The following 10 tips are my suggestions for creating an ad agency new blog with the objective of generating inbound new business leads while simultaneously building social media capabilities and credibility:
1. I recommend that you do not incorporate your blog into your agency’s website
Online inbound lead generation is like fishing. You should fish for a particular fish (your target audience) with a particular bait (an appealing positioning that differentiates your agency from the rest) and do your fishing away from the boat (the agency’s website) so that you don’t scare away the fish.
Some additional reasons to allow you agency’s blog to reside apart from the website:
- Most agency blogs look too corporate and less personal.
- If tied into your agency’s website and branding, is constricted and has little room to breathe and grow.
- A blog can and should have a much narrower focus that speaks to a specific target audience. You can think more narrowly without the risk.
Your agency’s website is more like an online brochure, the place where capabilities, credentials and client work resides. It’s okay for your agency’s Website to show its diversity of clients but a blog has to have a specific target audience.
2. The agency’s blog should be reflective of its owners
You have to remember that social media is about people. Be the face of the agency and don’t hide behind a veil. For instance, if your agency’s Twitter account is the agency and the avatar is the agency’s logo, how does a person know who they are speaking to? It makes it awkward if you are not leading your social media with people.
Your agency needs a face and for most small to mid-sized agencies, that face needs to be the agency principal(s).
The agency’s principals are the least likely to leave the agency. If you lose a staff member who you’ve allowed to be the face of the agency through social media, you lose a lot of equity, your audience and you must start the process all over again.
3. Keep the design simple
I know an agency that took 5 months just to design their blog’s header. The more people you involve in this process the more chance you will have a bottle neck that slows down the process.
Keep the design simple and highlight the content. The content is the fuel for using social media as a lead generation program.
I would even suggest utilizing WordPress, TypePad, Blogger blog platforms to keep the process as simple as possible. My favorite is WordPress. You can create a blog in minutes rather than days, weeks or months. It will be a constantly evolving process and its important that you keep the process moving.
You have to stay razor focused delivering valuable content to your audience.
A great example is Edward Boches’s blog, creativity_unbound. Edward is the chief creative office for the Mullen agency. With an arsenal of resources available to him, he has kept his blog’s design simplistic, easy to navigate and consistently provides excellent content that has positioned him as a thought leader.
4. Make your target audience crystal clear
I write specifically to small to mid-size agency principals. She-conomy’s audience is male advertisers who should be marketing to women, Blue Collar Branding has a focus on marketers of manufacturers who want to reach blue-collar workers.
For your blog to be successful, keep you target audience in mind. Make your blog a repository of helpful resources they would consider of value. You don’t want traffic for numbers sake, you want targeted traffic.
Being focused-in on a targeted audience will enhance your blog’s SEO, also drawing targeted traffic from other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
5. Before you begin to write learn to listen
- Spend time building your online community and network. This will require a significant time investment in the beginning but once created it is much easier to maintain.
- If you want to receive learn to give. Be a help to others and they will in turn be helpful to you.
- You will have ambassadors, be kind and express your appreciation.
- Look for opportunities to engage your prospects. This is networking on steroids. Social media provides you with the capability of being in dozens of places, networking with a much greater number of people than you could ever do offline. There are no geographical limitations and you can network literally from anywhere you have internet access. But you must be a participant.
Listen to your readers. Your blog’s analytics will help you to fine tune your writing to make it more appealing. Your readers are the judge and jury of the content you post. Always look to your readers to provide you with direction for your writing, what they care about and respond to.
6. Write Concisely
People read online differently than they do print. They usually don’t read word-for-word, they tend to scan.
Nielsen Norman Group ’s research found that 79 percent of their test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.
Make your posts scannable by:
- Always lead with the conclusion. Use the inverted pyramid style of writing. The very first sentence in your post should be the “takeaway or benefits statement.” Answer the question, what will be my takeaway if I commit to read this post?
- Being brief, give your readers the Readers Digest version, the executive summary. Do the work on their behalf
- Divide up long copy into shorter paragraphs
- Use bullet points or numbered lists
- Use compelling subheads, quotations, bold, italics, etc, so readers can scan for the information they need
7. Jump start traffic to your blog to accelerate lead generation
“Build it and they will come,” is not the answer to generate traffic to your agency’s blog. You must employ proactive tactics to create awareness and interest among prospective clients. The more traffic that you can generate, from among your target audience, the more inbound new business leads that will follow.
You can create a great return on your time investment by repurposing your content. Two good ways to build initial traffic quickly is to repurpose your blog’s content through Twitter and an email newsletter.
Don’t make assume that just because you’ve written it, everyone has read it. You are better off assuming they haven’t.
My newsletter is emailed every other week to a data base of over 10,000 email addresses. The copy for the newsletter comes from my blog posts. It takes literally 10 to 15 minutes to create and send. That allows it to be maintainable even when I’m at my busiest.
A program called SocialOomph allows me to automate repurposing blog content to my Twitter accounts. I actually have a media schedule for Twitter. Another helpful program is TweetAdder, which will quickly build a targeted Twitter following.
Here are some other tips to help generate traffic to your blog:
- Publish posts frequently. I would encourage you to post at least 3 times and preferably 5 times per week.
- Write evergreen for your posts to have a long shelf life and a good return for your time investment.
- Syndicate your new posts to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
- Add your blog link to your email signature.
- Add a Share Button at the bottom of your posts to allow them to be easily promoted by others to through their personal networks.
- Provide subscription options for your blog such as through email or an RSS Feed such a Feedburner.
- Identify key words you want to dominate in Google search and consistently use them in your posts titles.
- One thing to not do that will impact traffic. Don’t sell! The moment you start to sell on your blog is when you will most likely LOSE your audience.
- Don’t forget SEO. Identify the key words you want to dominate and consistently use them in your posts titles to accelerate your rankings in search engines such as Google.
8. Fueling blog post ideas
Please remember this, your reading will fuel your writing. The key is to find the online sources that inspire great content. A huge time saver for your reading is to use an RSS Reader. My suggestion would be to sign up for Google Reader. Instead of you constantly having to search for resources, Google Reader will flow it all to you and allow you to scan and organize hundreds of sources daily with little time and effort. It is very efficient.
Because I know who my target audience is, I have identified the categories that I’m going to write to, coming up with blog posts ideas is not difficult. From my experience, the narrower your focus the easier it is to find things to write about.
9. Be focused and consistent
It is as simple as planning the work and following the plan.
- I follow a daily ritual to keep me on track and consistent. I start every day with my strategic reading. My homepage in FireFox is my Google Reader. I open it before I check email. Because if I open the first email, my day is usually done.
- I start out each day knowing who is my target audience.
- I write consistently to the stated purpose of my blog which is, “fueling ad agency new business through social media.”
- I find lots of resources that isn’t specific to my target audience but I make it irrelevant. I do the work on their behalf.
- I do my best to follow a regular posting schedule of 4 to 5 posts per week.
- I usually write 1 original blog post for every 4 to 5 resource posts which is taken from other online resources. My blog becomes a repository for everything related to agency new business.
10. To keep up you must have the right mindset
One of the main reasons agency principals haven’t been as inclined to participate in social media is that they are already over extended with little time for anything additional in their professional or personal lives.
When they make time to participate and understand social, is when they’ve finally relented, it isn’t going to go away. What will make the social media pill easier to swallow is the understanding the multiplicity of benefits it provides:
- I’ve helped to create over 60 agency blogs and have found it to be a great agency branding tool. A lot of agencies are in a perpetual state of branding their agency. A blog helps them to answer the tough questions and provides a way to be more narrowly focused without throwing the baby out with the bath water.
- A blog is worth doing if only for this one big benefit, professional enrichment. It provides a system for you to stay ahead of the learning curve in communications technologies and in front of where your clients and prospective clients. A position of leadership. Thought leadership.
- The interaction with your prospects provides you with rich, priceless info. If you really want to know what your prospective clients obstacles are and become a thought leader, then write a blog.
- The old saying is true, “you don’t know what you know until you write it down.” Writing a blog will help you become a much better communicator.
- Learn to create a strong appeal for your agency. A blog will help you to stop using agency speak and speak in a language that resonance with your target audience. It will teach you how to generate an appealing message.