Fun Fact #1: 55% of marketers claim that blogging is their top inbound marketing priority. Fun fact #2: These marketers are 13x more likely to see positive ROI than marketers who don’t invest in blogging? Over the past decade or so, businesses have increased their revenue, improved brand awareness, and boosted conversions with valuable written content published for their target audience and customers. The essential element here is that their blog content is valuable. It isn’t enough to simply have a blog – it has to have purpose or reason. This leads one to wonder, how can you create and maintain a successful blog that provides your target personas with worthwhile and high-quality content. Furthermore, how can you build your business’s reputation as an industry thought-leader and expert?
The answer to this query is simple: a rock-solid blog marketing strategy.
Before we dive into how to develop a successful blog marketing strategy, let’s first take a look at how to create a successful blog. The following steps are a vital part of building your blogging strategy – after all, you need to make sure you’re creating effective content before you go out and market it.
Part 1: How to create a successful blog
- Choose a blog topic
- Pick a host
- Register a domain, subdomain, and subdirectory
- Decide who will write and manage your blog
- Write compelling and valuable content
- Design your blog
- Include CTAs
- Determine the frequency at which you’ll share blog posts
- Launch your blog
- Track and analyze your blog’s success
1. Choose a blog topic for your successful blog
The first step you need to take towards creating a successful blog is to figure out your topic. Your topic should be broad enough so that you can write tons (dozens…hundreds…thousands) or articles about it, yet pointed enough to relate it to your business, purpose, niche, or industry.
2. Pick a host
The next step involves selecting a host for your blog. Most would agree that the easiest way to host your blog is to do it through the same software you use to run your website. Another common method to hose your blog is through WordPress. Other popular options include Wix, Bluehost, and Squarespace.
3. Register a domain, subdomain, and subdirectory
Now we need to figure out your blog’s URL structure – this is where a crucial discussion about registering domains, subdomains, and subdirectories comes into play.
A domain name (aka the root domain) is the text in a URL that identifies your website. For example, my domain is AndrewRoche9.com. In an ideal world, I would use AndrewRoche.com, but someone else already claimed it, so I added my college lacrosse number to the end.
Subdomains are part of your root domain. They appear before the domain in your URL like this: blog.andrewroche9.com. “Blog” is the subdomain.
Subdirectories are divisions of your domain that live on your website, but represent specific pages on your website. For instance, a subdirectory that’d take visitors to a specific page on a website would look something like this: andrewroche9.com/blog. A subdirectory that’d take visitors to a specific post would look something like this: andrewroche9.com/marketing/what-is-seo-a-beginners-guide.
The option you select for your blog has the potential to influence your organic ranking which is why it’s important to choose wisely. Let’s take a look at a few of the implications related to your organic ranking with these options.
Subdomains vs. Subdirectories
Subdomains are superb for organizing a lot of content, especially when you have multiple content types. That being said, if you have a large blog operation, this structure can help you over time. However, it does pass less authority from your root domain in the short term.
Subdirectories typically pass more authority from your root domain and subdomain. However, they can make it difficult to scale your content strategy over time since you need more subdirectories to organize your content property and protect your user experience (UX).
4. Decide who will write and manage your successful blog
Now it’s time to consider individual roles – who’s writing, running, and managing your blog? Furthermore, who’s accountable for each role within your overall blog strategy?
There are lots of moving parts when it comes to your blog. If you fail to create ownership around each component, it’ll be challenging to soak up the benefits of a successful blog operation. The following is a list of potential roles that you’ll need to fill in order to successfully implement a blogging strategy. Please note, that depending on your resources and the size of your marketing team, you may find that one person may hold down multiple roles.
- Blog article topic ideation
- Search engine optimization (SEO) & keyword research
- Facts, stats, examples, and personal stories
- Copywriting and editing
- Strategy and editorial calendar governance
- Repurposing and updating
5. Write compelling and valuable content for your successful blog
This step may come across as a given, but it’s important to highlight how critical it is for your blog content to be both compelling and valuable to your audience. This plays a big part in how you’re viewed by your target audience, customers, competitors, and other industry leaders. This is also how you’re going to keep readers engage and loyal to your blog.
Remember, obtaining new readers takes more time and energy than it does to maintain current readers. Furthermore, your current readers have the potential of becoming your brand advocates faster than new readers. That being said, focus on consistently producing content that captivates readers all while providing them with useful and worthwhile information so they stick around for the long run.
6. Design your blog
It is vital that you design your blog in a way that entices your audience to regularly read (and hopefully, share!) your content consistently. You want your blog to look inviting and on-brand. It best be well organized, clean, and easy to navigate. Furthermore, it should also mesh well with your other marketing, branding, and messaging. Your readers should know the blog they’re looking at is published by your company, no matter where, or how they’re reading it.
To do so, choose a theme that will remain consistent (unless your business undergoes a major rebrand and/or change) throughout all of your blog articles. Depending on the host you choose for your blog, you’ll likely have multiple theme options that are both free and paid.
7. Include CTAs throughout your successful blog
Are any of the main reasons you’re constructing your blog to drive organic traffic to your site, improve conversions, and boost sales? If so, great! However, in order to accomplish these goals, you’ll need to incorporate well-placed calls-to-actions (CTAs) throughout your blog posts.
CTAs can be paid or free for your audience members. Either way, effective CTAs provide readers with a level of value that they simply cannot pass up.
A CTA may share in-depth content and information with your audience on a specific topic. They can include a discount code or a special deal o your product or service. A CTA could also provide further training related to the subject of your blog article.
8. Determine the frequency at which you’ll share blog posts
How many blog posts can you honestly commit to publishing? How often are you planning on producing blog content for your audience?
You need to produce blog articles on a regular basis and keep your audience engaged and interested. This allows you to maintain your status as an active thought-leader and expert in your respective industry. To do this, use an editorial calendar to manage and schedule your blog posts.
The benefit of creating this sort of blogging rhythm and sharing information via an editorial calendar is that it creates a sense of accountability among your blog team. It also ensures that all writers and contributors have optimized for keywords, CTAs, and revised their work by a certain time and date. This way, you’ll have a steady stream of content that your readers can get in sync with.
9. Launch your successful blog
Now, it’s finally time to launch your blog! This is the exciting and fulfilling part – you finally get to share the content you’ve been working so hard to develop. Put your blog content on its corresponding landing pages on your website and send your email list of recipients their blog articles. Share it via social media and sent it to members of your network as you see fit.
10. Track and analyze your blog’s success
Don’t forget to track and analyze the overall success of your blog over time. To do this, you need to decide which metrics matter most to you and your business. Once you understand how a specific metric adds to a positive outcome, you’ll be able to make your blogging strategy more target.
A few examples of blogging metrics might include:
- Readers & subscribers
- Pageviews per post
- Overall traffic
When applying these metrics to the goals you’re aiming to set, consider the following questions to provide concrete benchmarks that make sense for your business.
- Does goal X help you achieve your purpose, or is there something more relevant we can aspire to?
- Is this goal aligned with the focus points of other parts of our business?
- Which metrics track the progress towards this goal? Are these metrics complementary or counterintuitive?
Once you figure out which metrics you’re going to use, start by setting goals for a 60-day period. This gives you enough time to see whether your strategy is working and then you can adapt your goals based on the results you observe.
Part 2: Blog Marketing Strategy
Once you’ve found your way through the steps of creating a blog, you can then apply them to create a larger game plan that promotes and markets your content to your target audience.
1. Determine your blog’s purpose
The initial part of establishing your marketing game plan requires you to clearly define your blog’s greater purpose. You determined the topic your blog will be about earlier, but that’s not exactly the same as its purpose.
When thinking about your blog’s purpose, you need to consider the following, “why does this blog exist?”
You need to be able to answer this question in one, well-articulated, defining mission statement.
If you need help articulating your blog’s purpose, consider the following questions:
- What is the greater purpose your company is trying to fulfill?
- What story supports this purpose?
- Who shares your passion for this purpose?
- Is your team aligned with the meaning of this purpose?
2. Always keep your buyer personas at the forefront of your efforts
When writing, managing, and scheduling your blog – or working on anything related to your blog, keep your buyer personas in mind. Your buyer personas are your ideal target customers, or the group of people you aim to sell to.
Ask yourself, “who are our ideal customers?” and “why do they need our product or service?” Once you can answer these questions in detail, you’ll then be able to hammer down your buyer personas.
Once you successfully define your ideal buyer personas, you can then document an in-depth description of who this person is so that you can reference it as your business and blog continue to grow. You should be able to refer to this description every time you write a new blog post.
In doing so, you’ll be able to create content specifically tailored to your target customers’ wants, needs, challenges, and/or pain points. This will also help you turn your blog into a powerful lead conversion tool for your business.
In order to gain a more meaningful understanding of the actions your buyer personas are likely going to take, research the behaviors of your target audience so you can adapt and tailor your blog content to meet their needs in a way that pushes them to convert in some way. To conduct this type of customer research, you can use:
- Q&A forums (ie Quora, Yahoo! Answers, or Fluther)
- Social media (LinkedIn Groups and Twitter Advanced Search)
- Content creation tools within your industry or niche (BuzzSumo or Topsy)
- Other blogs (comments and interactions on blogs similar to yours; your competitors’ blogs)
3. Keep an eye on your competition
Since we’ve brought up your competitor’s blogs, it’s vital that you keep tabs on other thought-leaders in your industry. Your rivals provide insight into what’s working in terms of blog content among your target audience.
Doing so also tells you a bit about what they’re testing out and what you’ll need to accomplish in order to stand out from the crowd and provide your audience with meaningful content they can’t get anywhere else – something unique to your business and your business alone.
Create a list of 5-10 of your closest competitors with blogs you could conduct a content audit on. Make reasonable conclusions about the type of content they share, unique techniques they’ve implemented in their blog, and how they’re doing in terms of ranking of keywords your aim to rank for. Once this is complete, look for gaps in their content and make the most of them! To help you do this you can use tools like QuickSprout, Open Site Explorer by Moz, and SEMRush Competitor Research.
4. Perform SEO and keyword research
When a customer searches a phrase on Google, you want them to find your blog, not a competitor’s. In order to make this happen, you need to set aside some time to research which keywords and phrases your target audience is typing into search engines so that you can include them in your blog posts where they naturally fit.
In simpler terms, you’ll drastically improve your chances of ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) by performing appropriate search engine optimization (SEO) and keyword research prior to drafting your next blog post, and then including those findings in your content.
You can start by generating a list of 5-10 keyword groups that you want to rank for, along with their associated long-tail keywords, in the SERP. It is important to remember that Google’s algorithms are frequently changing to become more intuitive. This means that old tactics, such as keyword stuffing, will ultimately hurt your ranking in the SERP. Instead, your better off drafting copy that engages audience members first and search engines second.
5. Figure out where you’ll distribute your blog content
It is vital that you strategically figure out where you’ll distribute your blog content. You’ve selected a host for your blog already, which means that your content is likely already easily sharable via your website. You can also distribute your content via other platforms, such as social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and online publishing platforms, such as Medium. You can also work with industry leaders, experts, and influencers to share your content on their websites and social profiles.
6. Update and repurpose your content
Creating blog content is time-consuming. This is especially true when your goal is to command authority in your niche with researched, thoughtful, and well-planned posts. This why updating, repurposing and republishing your existing blog content is so valuable. It saves you time and energy but it also allows you to efficiently achieve the results you’re looking for.
You’re likely wondering what I mean by this. Well, look at it this way – ranking in the SERP with a fresh post takes way more time (multiple months at the very least) than an updated post. This means that you’ll see a positive impact sooner if you start repurposing your existing posts rather than solely creating new content.
Audit your blog posts to figure out what you can repurpose and update. You should remove and/or replace outdated content such as statistics, examples, infographics, quotes, product or service details, research, and irrelevant ideas. YOu can also add keywords you’ve determined are missing throughout your research.
7. Promote your blog content
It’s likely safe to say that you want your blog content to be as accessible as humanly possible. In terms of your overall blogging strategy, this refers to your ability to get your content out there so that members of your target audience find, read, and *hopefully* share it.
There are numerous inbound tactics you can use to promote your blog. I’ve touched on a few options above already, but another common form of effective blog promotion involves an influencer marketing strategy.
To begin, identify the key influencers in your niche or industry you want to contact and work with. These should be people your current customers and target audience perceive as credible, trustworthy… and, yes, influential.
As you begin making and managing your influencer connections, remain in regular contact with the ones who are promoting your blog content. Be sure you know what they’re doing to support, share, and promote your blog content and that their tactics meet your business’s standards — you want to ensure they’re representing your brand accurately. After all, you’re likely paying them to promote your content among their audience members.
You can make your relationship with your influencers even stronger by interacting with their content regularly to show your support. For example, if you’re working with an influencer who also has a blog, then go to their blog and read, comment on, and share it (even when the content they’re publishing isn’t necessarily related to your business).
Grow Better With An Effective Blogging Strategy
Growing an influential blog in your niche is a surefire way to nurture your potential customers. By creating regular content that solves the challenges of your readers and fulfills their biggest curiosities, you’ll start to build a vault of trust and advocacy. This will inevitably contribute to the overall success of your business. Start with your purpose — the big why — and slowly unpack the individual levers that will contribute to your blog marketing performance through the steps and strategy we’ve reviewed above.