The Power of Business Blogging: Why You Need to Start Today

The Power of Business Blogging: Why You Need to Start Today

No matter whether you’re an established brand or a budding startup, using a blog to grow your business could lead to dramatic growth for your company. Consider this simple fact: brands that create 15 blog posts a month average a whopping 1,200 new leads in that period. (source) With statistics like those, it’s hard to overlook the hidden potential business blogging offers. Looking for even more benefits? Consider the following six reasons business blogging simply makes sense.

1. Blogging Leads to More Followers

According to Twitter, interesting content is one of the top reasons users follow brands on social media. As a social media marketer, you’re competing with billion-dollar companies, entertainment conglomerates, and every other business tweeting around the clock. Without content that resonates, you’ll struggle to gain any traction. Start blogging and watch the visitors come knocking on your door.

2. Companies with Blogs Receive 97% More Links

Getting others to share the word about your business is an important goal, and few techniques are as effective as creating a blog. In fact, research suggests that companies with blogs receive 97% more links than sites with static content—that’s nearly twice as many inbound links.

3. Blogging Makes a Long-term Impact

When it comes to spending your marketing dollars, it’s important to consider the overall return on your investment. Whereas PPC campaigns and other advertising initiatives only influence immediate traffic, blogs can pull in new visitors for years to come. Focus on creating “evergreen content”—content that is not time-sensitive—to maximize your blog’s potential.

4. Frequent Posts Impact Your Search Ranking

Appearing higher in the results on a popular search engine is about much more than vanity. The higher your site ranks for a particular keyword, the more likely a web user will click your link. Frequently posting encourages search bots to index your site, while the ranking algorithms use factors like the number of active posts to determine site authority.

5. Small Businesses with Blogs Generate More Leads

Thinking blogging only makes sense for big brands with thousands of active followers? Think again. Research shows that small businesses with blogs generate up to 126% more leads, as opposed to businesses that neglect online marketing altogether. Can you think of a single reason not to double your leads with a blog?

6. New Content Keeps Users Engaged

Attracting an audience online is a tricky equation that requires plenty of hard work. Pulling new visitors to your site is only half the equation; you also must work on keeping their attention. Routinely publishing new content helps keep your followers interested in what you have to say, which in turn affects the overall health of your business.

How to Write an RFP for a Website Redesign

How to Write an RFP for a Website Redesign

So, you need a to find an agency to manage your website redesign, but you don’t know how to weed through the endless array of development firms vying for your marketing dollars. Choosing the right option for your redesign shouldn’t feel like an impossible mission, but many small business owners find it downright overwhelming. Writing an RFP, or request for proposal, will help you narrow down the solutions available to you.

Ready to get started? Use the tips below to write an effective RFP that will save you both time and money.

What Should My RFP Include?

Many entrepreneurs wonder if writing an RFP is even worth the effort when it’s relatively easy to ask for a quote from a web designer. The short answer is a resounding yes! An RFP will ensure you receive the best product at a competitive price.

Your RFP should perform a few different functions. Firstly, it announces your intent to compare a firm’s quote against its competitors. This gives you a headstart on the negotiation process before it even begins. The RFP also outlines the expectations and needs of the project, ensuring no wires are crossed down the road. RFPs detail the scope of a project, explore the limitations of your existing site and include your requirements for the submitted proposal. Finally, an RFP must reference budget information.

Provide the Right Context

Unless you’re a budding web developer in your own right, you’re probably more familiar with your goals than the solutions your website should use. Instead of providing a laundry list of “must have” features, use your RFP to explain what you’re looking for and why. By giving the recipient some flexibility, you may find you receive better suggestions and recommendations.

Keep the Right Perspective

While it may be true that the buying power rests in your hands, don’t offend your developer with a bevy of proposal requirements and a ridiculously low budget. Also, you may be ready to start working on your new project tomorrow, but a busy developer likely has to juggle a full roster of other clients jostling for his attention. Don’t insist on an extremely tight lead time, and don’t act like you know everything. Remember, you’re partnering with an expert for a reason—they know what it takes to get the job done right.

Once you’ve drafted your RFP, take some time to customize it for each web designer you contact. A template RFP may provide a smart starting point, but you don’t want to spam 12 different companies with your request and sit back on your laurels. Instead, aim to initiate a conversation about what you’re looking for, and use your RFP to crystalize your wants and needs. By taking this approach, you’re bound to find a development partner who will work diligently to bring your vision to life.

Web Design 101: Using Color to Boost Conversions

Most small business owners don’t give the color of their website much thought—after all, a design’s visual appeal is most important, right? In fact, your site’s design should extend far beyond appearance, by incorporating colors that can land you more sales. If you’re not already familiar with colors role in design and how it can alter the perceptions of your buyer, learn how you can utilize colors to boost your online conversions.

Why Does Color Matter?

Colors evoke emotions and subconscious responses from consumers. Yellow and orange tones project happiness and optimism, while most buyers see blue as trustworthy and dependable. In addition to these general ideas, different target groups vary in their color preferences. For example, many female buyers don’t like orange and brown, while men don’t like purple. A few simple color changes can make or break a company’s branding and marketing initiatives.

Finding the Best Color for Conversions

A number of detailed case studies have taken a closer look at color on the web, in an effort to pinpoint which colors help buyers land more sales. Some studies have found that using a red button instead of a green button can produce up to 34% more results. Before you fill your site with red buttons, however, it’s important to understand that color is merely a portion of the conversion equation.

See, while color is undeniably important, it’s even more important to understand your audience. Many case studies and A/B tests have revealed results that seem completely contradictory to one another. That doesn’t mean that one color is necessarily better than the other, it simply means the site’s visitors respond better to one option in a particular case. Confused yet?

How to Realistically Choose the Right Color

Is color one of the most important elements of a website’s design? Yes—and yet, even the most talented marketers in the world are split on the best ways to implement color. As Unbounce points out, there is no single button shape, size, or color that will work perfectly in every situation. Instead, try to use colors that stand out and don’t be afraid to experiment to find the right fit.

Choosing the right colors for your website’s design is no easy process, and unfortunately, there are no definitive answers you can apply across the board. Don’t be discouraged, however. Treat your site like an ever-evolving tool to help you better market your business. Experiment wildly and see what you’re able to produce. If you have the resources to do so, consider testing different designs and colors to see what resonates best with consumers. Above all else, know your buyer—with a clearly defined target audience in mind, you’ll be better able to gauge a visitor’s response to your business site.

Tweet This: How to Maximize Your Social Media Impact with Status Scheduling

When it comes to building a dedicated following on social media platforms, most people fall into one of two camps: you either can’t get enough, or it feels like a massive chore. Whether you’re wasting too much time on Twitter and Facebook, or you can’t bring yourself to craft a single update, scheduling your statuses in advance can have a powerful effect on your overall social strategy.

Think you’re ready for the challenge? Use the following keys to maximize your social media impact and save time, too.

What is Status Scheduling?

Most casual social media users write statuses on a whim, uploading this information through the sites of their favorite social platforms. Heavy users and marketers instead rely on tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.

These tools allow you to simultaneously update multiple accounts, shorten links, and schedule your statuses far in advance. It’s also worth noting that Twitter now allows business users to schedule tweets in advance through Twitter for Business.

A scheduled status looks just like a normal status, except it’s uploaded into the system in advance of its eventual publication. If you’re trying to keep your feed continually updated, you can schedule statuses to appear like clockwork every few hours or days, based on your unique social strategy.

Why to Schedule in Advance

Scheduling your regular updates in advance can help you save time and keep your social media accounts fresh. If you routinely go weeks without updating your social profiles, scheduling large blocks of updates several days in advance can help you stay on top of your strategy. Simply set your statuses to publish and forget about it.

Dos and Don’ts to Follow

Think you’re ready to start automating your updates? Before you jump in feet first, keep the following keys in mind:

● Do: Focus on evergreen content. Don’t write time-sensitive updates that won’t be relevant when they appear days later.
● Don’t: Automatically tweet to people who mention your brand. This feels inauthentic and spammy.
● Do: Smatter your relevant updates between scheduled statuses to keep your feed spontaneous.
● Don’t: Overlook the performance of your statuses. If you’re using a tool like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, it’s easy to review how many people are clicking your links, favoriting your updates, and sharing your content with others.
● Do: Carefully consider when your statuses should appear. It’s smart to target users when they’re likely active on social media. Before work, lunchtime, and in the early evening are all great options.

Scheduling tweets and updates far in advance has some great applications. Use it to stick to a tight editorial calendar or schedule a bunch of statuses to update while you’re disconnected on a long vacation. Whatever you do, don’t allow automation to make you lazy. Continue to invest your best efforts into your social strategy and you’re bound to see results.

Plenty of brands successfully use automation to simplify their social media activities. While it may appear intimidating at first glance, learning to schedule updates is quite simple. If automation fits within your social strategy, pay attention to your social performance and continue making tweaks to ensure you’re getting the most out of your social media presence. Happy tweeting!

Ten Tips for Shaping and Sharing Your Brand’s Story

Ten Tips for Shaping and Sharing Your Brand’s Story

As you strive to connect with consumers, it’s important to build a comprehensive marketing strategy for your brand. While traditionally this process involves identifying your target audience, crafting a meaningful value proposition, and addressing the pain points your customers face, brand storytelling should also form a fundamental component of your marketing endeavors.

Sharing your brand’s story evokes an emotional response, in turn contributing to increased brand loyalty and an uptick in sales. Use the following ten tips to begin sharing your brand’s story in a relevant, fruitful manner.

1. Start from the Beginning
Before you hit the drawing board for your next marketing campaign, work to outline a story arc for your brand. Cater to an audience who may have no understanding of what your brand represents.

2. Capture the Audience’s Attention
Emotion is the driving force behind many of the most successful marketing campaigns in history. Think of iconic advertisements that caught the world’s attention—from I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke to those heart-wrenching Sarah McLachlan ASPCA commercials, emotion captures the audience’s attention.

3. Develop Your Characters
Just as a novelist labors of his portrayal of his protagonist, work to let the personality of your brand’s players shine through. No matter whether you’re highlighting executives within your company or customers themselves, characters push your story development forward.

4. Focus on Authenticity
Sharing a story does not mean you should create a tall tale. Instead, you want to build brand trust by telling a truthful story that highlights the strengths of your brand. Don’t alienate would-be customers by spinning inauthentic yarns.

5. Reveal Your Brand Value

As enjoyable as a good story can be, your ultimate goal isn’t simply to entertain. Your value proposition should shine through every element of your story. Maintain that focus to get the most out of your storytelling efforts.

6. Embrace Cross-platform Storytelling;
Storytelling in the 21st century extends far beyond the confines of a simple advertisement or two. Cross-platform storytelling boosts message retention and visibility of your story.

7. Build an Editorial Calendar
If you read a chapter or two of a novel and then pick it up again several months later, you likely won’t remember where you left off. The same is true for your audience. Don’t publish a single blog post and wait for months on end. Build an editorial calendar and keep your story moving.

8. Provide a Timeline
Good stories have a definite timeline: beginning, middle, and end. Take your audience on a journey, but don’t lose your customers by segmenting your story. Strive to offer a clear start and finish for every part of your story.

9. Keep Your Message Consistent

Consistently changing your brand’s voice will leave your audience confused. Don’t breed distrust by changing your message too frequently. Make certain every story you share contributes to the overall identity of your brand.

10. Don’t Show All of Your Cards

When sharing a powerful story, it may feel tempting to give your audience all the pieces in one fell swoop. While it is important to provide components that can stand on their own, try to keep your readers engaged by building a story that gradually unfolds across your various marketing channels.

SEO Strategies: Top 10 Reasons to Use Google Analytics

When it comes to optimizing your SEO strategy and improving your conversion rate, few resources offer the undeniable benefits of Google Analytics. This full-featured tool allows you to easily review visitor behavior patterns, narrow down acquisition methods and improve your retention numbers. Best of all, you won’t pay a single cent to deploy Google Analytics on your business site. If you’re still on the fence, consider the following ten reasons that clearly explain the benefits Google Analytics offers.

1. Get Helpful Insight with Google Documentation

Handling the complicated back-end of your website doesn’t have to feel intimidating. Become a pro in no time by following Google’s in-depth guides for making the most of your Analytics account.

2. Closely Monitor Your Load Times

Slow loading pages are perhaps the single greatest detriment to user experience. Even more importantly, speed has an impact on your site’s page ranking. Carefully monitor your load times with Google Analytics with Site Speed.

3. Track Events Easily

Keyword statistics and click-through rates are great, but sometimes you need a clear look at what’s taking place on your page. Event tracking makes it possible to carefully monitor behavior like video views, resource downloads, and ad clicks.

4. Follow Your Visitors in Real-Time

Feeling somewhat impatient? Rather than waiting for visitor numbers, keep tabs on your site with Real-Time Reporting. This tool makes it easy to measure the impact of recent social media activity or a new blog post, for example.

5. Measure the Impact of Your Marketing Campaigns

Carefully monitor the impact of your marketing efforts with Campaign Tracking. Use Google’s URL Builder to create links with unique parameters, and follow your progress within the Analytics Console.

6. Define Your Visitors

When it comes to targeting local buyers, it’s important to ensure your SEO strategy works. Use Google Analytics to measure information like visitor location. Uninspiring numbers? Consider using paid search that offers geo-targeting options to better connect with your target audience.

7. Cater to the Mobile User

Nearly half of the search queries Google serves come from mobile devices, and this uptick in traffic shows no sign of stopping. Use Google Analytics to monitor the behavior of your mobile visitors, with reports that provide essential insight you can use to better target and cater to these customers.

8. Track Social Engagement

Wonder how well your social media efforts are paying off? Use Google Analytics to easily track your social impact. The platform is compatible with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and many of the other most popular networks.

9. Find What Your Readers Want

Looking for inspiration for your next blog post? Respond to the requests of your readers by monitoring their search queries on your site. Turn on site search tracking to see what visitors look for using your search bar.

10. Identify Your Best and Worst Pages

Use page insight to determine what pages are logging the most views and keeping visitors on the site. You can also examine your exit pages to figure out what pages need to be reworked to keep visitors engaged.