If you know writing a great business blog is part of your job this year, we've got a guide to help you work through the process.
Using a blog for your business website can be a great, cost-effective way to connect with customers,drive traffic and increase brand awareness: but it is not a job you can give to just anyone.
At Identify we come across many small to large businesses that believe someone in their company who is ‘good at writing’ is skilled enough to take on the task of driving this invaluable tool.
However just writing something and putting it online won’t make a blog successful. Creating (and maintaining) one that people actually want to read is an art form that requires time, talent and expertise.
All these factors and more need to be considered:
For a post to be successful, the careful selection of imagery to accompany it is vital. Usually the first thing to grab the reader’s attention, images should complement the text, be relevant and engaging to the audience. Writing a great business blog is jsut as much about presentation as it is about content.
Between writing the post, selecting imagery and scheduling in accompanying social media promotions, there’s very little room to just put up something ad-hoc. Every blog post should be a part of a larger marketing strategy, guided by a comprehensive plan driving towards pre-determined goals, and a good plan takes a great deal of time to do properly.
Most blogs are about the moment and become old news as soon as they are published. The main goal of business blog writing should be that it will become more and more valuable as time goes on. The focus should be on creating something with substance that adds value to readers and establish a business as an authority. Once an arsenal of good, sustainable content is built, it needs to be kept current.
Search engines like fresh content and the more frequently a blog (and by extension, a website) is updated, the more likely that site will climb up search engine rankings and gain visibility with target customers. Everything can be wasted if a frequency that can’t be maintained is chosen.
Blog readers may not be interested in industry jargon or necessarily want to read something that only discusses one brand or product. To kick start, blogs should discuss answers to FAQ in an informal tone with some personality and try to keep sales pitches subtle.
People tend to just scan web content so every word must count. Long posts should be serialised, and big subjects should be broken down. For example a topic like ‘How to get more iron’ could be several posts including ‘Signs you need more iron’, ‘How vegetarians can get more iron, ’10 best iron rich foods’ and ‘How supplements can best boost your iron levels’, just for starters.
Most people who read blogs and articles online don't comment. However more interaction will occur as readership builds, and it is vital that it is ALL acknowledged quickly and positively – it’s good customer service.
Links are the lifeblood of the internet, so to succeed a blog post should be easy for readers to share across multiple channels. The easier it is to share your posts, the easier it is to drive traffic and eventually, potential sales. There is no point writing a great business blog of no one sees it!
When a blog post is promoted across social media channels, it should never happen simultaneously. Readers turn off something they see pushed on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram at the same time. Promotion should be spread (as part of the plan) so it serves as a reminder to read the blog rather than an all-fronts assault.
Measuring blog performance and adjusting accordingly is the best way to gain results. There are stats tools, but at the very least a track of the most successful posts, their subject matter, time of year, week and day they were posted should be kept and analysed. More posts and time will give a clearer
picture of how readers are finding content and which kind they respond to the most so adjustments can be made.
Keywords or phrases in the text and title of blog posts are a simple and effective way of driving traffic to a blog, rather than hoping it will be stumbled upon. Readers are unlikely to be hugely specific in their search engine queries, eg putting in ‘New Zealand Fashion’ rather than ‘Whangaparoa Women’s Fashion Retail’, so expertise are needed to get results and Adwords are recommended.
There is nothing less professional than spelling mistakes or bad grammar in a blog, it undermines authority and quickly turns people away from a post. Everything needs to be double checked by at least two different parties.
So… still think your staff member can juggle all of that? It’s not as simple as it seems! Outsourcing the responsibility to create, plan, optimise, write, promote, interact and analyse your blog content can be a better way to meet your customers' needs and drive sales – for less financial input than you might expect.
Rachel Goodchild is managing director of Identify, a full service marketing agency for small to medium businesses.