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Archive | March, 2018

Content Marketing 101: All You Need To Know To Grow Your Business

Jeff BullasContent Marketing 101 - All You Need To Know To Grow Your Business

It was a paperback book that someone I trusted and respected had recommended.

Its title was good but not great.

The headline wasn’t so compelling that it would stop you in your tracks. But something about it made me want to start reading and open the cover.

Most of it was read in coffee shops near my home. I had plenty of time as I was between jobs.

But it made a big promise.

If you created great engaging content online then you would attract leads and sales.

The term used to describe that was “inbound marketing”.

New Rules of Marketing and PR - Content Marketing 101

The book?

“The New Rules of Marketing and PR” by David Meerman-Scott.

As a sales and marketing professional it seemed to make a lot of sense. I certainly liked the idea of attracting customers rather than chasing them.

Over my career I had used newspaper advertising, radio ads, cold calling, fax broadcasting and even door knocking to grow sales.

But outbound marketing often meant that you had to pay gatekeepers to get your business and brand in front of an audience.

The media moguls had the distribution and access to the customers that wanted to buy your products.

But things had changed.

The Internet had emerged, and websites, search engines and online publishing were becoming mainstream. Online stores were becoming trusted and normal.

New tools and platforms had evolved.

But the real kick-starter to make it easy to publish and get attention had gone from a fad to a global trend.

That was the fast emerging social media networks.

I was so intrigued by the discovery and its potential that I started a blog on the topic. It was an experiment.

It was the start of a journey to see if David’s premise stacked up.

Could it deliver?

The big questions

The passion project started and content creation commenced.

But one big question was “would my amateur articles attract an audience?”

The other burning questions?

  • Can you grow revenue from content creation?
  • Can you build a business around it?
  • Is this a passing fad?

As I started publishing I also started sharing my creation with a few followers on Twitter. They responded.

The few turned into many and then into millions of readers a year.

The first big question had been answered.

One year later I found an email in my inbox asking me to speak in Italy. They offered to pay me. Another question had a response that I liked.

A few years later I left my day job and struck out on my own. The sustainable business question had been resolved.

This had all happened around a content publishing hub that had been started with a $10 investment. That was a domain name.

There are many other questions that I am sure you have asked while reading this, so for the rest of this article, I will endeavor to answer them.

It is going to be pretty comprehensive; a guide to Content Marketing 101 – everything you need to know.

I will talk about the basics of content marketing and the many ways it can help you grow your business. I will focus on a “do it yourself” approach that minimizes the costs and helps you understand what keeps your customers interested and engaged with your brand.

So grab a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable, and let’s dive right in.

Table of Contents

What is content marketing?

The importance of content marketing

The benefits of content marketing

Building your content marketing foundation

How to create a content marketing strategy

What content to create (and how)

Where to distribute your content

How to manage your content marketing on a limited budget

Content analysis and measuring ROI

Conclusion

What is content marketing?

Content marketing focuses on the creation and distribution of relevant and valuable content, with the purpose of attracting a clearly-defined audience, building a long-term relationship with them and, ultimately, turning them into loyal customers.

The keywords you need to remember are “relevant”, “targeted” and “relationship.” Simply creating content without a solid understanding of your audience’s needs and interests will not help you grow your business. At best, you will generate unqualified traffic; at worst, you are wasting valuable time and resources on creating content for the wrong audience.

Done right, content marketing is the effective use of content that informs, educates (and sometimes entertains and inspires) customers to discover you, trust you and buy from you.

Content Marketing 101 quote 1

The great part that isn’t often appreciated is that if it is done with persistence and with the long game in mind, the content becomes an asset that keeps giving.

  • People will find answers (in the form of content) from your blog or website when performing a Google search.
  • They will discover your YouTube video in a tweet or on Facebook.
  • They will register for your webinar and buy your product or service.

But to be successful with content, you need a mindset of pull, not push.

A vision for next year, not next week.

An approach that revolves around building digital assets that accrue in value over time, rather than expiring digital assets that become obsolete and die when you turn off the advertising.

Back to the Table of Contents.

The importance of content marketing

One of the primary reasons content marketing works is that it focuses on telling stories and building narrative, rather than just bombarding prospects with sales messages

People are more likely to engage with a brand that delivers quality, educational content than one that only focuses on selling its products.

Purchasing decisions aren’t always, if ever, rational. It’s not facts that get prospects to choose a brand over another. The emotions and personal beliefs that come with the story are the main factors that motivate people to take action. Consumers usually choose the brands whose narratives reflect their views and embody their ideal principles of life.

That’s not just a theory; there are numbers to prove it…

  • According to DemandMetric, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional advertising.
  • It also generates three times more leads.
  • Businesses that use content marketing have six times higher conversion rates than non-adopters, according to Aberdeen.
  • A Custom Content Council study found that 72% of businesses think content marketing is more effective than advertising in a magazine.
  • 62% claim it generates better results than advertising on TV.
  • 69% of marketers say branded content is superior to both direct mail and public relations.

These examples are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to studies that prove the effectiveness of content marketing. Here you can find more statistics that support its worth.

Still not convinced? Let’s take a look at the benefits.

Back to the Table of Contents.

The benefits of content marketing

From a distance, the benefits of content marketing are not all that obvious or apparent.

But here are some of the benefits I have experience personally on this journey:

  • Content builds a digital asset hub that attracts leads and sales.
  • It grows credibility and trust as you publish content that answers customer questions.
  • Quality content can establish you and your brand as a thought leader in your industry that spreads influence and authority.
  • It educates your prospects and clients, building loyalty that turns them into fans and advocates.

The core of content marketing really comes down to one simple idea: thought leadership vs. selling.

Selling is an immediate call to action, a proposition that needs to end with a clear decision. The customer will buy or will not buy the product or service. More than that, the effectiveness of a sales-centric strategy will end the moment you stop pouring money into it. Your pay-per-click marketing or Facebook ads will stop generating leads the moment your campaign ends.

Content marketing, on the other hand, is the gift that keeps on giving. A high-quality article can generate return one week, one month or even one year after you’ve created it. That’s because quality content enables you to create a bond with your audience that goes beyond the simplistic purpose of buying and selling.

Content Marketing 101 quote 2

Hopefully, by now you’re on the content marketing bandwagon with me… If so, how do you build a content strategy and make the most of this approach to business growth?

Back to the Table of Contents.

Building your content marketing foundation

A common mistake people make when it comes to content marketing is that they jump right in without building a foundation first. Here’s what you need to do to ensure your strategy is going to be effective.

Hire the right team

Content marketing can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if it’s a new concept and you have no idea where to start. Getting help from others to outline and execute on your plan is not only smart but also encouraging.

But, make sure to choose your team carefully. Talk about your brand’s identity, your value set, your ideal customer profile, and what you are looking to achieve as a business. Help them relate to a vision for your brand that inspires them to want to work with you.

When I say “team”, I don’t necessarily mean you need to go out there and hire 10 full-time staff members. If you are a small business or entrepreneur, consider other options you have available to you to build the skill set you are going to need to be successful – outsourcing to freelancers and contractors, for example.

Here are some of the “roles” that you, your team, or your outsourced partner will need to play to execute your content marketing strategy:

  • Content marketing manager or project coordinator
  • Content creator or copywriter
  • Graphic designer
  • Content curator
  • Researcher
  • Community manager
  • Brand monitor
  • Influencer and partnerships manager

Think about your brand’s voice

How do you want prospects to perceive you? Do you want to be seen as a friendly brand or a professional business?

Develop a brand voice and stick to it across all channels. Create guidelines for you and your team to follow in terms of brand colors, use of fonts, language do’s and don’ts, and other things that influence your perception of the market.

Document content marketing goals

Look to document content marketing goals and tie them back to your primary business objectives. Here are some common examples of areas you may like to set content marketing goals for as a starting point:

  • Brand awareness
  • Authority and influence
  • Social proof and case studies
  • Market research and product ideation
  • Customer research
  • Website traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Customer acquisition
  • Brand loyalty and customer retention
  • Customer referrals
  • Customer service
  • Customer onboarding

Research by Statista found that Lead Generation, Brand Awareness, and Engagement were the top content marketing goals for companies in North America:

Statistic: What are the goals for content marketing in your company? | Statista
Find more statistics at  Statista

Create a customer profile

A customer profile, or buyer persona, is a fictional representation of your ideal customer.

An effective customer profile goes beyond demographic information and documents things like interests, hobbies, fears, hopes, and dreams – helping you truly understand how your customers tick.

A well-constructed customer profile will help you do everything a little bit better. Your content will resonate more with your audience, which will result in more engagement, more traffic, and inevitably more purchases. Without a good understanding of your ideal customer, your content marketing strategy is likely to fall flat.

To create a buyer persona, here is a brief process to follow:

  1. Find a buyer persona template that suits your business and industry.
  2. Start researching your customers to fill in this template, on social media, search engines, and via customer surveys.
  3. Consolidate your research into at least one simple buyer persona, or several if you need to.
  4. Use your buyer persona to guide your content marketing activity.

HubSpot has a cool online tool called “Make My Persona” where you can fill in a few key details and automatically generate a customer profile for your business:

Content Marketing 101 persona

Back to the Table of Contents.

How to create a content marketing strategy

Once you have established a strong foundation, here are the steps I recommend you take to create an effective content marketing strategy:

Map out content that aligns with the buyer’s journey

Just because “content marketing” is a fairly new concept, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t maintain many of the core aspects of an effective marketing strategy.

You should still spend time getting to know your customers and understanding the typical process they go through before buying from you.

Whether you call this a sales funnel, buyer’s journey, or something else entirely, at its core this concept simply captures the idea that individuals go through a certain rational and emotional process before they make a purchase decision.

At each stage of this process, they are looking for information and guidance that leads them to the next step. It’s your job, as the content marketer, to provide relevant and helpful content at each of these important stages in their journey.

For example, prospects at the top of the funnel have only just discovered your brand or realized that they have a problem. Bombarding them with sales messages is a surefire way to drive them away. Instead, you should provide educational content that answers their questions.

People in the middle of the funnel are evaluating their options, trying to decide if a product is useful or whether they can trust the brand behind it. Create content at this stage that proves your expertise, such as in-depth articles, white papers, competitive comparisons, or eBooks.

People at the bottom of the funnel have made their decision and are ready to buy, but oftentimes they need help making that final commitment. Provide them with case studies, testimonials, or tailored offers to get them started.

Below is a visual representation of this concept created by Bluewire Media:

Content Marketing 101 sales funnel

Once a prospect becomes a customer, your goal should be to reinforce their decision to buy your offer and turn them into a raving fan of your business. Your job doesn’t end once they sign up, it then becomes an issue of retention and engagement, which content can help with too.

Brainstorm content ideas and create a content calendar

Once you have created an understanding of your customer’s typical journey towards a purchase, you then want to come up with content ideas that will satisfy each stage of that journey.

Get creative, loosen up and write down all the ideas that might inspire your strategy. Think of the essence of what you want to broadcast to the world. Don’t hesitate to look around online for inspiration. After all, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

Here are some other proven ways for coming up with content ideas:

  • Conduct keyword research to see what people are searching for in search engines.
  • Determine a list of your customers’ most common questions; before, during, and after a sales or customer service conversation.
  • Identify the problems and subproblems your product or service solves.
  • Create case studies.
  • Research competitors, industry influencers, and thought leaders to find out what their most successful content has been.

When you are finished brainstorming content ideas, use an editorial calendar to capture these ideas and plan when you are going to publish them.

Using an editorial calendar can make the difference between a content marketing strategy that brings results and one that falls flat. It enables you to prepare all of the steps beforehand and concentrate your resources on what counts. Plus it creates accountability for meeting deadlines.

Here is a calendar view of the editorial schedule here at JeffBullas.com:

Content Marketing 101 editorial calendar

Back to the Table of Contents.

What content to create (and how)

What will appeal more to your customers: visual content or informative, in-depth articles? Do they read their emails more than they log in on Facebook? Would your prospects engage more with video content or text?

These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself to decide which content types will resonate with your audience best.

Let’s take a closer look at your options.

Evergreen Content

If you want to bring solid, steady traffic to your website, then you need to focus on creating evergreen content.

As the name suggests, evergreen content is timeless. For example, an article about “What Is Content Marketing” will always be relevant because the definition is unlikely to change anytime soon. On the other hand, an article about “The Best Content Marketing Tips for 2018,” is not necessarily an evergreen topic, as trends change and you need to monitor and update the techniques you’re using.

Written content

Most content marketing involves some element of written content. And it doesn’t matter how well-researched your articles are, if prospects have a difficult time reading them or digesting the information, they won’t read and engage with your content.

The main challenge is keeping the content simple, yet engaging. You also need to ensure that your writing style fits your brand’s personality and audience. You don’t need to be an expert writer, but having a strong grasp of the written word is certainly going to be helpful. Alternatively, you can always hire someone to help.

One way to approach written content is to document a brand voice and writing guidelines, then write the articles yourself, or find a team of writers that can deliver content on a regular basis.

Visual content and design

Here’s the thing: if the platform where you’re publishing your articles looks like it is stuck in a time warp, then your audience will leave your site without giving it a second thought.

Make sure that your website has a clean, professional design. Keep in mind that online users enjoy a cohesive style that they can immediately connect with your brand. If your design is changing all the time, it will become confusing and undesirable.

Also, consider how you can integrate design elements and branding into your content creation. Things such as on-brand visuals, company colors, and custom graphics are a great example of this.

Research by Orbit Media found that in 2017, more bloggers were using multiple images in their articles than in any previous year.

Content Marketing 101 Visuals

Content curation

Although creating high-quality content is a crucial component of content marketing, it’s not the only tactic. Content curation, or the process of discovering, compiling, and sharing existing content with your audience, can work just as well. However, make sure that the content you curate is relevant to your audience’s needs and expectations.

A great tool for automatically curating content and sharing it with your audience on social media is Dlvr.it:

Content Marketing 101 Dlvr.it

User-generated content (UGC)

Another brilliant way to engage your customers is to let them generate the content themselves.

GoPro is a master at user-generated content (UGC) marketing. They have built a community that is excited to create and share adventure videos, all while promoting the GoPro brand in the process. The strategy is so effective that people post about 6,000 GoPro videos every day.

Below is a collated video created by GoPro that captures the best of their user-generated content from 2017:

 

So, how can you use UGC?

 

For example, you could organize a contest and encourage prospects to send pictures of themselves using your product. Offer something of value in return, such as a discount, coupon, or maybe a visit to your offices.

You can apply this idea to any content and distribution channel. Although social media makes it incredibly easy to engage fans and persuade them to send user-generated content your way.

Back to the Table of Contents.

Where to distribute your content

Imagine if Forever 21, a fashion brand that targets teens and young adults, would air a commercial on the CNN money channel or Bloomberg, two media outlets that cater to business professionals in the financial sector.

It wouldn’t make sense, right?

The same goes for your content distribution. If you want your content marketing to work, then you need to choose the right distribution channels for your brand.

Here are the most important distribution channels to consider.

Social media

If you’re looking for a free, fast and effective way of distributing your content to a broad audience, then social media holds the answer.

With more than 2.6 billion users worldwide, social media is one of the best content distribution channels. But, unless you are a large business with a dedicated social media team, you need to be smart about the channels you choose. Pick the platforms that make the most sense to your audience and business needs.

For example, look at user demographics to ensure that your audience is active on the platforms you’re using. Then, look at the type of content your audience prefers. For example, Instagram is all about visual content while Twitter focuses on delivering bite-sized information.

Also, consider the type of content you plan to create. If you want to focus on video, for example, then Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook are the best options. But if you are mainly creating infographics, then maybe something like Pinterest would work.

Check out this social media marketing guide to get an idea of how to use social media effectively.

Email

Don’t make the mistake of dismissing email marketing as obsolete. As one of the most effective strategies out there, email marketing is perfect for small businesses that must stick to a tight budget. Even today it remains one of the most effective channels of communication between companies and consumers.

If done right, email marketing can help you nurture your leads and turn them into loyal customers.

The prospects you reach through email are already interested in your brand because they opted in to receive content from you. Take advantage of this to build and nurture a lasting relationship.

The best way to leverage email in collaboration with content marketing is to optimize your website for capturing email addresses, using things such as popup forms and free downloadable resources like eBooks.

You can see how I have optimized JeffBullas.com to capture emails in multiple places on every page:

Content Marketing 101 Email Optins

Once your website is optimized, use content to drive people to your website and entice them to sign up to your email list with these offers. Then when they are on your list, keep communicating with them on a regular cadence to build trust and credibility.

Blogging and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Building your blog and integrating it with an SEO strategy is the foundation of a good content marketing plan. While you can publish content on third-party sites, a blog on your own website can bring numerous benefits to your business.

A static website with no updates is as good as dead in the eyes of both Google and your audience. On the other hand, the more content you publish on your blog, the more frequently search engines will stop by to visit your domain. That can translate into increased rankings, more traffic, and ultimately more leads.

With every new article Google indexes, your chances of converting prospects into customers increases. In fact, SEO leads have a 14.6% better close rate, compared with outbound leads that have just a 1.7% close rate.

For a comprehensive beginner’s guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), check out this article.

Other content distribution tactics

Syndication: Content syndication is the process of re-posting your blog content on other websites, who have an established process for doing so without affecting your SEO performance.

Influencers: Building relationships with influencers and encouraging them to mention your content on their website is a high-impact approach to content distribution. To find relevant influencers, consider using a search engine such as BuzzSumo:

Content Marketing 101 - BuzzSumo

Advertising: You may choose to combine the benefits of content marketing with the immediate impact of traditional advertising to get the best of both worlds.

Guest Posting: There are a number of high-traffic and credible websites in just about any niche you can think of that accept guest author contributions. Consider writing for these publications to boost your brand visibility and get referral traffic back to your website. To find guest post opportunities you may like to use a service like Guest Post Tracker which has over 1,400 featured sites:

Content Marketing 101 - Guest Post Tracker

Sponsored Content: Paid content on other people’s websites can be just as effective as the organic content you publish yourself. As long as the content is high-quality and relevant, it can help advance your business goals.

Back to the Table of Contents.

How to manage your content marketing on a limited budget

The time and financial resources you allocate to content marketing are not endless, so you need to find ways to implement these strategies without sending your accountant crazy and burning a hole in your back pocket.

One possible solution is to simplify the content management process. Build a routine and stick to it. For example, Mondays are for researching new topics; every Tuesday you create a new article for your blog. Then, on Wednesday you focus on content distribution, responding to your followers, checking your stats, following-up on a previous content campaign, and so on.

Whatever rhythm you choose, aim to document all of the little processes you use to deliver on this strategy. Everything from coming up with content ideas, to researching articles, and promoting your content can be defined in a sequential process. By defining this process and documenting it, you can improve the way you approach things over time so it saves you time. You can also more easily outsource parts of this process to freelancers and contractors without needing to hire a full-time content team.

Tools and technology

A big part of effectively executing on your content marketing strategy is also about finding the right tools and technology to automate and amplify the use of your time.

Content Marketing 101 Quote 3

Without the help of technology, you are unlikely to effectively deliver on your content marketing strategy. So you need to put together a suite of content marketing tools that will make things easier and track your efforts.

Here are some to consider:

Back to the Table of Contents.

Content analysis and measuring ROI

You’ve defined your strategy, built the foundation, picked the right channels, and have started creating quality content for your audience. But how can you tell if your efforts are worth it?

That’s where content analysis and measuring ROI becomes so important.

Define and track your metrics

Measuring the impact of your content marketing strategy is no easy task.

The problem is that a lot of small business owners let vanity metrics, such as likes, shares, and comments derail them from their goals.

Yes, getting tons of likes and traffic to an article is certainly something to be proud of, but that’s not the ultimate goal. You don’t want people to share your content and then forget about your business the next day. You want loyal customers that engage with your brand, buy your products and tell their friends about it.

Let’s say your primary business goal is to double your sales by the end of the financial year. How does that translate into hard metrics that you can track?

It may be that you track mini-goals that contribute to this master goal. Website traffic, that leads to email subscribers, that lead to sales calls, that inevitably lead to sales. Thinking about it this way will allow you to see a direct correlation between your content marketing and traffic building strategy, and the business outcomes it is generating.

You can track all of this in Google Analytics using the “Goal” parameters in the “Admin” area:

Content Marketing 101 Analytics

Tracking your results will make it easier to identify certain patterns or changes in customer behavior. Not to mention, you will be able to adjust your strategy on the go rather than investing time and resources only to discover that your audience didn’t respond to your content as expected.

Back to the Table of Contents.

Conclusion

It was a book that changed my life…

I had a new purpose. A new reason to get up every morning.

But if there is one thing I have taken away from this whole experience, it is that anyone can do it.

I wasn’t a writer. But I had stories to tell, battle scars to share, and a new sense of vulnerability that captured an audience.

Don’t let insecurity and fear hold you back from giving this content thing a shake. The influence it will have on your business, those around you, and your personal confidence and sense of accomplishment is quite amazing.

But don’t go at it blindly. Think about WHY you are doing it in the first place. Document your goals. Create a strategy. Measure your results. Improve when you can.

Be the difference that your customers and audience are looking for. Add value to their lives and businesses. They will love you for it.

http://www.jeffbullas.com/content-marketing-101/ Content marketing is the effective use of content that informs, educates and inspires customers to discover you, trust you and buy from you. Jeff Bullas

30 ways to market your online business for free | Search Engine Watch

30 ways to market your online business for free | Search Engine Watch
For many people and businesses, the word ‘marketing’ conjures up visions of pricey marketing strategies and excessive expenditure. With a high number of businesses all vying for exposure among the vast digital landscape, it can sometimes feel like fighting a losing battle, especially for those just starting out. However, it doesn’t have to be expensive: there are plenty of free ways to market a business. In this post, we share our top tips for how to market your online business for free – 30 different ways in fact. Here goes…
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1. Capture email data

Ensure that you have a method of capturing email data from website visitors. Integrate an email sign up option onto your site and begin building a database of customer data. You can then use this data for a range of marketing incentives, such as email marketing or creating custom audiences on Facebook for targeted advertising. (Just make sure you’re GDPR compliant…) You’ve got the data, now you need to do something useful with it. Start by setting up a free account with Mailchimp, and start distributing those emails. Avoid being overly promotional and always offer something genuinely useful to the recipients. Keep the emails regular but never bombard, otherwise people will hit unsubscribe quicker than you can say ‘digital marketing’.

3. Video marketing

You’d be mad to ignore the proliferation of video over the past few years. Jump on the bandwagon and start engaging in some video marketing. Begin by setting up a YouTube channel. You don’t have to create Hollywood-esque movies – just a simple video blog will do. If you’ve got something useful to say, then say it on video. It also makes for highly shareable, marketable content – plonk it on your website, push it out on social, and include in your emails.

4. Post to Facebook

It goes without saying that social media is one of the most valuable marketing tools out there. And it’s free. FREE. It’s best not to go signing up for every social media platform under the sun, just focus on those most suitable to your business. Facebook is a viable option for almost all businesses. Unfortunately, the latest algorithm updates have made it harder than ever for businesses to gain visibility in the news feed without paying. But, you’ve got nothing to lose. Post regular updates – be engaging and exciting, don’t be too promotional, and be genuinely interesting.

5. Interact with industry experts on Twitter

Twitter isn’t for everyone, but it does carry a whole array of benefits. It’s a great platform for engaging with industry experts and customers, as it’s a place where anyone can talk to anyone. Respond to customer feedback, retweet the best user-generated content, and offer genuine input to industry discussions.

6. Create an Instagram

A popular contender among social media platforms, Instagram has an ever-increasing user base. If your business would benefit from a visual presence, then make sure you are dedicating time to building a strong Instagram account. Remember that it’s a visual platform, so carefully curated content that looks amazing is key.

7. Generate website traffic with Pinterest

Pinterest isn’t suitable for a lot of businesses, but can work really well for some. The platform has one of the highest conversion rates in terms of converting browsers into buyers. You can also generate significant website traffic and find out more about what your target users love.

8. Build your network on LinkedIn

If your business is a B2B company, be sure to have a strong presence on LinkedIn. It’s also a great place for building your network. The same rules apply to LinkedIn as other social platforms – engage with relevant people and offer genuine insight.

9. Publish to Google Plus – yes, really!

Google Plus, that strange little platform that never quite hit the big time. Yet it’s still plodding along hoping that one day, something, anything will happen that propels it into social media stardom (not likely). Still, despite the failings of Google Plus, it is still worth getting into the habit of pushing out any new content via Google Plus. After all, it’s a product of Google and if you want to climb those rankings, we suggest keeping Google sweet.

10. Start using Google Posts

Aim to publish regular updates via Google Posts for greater visibility in the search engine results pages. Posting to Google allows businesses to share content with people that is relevant to the search queries being inputted. It’s a great way of gaining a little extra exposure.

11. Encourage UGC

User-generated content (UGC) is content that has been created and published by unpaid fans of your business. It’s when someone loves your product or service so much that they take it upon themselves to share their experience with friends and family, usually via social media. UGC typically occurs naturally, but there is no harm in encouraging it – if you don’t ask you don’t get! You can highlight the best posts every week on your social media channels, and even offer prizes to customers who get featured. And speaking of prizes…

12. Run social media giveaways

Running social media giveaways is a sure-fire way of increasing engagement and generating new followers. Not only can it be a nice way of saying thank you to existing customers and fans, it’s also a handy way of reaching potential new customers. Okay, so it’s not entirely cost free, as you’ll need to give away a product, but there’s no need to spend any money on top of that. Just be sure to follow all the best practices of running a giveaway.

13. Engage with social influencers

Influencer marketing is a huge industry. For those unfamiliar with how it all works, a business pays or offers free products to a blogger or influencer who has a high following on social media. In return, the influencer shares your product on their social media channels. It’s extremely effective. The more popular influencers can charge astronomical rates, but those with smaller followings (sometimes called “micro-influencers”) have high engagement rates and are often willing to post something in return for a free product or trial.

14. Set up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

If you haven’t already, then make sure you set up Google Search Console (and also Bing Webmaster Tools). Using these tools, you can view valuable information about the search terms people are using to find your website. You can also index new pages, meaning they will show up in the search engine results pages quicker. Plus, be sure to submit an XML sitemap – it helps the search engines crawl your site.

15. Update your Google My Business listing

Update your Google My Business listing and check that all information is accurate. Reorganize the images to ensure that only your best side is showing. Do the same with your local listings for Bing and Yahoo. It’s also worth working on building your Google reviews, as they will help boost your rankings. if (jQuery(window).width() > 500) { setSameHeight(‘.related-articles-middle .related-article'); setSameHeight(‘.related-articles-middle .related-articles-col'); }

16. Ask your customers for testimonials

On the topic of reviews, be sure to generate as many testimonials and (positive) reviews as possible. Whether it’s via Google, TrustPilot or for a dedicated testimonials section on your website, people trust other people. You’ll have to ask your customers for these, as people don’t very often give them naturally. Just a gentle prompt will do the trick.

17. Google Analytics

Make sure that you have Google Analytics linked up to your site. It’s a treasure trove of handy data and be sure to spend some time getting your head around it all. See how people interact with your site, identify the pain points and discover the most popular pages. With this information you can make considered and informed changes and improvements to your site.

18. Review Google AdWords

Google AdWords is not free. In fact, it’s incredibly expensive. But if you are already running a PPC campaign then it’s worth taking some time to review your strategy. Try rewriting some of the ads and improving your quality score to generate better results. Sparing a little time reviewing your campaign could save you lots of money. For most of us AdWords will cost, but if you are a charity you can apply for a Google Grant of up to £10,000 to spend on AdWords!

19. Use PR

PR is still a very powerful weapon in a marketer’s arsenal. Without hiring a dedicated PR agency, there are some steps you can take to implement a bit of PR. Following any substantial news or updates, it’s worth distributing a press release as you never know who may pick it up. Sign up to platforms like HARO (help a reporter out) and look out for hashtags like #journorequest on Twitter, as you may be able to wrangle a mention. PR, of course, goes hand-in-hand with link-building for SEO.

20. Contribute to forums, blogs and discussions

Part of marketing your business online is to establish yourself as a reliable industry expert and a voice of authority. In order to build this authority, take the time to contribute to relevant forums, blogs and social media discussions. Offer genuinely helpful insight and answer questions that are being asked. People will appreciate your input and, with any luck, will convert into a customer.

21. Speak at industry conferences

Another excellent way of building your authority and reputation as an expert within your industry, is to volunteer to speak at relevant industry conferences. It’s a great way of getting your personal and business name out there. If you’re trusted to speak at conferences, then you’ll be trusted to offer a good product or service.

22. Content creation

It goes without saying that content creation should be central to any digital marketing strategy. If you haven’t already got a blog on your website then don’t wait a second longer. Do it. Right now. You’ll probably have noticed that there are a disconcerting amount of blogs on the web. So don’t do what everyone else is doing; be different, be helpful and be relevant.

23. Guest post

As well as creating content for your own site, be sure to integrate guest blogging into your marketing strategy. Only aim for relevant and high quality sites, preferably with a high domain authority and nonexistent spam score. It’s a great way of ramping up brand exposure, but also securing links back to your website (hello better SEO rankings).

24. Use blogging platforms

As beautiful as your website’s blog might be, it can be frustrating if your lovingly crafted content is not getting the exposure you think it deserves. Especially if you are only just starting out, it can be crushing to spend hours working on a stellar article, only for two people to read it (probably your mum and your best mate). This is where blogging platforms, like Medium, can help increase your exposure. Just make sure that you follow the best practices for republishing content on these platforms.

25. Carry out keyword research

If you are undertaking a full blown SEO campaign, the chances are that you are paying someone to do it, or you are already an SEO whiz, in which case you’ll (hopefully) know what you’re doing. For the newbies, keyword research is the initial stage of any SEO campaign and can help you identify user intent and figure out what your target audience is searching for. It would take several blog posts to cover this in enough detail, but a good place to start is with this complete guide to keyword research for SEO.

26. Optimize your metadata

Get into the habit of writing an SEO title and meta description for every page and post you publish. This is the information that will be displayed in the search engine results pages, so you need to make it as enticing and relevant as possible.

27. Mark up your website with Schema.org structured data

In a nutshell, schema markup allows you to label the content on your site for the benefit of the search engine. It helps the search engines provide more detailed search engine results pages. Although there is no evidence that schema markup directly improves your rankings, it will make your listing more attractive, therefore encouraging more click-throughs. And that can only be a good thing!

28. List your business in online directories

Ensure that your business is listed in relevant online directories. There are the most popular ones, such as Yell, Yelp and Thomson Local, but there are a whole host of other industry or location-specific directories. Make sure you add your business listing to only the directories which are relevant to your business, and ensure they aren’t spammy.

29. Make sure your NAP are consistent

That sounds complicated but it’s really very simple. NAP stands for name, address and phone number. NAP consistency refers to the process of ensuring that all mentions of your business feature the correct information. Do a quick search and make sure that the name, address, phone number, and any other information about your business listed online are all completely accurate and formatted consistently.

30. Test your website with Google’s PageSpeed Insights and Mobile-Friendly Test

Finally, if you want your website to rank well and offer a fantastic user experience then it needs to be fast and mobile-friendly. Utilize Google’s free tools to check the speed of your website and whether or not it is mobile-friendly. Any red flags should be resolved as quickly as possible. So there you have it. There’s definitely enough information here to keep you occupied for quite some time. It always helps to have a marketing budget, but these free steps are the best place to start. Good luck! If you enjoyed this article, check out our other roundups of marketing tools and techniques you can use completely free of charge:
Jessie Moore is Marketing Manager at Yellowball, a London-based digital marketing agency.

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12 Expert tips on growing your business using influencer marketing | Northcutt

12 Expert tips on growing your business using influencer marketing | Northcutt Image for 12 Expert tips on growing your business using influencer marketing | Northcutt

As someone who is an at home marketer, I typically spend my days downing cups of tea while glued to my laptop. Because of this, I get one of those teeth whitening kits every few years. (How does this relate to marketing? I'm getting there…)

I've used those “white strips” before and they're decent, but I wanted to try something different. And I wanted someone's advice before I committed to a product. I remembered a video I had seen from one of my favorite YouTubers about a whitening kit she used a few months ago. She even offered a discount code so I was sold!

This is a perfect example of influencer marketing in action. To find out more are this immensely marking tactic, we asked some experts in the field: How can influencer marketing help grow my business?

 

There is a reason influencer marketing is starting to take a bigger share of marketing budgets.

When done well, it gains you access to an engaged and trusting group of potential customers that look to the influencer for advice and recommendations.  Influence campaigns increase your social reach and if the message resonates with the audience they can become your own loyal fans and followers to market to in the future.

Beyond the social following influencers bring to the table, there is value in the content they are creating for you that you can reuse over and over again. Additionally allowing influencers flexibility in the content can create can get you new ideas of messaging to use or even new ways to use your product that different audiences might appreciate more than what you already have in mind.

Dan Bagby, Seasoned Influence

 

After being in digital marketing for over 6 years, everyone is becoming more and more disconnected. Even with Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter and everyone can see what anyone is up to BUT there isn't any meaningful relationships being built.

That is where being an influencer or authority in your field will allow your business to stand out from the rest.

No matter what platforms come up in the future, your reputation stays with you and that is the foundation to a long-term sustainable business.

Stan Tan, Selby's

 

Influencer marketing is all about reaching new audiences in a targeted and considered way. An influencer holds social sway over their audience, which means that if you can gain their recommendation you're also likely gain the approval of their followers. By identifying and working with influencers in your niche, you gain access a highly engaged audience with little effort. Influencers act like a megaphone for your message, amplifying  and giving it extra credibility.

So how can you take advantage of this? The most difficult part is finding an influencer who matches your brand tone and reaches your target audience. Research how your target audience likes to consume their media and focus on those platforms. For social networks like Instagram and Twitter, follow hashtags and trends until you find someone you wish to work with. Engage with them and, if you're persuasive enough, you'll have yourself a powerful collaborator.

Jordan Harling, Wooden Blinds Direct

 

What is the most valuable and coveted business commodity that every brand is struggling to acquire? The answer is Trust, simple yet powerful, takes years to build, seconds to break and without which there can be no bonds between brands and consumers.

Research suggests that consumers are more likely to buy your product if it is recommended to them by someone they know or connect with. And this is where Influencers play their role. Since Influencers are consumers themselves, your target audience will find them trustworthy. Also, Influencer Marketing is one of the fastest ways to help consumers develop trust.

Here's what you can achieve with Influencer marketing.

  1. You'll be able to reach a wider audience.
  2. Your social media presence will be enhanced.
  3. Your brand authority will gradually increase.
  4. Your messages get conveyed faster to your audience.
  5. You can expect a high Return on Investment (ROI).
  6. With good exposure and credibility, you'll ultimately gain customer loyalty

Sowndarya Kishore, SocialAnimal

 

There are so many creative ways to reach media influencers and get the media to cover your story, product, or yourself.  Here are some things small business owners should do when trying to reach influencers:

  1. Media contacts are living and swimming in the digital platform. It's a good idea, besides pitching to their direct email, to follow media contacts on social media. Most of them have their social media profiles available since they are public figures..
  2. Check out the site https://famebit.com/ . Famebit allows you to connect with social media influencers who average over 2.5 billion followers. You can have YouTube celebs promote your product or service for as little as $100.
  3. Connect with bloggers who cross relate to your industry. There are many free sites that have a list of bloggers/influencers, but my best advice is to start local. Find out who is the most influential blogger in your town, neighborhood, or city. Sometimes geographic similarities is a starting point for a great connection or story idea.

Vicky Llerena, Social Vibes Media

 

Influencer marketing leverages both the power of social media platforms and the extended reach of a borrowed audience.

It's crucial to not only pair with an influencer who could potentially use your product or service in real life but also consider that influencer's audience demographics. While the influencer might be interested in your business, that doesn't necessarily mean their followers will be.

For example, famous YouTube vlogger Casey Neistat is 36 years old, but a majority of his following online is considerably younger. Before investing in an influencer partnership, make sure that your business appeals to both the influencer and their audience.

However, when you find that magical partnership, cultivate that relationship. Having an influencer provide genuine feedback regarding your product is the modern equivalent of face-to-face recommendations. It provides exposure with a high ROI for generally very little investment compared to traditional sponsorships.”

Shelby Rogers, DigitalUs

 

With social media becoming increasingly pay to play and algorithm updates making it trickier to reach customers through brand pages, influencer marketing has become more important than ever. Influencers have the unrivaled potential to reach highly targeted audiences and use their own authority to build trust and loyalty for your brand. And the numbers show it works: business earn an average of $6.50 on every $1 spent on influencer marketing.

To capitalize on influencer marketing, you'll first need to determine your approach: will your brand work with several large-scale influencers or enlist a legion of micro-influencers? How will you incentivize them? Do you have tools and techniques for managing your influencers, such as trackable links, dashboards, and reports? How do you define success? The fantastic thing about influencer marketing is that it's scalable: even the most basic approach, such as distributing complimentary products for reviews, may see great results, but getting sophisticated with your strategy and data can skyrocket your ROI.

Kirstie Jeffries, Annex Cloud

 

My short answer is influencer marketing is a concept that can be applied to a wide variety of businesses, from B2C cosmetic companies to B2B software company. What ends up differing is how one decides to setup an influencer campaign, which ends up being very dependent upon the buyer persona – who are you trying to influence, the desired KPI – what outcome do you want, and then based on that information the more granular items of network selection (Facebook, Instagram, blogs, etc.), categorical match, and ultimately creating a concise pitch that delivers as much value as you're comfortable providing to an influencer.

Once you have answered those questions, running an influencer campaign is actually quite simple, with many networks and agencies to choose from – it becomes a simple numbers game and trusting the process you created to reached the desired outputs based on the upfront labor inputs you created.

Joe Sinkwitz, Intellifluence

 

Influencer Marketing can introduce you to new audiences and gain your brand goodwill and credibility, if you don't make the obvious mistakes.

Apply the same marketing fundamentals you apply anywhere. Focus on influencers that resonate with your target audience and don't be compelled by shiny big names with an undefined audience base. Track results. Repeat where successful and abandon where measurable results aren't available.

Gen Z reacts negatively to ads. By 2020, they'll be 40% of the shoppers in the US. Half of them won't use Facebook this year. Use influencers to reach them – but remember they feel authenticity and loathe commercialism. Let the influencers guide you on how to speak their language.

Gil Eyal, HYPRBRands

 

Aligning yourself and working with the right influencer not only helps to put your brand in front of your audience, it does so in a way that actually resonates. When you convey your message via an influencer, your audience is actively listening, trusting and more importantly; likely to takeaction. This is reflected in the data, which has found over 90% of people trust recommendations from other people over brands.

Combine this with the fact influencer marketing can be more cost effective than traditional online advertising and it becomes a no-brainer.Rather than working on a $5 CPM on Facebook or YouTube for example, brands who work with influencers can negotiate based on clicks, purchases or exchanges products for collaborations. Which is why brands who do work with influencers are seeing an average of $6.85in media value for every $1 that they spent on paid media.

Amy Baker, Content Career

 

We use influencer marketing as part of our digital marketing strategy for Instagram (363k followers), and it's our favorite platform because we get the most engagement out of it. Our target audience includes fashion oriented people who attend music festivals and enjoy electronic dance music.

We engage in influencer marketing in a variety of ways. We find popular accounts who meet our criteria for selection, and we engage in a conversation to gauge whether or not it's a good fit.

For us, the most important element of an influencer package aside from cultural fit, is the overall reach of their account. We measure our return on investment based on the number of impressions we receive, how much referral traffic we get, and of course – how many sales come as a result of the campaign. Aside from influencer marketing, we also do a lot of giveaways.

Typically, we give away festival tickets. We encourage our fans to tag five of their friends and share the contest, which helps our page grow exponentially.

Brandon Chopp, iHeartRaves

 

One often overlooked benefit of working with influencers is that data from their “followers” can be leveraged to strengthen market research and impact bigger marketing decisions. Understanding your target market is crucial in any industry and an influencer campaign of any kind will produce extremely valuable data on a target market.

The key is to be able to analyze this data to for future decisions. Marketing teams can even reach out to micro-influencers to research how niche communities react to different types of messaging. While only a secondary benefit, understanding how certain markets react to your messaging will ultimately support business growth in the long run!

Jacob Dayan, Community Tax

12 Expert tips on growing your business using influencer marketing
As someone who is an at home marketer, I typically spend my days downing cups of tea while glued to my laptop. Because of this, I get one of those teeth whitening kits every few years. (How does this Amy Brueckman
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