Blogs are massively prevalent now, more than ever, with the increased move towards content marketing as a prominent social marketing strategy. As a current grad student with the University of Florida learning trending skills to better my mass communication and social media efforts, this assignment has been one of my favorites by far.
For this project, I decided to add my own twist to how I procured blogs to analyze. Rather than hone in on marketing blogs since, let’s face it, it’s not the most captivating topic unless you’re a marketer; I wanted to have a bit of fun and help out some up and coming bloggers in the process.
With this tweet, I sent a shout out to the “twitter-verse” to find out if there were any up for a review challenge.
I was tickled pink when 5 responded with their willingness to participate. This assignment only required a total of 3, so to those who didn’t make the final cut…
Thank you, thank you for responding!
I would still encourage you to read on, as these concepts span a variety of industries and will offer much value as you improve your individual blogs.
Personal Standard. I’ll be addressing each blog using the same criteria; each with specific results and action steps to put in place immediately.
Fair Warning. The following results are my professional extractions after spending time on each blog and may not accurately represent what each blogger is working towards.
Let’s get started!
Blog Type: Semi-professional
Purpose: Helping others improve themselves and create a better life.
Unique Sense of Branding: What makes this blog unique is the overwhelming amount of Free Resources offered on personal development. Some are downloadable but most are available for viewing on the blog itself. Although I would never advise to not educate, in fact that’s inbound marketing 101, but the amount of black text on a white background is just too bland, making it difficult for visitors to consume the amazing content. Stefan has a neat use of video, which I would advise to increase, but some of the videos either don’t work or aren’t quite telling the story of the text accompaniment. Because of that, the feel of the brand seems a bit dis-conjoined. I’d like to see the brand come alive as he is speaking to an audience looking to become a better version of themselves. The look, feel and dialogue should all encourage readers in that direction. That’s when action will begin to take place.
Traffic Sources: As a newly developed blog it’s tough to say exactly where the traffic is coming from so I did a bit of digging. The owner has a well updated YouTube channel and has been building a subscriber list; so that may currently be where the majority of traffic currently comes from. I did take a peek at his website page source to review what his meta data contained and found great keywords; “personal development resources”, “improve yourself”, “become a better version of yourself” and “transcend your limits.” This is definitely a good place to start. His meta data is filled in correctly but I was unable to find him ranking in Google under any of those keywords.
I ADVISE: to continue updating blog content that includes those keywords plus a dynamic title within the first 200 words of your post that include links to related sources in your field.
Example: “I just dissected The Butterfly Effect to prove, “the way you treat others has more impact on your accomplishments than you may ever realize”
Search Engine Ranking: Low rankings for intended keywords but ranked on the first page, spot 1, for the site name “transcend your limits”. Although that is great, it still poses a challenge because most people won’t be typing in “transcend your limits” when looking for personal development resources.
Integrated Marketing Communications: Stefan has employed well placed IMC tools such as a witty pop up box and an email subscriber form. Both include well timed call to actions as he offers his free eBook “essential life hacks” which equates to a fair trade for unlocking the psychological knowledge he has to share.
I ADVISE: to integrate your social channels in your blog content. For example the photos you take on Instagram could become blog posts. As an entrepreneur, you know, everything that happens in your day to day life effects your business. Try to integrate your life more into your blog; as you build your personal brand.
Your personal twist is all that’s missing from your marketing mix.
What Keeps Visitors Interested: This is the tricky part. Stefan’s content really is amazing. For his age, he really does have an extensive background in personally overcome obstacles in all the areas he’s looking to help others overcome.
The issue is, his brand is currently a bit lifeless. His videos are dark and his content drags on, which makes it difficult to hold the interest for folks visiting to simply get a lift; one tid bit at a time.
I ADVISE: Restructure content and bring in more of your personal videos and photos. Look at life as your work and become open to opportunities around you to create a another teaching moment.
This is something I was testing on my personal Instagram account if you want to take a look for further reference.
Advertiser Potential: Honing in on book and product reviews related to personal development would be a perfect place to focus as you build your brand. This will also help expedite potential partnerships moving forward. This can be a bit tricky as you want to keep your subscribers top priority; and that sometimes could mean giving a negative review; if necessary.
What’s missing? Feeling. Personal development is a very emotional topic and all the content I’ve reviewed is a bit dark, monotone and lifeless. I would never advise to change your personality. I would just like to see more of it flow cohesively and flawlessly between your social channels and your content. A subscriber even left a similar content on a recent YouTube video. If potential customers are giving advice, you must be willing to adapt or they will feel a loss of connection and lose their desire to follow you. Remember your building a community.
Level of Success: As a start-up his level of success is equal to the time he’s been active. Currently the level of success is on the low end; but with the proper improvements Stefan has great potential to be a key influencer in the self-development field.
TRY THIS: Mario Forleo focuses on how to “have the life and business you love.” Her inspirational style and community involvement is something to consider. This may be thinking outside the box, but the owner of Humans of New York also came to mind. He tells the stories of “would be” strangers that have inspired millions. Telling not only your story but others, will spark the growth towards a real community.
Best of luck Stefan!
NEXT…That Bridal Blush
Blog Type: Semi-professional
Purpose: Realistically illuminating the bridal planning process.
Unique Sense of Branding: Feminine, but fun.
Traffic Sources: Without a look at Google analytics this is always a challenge for me. When in doubt I review a sites “page source” to find out what’s in the meta data to help me determine how the site ranks. Her site was lacking any meta data, which are vital keywords to determine Google ranking. Also, her social sites didn’t have much two way conversation so it was hard to tell if visitors were moving from social to site.
I ADVISE: Update the meta data on the back-end of your blog with “beach wedding” specific keywords that would bring visitors to your site directly from Google.
Search Engine Ranking: “That bridal blush” seems to have a bit of competition in Google search and is currently ranked on page 3 of Google. Although, the name of a business isn’t always what brings in new clients. Its usually content related since that is how most people search the web. Be sure and keep those keywords visible throughout your continuously updated content. Content that sits static on a website or blog, usually results in a decline of Google rankings.
Integrated Marketing Communications: Although I didn’t notice any pop ups I did find an email subscriber list on the very bottom of the home page. I love the fact that the plugin she’s used includes a social proof entity that says “Join the 8 others…” This is very important in helping new users feel they are joining a community rather than just following a lifeless page.
What Keeps Visitors Interested: Photos! And her authentic writing. But seriously, the photos are amazing and represent a perfect photo/text ratio that makes it easy to stay a while and learn just how amazing the wedding process can truly be.
Advertiser Potential: She has a neat opportunity to partner up with fellow wedding vendors. I would advise her to stay clear of traditional “side bar” advertising; rather to build strategic partnerships that allow her to expand upon her story telling abilities. There is a great example of a partnership potential in this video, but the possibilities are endless.
What’s Missing? Video and clear calls to action. Without fresh content there really is little reason for visitors to stay on your site. Once they have visited and consumed all the” goodness”, you must continue to update to give visitors a reason to return. Creating your own “social site” of sorts; keeps folks coming back to you rather than bumping into them on Facebook. It’s sad, but true. Get an edge on how to stop this from happening by reading this article; “how facebook is killing your website.”
Level of Success: Although this is an ecstatically professional blog without clear action steps that move visitors towards booking an appointment I would consider the level of marketing success low. With very little social interaction it is clear that that there is a bit of lack in building authentic relationships. Building relationships are the key to any successful blog.
TRY THIS: Focus on storytelling. You tell a great story, but you need to build a vocal community to share these dynamic stories. The best way to expedite this, authentically, is to tell other brides stories. I experimented this on another site I managed (Live Wichita) and it performed amazingly. In some cases I saw over 100% engagements, meaning more people were liking, commenting and sharing than even liked the page. This further solidifies social proof and is in line with “How Millenials make purchasing decisions.”
Looking forward to watching your dream grow Mollie!
And last, but certainly not least…
Blog Type: Semi-professional/Recreational
Purpose: To take the world apart and then put it back together again, but even better.
Unique Sense of Branding: Codie’s fun, quirky, style in how she describes the details of life, realistically, allows readers to feel encouraged by their own unique selves. Although the business intentions of the blog may be a bit hazy, the brand voice she is building is quite clear and is consistent in her titles, tone and design.
Traffic Sources: With a heavy focus on what appears to be book reviews; visitors are drawn in by her raw outtakes as life unfolds around her. Her take on life finds a place in your soul that allows readers to feel excited just to be, well…themselves.
Search Engine Ranking: The word “CodieKinz” dominated the first page of Google search. However this isn’t necessarily how new users would find her. When I viewed her page source for meta data I found words like writer, vlogger, and elbow licker. Cute, but, these keywords are a bit vague to currently allow her blog to climb in Google rankings.
I ADVISE: update your blogs meta data using keywords you want visitors to find you for. For example when you do a book review the name of the book and the word “review” should be placed in your meta data, also links to the book, site and author should be present. Using significant keywords relating to post topics also aid in boosting Google rankings.
Integrated Marketing Communications: Her digital IMC seems to be set up well. She has multiple social sharing tools and a very prominent email subscriber sign up block. I’m a bit curious how her marketing communications continue; so I went ahead and signed up.
What Keeps Visitors Interested: Codie! She is so fun and so realistically honest I found myself watching a very revealing video about contraception. As a mother of three I couldn’t help but chuckle by her take, but she’s so interesting to watch I couldn’t help but look forward to what animated face or sarcastic anecdote she would insert next. Oh and did I mention her the fun design? Easy to navigate pages and whistle worthy music playing in the background makes it hard not to stay a while.
Advertiser Potential: Honing on book and product reviews related to personal development would be a perfect place to focus as you build your brand. This will also help expedite potential partnerships moving forward. This can be a bit tricky as you want to keep your subscribers top priority; and that sometimes mean giving a negative review if necessary.
What’s missing? Clarity of purpose and clear call to action. I’d like to see amplification of your purpose and what you hope to achieve with your blog. If your selling your writing services or booking clients it should be clear what visitors can expect from following you. You don’t ever want them to be caught off guard. With a clear mission explained in an unobtrusive manner it will build trust with your community as well as open up new partnership opportunities.
Level of Success: I would consider her blog highly successful. Her self-proclaimed mantra is to “take the world apart and then put it back together again, but even better…” I would say her transparent honesty is doing just that. So, if she’s successful in her goal to accomplish that, than I consider it a success!
TRY THIS: Use relevant keywords within the first 200 words of each post. Update meta data tags to boost google rankings. Clarify the mission/purpose of your blog.
Happy Vlogging Codie! Keep in touch.
Keywords seem to be the trending issue.
I ADVISE: All three bloggers would greatly benefit from installing the SEO Yoast Plugin which “pre-ranks” each post before publishing.