Small wonder that 80% of North America’s B2B marketers (as surveyed by CMI and MarketingProfs) blog as part of their content marketing efforts. Blogging is inexpensive, sustainable, and fully under one’s control – and that last bit tops all others.
Like we said back when Facebook went the paid path, anchoring a content strategy to third-party applications is risky. Owned media is key to helping us, as marketers, play by our own rules. And as far as content hubs go, a blog does all a social media stream can – and more besides.
With that in mind, we’ve reached out for some tips to add an edge to your blogging.
1. Embrace a shift in thinking
One of the reasons, if not the reason, to blog is to grow an audience. Business audiences give their loyalty to sources of challenging, thought-provoking content, which means clickbait and “this just in!” posts have to give way to journalistic process.
The old ways still have their applications in some areas. People still need to be entertained and inspired (like what General Electric is doing on Tumblr). And, every now and then, they need to be reminded of what may seem patently obvious.
But to stand out, a business blog needs original, incisive thinking – and that’s why getting trained journalists on your blogging team is a great idea.
Good reporter-types ask the questions few others ask, push past the obvious, and dig up new angles (or explore familiar ones in new ways). Combine that with the fact that these angles tend to address hard truths – things every serious business reader wants to see – and the value of journalistic thinking is clear.
This is a major step towards creating content your readers find relevant. But there are others.
2. Create relevant content
For your journalists to dig deep into the tough issues, they first need to know what those issues really are. Pain points, for instance, have in many cases become so generalised and banal (like ‘complexity’, ‘scalability’, and similar one-worders), they might as well be buzzwords.
The reality on the ground is often much more nuanced. Only by talking to the people in the field can you understand these nuances, so connect your bloggers to field sales and clients to explore the drivers behind the problems and complaints. Authenticity can’t be faked – armed with these real-world examples, your bloggers have a better chance of speaking directly to readers in their pieces.
Supplement this approach with ideas and content from unlikely places – like Quora and Reddit. Quora’s Q & A collection can be a great source of inspiration for angles, while the anecdotes on Reddit may offer glimpses into what people face in markets and sectors beyond your sphere.
And when the time comes to put all those findings into words, it’s worthwhile for your bloggers to remember Seth Godin’s golden ‘write for one person’ rule.
3. Measure and adjust
Like everything else in modern marketing, a business blog needs optimising, and the only way to do that is by knowing what works.
If you’re not already measuring your blog’s performance, a plethora of analytics and marketing automation tools exist to mine data to that end (Google Analytics does this nicely, and it’s free).
Utilise them, and act on what you see. These are a few common tactics you can employ:
- Monitoring traffic to find peak periods, and increasing post frequency during those periods
- Monitoring topics, and repackaging old posts on the ones with the most traction
- Tracking traffic referrals from social media, and boosting promotion in the most active platforms
- Building a mailing list, and collating recent, high-performing posts into bulletins for syndication
Turning your blogging initiative into a newsroom may seem a tad far-fetched. But you don’t have to build the next AMEX Open Forum – you just need to keep readers coming back. Which means getting hands-on, digging for insights, and experimenting all the time.