In September of 2010 I made a decision that turned out to become the most profitable decision I have made for my company. When I made this decision, I didn’t have any idea it would turn out the way it did. I would like to share with you what my decision was, what I attribute the success to, and what I have done to provide others with the ability to make a similar decision and follow my same path of profitability.
I am someone who loves to talk and write about things I know a thing or two about! I like to think I can contribute value to conversations with others who have the need to learn about something that can ultimately assist them in some way in gaining ground or moving forward. I (and you!) can do this both online and offline. My professional background is in marketing and journalism. (In case you're wondering your expertise doesn't have to be the same as mine to follow in the same path!) In 2010, I was invited to write a consumer column for Examiner.com.
At first, I thought I was already too busy with my work and wasn’t sure that I could fulfill the expectations needed to sustain an ongoing column. I initially declined. I started thinking about what I had just done and re-thought the decision. I changed my mind and took it on. In case you're thinking, "This won't apply to me. I am not a writer or I don't even like to write," keep reading. Being a writer or liking to write is not a requirement here at all!
After making a commitment to the column, I wrote a total of 52 articles between September 2010 and July 2016 when Examiner.com took down their website. I averaged a little over an article a month. All the content I published fulfilled a common theme of being consumer related, as I had promised. Some of the articles I wrote addressed areas from my own expertise, and some were about other businesses and their expertise. Each piece of content addressed some sort of solution and provided some sort of educational value. The underlying goal of each piece was to provide information that could ultimately assist the reader in gaining ground or moving forward.
Here’s what happened:
- I experienced some crazy, and rather unexpected traffic to my content
- 75% of the traffic came from people searching for something in my content (people really do want to learn about all kinds of information!)
- The remaining 25% of the visitors that found my content came from my efforts in promoting the content
- The highest traffic volume to one of my articles was over 52,000 over a 3-year period
(do the math, this is awesome!)
- One of my articles surprised me with an invitation to appear on WCCO News
- Not every article produced fireworks, but enough did! Other content I contributed received a range of page views between 400 to 9300 over an average of a 2.5-year period
- I received a call from an ecstatic client who had won a one-million-dollar project because of his customer learning about him from our article
- One article featured three businesses who performed the same service. During a busy winter, calls from customers who contacted them from the article kept the phones ringing for all three companies all winter long. One of the companies copied a photo of me and inserted a halo over my head and sent it to me with a big "Thank you. You were our angel this winter!" (These are the reasons I get up in the morning and look forward to my work!)
- The number of contacts I personally received increased by 63% directly attributable to visitors who found my content
- By the summer of 2016, slightly over 50% of my new business was coming to me as a direct result of my content
This is what I attribute to my success:
- I kept focused on who I was writing to, who my audience was, and stayed true to my topic areas.
- I vowed not to throw “junk” out there. Nobody cares about junk.
- My primary objective was to educate consumers. When consumers feel smart, they will naturally take action.
- The content "spoke to" a natural consumer habit, that of researching, Googling, call it whatever you want. A huge step in consumer behavior begins with this process. Enough of my content delivered organic search results frequently enough to get in front of "want to learn" visitors. Landing on the other side of their researching conversation enabled the start of a healthy flow of future leads and ultimate customers.
- I vowed not to make my content about me. If I kept it about what the readers wanted, they would naturally realize I knew what I was talking about. That worked!
- I made it easy and friendly to contact me if someone wanted to. Not everyone does, but many did.
I was sad and disappointed when I received an email in 2016 from Examiner.com that they were going to close down their website. For a good while, the platform had provided me with a good run, as well as some others who I had the pleasure of writing about. It has been since then that I have been scouting out another platform where I could continue on my “roll.” I have not found one that meets a set of standards I feel are important to anyone who truly understands the real impacts of content online and how it relates to the actual reader experience.
I asked myself why I wasn’t satisfied with any other platforms I had been looking at. For me, it came down to reader experience. Even Examiner.com fell short of these expectations. Most online platforms are focused on ad revenue as their source of income. Consequently, their pages are busy and cluttered with ads and non-relevant information. This presentation makes it difficult for readers to cut to the chase, to easily get the information they sought, and move on without distraction or interruptions.
The other thing I finally put my finger on that seemed to bug me about some of the platforms I had tried to embrace, is that as their reader, I felt somehow that I was serving a monetary purpose for them by being there, and that, in fact, was true. Are all those re-targeted ads really about engaging me, or are they about ad revenue? You decide. I get more excited to feel like the reason I land on a web page is about me!
After searching for another platform for a year and a half and coming up short, I decided to create my own. As the owner of a 14-year old marketing company, this is actually a perfect fit!
I happen to work with many businesses who are service providers in the home improvement industry. This group of professionals have tons of knowledge and expertise well worth sharing with consumers, but have no platform opportunities where they can share and educate those who are looking for specific answers they can easily provide.
I created Answerville as my answer, and as a solution for home improvement professionals to continue “my roll” with a roll of their own. Until now, there has not been a platform where home improvement professionals could share their expertise, providing the educational value millions of homeowners and business owners are looking for every day.
Answerville's platform facilitates the same ability for home improvement pros that I had, to connect with people wanting to learn something they can help them with. No need for these pros to be writers or "journalists." All they need is the knowledge and wisdom they already innately have. Answerville can help turn that knowledge into awesome connections and opportunities.
Answerville is a place where visitors will land online when they are searching for answers to their home improvement questions. Answerville enables home improvement service professionals to land on the other side of researchers' conversations providing answers to hundreds of questions in advance. Answerville is not a forum. It is content driven. The content will connect the two and in many cases, will become the impetus to new customer relationships.
As a company that teaches other businesses about TRUST, it is a perfect crossroads to reinforce the fact that one of the most effective ways consumers begin to trust a business is when they determine that the business knows what they are talking about. Providing this kind of educational content, and staying true to your readers’ needs, is what will help many of the inquiring visitors gain the TRUST they need to turn the corner in your direction.
Most people may not realize that consumers searching online are looking for more than just an answer to a question. Most specifically, if they are in a position where they will need to hire a service provider, they are looking for three things in this order:
- An education
- Validation that a business can be trusted
- A positive experience
Answerville accommodates all three of these expectations! When these are met, it is proven that consumers will take action and will have confidence in their decisions to move forward. Answerville delivers an education. Plus, consumers will be able to discover which local companies have provided their expertise to answer their questions. Trust begins for those businesses right there. When the web page is clean and clear of clutter, when it looks great and delivers what the reader wants easily and quickly, it provides a positive experience and trust gets even stronger.
Answerville is completely ad-free. It is not dependent on ad revenue, so can operate without ads to distract the readers. In a time when consumers have little tolerance for wasting their time, eliminating time wasters like ads and re-targeted ads help keep our readers on the page longer and soaking in the information they came for.
My goal for Answerville is to be the “in the background” facilitator that connects the inquiring consumer with a suitable, reputable relevant service provider. From that online connection, moments will be created for many readers. For many, it will be the start of a customer relationship with the service provider they discovered. The idea is for the reader’s initial touch point to be awesome. It will be a reflection on the business who has provided the answers. It will be a make or break moment for the reader, so it needs to be all about the reader experience!
Check out Answerville - View Tutorial >>
- We have set it up so that answers to commonly asked home improvement questions will be posted on not one, but two websites.
- All Answerville pages are searchable, so folks trying to learn what you are sharing can find it
- Both are written with SEO magic. Both are written a little bit differently and help address two different ways a question may be asked or ultimately searched for.
- Utilizing two separate complimentary platforms allows us to deliver more answers to more people.
- All pages are promoted to our 14 year-old (and still growing) database, as well as on social media.
- All pages are tracked and shared with contributing businesses, keeping the whole process transparent.
- All pages are ad-free, no clutter, just clean, clear, beautiful pages.
- Clear credit is given to the contributing businesses for their answers and their expertise with links to their websites, reviews, easy calling and a custom contact form for estimates, quotes, or just a return call for more questions
If you are dedicated to educating your potential customer-base and gaining their trust the old-fashioned way, by earning it, contact me to learn more about how you can provide your expertise and turn your knowledge, the way I have, into excited leads and customers. You don’t have to know anything about writing. All you need is the knowledge you already have.
Help those who will need your services to feel comfortable as your customer because you have given them the power of knowledge. Contact me with questions you get asked often from your customers. Think of the information your customers have needed from you in the past that help trigger the comfort levels that seem to spur them to say “yes, let’s go ahead.” These will be your most sought after answers.
View Tutorial on Answerville!
My plan is to officially launch Answerville on March 31, 2018. Service providers who become contributors to Answerville will be able to get in for half price through February 28, 2018. After that, prices will double. I would encourage you, if you have the slightest interest in learning more to contact me to get answers of your own about how this opportunity can propel your business in the coming year. Learn more and decide if this path is a fit for you.
Want us to let you know when Answerville is officially launched? YES!
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