Content marketing was crowned as king in 2012, and it continues to wield vast business influence today. Content marketing is integral to success in the current competitive marketplace. There a number of content marketing worst practices, which you and your company would be wise to avoid. Although they all have solutions or corresponding best practices, some worst practices may take more time and skill to remedy than others. According to HubSpot, companies that publish blogs attract 55% more website visitors and 97% more inbound links and generate 434% more indexed web pages than companies without blogs. Clearly, high-quality business blogging has serious value. Content marketing worst practices are poison; avoid them like the plague, and take your company to a higher level.
Keeping blogs on a separate website creates a variety of issues—the worst one being your inability to generate traffic to your main website, which adversely affects lead generation and conversion. Each new blog post creates a webpage that is indexed by search engines, so it is vital to associate your blog with your main website. You want your website's URL to be seen by those reading your blog. To follow this philosophy, your blog URL will be a subdomain of your main website (e.g., http://blog.website.com) or located in a folder of your main website (e.g., http://website.com/blog). According to HubSpot, the subdomain is more appealing, since it allows the blog to have a different layout and design than the main website, while still enhancing SEO.
The main purpose of a blog is to generate traffic to your main website and incite increased lead generation. You will not achieve this, if your blog content focuses primarily on your company's achievements, products or services. Instead, focus on being highly relevant by delivering high-impact, information-rich content—backed up with thorough research and deep industry insight—providing significant value and highlighting your company’s remarkable thought leadership. Informational and educational content is more likely to be socially curated and linked to by other content writers, which increases its capacity to reach a larger captive audience of potential new customers. As this social sharing and promoting of your ideas spreads to more bloggers, it will increase the overall respect of your expertise within your industry, thereby increasing the credibility and trust associated with your products and services.
Only blogging occasionally will not advance your business. Companies that update their blog content at least 20 times per month generate over five times more traffic than those that produce less than four blog posts per month. Furthermore, blogging at least 20 times per month nets companies four times more leads, on average, than blog-less companies.
A successful business blog requires a clear and strategic content marketing plan for everyone in the company to follow. The main website, social media marketing, press releases and email newsletters should work in tandem to convey one major message; you need to communicate the unique and valuable services and/or products your company can offer prospects—reaching them, when they are actively conducting online searches and ready to make a buying decision.
Providing high-quality CTAs will prompt action—moving prospects further down your marketing funnel toward the service or product they are looking for. Always include a CTA within your blog posts. Typically, individuals already reading your blog content are interested in receiving more free information from you. Consider providing free informational offers, such as webinars, ebooks and whitepapers. The more you can engage your prospects and clients, the more likely they are to pass your website or free offers on to their friends and colleagues, who may share an interest in your industry and be searching for similar business solutions.
Variety is critical to business blogging and content marketing. In order to keep your prospects and clients interested in reading your content, you need to cover a wide spectrum of highly relevant topics. A winning combination is fresh, valuable content topics coupled with novel content types. All content does not need to be in plain-text form; incorporate webinars, infographics, SlideShare presentations, charts, graphs and clever illustrations to prevent your business blog from going stale. In addition, publishing guest posts by industry thought leaders is a great practice, which should certainly interject some fresh insight and perspective into your company blog.
You should treat all your content marketing as a communication channel with your target audience. Always respond to comments and questions posted to your published content in a timely and friendly manner. Obviously, prompt replies are best. If you wait too long, prospects and clients could lose interest and move onto an industry competitor, and word could spread that you do not take your audience seriously—destroying future business opportunities.
Promoting your content to a wide, captive audience is the key to amplifying lead generation. Social engagement matters; you need to interact with your social following in a genuine way. Communicate with industry influencers; it will add to your online credibility and status. Klout is a great website for exploring and identifying influencers. Do not limit your company to only one social network; a presence on at least the big four social networks—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+—is essential. Share your content on syndication websites, such as Business 2 Community and Social Media Today. Get recognized as an industry thought leader by posing questions, offering solutions and delivering industry-leading content.
Resolve not to commit these worst practices; everyone will greatly appreciate it, including you. You will enjoy seriously increased reach, website traffic and lead generation and more new business. Get organized; be strategic about your content marketing.