Did you know that businesses receive 55% more website visitors if they have an active corporate blog? Did you know that companies who blog at least twenty times per month generate four times more leads? I actually find those HubSpot statistics low and think the actual numbers are much higher. But even at these numbers it is really hard to ignore the value of corporate blogs.
Corporate Blog Goals
- A corporate blog is designed to highlight your company’s industry knowledge.
- It allows you to position yourself as a subject matter expert.
- It provides an avenue for reaching new prospects while also staying in touch with existing customers.
- It offers a more informal way of presenting content.
- It fosters the efforts of your search engine optimization campaign.
- It provides content for nurturing your social media accounts.
A Reality Check for Businesses
The average small business cannot blog twenty times per month, but they probably can blog four times per month. Is it enough? Yes, I think so.
In most cases, that is four times more than their competition. That means the organization has endless opportunities for driving leads, sales, and revenue through blogging.
The problem I see is that most companies that already have a corporate blog are doing a lot of things wrong. Part of it is lack of knowledge, part of it is lack of resources, and part of it is lack of interest from the management team.
The bad news is all of these blogging errors will damage a company’s online reputation and overall image.
The good news is all of it is fixable!
Twenty-One Quick Fixes For Mastering the Corporate Blog
- Tightly Integrate the Blog and Website – Hosting your blog on a third party website (especially free ones) goes against the goals listed above. It not only hurts SEO efforts and degrades the overall branding of the company, it tends to confuse website visitors. Website visitors get confused when they jump from a corporate website to a third party website that looks different. The larger issue is this third party blog placement takes traffic (people) away from your website, which is just the opposite of what you want to occur.
- Design Matters – While not every company needs a custom designed blog, the blog does need to look modern, up to date, and be responsive so it adapts to mobile phones and tablets. This is especially true if you are using the blog posts in newsletters or for mobile search. A good designer can provide a nicely designed WordPress blog that matches your existing corporate website. Creating something that is esthetically pleasing and that matches your brand is important for garnishing authority online.
- Structure the Main Blog Page for Readability – A lot of corporations show full blog content on their main blog page. This is really contradictory to what the user wants and what usability experts present as best practice. Best practice is to show a list of blog post summaries on your main blog page. Instead of the full post, simply include an excerpt and featured image. This is good for usability and for SEO. If you at all question the usability aspect of summaries, then read through a great article from the Nielsen Normal Group which is titled Corporate Blogs: From Page Structure. The eyetracking images alone will change your mind.
- Write About a Diverse Set of Topics (Not Just Yourself or Your Products and Services) – Blogging is suppose to be informational. It can be used as a great educational tool for prospects and existing customers. What blogging isn’t is an avenue to talk nonstop about your company and your product or service offering. Limiting your blog posts to content about you makes the blog ego centric and boring. It will ensure your blog is not read, not shared, and certainly not revisited. Getting the most mileage out of your corporate blog means blogging about your industry, trends, and best practices.
- Write Content for Your Target Demographic – Over the years we’ve had really good growth at our firm and we’ve used blogging as a method of capturing this growth. I think one of the biggest factors in this growth has been our ability to focus on our target demographic and not our competitors. This may seem basic, but really it is not. Many companies (especially in our industry) write content for other people like themselves and not necessarily the people they want to sell to or capture as a lead. Take this blog post as an example. I’ve written it for a marketer or small business owner. I’ve done so because that is our target market. Other WordPress firms frequently write about WordPress code – specifically PHP and CSS. Would the average marketer or small business owner understand that? Nope. Would it encourage them to convert to a new customer? Nope. Would a long-winded blog post about improving a corporate blog encourage it? I think yes, which is why I write about the topics I cover. Our sales funnel and revenue stream supports the fact that this practice is beneficial.
- Post New Content as Often as Feasibly Possible – When I ask companies if they have a blog, they will many times say yes – even if the blog hasn’t had a new blog post in six months. That isn’t quite what I would call a corporate blog. It’s more of an unloved piece of website content. Maintaining a blog with infrequent posts makes your company look uninvolved, out of touch, and lacking in knowledge. That is not what you want. The trick to writing at an acceptable level of frequency is to set realistic goals. Don’t set your content marketing goal so high that you cannot reach it. Set a reasonable goal of one new blog post per week or even one new post every other week. Then simply make it happen.
- Avoid Industry Jargon – Anyone who knows their industry well falls into the trap of using industry jargon in web content. Writers fail to see the technical terms (like PHP and CSS mentioned earlier) and how they may confuse the average website visitor. Ditch the industry jargon and use words and phrases real people can understand. If you have a Ph.D at the end of your name, “dumb down” any content you write so the average person and read and digest it.
- Avoid Vague or Meaningless Blog Titles – As I write a blog post I have possible titles pop into my head. I throw them in and I revisit them later. As I continue to write the blog post I adjust the possible title to match the ultimate context of the post. When I’m done writing I go back to the title to see if it fits my final content. If it does I then take a step back and ask myself if it is descriptive enough to entice the target reader to take the time to read the post itself. If it isn’t, then the title needs to be revised to include enough focus, keywords, and interest to encourage someone to click through to the post. Sometimes this means I lose the cute title I want and sometimes this means I have to add to the title to make in more apparent. Remember that your first blog post title is rarely the best or the final title. Revise until it will make an impact.
- Remember to Use Keywords – If you are going to blog, use keywords. You don’t have to use a keyword phrase in every blog post, but you should have a keyword focus on at least half of your blog posts. Keyword focus means you select a blog post title and write content that includes a targeted keyword or phrase. If you’re going to the trouble to write strong content, then make sure the world (and potential readers) can find you. That means a keyword is important. If you struggle with making this happen, consider using a plugin like Yoast’s SEO plugin or even Scribe. They will help keep you on track and focused.
- Use More Than Just Text – Many corporate bloggers are afraid of using stock images. Really – I’ve had two companies that were darn right funny about it and they even poked fun at themselves because of it. Business bloggers tend to think every image will look staged and cheesy. That is not the case. If you spend three seconds looking for stock images, yes they will most likely look cheesy. If you spend ten minutes looking for the right image, you will find it and it will accentuate your blog post. It will also make your blog post more esthetically pleasing on social media websites. That means more traffic to the actual post and your own website. I like to use BigStockPhoto.com because images are plentiful and cheap. I have to look for a while to find what I want, but I always find something I can use. And I get compliments on image selection from readers.
- Link to Cornerstone Content – This task is often one of the most overlooked tasks of blogging. Cornerstone content includes your main product or service pages. For us this would be pages about website design, SEO, or our theme store. I use our blog to nurture our cornerstone content. If Chris or I write a blog post, that post will link to something else on our website. This helps drive traffic to our most important pages, as well as helps with overall SEO efforts. I’ve been blogging for about a decade and I’ve done this the entire time, yet I still find myself forgetting it as a task and I have to backtrack to fix the omission. It is worth backtracking and doing. Each blog post should link to some where else on your website that pertains to the post and that will provide value to your readers.
- Include a Proper Close and Call to Action – A call to action is simply a request or encouragement for visitors to take action. This can be a purchase, a white paper download, viewing a demo, or simply the completion of a inquiry form for more information. Use these call to actions and use them wisely. I like to have something on each and every post if possible. Encourage your readers to take action and you’ll be surprised at how many actually do.
- Set Up Bios for Each Blogger – I receive a lot of push back from B2B clients on the use of author bios. In 80% of the cases, companies want to publish blog posts as the company and not as an individual. This degrades the trust factor and does not help position the organization as a subject matter expert. Readers want to know who wrote a given article and they want to know more about the author. Write a brief, but informative author bio and include it at the bottom of every post. If you’re using a Genesis child theme, this is as simple as updating your user profile.
- Create an Author Image and Use a Gravatar – An author image or Gravatar (an abbreviation for globally recognized avatar) offers a more personable impression of the author. It, along with the bio, increases credibility and trust. I once had a gentlemen recognize me at a trade show based on my blog’s author image. He not only knew me as an author, he could tell me his favorite blog posts. He was from California and I am in Michigan. We are still connected socially and he checks in with me every six months or so. That is powerful. Use a recent and decent image. It doesn’t have to be a professional headshot, it just shouldn’t include your girlfriend hanging on your arm.
- Use Categories Correctly – A pet peeve of mine is the misuse of blog categories. Matt Cutts once suggested that only one category be used per blog posts. I have stuck with this philosophy for years. It not only helps website visitors sort through your content by high level topic, it makes it easier for the search engines to digest your content as well.
- Use Tags Correctly – A lot of bloggers forget about tags and fail to use them all together. They do so because they don’t quite get the usage of them. Tags are simply a more granular level of topics. They are more precise than categories, although they are used in a similar manner. They allow visitors to browse content by interest level, which is good for usability and for keeping those visitors on your website as long as possible. Our website uses a nifty WordPress plugin that even provides an A-Z list of tags for visitors.
- Share New Content Via Social Media – If you build write it, they will come. Well not exactly. You need to write quality content and then you need to take the extra step to share that content via social media channels. I believe all blog posts should be shared on personal and corporate accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Do so right away and then interact with those who are kind enough to share your content. I know a lot of companies don’t believe their blog posts will be shared. If the content is of quality and if you make it easy for them to share, you’ll be surprised at how much social media love you receive.
- Add Share Buttons for Ease of Use – While people will be eager to share quality content, they won’t do it if you make it difficult on them. Make it easy on readers to share your content by including easily recognizable share icons at the bottom of each blog post. Make sure you include Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.
- Include an Option for Email Updates – The vast majority of companies have a buying cycle of more than a few seconds. This means website visitors will come and go before they are ready to reach out to you. They need to look around the web and investigate options prior to making a commitment or purchase. Your blog, if well written, gives them a reason to return. Make it easy on visitors to return by giving them a quick and straightforward way to subscribe to updates. Keep the subscribe box simple and automate your process via tools like WordPress, Gravity Forms, and MailChimp.
- Allocate Time to Write Quality Content – Trust me when I say this – good content does not happen in twenty minutes. It takes hours to think through a quality post, research it, stew over it, write it, and proof it. Thinking you can whip something out in twenty minutes will leave you frustrated and your blog unloved. Allocate enough time to write solid content. If you have to choose between less quality content and more fluff content, go for quality over quantity. It is the only way to court readers, search engines, and online brand ambassadors.
- Don’t Expect Overnight Success – I’ve had a lot of success from blogging both at Web Savvy Marketing in my old life of ERP software. That success doesn’t come overnight. It takes time, patience, and a lot of work. It doesn’t happen in a second and it doesn’t happen without a lot of planning, thought, and follow through. Know this going in. Know the outcome of blogging can be great, but know it is a labor of love.
Are You Excited or Are You Ready to Run Away?
Don’t be frightened. Be excited! Consider these facts:
- 93% of online experiences begin with search engines
- 77% of internet users read blogs
- 61% of consumers feel better about a company that delivers custom content
- 52% of consumers say blogs have impacted purchase decisions
- 60% of business decision makers say branded content helps them make better product decisions
- 57% of marketers have acquired new customers via their blogs
- 37% of marketers believe blogs are the most important type of content
Take the Leap into Blogging
First, start by asking yourself what is holding you back. Be honest and write your gut reactions down on paper. I’ve given you the list of to do items, so now ask yourself how many of these items are already in place and how many you need to address. Next ask yourself if you can create a plan to make it happen.
If you feel like you’re lost or just need some help with the finishing touches, we can help. From designing a custom blog theme to teaching you the basics via a Blogging Boot Camp, there is a lot we can do to help.
It is possible. You just need to jump in, start blogging, and make it happen!