There's a lot of ways to write a blog post.
Sites like Buzzfeed are famous for their “listicles,” discussing everything from pop culture to politics. The team at TechCrunch writes excellent reviews about technology, and ProBlogger provides great how-to’s about content.
Companies looking to diversify their blogging methods can take a lot of cues from these examples.
While the content of these posts is very different, the formats can be easily repurposed. The listicle, the review, and the how-to are amongst many blog post templates that a lot of brands utilize. These varying formats can provide much-needed variety within any blogging strategy.
The Value of Using More Than One Blog Post Template
While a lot of brands prioritize the frequency or extensive subject matter they cover, another crucial component of any content strategy needs to be variance. When your posts follow the same structure, potential customers will quickly tire of your content.
That's why even if you're covering a niche topic, again and again, you need to find ways to mix it up. And you should. Here's every blog post template that we use internally for our content, and the benefits and approaches for each one.
During a customer buying journey, potential customers are assessing a lot of options. They're searching online to buy something or invest in a service, and collecting a lot of information in the process. With the right content, you can gain their trust while providing a ton of value. This is where a comparison post is incredibly useful.
The comparison post effectively positions one product or service against another. An exceptional example is HubSpot's How are HubSpot and Marketo different? In the post, HubSpot compares its own product to a top competitor, Marketo.
There are a few key components HubSpot used to write the comparison piece, including:
Statistics: The team at HubSpot believes they have a superior product, but they avoid coming out and saying it. Instead, they include bits of data from comparison sites such as G2Crowd, such as HubSpot being the top-ranked marketing automation tool by consumers.
Top Features: HubSpot uses one of its top features, being a fully integrated platform, to contrast the challenges Marketo users experience. The comparison contrasts HubSpot's strengths against Marketo's weaknesses without explicitly saying it.
External Proof: In addition to the stats from review sites, HubSpot also provides a report from VentureBeat. The piece identifies the HubSpot platform as one of the top 10 marketing automation platforms. This helps add authenticity to HubSpot's value from a trusted third-party.
The Methodology: HubSpot gets into the mind of their persona by adding information about The Inbound Marketing Methodology. For their ideal customer, inbound marketing may still be new, and this helps connect the dots between the concept and HubSpot's features.
Additional Resources: Aside from all of the information they've already offered, HubSpot also provides links to additional resources such as case studies, a comparison by TrustRadius, and ebooks.
The key takeaway? Rather than being too self-promotional in a post, brands can demonstrate the benefits of products or services by making fair comparisons based on facts.
Listicles are one of the most popular forms of content, putting sites like Buzzfeed and Mashable on the map. Why? Because lists are easy to read and provide readers with a clear expectation of what they'll get. A title such as The 101 Best Podcasts For 2018 is obvious on what the article entails, and provides them with an array of resources or ideas.
Here's a few steps popular listicle topics to start out with, using the keyword "project management software" as an example:
- X Tips To Choosing Project Management Software
- The X Best Project Management Software For 2018
- The X Things To Know About Choosing Project Management Software
- The X Features of Top Project Management Software
- X Steps To Finding Project Management Software
- The Top 10 Project Management Software for Increased Productivity
- X Free Project Management Software Tools
- X Examples of Great Project Management Software
Want to really go above and beyond? Provide more items than anyone else.
Does your competitor list out the top 10 tools for startups to use in 2018? Come up with 20.
While you still want to provide quality, providing more context will increase your word count and provide additional resources to your reader.
A review post is an overview of a product or service, with candid thoughts about the pros and cons of each item. Review posts are great because they offer authenticity, with actual opinions and personal expertise rather than just facts or statistics. TechCrunch consistently produces reviews about the latest tech products and software, covering everything from video editing software to the most recent Nintendo.
In a review of Moment iPhoneX lenses, TechCrunch does a few things very well to show all of the benefits of the product:
- Showing conflict: Why would anyone need a camera lens for the iPhoneX lens, TechCrunch asks? To cut down on cumbersome camera equipment. One of the most important things to cover in a review post is the conflict or friction of a current problem, in order to effectively present your product or service as the best solution.
- Brief background: In their reviews, TechCrunch is great at providing some context to whatever you're reviewing. Even if you've never heard of Moment lenses, the author covers what they are, how the company started, and the various types of lenses in a few brief sentences.
- Ease of use: Regardless of what you're reviewing, readers want to know how easy it is to utilize. The author of this particular TC article does a great job of describing the aesthetics of the lens, painting a really accurate portrait of the look and feel of the lenses.
- Photos: For products, high-resolution photos are great to include in reviews. For software, screenshots will suffice. Useful photos that demonstrate the capabilities of the item will help readers understand their potential value.
Additionally, brands can leverage buzz about relevant products or services within their industry to drive traffic back to their blog.
A "How To" post is simple. Using a "How To" post, brands can educate readers and teach them a new skill. Not only does this benefit the customer, it helps the brand build authority and trust with their audience. Social Media Examiner, a great resource for all things social, has a few "How To" articles that do this exceptionally well, such as How To Retarget People Who Click On Curated Content.
There are a few best practices that every great "How To" post follows, including:
Making steps straightforward and concise: The step by step process within your "How To" post must be simple and easy to follow. Otherwise, you risk confusing your reader.
Providing resources and tools: Customers don't know what they don't know. As a result, any tools you use to accomplish the same task could be very beneficial for your reader as well. For instance, Social Media Examiner included Meteor.link, a pixel placement service, to cater specifically to the readers trying to master content retargeting.
Include screenshots to support steps: By providing screenshots, brands can make it easier for customers to work through a process. Some readers may be more visual, and require a little extra support and guidance with images.
Over-explaining: In their "How To" post, Social Media Examiner gave very precise directions on how to conduct retargeting. For readers that are completely new to whatever process you're walking them through, more information is typically better.
To choose the right topic for a "How To" post, brands can rely on buyer personas to determine where your ideal customers might need help or learning. Additionally, forums such as Quora can be a great resource in finding subjects that customers are asking questions about.
The Skyscraper technique is a tactic to get backlinks and make better content. Coined by Brian Dean, the Skyscraper technique is great for teams looking to achieve better search rank and gain more exposure for their content. Many marketers have tried the Skyscraper technique, with varying results.
Based on our experience, here are the steps to creating a great Skyscraper post.
Choose the right keyword: Conduct competitive keyword research, and find keyword opportunities with low to medium competition.
Form the best headline: You want something that's attention-grabbing and unique. The whole goal of a Skyscraper post is to create the best content you possibly can, so spend some time crafting a headline that's eye-catching.
Do some Google research: Google your headline, google your keyword. Find similar articles on the same topic, and analyze the quality. Write a better post. It's that simple. The goal of Skyscraper content is to create a better piece of content than what you find online.
What is __?
The "What is" blog post accomplishes two things: it defines a methodology, industry term, or trend, and presents a definition. Marketers can also add some context to the definition, with a piece such as What Is Digital Marketing?. Not only does the post answer the what, it goes into more depth and provides some background.
Alternatively, the "What is" post could be a question to make the reader think, such as What Is Your Most Urgent and Important Work? Either way, it's an effective post for hooking the reader and engaging them in topics that they're already searching for.
How Much Does __ Cost?
Two of our top ten posts cover topics around cost. Why? Because they're really effective. When users start with a new methodology, such as inbound marketing, they're interested in knowing all of the tools, resources, and costs that go into executing a strategy.
We developed two separate pieces of content, How Much Does Inbound Marketing Cost? and How Much Does Growth Driven Design Cost? that each break down the expenses around two of our core competencies, explaining:
We always recommend a few tools to use on our cost posts. In these particular blog posts, we explain the reason behind the more costly resources. For example, we use HubSpot religiously, but it's not cheap. In this instance, the tool is completely worth it and makes up in ROI in the long-term.
If the topic you're covering requires manpower, cost needs to be considered and explained. How many team members are needed to carry through a new initiative, and what do their areas of expertise need to be? Do you need to hire more team members? These are all important aspects of pricing that a lot of companies don't consider.
Depending on the topic, time also needs to be a part of budget planning. How long will it take to accomplish a specific goal? In our growth driven design example, we walk through the risks of not investing that time in a new website, which is an important consideration for brands to make.
Cost of success
What are your reader's goals? What will it actually take to accomplish them? Realistically, if it would take one of our potential customers 10k to execute our recommended inbound marketing strategy and double their leads per month, and they didn't have 10k to spend, that would be something to explain up front.
Using A Blog Post Template
Using all of these tactics, you can incrementally increase blog traffic. Sure, it's possible for a post to go viral in a short period, but the average blog post will take time and patience before it's bringing in a significant amount of traffic. Anyone invested in long-term blogging should apply that mindset when promoting posts and optimizing for SEO. These practices will take time but will benefit you in the long-term.
Increasing blog traffic is an ongoing process that should be a part of a larger inbound plan. When your blogging initiative is a link in a bigger chain, you're much more likely to drive better results and attract more qualified leads. For teams looking to build that kind of overarching marketing strategy, we can help. Check out our exclusive Game Plan offer. If we're a fit, we can discuss your goals and objectives and figure out next steps to get you on the right track.