A 70 Point Checklist for Jump-Starting or Tuning-Up Your Blog for New Business

creative triage community hospitals Stacy Carter

You should evaluate your agency’s blog to optimize its potential as a tool for lead generation, referrals and networking.

There is a dramatic paradigm shift for acquiring new business opportunities for small to midsize ad agencies. Agencies need to rethink their approach to new business and intensify their focus for creating magnetic content that will attract prospective clients, rather than relying primarily on the interruption model of cold calls and unsolicited direct mail, which consumers are responding to less and less.

Creating new business opportunities through social media is growing. In a recent Ad Agency New Business Survey that I conducted, 64% of the 430 responding ad agencies said they now have a blog. Unfortunately, a number of these blogs are not optimized for new business.

I’ve compiled the following 70 point check-list to help “jump-start” or “tune-up”agency blogs for new business:

  1. Identify your audience. This will help to make your writing easier and more focused.
  2. State the purpose of  your blog. Create a descriptor statement in the blog’s Header. A one sentence summation of the purpose for your blog. Expand upon the descriptor statement in a “Welcome” section in your blog’s sidebar.
  3. Make sure that your blog’s benefit to your visitors is crystal clear.
  4. Reading fuels your writing. You need a good strategic reading program with a clear focus that is centered upon your audience’s interest and needs.
  5. Have calls-to-action that are clear. What do you want your audience to do? They can subscribe to your newsletter, inquire about your services, download a white-paper or eBook, email you their questions, etc.
  6. Create each post title with the keywords you want to dominate through search (i.e. “ad agency new business”). It is also helpful to flag a targeted audience through Twitter and let them know the content is specific to their needs.
  7. The first sentence of your post should be the “takeaway or benefit statement”. Just simply answer the question, what will be my takeaway or benefit if I commit to read this post?  Lead with the conclusion.
  8. Have a distinct point-of-differentiation.
  9. Remember that online readers prefer writing that is concise, easy to scan, and objective (rather than promotional) in style.
  10. Focus on providing quality information over the quantity of posts being generated.
  11. Build relationships with your readers by integrating your blog with Facebook, Google +, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  12. Your blog should become a repository of valued information for your audience. This means that it’s not all original content. I recommend writing 1 original post for every 4 or 5 resource posts.
  13. Use bulleted or numbered lists often. Readers love them.
  14. Highlighted keywords (hypertext links serve as one form of highlighting; typeface variations and color are others).
  15. Publish on a regular schedule. Be consistent in delivering at least 3 to 5 posts per week. This will keep your readers coming back for more. Also, frequently updated content makes search engines happy.
  16. Build credibility and authority for your niche.
  17. Highlight your successes through a featured page such as Press, Awards or your Profile page.
  18. Write headlines that are benefit driven.
  19. Evaluate and improve your writing so that it stands out among the crowd.
  20. Make your posts easy to find and your blog simple to navigate.
  21. Highlight popular posts.
  22. Provide links to additional resources. I almost always provide “Additional articles that may be of interest” at the end of most of my post, linking to similar content from my blog and other sources. It also will keep your visitors on your site longer and improve their experience.
  23. Half the word count (or less) than conventional writing. Usually 350 to 450 words.
  24. Demonstrate how you stand out in your niche. Provide testimonials, comments, featured articles, endorsements, and statistics—in text, audio, and video format through additional linked blog pages or specialty pages.
  25. Provide one call-to-action with clear instructions above the fold.
  26. Avoid jargon and agency speak.
  27. Provide headlines and sub headlines that make it easy for readers to skim your piece before reading the entire article.
  28. Don’t use white writing on black or colored background that makes it hard for people to read.
  29. Create or choose a blog layout that isn’t cluttered or confusing.
  30. Provide captions (where appropriate) on photos that are keyword rich and benefit-driven.
  31. Don’t use too many fonts, colors, and sizes.
  32. Check to see that  your blog is quick to load.
  33. Have a clean, simple, banner at the top of your blog that creates the right feeling on your site. A personal rather than corporate feel.
  34. Break-up long text with sub-headings, bullet points, italics, indention, photos and graphics.
  35. Your opt-in should be above the fold.
  36. Provide an incentive for visitors to give you their name and email.
  37. Only ask for opt-in information that you intend to utilize.
  38. Don’t adhere to the belief that if you “build it and they will come”.
  39. Test, monitor and fine tune your blog regularly.
  40. Use offline-to-online marketing to further promote your blog.
  41. Collect blog stats on results weekly, or per campaign.
  42. In the early phase of promoting your blog, consider paid traffic, Facebook PPC and banner ads.
  43. Build or buy email lists as you build your opt-in list for your niche. A good resource would be The List out of Atlanta, GA.
  44. Write guest articles for other blogs in your niche and even other niches.
  45. Submit your blog post to online directories.
  46. Facilitate referral opportunities through your blog.
  47. Interact regularly through social media—Facebook, Google +, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  48. Run competitions. I’ve generated a lot of traffic to my blog through an “Agency Blog of the Month” contest that culminated into an “Agency Blog of the Year”.
  49. Conduct online surveys and polls through your blog at least quarterly and share results in a post article, PRWeb or PR Newswire.
  50. Create partnering and promotional opportunities with online thought leaders in your niche.
  51. Find ways, through your blog, to help your readers engage with one another.
  52. Write with an “evergreen” style that allows your blog posts to have a long shelf-life and provide a greater return on your time investment.
  53. Write for fast comprehension.
  54. Be sure to include a photo or graphic for each post to add some additional flavor. Use only images that you have rights to or  Creative Commons-licensed content that you can find through photo sharing service such as Flicker.com.
  55. Repurpose content. Someone that finds one of your blog post through search might click-through to another post because you have repurposed it through an email newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google +.
  56. Carefully think through your blog’s heading. A “heading” is a stand-alone phrase that describes your blogs content that appear below it. I usually advise clients to create a blog descriptor statement for the header that lets a reader and search engines know the purpose and intent of the content such as “Fueling Ad Agency New Business Through Social Media.”
  57. Write consistently: This is important to creating regular readership. Write at least 3 to 5 posts per week.
  58. Make sure that your blog’s content stays focused and relevant to your target audience. Especially when developing curated content.  Curation is essentially the organizing and sharing (some might even say “repackaging”) of content in ways that are meaningful to a specific target audience. There is a lot of great information you can glean from online that is not related to your readership, but you can easily make them relevant.
  59. Be sure you own your domain name. A person that still has “wordpress or blogspot” in their domain won’t be able to change blogging platforms without losing traffic. This is a huge mistake.
  60. Be sure your site is indexed with Google. If your pages are not indexed, then Google is not crawling them.
  61. Build quality inbound links.There are many online business directories where you can just submit your URL, agency’s name and a description of your services.
  62. Make sure your content can be easily shared on Facebook, Twitter, Linked, as well as social bookmarking sites such as Digg, dell.icio.us and StumbleUpon with Share buttons.
  63. Jump-start traffic by repurposing your blog’s content through an email newsletter that is sent every-other-week. Don’t assume that because you’ve written a post, everyone has read it. You should always assume just the opposite.
  64. Build a sizable Twitter following that is targeted using TweetAdder and repurpose your blog content to your Twitter account using a program such as Social Oomph. Twitter can become your blog’s number one tool for generating targeted traffic.
  65. Invite others to guest post for your blog but be selective.
  66. Be proactive in facilitating speaking opportunities by creating a “Speakers Page” for your blog, list the topics and titles that you can speak to.
  67. Place your RSS Subscription Feed button above the fold, near the top of you blog’s homepage.
  68. Also place a subscription for your email newsletter within your blog’s sidebar to create Opt-Ins from site visitors.
  69. Review your blog site’s analytics daily to see what posts are generating the most traffic, what search terms are being used, where traffic is coming from, who is linking to you, links readers clicked on, page views, etc.
  70. Create a first-step call-to-action for your readers to know how to initially engage with your services. This could be a market or brand audit, or a workshop. Whatever it is, make it something simple and of good value . Price it low so that it doesn’t require a lot of time to consider. It will at least pay for your time in front of a prospect and lead to more new business opportunities.  A call-to-action will also help separate your qualified prospects from those that just want to pick your brain for free.

Some additional agency blogging resources:

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

Comments

  1. Don Beehler says:

    This is an excellent list, and I will keep these helpful suggestions in mind when I write my next blog post later today. Thanks for taking time to put this checklist together, Michael.

  2. Glad you found it helpful Don. I’ll give you a call after I’m back from Albuquerque.

  3. Blog for any website or company become a essential place as blog is the primary need for any social media activity. You blog posting have good and informative tips to enhance the blog and customize the blog to business need. cheers… Before buying any anything people do research on social media… Blog is very much needed for putting good reviews…

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