by Matt Batterham, Browser Media
Blogging, like many other modern marketing activities, can be an effective way of promoting a business, building brand authority, communicating with customers and even helping to improve search visibility. However, like other marketing tools, you only get out what you put in. Where as an interesting, well managed blog can present many potential rewards, a bad one can be equally damaging to a business. Here are a few considerations to ensure you get the best from your blog.
What and why?
First and foremost, decide what you’re going to blog about and why you’re going to do it. Too many businesses dive head first into blogging with no clear objectives, churning out irregular content with little value. Your content should mostly reflect the goals you set for your blog, be it to boost seniority on a certain subject, share new services with customers or increase site traffic.
For example, if you’re looking to build thought leadership, a blog filled with internal company news probably won’t help. However, publishing helpful, informed content such as how-to guides, walk-throughs and opinion pieces will prove much more successful.
Creating regular, quality content is easier said than done, so start by doing some research;
- Identify common issues; identify common industry issues, misconceptions and FAQs by listening in on forum discussions, social networks and other related blogs. You will soon gauge a good understanding of the wants and needs of your target market and fellow industry professionals. Take note of these discussions and create content that provides answers.
- Scope the competition; researching your competition can be a useful way of seeing what type of content works and what doesn’t. If, for example a particular subject on their blog regularly receives lots of social interaction, take note and incorporate similar content in to your own blog.
- Comment on industry news; many blogs will simply republish news stories, but give your readers a little more to chew on by adding your own opinions and thoughts. Give your news the ‘so what?’ factor.
Who and when?
Once you have decided what you’re going to publish on your blog, you need to decide who within your business is responsible for researching, drafting and publishing that content. This is an important consideration that should be thought through, not only because you want your best writers for the job, but also because of the time requirements associated with managing it.
You may deem it necessary for multiple employees to contribute to the blog, which can be good for injecting diversity as well as spreading the work load. If this is the case, it will pay to assign one individual to the role of managing the blog to ensure consistency.
Inevitably there will be times when the flow of content is temporarily disabled, due to staff absences or holidays. To avoid the blog going completely quiet during these times, create a stash of timeless content that you can draw from when needed. How-to guides are good for this.
It also pays to create a blogging calendar, where you can plan content pieces in advance, plan time allowances and keep a record of past posts.
Be social and monitor success
One of the greatest things about a blog is the potential for social interaction. If your blog is churning out great content, readers may feel inclined to leave a comment, which can present some amazing opportunities to carry on the discussion, build relationships and further stamp your authority on any given subject. Just make sure you have the resources to respond when necessary.
A point that’s often overlooked is blog performance analysis. Using Google Analytics you can see how much traffic your blog receives, which topics drive the most traffic and which posts are falling on deaf ears. By learning which posts drive the best traffic, i.e. which blog posts lead to the most comments, onwards site exploration or conversions, you can apply findings to future posts, constantly improving the quality of your content.
The same can be applied to social media monitoring tools, with which you can track how your posts are being shared online and if and where they’re being republished.
While a well managed blog can serve as an effective multi-purpose tool, it’s no magic bullet and probably won’t solve all of you business issues over night. However, with clear objectives, the right people on the job and long-term commitment, a blog can serve as an invaluable addition to the marketing toolkit.
About the author
Matt Batterham is Senior Account Manager at Browser Media – a UK SEO agency specialising in SEO, PPC, online PR and social media.