Ingredients needed for a kickass business blog – Part 1
Before we get started with this blog, I want to answer a basic question that I get asked pretty often – “So what’s the big deal about business blogging?”
The big deal about a business blog is that it’s a great asset to have for any business. It gives the two most important things that any business craves for – inbound traffic and leads. That apart, it adds to your brand value and is correlated to better business results.
But hey wait. Business blogging is not just setting up a blog, filling it in with anything that you want to and waiting for the magic to happen. It requires nurturing, regular postings, some really good content, careful optimization, and a dose of promotion. Also, it would be good to remember that a blog is a long term strategy and not something that happens overnight. Be willing to invest it in and your business will definitely reap the rewards.
Through this two-part series on business blogging, we shall walk you through a couple of fundamental points and best practices about how to write your business blog so you can start reaping the advantages of this great asset.
1. Giving it a human voice
The most crucial thing about any blog is its human voice. Corporate blogs, which are generally hosted on the newsroom microsite or media or pressroom page of any company’s official website, can generally be distinguished from the rest of the website by nature of the content. While the rest of the webpages might contain plain, business-like language and information, setting the tone for the company in general, with blogs you can have a slightly free hand. Your tone can be informal, for a change.
The blog page is where you can actually let some of your creative juices flow. Talk about personal experiences, inside stories, individual accounts – anything that will attach a human angle to the staccato business your company is associated with. The personal touch that your content posts on the page is to let the reader know that the company is real and human.
No matter what your product or service is, servicing the consumer or interacting with him or her is usually considered a critical aspect of any business plan. So, keep your ideal consumers in mind while writing the blog and ‘talk’ to them. Give them the feeling that you know them, understand them, and only want to help them.
For example, in our blog (the Justwords blog), the writer shares her own point of view about how to make editing or proof reading easier for any writer. By talking about her own problems regarding the task, she gives it a human voice and brings the content on a rather boring topic closer to the reader. Here is a quick read.
2. Plan your content right
What should we write on?
Welcome to the most commonest problem any business blogging team faces. Our recommendation here would be –
a. Understand what your consumer wants to know most about your product or service
Listen to conversations that the sales or marketing teams have with clients. That should give you a ready list of questions consumers ask about your business’s products.
What is that they want to know, what is it that they want to be solved, what kind of information are they seeking?
Jot down all those points and you should have a list of topics that people want to hear about your business/product/service/industry.
For eg, the Hero Fincorp blog, the team talks about common issues that customers face while talking a two-wheeler loan in India. The idea is not to blankly sell one’s products (in this case two-wheeler loans) but to help the reader with his pain points. In return, you get a loyal follower and maybe even a customer.
b. Get the team involved
It’s always a good idea to get the whole team involved with the content planning process. Seek out opinions from different departments, understand what they are thinking about the business products and brainstorm together. Often different departments look at the same product in a different way and that gives a lot of variety to the ideation process. If you are a small company, create a simple Google sheet for blog ideas and ask everyone to put in their ideas whenever they think of something. Bounce those off the editorial team and see which one works.
Sometimes, it might be a good idea to just curate a really good piece of content with your company’s view point on it. For eg, if Moz, Content Marketing Institute, HubSpot, Copyblogger brings out a really stunning piece of study which entails a whole lot of data points, we make sure we write a piece on that. Just make sure you are lending some additional value to what is already been said and offering your opinion.
d. Highlights and customer success stories
If the customer’s pain points do not fit into your plan, then there are other topics you can try. You can talk about anything from company highlights (this could be a particular achievement of your company in the last quarter or maybe a year) to customer success stories (this could be the account of a particular case in which a customer has found tangible benefits from the solution that your company’s product or service had offered them).
Your reader will associate the positive results recounted in such blog posts with positivity and faith in your product or service, and that goes a long way in turning a blog into a traffic-drawing tool.
Remember, the success of a corporate blog lies in catering to what your ideal consumer wants to know more about. Only, this can convert mere interest in your business to an actual sale, which in turn will lead to a loyal following or relationship with the ideal customer – the ultimate goal of most corporate houses.
For example, check out how Adobe markets the success stories it has had with its various customers through its popular corporate blog. They talk about how companies like NetApp, Motorola, and others improve their own businesses, boost sales, and save millions, resulting from the use of Adobe solutions.
e. Surveys, polls, comparison, debates, questions
Your ideal reader would be generally interested in surveys that your company has conducted or polls that you have taken, regarding a product your company has launched or an idea that your company is toying with. You could compare a particular product manufactured by your company with another, similar product manufactured by your company or another.
You could also utilize the blog to drum up a controversial topic, relevant to your business. Talking about controversies make your company seem human – another customer booster. Disagree with a popular opinion maybe and throw that topic up for debate – the more intense the debate, the more eyeballs on your blog, and higher the chances of your customer’s interest converting into leads and sales.
You could also pose questions for your readers-customers to answer – maybe it is something about a particular demographic that you are wondering about before you market your product, just ask the question in an interesting blog and let your content trigger enough curiosity that will lead your reader to answer your question, and voila! You will have what you need!
For example, check out this blog post from Fitbit, the company known for its popular fitness trackers. Here, the entire topic of their blog is one question which they know for certain pertains to the interests of their ideal consumer. And they address just that point in their blog. Read it here.
Image Source: Fitbit Blog
f. Industry secrets and company mistakes
Curious people always like to know more. So, give them exactly that. You can try talking to them about secrets of the industry, giving them a behind the scenes, human approach to products or services that they take for granted as automatic, magical, or fantastic.
For example, check out this series of blog posts from Disney Parks. We associate Disney with the Magic Kingdom, a place where fantasies come true. Disney does a wonderful job at giving their customers a peak into that magical world, by showing them how real people help to make that magic. This they get done in the series they call ‘Behind the scenes’. Read one such post here.
Another topic that usually attracts all kinds of readers is the discussion about company blunders. This could be a mistake that your company has recently made and your blog would be just the right platform to acknowledge your mistake (remember, everyone likes to read about other people’s blunders and a blog on this, on behalf of the company, also helps associate a human voice or human touch to the bland, official face of any business).
For example, look at this Flickr blog, with quite a riveting headline. Here, right at the very beginning, they confess. They talk about their mistake and obviously, their readers will not only forgive them, but also think that this is an honest company to have business relations with, as they are not hiding behind logic, rules, or a stoic corporate façade. Check this out right here.
3. Promoting your blog
Blogs cannot exist alone in the blogosphere. Which means that you have to make conscious efforts to promote them. Be it sharing on social networks or through events, be it via email signatures or posts on blog directories, there are many ways to get people to take notice of your business blog.
a. Promoting on social media networks
Social media rules the world these days. So, to get your message out there, you have to find ways to get your foot in the social media door. Try promoting your blog, among other platforms, on the most popular ones, such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+. There are some dos and don’ts regarding social media sharing, keep those in mind while you post, in order to garner more shares.
For example, though Facebook allows over 6000 characters per post, make sure the main part of your post ends earlier, as Facebook truncates posts at 400 for your cell phones and at 477 for your computers.
For Twitter, make sure your post tells a story within 70-100 characters, though you are allowed 140. This is because you should be able to give the person who is sharing your Tweet some shoulder room to add his or her two bits about the Tweet. While on Facebook seems to like symbols like ‘!’, ‘?’, and ‘#’, it is always a good practice to limit your hashtags to two for each Tweet.
For promotion on Google+ and Linkedin, make sure to include links to your corporate blog in your industry and customer circles and groups, respectively. The most important issue with both these social media platforms is that you need to keep engaged with the other users, take part in dialogues and conversations, and comment on other people’s posts.
Follow Linkedin Influencers and make sure you have for yourself Google Authorship to influence others online, help build your community and a visual bond with your posts. If you do not have your niche circle or group, then create those yourself and share your great content!
This Facebook page of Google Chrome has some nifty links to various Chrome blogs. Similarly, you can check their Twitter account too.
b. Promoting with your email signature
There is a lot of power in each email you send out, even with the signature, so it is prudent to harness the complete power of the same. Make sure to add the link to your blog post or other resources in your blog at the end of your email, maybe as part of your signature. It might sound unrealistic, but a lot of traffic can make its way to your blog by way of the signature promotion!
c. Promoting at events
If you are promoting your business in general at any event, you will definitely be talking about everything good about your company. Make sure you mention your blog and share links to the same. An easy way to do it is to have a QR code, which will make it easier for people to subscribe to your blog and share it, thereby pulling more traffic!
d. Hosting a contest
Though it might sound childish, you will be surprised to know how hooked most people get to the idea of a contest. With or without prizes, most people look for the kick that they can get from having answered correctly or guessed correctly. The message to their egos is prize enough! So, another great way to promote your blog is by running a competition related to your blog. Ask them a question relevant to the topic you have written about or ask them to identify an image related to your blog, and you will be able to attract a lot of traffic!
Running a business blog is not easy. It requires expertise and patience and time to reach the desired audience through your company blog and make them listen to you. It does take effort to make that happen, but when it does happen, a business blog can impact your ROI like no other tool.
If you have been running your business blog without many results, you are probably going wrong somewhere with either your content or your promotion strategy. Try the above pointers to tweak your content strategy and watch your traffic grow.
In Part 2 of this blog, we will be dealing with ways to optimize your business blog to attract the search engines. We will look at how to use keywords and meta descriptions should be used in the content, what kind of images and videos to use and how to actually write a corporate blog. So that’s a wrap on business blogging Part 1. We hope to catch you soon in the next part of this blog.
What techniques have you used to draw traffic to your business blog? We would love to know.
Here are three more blogs you can read
- How to write for the distracted modern reader: 15 ways to master that
- A Fail-Proof 10-Step Guide to Good Content
- A Master Chef who has the perfect recipe for Content Marketing
Or you can download our free eEbook here.