Social Media Marketing

What I’ve Learned From Writing 600 Blog Posts

This is it, Out-Smarts 600th blog post. I started this blog back in 2006 on the old Outsmarts Sales and Marketing website with the goal of using the medium to:Typing 600th post

  1. to establish expertise (having just made the shift to focus solely on social media and online marketing) and;
  2. to share my knowledge of the Internet and with other entrepreneurs and small businesses.

It has been almost 8 years and quite the rollercoaster ride. A lot has changed for blog technology, social media as well as the way we do business in general. The first Out-Smarts blog post was titled Why Companies Should Blog and most of the content that first blog post is still appropriate today though. I’ve learnt a lot along the way; my blogging style has evolved, and I’ve discovered that a blog has many uses, not just branding and sharing.

Here are a few of the takeaways from my 600 blog posts.

1. Blogging is a labour of love – when I started out I regularly blogged several times a week and would recommend that clients do the same. These days I blog less and believe that quality trumps quantity. If you have time to write only one blog post a month, make it count.

2. The more you blog, the more visitors your site will get. This seems like a juxtaposition to point 1 above, and it is. Yes, if you blog more often you will get more traffic but, and this is a big BUT, you have to ask: is it the traffic you want? Are you attracting your target audience? Back when we blogged more frequently here, we got more visitors to the site but the traffic was less targeted, so our conversion rates on the website were lower, and bounce rate was higher. It wasn’t helping us reach our strategic goals.

3. Content should be unique and interesting (or some say outrageous) and it should add value to your audience. There is so much noise out there that it is hard to get attention, but you have to balance your brand and authenticity with the need to get noticed. Sex and sensationalism sell but what does it say about you or your firm – it might be great for Gawker but is it right for you?

10 Tips for Creating Authentic Blog Headlines that Drive Clicks

4. Finding blog inspiration can be a challenge. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and write for them not for you. Ask yourself what you know that you can share that will be useful or stimulating for them. Find inspiration in your day to day activities. Read an interesting article that you found inspirational? Blog about it. Someone asked you an excellent question. Share the answer with your followers.

5. Make it easy for people to share your content and make your content attractive so that people will want to share it. Social media makes it easy for your readers to share your content. Make it even easier for them by adding widgets to your site so that people can quickly click to share where ever they wish to do so.

6. We live in a content marketing world. Today’s marketing mantra seems to be ‘the more you give away for free, the more you get back’. But that isn’t always the case. For small business generating free content has to be a balance, don’t make the mistake of spending so much time creating and giving away content that you don’t have time for revenue generating activities.

Inspired Blogging – 10 Tips To Get The Blog Juice Flowing

7. You don’t have to have a blog to take advantage of blogging. Blogs are a great way to learn and be inspired too. By reading the right blogs it can go a long way to helping you stay abreast of developments in your industry or location.

8. Your blog can be used as a central repository of information so that when people ask you a question you can easily point them in the right direction if you have the answer. It is also a useful tool to engage online with people that you meet in real life. For example, I teach regular education sessions at Small Business BC and will often mention specific blog posts that go into more detail about the topic I am discussing. This enables students to connect easily with the blog during or after the event.

9. Don’t just share once, share often. Share your blog posts often and across your different social platforms at various times in order to reach more people.

To this day, people who are thinking about doing business with Out-Smarts will check out our blog.  I believe we’ve done a great job in establishing our expertise here and as for sharing our knowledge, the blog has been a great vehicle to allow us to do so. 600 blog posts seem like a lot but looking back it was truly a time well invested. Here’s to 600 more!

Read more of our blog posts about blogging.

Easy Things You Can Do To Make Your Site Rank Higher

Design and development aren’t the only things you need to factor when launching your small business website. It is very important in the design and development phase to consider optimizing your site so that it is more likely to be found by your target audience when they search on Google.

Here are some simple SEO pointers I shared with a client recently to help his WordPress website rank higher – I thought you might be interested in too:

1. Each page on your website including your blog posts should have a META Title Description and one keyword in the META – you can use as many keywords as you like in the content just don’t use them overly repetitively.

In order for you to rank more highly for that keyword in Google search your keyword should be contained:

  • The in the URL of the page
  • In the headings on the page
  •  In the content of the page (less than 6%) rather than repeating the keyword too often you can use other secondary keywords.
  • In the META Title – Should be less than 60 characters in the format: [Company Name | Short Description of page]. The description should  include keyword you have identified as the one most likely to get you the most targeted traffic.
  • The META Description which should be less than 160 characters and should tell people what you do and who for with a call to action i.e. find out more / sign up now.

2. Use the All in One SEO Plugin to add the META Titles and Descriptions to our WordPress site – you add them by going to each page separately and scrolling to the bottom where it allows you to enter your META ‘Title”, ‘Description’ and keyword. All in One SEO has a red, amber, green light system that helps you to visually determine whether your SEO ducks line up.

3. Brainstorm, research keywords and use your knowledge of the industry to come up with words that people would use to find you. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Use Google to try out different terms and see what the results are. Come up with a list of a few words for each page. Check in on Google Webmaster and Analytics to see what words people are using to search and find you and include those on the list too. Use Google Analytics Keyword Tools to research keyword volume and competition based on PPC data and Trends to track trends over time. You are aiming to have a main keyword (which will be used in each area outlined in 1 above) as well as secondary relevant keywords that you can incorporate into your content on the pages of your site.

Need help with SEO? It’s what we do. Call 604 909 3532 to see if we might be a good fit.

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10 Tips To Create Authentic Blog Headlines that Drive Clicks

I was watching the Daily Show the other night – maybe you saw it too – there was a segment about journalism  (and side boobs…) that intersected journalism students and their idea of what headlines are best with a guy from Gawker sharing his experience of what drives click online. The students were using traditional approaches using headlines that actually described the content of the article but were a little boring whilst the Gawker guy was all in for the sex and sensationalism sells even if the titles had little reflection on the content.

It got me thinking about blogging and how challenging it can be to come up with blog titles that are short, sweet and compel people to click whilst at the same time representative of what the article is about.

There a a tonne of things we have to think about when coming up with a good blog title. We have to juggle grabbing attention with making it authentic all within the boundaries of SEO and search limitations. And then I found this great infographic on the Hubspot blog originated from Quick Sprout.:

To encapsulate the things you need to consider for crafting great headlines (I’ve added a couple too): Capture

1. Make them concise and upbeat – keep your titles short so that they look good when people find them via Google search

2. The perfect length for a headline is 6 words – less word = more likelihood of retention

3. The first word and last words count the most so make them stand out.

4. Speak directly to your audience and make it personal.

5. Include adjectives that are interesting such as effortless, strange, essential.

6. Use negative wording – I am not a big fan of this as I see too much manipulation through negativity online.

7. Use numbers rather than words like using 10 tips in the title rather than Ten.

8. Go the extra mile – make it intriguing. The example used on the infographic is 15 Ways to Study (9 is a must!).

9. Formula: Trigger Word or Number + Interesting Adjective + Keyword + Promise – a lot to fit in to a title!

10. This one is mine: Once you have a great headline stick it in a Google search to see if other bloggers have used it. You are aiming for something unique but with all of the content online it’s hard to achieve, if it is though you can get a windfall of clicks.

 

Out-Smarts E Manifesto

In view of the new legislation coming into law soon, I would like to personally share Out-Smarts E-Manifesto with you so that you understand our commitment to you in these our electronic communications.

Out-Smarts E Manifesto

1. Out-Smarts builds business on trust and relationships – not by using slimy sales tactics – we don’t cold call nor do we send spam and we never will.

2. Out-Smarts is committed to adding value and providing Internet and social media marketing information that you can take and apply for yourself.  All newsletter communication from us will be educational and NEVER aimed at selling you something you don’t want.

2. Out-Smarts values your privacy and will never share your contact email with third parties or anyone else – unless you specifically ask us to (in writing)!

3. Out-Smarts newsletters will continue to be infrequent (4 per year or fewer) and we will never bombard you with content you don’t need or want.

4. All newsletter communications will contain a mechanism allowing you to easily unsubscribe at any time (usually in both the header and the footer).

5. We will never send you unsolicited communications via text, SMS, IM or Direct Messages on social networks. Promise!

You have my word.

Mhairi Petrovic

 

11 Tips For Staying CASL (Canadian Anti Spam Legislation) Compliant – Small Businesses

With the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation just days away from becoming the law, here are 12 tips to help you get opt ins and to remain email compliant. If in any doubt or you have any questions, consult a lawyer.

1. Sort your lists – if you already have an opt in process then those contacts on the list that have opted in (either on your website or through filling out a form) don’t need to re opt in. Remember to keep track of them. The rest do, so get ready to send out a communication to those you have implied consent from to get them to give you express consent.

2. There are several exemptions rules such as family members who don’t not need to opt in.  Read this post. If your business is as a political party or charity then you are exempt from the rules too.

3. Make sure that your opt in email and all further communications include:outsmart_bizcard

    • clear unsubscribe links so that people can remove themselves from the list easily and at any time
    • your name, company name and address
    • an outline of why they are receiving your communication

4. After you have send out your opt-in email, you have to remove the people from your list that don’t opt in so make sure you have accounted for this in your email process and that you are easily able to track. Most newsletter tools like MailChimp facilitate this although there are varying degrees of easiness in doing so. Delete those that don’t opt in so that you never, ever contact them again.

5. Put in place processes to help you track future subscribers both online and off. This should include having a double opt in when people subscribe via your website (this is not mandatory but more of a safety net just in case). In person you should create a template that states clearly what people are signing up for then have them fill out their contact info to be added.

6. You can’t collect email addresses at trade shows any more and simply add them to your newsletter and you shouldn’t anyway because it’s rather a slimy tactic.  Instead have people fill out a form that states clearly that they are subscribing. There are also apps like Chimpedeedo that facilitate this.  We haven’t use these so if you have please share your take.

outsmart_handshake7. If you have a subscription opt widget in on your website make sure it is worded right so that peope know exactly what they are subscribing to. Remember the double opt in for this too.

8. Each newsletter or communication you send should state clearly why you are sending and have an easy to unsuscribe link preferably right at the top. Again most newsletter providers make this easy for you to do.

9. Get consent from people in real life – you can’t just add someone to your list because you met them at a networking event.  Verbal consent is okay but it is hard to prove so a good idea might be to get new contacts to write newsletter subscribe on the back of their cards. Make sure and keep them in a file though just in case.

10.  Never harvest or buy email email addresses. EVER. This is cheap and tacky and says exactly that about your brand. Who wants to do business with someone or some company they can’t trust from the get go?

11. Add value rather than overtly selling. No one likes to be inundated with emails that have the sole purpose of selling your products or services in a cheap and nasty way so instead why not find creative ways to add value for your recipients and tell them something valuable that they don’t already know.  Get creative.

Related posts:

What is CASL and why you need to know.

When is it okay to make contact Electronically – CASL

 

When Is It Okay to Make Contact Electronically – CASL (Canadian Ant Spam Legislation)

Canadian Anti Spam Legislation comes into force on July 1st. After this date you will no longer be able to send electronic communication via Email, SMS, Social Media or IMS (basically any electronic communication means) and could face hefty fines if you do so unless they fall under the following:

CASL Recipient ExemptionsSend - Slider

  • you are sending  to people you have personal relationships with such as a close friend, family member (not everyone who likes you on Facebook though!)
  • you are sending to employees or contractors
  • recipients are business partners or service providers
  • they are current clients who have ongoing business with you
  • if a customer has contacted you in the last 6 months – then it is okay to reply
  • they are someone  you have a legal issue with
  • if the recipient is out with Canada – there are 116 exempted countries
  • charities and not surprisingly, political parties are exempt (some of the worst offenders in my mind!)
  • if your communication is about a safety issue, warranty or recall pertaining to your products and services
  • if your communication is providing information about an account, product use, subscription or ongoing business relationship
  • if you are a digital firm providing updates or patches to users then you are good to contact them
  • if you have been referred – but remember to make it clear who you are, why you are contacting them and who referred you

Related Posts:

http://www.out-smarts.com/casl-need-know/

What is CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) and Why You Need to Know

New Canadian Anti Spam laws come into effect on July the 1st 2014.  These changes affect us all or at least anyone with an inbox and especially those with a small business.  The legislation is aimed at reducing the amount of electronic spam we get and with fines upwards of $1m for non compliance (individuals) and $10m (companies), everyone who cares is scrambling to meet the deadline – you’ve probably already received a flurry of emails asking you to opt in.

Personally, I use Gmail which does a fine job of filtering out spam. I don’t expect that the laws will do anything to deter those who have no standards.

3313850_thumbnailMost small businesses have been going about building their email lists and communicating electronically in reputable ways for years. These are the companies that will be impacted by this change in the law, their lists, which, for the most part, have been built reputably, will be decimated and not only will they lose this investment they will also be faced with having to invest more in order to track their compliance and in having to find new ways to prospect.

One great things about the new law though is that it is forcing us to rethink our digital marketing best practises and that can’t be all bad – there’s always room for improvement.

We all hate spam and we all want to stay on the right side of the law so here’s a quick guideline about what CASL is and why you need to know. It is the first in a series of posts we will be making in the lead up to the July 1st deadline so watch this space for more.  And remember, we’re not lawyers so you should get a second opinion from a qualified individual if necessary.

What is CASL

Bill C28 introduces sweeping measure to deter electronic spam. The act applies to all communications sent by Canadian companies, to Canadian companies or messages simply routed through Canadian servers. This includes any electronic message sent by email, SMS, Mobile, IM and social media.

Who Needs to Know

If you have an inbox or your communicate electronically you need to know about this. Basically this means you!

In a Nutshell

As of July 1st you could face huge fines if you communicate electronically with anyone in Canada who hasn’t given you explicit consent to do so. The law does not apply if you are sending out with the country nor does it apply to charities.

What Is Consent

There are 2 types of consent: a) express and b) implied. Express is the one that is important and if you don’t have it you basically have to get those who implied consent to opt in to having you communicate to them

Express Consent

Consent can be obtained either in writing or orally. In either case, the onus is on the person who is sending the message to prove they have obtained consent to send the message. In order to obtain express concept, you have to contact them before the deadline to encourage them to opt in. Your communication has to be written in a way that makes it clear what they are consenting to and should include:

  • Your name

  • Company name

  • Company address

  • Company website

  • Company phone number

  • Company postal address

 CASL Resources you might find useful:

Government of Canada CASL Site

Reminding Businesses about Anti-Spam Laws in Canada

Is Your Business or Charity Prepared for the New Anti-Spam Law

Social Media 101: A Crash Course for Senior Communicators

Workshop alert!  IABC Logo

What can social media mean for your business?

How can you leverage the tools to effectively engage your stakeholders?

Can social media really be measured?

We are thrilled to be teaming up with International Association of Business Communicators BC Chapter to present Social Media 101, a three hour interactive workshop that will provide participants with the knowledge, tools and skills to answer the following:

  • What is social media
  • How to use it from an internet marketing perspective
  • How to use it to engage internal and external audiences
  • How to effectively use the various tools
  • How to measure and manage success, and
  • How to translate the terminology of social media into business terms

Whether you feel you’ve missed the boat on social media, want to formalize your self-taught skills or brush up on a few areas, don’t miss this great opportunity!

Thursday, May 15, 2014
Sutton Place Hotel (Chateau Belair room)
9am – 12pm

Workshop Fees:

Member rate: $110 / Non-Member rate: $120 / Student rate: $50
Register early before this event sells out! Space is limited.

 

 

 

Social Media 101: A Crash Course for Senior Communicators

Thursday, May 15, 2014
Sutton Place Hotel (Chateau Belair room)
9am – 12pm

What can social media mean for your business? How can you leverage the tools to effectively engage your stakeholders? Can social media really be measured?

May 15, 2014, IABC is thrilled to host Social Media 101, a three hour interactive workshop that will provide participants with the knowledge, tools and skills to answer the following:

  • What is social media
  • How to use it from an internet marketing perspective
  • How to use it to engage internal and external audiences
  • How to effectively use the various tools
  • How to measure and manage success, and
  • How to translate the terminology of social media into business terms

Whether you feel you’ve missed the boat on social media, want to formalize your self-taught skills or brush up on a few areas, don’t miss this great opportunity!

Workshop Fees:

Member rate: $110 / Non-Member rate: $120 / Student rate: $50
Register early before this event sells out! Space is limited.

 

 

 

– See more at: http://iabc.bc.ca/events/social-media-101-crash-senior-communicators/#sthash.O2LGbEfc.dpuf

Facebook Wall – #GetReal

Facebook can be a great place for small businesses to build community, loyalty and awareness. It can even level the playing field with larger competitors. It is important to remember, when using Facebook for your small business, not to hide behind your wall or try to make your business out to be something it isn’t. Be authentic, transparent and genuine – get out from behind your wall from time to time because the best online presences are those that reflect, augment and intertwine with your everyday functions.Slide1

 

Willis Turner – Out-Smarts Podcast 37

unnamedIn this latest Out-Smarts podcast I talk with Willis Turner, CAE CME CSE, President & Chief Executive Officer of USA based Sales & Marketing Executives International, founder and CEO of Old Clayburn Marketing & Management Services Inc and Executive Editor of the 42 Rules Series.

Willis does a fantastic job of using social media in innovative ways to build his personal brand, his business and he uses it to reflect and augment reality by sharing his adventures. As a road warrior, his posts are always engaging, unique and fresh. Listen as he shares his unique perspective on online corporate bullying too.

Thanks Willis!


Willis has gained international recognition for spearheading worldwide membership and professional certification growth as the P., a full service association management firm, and is Executive Director of the SME Foundation for Marketing Education. As a speaker on professional certification, business ethics and leading edge sales and marketing topics, Willis leverages his worldwide business travel experiences to convey an informative and motivating message to his audiences. He also volunteers in many capacities. Willis is President of Certified Marketing & Sales Professionals Association. He has served as a member of Kaplan University Advisory Board (USA) and serves on the National Advisory Board for DECA Inc. Willis has taught Sales Management at the University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business. He resides near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada with his wife of 30 years.