The Benefits of Blogging for Your Business

It seems like today there’s a blog for every type of business, hobby, fad, profession, or problem. Why is there such a growing trend in writing blogs? The answer as to why more businesses than ever have begun creating weekly or monthly blogs is simple, to increase traffic. It might not seem like it but blogging for your business can be one of the greatest marketing tactics in your company’s tool belt. Everyone wants more traffic and visitors, blogging is an easy way to get them. Take a look inside what business blogging really is and discover a new way to increase your online visibility, traffic, leads, conversions, and retention.

What Is Business Blogging?

Business blogging is a marketing tactic that uses content written into a blog structure to accumulate more online traffic and visibility for your business. A blog is an online journal with a conversational tone discussing unique topics. Blogs speak to a variety of audiences and are updated frequently. A business blog is a direct marketing channel, similar to social media or email marketing, that can help drive your company’s growth. Blogs have the opportunity to cover a range of topics and in result, can fuel tons of visitors and readership. As the popularity of your blog or blog topics grow, you’ll start to receive increased traffic from other sites, social media, and search engine results.

Best Benefits Blogs Bring to Your Business

Blogging can be the answer you’re looking for to solve your stagnant online efforts.  It simultaneously attracts more engagement while providing your site with new and fresh content. Help liven up your social media and engage with new customers from increased SEO efforts.

Increase traffic:  Even though you might have an excellent and appealing website, its pages probably haven’t been updated anytime recently. Adding a blog post gives you the advantage to add an additional indexed page to your website, resulting in the opportunity for you to show up in search engine results and drive increased consumer-connections. If you’re smart, use your blog for interesting and original social media content and engage a new audience.

Humanize your brand and establish expertise: Blogs give your company an individual way to connect with your target audience. The best business blogs answer common questions and cover topics their customers are interested in. It’s an unparalleled way to establish your brand as an expert in the field and give a personal voice and tone to connect with consumers. Share important industry-related information and trends, while gaining top-of-mind recognition and familiarity with your audience.

Convert traffic into leads: With increased traffic to your website thanks to your blog, you now have the opportunity to convert that traffic into leads and lasting customers. Include a call-to-action in your blogs to encourage engagement from the audience. Research proves the more pages a site has, the more leads it gets. It’s important to update your blog frequently to stay relevant to increase conversion rates. Each new blog post is a new page with the opportunity to generate a new lead.

Build Long-Term Results from Blogging

Blogs give your company the ability to stay relevant for weeks and months to come. Now that you have a blog ranking in search engine results, the effort you’ve already put in can transform into hundreds or thousands of views and leads in the future. An active blog sends consumers the message your business is alive, flourishing, and maintained. According to HubSpot, companies who prioritize blogging experience a 13X increase in ROI, year after year. High-quality content drives increased traffic from search results and enables a greater conversion rate. Increase traffic to your website by engaging new customers with fresh content and increase your brand loyalty at the same time. Blogs have the opportunity to make your company stand out as a leader and an expert.

The greatest benefit of blogging is the opportunity it gives your company to attract new traffic to your website by working closely with search engine optimization and social media. You are able to strengthen your website with fresh content and increase your social visibility and reach. When prospective customers find answers to their common questions on your blog page, they are much more likely to want to buy as the relationship has been founded on trust and education. Business blogging has great scalability that in return can substantially increase traffic and reach, heightened consumer engagement and industry expertise, and create long-term visibility from blogs ranking in organic searches.

The Power of Email Marketing

Perfecting your email marketing campaigns helps grow and maintain client bases. Not only is email marketing an effective digital marketing strategy for small and large local marketers (ranked as a top-three performing channel), but it’s easy to use and highly cost-effective. If you’re operating email campaigns that can see room for improvement, or you’re considering implementing campaigns for the first time, know your email efforts are not in vain – you’re headed in the right direction, my fellow content marketers. Here’s why.

It’s Cost-Effective

Compared to other digital marketing strategies, email marketing is very cost-effective – if it’s done right. Many email service providers are free, or only around $10 a month with a certain number of subscribers. MailChimp, MailerLite, and SendinBlue all fall under this category. When looking for a low-cost, high-value service offering, consider one of these affordable service providers to leverage company profits with the click of a button.

It’s Easy to Do

Email marketing is easy to facilitate because its technical components can usually be managed within one email service provider. The four main components of email marketing are:

  • capturing email addresses
  • managing lists and campaigns
  • designing email campaigns
  • delivering campaigns

Capturing and managing addresses in one place is one of the most appealing reasons to use email service providers. Keeping track of addresses in personal emails (or worse – in documents or notepads) will cause major headaches down the road. Instead, find comfort in handling all important emails in one place. It’s easy, organized, and highly effective.

Cross-promoting your services is also simple with the use of address acquisition products. Privy and MailMunch are two tools that make connecting websites, landing pages, and social campaigns to email lists as easy as pie. And who doesn’t like pie?

But, seriously – there’s a lot of thought that goes into constructing well-informed email campaigns. Make your job easier by consolidating all information and resources into one handy-dandy platform.

And let’s not forget about design. These days, the best emails are created with users in mind. Most users will open emails on phones and mobile devices, so they need to look polished to inspire a response. Email service providers make the design process easy by providing templates and design tools necessary for creating beautiful emails you can’t resist scrolling all the way through.

After you’re done creating your campaign, effortlessly send emails to target audiences with the click of a button. Email service providers make the process fast and easy by offering the tools you need to create killer campaigns.

It Doesn’t Take a Lot of Time

Emailing doesn’t require your attention 24/7. Unlike social media, email marketing can be performed periodically and when you want. Weekly or monthly newsletters may be all your business needs to stay top of mind for customers. Newsletters like these ensure customers stay informed about events happening in the area or once-in-a-lifetime deals. It only takes one nice email to remind loyal customers why they fell in love with your business in the first place.

Plus, sending out newsletters is a good way to reach customers organically. Unlike posting content to large audiences on social platforms, emails are sent to individuals with personal touches. This makes a big difference in the psyche of customers who open emails tailored to their purchasing history, their actual names, and that announces community events they’ll likely care about. Email can be personalized – and customers like that.

It Offers Concrete Feedback

Email strategy relies on sending things and getting things back. These things are 1) campaigns tailored to target audiences offering a unique service or informing audiences of events, etc. and 2) responses by customers in the form of purchases, donations, and more. Because the nature of email marketing relies on the sending and receiving of things, it’s easy to measure successes and failures. If campaigns launch without much feedback, you’re likely doing something wrong. It’s clear to know when you need to go back to the drawing board and re-think your strategy.

One common reason for low response rate is poor content. Want to avoid flat, impersonal content? We do, too – here’s how to leverage email success.

Email Personalization 101

Alongside growing subscriber lists (a topic deserving of its very own blog post), creating personalized content is key. We turned to our friends at Campaign Monitor to better understand the ins and outs of creating quality, personalized content, which can take the form of basic, medium sophistication, and advanced sophistication content creation.

Basic Personalization

From Name

This is a prominently displayed element many users rely on to know who is sending the email. Make sure to personalize your ‘from name’ with your company’s known title. 68% of Americans decide to open or ignore emails based on From Names. Names can even be personalized to show account managers and their profile pictures, allowing customers to associate emails with managers they’ve worked with in the past.

Subject Lines

This line follows the From Name and, depending on its structure, determines user engagement. Research by Campaign Monitor shows that including the individual names in subject lines increases open rates by 26%. Wow! Personalizing one-liners like these prompts customers to open emails. Email service providers make this task easy by storing names and corresponding emails so you don’t have to manually type recipients’ names into every subject line.

Medium Sophistication Personalization


Now is the time to get a little more personal (or use any personal details you can find) to tailor the content of your email to the individual. Inserting the name of the user into the first line of your message is a common strategy, extending personalization down from the Subject Line. Company names and t-shirt sizes can be stored in campaign builders, allowing for easy access when compiling them into messages.


The same strategy applies to images. Designing campaigns with pictures unique to the users’ city, for example, increased Campaign Monitors click-through rate by 29% in one study.

Dynamic Content

Demographic and geographic data can be leveraged to create dynamic content speaking to subgroups of customers. Select email service providers make this easy with tools designed to send emails to individuals identifying with a specific gender or who live in certain zip codes.


It never hurts to ask if customers want to keep hearing from you. Send them emails saying you miss them. It doesn’t get more human than that. If they haven’t visited your site in a while or purchased any of your amazing products, ask if they still want to hear from you. If your content is appealing, they’ll remember why they loved you so much in the first place and won’t be able to resist your email charms.

Advanced Sophistication Personalization

Product Recommendations

Rely on customers’ most recent purchases to better understand buying behavior. Then, send them emails with similar products they simply can’t resist. Even if they don’t buy your products, users will be tempted to click on images of apparel or products they want to wear or use. With behavior analytics, you have the key to your customer’s heart.

VIP Loyalty

Reward your best (or highest paying) customers with VIP rewards. These emails offer promotional discounts or never-before-seen products to customers who’ve proven their loyalty. Based on spending threshold and user engagement, systems like Shopify create relevant campaigns specific to the individual’s shopping and spending habits.

Purchase Abandonment

We all get a little online-shopping crazy sometimes. This happens when we fill online carts with more items than we actually want to purchase. But don’t fret. You’ll be reminded of all the items you left behind. Retailers like Birchbox gather individuals’ website behaviors and follows up with relevant emails. Remember those couple of eyeshadows you didn’t end up purchasing? They’ll appear in an email a couple days later asking if you still want them. Strategies like these tempt your most loyal customers.

Multiple Uses, Personalized Touches

Whether you’re a small business owner or a well-known retailer, email marketing helps. Email marketing is a strategy growing in strength due to developments in data analytics and email marketing systems.

In 2017 alone, 90.4% of internet users sent at least one email a day in the United States. That’s a lot of people relying on email as a form of communication. When sophisticated, well-thought-out campaigns are sent directly to individuals, expect to receive awesome results – or at least informative ones because email marketing is predictable and concrete. Really, there’s nothing to lose. Get started perfecting your email marketing strategies today and stay ahead of the game. You and your customers will be glad you did.

The Truth Behind Targeted Advertising

You log onto your computer and head to Google to shop for a new watch. After browsing a few sites from the results, you decide to postpone your purchase until you find the perfect one. You continue browsing on your computer, checking the news or weather. Then bam – squished on the side of the page is an advertisement for the exact watch you were just looking at. How did it get there? It’s like your computer is magically spying on what you’ve been searching. Welcome to the world of targeted advertising. Targeted advertising is the practice of advertiser’s using highly specific characteristics, demographics, search engine habits, cookies, and a variety of statistics to tailor a promotion to a specific consumer’s wants and needs. Find out the truth about targeted advertising and how the tailored ads you see are formed and implemented into your daily web browsing.

How it Happens

Targeted internet advertising has many components combined to tailor an ad to a specific consumer’s behavior. Information is pulled from a consumer’s web usage, search inquiries, past products viewed, social media pages, and online activity. Furthermore, advertisers can base their ads on specific characteristics such as socioeconomic groups, distinct time of day, behavioral patterns, and even location.

Specifically, the main sources of information used to develop custom ads are clickstream data, search data, purchase data, and profile data. With all this information, advertisers can create a picture of the potential customer’s interests, attitudes, and hobbies. Consequently, building ads that are targeted exactly to the consumer’s specific wants. This explains why a watch advertisement would show up during a different search, such as the weather, after previously searching to purchase a new watch.

Collecting Cookies

Clickstream data is a huge source of where the internet is pulling your information from to target ads. Clickstream data specifically refers to the record of web pages you’ve previously visited. How is all this data collected you might ask? It’s a simple answer, a cookie. All your clickstream data is stored in a tiny text file referred to as a cookie. Websites are able to communicate with your computer through cookies, so it can better track your online inquiries and movement on web pages. This information is what directly helps target specific ads based on a user’s unique online actions. If your clickstream data includes a lot of shopping on jewelry websites, you’ll begin to see more targeted advertisements appear for watches, necklaces, or other items within that category.

Daily Data Habits

A user’s daily data habits play a big role in what advertisements they see. Along with clickstream data, here’s a deeper look into the other data responsible for targeted advertisements.

Search data is compiled anytime a user types an inquiry into a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo. Search engine companies analyze the words typed into the search bar, along with a user’s habits, to position targeted advertising alongside the results.

Purchase data is the information collected from a user’s past purchases from online stores. The online store uses cookies to track what you buy or don’t buy and in return are able to target advertisements for future purchases pertaining to similar interests.

Profile data has increased enormously, thanks to the rise of social media. When creating a social media profile, social networking sites typically have users enter a variety of information and demographics such as age, location, religion, education, interests and more. The social media sites then are able to use this information you provided to build custom ads for your timeline.

With so many options of where to pull potential customer’s online data from, targeting advertising has become an increasingly popular and lucrative way to advertise online. With so much data readily available about individual’s online activity, searches, and purchases, it makes sense why so many ads are appearing targeting exactly what a specific consumer is interested in.

The world of targeting advertising continues to grow exponentially with the wave of the digital age. Targeted advertisement’s ability to seep on to potential buyer’s online usage urges action, purchases, and strengthens a brands image and connection to its targeted audience.

Tips for Creating Intelligent Content

What is Intelligent Content? 
Content marketers strive to craft content that’s intelligent. This is content that’s not merely smart and relevant – instead, it’s also discoverable, reusable, and not limited to one purpose. Intelligent content is the bread and butter of successful marketing campaigns because it’s easily discovered by online communities and has the potential to reach large audiences. Simply put, it’s winning content that gets the clicks.

By harnessing the tools necessary for developing rich and reusable content, teams strategically position themselves ahead of their competitors. As a writer, you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing your work is consumed by a large audience – a dream shared by most doe-eyed, eager content marketers.

Here’s what you need to know while on a mission to improve your content and leverage success.

Intelligent Content Should Be Reusable
Repurposed content can be published more quickly, limiting the amount of time it takes to reach clients and audiences. By creating content that’s modular, writers help themselves and their teams by intentionally designing content pieces for reuse.

Think about it. When you create reusable content components (or modules) you can reuse them time and again in related pieces. Marketing brochures, product splash pages, and other structured pieces use recycled content modules to create killer marketing collateral.

Best of all, your brain gets a bit of a break from having to constantly invent new and creative work. Any busy business writer knows operating under ‘creative constraints’ is a reality when deadlines must be met. Leaning on reusable content components is helpful when trying to save time and precious writing energy.

Using modular, reusable content also reduces translation costs. This is because less time is spent doing the actual writing, and content production expenses are reduced overall. When projects allow for it, reuse these valuable components. Your team will have more time for other pressing tasks – and you can finally spearhead that project you were so excited to start.

Logical Thinking Is Necessary
Alongside being reusable, content must be logically structured to incorporate metadata. Metadata is machine-readable information that tells a computer how to understand the content and differentiate it from other content pieces. SEO practices optimize metadata to push it to the top of search engine pages, ensuring your article, blog, or post is seen by many people.

Metadata can be incorporated into content when pieces are structurally and semantically rich. When the content’s structure has meaning, humans and machines are better able to detect what kinds of material will comprise the piece. We can trust that a whitepaper, for example, will contain a positioning statement, value proposition, list of features, and a list of benefits. Structured content is more easily manipulated because there is a recognizable order to it. Instead of scrambling for meaning, readers know to refer to certain paragraphs, lists, etc. Creating structured writing provides both order and coherency.

Understanding semantics is equally important. Semantically rich content contains intentionally chosen words, phrases, and optimized metadata familiar to an industry or niche. By researching and incorporating unique sets of keywords and phrases, you can create highly personalized content that targets a unique audience.

Creating intelligent content is a process requiring several important steps you won’t want to skip. Stay on top of the game by crafting content that:

  • is modular & reusable
  • structured intentionally
  • semantically rich

Reap the Rewards of Your Smart Work
Creating intelligent content can be tough, and you’re going to have to bust out your writing toolkit. But you’re going to see some awesome results if your content is reusable, highly structured, and optimized.

When content is put together in this way success will be yours. By creating intelligent content, you can more easily deliver it, customize it, personalize it, deliver it to multiple channels, speed up delivery time, and reduce production costs – and that’s a whole lot of bang for your buck.

Content and SEO: How They Work Together

Two variables that work very closely together in digital marketing are SEO, search engine optimization, and content marketing. The difference between the two is found in the definition and goals of each. SEO is the technical process used to increase traffic to websites and engage the maximum number of visitors to the website from search engine results. Content marketing refers to writing intelligent and relevant content to drive consumer readership and action. Similar to the relationship between SEO and paid search, SEO and content writing must directly work together to have strong results.

While different in its strategy, SEO still depends on content marketing to be successful. Every website needs compelling words, trustworthy articles, and captivating content for the SEO team to optimize. Without a strong SEO team, your content won’t be as visible and, consequently, won’t attract much traffic. An effective digital marketing campaign needs an SEO and content team that works closely together to develop quality content, driving it to the top of the search results.

Better Together

SEO and content teams should communicate constantly. Like a pitcher without its catcher, an SEO team without a content department has a hard time winning. Without the fusion of these two teams, it’s more difficult to create effective digital marketing campaigns. You need a close-knit team— one directly depends on the other for success. So, get your teams together to communicate and collaborate, and you’ll be on the way to a record strikeout season.

The job of the SEO team is to find the best strategies for driving engagement to increase search engine results. The content team’s job is to integrate these strategies into trustworthy and original content to attract the highest search engine results. Articles containing fresh ideas with new and dependable information rank higher than articles with repetition and errors. Search engine optimization won’t be effective without a strong content writer to create original content to improve search results. An integrated content and SEO team will be able to quickly improve results with content containing targeted keywords and tools for search engine optimization.

Keywords’ Connection to Content  

The technical side of SEO includes researching and analyzing keywords. Keywords are the words users type into a search engine to find relevant results. Finding relevant keywords and integrating them into your content is imperative to have articles rank higher on search engine results pages. It’s important that the SEO team gives these keywords to the content writers so they can write engaging content relevant to high-ranking keywords for optimized results.

Keyword research won’t be beneficial if it’s not included in your content. Researching keywords is great for SEO, but won’t help optimization if they aren’t embedded into your content. Therefore, writing a content piece without knowing the audience or goal won’t bring much traffic. Content is most effective when written with keywords researched by the SEO team. Drive high search results and optimized search engine campaigns by including keywords in unique and original content writing. 

Where to Write Keywords

Once the SEO team evaluates what keywords to use, the content writers need to integrate them as frequently and naturally as possible throughout the page. The main keywords should be written in both parts of the copy, the header section, and the body section. The headers of a webpage are hidden in the pages’ HTML and are read first by search engines, making it a critical place to include keywords to improve SEO.

The heading section is important to both content and SEO as they need to work together to ensure their headers bring the highest search results. The header section tells the search engines what the page is about, resulting in the need for expertly written keywords. Since users typically click on a page that has the information they’re looking for, it’s important to clearly state the goal of the page using keywords in the heading and first portion of body copy. Content writers should put keywords and the most important information in the headers and first paragraphs of their copy when writing to improve SEO.

One of the best ways to organically grow digital marketing campaigns is through search engine optimization. Optimize your content by giving writers keywords and guidance to create the most informative and relative content. Implement keywords and vital information in the headings and first paragraphs of the body copy to help search engines find your page easier. The more frequent, natural, and close to the top of the page your keywords are, the more impactful they are at increasing your search results. Your search engine results are sure to shoot to the top of the page when your SEO and content teams work closely together.

Stories Change Beliefs and Behavior

Good stories matter, and if they’re good enough, they make an impression on all who listen. A significant part of a child’s upbringing centers on moms, dads, and grandparents telling tales of heroes, villains, and clowns. They’re fundamental to our understanding of ourselves, our families, and the world around us, and they stay close to our hearts as we move through life.

Humans are social beings and are wired for connection. Recent studies show brains respond to stories to foster empathy, understanding, and ultimately action. If marketing aims to do the same, writers are wise to incorporate good storytelling techniques in their narratives to captivate audiences and win them over. The result is a client who now has an emotional connection to your brand or product — all with the help of neurobiology and responses within the brain.

Humans Are Hardwired for Empathy

Human beings coexist for survival and happiness, and, it turns out, empathy plays a big role. Oxytocin, a neurochemical that is produced when we experience trust and kindness, motivates cooperation with others by enhancing our sense of empathy. When we tap into how others are feeling and understand their motives for action, we’re better able to respond to situations ourselves. So, empathy brings us closer together but also safeguards us from harm.

But oxytocin isn’t released only in ‘real life situations’. According to studies conducted by Paul J. Zak, the oxytocin system is triggered by character-driven stories. To come to this conclusion, his research team took blood samples of participants before and after watching a narrative film. They found that heightened oxytocin levels led to more participation and voluntary cooperation (in this case, donating to a charity group).

But behavioral changes won’t occur if a story doesn’t keep an audience’s attention — a key finding of the studies. Only when viewers are captivated will they produce the amount of oxytocin required to motivate action. What’s more, maintaining an audience’s attention depends on the amount of developing tension within a narrative — a necessary strategy for creating character-driven stories. The more tension that exists within a narrative, the more that’s at stake for a character. This is what captivates a reader or viewer.

With an understanding of a character’s troubles and their eventual resolve, audiences create an emotional connection with the person on screen or in a book. The character’s relationship to the rising action within a story connects readers to his or her plight, forcing them to empathize with difficult circumstances that must be overcome. Sure, it sounds dramatic, but relying on classic storytelling techniques is proven to be effective, even on a neurobiological level.

Translating Storytelling to Content Marketing

The key to crafting compelling copy, then, relies on your ability to compel individuals to empathize and change. There’s a saying in the marketing world that says facts tell but stories sell. With an understanding of brain behavior and storytelling, we’ve laid out some basic principles for creating marketing materials that matter most to customers. Here’s what we found.

There is a story behind everything you do, and it should be explored and communicated back to customers. This means understanding the significance of a product or service on an emotional level. Describing the design features of a horseshoe, for example, while interesting to a farrier or metallurgist, may be lost on horse owners who care most about the well-being and comfort of their four-legged friend. A family may have lived on their farm for generations and owning livestock may be essential to their happiness.

These sentimental details need to be examined to captivate an audience, and if you feel a product is essential for someone’s well-being or happiness when creating content, you’re onto something.

It’s equally as important to speak your client’s language and communicate branded stories in a way that resonate with a variety of demographics. Having a strong grasp of your audience’s voice and identity is crucial to your marketing journey. So, learn your client’s language. You’ll more easily pull at their heartstrings.

It’s also strategic to listen to stories already being told online by clients. This is a great way to begin learning about what matters most to those you represent, and you can easily tune in to conversations circulating on social media or other public forums. When you understand the issues that resonate with clients, you can more authentically craft stories that address the things they care about most.

The Brain-Story Connection

Stories that speak to an individual’s ability to overcome a unique set of obstacles affect viewers on a neurobiological level. Audience members form emotional connections with characters who transform themselves for the better. The brain responds to these stories by increasing capacities for empathy and connection through the release of oxytocin. These studies suggest that, on a biological level, humans are meant to empathize, learn, grown, and connect.

Tapping into this somewhat primitive yet profound concept has long-lasting effects, and it’s a useful strategy in creating content that speaks to clients on a deeper level. At the end of the day, your content needs to matter. Once you empathize with clients and understand why their products or services make a difference in the world (or in their world), you’ve got their attention. And that’s what matters most.

Are Whitepapers Still Useful (and Will They Be in the Future?)

Whitepapers are prolific in the marketing sphere, but few marketers (digital or traditional) examine the true utility of whitepapers to their consumers. They are written to serve a purpose and do so often, but even in the wake of excellent engagement data, the creators and distributors of whitepapers are left to wonder just how useful the content really is.

But web content isn’t going anywhere. Over one billion blog posts have been written in the last year (counted from the date of the publishing of this blog post minus one year), and that only counts the content that has reached RSS feeds. Just keep multiplying that; there are countless web pages, emails, ads, and whitepapers written on top of that number, and even Forbes has touted the benefits of generating whitepapers for leads and engagement.

Whitepapers are here to stay, and we believe they may be closer to the well-rounded, deeply researched, and informative content you’ll see much more of in the future.

Where Did Whitepapers Come from?

The term white paper came into use less than a century ago in England. The earliest known example, the Churchill White Paper, was written in response to the Jaffa Riots in 1921, and it served as the basis of the original use of the term white paper, a government-issued document that made a firm suggestion for policy change based on thoroughly-researched evidence.

Only in the early 1990s did marketers begin using the term more broadly to define a document that combined logic with facts and statistics to build credibility or sway potential customers in the direction of purchase. As marketing in the digital realm became more prevalent during the maturation of the internet, so too did the usefulness of the whitepaper in bringing curious readers to businesses of which they had never heard before.

So Whitepapers Are a Modern Marketing Tool

whitepaper document with generic textBusiness-to-business (B2B) marketers use whitepapers most often as a means of generating web traffic, converting potential customers into leads, and generally engaging with real and potential customers who seek valuable information.

Largely, today’s whitepaper market is part of a concerted content marketing effort tied to search engine optimization (SEO). Businesses with a B2B target can authoritatively raise awareness of their services or products while simultaneously building brand awareness, thought leadership, lead volume, and overall value.

How Can We Use Whitepapers Today?

Since they are well-researched and authoritative, whitepapers make great incentives for users to convert to potential customers or clients on your website. We call this approach gating.

By requiring that interested customers provide their contact information in exchange for free and highly valuable content, you essentially build a gate around the content. The ticket to entry is usually just a few seconds of the customer’s time, but it could turn into a huge business opportunity for those companies who are quick with the follow-up.

You can do more than gate your content, though. Whitepapers are an incredible opportunity to gain clout in your industry. By drawing logical conclusions about your products and services based on peer-reviewed information that already exists, then publishing and promoting those conclusions in a whitepaper to leaders and influencers in the industry, you can get important voices resonating about your offerings.

As more businesses and curious consumers seek your content and find value in it, they will build that value for free by sharing your content and engaging with it. Plus, whitepapers are inherently more SEO friendly since they contain larger amounts of information-rich text that pleases both users and web crawlers.

So, yes, whitepapers are still useful and will absolutely be so in the future. In fact, it’s most likely that, as voice search technology and machine learning become more prevalent, whitepapers will become the go-to standard for outputting valuable web content. Get those fingers ready for typing, marketers.

We’ve written stacks of whitepapers for our clients and would be happy to help you, too. Talk to us about our content offerings today!

Traditional Marketing Still Has a Place in Digital Marketing

To a digital marketing agency like ours, it comes as a shock to learn that, sometimes, successful businesses aren’t maximizing their potential because they haven’t even tried yet to dip into digital marketing. Even more surprising is when we find out that small or medium-sized businesses have yet to consider digital marketing as a main avenue for overcoming the hardships of a budding business.

Many of these businesses are relying on traditional marketing tactics to drive their businesses. There’s nothing wrong with doing so; traditional marketing is named so because it is a collection of tried and proven methods of drumming up business.

Traditional marketing includes such classic approaches as:

  • Print advertisement
  • Newsletters
  • Television commercials
  • Radio spots

But in the internet-driven business world, we recommend keeping traditional marketing efforts around to bolster a much more robust digital marketing strategy rather than relying wholly on print, TV, and radio advertising.

It’s All About Support

Digital marketing covers product and service-selling strategies for all current internet-based channels. That includes such advertising pathways as social media, user-experience-backed web design, ongoing content creation, and email marketing. All digital efforts, however, have room for support from traditional marketing.

It’s especially true for businesses that rely heavily on such sales methods as traveling sales teams, referrals, and cold calls. Having tangible advertising material on hand to support sales teams in their marketing efforts, especially when it points to digital resources, is still a reliable method for boosting the effectiveness of sales.

What Types of Traditional Marketing Fit into Digital Marketing Campaigns?

generic traditional marketing brochure

There really is no wrong answer, but there are certain traditional marketing materials that tend to be more effective when support digital marketing than others. You’ll likely find the most utility in:

  • Leaflets – Single-page informational flyers can give salespeople an offline means of sharing relevant company, product, and service information with potential customers in scenarios that don’t ordinarily involve immediate connection to the internet or screens for presentation.
  • Brochures – Brochures and pamphlets offer even greater opportunity to showcase products and services and provide in-depth information on them in an easy-to-read format.
  • Branded Merchandise – Selling or handing out branded merchandise creates a permanent advertisement that will keep you top-of-mind for serious potential clients and customers, but creating the merchandise comes at a hefty price.
  • Business Cards – Business cards that carry professional information and help direct customers and clients to your online resources are still a viable option for making connections, especially when a particularly wide-reaching convention or meeting comes up.

While radio and television ads still increase awareness and bring in the occasional lead, they are rapidly becoming less relevant, trusted, and effective. They also tend to compete with, rather than support, your digital marketing efforts, even when traditional marketing ads point back to your digital assets.

Who Performs These Tasks?

Employees at digital marketing agencies work hand-in-hand with one another all day, which means they are always picking up relevant and useful skills that can be used to drive traditional marketing efforts.

Content creation teams are skilled at outputting copy for traditional marketing, even if they haven’t worked outside of the digital realm before. That’s because the skills necessary for digital content creation translate easily to traditional marketing – unfortunately, it doesn’t work quite as well the other way around.

Paid search teams are also adept at writing copy, especially for advertisements that need to be dense with information. All copy can be adapted to print media by graphic artists and web designers who will work together to build user-friendly materials. SEO teams may also get involved to make sure that print materials support digital efforts with maximum effectiveness.

It won’t hurt to ask your digital marketing agency if they are prepared to handle traditional marketing materials, especially if you’re already on track with a successful digital marketing campaign. Even if your agency is unable to handle your request, there are teams available elsewhere with the skills and know-how to boost your digital marketing strategy with traditional marketing.

At Leverage Marketing, we’re not afraid to dive into some traditional marketing. Learn how we can support your marketing efforts with a digital and traditional combination today!

The 6 Biggest Myths About Buyer Personas

Whether you’re in marketing, sales, product development, or customer service, creating buyer personas can help you deliver what your customers want. However, your buyer personas may not give you the insights you need if you’re going about them the wrong way. There are several pervasive myths that can cause businesses to waste time on poorly-conceived buyer personas:

  1. Buyer personas are entirely fictional.
  2. Buyer personas are only representations of a company’s best customers.
  3. Buyer personas should contain as much information as possible, even if it’s not obviously relevant.
  4. It’s best to have as many buyer persona segments as possible.
  5. Each buyer persona represents a specific person.
  6. Once you create your initial buyer personas, you’re done.

We’ll look at each of these myths in greater depth, but let’s pause for a moment to define the term “buyer persona” for the purposes of this article. Inbound marketing pioneer Hubspot sums the buyer persona up nicely as a “semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” You can use customer interviews and other historical data to create profiles for different segments of your target audience. You can even give them names like C-Suite Cecily and Freelance Freddy if you want (Hubspot is really into this). However, what’s much more important than the names is determining how and why the persona makes certain purchasing decisions. By figuring this out, you’ll get better at developing marketing materials that strike a chord with your audience.

Creating accurate buyer personas is harder than you might think, and there are a lot of misconceptions that can lead both novice and seasoned marketers astray. We’ve debunked six of the most common myths about buyer personas below.

Myth #1: Buyer personas are complete works of fiction.

When creating buyer personas, you shouldn’t be polishing your creative writing skills. Don’t just write personas based on what you think you know about your customers or what your sales team has told you. Look at real customer behavior, from time spent on different pages of your website to survey form fills to purchases. Conduct interviews with a large swath of prospects and customers. Interview team members from different departments within your company (sales, marketing, customer service) as well. These team members interact with customers at different points in the buyer’s journey, and bringing their insights together will give you a clearer picture of the path to purchase your customers take.

Myth #2: Buyer personas should represent your ideal customers only.

satisfied customer five star conceptAccording to Hubspot’s definition, buyer personas represent your ideal customers, but we politely disagree on this point. It’s easy to call up a few of your company’s best customers and let the praise wash over you. But that’s not going to give you insights into your typical buyers. It’s okay to reach out to your biggest fans, but you should also interview the people who make infrequent purchases, started as prospects but didn’t close, and even those people who have had a bad customer experience with your company. Figuring out the stumbling blocks that prevent people from making a purchase will help you develop better personas—and that may help you remove those stumbling blocks.

Myth #3: The more information you can cram into your buyer personas, the better.

You don’t need to include irrelevant information just for the sake of making your buyer persona seem like a well-developed character. You probably won’t ever need to know if your target customers ride motorized scooters or regularly eat French toast for breakfast (unless your company is in the motorized scooter or breakfast food industry). Getting too granular can be a waste of your team’s time.

That’s not to say that your buyer personas shouldn’t be specific: they just need to focus on the details that are most relevant to the buyer’s purchasing process. Here are a few things you probably do need to know:

  • What causes them to invest in your products or services
  • Concerns they may have when purchasing from you
  • What selling propositions (e.g. free shipping, high-quality materials) are most important to them
  • How they expect your products or services to solve a problem for them
  • Who or what influences them during their decision-making process
  • How they prefer to shop for your products (e.g. in-store, on their smartphone)

Myth #4: The more segmented personas you have, the better.

It’s easy to get carried away when creating buyer personas. You’ve collected all this data, and you start to convince yourself that maybe there really are 20 different buckets into which you could segment your customers. There’s no right or wrong number of buyer personas, but creating a bunch of microscopically specific personas is going to be confusing and unhelpful. Start with one or two core personas and build out from there as necessary.

Myth #5: A buyer persona represents an individual.

Don’t lose sight of the fact that Freelance Freddy isn’t a real person. In fact, Freelance Freddy (or whatever you’ve named your buyer persona) isn’t even supposed to represent a specific person. To paraphrase Hubspot again, your buyer personas come from an amalgamation of data provided by your customers. That means that there will be some variation within each persona (for example, some people who fit the persona might be Content Marketing Managers while others might be Directors of SEO).

Myth #6: Once you create your initial buyer personas, you’re set.

Maybe you and your team decided to create buyer personas as a marketing exercise a year or two ago but filed them away and haven’t looked at them since. If that’s the case, you’re wasting a tool that can be valuable across the sales funnel. Get those personas back out and bring them up to date. And even if you have been using buyer personas consistently, you should make a goal to update them periodically, especially when your business goes through major changes that could affect your personas (e.g. a new product offering, a subscription price increase).

Take the time to get your buyer personas right, and you’ll be able to use them to develop marketing materials that attract qualified visitors, leads, and customers.

Need help developing buyer personas or creating content that speaks to your audience’s needs? Contact Leverage Marketing to learn how we can help you target the right prospects.

The Pros and Cons of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

The AMP Project, another step forward on the road to a totally integrated internet experience, aims to build a framework for web designers to easily create mobile-ready web pages.

accelerated mobile pages amp symbol 3dAccelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are pages that meet or exceed guidelines set forth by the AMP Project. They include code provided the AMP Project that enables special search features in our most well-used internet search tool, Google. As of April 2018, AMPs enjoy placement above other search results in a carousel, or otherwise display the AMP lightning bolt symbol.

In March 2018, Google began to roll out its mobile-first indexing features following testing and experimentation since 2016. Under mobile-first indexing, pages that are mobile-ready for multiple devices will receive priority during indexing by Google. Since Google is carrying out their mobile-first plan and they already support AMP features, digital marketing teams are exploring how AMP could change the way they build and maintain websites.

But in its early stages, the AMP Project still suffers from limitations. Creating content that is easy to view and navigate across a sea of internet-ready devices is a tall order, and in the AMP Project’s current state, it may not always be the best fit for your business.

Discover what digital marketers think are the advantages and disadvantages of AMPs; use our pros and cons list as a jumping-off point, then make your own to decide if you want to pursue a transformation to AMPs.

amp style lightning bolt in green for pros

Pros of AMPs

The AMP Project is, at heart, an effort to improve the mobile internet experience for users. It is well-intentioned, and the experts working on it don’t cut corners. AMP is beneficial to businesses and organizations with an internet presence in ways such as:

Standardized Mobile Optimization

In a world where AMP is the standard, there is no question what optimized for mobile means. But we don’t live in that world – at least, we don’t live in that world yet. Right now, we have to guess what works and what doesn’t for mobile users and build or retrofit websites accordingly. Accepting and using AMP standards gives us a ruler for measuring what’s mobile-ready and what isn’t.

Improved Ranking in Mobile-First Generation

It stands to reason that building pages to a mobile standard would help your website rank better in Google SERPs that are governed by mobile-readiness. Though AMPs may not be directly connected to better rankings, getting your pages prepared for fast mobile load times and user-friendliness is sure to improve performance site-wide.

Speed Improvement

Besides ranking better in SERPs, you might find that your users enjoy your site better when it performs better thanks to mobile- and AMP-readiness. Getting pages to load within five seconds seems to have the most positive impact on user engagement and conversion, which is especially handy if you run an ecommerce website or a site that makes most of its revenue from ads.

Placement in Carousel

AMPs also ride in a carousel placed above all other search engine results in Google SERPs. The carousel is horizontal, which allows users to scroll through AMPs sideways without ever having to scroll down. It appears for broad, high-traffic searches, but as the algorithm continues to learn, it may pull more and more AMP results. Beware, however, that like other search features, the AMP carousel may not be permanent.

amp style lightning bolt in red for cons

Cons of AMPs

In the infancy of any project, putting together all the pieces is a sizable undertaking. There are still moving parts to the AMP Project that make implementation and execution a challenge, including:

JavaScript & CSS Limitations

For the most part, AMPs contain very little in the way of branding and individuality. That’s in large part because load times suffer greatly when web designers use JavaScript and, to a lesser extent, CSS. By minimizing flashy extras, mobile pages speed up significantly, but it puts a strain on your branding and style.

Tracking Problems

AMPs don’t work with your already-implemented tracking. They are stored and tracked differently than standard pages, even mobile-ready ones. Solutions are bound to appear, but at the moment, tracking takes special effort and resources that you may not have immediately available.

Serving Cached Pages

One of the ways that AMP makes pages load so fast is that it allows Google to serve a cached version of an AMP-enabled page to users. The pages that appear in search results are held by Google, which means you’re not even serving up the content you originally created – it’s only a copy cached and stored elsewhere.

Implementation Is Not Straightforward

Though implementing AMP Project guidelines is designed to be user-friendly, conflicting information and consistent updating of the standard can make it confusing. Though some content management systems (CMSs), such as WordPress, have AMP-integration tools available, they often conflict with popular SEO tools like Yoast. Implementing AMP isn’t easy – yet.

Should I AMP or Not?

Most organizations that are not large are talking the wait-and-see approach, which is wise. Since Google hasn’t given out many clues as to the influence of the AMP Project on rankings, the risk may currently be too heavy for businesses that don’t have a backup plan.

But it’s not too early to start learning. We recommend finding out how the implementation process would work for your organization and weighing the resource cost to benefit if pros from our pro list apply to you. You may even consider creating a page or two to test in an AMP environment – it may be more telling than the sparse data that is currently available.

The Leverage Marketing team can help you build a remarkable content library worthy of high Google rankings, AMP or not. Talk to us to learn more!