Successful marketing is the result of tactical variety – many tools in a box to reach as much of target audience as possible. Especially for small businesses on a budget, a blog and podcasts can be highly effective if done right. And here’s how you do that right.
Internet Marketing – Using Blogs and Podcasts to Capture Audiences
Cyberspace is crowded. In fact, there are well over a billion websites on the web, and about 200,000 more are added daily. Of course, there are the “biggies” – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and sites like Amazon that have become clearinghouses for just about anything you might want to buy.
Here you are – this lowly entrepreneur who has a product or service to sell. You want to capture a share of the marketplace, so you design a website – a nice one that showcases your product(s) or service(s) and explains their value to anyone who lands there.
The easy part is over. It now becomes an issue of marketing – getting people to know who you are, where you are, and to actually come visit you. There are a lot of marketing tools and strategies, so let’s talk about two that are low-cost and that can have a solid impact, especially when used in conjunction with social media – blogs and podcasts.
Anyone who has a business website must have a blog. Why? Because, if done right, it can be a major draw to your site. But there are some important “rules” to creating a blog and writing posts that others actually want to read. Here are the most important.
- The purpose is not to sell anything. The purpose is to entertain, to give great information to people who need it, and, sometimes, just to inspire. The bigger goal, of course, is to establish relationships, encourage conversations, and build your brand awareness by engaging current readers so much that they will want to share what you have to say.
- Provide value to your readers – they have to want to come to your blog because you are solving a problem or giving good advice as an expert. If you sell deck stain, for example, think of all the issues people have in building and maintaining their decks. Some of them might have to do with your product, but many will not. Help them out anyway with the information you can provide. You then come across as someone who genuinely cares about problems they face.
- Choose many different ways to deliver your content.
- You can tell humorous or poignant stories
- You can use visuals – photos, infographics, drawings. People far prefer visuals to text.
- You can embed videos that explain or show “how to”
- Let your audience get to know you as a person – they are much more inclined to buy from you if they like you.
- Give plenty of ways for your readers to share what you write – you want to capture even more followers
- Use simple, straightforward language. You are not writing a school essay or paper here. You are talking to a friend. Write that way.
- Don’t waste readers’ time with lots of fluff. They are busy and want to “get in and get out.” You can actually improve writing skill by studying social media posts, maybe those of your competitors. Here you will learn how to condense content, both by writing less and by adding visuals. Or you can hire any writer or service like get academic help for this.
- Create catchy engaging titles for your blog posts – people are intrigued by titles and will click through when one piques their interest. You should spend as much time on titles as you do on the rest of the content. If this is a challenge for you, use some of the cool title generator tools to help.
- Have a regular schedule for posting. As your audience builds, it will come to expect your posts. When you ignore a blog for a while, your followers will stop coming. And if they don’t come, you will not convert them into leads and ultimate customers.
- Use your blog as a way to get email addresses. Don’t give away all of your information in the post. Offer some additional information or a content “upgrade” through a link. The gateway to that extra stuff is supplying an email address.
- Another way to get email addresses is to offer a subscription to your posts which will show up in their emails automatically, without them having to access your blog. Of course, you can then use those emails to also offer discounts, free trials, etc. with links to your website landing pages.
- Be sure that you have the tools in place so that each post can be shared on social media platforms with a simple click. You grow your audience base when your followers share your content with their communities. And there is nothing wrong with asking or prompting readers to share that content. You don’t get what you don’t ask for!
- Set up methods for conversation threads on your posts. Ask questions that they can respond to. Get responses and you respond back – the more conversation you can get going, the more popular your blog will become. You want your posts to become forums for discussion.
- You have to market your blog just as you would market your products or services. We’ll discuss this later.
There is a lot of information and advice out there about using visuals and videos in your content marketing efforts. Part of this strategy involves podcasts – either audio/visual or just audio. They can be powerful methods to connect with your audience, and you have many options.
- Podcasts can be consumed by busy people on the go – while they commute, complete household chores, garden, walk or workout. They are usually consumed while people are doing less focused tasks, so they are able to focus on what you are saying.
- Use a combination of delivery methods. Use video/audio combined; strip out the audio and use just it for people on the go.
- People have different amounts of time to spend. You can have one of a “normal” length (e.g., 20 minutes) and a condensed version that is shorter.
- Have a regular schedule of podcasts; if you cannot, be certain that you market your podcasts through all of your other presences (website, blog, social media)
- Just like blog posts, you are not creating podcast content to sell your stuff. You are creating it to give valuable information and to entertain.
- Consider using a conversation or an interview via podcast. These can be very effective.
- If you have the time and the wherewithal, consider syndicating your podcasts on a regular schedule. If they are engaging, listeners will add them to their schedules too. They will also share them with their communities – more brand awareness.
- Sometimes, you will be able to turn a widely popular blog post or series of blog posts into a podcast – these can be powerful and effective and can reach an audience that has missed the post themselves. And just like blog posts, podcasts can be measured by a number of downloads, so that you can determine the effectiveness of your efforts.
- The opposite works as well. If your analytics show a popular podcast/audio cast, re-purpose the content into blog posts for your reading audience.
Marketing Your Blog and Podcasts
Think of your blog and your podcasts as products you must advertise and promote. You can write and record phenomenal stuff, but if no one knows about it, you are dead in the water. Here are some promotional tips:
- Follow popular bloggers in related niches. If you sell deck stain, hook up with landscaping and gardening experts. See if you can set up reciprocal arrangements to promote each other’s posts, videos, and podcasts.
- Submit your posts to related sites for publishing – offer to do the same for them
- Put intriguing “teasers” to you content on social media platforms with links to your content
- Announce contests through your social media platforms. The “ticket” to entry is to access a blog post or podcast you have crafted that will also give the entry details.
- Offer something free to readers/viewers/listeners who share your content on their social media pages.
You know your audience, so entice with incentives that will appeal to them. The goal here is to spread your content (and thus your brand) like ripples on a pond.
Remember – Variety is the Operative Word
Content marketing strategies should include a variety of methods and tactics to reach your audience. Some prefer reading/viewing; some prefer videos, and some will prefer podcasts. And all of these mediums can be placed as attachments in emails, on social media, on your blog and within other pages on your website. Having a variety of presentations is the best way to ensure that you are reaching out to all potential customers, setting up those relationships that will build trust in you and your brand.
Malia Keirsey is a passionate blogger and writer from Chicago. She has finished The University of Chicago with master’s degree in sociology. Malia is fond of blogging and web design. Follow @MaliaKeirsey on Twitter.