Blogging is a powerful content platform and marketing tool used by people and businesses all over the world.
Blogging is a content technique that provides a web-based resource for fans, followers and curious browsers to satisfy a wide-range of curiosities. Highly successful blogs are often very niche. The possibilities with blogging are endless. They can cover anything from cute-cat photo roundups, to movie reviews, to advanced air condition repair. Blogs allow a lot of freedom for creators to get their message across.
Blogging for your business presents a unique opportunity to speak directly with your customers and future customers, as an expert in your industry and an educator. When done well, blog content can be a major source of traffic to your website, the cornerstone of your social media strategy and email campaigns while also helping heat up cold leads. But how do you blog and how do you do it well?
Here are six steps to take your business’ blog from non-existent to top-notch:
Should I be blogging?
It’s almost guaranteed that your target audience spends time online. Running a blog can increase overall web traffic and the time visitors spend on your website, all the while building familiarity and trust between your brand and potential customers. However, managing a blog is no easy task. It’s important to consider the amount of time and resources required to run a consistent and engaging blog. Do you have staff with writing skills? Can you get them access to a camera or a smartphone? Do you have access to enough expertise in your field so that your blog is rich in knowledge? Do your customers have trouble understanding your product or service? Do customers frequently ask the same questions? If you answered yes to the questions above, then blogging is the opportunity for you. In order to support a content-rich and engaging marketing strategy, blogging is recommended for most businesses.
Manage, create, present
Typically, blogging is a task that falls to a communications, social media or marketing staff member. These positions make for ideal blog managers as they are often in communication with the public, managing content, social media and other marketing efforts. Depending on your website, there are a number a different ways to set up a blog. It’s usually as simple as making a new page on your website. Check with your website provider for more details on how to set up a blog. Once it’s up and running, creating a post is simple. It’s as easy as typing into a text box. Blogs should feature an engaging and accurate headline and be about 400 to 500 words long. Put in place a blog editing workflow. After the initial blog writer has finished the first draft, it should be content and copy edited by a second set of eyes. From there, a member of the management team should sign off on the blog before sending it back to the original writer to make final edits, curate the piece and supporting media for web and publish. We recommend attaching a minimum of one photo to each blog post. This will create a more aesthetically pleasing article, especially when it’s distributed and shared on social media. If you have the resources available, consider embedding a video into your blog post.
Solve a problem
Drumming up blog topics can sometimes be a tough task. A good way to approach this issue is to try to solve a potential reader’s, or customer’s, problem. Nowadays, when a person has a question or is experiencing a problem, they don’t turn to a book or an instruction manual, they turn to Google. These folks will type in their questions, coming with problems and looking for solutions. Many of their solutions can be found on blogs. If someone is looking to research possible exclusions on home insurance plans in an attempt to get their payments down, they may end up on a blog that explores some options. This same user may spend two-to-five minutes on the blog. If the article solved their problem, they will remember the brand that created the blog as helpful and trustworthy. It’s important to note that your blog shouldn’t always solve problems related to your specific product or service offer, rather problems pertaining to your broader industry. Blogs are not commercials for your company.
Get the word out
Once you’ve published a blog on your website, it’s time to distribute it. There are a number of effective channels to do so.
Social media: Depending on your following, and the blog content you’re putting out there, social media may be your most effective blog-distribution channel. When you post the link on your Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter accounts, a link window will be generated featuring an image and title of your blog. It’s crucial to have an image attached to your blog so that it will appear in the link window and invite more engagement. Images can be manually attached to Facebook link windows. If your company is on Instagram, you should know that links don’t work in captions. They will appear as plain text. A technique to get around this, is to post the image associated with the blog, explain what the blog is about in the caption below the photo and direct followers to the link in your bio. “Link in bio,” is a well-recognized phrase that will direct your followers to your Instagram profile where they will then click on the link available below your biography text. Of course, you have to change your bio link to match that of your blog post. Remember to change your bio link back to your company website after a day or two (depending on how frequently you post on Instagram). Both Facebook and Instagram have story functions. These stories can use photos or videos to tease your new blog direction people to a link or post where they can find the full blog.
Email marketing: If you have customers or future customers signing up to an email list or newsletter, you can let them know that a new blog post is live. Depending on how you manage these email lists (and what service you use), you may be able to attach your blog along with a message regarding promotions or an update from an executive. Depending on your blog posting frequency and email marketing strategy, you may not want to use the channel everytime a new post is live. It’s common practice to group blogs together with other content when sending a newsletter. As a general rule, more than one or two emails a month is too many.
Digital marketing and remarketing: Blog content can be repurposed for marketing efforts. Remarketing is the act of marketing to a group of people who have already visited your webpage. If a user spent time on your website they may be an ideal target for your blogs, where ideally they will read a little more and become a customer. This is a highly technical marketing technique. If you don’t have an employee on your staff who’s trained as a digital marketer, you may want to consider hiring a third party, like a marketing agency, to handle this kind of campaign for you. Depending on your company's size and budget, this may not be the technique for you. Building a bank of helpful blogs can also help customers in need. If someone send you a question via email, answer their question and send back a blog that addresses their query in a clear, concise fashion.
Organic and Returning visitors: When you post a blog, search engines will be able to present it to potential readers based on its relevance to what the searcher is looking for and a number of other factors. These readers would be called organic visitors. Blogs are ideal for pulling in organic visitors. Returning visitors are built up over time. If a reader finds value in a blog, they may read the next one, if they find value in that, they may become regulars. A good way to foster returning visitors is through consistency.
Consistency and growth go hand-in-hand
It’s important to establish a posting schedule. A posting schedule could be dependant on your resources. Blogging once a week or biweekly is common but any consistent schedule is 10-steps ahead of a sporadic one. Your following should know what to expect, whether it’s a post a week or once a month. A consistent schedule is also important for future content planning and social media strategy development. When readers know what to expect, they have a reason to return. The more readers you have returning, the more successful your blog.
How do you know it’s working?
When it comes to measuring the success of a blog post, you should consider both web metrics and social media metrics. If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, or an equivalent attached to your website, you should look into setting that up. There are a few web metrics that will indicate the success of your blog (these metrics are available by clicking the blog’s URL in the Behaviour Overview section of Google Analytics).
Page views will tell you how many view your blog received.
Average session duration will tell you how long the average person spent on the page.
Entrances shows you how many people visited the blog directly, without hitting any of your website’s pages in advance.
% Exit shows you the percentage of visitors that leave your website from a particular page. A high percentage could mean people aren’t sticking around to read any more content or explore the website. Consider this metric in conjunction with the Entrances metric.
Check out the Acquisition Overview to see where visitors are coming from when they land on your page. When you distribute the blog via social media, take note of how many likes, shares and impressions the post received. This could indicate the type of content your fans would like to see and help measure the success of the blog.
Building an audience for your blogs will take time. It’s beneficial to experiment with the type of content you put out there while still staying true to your brand. Be sure to keep an eye on the metrics. If a post is receiving a lot of traffic or engagement, you’re on the right track.
With a constant value-packed and engaging blogging strategy you’ll be able to build trust with your website visitors, keep customers happy and educated while helping convert cold leads into warm ones. When viewers see your business as a helpful industry expert, they’ll be thinking of you first when their service needs arise.
Becci Taylor, BBA Marketing and Program Coordinator