Do you struggle to write great headlines and optimize your content to attract more readers? If your headline does not grab the attention of your prospect, your content won't be read. If your content is not optimized correctly, search engines won't find it and you won't gain traffic.
Online content creation is difficult. There's a lot to it. Fortunately, there are some excellent tools available to help you maximize your effort. In the article Tools to Help You Optimize Blog Headlines and Content at ProBlogger.com, top tools are listed that will help you create powerful headlines and optimized content for increased visibility.
All the tools listed in this article can help you develop your headlines and optimize your content. For even more marketing information, read the CEO's 2016 Guide to Marketing and learn how to create and execute your own 2016 marketing strategy.
Are there other headline and content tools you've found helpful? Share your favorites with everyone in the comments!
Your digital marketing strategy probably looks something like this:
You take out pay-per-click ads to drive traffic from search engines and social media
You write guest articles on other sites to get more exposure
You invest in SEO and try to rank for important keywords in your industry
You drive traffic and increase conversions on your website
This is great. You’re doing what you’re supposed to do.
However, you might be missing out on a buyer-focused marketing process that could exponentially increase your leads. It’s called Inbound Out Marketing, and you might actually be closer to it than you think.
Inbound Out Marketing combines inbound marketing with targeted outreach. This outreach is laser-focused to your ideal prospects. It fills the gap that other digital marketing strategies may miss, because many prospects do not hang out in the traditional online channels.
Here’s the thing:
Your sales team is probably already doing targeted outreach. Your marketing team is probably creating content and finding prospects.
But they’re not combining their efforts as effectively as they could be. That’s why you’re close to Inbound Out Marketing, but you’re not quite there yet.
Let me show you why:
How Your Sales Team is Close to Inbound Out Marketing
Salespeople are masters of converting leads into customers. They reach out, they identify wants/needs, and they close the deal.
Your sales team is conducting targeted outreach. They get a list of potential customers and contact each one to weed out the tire kickers from the devoted customers.
Their outreach is effective, but it’s not as effective as it could be. You see, these leads don’t have a strong connection to your business yet. Your customers will eventually have this connection, but your leads don’t.
This lack of trust makes it more difficult for your sales team to close. It’s a snag in the marketing/sales funnel.
But you can remedy this by moving some of that targeted outreach over to marketing. This will make your sales team even better at what they do, and your marketing team will become a stronger asset to your business.
How Your Marketing Team is Close to Inbound Out Marketing
Marketing has one primary job: Generate leads.
But they also have many secondary jobs:
Get your business in front of potential buyers
Execute various online marketing strategies
Interact with potential customers after they find your business
And much more.
To do this, they probably create valuable content in the form of blog posts, videos, infographics, webinars, etc. This content is one of the best ways to attract prospects.
But they’re missing one key ingredient.
Your marketing team is only engaging prospects once they have found your business. They lack the targeted outreach to find potential customers who are not actively seeking you out.
These prospects aren’t on social media, they aren’t Googling your services, and they’re not trying to find you. Heck, they may not even know your service exists. (This is especially the case in specialized markets.)
You can fill this hole in your lead generation by adding targeted outreach to your marketing strategy. In other words, Inbound Out Marketing.
It involves reaching out to prospects with useful content, establishing a connection with your business, building micro-rapport, and ultimately developing a relationship with your company.
Then these leads are sent over to Sales, where they are much warmer than they ever would have been before.
Your sales team is more effective. Your marketing team is more effective. And your business grows at an astounding rate because of it.
What To Do Next
To find out more about how Inbound Out Marketing can grow your business, here are a few resources to check out:
"Inbound Marketing will get you leads," they said.
"Start a blog and the leads will pour in," they said.
"This is a waste of time!" you said.
When it comes to inbound marketing, just because you publish a few posts that talk about your company does not mean you are going to get the results you are hoping for. There is a lot more to it than that.
If your inbound marketing is not producing the results you thought it would, take a step back, examine what is going on, find the problem, and then fix it.
To do this I recommend you take a deep breath, take a real look at your content, and then ask yourself these 8 important questions:
1. Do I know my target audience?
The most important thing to consider with any type of content is who you are writing for. If the information you place on your website is not performing like you think it should, it might be because you don't know enough about your prospects.
The first step to creating content is to clearly define your ideal prospect. The better you are at defining your prospect, the better you'll be able to shape your content to serve your target audience.
Download our Precise Prospect Profile Kit and define your ideal prospect.
2. Does my content provide solutions my audience needs?
Buyers are at your site for a reason. They need help and they are hoping the information you provide will help them.
It is not enough just to produce content, you must address the questions and concerns your prospects have. If you are not answering your prospect's questions, they will leave your site and go elsewhere.
The better you are at answering the questions your prospects are asking, the higher you will rank and the more visitors you will get.
3. Are my blog titles compelling?
The headline is the most important part of an article, because its purpose is to get the reader to read the first sentence. If it falls short, the rest of your content will go unread.
Concentrate on making your headlines fun, catchy, and magnetic. Ask yourself, "Would this make me want to read on?" If your answer is yes, then you have a winner.
To learn more about creating great headlines, check out this article on how to write enticing headlines.
4. Am I using the right keywords?
One of the most successful ways to gain more traffic is through the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).The better you get at SEO, the more you can increase the amount of traffic that comes to your site.
If you research and discover the keywords that prospects in your target market are using when they search, you will know the terms and phrases to use in your content and you will also learn more about your prospects.
These important keywords and keyword phrases must be part of your SEO strategy. Place them in your blog title and multiple times throughout your blog post.
5. Are my images attractive and fun?
Earlier we said the purpose of the headline is to get the first sentence read. Well, having a great image can give your headline a big boost!
Great images attract readers' attention and will enhance your post. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure the images you use are telling the right story and attracting readers.
To learn more about how to use images to enhance your blog, check out this article.
6. Am I adding calls-to-action to all my posts?
Inbound marketing is about so much more than just getting visitors to your site. You need to convert these visitors to leads, and you can do this through having compelling and relevant calls-to-action in your blog posts and on your home page.
A call-to-action prompts your visitors to take action. CTA's should direct your visitors to a landing page where they will give you their contact information in exchange for a valuable piece of content.
Align your calls-to-action with the information on that page as well as the stage of the sales cycle that person is likely to be in. Help your visitor decide what to do next rather than leaving them to decide that on their own.
7. Am I doing more than publishing content on my own site?
Social media is the perfect medium to let people know you have just published a new blog post. Sharing your content on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter can help get the word out about your company.
Make sure the content you produce can be easily shared with others.
8. Am I on the right platform?
There are so many different social media platforms out there, that it would be difficult to be amazing on every single one. Stick with the 3 or 4 that have the greatest potential for reaching your ideal audience.
Your ideal audience spends time on specific social media sites. Those sites are where your prospects are most likely to see your content.
To find the platform that makes the most sense for you, check out this article on how to choose the right social network for your business.
Inbound marketing is all about working smarter for your web site visitors and earning leads through the great content that you post. You can gain a lot of attention and your site will increase its traffic in a substantial way if you create the kind of content your target market values. As your traffic increases, so will your leads.
Clearly defining your audience makes all the difference when creating content and will help ensure your success.
Address the issues that keep your prospects awake at night by creating content that solves those problems using your products or services.
Carefully choose your blog titles, keywords, and images so they enhance your content.
Convert visitors to leads using appropriate calls-to-action.
Sharing content and engaging people on the right social media channels plays a vital role in the amount of website traffic that comes to your site.
How do you search for answers when you have a problem you need to figure out? If you're like me, you type your question into Google to find the information you need.
Your buyers do the exact same thing! Over 70% of buyers turn to Google to search for answers when they realize they have a problem and are trying to find a solution. Google processes over 3.5 billion searches a day!
However, not all the content those searches return is good. Content that focuses on a product's features, isn’t easy to find, and doesn't provide the answers to the questions buyers have, will drive them to find their answers elsewhere.
But if that content addresses buyer's needs, provides solutions to their problems, and differentiates from the competition by showing why a product or service is the perfect solution to their issues, buyers will devour it and crave more.
Focusing on the needs of your buyers by having content that is both engaging and relevant is rewarded with their attention, and if buyers find your product or service to be a fit, their business.
But this kind of high quality content that is buyer-focused can be difficult to create. Below are 3 things you can do to create the kind of content your buyers will love!
#1 Know Your Buyers.
To create content that will attract and inform, you must understand who your buyers are, what they want, what they like, and what they dislike. To get information like this you need to spend time developing your buyer personas.
We have done a lot of the ground work for you with our Precise Prospect Profile Kit. It requires some work, but will be well worth the effort. The better you know your audience, the easier it is to create the kind of buyer-focused content you need to win their business.
#2 Know Your Buyers’ Most Pressing Issue, Pain, or Desire.
Understanding the predominant problem that has brought your previous buyers to your door -- especially your best and most profitable ones -- will help you create content that attracts more of those kinds of buyers.
Invite and analyze feedback from these buyers to ensure more content is published around the topics that are affecting them. The better your understanding of what is driving people to seek out products and services like yours, the better your content will be.
#3 Talk About Benefits Not Features
Your content needs to focus on benefits, not features. It will fail if you use it to talk about the features of your product.
A feature is something that is in a product and a benefit is something your customer gets from a product. When you focus on telling your buyers about the most important benefits they will get from using your product or service, they won’t be able to get enough of the information you produce.
So there we have it, three things you can do to ensure you are creating content your buyers will love.
Creating buyer focused content includes: Understanding who your buyers are, knowing their most pressing pain or desire, and talking about the benefits they will get from using your product or service. Do this and you will create content that is buyer-focused that is valuable and engaging, and has the greatest potential of turning those buyers into customers.
Develop your buyer personas to understand who your buyers really are.
Address your buyer's pain points and desires with your content.
Talk about the benefits your buyers will achieve by using your product or service.
Ernest Hemingwayonce said: “The first draft of everything is sh*t.” Despite his potty mouth, I think he’s right.
Think about this: When you write an article and read it over for the first time, how many elementary mistakes do you make? Words are spelled wrong. Sentences don’t make sense. Commas are missing.
But after that first round of editing, the article becomes infinitely better. At least, that’s what you hope.
Well, hope no longer. I’m going to teach you 9 copy editing tips that will polish any content you edit.
You will learn how to edit consistently and effectively. Here we go:
1. Don’t Forget The Purpose of Your First Paragraph
The purpose of the first paragraph is to get the second paragraph read. The purpose of the second paragraph is to get the third one read, and so forth.
When you’re editing, pay attention to how your article moves the reader along. Focus on how each paragraph compels people to read the next one.
2. The 3 Parts of a Magnetic Intro
After the headline, your content lives and dies at the introduction. It needs to be as compelling as possible.
Here are the 3 parts to a magnetic introduction:
Hit the reader early on with your most compelling idea.
Break your intro in small paragraphs.
Give the reader a subtle nudge towards the rest of your content.
Let’s break it down:
Hit the reader early on with your most compelling idea
At the beginning of this article, I discussed the mistakes we make in the first draft (and Ernest Hemingway agreed with me).
This is the most compelling idea: The first draft (usually) needs a ton of work.
Break your intro in small paragraphs
The first three lines of this article are one sentence each, and there are no more than two sentences per line.
Breaking your introduction into small paragraphs makes it easier to read. If it’s easier for people to read, they’re more likely to read it. Simple as that.
Give the reader a subtle nudge towards the rest of your content
I also included a slight nudge to keep people reading — with a benefit for reading and a call to action:
“You will learn how to edit content consistently and effectively.
Here we go:”
The three elements above make your intro work for you, rather than against you. It compels people to keep reading, rather than click the back button.
It’s really important to make sure these elements are present in your introduction.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Entire Paragraphs (And Replace Them)
You’re not married to your first draft.
If a word, sentence, paragraph, or an entire section doesn’t fit well in the piece, remove and/or replace it.
4. Watch Out For Words Like “Very” and “Really”
Are you very tired? Or are you tired?
Are you really hungry? Or are you hungry?
We use words like “very” and “really” in our everyday language to emphasize thoughts and feelings. However, in writing, they can actually diminish the power of the words that follow.
“I’m really happy you came. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.”
“I’m happy you came. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.”
As you edit, when you read a word like “very” or “really”, delete it and re-read the sentence. Then decide which sentence works best.
5. Use This Simple Trick To Draw Readers In
Here’s the trick:
Break your paragraphs into fewer sentences.
Just like with the intro, this also improves the readability of the rest of your content.
Breaking up your paragraphs makes your writing easier to read. It’s easier for the reader’s eyes to identify words and stay on the correct line.
This is especially true of online content, because reading from a screen causes more strain on one’s eyes. A good guideline is no more than 3-4 sentences per paragraph, with most of your paragraphs at 2 sentences.
6. Keep Word Choice and Your Topic In Sync
Our President, Clarke Bishop, demonstrates this very well in his Youtube video on editing content:
Word choice is important to both the flow and comprehension of your piece. You will find that as you read over your content, certain words will make you stop and re-read the sentence.
Odds are, those words don’t fit with the topic or they need to be replaced with a word that makes more sense.
7. Simplify Your Sentences to Connect With More People
Studies indicate that the average adult reads at about a middle school to 9th grade level.
This means they might not understand (or want to read) complicated sentences and advanced vocabulary.
If you want to reach more people with your content, products, and services, simplify your sentences. Use words that are more common in everyday language.
The people with more advanced vocabulary won’t complain, and your content will connect with more readers.
8. Use Subheadings to Break Up Your Content
Subheadings also make your articles easier to read. They give the reader’s mind a break every once in a while and help keep their minds from wandering off topic.
9. Write In The Active Voice
Here’s an example of the passive voice:
“He was hit in the head by the ball.”
And the active voice:
“The ball hit him in the head.”
The active voice is easier to read and comprehend. But how can you tell whether you’re writing in the active or passive voice?
In passive voice, the subject (he) is being acted upon (was hit in the head).
In active voice, the subject (the ball) is performing the action (hit him in the head).
To identify the passive voice easily, look out for the word “by”. When you identify the passive voice, rearrange the sentence so the subject is performing the action.
Then decide which one sounds better.
10. Bonus Editing Tip: Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Rules Every Once In A While
While bad writing is distinct from good writing, sometimes it’s necessary to break a rule here and there. No sentence should be judged on its own, but rather, in combination with the sentences surrounding it and the piece overall.
If that means breaking a rule, so be it.
A Challenge For You
I have purposely left a few edits that could make the writing flow better.
Leave a comment below if you think you have found the mistake. Let’s see if you can get it right ;). If you can’t find the problems, leave a comment anyway, and I’ll send you the answer.
Good writing is a result of good editing.
Make sure to write a compelling intro that draws people into your content.
Refer to this list of editing tips whenever you need a refresher.
Content is king - a simple yet profound sentence for business owners and online marketers. Generating content that educates, empowers and informs - while promoting it to the right audience, will ultimately help your business grow online.
Content marketing is the art form of attracting and engaging your customers and prospects with content (like blog posts, videos or e-books) that paves the way to stronger relationships between marketers and their audience.
Oftentimes, small businesses don’t have enough time or resources to launch successful content marketing campaigns. This type of “education-based marketing” involves consistent effort, and content creation budgets that some small business owners just doesn’t have. So how do you make content marketing easier for you?
Consider creating content in ways that allow you to present something of incredibly high value to your audience - without spending as much time. You can attend conferences and post your notes, have someone interview you and transcribe the conversation or you could create a poll and write about the results. Don’t overlook the fact, that you can also repurpose older content and giving them new value. Looking for more tips? Try these three…
Always make your content relevant to your brand and to what your business or company upholds. Make sure that your content reflects what your brand is truly about.
Make sure your content is shareable. Have share buttons for social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, to make your information sharable to your reader’s network with the click of a button.
Consider telling it from a story point of view. A real human experience will attract greater attention and is more relatable for your audience. People will want to read about something that they can connect with as a similar experience.
If you’re a business owner, don’t overlook the fact that your employees are knowledgeable and have a unique perspective of their industry. They will have certain insights from customer interactions that can be used for educational content. If you stay creative, and think with an open mind – you can come up with a large variety of resources from which to pull from!
Whatever source you use to pull resourceful education from, make sure it’s a high value to your audience, and something helps them see why you are the right company they should trust. Content marketing takes a continual effort, and will work for you when you remain consistent.
Because of the advances in mobile apps and more web integration with social communities, (and faster internet for almost everyone), marketers have a unique advantage to more quickly and easily reach their target prospects.
Just because we’re “more connected” with our target market of prospective buyers, doesn’t mean that they’re seeing what you’re posting, or anxiously anticipating your next blog or article. With the overflowing growth of content online, many of your consumers are getting overwhelmed with information, and sometimes see the same info repeated in multiple websites or posts. It isn’t a matter of merely providing information anymore for your consumers, but remembering to educate to empower their buying decision. And when done correctly, they will be armed with buying knowledge to make the intelligent purchasing decision from you - because you taught them how to buy.
The challenge for business owners, executives and marketing managers, is to provide the kind of content that repositions you out front of your competitors. Here are just a few ideas:
Understand your buyers: insight into the knowledge level of your buyers is best obtained from third party buyer research. My point of view: do not skimp here.
Develop a strategy: only 38% of businesses have a content strategy. My point of view: take time to formulate a content strategy based on buyer research – do not make it up.
Put structure in place: be purposeful by creating an Internal Content Marketing Agency. My point of view: do not make content marketing an orphan child.
Acquire talent: get the right content creation talent with the right skills. Do the proper talent assessment. My point of view: adding a line to an existing job description role and calling someone a content marketer will not work.
The ability to consume, discern, assimilate and make use of content on the part of buyers is doubling every year. Is your content marketing keeping pace with your customers?
Your content marketing strategies will make or break your business. No matter what strategy you plan to use, it always boils down to what you can offer the consumers. Buyers don’t want to be fooled by irrelevant and unnecessary information. Instead, anticipate what your target wants, and educate them by giving them what they need.
For any business to be successful, you must focus completely on your targeted audience. After all, the success of your business is determined by how well you connect, communicate and nurture your audience. But in the world of marketing, where change is always constant, how do you attract your audience and maintain any level of relationship with them - especially with ever-changing technology, the distraction of social media and still gain word of mouth influence? Here are three suggestions:
Start with the most basic but equally important factor, appearance. You might be tempted to think that looks may not be important, but keep in mind that it does matter (a lot). Your company’s website or blog should be professional-looking and uncluttered to your potential customers and clients. In order to capture their attention, the look of your website or blogs should present professionalism, be easy to read and capture their attention - visually.
Draw their attention with your content. You will immerse your targeted audience in reading your company’s site or blogs when you publish content that is relevant, informative and even entertaining. Your educational content should be something that your customers and prospects actually need, and find helpful. Write content that is useful and purposive for them – something worth sharing.
Engage and interact with your targeted audience. Your company’s website and blogs should provide an open forum for discussion between you and your prospects and customers. This will enable you to get to know them better, and their feedback and suggestions regarding your products and services will also help improve your company. Remember that keeping an open mind for suggestions and improvement will empower your network to propel your success.
These are just some basic things you can do to attract your targeted audience and maintain their loyalty to your brand. To learn what not to do, Stephanie Sammons wrote an article about things marketers do that will drive your audience away in: “7 Ways to Turn Off Your Online Audience”. What would you add to this list?
Today’s consumers are becoming more aware and wiser when searching for, and choosing products and services they want. The last thing you want to do is run them off and have them shop with your competition. Most times, you’re making obvious mistakes that can be easily fixed. Understand these ways to keep your audience engaged, so that you keep them coming back for more.
With the presence and power of social media, what better way to connect with your prospects and customers than through a platform which allows them to learn, share and engage with you and your company?
Chances are your prospects, customers and partners are engaging in social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. Done correctly, social media allows you to showcase your products and services in a way that educates, empowers and engages your network in a very cost-effective way. Social media encourages you to interact with your prospects through forums and discussions, which will help in your company’s growth not only in profits, but also in terms of branding. You want to be the business that fully understands what your prospects need, and have an expectation of what they need now, and will need down the road.
There are many social networking sites you can leverage to expand the exposure for your business. In an article by Ann Buehner, she mentioned four sites that are perfect for promoting your business online:
Tumblr - Brands use Tumblr to create a community and to build a following fast with its quick and easy setup, seamless tagging and sharing capabilities. Existing brands also use the short-form blog to breathe life into content through a host of mixed-media that includes photos, links and video. Tumblr does not offer a reporting platform, and does not have the best reputation when it comes to collaborating with brands on advertising opportunities.
Pinterest - Brands use Pinterest to build brand personality and inspire trends and influencers through instant social sharing. Pins are typically centered on major life events such as weddings and holidays. Users create theme-based collections through the site’s virtual pinboards. Dialogue is generated through the simple act of pinning, repining, “Liking” and commenting on images taken on a smartphone or from the web.
Instagram - Brands use Instagram to showcase products, services, events or just a behind-the-scenes look through a feed of photos, instead of a slew of text. The photo sharing application for iPhone uses dazzling image filters, and features cross-posting to other social networks including Twitter, Facebook profiles, Flickr, Foursquare, Tumblr and Posterous. The goal is to attract new fans with Instagram’s search and keyword function, and to draw engagement through likes, comments, @replies and #hashtags.
Tout - Brands use Tout to create real-time, 15-second video status updates captured from Apple and Android smartphones, and then distributed through social networks. Instant video sharing is on the rise as more and more consumers use smartphones. Tout offers integration across multiple platforms such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, and does include analytics. It’s essentially video Twitter.
With more social networking sites available at your fingertips, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the tools and features in order to use them to their fullest potential for your business’ success.
Blogging can be an essential way to inform and educate your prospects on their wants and needs (that your products or services may help them with). Because building a business empire takes an extraordinary amount of time and effort, and blogging is just one aspect of it, most busy professionals neglect updating their company blogs.
If you want to lengthen the life of your blogs, and you don’t have the time to update your blogs on a consistent basis- what should you do? Here are six strategies you can put into place right away:
Make sure that your blogs are search engine friendly. Always double check your title and description tags, categories and keywords to be certain that they stay relevant to your post. Make sure you don’t stray from the guidelines set forth by search engines, otherwise your blog will be penalized.
Inter-link your posts. Make sure that when writing your post, you link relevant keyword phrases to previously published articles. It will help in your search engine optimization.
Send your subscribers emails about your post. Include a brief summary of your blog and communicate the value of why they should read your blog by telling them how it can help solve their problems. You can also encourage them to subscribe to your blog so that they don’t miss out on the important updates. By doing this, you will build a stronger relationship with your email subscribers.
Be certain that your blogs have CTAs (Call-to-Action). This directs your readers on what they need to do next, and so they will know where to reach you. CTAs are important because, in most instances, people need to be told what to do and typically respond well when there’s a clear step of what to do next.
Repurpose your blogs. By sharing someone else’s information that would also be beneficial for your network, you can repurpose a blog or article that’s an old post (that’s still relevant) or use as a theme for one of your upcoming webinars. By using other’s content, you now have an entire mini-package comprised of useful information and tools to share with your prospects or clients.
Use social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter. These are a popular and valuable platform to showcase your blogs and articles. Link your post to your social networking sites to spread your content across all platforms, and allow your readers to “share” these resourceful posts.
Blogging will be a major asset for your business to reach your targeted prospects as long as you stay relevant and true to your prospects needs. Offer realistic and timely solutions in every post, in order for your customers to feel value and to help gain their trust. Blogging allows you to interact and engage with your audience, and to get immediate feedback regarding their concerns. Engaging them in discussions to gather comments and suggestions regarding your company’s brand will help your business grow profitably and professionally.
The most important thing you should remember in blogging is consistency. Even if you can’t regularly post blogs, make sure you continue to communicate with your prospects and clients through your blogs to strengthen your relationship with them.