By now, most marketers know that blogging is great for business. Publishing a professional, thoughtful blog positions you as an industry thought leader, and thanks to Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, it’s almost essential for SEO success. Blogging well definitely requires an expenditure of both time and mental energy, but anyone can do it, and we’re going to show you how.
Before we get started, here are a couple of quick stats from HubSpot for those readers that may not be quite ready to jump on that blogging train.
- 57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog
- Businesses that blog get 55% more web traffic.
These facts show that blogs can act as a powerful lead generation tool. On a higher level, they illustrate that customers are beginning to rely on blogs as trusted sources of information about industries, products, trends, etc. Plus, blogs are an excellent vehicle for collecting email addresses and subscribers to your email newsletter, which is where Marketfish thinks the true lead generation value lies.
Persuaded? Good. Now, let’s jump in to how you can build an effective blog.
Position yourself as a thought leader
If you want your blog to persuade people to purchase your products or services, then you need to be seen as an industry luminary, a thought-leader, a person that really knows what’s going on with your area of expertise.
Start by writing how-to pieces, sharing your perspectives on industry trends, or by providing commentary on industry research reports. Providing unbiased info to your readers is a critical component you don’t want to sidestep. I find that thinking like a magazine publisher is the easiest way to keep my content unbiased.
One last thought, try to set yourself apart. It’s OK to disagree with the status quo. Don’t feel the same way about a trend or best practice as someone else? Then go ahead and say so. I do recommend maintaining civility. Backing up your opinion with concrete facts and insight is a great way to do just that.
Use a conversational tone
This is a big one. Check the business lingo at the door. No one likes reading an inscrutable textbook, and that’s what some B2B blogs sound like. And don’t worry. Yes, you can be authoritative and speak conversationally. I even recommend trying to mix in humor and wit. Just strike an appropriate balance. Tonality is critical to adding a human face to your brand. You want to entertain and inform. Write with that ideal in mind.
Google Analytics, WordPress Stats, and Site Meter are all free analytics tools that you can use to track your blog’s traffic. Beyond finding areas to improve, analytics can tell you how many people are reading your blog – certainly reassuring information. I recommend looking at your most read posts, and replicating whatever it was that made those so popular.
Give readers a way to subscribe
One of your blogging objectives, no matter the industry or subject matter, should be lots of recurring readers. So give your readers a way to subscribe. RSS is nothing new, but it’s still one of the easiest and most popular ways to subscribe to a blog, so don’t forget to include an RSS subscription button.
I also recommend including a simple email sign-up field in the sidebar of your blog. Make it blatantly obvious that it is there for subscribing to your newsletter (don’t worry; we’ll get to that in a moment). The newsletter will act as a tool for nurturing your blog readers into potential customers and actual customers. Beyond building customer loyalty and your brand, collecting email addresses for a newsletter is the primary reason to blog.
Give away content
Here’s where your newsletter enters stage right. Repurpose blog content, compose some unique, non-blog content, and mix in some promotional content (product offers) to build out the body of the newsletter. You can also provide links to download any whitepapers or ebooks you might have. Just be sure your download and offer links always point to an offer/content specific landing page, and never to your regular website.
This newsletter will keep you top of mind with potential customers, and continually position you as a valuable source of industry information. It also gives your subscribers and potential customers another avenue for interacting with your brand, as well as an effective vehicle for promoting your products and services.
There you have it. Now get on out there and start building your blog!