Tag

blogging Archives - STRYDE

8 Tips To Help You Write A Dang Good Headline

By | Blogging, Content Marketing | No Comments

In case you’ve heard otherwise, let me set the record straight for you. The most important part of your content piece isn’t the body of text you spend hours on but your headline. Yes, the part you spend the lesser amount of time on that’s average length is about 5-10 words long.

Why are headlines so crucial in content writing? Because it’s the first, and sometimes the only, thing someone reads. It’s also the first impression you make with your prospective readers. So without a catchy title that screams, “HEY! Look at how interesting and useful I am!” and compels an easily-distracted-by-the-million-options-online browser to click-through and become a reader, the fact that you wrote an amazing and informative blog post doesn’t even matter.

On average, around 80 percent actually read your headline, and then it drops drastically to about 20 percent who go on to read the rest. Depressed or annoyed by this statistic? Maybe a little of both? Because it sure made me as a writer sad and peeved when I first heard that. But it also made me realize that we as content marketers need to understand the utter importance of headlines and that we should spend more time writing the most-attention grabbing ones we can!

The purpose of a compelling piece is to get the next sentence read, and then the next, and the next, and so on until your readers make it all the way to the end where your call to action is. But it all starts with the headline, and if yours isn’t extraordinary, expect only 20 percent or maybe less to actually read through your entire piece.

Not good enough for you? Perfect. Me either. Here are 8 ways to ensure your content piece gets read from the headline all the way down to the call to action!

1. Use a working title. Before you begin writing you first need a topic. But you need more than a general topic because that topic could pan out a hundred different ways and you could go off on just as many tangents in one post. If you have a topic and then create a working title, like “content marketing” (topic) and “Tools Needed For Content Marketing Success” (working title), you get something specific that helps guide you in your creation of one blog post free of several off-topic tangents.

2. Write a classic how-to. How-to posts will always be around. Want to know why? Because people will always want solutions to their problems. Every single day people go online to search for how to tie a tie, how to fix this, how to build that, etc. It’s human nature to like learning new things or learning how to better do things we already know how to do, and that’s not going to change any time soon.

How-tos from eHow

Screenshot taken from eHow.com

3. Ask a simple question. A great way to get a reader interested as soon as they see your headline is with a question. Questions get the wheels turning in people’s heads while also appealing to their emotions. When they’re curious and start feeling emotionally attached, they have to know the answer to the question asked. And the only way to get the answer from your headline is to read your post.

4. Think numbers. Numbers catch reader’s eyes (it helped me get you reading my post). And I’ve learned the odder the number the better. When people see a number, they know a list is coming and know exactly what they’re getting from your post. Lists are good. Most people can’t get enough of list posts.

Number headlines from Buzzfeed

Screenshot taken from Buzzfeed

5. Mix in keywords with power words. Using keywords in your headline is very helpful in getting your post ranked higher on Google, which every content marketer would like. So write for your readers, but still keep Google in mind. Also, mix in a power word or a couple. Writers were put on this earth to pass along information to others and then get them to feel a strong emotion about said information. And there’s no better way to move them than with power words, i.e. caution, fooled and hazardous.

6. Don’t shy away from controversy. Some people steer clear of any type of controversy, but writers should embrace it. Controversial blog posts always provoke discussion and debate in your comments section or maybe even on one of your social network sites. Comments, whether negative or positive, are engagement with you, your post and your site, which you should welcome and be grateful for. So don’t be afraid to throw a bold, controversial statement in your headline because readers will click to read more and to share their two cents with you and other readers on the topic.

Controversial headline

Screenshot taken from nytimes.com

7. Convey usefulness and urgency. A useful headline conveys a benefit to the reader and gives them a reason to read your blog post. If they don’t see the benefit they’ll get from reading your post from your headline, your post isn’t getting read. Another good thing to convey is urgency. You can’t express a sense of urgency in every headline, but when possible you should because it gets readers thinking they’re going to miss out on something if they don’t read what you have to say.

8. Go back and rewrite it. After writing your headline and writing and proofreading the body of your piece, don’t think your job is done. Go back to your headline and start rewriting it. See if you can shorten it or tweak it a little until it fits perfectly with what you just wrote. Remember this short thing that takes only a few seconds to read is extremely crucial to your blog post being read so spending some extra time editing it is totally worth it.

So there you have it. Eight (hopefully helpful) ways to help you craft the unique, attention-grabbing headline that gets you the clicks, traffic and engagement you want. If you have any comments or other tips you think are beneficial to content marketers and writers, please feel free to share them below!

Facebook Video Ads Mean One Thing: Get Your Audience To Your Blog Now

By | Social Media | One Comment

If Facebook wasn’t annoying enough with sponsored posts, invasive ads, and a confusing Edgerank that doesn’t let your message get to your fans, then it might be annoying now. Facebook plans to sell TV-style commercials on its site for as much as $2.5 million a day, according to Bloomberg.

So if that really happens, you might be forced to watch advertisements before you continue seeing what some of your friends are eating for lunch. This just adds to the low satisfaction Facebook users have with the social site compared to Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

Why this is bad for social media marketers

If people even become more dissatisfied with Facebook, they’ll quit it at some level. If they quit Facebook, or even if they don’t check it as much, they will see less and less of you. If you’ve built a large Facebook following, you could potentially lose a significant portion of that audience.

And this could really happen over night. If you don’t think so, consider MySpace, Digg, RSS feeds, etc. Even competing social media sites, like Instagram and Pinterest have stolen Facebook users’ time. People are spending less time on Facebook when they are also going to these other sites.

When you depend solely on third-party platforms to interact and build an audience, you are at their mercy. You want to do everything to protect and keep your audience and followers, and you can never depend on someone else to do that for you.

Build a blog. Keep your audience

To keep your audience, build your blog, get more subscribers and build an email list.

This is the only way to keep your online audience engaged with your brand for the long term. If you depend on a social media site, eventually you’ll lose them.

“Facebook is awesome and all, but you’re beholden to the powers that be at Facebook, and your content is only seen by your fans some of the time (EdgeRank). With the blog you own the real estate. 100% of visitors to your blog will see your content. You control the entire experience. You can (should) share your blog content on FB, twitter, etc, but the blog is where it all starts,” said Dave Bascom, Fit CEO.

Aside from keeping your audience, a blog is a much better place to engage your audience anyway. They aren’t distracted by everything else going on in the social media world. You have call to actions within one click, and can provide customers and potential customers a unique experience that can build your business.

7 Ways to Use Content Marketing for Lead Nurturing

By | Blog | No Comments

When people think of Content Marketing, they often immediately think of blogs, social media, viral videos, and other content that gains awareness.

But that’s only one part of the equation.

If you want shares, likes, Stumbles, Pins, Reddit views, etc., your content strategy is going to be very different than if you want to keep leads engaged and interested in your brand. Each stage of that sales-funnel journey needs a specific type of content.

 

For this purpose, I’ll break it up into 3 areas:

Awareness:

      Content that drives people to your site, and lets them know you exist.

Evaluation: Leads that have subscribed to your blog or email list. They might be aware your product or service could fulfill their need, they might be determining whether you are a good fit. Or, they just like your content and are not interested in your product, yet.

Purchase: Leads that have become customers, and have the potential to become customers again

Most content created, and most that is talked about on social media blogs, is focused on the awareness portion, those at the top of the sales funnel. To make your content work, you need to put just as much focus into developing content for those deeper in the funnel. First step:

Find holes by mapping customer journey

There could be many different ways your leads become customers. As you map it out, however, you’ll find similar patterns and the ideal ways a visitor moves along that path. Here’s a hypothetical situation from a visitor who first comes to your site through your blog:

    Visitor lands on a company blog post and downloads a free eBook >>> Clicks through to site from eBook campaign offer and navigates to Product/Service pages >>> Clicks on a case study, loves it >>> Clicks on a call to action for a free trial of your service >>> After the free trial, receives another nurture email with a coupon, and then becomes a customer.

As you map out these conversion pathways, you’ll notice holes where you should have particular pieces of content, touch points or calls-to-action. Once you know where those holes are, you can start planning content for mid-funnel leads. Here are a few ideas:

7 Content marketing ideas for mid-funnel Leads

The first thing to remember is to continue to give these leads value — content that’s as closely related to what caused them to give you their email in the first place. At the same time, offer something that conveys your expertise, instills trust in you, that helps them in their specific problem.

Leads that are still in the nurturing stage typically need more information before they’re ready to convert. The best lead nurturing will come from two things: your thought leadership, which will build trust in you and what you’re selling, and free resources.

1. Free-Tips Email Content

The first type of content you should have? An email or newsletter that is aimed at truly solving customers problems with free education, tips and resources. This could include a newsletter that includes your blog posts, other relevant third-party content, and perhaps a case study, or a feature of your product.

A good nurturing email will have significantly better open rates than typical email blasts:

 

  • 50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy
  • Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate of standalone email blasts
  • 25-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first.

 

 

Sources: Gleanster Research, SilverPop/DemandGen Report & InsideSales.com

2. Some Promotional Email Content

If someone gives you their email, they expect to be sold to.

Resist the temptation to do it often.

First, delight them by giving them even more valuable and resourceful free content. If you’re going to go promotional, try to keep it as educational or as helpful as possible. A couple weeks ago, I received the best marketing email I’ve ever had. I started following his Facebook page and ended up signing up for his newsletter to get more fitness tips. The email was just one simple sentence:

Hi Dan, are you interested in building 10-20 lb’s of muscle?

Alex

I responded, “Yes.” In a couple minutes I received an email with a pitch to an exercise program.

One email solved a couple problems: He was able to answer whether I was a qualified lead, and I knew whether or not he was there to solve my problem. At the same time, I felt like he connected with me. This went from a social follower to having him talk to me personally on email. It’s the kind of connection you want with your customers.

3. Automated emails

Although it can be argued “Automated Email” isn’t a piece of content. I think it is. Acting quickly ensures the lead gets a response quickly and says something about your organization. Content is more than just words written on a page. Plus, 25-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. Automated emails help to pre-qualify people in early stage and keeps you top of mind. Nurtured leads also have a 23% shorter sales cycle.

4. Product-based Webinars/Blogs/Videos/Articles/Podcasts/Social Media Updates

Yep, it’s basically the same thing as content for awareness, with just a slight twist.

Let’s pretend for a minute you sell garden tools. To create awareness, you might have written a blog post like “How to Dig the Perfect Hole for Your Garden Plants.” Now that you have an email list, you might send an email with, “7 Ways to Use Our Awesome Square-Headed Shovel to Dig Perfect Holes For Plants.”

The difference is in helping people solve their problems by using your product or service. This not only helps convert mid-funnel leads, but can also help former customers return. As the saying goes, it’s much less expensive to retain customers than to get new ones.

5. How-to case studies and testimonials

Trust and confidence in your abilities is perhaps the biggest trait that will move mid-level leads to become customers. This is not new. Case studies with testimonials have long been powerful tools. But to make them better, tweak them a bit so they can also be a resource with solid tips. Back to the gardening example, it could be something like, “How Zach Used The Awesome Square-Headed Shovel to Dig Terrific Holes.” Then tell Zach’s story.

6. Data Sheets

Few things convince people these days more than hard numbers and facts. Customers are getting smarter an don’t respond as well to generic ad copy. They want numbers to back up your claims. Mine data within your industry and your business, then share that info with your customers where it’s relevant. Avoid data dump for data sake by finding how those numbers tell a story or solve problems. Look for patterns in that data, and think of how those numbers can be a resource. This can also give you a lot of ammo for infographics and pitching media.

7. FAQs

I’m not talking about the typical FAQ pages you see on people’s websites. I’m talking about real questions your customers are asking everyday about your business and your industry. Turn each one of those into blog posts. People are typing those same questions into search engines every day to find the answer. Even tackle the tough questions you don’t want to face — like the problems with your products or services. This is all about being transparent, and you may think it’s counter-productive, but it’s a big, big deal. Go here to see how one guy did this with his swimming pool company and made more than $500,000 just from the leads it produced.

Your turn

What other content have you used that has helped you nurture leads?

The Ultimate List of Blogging Tools

By | Blogging | No Comments

blogging ideas and tools

Today, we are going to continue our series on “list of tools” focusing specifically on tools to help you become a better blogger. As most marketers know, adding the very best content to your website via blog posts is a fantastic way to improve crawl rate and crawl depth (through internal links) as well as attract natural links and social shares. In this post, I want to hit on four areas of blogging, idea generation, content research, content creation, and content promotion. Let’s jump in!

Idea Generation

The hardest part of blogging is coming up with topics to write about on a regular basis.

Twitter Search – Twitter search is a fantastic tool to help you see what people are talking about on twitter and what kinds of topics are trending.

Google+ Search – Same thing as Twitter search, except on Google+.

Evernote – Evernote is a free app that you can jot down notes whenever you have an idea for a blog post. I like to use the voice to text feature and brainstorm on my commutes.

Xmind – Xmind is by far my favorite mind mapping software. Mind maps can help you easily generate dozens ideas for your blog posts from a single topic. I wrote a post about this over on Marketing Pilgrim you might want to take a look at.

Google Trends – Google trends allows you to compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and other Google properties.

Pulse – Pulse is an app that allows you to pull in feeds from your favorite blogs and news publications. This is particularly helpful to see what your competitors are writing about on a regular basis and can help give you ideas on what to write about as well.

Content Research

Once you come up with your topics, now you need to do your research and find content to support or flesh out your idea.

Qrait – Qrait allows you to collect online media about a single topic in a neat, clean interface and then allows you to share or embed in your blog.

Creative Commons – Flickr creative commons allows you to find images that are relevant to your topic and post them without paying a fee.

Curate.us – Curate.us allows you to put together visually compelling clips and quotes of web content that are easily embedded in blog posts, email, forums and websites.

Yahoo Answers – Yahoo answers is a fantastic place to go for tips from experts in different verticals. It is also a great place to find individuals who might be interested in providing a quote for your content.

Quora – Same idea as Yahoo answers.

Content Creation

After your research is done, its time to write!

WordPress – Many bloggers prefer to write their posts directly in their content management system. Adding content right into WordPress makes it easy to manage your drafts, optimize them (with the Yoast plugin), and get them published.

Dragon Dictate – Dragon dictate is one of the best speech to text programs ever! It is accurate and makes it far easier for people who hate to type, write fantastic posts.

Content Promotion

After you click publish, you are not done! You need to get more eyeballs on your content.

Digg Digg – The first piece of the puzzle when promoting your content is making sure others can easily share it. Digg Digg, a WordPress plugin does just that. It is a floating social sharing bar that is front and center whenever someone wants to share your post.

Viral Content Buzz – Viral Content Buzz is a community of individuals who are looking for content to share online. When you share someones content, you earn points and then you can use those points to get your content shared. It’s pretty awesome!

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery -Paid stumbles are a great way to get the ball rolling for your awesome content. Just add $5 and you will start to get targeted traffic to your post in no time. If it is a really good post, you will start to earn free stumbles and it can go viral from there.

Repost.us – At repost, your content can be instantly syndicated to other publishers, bloggers or websites with a few clicks and no prior business relationship.

So there you have it! Did I missing anything? If you have other blogging tools that you use and love, please feel free to share in the comments below.