Blogging is one of the most common marketing activities – and for a whole host of good reasons. It helps to support your reputation in the marketplace, it builds awareness, it showcases your subject matter expertise and it’s a great way to nurture sales leads and your relationships with existing clients. Further, it costs virtually nothing to do (other than some of your time) and you can write about nearly any topic on your mind. Which is why so many firms include blogging in their marketing arsenal.
However, it is still a marketing tactic that needs to be done well… and too many firms are making too many mistakes with it. In this blog post, we’ll explore the six most common mistakes and make recommendations for how to fix them.
#1: What you write about.
Too often, when trying to come up with a topic to blog about, we end up writing about the things we are most interested in and that we are most comfortable with. For example, if you work in a qual shop, your inclination might be to write blog posts about qualitative research methodology.
But here’s the thing. Your readers – clients and prospective clients – simply don’t care! It’s not the research methodology that interest them… it’s what you can do with it and how they’ll benefit.
So, before you sit down to draft a blog post, do this one thing… remember who you’re writing for. Who is the persona you’re imagining reading your post? What interests them? How will they benefit by reading your blog? How can you help them to do their job better? Respond appropriately to those questions and you’ll be on the right track.
#2: Using email marketing to share your blog.
To get as many readers for a new blog post as possible, many firms send out their post in an email. And that’s not the worst thing you can do, but here’s the problem…
Let’s say you embed the entire blog post in an email and send it out (which happens a lot!). A recipient – a buyer or potential buyer – opens your email, reads the blog, and then deletes the email. Done!
Now, instead, imagine that the email only contains the first paragraph of the blog with a call-to-action that reads, “Click here to read the complete article.” The reader clicks on the link, goes to the blog and reads the post. But once she’s done reading, she decides to browse through your website, check out some of the services you offer, read about your team, and maybe even complete the form on the Contact Us page.
And that’s the point… email should be used to drive readers to your blog, which sits on your website. Once they’re on your website, they have the opportunity to look around. Then who knows what might happen.
#3: Your blog structure.
Many firms build their blog as one, long, continuous page… and that’s bad for two big reasons:
- It makes for a lousy user experience with all of that scrolling and scrolling (and scrolling) to get to the post the reader is looking for.
- More importantly, it keeps you from effectively measuring which blog posts are popular and which aren’t.
The better structure is to have a blog ‘homepage’ which shows a snippet of each individual blog. When the reader finds the blog post that interest them, they click on the snippet and are taken to a page with only that blog post on it.
That is, every post has its own page. Now, when promoting a specific blog post via social media or email, the link will take the reader to the page containing only that one post. And because each blog post has its own page, you can measure visitors to that page and, by definition, interest in specific topics.
Using Google Analytics is an easy way to monitor how many times a blog post is read. Assuming you’ve structured your blog properly (see #3 above), just go into your Google Analytics every month (though weekly is better) and track page views.
That’s fine… but then what will you do with that information? For example, let’s say you wrote two blog posts six months ago. Topic A has had 100 views since then… and topic B has had 500 views. Now what?
Here’s my recommendation… write more content related to topic B. Be responsive to the interests of the marketplace and give them what they want. By being responsive, you’re creating numerous opportunities for frequent and helpful touch points, as well as showcasing your expertise in that area.
#5. Promoting your blog post.
There are number of things you can and should do to help get eyeballs on your blog posts, including:
- Promoting them in email
- Promoting them on your company’s LinkedIn profile
- Promoting them on your personal LinkedIn profile
- Encouraging your coworkers to ‘like’ and ‘share’ those posts on their LinkedIn profiles
- Promoting them in your email signature (along with everyone else in the company)
And here’s the secret to really maximize readership… don’t just promote a blog post when it’s first published. Odds are that virtually all of the blog posts that you write are evergreen. That is, they have a shelf life of many months (or more). So, what you write about in January is still relevant in June, for example.
Therefore, promote your posts multiple times over multiple months. For example, promote each blog post in your monthly newsletter over a three-month period. Or, promote a blog post on your LinkedIn profile once or twice a week for 6 to 8 weeks (different days of the week, different times of the day).
#6. Selling with your blog.
One of the best things about blogs that it is that you can write about nearly anything… research methodologies, research applications, trends in market research, trends in the industries you serve, takeaways from the latest conference, your opinion about market research and so on, and so on.
And the intent of all of those topics is to inform, educate, inspire, entertain, serve as a resource, or help someone do their job better. What you don’t see on that list is “sell.”
Yes, of course, most blog posts are implied/subtle sales pitches for your services… but when you use your blog as a blatant sales tool, you hurt the credibility of every blog post you’ve ever written. It gives you a reputation that you really don’t want. So, don’t do it! Don’t overtly sell in the body of your blog posts.
As the saying goes, ‘Seek first to help, then to sell.’
As we said at the beginning of this post… blogging can have a significant impact on your firm – in a lot of different ways. But there are also a lot of ways not to do it right. So, whether you’re just getting started with blogging or have been at it for years, make sure you’re taking care of the little details (the six items above) to achieve the best results possible.