You just drafted up a great blog post and don’t want to finish off your masterpiece with a generic stock photo you’ve seen 100 times. Standing out and separating yourself takes digital marketing mastery. This article will break down how to design your very own custom blog graphics for your featured image.
This tutorial uses Photoshop within the demonstration. However, there are many other great graphic editing software and free website tools to use online to design custom blog graphics.
Determining Dimensions for Graphic
The most common dimensions are 1200x600px and 1200x650px (which is a 16:9 aspect ratio) for featured blog images. These dimensions will produce the best display throughout your blog feed.
Your Blank Canvas
Begin with a light background color. A light grey or an off-white works well as a background for your canvas. Locate the color pallet in Photoshop (bottom left corner). Then, use the color overlay effect to change the color of the background.
Border, or No Border?
This is a great debate among designers and creative minds. I would argue, “don’t overthink it!” Borders are great to add a frame to your graphic. There are instances when borders do not fit the rest of the design, so leave it out. At the end of the day it’s all down to preference. The most important thing to keep in mind is to keep your featured blog images consistent. If the rest of your blog features images with borders, the natural thing to design next would include a border around your graphic.
Determining the Subject
Choosing the right graphic for your blog article can be tough. However, there are a multitude of free resources to use when selecting your ideal graphic to edit. Some of the more widely used free graphics websites are:
Part traction channel, part revenue stream, part lead gen tool, affiliate programs can be extremely effective for everyone involved. When done correctly, that is. By definition, affiliate programs are arrangements in which a company pays a commission to affiliates for delivering conversions. Sales and leads are the primary conversions used, but some companies will pay for web traffic.
Amazon, of course, is one of the leaders in the affiliate space. Coined Amazon Associates, the e-commerce behemoth pays percentages and flat fees on sales generated from a company’s website or social media account. Say you review baby products on your blog. You can apply (and hopefully get accepted!) to the program, attach a tracking code to links to the product page you are reviewing and you’re set. In this example generating a sale of a car seat would net you 4.5% of the sale price. A bonus? Commissions don’t just apply to the product you are linking to. Any purchase from a customer you drive there counts!
Keeping with the baby theme, recommend your readers signup for the Amazon Baby Registry and you get $3 as soon as someone adds one item to the list.
Do Your Research
Just like anything on the web, some services are better than others. And when it comes to affiliate programs there are a lot of shady operations. Does it seem too good to be true? Well, it’s probably not. Look out for clumsily put together websites, a lack of terms and conditions and an unorganized fee and payout explanation. You should never pay to join. Anything that says “Get Rich Quick” should be avoided. And make sure the products you would be recommending are legit. The last thing you want is to get scammed out of commission AND your readers or followers scammed as well.
Bottom Line: Do your research, read reviews and talk to associates.
Staying True to Your Brand
It’s important to keep in mind that while you’re driving revenue and making a living that you are still a trusted source of information for your readers. So you certainly don’t want to be mentioning products you don’t recommend just because they have a high price tag. Further to that point, the best affiliates are transparent, noting on their site or in the article they are making a commission over referral purchases. The New York Times does a great job at that when they publish their books bestseller lists.
Why Should I Engage in Affiliate Marketing as a Big Brand
Because it’s noisy out there and you can use all the help you can get! Similar to business development it’s a relationship that is a win for you and a win for the partner. You can almost consider an affiliate network your own paid street team. You just don’t have to pay them until there is money in your pocket.
In terms of who, let’s extend the street team analogy. Who better to market your product than your loyal customers? They are already educated on your brand or service and the promise of occasional discounts in addition to a commission could be a powerful motivator. You’ll, of course, need to vet them and make sure they have a platform worth your effort, but the impact of a team of influencers could be huge.
One place to start would be with your analytics. Who has purchased the most from your store or who opens the most amount of your emails? Is there someone who is always liking, sharing and commenting on social media? Isolating these super users and then vetting them prior to reaching out can save a lot of time.
Looking for some simple tips on setting up your affiliate marketing program? Check out this tutorial!
When we say the word virus, what do you think of? Probably that sickness that kept you home from work for a few days last year so you didn’t pass it on to your co-workers. Just like a virus spreads and bounces from person to person, a viral marketing campaign is one that is spread from person to person where everyone impacted by the campaign brings at least one person to conversion for the business. The conversion might be a sale, a website visit, an email list sign up, or whatever else is important to your business at this time. Wow, sounds like a great, easy way to market your business, hu? Well, that isn’t necessarily the case. Let’s dive into the 3 steps associated with this unique traction channel and figure out what it really takes to create a successful viral marketing campaign.
Step 1: Awareness of Your Business
In order for a virus to spread, someone has to be its first victim. This same thing has to happen in viral marketing (except, let’s call them customers instead of victims). In order for your viral marketing campaign to be successful, you need to have early adopters who aware of and interested in your business.
Here are a few ways to increase awareness of your business:
Create great content. From blogging to creating podcasts or infographics, engaging content can help people recognize your brand as topic experts and ultimately who they choose to purchase from.
Establish partnerships. Working with other businesses (both local and digital) can help you reach a larger audience. Try to promote your products together, host connected giveaways or even just trade social media posts about each other. You can also partner with local non-profits or other organizations that align with the morals of your company. Giving back to your community is a great way to gain positive press.
Advertising your business. From Google search ads to billboards, there are many new and traditional ways to advertise your business and increase awareness of your business. Check out this video on offline advertising for some more tips and ideas.
Step 2: Customers Tell Their Friends
You might have customers who love your product, but if they don’t share with their friends, family and acquaintances then it’s not viral marketing.
Here are some tips for encouraging your customers to tell their friends:
Offer a referral program. Try offering your customers or clients a special deal if they refer a new customer or client to your business. This might just add the small push they need in order to make a recommendation.
Make it easy and fun to share social media posts and emails. With fun content that can be easily shared with a click of a button, your customers and clients will be quite likely to pass your name on to their friends.
Branded gear. Let your customers become walking billboards by offering clothing, stickers and other gear with your brand on it.
Ask for reviews or customer engagement in social media. Studies show that potential customers trust what other people similar to them so give your current customers an avenue to share their love for your product or service by collecting feedback, reviews and other types of engagement. For example, you know how many grocery stores and fast food services hand you your receipt and say, “fill out the survey on the back for a chance at $1,000?” Well, that is because they know the value of customer satisfaction, quality control, and reviews.
Step 3: New Customers Participate
Word of mouth can be extremely powerful, but it doesn’t always equal conversions. Once someone hears about your business from their friend they need to decide whether or not they will purchase anything. Here are a few ideas for encouraging new customer participation:
New customer discounts. Give your new customers an incentive to purchase right away by offering them a first purchase discount.
Have an easy to find website and social media pages. Additionally, make sure that information about your product or service is easy to find. While referrals from friends (step 2) help, people often do their own research once they get a referral.
Moral mission that people want to get behind. Many people like to purchase products and services that do good in their communities and the world. Therefore, if your business has a community-focused mission be sure to share that publically. It might just end up being the factor that creates a conversion for you.
Create a sense of urgency. Do you have a limited time product? Do you book up quickly? Don’t be afraid to let your customers and potential customers know this to create a sense of urgency. When people feel like there’s a time constraint on their potential purchase they are more likely to purchase than if there isn’t anything pushing them.
Want to learn more about viral marketing? Check out this video and be sure to follow our YouTube channel.
I continue to be impressed with the changes Google has made to Search Console in the last year. From an easier to manage user-interface to more robust data points for digital marketers to work with, any growing business looking to win on organic search should be taking advantage of this free software. Check out the video below for a quick screenshare of our favorite Search Console tactics.
If you’re not a career technical search engine optimization (SEO) professional, you might have logged into Search Console a couple years ago and thought: what the hell am I looking at? You’re not alone. While the platform held some truly powerful data like search position, ranking and trends, it was tough to find, difficult to decipher and riddled with industry acronyms. Though Having spent the last six years bouncing in and out of the different Google marketing products, Search Console remained an enigma. Until this year. It was too easy to glance at “organic traffic” referral in Analytics and see it improving month over month. I didn’t need to ask a ton of questions because there was always something more important to do.
Here’s a quick snapshot at the high level helicopter view metrics Google Search console can provide. Different than analytics (at least before connecting with Google Search Console), these metrics can give you info on interest before users ever reach your site. Imagine 50 fish swimming around your hook, Google Analytics tells you which fish you caught. Search Console lets you know which fish got away.
Google Search Console Investment:
The good news is, the application is free. The bad news, you’re going to need to put in some effort to like what you see on the dashboard. When the software side of our business, website personalization software GeoFli, started to get more and more leads from our website, it quickly became clear this was a result of our haphazard SEO efforts. Whoa. What if we spent time actually honing that effort and better understanding what keywords were driving the most qualified traffic. More importantly, what keywords are we ranking for in position 5, 6, 7 that we might be able to at.
If your customer acquisition looks like the flowchart below, SEO might be a good investment of time and resources. You can’t get users to your site, and they’re not converting once they’re there. But when you do acquire a customer, they stay for life. The key here is to use the early acquisition and activation strategies of content writing, SEO and other early marketing traction channels to acquire qualified traffic to your site.
Search Engine Optimization:
Where should SEO rank as a traction channel for your business? If you have $5,000 to spend on marketing, should you spend it on Facebook Ads, pitching at trade-shows or producing content to help your website rank? Our team loves investing in content that has a long lifespan. We call it evergreen. This includes simple video, articles and photos that add value to your customers’ lives. Remember, people go on the internet for one of two reasons: information or entertainment. If your content can do one of those two things, you’re leagues ahead.
Adjacent Traction Channels:
If you’re not getting a lot of site traffic, find someone that is. Now, it’s not going to work to reach out and beg: that’s kind of sad. Instead, find ways to add value (notice the trend here). We did this with our personalization software, GeoFli. We reached out to platforms we used like Mailchimp, Trello, MaxMind and Zapier and gave them a quick pitch about how their service really helped our company grow. We used some data, some flattering testimonials and some screenshots. Oh, and we included a back-link to our site in our paragraph. We were picked up by Trello and MaxMind and featured on their sites! To this day, those two back-links still refer traffic our way.
The reason this traction channel is adjacent to SEO is because inbound links are an important piece of any SEO strategy. Even if you don’t have a “strategy” but just want to climb the mountain to organic search one step at a time, targeting blogs with valuable insights and education on your area of expertise is a great way to do it.
Using Search Console to Select a Content Topic
As described in the video below, Google Search Console is a gold mine for figuring out what articles to spend time writing, and which ones to avoid. Unless you’re starting from a completely blank slate, you’ll be able to look at the queries your website is ranking for most often and tackle head on.
We like to look specifically at impressions compared to page position. In the screenshot below, our in-house personalization software, GeoFli, allows anyone to change website content based on location. There are a few things a user must understand before taking steps to purchasing a starter subscription. One is understanding their website traffic. “how to measure website traffic” is a great example of a keywords with a lot of impressions (500/month) that we’d like to own. And we’re currently ranking in position 13. I think we can improve that by writing some valuable content that meets user intent. See video for more info on how to navigate these screens.
Pro Tip # 2:
Improve organic click-through-rates by testing language. Phew, that’s a lot of marketing jargon. Take a look at the screenshot below. Both are in position 1.8 in search results (nice!) but one has a 32% click through rate (percentage of people that see the search result vs. click) and one has a 3.6% click-through-rate (CTR). The far right is position, green is CTR.
Use this opportunity to test the meta descriptions of the blog posts driving traffic. If you get 1,000 impressions and go from a 10% to a 20% click-through-rate simply by improving the title and meta description of your article, that’s an increase of 100 free website visitors a month!
Test out Google Search Console:
I’d highly recommend checking out Google Search Console for your business. The insights are extremely valuable and there are dashboards through Data Studio you can build, integrations with Analytics of course and you’ll be able to quickly see what users are searching for to land on your site.
If you’re looking to glean some of these insights, head to Google Search Console. Warning, verifying your site can sometimes be a headache. If you use Tag Manager, great. You’ll see the verification tag live on your site and it still will tell you it’s not added yet. You can verify with Analytics and that works about 25% of the time. Frustrating? As always we’re here to help. And as always, we hope you learned something.