Blog Marketing: The Fundamental GuideBy Brock Andony
Blog marketing is the backbone of all great content marketing programs. And content marketing is one of the most effective lead generation tactics available to modern marketers. In fact, content marketing produces three times as many leads per-dollar spent when compared to other programs.
But, blog marketing is not effective in isolation. Only by pairing valuable blog assets with carefully constructed SEO, social media, and paid strategies can you be sure to generate high-value, high-intent organic leads.
The Pros and Cons of Blog Marketing
The Pros of blog marketing:
- It’s evergreen. Unlike other strategies that continually require resources and attention, blogs are basically a one time deal. Other than minor periodic updates, a single blog can bear lead-generation fruit for years.
- It’s effective. At Vendasta, the percentage of blog MQLs that have converted to SQLs is 88 percent. The result has been hundreds of closes.
- It’s a nurturing mechanism. When leads convert on longer-form content (like blogs), they’re a lot hotter than those that convert on an ad form. Blogs allow prospects to self-educate and become more well informed before they solicit a demo, sign-up, or take other action.
- It’s re-marketable. A blog is just the beginning in terms of the possibilities available to content marketers. Once it is published, a blog can be shared on social media, paired with ad strategy, posted on bookmarking sites, and republished on other sites. But we’ll get into that more below.
The Cons of blog marketing
- It’s time-consuming. Creating a blog requires much more time and effort than something like a social post. According to a survey by Orbit Media, a 1,000-word blog post takes an average of three hours and 16 minutes to complete. And longer, in-depth posts generate 9-times more lead-generation successes.
- SEO strategy dependence. Blogs are only as effective as the keyword strategy that they’re paired with. Without adequate keyword research, strong on-page optimizations, and off-page work, blog posts aren’t likely to succeed.
- They’re not all home runs. Depending on the audience you’re trying to reach, the topic you’re engaging with, and the associated keyword difficulty, blog success can vary. However, with a focussed keyword strategy and a talented team of writers, the opportunity is vast.
- It requires a medium- to large-sized team. If you truly want to achieve successes as we have seen and as other B2B companies have seen, then you’re going to need a team. It is unlikely that the lone startup marketer will not be able to achieve blog marketing success.
How to Build a Blog Marketing Strategy
1. Start with keyword research
Publishing a blog without keyword targeting is like driving a car without a steering wheel. If you want to get to destination lead generation, then keyword research is a must. The objective of blog keyword research is to identify keywords that your prospects might be using for information or product based searches, then creating conversion-driving blogs with those keywords.
Here are a few steps to get you moving in the right direction:
- Leverage a tool like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Bruce Clay’s SEOToolSet for accurate research and investigation
- Do consumer research (online research, surveying, etc) and identify customer search patterns
- Use your keyword research tool to identify top keyword opportunities
- Identify ranking opportunities that align with customer intent
- Terms that have a keyword difficulty (KD) of less than 10
- Terms with a high search volume (minimum 150/month)
- Terms with a high click percentage (greater than 50%)
- Terms with a low average backlink volume (less than 10)
- Terms that aren’t dominated by high authority sites (like Salesforce)
5. Identify at least three keywords to target per blog, with a primary focus on the highest opportunity term (the “Having same terms” function on Ahrefs is a great way to discover similar keywords or keywords that share the same parent term).
2. Determine your primary CTA
Your CTA is everything. Getting traffic to your blog is only half the battle. Once there, readers need to be converted into leads through the acquisition of contact information or converted into users through a free sign-up or get started CTA (for freemium or product-led offerings). A CTA that’s designed to convert should appear both high up in your copy - perhaps no lower than the third paragraph - and at the conclusion. To ensure success, this CTA should directly correspond with the topic and primary message of the blog.
This is the conclusion that appears in a top-performing Vendasta blog that redirects visitors to view the G Suite page in the Vendasta Marketplace. It pairs a text CTA with an ad banner to secure the action.
A few important CTA considerations are:
- Only direct one course of action, don’t muddy the waters with multiple CTAs.
- Don’t force the issue. CTAs should be included near the beginning of the blog and near the conclusion, but don’t overwhelm the reader with CTAs throughout the copy.
- Consider color and design. Contrast demands attention, and different colors often suggest different things (ex. green might imply peace or signal environmental queues).
- Reduce text and make every word count.
3. Build an outline
Great blogs start with strong outlines. Heading structures and the usage of keywords in headings are powerful ranking signals for blog content. These outlines are generally based on a combination of style as well as SERP features of other ranking content.
Blog content can take a few different formats based on the keyword scope and outlines will vary depending on the target keyword. According to TrafficThinkTank, keywords can fall under any one of seven categories. Based on the category, you can then determine the best content format (listed left). Of these content formats, comparisons, listicles, alternatives, knowledgebase, and cancellations are all potential blog types. Product features and reviews should typically be reserved for product pages and review sites, but there are certain cases where blog content can be highly effective.
Once you’ve determined the keyword category, the general blog formats are as follows:
- Product breakdown
- Subsequent categories
- Necessary definitions
- A numbered list of products, services, etc
- Introduction of the solution needing
- List (possibly numbered) of alternatives
- What is ___?
- Process for accomplishing task/objective
- Steps for how to cancel
- Product features (if applicable)
- Content to support or expand on a product page
- Reviews (if applicable)
- List of product reviews, generally reserved for sites like G2
4. Fill in the gaps
The actual writing of a blog is where you get to have a little fun and put pen to paper.
Keep the following items in mind as you begin crafting your content:
- Forty-three percent of readers skim blog content, so
- Use short paragraphs, graphics, headings and subheadings, and bold and italicized text formatting.
- Long-form blog content performs better on search
- The average length of top-performing blogs on Google is 1,140-1285 words
- Longer blog posts generate 9-times greater lead-generation success than short-form content.
- Write in a conversational style.
- Big words often muddle the message, so use words that readers readily understand.
- Be clear and specific.
- Even in a 2,000-word blog, you need to quickly get to the point so that you don’t lose the reader's interest.
- Use statistics.
- Credited citations add validity to your arguments, so use well-founded statistics in your content.
- Strategically insert keywords.
- Your core keywords should be used in your title, in your first paragraph, in a few of your headings/subheadings, in your URL, and should have a text density of at least 2 percent.
- Tools like the Yoast plugin for WordPress can be helpful in guiding you with in-text SEO optimizations.
- Be careful with links.
- It is both good writing and SEO practice to include outbound links to other sites, especially those that have high authority. But don’t link to competitor sites and redirect visitors and SEO juice to a site you might be trying to beat.
5. Deploy a content syndication strategy
As I mentioned earlier, writing the content is only half of the battle. A blog marketing strategy is only as effective as the syndication tacts that are deployed to propel it.
Here are the essential blog syndication strategies:
- SEO. One of the primary motivators behind creating blog content is to rank on search. However, achieving this outcome does not happen by chance, but rather, through a dedicated SEO strategy. Identifying focus keywords and optimizing your blog content to target those terms is critical. And, once you achieve rank, these blog assets will continue to generate website visits and leads for months (and possibly years) to come.
- Email marketing. The first email mechanism that your blog site needs is a newsletter. This allows readers to subscribe to your blog so that you can provide weekly or biweekly updates on new content releases. The second mechanism is a post-conversion nurture campaign. When a lead is generated from your site, you need to have an email nurture automation created so that they are continually fed value until they have reached a point where they might be ready to have a sales conversation.
- PPC/paid ad promotion. One of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site while also enhancing paid metrics (like click-through) is by running paid promotion against your content. In doing this, you are focusing on delivering value to your audience, rather than asking for a conversion right away. Once clicks accumulate, you can then launch remarketing campaigns to drive your audience further down the sales funnel.
These five steps are the foundation for a great blog marketing strategy. But, to truly become the master of your own (lead generation) destiny, then you're going to need more.
An integrated marketing communications strategy is the key to meeting your lead generation targets and driving overall business success. Integrated marketing strategies are achieved when you are deploying numerous marketing programs in a highly coordinated and collaborative manner. This corresponds with more leads, more touchpoints, faster sales cycles, and greater revenue potential. If you want to explore the top 39 modern lead generation tactics in extreme detail, complete with tactical implementation plans, then download The Fundamental Guide to Lead Generation today!