Whatever you call them, they are an important part of any B2B salesperson’s toolkit. However, many B2B marketers load their data sheets with too much text and visual clutter. This not only causes your core message to get lost, but it also overwhelms your readers.
Here are five data sheet dos and don’ts that will help you turn more leads into customers:
1. A compelling title. Your title is what motivates people to click a link and read your post, so it’s worth investing time to come up with something compelling. Studies have shown that top-performing blog posts tend to include the words “how to” or a number, such as “the top 5 ways to…” The reason why these posts perform well is that they promise readers will learn something specific when they check out the post.
It’s also critical to include your main keyword or key phrase in your title, as this will help your blog rank higher on Google. Just make sure that your title reads for humans, not robots.
2. A summary. While a summary is not mandatory, it is often a good idea to include a one- or two-line summary of your blog post just under your title. A well-crafted summary can convince people to read more of the post. You can also copy the summary into the WordPress Excerpt plug-in, and WordPress will automatically display it on your search and archive pages.
3. A strong lead. The opening paragraphs of your blog post must engage your audience so they continue to read the post. You can achieve this by telling a personal story that your readers can relate to, asking a question that the blog post will answer, sharing interesting statistics or showing readers that you understand their biggest challenges.
4. Sub-headers and bullet points. The majority of people skim articles on the Internet, rather than read them word for word. That’s why you must break up your text using sub-headers, bullet points, numbered lists and short paragraphs.
5. A call to action. What do you want people to do after they read your blog post? Leave comments? Share your post? Visit another web page? Whatever you want them to do, you must spell it out at the end of your blog post.
6. An opt-in form. In addition to a call to action at the end of your blog post, it’s also wise to tie each post into one of your marketing campaigns. For example, if you’re writing a blog post on how to increase your e-commerce sales, include a banner ad that directs readers to a webinar or a white paper on the same topic. Doing this can greatly increase the size of your list.
7. Social sharing options. Be sure that your blog contains a tool that allows readers to share your content with their social networks. One of the biggest mistakes that I see in this area is social tools that don’t allow you to post to newer networks. Another common mistake is including your social sharing tool either at the top of the post or the bottom of the post. This means that your readers will have to scroll a lot to share your content. I prefer social sharing tools that float along the side of the screen as you read, such as Digg Digg and Flare.
8. An image. An image not only makes your page more visually appealing, but it can also improve your SEO when you tag it with your keywords.
9. An author bio. Instead of attributing your blog posts to your company, you should give authorship credit to your team members. Doing this can build morale and get more of your colleagues interested in contributing to the blog. It also shows readers that you are not just a faceless corporation.
10. SEO optimization. WordPress plug-ins such as Yoast make it easy to optimize your posts. What I like about Yoast is that you enter the keyword that you want to target, and it automatically shows you what areas of the post need more work. This is a great plug-in if your contributors upload their own posts, as it guides them through the SEO process
11. Categories and tags. Don’t forget to assign each post to the appropriate category and tag it with relevant keywords. This will make it easier for readers to find posts on your blog. One of the biggest mistakes that I see in this area is blogs with too many categories. Narrow your categories down to five or fewer core topics, and use tags to be more descriptive.
Is there anything else that you like to include in all of your blog posts? Feel free to share your comments below.
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