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Blog Promotion

5 Marketing Tips for Promoting Your Blog

Marketing any new blog is always a chicken or egg kind of problem. Your blog won’t take off unless readers are aware of what you do and why it’s so much better than anything else out there, and yet the revenue stream from which you might pull the funds for a full out marketing campaign isn’t exactly roaring.

That said, there are a number of free and inexpensive tools available to blogs and small business people, with the caveat of course being that you’ve got to have a deep understanding of and dedication to each tool to make them work. (No sending out a lone tweet every three weeks expecting your brand to “go viral”).

So just what can a cash-strapped blog do to make the most out of their limited marketing budget? Before we get to our top 5 tips, there’s one thing we’ve got to emphasize:

Research, Research Research. DO IT!

It doesn’t matter how much you think you know your target readers, doing demographic and psychographic research is an important part of determining just what they’re looking for and how they’re consuming information. What’s more, a good look at the numbers may also reveal a broader reader base than you even realized was there.

But doing research doesn’t have to mean investing in expensive surveys and formal research teams. Start by creating a basic reader profile, including things like gender, age, location, and so forth, and then heading out into the social media world to see what other websites or blogs your potential readers engage with. Start following them, see how they evolve, and then do a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to determine just how your blog might fill any holes.

After setting very clear and measurable objectives, then it’s time to start strategizing with the marketing techniques below.

1. Use Simple Viral Incentives

You know you’ve got a really new and inventive product or product design when it spreads by word of mouth (think Pinterest or Google in its early days). But virality can be built into even more run of the mill products with strategic calls to action like rewarding people for sharing or simple gamification for being engaged in the community.

Of course, you can get more creative with incentives, as we detail below, but never underestimate the power of a free service or a carefully worded call to action and referral link included in all of your communication with your customers.

2. Launch a Blogging Campaign with an Editorial Calendar

Most blogs know they should have a content strategy, but the idea of essentially becoming a one-stop shop news organization can be intimidating on its own, not to mention the fact that, sooner or later, most companies run out of things to say. That’s where developing a blog with an extensive editorial calendar can be so useful.

This exercise entails sitting down with other movers and shakers in your organization to mark important business and industry dates and brainstorm and set regular themed content days, like, “User Stories Tuesdays” and “Expertise Post Thursdays.” While you should always build in room for growth and creativity, having themed days (whether the customer sees their exact name or not) will give you the structure to stay on track, and it will also prevent writer’s block.

From there, get the process in place. Will you be hiring a professional writer for this, or doing these yourself? Who will edit and approve your posts, and how many days of lead time do they need? Make the system as clear as possible…and then get going!

3. Create an Email Marketing Plan

Though often lost in the shadow of its sexier sister, social media, email marketing is not only one of the best ways to directly reach customers, but it’s also the best way to personalize your outreach in a much less labor intensive manner. That’s because email marketing will allow you to create segmented lists to categorize and individually target customers in different demographics with different interests.

Inexpensive platforms like MailChimp are an easy way to create on-brand templates and call to action buttons, and they come with metrics that detail just who is opening what kind of email and how much they’re engaging.

An email marketing plan is both a marketing strategy on its own and one that can go hand in hand with a blogging campaign, as your newsletters can easily be placed on your blog as well. Emails also allow for more comprehensive hooks and giveaways, like complimentary e-Books and embedded how to videos. As with your blog, you’ll want to make sure content is varied, though you likely won’t want to send out updates with as much frequency.

All of that said, while email marketing can be a powerful way to directly target customers, there are many pitfalls that will land you right in the spam box. As such, we really recommend reading a good guide to email marketing guide for small businesses so that you can really master best practices before launching in.

From here, it’s really best if you do an even wider content strategy that includes things like infographics, case studies, white papers and more, but remember that whole getting overwhelmed thing? At least get the wheels turning on a blog and an email marketing plan before diving into the rest.

4. Do Creative Giveaways

As anyone who has ever encountered Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day knows, giveaways are a potentially delicious way to spread good will and cement customer loyalty. But you don’t have to do them on such a big and expensive scale in order to be effective, just as long as you know your audience and get creative.

Marketing to an eco-conscious crowd? Reusable bags with your blog’s logo can be a great way to spread the word. And hey, who doesn’t love t-shirts or candy? But perhaps even better than swag can be content that users can really use, like e-Books explaining something you know your customers are really curious about, or a free session of introductory coaching.

For the best prizes, try to get local, relevant sponsors involved, so you’ll also be associating yourself with a brand your customers already trust while spreading the word further within your community. Or, make the giveaway a part of a contest and engage customers through competition.

5. Make the Most of Social Media

Last but certainly not least, social media is a crucial aspect of any marketing plan, acting both as an important channel itself and as a channel that will support any of your other marketing strategies. Social media should not be a place where you tweet a constant stream of advertisements, or harangue followers into retweeting your posts. There’s a reason, after all, that it’s called social media, and your best strategy is to engage like the human being you are. This means actually reading and responding to tweets from potential customers, even if it’s just to say, “Awesome photo!” or to retweet something you enjoy.

It’s also a good idea to reach out directly to key influencers with interesting information or to invite them to guest post on your blog. Social media is also a great way to run more casual contests, like submitting the best 140 character story, or a TwitPic of a creative use of your product.

And of course, social media is one of the best ways to get your blog content, giveaways, and new product announcements right to your users.

All in all, social media marketing is about creating a dynamic, loyal and engaged community.

Take-Away

With so many online marketing tools available to us today, startups need not break the bank with those initial marketing costs. Start with a simple plan that takes its audience into account and provides, clear, actionable objectives, and build your strategy from there. Soon, you’ll have a marketing plan to rival all!

Rob Toledo resides in the great Pacific Northwest -- A lover of all things dog, sarcasm and the great outdoors, he shops almost exclusively at Thrift Stores. He currently runs Chess Club as well as thebestofnetflix.com and streamingfruit.com

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{ 14 comments… add one }

  • Rohit Dubey October 15, 2013, 3:16 pm

    marketing tips can be really helpful when we talk about blog.
    thanks for this post..

  • Vishal Verma July 31, 2013, 1:10 pm

    Nice article… for Social Media Promotion I prefer SproutSocial “one of the best social media management tool”

  • Nathan Brook July 22, 2013, 7:18 am

    Well I read these tips and really I gain some information form this post.YouTube is another great way to promote our business. We are free to create our own video. There are different types of videos you can create.

  • Adam Dukes July 21, 2013, 1:37 pm

    Some great suggestions. I have bee blogging for 3+ years and am finally realizing the promotion is just as (if not more) important that the content. I used to publish & pray visitors would just appear. That doesn’t work. I am seeing a lot more traffic to my site now that I am spending a lot more time on promotion.
    Adam Dukes recently posted..Facebook Case Study: Sin City LocalMy Profile

  • Crissy July 19, 2013, 9:54 pm

    Good pointers. Though I am not really a blogging pro but I think one of the best platforms in promoting your blog is through social media. Guest blogging is also a must try esp. for beginners.

  • Tushar Thakur July 13, 2013, 3:08 am

    Hey,

    What strategy you can advice me for the social media promotions. Do you think the paid promotion will works better?

  • Lewis LaLanne July 12, 2013, 12:49 pm

    I love your emphasis here Rob on free stuff you can do to promote your blog. It’s my belief that too many people get bogged down by thinking that money will solve their problems. One of the most important business lessons I’ve ever learned is that if you can’t make money without having money, you won’t make money when you have money.

    Now with this said, I wanted to share here some wisdom I learned from Derek Halpern’s incredible “Having A Blog That Converts” course.

    One of the major lessons I learned from him was that . . .

    It Is Wise To Focus On A Blog Topic That Keeps Your Perfect Prospect Glued To You

    If you’re going to break into broad (best) markets like fitness/health, finances/business, or relationships, you cannot speak to a broad topic.

    If the blog topic seems to generic, like it’s just a knock off of one of the other big shots in the niche, you’re done. The visitor is going to think to themselves, why would I want to read a watered down, wannabe version of the big leaguers that isn’t even getting shares?

    Derek suggests you instead “Divide and Conquer”. This means you take divide your topic into a bunch of subtopics and you aim to conquer each subtopic/segment of the market one at a time.

    Look at how Facebook came to conquer the social networking world by first conquering Harvard, then other ivy league schools, then high schools and from there THE PLANET. They knew they had something that would be useful to everyone and by getting the kids addicted, they pulled in the adults who saw it as first, a way to stay connected to their kids from afar, and then it was easy for the adults to see the broad application of the platform that went FAR BEYOND staying in touch with their family.

    Copyblogger started out appealing to primarily the topic of copywriting and then rolled into the topic of information marketing, then the topic of SEO, then into web design and then social media.

    When Derek knew he wanted to do a blog on Internet Marketing, he divided the topic up into the subtopics/segments of the market . . .

    Blogging, SEO, PPC, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Conversion Testing, List Building, Persuasion Psychology, Web Design, Copywriting

    And rather than trying to be THE MAN for all of these topics, he narrowed his focus down to just ONE – Persuasion Psychology. Once he felt he’d conquered this realm he focused on blog conversion rates and from there to list building.

    He divided and then demonstrated, one by one, expertise in each topic.

    So here are 5 steps to earning your stripes in your market and keeping yourself sane in the process . . .

    Huge blogs became huge by tackling one topic at a time.

    Taking on one topic at time is not only smart in the sense of marketing, but also in the sense of not overwhelming yourself with trying to be all things to all people at the expert level.

    So the question is, how do you know which topics to cover?

    Step #1: Seek Out 15 Other Blogs That You Would Consider To Be Your Competitors

    There’s 160 million blogs out there so don’t give me any crap about there not being any competitors. If there aren’t any, this may be a good sign that there is no reachable audience that gives a crap about this topic, which means you should reconsider who you’re targeting.

    One of the easiest ways to find competing blogs is to use alltop.com which serves as a directory for blogs on pretty much every topic.

    One of the qualifiers for a blog being a competitor or not is whether or not a blog has a decent amount of traffic coming to it, or not. You can check this on sites like Compete, Alexa, and Quantcast and get an idea of the amount of traffic a site is getting.

    Now list the 15 competitors . . .

    Step #2: Find out What Sub-Topics Your Competitors Are Covering Or Not

    Look at your sites and look at their “Category” and their “Tags” to figure out the main topics that they cover. Also pay attention to the topics of some of their most recent articles.

    You’re looking to come up with as many sub topics as you can. You want to find as many as you can get. Keep an eye out for what topics are hot and which ones are not.

    Step #3: Connect These Topics To Your Perfect Prospect’s Outcomes

    At some point in time, in doing your research, you should have come up with a list of desired outcomes that your perfect prospects are seeking. Well here is where you’re going to connect those outcomes to these topics so that you’re writing about what people actually want rather than just writing for no reason.

    Here’s an example of how to do this . . .

    SEO: Get free traffic from search engines
    List Building: Get more email addresses
    Persuasion Psychology: Understand why people buy
    Copywriting: To learn how to structure a sales message so that it makes money
    Split-Testing: Figure out which sales message is going to get me the most money

    Step #4: Choose 5 Topics You Want To Cover

    If you want to make it easy to choose the first topic you choose to go deep on and specialize in and differentiate yourself from your competitors, go with the topic that connects to a problem you are an ABSOLUTE MASTER at solving.

    You want people to be able to come to the site after seeing you somewhere else and to see one critical part of the solution to their problem that they can get for free . . . and also see that you support the topic on a whole with other content AND preferably, product/services.

    On the topic you’ve chosen to pursue, you want to look at the subtopics that aren’t being covered by your competitors. This will help your perfect prospects differentiate in your favor because they’ll have the perception that you’re giving them what they can’t get somewhere else.

    Step #5: Choose 9 Pieces of Content To Create For Your Base Content

    So you’ve chosen a topic to conquer, now it’s time to focus on the chunks of base content that are going to demonstrate and showcase your expertise on this topic.

    One of the first pieces of content you could and should create revolves around debunking a myth that you know your perfect prospects have surrounding the topic you’ve chosen.

    Debunking myths is a process that implies you’re an expert. If you can do this with topics that your other competitors are talking about, all the better. With your content you want to look for ways you can not only do it better, but also different than those you compete with.

    CONCLUSION:

    Take action on these 5 steps and I guarantee that you will be light years ahead of 95% of the people you compete with. And you will get ahead to notoriety and profitability far faster than almost everyone else in your market.

    Thank you Rob for reminding me of how important it is to have an awesome marketing plan. It something that is important to never tire of hearing. :)
    Lewis LaLanne recently posted..The Easiest Way To Craft Case Studies That Convince People You Are The TruthMy Profile

    • Rob Toledo July 15, 2013, 3:10 pm

      Hey Lewis!
      Thanks for your kind words and very thoughtful response — this is brilliant!

      Best,

      Rob

  • Tushar July 12, 2013, 3:29 am

    I have done a lot of guest posting in recent times and found it very beneficial.

    It’s something I wish I’d done right from the start and would encourage other bloggers to do the same.

  • Krishna July 12, 2013, 3:27 am

    Most or many of these are great. What I’d like to see is which will give you the most return on investment (of time). Thanks!!!

  • Gautham July 12, 2013, 3:27 am

    WOw this is a really comprehensive list! A little overwhelming, especially for a noob like myself, but very, very useful. Thank you.

    • Rob Toledo July 15, 2013, 3:15 pm

      Hey Gautham!
      Rule number one should always be to take it slow! No need to rush through any strategy =)

      Good luck!

      Rob

  • Ryan Biddulph July 11, 2013, 10:07 pm

    I dig the emphasis on social Rob.

    By engaging you stand out from the crowd. Few people respond more than once a day which is why I stop in 2-3 times on twitter, Facebook and Google Plus. Not receiving as much feedback on LinkedIn so I am leaving that network alone for a bit.

    If you can engage and promote other people, other people will engage and promote you. Sowing and reaping type thing here.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..Online Business: How My Swollen Foot Teaches You a LessonMy Profile

  • Michael July 11, 2013, 6:07 pm

    Looking forward to delving into this post. I know myself, I am all over the place with marketing, and I need to fine-tune my search. I think this article is going to help!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Michael

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