How to Engage Prospects With Social Media

I know, I know, you’ve heard everywhere that you need to be on social media. But if you’re on social media you’re probably not trying hard enough. And if you are trying hard enough you’re probably not catching your mistakes. And if you are catching your mistakes… well, if you’ve reached that point I’m the one who should be asking you for advice!

 

The thing about social media is that there are a million ways to do it all wrong. So I hope you won’t take offense if I say you’re probably doing about nine hundred thousand things wrong right about now.

 

(It’s nothing personal, it’s just that there’s a learning curve at work here.)

 

There’s an upside to that statistic I just made up though: if you can get your act together and do social media right, you can master it. And since you’re doing nine hundred thousand things wrong, there’s plenty of space for improvement.

 

So let’s cut through the misconceptions about social media and figure out how you can really use social media to get real results.

 

Build Individual Relationships

So many brands and so many freelancers get into the (frankly awful) habit of thinking their whole social media effort is about racking up followers. The thought process here seems to be, “Well, if I have ninety billion followers, some of them are bound to trickle down and buy eventually.”

 

Now, maybe if you’re Wal Mart that kind of thinking can work. If you’re Wal Mart, you can afford to throw a few million bucks at the problem and see if it does anything. And if it doesn’t, it’s no big deal.

 

But here’s the facts, bub: you ain’t Wal Mart.

 

Prospecting and selling on social media means actually getting out there and actually engaging with people. Make friends. Crack jokes. Ask questions. Everybody’s out there trying to do the same thing you are. Find the people you belong with and get to know them.

 

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “That’s good and well for a freelancer, but my small business can’t do that kind of thing.” And to an extent you’re right. People aren’t generally eager to have brands jump in on their conversations (especially not in any overtly salesy way).

 

But even if you’re a small or medium-sized business, you have options for building relationships. You can host a Twitter chat. You can ask questions and follow up with the people who answer them. You can steadily use social media as a tool to dial in on who your prospects are, how to find them, and what they need to hear from you.

 

Speak to Your Prospects’ Needs

Here’s the thing: it’s much easier to produce content that speaks to your prospects’ concerns after you’ve built a relationship with a few of them. And I’m not talking about all that malarkey people like to spew about big data and how it’s supposedly so useful. This is about getting to know your prospects.

 

I’m talking real, human knowledge. I’m talking the kind of knowledge that you feel in your fingers and in your tongue. It’s that little glow in the heart you feel when you meet somebody you can really respect and admire.

 

It’s not something you can manufacture with data. It’s not something you can find an algorithm for. It’s a matter of real human connection. People can tell the difference between somebody who’s going through the motions for the sake of making a sale or doing what the data says and somebody who’s really speaking to them.

 

I don’t want to get all mushy here, but I think that’s what words like “spirit” mean. It’s something people share when they’re really and genuinely speaking and listening to one another. And it’s exactly that which you need to bring into your social media use.

 

If you hear the concerns of people you’ve gotten to know and genuinely care about, you’ll gain insights into your prospects’ needs that you can’t access any other way. And that is how you create a social media presence that stands out from the pack.

 

Experiment Constantly

Among other things, this means being consistent with your social media use. From now on, there are no days off social media. You’re here for a reason, and you’re not leaving until you figure out how to satisfy that reason.

 

Listen: every industry is different, and you’re going to have to figure out what works best for you. I’m a freelance writer and I do a lot of my marketing on social media. That means I’m interested in finding brands that need a skilled writer. And that means I’m constantly calibrating my approach to figure out what these brands need and how best to serve them with my social media presence and my blog.

 

Sure, experimenting with social media takes a lot of effort. But the more effort you put into the process, the better you get at it. And the better you get at it, the more you’ll eventually come to love social media.

 

Believe me. When I first started working on Twitter and LinkedIn, I hated social media. I thought it was a vapid waste of time and that anybody who wasted their time with it was an idiot who deserved to have his or her head smashed in. (That probably accounts for a lot of the mistakes I made at the beginning!)

 

But if you stick with it, you’ll realize there’s more to social media than angry people spouting their awful political opinions all over the place. There’s a wealth of information out there. There are brilliant people doing brilliant work. With a little time and a little cleverness, a network like Twitter can allow you to connect to almost anyone you can even dream of contacting.

 

Think about that for a minute.

 

Make a list of five people you’d like to get in touch with someday.

 

Go see how many of those people have a Twitter account just like yours.

 

Remember: if you get good enough at social media, you can take your account (or your brand’s account) and connect to anybody. The possibilities are literally only limited by your imagination.

 

So keep at it. Maybe you’re fumbling through the social media these days. But with time and practice you can turn it into something amazing.

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What are Case Studies? (Part 3 of 3)

 

We’ve spent the last couple of days talking about what case studies are and how you can create one. Now, that’s great and wonderful, but in the end there’s only one real question: what are you going to do with your case study once you’ve got it?

 

I think we can all agree that that’s the real question here.

 

And what’s the answer? Here’s the short answer: plenty. A well-written case study is a versatile marketing tool, so it’s not really limited to one use.

 

I’ve taken a little time to get together ten of the most common uses. But before I do that, I’ve got a little admission to make: a case study is usually only cost-effective in an industry where you’ve got a high Customer Lifetime Value. So if you’re selling bubble gum, you might want to move along.

 

Now that we’ve got that caveat out of the way, here’s our list:

 

  1. Build credibility for your solution.

This is the value of the interview. if you want to show your prospects why your business is great, who are they more likely to believe: you or your customers?

 

That’s pretty obvious, I know. If they’re going to be putting their money on the line for your solution, they’ll want to hear from your customers. They’ll want to hear about how your business has added real value.

 

With a case study, you’ve got an accessible and compelling way to demonstrate that value. And if you pepper your case study with the customer’s own words, you add another layer of trust and credibility.

 

  1. Prove your industry knowledge.

How many of you have ever had a prospect who was just perfect for your offer, but they kept dragging their feet and saying, “But I don’t know if it will work for me.”?

 

We’ve all been there before. And we’ve all wracked our brains now and again, trying to come up with a way to dissolve that resistance.

 

When your prospect reads your case study, they should see a person a lot like them, in a company a lot like theirs. That way, when they see how your solution worked for this other company, they’ll be able to understand how you can help them.

 

And if you can make it personal to them, you can build a relationship.

 

  1. Engage your prospect’s imagination.

We’ve talked about this before, but one of the most important things about a case study is that it’s a story.

 

Now why’s that so important? We’re all human beings, right? Well, as human beings we’ve evolved to pick up information through stories.

 

Why’s Harry Potter so popular? Why did Disney pay George Lucas a billion dollars for the rights to the Star Wars franchise? Why do people dress up in elaborate costumes to go see the latest Marvel movie?

 

Simple: because it’s a great story. With a case study, you have a chance to tell your prospects a great story.

 

Now, I know it probably won’t be anything as dramatic as stopping Voldemort or blowing up the Death Star, but your story has a drama and a value of its own. The people who are meant to work with you will recognize that drama and value.

 

But they’ll only recognize it if you get that case study.

 

  1. Educate your prospect about your offer’s value.

Let’s face it: sometimes your prospects don’t immediately understand the value of your offer.

 

Maybe it’s an older prospect who doesn’t understand your software. Maybe it’s a first-time business owner who can’t see why this equipment is necessary. Maybe it’s an executive who’s worried about passing up a major chance.

 

Here’s the thing: we’ve all got our areas of expertise, and sometimes you’ll be working with a prospect who needs your solution but just doesn’t get your offer.

 

With your case study in hand, you can show those prospects why your offer will help them. When they see the way your solution has resolved a problem similar to theirs, they’ll be much more interested in discussing what you can do for them.

 

  1. Accumulate social proof.

In his classic book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini spends a chapter on the concept of social proof. He says the principle of social proof “states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct.”

 

So how does a case study create social proof? That’s simple enough. When you show your prospects that others like them have benefitted from your offer, it’s much easier to convince them they could benefit.

 

When you were a newcomer, it was hard to show a prospect the value of your solution. But now that you’ve built a base of loyal clients, you can leverage that social proof to scale your business.

 

Case studies are a way for you to get that leverage.

 

  1. Learn what your best customers value in your offer.

This is a bit of a hidden benefit, but if you think about it for a minute it makes a lot of sense. Think about it: if you’re trying to improve your business, what do you want to know?

 

That’s obvious, you think. You want to know about the problems customers have with your offer and what you can do to improve it. It stings to hear those customer complaints, but they’re awfully valuable, right?

 

That’s a good answer. But it’s not the whole story.

 

Of course you want to know what your unhappy customers think you’re doing wrong. But isn’t it at least as important to know what your happy customers think you’re doing right? Of course you want to know what you need to change. But isn’t it at least as important to know what needs to stay the same?

 

A solid case study can get you that information. Sure, it’s mostly a marketing tool. But it’s also a valuable insight into what excites your best customers.

 

  1. Repurpose your case studies (Both on- and offline).

Now, a lot of the things I’ve been talking about here are geared toward softening up a sales process. That’s definitely one of the strong points of a case study. But it’s not the only use, and more often than not it’s not even the main use.

 

Post your case studies on your website. Convert them into infographics and YouTube videos. Blog posts, podcasts, press releases, you name it! With a little extra work, you can get out feelers on all your marketing channels.

 

And when you do that, you can have a self-selected group of warm prospects approaching you. In that way, case studies make a great hammer in your marketing toolbox.

 

  1. Remind yourself what your business is all about.

Now, I know this isn’t really a business benefit. But doesn’t it happen sometimes that we forget what we’re in business for? We find that routine that works, and we fall into it so deep we lose track of what it’s all about.

 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday. We get so caught up in running our businesses that we start to forget they’re about people.

 

Your business is about serving people, in the end. So sometimes the real value of the case study can be to show you the difference you’ve made. Because we’ve all got to take care of business, but in the end “taking care of business” is just another way of saying we take care of each other.

 

Business is about the relationships we form along the way. And at its best, a case study can be a way to remind us of that.

 

As always, thanks for reading and best of luck to you and your endeavors. Be sure to take a look at yesterday’s article if you want to know more about case studies. Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any questions. You can reach me in my comment section, or if you like you can email me at geofreycrow@crowcopywriting.com.

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What are Case Studies? (Part 2 of 3)

 

Yesterday we talked about what case studies are, and I gave you a few ideas on how a great case study can show off what’s special about your business. Today I’m going to give you a step by step guide to producing a case study that grabs your prospect and forces them to read every word.

 

(Just a side note: if you haven’t taken a look at yesterday’s article yet, here’s a quick rundown on what you need to know.

 

A case study is a marketing tool that shows your prospects the value of your offering.

 

Most of the time, a case study will:

 

  • Share a compelling story that shows your how your company solved a customer’s problem.
  • Present the story from your customer’s point of view.
  • Display an angle that shows the unique thing that makes your company shine.
  • Educate your prospects on the value of your offering.

 

Case studies are usually about one to four pages long. The very best of them tells a story that informs, entertains, and inspires.)

 

I’ll be honest with you: it’s not easy to craft a brilliant case study. But with a lot of time, hard work, and dedication, you should be able to get the job done. Of course, a professional copywriter will usually be eager to take that work off your hands if you don’t have the time.

 

So without any further ado, let’s get writing, shall we?

 

  1. Find one of your best, most typical customers, and schedule an interview with a representative.

Now, this is a pretty simple step in and of itself, but I wanted to take some time to talk about it so I could draw your attention to the two key words here. What are the key words?

 

They are: best and most typical (okay, technically that’s three words. Sorry.).

 

You want to have your interview with your best customers for plenty of reasons. First off, if they’re you’re best customers, you’re more likely to be able to get a compelling story when you interview them, right?

 

And I know this is probably pretty obvious, but I might as well say it anyways: just like it’s best to get a review or a testimonial from your best customers, it’s best to get a case study from them, too. They’ve got the most value out of your offering and they’ll have an infectious enthusiasm that will spread to the people who read your case study.

 

It might be a little less obvious why I say you should go with your most typical customers. But that’s just a matter of practicality. I mean, if you’re trying to show your prospects what your offering can do, you’re not going to want them to read about that customer who buys a half-dozen special services and none of your typical offerings, are you?

 

Of course not. You’re going to want to interview the customer who buys your most common offer. After all, you’re telling this customer’s story. Don’t you want it to be one your typical prospect can relate to?

 

Sure you do. So break out that phone or keyboard and schedule that interview!

 

  1. Prepare for and conduct the interview.

When it comes to it, a phone or Skype interview is just fine for this part. It takes some practice to get good at interviewing, but let me just give you a few pointers so you can get the information you need.

 

Here’s the main thing to remember when you’re conducting interviews: never forget what you need to get out the interview.

 

What’s that, then? First off, you want story you can share with your prospects to show them the value of your offer.

 

That means you want to know all the facts and figures of the company. You want to be able to explain what they do and why they do it. Simple enough, right?

 

Second, you want to know about the problem that led this company to approach yours. (Protip: make sure you’ve got a clear description of the problem and the pain points involved.)

 

Third: you want to know how your company solved the problem. (Of course, you already know this, but you want to get the story from your customer’s point of view.) When the time comes to write your story, this will be where your company swoops in to save your customer.

 

Last: you want to know the results. That means you want to know the statistics that prove the value you’ve provided.

 

With a practiced hand, you should be able to fit all this information into a short interview. No pressure, you’ve got this.

 

  1. Write your first draft.

Now that you’ve got it all together, it’s time to get into the writing process. Luckily for you, case studies generally have a pretty standard structure, so you don’t have a lot to worry about on that front.

 

Remember: you’re telling a story here. The same skills go into crafting a good case study that go into telling a good story.

 

So what’s a good story? A good story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the beginning, you introduce your hero—in this case, your customer. In the middle, you introduce your hero’s problem and show them trying to solve it. And in the end, they solve it—with a little help from you and your company, of course!

 

Of course, describing basic story structure is one thing and actually writing an effective story is another thing. Skillful writing is a matter of practice and mastery, just like any other craft. But with time, discipline, and sheer will power, you can learn it.

 

  1. Edit and revise.

This part of the process is pretty obvious, I’ll admit. You tidy up your sentence structure. You check your spelling. You eliminate your passive verbs and you eliminate every word that doesn’t contribute to the meaning of your story.

 

You’ll probably want to give it to a few people you can trust to give you honest feedback on your work. Ask them if everything makes sense and if it all fits together just right.

 

(Trust me on this: I’ve written things I thought made perfect sense, but when I ran it by a couple of readers I found out I’d made some silly mistakes. You never can tell what people might misunderstand.)

 

Now that you’ve edited, pay attention to this part: before you use your case study for anything, you should run it by your customer and have them sign off on it. This is important: you want to get your customer to approve of the final article before you do anything with it.

 

So that’s the process! As always, thanks for reading and best of luck to you and your endeavors. Be sure to take a look at yesterday’s article if you want to know more about case studies. I’ll tell you some more about what you can use them for tomorrow!

 

Feel free to get in touch if you’ve got any questions. You can reach me in my comment section, or if you like you can email me at geofreycrow@crowcopywriting.com.

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What are Case Studies? (Part 1 of 3)

 

What’s a case study? A case study is a multi-use marketing tool that you can think of as something like a testimonial on steroids. With case studies, you tell your prospects a story about how your company solved a problem for them.

 

A case study is an article that tells your customer’s story in his or her own words. You’ll conduct an interview to get to know the story, and you’ll take that story and mold it into a handy sales and marketing tool.

 

With a case study, you tell your prospects a story where your customer is the hero and your company steps in to help them with a problem. It’s one of the most effective ways to build social proof and credibility for your company.

 

Good and well, you think. Why should you care?

 

Well, the reason you should care is because your prospects are much more interested in hearing about what your product or service has done for other people than they are in hearing about what the features are.

 

It’s all about benefits to the prospect instead of features of the product.

 

Why’s that? Simple. I’ll give you two reasons:

 

  1. We all care the most about what’s good for us.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: how can you say people care the most about what’s good for them? Am I saying everybody’s selfish? Am I saying people only care about themselves?

 

You can go ahead and relax. I’m not preaching Ayn Rand here. I’m just saying we’ve all got our own business and preoccupations, so if you want somebody’s attention it pays to speak to their business and preoccupations.

 

And of course people care about more than just themselves. But the hard fact of life is that you have to make sure your own house is in order before you can deal with anybody else’s needs. So considering what a challenge it can be to keep ourselves in order sometimes, it’s quite the accomplishment that we manage to help others as much as we do.

 

So that’s that: we care about what’s good for us, and we’ve got good reason to.

 

So when your prospects hear about your product or service, they’re not going to be terribly interested in a bunch of features of your service.

 

Think about it: when you go to buy a TV, do you really care how many megapixels the screen has? Or does the crystal-sharp image on the screen catch your eyes a lot more effectively?

 

Megapixel is just a technical-sounding word. It sounds good, sure. But be honest now: isn’t it the fact that you can make out every single blade of grass on that baseball field that really sells you on a TV screen?

 

Your customers are the same way. They like to hear about what your product or service has done for people like them.

 

Features of your product are nice, and you can tell your prospects about them if you want. But that’s not what captures their imagination or gives them the serious desire to buy.

 

  1. Human beings love stories.

Imagine you’re a caveman sitting out on the edge of a scorching desert around thirty-five thousand years ago. You’re sitting on a tuft of hardy grass and chewing on a hunk of raw antelope meat.

 

It’s tough stuff. You have to bite down hard to get it in your mouth, and you have to chew it forever to get it down enough to swallow it. It doesn’t taste very good, and it’s awfully hard on your stomach.

 

But what choice do you have? Raw meat is the only meat around.

 

So let’s say your buddy Og from the next cave over walks up to you. Og thinks he’s something special because he hired some avant-garde guy called a “painter” to draw buffalo on the wall of his cave.

 

(They don’t look anything like buffalo, you think. Besides, what good are they when you can’t eat them?)

 

Anyways, Og likes to show off how cosmopolitan he is, so he starts telling you about a guy he knows in the next valley over.

 

“He work R & D on something he call fire,” Og says.

 

“Technology getting out of hand these days,” you say. “What this so-called fire supposed to do?”

 

“Make meat taste better,” Og says. “Scare predators away. Keep cave warm and bright at night.”

 

“Crazy tech apologist,” you mutter. But you’re still curious enough to ask, “How your friend find out about fire?”

 

And Og smiles, opens his mouth, and tells you all about it.

 

Here’s the simple fact of the matter: human beings absorb information best through stories. Stories frame information in an accessible way, and they don’t overwhelm us with technical detail that makes the thing sound intimidating.

 

There are a lot of industries out there where prospects have a clear need for a service, but it’s hard to articulate that need to them because they don’t have the technical knowledge. It’s one of those things where people need to work within their specialty.

 

That’s where a case study can help you. It teaches people about your offering in terms they can understand.

 

Not everyone has the technical knowledge it takes to immediately understand the practical benefits of a complex offering. So when you let them know about your offering in terms of a story about A) a person similar to them, B) facing a problem similar to theirs, and C) resolving it with your product or service, you can educate them to the point where they know enough to decide whether they’re interested in learning more.

 

With a seductively-written case study, you can educate your prospects and streamline your sales and marketing process. You can build credibility for your business by allowing someone else to speak about what your product or service can do for them. You can even use your case studies as sources for testimonials on your site.

 

I’ll let you know more about the uses for your case study on Thursday. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the process of writing your case studies.

 

Thanks for reading. Have you used case study marketing before? Did you write it yourself, or did you hire a professional to take care of it? Let me know in the comments!

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Your SEO Strategy Development Guide

Maybe you’re an expert on SEO strategy development already. If you are, feel free to skip down a little, because I’m going to start out by explaining what SEO is and why SEO strategy development is so important.

 

Let me set the scene for you: you’ve been working on your content marketing for a while.

 

Maybe you’ve had a blog running, or maybe you’ve got guests contributing to your site.

 

Or maybe you’ve just got your main site, and you haven’t started your content marketing yet. That’s okay too.

 

You’re running your site, and maybe you’re even getting some pretty good traffic numbers through social media marketing. But those numbers still aren’t everything they could be, are they?

 

Of course not! You know as well as I do that when a business owner decides traffic is “good enough,” it’s time to count down till their site goes bye-bye.

 

Now, of course, I know that’s not you. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here.

 

But you also wouldn’t be here if your search traffic were through the roof or if you were getting so many orders you didn’t know how to fill them. Fair enough?

 

So I’ll level with you: your traffic’s not what it could be, your sales are in trouble, and you’re looking for solutions. Is that pretty much the situation for you?

 

I thought so.

 

Well, SEO strategy development can help with all that. It can blow your search traffic through the roof, bringing you targeted visitors who are already looking for what you have to offer.

 

With solid SEO, you can get your content the traffic it deserves, and you can draw traffic from the visitors who are most likely to buy. SEO can tighten up your sales funnel and give you the results you’re looking for.

 

Are you seeing dollar signs? Great!

 

Now, as you read along in this article, here’s what you’ll find:

 

  1. A description of what SEO strategy development can do for you, including:
    • What SEO is.
    • What SEO is not.
    • How SEO can help your business.
  2. A guide to putting together your SEO strategy, focusing on:
    • Setting objectives and metrics for success.
    • Selecting keywords and ranking for search engines.
    • Integrating your site into the link structure of the internet.
  3. A primer on how to integrate SEO into your existing online marketing strategy, emphasizing:
    • SEO is only a part of a winning online marketing strategy.
    • The value of combining good SEO with good content marketing.
    • The combined power of SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing.

 

Are you ready? Great! Then let’s get started.

 

Part One: What is SEO?

So as long as we’re getting started, we might as well start at the beginning: SEO stands for search engine optimization. (I know it can seem intimidating at first, but I promise it’s not.)

 

So what’s search engine optimization mean, you ask? Good question.

 

Simply put, SEO is a set of techniques that help internet users find your site on search engines like Google. Google is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to search engines, because 68 percent of searches come through there.

 

Why’s it so important to optimize for search engines?

 

Let me put it this way: have you ever taken a look at the amount of results your average Google search gets?

 

Just out of curiosity, I tried it out. I just did three Google searches, and all three of them had results in the millions (one was even in the billions!). Take a look:

 

 

Maybe the numbers will be different by the time you read this, but you get the point: there are massive amounts of results for just about every search. It’s easy to get buried in the clutter.

 

Let me ask you a question: how often do you go to the second page of your Google search results? The tenth page? The hundredth page?

 

That’s what I thought. Now, are you starting to see why SEO is so important?

 

So how does it work? Well, to tell you that, I’ll have to tell you a little about how search engines work. I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible, I promise.

 

Search engines work by having certain algorithms (known as “spiders” or “crawlers”) go through the web and compile lists of results.

 

Then when somebody makes a search, there’s another algorithm that determines the relevance each result has for each query.

 

Google keeps that algorithm pretty secret, but we know enough about it to do the work that lands your site on the first page of the Google searches that matter.

 

So, are we all clear on what SEO is? Or at least a little clear?

 

That’s great. Now let’s move on, and I can help clear up some of the misconceptions around SEO.

 

What SEO Isn’t

Before I go any further in helping you with your SEO strategy development, I want to clear up these three mistakes people often have about SEO:

 

  • Misconception number one: SEO is keyword-stuffing.
  • Misconception number two: SEO is too technical and too involved to be any use to me.
  • Misconception number three: SEO is always a simple, easy, overnight solution.

 

If you’ve heard a little about SEO in the past, it’s easy to come away with the idea that it’s a bunch of keyword stuffing.

 

There was a time when that was more or less true. Or at least, there was a time when you could simply load up your site with as many keywords as possible and crank out a first page ranking.

 

The problem with that was that pages full of gibberish and really low-quality content were ranking on the first page of Google. It was spammy, ugly, and not very useful for search engine users.

 

So in 2011, Google let out their Panda update, changing their algorithm massively. This was one of the most significant Google updates ever. It heavily penalized keyword-stuffing and sent many low-quality sites down into the low rankings they deserve.

 

These days, good SEO strategy development means using keywords usefully, naturally, and intelligently. And that’s good for all of us.

 

Another thing you might have heard about SEO is that it’s an arcane and insanely technical process you’ve got no chance of mastering.

 

Let me clear that one up for you: SEO is not the most technical process in the world. True, there’s a lot involved. There’s a learning curve. There’s plenty of material out there you’ll need to study, and it’s important to keep updated on important changes to search engine algorithms.

 

But let me promise you this: with time, effort, and a little guidance, you can learn how to do SEO on your own.

 

Last of all: some people might have given you the idea that SEO is a quick fix.

 

It’s not. Sometimes it can take a few days for a new page to start ranking for the keywords you’ve picked. Sometimes something goes wrong, and it doesn’t happen for you at all.

 

That’s why I want to make this clear: the best way to make SEO work for you is to use it as part of a solid content marketing strategy. But more on that later.

 

For now, let’s get to what SEO can do for you.

 

How SEO Strategy Development Can Help You

The bottom line is this: good SEO can drive sales.

 

How can it drive sales? Well, thanks for asking!

 

Good SEO is about more than just driving traffic to your site. It’s about driving the right traffic.

 

I’ll get into this more in-depth later on, but let me put it this way: if you’re selling refrigerators, would you rather be in the first page of results when people search for “refrigerators,” or when people search for “where can I buy a refrigerator?”

 

Before you answer that, let me draw your attention to a few things, okay?

 

Now, I don’t have the numbers on this, but I’ve got a hunch that “refrigerators” gets a lot more searches than the other one. That’s one point in favor of “refrigerators,” right?

 

Wrong.

 

Here’s the thing about high-volume keywords like that: they can get thousands, or even millions of searches per month. And what does that mean?

 

That means Wal-Mart and all the other huge department stores have already shelled out huge amounts of green to be able to rank on page one. The competition is fierce. Even if you could win out, it might take months or years.

 

It’s not sounding so good right now, is it? And that’s not the worst of it, either.

 

Why not? The simple fact is this: there could be any number of reasons why someone would do a search for “refrigerators.”

 

Maybe they’re looking for a picture.

 

Maybe they want to know how they work.

 

Maybe they’re just wondering if Wal-Mart really does come up in the number one spot.

 

The point is: it’s hard to win on an open-ended keyword like that, and it’s very likely that the users who make the search aren’t currently interested in buying your product.

 

So what’s the trick? You’ve got to find keywords with less competition and more user interest in buying.

 

That’s what SEO strategy development is all about, and that’s why choosing keywords is so important. As you read along, we’ll get into more detail about that in Part Two.

 

Part Two: Putting Your Strategy Together

Like anything else worth doing, good SEO strategy development starts with setting the right goals. Without clear, measurable goals, you’re sure to end up confused and chasing after the wrong things, right?

 

When you’re running your business, do you set goals and then figure out what you’re going to do to reach them, or do you just muddle through what you’re doing with no long-term structure at all?

 

Of course you figure out the goals first!

 

In anything I do in life, I set a clear goal and I learn exactly what I’m going to do to make it happen. I learn how I’m going to measure my success, and I learn what benefits I’ll get from it.

 

Putting together a winning SEO strategy is the no different.

 

So: what results are you looking for with your SEO strategy?

 

Are you trying to increase traffic to your site? Are you trying to increase sales and conversion rates? Or are you trying to improve the levels of engagement with your content marketing campaigns?

 

Different goals mean different ways of solving the problem. For example, if you’re only trying to increase traffic, you won’t be as interested in targeting keywords that focus on buying. Make sense? Good.

 

When you have different goals, you’ll calculate your return on investment in different ways.

 

If you’re driving sales, you’ll measure ROI straightforwardly: you’re interested in revenue per dollar spent.

 

If you’re looking for increases in traffic, you’ll measure in visitors per dollar spent.

 

If you’re looking for increased visitor engagement, you’ll measure in comments or shares per dollar spent.

 

The best part is, these figures will increase over time.

 

How’s that? Well, with services like Salesforce and Google analytics, it’s easy to tell which parts of your SEO marketing campaign are working, and which ones aren’t pulling their weight. And that means you can constantly calibrate your approach to make an ever more valuable tool in SEO strategy development.

 

Where the Magic Happens: Selecting Keywords

See? I promised you I’d come back to talking about keywords. If you’re getting the impression that keywords are an important part of SEO strategy development, you’re absolutely right.

 

A good keyword can win you massive traffic, and a bad keyword can leave you stuck without traffic, without visitors, and without a hope in the world. That’s why it’s important to choose keywords carefully. You don’t want to gamble all your time and effort on a keyword that’s “good enough.”

 

Now, I’m sure you’ve already got the idea that keywords are pretty important for SEO, so I won’t beat that dead horse, okay?

 

And you already know it’s good to pick keywords that come from people who are interested in taking action, so I won’t tell you about that either.

 

By now you’re probably wondering what I am going to tell you. Right?

 

I’m going to tell you a little about keyword research.

 

It’s extremely important to get the right keywords when you’re doing SEO marketing. If you get the wrong keywords, you get no traffic, or if you’re lucky you get the wrong traffic.

 

So you’re going to want to get to know a few solid keyword research tools. If you can figure out how to use it, you can try your luck with the Google AdWords keyword tool. (It’s free!)

 

Or, if you want to try something that’s actually pretty intuitive and gives you useful information in a way that makes sense, Moz offers a free 30-day trial on their keyword tool.

 

(I probably don’t have to tell you which one I prefer, but then again I’m in the business. If you don’t think a little functionality and ease of use are worth a little green, I guess that’s up to you.)

 

Anyways, let’s get past all the keyword work and figure out some of the other things you’ve got to do to get the best rankings.

 

Getting Integrated: Links and Building Authority

Okay: you’ve got the biggest part of your SEO strategy development over and done with. Are we finished? Not by a long shot!

 

Once you get your keywords picked out, you’re going to want to figure out how you’re going to integrate your site into the link structure of the internet.

 

If that makes absolutely no sense to you, don’t worry, I can explain.

 

Remember those web crawlers I was talking about earlier? Well, when they’re going through the web to compile their map, they’re not only concerned with the actual content of your page. They’re also looking to find out how well your site is connected to the rest of the internet.

 

Now, why do they do that? Because part of the Google algorithm tracks your site’s authority. A site that ranks highly in authority will be a site that many other sites in the same niche link to.

 

That’s pretty intuitive, isn’t it? Because if you’ve got a site that gets linked to often, that means it’s probably a site with reliable information and a thriving community of regular users. Sites like Forbes, Buzzfeed, or the Huffington Post would be examples of very high-authority sites.

 

Now, don’t worry, you’re site doesn’t need anything like that level of authority to increase your sales tremendously. All you need to do is generate a good reputation for your site. If you offer good information to people in your niche, you’ll be able to increase your authority over time.

 

But that doesn’t mean you just have to sit around and wait for authority to just happen to you.

 

You build a little authority when you link to authority sites in your articles.

 

Your SEO strategy development gains authority when you get comments on your articles, or social media shares.

 

You even add a little authority when you share your own work on social media.

 

The important takeaway here is that there are simple, everyday ways you can increase your site’s authority over time. Things like:

 

  1. Regularly linking to high-authority sites in your niche.
  2. Spreading the word on social media.
  3. Guest posting on the most high-authority sites you can get to listen to you.
  4. Building a community on your site. That means not only asking for comments, but responding to the people who reach out to you. A helpful and responsive web presence pays off in good will and authority, but (most importantly) in human relationships.

 

So now you’re pretty much done with your SEO strategy development. What happens now? Now it’s time to integrate your SEO into a larger online marketing plan.

 

How? Read along and find out.

 

Part Three: SEO and Online Marketing

Once you’re done with your SEO strategy development, it’s important to remember that SEO is only a part of your online marketing program.

 

Okay, maybe that’s not entirely accurate. I’m sure you could run a site that’s just a couple of pages of targeted keywords, and you can end up with little or no search traffic.

 

The fact is, a website alone isn’t enough. SEO strategy development alone isn’t enough. Unless it’s part of a bigger overall strategy, it’s not going to get the kinds of results you’re looking for.

 

What are your options for marketing online? Honestly, they’re nearly endless. You could try:

 

  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Paid advertising, including:
    • Social media ads
    • Search engine ads
    • Banner ads
    • Affiliate marketing
  • Cold email
  • Warm email
  • Podcasting
  • Video marketing
  • Guest posting
  • And a million other things that aren’t immediately springing to mind right now…

 

But if you’re looking at SEO strategy development, you’re best bet is going to be combining SEO with content marketing, so I’ll tell you about that in just a minute.

 

Now, what is content marketing? It’s probably a term you’ve heard before, but you’ve never actually heard somebody define it. So I’ll give it my best shot.

 

The way I see it, content marketing is a way to make the content on your website generate demand for your products and services. You can probably already figure out how you’ll turn that into SEO gold, but if you give me a chance in a little while I might be able to tell you something that surprises you.

 

Social media marketing is another great tool to combine with SEO, so I’ll tell you a little more about that further down in the section.

 

Social media marketing, just like content marketing, is all about creating demand for your products and services.

 

But we all know it’s not only about creating demand. Over and above that, it’s about building a relationship of trust with your audience and letting them know you’re someone they’ll want to work with or buy from.

 

It’s about showing them that you’re the same kind of person they are, and you’ve got the same concerns they do.

 

How do you do that? Well, follow along and I’ll show you.

 

Old Reliable: Content Marketing

What makes for good content marketing?

 

That’s simple. Good content marketing is content that’s useful for your ideal customer.

 

How do you do make content that’s useful for your customer? Well, that’s simple too: you figure out what they need, what you can do for them, and how you can show them the value you’ll give them over time.

 

And once you’ve done that, you show them how it’s done.

 

What’s that look like? Well, let’s say you’re running a B2B business, okay? Let’s say you do landscaping for large-scale properties like campsites and industrial parks. A good overall content marketing strategy would be to write about how people could do it for themselves.

 

But wait, you ask, aren’t we supposed to be drawing customers here? Why would we want to tell them how to do it?

 

Three reasons:

  1. A smart business owner knows his or her time is too valuable to spend on doing something a professional has spent years mastering.
  2. With good SEO strategy development, a how-to guide is almost guaranteed to draw more traffic to your site than a more aggressive sales pitch.
  3. Content marketing is about building trust and buying desire over time, not making an immediate hard sell.

 

Your ideal customers are smart people. They know it’s better to go to a professional than to end up with some ugly hedges outside the office window.

 

But do you want to know the best part?

 

Let me tell you: if you’re smart with your SEO strategy development, you can have it both ways. You can use content marketing to make quick sales and slower, long-term sales.

 

How? Well, you can target keywords that signal your users are ready to buy. (Remember “where can I buy a refrigerator?” from earlier? I’m talking that kind of thing.) That way, each of your content marketing pages generates a steady stream of pre-qualified prospects.

 

Good and well, you say, but how can I build those long-term relationships that lead to sales?

 

Never fear. That’s when we bring in the social media.

 

Three-in-One: Content Marketing, SEO, and Social Media Marketing

Okay: so you’ve done your SEO strategy development. You’ve worked out your keywords, and you’re letting out a stream of quality posts that are leading to some quick sales.

 

Let’s turn up the heat.

 

With social media, the best strategy for selling is to never look like you’re selling. If you look like you’re selling, you immediately get packed off and sent to the part of social media that only the spambots actually look at.

 

What does terrible social media marketing look like?

 

Well, it looks a lot like this. How often have you seen this automatic DM on Twitter:

 

Hey there,

Thanks for the follow! Since you don’t know me and we’ve never talked before, you should just go ahead and like my Facebook page, connect with me on LinkedIn, and buy all my products.

Thanks again buddy,

Marvin Fakename, CEO of Fakename Industries

 

That is the absolute worst of social media marketing. It doesn’t build trust, it doesn’t allow the customer to choose the timetable, and it doesn’t even give me any reason to think Marvin Fakename knows what he’s talking about.

 

With good social media marketing, you gradually educate your followers about your offering. You don’t rush them into anything, and you don’t apply very much pressure at all.

 

The key to good social media marketing is to keep your message consistently present for your ideal customers, so you can invite the best kind of people to take a look at your site.

 

If you’re lucky, they’ll be so wowed by what they see that they’ll immediately contact you wanting to do business. But that’s not what good social media marketing is about. What is it about, you ask?

 

Good social media marketing is about building a human relationship over time. It’s about allowing your customer to choose to act when they feel comfortable. And it’s about building a thriving community of like-minded human beings around your site.

 

When you combine SEO strategy development, content marketing, and social media marketing, you’ve got the chance to make something special.

 

You Can Do This

Well, that’s my guide to SEO strategy development. I hope you find value in it, and I hope you don’t find it too overwhelming.

 

Because I know there’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to working with SEO. The fact is, content marketing can be a nerve-wracking subject, especially if you don’t have a lot of practice with writing.

 

But the fact is, with time and dedication you can learn how to get these things to work. There’s a bit of technical know-how and research to be done, but this should give you a solid starting point for your future endeavors.

 

With good SEO strategy development, you can draw the right kind of traffic to your site. You can build great relationships with the people you’re meant to do business with. And in time, you can make a thriving business based on building human relationships, one at a time.

 

I hope I’ve managed to show you the value of SEO as a strategy, and that I’ve helped you come up with at least a few ideas as to how you could apply it to your own business.

 

As always, I hope you’ll feel comfortable to get in touch with me if you’ve got any comments or questions, and I wish the best of luck to you and your business. Thank you very much for reading.

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