Does your business maintain a blog? If not, you should consider changing that. According to stats and studies from Hubspot:
- Companies that blog have 55 percent more website visitors.
- The more frequently a company blogs, the greater its blog-related customer acquisition.
- B2C companies that blog generate 88 percent more monthly leads than those that don’t. For B2B companies, it’s 67 percent.
You get the picture. A company blog can serve you well, and it will show in everything from your SEO to the bottom line. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can throw together a few paragraphs and toss something up at whim. It’s worth the investment of time, talent and money when developing your strategy for a blog that is both attractive and effective.
1. Figure Out Who Should Blog
Organizations in just about every industry and sector can benefit from blogging. It’s a way to increase your online content library and visibility without constantly updating your regular website.
We recently explored the content marketing practices of B2B companies, learning that 60 percent of the most successful ones use blogs to distribute things like white papers, case studies and e-books.
2. Dig for the Content
Worried there isn’t enough to write about? With a little thought and practice, you can come up with something that someone will want to read.
For example, an accounting firm might not feel they have much to say. Yet, basic accounting is something a lot of people deal with on a regular basis, and they probably have questions that a blog post could answer. Accounting bloggers could address common questions from clients, or share updates that affect accountants and their clients from legal standpoints.
In reality, many companies and other organizations likely have a wealth of content in a range of content forms. So this step of the process could be about taking stock of what your already have, and how it might be repurposed into a digestible blog.
3. Find the Time
Business owners and leaders may feel they don’t have time to blog, and we understand this. Creating a quality piece of content takes time. Still, don’t let that stand in your way. There’s no rule saying every blog has to be written by the CEO or marketing department.
You have a few options. If your budget allows for it, hire a writer or agency to take on your blog. Or, you can recruit people in-house to be regular contributors—brand journalists, if you will. Both options let you spotlight different voices and departments of your industry, which can further enrich the content.
Recruiting those voices might be challenging at first. Especially if they aren’t already in creative or marketing positions, some employees might balk at the idea of writing blogs. Try getting them involved in simpler ways at first. Some ideas include:
- Creating a simple form or survey in Google Docs where team members submit ideas as they come to mind
- Bring together shorter pieces from multiple employees (on one topic) to create longer pieces with a range of thoughts and perspectives.
- Develop an editorial calendar with rotating categories, and assign those categories to various departments so they can plan well in advance.
Whatever topics and writers you feature, your company blog needs goals and a purpose, whether that be for the bottom line, exposure or just a conversation. Let’s look at that next.
4. Know Your Audience
To get a handle on your blog’s purpose, you need to know your audience. This will guide your writing, helping you speak to a specific group. One way to approach this is by creating personas.
A persona is a representation of an actual customer. It’s a relatively detailed description of one person (age, occupation, income, gender, goals, family, challenges, etc.) who is likely to buy from you. Writing directly to this one person keeps your content focused and helpful rather than watered down and generic.
For example, if you’re writing to Millennials, don’t talk to them under the stereotypes of phone-addiction and aimlessness, speak to them about one of their interests, such as corporate social responsibility or authenticity.
Begin with actual customer data. Glean common traits of your best customers (or your competitors’ customers; read competing blogs and their comments), take advantage of the information on social media, and record what you know.
Write up a description of a person with a name and specifics on age, family, interests, etc. Include where you might connect with them (Facebook? Text?), and promote your blog accordingly. Then, listen to the feedback they offer.
5. Commit to a Plan
Once you have a plan for the content and whom it’s written for, address the logistics. How often are you going to blog (daily or weekly) and when will you publish (which days and at what time)? You can run a special script in Google Analytics to see which days and times give you the most traffic, and align your content publishing with that. Eventually, you’ll find the traffic will peak on your blog publishing days. For more, check out these stats on timing and blogging.
Taking that a step further, what categories will you feature? For example, a software as a service (SaaS) company that offers employee productivity software could blog once a week about workplace efficiency topics, such as meetings, working smarter, etc.—each could be a category on the blog.
Then, combine your schedule and category ideas into an editorial calendar to ensure that you are consistent and share varied content. You could create your own spreadsheet, use a plugin on a platform like WordPress, or free solutions from sources like Google and Hubspot.
In addition to your schedule and categories, commit to quality. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprisingly easy to become lax, especially if you aren’t significantly financially invested in the blog.
Keep your quality high with multiple reviews and serious editing (not just proofreading). Develop an “assembly line” of sorts to ensure checks and balances:
- Writer sends draft to editor
- Editor sends changes and suggestions back to writer
- Writer updates and sends back to editor (or a second editor)
- Writer’s updated draft is finalized and entered into the content management system
6. Check Your Metrics
Most likely, you’ll want a sense of how much money your blog is making. Determining how the practice impacts your bottom line can be tough, however.
Knowing the financial value of your blog involves a lot more than the number of views, or how much revenue has increased since the blog’s implementation. You have to consider how much you’re spending (on in-house or external labor as well as maintenance fees), and weigh that against the data from your preferred analytics. Jay Baer goes into great detail about how to do this over at Convince & Convert.
When you have a sense of what’s best for your bottom line, you can target your blog to keep moving in that direction.
Of course, blogs aren’t always just about the bottom line. Blogging can bring more traffic, increased online visibility, shaping of your brand voice and thought leadership, personal branding and so much more.
If you take the time to develop a solid blog strategy you’ll already be ahead of much of your competition. Know what you’ll say, whom you’ll say it to, when you’ll say it and how you’ll measure it, and you’ll be on your way to a quality, lucrative blog.