keep them short and sweet, like so:

The extended version of that same quote, or a short paragraph explaining the quote, should go in the description section below the image. Note that you have 2200 characters to get the user to click on the shortened link you’re attaching with the image; plan ahead to make sure you don’t run out of space!

Chances are, you’ve seen plenty of pull quote posts on Instagram. This makes sense: according to Yotpo, Instagram drives the most engaged traffic compared to other social media platforms (including Youtube and Pinterest). This means that text, which may scare less engaged users away, works extremely well on Instagram. This is huge for your marketing – and here’s the reason.

People are likely to remember 10% of the information they hear and read several days later. But if you pair the same information with an image, you are likely to remember 65% of it.

Yes, folks, vision is the sense to exploit in content marketing – and pull quotes are an easy way to turn text into visual content.

Next on our list, let’s take a look at…

#2 Infographics, data visualizations, and beyond

According to eye-tracking studies reported by Nielsen Norman group, internet users prefer looking at images that carry information. The same study found that infographics and data visualizations get 3x more shares than other images on social media.

In other words, infographics and data visualizations aren’t just a powerful way to convey all the information you want to show your followers in one image. They’re also a highly engaging form of content on their own!

The catch is that you don’t want to make infographics too complicated or have them give out too much information. The best thing to do it is give the users a little snippet that has them wanting to know more. The idea is to “wow” them, drive them to your core piece of blog content – and hopefully convert them into subscribers or followers!

Alternatively, you can place an entire infographic on Instagram using their slideshow feature, like so:

Now, to the fun part. Here are 3 tools you can use to make infographics, data visualizations and other data + text images for free:

  • Canva is a great app for creating engaging graphics tailored to the social media platform you want to share it on. Whether you’re creating an Instagram post or want to include the graphics on your blog, Canva is easy to use and has great design options.
  • Piktochart → According to Facebook Marketing Strategist Amy Porterfield, Piktochart is an easy tool for people who want to create viral infographics.
  • Many content creators like WordSwag: an app that lets you add text to any image within seconds. It also features a massive library of 290,000 free images you can use for your pull quotes and more!

Last but not least, let’s cover…

#3 Videos

We pretty much saved the best for last. Why is it the best, you ask?

Because 4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than have to read about it. Yes, we have become a community of skimmers and slackers. This is why video content, like this post from Sir Richard Branson, works so well:

Having understood the effectiveness and potential of video content, Instagram now allows its users to use the 1-minute per video option. If you’re wondering how to get more Instagram followers, you should be actively using the video feature. Here are some key tips to doing this well:

  • Avoid being too commercial and keep it personal. Videos are the best way to really connect with your followers, and posting too many ads and salesy content could ruin that feeling for your followers. Show a snippet of what is coming and get them excited!
  • Use hashtags! This is the most effective way to entice users that are outside of your follower base. Experiment with popular hashtags that describe your content in a nutshell.
  • Use the “swipe option”!! Posting a link through Instagram stories gets publishers 15-20% more clicks. It’s never been more simple, guys, Instagram is helping you out. Create personal posts through stories and make sure to include a “swipe” option that transfers the user to the blog post itself.

This is a great time to jump on the video marketing bandwagon and use the video content tools brought to you by Instagram. KPCB reports that 74% of internet traffic will be video content this year!

Let’s wrap it up

We probably lost you at “700 million monthly users”. Here’s what you really need to remember:

  • Pull quotes are a great way to grab the attention of your followers quickly. Select a good photo, add a short but powerful quote to it, and attach a description with a short link in the comment section.
  • Infographics and data visualizations are powerful. Keep them simple, but make the reader want to know more.
  • Videos, videos, and more videos. Whether you are posting Instagram stories (regularly, no less) or videos on your page, make them personal and make sure to attach links to your blog posts.

If there’s a 65% chance you’ll remember these last points, our job here is done. Good luck!

Jonathan is the Content Crafter and Marketer for Foundr – place dedicated to empowering each and every entrepreneur out there with the best knowledge, tactics and actionable advice on the planet. Whether it’s finding out the latest productivity hacks, or figuring out the best startup business models, Jonathan is all about making sure that anyone that calls themselves an entrepreneur has a chance to continuously improve. You can check out more of his writing, and more about Foundr itself at: foundrmag.com

The post 3 Ways to Turn Blog Posts into Engaging Instagram Content appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts | ProBlogger

This is a guest contribution from Shane Barker.

If you’ve been blogging for awhile, you’re probably familiar with landing pages, and may have even used a few of them for different campaigns. Whether you’re trying to drive people to sign up for your mailing list, or to purchase a product/service you’re promoting, landing pages can help you achieve your conversion goals. But is your landing page optimized for mobile users? Is it able to drive enough conversions on mobile?

Just imagine you’re using your smartphone to read someone else’s blog, and you click on a link to learn about a certain product reviewed in the post. But you end up on a page that is too difficult to view and navigate. You have to either squint, or zoom in to read the page content. That could ruin your experience, and may even compel you to leave the page. The result? For the blogger, it means they’ve lost the opportunity to convert you.

Don’t make the same mistake. When you’re designing a landing page, make sure you optimize it for mobile users. The seven key design elements below can help you design a mobile landing page optimized for conversions.

1. A Short But Strong Headline

Landing page headlines should always be clear and concise. For a mobile landing page, your headline has to be even shorter, because you have even less space to work with. Use no more than five words, and describe what your website is about, or what your product does. This may be difficult, but it isn’t impossible.

Take a look at the Squarespace mobile landing page, for instance. The headline, “Build it Beautiful,” is short, but it clearly tells people what the product is about – building websites. And “beautiful” highlights the benefit of using the platform. They’ve perfectly summed up what their product does, and what makes it special, in just three words, with a compelling headline.

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts | ProBlogger

Try to form your headline around the main features and/or benefits of your product. Maybe it will help readers learn something useful, or tackle a challenge they’ve been facing. Once you come up with a potential headline, check it several times to see if you can shorten it and still keep it compelling. For instance, you could shorten, “Convert People with Beautiful Landing Pages,” to, “Create Landing Pages that Convert.”

Although many landing pages have a subheading with more details about the product’s features, that may not be the best option for a mobile landing page due to the limited space. You can try adding a few bullet points if you absolutely have to include further details or benefits of the product. Just make sure each point is concise and clear.

2. A Short And Persuasive Call-To-Action

You know the importance of persuasive CTA copy, and how it can help drive conversions. With mobile landing pages, your CTA copy needs to compel users to take action, and it needs to do so with just 2-3 words. Something like, “Get Started,” “Grab Your Deal,” or “Build Your Website,” may be ideal as they get straight to the point in just a few words.

For example, the mobile landing page for the Shyp app has clear call-to-action copy that urges people to, “Get the App.”

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts | ProBlogger

To come up with compelling copy for your CTA, first define the goal of your landing page. Is it to get people to enter a contest, download an eBook, or sign up for your mailing list? Next, write a short CTA that clearly tells people what you want them to do, like, “Enter to Win,” or “Download Your Guide.”

3. One Prominent CTA Button

What’s the goal of a landing page? To get people to do something. So what’s the point of having a CTA button on your mobile landing page if it’s barely visible? If you’re trying to get people to take a certain action, make sure the CTA button is prominently displayed. If possible, choose a button color that contrasts with the main page color so that it stands out.

While aesthetics are a crucial part of your landing page design, you shouldn’t blend the elements so much that you hide the CTA button. The New Balance mobile landing page below highlights one CTA button boldly in black. And you can see that, although the button clearly contrasts with the rest of the page design, it doesn’t compromise the overall aesthetics.

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts | ProBlogger

The optimal number of CTA buttons on a mobile landing page is one, because you want to direct users towards one particular action. You don’t want to confuse them with too many options. If you have several goals, you can try building a separate landing page for each goal. But if you absolutely must have more than one CTA button on a page, make sure you highlight the main call-to-action, and blend in the others with the rest of the design.

For instance, if the goal is to get people to download something, the CTA button for downloading should be the most prominent. Secondary CTA buttons like, “Learn More,” or “Contact Us,” should be less visible. A good example is the Squarespace landing page shown above, where the main call-to-action, “Get Started,” is more prominent than the secondary CTA, “Learn More.”

4. Minimal Clutter

When you’re targeting mobile users, you should keep in mind that there is limited screen space to work with. A busy page design with too many elements can be an eyesore, especially on mobile landing pages. You need to simplify the page design as much as possible. This means you need to remove any unnecessary clutter, and keep other elements hidden if possible.

Keep only the most important elements. Just take a look at the simplistic and elegant landing page for Moto 360, for example. The page contains only a few elements: a strong headline, the product name, pricing info, and a call-to-action button.

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts | ProBlogger

Now let’s take a look at the original desktop version of the landing page. Here, there are a few changes in the formatting. Although the headline remains the same, this version has a small subheading to describe the product. You can also see that the navigation bar isn’t hidden like in the mobile version.

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts | ProBlogger

For mobile, keep only the most important elements, and remove unnecessary elements that may clutter the page. Removing unnecessary clutter from your mobile landing page doesn’t just enhance the page’s aesthetics, it also reduces the page’s load time. A faster loading page can improve user experience, and boost conversions.

5. Simplified Forms

Do you really need people to fill in 7 or 8 form fields when signing up for something? Too many form fields can clutter your landing page, and frustrate users. If you want more people to convert, you need to simplify the conversion process. The idea is to get them to complete the task before they have time to change their minds. Simplify your forms – whether they’re for subscriptions, free trials, or promo codes.

Make sure any forms on your mobile landing page collect only the most crucial information. For example, you probably need a user’s email address for eBook downloads, newsletter subscriptions, free trials, promo codes, and pretty much everything else. But you may not need to ask for their name, address, or phone number.

Adjust the form fields based on what you want to achieve with the landing page. The Shopify free trial landing page shown below has only three form fields. It asks for an email address, store name, and a password so that users can access their account later. It doesn’t ask for any unnecessary information like name, phone number, or address.

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts | ProBlogger

6. Readable Copy

Which of these is easier to read: ProBlogger or ProBlogger? Naturally, you’d choose the latter of these two font sizes. The font styles and sizes you choose to use can have a huge impact on the readability of your mobile landing page. Remember, you’re working on a small screen; so you need to make sure that your copy is easy to read, despite the small space.

The idea is to make sure that people don’t have to squint or zoom in to read the content on your landing page. The ideal font size according to Google is 16 px, but you can always customize the size according to the font style you’ve chosen. Don’t forget to leave ample space between text lines to improve readability.

If you’ve followed the tips above, you’ve already simplified the design, and shortened your headline. That means there will be more space on your mobile landing page, allowing you to use a larger font that’s easier to read. Additionally, choose a font color that contrasts with the main color used on the page, but still blends well with the rest of the design.

Here’s an example from Gumroad. As you can see in the image below, the text is clearly visible. It is easy to read because of the large font size and simple style. It also contrasts with the main page color, while still complimenting the rest of the design.

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts | ProBlogger

7. Neatly Organized Elements

If a mobile landing page has too much going on, the design can easily become an eyesore. Maybe there’s too much text, or the headline and description are too close to the CTA button. Unorganized elements can confuse your readers, and negatively affect their experience.

For a mobile landing page design that boosts conversions, make sure all elements are neatly organized. There should be a sufficient amount of whitespace between elements so that people can navigate the page easily, and find what they’re looking for. This will also improve the visibility of your CTA button.

Take a look at the mobile landing page for the Albert app below. There is more text than recommended, but the design still works well because the elements are neatly organized. Sufficient whitespace separates the headline, subheading, and CTA button, preventing the design from looking cluttered. The blue CTA button is prominent amidst all of the text and whitespace.

7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts | ProBlogger

What’s Next?

Once you’ve optimized your mobile landing page with the seven design elements above, you need to check whether or not they’re working for you. A few minor tweaks may be necessary to maximize their effectiveness. Make sure you run A/B tests for every element, and make adjustments, or changes as needed. The goal is to ensure that your page:

  • Loads quickly
  • Is aesthetically pleasing
  • Clearly directs people towards the desired action

All of these play a role in how well you’re able to convert an audience. Run an A/B test or a multivariate test for each element to find which areas need further improvement, and which changes are working for you. Do some call-to-actions or headlines work better than others? Which color combination drives more conversions?

Experiment with different colors for your CTA button to determine which one gets the most clicks. Test several headlines to find out which your audience responds better to. Experiment with different font styles, and sizes and check if there’s any difference in your conversion rate based on those changes.

Conclusion

Now you know the key elements you need to use to design a high-converting mobile landing page. Have you tried any of these tips before? How did it affect your conversion rate? Do you have any questions about mobile landing pages? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

And if you need any help optimizing your website, blog, or landing pages for conversions, you can get in touch with me. I can help you come up with the best solutions for boosting your conversions.

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant that specializes in sales funnels, targeted traffic and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, Influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities. You can find him on Twitter here.

The post 7 Key Design Elements for a Mobile Landing Page that Converts appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

What is the Link between Social Signals and Your Search Ranking?

link-between-social-signals-search-ranking

This is a guest post from Shane Barker

We all know that factors like backlinks, keywords, and bounce rates are important search ranking factors. But there’s still a lot of confusion about social signals, and their impact on a website’s ranking.

Reputable sources like Moz and Backlinko have reported that social signals are among the top Google ranking factors. While this is technically correct, it’s important to note that there is no direct impact of social signals on your ranking.

Google’s Stance on Social Signals as Ranking Factors

According to the previous head of Google’s Web Spam team, Matt Cutts, there may be a correlation between social signals and search ranking. But Google doesn’t use these signals as a direct ranking factor. This is mainly because there are several limitations that prevent the search engine from crawling and indexing social media content effectively.

Here’s how Matt explained it:

  • Limitations in Access – Matt stated that Google can’t always crawl every single page on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. And sometimes, they may even get blocked from crawling these sites. This prevents them from accurately ranking websites based on the performance of their social media pages (individual social media posts).
  • Limitations in Accuracy – Google may have limited abilities to extract accurate data from social profiles and pages. The data on these pages could change at any moment. For example, a user may change their employment information. This would then deem their previously-collected information inaccurate.Matt also stated that Google doesn’t use signals such as the number of social media followers for search ranking. This is again because of limitations in accuracy. A user’s following size could change at any moment. They may block another user, or gain several new followers at any time. And because Google cannot actively keep up with these changes, these numbers do not factor into search ranking.

Based on these statements made by Matt, you can see that there’s a good reason why Google doesn’t use social signals as a direct ranking factor. But again, that doesn’t mean that social signals have no impact on your search ranking. We’ll be talking about this in the next section.

Social Signals and Search Ranking: The Correlation

Another big question is whether there’s proof that social signals impact a website’s ranking in search. Cognitive SEO conducted an extensive study which found that a correlation actually does exist. They analyzed more than 300,000 pieces of content and their social signals.

What they found was that there is a correlation between having a strong social media presence and better search ranking. In other words, those who rank towards the top of the search results pages tend to also have a stronger presence on social media platforms.

Image Source: Cognitive SEO

There’s also a correlation between a high amount of shares on social media and a higher search ranking. In other words, pages that rank high in search results also tend to have a higher amount of overall shares. This is especially true in the case of Facebook and Google+, but not as much with Pinterest.

The Cognitive SEO study also found that, on average, the top 4 ranking positions normally have more activity on Facebook in terms of likes, shares, and comments. And the top rank has a significantly higher amount of Google+ shares. This suggests that activities on both Facebook and Google+ have a massive impact on search ranking. But activities on Pinterest and LinkedIn do not have the same correlation with search ranking.

Image Source: Cognitive SEO

Although there’s a disparity between how activities on various social media channels affect search ranking, you already know that your social media presence does affect your ranking. And this proves that there is an important correlation between social signals and a website’s search ranking.

Why the Correlation?

You may be wondering why the correlation between search ranking and social signals even exists. How could your presence or activity on social media possibly affect how you rank in search results?

The easiest way to explain it is that social signals could impact other aspects of your website or webpage, which could then result in better search ranking. Here are some of the possible ways that your social signals can impact your ranking:

  • Link Signals from Social Shares – You already know that link signals play a crucial role in search ranking. The quantity and quality of links to your website or webpage can directly affect your position in the search results pages. And social shares count as link signals. The more people who share your content across various social media channels, the better your ranking could be.
  • Impact on Site Traffic – Another important search ranking factor is website traffic. The more traffic you get, the higher you’ll rank. And with more activity on social media, the content you share could gain more visibility. Higher visibility also means that there’s a better chance of reaching more people, and getting them to click on your links.These click-throughs will result in a boost in your site traffic. This can then translate into better search ranking. Which suggests that social activity could significantly affect your position in search results.
  • Impact on Domain Authority – A high Domain Authority (DA) can also result in higher visibility in the search engines. Although there are many metrics that could determine a website’s DA, social signals could have some impact as well. For example, one of the metrics used for calculating DA is your link profile. And with social shares improving your link profile, there can be an indirect impact on your Domain Authority. Which, in turn, can impact your search ranking.

How to Improve Your Social Signals for Higher Ranking

The previous sections have established that there is a correlation between social signals and search ranking. Now let’s get to the most important part – what can you do to improve your social signals and boost your blog’s visibility.

Here are a few ideas:

#1: Use Relevant Keywords to Optimize your Profiles

The previously-cited Cognitive SEO study found that social media presence plays a major role in search ranking. But to improve your presence, you need to gain more followers. And to gain more followers, your profile needs to be more visible. In other words, you need to make sure potential followers can easily find you. And you can do so by using keywords to optimize your profiles.

If you look at the top results for the keyword “food blogger,” on Twitter, you’ll find that most of the accounts have optimized their bios with relevant keywords. As you can see in the following screenshot, these profiles all have the word “food” in their bios. And most of them also include the word “blog,” “blogger,” or “blogging.”

Pick a keyword relevant to your niche – whether it’s technology, politics, finance, travel, or fashion. Then use that keyword to optimize your social media bios and descriptions. This can improve your chances of getting discovered by potential and relevant followers.

#2: Create Share-Worthy Content

If you produce good content, and have enough followers, there’s a good chance you’re going to generate a lot of social shares. You may already be writing useful and engaging content. But there’s always room for improvement. You need to create content that is not only helpful to your audience, but also captivating.

Get your existing subscribers involved to determine what they like to read. You could conduct a poll, and ask them what they’d like to see more of on your blog.

For example, maybe they want you to produce more how-to articles, and less list articles. Or maybe they’d like you to cover certain topics that you hadn’t thought of before. Either way, this can help you understand what your audience is looking for, so you can create content to meet those needs.

In addition to this, you could also research trending topics and popular articles in your niche. BuzzSumo is an effective tool for this. Using this tool, you can find out which topics are performing well recently. And you can also find your competitors’ most popular articles.

This will help you with new content ideas. Perhaps you can write a more detailed and more helpful piece on the same topic one of your competitors covered. Or you could repurpose an article into visual content.

As you can see in the screenshot below, you can find the most shared content or articles that are currently trending. You can also filter the results based on the content type, date of posting, etc. This can help you jump in on a trending conversation, or create valuable, evergreen content to engage your audience.

#3: Use Relevant Keywords to Optimize Your Posts

In addition to optimizing your social media profiles with relevant keywords, you should also use them to optimize your social media posts. The goal is to make sure that your content is easy to discover by relevant social media users.

You can use the keywords in the captions and titles of your posts. And you can also use them as hashtags to further improve the post’s discoverability.

For example, if you search for the keyword, “money saving,” on Facebook, the top search results will be posts that include the keyword. As you can see in the screenshot below, one of the top search results has used the keyword. This post has about 22,000 likes, 200+ comments, and about 1.6 million views.

#4: Include a Call-to-Action

When you share a blog post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform; you’re doing so in order to get people to click on it. You want them to visit your blog, and read the post.

Some people may click on the link without any additional incentive. But there’s no harm in giving them a gentle nudge. To do so, include a call-to-action to tell people what you want them to do.

Maybe you could encourage users to, “try this easy recipe,” or “use these tricks to save more money.” Or you can make it even shorter by using CTAs like, “check it out,” or “click here.” In addition to encouraging clicks, you can also write CTAs that encourage more shares, likes, and comments on your post.

The following Facebook post by Digital Photography School is an excellent example. It doesn’t just invite people to click on the link to read the tips. Instead, the caption asks whether people have tried what the article is talking about.

The article provides readers with tips on how to capture photos of bursting bubbles. And then the caption encourages people to show their best results. This makes for an excellent CTA, as it is indirectly encouraging people to try out the tips.

#5: Include Images in Your Social Media Posts

Images immediately grab attention, especially on social media. People may aimlessly scroll through their news feeds, but seeing an eye-catching image could make them linger on the post longer. And this could improve your chances of driving click-throughs. Even if some users do not click on the accompanying link, it still improves your chances of driving more engagement.

Neil Patel discovered the importance of images on social media when he experienced improvements in his traffic. Neil regularly shared the latest Quick Sprout blog posts on Twitter, which would normally just include the article headline, and a link to the post. But once he started adding images with a link to the new blog post, he saw that his traffic from Twitter increased by 108%.

Image Source: Quick Sprout

So instead of relying on the automatic preview, accompany your posts with a relevant image. For infographics or studies, you can even include a photo that will give people a brief idea what they can find learn from the post.

The screenshot below shows a Twitter post in which the user shares a link to healthy food for busy people. She has included a photo of one of the dishes to attract a larger audience.

Conclusion

We’ve thoroughly discussed the correlation between social signals and search ranking. Now you understand the actual impact of your social media marketing efforts on your blog’s ranking. And you also know exactly what to do to improve your performance. But if you have any doubts or questions, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.

The post What is the Link between Social Signals and Your Search Ranking? appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy

This is a guest contribution from Megan Totka.

Building a profitable e-mail list requires more than just adding a newsletter signup form to your website. Attracting and retaining an email list that ultimately turns into customers means finding creative ways to get in front of them and continually providing value.

The good news is that social media can help light a fire under your list building strategy and maximise the results of your e-mail marketing campaign.

Before you turn your attention to your favourite social media platform for list building, here are the best ways to harness the power of social media for your list building strategy:

1: Create High Value Content to Distribute on Social Networks

The term “content is king” has remained on the tips of marketers’ tongues for years. Even in 2017, content remains one of the most effective ways to convert clicks into customers but not just any content.

The key here is to deliver value through your content in terms of answering questions or helping readers solve problems. You’ll need to give readers a good reason to exchange their e-mail address for your content, which truthfully can’t be done if you’re offering run-of-the-mill content.

Consider using content in the form of videos, webinars, downloadable PDF documents, and podcasts.

The content can’t be just any old regurgitated content though. It needs to be so valuable that the reader would pay for it, but you’re giving it away for the low low price of an email address.

Neil Patel does this masterfully, on his QuickSprout blog, by offering a free course on how to double your blog traffic. He values the course at $300 but is giving it away for opting in to his email list.

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy | ProBlogger

People are reading your blog for a reason. You must be solving a problem they have or educating them about a specific topic. Offer to give your secrets away for free – well just for their email address and permission to send them more great content.

Take your free course or eBook “list building bait” and repurpose some of it for a blog post or on a landing page. Use landing page software that integrates directly with email marketing software to maximise signups and automate your follow up email campaigns. Once visitors signup on the landing page they are sent into email list segments to start their journey through a pre-set email funnel towards conversion.

This is the content you can use to distribute via your social media channels.

Use your social media channels to drive awareness to the content. It’s great to add some context in your social posts. Tell people what they will gain from the eBook or free course to help drive click through rates and signups.
4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy | ProBlogger

2: Carefully Optimise Ads to Target Specific Prospects

When you launch a social media ad, the last thing you want to do is use general parameters to define your target audience and call it a day. If you truly want to get the most out of your list building strategy with social media, you must understand your target market and pay to play.

Take Facebook for instance. Facebook is an affordable yet highly-targeted social media advertising option for all kinds of ventures—including list building.

Create detailed customer personas that outline different people that would be interested in consuming your list building content. If you’re selling digital marketing services, one persona may be a brand marketing manager. Her name is Sarah, is between 27-35 years old, lives in the US, is interested in social media marketing and follows industry blogs like SocialMediaExaminer.com.  

Once you’ve created your different customer personas, use Facebook’s lead ad product to drive targeted traffic to your landing page or blog post.
4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy | ProBlogger

Once you learn the ropes, you can fine-tune your Facebook ads to match prospects at different points in the sales funnel. This way you can watch how your prospects opt-in to your e-mail list and how your content is encouraging them to inquire about your products or services.

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy | ProBlogger

3: Amplify Your Content with the Help of Industry Leaders

If you have great content to offer but you’re a little short on outreach, industry influencers can help maximise your exposure, amplify content, and generate more e-mail subscriptions—all on your behalf.

Think of this as a shortcut to getting a lot of eyeballs on your content without handing over a hefty wad of cash. One of the keys to using this technique is building a relationship with the industry leader and be up front that you’d like for them to share your content. You can also consider allowing the influencer to use your product or service for free as a way to incentivise them to spread the word.

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy | ProBlogger

Use platforms like BuzzSumo to find influencers in your niche who are already sharing topics closely related to the content you want them to amplify.

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy | ProBlogger

4: Best Practices for On-Site E-mail Signups

Once you have your content published on social media, you can’t forget what happens when visitors land on your website. It’s important to optimise your landing page to increase the amount of conversions and users opting into your e-mail list.

One important consideration to keep in mind is the length of your opt-in form. It’s best that you use as few fields as possible, while still capturing the information you need for personalised email messages later on. You’ll also need a direct call-to-action with an obvious button front-and-centre.

4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy | ProBlogger

This is a basic landing page from Trulia that shows a simple signup form with only one opt-in field.

Have you been using social media to drive sign-ups? What’s working for you?

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. Chamber specializes in helping small businesses grow their business on the web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

The post 4 Ways to Use Social Media to Light a Fire Under Your List Building Strategy appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to Avoid Writing Boring Outlines using the IKEA Method

This is a guest contribution from LJ Sedgwick.

You’ve read all of the blogging advice. You know writing an outline helps keep your blog post to the point.

But try as you might, nothing’s happening. An empty page stares back at you. That blinking cursor is taunting you.

You want to teach your readers how to follow your processes. But they’re second nature to you. Trying to put them into a blog post seems impossible.

You know that you know everything you need for your post. But how do you get the ideas out of your brain and onto paper? How do you turn them into an outline?

Worry no more. We’re going to use the IKEA method to brain dump those ideas. Then we’ll assemble them into a solid blog post that will last for years to come.

How to use the Ikea Method to Write Blog Posts if You Hate Outlines

This blog post started out in that exact same way. It’s a process I’ve used for blog posts since 2009. It’s also a method I use in for writing fiction, and academic writing (much to the eternal annoyance of my Ph. D. supervisor).

So what’s the IKEA method, and how can it help you?

Step 1 – Dump all of the bits onto the floor.

What’s the first thing that you do when you get your IKEA flat pack home?

You tip all of the screws, bolts, and random Allen keys onto the floor.

We’ll start your blog post the same way. This is your brain dump. Set a timer and write everything you can about your topic. If it helps, write it in stream of consciousness.

That’s how this blog post started out.

No one ever has to see it but you. It’s how you’ll get to know all of the ideas you have to work with.

Step 2 – Group everything together by ‘type’.

In the IKEA method, this is the part where you’re matching the stuff on the floor with the instructions. If you’re anything like me, you’ll also count them before you put anything together.

You need to do the same thing with your blog post. Go through your notes and break up what you’ve written into chunks. Group your thoughts together by ‘type’.

Say you’re writing a post about how to make the transition from a day job to freelancing. This blog post is a chest of drawers in this metaphor.

How to use the Ikea Method to Write Blog Posts if You Hate Outlines

Put all of your thoughts about saving money and budgeting, ready for the transition, into one pile. That’s all of the parts you need for your first drawer.

Then you’ll put everything to do with time management into another pile. That’ll be your second drawer.

Rinse and repeat.

Like any IKEA assembly, you’ll always have parts left over that aren’t in the instructions. That’s okay. In my house, those extra odds and ends go into a drawer of random pieces, in case anything breaks later. Or sometimes they come in handy for completely unrelated DIY projects.

You should do the same. Open Evernote, Google Docs, Scrivener – whatever you write in. Copy and paste those ‘spare’ thoughts into a document. You never know when they’ll come in handy.

Step 3 – Start assembling your individual elements

Go back to your piles of bits/thoughts. Most people follow the instructions. Not me. I put furniture together in a more freestyle fashion. So if you hate outlines, this will be your new best friend.

How to use the Ikea Method to Write Blog Posts if You Hate Outlines

 

Take a look at your first pile of furniture parts/thoughts. They’re already grouped together, so that gives you your subhead for that section.

Start editing those loose, stream of consciousness thoughts into coherent sentences. Move them around into logical paragraphs.

Turn that subhead into something descriptive, so scanners can easily skim your post. Make sure it signposts your content.

Imagine we’re building a chest of drawers. This newly edited paragraph is your first finished drawer.

Move onto the next pile of thoughts and do the same thing. You’ve already done the hard work and gotten the thoughts together. Now you have to turn them into readable content.

Once you’ve run out of piles, you’ve got the individually assembled parts of your post. Using the IKEA method, they’re the drawers you put together before you slot them into the empty chest.

But how are you going to build the chest to fit the drawers into?

Step 4 – Build the container for your other elements

Look at your subheads. What’s the most logical order for them to follow? This is going to be the key to writing the engaging blog post you want to write.

So in our day job-to-freelancing post, you won’t put a paragraph about marketing your new business before one about carving out time to build a portfolio.

Arrange (and re-arrange, if necessary) the subheads you’ve written into a post that flows nicely.

And there’s the chest.

Slide each of the drawers into place by pasting the right paragraphs under the right subheads.

If you’re building IKEA furniture, this is the point where you tighten all of the screws. So for your IKEA-built blog post, you’ll edit your sentences so that the post flows. One section should set up the next, and so on.

How to use the Ikea Method to Write Blog Posts if You Hate Outlines

Step 5 – Find the best spot for your new furniture/blog post

In your home, you’d find the best place for your new piece of furniture. For your blog post, you’re looking for the right context.

And that’s your introduction. Craft your intro so that it sets up the information that follows. Give your chest of drawers/blog post a final polish.

And hey presto! You’ve used the IKEA method of assembly to brain dump and edit your way to an engaging blog post!

The IKEA method will help bloggers who can’t get to grips with outlines

When I brain-dumped this post, I started out with 637 words. They weren’t necessarily in the right order, but the ideas were there.

It took just 15 minutes to get everything down that I wanted to say. And then it took another 15 minutes to turn it into a 1000 word post.

If you hate using outlines, turning your thoughts into a useful post is a lot easier by brain-dumping and editing than trying to write the perfect post from scratch.

Why not give it a go? Choose your topic/piece of furniture and get started. Let me know in the comments below how you get on!

LJ Sedgwick writes blog posts and copy for startups while drinking more coffee than is healthy. You can find her blog posts about content marketing at her website.

 

The post How to Avoid Writing Boring Outlines using the IKEA Method appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

Don’t Lose your Funds to Amazon – How to Stay Within The Operating Agreement

don't-violate-amazon-agreement

This is a guest post by Cathy Tibbles of WPBarista

Recently a lot of warning bells were sounding around the internet because of some changes to the Amazon Associates program. Looking at Problogger’s experience and the success of several other bloggers using affiliate sales, this post will take you through the importance of using Amazon Associates (or deciding if it’s right for you); and how to keep your account open and funds within your grasp.

How much can you really make from affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is earning income by referring products to your readers. When they purchase your recommended products, it generates a commission payment for you.

To earn affiliate income, two things must be true:

  1. you must have earned some credibility and trust with your reader
  2. the item must be in some way relevant to the reader

Over the last 13 years, Darren has reported $600,000 from Amazon affiliates alone! Smart Passive Income reported $94,824 in affiliate income for the month of January 2017. Google can provide a healthy list of monthly income reports if you’re interested in more; but keep in mind that those reports are from a small section of the blogging community that reports their income. My guess is a disproportionately high number of them are blogs earning over $1000/month.

If you want to create an affiliate marketing income stream, one of the best run-throughs is right here on Problogger – Podcast Episode 51.

The main reason bloggers prefer Amazon’s affiliate program is because it is so well known. Easily recognised companies have a higher perceived trust value to our readers, and we all know that more trust equals more sales.

The downside is the often lower ticket items coupled with lower commission fees. To find out if Amazon Associates is the right affiliate company for you, see Darren’s Pros & Cons list in this post.

That brings us to point number two in our research – what on earth happened to make Amazon the ‘bad guy’ overnight?

Amazon Affiliates Program Not Paying

Amazon Associates, the name of their affiliate program, is chock-full of legal jargon and difficult to understand. So I took apart the interesting (read: controversial) parts of the Operating Agreement and contacted Amazon directly for clarification.

Before we get into the consequences, let’s look at what actions are worthy of these consequences, shall we?

  1. Of course there are a bunch of regular things – don’t display their Special Links (affiliate links) on any site with illegal or inappropriate (R rated) content; don’t artificially boost clicks or impressions, and don’t generally be sneaky, crooked or malicious. Fair enough.
  2. This is the part everyone is up in arms about:

    “6. You will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities… in connection with… the Program, that are not expressly permitted under the Operating Agreement… For example, you will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including … email or attachment to email…”

    *Emphasis mine. More on this below.

  3. Every blogger using Amazon Special Links, must display this:

    “We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.”

  4. You may not use a link shortening service. They further go on to say that you can’t cloak, redirect or in any way obscure the link. I don’t know about you, but I have a ton of affiliate links that are organised with link shorteners to make it easier to link to! This is a no-no. In fact, the Operating Agreement says that you cannot use your own links in any way – you must use their supplied images, their links and their ‘code’.
  5. If you currently have posts or sidebars that pop-up, or any popup at all, they cannot contain any Amazon Special Link.And what dire consequences will Amazon level at you?

>>> Immediate account closure and forfeiture of all earned funds.<<<

From the Operating Agreement:

If you violate this Agreement… then, in addition to any other rights or remedies available to us, we reserve the right to withhold… any and all fees otherwise payable to you under this Agreement, whether or not directly related to such violation.

Yes, that says you will forfeit your fees, whether or not they are directly related to the particular infraction. I’m guessing even the rebels among us are motivated to stay in line, at least until we find new affiliate companies.

Now, let me take a moment to tell you why #2 above impacts 99% of bloggers …

99% of You are Violating the Operating Agreement

Do you use feeds? Are you familiar with that glorious machine-readable version of your blog that lets us download your blogs and read at our leisure. We use our own favorite feed reader like Feedly or Bloglovin.

Whether you know this or not, your feed (in WordPress) is always available and anyone can access it.

Interested in trying this?

Go to yourblog.com/feed and you can see a bunch of awful looking code-stuff. That, my friends, is your feed!

Another very common use of the feed, is to attach it to a mass email provider – like Mailchimp or Convertkit – and send your posts automatically to subscribers. Do you see where I’m going with this?
If you link to Amazon Special Links within your posts and you serve your feed via email, you are violating the Operating Agreement.
Promoting your Special Links in blog posts and blog posts via email have to be pretty much the same thing, right? That’s what I thought… so I asked Amazon. Here is Cody, the service representative’s reply:

“Associate links can only be used on approved websites and are not permitted to be used in e-mails, newsletters or in any off-line manner. Sending links via email will cause your Associates Account to be shut down indefinitely.”

Um. I guess they take a different view.
So. Emails are out.
Let’s talk about maintaining delivery of your posts to subscribers’ emails, and somehow keeping Amazon happy at the same time.

Amazon Special Links & Email Dilemma

Solution One:

  1. Move all Special Links to the bottom of posts in a “Shop This Post” area.
  2. Change your emails to send excerpts only. This can be done either in your settings, or in your email program.

The downside is that you’ll need to edit each post! Uggg.

Solution Two:

  1. For WordPress users, install this plugin (disclosure: happens to be mine!) and it will automatically change all links (in the feed only) to point to your site.
    (Cathy’s plugin has been screened by ProBlogger’s own developer)

Downside – The reader will expect to be taken to Amazon, and instead will be redirected back to the post, where they can click again to purchase.
Two steps is not ideal, but at least you don’t have to edit each post, and you’re not in violation of the program.
Do you have another solution? Let us know in the comments!
And… like anytime our income is threatened, it’s a good idea to review your income streams and diversify!

Cathy Tibbles is the founder of WordPress Barista – your geeky girlfriends partnering with bloggers to take care of the technical aspects of blogging. 

The post Don’t Lose your Funds to Amazon – How to Stay Within The Operating Agreement appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

7 Tips for Increasing Social Media Engagement

7 Tips for Increasing Social Media Engagement

This is a guest contribution from Kristie McCollum.

When it comes to creating your social media strategy, it’s always good to keep things fresh and evolving. There are a few things you can do to keep your marketing content engaging even as trends change.

Whether you are just starting a blog or have been blogging for years and traffic and engagement (or even sales) have reached a halt, it’s time for you to transform your social media marketing strategy.

Why is social media marketing important for a blogger?

As a new or seasoned blogger, it’s important for you to create a community around your blog. Your community is going to be made up of loyal readers, people who share your content, and those who purchase products or services consistently.

Social media is the bridge that connects your audience with your content.

Having a solid social media marketing strategy is going to not only increase traffic and engagement, but it will also increase your income.

Check out the following ways to transforming your social media marketing strategy if you are ready to:

  • Increase your blog traffic
  • See better engagement across social media and on your blog
  • Build a supportive and loyal community of readers and buyers

1. Set Defined Goals

Before you can even begin mapping out your social media marketing strategy, you have to set clear and well defined goals. You need to know exactly where you are and where you want to go.

Think of your goals as your GPS. Document your starting place and where you want to end. For example, I am starting with a group of 100 people in my Facebook group and I’d like to have 1,000 by the end of the year. Having defined goals will eliminate the guesswork and you’ll also have to opportunity to see just how much you’ve grown over time.

2. Deliver Content Wisely

Your audience’s problems are not only key to your content marketing strategy but also your social media strategy.

You have to not only provide great content, but provide great content in a way that your audience can best receive it. If your target audience is young male body builders, you may best reach them with live videos or short video clips that they can watch while at the gym versus long wordy posts.

Ensuring that what you are creating is received in the best way possible by your audience is going to increase engagement greatly.

3. Ask Questions

Such a simple thing is often overlooked. Simply asking questions at the end of social media posts can really increase engagement and even shares. Many of the post that do well for me are concluded with a question.

You can even do things to get your audience more involved: for example, asking them to tag a friend or share their favorites, or top things related to your post topic.

4. Share Content from Top Influencers

This can really help increase engagement. You should already be sharing 80% of others’ content, but many people are not sure what to share or whose content to share.

Try taking a look at some of the content of the top influencers within your niche. By sharing their content, you are showing your audience that they can trust you because you are willing to reach outside of your own work to connect them to useful content. When your audience feels that they can trust what you share, they begin to trust you and your brand and will be more willing to interact and engage with your content.

5. Focus on What Works For You

Just because you see others doing well on Facebook, doesn’t mean Facebook is for you or your blog.

Be sure to check your analytics and take note of which social media platforms are driving the most engaging traffic. I get a lot of traffic from Facebook because of the promotional groups I participate in. This isn’t engaging traffic.

Wherever you are getting organic traffic, that’s where you should focus your efforts. Every platform isn’t designed for every blog or blogger. Go where your audience is. My audience is made up of moms so Pinterest is a great platform to focus my efforts on. Focus on what works best for you, not on what others say you should focus on.

6. Be Transparent

It’s okay to be open with your audience. You don’t have to give everything away, but you should share some personal moments from time to time with your audience.

Social media allows us to connect with our audience in a more personable way. Use it to make sure you are creating that connection. Post a photo of your dog lying next to you while you work, share a story about a time you failed in your business, things like that not only connect us, but humanize our brands.

When your audience gets to learn more about the real you, they will want to engage and connect with you more.

7. Always Link to a Product

Whether it’s paid or free, you should always be sending your audience to some sort of product or service.

You want to give value in your posts and videos but always send them to get more. Every interaction is an opportunity. Many of us are afraid to promote ourselves, but if this is your livelihood, then you have to do more.

Link to opt-ins or paid products or services in your bios, on Pinterest, on live videos, within Facebook groups, on Twitter, everywhere. Remember, social media is a bridge. Use that bridge to get your audience to your blog, business, products, and services.

Social media is ever-changing. But you can always do these things to help you stay relevant and keep your audience engaged with your content.

Be sure to be social and actively respond and connect with your audience. Many people lose support by failing to respond to messages or comments. Even a simple, “thank you for sharing” goes a long way.

Whatever challenges you face in the world of social media marketing, remember to focus on what works best for you and what will allow you to best connect with your audience.

Kristie is a work at home mom of three and serves mompreneurs as a social media and brand strategist. You can connect with Kristie at The Official CEO Mom or follow her on Twitter.

The post 7 Tips for Increasing Social Media Engagement appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

How to Use SMS Marketing to Boost Your Blog’s Audience

SMS marketing for Bloggers - ProBlogger.com

This guest post is by Josh Sayers of Adventure Connections

Remember SMS? That old-school way of texting people before the dawn of i-message and Whatsapp?

Don’t worry, most people have forgotten all about it too! Did you know that 98% of all text messages are read and, although most people don’t like to admit it, 90% of those messages are read within 3 seconds of receiving!

When was the last time your latest blog got those kind of statistics?

Make sure your blog is mobile friendly

Now that I’ve got your attention, the first thing to do is to ensure that your blog is mobile optimized. It seems like a bizarre tip to mention in 2017, but according to a recent survey from BaseKit, 91% of all small businesses do not have a mobile optimised site. Just remember that 100% of your messages are going to be sent to a mobile device!

Once your site is mobile friendly you can start working on your SMS campaign. Ready to go?

Outline your consumer life cycle

First things first, outline your target audience lifecycle.

Segment your audiences so that they receive tailored and personalised messages – nobody likes random spam messages that they’re not interested in.

1. Potential Customers

If somebody has browsed your blog and entered their details into your lead magnet, add them to your hit list. You can send them messages about your latest posts, special offers or an article that you want to particularly push. There’s a reason why they gave you their number, give the people what they want!

2. Existing Customers

Have you got a database of readers that are waiting to go on an event or recently purchased a service / product through your e-shop? This is your chance to up-sell. Get them excited and back on your site! Now that another pay-day has passed they may be interested in that premium product that you’re so eager to sell.

3. Previous Customers

Everyone loves a returning visitor but if they’ve got other things on their minds then they might need a quick tap on the shoulder or a buzz in their pockets.

Planning is key

When you’ve finalised your segments, you can start planning your campaigns.

Don’t worry folks, the beauty of SMS marketing is that it’s not as tedious as email campaigns! It’s all plain text and no designing skills are required. All you need to do is plan your text and pop in a short url link to your blog.

Although there’s a lot of scepticism around short-urls in today’s world; using a long tailed url link tends to fill up half of a mobile screen, which is what triggers the spam radar with most mobile users. Remember to test your SMS campaigns on multiple handheld devices and only send it when you’re completely happy with the presentation.

Sender ID

When creating an SMS campaign it is important to add a sender ID, people like to know quickly where the text came from and make sure that it’s not another spam message from a pestering PPI company. Make sure you set it as either your brand name or a keyword that your audience will associate with you.

Keep it personal

If you’re stuck choosing what text to insert, just think about what you’d like to see from a branded text message. Although you have 160 characters to use, you need to include a call to action, your blog link and be sure to keep upbeat. Oh, and please, please, please double check for spelling errors and typos!

“Even when you are marketing to your entire audience or customer base, you are still simply speaking to a single human at any given time.” – Ann Handley

As you’ll quickly come to realise the majority of your texts will be linking your audience to your latest blog post. Including a special offer within your post and text is a great way of capturing your reader’s attention.

One tip that will immediately boost your open rate is by stating when the offer or link expires. A sense of urgency will always boost engagement, even if it’s a simple bit of text at the end of the message.

Wait for the right moment

As with everything in the marketing world, timing is everything. As you can see in the image below, email opens tend to continue over a period of 24-48 hours before dwindling out. However, SMS campaigns spike within the hour.

If you want to maximise your open rate ensure that you’ve scheduled them to send at the correct time. Chances are, if your recipient is at work, they’re going to read it and then forget about it. You want to target people when they’re most on their mobiles, which tends to be during lunch and late evening.

Take it easy

Don’t be too trigger happy. People have learnt to tolerate email marketing letters on a monthly, weekly and sometimes even daily basis, but customers are not accustomed to receiving multiple text messages.

One quick way to get yourself unsubscribed is to send too many texts, so hold out and wait for a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of deal before creating a blanket campaign. Target your favourite customers through your mobile analytics and you’ll be able to maximise your results without pestering people and tarnishing your brand. As soon as people get annoyed, every time they see one of your posts, they’ll grunt.

If you start using my tips, I’d love to know how they helped you! Let me know your experiences in the comments or on Twitter.

Josh helps manage the Adventure Connections website, who specialise in organising team building events in the UK.

The post How to Use SMS Marketing to Boost Your Blog’s Audience appeared first on ProBlogger.

      

A Practical Look at Turning Your Blog into a Functioning Business

Following last week’s post on treating your blog like a business, this guest post from Anna Johansson provides some practical ways you can start turning your blog into a business.

In many cases, blogging starts out as a hobby or creative outlet for someone looking to have a little fun writing about a topic that interests them. But at some point, most bloggers reach a fork in the road where they have to decide whether they want to continue their blog as a personal endeavour or turn it into a professional pursuit. Considering there’s a lot of money to be made in blogging, a lot of people choose the latter route.

The problem? It’s not an easy road. Trying to turn a blog into a profitable business takes strategic planning, hard work, and precise execution. But if you think you have what it takes, it’s definitely worth a shot.

How Much Do Successful Blogs Earn?

Before diving headfirst into blogging as a business endeavour, most people reasonably ask, “How much can I make?” Well, there isn’t an easy answer to that question. It depends on dozens, if not hundreds of factors. Some make a few dollars on the side, while the largest blogs on the internet produce more than a million dollars per month.

The Huffington Post, for example, which is technically a blog, reportedly makes $2.33 million per month. Mashable brings in a healthy $600,000 in monthly earnings. The popular Life Hacker blog earns $110,000 per month, while the lesser-known Shoe Money blog brings in $30,000 per month.

If your head is suddenly spinning with ideas at the prospect of earning between $30,000 and $2.33 million per month…slow down. These are some of the most successful blogs in the world. Most people will never come close to sniffing these figures in a year, let alone in a month. However, it is possible. When you compare these blogs to the ones that make just $25, $500, or $1,000 per month, there’s an obvious difference in the approach. The more successful ones treat their blogs like functioning businesses – not hobbies.

Five Ways to Turn Your Blog Into a Business

While you aren’t going to make $30,000 per month from your blog any time soon, who’s to say you can’t start making $300 or $3,000 per month by the end of the year? It’s far from easy – and many fail trying – but the first key is to start treating your blog like a fully functioning business that’s hell-bent on bolstering the bottom line.

There’s obviously way more on this topic than can be fit into a single article, but let’s review some of the things you need to do and think about as you shift your mindset towards building a business.

1. Don’t Do it Alone

Most bloggers operate as a one-man team. At best, they solicit help from their spouse or a close friend. But would you ever attempt to build a successful business without ever hiring an employee, advisor, or partner? Hopefully, the answer is no because solopreneurs rarely taste success. If they do, they end up working themselves to death.

“No one is good at everything. We may have expertise in many areas, but we aren’t experts at every thing,” blogging coach Lisa Kerr says. “That’s why it’s important to find and build a team when you have a big goal. Actors have agents and managers. Writers have agents and editors. Public officials have an entire staff. Companies have dozens of teams. The fact is we need other people’s expertise.”

Don’t think you have the resources to hire writers, editors, and marketing pros up front? Feel free to get creative. Offer small amounts of equity in the blog. Trade content on your blog in turn for content on their blog. Provide a talent you have in return for a service they can provide.

The point is that you can’t cultivate a thriving blog without having some support. The demand for quality content is simply too high and there aren’t enough hours in the day for you to handle everything that’s required.

2. Find Your Voice

One concept new bloggers often struggle with is the idea that their blog can’t be everything to everyone. They want a blog that reaches the masses – therefore, they generalise everything they do in order to appease as many people as they can.

Hint: That doesn’t work.

Think about the most successful blogs in the world – such as the ones referenced earlier – and consider that even they don’t attempt to reach everyone. The Huffington Post targets liberal people on the far-left – specifically younger liberals. Mashable is squarely aimed at millennials. Life Hacker targets millennials who want to learn practical skills. Shoe Money targets people who are interested in earning money online.

These blogs still reach millions of people, but they’re able to do so because they don’t attempt to overextend their reach. There’s a fine line between targeting a niche with a large enough audience to build a profitable business around and trying to reach everyone on the internet. The difference between the two is identifying a voice for your blog and sticking to it.

“A voice, with respect to your blog, is a feel or style evoked in your writing that causes the reader to personalise what she is reading,” entrepreneur and blogger Jeff Goins explains. “Your readers begin to construct a person based on the voice of your blog. And when that happens, your blog ceases to be all things to all people and becomes something very particular to a certain group of people. And that is okay. That is the whole point.”

Not sure where to start? Large companies usually craft “style guides,” which establish standards for writing that can then be referred to when there are questions on language, tone, grammar, and structure.

And as a point of clarification – because there seem to be lots of misconceptions on the idea of developing a blogging voice – you can’t just copy someone else’s style. “If you’re going to develop your own style – your own blogging voice – you can’t just take another person’s voice,” blogger Jeni Elliot says. “You have to take everything, everyone that influences you and filter it through your own personality.”

Sit down and think about who you’re trying to connect with (your target audience) and how they talk and write. Do they use big words, or are they short and to the point? Are they sarcastic or literal? Do they prefer slang or grammatically correct sentences? Once you start uncovering these little facts, you’ll naturally find yourself developing a voice.

Your voice is your brand. Just as a business can’t survive without a recognisable brand, your blog can’t thrive without a voice that connects with readers. Don’t rush this process, but certainly don’t delay it. You’ll find that your voice will evolve over time, but the key principles will remain the same.

3. Create Value With Your Content

Monetisation may take place through other vessels (more on that in the following section), but for all intents and purposes, content is your currency. If you don’t have good content, your blog (business) doesn’t stand a chance of surviving. Specifically, your content needs to create value for your users.

Did you know that 94 percent of people who share blog posts do so because they think it’ll be helpful to others? In other words, people want content that’s constructive and applicable to their lives, not vague prose that lacks purpose. And while length isn’t always indicative of value, the average word count for top ranking content on Google is somewhere between 1,140-1,285 words.

The point is that while revenue may be produced in other ways, your blog’s content is what drives traffic to your business. Without content, everything else withers away. Consistently create valuable content that aligns with your voice and you’ll do well.

In addition to word length,valuable content is defined by actionability. Is the content you’re providing your readers with able to spur action and drive real results? Google wants semantically pleasing content, or content that answers questions.

Let’s compare two pieces of content to get a better idea of what we’re talking about here. We’ll start with this article, titled Carpenter Bees, Genus Xylocopa. It’s a fine article with good quality writing, but it doesn’t really provide the reader with any value. All it does is explain the characteristics of carpenter bees. Unless you’re merely looking for head knowledge, the article is pretty useless.

Now contrast that previous example with this article, titled 13 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Carpenter Bees. This article provides practical tips and suggestions for homeowners looking to ward off carpenter bees and prevent damage to their homes. After reading it, people can apply the knowledge learned. They’re also much more willing to share via their social profiles. Do you see the difference?

In order to create value with your content, you need to move your readers to action and give them a reason to share. It may sound obvious, but if you go back and review your posts from the past, you’ll find that many of them don’t create much tangible value.

4. Develop a Monetisation Strategy

In the beginning, when you’re still trying to transition from hobby blog to moneymaking business venture, the focus needs to be on creating quality content and engaging readers. However, as your audience grows and you start to see results, you should also start looking at opportunities for monetising your blog and driving revenue.

There are more than a dozen ways to monetise a blog, so you’ll have to experiment with some ideas and see what works for you. However, these are the most common techniques:

  • Product sales. Presently, one of the more profitable monetisation strategies is to sell physical or virtual products to blog visitors. Some bloggers choose to build online courses and sell access to customers, while others like to create tangible products and sell them through an ecommerce portal on the blog.
  • Advertising. The classic strategy is to turn pageviews into revenue by attracting advertisers and charging them for space on your blog. You can do this through banner advertising, CPM advertising, or even pay per click ads via Google AdSense.
  • Affiliate sales. If your blog is an industry where there are lots of different products and services from various businesses, you may find it profitable to join affiliate marketing programs and sell their products on commission. You don’t want to dive too deep into affiliate marketing or you may water down your blog’s value, but there’s a lot of money to be made in this niche.
  • Subscriptions. Finally, there are subscriptions. If your content is valuable enough, then you may be able to create premium content and stick it behind a “paywall” where loyal readers have to pay a monthly or annual fee to access it.

The key is to stay honest to your blog’s purpose and voice. You don’t want to pursue some monetisation technique that stands contrary to your blog’s long-term focus just to make a quick buck. You’re trying to build a sustainable business, not develop a side hustle. It’s always better to forgo a little revenue up front if it means making a smart decision for the future of your business.

5. Take Charge of Your Accounting

One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs encounter when trying to build their blog into a successful business is not knowing what to do with their finances. They end up mixing personal and business accounts, failing to keep meticulous records, and making other costly mistakes that could eventually get them in trouble with the IRS.

When it comes to taxes, you need to remember that you’re responsible for paying estimated quarterly taxes. This means you’ll have to set aside a portion of your earnings each quarter and cut a check to the IRS. Stay on top of this or you’ll quickly fall behind.

“On a monthly basis, when you review your P&L statement, put aside a percentage of your profit for taxes into a separate savings account,” accountant Brittany Turner suggests “A safe percentage to put away of your profit for taxes is about 30%. Your actual percentage may be more or less, depending on a number of factors, such as your total exemptions, your incorporation status, and your itemized deductions.”

Treat Your Blog Like a Business

There isn’t a ton of up-to-date information on the subject, but according to a survey conducted a few years back, just 7.4 million of the 133 million blogs tracked had been updated in the 120 days leading up to the study. Assuming that a blog needs to be updated at least once every four months in order to be considered profitable, that means roughly 95 percent of blogs are failures.

If you want your blog to be a part of the five percent that actually thrive, then you need to treat it like a business. It’s easier said than done, but you have to start somewhere.

Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, HuffingtonPost.com and more, Anna specialises in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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