Top 5 Reasons to Blog to Drive Business Growth

Lots of businesses do it.

Southwest Airlines, Stonyfield Farms and Disney Parks are just a few big businesses that maintain blogs to keep their customers happy, interested and informed. What works so well for these giant, blockbuster businesses can actually work for your business, too. In fact, there are plenty of statistics to support your blogging decision.

  • 81% of U.S. consumers trust information and advice from blogs. (Source: BlogHer)
  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links. (Source: Hubspot)
  • 61% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from a blog. (Source: BlogHer)

Okay. So, the statistics support blogging. What exactly does your business stand to gain?

1. Get more visitors to your site.

Blogging increases traffic to your website in so many ways!

First, writing a blog post adds another indexed page to your website. Every indexed page is another opportunity for your site to appear in your audience’s search engine results pages.

Second, readers share blog content on social media. It’s highly unlikely that one of your readers is going to share a link to your home page, portfolio or contact page on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google+. But if you’re publishing valuable content, those readers are doing their friends a favor by connecting them with your site.

2. Convert traffic into leads.

A blog post on its own can be a pretty good thing.

But add a call-to-action to the bottom of every post and you’ve got a highly effective lead-generating tool. Make the call to action specific to the content of the post and your audience will be thanking you for serving them up with even more valuable information!

Very often the call-to-action is a button or form at the bottom of the post, encouraging your reader to follow the link for more information or fill in their email address to get on the mailing list. Calls-to-action are even more effective when they reward your reader with relevant bonus content. An emailed coupon, an informative guide (in the form of an emailed pdf) or a free trial membership are all effective ways to use a call-to-action to market to your audience. Ensure that this content is relevant to the content of the blog post and you’re sure to convert!

3. Establish authority.

Really great businesses find the best ways to help their customers. Answering their questions, giving them information and finding other ways to provide them with value is often the best way to do this.

A blog can help your customers come to see you as an authority in the field. Let them know you’ve got great ideas! Help them to see that you’ve got all the answers! Your reward will be that they’ll keep coming back to you for information and they’ll let their friends and family know about you, too.

4. Benefit from long-term results.

A well-written, valuable blog post can be one of your hardest working assets. In fact, years from now, your site will still be getting visits, leads and customers from that post your wrote so long ago.

Write a couple posts a week and the benefit doubles!

Most bloggers will tell you that most of the traffic to their site is generated by posts that were written a long time ago. Those posts have had time to age, gain attention and build authority. So think about the one hour of effort that is required to write a blog post as an investment in your future. While you’re on vacation or doing the hard work of maintaining your business, your blog posts are generating leads and ensuring your business continues to grow!

Still feeling stuck? Spot Color can help you get unstuck and on the road to blogging.  Contact us today.

 

Sources

Hubspot: http://www.stateofinboundmarketing.com/

BlogHer: http://www.blogher.com/women-and-social-media-2012

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5 Rules of Grammar Never to Ignore on Your Website

At one of our Friday evening happy hours in Spot Color’s living room, a few Spot friends got to talking about my recent post of 5 Rules of Grammar You Can Ignore on Your Website and it sparked a conversation about some grammatical errors that drive us absolutely mad. With that in mind, I bring you 5 Rules of Grammar Never to Ignore on Your Website. Sometimes you just have to shake your head and say, “No.”

1) The correct use of Your and You’re.

Don’t you just want to slap your forehead when you hear this? It’s a simple mistake to make if you’re writing quickly and multitasking, but nothing tells your readers I did not bother to proofread this text quite like this mix up. Say it with me, you’re skilled in your writing. And remember to think about this when using there, their, and they’re.

2) Make sure the words you are using are, well, actual words.

Adding extra syllables: I’m not sure where this comes from, but I’m sure you’ve all cringed at least once if you’ve ever heard someone say “conversate” or “irregardless.” Bottom line, if you’re unsure about a word you want to use, look it up. Better yet, always edit any text that will appear on your website in a program that uses spell check. Just for fun, here are some other examples of words commonly used that shouldn’t be. Some of these won’t even trip your spell check because they’ve become inundated in common speech, so use your best judgment when it comes to diction:

CORRECT INCORRECT
Undoubtedly Undoubtably
Exploitative Exploitive
First Firstly
Administer Administrate
Comment Commentate
Thaw Unthaw
Estimate Guesstimate

 

3) The correct past tense and past participles.

Ah, I know these sound like the parts of an English textbook to collect drool, but they are actually important, especially when misused. We’ve all heard and (gasp!) read some of these horrors: brung or boughten. I know you’re all too smart to do this, but even the best of us forget the rule about using past tense and past perfect tense sometimes. So remember, I swam across the ocean just as I have swum across the lake. I drank this juice just as I have drunk other juices.

4) Don’t use unnecessary hyperbole.

I don’t want to exaggerate, but it kills me when people say “over exaggerate.” It’s already exaggerated; you don’t need the “over.” This also goes for adding the unnecessary “super” everywhere.

grammar

5) The proper use of affect vs. effect.

I see this more commonly in the past tense, but it’s easy to mix these two up. Just remember, affect is the verb and the effect is the result of that verb.


The most important thing to remember is that spell check is your friend. It’s also helpful if you can have someone else read and edit your writing before it goes up on your website. What are some of your grammar pet peeves? Let us know in the comments section.

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5 Rules of Grammar You Can Ignore on Your Website

Usually when I am writing for websites, or advising others in the same pursuit, I pay very close attention to the rules of grammar in order to avoid sounding like an idiot on the web. This is generally a good rule. However, there are times when it is more effective to sound like a relatable human and not your sixth grade English teacher who never seemed to be able to connect with her audience. Here are 5 rules of grammar that are okay to break when writing for your website:

1.       Ending a sentence with a preposition. We all know it’s grammatically correct to write “There are many colors of pen with which you can sign our petition.” Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a stuffy petition. Your website reader will probably respond better to something like, “There are tons of pen colors you may sign our petition with.”

2.       Using some slang words. Sometimes it’s okay, or even encouraged, to use slang words in order to appeal to your audience, show your social relevance, or avoid sounding like an out-of-touch robot. However, if you wouldn’t be comfortable using the word or phrase in, say, the company of your pastor or a new client, don’t put it on your website. If you’re a skateboard company, DO write “we have sick new boards in inventory!” Refrain from writing, “we just received bitchin new boards.” Oh dear, I’ve just broken my own rule.

3.       Beginning a sentence with ‘And’ or ‘But.’ Typically this is still a no-no in my book, unless you truly are striving for a conversational tone. For example, I won’t start a sentence with ‘and’ if I am writing a PDF of standard procedures. But I will start a sentence with ‘but’ if I am trying to show my reader what I sound like during normal conversation. And I might even do it more than once if I think I’m being witty.

4.       Using incomplete sentences. According to your grammar book, you shouldn’t use fragments ever because they don’t make sense when taken out of context and they do make your writing seem choppy. Sometimes, however, they just fit. For example, you tell your reader “Have you been saving for retirement but aren’t sure if it’s going to be enough? We understand.” Well, taken out of context, “we understand” doesn’t mean anything, but in this case it tells your reader you know what they are going through and want to help, in a lot less words.

5.       Using contractions. It used to be the case that in business writing you would never use contractions because they were not seen as part of formal speech. While some companies may choose to stick to this credo, less formal establishments may want to move away from this style of writing for the web. For example, it is perfectly normal for a law office to want to appear sophisticated, thorough, and of course, a company to be taken seriously. On the other hand, a health food store may want to seem warmer and more casual to its customer base. There is no right or wrong answer here, but do think about what your audience is expecting to hear from you.

I could go on, as most writers I know have very sharp opinions when it comes to grammar, but I promised I would only give you 5 Grammar Rules to Break. As a bonus, I would like to give you one rule of grammar NEVER to break, and that is misspelling. No one thinks it’s kewl to make that mistake. 

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Calls to Action: What Should Your Reader Do?

Clients oftentimes ask us what they can be doing to increase sales, drive more traffic to their website, increase their social media presence, etc. Though every client, business and industry is different, there is one thing we recommend to each and every client who walks through our doors: Calls to Action.

What are calls to action? Click here to learn more about calls to action. Call us now to schedule a calls to action seminar. A call to action tells your viewer what to do with the information you’ve given them. What you don’t want is for your potential customer to read your raving testimonials, fall in love with your products, and then say, “Okay, but what now?” Without a clear invitation to take the next step, they might just go somewhere else that makes it easier for them to figure out what to do.

There are countless examples of successful calls to action, and many more unsuccessful ones. Here are a couple we think work well, and why.

1. Digital Marketing Agency PortlandThis call to action (from our client PAHU) gives a reason why you should do what they’re asking, then right after they’ve convinced you, give you the next step at the click of a button. Easy.

2. This call to action is ideal because it’s specific, unique, and of course, for a good cause, taken from the site we gifted for Schoolhouse Supplies, a local non-profit we love. This is a feel-good button. The clickee gets instant gratitude from the verbiage of this call to action disguised as his or her own idea. Digital Marketing Agency Portland

3. This call to action is actually two-in-one. First we get the viewer to identify as an Oregonian or Washingtonian, then we show them plans available to them. Now they’re halfway to signing up for a plan and we only had to get them to the home page. (Taken from Warshauer Agency, a great client of ours!) Digital Marketing Agency Portland

 A few other things to note:

  • Leave some space. You want your call to action to be noticeable. While it doesn’t have to isolated, it’s better if it’s clear where your viewer should click.
  • Make sure it works. The worst thing you could do is ask your viewer to do something, then have a broken link or lack of functionality.
  • Avoid negatives. Keep your calls in the positive. Use “Sign-up for our Newsletter!” instead of “Don’t miss out on our Newsletter!” You don’t want your viewer to feel scolded or bullied into following your advice.
  • Don’t write a novel. Keep it short and sweet. If you’re going to use a hyperlink, underline part of the phrase. i.e. Click here to learn more about our services is too long for a button. Instead, tell them what you want them to do (learn more about your services) then make the hyperlink or button short with Learn More or Click Here.

Above all, don’t make your viewer do absolutely everything. Reward them for finding you, provide them with rich and up-to-date content, and then tell them how they can take the next step. Just think of how frustrating it is to sift through six inside pages, follow link after link, and still wonder how to buy the darn thing. Websites are like drive-thrus; if your customer wanted to come into your store and browse, they would. They visited your website for the quick and dirty stuff to inform them what to do!

 

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