What is Content Marketing?

If you’ve been following my blog or other marketing blogs, you’ve probably seen the term a lot. But what is “content marketing?”

You might see quite a few different definitions, but the simplest answer is to say that it is just how it sounds. It is the art of using content to build an effective marketing presence. It applies to all forms of marketing (print, online, social media, outdoor, radio, television, etc.). However, it primarily refers to online and social media.

Branding vs. Engagement

Not too long ago, websites were all about branding. You wanted a sharp-looking site with all the graphic bells and whistles to catch someone’s eye and show that you were a company worth taking an interest in. Though the aesthetics are still important and you want your site to be very user-friendly, content is now king. Success is all about what you say, how you say it and how you share it.

Search engines have evolved dramatically and social media has taken over our lives. Because of these undeniable facts, it puts a premium on producing engaging content that will attract consumers and build brand loyalty. From blog articles and overall site content to social media posts, clickbait ads and all forms of digital engagement, you must have good content and you must get people to see it.

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Effective content marketing will organically boost your SEO, improve consumer awareness, enhance your credibility and generate more leads. I would say these are all pretty important results that any business should be aiming for.

When it comes to developing content marketing, you should start with your end goal. What is the result you want to achieve? What action or engagement are you trying to create between you and the consumer? Once you know what you are looking to accomplish, then you can put a better strategy in place.

Content Creation and Sharing

Then, you need to create the content. Don’t just throw stuff together or plagiarize from other sources. Think about your topics, do the research and produce content that is informative, interesting and entertaining. Also, keep up a good frequency with blogging, social media posts, site content updates, reviews, post boosts and ad placements. Some content may produce immediate results while cumulatively it has a long-term effect in the minds of consumers just like all good forms of marketing should.

Now that you have good content, it needs to get in front of the people you want to see it. Choose your target audience(s) carefully. Use social media and other resources to get your content out there and create genuine engagements. You can have the best content in the world, but it’s worthless if nobody ever sees it.

Content marketing, when done right, is a very effective tool and it will probably be your most effective weapon in today’s marketplace. Put it together with a strong brand identity and other sound marketing strategies (both traditional and non-traditional), and you will certainly see the impact.

To learn more about content marketing or for a content marketing consultation, contact NextGear Marketing today.

The Benefits of Boosting Blog Posts

So, you have a great blog for your business. You are posting a unique article once a week (or even more frequently). It has all the SEO tags, keywords and links to help you improve your website’s organic reach. You’re sharing the article links on Facebook and any other social media pages your company has. These are all great steps and necessary strategies to apply when running a business blog.

Yet, you are ready to take things to the next level. You want to expand your reach and get more people to see your blog. More followers generally lead to more conversions, so how do you get your articles in front of more people?

Boosting Blog Posts

One great strategy is to boost your blog posts. You don’t have to boost every single one. Some you may only boost a little. Some you may want to boost a lot if the content is strong and has a very targeted message. You can dip your toes in the water by boosting for only a few bucks a day. If the results are good and you decide to get more aggressive, you can raise your budget. Honestly, you don’t have to spend that much on social media to effectively boost a blog post.

The Perfect Example

One of my clients runs an auto repair shop and he is in a major push right now to bring in more domestic heavy duty trucks, SUVs and fleet service vehicles because they represent a better profit margin for his particular business model. With this in mind, I have been writing a lot of blog articles lately centered around this target market message. We’re featuring customer testimonial stories based on customers who own trucks and SUVs or are in charge of fleet accounts for local businesses. We’re writing service features and news articles highlighting new heavy duty lifts in the shop and a passion for working on larger vehicles. The articles are being tagged with specific SEO keywords like Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, GMC Denali, Chevrolet Silverado, etc.

Then, my client is boosting some of these blog articles on Facebook, again targeted at truck/SUV owners throughout his local area. Through keywords, interests and other demographic criteria, he is able to get very targeted exposure through social media.

The Results of Boosting

Ultimately, these targeted blog articles are seen by a lot more people than the company’s usual followers. More importantly, they are being seen by people who are likely to be the most interested in these specific topics. This leads to more blog traffic and eventually more customer conversions. It’s a very cost-effective solution.

Some blog articles may not need to be boosted, and like I said, some are more “boostable” than others. Usually, the more targeted the message in the article, the more effective it will be as a boosted post. It allows you to hone in on a more specific audience, which will generate more interested click-throughs.

If you have a blog and want to take it to the next level, or you need to get your blog started or moving in the right direction, NextGear Marketing can help. Contact us today for more information about blogging and social media integration.

Why Your Small Business Needs a Blog

All businesses, big and small, can benefit from having a consistent blog. There are certain benefits that are universal, no matter how large your company is. A good blog will generate fresh content for the website, create more social media engagement opportunities, boost organic SEO properties and help convert more customers.

Small Business Blogging

I primarily work with smaller businesses. That’s partly because the larger companies and corporations can afford to have in-house marketing staff or a marketing firm that handles all aspects of their various print, web and social media campaigns. Mainly, it’s because I run a small business myself and understand the challenges you face. Smaller businesses are usually better off outsourcing their blog management because it’s a more affordable solution and they benefit from having a content marketing expert doing the work rather than trying to perfect the craft themselves.

Localized Benefits for Small Businesses

Ultimately, I think an effective blog will really help any small business in numerous ways. One of the biggest benefits in my opinion is being able to build a stronger local appeal. A big company likely already has a strong marketing presence across a wider geographic spread. A small business, on the other hand, is generally specifically targeting their local region.

Having a blog with proper SEO tags and links will really help your small business gain awareness in your local area, and that ultimately leads to better market share. You can compete more effectively on some level with some of the bigger franchise chains that are going to out-advertise you no matter how much you spend. You’ll also be stand out from other small businesses around you that may not have a good blog. The SEO, engagement and conversion results will continue to grow over time and put your company in a position to succeed.

In addition, blogging with a localized focus and proper social media integration will give you more customer engagement opportunities and develop stronger brand loyalty from those who know and trust your business.

Get More Out of Your Blog

If you have a small business, you need to have a nice website that includes a blog with regular posts. If you don’t have a blog yet, start one. I’ll be happy to help you out with that. If you do have a blog already, make sure you are regularly posting new content and articles to keep it from going stagnant along with the rest of your site. Last but not least, take advantage of the blog’s SEO capabilities, links and other beneficial features that will maximize the results.

Remember that you don’t have to be an expert blogger yourself to get the most out of your small business blog. You can hire one like NextGear Marketing for a very affordable monthly rate with no contractual obligations. Give us a try—even if just for a short trial period. You won’t be disappointed!

Contact NextGear Marketing to learn more about our small business blog and content management services.

The Importance of Website Maintenance

I just got back from the dealership where I dropped my car off for regular maintenance services. Oil change, tire rotation, brake inspection—you know, the standard stuff that every car needs every few months.

I have many automotive shops as blog clients, so I understand the importance of what they like to call “preventative maintenance.” I like to think of it as more of a proactive approach to car ownership. You can keep driving it until something goes horribly wrong and then you’re paying thousands of dollars to rebuild the engine or replace the transmission. Or, you can take care of the maintenance as recommended in order to help prevent major breakdowns.

Staying Proactive

I think the same approach is a good one to take when it comes to managing your website. You should be proactive with your site “maintenance.” For the purpose of this article, let’s talk specifically about content maintenance. I don’t want to delve into the technical stuff, though that’s just as important. You do want to keep your site up-to-date and running as smoothly as possible to prevent crashes, hacks and other bad technical issues.

When it comes to content management, however, it’s worth taking a proactive approach. I recommend scheduling time every 3-4 months (every 6 months at the least) to sit down and go through your entire website. Re-read all the content and make updates as needed. Perhaps something is woefully out-of-date or irrelevant, or you catch typos that were missed last time around. Maybe there is a product catalog or prices that need to be updated. You might have old videos, graphics or other imagery up that are low-quality and it’s time to remove or replace it. There’s always something that you can clean up to keep your website as sharp and relevant as possible.

Review and Update Everything

The same goes for going through your SEO tags, page titles, links and meta descriptions for each page. Take a look through everything. It helps you stay more familiar with all the content on your site and be a more savvy site owner.

Last but not least, take the time to rewrite some sections of content and add new content/pages as applicable. You’ll be amazed at how some fresh content added every few months will help your SEO and overall site traffic in conjunction with regular blog posts.

Time to Get Proactive

When is the last time you really looked over your entire website? If it’s been awhile, now is the ideal time for some good proactive maintenance. Then, you make that process a regular habit to go through it every few months (or delegate that duty to a team member or web services provider that you trust). You’ll have a much better website that will continue to stay up-to-date at all times.

NextGear Marketing will be happy to provide a full website review for free. And if you want, we can schedule regular content reviews and edits as needed. Or, if you want a business blog or to build a new website, we can help with any website content needs you have. Just call me at (714) 348-0642 or click this contact link.

Celebrate Your Milestones and Achievements!

I’ve talked with many business owners who are hesitant to start a blog because they just don’t think they have enough to write about. The truth is there’s no shortage of topics to consider.

Even those businesses with regular blogs often forget to post news about their companies. Followers like to know what’s going on and these types of articles are great ways to work in relevant details and information that will boost SEO potential.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the business milestones you should be celebrating in your blog:

1. Company Anniversaries

When did your business start? This is an article you can post every year if you want, or at least every 5 years. Celebrate your anniversary and key dates in your company’s history. Talk about the history of the business and its evolution over time. Talk about future goals and plans. It’s a great way to show what your business is all about, where it’s been and where it’s heading.

2. Employee Milestones

Did an employee just celebrate an significant anniversary with the company? Did you just hire someone new? How about a promotion, an award or other achievement? Use your blog to highlight your employees and their contributions. It makes them feel valued and potential customers love to see this kind of human recognition displayed.

3. Business Milestones

Perhaps one of your products sold a noteworthy quantity or you’ve served a certain number of customers over the years. Maybe your monthly production hit all time highs. Make note of these kinds of business milestones in your blog. Don’t be overly braggy about it, but be tasteful in promoting key accomplishments made by the company and/or people within the company.

4. Customer Reviews

Authentic customer reviews are always a great source of content and they can be turned in to excellent blog articles. Ultimately, they hold a lot more value than just talking about yourself. After all, it’s a third person—a genuine customer—speaking out and praising your company, product or service.

5. Special Events

The blog is a great place to talk about recent events related to your company. This could include industry events or training conferences attended by your employees, awards ceremonies, charity events and fundraisers you are involved in and more.

These are just a few key events and milestones you can consider writing about in your business blog. More things are newsworthy than you might think. When you find the right blend of relevant information, news, branding and company culture, you will have a very successful blog.

To learn more about blogging or to outsource your company’s blog to NextGear Marketing for low monthly rate, contact us today.

How to Blog About Your Specialties

If you have a specialized service or product that appeals to a very targeted group of customers, then you probably already have some understanding of niche marketing. In other words, your marketing efforts need to be targeted to reach the specific people who will be most likely to buy your product or service.

Specialized Blog Posts

Your blog is a great tool to reach targeted audiences who may be searching for information about a specific topic or interested in a specific product/service that you are offering. In this article, we will look at some ways to use a targeted blog post to your advantage.

First, remember that not all your blog posts have to be targeted to such a niche market unless that is your primary audience to begin with. In that case, you have to go full force with a niche approach in every piece of marketing you put out there.

Many businesses, however, might have one or more very specialized products or services (as part of a larger suite of products/services) that they want/need to promote from time to time. Therefore, the weekly blog posts may cover a wider variety of topics to appeal to a wider range of potential customers. Then, it makes sense to a very targeted post every so often specifically for your niche product/service.

Remember Your Targets

For example, I work with a lot of automotive repair shops, so you will see an auto-shop-specific blog post every once in awhile on this site. However, it’s not my only audience, so I can’t do every article for that niche market.

But let’s say you have an auto shop and you have a specialty service you offer. Perhaps you are really well known for custom exhaust designs and installations. Once every couple months, it really makes sense to do a blog post centered around that subject. Click here to see exactly such an article I wrote for one of my blog clients. You can highlight jobs you’ve done, walk the reader through the custom exhaust installation process, showcase client testimonials, write aftermarket exhaust product reviews or talk about specific exhaust components and what they do. There is no limit to the type of specialized articles you can write on any given subject.

The Advantages of Specialized Blog Posts

What this accomplishes is that someone out there searching for information on this kind of specialized product or service is more likely to find your blog. You will have multiple specialty articles tagged and optimized for SEO with very targeted qualities. This person may not be interested in all in your other general topic articles, but they will find what they are looking for and you will build strong value in their minds.

So, if you have a specialized product or service that appeals to a specific niche audience, take advantage of that with an occasional blog post centered around that topic. It is an effective strategy that will enhance your overall approach to business blogging.

Hopefully this article makes sense, but if you have any questions email me at keith@nextgearmarketing.com. I’d love to hear your feedback!

3 Tips to Make Your Business Blog More Personal

It’s great if you already have a business blog. If you don’t, send me an email and NextGear Marketing will be more than happy to help!

However, many business bloggers miss out on valuable opportunities to personalize the messaging within the blog articles. They think of the blog as only an SEO tool to beef up their site’s content. Though that is definitely the biggest advantage of having a good blog, it is not its only purpose.

Why You Need Engaging Content

A good blog should also have engaging content that will attract site visitors, spur conversations on social media and also lead to more customer conversions. The SEO aspects may get someone to your blog, but then what happens? If the content is too dry, they won’t even finish reading the one article they came for, let alone stay on the site and seek out more information.

That’s why you want to look for ways to “personalize” the content while still keeping it and informative and SEO relevant. Here are a few simple tips you can try:

1. Write in First Person

This is often debated, but if you want to have a more personal feel to your blog this is a great way to do it. Write in terms of “we” and “us” (or “I” and “me” if you are a one-person business or a figurehead representing your business). You do have to be careful about being too salesy at times because first person perspective can exacerbate those messages, but you’ll find the articles are easier to write and will definitely provide a more personal style.

2. Inject Personal Insight

If you are still writing in third person, include some quotes from key people within the company. If you are writing in first person, just make sure you inject some personal insight and interpretations rather than just reporting information or data. Be careful not to get overly opinionated (especially with sensitive political or societal issues—unless that’s part of your brand’s identity) on any subject.

3. Include Brand Messaging

In addition to personal insights, don’t forget about your brand’s overall message. Again, your blog isn’t just spewing out cold hard facts, data and general information that can be found anywhere on the Internet. Remember the personality of your company’s branding and incorporate key brand messages throughout your articles for more effective results.

I hope you find this article helpful in building a better business blog. If you have questions or want to talk more about how to take your blog to the next level, contact NextGear Marketing today!