A Sustainable Plan for Blogging

Bangui_Windfarm_Ilocos_Norte_2007It’s the most common question from small business marketers who want to make good use of the internet. It goes something like:

What can I write about? Where can I find content ideas? Or, How can I blog if I’m in a really boring industry, like insurance for truck drivers, or warehouse fulfillment?

If you feel stuck there in a content-less fog, not wanting to start blogging or writing social media posts because you think your field is uninteresting, you haven’t really thought things through.

For starters, what are you doing slogging away day after day at something you find boring? (I’m not accusing you; just urging deeper examination. I have certainly done my share of employment for organizations that I didn’t highly value. It’s something to work through, for sure.)

But never mind that, suppose you just innocently must admit that there’s not a lot that’s universally fascinating about roadside garbage collection or a tax preparation firm.

And you’d be right. If you look straight at the subject, isolated from everything else, it will indeed appear to be void of interest.

But Oh My Gosh, the truth is that no matter what the subject, possibilities for riffs on it are endless. [Read more…]

Smart Tactics for Converting Site Visitors to Leads

giftWhatever you do on behalf of your business online, the actions that convert into leads are the most valuable. Yes, you must have a stream of traffic, but once that’s established you want to focus on conversions.

The trends creep ever closer to a brutally direct approach. Many websites today ask for your opt-in on the home page, above the fold (i.e., it’s the first thing you notice when you land on the site). The visitor remains merely anonymous traffic for as little time as possible; we hurry them right along to sharing their contact info in exchange for a desireable item of some sort.

To me, this in-your-face promotion is not always appropriate. In developing your opt-in, your “freemium,” or what Amy Porterfield is calling your Signature Promotional Giveaway (SPG) always keep in mind the site visitor’s actual experience. If traffic tends to land on your site mostly from affiliate links, that’s quite different from a site that attracts mainly organic traffic based on a keyword. In the former case, an immediate up-sell might be fine; in the latter, you may want to massage the relationship a bit more before suggesting the opt-in.

But once you time, or position your opt-in offer satisfactorily, the big question is a familiar one in content marketing. What will be the substance of your giveaway? Realistically, it needs to be:

  1. a good example of your best work, because you want to wow ’em with this
  2. exceptionally tempting to your market, because you want lots of people to be willing to give their email address in exchange for it
  3. easily replicable, because you want to be able to deliver without excessive cost or hassle.

Conceiving of and creating such a freemium item is no small task. I suggest giving the matter serious thought. Here are some fine types of content:

  • report
  • ebook
  • tips or cheat sheet
  • instructive video or audio
  • newsletter

But really, the content of your freemium can be anything. As the independent grocer on Main Street, you could offer recipes with seasonal ingredients and get a ton of opt-ins. If you’re a graphic artist, your freemium might be a collection of color combinations. If you’re a contractor, maybe you could offer plans for building a garden gazebo. If you’re Hugh MacLeod, you create cartoons and share them.

I enjoyed watching Marcus Sheridan’s May TED talk. He shows examples of business adopting the new world of transparency, which has been a  result of the internet’s real time global communications. It’s a lot harder now, if not impossible, to dupe your market through old-fashioned broadcast marketing.  In lieu of extravagant dog and pony shows, brands are now required to simply, honestly educate about their products and services.

Your freemium is an early, if not the first step in building trust with potential customers. Make it a heartfelt token of your very best.

What opt-in structures have worked well for you? Please share in the comments.

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Small Business Online Branding provides assistance in planning and creating a dynamic freemium.

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