Blogs can be an incredible asset for a business interested in content marketing. Look at some of the benefits:
- They’re free to start, and only require time and effort.
- They help you connect with your customers (and potential customers) in a non-formal way.
- They help give voice to your company that may not always be found on the main company website.
- They may help drive targeted traffic via search engines to your website.
The last bullet point is usually what makes business owners giddy: the prospect of free, targeted traffic. What business doesn’t want more targeted traffic to their website?
Blogs and content marketing can be excellent at turning visitors into customers. But you’ll notice I said “can.” This is because many businesses have a hard time using their blog for content marketing and as a customer-acquiring machine.
What Can Decrease Your Blog's Effectiveness
On the quest for this coveted traffic, it’s easy to make some content marketing mistakes. Here are some mistakes that many businesses make when creating content for their blog.
The Press-Releaser: Sometimes businesses will take stuffy press releases and copy and paste them into a blog post. This may keep people from reading your content or coming back.
The Sporadic Updater: This is a common problem for busy small-business owners: They start a company blog with the best intentions of keeping it updated, but quickly fall behind. To get the most out of your blog, you may want to consider devoting enough energy to keeping it current and regularly updated.
The Off-Shoot: It’s not uncommon for businesses to decide to use their blog like they would Facebook, publishing things unrelated to their industry, or even rants. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing to go off-topic every now and again, you may not want to use your company blog as a pulpit, unless you’re already a global figure.
The Hard Sale: These blog posts are made for one thing only: to get you to buy something. They’re glorified sales pages, and they only release content when they have something that they want you to buy, which may turn off potential customers.
Making the Most out of Content Marketing
Now that we’ve looked at traits that may hurt a blog's effectiveness, let’s look at some best practices.
- Commit to It: It may take a commitment to publishing regularly to get the results you want. A company blog can be a business asset, so consider giving it the resources it needs. You may want to carve time out of your schedule to write great content regularly. Consider staffing or hiring out the writing for your blog if you need to.
- Make It Worthwhile for the Reader: You don't want to publish something that wastes your reader’s time. One way to make your blog posts worthwhile for your readers is to think about publishing something that you’d want to read. By providing outstanding content—lengthy, helpful articles and resources on something that your customers would want—you may be able to attract more customers.
- Don’t Push: Warming your traffic into becoming customers may be more helpful than trying to make a direct sale. (More on this in a bit.)
- Build Your Blog for Ascension: Publishing content without any goal may not be the best way to use your blog. It may be helpful to think of each post and page of your blog as a way to move the visitor to the next step. If they’ve never been to your blog before, the next step may be getting them to sign up for your newsletter; it probably isn’t getting them to buy your $297 product. Using your blog to directly sell products or services to random visitors may not be a successful form of content marketing. This can be done sparingly, but you want to make sure you’ve produced plenty of top-notch content alongside these announcements.
A Business Blog Content Marketing Method: Using Your Blog as a Traffic Warmer
If you want to use your company blog to bring targeted traffic to your website, the following may be a solid strategy to turn visitors into eventual buyers.
Let’s start at the beginning. There are three different types of traffic that may visit your blog: cold, warm and hot.
- Cold Traffic: People who don’t know anything about your brand or products. Maybe they found you on a random Google search or through a referral.
- Warm Traffic: People who at least recognize your brand, or have visited your site before. They might have signed up for your mailing list or gave some other indicator that they are interested in hearing more from you.
- Hot Traffic: People who have bought something from you, or are ready to purchase something from you. These people may be highly motivated.
One of the general rules of marketing is that you may end up spending the biggest chunk of your marketing dollars on cold traffic.
Warm and hot traffic may be more likely to become purchasers, so you may not need to spend as many resources marketing to them. (I touch on this more in my previous article on retargeting.) The hardest and most expensive challenge of any business may just be converting cold traffic into buyers.
Blogs and content marketing may be helpful in solving this problem. When you create content that helps people without selling, they may be more likely to be loyal. And the next time you publish something, they may be more likely to read it. In those instances, you’ve just earned their attention, one of the scarcest resources of our economy. They might sign up for your blog newsletter for more helpful information, which is a sign that they’ve given you their trust.
You’ve just successfully moved a cold visitor to a warm lead, without spending a dime.
This is just one way successful businesses can use blogs and content marketing for converting customers. Yet many businesses don’t use their blogs this way. They may be using their blogs in one (or more) of the less-effective ways listed above.
Thinking of your business’ blog as the top of the sales funnel—not the middle or the bottom—may be helpful. Your content marketing strategy may help get people started on the journey of becoming a customer; making your blog a part of that strategy, and not a host to a bunch of sales pages, may go a long way. Creating a blog like this takes strategy, resources and time. It may be a slow play, but it's a play that could pay dividends for your business.
Read more articles on content marketing.