Friday, February 16, 2018

Eight Types of Blog Posts Every Contractor Should Use

So you sit down to come up with topics for your next couple of blog posts and…nothing. You draw a total blank.

Sometimes business blog post ideas come hard and fast like a heavy rain. Other times you have a total mental drought on what to write about next.

Don’t sweat it! There are a couple of blog formats that can work well for just about any subject. Adding them to your repertoire can make coming up with your next blog post topics as easy as falling off a unicycle.

In fact, you can use this list to plan your blog strategy for months in advance. If you make some of these blog post types a recurring monthly series, for instance, you can know exactly what you’ll write about at least half the time.

So get out your notebook or spreadsheet and jot down the following eight great blog post formats that have a way of working well in just about any context.

(Note that the letter “X” stands for any number of list items you end up using. We’re also using [Topic] as a stand-in for whatever subject or focus you’re writing about.)

1. Best Practices in [Topic], X Killer Tips for [Topic], X [Topic] Hacks You Didn’t Know About, X Steps to Get Better at [Topic] Etc.

Everyone loves lists. They’re a top-performing content type, especially on social media.

Why are lists so effective? Well, let’s list a few reasons.

  1. They’re quick and easy to read, even if you’re just skimming.
  2. It’s an engaging format that’s easy to get into. You won’t find huge thesis introductions or the like.
  3. They cover a broad range of topics, ideas, practices, etc. efficiently.
  4. They implicitly promise a certain amount of value. You’re not just getting one tip, you’re getting X of them!
  5. They have variety. If you have a list of “10 Things You Need to Do to Feel Better at the End of the Day,” a reader can hate seven of the suggestions but still find huge value in the last three.

Of course, not just any list can fulfill this criteria when writing your contractor blog. The lists you write must contain actual value and usefulness.

That’s why blog posts that promise self-improvement do so well. Just reading the list of hacks, tips, best practices, etc. will suddenly make you better at doing that thing you wanted to do.

Try to distill or retool certain topics you want to cover into helpful lists. They strongly communicate that the article is worth every bit of the reader’s time. They also pack tons of value into a small space.

2. X Top Trends in [Topic]

Everyone wants to stay current. That’s one of the biggest reasons we go online and read content. We want to find out what’s new and exciting. We also want to avoid being left behind if the latest trends are going to soon become standard practices.

Keep your audience abreast of things happening in your industry with lists of top current trends. These post types work especially well with seasonal timing, such as “X Trends in Social Media for 2018” or “Brands Are Preparing for the 2018 Holiday Season Already Thanks to These X Trends.”

contractor marketing plan

The beauty of the term “trends” is that it’s incredibly vague.

A trend can be a best practice for something people use already. For instance, many businesses use emotional photos when sharing blogs on social as a standard practice because such photos are effective at getting engagement.

A trend can also be something relatively new, like how many businesses have started using live video broadcasts for behind the scenes looks, live announcements, Q&As and more.

Trends also include bold new ideas bursting onto the horizon. For instance, some small businesses have realized that they can be the first thing a smart speaker like Amazon Echo or Google Home suggests if they focus their SEO strategies on voice search.

In a way, listing trends is similar to offering tips and hacks, but with stronger connotations of being timely and keeping up with the Joneses. You can also discuss hot new topics that get people’s adrenaline pumping.

Make a pledge to reveal current trends at least a few times a year, and you’ll help your audience stay hip and always on the cutting edge.

3. Roundup of Top Resources in [Topic]

Even if you wrote a blog every single day, you’d never have as much content or cover as many subjects as some of the best content publishers out there.

That’s why it’s ok to send people away from your website from time to time in order to give them the exact information they need. If you can point them towards an excellent resource, then they will appreciate the huge favor you’ve done them.

Sharing great resources also has the added effect of some of their prestige rubbing off on you. “Oh man, I didn’t know how many free classes there were for coding online,” someone might say, “but this business pointed me towards Codecademy, and I’ve been using it every weekend!”

Think of it like suggesting great films to a movie buff. They’ll be impressed that you knew something they didn’t. The better quality thing you point them towards, the more prestigious you become by association.

contractor marketing tips

So what kind of resources work best?

  • Great blogs that take a more in-depth angle to topics than you do
  • Free sources of things like stock photos, how-tos, lessons, guides, etc.
  • Ways to do something cheaply, such as ordering replacement car parts yourself from a reliable online vendor
  • Lists of the best apps or tech tools to use that make their life easier
  • Explicit instructions, such as how Swim University provides infographics to help someone open their pool or balance their chemicals
  • Anything that uses humor or creativity to perfectly capture your industry, like how the Marketoonist nails the way marketers eagerly embrace technology they don’t quite know how to use properly
  • Great videos to watch on certain subjects, especially if you have a limited video content strategy

4. X Experts to Follow for [Topic]

No matter how smart you are, there are always people in your industry who will know more about something than you do. That’s totally ok! We can’t know everything, and even geniuses can be bested in certain niche topics.

Following the experts in your industry therefore makes perfect sense. They can fill you in on certain concepts, and they can also explore topics in your industry from angles you hadn’t considered.

Others may have a brilliant way of summing up complex issues in a few words. For instance, we adored this simple yet profound advice from Shopify Podcast host Kurt Elster on website design.

Following industry experts and insiders also critically keeps your audience up-to-date with the absolute latest and best-of-breed ideas within your industry.

Point your audience towards your favorite mentors, geniuses, and newsbreakers. They’ll stay better-informed on topics and practices, letting you dive more in-depth with concepts thanks to them being so well versed.

5. The Ultimate Guide to [Topic]

Every once in a while, it makes complete sense to delve into a topic like you would an in-depth manual or guide. Doing so gives your audience valuable troves of information.

Guides also serve as a one-stop source for whatever topic you’re covering. While that amount of depth can seem like a lot to cover at once, you can provide a hyperlinked “Table of Contents” to make jumping between topics easier.

You can also reference the guide directly within your future content. Rather than backing up to explain the basics all the time, you can simply hyperlink to your guide.

“Ultimate Guide” posts tend to get huge volumes of shares, and search engines adore them. If you provide the right structured data, Google may even feature your guide at the very top of search engine results in their knowledge box!

6. Statistics Roundup Post

Sometimes people want “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Whether they need a lot of fact-based information to make decisions, or they just want to reference stats in their own content, creating statistics posts offer bucketloads of usefulness to audiences.

As an added bonus, each time you reference a certain statistic for your industry, you can link to your stats rundown instead of the original source. This helps your posts stay fact-based and valuable while directing fewer people away from your domain.

7. Expert Roundup — Quotes & Thoughts From Your Industry

online marketing for contractors

Rounding up expert commentary and opinions is like bringing all your favorite talking heads into one room for a conversation. You can frame a complex topic from multiple angles, or you can run through critical concepts list style alongside experts’ own input.

Consider making expert roundups a regular part of your posting schedule. They work especially well as a follow up to posts you’ve just written. For example, you can write about how to improve ecommerce sales through PPC campaigns one week, then follow up with an expert roundup on the subject the next.

8. Curated Posts and News Roundups

With the right approach, you can link to another post in a way that still brings authority to your own domain and contractor business brand.

The key is to not just introduce the piece and say “click here.” Instead, give a thorough introduction along with a brief summary. Make sure to tie the post in with any recent blog posts you’ve written regarding the topic.

Also, give your own response to the piece itself at the end. Reflect on what it means personally to your business or how it relates to core concepts you hold dear.

With this approach, something as a simple as a post share can easily turn into a 500 word article with an extremely low likelihood of an SEO penalty.

You can even curate several posts in a row as part of a news roundup for your industry. Doing this once a week or once a month can provide great content for email subscribers as well as your regular blog readers.

Coming Up With Good Contractor Blog Post Ideas Doesn’t Have to Mean Reinventing the Wheel

All of the above post types use a standardized, structured format while still inviting plenty of room for your own personal flavor and creativity.

Don’t think of using these business blog post ideas as a crutch! Instead, they serve as a springboard for your own contractor content marketing ideas to come forth.

Audiences also like knowing exactly what to expect when they click to read something, and these blog ideas definitely give them that.

So stay creative and true to your audience but don’t bend over backwards just to come up with new blog topics all the time. Using the formats above, you can feel like most of the work is done for you before you even write the first word.

Eight Types of Blog Posts Every Contractor Should Use posted first on Contractor Media - Internet Marketing For Contractors

Friday, February 2, 2018

5 Ways For Contractors to Revamp Their Social Media Strategy in 2018

With just a few improvements, your social media profiles could become the crown jewel of your digital marketing strategy in 2018. By switching up your approach and committing to a higher level of quality, you could soon be generating more leads, revenue, and interest in your company with minimal effort.

The great thing about social media marketing is that it doesn’t have to take a lot of your time to work wonders. If you plan ahead and use social media to reinforce your other marketing activities, you can achieve huge ROI through both organic and paid social campaigns.

So, to inspire you to improve your social presence and go beyond expectations, try implementing the following five highly effective social media marketing improvements in 2018.

Create a Social Media Marketing Strategy Document

contractor marketing strategy

Writing down your marketing ideas matters. According to CoSchedule, professionals who document their planned marketing strategy are over five times more likely to achieve success. Also, 88% of people who set marketing goals actually achieve them.

Documenting your social strategy involves both high-level and low-level considerations.

On the high level, you want to include your overarching goals for social. You want to describe how social media fits within your overall digital marketing plan. You want a few guiding pointers for brand voice and the type of values you want to express.

For low-level strategy, consider how often you want to post per week or per month. Plan a budget for the next quarter. Describe publisher sources for shared content you want to write.

Getting all of this down in writing helps you stay focused and consistent. It also makes it easier to communicate your intended strategy to others, such as employees or contract marketers.

Most importantly, it keeps you from approaching your social media activities haphazardly. Having intention and purpose is the key to achieving better results.

Coordinate Social Posts With Specific Campaigns

If you want to push your social media marketing to the next level in 2018, try a couple of test campaigns. These campaigns should tie into special events, promotions or campaign pushes so that they can have an express purpose beyond “just posting because.”

For instance, if you have a promotional offer like a free consultation, your social campaigns can convert audiences into leads or customers. If you have an event, like a big in-store sale, you will be aiming to increase foot traffic over the sale period.

Connecting social media activity to campaigns in this way ties them to concrete goals. Your performance can be benchmarked, helping you seek out ways to improve your next campaign based on past data.

For each campaign, create custom graphics and a variety of post ideas. For example, you can plan to develop a few beautiful photo-based posts as a way to turn heads on a platform like Instagram. You can also create a few strong call-to-action posts to generate interest and early signups on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Creating special, limited time campaigns like these helps you learn quick lessons and improve rapidly with your social media use. The data you generate and experience you gain gives you skills that make you better at using social media, helping you improve and accomplish your goals more consistently over time.

Create Content Marketing Assets and Landing Pages Just for Social

contractor online marketing

You can significantly upgrade your social media marketing returns by creating assets specifically designed to complement social posts.

For instance, you can create a lead capture landing page for specific target segments to use with targeted promoted social media posts. That way, your call to action can take 18-year-old college students to a different page with different appeals than your page aiming to convert 70-year-old retirees.

You can also create assets that you know will perform well on social, such as infographics. Infographics get around 41.5% engagement, on average, making them the content with the second-best ROI behind video.

Developing assets like these help connect your social media presence to customer actions that actually generate revenue. They also ensure you have a best-fit destination for each outgoing click to your website, as opposed to shoehorning a single “contact us” page link into every post or something similar. Since each asset is custom-made for social, they’re better suited to their individual purpose.

Invest in Professional Grade Social Video

Speaking of developing visual content with high ROI, now is the time to start considering using video within your social media marketing strategy.

Businesses that use video marketing generate 66% more qualified customer leads and earn 54% more brand awareness compared to those that don’t use any video. Even more impressive, 77% of small business owners who use video report significant benefits and positive ROI.

In the past, we’ve mentioned how live video and repurposing content as slideshows can be a great way to dip your toes into the video marketing scene. But to truly revamp your social presence, you should consider budgeting for a few (3-5) short, professionally made video assets worth sharing on social.

Why? Because these assets get attention and shape the way people see your business. They serve as a form of social proof for the quality of your services when they include live testimonials. They give you something to link to within other campaigns and to embed within your blogs. They also serve as brief sales pitches that can be far more convincing than any chunk of text.

For best results, plan ahead for when and why you want to use your video assets and how you can repurpose them in multiple ways for future campaigns.

Promote Posts to Targeted Audiences with Paid Social Advertising

contractor advertising online

Like video, we’ve suggested using paid social media advertising several times at this point. Well, we’re going to mention it again because it’s an easy marketing method that can have a huge impact on your bottom line!

Social media engagement almost always comes at a lower cost per lead and cost per click compared to advertising on paid search or through display ads. Promoted social media posts can also be targeted to specific customer segments, helping you get your messages in front of the perfect audience you need to earn more customers.

Social advertising platforms also generate useful data to help structure, strategize and shape your future social media marketing plans. Combine it with any and all of the strategies above to take a truly professional turn in 2018 and create a more polished and welcoming social media presence.

5 Ways For Contractors to Revamp Their Social Media Strategy in 2018 posted first on Contractor Media - Internet Marketing For Contractors