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Use Blogging to Generate Leads

September 16, 2015

use blogging to generate leads

Q&A with Dayna Rothman, the Director of Content Marketing at EverString.

In a recent blog post, you talk about helping “shape the story for the business.” How does storytelling translate to lead generation?

Storytelling and content marketing are a critical piece of lead generation.

In fact, I believe that content should be the basis of all lead generation campaigns that you run. As all marketers know by now, your buyers have changed.

They are not only self-educating along the buyer journey, but they also have extremely high expectations. Your buyers want a brand they can relate to — they want a brand that tells a story.

The more enticing your story and your content is, the more likely it is that people will give you their information. Then, you can use those stories to move buyers through their journey.

Note: read Dayna’s post, Creating a Category Through Storytelling: Why I Joined EverString

Tell us about what you cover in your book, “Lead Generation for Dummies”?

All aspects of lead generation for all different levels and company sizes. The book discusses everything from hiring a team, creating a lead gen strategy, to all of the different inbound and outbound lead gen tactics you should take, what metrics you should track, and more.

Note: Buy the book at Amazon, Lead Generation for Dummies.

Before Marketers start blogging for lead generation, what must they do first?

Marketers need to understand their lead gen goals as it pertains to the blog. How do they want generate leads? Through subscribers? By having visitors download content assets from your blog? Are you using your blog in outside lead gen campaigns? Once you figure out your goals, you can optimize your blog and individual posts.

What blogs do you read to help inform your own blogging?

Well, the Marketo blog of course! When I was there, we focused on optimizing lead generation through different avenues. I also love Copyblogger, MarketingProfs, and sites like Gawker and Mashable.

How do you measure the effectiveness of blogging to drive lead generation?

There are a few ways to measure effectiveness. You can look at blog subscriber growth, content assets downloaded from individual blogs, referral traffic, where do people go after reading your blog, etc.

B2B Blogger Meetup

Want to hear Dayna speak? In October in San Mateo, we’re holding a B2B Bloggers Meetup. Dayna will do a presentation on “Blogging for Lead Generation.”

Tell us what you plan to cover during your Meetup presentation?

I will cover how to think about lead generation when it comes to your blog. I will discuss how to optimize your blog and what different CTAs you should consider to collect lead information.

I will also talk about how to format your posts and what outbound campaigns you can use to drive traffic to your blog and increase leads.

Meetup Details

Everyone is welcome to attend and the Meetup is free. All of our Meetups take place in San Mateo, CA.

October 28, 2015 [Wednesday], 6:30-8pm: Blogging for Lead Generation, featuring Dayna

Hope to see you there!

Note: I originally published this post at LinkedIn.

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10 Things to Check Before You Publish that Post

July 20, 2015

blogging checklist

Wait! Before you hit “Publish” on your next blog post, consider using this ten point checklist.

1) ALT tags on your images

The ALT tag is used to describe (for search engines) what your image is about. This is particularly useful on image search sites, such as Google Images. If someone searches an image for “plastic container” and you’ve used the same term in your ALT tag, your page may get listed higher in search results. Readers won’t see your ALT tags unless they view the HTML of your post.

Helps with: Organic search traffic, including traffic from image search sites.

2) Add internal links

Browse your post for terms that relate to pages on your website (e.g. product pages). Hyperlink the phrase to the relevant page. I also like to use Google Analytics “UTM” parameters in the URL (e.g. utm_source, utm_campaign) so I can see how much traffic this “internal linking” drives. Search engines like sites that use internal linking effectively.

Check out this post by Brian Honigman on website metrics. You’ll notice that I inserted numerous internal links to relevant DNN product pages.

Helps with: Organic search ranking, page views per session, bounce rate (lowers it), time on site, conversion rate.

3) Embed related content

I check DNN’s SlideShare and YouTube channels to see if there’s any content directly related to the post. If there is, I grab the “embed code” from that site to incorporate the SlideShare or video directly into the post.

In this post by Steve Roth on Google Hummingbird, I embedded a case study from our SlideShare channel.

Helps with: Time on page and (possibly) conversion rate.

4) Have links open in a new window

I add (target=”_blank”) to my hyperlinks. This way, when a reader clicks on a link in my post, that link opens in a new browser window. I don’t want the reader to leave my post.

Helps with: Time on page, bounce rate (lowers it).

5) Spelling, grammar and syntax check

Once I publish a new post, I like to do one more read through it. Occasionally, I’ll find errors, which means that I didn’t do enough of a “QA check” prior to publishing. I like to do a final read-through before I hit the publish button.

Helps with: Reader trust, return visits.

6) Use H2 and H3 tags on headings

This item (number six in my list of ten) is using an H3 tag. Instead of merely bolding a heading, the use of these tags helps search engines understand the structure of your post. Use them.

Helps with: Search engine indexing, which may have a slight impact on organic search traffic

7)  Calls to Action (CTA)

Readers loved your post. What do they do next? Don’t strand them. Give them somewhere to go: a related post, a trial of your software, an offer to sign up for your newsletter.

In this guest post by Brad Shorr on website redesign, the call to action is to download a related eBook from DNN.

Helps with: Page views per session, bounce rate (lowers it), time on page, time on site, conversion rate.

8) Meta Description Tag

The meta description tells readers and search engines what your post is about. On social shares, this field is often pulled in to provide context. It’s also the text displayed (below the post title) in search engine results. I keep mine pretty brief: one sentence that captures the essence of the post.

Helps with: Traffic from organic search and social shares.

9) Image filenames

Similar to image ALT tags (covered above), filenames can be an important search engine ranking factor. Electric-toaster-oven.JPG is better than IMG20150496-lage.JPG, because search engines can figure out the former is a toaster. On the latter filename, they have no idea. So double-check that your images have well-understood filenames. If they don’t, then re-name the image file, upload the new image and delete the old one.

Helps with: Organic search traffic, including traffic from image search sites.

10) Confirm comments are enabled

It’s a recently debated topic: whether to allow comments on your blog. I vote “yes.” Let readers share their thoughts, while moderating inappropriate, profane or off-topic comments. I love to hear from readers, even if what they say hurts 🙂

Helps with: Reader trust, reader engagement, time on page, time on site.

Note: I originally published this to my LinkedIn profile.


Why Launching a Blog is Like Getting a Puppy

March 15, 2015

launching a blog is like getting a puppy

It was love at first sight from the moment you met.

You called your mom to tell her about it.

You emailed everyone you know, inviting them to visit. You’ve launched your organization’s blog. Exciting, isn’t it?

Yes, it is. But launching a new blog is like bringing home a puppy. Let’s consider the similarities.

1) Housebreaking

Puppies are adorable, except when they’re having accidents on your newly purchased Persian rug. As puppy owners know too well, the first few weeks (or months) are all about teaching your dog to do its number one and number two in the backyard or on the sidewalk.

With blogging, your first ten posts help you learn the features available in your blogging platform (e.g. image upload and placement, tagging, taxonomy, etc.) and master assorted blogging tactics (e.g. keyword usage, title selection, hyperlinking, etc.).

2) Frequent Walks

It’s 6AM and you’ve barely slept, but you need to walk the dog. Later that morning when you’re ready for a nap, the puppy wants to play. Your blog is not as persistent as your puppy, but a consistent posting frequency is important.

A consistent posting schedule builds a relationship with your readers. Whether you post once a week or once a day, readers will return at a frequency you’ve established. Your puppy, on the other hand, will return at random intervals.

3) Socializing Your Pet

It’s important for your puppy to be comfortable around people – and, for it to be well socialized among other dogs and pets. That’s why you bring it to family gatherings (once it’s house broken) and set up “doggie play dates” with friends and neighbors.

You’ll want to socialize your blog posts (I’d start with Twitter and LinkedIn, then Google+) and connect with influencers to make them aware of relevant posts. If you can get influencers to read and share your posts, then you’re doing something right with your blog content.

4) Regular Visits to the Vet

A puppy needs to make frequent visits to the veterinarian. The vet will examine your pup to give it a clean bill of health (along with some immunizations). With blogs, I like to ask friends and colleagues to review recent posts and give me feedback.

I ask folks inside and outside the industry, as I like to hear both perspectives. You can also hire consultants or content strategists to perform an audit and provide recommended changes. It’s great to get independent perspectives about your blog.

A Man’s (and Woman’s) Best Friend

Blogging really can be your organization’s best friend. You’ll achieve awareness and thought leadership. Over time, you’ll be able to connect your blog content to revenue. In other words: the puppy you used to walk each morning will now bring you the newspaper instead.

Visit the DNN website to have a look at the blog that I manage. After you visit, use the Comments area below to let me know what you think. Thanks!

Note: I originally published this post at LinkedIn, but thought I’d share it here as well.


10 Steps to Creating Blog Posts Your Readers Will Love

February 25, 2013

Blogs require ongoing care and feeding

Introduction

Blogging is like getting a puppy. You’re so excited the day you “bring it home.” You ask friends to come over and see it, then you snap pictures to share with the extended family. The next morning, reality hits, as you realize its needs to be walked at 6AM and find some accidents that it left you on the living room carpet.

In blogging, one of the most exciting moments is clicking “Publish” on your very first post. Soon, though, you come to realize that maintaining your blog (i.e. consistently churning out compelling blog posts) is like the family dog: it requires walks, love, nurturing, baths, brushing and visits to the vet.

To keep my blogging efforts going, I’ve developed a ten-step routine that I use to create each and every post. Here goes.

1) Find a topic.

This is the biggest blogging challenge for me. The more posts you publish, the bigger the challenge to find new things to write about. I’m quite discriminating with topics. The decisions you make with topics are closely linked to the overall quality of your blog. Lately, some of my topics have been driven by things I observe (and perhaps how they could be done differently or better).

2) Decide on a title.

I like to decide on the post’s title up front, because that guides the rest of the process. In the past, I paid a lot of attention to SEO-friendly titles (i.e. deciding on keywords I wanted to place in the title and where to place those keywords within it). These days, it seems Google is more interested in quality content. So I think in terms of key thoughts over keywords.

3) Assemble your thoughts: pen on paper.

Sketch out your blog posts on pen and paper

Pictured: here’s how I sketched out the outline for this post.

I find it extremely useful to close the laptop and assemble my thoughts on an old-fashioned notepad. Being “offline” helps me hone in on the key things I want to convey. The main objective is to map out the main themes of the post, rather than getting too deep in the weeds on any particular theme.

4) Take a break. Let it marinate.

Once the foundation is in place, go for a run, take a shower (or both). As I go off and do other things, the post will re-enter my mind and I’ll consider new ideas or new angles. This works quite well when I exercise. Then, go back to your trusty notepad and add the new ideas to your list. For my best posts, I’ve usually iterated via the notepad over a couple of days.

5) Find or identify the post’s main image.

The New York Times can get away with picture-less articles. Your blog can’t. Images are critical because they provide a nice balance (against all that text) and because they engage and sustain the attention of your readers. I like to use the clip art available in Microsoft Office and also search the Creative Commons area of flickr.

6) Ready to write? Use a word processor.

I compose my blog posts in Microsoft Word

I used to write my blog postings directly in WordPress. Now, I write them in Microsoft Word and it makes a big difference. Similar to “going offline” by using a paper notepad, writing in Word takes some pressure off me. For some reason, composing directly in WordPress made me more anxious. Writing in Word relaxes me. And, it helps me stay focused, since other browser tabs aren’t beckoning.

7) Look for additional images.

I like to avoid long blocks of text. It’s better (and more engaging for readers) to intersperse images throughout your post. So now it’s time to look for additional images that complement some of the main sections of your post.

8) On to your blogging platform.

adding-a-new-post-in-wordpress

OK, now that your post is done in your word processor, it’s as easy as copy/pasting it into your blogging platform. I like to embed hyperlinks in the word processor, so that all I have to do is format the headings (e.g. <h2>, <h3> and the like) and upload the images.

9-Tag and categorize.

Select the “category” for your post, then add a number of tags. Your blogging platform generates pages related to your categories and tags. Making relevant tag and category selections helps build valuable content pages that search engines love. As an example, here’s my category page for social media and here’s my tag page for Twitter.

10-Schedule, then promote (when it goes live).

I write my posts on the weekends, but like to wait until Monday morning to publish. So I schedule the post and have WordPress set up to tweet the link when it goes live. I’m also a member of a few Triberr tribes, which allows tribe members to tweet my post to their followers. After all the work you’ve put in to write a great post, it’s important to let others know. Sometimes, they’re too busy to see that you’ve just published a new posting.

Conclusion

There you have it: a blog post your readers will love. I followed this precise series of steps to write this one, in fact (hope you love it). If there’s one thing you remember from reading this, make it the important step of “going offline” when developing the post. Close the computer, use pen and paper, then do your writing in a word processor. Happy blogging!


2012 Blogging Review: It’s All Virtual

January 1, 2013

Introduction

I started this blog in late 2008 to write solely about virtual events. For the first two years, the posts I published were true to the blog’s name. Lately, though, the name has become a bit of a misnomer, as I’ve branched into a wide assortment of topics, from product marketing to social media to #GivingTuesday.

2012 In Review

WordPress generates an excellent annual report of blog activity. Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 30,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Top 5 Posts in 2012

Here are my top 5 posts in 2012. These didn’t necessarily receive the most page views, but are the posts I enjoyed writing the most. They’re listed in order of enjoyment:

  1. How The Westin Calgary (@WestinCalgary) Teamed Up with The Chef Table to Feed The Hungry
  2. How I Attended My 25th High School Reunion on Facebook
  3. What the San Francisco Food Bank (@SFFoodBank) Taught Me about Volunteerism
  4. How Social Media Can Create Lifelong Friends (That You Never Meet)
  5. So Just What Is Product Marketing?

Conclusion

Happy 2013. Thanks for visiting in 2012. Hope you return for more this year!


33 Blogging Lessons from Publishing 333 Blog Posts

October 4, 2012

Introduction

I recently published my 333rd blog post here at “It’s All Virtual” (this one is my 334th!).

It’s been a fun ride: thanks for coming along. In December 2012, this blog will turn four years old. So going with the theme of 3’s, I thought I’d share 33 lessons learned over my 3 (almost 4) years on this blog.

33 Blogging Lessons

  1. Blogging is a whole lot of fun.
  2. Your blog will be most effective if you write about what you’re most passionate about.
  3. When you think up ideas, write a few posts at once (rather than one at a time in sequence).
  4. Add social sharing buttons to your blog, so your readers can promote it on your behalf.
  5. Author guest posts on related blogs. It helps drive awareness of your own.
  6. Set aside dedicated, “turn off your devices and email” time for writing your posts.
  7. Place your blog’s URL in your Twitter profile.
  8. Configure you blogging software to tweet the link upon publishing.
  9. Tweet your blog content. Repeat those tweets later on, in case followers missed it the first time.
  10. Always respond to comments, even if they’re negative.
  11. Only delete comments that are obviously spam.
  12. Turn your blog into a book! There are a number of services that will do that for you.
  13. Turn selected blog postings (topically related) into an eBook. Publish the eBook on your blog.
  14. Use your blog as the foundation of your social media activities.
  15. Write once, publish many: turn blog content into videos, podcasts and webinars.
  16. Embed your YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations (and more) into posts. It’s so easy.
  17. Share selected blog postings with family members. They’ll get to know you even better.
  18. Use blogging to discover what you think.
  19. Ask yourself questions on your blog, then answer them. Why? It’s good for SEO. The question you ask yourself is the same term (question) someone may enter into a search engine.
  20. Keep a regular heartbeat to your publishing schedule. A blog that hasn’t been updated in weeks can be taken for dead, even when it’s not.
  21. Another reason to publish regularly: apparently search engines like that, so your SEO will be the better for it.
  22. Join a tribe on Triberr to help promote your posts.
  23. Invite the community to contribute relevant guest posts.
  24. Monitor blog stats regularly to help inform your future posts.
  25. When making cultural references, try to keep in mind that your blog has a global readership.
  26. You blog, therefore you are.
  27. Create a pinboard on Pinterest to feature images contained within your posts. This helps drive traffic to your blog.
  28. Publish contact info on your blog, as you may receive inquiries related to business or job opportunities.
  29. Think about SEO when crafting titles for your posts.
  30. Spend as much care and attention on your title as you do writing the post.
  31. Write your posts outside of your blogging software (I use Microsoft Word), then copy/paste in the text when you’re done. I find that this approach helps me focus.
  32. It’s OK to take a brief vacation from blogging.
  33. But, never stop blogging, it’s great!

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


Top Blogging Tips From … Influential Bloggers

February 6, 2011

Blogging Tips

Introduction

Blogging Success Summit 2011 (“The Web’s Largest Online Business Blogging Conference”) is in full swing.  We’ve identified recent blog postings on the topic of … Blogging Best Practices and wanted to share them here.

Heidi Cohen: Why Above-the-Fold Matters for Blogs

Heidi provides a great list of “16 Must-Have Elements to Put At Top of Your Blog” (above the fold).  I reviewed this list against this blog … and it seems I have some work to do!  The link to the article:

http://heidicohen.com/blog-above-the-fold/

Lisa Barone: A Quick & Dirty Legal Guide For Bloggers

If I could sum up Lisa’s post in a few words, it would be “blogging: be careful out there”.  Lisa provides a list of five myths and then provides details to dispel those myths.  Many of her points I had not considered.  The link to the article:

http://outspokenmedia.com/blogging/blogging-laws/

Joe Pulizzi: 10 Blogging Tips for Beginners and Experts

Joe shares the 10 tips that were included in his presentation at Blogging Success Summit.  I think I need to focus more on Joe’s #3 – “Less is More”, since I tend to go on and on!  The link to the article:

http://blog.junta42.com/2011/02/blogging-tips-beginners-experts/

Jeff Bullas: Are You Making These 10 Mistakes On Your Blog?

Jeff provides a list of 10 things you ought to have on your blog – the good news is, you can quickly and easily implement the majority of Jeff’s list right from your blogging platform’s dashboard.  I know that in WordPress, I can knock out many of these items quickly. So what are you waiting for? The link to the article:

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2011/02/03/are-you-making-these-10-mistakes-on-your-blog/

Conclusion

Even for those of us who have been blogging for a while, there are new things to learn, each and every day.


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