Tag Archives: creating a business blog

Eyetracking study reveals enlightening online tactics

Enlightening eytracking study

Enlightening eytracking study

Want to know whether your homepage layout is effective? Or if readers prefer short paragraphs over long ones? And if your ads are in the best place to be noticed by your audience?

Take a few minutes out of your day and read over the latest findings from Eyetrack III (via ProBlogger and the Direct Creative Blog). Their research could give your team a better idea of where to start and what to fix when it comes to your Web site design.

You can check out the full article for a complete overview of their findings, but here are some of the main points:

Headlines first, then pictures. When people first land on a page, they tend to look at dominant headlines before looking at pictures. Headlines located in the upper left of the page got the most attention.

The first few words in a headline are most important. A headline will grab less than a second of a visitor’s attention and it appears that the first few words need to be the most eye-catching. People scan the first couple words before deciding to read on.

Use large type for scanning, small type for closer reading. Smaller type is harder to read, so visitors have to focus when they want to find out more. As always, large type should be used for headlines to allow for easy scanning.

Short paragraphs have a better chance of being read than longer ones. Long paragraphs, especially on the Web, look difficult to read. Short paragraphs are more appealing.

Ads in the top and left portions of a homepage get the most attention. Our eyes tend to look at the upper left of a page when we first arrive on it.

Bigger ads are better. Bigger ads have a better chance of being seen. When ads are also placed next to popular content they’ll generally get more attention.

Monday marketing links: Feeling overwhelmed, website check-ups and the fear of reviews

My list of blog topic ideas is growing faster than I can write, so I’ve put them all in one post. Here’s some of the latest and greatest information covering topics from business to business marketing to social media, all wrapped up in one convenient little package:

Does your website have a clean bill of health? Improve your search engine traffic and give your website an SEO health check. PluginHQ’s list of 16 things to look for in a website health check is a great place to start.

Finding time to fit blogs, Twitter, Facebook and the 10 other social media sites you visit into your day can be tough. There’s no reason to feel overwhelmed, according to Adam Singer at The Future Buzz, because you have complete control.

Think about your favorite restaurant – delicious food, warm atmosphere, good company. Now ask yourself: “Is your website as good as your favorite bistro?” Read MarketingProfs’ post-holiday recipe for online success, developed with a few lessons from the restaurant industry.

Though text wears the online crown, video has its place and will continue to grow as a valuable medium, according to Darren Rowse at ProBlogger. Read why he thinks video is worth experimenting with on your blog.

Not everything written online about your company will be positive and how you deal with negative feedback can make or break your online reputation. But, what if that negative feedback is coming from members of your own staff? Read what Jacob Morgan thinks you should do when your staff turns against you with social media.

On a similar note, you shouldn’t be afraid of what customers have to say about your company online. The opportunities social media provides heavily outweigh the perceived harm that it could cause. Read this recent tip from BusinessWeek and don’t fear online customer reviews.

Using facebook to promote your business blog

You may think Facebook is just another social networking site dedicated to young college students, but you may be surprised how Facebook’s demographics are changing.

In the years since it’s creation in 2004, Facebook has become a major meeting place for adults in the working world, according to a new study by O’Reilly Media featured in a recent SHRM article.

O’Reilly Media found that since September 2008, the number of Facebook users between the ages of 35 and 44 increased by 51%; those ages 45-54 grew by 47%, and those 26-34 increased by 26%. More than half of the 140 million Facebook users are out of college.

“With web sites and social networking tools like Facebook, companies now have the ability to be the master of ceremonies and create communities for their customers to join,” Scott Townsend, marketing director with United Linen and Uniform Services, recently told The Examiner-Enterprise.com. “And customers have the opportunity to become a fan of your Facebook page. If you are a small company, you don’t want to reach the whole world; you just want to reach those customers that are jazzed about your business and what it is you have to offer.”

As Facebook continues to attract older professionals, it is becoming one of the best places to promote your business blog or website.

In a recent guest post at ProBlogger, Steve Schwartz, a professional LSAT tutor explained how he has used Facebook to promote his blog and expand his community of readers.

The social network gives his blog readers the opportunity to interact with each other in a way that comments can’t. Facebook’s discussion boards allow users to exchange messages and interact through conversation.

Here’s some of his advice on how to get started:

1. Create a Facebook group. Don’t make the group about your blog directly. Instead, choose a broader topic so people searching on Facebook for a certain topic will feel welcomed to join.

2. Invite your friends. Some of your existing friends may want to join your new group, and some may not. Either way, the invitation will show up on your friends’ news feeds, turning it into a viral marketing mechanism.

3. Tell your blog readers about it. Post a link to your Facebook group in the sidebar of your blog. Write a brief post on your new group for those who didn’t notice the new link. Tell your readers how they will benefit from becoming a member.

4. Join other groups. Look for Facebook groups related to your blog topic. Post messages on their Wall or discussion boards notifying the group’s members of your group and your blog. Spread out the information over a series of posts to make sure you don’t get banned from the group for spamming.

With his efforts, Facebook quickly became one of Steve’s biggest sources of traffic, without having to spend much time on maintenance.

“In order to get more readers, you need to have a presence where they are. For me and for many bloggers these days, our present and future readers spend their time in social networking sites.”

Tips from the White House on how to do business online

Along with President Barack Obama’s weekly web video addresses, appointments and nominations, executive orders and slideshows, marketers can use the new Whitehouse.gov as a great example of how to do business online.

At exactly 12 PM ET, as Obama was giving his inauguration speech, his official presidential website has switched over to a new design.

Adding to all the information available on the Obama administration, the website of the President has something that no other presidential site has had before – a blog.

The first post, written by the White House director of New Media, Macon Phillips is titled: “Change has come to Whitehouse.gov.”

Phillips explains how the initial new media efforts will be centered around three priorities: communication, transparency and participation.

From the post:

“Millions of Americans have powered President Obama’s journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country’s future. WhiteHouse.gov is just the beginning of the new administration’s efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement.”

“One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.”

They’re also taking suggestions on how to improve the website by asking visitors: “what sort of things would you find valuable from Whitehouse.gov?” Anyone can send questions, comments, concerns, or well-wishes to the President or his staff by filling out a simple form.

How cool is that?

Whitehouse.gov is a great example of how to do business online. It succeeds by keeping customers (citizens) informed, involving customers in business decisions that affect them and engaging customers in conversation directly with the CEO.

Have you seen the new Whitehouse.gov? How could you use some of the engaging features in your own organization’s website?

Fun with links: Social media predictions, business blogging, recession marketing and more

There’s just too much out there right now to write a post on just one, lonely topic. So, I decided to share five small snippets of the latest and greatest information for business to business marketing on the Web, and here it is:

  1. What does 2009 hold for the world of social media and content marketing? Nobody may know for sure, but many, 42 to be exact, have made their predictions. From getting cheap to a backlash against social media, read what the Junta42 Top 42 bloggers have to say about social media in 2009.
  2. Just because you build it, they won’t come. Social media has the potential to bring success to many businesses, but not every company is meant to blog. Read through the 5 musts of business blogging at Drew’s Marketing Minute to find out if blogging is a smart endeavor for your company.
  3. Are you on Twitter? Are you still trying to figure out why you’re there? Whether you’re there or not, people will be praising and complaining about your company with each other on Twitter. Learn how to engage with the Twitter community and win over the hearts of your audience in this post from TwiTip.
  4. Blog marketing could quite possibly be the cheapest form of marketing out there right now. With a blog, there’s no need for expensive print, radio or TV ads and the uncertainty of their effectiveness. Learn why blog marketing is cheap marketing and effective marketing in this recent post by Remarkablogger.
  5. We’re in a recession and things are changing, including how we get our products and services to market. Cutting marketing budgets during a recession may be the worst idea marketers can go through with when tough times hit. During a recession, learn how to market better instead of marketing less in this post from the Marketing Hive.

Why should you add a newsletter to your blog?

Every time ProBlogger extraordinaire Darren Rowse writes a post on the importance of having an email newsletter to accompany your blog, he’s bombarded with readers’ questions asking:

  • Isn’t email old fashioned?
  • What about social networking – isn’t that more effective than email newsletters?
  • Isn’t building a ‘list’ as a way of doing online marketing a thing of the past?

Rowse still believes in the importance of newsletters, saying “if I had to name one technology or medium that has had the greatest impact upon building my blogs readership – newsletters would be right up there.”

In a response to all of his readers’ questions and concerns, he wrote a blog post on the subject: 8 Reasons to Add a Newsletter to Your Blog. Here are a few reasons why one of the best in the industry thinks newsletters should accompany blogs:

  • Loyalty. Most people who find your blog will stay for a few minutes, read a little, move on to the next site and are likely never to return. Newsletters “hook” people by giving visitors the option to be reminded to come back to your blog.
  • Trust. Because of the frequency and intimate nature of emails, newsletters allow readers to get to know you on a deeper level. “Not only do emails build relationships and intimacy with your readership – they build trust.”
  • Improved traffic. Rowse has found that on the days he sends out newsletters are some of his best traffic days. He suggests to send out a newsletter for an additional “burst” of traffic to your blog for an upcoming event like a product launch.
  • Community. “Those who subscribe to a newsletter are often among the most loyal and committed members of your blog’s community.” This group has given you permission to contact them and enjoy knowing they’re the first to hear about the latest news from you.

That’s only half of why Rowse thinks everyone with a blog should develop a newsletter along side of it. Head on over to ProBlogger and read the full post on the 8 Reasons to  Add a Newsletter to Your Blog.

Blogging for business, 8 quick tips

So, you started a business blog. Good job. Now, it’s time to start writing.

Can’t come up with something to talk about?

When you’re blogging for business it can be easy to run out of ideas, but luckily we have people out there eager to share their tips for writing online content. People just like Pete Caputa, who wrote an article outlining easy ways to write quick articles for business blogs.

Caputa’s advice:

  1. Learn the art of aggregator blogging. Odd name, easy process. This is how it works: scan blog articles your audience would like (check out Alltop, Digg or Technorati), republish a paragraph or two with a link back to the original source, add a sentence or two of your own on why the article was interesting.
  2. Interview experts. Interview experts in your industry through email. Post the questions and answers as an article. You’ll spend the most time coming up with questions, once you send the email your work is basically done.
  3. Create a link blog. Usually created as part of a web site or larger blog, a link blog focuses mainly on what the name implies – links. There’s no writing required and they tend to attract numerous inbound links. Take a look at HubSpot’s link blog as an example.
  4. Run guest articles. Soliciting guest articles is a great way to connect with other bloggers in your industry and build interesting content. Depending on how great the article turns out, it could end up driving a lot of traffic to your blog.
  5. Revisit past content. Take a look at some of your old blog posts. Post an excerpt of the article, then expand on your previously written content with fresh information and new thoughts.
  6. Hold a contest. Everyone likes to win stuff, right? I recently found a great blog contest to determine which reader owned the ugliest tie. Whether the contest is silly or directly related to business, it can generate multiple posts and reader comments.
  7. Create lists with other blog lists. The post you’re reading right now is an example of this idea (thanks, Pete!). Many of the most popular bloggers out there regularly use lists in their posts. They’re perfect online content because they’re quick and easy to skim through.
  8. Ask questions. Questions are great ways to start conversations on your blog among readers. Nobody knows everything, engage your readers with a question and encourage participation.

The thought of writing a blog post can seem like a lot of work, but with a few tips and tricks you’ll be finished in no time. Blogging is a great way to build your network and start conversations with customers. Remember, even if you’re doing it wrong, it’s right.