Do Business Blogs Still Make Sense in 2019 and Beyond?

Remember when a “blog” was this cool and unique thing that made you stand out?

What connotation does the word “blog” carry for you now?

Everyone has one. Has it become sort of this negative term because basically the only reason you have a blog is to keep Google happy?

You know…you just churn out a bunch of words, get no customers or sales from it, and then do it again. Ugh! Curse that stupid blog! It’s just another time-eater.

But, blogs are still potent business-building assets in 2019. It’s just that the uniqueness factor isn’t what sells them anymore.

Today, more than ever, your blog must have usefulness to your audience.

How to Maximize the Sales You Get From Your Blog

Truth be told, it’s practically impossible to measure the precise sales value of your blog. That’s because blogs work as a step on the customer’s sales journey.

First they read your blog post. Then they subscribe to your email newsletter. Then they join your Facebook page or Twitter profile. Then they read another blog post.

Finally, since you’ve kept their attention by being so useful, that person becomes a paying customer. This process can take a year, and even two.

So how much responsibility does your blog have for that sale? Is it 25%, 35%, 50%, 90%, more?

It’s hard to measure. But, it certainly plays a role and keeps interest. And here are some tips on getting the most sales from your blog:

  1. Intimately Understand Your Readers

Just because you publish a post doesn’t mean your readers care about it one bit. Many blogs suffer from the problem of not winning any interest.

Believe it or not, it’s easy to figure out what to write about in your blog (or shoot a video about if you decide on a video blog).

What questions do customers ask you in person all the time? You hear the same ones over and over.

Or, just ask your customers in person. Just say,”What would you really like to know more about?”

Not every one of these ideas will be a smash hit. But each will carry utility for segments of customers. And that will draw more readers in and give you more data on what they like and don’t like.

  1. Share Customer Stories

“Facts tell and stories sell” goes the marketing cliche. Whether or not you like cliches, they contain a boatload of truth.

You can tell your customers all day long about facts that support the proof of your products or services.

…And they’ll yawn. They won’t act. And they certainly won’t buy.

Now, switch to telling customer stories on your blog from time-to-time.

Make sure you share the problem they had which led them to you. Discuss why they opted to go with you instead of competitors. Show how they used your product or service. And then share the results.

No need to write like you’re the next J.K. Rowling. Just tell the story. And watch customers roll in like crazy. Customers with the same problems and concerns will come to you. So, to access different market segments, simply highlight stories with varying problems and solutions.

It works. Just try it.

So yes. Your blog is a potent marketing tool. And putting these tips to use will generate the sales you want.

What to Consider Before a Major Website Redesign

Think it’s time to give your digital storefront a major overhaul?

It might be.

But before you do, think through these things first:

  1. What Do Your Customers Want?

You do need to be happy with your website. But ultimately, it’s more important for your customers to be happy with it. Because, they’re going to use it to evaluate whether or not they should do business with you. A website that makes you happy may or may not have the same effect for your customers.

Check out this graphic from Pingdom to see how bounce rate (the number of visitors who view just one page on your website and then leave) increases with the time it takes to load your website: So, you might like a neat feature. But, if it forces your website to load longer, there’s a cost. If you’re going to add a feature, make sure your visitors want it too.

  1. Do You Get the Sales You Want from Your Website?

Yes. It’s important for your website to look new and spiffy. An old website communicates to potential customers that you might no longer be in business. Or, they might think that if you don’t care about your website, you may not care about other important parts of your business too. Ultimately, you want your website to increase your sales, right?

Besides your website having an updated look, it needs to drive your customers to action – whether you sell products, services, or both. And there’s a myriad of design techniques to use to increase the number of visitors who buy from you.That’s where you have to work with your designer to implement the right enhancements for the products and services you sell.

  1. How Will Content Integrate Into Your Site?

Will your website have video, a blog, case studies, white papers, a podcast, and/or user-generated content?

You know your site needs content.You don’t need to have all of the above. In fact, just one form of the above will do. But, it’s important to understand your own strategy because that affects how you’ll design your site. Content presentation affects how much of your content your market consumes. And the more they digest, the more likely they are to become a paying customer. There’s actually much more to consider before you design your website. But those are some of the top things to think through.

Make sure you think about each before you design your website.

 

Does Your Website Use “Thank You” Pages?

“Thank you!”

It’s a globally recognized phrase that everyone appreciates.

You can’t say it enough. Is there ever a wrong time to say “thank you?”

And since the web’s merely an extension of real-life conversations, why don’t you see “thank you” pages more often?

Now, we’re not saying this just to improve your web etiquette.

Thank you pages also serve legitimate business purposes to deepen your relationships with your customers and turn more passers-by into ecstatic paying customers.

But how do you actually do that?

Learn from these examples:

  1. Thank Customers for Joining Your Email List

This is a prime time to give your customers an opportunity to buy. They’ve already expressed high interest in your company by signing up for your email list. It takes a lot of trust-building to get them to do that.

So, even though you offered your customers an incentive to join your list, give them another one with your thank-you page.

For example, offer them 50% off one product if they purchase in the next 24 hours.

Try different approaches because you never know which one works best.

  1. Offer Premium Content

This approach may work better for service-based businesses.

Why?

They typically have longer sales cycles that require more convincing and cajoling to sell. It’s harder to sell something you can’t see than something you can.

So, when a customer asks you to email them content, give them a thank you page that shows other related content that they may enjoy also.

This could be a video, podcast, ebook, guide, whitepaper, or whatever form the content may take.

  1. Use Written or Video Testimonials

Immediately after a customer fills out your email form to contact you about your services, you can redirect them to a thank-you page with social proof.

This could be a video testimonial, or a written testimonial, for example. The testimonial should give a clear explanation of the customer’s problem before using your product or service, and the results afterward.

If you use written testimonials, try to get an image of your customer also. That makes the testimonial more credible.

Anyway, this convinces the customer to a greater degree they made a smart choice and will get the result they want by choosing you.

You should have social proof throughout your website. And this is a particularly key time to show it.

So yes, saying “thanks” works. And remember to have a genuinely thankful attitude too.

Customers sense whether you appreciate them or see them as another set of dollar signs.

When you’re genuine, that keeps them coming back!

 

How to Create Sign-Up and Contact Forms That Win Customers at High Rates

Believe it or not, there is a science to contact and sign-up forms. Assuming everything else on your website is the same, you can get dramatically more (or less) customers depending on the design of your sign-up or contact form.

So what should you do or not do?

Well, it depends on your goals.

If you want to talk to as many customers as possible, for example, you make your form fast and easy to fill out. You use the fewest fields possible.

But, perhaps you want to talk to more of a certain kind of customer. This would most likely be the case for more business-to-business companies. Then, you make your form longer and include more fields.

Not only do you understand more about your customer, but only customers who really have a stronger interest in what you have will actually take the time to fill out the form.

So, you spend more of your time talking to the right kind of customer rather than weeding through and trying to find the one you want.

Let’s talk about some of the specifics:

  1. Less than 5 fields = more customers

Forms with fewer than 5 fields to fill out result in a nearly 20% conversion rate. If you’re business-to-consumer, cut your form to fewer than 5 fields.

  1. Offer Rewards for Signing Up

This works for both business and consumer customers. The incentive may vary, but the concept works.

In both cases, those who join your email list will become your best customers. Only people and businesses who really love what you do join.

In other words, lists are a reliable source of recurring profit (usually for years to come).

For consumers, you may offer a 10% discount on their next purchase, or free shipping. For businesses, you might offer content with exclusive data or a guide on how to get more value from your products or services.

With incentives, there’s actually dozens of approaches. And you never know which one works best until you test and compare.

What does not work is saying,”Subscribe to our blog!” or “Join our email list!” Neither motivates your website visitors in any way.

  1. Make Sure Your Form Allows Autofill

Regardless of the length of your form, the customer doesn’t want to waste their precious time filling out their information if they don’t have to.

Do you know how many times they do this a day?

So, make sure your form allows the browser to autofill information. It’s a small thing.

And in fact, all these suggestions are small. But paying attention to the small stuff makes a big difference with forms and the business you win from them.

The 4 Types of Search Intent (And Why It’s Important to Understand Each)

Should you rank for the keyword you want?

Well, that depends.

And fortunately, we’ll help you understand what that depends on.

Take a minute to learn about the four different kinds of search intent and why you’d target each:

  1. Informational Intent

Yep. This is the most common reason someone uses the web.

Searchers simply have a question. They want an answer.

These keywords have the largest search volume.

On your website, you target these types of searches with blog posts. You don’t want to sell yet.

For now, you just want to earn attention by being the best resource on the search (in comparison to all others).

  1. Navigational Intent

People search this way when they already have familiarity with your company.

They search this way to find a page that they can’t find by navigating manually.

They might search for your home page, a product or service page, or a contact page.

While you want to optimize for these searches just in case, you first should focus on making your own site so easy to navigate (and even to search from your site itself) such that people don’t need to do this kind of search.

  1. Commercial Intent

Despite the name, these searches don’t have 100% purchase intent. Instead, customers need a little bit more information before they finally feel ready to purchase.

Informational pages, like reports or blog posts, in addition to sales pages discussing your services, may be just the key needed to turn a visitor into a paying customer.

  1. Transactional Intent

At this point, searchers have 100% purchase intent. These searches focus on finding products or services that ask for the sale directly and immediately.

A transactional intent search for a product could be something like “Warby Parker men’s eyeglasses.”

However, an informational intent search for the same product could be “eyeglasses for men.” With that search, a consumer would likely be comparing and evaluating options.

For a service, a transactional intent search might be “North Texas Foot & Ankle podiatrist.” A search like that reveals the customer knows the company and wants to buy.

Commercial intent might look like this: “Dallas podiatrist.” Here, the customer will likely look at Google reviews, blog posts, and Facebook pages (and the reviews on those) to compare options and make a decision.

Where Should Your Page Rank?

Now that you understand the different types of pages, you can make decisions on how to construct the page so it meets the customer where they’re at psychologically.

Ask someone to buy when they search using an informational intent keyword phrase, and they get turned off and leave.

Give them the information they want – the very best you can offer – and they gain interest.

So, you have to look at each phrase you optimize your website for, and consider: what does the searcher really want when they enter that phrase?

It’s a never-ending process.

But it’s one worth mastering because you sell more when you optimize your site for machines and searchers.

 

How to Manage Your Brand’s Reputation Online

Your company has a reputation online. It works differently than in the real world. But, you can legitimately quantify your company’s name online.

You have all the review sites. Facebook lets users review your company. There’s all sorts of independent/niche review sites beyond the big names you know. You have what people say on Twitter and other social media sites.

Good (and bad) word about your company spreads fast. And of course, the actions online users take factor into how your site ranks.

So how do you stay on top of what people have to say about you?

Here’s how:

  1. Keep Running A Customer-First Business

You sow what you reap. Take care of your customers in the real world, and they’ll take care of you – online and off.

There is a huge benefit to frequent negative online reviews: you can find out about problems in your business fast. Before the internet, you had to wait for a customer brave enough to be honest…or until you reviewed your financials.

And there’s another huge benefit to poor reviews: you can quickly turn them into a huge win. Fix the problem publicly by telling the user how you’ll remedy the situation. That way, other users can see you care.

And when you have solved the situation to their liking, ask them to update their review of you. That scores huge points with other readers of the review because they now have the confidence you care about every single one of your customers.

  1. Earn Positive Reviews

Not all negative reviews can be corrected. Unfortunately, some customers just won’t follow through.

So your next best bet lies in earning positive reviews. Learn, from your customer’s perspective, what an exceptional service experience is like in your niche. Even ask your customers outright,”What could we do to deliver you a truly exceptional experience today?”

Then, follow up with them by email and give them direct links to the sites you want to land reviews on.

Follow up a couple times.

Those positive reviews will eventually bury anything negative anyone has to say about you. And assuming you change what led to those negative reviews, your reputation will only improve.

  1. Use Reputation Monitoring Software

Trying to monitor your reputation across all these different websites can be an exhausting nightmare.

No worry…software can come to the rescue! Top tools like Grade.us and ReviewTrackers centralize the tracking of your online reputation. At some point, for every business, it becomes impossible to do it on your own.

Try not to view monitoring and managing your online reputation as a pain-in-the-keister. Because, positive reviews, and fixed negative ones, help you attract higher rankings and more customers.

What you do always comes back to you. And now you know how to make sure good comes back your company as you manage your online reputation.