Is Your Business Blog Putting Readers to Sleep?

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There is no single correct way to create a business blog; however there are definitely less effective methods which are used frequently by all types of companies.
Business blogs are started by the dozens and it is important to do something which will set yours apart from the crowd and draw the reader in. Solid content will take you a long way, but it is important to spice things up and make sure that readers are enjoying themselves while they spend time on your site.
There are a few things that you can do to make sure that readers will be riveted by your business blog.

Utilize Images

Readers, especially those on the internet, are drawn to visuals more than text. Breaking up informative information with relevant photos or images can help you keep your readers engaged. Variety is one of the best ways to make sure that your business blog is not putting readers to sleep and a carefully placed picture or image will be sure to provide the variety that you are looking for.

Graphs

Graphs are a great way to make large sets of data more easily understandable. Readers are looking for the conclusions of data sets, not the individual details. By including graphical representations of your data set along with commentary regarding the results you will be able to connect with readers better. This will provide more value to your reader and keep them interested in reading the rest of the blog in order to learn the details of your conclusions.

Calls to Action

Engaging content is one of the best ways to keep readers coming back however it does fall into the passive reading category. Ideally your reader will feel as though they are involved in the process of learning from your business blog. By inserting calls to action you will be able to create a certain amount of interaction with the reader which will cause them to invest more in the blog they are reading. Asking for their opinion on a piece or having them participate in a survey can be excellent ways to keep readers engaged.
If you feel as though your business blog may be on the verge of putting your readers to sleep try adding in some of these techniques to make it more interesting.

Increase Brand Awareness

Having an engaging business blog will help increase your brand awareness among your customers and can help build a community around your business. Customer loyalty can be affected by their involvement with your blog as well which can help your company financially in the long run.
The great part about a business blog is that you are regularly creating content for your readers and can implement these changes at any time.
Whether you spend many dollars or few dollars on your business blog, be sure to re-examine your personal budget software in order to make sure necessary financial resources are allocated for your blog. In the end, it can be some of the best money you will ever spend.
By following these simple strategies you will be able to create a robust following for your business blog that will benefit your company overall.

About the Author: Thomas Verdone is an author who covers a wide range of topics, including finance, fitness, personal development, and social media.

Why Are the Social Sites Your Business Chooses Important?

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A key tenet to successful marketing is to put your message where your audience is. When it comes to social media, the rule is the same: Put your message on the sites your audience frequents.
But how do you know which sites your customers spend their time on — and what kind of content is right for each?

Facebook

Boasting more than 1.5 billion users and millions of new signups every day, Facebook is the undisputed leader in terms of sheer number of members.

It also provides several handy tools for businesses, including analytics that let you see who’s visiting and talking about your business, separated by age, gender and other key demographics.

Even better, you have a range of choices for the type of content you post to your Facebook page. Unlike some more limited networks, Facebook makes it easy for you to add photos, video, polls, and other content to boost audience interest and engagement.

This network is best for business to consumer marketing. If you plan to use only one social network to promote your B2C business, Facebook is an excellent choice.

Twitter

Another social media juggernaut, Twitter has grown quickly in the past couple of years thanks to the rise of smartphones.
With its free app, smartphone users can post quick, 140-character messages from anywhere they happen to be.

Twitter provides an excellent way to share your content with a wide audience of people. And with its built-in search tools, you can build your network with a targeted group in mind.

Google Plus

Google+ has been quieter about its growth than other networks, but it’s built up a user base of more than 400 million in its two years of existence.

Owned by search giant Google, this network can give your business a major boost in search engine results. Claiming your Google Authorship will earn you a photo next to your byline in search results, improving click-through rates. And Google’s Joshua Berg has said social signals — such as those from G+ — will become more important in determining search results. These social signals give the search engines a way to filter content by what users really want.

Pinterest

Do you have a product or service that is particularly photogenic (such as fashion, shoes, or food)? Are women your target market?

Then Pinterest might be the right place for your business.

This network charged onto the scene in 2010 and is now the third most popular social media site in the world. Made up of 65% women, the audience on Pinterest is perfect for retail businesses, since it’s highly attuned to commerce and products.

In an infographic by Shopify, the ecommerce platform reported that buyers referred from Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase than those referred by other social media sites — and 70% more likely than those referred by a website.

Shopify also reported that orders from customers referred by Pinterest were double the size of orders from customers referred by Facebook — making Pinterest a serious contender when choosing the sites you build your business presence on.

The social sites you choose for your business will determine the effectiveness of your social marketing strategy.
By studying the demographics of each site’s users, and posting content appropriate to the platform, you may see a major boost to your sales.

About the Author

Freelance blogger Angie Mansfield covers a variety of subjects for small business owners. From business growth to marketing to business reputation, her work will give you tips to keep your business running smoothly.

Using Mobile Websites for Event Promotion

Donna Vieira
Posted on in Inspiration

When you are drawing people to your event, you want them to be able to find out the latest news from wherever they are. These days, people are rarely far from their phones. Mobile websites are the perfect vehicle for event promotion. A few ways to use them to maximize interest:

Integrated Maps

Make it easy for guests to find you by integrating maps and directions into your mobile site. The site’s user-friendly and helpful nature creates a positive relationship before they ever arrive, setting the stage for an exciting event. You can even use custom QR codes that conveniently send people directly to your event map. iFlyMobi makes it easy, even if you have no coding experience.

Mobile-Only Deals

Everyone likes to feel like they have the inside scoop. Offer discounts and perks that are only available through your mobile site. As guests share these deals with their friends, you increase interest in your upcoming event.

A bar, for instance, can offer a drink special that can only be accessed through a special mobile deal. Concert venues can offer automatic ticket upgrades or free promotional items to visitors who show that they’ve connected with the site through their mobile phone.

Live Blogging of Events

Promoting a multi-day event? Build interest and anticipation by updating your blog or RSS feed and delivering it right to your mobile site. Frequent pictures, announcements of new acts and short videos will make everyone wish that they were there.

You can even allow visitors to submit their own event pictures. It is easy to enable social sharing so that your visitors can instantly make their event photos and updates available on their favorite social networks and your mobile site. They’ll love the chance to get involved and you’ll have your own passionate street team at your service.

Mobile gives you the chance to reach out to your audience whenever you want and wherever they are. Use this powerful connection to amp up the excitement for your events and make them a success.

Does Your Business Need An App?

John Foley, Jr.
Posted on in Inspiration

You’ve probably heard the saying “there’s an app for that”, but have you actually considered whether or not your business needs an app? An app can have a lot of advantages, but it also represents a significant investment. So what can an app do for your business? And how do you know if you need one?

Benefits of an App

Having your own business app offers three main benefits for your business:

• More customer engagement – apps have the potential to get your customers engaged with your brand in real time. If the app includes relevant links to your products and services, that can translate to increased turnover.

• Better visibility – even if you have a responsive or mobile site, your customer still needs to use their mobile browser to get to it. An app places you front and center on their phone.

• Promotional possibilities – you can use your app to target coupons and offers to customers based on any number of factors such as their geographical location or recent purchase history.

How to Know if Your Business Needs an App

Apps have a lot of potential, but it’s important to be sure they’re a good fit for you before making the investment. Start by asking yourself three key questions:

• How would an app benefit my customers? Get very specific about this. Would an app help your customers to access your services or information about your business in an even better way than before? Think about how the app could make your customers’ lives easier or better.

• How would an app benefit my business? Could you use it to make information readily available, cutting down on the amount of time spent on customer service? Could you run promotions that stand a good chance of increasing your revenue?

• How do my customers access information? It’s time to break out the metrics and market research. For an app to succeed, you want to know that your customer base regularly uses mobile devices to access sites like yours. If your customer base is particularly skewed towards android devices or the iPhone, focus your app building efforts there.

A carefully chosen and designed app can boost your business and offer more responsive customer engagement. Start by asking the right questions and you’ll soon be able to answer “do I need an app for that?”

Can Your Business Picture Success With Pinterest?

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At the height of Pinterest’s popularity, crafty, photo-crazy Internet users were pinning everything they could focus their camera lenses on.
But, after a couple years in the digital spotlight and with the prevalence of sites like Instagram, Pinterest is losing a little momentum in the popularity department.
Here are just a few reasons why Pinterest is losing some of its faithful business followers now and in the foreseeable future:

Pinterest Perfection is Unattainable

Something gaining more popularity than Pinterest itself are photo sites dedicated to Pinterest-inspired fails. That’s right, the all-things crafty and creative site is a big turn-off for followers who discover Pinterest perfection is flat-out impossible to achieve.
It’s not Pinterest’s fault that most of its featured users are incredibly talented artists, chefs, and clothing designers just to mention a few, but when the general public uses Pinterest photos as inspiration and ultimately fail, they lose interest in the site over time. It’s nobody’s fault, but it kind of makes perfect sense.

Mainstreaming Melancholy

As Pinterest began gaining popularity early on in its online infancy, major brands started paying attention and jumping onboard one after the other. But, the overwhelming presence of those major brands is exactly what’s making followers look elsewhere for inspiration.
Established brands aren’t necessarily bad for sites like Pinterest, but followers that appreciate the site’s DIY arts and crafts mentality see major brands as mainstream. And, this mainstream approach is really beginning to rub the Pinterest faithful the wrong way.

Too Much of a Good Pin

Popularity leads to more users regardless of the type of website, but in the case of Pinterest, new users pinning in droves is flooding the streamline quality of the photo-centric site. This has increased the site’s usage over time, but it’s also turning many pinning all-stars away.
As with anything, quality has cleared a path for quantity and many new Pinterest users are taking advantage of the site’s popularity for personal gain.
This is perfectly acceptable, but not when new users are pinning things that don’t add anything to the site and, in fact, take away from other users who use the site for the right reasons.

Pinning Spam

A recent problem in Pinterest’s short history is the rapid increase of spamming issues on the site.
As stated above, popularity doesn’t just result in traffic, but also an increase in those looking to use the site for personal gain. And, when it comes to Pinterest, spamming is turning into a real problem and drawback for the site’s followers.
Instead of a Pinterest board linking to a legitimate website, more and more users are finding that when they click a photo, it takes them to an oftentimes malicious website. These nasty links sometimes take the form of Pinterest-verified sites and can result in users divulging personal information or acquiring software viruses.

Every website has its ups and downs and although Pinterest is losing steam with followers now, there’s no reason the site will not be able to turn things around.

About the Author

Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including social media, Ultimate Mats, and small business.

Why is Your Google+ Page Not Getting it Done?

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Along with Facebook and Twitter, Google+ is an essential social media network for most businesses.
It is a powerful way to boost your SEO, and its growth is eye-opening – some even forecast it will have an eventual takeover of Facebook for the Google-based social network. While it transitions to the mainstream, it can be comparatively difficult to build a following for in terms of an audience.
As your business page tries to reach more people, there are some tips you can utilize to give your Google+ a boost.

Make Use of Keywords

Google+ is obviously a product of Google, the world’s largest search engine. If you pay attention to keywords throughout your Google+ strategy, you can count on benefits as everything is quickly indexed by the search engine.

Take advantage of this in your page’s description. Google+ allows you to use bullets and links, offering an easy-to-read way to present what your business does in an SEO-friendly way. This area (“Introduction”) is a fantastic place to use keywords that you can link to your business’ website.

You can also do this on a regular basis.

On your posts, make sure you are identifying and using keywords related to your content. On a regular Google search, it can and will pull results from Google+ posts – especially with users that follow or have connections that follow your page.

Taking Google+ to the Next Level

The next area of tips is simple – you have to take Google+ seriously.
Here are a few ideas:
• Is Google+ on your website? There should be an icon along with Facebook, Twitter, and any other social networks.
• Make sure you place social sharing buttons on the blog. This is a great way for people to like, tweet, and +1 your company’s blog posts, building a following in a natural way.
• Spend some time on the social network. Find circles based on your industry and start engaging with users (such as with the Google+ shared circles database from Chris Porter). Then, you can introduce your Google+ at the right time for your business to grow.
• Don’t be afraid to cross-market. Feel free to mention your Google+ page occasionally on Facebook, Twitter, and in a blog post.

You should also consider making Google+ the target for any marketing campaigns.
For instance, why not do a giveaway on Google+ to drive traffic to that social network? This can be a great incentive for your audience to keep up with what you’re doing there – especially if it’s useful and unique.

Of course, you can also utilize paid marketing strategies on Google+.

It can be a strong angle to take to really ramp up activity on the social network quickly, and enjoy the benefits of increased SEO and activity there.

About the Author

Brian Neese is an author that specializes in content marketing, social media, and SEO. He writes about technology, online reputation management services, marketing, and much more.

Is Your Mobile Site Making a Visual Impact?

John Foley, Jr.
Posted on in Inspiration

We live in a constantly connected world – one where internet users (that includes your customers and prospects) regularly spend time online on a mobile device. It’s only smart to make sure your customers are going to love what they see on their smart phones. This isn’t just about responsive web design, important though that is. It’s about offering a visual treat that gives your customers good looking content worth getting their phone or tablet out for.

Is Your Site Looking Good?

Your first stop when it comes to making a visual impact is making sure your site looks good on any size screen. When creating your mobile site, think about:

• Appealing colors that match your brand’s personality

• Relevance of information

• Clear professional quality images

Image Sharing Can Boost Your Image

Making a visual impact is about more than getting your site looking good. With more people accessing social media on mobile than on desktop or laptop PCs, it’s time to consider using social image sharing sites to boost your visual appeal. Sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr offer you an opportunity to create entertaining, relevant content that looks appealing and is easy to browse and share on a mobile device.

Short Snappy Videos Are Mobile Friendly

Twitter’s Vine application and Instagram’s video apps are fast proving themselves as valuable tools for business. As well as being made and uploaded using a mobile phone, the bite-sized videos are shared by mobile users who enjoy the Vine and Instagram communities. Vine gives you six seconds to get your message across, while Instagram gives you fifteen. Plan carefully and you can create a brief but interesting video that is perfect for browsers on the go.

Image and video sharing can give your brand visual impact that is perfect for today’s mobile customers. Take the time to plan attention-grabbing content that is consistent with your brand’s tone and you’ll give your customers reason to keeping looking, no matter how they are browsing.

How Do You Fix Your Company’s Bad Website Reputation?

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The statistics that reflect the performance of your company’s website have begun to paint a somewhat disturbing picture.
While visits to the site are relatively high, it seems that few of those visiting the site spend more than a couple of minutes there, hardly enough time to fully absorb the message you’re trying to deliver.
With online activity playing such a pivotal role in a business’s struggle to succeed, this is not something you can ignore. What should you do?

Give Us Some Reasons

You’ll first need to pin down the reasons your site is turning off users.
It could be a layout that confuses and isn’t user-friendly, or perhaps the site’s design is flat-out ugly and unappealing.
If the complaints you’ve been hearing are not specific in nature, you and your website team will need to conduct a top-to-bottom examination of the site to see if you can pinpoint what’s wrong.
Here are some key areas to consider:

Branding – The primary goal of your website is to acquaint online visitors with your company’s brand and the values that you want that brand to represent. Each part of your website should be directed to this end. In your in-house audit of the website as it now exists, carefully look at the site’s component parts to confirm that each in its own way helps users of the site to better understand the company brand and what it represents.

While the many parts of your website can reflect various aspects of your company’s brand and values, collectively they should convey a message that is easily understood. This is no place for clever representations that may be difficult for most users to interpret.
Evaluate each image and each block of text to ensure that they contribute to the overall message you want to convey. If you run across content, images, or other design elements that are confusing or have no place in the context you’re striving to present, get rid of them.

Visual Appeal – Your website need not be a work of art — although it wouldn’t hurt — but it should be visually appealing so that users enjoy the time they spend seeing all that the site has to offer. Soothing colors and simplicity of design can help to ensure that visitors to the site will like what they see and want to see more.

Ease of Navigation - Take an inventory of all the features that your company’s website has to offer. Then check out how easily new users can navigate to each and every one of those features. If you find that you have trouble getting from Point A to Point G, for example, then it’s a pretty sure bet that visitors to the site will encounter the same or even greater difficulty.
All of your efforts in creating special features amount to nothing if users have significant difficulty getting to them. Today’s Internet browsers have set a pretty high standard, and if your site doesn’t come up to or exceed those standards, visitors to the site will take their interest and business elsewhere.

Technical Hiccups – Incredible as it may seem, some companies fail to check out their site on a regular basis, which allows for the intrusion of technical difficulties. For example, a user clicks on a hyperlink on one of the website’s pages, but all he gets for his effort is an error message indicating that the page he wants can’t be found. Although everything else on the site may be working well, that user very likely may be frustrated enough to give up on the website altogether.

Make sure that one or more staff members regularly checks the site for possible technical glitches. Once such problems are found, they can be corrected, hopefully before too many users have been turned away by the site’s lack of functionality.

Keep It Timely – If you want visitors to your website to take it seriously, show them that you do too by updating the site on a regular basis. Users get turned off when they spot signs clearly indicating that the site was pretty much set up and forgotten or at least very rarely tended to.
All information on the website must be kept current. If you have a News page or section of the site, regularly add up-to-date news reports or even news features to show that you’re staying on top of your site and the developments that affect your business.
Above all, if you have an interactive forum somewhere on the website, reply in a timely fashion to queries from visitors to the site. If you’re not getting much in the way of visitor comments, try to stir up some interest by commenting on a relevant news development or upcoming product introduction just to keep the forum lively.

Call for Outside Help – Lastly, if you have no web design specialists in house and know little about the subject yourself, you may want to call in an outside specialist who can evaluate your site and draw up a list of recommendations for improvement.

About the Author: Jay Fremont is a freelance author who has written extensively about personal finance, corporate strategy, and social media.

How to Write Searchable, Shareable, Clickable Titles

Donna Vieira
Posted on in Inspiration

Creating blog titles that to fit in eight words or less can be as challenging as coming up with a lead paragraph — or solving a Rubix Cube. And much like one-liners guys try on ladies in a bar, a blog title will only work well if it’s creative enough. And it doesn’t hurt to have at least an idea of who you’re trying to entice. That goes for both creating blog titles and hitting on ladies in the bar.

Pro Blogger says that, on average, eight out of 10 readers will read a blog post title, while less than three out of that same group will actually read the article. So, how do you get that your blog to receive that special attention? Actually, there are a few ways:

Keep it short and simple

Your blog title shouldn’t be a sentence long. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a complete sentence. When you write out a title, try and rewrite it even shorter. Sometimes, even one word is enough.

Seriously, roam the halls of college educational buildings, and more than likely, you’ll see at least one flier pinned to a cork board with the word “SEX” emblazoned in big, bold letters, only to find out that it’s just a car wash fundraiser for Kappa Phi Omega. But it got your attention, didn’t it?

Also remember to use good grammar, unless, of course, you’re being deliberate about it. “I ain’t scared of no ghost,” is acceptable as long as you’re somehow relating to the classic “Ghostbusters” movie.

Pro Blogger does point out an important point to not use special characters such as, “@” or “&,” as they can mess with your URL and HTML code. To understand your webpage and HTML code a little better, and learn how or when to use special characters, sites such as MyHosting.com provides answers to how to create a website, utilize Windows hosting and more.

Make the juicy part of the blog part of title

Everyone loves to say quotes from movies. Usually, they are from one of the best scenes in that particular movie. The same can be said for blogs and blog titles. Newspaper journalists use this tactic all the time, taking the juiciest quote or factoid or part of an article, and reshaping it into a headline.

The trick here is to be compelling. As Poynter’s states, what will the story do for the reader? The story could be about a prominent figure retiring or one who has recently died. The blog title could be part of a quote the person once said, or a connection to a brief mention of the person’s beloved dog that is towards the bottom of the story.

The point is to capture readers’ imagination or tweak their interest with a title that argues a topic, makes them stop and wonder more about what you mean, or simply hook them in with a quirky, yet relatable, title that mentions the point of your blog.

Putting numbers in titles, says Poynter, is also another way to make clicking on your blog title irresistible to readers. The whole “5 Things You Can Learn”-type of title promises readers your blog will be concise and consistent to your point, and may even tip them that this will not be a long, drawn-out dissertation or rambling rant about the particular topic.

Read other blogs for inspiration

All too often, a writer can get writer’s block, and it can happen when just figuring out a title for a blog. When you can’t settle on one title, or if you struggle to even get the first word down, take a break, and just find other blogs to read. Sometimes, seeing how others have angled their titles will help you look at your blog title in a different way or angle.

There’s no better place to look at effective blogs than to read the best. Check out Time Tech’s list of last year’s top 25 blogs that might let you be able to bust through that writer’s block.

How Do You Best Measure Your Website Traffic?

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Posted on in Inspiration

Traffic to a small business website is the most important aspect of owning a website.

The amount of traffic you receive lets you know how many people are visiting, what they are reading or viewing, and how long they are staying. There are many ways to measure traffic, not all are equal.

Google Analytics

Google is the big player in almost everything website related. From measuring traffic to monitoring advertising, Google has it down pat. People around the world use Google Analytics to keep track of how well their website is doing.

To use this service you must create a Google account. This is accomplished by creating a Gmail account, once this step has been taken it is a matter of visiting their Analytics site. Your account information is imported. To this you add the URL of your website and a small code is generated that you or your web designer insert into your website code. Once Google has registered this entry, your site will be monitored.

Google Analytics reports on Pacific Time.

Free Traffic Monitors

Many free traffic monitors exist. Much like Google, you must enter a snippet of code into your website’s HTML. Most of the time the free traffic monitors only calculate the number of visitors to your site. None are quite as in depth as Google. Some are available as WordPress plugins – be wary of plugins, some can corrupt your website’s code. Only install those that are direct from WordPress. Read reviews on their performance.

Some free traffic monitors are only free for a limited time or they have features that must be paid for. Free software from a no-name company is usually sub-par.

Importance of Traffic

Traffic is important because without traffic you have no audience. If people are not visiting your site, it is a waste of time and money. To bring in more traffic, consider a marketing strategy. This can involves advertising or adding more, relevant content to your site. Content is one of the best ways to bring in more traffic. People that are in search of information pertaining to your service or product will flock to well written, relevant content.

Some companies improve traffic to their site by adding forums. These forums can be a boon if well maintained. Forums should include a customer service area, FAQs, and information about your product. Many people enjoy a ‘free forum’ area where they can interact with other customers, but unless your forum is well moderated this can backfire. Paid moderators can keep an eye on you forum to delete spam and offensive posts.

Never underestimate the power of good customer relations in building traffic.

By keeping your customer support emails, phone numbers, or live chat active, you can ensure high traffic.

A user friendly site will encourage people to stay on site longer than if the information visitors seek is hidden. Always keep important information prominent and avoid clutter.

About the Author: Tina Samuels writes on online physician reviews, small business, and social media.