Company blogs are an essential part of modern day marketing and brand journalism. I think most organizations realize this by now, but what remains a perpetual challenge is knowing how your company can generate the most impact from content creation efforts. Have you heard the saying, "garbage in is garbage out”? Content for the sake of content is really just noise.
As an inbound marketing consultant, I spend a great deal of time meeting with teams who are seeking better ways to drive inbound marketing leads. We spend a considerable amount of time breaking down content strategy (or lack thereof), because good content is the foundation of successful lead generation results.
If we can help improve upon what and how they publish, not only will you see a difference in the number of leads your website is driving but the quality of leads. Here are some of the biggest blogging blunders I see:
- Undefined audience of focus
- Lack of understanding of keywords and SEO best practices
- Inconsistency of publishing content
- Salesy and uninteresting content
- Missed opportunities to build ongoing relationships
- Non-existent distribution plan
Let’s break down the impact each of these and the impact they have on driving results.
Know your Target Audience
We recently hosted a webinar on “How to Create Buyer Personas That You Will Actually Use” and it was surprising how many attendees were part of marketing teams either didn’t have buyer personas created or had them but admitted they just sat on a shelf and were never looked at. Understanding who your blog is being written for has to be the first step in creating your content plan.
Having well-defined buyer personas will not only give you the road map to your company conversations with your audience but also help you to prioritize how much content to create for each of your most important audiences.
If your company has out-dated personas that you haven’t updated in over a year, or if you are creating content today without having developed them, I encourage you to spend 45 minutes listening to this webinar where you will learn how to get your marketing and leadership teams aligned so you can build your content road map successfully.
Understand SEO Best Practices
This is a huge conversation with many ever-changing layers. If your primary reason for having a blog is to increase your organic traffic and create more awareness around your products or services, then you have to know how search engines are going to deem your content to be relevant. You don’t need to have the depth of Rand Fishkin (few people do), but you do need to understand SEO mechanics so that your content can be found by those you are hoping to attract. There are a lot of ways to educate yourself on SEO and keyword best practice. Don’t waste your time publishing one more blog post until you know that you have optimized it for search. Here are some helpful resources:
Like anything else in our lives, if we don’t live with intention and have a plan, we probably don’t get the results we desire. It’s rare in my conversations with small to mid-sized marketing teams to come across organizations that have a well-documented content creation process — which shows up in their lack of consistency of published blog posts. One way to address this is to assign someone in your organization the responsibility of content ownership. This doesn’t mean that they need to write all of your company articles, but they need to create a calendar and process for your writers to follow, as well as hold team members accountable to meet deadlines. Here are some things to include in your process to streamline the quality of your writing and publication process:
- Identify topics with targeted keywords
- Due dates for draft submission
- Topics with keywords
- Persona identification
- Publish dates
It’s also really important to have a documented process for review and turnaround times as well as a company-wide goal for how many blogs you plan to publish per week.
At StoryTeller, we’ve offered incentives to help encourage our employees to write content consistently. We’ve done several different incentives to keep employees engaged and excited. Here are a few things you can try:
- Qualify for half-day Fridays in the summer
- Receive a free catered lunch for your whole department if everyone contributes a blog in a given month
- Earn your way to a training course, industry conference or event
- Get a monetary bonus after you reach a certain number of blogs
- Give rewards for the blogs with the highest number of views/shares/new leads, etc.
It’s really important to keep your team motivated to keep blogging, so make sure to recognize successes in company meetings, email communication, or — if nothing else — send a celebratory .gif on Slack!
PRO TIP: A lot of companies (or individuals) worry about their ability to write a great blog post. But there are lots of ways to create great content. Consider allowing certain subject matter experts to contribute via audio interview, video blog, Q&A post, infographic, or other content types if they are not comfortable writing.
We have a saying in our organization, “if they’re not interested, you’re not interesting.” This saying can apply to the videos you publish that have no views or the blog posts you write that have no engagement. With over 3 million blog posts published every single day, making sure your content is seen by your target audience starts with writing authentic, thought-provoking, and interesting information.
At StoryTeller, these are the key questions we ask about content:
- Does your audience really care about this?
- Is this unique and does it have a point of view?
- Does this solve the problem of what my reader came looking for?
As consumers, we are tired of companies selling to us. If your content is not being consumed, perhaps it’s because your writing can’t pass the sales “sniff test.” It’s not about you, it’s about solving for the customer. Or perhaps your content is missing the mark because you’re writing about what you think people want to hear rather than your own personal experiences.
I recently worked with an agency that is struggling to drive results from their blog. It didn’t take me long to realize why… besides the fact that they had no level of consistency to their publishing frequency, their content had no depth. They were writing about topics that were relevant to their target audience, marketers, but they had no first-hand experience with the topics they were writing about. They wrote about what they thought they should write about rather than what they actually knew about. And because of that, their posts were not unique, different or interesting. They were simply regurgitating content from other blog posts with no unique perspective or compelling information — and the internet treated it that way.
Create Relationships With Your Reader
Your well-written blog post can accomplish so much for your organization. At the heart of it, your blog post can be a conduit for meaningful relationships, a place for you to really help real people who need real solutions.
Think of your article or blog as the side door to your company website. A well-written and search-optimized post can bring someone to your website that hasn’t heard from you before. If you don’t have ways to engage this reader and continue to educate them, then you are missing out on fostering what could be an awesome connection, and who knows, some day a new customer! Here are some ways to move your reader from awareness to interest:
- Make sure you have a way for your reader to subscribe to your blog. This way, all new posts you publish will automatically be emailed, staying on top of your reader’s mind.
- Reference other blog posts, website pages and interesting downloads you have published about similar topics. Make it easy for your readers to find relevant content and continue to explore your website.
- Create more content conversion opportunities. Can you create additional resources your reader may find helpful? Ebooks, calculators, and templates are just a few ways you can strengthen your relationship with your interested reader.
Amplify Your Content
You have spent a lot of time figuring out what to write about, to whom it’s intended for, and how to engage the reader to take the next step, so spend an equal amount of time developing a process for distributing your blog content. Here are some suggestions to make sure your content gets “found”:
- Send an invitation: Send an email to your company database letting them know that you have thought-provoking resources they can subscribe to. Create an easy way for them to opt-in to your blog content. Ideally, let them pick the frequency for how often they receive content from you (daily, weekly, monthly) to increase open rates.
- Leverage your sales team: Make sure your sales team is aware of the content that is being created and encourage them to use blog articles in meaningful ways to connect with prospects.
- Share on social media: Get into the habit of publishing your blog posts across the social media platforms
- Syndicate your blog posts: Leverage other publishing platforms and syndication sites to maximize the reach each blog post gets.
- Consider social media boosts: Getting organic reach on social media can be tough. Allocate some budget each month to target your best blogs to your relevant audiences on social media.
Some final thoughts... publishing content today is an essential component of modern marketing. Your customers and your prospects expect you to have a voice, a point of view and an interest in being helpful. Ideally, publishing content becomes an organizational initiative with contributors across all aspects of the company from customer service, human resources, sales, marketing and the C-suite. Plan your content strategy and work your plan and you will be delighted with the results.