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As marketing content producers, we see a lot of B2B blogs, some of which are done very well and some that could use some help. One of the most common mistakes we notice is misusing a blog as a press release. Historically, companies have used press releases to promote, announce and create a buzz around time-sensitive topics or events. For the most part, they follow a specific format. Press releases answer the questions: who, what, why, where, when and how. They offer facts, not opinions and they tend to be very self-serving.
Blogs, on the other hand, are less formulaic and structured. They are more informal, conversational and can be written in the first person. Good subjects for blogs are topics that educate, inform, engage and make readers think. Effective blogs also contain valuable information about a timely topic or specific industry, not about the company publishing the blog. Similar to articles and white papers, blogs provide condensed content that positions you as a thought leader within your industry with the added feature of inviting audience comments and feedback.
Blog for the Right Reasons
The goal when producing a consistent blog is to build relationships with customers and prospects. To accomplish that goal, consider these seven tips:
1. Think about the answer to the question, “What keeps my prospects and customers up at night?” Develop customer-centric content, which outperforms self-promotional content.
2. Write about opinions, trends, discoveries, ideas, research results and other topics that provide opportunities to think about things in new ways.
3. Use blogs as an extension of your website. Remember to link them to other areas on your site that might be of interest to visitors.
4. Encourage readers to comment and engage in a dialogue with you. Ask for feedback.
5. Offer a complimentary download. It could be a book, a report, a tip sheet, a case study or something else of value.
6.Keep blog posts short—ideally fewer than 600 words and use bulleted or numbered lists to highlight key information.
7. Use graphics, links and key words to optimize blogs for SEO.
Build Relationships with Blogs
“Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.” ~Milton Hershey
Remember, an effective blog brings the reader back to what the company does well, without being an overt sales pitch. A good rule of thumb is to focus on your audience’s interests 70% of the time while using company-centric content much less frequently.