Musings

Take the Pain Out Of Blogging With Our Step-By-Step Guide

Posted by BSG Team on Jun 1, 2016 4:04:12 PM


blogging-laptop-1940x900_36253.jpgWe all want to write beautiful blog posts that people love to read as part of our marketing efforts.  But for most business owners daily, or even weekly, blogging is right up there with going to the dentist.

With this step-by-step guide to blogging, we have taken the pain out of writing.  Here is what you need to know to expertly and easily create a blog people love to read.

Step 1: Know your audience.

Before you ever put pen to paper so to speak you need to have a clear understanding of your target audience. You need to know what makes them tick. You need to know what their needs and wants are. You need to create buyer personas. When you understand your buyers and their interests you will then be able to come up with relevant blog topics.

Invest the time to create detailed buyer personas.  Our partner Hubspot has provided some great resources to help you get started:

Step 2: Start with a topic and titles.

Obviously before you can start writing you need to pick a topic for your blog post. It is a good idea to make a quick note whenever you come across an interesting story or blog topic. Before long you will have a nice collection of blog topic ideas. Do not worry if your topics are pretty general.  Use this to your advantage – play around with a variety of different working blog titles. This helps to focus your writing and creates even more blog topic ideas. A win-win.

Step 3: Write a captivating intro.

The first paragraph of a blog post should introduce what your post is about, all while captivating readers. 

No pressure here, right? Hubspot to the rescue again. They have a great post about writing captivating introductions, cleverly titled, "How to Write an Introduction [Quick Tip]".

It offers great advice for how to grab the reader's attention.  Remember, you want to attract the reader’s attention in the right way so that they will give your post more than a glance. You know you are offering them something beneficial; you just need to hold their interest long enough for them to see it.

Step 4: Organize your content.

You need to organize your content so that it can be broken down into easily digestible chunks. The best way to do this is to outline your post. This will help you to stay on track and properly focused. You will know which points to cover, and the best way to do it.

To make organizing even easier, you can download and use Hubspot’s free blog post templates. They are pre-organized for five of the most common blog post types. All you have to do is fill in the blanks.

Step 5: Now you get to write!

Now you are ready to actually write the content. Use your outline as a guide and elaborate on points as needed. Trust in your knowledge of the topic and do any additional research to gather more stats and examples to back up your points.

Also, take advantage of the many online tools available to help you with your writing. Here are a couple of our favorites:

  • Power Thesaurus: This crowdsourced tool provides users with a ton of alternative word choices from a community of writers. 
  • ZenPen: A minimalist "writing zone" designed to help you get words down without having to worry with formatting right away. 

editing.jpgStep 6: Edit/proofread your post.

You have written your blog post, hurray! But you're not done yet. Do not get in such a hurry to publish that you forget the editing process. It is a crucial part of blogging. Many small mistakes that you miss when writing are like neon signs when reading.

If editing isn’t your forte then ask a grammar-conscious co-worker to copyedit and proofread your post.

Step 7: Make it pretty.

After edits are complete then you are ready to format. An ugly post is not going to get much attention from readers. So make sure your post is visually appealing. Use consistently styled headers and sub-headers to break up large blocks of text. Maintaining consistency throughout your blog posts and your website helps your brand look more professional.

Also, content with relevant images receives 94% more views than content without relevant images. So make sure you choose at least one visually appealing and relevant image for your post. Play around with different types of images to see what works best for your post and which are consistent with your brand.

Step 8: Always have a call-to-action (CTA).

At the end of every blog post, you should have a CTA to let the reader know what you want them to do next. It can be as simple as asking them to subscribe to your blog or to download an eBook.

Use your CTAs to offer more content that is similar to the subject of the post the reader just finished, that way the CTA is mutually beneficial to you as the marketer as well as your audience.

A good blog post delivers its message by combining words with visual interest in a well-structured format that’s easy to read. Follow the basics in this article to start writing posts that attract and hold your readers’ attention.

Topics: Content Marketing, Content Creation, Blogging

9 Reasons You Need Content Marketing

Posted by BSG Team on May 18, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Anyone who hasn't taken the plunge into content marketing may want to know if it's worth the time and trouble. We'll give you a resounding yes, but don't take just our word for it. Check out the infographic below. It offers 9 revenue-related reasons why you should add content marketing to your marketing strategy.

9 Revenue Related Reasons to Engage in Content Marketing

Topics: Content Marketing, Infographics

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

13 Reasons Why Infographics Are So Effective

Posted by BSG Team on Feb 10, 2016 3:10:38 PM

Infographics have seen a surge in popularity over the last few years.  According to Google, searches for the term have increased more than 800% and an actual Google search will return more than 90,000,000 results.  

Infographics are popular because they are informative, entertaining and even evoke emotion.  But science says they are popular for another reason: our brains actually crave them.

Check out this great infographic from our friends at NeoMan Studios.  It explains why our brains find visually presented information so appealing.  Just click on the picture below to see their beautifully designed and interactive infographic.

And if you want help incorporating infographics into your marketing strategy, contact us.  We can help!

 

Brains_Crave_Infographics.png

Topics: Content Marketing, Infographics

Four Important Reasons Why Lawyers Should Blog

Posted by Liza Rodriguez on Nov 13, 2015 12:46:43 PM

Reasons why lawyers should start bloggingWant to generate more leads and grow your client base? Then it’s time to start writing.

Blogging is an incredibly valuable activity, with all sorts of practical benefits including networking, marketing and business development. Here are four of them:

No.1:  Gets You Seen.

More than three-quarters of new leads are generated online. Rather than thumbing through the Yellow Pages, most new prospects are scouring the Web. Potential clients are doing their homework online, only contacting those they feel they can trust. Blogs help make you credible in their eyes and get you seen.

No.2:  Lets You Cast a Wider Net.

Why just network locally when you can network globally? The Internet allows you to expand your reach exponentially.

No.3:  Opportunity to Show Off Your Expertise.

A good blog, one that is informative, useful and interesting, establishes you as an expert and thought leader. Moreover, other media sources take notice when you consistently push out great content. Media outlets often reach out to bloggers as a source or feature their posts on their own websites.

No. 4:  Potential Clients WILL Google You.

Whether a person is looking for an auto mechanic or an attorney, chances are he or she will turn to Google first. That means you’d better show up in their searches, and it had better be ahead of your competitors. Blogging is a great way to make that happen.

Search engines are designed to deliver the most relevant information to the searcher. Relevance is measured by how much content is viewed, cited and shared. Website content is rarely cited and shared, but blog content is.

 If you’re not already blogging, then it’s time to get in the game. A blog is essential in demonstrating your expertise, showcasing your services and being found online. Contact us if you need help or aren’t sure where to start.

Topics: Content Marketing, Blogging, Law Firm Marketing, Best Practices for Law Firms

Make Your Messaging More Effective Through Visual Storytelling

Posted by BSG Team on Oct 2, 2015 3:39:36 PM


Here at BSG, we love a good story. Even when words fail us, we can still tell a good story using images. 

Humans are wired to organize information in a way that makes sense, often in the form of a narrative, but we are also visual creatures. About 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and about 65% of us are visual learners. So why not marry the two and create truly compelling content through visual storytelling?

Here are some scientific reasons why visual content is so effective:

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text
  • 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text
  • 93% of all human communication is nonverbal

If you're still asking why visuals are important in storytelling, check out the infographic on using images below from our friends at Widen, a digital asset management company.  Some highlights include:

  • Articles that contain images get 44% more views than articles without
  • Users clicking on photos of real people are 200% as likely to convert to a sale
  • Images make up 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook (up from 83% in 2012)
  • Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets

visual-storytelling-infographic


 

 

 

 

Topics: Content Marketing, Effectiveness

6 Journalism School Lessons That Will Help You Create Better Content

Posted by Liza Rodriguez on Jul 9, 2015 9:58:00 AM

6a00d8341bf67c53ef0168e7bd2560970c-800wiI’ve recently come across several articles that discuss the reasons why one should think like a journalist when creating content. They stress finding credible sources, focusing on accuracy and being objective, all good ways to make your content stronger and help build trust with  readers.

I’m completely onboard with the advice, especially since I have a journalism background.  But I’d like to take it one step further and suggest that it isn’t enough to think like a journalist.  You should write like one too.

Here are six writing tips I learned in Journalism School that will help you create better and more readable content:

Include a Nut Graph. Every good story has a nut graph. Think of it like a thesis in a research paper.  It tells readers exactly what the story is about  -- it’s the story in a nutshell.  It also serves several other important purposes such as transitioning from the lead and explaining its connection to the rest of the story.

Use a News Peg. A news peg refers to the timeliness of a story. It’s a topical hook that allows you to capitalize on the themes, ideas and events that have already captured your audience’s interest. 

Here’s an example:  The Washington Post reported today that Latinos now outnumber Whites in the state of California. This is a great peg for an article that offers advice on how to market to Latino Millennials.

Kill Your Darlings. William Faulkner said “In writing, you must kill your darlings.”  Stephen King piggybacked on the idea with “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

So, what does it mean? It means that sometimes you have to cut the parts of your piece that you love most.  Each choice you make as a writer should further or support your main point. If your darlings (those clever little turns of phrase, funny anecdotes, etc.) aren’t serving those purposes, give them the axe.

Kings-promo-7Write with Bricks and Balloons. All good stories include both hard facts (bricks) and entertaining details (balloons).  The bricks keep your piece grounded  -- they are the data, stats and findings that support and prove what you are saying.  The balloons are those extra details that give color to a story.  In short, balloons are the elements that make for great storytelling.  Check out the balloons in this story written and reported by John R. Roby from the Press & Sun Bulletin  in Binghamton, NY:

“Two next-door-neighbor-dads, having just returned from watching their kids march in the local parade, agreed to spend the afternoon sharing a pot of homemade Maryland crab soup (red, of course) and iced-cold National Bohemian beer.”

Numbers are Numbing. Using data and stats from reputable sources help with the credibility of any piece, but that doesn’t mean your copy should read like an Excel worksheet. Make numbers easily digestible for readers when possible.  For example, a recent story in the Daily Mail describes the world’s largest yacht as 656-ft long or the length of two football fields.  It’s much easier for readers to understand just how big the yacht is when they are given a comparison that makes sense to them.

PADCABANNOGLACGP_jPick up a copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.  On my first day of Journalism School, I was handed a packet of materials. Among them:  an actual facebook and a copy of The Elements of Style.

You can decide for yourself whether the book is deserving of its reputation, but despite your final decision, there is no denying that Strunk and White offer some good advice, especially if you want to write like a journalist. Some of their most useful tips:

  • Avoid fancy words. Do not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center handy, ready and able.
  • Write in a way that comes naturally. Write in a way that comes easily and naturally to you, using words and phrases that come readily to hand.
  • Be clear. Clarity is not the prize in writing, nor is it always the principal mark of a good style… But since writing is communication, clarity can only be a virtue.

By employing some of these tips, you will craft content that resonates and is remembered. And isn't that the whole point?

Topics: Content Marketing, Content Creation, Blogging, Writing

Back to the Basics: 11 Key Marketing Terms Defined

Posted by Liza Rodriguez on Jun 17, 2015 1:55:29 PM

157589329_compThere’s no shortage of jargon in the business world, especially when it comes to marketing.  With the help of our friends at Hubspot, here are 11 key terms that anyone involved in marketing today needs to know.

1.  Analytics: The discovery and communication of meaningful patterns in data. When referred to in the context of inbound, it’s looking at the data of one’s marketing initiatives (website visitor reports, social, PPC, etc.), analyzing the trends, and developing actionable insights to make better informed marketing decisions.

2.  Blogging: This is short for web log or weblog. Will traditionally include regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material, such as photos and video. Blogging is a core component of inbound marketing as it can accomplish several initiatives simultaneously, such as website traffic growth, thought leadership, and lead generation.

images-113.  Call-to-Action:  A call-to-action (CTA) is a text link, button, image, or some type of web link that encourages a website visitor to visit a landing page and become a lead. Some examples of CTAs are “Subscribe Now” or “Download the Whitepaper Today.”

4.  Inbound Marketing: Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert into customers.

5.  Keyword: Sometimes referred to as “keyword phrases,” keywords are the topics that webpages get indexed for in search results by engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Picking keywords that you’ll optimize a webpage for is a two-part effort -- first, you’ll want to ensure the keyword has significant search volume and is not too difficult to rank for. Then, you’ll want to ensure it aligns with your target audience. After deciding the appropriate keywords you want to rank for, you’ll then need to optimize the appropriate pages on your website using both on-page and off-page tactics.

how-to-optimize-landing-pages-for-conversions-ebook-016. Landing Page:  A landing page is a website page containing a form that is used for lead generation. This page revolves around a marketing offer, such as an ebook or a webinar, and serves to capture visitor information in exchange for the valuable offer.

7. Mobile Marketing: The practice of optimizing marketing for mobile devices to provide visitors with time- and location- sensitive, personalized information that promotes goods, services, and ideas.

8. Persona:  Sometimes referred to as a “buyer persona," a persona is a basic profile of a target consumer. It helps an inbound marketer visualize the ideal prospect, their behavior, demographic profile, and psychographic information.

9. PPC:  PPC, (or Pay-Per-Click) is an advertising technique in which an advertiser puts an ad in an advertising venue (like Google AdWords or Facebook), and pays that venue each time a visitor clicks on the ad.

10. Responsive Design: This is the practice of developing a website that adapts accordingly to how someone is viewing it. A responsively designed site will be easy to read and navigate, regardless if you’re viewing it on a laptop, tablet device, or smartphone.

images-1011. SEO (or Search Engine Optimization): The practice of enhancing where a webpage appears in search results. By adjusting a webpage's on-page SEO elements and influencing off-page SEO factors, an inbound marketer can improve where a webpage appears in search engine results.

 

 

Topics: Content Marketing, Inbound marketing, Glossary, Back to Basics

5 Crucial Steps for a Successful Email Marketing Campaign

Posted by Josh Bernstein, BSG Contributor on Jun 5, 2015 10:49:32 AM

Unknown-1-1It should surprise no one that email marketing has surpassed direct mail in terms of sheer volume. The reasons are obvious: email is cheaper, more measurable and better targeted than direct mail. Email marketing is an effective way to grow your contact database and foster your existing contacts for increased profits. Here are some helpful tips for a better understanding of an impactful and successful email campaign.

Know your audience and speak directly to them.

Lazily copying a campaign model from someone else will get you nowhere. Be aware of who your potential clients are and provide them with something they can use. Use any and all information you have gathered about your customers to personalize for them targeted, relevant messages. Each one of your target audiences should have a developed offer customized for them. Take the necessary time to promote a specific product or service to generate repeat business from existing customers, as well as finding ways to drive your product and message home to a new set of customers.

Write a great subject line and grab the reader’s attention quickly.

A solid email marketing campaign grabs the attention of the reader immediately, most often with a killer subject line. Besides, the subject line is the very first thing that your clients will see when they are poring over the emails in their inbox. The subject line should be simple and straight to the point. It should tell the reader what to expect inside. Personalizing the subject line to each recipient and including the name of your company is a tested method that encourages high rates of emails being opened, as opposed to being “spammed.”

templatesDirect customers to a purposeful landing page.

You’ve already succeeded if your customers have opened your email and read it. Now is not the time to have their interest fade! Instead of sending them to your homepage or a basic product listing page, you should be sending them to a purpose-built landing page, specifically designed to convert click-throughs into leads and ultimately, into sales. An email landing page should:

  • Only include content that is relevant to your email campaign
  • Mirror the headline on the landing page to your email campaign so customers can quickly evaluate the relevance of the page
  • Display the most important information where it is likely to be read (at the top and to the left) 
  • Ensure that the copy can be easily scanned
  • Make sure your call to action is clear and distinguished so that your audience knows what the next step(s) should be
  • Make your call to action clickable 

images-3-1Your message needs to be succinct and to the point.

Let’s face it… this is a challenge for everyone. Easy writing is the hardest type of writing. Investing in a great copywriter will undoubtedly strengthen your campaign. Hiring a strong writer—someone who is entrenched in the field and who has specific experience crafting effective copy—will ease the burden of having to write all the copy yourself.

Test your campaign before you click send.

Your message needs to be vetted, edited and tested many times before it is actually sent. Send test emails to yourself to get a sense of what the email will look like with the more popular email readers (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, etc.). It will also help you to ensure that images aren’t broken and that the details of the email won’t lead any customers to mistake it for spam. The only way to find optimal combinations of copy, design, etc. is to test and keep track of different combinations. You must edit and re-edit until your specific message is 100% crystal clear. Keep track of these key elements when considering what to edit and refine:

  • Subject Line(s)
  • Style, tone and context of the copy
  • Font sizes, colors and formatting
  • Call(s) to action 

If you don’t have the time to construct an email campaign or if you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where your business stands, take advantage of these helpful tips and begin developing an effective email marketing campaign that will nurture leads and transform them into successful sales. And don’t forget that your email campaign can also be used to generate additional income from your existing customer base. It’s a win-win situation, so stop procrastinating and get started!

 

Topics: Best Practices for Businesses, Content Marketing, Creative Marketing, Content Creation

B2B Content Marketers Struggle with Writer's Block

Posted by Michelle Lazarus on Apr 30, 2015 10:00:00 AM


Savvy business owners know that the average website conversion for companies with defined content processes is more than twice that of companies without. And yet, according to research from content marketing firm Kapost, and reported by eMarketernearly four in 10 B2B marketers said it was difficult or somewhat difficult to come up with ideas for content marketing, and half said they didn’t have enough ideas to fuel such efforts. Many of them rely on internal crowdsourcing to help generate content ideas. 

A great content strategy is vital to a company's success, since many departments across an organization depend on content for success:

kapost

But grappling with content ideas doesn't have to be so tough. Choosing a great partner to help fuel new ideas can take the pressure off.

What kinds of things do you strive for when creating new content? Let us know in the comments below. 

 

Click to Read More

 

 

 

Topics: Content Marketing, Content Creation, Content Strategy

Want more genius and craftiness? Subscribe to Musings!

Recent Posts