If you’re wondering whether your business should start blogging, then this blog post may not be for you. After all, the days are gone when brands were evaluating whether blogging is an effective marketing strategy. Today, blogging is an essential component of any online marketing strategy.
But you already knew that. You’ve bought into content marketing and realize that there’s a very real benefit to providing substantial and valuable content for your target audience. You already have a blog and have been steadily growing a devoted readership. So why the need for this post?
Well, it turns out that simply having a blog does not mean your blog is working for you. In fact, only 28% of businesses are able to measure their content ROI. And let’s not forget your blog’s main purpose — to generate new leads for your business.
You could get 100,000 visitors every day, but if you’re only converting 1 of those visitors into a lead then it’s not really effective marketing, now, is it?
But not to worry! Let’s now go over how to bring your blog into the age of modern marketing.
This might seem a little basic but it’s a surprisingly often overlooked question. Before you even start thinking of your next post’s topic, first make sure that you understand what your blog is trying to achieve.
There are 4 main purposes for your company to have a blog:
- Create brand awareness
- Improve SEO rankings
- Establish your brand as a thought leader
- Generate qualified leads for your business
As I alluded earlier, it is this 4th point that is typically forgotten. In order for your blog to be effective, you really need to ensure that it’s set up to feed more leads to your sales team. Just think about it: If you’re not bringing in new customers, then there will be no business to have a blog for!
Identify Your Target Audience(s)
Do you talk exactly the same way to your grandmother, child, boss and significant other? Didn’t think so. Depending on who you’re speaking with, you’re going to custom-tailor your message for each specific person.
Speaking to your audience requires having a great understanding of who they are and what they’re interested in. It’s an absolute must to define your audience personas to give your content direction and resonate well with your audience.
To create an audience persona, develop a profile that is as detailed as possible. The persona will be fictional, but it should feel as real as possible. Pick an image to represent the person and fill in as much information as possible. Here’s a sample buyer persona to help get you started:
- Skews female
- Age 25 to 35
- Professional background
- Marketing manager at mid-size company
- Reports to CMO and is the ‘doer’
- Experience in marketing; still learning digital marketing landscape
- Busy managing marketing activities
- May have a small team, buys into corporate culture
- Keep her boss happy (metrics)
- Keep customers happy
- Wants to learn
- She doesn’t know what’s working
- Doesn’t know where to invest her time and budget
- No time to create content, several approval steps
- How we help
- Make it easy to create a central destination for customers
- Provide metrics to see what content is effective
Creating detailed buyer personas has made a tremendous impact in our own content marketing strategy from overall direction to creation. When our marketing team brainstorms content ideas, they need only to say the word Nikki and the rest of the team is instantly on the same page. You’ll also then begin to blog about topics that address each pain point your buyer personas have and explain how your services can help solve them.
Write A Content Marketing Mission Statement
Just like how you’ve defined who your audience is, you need to identify what your blog is as well. Both you and your visitors must understand the purpose of your blog and why people will seek out yours instead of the endless other options.
Joe Puluzzi, founder of Content Marketing Institute, lists 3 components that every content marketing mission statement must have:
- Your core target audience (as defined by your audience personas)
- What will be delivered to your audience through your content
- The outcome for your audience
As an example, here’s Uberflip’s mission statement for our own content hub:
This short statement communicates who our content is for (marketers), what they’ll get (information, advice, resources and inspiration) and the results of reading our content (increasing leads, brand awareness, and their bottom line). For us, it’s a useful checklist to make sure that every piece of content applies to that mission statement and won’t let down our readers.
Use Relevant Call-To-Actions
I really can’t overstate this step enough. It’s amazing how often marketers will devote their resources towards creating great content, but do nothing to utilize this work to direct engaged readers towards the next stage of their sales funnels.
Imagine you’re a salesperson and you’ve just had a really successful hour-long meeting. The person you’ve been speaking with is really excited by your offering and has been on the edge of her seat the whole time. Now, you’ve just finished your pitch and say “ok, bye” and abruptly get up to leave. Something seem wrong here? Of course! It’s not enough to just wow your prospects — you need to guide them along to the next action.
Having an awesome blog post with no call-to-action (or CTA) is very much like this above scenario.
You can’t rely on engaged visitors to figure out how to learn more about your services. It might work sometimes, but let’s face it, we’re all lazy. If something’s not right in front of us when it needs to be, we’re probably not going to find it.
On the other hand, if something’s in the right place at the right time, we might be spontaneous and take it. Just think of how many times you’ve ended up buying gum at the grocery store because it was at the check-out counter.
For instance, we made a simple little adjustment to our blog that delivered huge results. We created a CTA inviting readers to subscribe to our newsletter. Instead of placing it beside the blog post or greeting visitors right away, we set up an initial 60 second delay before it popped up over the content being read, which looks like this:
The rationale was that if a person had been on the same piece of content for a minute, chances are they would find it interesting and be interested in getting more of it delivered to them. The experiment ended up paying off in a big way: An overlay CTA with a 60 second delay boosted our blog subscribers by 9x in one month!
Also, make sure that your CTAs are relevant to the content that they’re next to. Don’t just have one generic CTA for people to learn more about your company — it’s too vague and won’t get clicked nearly as much. Remember, people need to know how you can help with a specific problem that they are having.
For instance, look at the following CTA:
While this CTA is less vague than a generic “learn more about us” CTA, it doesn’t speak to the content that it’s next to. An advanced marketer doesn’t need beginner marketing tips, so they’re not going to click on it.
Now, compare that CTA with this one:
See the difference? A person interested in advanced marketing will also be interested in this eBook, since it is written for the same audience. Plus, the CTA leads to a landing page where they will need to submit their email addresses in order to access the eBook. This ensures that we’re utilizing our content for its main purpose: to add more leads to our database.
Blogging in the age of modern marketing means smarter blogging. It’s the difference between running and screaming blindly into battle vs. developing a calculated strategy before stepping foot out the door. When you put more thought into your blog, everyone is happy. Your audience will continue to receive highly relevant content, while you’ll get a steady stream of new, highly-qualified leads. Remember, you’ve got the content — now make the content.
Randy Frisch is the co-founder and COO at Uberflip, focused on ensuring strategy, operations, and sales work in harmony to guide the company towards growth and profitability. Find him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter @randyfrisch.