Successful blogs are not random. They are carefully planned and well-executed. Read on for on-point content marketing advice.
As a small business owner, you may find it difficult to decide what types of blog posts would best facilitate your business goals.
There are only so many posts you can write about your services or products before you run out of ideas, and before your readers feel like they’ve been reading one long, boring infomercial.
The key to a successful blog that engages readers and converts them into customers is consistency.
Begin by determining what you want from your blog, and use that information to develop a content strategy.
Create a schedule that focuses on your goals and on delivering content your readers crave.
Make sure each post delivers valuable, enjoyable content, and include a call to action on each post.
Content Marketing Strategy 101
A content marketing strategy is the first step in creating consistency. To be consistent, you have to know what you want to achieve. It’s impossible to describe the right content marketing strategy for your blog because your business and your goals are unique.
However, the method for developing a solid strategy is fairly straightforward.
First, build a case around why providing free content will be good for your business. A positive mindset will help motivate you through the initial phases of blog creation.
Then set up goals you can monitor. You might be looking to increase web traffic by some percentage or attract more social media followers, for example, and these are easy metrics to track.
Determine who your target audience is and what they are looking for, and begin mapping out posts that deliver the goods.
Finally, define your unique selling proposition, how your brand is different from your competitors, and figure out how to communicate it in every post.
Related Article: Why the Company Blog is More Important Than You Think
You Need a Schedule
Once you're clear about what you want to accomplish with your blog, you can begin consistently writing content to meet your goals.
Create a blogging schedule to keep posts focused on your goals and publish frequently and with intent.
There are several ways you can create your blogging schedule. You could use a physical planner dedicated to the blog, but it will probably be easier to communicate with people who are involved in the creation process if you use an online resource.
There are several excellent free scheduling platforms. Google Calendar is well known and allows you to add multiple accounts if more than one person is working on your blog.
Trello may not be as familiar, but the flexibility and access options will blow you away.
If you have minimal experience creating a content schedule, this template from Hubspot will walk you through the steps and help with social media sharing.
Many small business owners field the same questions on a daily or weekly basis. Customers ask for advice before choosing a product or a service so consistently, even new employees can answer from memory.
Start there. Expanding your FAQ answers is a great way to provide value to the people who visit your blog or website.
Providing answers to customer concerns is one category that should definitely be part of your regular topic rotation.
The Anta Plumbing blog offers a great example of how a local business can provide detailed answers to common customer issues.
Far more than the all-too-common litany of company sales pitches thinly disguised as content, their blog is a reliable resource for homeowners to find info about plumbing concerns, where they can learn why problems occur, and when it's time to DIY or call a professional.
Related Article: Get Inspired: The Top 10 Blogs on Sales Management for 2016
Creating Great Posts
Regardless of the topic you are going to be writing about, make sure each post is engaging. Choose a topic targeted to your audience, stay focused on the specific information you are providing, and write in an appropriate style.
Add visual appeal to your post by choosing images that capture the theme of the topic. Plenty of sites allow you to download images for free commercial use.
Images add interest and draw the reader into the story, but only if they are relevant to the subject. Random images are distracting.
Provide relevant data and outside content. Your blog can be a platform for statistics, news stories, or even guest posts from readers or industry experts. How you provide a variety of content is dependent upon your overall strategy and business model.
Keep in mind that the value of adding data-driven resources or a fresh perspective only you can provide can’t be overstated. Curated stories drawn from other sources may be interesting, but it's never original.
Call to Action
The best way to end a post is to include a call-to-action (CTA). The concept is exactly as it sounds, a request for your readers to actively do something. What you want them to do will be based on your overall marketing strategy.
If you have a newsletter, you can encourage them to sign up to stay in touch. Does your company have an active Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account?
Occasionally end posts with a request to join you there to learn more about special offers and promotions. Do you send out coupons to people on your email list?
Add a sign up button at the end of a post offering an introductory coupon.
The goal of adding a CTA at the end of the post is to get readers to come back to your business even after they’ve finished reading the content.
You don’t want to use the same method every time, but you do want to consistently encourage them to engage with you in some way.
This will also give you access to those interested in your products or services in a much more meaningful, and long lasting way, than grabbing their attention with the occasional blog post.
Related Article: Spread the Word: 6 Overlooked Channels to Promote Your Blog Posts
Without a clear CTA, visitors will read and leave without taking the next step. It's your job to guide them through the process.
When you see how much you can accomplish with consistency, it’s easy to understand how inconsistency leads to fewer conversions. If you haven’t determined the purpose of your blog, it’s impossible to develop good content.
If you don’t have a plan for how the content will be delivered, your distribution of posts will be chaotic and leave readers over or under stimulated. And if you aren’t asking your readers to engage with your company, beyond their role as a passive reader, you are not going to see an increase in sales.
Inconsistency in any area will lead to lackluster results from your small business blog. A solid strategy coupled with consistent effort will result in a larger reader base, more consumer interaction, and eventually more sales.