Entries from December 2010 ↓

Article Marketing – You Get What You Pay For

article marketing

Article marketing remains one of the most effective ways of boosting your search engine presence. Not only do you begin to ‘own more of the web’ you also generate those oh so important back links to your website.

But it is only effective if you produce quality content that:

  • Is well written
  • Addresses the needs of your readers
  • Gives value

Many companies are more hung up on quantity rather than quality. They’d rather pay a few pounds per article from writers (who are frequently based abroad and for whom English is not their first language) who churn out dozens of articles, than pay a decent fee and hire a professional copywriter.

It’s not a numbers game

Yes you need a lot of articles to build links. But submitting quality articles that are well written over a period of time is far more effective than bulk submitting sub-standard ones.

Many companies out there do value good quality writing (and are prepared to pay for it) but too many don’t.

Putting a good article together isn’t about scanning the internet and cutting and pasting bits from other articles.

It’s about taking time to discover:

  • What topic is to be discussed
  • The focus of the discussion
  • Who your audience is
  • What they are looking for
  • What tone should be used
  • What do you want to achieve with the article

It’s a pretty safe bet that writers willing to create your articles for a couple of quid a throw won’t ask any of that.

It’s your neck on the line

You might think that it’s only article marketing so it doesn’t matter what you submit.

Wrong. It matters a lot.

If you are putting your name to it, it’s your reputation on the line. You are using these articles as a way of establishing yourself as an expert in your field. If you submit poor quality articles you’ll come across as a cowboy and not someone people want to deal with.

Articles are not just about link building—people do read them—can you really afford to be that careless with your brand?

SEO nightmare

You will need an element of SEO within your articles so they are found by your target audience.

But cheap articles often lead to shoddy SEO resulting in complete nonsense that’s unreadable. Many of the cheap outlets will just stuff your article with your keyword. The result is gibberish.

A professional copywriter understands SEO and knows how to craft your article so it is search engine friendly and reader friendly. In fact, done well, you’d be hard pushed to spot the keywords.

You get what you pay for

As with all things in life, you get what you pay for.

If you want high quantity you’ll get poor quality.

But if you are more interested in your reputation, traffic and quality you’ll pay more but the end result will be far superior.

Every company wants to get the most out of its marketing budget, it’s only natural. But investing in quality copywriting will pay dividends in the long run—to your bottom line and your reputation.

Get Your Blogging Noticed

get your blogs noticed

The purpose behind blogging is to create a readership, give value to those readers and position yourself as an expert in your particular field.

But if you have excellent content, if your blogging package isn’t right your posts won’t get read.

Many people will write hundreds of blogs, one or two of which might go down a storm and generate a lot of interest. But the rest fall by the wayside. Yet there are people out there who score time after time after time.

So how do they do that?

What makes their posts so readable?

Well, it all comes down to how you package your blog posts.

Where’s your focus

When writing about a personal interest, many people write in the first person – “I think the only way to generate great quality traffic to my site is through professional SEO copywriting”.

So what?

But if you change your focus to the second person and actually address your reader directly – “Your website needs traffic to feed your sales. You can either pay through the nose with PPC or you can make the smart move and invest in professional SEO copywriting.”

Just a small change—going from ‘I’ to ‘you’—instantly makes your post more relevant to the reader.

Can I help?

Most people read blogs because they’re searching for a solution to a problem. So make sure your post doesn’t disappoint. No matter what you’re writing about, make sure you relate your content to a common problem that you then solve.

Whether you are talking about reducing a marketing budget, how to whiten your clothes first time every time, or how to reduce wrinkles, providing a solution is vital if you want your post to resonate with your reader.

Don’t over stuff

Just like you would never try to sell multiple products with one sales letter, keep your blog post to one idea.

If you try to incorporate several ideas your post will lose its focus and leave the reader somewhat bewildered.

One idea covered in detail with a great solution will pull in readers.

Easy on the eye

Writing a winning blog post is one thing, but if it doesn’t look good people aren’t going to bother reading it.

Keep your paragraphs short so the page doesn’t look ‘stuffed’ with text. Use headings and sub headings to break things up and show your reader what you’re covering within your post.

Also get a few well chosen images in there too.

Write for your reader not for you

The art to achieving a good and regular readership is to write about things your audience cares about.

Research is vital if you are going to provide your readers with what they want. Just because you find a particular subject really interesting doesn’t mean your audience will.

It’s supply and demand; give them what they want.

Be natural

Many people think if they are writing about a subject in a blog they have to be very business-like and stiff.

Think again.

The best blogs are those written in a natural, conversation style that resonates with the reader.

As you write, imagine yourself sat in your local coffee shop with your best mate. Think about how you would speak to them and then replicate that style within your blog post.

Reading your blog should be like slipping on your favourite slippers. Your reader should get that warm and fuzzy feeling—returning to you blog will be like meeting up with an old friend again.

And that really is all there is to it. Of course, you’ll also need to come up with some great ideas.

At the end of the day write naturally, write to your reader and make it attractive on the eye.

A Networking Experience

networking After my last post about networking, I thought it was about time I ‘got out there’ again and met some local business people.

So off I went, out into a snow covered Suffolk to a local event – the main attraction being the fact it was billed as a ‘coffee morning’ rather than a formal networking event. I duly arrived, grabbed a coffee and then looked round the room.

I soon met up with a young lady who’d just started a new business. We got chatting and discovered that my old house was fairly close to where she lives now. We both had kids and talked about schools and the great fun we have as working mums. As we chatted I discovered she was facing various hurdles and dilemmas I’d already crossed when I started out so I was glad to be able to provide her with loads of tips and  information.

After a while we decided that we really ought to ‘work  the room’ – I hate that phrase, it sounds so calculating.

Across the room I spotted someone I’d not met before so I went over to say hello.

Did they ask about me, what I did, did I have a family?

Oh no, after my initial ‘Hello, isn’t the weather bad?’ (I’m so British) they immediately launched into their sales pitch.

I stood agog as they dove straight in telling me what they did, how long they’d been in business, how they could help my business (even though they hadn’t bothered to ask what I did)… this went on and on and on.

Eek – this is the reason I don’t like going to networking events. And to top it all, after exchanging business cards I seem to have ended up on their mailing list. As far as I’m aware, the acceptance of a business card doesn’t give an implicit consent to being added to a mailing list.

How to be an effective networker

In my book, to be an effective networker you should:

  • Greet with a smile and a warm hand shake
  • Make small talk
  • Ask about the other person, don’t launch into a full-on sales pitch
  • Give useful information if you can that might be helpful
  • Listen and take an interest in what they have to say
  • Introduce them to other people you know if you think  they may be able to help each other
  • Keep and maintain eye contact

But whatever you do, don’t:

  • Launch into your sales pitch
  • Dominate the conversation
  • Surreptitiously look around the room for someone more interesting to talk to
  • Thrust your card at the other person
  • Take the acceptance of your card as a right to add the person to your mailing list

I know men and women network very differently but taking the time to greet and get to know someone is common courtesy.

I like to meet people and find out about them. To me that is far more important than walking up to someone and saying:

“Hello, I’m Sally. I’m a freelance copywriter who can make a real difference to your business…”

Make a joke to break the ice and get to know the person behind the business.

Yes we are all time-limited these days but let’s not forsake the art of great conversation just to make a few more pounds. Talking, engaging and enjoying the company of others is not only more appealing but it will also ensure you are remembered.

So next time you’re at a networking event be more than just your business card.

How to Boost Your Twitter Following

twitter It’s been a while since I wrote anything about Twitter so I’m about to put that right.

Are you part of the Twitterati?

Do you regularly update your followers with what you’re up to?

Whether you are a private Tweeter or a business user, it has revolutionised how you communicate with people. But for Twitter to work effectively you need followers.

I’m sure you’ve seen the many websites out there that promise to show you (for a small fee) how to generate tens of thousands of followers quickly. Well if your ego is the size of a small country and that’s how you want to use Twitter, good luck to you.

Personally I have built my following organically. I follow all sorts of different people from fellow copywriters to clients, celebrities and anyone else I think looks interesting. It’s been a great source of fun and also a great resource when I’ve been need of help (certainly with various IT issues). Numbers are not the be all and end all and quality is certainly  more important to me than quantity.

So how can you grow your Twitter following?

Well one of my favourite blogs, socialexaminer.com, recently published a post showing 7 ways to grow your following. And none of them involve those websites I mentioned earlier.

By concentrating on areas such as:

  • Existing contacts
  • Utilising your blog
  • Giving away freebies
  • Engaging in conversation
  • Integrating your social networks
  • Adding your Twitter name to your email signature

You can grow your following simply and easily.

So why not take a look at Socialexaminer’s 7 Twitter Strategies for Growing a Great Following and make the most of your Twitter experience.

Why not take a look.

What’s Your Email Marketing Strategy?

email marketing strategy

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to run an email marketing strategy. Every customer you have will become part of your campaign (or at least those that opt in) so you can always keep in touch with them to maximise your sales opportunities.

Great—but have you worked out how your strategy is going to work, what you’ll offer them and how you’ll present your information?

If your strategy is to work you can’t just sent out emails willy nilly without any thought. Equally, sending one out initially and then nothing for months also won’t work.

The idea behind email marketing isn’t just to sell things, it’s also there to help you build and enhance your customer relationships.

Sending emails at regular intervals will certainly help keep your clients interested in your services. Great information interspersed with offers will give a bit of variety. If your emails are constantly trying to sell your customers are likely to get a bit fed up so make sure you alternate them.

But other than that there are a few other things you can do with your email strategy to help build your relationships. Below are five suggestions that will add value and boost the effectiveness of your email campaigns.

1. Welcome, welcome

When someone first signs up for your emails make sure you send out a welcome email. Thank them for subscribing and give them some free and valuable information. This email is also a good opportunity to give them an outline of what they can expect to receive from you—email frequency, offers, information, competitions etc.

It’s also a great opportunity to start selling—incorporate a promotional offer as a thank you for signing up.

2. High days and holidays

There are no end of holidays throughout the year—Christmas, Easter, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day etc. All present an ideal sales opportunity so make sure you have your offers ready and email in plenty of time.

3. Customer birthdays

Assuming you have a note of each customer’s birthday, you have yet another opportunity to add value to your relationship by offering them a special offer on their special day. Use subject lines such as Happy Birthday from Briar Copywriting, Your special birthday bonus etc.

4. Is everything OK?

Every once in a while it’s a good idea to send out a ‘maintenance’ email. You can ask for feedback about your service, whether they still want your emails etc. This will help you weed out ‘dead’ emails to ensure you are mailing to an active database and therefore maximising your ROI.

5. Sorry

Although this is last on the list it is possibly one of the most important emails you can send. No matter how careful you are something at sometime is likely to go wrong. But if dealt with quickly and efficiently, you could turn a negative experience into a positive one.

Make sure you send out an apology email. Explain what went wrong, if you can (depending on its seriousness) make it a bit light hearted and give an offer to say sorry.

Handled well, your email marketing strategy will boost your sales. Whether you write them in-house or utilise the services of a professional copywriter, the words within those emails will cement and enhance relationships and encourage your customers to open their wallets.