casper

Save Time, Hire a Ghostwriter

If you’re like a lot of small business owners, you’re already wearing a lot of hats – you’re the CEO, the sales team, the customer service rep, the janitor… if you’re finding yourself already tapped out and short on time, then hiring a ghostwriter to produce great content for your blog or website is a worthwhile investment.

Quality ghostwriters have the unique ability to “know” exactly what you want to say and put it into words for you so that you don’t have to wrack your brain and struggle for countless hours in front of your computer.  After all, the time you waste sitting there is time that you could be spending on other areas of your business that you may be better at or that may be more important.

TIP:  A lot of ghostwriters are also familiar with things like SEO, meta data, and other tactics that can increase organic traffic to your site and boost your conversion rates.

What is a Ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters can be hired on a “freelance” or contractual basis.  You, the client, pays the writer to produce content for your site or blog (or other content such as press releases, eBooks, whitepapers, etc), and in exchange for money you receive great content that you then have full control over and can put your name – or anyone’s name – on.

Before entering into a contract with a ghostwriter, it’s always a good idea to write up a contract or an agreement of terms that you both then sign and agree upon.  You can find a number of websites that can provide you with free basic agreement templates online that you can print and use.

How do I Pay a Ghostwriter?

There are a number of ways that a ghostwriter can be paid, though the two most common ways are on a “work for hire” basis (where the writer is paid a flat fee) or an hourly rate (the writer may bill you for their hours spent on a weekly or biweekly basis).  Some other ways to consider include:

  • Royalties (the ghostwriter gets a chunk of the profit every time a book is sold, or every time a blog post or web article leads to a conversion, etc.)
  • Advance plus royalties (money is paid up front, and they receive a cut of the profits)
  • Consignment pay (if any sales are made, the ghostwriter is paid a certain percentage of those sales)

Where do I Find a Ghostwriter?

One of the best places to begin your search for a ghostwriter is on a “microjob” site (such as Elance or oDesk). These sites have become increasingly popular and provide clients with a wealth of international professionals that offer their ghostwriting skills at varying rates.  Typically you would post a “job” on the site, and interested ghostwriters would then send in “proposals” (somewhat like a resume for a job) as well as samples of their writing. From there, you can determine who you would like to work with based on their writing style, their fee, or any other factors you may want to take into account.

Many magazine and book publishing companies can also connect you with professional ghostwriters, or you can use other sites such as Craigslist to find ghostwriters online.

content

Take Time, Create Great Content

Since the dawn of the internet, there have been websites that are misleading, flooded with horrible content, or loaded with irrelevant information.  Such websites have crippled many search engines that didn’t bother to create more intuitive search functions, like Google’s “Panda” release which rightfully places search engine results on content rather than something trivial like keyword density.

If ranking high in a Google search isn’t reason enough for you to take the time to focus on creating good content, here are 4 other reasons why you should still live by the phrase, “Content is king.”

People will Stay on your Page

Visitors have truly lost all patience when it comes to clicking on a website that offers nothing of value.  You have about 5 seconds to make an impact.  If you want to make it count, then you’ve got to have great content.  Keyword stuffing, cloaking, and other search engine “tricks” just aren’t cutting it with web-savvy users any more.  Visitors want unique and high quality information that answers their question and solves their problem.

Use Spelling and Grammar Checks

Visitors also want well written content.  You’ve undoubtedly stumbled upon a website that’s loaded with spelling and grammatical errors.  No matter how “helpful” the content may be, if it’s not well written, visitors are bound to take off to find the next best thing.  Having poorly written and constructed content, regardless of how informative it may be, is unprofessional and makes the reader doubt the integrity and validity of what they’re reading.  You no longer look like a professional in that niche, and you will lose tons of visitors who could have otherwise been leads, customers, or even brand loyalists.

 TIP:  If you aren’t fluent in the language that your website requires, why not hire on a ghostwriter who is proficient in that language?

Write Content for Specific Niche Groups

If you want to have great content, then you’ve got to cater to who you think your target audience will be.  General articles and blog posts are great, but only to a certain point.  Write information that really digs into topics of interest for your particular niche group.  This will help you stand out as an industry professional.

Content Builds Relationships

Want people to stick around your site and come back for more later? Then you’ve got to build a relationship with them. The best way to do this: with quality content.  By creating authoritative content that solves the problems and answers the questions of your visitors, you’re making you and your business more credible and are building up a reliable reputation.  A reliable reputation means more trust, and people are far more likely to return to website and make purchases from companies that they feel that they know and can trust. 

linkedin b2b

5 Tips on How to use LinkedIn for B2Bs

When we think “social media”, we generally think about Facebook, Twitter, and maybe Google+.  The one social networking site that a lot of businesses are missing from their social media repertoire is LinkedIn.  LinkedIn is particularly useful for B2Bs since, well, its primary focus is just that – connecting businesses with other businesses online rather than connecting businesses with consumers (as you would on Facebook or Twitter).

 

LinkedIn Statistics

To get you started, here are some statistics to give you an idea of who most of the LinkedIn members are so you can determine how you can use LinkedIn to connect to local and international B2Bs.

-       As of January 2012, it was reported that there were approximately 147 million LinkedIn users worldwide

-       The average user is between the age of 25 and 54 years old (67.7%) and men take up the majority of users (57.9% male)

-       65.7% of users are from North American and Europe, though the biggest “boom” is inBrazil, with more members being acquired there from 2011 to 2012 than any other country.

 

Tip #1: Fill out your Profile

If you want to make any sort of impression on LinkedIn, then you have to take the time to fill out your profile completely.  This means adding a picture of yourself, including your likes and dislikes, adding your web address, and so on.  You want to give people information about YOU.  This will help other B2B owners start to build an emotional and favorable connection with you.

 

Tip #2:  Update your Status

Sounds rather Facebook-esque, right?  Remember that LinkedIn is catering to a different audience.  So rather than tell people about what you had for dinner or what movie you watched last night (as you would on Facebook), publish professional updates on LinkedIn.  If your business reached a milestone, write about it.  If you released a new eBook, put that in your status and provide a link.  Too many LinkedIn users don’t use the “status update” function, which leaves you with plenty of room to capitalize on that opportunity.

 

Tip #3: Participate in Groups

Want to connect with people in your industry?  Then get involved in LinkedIn “Groups”.  These groups provide you with the unique ability to connect with people involved in your industry or niche on a local or international scale.  You can ask questions, answer questions, and express thoughts and opinions here with other professionals like yourself.  Not only are you broadening your own knowledge base, but you’re also building up connections with other people online.  Network, network, network.  Isn’t that was a successful B2B is all about?

 

Tip #4: Make your Profile SEO Friendly

Bet you didn’t think that you could optimize your LinkedIn page.  Well, you can, and doing so can drastically increase the amount of traffic coming to your site.  Choose targeted keywords and keyword phrases and incorporate these naturally into your profile (you don’t want to make it look “spammy” or be obvious about keyword stuffing) and you’ll find that a lot of your web traffic may be finding you first through your LinkedIn profile.

 

Tip #5: Ask for Recommendations

LinkedIn has this neat little feature called “Recommendations” which act very similarly to, say, a testimonial or positive customer review.  Recommendations give your business more credibility and recognition in the realm of LinkedIn.  Some members may give you recommendations because they recognize how valuable they are, but oftentimes you’ll have to outright ask for them.  You can give their company a glowing “Recommendation” in return.

 

Reference:

http://www.slideshare.net/amover/linkedin-demographics-statistics-jan-2012

Print

Why Closed Loop Reporting is Essential for your Business

Have you ever wondered how you can truly measure the efforts of your inbound marketing campaign?  One of the most effective and powerful tools that online marketers have on hand is a little something called “closed loop reporting”.  Closed loop reporting not only allows you to continually build and improve upon your marketing efforts, but it also gives you good, hard numbers that will help you build goals and expectations, and allow you to better decide where you should be allocating your marketing budget to attain the highest return on investment (ROI).

 

What is Closed Loop Reporting?

The term “closing the loop” is really just a phrase used to describe how leads were received and what happened to them.  Knowing this information will help you determine which marketing tactics are your best lead sources and which are your worst lead sources

Here’s an idea of how the “closed loop reporting” process works:

1)     Visitor arrives on your site (a cookie is set on the visitor which will track how they came to your site, and where they went once they were there)

2)     Visitor checks out your site (the cookie tracks where they went)

3)     Visitor converts into a lead (i.e. the visitor filled out a form or downloaded an eBook where he or she provided their email address)

4)     Lead converts into a customer (the lead makes a purchase)

 

Get to Know your Audience

Closed loop reporting can be the very best methodology you use in terms of gaining lead intelligence.  You can get to know exactly who your  leads are by discovering things like:

 

-          What sort of offers they are most interested in

-          What action they take after taking you up on your offers

-          Why they came to your website

-          Where they came from (both electronically and geographically)

 

Hone in on the Right Sales Channels

Tracking visitor and lead behavior will help you in terms of knowing which sales channels are most worth your while, and which may either need improvement or can be dropped from your inbound marketing arsenal.  For example, you may find that your landing page for your free eBook on “do it yourself” roof repairs is great in terms of converting leads to customers, but your “Free Consultation” pay-per-click (PPC) campaign is only bringing in short-term visitors that don’t take any further action in terms of becoming a lead or a customer.  You can then either:

a)     Try to improve upon your PPC campaign; or

b)     Eliminate that sales channel entirely and allocate the marketing budget used for that to a more profitable area (such as landing pages)

 

Reduce your Sales Cycle Time

When you know what your target audience wants, and what sales channels are working for them, you can then start sending out  more intuitive and smarter communications to your leads.   As a result, you will start to significantly reduce the amount of time that you spend trying to nurture your leads and, as a result, save time and money.

TIP:  Once you begin to track visitor and lead behavior with closed loop reporting, you’ll start noticing marketing trends and buying behaviors that will allow you to segment “types” of leads into different buying groups, and streamline the sales process.

 

Set Realistic Goals & Expectations

When you begin to keep track of how your inbound marketing techniques typically perform, you’ll be able to set realistic goals for you and your sales & marketing team.  By knowing what your conversion rates have been in the past, you can set up certain expectations and start formulating goals that will improve your performance and help make your business more profitable.

 

What it all boils down to is this: closed loop reporting helps you create a more effective sales strategy which, as a result, both lowers your cost per lead (CPL) and increases your ROI.  All you  need to get started is some customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing statistics software and you can start “closing the loop” today.

content 101

Your Content Marketing 101 Checklist

Gone are the days when content marketing was about newspaper ads, magazine ads and flyers.  If you want to make the most of your marketing, then you have to move your content marketing strategy online.  You need to set aside those “brick and mortar” outbound marketing techniques and instead focus on inbound marketing methods such as:

  • Blogs
  • White papers
  • eBooks
  • Videos
  • Infographics

Not only are inbound marketing methods proving to be more successful, but HubSpot has also recently reported that inbound leads cost 61% less than outbound marketing ($135 for inbound marketing versus $346 for outbound marketing).  No matter if you’re a small business or a large corporation, saving over $200 per lead is money that can be spent on other parts of your business.

Here’s where it may get a bit tricky: there’s a lot of content on the web, so much so that it can be difficult to get yourself noticed amongst the clutter. So how can you stand out?  First, you need to ask the right questions about your marketing:

 

1) Is your content delivering the right information?

Try to take a good, unbiased look at your content and then rate it on a scale of 1 to 5 based on how helpful it is to your target market.  Does the content solve your market’s problem?  Look at other statistics that you may have on hand, such as how many comments were posted with the information, how many times it was “liked”, “shared”, re-tweeted, and so on.

2) Is your content marketing consistent?

You want your readers to be able to predict when you’ll have new content coming out (i.e. if you send email newsletters, always send them on the same day and at the same time).  This will help:

  • Build up a more professional image
  • Increase a readers’ trust in you and your company
  • Create familiarity with you and your brand

3) Is your content engaging?

How engaging your content is really boils down to two things: your tone and the information being presented.  If you really want to engage your readers, opt for a more conversational tone and provide stories that your readers can relate to.  It can take a while to really settle into the right “style” for you and your audience, but that will come with time and practice.

 

TIP:  Don’t be afraid to be opinionated.  This isn’t to say that you should be confrontational, but naturally weave your opinions into your content.  For example, if you’re a small business, don’t write content that attempts to take down a larger competitor.  Instead, write content that is all about what is great about your business – what makes you unique, special, and stand out amongst any big-box stores without mentioning any specific companies.

 

4) Does your content support the long term goals of your business?

Content marketing should be supporting both your long term and your short term goals.  This type of marketing should be about building a long term, trusting relationship with a lead.  Lightly sprinkle in any product or service recommendations and promotions.  Then, when the time’s right, you can offer them that personal promotion or discount.

5) Are your topics interesting?

One of the worst things that you could do to your business is to use the same old topics over and over again for content.  No matter how much you repackage it and resell it, having an article about the benefits of your super juicer is still going to be an article about the benefits of your super juicer.  Go beyond the box in your thinking.  What would people who buy your juicer also be interested in?  Maybe some juice or smoothie recipes.  Maybe some information about the benefits of popular food products that are used in juices, like the nutritional benefits of carrots.  When all else fails, read what visitors, leads and customers are writing on your blogs, videos, and social media accounts, and use those comments and questions as inspiration for new topics.

Ip weekly wrap up

Weekly Wrap Up: July 13

Here’s your weekly wrap up to make your Friday the 13th less nerve racking.

 

1. How Even ‘Boring’ Industries Can Create Interesting Content

It’s true, I promise.

 

2. Top 5 Things for Inbound Marketers to do When the Internet Goes Down

Sadly, office golf is not one of them…

 

3. Sony’s Director of Social Media Seeks Not Followers But ‘Loyalists’

 

4. What Matters more: Conversion Volume or Conversion Rate

That’s a great question.

 

5. Why I’m Leaving SEO

Not me personally, but why this guy is.

 

google panda

How to Satisfy Google Panda’s Strict Diet

Since the inception of Google, the search engine has continuously been updating and changing their search engine algorithm to meet the needs of internet users worldwide.  They have faced and conquered many of the issues that plagued and even destroyed many other search engine providers (anyone remember metacrawler?) and their latest Google Panda search algorithm is no different.

 

What is Google Panda?

Google Panda is an algorithm change that is meant to ensure the integrity of the search engine by putting a focus on high quality content rather than other “cheating” techniques, like keyword spamming and cloaking.  The higher the quality of your content, the higher you’ll stand to rank on Google.

 

What to Feed Google Panda

Forget about keyword spamming or writing content that isn’t relevant to what your website’s supposed to be about.  The Google Panda has greater dietary needs than that.  You need to avoid feeding Google:

  • Content that isn’t duplicated content
  • Content that has correct spelling and is grammatically correct
  • Any nonsensical content

So what should you feed the Panda?

  • Original content that provides readers with new, insightful content
  • A continual stream of fresh content – the more fresh content your site has, the higher your chances of ranking high on the search engines
  • Relevant content that makes sense with the theme or niche of your site

Does this mean that you should throw your SEO efforts out the window?  Absolutely not.  But all of those efforts should be directly related to whatever the purpose of your website is.  Any link, any affiliate products, and any keywords cannot mislead a visitor or be off topic.  Keyword density is still important, but focus on the “less is more” approach.  Keep keywords at a minimum (1% density) to make sure that the Panda doesn’t think you’re keyword stuffing.

 

How to Improve Current Content

If you already have a website with content on it that you notice has been affected by Google Panda, then you may have a bit of work ahead of you.  Apart from the ensuring that the content meets the above standards, start off by opening up Google and then doing a search on your site to see what pages or posts are appearing on Google from your domain.  It’s important to know have only important pages and posts be “search worthy” on Google, otherwise it can severely affect your search ranking.  If you find posts that are old or that offer low quality or poorly research content, strongly consider putting a “noindex” or “nofollow” tag on it.

For any article that contains links, you’ll want to ensure that the links go to relevant content and are still useful (i.e. get rid of any broken links).  You should be updating these on a regular basis anyway, so hopefully if you have, this should be fairly quick and easy to do.

Lastly, many of those who have tested the Panda search algorithm have noticed that removing the date from their posts will help improve their CTR (click through ratio).  Try removing any dates from your posts and see if that makes a difference in your post’s page rankings.

iStock_000019967612Small

Inbound Marketing 101: What’s the Big Deal?

Inbound marketing, which is oftentimes referred to as online marketing, is all about driving qualified, relevant traffic to your website.  The hope is that through the use of a number of inbound marketing tactics that you’ll able to entice visitors to your site, and then turn those visitors into leads, and then nurture those leads to the point that they become customers and perhaps even brand loyalists.

There are a number of different tactics that are used in inbound marketing to accomplish this, such as:

 

  • Blogs
  • Social media marketing
  • SEO (search engine optimization)
  • PPC (pay per click advertisements)
  • Press releases
  • Landing pages

 

But inbound marketing goes beyond just the methods used to draw qualified leads to your website.  It’s also about using proper tools to analyze the success of each of these methods, which in turn can help you further tailor and improve upon your online marketing strategies.

 

What Inbound Marketing Isn’t

Most of the more traditional methods of marketing are exactly what inbound marketing is not (also known as outbound marketing techniques).  This includes direct mail campaigns, tradeshows, and telemarketing.

 

Why Inbound Marketing is More Effective than Outbound Marketing

Simply put, outbound marketing techniques are old and stale.  When’s the last time you actually used a phonebook to look up a service provider or an address?  When’s the last time you really gave a telemarketer the time of day?  Even television commercials have become redundant since the dawn of the DVR and TiVo.

Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing also isn’t about just sending out random blasts to as many people as possible.  It’s all about targeting specific people who will be interested in your products and services, which increases your chance to convert users and save money on marketing.

What does this mean?  That outbound marketing techniques are being ignored by consumer.  What’s even worse is that inbound marketing is 61% less in cost per lead than outbound marketing (HubSpot, 2012).  So not only are you spending more on outbound marketing, but it’s less effective too.  It’s no wonder that more and more companies of all sizes are spending more of their marketing budget on inbound marketing and reducing what they’re spending on outbound.

 

Techniques Used in Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing consists of a number of different techniques and strategies, such as:

  • Building a successful marketing strategy
  • Building and designing an optimized website
  • Creating strategies to drive qualified traffic to your site
  • Blog creation
  • Social media marketing tactics
  • Traffic to lead conversion
  • Lead nurturing
  • Creating attractive offers (i.e. eBooks, white papers, promotions, etc.)
  • Landing page and form creation
  • CTA (call to action) creation and implementation
  • Lead management and segmentation
  • Closed loop and web analytics

The bottom line is that the world is moving online to find products, services and information that they want and need.  This is even becoming more prevalent as more people worldwide are using their mobile and smartphones to research and make purchase decisions on your products and services.  If your company isn’t online, then you’re missing out the chance to convert handfuls of potential customers.

copywriting word in wood type

The Anti-Journalist’s Guide to Copywriting – 5 Ways to Write Winning Copy Every Time

“Content is King”. Or so we are regularly told. Google is certainly trying to shift the focus toward quality content, but being a wordsmith doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Marketers in multinational companies right through to an entrepreneur in a start-up need to nail their online copy, but this is sometimes more difficult that it seems.

The truth is – everyone can write. While some of us get degrees and study the art of crafting a sentence, some of us avoid words like the plague. But when the time comes, and you have to put finger to keyboard; how can you craft killer copy? Here are five top tips on writing winning web copy, even if you’re not a confident or proficient journalist:

1. Write What You Know

This is perhaps the most valuable thing to understand. Even those who make a living with words are good at what they do because of this. The key to crafting killer copy, is writing about what you know. If your area of expertise is marketing, write about every aspect of marketing you can.

Your insider knowledge is what sets you apart from others in the field. You will be able to impart unique knowledge, offer a new outlook, or even give a controversial opinion. When you write about what you know best, you’ll find it much easier to fill a page or three.

2. Know Your Audience

Once you’ve picked your topic, you need to know who you’re talking to. If you’re posting sales copy on your website, writing a business blog, or guest blogging for someone else;  you need to write in a way that appeals to them.

For copy on your own site, you should know your customers, audience, and clients. You’ll know what matters to them and what they’re interested in. With this in mind, tailor your copy to appeal to this niche. If you’re guest blogging, read through some of the comments left by their readers to see what makes them tick.

3. Rework, Rewrite

One of the things that sets copywriters apart from wannabe-journalists is the ability to consistently create unique content. When you don’t really know what to write, it can be difficult to keep on top of your blog. But it really is easier than it seems.

Reworking your old content is a great way to come up with some new ideas. Turn old ‘How To’ posts into an infographic, make a video into a podcast, or turn your images into a slideshow. All of these require no copywriting at all, but refresh your ideas.

You can also return to old posts and do a follow up; if something in the industry has changed, if you’ve learned something new, or have something else to add. Follow up your ‘5 Ways to…’ post with a ‘5 MORE Ways too…’. This will be beneficial to both your readership, and your copywriting experience.

4. Quality vs. Quantity

This is a debate even seasoned copywriters’ face from time to time. But keeping the mantra of “content is King” in mind, it is always advisable to keep the quality of your posts at the heart of your writing. However, the two do go hand in hand.

A quality post cannot be completed in 200 words. To fully make your point in great detail, always aim for 500 words minimum. This way you can strike the perfect balance. As long as you find a writing style that works for you, you’ll be fine.

5. Proofreading

No matter how brilliant, compelling, and ground-breaking your article – poor spelling and grammar can demean everything you say. You want to appear as the authority on your niche, but by spelling things incorrectly, you look like a novice.

Sure, small errors are to be expected, but make sure you always proofread before publishing. Read your article through when it’s completed, print a copy out to read again, and ask someone else to read it too. If you’re publishing the piece yourself you can always fix any errors later, but you should always proof your articles.

By following these five steps, and with a little practice, it is possible to fake it like a pro – and write winning web copy every time. The more you write, the easier it will become to write in the future. As long as you have something to say, you should be writing about it.

This post has been written by Clare Evans from Bird & Co Equine. The company specializes in online marketing, and web and graphic design.

Ip weekly wrap up

Weekly Wrap Up: July 6

Here’s your 4th of July week wrap up!

1. 27 Lead Generation Ideas for the B2B  Marketer

A phenomonal post on 27 ways to get leads for a B2B marketer. What makes it better is that you can sort it by outbound, inbound, and time.

2. Blogging Mistakes Most Corporate Bloggers Still Make

Please don’t make these mistakes…

3. Guaranteed Number 1 Rankings in a Week – An Infospamic

Exactly who you don’t want to outsource your inbound marketing to.

4. Local SEO with Google+

A good post on Google’s switch from Google Places to Google+ Page.

5. Define and Align: A Manageable Content and Social Media Marketing Process

Another must read from SEOmoz.

6. Why Women are Overtaking Men on Social Media [Infographic]

Interesting statistics on the gender use of social media.