A Guide To Making Your Corporate Blog Relevant

What’s your favorite piece of social media real estate? A Twitter or Facebook profile?

Although those are great, the very first thing I would start with is a blog. Why? Because companies that blog typically have 97% more inbound links than those that don’t, which means more search engine traffic.

And the stats get even better from there…

  • 61% of consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post that they read.
  • 60% of consumers feel positive about a company after reading its blog.
  • 70% of consumers learn about a company through its blog versus ads.

If those stats don’t convince you to start a corporate blog, maybe this infographic will.

why every business should blog

No matter what kind of a business you have, or how small or large your business might be, having a blog for your business helps you stay in touch with your customers.

A blog will draw your prospects closer because they can learn about your business and what you sell. Blogs help build customer loyalty, and they also help you create a personal relationship with your customers.

But that’s where things get a little tricky.

Because you’re writing directly to your customers and letting them have a conversation with you, while doing it in a way that markets your business, you can’t follow the same rules that apply to people who have personal blogs.

You need to be careful about the advice you follow on “how to blog” because that information isn’t always applicable to business blogging. Most of it is written by people and for people with personal blogs – they have much more leniency about what they post and how they post it.

If you’re here to do business, then you’ll have to blog a little differently.

For example, many bloggers tell heartfelt, personal stories infused with emotion, but that’s not going to work for you if you’re looking to improve your bottom line. You can’t write your opinion on controversial topics or vent in a rant on a matter that made you angry. You might end up hurting your sales if you did.

You also have to be careful about how much personality you pour into posts. Some bloggers curse like sailors or fling sassy remarks about, and that works for them because they’re not running a mid-sized business or a large corporation. Imagine if the CEO of Nike began swearing avidly on his website! Would that make you want to buy some running shoes? Probably not.

The point is when you own a business blog, you can’t play by the same rules as other bloggers do. You have to be more careful about presenting your words in a way that leaves a good impression with customers and potential clients and that helps you use your blog to market your business.

Here are 35 tips to help you do just that:

1. Never write about problematic clients

Writing about customers who skipped out on a payment or who were rude to your staff with the intention of being ‘helpful’ to your readers actually sends a message to potential customers that you’re not on their side or willing to do what it takes to create satisfied customers.

Plus, would you work with a company that may badmouth you? Or, even worse, your business? Businesses don’t like negative PR, so don’t make yourself look like a drama queen.

2. Always sound successful

I’ve seen some business owners blog about their quarterly losses and the economic crunch they feel. That just lets potential customers know that your business isn’t doing well and that they might be better off working with your competition.

And even if you were doing financially well, why on earth would you publish how much money you’re making? It makes you look dumb because all you’ll be asking for is more competitors. In case you didin’t know – where there is money to be made, businesses will flock.

3. Be careful with controversial subjects

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Avoid sensitive topics, like sex and religion, but also stay away from sharing opinions or personal stances on potentially inflammatory topics like recent laws or industry practices. The old saying stands: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

And if you happen to write about something controversial, make sure you have facts to back up your claims and try not to let your emotions get in the way.

4. Show values

Talking about the values your business supports or upholds is a good idea. If you believe business should be ethical, transparent and environmentally conscious, then certainly post about that – but do so in passing, and be careful with your thoughts. Downplay hard stances or strong opinions, and never speak ill of the competition.

One of the best places you can show the values your company believes in is your About page. And don’t do this in a boasting fashion, but instead do it by talking about the problems you can solve for your potential customers.

For example, if I were Southwest Airlines and had a blog, I would talk about how we believe in going the extra mile to help family members have a great experience. I would blog about all the little things that make this possible such as preferred seating for families. When you have a family, traveling isn’t easy. Because Southwest doesn’t have assigned seating, a lot of families may decide to not book a flight with them, but that could change if people knew about the preferred seating for families.

5. Don’t write for yourself

In business blogging, you’re always writing for your customers first and your business second. Your personal needs have to come way down on your list of priorities. Remember that your goal is to get sales, draw in new clientèle, and boost business by informing readers, not sharing warm fuzzies.

As you start blogging, you’ll notice that when you blog about things that help your customers, you’ll get more of them. And when you blog about how cool your company is, you won’t get any new customers.

6. Put your blog in its place

My first blog was an online marketing blog, and I made the mistake of using it as a landing page. That meant visitors would land on the blog and think, “Oh, free tips on marketing. Great!” I would have had them rather think, “Here’s an online marketing consultant I can hire.”

A blog is an add-on feature, and you should treat it as such. Marketing your blog and your business is just spreading yourself thin. You need one brand, not two separate brands. Having more than one will create confusion.

7. Remember your purpose

A business blog has one main goal: to get customers and sales. Blog about your products, your services, case studies, satisfied customer stories, specials, promotions, new releases, etc. Your blog is a marketing tool for your business, so go ahead and promote it in your posts.

8. Don’t be boring

Having a business blog doesn’t mean you need to be stiff. It’s okay to connect with potential customers on a personal level. Just be sensible about sharing, maintain a good balance of business information and personality, and shy away from writing whole posts about your kids or your favorite sport.

9. Try not to give away the farm

Blogs make it easy for people to pour out tons of free information, but free doesn’t make your business more money. Give away just enough information to demonstrate your knowledge and credibility to your readers, but reserve the actual techniques or how-tos for those who hire you, buy your product, or sign up.

And if you decide that you want to give away some of your “secret sauce,” do so by releasing that information in a free ebook or whitepaper. Before people can download it, make them give you their names, email addresses, company names, and phone numbers. This way, one of your sales people can follow up with them and convert them into customers.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask

Feel comfortable telling people what you’d like them to do because in many cases they won’t think of contacting you, clicking the Buy button or signing up for more blog updates until you put the idea in their heads. Use a call to action in every post if you can. Just change the wording so that it looks new and different.

11. Only blog on relevant content

At KISSmetrics, our ideal customer is a marketer who works at an e-commerce or subscription-based business. For that reason, we should be writing about all things marketing, right?

Guess again! We tried the approach of blogging on marketing-related content, but the visitors this type of content attracts don’t tend to convert into customers. Plus, brand recognition we get from this type of audience isn’t very beneficial to us as it isn’t our ideal customer.

We realized that our content needs to be fine-tuned to our audience. What I mean by this is that if you are targeting marketers who work at e-commerce companies, you can’t write about general e-commerce marketing. You need to get much more specific.

For example, at KISSmetrics, people buy our product to help analyze their traffic data. In an ideal world, we should only be blogging on content that helps marketers at these e-commerce companies analyze their data. Even if the content is on competitor products, it’s still a good move as long as it offers analytics advice relevant to e-commerce marketers.

Based on our data, that’s the type of content that converts blog readers into customers – at least for us. If you are going to write on your corporate blog, make sure your content is very specific to your target audience. Don’t go too broad, even if that means you get less traffic, as the broad content won’t drive any signups.

12. Don’t publish your best content on your site

Chances are you are not getting a few hundred thousand visitors a month on your blog. So, when you write an amazing piece of content, very few people will read it and share it on the social web.

For this reason, your best piece of content should be posted on someone else’s blog.

Just think of it this way. Blogs like Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, or Forbes probably get in excess of a 1,000 times, if not 10,000 times, more traffic than your blog. So if you publish your niche article on those sites, it will get more eyeballs because they have a much larger readership base.

By guest-posting, you’ll drive relevant traffic back to your site, generate more leads, and gain more blog readers.

This strategy is so effective that I myself guest-post five times a week. Guest-posting on sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Mashable has been a strong strategy for all of my startups.

13. Train your readers to buy

Your readers won’t convert into customers unless you train them to buy. Blogging is a double-edge sword. Releasing great content is a great way to build up your traffic and brand, but people become so accustomed to reading your great content for free that they expect you to give away your product and service for free.

I know this may sound weird, but it is true. So true that I myself get over 20 emails a day from people asking me to give my services and products to them for free. Why? Because all of my blog content is free.

By no means should you make your blog content paid. Instead, you should train your readers to buy. The simplest way to do this is to have them make micro-commitments, forcing them to take an action to receive a benefit.

Here are some examples of micro-commitments:

  • Instead of giving people a free e-book, make them give you their emails to read the e-book. This will teach them that they have to give you something to receive a benefit in return.
  • Don’t just email your users the free e-book. Email them a link to it. This way they’ll be taught to “click” to receive a benefit. This will make it easier for you to get them to click on your “Buy” button later on.
  • Ask your readers to share your content every once in a while. A quick little message at the end of your blog post asking them to tweet your content will teach your readers to reciprocate.

By teaching your readers to take action, you are more likely to generate sales from your blog. When my buddy Timothy Sykes started to teach his readers to take action, he was able to increase his revenue by 84%. He made no changes to the product or service he was offering. He just taught his readers to buy.

14. Always be consistent

A lot of bloggers take their foot off the gas pedal, especially when their traffic stops growing.

Back in 2009, my Quick Sprout traffic was flat. It was so flat that I decided to slow down on my blogging.

In May of 2009, a bit more than 45,000 people visited Quick Sprout.

traffic may 2009

In June, I didn’t blog, which caused my traffic to dip by 21%.

traffic june 2009

Just because your traffic isn’t going up doesn’t mean it won’t go down. It took you a lot of time and energy to get your blog to where it is, so don’t be foolish – don’t take your foot off the gas pedal.

It took me 3 months to recover that 21% traffic drop, so don’t make the same mistake I’ve made. By being consistent, you will be ensuring that your traffic roughly stays the same, if not increases.

Whether it rains or snows, you need to keep a consistent blogging schedule.

15. Build a connection with your readers

I do this extremely well on Quick Sprout, but not as well on my corporate blogs – KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg. Every time someone leaves a comment on Quick Sprout, I do my best to respond.

Encouraging engagement is a great way to increase your revenue. The best way to encourage engagement is to respond to comments. It’s so effective that 68.1% of my revenue on Quick Sprout has come from someone who has commented before.

On KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg blogs, very few writers respond to commenters. For this reason, I myself started to reply to the comments on those blogs. It’s been helping a lot too – the repeat visit traffic is slowly increasing. Quick Sprout still gets the highest percentage, which sits at 40.8%, but I should be able to get KISSmetrics there within a year, and Crazy Egg within 2 years.

Without a strong connection to your readers, you won’t have many of them buying your product or service.

16. Monetize early

I used to wait till I had over 100,000 visitors before I monetized my corporate blogs. I did this with KISSmetrics and Crazy Egg. Boy, was that a huge mistake!

We didn’t really start capturing leads for KISSmetrics until our blog hit over 300,000 monthly visitors. With Crazy Egg, we waited till we had at least 200,000 monthly visitors.

The issue with waiting this long was that it took longer than it should have to find out that our reader base didn’t convert well into customers. Why? Because the traffic we were driving wasn’t very relevant to our product, which hits upon Rule #1.

We slightly shifted our focus with both of the blogs. At Crazy Egg, we started to write more content on conversion optimization, which is what our core audience is about. And at KISSmetrics, we started to produce more analytics-based content for e-commerce and subscription sites.

Sure, we still have a long way to go before our traffic becomes more qualified, but if we’d started monetizing earlier, we could have saved a lot of time and money.

By monetizing, you will quickly get a sense of where your blog stands and how qualified your traffic is. So, instead of waiting for you to get 100,000 visitors a month before you try to generate revenue from your blog, start testing the waters when you hit 10,000 visitors a month.

17. Collect emails

From my sidebar opt-in to my offer before each comment section, I have a handful of ways in which I collect emails on Quick Sprout. Once I collect an email, I then add you to an email drip sequence that pitches you my products and services.

This method is so effective, we do the same thing on the KISSmetrics’ blog. Through marketing automation, we then entice you to buy products from us.

If you are looking to drive sales through this approach, there are a few things you need to know:

  • It’s typically hard to collect emails unless you offer something for free such as an ebook or a course. That’s why I offer free ebooks and courses in exchange for your email.
  • Pop-ups collect more emails than anything else other than tactic. Your readers may hate it, so you’ll have to test how often to show the pop-ups to them, or else they may leave in frustration.
  • You’ll want to create an email drip sequence in order to convert email subscribers into buyers. If you aren’t sure how to do this, read this article.
  • You’ll need to use an email service provider to send out your emails. I use Get Response as it has some marketing automation built into its platform, and it’s affordable. If you are working with a small budget, Mailchimp has a free plan.

18. Write in the first person

Blogs are meant to be personal. Readers want connect with the human being, not the letters on a screen.

Start with a simple introduction that explains who you are and why you’re qualified to talk on the topic.

It’s okay to sprinkle in a bit of humor if you like, but not necessary.

Whatever you do, avoid the impersonal third-person writing style, which looks like this:

“[Company Name] has made several advancements in recent years.”

Instead, stick with the first person, which switches the example above to the following:

“We have made many advancements in recent years.”

Feel free to use the second person too by addressing readers as “you” from time to time.

19. Convey authoritative industry knowledge

If you decide to run a corporate blog, it should revolve heavily around your industry. The more niche you make it, the better off you will be.

With that in mind, stay abreast of the latest industry happenings, and touch upon important topics as they arise.

Stay in the loop about the latest news and trends concerning your industry, and pay attention to what thought leaders in your industry are doing and saying.

This will have you jumping out of your seat with new, creative ideas.

20. Skip posts about blog or website updates

To you, updates to your blog or website are probably pretty exciting.

Trust me, though: no one else cares. Sharing such news in your blog only shows that you are completely out of ideas.

If you find yourself tempted to share news about technical updates, sit down and start over. Better ideas can and will come to you—I promise.

21. Be prophetic

Be like Nostradamus from time to time by making predictions about the direction of your industry.

It may feel a bit risky—will readers come back and call you out if you turn out to be wrong?—but it’s a great way to expand your horizons when coming up with new topics to cover.

You don’t need a crystal ball to make this work.

Just stay informed about your industry and share educated predictions with your audience.

22. Express emotion

A big reason for running out of writing inspiration is feeling like you must hold in your emotions.

Here’s the thing: Readers appreciate it when you do, and it makes your content a lot more relatable.

Go ahead and express how you feel about stuff from time to time. For example, are you excited about that upcoming trade show, or are you dreading it?

Expressing your emotions should open up many new possibilities for spicing up your blog.

23. Share inside stories

Let readers in on how your company operates by occasionally sharing inside stories about interesting happenings.

Giving them a glimpse “behind the curtain” will keep them engaged and give you a lot more interesting fodder for your blog.

For example, in the weeks leading up to an important product launch, create posts about how the company is preparing.

When important new employees come on board, share the news.

24. Be personable but professional

Writing blog posts is much easier when you keep it personable. Still, because it represents your company, your blog should maintain an adequate level of professionalism.

Spice up blog posts with occasional quips about how you’re thinking or feeling about certain topics. Write as if you are having a face-to-face conversation.

Everything else will fall into place from there.

25. Go in-depth

All too often, corporate blogs merely skim the surface of the topics that matter to their audiences. Generic, fluffy posts are easy to churn out, to be sure, but they leave a lot to be desired.

Your industry blog will be far more compelling when you delve deeply into topics from time to time. If you’re worried about holding your audience’s interest through such topics, create a series of posts to break things up into digestible chunks.

This has the added bonus of keeping your readers coming back for more.

26. Interview people

I know, you’re not a journalist.

However, getting out there and interviewing important people in your industry is a great way to come up with interesting topics for your blog.

Of course, you don’t have to literally interview people face to face.

Through email and social media, you should be able to conduct at least occasional interviews that will give you all kinds of blog fodder.

27. Become an expert

You are surely very knowledgeable about topics that relate to your industry.

Kick things up a notch by focusing your attention on a very niche area, and learn everything you can about it.

By becoming an authority on a particular subject, you will be swimming with ideas that matter to your audience.

As you learn new things, additional ideas will spring to mind more easily.

28. Write listicles

A corporate blog needn’t be stodgy or overly prim and proper (in fact, quite the opposite).

Like Buzzfeed does, create posts in a list format, publishing listicles from time to time.

image01

Listicles are easy to write and fun to read even if they are written on dry topics.

29. Tackle tough topics

Corporate blogs tend to shy away from especially difficult topics.

Getting to the bottom of something that tends to stump people who rely on your products or services requires a lot of work, but it also gives you incredible ammunition for generating interesting blog posts.

Zero in on issues nobody seems to be trying to resolve, and commit yourself to solving them.

Whether you’re successful or not, share your findings with your audience.

30. Share memes 🙂

image03

I don’t care how niche your business is—there are sure to be plenty of pertinent memes out there regarding it.

Dig them up, and share them on your blog from time to time. Provide commentary regarding the meme to keep your blog plugging along.

If you strike out and can’t find many memes, create your own.

There are tons of apps for this, so there’s no excuse for not giving it a go!

31. Share findings from surveys and polls

Use apps and widgets to quickly and easily survey clients and prospects. Share the results, and comment on them in your posts.

Don’t be afraid to seek out surveys and polls from other sources too.

Even if they are not very recent, they will probably be interesting to your audience, and creating posts around them is fun and easy.

32. Be empathetic

On the one hand, you want to come across as an authority in your industry.

On the other hand, though, you want to connect with your audience to keep them engaged.

You can’t do that without showing a little empathy here and there.

When the situation warrants it, use phrases such as “…like many business owners…,” “…I know how it is…,” and “…I see that all the time…” to show your audience you understand them and to give your posts more personality.

33. Tie posts to current events when applicable

If a newsworthy event impacts your industry—even if only tangentially—go ahead and write an article about it.

On social media, this has the added bonus of potentially having your post appear in trending topic feeds.

Don’t go too far, though. You may find yourself trying to tie every current event to your industry, and that just won’t fly.

When it makes sense to do so, however, this tactic can work wonders.

34. Offer a free webinar

You’ve been seeing us do a ton more webinars on KISSmetrics lately because they do well. Not only do they help drive sales, but they drive a ton of traffic to our corporate site.

Typically, if you are looking to do a webinar, it has to be on a topic that benefits your readers. You can’t expect them to attend a webinar that’s just a sales pitch without any benefit to them. Instead, you have to educate them on a topic related to your product or service.

Within the webinar, you can mention your product or give them an exclusive offer if they buy within the next 24 hours.

35. Use a talented writer

blogger

I can’t emphasize this one enough: Whoever writes for your blog should be an innately talented writer.

Moreover, they should actually enjoy writing, and their enthusiasm should shine through in their work.

It’s plainly obvious when an industry blog has been written by someone who lacks the necessary writing chops.

Even if you must pay for it, make sure your content is penned—or typed, as it were—by someone who can truly do it justice.

How to hire an exceptional blogger

Unlike for most jobs, you don’t find world-class bloggers through job postings. It’s not because a lot of great bloggers are already busy. In reality, a lot of them are not. Not only that, most of them don’t even get paid well.

The simplest way to find a great blogger is to scour marketing blogs. Although your business may not be about marketing, it doesn’t matter in this particular case. A great blogger can write on any topic due to the fact that anything can be researched on the web.

The first thing you want to do is make a list of all the popular marketing blogs such as Copyblogger, Problogger, and Moz. Each of those blogs accepts guest posters, which is what you want to look for.

Typically, if a blogger was able to get his or her content published on one of those blogs, this person is a good enough blogger as each of those blogs has strict editorial guidelines.

What a world-class blogger looks like

Now that you have a list of potential bloggers to hire, you need to look for the following qualities:

  1. Traffic generation abilities – if the posts they are writing receive more social shares than other posts published on that same blog, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their content is better. It usually means they know how to generate traffic. Two of my blogs are run with content published by guest bloggers, and I’ve learned that some of these bloggers are great at promoting content, while others are only good at the writing part. You want to hire the ones that are good at both writing and promotion. Typically, if their content has more social shares, they understand content promotion.
  2. Conversational writing style – no one wants to read an essay. Blog posts are supposed to be conversational and fun to read. Look for writers that use the words “you” and “I” a lot within their blog posts. This is important because I’ve found that bloggers who don’t write in a conversational tone receive 31% fewer comments per post. You want more comments because that means more engagement, and engaged readers are more likely to convert into customers.
  3. Storytelling – you only have 8 seconds to grab the attention of your readers. That’s short! So short that it’s actually a second shorter than the attention span of a gold fish. One of the best ways to hook a reader is by telling a story. If the blogger can incorporate stories within each blog post, these posts will be more likely to be read.
  4. Analytical abilities – how do you prove a point? By using facts and data, right? You don’t want to hire a blogger who can’t prove a point. Why? Because I’ve found that blog posts that contain data and stats, assuming they are accurate, generate 28% more social shares. That means more traffic to your blog.

When it comes to evaluating bloggers’ abilities, you don’t have to look further than the points above. Sure, there are other important qualities a blogger should have. The advantage of finding these bloggers on other popular blogs is that those other qualities have already been pre-vetted for you. 🙂

Once you find a few bloggers that meet the requirements above, you’ll want to shoot them an email asking if they are interested in contractual gigs. Contract means you just pay them for every blog post they write.

What you’ll find is that most of these bloggers will want $100 to $200 for a blog post between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Paying more than $200 usually isn’t worth it unless your ROI warrants it. And paying less than $100 isn’t very realistic as most good bloggers spend four to five hours writing a great post. That means you would be paying them less than $20 an hour.

It’s as simple as that. There isn’t much more to finding a world-class blogger.

So what is the biggest factor that’s stopping you from corporate blogging?

Chances are it’s your lack of faith that blogging will produce revenue.

The last thing you want to do is spend weeks, if not months, blogging and generate no income from it, right?

To prove to you that blogging is an endeavor worth undertaking, I’ve created an infographic that shows you how blogging affects your bottom line.

How Blogging Affects Your Bottom Line

Conclusion

When blogging for business, your ultimate goal is to convert readers into buyers, so make sure that you put effort into helping achieve that conversion. Link to your sales pages within your blog posts, talk about what you can do for people and play up the fact that you’re a business with something to offer.

Remember that your corporate blog shouldn’t be the main attraction. It’s just a gateway to help readers discover your business and get them excited about the bigger and better things you sell.

Original Post: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Quicksprout/~3/DDcvWVcRB-U/

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