Creating content is key to online success

I’ve spent a number of years creating all different types of content for all different types of people, including a stint at BBC Radio many moons ago. As a result, content creation has come fairly naturally to me, mainly because I’ve had a lot of practice.

What I hadn’t realised until recently was that the majority of people run scared of writing, painting, videoing, speaking and blogging for many different reasons.

I’ve got nothing to say

It’s all been said before

No one will read/watch/listen to my stuff

In today’s online age, if you want to be noticed, then you’ve got no option… you have to become a content creator – you cannot get by without participating.

I had a great meeting with someone I’ve admired from afar for a while yesterday. I’ve admired Graham Jones because of the huge volume of excellent, insightful content he produces on daily basis at his Internet Psychology blog. He blogs every day and the content isn’t short either – it’s in depth and well researched and guess what, it gets him noticed… You don’t get a PageRank 6 blog for nothing. There are over 5,000 links back into his site and he earns a very nice living speaking and consulting. Much of that comes as a direct result of his online profile and because he gets noticed by producing great stuff.

What fascinated me about meeting Graham is that he is a journalist by trade and so his method of producing content is simple…

HE FOLLOWS A PROCESS.

What fascinated me even more, is that the course we’ve just released with my content partner Ed Dale teaches the exact process Graham follows. He’s a living breathing case studyof what this course is doing for people.

Creating content is a habit. It CAN be learnt – you don’t have to be a trained journalist / Hollywood producer to put out great content online. It’s something you can start doing straight away and who knows, you might find yourself getting noticed, even more.

To conclude then – you should do two things.

1) Check out Graham’s superb blog for advice and insight on all things Internet.

2) If you want to become a ‘Graham’, visit our new Creating Content Online course and watch the first module completely free… you can then grab yourself an exclusive 20% discount using the coupon code beingsmarter

How to avoid the Outlook junk filter

Part of getting noticed – the theme of this Being Smarter blog is getting emails past not only human gatekeepers, but the worst gate keeper of all in the corporate domain – the dreaded Outlook Junk filter.

To say it is an inaccurate and overzealous piece of software is an understatement. At first glance, it appears to have little consistency too – emails from the same person sometimes get through, sometimes don’t. As a receiver of plenty of emails – I will always give the junk folder a once over before SHIFT-DELETING (delete forever as opposed to deleting to the delete folder – it’s not as if you’re likely to ever need the mails in the junk folder ever again…)

Here are some rules I’ve picked up along the way to help you get round this junk filter whether you’re sending a single mail or an email marketing campaign.

A company called MAPILab reverse engineered the spam filter in Outlook 2003 and beyond and believes that its spam filter gives different weights to different emails depending on several categories. According to MAPILab, the following steps are taken by Outlook to consider whether email is junk or not:

  • message sending time check–messages sent on a Saturday or Sunday are more closely correlated with spam than messages sent on a Wednesday)
  • check of the message subject for words in uppercase–if words in uppercase make 25% or more of the total number of words, then the email is more correlated with spam
  • check of the sign number in the message subject–this test calculates the ratio of signs (symbols which are neither letters nor numbers) to the number of signs, letters, and numbers. If the ratio exceeds 8%, email is more closely correlated with spam
  • check of duplicate character number–this test counts the maximum number of duplicate characters in the message subject. In many spam messages there is a sequence of meaningless (to recipients) symbols separated by several dozens of spaces

Avoid the following in your FROM address

  • Numbers in the first 8 character of the address
  • Success
  • Sales
  • Profit
  • Hello
  • Mail
  • public in the domain
  • saavy in the domain

Avoid the following in the body or subject

  • Subject contains “advertisement”
  • Body contains “money back “
  • Body contains “cards accepted”
  • Body contains “removal instructions”
  • Body contains “extra income”
  • Subject contains “!” AND Subject contains “$”
  • Subject contains “!” AND Subject contains “free”
  • Body contains “,000” AND Body contains “!!” AND Body contains “$”
  • Body contains “Dear friend”
  • Body contains “for free?”
  • Body contains “for free!”
  • Body contains “Guarantee” AND (Body contains “satisfaction” OR Body contains “absolute”)
  • Body contains “more info ” AND Body contains “visit ” AND Body contains “$”
  • Body contains “SPECIAL PROMOTION”
  • Body contains “one-time mail”
  • Subject contains “$$”
  • Body contains “
  • Body contains “order today”
  • Body contains “order now!”
  • Body contains “money-back guarantee”
  • Body contains “100% satisfied”
  • Body contains “mlm”
  • Body contains “@mlm”
  • Body contains “///////////////”
  • Body contains “check or money order”

    Feel free to add your insights below so we can grow the list…

    How NOT to get someone to buy from you

    I’d just like to recount a telephone call I had 10 mins ago. Is this going on in your business?

    The call was to an online timber company – I’m in the market for some railway sleepers right now – I would have paid immediately.

    Ring ring… ring ring.

    THEM: Hello.

    Me: Is that timber123.com (not their real name)

    THEM: Yes.

    Me: Oh hi – I’d like to place an order for some railway sleepers – can I just have a chat about when they could be delivered please? Do I do that online after I’ve placed the order?

    THEM: Well when do you want them?

    Me: Do you deliver on Saturdays?

    THEM: No… (pause)

    Me: (cheerfully) so that’s ruled that out then. How about this Friday (3 days time)

    THEM: No – fully booked. We’ve had to put on extra lorries as it is. It will have to be the following week.

    Me: OK, well thanks anyway. Bye.

    Analysis

    1. Answer the phone with your company name please so I know it’s not a bloke in his bedroom, it’s a real company.
    2. Put delivery details on your website – the fact you do or don’t deliver on Saturdays, (or even charge extra for goodness sake – how many people need a Saturday delivery for things to do with gardens?) UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMER’S NEEDS
    3. Don’t moan about the fact you’ve had to put on extra deliveries and they’re full – business is clearly brisk which is good isn’t it?
    4. Don’t give me one word NO answers. That’s just bloody rude quite frankly.
    5. Treat me like a human being – sympathise, take a look in the diary, see what you can do, give me the next possible delivery date, tell me I can come and pick it up as you’re only local, give me options.
    6. You’ve spent £100’s / £1000’s on a website, PPC, associated SEO and attracted me as a customer. Don’t blow it on a phone call.
    7. Don’t make me blog about terrible experiences with companies getting noticed for the wrong reasons.

    How many potential customers have you lost today because of the way your staff treat people on the phone?

    Rant over.

    Case study: How to attract visitors to your site

    I love finding great examples of how companies have thought outside the box to find ways of attracting visitors, press coverage, links and oh yes – winning more business.

    The trade show marketing niche is a competitive one. We should know because we provide an innovative service to help companies with their trade show follow up and that’s how we discovered this story.

    Skyline is a trade show marketing company, established in 1980 and so could typically be put into the ‘old skool’ box – your average company, stuck in the dark ages, with a sceptical view of the internet. Not so. They have embraced the power of search and have done something anyone reading this article could and should do to generate more leads.

    They have decided to invest in a blog and when I say invest, I’m not talking financially – because it costs next to nothing to set one up… they’ve invested in time and energy. They’ve identified the sort of people they would like to attract and have provided a huge amount of free information to try to attract those visitors.

    So – let’s take a look at what they’ve done.

    1. Back in June 2009 they decided to set up a site dedicated to giving away trade show tips  at www.skylinetradeshowtips.com
    2. They have focused on their marketplace to Tweet, post stories and provide valuable insight into the world of trade show marketing
    3. They have generated a site in under a year with great Google authority (PR5), over 1300 backlinks to their site and hundreds of comments, again, creating authority
    4. They capture email addresses by giving away (seriously) valuable information in the form of 9 free white papers, whilst at the same time taking people back to their main corporate site and exposing them to their main brand
    5. They naturally position themselves as market leaders in their niche

    If you had never heard of Skyline, yet through search find an article on the Skylinetradshowtips site, what would you think? Are they generating trust by providing valuable insight to you? Are they demonstrating they know what they are talking about through action? Would you be interested in giving their email address in return for serious insight? Would you follow their Twitter stream to continue receiving advice?

    Are you more likely or less likely to call them for a quote do you think?

    When businesses quite rightly question the ROI on social media, that last question is the key one. You should always focus on that end result and if an activity is not directly linked to that end goal, don’t do it!

    So – what could you do today to attract more visitors to your site?

    Acknowledge room for improvement

    A great technique for getting your business noticed is to set yourself apart from the pack by BEING HONEST! We all write marketing blurb which stretches the truth from time to time…

    How about doing things differently, acknowledge when something isn’t quite right and tell the world about it? If you have a strong brand and a loyal set of followers, they will respect your honesty. I heard a great story about this concept yesterday from the very unique Jeffrey Hollender, founder of Seventh Generation and I’m going to tell that story another time. He took things to extremes and it paid off.

    I came across two other examples of this honesty this morning.

    1) Andy Palmer, SEO dude extraodinaire is a long time colleague of mine and has always tried to do things differently. He posted the feedback given to him by his audience at a seminar he gave yesterday. Whilst the results are good, he acknowledges room for improvement. Look – it’s the first time he’s given this seminar – so it was never going to be perfect. But, what a bold step to publish those results.

    2) Alliance software, the company behind the amazing Market Samurai tool has also been honest. We all read About Us sections on websites every day of the week. How many have you seen which write about their strengths AND weaknesses. Refreshing or what.

    How could you be more honest?

    How to set up an affiliate campaign for an 8.45 Club course

    If you’ve recently signed up as a Being Smarter affiliate and many dozens of you have, and are looking forward to earning an income from our 8.45 Club courses, I thought it was a good time to show you just how simple it is to take a banner or text link and display it on your website or blog and start earning money by targeting your niche visitors.

    We use the Post Affiliate Pro system and if you’ve never been an affiliate before, it may be a little overwhelming. I hope the video below shows you that it’s actually pretty straightforward. So sit back, make yourself a cuppa and get started. If you’ve got any questions, leave a comment below.

    Hit the full screen button for greater clarity.

    By the way, if you’re not already an affiliate and would like to become one, click here to sign up.

    Google linkbait

    With Being Smarter now having a tighter focus on how businesses and individuals get noticed, one of our ongoing themes will be around the concept of linkbait. If it’s a phrase you’ve not heard of before, then it’s worth getting your head round.

    Linkbait is a piece of content which naturally attracts visitors and backlinks to your page or site. The content may not be directly related to the end result you are looking for people to do / visit / interact with, but it will get them closer to you and guess what, gets you noticed and in their mind’s eye.

    Some examples of linkbait include:

    • Building something of huge value and giving it away
    • Providing a useful online tool
    • Writing something funny
    • Producing a video with wow factor, which goes viral

    Which brings me on to today’s idea. Clearly Google doesn’t need to use linkbait to attract visitors to its site, however what it does, as part of its raison d’etre is to produce linkbait naturally and it does it for good reason. The video below will achieve (at least) four things.

    • It shows viewers that Google people are innovative and creative and creates trust
    • The blog post to go with it demonstrates teamwork and collaboration, the bedrock of any good business
    • It shows viewers that Google is a very cool place to work and so helps from a recruitment perspective
    • To say brand awareness is high would be an understatement, however it’s yet another way to get the brand seen by visitors

    What could you do which is innovative in your business which could be turned into linkbait?