Social Selling Blog

 

Despite the rise of video content, 8 in 10 digital marketers still have blogging as a strategy in their back pocket. The simple answer is that it works. For example, more than 5 in 10 marketers claim that they gained new traffic from blogging.

Here are some of the statistics about blogging you should know about:

  • More than 400 people read at least 20 billion blogs monthly
  • Readers comment on blogs 70 million times each month
  • The average blog has more than 1,000 words
  • Bloggers on average finish the blog in three hours and fifty-seven minutes
  • 3 in 10 readers prefer a list post to a long narrative
  • Websites featuring blogs have more than 400% indexed pages
  • More than 7 in 10 users read and skim through blogs

But you need to understand one thing about blogging--it is challenging. For one, blogging is time-consuming, especially for a new business that needs to build its audience.

It is one thing to speak to a captured audience (your loyal customers), but it is quite another to use it as a tool to funnel traffic into your website. So, why do you need to include blogging in your content strategy for 2021? We list down the reasons for doing so.

  1. Blogging is still the king of content -- More marketers are using video to reach out to their target audience, but the strategy still has not replaced blogging on top of the totem pole. More than any other form, blogging can establish your authority as an expert in your field. As an added benefit, blogs are still the cheapest form of SEO, compared to video, infographics, and images. They are perfect for small businesses with limited budgets. You can outsource the assignment to professionals, and it will cost you between $20 and $250 per blog post. But you can drastically cut costs if you are doing it on your own. In comparison, professional videos will cost you upwards of $1,500.
  2. Boost your rankings -- Last year was a surreal one as the pandemic upended the world. This year does not bode well for bringing things back to normal as the coronavirus continues to lay waste to economies. However, despite the pandemonium, you know what has remained consistent? Blogging continues to drive traffic to websites at exponential rates. Some businesses may take a more conservative tack in terms of marketing spend. But you do not have to erase your previous gains by abandoning your strategy altogether. Blogging is the perfect way to reach out to your audience and assure them that you are still fighting along with them. You also rank higher when you manage to position your website as the primary authority in answering the user’s relevant queries. Another way to boost your rankings is if other websites link to your blog post as a primary source of information.
  3. Demonstrate your credibility -- blogging helps establish your credentials. There is nothing like putting thoughts to paper while inviting scrutiny. It is like putting a challenge out there to question your authority on the matter at hand. But you can build your credibility further by adding stats and studies to back your claims. You can also invite industry experts to write their perspectives on the topic. Finally, you can include videos, infographics, or images to prove a point. Again, it is not easy for most businesses to produce high-quality posts regularly. You can outsource most of the writing jobs to competent SEO professionals out there. But make time to write a blog at least once a week so that you can continue to connect with your audience. If anything else, you blog because you offer a unique perspective to add to the ocean of opinions out there.
  4. Promote your products -- E-commerce websites do not put too much stock on blogging, which is a shame since they can increase sales this way. Most businesses do not understand that the amount of quality content on your website is crucial in search engine indexing. You can post special events, discount offers, flash sales, and other announcements. Another reason to blog is to engage your customers, especially if you open your post to comments. You can ask satisfied customers to include their testimonies and highlight these success stories on your website. The trick in promoting your products is to be truthful. You should also list down the cons, along with the pros, and let your customers decide. But you should do it in such a way that you do not sabotage your product. You can still pitch a product without peppering your post with too much sales talk.
  5. Reach out to new markets -- blogging can drive new traffic to your website as Google tends to recommend websites with updated and high-quality content. The important thing is to be patient. Your blog should work to funnels sales to your website. You would only be wasting space otherwise. Finding new markets will guarantee a steady stream of revenues. You have zero chance of expanding your business if you are always relying on your existing customer base. More importantly, you can use blogging to make your loyal customers feel rewarded while reaching out to prospects. However, it takes blogs at least three months to gain traction, especially for new businesses. You cannot demand results immediately just because you are producing premium content.

But one thing to remember about your blogs is ownership. Make sure that you do not use free blogging platforms to host your thoughts. You will be at the mercy of these platforms, and they can delete your content anytime.

Conclusion

One of the most significant challenges of blogging is finding the right person with the talent to put their thoughts on paper with their business goals in mind. It is intimidating for most people to stare at a blank screen as the pressure to churn out a product increases. Fortunately, in today’s age, you do not have to do it on your own. Social Media Marketing agencies can cost-effectively handle your content strategy. We already demonstrated that blogging establishes authority and generates traffic. Now, the easy part is for you to decide to place that call.

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Before Google, there was Ask Jeeves - the well-dressed, always smiling gentleman who was always ready to answer your most pressing questions. Back then, the knowledge about search engines was still in its infancy stage. People treated it as a party trick, and they would ask the most random questions to stump the website.

But regardless of the name, both Ask Jeeves (which many don’t know still exists today under the brand Ask.com) and Google have the same function. They connect users to the closest answer or solution for their most nagging concerns.

Today, search engines are synonymous with Google. And for good reason. According to this study's data, 9 in 10 people use Google when they search online. Bing is a far second with 2.44%, followed by Yahoo!, Baidu, and Yandex.

https://www.webfx.com/blog/seo/2019-search-market-share/

This means for you, that if you are crafting your digital marketing plan, you always have to design with Google’s algorithms in mind.

The search engine’s dominance is almost unbelievable. Google used to release data on the number of pages it indexed. But it suddenly stopped without any explanation. To give you an idea of the sheer magnitude of its task, Google indexed 130 trillion individual pages on the Internet as of 2016.

Why Is It Important to Know How Search Engines Work?

A user’s online journey typically starts with a search. You need to understand the nature of the search to create an effective digital marketing campaign. This understanding is essential to search engine optimization (SEO), which is a tool to boost your Internet traffic, capture leads, and convert customers.

Here are some of the benefits of familiarizing yourself with how Google functions:

  • You can increase your rankings on the search engine results page (SERP)
  • You can develop optimized websites that search engines can crawl and index
  • You can benchmark your digital marketing campaign with your competitors
  • You can measure your SEO performance and tweak it for optimum results

The question is, why do you need to rank high?

A 2013 research by Chitika Insights showed how important it is to rank high on the SERP.

Users do not usually go beyond Google’s first page when they input a query. The top three websites on the SERP alone already corners 61% of web traffic. The top five websites make up three-quarters of the total traffic.

CRAWLING

All search engines utilize a complex algorithm to generate the most relevant search results. To do this, they must first inspect all elements of the website - such as the webpage, headline, navigation, relevant keywords, authority links, and the content.

Crawling in SEO parlance means to prowl or follow the links around your website. Google uses spiders or bots to handle the task. That the reason for web developers familiar with SEO to always include a site map on the pages, to make it easier for the spiders to navigate across multiple paths.

The links serve as invisible neural pathways for these bots to crawl through the World Wide Web. Their job is clearly defined: find the most relevant result to match the user’s query. As you might expect, if you put up roadblocks along the way, you might be sending Google’s bots in the direction of your competitor’s website.

To prevent this, you need to audit your website at least every month to spot crawl errors. Among these errors are:

  • Server error
  • 404
  • txt error
  • DNS error

The solution can be straightforward or complex, especially if the error is a symptom of a much deeper technical issue.

INDEXING

 

Once the bots have crawled through your website, they will add you to Google’s database. The database is an anthology of indexed pages crawled by the bots.

Here are some of the crucial elements in indexing a website:

  • The XML sitemap
  • The nature of the content and how it relates to the search
  • Anchor text of the links
  • Detailed information about the links (e.g., located within the page, ads, authoritative websites, backlinks, etc.)
  • Duplicate content
  • SEO-friendly URLs and canonical tags
  • Meta tags

You need to make sure that your website is optimized for SEO so that Google will find and properly index you. Even if you have the most amazing product, your target customers would have a hard time finding your business, if you are not on Google’s database.

RANKING

 

Once the spiders crawled and indexed your site, the next step is ranking. Search engines will consider multiple elements to determine your website’s ranking on the SERP.

Here are some of the factors that will impact ranking:

  • Load speed -- Google recommends that your page load should be two seconds or less to keep your bounce rate low. For instance, 8 in 10 users will abandon your page when it takes 4-5 seconds to load.
  • Off-page and on-page -- On-page refers to the technical elements of your website and content quality. Off-page typically refers to the backlinks--the more authoritative they are, the better.
  • Mobile-friendly -- American adults are glued to their phones for almost four hours each day. Nowadays, the phone is not only a tool to make calls. It is the main tool that connects them to the Internet.

 

According to this study's data, nearly 7 in 10 shoppers use their phones to read reviews first before deciding to buy. Meanwhile, 66.7% use a shopping app on their phones. The figure is significant since global e-commerce sales will hit more than $600 billion in 2021.

  • Relevant keywords -- How your keywords match the user search is crucial to your rank. But depending on your industry, the keywords can be extremely competitive. You need to have a better understanding of what your customers are doing when online. You also need to test your keywords and benchmark them with your most successful campaigns. Even Google will tell you that you produce content to address a user’s need rather than please the algorithm.

Being added to Google’s database is totally free. You do not have to fill up a form to be indexed. But you do have to know the parameters for crawling, indexing, and ranking to avoid the pitfalls that can penalize you, as well as mimic the best practices to gain an edge over the competition.

 

It does not take rocket science to conclude that the global pandemic changed the marketing landscape, particularly consumers' online behavior.

For one, the pandemic drove home the point that everything is fragile. Resilience and flexibility have become the marketing buzzwords. Organizations that failed to adapt are left behind as others have ambled on, limping perhaps, but not crippled.

Over the past year, the competition for keyword search has intensified. As consumers stayed inside their homes, online activity ramped up. More importantly, a new market opened up--consumers who were new e-commerce but were forced by the lockdowns to do their shopping online.

However, even a behemoth like Google is not immune from its devastating effects. For instance, experts project a five-percent dip in Google revenues. The search engine giant loosened its grip on the US digital market from 31.6% in 2019 to 29.4% in 2020.

But what is the pay-per-click landscape for 2021? How will advertisers navigate this "new normal?"

Here are some of the trends to watch out for:

  1. COVID-19 remains a force majeure -- As the world races to produce a viable vaccine against the coronavirus, marketers do not foresee sweeping changes in digital advertising this year. Advertisers will continue to tighten their belts and adopt a wait-and-see attitude. According to Agility Solutions, millennials are the most affected by economic restrictions. They are cutting their spending, staying indoors, stocking up on their supplies, and using public transportation rather than waste money on gas. As such, you need to craft a marketing strategy to account for the change in their online buying behavior. In the same vein, the buying behavior of men tends to be more affected by COVID. For instance, they are likely to stay away from shopping in brick-and-mortar stores compared to women.
     
  2. Lockdowns formed new habits -- COVID changed the average consumer's perception of the world as they realized that nothing is permanent. But consumers have adapted to the new normal and, thereby, formed new habits that would likely sustain even post-COVID. As already mentioned, those who were hesitant about online shopping before have now embraced the latest technology. And they realized that their initial fears were unfounded. Organizations are also more pressured now to improve their systems with the rising consumer demand. While people were more forgiving before the lockdown, they want better communication, particularly when it comes to shipping and delivery.
     
  3. The continued evolvement of voice search --According to data, over half of the population in China and India use voice AI for search. Teenagers (55%) tend to use voice search compared to adults (44%). You need to review your existing blueprint to make sure you would not be left behind. For example, you need to adopt the conversational language and long-tail keywords in your online search. Google has done a remarkable job of tracking omnichannel conversion. Using Google Analytics, advertisers can also monitor offline conversions across different devices. But you need baseline data on what your customers are searching for using voice tech. Generally, people use voice assistants to call someone, search for a store or information, find directions, or play a song. But you can customize the data to profile your customers. 
     
  4. Google search data continues to be limited -- Toward the end of last year, Google announced that it is restricting access to search data when there is no meaningful information. The problem is that the search engine did not elaborate on what "significant" means. But marketers immediately felt the impact of this decision as they saw fewer details on their analytics reports. As Google pushes advertisers to be more heavily dependent on machine learning, expect this obfuscation of data to continue in 2021. On the one hand, automation will benefit the small and medium companies, but the big spenders will have to adapt because Google shows no signs of budging from its position. For instance, they must find a way to cook a complete meal with little ingredients. For savvy marketers, getting access to 85% of the information would still be enough to launch a successful campaign.
     
  5. Automation to accelerate further -- Marketers must face the truth: automation is here to stay. Rather than continue to resist, they should make more effort to learn how automation works. It is not to say that you should nix your existing manual PPC strategy, but expect to cede more control to the platforms since they will demand more from you. Track the areas where you lost control due to automation, and decide whether to adapt or move forward. It is false to assume that human intelligence will become obsolete. You still need PPC pros to parse the data, especially when the machine generate contrasting feedback. You need to be quick to deviate or move forward when you find yourself at a crossroads.
     
  6. Take your hand from the cookie jar -- Advertisers must put a plan in place as nations continue to impose new restrictive policies on data privacy. For many years, marketers have relied on cookies to develop leads and target customers. But the terrain is shifting, so your search marketing team must craft a data strategy to comply with the new policies. More importantly, you also have to wean from a cookie-reliant strategy and develop new solutions using first-party data. By customizing your website, you can exploit first-party data to customize your search strategy that aligns with your business goals. Improving your first-party data will also be crucial in generating more accurate metrics on your leads. 

 

Those are just some of the trends for Google Ads and PPC for 2021. As the global pandemic has shown, organizations who showed a propensity to adjust quickly are more likely to survive. Marketers have the advantage of experience and hindsight to craft their search strategy amid the specter of COVID-19. The good news is that this year would not be as unpredictable compared to 2020. As long as you have good foundations, you can build on them to maintain or speed up your momentum.

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Using Facebook is an excellent way to expand your reach, attract leads, engage with your audience, and convert leads. Unfortunately, organizations are still not exploiting the platform’s full potential when it could increase their ROI tenfold. However, advertising on Facebook is not merely dumping money on the platform and expect an immediate windfall.

You may have heard from some business owners testifying that advertising on Facebook is only a waste of money. They claimed that their social media marketing campaign did not produce anything for them. But people tend to underestimate Facebook’s reach. Sure, most of their friends, families, and acquaintances are likely active on social media. However, it is hard to imagine the level of its influence beyond their immediate network.

According to Statistica, Facebook ads revenue may hit nearly $95 billion in 2021. The global pandemic of 2020 failed to dampen the platform’s performance as it generated $81 billion in revenues. As you can see, marketers continue to pour in their money on Facebook because, well, it works.

Before you start advertising on Facebook, however, you need to be aware of the following:

1. Specify your goals

The type of marketing campaign you will run hinges on your business goals. Each organization has a distinct purpose. Since time immemorial, managers have employed S.M.A.R.T. in goal-setting. The goal should be specific, can be measured, should be attainable, and relevant. Finally, your target should be time-bound.

So, you need to specify your goal statement if your target is to increase your sales. The next step is to set a target number that you can use to gauge your success. But you also have to make sure that your target goal is realistic. You cannot expect $1 million in ROIs if you invest only $1,000 in your Facebook ads. The ad should be relevant to your goals, and lastly, you need to identify a specific deadline, which would be material to measure your performance.

But some organizations might not be interested in pure profit as they care more about brand awareness or pushing their advocacy. Regardless of your goal, the crucial element is knowing your purpose in the first place.

2. Craft your strategy

Once you have identified your business goals, the next step is to develop your marketing blueprint. Your strategy will serve as your bible as you tick the parameters on the Facebook Ads Manager. You need to have a general approach and a specific strategy tailored to each campaign. The overall plan should be flexible and anchored on your business goals.

Your game plan is the crucial element, so you do not lose your way when starting your Ads Manager. It is easy to get confused when navigating through the Ads Manager since you deal with the target audience, the creative, budget, and ad placement. Your relative inexperience can easily backfire on you.

When you feel confused, you can simply go back to your game plan and remind yourself of your objectives. The key questions include:

  • Who is my target audience? Are they cold or warm?
  • What product or service will I be promoting?
  • What is my goal for this particular ad?
  • What are their pain points, and how do I convert?
  • How much budget do I need for this ad?

3. Who is your audience?

Facebook Insights provide crucial data on the identity of your audience and how they interact with your business. The analytics will enable you to gain an insight on how to improve your relationship with them to meet your overall goals. With the data in hand, you can now produce better-performing ads because of their relevance and frequency. Also, you need to determine the source of your traffic.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it sounds because Facebook does not have this feature. One workaround is to create a landing page or a tracking code to parse the data, so you can identify which of the traffic is organic, sponsored, referral, or from your target customers. Once you establish these things, you can reduce your cost-per-click and optimize your budget by creating ad content that resonates with your audience.

4. Produce different versions of the same ad

Facebook allows advertisers to run a maximum of five different versions of their headlines, and there is a reason for that. The social media platform knows the importance of producing different versions for a more effective marketing campaign. While distinct from each other, the ads should have the same goals and target audience. The primary objective is to assess audience engagement with each ad.

In the future, you can use the same data to better equipped your ads with relevant content that produces better feedback. You can take down the ads that generate the lowest click-through-rate. An added advantage of multiple versions is that you can rotate these ads for a fresher look.

5. Test your ad

In politics, strategists use a trial balloon to gauge public response to a policy or legislation. When running your Facebook ad, you should never underestimate the need for A/B testing so that you can experiment with various campaigns to narrow down your options.

One of the recommended practices is to design different versions of your ad - from your headline and sentence construction to choosing an image or video production. You can select your custom audience for your trial balloon for consistent and measurable outcomes. Finally, set a timetable, which should not exceed 30 days. It can be time-consuming, but you will be rewarded with better impressions and higher ROIs in the end.

Conclusion

While Facebook is an excellent platform to run your ads, you cannot shortcut the process to achieve your goals. The good news is that you can start with a small budget, and it will not seriously hamper your campaign. But there is a steep learning curve, and some organizations do not have the luxury of time. Maybe your best option is to hire a pro to run your campaign.

 

Blogging is an effective marketing tool that is sadly underutilized by some businesses. Unfortunately, e-commerce websites fail to see the value of a blog and see it as a distraction.

Understandably, churning consistent quality content may be outside their field of expertise. And populating your website with low-quality content is the worse strategy. You will only lose yourself in the ocean of words that are published daily. For example, on WordPress alone, there are 2.3 million blog posts each day.

While blogging is not a requirement for a successful website, it can go a long way to establish your credibility, generate new traffic, and promote your products and services.

Here are some of the tips you can follow to increase the conversion rate of each blog post:

  1. One post, one goal -- You blog with one goal in mind so that you would be all over the place. As a result, you will not confuse your readers regarding your objectives. Meet with your team to determine your goals using the S.M.A.R.T. or C.L.E.A.R. method. From your main goal, you can create sub-goals within the blog but make sure you do not veer away from your primary objective.
  2. Identify your audience -- Knowing your audience will determine the language you are going to use. In marketing parlance, mirroring is a method to mimic the prospect’s movements to make yourself more accessible. You can get your message across more clearly if you speak your target reader’s language.
  3. Find your voice -- How would you like your audience to know you? You can leave an impression by the tone of your blog content. Finding your voice means establishing your corporate identity. Would you like to sound casual, the way you speak to your family and friends? Would you like to appear professional, as you would treat your colleagues? You can be humorous, witty, optimistic, informal, or be serious. But always strive for authenticity because the audience will sense fakeness. 
  4. Write eye-catching headlines -- It takes a reader less than five seconds to decide whether to continue reading your post or not. And it all starts with the headline that grabs their attention and stirs their curiosity. Your headline must be witty, provide a solution, and optimized for SEO. How many words should your headline have? The numbers vary but make sure they do not exceed ten words. The Advanced Marketing Institute released a handy tool to gauge the Emotional Marketing Value of your headline.
  5. Solve a problem -- The blog post should not exist in a vacuum, meaning you do not write simply to meet your daily quota. The content is geared to the search intent. Customers go online to find a solution--whether buying a product or answering their nagging questions. But try to provide a solution that will resonate with the reader’s emotions. If they can relate to your post, they tend to make an affirmative action
  6. Optimized for SEO -- No matter how well your write, it would not matter if you cannot reach your intended audience. Search engine optimization will get you there. Using SEO best practices, you will put yourself in a better position on the search engine results pages. As the numbers show, people typically find their answers within the first five websites on Google’s SERP. For example, the top website on Google’s search results will corner 33% of the total traffic
  7. Update consistently -- What does consistently mean? The frequency of your blog post depends on your business. A smaller company can get away with posting a blog 3-4 times a week, but websites with a large following tend to post daily. The magic number seems to be 11 or more per month. Hubspot placed the number at 16 or more as websites generated 3.5 times traffic as a result. Consistency also refers to the days of the week that you post. You can also ask your readers to subscribe to your newsletter or RSS feed. In this way, you can alert them every time you post a blog
  8. Be aware of your time -- The time you post your blog on your website is as important as the frequency of uploads. If you are a small business, you may consider hiring content writers who are knowledgeable about SEO. In 2017, Trackmaven (now Skyword) published a report concluding that Sunday is the best time to post a blog since they were shared a lot more. Meanwhile, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday performed worse. Another research suggested that the best time to post is between 9-10 a.m. on a weekday. But you can always measure your post to determine which time is best for you.
  9. Anecdotes and real-life experiences work -- A case study that will support your solution or hypothesis will help persuade your audience better. There is a reason why people read reviews before purchasing a product--they want to hear the POV of other consumers and determine the pros and cons. Meanwhile, writing anecdotes not only provides the proof your readers need, but they are also very engaging compared to the average blog post. Again, make sure that you draw the case study from your experience rather than pulling it out of thin air. The readers can sense if you are trying to manipulate them.
  10. CTA -- Lastly, your blog should have a call-to-action to drive home your point to the readers. In this way, your audience would not be confused by your intentions. You can ask them to share your content, try out your product, subscribe to your newsletter, or comment on your blog post. With a compelling CTA, you can encourage your readers to engage with your business.

Conclusion

If you have not yet jumped on the blogging bandwagon, it is not yet too late for your business to do so. But it is a slippery slope, especially if you are not confident about your writing skills. Fortunately, you can outsource your content to pros with the experience and knowledge to deliver results. The benefits you gain from reaching your goals will outweigh the cost.

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