Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Shayla Price
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 by Shayla Price
How Bloggers Can Defeat Writer's BlockWriting isn’t simple. It takes time and involves lots of conscious thinking. And as a blogger, you can feel stuck in a rut. Sometimes you probably get frustrated at the thought of crafting another blog post. That’s okay. Many bloggers like yourself struggle with writer’s block. Henneke Duistermaat, a copywriter and business writing coach, gives more insight: “Writing is hard work. There’s no doubt about that. But you can make it even harder by accepting writer’s block. Don’t become a tortured genius. Choose to get on with writing. Experiment. Find out what works for you.” Ready to face your fears? Here are five ways to overcome writer’s block.
1. Review Your Past Writing AchievementsBloggers live on the edge of perfection. You want every post to reflect your brand flawlessly—the headline, the images, and the stories. In the attempt to be perfect, you can easily get trapped in your own mind. Rather than posting your blog post, you may delay the publication date for several weeks. On top of that, doubt can slowly creep into your soul. You start asking yourself: Is this post good enough? Will readers really enjoy it? Should I start from scratch? To get out of this slump, it’s important to recall your past writing accomplishments. These accolades showcase how great you truly are. Awards, certificates, and positive comments are all reminders that you can achieve success. So take a quick inventory of what you’ve achieved within the last few years. For instance, your blog may have won first place in a competition. That takes hard work and talent. Use that excitement to fuel your next project. Right now, you may feel unworthy, but you do have what it takes to produce compelling work. And don’t forget to take a step back and be thankful for your current writing journey. Your blogging matters, and writing is one piece of the puzzle. Move beyond internal conflict by looking at your past success.
2. Practice Free Writing When PossibleWhen you sit down to write, it can feel like a chore. You’ve got a specific topic and an outline to help guide you. However, this method can restrict your thinking. Following a strict writing routine can become stifling. You may lose your sense of creativity and possess no desire to write from your imagination. Give yourself the flexibility to think outside of the box. Free writing is a technique where you write without worrying about the spelling, grammar, or topic. You’re writing with no fear. And that can be exhilarating! The aim is to put words on the page. You can come back to correct any mistakes during the editing process. It’s all about releasing your mind from the burden of writing. Jeff Goins, best-selling author of four books, offers his viewpoint: “Start somewhere, anywhere. Write a few lines. Say anything. And see what happens. Don’t think about it too much or make any fancy announcements. Just write. It doesn’t need to be eloquent or presentable; it just needs to be written.” Also, switch up your writing utensils. If you usually type, use a pen and paper. Stop editing while you write. Enjoy the freedom to make errors without judgement.
3. Spark a Conversation With a FriendInspiration comes in many different shapes and forms. It’s time to ditch the closed-minded attitude and gather new ways of thinking from external sources. When you want to boost your writing skills, try talking with a friend or two. Ask them about their day and their thoughts on random subjects. It’s a chance to travel in someone else’s shoes and learn from their daily experiences. You’ll pick up on what makes them happy and how they solve conflicts. All these intimate details are optimal for knocking down writer’s block. You also may want to make an effort to watch your favorite television shows. Creativity can flow from simply admiring characters on the screen. Maybe you’ll get inspired to create a suspenseful cliffhanger or build your own content series. If you’re not a TV fan, read books and articles in different literary genres. Exploring outside of your normal reading habits gives you the courage to do something out of your comfort zone. So instead of writing the same old serious video script, consider publishing a funny vlog. Pick up a new book or start chatting with a close friend. You can break through writer’s block with the help of another perspective.
4. Eliminate Any and All DistractionsWriting is an art form that needs your undivided attention. Multitasking as you write can destroy your focus and drag you down. Think about all the distractions that occur while you’re writing. The phone rings and it’s the dentist office reminding you about an upcoming appointment. An email lands in your inbox and your beloved brand gives you a store discount, leading you down a black hole of shopping for two to three hours. These distractions keep you away from your writing. While you may have bought an awesome new pair of pants, you still haven’t made progress on your blog post. Before you disconnect from the world, you should assess what time of day works best for you. Uche Ibe, a blogger at We Love Singing, explains: “One simple way to do this is to try writing at various hours throughout the day, gauge your focus and energy levels, and compare what you wrote. If you find that you struggle to write in the morning, then it’s probably best to make time for writing at night.” Carve out time in your schedule to write. When you create time blocks, you have room to focus only on writing and nothing else. From Slack notifications to unexpected errands, it’s difficult to write with constant interruptions. You can make writing a priority with a dedicated schedule.
5. Start Dancing Around Your RoomPhysical activity spawns innovation. By moving your body, you open the door to expanding your mental energy. Then, there’s more room for you to write with a clear mind. Stanford University researchers found that “study participants who went for walks saw an 81% increase in tests measuring divergent thinking, a thought process associated with creativity in which you generate lots of ideas.” That’s huge for doing something as simple as walking! Fuel your brain by taking a walk around your block or even jogging for a few minutes at your local park. Not only do you reduce the pressure of having to write, you also add a healthy routine to your lifestyle. Of course, you probably want to kick it up a notch. So turn up your music and dance in your writing space. No one will judge you. The objective is to relax and to have fun. By not scrutinizing your every move, you can bring in positivity and combat writer’s block. Whether you exercise, dance, or just walk, a little movement can go a long way. Blast a few tunes on your iPod and get moving today.
Conquer Writer’s BlockWriting is a mental task that requires hard work. It’s no surprise you may feel depleted and experience writer’s block. Move past this hurdle by looking back at your past writing achievements for inspiration. Gain a new perspective by calling a friend. And of course, regain your energy with a little movement, like dancing or walking. Eliminate your fears. You can conquer writer’s block. Did you like this post? Check out these articles:
Thursday, February 8, 2018 by Shayla Price
7 Social Advertising Pros and Cons for Small BusinessesReady to take your small business to the next level? Social advertising may be the channel worth your investment. Even if you’re a novice in this space, there’s an opportunity for you to earn brand awareness and new customers. “One of the fascinating things about social advertising is that there is virtually no limit to your ability to scale. You don’t have to wait for someone to search for your targeted keywords. You don’t have to wait for someone to run your promotion or read your blog. If you want to reach 50,000 people in one day, you can,” says Warren Jolly, the CEO of adQuadrant. Before you make this critical decision, it’s important that you know the pros and cons. Here are a few you should consider.
Social Advertising ProsThe advantages of social ads make it easier for you to connect with your customers and gain brand recognition. Explore these pros to boost business growth.
1. Pinpoint Specific AudiencesIn traditional advertising, brands take wild guesses on reaching their target audiences. Companies receive broad ranges about demographics, like "women from ages 18-35" or "household income $75,000-$100,000." While that strategy may have worked in the past, it’s not suitable in our current market. Today’s consumer is seeking products and services geared to their specific needs. And for small businesses, that means advertising must be spot on! Social advertising gives brands the flexibility to pinpoint audiences. Not only can you narrow down a consumer’s age and gender, you also can zoom in on their multiple interests and geographical locations. Below is an example of how Facebook’s ad platform allows you to define audiences. This specificity ensures that your team only targets people that fit your consumer profile. As a result, customers only see ads that meet their needs, and you save money connecting with the right consumers.
2. Enjoy Success, Even With Limited BudgetsAs a small business, especially if you’re brand new, it’s key that every cent impacts on your bottom line. You can’t afford to spend wastefully. Well, there’s good news! Social advertising is cost-effective and can fit any budget. You control on whether you want to pay thousands or just a few hundred. It’s always good to have a plan when working on a limited budget. Brian Peters, digital marketing manager at Buffer, offers his advice on getting the most from social advertising: “One of the biggest opportunities for so many brands with limited time and resources is to simply boost top performing posts from their page. Not only is this the most inexpensive form of social media advertising, but it also provides brands with a way to reach a new customer segment that they might not have been able to with traditional ads.”
3. Track Campaigns With EaseNot too long ago, business teams didn’t have precise metrics for their old-school marketing campaigns. They learned something worked when people walked into their stores. This outdated method doesn’t give companies the luxury to adjust their ads. With social advertising, tracking campaign results is painless. Small businesses know exactly how their ads are performing because data happens in real-time. You can use this information to make better decisions. Let’s say an advertisement lacks engagement. It’s possible for you to pause the campaign and revamp the design midway. Or if a campaign boosted revenue by 20% in May, you can kick off the campaign again in November for the holiday shopping season. Monitoring campaign performance is essential. When measuring advertising success, look for opportunities to customize the experience for your audience.
4. Increase Brand VisibilitySocial advertising is a gateway for introducing your brand to new audiences. Rather than waiting for consumers to visit your site, you’re meeting them on their turf—social media. When engaging with your audience, it’s vital that your ad doesn’t appear out of place. Instead, you want to add to the ongoing conversation on each channel. “Realize there’s several different types of paid advertising you can choose from on social media. Not every type of ad will work for your brand. However, one of the best techniques to follow when creating paid content is to seamlessly blend into feeds, walls and timelines,” explains Alex York, a senior SEO specialist at Sprout Social. Let your brand personality shine through in your advertising. You can include GIFs, memes, and funny quotes to capture consumers’ attention. Being relatable and likeable increases your odds of getting seen.
Social Advertising ConsLike any channel, social advertising has its drawbacks. It’s up to you to figure out whether they outweigh the pros.
1. Prepare for the Learning CurveWith an uncharted path, you’ll face difficulty at first. This same notion is true as it relates to social advertising. There are a variety of platforms with their own specific guidelines and best practices (check out our guides to advertising on LinkedIn, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). So you may encounter a steep learning curve. But don’t let that hinder your team. You have a few options to keep moving forward. For example, you can hire an agency that specializes in social advertising to create and run your campaigns. Or you can employ a skilled freelancer who can advise your team on the best course of action. Another option is to actually invest in a current employee. There are lots of online courses that can speed up the learning process. Plus, each platform offers knowledge bases for users, like the Instagram Help Center below. It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Take the necessary actions to make social ads work for your small business.
2. Stay Ready for the CompetitionMore than 4 million businesses pay for social media advertising on Facebook. It’s likely that your competitors are also attempting to gain consumer traction with social ads. Since the competition isn’t going away, your team must constantly differentiate itself in the marketplace. That translates into creating unique ads, catering to new niches, or even bumping up your ad spend. This type of advertising requires patience. You’re aiming for long-term success, not short-term wins. Arnie Gullov-Singh, the former chief operating officer at Polyvore, provides more insight: “Social advertising is an effective way to get consumers to engage with your message in a thoughtful and organic way. Social ads create stronger long-term value as the content continues to get amplified across consumers’ networks.” Prepare to address the nonstop pressures of competition. Work with your team to find innovative ways to set your brand apart from others.
3. Brace for Negative CommentsSocial media is well-known for getting consumers excited about your brand. However, that attention isn’t always supportive. Some people will make it their mission to publicly humiliate your small business. Be proactive and set up a crisis communication plan. When irate consumers invade your Facebook ad, instruct your team to record their concerns and respond politely in a timely manner. The worst thing you can do is completely ignore your customer base and never address their issues. You can transform any negative comments into positive feedback. For instance, if you notice consumers expressing grievances about a particular ad, reconsider your business’s approach. Maybe it’s time to change the ad copy or use a different image. All consumer engagement won’t be favorable. And that’s perfectly okay. You can use it to your advantage by turning those gripes into strengths.
Take a Step Towards Social AdvertisingIf you’re new to social advertising, it can be quite intimidating. Yet, it’s crucial that you examine the pros and cons for your small business. The goal is to attract new consumers and boost your revenue. Learn how social advertising can fit into your marketing and sales strategy.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Shayla Price
How to Turn Your Organic Site Visitors Into Loyal CustomersYou’re getting quality traffic to your e-commerce store. Now what? As a small business owner, you’re tasked with turning those visitors into customers. It’s up to you to woo consumers into purchasing your latest products. While it may sound difficult, don’t panic. Matt Ackerson, founder of AutoGrow, offers sage advice: “Once you understand that traffic is just like energy or water and you just need to create pathways to direct it where you want it to go, the rest is easy. Don’t make the mistake of over complicating it though. So many business people think success has to be complicated when it doesn’t.” Let’s make the process simple for you and the consumer. Here are five ways to convert your traffic into loyal customers.
1. Write Creative Product DescriptionsWhen it comes to marketing products online, storytelling really does matter. It only takes one click for a consumer to exit your site and visit a competitor. You can keep your customers’ attention and sell more items by crafting creative product descriptions. Descriptive text is an opportunity to highlight your products and showcase your brand’s personality. You want the product description to breathe life into the item. To achieve this objective, set the scene for the buyer. You want the shopper to imagine themselves using the product. It’s also helpful to skip the corporate jargon. Aim to use the everyday language of the typical consumer. Online women’s clothing retailer ModCloth uses expressive words to persuade its consumers into purchasing their inventory. Each product description digs into the emotional state of the shopper’s mind. Not only do you learn about the product’s physical dimensions, but you also understand how it will make you feel. When writing product descriptions, focus on turning features into benefits. How will the item improve consumers’ lives? What will the product help them achieve? Dig deep and touch their pain points. Stand out from the competition with unique product descriptions. You’ll appeal to your audience’s imagination and increase their desire for your products.
2. Create a Sense of UrgencyWith a jam-packed schedule of work assignments and family responsibilities, it’s easy for your consumers to delay buying products at this very moment. That’s why your team must nudge them to the checkout cart sooner than later. Creating a sense of urgency isn’t about causing a state of panic for your audience. Instead, you want to help them make a speedy decision about the products they already want. “Urgency can be blocked by your customers’ minds if you don’t give them specific instructions on how to solve the problem. Rather than giving vague instructions, tell people exactly what to do when the time comes and don’t be afraid to drive them toward specific actions,” says Gregory Ciotti, former senior content marketing manager at Help Scout. A few urgency tactics include adding a countdown clock to your sales page, showing the limited number of items in stock, and offering discounts on abandoned cart items. You may want to spotlight product demand, too. For instance, you can show how many people have already purchased a particular item—using FOMO as a marketing strategy. A small dose of urgency is helpful for getting your customers across the purchasing threshold. Product value mixed with persistence means more sales for your business.
3. Offer Top-Notch Customer SupportResearch shows that “on average happy customers tell nine people about their experiences with a company.” If you’re delivering superb customer support, that’s an opportunity to generate more revenue for your e-commerce store. While online support varies from the traditional in-person experience, some of the same principles apply. Your purpose is to offer immediate, accurate help with a touch kindness. When speaking with your support reps, consumers should feel special. Begin with a warm-hearted, concerned tone when talking to customers. Your team will want to approach each conversation as if the consumer is talking to a friend, not stranger. Also, it’s important to train your support reps to solve customers’ concerns as quickly as possible. Shoppers respect business efficiency because it doesn’t waste their precious time. BaubleBar values its shoppers and makes offering customer service a priority. The accessories retailer allows customers to email and call their staff members. Plus, the company posts their availability along with the normal response time. And don’t be afraid to apologize to your customers. If you make a mistake, acknowledge your error and continue to provide high-caliber service. Quality service is the key to ensuring casual shoppers turn into loyal customers. Give your audience different support channels to connect with your team.
4. Build an Exclusive CommunityThe desire to belong is part of your consumer’s humanity. In one way or another, we’re all seeking a chance to be part of a specific group, team, or club. Your e-commerce store can satisfy that consumer need by establishing a brand community. “We have an inherent need to be a part of a social community and to feel connected to others. It not only makes us feel secure and comfortable, it inspires us to take action to achieve our desired results as well,” writes entrepreneur Akshay Nanavati. Brand communities take many shapes and forms. There’s the VIP rewards programs with die-hard fans seeking exclusive perks. Or you can develop an advisory panel where consumers can give you insight on their interests and tastes. Fostering a community requires time and patience. You’ll want to create rules and expectations for your consumers. That way, you’re building trust early in the relationship. Go beyond the usual benefits of a community. Ask your brand advocates for their honest feedback in exchange for unique product discounts. And be mindful not to bog down your loyal members with excessive emails and push notifications. Communities ensure regular contact between your business and buyers. Elevate your e-commerce store with brand advocates championing your mission.
5. Present an Irresistible Exit Pop-Up OfferBelieve it or not, your consumers aren’t excited to buy your products every time they land on your site. They may visit your store to just do price comparisons, or they might have a few minutes to spare during lunch and occupy their time by browsing your website. While consumer intent may concentrate on another purpose, your goal is to reel shoppers in and persuade them to purchase. And one of the best ways to do so is with exit pop-up offers. An exit popup is a message that appears when a visitor tries to leave your site. It helps your team refocus the consumer’s attention back to your store. This popup is a prime location for you to give visitors a special deal, offer an instant promotion, or add them to a particular email newsletter. Behappy.me knows how to capture the attention of visitors attempting to leave its site. The store offers first-time buyers an extra 10% discount to influence their buying decision. There’s always one last chance to entice your consumers. With exit pop-up offers, you can grab hesitant shoppers who need extra motivation to buy your products.
Turning Traffic Into TrustPersuading visitors to become customers isn’t an easy task. However, with a sound strategy and patience, you can get shoppers to the checkout cart. Start with drafting creative product descriptions to get visitors excited about your items. Then, create a sense of urgency with limited-time sales. And always offer five-star customer support to show consumers you truly care. Build trust to convert your traffic into loyal customers.
Monday, December 4, 2017 by Shayla Price
The Ultimate Guide to Building and Using Buyer PersonasEvery customer isn’t the same. Whether you’re running a brick-and-mortar bakery or an online clothing store, all your customers don’t fit the same mold. They possess different needs and interests. And your business must cater to those varying desires. To do so, it’s best that your team develop buyer personas to organize the types of customers entering your shop. “The purpose of creating a buyer persona is to get crystal clear on the individuals who you are marketing to. Until you nail this down, you can’t really be sure that your offerings and your marketing messaging are going to be successful,” states Mary Fernandez, a professional blogger. Let’s make better business decisions. Use the following five steps to build actionable buyer personas.
1. State Your GoalsWith so much happening in your business, it’s easy to forget why you create certain tools. You got a marketing plan, a content strategy, sales sheets, and that random piece of paper on your office floor. So before you jump into creating a much-needed buyer persona, it’s important that you understand how it relates to your company’s goals. That way, you’re not just crafting something that will never help your team. When done correctly, buyer personas give you a 360 degree view about the customer. These insights are critical to closing sales, writing email copy, and revamping brand identity. Actionable buyer personas will align with your overall business strategy. On a granular scale, you may consider mirroring personas based on the sales funnel. For example, it’s possible to divide one persona into multiple layers. Let’s say Customer X buying concerns change throughout the funnel. In the awareness stage, the customer worries about his need for a new product. While in the comparison stage, the same customer focuses on selecting the right vendor. This analysis gives your team accurate information on specific buyers as it relates to their willingness to buy your product today. It empowers you to adjust based on the team’s goals and the customer’s expectations.
2. Research Your AudienceMany companies make the mistake of creating their buyer personas prematurely. They decide the objective and then begin developing the persona. After a few hours (or weeks), teams realize that they don’t know enough about their ideal customers. They understand the basics, like demographics, which only scratches the surface of consumer insights. To avoid this common mistake, the key is to focus on researching your audience. You want to know why they purchase, how they make buying decisions, and what (or who) influences them. You can gather this customer information through your analytics dashboard, surveys, focus groups, and blog comments. Jen Havice, a website copywriter, offers another research tool: “Talking to your existing customers can provide valuable information into their buying habits, what motivates them, and the words they use to describe your product or service. While conducting interviews can be expensive and labor intensive, the answers can be illuminating.” Researching gives your team the opportunity to truly appreciate your customers. So don’t feel unsettled about gathering too much data. More importantly, you should always uphold ethical standards—never share customers’ data to third parties without their consent. Without the proper research, your buyer personas become vague descriptions that correlate to every consumer in the industry. Dig deeper by taking your research to the next level.
3. Create the PersonaWith all your customer data collected, it’s time to actually create the persona. Assembling the information in a concise, yet appealing format will allow your team to easily extract key insights when questions about a specific buyer arises. So remember to develop your persona to fit the many learning styles of your team members. Start by giving your persona a name. By doing so, you make this document real for your team. You may want to add a picture of a real customer. Next, outline the background facts about your buyer, including the age, gender, and job role. Quick bullet points work well here. Following those details, you want to jot down the nitty gritty of your buyers’ interests, motivations, and behaviors. Give your team the reasoning behind your customers’ habits. If all the information won’t fit, you can attach a brief addendum to your buyer persona. You’ll also want to collaborate with your team members about what to add to the persona. Each department has a different perspective on how to serve your customers. Therefore, each team can offer insights on the makeup of the buyer. Ready to get started? For free online persona templates, click here.
4. Integrate the Persona Into Your StrategyFusing your buyer persona into your business strategy is a vital step to turning the document into a practical tool. More often than not, marketers get so bogged down by the persona itself that they forget the true purpose for creating it in the first place. For every department, you can outline how they can benefit from the persona—making it easy for teams to apply the data. For example, customer support reps may use the persona to identify how to best respond to specific customers based on their communication styles. Other teams may see the persona as a guide to update their procedures and refine their current methods for catering to the customer. Copywriter Jessica Mehring provides the following advice to content marketing teams: “Go through all the content you have, and look at it through the eyes of your buyer persona. Set aside or rewrite anything that they won’t connect with. Putting ineffective content in the buyer’s path is going to water down your content strategy as a whole – and worse, it might just confuse your target customers.” Another technique is to design engagement scenarios for your personas. Prepare your team to interact with all your customers in multiple circumstances. No matter the situation, always find innovative ways to use your personas to benefit your business.
5. Evaluate Your PersonaBuyer personas aren’t carved in stone; they are living documents that will adapt to your customers’ lifestyles and behaviors. So make an effort to evaluate your personas once or twice a year. Evaluation can be as simple as updating your customer’s occupation and goals. Or you may need to do a complete overhaul and start from scratch. During your evaluation, it’s advised that you consult with senior management. Learn whether the company will be targeting new personas or if it’s time to remove a persona. You also may discover that the customer journey altered, which greatly reflects the buyer’s purchasing habits. With team input, you can customize the personas in greater detail. Maybe you recently completed customer interviews. You can add these newfound particulars. In the example below, you’ll notice brand names enjoyed by the customer along with the types of technology they use. There’s no wrong or right way to build or evaluate a buyer persona. The main objective is to develop processes that gives you a realistic view of your customer. Accurate information empowers your team to serve your customers better.
Buyer Personas in ActionUnderstanding your customers’ lifestyles and product desires helps your team build competitive strategies. Consumer research at your fingertips refines how you approach your audience. Therefore, work with your team to define your goals and build multiple buyer personas to improve your sales funnel.