In order to create a successful, converting blog marketers need to think about their company blog in a more holistic way. A company blog shouldn’t be “each post to its own” but part of a larger content marketing strategy.
Most importantly, a company blog needs to offer various pieces of content for the various decision makers within the buying journey. As each decision maker has a different set of considerations, a company blog should answer a wide spectrum of needs in order to support the company’s sale operation.
Segment Your Target Audience
Think of your company blog as a roundtable meeting. Who is seated around the table?
Decision Makers x Buying Journey Stages = Target Audience
Every decision maker in every stage of the buying journey has different needs, and every need is an obstacle or an opportunity in the journey.
Now imagine all the questions the attendees would ask you, about your product or service, about your experience and expertise, about their needs and how your company can help them answer these needs.
Write down all these questions. That’s a good starting point for a blog.
You Are Not Alone
Use the people around you. The SDRs (sales development reps) are a great and important source to learn about who you’ll be writing for and what their pains are. They are constantly communicating with prospective customers, they know what they ask and what answer works best.
So is the Sales team, Customer Success, Customer Support – basically any function in your organization that has direct access to leads, prospects or customers, you want to hear what they have to say about your target audience.
Not All Blogs Are Created Equal
Let’s backtrack for a moment and take a wider look at a company blog. What is the purpose? Except for the fact that every company has a company blog (and a Facebook page, YouTube channel, LinkedIn group, Twitter account and soon a Snapchat-something) you need to think of what is the goal, what you are trying to achieve.
There are a few roles a blog can play. The Google blog is quite different than the Kissmetrics blog. Google’s only subject matter on the blog is… Google. Either product, feature and version announcements or how its products are put to use for the greater good of humanity (cynicism very much intended.) Kissmetrics on the other hand never mentions Kissmetrics on its blog. Actually, the blog is not even written by their own staff, but by contributors. It is a source of actionable knowledge.
As the Kissmetrics blog is widely read by marketing professionals, the Google blog is read exclusively by publications and bloggers who report back to the masses. None of this is accidental. It was conceptualized and executed to perfection.
So the first thing to do is to decide what kind of blog are you after:
- For existing customers who want to keep updated on product announcements
- For potential customers
And what is your goal:
- To drive traffic to your website
- To become a thought leader in the industry
The Most Common Form of Company Blog
In order to give some actionables, we’ll zoom in to somewhere between Google and Kissmetrics – the quintessential company blog:
- Wider in scope than the company’s own business
- Traffic generator
- Self-promotional in a restraint way
- Accompanied by a Resources section: white papers, case studies, webinars, eBooks
It is the most common form of a company blog for a good reason – it works. It covers all the bases, and if you have a talented content team, it worth its weight in gold; or its storage space in bitcoin?
Before You Roll Up Your Sleeves
You should never just write. Don’t wing it, don’t feel inspired, don’t be in the muse. Always answer these questions before you start writing:
- Who you are writing for?
- At what stage of the buying journey are they?
- What it is you want to say?
- Would you target audience be interested to hear it?
And always, always, do an outline.
Finding the Right Audience And Content Balance
Your target audience is the key to content balance. Map the various decision makers in the companies you are targeting, cross them with the stages of the buying journey and rank them by importance. This should give you a solid idea of the audience balance.
As far as content balance, your company blog should tilt heavily toward the informative. Keep the self-promotional posts to the necessary minimum. When you have an important product announcement, go for it. If you won a prestigious award it makes sense you would want to announce it. But remember, content that converts isn’t this. Content that converts is the one where you are educating your audience, providing them with practical advice, actionables. Because if I benefit from your content, I will most likely benefit from your offering as well. By the very least, it’s worth it for me to fill a form and give it a chance.
Extending Content Shelf Life
The major bummer of the blog is its interface. You put your heart and soul into a post, it is featured proudly at the top, and then, when newer posts are published it quickly sinks, disappearing into the deep darkness of the blog’s inner pages; no post ever returned from there…
The same way folks don’t check the second and third pages of Google’s search results, not many click the Older Posts button at the bottom. Which means, that just like fresh tofu, content has a pretty short shelf life. Two things can be done to counter this.
First, customize your blog interface to make your content more easily searchable. The blog’s home page should present as many posts as possible. These days the Pinterest-esq interface is highly popular since it is indeed features many posts at a glance, and scrolling is quick and effective.
The other essential is to create sections in your blog. That way you give the visitor an opportunity to sort by topic so they are immediately in their able to filter out the posts that are of less interest for them.
Personalized Content Recommendations
The other thing to do in order to extend content shelf life is to use content recommendation widgets. If the visitor won’t go to the content, the content will come to the visitor.
Content recommendation widgets are great for two reasons: they ‘resurrect’ content from the blog’s deep darkness, and they drive conversions if the content they recommend is gated. And if the content isn’t gated, they deepen engagement.
If you are thinking of including content recommendation widgets in your website, make sure they are personalized. The same logic that we applied before to the blog’s content, should be applied here – the different decision makers have different needs in different stages of the buying journey.
Let’s say Thomas from Accounting is looking into the operational costs of your product. Recommending him a case study about how to integrate ABM methodologies into content marketing is not going to make an impression on him. With content recommendations, relevancy is the name of the game. As it is with your company blog, and your entire content marketing for that matter.
Assaf Dudai is the Head of Content of BrightInfo, a real time personalization engine that analyzes website visitor behavior and serves relevant content at suitable points within the natural browsing flow.