When I was in high school I came across this quote posted on a bulletin board. I crossed it several times a week and it stuck with me.

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without a single crack in sight.

Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that last
blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”

-Jacob Riis

Ironically, this is also the mantra for San Antonio Spurs, my favorite NBA team.

When nothing seems to help

The most important question to ask yourself when building your blog or creating a product or marketing a new service.

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There is no path that I have gone on where I have gone to far to change my direction. That is a comforting thought.”

 

-A friend shared this on Facebook the other day, and I thought it was worth repeating

Have a thoughtful weekend!

Changing paths midway in your business, career, and life

When potential readers stumble upon your blog how does it draw them in?

Do your readers fall down a rabbit hole, getting pulled into a world where they delightedly spending hours wandering through your trail of content. Or are they greeted with a cacophony of messages each seeking a different goal?

Tough question?

I am mulling over starting a separate blog, for a project I am working on. Knowing, the second time around, how much commitment, discipline and dedication it takes to support a blog, I am spending a lot more time considering what value it can bring and how to create a space that draws readers in once they stumble across my blog.

So I started by looking around at what is already out there that I like and soon enough noticed a pattern. There are 3 traits that separate the blogs that draw me in and keep me coming back, from those that don’t. Looking at what I read from day-to-day, I believe It is the same for any industry whether your focus is on a product or service, or just building your personal brand.

After reading this list, look at some of your favorite blogs and see if they predominantly have any one of these traits.

1. The Escape

Your blog cab be a destination. A place where people go for renewal, inspiration or to see things in a different light. For example this can be fashion blogs showcasing fresh outfits, beautiful homes or breathtaking adventures.

Creating an escape allows your reader to see things in green colored shades as opposed to maybe their pink or purple colored ones.

It gives them courage to try something different in their own lives. People love to escape for entertainment as well (just look at how many hours not just on blogs but browsing Pinterest; watching TV shows, or movies; or engrossed in a good story) so being funny, eloquent and having an original point of view on things can create an escape from their minds which is valuable and memorable.

The allure of the escape is often seen in highly visual blogs. When I was considering starting a style blog one of the pieces of feedback I received was sometimes the respondent didn’t even like when the blogger wrote a post, “Just show me the pictures!” My guess is because without words, readers are free to make up their own narratives on what they see, making it a more personal escape.

If you are in a field that is traditionally seen as unexciting, find ways to share stories or images centered around your topic that get you fired up, that motivate and encourage you. For business-to-business blogs this can be in the form of case studies that allow other people to see how companies in their respective industry tackle a similar problem. I use case studies because it allows story telling as well, which s essential to creating an escape.

2. Sharing knowledge

If there is a topic there is an authority figure; someone who has done the research and the work, or is up to the minute on latest information around a topic.
Attracting readers to blog

Sharing knowledge is not just for showing people how to do X, it can also be through providing resources, sharing handy lists or providing analysis. Some part of your day is spent absorbing knowledge whether its learning what is going on in your locale or industry, tackling a problem, or learning a new skill.

Your readers are looking to for guidance, and an authority in the subject to tell them what to think.

3. Offering empathy

We are wired to connect. Places that give us comfort and make us feel like we are in good company with someone who we can trust will always stand out. Successful blogs focused around creating a community are written in a way that is direct and personal. After all you can’t create a connection with your reader if you are guarded and they do not know much about you. Being open is key. Sharing and trusting your readers creates a stronger connection than any free limited time offer ever could.

Think I’m missing something? Add to this conversation by sharing your thoughts or examples of blogs you think are remarkable.

Image credit Samantha Marx

How do you sell someone a contract-until-death?*

Let me rephrase that, how do you get people interested in a product that is tough to sell quickly, needs some thought process and a lot of trust?

According to Regis Hadiaris, a “Pursuer of WOW” and Director of Internet Marketing at Quicken Loans, one way is to learn what makes them tick, and specifically what makes them click.

In his talk on the 14 secrets to improve conversion rates presented to the Social Media Breakfast Twin Ports group last Friday. Hadiaris, delved into the science of how Quicken Loans converts its thousands of daily visitors into leads, and eventually customers.

Saying that the team of marketers at @QuickenLoans likes to experiment is an understatement. (Tweet this)

Learn faster than the competition

Similar to lean start-up principles, Hadiaris believes experimenting and learning faster than your competition can help you get ahead in your niche.

Closing the feedback loop is something that proponents of lean start-up methodology, like Steve Blak and Eric Ries, often talk about as a  vital part of success for start-ups.

Bloggers should embrace a spirit of experimentation

Now Regis Hadiaris has a whole team of people he works with to churn the rates of conversions at Quicken Loans, but even a single blogger doing things on the side can learn a few conversion tactics from their techniques. I was particularly fascinated by one of the secrets that Hadiaris shared with the group that focused on the form, a tool that is essentially the gatekeeper to conversions.

Here are some tips that Hadiaris shared that I think bloggers and business can use to increase their form submission rates.

Increase form conversion on blog

  • Quicken loans submission formHeadlines grab attention, so put something more up there than “Please fill in this form”. From changing their headlines, the team at Quicken where able to close more visitors into leads.
  • Color and for that matter images matter, in running tests at Quicken Loans, they learned that their conversions changed when they changed the color of the form from tan to blue, and adding images affected their forms negatively. While this is not going to be the same for every industry it it still worth experimenting with different colors and images to see how it affects your numbers.
  • The order of the questions in a form go from general questions to very specific personal identifier type questions, this has also changed their conversions. If you have a form with several fields don’t start by asking for e-mail information right away.
  • Click-through rates increased by more than half when the team changed text in the submit button from “Get rates” to “Submit”
  • Although recently featured logos did not impact the amount of leads that submitted the form, it did affect the lead to close ratio because it made the company seem more credible.

Start testing your form fields

The main theme that was woven through the presentation was to test, test, and test again. All the concepts Hadiaris covered were learned from getting out and testing theories, seeing which ones worked, which ones did not and moving on.

If you put up a call-to-action that does not convert your visitors then you need to go back and revisit why it’s not working and try and change one thing about the item (also known as multivariate testing).

The faster you learn the sooner you can get ahead of the pack.

*The word “mortgage” is derived from a french term meaning “death pledge”, i.e. the pledge ends (dies) when either the obligation is fulfilled or the property is taken through foreclosure.

Daisy Quaker is a freelance internet marketing consultant, specializing in social media strategy, content marketing, e-mail marketing and internet marketing strategy. In her spare time she writes a personal style blog. Find her on <Twitter and Google+ and tell her what strategies work for your business.