Musings

Creating Subheads That Hook Readers

Posted by Michele Lawton on May 4, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Hook readers with subheadsOk, I’ll admit it. I used to be a reader. But with as much time as I spend on my laptop and my phone I have become a skimmer.  Which is not really surprising when you think about it. Between links that entice me to click away and read something else, to ads, notifications, and invitations to check out another part of a website, I have to force myself to stay the course all the way down the page.  

In truth rarely do I make it past the headline and when I do I quickly skim the article to find its value to me. As someone who creates a lot of content I know how important it is to hook and rehook my readers with great headlines and compelling subheadlines. AKA subheads.

Subheads turn skimmers into readers

Well-crafted subheads help you to hold your readers attention. When you break up large chunks of text with subheads you can engage skimmers and then they actually read your amazing content.

Don’t bury the lead

Readers make a split-second decision if they want to stay on your site. So don’t hide your best information at the bottom. Give readers information right off the bat so they immediately feel satisfied and interested.

Subheads should “sell”

If you write them carefully, your subheads will “sell” the section they are headlining. They serve as “ads” for each section and convince the reader to consume it.

Your subheads should convince the reader that your content will deliver exactly what the reader needs. It should express a clear and concise benefit.

Can your subhead stand-alone?

After you’ve written your subheads, go back through and look at them again. Ask yourself:

Could your subheads work as a headline or become their own standalone content?

If you can’t answer, “yes” to this question, edit your subheads until you can.

Remember, when it comes to subheadings, it is all about making things easier on the reader. So help the reader by clearly and simply offering them the information that they want.

 

Topics: Writing

Back to the Basics: 24 Key Social Media Marketing Terms

Posted by BSG Team on Apr 20, 2016 5:02:57 PM

social-media-marketing.pngWe've covered branding, marketing and PR terms in previous Back to the Basics posts. Now social media marketing is getting a little love.

With a little help from our friends at Hubspot, here are 24 key social media marketing terms everyone should know. 

  1. Algorithm - An algorithm is a set of formulas developed for a computer to perform a certain function. This is important in the social sphere as the algorithms sites like Facebook and Google use are critical for developing content promotion strategies.
  2. Application Programming Interface (API) - An API is a documented interface that allows one software application to interact with another. 
  3. Blog - Blog is a word that was created from two words: “web log.” Blogs are usually maintained by an individual or a business with regular entries of content on a specific topic, descriptions of events, or other resources such as graphics or video.
  4. Clickbait - Clickbait is a term to describe marketing or advertising material that employs a sensationalized headline to attract clicks. They rely heavily on creating just enough interest to provoke engagement. 
  5. Clickthrough Rate - Clickthrough rate is a social media metric used to represent the number of times a visitor clicks through divided by the total number of impressions a piece of content receives. 
  6. Conversion Rate - Conversion rate refers to a common metric tracked in social media that is the percentage of people who completed an intended action (i.e. filling out a form, following a social account, etc.).
  7. Crowdsourcing Crowdsourcing refers to soliciting ideas or content from a group of people, typically in an online setting. 
  8. Engagement Rate - Engagement rate is a popular social media metric used to describe the amount of interaction -- likes, shares, comments -- a piece of content receives.
  9. Geotag- A geotag is the directional coordinates that can be attached to a piece of content online. For example, Instagram users often use geotagging to highlight the location in which their photo was taken.
  10. GIF - GIF is an acronym for Graphics Interchange Format. In social media, GIFs serve as small-scale animations and film clips. (Check out this round up of reaction GIFs used to illustrate our excitement when Facebook announced that they were supporting their functionality.
  11. Hashtag - A hashtag is a tag used on a variety of social networks as a way to annotate a message. A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a “#" (i.e. #InboundMarketing). Social networks use hashtags to categorize information and make it easily searchable for users. 
  12. Impressions - An impression refers to a way in which marketers and advertisers keep track of every time ad is "fetched" and counted. 
  13. Link Building - Link building is an aspect of search engine optimization in which website owners develop strategies to earn links to their site from other websites with the hopes of improving their search engine ranking. Blogging has emerged as a popular method of link building.
  14. Live Streaming - Live streaming is the act of delivering content over the internet in real-time. This term was popularized in social media by apps such as Meerkat and Periscope. 
  15. Native Advertising- Native content refers to a type of online advertising in which the ad copy and format adheres to the format of a regular post on the network it's being published on. The purpose is to make ads feel less like ads, and more like part of the conversation. 
  16. PPC - PPC is an acronym for pay per click. Pay per click is an online advertising model in which advertisers display ads on various websites or search engines and pay when a visitor clicks through. Bid-based PPC involves an auction in which advertisers compete with other advertisers by setting the max bid -- or highest amount they're willing to pay -- for each click. Each time a visitor triggers the ad spot, the auction process pans out to select which ad will be displayed. 
  17. Real-Time Search - Real-time search is the method of indexing content being published online into search engine results with virtually no delay.
  18. Real-Time Marketing - Real-time marketing is a strategy that requires marketers to publish timely content as news breaks.
  19. Retargeting - Retargeting is an online marketing and advertising technique that allows marketers to display ads to people who have visited their website or are part of their contacts database. 
  20. Social Media Monitoring - Social media monitoring is a process of monitoring and responding to mentions related to a business that occur in social media.
  21. Trending Topic - Trending topics refer to the most talked about topics and hashtags on a social media network. These commonly appear on networks like Twitter and Facebook and serve as clickable links in which users can either click through to join the conversation or simply browse the related content. 
  22.  User-Generated Content - User-generated content is content -- blogs, videos, photos, quotes, etc. -- that is created by consumers. Marketers typically tap into their audience in an online setting to collect this type of content to support a campaign or initiative.
  23.  Viral - Viral is a term used to describe an instance in which a piece of content -- YouTube video, blog article, photo, etc. -- achieves noteworthy awareness. Viral distribution relies heavily on word of mouth and the frequent sharing of one particular piece of content all over the internet.
  24. Vlogging - Vlogging or a vlog is a piece of content that employs video to tell a story or report on information. Vlogs are common on video sharing networks like YouTube. 

 

Social Media Best Practices: The REAL Way to Use LinkedIn

Posted by BSG Team on Apr 13, 2016 3:00:00 PM

LINKEDIN-BEST-PRACTICES.pngYou know you are supposed to be on LinkedIn, but sometimes it just feels like a lot of work for very little return.  The key is to know the right tricks to make LinkedIn work for you. Are you taking advantage of all of LinkedIn’s content marketing features? What LinkedIn has to offer may surprise you.

With just a few small changes to how and what you post on LinkedIn, you can build brand awareness, generate leads, and drive more revenue.

1.  Share From Your Company Page

Your LinkedIn company page is where you meet prospects and build relationships with clients. This is your opportunity to share content that is valuable to your audience, answer questions, and solve problems. You can build relationships with your followers and nurture brand awareness with your ideal prospects.

Ideally you should post three to four times a day and always respond to followers’ comments.

Here’s what you should share on your LinkedIn company page:

  • Links to your latest and best white papers
  • Ebooks
  • Case studies
  • Bright visuals
  • Industry articles
  • Helpful how-to content

Quick Tip* Change your header image every six months to keep it fresh.

2. Post to SlideShare

Do you know what Slideshare is? If you don’t then you are missing a huge marketing opportunity. LinkedIn SlideShare has more than 70 million monthly unique visitors, and averages well over 4 million visitors a day.

Ideally, you should upload new content weekly. Also, highlight decks on profile pages, group content into playlists, and add lead forms to help achieve lead-generation goals. You can also link your SlideShare presentation to your website to gain a quality inbound link.

Here’s what you should post on SlideShare:

  • Company videos
  • Webinar and conference recordings
  • Product how-tos and tips
  • Company presentations
  • Infographics
  • Well-designed short and informative content
  • Webinar decks

Quick Tip* Use the clipping tool to highlight and share content you’ve produced with your networks.

3. Publish on Publisher

More than 1 million people have published more than 3 million posts on LinkedIn’s publishing platform. About 45% of readers are in the upper ranks of their industries, including managers, VPs, and CEOs, the very people you want to network with.

Publish at least once a month, or even more if you feel inspired. You can get the LinkedIn Pulse app for Android or iOS to see what type of content is currently trending in your field. A few hours a month should be enough to see a marked improvement

Here is what you should publish on LinkedIn Publisher:

  • Professional expertise and experiences
  • Industry trends
  • Mistakes made and lessons learned

Quick Tip* Link images and keywords back to your company blog or eBooks to increase traffic back to your site.

4. Promote With Sponsored Updates

LinkedIn sponsored updates allow you to publish relevant content and connect with a targeted audience of professionals beyond your LinkedIn company page followers.

You can also use direct sponsored content, a type of sponsored update, to share content directly in the feed. This enables you to AB test content in real time without having to originate posts on your company page. You can create personalized messages to target specific audiences.

You can generate quality leads by sharing insights that professionals seek. Then watch that content spread via the peer sharing that occurs naturally on LinkedIn.

Here are a few suggestions for what types of content to sponsor:

  • Company news
  • Blog content
  • Industry news and research
  • Case studies
  • Webinars and content produced by business leaders (both within and outside of your company)
  • Eye-catching visuals and statistics

Quick Tip* Most engagement with sponsored updates comes via mobile devices, so ensure your website or landing page is mobile responsive.

LinkedIn sponsored updates and direct sponsored content should follow these basic rules:

  • Use a compelling visual (1200 x 627 pixel image).
  • Keep your captions short and sweet (under 150 characters).
  • Add URL tracking codes to measure post-click. You can track site visits and conversions.
  • Run 2-4 sponsored updates a week.
  • Run sponsored updates for about three weeks, test and retest.
  • Set up campaigns by audience. Target the audience with the highest engagement rate.

5. Join the Conversation

Companies often talk about “establishing thought leadership” online.  LinkedIn groups are a perfect way to join the conversation and engage your community.

Participating in groups can be very rewarding. But their success depends on the time, energy, and effort of the group moderators.

Here are some suggestions to find success with LinkedIn groups:

  • Create a group for your company and assign ownership and duties.
  • Ask for opinions and provide unique insights, but avoid self-promotion.
  • Keep your content focused.
  • Manage and monitor post submissions daily.
  • Highlight top contributors.
  • Promote your group across social media channels for increased membership.
  • Join other relevant industry groups. Start conversations about industry trends and challenges.
  • Ask questions!

Quick Tip* LinkedIn Groups: A Moderator’s Field Guide is a great resource to learn how to engage and grow your group.

There is so much more to LinkedIn than meets the eye. It offers a plethora of ways to get your content noticed. Properly used, it will help you develop brand awareness, build valuable relationships, and drive quality leads to your website.

Tell us what do you think. Are you using these LinkedIn content marketing tools? Do you have any tips to share? We would love to hear from you.

 

Topics: Social Media Best Practices

8 Tips for Creating Quick and Easy Content

Posted by BSG Team on Apr 7, 2016 12:22:13 PM

Creating-Quick-Content.jpgAs you know content is king. And it is crucial to to keep up with the insatiable demand for fresh, relevant content. But, who has the time? Between a flooded inbox and the many “must go to” meetings that fill your day, there are few hours left in the day to churn out new pieces. Don’t worry; these quick and easy tips will have you speed creating contentin no time at all:

  • Create a “mini me”: Repurpose your EBooks, case studies and white papers. Take a look at your existing materials and see if they can be used to create a series of blog posts, top 10 lists, create an infograph or pull quotes to use on social media channels. Most online readers prefer short, concise content. This means one great EBook can create a lot of concise, easily digestible content.
  • Load up on lists: Readers love lists. They’re easy to scan and easy to digest information from. Plus numbered headlines really stand out against other text titles. Lists are also much easier to write than longer form content, so they can be created in much less time.
  • Revisit your classic pieces: Just like the little black dress, classic content never truly goes out of style. It is content that is always relevant to your community and can benefit your customers, which makes it a perfect source for a quick and easy content. All it needs is a few quick updates to keep it fresh. You can also create a quick EBook by organizing past published blog posts. For example, you might take your 6 best blog posts on “content creation” and organize them into “The Ultimate Guide to Content Creation” EBook. Be sure to update for relevancy, add some fresh content and Voila! You have a brand new EBook in a fraction of the time it would take to create one from scratch. 
  • Break out the bullet points: Bullet points break up your content into digestible sections that are easy to scan. Readers love them and it means less writing for you. Try to use bullet points whenever applicable and resist the urge to add filler.
  • Newsjack: This term refers to the practice of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story to amplify your sales and marketing success. It can be as simple as recapping the news and offering an analysis on it. This is an easy way to build your credibility in the industry and your reputation as a thought leader. But, remember this about newsjacking ... you have to be quick. The goal is to get your story out there while the news is still new.
  • Share you failures: Don’t fear your mistakes. Learn from them and pass that knowledge along. Chances are your customers and community can benefit from the mistakes you have made and appreciate the insights. It shows humility and experience that can help make you a valued resource.
  • Bring in a heavyweight: It is ok to get outside help, especially from those in your community. Identify and reach out to your brand advocates for contribution opportunities. Brand advocates are one of the strongest resources a marketer can have because they have a different perspective and can communicate the value of your product or service on their own. Embrace your brand advocates. Thank them for their support and offer them opportunities to contribute. This builds your relationships with your audience and also offers a new perspective to your content pieces.
  • Take a picture… it lasts longer: The online world loves a great picture so let your visuals speak for you. If a picture is worth a thousand words then embrace the simplicity and keep your content pithy.

What do you do to create quick, relevant content? Share your tips and tricks in the comments! 

The Ultimate Guide to Creating Facebook Ads

Posted by BSG Team on Mar 30, 2016 3:30:00 PM

With 1.59 billion users across the globe and 22 billion ad clicks per year, it's clear that Facebook is something businesses shouldn't ignore. The social media behemoth provides companies with the largest advertising opportunity since search.

That said, as most social media marketers already know, the Facebook game has changed. The days of organic reach are long gone.  A widely cited study by [email protected] found that business pages can expect an organic reach somewhere between 6 and 2%, which means any business hoping to reach a bigger audience has to pay for it.

But when it comes to creating Facebook ads, there are many factors to consider. Marketers need to know how much text to use, what dimensions images and videos should be and the differences between desktop and mobile News Feed ads. And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Luckily, our friends at WebpageFX created this fantastic infographic. It's a handy dandy guide for all things Facebook advertising. It's guaranteed to make your advertising experience that much easier.

facebook-ad-anatomy-infographic.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

4 Simple Ways to Increase Your Social Media Reach

Posted by BSG Team on Mar 23, 2016 2:38:02 PM

social-media-marketing.pngUltimately businesses are on social media for one thing: to generate leads.  But no social channel can be an effective lead generator without a following, which means your business needs to work hard to gain as many fans and followers as possible.

It may be tempting to purchase them to get a leg up, but when it comes to followers, both quality and quantity count.  Purchased followers are either fake or low-quality profiles that do nothing more than artificially inflate your follower count.  Earned followers, on the other hand, will actually Like, Share and Comment on your posts, learn about your business and possibly do business with you in the future.

To help you get started, here are four simple tips that will allow you to turn your social media channels into lead generating machines. 

1.  Prioritize Social Networks

Focus on the social networks where your fans are most likely to be.  You should create and maintain a presence on the top social networks, but you should put the most focus on the networks where your target buyers are spending the most time.  This is key for another reason. It takes a lot of time and resources to keep up multiple social media accounts, so make sure you’re using your time wisely and prioritizing the social networks that matter.

2.  Optimize Your Social Profiles

Whether you already have profiles for business or are still creating them, it’s important to think about how you can optimize them.  Ways to optimize your profiles include:

  • Choosing an easily identifiable username
  • Uploading a recognizable photo such as your company logo
  • Including clear and concise descriptions of your business
  • Leading people back to your website with a trackable link
3.  Add Social Sharing Buttons to Your Content

social_sharing_buttons.pngMake it easier for your visitors to share your content on their personal networks with social sharing buttons. It encourages people to share your content, which means you’ll have the potential to reach a broader audience – one that extends beyond your direct network of fans.  Be sure to add social sharing buttons to blog posts, landing pages, email newsletters and any other content you produce.

4.  Share Useful Content

Give people a reason to follow you by sharing valuable and engaging content. Avoid product-focused material and make educational information the focus of your tweets, posts and updates.  Our friends at Hubspot suggest you follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the content you share on social media should be helpful and valuable to your audience, and 20% can be self-promotional.

Building your social media reach takes effort, but if you put in the time, you will definitely see results.  You can also contact us if you need help developing your social media marketing strategy.

 

 

 

Topics: Social Media Best Practices

A Simple Tip For Getting Your Emails Read

Posted by BSG Team on Mar 9, 2016 1:52:57 PM

Good_Subject_Lines-3.pngMost of us are bombarded with dozens if not hundreds of emails every day. As such we have developed a radar and and hit delete when we sense an email is just trying to sell us something.

So how do you make it past the headline defense system and get your marketing emails opened? It’s all in the email subject line.

Mailchimp analyzed more than 40 million emails sent and singled out the ones with the highest and lowest open rates. The highest open rates were between 60-87% while the lowest performers were in the 1-14% range.

Do a quick side-by-side comparison of each pile and you will start to see a pattern emerge.

Email_Open_Rates_2.png

So, what did you notice?

On the “best” side, the subject lines are pretty straightforward. They are not particularly magical but they are also not salesy or pushy. On the “worst” side, however, you’ll notice how the subject lines are just trying too hard, they want to be flashy. They might look more creative, but their open rates are horrible because they feel like SPAM.

So what is the magic formula to write good email campaign subject lines?

There isn’t a magical formula but there is some solid advice: Keep it simple. Email subject lines that work are the ones that simply describe what’s inside the email.

This does not mean you have to stifle all your creativity or never try to sell, just be sure to deliver what you promise.  If users signed up to receive your monthly newsletter, then that is what they want.  They do not want to receive a ton of emails that that say, “Open this! 30% off now!!!”

That said, if they asked for special offers then it might be a different story. If your subscribers specifically opt in to receive discounts and promotions from your company, then full steam ahead.  They expect a “hard sell” from you and look forward to seeing what deals you have to offer.  

It is also important to know your brand and your subscribers. That is why it important to have good buyer personas, so you know what will appeal to your subscribers. For example, we received an email from ThinkGeek last week. The subject line read, “May the fourth be with you” (a not so inside joke for Star Wars fans). ThinkGeek clearly knows its audience and its brand.

The idea is to gain trust, not trick your subscribers.  Create a separate opt-in list for those who want to receive promotional emails only. You do not want to lose devoted fans because they no longer trust you.

Writing good email campaign subject lines is easy. Just deliver simple subject lines that accurately reflect what is inside the email. Stay true to your brand and know your audience. It’s just that simple.

 

Topics: Email Marketing

4 Strategies for Standing Out in the Content Marketing Crowd

Posted by BSG Team on Mar 2, 2016 12:30:00 PM

Content-1.jpgAccording to Nielsen, at least 27,000,000 pieces of content are shared each day. With so much material floating around, it can be hard to stand out and be found.  

Here are 4 strategic ways to get your content noticed:

1.  Create more content.

One obvious solution is to do more content marketing, and here’s why:

  • The more content you produce ...

  • The more Google and other search engines index …

  • The more likely you are to rank for certain keywords …

Google’s fresh factor algorithm feature means that newer content performs better in the search engines, leading to higher rates of organic traffic, which brings in new leads.

When creating more content make sure that it is is solid, authoritative, and provides value to users. When you continually put out great content, it keeps users engaged and they keep coming back for more. However, if you allow your quality to slip then you’ll end up hurting your business in the long run.

2. Create better content.

How is the quality of the content you are producing? We’ve already talked about making sure the content you create is authoritative, and provides value.

Here are several more things that you can do to create even better content and gain an edge over the competition. 

  •  Create visual content. Using compelling images is a powerful way to boost the engagement and potency of your content. Infographics are especially appealing.

  • Create live marketing.  Producing live content has become very important.  Here are two low cost methods that effective and easy to use: Periscope andFacebook Live.

  • Create unique data. Come up with your own data, statistics, studies, and results. It is a powerful way to attract more interest.

  • Create more social communities. Consumers crave exclusive places where they can find exclusive content. Make it powerful, unique, and targeted.

3.  Stay focused.

Make sure you have a clear objective with your content marketing. Your company needs to clearly define its goals. Most businesses want:

  • More leads

  • More revenue

  • More customers

  • More engagement

While these general goals are fine, it is a good idea to create specific benchmarks to gauge your progress.

4.  Don’t stop.

Content marketing is not a quick fix. To achieve success you must keep at it in a deliberate and strategic way. There will be bumps along the way. You will have successes and failures but don’t quit. Success takes time.

Content marketing is ever evolving and in order to succeed we need to evolve with it. Contact us if you need help.  We can create the content your business needs.

Topics: Content Marketing, Content Creation, Inbound marketing, Content Strategy

Creating Surveys Your Customers Will Actually Take

Posted by BSG Team on Feb 24, 2016 3:16:41 PM

Customer feedback is crucial to the success of any business. Opening a dialogue with clients and patrons helps business owners gain a better understanding of their requirements and concerns.  It also promotes loyality and protects revenue and profitability.

And the best way to start that conversation?  Surveys.

Check out this helpful infographic from the folks at qSample. It offers some great tips for designing a survey that respondents will complete, without sacrificing the actionable information you’re seeking.

 

4-Ingredients-to-a-Good-Survey.png

 

 

 

Topics: Research

Law Firm Satisfaction Surveys: Finding Out What Clients Really Think

Posted by BSG Team on Feb 18, 2016 3:21:05 PM

Client satisfaction surveys may not currently be a top item on your law firm’s to-do list, but they should be.  Not only is feedback crucial in determining how a client feels about services provided, a well-designed survey is a valuable marketing tool that provides information that will help your firm make decisions in terms of marketing, growth, and practice emphasis.

Screen_Shot_2016-02-18_at_2.47.48_PM.pngA good client survey can help a law firm:

  • Evaluate a client's satisfaction and prevent potential loss of business to competitors.
  • Identify additional services that a client might want from the firm.
  • Pinpoint markets that are not being serviced by the firm.
  • Understand who in and how organizations make decisions.
  • Discover competitors' strengths and weaknesses.
  • Recognize potential cross-selling opportunities.

Surveying techniques are critical to the success of a client survey and the quality of the information a firm receives. The questions, whether asked during a face-to-face interview or through a questionnaire, should be open and allow for detailed feedback.

The survey should include some form of the following:

  • An overall evaluation of the firm's performance in meeting the clients needs.
  • An evaluation of performance in the specific practice areas used by the client.
  • An evaluation of the partner responsible for the client.
  • A performance evaluation of the other lawyers who worked with the client.
  • A look at the quality of service provided in every step of the legal process.
  • Evaluation of the clarity of the billing procedures and fee arrangements.
  • Assessment of the firm's strengths and weaknesses.
  • Areas for improvement.
  • The client’s willingness to refer others to the firm.

A good client survey also has benefits far beyond research. They can help update and enrich a law firm’s database and mailing list with additional client information.  To get the most from the survey, firms should compare the marketing and financial database with the list of respondents to assure that you have heard from all clients.

And remember, conducting a survey is not a one of event. Client opinions are not "frozen in time." Client surveys should be repeated every two to three years to measure the firm’s progress.

Through proper design and follow up, a client survey can bring immense value to a law firm and to its clients.  You can download our free client satisfaction survey by clicking on the button below.

 Download the Survey

 

Topics: Best Practices for Law Firms