Forget fliers, TV ads, and radio jingles that get stuck in your head for days on end. These days, the most cost effective and, well, outright effective way to get your brand in front of consumers is through blogging.
A well-curated blog can establish a business’ position as an industry leader while simultaneously telling its unique story and developing intimate relationships with customers, all without a single phrase of marketing jargon.
Marketing stock photo by Bigstock
But with so many blogs out there, simply registering a blog on WordPress and pushing “publish” isn’t going to be enough. Businesses need a blog strategy to capture audience attention. Here are our top tips for putting one together.
To create an authoritative platform, you have to know two things inside and out: who you are, and who your competitors are. Take a look at your business plan and scour the websites and blogs of your competitors. How do your services or products differ from those that are already out there? What holes exist in your niche? Use the answers to these questions to mold your blog into a go-to resource for customers, whether they’re looking to keep abreast of industry news and trends or to have their most burning questions answered.
Do not, however, let the idea of authority be an excuse to slip back into marketing or industry jargon mode. Take a look at the world’s most successful blogs, and what you’ll see is not a dry, textbook approach to content but words, images, and videos that practically bubble off the page with personality, humor, voice, and unique ideas.
Develop a content strategy
That said, you can’t create content that’s compelling to your audience if you don’t know who that audience is or what they want. To find that out, you’ll need to do a little market research.
1. Break down your demographics. Are you targeting the entire world, or a Boston suburb? All adults, or just those with children? Write profiles for your ideal customers, including where and how they most commonly consume information. You can do this with a good Google search as well as by sending out surveys, monitoring relevant social media feeds, and networking both online and in person with your demographic.
2. Do your keyword research. Once you have a good sense of your customers, type both what you intuit are common questions and any keywords related to your business into Google’s keyword tool to identify gaps in content. Narrow in on keywords that have relatively high search rates but low or medium competition, and brainstorm content ideas that fill in the gaps from there.
Produce engaging content
Of course, even the most informative content won’t do much if readers are bored. Fill in the gaps left between your competitors on the form level, too, by getting outside of the standard 500-word blogpost. Reach out to expert guest bloggers, produce an irresistibly shareable infographic, or commission a video, which, according to Forrester Research, will be 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results. For example, take a look at what Xero is doing with their cloud computing guide. They create exceptional, standalone content, and then reference it within their blog posts for readers to engage with.
If you do stick to the written form, break up content with pictures and by chunking your text into bolded headers, so that it’s easy to scan. (Yes, sad as it may be, most readers will be scanning whatever you produce. Embrace it and watch your bounce rates drop).
Of course, there’s no point in producing fantastic content if no one knows it’s there. Make sure there are easy click buttons for all of the important social media sites at the bottom of every one of your posts so users can share content they’ve found helpful. From there, think of social media like a mix of traditional networking and casual friend making (within limits).
Reach out directly to influential bloggers in your community that have large followings and pitch a guest post, or simply comment frequently on their blogs. Use the hashtag tool to scour Twitter for posts relevant to your industry, and start conversations with customers. Keep it professional, of course, but also well within your blog and business’ carefully honed voice. This is not the time to get back into ad pitch mentality; rather, have an actual conversation, including links to your content when it’s relevant.
There’s much more to developing an excellent content strategy than this, so we recommend checking out this comprehensive guide to business blogging, which has more comprehensive tips about setting and measuring your goals.
Developing a blogging strategy may take time, but the more compelling your content, the more engaged users will be, the closer they will feel to your brand, the greater return on investment you’ll see. So do your research, get blogging, and have fun!
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