Truth be told, most blogs aren't really optimized for marketing effectiveness. Even more so, some blogs are absolute marketing machines, but they at the same time fail to fully capitalize on that fact by not being really optimized marketing-wise.
Blogs may be Web 2.0, but bloggers should not ignore some of the good old internet direct marketing tactics that have been working for marketers online almost for a decade or more.
Here are the absolute 101 basics you really shouldn't ignore . . .
1. DON'T FORGET E-MAIL DELIVERY
Bloggers are often abandoning or completely ignoring e-mail as a tool to deliver their content to their readers. As an RSS evangelist I certainly believe in using RSS to get your content to the world, but only as a supplement to e-mail delivery.
While RSS provides us with many unique benefits, it is yet to reach mainstream adoption. Until it does, marketers and publishers should not even consider abandoning e-mail delivery, or risk ignoring most of their potential readership.
If you're still wondering why you need e-mail, consider the potential you might be wasting without it. Someone visits your blog, likes the content and would like to be notified as new content of interest becomes available, and he does not know what RSS is or even care. If you fail to capture his e-mail address and consent at that exact moment, he might never again return to your site, either because he forgets about it or because dozens of other sites capture his interest even before the next day.
2. E-ZINE PUBLISHING IS STILL A MUST
Publishing a blog is not a replacement for an e-zine. If nothing else, publish a weekly or monthly e-zine of your top blog posts, available in a single easy-to-consume format.
Some simply do not have the time to watch your blog regularly and others will only want to receive a quick summary to get only your best and most crucial content. Publishing an e-mail e-zine will do that for you, giving you the opportunity to communicate with the widest possible long-term audience for your blog.
3. E-MAIL AND RSS SUBSCRIPTIONS
Providing e-mail (e-zine) and RSS subscriptions is important to the success of any blog. But neither of these will do you much good if your visitors don't actually see them and if you don't give them enough incentive to subscribe.
Foremost, display your e-mail e-zine and RSS subscriptions information at the top of your blog, instead of somewhere far down where no one will see them.
And second, use enticing copy to get visitors to subscribe. Briefly explain the benefits of subscribing, what kind of content they can expect to receive, and also do not forget about your privacy disclaimer, calming potential subscribers that you will never abuse their personal information.
4. EXPLAIN RSS
Most internet users still do not know what RSS is or how to use it, and consequently the RSS buttons on your blog mean absolutely nothing to them.
To overcome this problem, create a special RSS presentation page and link to it next to the RSS subscribe button. On that page explain:
- What RSS is
- How the visitor will benefit from using RSS
- Where they can get a free RSS aggregator (recommend one yourself!)
- How they can install it (provide step-by-step instructions)
- How they can subscribe to your RSS feeds
- Why they should subscribe to your own RSS feeds
Then, on this same page, include the links to all of your RSS feeds.
5. TOP CONTENT
If you update your blog frequently, your less recent top content keeps being pushed down and down, where most of your blog readers will never bother to look for it.
Overcome this frequent blog problem by creating a list of your top posts, clearly displayed and available from each of your pages. Depending on the topic you cover, you might want to place these headlines as close to the top of your blog as possible, in order to quickly entice your new visitors to start reading the best of what you have to offer and then use this content to convert them to loyal readers and subscribers.
6. THE HEADLINE
The site or blog headline will tell your visitors what to expect from reading your blog and will answer their key question: “What's in it for me?"
Make sure that your blog headlines gives this reason and the story inviting enough for your readers to keep reading.
7. LEAD YOUR VISITORS TO YOUR MDA
MDA is the Most Desired Action you want your visitors to take on your site, ranging from a subscription to your e-zine to requesting more information about your services or ordering your product / getting more information about it.
Your blog will be of great help in this area, but only if you actually lead your visitors to this action. Putting this information in your menu simply is not enough.
Experiment putting some copy for your MDA directly below each blog post (on your permanent blog post archives pages) and also prominently in your left- or right-hand columns.
If you're providing multiple services or products, promote each of them next to the appropriate posts, based on post topics.
And yes, this is more important than having dozens of Google AdSense ads on your blog . . . if you want to use your blog as part of your marketing mix.
8. LOOK DIFFERENT
Blogs are usually not heavily designed and most of them look exactly the same. While light design is one of the positive sides of blogs, you should invest some effort in making your blog stand-out visually. Don't cram it with design, but still make sure it's different than every other blog in the market.
9. USE YOUR OWN DOMAIN
Having a subdomain. typepad.com type sub-domain might be the easiest choice, but don't forget that your domain name is your permanent online address and part of your online brand.
Consequently, invest a couple of dollars to get your own domain name, to enforce your brand, as well as making it easier for your readers to access your blog.
10. DON'T FORGET YOUR KEYWORDS
What keywords do you want your content and blog to be found under in the search engines?
Don't forget to implement these keywords in the titles and body content of your blog posts. I'm not saying you should write your posts to please the search engines, but at least keep them in mind and use them when possible, without taking anything away from the actual content.
11. INTERACT WITH YOUR READERS
If you're blogging for business, don't forget about business oriented reader interaction.
Mainly, solicit questions from your readers, pertaining to your field of expertise, and then respond to them via your blog. Post interesting client case studies. When you get a review, post it or link to it. And so on . . .
12. BLOG SPECIFIC PROMOTIONAL TACTICS 101
a] Intensively market your RSS feeds
b] Ping the search engines and directories after you update your blog, using a free service such as http://www.pingomatic.com
13. DON'T FORGET ABOUT THE CONTENT
And of course, none of the above won't make any difference at all if you don't provide high-quality, interesting and frequent content.
These 13 points are of course only the most basic stuff, but enough to help you get on the marketing optimization train.
Copyright 2005 Rok Hrastnik
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