Friday, January 19, 2018

How to Scale Your Lead Generation Through Blogging

I’m a big advocate of blogging.

It doesn’t matter what business you have or what industry you’re in, blogging can be used as a lead generation tool.

How often do you get unique visitors to your website?

Unless you have an ecommerce store, there’s no reason for a prospective customer to visit your website more than once or twice.

There’s only so many times someone needs to read your “About Us” page or look up your contact information.

But if your website has a blog, it gives people a reason to keep coming back.

Even if these visitors aren’t necessarily buying anything yet, there are certain ways you can turn a blog reader into a customer.

First of all, if you’re not blogging, you need to start ASAP.

Next, you can focus on driving traffic to your new blog.

I consulted some businesses that didn’t have a blog because they say it takes too much time.

Depending on the length, the average blog post should only take you a few hours to write.

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Trust me, I know from experience this time adds up based on the number of posts you’re writing per week.

But it needs to be part of your marketing strategy.

And it’s not expensive. The only cost is your time.

You can even ask your staff members with excellent writing skills to write a few posts per week.

If you want to start pumping out lots of content, you may want to consider adding an in-house writer to your payroll.

Regardless of how you plan to delegate these tasks, blogging needs to be a top priority if you want to generate new leads without spending much money.

Here’s what you need to do to write blog posts that convert.

Offer exclusive content

Why should someone read your blogs instead of those of your competitors?

There are so many blogs out there in every industry.

With a market that’s oversaturated with content, your posts need to differ from those of the competition.

Studies tell us 55% of readers spend only 15 seconds reading an article.

But if you offer exclusive content, it will give them a reason to spend more time reading, which increases your chances of getting them to convert.

Here’s a great example from the Conversion XL blog:

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This post stands out because of the exclusive feel of the headline.

Where else can you find 11 experts voicing their opinions and reviewing software tools in one place?

When people search for this subject on Google, they will be more likely to click on this than other results.

But what if you don’t have access to a dozen experts in a particular industry?

No problem.

You’re the expert.

Use your own expertise to offer exclusive advice to your readers.

Master the art of storytelling, and tell a personal anecdote that generated results for your company.

The more often you can do this, the more it will add credibility to your brand.

Once you’re known as an expert in a particular field from your blogs, it will be much easier for you to get leads.

Add more subscribers to your email list

Are you looking for new ways to get more email subscribers?

Well, your blog is a great way to accomplish this.

Here’s how you can turn a reader into a customer.

Let’s say someone stumbles on one of your blog posts.

They skim through it and like the content, but now what?

That won’t necessarily make them buy something, sign up for a subscription, or pay for some other service you’re offering.

However, they may be interested in reading more of posts in the future.

Rather than hoping they come back on their own, you can encourage this visitor to join your email list to get content delivered straight to their inbox.

Jeff Bullas does this with his blog:

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Jeff promotes his mailing list on the sidebar of his blog homepage and each individual blog post as well.

You can do this too.

Once you have their email address, you can do much more than just send them new blog posts.

If you have an ecommerce store, try sending some coupons to entice a sale.

Once you have the leads, proceed with all your winning email marketing campaigns.

But first, you have to get these people hooked with your initial blog post.

Promote your blog on other marketing channels

I consult with companies that struggle to manage their social media accounts all the time.

They recognize the importance of posting on a regular basis, but they’re not quite sure what to write.

Well, your blog gives you a great excuse to stay active on social media every day.

When your fans and followers see your brand on their timeline, it helps create awareness.

Even if they aren’t customers yet, the constant awareness can eventually help drive a sale.

For example, let’s say your company sells niche products such as camping equipment.

The consumer may not need what you’re selling the first time they see your business online.

But maybe six months down the line, they decide to plan a camping trip.

If you’ve been flooding their social media timeline over the last several months, your company will be fresh in their minds when it’s time for them to buy a tent or sleeping bag.

I use this strategy as well. Take a look at my Twitter account:

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I’m constantly promoting blog posts there.

This is also a great way to get new readers interested in your blog.

After they see a catchy headline on your Facebook or Twitter page, they will be more likely to join your email list, which we just discussed.

Use the comments section to facilitate a discussion

You’re making a big mistake if you don’t allow comments on your blog posts.

After someone reads your content, give them the opportunity to contribute to the conversation.

They may have some further insight to share, a personal story to tell, or a question to ask you.

It’s possible they disagree with some of your viewpoints and opinions on a topic as well.

That’s okay.

One of the best ways to encourage comments is by ending your blog posts with a question.

Make sure the question is related to the topic.

This will help reassure the reader you actually want to hear from them.

Respond to all the comments.

Here are some of the comments from a recent blog post I wrote about creating an actionable drip campaign:

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A couple of readers had questions that were related to their own websites.

It’s a great way for you to keep the reader engaged.

You can also offer a solution to these questions by suggesting certain products or services your company offers.

Readers may also have a discussion among themselves in the comments section.

I see that happen on my posts all the time as well.

It’s encouraging, and it shows that people are genuinely interested in the topics you’re writing about.

Be consistent

How often do you add a new blog post to your website?

When you first started off, you may have been trying to put out articles every day.

But as the weeks pass, I’ve seen some websites get discouraged if they aren’t seeing immediate results.

Generating leads through blogs takes time.

You won’t see a drastic increase in your traffic or bottom line overnight.

Slowly but surely, you’ll notice a difference—as long as you stay consistent.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say you post a new blog every day for a month.

You start to get some faithful readers.

But all of a sudden, you change your pattern and only post once a week.

Well, your regular audience is going to be disappointed if they visit your website and don’t see any fresh content.

When it comes to blogging, more is always better.

A recent study suggests that bloggers saw stronger results the more frequently they posted:

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Just make sure your quality doesn’t suffer.

You still need to write good content, or nobody is going to read it.

Publishing 20 articles per day doesn’t mean anything if all the posts are garbage.

Do what you can, but don’t overextend yourself.

If you’re just starting off, I think it’s reasonable to aim for one blog post per day.

See how that works for you and then go from there.

Write guest posts

You’re making a mistake if you’re turning down guest posting opportunities.

Look, I realize on the surface it may not sound very appealing.

I was skeptical about this too before I started guest posting.

It’s hard enough to put out content on your own website, why should you write for someone else for free?

Guest posting gives your brand great exposure.

Your content will be exposed to a new audience that may have never heard of you or your company.

You’ll also have plenty of chances to pitch your content and services throughout your post.

Websites will typically let you include a biography about you and your brand either before or after the article.

Take a look at this guest posting example from Crazy Egg:

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Daniel Threlfall is one of the co-founders of Launch Your Copy.

Contributing to Crazy Egg gave his company exposure and drove more traffic to his website.

Hyperlinks can drive traffic to your highest converting pages

I’ll continue with my last point.

Throughout the content of your blog, you have the chance to add hyperlinks.

If you’re writing a guest post, you can have several links to your website in each article.

You can apply this same strategy to the posts on your site as well.

As you can see from reading my posts, including this one, I do this all the time.

I use hyperlinks to cite all my sources, but I also use internal hyperlinks to drive traffic to other blog posts and landing pages.

Internal linking is also great for your Google search ranking.

Getting ranked higher on Google can help you generate more leads.

Let other bloggers contribute to your website

In addition to writing guest posts for other websites, you can also let other writers contribute to your blog.

Guest posts on your own site can give you a bit of a break.

You can still publish an article a day without having to do as much writing.

When someone else writes a guest post for your blog, they may promote it to their own readers and share the post on their platforms.

This will give a wider audience a reason to check out your blog.

They may initially come just to read their favorite writer’s post, but there’s a good possibility they will read your content as well.

Look at how HubSpot encourages people to contribute to its website:

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You can employ a similar strategy on your blog.

Plus, this could help you develop a relationship with other writers.

Maybe they will return the favor and let you write guest posts on their websites.

Just make sure their posts get approved before publishing.

You don’t want a guest writer to say anything that’s not aligned with your brand.

Even if you don’t write it, you are still associated with all the content on your website.

Encourage readers to share your content

If you’re a good writer, people will want to share your posts with their friends.

You want to make this as easy as possible for them.

All your posts should include social sharing icons.

Here’s what it looks like on my blog:

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Again, this exposes your brand to a new audience.

Getting your readers to promote your content for free is a huge win for your company.

People are much more likely to share a recent, relevant, and informative blog post than just a random link to your website.

It’s a great way to get new leads.

Conclusion

Every website needs a blog.

It’s one of my favorite ways to generate leads.

Offer exclusive content in your posts to get readers hooked and keep them engaged.

Try to use your blog as a platform to get more subscribers to your email list.

New blog posts give you a great excuse to post on your social media accounts and other marketing channels.

Stay engaged with your readers by continuing the discussion in the comments section.

You should try to write guest posts for other websites and allow other writers to contribute to your site as well.

Just make sure you’re consistent with the frequency of your posts.

Use hyperlinks to drive traffic to your highest converting landing pages and improve your Google search ranking.

Provide social sharing options on your blog to encourage readers to share your content with their friends.

These tips will help you write better blogs and generate more leads for your website.

How many blog posts does your website publish per week?



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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Facebook Giveaway: How to Run Contests on Facebook That Get More Email Subscribers

If you have heard that doing a Facebook giveaway is a great way to get more email subscribers and followers, then you heard right.

What I am going to share with you today goes beyond just theory.  I've run several contests on Facebook and gone through the trenches to learn how to do a giveaway on Facebook properly.

In fact, I'm going to share with you a very specific Facebook giveaway example that I just completed last week.  In a period of 7 days, I generated 626 email entry subscribers and made 16 product sales.  I'll share all the numbers and details below.

But more importantly, I will share with you step by step how to run a successful Facebook giveaway.  I truly believe that these results can be replicated in just about any niche, whether you have any kind of following or not.

What Results Can You Expect From Contests on Facebook?

Perhaps you've heard of others having huge success running contests on Facebook and Twitter.  I've heard of one guy generating 200,000 email subscribers in short period of time, but that's obviously an outlier.  I've also heard of people getting almost no results at all.

So, when you start planning your Facebook or Twitter contest, you should go in with realistic expectations.  You probably aren't going to add 100,000 fans and subscribers, but you should definitely be doing a lot more than zero if you follow my instructions.

I've had some promotions add several thousand new email entry subscribers, the one I ran last week added 626 email subscribers, 572 were new subscribers not on my list before.   I also generated $252.84 in revenue! 

The cost? Just $100. 

Before I show you step by step what I did and how you can do the same to run a giveaway on Facebook, I want to show some of the results.

I used a Facebook and Twitter giveaway app called Contest Domination to help me run the sweepstake.  Here's the results:

As you can see, we were able to get 626 leads, and 572 of those were new to our email list.  This really is a great way to get more email subscribers fast.

However, if you are smart, you will try to sell your products or generate revenue right away while these leads are hot.  We had an email series going out immediately when people registered for the sweepstake offering one of our products at a discount.

As a result, we sold 11 units as a direct result of this social media promotions campaign; which equates to $252.84.  We also made $5.95 from Amazon associates.  Every little bit helps!

So, in a nutshell, we spent $100 and generated $258.79 in revenue.  In addition, we have 572 new email subscribers on our email list.  I'll take adding hundreds of new email subscribers and making money any day of the week.

As a reminder, I think these results are pretty typical.  This isn't my best contest or my worst.

Here's a quick screenshot of a few other sweepstakes I've run on Facebook and Twitter, just so you can see the range of results I've gotten in terms of new email subscribers.  This stuff works…when done correctly!

Each line below is a different contest.  “All Leads” is the number of email subscribers.  (The 2 with only 4 direct visits were just tests, not real sweepstakes).

Now, let's dive into the meat of the subject, how to actually run a Facebook giveaway.

How to Run a Facebook Giveaway

Now that you know what kind of results you can expect, here are the step by step details you need to run your contest on Facebook.

Quick step by step reference guide for Facebook Contests:

  1. Decide what to giveaway.  
  2. Set up your landing pages and opt in forms.
  3. Pick the contest length.
  4. Write your auto-responder email series that will maximize revenue.
  5. Set up a promotions tool (like Contest Domination) to help you manage the process and gain more exposure.
  6. Write your Facebook ads.
  7. Select your target audience and interests on Facebook.
  8. Set your budget for the contest.
  9. Launch the contest with an email to your list, sharing on FB, Twitter, social media, and turning on your advertising campaign.
  10. Write a blog post or do other content marketing to maximize contest potential.
  11. Select a winner when the contest ends.
  12. Email everyone that didn't win and give them a special offer on the product they didn't win.
  13. Set up an email campaign for long term success.
  14. Repeat the process to grow your email list even more.

This is the exact process that I followed in my most recent promotions.  I know there are a ton of details in the 14 points above, so I below I'll share more details and depth on many of the points.

Deciding What to Giveaway in a Contest

Don't giveaway money or something that anyone in the world might want (like a phone or tablet).  Give something away that ONLY people in your niche are interested in.

The idea is to attract people that are interested in YOUR products and services.  If you giveaway gift cards to a place that just about anyone shops at, or money, or an iPad, you won't have a targeted audience at all.  Sure, you might end up with tons of people on your email list, but they probably don't care about what you sell, they just wanted something for free.

So, if you are in the Barbecue niche, giveaway something related to grilling.  Even better, give away a product you already sell.  The best way to attract interested buyers for your products and services is to giveaway your products and services.

For example, I own TableLabs.com.  If I were to run a contest, I would giveaway a lifetime copy of Table Labs.  This would only attract people that are actually interested in the software.  Then at the end of the contest, I would offer a special discount for Table Labs to anyone that didn't win.

Make sense?

Contest Landing Pages and Contest Length

If you are using Contest Domination or any other contest app or tool, then creating the landing page is pretty simple.  In general, you want one or two really nice pictures of the product that will be winning and a paragraph or two describing why the product is so great.  Think of it as a mini-salespage.

Then just have a button or opt in form where they can input their email to get a chance to win.

I personally feel like the contest length should typically be around 7 to 10 days.  We have run contests that have a timeline as long as 30 days.  I've just found that the excitement for many people tends to wear off after 10 days or so for a timeline.

Rather than run one long timeline contest for 30 days, why not run 3 different promotions for 10 days each?  Yes, you'll get some of the same people entering all of your contests, but that just fine.  This gives them more opportunities to share it with friends or on Twitter or other social media with each new contest.

Auto-responder Email Series

Your first email should thank them for entering the contest AND ask them to share it with their friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else.  This is where the magic starts to happen with tools like Contest Domination, because they can gain more entries the more they share it.  People are incentivized to share on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, because they are more likely to win the more they share.

Before the contest ends you can be emailing people every day, every other day, or whatever you are comfortable with.  But in general you should be reminding them to share the contest and also telling them about your brand story and what products you sell.

If done properly, you can have a 10 day email series that is generating sales or at least clicks to your affiliate website (if you don't have your own products) before the contest is even over.  Remember these “leads” are hot when they first get on your email list.  

If someone gets on your email list and they don't hear for you for 10 days (when they first join), they will probably forget who you are and unsubscribe.

Set Up Your Contest App

I happen to use Contest Domination for my contests.  I've known the founder, Travis Ketchum for a long time and even had him on my podcast.

However, it's very possible that there is a better Facebook giveaway app out there.  I personally haven't gone around looking at a bunch.  So, you absolutely do not have to use Contest Domination to make this work, there are other apps that can serve the same purpose.  I just happen to be familiar with Contest Domination.

In most tools, including the one I use, you can select from a template and process.  As you can see below, there is a template landing page (which I used), then an email a friend page, then a social share page (Twitter, FB, etc) that people see when they enter the contest.

In Contest Domination, you can easily set up the first email that people get to include their personalized contest links (so they get points properly when it's shared).  You can also adjust the number of points that people get when they generate unique referrals, etc.

Once you have everything set up on the “back end” you can start preparing your Facebook ads.

Facebook Ads, Target Audience, and Contest Budget

You don't have to run Facebook ads for your contest, but it can certainly help.  If you don't have a very large following, you should likely plan on spending a little bit of money to get the ball rolling.

Remember, you don't have to spend alot.  I just spent $100 and got 572 new email subscribers.

You have a couple of options when deciding how to run your Facebook ads.  You can set up a traditional ad campaign, or you can just boost a Facebook post to get more people to submit entry.  For my Facebook giveaway, I chose to simply boost a post.

Here's what our boosted Facebook post said to launch the contest (feel free to use this as a template if you want): 

Want a FREE (enter product name here)? For our new contest, we are giving away one of the top selling (insert product name) absolutely free!

 

All you have to do is enter your email address to enter the drawing.

 

And it even gets better! You can increase your chances of winning our top selling (product name) for referring others, sharing on Facebook, or other social shares.

The contest ends at midnight on (enter date)! Submit your entry today, so you can be fully equipped to hit the trails in the dark.

Enter the giveaway here: (Insert Your Contest Landing Page Link Here)

As you can see, it's pretty simple and to the point.  But if you are targeting the right people on Facebook, they would LOVE to submit an entry for your free stuff!

Which brings me to targeting.  Be sure to target those people that are most likely to be interested in buying your products.  You don't want to go so broad that you start paying for people to click on your ads that you never really wanted on your email list in the first place.  You are on a limited budget, so use it wisely.

I only spent $100 on my latest campaign in order to “test the waters”.  Since it worked so well, I plan to spend more money on the next one.  You can do something similar.  If $50 is all you can start with, that's fine.  If you have $500 to try things out and then ramp up from there, go for it.

Launch Your Contest Where You Have Influence

Now that you have launched your contest on Facebook through a boosted post or regular ad campaign, you should mention it wherever you have influence.

For example, if you have a blog in your niche, consider writing a blog post about it.  If you already have an email list, then definitely send an email or two to your list about possibly entry.  In addition, be sure to post the contest on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, or other social media channels that you might be involved with.

If you want to go the extra mile and find other content marketing opportunities, leveraging other people's audiences can work really well.

How to Pick a Winner of Your Facebook Giveaway

If you aren't using any software tools, then picking a prize winner could be a difficult process.  You might have to resort to spreadsheets and random number generators.

However, if you are using a tool like Contest Domination (or others) then the software does all the heavy lifting for you.  The official rules of the contest would have been established ahead of time, so the person with the most shares and referrals has the highest chances of winning, but really anyone could win the prize.

The official rules are laid out for all potential entrants to see.  These promotion guidelines are important to have so there is no dispute when you announce the grand prize winner.  

All you do is click the “winner” button and it tells you who won, what their email address is, and you can view all their referral stats.

Important Emails Once the Contest is Over

Once the contest ends is when you start to make money.  As soon as you pick the prize winner, you should send out a blast email to everyone that entered the contest and announce the winner.  

Oh and be sure to send the winner the product they won!  There is no online contest scam here, you really are giving away a product for free.

However, you don't reveal the name of the winner in the email that goes to all entrants. You say something like, “We just picked the winner for our contest, to see if you won, CLICK HERE.”

That way, everyone clicks on that link that takes them to a page that does 2 things: 1. Lists the name of the winner and 2. Is a salespage trying to sell the product you just gave away at a discount.

Remember, if you followed the steps I described above for targeting the right audience only, then these people are very interested in what you are offering.  They might be a little sad that they didn't win, but they will be happy to see that product is now offered at a discount that they can take advantage of.

I did a contest and then immediate discount offer (like I just explained) a couple of years ago for Long Tail Pro (a software business I used to own).  I don't remember the exact numbers, but that one contest and subsequent special offer generated well over $20,000 in revenue.  However, there are lots of reasons why this worked so well that may not apply to every contest.

In my most recent contest, I was able to generate 11 direct product sales and a few more affiliate sales as part of my special offer.  The total revenue was about $280.

If you are wondering about the affiliate sales, it was pretty simple.  On the contest winner announcement page / salespage, I linked to my own product on Amazon with an affiliate link.  So, when people bought my product at a discount that I was offering, I also got the affiliate commission.

If you are an Amazon affiliate trying to build an email list, you could do the same thing.  

Finally, sending out regular emails becomes important once the contest is over.  You need to either have a long term autoresponder campaign set up, or stay on top of sending regular emails to your list to keep them acquainted with you and ready to buy your products when you make the right offer.

Remember, the biggest benefit of doing a contest is to collect warm email leads, so don't forget to continually nurture them once the contest is over.

Additional Facebook Contest Ideas

What I've described above is a fairly straight forward way to gain entrants into your contest.  Depending on your niche, you could get more creative like doing a photo contest, asking for user-generated content, or even doing something surrounding holidays (like Valentine's day). 

In fact, if you want to increase your chances of something going viral, you can consider doing some sort of survey where you ask entrants to vote for their favorite product or brand.  If you can generate some sort of competition between users and their opinions with your marketing promotions, you can increase the odds that your fans will share.

Frequently Asked Questions Related to Facebook Contests

In my research for my own giveaways and for writing this article, I've run across a few questions that people are asking across the web that I want to attempt to answer.

  1. Where can I get Facebook fans?  Yes, running a contest is also a great way to generate more Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram fans.  While it's nice to have more fans, I personally think it's better to have them on an email list.  But a Facebook giveaway can help do both.
  2. How do I create a promotion on Facebook?  If you use one of the contest apps I mentioned above, it's pretty simple.  If you want to do it on your own, you can try this app, but I've never used it and don't know of any reviews about it.
  3. Is it illegal to host a fake giveaway?  Yes.  Don't do that.
  4. Can a Facebook contest be integrated with an Amazon book giveaway?  Sure!  You can simply offer up a free copy of the Amazon book as the prize and then run the contest as described above.
  5. I started a giveaway but nobody entered?  That's probably because you didn't share it across social media channels or spend a little bit on advertising as described above.

I'm sure there are plenty more questions that will come up, but that should be good enough for now.

Your Thoughts

Overall, I've shared some of the best practices I've learned for starting and launching Facebook giveaway campaigns that can help grow your email list fast.  When I look at the results, I often wonder why people don't do this more often.

If you have any additional questions or thoughts, I'd love to hear from you in the comment section below.

The post Facebook Giveaway: How to Run Contests on Facebook That Get More Email Subscribers appeared first on Niche Pursuits.



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How to Write an Actionable Email Newsletter

Every business needs an email marketing strategy.

You constantly need to try to grow your subscriber list so you can engage more and more customers.

But what kind of content should you be sending to the people on your email list?

Currently, you may be focusing on coupons and other promotions.

That’s great.

But you can take your email marketing strategy one step further by adding newsletters to your arsenal.

Some of you may already be emailing newsletters to your subscribers.

However, if you’re not writing actionable newsletters, these messages could be doing more harm than good.

Subscribers want to hear from you. That’s why they joined your list.

But they don’t want spam, nonsense, or anything else that wastes their time.

If you’re sending newsletters just because you haven’t contacted your subscribers in a while, it’s not an effective strategy.

Fortunately for you, I’m an expert in this space.

Whether you’ve never sent a newsletter or need help improving your current approach, I can show you how to write newsletters that convert.

It’s all about eliciting specific actions from the recipient.

Here’s what you need to know.

Make sure you’re emailing subscribers who actually want to hear from you

People won’t open your messages if they didn’t sign up for your emails.

That’s why I recommend creating a double opt-in process for new subscribers.

Take a look at how this affects your open rates:

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You might have a huge list of subscribers.

But that doesn’t mean anything if they’re not reading your content.

Getting your subscribers to open your message is the first step.

That’s why you need to seed your lists with people genuinely interested in your brand.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend buying subscribers.

Only contact those people who signed up for your newsletter.

How often have you received an unwanted email from a company?

For argument’s sake, let’s pretend this message doesn’t go to your spam folder and you actually open it.

Maybe you’ll even skim through some of the content, which is even more of a stretch if you’re not a subscriber.

Are you going to follow through with whatever action they’re asking you to complete?

I doubt it.

Well, then you can’t expect recipients of your newsletter to follow your instructions if they never opted in to receive it in the first place.

Give your subscribers options when they are signing up.

Here’s a great example from HubSpot:

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HubSpot lets their subscribers decide whether they want to receive messages on a daily or weekly basis.

If customers want to hear from you every day, give them what they want.

These people are more engaged with your brand and will be more likely to act in response to your newsletter.

Start with a clear goal in mind

Why are you sending a newsletter?

You should be able to answer this question for each message you send.

With coupons or promotional campaigns, this question is a little bit easier to answer.

But newsletters usually have an underlying message within the content.

Stick to one goal per newsletter.

Including too much information in your message will confuse the reader.

Here are some popular examples of actionable goals:

  • getting downloads
  • selling something
  • driving traffic to a landing page
  • promoting an event
  • subscribers sharing content with friends or family

Here’s a great newsletter from General Assembly:

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Right off the bat, it’s clear what the goal of this message is.

They are trying to promote an event in Boston, MA.

The newsletter shows the date of the event and has an option for the recipient to RSVP.

This goal is consistent throughout the entire newsletter.

General Assembly doesn’t try to promote products, get downloads, or drive traffic to their website.

Instead, they continue providing more information about the event.

image3 5

It’s an effective newsletter.

The message won’t confuse the reader, and the goal is apparent throughout the entire message.

In this case, the action is clear.

They want subscribers to come to their event.

It was successful because they started with a goal.

Don’t overlook the subject line

I see people make this mistake all the time.

They take their time to write awesome content for their newsletter, but then come up with a subject line in 2 seconds.

It ends up being something boring like:

  • June Newsletter
  • Weekly Update
  • A Message From Company XYZ

Boring.

Nobody is going to open that.

As I said before when I talked about only emailing subscribers who want to hear from you, the newsletter is useless if the message doesn’t get opened.

A strong and actionable subject line is arguably more important than the content within your message.

This data shows just how important email subject lines really are:

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Based on this information, your newsletter might even get marked as spam before the recipient has a chance to read it.

Come up with a subject line that generates curiosity.

Hint at a topic or question that may get answered if the message gets opened.

Including information about news or recent topics in the subject line is another great way to generate opens for your newsletter.

Make sure your timing is spot on.

Nobody wants to hear about news that broke last week.

About 40% of Americans get their news from online platforms.

If your subject line is highly relevant to something current, your subscribers will want to open it.

Be personal

Approach your newsletters the same way you approach promotional messages in terms of personalization.

Continuing with my last point, you can even use this tactic in the subject line.

In fact, personalized subject lines increase open rates by 50%.

Clearly, it’s an effective approach.

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But don’t stop at the subject line.

You can personalize your newsletter by addressing the recipient by their first name.

Use the first person perspective when writing so your subscribers know exactly from whom the message is.

Your personal email address should be displayed in the sender’s field.

Always sign newsletters with your name.

It will give the message a personalized touch.

But remember, you’re trying to get the recipient to act, e.g., to click.

Recent data shows that personalized newsletters improve both click-through and conversion rates.

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Another way to get more engagement through personalized content is by segmenting your email lists.

Not every recipient should get the same newsletter.

As you saw with the HubSpot example earlier, you can segment lists based on delivery frequency.

But you can take this idea one step further and segment the content as well.

For example, let’s say you have a website that sells sporting goods.

Your newsletter could cover various topics based on different sports.

When a subscriber opts in to receive your newsletter, you can have them select which sports they want to hear about.

That way, your newsletters that cover golf or swimming topics won’t get sent to someone who would rather read about snowboarding and mountain biking.

Your subscribers are much more likely to act if they’re interested in the content.

Have a clear call to action (CTA)

Your CTA should align with the goal you set for your newsletter.

If you want subscribers to download something, make sure the CTA directs them accordingly.

Refer back to the example I used earlier with the General Assembly newsletter.

They were promoting an event. Their CTA was a link through which subscribers could RSVP to that event.

Here’s another great example from Litmus:

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This newsletter is promoting an email checklist guide.

Rather than including the checklist within the content, they embedded a downloadable link as the CTA.

Be professional

Just like everything else associated with your name and brand, your newsletters need to be professional.

It’s OK to write in a conversational tone, but I recommend staying away from slang and profanity.

In some circumstances, it could be acceptable, depending on the image of your company. But it’s definitely safer to avoid this approach.

You also need to check your newsletter for spelling and grammar mistakes and typos.

If your newsletter has lots of errors, your subscribers won’t think you care about your company.

Don’t rush through this procedure.

Have an editing process.

You can even run newsletters through an editing software like Grammarly to assist you with this.

Here’s another editing tip.

After I’m done writing something, I read it out loud.

I find it’s easier to catch mistakes or poorly written sentences when I’m speaking as opposed to reading.

Depending on who writes your newsletter, you could even have the content checked by another set of eyes before it gets sent out to your subscribers.

Tell a story

I’ve said before you can increase sales by mastering the art of storytelling.

Apply those storytelling skills to your newsletter.

Stories are a great marketing tactic because they are a source of entertainment.

Nobody wants to read a boring newsletter, so talk about something exciting.

Look at the positive impact storytelling has on conversion rates for B2B and B2C companies:

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What kind of story should you tell?

Get creative.

You can tell your own or someone else’s story.

It all depends on your goal and the tone of your newsletter.

As I said earlier, you want your content to be relevant to your subscribers’ needs or current times.

If you have some sort of breaking news to discuss, write an engaging story instead of just stating facts.

This will captivate your audience and increase the chances of eliciting the desired response from them.

Conclusion

Newsletters are a great way for any company to engage and connect with their customers.

For starters, make sure you’re only contacting people who want to hear from you.

But if your message doesn’t have a purpose, your recipients won’t respond in a way you would like them to.

That’s why for every newsletter, set a clear goal before you start writing.

This will keep you on track so the rest of your content, including the CTA, focuses on this goal.

Nobody will read your message if they don’t open it.

Your subject line is just as important as the rest of your newsletter.

Your newsletter should be personalized based on the topic and delivery frequency.

Make sure your newsletter doesn’t have any spelling or grammar issues. It’s OK if you want to be conversational, but keep it professional.

Stories are one of my favorite ways to capture the attention of an audience.

Follow these tips, and you will increase the rate of desired responses from your newsletter subscribers.

How often do you send newsletters to the people on your email lists?



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Monday, January 15, 2018

How to Boost Revenue by Optimizing the Customer Experience

The customer is always right.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before as the golden rule of business.

But what this rule doesn’t encompass is the customer experience.

The saying should be:

always put the customer first.

You may have certain operations and practices in place to make things easy and cost-effective for your company, but how does this impact the customer journey?

If you’re saving a few bucks or some extra time at the expense of the customer experience, it’ll backfire.

Instead, everything you do needs to center around creating an optimal customer experience.

You think about your business 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. But the reality is, your customers have more important things to worry about.

Their time is valuable.

They want to give you money, but not if it’s going to take too much time out of their day.

You need to simplify your conversion processes. Start focusing on making everything as easy as possible for the customer.

These are some of the short and long-term benefits of improving the customer experience:

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Here’s the thing.

You may be an expert in digital marketing tactics.

But driving customers to your business through marketing channels, like your website, social media platform, and email marketing tactics, is only half the battle.

Once you get people through your doors or to your landing page, their experience from that point on will determine how much money they’ll spend at your business.

In this post, I’ll explain how you can boost your revenue by focusing on the customer experience.

Offer multiple customer support options

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a minute.

Think about some of the reasons why they would need to contact your customer support teams.

Perhaps, they:

  • had a problem
  • have a question
  • need help
  • have a comment, suggestion, or complaint.

For the most part, these reasons tell us your customer is having a negative experience doing something.

Who knows how much time they spent trying to resolve it on their own before reaching out to a representative from your company.

It’s safe to say they could be pretty frustrated.

You need to give them lots of options to reach a customer service representative.

While receiving phone calls from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, may be the easiest and most cost-efficient solution for your company, that doesn’t work for all your customers.

This is how consumers want to reach customer support:

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As you can see from the data, the answers are all over the board.

Most customers prefer phone; others like web chats or email; and some want automated responses.

Some customers don’t even care—they just want to get in touch with someone.

The process needs to be:

  • quick
  • friendly
  • effective.

I’m sure you’ve been through this before.

You call a customer service number just to wait on hold for what seems like an eternity.

When someone finally answers the phone, you explain your situation, and they transfer you to another department.

You wait on hold again and have to re-explain everything to another person.

This is not effective.

If this sounds like your customer support process, it’s definitely hurting your bottom line.

Adding multiple support options that deliver fast service will keep your customers happy, especially if they were experiencing some frustration before they reached out.

Now you won’t have to worry about losing that customer.

Make sure your entire staff prioritize customer service

Customer service starts at the top of the chain.

As a business owner, you need to realize that your attitude about customer service will impact how your managers and supervisors approach the topic.

This is true even if you’re not the one who has direct contact with the customers.

Whether you’re a small local business or global chain, every member of your staff needs to understand the importance of customer service.

One bad experience with a part-time employee can deter someone from ever spending money at your company again.

Take a look at what consumers value the most when it comes to customer service:

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The majority of these options involve your staff.

I realize it’s not easy to run a business.

Depending on the size of your company, you may not even know the names of every employee.

That’s why it’s important to create a company culture in which poor customer service is not tolerated.

Little things can go a long way.

If your customers have face-to-face interactions with your staff, make sure your staff are trained to smile and greet customers as they come through the door.

If your staff act like they want to be there, the customers will pick up on that energy.

But if your customer service representatives are giving off the impression they don’t care, the customer won’t be happy.

You can’t afford to lose any customers.

Your website needs to have clean navigation

How often do you work on optimizing your website?

If you built your site when you first started your business and never touched it again, I’m willing to bet it could use some improvements.

The highest converting websites have one thing in common.

Simplicity.

Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.

Don’t overwhelm your visitors.

If you have a variety of flashing lights, buttons, menus, advertisements, and images, you confuse your site visitors.

Make sure you don’t have many long paragraphs or messy text on your website.

Your text should be large and easy to read.

Replace anything that’s messy with a couple of high quality visuals.

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Visual explanations are easier for people to comprehend and retain.

Design your website so that the visitor’s eyes and attention get drawn to your CTA buttons.

For those of you with an ecommerce website, don’t try to fit 1,000 products on your home page.

Instead, focus on your top selling items or the ones with the highest margins.

In a perfect world, those products are the same.

Your navigation menu shouldn’t be complicated either.

For example, let’s say you’re selling clothing.

Don’t have options like this on your menu:

  • long sleeve shirts
  • sweaters
  • light sweaters
  • knit sweaters
  • sweatshirts
  • hoodless sweatshirts
  • fleece sweaters

Instead, have one category: “Tops.”

Have a search menu to give people an option to look for products directly instead of using your menu.

You can offer options to refine their search based on subcategories.

When it’s easy for customers to find what they want on your website, there’s a greater chance they’ll spend money.

Each page on your site must load fast

In addition to a simple website design, your site needs to load fast.

I’m not just talking about your home page. Every page needs to be quick.

Look at how much of an impact page loading time has on conversions:

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Websites that load slowly convert less. It’s that simple.

Remember what I said earlier? Your customers’ time is valuable.

If your website is crashing or not loading fast enough, people won’t put up with it.

They’ll visit one of your competitors’ websites instead to find what they’re looking for.

Not sure how fast your site loads?

Use some free online tools like the Pingdom website speed test.

You can check how fast your site loads from different locations across the globe.

If your site isn’t loading fast, figure out the root of the problem.

It’s possible you might need to upgrade your existing web hosting service plan or change providers.

While this may cost you more money, it will improve the customer experience and generate more revenue in the long run.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

Focus on mobile users

You need to accommodate customers using various devices to access your website and make purchases.

It’s essential your site is mobile friendly.

You could also create an app for your brand for an even more optimal user experience.

Take a look at how mobile phones are trending in terms of web traffic:

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Half of the global web traffic now comes from mobile devices.

That number will only continue to rise.

While mobile phones trend up, laptop and desktop devices are trending down.

Realize this is how your customers are consuming data.

Don’t neglect your customers who like to shop and navigate online from their smartphones.

Consumers love phones because they are convenient.

Doesn’t it seem like cell phones are glued to everyone’s hands, wherever you go?

If your customer wants something, it’s easier for them to do it from their phone instead of waiting until they are in front of a computer.

You’re missing out on revenue if your site isn’t mobile optimized.

Let’s look at the impact of a mobile-friendly website on consumer buying behavior:

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This is extremely important for anyone who has an ecommerce store.

But even if you’re not selling physical products online, you still need to give your customers easy access to find information about your business from their phones.

Ultimately, this will lead to higher conversion rates.

Offer discounts, promotions, and rewards

Everyone wants a deal.

Some luxury brands can get away with never putting anything on sale, but if you’re trying to compete with the majority of the market share, I wouldn’t recommend that strategy.

Give your customers an incentive to buy from you instead of your competition.

It’s rare for a brand to offer a product that can’t be found elsewhere.

Most likely, your competitors have similar products, and in some cases, they’re selling the exact same thing.

Customers aren’t stupid.

They’re going to do some research before they buy something.

More often than not, they’ll pick the least expensive option.

Retailers are much more likely to make a sale if they offer a discount or promotional code:

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Let’s take a look at Shopify.

They are a major ecommerce brand with merchants selling different types of products.

Over the last year, 17% of all sales on their platform had a discount code in the transaction.

I’m not saying you need to give everything away.

Don’t discount in a way that will hurt your bottom line.

Alternatively, offer a rewards program to your customers: when they spend a certain amount over a period time, they get some sort of benefit.

They’ll feel satisfied after they reach a certain status level, which will keep them happy.

It’ll also encourage them to spend more money.

That’s why I recommend implementing this strategy to improve the customer experience.

Improve your checkout process

Go through each step of your checkout process.

How many different ways can customers make a purchase?

That includes:

  • from your website
  • through a mobile application
  • in a physical store location.

Whether you have one or more of these options, the checkout process needs to be as easy as possible.

If you have an ecommerce website, are you noticing an increase in shopping cart abandonment?

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Look at the top three reasons on this list.

After extra costs, the second and third top reasons have to do with a checkout process that’s not optimized.

You shouldn’t force your customers to create an online account just to make a purchase.

Why?

It’s too long.

Imagine this. Your customer wants to buy something. They’ve made a decision about their purchase.

Don’t give them an excuse to back out.

The checkout procedure should ideally be just a few clicks.

Don’t ask for too much information. Just get the essentials.

With every additional step in your checkout process, you risk losing the sale.

Again, your customers’ time is valuable.

You’ll get higher conversions and make more money if you don’t waste their time.

Conclusion

You need to focus your business operations on optimizing the customer experience.

These changes may not always be the most convenient and cost-effective for your company, but they’re necessary.

Prove to your customers you value their patronage and time by making things as easy as possible for them.

When it comes to customer support, give them as many options as possible to contact a representative.

Make sure every person on your staff realizes how important their attitude is when it comes to handling customer service inquiries.

Your website should have a clean navigation, and every page needs to load fast.

Don’t forget about mobile users.

Offer discounts, rewards, and other promotions.

Simplify your checkout process to make it easy for customers to buy something without having to provide much information.

Follow these tips if you want to generate more revenue from happy customers.

What have you changed on your website to optimize the customer experience?



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Friday, January 12, 2018

How to Write Blog Post Introductions That Make the Rest of Your Post Irresistible

How many people are actually reading your blog posts?

It is reported 43% of readers say they skim through posts.

If you want people to consume the content you’re writing, get them hooked during the introduction.

Take a second to think about the goal of each article you publish.

Are you just trying to get page views?

I see businesses and bloggers make this mistake all the time.

They’re happy just to get page views on their blogs and don’t care whether people are reading them.

But that strategy is very inefficient.

Yes, getting people to click on your post is half the battle.

You need to take the proper steps to market it correctly and promote it through all your distribution channels.

Your blog is the perfect opportunity to promote more content associated with your website or brand and engage with your readers.

But this can’t happen if they don’t actually read it.

You could be getting even more clicks and page views by utilizing internal links throughout your post.

Maybe you can make some money by including some affiliate links as well.

Here’s something else to consider.

How long does it take you to write each post?

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As you can see from the data, the average blog post takes over three hours to write.

That number is steadily on the rise, so you can expect it to take you even more time in the future.

It’d be a shame for all that hard work to get skimmed over and not read.

As an experienced blog writer and expert in this industry, I know what it takes to write successful posts.

It all starts with the introduction—literally.

I’ll show you how to write blog post introductions that capture the attention of your readers and get them to read your entire post.

Start with a strong hook

The hook is the opening line of your introduction, and you have a few options to consider.

Your hook could be a full sentence, single word, question, or phrase.

In case you forgot, I’ll remind you I got your attention in this post by starting it with a question.

After you come up with a winning opening line, you need to lead the reader into a transition.

The transition line or lines should provide some sort of clarification about the direction and content of your article.

Your content should be relatable, and the intro should reflect that.

Include a somewhat obvious statement that will get your readers to agree with you.

Speak directly to the reader. Talk about a situation they might be in that brought them to your post in the first place.

Address their problem, which you’ll eventually offer a solution to.

But keep it general—you don’t want to narrow it down too much and alienate the rest of your audience.

Here is a recent blog post I wrote about customer acquisition strategies as an example:

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Let’s break this down:

Sentence A is an obvious statement the reader can agree with.

Sentence B is a transition to show what the post is going to cover.

Sentence C is addressing a problem the reader might be having.

Sentence D speaks directly to the audience.

Remember, you want to keep these points general enough to reach a wide audience but specific enough to make the reader feel you’re speaking directly to their situation.

Look back at a little trick I used in the example above.

First I said “new businesses,” but a couple of lines later, I said “companies that have been in business for a while.”

This covers all my bases and speaks to the majority of possible readers.

Include facts to back up your claims

If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you know I like to include lots of statistics and data to back up what I’m saying.

I do this throughout my posts, but I include it in the introduction too if it fits.

Scroll back up to the top of this post to see what I mean.

Including recent data from high quality and reputable sources shows you’re credible.

The reader will know that while you may be giving your opinion or taking a certain stance on a topic, you’re at least showing facts to support it.

This sets up the rest of your blog post.

If you’ve got statistics in the introduction, the reader can assume you’ll include additional facts throughout the rest of the content (which you should).

Numbers, in general, seem to speak to people.

Before you can get someone to read your introduction, you need to get them to click on your post in the first place.

Take a look at the starting headlines of the most engaging blog posts:

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Half of the top 20 headlines start with a number.

You can capture the attention of a reader with numbers in your headline, then draw them in even further with statistical information in your introduction.

You don’t have to wait to add images

As you can see, I’m a huge advocate of using pictures, graphs, infographics, and other images throughout blog posts.

It’s a great way to break up your content and make it easier for readers to skim through—a very common way for people to read blog posts.

But that doesn’t mean you need to wait until the middle of your post to start including images.

I’m not saying you need to put a picture after your opening line, but you can absolutely use photos in your introduction.

You can even add a photo to separate the title and the first line of your introduction.

Here’s an example of how I implemented this strategy on my blog.

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Notice the opening lines of my introduction here as well.

It fits the criteria of hooking the reader with a question, which I discussed above.

I used an image earlier in this post. It’s a visual representation of the amount of time it takes people to write a blog post, also making a point that you’re wasting time if nobody is reading it.

We just talked about the importance of using data in your introductions, which is why I used a statistical graph earlier.

Blogs with relevant images have 94% more views than posts with just text.

That number is astonishing.

It shows people want illustrations of points they are reading about.

Don’t make them wait. Give them what they want right away, and add an image to your introductions.

Be direct, but don’t give it all away

There’s a certain art to this.

You don’t want to talk in circles during your introduction.

Make direct statements.

But you also don’t want to sum up your entire article either.

I’ve had bloggers tell me they write the body of their content first, then go back and sum it up in the introduction.

I don’t agree with that strategy.

Your introduction shouldn’t serve the same purpose as the executive summary of a business plan.

It should signal what the rest of the post is about to get people to read the whole thing.

Save your summary for the concluding paragraphs.

Instead, try to hint at what’s to come.

Tease the reader to pique their curiosity.

Let’s look at an example.

Here’s a snippet from the introduction of a blog post discussing whether mobile app developers should launch their apps on the Apple or Android platform first:

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Look at how the author sets this up.

They do a fantastic job of stimulating curiosity.

The three underlined sentences all basically say the developer needs to decide between Apple and Android.

But right before the introduction ends, the author throws a tease, saying there is a way to launch on both platforms at the same time—without giving the answer of how to do it.

It’s implied the solution will be offered in the post, so the viewer will have to continue reading if they want to find out what to do.

You can implement the same technique in your introductions.

Bring up a topic the reader wants to learn about, saying something like “but we’ll get to that later on.”

It’s more effective than saying “this is how you do X, Y, and Z.”

Now the reader has no reason to continue because they already have all the information they came for.

Preview your introductions when you’re promoting the content

Think about how you’re driving readers to your blog.

Are you sending out a link that includes only the title?

Add the beginning of your introduction to these promotions as well.

Take a look at how Conversion XL does this with their Facebook posts:

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The opening lines of the introduction can entice their Facebook followers to click on the article.

It’s more effective than using the title only.

If you visit their website, they do the same thing here:

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Now they’ve included even more of the introduction.

The reader has seen enough now to be intrigued to continue reading the entire article.

This strategy illustrates the points we discussed earlier: a strong opening hook, piquing curiosity.

I recommend using this method whenever you’re emailing your post to subscribers as well.

The preview text can give them that extra incentive to click on the full article and read the entire post.

Write a long introduction, but not too long

You shouldn’t feel restricted while you’re writing an introduction.

Choose your words carefully, but don’t think your intro needs to be limited to just a few lines or a paragraph.

Write.

While the opening few lines may be the most important, you can still hook the reader with the rest of your introduction.

Talk about your personal experience, and explain what qualifies you to be an expert on a particular topic.

Nobody wants to hear about ways to start a business from scratch from someone who has never done it before.

If you’ve been part of ten successful startup companies, now is your chance to brag about it (if it’s relevant to the topic).

Your blog posts should be long.

Take a look at how the length of your post impacts social shares:

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Aim for at least 2,000 words on every blog post, but try to get over 2,500 if you can.

The word count also affects your search ranking on Google’s algorithm.

You’re limiting yourself if you keep the introduction to just 50 words.

It’ll be much more difficult for you to reach the desired word count that way.

Don’t be afraid to write an introduction that’s up to 300 words, but don’t ramble for 500 words.

I’d say, all your intros should be at least 150 words or so.

Conclusion

Driving traffic to your blog is great, but it’s not enough.

To fully engage with your audience and promote more content, you should be trying to get people to read through your entire blog posts.

After all, you spend so much time and effort writing them. Why let all of that meaty content go to waste?

While it’s inevitable that people will skim through your posts, your introduction can entice them to read more.

Start off with a strong hook. Get your readers to agree with your stance on the topic.

Speak directly to them by explaining a scenario or problem they may be currently experiencing.

Use data to show your blogs are informative and credible.

You can include an image in your introduction as well.

Let readers know what the rest of the post will discuss, and hint at a solution without giving the answer.

This will stimulate their curiosity and get more people to continue reading.

Preview your introductions when you’re promoting blogs on your website, social media pages, email campaigns, or any other distribution channel.

Don’t be afraid to write a long introduction.

Follow these tips, and you’ll increase the number of people who actually read your blogs.

What hooks do you use in an introduction to capture the attention of your readers?



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