Done right, your company blog can be an effective marketing tool, getting your message out to existing customers and those who are considering becoming customers.
On the flip side, however, a blog that fails to attract and engage readers leaves a poor impression and is unlikely to win you any new business and may eventually lead to a loss of business.
How do you know when your business’s blog has turned the corner from a positive asset into a potential drag on your business?
Here are a few signs to look for:
Same Old, Same Old
If you or other members of the team producing copy for the blog begin to find the whole process a bore, it’s a fairly reliable sign that the blog itself has gone stale and will bore readers too.
It’s important here to make the distinction between boredom and exhaustion. Your blog-writing team may be overworked and just plain tired. This is a problem that can be addressed by bringing in more guest bloggers or replacing some existing on-staff bloggers with new blood.
Boredom, however, is a likely reflection that the blog postings being produced are bland, uninteresting, and no longer fun to write. And if the blog writers are bored, it’s a fairly safe bet that the blog’s readers will be too.
Comments Have Fallen Off
An effective blog not only engages the attention of its readers, but it also provokes thought and comment.
If you find that few reader comments are being posted, you can safely assume that your blog’s contents no longer stir up sufficient interest or controversy to prompt readers to share their thoughts. Allowed to continue as things are, the blog is probably doomed to eventual failure.
Again, it’s helpful to shake things up, instead of relying solely on the same handful of staff members to grind out the blog’s regular postings.
Invite other members of the staff to suggest topics that they think will stimulate reader interest.
Even if the suggestions come from staffers who are not particularly good writers, their ideas can be turned into solid posts by members of your writing team who are running low on ideas of their own. You can also spice things up by regularly inviting guest bloggers to contribute to your company’s blog.
Keep Your Blog Current
To remain relevant, a blog needs to be updated on a regular basis.
Blogs usually start out with a burst of energy and enthusiasm. As with anything new, your team members appear to have an endless stream of topics they want to share with the blog’s readers.
As that initial burst of enthusiasm dwindles and the flow of topic ideas dries up, you may find that the blog is getting neglected and the interval between new postings is growing at an alarming rate. When you see this happening, take steps to get the blog back on its feet before it dies an early death.
Establish a regular schedule for new blog postings, and stick to it.
If you and other members of the writing team are running short of ideas, you might want to rotate new staffers onto the team and increase the number — and quality — of guest postings.
Lack of Variety
Although your blog is a helpful vehicle for alerting readers to your business’s new products or upcoming projects, focusing solely on what’s new at your business is simply not enough to keep readers engaged. You need to branch out into related topics so that the blog has a broader appeal.
Concentrating too much on your business’s products, services, and talented personnel comes across as too blatantly self-serving.
If your blog is interesting to read and covers a variety of topics — albeit somewhat related — it will generate goodwill with readers and help to grow the business’s bottom line. Hitting readers over the head with postings that extol everything about your company to the exclusion of virtually everything else won’t sustain reader interest for very long.
Communication Is a Two-Way Street
An effective company blog generates a forum for discussion between the blog’s creators and its readers.
Nothing will turn off readers more quickly than a seeming lack of interest in what they have to say. And what readers have to say can offer guidance for future product development and marketing strategy.
To fully realize the benefits of that two-way communication, your blogging team must respond in a timely fashion to comments posted by blog readers. You need to show readers that their interest is appreciated and deserves a reply.
If readers of the blog take time to let you know their views, you must allot time to provide feedback to their comments.
Failure to do so will probably cut short the useful life of your blog.
About the Author: Jay Fremont is a freelance author who has written extensively about personal finance, corporate strategy, social media, and online reputation management.
But, not all consultants are capable of the same SEO skills required to get the job done. Because of this, it’s wise for your business to take plenty of time when hunting for the right consultant.
With search engine competency in mind, here are just a few things for your business to consider when searching for the perfect SEO consultant:
It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask Around
Chances are that others in the business world have gone through the same consultant search as your business is going through, which is exactly why asking business acquaintances and your online professional network for referrals is so helpful.
Not only will you get unbiased opinions and honest testimonials from other businesses, you’ll also quickly weed out consultants that simply aren’t worth it.
Likewise, if you’ve exhausted your direct acquaintances, there are plenty of online resources specializing in SEO consultant best practices and reviews.
Breaking Down Fees
There are no guarantees in SEO unless it’s a money back guarantee, so avoid consultants promising guaranteed results. And, once you’ve found a consultant that meshes well with your business, it’s time to talk fees.
SEO consultants offer services ranging from simple website assessments to extensive keyword search campaigns, so you need to have a rough idea of what your company is looking for.
More often than not, an “all-inclusive” SEO package is unnecessary considering a wide range of websites and businesses require very specific optimization needs. Whether it’s a small amount of work or complete website restructuring, flat rates by the hour or project are always a wise pay structure to use.
Questions for the Consultant
Choosing the right SEO consultant is just as much an interview process as hiring a full-time employee, so your business should come to the table with questions.
Likewise, the questions should boil down to two parts: what are you getting out of the SEO service and how will the consultant achieve those results?
Some questions your company could ask range from whether or not the consultant follows Google Webmaster guidelines, to the SEO techniques the consultant uses to specific optimization services related to your business’s needs. During the decision making process, the right answers are worth their weight in SEO gold.
Local vs. Remote Consultants
Although meeting with your consultant face-to-face is beneficial, choosing your consultant based on location simply depends on what makes your business the most comfortable. Thanks to video conferencing services, a remote consultant located halfway across the country is just as convenient as a hometown SEO professional.
Whether local or remote, the ultimate goal is to choose an SEO consultant that understands your business.
About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including social media, how to become a better budget planner, and home improvement.
Some things surveys provide you are instant feedback about a new product or service, finding out who your customers are and what they’re interested in, looking to see what motivates them to make purchases, find out how they find new stores or businesses to shop with, and use their negative feedback to improve your business.
Benefits of Using Surveys
You have access to a number of benefits when you choose to use customer surveys in your marketing efforts. Here are some of the main benefits:
Honest Feedback – People who are taking surveys are usually doing so anonymously. This means you’re getting the most honest feedback possible. When a customer leaves feedback, they might not be as honest as someone taking an anonymous survey about their experience or with the products you’re carrying.
Cost Return – It may seem expensive creating market surveys in the beginning, but think of the cost return benefit. Many people taking the survey have positive feedback and are therefore more interested in your business. You can also earn money in the future by taking their criticism to improve your business model. It can also be used to help generate leads.
Learn About Competitors – you can also find out more about your competitors with help from a market survey. Include questions about your main competitors, in order to compare yourself with them. Anonymous survey takers are more than happy to tell you who they would rather shop with and why.
Narrow Down Your Demographic
To benefit the most from surveys, get the right demographic.
Be sure they are in your target market, shop for the right items or choose services you provide, and ask things like their gender, age, industry they work in, if they do the family’s shopping, their income level and other details relating to your target customers.
Tips for Creating Surveys
If you decided that the market survey will benefit your advertising efforts, here are some things to include in the survey process.
First as mentioned previously, always narrow down your demographic, otherwise it isn’t going to be useful for you. You should also include a couple open-ended questions that give you more custom feedback.
Have an “other” answer so survey takers can fill in the blank with their own option. Make a requirement that they take every question, even if they select other or “not applicable.” Use different formats of questions, incorporating images, videos, multiple choice and rankings.
You should also make it easy for them to take with fast loading screens and a progress bar so the individual knows how many more questions there are to take. Find the right outlets for announcing your survey, and offer them a benefit to taking it.
If you’re interested in stepping up your marketing efforts, consider starting surveys and getting feedback from them.
This can go a long way toward your overall advertising methods.
About the Author: Tina Samuels writes on social media, marketing, mobile payments, and Reputation.com.
If you are running an e-commerce site, there are many decisions to be made! However, before you design the site’s layout, be sure there is a place for important features like pictures, headers, a company logo, categories and social media icons. Here are 6 great tips to keep in mind when designing and e-commerce website:
1. Detailed Pictures
When buying something online, pictures are everything. This is why every product you sell should have a clear, detailed picture. Keep in mind the product image is
all customers have to base their purchasing decisions on, so make it good!
2. Social Media Links
Using social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+, and Pinterest will help get the word out about your business. Once you establish accounts with these social media outlets (if you haven’t already), add social media links or icons to your site. The icons have become so recognizable and should fill into the the header or footer of your site naturally.
3. Information About Deals or Freebies
If you are offering a deal, promotion, or freebie (i.e. free shipping), include this information on your site. Make it obvious keeping mind not to distract from the quality of your site- including a blurb about it on your homepage is a great start. You can also create an image about the deal or freebie on the sidebar or heading, but always consider the distraction factor when doing so.
4. Newest and Popular Products
Any time you announce a new product line on your e-commerce site, feature it on your front page or sidebar. Your most popular products should also be featured, as you know they are going to attract the attention of your newest visitors.
5. Shipping and Return Information
Always include a page with detailed information describing your shipping and return policies. Include things like what carriers you use for shipping, how long it takes to send out packages, and what your shipping rates are. Customers also need to know if you accept returns or exchanges, and what the process is.
6. Store Finder
Finally, if you have a brick and mortar store be sure to include a store finder on your website. This can be for other retail stores under the same name, or if other retailers
(online or locally) carry and sell some of your products. It is a great way for local shoppers to find your products while giving them the chance to shop for your products through multiple outlets.
If you follow these simple tips while crafting your e-commerce site will ensure that you have all the important information covered. And remember to keep a simple, easy to navigate website so users can find what they’re looking for quickly and effectively.