Blogging without a strategy: it’s probably the most common mistake I see companies make in their online communications.
Ok, your blog has an editorial calendar. That’s a start, but unless you know how each post in that calendar feeds the company’s business objectives, do you really have a strategy?
Blogging is seen as an essential part on online communications. But in my experience, few businesses truly think through why they are blogging in the first place.
They blog because they’ve been told they need to do so. They blog because they’ve been told it’s good for SEO. And – perhaps the biggest mistake – they blog because they’ve been told “a successful blog needs four posts a month (or a week or whatever)…” The blog is viewed as an online magazine that absolutely has to have 4, 6, 8 pieces of content per month. Hurry up! We’ve got to get the next issue out the door!
That mindset makes companies race to produce content, without a clear idea of why they’re doing so. They’ve hired a team of writers, all of whom work hard to produce posts. But the writers are left to figure out content on their own without a bigger plan, and the monthly quota of posts drives all decisions.
The result? Everyone in the boat is paddling furiously, but we’re not getting closer to shore.
So let’s figure out a strategy for your blog.
Some Ways a Blog Can Fail
First, it’s good to know what not to do. Check the list below and tell me if your team is making any of these mistakes.
- Blogging without a promotion plan. You should spend as much time promoting your blog post as you do writing it. Promotion can mean an email blast. It can mean content amplification via paid social. It can mean SEO and a bit of patience. But the post won’t promote itself. You need to think how you can drive traffic to it. And, no, it won’t go viral. Not unless you have a plan to make that happen.
- Blogging for SEO without a keyword strategy. “Blogging is good for SEO,” or at least that’s what they tell you. In truth, not every blog topic ties cleanly to a search keyword. If the blog’s job is to drive search engine traffic, your editorial calendar needs begin with a keyword analysis that drives your topics. Get your SEO in the same room with your writers and start a dialog.
- Local businesses / national strategy. Blogging, by and large, is a national strategy. If your business serves a local or regional market, you may find the blog generating a lot of empty traffic.We recently began supporting a New York private investigation firm that had a large blog with hundreds of posts. Some of those posts ranked nationally for high traffic keywords, and five blog posts accounted for 80% of website traffic.
The problem was that the blog generated almost no business for the client because most readers were outside of NYC. Okay, 6% of readers were located in metro New York, but that translated into a trickle of relevant traffic. If your local business is in New York, visits from California are empty traffic.
- Blogging without a conversion strategy. Someone reads your post, how do you turn them into a customer? I’m sorry to say, but telling a client that your post had 5,000 views doesn’t excite them. Telling them it generated 5 leads is exciting. That won’t happen unless you work to seal the deal. One way or another, your blog needs to ask for the sale.
Yes, popups are annoying, especially when they appear too soon. But they do work. If you don’t like popups, come up with an alternative. Either embed a CTA in your post or at the very least tag visitors with a retargeting cookie.
Fair warning: you’ll be seeing a popup in a second…
How a Blog Can Succeed
- Understand why you are blogging. You may be blogging to power SEO, or to feed social media or to support a drip campaign. Those three things are very different, and call for different topics, different writing styles and different success metrics.
If you are blogging to support social media, then your audience should be drive your content decisions. Maybe you want to energize brand evangelists with details about your products. Maybe you want to help customer support by answering frequent questions. Either way, your engagement metrics should tell you if your posts are working.
If you blog to support drip campaigns, then each post should be designed to influence awareness, interest or consideration and your email metrics should measure whether a post is doing its job.
- Focus on quality, not quantity of posts. Forget about your monthly quota of posts.
- Promote good posts over a longer period of time. Stop thinking of blog posts as content with a short shelf life. Think of each post as a long-term marketing asset. If a post draws traffic, measure engagement and see how you can improve it. Update successful posts and make them better.
And above all, stop thinking of the blog as a magazine and start thinking of it as a repository of strong content that can be used again and again through different marketing channels.