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    Landing PagesWhether you use a blog as part of your company marketing strategy or it is your only online presence, youll no doubt be looking to promote your blog as widely as possible.

    Unfortunately, much like normal websites, it is not simply a case of build and they will come there are, however, lots of ways to encourage visitors and readers, some of which are outlined in the
    52 methods of blog promotion.

    Consider Landing Pages

    Whichever ways you choose, I would encourage you to also adopt one of the key elements of successful online marketing and develop specific relevant landing pages to complement the marketing. In case you are wondering, a landing page is the page on your blog that visitors arrive at after clicking on your promotional creative, whether that is a Pay Per Click advert, email marketing link, magazine or newspaper advert or a Word of Mouth recommendation.

    You should make the page completely relevant to the keyword phrases they have been searching on in the case of Pay Per Click advertising or the subject matter of the promotion – effectively, your first goal is to reassure the reader that the page (and by implication your blog and company) really does provide what they are searching for.

    This is equally effective when you are marketing offline, perhaps in magazines or at seminars, as you can create individual landing pages which offer information which is going to be relevant to these groups – then just provide them with this URL rather than your homepage.

    What are your aims?

    A landing page needs to be focused not only on where your reader has come from but also very clearly on what you want them to do and where you want them to go as a result of reading it. There are a number of different options which are nicely summarised by Seth Godin as follows:

    • Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else’s)

    • Get a visitor to buy

    • Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration of course.

    • Get a visitor to tell a friend

    • Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback

    The information that you decide to have on each specific landing page and how you build the page will depend on what you want to achieve with it. The whole page should point to the “call to action” that you are looking to achieve, but at the same time should motivate your readers by showing them the value in it. It that means using a “giveaway” as a taster then do that too.

    Creating the Landing Page

    You could use a highly relevant single post or, more appropriately, a category page, with a specific sticky post at the top to make sure that you press home your message. Lets face it, posts on business blogs will tend to be specific and focused on a particular subject or subject area.

    However, to get the developed landing page we outlined above then ideally you should create one which is tailor made for the job. If you are using WordPress, then this is very straightforward just create a page (rather than posts) which sits outside the chronological structure of the blog and link directly to that. With other systems, you should be able to use the same functionality that you use to create your About page .

    In terms of content, try answering these questions as you create each landing page:

    • What benefit am I offering? (may be more appropriate than what service or product)

    • What specific group of people do I want to appeal to?

    • 5 reasons why they would be interested in what I have to offer?

    • What do they need to do to take the next step? (ie. subscribe, buy etc)

    It is helps, you could consider that each landing page is really a summary of all the pages covering the product or service you are offering which needs to be motivational and persuasive without being hyped.

    So to summarise – I’m not suggesting that we start to turn our business blog into purely a direct sales tool. Far from it. However, the blog is a business tool and we should use it to develop connections and new opportunities as best we can to support the marketing activities we employ to promote it and our business. Astute use of landing pages will help to achieve this.

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    I’ve been trying to slowly catch up with some back reading from the last week when I had a bit of time away from the PC; so I am now trying to catch up with some great posts sitting snugly in my RSS Reader just waiting to be discovered.

    One I felt that I had to share was from Mike Sansome over at ConverStations – in his post, Is Your blog simply marketing insurance?. He starts with such an important point and commentary all wrapped into one when he says:

    We’re hearing more about and from companies launching blogs (good news), and many are doing it because it’s the hot marketing tactic (bad news).

    Now perhaps I should focus on the fact that businesses are considering starting a blog and just be content with that – I do work as a business blog consultant after all! But, like Mike, I’m also keen that they are launched for the right reasons and not just because it’s the “latest thing”.

    The right reasons will differ from company to company but they need to be thought through and decided upon before they start. By taking that extra bit of time to plan, the blog has 10 times more chance of being a success and delivering the sort of business results that companies are looking for.

    This was actually the point I made as my contribution in Ted Demopoulos’ latest book “What no-one ever tells you about Blogging and Podcasting“. As I wrote there, I always advocate asking yourself (and answering) 3 key questions before starting a blog:

    • What is the blog looking to achieve?

    • Who is the blog aimed at?

    • What results are you looking for?

    In an ideal world, these would form the basis of a blog strategy (scary thought, I know) and at the very least they need to be considered and written down before diving headfirst into the blogging unknown.

    Blogging may be hot and may produce great results but that doesn’t come from simply installing WordPress or setting up your Typepad account. Rather it comes from the planning you do before that and the work that you put in after.

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    Blogging BooksI love bookshops, always have. There’s something about them which attracts me – I love browsing and just flicking through the books, picking out pieces that interest me – I guess that’s a little what I do when browsing blogs as well, dipping in and dipping out of ones that looking interesting and returning to them time and again. Clearly, having an RSS reader makes the job a lot simpler online!

    Anyway, during a visit to one of my favourite bookshops yesterday, I decided to check out what books on blogging were currently available here in London. My first challenge, however, was to find them. My own take on Blogs is that they are first and foremost a communications tool so the Marketing section seemed like a good starting point; but then they are also an excellent Business Development Tool, so maybe the Sales section would be more likely; alternatively, I use mine partly as a networking aid so would that be the best section to start with?

    Well, as it happened, none of them showed any sign of a blogging book. So, where did I finally find them? Well, there were two in Web Design, two in Internet for Beginners and a solitary book (Blog Marketing by Jeremy Wright) in the eCommerce section nestled among all of the books about how to make your fortune on eBay!

    I suppose that that shouldn’t really have come as a surprise. Most people’s first reaction is to view blogs simply from a technical perspective when they first come across them. The challenge is getting beyond that and being able to focus on the business applications, which is where blogs really come into their own – unfortunately, I find that many people are still stymied by the word “Blog” and their perceptions of what it means to them.

    Anyway, while still enjoyable, my trip to the bookshop didn’t yield any new purchases on this occasion. It did, however, remind me that there is still work to be done to show businesses where the real value of blogs lie and plenty of opportunities for those who catch on quickest.

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    This post is the 5th part of the series which looks at the 5 key elements of creating a successful Business Blog. These elements are:

    ReadReplyReturnRecommendRSS

    Let’s turn our attention to the fifth and final ‘R, which is:

    Communication and dissemination of information is key to achieving a successful blog and the RSS functionality is the way to achieve that. So as the 5th R, Im including is RSS.

    When someone subscribes to your RSS Feed, it means that they have shown a commitment to continuing the interaction they are interested in receiving more information from you and you are now able to provide them with immediate and unobtrusive updates from your blog.

    RSS is definitely “Opt-in”
    Being completely “opt-in”, it is also a totally safe method for readers to receive information, after all it is anonymous and they can opt out whenever they wish. This may sound unappealing from a writer’s perspective but all this in fact means is that the onus is on us to create content that people are going to want to read. RSS is the perfect way to deliver it safely.

    Make the RSS Feeds easy to find
    You want to make sure that the RSS feeds are prominent on your blog to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find. The generic orange logo is now becoming more and more commonplace although even more sites still retain the orange box with RSS or XML in it. You can also add a series of small logos which are set up with the names of the main RSS Readers to help make the process easier and more visible – this is great as it can help people feel more comfortable about subscribing.

    Offer RSS by email too
    To cover all options, you should also make use of the 3rd party services such as Feedblitzwhich give people the ability to subscribe to the RSS feed by email not quite the way that RSS was intended to be delivered but the main point is delivering the content it contains to those who want to receive it. In any case, the take up of RSS, which has been steady but still relatively slow, is likely to increase dramatically as it is incorporated directly into the main browsers this year.

    Explain RSS and how great it is to use
    To help the take up levels, create a page which explains what RSS is and what RSS Readers are available this may not seem necessary, but if it helps to break down the barriers to its use then it is worthwhile and both you and your readers will benefit from this additional effort because they will receive your content as and when you post it.

    Customise your RSS Feed
    You should look to customise your feed where possible to include branding elements such as your logo and have the feed appear as you would like it to. Differentiate yourself in your feed. However, if you are not proficient in XML, then don’t worry. If you use the tools available from a company such as Feedburner then you can easily do this at the click of a button – you may also find my post Feedburner: using your RSS feed more effectively useful in this context.

    Wider syndication
    Although RSS Feeds are generally read in individual’s browsers, the syndication of this information doesn’t need to stop there. RSS Feeds can also be taken and displayed on websites elsewhere using software which turns the feed into text which is visible in a browser – this allows you to syndicate and spread the information from your Blog even more widely.

    Target more with multiple RSS Feeds
    As your blog develops, you should consider creating a separate RSS Feed for individual topics, probably divided according to the categories you have set up. This will allow your readers even greater choice in terms of the information they receive from you and in terms of giving your readers what they want, more choice is going to be better.

    But whether you work from a single RSS feed or develop multiple feeds, it is important that you make RSS a central part of your blog promotion and reader retention program. It is something which underpins the other elements and allows the Business Blog to reach its full potential by making the information we produce as widely available as possible.

    Key elements: explain benefits of RSS, make RSS easy to subscribe to, customise your RSS feed, push the use of RSS, use multiple RSS Feeds where appropriate, syndication of information

    So remember, we are looking to cover these 5 elements:

    ReadReplyReturnRecommendRSS

    If we can achieve each of these 5Rs successfully in our Business Blogging, then we are well on the way to creating a Business Blog which will achieve the goals that we set for it, whether they are focused on creating a network, improving our reputation or positioning, developing a solid base of subscribers, increasing our Search Engine Rankings or simply generating new business.

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    5. 5 ‘R’s of Business Blogging – a Summary

    Business blogs are an excellent business marketing tool for consultants. In fact, consultants and professional service providers are one of the best placed groups to capitalise on the key marketing and business development benefits that blogs can offer.

    As blogs can be both quickly and easily updated, and because they are inherently interactive, they provide the perfect opportunity to both display expertise and initiate a relationship with clients. The additional benefits such as a more prominent profile with Search Engines is a clearly a plus but the ability to show what you can do, and the knowledge and experience that you can bring to a project are critical.

    Looking at it from an overall business perspective, some of the main benefits that can be achieved through business blogs are:

    • Create a human face for your business: consultancy in its various guises can be very impersonal. What you know is clearly important, but who you are and your personality are also key to a successful customer relationship, as well as being critical branding elements and business tools for your business – so USE them!
    • Educational Marketing approach: use the content of your blog to show your potential customers about what you can do as well as inform them about developments and best practice in the area that you work in. This is a much more powerful approach than traditional direct selling methods and it will help to build better relationships with your marketplace and give you a positive “trusted partner” image.
    • Demonstrate your Expertise: as a consultant, gaining recognition as an expert in a certain field and being able to demonstrate real credibility is hugely beneficial. A blog can act as a shop window to these skills and is doubly effective if it is THE place to go for information in a specific niche. Using the internet for research, potential customers will certainly find the information they are looking for – so make sure that they find it on YOUR blog!
    • Interact with your marketplace: give a tangible feel to the services you offer and the benefits they provide by letting people interact with you by commenting on your articles, case studies or news releases;
    • Knowledge Leadership: when people are interested in what you are writing about, they will want to hear more and recommend you to others. By expressing your ideas and thoughts openly you will encourage this and help position yourself as a leading exponent in your field.

    There is still a reticence on the part of companies and individuals alike to open up and share more about what they can do – they prefer to keep that under wraps until a contract is signed or reveal parts only behind closed doors.

    In today’s environment where information is readily available, unless a consultant brings something totally proprietary then there will be many others in the marketplace offering the same. To ensure that customers find you first, it is critical to broadcast the knowledge you have – the greater the level of quality information that you share, the greater the chance of being found and taken on.

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    Whenever I give a talk on what is a Business Blog and how to use it as a marketing tool, I can guarantee that someone will ask me what the difference is between the type of Business Blog that we are discussing and a personal blog.

    While the technology is the same, they are in fact very different beasts simply because of their focus and aims. The personal blog came first and gave people the ability to voice their opinion to the world in general using the internet. It was a personal publishing system in the form of an online diary where they could express themselves in whatever way they saw fit about whatever they wanted!

    The main point is that the blog could be about anything and everything … and it usually was. The subject matter was therefore diverse and the topics covered were often unrelated – people would post about things as the mood took them.

    Business Blogs developed from this. They use the same technology but are very targeted in terms of their subject matter and focus on a specific market area or niche. The most successful are set up with both an audience and a business focus in mind which they then stick to. Why? Because the audience they are looking to reach will expect it – that is why they were attracted to it in the first place and that is why they will return and recommend the blog to others.

    In addition, with the arrival of Search Engines as THE research tool, this focus proved to be doubly beneficial for a Business Blog owner. The tighter the focus of the content, then the more likely it is to be keyword rich and so gain the type of Search Engine results that would make an SEO expert weep! A well set-up Business Blog has a structure which just adds further weight to this.

    So to summarise: a Business Blog and a personal blog both use the same technology, but it is what they do with that technology that differentiates them. A personal blog will tend to be wide ranging and, well, very personal; a Business Blog will be much more focused in both its content and aims, and will have generally have a specific audience in mind.

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