10 Article Ideas to Help Your Business Generate Fresh Blog Content

10 Article Ideas to Help Your Business Generate Fresh Blog Content

Starting a blog may seem like a lot of work, mostly because of the effort that goes into continuously producing content. However, there are a number of reasons why producing a blog will benefit your business in the end.

One of these reasons is that blogs help drive traffic to your website and could thusly improve your rank in search. Every time you write a blog, that’s one more page on your website that could get discovered on a search engine. That’s also more good content for you to post on your social media channels and other businesses to repost.

Improving your ranking in search will increase traffic to your website, which in turn could result in more qualified leads. Think of each blog post as an opportunity to generate new leads and include appropriate calls-to-action thusly.

Now that you understand the importance of having a blog, what in the world are you going to write about? Writer’s block can be a frustrating feeling, but here are 10 article ideas to help you and your business get a good start on content production:

  1. Top Posts: Combine all of your most popular blog posts in a “top posts” of the week, month, quarter and/or year. This content was highly viewed the first time you posted it, so why not post it again?
  2. Common Themes: Find common themes in your posts and rewrite list articles using info from (and linking to) these old posts. Whatever the theme is, your blog is sure to have a few overlapping articles. Combine these posts into a list and be sure to link to the original posts, for double the views.
  3. Question of the Week: Does your website have a Q&A section? Or do you get a lot of customer questions on your Facebook page? Highlight a “question of the week” from these sources and answer it fully in a blog post. Customer feedback is great content to repurpose because chances are if one person is asking about something, others are wondering about the same issue/topic.
  4. Link Roundup: Do a roundup of helpful links to articles and blog posts related to your industry from that week. This is a great way to not only track the competition, but find inspiration for blog posts. Collect these articles as the week goes on, then at the end of the week put them together in a blog post.
  5. Event Content: Do you attend or host industry related events? If so, the discussions that take place at these events can serve as great blog content. Recapping sessions or interviewing people at these gatherings will provide you with plenty of material to generate interesting blog posts. These posts could include personal testimonials, photos and videos of the event, and more. Be creative!
  6. Listicles: People love lists, and if you’re reading this article, you’re helping prove this point! Think of turning some of your article ideas or previous articles into lists that offer very quick and easy to digest takeaways.
  7. Guest Bloggers: If you know experts in your industry, coworkers, or anyone else who has the time and expertise to contribute to your blog, tap into that network for help. Keep track of regular contributors and how often they contribute, and reach out monthly or quarterly offering opportunities to write for your blog.
  8. Surveys: Conduct a survey and write about the results. Depending on your industry, you could survey customers about their questions, perceptions, interests, etc. Then view the survey results and write a series of blogs analyzing the data and what it means for your target audience.
  9. Industry Statistics: Track relevant industry statistics to share. You can make quick, simple graphics using these statistics and then link to relevant pages or other blogs on your website that expand on those stats. This kind of content also makes for great social media content as well.
  10. Ask Your Customers: When all else fails, ask your customers what kind of content they want to see more of on your site. Do they want more videos, articles, podcasts or something else entirely? What topics are of most interest to them? Listen to and fulfill your customers’ needs.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of ideas, so be creative. Also, look at what your competitors are doing and think of ways to do it better or with your own spin on it. How do you refresh your content when it is getting stale? Let us know in the comments below.

Want to Dump Your Marketing Partner? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions First

Want to Dump Your Marketing Partner? Ask Yourself These 5 Questions First

There is a tendency to believe that because you are working with a marketing partner, you don’t have to worry about your marketing at all. This is true, to an extent. You should trust your marketing partner to do their job, and do it well. After all, that is why you hired them.

However, while some providers add value immediately and you can see the results in calls, emails, store visits, etc., others might not be performing to your expectations or to the expectations they had set when you first started working with them. For this reason, small businesses must regularly check in on progress.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for the success of your company. So if you’re thinking about moving on from your current provider, here are five questions to ask yourself to decide if that’s the right decision:

1. Am I seeing improvements in key performance indicators (phone calls, emails, store visits, etc.)?

At the outset, you and your marketing partner should set key performance indicators (KPIs) like phone calls, website visits, website form fills, store visits, etc. If this wasn’t done in the beginning, it is extremely hard to evaluate the performance of a provider. Obviously, results will differ based on the campaign’s object (drive traffic to a website, make a purchase, like a page, etc.), which is why it’s crucial to set objectives early on.

For example, if you want to grow your following on Facebook, your marketing partner will make different recommendations compared to if you want to drive more phone calls to your store. Make sure your marketing partner knows what your digital marketing goals are. If the objectives were clear, but the results are underperforming, it may be time to seek other options.

2. Is my marketing partner regularly updating me on their progress?

Communication is key. Your marketing partner should be both transparent about and held accountable for their work. When starting your relationship, both parties should set expectations for how often communication will take place, and in what form. Will you have weekly phone calls? Monthly? Or will you communicate mostly via email?

You can also set up other methods of communication like Slack and Microsoft Teams to stay in touch. So if you’re considering moving on from a provider, evaluate your communication with them. How often do you talk? Do you know what they are working on right now? If the answer is “no” then you may want to reach out and reevaluate.

3. Does my marketing partner meet deadlines and deliver any on-going materials on time?

Do you have established due dates with your marketing partner, or a schedule for regular, on-going materials? If not, stop reading this article and give your partner a call. You should have established deadlines and content production quotas on projects so you know when and how much your partner does for you. If you do have established deadlines, and your partner is regularly missing them, then that’s another red flag.

4. Do I often receive unexpected charges from my marketing partner?

Price isn’t something you should ever be surprised by. If you hired a partner, the provider should have been completely transparent with what it costs to work with them. This is why contract agreements are important. Read them thoroughly and if you are finding unexpected charges coming your way, push back.

On the other hand, you may want to give your partner freedom to test strategies and new products or services. Either way, you should feel comfortable approaching your partner about these costs as they come along. A good marketing partner will walk you through these charges. If you don’t get this kind of transparency or you aren’t satisfied with the explanation from the provider, the provider might not be a good fit.

5. Am I frustrated with my marketing partner?

If nothing else, you should not feel frustrated every time you talk to your marketing partner. This is a sign that things might not be working out. If this is how you are feeling, take a minute to write down your thoughts. Why are you feeling frustrated? Is there a lack of communication? Seeing a lack of results? Do they fail to follow up when they say they will? Once you have this list, take it to your partner and express your concerns. If your concerns are met with resistance or anger or just ignored in general, it may be time for you to consider seeking out a different partner.

Hiring a marketing partner can be challenging. However, if you set the expectations, stay involved in the process to some degree and question what you don’t understand, you can get out of the relationship what you want.

Not sure whether or not you need a marketing partner? Consult this article to help you decide. When you are ready to begin “partner shopping,” visit the MarketingBitz Provider Directory.

Local SEO: Where Do You Begin?

Local SEO: Where Do You Begin?

“Siri, find a Chinese restaurant near me.”

Have you ever said something like this to Siri before, whether on the road or otherwise? No doubt, many of us have.

Consumers are searching for businesses and shops “near them” more and more often. Google has stated that these kind of searches doubled back in 2015 and in many cases “near me” is often implied. After all, a person in Detroit searching for “pizza” is likely uninterested in pizza restaurants in New York City.

Local search engine optimization (SEO) is the best way for you to reach these customers searching for you or businesses like yours. There are many tactics for improving your ability to reach consumers on search engines, but here are some DIY tactics for getting started:

Remove or edit incorrect or inconsistent information about your business that is found online. If your business information (company name, address, phone number, etc.) is listed in multiple places across the web, and these listings aren’t matching up, Google will have a difficult time deciding which information is correct which negatively impacts ranking for related searches. When this happens, your best course of action is to claim these incorrect listings and update them accordingly. For more information on removing or correcting duplicate content, read this Moz article.

Have a plan for acquiring and responding to customer reviews. One study showed that over 80 percent of people regularly consult online reviews in their searches. The quality and number of reviews you have, as well as the ranking of the sites on which your reviews are posted, can have an impact on your business’s ranking in search. Start by creating a listing on the most prominent review sites (Yelp, Google My Business, Facebook, etc.). Follow that up by engaging with customers on these platforms.

Keep your hours up-to-date. This includes updating your website with holiday and summer hours. Your hours, company name and address should remain consistent across web properties. If you need to change your business hours due to a holiday or season, be sure to update these across web properties. You don’t want someone finding your hours are different on Facebook compared to Google, or having to decide for themselves which hours are accurate.

Earn links to your website and link to other websites in return. Link building can be one of the most challenging tactics for improving your local SEO. Some sources will tell you backlinking is bad, some will say it’s good. The truth is, link building can increase your search ranking, when done the right way. The first step to building quality links is to create quality content worth linking to. Once you’ve amassed enough content, don’t just try and buy links, but spend the time necessary to build quality relationships that will help get you links. Connect with others on LinkedIn, attend local networking events, and more. Once you’ve built out your network, you can begin reaching out to others to suggest contributing content or in other ways linking to your website from theirs and vice versa. Relationship building is key when building links.

Though somewhat tedious, these are great ways to get started with local SEO, but there are many other tactics that can help boost your ranking. Continue to educate yourself on SEO, as the rules are always changing.

If SEO is not your thing or you don’t have the time, you can always work with a local partner to optimize your listings as well. View our Marketing Provider Directory to see who might be able to help you on your SEO journey.

The Digital Storefront: 5 Must-Haves for Every Business Website

The Digital Storefront: 5 Must-Haves for Every Business Website

A website is the digital storefront of any business. As consumers increasingly go online to find, learn about and engage with local businesses, websites can help move customers closer, or further away from making a purchase. Despite this, a recent study found that 29% of small businesses still don’t even have a website!

Whether you’re building a new website or updating your current one, there are critical elements your website needs in order to have the best chance of winning new customers. Here are five “must-haves” for any business website:

  1. Updated contact info. Old, incorrect contact info is the top reason consumers lose trust with your business. If you have a physical storefront, one way to resolve this problem is by including a map of your location somewhere on your website. Be sure to include your business name, phone number, address, directions and email address on your website as well, preferably on the front page or the contact page.
  2. Good imagery. You don’t have to use a professional camera for professional-quality photos. Most cell phone cameras are sophisticated enough now to take your business photos. When choosing photos for your website, consider what you want your customers to see: photos of your products, your storefront, your team, you, your customers, etc. All of this works, but consider what works best for your business.
  3. Mobile-friendly. 77% of Americans now own a smartphone. The smartphone has officially surpassed the desktop as the device most used to conduct online searches. For these reasons and more, your website now must be mobile-friendly. If it isn’t, people will abandon your website. If you are unsure if your website is currently mobile-friendly, you can use Google’s free tool to check.
  4. Clean design. If your website is too cluttered or difficult to follow, people will overlook it. You must carefully select the colors, fonts and other design elements that best represent your company. And don’t forget about whitespace! Whitespace is your friend: don’t be afraid to use it. Here are a few more design elements to consider when building your website.
  5. Customer reviews or testimonials. Word-of-mouth is one of the most trusted forms of advertising. Collect reviews you’ve received online and feature them prominently on your website. You can pull reviews from your Yelp page, your Facebook page and wherever else you collect them. Featuring reviews right on your website will help build trust between your business and potential customers.

Obviously, a strong website includes more than just the elements listed above. Some other things to consider include: load time and page speed, formatting, branding, social media integration, etc. In addition, it is important to explore search engine optimization (SEO) tactics in order to help your website show up when customers conduct related searches on search engines.

What other elements do you think are critical in a strong website? Tell us in the comments below!

For more insight and advice for building an effective business website, download our free report, How to Make a Great Website.

5 Ways to Refresh Your Social Media Content

5 Ways to Refresh Your Social Media Content

You know having a presence on social media, specifically Facebook, is important for your small business. You’ve heard it all before: 1.9 billion unique monthly users on Facebook, 2.8 billion active social media users worldwide, etc. If you are using social media for your business, you most likely are one of the 65 million businesses that has a Facebook Page.

When it comes to effectively managing these social accounts, many seem to think that simply posting content is enough. This isn’t the case, as made clear by the fact that the lifespan of a tweet is only 18 minutes. Social media is oversaturated with content, most of which is being overlooked by your potential customers.

How do you make yourself stand out from the competition on social media? Refresh your content! Post content that is not only interesting, but ultimately helpful in some way.

Here are 5 ideas for refreshing your social content:

  1. Repurpose relevant content. It’s ok to take ideas from other blogs when you’re running low. Obviously, you can’t just copy and paste someone else’s work and play it off as your own, but you can get inspiration from elsewhere. Here are a couple of tips on how to do this the right way, to prevent copyright infringement.
  2. Share quotes, motivational posts, etc. This type of content needs to be well-written, visually appealing and relevant to your audience. Don’t worry if you aren’t a graphic designer, or you don’t have one. It’s doesn’t have to be time-consuming to create a few simple graphics for your social media. There are many free tools you can use to develop visual content, such as Canva and Promo Republic.
  3. Offer exclusive, behind-the-scenes access. People want to know about the people behind your company, not necessarily just the products that you sell. Constantly writing posts about your products and services gets boring. Try writing about a fundraiser your coworkers are participating in, or posting a picture of your employees interacting behind the scenes. These kinds of posts are more fun and can give customers a taste of your business without doing direct promotion.
  4. Video is your friend. Try your hand at including videos in your social media strategy. On Facebook, video content ranks higher than text updates in the algorithm, therefor it is shown more often to your audience. You can even film these short videos on your smartphone and post them directly, or test out Facebook’s new live feature for a real interactive experience. Don’t be afraid to try something new!
  5. Engage in Twitter chats. Twitter chats are “organized online discussions” surrounding a specific topic and hashtag hosted by brands, agencies, business owners and industry experts. However, Twitter chats are not specifically reserved for these groups. Anyone can participate! Some guidelines for participating in a Twitter chat:
    • Find a chat that is relevant to your area of expertise. Don’t just jump into a chat where you don’t have valuable insight to contribute.
    • Follow the proper chat format. Answer a “Q1” with an “A1” and use the proper hashtags. Engage others in the chat, when possible. Start with a few chats and then engage yourself in more as you get the hang of it.
    • Don’t be salesy. Twitter chats are about learning and educating. Provide value and show your expertise and people can make their own decisions about whether they will work with you or not.

How do you keep your social media content fresh and exciting? Share your ideas with us in the comments below and for more social media tips and advice, click here.