To target and optimise the true potential of your business’s blog, you need to develop a solid business blog strategy from the outset. A comprehensive blog strategy comprises many elements, with considerable background research and on-going management required.
The following guide outlines ten of the key elements you’ll need in your blog strategy; all of which should be consistently managed and routinely reviewed:
Every business blog strategy must start with research. Your blog will need to remain relevant to its audience on an on-going basis. Take time to establish who this audience will be. A blog that constantly drifts off-topic won’t fulfill its audience, or the aims of the strategy.
Analyse the profile, online activities, likes, dislikes, and needs of your target audience. That way, you’ll be better able to deliver a targeted and successful campaign.
Tip: While carrying out your research, monitor the preferred media of your target audience: how do they respond to videos, written posts, infographics, whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, etc?
Research the blogs of your competitors, suppliers and clients. This will help you to build up a detailed profile of your market, as represented in blogs. Analyse their content and publishing frequency. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How are they promoting their blog? How active are their blog communities?
Then do the same elsewhere online – analyse their presence in search engine results, social media, industry forums, etc. This will add further depth to your competitor analysis. Tip: While carrying out your research, subscribe to relevant blogs and follow key people and organisations in social media – these will form invaluable networks.
Market Share Research
There are already countless demands on your audience’s time. Find out what these demands are and work out how you can grab a few precious minutes for your blog. Are there popular industry publications and do they have a blog? How often and when do these publications, and your rivals, blog? How often would your readership like to receive blogs posts – too often or too little can be equally damaging to the overall success of your strategy.
Tip: While carrying out your research, watch for gaps in the subject matter covered by other blogs in your industry. If you can fill these gaps with relevant content or a fresh perspective, you’re more likely to obtain a share of the market.
Having carried out your background research, you can focus on the market positioning of your own blog. Draw up a Blog Positioning Statement for your blog, which clearly identifies where you fit in your niche market. Try to incorporate the following:
Your target subscriber
What they want or need
How you will respond to that need
How your response will differ from other businesses
How your subscribers will benefit from your blog
Every blog is unique, so is your business blog strategy. It’s vital to establish what makes your blog stand out from the crowd. This includes elements such as the logo and design, as well as your tone of voice, area of expertise, subject matter, media used, and associated activities such as social media. Branding also encompasses how people experience, and interact with, your blog: your community.
As a business blog, your blog will adhere to your own business branding, for consistency. But try to adopt specific blogging protocol too, such as online copywriting techniques, SEO, etc.
Your blog should ideally reflect a cross-section of your business, including sales, marketing, PR, technical, operations and customer service. Ensure your blog branding invites both your audience and employees to engage with, and benefit from, each element.
Within your wider business blog strategy, you’ll need to formulate a content strategy. This will include elements such as: creating and implementing an in-house editorial style, tone of voice and choice of media; a blog post publishing schedule; the forward-management of topic ideas; scheduling of appropriate topics around key industry events; researching and identifying key contributors and guest bloggers.
Management of topics and content created by your own bloggers and guest bloggers; management of content to be posted on other blogs (guest blogging); competitions and any other content-based promotional activities; and how your blog content will complement any other business activities, such as wider content marketing or social media campaigns.
Engagement is essential – both proactive and reactive. Engagement must form part of any blog strategy. Things to consider include: who will be responsible for engaging with comments on your blog? How will you monitor and approve comments on your blog? What identification will people need to provide when commenting on your blog? How often will you check the comments on your blog?
How will you integrate your social media activities with your blog comments and posts? How will you monitor and engage with responses to your blog content elsewhere online? And how can you get involved with other relevant online discussions, purely for the purposes of engagement, as well as for the subsequent promotion of your own blog content?
The best people to distribute your blog content are your audience. Keep them happy, engage with them and they will respond with loyalty and shared enthusiasm. Be patient – this doesn’t happen overnight. Social media offers numerous channels for blog distribution, so social networking activities should form an integral part of your blog strategy.
Likewise, social bookmarking sites offer targeted sharing opportunities for your content. Make it easy for people to share your content, across all social media and bookmarking sites, by including share buttons and utilising relevant plugins and/or APIs.
Ensure that your audience can easily subscribe to your blog via RSS and email. By automatically receiving regular doses of your blog, people can effortlessly consume and share your content. Don’t forget the importance SEO plays in blog content distribution.
By frequently and consistently creating and sharing high-quality content, your search engine ranking will increase – bringing your content to an even wider audience.
The recommended methods of blog promotion alter frequently, mirroring shifts in SEO techniques. Blogs are all about information and engagement. The same is true of blog promotion. Social media activities, forum engagement and posting relevant comments on other blogs are currently considered to be the best way to network and promote your blog.
Guest blogging on other blogs, and inviting bloggers to guest post on your own blog, are also extremely effective. Your strategy should incorporate activities in all these areas.
For example: a firm of architects, with an architecture blog, could consider writing guest posts for (and commenting on) blogs run by other architects and firms, as well as companies in construction, landscaping, property and interior design.
They could also invite landscapers, designers, architects, property experts and construction professionals to contribute to (and engage with) their own blog. By additionally getting involved with forums in these areas, they will be able to add expertise to the forums, network in associated industries and hopefully take chances to add relevant links back to their architecture blog.
Within your blog posts themselves, you can also make reference to (and link with) a relevant post on another blog. Again, this works as a networking tool and is also of benefit to your audience: the blogger you’ve linked to will know you’ve made the link, and your audience will appreciate the extra information.
Adopting more direct in-post marketing tactics can also be successful, such competitions and prizes, to boost your shares in social media and reward your loyal audience. It would be remiss of us not to mention article marketing and syndication but this can often conflict with SEO and should be adopted with care.
Other blog promotion methods include standard off-line business networking, PR and marketing activities such as: conferences, seminars, direct marketing, advertising, links on stationery, flyers, etc. Your blog strategy should weigh up the pros and cons of each, before adopting the methods that will work best for your blog and its specific audience.
Monitoring Return on Investment (ROI)
Ultimately, the purpose behind any business blog strategy is to ensure that your business gets the most from your blogging activities. It can be difficult to gauge a direct return on investment, in terms of financial outlay, as blogging forms such an integral part of many other business activities.
However, it’s possible to report and assess some of the effects of blogging, through blog analytics: visitor numbers, most popular posts, social media mentions, links to your blog, lead conversions, etc. Ensure that your blog strategy includes the analysis of this data. This will enable you to tailor your ongoing blog strategy, to consistently achieve the best for your audience, and your blog.
If you’re struggling with the development or management of a blog strategy, our consultancy services could offer helpful support.