A business blog can do wonders for building your brand and promoting your ecommerce dropship business, but many entrepreneurs are stymied for ideas to help drive traffic to their blog.
The fact is that the more traffic you can drum up to your blog, the better off you are!
After all, the whole idea is to use blogging as part of your social media marketing efforts, and you need people in order to be successful at this.
So, here are some tips for boosting traffic flow to your blog:
- This tip is simple, but effective: If you want to get traffic to your own blog, then make it a habit to post comments on other people’s blogs. Don’t choose just any old blogs to read and comment on, of course. You should comment on blogs that correlate in some way with your own ecommerce product or business.
- Use social bookmarking tools such as Digg or StumbleUpon to get a good stream of visitors to your blog. Being designed to help internet users share their favorite sites, if you get a lot of votes on Digg you might be promoted to the front page, which will reap you a lot of traffic!
- Don’t forget SEO for your blog. This is vitally important! The search engines regularly crawl blogs, so besides providing plenty of fresh content for Google and the other major search engines, make sure that your blog is using best SEO practices.
- Start a continuing series of interesting blog articles, something that will be of value to your targeted audience. By arranging these articles in a series, you can hopefully keep visitors coming back for more.
- Article marketing is yet another way to boost traffic to your blog. You can try submitting articles relevant to your industry on eZineArticles or Helium, and place a link to your blog either within each article or on your “About Me” page. If you use Helium for article marketing, you get the added bonus of making a bit of money, too!
Keeping a steady flow of traffic to your blog is a giant step toward building a thriving, profitable home dropshipping business or other ecommerce enterprise.
Did you know that having a blog for your ecommerce website is one of the best ways to build your brand and grow your business?
Business blogs, if done properly, are a wonderful tool for the ecommerce entrepreneur!
Here are some tips to help you launch a great blog for your business:
- Determine what the purpose of your blog will be. Do you want it to be primarily a search marketing tool? Do you want a blog so that customers and potential customers can interact with you? Or maybe a combination of both those things? A blog is like any other endeavor—you should have a plan and a clear idea of what you hope to accomplish.
- When establishing a URL for your business blog, be sure to incorporate the name of your business. It’s nice to use keywords but if you hope to build brand awareness for your business, then you’re better off using your business name in the URL.
- You will need blog software and WordPress is a good choice in most cases. Best of all, it’s free!
- For best results and a polished, professional appearance, you should customize your blog to more or less correlate in some way with your industry or business. There are an abundance of free templates available on the World Wide Web that can be fully customized to suit your taste and purposes.
- Decide on what categories you will have for blog posts and content. In general, it’s best to base these categories on your prime keywords. That way, when you post an article to your blog and designate a category, it will use good SEO techniques.
- Do your best to attract blog subscribers and use clickable widgets so that it’s easy for a reader to share your blog post with others. You should set up accounts on such websites as Digg, Delicious, and others.
Now here is a tip on what NOT to do with your blog: Don’t try making your blog too full of salesy hype about your business as this will be a major turn-off to readers.
Instead, write your blog posts so that they correlate with your industry, and occasionally put in a plug for your ecommerce business. Moderation is the key!
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Even though you are aware of the importance of social media in today’s ecommerce, if you are like most entrepreneurs, you wear a lot of hats and need to optimize the time you spend on social media marketing.
Here are 10 timely tips to help you improve your social media productivity:
1. Take advantage of some of the simple yet effective FREE tools available online to maximize the time you spend on social media marketing. Here is an article with links to some great free tools:
2. Maximize your messages! When it comes to Twitter, especially, with its 140 character limit for tweets—you must choose your words and your messages wisely! So, pack as much of a punch as you possibly can into the messages you send and really make each one count! Think quality rather than quantity!
3. Be choosy about the company you keep. There is no point whatsoever in trying to form close relationships with everybody on every social site you frequent. Instead, focus on the members who offer the most value.
4. Try all of the most popular social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, then experiment to see which ones give you the most bang for your buck, so to speak. Once you’ve narrowed it down to two or three—concentrate on those and forget the others.
5. Have a blog. This is probably one of the most important and effective things you can do for your ecommerce business! Blogs are part and parcel of the whole social media scene, and if you do it right, you can build up quite a following of readers. Don’t try to make your blog all about your business!
6. Organize and schedule the time you spend on social media. Otherwise, it can take over your life the way Kudzu vine has swallowed up the entire South if you let it. Allocate X amount of minutes or hours at specified times, and stick to your schedule.
7. Don’t waste time on duplicate effort! There are free tools available that allow you to post across several social sites simultaneously. This saves a lot of time!
8. Use batch processing! If you can set aside even a couple of hours a week to devote to one aspect of social media marketing, it can be a big help in maximizing your efforts. For instance, if you have a business blog, take2-3 hours every week and write blog posts, or just research material for blog posts so that you will have a clear idea of what you’re going to write before you start, which is a huge timesaver. One trick many bloggers use is to take their laptops somewhere nice and comfy—offline—where they can write with no distractions.
9. Use an RSS feeder for reading blogs and articles that help keep you up-to-date on current events and trends, things you need to know about for social media marketing. Trying to plow through them one-by-one is a lengthy and time consuming process.
10. Use a filter such as PostRank to help you weed out the blogs and articles you don’t want to keep up with, and keep the rest in order of importance.
The time you spend on social media marketing will pay you back with dividends, especially if you use that time wisely!
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Yesterday I mentioned the importance of using dynamic content to give users something to engage with and make your site more social media-friendly. That sounds good, but how does a small business owner go about that? How do you make your site more dynamic? What types of content should SMB owners be producing or aggregating to attract users, increase time spent on site and to help create a community?
Below are seven examples of dynamic content that can help you do just that.
Video: Video content is a great form of “sticky” content because it attracts people to your site and then keeps them there. As we’ve mentioned previously, it’s also perfectly suited for small businesses. Creating How To videos can help people learn how to use your product. It personalizes your company by breaking down that third wall. It entertains and educates. And it lets your customers get to you know, see your face and hear your voice. Don’t be afraid to play around with video. It’s one of the most effective ways to engage people.
RSS: If you have a company blog, put an RSS feed up on your home page. Let people see signs of an active community before they even enter the site. Create an RSS feed of local news headlines or aggregate other blogs in your niche. Something that will grab their eye as soon as they enter the site and hold them there. Immediately presenting users with content that is targeted to their interests is a good way to increase time on site and encourage them to dig deeper.
Widgets: Widgets allow your users to take their favorite content and share it wherever they want. If you’re not creating dynamic content on your site, using widgets is a great way to make it look like you are. Grab the Twitter Profile widget so that users can see you being active on Twitter. Use the Twitter Search widget so people can track your brand name or other town- or industry-specific keywords. Use the AllTop Widget to share content from your favorite blogs on a particular topic.
Images: Pictures are another way to suck people into your site and get them to interact more with your content. An interesting image that catches their eye, a chart that breaks down a complicated concept, something they can print out and refer to later or even an image they can create all on their own (ie ICanHasCheezburger) will draw people into your site and make them want to learn more.
Podcasts: If you marketing toward a more tech savvy audience, podcasts are a great way to engage visitors and give them a reason to keep coming back for more. Podcasts are fairly simple to create and set up and can help your customers relate to you on a more personal level. They allow you to sell and describe your product in your own words, in your real voice. Their one of the most effective ways to engage and to sell, however, not every audience type will keep customers coming back to your site.
User Polls: Polls are quick and easy to embed on your site and they give your audience something to play with. They can also help you do some painless market research by posing questions, asking for feedback, teasing new product launches, etc. Or, you can just use them for fun. Either way, the frequently updating content will give users something they’ll want to check back on.
Live Cam: You want to get users locked onto your Web site? Put up a live feed and let them see you in action. I’ve seen companies put live cams on their 404 pages, pet stores put live cams up on puppies playing, florists show the day’s selection of flowers, businesses pointing their cam to fish tanks, or even coffee shops using a cam to show employees engaging with customers. It’s fun, it’s really simple to set up with free service like UStream, and they’re completely addicting to watch.
Those are some of my favorite types of dynamic content to keep your site fresh and looking alive. Any I missed?
From Small Business Trends
7 Ways To Make Your Site More Dynamic
Getting Bloggers to Write About You
This content from: Duct Tape Marketing
I get daily pitches from PR folks and business owners asking me to write about their news, launch, product, or survey. On one hand, I still think it’s awfully cool that people think enough of blogs and this blogger to pitch me. (Can’t imaging what some really big blogs endure.)
On the other hand, I sure see my share of really bad pitches. I mean the kind that would certainly qualify as spam. These pitches come from some of the biggest names in the PR industry (who should know better) as well as fledgling business start-ups (whom I’m more likely to forgive )
Blog, tweet and fan page coverage is great, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to get it. I offer my 5 Tips for Getting More Exposure from Bloggers, Tweeters and Fans (a systematic approach) in this week’s article for AMEX OpenForum
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Start your own online dropship business today!
Posted by RobOusbey
Hi there – I’m a blogger. Could help me? I read that massive post about ‘lessons learned from three years of blogging‘ and I’ve been brimming with ideas ever since. However, I’d like to attract more views to each of my posts.
OK, I can help you with that, by using one equation and five quick techniques to get you thinking. Here’s the equation:
Number of Posts Read = Number of Visits * Number of Posts Read on Each Visit
Rather than just trying to get more people to your site, we should spend some time talking about the final part of that equation – the number of posts read by each visitor.
So you’re going to help me increase page views?
Not quite. There’s a whole bunch of techniques to increase page views without increasing the number of your posts which are read. As an example: you can publish each articles over a number of pages, and make people click ‘next’ buttons – each single read of a post now generates three page views. Great for a spike in CPM advertising revenue, bad for a long-term play of not irritating you visitors.
OK, I get it. So where do I start?
One technique to consider is that of linking to related posts or content.
Ah! But I already do that – there’s a WordPress plugin I have …
The links in the sidebar or at the end of the article appeal to users who have finished reading and ask ‘what do I do next?’ These might encourage some people to read another post, but users might just wander off through any other link. Whilst they are reading, you have the visitor’s undivided attention – so offer them a few ‘next step’ sign-posts during the article.
For example: You could open the post with a reference to another post, and use a compelling title which encourages them to open it in another tab, and ‘save for later’.
Wait – is that what you did at the top of this post?
Indeedy. I’d also suggest doing something similar near the end of the post, so that you can suggest to the reader a ‘next step’ before they finish reading. Don’t let their attention wander – if they’ve read to the end then they are likely to be happy to read other pages that you recommend. And don’t scroll down to the bottom just to check if I’ve done it here – the answer is yes.
Right, I’ll intelligently include a few ‘related posts’ in the text. What’s next?
A basic idea that is often overlooked is variety. Shake up your style of posting and try some different formats that aren’t just text. SEOMoz has done this quite well recently, with regular videos, downloadable PDF resources, list posts, slide shows, etc.
This allows visitors to read more of your posts without succumbing to the strain / snow-blindness of page after page of similarly formatted posts.
Is that why you published this post in a Q&A format?
It wasn’t intentional – I actually pinched the idea from a mathematics post about the P versus NP problem.
Right. Keep my blog varied to keep visitors interested. Do you have any recommendations about style?
Yes, two actually, and I hope you won’t feel like you are ‘selling out’ to follow them. The first is to stay upbeat – reading a blog with posts that are consistently negative or miserable is tiring. It’s like talking to that guy who always sees the worst and moans about everything – you can’t wait to get away.
If your posts make the reader smile a little, then they’ll be more likely to linger in the ‘happy place’ you have created for them.
The other style point?
I believe that visitors will spend longer on a site if their intelligence is taken for granted, and they are made to feel clever. Avoid long explanations of basic concepts and let your visitors do their own research on any topics you mention which they aren’t familiar with. Similarly, there’s no need to oversimplify the reading level of your text.
Fortunately, we’re lucky that the SEOMoz blog is read by knowledgeable, professional types who are more than capable of reading about advanced concepts and know how to do their own independent research if necessary.
Aw shucks, thanks!
OK, one final idea about structuring your blog: remember that the snippets you display on category pages etc will influence people’s decision on whether to visit a page. However, as these snippets target current users, they may have a different focus to a snippet you would use offsite – say in an RSS feed, on a social book marking site, etc.
For example, you may choose to use this text when persuading people to visit the site:
“A popular piece of traditional SEO advice is ripped apart by Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz. Of course we should just focus on the user – right? Find out why that might be wrong, and then join the debate!”
but on the site we should use:
“You’ve undoubtedly heard the old industry adage: ‘Do what’s right for users and engines will reward you with higher rankings.’ This is tragically misleading, and this post covers specific tactics you must consider, beyond the purely user-focused aspects.”
(By the way: if you’ve not yet had the opportunity, I do recommend reading Rand’s post about this topic and checking out the healthy debate it generated.)
Is this the bit where you hand over to the readers and ask for their suggestions in the comments?
Absolutely. Every post I’ve written for SEOMoz has been followed by some great additions, I’m keen to see what you come up with today.
At nearly 6 months into our B2B Twitter experience, we’ve been more successful at developing a following and engaging our target audience of B2B marketers than I initially expected. These gains have come through a combination of focus – rather than trying to tackle the entire world of B2B social media opportunities all at once, we tackled two blogs and two Twitter accounts with two FTEs – consistent measurement and a healthy willingness to test a wide range of Twitter tactics rather than just following existing “best practices”.
A Look at the “Pro Business Tweeters”
One of our goals when starting on Twitter was to learn the fastest route to a large, engaged group of Twitter followers. We had some advantages in building our @B2BOnlineMktg account, like thousands of subscribers to our B2B search marketing newsletter that we could make aware of our Twitter presence, but we intentionally didn’t use all our promotional power to drive followers. As I’ve said before, we also didn’t use the “spam-and-cull” approach – following hundreds or thousands of Twitter users, seeing which ones automatically follow back, culling out those who do not, following another set of users, and so on – because we want a large and ENGAGED following. What good are 10,000 Twitter followers if none of them pay any attention to what you’re tweeting?
To start getting a handle on how to build a large, engaged group of Twitter followers, we followed a number of more experienced B2B Twitter accounts with 5,000+ followers and started watching for patterns. The follower-friend ratio caught my eye because, after researching many of the existing B2B social media “best practices,” it was clear that there were two very different, and often conflicting, perspectives on the right way to engage in social media.
The first is a view of social media as an interpersonal medium governed by interpersonal rules. For example, if someone wants to be your friend, the polite thing is to shake hands, say “hi”, and try to be friends – most people would consider it just plain rude to walk away. Those pro business tweeters with a follower-friend ratio around 1 seem to be following this norm and with automatically following someone back. Since there’s no obvious, objective benefit to blocking a follower if you decide not to be their friend, follower and following counts grow together.
The other group with a follower-friend ratio on the 5+ range seems to be viewing social media as a mass communication medium governed by mass communication rules, and the pro business tweeters in this group are often larger companies, business media and/or experienced execs at mid- to large-sized companies. From a mass communication perspective, it’s perfectly acceptable and even expected for the relationship to be one-sided or interactive only on demand (such as when a customer has a question). After all, its utterly impossible for someone to follow 5,000+ other Twitter users, let alone 500, and pay attention to all their tweets. If you think reading and processing 100 emails a day is a challenge, try 5,000 tweets.
You see these same styles with newer and much smaller Twitter for business accounts as well – some follow hundreds of others to kick start their own follower base (and then worry about how unfollowing may hurt their reputation) while others follow very few but seem to attract a lot of followers themselves.
How to Build An Engaged Business Twitter Following
If you’ve thought of using Twitter for business and/or find your existing business Twitter presence stalled out with little follower engagement, here are some thoughts to get you on the right track:
1. Twitter is a viable business communication channel, end of story – From what I’ve seen in the past six months, Twitter has a role as a business communication channel for most B2B companies. Whether Twitter figures out a way to monetize its business or not is irrelevant because, if Twitter fails, some other micro-blogging platform will take its place. If you’ve already tried Twitter for your business and struggled to make it work, it’s most likely because the B2B social media rules are still being written. Don’t give up, and keep your eye on this list of B2B social media resources for the straight scoop.
2. Twitter for business is mass communication – I’m sure I’ll get hate mail for this one but if you plan to use Twitter for business, and you have more than a few hundred prospects/customers/influencers combined, you’re kidding yourself if you think interpersonal norms can govern how you use Twitter or other social media for your business. Why? Because Twitter is incredibly inefficient for forming interpersonal relationships. 140 character tweets are efficient for finding interesting people/content, maintaining contact with existing “friends” (as was the original purpose of Twitter) and asking/addressing simple questions. Establishing more meaningful business relationships through Twitter, though, is highly inefficient – people connect on Twitter, then want to take the conversation elsewhere because going back-and-forth through 140 character bursts is a quick road to carpal tunnel syndrome. For the vast majority of businesses out there, “mass communication” is the model you should follow as you plan your Twitter strategy.
3. You have a business contact list, so use it – As a business on Twitter, you don’t need to build a following like an individual would. This is a key advantage for business Twitter users that’s either forgotten or, more likely, ignored out of some combination of a misplaced desire to not disrupt existing communication channels and the sheer revulsion many B2B marketers feel when considering how a P2P or B2C trend may apply to their business. Get over it. Establish a basic Twitter presence, make your prospects and customers aware of this new channel, and let them use it.
4. Focus on tweet quality over tweet quantity – I covered this finding in my interview with Mark Schaefer about Twitter for business, but we’ve found that tweeting interesting things (e.g., tweets with links that more people click on) has a much bigger, positive influence on follower growth rate than does tweet volume (e.g., making sure you tweet very frequently to keep your tweets in front of your followers). In other words, the best practice for getting people’s attention and interest on Twitter is the same as it is across other business communication channels – talk when you have something important to say. Blanketing your followers with tweets doesn’t work any better than does blanketing the media with press releases about non-issues or hammering a direct mail list with irrelevant offers. One more reason to look at Twitter as a mass communication channel for business rather than a medium ruled by strict adherence to norms of interpersonal interaction.
The next step in our social media experiment: finding out how you use social networking sites. Are you using Facebook to promote your business? Are you finding information and resources on Twitter to help you do your job more effectively? We’ve put together a business social media benchmarking survey to uncover the most important social media metrics, what’s working in business social media (and what is not), and how use varies by company size, industry, customer focus. Everyone who completes the survey by September 4, 2009 will receive a free summary of the results in mid- to late-September, just in time for those graphs and charts to be useful for planning your 2010 marketing strategy and social media initiatives. We’re also holding a drawing for a $2,000 American Express® Gift Card among all eligible respondents who complete the survey. Click here to take the survey.
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About the Author: Ben Hanna is VP, Marketing for Business.com. Business.com shares insights about B2B online marketing through @B2BOnlineMktg — and, in the process, builds awareness of Business.com as a key online resource for solutions to business challenges.
Customers like social media. They like having a way to engage socially with the brands they love. They like getting immediate answers to their questions. They like seeing the human element behind the brand. All the daily encounters. Social media is made for the consumer. But what if you’re a small business owner who either doesn’t have time to engage in social media or who, frankly, just doesn’t want to? Is it possible to farm out the task to someone else?
You can. But you maybe shouldn’t.
Here’s the thing, the best social media experiences happen when someone is able to relate to your brand in a real way. It’s when you can reach out to them, help them solve a problem, and learn a little bit about them in the process. It’s about creating relationships that you’ll be able to call on and leverage in the future. And you’re going to have an easier time doing that as you, then getting someone else to do it in your name. You’re also likely to learn a lot more.
The basis of social media is transparency. It’s about exposing a bit of yourself to your customers so that they feel like they “know you”, that they can “trust you” and that you’re someone they want to do business with. The purists of social media (myself included) will always tell you that this is best done as “you”, not by farming it out.
However, sometimes to stay efficient and profitable, it may make more sense for you to hire someone from outside your organization to blog, tweet and to act as you in social media. Sometimes asking someone else to do it in your name is better than not doing it at all.
If you’re going to go down this path, make sure the person you hire is there to represent the company, not a specific person who’s actually on staff. They should be engaging customers as “Joe’s Flowers” not “Joe Smith from Joe’s Flowers”. Creating a fake avatar or allowing someone to blog under the name of your CEO probably won’t win you friends when it’s discovered and your name is dragged through the blogosphere. However, if you’re that florist, it may be possible to contract someone who is interested in the industry and then hire them to tweet on your behalf. They already share the same passions as you, they’re competent in the subject matter and they’ll probably enjoy engaging with people who are “like” them.
And that really is the best case scenario. That’s how you get someone who will be engaging, infectious and draw people to them. Basically, they’ll enjoy the time spent instead of resenting it.
If you do contract out your social responsibilities, make sure the person you hire understands the company culture, what they are and are not allowed to say, and the appropriate way to handle customers and complaints. You wouldn’t want to invest the money into paying someone to tweet as you and then have them go off the handle and insult all your customers. Whoever you hire will be representing you and your company on a large scale. Make sure they’re doing it accurately.
The issue of ghost bloggers and ghost tweeters is a contentious one at the moment. If you’re interested in the topic, the folks at Social Media Explorer had a great post about the ethics of ghost blogging that’s definitely worth a read, as well.