Category Archives: Content Marketing

5 Ways to Prepare for the Holiday Marketing Season

For many businesses, the holidays are make-or-break. Retailers, in particular, depend on a brisk holiday shopping season to reach their annual revenue goals. To ensure a successful season, it’s vital to execute a sound marketing plan—and the time to start is now.

Remember that the holiday shopping season really begins on November 1—which isn’t that far away! You don’t want to be scrambling to get your affairs in order at the last minute, so take some time to prepare for the holiday marketing season today. Here are five steps we recommend.

Plan Your Promotions

Before you do anything else, get a good sense of what you’ll be promoting this year—and how. Make a list of any particular products you want to focus on, and decide what kinds of discounts or special offers you can afford. Also think about special promotions, whether that’s a Cyber Monday sale of a free-shipping offer that extends through the end of the year.

Decide when you’re going to schedule these promotions—when you’ll announce them, and how long they’ll last. Put it all on your calendar. This is a critical first step before you start producing any marketing collateral.

Build Marketing Emails

Once you decide what your seasonal promotions will be, you can start building marketing emails to announce them.

There’s a lot of work that goes into email marketing—choosing templates, uploading images, and writing body text. Again, you don’t want to be doing this at the last minute. Pick your promotions and start developing your marketing emails today. (Our content marketing team is happy to assist with this.)

Create Landing Pages

As you promote special offers—whether through email, PPC, or some other channel—you’ll want to provide your customers with an offer-specific, conversion-oriented landing page where they can complete their transaction.

In other words, if you send out an email promoting a certain product, you want to send traffic to a page that’s all about that product—not just to your company home page.

These landing pages require some build-out, so start today. Remember to keep landing page copy brief and value-focused. Again, the Grammar Chic team can help!

Spruce Up Your Website

Hopefully, this marketing activity will result in a big traffic spike—so make sure your website looks its best. Some quick tips:

  • Audit your site for accessibility issues, such as broken links, and make the necessary repairs.
  • Run some speed tests to be sure your site loads quickly across all platforms and devices.
  • Look for any content opportunities—for instance, product guides or tutorials, tied to the products you’re promoting this holiday season.

Create Marketing Collateral

One more thing you can start doing today to prepare for holiday shoppers: Develop the creative materials you’ll require for seasonal promotions. We mentioned marketing emails already, but also consider product- or offer-specific blog posts, video guides, Web content additions, graphics, banners, and more.

The time to start preparing for a successful holiday marketing campaign is now—and our team can help. Ask us more about our expertise in developing marketing emails, blog posts, landing pages, and beyond. Contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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Online Marketing for Real Estate Agents – Tips & Tricks

Editor’s Note: There are numerous books, websites, and other mediums devoted to assisting real estate agents who want to grow their business. Few of these mediums, however, provide substance when it comes to leveraging the possibilities of online marketing. Mary Beth Downing is a Dayton, Ohio real estate agent who has gotten off to a fast start in her career by leveraging the web. In the article below, she shares how she has achieved early success.

Breaking in as a real estate agent is incredibly difficult. This difficulty is the reason why so many agents quit within their first few years, out of frustration. I’ve seen realtor discussion boards in which many agents say that one should only expect to sell three to four homes in their first year. As of this writing, I’ve had my license for slightly over five months and I’ve put eight homes under contract. The most exciting part is that each month has been better than the previous. I’m excited to use this article to share how I’m going about growing my business.

The biggest thing that has surprised me, early on, is the extent to which many new agents entirely devote their time to trying to meet people face to face as opposed to leveraging online resources. These online resources can include paid ads as well as things which you own outright (more on this below). It’s understandable that many new agents don’t want to put money into building a website or into online listings. In my opinion, however, there’s a flaw in refusing to do so. If you take the approach that “I’m not spending any money and I’ll spend my time networking and trying to meet people” then you’re only saving money if you value your time at $0. Given that time is valuable, and can’t be replaced, I find online marketing to be highly effective.

In my first five months I’ve focused on three main areas: my website, my blog, and video. I’ll discuss each of these in turn.

Real estate agents can use their website to attract and capture leads

Most agents don’t invest the time or money to create a website for themselves. This is the first mistake as having a web presence helps to validate you in the eyes of potential clients. Simply, having a website, however, isn’t enough; too many agents build a basic page for the sake of having one, but don’t truly leverage their site. You can use your website to attract clients who would have never heard of you otherwise. You can then use it to capture more of those leads and turn them into signed contracts.

I didn’t want a website that simply said “Hi, this is me. I’m a real estate agent.” I wanted something that would actually provide value to potential clients. This is why I had my webmaster integrate the MLS (through third-party software) into my site. This allows people to search listings of homes for sale through my site instead of through a service such as Zillow. One of the big benefits of this has been that individual home listings tend to show up well in organic search results on Google and Bing. So when people see a for sale sign, and search for the specific address to get more information, my site’s listing of the property shows up. People then land on my website and call me from there. This results in leads with no additional time or meaningful financial investment on my part.

Another big benefit is that the MLS integration into my website allows me to automate the follow-up process. The software I use, to integrate the MLS, allows me to add a lead’s email and other information to a database. That lead will then receive automated emails whenever a new listing, which meets their desired criteria, comes on the market. This means that, instead of me having to call someone about a new listing, they receive it automatically. This helps people to be informed of listings they may be interested in and, importantly, ensures that the information is coming from me. I could spend hours, every day, researching listings and calling people or I could have an automated system which handles this task. I prefer the latter.

My blog is crucial to my strategy of driving seller listings

As I mentioned above, most realtors don’t create a website. Of the ones who do, very few create a blog and maintain it. Blogging is crucial to my strategy going forward. The thing about a blog post is that it can be the gift that keeps on giving. Say, for example, that I write an article on “how to price your home for sale” and it gets clicked on just five times a month in search. That’s five clicks every month that I pay no money for and spend no time on after I’ve written the article. In other words, investing a little bit of time provides me with web content, which I own outright, that will continue to give me indefinite exposure to potential

clients. This is why I wrote a comprehensive series on the subject of “selling your home.” I see my blog as a crucial component to obtaining listings without expending extensive time or money.

Video is important to helping me convert leads into clients

One of the first things I did after starting my business is hire a videographer to make the following “intro” video:

This has been vital in terms of helping me convert leads into clients. This has happened in two ways.

First, the client with the highest dollar contract I’ve signed so far explicitly mentioned my video when they first contacted me. In other words, these clients found me on the web and were considering calling me. They watched my video and it helped clinch their decision. Second, and interestingly, is another call I received. I market heavily on Zillow for a given zip code. My video appears on my Zillow profile as well as on my website. I received a call from a homeowner in the zip code I market to. She stated that she had been receiving letters from realtors offering to assist with selling her home (a common tactic for obtaining listings). She went onto Zillow to get an idea of what her home may be worth as part of deciding whether or not she wanted to sell it. Since I market to her zip code, she came across my Zillow profile and watched my video. She then contacted me regarding the listing of her home and, again, explicitly mentioned my video.

The foregoing are two examples of how my video introduces me to clients and helps me to convert more leads into signed contracts. I own this video outright. That means it’s another gift that keeps on giving. It’s another way that I’m getting clients, on an ongoing basis, without having to expend large amounts of time or pay ongoing amounts of money.

I strongly believe that many real estate agents are missing out on their opportunity to leverage the web. This is actually good news. The fact that agents aren’t leveraging the web means that it’s not as competitive as one may think. In my humble opinion, this is the best way to leverage one’s time and money when growing their business.

I owe a big thanks to Amanda Clark and the team at Grammar Chic for inviting me to write on this topic.

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10 Things You Need for Successful Social Media Marketing

Every business wants a robust presence on social media; indeed, it’s almost impossible to succeed without one. But social media marketing requires a lot more than just signing up for a Facebook account and posting the occasional meme.

Actually, it requires a comprehensive strategy, involving many moving parts. Here’s a quick checklist—some non-negotiable elements of any successful social media marketing campaign.

10 Things You Need for Your Social Marketing Efforts

  1. Goals. What’s the point of your social marketing outreach? How will you know whether or not you’re succeeding? You need to have clearly defined goals to guide your efforts—and that means goals that are specific, measurable, and time-bound.
  2. Audience. Who are you trying to reach? On which social networks will you find them? And what kind of content are they looking for? Use buyer personas to ensure you’re speaking directly to your target audience.
  3. Automation. Not everything can be automated, but using a program like Hootsuite to schedule some posts can remove some of the grunt work, and help your campaign run more efficiently.
  4. Humanity. The whole point of social media is connection. Make sure you’re humanizing your brand: Use humor when appropriate and include some candid photos of your team.
  5. Consistency. Regular activity is critical for social media success. Simply put, nobody’s going to keep up with a social media presence where the updates are infrequent or sporadic. Use an editorial calendar to stay on schedule.
  6. Interaction. Social media is a two-way street! Monitor your accounts and take the time to respond to any questions or comments you get from customers or fans.
  7. Curated content. If you’re looking to build thought leadership and display your industry authority, it’s important to sometimes share informative content from external sources (not your competitors).
  8. Original content. Curated content is important, but hopefully you’re developing plenty of branded content to share, too. Aim for a spectrum of content—blog posts, photos, videos, Web page shares, etc.
  9. Data. Are you regularly consulting analytics to see what’s working—and what’s not? Make sure you’re using the right dashboards and tweaking your strategy as you go.
  10. Optimization. Finally, make sure your social media bios and profiles are all well-optimized. Include target keywords and convey the value proposition for your brand. Refresh your profiles roughly once a year or so.

Those are the basic elements of a strong social media presence—but of course, bringing them all together can be tough. We’d love to chat with you about how the Grammar Chic team can provide strategy, day-to-day management, content creation, and reporting. Contact us today and ask about our social media management services! Reach out at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Proper keyword use is essential for content marketing—and for SEO. The keywords help reflect those search terms you’re trying to rank for; in many cases, they will also align with your chosen PPC terms. Keywords can even be valuable on a creative level, helping guide and structure your content writing.

With that said, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Keyword stuffing—the act of including so many keywords that your content is stiff, robotic, nonsensical, or simply very hard to read—can result in SEO penalties, which makes the entire endeavor moot.

So how can you avoid keyword stuffing, without flat-out avoiding keywords? Where’s the balance?

Tips to Avoid Keyword Stuffing

A few tips:

  • Know who you’re writing for. One of the most common causes of keyword stuffing is the belief that you’re writing, first and foremost, for search algorithms. Scrap that idea right now, and instead remind yourself that you’re writing for human beings. Nine times out of 10, if you simply write in a way that’s natural and that makes sense to human readers, everything else will fall into place.
  • Identify the prime spots for keywords. There are a few places where you really want to insert keywords, for maximum SEO value—heading, title tags, meta descriptions, and in the first paragraph of your body content. Once you ensure keywords in these locales, you can ease up, and just focus on writing good, natural content.
  • Use long-tail variations. You can break up your keyword monotony, and avoid any signs of keyword stuffing, by throwing in some long-tail alternates. For example, if your main keyword is Charlotte plumbers, you might mix in some references to Charlotte plumbing companies, plumbers in Charlotte, etc., all of which can help your content read more gracefully.
  • Remember: Synonyms are your friends! Along the same lines, trust in Google’s increasingly-intelligent bots to put two and two together, and to register synonyms for your main keywords. If you’re looking to rank for the term HVAC, it’s fine to also use air conditioning or heating system. Google knows what you mean, and you’re not going to lose any SEO mojo by varying things up.

It can’t be stressed enough: 90 percent of the battle is just writing good, natural, value-adding content for human readers—and if you need help with that, you’ve come to the right place. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to set up a consultation with one of our SEO-trained content writing professionals. Contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Use Testimonials in Your Content Marketing

Today’s consumers are wired—even if on a purely subconscious level—to seek social proof. Before making a purchasing decision, they want to know that other people have made that decision—and been happy with the results.

Indeed, studies show that even a testimonial or recommendation from a total stranger can positively impact a purchasing decision; seven out of 10 consumers are more likely to buy a product or service if it has testimonials attached to it. The question is, how can you get these testimonials, then effectively use them within your marketing materials?

Asking for Reviews

The only way to get testimonials is to ask for them. You can contact your customers at random and ask for reviews, and sometimes that will yield results. A better approach is to be systematic about who, how, and when you ask.

For instance, it can be ideal to ask for a testimonial from someone who has just completed a purchase. Send an email within a day or two of their purchase and ask them to share some feedback. Because the product is still fresh in their minds, they’ll be more likely to oblige.

If you don’t get a response, send a follow-up a couple of weeks later. Sometimes, it may take that long for a customer to form a solid opinion about the product. And if you do get a response, take note of that, and reach out again the next time that customer makes a purchase. When someone proves willing to give you a review, that’s always something you should track and leverage.

One more tip: Consider sending personalized emails to your best, most loyal customers—the ones who you feel are likely to provide you with honest, positive feedback. Simply let them know how much their business means to you, and how helpful a quick testimonial would be.

As you send out testimonial requests, consider asking a few “guiding” questions. For example, ask the customer how much money the product saved them, or how much time it saves them on a daily or weekly basis. You can also ask more open-ended questions, e.g., what’s the biggest benefit this product has given you?

Using Testimonials

As you receive testimonials, don’t be afraid to edit them for grammar, punctuation, or length, making them as punchy and as readable as possible. Note that, for substantive changes, you’ll need to get approval from the customer.

Though it may not always be possible, consider putting an image of the customer beside their testimonial; of course, you’ll need to ask the customer to send that image, and to give their permission for its use, but such effort can really pay off. Remember that testimonials are all about building trust, and an image can make your testimonials far more human and trustworthy.

As for how you use testimonials, there are a number of ways you can implement this content:

  • On a designated Testimonials page on your company website
  • On the home page
  • Product-specific testimonials on the corresponding product pages
  • In your print brochures
  • Turned into images and posted to social media (simple resources like Canva can be used here)
  • In email newsletters
  • In your email signature

There are a number of creative places where a testimonial can be implemented to offer that social proof that your buyers are looking for—and in the process, to win their trust.

We’d love to chat with you more about the best ways to collect and implement testimonials. Schedule a free consultation with Grammar Chic’s content marketing experts: Reach out at www.grammachic.net or 803-831-7444.

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5 Reasons Your Business Should Have a Content Marketing Strategy

Content creation. Content distribution. Data and analytics. These are all important components of any content marketing campaign. And yet, they can all be fairly meaningless if they’re not united by a broader sense of strategy.

Your content marketing strategy provides you guidance on what you’re trying to achieve; how you’ll achieve it; and how you’ll define success. It clarifies the kind of content you need to create, and the channels you need and don’t need as you distribute that content.  A good strategy can help you use all your content marketing resources effectively, and it also ensures that the content you create is consistently on-message.

Before you do anything else, then—before you write a blog, make a video, or post to social media—it’s important to have a documented strategy. In creating this content marketing strategy, you’ll reap a number of big benefits.

You’ll have clearly defined goals.

The first benefit is that you’ll have some sense of what you’re trying to achieve. Are you producing content to educate and inform potential customers, making things easier on your sales team? Is it purely for SEO? Are you trying to develop industry-wide thought leadership and authority?

All of these are noble and attainable goals, but you need to clarify them so you know what kind of content to write.

You’ll have metrics in place.

Not only does a content marketing strategy help you set goals, but it also forces you to define success. How will you know when your content marketing efforts are doing what they’re supposed to? Which metrics will you look toward? What kind of reporting do you need to measure your content’s effectiveness?

A content marketing strategy provides you with the answers to these questions—and helps you to say for certain whether or not you’re achieving the right results with your content efforts.

You’ll define your audience.

Your content won’t be effective unless you tailor it to your audience—which means, of course, that you have to know who that audience is.

A content marketing strategy should lead you to think critically about who you’re trying to reach, and ideally to create buyer personas to ensure that you address your audience with as much precision as possible.

You’ll discover the right channels.

Regular content creation on YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Twitter—to say nothing of blogs and emails—may prove both costly and time-consuming. But what if you don’t actually need all those channels? What if, to meet your goals and address your audience, you really just need two or three of them?

That could prove tremendously advantageous to the bottom line—and with a content marketing strategy in place, you’ll have a much more accurate sense of which channels you really need and which you can do without.

You’ll understand your content creation needs.

Content marketing always involves a question of how much. How much content do you need? How often should you be blogging, posting to social media, and sending out emails? It’s important to get the right frequency, and in some cases this might require you to outsource some of your content development tasks to a company like Grammar Chic.

When you thoughtfully craft a content marketing strategy, it helps illuminate your content needs, and give you some sense of whether or not you need that extra hand in content creation.

Are you ready to create a content marketing strategy?

Without a strategy to guide you, your content marketing efforts will really just be guesswork. Get more out of your efforts—clearer goals, better results, more judicious spending—by getting a strategy in place.

We’d love to help you brainstorm one. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to set up a consultation. Reach us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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How to Tell if Your Content Ideas Are Any Good

It’s often said that quality is the most important component in content marketing. What does this mean, exactly? Among other things, it implies that some content ideas are better than others, and that part of the content marketer’s job is deciding which content ideas have potential and which are better discarded.

Sometimes, you’ll have a new content idea that just seems so obvious, it’s almost too good to be true. In other cases, seeds of uncertainty will be there throughout the content development process. In all cases, it’s wise to do a quick inventory, asking some key questions to properly vet your content idea.

Is This Relevant to My Core Business Offerings?

Content marketing depends on you displaying real thought leadership, providing your readers with something valuable—not simply advertising your brand all the time.

But even when your content isn’t directly “salesy,” it should be relevant to your core business offerings, underscoring your knowledge of the field.

For example, if your business is a used car dealership, good content ideas might encompass vehicle ownership, vehicle buying guides, even vehicle financing. But you wouldn’t want to branch out to topics that don’t directly impact either vehicle buyers or vehicle owners.

Does This Topic Offer Value?

Another way to phrase this question: What’s in it for my reader?

Your content should always provide an actionable insight; there should be a clear sense in which readers are better off having consumed your content. In short, they should learn something that’s actually helpful to them.

Vet your content ideas by asking: What are the benefits? If you can’t list them, it’s probably not a very strong topic.

What’s the Hook?

Another way to phrase this question: Why will anyone care about this topic?

Sometimes, the hook is closely tied to the value proposition. If your article is 5 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Used Car Purchase, the hook is self-explanatory; everyone wants to save money, and your content offers five ways to do it.

In other cases, though, you might look for a seasonal hook—e.g., 5 Reasons to Buy a New Car in December, or Why Summer is the Best Time to Shop for New Trucks. You could also tie in your topic to hot topics, current headlines, holidays, celebrity announcements, or even sporting events; for example, an alcohol rehab company we work with recently posted a great blog about how to stay sober at Super Bowl parties.

What’s the Pitch?

Take a minute and try to summarize or explain your content angle in two or three sentences.

If you can’t give a fairly succinct elevator pitch, it may mean that the topic is still too broad or unrefined. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad topic; just that you need to polish it a bit more, and zero in on exactly what you’re trying to say in your content.

What’s the Call to Action?

Or: What do you want readers to do once they finish your content?

Does your blog lend itself to a CTA for a free consultation? Should it link to a particular product or service page? Or should you simply invite readers to contact you directly for more information?

Can I Write This?

A final consideration: Just because you have the technical faculty to understand your topic, that doesn’t always mean you have the time or the writing craft to develop your content fully.

If that’s the case, it may be wise to enlist the services of a content writing company, like Grammar Chic, Inc. Our writers can help you at each stage of content development—brainstorming, content creation, content distribution, and more.

Learn more about our comprehensive content creation services. Contact Grammar Chic, Inc. at 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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