Tag Archives: writing web content tips

Know your content marketing priorities

If you’re a business-to-business marketer, you probably create a variety of content to promote your product through direct mail, email, Twitter and blogs, just to name a few. Sometimes, the trigger behind making a change in content can be motivated by the wrong reason.

MarketingSherpa recently surveyed a group of content marketers to find out what was the typical trigger that sparks a change in content. They compiled the results and created their latest Chart of the Week, titled “You’re a Publisher, Like it or Not.”

Content marketing: You're a publisher, like it or not

Content marketing: You're a publisher, like it or not

If one of your goals is to become a thought leader in your industry, you have to start thinking like a publisher, according to the gurus at MarketingSherpa.

“Above, we see that it’s often the wrong trigger. To be a thought leader is to think like a publisher – to think about the people at the other end of your white paper, Web event, blog or podcast. They’re not necessarily interested in your new product or feature (unless you happen to work for Apple); they’re interested in what’s happening in the industry or economy that’s inspired that product or service.”

The best reasons to update content fall in the middle of their survey results, including news, trends, events and research. Each of these reasons are focused on the reader.

Of course, the Sherpas also advise to take a look at the performance of each form of content to determine if you should make a change.

“Newspapers may be dying, but the need for compelling niche content is growing every day. To fulfill that need and sell your products, remember that you’re asking for the time and interest of your customers, and make it worth their while.”

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B2B’s bread and butter: The white paper

White papers, B2B's bread and butter

White papers, B2B's bread and butter

InformationWeek recently released an insightful report on how to maximize the power of white papers in B2B marketing.

Researchers surveyed 542 IT decision makers and how they use white papers. The survey results show that white papers are still considered an important tool in persuading and engaging customer decisions.

You’ll have to register with InformationWeek to download a full copy of the report, but here are some highlights:

  • 76% of respondents use white papers for general education on a specific technology topic or issue
  • 74% percent use white papers to investigate possible technology solutions
  • 83% use white papers just as much or more than they have in the past
  • 93% pass along information they find in downloaded white papers to colleagues

While the survey dealt specifically with IT buyers, the results of the survey are easily translated across all areas of business to business marketing.

The survey also asked for feedback on what readers want from white papers, information that anyone within the IT industry or not can put to good use. Respondents revealed the top features of a good white paper include:

  • A concise abstract
  • Transparency/minimal marketing
  • Case studies
  • Product information with specifications
  • Technical diagrams
  • Downloadable PDF version

Survey respondents also revealed some eye-opening statistics on the impact white papers have on readers. Among the survey respondents:

  • 54% contacted a vendor for more information as a result of reading a white paper
  • 36% made a purchase after reading a white paper
  • 32% included a white paper in a case to support a purchase.

As new media struggles to show its growing value, the tried-and-true methods like business to business white papers prove that they still can have powerful results.

7 tips to turn your boring B2B newsletter into a must-read

The purpose of sending out a newsletter is to create or strengthen the relationship between you and your customers by sharing valuable content. As a part of your overall marketing mix, the B2B newsletter is a dependable method for driving customers to your site and giving a boost to your sales numbers.

In the B2B world, coming up with interesting topics that will keep your audience interested can be difficult to do with each and every mailing. Here are seven great ideas for turning your boring B2B newsletter into a must-read:

  1. Ask for help. Do you work with a vendor who enjoys writing? Ask them to write an article  to be featured in your next newsletter. It will make your newsletter more interesting while strengthening the relationship with your vendor.
  2. Summarize articles. Use short summary paragraphs to entice your readers to click through and read the article on your website. Keeping it short helps people quickly get the information they need.
  3. Have fun. Find topics that may not be directly related to the kind of business you do, but that will entertain your audience. Turning a story about an alligator caught in a sewer into a valuable business lesson may take some creativity on your part, but your audience will enjoy reading it.
  4. Answer customer questions. Are your customer service representatives being asked the same questions over and over? Turn those questions into articles that provide customers with information before they have to ask for it.
  5. Follow the competition. Sign up for your competitor’s newsletter and follow the topics they write about. Their topics could spark ideas to include in future newsletters.
  6. Reuse and recycle. Repurpose some of the old articles that have been collecting dust in your content library. As long as the content is still relevant, recycling articles is a great way to create new content.
  7. Ask your readers. Send some of your customers a small survey asking what kind of topics they would like to hear about in the newsletter. When you know exactly what they want to hear, you can’t go wrong.

Coming up with interesting content every time you put your B2B newsletter together can be extremely difficult if you’re not prepared. With a plan and a little creativity, your next newsletter can be a hit.

Do you have any more tips for turning a boring B2B newsletter into a must-read? How do you consistently come up with interesting topics?

A vitamin a day does a business good

We’re all tired of hearing about how bad business is, how bad it’s going to be and how we all wish it could be how it used to, because none of those conversations work to get anything accomplished. My Creative Team agrees:

Don’t just sit there in a funk. The media news may be gloomy but you don’t have to succumb. Be proactive.

They recently put together a new iPaper full of 50 One-A-Day Marketing Vitamins your business can start implementing today.

These are just a few of our favorite marketing ideas:

  • Send handwritten notes to your best customers, thanking them for the part they have played in your success.
  • Solicit customer feedback. Call a customer at random just to thank him for the business he has given you, and ask how his business is going. Then, listen.
  • Gather competitors’ ads and literature to see what they are promoting, and how they are approaching their target market.
  • Find an example of where you knocked it out of the park for a client and then write a case study about it.
  • Conduct a free seminar for your target audience on your area of expertise.

For more great marketing ideas, take a look for yourself:

We’re all in the media business now

Whether you realize it or not, your company is a media company.

There’s a new media landscape emerging and no matter what industry you’re in, you’re a part of it. Slowly, but surely, more “businesses are becoming media companies,” according to Rick Burnes at Mashable.

While “most business blogs are still boring monologues about products,” many are changing with the tides and producing content that is less focused on the product and more about topics that interest their customers.

For example, the Whole Foods supermarket chain isn’t only providing their customers with the latest information on the food they carry. They’re also creating added value for the customer on their website by sharing recipes and cooking videos.

“Media production is simply becoming a skill that separates mediocre businesses from great ones. Companies that have the creative skills to attract an audience with quality, independent content are excelling.”

Businesses that take the traditional route (i.e. buying newspaper ads) are spending a lot of money on short-term exposure. By creating your own content, housed at your own site, is like putting money down on a long-term investment.

When you first create a blog, the lack of exposure you get at first may not seem like it’s worth the investment, but in time it will pay off. Produce articles, grow your content and keep working on adding more content and watch how your search traffic grows with it.

Content is king. If you provide added value for your customer, in more than just a product description, it will pay off in loyalty.

Read the full article here.

Top free resources to improve your online writing

Whether you’re Tweeting, blogging or creating new content for your website, good writing skills are a key to your online success.

Improving your online writing skills doesn’t have to involve expensive courses or training seminars. In fact, you can find some of the best training for free online.

Check out some of these great free resources to improve your online writing:

10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online – Formal college courses take time and money to complete, but luckily there are plenty of universities out there offering free writing courses online.

Copyblogger – Everyday the writers at Copyblogger deliver the latest best practices and tips for web writing. Improve your copywriting skills using resources ranging from “Copywriting 101” to “Writing Headlines.”

Problogger – Along with tips on writing for the web, Darren Rowse at ProBlogger offers daily tips on how to promote your blog, blog design and improve your search engine optimization.

Confident Writing – A blog by writing coach Johanna Young offering advice, encouragement and instruction on how to be a confident writer online and off.

Daily Writing Tips – Five talented professional writers offer exactly what the title of their blog states, daily tips on how to improve your writing.

Grammar Girl – Improve your writing skills with friendly and quick writing tips from Mignon Fogarty. Grammar Girl makes confusing grammar rules simple with memorable tricks.

Manage Your Writing – According to blog author Kenneth Davis, “writing is a process that can be managed, like any other business process.” Learn how to manage your writing in almost the same way you manage your people, money and time.

What’s the best email subject line length?

New research shows that the length of your email subject lines may not be the most important factor when it comes to email performance.

While sending emails with shorter subject lines does correlate with higher open and click-thru rates, subject-line word order and content may be just as important to email performance, according to new research by U.S. marketing services firm Epsilon.

Epsilon analyzed more than one billion emails over almost 20,000 separate campaigns, finding that the relationship between subject-line length and open and click-thru rates is relatively weak.

The most critical email success factors include word order, word choice and brand and audience awareness, according to their analysis.

“Marketers should keep in mind that most recipients will likely decide to open an email based on their relationship with the sender and the first 38 to 47 characters of the subject line,” the report stated. “However, that decision may depend less on a subject line of 38 to 47 characters, and more on the information those 38 to 47 characters contain. campaign, the vital piece of information may be the brand name. For another, it may be the consumer benefit.”

Here’s what you should do:

  • Put the most emphasis on positioning the most important elements first. Put the most important information at the beginning of your subject lines.
  • Keep subject lines as short as possible. Use only as many characters as you need to convey the message. Use long subject lines only when there is a compelling reason to do so.

We usually spend the most time thinking about and testing the creative aspects of emails, leaving little time to focus on subject lines. Remember, more people will be looking at our subject lines than will ever take a peek at the creative.