3598967364_63c718450b_o

Why is blogging so important for small businesses?

Here are the six compelling reasons why you should invest time and money in maintaining a blog for your small business.

Blogging increases traffic

Your website might not have many pages, and you probably don’t update those pages very often. This means the opportunities for your business to be found online through search engines are limited. It’s likely that most people will only find your business when they’re searching for it specifically. If you blog, you can increase your site’s presence in search results.

Each blog post is another indexed page for your site, another cue to the search engines that your site is active, and another page that web users can share on their social networks. This, along with using some relevant and well researched keywords, means that your site will be seen by more people, so traffic will inevitably increase – which leads us to our next point…

Blogging increases leads

The more visitors that come to your site, the more you will be able to convert into leads. These leads are interested in your goods or services and could turn into customers further down the line. Each blog post represents an additional chance to generate new leads. Ensure every blog post has useful, insightful information that provides value to the reader and a clear and powerful call to action (CTA).

For those unfamiliar with CTAs, they are instructions that provoke an immediate action from the reader, such as “call now” or “download the latest ebook”. To generate leads, one should be placed at the end of each post, promoting the reader to give their details (usually name and email address) in exchange for some valuable content. You will be able to nurture a good relationship with these leads by providing useful information to them and taking advantage of email marketing. Instant Print have some other excellent tips for attracting as many leads as possible.

Blogging builds authority

If you use your blog effectively, by producing regular high-quality content that is relevant to your industry, you’ll be able to increase your company’s authority. If your content resonates with your readers, industry peers and customers will begin to see you as an authority in your field. You may think such recognition isn’t possible for a small business, but it is.

For example, a small swimming pool construction business based in Virginia, USA, was struggling to increase sales and make ends meet – until the owner started blogging. Over the course of a year and a half, they blogged regularly about various subjects relating to their industry, and it became the go-to online resource for swimming pool information. The business went from being in financial trouble to being one of the top pool companies in the US.

Blogging builds relationships

Customers love to be informed and feel supported. A blog, along with a strong social media presence, enables you to offer them this. They can get to know your company and offerings in detail, making them feel more connected to your brand. Through blog comments, they can ask questions and discuss relevant topics, giving you an extra opportunity to turn visitors into leads and customers. Other site visitors will see those comments and how you respond (after all, blog comments are there to stay, unlike social media exchanges which can quickly be lost in a feed), hopefully forming a positive impression of your brand in their mind.

Research by the Content Council found that 61% of consumers feel better about (and are more likely to buy something from) a company which produces custom content.

Blogging is inexpensive

Blogging is one of the least expensive marketing tools at your disposal. All you need is a little time – it could become a new hobby, or if you lack the time or inspiration, you can find plenty of experienced and affordable blog writers online.

Compare this to the high cost of other forms of marketing, such as billboards, magazine ads, radio ads and online banner ads, and you’ll soon realise you’re onto a winner. In fact, according to research carried out by Demand Metric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing – and much of those savings come from blogging.

Blogging has long term benefits

Unlike that ad you place in the local newspaper, your blog posts are there for all to see, for as long as you want them to be. You can keep them on your site forever, with no additional costs, and they’ll keep attracting interest and potential leads.

Compounding posts are what you should be aiming for; the rare but brilliant posts that contain evergreen content and as a result, gain a consistent amount of traffic over time. Hubspot estimates that around one in ten blog posts will be a compounding post.

So there you have it – all you need is a little time or money and the world is your oyster! What are you waiting for?

Read More

4576089567_902e3e30c7_o

How does web content influence the buying process?

We all know that content is a vital part of any website’s conversion path, but exactly what effect does this content have on each stage of the buying process? And how can you, as a business owner or manager, take advantage of these effects to drive sales in your company?

First, it’s important to understand each step the buyer takes towards making a purchase. The buyer’s journey can be divided into several stages, which are widely considered to be awareness, consideration and decision. Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

Awareness

In the first stage of the buying process, consumers have just realised that they have a problem or need so they are undertaking some preliminary research. They want to be better informed about the general issue they’re researching before moving on to more specific solutions.

Content at this stage should ideally come in the form of a wide range of informational pieces, such as general blog posts, introductory ebooks, industry white papers, how-to lists and videos, infographics, slideshows, resource round-ups and glossaries. This kind of content will introduce people to your brand and demonstrate your industry knowledge and authority. It should also make up the majority of your content, as most visitors to your site will be in this initial stage of the buyer’s journey.

Example: if you were the owner of an independent computer store, you could create blog posts such as “Five things to consider when buying a laptop” and “The top 10 laptops for the everyday user”. This would attract web users who are interested in purchasing a new laptop, inform them of the general options available to them and make them aware of your business.

Consideration

The consideration stage is where buyers evaluate the different options available to them. At this point, they’re probably aware that your business offers a potential solution to their problem, but they also know that other vendors do too. They will start to look at individual products or services and companies in-depth and this stage is arguably the most important in the entire sales process.

Recommended content for the second stage includes expert guides and ebooks, webinars, podcasts and reviews. Through these, potential buyers should start moving towards the realisation that your business is the best choice and that you have the specific solution to their problem.

Example: again, let’s look at the example of an independent computer store and a consumer looking for a new laptop. The consumer would now be ready to look at individual laptops in more depth, so a video review of the latest Microsoft Surface Pro or an in-depth guide to the latest Asus ZenBook could keep them on your site, show your extensive knowledge, and help move them towards making a decision.

Laptop buying guide - Best Buy
Laptop buying guide – Best Buy

Decision

At the third stage, buyers decide exactly what they want to purchase. They know basically everything they need to about the product or service and your company, but they need a little reassurance or something extra before they finally make the purchase. Testimonials, case studies, special offers, demos and comparisons work well at this stage, helping to alleviate any worries the consumer may have and show that you’re the business to go with. In order to close to stage, you should focus on tangible deliverables.

Example: the consumer looking for a new laptop would by now have narrowed down the laptop they want, or the store they want to go to, to a couple of options. You could have a vendor comparison page on your site that shows why you’re a better choice than the big chain stores, offer the option to try out the laptop in-store and provide a special coupon code in an email for a discount.

Repeat custom

Once you’ve gained a customer, you need to do your best to ensure you don’t lose them. After all, gaining a new customer can cost anywhere from five to 25 times the amount of retaining a one, so this additional stage is extremely important. To promote repeat custom, you need to have excellent support, listen to all feedback and offer continued value. Surveys, promotions, competitions, newsletters, giveaways, feedback forms and email marketing are the types of content you should be utilising at this stage.

Brand advocates are one of the things you want to be aiming for, as they will shout your company’s praises from the rooftops, generating custom and goodwill in the process. You can nurture advocates by giving existing customers a motive to share your content and your business’s information through the aforementioned kinds of content and outstanding customer service.

Example: in the case of the independent computer store, they could send customers follow-up emails after their purchase, asking them to review the product or offering discounts on laptop accessories.

Tracking

When utilising content marketing throughout each of these stages, you should monitor how effective each campaign and piece of content is. Use tools like Google Analytics, Buffer and Marketo to keep track of all your marketing activities and the results they bring. Use the data you gather to make changes to your content marketing plan as you go along. Make sure you’ve identified some key metrics that will clearly show how successful your activities are; for example, the number of leads generated from a particular post, and the number of Facebook likes accumulated from a campaign.

As a business owner or manager, you want to attract and retain as many customers as possible and, as you can see, content is invaluable for this at all stages of the buying process. You need to ensure you have a clear content strategy that helps buyers come to the decision to choose you, so make sure you’re investing your time and money in content marketing – it has the power to transform your business!

Read More

Workshop Gamestorming with Sunni Brown on June 6th 2013 in Amsterdam organized by Business Models Inc. More than 40 participants are experiencing visuals thinking games for strategy and innovation. Part of the Bootcamp Business Model Canvas the Game. www.businessmodelsinc.com

Bootcamp Business Model Canvas the Game, June 5-7 2013 in Amsterdam. 6 renowned game developer teams are working on the ultimate game for the Business Model Canvas: Ranj, Weirdbeard, Little Chicken, RageSquid, FirebrushStudios, Headcandy. www.canvasthegame.com

10 easy content marketing strategies for small businesses

Content marketing can be a challenge, even for businesses with big budgets and plenty of resources. For small businesses, it can seem like an impossible task. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though, as a little planning, hard work and perseverance has the potential to deliver great results. With that in mind, try these 10 easy content marketing strategies to give your online presence a boost.

Update your blog regularly

In order for your content marketing to get maximum results, you need to create content regularly and consistently. You can start out slowly, perhaps one blog post every three days, or one tweet each day, and then gain momentum. Ideally, you should be aiming for at least 11 blog posts per month, as research by Hubspot shows that small companies posting this frequently receive almost three times more traffic than those posting around once a month, and twice as much traffic as those posting two to five times a month.

“Newsjacking” is an excellent way to help you post frequently. Keep your eye on the news (you can monitor hashtags related to your industry on Twitter) and if any stories break that are relevant to your business, write a piece about them. Don’t just directly rewrite the news story though, ensure you’re giving a new perspective on the story or providing additional information.

Answer questions

One simple way to get started with producing content is to answers questions that your customers frequently have. You could write blog posts with common questions as the title and make tutorial videos that provide the answer to questions related (whether directly or indirectly) to your product or service. People are always using Google to find answers to their questions, and you could provide them with the solution they’re looking for.

Automate

Make life easier by automating as much of your content marketing as possible. For example, you can use tools like Hootsuite and Buffer to post updates on a regular basis and at times your fans and followers are likely to see them. You could do the same with blog posts; if you’re using WordPress, it’s easy to schedule posts to go live on a certain date. To save even more time, there’s also CoSchedule, an excellent combined automation and content calendar tool.

Create a content calendar

Before producing and posting any content, you should make a content calendar. This will ensure you have a clear plan for what topics you will be covering, when, and the person responsible. Curata offers some excellent tips and a free template, and Hootsuite has a variety of useful social media calendar templates you can utilise.

 

Infographics are one of the best content marketing strategies for small businesses
Get visual with an infographic

Make it visual

Content marketing isn’t just about text; visual media, like photos, videos and infographics are highly effective. Research has shown that articles that include images get 94% more views and infographics have the power to double your traffic. It’s predicted that by 2017, video will make up almost 70% of online traffic. With stats like these, you’d be foolish not to include visuals in some form or other.

Do keyword research – and keep doing it

Before you start producing and publishing content, make sure you’ve identified the keywords you are looking to target. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to identify words that are relevant to your niche. It’s free to sign up for and simple to use, but you can use this guide if you’re stuck. You can also invest in a paid keyword tool like Moz’s Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis Tool, which offers extra features to make your research more effective.

Once you’ve identified the keywords you want to target, don’t just leave it there. Make sure you go back to your keywords every couple of months and do some more research. You might find that some keywords aren’t ranking or converting particularly well, or there are some new opportunities that you can work on.

Use data

Data-driven content will give your site more authority and increase traffic and shares, so if you have some stats that could be useful to others in your industry or customers, share them. You could make infographics (you can outsource this to a graphic designer for a reasonable fee) that present your business’s data or information in an interesting way. So if you own a bakery, for example, you could make an infographic showing the most popular cakes throughout the year or the amount of ingredients you use.

Utilise CTAs

In order to gain customers, you need to turn visitors into leads, and to do that, you need them to take action. Most of your content should contain a call to action (CTA) – a command like “contact us now” or “sign up for a free trial” that will usually lead to the exchange of information. Frequent blog posts will only be effective if visitors know how to get further information or have an incentive to stay on your site. Keep your CTAs succinct and clear, and offer something extra, for example a white paper, to encourage users to complete them.

Measure, track, tweak

There’s no point in investing in content marketing if you’re not monitoring its success. At the most basic level, you should be using Google Analytics to keep track of how all the content on your website and blog is doing. Look at metrics like number of users, bounce rate, pages per session and average session duration to see how well your site and individual pages are performing. And set up conversion goals so you can monitor your conversion rates for different actions and pages.

Don’t get overwhelmed

One final point: it’s crucial that you don’t let yourself get overwhelmed when you start working on content marketing. If you take on too much at once, you’ll quickly feel like you’re drowning in to-do lists and perhaps frustrated that you’re not seeing immediate results. It’s much better for you to take on the tasks you definitely have the time and resources to do – you can always outsource the other activities when you’re able to.

Read More

Meet Cat, our new content delivery manager

Cat Huntinton
Cat Huntington

Hey everyone! I’m Cat and I’m the latest member of the Copify team.

As a content delivery manager I will be moderating and editing content. I’ll also be helping to address client and writer enquiries.

I was born and raised in Lancaster, so I know all about the area around Copify’s office. However, I have spent the last six years away from home.

First I headed down south to study Business and Japanese at university. As part of my studies I spent one year on exchange in Tokyo, which quickly became my favourite city on earth. I loved it so much that I went back immediately after graduating to teach English.

While in Tokyo I became interested in startups and found a position as a web project manager for a Tokyo city guide website. After a couple of years in Japan, I was determined to continue my startup career, so I moved to Berlin, to do a content marketing and marketing intelligence internship for erento.com – an online rental marketplace.

Between years at university, I spent a few months in Los Angeles, doing an internship at a subtitling and dubbing company. This was where my interest in editing started. This interest grew when I worked on the Tokyo city guide website, where I was responsible for website planning and content management. The best part about it was coordinating freelancers and editing articles. I’m excited to develop these skills further at Copify and use my existing content management knowledge.

Cat has lived in Tokyo and Berlin
Cat has lived in Tokyo and Berlin

In my spare time, I’m a huge fan of electronic music, so there’s nothing I love more than seeing my favourite DJs at festivals and events. This goes well with my passion for travelling; catching a music festival is a great excuse to see a new place. If you’ve never been to a music festival abroad before, it should definitely be on your bucket list. I’m also a bit of a foodie, so I’m always looking for new and interesting restaurants and recipes.

I love writing about new places and experiences. I enjoy sharing my insights and recommendations for nightlife, food and must-see destinations.

Read More