Blogging is Dead but Content is More Important Than Ever

Blogging was initially a vehicle for people to express their thoughts on a particular subject, and to allow others to read what they had to say. Blog posts were usually relatively short written expressions of thoughts, sort of like brain dumps, as opposed to classically researched and written articles.  A blogger could just sit at their keyboard and let their thoughts go wild.

With the rise of Google’s search engine, marketers began to realize that the more content the search engine robots could find and index, the greater the chance that potential customers would find them. The higher up in the search engine results you could get your content would directly effect the amount of traffic that would be directed to your website. The easiest way to create content in volume was through blogging. Suddenly, companies of all sizes began blogging.

In 1999, according to a list compiled by Jesse James Garrett, there were 23 blogs on the internet. By the middle of 2006, there were 50 million blogs according to Technorati‘s State of the Blogosphere report. Today the number is probably well over 200 million.

The Heyday of Blogging

Marketers quickly discovered that blogs didn’t really have to be very good to rank highly in Google. They learned that Google’s search algorithm’s ranked content based on metrics relating to and revolving around specific keywords. If you placed the right keywords in the right meta tags and used them a lot in your blog post, you had a pretty good chance of ranking highly in the search results for those keywords. Sure, the algorithm took other factors into account (like links, headers etc), but keyword usage and placement in content seemed to be the biggest one.

As a result, marketers began churning out blog posts that were optimized for (and stuffed with) their target keywords. Most of these posts were so badly written (usually by offshore writers whose native language was not English) that no semi educated human would bother spending more than 10 seconds trying to read it. Many of these posts were even generate by machines! But even though they were useless to humans, the search engines loved them and pushed them up in their rankings. Content farms began springing up with the sole purpose of churning out optimized posts that were exactly what search engines were looking for. It was sort of like if stupid cat videos began winning all of the Oscars. Something was seriously messed up.

The Downfall of Blogging

It took them a few years, but the Google search mavens finally realized what was going on and decided to do something about it. They understood that Google’s success depended on giving searchers the answers and information that they really wanted. And searchers wanted pertinent, well written information — not machine generated, uber-optimized, nonsensical gibberish.

So Google began releasing sweeping changes to its search algorithm, named after cute animals like Panda, Penguin, Pigeon and Possum. These updates were aimed at rewarding relevant and informative content and penalizing the useless stuff. Practically overnight, millions of sites were effected and lost their search rankings. Many ecommerce websites that thrived primarily on the flow of traffic sent by Google as a result of their low quality (highly optimized) but highly ranking content were put out of business.

After an awesome and highly profitable run, the days of content farms and low quality search engine bait were over.

Blogging as we knew it was dead.

long live content

Long Live Content

Google’s efforts to improve the quality of their search results resulted in reinvigorating blogging, but in a different format. Whereas the ideal blog post used to be between 350 and 500 words, Google now seems to be favoring posts of at least 1,000 words. The reasoning behind that is probably because the longer the article the more information and implied benefit to the reader.

Keyword placement is still important to let Google know what your article is about, but Google’s robots are now smart enough to figure out what your content is about without you shoving keywords down their throat. While optimizing your content with title, description and header tags is still important, the most important thing you can do to get your content ranked highly is to write the most awesome piece of content you can. Great content will get linked to, which will in turn push it higher in the rankings. More importantly, it will help you convert visitors into customers.

Why You Need Content Marketing

Content is more important than ever to help you generate more business. In fact, the marketing gurus even coined a new term to reflect the role of content in marketing – Content Marketing. The term vindicates the role that practical and direct role that content plays in generating lead and converting them into customers.

The theory behind content marketing is simple. When someone is in need of a product or service, he will do some form of  research to learn more about the product or service. One of the most popular ways of doing that is by searching on Google. Other ways might be through local directories, relevant publications or through a personal network of contacts. However he chooses to conduct his search, he will probably end up consuming some form of content. It might be a YouTube video, an article in a newspaper, a page on a company website, or an ebook guide … it might even be a good old fashioned print book (yes, they do still exist!).

If the content is informative and engaging, there’s a good chance that the searcher might decide to move forward on his “buyer’s journey” by contacting the seller or service provider.

“Two-thirds to 90% of the buying cycle is completed before a B2B buyer ever speaks with a sales rep.” – Forrester

That’s why it’s imperative for you to provide potential customers with the content that will answer their questions, establish yourself or your company as an expert or thought leader in your field and lead them to contact you.

Content Comes in Many Forms

The content you use to market to potential customers can come in various forms. Here are a few popular ones:

Web Pages

Your website is the hub of your digital marketing efforts. It’s the primary place that potential customers will look for information about your company, product or service.  The content of each page on your website must be created with your customer in mind. What information will she be searching for in order to make her decision to contact you? The answer to that question should be translated into website content.

Companies will often invest in professional web design, which is important to establish the image and respectability of their company, but they’ll neglect their content. They’ll either have weakly written content or have no content at all that covers areas important to potential customers. Even if they do write informative content, that content will not be geared towards marketing their product of service. It often won’t contain a specific call to action to allow potential customers to engage with or a way for them to contact you.

Every page on your website should be created from an overall marketing perspective.

Blog posts

Blog posts are different than web pages in that they reflect new and ongoing efforts to discuss topics and to answer questions. Whereas web pages contain information about company, products or services that remains static for the most part, blog posts should discuss new product or service related developments and changes and address (and attempt to solve) current issues as they arise. Each post should also have a marketing objective and contain a call to action (CTA).

Every web page and post should be optimized according to the latest SEO standards to ensure that they have the best chance at ranking highly in the search engines. For specific details on optimization click here. But ranking highly in search results through SEO should be the reason for creating great content, especially when trying to rank for competitive keywords. Focus on providing customers with great content instead of trying to attract and impress search engines.

Guest Posts

Guest posts are articles that you publish on other blogs or websites. The idea is to guest post on sites with readers who are your potential customers. Get the opportunity to post on a site with a large target audience usually takes persistence and relationship building, but the results could be well worth the effort. Say you’re a tog trainer — wouldn’t it be awesome to get an article published on the Petco blog (I assume they have one). Besides the potential traffic, there’s a nice SEO benefit in getting a link to your site from another reputable site in your industry.

Resource Guides

Resource guides are blog posts on steroids They usually run over 2,500 words and contain valuable information to guide users in a particular subject — like a “how to” guide. If it’s good this type of resource guide will get linked to because it clearly provides a high degree of value to the reader.

Social Media

The traffic you can potentially get from social media platforms is huge, as long as you post the right type of content. Sharing a link of your latest blog posts is obviously good practice. But sometimes posting a brief update or sharing a photo or image can be much more powerful and successful. You need to be familiar with what works on different social media platforms and create or modify your content accordingly. What works on Linkedin probably won’t work on Instagram.


A great way to show your expertise and thought leadership is by publishing ebooks. They’re also a popular way to bait potential customers into giving you their email address or contact info. They get a valuable resource and you get their info. But perhaps more important than getting their contact info is getting the opportunity to market yourself to them via the book. Which is why your ebook needs to be top notch and written from a marketing perspective. Poorly written or shabbily put together ebooks drive potential customers away. Would you hire someone who publishes and distributes crappy stuff?


Content has become one of the most important marketing vehicles with which to get customers. But it needs to be high quality, informative and engaging in order to both rank well in search engine results and to convince potential customers to contact you. To beat the competition requires creating higher quality content in different formats for different platforms. As they say, content is king — now more than ever.




The Truth about Building a Massive Email List

A friend of mine was all excited when he told me about this marketing guru who promises to teach anyone how to build an enormous email list in just a few months. Sound familiar? It should, since there are probably hundreds (maybe thousands?) of self-proclaimed digital marketing experts, coaches and gurus who make the identical claim. We all know the marketing importance of an email list, so who isn’t interested in building a massive one?

While many of these email “dream weavers” have never actually grown their own successful email list, there are those who have, and really do know what they are doing. I personally follow marketing maven Noah Kagan, who has a real track record of creating and implementing successful digital marketing, including email marketing, campaigns. I also use his Sumo website tools for capturing email addresses.

But even using the greatest tools and getting expert advice, the only way you’re going to build an email list is if you provide content that your users want enough to persuade them to give you their email address for. That’s the part that many people who flock to take expert courses or who spend money of expensive tools are missing.

In a recent post on the Sumome blog called The 2017 Guide For Growing Your Email List 1K in 30 Days, the author suggests that while SEO and building a powerful social media presence are valid longer term strategies, if you want to get subscribers fast, there are only two ways that he recommends:

1. Paid Traffic

This one is pretty clear to understand. Anyone with enough money and a half decent ad can drive traffic to a website or social media page. The more money you invest, the more traffic you can get.

I remember speaking with the owner of a health related website startup about how he planned to drive traffic to his new site. The man, who was a veteran of large online businesses, wasn’t phased in the least. He told me that traffic was no problem. All he had to do was throw enough money at it and he’d have all the traffic he could handle. The only problem with that strategy is if you don’t have enough money to invest in generating the traffic needed to pay for itself.

But even if you have all the money, and traffic, in the world, it won’t help you build your list or sell your product unless you are offering something that people really want. If you want people to give you their email addresses, you need to offer them content that they feel they need right now.

Can you create that content on your own? You’ll have to answer that question for yourself. But if you can’t do it on your own, you’re not alone. Most people can’t. So they pay someone else to do it for them. That means you have to pay for traffic AND for your content. You’ll most likely have to pay for someone to build your website or landing page too, or you can use a paid service like to set up a landing page. The email growth experts apparently either have great faith in your talents and assume that you can create your content and landing page on your own, or they figure that you have lots of cash to spend.

2. Get Influencers to Promote You

This idea sounds almost too good to be true, probably because it is in most cases. All you need to do is identify the influencers in your niche, form relationships with them, and then they’ll happily promote your product or service to their tens or hundreds of thousands of followers. If you need proof, you can read the handful of success stories of people just like you who actually did it. There’s always the possibility that you’ll be able to add your name to that short list of successful influencer persuaders.

But the truth is that the only way that influencers will give you the time of day is either because you have something to offer them or because your content is simply too good to ignore and they happen to take a liking to you. Creating content that will blow the socks off of influencers isn’t easy. That mens you’ll either have to be a rock star, or hire one (which equals more $$$).

Bottom Line

There’s no easy way to magically grow a quality email list in a relatively short time (or even in a not so short time) without offering content that your target users want and are willing to trade their email addresses for. But as great as your content is, you’ll still have to spend money, one way or another, to drive traffic to it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a fact that you should be aware of when planning your email list building venture.

If you decide to hire someone to create the type of content that will persuade users to give you their email addresses, please contact us.

6 Steps to Content Marketing Success

Content Marketing has become one of the hottest topics in marketing, for good reason: it works. Here are just a few statistics to explain why:

“Two-thirds to 90% of the buying cycle is completed before a B2B buyer ever speaks with a sales rep.” – Forrester

“Business buyers spend just 21% of buying cycle in conversations with salespeople, instead spending 23% of the time in conversations with peers and colleagues and 56% of the buying cycle searching for and engaging with content” – IDG Connect

Here’s a quick definition of content marketing via

content marketing definition

But even more than simply building “reputation and visibility”, content marketing can generate leads and drive them through your marketing funnel until you can convert them into sales. Who doesn’t want more sales?

Here is the five step process you can use to create your own successful content marketing initiative:

1. Create Your Content Marketing Strategy

Before you type a single word you need to define who your target audience is. Without that golden nugget of information, you’ll be wasting a huge amount of time creating content that won’t help you attract potential customers. In fact, this is one of the biggest mistakes companies make in their content marketing efforts. So before you go any further ask yourself the question: who am I trying to attract and engage. Once you answer that question you’ll be able to create the type of content that will speak to your target customers.

Check out this article via Conversioner for an in-depth look at how to create a marketing persona.

2. Find Out What Your Target Audience is Searching For

Even though the primary purpose of content marketing is not SEO, is still plays a significant role on your SEO strategy. In order to attract some of the billions of daily searches to your content, you need to include the keywords that they are searching for. That’s where keyword research comes into play.

Open up the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool and type in the words that you think your potential customers are searching for. Then use those keywords in your content title and occasionally in your content. Don’t “stuff” your content with the keywords — that’ll just get you penalized. It also will be apparent to your readers that you’re just trying to game the system and they’ll leave and bounce over to your competitors.

Here’s the bottom line: if you write informative and engaging original content, you don’t have to focus specifically on keywords. That’s because you’ll already be using them naturally, and Google is smart enough to figure out what your content is about without seeing the same keywords repeated multiply times in each paragraph.

3. Create Your Content

Now that you’ve identified your audience and your keywords, it’s time to start creating your content masterpiece. If you’re a good (or competent) writer, then writing an effective page or post is the way to go. If writing isn’t your forte, you can shoot a video, record a podcast or create an infographic. Whatever works best for informing and engaging your particular target audience. Successful content marketers use a combination of many different formats to deliver their message (check out the video at the end of this post!).

4. Distribute Your Content

You’ve heard the one about the tree falling in the forest without anyone watching? Well, if you create an awesome piece of content but no one sees it — not very productive. You can organically distribute your content to your target audience directly via an email list (which you hopefully have been building) and social media. Just be sure to identify the social media platform that your target audience uses before spending time sharing. Read this post for how to do that.

Getting influencers to share your content is amazing, if you can make that happen. How to do that is a whole other topic beyond the scope of this little old post. Here’s an article to get you started on influencer marketing.

5. Don’t Forget Your Call to Action

People are finally reading your content. Now what? That’s exactly what they’re probably asking. “Now that I’ve read you’re content and like what you’ve said, what should I do about it?” Given no other options, the reader will most likely leave your site, move on with life, and probably never return. What a waste that would be.

You must provide your reader with a call to action (CTA) tell them exactly what it is you want them to do next. Ideally you’d probably want them to buy your product or contact you to set up a consultation. Most readers won’t be ready to that. They need more time to research and decide. What you want to do at this point is to get their email address so that you can remain in contact and continue to educate and engage with them until they are ready to engage in a purchase or sales conversation.

Every piece of content you create should have a call to action directing the reader to take the action you want them to take.

You usually have to offer the reader something of value in exchange for their email address. That could be a free trial, ebook, tips or whatever you feel will do the trick. Read this post for more insight into this.

Without a call to action, you’re leaving money on the table.

6. Marketing Automation in Action

Once you’ve got your readers email, you should add it to a leads list in your email marketing program. The goal now is to nurture that lead down through your funnel until he or she is ready to become a customer. This nurturing process can be automated — yes, that’s what they call marketing automation. To do this you’ll need to create a series of emails that will be automatically sent at regular intervals. Most email marketing providers make it easy for you to set up a series of automated emails.

Each of these automated emails will be more content that you need to create. You might also decide to link to other pieces of your content within the emails. You can read more about these emails in our free ebook – The Digital Marketing Blueprint.

Following these 6 steps should help you get your content marketing campaign up and running, and generated new leads. If you have any questions or need help developing your own content marketing strategy or campaign, please let us know and we’ll be glad to answer your questions and assist.

For more about our content marketing process, check out this video:

5 Ways to Reuse Your Blog Content to Get More Exposure

Creating fresh content is a vital part of any content marketing (and SEO) strategy. But that’s often easier than it sounds.

Your content is what potential customers and partners use to determine your expertise and capabilities, and whether you are someone worth contacting and potentially hiring or buying from. Therefore, your content has to be of the highest quality — your best work — 100% of the time. That requires investing a significant amount of time and effort on a regular basis. And there’s nothing scarcer or more valuable than your time.

So how can you continue to release quality content without having to spend too much of your time doing it?

Let’s say that you’ve published a kick-butt blog post on your website and shared it on social media and possibly via an email list. Depending on how much traffic your site generates, a bunch (or a ton!) of people have already read it. Now it will continue to (hopefully) drive search engine traffic and function as part of your overall content marketing strategy.

But it doesn’t have to end there.

Here are 5 ways to reuse that awesome blog post you’ve already created, to get more exposure:

1. Linkedin Pulse

Linked in allows users to publish articles on its Pulse publishing platform. And contrary to popular belief, you won’t incur a Google duplicate content penalty  for reposting your original post. What are the benefits of publishing on Linkedin?

First off, all of your connections will get a notification that you published. Some of them will “like” or share your post, which will expose it to their networks, expanding your reach.

Even better, if the Pulse editors decide to promote your article by featuring it in its respective Pulse category (like marketing and advertising) it will have the opportunity of being seen by anyone who subscribes to that category (possibly millions — definitely more than saw the original post on your website).

If these new eyeballs (outside of your network) like what you have to say they can “follow you”, which means that they too will receive a notification when you publish. Bingo, greater reach!

Linkedin also gives you analytics where you can see  the demographics of the people who viewed your post and the profiles of the people that “liked” or shared it. That’s valuable information for honing your marketing strategy and prospecting.

2. Ebooks, Reports and Whitepapers

If you’ve been blogging for a while you’ve accumulated a nice pile of content. Why not combine relevant posts and articles into an ebook, special repost or whitepaper? You can then use your new premium content as downloads on your website, in exchange for emails (of course).

3. Tweet lines

You’ve already tweeted the link to your post more times than you’d like to admit. But there are loads of well crafted phrases and sentences in your masterpiece that are tweet-worthy on their own. So tweet them, one by one. If you’re using WordPress you can download many plugins that will help you accomplish this task directly from your post. One of them is Tweet This.

4. Create Images

Take some of those “quotes” from your blog and turn them into images. You can easily do this using picmonkey or other free tools. Statistics show that images are much more likely to be shared.

5. Infographics

If the topic lends itself to it, turn the post into an infographics and share it on slideshare.


None of this means that you should stop creating new, awesome content. Keep it up! But you can also make good use of your existing content to get more exposure, and take some of the pressure to “publish or perish” off of yourself.

If you gained from this post, please share it!

Sell the Benefits, NOT the Features

I recently evaluated a website for a prospect who signed up for my 3 free tips offer, and my first suggestion was one of the most fundamental principles of sales and marketing that most companies ignore. At the top of their homepage, in a large headline font, they wrote a description of what they do.  In their case it was something like We Do Management Consulting.

Granted, it’s important to tell prospects what product or service you’re offering, but you need to do it in a way that persuades them to buy. The way to do that is to sell them the benefits that they will get from you or your product.

Let’s stay with our management consulting example. You might produce awesome spreadsheets, incredible analysis and kick-butt reports. But does your client want all that?

Companies that hire management consultants are looking for specific benefits, like increasing efficiency, decreasing waste, improving profitability and so on. They want those benefits and could really care less about the techniques you use to get them their benefits.

Web design clients don’t care about the software you use or your advanced project management tools. They want a website that is going to help them grow their business. Accounting clients don’t want to know the details. They want to pay less taxes.

You ever wonder why ads for sports cars usually include beautiful women? When a 32 yr. old man considers buying one of them, he isn’t thinking about the gas milage efficiency or time it takes to get from 0 to 50 or any of that other cool stuff. What he IS thinking about is pulling up next to a Victoria Secrets model in his brand new Corvette, top down, and saying, “Hey, want a ride”… and she does (hey, it’s his fantasy).

The benefit of the car in his mind is that it can help him attract beautiful women. As they say, “sex sells”.

People have little interest in purchasing a bed. What they want is a good night’s sleep. — source

Whatever it is you’re selling, you need to identify the benefits of your product or service and present that to your customer instead of just listing your features (as awesome as they might be).

There are countless productivity tools on the market that help you do everything, from scheduling your social media posts to getting the weather when you first wake up. The only ones that I’ll even consider paying for are those that offer me a very tangible benefit that impacts me in a meaningful way.

If you tell me you can save me a little time or make my existing tasks a bit easier, I’m probably not gonna bite no matter how cool your features are. But if you promise to save me hours of time per week or get me something that I could not otherwise find, them you’ve got my attention.

For business buyers, you’re stressing “bottom line” benefits from innovative features. If you can demonstrate that the prospect will be a hero because your CRM product will save her company $120,000 a year compared to the current choice, you’ve got an excellent shot. — Copyblogger

Features are important to support your benefit claims. Once you make your claim, you’ll most likely need to be able to explain how you’ll achieve. That’s the point where you want to highlight your features.

No Fakes

When you do offer a benefit, make sure it’s a real one.

Direct response copywriter Clayton Makepeace asserts that fake benefits will kill sales copy, so you have to be on the lookout for them in your writing. He uses this headline as an example:

“Balance Blood Sugar Levels Naturally!”

That sounds pretty beneficial, doesn’t it? In reality, there’s not a single real benefit in the headline. — Copyblogger

People don’t really care about “balancing their sugar levels”. They DO care about avoiding all the illness and hardship that results from unregulated diabetes.

Bottom Line

When you’re trying to sell something, make sure to identify and then emphasis the benefits of your product and service. Don’t just highlight the features.

Sell the Benefits, NOT the Features.

PS — If you enjoyed this post please share and/or like it!

Blogging is NOT Just About the Writing

I recently came across a question on Quora which got me thinking about what content marketing, specifically blogging, really consists of. The question was something like, “how much will it cost me to hire a writer to write a blog post for my business?”

There were a few responses with answers containing prices ranging from $20 up to the low 4 digits. In my opinion none of the answers were correct because the question was fundamentally flawed.

When you write a blog post, or hire someone to do it for you, the actually writing of the words is only part of the task. You can get someone to write words for pretty cheap, even if those words are well formed. But business blogging isn’t just about the words. It’s about fulfilling a specific strategic objective. Your blog post is the tool to achieve that objective.

Here are some of the things that need to be included in the creation of a blog post:

1. Content Marketing Strategy

Before you write a single word, you need to have a content marketing strategy and understand what role your blog post will play in it.

One of the main reasons for blogging is to display expertise and thought leadership. If that’s the case then you’ll either have to write your post on your own or provide a hired gun with a lot of information that they can integrate and mold into a well written post. In either case you’ll have to invest a decent sized chunk of time, which you need to include in your total cost of blog post. Paying someone a petty sum to write something that you’ll use to reflect your expertise is a very bad idea (don’t you think?).

You also need to make sure you understand who your target audience is and write your post in a voice that speaks to them. Depending on your audience and subject matter, this can be quite challenging and require a higher caliber of writer.

Hiring a bog writer without having your content marketing strategy (at least for that post) clearly in place is like throwing money at a problem without having a solution. You’ll have a lighter wallet but few results.

2. Call To Action

Every blog post you create should have a call to action directing the reader to take the action you want them to take. While you can always append a CTA to the end of a post, the ideal is when the entire blog post pushes the reader towards that CTA. Crafting a blog post that does that isn’t so easy. I doubt the $40 posts will make that happen.

3. SEO

Every piece of content should take SEO into account. Keyword research and usage and titles need to be included. Even if the strategic goal of the blog post isn’t about driving search engine traffic, you never know when you’ll rank at the top for long tailed keywords.

Take Away

If you’re object is to market your products or services to real life people (as opposed to appealing solely to search engine), the quality of your blog posts need to be superior. This is especially so for B2B companies. People can tell the difference between well written original expert content and the stuff banged out by amateurs writing for bus fare. When I see that type of low quality content I do 2 things: lose respect for the company posting it and bounce as fast as I can.

There’s a good reason why professional consultants and agencies charge a relatively heft sum for creating blog posts: they provide a lot more than just the writing (which hopefully is superior). They include a content marketing strategy, CTA’s, SEO and a high level of expertise.

The only way that I believe you can use lower priced blog writers is if you need a rough draft of words to work off of to save time. But you still need to do the heavy lifting of strategy, SEO, CTA’s, sharing your expertise and editing and polishing before you can share your post with the world. Or you can pay a fair price for someone else to do all of that for you.

3 HUGE Lessons I Learned From a Noah Kagan Webinar

This article was originally published as a guest post on

I recently attended a webinar given by Noah Kagan, founder of SumoMe, and I learned 3 huge lessons that I was able to implement immediately and that I felt I simply had to share so that you can benefit from them too.

First off, special thanks to Noah for offering a free webinar! Unlike most webinars that are really big sales pitches for a particular product or service, this one was about 95% useful information and 5% soft selling, primarily at the end. Sure he mentioned the sumo tools, but you can use them all for free (which I do) without ever paying for the pro versions if you don’t need the extra features. So free information + free tools = pretty darn good deal!

Getting back on topic, the webinar consisted of Noah looking at websites and giving his recommendations of what could be improved to make each more effective in communicating its message and achieving its desired objective. There were lots of good tips, but these 3 really resonated with me so much so that I’ve chosen to call them lessons instead of just tips.

Lesson 1: Clearly communicate what you do or sell above the fold.

Sounds pretty simple, and it is. Unfortunately many people don’t do it. Instead they try to be witty, mysterious, coy or just plain confusing, resulting in the visitor having no idea what they actually do and probably bouncing.

Sometimes they’ll make you scroll down the page before revealing what they do or sell. The problem with that is that it assumes that people will be interested enough to scroll. While there are different opinions as to the importance of “the fold”,  I think everyone would agree that if a visitor isn’t interested in what they initially see on their screen, they probably won’t spend more time on the site.

Here’s how I applied this lesson to our own website. The first screenshot is of our original homepage. The second one is post update.


digital marketing homepage


digital marketing homepage after

Onrush Digital is a digital marketing agency. Our core areas of expertise are content marketing, seo, social media and marketing automation (and we also build websites). So that’s pretty much what we do, and we did state that (pretty much) on the original page. But even though we list all the things we do, is that really what our target customer is looking for?

Our target persona is either a CEO/Owner or a CMO/Marketing Director of a business doing at least $1m in revenue that does not have an inhouse marketing department or staff. When that owner or CMO goes online to get marketing help, is he or she looking for content marketing or social media, or any other specific skill; or are they looking for help in getting specific results, like driving traffic, increasing their exposure and generating leads?

I think they’re looking for results. When they scroll down they’ll find out what disciplines we use to get them those results (i.e. content marketing, seo, etc.). They might not even know what exactly content marketing is. But they do know they want more exposure, more traffic and more leads. That’s what they’re buying.

On the second homepage version we give them exactly what they’re searching for in their face. Results. That should get them interested enough to watch the video and scroll down to learn more.

Lesson 2: Focus on 1 action you want your visitors to take.

If you could pick one action that you’d want your visitor to take, what would it be?

You might want them to purchase a product or give you their contact info. Or you might want them to read a blog post or watch a video. Whatever it is you choose, make it so crystal clear to your visitor that he practically is drawn to that action.

Studies have shown that if you tell someone what you’d like them to do, there’s a good chance that they’ll do it. The technical term is “call to action”, and every piece of content you create should have one. If you don’t include a CTA, you’re leaving the decision of what to do entirely to the visitor, in which case he might do something other than what you want, or nothing at all.

On the first version of our homepage (not including the top nav bar) there are a bunch of things the visitor can do: download an ebook, schedule a consultation, watch a video, click on the links (in yellow). There’s nothing wrong with the visitor taking any of those actions. But there’s also an old Talmudic saying that teaches, “if you try to grab everything you end up with nothing.” Too many choices could result in overwhelming the visitor and cause them to run. (Personally, when I’m overwhelmed with information, my brain tends to shut down.)

You need to decide what the one most important action is that you want your visitors to take. In our case we felt that while it would be great if they’d schedule their free consultations, if someone has just landed on your homepage they probably won’t be ready to meet with you just yet. They’ll need to learn more about you and what you do first.

On our revised homepage we chose to drive visitors to watch a short video that introduces them to who we are and what we do. We felt that the video would build rapport and make them feel like, “hey, we can work with these guys”. At the end of the video we included a CTA link to schedule a free consultation.

Lesson 3: Offer a personal challenge to get emails

For the majority of visitors who will NOT be ready to contact you when they first visit your website, the goal is to get their email address in order to be able to contact them or nurture them until they are ready to become a customer. The accepted way of doing that is to offer them something of value in exchange for their email address (and name). The initial offer is usually a piece of contact like a whitepaper or ebook.

The ideal offer with the highest conversion rate will be something that the recipient can implement immediately and see positive results. Noah suggested offering something that personally challenges you, which should in turn impress the heck out of the user and greatly increase the chances of conversion.

The offer that we’ve implemented (which I think was the example that Noah, although I honestly don’t remember) is that we’ll review your website and send you 3 specific tips that will improve your site and help you generate more leads. And we’ll send it to you within 24hrs.

We use the sumome list builder and scroll box (free versions) to present the offers. Here’s a screenshot of the scroll box:

lead magnet


It’s a lot more work than just creating a report or ebook, because we’ll have to look at each website and provide good tips for each one. But would you rather get 3 personalized tips or an ebook? We obviously think you’ll go for the personalized tips.

Providing personalized tips also gives us the opportunity to form a relationship with each individual visitor and potentially explore the option of working together by asking followup questions. We’ve already given you actionable advice and proven that we care about YOU. That’s a great way to start a relationship!

Why not see for yourself? Fill out one of our forms and we’ll send you your free tips within 24 hrs!

PS — Thanks again to Noah Kagan for an awesome webinar!

6 Tips to Getting Your Business Emails Opened

Email is clearly an indispensable marketing tool for getting your message in front of your intended audience. But getting your email into your target’s email box is only half the battle. The more important, and more much challenging, task is to get them to actually open and read your email.

Whether your sending cold emails to potential prospects or nurturing emails to your opt-in list, here are 6 tips to help you increase your open rate and get your emails read:

1. Mobile Ready
According to a research study by email marketing provider Constant Contact:

80% of smartphone owners say it is “extremely important” to be able to read emails on their mobile devices.

Even more importantly:

75% said they are “highly likely” to delete an email if they can’t read it on their smartphone.

Regarding age of users:

88% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 30 open email on a mobile device, and over half say their smartphone has become the primary device on which they open emails. That percentage doesn’t change much among consumers ages 30 to 39, 85 percent of whom open emails on their mobile device; with almost half (48 percent) saying it’s their primary device to do so.

The majority of consumers aged 40 and up also open emails on mobile devices, though the percentage who says their smartphone is the primary device to do so falls below 50 percent. Of those aged 40 to 49, 74 percent read emails on mobile devices, with 35 percent claiming it as their primary reading device.

This study was conducted almost 2 years ago, which probably means the percentages of mobile users has only increased since then.

The obvious takeaway from these statistics is that your emails need to be optimized for mobile.They need to be easily read on a mobile device without having to scroll. They also have to be brief and in a clear and readable font. Use at least a 14px sized font.

Most email service providers have mobile templates you can use. The easiest way to be completely sure you’re mobile ready is to send a test email and view it on your own device.

2. Use Words
Do you send out emails that consist of one large image (of your flier or offer)? Well, you should probably stop asap!

Many email clients automatically block images by default to protect users from spam. 43% of gmail users read email without turning the image on. If the viewer has their images turned off, all they’ll see is a broken image or a line of Alt text. Not very appealing. Some images also take long to download, which is a sure way to get deleted off someone’s mobile device before you have a chance to get your message across.

If you have a point to make, use words. Images are pretty, but unless your goal is to win a design contest your first and only priority should be to make sure your email is read. A few lines of text have a much better chance than a bunch of broken (or not broken) images. This goes for desktops too, but especially so for mobile devices.

3. From Whom?
Automated emails should come from a real person and not look like they’re coming from an automated system. 

According to Aaron Orendorff’s guide,

avoid at all costs from lines like,,, or, worst of all, the dreaded word “auto” in any and all forms.

Send your email from a real person and you’ll increase your chances of getting your email read.

4. Subject Line
On average you can use between 20 and 30 characters in your subject line without getting cut off. You shouldn’t have more than around 10 words in your subject line. Studies show that personal words like “you” and “I” work well, as do slang terms and colloquialisms.

If you’re writing a cold prospecting email and you are being referred, you should include the referrer’s name in the subject line, especially if it’s the recipient’s superior. Speaking of referrer’s, one of the most effective ways of reaching the right person when cold prospecting is to “reach for the stars”.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

I needed to reach the person responsible for mobile acquisitions for a public company. I used Linkedin to search for senior employees of the company and found the companies director of mergers and acquisitions. I was pretty sure that he was too senior for the task I needed, but I cold emailed him briefly explaining my inquiry and closing with a simple request: If you aren’t the right person I should be talking too, could you forward this to the right one? He responded with the email address of the director of mobile acquisitions. I then emailed him with the subject line, “via name of superior”. He opened the email immediately.

Most people, especially at a senior level, are willing to share the email address of the right person (especially if they are junior to them), even if it’s just to get you off their back. That works just fine for you.

5. Keep it brief and to the point
I could expound on this for a few pages…but that would defeat the purpose. Just keep it short and to the point. If they’re interested, they’ll ask for more. Just make sure you tell them what you’d like them to do – a call to action.

6. PS
Studies show that people tend to read the PS section of emails. It grabs the attention of the reader. So, use it to your benefit.

Bottom Line
Email can be an extremely effective marketing tool, as long as your emails are read. To increase your open rate keep them short and text based, craft personal or friendly subject lines and send them from a real person.

3 Ways Blogging Can Generate Leads for Your Company

In a recent post entitled Why the economics of blogging are diminishing on Mark Schaefer’s popular blog, author Mars Dorian explains why he feels that blogging doesn’t yield the same level of return it did in the good old days (around 5 years go!). Referring to his own blogging he says,

Back in 2009, it was a useful marketing tool to attract new clients, nowadays, it’s a personal diary to build a stronger connection with my existing follower base.

So the question is, should you be expending resources on blogging in the hope of generating leads?

As a content marketer my answer is pretty obvious: absolutely!

Here are a few reasons why B2B’s benefit from blogging:

1. SEO

Your potential customers are searching for answers to their questions relating to your product or service on Google and other search engines. If you can answer those questions you’ve got a decent shot at showing up at the top of their search results. You answer those questions in your blog posts. Sure, there are many other factors that will determine your position in those search engine results, but you’d be surprised how well an effective blog post that addresses a specific issue will rank.

For example, we wrote a blog post entitled 5 Reasons Why Men Stay Single for a dating site client’s blog. The site ( ranks only on page 3 of Google for the keywords “Jewish dating sites”, but it is first on page 1 for the long tailed keyword phrase “why do guys remain single” , and in the top 3 for related queries.

seo google

We also wrote some other posts for the site targeting long tailed dating related keywords that all rank towards the top of page 1 on Google and drive a significant amount of traffic to the site.

Effective blogging helps get you ranked by Google. That leads to click thrus and, hopefully, new leads.

2. Build Authority

Your blog is your personal platform for showing off your expertise to the world, especially to your target customers. It’s your chance to discuss specific topics and address the specific problems you know your target customers are facing. By sharing those posts you give those potential customers the opportunity to learn from you. They see that you know your stuff. They start viewing you as an expert, someone who can solve their problems. They want to do business with you.

Linkedin is the perfect platform for you to publish your blog posts. And people do read posts on Linkedin. Good posts that is. I published my first Linkedin post a little over 2 months ago. It got over 520 views and 76 likes. I’ve published 14 posts in total (not including this one) which have netted over 1000 followers and hundreds of likes. I’m NOT writing this to brag. There are Linkedin publishers with thousands and tens of thousands of followers. But from my perspective, over 1000 professionals that I don’t know found my content valuable enough to want to follow my posts and continue learning from them. I’ve already gotten a few leads from those posts, and I’m hoping to get lots more as I continue to publish.

Are your blog post going to bring in thousands of leads? Probably not. But most B2B’s who’s average client or customer is worth tens of thousands of dollars will be thrilled to convert leads in the double digits.

Think about your own business. Would you be happy with 10 new customers or clients? Then blogging can give you a pretty good shot at getting them.

3. Increase Exposure

Beyond displaying your expertise and building your authority in your field, blogging gives you the opportunity to extend your reach and increase your exposure. The guy reading your blog post might not be a customer himself, but he might run into someone who is and, guess what? If he likes what you write he’ll probably pass that along and recommend you.

At the end of his post Mars Dorian gives some great tips about how to blog which I totally agree with. I’ve added some of my own:

1. People don’t like to read super long posts, so keep them short.
I find between 500 and 750 words to be my sweet spot. It’s ok to write a longer “epic” post occasionally, but for the most part you should be able to make your point in around 500 words.

2. Focus on a single topic.
That’ll definitely keep your post from going too long. It will also give you the chance to write multiple posts instead of just one HUGE one.

3. Write in your own voice.
Make it interesting, and personal. If people just want the facts they can go to Wikipedia. And make sure that your voice is the right one for the audience your trying to reach.

The most important thing to remember is to write content that answers the questions that your target customers or clients are asking. Show them that you’ve got solutions to their problems and they’ll bring you their business.

The Biggest Content Marketing Mistake B2B Tech Companies Make

Before you write a single word of content…STOP!!

The whole idea behind content marketing is to use content as a lead generation and sales tool. And in order to market or sell, you need to know who your target customer is.

The only way your content is going to have a positive effect on your target customer is if that customer connects with it. Your content needs to speak to your target customer in a language and voice he understands and relates to.

The biggest content marketing mistake B2B companies, particularly in tech related fields, make is that they don’t identify their target customer before writing their content. They write their content in their own voice, which might or might not resonate with their target customer. For tech companies, that voice is usually technical.

Let’s use 2 fictional companies as examples (I made up the names. Sorry if I got lucky and named your company!). ProtectoNet makes network security software for corporate networks. AppBuilders is an app development company primarily targeting small businesses.

ProtectoNet’s website content and blog posts are super technical. They often contain detailed information relating to network security issues and are way too complicated for anyone who isn’t a network administrator to understand. Their average blog post is guaranteed to cure even the worst insomnia cases for non-techies who dare attempt reading it.

Is ProtectoNet’s content marketing strategy on target?

Purchasing a sophisticated tech product like network security software is usually in the domain of the network or IT manager, since they’re usually the only one’s who can understand the problem and solution. So in ProtectoNet’s case, by writing complex technical content they are addressing their target customer and speaking their language.

AppBuilder’s website content and blog posts are also primarily technical in nature. They discuss the advanced programming techniques they use. They talk about databases, operating systems, coding issues and server maintenance. Interesting and engaging stuff if you’re a programmer. But are their target customers programmers?

Think about it. What small business is going to require the services of an app development firm? The chances are that their target customer is going to be a company looking to increase business by launching a mobile app or an entrepreneur attempting to launch a new app based business. There’s a good chance that person making the purchasing decisions is a business person, not a techie.

Of course it depends on the particular business, but unless the company is a tech startup the odds are overwhelming in favor of a non-tech customer looking for a way to improve business in some form. Technically oriented content is not what’s going to attract and engage this customer. What they want to know is how AppBuilder can help them increase revenue, expand their business and save money and time in the process. They couldn’t care less about how that happens. They don’t want to hear about the tech stuff. It’s not their thing.

Instead of writing about “how to structure database tables” or “the pros and cons of PHP vs. Python”, AppBuilder should be addressing “how to cost effectively build a mobile app” or “the pros and cons of outsourcing app development”. AppBuilder’s content should be appealing to entrepreneurs and business owners, who are the ones looking for the solution they’re offering.

Creating content that addresses your target customer isn’t confined to tech companies. It applies to any company using content marketing to attract and engage potential customers. For example, accounting firms or law firms need to determine whether they should post articles related to technical issues and problems they deal with that will appeal to other accountants or lawyers, or whether they need to address business owners with content related to cutting costs, managing liability and increasing efficiency.

Before you create your content ask yourself the question: who am I trying to attract and engage. Once you answer that question you’ll be able to create the type of content that will speak to your target customers.