Today’s consumers expect to be educated before they buy. Education-based marketing is not new, but today, it's almost a non-negotiable for businesses of all sizes, and in all industries. And one of the best ways to educate and build authority in the marketplace is to have a solid blogging strategy in place.
In fact, according to a recent inbound marketing report, nearly 80% of companies which use blogging as part of their marketing strategy report acquiring customers through their blogging efforts. Additionally, 82% of businesses admit that blogging is now critical to their business.
But blogging, like any business activity, needs to have both a purpose and a plan to ensure that you're getting the best results from the time and resources invested. This means having a blogging strategy that's focused on achieving your desired business goals.
A blogging strategy is a comprehensive plan which outlines the essential steps you need to follow when creating your blog and any blog post. Those steps may include:
- Defining your goals
- Developing your buyer personas
- Analyzing your competition
- Developing a keyword strategy
- Creating a content calendar
- Determining the channels you’ll use to promote your blog
Failure to create a strategy, or follow it, can lead to a variety of critical issues, all of which will waste your time and resources.
For example, if you write a blog post without doing any keyword research, your post will likely get lost in the sea of Google and Bing search results, getting limited, if any, views from your target audience. Having a blogging strategy, and planning out a blog calendar in advance, will ensure that you post strategically - and never run out of content ideas to write about.
When you invest time and resources into a blog, you also want to ensure that your blog posts are being read and shared by your ideal clients. If no one is finding, reading or sharing your blog posts, you might as well not bother writing them.
Understanding the value of blogging, and its specific business benefits, is essential to helping you stay committed to the process.
In this post, I'll outline five specific benefits a solid blogging strategy will give your business, along with an action tip for each one.
1. Blogging can help you build your brand
Blogging provides your business with two key benefits. It enables you to:
- Develop your brand
- Create more brand awareness.
Many businesses write blog posts without a schedule or plan, posting randomly. That approach will not be nearly as effective, nor cohesive as it would be if you took the time to create a blogging strategy. Having a blogging strategy will help you stay organized and consistent, helping you create a powerful and unified brand image.
By having this singular, powerful brand image, you’ll make clear to your ideal clients:
- Who you are
- What you stand for
- Whom you help
In your strategy, you can identify when and how you want to incorporate these key points into your content, ensuring that your readers can quickly recognize how you could potentially help them with one of their key challenges.
When planning your blog content in your blogging strategy, include the following types of stories:
- Humanizing stories about your brand, so that your ideal clients can emotionally connect with them
- Success stories about your clients, so that your ideal clients can imagine themselves achieving that same success.
2. Blogging will increase your authority and build thought leadership
Blogging done correctly can also help you establish authority on your focus topic/s, increasing a sense of trust your readers feel toward your brand. That will also help you with your broader business goals, because people buy from people they know, like and trust.
You can blog on all kinds of topics related to your industry, but if your posts don’t address the key needs or challenges of your ideal clients - using the language that they commonly use - they won't resonate with your ideal clients. Nor will your posts prompt them to reach out to you for a solution to their problem/challenge.
Solving the challenges of your ideal clients through high-quality content will increase your authority, and perhaps even position you as an influencer in your industry.
Your blogging strategy should include a detailed list of the questions your prospects and clients regularly ask you. Every one of those questions is a potential blog post. Also, pay attention to the questions being asked by your target market on social media platforms and forums.
Use each of these topics in your blogging strategy to create your content calendar, and you'll find that your ideal clients are more eager to read what you write because they derive value from it.
3. Blogging results in increased traffic from search engines
While you can increase traffic to your blog in a number of ways, you cannot overlook the value of organic traffic – traffic you get from search engine results.
Showing up organically on the first page of the search engine results, for the topics your ideal clients search for, will create a strong, positive impression in their minds, and can greatly increase the number of people reading your blog.
Without SEO, you could be losing thousands, or even tens of thousands, of eyeballs on your content. With all the information out there competing for readers’ attention, it is vital your posts show up high in the search engine results.
When you create new content, search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, will crawl your site to index this fresh content. The best way to achieve better results in search engines is to purposefully incorporate search engine optimization into your blogging strategy.
This means pre-planning the keyword phrase each post will focus on, adding appropriate headers, sub-headers, tags, internal and external links and optimizing your site for mobile.
4. Blogging can help you develop an engaged community
Your blog content enables you to facilitate important discussions in your industry, and build a community of people interested by, and engaged with, your posts. These discussions can help you shape the future of your business - by communicating with your target market, listening to what they want and need, and providing high-quality content for them, you will encourage them to keep engaging with you.
To achieve that level of engagement, you have to employ a strategic and intentional approach to blogging. When creating your blogging strategy, include content that will foster valuable discussions about current or ongoing issues within your industry, as well as any new or growing trends.
When discussing these issues or trends, give your perspective. Remember, your ideal clients can find coverage of these topics in many places online - what makes your content unique is your perspective on the topic.
When people align with your point of view, they'll not only read everything that you create, but they'll share it too.
While sharing your perspective in a blog post, you also want to encourage discussion on the topic, whether that's directly on your site or when shared on social platforms.
When you share your content on social media, invite your readers to add their own views to get the discussion going in the comment sections of your social channels.
5. Strategic blogging will generate organic leads for your business
Perhaps one of the most rewarding benefits of having a well thought out blogging strategy is conversion of your web traffic into leads.
These are qualified leads, with whom you've built some trust and authority through the content you've shared, and who know who you are, whom you help and what you offer.
That’s why all good blogging strategies should include the creation of one or more lead magnets.
A lead magnet provides value through content, solving a very specific problem in exchange for an opt-in (being added to your email list).
When you identify a common issue your ideal clients struggle with, use it to create a more detailed piece of educational content in the form of a lead magnet.
Once you have one or more lead magnets, you can use a number of strategies to convert your blog readers into leads. Keep in mind, your lead magnet must:
- Be interesting enough for someone to give up their email address for
- Be something that can be consumed quickly or easily
- Not be self-serving (gone are the days of people opting into a lead magnet called "5 Ways to Choose the Right Digital Marketing Expert" – or any other profession, niche or industry)
When you provide significant value in a blog post, you can add a related call to action at the end of that post.
This shouldn't feel like a hard sell, but rather, it should feel like an invitation for them to continue their learning journey on this topic.
If you did a good job introducing the topic and providing value, many readers will be inclined to learn more from you and investigate your offer.
Here are some other ways you can offer your lead magnets on your blog:
- Display it on a sidebar banner
- Display it in a popup
- Display it on a banner below your blog post
- Display it in a bar at the top of the screen
- Include it in a short paragraph at the bottom of your blog post
Your lead magnet, and the way that it's offered, should look and feel professional. You're asking your ideal clients to trust you with their email addresses – make sure you show them you are worthy of that trust.
The results of your blogging strategy will come from action and consistency
It's great to have a blogging strategy for your business, but simply having one in place is not enough.
The business benefits of blogging are immense for those who do it strategically and consistently. The most important part of any blogging strategy is to put it into action, and keep your process on track.
A version of this post was first published on the Top Dog Social Media blog.