How To Make Your B2B Blog Your Top Content Marketing Tool
Best-in-class B2B marketers rank blogs as their most effective content marketing tactic according to the 2014 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Reportfrom Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.
Surprised? I’m not. Here’s what these marketers know that you don’t:
The reasons blogs trump other B2B content marketing tactics
Here are 5 reasons blogs trump other content marketing tactics along with 10 steps you can take to make your B2B blog a top content marketing tool. Understand that execution can play a major role in your blog’s success.
- Blogs are an on-going, cost effective owned content platform. Blogs are a publishing platform. As a form of owned media, they contribute to your business’s assets. Further you don’t need to pay to advertise or place your content on your own blog.
- Blogs present information buyers seek at every step of the purchase process to help drive sales. Since blogs enable the use of a variety of different types of content including photographs, videos, audio and presentations, they offer potential customers the information they need at different points in the buying cycle.
- Blogs support search optimization efforts. They provide content around long tail search terms and attract inbound links. What’s more is their architecture is made for search.
- Blogs support content distribution. In addition to placing content on your blog, blog posts can be distributed via RSS and email. Further, they provide social sharing.
- Blogs supply a platform for publishing real-time marketing response. Many businesses underestimate the value of having an established blog following.
10 Steps to make your B2B blog your top content marketing tool
While your results may vary, here’s the secret to making a blog your number one content marketing tool.
- Determine your blog goals. To be effective, your blog must be aligned with your business and marketing objectives. For most businesses, this means branding, lead generation and sales.
- Understand your blog audience. Beyond creating a marketing persona, you need to be aware of what sets blog readers apart from the rest of your target market. Do your blog’s visitors realize they’re reading a blog? Where do they consume your content: Is it on your blog, via social media, via email or in feeds? Do they check your blog for specific types of information or columns?
- Plan your blog’s editorial calendar. This should be integrated with your overall promotional calendar and content marketing editorial calendar. The beauty of publishing a blog is that you can create blog posts to support your other content activities. Beyond this, create a set of on-going columns that you’ll publish on a regular basis, generally weekly or bi-weekly. This helps keep your blog’s content funnel going. Further, having this structure helps your bloggers since they have a post structure and topic; it also encourages readership. Among the types of on-going columns to create are: Recipe Spotlight, Ask The Expert: Customer Questions and Fabulous Fan Fridays.
- Support your product and service offering. Since the unstated objective of your blog is to create content around the different elements of your offering, use each post to reference a product or attribute of interest to your potential buyers and existing customers. When you specifically mention a product, link to that page of your website. Think of your blog as an extension of your customer service department.
- Integrate your branding into your blog. Incorporate the salient elements of your brand into your blog presentation. Go beyond the colors and typeface to incorporate the way your posts are written and the use of author photographs and bios. Consider whether your blog will be an extension of your company website or a free standing site since this can have an impact on how you use color. (Here are 31 blog design elements to consider.)
- Optimize content for findability and consumption. Aid search by focusing on the keywords your buyers use and providing content other sources want to link to. Additionally, it’s critical to make your content easy-to-consume. (To help you, here are 15 blog SEO tips from the experts.)
- Distribute your blog content. While blog posts can be distributed via RSS and email, you must build your readership. Unless you’re an expert in your field, company blogs require work to reach a larger audience. It doesn’t happen by itself. To this end, use all of your owned platforms to promote your blog content.
- Socialize your blog content. This means getting your content distributed on social media platforms. Recognize that you can’t just appear on a platform to promote your own content. You must curate and share other people’s content. You can boost your stronger posts with the use of social media advertising. (Here are 33 Ways to use social media to extend your blog reach.)
- Support your blog with necessary resources. Blogs require an investment of time by a variety of people with different skills. This includes an editor (or someone in charge of the blog), writers, copyeditors, designers and technical support. You can encourage others such as sales and customer service to blog but if you do, it’s important to remove the fear of poor writing with a copyeditor and to make it part of their job. You can outsource blog posts but it’s better if they sound like your employees who represent your brand.
- Measure your blog’s effectiveness. Your blog metrics should flow from your blog objectives. It’s useful to determine how you’re going to assess success before you set up your blog such as leads or sales generated. Ideally, you should integrate your blog metrics into your analytics system. (If you don’t have one, you can use Google Analytics.) It’s useful to incorporate a call-to-action into your content to get people to act and to track results.
Since B2B prospects tend to be over 70% of the way through their buying process before companies know that they’re in market, blogs provide easy-to-find and consume information they’re seeking. To make your blog your top content marketing tactic, you must create posts that help your prospects and customers. Further, you need to support your blogging efforts with sufficient resources.
What other B2B blogging tips would you add to this list and why would you add them?