Blogging and content marketing are hot digital buzzwords these days for good reason: “92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog.” (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)
Now that you’ve decided to go ahead with the process, you’ll need to take the necessary steps forward to ensure that you’re getting the most from your content and community.
1. Determine your purpose. The first step in creating your company blog is to determine why you have it — to educate customers, attract potential customers, share company information, sell more, etc. These are all valid reasons, and likely more than one of these describe your intentions. Those ones will dictate the kind of content you read, where you share it, etc.
2. Design navigation around your ultimate call to action: selling. Ultimately, you want your customers to buy or give you their e-mail addresses, so be sure your navigation is always supporting the purchasing process — ads for your products, links to buy, easy navigation to input credit card information, etc.
3. Brand your design. Every bit of your online presence should be branded, therefore making you noticeable. Be sure your logo is somewhere in the header, there are links back to your home page, and the coluor scheme supports your overall look.
4. Formulate a content calendar. A blog needs content, and for a business new to curating blog posts this frequently, it’s imperative you create a content calendar. Not only does this keep you focused on churning out new content, but you can use it to collaborate with sales. Coordinate blog posts with promoted products or promotions.
5. Create 10 evergreen pieces. As you start gaining readers, you’ll want to have 10 evergreen pieces. Evergreen pieces are those which will always be educational, beneficial and relevant. Create five of these before taking your blog public to ensure you have plenty of content for readers as they trickle in.
6. Repurpose other content. Feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of creating all this content? Look to your whitepapers, newsletters and any other content you’ve already produced, and consider how you can repurpose it into a blog post, graphic or infographic.
7. Get social. The most important aspect of your blog is to be sure it’s sharable — while creating awesome content is an integral part of that, no one will share if you don’t give them the resources to do so. You should have sharing buttons at the top of your content, at the bottom and on the side. I find a sliding social plugin for the side works best.
8. Encourage engagement. Other than sharing, you want readers to engage with your content via comments. You have the opportunity to build up your community of readers and customers; this will give them a reason to come back and be invested in the content.
9. Invite your readers. Once you’ve got all the pieces in place, you can invite your readers to come check it out. Share via social networks where you have a strong following and good relationships.
10. Invite your customers. Finally, you want to invite your customers. The best way to do this is to share it via e-mail blasts — introduce the blog in the first one, and then be sure to include a link to various blog posts or the blog in general within each newsletter. It is recommended that you link to the blog from your home page, as well.
Blogging is a great way to provide value to your current customers and invite the casual reader to become a customer, as well. With so many blogs out there, be sure yours is focused on the call to action, has been well-branded, and is ready for your eager readers.