Your blog is the centrepiece of a well constructed content and lead-generation strategy, but making the most of it involves more than dashing off the occasional article and posting it online. True content marketing success requires focus, consistency, and an eye towards what's really important for your audience.
Truthfully, What Is a Blog Really for?
In the world of old-school online marketing, blogs were typically thought of as a medium for posting search-optimized articles on the web. Certainly, a healthy blog can help your search visibility, but focusing on keywords and rankings completely misses the point.
Ideally, your blog should be a place where you share advice, ideas, and actionable thoughts with your customers and prospects. Each post should enhance your credibility and get buyers thinking. If your posts are consistent and insightful, readers will keep coming back again and again. Trying to "sell" to customers or improve your search engine rankings should be secondary goals; your blog needs to be engagement-oriented, not just another marketing platform.
Creating an Editorial Calendar
Because your blog is an important hub of information, and not a random collection of thoughts, it's a good idea to work from an editorial calendar that ensures your messaging stays on track. (Editorial calendars are also useful for avoiding writer's block.)
To formulate your ideas into a cohesive content marketing plan you can follow, consider using Kayak's editorial calendar toolset. It makes the process of planning future posts, and finding ways for them to work together, simple and straightforward.
No matter how you plan your posts, however, don't work without a calendar of some sort. Otherwise, it's only a matter of time before your blog starts to "drift" between one train of thought and another, or you begin to procrastinate when it comes to developing new content.
Writing, Developing, and Posting Blog Articles
Developing strong blog content is at the same time the most challenging and important part of the process. If your blog isn't updated often, or doesn't have articles that interest readers and set you apart from your competitors, then it won't have value to you or the customers you're trying to attract.
Luckily, content marketing is a skill that you can master with practice. Let's take a quick look at the key parts of your blog and what you need to remember about them:
- Topics - The best blog topics come from knowing what your readers are thinking and talking about. Rather than focusing on what you want to sell, pay attention to the issues that are on their minds. Get out there and talk with them.
- Titles - Ideally, the title of your blog post should contain an important search phrase. Just as important, however, is that it serves as an invitation to readers. Give them something that makes them so curious that they just have to read your post. Ask a question, share a list.
- Outlining - Writing from scratch is challenging, even for marketers who post material every day. To avoid writer's block (and rambling in your posts), many bloggers form an outline with key ideas before attempting to craft a new piece of blog content.
- Writing your post - Let the ideas flow. Don't censor yourself; instead, write what comes to mind until you are out of thoughts and inspirations. Then edit - or better yet, have someone else edit.
To make writing easier, and better connect with your core audience, keep your key personas in mind. Use language, definitions, and descriptions that would make sense to your most important customers and/or influencers.
- Editing your work - Most business people don't write clearly or cleanly on the first pass. Edit your post by cleaning up grammatical errors, consolidating ideas, re-wording unclear sections, and removing anything that seems extraneous. Don't stop until you feel your post is as crisp and clean as it possibly can be.
Posting Your Blogs Online
Once your blog posts read the way you would like them to, you're ready to prepare them to be published.
You can begin by formatting the post itself. That means ensuring that important search terms have been used once or twice (ideally in a title or subheading), that you don't have long, unbroken blocks of text, and that you've used at least one or two internal links that take a reader further into your website. Always add a call to action at the end of your post, so that interested viewers can download a related e-book, sign up for your newsletter, etc. Always keep CTAs relevant.
It's very important to pair your messaging with the right visuals. Often, this will involve choosing a photo to accompany your post. Don't settle for the first stock photo you find - choose one that goes along with your thoughts in a creative way, and then consider cropping it, adding your logo, and otherwise branding the image to fit the rest of your post.
Next, write a short (meta) description (100 characters or less is smart) that describes the content in your blog post. This may be seen by searchers who come across your article on search engines. Use it to attract the searcher to your post.
Give your blog post one last look before posting. Once you've scheduled it to go live, remember to share the piece with your social contacts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google + to start. You want to make it as easy as potential for readers to find your content.
Using Your Blog as a Relationship-Generating Tool
Your blog is only useful if it helps you attract more readers and engage them. Posting the occasional bland article isn't going to move you closer to that goal.
For blogging to work as part of a lead-generation system, your content needs to be targeted, insightful, and consistent. You have to be a continual source of new ideas and industry news. Also, your articles need to be formatted and promoted in the right way.
Using an editorial calendar and the tips presented in our training, you'll be able to turn your blog into something that makes an impact with readers and prospects. Just remember that engagement and thought leadership are critical and that you need to keep it going. Blogging isn't a project, it's a staple.
This post was originally published on the Kayak Online Marketing blog