Get Your Audience Involved With These Conversation Starters

June 30, 2020 / Roberta Hill  / 
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You can’t read anything about marketing and content these days without reading about engaging your customers. But what does that really mean?

Engaging means capturing someone’s attention – connecting – and having a conversation. This is not easy to do on the internet, particularly when there are millions of other things clamouring for attention at the same time.

But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. It just means you need to try harder.

The thing is, your customers want to talk to you. If they didn't, they would unsubscribe. Remember, that is OK too. From your experience on Facebook, you would probably rather have a civilized conversation than ta debate or argument. 

Your readers want to know what you think, and most importantly, they want to believe that you care what they think.

It’s not as hard as you might think. Here are 7 simple conversation starters to get your audience talking to you.

#1: Express an Opinion about Industry News

You want to build authority within your industry or niche? One of the best ways to do that AND start a conversation with your followers is to express an opinion – particularly if it might be new or controversial. Of course, you should only do this if you can back up your opinion.

Despite what I wrote earlier, some bloggers do want to be controversial but then you need to be prepared for the ‘haters”.  It depends on your niche and what you are trying to achieve. If this is a business web site, I would tend to avoid the three taboos – sex, religion or politics.

A good way to get started with this tactic is to follow relevant publishers and influencers in your industry. When you see them post a piece of news that’s relevant to your followers, read the article (or watch the video) and figure out what you can add to the conversation. Then share it – and make sure to include a call to action that encourages your followers to chime in with their own opinions.

#2: Ask for Stories and Experiences

Everybody has a story to tell – and when you’re speaking to an audience who all have something in common with you, then it’s easy to think of a topic that may inspire people to share their stories.

The key here is to share your own story and then ask your followers to share their best stories with you. For example, say you own a travel agency. You might tell a story of a trip you booked for yourself before you were a travel agent and how it went wrong. Then, you could ask your followers for their travel horror stories.

The value of this type of sharing is that it provides you with an opportunity to respond, express sympathy or amazement, and build a bond with potential customers online.  Sometimes it can also be a source of great additional content.

#3: Get Recommendations

People might love to tell stories, but do you know what else they like? Giving advice and making recommendations! And asking them for recommendations is a great way to get them talking.

What kind of recommendations should you ask for? Ideally, they should be relevant to your product or service. For example, I’m a marketing guy. I might ask:

  • What are your favourite marketing podcasts?
  • What publications do you follow on Facebook and Twitter?
  • Which marketing technique is your favourite, and why?
  • What marketing apps would you recommend?

You get the idea. The key is not to stray too far from your brand and product. Instead, keep a tight focus and encourage your followers to share their experiences and recommendations with you and each other.

#4: Promote Your Events and Your Community

Are you appearing at a local street fair or charity event? Sharing your involvement is a great way to remind people that you stand for something other than making money – and to underscore your involvement in your community and industry.

Even if you’re not appearing at an event, there’s a benefit in letting your followers know what’s going on in your community. Giving a nod to other businesses or to local charities can help you build trust and earn the admiration of your followers. You can encourage conversation by asking questions like these:

  • Will you be attending the ****  celebration?
  • What was the last community event you attended?

Another option is to include an open call to action at the end, something like “We hope you’ll stop by and check out our booth! There’s a free gift in it for you!”

#5: Ask about Do-It-Yourself Projects

Whatever industry or niche you’re in, the chances are good that your followers have some  DIY experiences that are relevant. Asking about them is a great way to learn about potential customers and build a warm rapport with them by responding to what they share.

Ideally, a DIY project should be something that uses (or could use) your products. However, it doesn’t have to be. The key is to find a way to make what you post relevant to your brand – and then stand back and let your followers do the rest.

#6: Ask Open Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to get your followers talking. It’s especially helpful to you if you can get them talking in a way that helps you to learn more about them – because that’s information you can use to create future content.

For example, if you’re targeting small business owners, you could ask questions like:

  • What’s your biggest challenge as a business owner?
  • What problem do you wish someone would solve for you?
  • What product or service has helped you the most?

The answers to these questions can help you write blog posts, create a social media strategy, or even develop new products that are ideal for your target audience.

#7: Ask for Testimonials

You already know that reviews and testimonials are hugely important in the world of marketing. What better way to get some new testimonials to share on your site than to ask your customers to provide them on social media?

Not only will asking for opinions help you get some positive testimonials, this may also help you discover potential issues and nip them in the bud before they become big problems. You should be prepared for some surprises – but if you approach the request with the right mindset, this technique can help you learn a lot about your customers.

Look who’s talking… 

The bottom line is that your audience wants to talk to you. They don’t read your blog or follow you on social media because they’re looking for a lecture. The key is to give them the encouragement they need to share their thoughts, experiences, and opinions with you – and then, to stand back and listen to what they say.

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Why content remains king

January 23, 2020 / Roberta Hill  / 

This is a follow-up short article regarding my previous post:  8 Great Types of Content Marketing for Local Businesses  In that post, I point out eight types of content you can use/create.  In this one, I elaborate on why content is and always will be “King”.

Long before the Internet existed, the defining axiom in print was: “content is king.” Today, with online content dominating print content, many of the world's leading SEO and web marketing experts still say that “content is king.”

Why is this the case? That even after decades, regardless of the medium, content is still the crux of good marketing?

This is what builds loyalty

Companies were not built on first-time visitors. Companies like the Wall Street Journal do not make most of their money with people who pick up their newspapers for the first time.

They make money from people who have read their content and then decided that it is good enough that they either want to buy again or take out a subscription. If the company required a new customer every time to get paid, they would all have failed by now.

But many online publications approach their business that way. Instead of focusing on recurring visitors, they focus on search engine optimization to get more new customers. 

However, the famous and successful blogs like the Huffington Post or TechCrunch still get most of their traffic from repeat visitors. Their businesses would only be a fraction of what they are today if they did not have great content.

The evolution of the search engines

Google and other search engines strive continually to ensure that their search results deliver better results ever. They want people who search their search engines to find the best possible content concerning what they are looking to find.

As search engines become more intelligent, marketers who focus primarily on marketing tactics rather than the actual content will become extinct. 

Google has proven this repeatedly by downgrading the importance of inferior links and increasing the importance of usage statistics and other metrics actually to measure the content of a website.

If you build your site around great content and have a good understanding of basic SEO, your website will thrive. If you put all your efforts on SEO and don't pay serious attention to your content, you will always try to stay one step ahead of the search engines. 

The ability to sell high-ticket items

A site with inferior content might be able to sell $0.20 clicks through AdSense. But a high-quality website could sell $5,000 DVD sets by the hundreds.

With high-quality content, you can build a relationship with your readers. This relationship allows you to sell any number of things to your readers. From high-quality articles to recurring memberships to one-on-one coaching, it all starts with high-quality content.

Over time, only content that helps people will be successful. Content that does not do so is likely to be downgraded more and more over time. 

8 Great Types of Content Marketing for Local Businesses

November 4, 2019 / Roberta Hill  / 


You know that content marketing is still king. That’s unlikely to change and that means that it’s your job to create and share the kind of content that’ll bring customers to your business and help you improve your bottom line.

The numbers back up content marketing’s importance. Research shows that 91% of all B2B companies use content marketing, and the same is true of 86% of B2C businesses. However, only 63% of companies have a dedicated content strategy.

You can see the issue at hand. Content marketing is a must and yet doing it improperly – without a clear focus and strategy – can be a huge waste of time and money.

With that in mind, here are 8 content marketing types to help you build your strategy and grow your business.

#1: Blog Posts

Blog posts are hardly revolutionary in the world of content marketing, yet a lot of local businesses still aren’t blogging regularly. Those who do reap rewards:

  • Companies that blog get 97% more links to their websites than companies that don’t
  • Companies with blogs have a 434% higher chance of receiving a high Google rank compared to companies without blogs
  • 10% of blog posts are compounding, which means that they attract more organic traffic over time

For the best results, keep your blog posts tightly focused. Optimize them for local and voice search and make sure to use a clear, easy-to-follow structure in each post.

#2: Infographics  

A lot of local businesses don’t bother with infographics and that’s a shame. They’re increasingly popular and perfect if you need to present a lot of data in a way that’s easy to understand.

While you might think you need to hire a professional graphic designer to make infographics for you, that’s not true. Online tools such as Canva and Venngage make it simple to create beautiful, shareable infographics.

Infographics can help you build authority and gravitas. They’re ideal for sharing on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. If you’ve posted a data-heavy blog recently, consider transforming it into an infographic to share on social media.

#3: Customer Testimonials 

You already know that customer reviews and testimonials are essential forms of social proof to use in your online marketing. However, if you handle them properly, they can also be part of your content marketing strategy.

Consider shooting video testimonials that tell a compelling story and give people a reason to buy your product or use your service. Video testimonials can be posted on your website, emailed to your list, or shared on social media.

#4: Case Studies

The term “case study” can be an intimidating one but think of them as in-depth customer testimonials. A testimonial will usually focus on how the customer feels about your business. A case study shows how you or your product helped a customer.

If you decide to use case studies in your content marketing, make sure to:

  • Tell a compelling story in an engaging way. Incorporating some suspense and emotion into the story will keep people interested and ensure they stick around until the end.
  • Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say that you helped your client grow their business – provide metrics and numbers wherever it’s possible.
  • Show your customer’s journey from start to finish. Make sure to explain where they started, why they came searching for you, and what happened after they found you.

Case studies should be featured on your website. They can also be shared on social media.
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