For marketers who manage every detail of their promotional calendar, they often blog by the seat of their pants and then wonder why it doesn't yield results. Your company blog isn't just another must-have item on your marketing list; it's an important driver of improved branding, expanded reach, supported sales, and reduced marketing costs. Of course, the key is how well you execute your blogging tactics to support your business goals.
Know your audience. Bear in mind that your blogging audience may be broader than your prospect and customer base since it includes product users, other decision makers, influencers, and the public in general. (Don't forget your competitors are reading too!) To this end, it's useful to create marketing personas to ensure you're meeting your audience's information needs.
Optimize your keywords. Part of the strength of your blog is its ability to support your search optimization by focusing each post on one keyword. To this end, your blog should be integrated into your website and be interlinked with relevant product. This is a cost-effective way to support your firm's search efforts. (For more information on search engine optimization, read our sister publication Search Engine Watch.)
Plan your blog content. Before you dive into your blog, decide how your blog's content is going to support your business goals and purchase process. The goal is to ensure you cover the topics relevant to the purchase cycle for your products and provide focused content for your core keywords. To this end, use an editorial calendar to keep blog content on track. Remember, you need to mix up your content to keep it interesting.
Help, don't promote. While it's tempting to use every communications platform for product promotion, for social media, which blogs are, this doesn't work. If all your blog does is shout, "buy, buy, buy," your blog will turn your readers off.
Be a person. As a form of social media, your blog must sound like a living, breathing person or people, not a page of corporate gobbledygook. Therefore, create content that entertains and solves readers' problems with how-to's and recipes. Determine how you're going to present your writer(s).
Curate content. To extend your marketing resources, use other sources of content such as a news roundup where you select the important news for your audience and add commentary, guest posts by either paid outsiders or your customers, and customer galleries where readers show off their stuff. Used effectively, curation can help improve reader engagement. It doesn't mean taking other online content without permission. Remember, online content has IP rights associated with it.
Get everyone on board. Use your blog to get support across your organization. Allow everyone in your organization to be an expert. For example, J&O Fabrics requires all employees to blog. If you ask your employees to blog, then it's critical to have a professional editor to overcome employee fears about writing and ensure that the content is in good English. Remember, your blog reflects on and builds your brand!
Build your email list. Since an email housefile is at the core of every marketer's plans, leverage your blog to build your database cost-effectively. It takes more than a small button that few readers see to accomplish this. Think through how you're going to drive sign-ups and how you're going to provide value for these readers. Given that they came in via your blog, a straight diet of promotions isn't going to cut it!
Go mobile. With the expanded use of smartphones and iPads (aka tablets), have a strategy to provide optimized content on these platforms. Readers tend to consume a lot of content on-the-go. Make sure that your blog is mobile-friendly and has a related mobile website.
Get out and engage. As digital marketers, we spend much of our time online and assume that our readers and customers do as well. Plan to meet your audience in real life. There's no better way to build relationships than to shake hands and engage with real people. This can be a very powerful tool to create related events that build your brand, engagement, and sales.
Apply these tactics to your blog marketing to improve its ability to yield measurable results. Understand that blogging is a long-term strategy that requires ongoing effort to support achieving your business goals.
Are there any other suggestions that you'd add to this list? If so, please include them in the comment section below.
Heidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies, an interactive marketing consultancy. She has over 20 years' experience helping clients increase profitability by developing innovative marketing programs to acquire and retain customers based on solid analytics. Clients include New York Times Digital, AccuWeather.com, CheapTickets, and the UJA. Additionally, Riverside Marketing Strategies has worked with numerous other online content/media companies and e-tailers.
Prior to starting Riverside Marketing Strategies, Heidi held a number of senior-level marketing positions at The Economist, the Bookspan/Doubleday Direct division of Bertelsmann, and Citibank.