How Does a Blog Help You Sell More Stuff?

Blog displayed on laptopMany business owners find marketing and making sales difficult.  It just doesn’t feel right to blow your own trumpet. If you love your business, but hate sales and marketing, blogging can be a godsend.

This is because blogging allows you to be yourself. You can write about your service or product in detail, showing your in-depth knowledge and your passion for what you do, but without coming across as salesy or overhyped.  A blog allows the authentic, real you to come across.

Writing a regular blog you build up an archive of fantastic material which is ready and waiting for anyone who visits your website and wants to find out more about you and what you do. It makes it easy to develop a relationship with the casual visitor to your website. By the time they have flicked through a few of your blog posts they will feel that they know you, they may well trust you, and pretty soon they will probably reach out to make contact with you.

The hard work has been done and making a sale to this person is easy. You don’t have to prove yourself to them because they already know all about you and the great service or product you provide.

And there’s more!

A regular blog will boost your search engine ranking because:

  • Google likes websites that are updated regularly and will give them a higher ranking
  • A blog gives you the opportunity to use your keywords and keyphrases, in an appropriate way, so that you will rank more highly for those keywords and keyphrases
  • If you share your blog post on social media, and it gets some Likes, Shares and Retweets, the blog post’s search engine ranking may well improve as a result

A blog sets you apart on social media

If you use social media to promote your business a blog gives you the edge over your competition. If you post original content on your Facebook page or LinkedIn profile it is worth far more than a bunch of Likes and Shares. On Twitter, a snippet of your blog post and a link to the full post will raise your profile and drive traffic to your website.

Hopefully this has convinced you to start blogging! If you need help or don’t know where to start get in touch.

Next month I will share some advice on how to write your blog posts for maximum impact.

Why GDPR is Good News

The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into effect next month on May 25th. They are designed to give individuals more control over their data and how it is used.

From a small business point of view this should be seen as good news. For two reasons:

  1. You will no longer receive annoying emails from people who met you briefly at a networking event and then added you to their email list without asking you first.
  2. If you use email as part of your marketing mix, GDPR gives you an incentive to review your list and make sure that you are using it in the best way.

Email Marketing and GDPR

If you send marketing emails to clients and prospective clients you need to be aware that under GDPR there are two main criteria among others (6 in total) under which it is acceptable to hold personal data for e-marketing purposes:

  1. Legitimate interest – holding the personal details of past and present clients should fall into this category. As long as your emails are related to the product or service they have bought from you.
  2. Consent – it is OK to hold the details of individuals or companies who have given you their explicit consent. You need to be able to prove this. If you are using an email marketing system, such as Mailchimp, this should be stored and accessible on your account. If you have added people to that list without their consent, or if you are not using an email marketing system, you should contact those subscribers and confirm they are happy to continue to be on your mailing list.

Two further important points:

Unsubscribe

Anyone on your mailing list must be able to unsubscribe easily.

Privacy Policy

You must have a Privacy policy displayed on your website explaining what data you hold and how you use it. If you gather data on your website you must also have a Cookies policy. This can be included in your Privacy policy.

If your mailing list has evolved over time and you’re not sure how some of the names on it came to be there, GDPR is the event you need to carry out a tidy up. Use this as an opportunity to reconnect with potential clients, and to stop emailing people who are no longer interested. See it as a way of giving your mailing list a Spring Clean!

If you are using a recognised email system, and all your subscribers have actively opted into it, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. GDPR is simply enforcing an ethical approach to email marketing which we should all welcome.

If you hold personal data for reasons other than email marketing a Data Audit is advisable. For example, if you employ staff there are other considerations regarding holding personal data which you need to check out with a HR specialist.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) website has all the information about GDPR. If you have any worries or need further help and advice speak to a legal professional.

How to create a successful e-newsletter

Email marketing is the most effective way to market your business online.

According to Hubspot, email marketing is almost 40 times better at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter!

You are talking to people who have chosen to receive information from you. They are your “Warm Leads.” Make the most of that opportunity by giving them valuable, useful content. Then, when the time is right, they will buy from you, because you are the friendly, helpful expert they have got to know.

The Email Newsletter Formula

Start with a short, chatty Introduction to set the scene and to give the newsletter some personality (your personality!)

1. Feature article 

Write your main piece of content about a topic that is of interest to your subscribers. This article should showcase your expertise and provide useful information and advice.

2. Secondary article 

A short. less meaty piece about another topic. Maybe something that’s been in the news or a subject people are talking about. This could be the place to use some humour (with care!)

3. Promotion

Having given your audience lots of valuable information, this is the place to promote yourself. Mention your current Special Offer, your next event, or a service you especially want to promote at this time.

Wrap up with a short conclusion. Maybe mention next month’s articles as a teaser.
Remember to follow Online Copywriting Best Practice to make your newsletter easy to read online. Short sentences and paragraphs with headings, bulleted lists and images to break up the text.

When your subscribers need you…. they will come to you!

Why Email Marketing Works Better than Social Media

In these days of social media frenzy, email marketing is often overlooked. The fact is, email marketing is the most effective way to market your business online. According to Hubspot, email marketing is almost 40 times better at acquiring more customers than Facebook and Twitter.

Email Marketing: The 3 Guiding Principles

1. Use an Email Marketing System

Mailchimp is the most popular but there are others including Aweber and Constant Contact. These systems ensure that you meet regulations. This is  especially important with the new GDPR coming into force in the UK in May next year. They also save you lots of time in keeping the admin effort required to a minimum.

2. Attract Subscribers with a Lead Magnet

The best way to persuade your website visitors to subscribe to your email list is to entice them with a Lead Magnet. You offer them something of value for free – an ebook, a checklist, a discount – to persuade them to give you their email address. You must make it clear in their confirmation email that they will now be on your email marketing list, and give them the option to unsubscribe.

3. Provide Great Content!

Keep your emails interesting and of value to your subscribers. Advice and hints and tips are always well-received. Also comment on recent developments in your industry and news items. Always keep in mind why your subscribers signed up and keep your content focused on what will be of interest to them. Use appropriate images to make your emails attractive and follow the Online Copywriting rules – keep it short and punchy with headings, bullet points and images to break up the text and make it easy to read.

And finally…… Don’t stress about Open rates!

A lot of your subscribers won’t read your emails! But they will see them in their inbox and this reminds them about you. For this reason always make it very clear who the email is from.

Your regular emails tell your subscribers that you are still in business, that you are reliable and that you are genuinely interested in helping your clients  by putting out helpful content. When they need the service you provide you will be top of mind.

Also your email may open automatically on a smartphone or Ipad, so Open rates can be misleading. When your subscribers need you they will come to you!

Get found in local search

There are a number of ways to increase the visibility of your business in searches for local businesses.

The most important is to add your business to Google My Business. If you haven’t already done this go to www.google.co.uk/business/go/

Make sure the information you enter on Google My Business is the same as on your website. This will encourage Google to give you a higher search engine ranking.

Secondly, include your location in your web content as much as possible. Without overdoing it!One way to do this is to make sure that all your reviews and testimonials include the location of the reviewer e.g. Sam Smith, Horsham, West Sussex.

Also, include your location and phone number in a website footer, which appears on every page of your website. The area code of a landline phone number is a location factor which Google takes into account. So if you have a landline number, this will help your search engine ranking position for local searches.

Finally, get your business added to local online business directories. For example Yelp, Yellow Pages and Scoot. Many of these are free. Also, local directories such as Visit Horsham and Hello Horsham.

Getting found in local search is a powerful way of growing your client base and your business. Make the most of these ideas so that your business gets found more easily!

Summertime Tips for your Online Marketing

As we move into the lazy, hazy days of summer hopefully you will have the opportunity to take your foot off the gas and recharge your batteries.

Summer can be the perfect time to take a fresh look at your business, and maybe a fresh look at your website and online marketing too.

Looking at things from a slightly different perspective can bring new insights and fresh thinking.

Here are a few ideas to help you get the benefit of a relaxed, summertime perspective:

Imagine visiting your website for the very first time

As someone who doesn’t know you and doesn’t know your business:

  1. How easy is it to find your contact details?
  2. Visit your About page. Does it read like a rather dull CV? Or does it brim with personality and explain why you are uniquely qualified to help the website visitor with their need or problem?
  3. Is it clear what people need to do if they are interested in what you offer? Or is it a website they leave without giving you the opportunity to follow up with them. Even if they loved it!

There should be a Call to Action on every page? Phone me or email me. Even better, an email signup box  so you can add them to your email list and keep in touch with them.

Simple things but simple things that can make a huge difference to the success of your website in bringing you new clients.

Have you been thinking about blogging?

Blogging can:

  • Build your reputation as the expert in your field
  • Provide standout content for social media
  • Boost your SEO and bring more visitors to your website

The summer break is the perfect opportunity to think about content for your blogs and put a plan together for the next few months. Once you know what you want to write about and give yourself a schedule, a regular blog is no longer a big stumbling block but an achievable target.

Maybe incorporate it into an email marketing strategy too? (If you’re feeling ambitious this summer!)

Never got a handle on Google Analytics?

So you don’t know

  • How many people are visiting your website
  • How they found your website
  • How long they stay on your website

This information is invaluable in deciding your online marketing strategy. Otherwise you are working in the dark! There are lots of tools available to get hold of this information in an accessible format. Native Google Analytics data looks pretty scary! Talk to your web developer when you’re back from hols. Or check out my blog post “Get Started with Google Analytics.”

 

7 Ways to Capture More Clients Through Your Website

Simple ways to generate more business from your website. Implementing just the first one is proven to increase your conversion rate (from website visitor to potential client) by 30%!

Write for the web. People scan websites. They don’t read them so:

  • Short sentences and paragraphs
  • Simple easy-to-understand language. No acronyms or tech-speak
  • Headings and bulleted lists
  • Avoid large chunks of text which are offputting to new visitors. If you want to provide detailed information add it to subpages which your visitors will go to once they feel comfortable with your website
  • White space – leave some clear space to let your website visitors breathe

Call to Action – You don’t want a “So What?” website. A website your visitors like but then forget about. Sprinkle Calls To Action throughout. At least one per page. Call me, email me. Or ideally set up a lead magnet where they give you their email details in return for a free report/product/ebook.

Images – Use images that complement your text. A professional headshot is essential.

Contact details – on every page. Ideally top right. Provide email, phone and social media contact details for the channels you use. Different people like to make contact in different ways so make it easy for them by providing as many ways to contact you as possible.

Benefits – your website should not be about you. It should be about how you can help your potential clients. Acknowledge your website visitor’s pain or problem and explain how you can fix it.

Trust – show that you can be trusted.  Your ‘About’ page is crucial here. It’s usually the second page website visitors look at. They like what they see on your home page and want to find out more about you. Build trust with a helpful and friendly writing style, details of your experience and qualifications and…..

Testimonials are online golddust! The best websites have a testimonials page, rotating testimonials snippets on every page (in a footer or sidebar) and include them in their website text too.  Credible testimonials are the most powerful converter of casual visitors to clients.

 

 

Forget keywords for Search Engine Optimisation!

How Google is relying less on keywords

Yes!  Recent refinements to Google’s algorithm, and the advent of a new tool called RankBrain,means Google will sometimes provide relevant results where the search term isn’t even on the page.Rankbrain uses Artificial Intelligence techniques to work out what the user is looking for so it may come up with something that doesn’t include the words they typed in the search box!

It’s early days and the advice still is to use your keyword or phrase at least once on the page. But Google will recognise synonyms and related words and may in fact penalise “unnatural sounding content..

Here’s an exact quote from Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines:

Pages created with the intent of luring search engines and users, rather than providing meaningful main content to help users, should be rated Lowest.

As ever, the important thing is to write web pages that are relevant and useful to your target audience, and of high quality.

Final Tip …..

A well-written list of FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) is a great way to keep Google happy.

 

 

 

Using Links Successfully…for SEO and a Better User Experience

When you write your own web content it is easy to forget about links. But links are really important for two reasons:

  1. Website visitors love them

Clicking on a link that takes you to a specific page gives your reader a sense of purpose. They know what they want to look at and they are taking action to get there. They arein control and they are excited to find out more about the topic they are interested in.

  1. Links boost your Search Engine Ranking

Use your keywords as the text in your clickable link then those keywords get added Google juice. So don’t say “Click here for more info.” That will do nothing for your SEO. Instead say “Cupcakes – more info” (if Cupcakes is your keyword!)

How to Insert a Link

– To insert a clickable link in WordPress. select the text you want to be highlighted as a link and then click on the link symbol in your toolbar. (It looks like a link in a chain.) You will be guided through how to add the url for the relevant page –

So use internal links generously to help your website visitors find their way around your website and give them a feeling of being “in control.”

External links (links to other websites) are great for SEO too, but that needs to be weighed against the fact that you are giving your hard-won website visitors an easy way to leave your website. And once they’re gone will they ever come back?

So definitely include lots of internal links in your web copy but use external links with caution.

Keep ’em Reading Your Website!

You want people to spend time reading your website don’t you? So that they find out all about you and the great service you offer.

Ideally, they move on from reading your website to making contact with you, and then to buying from you.

How do you move people along this path?

Here are three golden rules for moving your website visitors from reading your website to buying from you.

  1. Show that you understand the problem that they want solved

In the first few lines of your web copy explain the problem that you know you can solve. Spell out exactly how annoying it is and show that you understand their pain.

This then blends into the second golden rule…

  1. Let them know they’re not the only one struggling with this

And that they’re not an idiot to still be looking for a solution! Tell them about others who’ve experienced the same problem. Use “we” and “us” – it’s not their problem, it’s our problem. Make them feel comfortable as they read.

  1. Finally, you need to show them that you can fix their pain. And why they should choose you

Use case studies and client feedback to show you have the expertise they need. And, just as importantly, that you can be trusted.

Explain, empathise, convert

The path from reading your website to becoming a client.