Say you start a brand new e-commerce business. You’re about to write your first blog post.
Can you make it one of those “smash hit” type posts that attracts crazy amounts of customers?
I’m not going to promise you those results. Some luck is involved when content succeeds. For example, your post gets shared by a key influencer, and then a few other influencers happen to notice yourÂ content and share it themselves too.
But, you can absolutely create a stellar blog post that attracts many more customers on your first try.
The key lies in knowing what elements make content persuasive.
Here’s a few:
1. Targeting Your Customer’s Pain Points
Nothing sells better than a solution to your customer’s primary pain. That’s what your business is all about, isn’t it? Your customers have a problem. And so they’re coming to you for a solution to it. If you have, in their eyes, the best solution, they’ll buy from you.
So, your content must fill a need.
2. Your Content Should Give Your Customers a Reason to Change What They’re Doing Now
What solution do your customers currently have for their pain? Do they slap together their own hand-rigged solution? Do they rely on another competitor of yours that really only offers a cheap solution?
Your content must build the case as to why what they do now isn’t the best solution.
3. Focus on Feelings and Experiences, Not Your Product or Services
When all’s said and done, nearly every person buys because of the feelings and experiences they get from using your products and services. Let’s say you’re selling a wall mount for a flat-panel TV.
What’s the pain there? It’s going to take time. The TV could get broken by kids or pets if it stays where it is now. The instructions could be complex. And what if the wall mount isn’t strong enough to hold the TV?
So, your content could focus on how easy and simple it is to install the TV mount. Or, how it could even be fun. That’s selling the experience. And then you can talk about the feelings of safety and security your customers get because they know their expensive flat-panel TV won’t get broken. It’s nice and safe and secure on the wall up there.
4. Make it New and Different From What’s Already Available
You know how you can easily find like 10-15 content pieces on any content topic. Some refer to that as “content saturation.” So, it’s important to know what your competitors do and say on the same topic. Then, yours must be new and different.
I can practically guarantee you a healthy amount of attention online if you follow those steps with your content. Make sure you follow them if you want to get serious about earning customers from content marketing.
Considering different blog post types?
Awesome for you! Youâre starting to advance in content marketing sophistication much more than any of your competitors.
Very few, if any e-commerce SMBs, consider writing different types of blog posts. They just want to get as much information out there as possible. Or, at least thatâs the way most people think when they start content marketing.
What are the different types of posts you should have? Hereâs an overview:
1. Oldies but Goodies: How-To
âHow-toâ type content was the go-to even before content marketing erupted on the internet. Magazines and newspapers would use this type of content and rock it with results.
Your blog today is the same: it should have how-to posts to succeed.
2. Thought Leadership
Personally, I hate this term. Thatâs because thereâs no research shows âexpert contentâ results in more sales. However, I do use this term because thatâs how most businesses refer to it.
âThought leadershipâ content is okay. But I advocate for a different definition of what it is: new and different info that canât be found anywhere else. Thatâs because anything ânew and differentâ attracts more customers. Itâs just the way business and marketing works.
3. List Posts
Another standard for any content marketerâs repertoire, list posts get shared a lot. For added value, do a towering list post of 50-100 tips or resources. Thatâll shoot your shares up even further.
This one Iâve made up. The basic point is to take some form of conventional or accepted thinking out there, and then challenge it with your own opinion.
Thatâs going to attract attention because again, it taps into the idea of ânew and different.â
Donât challenge just for the sake of it. Only do it when you really believe you have a better way of thinking or doing things. Your audience will easily be able to tell the difference between these approaches.
5. Expert Roundup
Youâve seen these before: they collect the opinions of 100+ experts on a simple question. Theyâre huge because they build a lot of connections for you. Plus, they attract a ton of traffic. Naturally, you get lots of links and social shares too. Plus, your audience loves them.
A lot of work. But oh so many benefits!
6. Company Updates
Yes, you can talk about your company on your blog. Just make sure you do it on 10% of your posts or less. Get as personal as you can. Do an employee spotlight, or a department spotlight.
People want to get to know you personally online. Itâs a huge way to build strong relationships with your customers.
Those are six types of blog posts to have on your blog! Get âem on there to keep things fresh and interestingâŚand watch the interest and sales roll in.
Technical SEO, which refers to things like interlinking, outbound linking, URL structure, keyword optimization, website load time, and many other things still forms an essential part of SEO here in 2016. But as you know, content is the way to get the real SEO benefits these days.
And though Matt Cutts and Google whacked guest posting in 2014, they did it to low-quality, spammy blog posts. If you contribute to high-quality blogs here in 2016, that’s still some good inbound SEO you can get.
But everyone else know this too…so how do you get published on the big-name blogs over all the competition?
It’s not as hard as you think. Some tips for making it happen:
1. Have a New/Original Idea or Angle
The majority of blogs today get the same ideas pitched over and over again. Bookmark the major blogs in your niche. Visit them every week. Study them carefully.
Find an entirely new idea to present (hard), or take a unique angle on a well-known idea.
2. Know Where to Spend Your Time Publishing
When you guest blog, you don’t want to do it just for the link. Ever. You want to be on blogs with high visibility. Check their social shares to see that they at least get a few hundred per post.
If they don’t show you the numbers, use BuzzSumo’s free Chrome Extension to check.
3. Make it Useful/Actionable
B2B people love new insights they can put to use to improve their business lives. And so do B2C people in their personal lives.
Whatever you write should be easy for your audience to put to use.
4. On Pitching…
If you have a truly new idea or angle, pitching isn’t that hard. The first line of your e-mail pitch should be “I have a new guest blog idea you don’t have on your blog.”
That gets interest immediately. You should also note that you get the blog’s rules by basically restating the major ones.
With the right pitch, you don’t even need a single guest blog post anywhere else to get published.
5. If You Don’t Get Accepted
Don’t worry too much. Big blogs are busy, getting harassed by many other writers. Follow up a handful of times. Consider following up by phone (no one does that these days) if possible. Like and share their content on your favorite social networks.
Do it for a few weeks, and then move on.
Once you land a spot or two on major blogs, getting published other places gets much easier. For your information, also know that some big blogs, like Huffington Post, don’t get much respect because they take literally anything. So, try to focus on industry blogs that get you in front of your target niche audience.
Do you know how to persuade with content?
In 2014, 5 exabytes of content were created each day. That’s the same amount of content made from the dawn of civilization until 2003!
To put that in further perspective, there are 1 billion gigabytes in one exabyte. So there’s clearly a lot of content out there.
How do you stand out from all the content clamoring for attention? Fortunately, it’s easier than you think.
That’s because a lot of content is “me too” content. It offers no real value. Or it says the same things said a billion other times.
Here’s how you can be more persuasive with your content:
1. It All Subtly Positions You as the “Go-To” Solution
Many people say it’s flat-out wrong to sell with content. They’re only half right.
True, content should not sell overtly. For example, saying,”Our company’s products are better because…” wouldn’t be something you do in content.
But to persuade with it, you would say something like,”Having a lightweight razor blade means you get a faster shave. Less raw materials are used, which means you cause less damage to the environment.”
There’s no overt sales pitch in that. But, of course you sell those razor blades.
See how it comes across more subtly?
That’s how you persuade and earn sales with content.
2. Show, Don’t Tell – AKA “Educate”
You hear from all the content fanatics that you need to “educate your audience.”
True. But, you need to do it in a certain way to be effective.
Going back to the razor blades, you should tell your customers that being lightweight means less damage to the environment. To show that, you need to have an example.
You might show customers how much less aluminum is used in your razor blades versus the typical one. Then, you’ll calculate how many razor blades the average person uses during the year. And you provide a reasonable estimate of how much lesser their carbon footprint is.
It builds a ton of credibility that what you say is true.
3. Create New Information
In any niche, few things persuade more than new information. After creating content for some time, you’ll identify some new ideas.
Don’t be afraid to share them! Potential customers flock to that.
Content bloat is only getting worse. So the more you can come up with new and interesting information, the more attention you’ll attract.
Don’t listen to those who say content shouldn’t persuade. Really, digital content is just a new marketing tactic on steroids.
Content must persuade. Otherwise, there’s no sense in making it. It’s just that it persuades in a subtler way than other forms of marketing and advertising.
Of all the different advertising methods available, writing a guest blog post is one of the most effective.
â˘ You get instant credibility and authority because someone else with that authority already endorses you
â˘ It gets easier to earn additional exposure because you’ve done it once already
â˘ To get published, you don’t necessarily need any sort of built-up reputation in the first place
But what makes one guest post much more effective than another?
Here’s a basic procedure on how to do that with Â your next guest blog post:
1. Research the Blogs You Intend to Post On
First, have a clear idea of who your customer is. Make sure you approachÂ blogs who speak to people who would be your target customer.
Small-time blogs, with just a few followers, will accept just about any guest post. That’s not where you want to be. You’ll get some SEO juice out of it. That’s about it. And in the long run, that’s a waste of your time.
What you’re looking for is blogs with posts that get hundreds of social shares per post. That means they have an active audience.
2. Understand Which Types of Posts Work
Different blog audiences response positively to different kinds of blog posts. After you identify some blogs, find the top 10 posts for each that get the most social shares.
See what you notice those posts have in common for topic type and how they structure their content. It’s important to observe every detail.
3. Identify Your Own Topic
Popular blogs like posts that expand on topics they’ve already written about. You could also:
â˘ Respectfully disagree with the points made in another post
â˘ Identify a “blind spot” topic you know their audience would love, but that hasn’t been covered in-depth yet
â˘ Refute commonly held beliefs you know to be misunderstandings in your niche
â˘ Provide a massive list of useful resources
4. Put Your Heart and Soul Into Your Post
Remember, an average guest post at a big-time blog with hundreds of social shares can do wonders for growing your business.
But why be average?
You want to grow your business as much possible as fast as you can. So put every last bit of energy and creativity that you have into your post.
I’m not joking when I say you might put 10-20 hours into researching blogs, contacting them, and writing your post.
But don’t worry about the time you put in. Your business will reap all sorts of dividends from your post. And those dividends will likely last as long as the blog you posted on stays online…or as long as you stay in business.
Your post will eventually get indexed by Google, and that will continue to drive traffic your way for years to come.
So here’s to your success with guest posting in 2016!
Why does one website seem to get all the shares, comments, and attention, while the other struggles to even get just a single comment?
Many reasons. And one big one is because some websites know how to identify more interesting topics for their visitors than others.
What techniques do they use?
I don’t know ’em all, but here’s some you can use to find spot-on topics that win interest and more sales:
1. What Questions Do Your Customers Ask Over and Over?
You can actually get a couple of pieces of content out of this. Short, simple, and sweet answers can go in your FAQ.
In-depth answers can go in your blog posts.
If it’s a question almost every new customer asks, that may be an idea for a special report you give your customers in exchange for joining your newsletter list.
You could even do video answers to their questions. Regardless of the form of content you choose, questions customers ask are always great content ideas.
2. Subscribe to Your Competitor’s Newsletters
…But not just any competitor. You have to be relatively sure that the content ideas they create are actually engaging.
Simply look at their content and see how many social shares and comments they get. High numbers are a sure sign of great topics.
3. Quora, Yahoo Answers
Go to either of these websites and enter in a search term you think your users would search on. All sorts of questions come up.
4. Niche Forums
Regardless of the product you sell, there is an online forum for it somewhere. Join the forum. See what questions users are asking.
These make particularly good questions because people that come to forums and ask questions are very knowledgeable and committed to that niche.
When you write the post, make sure you post the answer to the person that asked the question so everyone can see how helpful you are.
5. Industry-Leading Publications
In your niche, you know of 3-5 great resources that publish so much content you’ll never be able to keep up with it all. These “thought leaders” have skilled and experienced editors who know how to pick topics that will engage their audience.
Write on some of the same topics – but take your own unique angle.
6. Check out Amazon’s “Top Industry” Book List for Your Niche
Because of its popularity, Amazon is becoming one of the best mini search-engines for content ideas. Check out the top books sold for your niche, and write a blog post, or whole series of blog posts, on them.
7. Customer Reviews
They’re no longer optional to any website. So find a big site in your niche, and read their reviews. See what people mention over and over again.
Write blog posts on those aspects of their reviews.
Good content ideas are in limitless supply no matter where you look. And now you know how to do that.
So it’s time to head off, start engaging, and start earning more sales!
Ahh SEO…it gets more complex with each passing year.
Or does it?
In some respects it does seem to get more complicated. But you can actually stick with certain fundamentals over time that’ll keep you in pretty good shape.
Here’s what to do to get and keep high rankings:
1. Find Low-Competition, High-Converting Keywords
Of all these tips, this is the hardest and most critical to pull off. Optimize for the wrong keywords, and you struggle to convert. Optimize for the right ones, and the sales roll in over and over again for years.
So how do you find the “right” keywords?
Use keyword research tactics few other people use:
â˘ Browse the social media profiles of your target market to see what words they use to talk about products you sell
â˘ Insert your competitor’s landing page into Google’s keyword tool to find keyword ideas
â˘ Manually type keywords into Google, and look at the blue titles for each page. Ones that are not optimized with your specific keywords will be easier to knock off.
â˘ Run a quick PPC campaign first on each keyword to see how they convert
Remember, most people just enter their desired keywords into Google Adwords to find ideas. So if you do it that way, you’ll get the most competition.
2. How to Optimize Each Page
This isn’t hard to do, despite what you might hear out there. Each page should have a “head term,” a primary phrase you’re targeting.
You should get the head term in the page’s URL, search title, the meta description, the on-page H1 tag, and maybe another place or two in the text. You can add another 1-2 close variations of that head term throughout the text to add relevancy and rankings for those.
3. Images Can Give You a Nice Little Edge
Your e-commerce store should be loaded with images. Each image should have a descriptive “ALT” tag. Mention just 1 keyword in there, along with an accurate description of what the image is all about.
Google knows if you’re stuffing your image ALT tags with keywords, and it’ll dock you as a result.
4. Content, Content, and More Content
The #1 rule of content: be more useful than anyone else in your niche. That gives them reason to pay attention to you and not them.
After you’ve written an incredibly useful piece of content, go back and optimize it with 1 keyword or keyphrase about every 500 words.
You don’t have to publish a lot. 1000 words per week or so will do. But you do have to be consistent.
Otherwise, Google stops caring about you.
SEO’s Simple, But It Sure Ain’t Easy!
SEO is fairly straightforward. But it’s not an easy thing to do repeatedly over time. You may have to hire help to take care of some of the gruntwork for you.
But if you keep at it, and you keep aiming to please your visitors, you’ll do just fine.
According to Worldometer, right now at the time of this writing (11:24 AM Eastern Standard Time), almost 1.8 million blog posts have been published.
So say that number ends up at about 2 million at noon. With 12 hours left in the day, simple math says that comes to about 4 million blog posts in 24 hours.
You probably knew an insane amount of content gets published daily.
But did you know it was that much?
I didn’t until I did that research.
Many questions naturally arise. One of them is: how do you make content marketing actually work so you get exposure and results from it?
That’s a topic entire companies have been built around.
So I’ll do my best to make it quick and simple for ya:
1. Make Sure Each Piece of Content Has a Goal
You shouldn’t write more content just to “keep your ranking in Google.” That’s the first step of any kind of content marketing – so view it as a start.
You can get so much more value out of your content by writing it with a goal in mind. So simple goals might be:
â˘ Writing landing pages so you make more sales now
â˘ Creating a blog post that logically pushes your web visitors to subscribe to your list
â˘ Crafting a special report that informs your customers about a new problem arising that your products solve
2. Aim to be the Most Helpful Resource in Your Niche
You remember those 4 million blog posts from before? Most – and this is no joke – most of them suffer from the same old problem:
Most content tells you what to do, but doesn’t show you what to do
As an example, most blog posts tell the readers to do obvious things, like this:
“Be careful when turning a light switch off without a cover plate”
Because your readersÂ already know to do that, they just skim over the content and don’t really read any of it. And they do the worst thing possible they can: they leave your website with no special memory of it.
Instead, your content should be like this:
“Don’t turn a light switch off without a cover plate. If you stick your fingers in the outlet box, you’ll get electrocuted. It’ll be painful. And it won’t be fun. And you could end up taking a trip to the ER.
Instead, find your circuit breaker and turn the power off. Then attach a plate to the switch using a Phillips screwdriver and an assembly you purchase from your local hardware store for just a couple bucks. You can even get designer switch plates (and then go on to describe the examples, and perhaps ones you sell too).”
Do you see how much more specific and helpful that is?
That’s what readers want. And if they can get it from you, it makes you different and stand out from all the rest.
That’s a huge win for your business.
Understand Those Two Points of Content, and You’ll Do Fine
That’s really all you need to start writing online content. Because most businesses don’t understand those things.
So put ’em to use, and watch your site get all sorts of organic traffic and sales, and e-mail list subscribers.
So you’ve just started your e-commerce site.
Your first problem: getting people there.
“Build it and they will come” won’t work. You have to “build it and let them know about it.”
Here’s how to get that initial traffic – without paying any money for it:
1. Online Forums Related to What You Sell
Forums are the “hidden gold” of the online marketing world. Everyone thinks they’re old and outdated.
They are old – but hundreds and thousands of people use them. Don’t make posts saying “30% off our product” or “Come buy now – just opened!”
You’ll most likely get banned from forums for spamming.
Instead, answer questions related to what you sell. Be the most in-depth answer to the question that anyone can get – anywhere.
Put a link to your site in your signature.
When it makes sense, write a whole blog post on the issue that answers the question. And post the link to that post in your reply to the question asked. Now people have a reason to come back – and keep coming back.
You can do the same on question and answer sites like Yahoo! Answers and Quora. Reddit’s also another powerhouse forum.
Some of your posts will get indexed and will rank in search. And you’ll get a nice stream of leads coming in.
The rule: the less you try to sell in your posts, and the more you try to help by solving other people’s problems (answering questions), the more you sell.
2. Earn Targeted Twitter Followers
It’s easy to get followers on Twitter. Like super easy. But it’s hard to get followers that might actually have an interest in purchasing from you at some time.
Fortunately for you, most businesses go about marketing wrong: they want to get as many followers as possible.
You, on the other hand, are smart, and focus onÂ building the relationships. You’ll get more sales in the end…and more referral sales too.
For Twitter, use Moz’s Followerwonk tool. It helps you search through profiles for specific keywords.
So if you’re a jeweler, search for “jewelry collector” or “jewelry enthusiasts.” That’s basic info. And you’ll get more keyword ideas as you do your searchers.
Follow those users. Some will follow you back.
Post useful information about jewelry, if that’s your business, (caring for it, keeping it safe, valuing it…etc) about 80% of the time. 20% of the time, add in picture posts of your products. Run the occasional promotion.
Nice, laser-targeted sales there.
3. Rank Yourself High in…Not Google…but Amazon
This is a little more time-consuming and detailed. So here’s a great guide from internet marketing thought leader Moz.
Amazon nicks you with fees, so it cuts your margins a little. But, it is exposure. And if some people search around enough, they will come from Amazon directly to your store.
4. Optimize Your Site for SEO Purposes
Notice I put this one at the end here. That’s because SEO’s super-competitive. And it’s not fast, either. You don’t have time to wait around for months to see how it works for you site.
Do it so that you get people to your site. But don’t make it your priority marketing method unless you have lots of time and money.
5. Whatever You Do, Don’t Focus on Numbers
“I have 10,000 Twitter followers.” The minute you hear someone make that statement, laugh to yourself.
Or, ask,”Who are those followers? Are they interested in your products?”
Numbers don’t mean anything in marketing. The only number that matters is sales.
A Twitter account with 500 targeted followers can be more valuable than one with 50,000 followers. And refrain from the temptation to buy followers (you can do it cheaply).
All they are is numbers. They’ll never buy. And, you’ll have more people who’ll never buy seeing your posts.
Not worth your time.
So Those are Free Ways to Hack Your Traffic!
That’s all you need to do to grow your traffic at the start. Get your e-mail list up right away too so you can make repeat sales to good customers.
And once the cash is flowing, start running PPC ads.
It’s a good no/low-cost way to get off the ground.
You’re staring at a blank WordPress screen for the tenth hour today.
And still no good ideas pop into your mind!
You’re exhausted. Your fingers hurt. Your mind’s numb.
But somehow, you’re supposed to find something interesting to write about.
It’s easier than you think!
So relax, I got you covered.
Try these simple ways to find content ideas:
1. Enter Your Keywords into Buzzsumo
Buzzsumo helps you identify the most popular topics on the web for any keyword. All you have to do is enter in the keyword, and then a list of the posts with the most social shares on the keyword comes up.
You get to see the top 10 most popular topics for free. And they give you a handful of free searches too.
There’s a free trial of the pro version also. So you get to decide whether or not you like the tool before you pay.
2. Mercilessly Steal from Your Competitors
Okay, so don’t do this literally. I don’t want you to get a letter from someone’s lawyer that demands money!
But, you get the idea. Visit your competitor’s blogs. Subscribe to their newsletters. Download their free content. Follow their social profiles.
You’ll get familiar with what works and doesn’t work in your space.
It’s certainly okay to copy your competitors ideas to write about.
But make sure you take an original angle.
You’ll avoid plagiarism. And you don’t want your visitors to find out that you stole from another source, either.
3. Your Customers Themselves
The awesome thing about the internet is that you get first-hand market research companies used to shuck outÂ big bucks for decades ago.
Even though the web is impersonal in the sense that you don’t interact with people in person as much, it’s highly personal in that you can interact with your market and understand exactly what goes on in their heads.
On your social media profiles, watch for what people ask or complain about repeatedly. Ask them questions on the phone when you do your customer service.
If one customer has an idea, it’s likely that 1000 others do too. It’s common that only one person gives you honest feedback of your business from their perspective.
4. Keep a Notepad Filled with Ideas
You can write this down on paper, or store it somewhere with your business’s most important information.
Good ideas usually don’t come to you when you set aside dedicated time trying to think about them.
They happen at random times all throughout the day.
Sometimes, they pop in Â your head out of nowhere.
Others, a specific sentence triggers them.
Write those ideas down as soon as you recognize them.
That Will Give You More than You Can Ever Write About…
Unless you plan on hiring your own content team, that’s going to give you more ideas that you can handle.