Content marketing comes in many forms, but probably the most familiar is the blog. This is a section on your website (like the one you’re on now) where you get to show what you know and position your business as a leader in its field. When done right, a blog supports your overall marketing plan by building awareness with your target audience and creating engaging, valuable content for your website to draw them in.
A blog can take a lot of effort to maintain, especially if you don’t have a team dedicated to content. Many of our clients have small marketing teams who wear many hats. Take Dan Bardach of airCFO, for instance. He’s a one-man growth team in charge of sales, marketing, website upkeep, newsletters, the content calendar, and – you guessed it – the blog. Dan has to prioritize his time heavily, so he makes a point to ensure the time he invests in the blog will pay off in the long run.
This is exactly why we advise clients who are interested in starting a blog to start with a clear intention about why they are doing it. Set a solid strategy upfront and define what success looks like. That will help make blogging feel less like a chore and more like what it is: a valuable tool to make more people aware that your company exists, so you can convert them into customers.
Who is your blog for?
As with most things in marketing, your first step should be to define your target audience. Who are you trying to reach, and what stories are important to tell them?
airCFO provides scalable accounting solutions for early-stage startup companies. After working with another vendor for about a year to generate blog posts for their website, airCFO hired Roger That for a website rebrand. Part of that process involved analyzing their website traffic and identifying their client personas.
These brand-building exercises showed the airCFO team that their best customer is founders of startup companies and that those founders want in-depth content about the problems they are facing. Dan said that insight changed the trajectory for their blog strategy. It made them realize that they could be writing more bespoke content to bring more value to their target audience.
Now, airCFO’s blog posts are written by members of its client-facing financial team – the people who are doing the day-to-day work with startups.
“We’re going off the hunch that the problems our clients are working through are ones that other start-ups have, too,” Dan said. “We can cement ourselves as subject matter experts in the field.”
With Special Olympics Oregon, for example, we focused our efforts on helping their internal fundraising and marketing team understand the why and how of blogging. We educated them on best practices and gave them the tools they need to do it themselves moving forward.
Why invest in a blog?
Usually, a blog’s role in the overall marketing plan is to build awareness. In order to do that job well, blog content needs to be optimized to draw in natural search traffic. We won’t get into the nuts and bolts of search engine optimization (SEO) today – so for now, just recognize that if nobody knows who you are, they’re not going to magically end up on your website to read your blog post. Your content has to be optimized for discoverability. The key to this is to circle back to your target audience. What are they searching for? You want to write content that will be at the top of the results page when they do.
It’s also important to remember that the purpose of every blog post is to drive someone to action. Getting people to read your content is only the first step. What do you want your audience to do next?
If you’re consistently delivering useful and engaging content, eventually your audience is going to be ripe to convert into customers. Make sure there’s somewhere for them to go. Depending on your overall marketing strategy, the next step may be to offer a lead magnet—something tangible and specific, like a white paper, ebook or webinar, in exchange for marketing consent or a discovery call.
Last but not least, make sure you have a blueprint to define success. Set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based goals – and keep track of your progress. Maybe your goal is to gain 100 new email subscribers per month or to bring in five qualified sales leads by the end of the first quarter. Goals go a long way to get a sense for what’s working and reassure your internal stakeholders – including yourself – that it’s worth the effort.
How do you make time for blogging?
The people who have the knowledge your audience values may not also have the time to write about it. Enlisting the help of a partner allows you to focus your team’s efforts where they’ll make the most impact.
At airCFO, the client-facing financial team generates blog content based on their own wealth of knowledge and experience working with startups. Then Roger That works its magic to turn that content into optimized blog posts.
Another model is to outsource the writing, too – set a content calendar that aligns with your marketing strategy, and hire someone to write about the topics you’ve determined your audience needs to know.
If your team has the bandwidth but not the knowledge to run a successful blog, a partnership based on education may make more sense. With a different Roger That client, for example, we focus our efforts on helping the client’s internal marketing team understand the why and how of blogging. We educate them on best practices and give them the tools they need to do it themselves moving forward.
Whatever that partnership looks like, know that you don’t have to do it alone. Take Dan’s word for it: “If you have the ability to do so, outsource some of the work – whether it be the writing or the optimization – so that you are getting the most out of what you’re doing. Look for that resource and understand that it will pay dividends in the long run if you’re using that resource well.”
Want to attract and win more customers? A blog can be a powerful tool to build awareness of your brand. We’d love to help you start a blog that works. Schedule a free consult call: