Written in the right way, blogging can be a very powerful tool for your business, helping to showcase your skills/knowledge in a particular area, demonstrating that you empathise with your target audience, providing insight into all the exciting activity that’s going on in the company, and creating inbound leads for your sales pipeline.
It’s tempting to jump straight into writing, essentially throwing up your words all over the page. But before you put pen to paper (of fingers to keys), take a moment to think about the following…
Set the overall goal
There’s no point in writing content for the sake of it. The best blogs create value for your customers, while supporting your overall business strategy. So think about what value you want your blog to deliver to your business.
- Raise your brand awareness
- Boost your SEO
- Start conversions with new leads
- Establish trust with prospects
- Position you as a thought leader
Decide what to write about
The hard reality is that your customers/prospects really don’t care about you – it’s all about them. So with every piece of content you produce for your blog, think about whether it’s interesting, relevant and compelling for them.
It’s time to put on your creative hat and step into your customer’s/prospect’s shoes. Ask yourself:
- What information would they find useful?
- What do they need to help them move to the next step in the sales cycle?
- How can you help them get the most from your product/service?
- How can you make their lives easier? Or their job simpler?
- And what can you do that’s fun to show off your personality?
Then look around for inspiration. See what your competitors are talking about, the industry analysts, the media and industry associations. Check out social media, ask your sales team, ask your colleagues…maybe even ask your customers what they want to hear about!
Keep a note of all your ideas and keep adding to it. Then start to structure it, for example:
- A day in the life of…
- 10 ways to…
- How to….
- Problem solving (can be more technical)
- What does xx mean for xx?
- Motivations for a career in [your industry]
- Case studies
- Launching a survey / survey results
- Response to industry trends
- New applications / functionality
Create a content calendar
The key with blogging is to make a commitment, and stick to it. If you say you’re going to post content every month, every week, every day, over time your customers/prospects will come to expect it – so you better deliver.
There’s nothing worse than visiting a blog and seeing the most recent post is from several months ago. What message is that sending?
Structure it right
Start with an attention-grabbing title and a killer opening paragraph, so they’re hooked from the outset.
Make this the last thing you write – it’s a lot easier to think of the words once you’ve created the main body of the copy.
The best B2B bloggers write with empathy, addressing their audiences’ pain points and sharing how to overcome their challenges. They chuck all the business cliques, industry jargon and technobabble in the bin and speak to the audience in simple language that they connect with.
With each blog, think about the story you want to tell your audience. As a rule of thumb, I use the following structure:
- Anticipated outcome
- Solution overview
Then think about adding informative subheadings to guide the reader through. Subheadings are also important because they ensure that if someone is skim-reading the piece, they still gain value from your blog and take away the key messages. Plus they’re an opportunity to boost your natural search engine optimisation (SEO).
If you’re looking to share large quantities of information, consider using bullet points or lists to make this information easier to consume.
And then once got your first draft down, it’s time to review, review, review…..and review. The secret to reviewing is to look for something different every time:
- The first couple of passes should focus on the main body of the content, ensuring you stay on topic throughout, the key messages are clear, it has flow and is well-written.
- Then review your research, checking sources, surveys and quotations.
- Review for structure.
- Review for keywords to boost your SEO and aid with organic search results.
- And finally, the all-important SPAG – spelling, punctuation and grammar.
The best format
The beauty of the blog is that it can be whatever you want it to be, you’re not forced to stick to a specific length. So think about mixing some short, sharp pieces (500 words), with longer form copy (1,500+ words).
Once you’ve got the words down, it’s time to think about the pictures. Blogs with no images look dull. Add visual interest to your blog through:
- Header images
- Word clouds
- ‘Box-out’ sections
Time to post
Congratulations! You’ve finished your blog. Time to proudly publish it to your website for the world to see, before sticking your feet up to enjoy a nice cup of tea.
Posting your content online is just the first step. Once you’ve published your blog people don’t automatically know to go and read it on your website, they need to be told it’s there and pushed to go and read it. Think about ways to promote your new blog, for example:
- Through your social media channels
- Through other people’s social media channels
- Through groups/associations you’re a member of
- Advertising, such as Google Adwords, promoted Tweets, sponsored content
- Email signature
- Email marketing
Commit to your content
Creating engaging blog content is a real commitment – and the more you put in, the more your get out.
If you’re looking for a constant drip of leads into your sales pipeline, then you need to feed your content engine with a steady stream of interesting and useful blogs.