If you do a Google search of current blogging statistics, the numbers overwhelmingly support the need for both B2B and B2C companies to have blog content. 85% of people prefer to use content in blogs to help them decide over even testimonials.
There are some best practices to maximize your return on the investment of time and or money outsourcing what can be time-intensive work.
I worked in the spa niche for well over two decades. I traveled, enjoyed experiences and visited lots of spas and resorts.
In the UK, I have my own private native guide, my husband, to take me on discovery trips. In big cities, people are more cautious, guarded. Get away from them and people tend to be more friendly.
UK roads are unique. M-roads are freeways. A-roads are mostly divided highways. B-roads are narrow 2-way roads. However, one lane may disappear unexpectedly. The only way to pass is the tiniest of pull-outs. Driving a road no wider than your car with little visibility on either side is quite an experience.
You never know where you will end up.
A tiny thatched-roof village where the main activity is the village pub that dates back hundreds of years. If you’re adventurous enough to find them, they’re happy to regale you with history as you listen to the locals’ gossip.
The top of the Welch hills with a view for miles…clear to the sea. This while you stand among neolithic burial stones whose only company is a neighboring pasture of cows.
A 5-star spa, Manor House or Castle with experiences as diverse as their locations.
It was natural to share experiences.
I’ve been writing blogs for years. What start out as journal notes, become invites to leave home, experience something different, and renew.
If your blog is shared on a dedicated Facebook page, you’ve tapped into the power of social media and a place people like to relax and read.
Marketing blogs for myself. Content blogs for my clients. Experiences, information, success stories. All designed to help someone.
What many don’t know
Blogs are not static.They have changed and are evolving. Most used to be 500-900 words. Now those with 2250-2500 words show the highest engagement and readership. While you can create a short blog in 1-2 hours. Long blogs can take six hours or more.
Longer blogs have caused frequency to drop. Where bloggers used to put out multiple blogs a week. The longer formats, take more research and writing time. They may only be published semi-monthly.
3 Best Blog Practices
Blogs can be a stand-alone website. They can also be a column or featured tab on your business website. For the most readership, blog content should tie into the purpose of your business.
Take time to think about topics that make sense to include based on your offer. Health, alternative health, fitness, nutrition, wellness, relationships, kids, life events like retirement, or getting married.
Whatever your website’s purpose is, include topics that support it. Your goal is to become their information resource. Reliable, relevant, knowledgeable…and trustworthy.
Diversity in your niche
Within your niche, have a little fun and offer diversity. If you’re offer supplements, nutrition or fitness, consider adding helpful recipes. If your selling supplements for kids, offer simple parenting tips.
Share things that will make readers’ lives easier/better.
Offer the latest findings. A major part of my fitness routine is walking. I just had to replace my shoes and the first thing I noticed they weren’t as sleek. Rather broader and boxier. Fortunately, I had a sharp associate helping me. He educated me on the changes in shoe structure to better protect ergonomics and reduce the risk of plantar fasciitis.
Look for changes or innovations that relate to what you offer. A new ingredient. A new method of formulation that works better. Problem-solution specific. Every reader has a different goal, yet most will read to be better informed.
Keep blogs casual
Blogs are conversations with a friend. Keep them informal. If you have scientific articles on your site, your blog may be the ideal place to convert that to reader-friendly information.
If a topic is complex, your blog is the spot to break it into easily scannable, digestible chunks.
Most of your readers are going to skim-read. Help them out with a friendly style where there is plenty of white space and subheadings.
Make sure the reading level is in the 7-8 range or lower. The higher the reading level, the more mental energy is required and the more quickly readers leave.
Relevant, diverse and casual will keep your readers coming back for more. Mix up short blogs like recipes or quick content with longer reads.
Judith Culp Pearson is a wellness relationship marketer. She puts those skills to work helping businesses increase client retention with web content and strategies. Blog content is always something she recommends to clients. If they don’t have the time or desire to do it, she handles it for them.
There is one sure-fire way to a successful business…giving customers something they want and more, in essence, over-deliver.
“But wait, there’s more”
Back in the late 1970s-early 80s, Ginsu knives made a fortune on their perfectly crafted television infomercials. It uses the get a lot for a little formula.
They demonstrate their knife-wielding skills showcasing how fabulous their knives are. As the demonstration draws to a close, they open their offer with “Now how much would you pay? Don’t answer!”
Then they reduced the price or sweetened the deal with add on bonuses. More and more and more.
They urged viewers to “Call now! Operators are standing by!” Even then they added more bonuses to the offer.
They created the tagline which is still used today, “But wait! There’s more!”
The value was so high compared to the price, people couldn’t resist.
It was so successful, they used the exact same formula, and spokespeople, to market a number of other equally successful household items.
Exceeding expectations works
In my practice, I’ve always tried to exceed people’s expectations, but I never thought of it as over-delivering. I just wanted customers that were so happy they’d return and refer me to their friends.
Over-delivering is a term I learned from a master copywriter, Brian Kurtz. He is one of the most successful marketers out there and has over 40 years of experience behind him. Over-delivering is his specialty.
I’ve found Brian’s insights accurate and useful in my work with clients and in marketing. If you want to dive deeper, his book Overdeliver is available on Amazon.
One thing most people don’t realize
A customer’s lifetime value is directly related to the depth of the relationship. Lists and contacts are inanimate. They are for transactions. Human interaction is based on relationships. Every way your buyers encounter you, websites, social media, emails, chatbots need to be relationship-focused. Giving more than expected is a key way to build those relationships.
In today’s world, where more buying happens online than in a store, this is even more critical. It’s also what people are looking for. They want to understand you, your business, and what you stand for.
The more transparent you are the better they feel about you. If they can’t even find out where a company is located, or get in touch with them, it rather feels like something is being hidden.
3 ways to over-deliver
There are three types of people out there, givers, takers, and matchers. Takers have their hands out ready to receive. Takers love it when people offer to help them, but seldom give anything in return. Matchers are tit for tat people. If given something, they respond by giving back the exact same value.
Givers share with no strings attached. No expectations. They give to help others.
Be the giver. They share information, appreciate the person they interact with, treat them with respect, reward them. Givers are relationship builders.
Businesses that follow this pattern have the greatest success.
Every interaction a relationship event
Look for ways to make every interaction a relationship event. Give information, help, and support freely. Let customers and prospects know you appreciate them.
Make emails personalized not automated generic. Nurture them, answer questions…even ones they haven’t thought of yet. Thank them, reward them.
Talk to them as person to person. Be conversational, invite a response. Social media is especially good to get conversations going. Monitor what triggers get responses and use them again.
Give them what they want
Many businesses have an idea and create a product. Then they reach out to find people who they think need it. Too often, it misses the mark. What the customer wants doesn’t match with the solutions they are offered.
When a product is still in the concept stage that’s the ideal time to make sure it is a clear match. Ask them, research it, follow forums. How can you tweak it to have a 100% match?
It might be the right product but the wrong packaging, formulation, or value.
Maybe they need more information to understand your product/service or how to use it. Free guides or how-tos can be invaluable.
Convert transactions to relationships with over-delivery
Often fulfillment and customer support are treated as transactions. Instead, treat them as part of your marketing.
I once received an order and inside the product was nicely tissue wrapped with a small envelope on top. Inside was a brief inspirational message and a piece of a cinnamon stick. It was totally unexpected. A gift, a bonus, and I can still tell you exactly who that item came from.
If you’re doing a subscription offer, thank them for renewing. If you shipped them a product, ask if they have any questions on how to use it. Targeted nurturing emails, segmented by product or interest, following a purchase are an excellent technique to bond.
Be reachable and responsive. I’ve noticed that almost every business I interact with has a message to expect delays. It’s true of phone messages, web notices, and email responses.
Sometimes you get the message and then an immediate contact. Other times, you may wait for days, even weeks.
After all this time, we need to figure out a way to be more responsive. Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. How long would You realistically want to wait? Figure out a way to make that happen.
How I approach this
When I work with a new client, I look at the touchpoints from the viewpoint of their buyer. How does it “feel”. It may work fine, but feel impersonal. I look for transactionality and ways to replace it with over-delivery and relationship building.
In a recent article, I shared the importance of customer relationships for 2021. We’re in a world where the competition is fierce. You probably have competitors who have offers similar to yours. Your key differentiator is likely how you bond with customers. How you take care of them. It’s core to your survival.
If you’re fence-sitting on the necessity of investing in your customer experience, the facts are available. I found an article that shared 50 stats proving the value of customer relationships. Here are my key takeaways.
Companies focused on customers outperform their competition by nearly 80%.
In 2010 only 36% of companies focused on CX. Today 66% use it as a competitive edge.
96% of customers say customer service is key to their loyalty.
Superior customer service can bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors without it.
Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than business-centric.
Customers switching due to poor service costs US companies $1.6 trillion.
Happy customers are 5 times more likely to purchase again.
Negative experiences reduce spending by 140%
Take care of your customer relationships. They will reward you with loyalty and profitability.
Video, because it’s visual, connects deeper emotionally, increases sales, and builds trust in your brand. It adds a dimension beyond what an image can generate. It can be the “face” of your business. People don’t connect with brands as deeply as they do faces…people.
Blind men and the elephant
There’s an old parable about a group of blind men who heard a strange new creature had been brought to the town. They had never heard of one before and decide to go check it out using their only tool…touch. Here’s the story from Wikipedia
Out of curiosity, they said: “We must inspect and know it by touch, of which we are capable”.
So, they sought it out, and when they found it they groped about it.
The first person, whose hand landed on the trunk, said, “This being is like a thick snake”.
For another one whose hand reached its ear, “this thing seems like a kind of fan.”
A third person, whose hand was upon its leg, said, “the elephant is a pillar-like a tree-trunk”.
The blind man who placed his hand upon its side said, “The elephant, is a wall”.
Another who felt its tail, “no, this animal is like a rope.”
The last felt its tusk, This elephant is hard, smooth, and like a spear.”
The men didn’t trust what the others told them…
There are many versions of what happens next. In several, the men disagree and think the others are lying. Depending on the version of the story, they come to blows of varying severity.
In another, a sighted man comes by. One of the group asks him, “Sir, how do you describe this creature?”
The sighted man walks slowly around the elephant and describes the various aspects of the huge beast. I can imagine him saying, “The creature is huge, taller than a boy standing on his father’s shoulders. He is five long strides from his front to his back.
“His nose is long, flexible and he uses it to pick up food and feed himself. It is thick like a giant snake. On each side of his nose, is a long tapered tusk that is hard, smooth, and of a beautiful cream color. And at the top of his head are two huge triangular ears, one on each side that resemble a fan.
“His four legs are each the thickness of a giant tree trunk to support his huge dense body. At his rear is a tail, longer than a man’s arm and as thick as a rope.”
The blind men learned that each was partly right and each partly wrong.
Sometimes seeing things gives you a more complete picture.
Like many people, I did well on the radio, phone, or in person, but found cameras intimidating. Yet when I overcame this, I found it much easier to build relationships and connect more strongly with customers and clients.
We are hard-wired to respond to faces. So when we connect in person, or virtually with the camera on, we connect at a different depth than we do only in text or by phone.
Visual connections help build a more authentic relationship.
In today’s world where we are social distancing and many aspects of life have gone virtual, the video component becomes more important.
One thing to remember
It’s not about you. Get out of your own way. The person you’re trying to connect with is there to meet you and hear what you have to share. We tend to be focused on our own perceived weaknesses. Things others barely notice, if at all.
I have a colleague who was starting a video podcast channel with the first episode in a month. A live show where he would be conducting interviews.
Then he got the news from his dentist, he needed braces. He seriously thought about delaying the launch for the six months the dentist said he would need to get him adjusted.
He decided it wasn’t about him and moved ahead with the launch. No one ever noticed the tooth-toned braces.
Embrace that videos tend to be more business casual. You don’t need the equivalent of a suit and tie. Be yourself, be approachable, be conversational.
3 techniques to maximize videos
Use recorded video content in multiple ways.
You can create a Youtube brand channel and share your videos there to engage with clients and bring them to your website.
While longer videos get more engagement, people also love short, fast value.
Not all demographics engage with video the same way. Television and movies taught us to watch and be entertained.
That said, for information, many people don’t have the patience to commit to a long video. They’d rather skim the text or listen to what you have to say. They may not be in a location conducive to video watching.
Once your video is recorded you can upload it. Consider extracting the audio and make that available separately. To tap into your “readers”, include a transcript posted below the video.
Share videos on multiple channels
YouTube and Facebook are currently the two top channels. Since Facebook bought Instagram, more video capabilities have been added there. There are apps out there that you can use to get your video on all available channels quickly.
Consider how your viewer will encounter them. On Facebook the newsfeed moves quickly so a video posted may not show up when your desired viewer is there. For webinar type presentations, the Facebook attendance rate is very low.
On YouTube, people can search for content. This results in more views and higher engagement. Viewers are getting the information they want. Keywords are critical to making this happen.
Consider taking the video and extracting short value nuggets. You can use each value nugget as a paid ad. It comes across as value…not an ad. Follow your ad with a retargeting message.
“Thanks for watching. Here’s a free XYZ I thought you might like.” In it share a lot of value and include your CTA. Perhaps to visit your website or for specific information on a product or service.
Keep in mind, it’s hard to over-deliver.
Follow-up by tracking analytics so you learn what works best. What lengths, what topics, what resonates with your viewers. Then you tweak and do it again.
How I work with clients
For my clients just getting started with video, I recommend creating a series of short positive messages. I find these posts are the most clicked on because they are brief…some under a minute. Others might be up to three minutes. We use these to create familiarity and grow from there as fits their brand.
To maximize your business success in 2021, you need to look at how you connect with your prospects and customers. Think of them as family, treat them as the best possible version of a family. It’s about building relationships first.
I recently had an experience on a social media channel that you might have had yourself.
Pitch forward marketing
Someone reached out to me to connect. It was a woman whose interests were in my niche. Her message said, “I think I have something you might be interested in.” How could she know that? She didn’t know me.
Being someone who is generally friendly and open to networking, I accepted her invitation. My acceptance triggered another message from her that was a pure pitch. And it was the type of offer that I always steer clear of. A business opportunity that doesn’t resonate with me.
In her response, she asked, “are you familiar with XYZ? They are the company I work with”
I responded, “Yes, I’m familiar with them. I’ve had numerous people try to get me to participate in this. Not interested. Thank you.”
She didn’t try to get to know me nor build a relationship. If she had, she might have picked up this isn’t my direction. She took afront at my lack of interest. She lost the opportunity for a relationship. While it isn’t something I would do, she will never learn if I know someone who might be interested.
I’ve practiced relationship selling for years
I’ve always practiced treating people with respect and TLC. This is essential to earn their trust and long term business. I’ve practiced this for over 25 years.
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a virtual summit where some of the greatest minds in marketing shared their best thoughts for 2021. Marketing giants you might recognize. Bob Bly, Brian Kurtz, Kevin Thompson, Eric Partaker, and more.
Each had their own version of the “One Thing” to keep in mind for 2021. Yet, they were unanimous in their conviction on the importance of relationships as we move forward.
Relationship versus transactional selling
We shouldn’t ignore…relationships are opposite of transactions.
Transactions are all about the short term sale. Relationship selling is about connecting, engaging, and focusing on helping the buyer find what they want and need. The differences are huge.
Think traditional used car salesmen, versus an automotive consultant. Used car salesman were pushy. The don’t listen, they sell. Get the deal no matter what. It got them a terrible reputation.
Our automotive consultant doesn’t show the prospect anything until they have listened to the customer. They actively listen and then help the prospect find what they are looking for.
If we have a great buying experience, we are far more apt to return to that business the next time we have a need. We look forward to hearing from them because they “took care of us.” they didn’t try to rip us off and sell us what we didn’t want or need. Customer-focused.
3 Techniques for relationship marketing
Once you have embraced prospects as an online family, you’ll engage with them differently. They aren’t just names or emails, they are people you want to help. For the best success, you need to be very clear on your purpose and your goals. From there you need to give, be open and sincere, and see every touchpoint as a relationship event.
Focus on how you can help/serve others. Give abundantly. Information, inspiration, and value. People respond when we give our best. Focus on connecting with people who want what you are offering and give them your best.
Peloton has this down perfectly. Peleton offers high-end fitness gear. Their focus? Athletes committed to fitness. They know exactly what their customer wants. Peleton makes sure they provide it. They focus on reaching their target market. Targeted quality versus quantity in marketing responses. They only want the very committed in their inner circle.
This is an expensive brand with a high entry bar. This means members are more committed. The more we have to pay to access what we want, the more committed and engaged we become. The more we will connect and use the “value” the business has provided.
Their customers are more successful in reaching their goals and more apt to stay with them long term. They have a much higher lifetime customer value.
Be real, open, and sincere to build relationships
If you aren’t real, open, and sincere with your audience, they will know it. In today’s world, people look for businesses that are supportive and transparent. They don’t try to hide things by withholding or dodging issues.
Customer service quality is paramount in the mind of today’s customers. Let them know how to contact you and when they can expect a response.
2021 will have continued unique challenges. We have to be nimble and quickly adjust to rapidly evolving situations. Being open and honest with your audience will keep them with you as you have to make changes.
As a consumer, I don’t mind that your business had to change my packaging due to shortages. Please, just let me know. If the regional weather or other issues are impacting shipping and delivery, let your customers know. Customers like to be in the loop.
Social and environmental positions are also something that most customers respond to. They want to know how you’re helping others and helping the planet. If you haven’t added them, share them via social channels and on your website.
See touchpoints as relationship events
Every time you reach out or connect with your audience, it’s important to think of it as a relationship event. Don’t think list building, think relationship building. Don’t think transactions, think connectivity and engagement.
Relationships encourage a two-way conversation. Invite them to respond and interact with you.
Be aware of what competitors are putting out there. Look for a way to present your message a little differently to increase engagement. Keep in mind that members are much more engaged than a general audience. The easier the access, the lower the level of active engagement.
Businesses that make relationships their focus have the most loyal clients and fan base to help share their message. Their ROI and lifetime customer value will be higher than any transactional approach can achieve.
When I work with clients
I start with a review of what they publish on their website and social channels. I look for the level of relationship building. Then help them see opportunities to increase value to customers. This always converts to an enhanced lifetime customer value.
Readable copy is a big key to sales! People today don’t want to wade through information that reads like a dull textbook. Most of us skim-read, instead of word for word. We are such multitaskers and so many choices that we aren’t patient with reading.
Recently, I received an email promoting a new product from a spa supplier. I knew the product was a performer, but the description was hard to read. So, I copy/pasted it into an analyzer. The readability was at the post-college level.
This prompted me to go online and look at descriptions of the same type of product marketed by department store brands. Their descriptions were much easier to read and focused on what their customers wanted to know. What it would do for them.
Readability sells and lack of it loses sales.
Readability refers to how easy a sentence is to read and understand. There are several formulas, that’s another article. The important thing to remember is to keep it simple. The harder it is to read, the quicker your reader may hit the delete key or leave your website.
Originally, it was used to evaluate training materials. Today it is used by smart marketers.
In today’s world, we are bombarded by electronic marketing. Junk mail, emails, newsletters. We go online; lots more marketing. Sensory overload. We are in a hurry. We want what we are looking for quick and easy. Your potential customers want the same thing.
Every written piece put out there needs to be easy to read. Website pages, emails, newsletters all need to be visitor friendly and quick to read.
Get their attention fast…
In 2014, Hubspot Marketing reported that you have less than 15 seconds to engage your reader. A surprising 55% of them will click off your page in that period.
If the reader is on a page that doesn’t answer their question or meet a need – they are going to be gone. They are in the wrong place.
However, if they are looking for what you have, we need to help them stick around and find it. We need to make sure our message is clear, simple, and easy to skim read.
Think about opening your email box first thing in the morning. There are probably at least 50 new emails waiting. Most of us, scan for the obvious ones to delete. Check, check, check, delete – done. Then you start with the rest.
3 Tips for more readability
You don’t actually read most emails completely. You quickly skim them to see if you’re interested. If they are hard to read, it bogs you down. The more you have to “work” to read information, the more apt you are to think, just stuff it, and hit delete.
Ever been caught in a loop and realize you’ve been rereading the same sentence over and over? Simple words, short sentences, and white space make a huge difference. The combination of words plus sentences is the basis for how easy something is to read.
Once you have your first draft complete, read through checking word choices. The more syllables a word has, the harder it is to read. It mentally takes more energy.
“Harder” is easier to read than “more difficult” or “more challenging”. It has fewer syllables and doesn’t require a support word.
Choosing a shorter word won’t make it sound like you have a limited vocabulary or it was written by a grade-schooler. It’s only about that mental energy use.
Sometimes you can’t avoid complex words. Technical materials or say medical topics need their specific words.
The longer and more complicated a sentence, the harder it is to read. Look for ways to break them into shorter sentences.
A good tell is to read the segment out loud. If you have trouble speaking it, people will have trouble reading it. Run out of breath in the middle of a sentence…shorten it.
There are lots of readability analyzers out there. This is good because most document creators don’t include it.
Grammarly uses a straight Flesch score system that the lower the number the harder it is to read. You’ll need a paid version to get the function.
Hemingway uses the Flesch-Kincade US grade scoring system so the higher the number the harder it is to read. A 14 would be post-graduate. Seven would be 12-13-year-old students. Most of the time, you want to have your text at nine or lower.
The unique part of Hemmingway is when you paste your text into the system, it renders it color-coded.
Yellow text is hard to read. Red text is very hard to read. Green is passive voice and purple is words that may have a simpler option. It’s very quick to see where the problem is and hone in on it.
As you shorten sentences, your red or yellow disappears and your grade score drops. It can also be used as a document creator with marking turned off in the write mode.
I find using one of the many analyzers speeds up the editing process and gets the job done.
If you have a solid page of text it is hard to focus on let alone read. Look for ways to break up long paragraphs. It’s like letting the reader take a breath.
Another good way to evaluate your white space is to look at your document in mobile format. If your document creator doesn’t let you see desktop, laptop, mobile views, a WordPress Post will.
If your reader has to scroll, and scroll, and scroll to get to the end of a paragraph…or a sentence, it’s too long.
Even product descriptions are not immune. Bulleting key benefits are good. However, lumping all of the description into one paragraph takes more mental energy to read. Give the reader a break. Break it into shorter paragraphs to make it more readable.
Word choices, shorter sentences, and white space make reading your offer a breeze and increase the ease of buying.
When I work with clients
Part of my get-acquainted process is to look at the existing content and email funnels. Is it recent, relevant, and readable? Copy plays a big supporting role in buying decisions. If I see readability issues, I show them how much more effective it could be.