Archives for October 2012

Blog Topics for Small Businesses

Many small businesses have blogs to go along with their more traditional websites. A business blog is a great way to connect with your current or would-be customers. Blogs are seemingly a dime a dozen. There are blogs that cover every topic from food and cooking to news and beyond. So how can your business set its blog apart from so many other business blogs out there? Hot Blogging Topics

The answer is, by choosing interesting and informative topics to blog about. Is it possible that every topic that your blog covers will be completely unique? Probably not. It’s very difficult to come up with topics that have never been touched in the blog-o-sphere before. However, you can overcome this by choosing topics that are relevant to your company or clientele and putting your own spin on them.

Here are some ideas for great small business blog topics:

Current events as they relate to your company and your target audience. Covering relevant current events in your industry, whether local news or national news, and adding your own take on the situation can draw in readers. If you have customers who love your company, odds are that they share similar opinions on things that are going on in the world. They may be interested in what you or the company “voice” has to say about current events.

Giving your clients company insight is another great way to draw attention to your blog. Who doesn’t want to feel like an insider when it comes to their favorite business or product? Most people love to get information or insight about what goes on behind the scenes. Some great ways to do this would be to spotlight a particular product or service and go further in-depth about how that company is able to offer it. Also, having other members of the company blog that readers would not normally expect to see – such as the CEO – can make readers feel like they are seeing further into the business than they ordinarily would.

Offering a Q&A to blog readers makes your blog more interactive and therefore draws more eyes. Asking your readers to submit questions ahead of time is the best tactic for this kind of post. This way, your blog writers and/or editors can sift through the questions and choose the ones that are the most relevant to answer. You could certainly host a live Q&A session via blog comments, but this can put blog writers in a bad spot if irrelevant or offensive questions are posed. Another way to approach this would be to have the blog writer come up with some frequently asked questions to answer.

Featuring guest bloggers from other, similar companies or related industries is a great way to draw in new readers to your blog. Not only will the guest post offer a fresh perspective to your regular readers, the guest blogger may bring their own regular readers to your blog. Swapping guest posts (you blog for them as well) with other bloggers can make the relationship beneficial to everyone involved. The Chamber blog is a good example of how bringing on guest bloggers can offer different areas of expertise to readers.

It is important if you choose to have a blog for your business, to make sure that you address relevant, interesting, and informative topics. It’s also a great idea to make sure that your blog is updated often – two to three times per week or more. This will keep your readers checking back often in order to find new content.

Megan Totka

Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business resources for the most reliable small business directory online. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and their local Chambers of Commerce anywhere in the world.

What User Friendly Websites Consist Of

User Friendliness is one of the most important factors of building a highly successful website, no matter what niche you’re in. The term user friendly is often sounds so simple to people, but in reality this one task can be very unforgiving if you don’t get it just perfect. You’ll be aware of your user friendliness by the bounce on your site. Of course this means that you need to be sure to have analytics set up, so you can see exactly where your trouble spots are. Someone can always be hired to watch and report any trouble areas as business increases. So however you get it done, user friendliness is the place to start when building any business online.

Friendly Site Navigation

Since the beginning of the internet, people have been gathering research that reveals where the best  place would be for certain navigation on your site. This is determined by how the traffic interacts and flows through your site; through a series of studies like heat maps.

Studies show that one of the most accepted places for webmasters to place navigation menus is vertically on the far left handed side, and directly under your header stretching all the way across your site horizontally. The main area to avoid is the right handed side. There are exceptions to every rule, however for the most part, people feel more comfortable with the navigation on the left.

The right hand side of your website can be for anything else you want, even extra navigation. This really only applies if you have a three column website, due to your content being surrounded by the navigation and whatever you decide to place on the right side.

White Space

If you know anything about design or have ever been to an art class, you’ve probably heard of what is called white space. When you’re creating a website, one thing you can do to increase user friendliness is to maximize white space. This refers to making your site as open or uncluttered as possible. The most common mistake is putting up an excess of ads.  

Agreed, you want to get paid, and ads do the job. However; keep in mind readers aren’t there to be showered with ads the whole duration of their visit. This makes it seem like they are being pressured into something they originally had no interest in.

Keep the white space relevant to the amount of content you have. A lot of content means more white space because it gives your traffic resting points so they’re not overwhelmed. Less content means less white space to keep them on track. The downside of less content would be they lose interest faster. The downside to having more content is the reader may get distracted easier before they finish.  So finding that perfect balance of website space and content is vital.

Uniqueness

There are times where being unique literally trumps all. It is EXTREMELY rare, but possible only if you have definitive proof your product, content, or website will be accepted. This is not a recommended way to look at your first website, only go this route if you’ve been in the game many years, or have that definite proof. Perfect example as we all know by now, Facebook. Literally revolutionary to the online world, but also a MAJOR gamble.

Content

You probably are wondering why I’m mentioning content, but if you’ve ever tried to quickly browse a website that lists it’s top 10 articles of its blog on the homepage; you’ll understand why creating a unique title that is both descriptive and SEO optimized would be highly important.

Your content is just as important for your users because, the parts of the content that need special attention are the subheadings and titles of any content you have. For example: on your home page, your navigation again should be very obvious and stand out; do this with big headings or stylized backgrounds. On your blog or inner pages, have the separation of your content clearly defined with either H2 or H3 HTML tags.

Conclusion

When it comes to user friendliness you’ll be much happier if you integrate the tactics mentioned above. When people like what they are seeing as well as reading, and they can move through your site with ease; the more apt they will be to pass it on, thus pushing your popularity even higher.

Written by HomeNetPro We understand how important it is to have a user friendly environment for your readers, that’s why we’re dedicated to bringing you the most legitimate information through our totally redesigned work from home blog.

What Is The Virtuous Marketing Circle?

Image by Gavin Llewellyn.

I imagine that most of you will have heard of the concept of a ‘vicious circle’, those horrible situations where one thing going wrong leads to another, and every mistake compounds the first one.

I’m assuming most of you have also heard of the phrase ‘virtuous circle’, where everything turns out  for the best and feeds into the first awesome thing you did.

In terms of marketing, virtuous circles are very important, but with all the focus commercial marketing places on one-shot campaigns, client briefs and new opportunities, in can be hard to retain sight of these all-important virtuous marketing circles.

I think this is a mistake.

 

So How Do I Get A Virtuous Circle Started?

There’s no one way to start a virtuous circle, but there are a lot of methods that are easier and more reliable.

Human relationships are the best examples of virtuous circles outside marketing, so it stands to reason that they’re also awesome within that world.

I say something interesting to you, so you’re happy, and you say something interesting back in the comments section (hint hint!), and we keep adding knowledge to each other until we’ve come up with a complete system for world (marketing) domination!

Reaching out to important bloggers for marketing purposes means you’ve built a relationship just like that, but many marketers move on once they’ve got some PR, or a link, from their targeted influencer. Mistake!

To sustain a virtuous circle, you have to keep offering value to the relationship. Make sure that they think of you as an ally, or even better, a friend. How? By acting friendly! Simple, right?

What you get in return is a constant stream of positive mentions and feeling, with relatively little effort on your part.

 

Use Multiple Platforms

One of the coolest ways of generating and sustaining a virtuous marketing circle is using multiple platforms.

If your client lacks credibility as a thought leader, you might promote them on one social media platform, for instance. If it gets a good reaction there, you can use that as instant evidence of your client’s credibility on a separate social media platform, and another, and another – and then talk about the positive reaction on the first platform all over again!

Once people are talking about them, others will start to blog about and link to your client. Free PR. Once people are blogging about and linking to your client, you can promote these blogs even more on social media, building relationships and maintaining a constant source of goodwill on the internet.

It’s almost more of a virtuous snowball than a virtuous circle, as opportunities in one area of a campaign improve your ability to exploit opportunities elsewhere. Make the most out of it!

 

Be Creative!

Almost every area of marketing has links to some other area that can be exploited. Email marketing can be tied to social campaigns, social campaigns into search engine optimisation, and optimisation into fiddling with checkout processes, conversion rates and usability studies.

With almost everything feeding into almost everything else, it’s child’s play to generate a situation where your email marketing ends up promoting your PR, which feeds your blog, which feeds your email newsletter!

Virtuous marketing circles are everywhere, you just have to start looking for them.

James Duval writes about marketing for Strategy Internet Marketing, who are a digital marketing agency based in Bristol offering Pay on Results SEO and CRO packages.