4 W’s and an H: Blog planning in 5 steps

business blog planning

Introduction

Although by nature blogs have a certain spontaneity about them, an effective company blog is meticulously planned and consistently executed.  Planning ensures you meet your marketing goals by publishing quality content on a regular schedule.  Your subscribers and interested readers want to know when they can expect new content from a source they have come to trust. business blog planning

The blog plan sits within and supports your greater content marketing strategy.  However, a company blog is such a valuable marketing asset that it needs a plan of its own.  A plan that describes:

  1. Why you blog – Goals and objectives
  2. Who you blog to – Market and audience research
  3. What you blog about – Keyword research
  4. When you blog – Production scheduling
  5. How you blog – Promotion planning

This post will examine each step in building a blog plan.

Blog planning in 5 steps

1. Why you blog – Goals

The first step in any plan is to set goals.  In a blog plan, goals for the blog should support the company’s business goals as well as the goals of your content marketing strategy.  Goals like generating leads and building thought leadership.  By establishing goals and objectives for your blog in general and for each individual blog allows you to understand what success looks like.

2. Who you blog to – Market research

Market research helps to define your audience and assess your competitors.  The more you learn about your audience, the better able you’ll be to provide the content they want.  By understanding your competitors, you can craft better content.

Audience research

Getting to know your target audience is key to crafting relevant content.  You need to learn what:

  • people expect from blogs in your niche;
  • kind of content do they find useful and exciting;
  • benefits do they expect to receive from your blogs; and
  • makes them tick and compels them to keep coming back for more.

It may not be easy to define your target audience when you have no blog subscribers.  One way to get an idea of what your audience wants is to conduct a survey.  Ask what your audience wants more information about.  Ask what they like about your blog and what other blogs they like.

Competitive analysis

As well as understanding your audience you need to understand your competition.  How are they promoting their content?  What are they blogging about?  By having an insight into their content strategy, you can fine-tune your own.  Find your own unique voice in your niche.  You can only do that if you know the competition.

3. What you blog about – Keyword research

While there are many sources of ideas for topics to blog about, you can boost your search results by using keywords to come up with topics.  That means carrying out keyword research.

Start with main your main keyword.  Keyword analyzers suggest keyword combos then rank them on # of searches a month.  You should check out related words and terms.  Search on semantically-related words like the individual components of water treatment systems.

Long-tail keywords – 3 to 4-word phrases, will get you less traffic but more targeted searchers.  When they find your page, they are more likely to become a lead because the search was more focused.

business blog planningYou can find keywords and phrases through the auto suggest on Google.  When you type in a keyword or phrase, a dropdown list will display previous search phrases.

At the bottom of the Google search page is another source of keywords.  Google provides a list of other search terms and phrases that are similar to the current one.

By basing the topics on keywords and featuring the focus keyword in page titles, headers, alt tags, and images you can optimize your blog for search engines.  Be sure to provide links back to your power pages – products and services, and a call-to-action that encourages further engagement.

So, certainly, contact your sales team and find out what questions are being asked.  Join and follow forums in your niche, paying attention to problems being discussed.  Just be sure to research keywords regularly to keep you blog on the first page of Google.

4. When you blog – Production scheduling

The production schedule for your company blog fits into content calendar of your greater content marketing strategy (that further establishes thought leadership and builds trust by publishing white papers, case studies regularly.)business blog planning

You may want to plan posts in a series with a contextual lead magnet at end of each.  Start with big ideas based on market and keyword research, and then keep subdividing until each topic is based on one compelling idea.  Plan to post weekly to begin with but that is really a minimum.  Hubspot found that B2B businesses who blog at least 20 times per month have five times more traffic than those who blog less than four times per month.  Just keep it at a frequency you can maintain consistently.

5. How you blog – Promotion planning

The whole point of a blog is to get your posts read by as many people as possible.  That requires promotion.  The first place to post you blogs is on your company website, of course.  But there are other ways to get your information out to your audience.

Share each post on all your social media channels.  Have your employees send it out to their networks.  Send updates out to your email list with links to your recent post.

Set up your blog so readers can subscribe to get regular updates.  Allow social sharing by including those buttons on the blog.

Your blog is well planned, and you are consistently publishing quality content.  Be sure to get it read by as many people as possible by promoting it effectively.

Conclusion

Follow these 5 steps and you will have a plan that describes:

  1. Why you blog – Goals and objectives
  2. Who you blog to – Market and audience research
  3. What you blog about – Keyword research
  4. When you blog – Production scheduling
  5. How you blog – Promotion planning

Implement this plan consistently and reap the rewards!

Next week’s post examines how to make sure your blog is readable and visually appealing.

Do you have a blog plan? Is it documented and implemented?

 

If your team is already working to capacity delivering quality services to your clients, how do you manage to produce and consistently deliver a quality blog every week?  WATER COPY can help!  I provide blog writing services that will keep your content machine running smoothly.  Contact me to discuss your blogging needs.

CONTACT A BETTER BLOG WRITER

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Blogging benefits the water industry in four ways

Introduction

Why blog?  Is it that important in the water industry?

Let’s think about marketing in the water industry.  What are you selling?  Highly specialized and often complex technology that has a long operational life and a hefty price tag.  These kinds of systems don’t sell themselves nor will the hard sell impress the people who buy them.blogging benefits

How will a company blog help you sell your water treatment systems and services?  What your audience needs is information.  Not about your products but about the problems they are facing.  Once they figure out the problem, they need information about available solutions.

In fact, a typical B2B buyer is more than half way through the buyer’s journey before they engage directly with a supplier.  You gain trust by giving your audience quality information without a hard sell.  An important channel for publishing this information is your company blog.

Blogging benefits the water industry in four ways

You need to think about your company blog as a long-term marketing asset – a critical part of any inbound marketing program.  And although there are many direct benefits to the water industry from maintaining a company blog, four stand out.

Benefit 1:          Increasing traffic to your websiteblogging benefits

A water industry website tends to be static.  You may occasionally publish product updates or refresh some text, but the content mostly stays the same. With a blog, subscribers and new readers come to your site regularly for the fresh content.  Once they are there, they may browse other pages and find further value.

Your products and services pages are important.  Putting in-links from keyword-optimized hyperlinks in the blog will increase traffic to these critical pages.  In-links help boost your site with search engines too.

Benefit 2:          Establishing thought leadership and building trust

Sharing information allows you to establish thought leadership and build trust.  A blog is the perfect place to do just that.  Provide information about problems water managers may be facing and the solutions available.  Keep your blog updated and engaging so that when it comes time to contact a provider, your company comes to mind.

A key aspect of content marketing in general, and blogs in particular, is to avoid the hard sell.  Your posts should inform and entertain, not constantly blast your audience with ads, brochures, or technical fact sheets.

Convince prospects that you’re an involved and informed industry player.  Sharing information on your blog gives your readers insight into the value you offer.  Guide your audience and educate them in how to solve their problems.  But make sure they understand the complexity of the problem and its solution.  Let them know how your company can solve their problem seamlessly.

Benefit 3:          Optimized posts moving you up the search list

Search engines love blogs.  If you blog frequently, and frequency counts, you create more pages and more content for indexing.  This enhances organic traffic to your site when you blog comes up on the first page.

Optimizing each blog for keywords is a must.  Develop blog topics around industry-specific keywords.  However, ‘stuffing’ content with dozens of mentions of keywords is not optimizing.  In fact, search engines frown on the practice, which could lead to your site never appearing on the first page of Google.  Used strategically, however, keywords will bring more traffic to your blog and help to generate leads.

Remember though that SEO is not limited to keywords anymore.  Search engines now assess the readability of content.  The idea is readers prefer content that is easy to read.  Readability and visual design will be the topic of an upcoming blog.

Benefit 4:          Converting leads through Call-to-Actions

Blogs are a classic example of a top-of-funnel tactic.  An excellent top-of-funnel tactic.  Prospects that come to your blog for the quality content can quickly become leads.  Bring them further into the funnel with a clear, compelling call-to-action (CTA) each time you post.  Make the CTA relevant to the topic of the blog.  Invite the prospect to download educational or useful content in exchange for contact information.

An effective CTA leads to an offer that a prospect is willing to trade their contact information for.  What to offer, the lead magnet, will be covered in an upcoming series of blogs.

Conclusion

Clearly, there are many benefits for the water industry in maintaining an effective company blog.  The problems your clients are facing are complex.  The benefits your solutions provide can be difficult to quantify.  Your prospects want information.  A blog provides a powerful platform to provide that information.

By blogging, the water industry benefits four ways:

  • Benefit 1:   Increasing traffic to your website
  • Benefit 2:   Establishing thought leadership and building trust
  • Benefit 3:   Optimized posts moving you up the search list
  • Benefit 4:   Converting leads through Call-to-Actions

An effective company blog is a cost-effective way to raise awareness at the top of the sales funnel.  Consistently publishing quality content on your blog will position you as thought leaders in your field.  It keeps you top of mind with your clients.

The trick, of course, is to post informative and interesting content consistently.  Next week’s post is all about blog planning, and how to develop a production schedule that will keep your blog on track.

What benefits do you reap from your company blog?

If your team is already working to capacity delivering quality services to your clients, how do you manage to produce and consistently deliver a quality blog?  WATER COPY can help!  I provide blog writing services that will keep your content machine running smoothly.  Contact me to discuss your blogging needs.

CONTACT A BETTER BLOG WRITER

 

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Is your case study candidate the Hero of your success story?

case study candidate

Introduction

Is your case study candidate a real hero?

When crafting your next case study into a compelling success story, be sure to pick the right ‘hero’.   A critical part of a successful case study is selecting the right customer.  You want someone who is happily using your product, but they also need to be able to talk about how your product solved their problem.case study candidate

Then, after you pick your hero, you need to get the best story you can.  That involves an interview.  By being organized will make the whole process a breeze.

In this post, we consider how to find your hero and then how to interview that hero.

The Hero

Who is a Hero?

It is important to find a case study candidate that qualifies as a hero for your success story.  You want a smart business leader who identified a challenge or just a better way to solve a problem.  Someone who checked out the different options and picked your solution.  So, you want someone who:

  • has in-depth product knowledge;
  • experienced remarkable or even unexpected results;
  • has a recognizable brand name; and/or
  • switched from a competitor’s product to yours.

Your hero should know your product or service well.  That product knowledge will come through during the interview.

Where is your Hero?

How do you find your hero?  You can find people who are already talking about your product or you can start by canvassing customers.

Find people who already love your product/service.

Check with your sales and service teams.  They hear directly from clients and customers and may know of specific customers that had outstanding results and are happy to talk about it.

Check on review sites on the internet.  Your customers may be posting reviews of your products.  Customers may be talking about you on social media sites.

Send out emails to list of customers

Customers on your email list are another source of potential candidates.

When using email for reach out to case study candidates, you need to follow a few simple rules:

  • Keep your first, introductory email short and to the point. Suggest a time and date to chat further but no specific details.
  • Mention them by name in the email. Don’t send out generic emails; make it personal.
  • Include your own name, too. Let them know who they are dealing with.
  • Be complimentary. Boost their ego and make them feel special for being asked to participate. It may make them more likely to agree to participate.
  • Attach the questions you’d like to ask. This will help them decide whether they want to work with you on your success story.

Will the Hero participate?

You may need to convince your hero to participate.  Emphasize the benefits of being the hero.  You could offer a monetary incentive, but this tends to come off as a bit dubious.  Convince your hero that participating in a case study is really about free publicity and thought leadership.

Your case study candidate should understand that being part of this success story is a win-win situation.  You get to tell your good news story and it gets the hero’s company and its actions out on your channels as well as theirs.

Is the Hero right for the job?

Once you have a short list of case study candidates you need to decide which hero is right for the job.  Conduct a brief interview with each candidate and ask these three questions to reveal all:

  1. Tell me about your company.
  2. Which of our products do you use?
  3. What benefits have you gotten from our products?

You want someone you will give you complete answers.  They may even volunteer information.

Avoid those who give vague, and/or short, answers.  If they can’t define that benefits they have enjoyed, move on.  While chatting try to make sure your hero is going to be easy to work.  You will be connecting with them several times over the course of the project.

Let the runners-up down easy

After you decide on the hero for your success story, be sure to let the runners-up down easy.  Let them know that you appreciate their time, but their story is not in line with current marketing strategies.  You may want to use their story in future.

The Interview

Once you have your hero, you need to get their story.  The interview is crucial.  Be ready, and get the hero ready as well.

The time

This is important.  Your hero is busy.  Don’t waste their time playing phone tag.  Contact the case study candidate and schedule a convenient time for the interview.  Also, don’t waste time during the interview.  It should take less than an hour.

The interview will also go much smoother if, when you schedule the interview, you also send them the questionnaire.

The questionnaire

Sending your case study candidate a copy of the questions serves a number of purposes.  Possibly the most important reason to use a questionnaire is that it makes it that much easier to keep the interview on track.

Keep the questions in the same order as the case study:

  1. About/Background – company, industry, candidate (title and role in company).
  2. Challenge – what challenge were they facing that made them start looking for a new solution.
  3. Solution – how did they a solution and why did they pick you.
  4. Results – what benefits did our solution provide; how did you measure the impact (hard or soft metrics).
  5. Future steps – how the solution will continue to provide benefits into the future.

Since the customer has had a chance to consider the questions, you should be able to draw out details of benefits that were maybe unexpected.  Listen carefully and ask for details of key features and benefits of your solution that really resonated with the customer.

The person

Now this may seem obvious but be sure to interview a real, live person.  A case study based on testimonial videos and notes from the sales team won’t come across as an engaging success story.  You want to be able to draw out details that the customer hadn’t anticipated, just by listening and interacting with a real person.

The record

Whenever possible, and only with the customer’s consent, you should record the interview.  This allows you to focus on the interview and not worry so much about note-taking.  You won’t have to go back to the customer to clarify things you didn’t write down.

Conclusion

Your case study candidate should be the hero of your success story.  By picking the right hero and interviewing effectively, your case study will almost write itself.

Next week’s post will look at how to effectively present your case study and the data that proves the results, your solution.

 

Are you so busy making a difference to your clients that you don’t have time to tell your good news stories?  Have you solved a wastewater problem for a client, a community, a country? Then get that story out there!  Let the world know how your company solves problems and makes a difference.

That’s where WATER COPY comes in.  I research and write top quality science-based ‘good news stories’. (Click here to see more details about my skills and experience).

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT ME

 

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5 Blocks to Build a Successful Case Study

Introduction

In the water industry, trust is everything.  Building trust with your customers and prospects is critical to improving leads and sales.  And for building trust, case studies are unbeatable. case study writing

Unfortunately, case studies about water industry products and services are often dense, difficult to read, and, frankly, a bit dull.  Used to convey complex technical information about a solution to someone’s problem.  Written to a strict formula. No pizzazz.

If you want your case study to resonate with your audience, bring in leads, or close a sale, you need to present it as a success story.  A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem.

In this post we look at the 5 key parts to a case study and how to turn your case study into a compelling success story.

But first, consider your audience

As with any piece of content it is important to know your audience.  The goal of a case study is to build trust, in your product, in your brand.  After your ideal customer reads you case study, you want them to feel that:

  • you are experienced in the industry;
  • you understand their industry’s specific needs; and
  • you know how to get industry-targeted results.

To do that you need to know your audience.

And consider the ‘skimmers’

With so much content out there, many of us have become ‘skimmers’.  Skimming headlines and section headings to see if the content is relevant to our needs.  For these readers you should include an executive summary.  A mini-headline serves to capture attention and then, in a couple of sentences, or better yet dot points, summarize the case.  Highlight the relevant aspects that made it a success story.

5 building blocks for a successful case study

Tell your case study as a success story.  Stories have a beginning, where the hero is faced with a challenge.  Stories have a middle, where a solution is presented.  And they have an end, where the results of the solution provide benefits to the hero.

All case studies follow the same progression.  There are 5 basic blocks needed to build a successful case study:

  1. The Customer (Hero) block
  2. The Challenge block
  3. The Solution block
  4. The Results block
  5. The Future block

Let’s break down each part and see how the facts and details of your case study can be crafted into a success story.

Block 1:              The Customer

This first block is like the prologue to a novel.  This is where you set the scene for your story.  Tell us about:

  • the featured Customer and what do they do;
  • what the Customer wants; and
  • what the Customer needs.

Describe the Customer in terms of their being an industry leader and innovator who found creative ways to solve a business problem using your product, of course.

Remember, although it was your product or service that saved the day, the Customer is always the Hero of your success story.  Always treat your product as a supporting character.

Block 2:              The Challenge

In the Challenge section you describe the obstacles the customer was facing before your solution.  It is important to provide the context right up front.  The key here is to make the challenge universal.  Explain how the customer’s business challenge sits within the water industry.  You want your readers to be able to relate to the hero’s (your customer’s) problem.

Block 3:              The Solution

Here in the middle of the success story comes The Solution.  This is where the hero, your customer, decides to implement a solution to their Challenge.

Take your readers on a journey as the hero searches for a solution.  Explain how your solution compares to any others on the market.  And, of course, your solution proves to be the one that can save the day.

In this section you explain:

  • how your customer found you;
  • how and why they picked your Solution; and
  • how the Solution was rolled out.

Be sure to highlight specific features that appealed to that customer.

You can also provide details of the implementation of the solution.  However, if there were major complications with this stage, conveniently leave that out.

Block 4:              The Results

The Results section is where the data and technical details come in.  This is where you provide proof that your product solved the problem presented in the challenge section.  Charts and graphs describe the data visually.  This not only helps your reader understand your solution, but also breaks up blocks of texts.

Use data relevant to the story.  Summarize large data sets where appropriate and use colors in graphs to highlight trends.

Then describe the benefits of your solution.  Hard numbers are always better, like: ‘boosted revenue by 63%’ but soft benefits, like ‘saved time’ can also work.

Block 5:              Into the Future

As with an epilogue to a novel, this section is often missing from case studies. But describing the customer’s use of your solution in the future can be powerful in generating trust.  Tell how your products will be an essential part of their operations moving forward.

You should explain how your support services provide benefits over the long term.  It demonstrates your commitment to your customers on-going success.

One more thing…

In the water industry, the impacts of your solutions can roll out over time.  Positive business and environmental impacts take time to develop.  Consider keeping up with your customers and chronicle how your solutions continue to provide benefits.  This lets readers see that your goal is not only to help with immediate needs, but also to ensure long term results

This is particularly effective in the water industry as your solutions often provide benefits beyond your immediate customer.  Managing water resources sustainably provides benefits to the community and the environment.  Tell that story, too.

Conclusion

For your case study to resonate with your audience, bring in leads, or close a sale, you need to present it as a success story.  A compelling story of how your solution solved a client’s problem.

In this post we looked at the key building blocks to a successful case study.  And how to turn your case study into a compelling success story.

Come back next week to find out how to find the perfect case study ‘hero ‘and how to interview them.

 

Are you so busy making a difference to your clients that you don’t have time to tell your good news stories?  Have you solved a wastewater problem for a client, a community, a country? Then get that story out there!  Let the world know how your company solves problems and makes a difference.

That’s where WATER COPY comes in.  I research and write top quality science-based ‘good news stories’. (Click here to see more details about my skills and experience).

Contact me to discuss your next case study project.

CONTACT ME

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FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

plain language

FREE DOWNLOAD: A useful plain language checklist

Is your content ‘talking’ to your audience?

plain languageThe whole point of marketing is to start a one-on-one conversation between two people.  Ultimately a conversation between your sales person and their business manager.

Your product is complex and technical.  That’s fine.  But if your content is hard to understand the conversation may never get started.  You need to simplify the language in your content to make your complex, technical product understandable.

Download this useful checklist and keep it handy for when you write your next white paper, case study or blog post.  Make your content more easily understood. More believable. More persuasive.

 

Download Your Free Checklist

 

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Part 5)

readability

We have found an emotionally compelling idea, adopted an easy-to-read style, and kept it concise and to the point.  We have made it skim-able by adding headings and lists. The last step is to complete your structure work.  This week Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

Readers can be intimidated by long blocks of text.  Making content easy to read in a visual sense will make it easier for the reader to understand your key message.

You can soothe the reader’s eye by using white space. Use adequate margins and space between sections. Keep paragraphs short.  The lists we discussed last week help break up text and provide relief to the eye as well as enhancing its skim-ability.

Visual tools can help explain your content.

  • Infographics provide a clear visual representation of data, relationships, or ideas.
  • Tables can help comparisons and show relationships without using a lot of text.
  • Lists group similar items. Numbered lists are ideal for items that are sequenced or ranked; other lists may be bulleted.
  • Other visual tools include inserts, charts, maps, and checklists.

Make sure the tool you use matches your content and the needs of your audience. You can’t explain everything with a pie chart!

Conclusion

In this series we have seen how plain language improves understanding.  Understanding leads to trust, and ultimately to action from your prospect.  Take these 5 simples steps to start the conversation:

  1. Find one compelling idea.
  2. Use an easy-to-read style.
  3. Keep it concise and to the point.
  4. Make it skim-able
  5. Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye.

 

To keep these simple steps in mind while writing, download and print the handy checklist:

Checklist 5 Simple Steps to Start the Conversation

Download Your Free Checklist

 

Contact Water Copy for all your content writing requirements.

CONTACT ME

 

 

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How do you know if your content “worked”?

Introduction

How do you know if your content is ‘working’? content marketing metrics

Over the past weeks we’ve seen how goals and tactics for your content marketing change through the sales funnel.  You will never know if your content achieved the intended goal if you don’t track content marketing metrics.

In this post, we look at how you measure the impact of your content through the sales funnel:

  • Did your content build AWARENESS at the top of the funnel?
  • Did your content enable EVALUATION in the middle of the funnel?
  • Did your content CONVERT leads into customers at the bottom of the funnel?

Section 1: Metrics at the top of the funnel

Top-of-the-funnel goals aim to build awareness of your brand and your solution.  Your metrics need to tell you if the tactics you use are achieving those goals.

  • Increasing offer awareness is a key metric at the top of the funnel.
  • Site engagement rates are little more than vanity metrics. They can include bounce rates, number of site visits and average session length.
  • When another website links to a page on your website, like you blog, it increases your number of inbound links. Search engine use the number of inbound links to rank your site. The more the better!
  • Monitoring traffic by channel will help you focus appropriate tactics on all channels.
  • When visitors don’t respond to your call-to-action, they move to your retargeting list. You can segment your list and retarget them based on their site activities.

Section 2: Metrics in the middle of the funnel

In the middle of the funnel you are trying to keep prospects moving through the sales funnel.  You are offering lead magnets to increase leads and email list growth.  Metrics that will help in the middle of the funnel include:

  • Tracking the number of leads generated and email list growth is a direct measure of a tactics success. You can track lead growth through a CRM and email list growth through email service providers like MailChimp.
  • Offer conversion rate tells you how many visitors opted in to your lead magnet offer. It is quoted as a percent of total visitors to your landing page.
  • Monitoring retargeting list growth will allow you to try other engagement options with visitors that didn’t take up the offer the first time.
  • By tracking newsletter email open/click-through-rate, you will understand what interests your list, what headlines and content is working.

Section 3: Metrics at the bottom of the funnel

At the bottom of the funnel you want to keep your list happy.  You don’t want to bombard them with offers.  You want to keep upselling and cross-selling. And you want to retain customers on any pay services you may offer.

  • The number of sales-qualified leads is the important metric at the bottom of the funnel.
  • You determine the offer conversion rate by dividing the number of purchases by the number of sales page visits.
  • Promo email open/click-through-rates can be monitored by your list manager.
  • Retargeting list growth represents another opportunity to target leads with alternate offers to spark their interest.
  • By determining your average customer value, you can decide how much you can spend to acquire customers.
  • Retention rate will tell you how many customers stayed with you during a given period. To calculate, subtract the number of customer acquired during the period from the number you have at the end of the period.  Then divide that number by the number of customers you had at the start of the period.
  • By monitoring buyer recency/frequency rates, you can keep your brand and messaging in front with quality content.

Conclusion

Over the past few weeks we have seen how goals, tactics, and metrics for your content marketing change through the sales funnel:

  • At the top of the funnel your goals, tactics and metrics focus on building AWARENESS of your brand, your solution.
  • In the middle of the funnel your goals, tactics and metrics aim to provide information that encourages EVALUATION of your solution.
  • At the bottom, your goals, tactics and metrics need to CONVERT leads into customers.

 

 

Do you have trouble producing enough content to satisfy your audience?  Do you struggle producing white papers and case studies? Lack the time to write those blogs, that newsletter article?

I am an expert water quality scientist with experience in the water industry. I understand the science behind your solutions.  I can interpret the jargon.  I can explain complex ideas in simple terms and compel your prospects into action.

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

CONTACT ME

 

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Step 4)

readability

We have found that if you find an emotionally compelling idea, adopt an easy-to-read style, and keep it concise and to the point, your content will be easier to understand.  This week and next we look at ways to structure your document to make it easier to read.  This week Step #4: Make it skim-able.

Step #4: Make it skim-able

You can make your document more user-friendly by providing cues that promote skimming.  There are a couple tricks you can use to help these readers out.

Trick #1: Use headings

Headings show your readers how your document is organized.  And they let your reader skim the text to find the information they’re looking for.  Readers on the Internet tend to move on to something else if they don’t find what they’re looking for quickly.  In longer documents, add a table of contents at the beginning, too.

There are several ways to write a heading.  You can state it as a question, as a phrase or as a declarative sentence:

  • “Are there two kinds of people in the world?”
  • “Two kinds of people in the world”
  • Declarative sentence. “There are two kinds of people in the world.”

 

Trick #2: Break up blocks of text with bulleted/numbered lists

Lists are easy for readers to skim. Choose numbers when presenting a list with items in a specific sequence or rank order. Use bullets when the items listed are equivalent in importance.

Conclusion

These tricks improve readability because:

  • They make it easier for readers to find what they want.
  • They make your content less intimidating by breaking it up visually.

 

Do you have a white paper or case study that didn’t bring the return on investment you had hoped for?  Perhaps it needs a Readability Revamp. 

I am a water quality scientist with fantastic writing skills.  I offer a service that can improve your content’s ROI.  I take the text and bring the FK score down.  I improve the readability without “dumbing” it down. By increasing understanding, I help your readers take the action you desire.

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

 

 CONTACT ME

 

Stay tuned next week for Step #5: Structure it to soothe the reader’s eye

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How to make sure your content achieves your goals

Introduction

Is your content achieving your goals?content marketing tactics

Last week we looked at how important goals are to strategic content marketing.  And we saw how the goals for your content change through the sales funnel.  Now you need to develop content that will achieve those goals.

This week we look at the types of content -tactics – that will support and encourage your prospects in their journey through your sales funnel.

For you see, the tactics you use to deliver your content will change, along with your goals, through the sales funnel:

  • At the top of the funnel your content needs to build AWARENESS
  • In the middle of the funnel, content must enable EVALUATION
  • At the bottom of the funnel, your content needs to CONVERT

Section 1: Tactics at the top of the funnel

At the top of the funnel you are striving to build awareness.  Awareness of your brand and your products.  Awareness that your solution will solve your prospects’ problem.  You may even need to make your prospects aware that they have a problem, a problem you can solve!

At the top of the funnel you provide quality information that informs your audience.  Content should be engaging and informative not full of hype.

There are many tactics that are effective at the top of the funnel.

Blogs are imperative for top-of-funnel content publishing.  Provide relevant and timely information about problems in the industry and available solutions. And provide the information consistently.  Decide on a schedule and stick to it.

When you post a blog you then post social media updates with links back to your blog and website.

Problem/solution whitepapers are an excellent tactic at the top of the funnel.  (More detail about white papers through the sales funnel here).  And whitepapers are a great call to action.  By downloading the white paper, they are showing an interest.  Ready to be drawn further into your sales funnel.

Infographics can provide information in an entertaining and easy to digest format.  And by requiring an email address to download, they become a powerful call to action.

Newsletters are an excellent channel to build and maintain relationships.  Keep the content 80% information and education and 20% about your company.  How you work, how you interact with your community, your employees.

Provide primary research on trends in your industry.  Conduct and report on surveys of your customers about their pain points, issues with current solutions, emerging trends.

Regardless of the tactic used, always provide value.  The top of the funnel is about building awareness.  Establishing trust. And that only comes through quality content provided consistently.

Section 2: Tactics in the middle of the funnel

In the middle of the funnel your prospects are evaluating your solution.  Making comparisons.  Showing some interest but keeping a distance.content marketing tactics

Therefore, in the middle of the funnel, your tactics should provide information that will assist them in their evaluation of your solution.

For you, the middle of the funnel is all about lead magnets.  Lead magnets that compel your prospects to take action.

What is a lead magnet?  A lead magnet is an irresistible bribe that gives a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange to their contact information.

In the middle of the funnel the best tactics include:

Educational resources including case studies, free reports, eBooks, and white papers.  Numbered-list white papers are very effective in the middle of the funnel.  They provide information in an easy-to-read and skim-able format.

Useful resources can be even more powerful than educational resources as lead magnets.  Checklists, templates, tool kits, resource lists all provide that chunk of value that compels your prospect to give you their contact information.

A quiz or survey on a relevant industry topic can entice readers to divulge contact details as well as provide valuable information for blogs and articles.

Webinars and events are an opportunity to provide valuable content while gathering contact information.

In the middle of the funnel your tactics must continue to provide valuable information.  Information your prospects are willing to trade their contact details for.  Lead magnets that change prospects into leads.

Section 3: Content at the bottom of the funnel

At the bottom of the funnel you are striving to convert your leads into customers.  Here you need to provide specific details about your solution.  Enough detail to convince your lead that your solution will in fact solve their problem.

At the bottom of the funnel effective tactics include:

Showing how your solution works with a demo/free trial.

Providing specific, technical information in a backgrounder white paper.  Give your leads all the information they need to convince themselves that your solution will solve their problem.

Using customer success stories to demonstrate how your solution worked for a specific customer.  These stories are closer to testimonials than case studies.  The point is to demonstrate your solution and your services.

Conclusion

You can now see that the tactics you use change as your goals change through the sales funnel.  It is also clear that mapping your content to your buyers’ journey is critical for a good return-on-investment for your content:

  • At the top of the funnel publish content that builds AWARENESS of your brand, your solution.
  • In the middle of the funnel provide information that encourages EVALUATION of your solution.
  • At the bottom, tactics must CONVERT leads into customers.

Next week, we check out how to measure how well your tactics are working through metrics.

 

Do you have trouble producing enough content to satisfy your audience?  Do you struggle producing white papers and case studies? Lack the time to write those blogs, that newsletter article?

I am an expert water quality scientist with experience in the water industry. I understand the science behind your solutions.  I can interpret the jargon.  I can explain complex ideas in simple terms and compel your prospects into action.

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

CONTACT ME

 

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Five simple steps to start the conversation (Step 3)

readability

We now know that if you find one emotionally compelling idea and adopt an easy-to-read style your content will be easier to understand.  This week we look at Step #3: Write concisely and to the point.

Step #3: Write concisely and to the point

When writing about complex technical subjects, you need to construct your sentences carefully.  Direct, simple sentences will help get your point across.  In fact, long sentences almost always have complex grammatical structures.  This puts a strain on the reader’s immediate memory.  The reader has to retain several parts of each sentence before he can combine them into a meaningful whole.

Here are a few tricks to help you keep concise and to the point:

Trick #1: Keep sentences and paragraphs short.

The average length of your sentences should be 20 words or fewer

Trick #2: Sentences should focus on one idea

Keep it simple. Cover only one idea per sentence and one theme per paragraph. Get to the point; don’t wander around first.  Find one emotionally compelling idea, as we discussed in the first post in the series.  Find it here.

Trick #3: Use the active voice

Use the active voice.  The passive voice tends to seem evasive:

The standards were breached.

Who breached the standards? As a reader, you might think: Is the writer trying to hide something from me? If you don’t want to appear to be hiding something, you should use active voice:

The refinery breached a water quality standard.

Conclusion

Keep you writing concise and to the point.  Keep sentences short and focused on one idea. Use the active voice.

 

Do you have a white paper or case study that didn’t bring the return on investment you had hoped for?  Perhaps it needs a Readability Revamp. 

I am a water quality scientist with fantastic writing skills.  I offer a service that can improve your content’s ROI.  I take the text and bring the FK score down.  I improve the readability without “dumbing” it down. By increasing understanding, I help your readers take the action you desire.

 

Contact me to discuss your next content project.

 

 CONTACT ME

 

Stay tuned next week for Step #4: Make it skim-able

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