KEVIN CARLOW

Paid Media Consultant for Growth-Focused Business

Category: Digital Marketing

In Our Tune-Out World, How to Get Your Audience to Tune-In

Over lunch one of my colleagues commented on my newly formed habit of bringing salads every day. “The healthy bug seems to have gotten you,” she noted. “What gives?”

I realized there was not one event, but a triangulation of things that lead to my new passion for midday nutrition. The New Year’s Resolution spirit, a recent family trip to Costa Rica, and writing out my 10 goals for 2019 all played a contributing factor. She said, “I wish my kids were ready to hear that message. They are busy and still eat out all the time. I wish they were ready to decide for themselves to eat healthy.”

That concept, of being ready to take in a message, stuck with me.

We live in a tune-out world. There is so. Much. Noise. We see hundreds of ads per day. We only take in about 12. Our brains are being trained to tune out the noise.

“Buy a new 2019 Chevy Silverado” commercial on TV? I already own a car. It’s paid off. And it’s not a truck. TUNE-OUT.

“Always Coca-Cola” billboard as I drive to work? I’m trying to listen to the news right now. And high fructose corn syrup is B.S. TUNE-OUT.

“21-day Yoga Shred for Men” app download on Instagram? I already have 10 workout apps on my phone collecting electronic dust. I don’t need an eleventh one. TUNE. ME. OUT!

There comes a time, however, when we do become ready to receive a message, to internalize it and make it our own. Perhaps we enter a new life stage. Perhaps someone we admire influences us. Suddenly, the noise becomes important. These attention swings have huge marketing implications.

 

 

1.      The need for frequency. Why is the Rule of 7 a thing? Partly because your message needs to rise above the clutter in our tune-out world and get noticed. But also partly because the first 6 times someone sees your message, they might not be ready for it, especially for longer purchasing decisions like buying a vehicle, buying a home, getting an elective medical procedure, or vetting financial planners. Consistency in your marketing is what will keep you top of mind so that when that customer finally is at the stage of life to hear and internalize your message, it’s available for them to digest.

 

tuned in

 

2.      Getting your audience from Tune-Out to Tune-In. Sticking with the car buying example… at any given time, 4% of people are actively looking to buy a vehicle. They are reading consumer reviews, browsing online inventory, and eventually visiting 1-2 dealerships. Automotive messaging will resonate with these 4%, as they are in the market and their minds are open to this information. What about the other 96%? Is it pointless to market to them? What can auto companies and dealerships do to get these 96% into the market? Can this be influenced? I believe it can, through one thing: Inspiration. I’ll be expanding on inspiration in a future writing.

 

 

3.      Getting a tuned-in consumer to act. A consumer is (finally) ready for your message. You’re targeting them and they’re seeing it. Now what? A strong call-to-action is a critical piece of any marketing piece with the goal of generating a lead or a sale, but can you do better than, “Buy Now” or “Learn More” or “Schedule a Free Consultation Today?” You can. Consider the consumer’s journey to becoming ready to tune in to your message and shape your call-to-action messaging to them. If you sell minivans, your customers have young kids. What do parents of young kids struggle with? Lack of sleep, extra expenses, evaporating free time, stress of keeping their children safe. Telling a story in your messaging using these frames will make your message to the tuned-in parents get them from their mobile to the dealership.

 

What messages have you recently been ready to take in? What can your business do to inspire great prospects to tune into your message? When they do tune in, what are your best practices to get them to act?

Nearly Half of Your Customers Leave Your Website After Three Seconds

Everyone knows mobile is not only the future, it’s right here and now, as over half of all website traffic on the internet is from a mobile device. Despite this, mobile is still in its infancy in some ways, as mobile sites lag behind desktop sites in crucial metrics such as average time on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate.

For retailers, this can be especially costly since 30% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones. The average US retail mobile site loaded in 6.9 seconds in July 2016, but according to the most recent data, 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. And 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance are less likely to purchase from the same site again.

In other words, this:
mobile waiting

Leads to this:

mobile anger.jpg

Simplicity is key on mobile. You have lots of great things to say and to show your customers, but if they’re on a mobile device, they don’t care. They want a frictionless experience with as few clicks and clunks to get from your home page to their purchase as possible.

To learn more about mobile from Google, click here.

Facebook Now Ranks Friends Higher Than Businesses

On June 29, 2016 the USA Today reported “Facebook is tweaking its algorithm to show you more of your friends’ posts rather than posts from publishers.” Link: usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/06/29/facebook-limit-posts-pages-news-feed/86512200

First, let’s take a moment to review Facebook’s current algorithm, which looks something like this:

facebook-news-feed-edgerank-algorithm

What this new update suggests is that the “C” part of this equation – the Creator – is now going to receive more positive weight if the Creator is your friend or family member, and more negative weight if the Creator is a business, celebrity, or other non-friend Page.

This has big implications for any business paying to Boost its posts or running a Facebook Ads campaign. The update means a business will have to be more creative, more interesting, more engaging, and participate in more social conversations in order to get noticed. Oh yeah, and it will cost more.

Just how much more is yet to be determined. Facebook Ads have been one of the most affordable and effective options for targeted digital advertising in the last three years. Since we all share so much of our lives with Facebook (age, gender, location, interests, marital status, life events, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), the ability for a business to laser-focus on a specific audience on Facebook’s platform is truly unique. On a cost-per-click basis, Facebook Ads have been a fraction of the cost of a Google Search ad (we’re talking pennies per click vs. dollars per click).

The choice by Facebook to rank your friends’ posts higher than a publisher’s post in your News Feed is an attempt to keep its 1.65 billion users engaged with the content they prefer and to further leverage its advertising platform by forcing advertisers to be more compelling with their messages and more aggressive with their monthly budgets.

Want to read more about the latest on Facebook for business?

Platitudes Won’t Change Their Attitude

Platitudes are words or phrases that have become so commonplace they lack any significance, meaning, or power. These are some of the trending platitudes in today’s marketplace.

  • Robust – unless you are discussing the blend of coffee you just purchased from Caribou, no one knows what you mean by your “robust idea to gain market share.”
  • Holistic – are we talking about a well-rounded business plan or about acupuncture and herbal remedies?
  • Granular – this is how to describe the grains of sand on your favorite beach, not to explain how the level of detail in your proposal.
  • Optimize – it can be hard to get away from this term if you work in digital marketing, since it’s part of the phrase “search engine optimization.” Consider some alternatives like enhance, sharpen, and refine to liven up your lingo.
  • Leverage – we get it, you want to sound smart by using big words. Just say “use” and make everyone’s life easier by getting to the point.
    • If you’ve never heard George Carlin’s bit on “shell shock” and how our language is devolving over time, watch this: https://youtu.be/vuEQixrBKCc.
george carlin

“In the first World War, that condition was called… Shell Shock.”

Whether you are working on a new website post, putting together a direct mail piece, or scripting your next advertisement, avoid these overused terms and use plain language to most effectively get your message across.

Sources

Five Easy Ways to Improve Your Company Blog

Most businesses today understand the need for content marketing. Running a company blog is one of the easiest ways to get your message out to the world and boost your SEO. Many companies outsource this function to a third party in order to focus on their core competencies. Whether you have outside help for your company blog, or you have an internal employee managing here, there are five major pitfalls many bloggers fall in to which hinder the impact of the effort.

This article is so on-point and well-cited with perfect examples, I am just going to share it with you verbatim. Credit to Jodi Harris of the Content Marketing Institute.

Full article here: http://bit.ly/1pF55iM

Problem 1: You aren’t publishing on a consistent schedule

Great blog content should be like an eagerly anticipated gift you offer to your readers – they look forward to every new delivery and are happy to visit your site to retrieve your content as soon as it is available. But what happens when they arrive and the gift they were expecting hasn’t shown up? If you can’t keep the content engines churning or fail to deliver on the expectations you set with your blog, those readers will walk away disappointed – and may think twice about returning.

Warning signs: Consistency issues typically result from one of these two underlying problems:

  • Lack of editorial infrastructure: You haven’t set a workable schedule for creating and publishing your content or established the necessary workflow that would govern your process.
  • Lack of resources: You need more writers or more creative ideas; or you are running into productivity problems that are keeping your team from being able to bring your ideas to fruition.

Potential solutions:

  • Develop an editorial calendar: Establishing a schedule of topics you will cover and the timeline for doing so can help you set realistic expectations and keep your content creation in line with your marketing goals. These editorial calendar essentials will help get you started.
  • Brainstorm ideas to fill your content calendar: Brainstorming techniques, like this super-simple sticky-note approach, can help you break out of any creative slumps that might be derailing your content production,
  • Enlist the help of your team members for content creation: Your executives, team members, and even colleagues outside of the marketing department can be motivated to help increase your content coffers. Use these tips to make content creation a benefit – not a burden – for your fellow employees.

 

Problem 2: Your blog content isn’t unique or distinct

For your content to stand out among the competition, it needs to offer distinctive value – providing information your readers can’t get anywhere else, serving a segment of your audience no one else is addressing, or delivering on promises your brand is uniquely qualified to make.

Warning signs: If you aren’t giving your audience a compelling reason to choose your content over everything else they could be spending time with, your blog will never reach its full marketing potential. Here are some sure signs your content is going to fade into the background:

  • You don’t know what makes your brand special: You need to identify the specific ways your business is different than everyone else’s before you can create content that communicates with a signature tone, voice, or style.
  • You are targeting too broad an audience: As CMI founder Joe Pulizzi often says, if your content is meant for everybody, it won’t benefit anybody.

Potential solutions:

  • Craft your editorial mission statement: This sets the tone for all your content creation efforts by defining your unique perspective on your industry and outlining the value proposition your blog content will offer.
  • Find a new niche: If you don’t believe you can be the leading information provider in your chosen content niche, you haven’t drilled down deeply enough to find the right angle – for your blog or any other content your business offers. Struggling to find your footing? Try following Joe’s advice for creating a content tilt.
  • Get creative with your approach: Sometimes the power of a blog isn’t rooted in what you say but rather in how you say it. Look for opportunities to take your blog readers down an unexpected path, approach topics from a unique angle, or explore special interests that your brand and its fans may have in common. Check out these75 examples for a little inspiration on taking content in a novel direction.

Best practice example: Saddleback Leather

saddleback-leather-blog-story

Problem 3: Your blog is all about you – not your audience and their needs

Warning signs: Ever meet someone at a party who goes on and on about himself, without showing any interest in the people he’s talking to? If your brand is “that guy,” your readers will eventually grow tired of not being heard and look for any excuse to leave the conversation – for good.

Potential solutions:

  • Highlight ways readers can get involved in your brand, and recognize them for their efforts: Don’t just say you are interested in your readers – prove that you value their participation and feedback by responding to their comments, creating opportunities for them to contribute their ideas, and rewarding them for helping you spread the word about your business.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of their needs by addressing common pain points and providing relief: Create content with tangible value such as tips, templates, and toolkits; answer your customers’ questions; or give your audience access to other real-world solutions that will enable them to accomplish their tasks more quickly and more effectively, with your brand at the top of their minds.

Best practice example: Clean My Space

clean my space blog

Problem 4: Your content has a short shelf life or limited reach

Content can be the gift that keeps on giving – for your brand, as well as for the consumers who love it. But for this to happen, you need to know how to squeeze as much value as you can from every piece of content you create and get it into the hands of as many interested readers as possible.

Warning signs: There are a few key reasons why your blog content might be withering on the vine instead of spreading its seeds far and wide:

  • Your aren’t producing evergreen content: Trend- or news-focused content is great for illustrating your brand’s insights; but this type of content typically comes with a built-in expiration date, cutting off your potential for long-tail engagement.
  • You aren’t making it clear you want readers to speak on your brand’s behalf: If you aren’t making it as easy as possible for readers to share your content, you are making it harder for your influence to spread.
  • You publish, then move on: Content marketing isn’t for those lazy, “set-it-and-forget-it” types of businesses. It takes hard work before, during, and after you publish to make sure your content works hard to bring you success.

Potential solutions:

  • Use content curation techniques to refresh older posts: In addition to creating content on evergreen topics that have long-lasting relevance, you can also give your aging content a new lease on life through content curation. Try updating popular posts with more contemporary advice, linking to newer sources of information, including outside perspectives on the topic, or adding fresh visuals – like infographics or videos – to liven up the discussion. Then, republish the post, making sure to acknowledge – and link to – the original.
  • Enable the sharing behaviors you seek: Featuring sharing buttons, requests for comments, and calls to action in your blog posts signal to readers that you would like them to share their brand love, while helping you channel their assistance in the specific directions you desire.
  • Promote your content: Social media and email marketing are both must-have techniques for spreading the word about the content you’ve published. But if you want to extend your blog’s life span and expand its reach beyond your circle of influence, consider supporting your posts with paid promotional techniques like native advertising, promoted posts, and search ads.

Best practice example: The Buffer Blog

buffer social curation experiment

In late 2015, Buffer decided to eschew creating new blog posts for one month in favor of repurposing and refreshing content from its archives. Though some of its efforts were more successful than others, the experiment provided some invaluable insights on how to increase the payoff of every blog post.

Problem 5: You aren’t using your blog to build subscribers

Let’s face it: For your blog to be effective, it needs to help you achieve your business goals, not just boost your brand’s ego and pad your writers’ personal portfolios. Increasing subscriptions is a solid, measurable step in that direction given that the awareness and interest the blog generates now can be nurtured into long-term brand engagement and loyalty over time.

Warning signs: Why aren’t your blog readers signing up for more? Perhaps your content is getting caught up in one of these likely traps:

  • You aren’t directing readers down the path you want them to follow: It took your hard work to bring guests to your door – why would you just let them wander around aimlessly once they’ve arrived?
  • You aren’t making a compelling case for subscription: Sometimes readers need a little convincing to help them decide that your content is worth raising their hand for.
  • Your offerings are all-or-nothing: While a one-size-fits-all subscription might satisfy some enthusiastic brand fans, it could be a big turn-off to casual readers, or those who are already inundated with unread emails in their inboxes.

Potential solutions:

  • Include a call to action that directs site visitors to take the next step: Be clear as to what you want them to do and highlight the benefits they’ll receive in return. But remember, your ask doesn’t need to follow the same format every time. Considerthese alternatives to the traditional text-based end-of-post callout.
  • Offer an incentive to sweeten the deal: Give subscribers access to exclusive content, insider discounts, or other members-only benefits in exchange for their permission to connect with them more directly. You’ll be surprised at how much more willing readers may be to share their personal info when they feel they are getting something tangible in return.
  • Enable subscribers to customize the communications they receive: Just because a reader doesn’t want to hear from you every day, doesn’t mean she might not appreciate the opportunity to receive a monthly message, or hear about specific types of offers. By making your terms of engagement flexible and giving readers the power of choice, you’ll make the experience more comfortable, satisfying, and mutually beneficial.

Best practice example: Copyblogger

copyblogger-member-offers

In Joe’s most recent post on subscription goals, he mentions how Copyblogger Media founder Brian Clark leveraged a strong and loyal base of more than 200,000 targeted email subscribers to transform his humble blog into one of the fastest SaaS companies on the planet. Today, Copyblogger continues to grow that fan base by offering exclusive content resources to members who sign up via email.

Conclusion

Blogging may have low barriers to entry, but that doesn’t mean it’s an effortless path to content marketing effectiveness. Fortunately, a few small blogging hacks and helpers like the ones above can make a big difference in your brand’s potential for attracting, impacting, and activating your audience more successfully.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Google’s Biggest Update in 2016

Google rolled out a global update today removing the right-side paid search ads for most search queries. The update:

  • Removes ads from the right side of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP)
  • Adds a 4th ad to the top of the SERP for “highly commercial queries.”
  • Effects searches on desktop only. Mobile searches have never had ads on the right side as the screen real estate is much smaller.
  • Allows a maximum of 7 ads on the page.
  • Has one exception, Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which will continue to show at the top-right of the page.

minnetonka body shop

Much speculation is percolating as to why Google made this update, and what the downstream effects will be for advertisers. Some initial thoughts:

  • With less ads on the first page, it’s more important than ever to be at the top of Search Ads. What is your average ad position?
  • Not running a Search Advertising campaign? You should be. With 3-4 ads at the top and 3 Google Maps listings below that, your first chance at showing up organically is in the 7-8th position on Google (way “below the fold” on a mobile device). Positions 7 and 8 are earning 3-5% of clicks from the page. Is that an acceptable market share for your business?
  • Mobile is clearly the future as desktop search pages are now mimicking mobile.

 

Are You Jabbing Enough?

As we are all running about like crazy during this “season of giving,” one important piece of your marketing plan next year should be exactly that – giving.

Gary Vaynerchuk is the founder of Wine Library and VaynerMedia, both multi-million dollar businesses. He is also a best-selling author. This interview with him is super fun and ridiculously insightful: http://bit.ly/1Ppa9lB.

give pic

CLIFFS NOTES

  • His book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook uses boxing as a metaphor for how businesses should be marketing today. It’s another way of saying, “Give, give give. Then ask.”
  • Too many businesses focus on their “right hook” – their sale/offer/call-to-action. This constant noise makes the consumer duck out of the way.
  • Not enough companies focus on their “jab” – giving something small away for free. An instructional video. A useful tip. A piece of thought leadership. For every right hook you toss out there, you should be offering three jabs.
  • All social media platforms are different. And the reason an individual joins a particular social platform is different. So why are you posting the same things on Facebook that you are on Twitter and Pinterest?
  • “The DJing of content”: http://bit.ly/1Sv1ITz. These tips are LEGIT shortcuts on how to make your content creation efforts go the extra mile on Facebook (quote cards), Pinterest (infographics), Twitter (wait for alignment with trending topic), and Tumblr (animated GIFs).

Want to learn more about digital trends going into 2016? This is a short and article with seven strategies you should be thinking about, including storytelling, micro targeting, and humanization: http://bit.ly/21pLuRH.

Searches For “Businesses Near Me” Are on the Rise

Have you ever used your smartphone…

  • In line while waiting to check out at the grocery store?
  • On the couch while watching TV with a significant other?
  • Under the table at a meeting for a quick glance at a text or an email?

You have. Admit it. These moments, when we turn to our smartphones because we need something now, are called “micro-moments,” and they are a part of the new reality of consumer behavior. Google is studying these micro-moments. Closely.

This article from Google, http://bit.ly/1awkCsD, focuses on the “I-Want-To-Go Moments” we all experience. Have you ever done a search for “restaurants near me” or “closest salon?” These types of local searches are on the rise. Check out some snippets from the study.

  • “Near me” searches have increased 34x since 2011!
  • 80% of “near me” searches come from mobile (Q4 2014)
  • 50% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within a day
  • Most of these “near me” searches are generic terms like “hotels near me” rather than “Hiltons near me”

These types of searches aren’t limited to retail, either. It’s a growing trend for people to search for “jobs near me” or “remodelers near me.” These tiny moments are happening right out of consumers’ pockets every day, and some businesses are winning in these moments. Is yours?

Quantifiable Proof: TV Advertising Still Works

In the TV sales business we get asked a lot by prospective advertisers, “How am I going to measure whether or not my TV ads were successful?” This is the $64,000 question. No one, I repeat, no one has this formula down to a perfected science (otherwise they’d be running an ad agency boasting all 100 of the top 100 ad spenders in the world).

The Video Advertising Bureau, however, has just released a study which posed the question, “How is TV advertising spend correlated to company revenue growth?” They reviewed 100 big ad spenders from 2011-2014 (post-recession and a span of four years – a solid data set), and the results might surprise you.

  • 60 of the 100 companies increased TV spend from 2011 to 2014, while 40 companies decreased TV spend
  • The companies that decreased TV spend saw a 7% increase in revenue.
  • The companies that increased TV spend saw a 26% increase in revenue.

In an advertising world of “could-have-influenced” and “might-have-attributed-to,” this data is about as black and white as it gets.

 

Source: http://www.adweek.com/news/television/want-improve-your-business-revenue-buy-more-tv-ads-166041

One could argue a “correlation is not causation” argument here, which would go something like this, “the successful companies experienced growth, generating higher profits, which gave them a bigger budget to advertise.” While this may have proven true in some cases, the observation that 58 out 60 major corporations saw a positive correlation between revenue growth and TV ad spend growth is undeniable proof that TV advertising is an integral success ingredient in a large company’s marketing strategy.

Even a digital company like Zillow admits “TV advertising still works” to reach today’s consumer, and that advertising on TV “is a great way to grow the Zillow brand.” See Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff elaborate on the subject in this CNBC interview.

To Blog, or Not to Blog?

Just for a second, forget everything you know about the word “blog.” Seriously, wipe your mind clean and pretend that until this very moment, the word “blog” is foreign to you and, for all you know, could be defined as “a weapon used by extra-terrestrials to conquer planet Earth.” (Don’t worry, blogs aren’t that scary.)

Blogs have changed a lot since the first major blogging tool, Blogger, was launched back in 1999 (purchased by Google in 2003). Blogs used to be a place for writers to share opinions and experiences with their audience, plain and simple. While the core of this concept hasn’t changed, the advent of Twitter, WordPress, and countless other platforms have morphed what the blogosphere’s purpose is and how it impacts readers and businesses. I just came across an interesting article about where the world of blogging is today in The Atlantic, http://theatln.tc/1DHZ7Nc, and it’s a long, interesting read if you’re a technology geek like yours truly.

If, however, you aren’t a techno-nerd and you want to cut to the chase to know exactly if and how your company can benefit from running a blog, then this article is a must-read: http://selnd.com/1B5Bu2N. Whether your business currently has a blog being managed internally, has a blog being managed by a third party, or sees no benefit whatsoever from having a blog, this article is concisely written with concrete advice and examples of how to make a blog generate real traffic for a local business. I’ve copied the article below my signature and highlighted the important parts in yellow.

Kevin’s Key Insights:

  1. As Google’s algorithm stands today, your website’s content is the most important factor in gaining visibility online.
  2. Content planning is the key to not letting this project slip through the cracks. Taking a little time now to make next month’s content plan makes it far easier to keep up consistent posting.
  3. Your blog is not just a marketing channel for you to advertise your company; use it to be useful and interesting to your local audience and watch the traffic roll in!

Here is the article.

Make Your Blog A Local Destination & Win At Local Search

Wondering what to do on your blog to help your Local SEO efforts? Columnist Greg Gifford lays out a game plan for local blogging success.

Greg Gifford on March 2, 2015 at 9:28 am

Now that 2015 is in full swing, many business owners are trying to dive into the trenches and do whatever they can to boost their local visibility. So far, the leading question of the year has centered on site content.

Since the Pigeon Update‘s shift toward more “traditional web ranking factors” in determining local search rankings, website content has become more important than ever for local businesses trying to gain visibility in search. In fact, according to Moz’s 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors, it’s currently the most important piece of the Local SEO puzzle.

Business owners know that content is important, but they keep asking for specifics. So, I figured this month would be a perfect opportunity to share the same strategy we share with our own clients.

You Can’t Just Post For Posting’s Sake

You’ve got a blog, you know you need to post content, you know you need to be unique, and you know you have to be relevant in your local area. That seems to be about as far as most business owners get. Blogging seems to be some insurmountable, time-sucking colossal task — so business owners often shy away.

Blogging isn’t hard! Does it take some time? Yes. But you don’t have to be an expert writer to have an awesome blog. Blogs lend themselves to conversational writing, anyway.

You’ve got to put a plan in place and stick to it. If you’re just randomly posting because you know you need content, you’re doing it wrong. Even if you’re posting several times a week, if you’re only doing it because you know you need content, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re writing a generic post and just shoving your city name in there a few times, you’re doing it wrong.

If you take the time to make a plan, your posts will make sense and have a purpose. Your potential customers and local users will start reading your content because it’s actually useful content. Your traffic will increase, and you’ll get more leads.

Before we talk about post ideas, here’s the blogging plan we share with our clients:

  1. Define Your Audience.It’s important to remember that your audience doesn’t have to be in-market buyers. For auto dealers, the sales cycle is very long, since people typically only buy a car every 4 or 5 years. You have to tailor your posts to your audience if you want to get traction. Think about potential customers, previous customers, local residents, out-of-town visitors – then break up your potential audience into personas that you can target with different posts.
  2. Decide Who’s Writing.Sometimes it’s the business owners, sometimes it’s a manager, and sometimes its employees. Figure out what works with your company’s staff structure, then choose your writers. If you pick specific people, you can hold them accountable, which helps you stick to your schedule. You’re the expert, and you know your company’s voice – so whenever possible, you should write your own posts. In some cases, time constraints might make that impossible (if you’re a one-person show, for example). If you have to outsource your blog posts, make sure you’re using a reputable copywriting company that’s providing original, well-written content.
  3. Decide What You’re Going To Share.Remember that “content” doesn’t have to be text. Now that you know who your audience is and who’ll be creating the content, decide what types of content you want to share. Besides standard written posts, you can share photos, videos, infographics, slide presentations, or surveys. Play to your strengths and the interests of your audience.
  4. Set A Calendar & Stick To It.This is the step that most people stumble on. You’ve got to post on a regular basis if you want to be successful. You don’t have to know exact subjects to plan your posting calendar out far in advance – as long as you know a post is due on a certain date, it helps keep everyone accountable and on schedule. At a minimum, you should plan your posts a month ahead of time, but going 6 months or even a year ahead will make your life easier and increase your chances of success.

Need evidence that this approach works? Check out the results below, from my own company’s blog.

I put my money where my mouth is back in 2011 and committed to posting at least one blog post a week about automotive digital marketing.

Within a year, traffic to our blog doubled — and today, we’re consistently in the 7,000 to 8,000 visitor range. That’s more than ten times our original traffic!

Okay, So What The Heck Do We Actually Post?

Here’s where most business owners get hung up. They know they need to plan, and they know they need to post regularly, but they struggle with ideas for potential posts. The “my business is boring” excuse usually comes into play at this point.

Luckily, we’re blogging to build local relevance, so that means there are tons of options for post ideas regardless of business vertical. At the recent LocalUp conference in Seattle, Mike Ramsey said it best: “Local content is not about being unique, it’s about being local and useful.”

You don’t have to fill your blog with unique posts about plumbing… or being a locksmith… or handling bankruptcy cases. If your blog is all about yourself, it’s boring, and you’ll run out of things to say. Make your blog a local destination, and you’ll have an endless supply of content ideas that also help build local relevancy.

Instead of thinking of your blog as another marketing channel that needs to be all about your business, try to create a really awesome locally-oriented blog that people in your area will keep reading because it’s useful and truly interesting.

Here’s the list of 10 local blog post ideas we share with our clients:

  1. Community News/Local News. Every city has news. Share the news, or share your opinions on local news. Did your high school put in a $60 million football stadium? Write about it — I promise people will read….
  2. Local Events.Every city has events. Whether it’s a local parade, or a celebration downtown, or a concert at the city park, there’s an endless supply of local events you can write about.
  3. Sponsorships Or Charities.Most businesses sponsor events (would golf tournaments exist otherwise?). Share information about the events you’re sponsoring. If you support a charity, especially a local one, let your readers know about it.
  4. Event Guides.Share useful information about big local events. For example, is there a 5k race, or even a yearly marathon? Put together a list of restaurants to head to after the race, places to stand on the race route, hotels to stay in over the weekend and so on. Create a PDF and share it.
  5. Local Resource Directory. Supporting local businesses is a huge movement, and you can gain a lot of traction by sharing your own list of locally owned businesses that you support. You’re not creating a link exchange, you’re simply sharing a list of the other businesses that you recommend to local residents.
  6. Review Local Businesses.Along those same lines, write up reviews about the local businesses you support, or even the ones you frequent. Local residents will appreciate your insights, and as a bonus, it’s likely that the business will return the favor and write a review about your business.
  7. Interview Local Figures.Do you know the mayor? Someone on city council? The high school football coach? Take advantage of your friendships and professional connections and interview figures of local interest. Not only is it useful, interesting local content, it’s “ego bait” – the person you interview will very likely share your post with all of your connections, helping to broaden your reach.
  8. Top 5 Lists.Talk about your favorite burger joints, your favorite steak restaurants, your favorite stores. People love to read top 5 and top 10 lists, and you can use any of the above suggestions to help come up with ideas for your lists. They’re incredibly easy to write and the built-in popularity of list posts helps broaden your reach.
  9. If local customers are asking questions, you have a built in guide for local blog content. If it’s a lengthy answer, you can turn it into an entire post. If you have multiple locations or serve multiple areas, you can even compare questions from different locations. If you’re writing about what your customers are asking about, you already know it’s something they’ll want to read.
  10. Aggregated Content.Many times, aggregating and sharing local content can be incredibly successful. Share the content that local news sites or other businesses are creating, and you’ll be sharing information that your users will find useful too.

Piggyback off of this list and come up with your own ideas that work for your audience. Follow a set plan and share useful local content on a regular basis, and you’ll build your site’s local relevancy and boost your site’s visibility.

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