This is part 3 of an 8 part series.
The Eight Essential Steps To Successful Internet Marketing
Step 3 - Create A Blog & Marketing Offers
Blogs are a powerful tool in Internet marketing. They attract people interested in what you are talking about. They also give the perfect introduction for your company, your services and your products. When paired with other content like eBooks and webinars, you have the start of a powerful marketing program.
Today, with platforms like Wordpress and Blogger, publishing a blog is easier than ever. There is really no excuse for a company not to have an active blog.
Stop and Think Before You Start Blogging
When you blog, you need to have a purpose. For a business blog, that purpose is to attract potential customers and to keep current customers engaged. Think of your blog as a magazine that highlights your company and what you do. You are going to offer value to your customers with this blog. This means thinking more like a magazine publisher sometimes than a business owner or manager.
Choosing your words carefully is the best approach to business blogging. You have a keyword strategy in place. You are familiar with the way your customers view your company, its products, and services. You need to use your customers' language in your blog instead of industry jargon. For example, a web designer's blog would talk about new features available for customers in language they understand. It would not use technical jargon about how those features work.
Integrate Your Blog into Your Website
Many companies make the mistake of using a blog that sits on someone else's site. Instead of having a URL like Blog.MyCompany.com, they may have a URL like MyCompanyBlog.OtherSite.com that they link to from the company site, MyCompany.com. This shift of URL is a mistake. Put your blog on your site and have it use your company's domain name.
Why is this important?
Visitors are weary when one site takes them to a different domain name. Even though it would be to the company's blog, this shift can drive some visitors elsewhere.
Putting the blog on another company's site means there is a disconnect between the look and feel of your company website and the blog. That shift can turn some visitors off.
Search engines love fresh content. In order for your blog posts to count towards that fresh content, they must be on your company website.
Platforms to Consider for Your Business Blog
Popular blogging platforms include Wordpress, Typepad, Drupal, Blogger, and Posterous. All of these offer the functionality you need to run a successful business blog. Some key features included in the content management system for these platforms are:
Add content without the need for a webmaster
No need to know HTML
Schedule posts in the future
Update and edit posts on the fly
Creating a Great Blog Post
A good blog post has a few critical elements. Every one of your posts should have each and every one of these elements:
Compelling Article Title - Your title is a major deciding factor in whether someone clicks through to read the article. If your title is boring or vague, you will see very little traffic. Be compelling, clear, and specific on your topic. This attracts readers and prompts them to share with others. You want titles that also appeal to search engines. Try to use a keyword in your title for SEO purposes.
Professionally Written and Formatted Text - Your blog needs to include text which looks and reads professionally. Use header tags to break up long lengths of text. Use bullet points to create easily digested bits of information. Paragraphs should contain three to five sentences at most. Use plenty of white space in your formatting. If you are not a professional writer, consider hiring a ghostwriter instead.
Add Multimedia Content - Try to add at least one relevant piece of multimedia to each blog post. Relevant multimedia content will make your article more memorable and easier to read. It breaks up the text and makes the piece more visually appealing. You can add images, slide show presentations, videos, and infographics as features.
Add Links - Your articles should give links to relevant content. These links help your readers get more information and find other resources on the same topic. You can point to internal pages to help generate more internal traffic. You can add links to landing pages to generate leads. You can add external links to help your SEO.
Call-To-Action - Every blog post needs to have a relevant call-to-action. Calls-to-action direct your visitor to do something. It might be to a relevant eBook or white paper you will give them in exchange for their name and email address. It might be to an upcoming webinar you are holding.
What Do You Write About for Your Company Blog?
You need to start your business blog with a purpose in mind. What do you want to educate your audience about?
Do not make the mistake of using your blog to talk only about your products or services. A blog needs to give useful information to the visitor that goes beyond your products or services. You can write about common industry issues, problems your customers may be facing, and the solutions your product or service can offer to handle those problems. Your products and services get mentioned, but in the context of solving a problem.
A great way to get started blogging is to tackle common questions customers ask in your industry. You might answer one or two a week for the first ten or twelve weeks. You have set the stage for your business blog. At the end of that time, check your blog analytics to see which articles are most popular. Use those popular topics for the next series of articles.
If you are running low on ideas, consider interviewing someone important in your company. Now, if you are the owner and only employee, that is very difficult. But, if you have a head technician, or a sales manager, you have the perfect interview subject.
Always let your passion and experience shine through your blog articles. Always keep these best practices in mind.
What is the Ultimate Goal of Business Blogging?
You have a fantastic opportunity to generate leads with your business blog. A blog allows you to attract organic traffic while engaging your audience with quality content. However, the focus of your blog is always to generate leads and drive conversions. That is why all posts need a call-to-action that links to landing pages. On the landing page, you can give the visitor access to in-depth materials such as an eBook, white paper, or webinar in exchange for becoming a lead.
Your calls-to-action should appear in the post and in a sidebar to the blog. You can include CTAs with images, buttons, and text in the blog itself. Add two or three CTAs to each blog entry sprinkled from start to finish.
A CTA can include any of the following:
Downloading some content
Following the business on social media
Subscribing to the blog
Joining the newsletter.
When placing your CTAs, make sure they resonate with the content in your blog post. If your blog focuses on nutritional foods, your blog might focus on how quinoa is a great addition to a healthy diet. For the CTAs, you could encourage the reader to download a report that lists 25 other healthy additions to any diet.
Do not use too many CTAs. Too many calls-to-action will interrupt the flow of your blog. It also looks like spam and will turn visitors away.
Web Content for Marketing is More than Blog Posts
For internet marketing purposes, blogging is valuable. However, producing longer-form content is a useful lead generation activity. These can include research reports, white papers and ebooks. Adding non-text content like slide shows, videos, and webinars offer even more choices.
These longer-form content options will feed your lead generation and conversion efforts. Visitors will love the value these industry resources offer. The content can educate on basic concepts, enrich existing knowledge, or just entertain. The richness of this content is powerful. It can help achieve the information exchange of having a visitor filling out a lead capture form to get the resource. That is critical in the sales cycle.
Do not offer content randomly though. Based on marketing analytics, you need to select your rich content carefully. Reporting insights will help you select the content to get your target audience in place. Plus, on-going analytics will help you refine your offerings. For example, if more people chose to download a white paper than to view your webinar, you need to put more effort in text-based content than video-based.
Closed-loop marketing helps find the offers with the highest conversion rates and then leveraging their power appropriately.