Zerys for Agencies Blog

Killer Strategies for a Perfect Landing Page

Posted by Nancy M Ruff

shutterstock_179853431.jpgMarketing dollars spent on PPC ads, email marketing and social media to improve lead generation and conversions are never wasted, but what really matters is where those leads end up when they click on your ad or email link. If they find themselves on your site’s homepage, it may be time to consider that a greater part of your marketing budget should be devoted to landing pages. Landing pages focus on one thing: converting visitors into leads, which results in a higher ROI. To be sure, home pages serve an important function, but it isn’t serving as a portal to landing pages. With consumers’ demand for speed growing every day, that’s one click too many.

Your site has only a matter of seconds to make a great impression and convince prospects to stick around long enough to convert. Maximize the likelihood of that happening by developing a landing page content strategy that not only strikes a chord with your audience, but offers them a value-driven solution to the need that sent them searching in the first place.

Landing Page Design

There’s no magic formula or one-size-fits all template for the perfect landing page. The most effective landing pages are those that meet their objectives. Those objectives will differ from brand to brand, and consumer to consumer. Every landing page on your site should be treated as a unique silo, addressing a single question or need, and its content should speak directly to your users. Search engine ranking is a worthy objective, but your ultimate goal is conversion, not page views. With that in mind, your landing page content strategy begins to come into focus.

Landing Page Content Designed to Convert

If you’re looking to design a landing page that will offer your audience real value and increase conversions, there are some common rules of thumb you can follow. Remember, even after you complete your first “killer” landing page, you’ll need to continually test variations of it if you want to consistently improve your conversion metrics.

  • Headlines and Ads

1960’s advertising guru David Ogilvy said “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” It makes sense, then, that your primary and secondary headlines need to jump off the page and convince your leads to read on. Until they do, the time and money spent on the remaining content may all be for naught. Your headlines are the first impression you get to make, and we all know that first impressions can make or break a deal. Make them clear, concise and compelling.

  • Clean Copy

Strong, converting landing page content relies on careful word choice and readable sentence structure. Readers want copy that is visually palatable, and it’s your role to feed them what they’re hungry for. Once your awesome copy is written, edited and formatted for easy digestion, go back and carefully proofread what you’ve created. Your site’s landing pages are designed to convince readers to give you their personal information or make a purchase. They will be far less inclined to do so if your content is riddled with errors.

  • Buttons and Calls to Action

The most effective buttons and calls to action stand out by being big and bright, appear “above the fold,” and call attention to the keywords prospective leads are looking for, such as “free,” “buy,” “download,” etc. Don’t underestimate the power of your CTA button—it represents the tipping point between bounce and conversion. No matter what you ask someone to do on your landing page, they need to use the CTA buttons to do it. Make them shine!


From simple tweaks to bold optimization changes, your brand’s landing page content strategy should never lose sight of the user’s experience. Search engine algorithms themselves are focused on a better user experience. Google's own mission statement sets this out: “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Learning to write persuasive landing page content is essential if you’re going to maximize conversion of leads through inbound marketing techniques like SEO, AdWords and social media. As always, there are exceptions to every rule, but these guidelines should get your landing page content strategy off to a good start on the road to higher ROI and more impressive conversion numbers.

Developing and Adjusting Buyer Personas for Your Clients

Posted by Don Musacchio

shutterstock_237047554-1.jpgBuyer personas are a central piece in a content marketing strategy. These profiles of your ideal customers help you to determine the best content to attract people that fit your profile who are searching the Internet for information. The more you can focus and refine your buyer personas, the better your marketing will be. That is why it is important to develop good buyer personas when you get started with content marketing. It is also important to adjust these personas as you go so that you can improve the results of your marketing.

What Is a Buyer Persona

Your buyer personas represent the customers that you want to target. A buyer persona will list important demographic information about your ideal customers, but more importantly it will identify the problems, needs and desires of these people. Then you can create targeted content that helps solve problems and fulfill desires for this group.

For example, if you are a personal trainer, you may have a few distinct groups of customers. Some people may be in great shape and want a real challenge to go to the next level or compete in a sporting event. Others may want to get back in shape and need a push to get started. Men and women may have different approaches to fitness. You want to make sure you develop buyer personas to reflect these differences.

The key question is how to develop and adjust these buyer personas for your own business. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Past Experience

One good place to start is your past experience. You know your customers, so you can start to develop profiles of the key types of customers for your business. You know what problems they have that you can solve or any desires that you can fulfill. These are good initial guesses, but you will probably need to improve on these as you continue to create content and develop data on your marketing efforts.

You can also ask your sales teams about your customers. They deal with customers everyday, so they know what their frustrations, hopes and dreams are. They understand what the key objections are for your products or services. And they know what the initial assumptions are about your customers. This is a place to begin developing buyer personas.

Market Research

If you have a budget that allows it, you can conduct market research, obtain data on your customers and build buyer personas based on this data. This is a great way to refine your buyer personas beyond an initial guess based on your past experience. You may have to outsource this work to marketing experts, so it may require a significant investment. The cost involved may be worth it because a more focused buyer persona will yield more conversions from prospects to customers due to your effective content strategy.

  • You can use focus groups to gather information. These are small groups of people with common characteristics who participate in a guided discussion about a product or a service. The results of this discussion provide valuable insights into what content will best attract this group.

  • Ethnographic research is also important for developing buyer personas. This research uses face-to-face interviews and observations of people in their natural environments to draw conclusions regarding future behaviors. Ethnographic research will observe the behavior of your potential customers to tease out their pain points. You can then develop a content strategy that these customers will respond to.

  • You can also rely on traditional market research to provide data for your buyer personas.

Ask Your Customers and Prospects

You can get some great information from your current customers, from people in your funnel, and even from people who looked at your business but did not make a purchase. Create a survey to gather information and offer some kind of incentive or coupon for filling it out. There are lots of questions you can ask your customers, but you want to focus on how your business can solve their problems.

Another way to look at your customers is based on the analytics of your website. You can find out a lot of demographic information from your analytics. You can see the social profiles of people who are currently interacting with your website and social media presence. This can give you a lot of information about your prospects.

Planning Out an Editorial Calendar for Your Clients

Posted by Nancy M Ruff

shutterstock_320757608.jpgWhy not make a New Year’s resolution that’s actually pretty simple to achieve and results in improved, high-quality content for your clients? According to a recent study put out by the Content Marketing Institute, content marketers report that they continue to struggle with creating engaging content. One of the best ways to overcome this challenge is by whipping your clients’ editorial calendars into shape. The benefits to doing so are tremendous:

  • You know far in advance the content topics you need to cover and the dates they need to appear.
  • You can track possible connections between content.
  • You’ll see what content can be repurposed or spark ideas for new content.
  • You will ensure you’re including key information in the content such as SEO, etc.

Planning an Editorial Calendar

Each editorial calendar you create will differ depending on the type of content your client needs, and what they consider is important to track. Many content marketers find it helpful to have two separate editorial calendars: one that serves as a master, at-a-glance scheduler, and another that tracks specific activities. If you use Excel for your editorial calendars, you can achieve the same goal by setting up multiple tabs.

From Humdrum to Brilliant

The best editorial calendars are those that coordinate ideas from every department in a company. Plan a brainstorming session and from the results create a roadmap to integrate the diverse ideas into one cohesive marketing strategy. Here’s how to make that happen.

Target Key Dates

  • Track events, holidays and seasons, and if your audience is a global one, be sure to include those dates as well.
  • Use a site that lists fun, unusual or obscure “national days” to help plan unique content. Lists like these will also yield celebrations or observances that directly apply to a client’s line of business.
  • Think about how you can repurpose content. Look for connections throughout your editorial calendar and look for ways to tie blog posts together, or better yet, create a white paper or eBook based on one particular event or a topic series.

Go Green

Here, we’re talking about evergreen content, a key component in any marketing endeavor. Not every item in an editorial calendar needs to be time-sensitive. Evergreen content allows some breathing room in the content creation cycle and can help secure your client’s reputation as a useful and knowledgeable year-round resource.

  • Take a look at where gaps appear in the editorial calendar and use those times to schedule publication of evergreen posts.
  • Create timeless copy that can be used repeatedly and that attracts links: tutorials, FAQs and how-to guides are all great evergreen content that only require occasional updates.
  • Track the impact evergreen posts have and regularly re-post those that get the most interaction.

Consider the Audience

Don’t lose sight of the reason for creating an editorial calendar in the first place: to gain readership and convert potential leads into long-term customers.

  • Content marketing is first and foremost about providing a service to your audience. If a brand is looking to position itself as a thought leader, it needs to know who its readers are and what they want. It then needs to deliver material that is of value to those readers.
  • Plan an editorial calendar that focuses on what will most appeal to and entertain the audience. If humor works for a particular client, use it, but space it out for best effect. If a client operates on a seasonal calendar (think fashion retail), create themes that keep that in mind.
  • Keep it fun for the reader and never forget that it’s the audience who determines a company’s success or lack thereof.

A Roadmap to Success

Great content that produces real results takes time and preparation, so make sure an editorial calendar reflects the amount of time it will take to create each element, such as writing and editing. It can be quite the juggling act, but if you make sure everyone is on the same page you’ll find you develop a system that keeps content production on track.

As in all things marketing, content creation can be unpredictable. Last-minute updates, guest posts, viral moments or outside events all can force changes to the best-laid editorial plans. To plan for such surprises, leave some space in the editorial calendar to accommodate them.

Editorial calendars are a great tool that will set your clients up for success. Those who make the time to plan and execute a content publication schedule are far more likely to succeed.

Tags: content plan, editorial calendar, content planning, content calendar

Social Media Marketing: A New Approach for 2016

Posted by Nancy M Ruff

shutterstock_225264403.jpgReally, is there anything left to discover or discuss about using social media for marketing? You bet there is! There are always fresh approaches to experiment with and new ideas to put into practice. And while social media is not the only marketing game in town, it’s an important one to play. Whether you need to try something new, or take a look at how well what you’re doing now is working to best position your brand, resolve to begin the New Year with a reinvigorated enthusiasm for using social media as a part of your marketing campaigns.

As we get ready to call it a wrap on 2015, let’s take a look at where we’ve been and where we’re headed in the world of social media marketing. As the numbers show, it's still a very big deal and will only continue to grow in the coming year.

The Numbers

In 2015, peer-to-peer online reviews took a big leap in what influences consumers. A recent survey of over 21,000 active social media users found that 83% of shoppers say they discover new products and services every month through social media before any other source. Sixty-seven percent say they always or often use family and friends’ online recommendations when researching a purchase. Combine those statistics with the even larger and more impressive global numbers and it becomes clear that in the coming year Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook will be joined by up-and-coming players like SnapChat to further position themselves as important marketing platforms.

For 2016, your business should, at a minimum, be using social media to do one or all of the following to establish and grow your brand recognition, gain qualified leads and improve customer relationships.

Focus on Desire and Keep it Simple

Are you familiar with the “law of least effort?” Psychologist Daniel Kahneman wrote about it in his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” The theory put forth by the Nobel Prize-winning author is compelling: when given several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action.

To master the art of appealing to your audience’s desires in a simple way, use some basic psychology to win them over. Start with thinking about each reader as a real human with a distinct personality, not simply a lead in a funnel. If you want to build relationships that lead to more engagement and higher profits, your readers will need to believe you truly care about helping them overcome a problem or succeed at a desire. Make the process move quickly and easily by breaking down your content into easy-to-handle pieces of information.

Provide the “Why” Answer

People love discovering the why of something. In keeping with the Psych 101 analogy, the word “why” in your marketing content is a great way to connect with your leads, igniting their brains to want to know the answers. Have your content communicate to these knowledge seekers two key motivators:

  • Why they need your product or service; and
  • How they’re going to get it by reading your content, using your product or watching your video

Build Real Relationships

If you truly want to know what makes using social media for marketing work, it is keeping your focus on building genuine relationships with your audience. It isn’t enough to just post links to your site. It isn’t even enough to say “check out my new article.” You need to get creative and make people want to click on that link! The more you engage with your audience in an authentic way, the stronger the bond with them becomes. The ability to build solid relationships and work the emotional connections you make is what will make social media deliver the results you’re seeking.

There will always be those businesses that chase the big numbers, focused on getting as many followers as possible. Let them. Your task is to start thinking of your audience as a community, and your job is to tailor your content to inform, excite and inspire them. While doing so, always keep in mind the mantra that the value of your community is not tied into the size of your following.

When using social media for marketing, keep your eye on the real prize: gaining more meaningful relationships that translate into loyal, returning customers who become valuable referrers. If there is only one thing you put into practice for 2016, make it getting a handle on effectively integrating your community’s ratings and reviews.

5 Content Analysis Steps You Should Be Taking

Posted by Rebecca Geller

shutterstock_264219905.jpgYou developed a content strategy, created unique content and disseminated it to your target audience. Now what? Many companies get caught up in the actual implementation of their content marketing efforts and forget that the end stage of content analysis exists. Do you want to make your entire content marketing strategy more effective and focus your efforts where they are really needed? Then you need to take these content analysis steps.

  • Look at the Clicks

How many clicks your content generates is an important piece of information to know. Analytical data on social media websites and Google will tell you how many engagements and clicks are associated with a particular post or link. If you notice that some content gets little or no views, you have two choices. You could decide to either remove the content from your website or take your social media and blog posts in a different direction. If you feel that the reason for the low interaction has to do with lack of visibility, the solution would be to find ways to put the content front-and-center.

  • Make It Easy to Understand

One of the problems with analytics is the fact that the data can be difficult to understand for people who are not familiar with what it all means. If you can find a dedicated person in the company or a consultant who can translate analytics into plain English, this can help you make an action plan for improving your content marketing efforts.

  • Take a Peek at Your Competitors

If you're struggling with whether or not your content is appropriate in relation to your particular business, a great solution is to take a look at the content that your competitors are generating. While you won't have access to their analytics, you will be able to analyze the types of topics that they address. If your competitors are active on social media, light analytical information including the number of likes, shares and comments can be accessed publicly.

  • Make Content Analysis a Part of Your Day

Companies that do recognize the importance of content analysis do not always take this step as often as necessary. If you are looking at the data just once a week, or even worse, once a month, you're not going to get an accurate picture of when and why people may not be paying attention to your marketing strategy. Analyzing the performance of your content can be as easy as doing a quick check on the pulse of your social media posts and published content. Even if you take just 15 minutes a day to review how your content is performing, you have the opportunity to find out whether certain posts prompted people to sit up and take notice or head for the hills.

  • Take Action

All of these steps are great, but they won't produce results if you don't take action. When analyzing content, it is important to take away some key points about performance and convert those points into a plan of action. For example, if you notice that a particular topic related to your business is trending, you will need to have unique subjects, images, text or videos related to the topic generated.

Content analysis is an often-overlooked component of a comprehensive content marketing strategy. If you're wondering why your content isn't producing the traffic, leads, and conversions that you anticipated, try taking the steps outlined above to find out where things are going wrong.

Hit the Marketing Bulls-eye With Targeted Buyer Personas

Posted by Nancy M Ruff

It’s essential marketing 101: know your customer. If you’re already well-established, you have a wealth of analytics to help you define who your current audience is, which can then help you target similar users or narrower, niche subsets. If you’re just getting started, you need to be clear on who your target audience may be so that you can tailor your campaigns to it. In both scenarios, creating comprehensive buyer personas is crucial.

What is a Buyer Persona?

Much more than a simple profile of the audience you want to reach or influence, effective buyer personas tell you what prospective leads are thinking and doing as they search for a solution, be it a product or a service, to a problem they have. Actionable buyer personas are not your audience as you define it, but are constructed from the real words of real people who are looking to your company to meet their need. They reflect each user’s unique attitudes and criteria, which then gives you valuable insight into what your audience is thinking. That, in turn, allows you to align your marketing choices with your buyer’s expectations.

To best understand what a buyer persona is, it helps to have a solid understanding of what attributes define such personas. The Buyer Persona Institute provides the well-known 5 Rings of Buying Insight for Buyer Personas, a great guide that will help you effectively pin down your own buyer personas, especially when it comes to creating content.

How to Use a Buyer Persona in Marketing

You may cry “But, I want everyone to buy my product!” It’s an admirable goal, but unrealistic at best, and a waste of precious time and money at worst. Even the biggest brands out there today have their niche audiences.

When it comes to content marketing, buyer personas are critical if you want to connect and engage with your targeted audiences at a personalized level. In order to succeed, your brand must speak to each specific person. There is no one clear-cut solution, as each buyer persona may be drawn to different content that will influence them in their buying decisions. Examples of content that can be used might include:

  • Brand awareness content that will help your targeted buyer personas understand not only your brand, but the products and services you offer and how they will enrich their lives
  • Educational content that establishes you as an authority and informs your targeted audiences about the varying aspects of your products or services
  • Content for promotion of your products and services that also encourages sales, which is necessary to convince your targeted audience that what you offer is exactly what they need

How to Develop Buyer Personas

Before fleshing out your buyer personas, you’ll need to calculate how many general target customers you already have, or hope to have. Once identified, you can then start to use certain demographics to fully form your personas. Those identifying traits may include things such as age, gender, profession, education, income and online search and shopping habits. Remember, a truly effective persona will be based on data, not guesswork or assumptions. One of the best ways to do this is through online surveys, and if possible, follow-up interviews. While it’s important to understand those buyers who have already made a purchase, it’s at least equally important to understand those who haven’t. Identifying where in the cycle you lost the non-buyer is crucial to building your base.

It’s easy to think only in terms of your potential customer, but if you take the time to also create negative buyer personas, you’ll gain the advantage of weeding out the people who won’t be your customers. Understanding who you don’t want to target is just as important as who you do, because it will help you realize a lower cost-per-lead and increase your sales productivity. In other words, to get to your optimal target group you need to recognize who doesn’t belong there.

When you’re ready to begin creating your buyer personas, the good people over at Hubspot have a great buyer persona template you can use, as well as a handy buyer persona word doc generator. Happy targeting!

Why Local Search Matters

Posted by Robin Kastengren

If you have been diligently working on an inbound marketing strategy for your business, and you have attended to all the SEO best practices for your website, tackling local search probably seems like overkill at this point. Surely all the work you have put in so far will count towards local search, right? Unless you are a national business that is not trying to draw customers into a local storefront, the answer is no; you still need to put in a bit of effort to make sure your community can easily find you.

What is Local Search

About half of all Google searches are people looking for local products and services. For example, a homeowner looking for a nearby painting service, a driver looking for a body shop, or a business owner looking for a printing shop are all local searches. Looking at people who use a mobile device, that number jumps up to 78 percent of searches having local intent. When you consider that Google recently announced that more people are using mobile devices for searching than desktop computers, that number seems even bigger.

Search engines like Google have location data built into their algorithms, so it is no longer necessary for a user to put in a city, zip code, or other identifiers for local results to be returned. That means that someone looking for a nearby pizza joint can simply type in "pizza" instead of "pizza Chicago northside" to find somewhere nearby to grab a slice.

Why This Matters

Let's state the obvious: if you are operating a business that draws its customers from the surrounding area, you will want your name to come up when customers are looking for local solutions. What may be less obvious is that 80 percent of local searches performed on a mobile phone end up converting, and three-fourths of those conversions brought a customer into a storefront. On the other hand, if you are not taking the extra steps to be sure your business is optimized online for local search, you have no chance of competing for customers on the go.

Optimizing for Local Search

Just like any SEO strategy, optimizing for local traffic can be as simple or as complex as your resources allow. No matter how much you can dedicate to local search, there are a few things that every business should be doing:

  • Local Keywords. If you want to be associated with a particular city or region, be sure you are using those words throughout your content, page titles, URLs, and headings. Be careful when you are dropping localities into your content, however, as it can be painfully obvious when you are trying to do it only for SEO, and this can be a turn-off for customers that are trying to learn about your business.
  • Google My Business. Give Google everything it needs to know about your business by completing a Google My Business profile. You'll have the opportunity to add photos and location information and get seamless integration with your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts.
  • Local Directories. In the past, directories played a far more important role than they do now. However, it is still important to make sure your business is registered with the big players like Bing and Yahoo, and that you have claimed your business on review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor.
  • Local Link Building. If you want search engines to find you relevant for a particular location, other local businesses should, too. The more incoming links you can get from other quality sites in your area, the better your local profile will be.

Stay Local, Stay Relevant

For businesses that rely on the local community for building a customer base, it is almost impossible to compete for online attention without local search. As more people use their mobile devices to search for services while they are on the go, local search will become increasingly important. If you want to stay on top of the competition, make sure you're also staying on top of local search.

3 Social Media Tools You Must Add to Your Toolbox

Posted by Robin Kastengren

shutterstock_171894914From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, making sure you are regularly posting to your business accounts and that your posts are interesting and relevant is no easy task. Plus, you have to read what everyone else is posting in your feeds. When you put it all together, it can become a full-time job—unless you have the right social media tools to streamline and organize the process. Here are three tools that will make your social media management faster and easier.

1. Social Rank

We all know that Twitter is a great place to promote your blog and other content and to collect interesting links from other people. However, have you ever wondered how to maximize all the followers you have collected? While there are plenty of social media tools for analyzing what you are doing, Social Rank is one of the best tools for analyzing what other people are doing.

Once your free account is set up, you can see who your best and most engaged followers are along with who is the most followed among your followers. Understanding how your most active followers interact with your Twitter feed will help you define your audience so you can tailor your content to what they want to see. Social Rank has also recently rolled out a similar service for Instagram and hopes to add other platforms in the future.

2. My Top Tweet

If you are not occasionally stalking the competition to see what's working for them, you are losing out on valuable information about what you can do to improve your own strategies. My Top Tweet is another tool for monitoring what others are doing, but in a slightly different way. When you enter the Twitter handle of any account, you will instantly get a list of the tweets for that account that got the most retweets and favorites. It is super simple, free, and a great way to check in and see what's hot with the biggest players in your industry.

3. Mentionmapp

If you are a visually-oriented person, then this is the tool for you. When you first log in with your Twitter handle, you will get a map with you at the center and all of your connections surrounding you. You can see who is connected to you because you both have recently shared content with the same hashtag, or because of recent mentions and retweets. You can click on any node in your map to expand it and see who else is connected and what topics they also share. This tool makes it easy for visually-oriented people to do hashtag research and hunt for trending topics. It also provides you an easy way to find new people to follow based on shared interests instead of just digging through other users' lists.

Social Media Tools Make it Easy

For individual users, simply posting and reading social media feeds is more than enough interaction. For businesses that need to make the most of time and resources—while still maintaining positive returns on all these efforts—using the right social media tools will help cut down on the guesswork and the amount of time spent researching and discovering users and current topics. That way, you can be sure your social media interaction is always helpful, relevant, and results-driven.

The Nuts and Bolts of Inbound Marketing Methodology

Posted by Don Musacchio

shutterstock_274827941So many small businesses dabble with different online marketing resources. They build websites, collect emails and start social media pages. But very few put all the pieces together into a coherent strategy. Inbound marketing methodology is great way to put these elements together and make them work for your business. Here are the basic nuts and bolts of inbound marketing to get you started.

Hubspot has identified four basic activities associated with inbound marketing methodology. They are:

  • Attract

  • Convert

  • Close

  • Delight

Today people are using the Internet to search for the goods and services they need to satisfy desires, fulfill needs and solve problems. Instead of pushing out messages on mass media, your business must use the Internet to pull people toward you by providing valuable content on digital channels.

The first step is profile your ideal customers. These profiles, called buyer personas, help you to understand what content you will need to attract these customers to your site. Once you have a basic understanding of your customers, then you can set up your Internet presence to attract these kinds of people.

Here are some basic tools for doing this:

  • Your webpage is the center of your online marketing activities. You want an attractive site that is easy to navigate.

  • A blog is the basic platform for inbound marketing. By updating your blog with valuable content, people come to recognize that you are an expert in your field.

  • Search engine optimization is a set of tactics that helps your site show up on search engine results for relevant key words.

  • Use social media to promote your content and amplify the reach of your content.

Once people are visiting your site, you want to begin developing an ongoing relationship with them. You need to get their permission to continue to share content with them. Usually this is done by offering them some premium content in exchange for their contact information. This process is know as conversion.

  • Premium content is more in depth than what appears on your blog. It may be a white paper, an ebook or a webinar. It has to offer real value to make it worth it for the visitor to enter his contact information.

  • Calls-to-action are appeals to visitors to respond to the offer with an action. These buttons or links invite the visitor to subscribe to a newsletter, download a white paper or view a webinar.

  • Landing pages are where people who respond to the call-to-action are directed. These usually contain forms for people to enter their contact information.

At this stage, you are looking to take the leads you generate through the conversion process and continue your relationship with them until they are ready to become customers.

  • This means having a good Customer Relationship Management system. This software helps you to track your leads as they move through their buying journey. It tracks their activities so that you can know what content is appropriate for them and when they might be ready to make a purchase.

  • You will need to develop a lead nurturing campaign. This can be a series of automated emails designed to engage and educate the people on your contact list.

The final stage of inbound marketing methodology continues to build your relationship with your customers and to transform them into promoters. By continuing to supply your customers with valuable content, you continue to delight and serve them. By offering your customers opportunities to share your content on their own social media, they can become promoters of your business.

Inbound marketing methodology relies on solid analytics at each stage of the process. You can measure increases in traffic to your site. You want to know how much of this traffic converts to leads and how many leads convert to customers. You can also track how your customers are sharing your content in order to reward your best promoters. By measuring everything, you can make changes and measure how much these changes improve the results.

Many small businesses hear about how great online marketing is for generating new customers. They jump right into blogging or social media without a strategy. Instead, your business should take the time to implement inbound marketing methodology in order to achieve the best results.

Create Blog Topics Your Buyer Personas Will Read

Posted by Carrie Whittier

shutterstock_237047554Blog topic and title creation isn't easy, but it's a critical skill set and is imperative when it comes to increasing website visits and generating qualified leads. Not only will targeted topics and titles make your blog a favorite amongst your regular clientele, the process of creating blog topics will get you in better touch with your clients' buyer personas.

When you reach heightened levels of marketing intuition, the blog content you create will become increasingly more meaningful to your company's inbound marketing strategy.

Identify Your Buyers Personas & Don't Forget the Niche Markets

Are we tired of the phrase "buyer persona" yet? Seriously! Yet, it's mind boggling how many small- to medium-sized businesses have never sat down and actually done the work to identify their key marketing personas, as well as a handful of glorious niches. If you haven't taken this vital step, your blog titles are like a shot in the dark (at worst) or a shot in a candle-lit room (at best).

You simply cannot create important, problem-solving, unique and engaging content (not to mention social media posts, offers, campaigns, etc.) if you don't "get" the nuances of the people who purchase your products and services. Targeted blog posts and blog titles are only compelling if you truly understand the inner-workings, challenges, wants and needs of the people you hope to convert into qualified leads.

Once you've got highly detailed and descriptive buyer personas in mind, you're ready to begin writing the blog topics that will draw them in and successfully through the buying cycle.

Have a Blog Topic Brainstorming Party

If you work as part of a team, sit together in a group for a solid hour and start brainstorming topics. If members of your team relate to a specific persona, let them brainstorm the topics for that niche. This process may get off to a slow start but multiple heads working together create a synergy that simply can't be generated in isolation.

Before you know it, a wide range of spot-on topics will be flying out at a rapid pace and you will be shocked at how many weeks' or months' worth of blog titles you can create in a single hour.

Now, you can take those topics and begin to refine them, tailor them to particular buyer personas or niches or expand them into other areas. For instance, a blog on tips for using social media to enhance inbound marketing performance can be expanded to additional blogs that cover specific social media platforms. In this way, your list of blog topics can increase exponentially.

Read & Respond to Blog Comments

It's shocking how many companies ignore this simple but essential step. Is it because their website manager/content marketing team forgot to link comment alerts to someone in-house? Is it because an employee who used to monitor them no longer works there? At any rate, paying attention to blog comments (and responding to them) provides multi-fold benefits to the marketing team.

Firstly, it increases your connection and engagement level with visitors, prospects and followers. Blog comments are a veritable garden of future blog topic fruit. Maybe you wrote a blog titled, "Top 10 Blogs About Subject X." Commenters will often post links to their favorite blogs about Subject X. Even if some of these are self-serving, it's a launching board for "Part 2" where you can link to more Top Blogs.

Readers' comments, questions and insight can provide a wealth of up-and-coming blog fodder, and it's fodder you know people are already interested in or they wouldn't take the time to post a comment about it.

Use Content Analysis to See What Works - Then Do More of It

Content Analysis is a vital step (and an often dreaded one) for successful content marketing. It provides you with valuable data regarding which blog topics generated traffic and which ones didn't. Use the former and generate more blogs around similar topic areas, or take each sub-heading of successful blogs and turn them into blog of their own. Use the latter information to evaluate what went wrong and learn from your mistakes. It may be that slight variations will re-vamp under-performing blogs into resources about subjects visitors and followers are waiting to learn more about.

Your blog is one of the most powerful tools in your inbound marketing toolkit. Keep it polished, comfortable and at the ready with a variety of targeted topics and titles that draw your future customers right in.