Stories have been the primary tool for connecting people and sharing ideas for thousands of years. And if you want to develop deeper connections with your customers (existing and potential), then brand storytelling is a marketing strategy you’ll want to master.
Storytelling has been a big part of my journey both as a blogger/author and a business owner. So you can imagine my excitement when #SEMrushchat, a weekly Twitter chat with some of the best minds in digital marketing, picked this as a discussion topic.
#SEMrushChat is live TODAY 📣 This time we will be discussing the power of storytelling as a marketing tool with our special guest @iSocialFanz 🔥
I’m not going to share every Tweet from that conversation, but I thought the conversation was worth sharing here. Here are the questions, my responses, and the SEMrush question recap posts that include details from other people’s responses.
Q1. Why is storytelling important for business?
A1. Stories are what connect us.
We identify with each other and our ideas when we process that through stories.
Step away from marketing strategy for a moment. Stories have been used to communicate and carry on ideas for thousands of years. Hearing a story gives you a greater opportunity to connect emotionally. It also makes the idea easier to remember and communicate. We still tell stories written decades and centuries and millennium ago. The staying power is awesome.
Now think about how powerful it would be if you could use that in your business. Brand storytelling is all about using the power of story to connect with your customers over shared ideas and values. And that can be an incredible marketing tool!
Q1 Recap. If you want to get more attention, make an emotional connection, and stand out from the crowd, using the power of storytelling is your best bet 🌟 #SEMrushChatpic.twitter.com/xOQ31SX9w3
I love the responses that get into things like how “stories humanize brands.” So much of how small businesses do digital marketing is to blast features, benefits, and technical aspects of their products. That misses the mark. If you can get into the story you need to tell, then you’re building something people can better relate to.
Q2. Once you’ve decided to create a storytelling strategy, what are the steps you should take?
A2. The first step is to clearly define the elements of the story…
🤜 The hero (put your customer here, not yourself) 🤜 The guide (you, helping the hero through their journey) 🤜 The challenge/antagonist (the problem to overcome) 🤜 The journey/path#SEMrushchathttps://t.co/6yygkydyr6
The stories we tell can be dynamic and flexible for sharing in different ways on and offline. So the first thing you need to do is clearly define certain common elements. I often take an approach of making the customer the hero of the story, not you (the brand/business). And you can have a few different stories related to different types of customers and/or problems they encounter. So being clear on what the hero in your stories looks like helps you to have a framework for telling many different stories everywhere you want to tell them.
But this idea of not telling your story, and making the customer the focus (hero) is something others don’t always easily get…
For the most part… clients aren't as interested in YOUR story as they are in how you can help them in THEIR story.
That means flipping the story so they are the focus (the hero), and you are their "Yoda".
Self-focused stories tend to be more like bragging.#SEMrushchat
This is an idea that I’ve experienced in many of my non-profit storytelling adventures. We’ve raised large amounts of money online by inviting other people to be the hero of the story. And applying the hero/guide concept to brand storytelling is something one of my favorite writers has been teaching too. Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen (affiliate link) book is a great resource that digs much deeper into this topic.
Ok, thanks. Sometimes your own story is relevant — I'm thinking to demonstrate credibility — e.g., demonstrating how by having gone through that journey yourself you now have the skill to guide them in theirs. But I see how the story is still about them. #SEMrushChat
Point taken. In Star Wars (the original trilogy), Luke Skywalker is the hero. And with brand storytelling, that’s where we want our customers to be. It’s all about their journey. Then there’s Yoda, the guide. And that’s where you want your business to be. It’s not that Yoda’s story doesn’t matter, but it’s not his journey, and he’s not the hero of that story. In fact, the more we learn about Yoda’s backstory, the more helpful it is to understand his role in Luke Skywalker’s journey. So I’m not saying ignore yourself. Just position yourself properly within the story.
One of the biggest things I see from others in this part of the conversation is the importance of planning your content. And that’s definitely a big factor with any marketing strategy. The stories we develop can be used in various ways across many platforms. Take the time to develop it well, and plan how you are going to use it in different places. Then let it guide how you share everything. Even when you’re curating content from other sources on your social media profiles, ask yourself how it supports the stories you’re telling.
Q3. What are the essential questions to begin gathering your own stories?
A3. Some of the core questions should be:
🤜 What problem/obstacle did you overcome? 🤜 What tools/people/concepts helped you overcome it? 🤜 What does/did the end result (victory) look like? 🤜 How will other people find themselves in similar situations?#SEMrushchathttps://t.co/tyNsxrRo6M
For me, the biggest questions are around the elements of the story. These elements can help you draw strong connections between the stories you have in your back pocket, and communicating what a particular customer needs to hear. It’s important to have a library of stories that you can tell. Not every one of them is going to match the journey another new customer is on. So spend the time thinking about all of the problems/obstacles you encounter, so that you can have one of those stories ready for the next person who needs to hear it.
And I love seeing responses talking about things like values. As a business owner myself, my values are part of the reason my customers like me. The core products themselves can maybe be purchased elsewhere. But not everyone has the same values I do. And that kind of thing can be a big deciding factor for potential customers.
Q4. What are the possible forms of storytelling available for any business?
Not only can the stories be told across various platforms, but how you tell them can vary too. And it should also be the filter for anything else you do, whether you’re “telling the story” or not. Think of your company’s Facebook page timeline. Look over the posts for the last couple of months like you’re reading a book. What story does it tell?
And I totally agree with the idea that everyone learns and engages differently. Too many businesses use the same exact post shared on multiple social media platforms. Take the time to evaluate and customize the messaging for each platform. It’s a little more work, but the payoff is huge.
Q5. What resources on marketing storytelling would you recommend to go deeper into that topic?
Basically, I believe it’s important to be a student of the subject in order to be an effective marketer. One practice for that is to read good stories (and watch movies with good stories). This is also where books like Invisible Ink, Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View, and On Writing (affiliate links) have proven to be valuable resources for making me a better marketer.
The other resources mentioned here are all fantastic. I’ve already seen several of these and can attest to how valuable they are. And the others just got added to my list of things to study on the topic.
Final Thoughts on Brand Storytelling
One important takeaway I got from this #SEMrushchat session was that brand storytelling is something that needs to be strategic and well thought out. It’s not good enough to scribble a few ideas on a napkin, make a quick YouTube video about yourself, drop on your website, and call it a day.
Spend some time thinking through what your brand stories should accomplish, craft them well, and let them take on their own life… everywhere. Putting in the effort will get results if done consistently over time.
Most of the small businesses we work with don’t have huge marketing budgets, so they need affordable local SEO services. But navigating the complex landscape of search engine optimization for small local businesses isn’t easy.
Either the strategies are too confusing, or the budget required to get results is (way) too high. Or both.
That’s usually a recipe for a hopeless business owner/manager. Many who find themselves in this spot either:
Walk away and give up on the idea of ever ranking a website on search engines
Invest in cheap (and very questionable) tactics that ultimately can get them penalized
Getting on the first page of Google too often feels like a pipe-dream. Especially for people in ultra-competitive markets.
And that’s where we were with one real estate agent (in Florida). The thought of getting on page one of search results organically seemed out of the question. As a result, the client dished a lot of money into some very expensive Google Ads.
The problem with ads is that the second you stop paying for them, they go away. So we wanted to build some natural rankings that would stay there.
The good news?
We stayed focused, with a limited budget, on some key SEO strategies that ended up driving some pretty nice results.
That was an ultra-competitive market with tons of hardcore competition. So if we can see these kinds of results there, then it’s absolutely possible to do it on other niches as well.
Let’s take a look at what happened…
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IMPACT OF LOCAL SEO SERVICES THAT GET YOU ON PAGE ONE
If you can get onto page one of the search results, then that can drive a significant amount of traffic. And those are potential customers who are actively looking for what you have to offer!
Better than that, if you could get into one of the top three positions, then that’s even better! Studies have shown that approximately 62% of search engine traffic goes to websites ranked in the first three positions (33% to position one, 18% to position two, and 11% to position three).
Our studies have also shown that the quality of traffic coming from organic (non-paid ad) search results is typically higher quality (more time on site, lower bounce rates, etc) than traffic coming from the paid ads.
Basically, not all traffic is equal.
And generally speaking, higher quality traffic is more likely to convert into a lead or customer (considering your website is built to optimize for conversions).
Local SEO has some unique factors as well. It’s not just about targeting keywords. You also need to drill down to geographic locations. You can’t just add keywords like “[your niche] near me” on your web pages and expect it to flood in the traffic who are looking for you.
And that’s where most business owners stumble.
Getting the right mix of the right tactics is important. Oh, and without breaking the budget, pretty please.
WORKING IN A HIGHLY-COMPETITIVE NICHE
As we worked out the strategy with this client, generating leads was the single most important desired result. Part of the downside of a great SEO strategy is that it just doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build the reputation on search engines required to get and stay on page one.
Truth be told, they didn’t have time to wait for the organic rankings to come.
So they made a large monthly investment ($2,000/mo+) in Google AdWords. The results weren’t always fantastic. But they were results. Enough to justify the investment.
We just wanted better rankings and higher-quality leads.
That meant that we needed to establish a high level of local credibility online.
Being a real estate agent in Florida is a tough market too. There are literally thousands of them in the local area, and every one wants their website to rank on page one. Standing out in a market like that is certainly a high order!
Building Authority and Momentum in a Competitive Niche
The initial baseline report at the end of December showed a very low volume of total keywords, especially those on the first page. Just one term ranked on the first page, and there were only six total keywords on the first three pages. And while there were other terms ranking on pages 4-10, the overall volume was still pretty insignificant.
The September report (nine full months later) showed a very different picture. We increased the number of keywords ranking pretty significantly:
Page 1 results increased from 1 to 10 (a 900% increase)
Pages 1-3 results increased from 6 to 82 (a 1267% increase)
Pages 1-10 results increased from 81 to 505 (a 523% increase)
While the total volume of terms appearing on the first page of search results still isn’t overwhelming, this definitely shows a trend of increasing opportunities to get found. Those 72 keyword results on pages 2 and 3 are great low-hanging fruit, ripe for boosting onto the first page!
The momentum was building. And even with just a few keywords ranking on page one (for some pretty high volume search terms), we started seeing some of those leads flowing in.
The best part is that the approach consisted of some simple and affordable local SEO services.
TWO Affordable LOCAL SEO SERVICES THAT GOT US THE RESULTS
We focused on what I considered two “must-have” tactics that I believe every small business should be doing. This helped us keep the budget as low as possible, but still gave us some on-site and off-site pieces that drove the results we were going for.
Every month we would produce two strategically-developed SEO blog posts. We would do one 500-word post ($97) and one 1,000-word post ($173). These helped us develop the keyword breadth on the website itself.
After running a full citation audit, we would add/update ten online business directories (i.e., Yelp, BBB, Thumbtack, etc), ten geotagged photos, and ten social profile links every month ($197).
So for less than $500/mo we were building links and developing a core of content on the website with a focus on high-value, local search terms. We did this consistently, month after month, without fail. And consistency is one of the keys to building momentum with search engine results.
Element #1: Blogging for Local SEO Results
Blogging is one of the best ways to create some keyword authority on your website, but few know how to do it effectively. A few key elements to making this work well are:
Start with keyword research. It’s important to look for current trends in the user’s search behavior. And you’ll want to focus on terms that provide a good combination of higher search volume and lower competitive density.
Build on competitive content research. Once you have your target keyword, then you’ll want to evaluate other similar content out there to see what’s getting others ranking for similar terms.
Write for the users, not for search engines. Crafting good, useful content is what search engines want. Think about building a great resource that helps people, and it’ll pay off with the search engines too.
In this example (above), we targeted “selling waterfront property” to attract the kinds of potential sellers the agent wanted to get listings from.
As you build a library of useful content like this on your website, you’ll be creating more entry points for visitors to come through.
Element #2: Local Citation Link-Building
Links are what drives the Internet. And a good link-portfolio for any website will feature a variety of types of links from several different places.
Generally, things like guest-post links and contextual links can help you build a strong based of keyword-focused links. And that’s a great thing! But when the budget is limited, then you’ll need to focus on the stuff that drives the biggest geographic impact possible.
That’s where local citation link building comes in. With this strategy, there are three things we focus on to build the local push we want:
Local and business directories. The biggest of these you’ve likely heard of is Yelp. And there are thousands of others that exist and can have listings for your business. The trick here isn’t thinking about the traffic that they may (or may not) drive. But the location-based links back to your website from (generally) high-authority websites is a big deal.
Geo-tagged photo posting. Adding images with geo-location factors on image websites is another tactic that creates location-based links, signaling areas you want to show up in for searches.
Social profile posts. This is a little bit different than just your standard Facebook or Twitter posting. But there are similar sites where profiles and links can be created to provide an additional layer of references.
The result is a regularly growing and diverse set of links with a geo-focus. It’s not as strong with the keyword factors, but it’s great for the location factors.
Do this, along with a strong Google My Business profile, and you’ll be setting up all of the right signals for search engines to know where you’re at.
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Implementing Affordable Local SEO Services
Your local business doesn’t need to suffer in obscurity! Getting found in a local search isn’t that difficult if you’re doing the right things. But consistency is the key. Results won’t happen overnight with just one or two months of trying these strategies.
And depending on how competitive your niche is, you might be able to get away with a smaller budget (for less competitive niches than Florida real estate agents). You could also see better results faster. Regardless, the bottom line is that we’ve seen this strategy work over and over with lots of clients.
The key is to stick with it, follow the data, and keep building based on what the data is telling you.
With a strategy like this, you’ll build strong rankings that will drive substantial traffic to your website. And that traffic is likely to be more highly qualified and motivated to connect with you.
If you have any questions about how a plan like this might work for you, or just need a little coaching along the way to make sure you’re doing it right, then grab some time for a quick chat. We’re always happy to help!
If so, you’ve got a lot of competition. Currently, there are over 30 million small businesses, some of which are in direct competition with you. And 57% of marketers say they’ve gained new customers through their company’s blog.
If you’re just starting out with content marketing (our fancy term for business blogging), you may see a long road ahead of you. You may even ask yourself if you, or your team, actually have the time to invest in creating fantastic posts that make people want to read what you have to say.
Or what if you have the time to create amazing blog posts, but you don’t have any readers to read it? The age-old question of “if a tree falls in the woods and there’s no one to hear it, does it make a sound” applies to your blog. That is, if you write professional copy with amazing photos and great information, but there’s no one to read it, does the blog exist at all?
This is where content syndication comes in. It can help you build your blog from the ground up, chock-full of information people are looking for, without spending your valuable time creating it. And if you’re creating content, then this will get your work in front of more people, quickly.
What Is Syndication?
If you grew up during the era before streaming services almost completely replaced television, you may be familiar with the term syndication. This is where television shows sell their rights to a variety of channels to allow their show to play in syndication. Often times, shows that played in syndication were those that had been off the air for a decade or longer.
However, talk shows are often still played in syndication as they are sold to several local channels to play during the day.
Newspapers also use this tactic to help get their content read. For example, your local newspaper may have a column from someone who works across the country. That’s because that person’s column is run in syndication across a variety of newspapers.
In essence, syndicated content is very similar in that your blog content will run across several websites.
How Does Content Syndication Work?
Content syndication works similarly to newspaper and television syndication. It works in two ways. First, you can publish articles that other people have written, stating that the content was first published on another site.
Most people, however, use content syndication the other way in order to get more clicks to their site. If you’re a blog for your business, you’ll want to syndicate your content with a variety of larger websites. The links back to your site not only create opportunities for clicks, but the links alone carry a great deal of search engine optimization value for you.
You’ve probably read an article on a website and scrolled to the bottom and seen something along the lines of “This article was originally published by” and then the name of the magazine or blog. The media companies, or the individuals, have entered into a deal to allow their content to run in syndication.
This allows a maximum viewership, which is a mutually beneficial relationship if done correctly.
How Does Content Syndication Help a Small Business Blog?
Content syndication works extremely well for a small business. You can choose to syndicate content with smaller websites and businesses, but it won’t earn you much traffic.
Instead, if you syndicate content with a larger website, preferably one that pulls in hundreds of thousands of views per month, you’ll get more eyes on your blog or business.
You can’t be positive that people will go to your site, but you will have a byline on a larger site, and if you’re advertising your product or service, it immediately gets advertised to a larger audience.
But in order for content syndication to work, you need to do it well. It isn’t enough to syndicate with a website or blog that has a larger audience. Ideally, you’ll need to syndicate with one that is in your niche.
For example, if you’re a business that is centered around teenage and young adult clothing and trends, it wouldn’t serve you well to syndicate with a site targeted to adults age 35-55. While you may get lots of eyeballs on your content, they’re not the right eyeballs.
The right eyeballs would, of course, be a high traffic site for young adults and teens.
How Do I Start Syndicating My Content or Accepting Syndicated Content?
If you’re keen to accept syndicated content, you may wish to let others know your site accepts guest posts or syndication.
But getting your posts to syndicate with high traffic sites can be the most challenging part (unless you know someone who rocks it). Most people do this by writing fabulous copy and then pitching it to the magazine or website.
This can be a difficult and tedious task, and you may hear scores of no’s before you finally get one yes. However, hitting the proverbial pavement is one way to score a deal.
What If I Don’t Have Time to Pitch My Content?
If you’re just starting a business, you may be working two jobs at once or working around the clock to stay afloat. Sitting down and pitching your content to sites across the Internet may seem overwhelming and even frustrating. That’s totally fair.
And that’s where Fistbump Media comes in. In addition to the SEO services we already offer to help your site rank high in searches, you can try our team of amazing content writers for your company’s blog, and we have existing relationships for syndicating your content to a bunch of high-authority websites.
If so, you’re taking a major step in the right direction. The digital marketing software sphere alone will skyrocket to $105.28 billion by 2028, signaling that more business leaders than ever before plan to invest in the tools and technologies required to put their company top of mind.
Today, we’re taking a look at the importance of digital marketing from a competitive and performance standpoint to grow your business. Why does it matter and what does it mean for the future of your enterprise?
Let’s get started!
Boosting Your Online Visibility
In the past, the only way to drive traffic to your store was to create physical signage. You’d spend the money, do the work, and hope that passersby would notice and direct their foot traffic your way.
Now, both e-commerce retailers and brick-and-mortar retailers alike are turning to the internet to deliver outreach messages right to the customers they need.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, online sales outpaced general merchandise stores for the first time this year. What’s driving this shift in market share?
Today’s buyers are hopping online to buy everything from their weekly groceries to their Friday night movie rental. In fact, even if they’re determined to buy an item in-store, 82% will still conduct online research, first!
Simply put, having an active internet presence is necessary to survive in today’s competitive business market. If you bring all of your core functions, including your marketing campaigns, into the digital sphere, the number of eyes you can get on your content jumps from your local patrons to a global online community.
Create Customer Connections
Did you know that 70% of shoppers who feel a connection to your brand will spend twice as much on your business? One of the major digital marketing benefits is that it allows you to create personal connections with your online followers.
This is especially true if your digital marketing efforts stretch across the major social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Here, you can share blog posts, advertise upcoming promotions and product releases, and spark conversations with your target audience.
Another benefit of staying active on these channels?
They give you a direct link to the opinions and preferences of the buyers your business wants. When you connect in this way, you establish an organic and natural connection that feels more authentic than gimmicky sales tactics.
As only 52% of consumers around the globe trust businesses, these genuine networking opportunities are gold.
Establish Thought Leadership
Want to boost your brand credibility, grow your online following and improve your bottom line? In today’s competitive marketplace, this kind of growth requires thought leadership.
You might be the best in your industry niche, with state-of-the-art products, services, and ideas. However, unless you’re sharing this knowledge with the people who need to hear it, your efforts could fall flat.
This is where digital marketing comes in.
The top way to establish your company as a thought leader in its space is to create digital content that meets the following criteria:
Regardless of your sector, you have something valuable and new to bring to the conversation, so it’s time to say it!
Create a blog, record a podcast, write an e-book or develop an entire online course around the knowledge that you want to share. Some material, such as blogs, can be free while you might charge customers a fee to download longer-form content.
Appeal to Mobile Users
An effective digital marketing strategy incorporates website optimization tactics to ensure that all content looks as great on a smartphone as it does on a laptop. When you take into account load time, typography, image size, touchability and more, you can help deliver a seamless user experience across any device.
Research shows that 72% of people will access the internet using only their smartphone by 2025. If your marketing collateral is responsive, quick to load, and visually dynamic across any screen, you’ll capture their attention, even when they’re on-the-go.
Create a Brand Presence
Digital marketing allows you to carve out your own corner of the internet. For your brand, this means that you can create cohesive touchpoints all around the web that tie your story together. At the same time, you also offer your customers the opportunity to add their own pages to the tale.
From your social media accounts and blog posts to your virtual checkouts and web pages, every online element can tie back to your brand, showcasing your logo, font, verbiage, and more.
In this way, you can create a memorable, unified brand image that’s critical for customer recall. Then, when someone uses your service or buys your product, they can hop online and tell others about it.
From the glowing reviews to the negative ones, all kinds of client feedback can help fuel your business forward. Studies show that 84% of people actually trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family members, so it’s important to give your audience a voice. This is free advertising you couldn’t get without the power of digital marketing.
Leverage SEO to Improve Rank
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a major facet of digital marketing. In short, this is the collection of tools and best practices that help your website rank as high as possible on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
In years past, adding a couple of keywords to your site was the extent of a successful SEO strategy. Now, however, SEO requirements are more complex than ever before, and forward-thinking companies require sophisticated tools and technologies to keep them on track.
While valuable content and keywords are still relevant, a modern SEO strategy takes into account other factors, including:
Your audience and industry
Reporting and analytics
Knowledge of SEO can make a major difference in the success of your digital marketing efforts. This is why it pays to partner with an SEO expert who can show you where your website currently stands and help you get it where it needs to be.
Expand Through E-mail Marketing
In a world of flashier and more tech-savvy measures, e-mail marketing still holds incredible power. However, sticking with the old method of blasting your latest blog post to your list of subscribers won’t cut it anymore.
Advanced digital marketing platforms allow you to customize this outreach approach to improve conversion rates and draw more traffic to your site. Some strategies you can implement include:
Personalizing your messages
Segmenting your subscribers
Sending mobile-friendly emails
Testing copy, buttons, and designs
Email subscriber management tools and services can help you transition from your current email marketing system onto a more effective and modern platform, such as MailChimp, without interrupting your subscribers.
Analyze Your Campaign Efforts
Do you want to measure how successful your last marketing campaign was? Do you need metrics to track and patterns to analyze so you can make sure your next one is the most effective yet? Paper-based modeling methods are antiquated and limited in scope, which can hinder and stall decision-making efforts.
Digital marketing software, on the other hand, allows you a valuable and in-depth look at key performance metrics.
Regardless of whether you’re running an email marketing campaign, analyzing website visits, measuring site traffic or tracking customer service response times, you need insight into the numbers that matter. And, it’s smart to have these numbers as soon as possible. This way, you can take action before your cart abandonment rates skyrocket or your SERP position dips.
Leverage the Power and Importance of Digital Marketing To Grow Your Business
You’ve put the hours into growing your business, developing your projects and fine-tuning your management approach. Now, it’s time to make sure everyone else knows your name.
Traditional marketing strategies that worked years ago could render your company irrelevant or even obsolete today. That’s why you can’t overlook or overemphasize the importance of digital marketing to grow your business. From email marketing lists to SEO strategies and social media campaigns, there is no limit to the steps you can implement.
Want a little help as you unroll your new outreach plan? That’s where we come in.
We’re experts in this space, with years of experience helping clients make the most of their media strategies. From website development and email subscriber management to social media analysis and publishing services, we do it all.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business grow. In the meantime, check out our free e-book on marketing strategies for business success!
A woman approached me as I was preparing for my lessons for the day. I was in Kairi, a rural village in Kenya, teaching some basic business skills classes to members of a microfinance group.
She introduced herself as Alice.
In our class the day before, I taught a lesson on managing money in a small business. I used a fictional business owner named Alice to illustrate the importance of keeping business money and personal money separate.
Alice was her real name, and she told me that today she is a “new Alice” after my lesson. She continued, “No more will I be the old Alice who is not wise with her money!”
And that’s why I’ve made it an initiative of ours to support microfinance projects this year. Our goal is to help provide opportunities for small business owners, especially in underserved areas.
We’re working through Kiva, a top-rated charity who bridges the gap between people and entrepreneurs around the world. Kiva’s mission is “to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.”
After six months of working on this project, this is our first Kiva Impact Report.
Empowering Entrepreneurs Globally
The best thing about microfinance is that it isn’t about donating free money to people. These are small loans designed to enable an entrepreneur to grow their business. This allows small business owners to not only provide for their families, but many of them also create jobs in their communities.
In our efforts this year, we’ve supported microloans for people like:
Osterman in Columbia (pictured above) – As a farmer, he used the loan to hire local laborers to help him build drainage canals for better irrigation for his crops. His loan is currently 13% repaid.
Shoyra in Tajikistan (below, left) – Her loan was used to buy a sewing machine and start a new business sewing women’s clothing. Her loan is currently 21% repaid.
Wilmer in Ecuador (below, right) – He owns a taxi, and his loan helped him do maintenance and change the tires on his taxi. He also got additional business training to go with the loan. His loan is already 73% repaid.
Each of these entrepreneurs has dreams, not unlike my own, to grow a business so they can better support their families. Many are working to improve their homes and pay for education for their children (something often taken for granted in a country where we have free public education).
Every one of these microloans gets them one step closer to fulfilling their goals and dreams.
Using Kiva as a Tool To Support Microfinance
The best way I can describe what Kiva does is that it’s kind of like a Kickstarter for microloans to entrepreneurs in poverty-stricken areas around the world. (Kiva is actually older, but I know the reference would make sense.)
Their website allows you to search for borrowers by region, business sector, and/or other attributes you may want to target.
Each borrower has a profile page telling you about the loan, the story of the borrower, why the loan is special, and several other details. A loan can be for any amount, and lenders can chip in for as little as $25.
The idea is that many of us can throw in what we can to fund that entrepreneur. Together we fund the loan, and repayments are distributed back to each of us when the borrower makes their payments each month.
When that money is repaid, we can then turn it around and lend it to another entrepreneur. That means $100 initial investment can end up having a far greater impact over time as it continues to get reinvested.
Business Supporting Business
At the beginning of 2019, we started allocating $100 from each new qualified small business client who started working with us towards a microloan. So for each business client starting a new website development project or using us for our ongoing SEO services, we would make the contribution toward a business through Kiva.
As a growing business, our heart is to leverage some of our profits to support other growing businesses around the world.
Once we’ve selected an entrepreneur to fund through Kiva, we also notify the new client about what we’ve done in honor of them. Some have also joined our team on Kiva to further support a borrower (the same one, or another one they find on their own).
Focus on Poverty-Stricken Areas
While there is need everywhere, our focus so far has been on places where the communities are under-served, families are often displaced, and where poverty means that there simply isn’t an opportunity to provide the basics.
So far this year, out of 12 loans funded by Team Fistbump, all 12 are in different countries across South/Central America, Africa, and Asia.
While we may fund additional loans in countries we’ve already supported, our goal is to spread the love as much as we can around the world.
The Importance of Social Responsibility (and Gratitude)
There are two main reasons this is an important initiative for us this year, social responsibility and gratitude.
First, we’re driven by a desire to care for our fellow human being. This desire is rooted in our faith in God, and the Bible’s call for us to help those who have a need. As I’ve been out on missions trips around the world, I see lots of need.
So we’re using what we have to help others… not with a handout, but a hand-up.
Second, it’s about gratitude. As the founder of Fistbump Media, I’ve directly experienced what running a small business can do to provide for my family. I have a great deal of respect for others around the world who are chasing their dreams with a desire to provide well for their families.
And we’re grateful to all of the clients who have been there for us. So this is one way we can say thank you and pay forward what we’ve been given.
Our Kiva Impact Report for the First Half of 2019
In the first six months of 2019, we’ve added 8 new small business clients who have met the qualifying threshold. So that’s $800 that we’ve invested into loans so far.
With a few other small loans from team members and clients, plus a little repayment money reinvested in new loans, our total impact is $1,000 worth of microloans.
We expect the impact to grow more rapidly through the rest of the year as we continue to reinvest repayments and bring on more new small business clients. Additionally, we’d love to invite you to join the team and help us help even more people…
Final Thoughts (and an Invitation)
The impact so far has been exciting to watch! I look forward to every opportunity I get to send over another $100, or reinvest repayments from existing loans. It reminds me of conversations I’ve had with business owners on some of my missions trips when they share what kind of impact the loans have for them. It’s life-changing.
And while we’ll continue to invest as the opportunities arise, you can join us in this work too! It’s super easy…
Blogging is just writing some stuff, right? Wrong. Blogging is the foundation of a great content strategy. And with it being THAT (yes, THAT) important, getting the blog layout right is crucial. The layout can be the deciding factor for a reader to take your B2C (or B2B) relationship to the next level.
Your business may not be your blog, but your blog is definitely your business. So you’ll want to make sure that your posts are sending the right message, and fulfilling their purpose.
In this article, we’ll break down four major components of a successful blog layout that will catch attention, guide the reader’s eye, create an effortless read, and have a lasting benefit to both parties. The four components are:
Summary and CTA (call-to-action)
1 – Headline
Your title is your first impression. In fact, it may be the most important part of the blog layout. Will they or won’t they continue further?
You want your title to be eye-catching and informative. CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer quantifies that by looking at word balance, scannability, and sentiment.
CoSchedule suggests that the word balance should fall into these four categories:
Common words – These should account for 20-30% of your headline and are the building blocks of your title.
Uncommon words – These are the words that create the substance in your title, and should only take up 10-20%. They are extremely important for content.
Emotional words – 10-15% of your words should create an emotional response, this increases CTR (click-thru rate).
Power words – These words are the cherry on top. They show readers can trust you and prompts them to take action.
CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer also rates scannability by taking length, first and last words, keywords and even gives you a web search preview. These can be great tools to help you see what your reader will see and adjust accordingly.
2 – Images
How can you use imagery to lock the reader’s eyes and keep them scrolling? There are a few ways to do this:
Use an infographic. Users are looking for information, why not give them a little snippet of your topic and dive deeper “below the fold” in the blog/article?
People. People can create an emotional connection and give a headstart on how your post is going to make you feel. People will also be drawn to where the eyes are looking in the picture so make sure you have something important in their eye line.
Show them how it’s done. Insert a screenshot of the actionable step you are looking for. If they see how it is done or how easy it is they will be more likely to do it themselves.
You want to make sure your images are strategic so stay away from random pictures of inanimate objects and use visuals that will inform them, create an emotional connection, and bring their eyes to your main points. Just be careful, use images that are approved for public use. ProBlogger has some great guidance on how to find and use images legally.
3 – Body
How many times have you gone to an article and skimmed just to find the information you need and left because you just saw a wall of words? Probably a lot, and your readers are no different. Let’s look at two helpful elements for the body of your blog layout:
TLDR; (too long, didn’t read)
From your subtitle to your images, there are a few ways to use this to your advantage.
Your subtitle should be a one to two sentence summary of your post.
Under your image, you can bullet point your main points so they know what they will find before they scroll.
Bold headlines and important sentences to create clean and concise readability.
Add some pattern interrupt to the page with larger type and an option to share.
Summarize the article with your call to action so even if they don’t read the whole article they will opt-in to learn more.
We discussed images and how they can draw the reader in your blog layout. These next visual elements keep the eyes moving down the page smoothly to increase session duration and engagement.
Bolding elements like headlines, bullets, and keywords can neatly break up text and help you reiterate the importance of the text.
Bullets segment individual ideas so the “skimmers” know where to stop and find information vs. seeing a wall of text and bouncing.
White Space is crucial for readability. I am going to be really cliche here, but less really is more with this one. By that, I mean less hustle and bustle going on as you scroll will benefit you more than trying to fit every bit of information to fill spaces on the page. Just don’t go too hard on the white space or your page will look incomplete.
4 – Summary and CTA
If you laid it all out in the beginning and your formatting is well done, you shouldn’t need a summary because they will have already gotten what they needed from your article throughout.
What you do want is a quick call to action whether you want to get them excited to see you in their inbox, or follow you on social, you want to make it clear, concise, and easy to do.
Limit your social icons to three, send them over to your site via a link to increase your referral traffic, or get them to opt-in to your emails. You can use these call to actions to increase different metrics but that is a whole different topic!
Final Thoughts on Blog Layout
The most important thing to think about when putting together your blog post is the reader experience. And that means thinking about the structure, and not just the words on the page. Providing a great user experience will improve engagement levels on your site, which is exactly what you want.
With blog layout and technical structure being so important, you may also want to scan your site for any technical issues. Use our (completely) free webpage audit tool to see how well you score. This doesn’t scan the layout, but it will give you a good idea of the technical strengths and weaknesses of your page.
Now, over to you… what are some of the best practices you’ve seen in blog posts that you read? What are some key takeaways that you can use to improve your blog layout right now?