Whether you’re having a face-to-face meeting with prospective clients, or trying to market your brand with blog content, first impressions count.
In fact, in the digital world brands often don’t get a second chance, because online consumers have short attention spans and they’re already bombarded with hundreds of blog posts, emails, social media posts and advertisements every day.
According to research published in Psychological Science, it takes an average person a tenth of a second to form an impression about a stranger based on appearance and looks.
However, as a blogger, it’s not just about making a strong first impression. Keeping your readers engaged and converting them into subscribers and customers is equally important.
Which is why, the moment a new visitor comes to your blog, you need to take them from one level of excitement to another.
Sounds difficult right? Let me simplify this for you.
Here are a few ways you can make complete strangers immediately fall in love with your blog and come to you every time they need help.
The Ultimate Guide to Blogging for Small Business
1. Make a strong first impression with powerful branding
Excuse me for using this word repeatedly, but first impressions are just so important.
What’s the first thing that shapes your blog’s perception when a stranger lands on your homepage?
Your website design, logo, the color theme – in short, the look and feel of your blog.
According to Reboot Online, 65% of people are primarily visual learners who perceive things by looks before exploring them any further.
So make sure your blog has a modern outlook and is compatible across different devices and platforms. You can use a premium responsive WordPress theme or hire a freelance designer from UpWork or 99Designs (especially for logo design) to get started.
Here’s what a good, clean and professional design looks like.
“But Jawad, why should I listen to you? Seth Godin, Google and so many other influencers and brands have ugly blogs and they still get millions of readers”.
I know that voice in your head.
Seth Godin is a well-known celebrity author and an authority marketer. He doesn’t need a good looking blog to make an impression on his followers. They already know what he has to offer.
You’re no Seth Godin and in this post, I’m talking about making an impression on complete strangers not people who already know you.
But one thing that shapes your brand image, even before a visitor looks at your design, is your domain name. If you’re trying to build a long-term business, choose a URL that resonates with your brand name.
An ugly design can quickly turn away visitors from your blog, even before they hear what you have to say.
Here are some fabulous blog designs to give you more inspiration.
2. Offer premium content for free to win people over
Do you know the secret to winning the hearts of your readers?
Let me say this loud and clear: offer unbelievably useful content for free.
Yes, I said free.
And I’m not talking about good content. I’m talking about insanely useful and jaw dropping content.
“Why the hell would I do that?”
Because doing that even once can give you dozens, if not even hundreds of loyal subscribers.
Your content can be an eBook, a video series, a blog post, a knowledge base or anything useful really.
Shopify is a brilliant example to follow.
They not only create mind blowing blog content regularly, they’ve set up a huge encyclopedia for small businesses which contains everything a small business owner needs to know about doing business online.
Neil Patel, another great example, creates 5000-6000 word blog posts every other day. Every one of his blog posts can be sold as a premium eBook, but he gives them away for free.
Why wouldn’t people love him for doing this?
But just because a piece of content has 5000-6000 words doesn’t mean it has quality as well. As a blogging consultant, I regularly see business blogs with really in-depth blog posts that fail to generate any engagement.
Why? Because they write about the wrong things.
You can’t write a billion words praising your own products and expect people to take you seriously. Blogging isn’t about directly promoting your own products or business.
It’s about solving the problems of your ideal customers and offering them free actionable advice.
Here’s a really good example of a conventional business, a medical supplies company to be exact, using its blog the right way.
Image Source: Vive Health
Instead of writing about their products, they’re blogging about the problems of their ideal customers and offering free solutions in their content.
If this piece of content helps a blood pressure patient find relief, guess the first company they’ll contact when they need medical supplies or instruments?
That’s how you win people with great content.
3. Win the trust of your readers with social proof
You land on the blog of a digital marketing consultant and the first thing you notice of their blog is the “Featured In” section that mentions names like HubSpot, MarketingProfs, Search Engine Journal and Moz.
What’s your first impression?
Must be an expert, right?
That’s what social proof does to your blog visitors.
Even if they’ve never heard your name before, a testimonial from a leading industry figure or a publication will force them to take you seriously. They’d assume you’re an expert and give your content much more respect.
You’ll find this strategy in action on almost every influencer’s blog (including Jeff).
If you look closely, however, you’ll notice another subtle social proof used on Jeff’s blog
16 million readers! What else does a stranger need to take him seriously?
There are several ways to get your name on other authority sites.
The most common, and the most effective one, is guest blogging. Simply identify the top blogs in your niche, study their content style, create an epic blog post and offer it to your target blogs for free.
Easy, right? Not really.
Top-tier blogs receive hundreds of guest post pitches every single day, but they accept only the best ones. So to make it through to their editorial calendar, you need to create a high quality article – which of course requires a lot of time and effort.
An alternate approach is to connect with influential bloggers who are already writing for these authority sites and ask them to feature you in their articles. You can do this on platforms like Get Reviewed, which connects advertisers with influential bloggers.
4. Create more infographics and video content to differentiate yourself
More than 2 million blog posts are published on the web every day.
You’re not competing with all of them, of course, but that still gives you an idea of the amount of content, mostly useless, being published on the web.
So even if your blog post has lots of value, a random visitor might never read that far to find the hidden gems in your content.
Which is why you need to use more visual content to get noticed and get your message across quicker.
Research shows that content with visual gets almost 95% more views.
Infographics and videos, however, are two visual content forms that not only receive the highest engagement but also go viral more frequently than plain text based posts. However, creating viral infographics and videos is a science that involves lots of different factors. Thankfully, though, with so many free design tools like Canva, Visme etc. creating a high quality infographic isn’t very difficult.
The same, however, can’t be said about video content which still requires significantly more time, budget and effort.
But even if you don’t have a large budget, even simple smartphone videos are good enough as long as you have something valuable to say.
In short, visual content could immediately put you ahead of your competitors and help you make a stronger impression on your audience.
5. Grow your own Facebook Group to create brand advocates
Ever since Facebook changed its algorithms and limited the organic reach of Facebook Pages, marketers have started focusing more on starting and growing their own Facebook Groups.
According to the recently released Facebook community updates, more than 1 billion people are now using Facebook Groups every month.
This approach has several advantages.
- You can create a Facebook group and use it to position yourself as an expert.
- You have complete control over the content and discussions in the group.
- There’s no limit on the organic reach of your posts – all group members see them.
- You get a much better opportunity to directly engage with your readers, answer their questions and convert them into loyal followers.
But above all, a Facebook Group is a great place to build a tribe of raving fans for your brand. They’re the brand advocates who will spread the word about your content and bring in more people to your Facebook Group and blog.
According to research, more than 82% of Americans seek recommendations from friends and family when making a purchase, making referrals and word of mouth one of the most influential forms of marketing.
The referral traffic generated from your Facebook Group already considers you an expert so there’s a much higher probability of them taking action after reading your blog content.
You should also make a conscious effort to promote your Facebook Group on your blog. This will allow you to route the visitors coming from search engines to your group and engage them more regularly.
And, of course, a thriving Facebook Group adds to the social proof of your brand (which I mentioned earlier in the post).
Managing a Facebook Group requires time and effort so you’d need to use different social media automation tools to minimize manual work as much as possible.
With so many new blogs popping up on the web every day, your target users are already overwhelmed with the content that’s being thrown at them from every angle.
To stand any chance of catching their eyeballs, you need to convert your blog into a strong brand that not only contains supreme quality content, but also looks pleasing to the eye and is backed by tons of social proof.
That’s the only way to stand out in this overcrowded blogosphere.