Successful startups have three things in common: they’ve put together a winning team, they’ve created a product that’s in hot demand in their niche, and they’ve found a way to get the word out about their company. If you’ve figured out the first two things, but are struggling with the last, perhaps a blog would be a great way to increase exposure for your business.
The key to a successful business blog is to ensure you’re generating quality leads and being recognized by your peers as an industry expert. Here are 8 ways you can use a blog effectively to help you build your audience.
1. It's Not About You
Once you’ve set up your blog, it’s time to begin posting content for people to read. This content could take many forms – written articles, visual media like images, infographics and video, or podcasts or audio. The way you choose to present content will vary depending on your industry.
But what doesn’t vary is the way in which you approach your content strategy. You need to remember that a blog isn’t a platform for your company to announce its successes and congratulate itself publically. Although a company update every now and then is fine, the focus of your blog needs to be on providing quality content for your blog readers.
This could take the form of educational content to help THEM be successful. Provide tips, techniques and insights that they will find invaluable. Keep them updated on industry trends. You could post informative and persuasive articles designed to make your readers think and generate opinion-based comments. Occasionally, include a post about how to get the most value from using your services (or product) or case studies demonstrating how other customers have used your services – just remember that in these cases keep the focus on the value and benefits that the reader will receive. You could also simply try to make your readers laugh with funny quotes and pictures.
But whatever content you do post needs to be focused on the potential customer and what he or she needs. Additionally, your blog needs to be consistent in its content. If you are going to structure your blog as an educational resource for restaurant owners, for example, then stick to that week in and week out.
2. Assemble Your Team
Now that you understand the importance of a user-focused content strategy, it’s time to assemble your content team. These are the people who will create, edit, distribute and promote your content and track and manage your results. Like any other part of your business, it’s vital to assemble your dream team of experts.
If content marketing is going to be an important part of your marketing strategy, you need to make sure the people creating and distributing your content are doing the best for your business. Blog readers tend to be discerning readers – they want high quality, entertaining, informative articles, and if they don’t see what they want within minutes or even seconds, they click away. Low quality content might have worked five years ago, but these days, you can’t get away with badly written articles purchased from a content mill.
Many entrepreneurs enjoy writing their own content, but it can quickly become overwhelming with so much else to do. Employing a content manager, or hiring an outsourced manager, or engaging with a team of dedicated guest post writers will ensure a steady stream of new content to your blog on a consistent basis.
3. Create Resources
An effective method to get people excited about your business is to offer free resources on your blog. These resources offer solutions to common problems your customers face. They could be in a variety of formats, from video tutorials to eBooks to other types of downloadable PDF documents.
Your blog will become your primary way of spreading the word about these value-added materials for your target audience. Your blog will introduce your company to new customers, and they’ll in turn be led to your free resources, which will help potential customers make decisions about whether they want to buy from you.
Now that your blog is being filled with posts and useful resources, it’s time to expand your strategy to include the blogs of other people.
The role of a the person managing your blog is not just to write posts for your company blog, but also to find other blogs online that cater to a similar audience and offer guest posts on those blogs. Guest posts are articles written by your company but posted on other people’s blogs. The host of the third-party blog gets a post for free, and you get the chance to present your content, and link to your site, in front of a new audience.
In many niches guest posting on other blogs is a primary means of obtaining subscribers to your own blog. Writing guest posts can also be a clever way to create a network of contacts within your niche.
5. Promote Your Content
Once you’ve written a post on your blog, or you’ve landed a slot on a successful industry site, how do you ensure your piece is seen by the most people possible?
You need to understand that content marketing doesn’t end when you hit "publish". A huge part of running a successful blog is writing content that is linked to and reposted on other sites.
A good way to get links to your blog is to write to other sites in your niche and tell them about the new article you’ve just put up. If you’re courteous and polite and offer them a potential new connection, they may be keen to link to your post.
You should also share your links on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. These sites can be a useful way to generate views, but be wary of using them in place of content you host on your own website. Social media companies can change the rules on their sites at any time, as we’ve seen this year on Facebook fan pages, and this can have an adverse affect on your traffic. So just be sure that your focus is on your own blog, and then use social media as a means to get the word out about your posts.
6. Engage The Audience
Now that you’ve got an audience reading your blog, its time to engage them to keep them participating and coming back for more. You can do this by:
- Encouraging them to sign up to your mailing list.
- Asking questions and sparking debate in the blog comments.
- Talking via social media platforms.
- Running contests and competitions.
- Offering special promotions.
- Encouraging them to come in-store to learn more.
- Promoting further discussion through forums.
- Creating interactive mobile apps for your products.
- Directing them to personalized options within your product range.
Web readers can be extremely savvy, and many enjoy participating in discussions about the products and services they use and the industries they work in. Become a hub for these discussions, and you’ll see your influence soar.
7. Rinse and Repeat
Now that you’re starting to enjoy the benefits of running a successful business blog, it’s time to settle in to the day-to-day tasks associated with running your blog.
If you keep writing regular content, keeping your focus customer-centric, maintaining your networks with other bloggers, and engaging with your customers in online spaces, you’ll continue to see the benefits of blogging in increased website traffic, page views and visibility for your business.
Blogging can be a great way to reach new customers and generate buzz about your company. Although blogging is definitely not the ONLY way to succeed online, the right blogging strategy will definitely see your business gaining more exposure and attracting more targeted prospects on a continual basis.