How to find your focus in Digital Marketing

You’re writing a blog post when an email comes in. You check that email, leaving the blog post half-written. Messenger pops up in the corner. A colleague is sharing a link she thinks might be great for the company Facebook page. You follow the link to decide if she’s right. When you finally return to the original blog post, you’ve forgotten the point you were trying to make.

The digital world was supposed to make it easier for us to multitask. So what happened?

Researchers have long known that multitasking is a myth.

Productivity expert Dave Crenshaw says that instead of completing multiple tasks simultaneously, what we actually do is “switchtask” or flip back and forth between two or three or more tasks.

The impact on our work is not a positive one. Switchtasking divides our attention and prevents us from doing our best work.

What does this have to do with digital marketing?

Many of us suffer from a corporate version of the multitasking myth when it comes to our digital marketing strategy. We’re so caught up in trying to do everything, that we don’t do any digital marketing task well.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Email, Blogs, not to mention tools like Hubspot, Exacttarget, and Marketo, are all out there demanding to be used.

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If you don’t use every single one of them you’re missing out on potential customers, right?

I hate to break this to you: you’re already missing out on customers.

Customers don’t respond to content and advertising, they respond to great content and advertising.

If you’re stretching yourself so thin that you’re consistently putting out mediocre content, you’re already failing.

So what’s the alternative? How can you stop the switchtasking cycle and get the most out of your digital marketing efforts.

Do less to do more

The solution is actually pretty simple. Stop trying to do everything and focus on the one or two digital marketing tactics that really give you value for effort.

Once you’ve established a process for those, you can branch out to something new.

Deciding which strategy to focus on first can be a challenge, especially because ROI for Digital Marketing Strategies is notoriously difficult to measure. As Jayson DeMers Founder and CEO of AudienceBloom explained in Inc.:

This is partly due to the fact that many forms of “return” are imprecise, such as brand reputation, credibility, trust, and visibility.”

While identifying the highest-performing tactics isn’t easy, Smart Insights made an attempt with its reader survey.

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Content marketing beat out other techniques as it has done for the last three years.

According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates approximately 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing per dollar spent.

And 70% of consumers say they would rather learn about a company through articles over advertisements.

So content marketing delivers the best ROI. But even that isn’t really an answer.

Content Marketing isn’t one tactic. It’s a cluster of several tactics that work together, ideally in a coherent strategy. Content marketing might include blogs, case studies, videos and social media posts.

But only one of them delivers 67% more leads for companies that have it versus those without. Which one?

The answer is blogging.

Why blogging should be the foundation of your Digital Marketing Strategy

Let me repeat that Demand Metric statistic: On average, companies with a blog produce 67% more leads per month than those without.

Imagine what you would do with 67% more leads.

Blogs help drive traffic to your site by giving you more indexed pages. They give your fans something to share on social media. They help convert traffic into leads.

One of the best things about blogs is that the content can keep working for you, basically forever.

While the average lifespan of a piece of social media content can range from a few minutes to a few hours, evergreen blog posts get traffic days, months and years after they were first posted.

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On the Hubspot blog, 70% of their monthly traffic comes from blog posts that weren’t published in the current month.

So if you’re going to start with just one digital marketing tactic, a blog is the tactic of choice.

Once you have some strong blog posts in place you have lots of fodder for your social media sites and other digital marketing platforms. You can pull infographics and relevant data from posts to share on your social media page. Blog posts also make great foundations for marketing emails.

How to write exceptional blog posts

Experts like Neil Patel and Brian Clark have written extensively on how to create exceptional blog posts. You could spend months reading everything they and other experts have to say. But who has that kind of time?

I’ll condense it for you. An exceptional blog post is like a snake: long, evergreen, beautiful.

An exceptional blog post is long-form

Curata found that long-form content significantly outperforms short form content, generating 9 times more leads and 8 times more page views.

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And they’re not the only ones. Marketing influencers like Neil Patel and companies like WordStream also swear by it.

As with most things on the internet, no two experts agree on exactly how long a long-form post is, but the general consensus seems to be more than 1,000 words.

An exceptional blog post is evergreen

Evergreen content remains useful over time. Testimonials, tutorials, and history-of articles are all examples of evergreen content.

In fact, the post you’re reading right now is evergreen, because the concepts I’m describing will be as useful a year from now as they are today. They don’t rely on a particular platform or fad to make them relevant.

Posts that focus on current events or the latest trend might help drive traffic to your site today, but they’re unlikely to be high-performers a year from now.

An exceptional blog post is beautiful

Graphics make good blog posts great. Ignore this at your peril.

Total views for articles with relevant images increased by 94% over those without according to a Skyward study.

So make sure you include some stunning visuals. These can be photos, screenshots, graphs or infographics, anything that helps the reader better understand and connect with the text.

So get going already.

Now that you have the keys to escape the multitasking trap, it’s time to get started. For help maximizing your digital marketing with exceptional blog posts contact me today.

How to Write Better at Work (even if you hate writing)

We all write at work, even those of us who aren’t professional B2B content writers. You might be drafting monthly reports, crafting a weekly memo, or sending out scores of emails every day. Whatever you’re writing, your goal is to communicate well. 

Great writing takes practice, dedication and an understanding of the Oxford comma. If you hate writing, or if you’ve always struggled with it, you might never be a great writer. That’s okay. For most jobs, you only need to be a competent one.

These strategies will help you improve your writing. You can implement them today, and they’re completely free. You don’t have to  hire a ghostwriter or download any fancy writing apps. All you need is a blank document in your word processor of choice.

1. Give yourself permission to write badly. Seems counter intuitive, but it works. Here’s why: When people say they have writer’s block, they’re not really saying they can’t write.  They are capable of putting words on paper, everyone is. What they struggle with is writing well.

Professional writers, no matter how good they are or how long they’ve been writing, always write multiple drafts, because “the first draft of anything is shit.” (If this language offends you, please file your complaint with Ernest Hemingway.) So professional writers don’t try to write anything perfectly the first time.   

Photo Credit: University of South Carolina

If you’re procrastinating a writing project, start by dumping all your thoughts and ideas into a Google Doc. That way there’s no risk of accidentally hitting the send or post buttons.

Don’t worry about how it sounds or if you chose the right word, or how much you swear, or whether your grammar is right. Just put words on paper (or screen) until you’ve got the whole idea in front of you.

Getting a first draft onto that page gives you something to work with. when you right a quick and dirty first draft it doesn’t have to be good, it just has to exist so you can work with it.  Too many people end up with crappy final drafts because they never gave themselves permission to write truly shitty first drafts.

2. Know what you don’t know. Everyone has weaknesses. That’s as true in writing as it is in any other discipline. There are elements you will struggle with, skills that are harder to master. This is normal.

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studiostoks / 123RF Stock Photo

The difference between a bad writer and a competent one is that a competent writer knows what she doesn’t know. Instead of just saying, “oh I’m bad at grammar” or “my spelling sucks”, she identifies the particular issues she struggles with.

You don’t even have to try to change the underlying issue. Just be aware that it’s a challenge for you.

For example, there are a couple of words that I can’t spell to save my life. They include bureaucracy (even spell check had no idea what I meant the first time I typed this word), intrigue and tongue.

Why these particular words? I don’t know. Apparently I have issues with diphthongs.   

I also tend to use the wrong form of the word “its.” I know that “it’s” means it is and that “its” shows ownership, but often in the heat of composition I invert the two. I like to refer to these things as foibles, because that sounds better than “things I constantly screw up.”

Foible :  a minor flaw or shortcoming in character or behavior :  weakness
– Merriam-Webster.com


Knowing my foibles makes me a better writer because it gives me the opportunity to correct them. I pay special attention to them when I proofread and (usually) manage to catch them before a post goes live.

After you’ve written something, anything, whether it’s a Facebook post or a progress report, scan for your foibles. Remove them with extreme prejudice.

3. Accept that you suck at proofreading your own work. No writer works alone. A good writer has a small army of editors, copy editors and proofreaders making her look good. You should too.

After all the work you’ve put in writing a bad first draft, writing a better second draft, and searching out foibles, you might be tempted to just send the thing. After all it’s just an internal report and you’re on a deadline here.

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Resist that temptation.

You’ll be shocked how easily your eye slides past errors in your own writing. You know what you mean, and so your mind fills in the gaps.

Even if you’ve gone over the piece ten times (maybe especially then) you’ve probably missed something. An impartial second pair of eyes will catch things you didn’t see and can point out confusing sentences. Hand it off to your cube mate, your supervisor, or your mom (yes, really), for a last read through before you send it out.


If you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah, that’s all great advice, but I still don’t have time to write that weekly blog our marketing team thinks is such a great idea,” I’m here to help. Contact me today.

3 Reasons Why Small Business Needs Networking

You own a small business – maybe you have a couple of staff members who each wear a lot of hats, or maybe it’s just you, hustling to get everything done. Someone invites you to a networking event. You think: I don’t have time to stand around talking to people for two hours. I have a business to run.

Stop.

If you want your business to succeed, if you want it to be the best it can be – you need networking, and I mean face-to-face, looking people in the eye, drinking coffee and mingling networking. Here’s why:

Relationships Build Business

Let’s start with the obvious. Networking groups connect you with other business people. If your target market is not other businesses, you might think connecting with other business people won’t help you. But it will.

Networking events provide a forum for you to get to know other business people on a personal level. You make eye contact. You shake hands. You build trust.

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When you build trust you build relationships. And as I learned watching my father run his small business (http://www.pcsole.com) over the last 17 years, relationships are the foundation of a successful business.

So when the new contact you met at the networking event needs a product or service like yours, who do you think they’ll call? What about if one of their clients or friends needs that service?

Networking Leads to Great Ideas

When I lived in Virginia, I was a member of BizConnect, the best networking group on the east coast. (nobody paid me to say that, it’s just the truth). My business has grew as a direct result of my membership. Not only did I meet great people (and landed clients), I also had some great ideas.

Sometimes as an independent business person or small business owner, you don’t know what you don’t know. You’re so focused on the next task or the next client that the big picture is hard to see.

At networking groups, you’re exposed to people from other businesses and other industries entirely. They know what you do and they can see it from an outsider’s perspective.

Here’s an example: at the last BizConnect member meetup I attended, I was talking to BizConnect founder Laura Henderson. Laura was launching a new brick and mortar location for the group, and she was asking me about ways we could partner.

She mentioned maybe I could give some sort of presentation to the group about writing or content marketing.

 

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image credit: Валерий Качаев

Doesn’t sound like a huge jump right? I write, I create marketing. Couldn’t I give a simple presentation about how to do this for yourself? Couldn’t I train people, at least in the basics?

Of course I could. I just hadn’t thought to offer it until she gave me the idea. And she wouldn’t have given me the idea if I hadn’t been standing in front of her talking about our businesses.

Which brings me to my last thought.

Communities Keep You Motivated

It’s so easy to get discouraged. The life of a small business owner or entrepreneur is busy, and challenging and there’s always more to learn than there is time in which to learn it.

If you’re not careful, you can get bogged down. And like Artax from the Neverending Story (shout out in the comments if you get this reference), you can sink into the swamp of sadness and give up.

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The best networking groups keep that from happening. They surround you with people who care about your business and cheer your success.

And that alone is worth an hour or two out of my week.

Now Go Find a Networking Group

Not all networking groups are created equal. Which is good, because we’re all different. Shop around and find the group that works for you. Your business will thank you.