Last time I wrote was in January. OOF.
So if anyone knows what happened to the past few months, can you let me know? They went by so fast. We're already well into 2016 and there are still tons of articles being written about the future of marketing for this year.
The one thing I know that isn't going to change, however, is quality content. When you own a business, there is so much to consider when you're trying to show up locally for search results or nationally for your clients. But quality content is here to stay - especially when you have such strong allies in your corner. I like to use the analogy of a ship for my clients. The captain of your online presence (ship) is, of course, your website. First mate? Your content. Between these two, you can achieve great things. But what most business owners don't realize is that content isn't just one aspect - mainly, your blog. Content can be anything from videos, FAQ pages, About Us pages, sales pages and product descriptions, images, etc. All of these lovely little tidbits are considered content (especially when it comes to the lovely search algorithms Google uses) and will help your website and your business in the game of digital marketing. But in order for customers to continually find value out of your business (turning them into repeat customers and advocates for your brand) you need to be able to provide them with unique, engaging, fresh content. The easiest, most consistent way to get fresh, updated content on your website is your blog.
So just how do you keep fresh, quality content on your blog?
I have found that writing a blog, for my own website, can become something of a chore - especially when I am writing content on the regular for my clients. This is something that I have promised myself to do more of in the foreseeable future since I enjoy writing about what I do and I enjoy being able to share it with others. I like sharing information, I like sharing ideas, and, most importantly, I like sharing all of this with my clients. But what do I do when I have a hard time finding something to write about? What do I do when I feel like I've exhausted all other possibilities?
This blog post is going to be about just that - what to do when you are out of blog post ideas. Here are some of my favorite suggestions for keeping blog material fresh, informative, and engaging:
1: Use Your Clients - Do you often get client questions about particular things you do? Do you find yourself explaining one item or service more than the others? Have you noticed a review that touches on something about your business you haven't thought of in a while? I often scroll through Facebook comments and review sites to find out what the audience is talking about and use those are great sources of information to build out a really strong blog.
2: Use A Current Project or Service - Do you have an ongoing project you're working on? Have you started a new service? Writing a blog post (or even a series of blog posts) about these new happenings in your business is a great way to not only announce this to your clientele but it also provides them with valuable information.
3: Use Old Material - Do you have old blogs on your website? Old newsletters? Old articles from the paper? Using this old material and updating it is also called 'repurposing'. Repurposing your old content is a great way to keep your business up-to-date. Maybe you have a blog post from several years ago and the services have changed since then - you can take this blog post, write about the changes or updates in your business and link to the old blog post that is now outdated.
4: Use Your Competition - What is your competition posting? What are they writing? You can use their blog posts and go the extra mile - if they mentioned 5 things, you mention 20 or if they discuss one topic you discuss 10. Going that extra mile not only shows you're an expert at what you do, but it is a great way for you to stay on top of your game, as well.
5: Use Trending Topics or Memes - Have you noticed something popping up frequently in your Facebook feed? Using what's trending is a great way to push your business into the forefront of your audiences' minds. Several years ago, REI did an entire marketing scheme around the Zombie Apocalypse - what to do, how to do it, what you'd need, etc. Several other businesses have since used this as a niche way to market to their target audiences. Scouring trending memes and stories is a great way to piggyback off of popular topics - just make sure you're writing your own unique take on it.
6: Use Your Employees - Some business owners are hesitant to do this but using your employees is a greatly untapped resource. Have them write a blog post about the business that is unique from their perspective - maybe a personal account of a great interaction with a customer or what a great day they had last month when.... or their favorite thing about the business. Using them as a source for content is something a lot of businesses are doing. As a customer, wouldn't you want to know how the employees feel about the work they do?
7: Use Traditional Media - Did you just have a video done with your local station? Or did you just do a radio advertisement? Or a newspaper article? Write a blog post about the experience, what you learned while doing it, or what the traditional advert was about. This not only makes your blog post relevant to currently running ads, but it also gives the customer an inside perspective on your business's day-to-day operations.
8: Use Your Unique-ness - With the accessibility of the internet and the extreme connectedness we all have, coming up with content that fights against the noise of other bloggers will become even more difficult. So use what separates you from the others, use your personality, use your voice, use your uniqueness to really make your blog posts stand out. Neil Patel just wrote a blog about the future of content and what that means for blogs. He mentions that there is going to be SO much data and SO much information available that it is going to be hard to be heard above the noise. So use what you know best - yourself, your business.
Coming up with creative, engaging posts when it comes to your business can be difficult, especially when you're the one running your business and performing the day-to-day operations. When do you have the time? What do you want to talk about? Following the steps above can be a great jumping off point - but there is still so much more you can do for a strong, effective content marketing strategy.
As I discussed in a previous post, making sure you have your marketing wrapped around the customer journey is an important first step on your way to having a successful marketing campaign. But let's talk more in-depth about digital marketing and why it is so important.
The way we traditionally know marketing is changing - we've all seen it, we've all felt it, we all know the inevitable Digital Train is coming our way. There is nothing we can do to stop it and that is SO exciting.
Digital marketing is a world full of social media, email, website, paid search, and SEO. All of these words have their own little worlds behind them and all of these little worlds work together to create this wholesome, well represented picture of your virtual business. What I'm saying is that you can't just have one piece of the puzzle and expect wonders to happen, mountains to move.
What you can do, however, is invest time into a comprehensive marketing plan - one that touches on every little aspect of your company's presence online.
You want your website to be stop numero uno. This is your main piece of real estate for the internet - your office or storefront, if you will. You want your clients landing on your website so they can see all about your business - what you do, why you do it, how you do it. Your website is your home base - from which everything else is connected. So, you want your search engine optimization strategy to be its strongest. You want strong, informative, engaging content to live here because that will ultimately drive potential customers to become your strongest advocates. This is the place where you win them over.
You want your business to have an actively engaged following on social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) in order to show the customers that you have personality, respond quickly to their customer service concerns, and are willing to connect with them on a more personal level. Social media is a great place to really grab your customers' attention, keep it, and turn them into strong advocates.
You will also want a strong email marketing campaign. Why? Because email marketing is a great way to have an intimate conversation with your most loyal customers. Sure, most of us delete the sales-y emails we get in our inbox - but this is where a strong email marketing strategy comes into play. Knowing what your customers want and why they come to you for their business is key when creating an effective, high-converting email campaign.
All of these bits and pieces add up to that larger puzzle to help give your customers a wide lens from which to view your business. Managing your online reputation well and having a strong digital marketing strategy are the two best places to start when it comes to marketing your business for 2016.
Meg is the owner of Oh Hello Digital and, when she's not writing for her clients, she'll take time to share her digital marketing insights and advice here. Want to connect with her? 👇