Image source: Graphicstock.com
Business blogging. Frustrating, isn’t it?
Everyone tells you how important blogging is, but despite your best efforts when you do blog all you hear is crickets.
To make matters worse, you keep hearing that companies with blogs are extremely successful. In fact, HubSpot research shows the average company that blogs has:
- 55% more visitors
- 97% more inbound links
- 434% more indexed pages
Blogging can help you reach new customers, build customer loyalty, get invaluable feedback, and attract a steady stream of highly-targeted inbound leads. Blogging is also cost-effective. According to Exact Target and Hightable, “the average cost to generate a marketing lead ($143) is about half the average cost of an outbound lead ($373).”
That sounds great but how exactly do they do it? If you haven’t been able to figure out how to use your blog to drive business, don’t worry.
You Are Not Alone
If you’re struggling to harness the power of blogging for your business, you aren’t the only one. Most businesses aren’t blogging.
- According to IBM research, 77% of companies have blogs but 85% of company blogs have five posts or less.
- The University of Massachusetts' Center for Marketing Research reported in a study that only 22% of the Fortune 500’s and 45% of the Inc 500′s companies blog.
- Fast Company reported that only 9% of US marketing companies employ a full-time blogger.
That means there's plenty of opportunity for small businesses to nimbly outmaneuver the "big guys" by embracing blogging and developing compelling, evergreen content that speaks directly to your prospective customers. If you get blogging right, it can be a major benefit for your business.
RELATED: 7 Best Practices for Corporate Blogging
Do You Make These Mistakes?
So what’s keeping the average business blogger from achieving their goals? In my experience, there are two main culprits. Most business bloggers:
- don’t know what drives engagement, so their blogs end up abandoned
- don't have a framework to use so they get overwhelmed.
Once you recognize these two common obstacles you can take action.
Develop a content strategy
Think like a publisher.
If your business has an online presence, like it or not, you’re essentially a media company. And a blog is one of the best ways to start pulling your customers in.
If you’re going to think like a publisher--by creating valuable content that can be monetized--you need a content strategy. Your content strategy will determine who you’re trying to reach, how you’ll reach them, and what kind of content they will find valuable. Taking time to come up with a strategy and getting it down on paper where you can use it to guide your decisions is critical. It’s also where a lot of business owners drop the ball. In their excitement to start blogging they fail to prepare adequately.
Can you imagine a major media company that didn’t have a clear idea of who they were trying to reach and exactly how they would do it? Can you imagine them producing content sporadically?
RELATED: The Pros and Cons of Business Blogging
I’d like to share a framework for business blogging with you to help you avoid the two common mistakes I mentioned earlier. There are many ways to approach business blogging.
Using this framework will help you get started and avoid common pitfalls.
- Know your audience--Getting crystal clear on exactly who you’re trying to communicate with is the first step of your long-term blogging strategy. Spend some time detailing who your ideal reader is. Your audience will determine what you blog about, how you promote your blog, and how distribute your blog content. Ideally you want to create buyer personas to make sure your blog posts are something your potential customers will want to read.
- Determine your central theme and messages--If you want to get found by the right prospective customers, you should define clear goals. Now that you know who your audience is, what are their problems? What content can you develop to address these pain points? You want to write informative and engaging blog posts that answers your readers’ questions.
- Create a detailed editorial calendar--Blogging frequency is an important part of building an engaged audience. It’s not enough to create content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers. You have to do it consistently. There are other reasons to use an editorial calendar including planning your content ahead of time and scheduling guest posts. Remember, your goal is to run your business blog like a successful publisher.
- Devote resources to your blog--Your blog can’t be an afterthought. I’ve seen many business blogs flounder because there was no sense of ownership. Decide how you will produce the content. Will you write it yourself? Use a ghostwriter? Use user-generated content? Do you have the right tools? Who will be responsible for managing the blog? Until you answer these questions whenever things get hectic, you’ll be tempted to put blogging on the backburner.
- Don’t ignore promotion--How will you get readers to know about your blog? Part of thinking like a publisher is coming up with a plan to get your content in front of your audience. Here’s where your buyer personas will come in handy again. Armed with information about your ideal customer you can promote your blog where they “hang out” instead of desperately hoping they happen to stumble across your blog. Some businesses have seen success with guest posting. Others promote their blog content on social media or email their list whenever they publish something new.
- Understand audience engagement--Earlier I mentioned that many businesses abandon their blogs when they don’t see mind blowing results right away. The truth is building a successful business blog is hard work. One of the metrics you can use to gauge your progress is engagement. Do your readers leave comments and ask questions? Are they sticking around reading more than one post? Do they become subscribers? If you don’t see the level of engagement you’re looking for, there are steps you can take to boost blog engagement.
- Seek and learn from comments and feedback--One of the benefits to business blogging is the conversation you get to have with potential and current customers. This is your opportunity to engage with customers and learn from them. Take advantage of it.
- Begin with the end in mind--Having a blogging strategy implies that you have an ultimate goal. Build your blog with that goal in mind. While your blog may educate and entertain your customers, it’s also a marketing tool designed to attract qualified leads for your business. Encourage your visitors to take action with the use of effective calls-to-action.
- Track ROI--You should be tracking your efforts and measuring the results. Sign up for Google Analytics, and learn to use tracking links in your calls to action so you can see which pages or which calls to action work best to deliver shopping cart sales or leades. Follow up on the leads to see which of those actually bring in business.
Do you want to see this in action?
Sometimes it’s helpful to model your efforts after someone who has already figured things out. Of course, you should evaluate whether specific tactics will help you achieve your goals. Study some successful business blogs and imitate what works.
Here are some examples:
Blogging isn’t an impossible, arcane science. You just have to know how to get started. So what are you waiting for?
© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.