Category: Inbound Marketing

Information about inbound marketing

10 Tips for Writing Snappy Headlines

snappy headlines

The goal for any headline is to get people to read the next line, and then the next, and then hopefully the whole post. That conversion between the headline and the post is where you’ll find success in attracting readers.

According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy only, and the remaining two will read the full blog or article.

How do you attract Googlers to your blog with just your headlines? Here’s 10 tips and tools on how to convert headline skimmers into blog readers.

1. Keep it short and specific.

Make sure your headline is your central message. That’s how a journalist convinces you to read their article in the newspaper. A short headline will tell readers what the article or blog is about, and entice them to read more.

If you wrote your headline to be “2015 is the best year yet,” readers are going to skip it because its not specific. Because that headline is so general, they’ll move on, unless you write something like, “2015 is the best year for beagles.”

That’s specific and short.

2. Headline Formulas

If you’re still unsure about writing headlines, don’t worry, there are tools to help.

Buffer compiled a list of formulas for Tweets, blogs, articles, emails and more. This way you can have a blueprint on the best headlines in order to create your own.

According to a Kissmetrics study, readers will absorb the first three words and the last three words of a headline. So basically a six-word headline is ideal, right? I don’t know about you, but I don’t write six-word headlines very often. (you did on this post!)

Headline formulas are great to use as a guideline, but make sure they don’t make you sound robotic. Robots are the worst.

3. Emotional Headline Analyzer

Magnolia Media Network recommends using the Emotional Headline Analyzer. Type in a headline and it will determine if it will reach your customers in a deep emotional way.

The headline on this blog scored a measly 16.67%. Welp, back to the drawing board.

4. Avoid brag words.

Don’t put words like awesome, or magnificent in your headline. It will make it seem more like a sales pitch, and get ignored. That’s definitely not what you want.

5. Journalist writing imperatives.

Headlines:
-Must be correct (in fact and implication)
-Must connect to ordinary readers (be easily understood)
-Must attract attention (using interesting, active words)
-Must set (or match) the tone of the article

In the Columbia University School of Journalism, they give students this guideline and stress that headlines are the entry point for readers.

By using the aforementioned guideline, you’ll provide your readers with accurate headlines that convey the exact information you want them to have.

6. Think about media types.

You’ll have different character lengths depending on the media in which the post is shared. For example email subject lines that perform well are usually between 28-39 characters – that’s if you’re emailing your blog out to readers.

The Buffer Social blog researched the ideal character length of tweets, Google+ posts, Facebook posts, and a variety of other mediums. This way you’ll know what’s most effective to engage readers.

7. Use interesting data.

This might seem to contradict six, but if you have interesting data to share, use that.

Example: Canada claims moose as a pet.

That headline is a little boring, and will easily be glossed over. Try this one instead:

Example: 2,578 moose have been domesticated in Canada.

Doesn’t that make you want to know more? Both of those headlines are false, so don’t make a run for Canada to get your very own moose.

8. Does it work out of context?

Those that encounter your headline, might not have any idea what your organization does. So make sure that the headline you wrote doesn’t refer to acronyms, or language someone outside of your industry won’t know.

9. Consider word choice.

The more complex a headline, the higher the difficulty readers will have trying to discern it. They’ll go read something else. Forget using those $10 words. Do they really make your headline better? No, actually they probably confuse your readers.

If your reader can’t determine what the blog post is about just through the headline, you should probably consider a rewrite.

10. Make it useful.

Make sure your headline conveys the benefit of your blog or article. You want your blog post to add value to the reader. So when writing a headline think of this phrase in the shoes of your reader: What’s in it for me?

The other way to think about this is: WIIFY. What’s in it for you? This is an acronym one of my professors instilled in us in my PR and journalism courses. These headlines will convert skimmers into readers because there’s a benefit in the blog that will add value to what the reader wants to know.

Headlines aren’t easy to write. They need to convey a vast amount of information in very little. And that’s not a simple task, even for the best copywriters. Its okay to create multiple versions of a headline before you find the winner. Upworthy writes upwards of 25 different headlines until they can narrow it down based on many of these tips.




Inbound Marketing Checklist



Web Pages With Purpose: How to Create Stellar Non-Profit Landing Pages

non-profit landing pages

With the online tools available today, non-profits have a lot at their fingertips that can help them create the perfect campaign. Using email marketing, social media, and blog content, there are so many ways to get your message out there and to encourage your audience to act.

Landing pages are an integral piece of every online campaign. The landing page is where the magic happens. It’s where a visitor becomes a contact, and/or a contact becomes a donor. Here are some ways to make sure your non-profit landing pages are successful every time.

1. Focus on one main goal

A landing page should be free from anything distracting the user from the one main goal. Get rid of your menu items or any links that could lead them astray.

2. Make an impact

Have a catchy headline and compelling images that make the user want to stick around. Make sure they know where they are, but don’t be afraid to try something new and different.

3. Have everything in one place

The story, information about where the money will go, and the call to action should all be on the page so the user doesn’t have to jump around at all during their journey. If you can collect payment on the same page, that’s great. But if you have to go to an external secure page, make sure it’s as simple as possible.

4. Take out anything unnecessary

Keep all the copy short and sweet. Use bullet points or small paragraphs. Visitors on average will read 20% of the copy on any giving web page, so make yours easy to skim. When revising your copy, continue to ask yourself, “Does this really need to be here?”

5. Have a clear call to action

Your call to action should tell your user what to do next. Don’t ever assume they know the next step. Use a color that stands out and make the copy time-based.

6. Test your messaging

Try some A/B testing for your copy and your images. This kind of testing can go a long way in understanding your target personas going forward.





25 Tactics Great Websites Use




Marketing Skills and Tools to Help You Pull off Doing it Yourself

Marketing Skills

If you own a small business that doesn’t have the budget to outsource your marketing or hire someone to do it, you have to do it yourself. No questions asked. You won’t survive without it. Not having a marketing budget is not an excuse for not doing any marketing.

You’re going to have to put a good amount of effort in if you’re competing with companies that have marketing teams. And if you’re competing with companies that do it themselves just like you, well these marketing skills will help you stand out from the crowd.

Basic HTML

Ok, don’t freak out. Code is not as hard as you think it is. Everyone can learn to code, if they put some time in. Even if you are using a Content Management System like WordPress, there are times when you need to take a look at the code and understand what you’re looking at. The theme you’re using might have limitations, or there could simply be a bug you need to fix.

You don’t really need to know how to code a webpage from scratch, but you should be able to pick out a header tag, an image, and a link when you look in the code view of your site. Other things that are helpful would be knowing how to add paragraphs and breaks so you can make sure your content is formatted in a way that’s easy to read. As I am posting this blog, I’m writing everything in the code view of my WordPress post to ensure that everything comes out exactly the way I want it to. And I am not a programmer.

There are some great resources such as w3 schools , and Codecademy for beginners and advanced coders.

An understanding of SEO

Search Engine Optimization is an absolute necessity in this day and age. There is no such thing as an offline business any more. Just because you don’t get business from your website right now doesn’t mean people aren’t looking for your services on the web. They are. Depending on how savvy your competition is, a little SEO knowledge can go a long way. Moz has a fantastic eBook called The Beginner’s Guide to SEO that you should check out. If you’re using WordPress, there are a few SEO plugins that can help you get started in practicing SEO. The one we recommend most is called Yoast.

Graphic Design Knowledge

You don’t have to be an artist, but if you are creating marketing pieces and you don’t have the budget to hire a designer, an understanding of how graphic design works will take you far. When it comes to printing you should understand that images should have enough DPI so they don’t come out fuzzy. Also, knowing the difference between a vector file and an image file will make your printer love you. Something as simple as sending over the right file type can save you and your printer time and money. Extra brownie points for understanding the difference between a PMS color, CMYK and RGB. (Honestly, if I was your printer I would send you actual brownies for being my favorite client)

When it comes to designing for the web, a key thing to understand would be which file type to use. There are many different types of raster graphics, and some are better in places than others. Also, understand file size and weight so your images don’t take forever to load.

If you are dead set on creating custom graphics yourself, you really should invest in Adobe Creative Cloud. You can purchase the programs you need for a monthly fee instead of paying for the entire software up front. If you want to look professional, it is so worth it.

For for something a little more plug and play, try Canva. You can create everything from a Facebook header photo to a full blown presentation, and it is so easy to use.

Writing Skills

If you’re worried about spelling and grammar, check out grammarly. It’s a free app that corrects your writing, but it’s like your regular spellcheck on steroids.

To better the the voice and tone of your writing, read and write as much as you can. I find, the more you read engaging content, the better writer you become. If you have someone who can give you feedback on your writing before it’s published, that is always helpful.

Psychology

To influence potential customers to buy your product or service, you need to have a basic understanding of consumer behavior. There are so many great books on this subject that can really change your thinking on marketing and even the selling process.

Inbound Marketing 101

Inbound marketing is taking over when it comes to marketing strategy. It’s less about buying the right ad space and more about creating the right content. HubSpot has so many great resources for anyone to dive into this world. They also have a free Inbound Certification that I highly recommend. Getting started on your Inbound Marketing strategy now will keep you ahead of your competition. If they are already doing inbound, then you have some catching up to do.

Marketing is a huge part of building a business, and it takes a lot of time and energy to bring results.

My advice? Read, study and read some more. If there’s one thing I know about small owning a small business, it’s that you have to know a lot of stuff. Download eBooks, read articles, connect with other business owners and learn from them.

The good news is that after you’ve put all the time in, you’ll have an understanding of what it takes to get it done when you are able to delegate these tasks. This will make you a better leader if you’re hiring someone in house, or will help you choose the perfect marketing partner if you’re outsourcing.




25 Tactics Great Websites Use



If You Had to Stop Networking Tomorrow, Would Your Business Survive?

stop networking

In a small business centric area like New Hampshire, face to face networking is a big part of starting a business. There are plenty of opportunities for anyone to get involved, attend events, and join networking groups. When we moved to NH from California and planted our roots for our digital agency, face to face networking gave us the boost we needed.
 
We jumped right in and joined the Chamber and a BNI chapter. We met some amazing folks, made great connections and lasting friendships. We still think of networking as a big part of how we’ve grown, but we found there is a downside.
 
Face to face networking is hard to scale and hard to predict. To scale your referrals you need to spend more time networking, or hire more people to help you network–and you still won’t know what kind of results you’ll get. It’s hard to predict what kind of opportunities you’ll get with face to face networking, because it depends on who is in the room. Networking can bring in great results, but if you rely on networking to bring in the bulk of your business, it can be risky.

What would happen if tomorrow you got sick, injured, or simply burnt out and had to stop networking for a while? Would your business survive? Or would those referrals simply stop because your physical presence wasn’t there to receive them?

Earlier this year, I got burnt out from too much networking. Naturally an introvert, it took a lot of energy for me to be out in front of people for hours every week. I had lost my oomph and I needed a change. And it was scary.
 
Thankfully, we had started an inbound marketing strategy for our agency, and had built a marketing funnel through our online presence. With blog posts, calls to action, landing pages, email marketing, and a system to back it all up, we had leads coming in that had found us on their own. I could make changes to our strategy, try different things and put in the effort we needed to keep our sales up, all during normal business hours.

Hitting our Target

With our new strategy we have more control over the types of leads we have coming in. When you network with a group, the referrals you receive are usually the people and businesses that your group members already know. So if you are looking for businesses that are outside of their network, it gets really difficult.

Inbound Marketing Persona Example
Now, we tailor our messages to the types of personas we know will benefit from our services. We focus on the type of persona that we are looking for, and create their buyer’s journey with content. The leads we have coming in through our inbound marketing strategy are people we would have never met through networking, simply because they aren’t within the circles we formerly networked with.

Perfecting our Formula

Traffic, Leads and Sales Funnel
At the start of each month, we take a look at our efforts and the results from the month prior. The three main categories we look at are traffic, leads, and sales. The more we blog, the more traffic we tend to get. As the quality of our content increases, so will the quality of our leads. And the more we improve our inbound sales process, the more sales we close. By looking at solid numbers, we have more control over how we perform.
 
We use to say things like, “Oh, well everyone is on vacation this month so that’s probably why our sales are down.” Now we say, “We need to focus on taking better advantage of our traffic by improving our Calls to Action.” or “Let’s write more blogs this month and see how that changes things.”
 
With our inbound strategy, leads and sales is less of a guessing game, and we know that the amount of effort and thought we put into our strategy will directly correlate to the outcome.

Networking is Still Important

Still Networking
Of course we haven’t given up on networking completely. We still get some of our best leads through our networks, but we no longer rely on it for the majority of our business.
 
We’ve taken control of our marketing funnel and turned it into something scalable, and we’re so happy we did.

 

 




25 Tactics Great Websites Use