Blogging is one of those pieces in a content marketing strategy that, if you do it right, can give you significant results. It’s pretty much guaranteed to generate an increase in traffic to your website and if your conversion funnel is designed well, an increase in sales. Most marketers have always embraced content, but in the sense of placing their advertisements beside it instead of placing their messages within it.
Lots of businesses are afraid to jump into the publishing world and that’s understandable if you’re unable to make the time commitment. But it’s not that scary when you think about it. Ok, well, maybe it can be, if you aren’t doing it right and are simply selling your product over and over again instead of providing value to your audience. Do it right, and you’ll be seeing a measurable stream of targeted traffic. Do it wrong, and you’ll be blogging for the sake of blogging.
Here are a few types of posts you can add to your blog to ensure you’re doing it right:
Real World References
People read the news to keep up to date with things that are happening right now. It would be very rare to walk into a room and see someone watching re-runs of CNN from 2009 just for entertainment value. People value content that is timely and related to things happening in the world around them at that moment. While there is value in reading old content for nostalgia purposes; people embrace content that is highly relevant to them right now more than anything else.
The idea behind creating blog posts with real world references is based on the concept of reactive storytelling. It’s the intentional integration of a top of mind story or idea with a compelling marketing message that your audiences finds relevant and compelling. For example, when “The Rock” returned to WWE a few years ago, Twitter exploded. Recognizing the opportunity I created a blog post about a few personal branding lessons from the icon.
Recognizing the value of timely stories and timely content, as a blogger, you have an opportunity to use this to your advantage. Follow in the moment trends and hot topics to inspire content ideas for your blog. For example, if you’re in the restaurant business, you could have monitored the web for relevant stories and possibly stumble upon the great syrup robbery in Montreal. Once identifying this story as something you can leverage, a great way to generate traffic and potential press would be a blog post called: “10 Great Recipes for someone with $20Million worth of Syrup”. It’s a story that would be edgy, relevant and most importantly, a story worth sharing.
Industry Valued Content
The folks at KissMetrics (an analytics startup) have a deep understanding of providing value to your target audience. The company offers businesses with analytics software that gives them the answers to key questions that they cant get from simply scanning Google Analytics. Recognizing their target audience as marketers or those who are in charge of marketing within a startup, they release a wide variety of rich content through their blog. Some of the most highly valuable content on their site is their marketing guides as they have developed marketing guides for Quora, Reddit and even Pinterest.
To do this, you need to first identify who you’re talking to. Not every “social media business” needs to actually talk about social media. The folks at Buffer started their blog by providing people with Twitter tips, they then started talking about general social media tips and have now focused on life hacks, productivity and customer happiness. If this tells you anything, it’s that your gut instinct may not be correct at first. You need to share content and identify which pieces of content are the most interesting to your audience. Once you’ve started to see trends, think about whether or not it’s time to pivot your blog and generate content that is valuable to your customers.
If you can provide someone with knowledge they didn’t have before reading your post, you win. The blog posts that are filled with key insights and data that the general public wasn’t aware of before has an increased opportunity to be shared. People love data. Whether it’s data that is heavy or data that is light; if you can provide people with data to support a fact or discredit an common belief you will provide them with content worth sharing.
A great example of a data driven blog is that of the online dating website OKCupid. This blog rose to greatness by sharing content that was provocative and data driven. They filled their posts with insights and visuals while painting a picture of questions that everyone had but never had the answers for with respect to online dating. Some of their most popular data-drive posts include How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get and The REAL ‘Stuff White People Like’.
Infographics are another form of data driven content that can increase your number of readers and visits.
A Look Behind the Curtain
Customers want to know who you are. My dad always said that back in his day, you didn’t go to a barbershop because they had the fanciest advertisements on TV or the biggest billboard; you went because you had a relationship with the barber. Customers want that relationship again. They want to feel a part of your business and have that connection not only with their “sales rep” but also with the rest of the team. It doesn’t have to be a relationship in the sense of “I’m going to text the CEO for coffee” – It’s a relationship in the sense that they have a deep connection to your business.
Creating a blog that provides a glimpse into what’s going on behind the curtain offers transparency. Too often are marketers talking about the importance of being transparent but not actually doing it. The first time I really saw an organization embrace the idea of taking a peak behind the curtain was with the CEO Blog for Zappos. In 2008, the organization was met with a difficult decision and decided to layoff roughly 8% of their staff. The CEO shared the email he sent to all of his staff directly on his blog. The curtain doesn’t get pulled further back than that.
If you are already blogging for your business, you probably are doing so with an editorial calendar and keeping things on brand. But you probably aren’t using all of the tactics such as using reactive storytelling, data-driven posts, or even a TRULY transparent look behind the scenes.
A lot of these tactics won’t work if you do them as “one-offs”, but if you combine all of them you should see a significant increase in traffic to your site and ultimately new customers.
What other types of content can you create that drives attention and leads to sales? Please leave a comment below!