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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Tips for Creating Great Marketing Content

great marketing contentYour writing needs to speak to your audience

If you want to communicate with people, you need to know who you’re speaking to. You need to focus on your target audience and put them first. Try to get inside their heads and understand what makes them tick. The tone of voice and the words you choose speaks volumes. So take time to make sure everything you publish is well thought through.

Everyone is a publisher these days, whether it’s a blog post, a video or an email. So it’s never been more important to ensure that the content you create is quality. Writing well is a skill, so in this guide we’ll look at what it takes to produce great written content.

Getting started – identify your target audience

As mentioned, you need to start by knowing who you are you writing for. Different audiences will respond well to different types of writing. Try to identify one or two audiences to target, as you can’t target everyone. Ask yourself:

  • Who will use your product?
  • What information do they need?
  • What language would they use when talking about your product?
  • Who is their tribe – who do they interact with?

Try to build up a mental image of the typical customer for your product or service. Use market research to help you create a clear picture of your target audience. Next, look at the actual words and what makes for content that surprises and delights people.

Tips for creating content that rocks

Business writing isn’t easy, and it takes practice to do it well. Your writing should be informative, helpful and authoritative, with a healthy dose of personality. And of course you need to also be able to get your message across. Here are some hot tips:

  1. Keep it real
    Write the way you would speak – be conversational and use the magical word ‘you’. What would you say to a customer’s face? Read your content out loud and pretend they are sitting across from you. Don’t be over-friendly or too familiar though, or you might lose some authority.
  2. Make your content bite-sized
    Little snippets of information are more likely to be retained in your readers’ minds. Aim for about 20 words per sentence and chunk your content into logical paragraphs and sections. The attention span of someone reading online is not that long. So you need to ensure you get your point across quickly.
  3. Focus on a theme
    Start with one or two related themes and stick to them. Focus will help you build up site authority, in the eyes of your readers and in search engine algorithms.
  4. Make it scannable
    Use short, punchy bullet points when it seems natural. Consider using numbered lists too. People love these because they’re easy to read and are memorable. Make sure you use easy-to-read design. It’s important you have enough white space around your text and avoid using distracting colours.
  5. Pitch at the right level
    Use language that’s suitable for your target audience. If your audience is large and diverse, use simple, familiar vocabulary and plain English. If your audience has a specific level of education you may be able to get away with more complex words.
  6. Use meaningful headings and subheadings
    Memorable headlines will encourage your readers to take note of what you have to say. For example ‘Bookkeeping’ is a pretty meaningless title. But ‘Basic bookkeeping to run your business’ tells the reader more about what they will be reading about.
  7. Build in keywords so your content can be found
    Know in advance which keywords to use to help with search engine optimisation (SEO). Incorporate these into your writing as you go along – don’t try to add them later. Not sure what a keyword is? Read our guide on SEO writing for small business.
  8. Test your writing in a reading app
    Use online readability tests such as read-able.com to see whether your writing is pitched at the right level. If it’s not, shorten the sentences, simplify the vocabulary and try again.
  9. Don’t duplicate your content on other sites
    You run the risk of being penalised by Google in search rankings if you post the same content on another site.
  10. Make it trackable
    Use tools and link shorteners such as bit.ly or goo.gl to help track your readers. You’ll be able to find out where they come from, where they go, which articles are popular and which are not. This will help you create good content.
  11. Make it easy to share
    Use social media buttons to make it easy for readers to share your content. Target top social networks and actively try to spread the word about your business. Spend 15 minutes a day highlighting your content on social networks and let your work contacts know.

Why Focus for E-commerce Business is Neccessary?

It happens all the time. When building a new online business, many entrepreneurs become scattered and distracted in both strategy and execution, trying to move in too many directions at the same time. This lack of focus ends up causing a lack of real movement for the business in any one particular direction and can ultimately lead to failure.

In this post we’ll explain exactly why focus is so important for you and your online business. You’ll also learn three critical elements of your business that you absolutely must have focus in as well as how to achieve it.

Let’s get right into it.

Why Is Focus Important?

More than likely, you understand that focus is important. You’ve probably been told that most of your life after all. However, when starting a new online business, entrepreneurs tend to forget about focus.

The problem is that a lack of focus leads to scattered resources. Devoting time, energy and money to multiple strategies and marketing channels at the same time leads to none of them being executed well. It’s just not possible. On a daily level, a lack of focus leads to wasted time. All of this in turn leads to frustration, lack of progress for the business and ultimately failure.

The Case for a Singular Focus

Alex Ikonn, founder of Luxy Hair says that “A singular focus is the most important thing in business”. Right from the beginning, Alex and his partner Mimi executed an extreme amount of focus. When they launched their hair extension business in 2010 they made a deliberate decision to only carry a narrow product range. Instead of having many multiple lengths, weights and colors, they focused on a very tight range of products that would satisfy the majority of the market.

What’s more was their laser precision focus on marketing. Sure they read all the marketing advice out there that told them they need to advertise with Google Adwords and Facebook Ads amongst a host of other channels, but they identified one channel where they felt their efforts would make the most impact. Focusing solely on YouTube as their marketing channel, Alex and Mimi built Luxy Hair’s YouTube channel to more than 2.2 million followers.

Alex definitely isn’t the only one. The founder of Bonobos, Andy Dunn also makes his case for having a singular focus in his blog post, Get One Thing Right, saying:

“A lot of brands don’t make it because in the process of trying to get many things right, they don’t get anything right. Why are they in such a hurry?”

It’s clear that a focused strategy has its advantages. Let’s take a look at how to achieve focus in your business.

3 Critical Elements of Focus For Ecommerce Businesses

To achieve extreme focus for your business there are three major areas to consider. The overall strategy for your business, campaigns and initiatives for achieving your overall strategy and finally the daily activities and tasks associated with executing those campaigns and initiatives.

All three of these areas are connected and each area requires focus. Let’s take a look at some of the most important elements of each area to consider:

Overall Strategy (Changes Rarely)

The overall strategy is the big picture and the ultimate direction as well as purpose of the business. This is usually something that doesn’t change unless you are making a major market shift and pivoting. Within the overall strategy, there are two major elements that need to be considered in particular:

Focus on your unique value proposition – Consumer have dozens if not hundreds of other online destinations they could choose instead of you. So, why should they buy from you? That’s the question you need to answer as you start formulating your unique selling proposition.

Focus on product/market fit – We recently discussed product/market fit on the Shopify blog, but your product/market fit might just be the most important element to focus on, especially early on. Focusing on this alone in the early stages of your business can mean the difference between success and failure.

Campaigns & Initiatives (Changes Every Few Weeks/Months)

Campaigns and initiatives support your overall strategy and goal. A lack of focus here can lead to a lot of wasted time and money in scattered marketing channels and campaigns.

Focus on one marketing channel – One of the biggest faults of being unfocused in your marketing is never giving each marketing channel a fair shot by not dedicating enough time, energy or money and giving up too early.

Whether it’s search engine optimization, search engine marketing, Facebook Ads or pitching bloggers, they all require a really solid effort, some time to show results and sometimes money.

Particularly when first starting out, prioritize and choose your marketing and social channels selectively based on what you think will work best (based on product/market fit). Make sure to give each one a fair shake by devoting enough time, energy and money before moving onto the next channel.

Focus on one metric of measurement – How do you measure your business? Multiple measurements when first starting out can lead you in many different directions and leave you scattered. Choose one metric to focus on. This metric may change over time however, focusing on one metric gives you a definitive and persistent goal you can work towards and gauge your progress every single day and week.

Tactics (Changes Daily/Weekly)

Your daily and weekly focus will include tactics and activities that fall in line with achieving your campaigns and initiatives, as well as your overall strategy.

Business Marketing LinkedIn Tips

If I were forced to choose between using only one social networking site for my business, from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social networking sites, I would choose LinkedIn, hands down.  I still love these other social networking sites, but LinkedIn is by far the most powerful for your business and career.

Why LinkedIn Is #1

With the average household income per user hitting $109,000, which is much higher than Twitter, Facebook, and the other social networking power houses, you know you are dealing with people who mean business.

Being that it is the largest business networking site in the world, there is a mindset shift when users log on to LinkedIn compared to logging on their cousin sites, Twitter or Facebook.

The mood changes, the messages are more professional. Conversations are geared toward partnerships and transactions, as opposed to how funny you looked in your birthday pictures, and everything is centered around advancing careers or building businesses.

LinkedIn Means Business

Everyone talks about the power of Facebook ads (I’m not discounting how dynamic they can be; in fact, I’ve had great success using them myself), but the LinkedIn ad platform is even more powerful considering the demographic is made up of decision makers.

My point being, if you aren’t using this powerful site to market your business yet, then it’s time to start taking it more seriously and step your game up.

There are a number of ways to market yourself and your business online, but here are 10 LinkedIn tips that will drastically increase your marketing potential:

1.  Complete Your Profile

Your profile is the heart and soul of your online business brand.  It usually ranks in the top 5 of Google search results for “Your First and Last Name”.  When others do a search for your name to learn about your product, service, company, or previous work experience, then you’d better have a rock solid profile or that first impression could drastically tarnish your value.  Make sure you fill out your profile 100% for starters, then go on from there to make it sexier.

2.  Connect With Everyone

A number of LinkedIn newbies or purists will say, “You should only connect with those you already know and trust, so you can make recommendations to others when they want an introduction.”  Believe me, I understand where these users are coming from, but how do you expect to expand your opportunities and options when you shut off communication to the rest of the 85 million plus members on LinkedIn?

Think about it, you already know all of the opportunities that your closest connections can share since you talk to them more frequently.  It’s time to use LinkedIn like a live networking event and introduce yourself to others, make new friends, and start helping more people connect.  Also, start accepting invitations to others who add you, as the more connections you have, the larger your expanded network grows which helps create more opportunities in the long run.  Here are six other reasons you should connect with everyone on LinkedIn.

3.  Customize Your Websites

This is a basic thing that everyone should do.  It’s simple.  Creating a call to action attracts more attention then having a generic link that says “My website”.  Make it look and sound sexier so when people come to your profile they feel inspired to click on your links and go back to your website.

4.  Be Compelling

I have a huge knot on my forehead from falling asleep on my desk in mid-browse when looking at LinkedIn profiles.  Most of them are extremely boring and showcase zero personality or compelling attributes.  Add an interesting story in your summary, have a video recommendation pop up in the first few seconds, or at the least tell people who you are, who you help, and how you help them so there is some direction for people when they land on your profile.  Whatever you do, liven it up a little so the bump on my forehead can go away 🙂

5.  Recommend Others

I’m a firm believer in giving and helping others succeed as much as you possibly can.  The more you give, the more you will receive.  Recommending others without them asking you to is a great way to help increase the social proof on their profile, which could be the difference between an OK year, and a great year for them.

6.  Join Targeted Groups

LinkedIn groups, LinkedIn groups, LinkedIn groups!  It doesn’t matter what industry or business you are in, this the part of LinkedIn you should be focusing the most.  There are benefits to both joining and being a part of niche-related groups, and also being the owner of them.

I feel blessed to be the owner of many powerful groups.  Many have over 10,000 members, and one more than 32,000 members.  Think of them as independent social networks where you can spread your message, connect with key partners, and take your business to another level.  Want more?Here are my top 10 reasons to start a LinkedIn group.

7.  Connect With Twitter

I sometimes find that I get more comments and interaction on LinkedIn from the same update I published on Twitter.  The updates (even when synced from Twitter) seem to “stay on top” longer than they would in your Twitter stream.  The more interaction you get, the more others see it as well (it’s similar to Facebook in this regard).

Make sure to connect your Twitter account to LinkedIn.  Others talk about why this is bad because a lot of your messaging won’t be targeted for your LinkedIn audience (especially when you use “@” symbols and hashtags), but for the most part, my message is staying at the top of mind for my connections on LinkedIn and for me that’s a powerful thing.  Want to clean things up?  Just use the #in with a Twitter update and it will sync to your LinkedIn account when there is a specific message you want members to see.

8.  Add Your Company Profile

LinkedIn is constantly enhancing its platform and one of the things that has been lagging, until recently, was the company page section.  Now, it allows you to add a video, share more information about your products and services, and give more insights about your company and the people working there.

9.  Optimize Your Search Ranking

People are constantly searching for others on LinkedIn.  They are looking for employee candidates, freelancers, industry experts, and so on.  Why not optimize your profile to help you be found and contacted by more people looking for what you specialize in?  Wouldn’t it be nice to get a flood of people emailing or calling you to sign up for your services or products?  Make sure you increase your ranking on LinkedIn by following these 5 steps.

10.  Add Advanced Applications

I love the fact that LinkedIn has rolled out a number of applications to help you promote your business or your personal work better.  It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, there is an application for everyone that can help you get your message across better, and improve the overall experience of your LinkedIn profile.  Go to the applications section on your profile to see which ones you could start using today, and make the most out of the new ones that come out in the future.