Originally a form of online journalling, blogging started out as a way for people to share their thoughts, interests, and daily lives. Today, the humble blog has evolved into a highly sophisticated marketing tool for businesses. Taking advantage of this platform yields great results in improving business performance on countless fronts.
As part of a wider content marketing strategy, blogging can deliver some impressive results…
The Benefits of Content Marketing & Blogging
Publishing regular content on your blog is a great way to create a meaningful connection with your audience. The tone of a blog typically leans toward informal, so you can transcend your corporate image and show the relatable, human side of your brand.
With every blog post, you’re building a library of informative, valuable content on your area of expertise. This makes you a trusted resource for your audience, which means you’re the first person they’ll think of when it’s time to make a purchase.
Businesses with a blog receive significantly more website traffic than those without. The more content, the more traffic, with businesses that publish 16+ posts per month receiving three times the visitors of those businesses that publish fewer than four monthly pieces.
Why is this? Well, great blog content gives people a reason to visit your site. The more you post, the more often they’ll keep coming back.
One way visitors will find you is via search engines. You can increase your visibility in search results — and consequently your website traffic — by using a technique known as search engine optimization (SEO).
SEO is a rather lengthy topic (we’ve broken SEO down in more detail here), but to keep it simple, sites like Google love fresh content. The more frequently you publish new content, higher you’ll rank in the search results.
Think about how often you update your business website — not very often, right? Your blog is a clever way around this, giving you the opportunity to add fresh content as often as you like.
If you’re a regular reader of any blog, you might notice lead captures in the form of e-books, guides, or other ‘gated’ content throughout the site. This content is offered in exchange for key information, usually an email address, that then allows the business to continue marketing to the visitor.
The increased traffic from blogging means more opportunities to capture leads. It’s a highly successful tactic, with business blogs generating 126% more leads than their blog-free competitors.
Blogs are also very effective for driving sales. Your business blog gives you the chance to showcase the best of your products or services, educate your visitors on their benefits, and show them exactly how they can improve their lives.
A word of caution — your blog shouldn’t be all about you. While the occasional piece of self-promotion is acceptable, the key purpose should always be to offer value. Even when you do talk about your own products or services, you should still be offering something of value to the reader.
As well as being one of the most powerful elements of your content marketing strategy, your blog is possibly the most cost-effective, too. You’re already paying for website hosting, so your only cost is production. It doesn’t take long to write a post, but if you want to outsource it, good writers can be found for very competitive prices.
Planning your blog
Ok, you’re sold on the benefits of blogging! But what makes a successful blog, and how can you make sure yours delivers? It all starts with planning.
First things first — what’s the purpose of your blog?
This will create the foundation for everything you post, so it’s important to be clear on your objectives before you get started. Are you trying to build relationships with your audience? Increase your credibility within your industry? Generate more sales? All of the above?
Hopefully you’ve already prepared a robust content marketing strategy that details your objectives, but don’t worry if you haven’t — we’ll walk you through it step-by-step in How to Create a Winning Content Marketing Strategy.
What does your audience want to read about?
Tailoring your posts to suit your audience’s wants, needs, and interests will make for a much more engaging and effective blog. If you’re not sure what they like, go back to the drawing board, do some audience research, and create a detailed buyer persona. We’ll show you how in How to Create a Winning Content Marketing Strategy.
It’s a good idea to post as frequently as you’re able to within your resources. Decide on a schedule ahead of time, detailing how often and when you’ll post. Depending on your industry, there may be certain days or times that see higher engagement, so it’s worth doing a little research to find out when.
Decide ahead of time who will be responsible for creating and posting your blog content and make sure everybody involved understands their role. Do you have the skills available to create quality content in-house, or will it be better to outsource your posts to a professional?
Creating blog posts
You’ve got a plan and you’re ready to get posting! What now? We’ve created an in-depth guide to creating quality content as a whole, but let’s talk specifically about how to create great blog posts.
What should you post about?
The best blogs feature a variety of topics to keep things interesting. Let’s say you’re a musical equipment retailer selling products from a number of major brands. You’ve created a detailed buyer persona and you know that your audience is heavily interested in the music industry and plays at least one instrument.
With this in mind, your posts might be a combination of:
- Company news
- Special offers or promotions
- New product lines or launches
- Product reviews or comparisons
- Music industry news
- Opinion pieces or ‘hot takes’ on relevant music news and events
- Music event announcements or recaps
- Curation, ‘top five/ten’, or ‘best of’ pieces
- Instrument tutorials
- Equipment demonstrations
- Advice, tips, tricks, and hacks for improving sound quality, learning guitar, etc.
- Interviews with music industry or brand experts
- Music equipment resources
- Q&A sessions and FAQ posts
- Guest posts from other music industry bloggers
Notice how only a few of the examples above relate to your brand specifically? That’s because your blog is all about your audience, not you!
As we’ve already discussed, the fundamental goal of your blog (and your content marketing strategy as a whole) is to deliver value to the reader. Whatever the topic of your post, always keep in mind what benefit reading this content will provide to the reader.
In other words, what’s in it for them and why should they give you their time?
As you know, frequently updating your blog can generate extra traffic to your website by increasing your position in search engine results. You can also achieve this by optimizing the content of your posts according to what your target audience is searching for.
The general idea is to research “improve guitar playing” or “best amplifiers for under $1000” — and then write a blog post that answers the searcher’s question, thus directing them to your blog.
You can further optimize your posts by strategically placing your search terms throughout the content. We cover this process in much more detail here in Optimizing Your Content for Search Engines.
As we mentioned earlier, your blog is a chance to show the more human side of your brand. With that in mind, you can afford to take a more casual tone in your posts. How casual depends on your industry and your audience — you want to steer clear of slang in medical or legal posts, for example — but if it’s appropriate, don’t be afraid to inject some personality and even a little humor into your posts.
When it comes to blog posts, there is no ‘right’ word count. If you can get your point across in a 500-word post, then adding filler content just to hit a magic number is a waste of your readers’ time and yours. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to dive deep into a topic if you think your readers will benefit. If the content is engaging, then they’ll read it to the end.
Spelling & Grammar
If you haven’t seen an online discussion go off the rails thanks to a misplaced apostrophe, you’re one of the lucky few! People pick up on poor spelling and grammar and unfortunately, this can distract them from your message and negatively impact their perception of your brand. Avoid this by making an extra effort to keep your posts error-free.
After you’ve posted…
The work doesn’t end when you hit ‘post’! Here’s what to do after you post to ensure your blog content is a success.
One of the key benefits of blogging is to boost engagement. You can maximize this by including a comments section on your blog, encouraging participation, and actively engaging in conversation with your readers. This extends to your social media channels, where you’ll post links to your blog posts.
There’s only one way to know for sure if your blog is a success — analytics. Tools like Google Analytics will tell you how many visitors your blog (and your website) receives, how long they stay on your site, how many pages they visit, and what they do afterwards.
Here are some key indicators of a successful blog:
- You’re seeing an increase in visitors for the post and the site as a whole.
- Visitors are spending at least a few minutes on each post.
- Your bounce rate, or the number of people landing on your blog post and then leaving, is low.
- Visitors are clicking through to other posts and/or pages on your site.
- Visitors are going on to buy your products or services.
- Visitors are signing up to your mailing list and/or downloading your lead magnets.
- Engagement (comments, likes, and shares) on your posts is high.
Techniques like SEO will bring visitors to your blog, but you should also proactively promote your content. Posting links to your blog posts on your social media channels is one of the most effective ways to do this, but there are many, many more techniques you can use to get maximum exposure.
The Ultimate Guide to Promoting Your Content
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