13 Tactic Checklist To Drive Blog Leads And Sales

Make Your Blog The Core Of Your Marketing Strategy

13 Tactic Checklist To Drive Blog Leads And SalesI have a beef with the 2016 US Content Trends research.

I don’t get why 100% of marketers don’t use blogs and find them 100% effective.

It’s NOT the researchers but the marketers who responded.

B2B content research shows 81% of marketers use blogs and 59% find them effective. By contrast, B2C content research shows 77% of marketers use blogs and 53% find them effective.

The Problem: Where’s the beef (as in where are the results)? 

As owned media, blogs should be at the core of your marketing strategy including content, social media and search marketing. Blogs generate measurable results in the form of email subscriptions, leads and sales.

LinkedIn’s Jason Miller confided that he viewed the blog as the uncut jewel in LinkedIn’s content offering when he accepted his job. His focus on the blog has yielded measurable results!

By contrast other forms of social media aren’t under your control and your results can disappear if they modify their algorithms.

Caveat: Your blog content can’t be boring, afterthought information. It must be stellar, useful and entertaining.13 Tactic Checklist To Drive Blog Leads And Sales

13 Tactic checklist to drive blog leads and sales

Here’s the secret to make your blog into your business generator.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist

 

Use your blog to power your content engine

Like any type of engine, your content marketing engine needs fuel in the form of blog posts.

1. Qualify your readers

While many bloggers set out to grow the biggest blog possible, the reality is that you need the right audience. You can have an blog audience of 100,000 readers but if they’re not interested in your products and services, they’re not buying from your firm.

Copyblogger’s Brian Clark advises: “Focus on attracting the right audience for your organization.”

You need to build a base of raving fans. For example, Orbit Media’s highly useful blog boasts 10,500 readers. Orbit Media Promotes 10,500 Email Subscribers On Blog

You need to know:

  • Who your best prospects are
  • What their interests are (as they relate to your blog and business)
  • Where they spend their time online including social media
  • When they seek information your business provides
  • Why they need the information

Translation: Create a marketing persona

Actionable Blog Marketing Tip:

  • Write a “Who we’re not a good fit for?” post. Everyone wants to be a member of elite clubs. According to Marcus Sheridan, this is a high converting page on his blog.  Note the contact us call-to-action form?Must write blog post

2. Answer EVERY customer question

Both B2B and B2C prospects seek self-serve content before companies realize that they’re in buying mode. This should be a no brainer way to fill your blog’s editorial calendar.

Marcus Sheridan preaches, “They ask, you answer.” Yet, it’s surprising how many company blogs don’t do this.

If you don’t offer the information prospects actively seek, you’ve lost the sale. They’re on your competitors’ site.

Don’t take my word for it—44% of customers start their product search on Amazon.

Use this checklist of the 5 basic forms of information customers seek.

  1. Product details including photographs and videos.
  2. Answers to customer questions (all of them!)
  3. Product related training to explain how to use it.
  4. Product styling to show your offering in context.
  5. Customer reviews and experiences.

Actionable Blog Marketing Tip:

  • Collect your customer questions from across your organization.
  • Facilitate content creation by having sales and customer service blindcopy marketing (or the blogger) when they answer questions via email. This provides a rough draft.
  • Link to product pages where appropriate. Remember to reassign these links when you change product! Otherwise you may loose potential sales.
  • Link from product pages to your blog posts. This helps buyers get more relevant information.

3. Re-imagine other content efforts

Include at least 1 blog post in every content marketing effort. Even better, plan this post or series of posts to ensure that you can use the same resources.

Jay Baer famously outlined how he converts each piece of content into 8 other pieces of content. (Of course, it helps to have a team to do this for you.)

Larry Kim wrote 3 different articles responding to Buffer’s article on their social media falloff. As a result, he ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th on Google.

Google Search Results For Buffer Article On Their Loss of Social Traffic

Google Search Results For Buffer Article On Their Loss of Social Traffic

Andy Crestodina calls this the “Evil Twin” since you don’t want to get penalized by Google for duplicate content.

Actionable Blog Marketing Tip:

  • Plan blog post content as part of your big content efforts. Don’t wait until you’re finished with the content to think about your blog. It should be a key method for distributing your content.
  • Provide new insights for your blog readers. Ann Handley always writes at least 1 blog post from the presentations she gives. Example cutting room floor.

    Example of How Ann Handley Transforms Presentations Into Blog Posts

    Example of How Ann Handley Transforms Presentations Into Blog Posts

  • Live blog your (or other people’s) events. Quality live blogging captures the content and adds commentary. It’s an art form that Lee Odden and his team (including Ashley Zeckman) learned to do well. At a minimum, require employees who attend events to write a roundup post of what they learned.
    Live Blogging Example On TopRank Blog

4. Distribute other content via your blog

At its core, a blog is a CMS that distributes many forms of content.

Add visual interest to your blog with photos, infographics, presentations and webinars. People see images 60,000 times faster than text!

Use your blog to alert your blog audience to your other on-going content. Mike Stelzner has a regular podcast on Social Media Examiner every Friday and Jay Baer used his blog to expand his Jay Today videos.

Mike Stelznedr fills the Friday blog spot in Social Media Examiner's editorial calendar

Mike Stelznedr fills the Friday blog spot in Social Media Examiner’s editorial calendar

Actionable Blog Marketing Tip:

  • Add another on-going content format to your blog. This helps expand your audience. According to Pat Flynn, his podcast added 25% of his new readers. In part, this is due to promotion on other platforms such as YouTube and Stitcher. Also, people may prefer content in other formats.
  • Optimize the nontext content for findability. Add relevant, keyword rich text.

5. Spotlight key people in your niche

Get guest bloggers or interviews to provide deeper knowledge than you have internally. This is a great way to tap into other people’s audiences since they often promote it. Podcasts are a great way to accomplish this.

Actionable Marketing Guide does this with an author interview.

Actionable Marketing Guide - Author Interview with Ardath Albee

Actionable Marketing Guide – Author Interview with Ardath Albee

Actionable Blog Marketing Tip:

  • Plan ahead. This type of blog content can’t be done the night before. It requires work in terms of outreach and scheduling.
  • Provide related resources. You have to do a lot of behind the scenes work.

6. Curate other people’s content

This doesn’t mean copy other people’s content. (Here are more details on how to curate content.) Rather you must select, organize and comment on the information.

An easy way to fill your blog editorial calendar is to have a weekly update of the week’s key events related to your field or a selection of the best articles. This makes a useful Saturday post.

Ana Hoffman does a Weekly Roundup and moves her discussion to Google+.  Take note of Ana’s graphic and formatting.

Ana Hoffman's Weekly Marketing Skinny - Example of Content Curation Column

Ana Hoffman’s Weekly Marketing Skinny – Example of Content Curation Column

Roundup posts are a more in-depth version of content curation.  Here’s an example on Actionable Marketing Guide showing you 28 ways to improve your content marketing.Co-create Content

Actionable Blog Marketing Tips:

  • Create a regular column with an established format. This makes your content easier to create. Where appropriate use technology to help you select your information.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist

 

Sex up your blog content to attract attention and shares

Blog content requires more than just writing the content. The reality is that if your content isn’t visually tantalizing, it won’t get read.

7. Hook readers at first glance.

In a content rich world, readers are surprisingly effective at finding the information they want.

Your key tools to catch their attention:

  • Headlines to make them want more information
  • Images to appeal to them quickly without text
  • Social shares to show proof that the content is worth reading.

Actionable Blog Marketing Tips:

  • Spend a significant amount of time on your headlines. Upworthy recommends at crafting least 25 choices.

    Upworthy Title Commandment: Thou Shalt Write 25 Titles

    Upworthy Title Commandment: Thou Shalt Write 25 Titles

  • Skip the stock photos. Instead use color and the unexpected to lure readers in. (Here’s an analysis of the photo research) Specifically:
    1. Show people.
    2. Use human-scale space.
    3. Skip landscapes.
  • Make social sharing easy. Place shares at the top and bottom of the article. Readers won’t scroll back up to share it.

8. Format your blog posts for readability

Getting potential readers to stop at your blog is the first step to getting them to read it. This is a challenge for all bloggers. It’s especially hard if you’ve got a business blog.

You must yank that reader in by the shoulders (figuratively, not literally).

Use every tool at your disposal to get and keep them. Here are 7 blog formatting tips to help you. (Here’s more detailed information to dress your content for success.)

  • Facilitate scanning with headlines, subheads and outlining.
  • Bullet key points and make them stand out with bolding.
  • Add examples, especially with visuals. Don’t forget the captions. People read them!
  • Aim for an 8th grade reading level. (This is based on research.) Think small words over business jargon or complex terms.US Reading Level Chart
  • Use good grammar and spelling. This is particularly important if you’ve got a business blog. Do you want to look unprofessional?
  • Keep paragraphs to 4 lines. You want to make your content to look visually easy-to-read.
  • Pay attention to your fonts and typesize. People over 40 wear reading glasses.

BTW–Here’s how to launch a successful business blog.

Actionable Blog Marketing Tips:

  • Get an editor. Blog content is professionally produced information. Check that it makes sense. Social Media Examiner has a formal editorial process.
  • Align your blog post format with your brand. Ensure that your blog supports your brand efforts.

9. Focus each blog post on a long tail keyword.

Don’t just write about whatever happens to move you.

Integrate your blog post plan into your keyword process. Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodia writes every blog post to rank for a long tail keyword. This doesn’t happen by accident.

Plan your blog content so that it supports your business by answering prospects’ questions and being findable.

Search is content findability safety school.

Actionable Blog Marketing Tips:

  • Place the keyword in your blog post URL.
  • Use a plugin like Yoast SEO to help your search efforts.

10. Update existing blog posts where appropriate.

Where appropriate reformat and enhance existing blog content.

Buffer decided to leverage a top performing column by creating a new infographic. They then went back and added a notice to the older post to let readers know about the infographic.

Updated Older Blog Content To Help Readers - Buffer Example

Updated Older Blog Content To Help Readers – Buffer Example

Actionable Blog Marketing Tips:

  • Make your blog part of an annual content audit. This ensures the information contained remains current and useful. Doing this supports your search efforts.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist

 

Get your blog readers to close the sale

After you prime your blog to attract readers, you need to get them to take the next step.

11. Give readers a reason to say yes

Most people will need an incentive to register for your email list or purchase for the first time.

Entice them with special content.

The key: The content has value to them. When I was at The Economist, the managing director couldn’t understand why our newsletter did so well because it was repurposed content. It had value to our readers!!! 

Actionable Blog Marketing Tips:

  • Look for opportunities to repackage existing information. Reformat content so that it’s appealing.
  • Test different types of content. See what works best for your audience.

12. Use a call-to-action

Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs research revealed that 12% of B2B content doesn’t have a call-to-action! What a missed opportunity.

Calls-to-action in B2B Content - 2016 Chart

Calls-to-action in B2B Content – 2016 Chart

At a minimum, think like Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi – use your blog to build your email list. Content Marketing Institute’s email list growth has been impressive. They use it as social proof to encourage non-subscribers to join. Key Templates for Content Marketing, Social Media, Influencer PlanningEmail registration-call to action for Content Marketing Institute

Use more than one call-to-action but don’t give readers too many options or they won’t act. It’s the paradox of choice.

Don’t jump to push a reader to purchase since it may be more than they’re willing to commit to.

Do have a way to allow them to ask questions. BUT make sure you respond to them in a timely manner.

Actionable Blog Marketing Tips:

  • Limit the amount of information you request. Ask too much and you’ll reduce your results. I had a client who increased the information requested from 4 pieces to 18 and their list numbers plummeted.
  • Use tools to help. Among the options are Hello Bar and OptinMonster.

13. Keep your leads warm

Don’t get people to register and then forget about them.

Support your blog creation process by asking new subscribers what their painpoints are.

Actionable Blog Marketing Tips:

  • Create a welcome email series. Known by her first name and cartoon drawings Henneke does a great job with her email series. It’s a set of short content that she sends over 2 to 3 weeks. Examine where you have key information for new readers.Henneke Duistermaat's Welcome Email Series dubbed Free Training
  • Send a list of key posts. New readers may not be familiar with your older content. Give it visibility.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist

 

Put your blog at the center of your marketing strategy to support your content, social media and search results.

Use these 13 tactics to help maximize your results.

What else would you add to this blog checklist and why?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on , Facebook and .

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/avlxyz/4449496577/

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