Rich Brooks [hey, that's me!] will be one of the presenters at the Social Media FTW Fall Conference on 9/22/2010. He'll be presenting on Advanced Blogging Techniques. Last year's conference sold out, so be sure to register now!
To generate online leads, you need a steady stream of new, qualified prospects to your web site. These days, that means strong search engine visibility coupled with an active presence in social media.
And there's no better tool to help you in both categories than your business blog. But like any tool, it doesn't work by itself, it just amplifies your own efforts. Here's how to maximize your efforts to increase your online visibility, drive more qualified traffic to your site, and convert that traffic into leads for your sales team.
- Spend time crafting a keyword-rich title for each blog post. Every blog post creates a new web page; each web page is another opportunity to rank well for one of your targeted keyword phrases in Google and other search engines. Your blog post title becomes your web page title, and titles are the biggest variable in the search engine algorithm, so don't short-change yourself here. Make sure your best keyword phrases appear in the first few words in the title for maximum exposure.
- Keep those titles compelling. Leverage the “sharing power” of social media by creating compelling titles. People will often “Like” or retweet a blog post based solely on the title, even without reading it first! Although the tool may be tongue-in-cheek, check out the Link Bait Generator for ideas on how to create a compelling title.
- Blog for your audience: your prospects and customers. Too many business blogs appear to be where press releases go to die. Although there's a place in an active blog for company news, for most businesses that's not what will attract customers. Instead, keep the focus of your blog on your customers' pain points. Every time you get an email or phone inquiry asking you for your expert advice, turn it into a blog post. If one person had that question, probably a dozen, a hundred or a thousand other people had the same question. Answer it before your competition does. Eighty to ninety percent of your blog posts should be addressing problems that your prospects face on a daily basis.
- Blog regularly. Don't fall into the “I don't have time to blog” trap. Blogging is marketing, and every business needs to make time to market their services. Get up an hour earlier, stay up an hour later, don't watch “Project Runway” one week (unless of course you have a fashion blog. Then watch it twice.) You should really be blogging at least twice a week, three times when you're just getting started.
- Reach new audiences through guest blogging. If you have the opportunity to blog at someone else's blog, you are immediately introduced to a new audience. If you get another blogger to contribute to your blog, very often they will promote the post to their faithful readers, who will check out your blog. In either case, the cross-promotion is valuable to help you reach an audience who may never have heard of you otherwise.
- Actively market your blog. If a blog is such a great marketing tool, then it should market itself, right? Well, it needs a little help from you, especially at the beginning. Leverage your social media presence by promoting your new blog posts through tweets and status updates. Use tools like Pingoat to push your post to news aggregators. Use social bookmarking & news tools like Digg, Delicious and StumbleUpon as appropriate. Leave (intelligent) comments at related blogs and make sure your name links back to your blog post.
- Funnel blog traffic to your web site. Once you start attracting new traffic to your blog, it's time to convert those visitors into prospects. You can do this through keyword-rich links to areas of your web site where you offer more information, or directly to a lead generation form. Consider offering a free download from your blog (at flyte's blog we offer “The 11 Biggest Mistakes Small Business Bloggers Make”) that requires an email registration for collecting leads.
Now it's your turn: what techniques do you use on your blog that generate leads and get people to start doing business with you? Share your ideas in the comment field below…and who knows, maybe some later readers will follow your link back to your blog!