Do you prepare your own content, write your own newsletter and manage your business Facebook page? It’s often necessary in the start-up phase when money is tight. But if you need results and can’t pay professional content writers or a content marketing agency you’ll need to know about some simple mistakes that could mean your efforts (and budget) are being wasted. Here are three mistakes we see time and time again.
Mailout headlines & sub-headings that are ‘empty’ or boring
Do you delete most of the marketing related emails or subscriptions newsletters that land in your email inbox each day? So does everyone else. When we don’t delete it’s usually because something has caught our attention and that something is usually the email title, something in the ‘in this edition’ list at the very top of the publication, or a sub-heading that sounds like something we want to know about. Most recipients won’t even read your introduction before hitting the delete button.
To give you a simple example, if you receive a property related newsletter from your local estate agents and the heading you saw first was “Property Sales” the delete button would be looking good. The heading doesn’t contain enough information about the content that follows for you to decide if you want to read on. Delete is the default option there. If it said “Property Prices Up in (your area)” or “Property Sales Booming in (your area)” the chances of you pausing for a closer look are much better.
The bottom line: make sure you give your subscribers a reason to take notice and start reading.
To learn more about writing headlines that work, visit Copyblogger. The site is an outstanding source of information about blogging. They also have some useful downloadable ebooks.
Posting on Facebook – but not doing more than that
I can’t tell you how many business Facebook pages we see that are simply a stream of posts, often about the business, with no images of interest – and with no update likes or comments at all. Sometimes these pages have just a few followers, while others have hundreds of followers but still almost no engagement with the page. Time spent maintaining these pages is likely to be wasted time. You want people to like and share your content as this tends to gradually increase the number of people who see your content and visit your page.
Facebook is a platform designed for engagement, not advertising. To get noticed at all you need to inform or entertain, and a mix of both often works very well. But there’s even more you need to do – you need to step into the Facebook community. That means:
a) Liking other pages and posts
b) Encouraging comments and responding where appropriate
c) Commenting on updates of others
d) Sharing relevant and worthwhile material
This should be done strategically, rather than randomly. If you’re a B2B for example, you want other business people to see your page and engage with you. When you like or comment on other pages, people viewing those pages can see your Facebook page name, so if that interests them they might skip over to your page for a look. Think about which pages your target audience might frequent and look to engage with those pages.
But don’t be too strategic, and above all be genuine – don’t comment repeatedly on your competitors’ pages in the hope of stealing their customers. That’s just bad manners. Which is not to say it’s always wrong to engage with competitors. We engage with a few of ours, but our services and areas of expertise aren’t an exact match – so we can share interesting content for the benefit of all our clients. And I’d venture to say that those we do engage with are likely to be confident service providers who don’t need to live in fear of someone poaching their happy customers.
Valuing the quantity of content over quality
This applies to Facebook, your blog and your newsletter mail outs. Be patient and focus on targeting the right audience with quality material. When you become obsessed with quantity, quality is likely to suffer.
Having numerous Facebook followers won’t do you much good at all if most of them aren’t interested in your updates or your business. Sending out newsletters or promotions will be futile if almost nobody opens them. And writing blog posts daily will be a huge waste of time if they’re not being read (not to mention money, if you’re paying a professional blog writing service).
There are a number of things you can do to maximise the relevance of your page fans. Rather than repeat them here, I’ll recommend that you read Lee Usher’s recent article – 5 Steps to Building a Quality Facebook Following. It’s well worth the read for anyone operating their own Facebook business page.
While regular blogging can increase the traffic to your website, it will only be of use if the visitors are relevant, and the content on your site maintains their interest. Better to write one very good post a week (or pay an article writer to do it for you), than to dash off three without giving them much thought at all.
The same applies to newsletters – one attention grabbing or highly informative newsletter a month that is opened by 30% of recipients is better than weekly mail outs that are opened by 2%. Better to spend time fine tuning the detail and headings of your newsletter to get good open and response rates.
Small business owners can be an impatient lot – we’re usually multi-tasking on a grand scale, and it’s tempting to take shortcuts. But when it comes to content and marketing, there are no shortcuts – you need to be a little patient, take the time to create content that works and ensure that you are not only reaching an audience, but reaching the right audience.