How to Write Emotional Headlines Readers Will Love

Your new blog article may be a masterpiece, but without a good headline, your post is basically dead in the water. There is a lot of competition for your reader’s attention – so you need to grab readers and compel them to click. For copywriters and marketers, that makes writing great headlines a must-have skill.

Luckily, there are some proven formulas for hooking your readers and getting them excited about your content. In this post I’m going to teach you how to write a powerful headline that your readers will love (and click).

Here’s What Makes a Great Headline

Your blog article title or headline is just one ingredient of a great piece of content – but it’s a pretty important one, as it’s the first thing your readers see.

There have been all kinds of studies done on the ideal length of a headline, words most likely to be clicked, words least likely to be clicked, and even capitalization styles. While these structural guidelines are important, capturing the “so-what” in your headline is critical.

A great article headline:

  • Appeals to a specific target persona
  • Demonstrates value – what’s in it for the reader?
  • Is emotional – headlines with positive sentiment perform best
  • Sparks curiosity in the reader – also known as the “curiosity gap”

A number of copywriters also rely on the “four U’s” as rules of thumb for writing great blog and article headlines.

Your headline should be:

  • Unique
  • Useful
  • Urgent
  • Ultra-specific

Did you know that headlines with numbers perform extremely well?

Numbers are scannable, specific, and offer a preview of what’s to come. Headlines like 7 Ways to Groom Your Dog are some of the most-clicked titles on the web.

One more thing – never, ever be click-baity. Don’t promise something your content doesn’t deliver. It’s frowned upon and no one likes to feel duped.

2 Free Tools for Writing Great Headlines

When writing, spend some time with your headline. Rewrite it. Tweak it. Change one word and then maybe change it back. Spend a lot more time than you think you should on writing the best freaking headline you can write.

There are some tools to help you test and make improvements. But the final decision is yours.

CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer

CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer is one tool I swear by for testing out different blog post headlines. Paste your headline in the box and you’ll get an instant score, plus a quick assessment of what’s working and what’s not.

Use the suggestions provided to test and retest your headline until you’ve got a score of at least 70 or above.  If your score is above 70, you’ll see a green circle. For lower scores, the circle is yellow or red.

The tool breaks your headline down into types of words contained in your headline:

  • Common
  • Uncommon
  • Emotional
  • Power words

Shoot for a high ratio of emotional and power words to improve your headline.

Results also evaluate the headline’s:

  • Number of characters
  • Number of words
  • Headline type – list, how to, generic
  • Sentiment

Let’s look at the title for the post you’re reading right now.  While testing out headlines, my score jumped 4 points simply by adding the word “powerful”.

Headline Analyzer tells you when your headline is “too wordy”.  According to this tool, headlines between 6 – 8 words get the most clicks.

This headline was a bit too long.

You can also optimize for characters used:

headline analyzer tool for writing great blog headlines

I like to use this tool and then compare against a second free tool.

Writing an email campaign instead of a blog? Check out this email subject line tester. 

Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer

Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer is not the prettiest. But what it lacks in style it makes up for in insight.

You’ll receive an Emotional Marketing Value  (EMV) score in terms of a percentage, and a breakdown of which types of emotions your headline sparks within your customer.

Here are AMA’s results for one of my headlines:

AMA emotional marketing value score how to write great headlines

Like with the other tool, you can test and test again with different variations. If you’re trying to target a specific phrase, I recommend trying to use the keyword phrase in the title.

Whether you’re a freelancer, SMB, marketing agency, or in-house marketer, content marketing can seem overwhelming or even mysterious at times. But know that you have access to expert support, plus a wealth of knowledge & tools out there. I promise – you’ve got this.

If you have any more questions about writing headlines or content strategy in general, let me know in the comments below, or message me here. And when in doubt, always bring it back to the basics – your customer and your why.

tips for better website and content marketing

8 Things That Will Instantly Make Your Website Better

In today’s marketing world, your website is the North Star of your marketing strategy. All other efforts should orbit around and lead people back to your site.

When someone does land on your company’s website, you have about 5 seconds to capture their attention. In this time, you need to clearly communicate what you do, why you do it, and for who. The best websites are well rounded – visually beautiful, easy to use and with a clear, compelling message.

Essential Website Design Tips for 2019 and Beyond

If your site isn’t there yet, don’t worry!  These tips will help you optimize your website content and design for user experience, SEO, driving traffic to your site, and more…

tips for better website and content marketing
Make your website do more for your business.

Mobile Responsive Design

You probably already know that optimizing for mobile is extremely important. You might even be reading this on a mobile device?

At least 80% of internet users own a smartphone, and users spend an average of 69% of their media time on mobile devices. No joke! Google has even started penalizing sites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices. So, the need for responsive design is more critical than ever.

Together with web development partners at Carolina SEO Consultants, I help companies create mobile responsive sites that look great and communicate value.

Focus on Benefits, Not Features

Have you ever heard the saying “Features tell, benefits sell”? It’s true!

While customers might use features to compare two similar products, what they really care about is how your product (or service) makes their life easier.

Your website copy should focus on what problems you solve for your customers, what tasks you help them accomplish, and how they will feel after using your product or service.

Customers care less about “Advanced safety restraint systems” and more about “Keeping your family safe”. They care less about a “Dual-core 1.4 GHz ARM v8 Typhoon processor” and more about “Surfing the web, faster”!

Learn how I use the Hero’s Journey and StoryBrand frameworks to tell a story of success on your website – a customer-center that focuses on the positive results of your product or service.

Speak Directly to your Audience

You probably know all about creating detailed customer personas. You’ve spent a lot of time nailing down exactly who your target customer is. You know their age, gender, geographic location, income, interests, where they hang out online – all of it. Now that you’ve figured that out, you can speak directly to your target audience.

Replace “we” and “our” with “you” and “your”.

Instead of “Our clients see great results” try “You’ll love the results!

By using second person, or “you”, you’re speaking to the customer one-on-one and allowing them to see themselves at the center of your success story. At the end of the day, customers care less about how great your brand is, and more about what’s in it for them.

Another thing – leave the industry jargon out. They don’t get it and they don’t care. (Remember that thing about benefits, not features?)

Reduce Loading Time

Slow page loading drives users nuts. It may even cause them to jump ship. reports that just 5 seconds of page load time can cause more than 20% of users to bounce. Whoa. The good news is, having faster pages can increase your website’s conversions by as much as 16.5%.

So how do you achieve a faster site? Google’s free PageSpeed tools will analyze your site, give it a score, and then offer suggestions for improving your load time on both mobile and desktop.

One quick fix is to compress all images using a tool like before uploading them to your site. You can also set all external links to open in new browser windows or tabs. And if you’re redoing your site completely, a good web development team will make site speed a top priority.

Create Clear Calls to Action

Sign up now. Get started. Let’s chat. Calls to action like this are a critical part of driving and measuring conversions online. We’re so used to seeing call-to-action buttons, we many not even think about it. But make no mistake, they are super important!

There’s no point in capturing your audience’s attention, getting them all excited about your product, or building trust if they’re not sure what to do next. Make it easy for them to call you, schedule an appointment, or BUY your product.

Calls to actions should contain simple action phrases, and they need to stand out from the rest of the design. If your call to action is “Contact us” or “Get in Touch” it’s best to embed a contact form directly on the page, rather than forcing the user to open an email program in order to send you a message.

Include Social Proof

More and more business takes place directly on the web, without ever meeting your customer face-to-face. But that doesn’t mean people don’t need to vet you or build trust in your brand.

Social proof shows off the great things others have said about you before they book a call, sign up for your email list or click the ‘Buy Now’ button. Social proof in the form of testimonials, client or partner logos, case studies, and more work to reassure potential customers that you actually do what you say you do.

Some experts suggest sprinkling testimonials throughout your site rather than assigning them a specific location. You can add them to the bottom of the home page in a carousel feature, tuck them in around product pages, or put them on your Team page (you do have a Team page, don’t you?). People may not have time to click on a testimonials page, but they will notice testimonials as they cruise through your site.

Blog Consistently

If you want to develop a strong online presence, you need more than just a cool website – you need a website that can be found. Blogs are one of the top ways that new users find their way to a website, if they include the type of content that your potential customers might be searching for.

SEO keyword research can help you figure out what keyword phrases to focus on, and a site like Answer the Public is great for coming up with topics of interest. I’m a big fan of blogs not only for their SEO potential, but their ability to “connect us with our tribe” (thanks Jeff Bullas) and build a loyal following.

Regarding blogs, HubSpot says:

Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5 times more leads than companies that published zero to four monthly posts.


Content marketing gets 3X more leads than paid search advertising.

How often are you currently publishing to your company blog? – This grumpy old man will help you come up with great topics for your blog.

Make it Easy to Read

Keep readers on your site and engaged with beautiful design – remember that 5 second rule? Along with your clear, compelling message, your site should be easy on the eyes.

Make sure your site is easy to read by including plenty of white space. Whatever you do, avoid huge blocks of text. Long, unbroken chunks of text make people glaze over and zone out faster than you can say “website bounce rate”.

Break your text up with strong headlines and sub-headers. Sub-headers (known in webspeak as “H2s”) are important tools for SEO. They also make your site easy to read or skim and find information quickly. Headlines grab the reader’s attention and tell readers – “Hey! This is important!

Other tools for great web writing and design include:

  • Bullets and numbered lists
  • Short sentences
  • Short paragraphs
  • Color and text variation for keywords, headlines and buttons

If you’re ready to improve your website’s design, readability and sales driving power (or if you still have questions), I’d love to chat!

hero's journey content marketing brand story

How to Improve Your Content Marketing with the Hero’s Journey

You’ve probably heard it before – good marketing is about storytelling. A good story sells products. Your brand needs a story.

“Storytelling” is the content marketing buzzword of the past few years. It’s everywhere from conferences to courses to books – to the point where some marketers are over. it. Over it!

But there’s a reason the trend has resurfaced and will continue to again and again.

It’s simple – ready?


Introducing the Hero’s Journey

…and every good story follows a trusted formula. Sorry to take the mystery out of it, but there you have it.

Bestsellers and blockbusters use proven storytelling patterns to pull at your heartstrings, get your blood pumping, and make you care whether the protagonist wins the game or falls on their face.

The Hero’s Journey is a classic formula. The concept is not new (nor is it the only framework out there – more on that in a minute).

This archetypal story pattern is credited to mythologist Joseph Campbell, as described in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. It was later refined by Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey. In his book, Campbell waxes philosophical about how humans around the world tell versions of the same story, over and over.

Side note: It seems crazy to me that such a broad-sweeping observation can be credited to one person, especially in a world with such long oral traditions – but ok!

A Content Marketing Success Story

I create a lot of websites and write brand copy for clients using this framework. A lot of the biggest and most popular brands also use the Hero’s Journey formula to connect with customers.

We use it because it works.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

Let’s talk about shoes for a second.

Nike’s Just Do It. Campaign is a stripped-down version of the Hero’s Journey. It’s what made Just Do It. so infectious (and so profitable). Whoever the ad agency was that came up with this – big high fives all around.

Why does it work? The campaign paints you as the hero.

Just Do It. says that regardless of occupation, age, or gender you can do anything you put your mind to. YOU can do it. The product is just there to help you along your journey to achieving your goals, whatever they happen to be.

just do it storytelling content marketing

A Modern Day Hero’s Journey: StoryBrand

More recently, you may have heard or seen a new version of the Hero’s Journey, re-branded for a modern audience and a new generation of marketers.

Author, speaker and business owner Donald Miller has essentially repackaged the Hero’s Journey, giving it a catchy new name fit for our times – StoryBrand. Or, even more concise and textspeak-friendly, SB7.

While a lot of what Miller says has been said before, he drives the key point home –


With the SB7 framework, Miller focuses specifically on applying the formula to marketing and brand storytelling, as opposed to using it for books and movies. He breaks the formula down into seven neat and easy buckets, making it really easy to execute.

As I said, StoryBrand and the Hero’s Journey are not new, nor do they stand alone.

Plenty of others have stood the test of time. Dale Carnegie is famous for his “Magic Formula”. Problem-Agitate-Solve is a popular strategy for sales copy. And as a former improv comedy geek, one of my personal favorites is the Story Spine.

Developed by professional playwright and improviser Kenn Adams, the Story Spine has since been nicknamed the Pixar Formula. The movie makers have used this format to make billions of dollars and win several awards.

I told you – everyone loves a good story!

The Proven Storytelling Formula

Hero’s Journey, StoryBrand, SB7, call it what you will – following along as a character struggles to be victorious (or fail) is engaging. It draws you in.


Because we’ve all been there. We can relate.

This format is tried and true, from King Arthur to Star Wars to presidential campaigns.

Here’s how it works:

Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey template contained 17 steps. Donald Miller’s has 7. Another point for StoryBrand.

7 steps to a great marketing story:

7 steps to a great brand story
Image courtesy of
  • Character
  • Has a Problem
  • Meets a Guide
  • Who Has a Plan
  • Calls the Hero to Action
  • Which Results In
  • Success


  • Failure

Voila! P.S. I hope I haven’t ruined all your favorite movies and books!

Using the Hero’s Journey in Your Content Marketing

At some point, brand marketers must have looked at the box office figures and decided it was time to get in on the action.

And lo and behold, storytelling is the biggest wave in content marketing today. There are entire workshops, books, websites, and coaching programs built around teaching the art of the story.

So how can you use storytelling for awesome and effective content marketing?

If we can go back to Nike for a minute – the key to using the hero’s journey in marketing is this: the customer is the hero – not your brand.


In the classic hero’s journey, the main character (the hero) has a problem which he or she (hopefully) solves.

It’s easy to think your brand should be the main character, aka the hero. But I have news for you – Customers don’t care about your story. They care about their own. (kind of like Donald Miller says in his SB7 pitch).

By positioning yourself as the guide or mentor, you can highlight the benefits, not features, of your product. You can focus on outcomes, aka success for the hero, aka your customer.

Why It Works

“92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story” 

Seems simple right? It is. And that’s exactly why it works.

Brand storytelling works because stories tap into our emotions. When done right, they make us forget, if even for a moment, that we’re being sold to.

Stories are emotional, and as you probably know, emotions sell (using emotions to sell is a whole ‘nother blog post).

Besides, people are extremely savvy these days and making your brand the hero comes off as icky and stilted.

If you’re ready to tap into the emotional connections created through storytelling and drive your customers to buy, I can help.

I will use the proven Hero’s Journey/StoryBrand formula (or another proven style) to engage your target audience, position you as an expert guide, and get people to click the best of all buttons – the BUY button.

If you want to learn more, shoot me a message! I love to talk shop.

Writing for the American Dream – Real Estate Copywriting

Though I work with all kinds of small-to-medium businesses in industries as diverse as dentistry, finance, tech, music, events and more, lately I’ve found myself doing a LOT of real estate writing.

Writing for the real estate industry is exciting, not only because there are so many different niches and sectors, but also because the field is central to American communities, families, and economic development.

For so many, home ownership is a pivotal step on the road to the American Dream. So I can feel good about my part in educating homebuyers, tenants, real estate professionals and builders.

Real Estate Writing – What I’ve Been Up To

As a real estate content writer, I have experience in both commercial real estate and residential real estate (B2B and B2C).  I’ve worked with businesses from all areas of the field including homebuilders, commercial real estate firms, home lenders, housing counselors and even a real estate school!

Real estate is a fun industry to write for because there is just so. much. going. on.

Here’s a brief summary of what I’ve been up to on the content creation front:

Press Releases 

Creating buzz for a fast growing commercial real estate and property management firm in South Jersey.  Weekly press releases aim to establish the firm’s strong presence as a leader in the region. I think it’s working, because the founder was recently recognized by South Jersey Biz magazine as one of the area’s top entrepreneurs. 

Website Redesign and Blogging

I recently worked with an Austin commercial real estate firm to help redesign their website. We brought this site up to date by adding a property search feature, online contact form, and more dynamic look and feel.

We also set up a blog so that the company can share insights, money-saving tips, and information that will help tenants and landlords get better results from their real estate deals. Not to mention, it’s great for visibility and SEO.

Online Articles (and more Blogging)

On the residential side, I’ve been tapping into my inner designer through home décor tips and inspiration, as well as covering interior design trends for a brand new site (luanching soon!) I’ve also written articles with useful information on preparing to buy a house and more.

Establishing Best Practices

I do ghost-writing too! From the perspective of real estate professionals, I recently created a series of 10 thought pieces that help establish best practices and build knowledge for those in the field.

Articles targeted to new real estate agents, established brokers, and agent teams covered how to grow and manage real estate teams, hiring for teams, how to prep for an open house, how to build a real estate “farm”, working with HOAs, marketing tips, and more.

Real Estate Content Writing Services

  • Real Estate industry research
  • Press releases
  • Blogs
  • Media kits
  • Brochures
  • Presentations
  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Online articles

Related Services & Specialties

  • Website development or redesign
  • Editorial and content calendar (topic development)
  • Content management and web publishing
  • Content distribution – sharing on social media, LinkedIn, email, to contact lists, etc.
  • Sourcing royalty-free images for blogs
  • Digital presence consulting

Not sure why content marketing is important to your business? Check this out…

To request samples or a consultation, contact me here:


Why Your Brand Needs a Story

No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story. — Gary Vaynerchuk

A major aspect of growing any business is developing a great brand. And the number one way to build a great brand is with great content.

Top brands use content to tell an evolving story, while sprinkling in their knowledge and expertise in the field, product benefits, or how their service will make your life easier. In other words, the story comes first. What you’re selling comes second.

The story comes first. What you’re selling comes second.

By consistently and continuously telling your unique story, you will separate yourself from the competition, which means you can charge more than your competitors.

With so much competition in the marketplace today, it’s easy to become just another [insert product or service here]. Becoming “just another” is the fast track to becoming a commodity in the minds of your customer — a commodity is something that is easy to come by and thus, doesn’t have a lot of value (like water, bubblegum and plastic bags.)

Use Content to Tell your Brand’s Story

To make your story interesting, you should focus not just on what you do – but WHY you do what you do. In other words, what is the passion and mission behind your brand, and even more importantly to the customer – how do you help them?

Most people are looking for products or services that make their lives easier, save them time, or create a positive emotion (such as in the case of luxury brands, hotel rooms, and travel experiences).

By showing the customer exactly how you make their lives easier, save them time, or make them happy – through content such as blog posts, graphics, email newsletters, videos, photos, and the pages on your website – you’ll create value in your ideal customer’s eyes and will remain at top-of-mind until they are ready, willing and able to buy your product or use your service.

Tell Your Brand’s Macro and Micro Stories

Within a strong business brand, there are two types of stories: (1) the macro story, and (2) micro-stories.

A macro story is the overarching narrative you want to communicate to your ideal clients.

The key to developing a meaningful and memorable macro story is putting the WHY of your services front and center, followed by the HOW and perhaps the WHAT. It’s easy for business owners to focus on the WHAT – when in fact this is the least important part of your story.

Within your macro story, there are many micro stories — more specific topics that flesh out your macro story and personalize your brand.

Here are some examples of great brand stories (in my own words):


Macro story: We help people get out and enjoy the outdoors.

Micro stories: We sell gear that is designed for trails, slopes, and waterways and our products are fitted with efficient, lightweight and innovative features. We also support conservation efforts nationwide and send volunteer missions to help clean up and rebuild local habitats.

Whole Foods

Macro story: We are America’s healthiest grocery store.

Micro stories: We maintain the strictest quality standards in the industry by selling only foods that are free from additives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats. We support sustainable agriculture and we also make eating healthy fun through recipes and meal ideas.

Notice that in both cases, the product is not mentioned at all in the macro story.

If you’re an auto repair shop, your macro story might be that you help drivers get back on the road quickly and safely. But your micro story (or stories) are the details of how you do it – what processes you use, what kind of specialized expertise you offer, or what benefits and guarantees you provide to the customer that differentiate you from the competition.

You may have noticed, there’s a psychological effect at play here: The more people know about your professional and personal story, the deeper they’ll connect with you, and the more they’ll trust you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – sales is all about relationship-building and trust.

The more people trust you, the more they’ll be willing to hire you at the price you want to charge, since it’s human psychology to:

  1. Want to work with people we trust, and
  2. Spend more money on people we trust

Are you telling your brand’s unique story?  Let me help you find your WHY.

Why You Need to Hire a Content Writer

As a business owner, you’re looking for ways to improve visibility and remain at top-of-mind with your customers.

If you’ve heard that a blog or other content marketing can draw traffic to your website, you heard right! But that’s not the only reason blogging is awesome for your business.

Content marketing in the form of a blog builds trust with your customers, educates them, and gives the SEO bots fresh new content to index (and they LOVE fresh new content). It also humanizes your brand and catches readers who are in the research phase – aka lead generation.

If your website’s blog has been sitting there for weeks without an update, it’s time to consider content writing services. If your business doesn’t have a blog at all, it’s DEFINITELY time to hire a writer.

You Know You Need to Write Web Content … But You Don’t Have Time

You probably have a content piece that you started writing a few months ago and then never finished. Or maybe you have an idea that’s been swirling around in your head, but you haven’t had the time to sit down and write it.

If you know you need to create meaningful content for your site’s blog, but you just don’t have the time, then it’s time to consider hiring a content writer.

A skilled content writer can save you boatloads of time, and time is money. A good content writer will stick to deadlines and keep your editorial calendar on track. After all, we don’t get paid unless the work is done.

You Don’t Know What to Write About

Some business owners have plenty of ideas and no time. Others have no time, and no ideas. If you know you need to write web articles to draw traffic to your site but don’t know what to write about, you need an experienced blogger.

As a web copywriter with over 10 years of experience and hundreds of blog articles under my belt, I can help you identify the topics that your ideal client is searching for. I can also take your ideas, even if it’s just a few bullet points, and whip it into a sparkly new lead gen tool in the form of a blog, email, website page, lead magnet, or all of the above.

Tell a Compelling Brand Story

A good copywriter does more than just fill pages on your website. The right content writer can fine-tune your message and create a clear mission across your social media, website, emails and ads.

Your brand story is perhaps the most important piece of your marketing strategy. Even more important than WHAT you do is WHY and HOW you do it. The why and how are what makes up your brand story, and your brand story is what makes your ideal customer trust you, like you, and ultimately buy from you.

As a copywriter and digital media specialist, I’ll help you figure out what your brand’s own story is, and then help you scream it from the mountaintops!

Get a Fresh Perspective

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a business’ blog or website and thought to myself “What the heck are they talking about”? Especially in industries like real estate, finance and tech, it’s easy to fall back on industry jargon.

I get it – when you work in your business everyday, you’re so in tune with the topic that what you write seems to make perfect sense. But it may not make sense to your customer.

Good marketing content is easy for the everyday reader to understand. A content writer can spot industry jargon, or “cop speak” from a mile away and brings a fresh perspective that you often need.

My specialty happens to be turning complex subjects into plain English. I can help you create clear, concise content that people actually want to read.

Copywriters Write Content that Converts

As a business owner, you know what your customer wants, their pain points, and what sets you apart from your competitors. But you probably don’t know how to turn that into a compelling brand story. A content writer does.

A good content writer knows how to write specifically for the web, how to keep fickle web readers on your page and MAKE THEM CLICK THAT BUTTON!

As a content writer, I will take your business knowledge and turn it into something to the point and effective. In other words, something magical.

Writing effective content for the web is nothing like writing short stories, essays, or any other kind of writing. It’s a special skill, and we content writers pride ourselves on nailing it, every time.

Fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation about your content marketing needs.

To Make the Sale, You Need to Stand Out

Here’s why…

First of all, you may or may not know that I am a digital nomad since January 2017 and am currently working from various locations around Europe. It’s pretty awesome!

The other day I was at the morning fish market in Hamburg, Germany (eating fish sandwiches at 7am is an experience I highly recommend, by the way) and I noticed that among the many booths, some of the sellers were yelling out their prices to passersby. Those same sellers were also singing songs, joking with the crowd of people gathered around, and generally seemed to have a lot of personality.

I would dare to wager that those guys sold more fish than the other booths. Why? Because they stood out.

My theory comes from one of the basic principles of salesSelling is all about relationship-building.

In the case of these fish vendors, their boldness allowed them to stand out, which created a starting point of interaction with these potential customers.

Build Relationships to Make More Sales

This experience got me thinking about sales reps in general, and how critical being memorable, standing out, and building relationships are to making a sale. It’s important to note that if you own a business then you are, in fact, a sales rep.

If you focus solely on what your product or service is or does, you risk blending in with all the others who provide your same service or sell the same product.

But by creating a personalized experience through conversations with your customers – whether that conversation is in the form of an online survey, a blog post, a video or a song – they get to know you better and in turn, begin to see you as a human with a personality, and not a sales person they are trying to avoid.

This is the first step to building lasting relationships with your customers.

Personalization Makes You Memorable

If you’re creating memorable experiences, hopefully you’re doing it in a positive way. Another common wisdom in the sales world – people buy from people they like.

If your potential customers like you, then they’re more likely to trust you, and people buy from people they trust.

When you leave the fish market you may think back on the souvenirs you saw, the coffee you bought (a godsend at that early hour), the vendors selling baskets of fruit and the beer being drunk in the live music hall. Yes, you read that right. Germany is an amazing place.

Naturally, in a fish market, you’ll have seen more fish vendors than anything else – dozens in fact. Which ones will you remember? Probably the ones that sing songs and make friends with passersby.

How will you stand out and add your personality to the marketplace?

This Applies to Your Business Too

Sure, selling fish is nowhere near as complex as getting someone to use your legal services or sign up for a monthly software service – but the principle remains the same. Stand out in a positive way, and you’re more likely to get the business.

We’re all being sold to all the time, and there are multiple providers of nearly every service or product out there. How you differentiate yourself and stand out to your customers will affect their decision to buy from YOU and not the other guy.

Ask the Experts Digital Marketing Trends 2018

Ask the Experts – Digital Marketing Trends for 2018

Ask the Experts Digital Marketing Trends 2018

In 2017 personalization in marketing automation got smarter and smarter. It was a big year for Facebook and LinkedIn groups, and it was the year Instagram Stories exploded. With the shift to 2018 comes changes in digital marketing, whether we’re ready or not. New digital marketing strategies are entering the marketplace every day, as technologies emerge and user behaviors demand a more integrated experience. How will your company evolve this year?

Here, 4 International Experts share how 2017 shaped the world of digital marketing, and what they think will be the biggest trends to watch in 2018.

Liam Hennessy – Digital Marketing Strategist/Media Analyst, 6H Media

I think customer service (or “customer experience”) very slowly crept in and has started to dominate the domain of marketers as well. Since social media allows real-time interactions with brands, last year it became all the more important for companies to keep a friendly and informative face.

In terms of SEO there are some interesting indicators: “linkless” mentions of brands on sites may very well become a Google ranking factor (this is already the case on Bing). The recent collapse of net neutrality in the States, however, could very much be a game-changer in terms of content marketing and SEO. ISPs may decide to limit website speed and content unless users pay premium, having considerably adverse effects on SEO efforts in the USA. Should this be the case, marketers may have to get very creative and technical about displaying their content on the slowest speeds. On an international scale, however, this is unlikely to be an issue – at least for the time being.

Liam is a digital marketing strategist, copywriter and general lover of wine and travelling.

Michael Shipley (“Ship”) – President and Co-Founder, Kahuna Marketing

For nearly a decade now, mobile has been the next big thing in digital advertising, and for nearly a decade now it has not lived up to the hype.  While there is no denying the growth in mobile consumption, and its value in a balanced marketing plan, it has simply been another screen for text and banner ads.  That changed for me in 2017 however, with Google’s integration of Nearby Notifications on Android devices.  Now it’s easier than ever to reach consumers on mobile screens, and connect online advertising with in-store engagement.  While location data has been available for years, integration into the OS means there are no special apps required.  On top of that, there are no media fees associated with the Nearby Notifications.

Looking ahead to 2018…this will be the year of Amazon. Not only has it established itself as the bottom of the funnel for retailers, but it has emerged from the 2017 holiday rumble as the leader in smart home technology and services.  With a recent announcement of the expansion of its search and video advertising products, Amazon has put the industry on notice.  They have the platform, the consumers, and the cash to disrupt in 2018.

Kahuna Marketing is an online advertising agency based in Hawaii.

Rachael Piper – Owner, Rachel Piper Consulting

I think particularly in the digital media discipline data remains king. We historically backed ourselves into a data corner and I don’t foresee us breaking free of that. At first people were not convinced that spending advertising dollars online was a good idea, but now according to recode as of 2017 digital ad spending (41%) has surpassed TV ad spending (35%) for the lion’s share of media spend and it is predicted to make up 50% of ad spending by 2020. In addition to users spending more time digitally, I believe that a major contributor in convincing Advertisers to spend their media budgets digitally is the accountability that digital provides.

CTR (click through rate) was the early holy grail of digital KPIs (key performance indicators). I believe this was the wedge that helped break open the digital media door because we were able to point to hard numbers and say “X amount of impressions drove Y clicks for a CTR of Z” and thus measuring the impact of advertising down to an impression-level was introduced. As with anything (especially anything digital) in order to remain relevant, it must evolve which I think has been a continued obstacle for our digital media discipline.

It is a process; for example, CTR (click through rate) is no longer the end-all-be-all when it comes to measuring digital media’s impact/effectiveness. Now we have to have a lot of conversations around how CTR and Conversion Rates often are not positively correlated or how CTR and Video Completion Rates often have an inverse relationship because one either clicks or completes the view, not both. We’ve evolved enough to know that CTR is no longer the all-inclusive metric to measure the impact of digital media, but we also haven’t replaced it.

We also often have predicaments where a Client wants a cool, integrated Native brand awareness buy, but expects that to drive the same ROAS (return on ad spend) as a programmatic buy, which is not likely but also isn’t to say the Native buy wouldn’t be effective. So we need more understanding that different digital media tactics yield different results and a better data-backed understanding to show how it all works together.

All that to say, we did see some advancements in 2017 in terms of telling a more of a complete story with cross-device data and “closing the loop” offline with more accurate location-based data and in some cases being able to directly tie back to offline purchase data.

This is great and much more advanced than traditional media, but it is also problematic because we’ve set this expectation that we’re measuring everything. However, in reality, the data we currently have only tells us bits and pieces of the whole story. We are still a long way from where we want to be, albeit digital does tell much more of the story than traditional media. Which isn’t to discount traditional media because it all plays a role and works together, but traditional media hasn’t historically had to sing for its’ supper the same way digital has. Digital has built its’ worth on its’ accountability and therefore the responsibility lies on its’ shoulders.

So for the love of all things pixelated, I hope we see an accurate, digestible, platform agnostic, reasonably priced attribution-modeling tool emerge in 2018. I’m also curious to see how we go about tracking and measuring ads in the emerging AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality) and Hologram, etc. worlds in the (near) future.

Rachael is owner of Rachael Piper Consulting, specializing in Digital Media since 2012.

Marion Chloé Theis – Marketing + Business Coach for Women Entrepreneurs

I really felt a turn operating in marketing in 2017: from faceless corporations and brands, we switched to a more personalized approach in targeting, but also in messaging.

With plenty of new tools & technologies – chatbot, re-targeting, Facebook ads – it is now possible, more than ever, to make your marketing highly targeted.

But technology without strategy is useless. If your marketing is bad offline, it’ll be bad online as well – the only difference is, more people will see it. Global brands are only starting to understand this, but when you’re mainly online – like in my clients’ and my case – it is crucial to have a clearly defined and powerful marketing identity.

On a global level, marketing switched from B2B and B2C to a « H2H » approach: a Human to Human one. Personal branding has been growing immensely this year: we don’t talk only about business anymore, but we talk about people (us and our customers) and to people. We brand ourselves but not in a corporate, polished way.

We also stopped selling and started building relationships instead. Relationships based on value first, with content strategies at their core. Yes, the goal is always to get clients and make money. But it’s done in a different, subtle way. To get people’s trust, you first need them to believe in your expertise and that’s exactly what content does.

Facebook groups are certainly a proof of all of this: mixing personal and professional interests, they allow like-minded individuals to connect and support each other. But (even) more than a community, they’re also a fantastic branding tool to use. Facebook groups are the ideal combination of personal branding, relationship building and content creation and represent to me perfect illustration of the year 2017.

I definitely believe that 2018 will bring even more depth to personal branding, storytelling and putting value first – and also more opportunities to make it sustainable and scalable.

We’ll make a step further down the road of authenticity, taking a learner approach instead of an expert one. Saying we’re struggling when we are struggling, showing people the not-so-glamourous side of managing a business and a brand is, as surprising at it may seems, what is going to get us more clients.

Showing vulnerability is what makes us connect as human beings. Being authentically you in how you run but also market your business is what’ll make you stand out. It’s a step forward in relationships building, a more intimate one.

Technology-wise, I see Instagram & Facebook stories allowing just this. These snippets of your daily life will make you and your brand appear more human, more lively, more relatable. Whatever you choose to share, don’t overthink it and be as natural as can be – because you’re the best at being you. They’re a powerful tool to reach an audience and get them to like and trust you easily – and it’s pretty fun to do!

I also see chatbots playing a major role in 2018. It’s relationship-building scaled to a whole new level. Of course, chatbot in and of themselves won’t make or break a business. But they might just be the piece that makes your audience turn into customer. Being able to deliver content directly to a client’s Messenger is really, really powerful.

In 2018, you’ll want to have a place in your ideal client’s daily life while not spending too much time doing so – which means automating and speaking to an audience. If you follow these two rules, then 2018 will be the year of your marketing breakthrough!


6 Best Digital Marketing Strategies for Small Business

For many of us, the end of the year is a time to wind down, relax, and enjoy time with your loved ones. I am a big fan of this practice of mindfulness and being in the moment!

For many small businesses, however, the year’s end is an important time to look back at successes and missteps, analyze sales data, and plan out a marketing strategy for the coming year. Maybe you’re wrapping up projects with clients in the next few weeks, pushing to meet end-of-year goals or gearing up for a big kick off for a new business promotion?

If you’re in the latter boat, consider some of the most effective (and foundational) marketing strategies for small business.

Marketing Strategy: Branding/Identity

There’s never a bad time to take a good, honest look at your company’s branding and identity. Your company name, website, logo, colors, imagery and other graphic elements should all work together to communicate your strategic positioning to your customers.

Are you trying to exude a feeling of luxury? Safety? Reliability? Your branding is an essential tool for casting yourself in the desired light. If you’re feeling wobbly on your branding, consider hiring a good freelancer or a branding agency to help you refine things.

If your brand is already rock solid, I recommend creating a brand book to better communicate yourself to partners, vendors, and internal teams. Make sure your brand is properly applied to all documents both internal and external.

If you need a recommendation for a good designer to create your brand book, let me know! I can point you in the right direction. If you’re feeling adventurous, use a tool like Canva, Powerpoint/Keynote, Adobe PDF Writer, or Pixlr Editor to create your own.

Marketing Strategy: Content Marketing

Content marketing is all about making yourself discoverable on the web and adding value for your potential customer or client. It is not about spamming them with sales pitches!

With content marketing, you position yourself as a helpful expert in your field by sharing valuable information that matters to your ideal client. Content marketing pieces include your blog, social media, email marketing, white papers, reports, ebooks, etc. (more on these “Lead Magnets” below).

For example, if you’re in the real estate business, you might find that there are a lot of searches for tips on buying a home. Then you would write a post for your website’s blog about things for first time home buyers to look out for. Next, you can share that post on your social media and LinkedIn profiles, and send it to your email list. Your customers and potential customers will appreciate the helpful knowledge and will keep you in mind for when it’s time to act.

Check out this post I wrote geared towards commercial real estate tenants to get the idea.

Marketing Strategy: SEO/Local Search

SEO is complex and ever-changing – so don’t be surprised if you’re not able to do this one all on your own. There is so much value in a good SEO/local search expert, and if you haven’t noticed, it’s pretty competitive out there!  So getting started with Google AdWords couldn’t hurt either.

However, there are some low-hanging fruits that you can definitely self-squeeze to improve search rankings. Some of the main factors that influence your search engine ranking include keywords, content quality, links to and from your site (through subject expertise, collaboration and partnerships), mobile-friendliness, security and user experience.

The #1 easiest thing you can do for better SEO is to have a consistent, informative, keyword-friendly blog. Google loves websites that consistently push out new content. I specialize in blog creation and management for a variety of business categories, if you want to chat about this.

digital marketing strategy: build your email list

Marketing Strategy: Build an Email List

Don’t have an email list? You’re missing out! An email list is a crucial part of modern digital marketing and one of the most powerful tools you can have. The people who opt-in to your site are expressing interest in you – now it’s your move!

Another purpose of email marketing is to stay relevant in people’s lives before they’re ready to buy what you’re selling and to stay “top of mind” for word-of-mouth opportunities. It’s also great for promotions tailored to your best customers.

Key tips for email marketing: Keep it short and sweet, and only reach out when you’ve got something important to say. Add an email signup form to your website and social media profiles today to collect more leads! I am a big fan of MailChimp for their fair prices, helpful chat support, and excellent online knowledge base.

Marketing Strategy: Lead Magnets/Content Upgrades

You’ve probably been involved in a lead magnet exchange before without even realizing it. A lead magnet is a digital piece such as a PDF guide or free ebook which you receive in exchange for your email address. These “content upgrades” are a great way to accelerate your list building efforts. You can repackage a piece of content you have already created, or better yet, create an item that is a complement to an existing blog post or article.

Of course, lead magnets are branded with your logo and web address, and now you can follow up with these new leads via email. Lead magnets can be offered on your website and distributed automatically using your email marketing provider. Or, you can use them in your advertising to increase click-through rates.

Marketing Strategy: Be Social

But do it strategically. Social media can be a great source of exposure for your business, and it’s made businesses more human, thank goodness! At its best, social media is integrated with all your other strategies – it meshes with your branding, serves an outlet for your content marketing, it helps build your SEO through review and links, and drives traffic to your website.

While almost every small business owner I know is aware that they should be using social media, many are not sure how to go about it.

Rule # 1 – You don’t need to be everywhere. Figure out where your customers hang out and go there. It could be more than one, but it doesn’t have to be all. Once you’ve decided where to focus your energy, commit to it. Be consistent. Consider hiring a pro to help you create and share content on a regular basis. Too often, it’s added to the existing job of an admin or another role within your organization, and it falls by the wayside.

All of these strategies are proven and cost-effective. Most of them, you can implement yourself, if you have the time. However, calling in a professional like a good freelancer can help you learn the ropes, and can actually save you time and money by doing it right the first time.

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