Your (Customer’s) Brain on Computers, Part 1

no matter how much we limit our own time online, the fact remains: our customers probably don’t. To put it bluntly, our biggest source of competition anymore may not be our competitors, but what’s going on in our customers’ heads! So we need to take special care to structure our messages to both capture and keep their attention despite any adverse effects their brains may be experiencing.

The internet is more than a way for customers to find you. It actually changes the structure of their brains. This series of articles reveals how – and offers tips on attracting and retaining online visitors.
photo credit: Saad Faruque via photopin cc

How much time do you spend online?

If you’re anywhere close to average, it’s somewhere  between 25 and 27 hours per week. 1

That’s right. We spend nearly a quarter of our waking hours plugged in, and that’s not including the time we spend on other electronic devices, including our cell phones and our kid’s handheld gaming devices (admit it!)

Now, hold onto your chair. When you surf the web, you’re accomplishing more than shopping for shoes or chatting up your Facebook friends. Behind the scenes, what you’re really doing is rewiring your brain.

It’s true.  And you may not want to hear what you’re doing to it – but I’m going to tell you anyway.

How the Internet affects our brains

Research on the Internet’s effect on brain activity indicates that it contributes to attention deficit, addictive behavior, scattered thinking, loss of focus, and reduced ability to read human emotions.  In some cases, the effects can be physically measured: one recent study of 18 college students found that excessive internet use actually resulted in atrophy of gray matter in the brain. 2

Clearly, this is a serious issue. Due to my occupation, I admit to spending far more than the average amount of time online, and I can personally attest to feeling some of the effects.  I am starting to take steps to limit my (and my kids’) time online, and I highly suggest that you consider doing so, too.

But no matter how much we limit our own time online, the fact remains: our customers probably don’t.  To put it bluntly, our biggest source of competition anymore may not be our competitors, but what’s going on in our customers’ heads!

So we need to take special care to structure our messages to both capture and keep their attention despite any adverse effects their brains may be experiencing.

>Read Part 2            >>Read Part 3

References:

  1. Millennials Up Their Time Online, MarketingCharts.com, Jan.21, 2013
  2. Does Life Online Give You ‘Popcorn Brain?’, CNN Health,  June 23, 2011

 

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  • Writing you a press release that gets editors and customers to sit up, take notice, and want to find out more
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Does frequent blogging make a difference?

Blogging can be one of the most effective – and cost-effective – ways to generate new leads. Small businesses that blog get an average of 126% more lead growth than non-blogging companies. But just posting an article once in a while probably won’t get you the results you need. Like everything else, applying strategic best practices is the ticket to achieving satisfactory results.

Bloggers who post more frequently reap greater benefits.

How’s your blog doing? What? Don’t have one? Or are you too busy to post?

If you are, you may be missing the boat. Blogging does make a difference. It can be one of the most effective – and cost-effective – ways to generate new leads. In fact, small businesses that blog get an average of 126% more lead growth than non-blogging companies.

However, just posting an article once in a while probably won’t get you the results you need. Like everything else, applying strategic best practices is the ticket to achieving satisfactory results.

Want more leads? Blog more often.

Blogging is a frequency – driven medium. There is a direct correlation between the number of posts per week or month, and the likelihood of gaining a customer through the blog.

One reason for this is that blogging adds pages to your site and makes it easier for Google and other search engines to find you. This helps your site rise in search engine importance, which makes it easier for your prospects to find you.

If you have good content and promote your blog articles well, you’re likely to find your efforts snowballing as people leave comments and share your content. Google loves shares and comments – they’re solid evidence that your content has relevance to real people.

Again, the more pages you have – especially if you offer solid, relevant content –  the easier it will be for your prospects to find your site.  The chart below (courtesy of Hubspot) illustrates the typical jump in monthly leads once a site exceeds 300 or so pages.

Hubspot page to traffic chart
Statistically, more pages = more leads. Blogging is a great way to rack up the pages on your site, and frequent blogging really does make a difference.

So, how often should you post to your blog?

The recommended best practice for an established blog is to post two or more times a week. For an emerging blog, daily is best (if not multiple times a day.)

Of course you will need to stay within your available budget and time frame, but I would highly recommend posting a bare minimum of once per week if you want the blog to be a significant part of your marketing plan. More is better, so if you can swing more frequent posting, do so.

Allow time to cultivate results from your blog

If your blog is new, or you are resurrecting a neglected blog, it may take few months or more before you start seeing the results you’d like. Don’t despair – just take a look at the nice J curve on the chart above to help keep spirits up during this time. Don’t forget to actively promote your blog through social media and other channels. I’ll give you some promotion hints in future posts.

If you’re not posting frequently enough simply because you’re too busy, there’s an easy fix for that – hire a blogger. (In other words, give me a call!) 😉 But if you are doing it in house for budget issues or just simply prefer to, you’ll want to do it as efficiently as possible. Stay tuned for ways to stretch your content and get more posts for less time!

 

 
photo credit: Adikos via photopin cc

Six Ways Articles Can Add Power to Your Company’s Presence

Don’t overlook the humble article as a means of generating business. When used intelligently, articles can more than pay for the time or expense of writing them. Here are a few ways they can benefit your company.

Article published online
This article, published on green business site Padosa.com, scored me a sale. Article marketing can help power your business, too.

Don’t overlook the humble article as a means of generating business. When used intelligently, articles can more than pay for the time or expense of writing them. Here are six ways they can benefit your company:

  1. Becoming an author is an excellent way to establish yourself as an expert and build credibility for your business. Articles are by far the fastest and easiest way to get published.
  2. Nothing beats free publicity. Articles are great publicity generators, especially if they get picked up by a major news source or local publication.
  3. You can use articles to promote a product, or as part of a new product launch. Why not post a copy of your published article prominently in your place of business, or use it as a trade show handout? People are more likely to read and believe articles than sales copy. Just stick to good, useful, informative content and steer clear of hype.
  4. You can often re-use an article on your blog or in your company newsletter. Be sure to mention where it was first published, or just write up a little summary and link to the original article.
  5. Use articles to gauge popular interest. When you hit upon one that generates a lot of response, leverage it into more opportunity – for instance, a speaking engagement on that topic.
  6. If you would like better search rankings and online traffic, articles can do that for you, too. Each time you publish an article online, the site it’s published on should include your bio and a link to your site. (You can often include links within the body copy, too, where appropriate.) Google likes backlinks, and rewards you with higher rankings. They also provide another way for people to find your site!

Over time, article marketing can outperform traditional advertising in terms of ROI. This is especially true when used as part of a well-thought-out inbound marketing strategy.

The big drawback to article writing? It takes time. It also takes writing skill. But don’t worry – if the thought of writing makes your skin crawl, you can still reap the benefits of article and other content marketing without spending the time and effort. Just drop me a line – I’ll be happy to help!

Green Business: Where to share your eco-educational messages

There are as many avenues to educating your customers as there are ways to market to them. And the good news is, all your education attempts add up to effective marketing, too! Here are some good places to start.

There are as many avenues to educating your customers as there are ways to market to them.  And the good news is, all your education attempts add up to effective marketing, too!  Here are some good places to start:

·        Write articles about green issues and (depending upon your target market) submit them to local, national/international or trade publications.

·        Hold workshops and invite your customers and prospects.

·        Exhibit at trade fairs and business expos – and make sure you have plenty of good information to engage people and get them thinking about you as the expert.

·        Get speaking engagements. This will educate people about sustainability as well as making them aware of your business and what you offer and building trust in you as an authority.  If your business is local, try contacting churches in your area.  A lot of them are really starting to get interested in sustainability as a spiritual act.  They are hungry to know more and will thank you for the favor of coming out to speak!  (Don’t try to do a hard sell when you’re speaking to church groups, but it’s usually fine to give them informational pieces with your logo and contact info.)  Business groups are also good ones to speak to.  Try your local Chamber of Commerce.

·        Offer information kits, free reports and case studies to your clientele.  When you give people helpful, in-depth information on topics that interest them they develop a sense of gratitude and relationship to you, and are more likely to turn to you as an authority.

·        Keep educating your existing customers. Send a newsletter or e-zine out at least quarterly; once a month is even better.  Including environmental education messaging on packaging is another great idea.  Make it fun for your customers by holding contests and other events they can participate in and invite their friends.

·        Blog regularly (once or twice a week is fine).  When you blog on a topic of interest to your social media friends, post it and tweet it out.  (But only if it truly is good information and not just a thinly disguised sales pitch.)

·        Make videos about the same topics you speak or write about.  Your videos don’t have to be high tech as long as you present good ideas.  Even on a limited budget you can buy a little flip video camera for under $50 that will do the trick.

Get in the habit of videotaping any speeches you make, or even just capturing your thoughts on camera in your office, or documenting the positive changes your company is making. Put your videos to work for you by posting them on your blog, putting them on a CD or thumb drive and giving them to prospects or customers, using them as premiums for lead generation, or distributing them to the same kinds of groups you speak to.

·        Don’t forget your website. Add articles, case studies, videos and the like as extra pages.  Doing so can help with your search engine rankings, increase the amount of time people spend on your site,  and increase the chances of people linking to your site and/or coming back for multiple visits.

The important thing to remember is that consumer education is an ongoing process.  Do it consistently, one idea at a time, and always tie your statements back to positive personal benefits.  Over time, your efforts will make a difference!