woman typing on laptop with blogging mistakes

5 Blogging Mistakes To Keep In Mind

If you’re new to blogging, the execution of a well-written blog may seem intimidating. Writing tends to be easier for some people than it does for others, but that doesn’t mean that only certain people should contribute blogs. Everybody writes! If you are involved with your business in a big way, it will benefit your company webpage to show that you, as a business owner or other important individual, are an industry thought leader. While you don’t have to write like a New York Times bestselling author, you should be aware of the following mistakes for your blog.

1. Poor Grammar

Nothing kills credibility faster in a written article than poor grammar. With the assistance of technology, there shouldn’t be any reason as to why you are spelling things incorrectly or using poor sentence structure. Spell check is pretty much built into every word processing software and there are online programs like Grammarly that will even check for grammatical errors.

2. Not Adding Images

Forgetting to include images can actually really harm the click through rate of your blog. Not only that, but it can also harm the readability factor with Google as well. Adding images to your blog will make your written work look more appealing and easier to digest than other pieces of content. Most people prefer visual aids when learning, even if that visual isn’t in an educational format like a pie chart or line graph. Adding even just a featured image at the top of the blog will make the blog more enticing to read than strict text on its own.

Images can also assist with SEO ranking because adding ALT text to the images will assist in keyword ranking when properly added. The image will have a better chance of being shown in the image search of audience browsers where they can then click on your image and will be taken to the blog itself.

3. Unnecessary Content Filler

One of the worst things you can do when writing a blog is to continue to add filler content where it doesn’t belong. It is much better to leave your blog shorter with content that flows well and stays on subject than to stuff your blog with ramblings. Keep it short and sweet and carry on. Your audience will thank you for it.

4. Impersonal Tone

One of the traps of blogging can be losing your own tone within your writing. Blogging is not the same as writing a research paper for your school report. You don’t need to stay completely formal unless the subject matter calls for it. The important thing is to understand your audience and what they will respond to the best. It is not necessary, however, to stay completely formal in your manner of speaking. Throwing in your own tone or voice is not only acceptable, it’s welcomed. It’s also important to not sound too sales-pitchy either when you are writing with the intent of conversion. Your audience will see through it immediately once you cross that fine line from informative to pushy.

5. Unprofessional Tone

Again, when referring to tone, it is crucial to keep all content professional for the workplace. If you are writing for your company, then your blog has to reflect your business culture and tone. Your language and reference points are important in displaying both.

4 Step Blueprint for Marketing Your Small Business in 2017

Okay, first of all, let me say that EVERY small business is different. With this article, I have no intention of lumping every small business into a giant category, each with the same needs.  Marketing as a small business owner, you need to consider things like your competitive atmosphere, geographic scope, strategic partnerships and much more. Each one of those considerations will create different variables for each different type of business.  However, in my experience, every small business NEEDS to take these “Four Steps” regardless of industry, product, competition or geography. And by doing so, I guarantee you will remain competitive against not only your local rivals, but you’ll give the big brands a run for their money as well. So, consider this “Four Step Blueprint to Marketing Your Small Business” the “must-haves” of marketing your small business in 2017. Let’s dig in.

Step 1: Customer Segmentation & Buyer Personas

I know as small business owners, we never have enough time. And the truth is, you probably already know this information like the back of your hand.

But if you haven’t taken the time to outline your customers’ needs and wants on paper, you need to do so.

Not only does this process help you sort through a lot of unnecessary fluff, but it also gives you a benchmark from which to make decisions about your product, your marketing, and your growth strategy. Everything else surrounding the operation of your business, including the remaining three steps in this blueprint will find value and, in some cases rely upon, an effective understanding of your customers.

Ask yourself these questions to get started:

  • Who is your target market?
    • Think outside the box. Is your customer a homeowner who likes fishing (fishing related home decor, etc.), or a fisherman wealthy enough to own a home (fishing boats, guided excursions, etc.)?
  • What ELSE might they be interested in?
    • Don’t just think demographics here like income, home ownership, or gender. Think “psychographics” like interests, hobbies, convictions.
    • People who care about organic food may also care about environmental conservation. They might buy all natural products, and there could be some cross-marketing potential.  
  • Do you have separate segments of customers for different products or services?
    • Men’s and Women’s Accessories?
    • Casual enthusiast vs. Avid user?

Be sure to understand your customers, their motivations, their needs and their goals and market to those motivations.

STEP 2: Responsive Website & Stellar User Experience

It’s shocking to me how many NON-responsive websites there are in the world. I feel like we’ve been talking about the importance of responsive websites for about five years now. But if your website isn’t responsive, trust me, you’re not alone. But here’s why you need to get it fixed asap.

Having a website that responds to the size of the device that it’s being viewed on is crucial in this day when eMarketer estimates that last year, there was about 190.5 million US smartphone users of all ages, representing 73.4% of internet users and 59.3% of the population. By 2019, the smartphone audience will reach 236.8 million, or 85.5% of internet users and 71.4% of total consumers in the country. Crazy… and this doesn’t even account for all the tablets and different sized laptops coming out every day.

Point is, marketing is about meeting your users where they’re at – and they’re on mobile devices.

As if you needed more of a reason to go responsive, Google has already given preferential treatment to responsive websites in search engine rankings. It has been rumored that they will start penalizing websites that are not responsive in 2017.

But being responsive isn’t even enough anymore. You have to create an experience for your users that feels more like they’re interacting with a person than a website. Talk to them plainly and guide them through the process of working with you. Have the experience be simple and enjoyable – not cumbersome. At every step, your website should remove barriers to working with you. You may be surprised at what the inherent psychology of your users sees as a barrier. Beware your barriers.

STEP 3: Optimize your website for search engines.

If your website is responsive, you’re already off to a good start. If you’ve created a great experience for your users, congratulations.

But if no one ever comes to your site, a responsive & stellar user experience won’t matter.

Are you blogging? Writing and updating content regularly? Sharing that content on industry relevant websites? Are all of the titles and descriptions to all your pages in line with what the pages are about? If you’re not already, optimize your website for search engines, get high-quality backlinks, produce new content and blogs regularly, and your website will produce leads – guaranteed. If you need help, let us know. We can help you fix issues, and get your website humming in search engines again.

STEP 4: Embrace Social Media.

There are 2.3 BILLION active social media users, and that is growing by 10% each year. Social media platforms have become search engines in their own right, and a new age word of mouth.

Think social media doesn’t make sense for you “Mr. B2B”? Think again: 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions. 74% use LinkedIn, and 42% use Twitter. (Marketing Think). We send hundreds of high-quality visitors to our B2B clients’ websites every month – and that’s only increasing.

Along with increased lead generation potential, pure brand awareness is NEVER going to hurt your business, and social media allows you to get awareness relatively inexpensively.

Increased traffic from search engines also proves to Google that people are paying attention to what you’re doing and care what you have to say – which is what is aptly known as “Social Proof.” All other factors equal; Google will give preferential ranking to websites with higher traffic coming from social media.

There you have it.

The above may seem like a simple list. Make no mistake; there are certainly many more active tactics you can pursue marketing your small business. But this list is here as “must-haves” for every small business in 2017. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – B2B or B2C – do these four things to market your small business, and you’ll stay competitive.

Swell Digital Marketing Agency

Why I Chose A Digital Marketing Agency (And Why You Should Too!)

Digital marketing isn’t going away.

Smart, unique, noteworthy marketing has never been more necessary than it is today. And it isn’t slowing down. It’s a freight train of innovation, barreling into the future at breakneck speed, as fast as technology and analytics allow it to go.

Even if you don’t really pay attention to marketing and advertising, if you’re in the business sphere (and you are), you’re probably well aware of the necessity to have an online presence. If you have kids with a tablet, a spouse with a FitBit, or have a smartphone, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that unless you’re online, you’re irrelevant. And that’s because you’re smart, and you recognize that’s what people want and need. They want you to be accessible and convenient.

But that’s just the thing. Too many people stop at the beginning. What I mean by that is they stop at just being present…at JUST being online. Think about that in terms of your relationships. It’s one thing to be present…but it’s an entirely different thing to be INTENTIONAL and pursuing CONNECTION. Your customers are begging you to engage with them, and make real connections with them where they are, and where they go for their information.

Get this: 78% of local-mobile searches result in an offline purchase, and 72% of local-mobile searches resulted in a store visit within 5 miles

3 out of 4 searchers decisions are driven by digital marketing. If you’re not on the first page of Google (meaning you’re not taking your SEO seriously) then you’re missing out on your motivated customer base.

Here’s another interesting fact. 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases. Oh yeah. And they didn’t say, 81% of ONLINE shoppers. It’s 81% of people who are going to buy something more than a coffee or sandwich. If that doesn’t motivate you to present yourself in the best possible way online, then I don’t know what will. There are roughly 100 billion Google searches each month, so imagine how many people you’re a.) missing altogether, or b.) people who find you are drawing false assumptions about you and your business because of the way you’re presented online. Like it or not, your website will define you and can steer away even the most motivated buyer. If you don’t make a connection, someone else will. If you’re not engaging, you’re missing out.

Ok, it’s important. Can’t I do it myself?

Reasons to choose an agency…and why I chose SWELL

Expertise:

When you hire an agency, you’re hiring a team of professionals dedicated to perfecting their craft day in and day out. Like I stated above, the digital marketing world is constantly changing, whether it’s Google algorithms or the latest marketing trend, and you’ve got a business to run. Hiring a group of trained professionals to stay on top of it for you will not only take a load off your plate, but make your marketing efforts much more effective and efficient.

Value:

Can you do it yourself? Sure, but as I mentioned in the previous point, you’re hiring a GROUP of professionals. It’s the proverbial bang for your buck, and marketing is all about ROI. An agency prides themselves on bringing you the results you want to see. It becomes personal. If they fail, there’s no one to blame. The same dollar that would be going to someone in-house is now going to someone who’s future is tied to making sure you successful, because you could leave at any time if you wanted to.

Passion:

I haven’t come across a more passionate group of individuals, not only about their craft, but about the clients they work with. Who wouldn’t want to jump on board with a company that sees value in each and every client and helps them tell their story to anyone who will gaze on a smartphone or tablet? Whether it’s creating unique user experience on a new website…coming up with a digital strategy rooted in solid analytics and data…or about hearing people’s stories and bringing them to life digitally…  we have a passion to help businesses connect with their customers in a real and meaningful way, beyond just a transaction.

Relationship: And for SWELL, relationships are everything. We believe in investing in you. You are more than a transaction; we want to become an extension of your business. We want to be on your team. We want to establish trust through transparency, and be authentic in everything we do. We believe if you succeed, we succeed, and we truly are better together.

And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. Marketing has never been about selling something. It’s about finding the right person for your solution, product or service. It’s about connection. Relationship. Authenticity. That’s why I chose SWELL.

Zuzu the boxer loves Chewy.com

Marketing Highlights with Chewy.com

Disclaimer: The following post is not sponsored content. I’m just a happy customer who wants to give a shout out to a company I totally respect. Among other things, I wanted to highlight their success from a marketing perspective and offer them as tangible examples of amazing brand experience.

If you haven’t heard of Chewy.com and you are a pet owner – get on board with their service, you won’t regret it.

Zuzu the boxer

See – even Zuzu the 9 month old Boxer puppy loves them.

Located in Daytona Beach, FL, Chewy is a delivery service of top pet brands (I’m talking about the ones you can’t find in a Walmart or even most of your local pet shops). From food to toys, treats, and supplies – Chewy offers the things pet owners need at a price you can’t beat. I didn’t even pay anything extra for shipping and my (dog’s) package showed up the next day. THE NEXT DAY. But enough about what they do that’s awesome. Let’s get into their branding.

Mission

It’s pretty easy to say you care about animals. I’d guess that more people would tell you they are animal fans than not. But it’s one thing to really like animals and another to display your passion for them through your business model. Chewy.com excels at this for a few reasons.

They won’t sell any supplies they believe to be low quality.

While lower quality pet brands are easily available and would add to diversity of product offering, Chewy doesn’t want to associate with any product that is less than satisfactory from their scientific standards. More than projecting an image of carrying high-quality products, they don’t want less educated pet-owners to even have the option of selecting a low-quality product purely because of price.

I save about 15% on my dog food brand when I purchase through Chewy.com compared to when I shop at the pet store. The people at Chewy make it their mission to offer top brands and quality products at an affordable price because they want healthy and safe options to be available for all pets.

I invest in higher quality brands of food because cheaper food brands will use “food fillers” that place grain or animal-by-products at the top of the ingrediants list because it is less expensive to fill the food with than acutal sources of animal protein such as chicken or fish. While not all pets will need a grain free diet, prioritizing the main ingredients will help ensure your pet remains its healthiest when it comes to what they eat.

They support animals in need.

Who doesn’t love a for-profit company that supports non-profit work? Chewy is dedicated to supporting non-profit organizations that help animals in need. They work with a lot of non-profit organizations that assist pets in some way. As a pet owner, I’m also a pet lover. Not just for my pet but for all types of animals.

Knowing Chewy donates to shelters and other foundations with programs helps me to connect with them on a more personal level. This also assists with customers identifying with their brand, knowing the profit they receive from sales will partially go back into charity they can get behind.

The Chewy.com Rescue and Shelter Network is open to all registered non-profit organizations that specialize in assisting pets in need. Their free rescue network partners with these NFPs by offering access to programs providing donations and fundraising opportunities.

They keep experts on staff.

Chewy not only offers 24/7 customer service, but their customer service reps are trained to handle more than your typical rep. They send these people to lectures, inform them of latest research and trends in pet science and the pet care industry. Chewy really wants you to know that it’s more than just a friendly face on the other end of the phone, but someone who can guide you in the best direction with your pet questions.

Marketing

Now that we know Chewy rocks because they truly liveout their mission – Let’s talk about actual marketing tactics. I consider myself an old soul, so I may find this gesture more impactful than other millennials, but around my second or third purchase through them I received a handwritten postcard in the mail. First off; that’s classy. Second; it gives a company with over 800 employees a personal and local feel.

img_0819

This is the postcard I received the other day from Chewy.com reading, “Welcome to the Chewy family! I hope your little one is enjoying the Greenies dog treats. We’re here 24/7.“

So what makes this ‘thank you’ special? What makes a marketing tactic like this so powerful is how incredibly personalized it is especially coming from a large business. While their products are not handcrafted, their thank you notes are. Someone at that company took a minute to legibly write out my correctly spelled name and even call out one of the products I bought. With as many orders as I can assume Chewy.com handles in a day they still make it a priority to not lose the who the customer IS in the process.

What this shows is that Chewy understands the most basic philosophy of business there can be; provide the customer with a memorable and pleasant experience. The reason? (other than truly caring about what they do): To tip the first domino in the chain of referrals. Word of mouth marketing is old school. Before internet, before social media, people talked (believe it or not). What Chewy has done is combine an online experience with a traditional piece of business advice: CARE. The truth is, even in our business of marketing, referrals are powerful things  because people trust people who aren’t getting paid to promote something and feed a tailored opinion to others. I haven’t met a single person using Chewy’s service who has not had something good to say, so why wouldn’t I trust them – at least to try out? Then when they send me a very personalized message – IN THE MAIL – and experience a great service, it just affirms that my choice has been well placed.

Social proof is another aspect of this. B2C companies are missing out on huge opportunities if they aren’t active on social media because it provides a platform for happy customers turned “brand evangelists” to display their endorsement publicly. I’m a huge fan of companies that engage with their customers through social media and applaud the ones ahead of the game with a help account for customer questions through social as well.

Creating LOYAL customers is far less expensive than acquiring new ones. A loyal customer base has also been proven to yield a higher return on investment over time than investing in getting new customers. Obviously a growing business has to strike a balance, but the best brands know how to appreciate and recognize loyalty.

The next great thing about this is they didn’t have to work too hard to make me a happy customer. They sent me a postcard, which really doesn’t require a whole lot of work. But the fact that SOMEONE took the time to do that, leaves an impact.

Also, the truth is, tactics like paid online advertising, billboards, and commercials are becoming  less and less appealing to audiences. There are ad-blockers now for most browsers, and with SO much bombarding us each day, it has become easier and easier for us to become blind to ads, or even hypersensitive to brand messages that aren’t authentic.

Chewy doesn’t promise anything that isn’t insanely evident about how they do business. But they’ve been able to go above and beyond in simple, but very effective ways. They’ve spent time on WHY they do business, and that has made all the difference. If more marketing and business models can be accomplished like this, the need to get out in front of potential customers dwindles down.  Show me you care in authentic ways, and I will be way more likely to care about you too.

learn to blog for your small business. help with blogging

Write Often, Be Cool: How to Increase Your Site Traffic With Blogging

Are you a small to medium sized business looking for a quick way to increase your following on social media? Are you scanning your brain for a way to develop your native content, and increase traffic to your site? Well, have we got a blog for you!

We talked recently about how important it is for your business to have a blog presence. Hopefully you were convinced by our many, many, tremendously outstanding statistics. You won’t be a (total) loser if you don’t blog, but you will be a big time winner if you do blog. Basically.

But what do I write about? But how do I write? But, but, but….

Listen, or rather, look with your eyeballs. I have some suggestions for you:

1) Write about a problem you have or a problem your audience has, and tell us how to fix it.

Think about it. When you type pretty much anything into your little Google search bar, what are you typing 9/10 times?

“How do I….”

“What’s the best way…”

“What happens when…”

“Is it true that…”

“Why does my girlfriend always…”

“Where can I find…”

QUESTIONS. You’re on the internet poking around asking questions and looking for answers. Or cute animal videos… but usually you’re looking for answers. So is your audience!

If you can’t think of a question to answer, look at your competitor’s blog and write an even better blog on a similar topic. DO NOT plagiarize what they’ve already taken the time to write… but feel free to use what they have as inspiration.

2) Write out all your ideas on the topic you’ve chosen, even if they’re just loose scribbles.

This is called BRAINSTORMING. Remember back to elementary school. Think about your favorite way to get your ideas out onto a page. Do that.

3) Look over everything and find some commonalities.

What can you take from this mess of ideas to turn into a cohesive, lovely, little story?

4) Find your voice.

You’re not in college anymore, you don’t have to be prim and proper in the way that you write. You can write to me in the same way that you talk to me. As we’ve talked about before, consumers respond best to businesses that have a personality. People like to buy from people, not companies.

So if you can let yourself and your personality shine in your writing, that will receive the most positive response.

5) Spell, punctuation, and grammar check.

I don’t care how amazing your writing is. I don’t care if you’re wowing me from here to next Tuesday with your incredible insights and hacks for improving my life. I don’t care if you’re the most recognized blogger in the entire universe. If you have spelling, grammar, or punctuation mistakes… you’ve lost my respect and the respect of many people that would have followed you. There are a few different schools of thought on this, but stats show that when you can’t keep up with these basic writing skills you are seen by your audience as unintelligent.

But don’t be scurred! For some extra help have a coworker edit your work or you can download an add-on like grammarly to help you along the way.

6) Watch and enjoy your success!

If you have other questions about how to get started with blogging, please feel free to reach out! If you already blog, tell us about the tips that work best for you! We’re always excited to talk about ways you’re improving your business’s digital marketing strategy.