#MondayFun – I Am Geek, Hear Me Roar

Monday Fun! with Julia Borgini on spacebarpress.co
This week’s fun

It comes from Chuck & Beans on the Shoeboxblog.com.

Geek vs nerd - Shoeboxblog.com

Why I like it

I’ve always referred to myself as a Geek, and fly my flag quite proudly, as you may have noticed. I giggled when I read this as there’s always been a bit of a debate between which is the “preferred” term. Much like the debate between a “Trekkie” and “Trekker”. (I prefer Trekkie just because I think it sounds better. *smile*)

This comic captures the essence of the debate and how absurd it is, IMO.

For more insight into what it means to be a Geek or Nerd, check out Wil Wheaton’s answer to a fan’s question at Denver Comicon:

Or what xkcd had to say about the debate:

Nerds or Geeks, it's all cool

50 Qualities of Great Business Blogs (Plus 5 More, Just for Fun)

Creating a quality business blog is hard, but not if know what quality looks like

Why do you read the blogs that you read? Is it because you like the content or topics covered by the blog? Maybe they produce funny and informative infographics that you enjoy sharing. Perhaps it’s the particular writers that really interest you (and maybe make you laugh too.) Then why is your business blog filled with press releases and high-tech product explanations? To get readers to follow you and share your content, you have to use the same strategies as your favourite blogs.

B2B Blog Management services - Julia Borgini

I’m a sucker for all those “business blogs you should be reading” posts. I will click on every single link to check out the blogs and see if there’s something that I’m missing. Yes, it’s a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), but as a copywriter and blog writer, I also like to think of it as competitive research (don’t judge me.) I’ll read through a few posts from the blogs mentioned, and then decide whether to subscribe to updates via email (my preferred method).

After one of those sessions, I then look at my email inbox and see if there are any blogs that I’ve stopped reading, and I’ll unsubscribe. Mainly I do that to keep my email inbox to a tidy, manageable level, but it’s also a way to see what kind of content is working with readers. Then I ask myself “why am I unsubscribing?” Is it because: I don’t have time to read the updates anymore; or am I’m no longer interested in the topics; or are the headlines boring and don’t entice me to click & read more?

These are important questions not just for my inbox, but also for anyone who writes a blog. Especially a business blog.

Getting readers to start reading your business blog is one thing – getting them to continue is another. Which is the whole point of having the business blog, right? To get readers to come back and read your next new post. And the next, and the next.

Why bother getting repeat visitors to your business blog?

When done right, a business blog can drive more than just clicks, impressions, and shares. A well-written business blog can:

  1. Create stronger relationships with your current customers.
  2. Introduce your business to new prospects and a new audience.
  3. Inform your readers about something they didn’t know about.
  4. Educate them on a new trend or idea in your market.
  5. Humanize your business by introducing your executive team in a more informal setting.

And that’s just for starters. Working hard on your business blog content will transform it from a dumping ground for your press releases into a destination spot for your readers. It’ll take some hard work, planning, and a lot of time, however you can do it. I know you can.

To get you started

For some inspiration on the qualities that make up a killer business blog, take a look at this list of qualities of the best business blogs in the world created by Marcus Sheridan. It’s a long read, but definitely worth it.

My favourite qualities from the list

1. They’re written by real people

Especially in the technology world, it’s sometimes hard to remember that it’s people creating your products and evolving your business. You’re so focused on the ‘shininess’ of your products and explaining it to your readers, that you forget about the people. The people who create your products and the people who buy your products.

2. There’s a variety of contributors to the blog

Sure, you need to have a core team of writers who are responsible for the overall strategy of your business blog, but that doesn’t mean others can’t write for you too. Leverage every kind of employee at your business and have them write for your business blog. The blog owners will handle the editing and actual publishing so the blog maintains a certain standard of quality, look and feel, but by showing off different voices, you create different perspectives. Different perspectives speak to different readers and increase your blog’s reach.

3. They make time to blog (even when it’s in short supply)

Sure, there are all sorts of tips and tricks you can use to create lots of content in a short amount of time (and I’ve even written about them on this blog), but in the end, it comes down to finding the strategy that works for you. I can give you all the stats about how blogging consistently gains you more business, leads, and customers, however you already know all that. You simply want to know how to find more time to write for your business blog. Michael Hyatt lays out seven strategies to maximize your time for blogging in this post.

4. They give away information for free

Many B2B businesses hide (or gate) their best content behind forms and multiple clicks. Which tires people out. Remove the barrier and just give away your content for free through the blog. Your readers will appreciate it and start coming back for more.

5. They combine their great content with solid SEO

Good business bloggers understand what makes SEO tick, and how to write high-quality, conversational content that gets picked up regularly by search engines.

Each business blog is different

Some blogs are popular with readers because they’re written in a particular style. Others because they give away great content all the time. Business blogs are no different. To create better posts and get readers coming back for more, you’ve got to understand the qualities of good business blogging. Find out what resonate best with you and your business or brand, and which align with your end goal for blogging, and then start writing.

Over to you

What qualities do you think make up a great business blog? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

#MondayFun – New Star Wars Trailer – The Force Awakens

Monday Fun! with Julia Borgini on spacebarpress.co
This Week’s Fun

The latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer was released last week. I’m sure you’ve already seen it, but it’s just so freakin’ good!

In case you were under a rock last week and didn’t have Internet connectivity, enjoy it again here.


Why I Like It

Really? You have to ask? It’s Star Wars. Period. End of story.

Now, don’t you start with all that “Yes, but I thought the trailer to the Phantom Men was also freakin’ awesome, and that movie laid a giant egg on-screen.” I know. Trailers are never as good as the movie.

But I have faith in J.J. Abrams. I was impressed with his reboot of Star Trek, and have always been a fan of his. I have faith that J.J. will not steer us wrong with this one.

Sure, I might classify myself officially as a Trekkie, but you can be sure that every time I pass a fan, I lean into it and say those immortal words, “Luke, I am your father.

Blast Through The Most Common Business Blogging Obstacles

By now you’ve heard all the stats about business blogging…

  • Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes.
  • B2B companies that blog get 67% more leads per month than those who don’t.
  • Companies that blog have 55% more website visitors.

In fact, that’s probably why you started a business blog a few years ago. You wanted to jump on the bandwagon to make sure you enjoyed all the benefits of having one. Except that’s not what happened. Your blog slowly got bogged down by internal bureaucracy to the point where its ground to a halt. The last post published on your blog was from last year.

Old business blog - Julia Borgini

No matter the size of your organization, this is what invariably happens with a business blog. Red tape gums up the works and stops you from reaping those conversion and traffic benefits I mentioned earlier.

Here are a few of more common business blogging obstacles, along with the solution BLAST that will free up your blog and get it working again.

Blogging is not officially part of your job

This is usually more true of smaller companies, but large, enterprise-sized ones fall victim to this as well. Blogging just simply isn’t part of anyone’s official job description. It’s tacked on to someone’s responsibilities, so that when their main work takes priority, the blogging falls to the way-side.

Solution BLAST - Julia Borgini copywritingSolution BLAST

Remind your boss and management team of the ROI of blogging, and why it’s important to do it every day. Talk to management about shifting responsibilities around so your main writers have time to devote to the blog. Make it a part of their official job description. [insert stats from 2014 Hubspot State of Inbound Marketing report]

 

Too many people involved in reviewing posts

Between your editor, legal team, SEO marketers, and management, there can be a lot of people involved in reviewing each post before it’s published. Of course we know that reviews are critical to a high-quality blog, however the process should be smooth and not hold up publication.

Solution BLAST - Julia Borgini copywriting

Solution BLAST

Instead of your immediate boss who does the final review, perhaps get a trusted colleague to do the review. That way you’ll foster team collaboration and alleviate the log-jam for your boss. Convene with Legal once a quarter to go over your editorial calendar to make sure there’s nothing they’d be worried about coming up.

 

Your content is all over the place

It’s hard to keep your posts in line with branding and marketing guidelines when those change regularly. However a business blog with posts that are consistent in tone, style, and message is far more powerful than one that’s not.

Solution BLAST - Julia Borgini copywritingSolution BLAST

Create a style guide with your manager, marketing, and SEO teams, so you’ve got all the right fonts, keywords, ideas, and marketing message ready to go. Refer to the guide as you write, so you’re on-side with everything right from the start. Have stakeholders review the guide on a regular basis to ensure you’re up to date with the latest changes.

 

There’s no clear publication schedule

Another symptom of an unorganized business blog is one with an erratic publication schedule. At the start you probably published regularly, and your readers came to expect new content from you in that timeline. But then things got in the way, and you posted only once in a while. Now you’re lucky if you can get a post published once a year. At this point there’s no reason to continue, as you’ve lost any and all readers you might’ve had.

Solution BLAST - Julia Borgini copywritingSolution BLAST

An editorial calendar that’s owned by someone in the organization (preferably someone involved in the blog itself.)  Establishing milestones and deadlines can help you prepare the topics you’re going to write about, ensuring you’ve got good coverage throughout your calendar. It can also help you keep track of what you’ve written about, avoiding duplication. It also keeps you honest, as you’ll know exactly when content is due. Housing the editorial calendar in a central place also ensures that everyone involved with the blog has access to the schedules, topics, and milestones. No one can complain about low-visibility now!

Back to you

What obstacles have you faced with your business blog? And what Solution BLASTS did you use to overcome them? Share in the comments below.

*NEW* Business Blog Management Service

Looking to get more out of your Business Blog? Read more about my blog management services and together we’ll get you a bigger ROI from it. Packages start from just $100 a month!

Click here to find out more

Your simple 5-step checklist to more effective B2B email marketing

Janice Sakata-SchultzeGuest post by Janice Sakata-Schultze, master marketing and copy sherpa for Schultze Travel Communications, a full-service travel marketing company based in Golden, Colorado. You can find out more about her work and read up on her marketing insights on her blog.

 


Sending emails to your customers used to be so simple. You could write a snappy subject line, create sales-driven copy, format everything in simple text, and send them out as much as you wanted.

Now there’s so much more to think about and keep track of. You have to consider the quality of copy, the timing, frequency, optimization, segmentation, social sharing and responsive design. It all adds up to a giant hassle that could drive the most rational person to near insanity.

Well, before you go running and screaming out of your office, take a deep breath and know that you too can develop an email marketing plan that works. Starting with creating emails first, you can figure out when and to whom to send them, how to share them and which channels are working best. Breaking the whole process down into bite-size pieces AND having a great email marketing provider are essential.

Follow this five-point checklist when you are developing your current B2B email marketing practices, and you won’t go crazy.

1. Creating fascinating emails and subject lines

Of course, the first step to turning your reader into a customer is to get them to read your email. In addition, you have to keep them hooked throughout to get to your core sales message.

If your reader knows you or your company, chances are they’ll open it up. But if they don’t, send it from your name or your company’s owner or CEO. According to Dan Hare in SmartInsights, an individual sending an email will elicit curiosity and increase the likelihood your reader will open it.

Next, think about the subject line. One of the more popular trends to is have single word subject (A quick example: during Barack Obama’s 2012 Presidential campaign, the most enduring email had the subject line, “Hey”). Instead of following this fad, consider the most pressing problems your audience has. Then address that pain, or provide a solution for it. For instance, if your reader has problems with inventory, have a subject line that says, “Tired of being buried in stockroom?”

The final factor you’ll want to consider is segmentation, which means creating targeted content for predefined groups of readers, also known as dynamic content. That way, your reader will have relevant information that keeps them reading and makes them look forward to your next email.

2. Making your emails look good everywhere

You’ve heard a lot about mobile marketing, and you may not think it really applies to B2B emails. Not true – in fact, B2BNN reports that about 50% of B2B marketers sold products through mobile marketing, and a 75% intend to implement this strategy by the end of last year.

B2B companies are using more owned media - spacebarpress.com/blog

Immediacy is the reason why you need to pay attention to this strategy. More people are getting their information or making purchases on their smartphones or tablets. If you don’t employ some responsive design tactics to make your site mobile-friendly, your visitors will find your emails hard to navigate or just plain look strange. That could lead to their leaving your site and losing a potential sale.

Now if you’re thinking you have to know fancy HTML code and need advanced programming skills, relax. You only need to follow some easy common-sense steps in writing your emails. This Copyblogger post from Rob Walling provides such a list that even the most technically challenged marketer can follow.

3. Sharing what you know

Many marketers know that social media sharing provides the lifeblood for growing their customer base. But all too often, they limit the content to blog posts, articles and other social outlets. Your readers will then find it difficult to share with their friends and likely won’t follow through.

social media for b2bSocial media has proven to be a reliable audience builder, especially if you are providing highly valuable quality content that others can’t wait to pass along. Roughly 56% of the marketers are getting the message and using social share as a marketing strategy. You’ll therefore want to place social share buttons at the very top of your emails, so that your readers can click on them quickly.

According to this Exact Target blog post, you will want to make sure that your social post copy entices recipients and that your URL is shortened to fit character requirements. That’s especially important if you’re sharing on Twitter, which has a maximum 140-character limit.

4. Knowing that timing is everything

Sending your emails at specific days and times gives you a clear roadmap for your email strategy. First, check your email delivery provider (like an AWeber, Mail Chimp, Infusionsoft, or others) and see when your emails have the highest click-through rates. Next, you’ll want to take note of those metrics and send your emails out during those highly receptive time periods.

MarketingProfs reported some interesting statistics that revealed a few secrets to B2B email marketing success. Tuesday appeared to the best day for open rates (44% of companies surveyed), while Friday was the worst (53%). The highest click-throughs and conversions occurred between 8 AM and 12 noon local time (53%). The survey also found that the most effective offers are webinar invitations, then white paper and case study downloads.

5. Letting your audience have control

As with any digital marketing campaign, the success of it all boils down to numbers. Constant A/B testing of headlines, subjects lines, content, timing and other factors leads to marketers fine-tuning their decisions and seeing which emails bring in the best return. You might think that making these choices also means assuming what they want to hear and how often.

Maybe one thing you haven’t considered is allowing your customers and prospects to decide for themselves how often they’d like to hear from you. While this may sound counterintuitive, this strategy actually results in cleaner and more valuable lists where your recipients want to hear and are likely to buy from your company. That also helps with your optimization and better search engine rankings for your company.

Here’s how to do this, as reported by Brian Anderson at DemandGen Report: Offer your readers and “opt-down” option as well as on opt-out. This allows them to reduce the frequency of emails, combine them into a summary, or receive only emails on preferred subjects or topics.

Each of these five steps can easily improve your email marketing success. Give them a try, and see your sales numbers skyrocket!

Lead generation metrics


*NEW* Business Blog Management Service

Looking to get more out of your Business Blog? Read more about my blog management services and together we’ll get you a bigger ROI from it. Packages start from just $100 a month!

Click here to find out more

Business Blogging Lesson: How to blog with a purpose

Everyone who starts a business blog does so with the best of intentions. They’re going to write regularly, give away valuable content to their readers, and really engage with them.

Instead, what you get is a blog that ends up being another news release platform for you, and the last original content you wrote was 10 months ago. That’s okay. Business blogs are the hardest marketing channel for business to keep updated.

According to Andy Crestodina and Orbit Media’s Blogger Survey, they found that over 10% of bloggers post “at irregular intervals”. (This study encompassed everyone from business bloggers to SMB business owners who blog for themselves.) Content Marketing Institute found that 80% of B2B businesses use their blog for marketing purposes in 2015, a steady increase over the last couple of years.

Yet those same B2B marketers found that their business blog wasn’t an effective tactic for them, with only 60% of them citing their blog in effectiveness ratings.

Business Blog effectiveness - B2B Benchmarks 2015 CMI

That’s probably because they’re not really blogging for a purpose. They don’t understand who to write for, and what they could gain from their blog. And they’re really missing out. Just check out these stats on why blogging is good for your business:

Business Blogging Stats
Excerpt from Feldman Creative Infographic

Give your business blog some purpose

1. Be consistent. Write regularly. That’s why business blogs often fail, because they’re neglected after a while. Keep the momentum going after that initial excitement.

2. Use images. It makes your posts easier to read. That’s why infographics are so popular.

3. Make it easy to read. Literally. Choose a good font and colours on your business blog. Give it an easy-to-read layout on all devices (aka make it responsive for mobile devices). Use good business blog practices like lots of lists, numbered lists, white space, etc. This goes double for longer posts.

4. Educate, don’t sell. Business blog readers don’t want to be sold to, so limit the disguised ads and press releases. Write informative, educational content first. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t link to your sales stuff, just make it subtle. Link out to that content instead. Always include good calls-to-actions (CTAs), regardless of your business blog focus. You want readers to continue reading.

5. Remove barriers to your content. Aka Make It Easy For Your Readers. That means removing the number of clicks it takes to get to your content or information. Don’t hide everything behind a gate.

6. Be a storyteller. The best bloggers tell a great story with their words. So regardless if you’re a professional writer, read the masters, study the bloggers you admire, then emulate them. (Geek Confession: I do this too. All the time in fact.)  Do your best to tell your best stories all the time, to the best of your abilities.

7. Be authentic & passionate. There’s a reason that you work for your current business, right? Let that passion and authenticity shine through in your posts. If you’re excited about things, your readers will be too. This is one of the reasons I talk about Geeks in my posts and in my business. I’m passionate about Geeks and what they do, and it comes through in my writing (right? You all see that, right? :-) )

8. Invest wisely and seriously. Blogging is a long-term strategy, and in order to get a good ROI, it needs the best tools and writers you can finance. That means hiring writers internally or working with a freelancer like me. That means attending in-person events to find out what your market is talking about. That means investing in some software tools that will help your blog succeed. If you’re not ready for that type of investment, walk away now.

9. Show off your successes and wins. Create short-form case studies as blog posts and talk about how existing customers overcame their obstacles with your products. We all love a good story with a happy ending, and the case study is the quintessential example of this.

Plus there’s the added bonus of readers identifying with the showcased customer, which means if you solved that customer’s issue, you can probably solve the readers’ too.

10. Have fun with your blog. Even in the B2B realm, a business blog can be fun. Eliminate the jargon and techno-babble. Use the same words your readers use as you tell the story. Show off some pics of your staffers letting loose at a trade show or other fun event you attended.

11. Recognize others too. Whether it’s by inviting industry leaders and experts to guest blog for you, or by writing about customers, employees, and sometimes even competitors, those positive vibes have a way of reflecting back on you.

12. Don’t back down from a fight. I don’t mean this literally, but use your business blog to be contrary and swim against the current. Talking about the same things as everyone else is boring, and doesn’t make you stand out. Taking a different stance or perspective from your competitors makes you stand out and earns you more readers and shares.

13. Interact with your readers. This is a reminder that a business blog is not a one-way street, but rather, a conversation. Respond to comments on the blog and feedback on the posts on social media.

14. Crowd-source your content. Keep up the steady stream of content on your business blog through crowd-sourcing. By that I mean writing posts that answer your reader’s questions, publish guest posts from respected authors and thought leaders in your industry or market. Get your CEO/CMO/CIO to write a regular posts as well. It doesn’t have to all be up to you. This is especially true if the business blog is just one of your regular work activities. Spread the work around and give everyone an investment in making it succeed.

Have you been blogging with a purpose?

Share your stories of business blogging in the comments. I’d love to hear how you’re doing it.

*NEW* Business Blog Management Service

Looking to get more out of your Business Blog? Read more about my blog management services and together we’ll get you a bigger ROI from it. Packages start from just $100 a month!

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#MondayFun – Surly Amy Jewellery

Monday Fun! with Julia Borgini on spacebarpress.co

This Week’s Fun

Surly Amy’s jewellery – “Surly-Ramics is art you can wear”

Why I like it

It’s jewellery with a purpose. It’s math, it’s science, but made fun and beautiful (not that math & science aren’t already fun & beautiful, of course!)

A dear friend of mine gave me one of Surly Amy’s pendants as a birthday gift a few years ago, and it’s great! I can’t tell you the number of compliments I get on it simply from how cool and wonderful it looks. But then when I explain what it actually means, they’re even more impressed.

Amy creates everything from necklaces to earrings to hair clips, and it’s great! Go check out her Etsy store here.

Richter Scale Ceramic Necklace in Cream | Surly Amy @ Etsy

 

#MondayFun – Star Trek WiFi-terprise

Monday Fun! with Julia Borgini on spacebarpress.co
Okay, so I’m a little late with it this week. I blame the long weekend here in Canada. BUT, it let me find a super-cool, super-fun Monday Fun item for you.

This week’s fun

A Star Trek wifi router. Yes, you read that right. A wifi router.

Star Trek wifi access point
USS Enterprise wifi access point. It lights up & everything! Credit: Christoph Kauch/Rol Schwarz

Why I like it

Well, Star Trek, for one. I’m a big fan. I also like how they made something functional out of a collectible that would’ve otherwise just taken up space.

How they made it

Check out the YouTube video that shows them making it here: https://youtu.be/mDGnWUNrl-o

You can check out the still photos from their work here: http://imgur.com/a/vm9Pp

Well done Christoph and Rol!

How to make an explainer video

Recently, I cancelled a subscription to an online marketing community. It wasn’t because the content wasn’t useful, or that I didn’t get anything out of it. It was simply because most of the content was in video form. I’m just not a fan of the format, especially for topics where I want to take lots of notes, and really absorb the information. I’m more of a visual rather than audio learner.

That’s not to say there’s no value in videos. In fact, for short pieces of information, I think they’re the perfect content type to use. They’re great for increasing online conversions too, so why wouldn’t you want to try one?

The cool folks at Yum Yum Videos have created a wonderful infographic that explains (get it?) the process for making an animated explainer video. Check it out here:

YumYum Videos - Make your own animated explainer video

Are you using explainer videos in your B2B marketing? I’d love to hear about your experience creating them.

 

#MondayFun – Star Wars 80s Anime Style

Monday Fun! with Julia Borgini on spacebarpress.co

This week’s fun

The Star Wars homage to the 1980’s anime cartoon.

Why I like it

Because it’s a Star Wars version of Robotech (which has just landed at Sony studio, so hopefully after all this time we’ll actually get the movie.)

At any rate, it combines three of my favourite things: Star Wars, Robotech, and Japanese anime. (My all-time fave is Gatchaman (aka , which we saw here in North America as Battle of the Planets.)

Check it out below if you’re interested (it’s safe for work, but kind of long, almost 8 minutes long. You may want to wait till your lunch break to watch it.)