Content Marketing Best Practices: Get More Results From Your Business Blog
is the Head of Marketing at Lean Labs. His experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.
Every day, more and more business marketers are jumping into the content marketing ring. Most likely, it's because they’ve read all the case studies on how blogs can increase sales dramatically. However, there's a big difference between committing to publish regularly and generating dynamic content that resonates with your ideal customers on an ongoing basis.
Not everyone truly "gets it."
Get More From Your Content Marketing
Many marketers are investing insufficiently in content marketing strategies that could actually bring them high ROI and make a real difference to their businesses.
Here are some tips on how to get a higher ROI from your business blog.
1. Create Content That's Interesting to Your Target Customers
It may be fun to write about what you are interested in, but that is not likely to attract new customers. If you haven’t already, define your buyer personas. Then do some research to find out what these personas care about most and what their barriers are when moving along the sales funnel.
If your buyer personas cover a broad spectrum, write different pieces of content to address the key questions of each audience member archetype for each phase of the buying process. If the personas are fairly similar to each other, each article you write should interest them all.
2. Address Prospects' Doubts
What do your customers want to know about your industry, product, or service? Talk to your company's sales managers and support team, reference social media engagement archives and use keyword research to list all of the questions that customers ask by phone, email, web or in person.
Answer each question in depth in a dedicated, helpful blog post that has a compelling hook and entertains.
3. Target Common Searches
After answering your customers' questions, choose topics based on popular searches on the web that are relevant to your brand's space. One way to do this is to use Google's Keyword Suggestion tool to find terms to target in titles. Or you can get even more thorough and use an "A to Z autosuggest scraper" tool like Übersuggest.
Consider what people searching for these terms expect to find, then provide it. When you're creating this content, do it better than anyone else.
4. Help People Find Your Content
Follow SEO best practices for onsite content, including proper coding for Title, H1, H2, Image Meta and Meta Description tags. Using a CMS where these codes are created automatically when you define your text will make this process much easier, but it's always a good idea to perform a manual review whenever publishing a new page – and to perform a complete audit periodically as well.
If you are unfamiliar with SEO, you can easily learn the basics online. Moz's "Learn" resources might be your best bet for getting started. When you're ready, you can drill down into more advanced topics like 301 redirects, canonical links and internal anchor text optimization.
5. Disarm Readers Then Really Help Them
Stop trying to sell people on your product or service with your brand blog. Instead, use your content to answer their questions and genuinely help them to make the best buying decision, even if it means some won't choose to buy from you.
You can live with the idea that some site visitors might bounce out. If they're not a good fit for your product, then just let them go. After all, you need to be forthcoming and trustworthy, so you earn the long-term trust of your prospects and customers.
6. Target Buyer Intent
Customers who already know what the best solution to their problem is and already know what type of product they're looking for will use Google differently from those at the beginning of their journey. If you are an electronics e-commerce merchant, for example, search-referred users who googled things like “best tablet,” “cost tablet,” “price tablet” are going to be the most qualified buyers; those most ready to convert on the sport.
It’s important to emphasize targeting these customers, who are simply looking for the best place to buy what they need, with content. Visitors who have revealed the intent to buy call for different tactics from the usual, education-oriented content approach. Use dedicated pages to match the search terms that these customers are using, and you’re likely to increase your sales.
4 Elements of a Perfect Blog Post
Readers appreciate easily-digestible content when they're reading online. From engaging headlines to clear calls-to-action, every piece of a blog post should improve the reader experience. The following best practices will ensure your innovative and thought-leading topic is delivered in a clear way with a solid structure that readers will appreciate.
1. INTRIGUING HEADLINES
Like all online content, a blog post has to grab a reader’s attention in a matter of seconds. Leading with a strong headline is the first step to a successful post, and to acquiring your target audience. Use action-oriented keywords to draw the reader in with a preview of the amazing content to come.
Doing this well also improves your SEO simultaneously.
Writing headlines can be tedious. And what's worse, it’s easy to slip into some sensationalism.
What’s the harm in hyping up your content a little, right?
Never forget that your audience is smart. So smart, in fact, they will not appreciate sensationalism or bait-and-switch headlines. Be creative, but forthcoming, with your headlines.
If you have 10 steps for increasing revenue, don’t try to tell someone how to become a millionaire in two weeks.
A recent article by Hubspot gave insight into the truths of psychological theories in marketing. In this case, they used Twitter engagement as the example, but the brief nature of tweets can be easily transferred to headline writing. It is definitely worthwhile to learn how cognitive dissonance headlines work compared to extrinsic motivation.
As always, test your headlines to see what works best with your particular audience.
2. A STRONG INTRODUCTION
The opening paragraph of any content piece is vital to the entire piece. If that opening paragraph doesn't inspire curiosity or emotion in the reader, most will not read the rest of the piece.
Crafting a compelling beginning to your blog posts will increase the chance your audience reads the entire post. The single, most powerful way to pull someone into your subject is by using a story or metaphor. Use a narrative to stimulate your readers’ imagination and they’ll be hooked for the rest of the piece.
This type of opening paragraph is a great way to transition into your subject matter and leave people ready for the next piece of information. If you’ve done a solid job with the headline, they should be ready to get to the meat of the post.
Be sure not to give away all of the details in the beginning, while clearly outlining what value the reader will get from the rest of the post. They’ll be more likely to continue reading if you string out valuable insights like breadcrumbs for them to follow.
3. AN INSIGHTFUL CONCLUSION
No one enjoys music that doesn't resolve. The same goes with content; it needs a powerful closing that brings home the principle or concept to a resolved end.
If you chose to open your post with a story or metaphor, as mentioned above, make sure you close the post by bringing the concept full-circle. Finish the story or reference the specific metaphor in the conclusion paragraph, giving your readers a sense of closure as they finish the piece.
Reiterate the importance of the subject matter and review the high-points you addressed in the body. If your readers are still engaged in the copy, proof that you followed these steps and wrote an excellent post, they’ll retain more of what you offered them.
Using bullets or a series with links can be impactful at the end of a post. It’s also a great way to leave your readers with more information. They’ll consider you an thought leader and come back to your blog for more resources later.
4. THE CALL TO ACTION
Now that you’ve given your readers an amazing, educational experience, it’s time to capitalize on the momentum. A strong call to action, or CTA, is important to the functionality of blog content. You’ve engaged your target audience with quality content, now you need to give them their marching orders.
What do they do next?
Make it clear the steps your readers should take. If you want them to download a free ebook on the same topic, tell them to download it. If you want them to sign up for your newsletter so these kinds of post are delivered to their inbox, spell it out.
It’s very likely they will not complete the call to action if it’s not plain and simple.
Ask for small steps that don’t take much time. Your reader just gave you precious moments of his or her day, so don’t expect them to stick around too much longer. If you ask them nicely to perform one or two actions that have an obvious benefit for them, you’ll get conversions.
Blogging Offers Major ROI Potential
By putting your prospective customers at the center of your content generation strategy, your article pages will be more likely to resonate with them and keep them coming back for more as they move along the buyer's journey. Branded content can even help to close sales, if you can create the right pages shrewdly get them in front of the right eyes at the right moment.
Just keep churning out those killer posts, and over time, you're likely to notice some considerable impact on your revenues as a direct result of your publishing efforts.