Introduced in the 1990s, blogging has come of age. What started out as an online diary has evolved into a sophisticated marketing channel. In the process, individuals and organizations that blog are learning the importance of determining the right topics to cover. They also are understanding the value of engaging headlines and copy and the appearance of blogs. Finally, they are learning about consistency of posting and other variables that impact the success of the blogging efforts.
Savvy companies know that blogs, when done right, can increase credibility, enhance brand awareness, showcase thought leadership, improve SEO and drive lead generation. Yet while blogs continue to rise as a critical marketing tactic for B2B organizations, some companies aren’t maximizing this cost-effective and essential initiative. Instead they fall prey to several oversights and fatal flaws.
- Blog initiatives are not a part of the company’s overall marketing strategy. Many companies just slap a blog onto their websites without developing a long-term plan or determining what resources are needed to maintain this key initiative. For example, companies don’t take the time to evaluate the time, money and personnel required for a strong blogging program. Second, they don’t think about how blogs will be used in conjunction with other marketing activities. Nor do they develop a schedule, checklist for production and a system for quality control. Third, companies may not recognize the importance of consistent posting frequency. Many companies start out with good intentions to post weekly, then slip to bi-weekly or monthly posts which become even less frequent over time. That demonstrates a lack of commitment, which has a negative impact on credibility and reliability in the eyes of prospects and customers.
- Bloggers are not professional writers. Effective blogging requires preparation and skill. When blogging, pay special attention to the headline and opening (or lead) sentence. This is essential for telling readers what the blog will be about and why they should read it. To make blogs more engaging, include quotes, statistics, questions or stories. Also, keep sentences short and write in the active, not passive, voice. After completing the blog, share it with others, get feedback and put the content through the “so what?” test. If, after every paragraph, you can’t answer that question with a definitive answer, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
- Blogs don’t reinforce the company’s brand. Having a blog can increase brand awareness and visibility. But blogging in and of itself simply isn’t enough. To enhance customers’ experiences, encourage customer loyalty and support brand identity, blogs need to communicate with your target audiences in meaningful ways. Use the blog to tell your brand’s story, publicize key values and put a human face on your organization. Blogs need to foster conversations, build communities and create opportunities for visitors to provide feedback and engage with the company in a meaningful way. Extend the reach of your blogs by cross-promoting them on social media platforms.
- Blogs do not take advantage of technology. Search engines reward websites that include links with higher rankings. To make the most of this algorithm, include internal and external links in your blogs. Make the most of simple, and often free, plugins that can help you optimize your blog for SEO. Use Google Analytics to review blog traffic and gain insight to the topics that are of the greatest interest to your readers. Also, be sure to include commenting, share and sign-up features on your blog and monitor these tools for activity.
- Blogs become stale. Over time, this tendency can become a reality unless there’s a concerted and defined effort to keep content fresh and interesting. To do that, schedule regular brainstorming sessions with colleagues and look for stories that promote your brand. Try writing to inspire and engage and jot down ideas whenever they come to you. Stay current with the news in your industry. In addition, identify go-to resources you know and trust. Follow them, sometimes they can provide fodder for innovative ideas and new topics.
The world of marketing is in constant flux. Yet blogging continues to be a key element of content marketing. When done well, blogs can drive significant and measurable traffic to your website, build SEO, improve social media engagement, reinforce brand image and even drive sales leads. Remember that a while a corporate blog is a great way to promote your products and services, it shouldn’t serve as a billboard for your company. Find natural ways to integrate your products and services into posts without spamming readers. Take a strategic approach and create customer-centric content that educates, engages and entertains readers.