Blogging is a critical component to a successful content marketing strategy. (Did I just summarize this entire post in one sentence? Maybe—but there's more to it than that.)
Having a blog-posting strategy in place that resonates with your target audience will help with your goal of generating more leads for your business, and it also helps establish your business as a thought leader in your industry.
So how do you fit this into your existing (or brand new) content marketing strategy? Keep reading to find out.
The Benefits of Blogging
To begin, consider the major pros (and zero cons) to blogging—it contributes significantly to your content marketing strategy by providing the following benefits:
It helps to drive traffic to your website.
Every time you write a new blog post you're adding another indexed page to your site, which Google and other search engines love! It proves your website is active. Each page you add gives you another chance to be found in search results (which is how most people look for content these days).
Blogging can get you discovered on social media.
If you create great content on your blog, people will want to share it via social media (you should share it on social as well to your personas). The more people share, the more visits you'll get, and the more it will help your SEO results.
Blogging increases conversions.
How you may ask? You can add lead-generating CTAs to your blog posts that direct to landing pages with relevant content and offers your visitors can convert on. The more blogs you have, the more people will see you CTAs, which increases the odds of conversion. More site visits and more leads? Blogging is a win-win.
Blogging establishes authority.
If you're answering common questions and solving your persona's pain points in your blogs, people will start to look at you as a leader in the industry and will begin to trust your company. The more a person trusts your company, the more likely they'll be to turn into a customer someday.
How to Set Up a Content Marketing and Blog Strategy
Now that you know (or are reminded of) the benefits of blogging, you know it's a no-brainer, but now, let's cover how it fits into your content marketing strategy (from the very, very beginning).
Set content marketing S.M.A.R.T. goals. Don't dream about your goals, put a plan in place to achieve them. To ensure you stay on track, make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
Define your buyer personas. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based off research and data from your company's current customers. The better you know your persona, the more successful you'll be in all of your content marketing efforts.
Decide which type of content works best for your business. Based off your buyer persona(s), decide which content will resonate best and plan to create ebooks, white papers, podcasts, etc.—and how you will use blogs to support the promotion and supplement it.
Create an editorial calendar. Once you have the type of content you want to create, it's imperative you put a plan of attack in place to develop and promote this content. Scheduling plans out at least 90 days in advance will help to ensure you're on track.
Market your marketing. What good is your amazing content if nobody knows about it? Get it into the hands of your buyer personas through social media, email, blog, and so on.
- Measure your results. The beauty of digital marketing by using marketing automation platforms such as HubSpot and Marketo is that it's so easy to monitor your results. Keep an eye on your analytics and base your efforts moving forward on those results. See what works and what doesn't and optimize from there.
Getting the Most Value Out of Your Blog Posting Strategy
No company is too small to not blog and no company is too large, although it's important to do it right.
Blogging should be used as an awareness-stage piece of content that educates your audience and answers questions and pain points they may have, so be sure you check all of these boxes before you start:
Know Your Audience
Your blog’s success depends heavily on whether or not you are delivering the content your audience is interested in. Your blog-posting strategy needs to revolve around topics that establish you as a thought leader in the industry. Also, when you post content that resonates with your audience, it’ll lead to increased conversions.
You can find out whom you need to develop content for via the following ways:
- Tailor content to what your buyer personas want to see.
- Develop surveys to see what interests your audience.
- Monitor your previous content to see what performed well and what didn’t.
Establishing a routine as part of your blog-posting strategy is a must. Your readers will become used to seeing your content consistently and on a schedule. You’re at risk for losing your audience if you decide to take breaks from posting, so stick to the publishing calendar.
Blogging consistently also helps with SEO because search engines prefer fresh content. Aside from the increase in long-tail keywords, you will see a decrease in your bounce rate with more time spent per visitor on your site.
How to Optimize Blog Posts
Getting the most value out of your blog-posting strategy is achieved through careful research of reader personas, optimizing your posts, promoting on social media, and learning from what has worked in the past and what hasn’t—but you cannot neglect taking the steps to optimize each individual posts for:
Including internal and external links is important for your blog posts.
Internal links will increase traffic and rankings for SEO as well as establish you as a thought leader in your space. External links help establish credibility and maybe even an opportunity for them to link to you as well. It is also important to ensure these links are natural for a reader and you aren’t adding in a link for the sake of it.
Consider building out a link-building campaign to help beef up your link profile.
Do Keyword Research
Keyword research is a fundamental part of your blog-posting strategy. Quality content is favored by search engines, but if you aren’t using words that people are searching for, your blog won’t perform as well as it can.
There are many tools out there to help you in your keyword research. It’s also important to use more long-tail keywords, meaning phrases with three to four words that are specific to your topic.
You may have great ideas, but finding out what questions are being asked directly from prospects, customers, or others online will help ensure you are writing blog posts that actually answer real questions your audience is asking.
Be Picky About Images
Your blog post isn’t just about the copy—the image is also important.
A blog post that is visually appealing will see more engagement; it also helps you increase traffic from image search engines (just be sure to include an alt tag).
Consider if charts or graphs help illustrate the story. Recruit a graphic designer if need be to create an infographic. We are a visual culture, and social media is becoming more image-centric, so it is important to include a visual in each and every post for maximum views.
All of your blog posts need to be action-driven; there should be something that entices the reader to become a lead.
Calls to action (CTAs) can be visual or just plain text, but they must be related to the blog post in some way; otherwise, you will see a low conversion rate on your posts. Although most CTAs tend to be located at the bottom of a blog post, play around with the placement to see what works best for your company.
Plan Your Promotion
In order to increase your reach of your blog posts, you need to share them across social media channels. Sending out one tweet about your new post isn’t going to cut it either. There needs to be multiple messages scheduled per platform that your company is on. Invite your employees to share the posts to increase your reach even further, and add them to the automatic blog notifications so that they get an email whenever a new blog post comes out.
Keep in mind that different social channels have different peak times for sharing, as well as what should be included in that message. Paid social advertising is also a great idea to help build your blog audience. Just make sure you’re keeping track of posts that are performing well (and not so well) so that you can continuously improve.
This post was originally published in September 2015 and has been updated since.
About the author
Jennifer Shore was formerly the Director of Marketing of SmartBug and a Seattle-based writer who has received numerous awards for her work. In her role at SmartBug, she is responsible for the development, execution, and optimization of the high-growth lead funnel, nurturing, and customer acquisition. Read more articles by Jennifer Shore.
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