Ready to start your own business blog? Looking for help in refining your blog strategy? We’ve got the ultimate guide to business blogging to ensure that your content marketing strategy is successful.
Related: Business Blogging 101 (free eBook)
With the growing influence of social media, consumers rely more and more on Facebook and Twitter for news and information. Companies are taking advantage of that by creating interesting, engaging, and shareable content that they hope will “go viral” to help spread awareness about their brands. A business blog is a valuable tool for bringing in new potential customers and for building brand engagement and loyalty.
Before you even start brainstorming topics for your business blog, you should spend some time getting to know your audience intimately. If you have worked with your company for a long time, you may feel like you have a good grasp on who your customer is, but it still helps to actually put those ideas to paper. Are the majority of your customers male or female? Where do they live? What do they do for a living? What are their buying habits? What are their needs and challenges? What questions do they ask?
If you have the resources and tools, gather demographics or statistics on your customers. Consider interviewing customers or listening in on some sales or customer service calls. Gather input from your colleagues. Use this information to create 1-3 buyer personas and record their key characteristics to reference when you’re working on your blogs.
Once you have a better understanding of your audience, you can begin to develop your voice. Your blog’s voice should align with your brand identity. Think of it as your brand’s personality. If you’re selling beauty products, the tone, word choice, and syntax of your blog will be different than if you’re selling medical supplies. Should you strive for a more casual, friendly writing style? Or remain academic or professional? Do you use contractions or exclamation points? What point of view works best for your blog? Developing a clear voice with written guidelines is especially important if you plan to have more than one person writing your blogs so that your voice can remain consistent.
Now that you have a deep understanding of your audience and your brand voice, what do you write about? Content marketing should focus on the buyer’s needs—entertaining and engaging with your audience rather than acting as a “hard sell.”
Think about what kind of content your audience wants to read. Use your buyer persona research to consider what kinds of questions your customers may be asking. Think about blog topics that can offer solutions to their problems or challenges. Give them content they think will be interesting, helpful, or entertaining. Follow your competitors and similar companies on social media or sign up for their newsletter for inspiration.
Once you have an arsenal of blog ideas, create a spreadsheet with deadlines for your first draft, final draft, production, publish dates, and distribution. Be realistic about the amount of content you can create. One strong blog per month is more valuable than plugging out one per week. If you’ve never had a blog before, a content calendar will keep you on task and ensure that you prioritize content marketing.
Especially if you’re starting a business blog for the first time, measuring the success of the blog is imperative. You want to make sure that your time and resources are not going to waste. Connect your blog to Google Analytics if it’s not already, and make a plan for how often you check the blog’s views and engagement. If you don’t have a team member who is savvy with analytics already, consider taking a Google Analytics course. If you plan to distribute your blogs on social media, use the analytics offered by Facebook and Twitter to monitor the blog’s success there.
Keep an eye on how the blog is doing holistically as well as what kind of content is doing well. When you’re just starting, try everything! Then six months or a year down the road, analyze the data to see what kind of content does well so you can refine your strategy.
It’s no good to spend all your time writing blogs if you don’t have a plan for how to distribute them. How will they get in front of the eyes of your customers or potential customers? If you have a strong social media following already, think about how many times you plan to post the blog to social media and whether you have a budget to “boost” the content. If you have a large email database, sending blogs out in your newsletter may be more impactful.
Think about who else might be interested in sharing your content. Do you have partners with big social media followings? Anyone you can mention in a Tweet who would consider retweeting the article? You can also consider distribution partners when you’re creating a blog. Are there any experts you can interview or quote in the blog who have a large social media following? If you include them in helping create the content, they will be more likely to share the blog when it goes live.
Another way for your content to get in front of people is for it to appear in search results. But how do you get your blog to appear in search results? By focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Think about the words your audience might type into a search engine that could result in your blog appearing. Then go back to your blog’s text and sprinkle those keywords in as much as you can without making it sound odd. Be sure these keywords appear in the title, meta text, introduction, and conclusion of the blog, and as many times in between.
This really just scratches the SEO surface. If you don’t have an SEO expert on your team, it might be worth taking a course or doing some research on optimizing your content for search, as there is a lot of opportunity to expand your SEO strategy.
Every blog you write should end with a call to action (CTA) of some kind. If the reader makes it all the way to the end of the article, they’re invested! You want to continue engaging them. Where do you want them to go next? Choose a CTA that makes sense based on the content of the blog. Do you want to send them to another similar blog to keep reading? Ask them to follow you on Facebook or sign up for your newsletter? Send them to a product page that’s relevant to the article? Keep the reader clicking and engaged as long as you possibly can!