Does this age old sales adage sound familiar?
It’s been a salesperson’s creed for many decades, and fortunately for buyers, it is fading away, however not quickly enough!
I’m sure you can rattle off at least 3-4 “old school” industries that still employ this aging dinosaur of a sales method.
Why is it dying? The sales landscape today is drastically changing.
Consumers don’t need to rely on fast talking, bad tie wearing, used-car-like salespeople.
Because the speed of communication and the accessibility of information: i.e The Internet.
Back then when we had to rely on salespeople, they were there to educate, because information wasn’t widely available.
Today consumers self educate…at the speed of web content creation.
Today, the sales paradigm has shifted.
Instead of messages being screamed at consumers with a hope that they will have a need, today’s consumers search when they actually have the need.
It’s a concept known as inbound marketing. It’s also known as content marketing and it’s changing marketing as we know it.
If the internet is the new wild west, then inbound and content marketing is the new sheriff in town.
It’s also changed the rules of who can compete. No longer do big business and big wallets rule the roost. Today, individuals and small businesses are staking their claim along side the big boys and succeeding.
How do I know this?
Because I’ve built a small business website into one of the largest B2B custom sign and graphics websites on the net today. Oh by the way, in the worst economy since the Great Depression and with tons of competition.
Why do I tell you this? It’s not to brag. I tell you this as an example of the success any small business owner can have with inbound marketing. If I can do it, anyone can. I didn’t have a computer science degree, a brother-in-law who does website design and dabbles with SEO, or more importantly an internal or external marketing department. What I have is a passion and motivation to build my business, and to help people to succeed.
A-list bloggers also have this passion and motivation. Their posts are brimming with the stuff. But what’s truly magical about their websites it that they get it. Whether they realize it or not, the A-listers are experts at inbound and content marketing. For them, it’s not “always be closing”, it’s “always be creating, converting, cultivating, communicating, and checking”. These are the 5 website secrets of A-list bloggers. Let me break it down for you in more detail.
Always Be Creating
A-list bloggers are always creating content, and not just any type of content; they create compelling content. They create content that is screaming to be read; an aspiring writer’s dream.
For some A-listers, they post a couple blog articles a week, and for others it is practically daily. In either case, it is just the fact that their websites are always in motion, and constantly expanding. As I’ve written about on many occasions, the search engines love new content, and every page of new content is another lottery ticket to page one of the search results.
The thing that I’ve also really taken notice to is that their content is much less keyword and SEO driven than being content and topic driven. When it comes to small business blogging I would say that the reverse occurs. The focus is much more on on-page SEO best practices such as keyword inclusion in the title tags, URL, meta’s and such. For the A-listers, they might not rank for a particular high-traffic search term, but their content is so compelling on a consistent basis that they draw thousands of visitors to their websites, week in and week out.
Example: Danny Brown. Danny’s blog content is a very smart look at all things marketing, social media and public relations.
Key Takeaway: Post at least two articles per week that are really something worth writing about.
Always Be Converting
Traffic is great, but leads are better, right? Unfortunately this is probably the largest area of opportunity for the thousands of websites I’ve visited. The problem is the “always be closing” mentality. The only contact these sites offer is for when the visitor is ready to purchase or request a quote. That is “bass ackwards” in the age of consumer self education. There are statistics that show only 2% of website visitors are there to purchase or ask to be contacted. So what about the other 98% of visits???
Websites that do this right, especially A-listers, are always offering at least one call-to-action offer, but typically more than one. The idea behind this offer is a mutual exchange between site and visitor. The visitor is in search of education and the website is offering some type of premium, or also known as “freemium” educational content. That content is exchanged for the visitor’s email address. From this a conversion and website lead are born.
At a minimum, the call-to-action offer might be signing up for a weekly newsletter or other type of email marketing communication. Advanced versions of a call-to-action offer might include a whitepaper, e-book or guide.
Example: Mark Schaefer’s Businesses Grow blog. Mark has an outstanding blog, and some top notch offers on his site!
Key Takeaway: Always include at least one call-to-action offer on your website, and especially on each of your blog articles.
Always Be Cultivating
To cultivate is to grow. It is also to nurture and foster. In the case of highly successful business websites and A-list bloggers, it is the use of lead nurturing and email autoresponders to nurture the relationship with leads. The main goal being to help a lead down from the top of the sales funnel, where the lead realizes that they have a problem to be solved. Then through the middle of the funnel, where the lead recognizes the need for a solution, and finally the bottom of the funnel, where they are ready to buy.
This type of cultivation is accomplished with a series of emails that are custom tailored to the initial content-email exchange. Some popular software programs which include this feature are Infusionsoft, Hubspot, Aweber, Mailchimp and many other email marketing programs.
Example: Kate Buck at KBJ Online. Kate is an excellent marketer and really knows how to engage and foster relationships.
Key Takeaway: Use a lead nurturing autoresponder campaign to help automate the process of consumer self education.
Always Be A Community
If there is one aspect of content marketing that I’ve recently realized that is a huge, if not the largest reason for A-list blogging success, it is their sense of community. It’s that they truly care about their readers.
They write to help their readers. Every post is founded upon the idea of helping someone, and not just to be a self serving monologue.
They write to help other bloggers. You’ll find that the bulk of the links in their posts are not pointed towards their own material, but rather another blogger which they are reading and enjoying.
They respond to all blog comments. The key here is that not only do they respond to comments, but they actually take the time to get to know the person behind the comment, and respond with a meaningful thought.
Example: Marcus Sheridan, aka The Sales Lion. Marcus embodies community like no other blogger I know or have read. He’s been a true mentor for me in this area.
Key Takeaway: Think of who and how you can help someone with every article idea, and every comment posted.
Always Be Checking
What good would any of this be if we weren’t monitoring the results. Which articles really touched your readers? Which were duds? Why were they duds? Which calls-to-action are converting and which aren’t? Which lead nurturing emails are getting the highest click through rates? Are you testing and measuring the results by A/B testing your call-t0-action buttons and landing pages to maximize your conversions?
Those are just some of the website analytics that the most successful small business and A-list bloggers are checking. They know how important it is to growing their community. Look at it this way. If your email list is made up of 10,000 people, a 10% improvement would mean another 1,000. What if you grew that list to 100,000 with a 10% improvement? 10,000 more is nothing to shake a stick at!
Example: Derek Halpern’s Social Triggers. Derek is a true master of tracking and testing for maximizing conversions.
Key Takeaway: Always test and measure your results.
The Bottom Line of A-List Blogging Success
If I were to name one more secret that would tie together all the other website success secrets, it would be CONSISTENCY. The unfortunate fact of blogging is that most people give up before the third month. They write a few posts, don’t get the desired results, and call it a day.
Consistency is doing all of the above, even when there are no readers or traffic to your site.
Consistency is continuing to do the right things when you start to see a hint of traffic and conversions.
Lastly, consistency is not forgetting where you came from when success kicks in, traffic is through the roof, and your list is growing fast!
If you were to self-reflect on your website, how would you grade yourself on using these strategies? I would also love to hear your thoughts about this site, what you like and what you think might be improved upon.