Originally published on the Salesforce Blog.
Welcome to the world of business blogging, where competition is hot, rules are plenty, and content is currency. Join me, as I help guide you through this new territory, and supply you with an easy-to-follow game plan that’ll help you turn your blog into an inbound marketing machine. For my money, blogging just might be the cornerstone of your content marketing.
- 70% of consumers learn about a company through articles vs. ads
- 67% of B2B markets using blogs generate 67% more leads
- Websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages than those without
- 61% of U.S. consumers have made a purchase via blog posts (Social4Retail)
The 6 Step Game Plan
1. Build the framework
Before you start writing, lay the foundation with these essential building blocks—they’ll go a long way in optimizing your blog in terms of content, search value and conversions.
- Identify and make a list of your buyer personas—targeted content is twice as effective versus non-targeted.
- Create a list of problems each persona faces for an arsenal of relevant content and stories.
- Segment your blog into a few main silos that categorize these problems and stories.
- Develop a keyword list to optimize your blog posts with relevant terms your audience will use in search.
- Create a big ass subscription button and some well-timed/well-placed pop-ups to optimize your blog.
- Build simple landing pages with capture forms. Deliver value on your blog, sell on your landing pages.
Perhaps the least talked about blogging practice is storytelling. Telling a story, rather than delivering a report or diatribe is essential; we as people are predisposed to relating and remembering them. There is an art, however, and I’m going to pay a piece of sage advice forward, once bestowed upon me. Every story starts with a problem and ends with a resolution—fill in the middle with how you get there. Might seem basic (and it is), but make no mistake, readers will always inherently follow this structure, and if you don’t have it, there will be no happy ending.
3. Content Creation
This one’s a biggie. Is there a person on earth who’s not talking about content right now? But with good measure, because content is your most important inbound marketing tool. It’s what separates you from competitors and other blogs, and ultimately drives your audience to engage with you.
- Use data. It’s fluff, until it’s substantiated. Leveraging data not only ups the value of your content, it also makes it credible.
- Provide visuals. Break up the copy with relevant graphics. They add context and aesthetic flare. Try things like graphs, pics, infographs and screenshots.
- Focus on delivering value. Sell your ideas, not your stuff. People are sick of being sold to. They want to learn from you, they want your help, not your pitch. Focus your content on that, and the product side will come full circle.
These bullets above will go along way in making your content shareworthy, which is critical to broadening your reach and strengthening your influence.
4. Scaling content
There’s nothing worse than showing up to a blog where the most recent post was from six months ago. Running a successful blog means diligence and frequent publishing, but sourcing good content and putting pen to paper eats a ton of time up. You have to find ways to scale.
- Slice and dice data. Dive into your analytics and parse it up, there are many different ways to spin single data point. Segment your buyer personas: a CFO and a CMO are going to see two different things. Find an angle and run with it.
- Guest Bloggers. Enlisting guest bloggers is a great way to relieve writing duties and get some fresh perspective on your page (but remember, they can’t sell)
- Build a content calendar. Planning your blog is huge—get as many contributors from your organization as possible, assign them deliverables, and get the content wheel humming.
Rand Fishkin, SEO Guru from Moz, said it best: "I hit publish for the first time, and everyone just showed up – said no blogger ever." Writing quality content is just half the battle, the offer half is getting it out there and getting it discovered.
Use multiple channels to build your blog audience. Start by building killer ad copy of what the blog is about, attach the blog link, and push it across your social channels and email lists. And don’t forget to leverage your guest bloggers’ networks too.
6. Call to Action (CTA)
If you take anything from this article, make sure it’s this: always offer your readers something to engage with at the end of the post. A piece of content, a link to your products, a promotion or someone to contact from your business. It’s a surefire way to track engagement, measure your posts and gather leads.
Before I go, one last piece of advice: have fun with it. If you’re having fun, chances are, your audience will too. Thanks for your time. Good luck out there.