Is there really a return on the time you spend contributing to your business blog? After all, there are other activities you could be doing to grow your business.
At first, it may seem that your time could be better spent with other activities. Maybe you’re more comfortable with cold calling and direct email outreach. Certainly the results seem to be quicker than content marketing.
What makes blogging appealing for lead generation is the compounding effect it has over time. Your blog articles are out there forever, searchable and sharable by everyone. It may start out slowly, but the more you post on your company’s blog, the more momentum it will gain. All it takes is strategic effort and clarity about your business objectives.
Whether you are developing a content strategy for the first time or are an experienced blogger, here are few tips to help focus your efforts, stay on track, and ultimately generate a consistent channel for growth that demonstrates ROI.
Know your ideal customers.
Create a clear, detailed description of your ideal customers. You want to tailor content to the people who will buy from you.
Create personas that map out the behaviors and goals of your target customers. If you aren’t in the place to do extensive research, which can be costly, try these methods.
- Look at blog comments on other blogs your potential customers might read. See what type of content they’re already engaging with.
- View profiles on LinkedIn. Take a look at the profiles for people who represent your target audience, and then compile your findings into a persona that captures common behaviors, goals, habits, and obstacles.
- Use Buzzfeed to find content that’s trending in your niche with a lot of social shares.
- Read industry blogs and magazines geared toward your current and ideal customer customers.
By discovering what your target audience is already seeking, you can become the go-to blog that provides that information. Over time, you’ll build trust with your audience that will eventually lead to sales.
Try to answer these questions to get some clarity about what you want to achieve:
- What is the purpose for your company’s blog?
- What story supports this purpose?
- Is everyone on your team on the same page?
Then put the answers together in one blog mission statement. This will give you a foundation all of your blog efforts.
Know which keywords you’re targeting.
When a potential customer types in a keyword, you want them to find your article, not your competitor’s. Spend some time researching keywords that are relevant to your business and that you think you will have a good chance of ranking for. Make a list of 5 to 10 keywords. For each keyword, jot down additional related keywords you can use. You’ll need to analyze the competition and search volume for each keyword, as well as research your competitors to see what keywords they’re ranking for.
Keep in mind that the world of SEO has changed and you can’t keyword stuff your blog these days. Your blog should be written to engage people first, and satisfy Google second.
Repurpose and distribute your content.
Writing a blog is the first part of your business blogging strategy. The second part is determining where and how you will distribute your content so you can get it discovered and increase visibility.
Blogging takes time, especially when you provide extra value with research and documentation for each post. To get the best bang for your buck, take your content and reshape it in a different form. This way you can reach people that may not have read your blog.
Consider these ways to repurpose your blog posts:
- Use Canva to turn it into an infograph. Take all the ideas, data and research that went into your blog post and combine it with some of Canva’s built-in graphs, charts and illustrations.
- Pull out a few key takeaways from your post and use Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule each quote with a link to your blog article. This way you’re maximizing your blog’s exposure by posting it numerous times.
- Add your blog title directly into the feature image for your article. This way you can use the same image to pin your blog to Pinterest, rather than creating an entirely new graphic.
- Turn your data, stats, and research into a Powerpoint presentation and create a Slideshare.
- Drive traffic to your blog by emailing an excerpt to everyone on your mailing lists. Another option is to create a newsletter with snippets from multiple blog posts and “view the full article” links. For epic posts and long-form content, you can also send a personal introductory email with a link to your blog.
- For content marketers, it’s all about the mailing list. If the wordcount of your blog is 3000 or more, turn it into PDF that people can download. This way you’ll be using the same content to drive traffic and to grow your mailing list.
- If your blog is evergreen and not time sensitive, use a tool like SocialOomph to keep your Twitter accounts filled with tweets from your blog archive. If you have a WordPress site, the Tweet Old Post plugin will do the same thing.
Be consistent and publish regularly.
One of the biggest mistakes blog curators can make is not setting up a system to publish regularly. Like any marathon, if you don’t pace yourself it’s easy to start out strong with tons of energy and enthusiasm, and then drop off in the middle of the race. When your blog is new you’ll develop a natural momentum, but without a system in place that initial momentum can start to fade as you run out of blog ideas. One of the most common ways to make sure you’re publishing regularly is setting up a content calendar to map out blog topics.
The way the calendar works is that you decide how many posts you plan to publish and what topics will be covered. Let’s say you plan to post 2 articles each week. You would use the calendar to assign authors and due dates for each blog post. Getting buy-in from authors within in your company, as well as outside experts who guest post, will help keep the focus and stay on track. Let everyone know what articles they should be writing and when they’ll be published.
The beauty of having a calendar is that it establishes accountability and makes sure every blog is developed and scheduled on time. You’ll start producing a steady stream of blog content that your readers can get in sync with.
You can also use the editorial calendar to align your blog strategy. For each blog post, make a note of resources required, keywords and CTAs to include, as well as promotion and repurposing tactics.
Promote your blog content.
In a perfect world, people would flock to your blog the minute you published. Unfortunately the odds of that happening are slim to none. Using keywords will increase the chances of your blog ranking higher, but some topics will be less search-friendly than others. You need to actively promote each post to give it the best chance of attracting readers.
There are many inbound ways to promote your blog. For this article, we’ll focus on using social media as a distribution channel.
These steps listed below are courtesy of Mike Allton at The Social Media Hat. Follow the steps listed here in this order, or experiment to find a sequence that works for you.
- Tweet your blog using the title plus 2 or 3 hashtags, and attaching the image to the tweet along with a link to your blog.
- Pin the blog to Pinterest. Open that share in a new tab and copy the new pin’s URL.
- Then share your blog to Google+ with an introductory commentary. Use a bold title, paragraph breaks, and 2 or 3 hashtags.
- +1 my share to Google+ and add a “Pin It For Later” comment with a link to the pin.
- Next, highlight your Google + share commentary and copy it.
- Use your commentary and share the blog to your LinkedIn profile and to your LinkedIn Groups. You can use the full commentary or an edited version.
- Take that same commentary and share it to your Facebook profile, your Business Page and any groups
- Again, use the same commentary to post to Scoop.it.
- Post the same commentary to BizSugar.
- Then use Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule and share to any secondary or unbranded Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin profiles or pages.
- If you want to go the extra mile, share your blog to Digg, StumbleUpon, Google Bookmarks, Reddit
- Once that’s done, use Buffer or Hootsuite again to schedule additional tweets. The first day, tweet 3-4 times. The second day, tweet 2 times, and every day after that for the first week your blog goes live, tweet it once. You don’t want to send out the same tweet each time, so keep them fresh by tweeting something different each time. You can tweet your thoughts about the blog for one tweet, quotes from the blog for a few more, key takeaways, benefits, and so on. Make sure you add the image to your tweet and include different hashtags as well.
These are just a few ways you can promote your blog. You can also use paid ads to drive traffic to it, especially for longer blog articles with a downloadable offer. Another promotion tactic is to use Technorati to build a list of influential bloggers who cover topics in your space and reach out to them with your content.
Build a sales funnel.
Some people are going to purchase from you today and others aren’t. Those people may be at the beginning stages of identifying problems and researching solutions. Chances are good that at some point down the road they’ll be ready to buy. Building a sales funnel with your blog will keep you top of mind so that you are the vendor they choose when they are ready.
The way you build a sales funnel with your blog is to write articles tailored to people at the early, middle, and final stages of making a decision.
Let’s say your overall blog topic is “hospice care”. You might write one article for people who are just starting their search and another for those who are already evaluating facilities. For the top-of-the-funnel prospects you’d write an article such as “How to Provide Hospice Care For The Elderly”. For those who choosing facilities, you’d write another article titled “How to Choose The Right Hospice Care Facility”.
The idea here is to create content that speaks to buyers at each stage of the buying cycle. You want your blog to guide people through the stages of getting to know you, liking you, trusting you, and finally, to purchasing from you.
Measuring ROI is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of your blog. Knowing your audience and publishing regularly are all important factors that will contribute to your bottom line. The goals you identified with you blog mission statement will help you measure blogging efforts and how they have contributed to growing your business. If your blog truly is providing thought leadership and offering rich and original content consistently over time, the ROI will be obvious.
You can measure ROI in unique visits, email signups, and leads. You can also measure traffic and shares as well as engagement on social media.
If you are using the steps above to promote your blog, these measurements should reflect the wide net your blog is casting, with an increasing number of people becoming aware of your products and services.