The Smart Marketer's Guide to Blogging for Business

It’s hard not to sound like an infomercial when you start pumping up the benefits of blogging for your business. “It’s great! Everyone’s doing it!” “You haven’t tried blogging yet?! You have no idea what you’re missing out on!” The cliches are endless, quite honestly. But, here’s the thing: They’re kind of true. Not only does blogging bring gobs of traffic to your business’ site, but that traffic is prime to be converted into leads. Once you shake that organic traffic tree, you have no idea what might come tumbling out.

 One of the best outcomes of blogging for business is positioning your company as an authority in your area of expertise by correctly answering or solving your customer’s business problems or questions. As Hubspot aptly notes, "Establishing ‘authority’ is a fluffy metric—certainly not as concrete as traffic and leads, but it's pretty powerful stuff. And if you need to tie the impact of blogging to a less fluffy metric, consider measuring it the same way you measure sales enablement. Because at the end of the day, that's what many of your blog posts are.” These benefits are just a few of the many positive features of blogging.

In terms of hard stats, Hubspot once again did some of the heavy lifting by sourcing a variety of 2015 surveys and online research that surfaced some hard-and-fast blogging benefits:

  • “B2B marketers that use blogs receive 67% more leads than those that do not.”

 

Remember all those cliches about blogging? These stats prove they are true! Now that you have a good understanding of why blogging is so amazing, you’re probably itching to get started. Here we go...

Getting Started: Nail down your content strategy.

When it comes to a killer content strategy, hyper focus is key. Keep it simple, clear and understandable. Think about the questions, interests or problems that your typical client faces, and write about those issues. If you’re an expert in a particular field, discuss current trends or best practices. The more value you give your readers, the more value you will get in return.

Setting a Goal

Your first step is identifying a business goal to tie your content to, which will help you figure out what to write for your audience.

For instance, if your business goal for Q1 this year is to build awareness around your business, you will want to write content that is going to help you reach the most prospects as possible. Consider focusing your blog content on interviews with experts in your field that are well-known or well-regarded to quickly grow awareness for your business. Hitching your blog content to people who are already influential is a great way to increase the reach of your business content, since the experts you interview are likely to share your content.

Think of it like this: Let’s say you’re a baker, and you’re blogging about your growing cookie business—but you’re not getting a lot of traffic to your e-commerce shop. Suddenly, you have an opportunity to meet the lead baker for Mrs. Fields Cookies. Sweet—pun intended. You interview the lead Mrs. Fields’ baker on your site. His/her Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn followers read the piece, share it hundreds of times, and before you know it, your little blog is converting 28 percent (totally made up stat, but completely possible) better than it was the month before. That’s the magic of having a well-prepared, dialed-in content strategy.

Figure Out What to Write

If you’re not sure where to get started, make a list of the frequently asked questions that come up in sales conversations with prospects or with current clients. Write blog articles that answer these questions in the best way possible. For example, many of our clients ask us how much they should be spending on marketing as a business. To answer that question for prospects who may be searching for advice, we wrote: “B2B Edition: How much should I spend on marketing?” By providing the best answers to your client’s questions, you position yourself as an expert and begin to build trust with prospective clients. Whatever strategy you take, be sure that it will relate back to your business goal, whether that’s awareness or generating leads.

Create a Content Calendar

OK, last thing, remember in the beginning of this section we talked about creating an editorial calendar? Well, it’s like your North Star. The editorial calendar will be your source of all truth for your blog as it outlines when and what you’re publishing and according to what schedule. It’s an obvious ‘must.’ We actually created a free template for you to make it super simple. Let us know what you think!

Free blog editorial calendar

STEP TWO: Get data. Be social. Go for SEO.

Write What Readers Love

Another best practice to note: it’s important to attach metrics to your strategies, too, so you can know if you’re meeting or surpassing your goals. Using data to make decisions is never a waste of time, even though it can be time-consuming.

One way to achieve this: make sure your blog is capable of capturing social shares, otherwise known as Facebook ‘likes’ or Twitter ‘favorites,’ etc.. This will help you to see if your audience is engaged, and if they like your content enough to share it. This is a decent metric to use to pay attention to as a beginner blogger.

However, if you get adventurous, you can dive into Google Analytics, or try finding a company that can provide analytics reports for your site for a good price—a great compromise. We like PaveIQ. Straight from their homepage: “Pave analyzes your Google Analytics data and sends a report on what's working, what's not and how to improve.” And it’s a cost-effective service that can be tailored to our clients’ needs.

Make it Searchable 

Another skill that you may feel ready to learn is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I know. Those words sound ridiculously intimidating. But don’t let them scare you. Basic SEO is completely logical. 

Think about it: when you search for the answer to a problem, you typically head to Google and type in your query. Many times (in fact, more than 70 percent of the time) you are typing in a long-tail keyword, a query or question with more than three words. Your prospects are doing the same thing! Think about what they may be searching and use those keywords (a single word) or the long-tail keyword questions in your blog title, meta data and body of the post.

If you head deep into SEO-land, it can start to get a little confusing--especially if you start learning about the 200+ ranking factors Google uses. But here’s a good recipe for ‘lite’ SEO, perfect for first-time business bloggers: 

  • Optimize Your Blog’s Images: Save files with custom-made URLs that are search-friendly. For instance, instead of, “imagedog1.jpeg,” try using the key topic of your post, for instance for this post, I assume we’ll rename the images to say, “first-time-blogger.jpeg,” or “blog-for-business.jpeg” and on and on. This is a super simple way to have Google recognize your post images or downloads as relevant to those search terms.
  • Vanity Permalinks: If you’re using WordPress or similar CRMs, you must give your post a unique permalink (URL), or your CRM may auto-assign it a random one. For instance, for this post, you’ll see this URL: [INSERT]. We custom created that URL for SEO purposes. It has similar keywords in it, as you may have spotted, to the ones we chose for the images above.
  • Tags & Keywords: Sprinkle these throughout your blog posts. Use your target keyword in your title and at least twice in the body of your text. Your CRM should also have a place in the area where you load the post to enter “tags” or “keywords” or both. In WordPress, for instance, there’s an area for you to enter both. If you choose to do so, a best practice is to make certain they’re all words actually in the post, and that the words you enter for tags exactly match the words you enter in the keyword field.

  

But above all else, Google values high quality content! Focus on delivering that above all else.

Check in With Readers

While social and search signals can tell you a lot, don’t forget that your eventual readers will also provide a wealth of knowledge. After a couple months of blogging, you’ll be able to survey your subscribers and begin to understand what content they love, don’t love, and that which they want more of.

It’s important to always remember to give your readers value and to consistently survey or assess your audience to see if their needs and desires have shifted or changed. Your blog should follow whichever way the wind blows. After all, blogging isn’t just about your business—it’s about your customers.

STEP THREE: Get into the groove.

Are you starting to get into the blogging groove? Or not-so-much? Maybe you’re still clunking around, fumbling through tasks with a team that has hybrid roles and confusing structures, or just too busy and confused. Guess what? You need a workflow. A workflow can best be established at the start of each blog brainstorming session by utilizing a creative brief. A creative brief will outline your goals, the topic of your post and what needs to be done to meet your deadline. Some important things to remember when establishing a workflow:

  • Make sure to assign an owner to every stage of the blog project or post, i.e., an author, an editor, a proofreader, a production artist, etc.
  • Make sure there’s a method to capture awareness of each person’s accountability, such as a sign-off sheet on the Creative Brief, or something less archaic, such as a Google Doc Form for each blog post. No matter the medium, just that it works for you and your team.
  • Create a social media plan and workflow for each post or project and assign an owner to this task, too. It will cascade with your basic blog workflow, as monitoring your social channels is a good way to measure success.

 

Whoa, back up. A social media plan... What’s that? There was once a day that I too found this to be a mysterious wonder. But no more! I truly recommend taking some of the headache out of social media tending by automating it instead. This task can obviously be accomplished more effectively by a Social Media expert, but Buffer, another sassy SaaS out of the Silicon Valley, is a more-than-decent runner-up. Actually, what am I saying? Buffer’s very convenient. All you do is sync all your social media accounts into the Buffer platform, and it then automates the tweets and posts you create and spits them into the InterWebs as you please. I could (almost) teach my mom to do it, it’s that simple. There are plenty of other tools to do this other than Buffer, such as HubSpot and Hootsuite.

{Psst... We also have a Free Social Media Editorial Calendar for you here!}

Don't Forget to Capture Emails!

Now that we’ve gotten back into the groove, there’s one important ‘must’ missing. How are you going to let your readers know when you post new stuff? Let’s hope you’ve been capturing email addresses on your blog somehow. That’s called conversion. And it might be the most important strategy you implement on your business’ blog. So don’t hesitate: Create an area for folks to subscribe on your blog (like the box at the top of this page), if you haven’t yet already. If you’re looking for inspiration, visit your favorite blogs and see how they captured your email address from you—willingly. You’ll probably notice patterns in communication and trends in regards to application—go in that direction.

Notifying your subscribers ties back to your CRM or WordPress platform. If you have WordPress, you can sync it with a variety of email templates that will pull your data from your WordPress site and turn it into a lovely email template. Rather magical. MailChimp is one of the best-known in the industry, but there are many others. Just find and select the one that best merges with your blog platform.

And remember, capturing those emails (in other words, converting your traffic into leads) will open you up for opportunities to nurture those leads and close sales. That's what Inbound is all about.

FINAL STEP: Tend your garden.

One of the hardest facets to tending a funnel-driven, inbound-nurturing blog is the maintenance. Are you going to publish once, or twice a week, or more? Research has shown that blogging at least 16 times per month is optimal in order to see noticeable gains in your traffic and lead quality, compared to those that blogged four times per month. If you’re OK with growing gradually, posting at least twice-per-week is effective, too. Neil Patel, founder of Kissmetrics and a wildly successful blogger, reminds us that,

“Consistency is one of the most important things that bloggers tend to forget. It’s much easier to lose your traffic than it is to build it up, so make sure you consistently blog.”

So, tend your blog garden well and watch the fruits of your labor grow and grow.

 

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About the Author: Lauren Ventura

Lauren Ventura

Lauren is a Boston, Mass. transplant, loving the California sunshine since she headed out here to attend UC-San Diego. After sticking’ around to head to San Diego State for graduate school, she was hooked on that sunshine. Now Lauren helps build brands with her writing chops for everything from magical yoga pants, running shoes, marathons, pet food and pet furniture and hundreds of other brands that are too far-out to remember. Hundreds. She has a beautiful daughter that inspires her to work hard to live the Cali dream. Catch her on Twitter @DoItWriteNow!